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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Hillary Clinton Wins West Virginia Primary; Clinton Addresses Supporters; Interview with Howard Wolfson
Aired May 13, 2008 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is a relatively small vote coming in so far, but 67/25. As you move further up, again, you're right along the Ohio border, here along the river. In some of these other counties, 62/61. So especially up in the -- up along the areas that border Ohio, in the northern part of West Virginia, she's winning big.
And over here, this could be a battleground area, the college town here. And there you go, 48 percent to 47 percent, Senator Clinton ahead right now, at the moment, where the college towns are here.
But if you pull back out to statewide, if you see, there was one county here earlier. Senator Obama was running ahead in the early returns in Randolph County. That has now switched as more results come in. Up to 74 percent now, Senator Clinton well ahead. So a big switch there.
Did you see the map fill in?
The light blue is Senator Clinton's color. We know based on the exit polls and the very early returns, she was looking for a sizable victory. The question is, as we watch the margins, we will lay over the Congressional districts map and we'll try to apportion the delegates. As long as Obama gets 15 percent across the state and in those Congressional districts, he will get something out of this in terms of delegates. But based on what we're seeing early on, Wolf, it looks like Senator Clinton is going to have an impressive victory and come out of here with the lion's share of delegates.
Again, the issue -- some would say the problem for her -- is that we're late in the game, number one, and it's not a large pool of delegates in the State of West Virginia.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: We're getting ready to hear her remarks in Charleston, West Virginia, John. And I know we've been talking about the tone that she has.
Is she going to be very tough on Barack Obama or will she lighten up, will she be positive, will she go after John McCain?
What are you going to be listening for as we get ready to hear her remarks?
KING: You listen to any references at all to Barack Obama. And we expect there to be relatively few. And we are told not to expect any sharp contrasts, but instead, the implicit contrasts. Senator Clinton saying she is here in a state -- and I'm going to go back in time as we talk. I'll go back in time. This was a red state in 2004. It was a red state in 2000. It was a blue state for Bill Clinton in '92 and '96.
And what you're going to hear from Senator Clinton is the economy is in trouble in the United States. So it was, too, in 1992, when her husband was able to carry West Virginia, able to carry -- reach into Ohio in his re-election campaign in 1996, hold Pennsylvania both times, be competitive in some of these other states even if he didn't win in Virginia and North Carolina, forcing the Republicans to spend resources.
What Senator Clinton wants to convince -- and it's not so much the delegates or even the voters in Kentucky and Oregon and anywhere else, it's the superdelegates -- that I'm your stronger general election candidate. You heard Howard Wolfson with us earlier saying he hopes the big thing that happens after tonight is that superdelegates get pause, that they just decide wait a minute, I want to think about this a little longer.
So what does she want to say?
She wants to say that these people up here are the kind of people -- whether we're talking about West Virginia or Ohio or Iowa or Kentucky or New Hampshire -- if you're in a close 50/50 presidential election and one state's decided, if they're red, the Republicans get the White House; if they're blue, the Democrats get the White House. That's the argument she wants to say today, that I win in the areas that decide who gets to be president of the United States. Most would say it's pretty late to make that argument, but you've heard Howard Wolfson. He's here with us tonight. He says the game is not over. Therefore, in their view, it's not too late.
BLITZER: And I'll be anxious to hear when she starts speaking, momentarily, what her references are, if any, to Michigan and Florida -- the two disputed states where the candidates didn't campaign, because the state parties moved up their primaries against DNC -- Democratic National Committee -- rules.
I just want to remind our viewers what we're waiting for. Hillary Clinton is about to speak to her supporters in Charleston, West Virginia on this, a night where she has scored an impressive victory in the West Virginia Democratic presidential primary. We project she will win by a wide margin. We don't know how wide that margin will be, but it will be an impressive margin. She will be speaking, claiming victory tonight, as she deserves, at least in West Virginia; going forward next week to two more primaries in neighboring Kentucky, as well as in Oregon.
And the projection right now, based on the polls, John, that we're seeing for next Tuesday, is she's looking -- she's looking pretty good in Kentucky. He's looking pretty good in Oregon. Those states a week from today.
KING: Let's go back to our Democratic map. The nomination battle thus far. You're right. You're absolutely right. Kentucky, up next week, a state that should built for Senator Clinton. A larger African- American population than in West Virginia, but still a very good state demographically for Senator Clinton, as evidenced by -- this is Barack Obama's home state of Illinois.
But you see Senator Clinton winning the majority of the surrounding. And, again, in this area -- and let's make the map a little bigger, Wolf. This area right here, where Senator Clinton has won in all the surrounding states, with the exception of these counties out here -- and even, she did actually win some of these counties out here.
Let's go to the county map and I can show you how it worked out by county. She even won these counties out in Virginia, a state where she lost. She's winning very -- by good margins, sometimes overwhelming margins, in small town, rural America.
So you would say, looking at this map, Kentucky -- and the polls support this -- Kentucky looks to be a Clinton state. So she will stay in the race for that.
Now, if you come back out and you move over to the northwest, here in the State of Oregon, you know, Oregon will vote, as well. And the population centers are out here along -- just inland from the Pacific Coast. These are the big areas where you will see the candidates. This is a very large swath of rural, not so densely populated, Oregon.
But if you bring the map back into play, you see Barack Obama has done very well in the Plains and out in the Pacific Northwest, even though Hillary Clinton took California. You see Obama did well up here. So expectations are based on the public opinion polling and based on -- if you talk to anyone inside the campaign -- is that that is more of an Obama state, though the Clintons have been playing for votes there.
But if you look, Wolf, there aren't that many states left. Texas does not show up here because they split it. But there aren't that many states. There's just a handful of contests after tonight.
So Senator Clinton has an edge in Kentucky. She is said to have an edge down in Puerto Rico. Beyond that, Obama favored out here. We'll see how Senator Clinton can do in the closing contests.
But, again, the delegate map -- despite the big win she will get tonight and the power of the message she can get from that win, in terms of the voters she has won, the map is still overwhelmingly (INAUDIBLE).
BLITZER: I don't remember a time, John -- and maybe you do -- where there has been a notion out there -- at least the "experts," the pundits, have basically said the math says it's over, where there is a primary that follows that. We've been hearing that for about a week, where the candidate who was supposedly toast emerges as a major -- a major winner in a primary. I don't remember a scenario like that.
And she's beginning to walk out, we're told, in Charleston, West Virginia. She's getting ready for her speech.
But do you remember a scenario or is this election campaign that we're watching right now sort of unique?
KING: This is my sixth and I do not remember a scenario where you have had A -- we've never had one that's gone on like this. And, B, where you have had two significant, formidable, well-financed candidates who have both gone on so deep into the race with such strengths. They both have very strong bases of support. I've never seen anything like this, Wolf. And I would venture to guess it might be a long time before we see anything like this again.
BLITZER: And there she is. And she's about to speak, so we will listen to Hillary Clinton.
SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you.
CLINTON: Thank you, West Virginia.
UNIDENTIFIED SUPPORTERS: Hillary. Hillary.
CLINTON: Thank you all so much.
CLINTON: Thank you.
CLINTON: You know, like the song says, it's almost heaven.
CLINTON: And I am so grateful for this overwhelming vote of confidence. Now...
CLINTON: There are some who have wanted to cut this race short.
CLINTON: They say give up, it's too hard, the mountain is too high. But here in West Virginia, you know a thing or two about rough roads and the top of the mountains.
CLINTON: We know from the bible that faith can move mountains.
CLINTON: And my friends, the faith of the Mountain State has moved me.
CLINTON: I am more determined than ever to carry on this campaign...
CLINTON: ...until everyone has had a chance to make their voices heard. I want to commend Senator Obama and his supporters. This continues to be a hard-fought race from one end of our country to the other. And, yes, we've had a few dust-ups along the way. But our commitment to bring America new leadership that will renew America's promise means that we have always stood together on what is most important. Now tonight...
CLINTON: Tonight I need your help to continue this journey.
CLINTON: We are in the home stretch. There are only three weeks left in the final contests and your support can make the difference between winning and losing. So I hope you'll go to HillaryClinton.com...
CLINTON: ...and support our campaign. You've heard this before -- there are many who wanted to declare a nominee before the ballots were counted or even cast.
CLINTON: Some said our campaign was over after Iowa, but then we won New Hampshire. Then we had big victories on Super Tuesday and in Ohio and Texas and Pennsylvania. And, of course, we came from behind to win in Indiana. So this race isn't over yet.
CLINTON: Neither -- neither of us has the total delegates it takes to win. And both Senator Obama and I believe that the delegates from Florida and Michigan should be seated.
CLINTON: I believe we should honor the votes cast by 2.3 million people in those states and seek all of their delegates.
CLINTON: Under the rules of our party, when you include all 50 states, the number of delegates need to win is 2,209 and neither of us has reached that threshold yet. This win in West Virginia will help me move even closer.
CLINTON: Now, in a campaign, it can be easy to get lost in the political spin and the polls or the punditry. But we must never lose sight of what really counts -- of why all of us care so much about who wins and who loses in our political system. An enormous decision falls on the shoulders of Democratic voters in these final contests and those Democrats empowered to vote at our convention. And tonight, in light of our overwhelming victory here in West Virginia, I want to send a message to everyone still making up their minds.
I am in this race because I believe I am the strongest candidate.
CLINTON: The strongest candidate to lead our party in November of 2008 and the strongest president to lead our nation starting in January of 2009.
CLINTON: I can win this nomination if you decide I should. And I can lead this party to victory in the general election, if you lead me to victory now.
CLINTON: The choice falls to all of you. And I don't envy you. I deeply admire Senator Obama. But I believe our case, a case West Virginia has helped to make, our case is stronger. Together, we have won millions and millions of votes. By the time tonight is over, probably 17 million -- close to it. We've won them in states that we must be prepared and ready to win in November -- Pennsylvania and Ohio, Arkansas and New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, Michigan, Florida and now West Virginia.
CLINTON: It is a fact that no Democrat has won the White House since 1916 without winning West Virginia.
CLINTON: The bottom line is this -- the White House is won in the swing states. And I am winning the swing states.
CLINTON: And we have done it by standing up for the deepest principles of our party, with a vision for an America that rewards hard work again, that values the middle class and helps to make it stronger. With your help, I am ready to go head-to-head with John McCain to put our vision for America...
(APPLAUSE) CLINTON: ...up against the one he shares with President Bush.
Now, I believe our party is strong enough for this challenge. I am strong enough for it. You know I never give up. I'll keep coming back and I'll stand with you as long as you stand with me.
CLINTON: Together, we will draw the stark distinction that will determine the future direction of our nation, the difference between ending the war in Iraq responsibly or continuing it indefinitely; between health care for everyone and more uninsured Americans; between standing up for the middle class families that you represent or standing up for the corporate special interests.
So I ask you Democrats to choose who you believe will make the strongest candidate in the fall and who is ready to execute the office of the presidency of the United States.
CLINTON: People ask me all the time why am I in this race. Well, I'm in it because of the people that I have worked for my entire life and the people I meet along the campaign trail -- people who need someone who fights for them, because they're fighting so hard every single day, the people who drive for miles to show their support, who come with the homemade signs, who raise money by skipping those dinners out, who have stood fast and stood strong.
I'm in this race for the millions of Americans who know that we can do better in our country, for the nurse on her second shift, for the worker on the line, for the waitress on her feet, for the small business owner, the farmer, the teacher, the coal miner, the trucker, the soldier, the vet and the college student.
CLINTON: All of the hardworking men and women who defy the odds to build a better life for themselves and their children. You will never be counted out and I won't, either. You will never quit and I won't, either.
CLINTON: The question is, why do so many people keep voting?
Why did 64 percent of Democrats say in a recent poll they wanted this race to continue?
CLINTON: ...in the face of the pundits and the naysayers, they know what is at stake. They know that we have two wars, an economy in crisis, on the brink of a recession, $9 trillion of debt, oil prices shooting through the roof, gas prices and grocery prices hurting people, who desperately are looking for a way to just keep going day to day. They know they need a champion. They need someone who's going to never stop fighting for health care that covers everyone -- no exceptions.
CLINTON: For an economy that lifts everyone up. For good jobs that won't be shipped overseas. For college affordability. For all that you can do to own a home and then to keep it.
UNIDENTIFIED SUPPORTERS: Hillary! Hillary! Hillary! Hillary! Hillary! Hillary! Hillary! Hillary! Hillary! Hillary! Hillary! Hillary! Hillary! Hillary!
CLINTON: This election is fundamentally about whether or not the American dream remains alive and well for our children and our grandchildren. This is the core of my life and my political beliefs, that we owe so much to future generations, that we do not want to see that dream recede. And we know people have to work hard and we expect you to do just that and to take responsibility. But at the very least, you should have a president who is on your side again.
CLINTON: And I believe that this campaign has been good for the Democratic Party and good for our country. People are discussing and debating issues. They are turning out in record numbers to register and to vote. There is an excitement about politics that is the lifeblood of our democracy.
CLINTON: For me, this election isn't about who's in or who's out or who's up or who's down. It's about the common threads that tie us together -- rich and poor, young and old, black and white, Latino and Asian, Democrats, Republicans and Independents. We are united by common values. We all want a better world for our children and we want the best for our country. And we are committed to putting a Democrat back in the White House. And our nominee...
CLINTON: ...our nominee will be stronger for having campaigned long and hard, building enthusiasm and excitement, hearing your stories and answering your questions. And I will work my heart out for the nominee of the Democratic Party, to make sure we have a Democratic president.
CLINTON: So as we look at the stakes in this election, I think we can all agree it's been unprecedented. We haven't had an election like it for as long as anyone can remember. It is still so close. And it really does depend upon those who will vote in these next contests and those who have the awesome responsibility as delegates of our great Democratic Party.
I'm asking that people think hard about where we are in this election, about how we will win in November, because this is not an abstract exercise. This is for a solemn, crucial purpose -- to elect a president, to turn our country around, to meet the challenges we face and seize the opportunity. It has been a long campaign. But it is just an instant in time when compared with the lasting consequences of the choice we will make in November.
That is why I'm carrying on. And if you give me a chance, Democrats, I'll come back to West Virginia in the general election and we'll win this state and we'll win the White House.
CLINTON: I am honored and grateful for the support and hospitality of the people of West Virginia. I spent a few minutes with your wonderful national treasure, Senator Byrd, this morning. And...
CLINTON: ...we talked about his beloved West Virginia. I told him where I'd gone and what I'd seen. I talked about the people I had met. And he just broke into the biggest smile. I don't know that any man has ever loved a state more than Robert C. Byrd loves West Virginia.
CLINTON: I am grateful for the graciousness of Governor and Mrs. Manchin. Governor Manchin is winning a great victory himself tonight. And I want to thank Joe and Gayle for welcoming me to Governor Manchin's hometown, as went to Fairmont for a great election last night.
I want to thank Senate majority leader Truman Chafin, former governor Hulett Smith, Brigadier General Jack Yeager, all of the West Virginia veterans who honored me by their support. And I honor their service.
CLINTON: Thanks to my friends in the labor unions who stood with us every step of the way. We wouldn't be here without you.
CLINTON: And a special thanks to my outstanding staff, volunteers and supporters here in West Virginia and across America.
CLINTON: You know, at least once, usually a half a dozen times a day Bill and Chelsea and I check in with each other. And I wish every West Virginian could have heard our calls as we compared our experiences here in this state. We've had the best time.
CLINTON: And I will be back. As we move on now to the next contests, in Kentucky and Oregon, in Puerto Rico, in Montana and South Dakota, tonight I'm thinking about Florence Steen from South Dakota, 88 years old and in failing health when she asked that her daughter bring an absentee ballot to her hospice bedside. Florence was born before women had the right to vote and she was determined to exercise that right.
CLINTON: ...to cast a ballot for her candidate, who just happened to be a woman running for president.
CLINTON: Florence passed on a few days ago, but I am eternally grateful to her and her family for making this such an important -- an incredible milestone in her life that means so much to me.
I'm also thinking of Dalton Hatfield, an 11-year-old boy from Kentucky who sold his bike and sold his video games to raise money to support my campaign.
CLINTON: This is a great and good nation because of people like Florence Dean, Dalton Hatfield and their families. Her memory and his future are worth fighting for. As long as we remember that there is no challenge we cannot meet, no barrier we cannot break, no dream we cannot realize.
So let's finish the job we started. America is worth fighting for.
CLINTON: Thank you and God bless you and God bless America.
Thank you all so very much.
BLITZER: All right. So there it is, Hillary Clinton. She is the big winner in West Virginia tonight, speaking to her supporters, speaking to the nation, making it abundantly clear she has no intention of stepping down despite the math that is not on her side right now. And she says she's going on. She's going on until the final primaries in South Dakota and Montana on June 3. There is no doubt about that.
There she is with Terry McAuliffe, her campaign chairman.
By the way, Hillary Clinton will be my special guest tomorrow in THE SITUATION ROOM. We'll have a rare one-on-one interview with her tomorrow in Washington. Hillary Clinton will join us tomorrow.
Let's go to Anderson Cooper and the best political team on television for some analysis of what she had to say.
She touched a lot of notes. Very gracious in her comments, but she was also determined that this contest continues despite what all the pundits might be saying.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. If anyone had thought that today she might be dropping out, I mean that speech put any of that kind of talk to rest.
COOPER: John King, as you were listening to her, what crossed your mind?
KING: That's exactly how we mapped it out way back in January, right?
KING: The Democratic race would go on to the end and the candidate who was losing would suddenly get a big victory.
What goes through my mind?
She has a very powerful overwhelming victory in a state she described as a swing state. And she sent a pretty powerful message to the people yet to vote, and especially the Democratic superdelegates -- look again. Take a time out, go back and look at the map. I think I'm a stronger candidate for November.
And she made her case why -- West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania -- working class voters. She also gets older voters. She has a very strong case.
The problem for the Democratic Party is Barack Obama has a very strong case. He's won more states, he has more delegates, he's proven himself to be a better fundraiser. And he can say, yes, she gets older voters, she gets white, working class voters. I can turn out African- Americans in record numbers and we're registering young people in record numbers. So that is the dilemma facing the Democratic Party. Based on the math and so few states left, advantage Obama -- but a pretty strong message from Senator Clinton.
COOPER: There's also, obviously, fear and a dilemma within the Democratic Party, people concerned that Hillary Clinton will be chipping away at Barack Obama, verbally sparring with him. She certainly did not do that tonight.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. Right.
COOPER: She was very gracious, saying she would campaign for the Democratic candidate and saying that she respects Senator Obama. BORGER: Yes. And then she went -- she did. She was gracious. And then she went out of her way to go back to the battleground state argument, which is clearly, as John says, the only argument she has right now to these superdelegates, which is that I've won in these battleground states. She said I am the strongest candidate and I would be the strongest president.
And that's going -- clearly going to continue to be her argument. She also made it clear she's going to go through to June 3. She needs the money to do that, Anderson. And so she was also making a pitch for people to donate more money to her campaign.
But don't underestimate the odds here. The odds are very much against her. I think even Howard Wolfson would say that. I'm sure we'll ask him.
But she was saying, you know, I'm still in this, so do not count me out, continue voting.
She also made the argument to those folks who would say this is bad for Barack Obama, this fight is bad for him. Her argument was, you know, I think this fight has been pretty good for the Democratic Party. It's gotten our voters energized. We're discussing issues. We're things we need to be talking about. So enough of you who have say this hasn't been good fight. It's been a great fight.
COOPER: Donna Brazile, she was also clearly sending a message to Kentucky, talking about folks in Kentucky, where she's probably headed next or certainly is in the lead.
DONNA BRAZILE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: She was also sending a message to Montana and South Dakota, a shout out to Chelsea in Puerto Rico, and possibly some to cousin that she hasn't seen in Oregon. Look, five more states, 189 additional earned delegates. The math, which Senator Clinton raised tonight, Howard Wolfson raised it, is still 2,025. I understand the argument about Florida and Michigan.
COOPER: They're saying with Florida and Michigan it's 2,209.
BRAZILE: The Democratic National Committee today will recognize 2,025. You know, I can go back and cite and quote, you know, what Senator Clinton has said many the past about 2,025, what other people involved in her campaign. I think it's important going forward that Senator Clinton continues to show her strength. Look, she has her an electoral boost. She won tonight. It was a great victory. I don't want to take anything away from her, but the math is the math. It's 2,025.
COOPER: How solid is the super delegate lead that Barack Obama has? When you yourself are a super delegate, clearly the Clinton campaign believes they can change the mind of a lot of superdelegates. Can they?
BRAZILE: Well, they have changed some minds. But more minds are being changed right now in favor of Senator Obama. I don't want to take away from what he brings to the table. He is a very gifted, strong, experienced campaigner. He has won more states. He has clearly campaigned very hard. He is now leading the popular vote and winning the earned delegates, and now he's taking a lead with the superdelegates.
This race will go on until June 3. No one should tell Senator Clinton to get out the race. If anyone tells Senator Clinton to get out the race, I always say that's a mistake because this is helping Senator Clinton and helping the Democratic party by reaching out to these voters. And clearly, Obama will have to reach out to them as well.
COOPER: Suzanne Malveaux, was it a mistake for Barack Obama not to be out there tonight, appearing on television, making a speech, getting free air time, like he would in any other race?
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. The candidates say this wasn't his state to win in the first place. Obviously, though, this gives her incredible momentum. I was on the phone with a dear friend and also an adviser to the Clinton camp, and they put it this way: they said there's nobody in the bunker, in the inner circle, telling her to give up. They said, if she gives up now, there's a red carpet that's rolled out for the Obama folks, welcoming her demise.
The way he put it, he said, this is Hillary Clinton first, party second. They believe that they have time to basically make amends that need to be made.
COOPER: They haven't actually built a bunker, though, have they? I just want to make sure.
MALVEAUX: They could, I'm sure. But they feel hay they've got the time to go ahead and do that, and so they're not apologetic about this. Also, there's also been this question, you know, one of the advisers saying, has she become like the boogeyman to some of the black voters. They say that is not their concern right now. Their concern, is she OK? Is she willing to move forward? If she's OK with it, they're behind her 100 percent because they feel that she's got nothing to lose.
BORGER: It's also clear that Barack Obama now knows that he's got a lot of homework to do. We saw that in his economic speech today. I was looking at these exit polls, Anderson. Among Catholic voters, which are key in every swing state in this country, Obama did 17 points worse among Catholics than he did among Protestants. That's really important to a Democrat trying to win swing states.
COOPER: We'll have a lot more on the exit polls coming up.
Let's go back to Wolf right now.
BLITZER: Thanks very much.
I want to update our viewers on the numbers that have come in. Almost a quarter of the precincts have now reported in West Virginia, 23 percent, to be specific. And Hillary Clinton has 63 percent to Barack Obama's 30 percent. John Edwards' name was still on the ballot. Look at this, he got seven percent of the votes today in West Virginia.
Let's look at the actual numbers that have actually been reported in the state of West Virginia: 54,798 for Hillary Clinton, 26,126 for Barack Obama, John Edwards 6072. He dropped out of the race, as you know, several months ago, but his name was still on the ballot. We're going to continue to watch this. We have more analysis, more information coming into the CNN Election Center.
CNNPolitics.com is where you can watch the actual numbers come in county by county in West Virginia. Then start looking ahead. Next week to Kentucky and Oregon. Much more of our coverage right after this.
BLITZER: Welcome back.
We've now heard from Hillary Clinton. She just spoke in Charleston, West Virginia, where she's the big winner in tonight's Democratic presidential primary. She's still out there shaking hands, meeting with supporters. Earlier in the evening, way earlier in the evening, before the votes actually were tallied, Barack Obama spoke in Missouri to his supporters.
I want to bring back Howard Wolfson. He is the communications director for the Clinton campaign. He's here at the CNN Election Center.
You heard Donna, Donna Brazile, a member of the rules committee, a super delegate, very active in the DNC.
HOWARD WOLFSON, CLINTON CAMPAIGN COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: She's a super superdelegate.
BLITZER: She says the number is 2,025, the magic number needed to secure the Democratic presidential nomination, not 2,209. You're adding Michigan and Florida. Right now the DNC, which rules in these matter, they say the number is 2,025.
WOLFSON: Well, Donna's right. As of today, it is 2,025. But I believe, and a lot of Democrats believe, that when the DNC decides adviser what to do with Florida and Michigan, we're going to get to 2,209, because we don't believe that we can go to a convention with only 48 states. We can't leave 2.5 million people in Florida and Michigan out. We're going to seat all of them. We're going to apportion the delegates fairly and equally. And that will obviously give Senator Clinton some additional delegates.
We are not going to go into a national election telling the people of Florida and Michigan that their votes didn't count. It's not going to happen.
BLITZER: So, even if you were to divide up the delegates for Michigan and Florida, and if you do the math, do you think at that point she would have that magic number of 2,209 in order to secure the Democratic nomination?
WOLFSON: Well, let's see how it played out. A week ago, people were telling senator Clinton to get out. Tonight, we may have a 35- point win in a key swing state. So a lot can change in even a week. You know, I think that this race is going to go forward. Senator Clinton made a very clear point tonight. Superdelegates and voters in the upcoming states, look what happened in West Virginia. West Virginia, a key swing state, a state that Bill Clinton won in '92 and '96. We lost it in 2000 and 2004.
No Democrat has been elected president without winning West Virginia since Woodrow Wilson. Hillary Clinton said on the strength of my victory in West Virginia, on the strength of my victory in Pennsylvania and Ohio and Michigan and Florida, take a look at this race, look who would be the best president at a time of two wars and an economy going into recession and let's see what happens in the next month.
BLITZER: Why isn't that argument -- and she's been making it repeatedly. You have been making it. Her supporters have been making it -- resonating with the superdelegates? Because by a wide, lopsided margin, the ones who are undecided, let's say over the past month, they've gone overwhelming for Barack Obama, not for Hillary Clinton.
WOLFSON: Well, that's been true in the last month. Let's see what happens when people wake up tomorrow, they open their paper, Clinton landslide in West Virginia, a key swing state, a state that Democrats must win in November against John McCain, A state that Hillary Clinton has pledged and promised to win against John McCain.
People will be looking at their papers. They'll be watching CNN tomorrow. They'll say, you know, we want to take another look at this. Maybe Hillary Clinton is the best candidate to go up against John McCain. Maybe she's the one that can win the key swing states that any Democrat needs to win against John McCain.
I think that's going to happen. I think we're going to take a time-out. People are going to pause. They're going to look and see what happens in the upcoming states. We're looking forward to Kentucky and Oregon and the upcoming states. We've got to do well. We think we'll do well.
BLITZER: One week from today, Kentucky and Oregon. I want to bring John King in, because he is looking at the math. He is over at what we call our magic board over there.
John, go through the math and show all of us the uphill struggle that Hillary Clinton faces right now.
KING: Well, Wolf, this is the easiest way to show the contrast and the tough map for Senator Clinton right now. I have allocated the West Virginia delegates with a rough estimate. We won't know the final totals until we get the final results. You have a Congressional district. I gave Senator Clinton most of the delegates out of West Virginia in this map. That's why you see her with a little blue on this side of the green line. Green is where we started the night.
It still puts her well back of Senator Obama. The issue coming into the night was she needed 71 percent of the remaining available delegates, a combination of both the darker blue delegates down, which are those that will be decided in the remaining contests, and the lighter blue, the superdelegates, who are the elected officials, the activists in the Democratic party, who can make their own decision.
Senator Obama only has to win three in 10 from here on out and he is the Democratic nominee. Now, Howard has several times mentioned Michigan and Florida. But for now, we are sticking to 2,025 as the finish line, the red line, unless and until the rules change. The Clinton campaign is making the argument they will, but they haven't yet. We'll stick to the line here and see what the rules committee does later this month.
Let's come out to the map, the graph, and it shows you the problem going forward. Again, we've given Senator Clinton West Virginia by a 65/35 margin in our scenario right here. The question is -- let me do this to show our viewers. That's about where it leaves us, Clinton behind Obama here with the finish line out here. Even if she gets 65/35, let's go through the remaining contests and give her those states by the margin she's winning West Virginia tonight.
I don't know of anyone who thinks Senator Clinton can win the remaining state by that margin, but let's say there was a tidal wave change in the Democratic party and she wins Kentucky. Let's go up here first, do this, got to take off the telestrator. She wins 65/35 and she wins here and she wins here, she wins out here. I'm not hitting these in the order they vote. I'm just hitting them in the order they come to my finger. Down here in Puerto Rico, a little harder to touch. Let's give her that as well.
Even if you do that, Wolf, 65/35, look what happens. She narrows the gap some. Now I use red here, Senator Obama still would be ahead at 65/35. That does not include the superdelegates. That is just the pledged delegates to be remaining. Even if she finishes with overwhelming wins everywhere in the proportion we think she'll win tonight in West Virginia, she narrows the gap but she does not close it.
And Senator Obama under that scenario -- back to the graph -- I come back to this graph. I'm going to ask it to match up with what I just did up there, take off that Telestrator again, and look what happens. She gets a big chunk of delegates, Barack Obama is still ahead. Look how close he would be to the finish line, Wolf, right there. He would need only a very small proportion of the superdelegates. A couple more and he's your Democratic nominee.
It's not impossible for Senator Clinton but it is near impossible.
BLITZER: Let's get reaction form Howard Wolfson. What do you think of what John just showed us? WOLFSON: Nobody does that better than John, but the fact is we believe Michigan and Florida will get counted. That will move the magic number to 2,209. With that, we'll pick up additional delegates from Florida and Michigan and Senator Clinton is going to continue to make her case. You know, we had a huge victory tonight in West Virginia. We did that in the face of media and pundits telling voters this was all but over, that Senator Clinton was finished, that Barack Obama was our nominee.
People of West Virginia had something else on their minds tonight. And I think again superdelegates are going to wake up tomorrow. They're going to say, you know, Senator Clinton, the strength of her victory in West Virginia, the strength of her victory in the other key swing states, we want to take a look at this.
Who's really going to be the best person to defeat John McCain in November?
We're entrusted, all of us Democrats, with picking the best nominee. We believe that person is Senator Clinton. She's going to continue to make that case.
BLITZER: It seems you're basing your hope on getting Michigan and Florida included and convincing superdelegates who are undecided and maybe some superdelegates who are decided to switch in their minds, and bring in those superdelegates from Florida and Michigan, who right now have no say.
WOLFSON: Florida, Michigan, superdelegates, but also voters in the upcoming states. As we've seen tonight, real Americans can exercise democracy and choose which candidate they believe would be the best person. We've got millions more Americans who are going to weigh in here. Some people want them to stop. Some people say let's call it over in the fourth quarter. We believe those people are also going to have a key say in this process.
BLITZER: Howard Wolfson is the communications director for the Clinton campaign. Howard, thanks for coming in.
WOLFSON: Thank you.
BLITZER: This important programming note to our viewers. I'll have a special one-on-one sit down interview tomorrow with Hillary Clinton in THE SITUATION ROOM. Last week, we spoke with Barack Obama. Tomorrow, we speak with Hillary Clinton in THE SITUATION ROOM. Tomorrow, you'll be able to see that full interview. We'll take a quick break. Much more of our coverage coming up right here at the CNN Election Center.
COOPER: And our coverage continues tonight. West Virginia, a massive win for Hillary Clinton. With 36 percent of the precincts reporting, 64 percent for Hillary Clinton, 29 percent for Barack Obama. Right now, seven percent vote for John Edwards, whose name was still on the ballot, though, of course, he is not still in the race. For the Clinton campaign, the argument really boils down to changing the mind of superdelegates and also getting the delegates from Florida and Michigan seated.
Let's talk to Donna Brazile, who is on the DNC Rules Committee, going to be meeting May 31. How does this actually work? What will you actually do? Clearly, you'll be under a lot of pressure from the Clinton campaign to seat these delegates.
BRAZILE: First of all, we're under a lot of pressure from the voters in Michigan and Florida to have representatives at the convention in Denver. So, we're going to hear challenges from both state parties, as well as two individual, one from each state, that have challenged the Democratic rules as relates to superdelegates from those states being seated.
So we're going to listen to their arguments. We're going to listen to the two-state parties. We're going to listen to the affected parties. Senator Clinton, if she cares to send a representative -- I thought Howard made a great case. He should come. I might even sit with him. And we'll listen to Senator Obama if he cares to send somebody. We'll make our minds up and we will make a recommendation to the DNC.
COOPER: This is the same rules committee with the same people on it who originally voted to disenfranchise Florida. Is that correct?
BRAZILE: It's the same people who made a decision to -- you know, these two states violated the rules. We did not disenfranchise anyone. I have to make that clear, because when you say disenfranchise, that's very personal, especially when you're from the south. These two state parties took steps to violate the rules. We encouraged them -- we know that the Republicans played footsie with the rules in Florida. We encouraged the state parties to have an alternative process. We even agreed to pay for it last year.
We were trying to avoid a train wreck. What we're trying to do now is come up with a resolution so that we can have these two states seated.
COOPER: What are the possible resolutions?
BRAZILE: There are so many. I mean, people are floating proposals with a split that would give a certain percentage to Senator Clinton based on the results of the election, a certain percentage to Obama. The bottom line is the Democratic party would like to be fair to both candidates. Look, they both signed pledges not to campaign in those states. We would like to make sure that whatever the outcome, that both candidates walk away saying that this was fair.
COOPER: The Clinton campaign wants the delegates seated as they are now, proportional to how people voted. Is that a real possibility?
BRAZILE: I think they should be prepared to come to the table and work with us and come up with a compromise that we can all agree with. Long before this primary campaigns began, only two representatives on the rules committee voted against the rules. That was someone from Florida, someone from Michigan. Twenty eight people voted to bring these rules forward, and the entire Democratic National Committee voted in support.
So, we have 48 other states, the District of Columbia, to contend with. If we decide to change the rules in the middle of the game, imagine how unfair that is to the states who complied with the rules. And by the way, West Virginia will receive 28 delegates tonight, 26 which was rewarded because of the population, but two bonus delegates because they decided to stay and hold their contest in May. So, I just want to remind people that this was a big decision last year on the rules committee.
COOPER: A decision supported by or at least signed off by both candidates.
BRAZILE: Signed off by all eight candidates at the same time, including, you know, the other candidates who have since dropped out.
COOPER: Right now the math for the DNC rules committee, the math that we're going by, that everyone is going by, is 2,025. The Clinton campaign says, no, it's 2,209. What if Barack Obama -- I don't know if it's possible. What if Barack Obama reached 2,025 before May 31.
BRAZILE: He would be declared the nominee.
COOPER: It's possible Barack Obama could be declared the nominee before the rules committee meets.
BRAZILE: That's if the superdelegates decide it. And I hope the superdelegates will allow all the remaining states to cast their ballots. I've said that before. I will say it again; let all the voters have some time and vote, give money to both candidates. This has been an exciting process. But at the end of the day, once a candidate reaches 2,025, he or she will be declared the nominee given the rules as of today.
COOPER: You meet May 31. Do you decide May 31? Do you go to this meeting and don't come out until the decision is made?
BRAZILE: Anderson, I'm looking at you and this is the time of year that everybody needs a little vacation. And I'm saying that because we all want to get our tans. And I need to go back to Florida.
COOPER: You're saying, it will be decided that day or you'll take a vacation?
BRAZILE: I hope that we make that decision that day so that the party can begin the healing process and we go forward as one party.
COOPER: Gloria, what do you think is going to happen?
BORGER: I don't know. I wanted to ask Donna but now I understand why she's uncommitted also, because she's got to wait. I think number is going to change, obviously. It's going to change from 2,025. The question is whether it changes to what Senator Clinton wants, which is 2,209, or something else. I don't think it's going to change to what Senator Clinton wants. I mean, I'm curious as to what kind of a compromise the Clinton campaign would be willing to accept.
COOPER: We're going talk to Howard Wolfson about that in our next hour, in a special edition of 360. We have a two hour edition of 360 from 10:00 to Midnight, and then, of course, a special edition of LARRY KING LIVE, starting at midnight. Our coverage continues well throughout this evening. Also, on CNNPolitics.com, you can follow along as the results come in. As we get the results, we bring them to you on CNNPolitics.com. We'll be right back. Our coverage continues.
COOPER: And good evening on a very big night for Hillary Clinton. Just how big? We'll be learning more as the night rolls on and the returns come in from West Virginia. Senator Clinton billed the primary tonight as proof positive that only she can win the kind of voters and the kind of states that matter in November. We'll be exploring that claim in depth tonight. You see her live where she just spoke a short time ago. We'll be bringing you her comments.
It is -- tonight, especially, since the math she is facing still looks impossible. We'll crunch the numbers. John King is mapping out the road ahead for both candidates at his magic wall.
Also tonight, both Senators Clinton and Obama in their own words. You'll hear extensive portions, as I said, of their comments tonight. She's in Charleston, West Virginia. He in Missouri. And don't think the geography is an accident. He spent the day in a general election swing state, not a primary state. We'll explore his new strategy for November.
First up though, Wolf Blitzer with a quick look at how tonight is going.
BLITZER: All right, Anderson, thanks very much.