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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Obama and McCain Face Off Over Economy; Hillary's Next Move
Aired June 9, 2008 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CAMPBELL BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, everybody, your money, your vote -- Barack Obama campaigning to make the economy issue number one this fall, trying to turn John McCain into John McBush. Can he do it? And what has Senator McCain got to say about it? Well, we are running the numbers and reading the tea leaves with the best political team on television.
Also, she says she's in it to win it for Barack Obama -- the "Raw Politics" behind Hillary Clinton's promise to work her heart out for the man who beat her.
Plus, the strange connection between Bill, Barack Obama and the blogger who taped Bill's temper tantrum. We will tell you about that.
And then later, breathtaking images and heartbreaking stories with the rivers rising and the earth giving ground. We're going to take you to the soggy scene in the Midwest and update you on the worst flooding there in decades.
We have got a very heavy night of news. And we begin with this.
Today, for the second day running, the average price of gasoline topped $4 a gallon nationwide. Tonight, Americans tell CNN they expect it to go even higher. And they are already making significant changes in their own lives.
The big question: With prices soaring and the job market sagging and the housing market tanking, can Barack Obama, like Bill Clinton in 1992, turn this into a referendum on the economy? Well, he sure seems to think so.
Take a look now at this map. These are the dozen states that were decided by five percentage points or less in 2004. Of these 12, Barack Obama plans, over the next two weeks, to campaign in four big ones, representing 79 electoral votes, touting his plans to fix the economy.
And in many of those purple states, yellow on our map, John McCain will be hot on his heels talking about your money, trying to win your vote.
We get more now from CNN's Jessica Yellin.
JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Barack Obama's economic message could not be any simpler. YELLIN: In his first policy speech of the general election, Obama attempted to bind his opponent to George Bush. He mentioned the president 15 times.
OBAMA: Senator McCain wants to turn Bush's policy of too little too late into a policy of even less even later. The centerpiece of John McCain's economic plan amounts to a full-throated endorsement of George Bush's policies. We can't afford four more years of skewed priorities that give us nothing but record debt.
YELLIN: McCain's campaign is striking back, hitting where Democrats have hurt before.
CARLY FIORINA, VICTORY CHAIR, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: Barack Obama's plan, basically, is to raise virtually every tax out there. Raising taxes when economies are hurting is the wrong formula.
YELLIN: Or, as McCain puts it:
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I will leave it to my opponent to propose returning to the failed big government mandates of the '60s and '70s.
YELLIN: The latest CNN poll shows, 78 percent of Americans believe the economy is in poor shape. So, Obama is seizing on that economic anxiety, proposing short-term solutions, including another round of rebate checks, part of a $50 billion stimulus package.
OBAMA: If the government can bail out investment banks on Wall Street, we can extend a hand to folks who are struggling here on Main Street.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
YELLIN: He promises to shut down corporate tax loopholes, and accuses McCain of supporting massive tax giveaways to an oil conglomerate.
OBAMA: When we're paying more than $4 a gallon for gas, the man who rails against government spending wants to spend $1.2 billion on a tax break for ExxonMobil. That isn't just irresponsible. It is outrageous.
YELLIN: And he's vowing to enact a middle-class tax cut that would help Americans who earn up to $150,000 a year. The policy details were few. Shaping a message was Obama's goal, as he seeks to define himself as McCain's opposite.
OBAMA: This is a choice you will face in November. You can vote for John McCain and see a continuation, see a continuation of Bush economic policies. But I don't think that's the future we want.
YELLIN (on camera): McCain says he believes the fundamentals of our economy are strong. Well, you can expect Obama to use that against McCain as much as possible. In fact, team Obama believes, if this election is a referendum on our economy, then Obama wins. Jessica Yellin, CNN, Washington.
BROWN: Digging deeper, CNN senior political analyst David Gergen, GOP strategist and CNN contributor Ed Rollins, and Dee Dee Myers, Bill Clinton's former White House press secretary and the author of "Why Women Should Rule the World."
Good to see you all.
David, let me start with you.
The economy's going to be a huge issue in this fall. As we just heard Jessica tell us, 78 percent of the people surveyed say that the economy is in poor shape. And look at this number. This is 86 percent of people think it's likely that gas prices are going to hit $5 per gallon this year.
Now, Obama argues, McCain is an extension of Bush's failed economic policies. If he is able to make this about the economy, is that a winner?
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Absolutely.
The economy is becoming the mother lode of this campaign. Neither Barack Obama, nor John McCain has been particularly effective in the primaries at convincing voters that they have the answers on the economy.
Today, Barack Obama is trying to seize the initiative. He's going to go out on this two-week tour to these key states, laying out his short-term plans today, laying out long-term plans a week from now. And if he can make this -- if he can turn the economy into his issue, if he can open up a big lead against John McCain at who would be more effective at addressing the economy in the future, yes, I think that -- I think he could crack open a big lead in the race and win the election.
We haven't yet heard John McCain really coming out fulsomely against it yet, and joining the debate. But Barack Obama got off to what I think was a strong start today in North Carolina.
BROWN: Ed, in an attempt to distance himself from Bush's policy, one of McCain's top advisers recently said this, that Bush knows very little about the economy, beyond holding down tax rates.
Does McCain have to make a clear break from Bush on this issue to have credibility with voters?
ED ROLLINS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, sure -- sure he does.
I mean, obviously, you can't say repeatedly say -- he said it himself -- and now to have his advisers say, I don't know very much about the economy, when it's the number-one issue in the country.
ROLLINS: And I think the critical thing is that he -- he, in turn -- I mean, leadership is going to be very important.
And the person who can get out front and say, I have a real plan. And economists around the country say, it's a plan that might work. It may be different than what's there today. But to argue that all I'm going to do is support the Bush tax cuts for the future, they're not going to stay in existence anyways. So, I think you have got to offer some alternatives. You have got to offer some hope.
BROWN: Dee Dee, let me ask you about Obama. We mentioned that his tour started today in North Carolina.
He's offering short-term solutions to ease general economic anxiety that Americans are having now. But do you think that's going to be enough, or does he really need to lay out a more detailed long- term policy to try to convince voters that he can do this?
DEE DEE MYERS, FORMER CLINTON WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Well, I think he needs to do both.
He needs to talk about some short-term solutions to people who are really feeling the pinch. And as he travels around the country, I'm sure he comes in contact every day with people who are really suffering because of high gas prices, job insecurity, the mortgage crisis.
But, at the same time, he needs a long-term plan. But the third piece of this for him is that he really has to connect with voters, that he has to make sure that he not only has a 10-point plan, but that he goes around and connects with the Democrats that he didn't necessarily connect with in the primaries. And a lot of working-class Democrats voted for Hillary Clinton on economic issues across the last three months.
In fact, she won the last three months of this campaign largely on economic issues. So, he needs to go back, dig in, connect his big ideas with the details that will make people's lives better. And I think he has the opportunity and the potential to do that. But now he has to go out and do it.
BROWN: So, how does he do that, David?
GERGEN: Well, I want to say this. He promised today in his speech that, a week from today, he would give his long-term plan, that he would lay it out in another speech then, to go to Dee Dee's point.
But I also think Dee Dee is right about it's -- the problem with his speech today was that it had too many different pieces. There was no central theme. And he needs to simplify this.
In the hands of a Clinton, this speech could have been really more powerful today. I think he needs to -- it almost sounded as if he didn't write this speech or didn't have much to do with it. He is a better speaker than this speech was.
Where I think he got the initiative was going out front and being first on it and making this economic tour. But I think he has to sharpen his rhetoric, sharpen the arguments. And, on that, I think this has got to be somehow communicated in a way that people can listen to.
It's a little too Washingtonian right now. It's got to have a little more Reagan, frankly, and a little more pop to it. The one line that really worked for him was the one about ExxonMobil. They just had these record profits. And now he's accusing McCain of supporting a tax break for ExxonMobil. That's a pretty good argument.
BROWN: Now, assuming, Ed, he's able to simplify, to boil all this language down, to get it into a, David, if you will, a "It's the economy, stupid" kind message that connects with people, that is centrally what this campaign becomes about, isn't it?
BROWN: How does McCain respond to that?
ROLLINS: This campaign has to be about the future. You have to give some hope that, in a year from now, gasoline won't be $6 a gallon. You have to give some hope that the mortgage situation -- that there won't be another million people losing their homes among the two million.
You have got to give some hope that, basically, it's not just about, I'm going to cut tax rates for the middle class and Bush, and Reagan, and McCain have all cut them for the rich people. You have got to basically convince blue-collar voters that you're going to help restimulate this economy, create jobs, and make their lives better and more effective.
BROWN: All right, guys, David Gergen, Ed Rollins, Dee Dee Myers, we are coming back to you in just a minute.
But we want to move forward, because, as always, we are live- blogging. Well, actually, Erica Hill is live-blogging. I'm still warming up.
But join in the conversation, if you want to, at CNN.com/360. We're going to have a lot more politics tonight, including the lowdown on Hillary Clinton's promise to work for Barack Obama.
And Bill Clinton back to his old ways, but it's not what you're thinking. We're going to explain.
And then later; rivers rising, lakes overflowing, water everywhere. And the worse may be yet to come. We're going to have the latest on the flooding tonight on 360.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: 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.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: Hillary Clinton over the weekend conceding the nomination and endorsing Barack Obama.
Senator Clinton also spoke about shattering the glass ceiling for women in America. It was a speech to remember.
And CNN's Candy Crowley has the "Raw Politics."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, JANUARY 2007)
H. CLINTON: It's about time, if not past time, that we had a woman president in the White House.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): But it was not the time.
History crystallizes in moments, but it is formed by decades. As she closed her campaign, Hillary Clinton thanked some of her most ardent supporters.
H. CLINTON: And to all those women in their 80s and their 90s...
H. CLINTON: ... born before women could vote, who cast their votes for our campaign.
CROWLEY: It was important to Clinton to put the period on this chapter in history, written by almost 18 million voters, many of them women.
H. CLINTON: You can be so proud that, from now on, it will be unremarkable for a woman to win primary state victories...
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
H. CLINTON: ... 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. (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
CROWLEY: You get hit by shrapnel when you break barriers. There were questionable columns, over-the-top punditry. And no one else was asked whether he was tough enough.
H. CLINTON: And, in the gentleman's words, we face a lot of evil men, you know? People like Osama bin Laden comes to mind. And what in my background equips me to deal with evil and bad men?
CROWLEY: Her female supporters saw themselves in her struggles, both personal and political. She was in their comfort zone, sometimes too close for comfort. There was a teacher in Des Moines.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The hard thing is, I am going through menopause.
CROWLEY: It was always a delicate dance for Clinton, to not be seen as the female candidate, while counting on and courting the female vote with the promise of history and the pull of familiar experiences.
H. CLINTON: Now, I don't think I'm the only woman here who feels that, sometimes, you have to work even harder, right?
CROWLEY: Along the trail, she never said sexism was at play, but the suggestion was there.
After a rough debate, Clinton traveled to Wellesley, alma mater.
H. CLINTON: In so many ways, this all-women's college prepared me to compete in the all-boys club of presidential politics.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
CROWLEY: By the time she conceded, Clinton was out there with it.
H. CLINTON: Like millions of women, I know there are still barriers and biases out there.
CROWLEY: For multiple reasons having nothing to do with gender, history did not crystallize for Hillary Clinton. But she believes she and her supporters are part of the decades that have shaped what surely will come.
H. CLINTON: 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.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
CROWLEY: Usually, victors make the history. But there are exceptions.
Candy Crowley, CNN, Washington.
BROWN: Digging deeper again with our panel, CNN senior political analyst David Gergen, Republican strategist and CNN contributor Ed Rollins, and former Clinton White House Press Secretary Dee Dee Myers, also the author of the book "Why Women Should Rule the World."
And, David, just bottom-line it. How much of a factor is Hillary Clinton going to be in this race going forward, do you think?
GERGEN: I think that remains to be seen.
It seems to me, the challenge for Barack Obama the next six or eight weeks is to see if he can crack this race open, if he can open up a lead of, say, 10 points or so on John McCain. And then he will -- he -- Hillary Clinton will be part of the campaign, but I don't think will be as central.
On the other hand, if John McCain stays right there -- and they're about two points apart right now -- Barack Obama, in August, may want Hillary Clinton on the ticket. I think that's the judgment he's going to have to make down the road.
But, right now, the challenge is up to him. She's gotten off the stage, just as he wanted. She did it graciously. She did it gracefully. She got a lot of points for that, properly so. I think there's a new warmth toward Hillary Clinton in the country today.
But now the spotlight falls on him alone. And he has to carry that. If he can't carry it, he may have to come back to her.
BROWN: Dee Dee, a recent poll shows us that 22 percent of her supporters said that they would stay home this fall. And then another 17 percent said that they would vote for McCain if she was not on the ticket.
How hard do you think it's going to be for Obama to keep those voters in his camp?
MYERS: Well, he's going to have to work hard at it.
First of all, I think some of the hard feelings that inevitably develop in a tough-fought campaign will dissipate with time, particularly if Senator Obama reaches out to women, first by acknowledging that a lot of their aspirations were represented in Hillary Clinton's candidacy, and that it may take a little time. And he needs to give them time.
So far, I think he's done a really good job of that. But this election will very likely be won among working-class women. Hillary Clinton, that was the core of her support. She really figured out in the closing months of her race how to speak to them, how to appeal to them, how to speak to their aspirations. And they supported her in huge numbers in places like West Virginia and Kentucky, huge numbers, 4-1.
And I think that if Senator Obama -- and that's a swing demographic, by the way. It's the one that is truly up for grabs. Whether Hillary Clinton is on the ticket or not, I think it will be in Senator Obama's interest to find a way to put Senator Clinton to work, helping to convince those women, and the men, but the women in particular, that -- that it makes a huge difference to their lives that a Democrat be elected, that Senator Obama be elected.
And I think she will do it. It's up to the Obama campaign, though, to figure out, what is the best role and to make the best use of what she's made clear is her willingness to help.
BROWN: And, Ed, fascinating stuff that John McCain has been doing just recently.
And I want to play a little sound here. This is him repeatedly praising Senator Clinton for inspiring this next generation of women.
Let's listen to what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCAIN: Senator Clinton has earned great respect for her tenacity and courage. The media often overlooked how compassionately she spoke to the concerns and dreams of millions of Americans. And she deserves a lot more appreciation than she sometimes received.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: Now, this has certainly got to reverberate with Clinton supporters, the die-hards.
ROLLINS: First of all, Hillary did not lose because she was a woman or because he was black.
He won because her campaign never had as good a strategy or never as much implementation. She was a great candidate. And I think that John McCain, a lot of Republicans, a lot of Democrats across this country, have great respect. And, if she would have been the nominee, which she came very close to, she would have been a very credible candidate and could have been the first woman president.
I think the bottom line here, though, is that Barack Obama is the candidate, and it's going to be between him and John McCain. Neither of them have articulated their vision in true words. I mean, they have -- Barack Obama has given great speeches. John McCain has given some speeches. But they really have to lay out, how do they connect to ordinary voters? And, once again, it's about the future and it's about leadership.
BROWN: But listening to what McCain was just saying there, he's clearly got a message. He's trying to reach the disaffected Hillary Clinton supporters.
BROWN: Does he have an actual shot at getting them?
ROLLINS: We will have to wait and see. There's a lot of voters out there today that aren't sure where they're going to be. John McCain has got to solidify his base. Barack Obama has to solidify the Democratic base.
I think, at the end of the day, there's a lot of Democrats who will come home, just as most of the Republicans will come home. I think, right now, we're still in sort of a season of licking your wounds and moving forward.
The problem with politics, this is only a gold medal. There's no silver medals or no bronze medals. And Hillary got the second-place finish. And her people have to realize that Obama is their candidate today.
BROWN: David, do you agree with that, essentially, that both McCain and Obama are out there hoping to win the support of not just women -- women, but blue-collar workers, those lower-income voters who did back Hillary Clinton? Who do you think has the better shot at courting them?
GERGEN: I want to come back to Dee Dee's point is, and that is how hard I think that Obama does need to work to reach out to women. He needs a very strong women's outreach effort within the campaign.
He needs to give at least one major speech, if not more, on how his policies would affect the future of women in a variety of ways, whether they're single or married. And now, yes, I think what he's doing right now is intended, by going to North Carolina and these other key states, and talking about economic policies, and middle- class tax breaks, and $4 gasoline, I think that is the overall effort to go after the blue-collar white vote, if you would.
But I think he needs to make a very targeted effort about women. I think Dee Dee is absolutely right. He needs to work on this. And it may well be -- I think he's going to need Hillary out there one way or another. I think he's going to need to showcase her, along with her husband, at the convention, and look to both of them to help carry his message in the fall.
BROWN: All right, guys, we have got to end it there. Unfortunately, we're out of time.
But, David Gergen, Ed Rollins, and Dee Dee Myers, many thanks to all of you. Appreciate it tonight.
And still to come, up close: Bill Clinton after Hillary's loss -- a look at what he plans to do now.
And then next, extreme weather -- homes washed away by floodwaters, too much water here. And it's hot elsewhere tonight. We're going to talk about that, the latest on both -- when 360 continues.
BROWN: Simply incredible, this house swept away by floodwaters in Wisconsin.
From the Midwest to the East Coast, extreme weather is taking a deadly toll. Take a look at this. These are rain totals for the past week in that area -- more than 16 inches of rain in parts of Illinois and Indiana. The orange area got more than a foot. Almost everywhere got at least four inches. At least 10 people have been killed, including six in Michigan. The trouble on the East Coast is heat, record heat. And the worst may be yet to come.
CNN's Erica Hill has the latest developments -- Erica.
ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Across the Midwest tonight, waiting -- for the floodwaters to recede, for the OK to return home, and for the rain to stop -- in parts of Indiana, record rainfall, 11 inches in some areas on Saturday alone, and record flooding, topping historic levels set in 1913.
GOV. MITCH DANIELS (R), INDIANA: Well, Mother Nature has landed another one on our chin. But we will get on top of this.
HILL: In New Hartford, Iowa, all 650 residents of this town are leaving.
J.D. LUND, NEW HARTFORD FIRE DEPARTMENT: The dike on the west end of town is lower than the surrounding. We did sandbag that a little bit, but that's pretty much a lost cause.
HILL: The flooding here comes two weeks to the day after New Hartford was hit by a tornado.
In Wisconsin, homes broken up like matchsticks and swept away. An embankment on Lake Delton failed, nearly emptying the 245-acre lake and taking four homes with it. Thirty counties there are now under a state of emergency.
GOV. JIM DOYLE (D), WISCONSIN: We have some very serious loss in this state. I think there's no doubt we have already met any standard that FEMA wants for disaster relief.
HILL: But the disaster isn't over. Many rivers aren't expected to crest until later this week. The storms also spawned tornadoes in Missouri, Nebraska, and the outskirts of Chicago. You can see the massive funnel in this I-Report.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wow.
HILL: And, in the Northeast, stifling heat from Georgia to New England continuing for a third day, with temperatures pushing into the triple digits. (END VIDEOTAPE)
BROWN: And Erica joining us now.
The heat really is awful. When is it going to end?
HILL: Well, the good news, especially for us here in New York City and a lot of other folks on the East Coast, is that we're told it should break either some time tonight or into tomorrow.
As for all that flooding, there is some more rain there now, but that system is expected to push out towards the east, actually, tonight into tomorrow -- so, some relief coming in both areas of the country, luckily.
BROWN: All right. And I know you're following some of the other big developments, other headlines today, as well.
HILL: Yes, and this one, we have been keeping a close eye on.
Former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan is going to testify next week before a House committee -- at issue here, whether Vice President Dick Cheney ordered him to make misleading statements to the press about the leaking of CIA agent Valerie Plame's identity. McClellan writes about the scandal in his new best-selling book, "What Happened."
Senator Ted Kennedy back home tonight on Cape Cod. He left Duke University Medical Center in North Carolina today, a week after undergoing surgery on his brain tumor. He now will continue treatment with chemotherapy and radiation.
And, at McDonald's nationwide, hold the tomatoes. The chain is not -- is pulling, rather, sliced tomatoes from all of its sandwiches over fears of salmonella poisoning. Other restaurants and grocery stores have also stopped selling tomatoes while health officials try to find the source of the outbreak that has now left 145 people ill.
On that note, here's tonight's "Beat 360" photo.
BROWN: Barack Obama bike-riding in Chicago yesterday. Oh, the look.
Here's the caption from our staff winner, Dan: "Obama campaigns for the dork vote."
HILL: That's going over well very with people who are advocating helmet use on bikes.
BROWN: OK, think you can do better? Go to CNN.com/360, and send us your entry. And we will announce the winner at the end of the program.
Up next: Anderson on assignment in Rwanda with a group of endangered mountain gorillas. He's going to have a preview of the second installment of our "Planet in Peril" series.
Also ahead: Bill Clinton and the blogger -- new details about that interview where the former president called a reporter a scumbag.
That's coming up.
BROWN: Anderson is in Rwanda tonight working on the next installment of our special series, "Planet in Peril." He and his crew have been climbing in search of the mountain gorilla, one of the world's most majestic and most endangered animals.
The Rwandan government, with limited resources, is working to save the gorillas. As Anderson reports, Rwanda's success is a rare triumph.
COOPER: Campbell, we're in Rwanda for our "Planet in Peril: Battle Lines." It's part two in our "Planet in Peril" series. We're working again with Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and this year, we're traveling also with Lisa Ling, correspondent for "The Oprah Winfrey Show" and for "National Geographic."
We've come to Rwanda, because in many ways it's a success story. We're checking in on the mountain gorilla as we brought you that story before. But we wanted to check in on the world's last remaining mountain gorillas, which here in Rwanda, are pretty well cared for. They're protected in a national park.
The government takes it very seriously. They have rangers patrolling the park, and they've struck a balance between the needs of tourism and bringing money into the country and also protecting the habitat of the gorillas.
So Rwanda, as I said, is a success story. Just over the border in the Democratic Republic of Congo, anything but a success. There the gorillas are under tremendous threat, and they're now nearly a million internally displaced people. We were just visiting some of the refugee camps inside the Democratic Republic of Congo. And it's just a terrible scene that's going on there.
Later on in the week, we're also going to be traveling to other countries in central Africa to look at where -- where man is in conflict over natural resources, where overpopulation and the food crises is causing more and more people to go deeper into forest.
They're destroying not only forest habitat, but they're also destroying animal species. And they're putting themselves and, frankly, all of us at risk by coming across and unleashing viruses, which had only existed in animal populations but which are now crossing over into human populations.
So it's all part of "Planet in Peril." We'll be traveling all week, and we'll be bringing you more reports every Monday night -- Campbell.
BROWN: All right. Amazing animals. "Planet in Peril: The Battle Lines," will be airing on CNN this fall. Anderson and his team will take you to parts of the world where nature and its resources are caught in the crossfire.
Up next, though, race and politics. Barack Obama could be the country's first African-American president. Well, will his race affect your vote? The surprising results of a new poll.
Also ahead, Bill Clinton's next role. His wife's campaign is over, but he's not slowing down. Gary Tuchman goes up close, coming up.
BROWN: How will race play out in the battle for the White House? Is there a way either Barack Obama or John McCain might try to use race to his advantage?
Well, a new Gallup poll out today found that 78 percent of blacks polled said that Obama's race would make no difference in defining the vote for Obama or not. When asked the same question, 88 percent of white voters said Obama's race wouldn't be an influence on them.
Well, joining us now for a big of a strategy session on race and politics are Marcus Mabry, national business editor of "The New York Times." And back again with us, Republican strategist and CNN contributor Ed Rollins. Also with us, CNN political analyst and talk radio host Roland Martin.
Roland, let me start with you. Are you surprised that the Gallup poll shows that such a large majority of Americans, black and white, say that Obama's race won't impact their vote?
ROLAND MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I'm not surprised by it, because people will say that. The question is whether they do in the voting booth. We've seen these kind of surveys over the last year, the same thing when it comes to will America vote for a woman for president? But we know from exit polls, Campbell, coming from Pennsylvania, some degree Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky, that some -- between 15 and 20 percent of the folks who talked to our exit pollers said that race was the No. 1 factor. That could be critical in a very close election. BROWN: Marcus, you wrote a very provocative and fascinating piece in yesterday's "New York Times." I want to quote you: "Some people argue that one of the reasons Mr. Obama was able to defeat Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton was that a large number of white voters saw him as post-racial. In other words, Mr. Obama was black but not too black."
So why do you think white voters did see him differently? Differently especially from earlier, previous black politician?
MARCUS MABRY, "NEW YORK TIMES": You know, we examined that question. We talked to lots of experts and sociologists who look at this question of race in America. And how do we classify one another, how do we judge one another?
And one of the interesting things to me was not only did the sociologists talk about the difference of Obama as a biracial American, someone who has a white mom and a black dad, which is fundamentally different from every other black candidate we've seen up to the present for Democratic nomination.
But even Jesse Jackson Jr., Jesse Jackson's son, congressman from Illinois, talked to me about the generational difference and about how his generation is much more careful. He actually said Barack Obama may be the first major black politician since Martin Luther King to actually be careful about his language, to not kind of give in to the passions about wanting to say whatever he wants to say, but actually tailing one's argument for one's arguments.
And that Jesse Jackson actually made it sound like that was a sign of maturity amongst black candidates. And Barack Obama was actually a rarity for that. Although not a rarity for their generation but for all those who came before, including Jesse Jackson's dad, a rarity.
BROWN: Ed, let me read you another quote from Marcus' piece: "How black can Mr. Obama be before he alienates white voters? Or, to pose the question more cynically, how black do the Republicans have to make him in order to win?"
I mean, race is going to be unavoidable, I think, in a general election. Do you see Republicans using it?
ED ROLLINS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Unfortunately, it's always out there. Some segment, small, large, and I think it will depend. And the critical thing here is John McCain is not the kind of man who's going to allow his campaign to use it.
Barack Obama certainly doesn't want to use it. I think this is a campaign about taking America to a different place. You know, I think the bottom line is Barack Obama, as long as he is putting forward a message that's for all Americans, and there's not anger -- the danger here in why whites sometimes get upset, it's about anger. It's about, as you said in your column, it's about grievance. And if someone is fair and sits across a table and argues with their different points of view, as Martin Luther King did. Martin Luther King could have said, "Burn, baby burn" and burned this country down in the '60s. He didn't. He basically tried to bring people together and make people very socially conscious. And I think that's why he was one of the most successful leaders ever. Some of the leaders who followed him were more militant and, obviously, turned people off.
You know, Campbell...
BROWN: Roland, I was going to ask you, do you agree with Ed, though, first that Republicans -- well, do you think the Republicans, maybe not John McCain, but that they will use race as an issue in this campaign?
MARTIN: Well, first of all, we've already seen some folks try to use different elements for their own particular purposes. It could very well backfire, because again, if you have the nominee out there saying, "Look, I don't want this done," it could cause some serious problems.
But at the same time, what you see with Obama is called a dance, Campbell. It is a dance that many African-Americans, frankly, have to do when you're operating in corporate American and mainstream America where you can't appear to be too ethic. You have to watch what you say and watch what you do.
When you look at that headline -- and Marcus has done my radio show today and talked about it -- this whole notion of being too black. I know what Ed's talking about when he says don't appear to be angry. But even when you -- even if you're not angry, it's still a question of you can't be too black. And so this -- this generation of politicians certainly understands that, when you begin to run for larger office, statewide office, a national office.
This is a much broader issue that even takes place in corporate America every single day that African-Americans have to deal with. Many of them operate in two different worlds.
BROWN: Do you agree with that, Marcus?
MABRY: Absolutely, Campbell. There's no question. It's, like, being bi-cultural in fact. If one grows up in, certainly, an African- American community and works in a largely white community, we do go back and forth between cultures, as it were. And one must be ever confident, every, ever aware of what side you're presenting.
I think one really interesting thing about this race is the fact that Jim Webb was at the Council of Foreign Relations today, the senator from Virginia.
MABRY: And then he was the one that was talking about himself as someone who has roots back in Appalachia, that part of the country that Barack Obama had some problems with in the Democratic primaries. And what Jim Webb said, of course everyone acknowledges Barack Obama would be the first African-American president should he win this raise. At the same time, Jim Webb said, he should be talking about how he will be the 14th Scotch-Irish president if he's to win this race, as well.
Jim Webb is saying Barack Obama has to talk about the two sides of himself. The fact that he is a biracial American.
BROWN: And we've got to end it there. Many thanks to Marcus, to Ed, and to Roland, as always. Thanks, guys, appreciate it.
Up next, Bill Clinton after the primaries. What's in store for him? Up close when 360 continues.
BROWN: Hillary Clinton wasn't the only one trying to make history this year. There was her husband. After months of campaigning and controversy, the former president is off the trail but hardly out of the spotlight.
So while the guessing game begins about her next move, it is worth taking a look at what he may be up to now. Looking at Bill Clinton, up close tonight, here's CNN's Gary Tuchman.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Bill Clinton is back to his old life.
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm going back to work, as you see. I have -- I have lots to do. My foundation is involved all over the world in AIDS, and in climate change, in all kinds of development work.
TUCHMAN: Instead of campaigning for his wife in little towns from coast to coast, Mr. Clinton was campaigning against AIDS and TB in a speech at the United Nations.
CLINTON: My foundation's primary focus in this area has been in the area of HIV and AIDS, where we have worked for six years.
TUCHMAN: Extremely noble and important causes. But don't think the 42nd president of the United States doesn't wish he was still stumping for the woman he wanted to become the 44th.
CLINTON: I would be here for her if she asked me, if we had never been married.
TUCHMAN: Up until the very last primary, he was making five, six, seven campaign stops a day, the only former president in American history who campaigned to become first spouse.
CLINTON: She's going to end this thing roaring. And what are they going to say if she wins the popular vote? "I'm sorry. We're going to give it to the caucus states that are going Republican in November"?
TUCHMAN: But if Bill Clinton had rose-colored glasses in these last several weeks...
(on camera) Mr. President, is this still winnable?
TUCHMAN (voice-over): ... he pulled those glasses off a bit when we watched him campaign last week in Mill Bend (ph), South Dakota.
CLINTON: This may be the last day I'm ever involved in a campaign of this kind. I thought I was out of politics until Hillary decided to run. But it has been one of the greatest honors of my life to be able to go around and campaign for her for president.
TUCHMAN: His words were poignant to supporters of the Clintons and seemingly gracious to most everyone else. But incredibly, 45 minutes later at the same event, when confronted by a blogger who he very likely thought was a fan at the rope line, he had this to say.
CLINTON: It's just the most biased press coverage in history. It's another way of helping Obama. You know, they didn't do any studies, about -- they had all these people standing up in his church, cheering calling Hillary a white racist, and he didn't do anything about it.
TUCHMAN: Many thought Bill Clinton's defense of his wife knew no bounds. Others think you just don't tell a guy like Bill Clinton what to do.
DONNA BRAZILE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It's very difficult to tell a former president what role he should play and then to somehow or another script him as if he's some junior staffer. He's not. He's the former president of the United States.
TUCHMAN: So it appears Bill Clinton will not be a co-president, a top adviser, or at the very least will not be living in the White House during the next term.
CLINTON: If a politician doesn't want to get beat up, he shouldn't run for office. If a football player doesn't want to get tackled, doesn't want to risk a dislocation of the wrist (ph), he shouldn't put the pads on.
TUCHMAN: His old life certainly seems more dignified. But he and his wife wanted so much more.
TUCHMAN: But don't bet against Bill Clinton campaigning again and soon. Because just last week, Barack Obama said this: quote, "Bill Clinton is an enormous talent, and I would welcome him campaigning for me."
So it would not be shocking to see Bill Clinton campaigning again but, Campbell, it will be very interesting, particularly the first time he goes out campaigning for Barack Obama.
BROWN: Absolutely. Won't want to miss that one.
All right, Gary Tuchman. And Gary will be back shortly. He's back with a twist, though, that that blogger that Mr. Clinton unloaded on, well, she has been in the headlines before in connection with Barack Obama.
Also, we're going to fill you in on American Airlines' plans to lighten your wallet to fatten their bottom line. See how much more you're going to be paying to fly when 360 continues.
BROWN: Before the break, you heard a portion of Bill Clinton's rant, for want of a better word, to a blogger with a tape recorder, Mayhill Fowler. Well, here's another sample. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYHILL FOWLER, BLOGGER: Mr. President, what do you think about that hatchet-job somebody did on you in "Vanity Fair" at the end of the race?
CLINTON: Sleazy. He's a really dishonest reporter. And one of our guys talked to him. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) And I haven't read it. There's just five or six blatant lies in there, but he's a real slimy guy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: As we said, there is a twist here. Not in what he said, but who he said it to. And not only a twist, a question, as well. Did she break the rules?
Gary Tuchman's covering both of those angles tonight, and he's joining us once again.
And Gary, this blogger -- her name is Mayhill Fowler -- has said herself that, quote, "Of course, he had no idea I was a journalist," referring to Clinton. Does that surprise you?
TUCHMAN: Well, at least she's admitting it.
TUCHMAN: We were at the event, and we had been covering Bill Clinton over the last few months. And each time his handlers keep us far away from him. They don't want him coming close to us to go on our camera. They're afraid he'll say something that could hurt his wife.
TUCHMAN: So the only way to get close to him is to not have a camera, not have a note pad, not have a tape recorder. So when we heard these words were uttered, my automatic assumption was this was a woman who blended in and got him to talk. So I wasn't surprised at all.
BROWN: And it's not the first time she's done this either, right?
TUCHMAN: Well, that's what's so interesting, is that two months ago at a Barack Obama fundraiser in California that was closed to the press, Ms. Fowler was at it. And Barack Obama at this fundraiser uttered the words "bitter small-town Americans," and the rest is history.
BROWN: Yes. Words that would come back to haunt. And she was the one who had done this again.
So this type of, I guess, stealth blogging, you know, is what you would refer to it as, it's a real problem. A new reality out on the campaign trail.
TUCHMAN: You know another stealth blogger? A stealth reporter is? Borat. OK, Borat pretends he's somebody else in his movie, and he gets great questions. But how credible is it? It's an ethical problem. But it's going to be something we see more and more in our society.
BROWN: Hey, it's the world we live in.
TUCHMAN: It is.
BROWN: I don't think it's going away. All right. Interesting. Gary Tuchman with us tonight.
And Erica Hill joining us again with a "360 News and Business Bulletin."
ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Campbell, in response to the runaway price of crude oil, Saudi Arabia calling for a conference today between oil-producing and oil-consuming nations. No date or location has been set yet for the meeting, but you can bet we'll keep you posted on that one.
As for that rising cost in fuel, well, you can blame that for taking another bite out of the airline industry. American Airlines is now adding $20 to the cost of every round-trip domestic ticket it sells.
And with the price of everything going up, I'm happy to report that there's also at least one thing that is actually going down. Believe it or not, Apple's new iPhone. At almost $200, it's about half the cost of the current model. Apple claims it is 36 percent faster than any of its closest rivals. You can test it out for yourself sometime next month, Campbell. BROWN: All right. And time now for our "Beat 360" winner. There is one.
Tonight's picture is of none other than Barack Obama out for a Sunday bike ride in Chicago. And the staff winner tonight is Dan -- yes, the staff winner tonight is Dan for this: "Barack Obama campaigns for the dork vote."
(SOUND EFFECT: "Ohhh.")
BROWN: And our viewer winner is Kristien, who beamed in all the way from Antwerp, Belgium, with this winning caption: "Finally, the training wheels are off and the real race begins!"
(SOUND EFFECT: "Yay!")
BROWN: Very clever. I like that.
HILL: That was good. I think that's the second time she's won all the way from Belgium.
HILL: I believe so. We'll have to have her on the show.
BROWN: You can check out all the other captions we've received by clicking on the link to our blog at CNN.com/360.
"The Shot" is next. Like father, like son. Robbie Knievel's Texas-style stunt.
HILL: Time now for "The Shot." Tonight it features a familiar name and feat, as it turns out.
Robbie Knievel back with us tonight for "The Shot." This is how he spends his weekend. Evel's daredevil son jumped over 22 Hummers -- wait for it, there we go -- at a raceway in Ft. Worth, Texas. Of course, what would it be without a burst of fire and a star-emblazoned jump suit?
By the way, we did notice on his Web site, Robbie Knievel is able -- available to perform in your event or venue. It could be a great way to add some fun to your office party, wedding, bar mitzvah. I mean, really, just think. People go to the water coolers at work, perhaps. Great. Maybe we should get him in here.
BROWN: Yes, my little boy's first birthday party, Robbie Knievel.
HILL: Perfect. I hope I get invited.
BROWN: All right, Erica, thanks.
And coming up at the top of the hour, why Barack Obama is campaigning in states that Democrats don't traditionally win.
And Hillary Clinton's farewell message. Can she deliver on her promise to deliver her supporters to Obama? That and more ahead on 360.