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THE SITUATION ROOM

Barack Obama Discusess His Political Future; Clinton Keeps on Fighting

Aired May 8, 2008 - 18:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And, to our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now, Barack Obama in THE SITUATION ROOM. He's looking more like he will be the Democratic presidential nominee after the latest primaries. This hour, we will have some tough questions for him in this, his first interview since the contests in North Carolina and Indiana.

Will Obama consider Hillary Clinton as his running mate if he clinches the nomination? His answer only moments away, along with the latest on whether Clinton is forming or considering some sort of exit strategy.

And is Obama ready for a barrage of criticism from John McCain and his supporters? And is Mitt Romney getting on his nerves? The best political team on television is listening closely to all of this.

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

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. My interview with Barack Obama only a moment or so away.

But, first, Hillary Clinton is saying it over and over again. Don't count her out of this presidential race. But that's not quieting all the buzz that's out there about how and when she might actually drop out.

Let's go to CNN senior political correspondent Candy Crowley. She's watching this story for us.

What are you hearing about Senator Clinton's moves?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, what I'm hearing from inside the Clinton campaign is certainly different from what's going on outside. It seems to me the exit strategies are all being planned by people outside the Clinton campaign.

Inside, they say she's taking this primary by primary. As for Barack Obama, well, let's just say this is the tale of two very different campaigns.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CROWLEY (voice-over): Colleagues, tourists, pages looking for a picture and press scrums. QUESTION: How much longer will the race go on, Senator?

CROWLEY: Barack Obama was on Capitol Hill this morning with the aura, though not the votes, of a presidential nominee.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: That's why I'm running for president.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you win, too. You win it.

CROWLEY: So, is she putting together an exit strategy? A Clinton insider replies, N-O, exclamation point.

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is a little bit like deja vu all over again. Some in Washington wanted us to end our campaign, and then I won New Hampshire.

CROWLEY: The two-day itinerary backs her up, West Virginia to South Dakota to Oregon to Kentucky. She needs a 9.0 on the Richter scale to shake this up. But one Clinton adviser says she's not campaigning in some kind of parallel universe. She doesn't think this is over.

CLINTON: I'm winning Catholic voters and Hispanic voters and blue-collar workers and seniors, the kind of people that Senator McCain will be fighting for in the general election.

CROWLEY: Another source close to Clintons adds, there is more to this than math. She has a loyalty to the history she and her supporters are writing.

CLINTON: Too many people have fought too hard to see a woman continue in this race, this history-making race. And I want everybody to understand that.

CROWLEY: And it is her supporters, including millions of women, that give caution to many Democrats and the Obama campaign. They need those votes in the fall. They cannot be seen trying to muscle her out.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CROWLEY: A number of people around the Clinton campaign say they fully expect her to go to June 3. Certainly, her itinerary would tell us that, Wolf. She has been in South Dakota just today, saying, you are the final word on who gets to be the president -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, thanks very much, Candy Crowley.

Let's get to Barack Obama's first interview since the Indiana/North Carolina primaries. He hasn't clinched the Democratic presidential nomination, at least not yet. But look at this. The cover of the new issue of "Time" magazine just out today is effectively declaring him the winner over Hillary Clinton.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) BLITZER: Senator, welcome.

OBAMA: Good to see you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Here is the cover, "And the Winner Is..." That's a picture of you. What do you think?

OBAMA: Well, you know, I think -- I don't want to be jinxed. We've still got some work to do.

BLITZER: It's almost like you got the cover of "Sports Illustrated." Is that what you're -- you're nervous about that?

OBAMA: Exactly. Exactly right.

We've got six more contests left. And then we've got a lot of work to do to bring the party together, but, obviously, we felt very good about our win in North Carolina on Tuesday. I think we ran a terrific campaign in Indiana. And it was a virtual tie. And, if you look at where the race is at this point, I think we have seen voters across the country say they are ready for change. They are feeling real anxiety about the economy.

And they have come to recognize that, unless we change how Washington is done. It's going to be very hard to deliver on a smarter energy policy. It's going to be hard to -- to provide health care for people who need it or make college more affordable.

And I think our campaign has benefited from it. And, so, I'm looking forward to bringing this party together and going after John McCain in the fall, and -- and, hopefully, getting this country on the right track.

BLITZER: It's been intense in the primaries. But you realize it's going to be much more intense in the next chapter, in the next phase, given the differences between you and John McCain. Are you ready for this next phase?

OBAMA: I'm actually looking forward to it, if we're successful. I don't want to get ahead of myself here. Senator Clinton is a very formidable candidate. She is very heavily favored to win West Virginia. She will win that by a big margin.

She's favored in Kentucky. We'll probably split the remaining contests. And, so, she's -- she's going to be actively campaigning.

If I'm fortunate enough to be the nominee, then I am looking forward to the general election precisely because there is such a big, stark contrast...

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: There are major differences between you and John McCain...

OBAMA: Exactly. BLITZER: ... on a whole host of domestic issues...

OBAMA: Exactly.

BLITZER: .. and foreign policy issues. And I want to go through those right now.

OBAMA: Sure.

BLITZER: Already, some of his surrogates, some of his supporters, are suggesting you're not ready to be commander in chief, president of the United States.

Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, said this. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER MASSACHUSETTS GOVERNOR: He has not accomplished anything during his life, in terms of legislation, or leading an enterprise, or making a business work or a city work or a state work. He really has very little experience. And the presidency of the United States is not an internship.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Wow. That's a strong statement.

OBAMA: Yes.

Well, the contest didn't work out so well for Mitt Romney. I think he was making those same arguments against John McCain, suggesting that John McCain, as a senator, hadn't done what Mitt Romney had done. And, yet, here we are, and there Mitt Romney is.

Look, when it comes to national security, I think that what people are looking for is good judgment. They're looking for somebody who is going to be able to assess the very real risks that are out there and deploy our forces, not just military, but diplomatic, political, economic, cultural, in a way that makes the American people safe.

And whether it's my judgment on Iraq and recognizing that that was going to be a strategic blunder, to my insistence that we need to talk not just to countries we like, but countries we don't, to my assessment in terms of how we had over-invested in the Musharraf government in Pakistan, and that was going to be setting us up for failure later on, I think I have consistently displayed the kind of judgment that the American people are looking for in the next president.

BLITZER: I want -- I want to get to all of those national security, foreign policy issues in a moment. But let's talk about some domestic issues.

You know they're going to paint you, the McCain camp, Republicans, as a classic tax-and-spend liberal Democrat, that you're going to raise the taxes for the American people and just spend money like there is no tomorrow when it comes to federal government programs.

Are you ready to handle that kind of assault?

OBAMA: Absolutely.

But -- because think about what I am going to be running against: the failed policies of the Bush administration, which John McCain wants to continue. I don't think there is anybody in this country who thinks that, right now, we have got a government that's managed our domestic policies well.

And, so, we can talk about the slogans of tax and spend or fiscal conservatism, but the fact of the matter is, this -- we have had an administration that's been profligate, that has raised our national debt to a record level. We have seen a lack of shared prosperity. So, you've got CEOs making more in a day than ordinary workers are making in a year, and it's the CEO that's getting the tax break, instead of the workers.

BLITZER: He's going to say you're going to raise their taxes. What are you going to say?

OBAMA: I will raise CEO taxes. There is no doubt about it. If you are...

BLITZER: What about the average American...

(CROSSTALK)

OBAMA: If you are a CEO in this country, you will probably pay more taxes. They won't be prohibitively high. They're -- you're going to be paying roughly what you paid in the '90s, when CEOs were doing just fine.

BLITZER: So, you want to just eliminate the Bush tax cuts?

OBAMA: I want to eliminate the Bush tax cuts.

And what I have said is, I will institute a middle-class tax cut. So, if you're making $75,000, if you're making $50,000 a year, you will see an extra $1,000 a year offsetting on your payroll tax.

BLITZER: Define middle class.

OBAMA: Well, look, I think that the definitions are always a little bit rough, but let's -- let's just take it this way.

If you're making $100,000 a year or less, then you're pretty solidly middle class, and you deserve relief right now, as opposed to paying higher taxes. On the other hand, if you're making more than $100,000, and certainly if you're making more than $200,000 to $250,000, then you're doing pretty well. And it's the people who are making over $200,000, $250,000, who have benefited the most and have actually seen -- have actually seen more and more of economic growth in this country go in your direction.

And all -- all we're looking for here is a sense of balance, because it's my belief that this country has always grown when it grows from the bottom up, when the average worker who is putting in his time and trying to live out the American dream, when a nurse or a teacher, she's able to support her family, then they spend money, businesses do well, and we generate tax revenues that can pay for the common investments that we need.

And that's what's been lacking, a sense of shared sacrifice, as well as shared benefits from the economy.

BLITZER: Because they're arguing already that you want to increase capital gains taxes, for example, on investments, and stocks, and things like that.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: A lot of middle-class people have those kinds of accounts. If they're...

OBAMA: If they have, -- Wolf, if they have a 401(k), then they are going to see those taxes deferred, and they're going to pay ordinary income when they finally cash out.

So, that's a phony argument. And this is something that you have seen the Republicans consistently do, is they try to make this broad- based argument about, he's going to raise your taxes as a cover for them eliminating taxes for people like myself and you, who can afford to pay a little bit more in order to assure that we have got roads and bridges that are rebuilt, in order to assure that Social Security is solvent, in order to make sure that kids who are struggling for their American dream can actually go to college, in order to make sure that people aren't going bankrupt just because somebody in their family gets sick.

You know, what -- as I travel around the country, what I'm actually convinced of is that people recognize that if only 1 percent of the population is doing well, when we have got wages and incomes for the average worker actually going down during a period of economic expansion, much less economic recession, that something's being mismanaged. And they want a difference -- a different approach. And that's what we're going to be offering them.

And John McCain is essentially offering four more years of the same policies that got us into this rut that we're in right now.

BLITZER: You used to teach constitutional law.

OBAMA: Yes.

BLITZER: You know a lot about the Supreme Court. And the next president of the United States will have an opportunity to nominate justices for the Supreme Court.

He gave a speech, McCain, this week saying he wants justices like Samuel Alito and John Roberts. And he defined the kind of criteria he wants.

So, what would be your criteria?

OBAMA: Well, I think that my first criteria is to make sure that these are people who are capable and competent, and that they are interpreting the law. And, 95 percent of the time, the law is so clear, that it's just a matter of applying the law. I'm not somebody who believes in a bunch of judicial lawmaking. I think...

BLITZER: Are there members, justices right now upon who you would model, you would look at? Who do you like?

OBAMA: Well, you know, I think actually Justice Breyer, Justice Ginsburg are very sensible judges.

I think that Justice Souter, who was a Republican appointee, is a sensible judge. What you're looking for is somebody who is going to apply the law where it's clear. Now, there's going to be those 5 percent of cases or 1 percent of cases where the law isn't clear. And the judge then has to bring in his or her own perspectives, his ethics, his or her moral bearings.

And, in those circumstances, what I do want is a judge who's sympathetic enough to those who are on the outside, those who are vulnerable, those who are powerless, those who can't have access to political power, and, as a consequence, can't protect themselves from being -- from being dealt with sometimes unfairly, that the courts become a refuge for judges.

That's been its historic role. That was its role in Brown vs. Board of Education. I think a judge who is unsympathetic to the fact that, in some cases, we have got to make sure that civil rights are protected, that we have got to make sure that civil liberties are protected, because, oftentimes, there's pressures that are placed on politicians to want to set civil liberties aside, especially at a time when we have had terrorist attacks, making sure that we maintain our separation of powers, so that we don't have a president who is taking over more and more power.

I think those are all criteria by which I would judge whether or not this is a good appointee.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Much more of the interview coming up with Barack Obama. We have only just begun.

At one point, he actually gets angry about something John McCain said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: This is offensive.

And I think it's disappointing, because John McCain always says, well, I'm not going to run that kind of politics. And then to engage in that kind of smear...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: So, what did McCain do or say to spark that kind of reaction? More of my one-on-one interview with Barack Obama -- coming up next. Also, would Obama ever consider teaming up with Hillary Clinton? You're going to want to hear his answer, our-on-one interview, much more of that coming up.

And Jack Cafferty will be joining us, as part of the best political team on television. We will assess what we just heard.

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Let's get back to Senator Obama here in THE SITUATION ROOM in his first interview since Tuesday's pivotal round of primaries.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Let's go through a couple foreign policy issues. McCain says, if you had your way, the U.S. would surrender in Iraq; he wants victory.

OBAMA: If I had my way, we would not have gone into Iraq in the first place.

BLITZER: But what about now?

OBAMA: I think it was a huge strategic blunder.

And I think the American people are smart enough to understand that a phased withdrawal, where we're as careful getting out as we were careless getting in, that puts pressure on the Iraqis to stand up and take seriously their obligations to arrive at a political accommodation at the same time as we are doubling down on diplomacy in the surrounding region, and not just Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Jordan, but also in Syria and Iraq, then we are also investing in humanitarian aid for the people who have been displaced in Iraq, that that's not surrendering.

That's a sensible policy that will allow us then to deal with our biggest strategic problem, which is al Qaeda in Afghanistan and the border regions of Pakistan reconstituting themselves. And that's something that we have been distracted from and something that I intend to focus on when I'm president of the United States.

BLITZER: This is going to be a huge difference, the war in Iraq, the fallout, between you and McCain.

OBAMA: Right.

BLITZER: He also is going after you now, today, the 60th anniversary of Israel's independence. He says you're not necessarily endorsing policies that would be good for Israel.

He says this, for example: "I think it's very clear who Hamas wants to be the next president of the United States. I think that people should understand that I will be Hamas' worst nightmare. Senator Obama is favored by Hamas. I think people can make judgments accordingly."

OBAMA: Yes, this -- this is offensive.

And I think it's disappointing, because John McCain always says, well, I'm not going to run that kind of politics. And then to engage in that kind of smear, I think, is unfortunate, particularly since my policy towards Hamas has been no different than his.

I have said that they are a terrorist organization, that we should not negotiate with them unless they recognize Israel, renounce violence and unless they're willing to abide by previous accords between the Palestinians and the Israelis. And, so, for him to toss out comments like that, I think, is an example of him losing his bearings as he pursues this nomination.

We don't need name-calling in this debate. What we're going to need is to have a serious conversation about, how do we keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of the Iranian regime, how do we broker a peace deal between the Israelis and Palestinians that allows both sides to benefit, Israel assuring its security and its status as a Jewish state, the Palestinians able to have a contiguous, functioning state, where their people can prosper?

And, if we end up continuing to be locked up in these ideological arguments, playing politics of the sort that we have seen John McCain doing recently, then I think, frankly, we're going to miss an opportunity to really move this country in a better direction and to reset our foreign policy in a way that I think the world is anxious for.

The world wants to see the United States lead. They have been disappointed and disillusioned over the last seven, eight years. But I think there is still a sense everywhere I go that, you know, if the United States regains its -- its sense of who it is and our values and our ideals, that we will continue to set the tone for creating a more peaceful and more prosperous world.

BLITZER: I want to move on, but, on this 60th anniversary of Israel, what -- what does Israel mean to you?

OBAMA: Israel is not only our strongest ally in the region and one of our strongest allies in the world, but there is a special connection between America and Israel, one that, when I traveled to Israel, was evident.

Not only do we share so much in terms of common culture. Not only is it the site of so much of our -- of my religious faith and the site of so much of our understanding of the world around us, but what I love about Israel is, is that it is a robust democracy, and that they are committed to principles like rule of law and civil rights and civil liberties.

And so it is critical that we send a message around the world we will stand with Israel, we want them around not just for 60 years, but for 600 years. And when I am president of the United States they will have an unwavering ally in me.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: More of the interview coming up. You're also going to get a chance to ask Senator Obama some questions. One of you actually wanted to know what his legacy would mean.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is the one thing that a President Barack Obama wants to be remembered for achieving during his presidency or during his lifetime?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: All right. You're going to hear Senator Obama's response to that question from our I-Reporter. That's coming up. More of my one-on-one interview will be coming up after this.

Also, and the candidate does something we rarely see, by the way, in that interview. He got emotional during one part of the interview, when I asked him something specific about his mom.

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Obama emerging from the latest round of primaries looking even more likely to be the Democratic presidential nominee.

Let's get back to my interview with the senator today, his first since those critical contests in North Carolina and Indiana.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: We asked our viewers to send us in some questions, and we got thousands of responses, as you can only imagine. I have got a couple. I just want you to watch one of those and get your reaction. A lot of people asked this basic question.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It appears that you do not have enough support among blue collar workers as Senator Clinton did. Would you consider just on that basis alone considering her on a joint ticket as vice president?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Well, you know, as I said before, "Time" magazine notwithstanding, we haven't wrapped this thing up yet. At the point where I'm the nominee, I will start going through the process of figuring out what -- you know, what my running mate -- who my running mate might be.

Senator Clinton has shown herself to be an extraordinary candidate. She is tireless, she is smart, she is capable. And so obviously she'd on anybody's short list to be a potential vice presidential candidate.

But it would be presumptuous of me at this point, when she is still actively running, when she is highly favored to win the next -- two of the next three contests, for me to somehow suggest that she should be running mate. At this point I think we have to just resolve this process and then we can figure it out.

BLITZER: There will be plenty of time down the road for that.

OBAMA: There will be, yes.

BLITZER: All right. Here is a question. Listen to this one.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I strongly believe that us human beings are defined by what we've done in our lifetimes. What is the one thing that a President Barack Obama wants to be remembered for achieving during his presidency or during his lifetime?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Well, we've got a lot of jobs before us, but the most important thing I think I could achieve, you know, if I am looking back eight years from now and I am fortunate enough to be the president, is that we were able to navigate our way through this situation in Iraq and the threat of al Qaeda in Afghanistan in a way that makes us more secure, stronger, but also enhances our influence around the world, which I think has been diminishing.

I think the way we have run this war in Iraq has lessened our ability to move our allies. It has led us to ignore the critical needs for us to focus on a sound energy policy in this country. It has left us unable to lead on critical global issues like global warming. And it has led us to neglect what ultimately is the most important thing to keeping America safe. And that is having an economy that is the envy of the world and that gives us the resources and the power to project ourselves around the world.

If China ends up becoming the economic powerhouse of this century, then their military will ultimately match up with that economic power. So part of resetting our foreign policy has to include understanding that there are Americans out there who are struggling. They want to succeed. They want to get a college education. They want to be scientists. They want to be, you know, on the cutting edge of clean energy. They want to be on the cutting edge of biotech. But we're going to have to make some investments and ensure that the dynamism and the innovation of the American people is released. It's very hard for us to do that when we're spending close to $200 billion a year in other countries rebuilding (AUDIO GAP) ourselves strong.

BLITZER: A quick question on this Mother's Day weekend. Your mother raised you. She was on food stamps. If she saw where you've reached the point that you've reached right now, what would she say to you?

OBAMA: She'd say don't let it get to your head. Just keep on working hard. But I think she'd be pretty proud. Everything that I am, I owe to her. She was the kindest, most generous person I ever met. And her values and her integrity still guide me. She's somebody who, when I'm confronted with difficult choices, I have to ask myself, you know, what would she -- what would she expect of me?

And I think that's usually a good guidepost. Now, I've got to say that the mother that counts most in my life at the moment is Michelle, who, through a very difficult process, continues to raise two of the best daughters that anybody would ever want. And she's out on the campaign trail at the same time and keeping me straight.

So Happy Mother's Day to her, as well.

BLITZER: And a Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers out there.

OBAMA: Absolutely.

BLITZER: OK, Senator, thanks very much for coming in.

OBAMA: Thank you, Wolf.

I enjoyed it.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Barack Obama in his first interview since the Indiana and North Carolina primaries.

This programming note -- we have standing invitations out there to both Senators Clinton and McCain. We look forward to their joining us here in THE SITUATION ROOM, as well. Open house here for both of them.

Just ahead, high profile supporters of John McCain and Hillary Clinton respond to our Obama interview, including former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Barack Obama took a swipe at Romney. Hear what Romney has to say.

Plus, is Obama ready for anything the Republicans might throw at him?

The best political team on television is standing by to dissect Obama's words and where this race goes from here. And Cindy McCain says it's none of America's business. Democrats are accusing her husband of a double standard. We're standing by to explain.

All that and a lot more coming up in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Barack Obama, as you just heard, praising Hillary Clinton, slamming John McCain -- that in our one-on-one interview.

Let's discuss this and more with our senior political analyst, Gloria Borger, our own Jack Cafferty and our senior political correspondent, Candy Crowley. They're all part of the best political team on television.

Jack, what did you think about the guy that a lot of people now believe is going to be the Democratic presidential nominee?

CAFFERTY: He seemed presidential to me in that interview. He's refreshing to listen to. He seems very comfortable with his vision of what's wrong with this country and where he wants to take all of us to try to fix it. He does all of these things without resorting to cliches or partisanship or name calling. He seemed very comfortable within himself. I enjoyed listening to him. He's the apolitical politician.

BLITZER: I pointed out on my blog at CNNPolitics.com, Gloria, that I've interviewed him several times over the years. I moderated four Democratic presidential debates over the past year. And he was always, you know, sort of uptight -- a little nervous, tense. Today he was totally relaxed, very comfortable. He was clearly at ease, as he's getting ready, at least, I'm sure, in his own mind, to begin the next chapter of this quest.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I'm sure he's in a good mood with that "Time" magazine that says that the race is over -- almost.

But what was interesting to me, Wolf, was the way that he went out of his way to kind of not attack Hillary Clinton, to essentially act as if, in fact, the campaign is over, saving his fire, if you will, for John McCain rather than Hillary Clinton, who is still out there in West Virginia campaigning against him and being very low key about this notion that everybody else seems to say the race is over. But he is not doing that. And that's very smart of him politically.

BLITZER: Candy, the cover of "Time" magazine as the words "And the Winner Is" and they have a little asterisk next to word "winner." But they basically declared him the winner. And he was smiling on the cover and he was smiling here in the studio.

CROWLEY: Right. But you're going to hear him say things like well, it's not over. Hillary Clinton is a formidable opponent. And here's why. She has a very loyal base of voters around her. I think we've seen that in the exit polls. We have seen that over the past year-and-a-half. And we are talking about millions and millions of women that the Democrats need to win this fall.

He doesn't want to look -- his campaign does not want to look like they're muscling her out. So there will be a lot of graciousness over the next three weeks.

BLITZER: A lot of graciousness. And he did, Jack, leave open -- some might say pretty much open -- the possibility she could be his running mate. He said, look, she's an extraordinary candidate, very formidable. She would be on anybody's short list, he said. He didn't say he was going to pick her, obviously. But he certainly was gracious, as Candy says, to Hillary Clinton.

CAFFERTY: Well, I think you'd file that under what Candy was just describing at his graciousness. He was very gracious.

BORGER: Well, you know, though, Wolf, on the vice presidential thing -- because there's a lot of talk about it. There are Clinton supporters who are saying, in fact, that Hillary Clinton would be the best person to put on that ticket, that she would be the person who could really help Barack Obama unify the party. They're not so convinced over in the Obama camp that, in fact, Hillary Clinton would be the best person to put on that ticket with him. So I think we're hearing a lot of that, but mostly from one side rather than the other.

BLITZER: Are we hearing anything from the Clinton camp, Candy?

Would she be interested if she were offered that kind of number two position?

CROWLEY: Hillary Clinton is talking to very few people right now about how she feels. And they're not going to talk about her being vice president when she's still out there running.

You know, I have thought from the very beginning this is nonsense. I still believe it's nonsense on so many levels. I think that people look at this in a way not like oh, this is a great ticket, but they first looked at it as a way of wouldn't this be a great way to bring the party together -- you know, all these voters who say they wouldn't vote for the other. We'll put them both on the ticket. Now I think the idea is being floated by people who want this over. OK, so if we offered her we offered her the vice presidency, would she get out?

So I just don't think there's a lot of reality there geographically, politically. There just is nothing, I think, that she brings to the table that he's going to need.

BLITZER: Except for those questions -- the exit polls always ask Hillary Clinton's supporters if she doesn't get the nomination, who would you vote for. And in most recently, in states like Indiana and North Carolina and Pennsylvania and Ohio, maybe -- almost half say that either they'd either vote for McCain or they wouldn't vote.

CROWLEY: You know, I mean -- look, do I think that there will be some people who supported Hillary Clinton who will not vote for him?

Yes. And that's why they're being very careful not to push her out.

Do I think there will be as many people who are now saying in the exit polls that they won't?

I absolutely don't. There is a long time between now and then. When Democrats look at John McCain up against Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton -- whichever one it's going to be -- they are not going to vote for John McCain. It just isn't going to happen if they're Democrats.

BORGER: And if it were not to be Hillary Clinton, then it might be smart for Barack Obama, some Democrats are saying, to put someone on the ticket who was a Hillary Clinton supporter -- and a very strong and vocal Hillary Clinton supporter -- a governor, perhaps, like Strickland or Evan Bayh of Indiana, you know, somebody who was out there working for her that could help Obama.

BLITZER: All right guys, stand by. We're going to continue this conversation.

What do the rivals make of this interview with Senator Barack Obama?

We have representatives of the Clinton and McCain camp -- campaign speaking out here in THE SITUATION ROOM. You're going to find out what they have to say.

Plus, a senator linked to a prostitution scandal. Now there are new developments involving the Senate Ethics Committee.

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: The McCain and the Clinton campaigns are responding to my one-on-one interview with Senator Barack Obama, which you just saw.

Let's get back to the best political team on television.

Jack, we spoke to Mitt Romney. He's not backing away at all from his little exchange with Barack Obama. And he's defending John McCain's assertion that Barack Obama really is the favorite candidate of the Palestinian militant group, Hamas.

Here's how he explained it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: Think of Ahmadinejad. Today he said that Israel is a stinking corpse on its way to annihilation. And yet Barack Obama says he's going to sit down with him in his first year as being the president. It is one more clear example of a person that's out of his depth when it comes to being the leader of the free world.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: His argument is that Iran supports Hamas.

All right, what do you think about that counterclaim from the McCain camp?

CAFFERTY: Well, what is the message here, because Ahmadinejad said again, using slightly different language, something he's said a half a dozen times before, that we should not bother to negotiate with Iran?

Iran is making our life a living hell in Iraq, in case Mitt Romney and the Republicans hadn't noticed. They've got training camps running 24/7 that are supplying fighters and all kinds of bad things that are plaguing our troops.

The point is Obama has suggested that it's not a bad idea to maybe try to negotiate with our enemies rather than just drop bombs on them. That's something that's been lost on George Bush for the last eight years. And because Ahmadinejad repeated himself and said the same smarmy stuff he said before, what do you do -- you say well, then we're not going to talk, we're just going to drop some more bombs?

I mean that's ludicrous.

BORGER: Wolf, this is really just signaling what's going to go on in the general election if Obama is the nominee. The phrase that Romney used, "out of his depth" -- I think that's a phrase you're going to hear over and over again, whether it's from McCain or his campaign surrogates, making the case that Barack Obama doesn't have the foreign policy experience to be president of the United States -- that, in fact, he is naive and out of his depth.

BLITZER: And, Candy, we got reaction from Terry McAuliffe, the chairman of the Clinton campaign, who said this. He says she is not going anywhere.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TERRY MCAULIFFE, CLINTON CAMPAIGN CHAIRMAN: We're 100 percent in it.

She's in three states. I just talked to her. She's -- there are thousands of people in South Dakota right now meeting her. She's on to Oregon tonight. She's been in West Virginia twice. I mean the polls show her way up in West Virginia, way up in Kentucky. We're in. We've got six contests to go.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: All right, Candy, what do you think?

CROWLEY: I think right now that's what they want to do. I would also caution that candidates always say that they're in. They have to say that they're in until they're out.

But if -- from everyone I've talked to in the Clinton camp, from those who know her outside the camp, they say, listen, you know, she is committed to a couple of things. And one of them is that every vote should count. I mean that, as you know, is a Democratic battle cry.

So they do see her continuing through June 3. And a lot of the superdelegates I talked to today seemed willing to kind of give her that kind of space, saying look, we're talking three weeks here.

BORGER: Right. Right.

CROWLEY: I mean what is -- what is the huge harm in going until the end of this process?

That is fine with them. Obviously, it's fine with the Obama camp. And most of these people think it's a matter of timing and they're willing to let this be settled in her timing.

BLITZER: All right, guys...

CAFFERTY: Maybe McAuliffe hadn't seen "Time" magazine yet.

BLITZER: Yes. No, I showed it to him.

CAFFERTY: Well...

BLITZER: All right guys, stand by. We've got -- we've got to leave it right now. But we'll have plenty of opportunity to talk later and tomorrow.

Jack's got "The Cafferty File" still to come, as well.

Also coming up, John McCain's wife says there's a secret she will never reveal and Democrats are not happy about it. We're going to tell you what she's determined to keep out of the American public's view.

Also, where you can -- where can you be declared the winner before you cross the finish line?

In the presidential campaign, of course.

Jeanne Moos finds it Moost Unusual.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Checking our Political Ticker right now, John McCain's wife, Cindy, says she will never make her tax returns public, even if her husband wins the White House. In a TV interview today, the beer company heiress said it's a privacy issue. Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean says Mrs. McCain's refusal to release her tax returns suggests Senator McCain's call for openness and accountability applies to everyone but himself.

The House of Representatives just passed a $300 billion plan to help struggling homeowners. It would allow them to refinance their loans into more affordable fixed rate loans backed by the government. And experts say it could help 500,000 homeowners. Many Republicans oppose the bill and President Bush is threatening to veto it, saying these Democratic efforts would help lenders and speculators, not homeowners. The Senate Ethics Committee will not investigate allegations that Louisiana Republican Senator David Vitter solicited a prostitute. The Committee says it's dismissing a complaint because Vitter was never charged with a crime. The alleged actions happened before he was a U.S. senator and didn't involve his official duties.

Everyone's a winner in the presidential campaign.

Jeanne Moos finds it Moost Unusual. That's coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Where can you be declared the winner before you cross the finish line?

Here's CNN's Jeanne Moos.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Those aren't white flags of surrender. Clinton supporters are trying not to believe that time's up for Hillary.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who's the Democratic nominee going to be?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Barack Obama.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The "New York Post" -- "Over the Hill."

MOOS: Over the hill?

Maybe. But supporters can't get over introducing her as...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And the next president of the United States, Hillary Clinton.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And the next president of the United States, Senator Hillary Clinton.

CHELSEA CLINTON, DAUGHTER OF SEN. HILLARY CLINTON: Our next president and my mom, Hillary Clinton.

MOOS: Tell that to the others.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The next president of the United States, John McCain.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The next president of the United States, Barack Obama.

MOOS (on-camera): Now, obviously this next president of the United States stuff doesn't always work out.

Remember Mike Huckabee?

CHUCK NORRIS, ACTOR: I want to introduce you to the next president of the United States, Governor Mike Huckabee.

MOOS (voice-over): And now...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator John McCain, the next president of the United States.

MOOS: Sometimes the line is delivered with just gusto...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The next president of the United States, Barack Obama!

MOOS: ...you'd think they were introducing wrestlers on the WWE.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you smell what Barack is cooking.

MOOS: Now that pundits say Hillary is cooked, you might think it was an omen when Chelsea's microphone failed.

C. CLINTON: Please join me in welcoming one more time...

MOOS: But when you're a Clinton, you never give up. Chelsea cupped her hands and did the Hillary holler.

C. CLINTON: Please join me in welcoming my mom, our next president, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton!

MOOS: Lately, there's been renewed talk that Clinton insiders are showing renewed interest in Hillary's taking the second spot.

(on-camera): In which case, you might start hearing the next vice president of the United States...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hillary Clinton!

MOOS (voice-over): If the traditional intro strikes you as cocky, consider how the person saying it feels.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am absolutely amazed that I'm about to say this. It is my honor my privilege and probably -- I'm sorry, honey, but this might be more exciting than my wedding day.

MOOS: Even the microphone couldn't handle this much enthusiasm.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would like to introduce you to the next president of the United States of America, Senator Barack Obama!

MOOS: Forget wedding bells, we're talking decibels.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: She's got a crush on Obama.

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Thanks very much for joining us. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Up next, "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT" -- Lou.