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Is Obama Unstoppable?; McCain's Huckabee Problem; Superdelegate Power: Who's Really Picking the Nominee

Aired February 13, 2008 - 20:00   ET


If the news from the latest primaries tells us anything, it's that the upcoming contests are going to be crucial. We are only six days away from Wisconsin and Hawaii, eight days from the next Democratic debate, and 20 until March's version of Super Tuesday. And as we move on from the Potomac primaries, some key questions are front and center tonight.

Is Barack Obama unstoppable? He won eight in a row, even picking up support from key Clinton groups, like women, who have been in her camp for months now. So why is that?

Plus, McCain's the presumptive nominee now, but guess who still isn't crying uncle? Does the front-runner have a Huckabee problem?

No need to wait for answers, as we turn to the best political team on television.

Our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider, has been looking over the numbers to find the keys to Obama's pretty stunning victories in the Potomac primaries -- Bill.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, indeed we have. And we found out both Clinton and Obama had really some constituencies that seemed to be locked into them going into the Potomac primaries. Let's take a look. Hillary Clinton...

BROWN: So, this is before last night, right?

SCHNEIDER: Before last night, going into the Potomac primary, Hillary Clinton could pretty much rely on seniors, on Latino voters, who were very strong for her in California.

Women, of course, came out, out of pride, supported the first woman candidate likely to be -- could be a major party nominee, and voters who said their top issue was the economy. What about Barack Obama? He was getting a lot of young, new voters, African-Americans of course. Again, pride was an important element. Affluent voters were coming out in large numbers to vote for him, as well as voters who said their top concern was Iraq.

This is an unusual coalition because it looks a lot like the upper-middle-class voters who supported once Eugene McCarthy, George McGovern, Gary Hart, Bill Bradley, Howard Dean, but with a difference. None of them ever got a lot of support from black voters. Barack Obama's putting black voters together with the upper-middle-class liberals into something new.

BROWN: But this shifted a little bit last night, right?

SCHNEIDER: It certainly did. Last night changed things. And this is why Hillary Clinton is very worried. What we saw last night was that Hillary Clinton's lead -- here it is -- among white women, as we went Super Tuesday across the country, she was leading white women by 24 points. But in Virginia, her lead dropped to just six and in Maryland to 18.

So, she's still in the lead among white women, but not as much as before. Another group that was heavily for Hillary Clinton was seniors. Her lead dropped in that constituency as well. On Super Tuesday, she led among seniors 29 percent. But in Virginia and Maryland, her lead dropped to just 20 percent.

And here are two groups that are very important to her in the upcoming primaries, Latinos in particular. On Super Tuesday, particularly in California, she carried Latinos 28 percent. But in Virginia, a very small group, but we looked at them, they voted for Barack Obama. And in Maryland her lead among Latinos dropped to 10 percent.

And finally those economy voters, very important in Ohio, which has a distressed economy. On Super Tuesday, she led among voters who said their top concern was the economy. But yesterday in Virginia and Maryland, that lead among those voters shifted to Barack Obama by a big margin.

BROWN: So he's looking to capitalize on the momentum by continuing to target those people, probably, yes?

SCHNEIDER: Precisely what he's doing, yes. And so he's biting into her core constituencies. That's what momentum means. It means you're on the move, there's an excitement, and you're beginning to pull voters away from the other person's coalition.

BROWN: All right, Bill Schneider, thanks very much. Appreciate it.


BROWN: And right now the Democratic candidates are going in two different directions. Senator Clinton is in Texas, which votes in just under three weeks. Senator Obama in Wisconsin, which holds a primary next Tuesday, he's sounding like he's already sewn up the nomination and turning his eyes to November.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I look forward to my debate with John McCain, because just as he decided that George Bush's economic policy is his favorite economic policy, he has been the biggest champion of George Bush's foreign policy.

So if you want the same as we have had in the last seven years, then I think John McCain is going to be a great choice. But if you think we need something new, if you think we need to restore fairness our economy, if you think we have to have a smarter foreign policy, then I hope that you will stand with me and vote for me. We will win this election, and we will transform the country.


BROWN: Late this afternoon in Texas, Senator Hillary Clinton finally got around to conceding her most recent string of defeats, and she has a message for Senator Obama: Come on down.


SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We are organizing and focused on doing a tremendous effort across the state from one end to the next. And as you know I will be back here in a week for some big rallies.

We will be covering as much ground as possible. I want to congratulate Senator Obama on his recent victories, and tell him to meet me in Texas. We're ready.


BROWN: Senior political correspondent Candy Crowley is with the Obama campaign tonight and Suzanne Malveaux is at a Clinton rally in San Antonio, Texas, where the senator is set to appear soon.

And, Suzanne, let's start with you. What are they thinking today? What's the mood and how are they planning to turn this around?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know what you're going to see from this campaign is really branding, the message here. And if you just take a look behind me, you see the sign. It says solutions for America. That is what she is stressing. She is stressing solutions and she's saying that she's the solutions candidate, where she is saying that Barack Obama is full of promises. You will also hear her as well talk about results, as opposed to his rhetoric.

This is something where they're going to go after his capabilities, his leadership. You are going to see much sharper attacks from the Clinton campaign. Also, you are also going to see the return of the former President Bill Clinton, coming out of the shadows. He is practically, his advisers say, going to live in Texas and Ohio, because he is going to be back on the trail, making sure that he gets that message across and it is one that is consistent -- Campbell.

BROWN: All right, Suzanne Malveaux.

And let's turn now to Candy Crowley. And, Candy, I'm imagining a feeling of exuberance there?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I would say so. In fact, his top campaign people said today that they thought it was almost impossible for her, looking at the math, to get the amount of delegates that you need. So, they are feeling very good here.

However, there's no greater burden than great expectations. So obviously, they are worried about Wisconsin. You have to be. He today was going around trying to cut into her base. He went to working-class areas, Wisconsin, that have been hard-hit by the economy. He was at a GM plant today, talking economy with the workers, also giving a big economic speech.

So, the changeover that Bill was talking about and how some voters came to him in the Potomac primaries, he's looking to try to make that permanent by bringing over what really is a core constituency for her, as well as a core constituency for the Democratic Party. And that is those lunch box Democrats.

BROWN: And, Candy, Suzanne mentioned that she is planning to go on the attack and has started going on the attack, frankly. I think they're running a new ad in Wisconsin. Is he ready to try to blunt that?

CROWLEY: Absolutely. He was tough today on a couple of fronts. First of all, he went after John McCain. You heard that bite you played at the top, but he also accused McCain of abandoning his principles in order to get the Republican nomination, talking about the Bush tax cuts. He went after Clinton, saying hey, she voted -- she was in favor of NAFTA.

Again, we're talking about working-class areas hard-hit by these trade deals. So, he's going after her as well. That ad you're talking about, it was something that said, you know, Barack Obama needs to have a debate with me here in Wisconsin.

The answer, by the way, from the Obama camp, is: No thanks. We have had 18 debates. We're committed to two more. We need to talk to the people of Wisconsin. So very big play here for Barack Obama. They believe they're on the upswing here and that they will take it, but, again, when you're the front-runner, you can't leave much to chance.

BROWN: All right, Candy Crowley with Barack Obama and Suzanne Malveaux with Hillary Clinton, thanks to both of you. Appreciate it.

And the Texas primary is just two days before the anniversary of the Battle of the Alamo. So, will Texas be Hillary Clinton's last stand or the start of her comeback? We're about to put that to a panel that includes one of her senior advisers.

And we aren't forgetting the Republicans, although by now John McCain would probably love to forget Mike Huckabee. Does the senator dare ignore him?


BROWN: And you are looking at a live picture of Senator Hillary Clinton. She is at a rally in San Antonio, Texas, where she is just about to speak to her supporters there, Texas a hugely important state for her now.

And we are back in the CNN ELECTION CENTER focused on the Democratic race for president with a few questions tonight. Is Barack Obama unstoppable? Why are women leaving Hillary Clinton, or are they leaving Hillary Clinton?

And with me tonight are CNN senior analyst Jeffrey Toobin, Lisa Caputo, who is a senior adviser for the Hillary Clinton campaign, and radio talk show host Larry Elder. He's the author of "Stupid Black Men: How to Play the Race Card -- and Lose."

So, we appreciate your all being with us.

And let's talk a little bit about what happened last night about the demographics that Bill Schneider went through with us earlier, Obama definitely picking up some of the people who had been with Hillary Clinton before now -- Jeffrey.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR ANALYST: When you lose 60 percent of the vote, the demographics don't matter, because you're losing everybody.

BROWN: The margin matters.

TOOBIN: The margin was just enormous. And building up that kind of margin in two states that are actually fairly representative of the rest of the country is just a terrible sign for her campaign. And she either changes the dynamic or she loses.

BROWN: Lisa?

LISA CAPUTO, FORMER PRESS SECRETARY FOR HILLARY CLINTON: I think what she's done is absolutely changed the dynamic. She's brought in a new campaign manager who is a seasoned veteran, who is one of the best in the business, if not the best, on the Democratic side, and is executing against a strategy.

That's why you see the campaign shifting its message, going from, you know, the experience argument to the solutions argument. Now you're trying to position the campaign as a change vs. solutions with the Clinton campaign.

BROWN: But, Lisa, why do you think the victory for Obama was so decisive?

CAPUTO: Well, I will tell you, I don't think the Clinton campaign put the amount of resources into those states. I think that they saw coming out of the February 5 states that these next string of states were going to be Obama's to lose.

And they, instead, decided to focus their efforts on the larger states which are coming up, Texas, Ohio, Pennsylvania. They have already sent in hundreds of people into Texas, for example. They're opening an office up in Rhode Island. So they are really focusing on the big delegate wins, because their position is, this is about delegates and this is how they will secure the nomination. BROWN: It's a numbers game. Larry?

LARRY ELDER, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Well, Campbell, I think that it isn't too little Clinton. It's just too much Obama. This guy is just an extraordinary candidate. He's dashing. He's charismatic. He's articulate. He represents a fresh voice for the base. He was right on the Iraq war from the beginning, instead of this pivot that Senator Clinton has tried to make.

So, I don't know that it's anything that Hillary has done wrong, as much as it is this is one extraordinary, formidable candidate that she's run into. Had he been out of the race, and we're talking about Edwards, or Biden, or Dodd, we wouldn't be having this conversation.

BROWN: But, you know, that's one of her lines with him now, is that he's all rhetoric, all promises, whereas she is the candidate of substance.

TOOBIN: That's where she -- every event now is called solutions for America. That's the idea. That's been true for several weeks with Clinton, the solutions tour. And it hasn't made much of an impact yet. Maybe it will. The argument that he's a show horse, she's a workhorse, maybe that will start to have an impact. It just hasn't yet.

CAPUTO: I think, Campbell, also, it's important to point out, it's why she's challenging him to debates. It's why she's up on the air in Wisconsin with an ad called "Debate," challenging Obama to a debate, because she's trying to force him on the substance.

And I think that plays to her advantage, clearly. It's also why you saw today Senator McCain's chief economic adviser on his campaign put out a statement saying, Obama's economic plan was pure plagiarism.

TOOBIN: And she's saying, by golly, 18 debates is not enough. We have got to have two more. I mean, come on.


BROWN: But it's not exactly in his interests to be doing more debates, is it, Larry?

ELDER: On substance, what is the difference? They're both anti- war, at least now. They both want to repeal the Bush tax cuts. They both want to increase taxes on so the-called rich.

BROWN: The policy differences are subtle.

ELDER: They both want to take over the health care of this country. There's no difference. That's why it is personality. That's why Barack Obama does emphasize change, change, change, because his argument is: I am the more personable of the two. But, on substance, there's no difference.


TOOBIN: He did something smart today, Obama did. He gave a very boring speech about economics, which I think is important.


ELDER: Economics is boring, Jeff.

TOOBIN: When you're accused of being all flash and all substance, he laid out his economic plan, which, I think Larry is right, not all that different from hers, but I think the setting and the nature of the speech showed that the campaign is taking seriously the idea that he has to put out ideas, not just inspiration.


BROWN: We're almost out of time. But let me ask you one quick thing, because James Carville, who is a big supporter of Hillary, said today that, if you guys lose Texas or Ohio, this thing is over. Do you agree with that?

CAPUTO: Well, I love James dearly, but, you know, again, I think it is -- she's got to win those states. Is it all over? I would say no.

I mean, again, remember, it's all about the margins in these states. That's what the game is, right? If you win by huge margins, you collect all of those delegates. So, if she can win and win handily, she's in great shape. Even if she wins, but not by a huge margin, I still think she is going to acquire delegates and momentum into Pennsylvania. And then it comes down to the superdelegates, approximately 800 of them, and lobbying all of them one on one from both sides of the campaigns.


All right, guys, stick with us. You are going to be with us for our discussion about Republicans coming up shortly.

We will be back right after this.



ALEXANDER MARQUARDT, CNN PRODUCER: Hi. I'm Alexander Marquardt, producer embedded with the Huckabee campaign.

This afternoon, Governor Huckabee left his home state of Arkansas bound for Wisconsin, where he will spend about 36 hours campaigning. He appears undeterred by the results of the Potomac primaries, vowing to go on until someone gets the necessary 1,191 delegates to secure the nomination.

When asked if he was harming the Republican Party by staying in the race, he said it would be an admission of extraordinary weakness if the party couldn't handle a real election. He added that the close race in Virginia shows that there's still a desire among Republicans for a choice and for a solid conservative. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: So, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee says he is not dropping out of the presidential nomination contest, but some people say he should, because at this point, it is practically impossible for Huckabee to ever wrest the nomination from John McCain.

Well, chief national correspondent John King is joining me now.

So, what does McCain have to say about all this?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It was very interesting listening to McCain today. He went up to Capitol Hill today to bask in the endorsements of conservative House Republicans. And that's significant. Remember, these are the Republicans who torpedoed his immigration bill.


KING: The conservatives in the House led the revolt against it. So, it was an important moment for John McCain to try to say: Look, there is a rally-around-McCain movement here. We're making peace with each other. Let's move forward.

BROWN: Let's all be friends.

KING: But he was asked about the Huckabee thing. And dancing a very fine line, he didn't say get out. He will not push him out, will not urge him out. But he did say: I would sure like him to get out. My life would be easier if he would get out.

So, Senator McCain realizes the results in Virginia. He won. He gets all of the delegates. But it is still a little embarrassing to see such a large chunk of conservatives still not happy with John McCain. That is a problem going forward. Would that be diminished if Mike Huckabee were not on the ballot? McCain would still have to do the outreach.

But the question many Republicans are asking, Campbell, about Huckabee is, at what point does he start hurting himself? One of the reasons he is staying in is to have influence at the convention.


KING: But he also -- some think he wants to run again, whether McCain loses this time and you run next time or whether it's further down the road. At what point does he hurt himself? And that's an interesting debate within Republican circles.

BROWN: OK. So, a little news today, too. Mike Huckabee is making a trip to the Cayman Islands for an unusual purpose. Explain.

KING: This is extraordinary in modern-day presidential politics. He's going to give a paid speech. Now, we don't even know exactly who is hosting this speech, how much he's being paid. The campaign essentially came back on the press charter today -- and there's a small number of news organizations still traveling with him -- luckily, CNN is one of them -- and essentially said: Look, we're coming off the campaign trail for a day, because, this weekend, he's going to the Cayman Islands to give a paid speech.

Now, what they say is, this is his only source of income. He's a former governor. And he hasn't done this much during the campaign.

BROWN: But have you ever heard of this? It...

KING: In the middle of an active campaign? No, because, obviously, candidates get such scrutiny under their personal finances.

BROWN: Right.

KING: And so we will have to find out who is speaking to, see if they will tell how much he was being paid. Some are taking it as a sign that Governor Huckabee, the fact that he's willing to do this, and not cancel the speech, that he gets the math just fine and he understands it's essentially over, which is why he's willing to do this.

But it is extraordinary. And unfortunately for our people on the plane, they're not taking the press.


BROWN: OK. All right. Wait. Let me bring in the panel on this one, because maybe Huckabee is staying in the race to up his speaking fees, for all we know. I mean, what is your take?

TOOBIN: Alan Keyes ran for president several times solely to build up his speaking fees. I mean, that -- look...


BROWN: Is this OK? Is he going to get a lot of flack for this?

TOOBIN: No. Huckabee is irrelevant at this point.

But McCain's problems in the Republican Party are not irrelevant. He has a problem with conservatives. He also has a problem with liberals and remaining moderates in the party, like Colin Powell, suburban Republican. That's John McCain's problem. And Mike Huckabee is only a very small part of that.

BROWN: Are you guys as dismissive? He's still in the race and he's still getting a substantial portion of the electorate.

CAPUTO: Yes, he's in the race. He wants to get delegates. He wants to be a player in the race. He wants to ensure that the conservative platform gets infused into the McCain platform.

He's running for number two. Why not? He's absolutely playing in this race to be a player and to be on the ticket, I would imagine, in some respect. ELDER: I think, Campbell, at this point, it's an irritant. And he is going to hurt himself. If he's thinking about running 2012, people are going to remember this if he stays too long.

But I take a small exception with Jeff. I don't think that McCain's outreach is going to be all that difficult. When you look at the war and you look at Supreme Court justices and you look at one side wanting tax cuts and one side wants to increase taxes, I think the base will rally around McCain, perhaps not with the same enthusiasm as are people rallying around Barack Obama. But they will be there at the end of the day.

BROWN: Are they waiting for Huckabee to get out before they do? They're still flocking to him in numbers.

ELDER: Well, I don't think they're waiting. They're waiting for McCain to give more speeches, to talk more about: I get the message on immigration. I get your message about drilling in ANWR. I get your message about my belief that global warming is this big problem. I am going to de-emphasize those and emphasize the other areas where we have common ground.

TOOBIN: I get the message about all these subjects where the majority of the American people are on the other side. So, the more he kowtows to conservatives, the harder he makes his general election campaign.


CAPUTO: Absolutely, because it's all about independents for him, too.

KING: But he won't change his position on those big ones.

One of the interesting things, (r)MDNM¯Campbell, is the Democrats celebrate John McCain's -- quote, unquote -- "problems with the right." Look at the national polls. John McCain does have a lot of work to consolidate the party, no question about it.

ELDER: Right.

KING: But he's running even with Hillary Clinton and two or three points behind Barack Obama in national polls right now.

If you are a Republican, especially with all this increased Democratic turnout, you're looking at those numbers and saying, fine.

CAPUTO: Yes, exactly.

ELDER: And, Campbell, the biggest problem with McCain for most conservatives is his position on immigration.

BROWN: Right.

ELDER: That is where the center of the country is. The center of the country wants the border secured, but they want people who are here to be dealt with in some sort of rational way. That's where McCain is. So, it may hurt him right now, but, in the long run, it's going to help hi.


CAPUTO: ... his Iraq statement. He said, hey, let's stay here another 100 years.

BROWN: Right.

CAPUTO: And Iraq is top of mind on...


TOOBIN: You are going to hear that...


TOOBIN: ... every day from the Democrats from now until November.


CAPUTO: It's going to become a Democratic ad.

BROWN: But let's stick with conservatives, too. I just want to bring up the talk radio issue. And, Larry, you may have some perspective on this. There is enormous anger coming from that crowd toward John McCain. Are they that influential? Do they really matter? Or is it the conservatives on Capitol Hill that John was talking about that are the ones who are going to come through for him?

ELDER: There is some influence, most notably Rush Limbaugh. There's Rush Limbaugh, frankly, and there's everybody else in terms of influence. And on issues like immigration, there was influence. On Dubai Ports deal, there was some influence. But if there was all this much influence, we wouldn't have lost, Republicans, the Senate and the House in '06. So, eventually, they will come around.

At the end of the day, the question is, if you really believe this war has made us safer, how can you have a commander in chief whom you believe will make us less safe and call yourself an American -- forget about Republican -- call yourself an American?

BROWN: All right. Final thoughts?

TOOBIN: Well, no, I just think the talk radio thing is more a symptom of the personality disorders of the talk radio hosts, rather than...

ELDER: Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey.

TOOBIN: Present company excluded.


ELDER: ... take it outside.


BROWN: Isn't it in their interests to be against whoever, whether it's John McCain or a Democrat in the White House?

TOOBIN: They're trying to show how important they are, rather than trying to affect the policy debate. I don't think they matter very much.

KING: And they thrive on conflict. They thrive on conflict.

But I will make a prediction for you right here, Campbell. The conversations are already under way. Friends of Rush Limbaugh who are friendly with John McCain, they have started the conversations.

BROWN: There's going to be a summit?

KING: Sean Hannity has started to come around. They're not going to worry about the Ann Coulters of the world.

But the Sean Hannitys, the Laura Ingrahams, the Rush Limbaughs, they're beginning the quiet diplomacy with them.

ELDER: That's right.

KING: You watch. John McCain is going to show up on those shows over the next several weeks and months.


TOOBIN: The senior statesmen of talk radio.

CAPUTO: But, don't forget, Ann Coulter is going to back Hillary Clinton, because she just can't -- she can't vote McCain.

BROWN: That's going to make your race very interesting.


CAPUTO: ... never thought I would see.


ELDER: Just what you guys need. Just what you guys need.


TOOBIN: Speaking of personality disorders.


BROWN: Jeffrey Toobin, Lisa Caputo, and Larry Elder.

I'm trying to save you, Jeffrey.


BROWN: Thanks very much. Appreciate it, guys.

ELDER: Thank you.

BROWN: And John King is going to stay with us.

Coming up next: the debate about superdelegates. They're party insiders who may ultimately decide who wins the Democratic nomination, in spite of what some voters wanted. But you may be surprised to find out who they are and how cozy some are with the candidates. We are going to tell you how.

Back in Washington today, baseball comes to Capitol Hill. It was raw politics. And Tom Foreman has the play-by-play.

And, as we go into the break, have a look at how the Republican candidates stand on the economy. We will show you the Democrats when we come back.


BROWN: As we take a look at the economic policies of both of the candidates, we want to go now to Hillary Clinton. She is talking about those bread and butter issues at a rally in San Antonio, Texas, right now. Let's listen in.

H. CLINTON: We will create millions of green collar jobs that people will be able to take, and have a good living from. I see in America where we will once again build what America needs. We need to rebuild and modernize our roads, our tunnels, our bridges, mass transit, our ports. America needs to make investments that will put people to work, but also make us richer and safer and smarter.

Previous generations of America have built our country. It is time for our generation and all of you to be part of building it for the 21st century, and I see an America where finally, every single man, woman and child has access to quality, affordable health care.

I know that Texas has one of the highest percentages of people uninsured in our entire country. Twenty-five percent of the children, right? I want to ask you, how many of you know somebody who's uninsured? I believe, I believe health care is a moral right, not a privilege.

BROWN: Now that the latest primary results are in, we wanted to reevaluate the delegate totals and figure out what each candidate needs to win. It's a little game we like to call delegate chess. And Chief national correspondent John King is joining me again, to run through the possible scenarios.

And, John, why don't you start with Republicans. And after last night, McCain's number looks pretty unbeatable right now, huh?

KING: As the McCain campaign puts it today, Campbell, Governor Huckabee would have to win 123 percent of the remaining delegates to win the nomination. Well, of course, you can only win 100 percent of the nomination. But let's do it this way. Let's do this scenario. Check the board here.

Senator McCain is about out here right now, and this is the finish line for the Republican nomination. So, let's for the sake of argument, say that Governor Huckabee, let's say Governor Huckabee wins the rest of the contest. Now, there's no reason to believe he would do that, but let's just play out the hypothetical. Governor Huckabee wins them all. He wins with 50 percent of the vote.

In our scenario, John McCain is getting 40 percent of the vote, Ron Paul getting 10 percent of the vote. I'm not hitting the states in the order they vote, but these are the states still left to vote including Wisconsin and Texas, which are coming up soon. Of course, Louisiana here, Mississippi. We come up through Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania. Now, watch where we are.


KING: Look where we are. We're still going. John McCain is right out here.

BROWN: Right.

KING: So a couple more states to go. Throw that into the mix. That doesn't want to go. Let's fix this up and we got to go back up to Governor Huckabee. We give that to Governor Huckabee. We give him Vermont. We come in Rhode Island, and John McCain is at the finish line. And Hawaii out here in the pacific, and guess what? Mike Huckabee wins them all. John McCain is your nominee, so it's over. It is over.

BROWN: And you're being generous with the numbers.

KING: I'm being very generous with the numbers. We're still at some proportions, but assuming he would win them all, 50 percent, and McCain would get 40. Now, if he won them all, if Governor Huckabee won it with 80 percent, either keep McCain back here, but he still wouldn't catch up.

BROWN: OK. No way. It's over. Listen. Let's look at Democrats, though, where it gets a lot more complicated I think. Where did last night get us in terms of the delegate count first?

KING: Last night got us right about here. Senator Obama went ahead for the first time. He's a little ahead of Senator Clinton. She's back here. It's a very slight lead. But again, depends on how you want to play this out. But let's assume she says her big targets right now are Ohio and Texas.

BROWN: Right.

KING: Let's give her those. She's almost conceding Wisconsin, Rhode Island, it's hard to get in there. That's Massachusetts, we got it covered here. Find Rhode Island and Hawaii, to Obama.


KING: Look where that would get you? He is still ahead. He is still ahead. Now, if at this point out, she won the rest, and we can play that out. If she won the rest at 55-45...


KING: She doesn't get there.

BROWN: So, I mean, in all likelihood, neither of them are getting there, right?

KING: If -- if --

BROWN: Is this still coming down to superdelegates?

KING: Here's two scenarios I'll show you really quickly. If Obama's momentum continues and he runs the board...

BROWN: Right.

KING: ... wins them all from here on out, Campbell, wins them all from here on out at 60 percent of the vote, look where he gets. He gets to here. He's still a little shy. But at this point he would be ahead enough that most people think the superdelegates would see that math and say they have to go with Barack Obama. If he were to somehow pull together a stretch where he wins with 70 percent of the vote, he would get right up against the finish line.


KING: Now, it's the same scenario. If Clinton won by about the same numbers, she would be in the same place. But even with 60 or 70 percent of the vote, you end up a little shy. But at this point, the pressure on the superdelegates would be overwhelming and I think their decision pretty obvious.

BROWN: OK, really quickly -- she's still ahead in terms of the superdelegates right now, right?

KING: She is. In terms of the superdelegates who have told us what they're going to do, she has 225. He has about 151. But remember, they're not bound, Campbell.

BROWN: Right.

KING: If he starts --

BROWN: They can change their mind.

KING: If this momentum keeps going and there are 800 total, 796, if one of them gets a lead like this, the pressure going into the convention would be to embrace the will of the people even if the candidate does not quite get to the finish line.

BROWN: OK. John King, you're the man on this map, I'll tell you. Appreciate it. OK.

It's clear that those superdelegates are super important for the Democrats. They get to choose whoever they want, and wait until you see how many have already made their choice. We're going to explore the danger that could pose.

And there's more politics at the top of the hour. "LARRY KING LIVE" looks at the road ahead for the candidates.



PETER HAMBY, CNN PRODUCER: This is Peter Hamby covering Hillary Clinton in Corpus Christi, Texas. After a series of blowout wins by Barack Obama in the Potomac Primaries on Tuesday, Hillary Clinton spent the day campaigning across south Texas, attempting to bounce back from a trio of bruising losses to her chief Democratic rival. Although Obama has now overtaken Clinton in the delegate count, Clinton insisted that everything was on track and that the real focus should be on voter-rich March 4th state like Texas and Ohio.

Some say Wisconsin will also be in play. Her campaign launched a TV ad there today criticizing Obama as all style and no substance, and she's taking that message straight up north to the Rust Belt tonight. Clinton is set to spend Valentine's Day tomorrow, campaigning in the city of Youngstown.


BROWN: Welcome back to the CNN ELECTION CENTER. We are hearing a lot of talk these days about superdelegates. They are creation of the Democrat Party. Republicans don't have superdelegates, and there are 796 of them. They come from every state. And unlike regular delegates, superdelegates can support whomever they choose, regardless of their state's primary or caucus results. And a lot of people are afraid that that will take the party to some very undemocratic places.


BROWN (voice-over): Crystal Strait spends a lot of time corresponding with people on Facebook, but she's different from your typical 20-something Californian. She's going to help decide the Democratic nominee.

CRYSTAL STRAIT, CALIFORNIA SUPERDELEGATE: Each superdelegate is there because they represent a specific constituency. You know, I'm there because I'm one of two women under the age of 30.

BROWN: Years of activism in Democratic politics earned her superdelegate status this year and with the closeness of the campaign, she's been getting some very interesting phone calls.

STRAIT: I was on my way to work, thinking that my office was calling to tell me that I was late for a meeting, and it was Senator Clinton who wanted to call and talk to me about the campaign. She recognized that her campaign needed to do a better job, and she herself needed to do a better job of reaching out to young voters.

BROWN: Despite that, as well as calls from Chelsea Clinton and other Democratic bigwigs, Crystal Strait is still uncommitted. But Massachusetts superdelegate, John Walsh, says he committed to Barack Obama a long time ago, way before Hillary Clinton won the primary in his state. That's right. At the convention, Walsh will back the candidate who lost in his state. Walsh, who helped elect Democrat Deval Patrick as Massachusetts governor, has ties to Obama and is staying loyal.

JOHN WALSH, MASSACHUSETTS SUPERDELEGATE: I spoke with Senator Obama. I had a chance to interact with him a little bit in 2006, because he came to Massachusetts during our election campaign. I was Governor Patrick's campaign manager, and Senator Obama was one of the earliest and most helpful endorsers.

BROWN: Despite Hillary Clinton's Super Tuesday win in their state, Walsh, Governor Patrick, along with Senators Edward Kennedy and John Kerry, all Massachusetts superdelegates, are still committed to Obama, as is Virginia Governor Tim Kaine, who's the national Co- chairman for Obama's campaign, and may be on Obama's short list for a job in his administration if he wins.

For some people, all this superpower harkens back to the battle days of the smoke-filled room when cigar-chomping party-insiders picked nominees and the voters didn't have any say. But don't feel too sorry for Hillary Clinton just yet. She has even more insider superdelegates than Barack Obama. Case in point -- this guy, Harold Ickes, President Clinton's former deputy chief of staff, now a superdelegate who's pledged his support to his former Democratic boss's wife.

Uber Democratic fundraiser Terry McAuliffe, who led the Bill Clinton-Al Gore reelection campaign, now chairman of Hillary Clinton's campaign, and another superdelegate in her column, and the man who's been married to Mrs. Clinton for 32 years.


BROWN: Another superdelegate she's counting on support from come convention time. CNN estimates 234 superdelegates have publicly committed to Clinton. One hundred fifty-seven have pledged their support to Obama, with roughly 400 uncommitted superdelegates to go. The smoke-filled room meets the Facebook age. Some say it stinks as much as ever.


BROWN: With me now is Tad Devine, a long-time Democratic strategist who helped Walter Mondale line up enough superdelegates to win the nomination in 1984. And in an op-ed column this week, he warned Democrats that they are playing a dangerous game if they allow superdelegates to pick a nominee, and he's with us now.

Hey, Tad, how are you? TAD DEVINE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Hi, Campbell, great.

BROWN: Good to have you with us. As we mentioned, you worked for Mondale in 1984, and part of your job was to woo the superdelegates to schmooze them and do whatever it took to bring them over to your side. How did you do it?

DEVINE: Well, we talked to them. I mean, I think the way you persuade delegates is by having contact with them, by persuading them that your candidate is the best candidate, the strongest candidate for the party, the best representative of their state. It's an individual process of actually reaching out and talking to them directly from the campaign or from people who support you. So it's a one on one process that goes on for the course of many months.

BROWN: The key back then, though, of course, is that Mondale had won the popular vote and that he was still leading in terms of the number of pledged delegates. Given that superdelegates could well decide what happens this time around, what concerns you so much about the process?

DEVINE: Well, my concern right now is that because we have two strong candidates who are so evenly matched, particularly coming out of Super Tuesday, that we let the voters decide this process. I think if a perception develops that somehow this decision has been made not by voters participating in primaries or caucuses, but by politicians in some mythical back room, I think the public could react very strongly against that.

BROWN: Meaning that regular people, their vote wouldn't carry the same weight in many ways as party insiders.

DEVINE: Yes, I think the problem is that people perceive that voters have not made the decision, instead, insiders have made the decision. Then all of these new people who are being attracted to the process, particularly the young people who are voting for the first time, will feel disenfranchised or in some way alienated.

So I think it's important for our party leader, these superdelegates to just take a step back. Let this thing play out for a couple of weeks. We're going to have big showdowns in places like Ohio, in Texas, maybe on to Pennsylvania as well. And after the voters have spoken there, if it's clear that someone has emerged as a consensus front-runner, then I think it's time for them to close ranks behind the eventual nominee.

BROWN: So if that's your view then, why have the system in the first place?

DEVINE: Well, this system evolved over the course of many years. We've gone back and forth. When the superdelegates came in, they were created with specific purposes in mind. At the 1980 convention, for example, there were few party leaders and elected officials who participated, and the party felt that unless we got those people involved, it was going to hurt our chances to win a general election. They also wanted to make sure that those party leaders could more accurately reflect the composition of the Democratic Party.

Ironically, it seems strange now. But at the time, there were so many liberal activists who were participating in the delegate selection process and getting elected delegates, that people felt if we had elected officials who competed not against other Democrats but against Republicans to win election, they'd represent more of the mainstream of the party. And finally, they wanted to create a mechanism so if we had a situation like we have today...

BROWN: Right.

DEVINE: ... of two candidates who have actually done well and really can't win this thing on the basis of pledged delegates, that we'd have a mechanism for closure.

BROWN: Well, so what if -- and we don't know how this is going to play out -- but what if the superdelegates don't get behind the candidate who eventually has the most pledged delegates or wins the popular vote? Is there a real risk, a real downside for the Democratic Party in whoever is chosen as the nominee?

DEVINE: I think there is, and I think that's why it's important for delegates to wait, to look, and to listen to what voters are doing. And I think if there is a perception that somehow our process is unfair, I think it will hurt us particularly because so many of the policies that we're saying we will pursue in government as Democrats are based on fairness, whether it's the tax policies that we advocate or the social programs that we want to advance, there's a fairness component in all of that. So people need to believe, I think, that our process is fair as well, if they want to believe that our policies will be fair.

BROWN: All right. Tad Devine, thanks for joining us tonight. Appreciate it, Tad.

DEVINE: Good to be with you.

BROWN: "LARRY KING LIVE" is coming up in just a few minutes. And, Larry, who do you have tonight?

LARRY KING, CNN ANCHOR: Campbell, I think we got the best reality show going, which is the presidential primary season. Our expert panel will be here to talk about last night's results, and to look forward. Time and contests, of course, are running out. A lot of guests, a lot of panelists, some surprises -- all at the top of the hour on "LARRY KING LIVE."

Hang tough, Campbell.

BROWN: I will. Thank you, Larry. We will see you at 9:00.

And it was a face-off of major league proportions in Washington today. All-star pitcher Roger Clemens and his former trainer came to Capitol Hill with very different stories. Tom Foreman has that and a lot more in tonight's "Raw Politics." Stay with us.


BROWN: "Raw Politics" on Capitol Hill today, during testimony in the baseball steroid showdown. Here's Tom Foreman with more on that.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Big names, big accusations and pumped up "Raw Politics," as Congress keeps batting away at the issue of steroids in Major League Baseball. On the mound, Yankees star Roger Clemens facing accusations from a former trainer about 'roids and human growth hormones.

BRIAN MCNAMEE, ROGER CLEMENS FORMER TRAINER: I injected those drugs into the body of Roger Clemens at his direction.

ROGER CLEMENS, MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL PLAYER: Let me be clear, I have never taken steroids or HGH.

REP. HENRY WAXMAN (D), OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: It's impossible to believe that this is a simple misunderstanding.

FOREMAN (voice-over): If they sort it all out there may be criminal charges -- in someone.

At the White House, President Bush signs that economic stimulus package but on the Hill, his team is talking terrorism, urging Congress to protect phone companies from lawsuits if they helped the government spy on suspected bad guys.

MICHAEL CHERTOFF, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: This is the radar that we have for the 21st century to protect attacks before they happen.

FOREMAN: Obama fans in Kenya are toasting his latest victories -- senator beer, the brew of choice in that distant land, where some of his relatives still live.

And last year, Russian President Vladimir Putin appeared topless to promote health. Now, in a new movie, a character who looks suspiciously like the former spy boss shows his sweeter side.

FOREMAN (on camera): The kiss is out just in time for Valentine's Day and for elections there. That's "Raw Politics" from Russia, rrrr, with love.


BROWN: Our Tom Foreman. The politics continues at the top of the hour. "LARRY KING LIVE" has political insiders James Carville, Ron Reagan and a lot more. Larry promised us some surprises a couple of minutes ago so stick around and see who shows up.


BROWN: And that is it from the Election Center tonight. We've got a lot more politics coming up. Also tomorrow, will going negative turn things positive for Senator Hillary Clinton?

I'm Campbell Brown. "LARRY KING LIVE" starts right now.