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THE SITUATION ROOM
Obama V.P. Watch; U.S. to Leave Iraq By 2011?; Awaiting Barack Obama's V.P. Pick; Inside the August Curse; Evangelist Won't Lead Prayer at Democratic Convention
Aired August 22, 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: This could be the hour when Barack Obama finally reveals his running mate. We're following all the key players, including Hillary Clinton. She's speaking out about her chances for the job. The best political team on television is standing by to bring you the big announcement at any time.
Also, new progress toward bringing U.S. troops home from Iraq. It could dramatically change the presidential campaign debate over the war.
And he was invited to lead a prayer at the Democratic Convention -- why a young evangelical said, thanks, but no thanks.
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Barack Obama may be trying to compete with the Beijing Olympics by creating enormous suspense about his vice presidential choice. Our vice presidential watch right now way into overdrive. Our cameras are trained on the homes of Obama's possible running mates and on the Chicago airport where his number two might land, literally, at any time.
We have heard some of the top prospects today about whether or not they're running or not running, including from Hillary Clinton.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: Do you still want the job?
SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: I have never said I did. I have always said that I will do whatever I can, because I feel so strongly in making sure that we elect Senator Obama our next president.
REP. CHET EDWARDS (D), TEXAS: I have been considered throughout this process. And Speaker Pelosi has been a strong advocate in my behalf. But I respected the process from day one. And I want to continue to do that today and allow any details about the process and the final decisions to be made by Senator Obama and their campaign, not by anyone else.
GOV. KATHLEEN SEBELIUS (D), KANSAS: I don't really comment on my phone calls. And as I have told you for months, all the comments about this process and the discussions are really coming from the campaign.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Let's go straight to our senior political correspondent.
She's in Chicago. Candy Crowley is there. That's where -- Barack Obama is there.
We're all waiting, Candy. You have been speaking to these folks nonstop. What do we know?
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, what we know is, they are running out of the window before they're having the rally in Springfield, at which the vice presidential choice will appear.
We do know that this is a Herculean task, because what they want to do is to text message and e-mail supporters and volunteers, kind of to bring them into this process. They want them to know first. And they have millions of people that have signed up for this text message. So, there's a logistical problem there that they need to work around.
One would have thought, if you were looking at this from the classic political sense, that they might have done that before the broadcast networks had their Friday evening news. We seem to be very close, if not past that point.
So, what they are doing here, Wolf, is doing a very slow roll into the convention. Those four days are the time that the Democrats sort of strut their stuff for the rest of the nation, saying, here's what the Democratic Party is about. What you have to do is get people to watch. This is part of the drumroll. This is part of building kind of the excitement, trying to get people into the process, saying, who is it going to be? Who is it going to be?
And as long as they can draw that out, the more attention that the campaign gets. I mean, the less information people have, the more attention that this is bringing to the Obama campaign. It's precisely what they want.
BLITZER: And the more the suspense, the more they're hoping they can bring in, entice people to sign up for those text message alerts from the Barack Obama campaign, get some more people on their lists.
CROWLEY: Right, absolutely. It's a treasure trove of information.
You -- you have people who were interested enough to want to know who your vice presidential candidate was. Those are potential donors. Those are potential volunteers. Those are, most importantly, potential voters. This campaign has been amazing at gathering information in a number of ways.
They have taken technology to a whole new level. And, remember, who uses text messages, primarily? It's young people. That is the voting bloc that Barack Obama needs to keep interested, needs to keep involved. It is there that he hopes to bring in a base of support that has not always been there for either Democrats or Republicans to offset maybe the more traditional voters that he might not be able to win.
So, this is directed at, A, gathering information and having as much as possible for future use, but also at keeping the excitement level going for the young people who came out and voted for him in droves during the primaries.
BLITZER: Good point, Candy. Thanks very much.
We also know that some of those who aren't going to be the vice president, they have already been informed by Senator Obama that they didn't get picked. But they're not saying yet, because the suspense is building.
By the way, a little bit later, we are going to be hearing directly from Senator Hillary Clinton on whether or not her primary supporters will vote for Barack Obama in the November election. And she spoke extensively today. You are going to see that. That's coming up shortly right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Meantime, John McCain is enjoying some downtime at his home in Arizona. His campaign is just as eager as the rest of us to learn the name of Barack Obama's vice presidential choice.
Let's bring in CNN's Ed Henry. He's working this part of the story for us.
How are they, the McCain campaign, preparing for this big announcement?
ED HENRY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, you said eager. They're also anxious. They keep calling reporters, saying, what are you hearing? They want to know who Barack Obama is going to choose. It is going to obviously have an impact on who John McCain chooses. But it's an impact on what they're going to do.
And they're promising to be just as aggressive in their rapid response to whoever the running mate is as the Obama camp in how they role this out. So, they are going to have surrogates on television all weekend reacting. And they also have been working behind the scenes for months now digging up information on every single possibility, one example, Joe Biden.
He's been in the Senate since 1972. There's a lot to pore over, obviously. And they have gone through everything from, for example, the debate last summer, in which Joe Biden raised questions about Barack Obama's experience, whether he could be commander in chief. But, also, they have gone all the way back to Joe Biden's own first presidential campaign in 1988.
Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, MODERATOR: You were asked, is he ready? You said, "I think he can be ready, but, right now, I don't believe he is. The presidency is not something that lends itself to on-the-job training."
SEN. JOSEPH BIDEN (D), DELAWARE: I think I stand by the statement.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NARRATOR: The White House isn't the place to learn how to deal with international crises, the balance of power, war and peace, and the economic future of the next generation. A president has got to know the territory. But that's not enough.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HENRY: Now, you heard right there, in the first debate, ABC's debate with George Stephanopoulos, pressed on whether George Bush had the experience one year ago, Joe Biden said he did not.
And then, in his very first presidential campaign in 1988, Joe Biden basically saying experience in dealing with a foreign crisis is critical for a commander in chief. That's an ad John McCain that could have written. In fact, he's already written ads like that, Wolf.
BLITZER: What do we know about John McCain's selection process? We expect one week from today, the day after the Democratic Convention, he is going to roll out his vice presidential candidate. "TIME" magazine was saying he has basically selected Mitt Romney.
HENRY: What is interesting -- the McCain campaign shot that down pretty quickly, saying that John McCain has not decided it's going to be Mitt Romney. Frankly, he hasn't decided it's going to be anyone just yet, that basically Romney is still in the mix. Tim Pawlenty, the Minnesota governor, is still in the mix. And even Tom Ridge, the moderate who has raised a lot of concerns among conservatives, he's still in the mix as well.
Bottom line is, the McCain campaign is saying, we have the luxury of going second. We're not going to rush into this.
John McCain is taking a little time off in Arizona. He's thinking about all of this. And he's going to see who Obama picks. That may have an impact. If Obama picks really well, he gets a strong bounce out of his convention, that might mean that John McCain decides he's got to really get someone who is going to rally the conservative troops. If the race is as close as it is now, he may make a different choice -- Wolf.
BLITZER: We will see. Thanks very much, Ed Henry, for that.
Ed Henry is working his sources.
An important new development today could change this presidential campaign debate. And it involves the Iraq war, the U.S. and Iraq right now moving forward with a plan to withdraw American troops by 2011. The White House says the leaders of both sides spoke by secure video on the proposal hammered out by U.S. and Iraqi negotiators.
It's not a done deal by any means, at least not yet. But it does set a course for U.S. combat troops to leave major Iraqi cities by June of next year. And a broader withdrawal would come two years later. The dates could be adjusted if the military and political situation deteriorate.
Our Brian Todd has been looking into the possible impact of all of this on the McCain/Obama race. Brian, what are the campaigns saying?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, they are both claiming vindication, both saying that, on the Iraq issue, at least, this deal takes the wind out of the other guy's sails.
TODD (voice-over): For both John McCain and Barack Obama, there is spin for the taking out of the proposed agreement for a complete U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq by the end of 2011.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Looks like the plan that I had talked about two years ago to start pulling our troops out in a responsible way.
TODD: Obama's aides and Democratic strategists also tell us they believe this isolates John McCain. Even the Bush administration has come around to a timetable for withdrawal, they say, and McCain's the only one who hasn't. Obama has long favored a timetable, but his is quicker -- withdrawal within 16 months from when he would take office.
McCain's supporters say, far from isolating him, this agreement justifies a stand he took when it wasn't popular.
LESLIE SANCHEZ, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: He was one of the people that said the surge was necessary, and it plays very much to the fact that his strategy worked. And in essence, it was trying to create stability and security in Iraq so that U.S. forces could come home sooner.
TODD: Still, McCain's aides say he's sticking to his position against what they call an artificial timetable with a date certain.
So who's really got the advantage from this deal? Analysts who don't take a position say it all may depend on whether this agreement resolves the Iraq issue for voters.
LARRY SABATO, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA: What voters are thinking about Iraq, it may play to McCain's strengths. If they're thinking about the economy, it will almost certainly play to Obama's strengths.
TODD: And that may depend on whether security conditions on the ground deteriorate between now and November 4. Of course, that is the crux of both candidates' positions on Iraq at the moment -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Brian, thank you.
So, which states are red? Which states are blue? Which states are up for grabs? Our own John King, he is already at the Democratic Convention. He's there with our magic map. Stay tuned for that.
And meet a man who said no to Barack Obama -- why an up-and- coming evangelist turned down a chance to speak at the convention.
Plus, is Hillary Clinton still in the running for running mate? Is she doing enough to help out Barack Obama? His former rival is speaking out -- Hillary Clinton at length, that's coming up next.
BLITZER: It's an extremely well-kept secret. But as soon as Barack Obama reveals who he's chosen as his running mate, we will let you know exactly when we know.
His former rival Hillary Clinton still in the mix. Here's some of what she had to say just a little while ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: Senator Clinton, have you gotten a phone call from Senator Barack Obama?
CLINTON: You know, my answer to any question about the subject that I think you're referring to is that all inquiries should be directed at Senator Obama's campaign.
QUESTION: Do you still want the job?
CLINTON: I have never said I did. I have always said that I will do whatever I can, because I feel so strongly in making sure that we elect Senator Obama our next president.
And I'm going to do everything I can, as I did yesterday in Florida, to make sure that happens.
CLINTON: Yes, just a minute. Yes.
QUESTION: Yesterday, in Florida, you did talk to supporter. You did tell them to back Senator Obama. And yet, this morning, in "The Times, they talked to some of those supporters that didn't quite seem to get the message. How are you going to get past that? How do they get past that point?
CLINTON: I think it's just a matter of time.
It's been my experience, having participated in lots of elections, that people make up their minds on different timetables. We talk a lot about swing voters. That's because voters swing. They haven't decided who they're for.
And I think that, once we get through the conventions -- and I expect we will have a terrific, positive, unified convention next week -- voters are going to be paying attention to what each candidate actually stands for and what it will mean in their lives. And that's when I think Senator Obama's support will continue to grow. And I expect he will be victorious in November.
QUESTION: Well, Senator, what does he need in a vice presidential candidate then to help carry that in November? What does he need in the number-two spot?
CLINTON: Whatever he decides he needs. That's for him to decide.
CLINTON: I am not in that arena. This is his decision. And I respect him to make it however he believes is best for him and for our party and for the country.
QUESTION: Do you feel like you have been pushing enough for him? Some people say they think that you should say Barack Obama all the time and that you haven't been mentioning him enough and rally enough support for him?
CLINTON: Well, I think, again, that's perhaps a misperception about both what I have done and the fact that I have probably done more for Senator Obama than anybody in my position has ever done by this time.
And maybe it's because I know what other people have done and the fact that very often these contests went all the way to the convention. They were contested. There were fights. And most people never got around to endorsing the winning candidate until the convention, sometimes even later.
So, I think it's a fair assessment that I have done more than anybody has done in my position. And I intend to keep doing everything that I can.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Senator Clinton speaking at length about all of this just a little while ago. Meantime, Senator Obama is set to appear with his number two, whoever that may be, at a rally in Springfield, Illinois, tomorrow. Our special coverage here on CNN will begin at 2:00 p.m. Eastern. I will be anchoring our coverage for that. Stand by on more from Senator Obama tomorrow and his running mate.
We will be broadcasting, by the way, live all day from the Democrats' big party in Denver. They unveiled their convention platform today, center stage for their push to get Barack Obama elected president.
Our chief national correspondent, John King, is already there. He's in Denver. He's got his little magic wall. it looks like a sort of smaller version of the one we used to use.
Is that right, John?
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A portable version, Wolf, from what our viewers are familiar with seeing throughout the Democratic primary season and the Republican primary season. We will have this at both conventions.
Let me give you a sense of what the Pepsi Center will look like. This is how the Democratic primaries played out, the darker blue and the lighter blue representing Obama, and Clinton the lighter blue. Here's how all this will translate to the floor here in the Pepsi Center.
These are how the delegations are spread out around. And there is a heavy emphasis down here -- and let's use green so it stands out -- in the middle on the key battleground states, of course, Barack Obama's home state of Illinois. But he would like to take Virginia away from the Republicans. That's right down here in the middle, Florida, a huge swing state right down here.
Some smaller states he wants to put in play, Indiana, New Mexico, Nevada, New Hampshire, and over here as well Michigan and Pennsylvania and Iowa. So, right down center stage for the big Democratic speeches in this hall will be some of the key delegations.
Now, what is the goal of this convention? Not only to excite these Democratic activists, so that they go home and do all the work that needs to be done, but to try to change the electoral map even more in his favor. This is how we have it at CNN right now, 221 electoral votes leaning toward Barack Obama from the states shaded in blue, 189 electoral votes leaning toward McCain in the states shaded red.
These swing states -- you see them on the map -- these tossups right now in the CNN system. And they're big states, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada. Over here, the industrial battlegrounds, you have Michigan, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Florida. These will be the target states.
Every speech, all the economic message will be designed at moving these states more in Barack Obama's way. And, Wolf, as we watch over the next several hours or several minutes, whenever it all plays out, as Barack Obama picks his running mate, we will be looking at this map as well.
Let's say it's Tim Kaine, the governor of Virginia. Well, could that turn this state from red last election to blue this election? So, we have the map as well that will help us factor in all the politics as all this plays out. It's a cozy room in the Pepsi Center, Wolf. You will enjoy it, our platform right down here on the floor.
BLITZER: John, you're about as good a reporter as anyone out there. What are you hearing about the timing? We have all been waiting for the last couple, three days. The suspense is building. What are you hearing?
KING: Even many of the Obama aides here early to help get the convention ready, they're waiting for the final word as well.
One told me today that that elaborate text messaging system they have laid out would take three or four hours for everybody who is signed up to get the text message. Now, this aide says he doesn't know this for sure, but he thinks that leads him to believe they would do it some time in the early morning hours tomorrow, so that all those text messages go out before the big event in Springfield, Illinois.
But other aides it could happen any time. So, we think it might not be until the morning. But, trust me, we're all working our sources to find out...
BLITZER: But, if they do it overnight, if they do it overnight, and especially on the West Coast, and a lot of those phones or BlackBerrys start vibrating or ringing or making notice, don't they risk alienating, angering a lot of people who are going to be woken up in the middle of the night, if you will?
KING: Their take is that anyone who signed up for this information is an Obama supporter who wants it or a member of the news media who needs it and that people would be excited for it.
But that's one reason that we think if it doesn't happen by late night, more likely, it will some time around dawn tomorrow. And, Wolf, they have all this programmed into the computer by area code. So, they can start sending them on the East Coast, where it's a bit earlier, and then sequence the sending of the e-mails across the country. So, say, if you're out in California, maybe you will get it at 6:00 a.m. instead of 3:00 a.m.
BLITZER: I like the saxophone guy behind you over there.
Thanks very much.
BLITZER: I will see you down -- see you in Denver, up in Denver, I should say, tomorrow. And we're waiting for Senator Obama to reveal his pick for running mate. Take a look at this. It's a live picture of Senator Evan Bayh's home right here in Washington, D.C. Could he, could Senator Bayh be Obama's pick?
Plus, how has he been able to keep this a secret? That's a good question. And if he wins in November, would Obama run a very secretive White House?
Plus, a train runs off the tracks and some of its cars explode, sending massive fireballs into the sky.
Tropical Storm Fay may finally be ready to leave Florida, finally, after leaving a trail of death and destruction.
BLITZER: We're waiting to hear from Barack Obama. Is he ready to spill the beans? He has, yes, decided who his running mate will be, but we expect him to let the secret out soon. We will look at the factors that are weighing into his very tough decision.
And John McCain is having a tough time competing with all the Obama vice presidential hoopla, not to mention the Democratic Convention next week. The best political team on television on McCain's work behind the scenes on his own vice presidential choice.
And the clock is ticking. Time is running out before Obama is scheduled to appear with his new running mate tomorrow. Is Obama taking the tease too far?
Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: To our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now, change versus experience -- which one will Barack Obama's running mate bring to the Democratic ticket and which might help him the most?
Also, the Democrats so-called August curse -- why is this month historically so bad for Democratic president candidates?
All of this, plus the best political team on television.
Plus, we're staking out all major Democrats -- the major Democrats vice presidential contenders. The announcement could still come this hour. You'll hear it first right here in THE SITUATION ROOM. If we know, you will know.
I'm Wolf Blitzer.You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Barack Obama's vice presidential secret could be revealed at any time. But there's still no official word on who it is or exactly when the big announcement will happen. We have our cameras glued to the homes of the possible running mates and the Chicago airport, where one of them could be whisked away. When we know, as they say, you will know.
In the meantime, let's go to our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider. He's in Denver watching all of this unfold -- Bill, it's, no doubt, a difficult decision that Barack Obama has to make because it will explain a lot to voters out there, who this man is, what his priorities are. I guess the question to you is how difficult of a decision is it?
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: A very tough choice. He has to decide whether he wants to go for change or for experience.
OBAMA: Hello, Chesapeake!
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Barack Obama could choose a running mate who reinforces his message of change.
OBAMA: We are going to fundamentally bring about change in America.
SCHNEIDER: How about a Washington outsider like Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius?
Women are often seen as political outsiders...
GOV. TIM KAINE (D), VIRGINIA: The finest of the fine.
SCHNEIDER: Or Virginia Governor Tim Kaine?
OBAMA: Tim Kaine got in this thing for the right reasons.
SCHNEIDER: On the other hand, Obama's limited experience seems to be a weakness.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What process would you use to pull in the experience that you would need?
SCHNEIDER: He could go for Senator Hillary Clinton, who's been in Washington since 1992, or Evan Bayh, two-term governor of Indiana, two-term senator.
SEN. JOSEPH BIDEN (D), DELAWARE: A staff member.
SCHNEIDER: Joe Biden has been in the Senate for 36 years.
How's that for experience?
OBAMA: I've joined with people like Joe Biden to increase a billion dollars billion of investment. SCHNEIDER: Is it possible for Obama to do both -- reinforce his message of change and reassure voters he has people around him with experience?
OBAMA: The key to bringing about change in Washington is going to be to get some good people in there, get a good president, get a good senator, get good congressmen in there.
SCHNEIDER: Chet Edwards has been in Congress for 18 years. He's a moderate Democrat who sometimes supports President Bush and sometimes opposes him.
REP. CHET EDWARDS (D), TEXAS: We have had a lot of disagreements on how to end the Iraq war and -- and on the budget plan of the administration.
SCHNEIDER: After all, he's President Bush's congressman.
SCHNEIDER: Senator Obama talks a lot about bipartisanship and ending the partisan gridlock in Washington. Now, that would certainly be a change -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Bill Schneider in Denver for us.
Let's continue this discussion.
Joining us right now, our senior political analyst, Gloria Borger. She's over at the convention site in Denver. Here in Washington, Steve Hayes, the senior writer for "The Weekly Standard" and our CNN senior analyst, Jeff Toobin. He's in New York. They're all part of the best political team on television.
How has he managed, Gloria -- you and I have covered this business for so long -- how has he managed to keep this a secret up until now?
It's pretty impressive, if you ask me.
GLORIA BORGER, SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it is impressive. I remember with John Kerry, that was kept a secret, too. But this one we've been talking about for such a long time, Wolf. And I think the way he's done it is he's kept his circle of advisers very small.
I'm told that there are only about a handful of people who really know. I believe that the person who has been chosen already knows, but that person has been warned that they really want to let their supporters know, through this text messaging, before the press finds out, because they really want to give their supporters the sense that they've got the inside information. And that's how they want to do it.
BLITZER: Jeffrey, is that what he's trying to accomplish, just to get the circle of friends that he has out there on the Internet, make that circle just a little bit bigger? JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST, "NEW YORKER" MAGAZINE COLUMNIST: Well, also, I think he's trying to freeze the news process. We're spending all this time talking about Obama. McCain can't get through. And, you know, the sad truth is, I guess, we're not as good at our jobs as we think we are. You know, we just try to find this stuff out and we can't and it's frustrating to us.
But I think people out there in the real world, they don't care if they find out Thursday Friday, Saturday. They're going to find out. They'll know and then they'll decide whether they like the candidate.
BLITZER: Well, a lot of people are buzzing about it, Steve. I think Jeff makes a good point.
Can -- here's a question to you, Steve -- can McCain do the same thing next week, a week from today, next Friday?
He's supposed to make his announcement and the speculation will be intense, I assume, for that, as well.
STEPHEN HAYES, SENIOR WRITER AT "THE WEEKLY STANDARD": Well, you know, if he can do it, if he can manage to pull it off, I think it will largely be because all of our attention will be on the Democrats, basically, for the week. So we won't be focusing on McCain as much until Friday.
But, remember, Senator McCain is somebody who likes to deal with the press. He's got advisers who have spent most of their careers speaking openly to the press. So I'd be surprised if he would be able to keep this a secret the way that the Obama team has.
BLITZER: Because you already heard "TIME" magazine was already saying, Steve, that Mitt Romney has got it, although the McCain camp is pooh-poohing that.
HAYES: Yes. I talked to a couple of people over there today and they said that's way premature. They acknowledged that Romney was certainly in the running. Somebody who was on the discussion -- one of the people I talked to, you know, in the matter of having this discussion started telling me why Mitt Romney would be a good pick. So, you know, we can read these tea leaves all night.
BLITZER: You heard James Carville, Gloria, and Paul Begala here in THE SITUATION ROOM -- two top Democratic strategists, both very close to the Clintons. They were sort of upset by that piece on Politico.com by Mike Allen saying that Hillary Clinton, you know what, she may have been on Barack Obama's short list, but she has not actually been formally vetted at all for this vice presidential slot.
What do you make of this?
BORGER: Well, I think that from early on, it was pretty clear that Barack Obama, personally, I think, was not interested in having Hillary Clinton on the ticket. I think that -- I don't know, actually, whether she has been vetted or not. My sources right now tell me that it's very unlikely that she will be picked as his running mate. I think that we'll know the whole story, Wolf, when this is over. You know, the flip side of this could also be, quite frankly, that so much is known about Hillary Clinton, so much is known about Bill Clinton, that maybe there was a sense that you didn't need to do a formal vetting process with both of these candidates.
BLITZER: That's what Greg Craig, a top adviser to Barack Obama, said here in THE SITUATION ROOM, also, a little while ago.
Go ahead, Jeffrey.
TOOBIN: Well, I just think, you know, this comment from Paul and James is just a preview of what we're going to be seeing all week long.
It's like how are the Clinton people responding?
Are they upset?
Are they happy?
Are they offended?
You know, this convention, if the Democrats are smart, should be about Barack Obama, not the hurt feelings -- not the psychobabble, the catharsis of the Clintons.
And to the extent the attention is on the Clintons, that's bad for Obama. And I think Paul and James...
BORGER: But it's going to be on the Clintons.
TOOBIN: Are not helping the campaign. What?
BORGER: But it's -- you know, it's going to be on the Clintons, to a certain degree, Jeff, because don't forget, you've got Hillary Clinton speaking. You have Bill Clinton speaking. You had some concessions in the platform for the Clintons.
And so I think that -- you know, I think that the Obama campaign understands that there's this question of those Clinton supporters out there who are, shall we say, lukewarm about Barack Obama. So they do want to do things for the Clintons, because they want to win over those supporters.
TOOBIN: Well, but if they are good Democrats, the Clintons, and if their supporters are good Democrats who care about the war in Iraq, who care about preserving the right to choose abortion, they will be...
BLITZER: All right...
TOOBIN: ...about Barack Obama, not about the Clintons.
BLITZER: All right, stand by, guys, because we're going to continue this. You also heard James Carville say that there's irritation in the Clinton camp that Barack Obama apparently hasn't even consulted with Hillary Clinton about who the vice presidential running mate might be. We're going to continue this in a moment.
Also, is this turning out to be a bad month for Barack Obama?
He's not alone if it is -- why August has been, very often, bad for Democratic presidential candidates.
Is there a curse in August?
Plus, the other veep stakes -- will Obama's choice influence John McCain's pick for a running mate?
Lots more to discuss right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: August historically has been a bad month for Democratic presidential candidates -- at least a lot of them. Is there a curse out there? We're back with the best political team on television -- Gloria, what do you think? Given the fact that John Kerry was doing well, August came along, not so well. A lot of us remember Dukakis back in '88. He was, what 20 points ahead of George -- the first George Bush, collapsed after August.
BLITZER: What do you think?
BORGER: He was 17 points ahead, Wolf. And I remember that because they were riding high. And then suddenly they blew their lead.
Look, I think Obama has had a rough couple of weeks. And I think -- you know, the challenge for him at this convention is really to reintroduce himself to voters. They've told pollsters they like him, but they're not sure. He might be too much of a risk. He might be too inexperienced. They're going to have to take a look at him and take a look at the who he chooses for his running mate and make their judgments.
But don't forget, John McCain has been very aggressive, taking a new tact this month, trying to turning Obama into a celebrity, trying to belittle him. And I think that's had its effect.
BLITZER: It's been a good month -- or it's been a good few weeks, at least, for John McCain, Steve.
HAYES: Yes. I don't think there's any doubt it's been a good couple of weeks. I think it started, ironically, with the trip to Berlin, which was such a spectacular event. We saw Barack Obama addressing this throng in Berlin. John McCain used that, I think, quite effectively against him in this celebrity ad and also, you know, has benefited from this crisis in Russia and Georgia, where McCain looked like he was on the front end of what was happening. His analysis of Vladimir Putin turns out to have been largely correct. And I think Obama stumbled on that.
And that's -- you know, w people are paying attention to those things, I think they show up in the polls.
BLITZER: And, remember, Jeff, four years ago, during the Republican Convention in New York, that was when we saw that picture of John Kerry with the water -- the wind surfing outfit on. And that clearly undermined his image, if you will.
TOOBIN: And, you know, Barack Obama came back from vacation and gave, I thought, the worst speech of his entire campaign at the VFW, where he whined about how mean John McCain had been to him.
I think the campaign found its legs a little bit when they really went after McCain on this houses business. But I don't think the Democrats' problem is August. It's November. This is a pretty conservative country and Democrats tend to lose. That's the Democrats' big problem.
BLITZER: So what does he need to do, Jeff?
TOOBIN: Well, I think he's got to focus on the issues that matter to people -- tying John McCain to George Bush, who is extremely unpopular, and talking about issues that are going to affect people's lives. Change versus more of the same is a very powerful argument. If the focus is on that, Barack Obama wins.
BLITZER: All right, guys, a good discussion.
BORGER: You know...
BLITZER: Gloria, unfortunately, we've got to leave it there. But you know what, we're going to have a lot of time over the next several days, all of us, to continue this discussion.
BLITZER: Thank you.
Let's check in with Lou to see what's coming up right at the top of the hour -- Lou, what are you working on?
LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: Well, we're working on a lot, Wolf.
We're on standby right now, just like you. We're on pins and needles waiting to bring you the name of Senator Obama's choice of running mate.
Also, you won't believe how lobbyists are trying to buy influence in both the Democratic and Republican National Conventions. Now, they spend $3 billion in Washington to crowd you and me out of representation by our elected officials. This is just another example of a political system that's literally for sale to the highest bidder.
Also, the threat to our democracy from e-voting machines that don't leave a paper trail. No problem with a recount, of course. Those e-voting machines are so unreliable, they've become a punch line in a national TV commercial we'll share with you tonight.
And the amnesty open borders crowd, well, they're just furious with a hospital in Chicago. All that hospital did was save the life of an illegal alien Mexico at tremendous financial expense. The League of United Latin American Citizens, LULAC, calling the hospital's treatment of the illegal alien outrageous. The national executive director of LULAC is scheduled to be among my guests. We assume he'll be here.
And join us for all of that at the top of the hour, for all the day's news, as well, from an Independent perspective -- Wolf, back to you.
BLITZER: We'll see you then, Lou. Thank you.
He was offered a prime spot at the Democratic Convention. Why this influential young man, though, in the end, said no to Barack Obama. Stand by.
Plus, what's in a name -- a domain name?
Veep stakes speculation online and more right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: An up and coming young Evangelist turns down an invitation to take the spotlight in Denver. Is that a setback for Barack Obama?
Let's go back to Carol. She's working this story. What's this one all about -- Carol?
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, how many people would say no thank you to a presidential candidate when offered a prime spot on the big stage at the Democratic National Convention?
But if you take a look at the cover of Cameron Strang's magazine, "Relevant," it sort of explains it all.
The picture illustrates the article inside. One titled "How To Vote Without Losing Your Soul." And that pretty sums up why Cameron Strang, a young activist Evangelical, has decided to say no to an offer to lead a prayer center stage at the Democratic National Convention.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CAMERON STRANG: You know, when I thought more about it and heard from people on both sides the spectrum, I started to realize that rather than being bridge building, it was actually, you know, being seen as a divisive move, that we were picking sides. And I didn't want to give the impression that the next generation of Christians are going to just align with the Democrats like the previous generation has aligned with the Republicans.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSTELLO: Obama's camp has been reaching out to young Evangelicals like Strang. And Strang has been working with the campaign to talk about what's important to young Evangelicals. He told me he found the Obama camp quite receptive and his decision not to appear on stage has nothing to do with it. He just feels to do so would imply he's endorsing a candidate -- something he isn't comfortable with, whether it be Republican or Democrat.
And, Wolf, I think he's going to be like backstage. He's still going to be taking part in the convention, but it will be in a more quiet way, so he doesn't get across the message that he's taking a side.
BLITZER: Interesting. All right, good, Carol. Thank you.
On our "Political Ticker," people across the country are waiting for Barack Obama to announce his running mate at any moment. Among those watching closely, though, specifically closely, are those cyber speculators who snapped up Web addresses containing the names of possible running mates.
Abbi is working this story for us. Tell us about it -- Abbi.
ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Wolf, from ObamaClinton.com to ObamaSebelious, some of these domain names were snapped up years ago. And the owners of them are now watching very carefully to see if they're the ones that hit the jackpot.
ObamaBiden.com, Lyle Dean of San Francisco has been sitting on this one since 2006. He says he's got no political experience. He is not involved with the campaign. He just really liked the idea of that ticket.
Then there's ObamaBayh.com. This one bought in 2005 by Indiana Web developer Noah Coffey. He said at the time he wanted to buy BayhObama.com, but that one had already been taken. So he snapped this one up.
Right now, traffic to these sites is negligible, but their value could soar at any moment with an announcement. That's what happened in 2004 with this site, KerryEdwards.com. The KerryEdwards campaign, at the time, made inquiries about buying it, but its owner, Mr. Kerry Edwards of Indianapolis, wouldn't sell at the price they were offering -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. Thank you, Abbi, for that fascinating cyber speculation.
Barack Obama playing his vice presidential pick very close to the vest. His announcement, as we've been saying, could come at any time. We're combing through some of the clues right now. Mary Snow working that.
And Florida residents wade through floodwaters after Tropical Storm Fay dumps two feet of rain -- pictures you'll see in tomorrow's newspapers right here in our Hot Shots.
BLITZER: Here's a look at some of the "Hot Shots" coming in from our friends over at the Associated Press.
In Illinois, workers assemble a stage outside the old state capital in preparation for Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama's big speech tomorrow with his running mate.
In Florida, residents wade through floodwaters from Tropical Storm Fay. Some areas received as much as 26 inches of rain.
In the Republic of Georgia, Russian tanks leave a checkpoint near the City of Gori.
And in India, a student dressed as a Hindu God is hoisted above the crowd during a festival. Some of this hour's Hot Shots -- pictures worth a thousand words.
The choice is made and an announcement could come at any time. But for now, the world is waiting to learn who Barack Obama has picked for his running mate.
Let's go to Mary Snow. She's looking at the staking out that's going on of all the major contenders. And it's some fascinating tidbits you're picking up -- Mary.
MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It really is very intriguing, Wolf. But with all the stakeouts, we know a little bit more about the personal habits of the potential choices, but no hard clues on the V.P. pick. There were some false alarms today. This as the media and political junkies sit on pins and needles waiting.
SNOW (voice-over): What Senator Barack Obama knows about his running mate, he didn't share publicly as he spent the day in Chicago. That left all eyes fixed on the short listers of potential V.P. picks. Cameras planted outside Joe Biden's driveway and Senator Evan Bayh's house and the Virginia governor's mansion, where Tim Kaine lives. Web sites like Huffington Post flagged predictions and those who talk for a living, well...
BILL PRESS, "THE BILL PRESS SHOW": And it's so correct that those who know aren't talking and those who are talking don't know.
SNOW: But it's not for lack of trying. CNN's assignment desk monitored Chicago's Midway Airport for any sign Obama's V.P. choice might be arriving; any sign of movement, such as Tim Kaine walking outside, or Evan Bayh taking his kids to camp, was more than noted.
The veep stakes reminded one political observer of another sort of sweepstakes.
LESLIE SANCHEZ, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Isn't it a lot like the Publisher's Clearinghouse? I mean we're waiting for Barack to show up in a van with some balloons and be like you're it.
SNOW: Well, maybe not balloons and a doorbell, but a ring tone is more like it. For all the gazing and speculation, the answer is expected to come in a text message. The Obama campaign asked people to sign up if they wanted to get the news sent to their phones.
ALLISON DALE, UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN: I think it's a pretty clever strategy by the Obama campaign.
SNOW: Allison Dale has studied the impact of text messages and elections in a 2006 study.
DALE: The recipients of the text message were about 4 percentage points more likely to vote than people that didn't receive the text message.
SNOW: And that, says another researcher, is a change from the past.
TODD ROGERS, ANALYST INSTITUTE: The more personal the mode of contact is, the more effective. So that means canvassing door-to-door, talking to someone face-to-face is, by far, the most effective way to get someone to vote who would not have voted otherwise.
SNOW: And despite assurance that the answer would come via cell phone, the press wasn't willing to take the chance of missing a scoop.
SNOW: Now, Wolf, as for how many people signed up to get that text message, the Obama campaign hasn't yet given out a tally. But researchers we spoke for this story point out that even getting those numbers is useful, since cell numbers aren't listed. Whether that translates into motivating people to get out to vote is another story -- Wolf.
BLITZER: And what's really important for Senator Obama are the young people that, you know, do a lot of the text messaging on their cell phones, their Blackberries, because he's trying to get them involved. And he's hoping that if by doing it in this way, he gets them involved, gets them hooked to all of his other messages -- text messages he's sending out and get them to vote come November, because, as you know, Mary, young people don't vote in the percentages that older people vote in.
SNOW: Yes, absolutely. And they're voters -- they're a voting bloc that's hard to reach. And they are certainly hoping to get them more involved in the process. And this was one way of seen of doing it.
BLITZER: Thanks, Mary. Mary Snow reporting for us.
Two important programming notes. Please join us tomorrow for our special coverage from Denver. We'll be covering Barack Obama's speech in Springfield, Illinois, together with his running mate. Our special coverage starts tomorrow at 2:00 p.m. Eastern. And then Sunday morning, we have a special three hour "LATE EDITION" at 10:00 a.m. Eastern. I'll be on the floor of the Democratic Convention for that and a lot more.
Until then, thanks very much for watching.
I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Up next, "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT" -- Lou.