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Obama Steps up Clinton Barbs; McCain's Message to GOP and Dems; How Heavily Will Super-Delegates' Votes Count?
Aired February 13, 2008 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, high stakes after clean sweeps. Barack Obama ratchets up his Hillary Clinton rhetoric. John McCain asks some Republicans to help rally conservatives behind him.
Also, the accused sits near his accuser. Baseball's Roger Clemens denies what a former trainer says, and lawmakers grill both to try to nail down which story to believe.
And extra help for many people will soon be on the way. President Bush acts to get extra money in the hands of millions of Americans.
I'm Wolf Blitzer at the CNN Election Center. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Barack Obama says he's an underdog, but his big wins certainly make him seem like a front-runner. Today he's in Wisconsin after pulling off a clean sweep in three presidential contests.
Obama beat Hillary Clinton by big margins in primaries in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. And he's now stepping up his targets on Clinton.
Our senior political analyst, Gloria Borger, she's here. She's watching all of this with us, together with all of us. This is a huge, huge story.
Why is he ratcheting up criticisms right now directly, Gloria, at Hillary Clinton?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Right now, I think there is a race on for those John Edwards voters. They are going to be really important. There's a race between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama for that Edwards endorsement.
So now you hear Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton each sounding a little bit more populist, with Obama charging that Hillary Clinton voted for tax breaks for corporations. Watch for more of this differentiation between these two candidates.
BLITZER: So, do you expect Hillary Clinton to go more negative now...
BORGER: I do. I do.
BLITZER: ... in these days leading up to March 4th, the big primaries in Texas and Ohio, let alone next Tuesday in Wisconsin?
BORGER: You know, Wolf, I don't think she has any other choice. She has to try and find a way.
Her sort of motif now is to say, I'm all about providing solutions and Barack Obama is all about promises. That's the way she's going to say she's tough enough and tougher and can win the presidency.
BLITZER: All right, Gloria. Stand by.
She'll be coming back.
Obama's wins give him more of what's needed to become the nominee. That would be delegates. Obama slightly leads Clinton as they try to reach the critical number of 2,025. Obama has just more than 1,250 delegates. Clinton has more than 1,200.
But Clinton is ahead in the number of so-called superdelegates. Those are the Democratic lawmakers, the insiders, the party leaders who could sway this race. Clinton has 234 of those superdelegates, Obama 157.
On the Republican side, John McCain inching closer and closer to reaching what he needs to clinch his party's nomination. He has 827 delegates to Mike Huckabee's 217.
Next week, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton take part, by the way, in our CNN debate in the key battleground state of Texas. It takes place on Thursday, February 21st, in Austin. It's co-sponsored by Univision and the Texas Democratic Party.
It airs live on CNN beginning at 8:00 p.m. Eastern, and airs later that night in Spanish on Univision. Journalists from CNN and Univision will ask questions. A CNN anchor will moderate that debate.
Today, John McCain is doubling up his work. He's asking for Republican help in courting conservatives, and he is serving them some red meat by attacking Democrats. Let's bring in Dana Bash. She's watching this story for us.
Dana, a big night, big win for John McCain last night. So what's his agenda right now?
DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you heard last night, him go after Barack Obama subtly. He did much more directly today. He slammed Barack Obama for having one of the most liberal voting records, and saying he is singularly lacking in specifics. Now, attacking a potential Democratic rival is a tactic toward getting Republicans behind his candidacy. And today, Wolf, his audience was House Republicans looking for their own way out of the political doldrums.
BASH (voice over): For the Republican presidential candidate desperate to rally his party behind him, this helps.
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R), MINORITY LEADER: Clearly, I've had some disagreements with Senator McCain over the years. But I've got to tell you, I've watched this presidential race unfold and I've watched John McCain be a strong advocate for the principles that I believe in.
BASH: So does this.
REP. ROY BLUNT (R), MINORITY WHIP: This contest is over, and I think it's produced the best possible nominee for us to take back the House.
BASH: A show of support from formerly skeptical House GOP leaders on the heels of a Potomac primary sweep. And John McCain's patience for Mike Huckabee is wearing thin.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Of course I would like for him to with draw today. I mean, it would be much easier. But I respect and have repeatedly said I respect his right to continue in this race.
BASH: But McCain has moved on, test-driving his general election message.
MCCAIN: ... the Democrats who want to raise your taxes, or me, I want to lower your taxes. Whether it will be a health care system run by the federal government, or whether families in America will make their choices about health care.
BASH: In efforts to convince GOP lawmakers maverick McCain is a team player, CNN is told behind closed doors a supporter read data on how much he's campaigned for House candidates.
REP. TOM COLE (R), OKLAHOMA: The next election is going to be fought in the middle.
BASH: The congressman in charge of electing House Republicans this year says McCain topping the ticket will help.
COLE: I think Independent voters are going to be the most important voting bloc going forward. And I think John McCain has a demonstrated appeal to that group.
BASH: But some are still wary of McCain on issues like immigration. Congressman Tom Price wants to hear...
REP. TOM PRICE (R), GEORGIA: That border security first is of paramount importance to this nation. I need to look him in the eye, shake his hand, and get that assurance from him as well.
BASH: Now, even skeptical House members told us McCain was warmly received and got a standing ovation. Perhaps because they're growing to like him, or perhaps because of the reality laid out by McCain's own campaign in a memo this morning, Wolf. And that said that it is now mathematically impossible for him not to become the Republican nominee.
BLITZER: Remember, Mike Huckabee believes not necessarily in math. He believes in miracles, Dana. Thanks very much. Dana Bash and Gloria Borger, as all of our viewers know, they are both part of the Emmy Award-winning best political team on television.
Remember, for the latest political news any time, check out our Political Ticker at CNNPolitics.com. It's now the number one political news blog on the Web. And that's also where you can read my latest blog post as well.
Let's go to Jack Cafferty. He's part of the best political team on television as well.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: What did you write about?
BLITZER: I wrote about Michigan and Florida, what's going to happen with the millions of Democrats who went there in good faith to vote but effectively are being disenfranchised.
CAFFERTY: Well, didn't they know before the election that the delegates would not be seated?
BLITZER: A lot of people -- a lot of them just went and voted. They thought that that's what they were supposed to do.
CAFFERTY: But the decision had been made prior to the election...
BLITZER: Right. That's what...
CAFFERTY: ... that the delegates would not be seated.
CAFFERTY: So it was a beauty contest.
BLITZER: It was. If that. If that.
CAFFERTY: So now certain people want to change the rules of the game after the game's been played.
CAFFERTY: The fourth quarter gun sounds, you go in the locker room, and then you call up and say, can you change the scoreboard? Because I feel like I won.
BLITZER: That's what a lot of people want to do.
CAFFERTY: Well, some people.
BLITZER: We'll talk more about it.
CAFFERTY: Yes, we will.
Barack Obama says he has a new American majority. And judging by the results of the Potomac primaries, he might be on to something.
Obama topped Hillary Clinton in all three races yesterday. He won by a margin of almost two to one in Maryland and Virginia, three to one in the District of Columbia. These weren't wins. These were thrashings.
What's significant is not just what Obama won, it's how he did it. He pulled away a lot of the voters that make up Hillary Clinton's political base.
He did well, as he always does among young voters, Independents, African-Americans, but that wasn't all. He beat Hillary Clinton among voters 65 and older, blue collar workers, and women. And in Virginia, he won the white vote, along with every income, education, and religious group. He even won a majority of Latino support there.
This all leaves Hillary Clinton in a pretty tough spot. Obama's wide margins in the races over the last week mean that Clinton not only needs to win Ohio and Texas March 4th, she needs to answer back with a couple landslides of her own.
And that's a tall order, especially given that Obama has all the momentum riding on his side. He's now won eight races in a row. He leads the delegate count 1,253 to Clinton's 1,211. And polls show him gaining strength in both Wisconsin and Hawaii, which vote next Tuesday.
And remember this -- Obama's campaign is bringing in $1 million a day for more than 650,000 contributors. He continues to draw arena- sized crowds. Tens of thousands of people showing up everywhere he goes to speak. So she's got her work cut out for her.
Here's the question. How can Hillary Clinton stop Barack Obama's momentum?
Go to CNN.com/caffertyfile, post a comment there on my blog.
BLITZER: I want to know, Jack, who's going to get our assignment to go to Hawaii to cover that primary?
CAFFERTY: I'll volunteer.
BLITZER: That's a good assignment.
BLITZER: Because I understand in Maui they have got some really interesting districts, some precincts over there that need some extra coverage.
CAFFERTY: Absolutely. Well, we should maybe both go. Maybe it's a big enough assignment that two people...
BLITZER: Huge. Yes. Jack, thank you.
You've spoken, but are the presidential candidates listening? Going forward after last night's primaries, what can they all learn from your votes?
Also, could 2008 look like 1972 all over again? The former San Francisco mayor, Willie Brown, says Democrats face the prospect of an ugly convention in Denver this summer. Willie Brown is here.
And millions of cash-strapped Americans could use some extra cash. Now checks will soon be on the way. We're going to tell you what the president has just done that could help you.
Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: As things heat up on the campaign trail, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are stepping up their criticisms of each other. Each hoping to rack up more endorsements from their fellow Democrats. But some in the party are deciding not to pick sides.
BLITZER: And joining us now, the former mayor of San Francisco, Willie Brown. He's the author of a brand-new book entitled, "Basic Brown: My Life and Our Times," an autobiography.
And Mayor, thanks very much for coming in.
WILLIE BROWN, FMR. SAN FRANCISCO MAYOR: Wolf, thank you for the opportunity. You kept your word.
BLITZER: Oh, well I told you you'd be on this show to talk about the book. And you're here.
Let's talk politics first, though.
Why haven't you endorsed one of your fellow Democrats for the presidency?
BROWN: For two reasons. There were five in the contest of nine that were good friends to whom I had an indebtedness and a relationship. And secondly, I'm on the air quite often as an analyst, and if I had a preference, obviously it would ruin my credibility in terms of trying to be objective about the affairs being discussed.
BLITZER: But what do you think about the prospect of an African- American man becoming president of the United States right now?
BROWN: I think it is fabulous. I think that the Democrats are really blessed this time around. They have two incredibly qualified candidates, each of whom will be of historical significance if either one of them ends up being the president. That is just an embarrassment (ph) of political riches.
BLITZER: So you could go with either one. You would be happy with either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama?
BROWN: Absolutely. I would be equally as happy, a woman being the president of these United States, and a person of African descent being president of these United States. You can't write that kind of chapter of that kind of a story.
BLITZER: Would you be happy if the so-called superdelegates in the Democrat Party, almost 800 of them, if they were the deciding factor in determining who the nominee was going to be at the convention at the end of the summer in Denver, as opposed to the pledged delegates, those actually elected in caucuses and primaries?
BROWN: That's exactly why you have the superdelegates. You have the superdelegates because this is the Democratic Party.
You don't want the bleed-over from the Green Party, or from the Independents or others, deciding who your nominee will be. Each one of those superdelegates have been selected as super, fitting the criterion set up by the party, either an office holder or an icon, or a state chair or a national member. And in that category, they are the keepers of the faith. They are the people who...
BLITZER: So you like this system, Mayor? And I remember a lot of our viewers probably remember the last time there was a floor fight at a Democratic convention was back in 1972, when you effectively led the California delegation and got George McGovern that nomination.
BROWN: Absolutely. And it was a winner-take-all fight. It was a credentials fight.
I don't think there's been a significant credentials fight since then. This time in Denver, you may see such a fight over those who are the delegates from Michigan and those who are the delegates from Florida. And I hope...
BLITZER: How do you want to resolve those issues? Because there are millions of Democrats who are not going to be represented from Michigan and Florida at this convention. They were stripped of their delegates because they moved up their primaries.
BROWN: Oh, yes. They will be represented, because the Democratic Party is not so foolish as to write off those two states, and then try to rely upon the other 48 to get them the victory.
BLITZER: How do you do it then? So what's the solution?
BROWN: Well, I don't have at the moment the formula. But I can tell you this -- if asked and given an opportunity to be the mediator, I bet you I could come forward with a proposal that each of the sides would buy, Hillary and Barack.
BLITZER: Because Hillary Clinton says she won those primaries even though she didn't compete, even though Barack Obama's name wasn't even on the ballot in Michigan. She says she won and she should get those, whoever they happen to be, she should get those delegates.
BROWN: But, Wolf, the rules were very clear. The rules said neither of the respective parties can campaign in those two states. And believe me, when that happens, obviously anybody who's not well known isn't going to be identified. Anybody not on the ballot isn't going to be identified.
So you've got to work that out. You can't just ignore the fact that the rules put Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton in the situation they're in.
BLITZER: All right. Let's talk a little about "Basic Brown," your new book, which is really fascinating. Anybody who knows a little bit about Willie Brown will learn a great deal about your life reading this book.
Here's a line from the book that was intriguing. And I want you to explain it.
"I've always kept my membership in the black world. I've worked hard to understand not only the needs of my people, but also how blacks approach politics and how they view candidates." Give us the context, what you were referring to.
BROWN: Well, of course, Wolf, I have not had the benefit of a huge black majority in any of the districts in which I have been a candidate. I've never had more than 10 or 12 percent. In the city, it was less than 8 percent. And as a result of that, I did not want to be in a position where I didn't get 100 percent of the eight percent. I didn't want anybody suggesting that I didn't understand everything about being black.
After all, I come from Texas, I come from that little town called Mineola. I was segregated against, I was discriminated against, et cetera. So I have the complete black experience. I show up regularly to make sure no brother raises the question about whether or not I'm drinking tea and playing lacrosse and forgetting how to sing a Negro spiritual. That's important.
BLITZER: So are you -- but is it implied criticism of other black political leaders who are out there?
BROWN: Not implied criticism at all. I'm simply laying out what has to be the obligation of those of us who are perceived by black people as being their leaders when we are elected, whether it's that constituency or not, and by non-blacks.
We are supposed, if we are black, somehow, have some magical solution to what is considered black problems. And believe me, that's a huge burden imposed upon those of us who are elected.
In order to make sure you do it right, you'd better have a relationship with the black newspapers. You'd better have a relationship with the black churches, the black fraternal organizations. But you do not do so at the expense of your obligation to the total population.
BLITZER: "Basic Brown" is the name of the book. The author is Willie Brown. And thanks, Mr. Mayor, for joining us. BROWN: Thank you for having me, Wolf.
BLITZER: It's a disturbing thought. President Bush says terrorists are bent on targeting the United States again with attacks that could even surpass 9/11. And the president is urging Congress toward one thing, to help prevent that.
We'll tell you what he's saying today.
Also coming up, he said/he said. Baseball's Roger Clemens sits near a man claiming Clemens used performance-enhancing drugs. Lawmakers say one of them is not telling the truth.
Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: President Bush says terrorists are now planning new attacks on the United States. He wants the House to pass a key bill in the war on terror, and do it quickly. Lawmakers though are balking. We'll update you on what's going on.
And John McCain is urging Mike Huckabee to withdraw from the presidential race, but Huckabee says he's staying put. We're going to look at the dynamics between these two men. That's coming up in our "Strategy Session."
Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Happening now, one of the world's most wanted terrorists killed in a car bombing in Syria. The State Department saying the world is now a better place without Imad Mughniyeh. He was the suspected mastermind of a lot of terror attacks back in Lebanon that killed hundreds of Americans, including more than 200 Marines in the 1980s. A full report on this important story coming up.
Mike Huckabee vows he will stay in the presidential race. I'll talk with David Brody of the Christian Broadcasting Network about the reasons behind this decision.
And America's black leaders are calling on the Democratic Party to make votes in Florida and Michigan count. We're going to tell you why that's causing some controversy right now.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
President Bush says enemies hope for attacks on the United States that "will make the September 11th incident pale by comparison." Today, the president is pressuring the House of Representatives to pass new rules for eavesdropping on terrorist communications. Let's go to the White House. Our correspondent, Elaine Quijano, is standing by.
At issue right now is this whole immunity issue -- matter for some of the telecommunications companies that cooperated with the U.S. government.
ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's exactly right, Wolf. President Bush says that immunity is needed so that in the future, these telecom companies will cooperate with the government in nabbing terrorists. But the bigger picture here is that even though the clock is ticking down on this presidency, that President Bush, when it comes to national security, and Republicans are still very much able to flex their political muscle.
QUIJANO (voice over): From the Oval Office, President Bush delivered an urgent but vague warning.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: At this moment somewhere in the world, terrorists are planning new attacks on our country.
QUIJANO: One day after the Senate overwhelmingly handed him a victory, voting on a surveillance bill that would give retroactive legal immunity to telecom companies, the president pressured the House to follow suit.
BUSH: The House's failure to pass the bipartisan Senate bill would jeopardize security of our citizens.
QUIJANO: For some Democrats, the Senate's approval acknowledges the Democrat's Achilles' heel, fear of being painted this election year as being weak on national security.
SEN. RUSS FEINGOLD (D), WISCONSIN: Under intense administration pressure, marked by inaccurate and misleading scare tactics, the Senate has buckled. And we are left with a very dangerous piece of legislation.
QUIJANO: With the surveillance legislation set to expire Saturday, the president threatened to veto any temporary measures.
BUSH: The time for debate is over. I will not accept any temporary extension.
QUIJANO: But House Democrats are digging in their heels and pushing for a 21-day extension to the so-called Protect America Act.
REP. JERROLD NADLER (D), NEW YORK: It is a question of our nation's security and there's a question of our nation's values. We should not be stampeded into action when there is no need.
QUIJANO: But, Wolf, just minutes ago, House Democrats failed to pass that 21-day extension. The final vote was 229 against, 191 for. And among those who voted against this extension, 21 conservative Democrats, the so-called Blue Dogs, who essentially helped hand the Bush White House another victory in this debate -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Thanks very much. Appreciate it, Elaine Quijano.
President Bush says the economic stimulus package he signed into law today will provide a booster shot for the U.S. economy -- the government hoping the measure will either prevent a recession or make one relatively brief.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: Congress passed a really good piece of legislation. And they did so in a very expeditious manner. The bill I'm signing today is large enough to have an impact, amounting to more than $152 billion this year, or about one percent of GDP.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: The package will pay $600 to most individual taxpayers, $1,200 to married taxpayers filing joint returns. The rebate checks are expected to be sent out in May. Checks will be in the mail.
Turning once again right now to the presidential contest, now that some of you have spoken in yesterday's primaries, we're taking a closer look at what the candidates might learn from that experience. Joining us now is our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider, who is watching all of this.
You have carefully gone through these exit polls that we did in Virginia and Maryland.
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Right.
BLITZER: What are we learning?
SCHNEIDER: Momentum. That was the message of the polls. Barack Obama is getting it. Hillary Clinton is losing it. And John McCain is getting it in some places more than others.
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): When you have got momentum, you cut into your opponent's core support. That's what Barack Obama did on Tuesday in Maryland and Virginia. On Super Tuesday, Clinton had a huge 24- point lead over Obama among white women. This week, her lead among white women was cut to 18 points in Maryland and six points in Virginia. Seniors are a core Clinton constituency.
SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We used to have a system where we would provide health to seniors on fixed incomes and to families that were struggling.
SCHNEIDER: On Super Tuesday, Clinton led Obama by 29 points among white seniors. In Maryland and Virginia this week, her lead was cut to 20 points. Clinton is counting on Ohio and Texas to revive her campaign. Ohio has a deeply distressed economy. On Super Tuesday, Clinton had an eight-point lead among voters who said their top concern was the economy. Obama is going after that vote.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's the dream of the father who goes to work before dawn and lies awake at night wondering how he is going to pay the bills. He needs us to restore fairness to our economy.
SCHNEIDER: In Virginia and Maryland, Obama snatched economy voters away from Clinton on Tuesday. They went for the Illinois senator by more than 20 points. Latino voters delivered big-time for Clinton on Super Tuesday. She is relying on them to help her carry Texas next month.
CLINTON: So, my relationships in the Hispanic community are very broad and very deep.
SCHNEIDER: Obama has high hopes.
OBAMA: Which is, as Latino voters get to know me, we do better.
SCHNEIDER: There's evidence of that in Tuesday's vote. In Maryland, Clinton's margin among Latinos shrank to 10 points. In Virginia, Obama carried the Latino vote.
SCHNEIDER: In the Republican race, McCain made a breakthrough. He carried conservative voters for the first time by a narrow margin in Maryland. But, in Virginia, McCain continued to lose conservatives to Mike Huckabee. Now, Huckabee is a regional candidate. He can carry Southern conservatives, but he doesn't do well in primaries outside the South.
BLITZER: Bill Schneider, thanks for crunching the numbers for us.
BLITZER: Did an excellent job last night, as you always do.
SCHNEIDER: Thank you.
BLITZER: Appreciate it.
Fireworks on Capitol Hill between members of Congress and a baseball superstar.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. HENRY WAXMAN (D-CA), GOVERNMENT REFORM COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: Evidently, Mr. Pettitte didn't believe what Mr. Clemens said in that 2005 conversation.
ROGER CLEMENS, MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL PLAYER: It doesn't mean he was not mistaken, sir. WAXMAN: It doesn't mean that, but...
CLEMENS: That does not mean that he was not mistaken, sir.
WAXMAN: Excuse me, but this is not your time to argue with me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Coming up, the debate over injections, physical trainers and just who is telling the truth.
Plus, how can Hillary Clinton get back in the race? What will it take for her to build some momentum? Our "Strategy Session" -- coming up.
BLITZER: Today on Capitol Hill, an accuser and the accused tossing out claims and denials and a House panel hoping to try to get to the bottom of it all. It's a brewing controversy involving baseball great Roger Clemens. At issue, did he use performance- enhancing drugs, as a former trainer claims? Clemens and the accuser sat near each other today, telling lawmakers vastly different stories. Let's turn to CNN's Larry Smith. He's up on Capitol Hill, watching this.
Not your usual congressional hearing today, Larry.
LARRY SMITH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No, it wasn't, Wolf. We are talking more than four-and-a-half-hours of drama, accusations and name-calling. This congressional committee hearing had it all, except a resolution.
SMITH (voice-over): Roger Clemens has made a name for himself by throwing heat. Wednesday, he tried to save that name by withstanding the heat from lawmakers, who wanted to know if he's ever taken steroids.
CLEMENS: I'm not saying Senator Mitchell's report is entirely wrong. I am saying Brian McNamee's statements about me are wrong. Let me be clear: I have never taken steroids or HGH.
BRIAN MCNAMEE, FORMER PERSONAL TRAINER TO ROGER CLEMENS: I told the truth about steroids and human growth hormone. I injected those drugs into the body of Roger Clemens at his direction.
SMITH: Clemens wasn't the only one questioning McNamee's credibility. Congressmen came into the hearing in attack mode.
REP. DAN BURTON (R), INDIANA: I want to make sure I have got this straight. Your friend Roger Clemens, you allegedly gave him these shots. You kept the pads and the needles for five years and went on and kept working for him because he was your employer. And then you say you said you felt bad -- you felt bad about proposing and giving these to the Mitchell committee when you first started talking to them?
MCNAMEE: Yes, sir.
BURTON: Gee whiz! Are you kidding me?
MCNAMEE: No, sir.
SMITH: This was an equal-opportunity bashing, meaning Clemens wasn't spared. There were even some fireworks. The star pitcher's attorneys sidestepped the rules and addressed the committee directly in defense of their client. But, in the end, still, no one is sure who is telling the truth.
WAXMAN: They don't disagree on a phone call or one meeting. They disagree on whether over a period of four years Mr. McNamee repeatedly injected Mr. Clemens with steroids and human growth hormone. It's impossible to believe that this is a simple misunderstanding. Someone isn't telling the truth.
SMITH: Well, Chairman Waxman said later that it's up to the attorneys to determine if perjury charges will be hit -- be put on one of these two people. But he does say, for his money, he feels McNamee is the credible one -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Some are asking, Larry, why Congress is even taking up this issue of baseball. What's -- what is the rationale for holding these all-day hearings today and this full-scale investigation by this House panel?
SMITH: Well, I think it's a great question, Wolf. Two reasons. One, they want to see, just how credible is this Mitchell report, the 17-month investigation done by former Senator George Mitchell, how credible is that?
And, number two, keep in mind, the last time Congress got involved with the issue of steroids in baseball was 2005. Baseball stepped up its testing policies. They may choose to stick their nose in their business again and see if there's something that should be done.
BLITZER: Because there are plenty of people who think these members of Congress have better things to do than worry about baseball. But it's obviously an issue of some contention. Now, Larry, thanks for the good job.
SMITH: OK. Thanks.
BLITZER: In our "Strategy Session," the McCain/Huckabee dynamic -- John McCain saying he holds Mike Huckabee in very high regard.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I respect and have repeatedly said I respect his right to continue in this race for just as long as he wants to.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: But at what point is Mike Huckabee doing more harm than good for himself and for the GOP's chances in November?
And on the Democratic side, has the race become Barack Obama's to lose? And how does Hillary Clinton get back in the game? Donna Brazile and Rich Galen, they're standing by in our "Strategy Session" -- right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Hillary Clinton is trying to figure out how to counter Barack Obama's momentum. And John McCain says he would like to see Mike Huckabee potentially withdraw. But Huckabee's staying put. Let's get to that in our "Strategy Session."
Joining us, our Democratic strategist and contributor Donna Brazile and Republican strategist Rich Galen. Guys, thanks for coming in.
Let's talk about Obama first. Given his dramatic wins, not only last night, but in recent days since Super Tuesday, is it his to lose right now, Donna? Is it too early to say that?
DONNA BRAZILE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, he's in the catbird seat. There's no question that Senator Obama last night did two things very well. First of all, he was able to pass Senator Clinton now in the total number of pledged delegates selected. Also, he has passed her in the popular vote. Of course, we know he's won more states. That may be irrelevant because he's winning more delegates.
I think, going forward, Senator -- Senator Obama must show not just the Democrats, but the country, that he has what it takes to be president of the United States. So, I would forget the front-runner status. I would begin to campaign for the presidency and ignore those critics who say that his resume, his Washington resume, is too thin.
But, look, Senator Clinton can still win this thing. We have about one-third of the delegates still at stake, the pledged delegates. And she has a shot. But now she must win Ohio, Texas and Pennsylvania. And that's going to be tough.
BLITZER: And so what does she need to do, Rich, to regain that momentum?
RICH GALEN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Yes. I think -- I mean, to get back to the original point, the memo that -- that Mark Penn sent out today is the memo sent out by a campaign that knows it's in trouble. It's not clear to me why they have set the bar so high for themselves in Ohio and Texas on March 4th. But they have done it, and now they have got to pay it off.
What they will do, I suspect, in Texas, where I lived for most of the '90s -- I'm pretty familiar with it -- is to drive a wedge between the Hispanic voters in -- mostly in the valley and in the south, and the black voters largely in the Dallas and Houston areas, and then hope that she collects a huge percentage of the white vote.
BLITZER: Well, is -- is that a smart strategy for Hillary Clinton's campaign, Donna?
BRAZILE: I don't think she will try to drive a wedge between the Latino and the black voters.
I think she will try to transform her campaign and make it a mean, lean, aggressive organizing machine, because the Texas primary system is a little complicated, Wolf. There's a primary. And, also, there are these state Senate district caucuses.
So, she needs to win both by talking about the economy, talking about jobs, talking about, of course, what she would do as president. But she also must organize. You have got to get on the ground. You have got to get some dirt in your fingernails.
BLITZER: And you got to do it. Now let's talk about the Republican...
GALEN: I don't think she will do it, but I -- but I think she will get it done.
BLITZER: All right, let's talk about the GOP for a moment, Rich. Last night, Mike Huckabee was asked if John McCain had formally asked him to withdraw from the -- from the race.
Here's what Huckabee said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE HUCKABEE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Of course not, no. I mean, he wouldn't do that. He's too much of a gentleman. And he's got more honor than to do something as ridiculous and as absurd.
You would never, ever, to me, have the audacity to ask your opponent to step aside. That would be beneath his dignity. And I have got more respect for him as a human being to even imagine that he -- he would consider such a thing. He would not.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right, here's what McCain said this morning. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCAIN: I don't pretend that Governor -- that I wouldn't like Governor Huckabee not in the race, I mean. But, look -- but I respect his commitment to do so and his commitment to continue in the race. Of course, I would like for him to withdraw today.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: "Of course I would like for him to withdraw today." What do you think about this exchange?
GALEN: Well, I think what happens is that, when Huckabee does withdraw, as he will have to do sooner or later, because he will just run out of time, money and delegates, that, when he does that, because there's this love fest between the two of them, that he will do everything -- Mike Huckabee will do everything he can to try to bring his supporters over to the McCain side. So, I think, as a strategic move, this will pay off big for -- for McCain.
BLITZER: What do you think, Donna?
BRAZILE: Well, I think Mike Huckabee must decide if he's running to be the president of the United States or leader of the conservative movement. It is now impossible for him to get the kind of delegates he needs to secure the nomination. And while I believe, on the Republican side, there's a vacuum there for those who are conservative, ultra-conservative, Huckabee has every right to stay in the race, but, if you're not accumulating delegates, it's time to fold the tent and come on home.
BLITZER: He is going to probably wait at least until Texas, don't you think, Rich?
GALEN: If he has enough money to stay in. I think that's probably right. You know, yesterday was pretty -- a pretty big blow. In Virginia, McCain got 50 percent of the vote. And, as we all know, in any multi-candidate election, when you get -- when you get more than half the votes, it's a big deal.
And, so, I think -- I think Mike, at some point, will say: This has been good, and I think I have demonstrated my -- as Donna said -- conservative bona fides. And now it's time to get in behind the nominee.
BLITZER: And when you say multi-candidate, you're referring to Ron Paul as well.
Rich and Donna, thanks, guys, very much.
BRAZILE: Thank you.
BLITZER: One of the world's most wanted terrorists killed. He was considered a model for Osama bin Laden. We are going to have a full report on what this man was up to -- and the FBI saying he's responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Americans, including more than 200 Marines in Beirut back in 1984. Coming up, you will hear from the family of one of those victims and a special forces officer who spent literally years and years tracking him down. And the chairman of the NAACP facing controversy because of a simple letter to the Democratic Party. You are going to find out what's causing the furor.
Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: In today's political ticker, a pastor in California says the IRS is investigating him because he's endorsed Republican Mike Huckabee. The man is prominent in the Southern Baptist Convention, and he is using church stationary that has Mike Huckabee's name on it.
The pastor says the IRS notified him last week he's being investigated. Federal law says that, if church officials endorse candidates or parties, their tax-exempt status could be at risk.
As all the candidates vie for their party's nominations, we are keeping track of the delegate math right now, where they stand, who's moving forward, who's not.
Let's walk over to John King. He's got the magic wall -- or the magic video screen. I don't know what we're calling it, but it's amazing, what it can do.
John, thanks very much. Let's...
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's our friend.
BLITZER: Let's talk about...
KING: The wall is our friend.
BLITZER: Let's talk about Barack Obama. Can he mathematically clinch this nomination?
KING: You know, that's one of the big questions in Democratic politics today and Republican politics, too. With all this momentum, eight wins in a row, if he goes in -- and these gold states are the contests coming, Rhode Island, Vermont, the bigger states, of course, Ohio, Texas, Wisconsin, his home state of Hawaii, his birth state, down there.
One of the questions in Democratic politics, well, if Obama keeps this momentum and sweeps, will he be the nominee. Well, Wolf, watch this. I am going to give you two scenarios. One is if Barack Obama wins 60 percent to 40 percent, every other state. Now, would that happen? Who knows. But let's do the hypothetical.
Barack Obama wins everywhere 60/40. And let's begin by looking at this. He is ahead of Senator Clinton. She's just behind him. That's the finish line. Well, can Barack Obama do it? There is 60/40. He gets here, just shy of the finish line. If he wins every other state and the delegates are apportioned roughly 60/40, Barack Obama falls a little short.
So, let's try another scenario. Again, let's go back to where we are this morning. Here's our default. Let's start him out here, Obama again slightly ahead. Here's the finish line. For the sake of argument, let's say Obama wins 70/30. He had some pretty big margins last night. If he wins 70/30, he gets right here, Wolf, close to the finish line, but he doesn't cross it.
Now, if he's at that point, it would be pretty hard for the superdelegates not to give him the final votes. But 70/30, Barack Obama sweeps the board, he still doesn't clinch, and pretty much the same scenario. If you ran this out that, say, Senator Clinton turned the tide and she won them all 60/40 or 70/30 for the rest of the way out, she would be in just about the same position. So, that is the fascinating math and dilemma facing the Democratic Party.
BLITZER: Why -- this notion that March 4th, Texas, Ohio and, later in April, Pennsylvania, that's Hillary Clinton's fire wall, is it based on some sort of statistical reality?
KING: It is based on demographics so far in the election.
Here's the country. Watch this. This is one of the things we can do on the wall. What does this show you? This is across the country in states that have voted so far. The darker blue is Senator Obama. This lighter blue is Senator Clinton. So, what states are we talking about? One of the states we are talking about, she says, is Texas.
Well, look, she has done well. Texas hasn't voted, of course. That's why it's white. But this is Senator Clinton. This is Senator Clinton. This is Senator Clinton here. This is Senator Clinton here. She has done well in many of the counties. This is county by county surrounding Texas -- a little bit of Obama strength here. But she can essentially look around Texas and say: I have strong demographics.
Here in Ohio, as well, Wolf, so the demographics tell you now that she is strong heading in. One of the questions is, did all the gains Obama made up here in Virginia, do they carry over? That is the question in Democratic politics right now.
BLITZER: And we're going to be study all of this for a long time.
Let's walk back to Jack Cafferty. He's joining us for "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.
CAFFERTY: You need rollerblades to get you around the room.
BLITZER: The choreography.
CAFFERTY: That's right. It's nice.
The question this hour is, how can Hillary Clinton stop Barack Obama's momentum. Jim writes from College Station, Texas -- he was talking about Texas -- "Let me start by saying I'm a Hillary supporter. What strikes me when I see video footage of the crowd standing behind Hillary and even to a greater extent behind the Republican candidate, they're mostly old, white, stuff-shirted, establishment supporters. And what I see standing behind Obama, young, old, black, white, Hispanic, common folks enthusiastically showing their support for him. I get the feeling I'm looking at the past vs. the future. And the future's what it's all about."
Trish writes: "Hillary is feeding Obama's momentum. She's lost eight contests in a tow since last weekend, not mentioned a single one on the campaign stump. By ignoring these contests, she has also not stopped to publicly thank any of her supporters in those states. This kind of snub is not the way to secure a loyal base. She comes off as less gracious by the day."
Paul writes in Syracuse, New York: "It's very apparent each state is different. With that said, drawing conclusions on what women or blacks did in one state will have no effect on what they do in Ohio or Texas. I think by now in history we should know never count out a Clinton."
Jeffrey writes: "I agree she can't stop him. This is a movement in this country, not an election. The people are tired of being treated badly and not being heard. Hillary should do what's best for the country and support Obama, because that is what Americans want."
And Carlotta in Granger, Indiana: "How can she? Two terms of Bush have left the American people feeling so beaten down that they are desperately clinging to this Obama guy that doesn't bother them with specifics, instead, pumps them up with pep talks, like a college coach. If what Americans really want is a coach, I hear Bobby Knight is free. That would scare the hell out of al Qaeda."
CAFFERTY: It probably would, too.
BLITZER: This notion of him being a movement, you go to those rallies, you see what's happening.
CAFFERTY: It is stunning. It's -- it's amazing. I mean, it -- you're -- it's like you're -- you're watching something that just mesmerizes the crowd. One of our competitors, Chris Matthews, last on NBC said he got a chill down his leg listening to Barack Obama. I'm not -- he may need some treatment, but I...
CAFFERTY: That was the quote.
BLITZER: All right, thanks very much, Jack.
CAFFERTY: You're welcome.
BLITZER: And, to our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
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