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Clinton's Moment of Truth; Philly Police Beating Caught on Tape; George McGovern Explains new Support for Obama

Aired May 7, 2008 - 17:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Wolf Blitzer at the CNN Election Center.

Hillary Clinton woke up to a harsher reality today. Her prospects for the nomination are eroding after unimpressive showings in North Carolina and a less than impressive showing in Indiana, even though she barely won. Despite a bad loss and very narrow win, Clinton is still determined to make it back to the White House. She is not giving up.

Let's go live to CNN's Suzanne Malveaux. She's watching this story for us.

She is clearly pressing on, Suzanne. She seems like a woman determined to continue.


And today she's meeting with the superdelegates in Washington to make her case why she believes she could continue in the race, why she believes she's the stronger candidate in the general election, despite -- despite this uphill climb.


MALVEAUX (voice-over): It's the moment of truth. For Hillary Clinton, this is hers.

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I need your help in this campaign. Next Tuesday will be one of the most important elections in this entire process.

MALVEAUX: For Barack Obama, this is his.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We stand less than 200 delegates away from securing the Democratic nomination for president of the United States.

MALVEAUX: After Clinton's trouncing in North Carolina and razor thin victory in Indiana, the senator put on her best face.

CLINTON: It's a new day. It's a new state. It's a new election.

MALVEAUX: But the day after was rough.

CLINTON: First things first -- turn this economy around, end the war in Iraq.

MALVEAUX: While Clinton was campaigning in West Virginia, the site of the next primary, pitching her populist themes, her long time friend, former Senator George McGovern, was publicly calling on her to drop out of the race, endorsing Obama. McGovern phoned her husband, Bill Clinton, to deliver the news, saying it was time for the party to come together.

CLINTON: Well, I respect him. And, you know, he has a right to make whatever decision he makes. I'm staying in this race until there's a nominee.

MALVEAUX: But staying in the race has been expensive. Today she acknowledged she lent her campaign another $6.4 million over the last four weeks to stay competitive. She rejected the notion it was out of desperation.

CLINTON: Well, it's a sign of my commitment to this campaign.

MALVEAUX: But Tuesday's results show voters are split over their commitment to her. More than 90 percent of African-American voters are now consistently backing Obama -- a trend Clinton expressed confidence she could reverse.

CLINTON: Come the fall election, I think that African-American voters, which are a very important part of the base of the Democratic Party, will support the nominee.

MALVEAUX: But she portrayed the voters she's captured as being tougher to get.

CLINTON: What we have not been able to count on in the last elections are the voters I'm getting -- you know, women, particularly lower income women. Hispanics didn't come out for Senator Kerry. And working people are really a part of the base that we lost that we're trying to win back.


MALVEAUX: And today Barack Obama is taking a quick break from the campaign trail. He's here in Chicago, his hometown, where we are. But his senior aides held a conference call with supporters earlier to try to map out a strategy how to bring this race to a close. And they said they would not -- they did not think it was appropriate to call for Senator Clinton to drop out of the race. That certainly was her own decision.

What they are doing is pushing the superdelegates to make a stand, to announce which candidate they're going for. Already, Wolf, it seems to be working. At least three superdelegates today off the fence, saying they're now supporting Barack Obama -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Suzanne Malveaux. Thanks very much.

Hillary Clinton once could count on superdelegates to give her an edge at the convention. At the start of the year, Clinton had 100 more party bigwigs in her corner than Barack Obama had.

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 slipped to 39. And last month, she won in Pennsylvania, only to see the superdelegate difference actually drop to 23. And now, after last night's split decision, Clinton holds a lead of only 10 superdelegates.

CNN's Brian Todd is joining us now to take a closer look at what's going on.

Brian, the undecided superdelegates, I think it's fair to say they are feeling the heat right now.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They are Wolf. Feeling the heat not only to make a decision soon, but to make one that will help the party and not hurt them politically. They have to think about all that while trying to fend off more pressure from the trail.


TODD (voice-over): The campaigns make no secret of it. With neither candidate likely to win enough pledged delegates to capture the Democratic nomination, they're pushing harder toward one elite group.

HOWARD WOLFSON, CLINTON CAMPAIGN SPOKESMAN: We'll be making the case today to superdelegates.

TODD: Superdelegates -- members of the Congress, other office holders and party leaders who can vote however they like, not bound by their state's primary results, and can switch allegiances at any time. Right now, there are nearly 300 Democratic superdelegates who haven't committed to either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama. They're under a lot of pressure not only to pick one soon, but to avoid the political consequences of choosing the wrong one.

Some are getting besieged -- repeated calls from the candidates and their surrogates, e-mails, like this one from Obama's campaign, imploring them to go with the candidate who has won the most pledged delegates. One undecided superdelegate called this process exhausting and likened it to choosing between your brother or sister.

How will they choose?

SUSAN PAGE, "USA TODAY": Superdelegates think not just about how the vote went in their state, but who is most electable, who do they think can lead the party to victory in November.

TODD: And some are struggling to answer that. CNN asked one undecided superdelegate how he determined who's most electable.

DAVID PARKER, UNDECIDED SUPERDELEGATE: I'm looking to see who's the most persuasive on the economy. The numbers are still not convincing as far as one candidate pitching their issues on the economy better than the other. And I think that's what's going to make the difference in the fall.


TODD: The undecided superdelegates still have some time and some key deadlines ahead to make their decisions. They could wait until May 31, when the Democratic Rules Committee decides whether to count Florida and Michigan delegates. They could wait until the primaries end on June 3 or they could wait until the convention in late August. But, as you know, Wolf, there's growing pressure to end this nomination fight before then.

And we have one update. As we speak, Hillary Clinton is at Democratic National Headquarters meeting with superdelegates. So the pressure continues.

BLITZER: It certainly does.

And, Brian, you've spoken to some of those superdelegates across the country today.

How are they handling the pressure from the campaigns?

TODD: It's interesting. They're handling it in different ways. And those superdelegates who are undecided who are members of Congress tell us they're kind of used to this. As members of Congress, they're used to the lobbying process. They're used to getting the squeeze. Others outside Congress say that they've made it clear to the campaigns, do not call me, do not harass me, I'm not going to make a decision until this certain time. So they're biding time as long as they can -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right.

Thanks very much, Brian, for that.

Lots of questions about the road ahead for Senator Barack Obama. I'll ask some of those questions to him tomorrow when he joins me in THE SITUATION ROOM. We'll have that interview tomorrow. It will be the senator's first national interview since the North Carolina and Indiana primaries. Senator Obama joins me tomorrow in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Jack Cafferty is here with "The Cafferty File."

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: You know, I listened to his speech last night. There were some elements in that speech last night that hadn't been there in a lot of the speeches he had given in the campaign up to that point. A very patriotic, a very personal speech -- this is who I am, this is why I love the country, this is where I come from. Kind of a tactical change in the compass setting.

BLITZER: It's interesting when he speaks about his grandfather...


BLITZER: ...came back from the war, the G.I. Bill and all that, all that kind of -- a lot of people can relate to that kind of stuff.

CAFFERTY: It's McCainesque almost...


CAFFERTY: ...talking about, you know, the war and things like that. It was an interesting speech, I thought.

Nearly all of the focus yesterday, of course, on the Democrats -- and rightly so. But here's a little interesting nugget about the Republicans.

Despite the fact that John McCain has been the party's presumptive nominee for three months, about one fourth of Republicans in both North Carolina and Indiana voted against McCain yesterday. In North Carolina, he got just 74 percent of the vote. Mike Huckabee, who's not in the race, got 12 percent. Ron Paul, who still is, but nobody cares, got 7 percent. And 4 percent said they had no preference.

In Indiana, about the same. Seventy-seven percent voted for McCain. Huckabee got 10 percent, Ron Paul 8 percent, Mitt Romney got 5 percent.

McCain faced similar results in the Pennsylvania primary a couple of weeks ago.

Quite a few Republicans also crossed over to vote in the Democratic primary, with one in 10 Indiana voters in the Democratic primary identifying themselves as Republicans.

McCain's campaign says it's pleased with the way the Republican Party has united around his candidacy. They also point to polls that show McCain doing as well, if not better, with Republicans as President Bush did with similar points in his first campaign in 2000. The difference is that in 2000, President Bush wasn't running against the record of President Bush.

So here's the question: What does it say when about a fourth of Republicans voted against John McCain yesterday?

Go to You can post a comment on my blog.

I was a little surprised, I must (INAUDIBLE)...

BLITZER: Yes. We saw something similar in Pennsylvania a couple weeks earlier.


BLITZER: I don't have an easy explanation for that.

CAFFERTY: Republicans with no life, nothing to do so they -- I mean he's already the nominee. Why would you even bother to go vote in the primary?

BLITZER: And there were other Republicans who clearly went over and actually voted for the Democratic -- on the Democratic side.


BLITZER: So the Republicans -- I think what you're trying to say -- have their own problems.


BLITZER: Is that what you're trying to say?

CAFFERTY: I believe they might have.


BLITZER: OK. Jack, thanks very much.

It's the one relatively small county that actually held up an entire state in last night's vote counting. If you were watching our live coverage, you know what we're talking about. We're going to show you what was the confusion behind Lake County, Indiana.

Also, we're doing the delegate math -- is there any way for the numbers to add up for Hillary Clinton?

John King is standing by. He'll be joining us next.

Plus, stunning new numbers from a disaster zone -- the Myanmar cyclone now possibly among the deadliest storms ever.

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


BLITZER: It was very late, indeed, before anyone was able to project the winner in Indiana -- in the Indiana primary, with the exception of one news organization that went out a little bit early -- a few hours earlier. It could have been a disaster for them. But one county's backlog of absentee ballots may have had a lot to do with that.

CNN's Susan Roesgen looked into the delay -- Susan.

SUSAN ROESGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the election commissioners here inside the Lake County headquarters say they had been counting absentee ballots for hours and they say they just didn't know that everyone outside was waiting for them to finish.


ROESGEN (voice-over): With electronic voting machines, it can take less than 30 seconds to add up thousands of votes from a precinct.

So what was taking so long?

BLITZER: In Lake County, the polls there closed hours and hours ago.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: As Ricky Ricardo might say, Wolf, they have some explaining to do.

ROESGEN: It turns out that in Lake County, Indiana's second most populated county, elections officials first started counting a record 11,000 absentee ballots at 5:00 a.m. Tuesday morning -- a process done mostly by hand.

MICHELLE FAJMAN, ELECTIONS SUPERVISOR: They verify signatures from the application to the ballot. Then they separate those. Then they open up the ballot envelope. Then they look for two sets of initials on there to make sure it's been validated. Then they separate those out. They commingle them. Then they come over to a scanning team. We match them up to the report, make sure our numbers match.

If you have 25 ballots, you have 25 returns and so forth.

ROESGEN: Because they were counting those absentee ballots, officials didn't release any of the other results. Election supervisor Michelle Fajman says as soon as they realized they were holding up the outcome of the entire state's primary, they stopped counting the absentees and cranked out the much faster precinct returns. But by then, the damage to the county's reputation had been done.

GERRY STREUB, LAKE COUNTY COMMISSIONER: We had a chance to shine. And we had a flaw in it. And, unfortunately, it was -- it went all over the nation.


ROESGEN: In the end, the results here in Lake County were not released until 5:00 this morning. That's 10 hours after the polls closed and a full 24 hours after they first started counting. The officials here say that they will consider making some changes before the general election in November -- Wolf.

BLITZER: It might be a good idea.

Susan, thanks very much.

So what lies ahead for the Democrats out on the campaign trail?

The next primary takes place Tuesday in West Virginia. Twenty- eight delegates are up for grabs there. A week later, there are two more primaries. Fifty-two delegates at stake in Oregon, 51 in Kentucky. On June 1, there's the Puerto Rico primary, with 55 delegates. And two days later, on June 3, it's on to Montana and South Dakota, with a total of 31 delegates between them.

At this point, the delegate hunt boils down to a very tough math problem for Hillary Clinton. And joining us now, our chief national correspondent, John King.

The delegate math, it's fuzzy, maybe not so fuzzy.

What's going on?

KING: More daunting for Senator Clinton today than it was heading into Indiana and North Carolina yesterday, Wolf. They split the states in terms of victories, but a small net gain for Barack Obama when it comes to delegates. And that makes an already difficult math challenge for Senator Clinton even more so.

Look up here now. Senator Clinton at 1,686 delegates, Obama at 1,845. Those numbers will move a little bit as we allocate the final delegates from yesterday and some superdelegates jump in. But if you look at the finish line out here, Senator Clinton is still back here. Barack Obama is getting closer, Wolf.

And perhaps a better way to look at this is to switch to our graph, which tells the story in a much more visual way. You now have, for the first time in this campaign, more superdelegates at play still available than pledged delegates -- the pledged delegates being the ones you win on primary and caucus day.

Heading into the contests remaining, this is the challenge for Senator Clinton. She needs about 340 -- 339 delegates, her magic number, to get from the green to the finish line out here. Barack Obama needs only roughly 180. So a much smaller chunk of the remaining delegates would be the magic number for Barack Obama.

Now, what does that mean?

If they split the delegates roughly evenly, something like this -- that's a little more than half for Senator Clinton of the superdelegates, a little less for Obama -- being every generous to Senator Clinton there.

Well, guess what?

If she gets about half of these, even a little more than half of these, and you bring the rest of the pledged delegates down there, Barack Obama crosses the finish line even if Senator Clinton gets 55 percent or so, as I just gave her there. The challenge for Senator Clinton quite daunting heading in. Her only hope now, Wolf, is to do very well in the remaining primaries and then to somehow convince the superdelegates to change the equation and to come her way despite Barack Obama's lead in pledged delegates and, at the moment, his significant lead in the popular vote.

BLITZER: John, the other wish that the Clinton people have and they keep talking about, Michigan and Florida.

If you were to include them somehow, the magic number would go up from 2,025 to more than 2,200.

But is that realistic at all?

KING: We'll go back to the map to show the perspective. We have the zebra stripes on those two states for that very reason. They jumped ahead of the rules, therefore they don't count at the moment.

You're right, the Clintons want to move this line. They want to move it out here by a couple hundred delegates by bringing Michigan and Florida into play.

Is it possible?

Yes. The Rules Committee will meet. There's a possibility it could end up in court. It is possible. But at this moment, we have to assume the rules are the rules. And as the rules now stand, these states do not count. This is the final line. And the math as we know it today is decidedly tilted in Senator Obama's favor.

BLITZER: All right, John. Thanks very much.

And just ahead, the Reverend Al Sharpton arrested. We're going to tell you why, what's going on.

And calling it quits or not -- Hillary Clinton ignoring calls to drop out, at least for now. So how does a candidate know when to fold them?

Plus, details of a former Guantanamo detainee now linked to terror again. We're going to show you what he did. All that and more right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: Carol Costello is monitoring some other important stories incoming into THE SITUATION ROOM right now.

Carol, what's going on?

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, the top U.S. diplomat in Myanmar now says the death toll from last weekend's cyclone could top 100,000 people and she warns that delayed relief efforts will create more victims. International aid groups say red tape is keeping them from getting to work in Myanmar, the former Burma. The United Nations secretary-general is urging the country's military regime to let relief workers into the country.

The U.S. military now confirms that a suicide bomber who struck last month in Mosul, Iraq was a former Guantanamo detainee. Abdallah Salih al-Ajmi was a Kuwaiti national who spent more than three years at Guantanamo before being released in 2005. He was returned to Kuwait, where a court later cleared him of terrorism charges. At least six people died in that suicide attack.

Let's head out to New York City, where you are, Wolf. Take a look at the what's happening right now. These are pictures taken recently at the base of the Brooklyn Bridge. In the middle of all those police officers, Al Sharpton -- Reverend Al Sharpton arrested for organizing six protests throughout the city.

These protesters are urging a federal civil rights investigation into the death of Sean Bell. Sean Bell was the man gunned down by New York City police last year. A New York court last week cleared them of any wrongdoing and that made a lot of people mad in New York City. The protests were organized in six locations. Al Sharpton trying to close down bridges, for example, which is why he and all of those protesters were at the base of the Brooklyn Bridge.

We'll keep you posted. Back to you -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Thanks very much, Carol, for that.

It's been referred to by some Democrats as the Democratic dream team. That would be Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton together on the presidential ballot. A former Clinton staffer is pushing this idea online.

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

Abbi, exactly what is this Web site proposing?

ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Wolf, the initial idea was Clinton, Obama and in that order. But now the Web side Vote Both! is pushing a unity ticket with either of these Democrats at the top of it.

Founded by a former Hillary Clinton staffer, Adam Parkhomenko, separately from the Hillary Clinton campaign, though a press release this week did go out that linked to an official Hillary Clinton campaign e-mail address. That was a mistake, explains spokesperson Sam Aurora (ph), who sent the e-mail.

They've got some signups to the Web site and they've also got some strong reactions online. When Parkhomenko blogged about the idea on "The Huffington Post," these are the people that weighed in, reflecting exit polls that show large numbers of Clinton and Obama supporters wouldn't vote for the other candidate.

Still, Aurora cites a recent CBS/"New York Times" poll that found that more than half of each candidate's supporters say they would be open to the idea of having the other as a running mate. Now the Web site pushing people to write to superdelegates to see if they'll get on board -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Thanks, Abbi, for that.

We'll watch with you.

An old ally and a Democratic superdelegate calls on Hillary Clinton to quit the race. I'll ask former presidential nominee, George McGovern, why he's now backing Barack Obama.

Plus, you're going to find out what roll Rush Limbaugh may have played in Clinton's narrow Indiana victory.

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


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

Happening now, Dmitry Medvedev inaugurated as the new Russian president. He's the hand-picked successor of the former president, Vladimir Putin. And one of his first acts was to name Putin Prime Minister.

Also, talks called off between the United States and Iran over security in Iraq. The Iraqi foreign minister blames what he calls -- and I'm quoting now -- "an exchange of accusations."

Plus, President Bush letting loose on Congressional Democrats as he meets with their Republican counterparts. He vowed to veto a foreclosure rescue plan and demanded war funding -- and I'm quoting now -- "without any strings."

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

A sound defeat in North Carolina, a very narrow win in Indiana. It has many observers on supposedly a death watch for Hillary Clinton's campaign. But she gives absolutely no indication she'll be dropping out any time soon. She's vowing to fight all the way to the White House.

CNN's Carol Costello is joining us now with more on this story -- Carol, how does a candidate know, based on what you're hearing from really experienced pros out there, how does a candidate know when it's over?

COSTELLO: Well, I've heard from those experienced pros that's a complicated question. There are many reasons Hillary Clinton should think about quitting, but in the end, it's an intensely personal decision.


COSTELLO (voice-over): Hillary Clinton, a day after the Indiana and North Carolina primaries, was still using the words of a fighter.

CLINTON: Well, I'm staying in this race until there's a nominee.

COSTELLO: Her campaign sent supporters a letter expressing Clinton's personal determination to "keep fighting for what I believe in." From what Clinton says, even after disappointing results in the primaries, she doesn't feel now is the time to bow out.

But if not now, when?

MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: She's telling us now that she's in it through June 3, she wants to see a nominee. But, clearly, she doesn't have the pep in her voice today that she did yesterday. COSTELLO: Because, perhaps, there are definite signs that lead some to suggest Clinton should consider quitting the race.

One, the money is drying up. Clinton acknowledged she's loaned her campaign $11.4 million since February.

Two, some prominent supporters are publicly urging Clinton to quit. Former Senator George McGovern is the latest.

Three, many political pundits are now openly declares the race is over.

All of these factors will make it harder for her to convince the uncommitted superdelegates that she is the candidate to take on John McCain. But for Clinton to really consider these factors, she would have to face the death of her dream.

DAVID WINSTON, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: The first woman president, I mean, that is a huge deal. And so it's hard to give that up.

COSTELLO: Clinton is not the only politician to hold on until the very end. Ted Kennedy did it in 1980. He forced the Democratic contest all the way to the convention, refusing to concede to Jimmy Carter.

TED KENNEDY, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No more high inflation. And no more Jimmy Carter!

COSTELLO: And Richard Nixon did it in 1974. At the height of Watergate, he refused to quit until threatened with impeachment.

RICHARD NIXON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have never been a quitter. To leave office before my term is completed is abhorrent to every instinct in my body.


COSTELLO: But he did quit. Analysts told me for Clinton to quit, she must come to the realization her political life isn't over with this race. She could follow Kennedy's lead and become a powerhouse in the Senate or if she still has an itch, you know four years flies by very quickly, Wolf.

BLITZER: It certainly does.

All right, Carol. Thanks very much.

As Carol just reported, the former Democratic presidential nominee George McGovern is now among those actually calling on Senator Clinton to drop out. He's switching his endorsement from Clinton to Barack Obama.

George Mitchell is joining us live from Mitchell, South Dakota. Sorry, George McGovern, excuse me.

Senator McGovern, thanks very much for joining us. I got confused. Mitchell, South Dakota and George McGovern.

What happened? How come you decided to change your mind? Because you've been a loyal good friend to the Clintons for a long time. You supported Hillary Clinton but now you say it's time for her to go. And you're endorsing Barack Obama.

GEORGE MCGOVERN (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Well, let me say, first of all, that my affection and my admiration for Hillary Clinton, Senator Clinton, and President Clinton goes on. I've been friends of theirs since 1972. I hope for whatever years I have left we'll continue to be good friends.

And I want to emphasize, it is up to Senator Clinton to make the judgment if and when she should throw her support to Senator Obama. She's the candidate. I'm not trying to do anything to force her into a decision she's not wanting to make.

But I do think the mathematics are all with Senator Obama. He's got close to the majority of the pledged delegates. My understanding is the so-called superdelegates are about 50/50, the way they're seeing it. So she'll make her decision in due course, I'm sure.

I think Senator Obama would make a splendid nominee. I think he'd be a great president if he's elected. And that's what I want to see happen. I don't want to repeat on 1972 when the fight continued against me right down to the convention time and then out on to the convention floor. I think that played into Richard Nixon's hands.

BLITZER: And you got some personal experience knowing a bitterly divided convention what could happen. You had a conversation, I take it, with former President Clinton today. How did that go?

MCGOVERN: I talked with him at some length this morning before this announcement was public and we had a good visit. There wasn't one single angry or cross word between us. I think they appreciate that I backed Hillary before the Iowa caucuses and have stayed with her until last night when it seemed to me the results in North Carolina, which Senator Obama won handily, and almost a tie vote in Indiana, it seemed that now was the time for us to think seriously about unifying the party behind a single candidate.

I don't think Hillary Clinton is going to be destructive in any way if she stays in the race. But I'm hopeful that before we get to the convention, the nominee will be clear and that we'll go into that convention with a united party.

BLITZER: Her support --

MCGOVERN: This is a --

BLITZER: I was going to say, Senator, her supporters argue he may have the math in his favor right now to get the Democratic presidential nomination, but she would be a stronger potential candidate against John McCain in the fall and would do a better job, especially in those major electoral college states with the Democrats would certainly need to win the White House. What do you think about that argument she and her supporters make?

MCGOVERN: Well, it has some logic to it. But I think that -- that that probably would not carry her to the nomination. So the time is coming shortly. I hope that this decision will be made sooner rather than later that Barack Obama has been the one who has the delegates and has the strength, even has the votes, the popular vote, to make a great candidate in the fall. What we have to avoid is following a course that will deliver an election to John McCain that he otherwise couldn't get.

This is going to be a Democratic year. The American people don't want this war continued. They don't want our economy continuously strained by this war. They don't want to see these gas prices continue. And the way to do that is to elect Senator Obama in November.

BLITZER: Senator McGovern, I know this was not an easy decision for you.

Thanks very much for joining us.

MCGOVERN: Thanks for having me on.

BLITZER: You're going to be able to hear a lot more from Senator McGovern later tonight. He'll be a special guest on "LARRY KING LIVE." That program starts, as you know, at 9:00 p.m. Eastern.

Joining us now to talk a little bit more about Senator McGovern's switch to Obama and more, three guests; the former Democratic Party chairman David Wilhelm, he's an Obama supporter, Republican strategist, Rich Galen; and Clinton supporter Lisa Caputo, she's a former press secretary to the former first lady Hillary Clinton.

Thanks very much, guys, for coming in.

Lisa, this must be a pretty, pretty big disappointment to you to see someone, a former Democratic presidential nominee like George McGovern, make this switch.

LISA CAPUTO, FORMER CLINTON PRESS SECY.: Well, Wolf, I have to tell you I have enormous respect for Senator McGovern. I know that Senator Clinton does as well as you've pointed out in the last segment. Both Clintons worked for Senator McGovern in his bid for the presidency. I think this is a very personal decision for Senator McGovern and one obviously that disappoints Senator Clinton but she's going to respect his personal decision.

I think it's fair to say she believes she should continue because there are still more states in the game and she believes those people should have the chance to vote and the process should play itself out. And then we should see where we are. The other thing is we have uncommitted superdelegates which are still in the picture.

So it's the right thing to do for the process, to let the process play out and then see where we are on June 3.

BLITZER: All right.

David, let me let you weigh in because I sense you have a different perspective. But you've got to realize and I'm sure you do it's not over till it's over.

DAVID WILHELM, FORMER DNC CHAIRMAN: Well it's not over tell it's over but it's getting awfully close to being over. I think while Senator Clinton has a very personal decision to make, and I agree with that, nobody but her will choose the moment that she gets out, superdelegates were party leaders, former nominees of the party, have an obligation to put the interests of the party first, to think -- to think about that. And I think that's not a very personal decision.

It's the role of states people. And therefore I think Senator McGovern has done the right thing and in some ways the obvious thing.

To the extent that a week goes by, a day goes by a month goes by that we do not have a nominee that is focusing his or her energy on Senator McCain, that is a wasted week. That is a wasted day. And so it is time for the party to pull together. It is time for the party to unify and superdelegates over the next couple of weeks I think are going to in a wave come to that conclusion and Senator McGovern is one of the first to do so.

BLITZER: What do you think, Rich, as an outsider? You're a Republican looking in on this Democrat turmoil going on right now. Is it over for her effectively speaking?

RICH GALEN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, if all things maintain it is over, obviously. But that's not the issue here I think.

She's right. He does not have a majority of the delegates. And there are, what, about three-and-a-half weeks to go before the end of the primary season on June 3. And then ten more weeks until -- until the convention.

One of the things that the Clinton campaign knows is that the Obama campaign and Senator Obama particularly doesn't take a punch very well. And they don't know if there's something else that may happen between now and all the way to the end of the August that may give those superdelegates as Senator McGovern just did, change their minds back and forth.

BLITZER: Hold on a second. Are you talking, Rich, about some sort of surprise that could dramatically hurt Senator Obama? Is that what you're suggesting?

GALEN: Well, I'm not suggesting it's possible. That it's probable. I'm suggesting that it may be an unforced error. You don't know. There may be something in his background. There could be another Jeremiah Wright type of operation going on. So I give her a lot of credit for hanging in there.

BLITZER: Let me let Lisa respond to that first. Is that a strategy that Hillary Clinton has right now, do you just sort of wait it out to see if another shoe drops, for example, against Barack Obama.

CAPUTO: Well, as we've all said, Wolf, it ain't over till it's over and it's not over till it's over and a lot can happen between now and June 3. I think the other issue at play certainly is the Florida/Michigan question and the seating of those delegations at the convention. That'll be decided on May 31 when the Rules Committee of the Democratic National Committee meets.

So we need to see where we are, you know, after June 3. Let the process play out. Let's see who's ahead in the popular vote.

And remember one thing, Wolf, which I think is important coming out of last night. She is winning the battleground states. She's also winning the blue-collar workers as you pointed out earlier. And the Democrat has to win those states and that part of the population to win the general.

BLITZER: All right -- David.

WILHELM: Well, you will notice that Republicans, whether it's Rush Limbaugh or Rich Galen, they want this process to go on till the convention and beyond, of course they do. They don't want this campaign to be engaged over Iraq and the economy. Let the Democratic intramurals continue. That's their attitude. That's precisely why we need to change this.

The other point I want to make, the notion that Barack Obama can't take a punch was dispelled forever last night. He's taken punch after punch after punch. He won a solid victory in North Carolina. He did extremely well in Indiana. He's going top our nominee. He's got the momentum. And I think this thing will play out naturally and in a positive way and we will bring this party together behind Barack Obama and we will engage the issues that I think Republicans have -- have not been forced to engage for all too long.

BLITZER: David Wilhelm, Rich Galen, Lisa Caputo, guys, thanks very much for coming in.

Is Rush Limbaugh having the last laugh? The conservative radio talk show host claims he got some fellow Republicans to create chaos in the Democratic Party. We're going to see if it all adds up.

And what is Hillary Clinton really thinking? What will her next move be? I'll ask a top member of her campaign, Howard Wolfson. He'll be here in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: Did a conservative radio talk show host divide and conquer strategy have an impact on Indiana's Democratic primaries?

CNN's Mary Snow is here. She's been looking into this story.

And the question is Mary did Rush Limbaugh have the last laugh?

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, it depends on who you talk to because some Republicans say Limbaugh made a noticeable difference. But exit polls indicate something different, that the Limbaugh effect helped Senator Clinton but the impact was limited.


SNOW: Hillary Clinton isn't the only one claiming victory in Indiana. So is Rush Limbaugh. He declared on his conservative radio talk show that his so-called Operation Chaos was a success by urging Republicans to vote for Clinton in the Democratic primary to keep her in the race.

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO SHOW HOST: We have done our part to expose Obama through our support of Operation Chaos effectively using the Clinton campaign as our foil and Obama and the Democrat party are the weaker for it.

SNOW: Did Limbaugh have an impact? Take a look at CNN's exit polls. Ten percent of the voters in the Indiana Democratic primary identified themselves as registered Republican. Among those voters, Clinton beat Barack Obama 54 to 46. The Obama campaign was quick to say the Limbaugh effect gave Clinton the edge.

CNN's senior political analyst, Bill Schneider says, not quite.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: There is a slightly measurable lush Limbaugh effect but it is not the reason why she won Indiana. She dominated the Democratic vote and two-thirds of the voters were Democrats.

SNOW: There's anecdotal evidence some Republicans did take Limbaugh's cue. Taker this call to an Indiana radio talk show last month.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the primary, I'm going to vote for Clinton. I want to keep the Democratic Party fighting interesting but in the general election I'm going to vote for McCain.

SNOW: It's impossible to say exactly how many Republicans followed Limbaugh's lead and voted in the Democratic primary. As one Republican strategist says, the GOP is all too happy just to talk about it.

GALEN: As this thing grinds down to the last three-and-a-half weeks, I think keeping this conversation going and watching the acrimony that's growing between the two sides may well have some significant impact as we move down toward the fall campaign.


SNOW: And as for Limbaugh today came the switch. He told listeners he now believes Obama would be the weakest nominee and hopes Democratic superdelegates will back it. But he did urge Clinton to stay in the race telling her you've come too far to quit -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Thanks very much, Mary.

Mary Snow, reporting.

A suspect, a group of police officers and a brutal beating. It happened last night. It's all on tape. You're going to see it and hear how it happened. That's coming up.

Also, we're only hours away from a major decision in Congress, a vote on an economic plan. Will it be enough to fix the housing mess?

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


BLITZER: Echoes of the Rodney King case, this time now in Philadelphia where a shocking video tape has prompted an investigation by police of the police.

Let's go to CNN's Jason Carroll. He's watching this story for us.

Jason, what are police officials there saying?

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, both the police commissioner and the mayor tell me that they are embarrassed by what they saw on that videotape.


CARROLL: The video captured by a Philadelphia news helicopter stunned the city and shamed its police department. It shows what happened late Monday night after police stopped three men suspected in a shooting. At least a dozen officers repeatedly kicked and beat the men after pulling them from their car.

MAYOR MICHAEL NUTTER, PHILADELPHIA: It is not acceptable, of course, to do anything less than the professional standards that we expect of our Philadelphia police officers. And they know that.

COMMISSIONER CHARLES RAMSEY, PHILADELPHIA POLICE DEPT.: We certainly are concerned about what we saw on the tape. The matter is being taken very seriously. Even though emotions run very high in our department right now.

CARROLL: The beating lasts for more than a minute. City officials say the officers had been under stress ever since this weekend when one of their own, Sergeant Steven Liczbinski, was shot and killed responding to a bank robbery. The suspect in that shooting is still at large. The mother of one of the men, Lionel Dyches, who was beaten Monday night by officers says stress should not be an excuse.

LEOMIA DYCHES, LIONELL DYCHES' MOTHER: There was no reason for beating them in that manner. The law is the law. A person is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

CARROLL: The three men beaten by police are in custody. Facing charges ranging from attempted murder to aggravated assault in connection with the shooting. The attorney representing the three men say it's the officers who should be facing criminal charges.

SCOTT PERRINE, LIONELL DYCHES' ATTORNEY: They should be dismissed from the police force and they should be charged as criminals. Because that was criminal behavior. That was not police work.


CARROLL: And an internal investigation is under way. The district attorney expected to look at this case as well. Six officers at this point have been put on administrative leave. Once that videotape is enhanced, police say they expect even more officers to be placed on leave once they too are identified -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Thank very much, Jason, for that.

Jason Carroll reporting.

On our Political Ticker today, the House of Representatives begins debate on a housing aid plan and President Bush warns he'll veto it. The Democrats' measure would have the government back loans for homeowners at risk of foreclosure. The president says it would only reward speculators and lenders. A vote on that measure could come tonight.

Remember, for the latest political news any time check out While you're there check out my blog post where you can send in some questions if you want for my interview tomorrow in THE SITUATION ROOM with Barack Obama. That interview tomorrow in THE SITUATION ROOM. Tell me what you think I should ask him. Already almost a thousand comments have been posted at

Ominous words from one of Hillary Clinton's biggest supporters. What senior Senator Dianne Feinstein says she wants to hear from the Democratic presidential candidate and what it might mean for the race.

Plus, Jack Cafferty is asking what it means when a quarter of the Republicans voted against -- against John McCain yesterday. Your e- mail answers, "The Cafferty File," a lot more coming up right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: Let's check back with Jack for "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

CAFFERTY: The question this hour is about the Republican primaries in North Carolina and Indiana -- What does it say when about one fourth of Republicans vote against John McCain in the two states yesterday?

Sandy in Ohio writes: "It says one of three things; one, a fourth of the Republicans are not happy with their party's presumptive nominee; two, one fourth of the Republicans are senile and don't know McCain is the presumptive nominee; three, one fourth of the Republicans are just fed up looking for a glimmer of hope. You figure it out, Jack."

Chuck in North Carolina writes: "It tells me the GOP is just as divided as the Democrats. Maybe it's time for a real third party."

Sabrina, Spokane, Washington: "I live in the eastern, conservative part of Washington state. Many Republicans voted here for Ron Paul. All my Republican friends, however, voted for Barack. I'm a Democrat voting for Barack. I'm convincing my conservative husband to do the my conservative husband to do the same. I think it will work."

Kathy in Florida: "It means absolutely nothing. He has the Republican nomination. Let's wait until November. Let's see what happens when Republicans vote for their own party."

John in North Carolina: "It's called a protest vote. They know it's not going to make a difference, so they vote for the candidate they wish had won. I know my brother voted for Ron Paul yesterday. Since I'm an independent, I could choose to vote Republican or Democrat. I chose the contest still in the headlines."

Kerry writes: "I'm a young Republican looking for change in the last eight years. McCain is too old. I will cross party lines and vote for Barack Obama. My peer group is going to do the same thing."

And Dan in Virginia writes: "I'm more interested in what it means for Ron Paul, that a guy who's already dropped out of the race is still getting more votes than he is. Huckabee got about 10 percent or 12 percent of the votes in both states."

If you didn't see your e-mail here, go to my blog at and look for your e-mail there. If you don't find it, call my office. I'll stop by your house and read it to you on my way home.

BLITZER: Thank you, Jack.