MR. TIM RUSSERT: Our issues this Sunday: Last night Barack Obama bounces back and wins the Wyoming caucuses after Hillary Clinton's big victories Tuesday in Ohio and Texas. What now? For the Obama campaign, the former Senate majority leader, Tom Daschle of South Dakota. For the Clinton campaign, the governor of Pennsylvania, Ed Rendell. Daschle and Rendell square off as surrogates for Obama and Clinton.
Then, Obama adviser Samantha Power resigns after calling Hillary Clinton a monster. Clinton adviser Howard Wolfson accuses Barack Obama of acting like former special prosecutor Ken Starr. Will the tone of this campaign hurt the Democrats in November? With us, Dan Balz of The Washington Post, Ron Brownstein of the National Journal, John Harwood of CNBC and The New York Times, and Gwen Ifill of PBS' "Washington Week" and "The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer."
But first, last night Barack Obama received 61 percent of the vote to Hillary Clinton's 38 percent in the Wyoming caucuses. Obama wins seven delegates, Clinton five. Next stop, the Mississippi primary on Tuesday night. Joining us now for the Obama campaign, Senator Tom Daschle; for the Clinton campaign, Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell.
Gentlemen, welcome both.
FMR. SEN. TOM DASCHLE (D-SD): Thank you, Tim.
MR. RUSSERT: Let's...
GOV. ED RENDELL (D-PA): Thanks, Tim.
MR. RUSSERT: Let's go right to it. Here are the latest delegate counts according to NBC News. Obama, elected delegates, 1374; Clinton, 1232. That's an Obama lead of 142. Superdelegates: Obama, 215; Clinton, 254. Since Super Tuesday Obama has gained 45 elected delegates, Clinton has lost six. Thus far, total contests, Obama has won 27; Clinton, 14. The popular vote is tight: Obama, 13.1 million; Clinton 12.5 million. That's 49-to-47.
Here are the upcoming states: On Tuesday, Mississippi, followed by Pennsylvania, Guam, Indiana, North Carolina, West Virginia, Kentucky, Oregon, Montana, South Dakota and Puerto Rico. Those states represent 599 delegates still to be chosen.
Senator Daschle, how does this end?
FMR. SEN. DASCHLE: Well, this ends when somebody gets the most amount of delegates, Tim, and I think Barack Obama's going to do that some time in this process. We've got 12 to go--11, I think, now to go, and I believe that, that each one of these contests are going to be hard fought. We're going to have to work hard, we're going to have to be there as competitively as we were this, this last week. And, as we saw in Wyoming, I think we're going to win the majority of those delegates. We, we feel very good about what happened in Wyoming yesterday. We feel equally as good about what's going to happen in Minnesota--in Mississippi on Tuesday.
MR. RUSSERT: Should the candidate who has the most elected delegates be the nominee?
FMR. SEN. DASCHLE: Absolutely. I don't see how we could possibly do anything other than respect the will of the people who have voted in caucus and primary states all over the country. And what it would say to the world, to the country that we'd overturn the verdict of those, of those elections would be travesty for, for the party and for the country.
MR. RUSSERT: So if Hillary Clinton had more elected delegates, you, as a superdelegate, would vote for Hillary Clinton?
FMR. SEN. DASCHLE: I have said that I think the superdelegates ought to respect the vote of the elected, the pledged delegates. And I'm prepared to do that, even if Hillary is the nominee.
MR. RUSSERT: What if Hillary Clinton wins the popular vote, cumulative popular vote?
FMR. SEN. DASCHLE: Well, again, I think it's the delegates at the convention, they're going to be the ones who are going to be making the rules for the convention. They're going to be deciding, ultimately, who the candidates are going to be. It really ought to be the, the pledged delegates, the committed delegates, the people who are there who were elected to take that, that position. We want to--I'm from a smaller state. Obviously, I've benefitted over the years from having equal representation in the Senate. I think delegates really are the ones who ought to set the criteria and make, ultimately, the, the final judgment as to who the nominee's going to be.
MR. RUSSERT: And if the Clinton campaign says, "Hold on a second, Senator. We won California and New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Texas. We're going to win Pennsylvania. We can win those big states, the states that you need to win in a November election. We would be, Clinton, the stronger nominee."
FMR. SEN. DASCHLE: Well, I, you know, when--a poll was just taken, Tim, that showed Barack winning far more states than Hillary. There is no question--you ask any elected official, virtually any elected official west of the Mississippi and they say, without equivocation, "We want Barack Obama at the top of the ticket." They'll say that privately. So there is no question that, that Barack can win nationwide. We're going to have a 50-state strategy, we're going to be effective in states and bring people into the process, unlike we've seen in--at any time in history. And so we're very excited, very confident, very comfortable with the, with the knowledge that we're going to win big states, small states. It doesn't matter who's at the top of the ticket, I think the Democrat's going to be in a very commanding position in New York and California, and I think we can even put Texas in play this year.
MR. RUSSERT: Governor Rendell, if, in fact, Barack Obama goes to the convention in Colorado in August with the most elected delegates, having won more contests and a higher popular vote, the cumulative vote, could he be denied the nomination?
GOV. RENDELL: Well, sure, Tim, because, number one, Hillary Clinton has won states with about 260 electoral votes. Barack Obama has won states with about 190. And we decide the presidency not by a popular vote, we decide it by the electoral vote. And the traditional role of the superdelegates is to determine who's going to be our strongest candidate. Tim, you and I have been doing this for a long time, as Tom has, and we know the big four in any presidential election recently are Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida and Michigan. And in all four of those states--Pennsylvania hasn't voted yet, but I assume we're going to do real well--Hillary Clinton will have taken those states, if it--she takes Pennsylvania, and will have taken them by significant majorities. She's clearly the strongest candidate in the states that Democrats must win to have a chance. Look, it's great that Barack Obama is doing wonderfully well in Wyoming and Utah and, and places like that, but there's no chance we're going to carry those states. Whether he gets 44 percent as opposed to 39 percent doesn't matter, but we're not going to carry those states. We do have a chance to carry the big four. We've got to in three of the big four. Hillary Clinton's the strongest candidate to do that. That's been proven by the voters in the--those states and hopefully by Pennsylvania as well.
MR. RUSSERT: But, Governor, you're counting Florida when, in fact, the candidates did not campaign in Florida. So you--are you suggesting Hillary Clinton won?
GOV. RENDELL: Oh, there's no question. In an even playing field, nobody campaigned, 1.7 million Floridians voted, and she won by 17 percent. But I have a suggestion, if you don't like that, Tim, or if Tom doesn't like that, let's revote in Michigan and Florida. Let's end all the suspense. If our campaign is wrong and we are not going to be the strongest in those states, let the voters choose it. And Tom always talks about--the Obama folks talk about undemocratic. How can the Democratic Party go to Denver and deny the people of Michigan and Florida, two crucial states, a voice in this, in this nominating process? Makes no sense at all. Let's revote, and let's see how we do.
MR. RUSSERT: But in Michigan, you'll acknowledge that you have said repeatedly that the Clinton campaign cannot make the statement that they won Michigan.
GOV. RENDELL: Right. Which is why I'm calling for a revote.
MR. RUSSERT: OK.
GOV. RENDELL: I'm calling for a revote. But, Tim, you run against uncommitted, that's the toughest election to win. I think Tom would agree. I'd rather run against an opponent anytime than against uncommitted, and Hillary Clinton got 55 percent of the vote against uncommitted. But I agree, I think we should revote. What's wrong with revoting? Why is the Obama camp so silent on that issue?
MR. RUSSERT: What--who would pay for that, Governor, for the primaries or caucuses in Michigan or Florida?
GOV. RENDELL: Governor Corzine and I sent a letter to The Washington Post, and we said, not knowing what James Carville was going to say, we said that we would help raise the approximately $15 million which would be half of the $30 million it would take to run those two contests. And given all the money that the Obama campaign and the Clinton campaign are spending, I think they can dig in, and their supporters can dig in, to their pockets and help the states of Michigan and Florida have a revote.
MR. RUSSERT: Would you accept the caucus in Michigan?
GOV. RENDELL: No. Caucuses are undemocratic. That's another thing. We talk about the superdelegates being undemocratic. If you're a caucus, older people can't vote, older people who vote by absentee ballot. There's no absentee ballots in a caucus. Tim, if you're a shift worker and a lot of our workers, because they're low-income workers, are shift workers, you can't vote in a caucus. So we want primaries. That's the way we elect presidents. We don't have caucuses to elect presidents in the fall. Let's have a primary. Let's decide this. Let's hear from the Obama campaign about a revote in Florida and Michigan.
MR. RUSSERT: So the Iowa caucus, the Nevada caucus were undemocratic.
GOV. RENDELL: Undemocratic compared to primaries, yes.
MR. RUSSERT: Senator...
GOV. RENDELL: Absolutely.
MR. RUSSERT: Senator...
GOV. RENDELL: Tim, do you believe, do you believe older people should have the right to vote? They can't in a caucus because they can't get out of the house. So you're disenfranchising some of the most important voters in the fall election. How about that shift worker who works 4 to 12? He can't vote. He might really want to vote, but he can't.
MR. RUSSERT: Senator Daschle, a proposal from the Clinton campaign to have new primaries in Florida, in Michigan, paid for by private donors.
FMR. SEN. DASCHLE: Well, Tim, first of all I think it'll come as a real shock to Iowa and to Nevada and to many other states that they don't have a democratic process. I think that it's very democratic, and we saw yesterday in Wyoming we had a lot of seniors and older people to participate. People from all walks. They were participating in unprecedented numbers, so I, I don't concede that point at all. But let me just say...
GOV. RENDELL: What about shift workers, Tom? What about shift workers and people who can't get out of their homes?
FMR. SEN. DASCHLE: Shift workers, too, Ed. Absolutely.
GOV. RENDELL: What about people who can't get out of their homes?
FMR. SEN. DASCHLE: No, I think--I think everybody--we'll accommodate. We'll accommodate them.
GOV. RENDELL: You can't. There's no absentee ballots in caucuses.
FMR. SEN. DASCHLE: Well, listen, let me--there are a lot of issues with primaries as well that you'd have to address. But, but the bottom line is, you got to play by the rules. We all agreed to the rules earlier in this campaign, Tim, and one campaign now has broken those rules, has decided not to abide by them; and our campaign has chosen to do that, to, to abide by the rules and to, and to work something out. We recognize that those are two very important states. We want to see this resolved. We want the parties to work with the states to come up with a resolution. We'll be competitive, whatever it is. Whatever fair approach that we can employ, we'll forward, we'll take it, we'll do it. But it has to be fair, and it has to be worked out in concert with the parties and, and abide as much as possible with the rules that everybody agreed to six months ago.
MR. RUSSERT: So you would be open to primaries in Michigan and Florida?
FMR. SEN. DASCHLE: Oh, of course. Absolutely. We would be.
MR. RUSSERT: Paid for by private donors.
FMR. SEN. DASCHLE: Absolutely.
MR. RUSSERT: Scheduled in June?
GOV. RENDELL: Tim, can I say one thing?
FMR. SEN. DASCHLE: Well...
MR. RUSSERT: Just one second, Governor.
GOV. RENDELL: The Clinton campaign, Clinton campaign did not break the rules. And superdelegates were in the rules, and they knew the rules going in, that superdelegates could vote for anybody they wanted.
FMR. SEN. DASCHLE: Well, we're claiming victories now that the rules clearly implied were not going to be part of this process. You know, we both said we weren't going to compete, and now the Clinton campaign is saying, "Well, we won." Well, how can you win if you weren't competitive? You didn't--you said you weren't going to participate, and now we've changed the rules to say that...
GOV. RENDELL: We can resolve this, Tom.
FMR. SEN. DASCHLE: ...that we're participating, that we're going to--but anyway, it, it's squabbling that is, is harmful, I think, to both sides.
GOV. RENDELL: Let them vote. Let Florida and Michigan vote.
FMR. SEN. DASCHLE: Absolutely. We don't have any problem with that.
MR. RUSSERT: And, and, Governor, at the end of all those votes, if Barack Obama still had more elected delegates, would you then agree that he deserves the nomination?
GOV. RENDELL: Not if Hillary Clinton wins Texas, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Florida back to back to back to back to back.
MR. RUSSERT: What happens, then--what do you, as governor of Philadelphia, governor of Pennsylvania...
GOV. RENDELL: You're getting me in big trouble, Tim.
MR. RUSSERT: Sorry, governor of Pennsylvania, say to African-Americans in your state, in Philadelphia, in Pittsburgh, throughout the state and throughout the country, and to young people and to others saying, "You won most delegates, you won most contests, but the superdelegates have decided that we're going to go in a different direction." How do you make that case?
GOV. RENDELL: Well, number one, as Tom said, the, the Obama campaign wants to play by the rules. Those were the rules going in. That's number one. If we want to change them perspectively, change them. But those were the rules. Number two, superdelegates have always had the responsibility for fielding the strongest candidate, and I think everyone--African-Americans, young people, old people--everyone knows that we need a change in Washington, D.C. And I don't care if it's Senator Obama or Senator Clinton, we need a change. And we've got to get the strongest candidate. And if she wins Ohio, Texas, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Florida on top of all the other big states she won, if she wins the key states that are going to decide the election, let's go with our strongest hand because the issues are too important to risk losing.
MR. RUSSERT: Senator Daschle, that's a strong argument.
FMR. SEN. DASCHLE: It, it's, it's an argument. I wouldn't concede it's very strong, Tim. First of all, to say to the rest of the country they don't matter is not a strong argument. To say to the rest of the country that we're going to have an election, but if we differ with the ultimate result, we're going to--that that doesn't matter, you know, I don't see how anybody could make that case in a compelling way. You know, Barack Obama has shown he can win in every part of the country. We're turning out vote unlike anything we've ever seen before. We're winning big states, small states; we're winning across ethnic boundaries and lines. We have shown in a very compelling way--there's a recent poll that I said just came out that showed that Barack is winning far more states than Hillary Clinton is, so there's no question in my mind that the strongest candidate is the candidate who wins the most elections. Barack Obama has won 29 contests. Hillary Clinton has won 13 contests. That's the bottom line. There is no, no if, ands or buts about it. So you can say, "Well, you can win Texas and Ohio"--and, by the way, there's a very narrow margin, we may actually win more delegates in Texas than Hillary did at the end of the day. The, the bottom line, she's a good candidate; Barack's a good candidate. Barack's a candidate who can draw independents, Republicans and Democrats, and he will do it all over the country.
MR. RUSSERT: Governor Rendell, I want to talk to you about some comments made by Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton about the vice presidency. Yesterday in Mississippi, Bill Clinton said that if Hillary Clinton was the nominee, she would certainly consider Barack Obama. In fact, they would be "almost unstoppable" together. Hillary Clinton herself on Friday was talking about this also in Mississippi. Let's listen.
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY): I've had people say, "I wish I could vote for both of you." Well, that might be possible some day.
MR. RUSSERT: Would--do you think that Barack Obama would be acceptable as vice president?
GOV. RENDELL: Acceptable? I think it would be a dream to Democrats all over this country. Personally, for me, it would be a great ticket. I mean, I'm going to fight hard for Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama, whoever the candidate is. But put them together and I think it would give America a rare opportunity to experience something just incredibly wonderful.
MR. RUSSERT: So, if you believe he's acceptable as vice president, one heartbeat away from the presidency, you believe that Barack Obama is qualified to be commander in chief.
GOV. RENDELL: I think he's qualified. I don't think he's as good a potential commander in chief right now as Hillary Clinton is. But I certainly think he's qualified. And I will work my heart out for him if he's our nominee, just as I know Tom will work his heart out for Senator Clinton if she's our nominee.
MR. RUSSERT: It--that seems to be in conflict with some things that you have said and what Hillary Clinton has said. On Wednesday you sent out a statement from the Clinton campaign that says, "We want a president who's ready, not one we hope will one day be ready," suggesting Barack Obama is not ready. Hillary Clinton said this on Monday. Let's listen.
SEN. CLINTON: I think that I have a lifetime of experience that I will bring to the White House. I know Senator McCain has a lifetime of experience that he will bring to the White House. And Senator Obama has a speech he gave in 2002.
MR. RUSSERT: And she went on to offer these observations about a threshold for commander in chief. Let's listen.
SEN. CLINTON: I think it's imperative that each of us be able to demonstrate we can cross the commander in chief threshold, and I believe that I've done that. Certainly Senator McCain has done that. And, and you'll have to ask Senator Obama with respect to his candidacy.
MR. RUSSERT: So, Governor Rendell, if Barack Obama's qualified to be vice president, he has crossed the commander in chief threshold. Correct?
GOV. RENDELL: Well, I, I think he's ready. He's not nearly as ready as Hillary Clinton is, there's no question about that. But, look, make no mistake about it, he's a talented, dynamic politician and, and a, and a good senator, and I think he would make a fine president. Again, is he as experienced and as ready as Hillary Clinton? Nobody is. Tim, I've been talking to Democratic candidates since 1980, and Hillary Clinton is the best-prepared candidate I've ever talked to. Far better prepared than Bill Clinton was in 1992.
MR. RUSSERT: But if, in fact, there's a possibility Obama may be the Democratic nominee, would it be better, in the interest of the Democratic Party, that the Clintons not suggest that he hasn't passed the threshold to be commander in chief?
GOV. RENDELL: Well, sure. Look, there, there's rhetoric in a campaign on all, on all sides, and I, I think the, the issue should be framed as ready compared to Hillary Clinton. And, and that's the way I would frame the issue going forward. To me, there's no contest. I don't think--it's not Barack Obama's fault. I think almost any of the other candidates would have fallen into the same category, ready but not as ready as Hillary Clinton.
MR. RUSSERT: Senator Daschle, would Senator Obama be willing to be vice president?
FMR. SEN. DASCHLE: Well, Tim, it's really a rare occurrence, maybe the first time in history, that the person who's running number two would offer the person who's running number one the number two position. What Barack has said is that's way premature. He doesn't have any interest in being vice president. He's going to be our presidential nominee.
Look, Hillary Clinton was a great first lady. I worked with her. I know what a good first lady she was. But it would be hard for me to draw some degree of, of, of connection between being a first lady and having experience to be the commander in chief. She's served in the Senate, she's been on the Armed Services Committee, and I give her credit for that. But in terms of numbers of years of elected office, the number of years served, Barack Obama has more years served than Hillary Clinton. So it's a, it's a specious argument. The fact is, both of them are qualified. They're good candidates. They both would make great leaders. I do believe that Barack offers a lot more in the capacity of leadership. But I don't think anyone can look at her experience as first lady and say for some reason that qualifies her to run for president of the United States.
MR. RUSSERT: Do you believe discussions that Obama has not crossed the threshold to be commander in chief by the Clintons is potentially hurtful to Obama in a general election?
FMR. SEN. DASCHLE: I do. I think it's very, very troubling that, that they would, would make assertions that, in my view, are, are going to come back in, in some way. And I think when you look at what Barack has been able to show with regard to his judgment, with regard to his, his, his extraordinary ability to, to, to bring more people into, into government and to, and to, and to talk with the kind of compelling message that he has, that, to me, is, is, is what's going to make him the kind of candidate that he'll be in November. I think...
MR. RUSSERT: Would, would Barack Obama consider Hillary Clinton for vice president?
FMR. SEN. DASCHLE: I'm sure she would. I--he's said on more than one occasion that, that Barack Obama has, has a lot of ideas about who ought to be vice president, and she's--she'd certainly fit as well.
MR. RUSSERT: But if he said it's time to turn the page and not send the same people back to Washington, how could he possibly do that?
FMR. SEN. DASCHLE: Well, I think that there are a lot of ways to turn the page, and certainly his candidacy is going to turn the page in many respects. There's no question about that. The bottom line is, he wants the strongest person, the person who can serve in the capacity of president should he not be around. She's certainly in that category, but probably a lot of others as well.
MR. RUSSERT: You have a new book out critical of what we can do about the health care crisis and, reading it, there on page 166 you say there should be mandates for health care, that people should be forced to buy health care insurance. That's Hillary Clinton's position, not Barack Obama's.
FMR. SEN. DASCHLE: Well, Tim, there are a lot of ways to get to coverage for all. Obviously you can use mandates, you can use incentives. You've got to--I think both Barack and Hillary are right. You've got to make sure that we have adequate support for those who can't afford the health insurance that they're going to need, but you also have to find ways to insure that those who can afford it take the responsibility themselves to buy it.
MR. RUSSERT: We will have a candidate by when, the convention?
FMR. SEN. DASCHLE: We'll have a candidate by the convention. Hopefully it's going to be a lot sooner than that. I believe that Barack's going to be our candidate, and I wouldn't be surprised if it happens maybe even by Memorial Day.
MR. RUSSERT: But it may go to the convention.
FMR. SEN. DASCHLE: It could go to the convention.
MR. RUSSERT: Governor Rendell, could this go to an actual convention?
GOV. RENDELL: Yeah, I think so, Tim. I don't think either Senator Obama or Senator Clinton can win enough pledge delegates to get over the necessary threshold.
MR. RUSSERT: We will see you both in Denver in August.
GOV. RENDELL: Thank you.
MR. RUSSERT: What a race. Tom Daschle, Ed Rendell, thanks very much.
Coming next, it looks like Clinton vs. Obama could go on and on and on. What happens to those disputed delegates from Michigan and Florida? Will there be new primaries? And some of the controversial statements made in the campaign. Dan Balz, Ron Brownstein, John Harwood, Gwen Ifill--our political roundtable puts it all into perspective coming up only on MEET THE PRESS.
MR. RUSSERT: Inside the race for the White House with our political roundtable after this station break.
MR. RUSSERT: And we're back.
Welcome. What a race. Here's the latest poll. These are Newsweek numbers out now. Amongst Democrats, Obama, 45; Clinton, 44. How do they fare against McCain? Pretty similar. Obama, 46; McCain, 45. Clinton, 48; McCain, 46. All within the margin of error.
Dan Balz, looking at those numbers, listening to Governor Rendell, Senator Daschle, first, will we have new primaries in Michigan and Florida?
MR. DAN BALZ: I think that's almost inevitable at this point, Tim. I think both sides have resigned themselves to the fact this is going to happen. Certainly Senator Clinton wants it to happen, and I think the Obama campaign has realized that there's no other way to do it. I think party leaders believe that's the best way to do it. Obviously, there are a lot of questions about the mechanics. How do you do it? When do you do it? Who pays for it? But I think people have come to the conclusion that these states have got to be heard from.
MR. RUSSERT: And it sounds like, from Governor, Governor Rendell, rich donors will be funding these primaries.
MR. BALZ: Well, it's interesting. Senator Nelson from Florida called Howard Dean, the chairman of the Democratic Party last week, to talk about what to do, and Governor Dean reminded him that the state parties are still able to raise soft money, these big unregulated contributions, which means wealthy people can give enormous amounts of money to try to fund these. Obviously the campaigns have a tremendous amount of money. They could put something up on their Internet sites and probably within a couple days raise a sufficient amount of money. So I'm not sure that the money's going to be a big obstacle.
MR. JOHN HARWOOD: And I think, Tim, the leverage that the Obama campaign may be overprocessed. You know, the Obama campaign much prefers caucuses to primaries. They dominate that forum. They're not the ones who need this. Hillary Clinton is the one who needs this. Barack Obama would love to run out the clock with his lead in pledged delegates, which so far Clinton hasn't been able to dent, and they may be able to hang tough for a more favorable, procedural venue.
MR. RUSSERT: Corporate sponsors?
MR. RON BROWNSTEIN: Yeah. Right.
MR. RUSSERT: Disneyland presents the Florida primary.
MR. BROWNSTEIN: Well, look, I think in the, in the--publicly, neither one wants to stand in the way. I think privately, the Obama campaign is much less enthusiastic, for obvious reasons, about the idea of revoting. And I, I think kind of a nightmare scenario here for Democrats is, you can imagine this going on for another three months and the fundamental situation not being very different at the end of that than it is today, which is that, when you look at all the polling, when you look at the results, we pretty much have a tie here. I mean, we have as close to a tie as you can get. And it's not only in the sense of the absolute total numbers, but in the reality that they have divided the party almost exactly in half with durable and distinct constituencies that recreate themselves from state to state. I said the other day, these last 11 states, you could almost run a computer simulation based on their underlying demographics and you'd probably have a pretty good idea who's going to win unless something breaks. Now, maybe something will break in May. But if it doesn't, Democrats could spend, I don't know, $100 million, $120 million, candidates beat each other up for three more months, and you end up in the same position you are today, with them having to make a very difficult choice between two candidates who've split the party almost exactly in half.
MR. RUSSERT: When...
MR. HARWOOD: With a computer simulation, you could do Michigan and Florida for free.
MR. BROWNSTEIN: You could do a computer simulation, wouldn't cost you anything.
MR. RUSSERT: In fact, the Obama campaign has suggested, "Let's just split the delegates 50/50 and call it a day and save the money." But the Clinton people, they don't think...
MS. GWEN IFILL: Oh, no. I don't think so.
MR. RUSSERT: Not going to be.
Gwen Ifill, this--the whole discussion of, if in fact Ron's right, and when you look at these races, Pennsylvania favors Clinton, but then a few weeks later you have, the same day, North Carolina, Indiana, which together have more delegates than Pennsylvania.
MS. IFILL: Yeah.
MR. RUSSERT: They opt for Obama. And you go back and forth. Obama finishes with more elected delegates, having won more contests and, say for argument's sake, more popular votes cumulative. Governor Rendell said you could still deny him the nomination by saying Hillary Clinton is a stronger general election candidate.
MS. IFILL: We got an e-mail from a viewer at "Washington Week," and all it said was, the subject line was Hillary vs. Obama, and the, and the body of it was: rock, paper, scissors. That's, that's all he said. I mean, what we, what we have here, when you have these deadlock races, it's something that's being run on, on the margins. So the margins are important. It seems sometimes like they get a little caught up in this back and forth that we all have to pay such close attention to during the week. But if you assume, as Ron says, that people are going to vote the way they're going to vote and that neither can poach on each other's territory very much--they, they know it, they ought to, and there ought to be a way to do it, but they can't do it. That means you have to fight around defining each other. So, for the Clinton people, it's defining him as someone you can't trust. He's not who he says he is. He is not who he says he is in Iraq. He's not who he says he is on NAFTA, which worked. He is not who he says he is on any of these things. And for the Obama people to say she is not who she says she is and to try to somehow broaden his base among lower-income voters, which she has not done so far, by emphasizing his roots as a Chicago organizer, that sort of thing. The problem with that, is, you know, you own--you, you, you know, you win, what? Eight, seven delegates in Wyoming. That's not bad. It raises the delegates she won last week, but it's not enough. You've got to keep fighting for all of those and, as quietly as it's kept, he needs the superdelegates as badly as she does.
MR. BROWNSTEIN: And, you know, what makes this even more complicated, if, if you assume the superdelegates, in the end, are going to make a kind of self-interested decision about who would be the best candidate in the fall for the party and for themselves, that is really not clear either. I mean, when you look at the polling of Clinton vs. McCain and Obama vs. McCain, Obama generally runs a little bit better right now, but that's static. We don't know how it'll hold up in a general election. And what makes it even more complicated is they have very different coalitions. I mean, there's evidence in the early polling that their strengths and weaknesses in the primaries project forward. So Obama gets more defection from Republicans, he does better among independents than Clinton, but he also in the early polling suffers more defection of himself--of his own to McCain among down-scale Democrats. And so you can't...
MS. IFILL: But he also...
MR. BROWNSTEIN: You're casting a forward bet on...
MS. IFILL: But he also does better among white voters than she does among black voters. So, turn that on himself.
MR. BROWNSTEIN: Right. So--right. It's all, it's all--you're making a bet of which candidate can better cure the problems they face in the spring by the time they get to the fall.
MR. HARWOOD: But here's the other thing we can't forget. If you look at House and Senate races, battleground House and Senate races, by and large, the people involved in those races think Obama at this point would be stronger at the top of the ticket because Hillary Clinton would--hostility to Hillary Clinton would mobilize Republicans. So that counts. I also think on Gwen's point about the margins, the size of the margins matters. And a Clinton campaign advisor told me it's important for us to get the pledge delegate lead by Obama down below 100. That's--they, they think that's a psychological shift that would be important.
MR. RUSSERT: It is interesting in the open seat, Dennis Hastert's Congressional seat in Illinois yesterday, the Democrat won, it's a seat 2-to-1 Republican. The Obama people are saying Obama spent a lot of time campaigning for this, a new congressman, that they used a television ad. And yet, when I said, "Did you really win the seat?" The Obama campaign said, "We just won another superdelegate." So it's all local, Dan.
MR. BALZ: All politics is local.
MR. RUSSERT: Dan Balz, this conversation I had with Governor Rendell into Gwen's point, if the Clinton campaign is trying to put a question mark over Barack Obama's head--"Is he ready?"--and yet still promote him as vice president, how do you do that?
MR. BALZ: Well, it's a very tricky thing, as, as Governor Rendell showed when you asked him those questions. It's a little difficult to make the argument that he's not ready and then say he ought to be vice president if she's the nominee. But, look, it's, it's clear that in Texas and Ohio, those arguments work. That red phone ad, that 3 a.m. phone ad, certainly had an impact in Texas. It raised questions about Senator Obama. It does go to a basic question that people have had about him from the beginning of the race, "How ready is he to step in as president?" He has shown himself in this campaign to be a very good candidate, and that is one measure that people take in terms of deciding is somebody tough enough, strong enough, resilient enough, smart enough to be able to handle the pressures of the presidency? But it's certainly an argument that she will make. What--as Gwen said, what the Obama campaign is going to try to do is raise doubts about just how qualified is she. What is her foreign policy experience? This is a line that's coming out of the Obama campaign very consistently in the last few days. Look...
MS. IFILL: And how transparent is she really?
MR. BALZ: That's right.
MR. RUSSERT: And to that, here's the centerpiece of the discussion the last couple of days. First was this headline in The Scotsman newspaper, "Hillary's a Monster." And here was the quote, "She's a monster, too--that's off the record--she is stooping to anything. The amount of deceit she has put forward is really unattractive." That was Samantha Power, chief foreign policy adviser to Barack Obama. She resigned.
Then we had the exchange over Hillary Clinton's tax returns. This was Senator Obama on his campaign airplane. Let's watch.
(Videotape, February 7, 2008)
SEN. OBAMA: I'll just say that I will--I've released my tax returns. That's been a policy I've maintained consistently. I think the American people deserve to know, you know, where you get your income from.
MR. RUSSERT: To that request from that Obama campaign was this response from the Clinton campaign.
(Audiotape, March 6, 2008)
MR. HOWARD WOLFSON: I, for one, do not believe that imitating Ken Starr is the way to win a Democratic primary election for president.
MR. RUSSERT: John.
MR. HARWOOD: Well, look. On Samantha Power, that reflects the genuine feelings of a lot of the Obama team. They think that Hillary Clinton has played below the belt. They were on the verge of winning; it was taken away from them. They're very frustrated by that.
With regard to Howard, you know, that strong language is part of their attempt to put pressure on Obama, to try to draw the contrast as sharply as they can and, and say that these ethics offensives from the Barack Obama team are illegitimate. Strong words in a campaign. Unfortunate for Samantha Power that she's forced out of the campaign for something that is--was hyperbolic and...
MR. RUSSERT: But to raise Ken Starr, probably helpful in a Democratic primary because he was not particularly popular.
MR. HARWOOD: Sure.
MR. RUSSERT: But in a general election...
MS. IFILL: Except, except for, except for a small problem that a lot of these new voters don't really have the scars over--the healed-over scabs over Ken Starr that maybe some people who lived through a lot of this did.
MR. BROWNSTEIN: And they're not voting for Clinton, anyway.
MS. IFILL: And they're not--that's...
MR. BROWNSTEIN: They--I mean...
MS. IFILL: Well, no, that's not true, actually. A lot of new voters are voting...
MR. BROWNSTEIN: Well, but there, there are. But the, the...
MS. IFILL: But, but, but--let me just finish the thought. I, I think that one of the things that's interesting that's happening with this is that--the, the Samantha Power thing, the monster thing was a, a one-day dustup. She, she did lose the gig. But the truth is, what they were--what the Clinton people really seized on was this--something else she said to the BBC, which is the idea that maybe he wouldn't withdraw troops as he has promised. And they were able to leap on that and say that's part of a theme, he isn't what you think he is.
MR. RUSSERT: Let, let's, let's go to that graphic, we have it. Samantha Power, her comments on Iraq. Then I want to show you something else, someone else who briefed Senator Clinton said. But first, here's Samantha Power on Iraq: "You can't make a commitment in March of 2008 about what circumstances are going to be like in January 2009. [Obama] will of course not rely upon some plan that he's crafted as a presidential candidate or as a U.S. senator. He'll rely upon a plan--an operational plan--that he pulls together, in consultation with people who are on the ground, to whom he doesn't have daily access now."
And the Obama people responded by talking about this article in The New York Sun about Jack Keane, who was advising Hillary--not--excuse me, not advising, briefing Hillary Clinton. "A retired four-star general, Jack Keane, said when he briefed Mrs. Clinton in late 2006 and January 2007 on the counteroffensive strategy known as the surge, she `generally supported the surge strategy in the sense she wanted it to succeed but she was skeptical about its chances. I have no doubts whatsoever that if she were president in January '09 she would not act irresponsibly and issue orders to conduct an immediate withdrawal from Iraq, regardless of the consequences, and squander the gains that have been made.'"
So both campaigns are pointing to the other, saying, "They're not really serious about an immediate withdrawal."
MS. IFILL: It, it's true. And, and, and the Obama campaign, they admit that they have to stop making so many unforced errors, which is also true. But, but I--what they--I find it interesting when both candidates turn this debate back to Iraq, as--are they paying attention to the economy and the fact that 63,000 jobs were lost on Friday? And the polls would show that is number one and two, health care and the economy. It's understandable why the Obama people think there is some gain in reminding people that she voted for the war, but I'm beginning to wonder that, absent any new bad news out of Iraq, that is something that is useful.
MR. BALZ: Yeah. But I think that--I mean, I think certainly the Clinton campaign is very, very focused on the economy. It, it's interesting that the, the 3 a.m. telephone ad ran only in Texas.
MS. IFILL: Yeah.
MR. BALZ: They decided that the economy was such a dominant issue in, in Ohio...
MR. HARWOOD: Yes.
MR. BALZ: ...they did not want to bring that issue directly in, they didn't want to spend money in, in Ohio.
MR. BROWNSTEIN: And even the Iraq dustup with, with Obama, they tried to tie it to the NAFTA question from last week about whether he was sending a different signal to Canada privately than he--what he was saying publicly, and all sort of adding up to, you know, do you really know who he is? Can you really--can you really trust him to keep his commitments? Samantha Power, brilliant journalist, fell victim to Michael Kinsley's law of gaffes. You know, in Washington a gaffe is saying what you really believe. And, and, and this is, as, as, you know, as I was saying before, I mean, this is kind of a nightmare scenario for Democrats, which is that it kind of goes in this direction for three months. I tend to think it'll calm down. The history of this campaign is it ratchets up and then they back off.
MS. IFILL: Mm-hmm.
MR. BROWNSTEIN: Last week you were in a position where Hillary Clinton literally had her back against the wall. I mean, I was down in San Antonio at the Alamo, you know. I mean, it was--that's the way it felt. And Obama, of course, had the chance to end the campaign. Now that opportunity isn't there for a while, and you would think the party leaders would be sending the message informally, "Tone this down. You're going--this is going to go on for a while."
MR. RUSSERT: I think...
MR. HARWOOD: Well, they are sending that message. Nancy Pelosi met with representatives of the Clinton campaign, chided them this week for that 3 a.m. ad. She didn't like that at all. And the Clinton people said, "We don't think he's been vetted. We're going to keep doing it."
But I think one reason it may tamp down somewhat is that in the Iraq dustup that we just talked about and NAFTA, they're both cases of fights that look big over something where they essentially have the same position.
MR. RUSSERT: The issue of transparency, Senator Clinton had first said that she would not release her tax returns until she became the nominee. Now she has pledged to release them on April 15th, one week before the Pennsylvania primary.
MR. BROWNSTEIN: Yes.
MR. RUSSERT: Yesterday Bill Bradley, former presidential candidate, supporter of Barack Obama, went on PBS and made some very strong charges about Bill Clinton and his finances. Let's listen.
FMR. SEN. BILL BRADLEY: I think Barack Obama has a much stronger chance of beating John McCain in the general election. I think Hillary is flawed in many ways, and particularly if you look at her husband's unwillingness to release the names of the people who contributed to his presidential library. And the reason that's important, are there favors attached to $500,000 or a million dollar contributions. And what do I mean by favors? I mean pardons that are granted, investigations that are squelched, contracts that are awarded, regulations that are delayed. These are important questions, and the people deserve to know, and we deserve, as Democrats, to know before a nominee is selected because we don't want things to explode in a general election against John McCain.
MR. RUSSERT: That was on Wednesday. On Friday, this article in USA Today: "Archivists block release of Clinton papers. Federal archivists at the Clinton Presidential Library are blocking the release of hundreds of pages of White House papers on pardons that the former president approved, including clemency for fugitive commodities trader Marc Rich.
"The archivists' decision, based on guidance provided by Bill Clinton that restricts the disclosure of advice he received from aides, prevents public scrutiny of documents that would shed light on how he decided which pardons to approve from hundreds of requests."
Dan Balz, you have the tax returns, you have the money given to the Clinton foundation, and you have the presidential papers. Are those three together going to be an issue the Obama campaign is going to use against Hillary Clinton effectively?
MR. BALZ: They will certainly use it. We'll see how effective they're able to, to make it. They--people have been going after her on that, and we remember from the Philadelphia debate that there were--debate about that night, should she release them, why isn't she releasing them. They're certainly going to go after all of those. I don't know in terms of voting issues how much these are important to people. You know, as Gwen said, you know, when you lose 63,000 jobs in a month, people have other concerns than about the release of papers.
MS. IFILL: Mm-hmm.
MR. BALZ: But nonetheless, it is a way for Obama to remind people of the bad aspects of the Clinton administrations, that he can make the argument, "I will change this country. I will turn the page." It is, it is core to part of his argument.
MR. BROWNSTEIN: Well...
MR. HARWOOD: And they're also trying to use it to rebut the idea that she's been vetted and he hasn't. Their point is that, yes, she may have been--there may have been news coverage of some of these things in the past, but not the way we're going to see it when Republicans put the pressure on in the fall.
MR. BROWNSTEIN: Is John McCain having a good morning here or what?
MR. HARWOOD: Yeah.
MR. BROWNSTEIN: I mean, somewhere sitting back--I mean, look, I mean, I, I agree with Dan. I mean, you know, if you look especially at who Hillary Clinton's voters are, I mean, that, that to me is the fundamental issue here, whether anything we're talking about is going to significantly dislodge these patterns that we have seen in the Democratic electorate, and whether anything these candidates are capable of doing that they haven't done in the year they've been running against each other, will significantly move blocks that are pretty solidly aligned. And so that leaves you at the end with, I think that, in the end, we're not going to have a clear electoral resolution of this conflict. Ultimately, there will have to be a political resolution between two candidates who have essentially divided the party almost exactly in half and either the campaigns or the campaigns and some combination of party elders are going to have to figure out hot to make this, the situation which we have two very compelling, talented candidates--each of them, by the way, have now won more votes in the primary than any Democratic nominee in history, any Democratic nominee in history. Can they find a way to live together? Now, whether that's being on the same ticket or not, or it's, or it's influence in the naming of the administration or it's something. But it's hard for me to see how this ends up with a clear, decisive, unequivocal electoral resolution. Everybody says, "Yeah, that's the winner, and that's the, that's the unequivocal choice."
MS. IFILL: But, but keep in mind, the reason why these little dustups keep happening is because each candidate's trying to learn from their last mistake. Barack Obama came back on the plane at one point in the last couple weeks, I think it was right--seems like it was last couple of weeks, last couple of days, and said, "I'm surprised you guys bit at that stuff." He was talking to the reporters. He didn't expect that the things that he was shrugging off were really going to hurt him, and they did. So what is he doing? He's decided, "Ah, they can build up some dust about issues which people say they don't care about." Well, he's going to do the same thing. And at the very least--once again in this margin idea--that's all he can do. He can't afford to let anything pass. Now, I don't know if it's going to change the basic structure, as you say, but, but it'll change the politics of it.
MR. BROWNSTEIN: It's, it's, it's interesting to think of these 11 states, how many of the 11 are really at the margin, where it, where a small change would move them from, you know, you have, you have Indiana, you have Oregon and North Carolina. Other than that, most of them seem to be pretty tilted toward one or the other based on what we've seen so far.
MR. RUSSERT: Both campaigns are very open about working the referees, we being the referees, trying to get the advantage.
John, when you look at these 11 states that are remaining, there was a document that Bloomberg News got from the Obama campaign inadvertently after Super Tuesday where they predicted the outcome of all the races. It's uncanny how accurate it has been. They only missed Maine. They thought that was going to go to Clinton, and they won by a few points. For example, last night they predicted Wyoming 60-40 and that's exactly what it was. If you look at that document, it shows that each of the candidates wins by 300 delegates each of the remaining delegates. And so Obama is going to finish with an elected delegate lead of around 140. The superdelegates, she has a slight advantage at this point, about 40 or so. If that remains the case, Obama would need 35 percent of the undeclared superdelegates to get the nomination. Clinton would need 65 percent. That's what we're headed towards, it appears. How do you resolve that in an amicable way? And how do you resolve it without each of these candidates for the next three months presenting their portfolios, Clinton saying Obama's not ready, Obama saying Clinton's not trustworthy, and, by the way, have you seen her tax returns and all these other documents and look at Bill Clinton's income and his overseas dealings, too. And oh, by, by the way, Obama, he hasn't been fully--how does that...
MS. IFILL: Yeah, John, how?
MR. RUSSERT: Well, no, John, who emerges from it in a convention like that in August prepared to take on a Republican?
MR. HARWOOD: Well, first of all, I think if that situation obtains, if Obama has won more popular votes, more delegates, more contests, he's quite likely to be the nominee, especially when you combine that with the notion I mentioned earlier about so many House and Senate candidates wanting Obama at the top of the ticket. I talked on Friday to Mark Udall, congressman from Colorado who's running for the Senate. He said, first of all, he opposes do-overs for Michigan and Florida, he says no mulligans in a presidential primary race. But he says as soon as Puerto Rico finishes on June the 7th, that the superdelegates ought to very quickly make a decision--he'll make a decision as well--and that that will be, in effect, the last primary or caucus and that you simply cannot afford to take this all the way to the convention because in modern politics, you've got to get your team, your message, you've got to be rolling by the time of the convention, not deciding on a nominee.
MS. IFILL: I asked both campaigns what would happen if, for some reason, Hillary Clinton were to get the lead in the popular and he were to lead in the delegates. That way, there would be a--the moral high ground would somehow be cut out from under them, and they don't really have an answer to that one. You heard it today, actually.
MR. HARWOOD: Yeah.
MS. IFILL: Ed Rendell says it's the big states that decide it. Which doesn't seem like that's what the constitution had in mind, but, but then you hear Daschle say it's, it's, it's the delegates who decide it.
MR. BROWNSTEIN: And, and Rendell this week, in an interview I did with him on our National Journal radio show, he did have an intriguing suggestion. He said it is so close that whoever wins, whichever side wins, should have to offer the vice presidency to the loser and that the party should pressure the loser to take it. Now, right now, I don't think we can imagine either of these candidates taking the number two behind the other.
MS. IFILL: Why should they pressure themselves to do anything now?
MR. BROWNSTEIN: Right. But it--you know, things can change between now and then, if you're kind of stuck in this, in this trough that they're in. I think they're unlikely to get out of. And John's right. If Obama has the more popular vote and more pledged delegates, he's likely to be the nominee, but he's also likely to be the nominee in a situation in which essentially just under half the party has voted for the other candidate.
MR. BALZ: I think there's another element to this. I mean, I think your, your point about the coalitions being durable and, and difficult for one to the other to break into is accurate. But I think we're in a period now where particularly superdelegates are going to be watching these candidates very closely. We're now in such a competitive position that between now and June, the superdelegates are going to say, "Which of these candidates has held up better? Which of these candidates has performed at a higher level? Which of these candidates has really spoken to the voters we're going to need?" And if we get to a point in June where it--even if it's, you know, a hundred delegates difference, but it looks as though Senator Clinton has performed better, there might be a case.
MR. HARWOOD: Yeah.
MR. BALZ: We talked to--our reporters talked to 80 uncommitted superdelegates over the last few days. We got a couple of senses from them. One is that they're not anxious to make a decision. They want this thing resolved by others. They would prefer not to be the, the ultimate deciders. But any number of them said, "In the end, I will make my own judgment as to which is the stronger candidate."
MR. BROWNSTEIN: You, you know...
MS. IFILL: And that's what the polls say the people want.
MR. BALZ: Right.
MS. IFILL: That's the other piece of the moral argument, which I think is by a margin of 60 to 30 something, that they say they think that, that the superdelegates should follow the will of--whatever that means--the will of the people.
MR. BROWNSTEIN: And, Dan, even by the criteria that you laid out, it remains difficult because, even if the superdelegates are looking at who speaks better to the voters we need, they each speak better to different groups of voters. Hillary Clinton projecting forward to the general still looks stronger with downscale white voters, especially women. And Obama looks much stronger with upscale independents and Republicans than she does. And, you know, neither one seems--the, the strengths and weaknesses are still there even against McCain.
MR. BALZ: Yeah.
MR. HARWOOD: One potential tiebreaker, though, it's a change election, and Barack Obama more embodies change than Hillary Clinton.
MR. BROWNSTEIN: It's true.
MR. BALZ: That's true.
MR. RUSSERT: Karl Rove wrote a piece in The Wall Street Journal saying, you know, this is not good for John McCain because the Democrats, in effect, will be under the limelight and get all...
MS. IFILL: Oh, John McCain. Right. That guy. The guy who clinched the nomination this week. That's right.
MR. BROWNSTEIN: Yeah. Yeah.
MR. RUSSERT: But the Democrats are getting all the press coverage and poor, you know, John...
MS. IFILL: Yeah.
MR. RUSSERT: On the other hand, you can make a case that if Obama's the nominee, what happens to these white women over 50, making under 50,000, so dedicated to Hillary Clinton? Do they stay home or vote for John McCain? If Clinton's the nominee, what happens to young voters, African-American voters? Bill Bradley said you could lose a whole generation who thought that politics was something different. Dan Balz:
MR. BALZ: Well, I mean, it goes back to...
MR. BROWNSTEIN: Solve it, Dan.
MR. BALZ: It goes--well, it goes back to the idea that has been raised now any number of times, which is both of them on the ticket. Almost no matter who is the nominee, I think it's likely that they are going to have to offer, or at least consider, the other as the vice president.
MR. RUSSERT: But if Obama's a change agent and he puts Hillary Clinton on, he goes on the ticket with Hillary Clinton, how does he enhance his credentials for a future run as opposed to saying, "I'll go back to Illinois, run for governor of Illinois."
MS. IFILL: He'll have eight years to redefine who he is, if he did do that.
MR. HARWOOD: It might get the party out of the ditch.
MR. BROWNSTEIN: Right.
MR. HARWOOD: That's the issue.
MR. BROWNSTEIN: Right. And, and that is--look, I mean...
MR. RUSSERT: Would Hillary ever take V.P.?
MR. BROWNSTEIN: Right now, you'd have to say no. But, you know, we have a long way between now and when this ends.
MR. BALZ: Let's also not forget that in, in either case you have the first African-American and the first woman.
MR. BROWNSTEIN: Yeah. And neither...
MR. BALZ: But that is a ticket-shattering--history-shattering ticket no matter how you put it together.
MR. BROWNSTEIN: Yeah.
MR. RUSSERT: Is it a winning ticket?
MS. IFILL: The Clinton people are convinced that...
MR. BROWNSTEIN: It's a strong ticket.
MS. IFILL: The Clinton people are convinced that their, their voters are more likely to support--let me get this right--that their voters are likely to support Obama than the Obama voters are likely to come to them. So that it's weaker--that the Obama voters are not members of the party, regular members of the party anyhow, and therefore you need to split issues...
MR. BROWNSTEIN: These are candidates with voters that have...
MR. HARWOOD: But it...
MR. BROWNSTEIN: ...become complementary, though.
MR. HARWOOD: The Democratic victory in that Illinois House race last night shows the magnitude of the Democratic opportunity. The party does not want to blow it this year.
MR. RUSSERT: I wish we had another hour. To be continued. We'll be right back.
MR. RUSSERT: More of our roundtable on Take Two this afternoon on our Web site, msnbc.com. That's all for today. We'll be back next week. If it's Sunday, it is MEET THE PRESS.