CBS’s Smith: Will Hillary ‘Ruin the Democratic Party's Chances In November?’

Still Shot of Harry Smith and Rbert Wexler, June 2 On Monday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith talked to Obama supporter Congressman Robert Wexler and asked: "Here's the question though, Congressman. If Hillary Clinton continues the fight this week, does it ruin the Democratic Party's chances in November?" Wexler responded: " I don't think it ruins chances, but it would be a very, very serious matter. And only Senator McCain wants Senator Clinton to go to the Democratic convention."

Following his interview with Wexler, Smith talked to Clinton Campaign Chairman Terry McAuliffe and picked a fight:

MCAULIFFE: Listen, we know it's an uphill climb, but if you look at the results yesterday, Puerto Rico we won by 142,000 votes. She clearly can now argue --

SMITH: In a weak contest where not so many people showed up.

McAuliffe later touted the fact that Hillary Clinton won more votes than any other presidential candidate in a primary and Smith suggested he was lying: "Which is really, really, really not true if you really look at Michigan, you can't really count Michigan. You don't really count the caucus states like Iowa and Washington. It's not really true." Smith was much kinder to former Bush White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan later in the show.

The segment began with a report by correspondent Dean Reynolds, who briefly mentioned Obama resigning from his controversial church: "Obama dealt with what he called a distraction. Obama resigned his membership in Chicago's Trinity United Church of Christ because the inflammatory rhetoric that resounded from its pulpit had become a damaging issue." Reynolds went on to conclude that: "...by freeing himself from the millstone of his church, Obama has now removed one of the remaining issues that may have made convention superdelegates queasy about his candidacy."

In a later segment in the show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez talked with CBS political analyst Jeff Greenfield about the Democratic race. Rodriguez wondered: "Barack Obama desperately needs to somehow get her [Hillary Clinton] on his side, to get her voters, to appeal to her voters. How does he do that, given everything that happened?" Greenfield responded:

Well, in the old days, it would be simple, you just put her on the ticket. But there are all kinds of reasons why that's problematic. Not the least of which is these days when you vet a vice president, you vet a vice president's spouse as well. And Bill Clinton's business financial dealings, the fund-raising for his library and foundation would raise not a can of worms but a trailer truck of them. It's very complicated.

It is interesting that Greenfield did not suggest this as a political liability earlier in the campaign when Hillary was the Democratic Party’s heir apparent. Bill Clinton’s questionable financial dealings certainly have not be a top story in much of the mainstream media.

Here are the full transcripts of both segments:

7:00AM TEASER:

JULIE CHEN: Down to the wire. Clinton runs away with Puerto Rico, but is it enough to spoil Obama's victory party?

7:02AM SEGMENT:

JULIE CHEN: But Now to Hillary Clinton, who trounced Barack Obama in yesterday's primary in Puerto Rico, but her victory was mostly symbolic. Even in defeat, Barack Obama pushed closer to securing the Democratic nomination. He now has 2,069 delegates to Clinton's 1,912. It takes 2,118 to win the Democratic nomination. And Obama only needs 49 more delegates. CBS News correspondent Dean Reynolds is in Chicago with more on this story. Good morning, Dean.

DEAN REYNOLDS: Good morning, Julie. Well, Barack Obama stands on the edge of what he knows could be a defining moment in this often surprising campaign.

BARACK OBAMA: Hey sweetie, how you doing? Do you know that you're an Obama supporter?

REYNOLDS: Obama knows that with the completion of the primaries in South Dakota and Montana tomorrow, the road to the nomination will have clarified itself.

OBAMA: There is going to be a robust debate about where we need to take the country. And that's going to start, I believe, on Tuesday night.

REYNOLDS: And with a weekend settlement of the Michigan and Florida convention delegates controversy leaving him in a commanding position, Obama dealt with what he called a distraction. Obama resigned his membership in Chicago's Trinity United Church of Christ because the inflammatory rhetoric that resounded from its pulpit had become a damaging issue.

OBAMA: It's clear that now that I'm a candidate for president, every time something is said in the church by anyone associated with Trinity, including guest pastors, the remarks will be imputed to me even if they totally conflict with my long held views.

REYNOLDS: Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton won on Sunday in Puerto Rico, adding more fuel for her to stay in the race.

HILLARY CLINTON: You voted for the person you believe will be the stronger nominee and the strongest president.

REYNOLDS: But by freeing himself from the millstone of his church, Obama has now removed one of the remaining issues that may have made convention superdelegates queasy about his candidacy. Obama has said the general election will start tomorrow. And he's picked a very interesting location where he will mark that milestone, the very same building in St. Paul, Minnesota, where the Republicans will be holding their national convention in September. Julie.

CHEN: CBS's Dean Reynolds in Chicago. Thanks Dean. And Now here's Harry.

SMITH: Alright, thanks very much, Julie. Joining us now from Washington is Congressman Robert Wexler, an Obama supporter from Florida. Good morning, sir.

ROBERT WEXLER: Good morning.

SMITH: There's a lot of rancor this weekend and the DNC met and the Rules Committee and everything else. Do you take seriously this threat from Harold Ickes that he wants to take this fight all the way to the Credentials Committee in Denver in August?

WEXLER: Well, with respect to Florida, there was a unanimous vote to seat our delegates and count our votes with respect to the Florida primaries.

SMITH: But Michigan is really the issue in contention here.

WEXLER: Yes. And I think Mr. Ickes and Senator Clinton know very well that the only beneficiary of such an action would be Senator McCain. And the irony is that they're talking about a differential of four votes, delegates in Michigan. So even if Senator Clinton went to the convention and prevailed with respect to her view, it wouldn't change the result. The important thing is that this week Senator Obama will have, it appears, enough delegates to claim the Democratic nomination, and the general election starts a real debate about fixing our economy, bringing gas prices down --

SMITH: Here's the question -- here's the question though, Congressman. If Hillary Clinton continues the fight this week, does it ruin the Democratic Party's chances in November?

WEXLER: I don't think it ruins chances, but it would be a very, very serious matter. And only Senator McCain wants Senator Clinton to go to the Democratic convention. I think she will think very hard about what the ramifications of such a decision would be and for what point? There would be no legitimate point because Senator Obama would, in fact, have enough of the delegates to rightfully claim the nomination.

SMITH: Alright. We'll find out soon enough. Congressman Wexler, we appreciate it.

WEXLER: Thank you.

SMITH: Also in Washington is Terry McAuliffe, Chairman of the Clinton Campaign. Morning, Terry.

TERRY MCAULIFFE: Morning, Harry.

SMITH: You've got about 175 uncommitted superdelegates out there yet. Barack Obama really only needs about a quarter of those this week to wrap up the nomination. So?

Still Shot of Harry Smith and Terry McCauliffe, June 2 MCAULIFFE: Listen, we know it's an uphill climb, but if you look at the results yesterday, Puerto Rico we won by 142,000 votes. She clearly can now argue --

SMITH: In a weak contest where not so many people showed up.

MCAULIFFE: 400,000. That's more than 90% of the 17 caucuses that were held in states around the country, Harry. I would argue differently. 400,000 people showed up. It was 100% Hispanic caucus. Once again, Hillary won by more than 2-1. Every time they declare this race over, Kentucky she won by 35, West Virginia by 41, we won Texas, Ohio, Pennsylvania. We are now ahead in the popular vote --

SMITH: So are you going to take this thing -- you going to take this thing to August? You going to take it to the Credential Committee?

MCAULIFFE: Well listen, we've said we'll keep all of our options open. What is clear, Harry, she has now won more votes than any candidate ever running for president and in the general election --

SMITH: Which is really, really, really not true if you really look at Michigan, you can't really count Michigan. You don't really count the caucus states like Iowa and Washington. It's not really true.

MCAULFFE: Well, it really is, Harry, if you look at the Associated Press now. Take Michigan out. I'll use your argument. Now with Michigan after last night, don't count any in Michigan, Hillary is ahead in the popular vote.

SMITH: Alright. And what about the -- and then what about the caucus states -- I don't want to get stuck on this. Let's go on to this, does Senator Clinton want to be on this ticket no matter what?

MCAULIFFE: I think, listen, Senator Clinton has earned the right, no matter what happens, to have a key role in this thing. She's gotten more votes, close to 18 million votes. We still believe we're going to win the nomination. The big argument for us now, for all of us Democrats, how do you win the general election? Hillary Clinton wins all the swing states, Harry. Today Senator Obama doesn't. Today we beat John McCain by over a hundred electoral votes. This is about winning in November. Why do we keep winning with double digit leads? You know, a month and a half ago they declared the race over. Win after win, huge wins, and she wins with seniors, blue collar, Latinos, women, constituencies that we got to win, Harry, this fall.

SMITH: Let's talk later this week, alright?

MCAULIFFE: I'm pumped. Let's go. Thanks, Harry.

SMITH: I couldn't tell. Terry McAuliffe, thanks so much. Coming up CBS News political analyst Jeff Greenfield's going to be along to break down the scramble for the continuing non-stop scramble for the Democratic nomination.

MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: Both of you were pumped. that was an animated discussion.

 

7:16AM SEGMENT:

MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: Senator Barack Obama is close to capturing the Democratic nomination for president. But Hillary Clinton, as you know, has not given up yet. Here to break it all down for us is CBS News senior political correspondent Jeff Greenfield. Good morning to you Jeff.

JEFF GREENFIELD: Hi

RODRIGUEZ: We heard Congressman Wexler saying that it would only benefit John McCain for Hillary Clinton to drag this out to the convention, past this week. Do you agree?

GREENFIELD: These days yes. There was a time when you could have a knock-down-drag-out convention fight and the party would go on to win. But over the last several decades, whichever party's had a contested convention loses in November. Which explains why the superdelegates are not listening to Terry McAuliffe's arguments about popular vote or polls and saying 'we got to wrap this up.'

RODRIGUEZ: So for him to say this morning it was an 'uphill climb,' Terry McAuliffe, you think is an understatement.

GREENFIELD: Yes, Terry's not often given to understatement, that's the understatement of the year.

RODRIGUEZ: So how does she get out? What would be the best exit strategy for her?

GREENFIELD: From the point of view of the Democratic Party, the most important signal she has to send is 'I waged a vigorous fight, I'm proud of this, but it's over.' And not to signal her supporters that she has been disrespected or that the rules are rigged, which many of her supporters fervently believe. And along with that, maybe the most important person she has to convince about that is former president Bill Clinton --

RODRIGUEZ: Her husband, yeah.

GREENFIELD: Who looks very close to being ready to go on -- and he's more or less said to some of his supporters, 'this has been rigged. The more liberal left bloggers have intimidated the superdelegates. It's all about money and also the gender discrimination.'

RODRIGUEZ: Barack Obama desperately needs to somehow get her on his side, to get her voters, to appeal to her voters. How does he do that, given everything that happened?

GREENFIELD: Well, in the old days, it would be simple, you just put her on the ticket. But there are all kinds of reasons why that's problematic. Not the least of which is these days when you vet a vice president, you vet a vice president's spouse as well. And Bill Clinton's business financial dealings, the fund-raising for his library and foundation would raise not a can of worms but a trailer truck of them. It's very complicated. He reaches out to her. He brings her platform concerns to him. Maybe he concedes on health care, which was her big issue. He brings some of her staff in perhaps to the campaign. There are all kinds of ways that he can, and I think has to politically, reach out and say, 'I really care about her.'

RODRIGUEZ: But will he?

GREENFIELD: I don't do predictions.

RODRIGUEZ: But you should, you've been around so many of these.

GREENFIELD: I don't even predict the Belmont Stakes and that looks like a lock. No, ma'am. But I'm sure he's going make every effort, sure, he has to. This party he has to get united.

RODRIGUEZ: We'll see what happens after tomorrow. Thanks a lot, Jeff Greenfield.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC