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THE SITUATION ROOM

Democrats Fight For Florida; McCain's V.P. Search; Sen. Lieberman Angered Over Dissemination of 'Propaganda'

Aired May 21, 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 and Hillary Clinton fighting different battles in Florida. The state's disputed Democratic primary is hanging over both of them.

Also this hour, John McCain invites several vice presidential choices to come by and chat. We're going to tell you what we're learning about the guest list and whether the discussions will be serious.

And McCain and Obama refusing to let go of their fight over foreign policy. The best political team on television is looking for early signs of political damage.

I'm Wolf Blitzer at the CNN Election Center. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world.

Right now, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are lavishing attention on the state of Florida. Obama is laying groundwork for a possible general election, the Clinton team still fighting the primary.

Obama is closer than ever to claiming ultimate victory over Clinton after the split decision in Kentucky and Oregon last night. CNN now estimates that Obama has 1,962 total delegates. That's only 64 delegates short of the number needed to clinch the nomination. Clinton has 1,777 total delegates, 249 short of the magic number needed to win right now.

Our senior political correspondent, Candy Crowley, is covering this fight for us in Florida.

Many Democrats there feel neglected, Candy, because they couldn't really campaign in the lead-up to the Florida primary.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: No, they couldn't.

In fact, one of the crowds with Hillary Clinton today began to chant, "Count our votes." They're feeling very neglected down here. As you know, neither candidate campaigned in Florida, nor in Michigan, two states that did not follow Democratic Party rules.

Nonetheless, at this point, both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama think it's time for a little love down here for Florida, and they both came for different reasons.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CROWLEY (voice-over): Two candidates, two missions, one state.

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Hello. How are you all?

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: How's it going, Tampa?

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

CROWLEY: Within reach of the nomination, Barack Obama campaigned in general election mode along Florida's I-4 Corridor, where most statewide elections are either won or lost.

OBAMA: We can't afford four more years of George Bush foreign policy. That's why we can't afford John McCain.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

CROWLEY: While Obama bulks up his staff for a general election run, Hillary Clinton, $20 million in debt, struggles to keep her primary bid viable.

She used Florida as a backdrop, pressing Democrats to count the results from Florida and Michigan, even though both broke party rules by moving up their primary dates. If a Democrat wants to argue let every vote count, the place to go is Palm Beach County, home of the butterfly ballot, which helped tangle up the 2000 election.

CLINTON: You learned the hard way what happens when your votes aren't counted and the candidate with fewer votes is declared the winner.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

CROWLEY: The primary season is about delegates, not popular vote. But Clinton believes superdelegate holdouts may come her way if she can accumulate a higher number of total votes cast during the season.

CLINTON: And we believe the popular vote is the truest expression of your will.

CROWLEY: In the delegate count, Clinton wants Florida and Michigan seated according to the results. That's highly improbable. The party does not want to reward rule-breakers, especially if the results could swing the nomination. Clinton remains undeterred and tireless. After a 25-minute speech dedicated to the delegate issue, she pressed the flesh and then returned to grab the mike, one last pitch with increasing urgency.

CLINTON: I had a bunch of people ask me how you can help. Well, in addition to what you're doing in Florida, please go to my Web site, HillaryClinton.com, sign the petition, and, if you can afford it, make a contribution so we can keep going.

Thank you.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CROWLEY: For her final event today in Florida, Hillary Clinton will arrive here in Coral Gables later on this evening.

I can tell you there are already signs up that say, "Count our votes." And, frankly, Wolf, Hillary Clinton couldn't have said it better herself.

BLITZER: All right. Thanks very much, Candy, for that -- Candy Crowley reporting from Florida.

There's no evidence right now John McCain may, may be moving forward on his search for a running mate. Several sources confirming to CNN McCain has invited several Republicans widely seen as V.P. prospects to his Arizona home this weekend. They include the Louisiana governor, Bobby Jindal, the Florida governor, Charlie Crist, and the former Massachusetts Governor and ex-McCain rival Mitt Romney.

"The New York Times" is also reporting that another V.P. prospect, Minnesota's Governor Tim Pawlenty, will not be a part of the group because he has a wedding to attend this weekend.

McCain senior adviser Charlie Black is telling CNN this is a social weekend, and that no one will be interviewed.

We will have much more on this story coming up with the best political team on television.

McCain is staying largely out of the campaign spotlight today, but the Republican nominee in waiting is planning ahead. He's looking for more ways to reach out to African-American voters, despite the fact he likely will face off against the nation's first black presidential nominee.

Mary Snow is picking up the story for us.

What does McCain have planned, Mary, right now?

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, he has a couple of things planned, Wolf. One of them is that he plans to attend this summer's convention of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. And that is a detail he revealed to "Essence" magazine, his first interview with an African-American publication since becoming the presumptive Republican nominee.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SNOW (voice-over): In his "Essence" magazine interview, Senator John McCain says he'll go to places where he can continue a dialogue with African-Americans. And that includes the NAACP convention in July. He didn't attend last year.

It's part of McCain's effort to reach out to black Americans. In April, on the 40th anniversary of Martin Luther King's assassination, McCain admitted he made a mistake in voting against making the King remembrance a federal holiday.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I would remind you that we can all be a little late sometimes in doing the right thing.

SNOW: He also toured New Orleans' Ninth Ward and visited the site in Selma where civil rights marchers had been beaten four decades ago. He was asked about the fact that a majority of the people in the crowd who came out to see him were white, not black.

MCCAIN: There will be many people who will not vote for me. But I'm going to be the president of all the people.

SNOW: African-Americans are one of the most reliable voting blocs for Democrats. And one political observer says, making it even more challenging for Republicans this year is the Bush administration's handling of Katrina, the economy, and the war.

RONALD WALTERS, PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND: This year is going to be even tougher for the Republicans to get a fair hearing from African-Americans.

SNOW: Political observers point out that, in 2006, there were several African-American Republicans running for high-profile offices, for example, Ken Blackwell. He ran for Ohio governor two years ago and lost. Now a columnist for The New York Sun, Blackwell and others note the drop-off of Republican candidates who are African- American.

KENNETH BLACKWELL, FORMER OHIO SECRETARY OF STATE: The Republican brand is in trouble. And it's just not a brand in trouble with African-Americans. It's in trouble with working-class whites. It's in trouble with a whole cross section of voter groups.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SNOW: McCain has been attempting to reach out to a number of those groups, as he also hopes to sway moderates and some Democrats -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Mary, thanks very much.

Let's come back to Jack Cafferty. He's got "The Cafferty File."

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: I wonder how well he thinks he's going to do among that group of voters?

BLITZER: Well, Hillary Clinton has not done all that well, so I wonder if John McCain thinks he can do much better. But reaching out to the African-American community is very important because it sends a message to a lot of white voters that he's doing the right thing.

CAFFERTY: I understand, but political calculation, this is, you know, a wasted effort.

Day of reckoning may soon be upon us. You're not going to want to hear this. Crude oil hit another record high today, $133 a barrel, after a government report that stockpiles of gasoline and oil actually fell unexpectedly.

And that isn't the worst of it. The worst of it is this. Fears of oil shortages within five years pushed long-term oil futures to almost $140 a barrel yesterday. "Financial Times" in London reports, veteran traders say they have never seen anything like it, such a jump, and that they believe more and more investors are betting that oil production is soon now going to peak.

One influential investor says he thinks oil prices will hit a buck and a half, $150 a barrel, by the end of this year, and Goldman Sachs -- a report I told you about a couple of weeks ago -- predicting oil could top $200 a barrel within two years. And that could mean $7 or $8 a gallon gasoline for all of us.

This all comes as global demand for oil is increasing much faster than supply, especially in places like India, China, the Middle East, South Africa. Crude oil prices have more than doubled in the last year, something most Americans are feeling at the pump now. A gallon of gas now costs $3.81 on average. According to the AAA, the price of a gallon of regular unleaded gas hit a record high for the 14th day in a row. That has never happened before.

So, what are we going to do when gas gets to $7 a gallon?

Here's the question: What should the United States be doing right now to address possible oil shortages that could occur within five years?

Go to CNN.com/caffertyfile.com, post a comment on my blog.

This stuff's been coming at us for 30 years and we have done virtually nothing about it, and now it's here.

BLITZER: No short-term solutions on this one.

CAFFERTY: No, because there hasn't been any planning.

BLITZER: Yes. OK. Jack, thank you.

BLITZER: He became a punching bag for Republicans and was later criticized for not fighting back. The former Democratic presidential nominee Michael Dukakis has a message for this year's nominee. My interview with him, that's coming up next. John McCain hosting a meeting with some high-profile Republicans. Is it a social gathering or a vetting of potential running mates?

And he calls it cold-blooded, calculated and revolting -- Bill Clinton on charges he and his wife played the race card in this presidential campaign. The best political team on television will tackle these issues and more -- right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: The closer Barack Obama gets to clinching the party's presidential nomination, the more Democrats are bracing themselves for anything Republicans may throw at him. That may include allegations of elitism, questions about patriotism, lines of attack that have defeated some past Democratic nominees.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: And joining us now, the former governor of Massachusetts, the former Democratic presidential nominee, Michael Dukakis.

Governor, thanks very much for joining us.

MICHAEL DUKAKIS (D), FORMER MASSACHUSETTS GOVERNOR: Wolf, good to be with you.

BLITZER: I know you're still neutral among these Democratic candidates.

DUKAKIS: Right.

BLITZER: But here's the question, because I think your experience, it always pops up. Is Barack Obama tough enough right now to take on the Republicans and John McCain?

DUKAKIS: Yes. No question about it. If you listen carefully to his speech after his victory in North Carolina, it's entirely clear, Wolf, that he knows what's coming at him and he's ready for it.

BLITZER: I raise the question because I went back and read The New York Times after your defeat back in 1988. They said this -- and I will quote it to you -- "Mr. Dukakis, a stubborn man, was determined to run what he viewed as a positive, issue-oriented campaign. He hit Mr. Bush occasionally, but until the final weeks he would never commit himself to the kind of repeated daily offensive that was needed."

What do you think about that?

DUKAKIS: I agree with the criticism. It was a great mistake. It was my decision not to respond to the Bush attack campaign for weeks. And it was a huge mistake. And no Democratic nominee will ever make that again, and Barack Obama will never make that mistake.

BLITZER: Because Bill Clinton in '92 and '96, whenever he was attacked, he counterpunched right away. He didn't waste any time. Some will say that John Kerry in 2004, that swift-boating, he waited too long to counter on that.

Did he wait too long?

DUKAKIS: Yes, he waited too long. And Clinton didn't.

As a matter of fact, you'll remember, Wolf, that Clinton had a unit in his campaign of about 10 people, some of whom worked for me in '88, who did nothing but deal with the Bush attack campaign in '92. And it was just as tough on Clinton as it was on me.

BLITZER: So give me the advice -- give us the advice for Obama.

DUKAKIS: Let me say this -- to be ready, to respond immediately, to take the fight to McCain, and never to let up. Now, that doesn't mean that you can't be positive, because the American people are looking for a very positive agenda for Barack Obama and they're going to get it from him. But you cannot let the Republicans do what they did to me and what they did to Kerry.

BLITZER: Because you know what they're going to do, the Reverend Wright, the William Ayers from the Weather Underground.

DUKAKIS: Sure.

BLITZER: They're going to go after him on all these issues.

DUKAKIS: Right.

BLITZER: What the Democrats did is going to be small potatoes to what's in store for him.

DUKAKIS: Well, but McCain is very vulnerable. I mean, his campaign is loaded with lobbyists.

As a matter of fact, as you know, right now he's throwing them overboard one after another. I mean, there are lots and lots of weaknesses there. Not only that, he's a supporter of what I think has to be the dumbest war we've ever waged. On economic policy he's nowhere.

So there's plenty to go after. But you can't let these folks do what they did to me and they did to Kerry. And I don't think there's any chance at all that Obama's going to let them do it. He's a tough guy, he's a smart guy, and he's not going to let them get away with this.

BLITZER: Here are some numbers that came out of the Kentucky exit polls yesterday. Numbers that the McCain folks and the Republicans love, but very worrisome to Democrats.

We asked Clinton supporters in Kentucky who they would vote for if she doesn't get the nomination. Forty-two percent said they would vote for McCain, 33 percent said they'd vote for Obama, 23 percent said they won't vote. Those are Hillary Clinton supporters.

DUKAKIS: Right. BLITZER: And we've seen not as dire as that, but we've seen similar results in other exit polls, whether in West Virginia, Ohio, or Pennsylvania.

Those have got to be really worrisome numbers to you.

DUKAKIS: Well, they're worrisome, but not if my party does what I hope it will do. And that is organize every single one of the 200,000 precincts in all of the 50 states of the United States, something we haven't done since Jack Kennedy ran for the presidency. I didn't do it very well. And I'm serious, Wolf.

I think we've got to stop buying into this red/blue nonsense. You know, there are a dozen states that are supposed to be red states with Democratic governors. And we've been regularly conceding these states to the other side.

So, I want to see a precinct captain in six-block or neighborhood captains in every single one of the 2,000 precincts in the United States. If we do that, we're going to win those people over. If we think we're going to win it on television, then we're kidding ourselves.

BLITZER: The other day Barack Obama said to the Republicans, Lay off my wife, Michelle Obama, some of the comments that she's made. Kitty Dukakis, your wife, was criticized.

Is going after the spouse of a candidate fair game in this kind of contest for the presidency?

DUKAKIS: I don't think so whether it's Michelle Obama or Cindy McCain, for that matter. And both sides have sinned on this.

Look, it's not our spouses that are running for the presidency. And while they're involved and engaged, and I think people want to see your family, they want to get a sense that you've got strong family ties, you care deeply about your family and so on, I think this kind of stuff is really out of bounds. And I would hope that neither side would do that.

There's plenty to go at on both sides when it comes to the issues that are facing them and are going to face us in the years to come. But I think they ought to get off this stuff, frankly.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: The former Democratic presidential nominee, Michael Dukakis, speaking with me here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

He says they have a lot in common, beginning with similar childhoods. Bill Clinton says he gets Barack Obama, but that doesn't mean Obama should necessarily be the president, at least not yet -- the best political team on television standing by to assess.

And a first-of-a-kind tax on global warming. Air pollution regulators vote to impose fees on businesses that emit greenhouse gases.

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

BLITZER: John McCain calls Barack Obama's willingness to talk to U.S. adversaries -- and I'm quoting now -- reckless. Obama sees it differently.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: That's what John Kennedy did. That's what Ronald Reagan did. That's what Barack Obama will do when I'm president of the United States of America.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Can Barack Obama fend off McCain's nearly daily jabs at his judgment and experience when it comes to national security? The best political team on television is standing by.

Plus, Bill Clinton now says he's revolted and way over being hurt. You are going to find out what he's talking. That's coming up.

And is John McCain launching his V.P. search in earnest or just planning a friendly cookout with some big-name Republicans? We are going to tell you what we're learning about his weekend plans.

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

Happening now, a high-powered house party at John McCain's ranch. Is he auditioning possible running mates? We are going to take you inside the veepstakes and show you who is invited.

Also, campaign cash -- you are going to find out who's got what, where the advantage lies, and how the runners-up can compete in November.

Plus, Bill Clinton speaking out about the so-called race card in some very strong language. He says it hurt him at first, but what about now? All of this coming up, plus the best political team on television.

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

Several sources now confirming to our own John King that the Florida governor, Charlie Crist, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, and former presidential candidate Mitt Romney will all be at John McCain's home in Arizona this weekend. All are rumored to be prospective running mates, but the McCain camp tells John that this is a social visit, not -- repeat, not -- part of the interview process.

So, what do we know about the Republican veepstakes?

Here's CNN's Dana Bash -- Dana.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, John McCain and his campaign aides pride themselves on taking and answering questions on just about any subject. But when it comes to the process of picking a running mate, they clam up, though there may be some clues as to who may be on the list.

(voice-over): Follow John McCain around the country and sometimes his campaign events look a lot like job interviews.

MIKE HUCKABEE (R), FORMER ARKANSAS GOVERNOR: And we have got to make sure that America makes the right decision in November.

BASH: Whether it's a bus ride with Mike Huckabee or a waltz through New Orleans with Louisiana's young governor, the question is always asked.

QUESTION: Senator, have you considered Governor Jindal as a possible running mate?

BASH: And the answer is always this.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're not talking about the process of our selection process, because it's -- it leads quickly to invasion of privacy.

BASH: And this.

MCCAIN: I can say that both of these fine gentlemen have earned a major role in our Republican Party.

BASH: Mum's the word in McCain land, but knowledgeable Republicans say there are some running mate candidates to take seriously, like Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty. The 47-year-old Republican brings youth to the 71-year-old's ticket, backing from conservatives and independents and a swing state and unwavering support for McCain.

Former Ohio Congressman Rob Portman, also young, hailing from a pivotal state, and the affable former budget director helps with fiscal conservatives.

And, more and more, Republicans point to Mitt Romney. McCain's former rival has proven lately he can carry McCain's message and brings economic experience.

But talk to any Republican about the process who knows McCain and they say this... BILL BENNETT, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It's mostly going to be his gut. He's a guy who governs by his convictions and my guess is he'll select a vice president based on his convictions.

BASH: Thanks to Jon Stewart, there is someone we can rule out.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JON STEWART, HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW": Senator Hillary Clinton.

MCCAIN: No. I don't want to look in the camera and say I'd ever do that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BASH: One thing Republicans inside and outside the McCain campaign say they've learned is despite the buzz, the publicity and the suspense around picking a running mate, in the end, it's the candidate at the top of the ticket who either brings in or doesn't bring in the voters -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Dana, thank you.

Let's get some more now on McCain's possible running mates. For that, we're joined by our chief national correspondent, John King; our own Jack Cafferty; and our senior political analyst, Gloria Borger. They're all part of the best political team on television.

John, let me start with you. You've been speaking to highly placed sources in the percent McCain campaign. He's inviting a bunch of relatively young governors -- Republican governors out there tomorrow, over the weekend.

What's going on?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A few other people, too. Businessman Fred Smith, businesswoman Meg Whitman. And what they're trying to say is hey, John and Cindy McCain, when they can get off the campaign trail, they love to bring in friends -- some political friends, some personal associates. Let's have a barbecue. Let's fire up the grill, we'll have some fun.

Of course, it's going to lead to wait a minute, where are we in the process here?

There's no question those three governors, former Governor Romney and the other two give our viewers, are among those being considered. But they insist not interviews. They even insist it's not about comfort level.

But I did talk to one member of the McCain inner circle. He said, look, of course it's about relationship building, not just with the governors, but with the other guests, as well, as McCain steps more into the nominee role. So is it officially part of the process?

They insist no. We'll take them at their word.

But does it help?

BLITZER: Gloria...

KING: Of course, it does.

BLITZER: You've been doing some reporting, too, Gloria.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Right.

BLITZER: What are you hearing?

BORGER: The same thing exactly that John is hearing, in that McCain likes to grill at his...

(LAUGHTER)

BORGER: ...at his little ranch out there. And he has been inviting people over...

BLITZER: He likes to grill barbecue, not grill press (INAUDIBLE).

BORGER: Well, as one -- Charlie Black, actually, a senior adviser, said to me, the only kind of grilling he's going to be doing is on the barbecue. He's not going to be interviewing people. He wants to say thank you to people, I was told, for working on his behalf. And, also, it is a way, as John was saying, about building these social relationships. And some of these people are clearly going to be on his list.

BLITZER: Is it going to make a difference for McCain who he picks, do you think?

A lot of people, you know, watch it very closely. But in the end, they don't vote for a vice president, they vote for a president.

CAFFERTY: Does it ever? Yes, does it ever matter?

It's a -- as John was saying, it's a 72-hour story when they get down to making their decision. And then after that, it's pretty much forgotten. I don't think -- you know, we're not going to elect a president based on whether or not Mike Huckabee is on the ticket. By the way, he won't be on the ticket.

BORGER: But there is a story line, though...

BLITZER: You predict...

BORGER: ...I think, you know, and...

CAFFERTY: Well, yes. But and it's good for us and stuff. BORGER: ...and there is, you know, McCain may be younger and for Obama, maybe national security or something. I mean, you know, there is a story line, but it's only a few days.

KING: You spoke to Mike Dukakis earlier today. That was my first presidential campaign. Remember, he picks Lloyd Bentsen and everyone says what a good pick. He goes to Texas, the senior statesman, an elder Democrat, solid, great pick. George H.W. Bush picks Dan Quayle. Everyone says this is a debacle.

CAFFERTY: Yes.

KING: This guy is not ready. George H.W. Bush won 40 states.

BLITZER: Yes. That's a good point...

CAFFERTY: And despite having Dan Quayle on the ticket, he served out his time.

BLITZER: And even though Dukakis was way ahead in the polls right after the Democratic convention.

Let's talk about foreign policy for a moment. It seems every single day, Gloria, we hear John McCain hammering Barack Obama about being naive, irresponsible in his foreign policy, in his national security stance.

BORGER: Yes.

BLITZER: It's a pretty smart strategy for McCain right now, because he feels comfortable on this turf.

BORGER: Yes. I think it's the only strategy we see coming from McCain right now. The word naive that you mentioned keeps coming up in speeches again and again and again. It's a way to play the experience card by sort of doing a brush-off and saying look, you know, I've been around maybe 30 years in Washington, but I'm not naive when it comes to dealing with these foreign leaders. You need someone tough enough. And I'm not going to capitulate to foreign leaders.

CAFFERTY: Wasn't there a story today about Syria and Israel are going to convene peace talks?

BLITZER: Yes. They've been meeting secretly, apparently, for a year in Turkey.

CAFFERTY: They've been talking to each other.

BLITZER: Yes.

CAFFERTY: Imagine that, Syria and Israel. They are enemies. They've been talking. I mean this nonsense about, you know, we should get hysterical about whether somebody gets a cigar from Raul Castro, it's just -- it's baloney. We've got $7 a gallon gasoline in the pipeline, John.

You know, where are you on the economy?

BLITZER: But he's not...

CAFFERTY: Oh, I remember...

BLITZER: He's not going to let up, though, on this, is he?

KING: No, he's not going to let up. But he believes even if you don't agree with him on all the specifics, like meeting with foreign leaders, which is -- McCain says helps him. But let's just say if people out there disagree with him, if you're debating foreign policy and national security, you're at least debating on his turf. People disagree with John McCain on the war in Iraq. He would take that debate over a debate about the economy any day of the week.

BORGER: Um-hmm.

KING: They also point out, Wolf, that they think -- and, again, we'll see how this plays out over the next five-and-a-half months. They think they get the better candidate to be against here, because of Barack Obama's relative inexperience on the national stage, number one. And because like John McCain, he doesn't have a giant economic portfolio, either. Hillary Clinton could at least claim to have been part of the White House when the economy was booming. Someone would say oh, she was only first lady. But she has more experience than Barack Obama does around the economy, too.

So the McCain campaign thinks inexperience, naive, not ready works.

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

He calls it cold-blooded and revolting -- Bill Clinton. He's now speaking out about Barack Obama's campaign strategy and the so-called race card. There's a new interview that's just been released with the former president. We have details of what he's saying -- and very strong language. You're going to want to stick around and hear this.

Plus, the battle for campaign cash -- you're going to find out who's winning the race that could determine the election.

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Barack Obama raising almost three times as much cash as John McCain. So how can the Republican compete if Obama gets the Democratic nomination?

Let's continue our discussion with the best political team on television.

Obama, in April alone, raised $31 million. Hillary Clinton raised $21 million. McCain raised $18 million. He's got an amazing fundraising capability, Barack Obama. CAFFERTY: Yes, amazing is a good word. Two numbers -- 1.5, 272. He's got 1.5 million donors. He's raised $272 million since he started running for president. Hillary Clinton is $20 million in debt. Anybody who thinks the DNC is going to change the rules so they kick that kind of money out and put somebody who is $20 million in debt in is smoking something.

(LAUGHTER)

BLITZER: Good point. Money talks in this business.

BORGER: A couple of things on this. McCain's $18 million is low in comparison to the Democrats, but it is the best month he has had as the Republican candidate. Also, another thing to keep in mind is that while Obama is doing well -- and Hillary is also doing well on the money front -- the Democratic National Committee itself is running 10 times behind the Republican National Committee in terms of fundraising.

KING: It still, though, is evidence that this is a year where the fundamentals favor the Democrats -- the fundraising, views on the economy, views on President Bush. All of the fundamentals line up for the Democrats. And there are Republicans our age around this table who have never lived through a cycle like this, where the Democrats are going to be at least even and most likely raise more money than them.

So this is unfamiliar territory for the Republicans and one of the many dynamics that suggests the Democrats should win. And yet McCain remains, at least for now, competitive.

BLITZER: A lot of people say -- a lot of Democrats say if they can't win this time, they might as well just, you know, close up shop and...

(LAUGHTER)

BORGER: Well, remember, McCain ran when he was out of money, remember, last July?

BLITZER: "People" magazine, our sister publication, has an interview with Bill Clinton in the new issue that's about to hit the newsstands. We got a little preview.

Bill Clinton says this: "I think I understand him" -- referring to Barack Obama -- "There are a lot of similarities in our childhoods and things that I think I get what he's doing. But I do think it's better to have made a lot of decisions before you get to be president."

So...

CAFFERTY: The question was do you like him?

BLITZER: Yes.

CAFFERTY: Of course he didn't answer it. (LAUGHTER)

CAFFERTY: That was the question to Bill Clinton...

BLITZER: Yes.

CAFFERTY: Do you like Barack Obama?

What you just read was the answer.

BLITZER: I mean, you know, he's saying some nice things, but then saying well, maybe it's important that he has a little bit more experience before he gets to the White House. That's the point he's...

CAFFERTY: Yes, he should have been governor of Arkansas.

BLITZER: ...he's trying to make.

CAFFERTY: He should have been governor of Arkansas...

BORGER: And maybe that they...

CAFFERTY: He could go right in there.

BORGER: And maybe that they both had single mothers at one point or they came from childhoods where there was an awful lot of struggle. So he kind of feels Obama or channels Obama, to a certain degree, on that.

KING: He feels his pain.

BORGER: I guess, yes, or whatever.

(LAUGHTER)

CAFFERTY: You know what they both are is very charismatic, both of them.

BLITZER: Extremely.

KING: There are a lot of Democrats who say Barack Obama has the skills that remind them of Bill Clinton. Paul Begala was here last night, who was around Clinton all those years, Wolf, as you well know. He says, you know, if you look at the candidates in the race, Obama reminds him of Bill Clinton more than Hillary Clinton does...

BORGER: He campaigns (ph).

KING: ...in terms of skills as a candidate.

BLITZER: Here's another quote that sort of jumped out at me. When he was asked in this "People" magazine interview, when people say he and Hillary Clinton have played the race card in this campaign against Barack Obama, this is what Clinton says: "I was really hurt about it at first. I am way over being hurt. This was cold-blooded, calculated, manipulated and a revolting strategy." What do you think?

He's angry at this point.

BORGER: Well, he's -- I was trying to figure it out, because that is what some in the Obama campaign would say about the Clintons. Now he's turning it on its head and saying that their are charges against him for playing the race card were coldly calculating and manipulating and therefore terrible, because they charged -- it's only a convoluted reasoning that...

KING: He's questioning why they fired the second shot. He fired the first one in South Carolina, when he compared Barack Obama to Jesse Jackson.

BLITZER: Yes.

KING: The message being this is interesting, but it's not real. This guy is never going to be the nominee.

BORGER: Right.

KING: He's not big enough to be the nominee. That was what the comparison was meant to be -- good, interesting, maybe good for the party, but this guy is not a serious player, comparing him to...

CAFFERTY: Fairy tale (INAUDIBLE).

KING: Comparing him to Jesse Jackson. So had Bill Clinton not said that, I don't think the other things that followed could have or would have happened. And we wouldn't be having this conversation.

CAFFERTY: Well, and wasn't it right after Indiana that Hillary Clinton said -- and I'm paraphrasing here, but I'm close -- gee, it looks like his support among working people -- white working people -- is beginning to soften again, white people are voting for me?

BLITZER: She told me in that interview the other day, she said that was one of the dumbest things she's ever said.

CAFFERTY: So, I mean, you know, what's Bill Clinton's (INAUDIBLE)?

BORGER: Yes, but he was obviously hurt because, as he also said in this interview, he said, you know, if you put my record -- stack my record on civil rights against anyone else's record, it's going to hold up just fine.

BLITZER: And I think that's a fair point because...

BORGER: And that is fair. That is fair.

BLITZER: ...on this issue of civil rights and relations with African-Americans...

BORGER: Absolutely. BLITZER: ...both Clintons have had stellar records over the years. And he was dubbed America's first black President, John, as you well remember.

KING: I would not turn down an invitation to the McCain ranch for grilling, but I would much rather be invited to the post-campaign seance when the Clintons and the Obamas -- no matter who wins -- have the get together, roast the marshmallows and find a way to sing "Kumbaya." that's the meeting I would like to be at.

BLITZER: All right. Maybe they'll invite you. You never know.

BORGER: Guess what, you're not invited?

Yes.

KING: I'm not going to be invited. No.

(LAUGHTER)

BLITZER: Thanks very much, guys.

Jack, don't leave. We've got "The Cafferty File" coming up.

What should the U.S. be doing now to address possible oil shortages within five years? That's our question this hour. Jack Cafferty will be with your e-mail.

Plus, details of a new endorsement for Barack Obama. You're going to find out why some may see this one as a surprise.

Stick around. Lots more news happening right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Let's go back to Jack. He's got The Cafferty File -- Jack.

CAFFERTY: The question this hour is: What should the U.S. be doing now to address possible oil shortages that could occur within five years?

Deb in Lancaster, P.A.: "One, work to decrease our mental, as well as physical dependence on fossil fuel. Invest money in alternative fuel production. Put the automakers' feet to the fire. The technology for very efficient cars exists. Quit kowtowing to big oil and make these cars happen now. And elect Obama because he gets it and won't have to genuflect before the lobbyists, giving us all a chance to finally get some of this stuff done. Our grandchildren's future depends on it."

Tom in New Jersey writes: "Our foreign policy of literally and figuratively holding hands with the Saudis and other oil producers, as well as huge oil corporations, is the primary reason we have this problem. The only thing the government needs to do is stop being sweethearts with the oil industry and give alternative options a chance."

Deanne in Baytown, Texas: "I think we ought to start making cities and towns more walker and biker friendly. I live only 10 minutes from where I work and I'd walk if there were sidewalks. That way we could save gas and at the same time cut down on heart disease."

Kevin in Delaware: "We should open up Alaska and eastern Gulf of Mexico to oil exploration. All we have to do is say we're going to do it. This could make us oil independent. Prices would drop just on the threat."

Mark writes: "It's simple. Hourly workers should be give given the option to work four 10-hour workdays versus the five day work week and telecommuting should be supported through government tax incentives. Americans already work more than any other industrialized country. We'd see a dramatic decrease in our oil requirements."

And Michael in Maine writes: "What Americans have always done -- complain when they pay up at the pump and then drive off in their SUVs shaking their heads at the price."

If you didn't see your e-mail here, you can go to my blog at CNN.com/caffertyfile. Look for yours there among hundreds of others.

BLITZER: You know, people go and fill up their tank and there's a lot of sticker shock every time.

CAFFERTY: Yes.

BLITZER: I don't know if you've done it lately, but it's amazing.

CAFFERTY: The little station I go to in Cedar Grove, the price went up seven cents in three days. And my tank wasn't even empty and it cost me like $65. I mean it's like what?

BLITZER: Yes.

CAFFERTY: It's crazy.

BLITZER: It's amazing what's going on. But you know what, as much as it costs here, if you go to London or Europe, get ready for $6, $7, even $8 a gallon.

CAFFERTY: Some people suggest that if we get to $5 or $6 a gallon, it will due more to reduce consumption and change automobile technology than all the politics and theorists and all the rest of it, that the market will drive our conversion to more fuel-efficient cars and conservation.

BLITZER: Probably, because money talks.

CAFFERTY: Again.

BLITZER: Yes.

CAFFERTY: You've got it.

BLITZER: Jack, thanks.

CAFFERTY: Sure.

BLITZER: Let's check our Political Ticker right now.

A new endorsement for Barack Obama today from the United Mine Workers of America. The union is supporting him despite his big defeats in Kentucky and West Virginia -- coal producing states where many of the union's members work and vote. The mine workers had originally the mine workers had originally backed John Edwards, who now supports Barack Obama. It's but the latest example of Democratic allies rallying behind Obama as the likely nominee.

Former President Jimmy Carter says he thinks Hillary Clinton would agree to be Barack Obama's running mate, but Carter says it's highly unlikely Obama will offer her the job. But he adds -- and I'm quoting now -- "it's not impossible." Carter says he doesn't have any inside knowledge about a possible Democratic ticket. He has hinted he supports Obama, but hasn't officially made an endorsement.

The president is backing another measure that bans DNA discrimination. Today, Mr. Bush signed into law legislation that prevents employers and insurance companies from denying work, promotions or health coverage to people who find out through genetic testing that they're prone to certain diseases.

A new kind of tax on global warming. Air pollution regulators in the San Francisco area today voted overwhelmingly to approve new fees on businesses that emit greenhouse gases. More than 2,500 businesses will have to pay the fees. Some power plants could pay more than $50,000 per year, but planners estimate that most businesses would pay less than $1.

Remember, for the latest political news any time, check out CNNPolitics.com. The Ticker is the number one political news blog on the Web and that's also where you can read my latest blog post. I posted one just before the show.

YouTube is resisting an appeal from Senator Joe Lieberman to remove all videos from terrorist -- Islamic terrorist organizations. YouTube says that unless the videos show gratuitous violence or hate, they are considered free speech.

Let's go to our Internet reporter, Abbi Tatton. She's watching this story.

Abbi, what do these videos show?

ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Wolf, they're not hard to find online. Branded with logos from Al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations, some show addresses by bin Laden. Others show attacks on American troops in Iraq.

And Senator Joe Lieberman has written a letter to Google saying all of these are disseminating propaganda and they should be taken down.

Well, YouTube is resisting. While the company has taken down some of the videos that violate their own guidelines against gratuitous violence and hate speech, they're saying the other videos are free speech. And they're pointing Senator Lieberman to their own guidelines, that state that it's up to the Web users -- the YouTube community -- to police all the hundreds of thousands of videos that get uploaded each day.

Well, Senator Lieberman is saying that's not enough and he's gone back to Google to say that you should reconsider your policies -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Thanks very much, for that, Abbi.

John McCain's wife let's her hair down -- literally. Cindy McCain posing in "Vogue" magazine, sporting a new casual look. We're going to tell you what some strategists are saying about why she's "dressing down."

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Here's a look at some of the Hot Shots coming from our friends at the "Associated Press" -- pictures from the campaign trail in Florida.

In Miami, Senator John McCain sips a cup of espresso at a cafe in Little Havana.

In Tampa, young Democrats wait patiently for a campaign rally to begin.

Behind the scenes, Senator Barack Obama also waits before speaking to the crowd.

And in Boca Raton in Florida, Senator Hillary Clinton autographs a sign for a supporter. The Democratic Party stripped the state of its convention delegates after it moved up its primary.

Some of this hour's Hot Shots -- pictures worth a thousand words.

John McCain's wife Cindy is taking center stage in a whole new way. She's featured in a spread in "Vogue" magazine -- a move possibly aimed at a very specific goal.

Let's go back to Carol. She's looking at this story for us.

What are you seeing, Carol? What are you hearing?

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, you know, most of us don't really know much about Cindy McCain except she's really, really rich. But if you take a peak at "Vogue" magazine, you may get a more well-rounded view.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COSTELLO (voice-over): Ooh la-la -- Cindy McCain in "Vogue" magazine looks spectacular, lounging at her seaside condo sans John McCain -- feet bare, wearing size zero jeans. She projects an image quite unlike the Cindy McCain we see on the campaign trail.

SUSAN MACMANUS, UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH FLORIDA: So far, Cindy McCain has been low key. She's been sort of taking the traditional role of standing by her husband's side at events and clapping and smiling and being supportive of her husband.

COSTELLO: A role critics say makes Mrs. McCain look like -- well, Glenn Close in the movie "The Stepford Wives".

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GLENN CLOSE, ACTRESS: Well, that's all marvelous.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GLORIA ROEMER, REPUBLICAN CONSULTANT: Well, you know, there's that saying that's been going on for years, you know, don't hate me because I'm beautiful. And that may apply here, because, you know, she is very attractive. You know, she can't help it.

COSTELLO: Roemer says Mrs. McCain's exterior belies who she really is. Mrs. McCain isn't perfect. She suffered a stroke four years ago and worked hard to overcome its affects. She donates tons of time and money to charitable causes. What voters do know about her -- well, she's enormously wealthy. And she says she won't release her tax returns ever -- which says to voters, you're not one of us. Hence "Vogue" and the jeans.

MACMANUS: Jeans are as all American as apple pie. And in the fashion world, no matter what they look like, they're in fashion. And so it's no surprise that Cindy McCain would choose a spread with jeans and a nice shirt.

COSTELLO: Interestingly, while Cindy McCain chose jeans for her "Vogue" spread, her likely competitor, Michelle Obama, chose a traditional black dress with pearl earrings for her "Vogue" spread. As "The Washington Post" described it, it was if Michelle Obama was saying I am not some scary other. I am Camelot with a tan.

Whether these images will sway voters one way or another remains to be seen. But we're still in the getting to know you stage.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COSTELLO: And, in short, expect both would-be first ladies to be much more visible in the near future, so you can get to know them -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, thanks very much.

I'm looking forward to reading that article and seeing the pictures.

Carol, see you tomorrow.

Remember, for the latest political news any time, check out CNNPolitics.com. That's also where you can download our new political screensaver and where you can read my latest blog post.

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

We'll see you back here tomorrow.

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