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THE SITUATION ROOM
Barack Obama Narrows Superdelegate Gap; Any Path to Victory For Hillary Clinton?
Aired May 9, 2008 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And, to our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now, Barack Obama nabs more convention superdelegates, almost closing the gap with Hillary Clinton. Is there any way she can stop him now?
Clinton promises to keep going and going. But is she losing the argument that she can win the White House? The best political team on television dives into the debate. Should Clinton stay in or get out?
And John McCain's support of George W. Bush in question. This hour, a new shot of controversy over McCain's presidential vote back in 2000.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world.
This hour, Barack Obama has seven more superdelegates on his side. Hillary Clinton is seeing her advantage disappear. By CNN's count right now, she's just four superdelegates ahead of Barack Obama.
We begin our coverage this hour with our senior political correspondent, Candy Crowley.
Candy, she's clinging on. She's fighting and fighting. Give us the latest.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, she absolutely is.
Understand it from the Clinton campaign's perspective. She is looking at healthy wins in West Virginia on Tuesday, further down the line, a healthy win in Kentucky. They're continuing to make that superdelegate argument about her electability, and, so far, it does not seem there will be a flood of superdelegates. Most of them seem to be waiting until the end of this process.
CROWLEY (voice-over): Hillary Clinton arrived in Central Point, Oregon, last night, two hours late and pumped up.
SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Whoa! I apologize that we were kind of flying against the wind. But, you know, that's the story of my life. Fly against the wind. You'll get there eventually if you keep going.
CROWLEY: It boils down to this -- many Democrats are anxious for her to get out. Not many want to be seen as forcing her out. And she's not going.
CLINTON: People say to me all the time, well, are you going to keep going? Well, yes, of course I'm going to keep going. And why am I going to keep going? I'm going to keep going because you keep going.
CROWLEY: So, needless to say, it is going, and he's game, though showing signs of sleep deprivation.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It is just wonderful to be back in Oregon. And over the last 15 months we've traveled to every corner of the United States. I have now been in 57 states? I think one left to go.
CROWLEY: Actually, the game isn't on the campaign trail now. The play is about superdelegates. Steadily, they are trickling his way, but it's not a gusher.
An uncommitted superdelegate who intends to eventually back Obama said Clinton should stay in if she wants but added, it depends on how she does it. Given the near certainty of an Obama nomination, there is some concern Clinton will rough him up unnecessarily.
CROWLEY: At this point, Wolf, so many people, at least those that I have talked to, really are willing to let Hillary Clinton do this her way. There is a reservoir of respect of her from her years in the Senate and there is as well great admiration for what one called her super grit -- Wolf.
BLITZER: What is all this talk, Candy? His campaign is raising a lot of money. Her campaign is in debt right now. There's some talk -- and I think he was asked about it just a little while ago -- about his campaign paying off her debt. What's going on?
CROWLEY: Well, this is part of the problem of not being the nominee, but everyone expects you're going to be the nominee. So, you're getting these questions that you kind of have to dodge, which is, to him today.
So, if she gets out of the race, she has this huge debt. Will you help pay it off?
So, he said, well, I would want to talk to her and see how I could make her feel good about the process and get her on the team moving forward. But, on the other hand, this isn't over yet. She's still out there. We have miles to go.
So, the idea of his helping to pay off her debt is -- certainly would not be new in politics. It happens all the time. Hillary Clinton, I think you will remember, helped Tom Vilsack pay off some of his debt early on in this presidential contest. So, certainly, that's something that people are looking at. It's been out there that Hillary Clinton, that is what she was holding out for.
I can assure that everyone I talked to about that said that's just not the case.
BLITZER: Tom Vilsack, the former governor of Iowa, who himself was once thinking about running for president.
Hillary Clinton once could count on those superdelegates to give her an edge at the convention. At the start of the year, she had 100 more party supporters in her corner than Barack Obama had. But look at this, the trend line since then. After February's Super Tuesday showdown, Clinton's edge was down to, what, 87.
A month later, despite wins in Ohio and Texas, Clinton's superdelegate lead slipped down to 39. Last month, she won in Pennsylvania, but only to see the superdelegate difference drop down to 23. And now, after a new round of endorsements for Obama, Clinton holds a lead of only four superdelegates.
Another tense preview today of the likely fall matchup between Barack Obama and John McCain. At the center of it all? A remark Obama made right here in THE SITUATION ROOM about McCain, supposedly -- and I'm quoting now -- "losing his bearings."
Let's go to CNN's Mary Snow. She's in New Jersey. She's watching this story for us.
Mary, McCain responded to Senator Obama at an event earlier today.
MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He did, Wolf.
And the dustup over Obama's remark continues. And while McCain had the chance, he also took some jabs at the Democratic presidential hopeful.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What are we doing here? We're looking at sea urchins?
SNOW (voice-over): John McCain picked a children's science museum to focus on the environment. Former New Jersey Governor Tom Kean calling him a Teddy Roosevelt Republican. Another way of saying McCain isn't George Bush.
But the focus quickly turned to Democrat Barack Obama after Obama said this about McCain Thursday in THE SITUATION ROOM...
OBAMA: For him to toss out comments like that, I think is an example of him losing his bearings as he pursues this nomination.
SNOW: The McCain camp pounced, saying, it was "not a particularly clever way of raising John McCain's age as an issue. The Obama camp fired back, calling it a "bizarre rant," that Obama wasn't referring to McCain's age.
As to whether McCain took offense to Obama's words?
J. MCCAIN: I ignore it. I don't take offense to it.
SNOW: McCain supporter Senator Joe Lieberman chimed in.
SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (I), CONNECTICUT: I just want to report that this morning I personally checked John McCain's bearings. He has not lost any of them.
SNOW: Republican strategist Scott Reed says the ratcheting up of rhetoric marks a new phase.
SCOTT REED, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: This was a pivot week not only for Obama, but also McCain, because it's now really showtime.
SNOW: Showtime meaning McCain has had roughly two months as the presumptive Republican nominee to define himself while Democrats duked it out. But that window is drawing to a close. McCain is drawing distinctions between himself and Obama, noting he would never sit down with Iran's president.
J. MCCAIN: Senator Obama wants to sit down and have negotiations and discussions with the person who just yesterday called Israel a stinking corpse. A stinking corpse; who continues to advocate they "wipe Israel off the map."
SNOW: Obama advocates sanctions and talks with Iran, saying the Bush administration's policy of not talking has failed.
SNOW: And McCain was also asked, Wolf, if his age is a legitimate issue. And he said he is fine with any issue that the American people want to be an issue, and that is part of the dialogue. And that not only includes his age, he says, but Reverend Jeremiah Wright. But he did stress that he does not believe that Obama shares the same views as Reverend Wright -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Thanks very much, Mary -- Mary Snow reporting.
Let's go back to Jack. He's got "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Conservatives are happier than liberals. A study published in the journal "Psychological Science" says this is because conservatives are better at rationalizing inequality.
Regardless of someone's income, marital status or church attendance, people with right-wing ideologies report greater satisfaction with their lives than those with left-wing beliefs. Researchers found that conservatives also score highest when it comes to the ability to justify inequality.
For example, A conservative might well support the idea of a meritocracy. If you work hard, you perform well, you will move up the economic ladder, and, if you don't, you probably wouldn't.
The study shows liberals tend to be troubled by this kind of an idea. Inequalities take a greater psychological toll on liberals, apparently because they cannot rationalize away the gaps in society and thus end up more frustrated by them.
The study goes on to say that the research can be applied to areas other than economic inequality. One example they use is, feminists may not be as happy in their marriages as more traditional women, because they're frustrated with the division of domestic chores. Who takes out the garbage in your house?
These latest results go along with a Pew poll from 2006 which found that 47 percent of conservative Republicans describe themselves as very happy, compared to only 28 percent of liberal Democrats who felt the same way.
This, then, is our badly-burnt offering for a rainy Friday in New York. Here's the question: A new study says conservatives are happier than liberals? Why?
Go to CNN.com/caffertyfile.com. You can post a comment on my blog -- Wolf.
BLITZER: I love your Friday night questions, Jack. They're always very good.
CAFFERTY: This stirred up a hornet's nest on the blog. We have gotten thousands of e-mails. And they're fighting with one another and insulting one another. It's great. I love it.
BLITZER: I'm going to go read it. All right, Jack, thanks very much.
BLITZER: Some people say West Virginia is Hillary Clinton country and they say that could spell big problems for Barack Obama, should he get the nomination. Bill Schneider standing by to explain.
Did John McCain vote for President Bush back in 2000 or not? You're going to want to hear -- he's denying what some are saying he actually said.
And trees ripped from their roots with cars tossed around like toys. There's a disturbing level of damage after a tornado tore through parts of Oklahoma -- excuse me -- Alabama. You're going to see the video. And we're going to play it for you. You are going to want to see this -- right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: In Myanmar, the situation grows more dire by the moment a week after a devastating cyclone. Almost two million people are waiting for food, water, shelter, and medicines. Diplomats and workers fear 100,000 people or more could die in the long run.
But finally the country is slightly, slightly opening up its doors to U.S. aid. A U.S. military cargo plane is on a four-hour alert at an airstrip in Thailand and will likely be the first American flight into Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, on Monday. But the country's military rulers are still keeping U.S. aid workers out.
Our State Department correspondent Zain Verjee went inside the U.S. aid command center a couple of blocks from the White House -- Zain.
ZAIN VERJEE, CNN STATE DEPARTMENT CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, this is the nerve center for USAID relief operations for Myanmar. People here are working around the clock. They're poised to launch a massive relief effort. They're in touch with people here in Washington, as well as in the region. For the U.S. and the people of Myanmar today, a little bit of good news.
VERJEE: Finally, a green light.
GORDON JOHNDROE, WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: We have received approval from the Burmese government for a U.S. military C- 130 cargo plane with emergency relief supplies to land in Burma on Monday.
VERJEE: U.S. aid workers are still shut out from the country, and the U.S. is negotiating who will distribute the aid to victims. Other U.S. military assets are on standby ready to go in, if given permission.
ROBERT GATES, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: I think there are three or four ships is -- either has or is offloading some helicopters to be available in Thailand, because they -- they could reach Myanmar in a very short -- in a matter of hours from Thailand with relief supplies.
VERJEE: The danger of diseases like malaria and cholera is looming and senior U.S. aid officials say they must get clean water in as soon as possible.
A U.S. disaster team is still waiting for visas to Myanmar. They can judge what's needed on the ground, which will open up the floodgates to more U.S. money. The U.S. is ruling out high-altitude drops from planes, but may consider low-level helicopter drops, insisting, ground coordination is key for delivering aid.
TONY BANBURY, WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME: We organize distribution, so they're orderly, and there aren't food riots and the young men don't appear and start carting off the food and the old ladies and little kids are left with nothing.
VERJEE: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is reaching out to allies like China and Indiana, urging them to pressure Myanmar to led the aid flow.
SEAN MCCORMACK, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: And use whatever leverage they have with that top decision-making layer in the Burmese regime.
VERJEE (on-camera): USAID chief Henrietta Fore says that she's hopeful that this is just the beginning of the aid. She says the U.S. has a lot of resources and a genuine desire to help the people of Myanmar -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Zain Verjee, thank you.
Myanmar, by the way, is ruled by a very brutal military government that came to power back in September 1988. In 1989, the new rulers changed the country's from Burma to Myanmar. The year after that, the National League of Democracy won a landslide victory in the country's first multiparty elections in 30 years. But the military leaders imprisoned the group's leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, and refused to relinquish power.
Myanmar is the world's largest exporter of teak, and a huge source of jade, pearls, rubies and sapphires, yet its people remain very, very poor.
BLITZER: Hillary Clinton has no intentions of leaving the field. That's what she says. Her hometown newspaper, though -- that would be "The New York Times" -- cautions her not to pursue what's called the nuclear option. I will talk about that and more with the best political team on television.
Plus, can Barack Obama capture the votes of those blue-collar workers? He's going to have to convince many of them in West Virginia, that primary coming up on Tuesday. We will tell you what's going on right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Right now, it may be a telling sign of what's happening in the Democratic presidential race. Barack Obama appears focusing in right now already on November, while Hillary Clinton appears to be focusing in on surviving the next few weeks. She does vow to stay in this race, but at what possible cost to her party?
Let's discuss this and more with the Connecticut Democratic Senator and Obama supporter Chris Dodd, himself a Democratic presidential candidate.
Senator, thanks very much for coming in. SEN. CHRISTOPHER DODD (D), CONNECTICUT: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: What do you think she should do?
DODD: Well, I think she's going to do the right thing. I have known Senator Clinton, I have known President Clinton for a long, long time, and this much I know about them. I know they care about the Democratic Party and more importantly, I think they care about what happens in this country.
And so I think all of this talk about blowing up the Democratic Party and going to Denver with a donnybrook, I don't buy a minute of it. I don't buy a second of it. I think they're going to run the string out a bit. I think she wants to see what's going on.
And, candidly, she had a rough night Tuesday night. She lost terribly in North Carolina and had a much narrower win in Indiana than they anticipated. And my view is, give people a bit of a break on this thing. And don't expect them to go 180 miles an hour in one direction and, 48 hours later, change directions. You can't do that. She shouldn't be asked to do that.
So, I have no concerns about where this is going to head up. I think another few weeks of this -- we have got another five or six contests I think between now and the end of this month, and I think at that point, Senator Clinton will make the right decision. And they will decide to get behind Barack Obama. We will have a united party over the summer months, putting that all together, and I think we have got a tremendous chance of winning the presidency.
But, more important than winning an election, we have a wonderful opportunity to get this country back on track again.
BLITZER: Well, what about uniting the Democratic Party? Because there's all these concerns that you heard a lot of her supporters say, at least according to our exit polls, you know what, they're going to either vote for McCain or not vote at all, because they can't see themselves voting for Barack Obama? What do you think about that?
DODD: I don't believe that for a second.
I think I know these people fairly well. Look, I respect the fact they put a lot into this race. She's run a hard race. She's had an awful lot of committed people who have extended themselves for more than two years. This has been a very intense process, Wolf, as you know, having been involved in it for a year-and-a-half myself.
And so I understand those emotions here in late April, early May. But I don't believe for a minute that 95 percent or 98 percent of these people are going to do what I think they want to do. That's the reason they're backing Hillary Clinton. They want a change. They want to see this country focus its attention on domestic issues. They want to get us out of Iraq. They're not going to vote for John McCain or stay at home. They're not going to make the mistake the Democrats did in 1968 by abandoning Hubert Humphrey and giving us Richard Nixon. I don't believe that for a minute.
BLITZER: Your colleague from Connecticut, Joe Lieberman, was here in THE SITUATION ROOM earlier today. He made the case for his candidate, John McCain, even though Lieberman was once a Democratic vice presidential nominee.
And he made the argument that on national security, the American people can trust John McCain and his experience; they don't have the same feelings, they don't -- he doesn't think that Barack Obama brings anywhere near that level of confidence and experience when it comes to national security.
We're going to be hearing a lot of that going forward. What do you say to your colleague from Connecticut, Joe Lieberman?
DODD: Well, listen, Joe Lieberman and I are friends, and I'm not going to engage Joe in this point, except to say this to you.
Barack Obama, I have watched him. I have worked with him. This is the -- this is the junior senator from Illinois that Dick Lugar, one of the most respected members of Congress in decades, invited to go with him to talk to the Russians about reducing their nuclear arsenals.
This is the same man being sought out by senior members in his early days in the Senate. He asked the best questions of Condoleezza Rice in her confirmation hearing of any senator, Democrat or Republican on that committee.
John McCain has got -- is a wonderful man. We respect immensely his service to the country. But that experience is, while it's respected, does not necessarily translate into sound, thoughtful foreign policy. And I have a lot more confidence that Barack Obama, having now campaigned against him, having watched him closely, having sat with him on the Foreign Relations Committee, is more than capable of handling these issues and surrounding himself with people I think who are going to put this country back on the moral high ground, develop those relationships that we need to globally, to deal with economic issues, as well as the threat of terrorism.
I have a lot more confidence than -- candidly, with all due respect to John McCain's history, it's not about his history. It's about our future. And, on our future, for an individual that still believes maybe we need 100 more years in Iraq, frankly, I will put my stock and future with Barack Obama and feel a lot more confident about the fate of my country.
BLITZER: Senator Dodd, thanks for coming in.
DODD: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Hillary Clinton is spending a lot of time trying to convince supporters she's not -- repeat, not -- dropping out. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: People say to me all the time, boy, you're a fighter. Well, yes, because, you know, there's a lot in life that is worth fighting for.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Is Senator Clinton doing the right thing for her party? We have our analysts, the best political team on television, they're standing by.
Plus, some Democrats call it a dream team, but Ted Kennedy says a joint ticket, Barack Obama/Hillary Clinton, may not be a good idea. You're going to find out why.
And did John McCain vote for President Bush back in 2000? He says yes. Others tell a different story -- details ahead right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: To our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now, the Democratic presidential hopefuls take aim at West Virginia -- Senator Hillary Clinton expected to take the largely white blue-collar state in next Tuesday' primary. A record number of West Virginians have already cast early ballots. Tuesday's turnout is expected to be record high, like so many other states around the country.
Clinton and opponent Barack Obama spent today in Oregon. Obama talked about the economy. Clinton said her health care plan would cover everyone.
And Republican John McCain deflects allegations he voted against George W. Bush. The allegations suggest he did so after their bitter primary battle back in the year 2000 -- all of this coming up, plus the best political team on television.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
In four days, someone will win West Virginia's primary. Many people are sure right now who that will be.
Let's go to our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider.
He's talking politics to the people aboard the CNN Election Express in Charleston, West Virginia right now -- Bill?
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Wolf, Tuesday's vote here in the West Virginia primary could send a sobering message to Obama Democrats.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) SCHNEIDER (voice-over): West Virginia is expected to go for Hillary Clinton on Tuesday. The polls show it. Knowledgeable West Virginians know it.
KENNIE BASS, WCHS POLITICAL REPORTER: This state is really in Hillary Clinton's wheelhouse. It's an older population, socially conservative, blue-collar workers.
SCHNEIDER: Barack Obama knows it.
OBAMA: She's going to do very well in West Virginia and Kentucky. She will win those states, likely -- in all likelihood, by significant margins.
SCHNEIDER: A big Clinton win will send a powerful message that there are a lot of Democrats not yet ready to get on the Obama bandwagon.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
CLINTON: There was just an "A.P." article posted that found how Senator Obama's support among working, hardworking Americans -- white Americans -- is weakening again and how the -- you know, whites in both states who had not completed college were supporting me.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
SCHNEIDER: West Virginia used to be solidly Democratic -- until 2000, when George W. Bush surprised everyone by winning the state.
How did he do it?
Social issues -- abortion, gays, and, most important, guns, in a state where more than 70 percent of the voters own a gun.
Republicans believe they know how to beat Obama here.
BASS: They would likely paint him, if he is the nominee, as a far-left liberal, who is pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage, pro-civil union. That will not play well in West Virginia. Social issues register very high on the meter here.
SCHNEIDER: Democrats can fight back by running against the Bush economy. But they could be in for a surprise.
BASS: As coal goes, so goes the economy of West Virginia, in many respects. Coal prices right now are at about $100 a ton. Metallurgical coal is trading at twice that. So, these are not difficult -- these are not difficult times in West Virginia, economically, so to speak.
SCHNEIDER: If Obama gets the nomination and it looks like the only way he can win the election is to get Democrats like those here in West Virginia back, then you can be sure he will think seriously about asking Hillary Clinton to join him on the ticket with him -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Bill Schneider, thanks very much.
There's broad consensus that Senator Clinton certainly has every right to stay in the race. But many people are openly wondering at what cost.
Let's discuss this and more with our senior political correspondent, Candy Crowley. And in New York, Jack Cafferty, as well as our senior analyst, Jeff Toobin. They're all part of the best political team on television.
What about this argument if she wins next Tuesday, as she's expected, Jack, to, win in West Virginia -- remember, West Virginia went Republican in 2000. Had it voted for Al Gore, he would have been president of the United States. She could win, they argue, in West Virginia, a state like that, but Barack Obama can't.
Is that argument going to sway Democrats?
CAFFERTY: Yes, I expect that, you know, she'll win West Virginia and Barack Obama will drop out of the race. I mean come on. This is over.
Doesn't everybody understand that?
Even "The New York Times" gets that this is over. They said in an editorial today -- and you've got to remember, this is the newspaper that endorsed her -- that she has every right to stay in the race, but they admonish her for what they call "negative campaigning with disturbing racial undertones." They say it would be a huge mistake for her to launch a fight over the disqualified delegations in Florida and Michigan.
This is over. West Virginia will go for Hillary Clinton.
If it looks like, he needs to do something to attract West Virginia voters at some point down the road, I'm sure the people that advise him will come up with a game plan.
BLITZER: All right...
CAFFERTY: But I mean West Virginia isn't going to change anything.
BLITZER: All right, Jeff, listen to Hillary Clinton's response today to basically the same argument that Jack just made.
Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: I'm going to keep going because you keep going. I look at that sign, "Single Mothers for Hillary," I don't know how single mothers do it. Every day they keep going. When people get up every day and face the odds that so many face in life and they keep going, of course. That's what you do if you believe that the future can better than the present.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right. That doesn't sound like someone who's thinking about giving up.
What do you think, Jeff?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: No, I don't think she is giving up. I think she is going to go through June 3rd, the last of the primaries. And I think she believes she still has a chance. I don't see how the math adds up for her. But we are so close to the end and there are so few contests left, she seems to think in for a dime, in for a dollar and that the possible cost to the ticket is worth the slight chance that she gets the nomination.
I don't get it, frankly. But I think that's clearly the -- what she's thinking.
BLITZER: All right, Candy, what do you think?
CROWLEY: I think she'll clearly go through June 3, first of all, because she's said it so many times. I mean she said it even before this particular period in the election process. And she said, you know, everybody should have a vote. And she's going to move through this.
I think there are also a couple of things at play. First, she does still think she can pull this out. Second, they certainly think there is the possibility of some sort of huge story about Barack Obama. She would still be standing there. And, third, you know, I'm told by people around her that she's very well aware of kind of the history of this particular race. Obviously, she would have been -- she's the first woman to become -- to run and get this far in the presidential nomination process. So she is very aware of those people that have supported her and feel that she has an obligation to finish this on the 3rd.
BLITZER: All right, guys, stand by, because we have a lot more to talk about.
John McCain versus Arianna Huffington. He calls her allegations about his vote back in 2000 nonsense, even as two more people come forward to back up her account.
Plus, huge public interest in a very private ceremony -- Jenna Bush's wedding tomorrow. We'll have details.
Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) J. MCCAIN: I voted, campaigned for, worked as hard as I could for President Bush's election in 2000 and 2004. I voted for President Bush. I said so at the time. This is -- I know we're already in a silly season, but my record stands very clearly, of campaigning all over this nation on behalf of the candidacy of President Bush.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: John McCain vehemently denying an allegation he voted against President Bush following a bitter primary battle back in 2000.
Let's continue with the best political team on television.
The allegation made by Arianna Huffington, Jeffrey, at a dinner party after the election. Two others who were at that dinner party come forward, back her version up.
What do you think about this dispute right now?
TOOBIN: Well, just to state the obvious, we have a secret ballot in this country, so we're never going to settle this argument, because we'll never know who he actually voted for. And it is true, as McCain said, that he did campaign for Bush -- perhaps through gritted teeth -- in 2000. So that is part of the public reported.
But, you know, I remember talking to John McCain in this period. And his bitterness and his anger toward the Bushes was really intense.
So might he have said something like this to Arianna Huffington and Brad Woodford (ph) and the others?
Sure. But I don't know if we're ever going to settle this.
BLITZER: Just to give some context, Candy, you covered this -- that whole campaign very, very closely. So you're familiar with the environment at the time. He was very angry with Bush after South Carolina. The primary -- there was even talk he was even considering switching parties. I don't know how serious that was. But he did vote against President Bush in the first tax cut back in 2001, one of only two Republicans to do so, Lincoln Chaffee being the other.
What do you think?
CROWLEY: Well, you know, I can sort of see John McCain at a dinner party and someone says to him, who did you vote for?, and he says boy, I didn't vote for Bush -- and kidding.
Now, you know, is this such a bad thing to come out right now?
It's probably a bad thing if you're John McCain and you're looking at the conservative wing, which still very much likes George Bush.
On the other hand, you know, if you're looking for an Independent vote and you know Independents overwhelmingly opposed everything about the Bush administration, well, what the heck? It's out there that you didn't actually vote for him. I mean I think it's a silly story. I think he absolutely did campaign constantly for George Bush, not just in 2000, but in 2004.
BLITZER: All right, Jack, what do you think?
CAFFERTY: I think it's a nonstarter.
One, it happened, what, eight years ago?
This was a very small dinner party at Candice Bergen's home, as I recall. It's not like they were at a pool party at Britney Spears' place and everybody was sloshed. And there's...
CAFFERTY: And there's no up side for Arianna Huffington and these other two people to say he said this if he didn't say it, because there were another dozen people sitting right there that would either know that he said it or didn't know.
That said, he had every reason to be angry at Bush. And I don't think it matters anymore.
BLITZER: All right, well, let's talk about -- maybe this will be important. A new ad that the McCain campaign, Jeffrey, has just released in conjunction with Mother's Day.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, MCCAIN CAMPAIGN AD)
ROBERTA WRIGHT MCCAIN, MOTHER OF JOHN MCCAIN: He was the sweetest, nicest child I've ever known. I think he'll make a wonderful president. Well, he's not perfect.
Did I say that?
J. MCCAIN: He doesn't pay enough attention to his mother, I think, maybe?
R. MCCAIN: No. I'm happy with him. I have no complaints.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right. I met her, McCain's mother, at the White House Correspondents Association Dinner. I have to say, she is lovely. She is she's charming. They should do a lot of that -- that advertising, because it does show that, you know, he may be old, but look at those genes.
TOOBIN: Well, and the whole ad -- I really encourage people to go on YouTube and look at it. It's really kind of surreal, particularly in the beginning part, where she talks about how 27 bottles of scotch were delivered to a -- to her husband's club when he was born and they sort of disagree about what day of the week he was born. It's very funny.
It's also a little odd. And it's not the unusual sort of canned pabulum in a political commercial. It's definitely worth watching. I don't know if it's good or bad, but it's definitely interesting.
BLITZER: All right, Candy?
CROWLEY: Yes, it's quirky. There's no doubt about it. I think, you know, John McCain has tried -- remember all these questions we're getting about his temper?
Well, this is the -- sort of a counterweight to that. I mean that's why he does "Saturday Night Live". That's why he does all these things -- you know, actually, I'm a guy with a sense of humor. This is a nice sort of gentle John McCain.
But I agree with Jeffrey. It's just -- it's a little weird.
CAFFERTY: Well, I think...
BLITZER: Speaking of a little weird, go ahead, Jack.
CAFFERTY: I think John McCain is very fortunate. His mother is alive and well. And he can call her up on Sunday and wish her a Happy Mother's Day. And there are a lot of people watching this program that probably can't do that, who wish they could.
The funniest thing I ever heard her say was that the conservatives in the Republican Party, if they were going to vote for her son, would have to hold their nose in order to do so. She reminds me a little of Jimmy Carter's mother, if you remember her.
CAFFERTY: The same kind of strong-willed, free-spirited tough lady, who had a great sense of humor. And that's just kind of fun stuff. I like that.
BLITZER: It reminds me of my mom. Let me wish my mom Happy Mother's Day in advance of Mother's Day.
And go ahead, if you guys would like to wish your moms a Happy Mother's Day, all the mothers out there. We can do it right now.
TOOBIN: Happy Mother's Day, mom.
CROWLEY: Hey mom, I'll call. I promise. I'm home. I'll call you.
TOOBIN: Well, my mother's going to China on Mother's Day.
BLITZER: Good for her.
TOOBIN: So, you know, there you go.
BLITZER: All right.
CAFFERTY: I wish the mothers of my children -- and there are two of them -- a Happy Mother's Day.
BLITZER: That's right. The same here.
All right guys, thanks very much.
A new study says conservatives are happier than liberals. But what do you think? Jack Cafferty has your e-mail. That's coming up.
And some Democrats call it a dream Obama/Clinton -- a dream team, Clinton and Obama on the same ticket. But one party leader says not so fast. You're going to find out exactly what Senator Kennedy is saying.
Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Checking our Political Ticker, John Edwards says he expects Barack Obama probably will be the Democratic presidential nominee. Edwards still isn't choosing sides between Obama and Hillary Clinton. But in TV interviews, the former White House hopeful says it would be very difficult for Clinton to make the delegate math add up to a victory.
One of Barack Obama's most prominent supporters says that he doesn't think an Obama/Clinton ticket is possible this fall. In a TV interview, Senator Kennedy suggested the Democratic contest has been too bitter for Obama and Clinton to team up. Still, Kennedy's office says the senator thinks Clinton is, in his words, "more than qualified to be vice president."
Remember, for the latest political news any time, you can check out CNNPolitics.com. That's where I write my daily blog post, as well.
Lou Dobbs is getting ready for his show to begin in a few moments at the top of the hour.
What are you working on -- Lou?
LOU DOBBS, HOST, "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT": Well, we're trying to reconcile those comments by Senator Ed Kennedy. It sounds like a major slap and insult to Senator Clinton. We'll be reporting on that. We'll have much more from the presidential campaign trail.
We're also reporting on another cold-blooded murder of a top police official in Mexico one day after the assassination of the director of Mexico's federal police. Drug cartel violence is rising now at an alarming rate, despite what Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico was saying just two days ago. And disturbing new evidence of the impact of Mexico's drug cartels on our teenagers. The overwhelming majority of marijuana entering the United States now originates in Mexico. We'll have that report.
And military veterans seething with anger over the Bush administration's failure to live up to its promises to our veterans. We'll tell you why a new G.I. Bill is being held up in Congress, who's responsible why we've got -- got to put that legislation into law.
Join us for all that at 7:00 Eastern, and a great deal more, including all of the day's news, of course -- Wolf, back to you.
BLITZER: See you in a few moments, Lou.
DOBBS: You've got it.
BLITZER: Let's go back to Jack Cafferty. He's got "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.
CAFFERTY: There is a new study that says conservatives are happier than liberals. And we wanted to know why. And a lot of you told us.
Erin writes: "Those of the so-called right way -- whether they be political conservative or fundamentalists -- have to say they're happy. Their whole rationale of being better than others is based on this very premise. Those who claim to know all the answers can never admit to having questions."
P. writes in Fort Myers, Florida: "Because liberals are always counting on the system to establish fairness, equity and trust in government in order to provide solutions to complex social and economic issues. Conservatives count on themselves. They don't rely on the system or the government to resolve problems. They create their own opportunities. They establish charitable causes. They focus." --
This guy is a conservative, I think.
Rickie writes: "How is this relevant in the least? I don't know. I would like to know who did the study and why they don't have better things to do. I can think of a lot better things to do. CNN, I expect better out of you, but perhaps I shouldn't. This doesn't prove nor help anything. You're just trying to tick people off with nonsense. Give us news. Remember, that's what you're supposed to be doing."
It's a long week, Rickie.
J.C. writes: "You can't be a true liberal unless you're miserable. The minority that claims happiness feel they have reached the correct level of constant outrage."
Mishael writes: "Are O'Reilly, Hannity or Limbaugh happier? It seems to me like they're complaining about something every day." Matt writes: "Let's do a survey on this issue again after November."
Lisa in Arizona: "Annoy a liberal, work hard, succeed, be happy."
And Kevin in Albany writes: "Ignorance is bliss."
If you didn't see your e-mail here, you can go to my blog at CNN.com/caffertyfile. A lot of funny responses to this particular one. There are hundreds of them posted there. You might get a kick out of reading some of them -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Have a great weekend this weekend, Jack.
CAFFERTY: You, too.
BLITZER: A rehearsal dinner, a few toasts and a good night's sleep. Then President Bush walks his daughter down the aisle. We're going to have details of Jenna Bush's wedding when we come back.
BLITZER: Here's a look at some of the Hot Shots coming in from our friends at the "Associated Press" -- pictures likely to be in your newspapers tomorrow.
An Indonesian farmer harvests rice to help increase the world's supply amid a run-up in prices because of food inflation.
In Blackburne (ph), India, Prince William, who also serves as president of the English Football Association, plays with a soccer ball while visiting with schoolchildren.
A young monk feeds a monkey at a South Korean amusement park as part of the upcoming celebration of Buddha's birthday.
And in Texas, locals place a wedding veil and a bouquet on an angel sculpture in honor of Jenna Bush's wedding in Crawford, Texas tomorrow.
Some of this hour's Hot Shots -- pictures worth a thousand words.
Jenna Bush's wedding is the buzz of Crawford right now, much of Texas and Washington, D.C. , as well.
CNN's Elaine Quijano has details.
ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): She is the daughter of the president; he, the son of a well-connected Virginia Republican. After meeting in 2004 while working on her father's re-election bid, Jenna Bush and Henry Hager say "I do" in Crawford this weekend, on the president's 1,600-acre ranch.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I had to face some very difficult spending decisions and I had to conduct sensitivity diplomacy. That's called planning for a wedding. La boda.
QUIJANO: The plans are largely under wraps, but they call for a gathering by a lake in front of an altar and four foot high cross hewn from Texas limestone.
LAURA BUSH, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: This is the time when wildflowers are all blooming and I think it will be a very, very lovely wedding and it will be very like Jenna and Henry.
QUIJANO: More than 200 guests are expected.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "LARRY KING LIVE")
JENNA BUSH, DAUGHTER OF PRES. GEORGE W. BUSH: All relatives. Our family is really kind of big. So it is half family and then half very close family -- you know, friends.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUIJANO: Not all of Jenna Bush's friends will be on hand, though.
DOUG WEAD, AUTHOR, "ALL THE PRESIDENT'S CHILDREN": Because, according to them, they -- she would be afraid of their behavior.
QUIJANO: Doug Wead is a former aid to George H.W. Bush and author of "All the President's Children." He says unlike the pageantry of White House weddings past, like that of Tricia Nixon's in 1971, the Texas ceremony will take place away from the glare of the media spotlight.
And for the couple, another consideration.
WEAD: They know that they don't own the White House, that they can't go back. But Crawford, Jenna and Henry can walk through the moonlight and hold hands and say this is where we were married and it will always be theirs.
QUIJANO: The first lady's office is keeping a tight lid on specifics. But the bride did reveal dress details to "Vogue" magazine, describing her gown as an Oscar de la Renta creation made of organza with embroidery and matte beading.
L. BUSH: I'm very, very excited. It's a very interesting passage of life when you get to that time in your life when your child -- the first child is getting married and we're getting, for us, our first son.
QUIJANO: And already the first lady joking about names for possible grandchildren down the road.
L. BUSH: George or Georgia. Georgina. Georgette. (LAUGHTER)
QUIJANO (on-camera): As for the event itself, the ceremony gets underway in evening after hours in order to spare guests from the searing Texas heat. Still, the forecast at wedding time calls for temperature of 92 degrees, with only a slight chance of rain.
Elaine Quijano, CNN, Crawford, Texas.
BLITZER: Let's congratulate the bride and the groom, the parents, the grandparents, all of the family and friends. Enjoy this weekend.
This Sunday on "LATE EDITION," the former U.S. commander in Iraq, Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez. He'll be among my guests. "LATE EDITION" airs 11:00 Eastern Sunday morning.
I'll be back in one hour at CNN's Election Center. Much more coverage coming up of all the day's news.
Thanks very much for joining us. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Up next, "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT" -- Lou.