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updated 5/11/2008 12:23:09 PM ET 2008-05-11T16:23:09

MR. TIM RUSSERT: Our issues this Sunday: After a landslide loss in North Carolina and a razor-thin win in Indiana, Hillary Clinton's campaign goes on. For how long and at what price to Democratic Party unity? With us, he supports Barack Obama, a former Democratic Party chairman, Chris Dodd, Democratic Senator from Connecticut. And he supports Hillary Clinton, also a former Democratic Party chairman, Terry McAuliffe, chair of the Clinton campaign.

Then, insights and analysis from Chris Cillizza of The Washington Post, Michele Norris of NPR's "All Things Considered"; and the co-authors of "Pennsylvania Avenue: Profiles In Backroom Power," John Harwood of CNBC and The New York Times and Gerry Seib of The Wall Street Journal.

But first, he ran for president himself this year but now supports Barack Obama. Senator Chris Dodd, welcome back to MEET THE PRESS.

MR. RUSSERT: Senator, let me begin by showing you the very latest delegate count: Obama, 1590; Clinton, 1426. These are pledged delegates. Among superdelegates, the NBC total is Clinton, 276.5; Obama, 274; uncommitted 244.5. Contests won so far: Obama, 31; Clinton, 17. The popular vote: 16 million for Obama, 15.3 for Clinton; advantage Obama 722,000.

Senator Dodd, looking at those numbers, is Barack Obama going to be the Democratic nominee?

SEN. DODD: Yes, he will be, Tim. I think that's, that's very clear today. And, and it's been a long two years, as you point out. I was a part of it for about a year and a half. And these candidates have done a remarkable job. I commend both of them. And while there's a lot of questions about whether or not Hillary Clinton will stay in the race over the next few weeks or so, my point I want to make to you and others is, is that I have every bit of confidence--I know Hillary Clinton well, I know her husband well. These are great Democrats, they care about the country very much, and I'm, I'm entirely confident as I speak to you this morning that we're going to be a very united party behind Barack Obama very, very quickly and to face the challenges that John McCain and the Republicans pose in the election in November.

MR. RUSSERT: Tuesday is West Virginia. Senator Clinton is favored significantly. On Wednesday, you made these comments: "You're going to be asking a bunch of people [in West Virginia] to vote against somebody who's likely to be your nominee a few weeks later? And turn around and ask the very same people a few weeks later to reverse themselves and now vote for [Obama] on Election Day?" Are you distressed by that?

SEN. DODD: I, I'll only be distressed about how the campaign is waged. I'm not distressed about the fact that Hillary Clinton's still in the race in West Virginia. But to what extent, what kind of rhetoric is used, how are we describing Barack Obama? I think we've been through a lot of this over the last number of weeks. It's now, I think the unity is really the critical question, and so how the campaign is waged is more important than whether or not it's being waged. And that's really the concern I was expressing last Wednesday. And I'm confident, again, that Hillary Clinton understands how important it is that Democrats win this election, that we get back on track again both at home and abroad, that we have a candidate that the Democrats are united behind. And I know she wants to be a part of that, ultimately.

MR. RUSSERT: But Senator Clinton's concern is that she has a broader coalition that would resonate in a November election, particularly with the states you need to win the Electoral College. The campaign manager for John McCain sent this memo out on Wednesday: "If and when Senator Barack Obama becomes the official nominee, Democratic primary voters may not form a tight coalition immediately. Data to date suggests Democratic primary voters will not blindly support Senator Obama. ... Among North Carolina Democratic primary voters interviewed in exit polls, 18 percent of the Democrats surveyed said they would vote for John McCain in a race against" "Obama. ... Among Indiana Democratic primary voters ... 18 percent" said "they'd vote for John McCain against Senator Obama. Among Pennsylvania Democratic Primary voters, 15 percent said they would vote for John McCain."

Those data, those statistics are ominous, aren't they?

SEN. DODD: Well, I find it interesting coming from the McCain campaign. Frank Rich wrote a great piece a couple of weeks ago, pointing out that now that John McCain is the presumptive nominee with really no challenge at all, there's still about 20 to 25 percent of Republicans showing up to vote for another candidate other than John McCain.

Tim, I have no doubt whatsoever that Democrats are going to rally behind Barack Obama. This is not 1968 when we were highly divided, racial tensions in the country, the anti-war movement, Democrats split over those issues. The difference between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama on substantive issues is rather narrow. I have no doubt whatsoever--no doubt whatsoever that Democrats, independents, Republicans who want as much change as Democrats and independents do, are going to rally behind the Barack Obama candidacy. And so all of this talk in the heat of a campaign about people who obviously put a lot of time, a lot of effort into these efforts on behalf of the candidate of their choice, are going to, I think, reunite, or unite again very, very quickly. I don't think we have to wait until November. I'm very confident that come the next few weeks you're going to see a very united party, including Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton, standing with Barack Obama, endorsing his campaign and pulling for him in the, in the November elections.

MR. RUSSERT: Should the entire primary season be played out through the first week of June?

SEN. DODD: It can be. I understand that. You know, having been a candidate, it's awfully difficult when you're going 180 miles an hour in on direction and you have a rough night, as Mrs. Clinton did, my colleague Senator Clinton did last Tuesday night, to expect to within 48 hours or 72 hours to reverse field, to stop everything and go in a different direction is asking way too much in my view. Give her a chance to breathe, to settle down, to recognize what's going on here. She'll make the right choice.

I know her pretty well. She loves this party, as I said, and she loves this country. And she's not about to allow another term of George Bush in the name of John McCain, who's embraced basically the Bush policies on economics, on foreign policy. The country wants a very different direction and I have every confidence that she's going to be as strong a supporter of Barack Obama as anyone would be when it comes to this November election. And her good friends. You've got my good friend Terry McAuliffe coming on after I'm here today, I know they're sitting down and talking with her. These are difficult moments for them. But I'm confident they'll make the right decision.

MR. RUSSERT: Early on in the campaign, you seemed to be concerned about Senator Obama and his qualifications. Back in August of '07 this is Chris Dodd. "Over the past several days, Senator Obama's assertions about foreign and military affairs have been, frankly, confusing and confused." And a few weeks later, "You're not going to have time in January of '09 to get ready for this job, said" "Chris Dodd ... when asked whether Obama had the background to be president." Have your concerns, fears, been set aside?

SEN. DODD: No, I thought that guy in the summer of '07 was a great candidate. Unfortunately, he's no longer a candidate, and I'm not concerned about that. I've sat on the Foreign Relations Committee with Barack Obama now for the last number of years; he was sought out by Dick Lugar, the chairman of the--former chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, to travel to Russia with him to talk about reducing the threat of nuclear weapons. This is a person who's very ready to be president. And certainly in a campaign, the rhetoric of candidates can be a little over the top. Probably in that case I was. But nonetheless, I believe he's the right candidate with the right credentials to lead our country.

MR. RUSSERT: Your colleague, Ted Kennedy, said he did not think that an Obama-Clinton ticket would happen. What's your view?

SEN. DODD: I, I think that's probably correct. I think Senator Kennedy's got a pretty good ear to the ground. These are two great candidates who fought very hard, but my sense is today that that probably won't be the ticket. I can't tell you which one it's going to be, but I doubt that's going to be the ticket.

MR. RUSSERT: Senator Chris Dodd, as always, we thank you for joining us and sharing your views.

SEN. DODD: Thank you, Tim, very much.

MR. RUSSERT: And joining us here in Washington, the chair of the Clinton campaign, former Democratic Party chairman, Terry McAuliffe.

Welcome back to MEET THE PRESS.

MR. TERRY McAULIFFE: Tim, great to be--feels good to be back.

MR. RUSSERT: You saw those numbers I had on the screen. Rahm Emanuel...

MR. McAULIFFE: Mm-hmm.

MR. RUSSERT: ...a member of Congress from Illinois, worked in the Clinton White House, said this on Friday.

MR. McAULIFFE: Sure.

MR. RUSSERT: "Just looking at the facts, he"--Barack Obama--"the presumptive nominee." Fair?

MR. McAULIFFE: First off, no one is the nominee. Everyone needs to be clear, until someone gets the magic number of the delegates, 2209, you are not the nominee of the Democratic Party. Right now, Tim, you have seen in these contests you've had 35 million people vote. If you take everyone who pushed a button for Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama, 16.6 million for Hillary Clinton, 16.7 million for Barack Obama. That is a difference of 100,000 votes out of 35 million.

MR. RUSSERT: You're counting Florida and Michigan.

Mr. McAULIFFE: Sure I am, they voted. There's no question they voted, they were certified at the county level and the state level. They voted. I'm not talking about delegates. But they voted.

MR. RUSSERT: But Obama's name wasn't on the ballot in Michigan.

MR. McAULIFFE: And that was a political decision he made to pull his name off the ballot.

MR. RUSSERT: All right.

MR. McAULIFFE: Let's be clear. He was on the ballot, he took his name off to appease Iowa and New Hampshire. It was a political decision, I'm fine with that. But they voted, two and a half million people. And the Rules and Bylaws Committee will meet on the 31st to determine their status. But just remember. Who voted? A difference of 100,000 out of 35 million.

MR. RUSSERT: Looking at the math...

MR. McAULIFFE: Sure.

MR. RUSSERT: Since Super Tuesday, Obama's gotten 104 superdelegates, Clinton's gotten 16.

MR. McAULIFFE: Yeah.

MR. RUSSERT: Since Tuesday's primary in Indiana, North Carolina, Obama's got 18 superdelegates.

MR. McAULIFFE: Mm-hmm.

MR. RUSSERT: Clinton's won 25. Don Fowler, former Democratic Party chairman...

MR. McAULIFFE: Yeah. Good friend.

MR. RUSSERT: ...passionate Hillary Clinton supporter.

MR. McAULIFFE: Mm-hmm.

MR. RUSSERT: Quote: "The trickle is going to become an avalanche of superdelegates going to Obama."

MR. McAULIFFE: Has it become an avalanche today? No. Did it become an avalanche after Tuesday, when you and others were all on the air saying it was over? No. Which should make you say something. We are now coming up to West Virginia on Tuesday. The last poll had Hillary up 43 points. She's up 40 points in Kentucky. What does it say for the candidate that you say has won the nomination that he can't win two states that Bill Clinton carried in 1992 and 1996? We lost them in 2000 and 2004. This is our point: Hillary Clinton in the general election can beat John McCain. She beats him in Florida, she beats him in Ohio, she beats him in Missouri. This is about winning the election on November 4th in helping the down-ballot races. She has won those 20 congressional districts that are key to us winning to keep the House of Representatives.

MR. RUSSERT: The Clinton campaign says it's the media. What we did is add up the delegates...

MR. McAULIFFE: Mm-hmm.

MR. RUSSERT: ...call Clinton supporters and say, "Is the math there?" Clinton supporters said "No." You heard Rahm Emanuel, an objective viewer, I think, on this.

MR. McAULIFFE: Sure.

MR. RUSSERT: John Edwards, who's been neutral on all this...

MR. McAULIFFE: Yep. Mm-hmm.

MR. RUSSERT: ...was on the "Today" show and said this:

(Videotape, Friday)

FMR. SEN. JOHN EDWARDS (D-NC): Well, I think right now Barack Obama has a better chance because it looks like he's going to be the nominee.

(End videotape)

MR. RUSSERT: About an hour later, he was on MSNBC "Morning Joe."

MR. McAULIFFE: Yeah.

MR. RUSSERT: He said this.

MR. McAULIFFE: Yeah.

(Videotape, Friday)

FMR. SEN. EDWARDS: I've watched Barack Obama come out of nowhere, which is basically what he did.

MS. MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Isn't that amazing? Yeah.

FMR. SEN. EDWARDS: And he is clearly the likely nominee at this point.

MS. BRZEZINSKI: So who you voted for is who you'll endorse?

FMR. SEN. EDWARDS: I'd say highly likely, yes.

(End videotape)

MR. McAULIFFE: Likely nominee? That's not the actual nominee. All I can tell you, Tim, is we have seven million Democrats. We have a million-one in West Virginia. We have a million-six in Kentucky. We have 2.4 million Democrats in Puerto Rico. Seven million have yet to vote. Let's let them vote. We have been in this for 17 months. We only have three weeks to go. Let the voters vote and make a decision. Let me ask you--I know it's your show--you think it's impossible for Hillary Clinton to be the nominee? Impossible?

MR. RUSSERT: Look, look, I'm going to stay with the questions.

MR. McAULIFFE: OK, but well, I'll just say it's not impossible. Did you count the Buffalo Bills out in 1993 when the Houston Oilers were beating them by 32 points in the third quarter?

MR. RUSSERT: What--but--all right, then, well, tell me the...

MR. McAULIFFE: No!

MR. RUSSERT: Tell me the path to the nomination. What percentage...

MR. McAULIFFE: Yeah.

MR. RUSSERT: ...of elected delegates would she have to get in order to win?

MR. McAULIFFE: Yeah. Here's what we have to do. By the end of this process, Tim, I believe we will be ahead in the popular vote. I believe that within the delegates it will be within 100. Out of over 4,000 delegates chosen she will have been ahead in the popular vote, more people will have voted for Hillary Clinton. Then the argument's got to be for the remaining superdelegates, who is it that can best win the general election. She's going to win West Virginia. She's going to win Kentucky. We win Florida. We win Ohio. Those are important considerations.

This race is tight. All I'm telling Democrats out there today is, let's let the next three weeks go. And I tell Democrats, they need to stand down, not tell Hillary Clinton. She has 16.6 million very passionate supporters. We want to make sure at the end of this process, Tim, we as Democrats are all together. Sometimes we like to drive that car over the cliff of the Democratic Party. This is a very fragile time.

MR. RUSSERT: But, but you will admit that she cannot overtake Barack Obama with elected delegates.

MR. McAULIFFE: Very--highly unlikely.

MR. RUSSERT: That--impossible?

MR. McAULIFFE: Nothing's impossible. Look, tomorrow--something new could happen. Nothing's impossible. You are talking to Terry McAuliffe. I don't believe anything in life is impossible.

MR. RUSSERT: But you would need an act of God or for something catastrophic to happen to the Obama campaign.

MR. McAULIFFE: Sure, something big would have to happen, I will give you that, absolutely.

MR. RUSSERT: Hillary Clinton, USA Today interview on Thursday...

MR. McAULIFFE: Yeah.

MR. RUSSERT: ...has received a lot of criticism...

MR. McAULIFFE: Mm-hmm.

MR. RUSSERT: ...and analysis.

MR. McAULIFFE: Yeah.

MR. RUSSERT: This is what Hillary Clinton said. Let's watch and listen.

(Audiotape, Thursday)

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY): There was just an AP article posted that found how Senator Obama's support among working--hardworking Americans, white Americans, is weakening again, and how the, you know, whites in both states who had not completed college were supporting me. ... I have a much broader base to build a winning coalition on.

(End audiotape)

MR. RUSSERT: Charlie Rangel, Harlem Democratic congressman...

MR. McAULIFFE: Mm-hmm. Yep.

MR. RUSSERT: ...supporter of Hillary Clinton, said this:

MR. McAULIFFE: Yeah.

MR. RUSSERT: "I can't believe Senator Clinton would say anything that dumb."

Bob Herbert, columnist for The New York Times, wrote this: "He can't win! Don't you understand? He's black! He's black!

"The Clintons have been trying to embed that gruesomely destructive message in the brains of white voters and superdelegates for the longest time. It's a grotesque insult to African Americans, who've given so much support to both Bill and Hillary over the years.

"I don't know if Senator Obama can win the White House. No one knows. But to deliberately convey the idea that most white people--or most working-class white people--are unwilling to give an African American candidate a fair hearing in a presidential election is a slur against whites."

MR. McAULIFFE: Yeah, I completely disagree. First of all, Tim, as you know, she was quoting an AP story. In fairness, she was quoting what had been written in the AP. Both candidates have put together terrific coalitions. What Hillary was talking about is the coalitions that she has been able to put together that has allowed her to win Texas and Ohio, a lot of working-class folks have come out. I'm not saying that Senator Obama can't win that at the end of the day. But, you know, we have been both proud of what we have brought to this table. As I say, 16.6 million vs. 16.7 million. It is very close. Both candidates have done a dramatic and have done a great job of bringing new people in, but it's close and we got to see where we go. But we are about to go on a stretch. We have TV up in Oregon and West Virginia and Kentucky. Our staffs are deployed to all the remaining six states. This has a ways to go, we got to play it out.

MR. RUSSERT: But when she uses a phrase, hardworking Americans, white Americans, Mayor Willie Brown, San Francisco...

MR. McAULIFFE: Yeah.

MR. RUSSERT: ...said...

MR. McAULIFFE: Yeah.

MR. RUSSERT: ...she's saying that white Americans are hardworking Americans. A lot of African-Americans took great offense at that.

MR. McAULIFFE: Yeah. Well, and that's not what she meant. And she was quoting the AP story and could--literally, nobody has worked harder, as you know, than President Clinton...

MR. RUSSERT: Well, the AP story did not say white Americans were hardworking Americans. Those were her, her words.

MR. McAULIFFE: Well, she was, she was paraphrasing the AP story. And, Tim, listen, both Clintons have worked their whole life on civil rights issues; Hillary, her entire life, has been working on issues, on education, on health care. They both have been out there fighting hard. This is the end of a long campaign. It hasn't been, contrary to what a lot of people say, I don't think this has been an overly aggressive campaign, at the end, against each other. 1992, I think, was much worse. But listen, the stakes are huge. We have to win this election November 4th.

MR. RUSSERT: Many undeclared superdelegates are obviously listening to this discussion...

MR. McAULIFFE: Yeah, sure.

MR. RUSSERT: ...and to the debate that's been going on. Here's a report from the New York Post: "Hillary Rodham Clinton played the race card as she dismissed Barack Obama as a candidate who can't win support from `white Americans.' ... The `white Americans' remark drew a swift rebuke from some superdelegates, and private dismay from several Democratic" party "officials who said they're concerned about reuniting the factionalized party. Muriel Offerman, a North Carolina superdelegate who has not disclosed her choice, said: `That should not have been said. I think it drives a wedge, a racial wedge, that's not what the Democratic Party's about.' ... Massachusetts [undeclared] superdelegate Debra Kozikowski said: `That's distressing. ... I'm not even sure how to respond to that. I'd like to think that it was not intended to be what it sounds" "but... it" "sounds like trying to split the country down the middle.'" Those are undeclared superdelegates responding to Hillary comments about race.

MR. McAULIFFE: And you know what? I can put up 30, 40 more superdelegates who will say, you know, talk about what the Clintons have done on the race issue. First of all, I hate that even race is even in the--we should not have it. We shouldn't have race, we shouldn't have gender. We ought to talk about who can do the best job uniting this country, moving us forward, dealing with health care, getting our troops out of Iraq fast and safe, creating jobs, dealing with the mortgage crisis. That's what this campaign has been about, in fairness. We had 23 total debates through the process, a lot of issues being discussed and let's make sure we stay back focused on the issues. I promise you, Tim, this party will be unified.

I will give a shout out to George Bush. He's probably been the greatest unifying force in the history of the Democratic Party. We are going to come together. We have three weeks to go. Bill Clinton didn't win the nomination till June of 1992. As soon as this process is over--and I've said this for a while, I believe in June sometime, Florida and Michigan get resolved, June 3rd vote is done, within a week, two, three weeks, the superdelegates are going to move very quickly. We will be together as a party. But as I say, seven million Democrats have yet to vote. Let them vote. Hundreds of delegates to be chosen. At the end of the day, who is it you best think can win the White House and win--help us win the down ballot of elections? Today, the data will all show Hillary Clinton. She beat Senator Obama in the latest poll the Associated Press by five points. She wins it. People like her fight, they like that she's out there.

MR. RUSSERT: She beat Senator McCain.

MR. McAULIFFE: You--she beat Senator McCain.

MR. RUSSERT: But not Senator Obama. In the head-to-head Gallup, Obama's ahead.

MR. McAULIFFE: Well, I'm now talking general election, who is the best to win...

MR. RUSSERT: Right.

MR. McAULIFFE: ...us for the general.

MR. RUSSERT: But you said, you said Clinton beats Obama, but it's--you meant Clinton beats McCain.

MR. McAULIFFE: Clinton beats McCain.

MR. RUSSERT: Yeah.

MR. McAULIFFE: But I'll show you polls in the upcoming things that she beats Senator Obama...

MR. RUSSERT: So, but, but if you, do you, do you believe...

MR. McAULIFFE: ...in West Virginia and Kentucky.

MR. RUSSERT: Do you believe if Senator Obama's the nominee that those white ethic blue-collar voters will come back and support him?

MR. McAULIFFE: Yes. Sure. If he's the nominee. We're not there yet. But if he happened to be the nominee, we'll all be unified, Tim. This will all come together. It will be exciting, everybody will be out working. Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, everybody. We'll all be over there to help Senator Obama.

MR. RUSSERT: And the black voters who've been supporting Obama 92-to-eight...

MR. McAULIFFE: Sure.

MR. RUSSERT: ...will come back and support Hillary Clinton?

MR. McAULIFFE: Absolutely. We will be together. This is--we're in a primary, we're both trying to win the nomination. But it's not impossible for Hillary Clinton to win. A lot of people have said that. Big Russ, if he were sitting here today, nothing's impossible. Jack McAuliffe, if he were with us today, they both--they're probably both in heaven right now, Tim, probably having a scotch, looking down and saying, you know what, this fight goes on. It's good for the Democratic Party. Millions of people coming out to vote. It's exciting.

MR. RUSSERT: Well, Big Russ is in the Barcalounger still watching this.

MR. McAULIFFE: Yeah.

MR. RUSSERT: God bless him. Let me show you what Bill Clinton said in West Virginia. Here he goes.

(Videotape, May 8, 2008)

FMR. PRES. BILL CLINTON: Don't believe all this stuff you read in the press. She can still win this thing if you vote for her big enough. They're going to have to resolve Michigan and Florida, and when they do, she can win the popular vote and all this raining on her parade is designed to discourage people from voting here.

(End videotape)

MR. RUSSERT: President Clinton, again, talking about Michigan and Florida.

MR. McAULIFFE: Yep.

MR. RUSSERT: Back in February, Howard Wolfson, the communications director for the--Hillary Clinton, had several phone calls and he always said the same thing. Here it was: "Neither of the candidates will get to the number needed to secure the nomination - 2,025 - without the support of superdelegates." Two thousand twenty-five.

MR. McAULIFFE: Yeah.

MR. RUSSERT: Clinton campaign said it, the Obama campaign said it. Suddenly this week we had a new number. "It becomes clearer and clearer that 2,025 is not the operative number. ... The number is not 2,025. It's 2209." Suddenly, including Michigan and Florida.

MR. McAULIFFE: Yeah.

MR. RUSSERT: A change. Also, Hillary Clinton, back in October, said, "You know, it's clear, this election they're having [in Michigan] is not going to count for anything." Now, it's counting for a lot.

I turn to the bible, "What a Party," Terry McAuliffe.

MR. McAULIFFE: Good man, good man.

MR. RUSSERT: Your book.

MR. McAULIFFE: Yes, sir.

MR. RUSSERT: And back in 2003, this was a discussion...

MR. McAULIFFE: Yes.

MR. RUSSERT: ...you had with Carl Levin, the senator from Michigan.

MR. McAULIFFE: Yeah. Yeah.

MR. RUSSERT: "I got a call on February 1, 2003, from Carl [Levin]" ... senator from Michigan, "[who] told me they were going to hold the Michigan primary before New Hampshire, which would have led to complete chaos. ... `If you do that, I will take away 50 percent of your delegates,' I told them. They thought I was bluffing. But it was my responsibility as chairman to take action for the good of the party, and taking away half their delegates was well within my authority. ... `You won't deny us seats at the convention,' [Levin] said. `Carl, take it to the bank.'" They'll "`not get a credential. The closest'" thing you'll "`get to Boston,'" the convention city, "`will be watching it on television. I will not let you break this entire nominating process for one state. The rules are the rules.'"

MR. McAULIFFE: Yep.

MR. RUSSERT: Chairman McAuliffe.

MR. McAULIFFE: You bet.

MR. RUSSERT: So now, Chairman Dean is saying the rules are the rules.

MR. McAULIFFE: Yeah.

MR. RUSSERT: Michigan broke them, they're not going to be seated. Maybe they'll get half. Would you accept that?

MR. McAULIFFE: Well, first of all, that's now out in paperback, I want you to know. But second, I would say the rule is 50 percent. That's the point I'd like to make. I had the right, the party, to take away 50 percent. The party took away 100 percent of the delegates. The rule is 50 percent. Had they only taken away 50 percent like the Republican Party did, Tim, you and I would not be having this conversation today.

MR. RUSSERT: So you would accept that as a compromise, half the Michigan and half the Florida delegates?

MR. McAULIFFE: We certainly might, you bet. But in fairness, the Rules and Bylaws Committee will meet on, on the 31st to make that decision. The issue is 50 percent. They took away 100 percent. He can't deny that a million-75 people showed up in Florida and 600,000 showed up in Michigan. They voted, they were certified by the county and the state. These people voted. We have to win these two states in, in the general election. It's important, Michigan and Florida.

MR. RUSSERT: But you'd take half.

MR. McAULIFFE: Well, I'll--we'll let the Rules and Bylaws, it's up to them to make that decision. But the rule is 50 percent. Had they done 50 percent, Tim, you and I wouldn't have this conversation today. They took away 100 percent.

MR. RUSSERT: Before you go, money, money, money.

MR. McAULIFFE: Yes.

MR. RUSSERT: The Clintons have loaned over $11 million...

MR. McAULIFFE: Yeah.

MR. RUSSERT: ...to the campaign. I--we understand the campaign is in debt beyond that 11 million...

MR. McAULIFFE: Yeah.

MR. RUSSERT: ...close to 15 or 20?

MR. McAULIFFE: All I know is what we're spending right now. We had a good couple days after we won Indiana and we have now bought media in all the upcoming states. We're in very good shape, full campaign mode. The debt will take care of itself in the end. We are competitive, we have the money to play the next three weeks in these upcoming six contests.

MR. RUSSERT: Will they loan any more money to their campaign?

MR. McAULIFFE: She has certainly opened that possibility and she'd be--I talked to her personally about that and she said that she would be willing to do it. We haven't needed it. I can tell you right now, we have not needed it.

MR. RUSSERT: As you know, the rules are that come August, if she's not the nominee, the campaign is over, she does not get that money back, other than $250,000. Are the Clintons willing to, in effect, sacrifice $11 million plus of their own money?

MR. McAULIFFE: Well, we haven't quite taken that conversation to that level, Hillary and I. But it is what it is. I mean, depending on where we go with this process. I mean, they clearly knew when they put the money in. It shows that they're, you know, they're into this campaign. They put their money on the table and I think it was important. It helped get other people into the campaign. But they're realistic when they put the money in, Tim. The good news is we haven't had to put any more in. We've been able to raise money. We've bought the media, we have our staff in place. We have a competitive race. We have, as I say, only three weeks to go. And, as I say, you know, we've been in this for 17 months. Nothing's impossible.

MR. RUSSERT: Well...

MR. McAULIFFE: You can't win unless you're on the playing field, Tim.

MR. RUSSERT: Will you pay all your debts, all your vendors, in full?

MR. McAULIFFE: We plan on it, sure. But that's not what I'm thinking about today. I'm thinking about the next six contests. She's up in West--she beats Senator Obama in West Virginia, she beats him in Kentucky. Today we beat him in Puerto Rico. You know, a million and a half people could come out and vote in Puerto Rico. I mean, we...

MR. RUSSERT: What about Oregon and Montana, South Dakota?

MR. McAULIFFE: Much more competitive. But the big, huge population centers that we have, Hillary Clinton I believe today is going to win all of those.

MR. RUSSERT: When--so you will definitely go on. She will definitely go on through the primaries?

MR. McAULIFFE: No question about it. We are in because we believe, and I speak for all the people who've worked hard on this campaign, we are passionate about this, have every right to go on, should go on. We're not going anywhere. There have been no discussions with any other campaign about helping. Some of these stories I can unequivocally tell you here today, Tim, are not true.

MR. RUSSERT: So if Senator Obama has enough elected delegates, plus superdelegates, to add up to 2,025, will Senator Clinton then say "all right, he's the nominee"?

MR. McAULIFFE: Let's let the Rules and Bylaws meet on the 31st. Whatever determination they make--because it's up to the Rules and Bylaws to determine if we include Florida and Michigan--after that's done I've always said this, Tim, is someone has the magic number to be the nominee of the Democratic Party, then they're the nominee of the Democratic Party. But until we get to that number, anyone can fight. As I say, you know, you come from a fight in Buffalo, your father was a fighter, I read your book. I mean you got to keep fighting. You can't win unless you're on the playing field. And this is politics, Tim. Anything can happen in the next three to four weeks.

MR. RUSSERT: You always thought this would be over on Super Tuesday.

MR. McAULIFFE: I did.

MR. RUSSERT: Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, formidable machine.

MR. McAULIFFE: I did, yeah.

MR. RUSSERT: Formidable machine, and yet Barack Obama, a one-term senator from Illinois, may have beaten her for the Democratic nomination. How did that happen?

MR. McAULIFFE: It shows how smart I am. I hope no one's paying attention to me. I did think it would probably be over after February 5th. I think once we had Iowa, I think Iowa's a key determinant and he got a lot of energy and excitement coming out of Iowa. And then he went on from there and she stayed in. I think if you asked me one simple reason today I'd say that, you know, he won Iowa. And then as has happened in the past, he got a huge springboard off of that.

MR. RUSSERT: Should you have avoided Iowa?

MR. McAULIFFE: I think you have to compete everywhere. Listen, we have played hard and we didn't want to game the system. You got to--Hillary has played everywhere, she's playing today, that's why she's in West Virginia. I wish we had more of a debate going on in West Virginia and Kentucky. These are two important states. Senator Obama's, he's going, I believe, to West Virginia tomorrow. But he hasn't been down there. He hasn't been to Kentucky. It's important that we as Democrats, play everywhere. Hillary Clinton has played everywhere. She's a vigorous debate, 16.6 million supporters. She's led the debate on healthcare, on home foreclosure, on getting our troops out fast and safe in Iraq. And that's what the voters have liked about it. So it's a close race and on we go.

MR. RUSSERT: And you're a very loyal advocate. Terry McAuliffe, we thank you for...

MR. McAULIFFE: Thank you.

MR. RUSSERT: ..sharing your views.

MR. McAULIFFE: Happy Mother's Day to Millie McAuliffe and to my wife, Dorothy, mother of five children. Happy Mother's Day.

MR. RUSSERT: Well done.

MR. McAULIFFE: Thank you.

MR. RUSSERT: Thank you for your views.

Coming next, the race for the White House 2008 through the eyes of Chris Cillizza of The Washington Post; Michele Norris of NPR's "All Things Considered"; John Harwood of CNBC and The New York Times: Gerry Seib of The Wall Street Journal. They are all coming up next right here only on MEET THE PRESS.

(Announcements)

MR. RUSSERT: Our political roundtable: Chris Cillizza, Michele Norris, John Harwood, Gerry Seib, all after this brief station break.

(Announcements)

MR. RUSSERT: And we are back.

John Harwood, let me start with you. Is Obama going to be the nominee?

MR. JOHN HARWOOD: Yes. It's pretty obvious at this point.

MR. RUSSERT: Gerry?

MR. GERALD SEIB: It's hard to see how he's not the nominee.

MR. RUSSERT: Chris Cillizza?

MR. CHRIS CILLIZZA: Yes, he is.

MR. RUSSERT: Michele?

MS. MICHELE NORRIS: The math doesn't work in her favor.

MR. HARWOOD: Tim, let me qualify that this way. There's nothing Hillary Clinton can do to change it. Stuff could happen to Barack Obama. If we found out that there was a secret poker game when Tony Rezko was paying Barack Obama to write Jeremiah Wright's sermons and to organize Muslim English professors for a new Weather Underground chapter, maybe Barack Obama could be stopped. But that's a fantasy, and it's--you just simply can't see it happening.

MR. SEIB: But you just, you just heard Terry McAuliffe say, this is, this is politics. Anything can happen. That's the name of the game right now, and, you know, I have to give him their due. They're, they're entitled to play this game out, and he's right, this is politics, anything can happen. The question is, a static shot today? It's hard to see anything happening, but you never do know.

MR. CILLIZZA: Listen, John touched on this. I think it's important, is the anything could happen. If you look back at the Clintons, and I include Bill Clinton in this, their political life, anything has happened. And I think that's why so many people in the aftermath of Tuesday's results said, "Why would she stay in? Why is she staying in?" Endurance and perseverance define these people. This is a man who was counted out before the '92 primary. He should resign in impeachment. She's counted out before this New Hampshire primary. She's counted out before Ohio and Texas. Their belief is that politics, at least in their life, has proven that things happen, that if you stick around beyond when people think you should stick around, things can develop, things can change rapidly. And I think that's why you probably see her stay in just to push it out, not under the expectation that something will happen, but if it does, she wants to be in position to strike.

MS. NORRIS: And also to frame their circumstances. I mean, they, they, they have come back, the Clintons have come back from the ashes several times.

MR. CILLIZZA: Mm-hmm.

MS. NORRIS: And in doing that they've often defined themselves--Bill Clinton came in second in, in New Hampshire and declared himself the comeback kid, basically declared it a victory. And so what she's doing in staying in is also rewriting the next chapter of her life, deciding, you know, how she does move forward. Does she fight for a place on the ticket, does she define her place within the party? I mean, she--it's like the ads that you see during the NBA playoffs right now. She has to decide if she wants to press on and try to make history or be history. And it's a tough decision for her.

MR. RUSSERT: The money is an interesting issue. They've put in $11 million of their own money, you just heard Terry McAuliffe suggest they may put more in, and the rules are the rules. Unless you raise that money and repay yourself before the convention, you lose it, other than $250,000. That's a big decision, John.

MR. HARWOOD: Well, yes, it's a big decision, but maybe a smaller decision for the Clintons than a lot of other people. Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton have made $100 million over the last several years, so they're out $11 million right now. What is the consequence to them? How many speeches by Bill Clinton would it take to make up that lost income if they lose it? Not all that many. There are some people who have a stake in it. Mark Penn, the strategist, still has some outstanding debts that have not been paid. The money that Hillary Clinton has loaned to her campaign has gone straight on to television advertising. So there's some people who have a rooting interest in this, but I don't think too many people, either the Clintons themselves or Barack Obama's campaign, is going to lose too much sleep over the financial circumstances of...

MR. RUSSERT: Isn't there a perverse irony that if part of the arrangement to come together as a party is that if Barack Obama will host fundraisers for the Clintons to retire the debt, and that money will go to Mark Penn, who had, who had, who had led the campaign against Barack Obama.

MR. HARWOOD: That's why they're not losing sleep over it.

MR. SEIB: Well, this is politics. Anything can happen, as you said. But that--this is in an issue that's lurking. It's not there yet, but the question of whether the Obama forces, if this plays out that we, the way we've all predicted, would this evolve to a point where Barack Obama would be willing to invest time to raise money for Hillary Clinton? That's a, that's a lurking question just in the background right now.

MR. RUSSERT: Michele, you heard Chris Dodd say he did not think Hillary Clinton would be on the ticket.

MS. NORRIS: Mm-hmm.

MR. RUSSERT: You heard Ted Kennedy say that. It is interesting, those two senior Democrats both sort of throwing cold water on any notion of an Obama-Clinton ticket. Why?

MS. NORRIS: He's been asked about this several times now. You know, it seems like every campaign stop someone asks him this question. He's very delicate in praising Hillary Clinton and her work, but not saying much about this. The animosity between the two campaigns is great right now.

MR. CILLIZZA: Mm-hmm.

MS. NORRIS: And it's hard to see how they could bring the two of them together. I think also when you talk to his team and they talk about what they would want to see in a vice president, if he were to become the nominee, I think they're looking for someone with a bit of experience, because they know that that's the campaign that McCain will plan to run. They want someone who's been in, perhaps, if not in Washington, been in government for a time. And someone who has the ability to help the campaign reach out to independent voters and reach out to Republican voters because they believe, they strongly believe that they can turn predictably Republican states or purplish states and really make them competitive.

MR. RUSSERT: Virginia, Colorado.

MS. NORRIS: Exactly. Kansas, Missouri and Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, that have sort of started to drift into the Demo--or into the Republican category. They think that they can bring those states back so they, I think...

MR. RUSSERT: And Hillary Clinton wouldn't help him in those states?

MS. NORRIS: Not much.

MR. HARWOOD: And they want a minimum of complications and baggage, and those are two things that Hillary Clinton would bring.

MR. CILLIZZA: Tim, I was just going to say, at its core, I think, beyond--we've seen candidates pick people they don't necessarily like because they think it's in their political interest--John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson; Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush--actually think it may go beyond personal animosity, though, I think Michele is right...

MS. NORRIS: Mm.

MR. CILLIZZA: ...that there clearly is. In a campaign this long, it may be inevitable. Barack Obama's core message is change. We need different people, we need different faces. To bring in one of the two faces of the Democratic Party over the last two decades--you could argue longer, but certainly over the last two decades, it goes against the fundamental core message that has helped him beat Senator Clinton.

Now, I do think one thing that's important, he is aware that an olive branch needs to be offered to the Clinton team. My guess would be, if it happens in the form of via vice president, it won't be Hillary Clinton. It'll be a prominent supporter of hers. A name that often comes up and that I think would make the most sense...

MR. HARWOOD: But, Chris...

MR. CILLIZZA: ...Ted Strickland, the governor of Ohio. Yes?

MR. SEIB: You don't bring one of the two faces, you bring both of the faces.

MR. CILLIZZA: Both. Right. Right.

MR. HARWOOD: And that's part of the problem.

MS. NORRIS: Right, and that's part of it, too. That is part of the issue.

MR. CILLIZZA: Absolutely.

MR. RUSSERT: Gerry, this whole debate about race, Hillary Clinton's comments, USA Today about hardworking whites, what has that done to the dynamic between the Obama and Clinton campaigns?

MR. SEIB: It's, it's definitely added to the tensions. There were plenty of tensions there before. I think they were under control until the last couple of weeks. I think those comments at--brought the race question to the surface within the campaigns. You have a lot of tension now between the two campaigns. I think a lot of that will go away, inevitably will go away once there's a nominee, and how the loser loses is going to be very important here. Who says what when it's over will determine whether those kind of comments that, Tim, really sort of live on, or whether they're buried in the middle of June somewhere.

MS. NORRIS: You know, I think that this is a week also, when you talk to people within the party outside the campaigns, where the race issue has really started to give them quite a bit of heartburn. When Hillary Clinton talks about Barack Obama not having strong support among Americans, hardworking Americans, white Americans, the corollary argument that could be made against her is the drop in her support among African Americans. And if she were to become the nominee, there is a real concern that African Americans, who have always been reliable, you know, a part of the electorate for the Democratic Party, would not show up. And if you look at what happened in Ohio in the last election, if John Kerry had improved his performance, his support among African Americans, even only marginally, he might be president today.

MR. RUSSERT: If you have African Americans underperform in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Ohio, you do not win.

MS. NORRIS: You don't win.

MR. RUSSERT: You do not carry those states.

MS. NORRIS: You don't win. You don't win.

MR. RUSSERT: And Jim--that's why Jim Clyburn, the congressman from South Carolina, said Hillary Clinton's been losing African Americans 91-to-eight. And if you're the nominee and suddenly try to turn that around, could be difficult.

MR. CILLIZZA: Tim, I just--one thing. I think that what we've seen, and Terry McAuliffe mentioned this, he said there hasn't been an avalanche of superdelegates to Senator Obama yet. We didn't see it right afterward. My understanding is that if Senator Clinton continues down the road of making comments, as Michele pointed out, white voters, comments that are clearly--can be read as damaging to Barack Obama when he is the nominee, you will see more superdelegates come out, major superdelegates, people we know who are on the fence, people who everyone watching today knows. They will come out and end this. That there is a, there is a willingness to let Senator Clinton play this out until June 3rd if it is seen as a graceful exit to her. If it is seen as a, sort of a carpet bombing, I think you will see it end much more quickly.

MR. RUSSERT: You know, it is remarkable when you look back at the macro picture, that this one-term senator from Illinois could defeat Bill and Hillary Clinton, in effect, because it is the Clintons, there's no doubt about it.

Karen Tumulty in Time magazine listed five mistakes Clinton made: one, she misjudged the mood, two, she didn't master the rules; three, she underestimated the caucus states; three, she relied on old money; and five, she never counted on a long haul. And I think there's one other issue that was involved in all this, and we saw it in the exit polls. Amongst Democrats voting in the primaries, in Indiana, a state she carried, is Hillary Clinton honest and trustworthy? Yes, 54; no, 44. In North Carolina, is she honest and trustworthy? No, 49; yes, 49. It was at the core. And I think the Bosnia sniper fire, perhaps the gas tax holiday, things just ate away at that which caused difficulty for her and allowed Obama, with his fundraising ability, to make the case against her.

MR. HARWOOD: I think there's one more issue that was not on that list, and that is she had to run against Barack Obama. We're talking about an exceptionally gifted guy, somebody who, in many ways, embodies the diversity that the United States is moving closer and closer to, somebody in a change year is very, very well positioned to capture that mood. Hillary Clinton was not counting on having to run against Barack Obama. He'd said after he was elected to the Senate that he didn't plan to do it. That was the turning point in the race is Barack Obama and the appeal that he's demonstrated.

MR. SEIB: Yeah. And I think, you know, we're always looking for who made the mistake in the campaign. That's a natural thing to do. But I also think it may just be that the problem was this was a year and a man that have come together, in a way. I mean, I think about 1980, 1980 and Ronald Reagan, they came together at the same time. There may not have been another year before, another year after where Ronald Reagan would have been the phenomenon that he was in 1980. It's hard for Hillary Clinton to make the case for change as well as Barack Obama, and as you said, Chris, this was a year when people want change--is a year when people want change.

MR. CILLIZZA: Tim, you mentioned the gas tax and I just found it fascinating, if you looked at it from a purely political perspective, that--from--let's say it's a congressional race, a governor's race, a Senate race--you had Hillary Clinton saying, "I feel your pain, I understand we need to provide you relief." You had Barack Obama saying, "This is political flimflammery, it won't work. We need a long-term solution." Usually, the direct relief argument wins out. But I think it's exactly what you talked about. People did not believe her, they saw her as a flawed messenger, they did not think she--they, they were open to the argument, which Obama smartly made, "She's selling you a bill of goods." Obama, if you watch the response on the gas tax, he didn't respond with his own plan, he said this is the old politics that we need to be done with. I think that played into voters' doubts about her, and I think that throughout these primaries, we saw her becoming an increasingly flawed messenger. Voters simply didn't believe what she had to say about Barack Obama.

MS. NORRIS: I think it was also perhaps an erratic messenger, because Barack has had a fairly consistent message throughout this campaign and Hillary Clinton, if you go back to Iowa and then look at New Hampshire and then look at Super Tuesday and then look at Ohio, the message has changed with each set of primaries. And so I think that that adds to those numbers, also. People aren't sure exactly what she stands for.

MR. RUSSERT: Let me turn to the general election. We saw the first skirmish, if you will, about Hamas between McCain and Obama. This is how it started. The chief political adviser of the prime minister of Hamas said, "We like Mr. Obama" "we hope" you "will win the election." "I do believe he is like John Kennedy - [a] great man with great principle." "He has a vision to change America." John McCain jumped on that: "I think it's very clear who Hamas wants to be the next president of the United States. ... I think" "people should understand that I will be Hamas' worst nightmare. ... If Senator Obama's favored by Hamas, I think people can make judgments accordingly." Senator Obama responded this way.

(Videotape, May 8, 2008)

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL): And so for him to toss out comments like that I think is an example of him losing his bearings as he pursues this nomination. We don't need name-calling in this debate.

(End videotape)

MR. RUSSERT: The McCain campaign responded in the name of Mark Salter, "First, let us" clear up--"be clear about the nature of Senator Obama's attack today: He used the words `losing his bearings' intentionally, a not particularly clever way of raising Senator McCain's age as an issue. This is typical of the Obama style of campaigning."

Bill Burton of the Obama campaign fired back: "Clearly losing one's bearings has no relation to age, given this bizarre rant that Mark Salter just sent out." It's a clear why a candidate offering--"It's clear why a candidate offering a third term of George Bush's disastrous economic policies and failed strategy in Iraq would want to distract and attack."

Michele, we have Hamas, foreign policy, inexperience, George Bush's third term, Iraq, age, all of that on the table in one exchange. I'm exhausted.

MS. NORRIS: Well, I think that that's one of the reasons that Salter issued that, that response right away, is they realize their internal tracking is probably telling them that age might be an issue among some voters. And I know when I spend time on the road, when John McCain's age comes up, it usually comes up among older votes who know how exhausted they feel when they wake up in the morning and wonder if, if--and it--you know, it sounds a bit of ageism, but that is something that the campaign...

MR. RUSSERT: If elected, he would be 72, the oldest American ever elected to a first term.

MR. CILLIZZA: Tim, it strikes me that that one of the dynamics--and there are any number of interesting dynamics and narratives that'll play out--but one of them is who can win the age vs. experience battle? Clearly, Senator McCain is going to paint Barack Obama as inexperienced both in foreign and domestic policy to be president of the United States.

There will be a sentiment that this is on the Democratic side, though they will probably not overtly talk about Senator McCain's age, that this is a generational change. Barack Obama, 47, John McCain, 72. Which side voters will believe, I think, will be interesting. Do they go with McCain, the older, the senior statesman, with a resume as deep as anyone we've seen run for public office in recent memory? Or do they say, "You know what, the kind of experience that McCain is offering isn't right." In the primary they went with Barack Obama. "I don't have Washington experience, but I have life experience." Will that dynamic--how does that play out? Who wins that fight?

MR. RUSSERT: But, Gerry and John, we're going to have big difference on the big issues. John McCain will say, "We're going to stay in Iraq"; Barack Obama say, "Get out." Barack Obama will say, "Roll back the Bush tax cuts on the top income earners"; John McCain will say, "Keep it going." John McCain will say, "No national healthcare as such"; Barack Obama will say, "national healthcare." Every issue, people are going to have to make a big choice, a big decision. John McCain will say, "No conversations with Iran, period"; Obama will say, "We'll talk to our adversaries." Big differences.

MR. SEIB: Oh, absolutely. You know, I spent some time at Obama headquarters on Friday and that was a lot of the discussion there. You know, people don't realize yet, there's going to be real policy debate in this campaign. This is about to become a real divide between two candidates of different views. Healthcare, I think, is the best example. And in the Hamas episode, which we were just discussing, there is yet another element that was in there, embedded in there, that you didn't mention. We've seen in our Wall Street Journal/NBC News polling all year, the one area where Republicans can still claim an advantage is national security and military affairs. The McCain people are going to go at that time and time again, and that's why John McCain jumped on the Hamas statement so quickly.

MR. HARWOOD: But I do think it's important to point out, Barack Obama was not talking about age in that comment. This was the McCain campaign trying to work the referees in advance, trying to conflate losing his bearings. Barack Obama's been saying similar things. The Straight Talk Express has popped a couple of wheels lately and gone off. It's about--he's making an argument about McCain diverting from principle. But this was the McCain campaign trying to frame the parameters of acceptable argument. And one of the interesting things they're going to make, which many Republicans would find ironic, is McCain's people are going to say that the press is pro-Obama. Now, John McCain's benefited from very friendly press coverage for many years, but he's going to try to argue, which will have corollary benefit of rallying conservatives, if he can pull it off, of saying, "The press wants Obama to win. I'm pushing back, too."

MR. RUSSERT: In 2002, John McCain referred to the press as his base.

MR. HARWOOD: They were his base.

MR. RUSSERT: Speak for yourself, Harwood.

"Pennsylvania Avenue: Profiles and Backroom Power." I'd like to quote for it, gentlemen. And here's what it says. "Divisions have always been part of Pennsylvania Avenue's landscape. ... But today the divisions have taken on a new character. Power is so divided between the two parties that, in a very real sense, nobody has enough control either to paper over differences or to roll past them. Nobody is in charge. ...

"And because the two sides are so evenly divided, the stakes of every battle appear high."

Michele, the McCains, John and Cindy, have said, "We don't want a negative campaign." The Obamas, Barack and Michelle, said we don't want a negative campaign. There were discussions of perhaps having them go out and do joint forums together.

MS. NORRIS: They both seem to be eager to do it.

MR. RUSSERT: To have a discussion of these differences on the issues. Is there a way that if Obama wins or if McCain wins, the next president would really have a different attitude towards Washington and try to work with the other party?

MS. NORRIS: I think it's possible, because you've got two people who've both reached across the aisle and done this. But, you know, they're not islands unto themselves. I mean, if you look at what's going on--the rhetoric on the campaign and what's actually going on in Washington right now, the gridlock that we've seen on Capitol Hill for--I was going to say the last eight years, you could say the last 12 years, you could probably say the last 18 years--they may set the tone, and they can do that in one way. I mean, one of the things that happened when George Bush came to power in Washington, there were many people on Capitol Hill on both sides of the aisle who were a bit upset because he didn't reach out and bring both parties together. The Roosevelt Room is a very powerful space in the White House, where you can bring people and you can sit people down across the aisle and say, "Work this out, talk this out." And if the next president uses that space, uses their power to do that, it might make a difference in Washington.

MR. HARWOOD: Tim, here's why it's going to be different, and this is what Gerry and I write about in this book. Our entire lives have been about the construction of a party system. Two very distinct parties ideologically, consistent basis of support, fairly evenly divide the country. We're going to have, this fall, in Obama and McCain, a much more wide-open campaign, a campaign that puts new issues and new constituencies on the table. This could be the campaign that shakes that framework that we have become accustomed to. Look at two issues. John McCain is going to run as--in favor of a cap and trade system for carbon emissions. He's a different kind of Republican on energy and the environment. Barack Obama is running, significantly, he's not for a mandate on healthcare. I was talking to a business lobbyist the other night who we profiled in this book, Bernadette Budde, said, "People say that Barack Obama--Republicans say he's a conventional liberal. How do you approach him?" She said, "He's a listener. It's going to be a much bigger table with Barack Obama, we can do business with him."

MR. CILLIZZA: You know, Tim, one quick thing, is I actually think the election, aside from the presidential, may change what the two--whoever wins the presidency--looks at. If you look at all the atmospherics down below the presidential level, you are seeing things happen that have to be concerning for Republicans. You've seen them lose two special elections, House special elections in Illinois and Louisiana. One coming up in northern Mississippi, where President Bush won 60 plus percent of the vote, millions of dollars being spent there. If they win three in a row, it suggests that you may be looking at a significant Democratic majority, certainly in the House, maybe in the Senate in 2009. And that could change how the president interacts with Congress.

MR. RUSSERT: The tone of the campaign, I think, will shape the presidency, whether it's Obama or McCain. Michele Norris, Chris Cillizza, Gerry Seib, John Harwood. The book, "Pennsylvania Avenue: Profiles and Backroom Power," and you can read an excerpt of John and Gerry's book on our Web site, msnbc.com, mtp.msnbc.com. Thanks very much, we'll be right back.

(Announcements)

MR. RUSSERT: That's all for today. Watch NBC and MSNBC on Tuesday night for continuing coverage of the West Virginia primary, Clinton vs. Obama. We'll be back next week. If it's Sunday, it's Meet the Press. Don't forget to call home and tell your mama you love her. Happy Mother's Day.

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