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James Carville Says Obama Likely Nominee

This is a rush transcript from "America's Election HQ," May 13, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

BILL HEMMER, CO-HOST: James Carville hit the roof on fellow long time "Clintonistas," Bill Richardson, endorsed Barack Obama earlier on the year. He called him "Judas" and gave him a public flogging. So, today, we are hearing this -- according to a South Carolina newspaper, Carville said the following: "I'm for Senator Clinton, but I think the great likelihood is that Obama will be the nominee. As soon as I determine when that is, I'll send him a check."

What does Ann Lewis think about that? A senior advisor for the Clinton campaign, she is now here with her reaction. Good evening, Ann, there in West Virginia.

ANN LEWIS, CLINTON CAMPAIGN SR. ADVISOR: Good evening.

HEMMER: What do you think about what Carville said today?

Click here to watch the interview

LEWIS: Well, I will let James speak for himself. I have been out here talking to voters. We've been hearing from the voters in West Virginia. And let me tell you, they don't have any idea -- they don't think this race is over. They're excited about the chance to vote for Hillary Clinton.

Since I have this old-fashioned idea that elections should be decided by voters and not by pundits, and not by commentators, I think I'll go with the voters said (ph).

HEMMER: But this is a guy who's on your team. Is he right when suggests it's just a question of time before Obama is the nominee, Ann?

LEWIS: Now, if hundreds of thousands of people are showing up today in West Virginia and casting their vote for Hillary Clinton even though they're being told over and over that this race is over, shouldn't that tell you something? So, no -- it's not over. This is an election to decide who will be the strongest Democratic nominee. We want to win in November. We need a candidate who's most likely to beat John McCain and that candidate is Hillary Clinton.

HEMMER: What do you think the margin of victory has to be in West Virginia for you to make that point more emphatically?

LEWIS: Well, of course, I want the biggest margin I can. But you know what? With the polls closing in just a few hours, I think we'll let those numbers speak for themselves.

As you heard, turnout, we think, is going to be high. I can tell you, given the number of absentee ballots that have already been filed, I think it was something like approaching a record; given the number of people who have been showing up to hear Hillary at her events -- and that's another record I'm really proud of; hundreds of people, more than a thousand people sometimes in some pretty small towns, I think the excitement is there, the record level of interest is high we're going to see record numbers (ph).

HEMMER: You know, if you're right on that, Ann, and a lopsided victory goes to Hillary Clinton today over Barack Obama in West Virginia, and it happens again a week from today in Kentucky, what does that do to the electability of Barack Obama, a fellow Democrat?

LEWIS: Well, I'll tell you what it does to the electability of Hillary Clinton because we then go to the superdelegates. And remember, neither Hillary Clinton nor Barack Obama can win this nomination on pledged delegates alone.

So, we are both appealing to the superdelegates for support and we go back and say -- Hillary Clinton is the candidate who expands the electoral math. She will win West Virginia, she will win Kentucky. She's already won Arkansas and Tennessee. Now, you put that together with that solid core of Democratic states, Hillary Clinton can win Florida. We know -- that's the kind of candidate we want.

HEMMER: I understand the argument you're making. Back to the question though, are you damaging Barack Obama in the process?

LEWIS: I can't imagine why. Again, I've got to say elections are won when people decide who they're for and then they're going to draw their own conclusion. My responsibility is to speak on behalf of Hillary Clinton because I believe she will be the strongest candidate. Other people can speak on behalf of their candidate.

HEMMER: Ann Lewis, thank you for your time -- live in West Virginia. We'll see what happens 2 1/2 hours from now. Thank you, Ann. Come back, OK?

LEWIS: My pleasure.

HEMMER: Good to have you on.

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