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CNN LATE EDITION WITH WOLF BLITZER
Democratic National Convention About to Get Under Way
Aired August 24, 2008 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, HOST: And welcome to this special LATE EDITION.
I'm Wolf Blitzer, reporting from the Pepsi Center here in Denver.
The Democratic National Convention kicks off in a few hours. We're about to preview all the action. We're going to cover all the angles. Major newsmakers are standing by live.
CNN's John King is with me right now. Gloria Borger will be joining us in a little while.
John, you know, as we get ready for this Democratic convention that formally begins tomorrow, let's take a look at the latest CNN Poll of Polls. And just to give some context, where Barack Obama and John McCain were only a month or so ago.
Obama was at 49 percent, McCain was at 41 percent, 10 percent unsure. In our latest average of these major national polls, Obama is now at 46 percent, McCain is at 42 percent, a four-point spread. About 12 percent now unsure.
This is a pretty -- very close contest, I would say.
KING: It is a very tight contest. Obama has actually improved his standing a point or two in the last 24 to 48 hours, which Democrats hope is the beginning of a bit of a bounce.
You get more attention going into your convention. Obviously they will get a lot of attention over the next four days.
Democrats are hoping that they can get to where they think this race should be -- eight, 10, 12 points in their favors. All the fundamentals favor the Democrats this year. A little case of the jitters.
Democrats don't like to admit it publicly, but they thought they would be in a little stronger position coming into this convention. The big challenge for Barack Obama and his new partner, Joe Biden, Democrats are optimistic, but they realize there are many challenges ahead for Obama to convince the American people he's a safe choice.
BLITZER: And as important as these national polls might be to show trends, snapshots, what's happening in the country as a whole, much more important what's happening in the battleground states, whether Florida, or Pennsylvania, Ohio, or Michigan, Colorado, where we are right now. In virtually all of those states, this is neck and neck.
KING: A brand new poll out here in Colorado this morning showing McCain up I think one or two points. It's within the margin of error, but there's a reason the Democrats are here in the Mountain West.
The electoral map changes every cycle. The Democrats look at some states and think, you know what? This is a ticket with no southerner on it.
Barack Obama's from Illinois. Joe Biden's from Delaware. Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, the last two Democratic presidents, where were they from? The South. So Democrats have a challenge.
They can't count on picking up anything in the South. They'll target a couple of places, but they can't count on any of those states. So where are they going to look to take away from what George Bush won in 2000 or 2004?
They're going to look right here in Colorado. They're going to look nearby in Nevada. They're going to come out here in the Mountain West and try to remake the electoral map. One of the reasons Democrats are right here this week.
BLITZER: All right. Let's bring in our first guest today.
Joining us now is Senator Jack Reed. He's the senator from Rhode Island, Democrat. He went to Iraq only a few weeks ago with Senator Obama and Senator Chuck Hagel.
Senator Reed, thanks very much for coming in.
REED: Thanks, Wolf. Glad to be here.
BLITZER: He's joining us from our Washington bureau.
What do you make of Biden? Because you supposedly were on that short list at well. Were you on the short list? Were you formally vetted? Did you go through all that process?
REED: No, I did not. I made it very clear very early on that I wanted to seek re-election to the Senate from Rhode Island, and hopefully the people of Rhode Island will send me back to represent them in the United States Senate. So I was never vetted, never on a short list of vice president, although on a lot of short lists for other things.
BLITZER: Well, you're not necessarily Shaquille O'Neal. Is that what you're suggesting?
REED: No, I'm not Shaquille O'Neal, yes. I'm on everyone's short list.
BLITZER: Yes, all right. Yes, OK. All right. Well, you and I traveled to Iraq together a few years ago, so I know you're very tall in many, many respects, especially on national security and foreign policy. You're a former Army Ranger, a graduate of West Point.
The Republicans keep saying that the fact that Senator Obama had to bring Joe Biden in underscores his vulnerability that he doesn't have the national security, the foreign policy experience to be commander in chief. And the fact that Biden is there on the ticket right now reaffirms that.
I wonder if you want to respond.
REED: Oh, I think it shows to me just the opposite. It shows that Barack Obama is someone who is prepared to bring into his administration talented people from all walks of life that will be able to help him move forward, but it will be clear that he will be the president.
I had the privilege of being with him, as you pointed out, Wolf, to visit with President Karzai in Afghanistan, with Prime Minister in Iraq, and I saw in both cases a very firm, very determined, very articulate spokesperson, or representative, who could deliver a message, a tough message in both cases. He was urging our allies to do much more, and they should do much more.
And I think he's type of person, through his intellect and his temperament, that can bring in strong, forceful and experienced people, but be clearly the leader, clearly the president, clearly the one who will mark the course for this country going forward.
KING: Senator Reed, John King here in Denver.
I want to ask you about the changing dynamics of the Iraq political debate. During the primaries, Democratic voters, no matter who they supported, had one single threshold question for national security, and that was, how fast will you get the troops home from Iraq? And Barack Obama obviously benefits from that dynamic.
Now that the Bush administration is negotiating this agreement that appears to have a goal of getting the troops out by 2011, how does that change the debate? Some say it benefits Obama. He can say, see, I called for a deadline. But does it also perhaps lessen the enthusiasm, the excitement, the energy in the Democratic Party now that those troops actually appear to be on their way out? And does it change the threshold?
Is the question now not, will Barack Obama get the troops out, or when will he get them out, but is he ready for all the other complicated jobs a commander in chief has to take on?
REED: Well, I think it favors Senator Obama dramatically because it does underscore the fact that he spoke out very forcefully about a deadline, about a responsible way of getting our forces out, and now that is going to be accepted by this administration. In fact, over many, many months, we in the Congress, Senator Levin and myself, particularly, have been trying to urge that policy, and it was rejected. Now it's being accepted. So he, I think, gets great credit for foresight, and also for strategically recognizing what we have to do. And then, as this issue becomes less central to the concerns of the people, the other issues that are so critical, particularly the economy, restructuring our economy, making sure we can grow jobs that pay well, making sure we have an energy policy, all of that I think favors Senator Obama. He has, I think, both the policy and the expertise and the intellect to deal with these problems. And frankly, it's something that Senator McCain touches on very, very obliquely, because I don't think that's his first interest nor his best suit.
BLITZER: Doesn't it show though that the surge has actually worked, Senator Reed, and that Senator McCain -- and he'll argue this very forcefully -- that he was right and Senator Obama was wrong in opposing the surge?
REED: Well, I think the issue here is not simply the surge. I think Senator McCain would have us all believe the war in Iraq began with the surge and ended with the surge. That's not the case.
It began in October of 2002, when Senator McCain validated I think a very flawed strategy of the Bush administration. And even then, Senator Obama had the vision and I think the wisdom to see the problems that were inherent in this approach.
The surge has produced a reduction in violence, but what it has not yet done fully is created the kind of reconciliation, the kind of political accommodation. That is the ultimate, I think, test of what will help in Iraq, and I think the effort that Senator Obama has led to try to push the burden, not just militarily, but politically on the Iraqis, is bearing fruit. And that ultimately will be the test, not so much the tactical situation, but the political situation.
BLITZER: All right, Senator. Thanks very much.
REED: Thanks, Wolf. Thanks, John.
BLITZER: Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island joining us.
We'll see you back in Washington, unless you're coming out here to Denver first. Are you?
REED: I'll be out there in a few days.
BLITZER: All right. Good. We'll see you out here.
REED: Thank you.
BLITZER: Let's go right to the Obama campaign. Right now, Anita Dunn is joining us here on the set, and Anita is a senior adviser to Senator Obama.
I'm going to play a little clip, Anita. I want you to listen to what Rush Limbaugh said on Wednesday before we knew that Joe Biden was in fact the running mate. Listen to what Rush Limbaugh said.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I really hope it's Biden. We don't want to say that too loud, but I really do hope that it's Joe Biden, because we've got a mountain of archival audio on Joe Biden.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
BLITZER: A mountain of archival audio on Joe Biden. Joe Biden's been on television, on the radio, a lot over the years.
How worried are you that the McCain campaign, the Republicans are now going to throw back at you all of the stuff, a lot of the comments that Joe Biden made over the years?
DUNN: Well, you know, Wolf, I think that Rush Limbaugh doesn't need a lot of help from our campaign coming up with material for his show. He makes it up if we don't give it to him.
You know, Joe Biden is someone who, you know, has brought change to Washington over the years, but has never become part of Washington. You know, those of us who have seen him over the years and observed him have been struck by the fact that he goes home every night and takes that train home every night to Delaware. Obviously, he has been a leader both in the Judiciary Committee, where he wrote the landmark Violence Against Women Act, as well as on the Foreign Affairs Committee, where he has been a leader in terms of bipartisan shaping of our foreign policy.
It's no coincidence that two of the first reactions that came out yesterday after the announcement were from Senator Lugar, a Republican from Indiana who has served with him, and from Senator Hagel, a Republican from Nebraska. He has earned the support of Republicans and Democrats alike, and I think in many ways shows exactly the kind of president that Barack Obama wants to be.
BLITZER: This is going to get tough, though, John. It's going to be a feisty exchange.
KING: A very feisty exchange.
And let me ask it to you this way. Joe Biden said during the Democratic primaries several times he did not think Barack Obama was ready to be president. Of course, he has a different opinion now, but if we are not to believe that he meant it when he said it then, why should we believe anything he says from here on out during a political campaign?
DUNN: Joe Biden has said that Barack Obama has the judgment to be president, that he has the spine of steel and the toughness needed to deal with world leaders. You know, campaigns are campaigns and, frankly, John McCain is going to pick somebody next week, and the odds are that either that person will have said things about John McCain, or John McCain will have said things about that person, in the case of Governor Romney, for instance, that would sound -- and people in this country understand during a political campaign you want to win.
At the end of the day, Joe Biden, you know, has said that he believes that Barack Obama has the judgment, and that's what at the end of the day this is about, is judgment and the character to be president. And Joe Biden made it very clear yesterday he believes Barack Obama is the person to do this.
BLITZER: All right. Anita, we're going to get the first official reaction from the Obama campaign, namely from you, to this new ad that the McCain campaign released at 3:00 a.m. this morning. Pointedly -- or a lot of us remember the Hillary Clinton 3:00 a.m. ad. So they released it at 3:00 a.m., and I'll play it for our viewers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NARRATOR: She won millions of votes but isn't on his ticket. Why? For speaking the truth on his plans...
SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, D-N.Y.: You never hear the specifics.
NARRATOR: ... on the Rezko scandal?
CLINTON: We still don't have a lot of answers about Senator Obama.
NARRATOR: ... on his attacks.
CLINTON: Senator Obama's campaign has become increasingly negative.
NARRATOR: The truth hurt, and Obama didn't like it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right. That's a pretty strong ad. What do you think?
DUNN: Well, you know, Wolf, I'm not surprised they released it at 3:00 a.m. As we like to say, it's always 3:00 a.m. somewhere in the world. But here's the deal.
John McCain has a woman's problem, and here's his woman's problem: that he is to the right of George Bush when it comes to a woman's right to choose. He opposes a woman's right to choose, even in cases of rape and incest. He opposed the Pay Equity Act. He's so out of touch that he actually doesn't understand that there are cases that women are paid less than men and need judicial remedy.
John McCain has a woman's problem. And at the end of the week, what you're going to see is a united Democratic Party.
Senator Clinton has made it very clear who her pick is and who her choice is here. The McCain campaign is probably going to be putting these ads out about every six hours so that you guys have something to cover, but at the end of the day, what happens in this hall and the united Democratic Party leading it is what's important.
KING: But how do you bring that unity about? After such a bruising and long primary campaign, Senator Biden, now the vice presidential nominee, Senator Clinton, who will have about 40 percent of the delegates on this floor here, have said some very harsh things about Barack Obama, saying they don't think he's ready yet. They think he's too young, too inexperienced.
You say he can bring about unity. Ted Kennedy in 1980 went up to the platform and said he was all for Jimmy Carter, forget everything I said in the primaries, it's over. Jimmy Carter lost the election because there was still a bit of a funk in the Democratic Party. How do you make sure that doesn't happen here?
DUNN: I think if you talk to people in Denver this week, you're not going to see a lot of funk. What you're going to see are people who know that we can't have four more years of these policies.
You know, we didn't get here by accident. We don't have $4 a gallon gas, we don't have milk that costs more than a gallon of gas, we don't have the home foreclosure crisis, we don't have people losing their jobs, worrying about how to send their kids to college by accident. We have them as a result of eight years of policies that drove this economy into a ditch and a war in Iraq that's still going on, that costs billions of dollars a month. And the fact of the matter is, do people want four more years of the same? This Democratic Party wants change. We're going to leave here a party united in change.
Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton are going to be out there campaigning. Senator Clinton has already been campaigning for us. She's going to give a great speech Tuesday night, and she will make the case that we need change.
BLITZER: All right. I think we'll be hearing that word "change" a lot over the next few days.
DUNN: I think you will be, Wolf.
BLITZER: Anita, thanks very much for coming in.
DUNN: Thank you for having me.
BLITZER: We have a lot more coming up on this special LATE EDITION.
James Carville and Leslie Sanchez, they're standing by live.
Stay with us. We're here in Denver at the Pepsi Center, getting ready for the Democratic National Convention.
BLITZER: Welcome back. We're here at the Democratic National Convention at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado.
I'm Wolf Blitzer, along with John King.
Also joining us right now, our two strategists, our Republican strategist, Leslie Sanchez, our Democratic strategist, James Carville.
Let's talk a little bit about what we just heard.
Anita Dunn, the senior adviser to the Obama campaign, James, insisted they will merge, the Democrats, united, strong, going forward out of this convention. The Hillary Clinton supporters will be on board. A lot of them right now still remain on the fence.
CARVILLE: Yes, I think we will be united, but I think that obviously when you have a race this long, there's some sore feelings, if you will. A lot of people in the Hillary camp are really trying to push the party to be united, and I think in the end we'll be fine. But we've got a little work to do here in Denver, too.
BLITZER: Leslie, can they get their act together, the Democrats? You're a good Republican.
SANCHEZ: I would hope not, you know, to be quite candid about it. No, I think there's a tremendous opportunity to appeal to many of these Hillary Clinton voters. I think for the Republican side, in the sense that you have somebody in John McCain who is making a direct appeal to a lot of conservative Democrats, and women, particularly, who feel that they are not sure that maybe Barack Obama is a flash in the pan, maybe he's not really what he's cut out to be and he's not as authentic a candidate as the Democrats had hoped.
I mean, if you talk to many Democrats, they're going to say, look, he has all the resources, he has the best organizational campaign, but there's something flawed about this candidate. And so there's definitely opportunity to move there.
KING: And James, when you see the McCain campaign investing its ad money, which is a precious resource, in this new ad, essentially trying to stoke the Clinton voters to continue their resentment, you ran many campaigns and you know how to use that money to divide. Is that money well spent?
CARVILLE: Well, I don't blame them for trying, but the simple message to the women who voted for Hillary Clinton is, if you like the last eight years under George W. Bush, you're going to love the next four under John McCain. Let's be honest, it's the most disastrous presidency that we've had in modern American history.
John McCain has said there's no significant issue that he disagrees with George W. Bush on. In the end, these folks are not going to vote for a continuation of the policies of this administration. Period. And that's what the Obama camp needs to spend less time worrying about keeping the Clintons out of their campaign, and more time worried about how you put Bush in the middle of it.
BLITZER: And Leslie, you heard Anita Dunn say that on the issue of abortion rights for women, McCain is to the right, she says, of President Bush in that he opposes all abortion, including -- and as a result of rape or incest, and that he'll make that stance pretty clear as far as his Supreme Court nominations are concerned. So women are going to be watching this race very closely.
SANCHEZ: But the big difference is that women are not monolithic voters. You know, there's a portion of them that are going to look at abortion rights, and I would argue that they're already going to move into the Democratic camp.
That's not what we're talking about. We're talking about married women, ethnic women, Hispanic women, people that own small businesses that may see themselves as left of center, or maybe just centrists, who are looking at economic policies -- health care, can they grow their small businesses? Those are the women, I would argue, that are most in play.
CARVILLE: Yes, and I would just tell these women, if you want more of the same, if you like Bush, vote for McCain. If you want to change, vote for Obama. And don't worry about the sort of underneath stuff.
And that's what I would say to the Obama campaign. Worry less about all this. Take the message of Bush. Get out all this theoretical stuff and this lofty stuff, and go down and tell people what happened -- what's happened to their lives and what's happened to their country. I think Senator Biden did an excellent job yesterday.
KING: We're talking a lot about Clinton voters, Clinton delegates. What about Senator Clinton, James? You know her very well, as an adviser and as a friend. Does she resent the way she has been treated by the Obama campaign? Does she think they have not shown her the proper respect for what she did in the primaries?
CARVILLE: Well, I certainly do. I mean, I can speak for myself. But that doesn't matter, because Senator Obama, he won. He has the right to go about it any way that he chooses.
And I'm certainly going to be for him. And politics is an adult business, and I suspect that in the end, that Senator Clinton is going to be behind him. I have no idea why he wouldn't contact her, at least seek her counsel about vice president.
I don't think we should sit here and pretend everything is hunky- dory, but I do think that we're going to be united when we leave here. And we're going to focus on what's happened to the country the last eight years and see how we can change it for the next four.
BLITZER: All right, guys. We're going to have a lot more to talk about coming up.
All right. James Carville and Leslie Sanchez, thanks very much.
They're going to be with us throughout our coverage here in Denver at the Pepsi Center. We're going to be -- extensive live coverage of everything that is going on.
We'll take a quick break.
When we come back, John King is going to walk over the magic board and give us an assessment of where the situation stands right now and what's likely to happen in the days and weeks to come.
This is a special LATE EDITION.
You're looking at these live pictures of the beautiful Denver skyline. We're here in Colorado.
BLITZER: Welcome back to Denver. We're at the Democratic National Convention, at the Pepsi Center.
This is a special LATE EDITION. I'm Wolf Blitzer, along with John King.
We're watching Delaware right now. You know, they had been, the delegation, John, in the nosebleed section. But guess what? Things change.
KING: This is this morning's big breaking news inside the hall, Wolf. And we're laughing about it, but, you know, Joe Biden is picked as the vice presidential nominee. We were saying, wow, Delaware is not in such great shape, way up there under the C-SPAN sign, up in the nosebleed seats up there.
Guess what? In the next hour, the Delaware delegation is moving down. They're getting some prime real estate on the floor.
We're still trying to see who gets shifted around as part of that process, but the first sign of Joe Biden's influence on the Obama ticket. His guys are coming down on the floor.
BLITZER: Joe Biden, he's now a powerful force. It's not a big delegation, so they don't have to move too many seats around. Somebody will move back, somebody will move up. Delaware gets a little advantage as a result of their senator being the Democratic vice presidential nominee.
Walk over to our little portable magic board over there that we've brought here to Denver. We're taking it with us to St. Paul next week. And show our viewers -- give us a little insight on what's going on.
KING: Well, here it is here. During the primary season, you may have seen the larger version, but all of the tools are available to us right here in our mini wall at the convention.
And you've been watching this morning. We're talking a lot about, what are the wounds in the Democratic Party? Will they be healed here, and does it matter?
Let's take a look at some of the places it could matter.
We're going to go back to the Democratic primary map here and the Democratic nomination. The light blue is Hillary Clinton; the darker blue is Barack Obama. And so, does it matter if they make peace with the Clinton voters here? Well, most Democrats are adamant that, yes, it does. And let's look at a couple of places. Let's start with the state of Ohio.
If the Democrats can win Ohio, they believe they can deny Republicans the White House with this one state alone. But look at this area right down here.
This is southeast Ohio down in here. Hillary Clinton, she won the primary in the state, 54 percent to 44 percent, and she swept down in these rural counties down here. Right down here is Scioto County, right down at the bottom. This is a county carried by Jimmy Carter when he won the presidency, by Bill Clinton when he won the presidency twice. John Kerry, Al Gore lost down here in southeast Ohio, including this county. Of course, they did not make it to the White House.
Hillary Clinton won 81 percent of the vote in this county. This is where Barack Obama needs to make peace with the Clinton voters and other key swing voters if he is to win the election.
One more spot we'll look at, Wolf, that will be talked a lot about because of the birthplace of the vice presidential nominee, Joe Biden. He is from the state of Delaware, a reliably blue Democratic state, but he was born right here in Lackawanna County. This is the home of Scranton, Pennsylvania. Senator Clinton won 74 percent of the votes in the primary here. It's those white, blue collar, lunch bucket Democrats.
Now, why do they matter? They matter, of course, for the Democrats. They also matter very much in a general election.
Let's go back in time. Lackawanna County, John Kerry wins 56 percent of the vote in Lackawanna County. George W. Bush, 42 percent.
Bush, of course, won the election nationally, but here are the statewide results in Pennsylvania. John Kerry carried the state narrowly, 51 percent to 48 percent. His margin of victory can be found right here in Lackawanna County. That is where Scranton is.
You saw Governor Rendell, Wolf, walking the floor earlier today. We were laughing about Lackawanna County. He called it the center of the universe.
It is the swing county in Pennsylvania in a 50/50 election. It will be critically important come November. It is one of the reasons how Barack Obama handles the relationship with the Clinton voters and the test of whether Joe Biden can actually change votes, not just be on the ticket with Barack Obama, but change votes.
This is one of the places we will watch from this week all the way to November -- Wolf.
BLITZER: And quickly, answer a question I've been getting queries on from some of our viewers. BLITZER: The scaled down, smaller, portable magic wall that we have here in Denver that we're taking with us to St. Paul -- what's the difference between this one and the big one we had at the CNN election center that all of our viewers loved so much?
KING: The difference is only in the size. This is about a third of the size. It has all of the capabilities.
You've seen the primary map. You can -- we can take you to our electoral map and show you states like Colorado, where we are today, nine electoral votes -- what would happen if that switches over.
We can give it to McCain. We can give it to Obama. We can through all the hypotheticals -- Texas as well. We expect that'll stay red.
But we can go to any state in the country on our electoral map. It has all of the capabilities of our giant wall. This is just nice and portable, so we can bring it right down here on the convention floor.
We are so close to the delegates in our coverage this week and in Minneapolis, St. Paul. And we can bring this along with us, all the technological tools right here at the touch of a finger.
BLITZER: Excellent. Thanks, John.
Don't go away. Coming up, Howard Kurtz, the host of Reliable Sources. He's here in Denver. He's on the floor at the -- the convention. He's got a panel to talk about the media and how the Democrats are rolling this whole convention out.
Stay with us. Howard Kurtz from Reliable Sources, and much more from our special Late Edition right after this.
BLITZER: Welcome back to this special Late Edition. I'm Wolf Blitzer. We're reporting from the floor of the Democratic National Convention. Lots going on.
I want to turn, though, to Howie Kurtz of CNN's Reliable Sources. He's right behind me on the floor. He's got a group of exports to discuss the media buzz, Howie, that's going on. Lots of it is going on. KURTZ: Thanks very much, Wolf. It has been a week of almost relentless and often breathless media speculation about who Barack Obama would pick for his vice presidential nominee -- even the timing of that.
Let's get right to it here in Denver with Byron Pitts, national correspondent for CBS News, CNN's senior political analyst Gloria Borger, and Chris Cillizza, who blogs at The Fix at WashingtonPost.com.
Byron, the chatter, the guesswork, the stakeouts at Evan Bayh's home and Joe Biden's home -- didn't it reach an embarrassing level? BYRON PITTS, CBS NEWS: Oh, it was -- it was shameful. I mean it was a weak of potato chips, cold sandwiches, soda, waiting. If a -- if a car would go by, suddenly that was news. I mean it was -- it was crazy. Yes?
BORGER: Loved it. I loved every minute of it. Are you kidding? Yes.
KURTZ: Well, you're a junkie. You were so into...
KURTZ: When Joe Biden was announced -- leaked at CNN at one in the morning yesterday, I guess it was -- look, a lot of journalists know this guy. I covered Biden in the 1980s, when he was chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
A lot of positive things being said -- serious, experienced, you know tends to run at the mouth. Has he already passed the media test?
PITTS: I think so. And look, Howie, I think that that was part of the calculation. They wanted -- when you're picking this close to the convention, 72 hours before the convention, you don't necessarily want to pick someone who is an unknown commodity.
The media will get to know that person, either in a good or a bad way, and almost everyone who has covered politics has had some kind of experience with Joe Biden.
He's an affable guy. He's the kind of guy that you know you could spend 25 minutes talking to. I remember when I was a cub reporter, Joe Biden was one of the very few senators who you could sort of go up, and he would spend 15 or 20 minutes with you talking to you about...
KURTZ: Or 25 or 30 or 35.
PITTS: I was trying to be charitable.
KURTZ: Let me...
BORGER: And Biden with anybody, not just you.
KURTZ: When news organizations do their big profiles of Joe Biden, Gloria Borger...
KURTZ: ... will they be digging for dirt? Will they, for example, recycle the 1987 plagiarism incident...
KURTZ: ... in which he borrowed the words of the British politician Neil Kinnock, or is that old news? BORGER: It's old news. It'll be down in the story towards the bottom of the -- of the story about the Neil Kinnock stuff and -- and how Joe Biden went on and on and on at all the hearings for Supreme Court justices, and Joe Biden running for president twice.
And -- and what Obama emphasized, of course, was his biography, which all of us who covered him already know. So you know that can be discounted, too, to a -- to a certain degree.
So you know there are pluses and minuses, because everybody already knows Joe Biden.
KURTZ: But yes, it's very certain you put that. Certainly all the journalists do.
KURTZ: And certainly he's a very known quantity to people like us. CNN poll says 70 percent of the country has no clue who Joe Biden is.
PITTS: Sure. Sure.
KURTZ: So do we overdo, in this bubble that we live in, the -- the importance of this VP pick?
PITTS: Oh, without question. We always do. But I -- I think there's a real possibility that this time it will matter.
I was in Scranton, Pennsylvania, a few days ago, working on a piece for Evening News.
BORGER: I hear that's where Joe Biden is from.
PITTS: Yes, exactly.
BORGER: Scranton, Pennsylvania.
PITTS: Right, right. Who knew? But he's the kind of guy that Obama may need to connect with. I mean you can make the argument that Obama is Mr. Teleprompter. He's written in a big room.
But Biden is Mr. Testimony.
BORGER: Yes. PITTS: He's the guy who can go in to Chick's Diner in Scranton and touch a guy on the shoulder and say, "Hey, man. You know I can relate to -- you know your story is my story."
And so I think that will be important this time to Obama.
CHRIS CILLIZZA, WASHINGTONPOST.COM: You know, Howie, one thing about the inside the Beltway, outside the Beltway thing. I had a Republican tell me -- a few weeks ago I was writing about Joe Biden. Would he be a good pick? Would he be a bad pick? And I said, "Well, the plagiarism stuff that happened in 1987 is sort of old news." He said, "It's old news inside the Beltway. It's new news..." I'm -- I'm sorry. It's old news inside, but it's -- it's new news outside the Beltway.
CILLIZZA: I think that for some people, who are getting introduced to Biden, Gloria's right. He's going to -- it's going to be in every story. And we'll see how it plays for people.
KURTZ: Will we be trying to do the -- OK, is he getting a bounce by picking Biden? Will that be the storyline...
KURTZ: ... after Biden's speech on Wednesday night?
BORGER: Sure. We're looking for any storyline, OK?
BORGER: We'll take it.
KURTZ: Yes, and -- and you are told. You seem to suggest that there's not a lot of hard news that's going to be made here in Denver this week.
BORGER: There's always hope.
KURTZ: It's all choreographed. It's all predictable. It's all scripted.
BORGER: There's always hope. There -- there's you know there's -- there's always hope. And the one hope about Joe Biden, honestly, when you talk about scripted, not so much, right?
BORGER: Joe Biden is somebody who speaks his mind. And it was -- you know the most astonishing thing about this whole story was that Joe Biden found out on Thursday, and he kept the secret.
KURTZ: Well, they might send him to re-education camp...
KURTZ: ... which means don't talk to the press so much.
KURTZ: I want to ask Byron -- Byron Pitts this question. Here we are in Denver -- 15,000 journalists, and the Party is about to nominate the first African American in American political history. That will happen Thursday night at the Invesco Center.
Most of the journalists here are white...
KURTZ: ... most of the columnists, most of the anchors, most of the talk show hosts. Does that bother you?
PITTS: It is one more reminder, I think, about our business, that so often I think we follow the news. I think rarely are we in front of things. I mean I think it is striking that the Democrats will nominate an African American man to lead their Party.
Most of the major news organizations in this country -- print, television -- are led by white, and mostly white men, mostly older white men. So I -- I think it is one more example of how I think we as journalists follow, as opposed to lead. And -- and oftentimes we trail far behind.
To -- to your earlier point about will there be news here? I was on a -- a flight last night from New York with a super delegate. The moment we landed, her phone blew up with women who were angry about Joe Biden.
So not everyone here is going to be in love with Joe Biden.
CILLIZZA: You know the one other thing that I think is is it scripted? Yes. Do we know that Barack Obama at the end of this is going to be the nominee? I -- I think we do.
But at the same time, I think we have to be careful. Again, it's that inside the Beltway versus the outside the Beltway.
The average voter has not been following every little movement of this campaign like we have. They're going to probably dial in for at least one night for ratings. We hope they dial in every night...
CILLIZZA: ... but at -- at least one night here. And they're going to get a perception -- OK, here's what the Democratic Party stands for. Here's what Barack Obama stands for. And that -- I think that perception sets it up for the fall election.
BORGER: Right, but it -- but it's the opposite of reality television. Reality television is kind of watching things unfold. This is so scripted. KURTZ: But there is this undercurrent. And I think journalists may make a lot of this -- maybe too much, some would say -- of Hillary Clinton supporters, passionate, disappointed. Are they actually going to enthusiastically rally behind...?
BORGER: That's a storyline -- one, right?
KURTZ: Is that -- will that be a dominant a storyline?
BORGER: Well, it's -- it's a storyline, because it's the one we've got right now, to be honest about it, because we've got Hillary Clinton speaking one night, Bill Clinton speaking another night. We've got the story about how she wasn't vetted for the vice presidency, and that's got some of her supporters upset, the Obama people saying something else.
So you know we do have a little bit of conflict there, and let's face it. Conflict is interesting.
CILLIZZA: And although the Party is being turned over, and sort of the keys of the car being turned over to Barack Obama, this is still in some ways very much the Party of the Clintons. And I mean that Bill -- Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton -- there are still a lot of people very loyal to them...
BORGER: But not after this week.
CILLIZZA: ... and that's -- so I...
KURTZ: So you expect to be working hard.
CILLIZZA: I -- I'm going to try.
KURTZ: You expect to be working hard?
PITTS: Oh, absolutely. I mean I -- I slept plenty last week. I don't expect to sleep much this week.
KURTZ: All right. Now, remember John McCain picks his running mate on Friday, and so the speculation about that may spill over into the proceedings here in Denver.
BORGER: What if we're gone on airplanes?
KURTZ: Well, you'll be here for at least a few more days.
PITTS: I hope it's not at three o'clock in the morning. That's all I ask.
KURTZ: All right. That's a wrap. Byron Pitts from CBS News, Chris Cillizza of WashingtonPost.com, Gloria Borger from CNN, thanks for joining us.
Wolf Blitzer, back to you.
BLITZER: All right, Howie. We'll have you back in our next hour.
We're -- we're watching the state of Delaware, the delegation from Delaware right now. Their senator, Joe Biden, is the vice presidential running mate to -- to Barack Obama.
Guess what? They had been up in the nosebleeds. They're now moving up. It looks like they may be getting a better position. And guess who might be moved out? Idaho.
We're watching this closely. It's one of the little storylines we're watching on the floor at the Democratic Convention. We'll have more on that, but we're going to be spending a lot of time focusing in on the state of Pennsylvania. It's a battleground state, a key battleground state. The Democrats and Republicans are battling.
Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania -- he's standing by live from Scranton, and we'll speak to him right after this.
BLITZER: Welcome back to our special Late Edition. We're here on the floor at the Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado, but a lot of eyes right now on the state of Pennsylvania. That's a key battleground in this race for the White House.
Joining us now in Senator Bob Casey, a -- a native son of Scranton, Pennsylvania.
We're hearing a lot about Scranton, Senator Casey. That's because Joe Biden was born in Scranton as well, and Pennsylvania is really, really important.
But let me ask you a blunt question. Why is it this close? If the Democratic presidential ticket is having troubles in Pennsylvania right now, which should be a pretty reliable blue state, doesn't that bode some serious problems down the road?
CASEY: I don't think it does, Wolf. I think this is a -- a very strong ticket not only for Pennsylvania, but for the country. And historically, Pennsylvania has always been close, so we expect a -- a close race.
But I think Senator Obama and Senator Biden together form a very strong team, a strong team that understands the struggles that people are facing in this economy, and I think that will -- will be a strong message for the people of Pennsylvania.
But we always expect a...
BLITZER: We just...
CASEY: ... a close fight here -- here in Pennsylvania.
BLITZER: We -- we just heard John King over at our magic wall point out that in Lackawanna County where you are in Scranton, Hillary Clinton did really well there.
How much of a problem is this for Senator Obama to win over those -- those Hillary Clinton supporters, a lot of whom remain deeply skeptical about him?
CASEY: Well, I think whenever you have a tough primary, you're going to have a challenge. I think, though, that when you look at some of the data that's already on the record in Pennsylvania and in northeastern Pennsylvania, you're already seeing Democrats coming together. And I think Senator Clinton has already helped enormously to bring our Party together, so I don't think there's any question we're going to have the kind of unity.
But that's one of the reasons why we have a convention -- to begin the process of unifying the party, because in order to bring this country together, as Senator Obama and Senator Biden know well, to -- to meet the challenges we have, the economic and domestic as well as our foreign policy challenges, we've got to unite not only Democrats, but Democrats, Republicans and Independents. I think both of them can do that.
BLITZER: Our senior analyst, Senator Gloria Borger, is here, and she's joining us now in the questioning.
BORGER: Senator, you're pro-life, and you are speaking at this convention. And your father was denied that opportunity.
BORGER: What message does that end to pro-life voters about the Democratic Party? What should they take away from that?
CASEY: Well, I think that what -- what you're saying, Gloria, in this -- at this convention is an effort to be inclusive in a way that wasn't always the case before.
And I don't think there's any question that when people go to the voting booth in November, they're going to be looking for a -- they're going to be deciding something which is very fundamental.
Are we going to have more of the same -- more of the same of the last four years of division and debt and -- and the kind of drift we've had economically? Or are we going to have a break from the past and have a new -- a new direction?
I think Senator Obama offers that. And I think Senator Biden fortifies and strengthens that message.
BORGER: But Senator, specifically on abortion -- I mean this you know this Party is for abortion rights. You take a different position. So what message does -- does this say to people who agree with you about the Democratic Party specifically on that issue?
CASEY: Well, Gloria, there's no question we have differences of opinion on -- on the issue of abortion. They're very strong differences. We'll have differences of -- of opinion on -- on other important issues.
But I think when it comes to the -- the issues that most Americans are focused on this election year, especially with regard to the economy, I don't think there's much -- much of a difference at all across -- across the board, not only within the Democratic party, but also among Independents and Republicans. People understand that this -- this campaign, the one that Senator Obama now joined by Senator Biden is offering, is a campaign about change, about a new direction.
And I think that they're not going to vote for four more years of what we've been getting the last couple of years from the Bush administration. And that's John McCain's offering.
BLITZER: We had...
CASEY: He's not offering much of a change.
BLITZER: We had words, as you know, Senator Casey. They're getting ugly out there -- the back and forth, the attacks. I'm going to play a little excerpt from a -- a McCain ad going directly after Senator Obama.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NARRATOR: Barack Obama knows a lot about housing problems. One of his biggest fundraisers helped him buy his million-dollar mansion. Now he's a convicted felon facing jail. That's the housing problem.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right, what do you think about this back and forth, because it's probably going to get even more ugly as we go on?
CASEY: Well, let me say this. Senator McCain should get his money back from his consultant. That's a pathetic ad, because what it -- what it does is continue, as I said before, more of the same -- fear and smear, divide and conquer.
That's what we got the last couple of years from this administration. People don't want that. They want to have a president who's going to demonstrate some leadership on the economy and tell us how he will be different from this administration.
Senator McCain, if he was really leading on housing, would have told his colleagues in the Senate months ago it's time to pass housing legislation. But they held up housing legislation. They've held up legislation to -- to take a new course on -- on a new energy policy.
So I think it's more of the same. People aren't going to guy it. They want a new direction. They want a new team on the field. And they want people to, at the presidential level and vice presidential level, to start talking about real economic issues for the middle class.
BLITZER: Senator Casey, thanks very much for joining us. Senator Obama and Senator Biden -- they're -- they're very fortunate to have you and Governor Ed Rendell leading the charge for them in Pennsylvania. They -- they need that state. They need it badly.
All right. We're going to speaking with your Republican colleague, Arlen Specter, later here on our special Late Edition. We'll get a very different perspective from him. He's a strong supporter of John McCain.
All right, thanks very much, Senator Casey, for joining us.
We're only getting started here on the floor of the Democratic National Convention. Much more coming up on our special Late Edition. We'll be right back.
BLITZER: Welcome back to the floor of the Democratic National Convention. I'm here with Gloria Borger, our senior analyst -- also Suzanne Malveaux. She's on the floor right now.
Suzanne, tell our viewers where you are, what you're looking for.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Wolf. There's going to be a lot of movement fairly soon here. There's a lot of buzz and activity on the floor. Obviously, where is the -- the Delaware delegation going to go? It is tradition -- the DNC essentially moving the home state of Joe Biden.
We got that announcement yesterday that they're going to be moving them from way over there. You see the nosebleed seats up there? That is where initially the -- the delegation has been seated. But we understand from the DNC they're going to move them up to the front here.
We don't know exactly where, Wolf, but this is a lot of activity around Idaho here. These are some of the folks with the DNC. They are remaining mum, I'm telling you.
We've asked them. They've said, "Well, it's on a need to know basis." But it's going to happen in about 10 minutes or so. We don't suspect that it's going to be Nevada here, as that's, of course, home state to the majority leader, Harry Reid. We don't think that they're going to mess with that so much.
But all of this is about symbolism. It is about a nod to Joe Biden. And it's all about tradition as well. So as soon as we get the word, we're going to see front and center Delaware probably going to be moved somewhere along the front here.
BLITZER: I didn't -- I didn't understand exactly why Idaho, a pretty Republican red state, as they say -- how did -- how did Idaho manage to come up with such a -- a great piece of real estate?
MALVEAUX: You know it is all political. People jockey for these positions from the -- from the very beginning here. Obviously, this is prime real estate. Good opportunity, good chance that's it's probably going to be moved, Wolf.
BLITZER: I -- I think the answer is probably that Idaho went strongly for Obama in the Democratic -- in the Democratic contest against Hillary Clinton, although in the overall contest it would be pretty amazing if Idaho went for a Democrat. But you never know. We'll watch and see.
What do you think, Gloria? Is that...?
BORGER: We've got the best piece of real estate right here.
BLITZER: We have excellent real estate. We're on the floor of the convention right now. But what do you think about this whole notion of you know jockeying. You know Ohio's got great real estate, Pennsylvania, Florida. Those are the states that are going to make or break this election.
BORGER: Yes. Politics is all about rewards, calling in your chips and all that kind of stuff. And so obviously if you're an important state to Barack Obama, you're going to get a really good view of Barack Obama.
And if you've been good to him, you'll be -- you're going to get a good seat.
BLITZER: And Suzanne, you're on the floor. Tell us a little bit about what you're going to be doing over the next four, five days here in Denver?
MALVEAUX: Well, Wolf, basically, we're going to be talking to a lot of people. You're going to see guests rolling out. You're going to see Michelle Obama, who's going to be speaking before the audience, before the delegations.
You're going to be seeing Biden, as well as Barack Obama. This is really all about a big sell, a big pitch to the delegates.
We're going to be grabbing a lot of the folks, a lot of the Party faithful, who have come out here, who want to basically you know rally everyone and really bring the next couple of months of really strong presence.
He's campaigning throughout those swing states. It's going to be very important to see how they actually perform.
And here you go. Here's the sign. Looks like it's Nevada. Could be Nevada.
BLITZER: All right, Suzanne.
Suzanne Malveaux is on the floor. She's going to be busy. All of our reporters are going to be busy over the next several days here in Denver.
All right, let's talk a little bit about what's going on right now. Here we're taking a look at what they're doing on the floor. We want to welcome to our viewers first of all in the United States and around the world, all of our CNN networks are joining us right now for our special LATE EDITION. I'm Wolf Blitzer on the floor of the Democratic National Convention. You're looking at live pictures as they are moving some of the delegations around, Delaware, the home state of Joe Biden, is going to get a better piece of real estate here on the convention floor.
We're going to watch and see who will is going to be suffering as a result of Delaware moving up. We're joined by our correspondents, our analysts here in Denver all over as we watch what's going on. Jim Acosta is on the scene for us right now in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, where Senator Obama is going to be speaking shortly in the course of this day. Jim, tell us a little bit about what we can expect on this Sunday from Senator Obama.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, we are at the Field and Gun Club, the Rod and Gun Park here in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. That is a seen that we're in "field & stream" country here in Wisconsin and in addition to following the life and times of Brett Favre, folks up here in Wisconsin, they also like to hunt and fish, so we'll see Barack Obama today making some appeals to those types of voters who often are independent-minded voters and could perhaps go either way in this election so Barack Obama will be doing some politicking.
We're not going to have any clay pigeons on the agenda, but there is a barbecue in store so we might see a little bit of barbecue sauce get on Barack Obama's shirt here today if he's lucky. But the real story line coming out of the campaign over the last 24 hours is that the Democrats they feel are back on the warpath, that Joe Biden set the tone yesterday in Springfield, Illinois, at that crawl-out that became a roll-out of Joe Biden as the vice presidential nominee on this Democratic ticket. And we saw Joe Biden go right after John McCain talking about those seven kitchen tables, referring to when John McCain couldn't remember how many houses he had and Joe Biden saying that when John McCain goes over his family budget, he has to decide which kitchen table to sit at.
We also heard Joe Biden talk about swift boating. He accused John McCain of swift boating Barack Obama. That is a battle cry for Democrats and when Joe Biden mentioned that yesterday, that must have really stirred the hearts of many Democrats and we're already seeing in some of the polling, a USA Today/Gallup poll, that a lot of Democrats are satisfied with Joe Biden as the nominee.
After today, Barack Obama heads to Iowa and then to Montana, I should say. Those are two big battleground states. Wisconsin not so much. That is a state that Barack Obama needs to keep in the Democratic column but he has Iowa and Montana and those are two big battleground states and it seems that Barack Obama is going to be staying on the road as this Democratic convention gets started. Not a bad strategy to keep the cameras, keep the attention paid to his campaign as there appears to be some hurt feelings going on among Clinton supporters and we may see some of that play out in Denver. Barack Obama hoping to keep much of the limelight, much of the attention on his campaign as he swings into the next few battleground states, Wolf.
BLITZER: And Wisconsin one of those battleground states. Jim Acosta is in Eau Claire, Wisconsin right now. The Democrats have very high hopes of capturing Wisconsin as well as neighboring Minnesota in this contest. We'll watch and we'll see. There's a little of that activity going on in the floor here at the Democratic National Convention. That's because they are moving Delaware. Delaware, the delegation, had been way up in the so-called nose bleed section, but since the senior senator from Delaware, Joe Biden, is about to become the vice presidential nomination, they are giving Delaware some better real estate. And it looks like they are going to get that real estate at the expense, we thought earlier of Idaho, but we just saw Nevada's sign going down.
Suzanne Malveaux is on the scene for us. She's going to check all of this out and let us know what exactly is going on. We'll watch and see. It's a little story, but it's of interest to people here in Denver on the floor. Gloria Borger is here. She's watching it as well. We also have a special guest, the third ranking member of the House of Representatives, Congressman James Clyburn of South Carolina, who is very much involved in this whole process, getting to this day. Let me get your reaction, congressman, first of all, to the selection of Joe Biden as the Democratic vice presidential nominee.
CLYBURN: I was very excited about that, Wolf. I thought it was a tremendous decision on the part of Barack Obama. He demonstrated with the first and I think most important decision that he is ready and able to use great judgment on behalf of the American people and on behalf of our party. It was probably the best decision anyone could expect him to make.
BLITZER: And you remember that little uproar back in January of 2007 when Joe Biden said these words that seemed to have somewhat of a racial overtone or context, and I want you to react. I'll play it for our viewers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: You've got the first sort of mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. I mean, that's a storybook, man.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: You're smiling.
CLYBURN: I never quite understood why people were so upset about that. Now I'm from South Carolina. I have been subjected to politics of a racial nature all of my life. I never really saw that as being racism as all. What I saw there was an unartful way of trying to really explain who and what he was up against because he was in the race as well.
BLITZER: And there's no doubt that Joe Biden as far as civil rights and on the issue of race has an excellent record going back as chairman of the Judiciary Committee and a lot of other matters as well. I want to move on and Gloria Borger is here, she's got a question she would like to ask you as well.
BORGER: Hillary Clinton supporters this week seem to be a little upset, not because Joe Biden was selected but because they think that she wasn't treated very well in this whole vice presidential process, that she was not consulted, she was not vetted. What's your reaction to their complaints?
CLYBURN: Well, if my memory serves, not long after the primary process was over, Barack Obama sat down with Hillary Clinton. They had a very long and I think productive meeting. Remember they meet even before she went out on the trail.
BORGER: At Senator Feinstein's house.
CLYBURN: Who knows what they talked about in that meeting. Even Dianne Feinstein left the room and left the two of them alone. So I think it's a little but presumptuous on the part of anybody to say they never discussed this because I do believe that they discussed it very well.
BORGER: Do you believe that or do you know that?
CLYBURN: I believe.
BORGER: But you don't know for sure.
CLYBURN: But I do know by their own admission that he called her to tell her that she was not going to be the choice so if he called to tell her she would not be the choice, it must be that he and she both knew she was under consideration.
BORGER: Do you think they need to stop this?
CLYBURN: I think we ought to leave this convention up to our nominees for president and vice president and it's time for us to move forward on behalf of our party and on behalf of the American people.
BLITZER: But don't you think that this roll call that they do, placing Hillary Clinton's name in nomination, is merely going to exacerbate and revive some of the tensions that exist, the tensions you want to see disappear because you want to see this party united, but don't you think that that roll call is going to undermine that?
CLYBURN: It doesn't have to. The fact of the matter is we've had a lot of friendly roll calls over my political life and we can have fun with this one. It can be unifying and hopefully it will be.
BLITZER: But be honest, if you had your way, there wouldn't have been a roll call.
CLYBURN: If I had my way, no, I would have one big roll call and one big happy meeting and go home.
BORGER: You know, one last question on the Clintons without belaboring it. There are some people who say that this is time to pass the torch and the Clintons -- the Clinton generation and the Clinton time of leading the party is over and they are just having a hard time getting over it.
CLYBURN: That may be. I don't know exactly what their emotions are, but I do know that the people participating in our primaries that decided that it's time for the torch to be passed.
BLITZER: Congressman Clyburn, pleasure having you here. We'll be spending some time, quality time over the next four days, five days here in Denver. I know you're going to be a busy guy.
CLYBURN: I appreciate it.
BLITZER: You've got a legislative agenda to worry about when you get back.
CLYBURN: Yes, I do.
BLITZER: Is there going to be -- I'll ask you one quick question. Will there be a vote on offshore oil drilling in the House of Representatives, an up or down vote that Nancy Pelosi has resisted but that there's a lot of pressure, including from some from Democrats, to see go forward.
CLYBURN: There's going to be a vote on an energy program which I think offshore drilling will be a part of. On that single question, number nine, I hope not. I think that we ought to have one big comprehensive energy program that we ought to vote on.
BLITZER: And you'll be whipping up those Democrats and those voters.
BORGER: And offshore will be a part of that?
CLYBURN: I think so.
BLITZER: Thanks very much for coming in.
CLYBURN: Thank you.
BLITZER: We're going to get a different perspective. The governor of Minnesota, Tim Pawlenty, he's on the short list to be John McCain's running mate. He's going to be joining us. He's not going to be here in Denver, the Democratic Convention. He's getting ready for a convention in St. Paul, Minnesota, but he's actually going to be joining us from Pennsylvania.
BLITZER: A key battleground state.
Much more coming up, as we watch what happens on the floor at the Democratic National Convention.
BLITZER: Welcome back to the Democratic National Convention. We're on the floor at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado. There's a little activity going on. And when I say "little," the emphasis is on "little," right now.
Suzanne Malveaux is watching it, though, for us. Tell our viewers in the United States, Suzanne, and around the world, what is going on? MALVEAUX: Yes. There's a little bit of excitement here on the floor, Wolf. I want to show you what's happening here. They are actually moving the sign and the delegation, the Delaware delegation sign.
It was nose-bleed seats before, but you can see these ladies behind me. They are actually going to put it up here, and this is all the way to the very front of the convention hall.
They removed a seat in this particular section, and this is the tradition. Obviously, Joe Biden, his home state of Delaware -- this is a late notice for getting a V.P. announcement. And so they said that's why they're doing, kind of, this musical chairs, if you will.
It is the tradition to put them up, front and center. And so that is where they are being placed. There are a couple of other signs that have been moved, Nevada, North Dakota, Idaho. We don't know where they're going to go just quite yet. So there's a bit of maneuvering as the day goes on. And we'll have the final map of all of this by two o'clock, local time.
But this really is a nod to the vice presidential nominee. And Delaware is now front and center, Wolf.
BLITZER: I can see. And they can thank Joe Biden for that. I guess, actually, they can thank Barack Obama for making Joe Biden his running mate.
All right, Suzanne. Thanks very much. And even while the Democrats are getting ready for their convention, the Republicans are by no means sitting silently. They're working very hard to try to make sure that John McCain is the next president of the United States. And they're focusing their attention on several key battle states.
Just a little while ago, I had a chance to speak with one of the top Republicans, someone who might be John McCain's running mate.
BLITZER: And joining us now from Allentown, Pennsylvania is the governor of Minnesota, Tim Pawlenty.
Governor, thanks very much for coming in.
PAWLENTY: I'm happy to be with you, Wolf. Thank you for having me.
BLITZER: Normally we speak to you in Minnesota. What's going on in Pennsylvania?
PAWLENTY: Well, of course, Pennsylvania is a swing state. I'm campaigning for Senator McCain here and in Ohio over the next couple of days, but we're in Allentown this morning.
BLITZER: Are you ready to debate a native son of Scranton, Pennsylvania?
That would be Joe Biden, the senior senator from Delaware.
PAWLENTY: Well, John McCain's, I'm sure, going to make a great pick for vice president. We'll know who that is soon. Whoever it is, I think, is going to have a better record for Pennsylvania and America than Barack Obama and Joe Biden.
And by the way, I think we should listen to Joe Biden when he said that Barack Obama is not ready to be president of the United States. Hillary Clinton said much the same. If I was a Hillary Clinton supporter this morning, I'd be scratching my head.
BLITZER: But she issued a statement praising the selection of Joe Biden as the vice presidential running mate. She and Joe Biden are very close, and she thinks, like a lot of other folks, he's going to bring some gravitas and national security experience, foreign policy experience to the ticket.
PAWLENTY: Well, I think the selection of Joe Biden really is an admission or acknowledgement that Barack Obama did not have that experience, did not have those credentials, as Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Evan Bayh and others said about Barack Obama.
So I think we should listen to him. I don't think he's ready to be president. And when you're commander in chief, you shouldn't be having to select a mentor to help you with that role. BLITZER: But he is a formidable debater. He's a very good talker, Joe Biden.
Now, let me get back to that initial question. Whether or not you're going to be John McCain's running mate -- and we know you're high up there on the list, on the short list -- do you feel that you would be ready to go one on one with Joe Biden in that kind of a debate?
PAWLENTY: I think, if you look at Joe Biden, he's somebody who is very long-winded. I don't address the V.P. questions, but I think any of the people that Senator McCain is thinking about for vice president would be -- more than hold their own against Senator Biden.
BLITZER: We know that John McCain has a lot of national security and foreign policy experience, but what about you?
What would you bring to the table on that issue?
PAWLENTY: Wolf, I just don't talk about the V.P. speculation any more, whether you're John McCain or anybody else who is running for president.
What you're looking for is somebody who can step in and be president of the United States.
Number two, you want somebody who shares your overall direction and vision and values for the country.
And, number three, I hope that there will be some chemistry, in terms of issues, in terms of geography, in terms of the synergy between the two individuals. I think those are some of the characteristics, or the dynamics, that Senator McCain is going to be looking at.
BLITZER: All right. We're going to move on to something else, but do you believe you would be ready, God forbid, if necessary, to step up and be president of the United States?
PAWLENTY: John McCain is going to pick somebody with that as a first criteria. So, whoever he picks, that person will be ready to be president of the United States.
BLITZER: Joe Biden and John McCain have been friends in the Senate for a long time, more than 20 years, but listen to what he said, Biden, yesterday, at that joint event in Springfield, Illinois.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR., D-DEL.: I've been disappointed in my friend John McCain, who gave in to the right wing of his party and yielded to the very swift-boat politics that he so -- once so deplored.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right. Do you want to respond?
Because there's a lot of concern that John McCain, at least on the Democrat -- on the part of the Democrats, that he's moving toward that kind of negative politics, something you don't like personally. I know that.
PAWLENTY: Well, when you see the difference between John McCain and Barack Obama, it's not even a close call. And as people move into the fall and get serious about finalizing their decision about president of the United States, I think it's fair to give them information about the records, the values, the perspectives of these two candidates.
I'm here in Pennsylvania. And, for example, when Barack Obama said, in San Francisco, that people turn to God and guns because they're bitter, and even mentioned Pennsylvania as an example of that type of attitude, it reflects a serious miscalculation and misunderstanding of traditional and important American values and perspectives about the second amendment, about faith.
And I think bringing those kinds of issues forward, comparing and contrasting the candidates, is fair game, Wolf.
BLITZER: Well, the other day, in that interview with Politico.com Senator McCain couldn't say exactly how many houses he and his wife Cindy McCain own. And Obama wasted no time in saying this on Thursday.
Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: If you think that being rich means you've got to make $5 million, and if you don't know how many houses you have, then it's not surprising that you might think the economy was fundamentally strong.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right. What do you say to that charge that John McCain is simply out of touch with mainstream middle class working America?
PAWLENTY: Give me a break. John McCain is the one out saying we've got to do things like bring down energy prices by drilling offshore, by providing more nuclear energy, by providing a temporary gas tax holiday. Barack Obama opposes all of that. Those are mainstream pocketbook issues that John McCain has been all over and Barack Obama has said no to.
Now on the housing issue, Barack Obama made over $4 million last year. He's got a $1 million home in Chicago that he had some dealings with a shady character to get it. He's got his own housing issues and for him to bring this up, he should be careful about being so self- righteous about it because he's got his own issues when it comes to housing.
BLITZER: Tim Pawlenty, the governor of Minnesota, maybe we'll see you in Dayton, Ohio next Friday when John McCain makes his big announcement. Maybe we won't, but good luck to you irrespective. Thanks very much for joining us.
PAWLENTY: You're welcome. Thanks for having me on.
BLITZER: And coming up, we'll get some analysis of what you just heard and a lot more. Our own Donna Brazile and Amy Holmes, they're standing by live to join Gloria and me when our special coverage from the floor of the Democratic National Convention here in Denver continues. You're watching a special LATE EDITION. We'll be right back.
BLITZER: Welcome back, we're here on the floor of the Democratic National Convention with Gloria Borger. She's here and Donna Brazile is here. Donna, welcome. Amy Holmes is at the CNN Election Center. Donna, I haven't spoken to you since Barack Obama tapped Joe Biden to be his running mate. I'm anxious to hear your honest, gut reaction, was this a good move, bad move, how was it handled?
DONNA BRAZILE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I believe it was a wise decision to put Joe Biden on the ticket. Joe Biden is a seasoned statesman. He understands the issue of ordinary Americans. He has a common touch. Clearly people are talking about his roots in Pennsylvania, but Joe Biden will bring much-needed stature to the ticket and will be a phenomenal debater this fall.
BLITZER: What do you think, Amy, was it a good move or a bad move for the Democrats?
AMY HOLMES, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I think on whole it was a good move and Joe Biden can be counted on to be scrappy, to be direct, to be concrete and down to earth which are qualities that actually Barack Obama has struggled with. And if this can kind of rub off on Barack Obama, I think that that will be an asset.
But we also know that Joe Biden's mouth can get him into trouble and he can even talk down to voters while he's on the campaign trail. Back in 1988, when he was running for president, he told a voter who was questioning his credentials, I think I've got a higher IQ than you and then in the great CNN/YouTube debate in the Democratic primary, he talked down to a gun owner who was asking about gun control. So I think with Joe Biden, there's a little bit of a mixed bag there.
BLITZER: But he was, Gloria, and we watched all those debates and when he was running for the Democratic presidential nomination, he was pretty controlled.
BORGER: Yeah. I think he actually got better as time went on. I mean, when he started his campaign, he started out with a gaffe about Barack Obama, of all people. And then he managed to learn to kind of get that under control. And I think this notion that he's going to make a mistake, yeah, he might. But he's also very plain spoken, speaks very directly to people. People kind of like that, and it's kind of a balance for Barack Obama who some people say is too esoteric and not direct enough. Well, in Joe Biden you get someone who is direct.
BLITZER: The fact of the matter, Donna, that all of these candidates, they all say silly stupid things from time to time, things that they regret. But you know what, I think the American voters out there, they want to know substance, they want to know who is going to help them during these rough economic times, who is going to help them as far as a war in Iraq is concerned and we sort of focus in on a lot of the so-called silly stuff, but I'm not sure that a lot of voters really care.
BRAZILE: If someone had an opportunity to sit next to Joe Biden on a train, they will find that Joe will talk about your family. He wants to know what you're up to. He's just a great guy. He's a people's person, but yet he is a very good lawmaker. He is respected by both sides of the aisle. You saw statements yesterday by Chuck Hagel and Senator Arlen Specter and Senator Lugar. That's because they know that Joe Biden is a guy you can go to and get things done.
BLITZER: Do you think this campaign, Amy, is about to get a whole lot uglier? HOLMES: Well, you know, negative ads and negative campaigning, it works, and we saw over the month of august that McCain, he took out over Barack Obama. He did that celebrity ad. He says that Barack Obama has fans, not voters, and it worked. And Americans, they listen to that and they listen to how the other guy is describing and positioning his opponent. So, you know, the next two and a half months, I think we can expect more of the same.
BLITZER: Will the Democratic selection of the vice presidential running mate impact John McCain's decision which we expect next Friday in Dayton, Ohio, who his running mate will be?
BORGER: McCain's in a lucky position now because he can count a program, if that's what he wants to do. And I would say when you look forward to that vice presidential debate, this would e mean that it would be more likely that there's going to be a Mitt Romney sitting across the table from a Joe Biden, somebody who can go toe to toe and it might make it less likely for your previous guest, Governor Tim Pawlenty, who has much less experience.
If John McCain is running as the experienced candidate and he has said personally I want somebody in my vice president who can take over, and age is an issue for him, and you've got Joe Biden over there, I think it's more likely someone with a lot of experience.
BLITZER: You think that's going to be Mitt Romney on the Republican side?
BRAZILE: There's no question that Mitt Romney will bring some assets to the ticket. Of course, he is well known in the northeast and Michigan will probably be a little bit more competitive if Mitt Romney is on the ticket. I think that the governor of Minnesota would bring about a freshness, a newness. When you look at all of the polls, the Republicans are still struggling to bring their party together and John McCain needs to put someone on that ticket who will excite the base.
BLITZER: You think it's going to be Mitt Romney, Amy?
HOLMES: Well, you hear a lot that Mitt Romney is at the top of the choice. He'd be great for Michigan and he could put Michigan in play. So, you know, Mitt Romney would be, you know, terrific for John McCain.
BLITZER: All right. We'll leave it right there, guys, but we're going to have a lot more to discuss. Our coverage of the Democratic National Convention will continue. Howard Kurtz of CNN's "Reliable Sources," he's on the floor right behind me. He's got a panel. We're going to talk to him and his group and get a lot more coverage of what's going on in Denver right after this.
BLITZER: Welcome back. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Denver, Colorado. We're as the Pepsi Center. We're gearing up for the DNC, for the Democratic Convention. Michelle Obama, the wife of the Democratic presidential candidate. She is going to be here. She's going to be one of the major speakers tomorrow night. But right now, let's go to the floor of the convention. Howard Kurtz of CNN's "Reliable Sources" is standing by. He's got some insight on what's going on. Howie, tell us, what is going on?
KURTZ: Thanks very much, Wolf. Well from the moment yesterday, very early yesterday, when word finally leaked that Joe Biden had won the veepsweepstakes, it had been pretty clear that journalists like Biden, respect Biden and admire Biden to some degree.
Joining me here at the podium to talk about this Debra Saunders, columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle. Keli Goff, blogger and contributor to Black Entertainment Television and John Dickerson, chief political correspondent for Slate.
John, does Biden, as a Washington insider, Sunday show fixture, a guy who has a long-standing relationship with journalists have an advantage that Kathleen Sebelius or Tim Kaine would not have had.
JOHN DICKERSON, CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, SLATE: He does with supporters. We all know. We've watched him and also he talks and we love people who talk and he talks at length and he's intellectually honest about some things, so he'll talk about some things that he may not even agree with. So reporters like him because he's accessible. Now of course that's the problem for him as well. He's sometimes too accessible, sometimes goes on too long, but he will have an advantage.
KURTZ: I have a suspicion that that may change. Keli Goff, he does sometimes talks himself into trouble, and so a conservative radio host and you've seen it on cable, has been recycling those comments when he called Barack Obama clean and articulate, when he made fun of the Indian accents at the 7-Eleven. Is that getting too much attention?
KELI GOFF, BLOGGER: Well I think everything's getting too much attention. I mean if we're analyzing about what people wrote in kindergarten and wanting to grow up and be an astronaut or a president, then I think that anything is going to be fair game.
KURTZ: But the man could be vice president of the United States.
GOFF: You know the other thing though is I think adding on to what is John said, intellectually honest, known for being that. He's also known for being really funny so the pros and cons of that is that I think the American public is so sick of seeing so many stoic people. And the media too, it occasionally is nice and refreshing to see somebody who shoots from the hip, even if they occasionally misfires.
KURTZ: Now Joe Biden is a serious and experienced lawmaker, but is the media establishment sort of giving something of a pass to a member of the political establishment?
DEBRA SAUNDERS, SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE: I don't think there's any doubt about it. When his name was picked, I know all of Washington expected this, but being a provincial from San Francisco, I was surprised. I felt the way I did when I watched the last "Sopranos" episode. I've been waiting for this big buildup, I thought Hillary Clinton made sense. She had about 18 million people who voted for her. KURTZ: You were not excited by the prospect of Joe Biden. You may not be the target audience.
SAUNDERS: I know he's qualified and I understand I'm not the target audience and I understand that he's a good man, but he got -- he came in fifth place in Iowa. So you say no to the person who got 18 million votes and yes to the guy who came in fifth in Iowa.
KURTZ: The whole way that this was announced, the week of speculation and the 3:00 a.m. text message. In fact, my sources say that you went to sleep with your Blackberry. Did that tick off a lot of the journalists?
DICKERSON: Well, it ticked off the journalists who didn't get the news at the right time. And the journalists were a little ticked off by their editors because what happened is if you were covering this story, you got an e-mail about every 10 seconds for the week leading up saying it's going to be Hillary, it's going to be Bayh, it's going to be Sasquatch. And you had to go figure out if this was the case and then you had to annoy everybody in the Obama campaign, saying I know this is the 90th phone call, but when's this going to be announced? Who's it going to be? I'm hearing it's this, and so it created this ridiculous kind of pantomime that went on for a week, not necessarily Senator Obama's fault.
KURTZ: John McCain released an ad at 3:00 a.m. this morning.
GOFF: What is it about 3 a.m.? The phone rings, the ads and the text.
KURTZ: And that ad is about Hillary wasn't picked as the running mate because she spoke the truth in the primaries about Barack Obama. I don't even think they paid 12 cents to put this on the air and it's getting all this free air time. Should we be giving media attention to ads that are basically produced for us to cover them on the news? GOFF: Sure, especially if they are good ads. It's actually a good ad. I think it's a well done ad, and, you know, it clearly was something that was going for a very specific block of audience. We're here at the Democratic National Convention.
KURTZ: But then we're doing their job for them. We are giving them free advertising that usually costs millions of dollars to do a serious buy.
GOFF: This is true.
KURTZ: That doesn't bother you?
GOFF: I don't think it's to bother me or not. We're here to cover news and that's news. The fact that there's a group of voters up for grabs and someone is targeting them is a news story.
KURTZ: The usually refrain about a VP, a warm bucket of spit and all that, hasn't all that changed because of Dick Cheney and his role in the Bush administration? SAUNDERS: I don't think matters to people that much who will vote for as vice president. It's important for Obama because it got us to see his first big decision.
KURTZ: That's the thing.
SAUNDERS: That's the thing.
KURTZ: How he handled it.
GOFF: Can I say one last thing? I think it's also really important to note the clean and articulate remark that you mentioned -- I think what picking Biden shows is that Barack Obama doesn't have a chip on his shoulder about race. I think that's what it reinforces, which is I think an important thing for a specific group of voters who may be concerned about that.
KURTZ: Let me turn to -- when Biden came out and gave that stem- winder of a speech yesterday, he talked about sitting down at the kitchen table and then made of course the crack about John McCain has seven kitchen tables to choose from. Have the media sort of gobbled up this whole attack line about McCain and he's wealthy and he's out of touch and all the houses. Are we carrying the water for the Barack Obama on this point?
DICKERSON: Well, it's the conversation of the moment. There are ads, the senator is talking about it, and you have to distinguish, when you say it. Senator Obama has talked about it. Senator Biden has talked about it.
KURTZ: It's got more attention than a possible U.S. pullout from Iraq in 2011.
DICKERSON: Well perhaps, indeed, but that's because we're on the eve of a convention here and we'll go back and forth. Senator Biden has had lots of instances, little slipups he's made that have gotten lots of attention. This is kind of the crazy cycle we're in right now. It's not the most serious at the moment but there are serious issues underneath it. People say the economy is their number one issue. This gets at that. So it's not all frivolity.
KURTZ: Is it a revealing issue to talk about for journalists?
SAUNDERS: Well everyone can count to one which is the answer for most of us. I just think it's a fun little thing. You know, the way that we've over covered the veepstakes, the little stories like the houses, people hate us for it and they tune in for it. It's sort of like the O.J. trial.
KURTZ: But didn't the liberals cry foul, Keli Goff, when four years ago it was Republicans taking shots at John Kerry's houses and Teresa's wealth and all that saying this was just silly and trying to pay him as a wind surfer. Now it's flipped.
GOFF: But part of it too is I think McCain hasn't helped himself. If you go back to some of his recent comments, and some of his surrogates' recent comments. I mean you had the Phil Gramm debacle. Then you had John McCain saying that $5 million is what constitutes having any amount of wealth. And then you discover that the man doesn't know how many houses he has. I think those three things combined result in a news story.
KURTZ: Absolutely fair game for the media?
GOFF: Absolutely fair game for the media.
KURTZ: We're going to hear about it for the next few weeks?
GOFF: I think we're going to hear about it for the next several months.
KURTZ: Well we'll probably hear about the Republican Convention next week, but we've got a lot more to do first here in Denver. Keli Goff, Debra Saunders, John Dickerson, thanks very much for joining us.
Now back to Wolf Blitzer here at the Pepsi Center.
BLITZER: Howie, thanks very much. Good discussion with the panel. Howie is going to back in our next hour as well. Coming up, we're going to Arizona, not to speak to the senior senator from Arizona, John McCain but to speak to the Democratic Governor Janet Napolitano, who has got a strong sense of what she thinks is going on. We'll speak to Janet Napolitano and much more of our special coverage from Denver right after this.
BLITZER: Welcome back. I'm Wolf Blitzer on the floor of the Democratic National Convention, along with John King.
John, you know, when the Democrats have their four days of festivities here, the Republicans will be watching very closely. And they're not going to merely be watching. They're going to be reacting immediately.
KING: Absolutely. They will be reacting. And already, we see the emerging storylines. The first thing Governor Pawlenty said, in the interview just a few moments ago, he tried to exploit, just like that new McCain ad, any festering resentment among Hillary Clinton supporters.
They're trying to drive a wedge between Barack Obama and the working-class, blue-collar Democrats in very important electoral states who voted for Hillary Clinton. They will continue that throughout the week. We'll watch how that works out.
Another big theme the Republicans will push all week long, Wolf, is they will say, huh, Bill Clinton was the last Democratic president; remember him? He came to his convention as a different kind of Democrat, made the Democrats put welfare reform on their platform, pushed the party to the center, said it had been too liberal.
The Republican line, over the next four days, will be Barack Obama and Joe Biden are pulling the party back to the left, left of center, too liberal for the country. That will be their argument, and the challenge for the Democrats here, specifically Obama most of all, is to try to prove them wrong.
BLITZER: And they'll have quick reaction to everything that goes on, as the Democrats will do next week when the Republicans have their festivities in St. Paul.
KING: It's part of the great sport. There will be a McCain operation here. There will be an Obama-Biden operation in Minneapolis-St. Paul.
Some of is, sort of, stagecraft, but some of it manages to get back and forth, rapid-fire, on the substance.
BLITZER: All right, good. Stand by, John. You know, John McCain is the senior senator from Arizona, but there's a Democratic governor in Arizona, and I had a chance to speak with her just a little while ago.
BLITZER: And joining us now, Janet Napolitano. She's the governor of Arizona. That's the home state of John McCain.
Governor, thanks very much for coming in.
What do you make of the new ticket, the Democratic ticket?
Were you happy? Were you sad, disappointed, thrilled by Joe Biden joining Barack Obama?
NAPOLITANO: Oh, I like the ticket. I think Barack Obama did exactly what he said he was going to do. He picked someone who complements him. He picked someone who is of his own mind and will not be a sycophant.
And picked someone who is knowledgeable in the ways of Washington. Because, if Barack Obama wants to effect change, part of doing that is having somebody with you that knows the institutions that you are changing.
BLITZER: What about some of the negative things that Senator Biden said about Barack Obama when he was running for president himself?
And he was asked specifically -- he had this exchange with George Stephanopoulos. I'll play it for you. Listen to this.
NAPOLITANO: All right.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, HOST, "THIS WEEK WITH GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS": You were asked, "Is he ready?" You said, "I think he can be ready, but right now, I don't believe he is. The presidency is not something that lends itself to on-the-job training."
BIDEN: I think I stand by the statement.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right. That was then; this is now, but the Republicans, as you know, they're already using that exchange in a commercial.
NAPOLITANO: Yes, I would expect them to, but, you know, it is that was then; this is now. And it also takes a very strong leader to put someone on their ticket who has taken a few pokes at them because -- because Obama believes that he adds to the ticket. I'm reminded of Abraham Lincoln who put his three opponents from the Republican primary in 1860 into his own Cabinet. I mean, it takes somebody with a strong sense of self and what is necessary to turn around and say, you know what, but I think you are a good, strong person; you're going to give me a fresh exchange of ideas; I want you on my ticket.
BLITZER: It would have been reinforcing the notion of change if he would have picked you, for example, or Kathleen Sebelius, the governor of Kansas or Tim Kaine, the governor of Virginia, but he went to Washington, to another United States senator, someone who's been in Washington, now, for more than 30 years.
What does that say about that whole notion of change versus, you know, typical Washington politics?
NAPOLITANO: Oh, this is the way I interpret it, which is Obama is perfectly capable of effecting change. And what he is doing is picking someone to be with him that can help him accomplish that change.
And someone who can help him accomplish that change is someone like Senator Biden, who's been chair of two of the most influential committees in the Senate, who is very knowledgeable in the fields of foreign relations, in particular, to help him accomplish the change that he seeks.
BLITZER: Here is an ad that the McCain campaign is running against Barack Obama, sort of, painting him as a celebrity who is out of touch with real America. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: Celebrities don't have to worry about family budgets, but we sure do. We're paying more for food and gas, making it harder to save for college, retirement. Obama's solution: higher taxes, called a "recipe for economic disaster."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right. That ad, us you heard, it starts with "Celebrities don't have to worry about family budgets."
He's painted Barack Obama as a celebrity because of these crowds that he can command.
NAPOLITANO: You know, that ad is so misleading and disappointing on so many levels. One is it pretends as if Obama is an automatic celebrity, when in fact he was raised by a single mom. He just paid off his student loans.
Everything he has he has had by dint of his own hard work and intellect. That is the American dream, the American way.
The other way it's misleading is Barack Obama's plan doesn't raise taxes on the middle class, those who are most squeezed by what's happened with the Bush-McCain economic policies we have.
Indeed, he cuts taxes and gives an immediate tax rebate to those individuals. So it's a disappointingly misleading advertisement.
BLITZER: A lot of people believe that, since John McCain is from your state, Arizona, Arizona is definitely going to go Republican. Do you believe that?
NAPOLITANO: I don't, and it's interesting. There was a poll out just this week, just a few days ago. It had McCain at 40 percent, Obama at 30 percent.
So he's 10 points ahead. If the election were today, he would carry Arizona. But 30 percent of the voters, or more than -- almost 30 percent are still undecided. And McCain is not even above 50 percent in his own state.
I think that leaves a lot of running room for Barack Obama. And the more Arizonans hear about Barack Obama, the more they like him.
BLITZER: Janet Napolitano is the governor of Arizona.
Governor, thanks very much for joining us. We'll see you here in Denver at the convention.
NAPOLITANO: Yes, you will. Thank you so much.
BLITZER: And coming up, our John King has been working his sources, and we're getting new information coming in to us here on our special "Late Edition" about when exactly did Barack Obama speak with Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton, for that matter?
Much more of our special coverage, right after this.
BLITZER: It's one of the most sensitive issues here at the Democratic National Convention, the relationship between Senators Barack Obama and Senator Hillary Clinton. John King is here, Bill Schneider is here and the whole question of when they spoke, how she was informed she wasn't going to be a vice presidential running mate. When I say it's sensitive, I really mean it.
KING: It could be the most sensitive issue on the floor here, the treatment of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Many of her supporters, even though she keeps saying other side, feel like she's getting pushed away, not getting the respect she thinks she deserves. And the Obama campaign is clearly sensitive to this, Wolf.
We've just gotten word our producer, Chris Welsh is with the Obama campaign and also Sam Feist, our political director was down here on the floor talking to a top Obama aid. Here is when they are saying now, that Barack Obama personally called Bill Clinton, the former president on Thursday. They did not discuss, we are told, the vice presidential selection process, but they did have a broad conversation about the convention and about the campaign to come and we're told it was a positive conversation.
BLITZER: Bill Clinton will be speaking on Wednesday night here.
KING: Wednesday night. And then on Friday, an Obama staffer called a Senator Clinton staffer to say that she was not going to be the vice presidential pick. And then when word of that leaked out, Senator Obama himself called Senator Clinton Friday evening to inform her of that fact and we're told they had a conversation Friday evening.
Now this is a clear effort by the Obama campaign to say, hey, look, we are trying to reach out to the Clintons and we did talk to them at the end of the process, at least with Senator Clinton. She was told on Friday first by the staff, then by Obama himself. But you hear from the Clinton people is why didn't they talk more earlier? Why weren't they consulted even if it wasn't going to be her? Why didn't he ask her advice? So there is this back and forth and it is a reflection of the lingering tensions. And what the Democrats are hoping is that at the end of the week, we will look back on this and say perhaps we exaggerated the tensions. But they clearly exist.
BLITZER: This is a major challenge for this convention right now, Bill? WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, it is, to show unity and to get over the tensions. But there's one way they can do it. There's one important thing that they agree on. What has George Bush done to the country? Now if they focus on that, on the record of the Bush administration, on what's happened in the last eight years, particularly in comparison with the Clinton years, on everything that's wrong and what they intend to do to turn it around, that is something the Clinton and the Obama people profoundly agree on. They want to stop the Republican operation from running the country.
BLITZER: The most unifying factor for the Democrats right now.
KING: But both parties are having a struggle about how to balance whacking the other guys and talking about what you will do. You will hear a lot of an effort here and Bill is dead right of trying to Velcro or superglue John McCain to George W. Bush. Because if the Democrats concede anything, it's that they globally and Barack Obama specifically gave McCain too much space this summer to establish a somewhat different brand, as a different Republican with differences with George W. Bush and they want to get that linkage back together clearly at this convention.
But if you look at all the polling data and talk to smart Democrats and Republicans, they warn Barack Obama this. They say, you better give the American people this week a better idea this week of specifically what change means. They all want change, but they don't know specifically what you would do for them. So finding that balance first here in Denver and then in Minneapolis will be fascinating.
BLITZER: And we're doing some polling even as we speak right now, we have a special tonight at 8:00 p.m. Eastern right here from the convention floor. I don't know the results of the polling, neither do you, but what are we trying to find out as we go around doing this polling on this day.
SCHNEIDER: Well, we're seeing where the ticket is going into this convention. We're going to see if there was a vice presidential bounce. Everything is getting closer and closer, but has it suddenly moved in the opposite direction? The big problem that this convention faces is that somehow over the course of the summer, the campaign has become a referendum on Barack Obama. It's not supposed to be. It's supposed to be a referendum on the status quo, on the Bush administration, on what Obama tries to talk about, which is change.
It's not supposed to be, are you for or against him? It's, do you want the status quo or change? They've got to refocus attention on that central issue with this convention, and that's going to be tough, because the central player in this convention is Barack Obama.
BLITZER: He's right. Easier said than done, all that.
KING: Easier said than done. And that's what has the Democrats, as excited as they are, anxious. Because Wolf, if you told the Democrats three months ago that George W. Bush would be somewhere in the 20s, approval rate, eight in 10 Americans would think the country was on the wrong track, gas would still be over $4 a gallon, we'd still be in the middle of the mortgage crisis and the American people still want the Iraq war to be over, and yet the race for president would be a dead heat coming into their convention, they would tell you, no way, we should be up eight or 10 now. Instead, they're up maybe two or three.
SCHNEIDER: Imagine if this race were a race with George Bush running for another term, or Dick Cheney running to succeed him. Can you imagine what would be going on?
BLITZER: All right guys, stand by, because we're going to continue this situation. Also, Evan Bayh, he's standing by to join us live, the Democratic senator for Indiana. He was on the really, really short list. We'll talk about what it felt like when he got that call from Senator Obama. Much more of our coverage after this. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BLITZER: And welcome back to the floor of the Democratic National Convention. I'm Wolf Blitzer, reporting along with John King. He's here with us. We've got a lot going on over here.
John, this is an exciting time for the Democrats. We'll be doing exactly the same thing with the Republicans next week.
KING: And it's a fascinating state of play. This could not be a more consequential election, whether the issues are domestic or overseas, and it could not be a much closer election. Barack Obama in the latest polling getting a little bit of an edge nationally, but as you know, Wolf, we elect presidents state by state, and when you look at the electoral map, wow. This is a very competitive race.
BLITZER: All right. Let's talk a little bit with one of the key players in all of this, Senator Evan Bayh of Indiana. He's a Democrat, former governor of Indiana. He's joining us now live from our Washington studio. I know you're going to be coming over here to Denver pretty soon. Senator, thanks very much for coming in.
BAYH: Wolf, good to be with you again.
BLITZER: Let's talk a little bit about what it felt like when you got that call on Friday from Senator Barack Obama, and he informed you that you would not be his vice presidential running mate. Walk us through a little bit, because it's one of those experiences that very few people ever have, and you've had it.
BAYH: Well, obviously, Wolf, it's a life-changing moment. He had a lot of nice things to say about me, which I was very flattered by. I told him I was honored to be considered. I hope it reflected well upon both me and my state. And I believed in him, and I wanted to do whatever I could to help us change the direction of this country, to address the problems that middle-class families in states like mine are facing. And I thought Joe Biden was an excellent man and he could count on me to be helpful in any way that I could.
BLITZER: Did he give you an explanation why he -- he didn't tell you he was picking Biden, did he?
BAYH: No. He just said that they were going to be going in a different direction, but he said that that was a reflection on other things than me. He said a number of things, Wolf, that would sound immodest if I recounted to you, so I'm not going to do that. But look, I really got to know Barack well during this process, and I've got a lot of confidence in his judgment and his ability to lead this country in a better direction. And I wholeheartedly support his decision. And as I said, it was an honor to be in that final two or three. You know, I don't think you'd be there unless they concluded you had a lot of positive things to offer and probably not too many negatives.
And so it was just -- I was flattered to go through it, and I support him and Joe -- I called Joe Biden yesterday morning, by the way, early in the morning, to congratulate him. I think he's going to be great, and let's go out and lead this country in a better direction.
KING: Senator Bayh, it's John King here in Denver. I want to ask you a question about whether you're concerned, as a senator, former governor of a red state, Indiana -- Nancy Pelosi is speaker because Democrats were successful down in southern Indiana, conservative country in the last election. You have in Barack Obama and Joe Biden two politicians who, by their own accounts, are left of center. Bill Clinton won the presidency. He was more of a centrist Democrat, like you, a Democratic Leadership Council Democrat. Do you worry the ticket this party will put before the American people is too liberal to win Indiana and to contest down in the South and in more conservative parts of America?
BAYH: No, I'm not concerned about that, John. And one of the reasons I'm not is one of the things I've learned about Barack Obama over the course of the last month, when we really got to know each other well in the course of this whole vice presidential selection process, is he's not an ideologue. He's a pragmatist. He wants to know what will work.
So those kitchen-table issues across my state -- which, as you know, is a blue-collar, working, middle-class state -- cost of health care, college affordability, job security -- those kinds of things, energy security, cost of energy -- those bread-and-butter issues, that's what he's focused on.
And you know, the choice, John, as you know, is going to be between change and someone who will focus in a practical way on delivering for ordinary American families on the one hand, and John McCain, who is a truly good person, but really represents more of the same, having voted with President Bush 95 percent of the time. And for those middle-class families where I'm from, they want somebody who's going to deliver for them in a practical way. And on that dimension, the choice is clear. We need Barack Obama.
KING: But, Senator, help me understand. What would your advice be to Barack Obama? Where has he failed? If you look at a poll today, latest NBC-Wall Street Journal poll, for example -- 20 percent of Hillary Clinton's voters in the primaries, those blue-collar Democrats, say they will vote for John McCain. 27 percent say they're undecided. That is almost half of Hillary Clinton's voters at this moment in time say they're not prepared to vote for Barack Obama. What is he doing wrong? BAYH: Well, I think our convention will give us a big opportunity to reach out to those people. Hillary, as you know, is going to be 100 percent for him. I spoke to her last night. She wants to do whatever she can to help him get elected, because she knows that he's the right change for America too.
Her supporters like me, for example, we're going to be out there doing everything we can. And I think what you'll find, John, is that we focus on the real stakes in this election, which is not about John McCain or Barack Obama so much, as it is what are we going to do for middle-class American families. Who has the better path to really focus on those kitchen-table issues going forward, that for those people who supported Hillary. That will be a compelling message.
So she can help with that. People like myself can help with that, and the convention can help with that going forward. And when we present that choice -- Barack Obama with change, John McCain, good man but more of the same -- middle-class families across middle America where I'm from, that choice is clear.
BLITZER: Senator Bayh, thanks very much for joining us. We'll see you out here in Denver.
BAYH: Wolf, I'll look forward to it.
BLITZER: All right, let's get a different perspective right now from Senator Arlen Specter, Republican of Pennsylvania. He's joining us now live.
Senator Specter, we spoke with your colleague, Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, just a little while ago. He thinks that Senator Obama can carry Pennsylvania. What do you think right now? What does it look like? No one knows your state politically as well as you do.
SEN. ARLEN SPECTER, R-PA.: I think that Senator McCain can carry Pennsylvania. I think it's going to be determined by the campaigning.
But Senator McCain is an independent. When you talk about change, disagreeing with the Bush administration, I think you have a man in John McCain who has demonstrated that.
The key to carrying Pennsylvania are the four suburban counties around Philadelphia. President Bush lost three of them. I think that John McCain's type of politics, his independence will stand him in very good stead. I've carried those counties...
BLITZER: What about the fact -- what about the fact that your friend, Joe Biden, from Delaware, is a native son of Scranton, Pennsylvania, and he's going to be spending a lot of time in Pennsylvania over the next several weeks?
SPECTER: Well, I think Senator Biden is a very good man, a very good friend of mine. We have ridden trains very frequently from Washington. He gets off in Wilmington and I go on to Philadelphia.
But I think that whatever Senator Biden does -- and I think he is popular in Pennsylvania and popular everywhere, really -- this is essentially a race between Senator Obama and Senator McCain. And I think this year, the television debates are going to be very important, when you see the two men stand side by side. And Senator McCain has a lot of experience on foreign policy and on defense, which differentiates him from Senator Obama, and I think that could be decisive.
Also, Wolf, I think that Senator McCain needs to emphasize more that he has experience in the commercial field. He has been chairman of the Senator Commerce Committee. So that when you talk about economic issues and bread-and-butter issues, Senator McCain has a good background there as well. KING: Senator Specter, it's John King here. I want to ask you a question about those counties you just talked about.
KING: One of the reasons George W. Bush lost those counties is because many suburban women, who say they are inclined to vote Republican, say they voted for Democrat because they viewed him as so strong of an opponent of abortion rights. Do you think John McCain needs to pick a supporter of abortion rights to balance the Republican ticket if he is to win those counties and win Pennsylvania?
SPECTER: Well, John, that's a touchy subject because the solid Republican base is necessary for Senator McCain to win, and there's a lot of concern about having somebody who is pro-choice. But bear this in mind, that John McCain has never been a trumpeter on the issue, never been outspoken. And Senator McCain is for embryonic stem cell research, so that Senator McCain himself presents a good balance.
But I don't know what John McCain's going to do on a running mate. But he has to balance a lot of factors, and I think that there are other matters of concern to the suburban Philadelphia voters besides the pro-choice issue. And I think that McCain's independence will stand him in very good stead there.
BLITZER: Here's what Senator Biden said yesterday, Senator Specter, in going after Senator McCain, suggesting, you know, he's really out of touch with working-class, middle-class America. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: You talk about how much you're worried about being able to pay the bills. Well, ladies and gentlemen, that's not a worry John McCain has to worry about.
It's a pretty hard experience. He'll have to figure out which of the seven kitchen tables to sit at.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right. A clever line referring to how many homes the McCains own. But what do you think?
SPECTER: Well, I think that when the voter goes into that polling booth, he's going to be a lot more concerned about what Russia's doing in Jordan -- Georgia on their invasion or what's happening with Iran and their developing a nuclear bomb.
And John McCain has had a pretty -- pretty rugged life. He has not exactly had a life with a silver spoon in his mouth. John McCain has experienced more personal adversity than anybody I know -- certainly anybody in the United States Senate.
And I think he understands tough problems and the way to deal with them. I don't think anybody could ever fault John McCain about being able to deal with adversity and going through really a living hell, which is...
BLITZER: But we know...
SPECTER: ... a lot -- a lot more important than how many apartments your -- your wife owns.
BLITZER: We know -- we know that you're going through adversity right now, as you've done before successfully. How do you feel, Senator? Give our -- before I let you go, give our viewers an update on your health.
SPECTER: Wolf, I feel -- I feel fine. I was able to work through the chemotherapy on the recurrence of Hodgkins and stay on the job and make all the votes. And I'm traveling the state. Before the year's up, I'll be in all of Pennsylvania's 67 counties.
I'd just like to get my hair back, Wolf. I'm getting more correspondence on my hairdo than I am on my public policy. I'm getting quite a few suggestions I ought to go Bruce Willis style and become a sex symbol. But I'm not going to do that for two reasons, Wolf. One is my wife's against it, and second I'm not qualified.
But I feel good. I'm a -- I'm a functioning senator.
BLITZER: Well, we're -- we're thrilled to hear that. You look good. Think about it. You know hair may be -- may be overrated, Senator.
SPECTER: Well, Wolf, you're not someone to talk about that, with as much as you have on your head and on your face.
BLITZER: You're going to get it back. I know you are, Senator. We'll see you...
SPECTER: I'm -- I'm looking forward to. When I get all my hair back like Samson, I'll have -- I'll have it all.
BLITZER: You're strong without it. Senator, thanks very much for coming in. Good luck with your battle.
SPECTER: Good being with you.
BLITZER: We're -- all right, good. We're praying for Senator Arlen Specter, as we always are.
Much more of our special coverage here on Late Edition. Coming up, Roland Martin and David Brody. They'll join John and me, and we'll discuss the Democrats and the Republicans right after this.
BLITZER: You're looking at live pictures of the Pepsi Center here in Denver, Colorado. Normally, the Denver Nuggets would be playing basketball here. Not this week. The Democrats -- they have their convention inside. We're inside. We're on the floor. Welcome back to our special Late Edition. Let's get some analysis of what has been going on and what we could expect over the coming days. Joining John King and me right now is our Roland Martin. He's joining us from Chicago. And David Brody -- he's here on the floor with us with the Christian Broadcasting Network, our newest contributor to CNN.
David, let me get your sense of...
BLITZER: ... of what's going on as -- as we look forward to these next four days.
BRODY: Well, I think what we're seeing behind the scenes, at least, from the Obama campaign is that they are concerned that Joe Biden's 30-year record in the Senate is going to be scrutinized big time.
You know we've talked a lot about will Joe Biden commit all of these gaffes. And, sure, that's a concern between the DNC and the Obama campaign.
But it's that 30-year Senate record that they understand that the RNC -- it is my understanding -- is that they are going -- going through that big time right now. And that is going to be a major concern going forward, and some of that will trickle out this week. And that will be interesting.
BLITZER: When you've been a senator, Roland, for 30 years, you do have a lot of paper -- a lot of paper trail there.
MARTIN: Look, I mean there -- there are positives and negatives to obviously being in the Senate for 30 years.
But I think from the Obama standpoint, they recognize that Joe Biden brings a strong, authoritative voice not only in terms of foreign policy -- he was also chairman of the Judiciary Committee when Bork and Clarence Thomas went before it -- but also the fact that he is a strong campaigner.
So I think that his assertive voice on the campaign trail, frankly, will outweigh any other negatives that -- that could be there that -- that Republicans will bring up.
So I mean there's no doubt there's a huge area to mine in terms of 30 years in the Senate.
BRODY: That obviously is a concern, Wolf. I'll tell you something else that is emerging. I'd like your thoughts. We're going to turn the tables and ask you a question for a change on Late Edition.
BRODY: I find it fascinating. I went back and you know not since 1960 -- we all know this -- has a United States senator been elected president. Obviously, that record will be broken this year, since both nominees are United States senators.
But not since 1964 have you had an election where nobody on the ballot is a -- at least a governor or a former governor. Jimmy Carter was a governor. Bill Clinton was a governor. George W. Bush was a governor. Ronald Reagan was a governor.
You have that one spot left. I think if you're John McCain, you might be thinking, "I want a governor."
BLITZER: You know he may -- he may decide with Tim Pawlenty, who's -- who's a governor.
And you're making a good point. You have two United States senators you know running as the -- on the Democratic ticket. The last time I think we did that was back in 1960, when you had John F. Kennedy and LBJ, both sitting United States senators, running on a ticket.
You normally -- you're absolutely right -- the country wants to see someone outside of Washington -- a governor, if you will -- emerge.
And -- and David, you want to -- I see you're itching away.
BRODY: Yes, because I mean the two governors -- Governor Pawlenty, Governor Romney -- they're obviously being mentioned by the McCain campaign. I mean does the Biden pick change the dynamic? And you get the sense...
BLITZER: What do you think?
BRODY: Well, I think it very much changes the dynamic.
BLITZER: Will evangelicals go with a Mormon?
BRODY: I think a certain percentage, a small percentage will not. But I don't think that takes Romney out of the game by any stretch of the imagination...
MARTIN: Right, right. I mean and -- and, Wolf, think about...
BRODY: ... at all.
MARTIN: First of all, guys, think about this for a second. We -- we make all these historical notes in terms of what happened 34 years ago. But that, frankly, has gone out the window from the outset of this primary.
I mean to have an African American, to have the oldest candidate ever to run before, both being senators, and so I think from a historical standpoint, all that stuff goes completely out the window.
The map is changing, and you've got McCain trying to compete in blue states, Obama trying to go after red states. And so I think this whole campaign is turned upside down. They're rewriting history every single day. KING: It's an interesting point Roland makes about the map changing, but we also do need to look at historical voting patterns.
But on that very point and the point you just raised with David, I think it's one of the strong arguments in the McCain campaign for Mitt Romney.
He is from a key suburb of Detroit, a swing voting, a county that John Kerry won when he just carried Michigan last time. Mitt Romney's father, of course, was a legend in the auto industry in Michigan.
Plus, to the point of Mitt Romney being a Mormon, look in the western United States.
This state, Colorado, Nevada -- there are states out here in the mountain West that are swing states that are in play, where do you have not a huge, but a much bigger population of Mormons than you do -- Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader is a Mormon -- than you do, say, in South Carolina, where it was an issue for him in the primaries.
So the McCain campaign sees, in a year where the map is changing, that in that sense that Romney could help.
BRODY: Also, just remember. Just as much as Biden gave Obama cover on foreign policy, Romney could very much do the same for McCain on the economy. And -- and that is huge.
BLITZER: So your instinct is it's going to be Romney.
BRODY: Most likely. That's -- that's the sense that -- that I'm getting talking to folks that -- that are in the know.
KING: There was a little bit of a buzz yesterday that there's a wild card we don't the name of yet in the McCain calculation. We're trying to work that, but they want an aggressive debater above all else, because they know with Joe Biden you get a happy constant story.
BLITZER: That would be a lively debate -- Mitt Romney debating Joe Biden. We'll look forward maybe to that.
All right, guys. Thanks very much.
John King -- we're going to make him work a little bit harder in our next segment. He's going to walk over to our magic board and get some analysis of what's going on.
Much more of our special coverage here on Late Edition right after this.
BLITZER: Welcome back. As important as the votes are, the general votes, in an election, the Electoral College map is clearly the most important and will determine who the next president of the United States is. Let's go back to John King. He's over at our little portable magic wall map for us, if you will.
Where' does the Electoral College stand right now, based on our -- our estimates from the polling in these various states?
KING: Wolf, the point you just made is absolutely critical. Remember Al Gore won the popular vote back in 2000, but he is not president, because he lost in the Electoral College.
You have to get 270. That is the magic number. Right now we give Barack Obama a lead in the states that carry about 221 electoral votes. John McCain we give the lead in states that carry 109 electoral votes.
Let's take off the telestrator for a second. This is what strikes me, Wolf. If you look at the electoral map right now, these golden states, the yellow gold states -- those are the states that we rank as toss-ups right now.
Look at this heavy concentration out here in the Midwest -- Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri. And yet Barack Obama went all the way over here to the East Coast in picking Joe Biden.
This is one of the draws, if you're John McCain looking at this map and thinking maybe a vice president might help me, is the strong appeal here and why we just talked a little bit about a minute ago the state of Michigan, 17 electoral votes.
Imagine if John McCain could add that up to his. That would get him right in play in two. They think Mitt Romney could help with that regard. And we talked about Mitt Romney being a Mormon. There are more Mormons out here.
Let's say it helped in a toss-up state like Nevada. If you could put that in play for John McCain, that brings him roughly into parity with Barack Obama right there. And it would turn the competition down in these other states.
But what this tells you most of all as the Democrats come here -- and I go back to where we stand, roughly 221, 189 -- is how important these conventions are and how important it is for both of the candidates.
The man at the top of the ticket wins the election. These candidates need to convince the American people about the questions of lingering doubts. And we're going to talk a lot about a lot of issues.
But if you look right here in the heartland of America, this is why we say the economy is issue number one. It is critically important out here.
And looking at the electoral map now, Wolf, you know this very well. We're going to spend a lot of time in Florida. We always do. We're going to spend a lot of time out here in the industrial heartland.
But one of the reasons the Democrats are here in Denver is right here. It's because you do have three states in play -- not a lot of electoral votes, but you add -- but when you add it all up, if this race plays out as it has been playing out in recent weeks, right out here in the mountain West could be the key, which means we might be up a little late on election night.
BLITZER: Thanks very much, John.
Don't go too far away, because we're going to be bringing you right back. Much more of our coverage from the floor of the Democratic National Convention. James Carville is standing by. So are Leslie Sanchez and Howie Kurtz. We'll assess the convention and more right after this.
BLITZER: You're looking at these pictures of Invesco Field at Mile High Stadium. That's very close to where we are at the Pepsi Center right now. They have about 20,000 seats in the Pepsi Center.
BLITZER: They have about 75,000 seats over at Invesco Field. That's where the Denver Broncos, the football team, plays. And that's where Barack Obama Thursday night will accept the Democratic presidential nomination. We'll have, obviously, extensive coverage of all of this.
Let's assess what's going to happen between now and then with our panel. Joining us, our CNN analyst, Leslie Sanchez, Howard Kurtz of CNN's "Reliable Sources," and James Carville, the preeminent Democratic strategist out there. Is that right, James?
CARVILLE: That is definitely not right.
BLITZER: You've got a Democrat elected president of the United States in '92 and '96. That's a pretty good track record.
CARVILLE: But that was a long time ago. There's a lot better stuff coming up.
BLITZER: All right. You've got some serious advice for Barack Obama. If he wants to be like Bill Clinton, a president of the United States, as opposed to like Al Gore an almost-president or John Kerry, an almost-president, you say he's got to do what and he's got to do it right now?
CARVILLE: He's got to own change. Make Bush the centerpiece of this convention. He's got to own economic issues and talk to people directly about what's happened to their lives and he's got to show some passion about what's happened to this country. People are absolutely furious, about their incomes, the health care, the military forces, to our reputation around the world and he's got to show that he's passionate about changing that. He does those three things Thursday night.
BLITZER: Is he temperamentally, is he capable of doing what you want him to do?
CARVILLE: I think that he is, but he's got to out of this sort of lofty change politics stuff and get down there and explain to people how passionate he feels about this economy, what's happened to their lives and quit all this lofty, visionary, you know, the on the horizon precipice stuff and get down in some real --
BLITZER: Leslie, you're a good Republican strategist. You heard his advice for Barack Obama. What does John McCain need to do next week at his convention in St. Paul if he wants to be president of the United States?
SANCHEZ: I think he's doing the right thing. He's going to be talk about economics, the true bread and butter issues. People are figuring out how they're going to pay for their health insurance, how they're going to get their businesses going. He's talking real solutions to that versus how people may feel. He's saying I understand your concerns, this is how we're going to fight the Democrats to try to find solutions. And solutions tend to always be the key, as well as having constraint on the budget, understanding the real economic threats that are on the horizon.
BLITZER: Can these guys do it, though, Howie? You've been watching politics, like I have, for a really long time. And the temptation is just to continue doing what brought them to the dance and not make any major changes, even in the midst of what's going on.
KURTZ: The fact that 15,000 of us are here --
BLITZER: When you say 15,000 --
KURTZ: Journalists, media people, scribes, television types. So even if people aren't watching with every minute of the convention, they're going to see the sound bites later. This is an important moment because what we all forget, we're all in this bubble, we've all been covering this for about two years now is that a lot of people haven't been paying attention.
They may be tuning in for the first time, focusing on Barack Obama's message, John McCain's message with the big megaphone that we have. But it's the only unfiltered opportunity they will have until the debates to speak directly to the American people.
BLITZER: Because I can't tell you, you hear this all the time James, how many people say to me, I don't really know that much about Barack Obama, who is he, can I trust him, what has he done? You've heard that all the time.
CARVILLE: You do hear that a lot. That's what very important about this convention, is that Obama show people what he's about. Because believe you me, when they go to St. Paul, the Republicans are going to talk a lot about Barack Obama. He's going to be front and center in St. Paul. We better be doggone sure that we put George W. Bush front and center and we remind people that John McCain said I agree with George W. Bush on every issue. We better be very change- driven here because they're going to hammer us really hard in St. Paul.
SANCHEZ: And I'd like to remind people that Joe Biden said Barack Obama was not yet qualified to be president. That it is not the type of job that you have training as you're going through the experience/ I'm butchering that up, but I would point to a piece that Peggy Noonan wrote today in the "Wall Street Journal." She's talking about now people are paying attention. The reason there's a two-point gap between these two is that foreign policy became the big trumpeting issue. You put Joe Biden in there to shore up those credentials. But people vote for the president, not the vice president. KURTZ: You know, rival candidates say things all the time, the way they get replayed by the other side. I think most voters tend to discount that. What we all forget when we talk about the impact of national television and the glare of the spotlight here is that there's also local media.
For example, this morning's Denver Post. Obama gave the newspaper an interview about his coming acceptance speech on Thursday. And the headline "Obama aspires to speak for the common people." You can't buy that kind of publicity.
BLITZER: Especially in Colorado, which is a real battleground state, unlike maybe a few years ago. This state, like Pennsylvania, like Ohio, like Florida, like Michigan and a few others, James, will determine who the next president is.
CARVILLE: It will. And Howie, I was looking at the same piece, and as a Democrat, I was very encouraged by the piece because it seems like they're getting the message to come off this perch and come down and talk directly to people and talk about change and changing these policies and stuff like that. I thought that was an encouraging thing that I read in the paper and hopefully the speech will mirror that.
SANCHEZ: Very much so and if you look at the Joe Biden pick, we're talking about it's not Delaware, it's Pennsylvania. If you look at the northern counties that are in northern Philadelphia, you're definitely looking at areas he lost by 60, 70 percent to Hillary Clinton. So that's really what they're talking about.
BLITZER: We've got to leave it right this, guys, because Terry McAuliffe, the former chairman of the Clinton campaign, the former DNC chairman, he's going to be speaking with us. Much more of our coverage from the floor of the convention here in Denver right after this.
BLITZER: You're looking at live pictures from Eau Claire, Wisconsin, that's where Senator Barack Obama is right now. He's going to be speaking there soon. We're watching what's going on in this battleground state of Wisconsin. I'm Wolf Blitzer. We're here at the Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado. One of the great story lines that we're going to be watching over the next several days is the relationship between the winner of the Democratic contest, Barack Obama, and the loser, Hillary Clinton. And we had a chance to speak with someone who knows a great deal about this relationship yesterday.
Joining us now, the former chairman of the Hillary Clinton campaign, Terry McAuliffe. He's also a former chairman of the DNC, the Democratic National Committee. Terry, thanks very much for coming in.
TERRY MCAULIFFE, CLINTON CAMPAIGN CHAIRMAN: You bet, Wolf. Great to be with you. BLITZER: All right. What's your reaction to Joe Biden? I know you would have loved to have seen Barack Obama pick Hillary Clinton. That didn't happen. But what do you think about this Biden vice presidential announcement?
MCAULIFFE: Yeah. Sure, I would have loved Hillary, but I predicted on your show a month and a half ago that I thought it would be Joe Biden. I think Joe Biden brings a lot to the ticket. We're excited. I've helped Joe Biden a lot. Hillary Clinton, best friends with Joe Biden. I think it's a great pick.
MCAULIFFE: It helps us with the national security issues. Born in Scranton. Obviously, the Delaware market goes into the Pennsylvania media market in Philadelphia. So politically, it helps us in Pennsylvania.
But there's nobody better. And I said this in 2004, there was no one better for us on television to talk about the issues in the Middle East than Joe Biden. So I think it's a huge lift for Senator Obama.
I think it's a great ticket. All the Democrats are coming together and I think Independents and Republicans watch those two speeches today and say, you know what, these are the two gentleman we want to take over this government and take us into the new world, change the world, bring things together, work together, get us health care, get us out of this mess in Iraq. So we're all very excited about it. I think it's a great pick.
BLITZER: A lot of Hillary Clinton supporters, they're disappointed she wasn't picked, but they're also disappointing, apparently, she wasn't even all that seriously considered. Reports that she wasn't ever vetted, if you will, asked to produce documents, look at her health or anything like that. Listen to your friend and colleague Paul Begala, our CNN strategist, who obviously supported Hillary Clinton's campaign for the White House. Listen to what he told me on Friday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL BEGALA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I think the fact that he said she would be on the short list and then, according to published reports, has not followed through on that, it empowers a small segment of Hillaryland that could cause a lot of trouble at the convention and later on.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BLITZER: Do you agree with Paul that there's going to be a lot of disgruntlement among some of those Hillary Clinton supporters that, you know, he said she was going to be on the short list, but apparently she wasn't seriously considered?
MCAULIFFE: Well, she didn't think she was going to get picked to be vice president. She wasn't vetted. She'd had conversations with Senator Obama. So she knew it, I knew it, others knew it. So this was no great surprise to us. Hillary has said she will do anything that Senator Obama wants. If he had picked her for the ticket, would have been spectacular.
But you know what, she's been campaigning, she was in Nevada, she was in Florida, she has helped raise millions of dollars for Senator Obama's campaign. She has done more than anyone in her position in the history of our Democratic Party.
If you look at the past conventions that we've had, many candidates actually took it to the floor of the convention, tied up our convention for several days. She hasn't done that. She got 18 million votes, she's encouraged all those 18 million people to come out, work hard for Senator Obama, work now with Senator Biden.
So she's going to do everything that she can. She is upbeat, I spoke to her today, she's ready to go, she's got a full campaign schedule in the fall and she's going to do whatever it takes to help Senator Obama become the next president of the United States of America.
BLITZER: You've seen that "Wall Street Journal"/NBC News poll that asked Clinton supporters what their inclination is right now, 52 percent of them said they'd support Obama, 21 percent said they'd support McCain, another 27 percent are still undecided. That's almost half, right there, who aren't yet ready to commit to Obama. There's frustration, there's anger among a considerable chunk of Hillary Clinton supporters.
MCAULIFFE: And I think, Wolf, for a lot of them, they were hoping that Hillary would become the vice president, so I think they were waiting to see the announcement. Now that Senator Biden has been picked, now we move forward to the general election and I think we're going to be able to bring all those folks in as we move into the general election.
Clearly, people are disgruntled with where George Bush has taken this country and they know the stark differences between having a President McCain and a President Obama and all the people who supported Hillary. It was about health care, it was about fighting for our children and education, and it's going to be a stark difference as we head into the fall.
So I'm very confident that the people will come in. It's going to take time, but you know what? Wolf, you know as well as I do, it was a 17-month primary campaign, it was very close, Hillary got 18 million votes. It's going to take some people some time. But in the end, we're all going to come together. We're Democrats. We want to take this country in a new direction. Senator Obama's pick today with Senator Biden was spectacular. He adds so much to the ticket and I think it's a dynamite ticket.
BLITZER: You know, there's also a lot of disappointment among Hillary Clinton supporters that they say he apparently, they say, hasn't done enough to help retire her debt, millions and millions of dollars she's in debt for right now.
Lynn Forester, a Clinton supporter, you probably know her, says "He has provided her with a pittance compared to what the Clintons have given Obama. Her debt could have been cleared within 10 days. It's ungracious." You agree with Lynn Forester?
MCAULIFFE: Well, no one worries about these debt issues probably more than I do, Wolf. As you say, I've worked with the Clintons for a long time and their campaigns and dealing with debt. This debt doesn't bother me. We're going to take care of it in due course. Senator Obama's folks, have, many of them have maxed out to us.
We're going to get the debt done. And to be honest with you, I don't like the discussion of debt. If I say we're going to have it taken care of, nobody should worry about it. I've told Hillary we're going to get it done and she's doing events. So we're going to deal with the debt. It's going to get done, we've raised millions since she got out of the race. We have 1.7 million people on her e-mail list supporting her, close to 700,000 direct mail donors. They're still with Hillary. They know she's going to be a huge voice in the Senate fighting on health care and education and those issues. So we're going to get it done and all the people from the Obama campaign who helped have been spectacular.
But we're positive. Hillary Clinton, you know, since she gave her speech that Saturday here at the Pension Building, she has been out there working for Senator Obama. We have had no grievances, I've had no grievances, the campaign's moving forward. We'll do whatever it takes. This is about the Democratic Party and the ideals we care about, why we fight so hard. As you know, I've worked for this party for 30 years, the last 15 years, practically a full-time volunteer.
I do this because I believe in what this party stands for. That's what Hillary Clinton stands believes in, what Bill Clinton believes in and that's why this election is so important.
So these issues of debt and all -- forget all that stuff. We've got to get Barack Obama elected president of the United States of America, and we -- and I speak for Hillary Clinton and I speak for Bill Clinton -- we all are going to do whatever it takes to make sure he wins this November 4th.
BLITZER: Spoken as a good Democrat, as he is. Terry McAuliffe, thanks so much for coming in.
MCAULIFFE: Thanks, Wolf.
BLITZER: Let's assess what we just heard. Gloria Borger is here. If you've got to repay a debt, you want Terry McAuliffe on your side. He's about as good as a political fund-raiser as there is out there. Hillary Clinton's lucky to have them.
BORGER: He sounds like it's all taken care of. As he said, if I'm not worrying about it, no one else should worry about it.
BLITZER: It's $10 million, at least.
BORGER: It's a lot of money.
BLITZER: It's a lot of money to raise. Despite what he's saying that they're working together, everything's great, kumbaya, it isn't?
BORGER: Not so much. I don't think so. Look, as he said, Hillary Clinton didn't expect to be on this ticket. I think the gripe of the Clinton folks is that Obama was ungracious, as someone put it to me which is not that he didn't pick her or he called her at the last minute, but how about consulting the former president? How about consulting Hillary Clinton about what he was thinking, about the process. Bill Clinton had been through this process before. He chose Al Gore. Lots of people thought Al Gore was a very good choice for vice president. So there's a sense that they should have at least been consulted.
BLITZER: All right, Gloria, stand by. Senator Barack Obama is in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, right now, getting ready to speak to a rally over there. He was introduced by Russ Feingold, the senator. There you see Senator Obama. We're going to go there, listen in, see what's going on in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Much more of our coverage from the DNC Convention Center right after this.
OBAMA: ... and everybody was just wonderful there. And so I've had a very nice morning in Eau Claire. But I have to tell you, I am starving.
BLITZER: Welcome back. You're looking at live pictures of Senator Barack Obama. He's in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, getting ready to speak at a rally there. He's been thanking some of the dignitaries who have come out on this Sunday to hear what he has to say the day after he said that Joe Biden would be his running mate.
We're here at the Democratic National Convention. Gloria Borger is here as well, Suzanne Malveaux, Joe Johns, all of them part of the best political team on television.
We've been speaking a lot, Suzanne, about the relationship between Senator Obama and Senator Clinton.
And you've been digging and coming up with some nuggets. What are you learning?
MALVEAUX: Well, I talked to Robert Gibbs of the campaign earlier today.
BLITZER: He works for the Obama campaign?
MALVEAUX: With the Obama campaign. And they're really trying to hit back hard here, this idea of the McCain ad that came out using Hillary Clinton's own words, talking about how Barack Obama is not prepared.
They say this is a dishonest ad here; this is old information, that they are moving beyond that.
And what they're trying to emphasize here is trying to bring the Hillary folks over, minimize some of the damage.
He said Thursday that Barack Obama did pick up the phone, had a 30-minute conversation with Bill Clinton; the following day had a conversation with Senator Clinton on Friday about the reasons why she was not chosen as the number two pick.
BLITZER: They really have to patch up this little feud, Joe, if Barack Obama wants to be the next president of the United States.
JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. And, I mean, you have to, sort of, take this as a big picture, too. Because the Republicans are watching. And quite frankly, they would like nothing better than for there to be a huge disaster here for Barack Obama. So that goes into the equation, too.
And there's this issue of unity and disunity that they keep pushing. It's up to the Democrats.
And you look at Hillary Clinton, too. She's a person who obviously is saying -- sending signals, yes, I'm going to be a team player. But she can't necessarily control all her supporters.
BLITZER: And if you look at history, whenever the Democrats have had a, sort of, divided convention, they have lost.
BORGER: They have lost. That's a problem. And that's what this John McCain ad is about. He's going to stir the pot a little bit, Wolf. He's trying to get these sides angry, reminding all these Democrats about all the things that Hillary Clinton said about Barack Obama during this campaign.
Look, these camps don't really like each other. And there is a sense, on the Clinton side, that Obama could have reached out a little more, just in the decision-making process.
And the Obama people say, you know what, he won, he reached out as much as he thought he needed to, and let's move on -- and that he's done a lot for Hillary Clinton.
BLITZER: Stand by, guys. Because we have to take a quick break. But I want to also go out to Eau Claire, Wisconsin, and hear what Senator Obama is saying. Much more of that right after this.
BLITZER: Senator Obama speaking to supporters in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Let's listen in briefly.
OBAMA: And it gives you great confidence and it makes you feel optimistic when you talk to people, partly because it turns out that, for all the differences that you hear about on cable shows, for all the conflict that dominates the news, it turns out people have pretty common values.
I mean, we have differences. Everybody's got different opinions about things, but basically people have some common values about family, about community, about honesty and hard work and the dignity of work and about our obligations to our children and our grandchildren, to the future generations.
BLITZER: All right. You see reflected, at least in this part of the speech in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, Gloria, it's not exactly, at least that little snippet what we just heard, what James Carville wants to hear. He wants to see him really get out there and fight. BORGER: No. I think this was the values part of the message, which is that I share your values; people in America share each other's values; I don't want to divide America; I want to unite America, and -- but I agree with James, actually. I do think he's got to get a little bit sharper on his -- on his -- on substance.
BLITZER: And I'm sure that's why he hired Joe Biden to be his running mate. Because Joe Biden, he's a fighter, as we all know.
But you've covered Obama and you did a great documentary on his life, Suzanne. Is he, temperamentally -- can he do that? Can he go out there -- because he's a very thoughtful, scholarly kind of guy.
MALVEAUX: You know, he really is. And, actually, but he has a pragmatic side. He has a very political side. His instincts are good. There have been times, in previous race, where he has grown up, really, with the Chicago-style politics. He's a student of Chicago- style politics.
So he can actually make some of the bold moves. He's done it in the past when it comes to previous races. There's been -- we've seen ambition. We've seen a little bit of luck. We've seen a lot of hard work to get him where he is.
And what he does, also, is he puts himself in positions, places himself with mentors, with people that are going to move him forward, who are going to set that path, that way for him.
So it is -- it's not that he doesn't know how to do that or he hasn't done it in the past. It's not necessarily a natural role for him to be the attack dog.
BLITZER: And he did slay Hillary Clinton in the primaries, Joe. That's nothing to sneeze at if you're a politician.
JOHNS: He certainly did. He really had to, sort of, walk a fence there as well. Because, with Hillary Clinton, there were a lot of issues. There were a lot of things that you could not say, just like a lot of things she could not say to him.
Going back to your Biden point, it's very interesting because, I mean, he's an attack dog. He's a guy who will go in there and throw a bunch of punches and perhaps say too much. And that's one of those things that, kind of, works when you come down to, sort of, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia.
You go to those states, there are people who just love candor. They love honesty. And this guy might just go too far, but he'll say things that are on his mind and people will say they respect that.
BLITZER: All right, guys. Thanks very much.
Let me just walk our viewers through a little bit what they can expect to be coming up here from the Democratic National Convention. We're going to, first and foremost, we're going to be back here at 8 p.m. Eastern tonight for a special report. I'll be anchoring our coverage, 8 p.m. Eastern. We'll look ahead to the whole week at the DNC convention.
And, of course, starting tomorrow, the festivities begin. We won't let you down. The best political team on television is standing by for complete coverage. This is the place you will want to be to see what's happening in Denver and then in St. Paul at the Republican convention next week.
Until then, thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer reporting.