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The Situation Room

Superdelegate Gap Closes; Obama: McCain Losing 'Bearings'; Interview With Senator Joseph Lieberman

Aired May 09, 2008 - 16:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, Barack Obama almost closes the superdelegate gap. And Hillary Clinton tries to find new arguments to convince Democrats she can still win.
This hour, new endorsements and new evidence the tide is turning toward Obama.

Plus, John McCain's bearings. The Republican responds to a dig Obama delivered right here in THE SITUATION ROOM. I'll ask McCain supporter Senator Joe Lieberman about the spat and whether McCain's age is an issue.

And some Christian leaders demand a truce in the political fight over faith. Their timing may be a blessing for one party.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Right now Hillary Clinton is watching her once imposing lead in the fight for those superdelegates support almost vanish before her eyes. Barack Obama picked up support today from another handful of superdelegates, including one who abandoned Senator Clinton.

According to CNN's count right now, Obama now trails by just four superdelegates. Still, Clinton is making the case that she should and will fight on.

Let's begin our coverage this hour with our senior political correspondent, Candy Crowley.

She doesn't appear to be blinking by any means, Candy.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: She isn't, and they're calling in some reinforcement to help her with that electability argument. About a dozen members of the House and the Senate wrote a letter to their colleagues and to other superdelegates arguing that she is the most electable and that she would be the person that would help down-ballot the other people who will be running on the same ballot as the Democratic nominee.

One of the things I can tell you, Wolf, that even when I talk to those people who think it would be a good idea for Hillary Clinton to step aside now, almost unanimously they are really admiring Hillary Clinton's ability to, as they say, the grit factor.


CROWLEY (voice-over): Hillary Clinton arrived in Central Point, Oregon, last night, two hours late and pumped up.

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Whoa! I apologize that we were kind of flying against the wind. But, you know, that's the story of my life. Fly against the wind. You'll get there eventually if you keep going.

CROWLEY: It boils down to this -- many Democrats are anxious for her to get out. Not many want to be seen as forcing her out. And she's not going.

CLINTON: People say to me all the time, well, are you going to keep going? Well, yes, of course I'm going to keep going. And why am I going to keep going? I'm going to keep going because you keep going.

CROWLEY: So, needless to say, it is going, and he's game, though showing signs of sleep deprivation.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It is just wonderful to be back in Oregon. And over the last 15 months we've traveled to every corner of the United States. I've now been in 57 states? I think one left to go.

CROWLEY: Actually, the game isn't on the campaign trail now. The play is about superdelegates. Steadily, they are trickling his way, but it's not a gusher.

An uncommitted superdelegate who intends to eventually back Obama said Clinton should stay in if she wants but added, it depends on how she does it. Given the near certainty of an Obama nomination, there is some concern Clinton will rough him up unnecessarily.


CROWLEY: There is some concern among a few superdelegates that I talked to today, Wolf, about an interview that Clinton gave to "USA Today" in which she mentioned a poll showing that Barack Obama's lead among blue collar white voters continues to diminish. That really struck some people as not the sort of helpful conversation they want to see over the next three weeks -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Candy. Thank you.

Hillary Clinton once could count on those superdelegates to give her an edge at the convention in Denver. At the start of the year, Clinton had 100 more party supporters in her corner than Barack Obama did. But let's take a look at the trend line since then.

After February's Super Tuesday showdown, Clinton's edge was down to 87. A month later, despite wins in Ohio and Texas, Clinton's superdelegate lead actually slipped to 39. And last month she won in Pennsylvania, but once again only to see the superdelegate difference actually drop to 23. And now after a new round of endorsements for Barack Obama, Clinton holds a lead of only four superdelegates.

Another tense preview today of the likely fall match-up between Barack Obama and John McCain. At the center of it all, a remark Obama made right here in THE SITUATION ROOM about Senator McCain's "losing his bearings."

Let's go to our Mary Snow. She's in New Jersey. She's watching this story for us.

All right, Mary. Update us on what's going on.

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, Senator McCain came here to New Jersey to talk about his fight against global warming, but Senator Barack Obama's name surfaced several times.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What are we doing here? We're looking at sea urchins?

SNOW (voice-over): John McCain picked a children's science museum to focus on the environment. Former New Jersey governor Tom Kean calling him a Teddy Roosevelt Republican. Another way of saying McCain isn't George Bush.

But the focus quickly turned to Democrat Barack Obama after Obama said this about McCain Thursday in THE SITUATION ROOM...

OBAMA: For him to toss out comments like that, I think is an example of him losing his bearings as he pursues this nomination.

SNOW: The McCain camp pounced, saying, it was "... not a particularly clever way of raising John McCain's age as an issue." The Obama camp fired back, calling it a "bizarre rant" that Obama wasn't referring to McCain's age.

As to whether McCain took offense to Obama's words?

J. MCCAIN: I ignore it. I don't take offense to it.

SNOW: McCain supporter Senator Joe Lieberman chimed in.

SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (I), CONNECTICUT: I just want to report that this morning I personally checked John McCain's bearings. He has not lost any of them.

SNOW: Republican strategist Scott Reid (ph) says the ratcheting up of rhetoric marks a new phase.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This was a pivot week not only for Obama, but also McCain, because it's now really show time.

SNOW: McCain has had two months as the presumptive Republican nominee to define himself on a host of issues as Democratic duked it out. But now McCain is taking increasing aim at Obama, and it's clear national security will be high on McCain's list. He used the word "naive" to describe Obama's stance to set a timetable for troop withdrawal from Iraq. And on Obama's willingness to talk with Iran? J. MCCAIN: Senator Obama wants to sit down and have negotiations and discussions with the person who just yesterday called Israel a "stinking corpse." A stinking corpse. Who continues to advocate the -- "wipe Israel off the map." That is a distinct difference between myself and Senator Obama.


SNOW: Now, as for Obama, he has said he's committed to keeping nuclear weapons out of the hands of Iran, but he has said that the Bush administration's policy of not talking to enemies has failed and he has equated John McCain with the Bush administration.

Wolf, just the next chapter in the next round of this campaign.

BLITZER: All right, Mary. Thank you.

Mary Snow reporting.

Let's check in with Jack. He's got "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: The comedy team of McCain and Lieberman. Maybe they'll play Atlantic City this summer.

For all those like Mitt Romney who said when talking about Barack Obama the presidency of the United States is not an internship, consider this: the young guy with not nearly as much political experience is on the verge now of toppling one of the most powerful political names of the last 50 years: Hillary Clinton.

For all of her claims of having more experience, the relative newcomer proved to have a lot more moxie. She said experience. He said change. Voters bought change.

He planned beyond Super Tuesday, paid attention to the caucuses. She pretty much ignored the caucuses, assumed that she'd be the nominee the day after Super Tuesday.

When she wasn't, then she was in trouble. Poor planning on the ground and a shortage of money. Immediately put her at a disadvantage for the rest of the way.

She relied on friends and people who were loyal to her to run her campaign. And then in time, as things began to sour, there was friction and key people left.

Her husband hurt her. Some say a lot. And as things grew worse, she grew more desperate.

The kitchen sink strategy appeared. So did demands to count the elections in Michigan and Florida. Elections that are invalid. And so did false claims about things like her trip to Bosnia.

And all along she failed to recognize the overriding theme of this election year. The people in this country are sick and tired of their government. They want change. How could someone with so much experience not see that?

Here's the question: How will history view the race between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton?

You can go to and post a comment on my blog -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Jack, thanks very much.

So does Senator Joe Lieberman think Senator Obama would do right by Israel? The former Democratic vice presidential nominee and now McCain supporter, he joins us next.

Plus, Hillary Clinton's West Virginia advantage. It's apparently pretty significant. The state drives home some of the possible Obama weaknesses in the fall.

And the Democrats may be getting a helping hand from a nontraditional source. That would be evangelical Christians.

Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: He's the Democrat-turned-Independent-turned-supporter of putting a Republican in the White House. That would be Senator Joe Lieberman, actively campaigning for Senator John McCain, as he did today in Jersey City.

And one thing he's defending against is any notion that McCain's age should give voters worry.


BLITZER: And joining us now, Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut. He's an independent Democrat, as he likes to call himself. But he's supporting John McCain.

Thanks very much for coming in.

LIEBERMAN: Good to be with you.

BLITZER: You're out there. You're pretty -- pretty involved in trying to get him elected, aren't you?

LIEBERMAN: Yes. I mean, once I made the decision that John McCain, in my opinion, is best prepared to be the president we need for the next four years, I'm not going to hold back. I'm doing everything I can to help him.

We've come a long way since December when I came on board. And this is going to be a tough campaign, but it's a really important one. So I want to help John every way I can.

BLITZER: You assume Obama is going to be the Democratic nominee? LIEBERMAN: I think you would have to assume that now, but it isn't over. And as long as Senator Clinton is in there and Senator Obama does not have the pledged delegates he needs to clinch the nomination, it's not over.

BLITZER: But you're gearing up for the assumption it's going to be McCain versus Obama?

LIEBERMAN: I personally assume that, yes.

BLITZER: All right. Let's talk a little bit about Senator Obama.

He was here in THE SITUATION ROOM yesterday, and I asked him about -- to react to comments from Senator McCain suggesting that he, Obama, is the preferred candidate of the Palestinian militant group Hamas. And Senator Obama reacted angrily, said that was a smear, it was offensive. And he went on and said this...


OBAMA: For him to toss out comments like that I think is an example of him losing his bearings as he pursues this nomination.


BLITZER: Now, it didn't take very long after that for Mark Salter, a senior adviser to the McCain campaign, to say, "Let us be clear about the nature of Senator Obama's attack today. He used the words 'losing his bearings' intentionally, a not particularly clever way of raising John McCain's age as an issue. This is typical of the Obama style of campaigning."

When you heard him use those words, "losing his bearings," did that impress you as ageism or an attack on McCain's age?

LIEBERMAN: I'll tell you, when I first heard it, I thought it was an undeserved and somewhat intemperate comment.

BLITZER: On whose part?

LIEBERMAN: On the part of Senator Obama. These things will happen in a campaign. But you could say that you disagree with something Senator McCain said, but you know, to say he lost his bearings suggests something more fundamental and personal.

BLITZER: But Obama's position is that, when it comes to Hamas, he sees it as a terrorist organization. He says his position is the same as McCain's.

LIEBERMAN: That's true. And I think that's why his comments about what Senator McCain said were undeserved, because John McCain obviously knows and has said that Senator Obama clearly doesn't support any of the values or goals of Hamas. But the fact that the spokesperson for Hamas would say they would welcome the election of Senator Obama really does raise the question, why? And it suggests the difference between these two candidates.

I think Hamas and Hezbollah, which is now in control of Beirut, apparently, are proxies, are wards of Iran, which is the very same country that constantly shouts, "Death to America! Death to Israel!"

So I think one of John's strengths, John McCain's strengths as president, frankly, is that our allies and friends around the world will trust him and our enemies, like Hamas and Iran, will fear him. And I think they -- they need to fear him. And I'm afraid some of the things Senator Obama has said, very quickly -- you know, I've put in a...

BLITZER: All right. Let me play a clip of what Senator Obama said yesterday...


BLITZER: ... at a 60th anniversary independence celebration of Israel that the Israeli Embassy hosted. Turn around and listen and watch. He's right over there.


OBAMA: I pledge to you that I will do whatever I can in whatever capacity to not only ensure Israel's security, but also to ensure the people of Israel are able to thrive and prosper.


BLITZER: All right.

Do you have any doubt about Senator Obama's commitment to maintain a very supportive role of the United States, as far as Israel is concerned?

LIEBERMAN: I have no doubt about that. But here's what I want to say. Senator Obama has said he would sit there, and without condition, with Ahmadinejad, the president of Iran. That not only gives prestige to a terrible America and Israel hater, but it also threatens our allies in the region.

Look, I'll give you another example. This is an indirect step that could undermine our position in the Middle East

Earlier this year, Senator Kyl and I introduced the resolution in the Senate which called on the administration to impose economic sanctions on the Iranian Revolutionary Guard that is training and equipping Iraqis that are going back into Iraq and killing American soldiers, hundreds of them.

Senator McCain and Senator Clinton voted for that resolution. About three-quarters of the Senate did. Senator Obama did not, said it was saber-rattling. It was the exact opposite of that; it was economic sanctions. Had nothing to do with the military.

BLITZER: I think what he said is it would give the green light to the Bush administration to consider military action.

LIEBERMAN: Well, no...

BLITZER: Something like that.

LIEBERMAN: No way. It was the exact opposite of that.

So here's what I'm saying. I don't question Senator Obama's commitment to the security of the state of Israel. I'm saying when it comes to dealing with enemies, both in the Middle East and around the world, Senator McCain has more experience, more balance, knows when to be tough, knows when to be soft.

BLITZER: All right.

LIEBERMAN: And I worry that Senator Obama has not had that experience and, therefore, ultimately will compromise our security in that way and also our alliances

BLITZER: Let me turn to another critical issue that any president of the United States would have to face: nominating Supreme Court justices. Last week, we heard from Senator McCain, saying he likes justices along the lines of John Roberts and Samuel Alito. Yesterday, Senator Obama said he likes justices along the lines of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer.

Now, I know where you stand on -- on Roe v. Wade and abortion rights for women. Listen to what you said -- turn around, you'll see it right there -- as far as the nomination of Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court.


LIEBERMAN: I am left with profound concerns that Judge Alito would diminish the Supreme Court's role as the ultimate guarantor of individual liberty in our country.


BLITZER: All right. So looking ahead, as you know, the next president could name two, maybe three Supreme Court justices, could have an impact for 30 years, maybe longer.

Are you confident in the justices that Senator McCain would nominate? Or would you be more confident in the kinds of judges that Senator Obama might nominate?

LIEBERMAN: Well, I guess I'd have to wait and see who they nominated. But...

BLITZER: Because this is a big issue for a lot of voters out there.

LIEBERMAN: Look, it's a big issue for me. I'm a lawyer. I'm a former attorney general. Let me tell you what I think about Senator McCain.

He worked on the so-called Gang of 14. He organized it. It really created some parameters for the selection of judges.

The two Supreme Court justices that were nominated after that bipartisan agreement were Roberts and Alito. I voted for Roberts. I thought that he was extraordinarily able and would be a man of independent judgment.

As I said in that quote, I was just troubled enough, not secure enough about Alito not to vote for him. But you know, it says something else about John McCain. Incidentally, going back to Justices Ginsburg and Breyer...

BLITZER: You like them.

LIEBERMAN: Yes. Yes, I do. I mean, I like a lot of justices on this court, in different ways on different decisions.

But John McCain voted to confirm Justices Ginsburg and Breyer. So this is an independent-minded person. He has -- he doesn't want activist judges.

I think he's going to choose judges of very high quality. He will not impose a litmus test. And...

BLITZER: So you're not worried that Roe v. Wade, in a McCain administration, would be overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court?

LIEBERMAN: Look, I think it's the law of the land. And of course, as you know, Wolf, it's the law of the land that I have supported. And I think our society has reached a balance around that. So if it were repealed, of course I would be upset.

This is an important issue. But there are a lot of important issues. One is to protect our security. Senator McCain is by far best prepared to do that.

The second is to get our government here in Washington solving some of the people's problems on health care, economy, education. And John McCain works across party lines to get something done.

In the end, some people can talk about change, but John McCain has brought about change because that's what he wants to do. He is a restless reformer.

BLITZER: And he's lucky to have you as a supporter.

LIEBERMAN: Well, I'm lucky to have him as a friend. And that's the beginning of why I support him. I know him. I trust his values. I trust his judgment.

BLITZER: Senator Lieberman, thanks for coming in.


BLITZER: Republicans traditionally have had the advantage with religious voters, but Democrats are saying not so fast. And now some evangelicals are jumping into the debate over faith, politics and social issues.

Plus, a new online message to would-be voters in all 50 states -- Barack Obama wants you.

Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.



BLITZER: To our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Happening now, North Korea gives the U.S. thousands of pages on its nuclear weapons program, amid ongoing negotiations. CNN takes you inside North Korea's restricted society. Our own Christiane Amanpour got a rare look at a top-secret nuclear facility, even talked to North Korea's scientists about their attitudes towards the U.S. -- that report coming up.

Russia does something not seen since the last days of the Soviet Union, rolling out its first national military parade in almost 20 years. Why now? We will have a full report.

And the commander in chief becomes father of the bride. President Bush is set to walk his 26-year-old daughter Jenna down the aisle. And many of you want details of this private ceremony. You're going to get those details right here.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

In four days, someone will win West Virginia's primary. And many people are sure they know who that will be.

Let's go to our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider. He's taking politics to the people aboard the CNN Election Express. He's in Charleston, West Virginia, right now.

What do we -- what do we expect, Bill -- if you can hear me, what do we expect to learn from Tuesday's election? I don't think he's hearing me.

Are you hearing me, Bill? Bill Schneider, can you hear me?

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Wolf, it could send a sobering message to Obama Democrats.


SCHNEIDER (voice-over): West Virginia is expected to go for Hillary Clinton on Tuesday. The polls show it. Knowledgeable West Virginians know it.

KENNIE BASS, WCHS POLITICAL REPORTER: This state is really in Hillary Clinton's wheelhouse. It's an older population, socially conservative, blue-collar workers.

SCHNEIDER: Barack Obama knows it.

OBAMA: She's going to do very well in West Virginia and Kentucky. She will win those states, likely -- in all likelihood, by significant margins.

SCHNEIDER: A big Clinton win will send a powerful message that there are a lot of Democrats not yet ready to get on the Obama bandwagon.


CLINTON: There was just an "A.P." article posted that found how Senator Obama's support among working, hardworking Americans, white Americans, is weakening again and how the, you know, whites in both states who had not completed college were supporting me.


SCHNEIDER: West Virginia used to be solidly Democratic, until 2000, when George W. Bush surprised everyone by winning the state. How did he do it? Social issues, abortion, gays, and, most important, guns, in a state where more than 70 percent of the voters own a gun.

Republicans believe they know how to beat Obama here.

BASS: They would likely paint him, if he's the nominee, as a far-left liberal, who is pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage, pro-civil union. That will not play well in West Virginia. Social issues register very high on the meter here.

SCHNEIDER: Democrats can fight back by running against the Bush economy. But they could be in for a surprise.

BASS: As coal goes, so goes the economy of West Virginia in many respects. Coal prices right now are at about $100 a ton. Metallurgical coal is trading at twice that. So, these are not difficult -- these are not difficult times in West Virginia, economically, so to speak.


SCHNEIDER: If Obama wins the nomination, and it looks like the only way he can win the election is to get Democrats like those here in West Virginia back, you can be sure he will think seriously about asking Hillary Clinton to go on the ticket with him -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Fair point.

Thanks very much, Bill, for that. Another sign today that Barack Obama is looking beyond his face- off with Hillary Clinton. This weekend, his campaign kicks off a voter registration drive in all 50 states.

Let's go to our Internet reporter, Abbi Tatton.

Abbi, what are they planning to do?

ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Wolf, an e-mail from Michelle Obama to the Barack Obama's campaign online supporter list said, you may be engaged, you may be registered to vote, but I bet you can find 20 people that aren't.

And those are the people that the Barack Obama campaign is going after with their voter registration drive, which kicks off tomorrow. You can see people signing up online. Almost 100 people signed up in Cincinnati, Ohio. In Dallas, Texas, more than 200 people signed up to get a training tomorrow and then go out into the streets and register voters.

The Barack Obama campaign citing their success in registering new voters during the primary process, 200,000 new Democrats in Pennsylvania, more than 150,000 in Indiana, and more to go in terms of the primary process, West Virginia up, of course, on Tuesday. But through this Web site, the Barack Obama campaign looking ahead -- voters can use this tool to send out an e-mail to friends and family, saying: Register to vote. We can have a huge impact on the outcome of elections up and down the ballot in November -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Thanks very much, Abbi, for that.

Politics and religion often are a combustible mix. Now some evangelicals want to tone it down. Will they help Democrats in the process?

And another superdelegate says the so-called dream team isn't his dream. That's coming up in our "Strategy Session."

And beer money under wraps -- the fallout over Cindy McCain's refusal to ever release her tax returns.

Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: In this election year, Democrats are trying to embrace matters of faith, refusing to concede that territory to Republicans and their allies on the religious right.

The Democrats may have received some new help in that mission.

Tom Foreman is here. He's watching the story.

We heard from a group of evangelicals this week. And it could have some significant political overtones. TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I think it really could. This sort of vanished in all the coverage of the primary on Tuesday. But this is really important.

Evangelical Christians have been a cornerstone of Republican power, helping them big elections ever since Ronald Reagan, waging fierce battles over important issues. This week, however, some evangelical leaders issued a manifesto, suggesting that they're ready to start talking much more seriously about political alliances with others. And that's creating waves.


OS GUINNESS, EVANGELICAL LEADER: Our proposal in the manifesto is to join forces with all those who support a civil public square, a vision of public life in which people of all faiths -- and, of course, that means no faith -- are free to enter and engage public life on the basis of their faith.

FOREMAN: For Democrats, the timing is good. The party has been pushing to overcome a perceived faith gap that many feel has hurt them with churchgoing voters. Now candidates are appearing in more religious settings and conversations.

OBAMA: What I try to do is, as best I can, be an instrument of his will.

CLINTON: I obviously was fortunate to be able to rely on and be grounded in my faith, which has been an anchor for me throughout my entire life.

FOREMAN: Mara Vanderslice is part of that effort.

MARA VANDERSLICE, FOUNDER AND SENIOR PARTNER, COMMON GOOD STRATEGIES: I think the thing -- the biggest thing that we have done wrong is sort of -- is sort of say that we -- we just want a separation of church and state, and only speak about religion in terms of sort of separation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Father. We're here to...

FOREMAN: Evangelicals are now leading public support for many issues dear to Democrats, global campaigns against AIDS, hunger, poverty. Many Democrats can see that, according to the Ethics and Public Policy Center's Michael Cromartie.

MICHAEL CROMARTIE, VICE PRESIDENT, ETHICS AND PUBLIC POLICY CENTER: Well, I think there are genuinely religious people obviously in the Democratic Party who have said, you know, we need to stop toning down how our faith relates to public policy issues, whether it's the environment, whether it's on question of the economy and -- and -- or war and peace, and we need to start framing our concerns in religious language, so that it might appeal to religious believers in America.

(END VIDEOTAPE) FOREMAN: The authors of this manifesto are quick to say that they're not simply looking for new political partners, but, rather, they want to expand the base of all the partners who may help them accomplish their goals. After all, they insist, the goals of Christians should be doing good in the world, not just winning political races -- Wolf.

BLITZER: And I think that, in part, explains why they're -- we have seen this shift to these other global issues?

FOREMAN: Yes, that's part of the issue.

I mean, now, granted, there are many conservatives, staunch conservatives, here who don't agree with this manifesto, who feel very strong about working with the Republicans. But part of what you're seeing here, which is really interesting, is that there's been a shift in the evangelical community. I just heard about this at the Pew Forum this week in Florida, where they do excellent studies on this.

Part of what's happened is, they used to have these missionaries who would go out and spend many, many years in a different country, and then come back. Now many more evangelical churches have shifted to having people go out for a couple of years.

What that has created is a lot more people coming back saying, we must help Myanmar, we must help Ethiopia, because I have been there.

It's changed the global view of evangelicals and, in a strange way, brought them more in line with what a lot of Democrats have wanted for quite some time.

BLITZER: It's interesting. And the political fallout could be significant.

FOREMAN: It very well could be. We will have a lot more on "THIS WEEK IN POLITICS" this weekend about the subject.

BLITZER: Absolutely. I would expect nothing less.


FOREMAN: Thanks.

BLITZER: Tom Foreman, thanks.

And an important programming note: Tom Foreman hosts "THIS WEEK IN POLITICS." It airs every weekend, 6:00 p.m. Saturdays, 1:00 p.m. Sundays, right after "LATE EDITION."

In our "Strategy Session," Clinton has no intentions of leaving the field.


CLINTON: And people say to me all the time, well, are you going to keep going? Well, yes, of course, I'm going to keep going.



BLITZER: "The New York Times," on its editorial page, cautions her not to pursue, though, the nuclear option.

And, in his interview right here in THE SITUATION ROOM yesterday, Senator Obama didn't rule out the possibility of Clinton as his running mate. But one leading Democrat explains why he thinks that's a bad idea. We're going to tell you who it is and a lot more -- right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: If Barack Obama becomes the Democratic presidential nominee, one key supporter thinks he should pass on one person as a running mate, Hillary Clinton.

Here to discuss that and more in our "Strategy Session," Democratic strategist Jonathan Prince -- he's a former deputy campaign manager for John Edwards' campaign -- and Republican strategist Cheri Jacobus.

Guys, thanks very much for coming in.



BLITZER: Senator Ted Kennedy, a strong supporter of Barack Obama, he doesn't think that Obama should pick Hillary Clinton as his running mate. He says he should find someone who "is in tune with his appeal for the nobler aspirations of the American people. If we had real leadership, as we do with Barack Obama, in the number-two spot as well, it would be enormously helpful."

Were you surprised by that strong statement, effectively against Hillary Clinton?

PRINCE: You know, clearly, clearly.

Sure, I was a little surprised by the statement, given, you know, Senator Kennedy has got a lot of experience with this kind of thing over the years. And he certainly knows that this choice is a very personal choice, and ought to be a very personal choice.

Now, obviously, he's entitled to his opinion. You know, I guess I think that what -- what -- when people think about the vice presidential choice, what they really ought to do is kind of put aside a lot of what has been the conventional wisdom about that choice, which is geographic strength, or, well, you're a senator, you need a governor, and think about what has maybe been the best choice in the last 20 years or so, which was Bill Clinton choosing Al Gore. Why? It wasn't about regional strength. It wasn't about anything but how it amplified the whole message of generational change. And...

BLITZER: So, what are you saying about this...

PRINCE: That's what Barack Obama needs to do.

BLITZER: All right, so what is -- like, give me an example. Who?

PRINCE: Well, I think there's a lot of people out there.

I think that we had a great field, first of all. I think Hillary Clinton is one. Certainly, John Edwards is another, people who -- it's kind of impossible to say that, you know, a woman on the national ticket for the first time, who could -- not for the first time on a national ticket, but a woman as vice president of the United States wouldn't be a big change.

John Edwards clearly very much in line with -- with Barack Obama's message of change, I think that that is what Barack has got to do. He's got to look at these folks, see who he is comfortable with, and see who helps amplify his national message...


PRINCE: ... if the nominee.

BLITZER: Having said all that, people really don't vote for the vice president. They vote for the president.

JACOBUS: Actually, you know what? I think, in the situation for Barack, his vice presidential pick is going to be very, very important.


JACOBUS: Because he's such an unknown. He has such little experience in the Senate. He's a blank slate. Right now, he's a symbol. And he's a very good speaker, but we know so little about him.

So, I think it's imperative that he have a very strong vice presidential pick. And I think he should do it soon. He should probably even name some of his other potential Cabinet members before that, because this is going to get tougher for him as the summer wears on, as people take a closer look at him, and find out that perhaps there might not be a lot of "there" there.

PRINCE: I don't entirely agree with that.

I mean, I think you're right, Wolf. I think people don't vote for the top of the ticket. They -- I mean -- I'm sorry -- they don't vote for the number-two spot on the ticket. They always vote for the top of the ticket. And that's why what is really important is someone who, in that crucial of two weeks or so, as you come out of that nominee into your convention, helps shape your national message for the first time in the country, says to the country, this is who I am as a president. This is what I care about. And this vice presidential nominee tells those priorities.

BLITZER: This is the team.

All right. Here's an editorial in today's "New York Times," Cheri. And I will get your reaction.

"Mrs. Clinton will be making a terrible mistake -- for herself, her party and for the nation -- if she continues to press her candidacy through negative campaigning with disturbing racial undertones. Mrs. Clinton must drop her plans to fight to seat the delegations from Florida and Michigan, which defied the Democratic Party and moved up the dates of their primaries. A lot of people voted in Florida anyway, but Mrs. Clinton should not pursue this nuclear option."

Is this advice she should be taking from "The New York Times"?

JACOBUS: Iowa don't think she should be taking advice from "The New York Times" or anybody else. I think she should be taking advice from herself.

She's obviously getting a lot of it from a lot of different people. Look, she has been doing very, very well when Barack Obama wasn't doing well. But, in the total number, obviously, he's going to be the nominee. And he started his victory lap just yesterday with you.

But she has every right to run. Clearly, she has aspirations beyond this. She's still a young woman. I think that she probably would like to run in 2012, if John McCain is the president, which I certainly hope he is.

She can also preserve herself and run -- she can run for governor of New York in 2010, and then have some executive experience. There's a lot for her to do still. So, I think it behooves her and her supporters to go out there and just show her stuff for as long as they can.

BLITZER: She -- she wrote a letter to Barack Obama yesterday, saying, you have got to find a way to deal with Michigan and Florida. She -- she doesn't seem to be backing down on this issue at all.

PRINCE: It's not surprising she's not backing down on this issue.

It's -- from a strategic perspective, that's how she sees a path to perhaps get her the nomination. Now, I happen to think that -- and this is true for both campaigns -- that the rules are the rules. And we made rules in our party about the order of the primaries and the order of the nominating contest. And I think we ought to abide by them.

Similarly, you know, I disagree with the Obama campaign trying to change, to some extent, the rules on what superdelegates ought to do. Superdelegates are, by nature, unpledged. They get to make their own decisions. I think we have a process. People ought to stick to it.

But it doesn't surprise me, from a strategic perspective, that both campaigns are...

JACOBUS: But the rules -- the rules don't say that she needs to get out. And I think that...


PRINCE: No question. I agree with that.

JACOBUS: ... that she is going to do very well in West Virginia on Tuesday, as we know. And that has been a red state for a while.

And I think what she wants to do is show her party and those superdelegates, if not for 2008, then for later on, that perhaps she can make that a blue state. You know, I certainly will be out there trying to make that difficult for her. But she has every right to do this.

And I think she still has something to prove, and it makes sense. So, since it's such an awkward year for the Democrats with regard to their primary, she should do exactly what she thinks is best for her and her future.

BLITZER: All right, guys, thanks very much.

PRINCE: You bet.

BLITZER: Have a great weekend.

PRINCE: Thanks. You, too.

JACOBUS: Thank you.

BLITZER: John Edwards says some things about one of the Democrats and makes comments the other Democrat probably doesn't want to hear. Is Edwards any closer to endorsing Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama?

And Russia rolls out its first national military parade in almost 20 years. Why the major show of force right now?

Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: Before we get to our Political Ticker, a quick note from Senator Ted Kennedy's office just released.

He now wants it known that he believes that Senator Clinton would, in fact, in his words -- let me just read the statement for you: "Senator Kennedy thinks Senator Clinton is more than qualified to be vice president, but doesn't think it's likely, given the tenor of the campaign in recent weeks" -- that clarification coming from Senator Kennedy's office.

John Edwards says he expects Barack Obama probably will be the Democratic presidential nominee. Edwards still isn't choosing sides between Obama and Hillary Clinton. But in a TV interview, the former White House hopeful said it would be very difficult for Clinton to make the delegate math add up to a victory.

John McCain is marking Mother's Day with a new ad featuring his mom. The spot, which will air on some Direct TV channels, isn't the usual warm and fuzzy holiday greeting.

Here's a little snippet.


J. MCCAIN: You're saying that I was born on a Friday.


J. MCCAIN: Traditional. It was a happy hour, I thought, was the...

R. MCCAIN: No. It was not a happy hour. It was on a Saturday.


BLITZER: We're going to have more on Mother's Day politics coming up later with the best political team on television.

Remember, for the latest political news any time, check out That's where you can read my daily blog post as well.

Let's go back to Jack for "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

CAFFERTY: The question this hour is: How will history view the race between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton?

Kristy, who describes herself as a hardworking white woman in Iowa, write this: "I believe the world will look back on this election and be ashamed that, instead of promoting the success of the first viable African-American candidate, the DNC chose to defer to the old guard of the Clintons. I also think that people will remember the first viable female candidate became negative, aggressive, and divisive, especially in regards to race. She is a sore loser, and Mrs. Clinton has been no role model, at least not for me."

Linda writes: "History will view this race as a watershed contest between outdated entitlements and emergent possibilities. I'm a 71- year-old white Jewish woman horrified by ugly calls to divide the American people. We are better than that. We deserve a president who represents all of us, who understands collaborative leadership and the meaning of integrity. Barack Obama makes me proud and hopeful for our country."

Julie in New York writes: "I know how I will remember it. Years from now, people who are too young now or -- to ever remember this election and people who haven't even been born yet will wonder this: It was so obvious that Obama was deceiving the American public. Why were they so naive?"

Joe Saint Louis writes: "It will be viewed as a hard-fought battle between a super-rich elitist political has-been and a new visionary from Chicago."

And Curtis in Oxnard, California: "Movies will be made about this campaign. Books will be written, and everyone will have an opinion. How Hillary Clinton handles herself in the last couple of weeks of this campaign will have the greatest impact. She is now about to determine her place in history. If she decides on a scorched-earth policy and fights through the convention, moviegoers will love the film. She will suffer, though, every presidential election, when television reruns it."

If you didn't see your e-mail here, you can go to my blog. It's at

We're hearing from thousands of you this Friday. Your letter may be there. There are hundreds of others posted -- Wolf.

BLITZER: And when you get all -- I know you don't have a chance to go through all of them, but I know you -- you try to go through them, as many as you can. Are more of them, would you say, pro- Hillary Clinton, pro-Barack Obama? Where does it come out?

Because I get a ton of e-mail like you do, and I got a lot of people who love Hillary Clinton, and a lot of people who don't love, and, as far as Barack Obama, the same thing.

CAFFERTY: Most of them are beginning to recognizing that it's over. That's the...

BLITZER: As simple as that?

CAFFERTY: That's the overriding tone of the stuff I'm getting: It's over.

BLITZER: All right. Well, I know you have felt like that for -- for some time.

Exactly how long have you felt like that?


CAFFERTY: A while.


BLITZER: OK, Jack, thanks very much -- Jack Cafferty with "The Cafferty File."