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John Edwards Backs Barack Obama; Hillary Clinton Speaks Out

Aired May 14, 2008 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: We have got the repercussions of tonight's breaking news: John Edwards endorsing Barack Obama, sealing Hillary Clinton's thunder, sending a message to superdelegates, wooing voters who maybe Obama can't. What exactly is the Edwards effect, if any? We have got the angles, all the "Raw Politics."
Then, Hillary Clinton, in her own words, speaking out tonight on her opponent, race, and why she insists the numbers still prove she can win.

Later, a story of hope and heartbreak in the rubble of Central China -- saving a young girl's life trapped for three days. We will take you to the epicenter of the quake, with the death toll still rising, but hope still alive.

We begin, though, with the breaking news, that huge endorsement, the biggest so far this presidential campaign. It came this evening, of course, John Edwards, a former presidential candidate himself, throwing his support fully behind Barack Obama.

He did it in a large rally in Michigan, a crucial state rich with blue-collar Democrats, in short, John Edwards Democrats, making the endorsement a major pickup for Obama and a not-so-subtle message to Hillary Clinton to bow out of the race.

It's also stealing the thunder from Clinton's decisive victory over Obama in West Virginia. But the question is, will it bring her campaign to an end or only make it tougher to stop?

We will get to that in a moment.

First, the latest on the Edwards endorsement.

CNN's Suzanne Malveaux has tonight's "Raw Politics."


JOHN EDWARDS (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The Democratic voters in America have made their choice. And so have I.


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was the nod Barack Obama had been working for the past four months.

EDWARDS: There is one man who knows and understands that this is the time for bold leadership. And that man is Barack Obama. (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

MALVEAUX: Since John Edwards dropped out in January, the two men have talked at least once a week.


MALVEAUX: But it was Hillary Clinton's victory in West Virginia that tipped the scales for Edwards.

EDWARDS: Brothers and sisters, we must come together as Democrats.

MALVEAUX: Aides says Edwards was concerned that the Clinton story line, that Obama could not win white working-class voters, was becoming too damaging to Obama and the party. So, last night, Edwards called Obama in Michigan to tell him he had his back.

A campaign insider said Obama was absolutely delighted, and so was Edwards tonight, to see Obama highlight his poverty-fighting campaign theme.

OBAMA: ... will be a fight I carry into the White House for the next four years.

MALVEAUX: At times, early in the campaign, Obama and Edwards appeared to gang up on Hillary Clinton. At other times, Edwards played the critic.

EDWARDS: And I don't think you can nice them to death. I think you have to actually be willing to fight them.

MALVEAUX: He also questioned Obama's political courage.

EDWARDS: why would you over 100 times vote present? I mean, every one of us -- every one -- you have criticized Hillary. you have criticized me for our votes.

OBAMA: Right.

EDWARDS: We have cast hundreds and hundreds of votes. What you're criticizing her for, by the way, you have done to us.

MALVEAUX: But, tonight, the two put their differences aside, Edwards, Obama, and a nod to their opponent.

OBAMA: If you're willing to set down the cynicism and put down the fear and join John Edwards, and Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton, and the Democrats, then I promise you we will not just win this election. We will change the country.


COOPER: Interestingly, he talked not just about joining him, but also joining John Edwards and Hillary Clinton. Suzanne, she joins us now from Grand Rapids.

Will we see them campaigning together?

MALVEAUX: Actually, you will, Anderson. They're still working out the logistics. They are obviously in the initial stages of their talks.

But, after there is an official nominee, we are told, expect them to go out, campaign heavily in the fall in those swing states, those states that they really need. This is something that they are discussing now.

And the Edwards folks, they say privately, that this is a very difficult decision for Edwards. And we heard him take -- say today that she was a woman of steel, character and strength. These are two people that he's gotten to know quite well over the last couple of months, but, ultimately, he said it was Barack Obama who is the bold leader -- Anderson.

COOPER: Suzanne Malveaux from Grand Rapids -- thanks, Suzanne.

Digging deeper now into the Edwards effect, if any, CNN senior political analyst Gloria Borger, along with "TIME" magazine's Mark Halperin and Joe Klein. Mark writes "The Page" at TIME.COM. And Joe's a columnist and recent author of "Politics Lost."

The timing of this endorsement, Gloria, clearly seems aimed at stealing the headlines from Hillary Clinton tonight. I mean, if it wasn't for this endorsement, our lead probably would have been last night's victory of Hillary Clinton in West Virginia.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I spoke with somebody who spoke with Senator Edwards today.

And what Edwards told him was, he took a look at the results out of West Virginia. He decided that he didn't like the storyline that was really coming out of that, that there -- that Barack Obama couldn't attract those voters that are essentially the John Edwards voters, the working-class voters.

And he felt that this was a good moment to give him a boost. It turns out surely to have been one. But it was tough, talking about what Suzanne spoke about. He has spent a lot of time talking to Hillary Clinton. They both romanced John Edwards, but I think...

COOPER: Hillary Clinton had said that if -- that she would have somebody on her Cabinet, a poverty -- a Cabinet-level poverty position...

BORGER: Sure. Sure.

COOPER: ... who every day asked her, what have you done to alleviate poverty?

BORGER: Absolutely. And I think they have gotten closer personally throughout this campaign. But, in the end, I think this was a political decision that John Edwards made, and he went with the man he thought was going to be the winner.

COOPER: It's interesting.

Mark, last week, I think it was, in an interview, John Edwards kind of said the value of endorsements is vastly overrated, including his own. I'm not sure if he would argue the same thing again today. But what -- do we know what the value of this is?

MARK HALPERIN, SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST, "TIME": I don't know that it's that much.

I think there's two things you can say about this, one very good for Barack Obama, and one not so good. On the plus side, this is the first -- not the first, but it's one of many of Barack Obama becoming the leader of the Democratic Party. We're so focused still on the nomination fight, probably too much, because Barack Obama is almost certainly going to be the Democrat nominee.

He's consolidating the Democratic Party. Almost every elite Democrat in the country is going to be for him. You're going to see a lot of jubilation and pride at Barack Obama being the Democratic nominee.

On the negative side, I don't think John Edwards can help Barack Obama paper over the problems from West Virginia. He's going to have to figure out a way to communicate with those white working-class voters on his own. John Edwards can't do it for him.

COOPER: Do you agree with that, Joe?

JOE KLEIN, COLUMNIST, "TIME": Yes, which brings us back to Hillary Clinton tonight.

Interesting thing about Edwards' endorsement speech is that he had more good things to say about Hillary Clinton than he did about Barack Obama.


COOPER: You know, actually, we just want to show our viewers some of the comments he made and then get back to you, Joe.

Let's just play that.


EDWARDS: It is very, very hard to get up everyday and do what she's done. It is hard to go out there and fight and speak up when the odds turn against you.

And what she has shown, what she has shown, is strength and character. And what drives her is something that every single one of us can and should appreciate.


COOPER: What was the thinking there, Joe?

KLEIN: I think that he, and Elizabeth, especially, feel very close to her. They're certainly close on issues of health care, domestic policy and so forth.

But I think that, getting back to Hillary Clinton, I have been talking to people in the Obama campaign, and they're talking about Bill Clinton in June of 1992, and how Clinton really needed that month to revivify his campaign. And they want to have a clear shot in June -- June of this year to do the thing -- the sort of things that Bill Clinton did in '92 to reintroduce himself to the American people.

COOPER: And they feel Barack Obama needs to do that, needs to reintroduce himself to the American people?

KLEIN: Absolutely. Absolutely. Absolutely. Absolutely, they do. And they're really -- I mean, there hasn't been -- there haven't been direct -- as of yesterday, there hadn't been direct talks between the two campaigns, their intermediaries, but they're really hoping that Hillary Clinton will say goodbye pretty soon.

BORGER: Well, if you look at the results of West Virginia, also, you will see the kind of repair work that he needs to do. Half of the voters in West Virginia thought that he shares the values of Reverend Wright. It's clear that lots of people don't know who Barack Obama is.

COOPER: Twenty-two percent of the voters there saying race played a role in their decision. That's got to, I mean...

KLEIN: Which means it was probably more like 44.

COOPER: Well, exactly.

BORGER: Right. Right.

COOPER: I mean, if 22 percent are willing to admit that race played a role...

HALPERIN: To some stranger standing outside the polling place.

COOPER: ... right, to a complete stranger, what does that tell you about the obstacles Barack Obama still has to overcome?

HALPERIN: He has obstacles. John McCain has obstacles.

Look, the nomination fight has been this endless marathon, run very quickly, but over a long period of time. This general election, less than six months, is going to be intense. In fact, Joe is right. They have got to find time to get some rest and to think about things when they're not -- when they're free from fighting with her. But he's got a lot to work to do on race, on his image overall.

COOPER: Well... BORGER: And but that's -- that's where Edwards also does come in handy, because he gives him -- I mean, he -- you can't assign Edwards' delegates. He doesn't have the power to do that, but these are loyal Edwards people.

And, so, Obama could get more delegates out of that than Hillary Clinton won in West Virginia.

COOPER: We're going to talk more about this later, in particular the element of race that we saw in those polls, in those exit polls last night, 22 percent of people in West Virginia saying race played a role in their decision.

We will talk about that with Joe Klein and Mark Halperin and Gloria Borger coming up.

But let's go to up close, though, right now with Hillary Clinton. She cannot be pleased tonight her victory lap today overshadowed by the Edwards endorsement.

She sat down earlier with Wolf Blitzer, her first interview since hammering Obama last night in West Virginia last night. She talked about that, along with the uphill battle she's got ahead of her.

Here it Hillary Clinton up close, part one.


BLITZER: Congratulations on your win yesterday in West Virginia. Big win for Senator Clinton.

CLINTON: Well, it was a big win. And it was a very gratifying one, because I campaigned hard there, and I think that the issues that I have been championing, on the economy and health care, really resonated with the voters of West Virginia.

And as I have said many times in the last couple of weeks, no Democrat has won the White House since 1916 without winning West Virginia. So I took that as a good sign.

BLITZER: You did well there. All right. Let me get your reaction to the current issue of "TIME" magazine, which you've probably seen. You see a cover like this and it says "And the Winner Is...", and you get a little asterisk, you know, what do you think when you see something like this?

CLINTON: I think it's a great picture of Barack.


CLINTON: You know what I think is that this is the closest election we've ever had, that anybody can remember. Each of us has brought millions of new people into the process.

I think I have now been privileged to receive the votes of 17 million Americans. And that's pretty much the same as Senator Obama. The delegate race remains close. We have contests yet to go. People have been trying to end it. And the voters just won't let it happen.

As a recent poll suggested, 64 percent of Democrats want to see this continue. And I think for a good reason, because it's one of the most substantive, exciting, energizing political events I can remember in my lifetime.

And there is no winner yet. You have to have, now with the special election of a Democrat from Mississippi, 2,210 delegates to actually say...

BLITZER: You're including Florida and Michigan.

CLINTON: Which we have to. We have to include them.

BLITZER: Because in -- they're going to be meeting, the Rules Committee of the DNC...


BLITZER: ... May 31.

CLINTON: That's right.

BLITZER: They have to make a decision.


BLITZER: What do you want them to do?

CLINTON: Well, what I would want them to do is to seat the whole delegations based on the votes that were taken because I think the voters who came out, over 2.3 million of them in both states, clearly believed that their votes would count.

And they may have violated the DNC rules, but other states did as well.

BLITZER: Right now the DNC says that the number is, what, 2,025 or 2,026.

CLINTON: That's just not a practical answer. That would mean that only 48 states would determine who the nominee of the Democratic Party is. And that's not the way the election works.

BLITZER: So you're staying in at least through May 31 and June 3...

CLINTON: That's right.

BLITZER: ... which is the last -- you're not going anywhere.

CLINTON: I'm not going anywhere, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right.


COOPER: Well, if she is not going anywhere, the question is, what is she doing to Barack Obama by staying in?

Up next, Senator Clinton explains her remarks about hardworking Americans, white Americans -- those were her words -- remarks that some saw as injecting race into the campaign. She will explain.

Also, does she think Senator Obama would be a strong supporter of Israel? What about the gasoline tax? Her answers to all those questions, and she talks about Chelsea Clinton, coming up.

Later, John King "Keeping Them Honest" at the magic map, checking Clinton's claims to delegates from Michigan and Florida.

And, tonight, a late update from China's earthquake zone, where they -- we have seen inspiring rescues, but not nearly enough of them. We will take you to the front lines in the fight to save lives -- all that and more tonight on 360.


COOPER: We're up close with Hillary Clinton tonight.

Earlier today, CNN landed the first interview with the senator since her slam dunk in West Virginia. She talked with Wolf Blitzer about where her campaign goes next, and a lot more.

We picked up with pushback Senator Clinton has been getting on her proposed gas tax holiday.

Here's Hillary Clinton up close.


BLITZER: You were recently asked about your proposal to have a holiday on the gas tax. And you would pay for it by having a windfall profit tax on ExxonMobil and some of the other big oil companies. And then when you were pressed on economists who would endorse your idea, you said you're not going to put your lot in with economists.


BLITZER: Which raised questions: Are you not going to believe in what economists say?

CLINTON: No, but I think there's that old saying: You can find an economist to say nearly anything. Now, some of the economists were against it because they misunderstood my policy. They thought it wasn't paid for. And I would agree with those who said we can't afford a gas tax holiday that will add to the deficit, that will take money out of the highway trust fund. Others are against the mechanism of a windfall profits tax. They think that doesn't necessarily work well and that the cost will be passed on. My attitude is I think we could design such a windfall profits tax that would work, that would be enforceable and that would not be passed on.

I have been advocating a windfall profits tax on the oil companies to supplement a strategic energy fund that I have recommended for more than three years, and it's because I think that there is such a disconnect between what the oil companies have been raking in as profits and any comparable investment or effort that they have made to produce those profits.

There does seem to me to be an opportunity here, both to take away the subsidies for the oil companies, which clearly don't need our tax dollars to make these huge profits, and to try to impose a windfall profits tax.

BLITZER: But you will consult with economists.

CLINTON: Of course.

BLITZER: You believe in economists. And if you're president of the United States, you'll work with economists because when you said, "I'm not going to put my" -- your lot in with economists...

CLINTON: Not totally. Not totally. Sometimes economists are not right. And I think there are political ...

BLITZER: Most of the economists have criticized your plan.

CLINTON: Well, again, some of them didn't understand it, and some of them don't believe it could be done.

But you listen to all kinds of advisers, but then you have to try to make up your mind.

BLITZER: The Israelis are celebrating their 60th anniversary right now as an independent state.

Here is what McCain said about Barack Obama, and I want to get your reaction. He said, "I think" -- this is McCain -- "I think it's very clear who Hamas wants to be the next president of the United States. I think that people should understand that I will be Hamas' worst nightmare. If Senator Obama is favored by Hamas, I think people can make judgments accordingly."

McCain was referring to a statement by the North American spokesman for Hamas endorsing, in effect, Barack Obama.

Is McCain right?

CLINTON: No, I think that that's really just an overstatement, an exaggeration of any kind of political meaning, and I don't think that anybody should take that seriously.

BLITZER: Do you have confidence in Barack Obama as president would be a strong supporter of Israel? CLINTON: Yes, I do. I would believe that that would be the policy of the United States, and it's been our policy for 60 years.

BLITZER: Because the criticism he gets from McCain and his supporters -- McCain supporters -- is that he would be willing to meet unconditionally with the leader of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. And given the statements that Ahmadinejad has made about destroying Israel, that doesn't reassure, let's say, Israel.

CLINTON: Well, I think that's a different issue. You know, I objected when that statement was made back in an early debate. Because I don't believe that a United States president should commit to meet unconditionally with leaders of rogue nations.

That doesn't mean you don't eventually meet with them under appropriate circumstances, but not without conditions.

BLITZER: Let's talk about an issue that's come up in this campaign, the issue of race in the campaign. You were widely quoted in that "USA Today" interview.

I will read it to you.

"This just an AP article posted that found how Senator Obama's support among working, hardworking Americans, white Americans, is weakening again and how, you know, whites in both states who have not completed college were supporting me. I have a much broader base to build a winning coalition on."

Now, your great friend and supporter Congressman Charlie Rangel said -- and I'm quoting now -- "It's the dumbest thing you could have said."

CLINTON: Well, he's probably right.

BLITZER: Explain. He is? Well, explain.

CLINTON: Well, absolutely. Well, I was -- I was referencing an AP article. And, you know, obviously, I have worked very hard to get the votes of everyone. And I have campaigned hard.

I understand that we've got to put together a broad coalition in order to win in the fall. We've got to get to that 270 electoral vote margin. And I know Senator Obama has worked hard to reach out to every community and constituency.

So I'm going to continue to do that. That's what I think is in the best interest of our party and that's how we will win in November.

BLITZER: As someone who has championed civil rights all of these years. And you see all these stories coming up that he's getting 90 percent of the African American vote. You're doing well with these white, working class voters as you did in West Virginia, for example, Pennsylvania, in Ohio. How does that make you feel when you see this issue all of the sudden explode out there? CLINTON: Well, I obviously regret people exploiting an issue like that because I think it's not only unfounded, but, you know, it's offensive.

I think people vote for me because they think I would be the better president. I think people vote for him because they think he'd be the better president.

I think people vote for me because they believe I will fight for them. I think they vote for each of us for whatever combination of reasons that appeal to the individual voter.


COOPER: We're going to have more up close with Hillary Clinton in a moment. Wolf asked Senator Clinton about her daughter, Chelsea, how close are they. It's an emotional moment in the interview -- coming up.

Plus, CNN's John King "Keeping Them Honest" at the magic map, counting the delegates and showing us what happens if Barack Obama cannot win over more white working-class voters.

Also tonight, a lot more ahead. Stay tuned.


COOPER: We're up close tonight with Senator Hillary Clinton. CNN was first to interview her today about her overwhelming win in West Virginia last night. She also took tough questions from I- Reporters. And that's where we pick up with the interview.

Take a look.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator Clinton, I have a question for you. I was wondering, why do you believe that so many of your strongest Democratic supporters say that they would vote for Senator McCain over Senator Obama in the fall, if you were not to win the nomination?


CLINTON: Well, I have heard that from both my supporters and Senator Obama's supporters.

BLITZER: Because the exit polls show that -- a big chunk of it.

CLINTON: Both his supporters and my supporters might stay home or not vote for the other, and I just have to say as strongly as I can, Billy, that that would be a terrible mistake. Anybody that has ever voted for me or voted for Barack has much more in common, in terms of what we want to see happen in our country and in the world, with the other than they do with John McCain. So I'm going to work my heart out for whoever our nominee is. Obviously, I'm still hoping to be that nominee. But I'm going to do everything I can to make sure that anyone who supported me, the 17 million people who have voted for me, understand what a great error it would be not to vote for Senator McCain -- Senator Obama and against Senator McCain. And I know that Senator Obama has said he would do the same to campaign for me.

So you know, in the heat of a primary campaign, people get -- their passions are high. They feel intensely. That's all understandable. But once we have a nominee, we're going to have a unified Democratic Party.

BLITZER: We also got a variant of this question from a lot of our viewers. This was from a McCain supporter. He asked this question.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why do you continue to stay in the race for the Democratic nomination? Barack Obama is well ahead of you in delegates, and now ahead of you in the superdelegates. Many of them have switched to him after he won by a large margin over you in the North Carolina primaries last week.


CLINTON: Well, I'm -- I'm really touched that a McCain supporter would be so concerned about our primary. But let me say that after my big win last night in West Virginia, the delegate difference is extremely narrow. It is -- people have gone to conventions and fought out nominations with far fewer delegates. We have a close, close race here. And is a matter of inches. And we're going to keep going until someone gets 2,000 -- 2,010 delegates. That's the way our system works.

BLITZER: We have one final question, because we're out of time, and it involves your daughter, Chelsea. I have been watching her since she was a little girl. She came to Washington back in '93, in the '92 campaign, and now she's a grown woman. And she's out there, campaigning for you, every single day. I think she's in Puerto Rico right now.

And I know you talk to her every single day.


BLITZER: What goes through your mind, when you have your own daughter out there, working as hard for you as she is?

CLINTON: Well, it's one of the most incredibly gratifying experiences of my life, as a person and as a mother. You're going to make me get very emotional. She is an exceptional person, and she's worked so hard, and she's done such a good job that I'm just filled with pride every time I look at her. Obviously, we are very close. We are in communication all the time. But she is doing this because she believes I would be a good president, but also because she cares so much about our country's future. She did grow up in the White House. She knows what a difference a president makes.

If anybody ever doubted what difference a president makes, after seven years of George Bush, I think the doubts should be put to rest. So she's doing it because she's my daughter, but she's doing it because, as she says, she's a young American who cares about our future.

BLITZER: But she's doing it because she loves you.

CLINTON: Absolutely.


COOPER: A very personal moment from Senator Clinton.

Senator Clinton and her campaign -- campaign -- excuse me -- me now say she needs 2,210 delegates to win the nomination. But is she using some fuzzy math? John King is running the numbers at the magic map. And, tonight, he's "Keeping Them Honest."

First, tonight's "Beat 360": former President Bill Clinton in Missoula, Montana, with a future voter. Where's the cheesy music? There it is.

Here's the caption from our staff winner, Gabe: "Bubba courting the baby vote and coming up all wet."

Think you can do better? Go to I think you can. Send us your entry, or your entree, and we will announce the winner at the end of the program.



CLINTON: Senator Obama and I believe that the delegates from Florida and Michigan should be seated. Under the rules of our party, when you include all 50 states, the number of delegates needed to win is 2,209, and neither of us has reached that threshold yet.


COOPER: Two thousand, two hundred and nine, when she said it last night, 2,210 tonight, after the Democratic victory in that special congressional election in Mississippi -- Hillary Clinton throwing out some numbers after her landslide win last night in West Virginia.

But when Clinton talks about the delegate count, is she using facts or is she using fuzzy math? The answer, of course, depends on those two states, Florida and Michigan. "Keeping Them Honest" for us tonight, CNN's John King, who is at the magic map.

So, John, map out the numbers for us.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the numbers, under the existing rules, Anderson, look like this under right now.

Obama has the delegate lead, and this is the finish line. As we now know the rules, 2,025 gets you to the finish line. And this is the end. What Senator Clinton says is, move the finish line out here and make it 2,210 now, as you said, because of the results last night in Mississippi.

Now, where does she get that math? She says, count Florida and count Michigan, because they had contests, and those Democrats should get placed at the convention. Of course, they voted outside of the rules, so they're not counted right now, which is why our line is back here. If you give Senator Clinton the existing rules, Anderson, she needs 72 percent of the remaining delegates to catch Barack Obama.

If you gave her the delegates from Michigan and Florida, move the finish line out here, gave them in the proportion the Clinton campaign wants, which is unlikely to happen, but in her best-case scenario, if you gave her all these delegates, then she would still need 64 percent of the remaining delegates.

So this is a better map for her, but still a daunting map. She would get from 72 percent down to 64 percent. It would get her closer. They would have a better chance with the super delegates, but even if she won everything she wants, the math would still be Barack Obama needs fewer than four in 10 of the remaining delegates. Then he's the Democratic nominee.

COOPER: Let's talk about the problems that lie ahead for Barack Obama. We saw last night in West Virginia, Hillary Clinton doing exceptionally well and him doing terribly among older voters, among white women. If that stays the same for Barack Obama in other states, what does that mean moving forward?

KING: It could mean dramatic changes in the electoral map, and it is a problem for the Obama campaign right now. Without a doubt, it is a problem. They say they can address it, but let's look at the Electoral College map.

You need 270 to win. That is the line right here. And this is the last race. George W. Bush got 286, John Kerry got 252. So let's start with the map from the last race.

Here's what John McCain thinks. If Barack Obama continues to have these problems with older voters, white working-class voters, well, then that could put Pennsylvania in the Republican column. That could put -- you could come out here into Wisconsin and Minnesota and put those states in play.

So already John McCain thinks he is more competitive in blue- collar America, and he protects Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky, places where Hillary Clinton says she can compete.

Now, Obama does have a counter-argument. He says, "You know what? I'm registering new voters, so he disputes this would happen, but even if it does, the Obama campaign says, "If I can deal, especially, with the older voters, the senior issue," he thinks he can put Florida in play. The McCain campaign disputes that. But let's do that for the sake of argument.

He thinks he's getting younger and new voters, and he can play out here. He thinks he will improve among Latinos, past Nevada and New Mexico, because now you see what's happening. John McCain is now sneaking back. So Barack Obama says, "You know what? Maybe I'm having trouble with white voters. I'll turn out more African- Americans in a place like Virginia, maybe even from Georgia into play, if I can get the numbers up."

Now look what happens. Now Obama has won the White House under this scenario.

So what it tells you, it's only may. We're going to go back and forth over this a lot. But what it tells you is, if you can swing a state or two, if Obama can take back Missouri, he protects his lead. If McCain gets that, maybe take another -- keep Georgia red, then he's the president of the United States. Florida could be a thing like that.

So we're going to look at these states. I'm highlighting them in yellow. Those are your swing states. They're your swing states now. And I'll bet you bottom dollar most of them will be your swing states come November. But up here especially, is the issue of where we'll see whether Obama can prove his support among white working-class voters. If not, advantage Republicans when you look at this map.

COOPER: We'll be back here on election night, looking at those exact same states, no doubt.

Up next, the implications of those numbers and that map with our panel: CNN political analyst Gloria Borger, "TIME" magazine's Mark Halperin and Joe Klein.

You can also join the conversation with us. Check out our live blog. Also, the camera inside the studio during commercial breaks. That's at

Also ahead tonight, dramatic stories emerging from the rubble in China. We'll be right back.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A sign of life until the concrete. He shouts, "Get a doctor." And then pushes a microphone through the gap.

"Which classroom are you in?"

"Grade two," shouts a voice. "Hang on."

A tiny camera shows her legs jammed under the collapsed wall. The team carefully cuts through from above. And eventually they put her out, buried for two days, but still alive.




JOHN EDWARDS (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is our moment. This is our time to take down these walls, to close our divide, and build one America that we all believe in.


COOPER: More now on our breaking news, John Edwards endorsing Barack Obama and potentially helping Obama win over some white, working-class voters, a group that's been a tough sell for him, certainly in Pennsylvania and Virginia and last night in West Virginia.

Exit polling there showed that 22 percent of voters surveyed, nearly 1 in 4, said that race was important to them in making their decision. Now of that group, 82 percent voted for Hillary Clinton.

Let's dig deeper with CNN's Gloria Borger, along with "TIME" magazine's Mark Halperin and Joe Klein.

So the fact that 22 percent, as you said before, were willing to say that to a complete stranger, someone just asking them the question likely means that a whole lot more people felt that race was important. Moving forward for Barack Obama, how does he overcome that?

MARK HALPERIN, "TIME" MAGAZINE: He's been an incredible candidate, and part of the story of transcending race. For much of this contest, people have not thought of him as the African-American candidate. They thought of him as the candidate of change, as a great politician, as someone who beat Hillary Clinton in race after race.

Now, he's going to have to confront it, because the exit polls make it clear that for many Americans it is an issue. We've never had an African-American president. I'll break that here on the program. He's going to figure out how to appeal to voters in a way that makes them comfortable with him as president. It extends beyond race, by race is a big part of it.

COOPER: How much of it do you think is Reverend Wright?

JOE KLEIN, "TIME" MAGAZINE: I think part of it is Reverend Wright, but part of it is these constituencies he's been dealing with. I mean, West Virginia is a state with a very low level of college graduates, a very low level of African-Americans. And it is -- you know, it isn't typical of the rest of the country. A lot of the rest of the country has moved on, and really does see Barack Obama as someone beyond race.

The Reverend Wright situation raised doubts in some people, and his name raises doubts in some people. But I think that over time, you know, he now has an opportunity to reintroduce himself, a couple of opportunities to reintroduce himself between now and the general election.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: And you know, age is also an issue here, because in West Virginia, the electorate is much older. Younger people see race very differently from people over 60 years old.

COOPER: Do you think that is the story of this election, that when we look back on it years from now, it will be the story of a generational shift, a generational difference?

BORGER: Well, I think that -- that's part of Barack Obama appeal, in fact what he wrote about in his book, which is that it's time to stop re-litigating the fights of the '60s, to move beyond those fights. And so he's at the cusp of the Baby Boom. Right? He's -- he's not a Baby Boomer, I don't think, by maybe a year.

KLEIN: The irony, though, is that he's gotten all caught up in the...

COOPER: Right. That's what...

KLEIN: ... dorm fights of the '60s, now...

BORGER: Sure, sure.

KLEIN: ... with his Weatherman friends and, you know -- and the racial problems. But the real game-changers this year are the young people. If they hadn't come out for Barack Obama the way they did, Hillary Clinton would be the nominee.

HALPERIN: You had a piece on your show the other night with a sound bite that still haunts me. A woman supporter of Hillary Clinton said a lot of people are interested and fascinated by the idea of Barack Obama, but not the ideas of Barack Obama.

The idea of Barack Obama, this transcendent figure who's seen as post-racial, I think that has been an incredibly big part of his success. He's going to have to be a candidate of ideas going forward, and that's still a big...

COOPER: You bring up that piece, which I think was Erica Hill's piece, in which she interviewed female Clinton supporters, and a number of them were not going to vote for Barack Obama if, in fact, he was the candidate. And on our blogs tonight, there's a lot of people listening right now who are blogging, saying they're not going to vote for Barack Obama if Hillary Clinton is not the nominee, either.

BORGER: Well, I don't necessarily believe that. I think people end up changing their minds, particularly if Hillary Clinton, as I would expect she would be, would be very gracious in endorsing Barack Obama, campaigning for Barack Obama, trying to convince those voters that they ought to support him. I'm not so sure I believe that that would last.

KLEIN: I think that what Mark said about becoming a candidate of ideas is a very important thing. Right now John McCain is stealing a march on him. Ideas don't always have to do with substance. They also have to do with style.

And if, as being reported, John McCain says tomorrow he wants a question and answer period with the Congress the way the British prime minister does, that's something new and fresh, and exciting. Barack Obama's going to have to -- have to go one on one with those sorts of idea with John McCain.

HALPERIN: I don't think he's had a new and fresh and exciting, substantive idea, even presented as symbolism, the entire campaign. It's incredible he's come this far without that, but I don't think he can win the general election without it.

BORGER: But you know, the other day I think we saw him start putting some meat on the bones when he's talking about his economic plan and trying to attach policy to the idea of change. And that's what he's got to do. He's got to try and integrate them. And the super delegates.

KLEIN: But there's a mind-numbing amount of meat on the bones when you look at Barack Obama's policy papers, but nobody reads policy papers.

BORGER: You do.

KLEIN: Sometimes. And what he's got to do is figure out how to make those substantive things real, and compelling and immediate for people.

COOPER: It's interesting. Mark Halperin, Gloria Borger, Joe Klein, thanks. Very good discussion tonight.

Still ahead, earthquake aftermath in China. Thousands are still trapped beneath the rubble. The story is just unbelievable. Tonight we have an amazing story of survival. A little girl, buried alive for three days. She's pulled to safety. She is one of the lucky ones. We bring you updates. CNN's John Vause has her story and the latest on help now arriving on the scene. A live report is next.


COOPER: Heartbreaking, the devastation in China continuing to unfold before our eyes. It is simply staggering, the scale of this. Tonight the official death toll is close to 15,000. We know the numbers are expected to rise much higher. As many as tens of thousands are feared buried under the ruins of homes and schools. Literally, entire towns in some places.

Within the catastrophe, however, there are some incredible stories of survival, especially of kids. We want to share one such story with you tonight. As you see through the horror, it is immeasurable, the horror. But through it there is still hope.

CNN's John Vause reports on a girl rescued after being trapped for some 50 hours.


JOHN VAUSE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Beneath this pile of rubble, a little girl has survived for three days.

"Send a doctor now," yells this rescue worker. The girl's leg is trapped between two collapsed walls. Eventually she's freed. One saved. More than 18,000 others in this one county alone are believed to be still trapped.

The world's biggest army is racing to save as many lives as possible. And at the epicenter of the quake, help has arrived by air and by foot, but no one knows how many people there are still alive.

Landslides have blocked these narrow mountain roads. Houses here were pulverized by huge boulders. The quake sent entire mountainsides crashing down, sweeping away everything in their path.

This woman's mother, brother and sister-in-law were buried alive. "There was a building several stories high," she says. "And it just sank into the ground. It just sank into the earth."

More than 3 million homes have been destroyed, leaving many to huddle in makeshift refugee camps without power, without running water.

"This is what's left of our village," this man tells me, "just over 100 survivors. Three hundred were killed."

(on camera) These people are living under plastic sheeting, under the tarpaulins. There's not even the most basic of facilities here. There's no showers. There are no bathrooms. The area is littered with trash, and a steady drizzle over the past 24 hours has turned the ground into mud.

(voice-over) There is help from the army, but before the soldiers give out food and water, they sing.

"There is no hardship we can't overcome," are the lyrics, but now there is only much more hardship to come.


COOPER: John joins us now from about 50 miles north of Chengdu in Sichuan province. John, I'm haunted by a report you did last night, as well, in which -- and when we talked last night, you talked about driving for dozens of miles along a road, I think about 100 miles, and just seeing people littered along the side of the road needing medical attention and not receiving any. How is the relief effort going now?

VAUSE: It seems to be ramping up, Anderson, not just with the government, but also with private individuals doing whatever they can.

Take a look at this. This is a pile of donations which has sprung up here on the side of the road in a city called Mianyun (ph). We're probably about 30 or 40 miles away from Sichuan County, which was particularly badly hit.

All of these donations are actually blankets and clothes. They're intended for about 10,000 people who are now living in this city's refugee camp. They're among the 10 million people who have been directly affected by this earthquake.

Now, the good news is that this road over here is the main road to Sichuan County. It has now been cleared. There has been a steady stream of emergency vehicles and military trucks heading north to Sichuan County. Seven thousand people killed there. And that's where that little girl was rescued. Some 18,000 people still buried under the rubble.

There's also some good news in the sense that Chinese officials say that all affected areas have now been reached, including Wenchuan County, which was directly over the epicenter. In the past 24 hours, 15 elite airborne troops or soldiers parachuted into that area, and several hundred other soldiers have reached there on foot, Anderson.

COOPER: One can only imagine what they are seeing arriving in that place for the first time. You talked about some 12,000 or 15,000 -- I can't remember exactly -- people still missing in one province alone. Do we have a sense of overall numbers? I know 15,000 is the official death toll. Do we know how many are still missing?

VAUSE: Well, in one town alone, there's 30,000 people who have not checked in. They don't know where they are. They don't know where -- what their condition is. They may have left the city. They may be trapped under rubble. They just don't know.

But it appears that what they have on the number as far as people being buried underneath debris is somewhere between 25,000 and 30,000, but still everywhere there is these huge numbers of people who are unaccounted for.

COOPER: John Vause working around the clock to bring us the story. John, thank you very much.

Up next, dangerous weather, tornado warnings in effect tonight across Texas. We'll check in with Chad Myers. He's following the breaking news in our severe weather center.

Also ahead, new protection for polar bears, the latest on a story we first brought you on "Planet in Peril."

And T-shirts comparing Barack Obama to Curious George. The story behind the offensive fashion statement, next.


COOPER: More breaking news tonight: severe, dangerous weather in Texas. Following developments for us, as always, CNN severe weather expert, Chad Myers.

Chad, what's going on?

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Anderson, really a brutal night in some spots right around Austin, Texas, especially the northern suburbs, Pflugerville, Round Rock, right where Delahad (ph) headquarters are. Seventeen-thousand, nine hundred lightning strikes in the past hour with just this one storm. And that's right over Round Rock now.

We do know there's been an awful lot of hail damage with the storm, as well. And it's going to be a hail night across a lot of Texas, although there are some tornado warnings still, right around Round Rock itself. You can easily see what we call this hook. That's the hook echo that we look for the possibility of a tornado. That is Pflugerville right now.

We'll keep you advised, but things are going to be a little bit bumpy all night long. If you live in Texas and a storm heads your way, stay inside. There's a lot of lightning, a lot of hail and the possibility of tornadoes with them.

COOPER: All right, Chad. Thanks for that. Appreciate the update.

More headlines now. Erica Hill joins us with a "360 News and Business Bulletin" -- Erica.

ERICA HILL, HEADLINE NEWS ANCHOR: Anderson, a new number tonight: 128,000. That is the number of people the Red Cross now fears dead in last week's cyclone in Burma, the country, of course, also known as Myanmar. The Red Cross also warning even more will die unless relief reaches them soon.

Meantime, the U.N. is dispatches its humanitarian chief to persuade military leaders to accept more foreign aid.

Polar bears are now on the list of threatened species. The Interior Department adding them today, blaming melting polar ice due to global warming.

America's fruit and vegetable growers could be big winners if a quarter-trillion-dollar farm bill passes -- passed by the House today, rather, actually becomes law. More than a billion dollars are earmarked to promote so-called specialty crops, including a plan to expand a healthy snack program at schools nationwide. That bill, by the way, passed by a decent margin. And T-shirts depicting Senator Obama as a cartoon monkey have caught the attention of publishing giant Houghton-Mifflin. The company, which owns the rights to Curious George, may take legal action to stop an Atlanta area bar from selling those shirts.

Now, the owner of the bar says he chose the design because it resembled Obama, but he says -- get this -- "I didn't mean any offense by it." Really?

COOPER: This guy is -- this guy is such a moron. Do we have a picture of this guy? His name is Mike Norman. I think we should say his name and show his picture. Because this is the guy who is claiming that this is -- you know, that there's nothing offensive about this; he doesn't see anything offensive about this. I mean, just...

HILL: He says that, but then he also goes on to say -- in one thing I read, he said, "Hey, it's 2008. It shouldn't be an issue." He has to understand, if it was the '40s it wouldn't be -- really?

COOPER: So annoying that -- I mean, how -- I don't believe anyone can be this stupid as this man apparently claims to be. It just -- it's moronic. And it's annoying that people aren't showing his face and saying his name, which is Mike Norman. It's just -- it's unbelievable.

All right. On a much lighter and very welcome note, "Beat 360." Your chance to go head to head with our staff by coming up with a better caption for the photo we post each day on our blog.

Tonight's picture shows a distressed-looking former President Clinton clutching an equally, perhaps, distressed-looking Shialynne Tulsani (ph), the baby's name, following a speech at the University of Montana in Missoula.

Our staff winner, Gabe, tonight, the caption reads: "Bubba courting the baby vote and coming up all wet."


COOPER: Tonight's view winner goes by the name of G.G. Not sure if it's a he or a she. Here's G.G.'s caption: "Hey, Obama, here's something you can change!"


HILL: Clever.

COOPER: As always, you can check out the captions that didn't make the cut by going to and clicking on our blog.

"The Shot" is next: surveillance tape of the supernatural? Check out what pops up on what is allegedly closed-circuit television. That is ahead.

And at the top of the hour: John Edwards and his big endorsement, what it means for Barack Obama, if anything and for Hillary Clinton.


COOPER: All right. Time now for "The Shot." Check this out. It's actually kind of creepy.

It's allegedly closed-circuit TV from what appears to be an office building. Keep your eye on the bottom of the right, on the bottom right screen. You see the folks in the elevator there. They enter the elevator alone. Then watch what happens when they leave.





HILL: Oh, no.

COOPER: I told you it was creepy. As our staff member, Ashley, said, "It really freaked me out."

HILL: It freaked me out, too.

COOPER: The video of Granny the ghost is making the rounds on the Internet. Frankly, I do not believe it for a second.

HILL: I don't buy it, either.

COOPER: One post we found on YouTube says it's a spot from an advertising agency, but we thought it was kind of cool. So it is tonight's Shot."

HILL: Even me the biggest wuss -- I totally believe in ghosts and would be crept out -- I don't think she's real.

COOPER: I don't think it's real at all. I wonder how they, like, put out the ad, looking for someone willing to be slumped over. And -- you know.

If you want to check out "The Shot" or...

HILL: We won't see your face, but you can be in the ad.

COOPER: "More slump in the shoulders."

Join our online conservation during the show. Just log on to

Coming up at the top of the hour, the Edwards effect, if any. Can it boost Barack Obama precisely where he needs boosting the most?

Later, Hillary Clinton speaking out on race, taxes. Her numeric case for the nomination, does it add up? John King and the big board is "Keeping Them Honest" tonight on 360.