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Special Report

'Special Report' Panel Review Pennsylvania Primary Results, Where Obama and Clinton Go Next

This is a rush transcript of "Special Report With Brit Hume" from April 23, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON, D-N.Y., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm very proud that as o f today, I have received more votes by the people who have voted than anybody else, and I am proud of that.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA, D-ILL., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have, you know, I think, a pretty strong case to make that we have won more delegates, we won more states, and we won more votes. Then it will be, I think, apparent that we will be in the strongest position to win in November.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIT HUME, HOST: Well, so she says she has won more votes — particularly, she says she got them for the people who voted, which is always helpful — and then he comes along and he says he has won more votes.

Some mathematical analysis now from Fred Barnes, executive editor of The Weekly Standard; Mara Liasson, national political correspondent of National Public Radio, and Mort Kondracke, executive editor of Roll Call — FOX News contributors all three.

So first of all, who has got more votes?

MORT KONDRACKE, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, ROLL CALL: It depends on how you count.

HUME: I'm talking about the popular vote.

KONDRACKE: It depends on how you count. If you count Florida and Michigan, where Michigan, Barack Obama was not even on the ballot, she's up by 120,000 votes. But that doesn't count.

People who went to caucuses, she has to eliminate those people —

HUME: In other words, she counts only people who voted in primaries?

KONDRACKE: Right.

HUME: Let's count everybody who participated.

KONDRACKE: She is still ahead by a little, by 10,000 votes, counting everybody who has voted up until now.

But the rules of the Party, of course, are that it's delegates who choose, and he's up by 130 delegates.

HUME: And if you don't count the states where he wasn't on the ballot or where no delegates were being assigned, he's up, right, in popular vote and delegates?

KONDRACKE: Yes, exactly. Now, I did a little calculating here. If you count Florida and the caucuses, she's up by 316,000 votes, right?

HUME: Right.

KONDRACKE: All right. In the nine remaining events, I gave the maximum conceivable turnout, and the best case I could come up with for her in each of these primaries, and when you add it all up, she gains about 94,000 votes out of the, leaving him ahead by 200,000-some thousand votes.

HUME: That is leaving Michigan and Florida out of the equation?

KONDRACKE: No, Florida in the equation — not Michigan.

FRED BARNES, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Did you include Puerto Rico?

KONDRACKE: Yes.

HUME: The bottom line of that, though, is that —

KONDRACKE: She's not going to catch up.

HUME: Even if Florida counts?

KONDRACKE: Right.

MARA LIASSON, NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: The other interesting thing about this is that you can't actually count the caucuses because a lot of these states did not report their popular vote totals in the caucuses. There just isn't the data.

So the whole fight over this popular vote on her part is she needs some marker, something that she's ahead of him by.

And even though this race, according to the Democratic rules, is not decided by a popular vote — it's decided by delegates — she needs something that she can wave in front of the super delegates and say here is a factor you should consider by which I have won against him.

BARNES: Wasn't there is a mantra of Democrats in 2000, and maybe I'm wrong about this, but didn't they say count every vote? Mort doesn't want to count Michigan —

HUME: There were a lot of Democrats who said the electoral college ought to be abolished after the fact that Al Gore won the popular vote, nobody doubts this, and lost the election. So the Democrats said they could not stomach that, every vote should count, and he or she who gets the most votes should win.

So are they going to now put up with the situation, as you asked?

BARNES: No, they're not.

HUME: They are. They are going to put up with the situation!

BARNES: Stop and think about this — when was the last time at a Democratic or Republican convention there were only 48-state delegations? In 1956! It was before Alaska and Hawaii were made states. My point is, this is a huge embarrassment for Democrats.

As for last night in Pennsylvania, there are really two interpretations of it — the heavy one with the Obama clique in the press, and they say nothing happened. He is still way ahead in delegates, and he is — and the popular vote was a little under 10 percent, so that wasn't really a blowout. They say nothing happened.

And there is a large Obama clique in the press, there is no question about that.

The truth is, I think, something did happen. Hillary is a little better off than she was before. She's not going to drop out. She is ahead by this weird counting of the popular vote. She can make the case that Obama is not as strong as he looks in the polls because all these exit polls, people say they voted for him and find out by five percent they didn't.

In other words, she has an argument. And who knows? It may prevail. If he screws up again like he did in San Francisco, there's an outside chance, very outside, very remote, that she could still win the nomination.

HUME: So there is an Obama clique in the press and there is a Clinton clique in the press, and Fred Barnes is in it.

BARNES: Well, something did happen pro-Hillary in Pennsylvania.

LIASSON: Yes. And, look, something did happen, and what Fred said, part of the equation for her winning, something bad has to happen bad to him. That is a exogenous event that nobody can control right now.

However, the audience for her —

HUME: Are the voters in the exogenous zones(ph)?

LIASSON: Yes. The audience for her argument is 306 people. That's the number of the uncommitted super delegates.

HUME: It ain't exactly breaking for her yet.

LIASSON: Yes. He got two today, by the way, and he got one in terms of new super delegates. So the audience is 306 people, and so far they aren't jumping on her bandwagon.

KONDRACKE: Somehow she has to convince and prove empirically, it's not just a matter of assertion, that Obama can't win. And right now, the super delegates are not convinced of that, because he's ahead. And there is some evidence that he can't get Catholics and he can't get working class people, but it's not convincing evidence.

So, basically, she is the Democratic equivalent of Mike Huckabee. She's hanging in there — just a minute! Let me explain this.

BARNES: It's so absurd. Why bother?

KONDRACKE: She is hoping for a miracle. That of the Huckabee case, and it goes no further than that. But she's praying for a miracle.

HUME: It would take a miracle, would you agree, Mara?

LIASSON: I don't know about a miracle. Something close to a miracle, but she's not like Mike Huckabee.

BARNES: Politics a funny game, things happen.

HUME: And 24 hours, as Howard Baker famously said, can be a lifetime in politics.

BARNES: She's probably not going to win, but she has a better chance today than she did a couple of days ago.

LIASSON: She can bean him in Indiana and can come very close in North Carolina, and that would help her a lot.

HUME: When we return, the proposed promotion of General Petraeus and what it may portend for Iraq and other military concerns. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERT GATES, U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: I have recommended and the president has approved and will nominate General David Petraeus as the new commander of Central Command. We will withdraw the nomination and Lieutenant General Ray Odierno to be the Army Vice Chief Staff, and nominate him to return to Baghdad as the new multi-national force Iraq commander replacing General Petraeus.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HUME: Well, that means that there will be confirmation hearings, among other things, for General Petraeus and, presumably, for General Odierno as well.

This is what Harry Reid said about such hearings: "I will be looking for credible assurances of a strong commitment to implementing a more effective national security strategy." Russ Feingold, noted war critic: "General Petraeus must answer the most important question we face, which is not whether we are winning in Iraq, but why we are not defeating Al Qaeda."

So what about this Petraeus nomination? What does it tell us? What does the reaction to it tell us — Fred?

BARNES: There really were two sides in the military and the Pentagon over this. There is one side that stresses the health of forces, and that tends to be the chiefs of staff, Joint Chiefs of Staff. That's a legitimate concern.

And then there are those who think that the most important single thing is winning in Iraq. And there are two people who believe that and made this decision to send Petraeus to Tampa and CentCom, and Odierno, who was the assistant to Petraeus in Iraq for awhile, actually preceded him there, and was doing counterinsurgency. Those people were supported by the Secretary of Defense Bob Gates and President Bush.

You know once, just before the surge was ordered, they came to a — there was a meeting at the Pentagon in December 2006, I guess, and the issue came up and they said what about the health of forces? And Bush heard all that entire argument, and his response was there's one thing more important than that, winning in Iraq.

HUME: The argument is going to be made, and you heard it reflected in Feingold's comments, in particular, that winning in Iraq is not the main thing. We're not defeating Al Qaeda, and by that they mean Al Qaeda on the border with Pakistan and Afghanistan.

KONDRACKE: Now that is for Petraeus now.

I think that that's useful. He can see the entire Middle East situation, and as we succeed in Iraq, presumably, there will be transfers to Afghanistan since he will be responsible for both of them.

At the moment, so far as I can see, reading everything that I can read, we are losing slowly in Afghanistan the way we were losing pre-Petraeus in Iraq. It is not the United States' fault, and, indeed, he does not have responsibility over all NATO forces there, and it is largely NATO that is falling down on the job in Afghanistan.

These other countries will not contribute the number of troops it takes to take care of their areas. But we're not providing enough aid to Afghan civilian civilians for economic development, and the Karzai government is not effective. So there are a lot of problems there, but putting Petraeus on the job, I think, is the right thing to do.

LIASSON: It also says that George Bush wants to get Afghanistan righted before he leaves. So he is giving it to the person who probably has done the best job is the most highly regarded military commander around.

I cannot think of another time when one guy has been given so much responsibility for so many important and fragile policies.

I think it is a good idea. I don't think he is going to get a lot of problems from Democrats. He was already confirmed unanimously the first time.

BARNES: One of the absurd notions is that Afghanistan is more important that Iraq. Here is Afghanistan, this backwater, where the al- Qaeda may be holed up in the mountains, but —

HUME: A lot are across the border in Pakistan, anyway.

BARNES: That's true too. And that backwater of geo-strategical importance, really, is more important than Iraq? This country right in the middle of the Middle East, a strategically important country with all this oil? If we lose, it we lose everything. Afghanistan won't even matter then at all.

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