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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Obama Takes North Carolina

Aired May 6, 2008 - 22:00   ET

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


JAMAL SIMMONS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: We have seen that already right now with the numbers we just saw with independents, 53 percent of independents going for Barack Obama. The question is, why can't Hillary Clinton close with independents? She doesn't have an advantage there.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Lanny, I know you want to respond to that.

LANNY DAVIS, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: Are you sure you want me to respond to that?

COOPER: Not really, but...

(LAUGHTER)

COOPER: ... I want to give you an opportunity.

(LAUGHTER)

DAVIS: Well, I -- I'm going to talk about Senator Clinton a little bit.

First of all, the rules say that the majority of delegates will carry the nomination. And although John King constantly refers to the number of delegates elected out of the states, the rules don't say pledged delegates or unpledged delegates. They say delegates.

So, until Barack Obama wins all the delegates, including the unpledged delegates, he's not the nominee. And what unpledged delegates are looking at are national polling data that shows, in Ohio, in Pennsylvania, and in Florida, Barack Obama is not defeating John McCain, or is very close to John McCain, whereas Hillary Clinton is carrying those three battleground states.

In the state of Massachusetts, Barack Obama, in the latest Massachusetts poll in April, was in a dead heat with John McCain, the most reliably Democratic state in the last 50 years. Senator Clinton in the same poll is ahead 15.

So, what the unpledged delegates, who are not on the scenarios that I just saw CNN refer to over and over again tonight, those unpledged delegates are asking themselves two questions. One, who is going to make the best president based upon experience and trustworthiness in the position of president? And, secondly, who can best defeat John McCain? Those of us who still see Senator Clinton winning in the major battleground states are looking to defeat Senator McCain. And the jury is still out whether Senator Obama can defeat Senator McCain.

David Gergen, I do want to give you a chance to join in here, since it's your first time in -- on our panel.

(LAUGHTER)

COOPER: The importance of tonight moving forward?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Oh, thank you.

Listen, let me respond to my good friend, Lanny Davis. I have -- give him enormous respect. Listen, Senator Clinton has become a much stronger candidate over the last few weeks. I think she is doing a superlative job appealing to low-income, lower-income working-class people. And I think she's been very aggressive on that. And her numbers have come up in the national polls. She is showing better at the moment after the Reverend Wright affair against -- against John McCain.

I think most of us think those are probably temporary numbers. But the critical point is, four times now in this campaign, we have come up to the brink and each time she's been successful. Tonight, we came up to the brink, and she was not successful in the way she needed to be successful. She need to win both states in order to clinch the nomination, and she did not. In fact, she was denied big-time in North Carolina.

I think the nomination is now within his grasp. He's not there yet. There's more to be fought out, but it is -- it is inconceivable to see a path at the end of the time of pledged delegates how she will be ahead. He will be ahead. And he will be ahead -- he's now expanded his margin on the votes. I don't see how the superdelegates take this away from an African-American candidate who is ahead in pledged delegates, when the African-Americans make up 25 percent of the Democratic Party.

COOPER: Some of the things that Lanny was talking about, John King is actually at the delegate board, or the magic map, whatever we're calling it now, with a look at the delegate count.

John, let's -- what -- what do you got?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I want to show you the graph, Anderson, of how the delegates break down right now.

And no offense to Lanny, who is a friend and someone I have known for many years -- and I don't have a horse in this race -- I'm just trying to reflect the math, as the numbers stand, and what superdelegates and other people tell us when we call them -- but let's look at the math right now. And Lanny is right. It is not over until it's over, but the math for Senator Clinton was daunting coming into tonight. And the point we have been making, using this throughout the night, is that it's more daunting at the moment, given the margin of his victory in North Carolina tonight.

Here is what is left. This is the finish line out here to win the nomination, the red line. The yellow line -- the gold line and green line -- excuse me -- is where we are at the moment. And this is what is left. And it is a shrinking pool of delegates that is left. So, let us say, for the sake of argument, that Senator Clinton won, say, 60 percent or so of the remaining delegates.

So, let's come across somewhere in here. This is giving her even more than 60 percent of the remaining delegates. We will put them up here to Senator Clinton. Let's give the rest to Senator Obama. That, I think even Lanny Davis would agree, is a generous allocation to Senator Clinton looking at the contests going forward. That would mean big margins in West Virginia, big margins in Kentucky, better than she now polls in places like Oregon and out West, and a very big victory in Puerto Rico.

I think that's a pretty generous allocation. I don't think anyone in the Clinton campaign could argue with that. Then you get to this qualification here, 270 or so superdelegates who would make the ultimate decision. And Lanny Davis is right. The Clinton campaign is spreading those polls out to those superdelegates. And, yet, they have not come out and publicly endorsed, despite seeing all that evidence in recent weeks.

Why? They wanted to see what happened in North Carolina tonight. They wanted to see what happened in Indiana tonight. And many will wait to see what happens in the remaining contests. But the math for Senator Clinton is quite daunting.

If they just split the superdelegates in half -- and, again, that's a little more than half for Senator Clinton -- we put that up here, and we take this number and we come down here -- Barack Obama is at the finish line, just barely, but he's at the finish line, splitting them in half.

And, so, it's not impossible for Senator Clinton, but the math is increasingly daunting for her. And to David Gergen's point, one of the trouble -- you can talk to superdelegates who will tell you they believe Obama is stumbling at the end and is somewhat hurt at the end, although they will look at tonight and see if perhaps he improved his standing. But they make the point, if he's leading in pledged delegates, if he's leading in the popular vote at the end of the contest, they say Michigan and Florida broke the rules.

Maybe that's a travesty, but they broke the rules. What do they do? How do they take it away from somebody who, by the math, is ahead?

COOPER: Interesting looking at the board, John. Stay by the board.

I want to bring in Lanny. Lanny, your thoughts on what John has just been -- the math he's been -- how does that math jibe with your math?

DAVIS: First of all, John King is a friend. And I know he's a good journalist. But I do think he has assumptions in his reporting that I simply disagree with, respectfully. And I also disagree with my good friend David Gergen.

First, let's start with what happened tonight. If Senator Clinton wins Indiana, Senator Obama said that Indiana was going to be won by himself. In fact, he said it would be the tiebreaker. That's a direct quote: She will win Pennsylvania. I will win North Carolina, where he's been ahead by 20 percent to 25 percent, the same percent that Senator Obama kept using about Pennsylvania.

And it looks like she's now closing down to at least the teens. In Indiana, she -- if she wins in Indiana, that is the failure of Senator Obama to win a state that he thought he would win, that he should have won, but, yet, on tonight's program, it looks like we're not talking about what he previously said about Indiana.

The other thing, John, I respectfully disagree with, with Clinton, folks would say, is that Michigan and Florida are in play because Senator Obama prevented the revote. That is a fact. There would have been a mail or a firehouse primary in Michigan or in Florida if the Obama campaign had gone arm and arm with the Clinton campaign, which invited them to do so, raised the money, and let Florida and Michigan vote again, if they had any objections to having them be seated in Florida.

Everyone was on the ballot. Senator Obama broke the rules and advertised in Florida the week before, and Hillary Clinton won by 500,000 votes. The Clinton campaign was willing to have a revote in Florida and Michigan.

So, John, with all due respect, there is a respectful disagreement when you say they're not following the rules, yet, the Obama campaign wants new rules that the elected pledged delegates have to govern the superdelegates, that they're not allowed to disagree and look at who can defeat John McCain.

So, there's least some other way of looking at this election tonight. If we win in Indiana, David, my friend, I think we have had a great night, that we did not allow Barack Obama to win in Indiana, with all the advantages. He outspent us 3-1.

So, anyway, thank you for letting me speak for so long, Anderson.

(LAUGHTER)

COOPER: Well, you're on for another couple hours. So, we will have plenty more.

(LAUGHTER)

COOPER: David, I want to give you a chance to respond, and also Jamal.

GERGEN: Well, look, if these were the early primaries, I would say, yes, good night. She got one. He got one, yes, and she took one away that he might have won.

We're no longer in the early primaries. We're close to the end of this process. She's in a position where she has to take it away from him. He has this large lead in pledged delegates, and she needed both states.

COOPER: But let's talk specifically to Lanny's points, number one, about Indiana. Barack Obama once said that he would win Indiana.

GERGEN: Well, yes, but they both have been guilty of that over time.

You know, we thought that -- we were proclaiming here on this show this huge victory that she got in Pennsylvania. It turned out it was a 9 percent victory. It wasn't a huge victory. It was a very solid victory. You have got to give her credit for that.

But I think this notion that he said it would be a tiebreaker, a tiebreaker between, what was it, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, North Carolina. What was the tiebreaker about? He's not going to go because he said it was a tiebreaker. He's -- she's got to beat him in the votes, and she's not doing that.

COOPER: Jamal Simmons, an Obama supporter, what about the Michigan and Florida delegates being seated?

SIMMONS: Yes.

COOPER: And what about the idea that -- that, you know, Hillary Clinton wanted a revote, and Barack Obama basically has made that impossible.

SIMMONS: Here's the problem for the Clinton campaign.

They want to come back in and change all this at the end of the game, at the end of the day. So, they want to say, well, if Michigan counts and if Florida counts.

Well, you know what? If my aunt had a male appendage, she would be my uncle.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

GERGEN: You keep going down that line.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

DONNA BRAZILE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: We're now into biology. COOPER: This is like...

BRAZILE: Change the subject.

COOPER: ... Election Center late night.

(LAUGHTER)

SIMMONS: It doesn't matter. I mean, like, if we counted "American Idol" votes, if we counted straw poll votes. I mean, they don't matter, according to the rules.

So, what we have got to get back to. We have got to get back to what Barack Obama is doing, which is, he's changed his tone and started talking more about the economy, started talking -- he made a very clear dividing line here with the issue of the gas tax. And what it shows is that 60 percent of people in this last poll from "The New York Times" a few days ago said they believe that Senator Clinton was using the gas tax for political purposes, not because she actually meant it. That is a very key point in the election between the two...

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Just before -- I do want to bring in a Republican strategist in a moment.

But since this is very specific on superdelegates and what's happening in Michigan and Florida, as a superdelegate, Donna Brazile, how important is Michigan and Florida, those delegates being seated, to you?

BRAZILE: Well, first of all, it means a great deal to the Democratic Party, not as a partisan for Senator Obama or Senator Clinton, but as a member of the rules...

COOPER: But does get Barack Obama get the blame, as the Clinton people would...

(CROSSTALK)

BRAZILE: I said not as a partisan for either side. I'm a member of the rules committee. I wear a couple of wigs, as you can tell.

(LAUGHTER)

BRAZILE: And, on May 31, Howard Dean has called a meeting of the rules committee. And one of the things that we will take up is the seating of the Florida and Michigan delegation.

Howard Dean, the chair of the Democratic Party, has pledged to seat those delegations. Now, I don't know what the format will look like. And I'm not interested in blaming Obama or Clinton. I'm not interested in who ran CNN or MSNBC ads. I'm interested in figuring out a way to give them a seat at the table, resolve this, so that we can unify the party.

COOPER: All right.

We're going to take a short break.

CNNPolitics.com has a lot more coverage.

We're going to come back. We will talk to a Republican strategist.

We're talking wigs. We're talking appendages.

(LAUGHTER)

COOPER: Who knows where the conversation will go next? We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back.

We're still not able to project a winner in Indiana. It's very close right now, 52 percent to 48 percent, Hillary Clinton still on top. But -- and it's a huge but -- there's one county in the northwestern part of the state where the results haven't come in yet. And that's a county where Barack Obama, John, is expected to do well.

KING: He is expected to do well. All of the drama, Wolf, in Indiana now being caused by Lake County. It is about 8 percent of the state's population. It includes the city of Gary and Hammond. It is just a short drive from Chicago. Barack Obama's home base.

So, the expectation is, this is a place with a significant African-American population, where Obama should do well. Why is it completely white on this map? Because local officials are saying there are 11,300 and an odd number -- 11,307 absentee ballots that they are counting, and they say they will not release any results from the county until the absentee ballot count is completed.

And, to add to the drama, they say it could be midnight before they have this count and therefore, then release the results. Now, why does that matter?

Let's zoom back out to the statewide. Also some votes being counted down here in Marion County, Barack Obama winning 67 percent to 33 percent. Based on our model of turnout across the rest of the state, it is our estimate that Barack Obama would have to win about 57 percent of the vote in Lake County if the turnout is about where we expect it to be.

So, can he do it? Yes, he can mathematically. Will he do it? The math would suggest to you Senator Clinton has done well surrounding it. Probably not. But, mathematically, it is possible. And we need to wait. And this county is different from these neighboring counties because of the African-American population in Gary.

So, you might say, oh, look, that area is for Clinton. This area is different demographically. It does favor Barack Obama. Very difficult math, but it is still possible, which is why we have not called this election.

The rest of the state, Wolf, there's a very tiny county here, Union County. It won't make much of a difference, because it is so small. It is one of these rural areas where Senator Clinton, though, is, to her credit, doing very well. These running up huge margins in these rural counties, but look at the number of votes being cast, not a lot. Could in the end -- if it's very, very close, could matter.

But this is the big question mark right now. And, again, we are told, because of the slow absentee ballot count, they will not release any of the results in Lake County. It is the closest county to Chicago, Barack Obama's home base.

BLITZER: And it's the second largest county in the state.

KING: Second largest county in the state. And the largest county is -- we asked the question, if he needs 57 percent of the vote, can he do that? That's a pretty high number.

Well, this -- Marion County, the biggest county in the state, another county with an African-American base, one of the few places in Indiana with an African-American, modest, but a base, indicate Barack Obama is getting 67 percent as we get close to 100 percent there. So, it is mathematically possible, a difficult challenge for Barack Obama, who said earlier tonight that he expected Senator Clinton to carry the state.

But, at 52 percent to 48 percent right now, we are waiting on Lake County, and it looks like we might be waiting a while.

BLITZER: And then once they dump those numbers, that could change the bottom line. We will see how much it changes it. But we will watch it very, very closely.

And, as you say, it could be a long time. And we're waiting also, John, to hear from Senator Clinton. I assume she's awaiting to deliver her remarks in Indianapolis. And she wants to know what's going to happen before she speaks there.

KING: I assume she knows what we know now. If they're saying that they won't release this until after 11:00, and probably not until midnight, and, so they have the countdown, I suspect Senator Clinton wants to address her supporters.

I'm guessing that one of the reasons she's running a little later than she expected, because she was hoping to know those numbers. Now that it looks like it could be midnight, I suspect we will hear from Senator Clinton relatively soon.

BLITZER: All right, we will watch -- we will watch Lake County in Indiana very, very closely.

John, thanks very much.

Let's go back to Anderson and the best political team on television -- Anderson.

COOPER: Wolf, John, thanks very much.

I'm joined by Alex Castellanos, Republican strategist, and Leslie Sanchez, Republican strategist.

Leslie, when you heard Barack Obama's speech, he talks about, we know what's coming. He talks about the attempts to play on our fears, clearly talking about John McCain and clearly talking about attack ads that will be run against him.

Do you think Barack Obama really has a sense of what's coming, or have we not seen the full playbook of what is going to be run against him?

LESLIE SANCHEZ, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I think it's hard to look at what he's faced with respect to the Hillary Clinton -- or the Bill and Hillary Clinton campaign and think he doesn't know what's coming.

But I do feel that the general election is going to be very different. It's going to different in tone, ideological, and definitely as in message.

But I do want to point to one thing when we're talking about Lake County. I think an important thing with respect to where this Reverend Wright issue is going to come up, and does it come up again, that's a media market that has been saturated with Reverend Wright.

COOPER: Sure.

SANCHEZ: You have had dramatic Yahoo! buzz and searches with men particularly who are looking at Reverend Wright. While they're looking for Hillary Clinton, they're still looking at the gas tax holiday. They don't know who he is. There's a lot of positive and negatives.

In an area he should do well in, there's a very strong likelihood he may not. And I think that's an indicator of will this Reverend Wright issue have legs. And I think many people believe it will.

COOPER: Alex, you have no doubt it will have legs in a general election if Barack Obama does in fact get to a general election?

CASTELLANOS: I think -- I think Hillary Clinton has run a very Republican campaign against Barack Obama in a Democratic primary, and has basically split the vote here at the tail end. And that's going to have lasting impact in a general election.

But, tonight, I think the news -- tonight is a big night in American politics. Tonight is, if not the end of the Clinton era, it's the beginning of the end of the Clinton era of American politics, at least for the time being.

Barack Obama gave an acceptance speech. He basically embraced the nomination. And I don't think the Clintons have a rationale to go forward. So, how they do that -- how they do that is... (CROSSTALK)

CASTELLANOS: I think the only guy who can actually bring this to a close for them may be -- irony of ironies -- Al Gore. They may have to call on the old Nobel Prize winner to come in and say, you know, it's time to move forward, as much as I would love to see this go forward.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: That seems like a fantasy. I mean, that doesn't seem like anything based on reality.

You're shaking your head, Donna Brazile.

(CROSSTALK)

CASTELLANOS: Everybody knows it's over but the Clintons.

BRAZILE: No.

(CROSSTALK)

BRAZILE: And it's too soon to wear our veil and put on our black, because this race will continue, regardless of the results in Indiana.

Look, Hillary Clinton is a -- we know this -- a tenacious fighter, and she will fight on to the bitter end.

COOPER: I want to bring -- I want to bring in Lanny Davis to response to what Alex said and what Leslie said.

But we have got to take a short break. And we will bring Lanny in right on the other side of this break.

We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: And welcome back. Our coverage continues, also continues online, CNNPolitics.com.

Before the break, Alex Castellanos, Republican strategist, talked about tonight as being the end of a Clinton era.

I think that was your term. Is that correct?

CASTELLANOS: I think so.

COOPER: Obviously, a lot of Clinton supporters beg to differ.

Lanny Davis is here with us by remote in Washington.

Lanny, your thoughts?

DAVIS: Thanks, Anderson.

First of all, every time I see a Republicans joyful about Senator Clinton losing one out of two states, I think to myself, why is this man so joyful? Yet, every private conversation that I have with some of the most senior Republicans that I hang out with in green rooms, such as at CNN, are telling me that there's no question that they believe the polling data that Hillary Clinton is the stronger candidate against Barack Obama, and the data says that. So, I haven't yet heard any...

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Against -- are you talking about John McCain or...

(CROSSTALK)

DAVIS: Against John McCain in the general election. She's actually ahead of Barack Obama in many national Democratic polls.

But, at least in the major states that I have described, the data says what it says. And most of the Republicans I talk to regard Senator Clinton's ability to appeal to working-class voters, the Democratic Party base since Franklin Roosevelt, and the way she's demonstrated the ability.

Why didn't Barack Obama close the deal tonight in Indiana? You look at that map. The entire map is Hillary Clinton, except for a few pockets. I think you have to ask yourself, from our perspective now -- this is a Hillary Clinton supporter -- why is it that Barack Obama can win states in narrow pockets of strength, and he's not winning the big states across the board, across all the voters that he has to win in a general election, not in a Democratic primary?

It's a fair question. And we're looking at the national convention and the superdelegates to answer that question. They want somebody who can defeat John McCain. And that's Hillary Clinton.

COOPER: David Gergen, as an observer, is that a fair question?

GERGEN: It's a fair question. But it's also a fair question, did these primaries have any meaning whatsoever? Have we have been through these last four months, and we're now to dismiss this as meaningless?

When one -- when you have two candidates who have fought with each other the way they have, and one candidate, at the end of the day, comes out 600,000 votes ahead of the other candidate, and comes out substantially ahead in pledged delegates, are we then to sort of throw that out, and say, well, that's irrelevant; the only thing that is relevant is the latest Gallup poll?

I mean, is that the -- is that the standard by which the parties play?

And the other thing I must say to my friend, Lanny Davis, look, I think it's been unfair to Hillary Clinton that Florida and Michigan did not vote properly. I think that she would have done well, and I think we might be sitting here tonight with her ahead in actual vote tallied. I think there's a very good argument to that effect.

But it's Michigan and Florida who screwed this up, not Barack Obama. And I do not understand why he would now -- and I hope this is -- if the Clinton people now plan to run a campaign saying Barack Obama is responsible for the fact that you're not having a chance to vote in Michigan and Florida, they are going to make this a much, much rougher campaign.

I would be really curious if Donna Brazile believes Barack Obama is the force responsible for not having votes in Michigan and Florida.

DAVIS: David, may I just...

BRAZILE: You know the answer to that.

And, Lanny, I have a lot of respect. But I think it's time that we begin, as a party, to look at how we bring the party together. I liked Senator Obama's speech tonight. I'm looking forward to what Senator Clinton has to say.

I thought her speech in Pennsylvania -- we talked about her speech. We talked about her tone, her tenacity a couple weeks ago in Pennsylvania. Let's see what she has to say tonight. Let's see what her chances going forward will be in earning the -- the remaining delegates, 217.

Lanny, you're right. Superdelegates like myself, we don't -- there are no rules as it relates to how we cast our ballots. We can vote one way today and change our ways tomorrow. But the truth is, is that 93 percent of the earned delegates have already been chosen, and Barack Obama currently leads in the earned delegates.

COOPER: I want to give Lanny a chance to respond, and then go on to Alex.

Lanny?

DAVIS: Well, I love Donna Brazile. It's hard for me to ever disagree with her.

COOPER: A lot of love in this -- in this area.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

BRAZILE: Lanny, you can disagree with me, honey.

(LAUGHTER)

BRAZILE: It's OK.

DAVIS: I strongly, strongly believe that the polling data we're looking at is the reason why Hillary Clinton is going to be the nominee, because we are going to the national convention. We're going to have to decide what to do about Florida and Michigan.

And the assumption in most of your data, that excludes them from your numbers, we, in the Clinton campaign, do not accept. And it is a fact that we could have had a revote. Senator Bill Nelson proposed a mail ballot and a firehouse primary. Senator Carl Levin and Senator -- and Governor Granholm proposed the same thing in Michigan.

We were ready to raise the money for both candidates to run and to have it out. Senator Obama's campaign opposed that. And that is an issue...

BRAZILE: You know, Lanny, I wish you would have been with us last August, when we avoided this train wreck.

I was there, Lanny.

DAVIS: Well, I'm talking about fixing the train wreck.

BRAZILE: I was there. And now it's "my candidate."

Let's talk about our party, Lanny, and what we do to bring the party together.

DAVIS: I'm just giving you my...

BRAZILE: I said on May 31, the Democratic Party will work with Senator Obama and Senator Clinton to come up with a resolution, Lanny.

Now, if you want to keep fighting, let's fight. But let's you and I go in the green room and fight, and not keep this fight up...

DAVIS: I'm not fighting with you, Donna.

COOPER: That's going to be available online.

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

BRAZILE: Well, because you are. You're fighting against the rules.

(LAUGHTER)

DAVIS: I lose that one.

BRAZILE: And the rules, Lanny, we want to make this work. And we can do this on May 31. Join with us, and let's work together.

COOPER: As a Republican strategist, you join in.

(CROSSTALK)

SANCHEZ: No, that's the biggest part of it.

I think that -- that a lot of the Hillary defenders are realizing it's going to end up being one of these things where superdelegates -- and call them what they are -- they're the party bosses, the union leaders, you know, basically these few select elitists are going to be making the decision, and so much for democracy. I'm telling you what a lot of folks have already said, it's going to take the jaws of life for Hillary Clinton to stop this campaign. She's going to go all the way, as far as she can.

CASTELLANOS: Lanny -- Lanny should be admired for trying to put the best face on what is admittedly a difficult situation tonight. But I'll take mild exception...

DAVIS: She has won in Indiana. Wait a minute.

CASTELLANOS: ... on the point he made, and that is that the data says that Hillary Clinton would be the best candidate. Look, the data says that Barack Obama has lost some support among working-class voters, and that may be a problem for him in the general election.

But if you look at the data, you also see that Hillary Clinton going into a general election with a divided Democratic Party from which she ripped the nomination out of Barack Obama's hand, would also be -- have liabilities in a general election.

I'm not sure you can look right now and say which one of these guys would be best for the general election.

COOPER: I mean, do polls at this point, in terms of what's going to happen in a general election, in a run-off between two candidates and a Republican candidate, does it even matter? I mean, at this point in the race when it was John Kerry and George Bush, I don't even know what the polls showed.

But what happens in a general election is so unique you can't really predict what's going to happen in polls.

GERGEN: And in June of 1992, Bill Clinton was running third behind George Bush and Ross Perot. And everything changed in the last two or three months, and he went ahead in June and he stayed ahead the rest of the time. You cannot make a prediction based on any poll -- Gallup polls.

COOPER: Lanny, I want to ask you. I want to know, your candidate, Hillary Clinton, we expect her to begin speaking any moment. So I may interrupt you for that or bring...

DAVIS: Please interrupt me. Go ahead.

COOPER: Interrupt me for Hillary.

DAVIS: Look, let's all agree on what we can agree on. Polls are snapshots of moving pictures. Of course the polls can change. But the demographic statistics of why Hillary Clinton won all the big states, from California to Massachusetts, and Massachusetts with everybody -- Senator Kennedy, Senator Kerry, the governor, supporting Senator Obama, he lost by 15 percent. Why did he lose Ohio? Why did he lose Pennsylvania? All for the same reason that he's going to lose, I believe, Indiana tonight. He has not connected with our base and that's why...

COOPER: Let me bring in Jamal Simmons, an Obama supporter. Jamal?

SIMMONS: I just have one question. Is there anybody here that believes Hillary Clinton is going to win white, working-class males in a general election? It's not going to happen. The Democrats haven't won white working-class males in the general election since 1964. It's just not going to happen.

In 2000, Al Gore won the state of New Hampshire in the primary. George Bush lost the state of New Hampshire to John McCain in the primary. George Bush beat Al Gore in the state of New Hampshire in the general election. Primary results are tenuously connected.

DAVIS: I can't resist asking Jamal, is there anybody here who thinks that Senator Obama will win in Idaho, Utah and Kansas where he's now down 30 points to McCain, even though he won those caucus states? That is -- that is not the argument.

SIMMONS: No, but Barack Obama is winning African-American votes 90-10, and Senator Clinton has got to make up that percentage. There will be no African-American voters -- are going to vote for Democrats in the general election.

COOPER: I want to bring in Roland Martin.

MARTIN: There are several things we have to recognize. First and foremost, Missouri is going to be in play. Virginia is going to be in play. Colorado is going to be in play. Iowa. George Bush only beat John Kerry by 10,000 votes in Iowa. Who won those states? Obama.

So it's a little hard to say that somehow those states aren't going to be in play.

Also, Michael Dukakis, as Gloria said, was beating Bush by 17 points. He lost. You know, if your basis is the polls say she can beat McCain, why even have a primary? You have to win on the field.

COOPER: And we're expecting Hillary Clinton to speak any moment. Senator Evan Bayh is speaking right now. He's supposed to introduce her. So of course, as he comes up to the podium, we will bring that to you live. There are the pictures right now.

What do you expect her message is moving forward? I mean, she has struck this very populist cord repeatedly. She has gained a lot of traction with it, a lot of attention. Her numbers have gone up. She has won so far it seems, though we can't call it, in the state of Indiana. But right now, she is certainly in the lead in that state. Does she continue with that populist message?

BORGER: I think it does -- she does because it's clearly working for her. I think...

COOPER: Is that her voice? She talked about finding her voice in New Hampshire. Is this her voice?

BORGER: This is her current voice. And I think, look, it's working for her because people are hurting. And they like the notion that she is a fighter who will fight for them.

And it is -- it is working for her better than "I am the most experienced to be your commander in chief on day one." It's working better for her than running as the incumbent, which is essentially what she ran as in the beginning of this campaign.

So, yes, she has started connecting with voters on that populist message, and it's working for her. So she's going to continue it.

TOOBIN: I'm not sure it is working for her. I mean, I think her vote in Indiana, even if she wins, is going to be down from Pennsylvania. It's going to be down from Ohio. And...

COOPER: But a Clinton supporter will say, look, Obama said he was going to win in this state and was in the lead up until recently in that state.

TOOBIN: He was in the lead in one -- in one poll. Indiana has been close from the very beginning.

But she embraced the gas tax holiday as her big issue going into Iowa and -- Indiana and North Carolina. And she's lost by an enormous margin in North Carolina, and it's going to be very close in Indiana. So it is not clear to me that this populist message is working for her. I felt like I have better ideas for her but...

BORGER: Honestly, it did. It gave her a head of steam, though. Honestly, it did. I think it gave her campaign new meaning and a cohesiveness and a theme that she could run on.

MARTIN: But here's the deal.

BORGER: And it worked in Pennsylvania.

TOOBIN: Well, the gas tax was after Pennsylvania.

BORGER: And Barack Obama had some self-inflicted wounds, and he had Reverend Wright. You put all of that together.

TOOBIN: But that's the point. That even with Reverend Wright, even with, you know, Bitter-gate, even with all these problems, you know, she's only winning Indiana by a sliver and losing North Carolina overwhelmingly.

MARTIN: It's simple: she has to win out. She is still behind. It could be a great message, but if you don't win it, you lose.

COOPER: I want to go back to our back panel, if that's possible. I wonder, Alex Castellanos, Republican strategist -- we should point that out -- you said earlier during a break or asked a question, has Barack Obama lanced as boil on the Reverend Wright issue, on the bitter comments? Do you think he has?

CASTELLANOS: He is, I think, to some degree. He's bounced back nationally a little bit over the past week or so. People are getting a little more familiar. He's going out himself, and he's talking about the Wright issue. And I think trying to put it in context.

And people are getting to know him a little better. He's sounding more optimistic about it. So I think he's building that into the stock price a little.

COOPER: I should point out to our audience that Senator Clinton has come out. The crowd is cheering. We're going to come to her as soon as she starts talking.

BRAZILE: Earlier, Leslie referred to super delegates as elitists. I want to correct the record. We're not elitists. We're activists. We're party officials. We scrub the floors; we get out the votes. So be very careful. You're sitting next to a super delegate. We are not elitists, baby.

COOPER: President -- President Clinton is with Hillary Clinton, also Chelsea Clinton there. The whole family is together on the stage. And let's listen in.

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you. Thank you all. Thank you. Thank you all very much. Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hillary! Hillary! Hillary!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hillary! Hillary! Hillary!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hillary! Hillary! Hillary!

CLINTON: Thank you so much. Thank you, Indiana. Thank you!

Not too long ago, my opponent made a prediction. He said I would probably win Pennsylvania. He would win North Carolina, and Indiana would be the tiebreaker. Well, tonight we've come from behind. We've broken the tie, and thanks to you, it's full speed on to the White House!

You know, this has been an extraordinary experience, traveling across Indiana, having an opportunity to meet so many of you. And for everyone who holds your breath at the gas pump, afraid to see how much it cost today. And for everyone working day and night because you want the world for your kids. For every young person with big dreams who deserves a world of opportunity. And to all those who aren't in the headlines but have always written America's story, tonight is your victory right here. Right here.

I want to -- I want to commend -- I want to commend Senator Obama and his supporters on their win in North Carolina.

You know, we are, in many ways, on the same journey. It's a journey begun long before we were born. It is a journey by men and women who have been on a mission to perfect our union, who marched and protested, who risked everything they had to build an America that embraces us all. And tonight, once again, I need your help to continue our journey.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, we will! Yes, we will!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, we will! Yes, we will!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, we will! Yes, we will!

CLINTON: You know, this is -- this has always been your campaign and this is your victory, because your support has meant the difference between winning and losing. And we can only keep winning if we're able to keep competing against an opponent who does outspend us massively. So I hope you will go to HillaryClinton.com and support our campaign!

This is -- this is a very touching moment for me. I grew up in the Midwest, born in Chicago, raised in Park Ridge, Illinois. My dad was a World War II vet who started his own small business. My mother -- and originally from Scranton, PA, that's right.

My mother had a difficult childhood but worked hard to provide a loving home for us. And she didn't attend college herself but was determined her children would. And I don't think she ever dreamed she would see a night like this. You know, their story, like every one of our stories, is the American story. It's a story of men and women who embrace opportunity, never waver in the face of adversity, and never stop believing in the promise of America.

And yet today, I have met so many people here in Indiana and across America who feel invisible. You sure feel invisible when you're paying $60 or $70 to fill up your tank. You feel invisible when the money you took to the grocery store no longer meets your needs for the next week. You feel invisible when your health insurance disappears and college is out of reach. And you can't believe how invisible you feel when your loved one who served our country in war is ill-served back at home.

But I know -- I know these stories, and I see you and I hear you. And I know how hard you're working, working for yourselves and working for your family. And I will never stop fighting for you, so that you can have a future...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hillary! Hillary! Hillary!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hillary! Hillary! Hillary!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hillary! Hillary! Hillary!

CLINTON: Tonight...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hillary! Hillary! Hillary!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hillary! Hillary! Hillary! UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hillary! Hillary! Hillary!

CLINTON: Tonight, Hoosiers have said that you do want a president who stands strong for you, a president who is ready on day one to take charge as commander in chief and keep our families safe. A president who knows how to make this economy work for hardworking middle-class families.

And there are lots of ideas about how best to do that, because we need all of the good common sense that Americans have to offer. And I know that we've got an important debate going on right now about how we're going to help families deal with these gas prices. They have gone up so fast, so out of sight in the minds of the people that I talk with. And I think it's time that we really had a concerted strategy.

You've heard me say this, and I'll say it again. I think it's time to give Americans a break this summer and to make the oil companies pay the gas tax out of their record profits. I say it's time to cover every single American with health insurance. And I say it's time to freeze foreclosures for families most at risk of losing their homes, including our soldiers who are in harm's way and are being forced out here in America.

Fundamentally, I believe that Americans need a champion in their corner. That for too long we've had a president who has stood up and spoke out for the wealthy and the well connected. But I don't think that's what Americans need or what they're looking for now. And I think standing up for working people is about the American dream and the Democratic Party. And I think standing up for the middle class is about who we are and who we can be if we stick together.

So it is important that, as we go forward in this campaign, that we recognize we are all on the same team. We are going to be standing up for you. We're going to be looking for a way to turn this country around and bring it back to what it should stand for and be all about. Better futures for you and your children solving the problems that affect us here in America. And I know...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hillary! Hillary! Hillary!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hillary! Hillary! Hillary!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hillary! Hillary! Hillary!

CLINTON: I know that people -- people are watching this race, and they're wondering, I win, he wins; I win, he wins. It's so close. And I think that says a lot about how excited and passionate our supporters are and how intent so many Americans are to really taking their country back.

But I can assure you, as I have said on many occasions, that no matter what happens, I will work for the nominee of the Democratic Party, because we must win in November.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, we will! Yes, we will! Yes, we will! UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, we will! Yes, we will! Yes, we will!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, we will! Yes, we will! Yes, we will!

CLINTON: And I know -- I know that Senator Obama feels the same way, because we have been on this campaign trail now for a long time. And we know how desperately people want to see a change, and it will not be a change if the Republicans keep the White House. It will be more of the same. Something that no one, no matter what political party you may be, can afford.

It is time for all of us to recognize what is at stake in this election. Not just for Democrats, as we decide who will be our nominee, but for all Americans.

You know, the soldiers and the veterans that I meet, they always say to me, "Promise you'll take care of my buddies." They rarely ask for themselves. And they need a president who will take care of them.

And when I talk with the people who come to rallies and events like this, very often it's with a bit of hesitation that they tell me they've lost their job. They've lost their health care. They can't afford to go to college. And it just breaks my heart, because when I think about the America that I grew up in, the future was unlimited. The potential was there for all of us if we were willing to work hard and do our part.

So this journey that we're on together is one that has been a blessing for me. Because I know what this country has meant to me and I know what it still means to all of you. It is now our responsibility to ensure that it will always mean the same for our children and our grandchildren.

I will never -- I will never give up on you and on your families and on your dreams and on your future. And I want to thank the people of Indiana for your hospitality and your vote of confidence. And I especially want to thank your wonderful Senator Evan Bayh.

Evan is an outstanding leader for this state and for America. He's been your governor; he's now your Senator. He's someone whom I look to for advice and counsel. He's worked tirelessly on this campaign. And I am so grateful to him and his wonderful wife, Susan.

I also want to thank the people of North Carolina, who were so hospitable and gracious to us. And I especially want to thank Mike and Mary Easley for their friendship and support. Governor Easley is a visionary and leader in North Carolina and we had so much fun campaigning in the Tarheel State.

And while we are celebrating tonight, I would like to take a moment to express my deepest sympathies to the victims of the devastating cyclone in Burma. Our hearts and prayers go out to the people there and I call upon the junta that has ruled Burma for so many years to please let the rest of the world in to help. This is a time when everyone should be there to lift up those who were affected by this deadly storm. And I want to thank all of my friends who have worked so hard. I want to thank my friends in labor. I want to thank my staff, my volunteers and my supporters.

And I especially want to thank my family for their incredible love and support, Bill and Chelsea and my brother (ph). You know, people ask us all the time, well, how do you keep going? We love getting out and meeting people. We love having a chance to be with all of you. And didn't Chelsea do a great job? And And I know a lot of people enjoyed seeing my husband again out on the campaign trail.

So now -- now it is on to West Virginia, Kentucky, Oregon, and the other states where -- where people are eager to have their voices heard. For too long, we've let places like West Virginia and Kentucky slip out of the Democratic column. Well, it's time for that to change.

And these next primaries are another test. I'm going to work my heart out in West Virginia and Kentucky this month. And I -- I intend to win them in November in the general election.

You know, I want -- I want the people in these upcoming states to know we're going to work hard to reach out to all of you, because we want you to know that the Democratic Party is your party and a Democratic president will be good for you. So please, come join us in our campaign.

And I am running to be the president of all of America, north, south, east and west and everywhere in between. That's why it is so important that we count the votes of Florida and Michigan.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let them vote! Let them vote! Let them vote!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let them vote! Let them vote! Let them vote!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let them vote! Let them vote! Let them vote!

CLINTON: I know it seems it would be a little strange to have a nominee chosen by 48 states.

We've got a long road ahead, but we're going to keep fighting on that path for America, because America is worth fighting for. And we believe in America's potential and possibility that has so ignited hope and the dreams of people throughout our country and around the world.

You know, people who left everything behind in order to come here and be part of this great experiment in democracy, dissidents and dreamers on every continent who look to us and our ideals for their hope and inspiration. All those around the world who wept for us and prayed for us on September 11, who laid wreaths and flew flags at half-mast and printed that unforgettable headline, "We are all Americans." That is the reach of America's embrace, through time, and place and history.

And I know we can once again open our arms to the world. We can once again be the can-do nation, a nation that defies the odds and greets the future with optimism and hope. There isn't anything America can't do once we make up our minds to start acting like Americans again. And that is exactly what we intend to do.

Thank you and God bless you, and God bless America.

(MUSIC)

COOPER: Hillary Clinton hugging former president, Bill Clinton, Chelsea Clinton, also Senator Evan Bayh who has helped her so much in that state. It is too close for us to call at this point. Obama with 48 percent, Hillary Clinton with 52; 86 percent of the precincts reporting.

Gloria Borger, as you listened to Senator Clinton speaking, your thoughts?

BORGER: Well, she's clearly going to continue. She's clearly making the argument that we said all along tonight she was going to make, which is that you need to count Florida and Michigan. She doesn't have that many options now -- now, and so that's one of her only options. If you're going to get up there in the pledged delegates, you've got to start counting Florida and Michigan.

And this is a real problem for the -- for the Democratic National Committee. They're meeting on May 31. They have to figure out what the rules are.

And it's clear she's going to continue fighting. I'm not sure she's got the money to do it.

COOPER: That was my next point, Roland Martin. It is clear that money is a crucial element. That's one of the first things she mentioned in her speech, giving her Web site out, asking for donations.

MARTIN: Absolutely, because they know they have to compete. And I was struck by her tone in this speech. She was not the confident candidate that she was coming out of Pennsylvania. Sure, she's leading in Indiana, but recognize that it's a tenuous lead.

Also, he has made up the difference with the vote total she won in Pennsylvania. But I just didn't -- I did not see the candidate that we have seen, the very confident candidate. The speech was not one that was inspiring as well.

COOPER: Jeffrey.

TOOBIN: I just think the math is just overwhelming for her at this point. She wants to catch up in pledged delegates, she had to do it tonight. There are no states anywhere near as big as North Carolina still to come. You're talking about Guam -- you're talking about, you know, small -- much smaller states and Montana, Oregon is the biggest state still to come.

BORGER: Another 17 pledged delegates.

COOPER: I want to bring in Carl Bernstein, who wrote a biography about her. How does -- how did she appear to you tonight?

CARL BERNSTEIN, AUTHOR: Reading a speech that was meant for a real victory and not a kind of valedictory.

I've been speaking tonight with people she seeks counsel from politically, and as one said to me, it's all from here on in about Hillary Clinton's psychology and her coming to realize that the doors are shutting on this campaign.

There's only one way at this point, these people told me tonight, that she can really win. And that is if something comes out or they develop some information about Barack Obama. And Harold Ickes, her close adviser, gave the formula today in an interview. He said, "We don't know enough about Senator Obama yet. We don't need an October surprise, and the chance of an October surprise with Hillary Clinton is remote."

An October surprise means information that comes out about the candidate that's very damaging. They know this is really the only way to go.

COOPER: We've got 40 seconds. Go.

GERGEN: I'm always impressed by how brave she is. But she put her game face on again today. I thought -- I thought she was fine speaking. What was really, I thought, the giveaway was watching Chelsea Clinton. It looked as if Chelsea's heart was breaking.

COOPER: Really?

GERGEN: Yes. I thought she had -- she was near -- almost in near tears a few times. I thought I read a lot more into her language, her body, her face than almost anything else. But I admire Hillary Clinton's gameness. In fact, she's always willing to play.

COOPER: We're going to talk to Lanny Davis, Clinton supporter, in just a few moments. We're going to take a short pause as we continue to look at Hillary Clinton greeting the crowd that came out to listen to her speech tonight.

The race too close for us to call at this point, but clearly, the Clinton people feeling it is a victory in that state. Our coverage continues for the next hour right here on CNN.