Return to Transcripts main page

CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Hillary Clinton Suspending Campaign

Aired June 7, 2008 - 12:00   ET

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


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: We're getting ready to hear the answer to that question. Hillary Clinton about to leave home in northwest Washington and make the motorcade drive over to the National Building Museum, here in Washington.
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer reporting together with the best political team on television. Also joining us, John King and Candy Crowley. They're over at the National Building Museum, right now. Donna Brazile is here along with Gloria Borger for analysis. We're watching this historic day very closely.

John King, we're hearing that Hillary Clinton's running a little late, shouldn't be too much of a surprise to those of us who have covered the Clintons for so many years. It's sort of standard operating procedure, but eventually she'll be leaving her home with her family, making the drive over to the National Building Museum. Sort of reminds me, as a long-time watcher of the Clintons, and I'm sure it reminds you, a little bit, those nights when we use to wait for the Clintons to leave the White House to drive up to Capitol Hill for a Start the Union Address or whatever, usually it was a little late sometimes, as well.

But give us the lay of the land, where you are, John, right now. Set the scene, just because it is a dramatic scene, indeed.

Wolf, in Clinton time, as we've come to call it over the 15 years or so, 30 minutes late is actually early, so we'll celebrate Senator Clinton if she can keep it within 30 minutes.

The scene here is just increasing energy, which is a great irony. You have this campaign rally, very optimistic in spirited celebratory atmosphere. A crowd of several thousand, now, inside the National Building Museum and yet, this is s sad day for the Clinton campaign.

She will endorse her opponent, Barack Obama and she will step aside. But it is a reminder, we're having this conversations in June. In our lifetime, we have seen nothing like this, a campaign for one party's nomination that has gone on contest after contest. Millions after millions of dollars spent on TV advertising and staff, state after state of campaigning.

I want to bring our senior political correspondent, Candy Crowley, back into the discussion, she has information on even as Hillary Clinton prepares to say farewell in this campaign, talk about her role in the fall, her daughter was in Texas just yesterday continuing at least one small part of this extraordinary campaign. Is that right -- Candy.

CROWLEY: Right. Absolutely. You know, it's interesting, first of all, Texas is still picking some of its delegates. So, Chelsea Clinton went to the Texas state convention for her mother, and I am told gave two messages to the crowd. First of all: my mom says thank you, and second of all: my mom says that party unity is extremely important, and we have to pull together. So, you remember Texas. a very, very close state. Hillary Clinton winning the popular vote. He won the most delegates, just showing you that really typified kind of the entire race, if you look at it nationwide, so split down the middle. But, Hillary Clinton again, dispatching her daughter, Chelsea, who we're expecting here today, by the way, to say, listen, thanks very much, but we need to move on and we need to have party unity. I suspect that Chelsea speaking for Hillary Clinton pretty much mirrors what we're going to hear today -- John.

KING: And Candy, as we listen to the crowd here, some of the loud applause our viewers might be hearing at home is not for Senator Clinton, she is still at home in northwest Washington, but her senior staff, her (INAUDIBLE), were taking their seats here in the auditorium. Her campaign chairman, Terry McAuliffe, the former party chairman and (INAUDIBLE) fundraiser -- excuse me, a second -- Maggie Williams, who came in as her campaign manager in a staff shake-up, rare is the political staff that gets applause at an event like this, but there you see Terry McAuliffe shaking hands at the front of the crowd, but it is a reminder, Candy, that she had some of to biggest names in the party on her side, and yet, she will be bowing out, today.

CROWLEY: Absolutely. And you know, that's where some of the discussions between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama and their spokespeople go. How do you take some of this real talent and move them into the Barack Obama campaign? How do you encompass those who have fought so hard for Hillary Clinton and bring them over?

I can tell you that Barack Obama will bring over some of the huge talent and moving from primary to general election mode, it is all hand's on board. So some of this talk is not just about Hillary Clinton's role, but about the role of her top staffers. It's going to take a little while and in fact, one staffer I talked to said, you know, I think that we feel, worse, and personally more resentful at the staff level than Hillary Clinton does. These politicians are big people, it hurts, because politics is personal, it is about people and it certainly is about these candidates. So obviously, at some level there is hurt there that you don't win.

I am sure, John, you remember Bob Dole's famous line when he talked the next day after he was defeated in the general election by Bill Clinton who said, you know, "I slept just like a baby last night and I woke up every couple of hours and cried." So, a lot of personal things going on and the healing takes a while.

You know, John, we have watched the McCain/Bush relationship, which, as you know, was really bitter after their 2000 primary, and we still look at them for signs of as to whether they're friends or whether they've really patched it up. But, you know, politics is also the art of the practical, these two have to come together and I suspect they will -- John.

KING: And Candy, as you say, you suspect they will come together. One of the giant questions is how much Barack Obama will help Hillary Clinton retire one of the giant albatrosses she will carry on after today, the huge debt for her campaign. We know that the two campaigns met face to face and boy to be a fly on the wall in that room, but we don't know much ability the specifics, do we?

CROWLEY: No, absolutely not. And we're going to have to get it from one of them, because they were alone in that room, certainly, they probably talked somewhat to their top staffers and I imagine Maggie Williams knows a little bit about what went on in that room, likewise David Axelrod on Barack Obama's side.

But this is, again, at a very personal level. It is up to these two to fix the chemistry, and it's an ongoing process. It can take years, but it does happen over time, because no matter how you look at it, and Barack Obama said this the other day: I will be working with Hillary Clinton in November. And everybody said, oh, that means he's going to put her on the ticket, but the truth of the matter is that no matter what happens, he's going to be working with her in November. She is a huge voice in the party, she the Senator from New York and when she walks to the microphone, everybody listens, so they are going to be working together and first, they have to fix the chemistry and that meeting last night, I suspect, was not as much about issues, not like will you take my guy here, it certainly not about the vice presidency, it was more about let's sit down, let's be civil, let's talk about the future -- John.

KING: The first of what likely will be many meetings in the days and weeks ahead. Candy, thank you very much as I toss it back to Wolf Blitzer in our Washington studios. Wolf, they're playing "We are Family" here at the National Building Museum, today, a song that certainly will encompass the basic theme Senator Clinton wants the Democratic Party to take as she steps aside and endorses Barack Obama, here today -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, John, thank you. We're going to bet getting back to you very soon. We're going to be interpreting all of the songs that they're going to be playing, because these songs were deliberately selected. These are not random decisions by the Hillary Clinton campaign. They want to send a message to their supporters as well, Gloria and Donna, are here watching all of this unfold.

You know, you were pointing out that she is also looking at the history books right now, because what she says today could have an enormous impact on her own future.

And how she's perceived and just to add on to what Candy and John were talking about with Chelsea Clinton going to Texas to talk to the state convention.

BLITZER: Yesterday? BORGER: Yesterday. We still have a few more weeks of these state conventions going on and I was talking to somebody in the Clinton campaign who said, look, this is for the history books, she wants to get those delegates that she's entitled to. So, when the tally is finally tallied, she wants to have the real number there, so everyone can know just what a race she fought and how close it was, and that's one of the reasons you don't end your campaign, that's one of the reasons you suspend your campaign.

BLITZER: And we are waiting, as our viewers can see, we're waiting, Donna, for the Clintons to leave their home in Washington, going in the Suburban's and drive in that motorcade down Massachusetts avenue over to the National Building Museum. They're running a little bit late. Before viewers start asking, what's going on, what's the problem? Let's just remind them that there is a history of the Clintons running late, so we shouldn't read too much into that. Obviously getting some last-minute things going on.

What can Barack Obama do, right now, to help Hillary Clinton and her campaign pay back the debt? What, they have about $20 million in debt. That's something that people are talking about, right now, because there are legal restrictions, so walk us through the process, because it's a very practical thing that she could ask him to help out and, you know what, you're the leader of the party right now, give me a helping hand.

BRAZILE: Well, I've heard estimates of $20 million to $30 million that Senator Clinton owes various vendors. That's a lot of money, but Senator Obama has over 1.5 million contributes. They can clearly make a donation of $20 each, $30 I don't do the math very well, but that will help alleviate some of the debt. Many of Senator Clinton's supporters, donors, they have maxed out, they have given the maximum amount of $2,300, so this would be a gesture towards party unity to make a a donation of $20 or $30 and I don't do the math very well, but that will help to alleviate some of the debt.

Many of Senator Clinton's supporters have maxed out and given the maximum amount of $2,300, so it would be a gesture toward party unity to make a donation to Senator Clinton's campaign, hillyclinton.com. Clearly this will help alleviate her debt so that she is freed up to help Senator Obama raise money and not just for his campaign, but also for the Democratic National Convention that will be held in Denver.

BORGER: I was talking to somebody in the Clinton campaign who said that they estimate that Obama is going to need to raise something like $350 million, and they said, look, he can help her, but she can also help him, because she's a list second only to his in fund-raising list and so if they work together they can be a powerhouse there in terms of getting money for the Democratic Party to run competitively.

BLITZER: And the two of them raised a lot more money than John McCain did on the Republican side. Let me bring in our own Carl Bernstein, the Hillary Clinton biographer who spent a lot of time over these years writing about her, knows her story about as well as anyone. Carl, I suspect you could write not only a new chapter, but you could write a whole new book on what has happened over the last year- and-a-half as she sought unsuccessfully this bid for the White House. But, give us a little flavor of what is going on, right now.

CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, she's a biographer's dream, and part of the biography, the most important thing in Hillary Clinton's life is her marriage. Marriage, family and religion are the three fundamentals of her life. And Bill Clinton figures in what we're seeing today, very much. Because Bill Clinton was wounded in this campaign, and one of the things that I am told by Hillary Clinton's friends and close associates that she's looking for is a role for Bill Clinton in the Obama campaign, that he needs some real rehabilitation.

The Clintons can really bring something to the Obama campaign, obviously. They have credibility with constituencies that Barack Obama really needs, Jews, women, the elderly, working class people, and Bill Clinton is going to have a role in this, and she is going to want to see that he has a role in this, because you know, her campaign began as a campaign for the restoration of the Clintons-plural for the White House, she found a more independent voice of her own toward the end of the campaign, but really, this was about a restoration as well, and about the Clinton agenda, their own journey that they have been on together for all of these years.

The other thing, in terms of being the vice presidential nominee that if she were to be the vice presidential nominee, her stature has to change in a way that Republicans also could find her much less polarizing in independence than she is now. So, she needs to make a transition to help bring the Democrats together first of all, which she really is in a great position to do right now, and then as the campaign moves forward, the question of whether she is going to be on the ticket -- if there a real possibility of it and I don't think it is such a great possibility at this moment -- she would have to fit into this post-partisan vision that Obama has given the country.

You know, he wants Independent votes, he wants Republican votes, but right now, he wants what she can give him today and begin giving to him which is a credibility with these people who she expressed a great ability to connect with in this campaign, particularly the elderly, women, the Jewish community, working class whites, and I think that, as I said earlier, that we're about to see a coming together of the Democrats toward their old home base, today, but Obama has managed to carve out a vision of the Democratic Party's future with him as a candidate that goes beyond that base and how Hillary Clinton fits that and whether she can be a vice presidential nominee, there are other things that she can do and she could figure in his domestic policy, both in the campaign and in the White House, in the Supreme Court, any number of places.

But, this is also a human drama. We talk about Hillary Clinton and her tenacity, as Peter Hart said in that fascinating clip, this election was her election to lose, and she lost it, and yet, she has been great through her life and Bill Clinton's life in not only staying on the stage, but prevailing and pushing ahead and fighting for what she wants and getting an awful lot of it.

BLITZER: All right, Carl, standby, because I want to take a quick break as we await the motorcade at the Hillary Clinton residence in Washington to leave to make the drive over to the National Building Museum where she will suspend her presidential nomination with what we're told is a significant and carefully written speech. We'll take a quick break. Cnnpolitics.com is where you should be as well as right here on CNN, cnnpolitics.com for all of the latest political news. Stay with us, our coverage continues right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: I'm John King in Washington. Welcome back to our special coverage of a dramatic day in the race for president 2008. Senator Hillary Clinton, later this hour, will officially suspend her campaign for the Democratic nomination and officially and enthusiastically, we are told, endorse man who will be the Democratic nominee, Senator Barack Obama of Illinois.

It will all take place here in Washington at the National Building Museum, this is a fantastic structure, right in downtown Washington, several thousand people already packed inside. Senator Clinton, not unexpectedly, running 30 minutes late, we are told. She was supposed to be here at the top of the hour.

You have a who's who of the Clinton campaign on the ground here, many college-aged kids, many of the veterans of the Bill Clinton presidency and his administration and Candy Crowley, our senior political correspondent is here.

And as this crowd waits, Candy, we understand you have some fresh details of exactly what we will hear from Senator Clinton as she steps aside, today.

CROWLEY: Well, nothing that will rock the boat here, but one word that was used struck me and that is "unequivocal." She will give her unequivocal support to Barack Obama. This speech sounds like a little bit of history and a little bit of the future. In the future she will say to her supporters, listen, everything I got into this race for still exists, all of the things that I wanted to fix still need fixing. It is very important that you get behind Barack Obama. So, I am told she will make that unequivocal pitch for him.

But, she's also going to look back and talk about the history of the race which I think is why the selection of this building is kind of interesting to me as being an historic building. But, the fact of the matter is that all along, people have said, and I remember Tuesday night talking to a couple of her top advisers and saying, you know, as everyone was asking she should she have gotten out, and they say she is so acutely aware of the history-making nature of this race, certainly for Barack Obama, but also for Hillary Clinton, and she wants to make sure that, that final paragraph in this piece of history is written the right way. So, she will talk about the history of the race and the advances that were made, the women that were behind her, so a little bit of the future and a little bit of the past as Hillary Clinton officially wraps up her campaign, which we are told, unequivocal support of Barack Obama -- John.

KING: And Candy, when you say "unequivocal" and you talk about how important it is that she not be viewed, as you put it earlier, as the skunk of the Democratic Party. Let's talk about that a little but, because even now in the CNN polling a small, but a significant enough percentage of Clinton voters say they would at this point support John McCain in November and I assume part of her message today and part of the campaigning over the next several months will be to make the case to those voters, perhaps even in person, in key battleground states, that they have to reconsider, because in the end, of course, this is Barack Obama's campaign to win or lose, but she clearly does not want to be seen as somehow taking any of the blame if in the end the Democrats lose another close one.

CROWLEY: Does not want to be seen as dragging her feet. She is a party player, she wants to be seen as a party player, and you are exactly right, she will go out and say, you cannot go from Hillary Clinton to John McCain. You need to refocus on the stakes. But, they understand that their supporters, including many in this room, are still going through these stages of grief. You know, we're past denial and now there is sorrow and bitterness. But, they believe in the Clinton campaign and they also believe in the Barack Obama campaign that time will help heal some of this, but Hillary Clinton also needs to help heal this, and they understand that, in the Clinton campaign.

Now, we will be watching from now until November to see just how big that commitment is, and she's aware that people will be watching, and I am told again that Hillary Clinton, those around her, say has always stepped up to plate, and she will at this time, too -- John.

KING: Candy Crowley helping us to understand the dramatic moment soon to come at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C.

So many questions about Senator Clinton and the role going forward and a few, perhaps, to be answered today, many more in the weeks and months ahead. And as you continue, you're looking the top right of the screen there, that is Senator Clinton's home here in Washington, D.C. You see the motorcade getting ready to bring her to this event here at the National Building Museum where she will step aside and endorse Barack Obama and you see the crowd on the right side of your screen gathered in this historic structure. Please stay with us, our special coverage will continue in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: We're still waiting for Hillary Clinton and her family to leave their home, here in northwest Washington. There you see the home, the motorcade on the left part of the screen. On the right part of the screen, several thousand people, her supporters, her friends have gathered at the National Building Museum, they are anxiously awaiting her arrival there and her speech suspending, formally suspending her bid for the presidency.

We want to welcome back our viewers in the United States and around the world. I am Wolf Blitzer reporting as we await the departure of the Clinton motorcade for their home for the National Building Museum.

I want to bring back Donna Brazile and Gloria Borger who are here watching all of this unfold. I asked you earlier to start thinking about the answer to this question, Donna, what role should Barack Obama ask former president Bill Clinton to play over the next several weeks and months of this presidential campaign against John McCain?

BRAZILE: You know, Wolf, at some point this week I'm going to go into my basement to find the memo that I wrote to Al Gore about Bill Clinton's role in that campaign back in 2000. Look, there's no question that Bill Clinton has the Midas touch when it comes to reaching out to the base voters as well as swing voters. Throughout the campaign for Senator Clinton he went into the rural areas, he was able to connect with the voters and people, at least in the Democratic Party, I can't speak for all Americans, but there's a great deal of respect for Bill Clinton, his presidency, what he's able to bring to the table, how he can frame the issues, he can be an enormous asset to Barack Obama in many ways in helping to raise money, going out there, reaching out to those constituencies that will be very important to Senator Obama's success this fall.

BLITZER: And what do you think?

BORGER: I think that first of all, you go to Bill Clinton and you say: President Clinton, what would you like to do for us? Where do you think you can be helpful? And you bring him into the campaign by...

BLITZER: And we are seeing the motorcade, and I hate to interrupt, Gloria. But take a look at this. They are finally leaving, it is 12:26 p.m., now on the East Coast, that light-colored, that silver Suburban, and we believe she and her family are in that vehicle, right there. They have left the house now in suburban Washington -- excuse me northwest Washington, D.C. and they'll be driving only a few miles over to the National Building Museum. I suspect with the secret service leading this motorcade, it shouldn't take more than 10 minutes or so to make the drive over to the National Building Museum. So, they are running about a half hour late or so. But, I interrupted you, Gloria. Go ahead.

BORGER: No, and I also think that Bill Clinton has had a great deal of success in rural areas with voters who were quite turned off by Barack Obama's remarks about rural America being bitter. And I think that in an interesting way, Bill Clinton could really help Obama there.

BRAZILE: He could also help Senator Obama by actually taking on John McCain early on for Senator Obama. Look, Bill Clinton when it comes to framing issues on national security and domestic policy, there is no question that Bill Clinton can make the case that another John McCain is another four years of this current president, George Bush. So, I think that calling him in and getting him on board, of course he needs some rest, but he will be a valuable asset.

BLITZER: What was the reason, back in 2000, that you and Al Gore, you were the campaign manager, decided, you know what, he'll have a low profile, he was the sitting president of the United States, right now, and you didn't use him as some of the critics suggested later in states where he potentially could have made a difference, like Arkansas, for example?

BRAZILE: I thought we used him, quite frankly, strategically, because what we were dealing with at the time was that we tried to use Bill Clinton to help us energize the base voters, but we saw in the polling that Al Gore had to appeal to Independents. I mean, Bill Clinton had lost some of the support of Independents, and we needed Al Gore to go out to make the case for Independents and to use Bill Clinton in areas where he can spike up the support in the base community.

BLITZER: I suspect that we'll see Bill Clinton out and about over the next few weeks and months, but nowhere near the way we saw him over these many months of the Clinton campaign. What do you think?

BORGER: No. I think he needs to recharge the batteries, as Donna was saying. And I think you're going to see Bill Clinton out on the campaign trail strategically deployed wherever they feel that he can be useful, particularly in those battleground states, because Bill Clinton is very, very popular there, and he can convince some Independent voters, don't turn away to John McCain. Remind them of what the economy was like, and in the Clinton years, if the economy remains the top issue, Bill Clinton has an awful lot of credibility on that.

BLITZER: All right, let's take another quick break. There, we'll show you the picture from the National Building Museum. Momentarily, Hillary Clinton will be arriving there together with her husband and her daughter, and she'll be going up on that stage, and speaking, we're told for maybe 20 minutes, half an hour or so, we don't know the interruptions with applause, there will be, and she will be making her case, why she has decided to suspend her presidential campaign, at least for now.

We'll take a quick break. Watch more of our coverage coming up. Remember cnnpolitics.com is where you can get a whole lot more information at the same time. Her friends, her supporters they are there, she should be arriving momentarily. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: All right, Hillary Clinton's motorcade should be arriving momentarily over here at the National Building Museum in Washington. The motorcade left a few moments ago from the Clinton home in Northwest Washington, it isn't all that far and when you have the Secret Service leading the motorcade, they have a tendency to move pretty quickly down those streets.

We want to welcome back our viewers in the United States and around the world. Hillary Clinton will be walking into this historic building in Washington, it was built back between 1882 and 1887. Several thousand of her supporters and friends and political insiders, her staff members, they've come together to welcome her on this historic day where she will technically be suspending her presidential nomination.

John King is over there, he's watching this with Candy Crowley. John, when we say suspend, this has legal and political connotations as opposed to ending her presidential campaign right now. I want you to explain to our viewers when she'll use the phrase -- I assume she'll use the phrase "suspending her campaign" -- what that technically means.

KING: Well, technically, it could mean she reserves the right to reignite or restart her campaign, but her staff is being very clear and very adamant in (ph) making the case that that is not her intention, that she will, as Candy reported a short time ago, unequivocally endorse Barack Obama today and say she is stepping aside. But that she wants to help the Democrats with Barack Obama at the top of the ticket, take back the White House in November.

But because she had that campaign debt, Wolf, and because she still wants to negotiate a role for her delegates and a role perhaps for herself even if she's not on the Democratic ticket at the convention in the fall, by suspending her campaign, she leaves open her ability to raise money to pay off that debt. She also leaves open some political options and a bit of leverage for herself in the negotiations that will go on from this moment forward.

But make no mistake about it, this is, with the exception of some footnotes still to be determined, the final chapter of the Clinton campaign for the Democratic nomination in 2008, and because of that, this is a page-turning day in the race for the White House. The focus today is on Senator Clinton, but when she leaves this stage an hour or so from now when she is done, more and more of the focus will be on Barack Obama and John McCain.

Yes, a lot of questions about Senator Clinton's future -- might she share the ticket with Barack Obama? Even if not, how will she campaign? What will President Clinton's campaign -- role be in the fall? So many questions, but the big thing happening here today is the final chapter of the Democratic race, and without a doubt, moving on to a general election campaign that at this moment in time is remarkably close even though you have voter frustrations about the economy, unhappiness with the Iraq War, unhappiness with President Bush.

Even though all the fundamentals in this race favor the Democrats overwhelmingly, John McCain is still very competitive in our new CNN polling and in other national polling. And so on that point, I want to bring back in our senior political correspondent Candy Crowley.

Candy, that has to be across the Democratic Party, a source of concern and frustration that in a year where the Democrats would expected -- would expected to be well ahead, they find themselves at the end of their long protracted battle facing a very tough general election.

CROWLEY: Absolutely, which is why they need wind at their back and that's why this speech is so important. They really need that unequivocal support from Hillary Clinton to move this thing forward. A moment, John, I think -- when our viewers are looking at this scene here, they can tell the historic nature of this building, and one of the reasons that Hillary Clinton today will not only offer that unequivocal support, but again talk about her supporters. She has more delegates than any other runner-up in history, more votes than any other runner-up in history. That gives her the power and that's why that power is so important as they face what looks a surprisingly close race with John McCain.

But the reason she wants to talk about the history of this is the Clinton campaign had always counted on women to fuel this campaign. Hillary Clinton always talked about the 90-year-old women that came up to her and said, I was born before women could have the vote, I want to live to see a woman in the Oval Office. So, those people she met along the way, this particular day is also for them, and why it has been so important and for so long.

Over the past couple of days, every staffer I have talked to has said this is important because we saw -- we talk a lot about the history of Barack Obama's campaign, but when you went to a Hillary Clinton rally, there were in fact mothers and daughters there who said, I'm coming for the history of it. This is as far as a woman has ever gone. Fathers and daughters saying, I wanted her to see this, because in fact, then I can tell her, you can do anything.

So, there is this interwoven with the future, and that unequivocal support is of course the history of all of this that she really wants to hit on. So, it will be one of those bittersweet good- byes, as they always are, John. You know, these people put two, three years of their life into this, not to mention what led up to it. So, it is hard to completely push this forward.

So, this will be a mixture of that, but the most important part is the Democratic Party is looking at John McCain who not only is doing surprisingly well, he's fairly close to Barack Obama when you ask voters who do you think can best handle the economy.

As we know, the economy has become huge. Democrats are really the default party when the economy is in trouble, because voters tend to look to Democrats who are more government activists when people are in trouble, so that John McCain is a fairly close and single-digits close to Barack Obama on that. Has to be worrisome for this party.

So in fact, what this will be looked at for eventually will be its forward motion, but all of the supporters here want to look back a little bit -- John?

KING: Much more from Candy Crowley in the moments just ahead. You're looking at new video there just in to CNN. That is outside this building, the National Museum Building. Senator Hillary Clinton's motorcade arriving here just moments ago. She is now in the building, just moments away from another dramatic moment in this remarkable campaign year. Senator Hillary Clinton about to suspend her campaign for the Democratic nomination and endorse Senator Barack Obama, the Democrat of Illinois, who will be his party's presidential nominee. You're watching this video just outside the National Building Museum here, Secret Service protecting the Clinton motorcade as they arrive here. This is just outside the hall and you hear the excitement building inside the hall. Many of the thousands of people in here have been asking us, where is she? Is she here yet? They now know the motorcade has arrived and the drama building inside the hall here as they await Senator Clinton.

You see the doors opening of the motorcade, again, this is tape from just a few moments ago. We'll watch this scene unfold outside the National Building Museum. You see Chelsea Clinton there entering the building after she stepped out of the car, the distinguished gray head of former President Clinton and Senator Clinton there now passing both her husband and her daughter to enter the building, the National Building Museum.

We're going to take a quick break, please stay with us. When we come back, the dramatic moment of Senator Hillary Clinton's speech here in Washington, D.C. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Hillary Clinton's getting ready now to walk into this room, where thousands of her supporters have gathered and to deliver her speech formally suspending her bid for the presidency. She is now there together with her husband and daughter. We have videotape of their arrival only moments ago in that motorcade, they walked out of the vehicles, they walked into the building.

The former First Lady, the current Senator from New York state, the former President and daughter Chelsea, their friends, their aides, they walked in, and we're now beginning to hear some of the sounds as we get ready to hear from Hillary Clinton. She is there. She is inside.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Chelsea Clinton, Dorothy Rodham, President Bill Clinton and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: All right, so they've now been introduced, and they're walking in. It's going to take a little while for them to make their way to the stage where Hillary Clinton will be speaking to this very, very enthusiastic crowd. There'll be some tears there, there's no doubt about that.

She has very, very enthusiastic and passionate supporters who must be so deeply disappointed that her bid for the presidency has failed. She did very, very well. Maybe even won more of the popular vote than Barack Obama, but when it comes to the all-important delegate count, he did better than she did and as a result, he will be the Democratic presidential nominee and Hillary Clinton won't, she'll still be the junior Senator, though, from New York state.

Let's listen in briefly to the sound, as these supporters are greeting the Clintons.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: The National Building Museum, a very historic site in the nation's capital to welcome Hillary Clinton on this important day in her political life. Not exactly what they wanted to see over these many months of a very, very tough, sometimes bitter campaign.

There she is. She's going to be giving her speech. We're told it is a very carefully drafted speech. She's been working on it now for the past several days. Some of her critics wanted her to do this Tuesday night when it became clear that Barack Obama had clinched this Democratic presidential nomination, that didn't happen, but it will happen now.

So, let's listen in and let's get ready. She's there and you see Chelsea, we see her mother, Mrs. Rodham, we see Bill Clinton up on the stage. And we'll listen in a little bit to this crowd getting excited.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

CROWD (chanting): Hillary, Hillary, Hillary!

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: Thank you very, very much. Well, this isn't exactly the party I'd planned, but I sure like the company.

(APPLAUSE)

And I want to start today by saying how grateful I am to all of you, to everyone who poured your hearts and your hopes into this campaign, who drove for miles and lined the streets waving homemade signs, who scrimped and saved to raise money, who knocked on doors and made calls, who talked, sometimes argued with your friends and neighbors...

(APPLAUSE)

... who e-mailed and contributed online, who invested so much in our common enterprise, to the moms and dads who came to our events, who lifted their little girls and little boys on their shoulders and whispered in their ears, "See, you can be anything you want to be."

(APPLAUSE)

To the young people...

(APPLAUSE)

... like 13-year-old Anne Riddell (ph) from Mayfield, Ohio, who had been saving for two years to go to Disneyworld and decided to use her savings instead to travel to Pennsylvania with her mom and volunteer there, as well.

To the veterans, to the childhood friends, to New Yorkers and Arkansans...

(APPLAUSE)

... who traveled across the country, telling anyone who would listen why you supported me. And to all of those women in their 80s and their 90s...

(APPLAUSE)

... born before women could vote, who cast their votes for our campaign. I've told you before about Florence Stein (ph) of South Dakota who was 88 years old and insisted that her daughter bring an absentee ballot to her hospice bedside. Her daughter and a friend put an American flag behind her bed and helped her fill out the ballot.

She passed away soon after and, under state law, her ballot didn't count, but her daughter later told a reporter, "My dad's an ornery, old cowboy, and he didn't like it when he heard Mom's vote wouldn't be counted. I don't think he had voted in 20 years, but he voted in place of my mom."

(APPLAUSE)

So to all those who voted for me and to whom I pledged my utmost, my commitment to you and to the progress we seek is unyielding.

You have inspired and touched me with the stories of the joys and sorrows that make up the fabric of our lives. And you have humbled me with your commitment to our country.

Eighteen million of you, from all walks of life...

(APPLAUSE)

... women and men, young and old, Latino and Asian, African- American and Caucasian...

(APPLAUSE)

... rich, poor, and middle-class, gay and straight, you have stood with me.

(APPLAUSE)

And I will continue to stand strong with you every time, every place, in every way that I can. The dreams we share are worth fighting for.

Remember, we fought for the single mom with the young daughter, juggling work and school, who told me, "I'm doing it all to better myself for her."

We fought for the woman who grabbed my hand and asked me, "What are you going to do to make sure I have health care?" and began to cry, because even though she works three jobs, she can't afford insurance. We fought for the young man in the Marine Corps t-shirt who waited months for medical care and said, "Take care of my buddies over there, and then will you please take care of me?"

(APPLAUSE)

We fought for all those who've lost jobs and health care, who can't afford gas or groceries or college, who have felt invisible to their president these last seven years.

I entered this race because I have an old-fashioned conviction that public service is about helping people solve their problems and live their dreams. I've had every opportunity and blessing in my own life, and I want the same for all Americans.

And until that day comes, you'll always find me on the front lines of democracy, fighting for the future.

(APPLAUSE)

The way to continue our fight now, to accomplish the goals for which we stand is to take our energy, our passion, our strength, and do all we can to help elect Barack Obama, the next president of the United States.

(APPLAUSE)

Today, as I suspend my campaign, I congratulate him on the victory he has won and the extraordinary race he has run. I endorse him and throw my full support behind him.

(APPLAUSE)

And I ask all of you to join me in working as hard for Barack Obama as you have for me.

(APPLAUSE)

I have served in the Senate with him for four years. I have been in this campaign with him for 16 months. I have stood on the stage and gone toe-to-toe with him in 22 debates. I've had a front-row seat to his candidacy, and I have seen his strength and determination, his grace and his grit.

In his own life, Barack Obama has lived the American dream, as a community organizer, in the State Senate, as a United States senator. He has dedicated himself to ensuring the dream is realized. And in this campaign, he has inspired so many to become involved in the democratic process and invested in our common future.

Now, when I started this race, I intended to win back the White House and make sure we have a president who puts our country back on the path to peace, prosperity and progress. And that's exactly what we're going to do, by ensuring that Barack Obama walks through the doors of the Oval Office on January 20, 2009.

(APPLAUSE)

Now, I understand -- I understand that we all know this has been a tough fight, but the Democratic Party is a family. And now it's time to restore the ties that bind us together and to come together around the ideals we share, the values we cherish, and the country we love.

We may have started on separate journeys, but today our paths have merged. And we're all heading toward the same destination, united and more ready than ever to win in November and to turn our country around, because so much is at stake.

We all want an economy that sustains the American dream, the opportunity to work hard and have that work rewarded, to save for college, a home and retirement, to afford that gas and those groceries, and still have a little left over at the end of the month, an economy that lifts all of our people and ensures that our prosperity is broadly distributed and shared.

We all want a health care system that is universal, high-quality and affordable...

(APPLAUSE)

... so that parents don't have to choose between care for themselves or their children or be stuck in dead-end jobs simply to keep their insurance.

This isn't just an issue for me. It is a passion and a cause, and it is a fight I will continue until every single American is insured, no exceptions and no excuses.

(APPLAUSE)

We all want an America defined by deep and meaningful equality, from civil rights to labor rights, from women's rights to gay rights...

(APPLAUSE)

... from ending discrimination to promoting unionization, to providing help for the most important job there is: caring for our families.

And we all want to restore America's standing in the world, to end the war in Iraq, and once again lead by the power of our values...

(APPLAUSE)

... and to join with our allies to confront our shared challenges, from poverty and genocide to terrorism and global warming.

You know, I've been involved in politics and public life in one way or another for four decades. And during those...

(APPLAUSE) During those 40 years, our country has voted 10 times for president. Democrats won only three of those times, and the man who won two of those elections is with us today.

(APPLAUSE)

We made tremendous progress during the '90s under a Democratic president, with a flourishing economy and our leadership for peace and security respected around the world.

Just think how much more progress we could have made over the past 40 years if we'd had a Democratic president. Think about the lost opportunities of these past seven years on the environment and the economy, on health care and civil rights, on education, foreign policy and the Supreme Court.

Imagine how far...

(APPLAUSE)

... we could have come, how much we could have achieved if we had just had a Democrat in the White House.

(APPLAUSE)

We cannot let this moment slip away. We have come too far and accomplished too much.

Now, the journey ahead will not be easy. Some will say we can't do it, that it's too hard, we're just not up to the task. But for as long as America has existed, it has been the American way to reject can't-do claims and to choose instead to stretch the boundaries of the possible through hard work, determination, and a pioneering spirit.

It is this belief, this optimism that Senator Obama and I share and that has inspired so many millions of our supporters to make their voices heard. So today I am standing with Senator Obama to say: Yes, we can!

(APPLAUSE)

And that together we will work -- we'll have to work hard to achieve universal health care. But on the day we live in an America where no child, no man, and no woman is without health insurance, we will live in a stronger America. That's why we need to help elect Barack Obama our president.

(APPLAUSE)

We'll have to work hard to get back to fiscal responsibility and a strong middle class. But on the day we live in an America whose middle class is thriving and growing again, where all Americans, no matter where they live or where their ancestors came from, can earn a decent living, we will live in a stronger America. And that is why we must help elect Barack Obama our president.

(APPLAUSE)

We'll have to work hard to foster the innovation that will make us energy independent and lift the threat of global warming from our children's future. But on the day we live in an America fueled by renewable energy, we will live in a stronger America. And that is why we have to help elect Barack Obama our president.

(APPLAUSE)

We'll have to work hard to bring our troops home from Iraq and get them the support they've earned by their service. But on the day we live in an America that's as loyal to our troops as they have been to us, we will live in a stronger America. And that is why we must help elect Barack Obama our president.

(APPLAUSE)

This election is a turning-point election. And it is critical that we all understand what our choice really is. Will we go forward together, or will we stall and slip backwards?

Now, think how much progress we've already made. When we first started, people everywhere asked the same questions. Could a woman really serve as commander-in-chief? Well, I think we answered that one.

(APPLAUSE)

Could an African-American really be our president? And Senator Obama has answered that one.

(APPLAUSE)

Together, Senator Obama and I achieved milestones essential to our progress as a nation, part of our perpetual duty to form a more perfect union.

Now, on a personal note, when I was asked what it means to be a woman running for president, I always gave the same answer, that I was proud to be running as a woman, but I was running because I thought I'd be the best president. But...

(APPLAUSE)

But I am a woman and, like millions of women, I know there are still barriers and biases out there, often unconscious, and I want to build an America that respects and embraces the potential of every last one of us.

(APPLAUSE)

I ran as a daughter who benefited from opportunities my mother never dreamed of. I ran as a mother who worries about my daughter's future and a mother who wants to leave all children brighter tomorrows. To build that future I see, we must make sure that women and men alike understand the struggles of their grandmothers and their mothers, and that women enjoy equal opportunities, equal pay, and equal respect.

(APPLAUSE)

Let us...

(APPLAUSE)

Let us resolve and work toward achieving very simple propositions: There are no acceptable limits, and there are no acceptable prejudices in the 21st century in our country.

(APPLAUSE)

You can be so proud that, from now on, it will be unremarkable for a woman to win primary state victories...

(APPLAUSE)

... unremarkable to have a woman in a close race to be our nominee, unremarkable to think that a woman can be the president of the United States. And that is truly remarkable, my friends.

(APPLAUSE)

To those who are disappointed that we couldn't go all of the way, especially the young people who put so much into this campaign, it would break my heart if, in falling short of my goal, I in any way discouraged any of you from pursuing yours.

Always aim high, work hard, and care deeply about what you believe in. And, when you stumble, keep faith. And, when you're knocked down, get right back up and never listen to anyone who says you can't or shouldn't go on.

(APPLAUSE)

As we gather here today in this historic, magnificent building, the 50th woman to leave this Earth is orbiting overhead. If we can blast 50 women into space, we will someday launch a woman into the White House.

(APPLAUSE)

Although we weren't able to shatter that highest, hardest glass ceiling this time, thanks to you, it's got about 18 million cracks in it...

(APPLAUSE)

... and the light is shining through like never before, filling us all with the hope and the sure knowledge that the path will be a little easier next time. That has always been the history of progress in America. Think of the suffragists who gathered at Seneca Falls in 1848 and those who kept fighting until women could cast their votes.

Think of the abolitionists who struggled and died to see the end of slavery. Think of the civil rights heroes and foot soldiers who marched, protested, and risked their lives to bring about the end of segregation and Jim Crow.

(APPLAUSE)

Because of them, I grew up taking for granted that women could vote and, because of them, my daughter grew up taking for granted that children of all colors could go to school together.

Because of them, Barack Obama and I could wage a hard-fought campaign for the Democratic nomination. Because of them and because of you, children today will grow up taking for granted that an African-American or a woman can, yes, become the president of the United States. And so...

(APPLAUSE)

... when that day arrives, and a woman takes the oath of office as our president, we will all stand taller, proud of the values of our nation, proud that every little girl can dream big and that her dreams can come true in America.

And all of you will know that, because of your passion and hard work, you helped pave the way for that day.

So I want to say to my supporters: When you hear people saying or think to yourself, "If only, or, "What if," I say, please, don't go there. Every moment wasted looking back keeps us from moving forward.

(APPLAUSE)

Life is too short, time is too precious, and the stakes are too high to dwell on what might have been. We have to work together for what still can be. And that is why I will work my heart out to make sure that Senator Obama is our next president.

(APPLAUSE)

And I hope and pray that all of you will join me in that effort.

(APPLAUSE)

To my supporters and colleagues in Congress, to the governors and mayors, elected officials who stood with me in good times and bad, thank you for your strength and leadership.

To my friends in our labor unions who stood strong every step of the way, I thank you and pledge my support to you.

To my friends from every stage of my life, your love and ongoing commitment sustained me every single day.

To my family, especially Bill and Chelsea and my mother, you mean the world to me, and I thank you for all you have done.

(APPLAUSE)

And to my extraordinary staff, volunteers and supporters...

(APPLAUSE)

... thank you for working those long, hard hours. Thank you for dropping everything, leaving work or school, traveling to places that you've never been, sometimes for months on end. And thanks to your families, as well, because your sacrifice was theirs, too. All of you were there for me every step of the way.

Now, being human, we are imperfect. That's why we need each other, to catch each other when we falter, to encourage each other when we lose heart. Some may lead, some may follow, but none of us can go it alone.

The changes we're working for are changes that we can only accomplish together. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are rights that belong to us as individuals. But our lives, our freedom, our happiness are best enjoyed, best protected, and best advanced when we do work together.

That is what we will do now, as we join forces with Senator Obama and his campaign. We will make history together, as we write the next chapter in America's story. We will stand united for the values we hold dear, for the vision of progress we share, and for the country we love.

There is nothing more American than that.

And looking out at you today, I have never felt so blessed. The challenges that I have faced in this campaign...

(APPLAUSE)

... are nothing compared to those that millions of Americans face every day in their own lives.

So today I'm going to count my blessings and keep on going. I'm going to keep doing what I was doing long before the cameras ever showed up and what I'll be doing long after they're gone: working to give every American the same opportunities I had and working to ensure that every child has the chance to grow up and achieve his or her God- given potential.

I will do it with a heart filled with gratitude, with a deep and abiding love for our country, and with nothing but optimism and confidence for the days ahead.

This is now our time to do all that we can to make sure that, in this election, we add another Democratic president to that very small list of the last 40 years and that we take back our country and once again move with progress and commitment to the future.

Thank you all. And God bless you, and God bless America.

(APPLAUSE)