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CNN Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer

Preview of Democratic Primary in Pennsylvania; Pope Visits America

Aired April 20, 2008 - 11:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: This is "Late Edition," the last word in Sunday talk.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA, D-ILL.: I'm running to end the game-playing in Washington.

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, D-N.Y.: All I'm asking is that we finally have a president again who understands America's purpose and America's promise.


BLITZER: Just two days to go until the critical Pennsylvania primary. We'll discuss the fight for the Democratic presidential nomination with two Clinton supporters, New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine and Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter. And two Obama supporters, Pennsylvania Congressman Chaka Fattah, and former New Jersey Senator Bill Bradley.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, R-ARIZ.: If I'm elected president, I intend to act quickly and decisively.


BLITZER: John McCain lays out his plan for the ailing economy. Will it help voters? We'll ask McCain campaign economic adviser, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina.


HUCKABEE: Quite frankly, him winning the presidency is a lot more important than whether he picks me.


BLITZER: Former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee weighs in on his political future, and more.

Plus, insight and analysis from three of the best political team on television.


POPE BENEDICT XVI: Americans have always been a people of hope.


BLITZER: Pope Benedict wraps up his historic visit to the United States. We'll assess the pontiff's message with Catholic University President Father David O'Connell and Vatican analyst Delia Gallagher.

The first hour of "Late Edition" begins right now.

It's just after 11:00 a.m. here in New York, 8:00 a.m. in Los Angeles, 6:00 p.m. in Baghdad. Wherever you're watching from around the world, thanks very much for joining us for "Late Edition." We'll get to our discussion with former Senator Bill Bradley and New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine in just a moment, but first in this, the final day of his historic visit to the United States, the pope visited ground zero earlier today to deliver a prayer for the victims and the survivors of 9/11. Standing by at ground zero right now, our senior U.N. correspondent Richard Roth.

Richard, for our viewers who may have missed our live coverage, what happened?

ROTH: Well, popes often talk about evil, but they rarely get a chance to be at the scene of it. And we're here at 9/11, the former site of the World Trade towers. The pope in the popemobile driven down into the bedrock of what used to be the towers, and then he delivered a silent prayer, a lengthy silent prayer for the victims of 9/11, and also a prayer for those injured, wounded and the rescuers. And there was also a prayer indirectly for the terrorists, by asking God to turn those consumed in their hearts and minds by hatred.

The pope was visited by the governor of New York, New Jersey governor, and dignitaries, but there were no speeches. This was no doubt the most solemn of the stops along the pope's trip to Washington and New York. Wolf.

BLITZER: Richard, I know we're going to have a lot more on this final day of the pope coming up here on CNN. Richard, thanks very much for that update.

And as I said, later this hour we'll get full analysis of what has happened this week, and we'll look ahead as well to the celebration of mass at Yankees Stadium coming up here later today. Much more on the pope's visit here on "Late Edition."

In the race for the White House, all eyes on Pennsylvania right now with only two days to go until the Democratic presidential primary. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are blanketing the state, hoping to seal the deal with voters right now. Joining us, two guests, the former Democratic presidential candidate and former New Jersey senator, Bill Bradley. He's a strong supporter of Barack Obama. Senator Bradley is joining us from Austin, Texas. And here in New York, New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine. He is a strong supporter of Hillary Clinton. Gentlemen, thanks to both of you very much for coming in.

BRADLEY: Thank you.

CORZINE: Good to be here.

BLITZER: I want to talk politics in a moment. But Governor Corzine, I know you were there this morning at ground zero. You had a chance to meet with Pope Benedict XVI. Briefly give us your sense of what happened there this morning, and what went through your mind.

CORZINE: It was one of the most moving moments that I've ever experienced. The conjunction in those circumstances of the tragedy and the evil that occurred on 9/11 with the hope and the peace that's brought by the pope, I think, is extraordinary statement that hope and peace win out. That we will in the long run commit to the principles of the message that the pope has been delivering. I thought it was remarkable.

BLITZER: It was an amazing moment. And I know, as I said, we're going to be talking a lot more about it later this hour and the next hour as well.

Let's get to politics, though, right now. Two days away, Governor Corzine.

CORZINE: No peace, no hope.

BLITZER: Two days away from Pennsylvania's primary. A lot of delegates at stake right now. In our average of the major polls in Pennsylvania, the so-called CNN poll of polls, right now among likely Democratic primary voters, Clinton is at 48 percent, Obama is at 43 percent. Still, 9 percent say they are unsure. They could go either way. A five-point spread, though, right now.

You've said -- and correct me if I'm wrong -- that it would be a door-closer for her if she doesn't win in Pennsylvania. Basically, it's all over. Explain what you mean.

CORZINE: Clearly, it's her decision, but I believe that Senator Clinton needs to win the popular vote. That includes the votes in Florida, in my view, not in Michigan. But the reality is, you need a strong argument that she has the support of broad participation. Without the popular vote, that doesn't happen. That means she needs a strong victory, a substantial victory in Pennsylvania.

BLITZER: Here's a sound bite, Senator Bradley, from Hillary Clinton speaking in Pennsylvania on Friday. I'm going to play it, and then we'll discuss. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CLINTON: I know that some of my opponent's supporters and my opponent are kind of complaining about the hard questions. Well, having been in the White House for eight years and seeing what happens in terms of the pressures and the stresses on a president, that was nothing.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BLITZER: All right. The suggestion, Senator Bradley, is that Barack Obama, the man you want to be the next president of the United States, might not be tough enough to be the -- to be the Democratic nominee going against the Republicans and John McCain in the fall. You want to respond to that?

BRADLEY: Sure, Wolf. I think there is a choice here, and it's a significant choice. It's a choice between a fighter and a leader. No question Hillary Clinton is a fighter, but she's a fighter who has accepted the culture of Washington and the limits it sets on our dreams.

Barack Obama is a leader, who fights to change the culture of Washington so we can realize our dreams. And he recognizes that that's been the same narrative for the whole campaign for him. He says, we can do great things again as Americans, but to do that, we have to change the culture of Washington. And the way we do that is with the people. Not only the vote, because he's asking people not only to vote, but to be active in democracy after the election when he's president of the United States, so that we can change the culture of Washington and provide health care for all Americans, make it easier for people to send their children to college, secure pensions in this country, and break our addiction to oil.

BLITZER: All right. Let me let Governor Corzine respond to that. Go ahead.

CORZINE: Well, I think both candidates represent significant change, whether it's gender or racial change, whether it's an embrace of change with regard to health care policies that we haven't taken on. Whether it represents Iraq and reallocating our resources to things that make a difference...

BLITZER: But on the issues that are most important, whether the war in Iraq or the economy and those kinds of substantive issue, is there a big difference, Governor Corzine, between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama?

CORZINE: I think for instance, with regard to the economy, Senator Clinton is much more specific, solutions-oriented, much more advanced in how she would have addressed...

BLITZER: All right, give me one specific major difference on the economic issues between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

CORZINE: Well, we heard that on Social Security, with regard to the debate that they had on Wednesday. I mean, it's very clear. There was no backing away from the fact that we'd probably have to increase the payroll tax under Senator Obama's proposition. That's not where Senator Clinton is. That's a big deal. I mean, I think, though, the real issue is, do we have solutions on the mortgage and foreclosure problem?

BLITZER: And let me...

CORZINE: She was way, way out in front. The whole Senate, the whole debate in Wall Street and everywhere else about it addressed (ph) the problem.

BLITZER: Let's get to the Social Security issue first, since you raised it, and let Senator Bradley weigh in. The suggestion being that Barack Obama wants to increase the withholding of Social Security taxes beyond the sort of mid-90,000 level. That's going to be an increase in taxes for people making more money. Go ahead and defend that.

BRADLEY: Well, the reality is, what Barack Obama has proposed is no income tax on senior citizens earning under $50,000 a year. It would be a significant tax cut.

In terms of the Social Security tax on people who make more than $250,000, the question is, there's been no answer on the other side what they're going to do about Social Security.

BLITZER: All right. Go ahead. What is the answer?

CORZINE: Well, first of all, we all know that -- and Senator Bradley was there and, I think, actually a very positive participant in that whole process of getting to a bipartisan commission. And there are a number of elements...

BLITZER: This was back in the '80s?

CORZINE: Back in the '80s, the Greenspan Commission, which brought people together, went through the tough choices, and then brought it out together, Republican and Democrat.

And Senator Clinton has embraced that idea. She's embraced it in the context of fiscal responsibility, which I think that Senator Bradley and I would both agree, if we don't fix this addiction to debt that we have in Washington today, you know, none of those programs are going to fail (sic).

All we're doing is borrowing out of a Social Security trust fund. It's a big mistake. Senator Clinton has talked about it very clearly.

BLITZER: All right. So, Governor Corzine, Senator Bradley, says there's a big difference on Social Security, a substantive policy difference between the two candidates on policy.

Don't -- let's move away from the tone, if you will, the rhetoric, if you will. On a substantive policy issue, where do you see the biggest difference?

BRADLEY: Well, I see the biggest difference in the sense that Barack Obama wants to give middle-class Americans a $1,000 tax cut. And people who earn under $50,000 and are senior citizens would pay no taxes.

I think he also has a broad view of what the economy is. It's not simply a matter of macroeconomics, but it's a matter of being able to send your children to college; it's a matter of having some help when you pay health care expenses; it's a matter of having some relief on energy costs. BLITZER: And you don't think that Hillary Clinton has those plans?

BRADLEY: I think that -- not as specific as Barack Obama. I think the difference between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama is much less than the difference between either one of them and John McCain.

And that's why, in the fall, I think we're going to have a very real debate about real, substantive differences. The substantive differences in this campaign, in the primary, are not as great, obviously, as they would be in a general election.

BLITZER: And is that why, Governor Corzine, you hear so much of the back-and-forth between Hillary Clinton supporters and Barack Obama supporters, on not the policy issues so much, but the tone, the rhetoric, some of these other tangential issues -- who they're friends with, not friends with, and all of that?

CORZINE: I think one of the things that we all can agree -- that a change in Washington, among Democrats, a change in Washington is absolutely essential, whether it's the war, the economy, health care, any of the major issues. And both are going to be dramatically better than what we have today.

But we need to find the candidate that has the greatest probability of being elected to bring about that change. And I think, with experience -- and I disagree with my respected colleague, in the sense that I think Senator Clinton has demonstrated leadership throughout her whole adult life on a whole host of issues, sometimes successfully but sometimes when challenges have pushed back.

She is a fighter. But he has also been a leader on trying to bring about those kinds of changes that I think we need...

BLITZER: All right. I'm going to take a break. But I want Senator Bradley, quickly, to respond to that last point. Go ahead.

BRADLEY: Well, I think that, when people vote for president, they make -- several questions that need to be answered.

One is, who do I trust with my life? Who do I trust with my job? And who has a view of life remotely similar to my own?

And trust is terribly important. And I think the Democrats should ponder, in terms of who has a better chance in the fall, that I've seen polls, 58 percent of the Democrats believe Hillary Clinton is untrustworthy.

That should give all Democrats pause on the issue of "who's got a view of life similar to my own." Values -- you find Barack Obama -- and I've seen polls where he's at at 70 percent, and that's, in some cases, 20 percent higher than Hillary Clinton. So why is that so?

BLITZER: I'm going to break. But there are also several polls in the key battleground states, whether in Florida, or Pennsylvania, or in Ohio, that show, in these hypothetical match-ups, Senator Bradley, between either of the Democratic candidates and John McCain, that Hillary Clinton would do better than Barack Obama.

Now, those are just snapshots right now, and they might not mean anything going forward, but I guess the point being you can look at polls and see a lot of different assessments of who might be a stronger candidate.

But hold that thought. Because we're going to continue this conversation -- a lot more to discussion with Governor Corzine and former Senator Bradley, much more on their take at how this race for the White House is shaping up.

And remember, CNN will be bringing you the results of the Pennsylvania primary like no one else. We'll be reporting from the CNN Election Center. Our special coverage, with the best political team on television, begins Tuesday, 7:00 p.m. Eastern. You're watching "Late Edition", the last word in Sunday talk.


BLITZER: Welcome back to "Late Edition." I Wolf Blitzer, reporting today from New York. Coming up in our next hour, we'll have a unique perspective on Pennsylvania's Tuesday primary from two of the state's top politicians, the Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter, who supports Hillary Clinton, and the Pennsylvania congressman Chaka Fattah, who supports Barack Obama.

Right now, though, we're continuing our conversation with New Jersey governor Jon Corzine -- he's a strong Hillary Clinton supporter -- and the former senator Bill Bradley, a strong Barack Obama supporter. And both of these candidates are obviously very lucky to have both of you in their respective corners.

Senator Bradley, the argument, right now, if Barack Obama -- and I don't know if he has been or hasn't been. But the Clinton people insist he's been whining about that debate earlier in the week.

And they're saying, if you can't take the heat, right now, from Democrats, you know what the Republicans are gearing up to do against him if he's the Democratic presidential nominee in the fall. They're going to go after all these issues, whether the Reverend Jeremiah Wright -- his association with a former member of the Weather Underground, and all of that stuff is going to be major, major campaign fodder for the Republicans.

What do you say about that charge that he's going to be vulnerable in the fall?

BRADLEY: I think it's ridiculous. All we have to do is play a replay of a debate where Hillary Clinton is complaining about the press being too tough on her, and whining about it.

I mean, this is apart from the real questions that the campaign should be about.

As I was saying at the end of the last segment, why do more people in America believe that Barack Obama shares their values than they do Hillary Clinton shares their values?

And I think there's something to the way the campaign in Pennsylvania has been run by the Clinton campaign, the negativity. People basically are reasonable, and they know, in their everyday life, there's a premium put on being reasonable.

I mean, you don't go into your boss or you family member or your friend and attack them.

BRADLEY: If you disagree with them, you have a civil discussion about it. And so when people turn on the TV and see politicians -- in this case, Senator Clinton -- running almost a 100 percent negative TV campaign against Barack Obama, they look at that and say, you know, she doesn't share my values; that's not how I view life.

BLITZER: And let me play a sound bite from Senator Obama. He makes a similar point, and we'll let Governor Corzine respond. Listen to this.


OBAMA: The problem that we have in our politics, which is fairly typical, is that you take one person's statement, if it's not properly phrased, and you just beat it to death. And that's what Senator Clinton has been doing over the last four days.


BLITZER: All right. Governor Corzine?

CORZINE: Well, I'm not a big fan of negative campaigning. You would like to make sure people stay on the issues that actually are going to make a difference in people's lives.

But, unfortunately, even candidates who claim that they're going to maintain it on the high ground tend to end up talking about the other issues.

Sometimes they're led there by the media questions. Sometimes they're led there because that is necessary to punch back when somebody punches at you.

I heard a lot of conversation, either through surrogates, through the campaign, or other things, about issues of Bosnia and visits of the...


BLITZER: So what you're saying is that the Obama campaign is doing the same thing to the Clinton campaign?

CORZINE: Yes, I think there is a lot of give-and-take. It's an unfortunate part of the political debate these days, and I think we'd be a lot better off if we were actually talking about those Social Security issues, if we were actually talking about how we're going to challenge global warming, how we're going to get the economy jumpstarted, and how we're going to get our troops out.

Unfortunately, that isn't where we're drawn into the atmospherics that surrounds the campaign.

BLITZER: And, as I'm sure you'll agree, Senator Bradley, a lot of Democrats simply hate this back and forth between these two Democratic presidential candidates, because, in the end, they say the only one who gains from this is not the two candidates but John McCain, potentially, looking ahead to November.

Let me play a sound bite for you from Howard Dean, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee. I spoke with him on Thursday about the superdelegates who, in the end, will decide who is the Democratic presidential nominee. And he made this point.


DNC CHAIRMAN HOWARD DEAN: I need them to say who they're for, starting now. They really do need to do that. We cannot give up two or three months of active campaigning and healing time. We've got to know who our nominee is. And there's no reason not to know after the last primary on June 3rd.


BLITZER: I think you'll agree that, mathematically, it looks very unlikely, given the way the delegates are proportioned, that either of the candidates will have enough pledged delegates to get the nomination going after June 3rd, when the last of the Democratic primaries take place.

But what do you say to what Howard Dean is suggesting?

BRADLEY: Well, I think it's a good idea that superdelegates come forward and state who they're for, as soon as they feel comfortable, sooner rather than later.

What I also hope is the Pennsylvania campaign will show that there's a price to negativity. And I understand that -- you know, I'm not sure if this is exactly right, but part of the Clinton strategy is to blast Obama, try to damage him, to try to show that he couldn't stand up to the Republicans, which is ridiculous.

Every superdelegate looks at this and knows what the game is that's going on. And every superdelegate has to decide, am I going to seek change in America? Am I going to seek change in Washington so we can realize our dreams?

There are plenty of superdelegates who want that more than anything else in life. And I hope that the result of this will be negativity will be penalized and Barack Obama will be doing better in Pennsylvania than anybody thinks.

If you look at the numbers, Hillary Clinton has got to get 60 percent of every remaining primary to have more delegates at the end of this tense primary season. BLITZER: All right. We're out of time. But go ahead, Governor Corzine, very quickly.

CORZINE: First of all, superdelegates do want to see change in Washington. They want a new president. They want a Democratic president that deals with those fundamental issues. And so they need to assess who can win; who's got the greatest electability potential in the fall?

And the second thing they need to do is they need to understand that the person who is running has the ability to stand up to those challenges. And I think that is a real question in people's minds. We've seen the daily tracking polls, since a lot of this has been put together, see Mrs. Clinton come from down 11 points to up 1 point.

BLITZER: You're talking about the national...

CORZINE: Yes, the national polls. And I think it is because people are concerned about electability. Superdelegates ought to wait until June, see how the primaries run out, make a decision about who is going to be the most electable.

I think they need the popular vote or the delegate count, or both, to be able to be effective. But it is -- I think we ought to wait. It's to be decided based on how these primaries roll out.

BLITZER: Governor Corzine, thanks very much for coming in.

Senator Bradley, always a pleasure to have you here as well.

BRADLEY: Good to be with you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Thanks to both of you.

And later, we'll go live to the campaign trail for an update on what the candidates are doing today. Stand by for that. But coming up next, the pope, this morning, visiting Ground Zero. We'll get some analysis on his message, what happened. Much more "Late Edition," right after this.


BLITZER: Welcome back. Pope Benedict XVI will celebrate mass with as many, perhaps even more than 60,000 people at Yankee Stadium in New York. CNN's coverage, by the way, will begin at 2:00 p.m. Eastern.

Let's get some perspective, now, on Benedict's historic visit to the United States, his first since becoming pope back in 2005. For that, we're joined by two guests, Father David O'Connell, who is the president of the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. And Delia Gallagher is a long-time Vatican observer and analyst. She's here in New York with me.

I want to thank both of you for coming in. First of all, Ground Zero. We saw the dramatic images, Father O'Connell, earlier today, of the pope making this visit to Ground Zero here in New York. How significant was this? O'CONNELL: Actually, Wolf, this was one of the three events that the pope, in informing us of his visit, indicated that he wanted to do, and to make sure that he made while he was there -- so very important to him personally, really, to show some real sense of unity, in this tragedy and in this terrible experience, with the United States, with the people of the United States, especially those who suffered. It was a very emotional moment this morning.

BLITZER: What did you think, Delia?

GALLAGHER: It seems to me that, even though -- before this trip, they were saying, you know, wow, he's only going to two cities. He seems to have, kind of, managed to cover almost everything in this week, you know.

He's had a good balance between some very solemn moments, some very serious moments like this morning, and then some wonderful, kind of, rallies with young kids, and, sort of, covered the gamut of experiences within -- as much as you can do within a week.

BLITZER: He packed a lot into these six days here in the United States, today being the final day of this visit.

Let me play this little clip for you, Father O'Connell, of what the pope said Friday morning when he addressed the United Nations General Assembly.


BENEDICT XVI (through translator): In-depth study must be made of the ways to prevent and manage conflicts by using all the means that diplomatic action has at its disposal, while giving attention to and supporting even the slightest sign of dialogue and the desire for reconciliation.


BLITZER: All right. As you know, Pope Benedict, Father O'Connell, has been critical of the way the U.S. has handled the war in Iraq. This was seen by some observers as sort of a veiled swipe at President Bush's policies of unilateral action. Is that how you saw it?

O'CONNELL: Well, I felt that throughout his visit, but especially at the United Nations, the holy father was embracing the notion of hope. I don't know that I particularly saw this as a swipe at President Bush or his actions, but certainly the church, the gospel, and the holy father is encouraging us all to work for peace, to work together for peace. His themes of freedom, religious freedoms, freedom seeking truth in the world and really embracing hope are very, very important themes. And I think they were throughout all of the addresses that he gave.

BLITZER: Did you see this as a swipe at the president?

GALLAGHER: I don't think it was a swipe. I don't think it was a swipe. On the other hand, you have to say that it was one of the big divisive issues between the United States and the Vatican, the question of the Iraq war, and the Vatican was not in favor of that. And so, certainly Pope Benedict goes on the side of working with international organizations, and I've heard some conservative Americans, you know, upset about the Vatican's support for the United Nations. But according to the pope, it's the only international organization we have, and better to work with it than not.

BLITZER: The big headline, I guess, Father O'Connell, out of the week was the pope's coming to the United States saying the church is greatly ashamed by the sexual abuse by priests of individuals in the Catholic Church over the years. He addressed the issue head-on several times, and he also said this. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BENEDICT XVI: Great efforts have already been made to deal honestly and fairly with this tragic situation, and to ensure that children, whom our Lord loves so deeply and who are our greatest treasure, can grow up in a safe environment.


BLITZER: And he also took the extraordinary step of actually meeting with victims of that kind of sexual abuse by priests. This was a huge, huge deal this week, wasn't it?

O'CONNELL: It certainly was. The fact that the pope even on the plane on the way over from Rome selected a question on the sexual abuse crisis in the United States, answered it in English, and he mentioned this four times during this journey. This is something he feels very deeply about. He's eager to see the church heal. He's eager to reach out to victims and help them to heal. This is a very, very important pastoral gesture on his part. And I hope that it will begin the process for the victims, and that people will see in it a real concern on the part of the church as a whole to move forward and to never allow this to happen again in the future.

BLITZER: Beyond the words, Delia, what specifically is the church doing right now, the Vatican, to make sure it doesn't happen?

GALLAGHER: Yes, I think it's important to say that it wasn't just a symbolic thing. The pope -- the other half of what he said after he said "we're deeply ashamed" is he has got this three-point plan, as it were, on a (inaudible) level, on a pastoral level, and in the future trying to prevent priests, seminarians that is, in the seminaries from, you know, engaging in this kind of behavior.

So certainly on those three levels at the Vatican already since 2002, since John Paul II, there's been an office for the investigation of this, and then at the pastoral level of course that has to happen within the United States, within the bishops conference. But I think those things are already in place and happening.

BLITZER: We're going to ask Delia and Father O'Connell to stand by. We're going to continue our assessment of the pope's visit to the United States in our next hour. Much more to talk about, and we'll look ahead to the pope's celebration of mass at Yankees Stadium. That's coming up later today as well. CNN with live coverage will begin at 2:00 p.m. Eastern.

Up next, we'll get back to politics. We'll get a live report from the campaign trail in Pennsylvania. What are the candidates up to today? Stay with us. "Late Edition" continues right after this.


BLITZER: Down to the wire right now in Pennsylvania, where the voters get to have their say in the state's primary coming up on Tuesday. Let's check in with Mary Snow. She's keeping track of the candidates. She joins us now from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania with what the candidates are up to today. Mary. MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, Bethlehem is the place where Senator Clinton will be coming this afternoon for a rally in this increasingly heated fight to the end. Senator Clinton picking up an endorsement this morning from the Pittsburgh Tribune Review. Significant, because the owner of that paper has been a fierce critic of the Clintons over the years. The endorsement says that Senator Clinton is the wiser choice for president, saying that Obama has undeniable appeal and that he's the rock star of this election, but it paints him as the candidate that does not have enough experience, saying that Senator Clinton is far more experienced.

That is something that she's been trying to hit home on the campaign trail, and yesterday also taking some jabs at her opponent, saying in her words we have to go beyond what she's calling whoop-de- doo speeches, in order to face the challenges ahead.

Now, Senator Obama yesterday took a train ride to try to win support from voters here in Pennsylvania. He is saying that Senator Clinton is really going at him with what he calls slash-and-burn politics, saying that she's throwing everything and the kitchen sink at him, saying that that is distracting from debating the real issues.

And when it comes to issues, Senator Obama launched an ad campaign yesterday highly critical of Senator Clinton's health care plan. That is an ad she calls misleading. She's going after him for the negative attacks. Just indicative of the kind of tone as this primary closes out -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Thank you. As they say, we'll be doing extensive coverage looking ahead to Tuesday of this Democratic presidential primary in Pennsylvania. Mary, thank you.

Democrats are also hammering away at John McCain when it comes to the U.S. economy. They're calling his policies a third term for George W. Bush. We're going to get the view from a top McCain economic adviser, the former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina. She's standing by live right now. "Late Edition" continues when we come back.


BLITZER: Welcome back to "Late Edition." John McCain outlined his plan, this past week, to rescue the troubled U.S. economy. Both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have been slamming the presumptive Republican nominee over number one issue for American voters. That would be the economy.

Joining us now in Washington is McCain campaign adviser Carly Fiorina. She's the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard. Thanks very much for coming in.

FIORINA: It's great to be with you, Wolf. How are you doing?

BLITZER: I'm doing fine. Let's talk about some controversy this week. Your candidate, John McCain, released his economic plan, and he also said this. And I'll put it up on the screen.

He said, "I think if you look at the overall record, and millions of jobs have been created, et cetera, et cetera, you could make an argument that there's been great progress economically over that period of time" -- referring to the past seven years -- but "that's no comfort to families, now, that are facing these tremendous economic challenges."

It didn't take long for Barack Obama to pounce on those words. Listen to this.


OBAMA: John McCain thinks our economy has been made great progress under George W. Bush.


OBAMA: How can somebody who had been traveling across this country, somebody who came to Erie, Pennsylvania, say we've made great progress?


BLITZER: All right. So what's the answer?

FIORINA: Well, you know, Senator Obama has told us, for months, that words matter, and I agree with him. And his words in this regard are reckless, just as they were reckless when he was misquoting Senator McCain on Iraq.

So I think it would be best if we would actually argue about the facts of John McCain's plan. John McCain has been very clear that American taxpayers and homeowners are hurting. And he has laid out a very specific set of plans to help hard-working Americans in the here and now, whether it's the summer gas tax holiday, whether it is his home plan, or whether it is his plan to increase the exemptions for dependents.

BLITZER: But when John McCain says that -- and I'm quoting him now -- "there's been great progress, economically, over these past seven years, what specifically is he referring to? FIORINA: Well, the facts are -- and by the way, Senator Obama has referenced these same facts in other remarks that he's made -- the facts are that, over the past seven years, over 7 million jobs were created.

We have lost jobs in the last several months, although not all 7 million. But what he was trying to convey was, yes, there have been jobs created, but now the economy is clearly losing steam; we may well be in a recession.

John McCain has said, over and over again, that the technical definition of a recession doesn't really matter very much if you're a hard-working taxpayer whose gas prices are going up and whose home mortgage is now unaffordable.

BLITZER: Here are the results of this most recent Washington Post/ABC News poll on the state of the economy: "How do you view the economy right now?"

Among the respondents, 10 percent said it was excellent or good; 90 percent said it was not so good or poor.

I guess the question is, when John McCain says that there has been progress over these past seven years, are you fearful that those words will be used against him to make it sound like he's out of touch with how Americans are feeling on the economy right now?

FIORINA: Well, only if Senator Obama continues to misquote him. I guess there is a view that you can't argue against the actual policy and programs.

Senator McCain has been extremely clear, over the last several weeks -- and, in fact, we will be in Selma, Alabama and Youngstown, Ohio and New Orleans this week, talking to some people who have been forgotten by other presidential candidates.

So I think John McCain understands that, when gas prices are as high as they are, as high as they've ever been, and food prices are rising and home mortgages are in trouble, then, yes, 90 percent of the American people feel that the economy is going in the wrong direction, and he proposes action now, as well as action over the longer term, to make sure that we remain competitive in the global economy. BLITZER: The New York Times, today, really hammered away at John McCain's economic plan, saying this, among other thing, "Senator John McCain's speech on taxes last week was widely seen as a stay-the-Bush- course pledge. Not true. Mr. McCain would dig a much deeper hole than President Bush, exactly what the country does not need. Mr. Bush is already bequeathing his successor a government deep in debt, ill- prepared to meet foreseeable challenges, health care, road and bridge repair, alternative energy, let alone emergencies."

Some very strong words from the New York Times, criticizing John McCain's economic policies.

And I guess it goes to this matter. In 2001 and 2003 John McCain was one of two Republicans who voted against the Bush tax cuts. Now he says they must be made permanent.

Why the change? Why should the tax cuts which he originally opposed as being skewed in favor of the wealthy -- why now should they be made permanent?

FIORINA: Well, for a couple reasons. First, because the economy is in trouble, and to reverse those tax cuts would in essence mean a trillion-dollar tax increase. And the one thing you don't do when an economy is slowing down is raise people's taxes.

Secondly, a lot of small businesses file income tax against the personal income tax schedule. And that means that you would also be putting an extra burden on small business. Small businesses create 75 percent of the jobs in this country.

Third, because John McCain has always believed that tax cuts lead to growth, and growth is what we need. But he's also always believed that tax cuts need to be accompanied by spending cuts.

And so he also, in his speech, laid out some very specific plans for how he would get at those spending cuts, including vetoing every earmark that crossed his desk, as well as subjecting every government contract program and agency to a top-to-bottom review.

BLITZER: Here's the other criticism that the New York Times leveled, today, against Senator McCain.

They said "Mr. McCain's other big proposals to cut the corporate tax and make the credit for research and development permanent are fatally flawed by the fact that he offers no feasible way to pay for them. We do not doubt that Mr. McCain would try harder than Mr. Bush to cut spending, but his claim that he would offset hundreds of billions of dollars in new tax cuts by closing loopholes and cutting pork is just not credible. Pork spending, or earmarks, come to some $18 billion a year."

How is he going to pay for the billions and billions of dollars in additional tax cuts beyond the Bush -- making the Bush tax cuts permanent -- that he wants to enact?

FIORINA: First, we would quibble with the amount of money that earmarks cost. And in the last two years, we think they've cost more like $35 billion and not $18 billion.

BLITZER: But he's talking about hundreds of billions of dollars, that additional tax cuts would result in losses to the U.S. Treasury.

FIORINA: That's right. But let's go back to the fundamental here, which is, when an economy is slowing, you do things to stimulate the economy.

The business tax rate in this country is the second highest in the world. Only Japan has a higher business tax rate, and we all know how well the Japanese economy has been doing for the last 20 years.

Innovation is what produces job growth. That's why he wants to make the R&D tax credit permanent and, as well, I think he's been very clear about the kinds of things that would be found within government.

For example, the Boeing contract alone saved taxpayers $6 billion. I think, more importantly, John McCain wants to change the mindset in Washington. The mindset in Washington today is it's easy to raise American taxpayers' taxes but it's very hard to cut government spending.

And he wants to reverse that mindset so that it's hard to raise our taxes and much easier to cut spending.

BLITZER: Although you understand that a lot of average folks out there are going to say, why should multi-millionaires be getting additional tax cuts?

FIORINA: Well, I think, again, we have to go back and look at who files those income taxes, under that schedule.

FIORINA: Or, for example, we need to look at how many Americans have an investment in the stock market, which Senators Obama and Clinton would double the taxes on. 100 million Americans own some kind of financial instrument, and the Democrats would double the tax rate on those financial instruments from 15 percent to 30 percent. That doesn't make a lot of sense when an economy is slowing down.

And finally I guess I would say the Democrats have been all discussing up on Capitol Hill the need for an economic stimulus package right now. I would say a summer gas tax holiday is a pretty good stimulus right when and where Americans need it most.

BLITZER: Carly Fiorina is a senior adviser, top adviser to John McCain. Thanks very much for coming in.

FIORINA: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: We hope to have you back very soon.

Coming up next, the former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. Is he open to taking the No. 2 spot on the Republican ticket? My conversation with him right after this.


BLITZER: He's no longer running for the Republican presidential nomination, but former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee is as busy as ever, and he's still being mentioned as a possible running mate for John McCain. I spoke with him about his political future and whether John McCain's should have denounced comments that his religious backer, the Reverend John Hagee, made about the Catholic Church.


HUCKABEE: I think Senator McCain has been very clear that he embraces anybody's endorsement, he just doesn't necessarily embrace everything that that endorser might say or might have said through the course of the years. That's true for any of us. Nobody would ever be able to say John McCain is a religious... BLITZER: If you were still running for president, would you have done anything differently involving that whole pastor Hagee uproar?

HUCKABEE: Well, I would have certainly been very adamant, but I think Senator McCain has been, that he disagrees strongly with any statements that seem to go in the direction of bringing disparity upon the Catholic Church, because it would be ridiculous. The pope is a world spiritual leader. I'm an evangelical. I'm not a Catholic, but I have nothing but the highest of respect not only for Pope Benedict but for Pope John Paul II, who I thought was one of the truly great spiritual leader for all the world.

BLITZER: Let's use this occasion for you to bring our viewers up to date. We've been getting reports you've hired a talent agent in Hollywood. What's that about?

HUCKABEE: Well, I think it sounds like, you know, I'm going Hollywood.

BLITZER: Sounds like you want to be a movie star.

HUCKABEE: You got any openings?


No, what I'm trying to do is put a future together. I've created a Web site, which is Still be accessed through our old Web site of, but it's a political platform to help people run for Senate and House.

BLITZER: You want to raise money and give money away?

HUCKABEE: Exactly, and to campaign for people, which I'll be doing this year.

BLITZER: So it will be a political action committee, basically?

HUCKABEE: Exactly. But I'm also exploring ways to take this community that we did see form during the course of the campaign, to keep it active. These are voices of millions of Americans out there, who believe in making sure that the future of this country doesn't forget a lot of those people that some might say are invisible.

BLITZER: So what does a talent agent have to do with it?

HUCKABEE: Well, what they're going to be doing is helping me in the coordination of everything from speaking and books that I hope to write, and also, you know, doing things in media. But you know, I don't know this field. I'm not a person who's navigated those waters before, and they had approached me. And I visited with them, and I felt that it was better to have somebody kind of helping me steer through that than me jumping out there in dark water where I never swam.

BLITZER: John McCain says -- told our own John King just today that he probably will want his running mate to be anti-abortion, pro- life. I know you would fit that part of the requirements. What do you think about being his running mate?

HUCKABEE: You know, that's going to be Senator McCain's decision. I've always said you don't sit around waiting for the phone to ring hoping the prom date comes in. The fact is, I'm going to support Senator McCain's decision, because he has got to make that decision not based on what I think, but based on the game plan that he has put together to win the presidency. And quite frankly, him winning the presidency is a lot more important than whether he picks me.

BLITZER: But you're open to it.

HUCKABEE: Nobody would ever say they're closed to it. I think, you know, let's be honest, Wolf, I mean, people say, oh, no, I would never consider it. But the truth is, the vice presidency is a job that nobody claims to want and nobody ever turns down.

BLITZER: Governor, good luck.

HUCKABEE: Thank you very much. Great to see you again.

BLITZER: Thank you.


BLITZER: There's much more ahead on "Late Edition," including our preview of Pennsylvania's primary with two of the state's leading politicians. That primary only two days away. "Late Edition" continues at the top of the hour.


BLITZER: This is "Late Edition," the last word in Sunday talk.


BLITZER: The final push for Pennsylvania.

CLINTON: I am ready to roll up my sleeves and get to work for you. But, of course, I have to win. And that really depends upon what happens on Tuesday.

OBAMA: If we are willing to work hard in this election, we can take our government back.

BLITZER: We'll preview Tuesday's key Democratic primary, with Obama supporter Chaka Fattah and Clinton supporter Mayor Michael Nutter of Philadelphia.

MCCAIN: Time for partisan debate in America is over.

BLITZER: As the Democratic presidential candidates battle on, polls show Republican John McCain making inroads with voters. Assessments on the race for the White House from three of the best political team on television. Pope Benedict XVI wraps up his historic visit to the United States. Perspective on his message from Catholic University President Father David O'Connell and Vatican analyst Delia Gallagher. "Late Edition's" second hour begins right now.


BLITZER: Welcome back. You're looking at live pictures right now from Yankee Stadium, where a concert is happening, as thousands and thousands of people arrive for an enormous mass to be celebrated later this afternoon by Pope Benedict XVI. We're going to have much more on the pope's historic visit to the United States coming up in only a few moments, including a live report from our own Soledad O'Brien over at Yankee Stadium. CNN will have special live coverage of all of the events surrounding the mass. That coverage begins at 2:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN.

Let's get first, though, to the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. With the Pennsylvania primary only two days away, the candidates are turning up the heat and trying to turn out their supporters in Pennsylvania. Joining us now, two guests, the Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter. He is a key supporter of Senator Hillary Clinton. He's joining us from Philadelphia. Also in the City of Brotherly Love, Democratic Congressman Chaka Fattah. He is a strong supporter of Senator Barack Obama. To both of you gentlemen, thanks very much for coming in.

And, Mr. Mayor, let me begin with you. With this poll that has raised a lot of eyebrows, a Washington Post-ABC News poll that asked this question of Democrats. "Who do you think is more honest and trustworthy?" 53 percent said Obama, 30 percent said Clinton. Those are tough numbers for Hillary Clinton going into Pennsylvania's primary on Tuesday.

NUTTER: Well, I think we all know that Senator Clinton is a pretty tough person, and it's going to take someone tough to run this country, given where we are coming out of seven and a half years or so of George Bush.

Senator Clinton is not only a very honest person, she's a sincere individual. She has a long track record of supporting the issues that matter most to people like those in Philadelphia and all across Pennsylvania, and this country. So I'm not the best on polls. You know, this time last year I wasn't polling too well in our mayor's race. But she's a tremendous person, a strong person in her own right. She has the right stuff it takes to run this country.

BLITZER: Here's the poll of polls, the average poll of polls, Congressman, showing right now, if you average the major polls in Pennsylvania, Clinton with a slight advantage -- 48 to 43 percent over Obama. But 9 percent of likely Democratic voters unsure right now. How worried are you that she could pull out an impressive win in Pennsylvania, given the fact that she won by 10 points in neighboring Ohio? Right next door, she won 54 to 44 percent there. If she gets a similar win in Pennsylvania, that will give her campaign some fresh momentum. FATTAH: Well, look, she obviously has a home court advantage, not only with Mayor Nutter, who's very popular and doing a great job here as mayor of Philadelphia, but Governor Rendell and 100 other mayors across the state of Pennsylvania. This is a home court advantage for Clinton. She was up almost 30 points 30 days ago in the polls.

Senator Obama's campaign is focused on the issues. He's come and he's worked hard. And I think he's going to be rewarded for that on election day. We're trying to get every single person who supports Senator Obama to come out and cast their vote and win every delegate.

BLITZER: All right. So, Congressman, what issue, from your perspective tipped the balance most why you endorsed Barack Obama? Where does he stand on a key substantive issue differently than Hillary Clinton?

FATTAH: Well, in December, right before the Iowa caucuses, I endorsed Senator Obama and I said then because he opposed the war in Iraq, I think that he is the person that we should nominate in our party.

I think it's very important for the Democratic Party to nominate someone who opposed the war. I guess Senator Clinton is tough and we love her, but her support for this war, her vote to authorize us to go to war -- our state has lost 200 young people. We've got 2,400 seriously injured. It's costing Pennsylvanians $11 million a day in terms of the total cost of our war efforts in Iraq, and I think that this is the critical point of demarcation, even though there are other differences among the candidates. This is the clearest one.

BLITZER: What do you think, Mayor?

NUTTER: Well, I do appreciate that, and certainly it would have been that much more substantive had Senator Obama actually been in the Senate, as Senator Clinton was, to have to make that vote. But Pennsylvanians I think are also broad-based folks. They look at a variety of issues. And there are a lot of issues where Senator Clinton I think has clearly demonstrated...

BLITZER: What's the No. 1 from your perspective?

NUTTER: Well, if you're in a city like Philadelphia, her laying out her crime-fighting strategy from federal perspective, that she debuted here in Philadelphia -- I was with her at that time -- looking to cut the homicide rate, helping ex-offenders get jobs, putting more police officers on the streets. These are real issues that a president, that the federal government can actually do something about. We had that experience in the '90s.

And so on every issue, and I had an opportunity to talk with both candidates about the issues -- public safety, education, economic development and jobs, investing in infrastructure and mass transit -- on all of those issues, that big cities like Philly and many others across the country, clearly Senator Clinton understands these issues, has plans, ideas, programs and a demonstrated track record of getting things done. I think Philadelphians want to hear more than just one issue.

BLITZER: All right, Congressman, you want to respond to that?

FATTAH: Well, look, I think the mayor is absolutely right. He knows that this issue about crime is critically important, and Senator Obama would I think in a very similar way deal with those issues.

The problem, as Senator Obama says, is that when we're spending $12 billion a month in Iraq, this is money we could have put more cops on the streets, that we could have been able to rebuild our schools and deal with the other challenges that we face. We can't have it both ways. And when you're a chief executive like Mayor Nutter, he knows that, because you've got to make real decisions. When the federal government is spending -- it's going to be $1 trillion when it's all said and done...

BLITZER: But Congressman, wouldn't you say that when it comes to the war in Iraq right now, forget about their policies in 2003, but right now, is there a major difference that you see between Hillary Clinton, what she would do as president, as far as Iraq is concerned, compared to Barack Obama?

FATTAH: I know that there are people who say, well, let's forget about the vote to go to war. I voted against that going to war. So did the other Congresspeople from our city. Most of the Democrats in the House voted against this. And Senator Clinton voted for it. And you can't move past that when there's 4,000 young people who have died.

BLITZER: I know, but is there a difference -- is there a difference -- hold on, hold on a second...

NUTTER: Just like Senator Biden, Senator Kerry, you know, a lot of Democratic senators voted for that same resolution, and they were in the Senate.

BLITZER: But is there a difference, Congressman, right now, moving forward, in what they would do?

FATTAH: Well, yes, I believe that Senator Obama has laid out a very clear strategy to move our troops out of Iraq, to refocus those efforts. He said in the very first of these debates that he wanted to focus on getting after Osama bin Laden, and he would go after him in Pakistan. Senator Clinton and others criticized him. And now I think that, you know, McCain and Clinton are moving closer to this issue, that what we should be doing is going after those who perpetuated the 9/11 attacks and not have gotten distracted in Iraq. So not only is he talking about withdrawing troops from Iraq, he's talking about focusing on our real enemies that threaten real cities and citizens like those that live here in Philadelphia in Pennsylvania.


NUTTER: And I think, Wolf, as both Congressman Fattah and I both know, because we were there, Senator Clinton said just on Wednesday night, here in Philadelphia at the debate, she has a -- her plan is to get 60 days a plan from the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, our national security advisers and others, to start withdrawing troops from Iraq as well. They are both in the same position. They may have slightly different timetables. I think Senator Obama has talked about 16 months or so; Senator Clinton said give me two months and we're going to start moving to get those troops out. Both of them want the war to come to an end. Everybody knows that.

BLITZER: And referring to that debate that you mentioned, the debate in Philadelphia earlier in the week, on the day after, they reacted to what happened in that debate. I'm going to play these little soundbites. Listen to this.


OBAMA: Last night I think we set a new record, because it took us 45 minutes before we even started talking about a single issue that matters to the American people. It took us 45 minutes.

CLINTON: I'm with Harry Truman on this, if you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.


BLITZER: Where are you, Congressman, on this? Because you know that Hillary Clinton supporters say that if Barack Obama can't take a little heat from Democrats, or from some ABC anchors, get ready, because come the fall campaign, the Republican machine is going to gear up and go after him in a much more assertive way.

FATTAH: Well, I'm with the two Clinton supporters that I know and trust most, that's Governor Rendell and Mayor Nutter, who both commented after the debate that the first 45 minutes was a waste of time, that it shouldn't have been focused on these gaffs, and that we should be dealing with the real issues of crime, and Social Security, and tax policy. So I agree with them.

And I think there's a consensus, at least among those of us who saw this debate, that it was -- to ask a question about, you know, whether you love the flag or whether you think Reverend Wright loves America as much as you do, I think for Mayor Nutter, who was quoted on this in the Philadelphia Enquirer and Governor Rendell, who stood with me in the spin room and said the identical point -- I agree with the two of them on this issue.

BLITZER: Mayor, is Barack Obama tough enough to be the Democratic presidential nominee?

NUTTER: Well, I would have to say I'm sure he is. I mean, I don't know him that well. But I mean, look, Senator Obama has put together a campaign, he's come along. I was there for the 2004 Democratic National Convention. He made a tremendous speech. He went on to become the United States senator. He's run a good campaign.

You know, the first 40 minutes or so was certainly slightly unusual. You know, whether someone's answer to a question how they deal with the pressure, I mean, it's interesting to find out. But, you know, we're all going to have to be pretty tough for the fall. And as I've said on numerous occasions -- and I think Congressman Fattah agrees -- we're going to get through this Democratic primary. You know, Democrats kind of specialize in tough primaries. And then we're going to rally around our Democratic nominee. And I'm for Senator Clinton, he's for Senator Obama. But whoever ultimately becomes the Democratic nominee, we all need to rally around them, strengthen them to get ready for the fall elections so we can win.

BLITZER: Do you agree with him on that, Congressman?

FATTAH: Wolf, we're from Philadelphia. We're a sports town. We have quarterback controversies, and this is a quarterback controversy. But it's about who's going to lead the same team. And we're going to pick between Senator Clinton and -- or Senator Obama. And on Tuesday, Pennsylvanians are going to have their voice heard, which is a great thing, because I think we all thought this would be over on February 5th. We're happy to have a chance to weigh in. The only thing I'm disappointed is that the pope gave you that special medal and I didn't get one.


BLITZER: We'll discuss that later.

NUTTER: It's not going to help you on Tuesday.

BLITZER: Guys, thanks very much for coming in. All eyes on Pennsylvania coming up in two days. Congressman Chaka Fattah joining us, as well as the Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter.

We're going to go back and show you some live pictures right now coming out of Yankee Stadium, where only in about two hours or so, Pope Benedict XVI will be celebrating mass at the stadium. Estimated 60,000 people will gather on this, the final day of his historic visit to the United States.

Right now, those who have arrived a little bit early are listening to a celebratory concert. Some of those expected to appear are Harry Connick, Jr., Stephanie Mills and Jose Feliciano. We'll have live coverage of the mass. Our coverage with Soledad O'Brien anchoring will begin at 2:00 p.m. Eastern. Much more of the coverage of the pope's visit to the United States coming up here on "Late Edition" as well. We'll take a quick break. We'll be right back.


BLITZER: Welcome back. You're looking at live pictures of Yankee Stadium right now, the West Point cadet players there on stage as thousands and thousands of people arrive for a mass that Pope Benedict XVI will celebrate in less than two hours, about two hours or so from now.

The message the pope has brought on this historic visit to the United States will clearly last a lot longer after his six-day visit here to the United States. With us to discuss what the trip has meant, both in terms of faith and politics, perhaps, and a lot more is Father David O'Connell, the president of the Catholic University of America. Father O'Connell is in our Washington bureau. And here with me in New York is the long-time analyst of the Vatican, Delia Gallagher. Thanks to both of you once again for helping us better understand what's going on.

Father O'Connell, I just want you to briefly tell our viewers why you felt that that earlier event, the earlier decision today by the pope to go to ground zero was so powerful, the message he was trying to send not only to the United States, but to people all over the world.

O'CONNELL: You know, that event, Wolf, it touched every single one of us as Americans, and it's something that's burned into our psyche. So it's a point of connection that the holy father made with all of America in that visit this morning. Feeling our pain, and offering us hope and encouragement and prayer. A beautiful pastoral gesture on his part that will live for a long time in our memory.

BLITZER: Delia, the mass that the pope is about to celebrate at Yankee Stadium, we saw a similar mass at the Washington Nationals Park baseball stadium in Washington earlier in the week. This is really -- all those people who will come there, the thousands and thousands -- there were about 45,000, 50,000 in Washington, another 60,000 today. For them, this is a really, really powerful experience. It becomes a powerful experience.

GALLAGHER: Well, this, of course, a mass for a Catholic is the central celebration, and so that's why there's an importance there for any Catholic.

But I think in addition, I noticed yesterday, for example, at St. Pat's, a lot of people had difficulty kind of getting any access to the pope, getting close to him. They weren't really allowed to line the streets. The security was a little bit oppressive for some of them. So I think this is also an important time for the average Catholic, really, just to get to celebrate with their pope.

BLITZER: What was the most important thing, Father O'Connell, do you believe the pope achieved during these six days?

O'CONNELL: Well, I think once again, he brought a very positive view of the Catholic Church to all of Americans all over the world. But I think one thing that also was accomplished -- he introduced himself to our country, the citizens of our country and to the Catholics who really didn't know him that well. And I think the trip is nothing short of incredible and a triumph for him and for the Catholic Church.

BLITZER: He did directly, Delia, address the issue of sexual abuse by priests, something that has been very painful for a lot of Catholics, and not an easy decision for him. I'm going to play a little clip of what he said.


BENEDICT XVI: It has not been easy. And as the president of your episcopal conference has indicated, it was sometimes very badly handled.


BLITZER: He said responding to the situation, Delia, has not been easy, and it was sometimes very badly handled. But he addressed it several times. And he even met with victims of the sexual abuse.

GALLAGHER: Yes. And, I mean, I have to agree with Father O'Connell. I think the most important thing that the pope has done is introduced himself and shown himself. And the way he's shown himself was precisely through this meeting, for example, and through the fact that he addressed the sex abuse crisis head-on.

I mean, I think that that came as a surprise to a lot of people, but that reflects, really, who this man is, who is a straight shooter, essentially, and not afraid to tackle some of those difficult subjects -- and very sincere, so that the personal meeting, as you know, has an effect on...

BLITZER: It's had an effect on Pope Benedict XVI. And as this visit, Delia, went on, he seemed to be enjoying it increasingly. This is something he never sought; he never wanted. But give me your sense.

GALLAGHER: Well, I have to say, you know, watching the pope closely the last three years, we've always said he's very shy; he's very timid, maybe hasn't quite found his feet on the world stage like John Paul II.

But I've been interested to see how much this trip, kind of, the enthusiasm of the audiences here has affected him. I mean, yesterday, he spontaneously went down to the crowd. I've never really seen him do that before. His secret service was, kind of, running after him.

I think there is a question about how much has this trip done good for Pope Benedict? BLITZER: And what about that? Because you had met John Paul II, Father O'Connell. You've now met Pope Benedict. You knew him earlier in his life as a cardinal.

Talk about the differences between these two popes.

O'CONNELL: Well, it's almost become a cliche, at this point, that one is very effusive and one is very shy. But I think we saw, this week, the joy that really transformed Pope Benedict, right before our eyes -- even yesterday, the spontaneity, as Delia said. He even spoke spontaneously.

And at one point, he remembered that he forgot to address the crowds in Spanish. And with great amusement, he, kind of, in a sense, put himself down, a little bit, and put his memory down, a little bit, and then quickly responded. This was just a great opportunity for us to see the man, Pope Benedict XVI.

BLITZER: He was reaching out to all sorts of groups. He met with other religious leaders, Delia. He went to a synagogue, the first time ever that a pope has visited a synagogue in the United States on the eve of Passover.

This was really an opportunity for him to reach out.

GALLAGHER: I mean, look, the pope came in with a big handicap. He's been, for three years, kind of, seen as -- people aren't sure about where he stands on some things, with the Jewish community, with the sex abuse issue, with traditionalists and liberal Catholics.

So I think that he did a fairly good job, this week, of trying to cover the whole range of different people and different issues. If you look at his talks, I mean, he really covers quite a number of different issues, without being anything that was completely expected. There was a lot of unexpected in this pope.

BLITZER: There was a lot of unexpected.

And, Father O'Connell, something unexpected happened to you. The pope gave you something that I'm sure you will always treasure. And I want you to show our viewers in the United States and around the world what Benedict gave you?

O'CONNELL: Yes. After I had the opportunity to introduce the two of you, the pope and I walked into a room next door, and we had some time together, and he took off his white hat and presented it to me as a gift.

And so I will treasure this. I will put this in the university library in a collection -- in a collection that we're going to put together commemorating and honoring Pope Benedict, some of the letters that he and I exchanged over the years before he became pope. It's going to be a wonderful tribute -- the chair that our students at Catholic University actually designed and built for the pope.

So we'll have a lot of memories, as a university, about Pope Benedict's visit to the United States, and to us on campus.

BLITZER: And I will have a lot of memories, also, thanks to Father O'Connell who invited me to have a very brief opportunity to greet the pope on the campus of Catholic University. And there it is, Father O'Connell right in the middle of that picture.

Father O'Connell, you couldn't have been more generous. You couldn't have been kinder. Thank you very much.

And the pope was very, very generous, in meeting with the special guest that you included on the campus. I want to thank you for that as well.

O'CONNELL: You're most welcome, Wolf.

BLITZER: Father David O'Connell has helped us a great deal over these past few days, and for a long time, better appreciating what's going on in the Catholic Church. Thank you, Father O'Connell.

Delia Gallagher, our Vatican analyst, thanks to you as well.

GALLAGHER: Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: We're going to go and turn from religion back to politics, when we come back, with a live report from Philadelphia on the battle for the Democratic presidential nomination.

And we're also going to tell you what the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, John McCain had to say this morning, in our very popular "In Case You Missed It" segment. Our political panel and a lot more, standing by, when "Late Edition" continues.


BLITZER: Now, in case you missed it, let's check some of the highlights from the other Sunday morning talk shows here in the United States.

On NBC, the top strategist for the Obama and Clinton campaigns sparred over which candidate has been more negative.


DAVID AXELROD, CHIEF CAMPAIGN STRATEGIST FOR BARACK OBAMA: As long as she feels she has a reasonable chance to win the nomination, you know, I understand her continuing. She's poured herself into this. She's a formidable candidate and formidable person.

But if the strategy ultimately becomes we can't win the delegate count; we really can't win the nomination on the legit, so we're going to apply the kitchen-sink strategy and tear down Senator Obama and see if we can destroy him in order to advance our own candidacy, that is damaging. That is bad for the party.



GEOFF GARIN, CHIEF CAMPAIGN STRATEGIST FOR HILLARY CLINTON: Talk about the kitchen sink. Just this weekend, they're out there with two new negative ads.

Senator Obama's campaign is based on a negative premise about Senator Clinton. And somehow she's been cast as the one who is running the negative campaign. She is the person -- she is all about solutions. Our events in Pennsylvania and elsewhere aren't about what's wrong with Barack Obama. They are Solutions for America events.


BLITZER: On ABC, the presumptive Republican nominee, John McCain, responded to claims by the Democratic presidential candidates that he simply doesn't get it when it comes to rescuing the ailing U.S. economy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MCCAIN: American families are sitting around the kitchen table today, trying to figure out how they're going to keep their home, keep their job. Times are very, very tough. And the worst thing you can do -- the worst thing you can do is raise taxes. Both Senator Clinton and Senator Obama want to raise taxes. That's out of touch. That's out of touch.


BLITZER: On CBS, the Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell, a strong Clinton supporter, and Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, an Obama supporter, addressed concerns among Democrats that John McCain is running even with both candidates.


SEN. BOB CASEY, D-PA.: We know that both these candidates can win Pennsylvania in the fall and beat John McCain. I don't really care what John McCain's poll shows right now with these candidates. Either of them can win.



GOV. EDWARD G. RENDELL, D-PA.: Don't worry about general election polls in April. Worry about general election polls in late September and October.

And I think, whoever our candidate is, you're going to find, at least in Pennsylvania, the Democratic Party united as one.


BLITZER: And on Fox, President Bush's former top aide Karl Rove weighted in on whether Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama would be the stronger general election Democratic candidate.


KARL ROVE, FORMER WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY CHIEF OF STAFF: I do think that each one of them has their strengths and weaknesses. She is a more durable candidate, who's better known and tougher to move. On the other hand, Obama is the untested candidate, and could either perform extremely well, as he did in Iowa, or extremely badly, as he did in the debate last week. I would say have to say that, I think, that, on points, I would give it to Clinton, but not by much.


BLITZER: Highlights from the other Sunday morning talk shows, here on "Late Edition," the last words in Sunday talk.

Up next, all eyes on Pennsylvania, only two days before the critical contest there. Our political panel is standing by. We'll tell you how the race stands and what to look for Tuesday. "Late Edition" continues right after this.


BLITZER: Welcome back. A big and potentially pivotal day, Tuesday, in the Democratic race for the White House.

Let's discussed with three of the best political team on television. Joining us now, our senior political analyst, Gloria Borger. She's in Washington. And here in New York, CNN world affairs analyst, Fareed Zakaria; and Mark Halperin from our sister publication, Time Magazine.

To all of you, thanks very much for coming in.

Let me put up on the screen our estimate of where this race for the White House stands right now, on the Democratic side, among the Democratic delegate count.

As of right now, we see a total of 1,644 for Barack Obama; 1,498 for Hillary Clinton; 2,025 is the magic number needed for the nomination.

Gloria, what does she need to do in Pennsylvania, on Tuesday, to give her some new momentum and help her potentially capture the nomination?

BORGER: Well, momentum is really all she's got right now. And so I think she has to win by double digits in Pennsylvania.

As you know, wolf, the polls have been closing. The gap has been narrowing a bit. It's, kind of, been frozen at four, five, or six points, for a while now.

And she's got to really show that she can win in a state -- a battleground state like Pennsylvania, because that's the argument that she's making to those superdelegates, that she's a more electable candidate. So she's got to show that.

BLITZER: Ten points -- that double digits. That would be double digits, Fareed -- she won by 10 points in Ohio, 54 percent to 44 percent.

The polls, right now, show it's narrowed dramatically. In our average poll, it's closed about five points right now -- but still 9 percent unsure, undecided. What do you think?

ZAKARIA: It's looking bad for her, to be honest. Because, as you say, she's won these large battleground states. She's won them quite heftily in the past. It doesn't matter. The math is unrelenting, and it doesn't seem likely that she can find a way to get the nomination without getting the superdelegates.

Now, the problem for the superdelegates is that they all keep saying they're not going to overturn the will of the majority. It doesn't really make any sense because, of course, the superdelegates were created precisely to act as a check on the will of the majority. If you want to ratify the will of the majority, you don't need superdelegates. But the Democratic Party is uncomfortable with that. So I don't see where she goes.

BLITZER: If she doesn't get the nomination, Barack Obama wins the nomination, will she and her supporters have a point in saying they were robbed because of the blunders involving Michigan and Florida, whoever might have been responsible for negating their involvement in making this decision? HALPERIN: I don't think they'll have a point, and I don't think they do. I think the Democrats played by the rules. Howard Dean was very clear. Barack Obama played by the rules. So I don't think that will be a talking point that will linger beyond...

BLITZER: Well, no, no, the question is, if Michigan and Florida would have been part of the activity; if they had not moved up their primaries to January, would have stayed in February, presumably -- correct me if I'm wrong -- she would have done well in those two states?

HALPERIN: She probably would have. But we won't really know, because Obama did not compete in those states. He wasn't even on the ballot in Michigan.

You know, there's a lot of hypotheticals about things you can go back to, including what those states did, including her failure to participate actively in a lot of the caucus states, which caused her to be behind in the delegate situation now.

But I think that there will come a time when one of these candidates, probably Hillary Clinton, will have lost the nomination. It might be in June. It might be sooner. It might be not until the convention.

When that happens, it will be up to the loser, if the Democrats want to win, to instantly say, I'm for the other person. That, I think, will be the pressure on Hillary Clinton not to revisit Michigan and Florida.

BLITZER: I'm sure that both of those candidates will say that -- whoever loses -- and we'll see what happens down the road.

Listen to this sound bite, Gloria, from Barack Obama, earlier in the week, in North Carolina.


OBAMA: That's her right. That's her right to, kind of, twist the knife a little bit.


You know, that's why -- that's all right. That's all right. You know, that's why she's only airing negative attacks on TV in Pennsylvania, like most places.

Look, I understand that, because that's the textbook Washington game.


BLITZER: Who wins; who loses more by the nastiness of this Democratic battle, Gloria?

BORGER: Well, you know, he's running negative ads, now, as well. So he can't say that she's just running negative ads.

Look, I think Barack Obama made some mistakes in that debate. And he now has to prove that he's tough. Because one of the raps against him is that he's not tough enough to take on the Republicans, and he can't win.

So what you're seeing is Obama fighting back here, saying, yes, I can take on Hillary Clinton.

He's not taking on John McCain, as much, anymore, in these last few days before the Pennsylvania primary. He's made Hillary Clinton his target, to show that he's tough enough to beat her, too.

BLITZER: Fareed?

ZAKARIA: The problem isn't negative ads, per se, because negative ads are comparative. The problem is, there really aren't those great policy differences between Hillary and Barack.

As a result, the negativity becomes very personal, and it becomes the kind of thing that does damage the party.

So, for instance, when Hillary talks about Ayers, this radical whom...

BLITZER: William Ayers.

ZAKARIA: William Ayers, whom Barack Obama had some association with, it is the classic technique that the Republican Party has used over the last 30 years, of impugning the patriotism of the Democrats.

And, of course, McCain has now jumped on it and is doing precisely that. That doesn't strike me as a win-win for anyone.

HALPERIN: In thinking about the general election, Barack Obama has to be tough, which he was trying to show himself to be, there. But in the debate and in that sound bite, and the back-and-forth they had, he also needs to be gracious and honest.

And I think that, in the debate, he said some things that weren't true. In the debate, at times, he did not seem particularly gracious. And I think that's a real problem for him, as he's still introducing himself to the American people.

BLITZER: What did he say that seemed to indicate he wasn't honest?

HALPERIN: Well, he said that his campaign only brought up the issue of her misstatements about Bosnia when asked by reporters.

HALPERIN: That's not true. And just yesterday, they did a conference call specifically on that topic.

Maybe he doesn't know what his campaign is doing when he's not on these conference calls. But they've done several calls. They bring it up all the time.

He also said his handwriting was not on signature -- his handwriting was not on a document or a questionnaire related to gun control.

These may not be big things. You might think they're big things. But my point is, he needs to beat John McCain if he's the nominee. I think he needs to be gracious and he needs to not make the kind of errors that will be exploited in the general election.

BLITZER: All right, guys, stand by, because we're going to continue this conversation. Don't go away. A lot more with our political panel when we come back.

We'll also go live to Pennsylvania. The Democratic candidates are battling down to the wire with only 48 hours to go. Remember, CNN will be bringing you the results of the Pennsylvania primary like no one else. We'll be reporting from the CNN Election Center. Our special coverage with the best political team on television begins Tuesday, 7:00 p.m. Eastern. "Late Edition" continues right after this.


BLITZER: Once again, you're looking live here at Yankee Stadium. They're getting ready for Pope Benedict XVI. They'll be celebrating mass there for an estimated 60,000 people.

The Catholic vote is clearly a crucial voting block in Pennsylvania and many other states, but we're focusing in on Pennsylvania right now, only 48 hours from its primary there. CNN's Jim Acosta has been looking into how Pennsylvania's Catholics are leaning as he follows the political action in Philadelphia right now. What are you learning, Jim?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, one of the core constituencies that is up for grabs in this state is the Catholic vote. Roughly one-third of all Pennsylvania Democrats is Catholic. And Hillary Clinton has done quite well with this demographic, beating Barack Obama by wide margins in places like Texas and Ohio. But Senator Obama has a key Catholic on his side, in Pennsylvania Democratic Bob Casey. Casey, as we know, the son of the late governor of the state, Bob Casey, whose anti-abortion views cost him a speaking role at the 1992 Democratic National Convention, at which Bill Clinton was nominated for the presidency.

Senator Casey, who we talked to earlier this week, told us that that has nothing to do with his endorsement of Senator Obama. And this primary comes just two days after the departure of Pope Benedict XVI and his historic trip to America. We talked to a religion and public policy expert over at the University of Pennsylvania earlier this week. He told us he expects a boost in the Catholic vote as a result of the pope's trip. He says Catholics will be heading into this week energized, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Jim, thanks very much. We'll be watching with you. Jim's with the CNN Election Express right now in Pennsylvania.

Coming up next, John McCain releases his tax returns, but not his wife's. And he still hasn't released his medical records. What's going on? We'll talk about that and more when we come back with our political panel. We'll be right back.


BLITZER: We're back with Gloria Borger, Fareed Zakaria and Mark Halperin.

How big of a deal is it, Mark, that John McCain released his tax returns for 2006-2007, but didn't release his wife's tax returns? Some estimates by the U.S. Senate, among others, she could be worth $100 million. She's the heiress to a beer distributorship. Is that a big deal or a little deal?

ZAKARIA: Well, it's potentially a big deal. I don't know that we've ever had a president before who had a prenuptial agreement in his current marriage. I think people will find that interesting.

What we know of her holdings is there are things that don't really have any connection -- or much of a direct connection to the federal government. There are things like beer distribution, real estate, things like that, mostly locally in Arizona. So I think there will be some pressure in the general election for him to release more. But there's nothing we know or even suspect that I think causes the kind of conflict of interest that people are worried about, say, with President Clinton and his dealings.

BLITZER: Because some of our viewers, Gloria, will remember four years ago, the then chairman of the Republican Party, Ed Gillespie, he made statements saying that Teresa Heinz Kerry should release all of her wealth, all of her information, if she wants her husband to be the next president of the United States. They're not necessarily, the Republican Party, not saying that right now about Cindy McCain.

BORGER: No, they're not. But I'm sure whomever the Democratic nominee is will be saying that. Of course, if it's Hillary Clinton, then they can come back and say, well, you need to release all the records relating to who donated to Bill Clinton's library.

But I can tell you from talking to John McCain throughout the years, over his whole -- the ethics issues that come up in Congress, he wouldn't even fly on the corporate plane that she sometimes uses. So he would travel separately from his wife, because he didn't believe politicians should accept those flights. ZAKARIA: Look, I think there's a bigger issue for us. At one level, this is a kind of amusing question of which of our three millionaire senators is going to seen as the populist. But the really interesting issue on McCain is not his personal taxes, it's his tax policies. I would love to see a detailed accounting of how McCain is going to achieve the tax cuts he's talking about which collectively add up over the next four years to $1 trillion. The total spending he talks about, which is shutting off earmarks, is $18 billion a year. That, to me, is the real issue that we should be getting a great deal more detail from these candidates on. How can the Democrats promise that they won't raise taxes and yet claim to be expanding medical care, you know, health care? We don't hear a lot on those issues, but we get into these tax returns.

BLITZER: And we will be hearing a lot more about all of those issues.

But on releasing documents, the other issue, I guess that has been out there for a while, is his health, John McCain's health. He's 71 years old. He would be -- he'll be 72 if he's elected president at the time he's elected president. He could be 72 years old. That's the oldest for a first-term president ever.

He had suggested he was going to release all of his medical records by April 15th. It's now April 20th. Now they say they need some more time to gather all the information, get the doctors together. What's going on here?

HALPERIN: Well, he's been pretty transparent. Eight years ago when he ran, they released a lot of records. And they do say they're going to release more this time.

BLITZER: But that was before the melanoma and the surgery and all of that. HALPERIN: If the past is prologue, this is a political operation that when they say they're going to be transparent on something, it is pretty transparent.

We already know what medications he takes. We know about his history with cancer and other medical problems. So there has been a little bit of delay, but I suspect we'll get them, and I suspect the American people are going to have a chance to weigh in on a cancer survivor. They will have a chance to weigh in on a cancer survivor and someone who is as old as he is.

BLITZER: Listen to this, Gloria. Congressman John Murtha going after John McCain in the issue of his age, Murtha being a Clinton supporter.


MURTHA: I've served with seven presidents. When they come in, they all make mistakes, and they all get older. And this one guy running is about as old as me. And let me tell you something, it's no old man's job.

MCCAIN: All I can say is that I admire and respect Jack Murtha. Speak for yourself, Jack, I'm doing fine.


BLITZER: Is this a legitimate issue, John McCain's age?

BORGER: I think age is a legitimate issue, and I think that the voters are going to have to decide whether they think that John McCain has the stamina and the brain power to be president of the United States. It is a job that ages you tremendously. And John McCain is going to have to make that case to the American people.

I think you can kind of laugh about it, but I think they're going to have to see how he campaigns. You know, if he's energetic in his campaigning, which so far he's been quite energetic, they may decide, look, he's a very, very young 71-year-old fellow.

BLITZER: What do you think?

ZAKARIA: I think, of course, any issue is legitimate. McCain looks good. He has run a very energetic campaign, as Gloria says. He sounds very sharp when you talk to him. He's often at his best when he's unscripted. He's able to...

BLITZER: Even when he had that blunder on Shia versus Sunni, and Al Qaida and Iran, Iraq.

ZAKARIA: I think the problem there honestly is that McCain has adopted a kind of world view on Iraq that all the bad guys are linked up and they're all -- I don't think that was a slip in the sense that he's losing some of his marbles. I think the problem is he's embraced a fundamentally incorrect view of what's going on in Iraq. That's why he keeps making the same mistake even after you correct him. HALPERIN: He's never been a detail guy, on any policy, even ones he cares passionately about. If it's Obama versus McCain, age and inexperience will both be issues. If either of them makes a mistake that plays into Obama inexperience, McCain age, it will be a big problem. No way you can win a referendum up or down do we want a 72- year-old president. But that's not what it's going to be. It will be factored in with everything else, and if it's against Obama, they will have to argue that being 72 is better than being, from his point of view, someone without the requisite experience.

BLITZER: He's going after -- and we're going to see it this week, Gloria -- he's going to try to make some inroads using his reputation out there as an independent, sometimes described as a maverick. He's going after some groups that are normally pretty solidly Democratic.

BORGER: Yes. He's going after -- he's going after the old Reagan Democrats, the disaffected Democrats. And I think he's going to do it by saying that I'm a straight talker, I tell the truth. You may not agree with me, but you ought to believe what I say. And that is, you know, that is one of the keys to his success. And if he remains true to that, he may convince some of those independent voters, if for example, they believe that either of those Democratic candidates are too liberal, then he's got a better shot than any of those other Republican candidates had at attracting those independents.

BLITZER: All right, guys, we're going to leave it right there, but continue this discussion down the road. Remember, only two days until the Pennsylvania primary. Gloria Borger, Mark Halperin, Fareed Zakaria, thanks to all of you for coming in.

If you would like a recap of today's program, you can get highlights on our "Late Edition" podcast. Simply go to

And coming up at the top of the hour, for our North American viewers, "Your $$$$$." We'll be right back.


BLITZER: And that's your "Late Edition" for this Sunday, April 20th. Please be sure to join me again next Sunday and every Sunday at 11:00 a.m. Eastern for the last word in Sunday talk.

We're going to be leaving you with some live pictures of the crowds over at Yankee Stadium where a concert right now is being held for celebrants waiting for the mass that Pope Benedict XVI will honor -- will hold in about an hour and a half or so. We'll have special live coverage here on CNN. Please join Soledad O'Brien for coverage of this, the last major event of this historic papal visit.

Until then, thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in New York. For our international viewers, stand by for world news. For those of you in North America, "Your $$$$$" is coming up right after a check of what's in the news right now.