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THE SITUATION ROOM

Clinton Attacks McCain on Economy; Bill Richardson Still Defends Endorsement of Obama; Speculation Continues Around McCain's Running Mate

Aired April 2, 2008 - 18:00   ET

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


JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, Hillary Clinton's playing to voters' 3:00 a.m. fears again. We will tell you what her new ad is all about and why she may be losing some ground in Pennsylvania.
Plus, Bill Clinton's charge of betrayal. He reportedly says Bill Richardson told him repeatedly he would not endorse Barack Obama. This hour, the New Mexico governor joins us to respond.

And John McCain is accused of fracturing the Republican Party. McCain responds to a new slap from the right and talks about his vice presidential options.

Wolf Blitzer is off today. I'm John King, along with the best political team on television.

You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world.

Hillary Clinton is unleashing a new TV ad warning about dangers in the middle of the night. This time, she's targeting Republican John McCain and whether he could handle an economic crisis. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, CLINTON CAMPAIGN AD)

NARRATOR: There's a phone ringing in the White House. And, this time, the crisis is economic: home foreclosures mounting, markets teetering. John McCain just said the government shouldn't take really action in the housing crisis. He would let the phone keep ringing.

Hillary Clinton has a plan to protect our homes, create jobs. It's 3:00 a.m. -- time for a president who's ready.

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm Hillary Clinton, and I approve this message.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: The economy, issue one for Americans, including many Democrats still trying to choose between Clinton and Barack Obama.

Our senior political correspondent, Candy Crowley, is covering the Democrats in Pennsylvania. Candy, any movement in the race there?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, as a matter of fact, there has been some movement. As you know, John, Barack Obama has been here for six days. He has been in and out of factories, as she has, because in the end, both these campaigns know, when it comes right down to it, Pennsylvania will be decided by working-class voters.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CROWLEY (voice-over): In a state with more than 800,000 union votes, the AFL-CIO convention is a must and trade deals are the big deal.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What I oppose and what I will always oppose are trade deals that put the interests of Wall Street ahead of the interests of American workers.

CROWLEY: There are shades of Ohio here, where Obama and Clinton went after each other's credentials in opposing the North American Free Trade deal, which big labor blamed for devastating its ranks.

H. CLINTON: Is labor in the house?

CROWLEY: Clinton, in her appearance yesterday before the AFL- CIO, got a boost from union bigwig Gerald McEntee, who vouched for her consistent NAFTA opposition. The Obama campaign, in a conference call, says Hillary Clinton's White House schedule shows otherwise. It shows she attended NAFTA meetings as her husband's administration was pushing for passage.

ROBERT GIBBS, OBAMA CAMPAIGN COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: On supposedly speaking out against NAFTA, the American people deserve to know, what did she say and when did she say it?

CROWLEY: As Obama spoke in Philadelphia, his campaign touted the endorsement of Lee Hamilton, co-chair of the 9/11 Commission and former congressman from Indiana, which holds its primary contest in early May. And as he wraps up his six-day Pennsylvania bus tour, there are signs Obama got some mileage out of it.

A new Quinnipiac poll shows he's whittling away Hillary Clinton's once double-digit lead in the state, wrestling her down to a nine- point lead. He is closing the gap largely due to increased support among men and young voters.

Her lead in Pennsylvania is largely due to a 35 percent lead among white voters, as well as a sizable lead among women. Clinton, also wrapping up a Pennsylvania tour, spent the morning at a roundtable.

H. CLINTON: You know, we hear so much about outsourcing. We all know what that is. It's when we lose jobs to other countries. And I want to put an end to that.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CROWLEY: From Pennsylvania, Hillary Clinton heads west, where she deals with an economy problem of her own, a couple of fund-raisers out on the coast. Barack Obama leaving here tonight, headed home to Chicago, but later this week will head for Indiana, which, as you know, has its primary in early may.

But I can tell you, John, take a look at those poll numbers. They're both coming back.

KING: You can bet on that. And, Candy, another 3:00 a.m. phone call ad from Senator Clinton, but a different target this time. What's this all about?

CROWLEY: Absolutely. Well, what's interesting is that the 3:00 a.m. ad, as you know, against Barack Obama was all about national security. It was seen as a very effective ad by the Clinton campaign. It ran in Texas. She won, at least the primary section of Texas.

So, now they're running it against John McCain. And I think there's a double message here. First of all, she has been pounding McCain very hard on the campaign trail, as you know, saying, listen, he says he doesn't know anything about the economy, and it's sure showing, that sort of thing.

So, this now puts that ad up there. But in addition to taking out after John McCain, as you know, it kind of elevates the race for her. She's no longer looking at Barack Obama. She's looking toward the fall and that sort of sends a message. Hey, who's the presidential one here? Who can beat John McCain. It's me. So, that's the message of that ad.

KING: And we shall see if it works. Still a little bit of ways to go to Pennsylvania.

Candy Crowley for us -- Candy, thanks so much.

And the McCain campaign responded quickly to the new Clinton ad, saying the Republican is ready to lead on the economy, get it back on track by cutting spending and lowering taxes.

In a statement, a McCain spokesman took a shot at the other party, saying, "Americans can't afford the Democrats' liberal agenda to raise taxes, nationalize health care, cut off trade and crush the economy under big government."

New evidence today that John McCain hasn't been able to patch all the cracks in Republican unity. Christian conservative leader James Dobson is accusing McCain of fracturing the party, instead of bringing it together, this as McCain makes a list of possible running mates and presses on with his biography tour.

Our Dana Bash travels with Senator McCain to the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): John, John McCain came here to Annapolis to talk about his experience preparing to be a Naval officer. But the news of the day was his revelation that he now has a list of contenders to join him on the Republican ticket.

(voice-over): These are the images that were supposed to drive John McCain's message: a reminder of his service with a visit to the Naval Academy he graduated from 50 years ago, until he spilled the beans that he now has a list of names for his running mate. On his bus, he even gave a number.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think it's like 20, you know. But I can't talk to you too much about it, obviously.

BASH: But he did. Much to the chagrin of anxious aides who tried to interrupt.

MCCAIN: You put the list together and then you just do a cursory kind of a look at -- I guess you could do on Google, really, when you think about it nowadays.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But it's a very, very early stage in the process.

BASH: McCain said he wanted to start vetting V.P. contenders now to avoid what he called unintended consequences like in 1988, when George H. W. Bush picked Dan Quayle, who faced questions about his National Guard service that surprised the campaign.

MCCAIN: Dan Quayle had not been briefed, you know, and prepared for, you know, some of the questions.

BASH: But as McCain plans ahead, a reminder of lingering trouble with some conservatives. Prominent conservative James Dobson released a harsh statement saying, I have seen no evidence that Senator McCain is successfully unifying the Republican Party or drawing conservatives into his fold. To the contrary, he seems intent on driving them away.

McCain responded that polls show conservatives are behind him, but admitted he hasn't talked to Dobson, a frequent critic.

(on-camera): Why not, you know, pick up the phone and call him and try to...

MCCAIN: If Dr. Dobson wanted to speak to me, I would be more than -- I would be glad to speak to him. I just feel that I -- I'm doing what is necessary to keep our party united and to win in November.

BASH: Dobson reaches millions of conservative voters through his radio show and other publications, a point McCain conceded. But McCain repeated over and over that he has as much Republican support as George W. Bush did as a candidate. And, privately, McCain advisers say this kind of rebuke from Dobson may not be a bad thing as they try to court independent voters -- John.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KING: Dana Bash in Annapolis.

And the McCain biographical tour now on to two Florida cities, where he spent time in the military, Pensacola and tomorrow Jacksonville.

Jack Cafferty joins us now with "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: John, here's how you can tell that we're coming to the end mercifully of President Bush's second term.

America's image abroad which has taken a serious pounding over the last seven years is starting to rebound, at least a little bit. A new poll done for the BBC surveyed 17,000 people in 34 nations. The number of people who say the U.S. has a positive influence is now at 35 percent, up from 31 percent a year ago.

Those who say the U.S. has a negative influence, 47 percent, down from 52 percent last year, also positive views of the U.S. in the 17 countries polled every year since 2005 is actually up for the first time in four years.

Nevertheless, the poll shows that views of U.S. influence in the world are still mainly negative, even though they have improved in half of the countries that were polled last year.

A State Department official acknowledges views of the U.S. have been negative in recent years, but said that 2003 and 2004 were an anomaly. That's a quote. That's when we invaded Iraq using phony intelligence -- an anomaly, I guess, according to the State Department.

He called public opinion a lagging indicator of what we're doing. The next president will have an opportunity to build on these numbers and help restore this country's image to what it used to be, back when we were well-liked and respected by many more people around the globe than we are today.

So, here's a question. A new poll suggests America's image is improving in many countries overseas. Why?

Go to CNN.com/caffertyfile. Post a comment on my blog -- Wolf -- John.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Close enough.

CAFFERTY: I'm so old.

(LAUGHTER)

CAFFERTY: I'm starting to sound like McCain. (LAUGHTER)

KING: We will see you in a little bit, Jack.

A Clinton supporter called Bill Richardson Judas for endorsing Obama. Now, according to one report, an angry Bill Clinton accuses the New Mexico governor of promising him one thing, but flat-out doing another. Well, I will ask Governor Richardson about the scathing accusation.

Also, might Al Gore be roaming around the next White House? Wait until you hear how he is being mentioned for a job possibly in a new administration.

And brace yourself. Your job and more of your money could be at risk -- the Fed chief sounding a worrisome alarm about what could happen next with the economy.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Sobering new warnings on where the already-battered U.S. economy could be headed next.

Appearing before lawmakers today, the Fed chief, Ben Bernanke, suggested Americans should brace themselves for more job losses, that the economy may shrink very soon, and that a recession is possible.

CNN senior correspondent Allan Chernoff is in New York.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ALLAN CHERNOFF, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's as grim as the nation's central banker has been on the economy, predicting unemployment will rise and conceding we may be facing a recession.

BEN BERNANKE, FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIRMAN: Recession is possible, but a recession is a technical term defined by the National Bureau of Economic Research depending on data which will be available quite a while from now. So I'm not yet ready to say whether or not the U.S. economy will face such a situation.

CHERNOFF: The congressmen listening told Bernanke of economic misery facing their constituents, leading to a harsh question that dominated the hearing -- is the Federal Reserve rescuing Wall Street fat cats while ignoring struggling homeowners facing foreclosure?

SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: What is the justice of helping Bear Stearns and not millions of homeowners?

CHERNOFF: Bernanke, a scholar on the Great Depression, said economic risk is exactly why he used taxpayer money last month to rescue investment firm Bear Stearns.

BERNANKE: What we did, always in my mind, was what was the best thing for the American public? We did what we did because we felt it was necessary to preserve the integrity and viability of the American financial system which, in turn, is critical for the health of the economy.

CHERNOFF: The Fed put $29 billion of taxpayer money on the line in the Bear Stearns rescue. It has put out another $200 billion to provide discount loans to Wall Street firms to grease their lending machinery. Those investments, Bernanke said, are making mortgages cheaper and more available.

BERNANKE: Everything we do is an attempt to try to improve the welfare of the average American.

CHERNOFF: Beyond lowering interest rates and thawing the credit freeze, Bernanke said it's up to Congress to help struggling homeowners.

BERNANKE: There are areas I think where Congress could be helpful in the housing front.

CHERNOFF: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says an agreement in principle has been reached that could aid more than a million families facing foreclosure. It would provide billions to help homeowners refinance mortgages and shift from risky, adjustable rate loans to predictable, fixed rate mortgages.

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: This is a crisis that we have. The only way it's going to be solved is working together.

CHERNOFF: It's a broad package of both mortgage and tax relief hammered out by leaders of the Senate Finance Committee that would provide help not only to struggling homeowners, but to home buyers and builders as well.

Allan Chernoff, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(NEWS BREAK)

KING: Bill Richardson already has been likened to Judas. How Bill Clinton also apparently is venting about the New Mexico governor and his endorsement of Barack Obama. Richardson on his way right here to THE SITUATION ROOM to give his side of the story.

And what do the Democrats have to offer blue-collar voters in Pennsylvania? The answer could decide the primary there in just a few weeks.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Another question and an answer today about John McCain's eligibility for the presidency, as an American born outside the continental United States.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy asked Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D-VT), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: I believe -- and we have had some question in this committee to have a special law passed declaring that Senator McCain was born in the Panama Canal, that he meets the constitutional requirement to be president.

I fully believe he does. I have never had any question in my mind that he meets our constitutional requirement. You're a former federal judge. You're the head of the agency that executes federal immigration law. Do you have any doubt in your mind? I have none in mine. Do you have any doubt in your mind that he's constitutionally eligible to become president?

MICHAEL CHERTOFF, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: My assumption and my understanding is that if you were born of American parents, you are a natural born American citizen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: So, why is this the question? Well, McCain was born on a U.S. Naval base in 1936, when the Panama Canal Zone was a U.S. territory. Both his parents were American citizens.

The Constitution states, without elaboration, that only -- quote -- "natural-born citizens" can hold the presidency. A bipartisan pair of legal experts recently concluded that McCain is indeed qualified, citing the original meaning of the Constitution, the framers' intentions, and subsequent legal and historical precedents.

Now there's a new debate off on the table for Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. there's a new debate offer on the table for Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Indiana TV stations and newspapers are inviting the Democrats to face off ahead of that state's May 6 primary. The debate would air live nationally here on CNN and on public television and on commercial broadcast stations across Indiana.

One possible date, April 24. That's just two days after the Pennsylvania primary. There's no response, though, yet from the Obama or the Clinton camps.

Barack Obama still sounds a little miffed by his poor performance at a bowling alley in Pennsylvania over the weekend. And if he's president, he apparently plans to make sure he doesn't suffer such an embarrassment in the White House.

Bowling fans, this might hurt, but listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: I played basketball with Bob Casey.

(LAUGHTER)

OBAMA: And I went bowling. (LAUGHTER)

OBAMA: And my poll numbers dropped a little bit after the bowling, but...

(LAUGHTER)

OBAMA: ... which is why I'm going to tear up the bowling alley in the White House. We're putting up a basketball court.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: Maybe I should leave it in there and get a little practice.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Now, here's an interesting question for Barack Obama.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Would you, as president, consider putting Al Gore in a Cabinet-level position?

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Just ahead: Obama's answer, and the best political team on television reads between the lines.

Plus, is Hillary Clinton overplaying 3:00 a.m. fears? We will look at her latest ad and what she's trying to accomplish.

And John McCain brushes off criticism from Christian conservative leader James Dobson. But does Dobson have the clout to cost McCain votes?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Happening now, Barack Obama reaching out to a demographic he must win if he wants to come even close to beating Hillary Clinton in Pennsylvania. We will show you what he's doing and just who they are.

Also, is there a possible role for Al Gore in a future Obama administration? Find out what the candidate said that has some people wondering.

And a stinging swipe at John McCain by an evangelical leader.

Plus, McCain's vice presidential short list -- all this, plus the best political team on television. I'm Wolf -- John King. Wolf Blitzer is off today. And you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Working-class white men, their votes could decide the Pennsylvania primary, now less than three weeks away. And with Hillary Clinton ahead in the polls in Pennsylvania, Barack Obama is reaching out to a critical demographic.

CNN's Dan Lothian is live in Philadelphia.

And, Dan, just what is Senator Obama doing to try to appeal to the working white vote?

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN BOSTON BUREAU CHIEF: Well, John, he's taking off his coat. He's rolling up his sleeves, and he's trying to make them feel comfortable.

You know, Senator Obama has pointed out that he is the underdog here in Pennsylvania, but he's hoping that they can help.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LOTHIAN (voice-over): He went to Harvard and lives in a $1 million house, but this is the picture Senator Barack Obama wants to paint in Pennsylvania: I can bowl. I can pet a cow.

OBAMA: Yuengling?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. That's a Pennsylvania beer.

OBAMA: All right. Let's fire it up.

LOTHIAN: I can drink a beer at the bar.

OBAMA: What happens, you work so hard, you don't get a chance to drink your beer.

BILL ROSENBERG, DREXEL UNIVERSITY: Those are the kinds of things that emotionally says, well, this guy is a guy that I can feel comfortable with.

LOTHIAN: It's in part an appeal to working-class white males. They make up about 27 percent of the vote in Pennsylvania and are concerned about keeping money in their pockets.

SHELDON GOBERMAN, COMPTROLLER, UNITE HERE: They feel alienated. They haven't been represented.

LOTHIAN: Now they could be a crucial swing group.

ROSENBERG: The white males are a group that are sort of still watching, still waiting, trying to decide who they're going to vote for. LOTHIAN: Many of them were attracted to Senator John Edwards, but then he dropped out of the race. Senator Hillary Clinton connected with them in Ohio, and hopes to do the same here by focusing on health care, job creation and the overall economy.

H. CLINTON: Tax breaks should be shifted away from oil companies, and instead put to work in helping create the jobs of the future.

OBAMA: We need to challenge the system on behalf of America's workers.

LOTHIAN: Obama's message at town hall meetings and in TV ads that now see tailored to working-class voters is that he offers the best solution for their problems. An endorsement by Senator Bob Casey Jr., who has strong support among unions and other blue-collar voters, doesn't hurt.

ROSENBERG: This is a swing group that usually doesn't come in play, but this is an unusual election year.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LOTHIAN: Senator Obama did spend some time today focusing on NAFTA. He is against it. And he was pointing out that he believes Senator Clinton has misrepresented her position on NAFTA -- NAFTA, of course, unpopular with the labor groups because they believe a lot of blue-collar jobs went overseas -- John.

KING: Dan Lothian for us in Philadelphia -- thanks, Dan.

And joining us now to talk about Pennsylvania's crucial white male vote and much, much more, CNN senior political analyst Gloria Borger, CNN's Jack Cafferty, and CNN senior analyst Jeff Toobin, all part, of course, of the best political team on television.

Jack, that new poll you talked about earlier shows Barack Obama cutting the lead to nine points, at least in that one poll. So one would assume he's making up support somewhere. Is it among these critical white, working class men?

CAFFERTY: Well, it may be. And one of the reasons that it might be -- remember when the National Archives released Hillary Clinton's schedules back when she was first lady of the United States?

According to Associated Press, those records of her daily schedule show that she hosted at least five meetings in 1993 trying to win Congressional approval of NAFTA.

Now she's been saying that she's opposed to NAFTA. But according to the National Archives, she hosted these five meetings urging its passage. NAFTA, of course, was born during the administration of her husband, Bill Clinton.

I don't know if this rises to the level of a Bosnia moment, but something isn't kosher here. And I don't know if the people in Pennsylvania might be picking up on that or not.

But he is closing the lead in the polls. And if he can pick up a few of these white male, unemployed folks, who are furious about the jobs that disappeared as a result of some of these trade agreements, he might -- he might be in pretty good shape.

KING: Well, Gloria, these were the voters that delivered her surprise in New Hampshire -- white, working class males. And she needs them very much to keep her survival out of Pennsylvania.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: She does. And if she can combine these white, working class men with older women, then she will do really well. I mean Barack Obama's strength has been with African-Americans. And when he wins primaries, it's because he wins some of these white men over. So that's why you've seen him out drinking beer.

You know, the irony here is that the African-American candidate in this race is the candidate of the elite voters and the woman candidate is the candidate who appeals more to the lower income voters. He's got to get some of those away from her.

KING: It has been striking, Jeff, on the point Gloria just made, we're used to seeing him in these mega crowds and rock star rallies. And now we're seeing him bowling. The ball may be ending up in the gutter, but he's out there bowling.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: And he's sipping his beer.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: No, I mean, the defining image, I think, that we all have of the Obama campaign is Obama talking about hope in front of 10,000 college students who are just eating it up. And I think he's decided that it is worth being known as America's worst bowler to change that image somewhat --

(LAUGHTER)

BORGER: Right.

CAFFERTY: That's good.

TOOBIN: And say, look, I am not just someone who appeals to college students. I care about your concerns, as well. He's -- I mean, look, his campaign isn't stupid. They know they need those votes. And this is how they're going to get them.

BORGER: You know, you do have to give him some credit, though. Because I'm so used to politicians dressing like the people they're trying to appeal to and Barack Obama is always in his white shirt and his sort of cool ice blue or cool slate gray tie and doesn't change what he's wearing. I mean we've seen so many politicians who go bowling in the work shirt...

CAFFERTY: Yes. BORGER: ...and the rest, because they want to look like those people. And at least he hasn't done that.

KING: Maybe if he wins, he'll wear those...

CAFFERTY: I'll bet he doesn't wear those bowling shoes.

KING: Maybe he'll wear those bowling shoes to the inaugural if he wins.

BORGER: Right. Maybe.

(LAUGHTER)

BORGER: If he wins.

KING: Let's move on to another subject.

Another Hillary Clinton ad out. She clearly wants to make the case that if the phone rings at 3:00 a.m. at the White House, she'll answer it, whatever the issue is. This time her target is not Barack Obama and national security, it's John McCain and the economy.

Let's listen a little.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP CLINTON CAMPAIGN AD)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's 3:00 a.m. and your children are safe and asleep. But there's a phone ringing in the White House. And this time the crisis is economic -- home foreclosures mounting, markets teetering.

John McCain just said the government shouldn't take any real action in the housing crisis. He'd let the phone keep ringing.

Hillary Clinton...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Jack, I'm not sure why they couldn't call about the mortgage crisis between 9:00 to 5:00, when the (INAUDIBLE).

CAFFERTY: Well, it might not be the mortgage crisis.

KING: ...but what's the point here?

CAFFERTY: You know, it might be a 3:00 a.m. call from some of these campaign venders who haven't been paid trying to catch them at home so they can get their money.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Next?

TOOBIN: Well, no, doesn't it just raise the question -- I mean I don't think I'm being overly literal. I mean we all had sort of had the same reaction, is don't they deal with financial matters during the day?

And you're so busy thinking about that, it's hard to absorb the message of the ad.

BORGER: I think the ad has almost become a parody of itself. And maybe this is what the Clinton campaign intended, because they knew you were going to pay attention because you've heard so much about it. But enough.

KING: Enough? OK. Enough for this segment but.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: But we'll be right back. Everybody stand by. Don't go anywhere.

Barack Obama suggesting a possible cabinet role, if he wins, for none other than Al Gore. We'll have details of what he said that has political junkies buzzing.

Plus, John McCain drops some tantalizing hints about a possible running mate. We'll have details of his short -- or maybe not so short -- list.

Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL)

KING: A role for Al Gore in an Obama administration?

We're back with the best political team on television -- CNN senior political analyst Gloria Borger, CNN's Jack Cafferty and CNN's senior analyst, Jeff Toobin.

This will be the rocket round. We have a lot of ground to cover in just a last few minutes.

Let's listen to this -- Barack Obama asked at a rally earlier today, would you make Al Gore your global warming czar?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Al Gore will be at the at the table and play a central part in us figuring out how we solve this problem. He's somebody I talk to on a regular basis.

(APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: You know, he's somebody that I talk to on a regular basis. I'm already consulting with him in terms of these issues.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Jack, any chance Al Gore would take an official role in any future administration?

CAFFERTY: He'll be Barack Obama's secretary of greenhouse gas.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: OK.

BORGER: I think he will. You know, I've talked to people close to Al Gore and one role somebody suggested to me is as U.N. representative, because he could deal with global warming matters on an international scale, wouldn't have to be in the White House or near the White House.

But what Obama really wanted to do today, John, was to let you know that he talks all the time to Al Gore -- and maybe Hillary doesn't.

KING: Jeff, do you think that's at all feasible?

TOOBIN: I do, actually. And don't rule out secretary of state, either. Al Gore hasn't given up his interest in politics. And to get anything done about global warming, you've got to change the American government. And I think he'd be game for several jobs.

KING: Let's shift gears to the Republicans.

John McCain says today he has a list of about 20 names. He says it's very early in the process and he'd like to get this over with early. Jack, are you on that list?

CAFFERTY: No. But you know who's not on the list either are all his aides who were passing around the nitroglycerin tablets when he was giving that interview today. Did they not want him to do that -- and you could hear it in the room, like please don't do this.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: So why would he do it, Gloria?

BORGER: Well, because he's John McCain and he's on the old Straight Talk Express and sometimes he talks a bit too much. And he's the first one to tell you that. And I'll tell you who's campaigning to be vice president is -- with him is Mitt Romney. He wants it really badly.

KING: So what does he need, Jeff -- not necessarily who does he need, what does he need?

TOOBIN: Well, I think he needs someone who is a credible president. I think that's always important for a vice president. But here particularly important for a 72-year-old cancer survivor. And he's got to have someone who is ready to be president. And I think that's going to be the most important thing, rather than geographical balance, ideological balance. Someone who will look to the American people like he or she could take over.

KING: You mentioned ideological --

CAFFERTY: Look, after Dick Cheney, the standards aren't very high.

BORGER: Well, it --

KING: Jeff, mentions the ideological balance. That is a question that comes up when anybody is picking a running mate.

BORGER: Sure.

KING: And one of the questions for McCain came back to the floor today, if you will, with this criticism from Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family saying not only will he not vote for McCain, but he thinks McCain is fracturing the Republican Party.

Let's listen. Dana Bash brought this up on McCain's bus with the senator. Let's listen to his response.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You said you have not spoken to Dr. Dobson. Given -- I mean, I know, I understand he's one person. But he's got a lot -- he's got a big radio show and all of his publications.

MCCAIN: Yes, sure. Sure.

BASH: ...to Republicans, conservative Democrats.

Why not, you know, pick up the phone and call him and just try to make peace?

MCCAIN: Well, if Dr. Dobson wanted to speak to me, I would be more than -- I'd be glad to speak to him. I just feel that I -- I'm doing what is necessary to keep our party united and to win in November.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Jack, why not, at some time other than 3:00 a.m. pick up the phone and call Dr. Dobson and try to quiet one of your critics?

CAFFERTY: Well, because that's not John McCain's nature. John McCain thinks they should come knocking on his door. David Letterman characterized John McCain last night as looking like the guy at the hardware store that makes the keys.

(LAUGHTER)

CAFFERTY: And based on that sound bite we just saw, Letterman might be onto something.

BORGER: Well, you know, that's what people like about him and that's what they don't like about him. There are lots of conservatives who say to McCain directly not only should you call Dr. Dobson, but you should have called Rush Limbaugh a long time ago. And he's not going to do that. And, quite frankly, maybe he'll appoint somebody who will be more amenable to conservatives. But he's also right now trying to attract those Independent voters.

KING: Net gain or net minus?

TOOBIN: Oh, I think it's -- well, my take on the whole Dobson thing is that his supporters are not voting for Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama under any circumstances. But they are also not giving money to John McCain in the amounts or the numbers that he needs. John McCain is doing lousy in fundraising. And that's because the base is not really mobilized. They'll vote for him, but they're not giving him money.

KING: And the...

CAFFERTY: You know, the big money guys that put Bush in office are absent, right, Jeff, so far?

TOOBIN: Well, and -- but he's missing on both ends.

CAFFERTY: Yes.

TOOBIN: The big money people and, you know, the Internet givers who have turned Barack Obama into this unprecedented phenomenon.

BORGER: But --

CAFFERTY: Yes.

TOOBIN: And he also needs to pay attention to conservatives because he needs them to turn out. If they sit at home, it is a real problem for him. Remember Bob Dole in 1996 -- conservatives stayed home and how did that go for Bob Dole? Not too well.

KING: And so is it -- is the -- Jack raised the Bush fundraising thing and that's a fact. Is it that he's not a member of the club, that he sometimes shoves at his own party, he's deliberately a maverick sometimes or is it his issues positions? Is it just a combination of personality?

CAFFERTY: You know, it's probably a combination of a lot of things. He's made some enemies along the way because he's gone back and forth across the aisle on some stuff. He doesn't have the conservatives in his corner. And I think some of the big money guys that engineered the Bush deal, they're not convinced he can win yet. And until they can -- until they can be convinced he can be president, they're not going to go to the hip for him.

TOOBIN: And he's also so identified with the Iraq War, that is not especially popular among big business people or the conservative base.

KING: Sure.

TOOBIN: I mean that is not a net gain for him at any level with any group.

BORGER: But I also think that a lot of big money is holding back on the Republican side, waiting to see just who John McCain is running against. And if John McCain is running against Hillary Clinton, I think there might be some more people who are willing to put some money out there because they don't like her -- not that they like Barack Obama. But I think they're kind of holding back, just trying to see how this race shapes up...

KING: All right...

BORGER: ...and who he picks as vice president.

KING: And we will hold back for a day on that last point.

Gloria Borger, Jack Cafferty, Jeff Toobin, thank you all very much.

And Lou Dobbs is getting ready for his show right at the top of the hour.

Lou, tell us what you're working on.

LOU DOBBS, HOST, "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT": John, thank you.

It could be a problem, couldn't it, if they have to wait until the Democratic convention...

(LAUGHTER)

DOBBS: That would be a real problem for Senator McCain.

Coming up at 7:00 Eastern here on CNN, we'll have much more on this presidential campaign.

Also tonight, seething anger among homeowners at the Bush administration's failure to help them in our foreclosure crisis. The administration quick to bail out a Wall Street firm, but what about our middle class?

And the White House determined to ram its free trade agenda down the throats of Congress and the American people. We'll have an exclusive interview with the U.S. trade represent, Susan Schwab, the only member of this administration with the guts to talk straight to me on this broadcast about policies and what we disagree about.

And rising concerns about the health and safety of two former Border Patrol Agents serving harsh prison sentences for doing their jobs. An outrageous miscarriage of justice now before the appellate court. We'll have the latest on that story.

And we'll be joined by one of the country's leading authorities on autism, Dr. Thomas Insel. He's director of the National Institute of Mental Health. We'll be talking about this rapidly advancing and spreading disease.

Join us for all of that and more at the top of the hour -- John, back to you.

KING: Sounds like a great mix. Lou, we'll see you in about 15 minutes.

And next, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson joins us live right here in THE SITUATION ROOM to respond to the Clintons' reported anger over his endorsement of Barack Obama.

And America's image -- it's improving overseas, at least slightly. That's according to a new poll.

The question this hour -- why? Jack Cafferty will be back with your e-mail.

Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're getting a strong new taste of the Clinton campaign's anger at New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson.

Hillary Clinton supporter, James Carville, famously likened him to Judas after the governor endorsed Barack Obama. And now Bill Clinton himself apparently is speaking out about his sense of betrayal.

Governor Bill Richardson joins us live right now in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Governor, thank you for joining us, for starters.

The "San Francisco Chronicle" has a story in the newspaper today that while Bill Clinton was out in California for the state Democratic convention over the weekend, he has a private meeting with superdelegates. Somebody brings up their anger at the fact that James Carville likened you to Judas, expecting maybe Bill Clinton would talk about that.

Instead, according to this account, he gets red-faced and he turns to this woman and he says, this "Five times to my face, Richardson said that he would never do that."

Is that true?

GOV. BILL RICHARDSON (D), NEW MEXICO: No. And the Clintons should get over this. I mean I did this endorsement 10 days ago. I've tried to stay above it. I feel that my loyalty is to the country. I served in President Clinton's cabinet. I like the Clintons. I respect Senator Clinton. But, you know, I was in the race myself. And I felt for the larger good -- my loyalty is to the country and I feel that Obama...

KING: Let me --

RICHARDSON: ...by far, is the strongest candidate and can bring this country together.

KING: I want to get to the by far part and why you think that's the case. I didn't mean to interrupt you, sir, but he didn't say one time, where you might have a misunderstanding. He says, "five times to my face."

Did you promise him anything that he could have missed?

RICHARDSON: No. No, I never did. And I never saw him five times. I saw him once when he came to New Mexico to watch the Super Bowl with me. And we made it very clear to him that he shouldn't expect an endorsement after that meeting. And at one point, I was very close to endorsing Senator Clinton, but I held back. I waited. I felt the campaign got nasty. I heard Senator Obama. He would talk to me continuously.

I feel that he brings something special to bring the country together. And I endorsed Senator Obama. And I called Senator Clinton and told her. It was a tough conversation, but I think I've been totally upfront.

KING: We talked about that, a very difficult conversation, that on the day you endorsed, you were on this program and we talked about that with Senator Clinton.

Have you spoken to President Clinton since the endorsement?

RICHARDSON: No. No. No, I haven't. No, I haven't. He's probably upset. And I understand that because, you know, this is a tough game. But we've got to get over it. We've got to get positive. We've got to start talking about the issues.

I think the fact that there's no primaries for a while breeds this negativity. And what we have right now in the Democratic Party is too many personal attacks, too many Carville-like individuals trying to disrupt the issues.

KING: Let's --

RICHARDSON: We should be talking about ending the war. We should be talking about the economy. We should be talking about universal health care. Instead, we're talking about these little totally unnecessary shots at (INAUDIBLE).

KING: But let's talk about them a little bit more. And while you call them unnecessary, I think they are a telling indication of the tension, the crackling tension between the campaigns that many think could be lasting and damage the party come November, no matter who wins. And you mentioned Jim Carville.

Let's mention -- this is James Carville, a Clinton supporter, of course, and a contributor to this network, said this to "The New York Times" on March 22, "Mr. Richardson's endorsement came right around the anniversary of the day when Judas sold out for 30 pieces of silver. So I think the timing is appropriate, if ironic."

So he's not only calling you Judas, he's essentially saying you sold your endorsement. RICHARDSON: Well, you know, there was no promise of anything. The Clinton organization -- Clinton cabinet members, they'd all call me, put pressure -- in some cases, that I was -- that it was inappropriate, that I owed this to the Clintons. Obama would call me himself, every other day. And we'd talk, a good conversation.

I decided to go with Senator Obama because I think he can bring the country together, because I think there's something very good and special about this guy. And I'm going to campaign very hard for him.

My problem is that you're right, John, it's gotten too negative. We need to decide who the nominee is. And I'm not suggesting Senator Clinton get out of the race. She's run a good, strong race. And, by the way, I think Obama is picking up in Pennsylvania.

But we should finish these primaries. There are 10 left. June 3 is the last one. But shortly thereafter, I think the party, the superdelegates, party leaders should come together and say this bloodletting, this enormous division, this gulf between the top two candidates that have run two great races, needs to end. We need to come together.

John McCain is out in California. He's campaigning as a statesman. He's thinking about a vice president already and we're fighting each other. We need to end this.

KING: When you endorsed Senator Obama, you said this, "I endorsed Senator Obama because I believe he has the judgment, temperament and background to bridge our divisions as a nation make America strong at home and respected in the world again."

I believe he has the judgment temperament. Does Hillary Clinton not have the temperament to be president?

RICHARDSON: Yes, no, she does, too. And she has the judgment. She has the experience. I just believe that Obama has something unique -- the ability to project an image internationally of an America that be wants to come together and lead with moral authority. Look at what Obama did with the race issue. His pastor made some very horrendous statements.

KING: And Harold Ickes, who works for the Clinton campaign, is making phone calls to superdelegates mentioning those statements, saying this is going to hurt him in the general election, this will be used against him.

RICHARDSON: Well, my point here is that Obama could have given a measly weasley speech. But instead he said, yes, this is a problem in our country. We stereotype racism. We have to get away from that. We have to have a dialogue. He faced the problem directly.

That's what we need. We need reconciliation. We need healing. We need somebody that can bring races and groups and internationally project an image of a moral America. And I think this is the guy, Barack Obama.

KING: We need to stop there for this day.

But Governor Richardson, thanks for stopping in to join with us.

A turnaround for the United States of America -- a new poll suggests America's image is improving in many countries overseas.

Jack Cafferty is asking why on your e-mails. That's just ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: And Jack Cafferty joins us again -- hey, Jack.

CAFFERTY: John, the question this hour is: A new poll suggests America's image is improving in many countries overseas.

Why? Here is some of what you've written.

Chryssa in Idaho writes: "Other countries are just as excited about 2008 as we are. Obama's success in particular sends a clear message to the rest of the world -- we are not accurately represented by old, white, Christian men. That's not who America is and we will no longer let them speak for us."

Tanilan writes: "I really don't think our image is on the mend. I think our image is tarnished by the last eight years of this administration and to fix it will takes years and years of change in the way American society thinks and in the way Washington operates."

Greg in Pennsylvania: "Just as I feel relieved when a CIA interrogator stops waterboarding me, so the world breaths a sigh of relief as the Bush/Cheney administration comes to an end. The world is hopeful. It sees at least two of the three possible presidents will be a vast improvement over the idiocy that characterized American domestic and foreign policy over the last seven plus years. I hope we don't disappointment the world again come November."

Jo Anne writes: "My husband and I just returned from two weeks in Greece. At an Internet cafe in Aracoba (ph), a gentleman asked us where were from. When I said the United States, he raised his right arm and with a big smile said, 'Obama. Yes.' I think that's the answer to your question."

And Mike in New York writes: "What exactly was it we were -- when, rather, was exactly was it we were well liked and respected in the world community? Ever since 1776, we've been viewed as upstarts and loose cannons by the civilized world -- except, of course, when they needed us to save them from the Kaiser, the fuhrer and the Kremlin. Of course, they still didn't like us even then. They just accepted our help."

If you didn't see your e-mail here, you can go to my blog at CNN.com/caffertyfile and look for yours and hundreds of others which are posted there. It is a big, busy place, John, that blog.

KING: A big demonstration of full-fledged democracy.

CAFFERTY: Yes, that, too.

KING: That, too.

Jack Cafferty, thank you.

And before we go, here's a look at some of this hours Hot Shots coming in from the Associated Press.

In Philadelphia, Senator Barack Obama leans over the counter at a specialty foods store. He took a walk through the center of the city's Italian market section earlier today. Good eats there.

In Pittsburgh, Senator Hillary Clinton takes a closer look at a red solution. The lab she's visiting specializes in adult stem cell research for diabetes and healing wounds.

In Baltimore, Senator John McCain pays for some Girl Scout cookies. He opted for thin mints, also good eats.

And in Eastern Pennsylvania, a young Democrat naps as Obama speaks at a town hall.

I can't blame him for that.

That's this hour's Hot Shots -- pictures often worth a thousand words.

You've helped make our pod cast one of the most popular on iTunes. Go see it at CNNPolitics.com.

And thanks for joining us. I'm John King.

"LOU DOBBS" starts right now.

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