Menu

Transcript: David Bonior on 'FOX News Sunday'

The following is a partial transcript of the June 1, 2008, edition of "FOX News Sunday With Chris Wallace":

"FOX NEWS SUNDAY" HOST CHRIS WALLACE: Joining us now to discuss the latest developments in the Democratic race is former Michigan congressman David Bonior, who's a key advisor to the Obama campaign.

And, Congressman, welcome back to "FOX News Sunday."

FORMER REP. DAVID BONIOR, D-MICH.: Nice to be with you, Chris.

WALLACE: With the rules committee action settling Michigan and Florida and putting Senator Obama, as we said, just 66 votes shy of the nomination, will this race be over either Tuesday night or Wednesday morning?

BONIOR: Well, I can't say that it will be over Tuesday night or Wednesday morning, but the numbers that you went over with Howard just a second ago indicate that it's going to be very close, whether it's finished this week or not.

You have about 170 superdelegates who have not made a commitment yet. They've been encouraged by the party leaders to do so we can get on. We've got five months left in this race, and we need to get on with the issue of contrasting Senator Obama with Senator McCain.

So we expect that there will be — I won't use the word flood, although I just — I guess I just did. But I think there will be a number of them that will start to make decisions beginning of the week.

And as your numbers that you've just recited in terms of what we can expect this weekend, we'll be in the neighborhood of 30 or less shy of the number that we need by Tuesday. And so we'll see what happens for the rest of the week.

WALLACE: Does the campaign have enough superdelegates in pocket, in hand, to put Obama over the top after the voting is finished?

BONIOR: Well, if you look at the trend, what's happened, you know, we were down 100 superdelegates not too long ago. But we've started to move up tremendously over the last few weeks.

And if you look at where we are now, we've got about a 40-superdelegate lead over Senator Clinton, and the trend is in our direction, so we believe that we will do well with the remaining 170.

WALLACE: And as we were talking about with Mr. Wolfson, if Clinton presses on and takes the issue of Michigan to the credentials committee and, conceivably, to the convention in late August in Denver, how much damage does that do to the party?

BONIOR: Well, I think we need to move on. And I think Harold Ickes mentioned yesterday, as you were just discussing with Howard Wolfson, that they reserve the right to do that, but reserving the right to do it is different than doing it.

And I'm hopeful that — you know, they've fought a tough race. I mean, this has been a difficult, long, arduous race for all the candidates involved. And she's fought with a lot of courage, and she's — Senator Clinton has broken some barriers here, important barriers.

And I think it's important for people to understand that. And they need to be respected for the efforts that they've made. And I think in the end we'll come together.

We'll be a unified party, because we've got so much at stake, so much difference in our position versus McCain's on the war, our position on this economy and McCain's position on the economy, the middle class — our position on that and McCain's.

There's a huge difference in moving this country forward and breaking down these walls right here in Washington, D.C., so we can, in fact, open it up for the middle class.

WALLACE: Let me ask you, though, about some of the arguments that Wolfson made and that they will be trying to make in a last-ditch effort to the superdelegates over the next few days.

BONIOR: Sure.

WALLACE: The Puerto Rico primary is today, this afternoon, and they're voting right now.

There's a good chance that when the voting is done there and in the other states — and now that you have included Michigan and Florida — that when all the voting is completed in all 58 contests that Hillary Clinton will have beaten Barack Obama in the popular vote. Doesn't that count for something?

BONIOR: Well, it depends how you count. I mean, in Michigan, for instance, Barack Obama's name was not on the ballot. The party said that it wouldn't count.

Senator Clinton even said in her own words right before the Michigan primary on New Hampshire public radio that Michigan wouldn't count. So you've got a situation in which that was a very flawed, I regret to say, primary.

In addition to that, you have a number of caucuses where they didn't count the actual number of people who showed up at the caucus. So if you add those numbers in, we believe that we still have the lead on the popular vote.

The popular vote is very close. I mean, let's be very up front and face the facts. I mean, it's within one-tenth of 1 percent or so. So we think...

WALLACE: Well, let's say for the sake of argument that you lost the popular vote. And as you're right, it — but you know, they are certainly going to argue that. Does that matter, or is it just...

BONIOR: The rules are based on delegates. They're not based on popular votes. And you just put up on your screen here Howard Wolfson's comment with respect to that a while back, that the delegates were what's important, and we believe that's what's important as well.

We also think if you look at the numbers across the country right now that Senator Obama has a lead over Senator McCain vis-a-vis the Washington Post/ABC poll, about seven points, the Reuters poll eight points, the Quinnipiac poll seven points.

We're leading Senator McCain across the country and in main battleground states as well, and I'll go through them if you'd like.

WALLACE: No, please — well, but I am going to ask you about that in a second. But back in 2000, a lot of Democrats said Al Gore won the popular vote...

BONIOR: Right.

WALLACE: ... he shouldn't lose the election. Why is this different?

BONIOR: Well, I'm not quite sure that we won't win the popular vote if you add in all the factors and...

WALLACE: But assuming that you lose the popular vote, why is it different than what you as Democrats stood up for in 2000 with Al Gore?

BONIOR: I'm not assuming that, and I'm not here to make that assumption. I don't buy that premise.

WALLACE: One question about the rules committee decision in Michigan. I can understand what they did on Florida. They simply seated all the delegates and gave them half votes.

But they made, I think everybody would have to agree, a completely arbitrary decision in Michigan, giving Clinton 69 votes, giving Obama 59 votes, in no way reflecting what the results were in the primary.

How is that, small "D," democratic? How is that fair?

BONIOR: Well, unfortunately, as I said, the Michigan vote was flawed, terribly flawed, in a variety of ways. Number one, four major candidates — it wasn't just Senator Obama — weren't on the ballot.

Senator Edwards, whose campaign I managed at that time, was not on the ballot. Senator Biden was not on the ballot, and Governor Richardson wasn't on the ballot. So you had that dynamic happening in Michigan.

In addition to that, there was no campaigning in Michigan at all. People were told that their vote wouldn't count. So many people, in fact, went to the polls, the people that did go to the polls — many people didn't go to the polls because of these factors.

The ones that did went to the polls voted for their first choice other than what wasn't available...

WALLACE: But my only point is simply that in Florida, at least it reflected some result even if you gave them half. Here it didn't reflect any result.

BONIOR: Well, because the difference in Florida is that everybody's name was on the ballot, even though they didn't campaign there.

We felt that that was a flawed situation as well but in the spirit of trying to provide some unity that we would accept the situation which would have provided a 19-delegate advantage for Senator Clinton.

And we accepted that and we yielded on that. And we yielded yesterday on Michigan as well.

WALLACE: But Michigan was an arbitrary back-room deal.

BONIOR: Oh, I don't think it was a back-room deal. I mean, it was discussed believably in front of a lot of folks, and a lot of the press picked up on the discussion, and it was done in a way to get the best result that we could and the fairest result.

And I think we're happy to live with it. I think a lot of the Michigan folks, given the situation that we're in, are as pleased with it as well.

WALLACE: As we've been reporting, Obama left his church, announced he was leaving his church, late yesterday afternoon.

I want to ask you, though, about the comments that were made by Father Pfleger last Sunday when he was preaching at what was then Obama's church and in which he mocked Hillary Clinton's thinking. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL PFLEGER: I'm Bill's wife. I'm white. And this is mine. I just got to get up and step into the plate. And then out of nowhere came, "Hey, I'm Barack Obama." And she said, "Oh, damn. Where did you come from? I'm white. I'm entitled. There's a black man stealing my show."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE: Congressman, at a time when Obama is still introducing himself to a lot of voters, how damaging are those remarks as well as the remarks of Reverend Wright?

BONIOR: Well, those remarks are divisive and outrageous, and Senator Obama has indicated the same feelings that I've just expressed to you about them, and they have no place.

Senator Obama's campaign has been based upon bringing people together and breaking down the walls of divisiveness. And that has no place at all in our politics today. And he has expressed his displeasure with it and his outrage with it.

But you know, let's look at this. I mean, we've had a number of pastors in this campaign and religious leaders in this campaign express views that candidates don't agree with.

I mean, John McCain was going after John Hagee, Pastor Hagee's support. And Pastor Hagee said some things, and John McCain divided himself or divorced himself from Pastor Hagee.

So you know, we've had this happen in campaigns. And it's important for the candidates to speak out against these type of outrageous and divisive remarks.

WALLACE: But let me ask you about the Trinity United Church and Reverend Wright and Reverend Pfleger, because you're here representing Barack Obama.

BONIOR: Sure.

WALLACE: You're one of — you were, when you were in Congress, one of big labor's strongest allies in Congress. All the surveys, all the exit polls, indicate that Obama's standing among white working- class voters has dropped sharply in recent months, particularly since Reverend Wright came up.

Don't these — I don't know what to call them but performances by Reverend Wright and Father Pfleger — don't they add to the doubts of some of those folks about whether or not Obama is like them and represents their values?

BONIOR: Well, it's important to note that Senator Obama has also broken with Senator — excuse me, Reverend Wright as well as Reverend Pfleger. So to impugn...

WALLACE: But he was a member of that church for 20 years.

BONIOR: He was a member of that church, but he is not today. As you mentioned earlier...

WALLACE: Well, he is not as of the last 18 hours.

BONIOR: Twenty-four hours, yes. And it was a tough decision for him, because it was the church in which, of course, he was — came to Christianity.

WALLACE: So what do you think his decision to leave the church says to white working-class voters who look at what Reverend Wright said, who look at Father Pfleger, and say, "Those aren't my values?"

BONIOR: Well, I think it says to them that anything that happens in that church has been impugned to Barack Obama, which is not the case, because he doesn't have the same beliefs as Reverend Wright or Reverend Pfleger, Father Pfleger.

And so the thing to have done, and Senator Obama and Michelle Obama did it, was a difficult decision because they have lots of friends there. They've worked on issues of hunger, on medical assistance for people, on housing issues for people in that church.

They decided because it's been disruptive to the church members as well as to, obviously, Senator Obama and the campaign — because whatever is said in that church is often impugned to him, even though he disagrees with those comments, it was better to make the break.

WALLACE: Congressman Bonior, thank you.

BONIOR: Thank you.

WALLACE: Always a pleasure to talk with you. Please come back, sir.

BONIOR: Always a pleasure. Thank you, Chris.