What's Next for McCain, Obama, Clinton?

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," February 19, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: And it's shaping up to be another big night for Senator Obama and Senator John McCain. But while McCain seems to have this thing locked up — well, that's not the case on the Democratic side. Former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer and former Democratic pollster Pat Caddell are here with us in New York. All right, Ari, initial thoughts based on the results. What do you think?

ARI FLEISCHER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Well, on the Republican side it's been over. And the key thing for John McCain now is to set his sights and define Hillary Clinton and/or Barack Obama. He has to act like a Republican and run against the Democrats.

HANNITY: But he started to do that. I mentioned the one comment that he made earlier here today about, you know, making sure not eloquent speeches, empty promises — but basically the same old, same old. And he also said, "Will the next president have the experience, judgment, the strength, the purpose and understanding" of the world that we live in here? And I think that was a clear, you know, attempt to position himself against Barack Obama.

FLEISCHER: John McCain's task now is to open up the ideological front that they'll always differentiate Republicans from Democrats. That is still, in a moderate-conservative environment in which we live, even with change as important as it is — a powerful move for the voters. He has to make that case.

HANNITY: But does he have to worry — we look at these crowds tonight. We saw 20,000 people in Houston, Texas. We saw 16,000 in Boise, Idaho. It seems everywhere Barack Obama goes he's getting these huge crowds, young crowds. You know if you were to interpret them you're thinking, "Alright, maybe he's bringing a lot of new voters into the — into the process." If you look at the numbers, Democrats — much bigger turnout in every state than Republicans. Is that at level of concern Republicans should have?

FLEISCHER: It is a level of concern. And there is no doubt — I think there is more excitement on the Democratic side than there has been on the Republican side. Throughout the primary season, Republicans have been less than inspired with their candidate pool.

Having said that, John McCain is the one Republican candidate who can win across the middle and that's where elections get won. Solidify your conservative base; he's got to get the numbers in the middle. John McCain can do that against either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama.

HANNITY: He still has some work to do on the conservative base we're going to get back to that. We've had a lot of discussion there.

Pat, your initial thoughts about tonight. What does this mean for Hillary Clinton? This, this, she's losing across just about every group on every issue...

PAT CADDELL, FORMER DEMOCRATIC POLLSTER: It's a slaughter. This is slaughter. She is losing the groups that have held her in the North — the Massachusetts, the California, which are Catholics that broke even. She's been winning those — she's been winning those two-to-one each. She won them last week in Maryland. Alright? She's — single women even — that is her base, single women. So you're going to look at this and say, "My God, if this holds up," now on the other hand, I'm not sure it will, this would be — we would judge this as the high point of Obama.


CADDELL: But that's a very high point.

ALAN COLMES, CO HOST: I want to jump in and ask you, what's that about? What's happening in the state of Washington? We can't call it tonight. And we can't call it because it's too close. And it's a beauty contest because there was already a caucus that if Barack Obama won —


CADDELL: Slaughter. He slaughtered her.

COLMES: She's ahead 49-46.



CADDELL: Because she does better in primaries. The bigger the (INAUDIBLE) the bigger the turnout, the bigger the voting base she has been winning.

I'm saying the exception to all of this is Wisconsin. But she has yet to win. Her test for her is going to be Ohio because that is — she is yet — he has been yet to win one of the really big states.

COLMES: Alright but what does this say about the process here? Because here we're saying the opposite result in the same state, with a different process than we had that we're caucusing?

CADDELL: It says we should have primaries rather than caucuses. Let me tell you something. You give people a chance to go out and vote. If we weren't in a modern society — people have, everyone ought to have the change to vote. Not just people who can get there, who can be organized, to get out and do caucuses. Caucuses are basically party controlled.

COLMES: Alright. Let me ask you about John McCain. You've made an interesting point which a lot of people agree with is that he's got a better chance of doing well against a Democrat than many other candidates. But he still, as Sean said, has to kind of make nice with the right-wing. But does he really have to? Shouldn't he really be reaching out to the moderates who are going to vote for him?

FLEISCHER: Alan, here's what is going to happen. The group that will unite conservatives more than John McCain will be Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama.

COLMES: I'm sure you would say that but Americans may not feel that way.

FLEISCHER: No, no. When you look at the polls that are going to come out after the nominations are settled, and you start to see John McCain at 44%, Hillary Clinton at 44%, John McCain at 45%, and Barack Obama at 42% — this is going to inspire Republicans to say we have got to rally...

COLMES: Alright, but does John McCain really have the right to appease the ...

FLEISCHER: I mean, no. He doesn't have to appease. I mean, he has to stand on principles, not back down from his core convictions. But he has to make an incredible case conservatives ...

COLMES: He's already changed on torture, the vote last week against the army fieldsmen.

CADDELL: I think he's, you know, moves a very bad move on his part in my opinion. He's a man who stands up for what he believes. I do believe — you're right Ari — he's got to show his convictions with his base on the right. But let me tell you the most important numbers we're not paying attention to in this election. In 2000, 2004, the difference between Democrats and Republicans — in preference, when they went to the polls to vote for president — averaged one-and-a-half points.

Do you know what it is today? It's 12 points for the Democrats. Those are all people who were Republicans who moved to independents because they were angry —

FLEISCHER: Until you put the name Hillary Clinton on the ballot and then you drop right back down to dead-even. And now with Barack Obama too.

This is where the ideological issue is going and coming.


CADDELL: Right. But I'm saying you'd better have someone to bring those people back.

FLEISCHER: It's the personality campaign that helps Obama. If it's issues campaign it clearly helps John McCain.

COLMES: And you want to make it an issues campaign...

CADDELL: Well, that's what it should be about, Alan.



COLMES: JOhn McCain inching closer to clinching the Republican nomination tonight. We are rejoined by Ari Fleischer and Pat Caddell. He wins Wisconsin. He does very well once again.

What's Mike Huckabee doing?


CADDELL: Well, Mike Huckabee's been helping him by basically letting him have something to say on election night. Otherwise, we wouldn't be covering him at all.

COLMES: Is that a calculated — Do you think McCain wants Huckabee in there at this point?

FLEISCHER: Alan, what I think actually is unlike his experience as the governor of Arkansas he now gets to ride charter airplanes. And that's what he has most — he's having fun.


CADDELL: He had no money, Ari, so this is his one chance to do it.

COLMES: Is he in tune with McCain's complicity or do you think McCain doesn't want him ...

FLEISCHER: No. Things don't exist on that level. Really, you don't have the two candidates getting together and doing that thing. I think he's in it because he's enjoying it, he's just saying there's a sense of inevitability, but I'm going to ride this as long as I can.

COLMES: Ari, do you think he's thinking "I'd like to be on the ticket"?

FLEISCHER: Well, if he wants to be on the ticket at some point he has to drop. But he will never be the number two because what John McCain has to do is appoint a real ideological conservative. He can't appoint somebody the Club for Growth, for example, economical conservatives don't like.

COLMES: And who do you think that could be?

FLEISCHER: It's too soon open still. And I'll tell you one other thing, Alan. One thing I learned from watching President Bush is, vice presidents don't really deliver states. People vote for the president. John Edwards can't delivery North Carolina for John Kerry. (INAUDIBLE) you vote for the president, pick a good advisor for your vice president.

COLMES: Now we were just talking about the possibility of an open convention. DO you think the Democrats are going to work something out, if it's really tight, prior to the summertime?

CADDELL: What I'm saying is the desire is to do that. If Obama were to win Ohio and Texas, this is over. Republicans have been planning all summer to have a whole summer campaign against the Democrats. It will be over because the superdelegates will move in (INAUDIBLE) but if she wins those, we could go all the way to August. Because I'll be darned if I believe that she's going to get up and just fall over.

COLMES: Alright. But are the Democrats superdelegates going to say, "Look, we can't just have — we've got to have something settled before —"

CADDELL: If she has won Ohio and if she wins Ohio, she'll get Ohio and Pennsylvania and Texas. But Ohio and Pennsylvania most of all. And he has yet to win a big state with the Democrats. It is going to be — the superdelegates are going to be hard to organize. Somebody has got to go in there and do that. The Clintons are hard people to push aside. That's all I'm saying here.

HANNITY: Alright. Let me take this a step further here. Let's say that we get to a point where neither Clinton or Obama — they're not ahead in terms of delegates where it's very, very close. Where one candidate is ahead and they've won more states and they've won the popular vote and then they come in with the superdelegates — we have people like Donna Brazil who says she is going to quit. We have governor Wilder who says it will be worst than it was in 1968 if in fact those types of tactics are used and the will of the people is thwarted.

CADDELL: Sean, the Democratic Party is this: they have depended on the black vote — we have — my party, for years. We get 90% - 95% of it. The first time an African-American can become president and if he's the person with the popular vote and the lead and that is taken away from him, what Doug Wilder said is true. There will be no black vote for Democrats ...

HANNITY: Alright, but it gets worst than this. And this is Roger Simon's piece in the Politico today, Ari. And that is — a lot of people don't' understand this — but even though Barack Obama in free, open, fair elections, that if he won delegates, those delegates are not, under DNC rules, required to cast the vote for the candidate that won. And this, according to a high-ranking Clinton official — according to Roger Simon — are out there with a strategy to get the delegates to switch the votes and thwart the will of the people.

FLEISCHER: Here's what I think you need to be on the lookout for in Ohio and in Texas: margins. If it is a 51-49 defeat for Hillary in both places, of course she goes on. If it's 60-40 it gets a little tougher but Clintons don't easily quit. But we shouldn't just say whoever wins — if Clinton loses both of them she's out. It depends on the margin. And this proportionate representation is a killer for the Democrats.

HANNITY: That's what it is.

FLEISCHER: It drags them out and stretches them along.

HANNITY: Yeah. It should be — in that sense maybe it should be winner-take-all. But in these shenanigans ...

CADDELL: This is dubbed the comedy Jesse Jackson by Mike Dukakis in 1988. It was the very beginning of putting a poison pill inside the Democratic Party by not allowing people to win.

HANNITY: But Al, I want to ask you specifically. If, for example, the party insiders in the establishment they start going for Hillary Clinton and you have people like Doug Wilder and Donna Brazil and Nancy Pelosi. If they try and seat the delegates in Florida and Michigan after they all agreed that they would be punished if they moved up their primary dates. And even Barack Obama and John McCain weren't on the ballot in Michigan, for crying out loud.

CADDELL: That's right.

HANNITY: If these tactics are employed by the Clintons and they go scorched earth, what would this do to the Democratic Party?

CADDELL: Blow or par. (INAUDIBLE). You want to see a black turnout collapse? That would do it. Because African-Americans would realize they've been taken for a ride. But that's why I'm saying the pressure for the party to close this quickly is very great but I'm good. My question is, you've got to have margin. You've got to have somebody who can actually close and tell the Clintons to leave. And that's very tough to do.

HANNITY: I'll tell them. I'll tell them.


FLEISCHER: You tell them.

COLMES: They might actually win.

HANNITY: I'm actually hoping she can come back and win Ohio.

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