This is a rush transcript of "Special Report With Brit Hume" from February 6, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The notion that somehow Senator Clinton is going to be immune from attack, or that there is not a whole dump truck that they can back up in a match up between her and John McCain, I think, is just not true.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRIT HUME, HOST: So, in other words, says Barack Obama, he is not the only one who might be vulnerable to Republican attacks. This in a race now with Hillary Clinton that is this close — this is an estimate of the delegates so far in this race.
Hillary Clinton is thought to have a thousand; Barack Obama, 902 — that's a 98 delegate lead in a race where they will need 2,025. so neither of them is yet quite halfway there.
Now, look at this — this is total votes cast. You can see it's approaching 15 million votes cast, and Hillary Clinton leads by less than 1 percent, something like 53,000 votes, something like that. That, folks, is what you call close.
We now have learned today from the Clinton camp that she loaned her campaign $5 million out of the Clinton's own personal coffers, and we have just learned courtesy of our correspondent Major Garrett that several top, key Clinton staffers, including campaign manager Patti Solis Doyle, are working without pay this month of February and will continue to do so for the rest of the month until, I suppose, the money starts coming in.
Some thoughts on this race now from Fred Barnes, Executive Editor of "The Weekly Standard," Mara Liasson, National Political Correspondent for National Public Radio, and the syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer, FOX News contributors all.
Taken together, the data we have just reviewed plus the information about the finances, tells you what, Mara?
MARA LIASSON, NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: Tells you that this race is really close and he has the momentum. That doesn't mean she is not going to be able to scrap and scramble for every last vote and, finally, eke out a win. It's possible.
But she is not dominant in any respect anymore. Her national lead is gone. She finished Super Tuesday not ahead by any measure in the popular vote, not ahead in states, and not really ahead in delegates.
HUME: She has a little tiny pocket —
LIASSON: There is so many different ways to count this. The Obama campaign claims that they have more pledged delegates, not counting the super delegates.
One of the measures that everyone seemed to agree on yesterday is that if he could come within 100 of her, and he certainly has — that is 98 that is separating them on the AP count — that that is within striking distance. In other words, you can make that up. If it were 150 or 200, that would be a lot harder.
HUME: Right — Fred?
FRED BARNES, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, "THE WEEKLY STANDARD": I would rather be in his shoes than hers, for sure. There are just so many things breaking his way.
This is little noticed, but before the primaries yesterday, Obama had been stuck in a few states where he was getting 80 percent of the African-American vote and about 25 percent of the white vote. In state after state, he went up to 38, 40 percent. He got 40 percent of the white vote in Georgia, which is more of the white vote than he got in New York. Think about that for a minute.
But so he really improved his position. He's still getting 80 percent or more of the black vote, but now is up to 40 percent on average or higher in the white vote. That's important.
You mentioned the money; the other thing is the calendar. The calendar now works for him because — look at the states that come up. This Saturday, it's Louisiana, which is a primary, a southern state with a heavy black fraction of the Democratic electorate.
Then you have a couple of caucuses in Nebraska and Washington. He has done extremely well in caucuses, so much so that Hillary Clinton today said that she prefers primaries. She said her husband never won — she didn't think he ever won in any caucuses either.
And then you have all this time before you get to the big primaries on March 4 in Texas and Ohio. And that really is where Obama does better when he has more time to spend in a state, where more people see him, where he has more rallies, it really benefits him. So I think he is in a better position than she is.
CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: I would agree, and I think the time element is the key, because everywhere he goes, when he gets introduced and he speaks and he sways and people swoon, he benefits.
She is known. He is less known. And when he gets known, especially when it's in states where there are only a couple at a time, as opposed to the 20 or so yesterday, he has got a chance to shine.
On the other hand, she is ahead in delegates. It's proportional representation, so even though psychologically he has got the advantage — this was supposed to be her night last night in terms of just the nuts and bolts — if they come close to each other, even if she loses a state by a few percent, that is only a delegate or two. He's got to make up 100.
What strikes me is how much last night showed the identity politics among the Democrats. I don't know if it was Bill Clinton's intent in South Carolina, but African-Americans, 82 percent, with Obama; white women, almost two to one with Hillary.
My favorite nugget was 22 percent of Democrats said that gender was extremely important. Of them, a third supported Obama, which means that seven percent of the Democrats think it's very important to have a man in the White House.
HUME: That's a striking number.
KRAUTHAMMER: I would have thought that was a province of reactionary Republicans, but apparently it's not.
BARNES: The other thing that's interesting, and in his press conference today Obama responded to the notion that he can't take a hit — he'll get wiped out immediately by the Republican attack machine.
KONDRAKE: They have already attacked him —
BARNES: That's true. He stood up to the Clinton attack machine.
HUME: But remember this: Barack Obama, according to his voting record, the National Journal Compilation of it last year, the most liberal member of the Senate. Hillary Clinton can't attack him for that
BARNES: Of course she can't. and then Republicans will, but they would attack Hillary as a liberal, too.
HUME: When we return we will analyze the Republican race and what John McCain might want to do now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think the majority of Republicans across the board have stated their view, and so I hope that maybe we can now join together for the good of the Party and the good of the conservative cause.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUME: That's what he said after he said he thought conservatives ought to calm down.
John McCain, though, is in a lot better shape against the field that he is against than Hillary Clinton is against Barack Obama, or Barack Obama against her.
Let's look at the delegate scoreboard here on the Republican Party. You can see that is a significant delegate advantage. You need 1,192, so McCain is well over a 50 percent of the way there.
Let's look at the total votes cast in this race; it reflects something quite similar: McCain with 3,704,000 to Romney's 2.9 million. It's about 700,000 votes; Huckabee trailing back at about 1.8 million. So you see that McCain is in a pretty commanding position.
So, the question arises, can he get the conservatives? How should he do it? And will they ever be enthusiastic for him in the way that they were for — you heard Karl Rove say last night he probably can't get all his evangelicals to turn out as volunteers and work for him the way they did for George W. Bush.
But what about veterans? And can he put together a comparable coalition?
LIASSON: I don't think there are as many veterans as there are evangelicals. That was a mighty army for George W. Bush.
BARNES: And they're old!
LIASSON: They're old, yes, but
HUME: Some of them are not. Some of them are young.
LIASSON: The irony, of course, is that John McCain doesn't need those people to win the nomination, but he does need them to win the White House. He has to have a consolidated, fired up base, especially when you look at what the Democratic base is feeling like these days, which is really fired up.
And that's the irony. The rap on John McCain all along has been hard to get the nomination, good general election candidate. I think that's worth a second look. They're almost one in the same problem.
BARNES: You can see that he has a speech tomorrow before C-PAC, a conservative conference, and I think what he will probably do is focus not on the primaries, but focus on the general election and talk about how different he is from either Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton on taxes and spending in Iraq and national security and the war on terror, and just about everything, and emphasize that.
Because in comparison to a Democrat, he sounds awfully conservative; in comparison to Mitt Romney, he's not quite as conservative. So that's what I think he will emphasize, and he should.
KRAUTHAMMER: But, as you noted, when he was starting his making peace, he said everybody should just calm down. Well, there's a tone problem there. That's the kind of thing you say to a six-year-old having a tantrum.
And that's McCain. He's got to learn humility, and he's not good at it. But he either has to learn humility, or fake it. He may be too old to learn it, so he needs a good coach.
But he has trouble reaching out. And, in fact, it's not all of his disagreements with the base that is the issue. Look, George Bush supported the immigration reform. He signed the campaign, the finance reform, but conservatives don't despise him over that.
It's that McCain is ostentatious, and he loves sticking a finger in the eye and showing himself above all of this and being independent. It's that character issue which I think is at stake here. And all he has to do is to sincerely offer conservatives a way of saying I respect our differences.
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