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CNN LATE EDITION WITH WOLF BLITZER

Interviews With Senators Kyl, Hutchison, Feinstein and Casey

Aired June 8, 2008 - 11:00   ET

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


WOLF BLITZER, HOST: This is LATE EDITION, the last word in Sunday talk.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BARACK OBAMA, D-ILL.: I can stand here and say that I will be the Democratic nominee for the president of United States.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, R-ARIZ.: No matter who wins this election, direction of this country is going to change dramatically.

BLITZER: The general election campaign begins. We'll assess Barack Obama and John McCain on the struggling U.S. economy, the war in Iraq and tensions with Iran with four key members of the United States Senate.

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, D-N.Y.: You'll always find me on the front lines of democracy.

BLITZER: Hillary Clinton exits the race. What went wrong with her campaign? And what is in her political future? Clinton campaign communications director Howard Wolfson weighs in.

Also, insight and analysis on a dramatic historic primary season. And a look ahead to the general election with three of the best political team on television.

Is Pakistan's embattled president Pervez Musharraf preparing to step down? And is Pakistan doing everything they can to find Osama bin Laden? Answers from Pakistan's new ambassador of the United States, Husain Haqqani.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Any time I found that the Iraqis were developing weapons of mass destruction, they wouldn't exist anymore.

BLITZER: Ten years of LATE EDITION. My January 2000 interview with then Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush. The first hour of LATE EDITION begins right now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: It's 11:00 a.m. here in Washington, 8:00 a.m. in Los Angeles and 6 p.m. in Baghdad. Wherever you're watching from around the world, thanks very much for joining us for LATE EDITION.

The U.S. general election campaign between John McCain and Barack Obama is now officially under way amid the backdrop of an unpopular war in Iraq, record gas prices, a spike in unemployment and an ailing economy that is the number one issue with American voters.

Joining us now to talk about all this and more two guests, Republican senator, the minority whip in the U.S. Senate, Jon Kyl of Arizona. He, of course, is supporting John McCain. And Democratic Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania. He was an early and strong supporter of Senator Barack Obama. Senators, thanks to both of you very much for joining us.

KYL: You're welcome.

BLITZER: Let me begin with you, Senator Casey and play a clip of what Hillary Clinton said yesterday in announcing she was effectively ending her bid for the White House and endorsing Barack Obama. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: The way to continue our fight now, to accomplish the goal for which we stand is to take our energy, our passion, our strength and do all we can to help elect Barack Obama the next president of the United States.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Some of the pundits out there, Senator Casey, say she was very gracious, magnanimous and gave a full endorsement. Others say it was less than that. What do you say?

CASEY: Wolf, I think it was a very strong statement. I think Senator Clinton helped our party take a substantial step forward to unity. It's going to take a while to achieve the kind of full unity that we need. But I think it was a very strong statement.

I think it showed what we've known about her for years, her leadership skills, her ability to focus on the objective here which is a very simple choice -- whether or not America will change course or whether or not we'll stay on the same path. I think with Senator McCain, what we're seeing is a third term for President Bush. I don't think people are going to vote that way. But we're going to continue to try to work together to unify our party. I think we'll win in November.

BLITZER: You know, there are a lot of supporters of Hillary Clinton, Senator Casey, who remain deeply agitated, deeply angry. They say they don't like the way she was treated during this campaign. There was an element of sexism out there. And there's a significant percentage out there, a significant percentage at least right now that say they're going to either support McCain or not going to vote at all but are not going to vote for Barack Obama. How worried are you about that considerable element of the Democratic Party right now?

CASEY: Well Wolf, after a tough primary, when you have two very strong candidates, a historic campaign and historic turnout and the kind of competitive nature of it, you're going to have people who are feeling hurt at the end of it. That is understandable. That is human.

But I do think that we can bring people together. It's not going to happen with one speech or one day. We all have to work at it. Elected officials like me and the candidates across the country. I think we can do, but we have to recognize that some people have gone through a difficult process and we have to reach out a hand of understanding and let people work their way through this.

But I think at the end of the day, we're going to come together because I think most people in America, Democrat, Republican and Independent don't want to elect someone who's been voting with President Bush 95 percent of the time which is the case for Senator McCain, at least in 2007.

BLITZER: Senator Kyl, your candidate, Senator McCain, your colleague from Arizona is going to face a formidable challenger in Barack Obama. I want you to listen to what former Senator Bob Kerrey, Democrat of Nebraska, said in "The New York Times" today. He said this. He said, "The hard truth is that from the moment Mr. Obama announced his candidacy in Springfield, Illinois on February 10, 2007, Mrs. Clinton was facing a candidate with greater skills than any candidate."

Arguably the best political orator out there, Senator Kyl, right now since Ronald Reagan. How worried are you that Senator McCain would be able to do what Senator Clinton failed to do?

KYL: Well, William Jennings Bryant was the greater orator of his time, but I don't recall that he was ever elected president. It's true that Senator Obama has great oratorical skills. But he has sufficient deficiencies. The primary one of course is inexperience.

My biggest concern about his inexperience is that it's unleavened with any humility at all. He speaks in very positive terms about things of which he knows very little. For example, when he said that he would meet without precondition, the leaders of terrorist nations, he didn't just stop there. He went on to say that it was a disgrace that President Bush had not done so. This is the kind of thing that worries people who think seriously about the kind of security threats that we're going to be facing over the next four years.

BLITZER: Let me play a clip of what Senator McCain says, Senator Casey, said on that specific point. I'll get you to respond. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KYL: Senator Obama repeatedly stated his commitment to meeting with the president of Iran who specifically asked and said he would meet without any preconditions. It shows a naivete and a lack of experience that Americans will make a judgment about.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: All right, Senator Casey, go ahead. CASEY: Wolf, I think this primary campaign has shown a lot of things about the character and the leadership skills and the experience that Senator Obama has already brought to this campaign. He is going to be a commander-in-chief who keeps all options on the table. And I think it's interesting that the Republicans have spent weeks now, months trying to criticize Senator Obama for the way he would approach other nations and other leaders.

He's been very clear about his understanding of the threat that Iran poses to the international community, the threat that they pose because they're trying to enrich uranium to develop a nuclear weapon. He understands that. He also understands you have to keep all options on the table.

But here's the Republican Party where the president, President Bush, whose own administration is meeting with Iran with regard to our policy in Iraq. So don't tell us that this administration supported 95 percent of the time by John McCain is not meeting with Iran.

It doesn't pass the hysterical laughter test. They say one thing and do another. I think Senator Obama has shown why he's going to be a very strong and very successful commander-in-chief.

BLITZER: Senator Kyl, go ahead.

KYL: Let me respond to that. Of course, the first point was to criticize President Bush for not being willing to meet with Iran when they finally found out that, of course, people in the administration, particularly the state department at lower levels were meeting with Iranian officials. Then they had to change the tune.

Senator Casey now says, of course they're meeting with Iran. But there's a big difference between the president meeting without conditions in his first year and having lower level people meeting with people in the Iranian government to criticize them and lay down markers about what the United States is prepared to do in the event that the Iranians don't stop their nuclear weapon program and don't stop training and supplying terrorists in Iraq who are killing American soldiers.

Again, all of this shows a shift in position by Obama. First he would meet. Now he says he would not meet unconditionally. First he said Iran was a tiny threat, now he says it's a serious threat. First he says he believes that Jerusalem should be the undivided capital of Jerusalem, now his campaign puts out a statement saying, well no, he didn't exactly mean that. He clearly doesn't have the experience to be the commander-in-chief.

BLITZER: All right. Go ahead Senator Kyl -- excuse me, Senator Casey.

CASEY: Wolf, let me respond to my friend Jon Kyl who is a very articulate spokesman for Senator McCain's side of the argument here. But I'll tell you, when President Bush and his administration has worked to meet with Gadhafi and has worked and met with war leaders all over, this idea that Senator Obama has changed his position is just not true. CASEY: Here's the fact. Iran is stronger, after seven years -- almost eight years, now, of the Bush administration. Iran is in a lot stronger position today than it was when President Bush came into office.

So whose Iran policy has brought this country into a position where we're in a safer position, right now?

I think Senator McCain should be very clear and tell the American people how he's going to be different than President Bush...

BLITZER: All right...

CASEY: ... instead of the kind of blind support he's been giving this administration on a war without end in Iraq, the tax cuts for wealthy Americans in a time of war, all of that.

BLITZER: Let me play a clip, Senator Kyl, for you. Obama, on Wednesday, spoke at that pro-Israel lobby and conference, the APAC conference, here in Washington.

And he sought to clarify his position on negotiating, on sitting down with leaders, including leaders in Iran. This is clip number five. And I want to play it for you right now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Contrary to the claims of some, I have no interest in sitting down with our adversaries just for the sake of talking. But as president of the United States, I would be willing to lead tough and principle diplomacy, with the appropriate Iranian leaders, at a time and place of my choosing, if and only if it can advance the interests of the United States.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: All right. Senator Kyl, what's wrong with that?

(LAUGHTER)

KYL: Well, of course, that is precisely what President Bush is doing. It's his position. It's Senator McCain's position. That's the responsible way to articulate the position. But that's different from what Senator Obama has said on repeated occasions.

During the debate, last year, with Senator Clinton, the question was asked, would you meet, without preconditions, with the leaders of these terrorist states, in your first year? He said, "I would."

And then he goes on, and as I said, he concluded his remarks by saying, "And I think it is a disgrace that we have not spoken to them."

Now, if that's his view, then he must believe that the conditions that he said, now, "only if such meeting advances the interests of the United States," his most recent statement -- he must think that it's a disgrace that we haven't done so, so far, so that president should be meeting with Ahmadinejad of Iran.

That's just ludicrous. These are people who are killing American troops, whose training and weapons are killing American troops in Iraq.

BLITZER: I think we have that exact clip, of the question that was asked of Senator Obama at that CNN YouTube debate, and his answer -- if we have it, let's play it right now.

We don't have that clip right now, but...

KYL: Well, I just read it accurately.

(LAUGHTER)

BLITZER: Well, there was one little nuance that wasn't precisely accurate, Senator Kyl. The question was, would you be willing to meet with these leaders of Iran and North Korea and these other countries, without preconditions, during the first year of your presidency?

And what Obama supporters are now saying is the word "willing" suggests it doesn't necessarily mean he would, but he would be willing, under the right circumstances.

That's how they're parsing that question and answer. But go ahead...

KYL: Good one.

BLITZER: ... and respond.

KYL: Well, good luck.

(APPLAUSE)

I mean, he's backtracked on so many different things.

Again, it wouldn't be so bad if a person without experience would say, look, I shouldn't have said it quite that way in that debate.

Instead, what he's done is he's made a mantra out of it: the Bush administration should be meeting with these people; John McCain should be wiling to meet with these people.

And, of course, when the whole thing finally caught up with him and he couldn't sustain it any longer, then he says, well, of course, I would set conditions and all of that, as well.

That's why I say it's not just the inexperience that concerns me. It's unleavened by any degree of humility. And that's dangerous. As John Kennedy himself acknowledged when he met with Khrushchev, Khrushchev, kind of, ate his lunch at the first debate that they had, and Kennedy said, I'll never do that again; I'm going to be prepared next time.

BLITZER: All right. We're going to take a break, but I want Senator Casey to respond.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Hold on a second. Senator Casey, go ahead.

CASEY: Wolf, look, listening to Jon, as a spokesman for Senator McCain, it's as if the McCain campaign would reject the tactics and the strategy used by Ronald Reagan, the first George Bush, John F. Kennedy, go down the list.

So I think that this is a rather new approach to foreign policy that John McCain apparently is espousing, which is, you don't talk to anyone at any time, and you just act tough and hope it works out.

If that were the case, why did the Bush administration begin to send Mr. Hill from the Department of State to deal with North Korea?

We finally made progress because they engaged in diplomacy. Thank God they did. But I'm a little worried about John McCain's approach to foreign policy, if it's going to be as articulated by Jon Kyl.

But, Senator Casey...

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Hold on a second.

The argument isn't about low-level diplomats having these kinds of discussions with North Korea or Iran or Libya or other countries.

The argument that Senator McCain is making; Senator Kyl, we're hearing it right now, is making, is that it's one thing for low-level American diplomats to be engaged in these conversations; it's another thing for the president of the United States to be, in effect, elevating these leaders, these other leaders by sitting down with them.

And go ahead and respond to that, and then we'll take a break.

CASEY: I think Senator Obama was very clear about the way he would do this, to use this as a tactic -- it's not an end in and of itself -- and to set conditions for how do you that, as the commander in chief.

He's been very clear about that. BLITZER: All right, guys, stand by, because we have much more to talk about.

We're going to continue our conversation with Senator Kyl, Senator Casey. We'll get their take on the ailing U.S. economy, its impact on the presidential campaign. Right now, there are serious differences between McCain and Obama when it comes to the economy, tax cuts, trade, a lot of other issues. We'll discuss that and more.

You're watching "Late Edition," the last word in Sunday talk.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: Welcome back to "Late Edition." I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington.

Coming up, by the way, in our next hour, we'll be speaking live with Senators Dianne Feinstein and Kay Bailey Hutchison about this historic presidential primary that has just ended and what means for the future of female presidential candidates out there.

We'll also get Senator Feinstein's eyewitness account of that secret Clinton-Obama meeting that she hosted at her home here in Washington Thursday night. That's coming up in our next hour. Stand by for that.

Right now, though, we're continuing our conversation with Republican Senator Jon Kyl and Democratic Senator Bob Casey.

Senator Kyl, let me start with you this time and play a little clip of what the Senator Obama says is all wrong about not only the Bush but the McCain strategy in Iraq. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: It's not change when he promises to continue a policy in Iraq that asks everything of our brave men and women in uniform and nothing of politicians...

(APPLAUSE)

... a policy where all we look for are reasons to stay in Iraq, while we spend billions of dollars a month on a war that isn't making the American people any safer.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BLITZER: And adding to that, Senator Kyl, this picture. We just got it in from Tehran, the Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki showing up once again and meeting with the Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. These two guys seem to have a very, very good relationship. The argument that the Obama camp makes is that Iran has emerged as we just heard from Senator Casey as the big winner in the region. Not necessarily the U.S. I want you to respond to what the allegations are against the McCain strategy.

KYL: Where to start? First of all, President Obama should meet with Ahmadinejad. But Maliki, his next door neighbor, should not. I guess that is point one. Point two, Iraq is being attacked by Iranian revolutionary guard corps, Al Quds force. They train, they supply very powerful weapons against our soldiers there. And it is -- that is why, one of the two main reasons why Iran is such a strong force in the region and an enemy of the United States.

We would not be stronger, as Obama suggests, if we left Iraq. We would be much weaker and the Iranians would have a better ability to come into Iraq and exert their influence. Our presence there is one of the things that is holding the Iranians back. So when -- the point here is Obama voted against the support for the troops. And he said that he would withdraw the troops within 16 months. That was last year. Just think what would happen if we were, say, half or two- thirds of the way withdrawing our troops out of Iraq today. Where would the Iranians be? They certainly won't be just sitting on the sidelines saying isn't that wonderful?

BLITZER: All right, Senator Casey? Go ahead.

CASEY: Wolf, what Senator Obama has said consistently is that we should begin a process of redeploying in a reasonable and responsible way. Everyone knows, anyone who knows anything about military tactics and the way you do this, you can do it in a reasonable, responsible way.

The principal reason for that is to tell the Iraqis that we're leaving. That it's up to them to take over the fight. This is a wholly different fight than we have for example in Afghanistan where I was recently, where the Afghan fighters are tough, committed fighters. And they're willing to take on the responsibility.

Iraq, we've seen a continuing problem with the Iraqi leadership to get political reforms done and to make progress governmentally. But also for the Iraqi troops to take on the responsibility to govern their own country and for the troops to fight their own battles.

We've got to give them a clear signal that we can't stay in a war without end. I think Senator Obama is reflecting a lot of the feeling of the American people that we've got to change course here because Iraq is making it harder for our fight in Afghanistan, a battle we must win against the terrorists. And also making it very difficult for our policy on Iran as well.

BLITZER: Let's turn to issue number one for American voters right now. And they say in all of the polls that issue is the economy right now. Senator McCain is really going after Senator Obama who he says just simply wants big government, more taxes and wants to take over the health care industry, a federal takeover of health care. Listen to this point, Senator Casey, that Senator McCain makes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN: I'm surprised that a young man has bought into so many failed ideas. Like others before him, he seems to think that government is the answer to every problem.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: All right, Senator Casey, does he?

CASEY: Wolf, that's the oldest, most tired Republican argument. I know we're going to hear that again over and over again. But here's the reality. Senator McCain is the one candidate in this race who voted against -- against the children's health insurance legislation which would have covered 10 million American children. It got overwhelming Republican and Democratic support in the Senate and the House.

So he's the one on health care who is really out of step with the American people. And I think on the economy, so far, at least, Senator McCain has shown no ability to show leadership on the economy. His proposals on housing, it's the same warmed over rhetoric and ideas that President Bush has talked about. It's the same policy on tax cuts. Give billions to wealthy people at a time of war and economic crisis. It's the same Bush policy. I guess that's why he's voted with him 95 percent of the time.

BLITZER: Senator Kyl, some of the critics of Senator McCain say he's out of touch right now with what's going on in the economy. Today we heard from the AAA that price of a gallon of gas is now $4 a gallon here in the United States and many parts of the country it's even higher. That's the average. Here's what Senator McCain said the other day in Florida when he was down in Florida. I'm going to play this little clip for you.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN: I have a fundamental belief that I have a great belief that the fundamentals of our economy are very strong, very strong.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BLITZER: All right. Now he's being criticized for that because, as you know, a lot of people are suffering right now since January 1st, some 350,000 jobs have been lost. How do you defend that? What do you say?

KYL: Could I just go back to the children's health insurance? The reason both Senator McCain and I voted against that is because it was typical of the Democrats. They didn't want to leave it at insuring children. They decided to insure a bunch of adults as well. And that's where we drew the line and said no, keep it to children.

With regard to this, Secretary Paulson has made the same point that the fundamentals of our economy are much stronger than the critics have suggested. For example, it now appears that we are not going to be in a recession and have not been because we've not ever -- we haven't had one quarter of negative growth let alone two.

Now does that mean that people aren't suffering? No? At $4 a gallon for gasoline, you have got a huge problem. And there is a problem in the housing market as well. And higher fuel prices are driving prices for commodities that have to be transported such as food, for example.

But that's a different question than the fundamentals of the economy. In that area, there are a lot of things that can be done. And the one biggest problem to having an adequate supply of oil for gasoline which is the reason why the prices are so high is that over and over and over again Democrats have said this is off limits to production. You can't do it in the deep waters the gulf. You can't do it off our shore. You can't do it in Alaska. You can't do it in the oil shale of Colorado. We're the third largest producer of crude oil. We could be number one if we could just remove some of the constraints from production.

BLITZER: We just had a little appetizer on this debate that's about to take place as this general election campaign begins. I want to thank both of the senators for coming in. I'd like to already invite both of you to come back in the coming weeks and months because we're going to continue this conversation. Senator Casey, Senator Kyl, thanks to both of you for joining us today.

CASEY: Thank you, Wolf.

KYL: Thank you.

BLITZER: Hillary Clinton is taking some well-deserved time off. But few expect her to rest for very long. Just ahead, I'll ask one of her closest advisers what is next for the senator from New York?

And how is the 2008 race for the White House shaping up against past presidential elections? The conservative columnist and author George Will has some interesting observations as he always does. My interview with him and a lot more LATE EDITION, right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: How does Barack Obama versus John McCain compare to past presidential candidates? The columnist and author George Will sized up the race with the White House when I spoke with him this week in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GEORGE WILL, COLUMNIST: This is the first time in American history two sitting senators have run against one another. This will be only the third time in American history, Harding in '20, Kennedy in '60 that we've elected a sitting member of the Senate. There are those differences.

But below those differences which are almost cosmetic, this is a classic American election, an identifiable liberal, an identifiable conservative. The liberal says America is too unfair because it is too -- the allocation of wealth and opportunity is done by a market that is imperfect. The conservatives saying market is a lot better than government at this. The conservatives saying we stress freedom. We'll accept a certain widening in equality in the name of freedom. The liberals saying we prefer to stress equality and are willing to circumscribe freedom somewhat; classic liberal conservative election. We have two parties for a reason.

BLITZER: You also have John McCain at least seemingly running away from the eight year of George W. Bush.

WILL: Sprint, sprinting away. I mean his speech in New Orleans the night Barack Obama made his triumphal speech in St. Paul was, I'm not George Bush for the following reasons and I certainly wish Barack Obama would quit saying I'm running for a third Bush term, which indicates that Obama's got under his skin. (END VIDEO CLIP) BLITZER: George Will speaking with me earlier in the week in THE SITUATION ROOM. Coming up next, Hillary Clinton's big exit. Why did her presidential bid fall short? We'll talk about it. The Clinton communication's director Howard Wolfson, he's here live. LATE EDITION continues right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION. This time last year, Hillary Clinton was considered the inevitable Democratic presidential nominee. But today, she finds herself out of the race after losing a long primary battle to Barack Obama. Let's discuss. Joining us now is Howard Wolfson, he was the communications director for the Clinton campaign. You're no longer the communications -- the campaign is over with. Is that effectively done?

WOLFSON: Well you know, yesterday Senator Clinton gave a very full throated, enthusiastic endorsement of Senator Obama. She exhorted people like me and the 18 million Americans who voted for her to get out and vote for Senator Obama to get out and vote for Senator Obama, to work for him, to give money to him. She knows the stakes are high and we need to do what we can to elect a Democrat.

BLITZER: So have you handed in your BlackBerry, your cell phone, you're moving on. Howard Wolfson, is that happening?

WOLFSON: I'm looking forward to a summer of some relaxation. I'll miss talking to you on a daily basis. But I'm going enjoy talking to my family more.

BLITZER: Well will you listen to Senator Clinton and get out there and enthusiastically try to get Barack Obama elected president?

WOLFSON: No question. I think that the stakes are too high. I think that everything that Senator Clinton has fought for her whole life will not be realized unless we elect Barack Obama. She said very eloquently, Wolf, that in the last 40 years we've had two Democratic presidents, three Democrats -- three Democratic winning elections. Think of all the progress that we could have made if we elected more Democrats during that period? We can't squander this opportunity. We all have to get out there and work for Senator Obama.

BLITZER: So if the Obama campaign asked Howard Wolfson, you know, you did an excellent job for Hillary Clinton over the past year and a half, we would like you to join our staff. Is that something you'd be open to?

WOLFSON: You know, I think the Obama campaign did a pretty good job of running their campaign. They've got an excellent team over there. I'm looking forward to spending the summer with my family.

BLITZER: They can always use some help.

WOLFSON: I think they did a pretty good job.

BLITZER: Here's the poll that we did, CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll back in October of last year among registered Democrats, their choice for president. Hillary Clinton was at 51 percent, Barack Obama was at 21 percent, 30-point spread, 15 percent for Edwards, 4 percent for Richardson. What happened?

WOLFSON: You know, there's going to be a lot of time to discuss and hash over what happened in the campaign. There are obviously things that we would have done differently. I think there are a lot of things that went well. I saw a crowd yesterday of thousands of people who were inspired by Senator Clinton. I brought my 3-year- old daughter there. I think there are a lot of people who recognize that the possibility of electing the first woman president was very inspiring. I think a lot of people came out and voted for her because they believe that she was a champion of the middle class.

So there are things that we would have done differently. We obviously wanted to get her the nomination. But there are a lot of things we did well. And I think Senator Clinton said it very well, Wolf, when she said, you know, we can all go back and look at what we've done. The important thing is to look forward and elect Barack Obama.

BLITZER: You've got to learn from mistakes, though.

WOLFSON: Well, I think Barack Obama did a pretty good job of learning from whatever mistakes we made. And if his campaign wants to study ours and see what we did right and wrong, I'm sure they're going to do that. But right now, Senator Clinton's focus and our focus needs to be on electing him.

BLITZER: She gave a strong speech yesterday.

WOLFSON: She did.

BLITZER: Here in Washington. I'm going to play this little clip for you. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: Although we weren't able to shatter that highest, hardest glass ceiling this time, thanks to you, it's got about 18 million cracks in it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Some of the pundits immediately said this was a speech that she really focused in on the historic opportunity for women, to breakthrough that final -- that final glass ceiling, if you will.

But she didn't really focus that much over the many months on the fact she would have been the first woman president of the United States. Was that a mistake looking back? Because it does have a powerful resonance out there, the historic nature of that which she seemed to want to avoid just as Barack Obama in all of his public statements seemed to avoid the fact he would be the first African- American president of the United States.

WOLFSON: Well, I'm not sure I totally agree, Wolf, with the characterization. She did talk during the campaign about the fact she would be the first.

BLITZER: She never really stressed it that much.

WOLFSON: It didn't seem to hurt our ability to get the votes of women who were Senator Clinton's strongest supporters. We overwhelmingly won the woman's vote in this race.

BLITZER: The white women's vote.

WOLFSON: The white women's vote and Latinas as well.

BLITZER: Not the African-Americans?

WOLFSON: African-Americans as a whole tended to vote for Senator Obama in overwhelming numbers, a great credit to him. But white women and Latinas did vote overwhelmingly for Senator Clinton, over 60 percent. So they clearly were energized by the possibility of electing the first woman. And I think they were also energized by somebody who empathized and understood their lives and their concerns.

BLITZER: Doug Wilder, the former governor of Virginia, the mayor of Richmond writes in today's "New York Times" this. And he was an Obama supporter. "Hillary Clinton's campaign was done in by a sense of entitlement and hubris. There is no greater evidence of that than the fact that three days after the final two primaries last Tuesday in the campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, she had yet to gratefully acknowledge her defeat.

BLITZER: By waiting so long, she threatened her future stature within the Democratic Party."

Two questions out of that, why didn't she do Tuesday night what she did yesterday?

WOLFSON: You know, Wolf, I know we live in the minute by minute media culture. I think it's a little unrealistic and frankly unfair to expect somebody who's been running for president for 18 months and has done as well as Senator Clinton did -- was winning states in the last several months by 30, you know, 40 points to on the last day of the primary immediately come out and give a concession speech.

I just don't think that's the way people work. And I don't think that's a fair expectation. But let's focus on the speech they gave yesterday.

BLITZER: Hold on a second. The second point he makes, by waiting so long she threatened her future stature within the Democratic Party. What do you see as her future? As her future not only in the Democratic Party but in politics?

WOLFSON: You know this is a woman who first began working to elect Democratic presidents in 1968. She went to New Hampshire and knocked on doors for Gene McCarthy. She has been committed to public service, committed to making the lives of Americans better, especially children for a very long time.

She's been a powerful advocate. I think that this race has only enhanced her stature. She comes away as well as Senator Obama did with 18 million votes of her own. She comes away as a champion. People see her as a fighter for them. She is on her side.

So I think she goes back to the Senate. She continues her work on behalf of the people of New York. I know her well. She loves being a senator for the people of New York. She's going to continue to fight for the causes that have animated her whole life and she'll be successful at it.

BLITZER: I've spoken to a lot of her most ardent supporters, even within the past 24 hours. And they say some of them who are really feeling hurt right now, sad, the only way they would vote for Barack Obama is if he would ask her to be his running mate. Is that likely? What do you see happening on that front?

WOLFSON: Well, let me say a couple things. One, I can understand that people are sad. I'm sad. There are a lot of people who put their whole lives into this for a long time. But I think when people reflect on what's at stake, they're going to realize that our choice is clear and we need to work and vote.

BLITZER: Should she be the running mate?

WOLFSON: You know, she has said and she said this during the campaign, that is solely Senator Obama's decision. He needs to make the best decision for him based on whatever he thinks he needs to do to get elected and govern.

Senator Clinton said she will do whatever she is asked to do to elect Barack Obama. She's not seeking the job and it is Senator Obama's decision, solely his decision.

BLITZER: Howard Wolfson, enjoy a few days off then you've got to get back to work. Appreciate it very much.

WOLFSON: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Good luck.

WOLFSON: Thank you.

BLITZER: Coming up, there's been talk that Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf may actually step down. The Pakistani ambassador to the United States, he standing by live here. We're going to talk about what's going on in Pakistan. I'll also ask him about the hunt for Osama bin Laden. Stay with us. LATE EDITION continues right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION. Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger served two presidents, safe to say he's given advice to others. He spoke to my colleague Fareed Zakaria about how the candidates should be preparing themselves to deal right now with a very complex and dangerous world. Listen to this --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HENRY KISSINGER, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: A lot of statesmanship is to find a party position between stagnation and overextension. Hopefully at the outer limit of what is possible. But it cannot be done if you let yourself be threatened by theories of tactical decisions without some perception of what you're trying to bring about.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: You can watch Fareed's full interview with Henry Kissinger right after LATE EDITION at 1:00 p.m. Eastern. Fareed Zakaria GPS that airs right after our show. Just ahead, there is deep concern a key U.S. ally isn't doing enough to fight al Qaeda. The Pakistani ambassador of the United States, Husain Haqqani, he's here. He's going to tell us where things stand and what is going on right now, the implications enormous. LATE EDITION continues right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: We're standing by to speak live with Senators Dianne Feinstein and Kay Bailey Hutchison. We'll get Senator Feinstein's eyewitness account of that secret meeting between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, Thursday night at her house. That's coming up shortly. They're both standing by live.

First though, some important news out of Afghanistan. The first lady, Laura Bush, made a surprise stop in the country today. During her nine-hour visit, she met with the Afghani president, Hamid Karzai, as well as U.S. troops and Afghan women who are training to become police officers.

Terrorism remains a major problem for Afghanistan, as well as its neighbor Pakistan. Husain Haqqani is Pakistan's brand new ambassador to the United States. He just presented his credentials to President Bush this week.

Mr. Ambassador, thanks very much for coming in.

HAQQANI: Pleasure being here, Wolf.

BLITZER: Your president, President Musharraf, spoke out yesterday. And amid all these rumors he's thinking of stepping down, leaving the country, he said this -- he said, "I am not tendering resignation now. I don't have a house outside of Pakistan, and I don't want one."

What's going on with the president, Pervez Musharraf?

You've been -- obviously, in your earlier life -- quite critical of him.

HAQQANI: Well, February 18th, Pakistanis went to the polls. Pakistanis repudiated him and his policies, at least the domestic ones.

He is still president. Pakistan's new parliament, under the constitution, will take care of the matter. They will decide what to do about President Musharraf and what to do about all aspects of policy in Pakistan. BLITZER: You were a close ally of the late Benazir Bhutto, the former prime minister of Pakistan. What do you think Pakistan should do with President Musharraf? HAQQANI: I think that the theme of Benazir Bhutto was always reconciliation. I don't think that General Musharraf should be pushed out. I think, at the same time, General Musharraf also needs to show statesmanship. Pakistanis need to come together.

We have big problems, economic problems and, above all, the problem of terrorism, which Ms. Bhutto felt very strongly about.

So I think the time has come for a negotiated settlement about restoring Pakistan's constitution and allowing the political processes to continue.

BLITZER: Do you believe -- and you've studied this about as closely as anyone -- that Osama bin Laden is hiding out in those tribal areas in Pakistan along the border with Afghanistan?

HAQQANI: Wolf, if I knew Osama bin Laden was, I would collect the $50 million reward on his head.

The point is there has been tremendous failure in chasing after Osama bin Laden since Tora Bora. An opportunity was missed then. And after that, the Pakistani intelligence service, the Afghan intelligence service, and the U.S. intelligence service haven't shared intelligence the way they should.

Once they're able to do that; once all the doubts about each other are out of the way, I'm sure we will get to Osama bin Laden, whether in Afghanistan or in Pakistan's tribal areas.

BLITZER: Are you suggesting that the U.S. intelligence community is not helping Pakistan enough in going forward in this hunt, that they're not sharing information with your intelligence or military services?

HAQQANI: I'm suggesting no such thing, Wolf. All I'm saying is that there has to be real-time cooperation between the intelligence services of the United States, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. And that alone will get Osama bin Laden and all his cohorts.

BLITZER: You know, there's an election going on in this country right now. I'm sure you're familiar with that.

Senator Barack Obama said this last August -- last summer. I want to play this little clip for you.

HAQQANI: Sure.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: There are terrorists holed up in those mountains who murdered 3,000 Americans. They are plotting to strike again. It was a terrible mistake to fail to act, when we had a chance to take out an Al Qaida leadership meeting in 2005. If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terror targets, and President Musharraf will not act, we will.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: All right. And President Bush, as you know, has said exactly the same thing. What do you say?

HAQQANI: I say that the government of Pakistan, the new elected government of Pakistan that has, as its conviction, an opposition to terrorism -- we went to the polls asking the people to work for us because we oppose terrorism. We lost our leader, Benazir Bhutto, in the process, to terrorism.

Therefore, we are committed to acting on actionable intelligence ourselves. The moment we have actionable intelligence, Pakistan will act, in partnership with the United States, in partnership with Afghanistan.

BLITZER: But, as you know, there are elements of the Pakistani intelligence service, even the Pakistani military, that the U.S. doesn't trust, right now, to give you that kind of sensitive information, for fear it would wind up in the wrong hands.

You're familiar with that concern that the U.S. government has?

HAQQANI: And my job, Wolf, is to reassure the United States that there's a new sheriff in town, in Islamabad, and that that sheriff wants to work with the United States, cooperatively and with conviction, a firm commitment to ending terrorism in all its forms and making sure that Pakistan and Afghanistan and the United States are all partners in the war against terror.

BLITZER: Here's John McCain, speaking last January on this very same subject. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN: We know that Pakistan is now a very dangerous situation, and why, because Pakistan is nuclear armed; because there's a threat of radical Islamic extremism; and more importantly, it's right next to Afghanistan, where we have thousands and thousands of brave young Americans in harm's way.

My friends, I can tell you that the Taliban are not defeated.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: All right. What would you tell Senator McCain, right now, if you had the chance, about this new government in Pakistan and your commitment to finally getting the job done?

HAQQANI: Well, the most important thing is that no strategy was formulated to fight terror, after 9/11, in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

We are in the process of formulating a strategy. You started your show with a comment about having various tactical moves, Henry Kissinger remarking that various tactical moves are not a strategy. We want to fight terrorism in the political dimension, the military dimension, intelligence, socioeconomic, as well as an ideological dimension.

And because we have the support of the people, I think we will succeed far better than a government that had to use its intelligence services to chase after political opponents.

BLITZER: One of the preeminent Pakistani journalists, Ahmed Rashid, wrote in The Washington Post, on Friday -- and I'm sure you saw the piece.

He wrote this. He said, "General Ashfaq Kiyani, chief of the Pakistani army, has told U.S. military and NATO officials that he will not retrain or reequip troops to fight the counterinsurgency war the Americans are demanding on Pakistan's mountainous western border."

And Rashid went on to write, "More than 80 percent of the $10 billion in U.S. aid to Pakistan since the September 11 attacks has gone to the military; much of it has been used to buy expensive weapons systems for the Indian front rather than the smaller items needed for counterinsurgency."

Is he right?

HAQQANI: He is not absolutely right. The fact remains that Pakistan's military does consider India to be the primary threat, and that's a historic reality.

But, at the same time, the Pakistani military has put in many, many people in the Afghan front, in the tribal areas. The new government is trying to create a new counterterrorism, with U.S. support, and we are training the frontier constabulary, which is a paramilitary force, primarily to fight terror in the tribal areas.

BLITZER: Husain Haqqani is the new Pakistani ambassador to Washington. Mr. Ambassador, welcome. Good to have you here. Thanks very much for coming in.

HAQQANI: Thank you very much, Wolf.

BLITZER: We hope you'll be a frequent visitor.

HAQQANI: I hope so, too.

BLITZER: Next, Senators Dianne Feinstein and Kay Bailey Hutchison -- they're standing by, live. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: This is LATE EDITION, the last word in Sunday talk.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN: We have to address threats in a far more collective and maybe even a more humble fashion. OBAMA: As president of the United States, I would be willing to lead tough and principled diplomacy with the appropriate Iranian leaders.

BLITZER: John McCain and Barack Obama begin the general election campaign. Who's stronger on national security? Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein and Republican Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison weigh in.

CLINTON: Today I am standing with Senator Obama to stay, yes, we can.

BLITZER: Hillary Clinton backed Barack Obama after a long and bitterly fought primary battle. Is it enough to unify the Democratic party? We'll get assessments from three of the best political team on television.

Plus, a decade of LATE EDITION. A look back at my January 2000 interview with then Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush. LATE EDITION's second hour begins right now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Welcome back to the second hour of LATE EDITION.

Hillary Clinton has suspended her campaign and the general election campaign has now begun. So let's run through the issues with two key senators from both parties. Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, was a strong supporter of Hillary Clinton. She's now standing behind Barack Obama. And a strong backer of John McCain, Republican Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas. She's here as well. Her name has often been floated a possible vice presidential running mate, but we'll discuss that and more. Thanks to both of you senators for coming in.

Senator Feinstein, let me start with you because you hosted a secret meeting at your home in Washington between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. How did that come about? FEINSTEIN: Well, let me say this. It was meant to be a secret meeting, it didn't quite end up.

BLITZER: Nothing ever stays secret for long, as you know.

FEINSTEIN: I had talked with both of them. Senator Obama was very gracious. He said, look, I will meet with Senator Clinton anywhere, any time wherever she wants me to go. And I mentioned that to Hillary. She said, well, there's nowhere I can go without having to make a press statement directly leaving and that's hard right now. So I said, well if you'd like to use the house which is private, you certainly can. She said, well let me think about it. And then Thursday night she called --

BLITZER: What time did she call you?

FEINSTEIN: I think around 6:00 and said, can we come over? And I said, sure, what time? She said, well, it's about 8:30, I'll be there around 8:00. We was, she sat and talked. We heard -- BLITZER: Just the two of you?

FEINSTEIN: Senator Obama was delayed and he came about 9:00. I have two easy chairs in front of the fireplace where I put them. I said what can I get you to drink? I've got California wine and they said water. So I poured water and said, I'll see you later and went upstairs and worked.

And then at the end of I heard Barack calling Diane and they were both laughing. I thought that was a very good sign and they left. And that was it. And I thought that each had one staffer that was in the study and that was it. And I thought, how wonderful that they had a chance just to be alone to kind of feel each other with respect to where they were and it was a good thing.

BLITZER: Did they give you a debrief, did either of them say, you know what, we talked about this or that?

FEINSTEIN: No, and I didn't ask.

BLITZER: You didn't think it was appropriate?

FEINSTEIN: No. I thought they're entitled to this.

BLITZER: And just water, that's it? Because I've been to your house and you've served me a lot more than just water when I've been to your house.

FEINSTEIN: It was just water.

BLITZER: No coffee cake, no nothing?

FEINSTEIN: No, nothing.

BLITZER: It's an interesting phenomenon the whole Barack Obama -- you know, you've been in the Senate for a long time. What do you think about him as the challenger for John McCain? Because he managed to beat Hillary Clinton which is not an easy challenge at all and he's going to be a formidable candidate obviously going forward?

HUTCHISON: Oh, absolutely he will be formidable. I think that he ran a great race, disciplined and really terrific. However, the Democratic primary is not the general election. Now I think the differences in the issues which were not really that great between him and Senator Clinton will be very, very stark between him and Senator McCain. So the people of America are going to have a clear choice.

BLITZER: Here's what he said on Thursday in Virginia. Senator Obama, we'll play this little clip.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: I'm a better candidate because of the work she did and she deserves our honor and our respect and our gratitude. And my two daughters see themselves differently because she ran for president of the United States of America. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Was there an element, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, of sexism that hurt her in this race?

HUTCHISON: I think it is very difficult for women to run in a big race. Dianne and I have both done it and we have known the subtle discrimination. She had it on a bigger level. I don't think it was the death mill for the campaign because I think you had two people running that both had discrimination. He had it. She had it. Different types, but they both had it. And so I think they both overcame a great deal. But is it something to overcome? Yes.

BLITZER: Was she treated -- and you were a supporter, a major supporter of her -- was she treated unfairly because she's a woman?

FEINSTEIN: Well first of all, I very much agree with what Kay just said.

But secondly, I think if you look at the pundits, if you read the columns and go back and read them, some of them were really in my view, malicious, very personal and venal sometimes. And I have a hard time understanding why that was necessary.

So I think there was that element added to it. But I think now we're in a whole new world. It is a historic ticket and as Kay said, the differences are going to become well known. And I think clearly if you want change, real change, systemic change, restoring America's credibility abroad, doing things differently, stopping torture, closing Guantanamo, beginning to work for the common defense in terms of the infrastructure of this country, health care and on and on, a different energy policy.

BLITZER: We're going to get to those issues, but I want to wrap up on the whole issue of sexism and women. Here's how Senator Clinton phrased it yesterday in her speech. Listen to this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: It will be unremarkable for a woman to win primary state victories. Unremarkable to have a woman in a close race to be our nominee, unremarkable to think that a woman can be the president of the United States. And that is truly remarkable my friends.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: She did break through some barriers for future women who are presidential candidates.

HUTCHISON: Yes, she did. She absolutely did and so did Barack Obama. I think it has been an incredible ear for breaking down barriers and now I think everyone will be able to focus on the issues. The issues are going to be clear choices and the other thing is Senator McCain has said he wants to run on the issues. He doesn't want all this sleazy, dirty politics that we have seen in previous campaigns for president and he challenged Barack Obama to town hall meetings to attend town hall meeting. BLITZER: Should he pick a woman to be his running mate, Senator McCain?

HUTCHISON: You know, I think having a woman on the ticket would be fabulous. I think he has a number of good choices. love Meg Whitman. I love Carly Fiorina. I think they would add dynamite to the ticket. But I also there's some great governors like Pawlenty, Crist are both mentioned, I think very prominently. So I think -- and I think Mitt Romney is terrific and he's a person who could step in.

BLITZER: What about Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison?

HUTCHISON: Well, I think he has other choices that match very well with him. And I'm looking at all of those as real potentials.

BLITZER: I don't hear a no, but we don't hear a yes. I'm not going to press you on that because we've got a long time to go presumably before Senator McCain makes up his mind. But your name has been mentioned, you know that?

HUTCHISON: Oh, I know it has. But I think he has a lot of really good choices. I like the idea of looking to someone like a Meg Whitman or a Carly Fiorina one of strong governors or Mitt Romney. I think all of them add a lot of impetus to our campaign.

BLITZER: Our Candy Crowley sat down with Senator Barack Obama this week and asked about what the Democrats, at least some Democrats call their dream ticket, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Listen to what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Senator Clinton would be on anybody's short list. I'm a big believer in making decisions well, not making them fast and not responding to pressure. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Should he ask her to be his running mate?

FEINSTEIN: In my view, if you're asking me just my opinion?

BLITZER: Yes, what does Senator Diane Feinstein think?

FEINSTEIN: I believe he should. I think there are 18 million cracks in the glass ceiling that say, yes, do it. I think Hillary had something that is a bit unusual. She has a very committed woman constituency, female constituency right now. She has proved herself. She has grown in the campaign. She has some constituencies that he needs.

Now that's not to say he can't get them with others. He can. And he can get them with himself. But it's such a natural to put these two together and to move on and then to go into what Kay says, the issues which are out there and they are big and they are major. And as I look at it, America stands at the point of crisis. It's either more of the same or we change.

BLITZER: You know both of these senators, Senator Obama and Senator Clinton.

FEINSTEIN: Yes.

BLITZER: We know that their staffs have been bitterly divided, obviously. That is understandable. But what is the nature of their personal relationship based on what you know?

FEINSTEIN: Well, I'll tell you as I see Senator Obama. He is a truly nice man. He has no big ego. He has no arrogance. He is very easy with people. My view is that he on himself could have a very good relationship. Now staffs are always different. They're more ideologic. They're more I guess sensitive on certain points that candidates or principles move across. So I can't really answer that.

I do know this. I know that nobody cares more about this ticket winning than Hillary actually. I know no one has put in more energy and effort into a campaign. I mean, I think everybody would say it's been truly amazing to watch her on that campaign trail. And I know she cares deeply about the issues that are involved.

So she will do whatever they ask her to do and she will do it fully and wholeheartedly. It's just -- it's such a natural merger at this point in the race.

BLITZER: How strong of a ticket would that be? And you you're a good Republican. You support John McCain. But you know Hillary Clinton. You know Barack Obama. The Senate's a small little group out there. What do you think?

HUTCHISON: Well, I think it will be a strong ticket. But I also think there are some other potentials for Barack Obama. And as I think -- George Will told you maybe earlier today that when you're looking to the future and the team that would serve together, I think he has other choices that don't come with, if you're the agent of change with what is behind us in this country.

BLITZER: What would you suggest? She would bring some baggage?

HUTCHISON: Not baggage. It's not so much baggage. It's if you're the agent of change, why would you go back? If there's one thing this election or this primary and this election have shown is people are not looking for dynasties. They're not looking for who did things in the past. They're looking for a new future, a new impetus, a new vigor and I think both John McCain and Barack Obama have a chance to forge that new frontier.

BLITZER: I'm going to take a break, but do you want to just quickly respond?

FEINSTEIN: Yes, the reason is to win. That's the reason. The reason is she has been out there. She has pushed for change as much as anybody. She is forward looking. She doesn't look back into the past. So I just think if you look at numbers and constituencies and what you need to win, Hillary has it. That's not to say others don't.

HUTCHISON: John McCain too is an agent of change. He's the one who has stood up and taken really controversial tough positions going against the party in many instances. He's the agent of change.

BLITZER: We're going to talk about that. But hold your fire, both of you because we've got a lot more to discuss. We're going to take a quick break. When we come back, we'll discuss some of the key issues, the substantive difference between these two candidates in the general election campaign.

And still coming up later on LATE EDITION, two potential vice presidential candidates were part of the Sunday talk show circuit this morning. We're going to tell you what they had to say in case you missed it.

And of course I'll be joined by three of the best political team on television for our regular Sunday election roundtable. More LATE EDITION right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington. Once again, we're joined by Senators Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California and Kay Bailey Hutchison, Republican of Texas.

Senator Hutchison, in our latest CNN/Opinion Research Corporation opinion poll you won't be surprised to know that the economy is issue number one right now for Americans -- 42 percent of those who responded, registered voters say it's the most important issue. Iraq is second with 24 percent, health care 12 percent, terrorism 11 percent, immigration 8 percent.

Listen to Senator Obama speaking Thursday in Virginia and referring to John McCain, the man you support.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: John McCain can legitimately tout moments of independence from his party, but that independence has not been in this presidential campaign. He says he's about change too. Everybody is about change these days. But you know what, it's not change when you vote with George Bush 95 percent of the time as he did last year.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: That's the argument Democrats are going to make. You want a third term of Bush, vote for McCain. He says 95 percent of McCain's votes last year were in favor of what Bush wants.

HUTCHISON: Well, I think you have to look at what those votes were but you have to also look at where John McCain has led. And I think the biggest issue that we're going to have in this campaign is the economy and energy and the cost of energy is going to be the biggest difference.

BLITZER: Today, a price of a gallon of gas on average across the United States is $4 a gallon. In many parts of the country, especially in California, San Francisco out there, it's even higher.

HUTCHISON: Higher and what the Democrats and Barack Obama are putting forward does not add to the supply at all of our energy.

BLITZER: How does McCain want to do to ease the problem?

HUTCHISON: He wants to give states a chance to explore off the coasts of the Atlantic and Pacific and increase our own natural resources.

He wants to have an American energy policy, a goal in 10 years of independence so that we will have national security and the cost of energy will come down.

He wants nuclear power plants, the cleanest most efficient form of energy that is great for the environment. He has plans to increase the amount of energy and bring down costs where as Barack Obama and the Democrats put forth energy plans that don't produce more energy.

BLITZER: On this issue, there are real differences between these two candidates. Go ahead and respond.

FEINSTEIN: Real differences. We believe you can't drill your way out of this crisis. And even if you could do what Kay just suggested, which is drill off every cost.

BLITZER: Off the coast of California, for example.

FEINSTEIN: It's 10 to 15 years.

HUTCHISON: Only if the state of California agrees to it.

FEINSTEIN: Well, the state of California will not agree to it. We've done it by initiative on the ballot. People do not want drilling off the coast.

The key is an energy policy that moves us away from fossil fuel, away from oil, away from coal into new fuels, into fuel cells, into hybrid, into biofuels and different ways of doing it.

It also, I think is an energy policy that gives the incentives that are necessary to really do the things we need to do, to homes and transportation systems and businesses across the board to change how we use energy and also to be, I think proactive.

BLITZER: What about the nuclear program that Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison is recommending?

FEINSTEIN: I think there are a couple of problems with nuclear yet. I think the technology with respect to waste. The training with respect to human, preventing human error has greatly improved. And it may well be possible to do some nuclear.

That again, the permit system is extraordinarily difficult, will take time. In the meantime, I think we have to begin to look into things like speculation on the futures market with respect to oil. There is a percent there.

BLITZER: You think there's been some hanky panky going on. Do you agree on that?

HUTCHISON: We cannot bring down the price of gasoline at the pump unless we produce more. And that means nuclear power. We haven't had an accident in the nuclear power plants in this country in 25 years or ever in this country.

We haven't had a nuclear power plant in 25 years and yet other countries are using it very efficiently. Secondly, we have to increase the supply. That's the short term. We then need to have a balanced approach that has other sources which is what John McCain puts forward.

BLITZER: Senator McCain also is going after Senator Obama on the whole issue of taxes. Senator Obama is simply a tax and spend liberal. Here's what Senator McCain said this week. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN: Senator Obama proposes to keep spending money on programs that make our problems worse. He plans to pay for these increases by raising taxes on seniors, parents, small business owners and every American, even with a modest investment in the market. That's not change we can believe in.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: All right, that's a strong accusation.

FEINSTEIN: Let me respond to this. This is an administration in which John McCain has supported that has not paid for this war. This war for the first time in American history is all funded on the debt.

We call it doing it by supplemental. It's not a part of any budget. It was the wrong thing in my view to do.

Because of the way the federal government spends its money, the only place then that you can end up cutting because defense remains the same, entitlements continue to grow. Interests on the debt swells on all the domestic programs. So what is happening if you take this no tax, no tax, no tax view for anything, is that the only place left you cut are domestic programs and that's just about today 18 to 20 percent of what the federal government spends a year. So it's -- this is a very difficult area.

BLITZER: The Obama argument against McCain is he wants to keep the Bush tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires in place at the time of warfare when the country can't afford it.

HUTCHISON: What Senator McCain wants to do is keep the Bush tax cuts on every American and most Americans, especially the retired ones, are in the stock market. And if you let the capital gains and dividends rate go back up, it is going to stifle our economy at a time when it is so fragile.

And secondly, John McCain is the one who has come forward with responsible cuts in spending and to try to make Iraq and our allies all over the world help pay for the war on terror so that we will be free and be able to live in freedom.

He is -- he's the one who has actually done something in the senate when he has had the opportunity to cut spending responsibly and keep OUR taxes low so that people will be able to keep the economy flourishing. Higher taxes is not going to help our economy.

BLITZER: Very quickly because we're out of time. FEINSTEIN: Let me just respond to this. Obama has said if they're tax cuts, they come from the middle class. I have never had anybody over $200,000 or $300,000 a year come to me and California has the most in the nation and say, I need a tax cut, no.

I know of no one that feels that capital gains can't be at 20 percent, for example. I just don't believe it to be true. And you know, I have as Kay does in a different way, I have a lot of this constituency that I represent in terms of California. So I think that in terms of tax policy is constant cut, cut, cut no matter what the debt, no what the deficit just puts this nation in jeopardy in terms of its future.

BLITZER: All right, we've got to leave it there, guys. But it's been a good, serious discussion and we're going to continue this in the weeks and months ahead. Thanks to both of you for coming.

HUTCHISON: Thank you, Wolf.

FEINSTEIN: Thank you.

BLITZER: Appreciate it. In just a few minutes, we'll have our weekly roundtable, three of the best political team on television is standing about to analyze the surprising campaign. Let's get a wide shot of that, these two senators. Go ahead, you can do it. There we go. All right, good work.

Also coming up, a look at a very different campaign, a conversation I had with then presidential candidate George W. Bush 10 years ago, part of our celebration of my last decade hosting LATE EDITION. You're going to want to see that as well. Much more coming up. We'll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: The best political team on television coming up. But first, this year marks my tenth year as the host of LATE EDITION and we're celebrating by showing you some of the best interviews from the past decade. In January of 2000, I caught up with then Texas Governor George W. Bush as he campaigned in Iowa. We discussed his plans for dealing with Iraq if he were to be president.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Exactly nine years since your dad, the president of the United States accepted a cease fire with Saddam Hussein in Iraq in exchange for full Iraqi agreement to comply with U.N. weapons inspectors. But for the last year, there have been no weapons inspection teams in Iraq at all. If you were president today, what would you do? BUSH: I would continue to keep the pressure on the Iraqi government. I would continue to insist that inspectors be allowed into the country. I would continue to insist that Iraq complied with the cease fire arrangement.

BLITZER: But they are in violation of the agreement right now.

BUSH: Absolutely. And we shouldn't be sending mixed signals. And if any time I found that the Iraqis were developing weapons of mass destruction, they wouldn't exist anymore.

BLITZER: Who wouldn't exist, the weapons?

BUSH: The weapons of mass destruction, yes.

I'm not going to -- they just need to hear that from a potential president, that, if we catch them in violation of the agreement, if we in any way, shape or form find out that they're developing weapons of mass destruction, that there will be action taken. And they can just guess what that action might be.

BLITZER: And you're not going to spell it out here today?

BUSH: No, sir.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: If you'd like to see more of my interview with the then-governor of Texas, George W. Bush, and then-presidential candidate, you can go to CNN.com/lateedition.

And this note: We'll be celebrating my 10th anniversary as the host of "Late Edition" with a special two-hour program on July 6th. We'll have interviews with the politicians and the world leaders, with sports stars, the Hollywood celebrities, all the people who have made this the last word in Sunday talk. Remember, that special anniversary edition of "Late Edition" airs July 6th at 11:00 a.m. Eastern. Set your Tivos and all of that.

Up next, three of the best political team on television -- they're here, ready to give us their take on a very historic week in politics. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Because of you, tonight I can stand here and say that I will be the Democratic nominee for the president of the United States of America.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: And Senator Barack Obama effectively won that Democratic presidential nomination on Tuesday. Yesterday Hillary Clinton strongly endorse him in a farewell rally with her supporters. And now, let us say the general campaign has begun.

Let's discuss with three survivors of what certainly seems to have been the longest primary campaign in recent history. We're joined by our senior political correspondent, Candy Crowley, our senior political analyst, Gloria Borger, and our White House correspondent, Ed Henry.

Guys, thanks very much for coming in.

In our latest CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll, Gloria, among registered voters, nationwide, this is a race -- this is a close contest -- right now, Obama at 49 percent; McCain at 46 percent, a three-point difference. There's a three-point sampling error. It's a dead heat, for all practical purposes, right now.

Given the problems that this Republican administration has had with the economy, the unpopular war, why is it so close?

BORGER: Well, I think it -- first of all, we should say, don't pay attention to any of these early polls because they're not really full of meaning, at this point.

But I think it tells us that John McCain is a brand unto himself. He has made it very clear to people he has distanced himself from George Bush on a lot of things.

He agreed with him on the war, but he says Bush has mismanaged the war and that McCain has had a bunch of time, now, while the Democrats have been fighting, to try and establish his independent brand. Now that it's just McCain against Obama, we're going to see how those polls shift.

BLITZER: You know these candidates, both of them, quite well. You've covered them both for a long time. You sat down with Barack Obama this week, Candy.

Why is this race so close, at least by this snapshot of this poll?

CROWLEY: I think, first of all, John McCain has done very well at putting an "M," "Maverick," next to his name, instead of the "R." So I think that helps.

I think -- then, too, you've had a very, very long battle between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. The wounds are still there. Barack Obama was beaten up pretty well toward the end of the campaign, so people aren't sure about him.

But these are shifting, shifting numbers. There's a reason we call it a snapshot. I suspect that Barack Obama will get a bump up here, fairly quickly. But they'll go back and forth after the conventions, in the fall, all of that kind of thing.

But I think McCain has -- what it tells us is, A, McCain's done very well and Barack Obama has some work cut out for him.

BLITZER: Here, Ed, is one explanation, potential explanation of why this is so competitive right now.

In our same CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll, we asked registered Democrats, Democrats who support Hillary Clinton, who they would support if she didn't get the nomination, which she isn't going to get.

Sixty percent of those Clinton supporters said they'd support Obama. But look at this. Seventeen percent of the Clinton supporters said they'd support McCain. Twenty-two percent, right now, say they would not vote.

That's 39 percent, if you add up those two categories, who aren't committing to Barack Obama, right now, among, let's say, those 18 million supporters who voted for Hillary Clinton, at least based on this poll.

HENRY: It gets at Candy's point. Barack Obama has some work to do, obviously. And I do think, though, there's been a lot of conventional wisdom, for the last couple of months, that, broadly speaking, that was it was really bad for the Democrats to have this contested primary. And John McCain was sitting back, getting all this attention on his own, but not having to duke it out with anyone.

The flip side to that is, now that the primary is finally over, you can bet Barack Obama is going to get some kind of a lift. We don't know how much. But now that Hillary Clinton did -- went further than a lot of Democrats, frankly, thought she would, yesterday, he's going to get a bump out of that.

He's going to get a bump out of the fact that this is history- making, the first African-American nominee. He's going to get a bump out of that, clearly.

And I think, also, John McCain, frankly, showed himself to be a little bit rusty this week, when you had that night when they were both on stage. At least from the stagecraft standpoint, you've heard a lot about it on this show and elsewhere, that a lot of Republicans, frankly, are nervous that John McCain, you know, he doesn't read the teleprompter well; he didn't look very good that night, and maybe he's a little rusty because he hasn't been in a debate in a long time.

BLITZER: And, you know, he's his got own problems, John McCain. Because, in the same poll, among registered Republicans, Gloria, we asked who is your choice for the nominee? Among the Republicans, 55 percent said John McCain -- that's not a huge number -- since he's got it basically locked up; 44 percent say they still would prefer someone else.

(LAUGHTER)

And, you know, the old theory, Karl Rove's theory, you've got to energize that Republican base, get those conservatives out there -- 44 percent, even at this late date, say, you know what? They would have preferred another candidate.

BORGER: They were voting against him in the primaries after he was already the presumptive nominee. You know, this has been an issue for McCain all along.

He was the last man standing in the Republican primary, and so he got the nomination. Now he's trying to go for those independent voters because he knows he needs those independent voters to win. But, left out in the cold, is the Republican base, those evangelical conservatives who have mistrusted him, who don't like him, who don't think he cares about their issues. And so they're a little lukewarm, too.

BLITZER: And he's trying to reintroduce himself, Candy, right now, with a brand-new commercial that he's putting out, not only going after, maybe, Hillary Clinton supporters, but even some of his own base, if you will.

I'm play a little snippet for you.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN: I was shot down over Vietnam and spent five years as a POW. Some of the friends I served with never came home. I hate war, and I know how terrible its costs are. I'm running for president to keep the country I love safe.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: That's going to be a pretty effective ad, I suspect. It is. Two things it does: A, it shows his experience; B, it says, listen, I'm not the warmonger they are portraying me to be. So that's a dual message, again, straight at those independents and the people that don't know his background.

CROWLEY: Those are the two things he's going to go after in this campaign. And that is listen, I'm more experienced than he is. He's a newcomer, he's green and also I understand what war is and that's why I don't like it.

BLITZER: Is that going to resonate?

HENRY: Well, the challenge is the last four races where you've had a situation like that when someone was touting their war record, the one with the better war record didn't win. I mean, you go all the way back to '92, George H.W. Bush, wonderful war record for World War II, Bill Clinton didn't serve and right back through 2004 Bush versus Kerry, that doesn't always resonate.

I was talking to a very senior Republican who is raising a lot of money for McCain this week. And when I asked him about Obama, he said look what we're going to do basically is show, you need a grown up in the White House and that Obama is not ready to be commander-in-chief. And I said well hasn't Hillary Clinton has been saying that for the last six months to a year? It didn't work. So I think you need more than that. BORGER: You need to see what happens in Iraq, by the way.

CROWLEY: Different audience too. It's a Democratic audience versus a much broader audience. But you're right there, totally counting on the experience thing.

And it's a different time than when Bill Clinton ran against George Bush. I mean, people do -- what the McCain camp is betting on is that really when you look at domestic issues, the key domestic issues are do you feel safe?

BLITZER: All right guys, stand by for a moment. We're going to continue this conversation and talk about the potential running mates for John McCain and Barack Obama. Some of them in fact were guests on the other Sunday morning talk show circuit. We're going to tell you what they had to say in our very popular "In Case You Missed It" segment. Lots more coming up right here on LATE EDITION.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: And now in case you missed it, let's check some of the highlights from some of the other Sunday morning talk shows here in the United States. On FOX, the Minnesota Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty and the Virginia Democratic Governor Tim Kaine talked about the possibility of becoming running vice presidential running mates for John McCain and Barack Obama.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. TIM KAINE, D-VA.: I'm not expecting it, don't spend a lot of time thinking about it. Of course it would be difficult for anybody in those circumstances to say no. But he's got a lot of great people to pick from and his campaign has shown a great ability to make tough strategic calls and make them right.

GOV. TIM PAWLENTY, R-MINN.: I have a fond and deep respect for Senator McCain and his leadership. I want to help him become the president because I think he'd be a great president. I don't have any designs on being vice president. Somebody came to me and said that, of course it would be an honor to be mentioned, an honor to be asked, and it would be difficult to turn that down but I don't have any designs.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: On ABC, Obama supporter Senator John Kerry and McCain supporter Lindsey Graham debated which candidate is more willing to reach across the aisle for bipartisan reform.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, R-S.C.: I've been in a lot of bipartisan fights where the Republican Party really didn't like what John was doing. And when it comes to Senator Obama, it's all talk. He's never done anything the left didn't want to hear, whether it's Iraq policy or anything else and John has been his own man for a long time. SEN. JOHN KERRY, D-MASS.: Look, I give John McCain credit for those instances that get him out of the 95 percent voting with George Bush and 90 percent over the entire Bush presidency. The 90 percent has a profound impact on a lot of Americans. There are countless places where John McCain has just not been there and he's selected a few key things where he made differences and I applaud him for it. But being right 5 percent of the right doesn't excuse you for the 95 percent of the time where there's a problem.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: On CBS, Democratic Congressman Charlie Rangel of New York weighed in on the possibility of Hillary Clinton's being on the democratic presidential ticket.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. CHARLES B. RANGEL, D-N.Y.: That decision has to be up to the next president of the United States. He has to feel comfortable, there has to be chemistry there and they have to make certain that they know which area of the vice president she'll be covering. But from a personal view and I may be too close to the forest, I think it is an absolutely unbeatable ticket and I think it would be terrific for the country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Highlights from the other Sunday morning talk shows here on LATE EDITION, the last word on Sunday talk. Up next, we'll get more reaction to those comments and a lot more with three of the best political team on television. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: Today as I suspend my campaign, I congratulate him on the victory he has won and the extraordinary race he has run. I endorse him and throw my full support behind him. And I ask all of you to join me in working as hard for Barack Obama as you have for me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: That was Hillary Clinton admitting defeat, urging her supporters to rally to the campaign of Barack Obama. Let's continue with the best political team on television. Candy, you were there at the National Building Museum yesterday. Take us inside that room. How did it go?

CROWLEY: Well, I mean these are her supporters, so obviously it was a very enthusiastic crowd. Every time she endorsed Barack Obama, said his name 14 times in a 30-minute speech, so they couldn't ask for much more. There were scattered boos. But by and large, this was a crowd that was willing to chair the name Barack Obama. And by the end she even won over some of the boos because they stopped. What was amazing to me was it wasn't a lot of sorrow in the room and I think you can credit her speech was not a sorrowful speech. It looked back but it wasn't, this is so sad, that kind of thing. So I think she kind of made the crowd emotion.

BLITZER: Ed, what did you think?

HENRY: Yes, I definitely think she tapped into that. I heard Gloria say yesterday that she should have much sooner recognized the history making that she was doing. She did it in the speech yesterday, but during this campaign, we didn't hear her talk a lot about running as a female candidate.

CROWLEY: But she couldn't. That's the problem. She couldn't do it. If she ran as a female or if he ran as a African-American, it's the superficial thing. You don't just one as a woman to be a woman.

HENRY: But not run as an anything, but if she had used it maybe a little bit more.

CROWLEY: But she did. She talked about that 90-year-old woman all of the time. She talked about the men that would bring in their daughters saying -- all of the time. It was always the subtext.

BORGER: It's really a fine line, though, they both had to walk. He didn't want to run as an African-American. She didn't want to run as a woman. And in the end, the African-American voters probably put him over the top and its those women voters who almost got her to the finish line.

But you know, some people in the campaign say maybe we could have talked about the history we were about to make a little bit more. But your point is well taken because she didn't want to run as just a woman candidate you get criticized for that. But in hindsight.

CROWLEY: In the New Hampshire debate she said I am history, I would be history, I am change. I would be the first woman. So she did use it. There was no getting around it and did she do it in such?

BORGER: More and more.

CROWLEY: Did she do it in such a sort of constant speech? When she had a woman's week, she talked about the history of it. So it's not true it wasn't there.

BLITZER: Let's play another clip of what she said yesterday and we'll discuss. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: It is this belief, this optimism that Senator Obama and I share and that has inspired so many millions of our supporters to make their voices heard. Today I'm standing with Senator Obama to say, yes, we can!

(END VIDEO CLIP) BLITZER: Sort of his signature statement, Gloria. Should she have gone further? And I guess the criticism was that she should have done this Tuesday night.

BORGER: Well, look, I'm not sure. Nobody really was saying she need to endorse him on Tuesday night. I think the criticism of Tuesday night was that she could have been a little bit more gracious because he did go over, he did go over that number in delegates.

And so nobody was saying she has got to throw it all away and endorse him in 10 minutes. So the criticism was not that.

This speech was her do-over in a way. And she did a terrific job. She hit every note she needed to hit. There was nothing the Obama people could possibly complain about in this speech. And she told her supporters, you've got to be with Barack Obama. She changed her Web site immediately to say give money to Barack Obama. You know, what more could she do?

BLITZER: We asked registered Democrats, Candy, in our poll, should Obama select Clinton as the running mate? 54 percent of registered Democrats said yes, 43 percent said no. What do you think? CROWLEY: I think he has to be very careful about looking like he got shoved into it. And clearly he was. In interview he kept saying, everybody settle down. I've got a process. There are a lot of people I'm looking at. This is my process. So he cannot be seen as being pushed into that corner and having to take her and there are some real serious doubts that this would be a positive move overall.

BORGER: The interesting thing -- problem he's got. Now when he picks a vice presidential candidate, it's not going to be judged about how this person will balance Barack Obama. This person is going to be judged against Hillary Clinton.

CROWLEY: She's going to have to help him with that choice if it's not her.

BORGER: Don't you think that's the comparison that's going to be made?

HENRY: If he had to make the decision this weekend coming out of the momentum of the speech yesterday, it would much more likely be Hillary Clinton. But I think when he was telling you in that interview he's got to take a breathe, he's got to think about it. I think with a distance of time, it's going to be harder for him to pick her because it really gets and goes against the fundamental talk of his campaign about change. Picking Hillary Clinton would not fit that. Right now when you look in the context of the 18 million votes, it seems like an on obvious move. But over time, it might not.

BLITZER: We've got to leave it right there, guys. But we're going to take about vice presidential candidates a lot over the next few weeks and we'll see what they decide. Thanks very much for coming in.

If would you like a recap, by the way of today's program, you can get highlights on our LATE EDITION podcast. Simply go to CNN.com/Podcast. And coming up at the top of the hour, international news and analysis with FAREED ZAKARIA GPS, our new program. That's coming up right after LATE EDITION.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: That's it. This is LATE EDITION for Sunday, June 8th. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington. Up next, FAREED ZAKARIA GPS.

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