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How Will Obama and Clinton Make Amends?; Carter Against 'Dream Ticket'; United Airlines Employees Grounded

Aired June 4, 2008 - 17:00   ET


Happening now, an historic victory propelling Barack Obama into this, the next critical phase of his quest for the White House.

Will Hillary Clinton be at his side, a former rival turned running mate?

Also, find out how Obama came from far behind in just a matter of months to topple one of the most powerful political machines in modern American history.

And with the battle lines drawn, Obama and John McCain both right now setting their sights on a crucial voting bloc that Hillary Clinton had cornered. We're going to show you what they're doing to win over the women who wanted Hillary Clinton.

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

Newspaper editors across the country didn't give a second thought today's front page. The only decision to make was the headline and how to convey the magnitude of Barack Obama's victory and presumptive win of the Democratic presidential nomination.

But rival Hillary Clinton still has not conceded the race and appears -- appears to have embarked on a new campaign to be Obama's running mate. CNN's Suzanne Malveaux is here in THE SITUATION ROOM watching all of this unfold.

So what are we hearing from both of these campaigns, Suzanne, today?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, there are some things that really need to happen. Delicacy, as well as respect and time -- that is what advisers say is needed to bring these two candidates and two sides together.

But really, the question is how much time?

Now, most Clinton advisers will concede that they say it's going to happen by the end of the week.


MALVEAUX (voice-over): The day after she refused to concede the race to her rival Barack Obama, an apparent olive branch.

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It has been an honor to contest these primaries with him. It is an honor to call him, my friend. And let me be very clear. I know that Senator Obama will be a good friend to Israel.

MALVEAUX: Hillary Clinton before a pro-Israel lobbying group. Obama addressing the same crowd.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: And I want to publicly acknowledge Hillary Clinton for the outstanding race that she has run.

MALVEAUX: Aides say the two bumped into each other in the hallway -- allegedly by chance.

OBAMA: I just spoke to her today. And, you know, we're going to be having a conversation in the coming weeks. I'm very confident about how unified the Democratic Party is going to be to win in November.

MALVEAUX: But before that happens, Democratic insiders say Hillary Clinton has to decide what role she'll play, now having lost the nomination.

CLINTON: A lot of people are asking what does Hillary want?

MALVEAUX: The vice presidential slot on Obama's ticket is one thing she's publicly acknowledged. Clinton's close friend, billionaire Bob Johnson, is among a group of high-powered supporters who are pushing the idea. Johnson has consulted with Clinton about his lobbying efforts and has sent a letter urging the Congressional Black Caucus to endorse the so-called dream ticket.

BOB JOHNSON, FOUNDER, B.E.T.: There's no question that Senator Clinton will do whatever she's asked to do for the party. And she would certainly, as she said to some of the New York delegation, entertain the idea, if it's offered.

MALVEAUX: But Clinton's campaigning for the number two spot, even tacitly, is seen by some as a risky strategy.

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: It's one thing to signal that yes, I would be interested in talking. It's another thing entirely to put pressure on Barack Obama in a public way -- you must take her as a price of getting her voters to support you.

MALVEAUX: And for one of those long time Clinton supporters, there is disappointment.

HILARY ROSEN, DEMOCRATIC PARTY ACTIVIST: It was hard for me to come to terms with the fact that she's lost. But now that she has, it's time to get on with it. We're -- her voters and supporters are not part of a negotiation with Senator Obama. We are not bargaining chips.


MALVEAUX: And Obama aides say that any serious discussions about an offer are premature. But today Obama did assemble a three-member team to begin that vetting process. Members on that team include Caroline Kennedy and former Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder.

BLITZER: And Jim Johnson...

MALVEAUX: And Jim Johnson, of course.

BLITZER: ...a former aide to Walter Mondale, former head of Fannie Mae.

All right, thanks very much for that.

Even some of Hillary Clinton's strongest supporters are dismayed by her silence so far on Obama's win.

Kathleen Koch is joining us now with this part of the story -- Kathleen, what are you hearing?

KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, certainly it's no surprise that the New York delegation are very, very staunch Clinton supporters.

But just about a half an hour ago, I talked to the senior member of that delegation, the Ways and Means chairman, Congressman Charlie Rangel. And he says that, frankly, last night he was confused when, even after Barack Obama had the numbers to clinch the nomination, Hillary Clinton refused to either endorse or concede.


REP. CHARLES RANGEL (D), NEW YORK: It seemed to be inconsistent that she's willing to do all that has to be done in order that we win in November.

So the question is, who is we?

If Obama's the candidate, it just seems as though there's no choice except to endorse.

I'm not getting enough feedback because the New York Congressional delegation are with her to the end. But we thought the end was the end. So we've got to get some direction as to what's going on.


KOCH: Rangel says the New York delegation wants a hard and fast answer from Senator Clinton by the end of the week.

Now, meanwhile, Senator Barack Obama got a very, very warm welcome on the Senate floor from fellow Democrats when he came to participate in a budget vote. It's very hard to see in this video, but the senator got a huge bear hug from ardent supporter John Kerry of Massachusetts. Senator Obama also shook hands with and spoke with a number of Hillary Clinton supporters, including Senator Chuck Schumer of New York.

And the presumed Democratic nominee also spent some time with senators who had, many of them, been uncommitted. Some eight senators came forward today and threw their endorsements as super-delegates behind Obama saying, "Our focus now is on victory in November and on giving Barack Obama every ounce of our support." -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Kathleen Koch, thank you.

One senior Democrat doesn't think much of an Obama/Clinton ticket. That would be the former president of the United States, Jimmy Carter. He's quoted as calling the idea -- I'm quoting now -- "the worst mistake that could be made." Let me repeat that -- "the worst mistake that could be made."

Let's go back to Carol. She's watching this story.

What else is the former president saying -- Carol?

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Jimmy Carter, tell me how you really feel.

Well, nothing that will endear him to Hillary Clinton. President Carter told a London newspaper an Obama/Clinton ticket "would just accumulate the negative aspects of both candidates". He went on to say, "If you take that 50 percent who just don't want to vote for Clinton and add it to whatever element there might be who don't think Obama is white enough or old enough or experienced enough, or because he's got a middle name that sounds Arab, you could have the worst of both worlds."

Now, this isn't the first time Carter has said an Obama/Clinton ticket would be less a dream ticket than a nightmare. He has said Obama would better served paired with someone else -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Jimmy Carter speaking out bluntly, as he often does.

Thank you, Carol.

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

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: We sort of had a sense that President Carter was going to kind of land right where he did for a while, though, didn't we?

BLITZER: Yes. Yes. That's no surprise.

CAFFERTY: I remember when he was in THE SITUATION ROOM a couple of months ago.

BLITZER: Yes. Saying very nice things about Barack Obama.

CAFFERTY: Yes. BLITZER: And he obviously hates the idea of that dream ticket.

CAFFERTY: Well, it's a nightmare.


CAFFERTY: We'll see.

Barack Obama made history last night -- you know that now -- big time. He's the first African-American presidential candidate for a major party in all 230 years of our history. And he might be the first black president of the United States.

Wouldn't that be something?

"The Washington Post" says the phrase "black president" was once unthinkable -- triggering expectation, fear and incomprehension all at the same time. And while racism is certainly still very much around, maybe -- maybe it no longer exists at the level that makes a black president unthinkable.

That's pretty heady stuff we're looking at here.

The "Times of London" wrote this about last night: "The ultimate realization of the American dream moved a little closer."

A top socialist leader in France called Obama's candidacy "an historic choice."

In Pakistan, the editor of one top newspaper there says everybody is impressed with this moment and says that many in his country, Pakistan, think that Obama would better serve Pakistan's interests."

The editor of a Danish newspaper says: "Barack Obama's multiethnic background could foster understanding between the United States and other countries."

But before we get carried away with all of this, it's clear Obama has a long way to go when it comes to race and the election. Exit polls from the primaries show that one in seven white Democratic voters said race was important in their vote. Two-thirds of that group supported Hillary Clinton and more than half of them -- more than half of that one in seven say they'd rather vote for John McCain or sit out the general election than support Barack Obama.

Those are Democrats. We don't know how many Republicans and Independents will take race into account when they go into the voting booth, but we're going to find out.

Here's the question -- what message does it send to the world that an African-American is his party's likely nominee for president here in the gold old U.S. of A?

Go to You can post a comment on my blog.

Interesting reaction from foreign countries watching this thing pretty closely.

BLITZER: And a lot of them are pretty amazed to see what's happening right here in the U.S. of A.

CAFFERTY: And some of us here in the U.S. of A are pretty amazed.

BLITZER: Yes. Pretty amazed.

All right, Jack. Thank you.

Barack Obama's come from behind success -- we'll take a closer look at exactly what he did -- what he did right. That's coming up next.

Also, Barack Obama and John McCain taking new swipes at each other when it comes to foreign policy. We're going to go inside their battle with a key McCain supporter, his fellow Arizona senator, Jon Kyl. He's standing by live.

Also, you're going to find out what McCain and Obama are doing to win over Hillary Clinton's staunchest supporters. That would be women. It could make the difference for either man.

Plus, a major airline right now taking some pretty drastic action in the face of soaring fuel prices. We have news any air traveler needs to know.

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


BLITZER: If you look at where poll numbers were just last fall, Barack Obama's success right now is nothing short of amazing.

So how did he beat the Clintons' formidable political machine?

Let's go to CNN's Brian Todd. He's watching this story for us.

Brian, what's Obama's secret?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, there are so many factors at work for Obama in this campaign, Wolf, that you can't point to one thing. But you can start with a consistent message, good organization and some crucial breaks along the way.


TODD (voice-over): He trails Hillary Clinton in the national polls by as much as 30 points in October -- by double digits even after his first win in Iowa. Asked what went right since then, analysts and Democratic strategists say it began with Barack Obama's central message at a time when voters were ready for it.

OBAMA: Our time to offer a new direction for this country that we love. TODD: Sticking to that message and delivering it so convincingly, then hammering Clinton for her vote for the Iraq War, were crucial on the strategic side, observers say. Tactically, they say Obama's ground game was brilliant.

GERGEN: He's the first candidate we've ever seen who joined together the power of the Internet with the power of community organizing. And by putting those two together and blending that, he created almost a movement, especially of young people, who were willing to camp out in various states and live on floors and go into these caucus states where she wasn't putting a lot of people.

TODD: His fundraising success gave him political credibility. But Obama also put together a disciplined campaign team. As one strategist says, with a minimum of histrionics and egos.

But analysts say luck also pushed him forward, with Clinton's strongholds of Florida and Michigan out of play early and the rest of the calendar falling just right.

STUART ROTHENBERG, "THE ROTHENBERG POLITICAL REPORT," CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Just imagine how different the race would have been if Kentucky and West Virginia and Pennsylvania had been in early February instead of some of the states that he did well in.

TODD: Going forward, observers say, Obama has to reintroduce himself to voters personally, but also lay out real substance on his differences on John McCain and be ready to counterpunch.

JENNIFER PALMIERI, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Any time John McCain opens his mouth and says he's for big government health care, they need to go back and say no, you're the one with the radical plan. Any time he opens his mouth about Iraq, says, fine, I'm happy to talk about Iraq any time he wants.


TODD: Now, analysts say from here on, Obama has also got to be ready for a different kind of attack -- one that Hillary Clinton couldn't launch. The Republicans are already going after him for being too liberal for the mainstream. He's got to counter that effectively, they say, and very often -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Brian, thank you.

Barack Obama is seeking to reassure America's Jewish community that he's a committed friend of Israel.

Let's discuss this and more with a key John McCain supporter, the Republican Senate whip, Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona.

Senator Kyl, thanks very much for coming in.


BLITZER: He made the point before APAC, the pro-Israel lobby, in Washington today, Senator Obama, that Israel and the United States, they're weaker right now because of the failed policies, he says, of the Bush administration -- policies he says McCain wants to continue.

Listen to this.


OBAMA: Iraq is unstable and Al Qaeda has stepped up its recruitment. Israel's quest for peace with its neighbors has stalled, despite the heavy burdens born by the Israeli people. And America is more isolated in the region, reducing our strength and jeopardizing Israel's safety.


BLITZER: All right. So what do you want to say in response?

Because he says Hamas is stronger, Hezbollah is stronger, Al Qaeda is stronger. And most important, Iran is much stronger than it was. And McCain simply wants to pursue those same policies.

KYL: Well, there's so much to respond to. In the first place, remember that with regard to Iraq, the war was not going well.

John McCain, in one of his many visits there, came back, told President Bush he needed more troops. Shortly thereafter, General Petraeus was brought in. He agreed with Senator McCain, developed the surge policy. That has worked.

As a result of John McCain's personal observations, knowledge of military affairs and courageous position, when it was not politically popular, to increase our troops, we have succeeded in Iraq and Al Qaeda is virtually defeated there. So score one for John McCain there.

Secondly, with regard to Iran. Barack Obama has had the chance, on numerous occasions, as a member of the U.S. Senate, to take positions that would help to cripple the Iranian regime. He has opposed those, designating the IRGC, or the Iranian National Guard Corps, is a good place to start. He opposed that. Hillary Clinton, Dick Durbin, John McCain, myself all of us supported that because when you designate them a terrorist group, then you can put economic sanctions in place to deal with them. Even Dick Durbin argued with Senator Obama on that, his colleague from Illinois.

So, I mean where to start...

BLITZER: Well...


BLITZER: He says he opposed that legislation because he didn't want to give a green light to President Bush to even think about...

KYL: Exactly.

BLITZER: ...some sort of military operation against Iran. KYL: Exactly. And the amendment did nothing of the sort. And Dick Durbin himself said it did not. In fact, I can quote Dick Durbin right here for you if you'd like for me to do that.

BLITZER: All right. Well, let me quote what your fellow Republican, Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, what he has just said. He told a newspaper in Germany, he said: "We invaded Iraq, we are occupying Iraq and we have made Iraq dependent on us. By our actions, we have done terrible damage to our own country and undermined our interests in the world."

He's been increasingly critical, as you well know. But these seem to be very powerful words he's stating right now.

KYL: They are. And I don't think they're at all helpful. We're there and the question is whether we are able to leave with honor, leave Iraq a country that's able to fight terrorism and not provide a haven for terrorists, or, as Barack Obama would do, leave -- be gone within 16 months and create a situation that, as General Petraeus and others have said, would be incalculable in the harm that it would do and probably require us to come back in with even more troops at that point.

BLITZER: If you're looking ahead, as you are over the next five months of this general campaign, what's the single issue on foreign policy, which we're talking about right now, that John McCain would do differently than what George Bush is doing right now?

KYL: I mentioned the difference on Iraq, his determination that we needed more troops there. That...

BLITZER: But they both agree on that now.

KYL: They do. I was simply trying to precede your answer with a point that John McCain has been willing, when he does have a disagreement, to make that point well-known.

I'm not sure right at this point, since General Petraeus is following a good strategy in Iraq, I don't think John McCain has any difference with that. And I know President Bush agrees with that, too.

And with regard to Iran, what John McCain did was to give a speech which laid out a series of more robust actions that we could take -- for example, sanctioning the refined gasoline, putting an embargo on refined gasoline that goes into Iran; strengthening our economic sanctions; dealing with investments, called disinvestment, from companies that do business with Iran; and a series of other, more robust sanctions than the administration has been willing to push thus far.

BLITZER: Senator Kyl, thanks, as usual, for coming in.

KYL: Appreciate it. Thanks a lot.

BLITZER: In the next hour, we're going to be hearing from his colleague, Senator Chris Dodd, a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, a strong supporter of Barack Obama. I suspect we're going to get a very different perspective from him.

He's arguably TV's most famous sidekick. Now Ed McMahon is reportedly being caught up in a housing crisis. We're going to tell you what's happening with his Beverly Hills home.

Plus, criticism of Hillary Clinton's non-concession speech -- is it fair?

We'll take you inside the chatter right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Stay with us.


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

Carol, what's going on?

COSTELLO: Well, Wolf, hundreds of United Airlines employees are getting grounded. The nation's number two carrier says it's slashing up to 1,100 more jobs by year's end. That's in addition to 500 job cuts announced earlier. United is also grounding an entire fleet of its less fuel-efficient jets, about 70 all together. It's trying to weather sky-high fuel prices.

Some startling news about Johnny Carson's long time side kick on "The Tonight Show," Ed McMahon. He's fighting foreclosure on his $6 million Beverly Hills home. "The Wall Street Journal" reporting the former "Star Search" host and sweepstakes pitchman is more than $600,000 behind on payments. McMahon's spokesman says the 85-year-old has been unable to work since breaking his neck 18 months ago.

And a Russian cosmonaut has been hard at work today fixing one of the most essential pieces of equipment on the International Space Station. That would be the toilet. He installed a new pump and hoses that space Shuttle Discovery brought up. It appears to be working just fine now. Discovery and Space Station crews are also putting in power connections for the station's new billion dollar space lab.

Back to you -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Carol, thank you very much.

They could decide the race for the White House and Barack Obama and John McCain know it. We'll go inside their full court press for Hillary Clinton's women supporters.

Also, the Clinton speech that has critics howling -- you're going to find out why someone called it narcissistic. Another person called it ungracious. And that's just for starters.

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


Happening now, turning up the pressure on Iran -- President Bush says it's time for the world to take Tehran's nuclear ambitions, in his words, "quite seriously." He made the comments before a meeting in Washington with Israel's prime minister, Ehud Olmert.

An ironic twist in the saga of 9/11 rescue workers seeking federal assistance for health problems. A company headed by former Health & Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson gets an $11 million government contract to treat some workers. Thompson was criticized by some for not doing enough to help workers when he was in the administration.

And oil prices fall, but the cost of gas keeps going up. Light sweet crude ended the trading day today down about $2 a barrel. But the national average for a gallon of unleaded gas now stands at $3.98. That's a new record.

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

The battle lines now drawn -- both Barack Obama and John McCain are eying Hillary Clinton's core backers -- women.

Let's go back to CNN's Carol Costello. She's watching this story for us.

What are they trying to do, both of these presidential candidates, to court women voters, those Hillary Clinton supporters?

COSTELLO: Well, both candidates, Wolf, are reaching out in different ways. And when I say both, John McCain is absolutely in the hunt for Clinton's loyal women voters.

I just got off the phone with the Minnesota Republican National Committee. They tell me Clinton supporters are calling to see how they can help John McCain.

But don't count out Barack Obama just yet.


COSTELLO (voice-over): "Army Wives" a "Lifetime" TV hit. It's sort of like "Desperate Housewives" on an army base. Millions of women watch it religiously. Don't you know it? Both presumptive presidential candidates gladly agreed to make public service announcements at Lifetime's request. Both think it's a fab show.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) PRESUMPTIVE PRES. NOMINEE: I know because Cindy makes me watch with her. We're looking forward to season two.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESUMPTIVE PRES. NOMINEE: I just want to take a moment to honor the people the show is about.

COSTELLO: It's official. The fight for Hillary Clinton's loyal white women supporters has begun. Suddenly republican John McCain is speaking right to them and flattering his old friend, democrat Clinton.

MCCAIN: She has inspired generations of American women to believe that they can reach the highest office in this nation. And I respect her campaign, and I respect her.

COSTELLO: Analysts say his campaign will reach out to women using issues both McCain and Clinton agree on, like the gas tax holiday.

MCCAIN: From Memorial Day to Labor Day of this year.

COSTELLO: Their unwillingness to meet with leaders of Iran and North Korea unconditionally. Even some ardent Clinton supporters say McCain has struck a cord with them.

ALLIDA BLACK, WOMENCOUNTPAC.COM: Many of the women have relatives that have been in the military or have served in the National Guard. Or have members of their guard's troops deployed to Iraq. And they see McCain as dealing with their service and the service of those they love with great respect.

COSTELLO: Analysts say Barack Obama may have a tougher time winning over women in the short term. Black says the sometimes nasty exchanges between the democratic candidates are still resonating. Especially this one.

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON: I don't think I'm that bad.

OBAMA: You're likable enough, Hillary.

BLACK: These women aren't stupid. They know what it means.

COSTELLO: Those wounds won't be healed until Clinton endorses Obama. Analysts say that won't happen until Clinton fully wields the power of the white woman voter.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If Hillary Clinton came out Tuesday night and said, I am endorsing Barack Obama, at that point she's giving away any leverage she has on perhaps becoming the vice presidential nominee.


COSTELLO: Oprah Winfrey, by the way, an early supporter of Barack Obama who has oodles of white women viewers is unavailable to comment today on Obama's historic win. It's been widely reported that Oprah's show has lost viewers because of her support of Barack Obama. Wolf?

BLITZER: Thanks very much, Carol, for that.

You probably remember the now famous "Saturday Night Live" skit in which the debate moderators fawn over Barack Obama while slamming Hillary Clinton. But for the Clinton camp, complaints about the news media are no laughing matter at all. Howard Kurtz of CNN's "RELIABLE SOURCES" reports.


HOWARD KURTZ, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf, Hillary Clinton spent part of the campaign complaining that the media were unfairly rough on her. Once again, when she spoke to supporters last night after Barack Obama had captured the democratic nomination, the former first lady did not exactly win rave reviews.

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Even when the pundits and the naysayers proclaimed week after week that this race was over, you kept on voting.

KURTZ: If her failure to acknowledge Obama's victory was surprising, the media reaction was not. Clinton was in denial. How dare she not concede.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Without the deranged narcissism of the Clintons, I don't understand why this isn't --

CAMPBELL BROWN: What are you really saying?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What does that mean it's her night? He just won. How unbelievably ungracious is it for a woman who made $100 million in the last 10 years with her husband to try to raise money on the night that she lost.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was a take that, Barack Obama, speech.

KURTZ: The pundits piled on. "Time" magazine's Joe Klein, "An utterly ungracious speech." Maureen Dowd of "The New York Times", "She has managed to keep her teeth in his ankle and raise serious doubts about his potency." Michael Goodwin of "New York's Daily News" says Hillary's message to Obama was, "Not tonight, dear." Others question why Clinton had floated the possibility of becoming Obama's running mate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is the job of the president to pick his running mate. It is not the job of the applicant for the vice presidency to force herself on to the ticket.

KURTZ: Yesterday's coverage followed months of media chatter that Clinton and her alleys are called blatantly sexist about her clothing, her cleavage and her cackle. As seen in this video assembled by a feminist group.

JACK CAFFERTY: She morphed into a scolding mother talking down to her child.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Men won't vote for Hillary Clinton because she reminds them of their nagging wives.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When Hillary Clinton speaks, men hear, take out the garbage.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As if you're a guy going door to door trying to sell something and she said you'll have to wait for my husband to get home. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When she reacts the way she reacts to Obama with just the look, looking like everyone's first wife standing outside a probate court.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sometimes you put on cable television and you feel like you're in the middle of a locker room.

KURTZ: That maybe true but there's one other factor behind Clinton's bad press. Once she started losing in 10 straight contests at one point journalists began asking how the candidate they had proclaimed as inevitable was blowing the race. It's a harsh fact of life the media aren't kind to losers. Wolf?


BLITZER: All right Howie, thanks very much. Let's go right to James Carville, the democratic strategist. Good friend of the Clintons. Clinton supporter. James, you watched the piece. What do you think?

JAMES CARVILLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I was on the set last night. I was a little stunned. I guess I ought to pass out a history book to everybody in the punditries and remind them that Ronald Reagan, who's now canonized in Washington, didn't even campaign for Jerry Ford. He only campaigned for the, quote, ticket. Remember Jimmy Carter chasing Teddy Kennedy all over the podium in New York in 1980. Gary Hart did not endorse Walter Mondale until the conviction. I think she's entitled to take 72 or 96 hours. I thought she gave a gracious first couple paragraphs and talked about Senator Obama today at AIPAC. Which is partly a friendly environment to Senator Obama. She defended him and assured them that Senator Obama would be a true friend to Israel. She's going to do things in a way. She's going to try to bring her people along. The truth of the matter is, is that capable TV has never been very kind to Senator Clinton. We sort of carried through with it last night.

BLITZER: How do you see this playing out over the next 48, 72 hours?

CARVILLE: I think that she has a lot of people that she needs to talk to. I think that anybody that's been -- there's been no campaign like this. I think she's on the phone today. I think she's talking to supporters. I think there are a lot of raw feelings out there. I think she's trying to help soothe these feelings. I think she's going to want to try to help the ticket all she can. I think it's going to take some time to bring some of these folks along. I think she's a very methodical person and I think she's also going to do it on her own schedule. It will happen and it will happen sooner as opposed to later. Certainly happen before President Reagan endorsed Ford or Senator Kennedy Carter or even Senator Hart to Walter Mondale. So if everybody just takes a deep breath here and allows her to work through this and work her people, it'll be fine.

BLITZER: Do you think criticism, at least today, that we're hearing from some of her former supporters like Charlie Rangel, among others, Hillary Rosen, saying you know what, she should just get over it? She had plenty of time to see what the handwriting was on the wall. And just should have done it last night? Do you think that criticism is justified coming from these people who had been among her most ardent supporters?

CARVILLE: I like Congressman Rangel and Hillary Rosen is really a great lady. I think that she is going to do it in her way in her time, and I would remind everybody of the history here. And it's better to wait a little while and do it right than to just come out and shoot. She's got a lot of supporters that she's going to have to work real hard to bring along. Wolf, elections have consequences and losing an election has big consequences. Believe me, she's feeling this loss today as are her people feeling this loss as very consequential. However, barely winning an election like this has consequences too. That is that you have to bring the other person's supporters along. I think that she has to think this out because I think it is in her interest, and I think she thinks it's in her interest that she brings her people along and works hard and helps the ticket in every way she can. I'm sure that's what she wants to do and I'm sure that's what she's trying to do and I'm sure she's working the phones furiously today to get that done.

BLITZER: What do you think of some of her most active supporters like Bob Johnson, the founder of B.E.T. or Lanny Davis now going out there saying, he's really got to pick her to be on the ticket?

CARVILLE: I understand people have different opinions. And certainly Bob Johnson, Lanny Davis have been very loyal. I respect them. My opinion might be a little bit different. I think the main thing is that this thing has to take some time. I think she and Senator Obama need to sit down and talk. I think we're going to be able to get this party together. But it's going to take some effort. It's just not going to wave a magic wand here. There are some problems that have to be addressed. There are some feelings that need to be talked to. I don't know if the vice presidential thing is in the best interest of Senator Obama or Senator Clinton.

BLITZER: Why is that?

CARVILLE: If you've got a week I'd be glad to go through it. I'm not saying it's not. I'm not saying it's a bad idea. I just don't know if it's a good idea. I just don't know enough about her feelings about that or Senator Obama's feelings. I think that's something that would be best to talk about between themselves.

BLITZER: Good point. James, thanks very much.

CARVILLE: Thank you Wolf.

BLITZER: So it's now all but certain that Barack Obama and John McCain will square off, in fact, in November. Knowing that, let's take a closer look at how the Electoral College votes may play out. CNN's John Roberts is here. He's standing by. He'll show us what the possibilities are.


BLITZER: To John Roberts he's here at the magic wall with some interesting scenarios.

JOHN ROBERTS: We're going to be talking about where the candidates are traveling from here until November. Barack Obama tomorrow is going to find himself in a little tiny area of extreme southwestern Virginia. This is a place you've got to kind of really punch in to get, Bristol City. What's famous about Bristol City?

BLITZER: No idea.

ROBERTS: Home of country music. This is where the Carter family first got its start. Barack Obama is going to be going there. Why is he going to be going there? Let's take a look at how the primary vote turned out. He did very well in this area of Virginia. But this was, for the most part, Hillary Clinton territory.

BLITZER: The rural part.

ROBERTS: He's going to be going down there to introduce himself to people. Places he didn't get much of a chance to go to.

BLITZER: Why do you think Virginia's in play?

ROBERTS: They do believe it's in play and he really wants to win it. But he didn't get a chance to get down here, so that's where he's going to be going. Now, as for John McCain, where is he going to be going? Today found John McCain here in St. Petersburg, Florida. Remember, we had a debate down there. Why is St. Petersburg, Florida important? It's because it is the extreme western edge of what's called the I 4 corridor. This is the main battleground in the state of Florida. It's the area between St. Petersburg over here and Orlando. Very, very important area. 2004, President Bush. We went back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. This is important. If you look at the way the county maps turned out here during the republican primary, John McCain did extremely well here. He wants to hang on to that vote. The democratic primary, Hillary Clinton did very well here. You're going to see Barack Obama spending an awful lot of time in that I 4 corridor going again back and forth back and forth on the bus trying to meet people, trying to convince them to vote for him.

During the democratic and republican primaries we saw these folks going across the country back and forth. The travel between now and November is going to be very much more limited. Here's the map. The Electoral College map. Here are the swing states. So, Wolf, between now and November you're going to see these candidates spending an awful lot of time in New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Ohio, Missouri, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Florida, over there, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and as well way up there in the northwestern corner of Oregon. The travel much more condensed. Very specific areas in these states. That's where our folks are going to be going on the road with these candidates.

BLITZER: When they go, we'll go with them. All right John, thanks very much. Good work.

Barack Obama's presumed nomination isn't only historic. It's also a watershed in American culture. Our special correspondent Frank Sesno is standing by live right now. Frank, what does Obama's rise tell us?

FRANK SESNO, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: It tells us a lot Wolf. The campaign has been going on so long it's hard to get lost in the weeds in this whole thing, to lose the big picture, the forest for the trees. The idea of just how groundbreaking, just how huge this thing really is, what it says about the country and where the country is now should be lost on no one.


SESNO (voice-over): Barack Obama knows he defies history and expectations.

OBAMA: Nobody thought a 46-year-old black guy named Barack Obama was going to be the democratic nominee.

SESNO: Race has always been the wild card in American politics. Barack Obama reshuffles the deck. For African Americans who lived through the civil rights struggles of Rosa Parks, Selma, Alabama, Martin Luther King, for most who remember this, Barack Obama is a symbol of struggle and success. Progress and change. Few at the back of the bus would have predicted they'd ever see this.

REP. JOHN LEWIS, (D) GEORGIA: Just think. A few short years ago, blacks and whites could not board a Greyhound bus, a Trailway bus, in Washington, D.C. and travel together through the Deep South without the possibility of being arrested, jail, or beaten or even facing death.

SESNO: For millions of younger Americans, black and white, it's different. Because in school, at work, on TV they've experienced a different American. Divided still, but genuinely diverse. Their icons may be Jordan or Woods, Powell or Angelou.

LEWIS: For younger people, white and black, this is now. This is here and now. This is real.

SESNO: Many of these young people see Obama as generation next. Multiethnic, educated, global, a politician who happens to be black. More about the future than the past. But the past is our legacy. 145 years since the emancipation proclamation. But in a single lifetime the military integrated and schools desegregated. Martin Luther King marched and gunned down. Riots in the streets and breakthroughs in the ranks. However the politics play out, we've never been here before.


SESNO: And Wolf, Barack Obama knows that we've never been here before. He calls this whole experience humbling. He spoke about this today. He said -- I'm quoting now, he said, "This is about all the people who've knocked down barriers for me to walk through these doors." Race plays, how it will separate out from his proposals, policies and politics, that's what the story has yet to tell. BLITZER: Thanks very much Frank Sesno, very thoughtful, good piece. Appreciate it.

Hillary Clinton says she's not making any decisions about her next move until she hears from her supporters. What are they saying? Abbi Tatton checks out the feedback online. That's coming up.

Barack Obama is basing his campaign on change. It should be no surprise that he's embracing a new way of shaking hands. That's the story you will see from Jeanne Moos, that's coming up later here in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: After Barack Obama clinched the democratic presidential nomination last night, Hillary Clinton asked her supporters for some help. For reaction, let's bring in our Internet reporter Abbi Tatton. Abbi?

ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Wolf, this is where the Hillary Clinton campaign has been directing supporters to share their thoughts about what's next. The front page of their website. This is something Hillary Clinton has been doing since the very beginning. Remember this from January 2007? The web video where Hillary Clinton said I'm in to win. Let's talk. Send in your ideas and I'll respond to them online. Now more than 50 contests later and with Barack Obama as the presumptive nominee she's doing it again. Then as now, we can't read exactly what people are sending to the campaign. They're just going directly off online and they're not posted. But we can see what some of her diehard supporters are saying in the moderated comments section of her blog. They're not backing down. Look at this one. I could care less about unifying the party. Many other people still encouraging people to donate. There's this, run as an independent, Hillary. This one you'll see all over the place. See you in Denver. Wolf?

BLITZER: Thanks very much Abbi. Let's get back to Jack, he's got the Cafferty file. Jack?

JACK CAFFERTY: The question this hour Wolf is, what message does it send to the world that an African-American is his party's likely nominee for president. Who knows, if things go well he might be the next president of the United States. I ran all the way up here from downstairs and I'm out of breath.

BLITZER: Take a deep breath. No rush.

CAFFERTY: Vince writes in New Jersey, "As a 54-year-old white male, I believe it's a great time in our nation's history and tells the world racial divides have fallen and we're a strong united America." David in Ontario says, "I went to work today feeling extremely happy that Obama finally did it. Whenever I hear the man speak I begin to feel the world is not so much of a scary place. I wish he was becoming our prime minister here but maybe that's his magic. He inspires the same sentiment in every people and every country on this planet. So do the world a big favor, America, make this guy your next president. You won't regret it." I got to take a couple of deep breaths.

BLITZER: Let me continue reading for you while you take a breath. Let me just continue. "I'm just so thankful to God that my father was able to witness this historic moment. Many African- Americans are just amazed and proud beyond words. This is truly a day that we'll all remember for the rest of our lives." That came in. Here's another one that just came in as well. Let's put it up there. Tony in Milford, Delaware, "I believe it sends the message that calling America the land of opportunity is more than just a phrase and it will probably make countries that have not been receptive to the United States, especially in the past several years, more open to us."

CAFFERTY: Thank you, sir. You do a good job on that stuff. Ashley writes, "If it does send a message it shouldn't. Last time I checked we're all human. Despite a difference in the coloring of our skin Barack Obama is a remarkable American. It's time we and the rest of America stop viewing him as a black man and instead view him as an American." Jeanne writes, "Maybe for the first time in my life I'm proud to be an American. And no I'm not Michelle Obama. I'm a 77- year-old white woman from Idaho." Allen in Hartwell, Georgia, "It says we can lead the world in something that doesn't involve bombs and millionaires." If you didn't see your e-mail here you can go to my blog at Look for yours there. Send Wolf a thank you note for helping, appreciate it.

BLITZER: You would do the same for me, I know.

CAFFERTY: That's a long walk. I'm an old man.

BLITZER: All right. John McCain's town hall challenge to Barack Obama, that's coming up. He says the American people deserve a new style of debate. We're going to tell you what Obama says about all this. Stay with us, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: Lou's getting ready for his show that begins in an hour. You're working on a story in Oklahoma involving some very controversial legislation.

LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: Controversial legislation that Oklahoma put together, one of the strongest laws in the nation, against illegal immigration, the hiring of illegal aliens, housing, a whole host of constraints. A district court judge there throwing out part of that enforcement, saying that he believes it's unconstitutional and therefore suspending that part of it, until the court can hear the entire case. It's really a case where the chamber of commerce, business interests are dominating the political system and the judicial system. In my opinion, the district court is utterly wrong, and you're going to see this roll back. But we're going to be focusing on that tonight in Oklahoma.

BLITZER: Sounds good. We'll be watching in one hour.

DOBBS: You've got a deal. Thanks, Wolf. BLITZER: Thanks. To our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM. Happening now, John McCain throws down a challenge to the democrats' new nominee in waiting. Will Barack Obama agree to hold forums with McCain over and over again. Plus, Hillary Clinton right now in limbo --