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Special Report

'Special Report' Panel Discusses What Clinton's W. Virginia Win Could Mean and the Media on McCain and Obama

This is a rush transcript of "Special Report With Brit Hume" from May 12, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON, (D) NEW YORK: How are you? I used to take my daughter to go vote with me.

I'm so honored to have your first vote. It's all about young people.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're going to do it!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIT HUME, HOST: Hillary Clinton having a little ice cream and talking to some young potential future voters in wild and wonderful West Virginia, where she has been campaigning and campaigning, even into today as the voting was going on.

Some thoughts on West Virginia now from Fred Barnes, Executive Editor of The Weekly Standard, Nina Easton, Washington Bureau Chief of Fortune Magazine, Bill Kristol, Editor of The Weekly Standard, and Juan Williams, Senior Correspondent of National Public Radio, FOX News contributors all.

Let's take a quick look at a couple of numbers here. This is the delegate scorecard overall -- Barack Obama, 1,875; Hillary Clinton, 1,697; 2,025 needed to nominate.

Superdelegates, where Hillary Clinton had led all along until just recently, she now trails by 14. That number ticked up by a handful today.

So, what does the expected big win in all the exit polling information we have about how people voted, so many different groups have voted for her that it seems inconceivable she could lose. It looks like she's going to win this very big. What difference will it make, Fred Barnes?

FRED BARNES, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: It won't make any difference on who wins the Democratic presidential nomination. That's going to be Obama.

I think it is very telling, however, if Obama loses this state two to one, which is quite possible, it's very telling about what will happen this fall, the kind of trouble he will be in in other states that in some ways are similar with the large white working class West Virginia states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan.

And so the result here is a lot more important than say last week's result in North Carolina where Obama won in a landslide over Hillary Clinton -- a third of the Democratic electorate was African-American and went heavily for Obama. But Obama's not going to win that state in the fall.

HUME: But isn't it perhaps a danger to make a leap from saying that these people, in these groups, wouldn't vote for him against her, to say that they also wouldn't vote for him against John McCain, a Republican?

BARNES: Well, a good chunk in these states like Pennsylvania and Ohio and others and West Virginia say indeed they won't, whether it's 20 percent or 25 percent or something like that. Now, all of them may not actually jump to McCain, but I suspect a good chunk will, and it should be worrisome to Democrats.

NINA EASTON, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, FORTUNE MAGAZINE: Well, tonight is going to be a slam dunk argument for Hillary Clinton. It's the demographic argument that she can deliver one section of the Democratic coalition, white working class voters, seniors, and so on.

HUME: More than one section, or does it overlap? You have lower income vote and seniors. There is overlap there. You have less educated voters, right?

EASTON: Right.

HUME: So that is several --

EASTON: Lower-income people across the board I think is probably the one dynamic here. But that leaves out a lot of the rest of the Democratic coalition that Barack Obama has appealed to.

And, to me, that becomes who makes an argument for I can deliver one section of the vote -- a vice president nominee. I think she's trying to make a case to be on the ticket.

And I know Terry McAuliffe says lots of things happen in politics and things could happen, but we're all sitting here and agreeing that the math doesn't add up. You couldn't imagine her actually getting the nomination. superdelegates are going into his camp, and this looks to me like she's trying to make a bid for why she should be on the ticket.

BILL KRISTOL, EDITOR, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: I said last week that I thought Obama-Clinton was the most logical ticket, and I think this makes the case more strongly. Together they would be pretty powerful.

HUME: Do you honestly believe that would be a stronger ticket than Obama and any number of other choices he could be make?

KRISTOL: I don't know if it would be stronger, but she has proven she can get a lot of votes from these people. The other choices are more speculative. Most of them haven't run for president before and haven't been vetted in the way Hillary Clinton has.

And just practically speaking, what is the rational for not offering her the vice-presidency if she indicates indirectly she would accept it?

HUME: Does anybody think there's any doubt she would accept it?

KRISTOL: If she would accept it, if that's clear, and she has gotten 48, 49 percent of the Democratic primary electorate, and she's qualified to be vice President, and she's legally eligible for it, why wouldn't that be a ticket?

If Obama is running on change and something new --

HUME: She's something old.

KRISTOL: No, but the first black and the first woman would be impressive. I think it's a pretty strong ticket.

JUAN WILLIAMS, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: "Legally eligible" -- what was that about?

KRISTOL: You got me. I don't know.

HUME: It sounded good.

WILLIAMS: In fact, I think Bill Clinton is the problem from Barack Obama's point of view, because if you have Hillary Clinton you get Bill Clinton, and Bill Clinton will be hanging around and overshadowing Barack Obama if he tries to assert himself in terms of his political powers and personality.

And Bill Clinton is so strong in the Democratic Party. So --

HUME: He really in this state is benefiting, correct?

WILLIAMS: Obama is benefiting.

HUME: I mean she's benefiting from him, Clinton, from Bill?

WILLIAMS: Oh, absolutely. I think absolutely, and I think she is benefiting from the fact that only four percent of the electorate is black in this Democratic primary, compared to a third in North Carolina.

So what we see here is a situation where -- I don't know if Nina is right that she's running for vice president. I think in some degree she's still trying to make the case she's the best candidate to defeat John McCain.

The problem is that I think the math is just against her overwhelmingly. I just don't see how she can possibly rack up enough votes. So it comes down to the superdelegates, and has been demonstrated since last week, the narrative in terms of this campaign and the superdelegates have all been going to Barack Obama.

BARNES: Let me answer Bill's question, although Juan did a pretty good job too, about what is the reason for not picking Hillary? Because you don't want her to be your vice president, that's why. Because you wouldn't trust her.

You think this will be a rival with an independent base outside of the White House, outside of an Obama White House, around the country, you wouldn't trust her and Bill. I think that's a big reason.

And the main reason why he wouldn't want her -- the other thing is about Hillary -- wait a minute. I want to say one other thing -- just because Hillary can attract votes when she is running for president, that doesn't mean she is going to attract these same voters when she is somebody vice presidential running mate, far from it.

KRISTOL: Well, she can attract them better probably than anyone else whom they haven't voted for before.

And on the trust issue -- what does that mean? Her interest is going to have a successful Obama-Clinton administration. I don't think she will sit as Vice President trying to undercut President Obama.

BARNES: I do!

HUME: If you would like to hear any more of the editorial board of "The Weekly Standard," and it's weekly conversation, stay tuned, we're going to be on here for some time to come.

When we come back, what about the media and the media and Obama and the media and McCain? Stick with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yes, we know what's coming. I'm not naive. We've already seen it.

The same names and labels they always pin on everyone who doesn't agree with all their ideas; the same efforts to distract us from the issues that affect our lives by pouncing on every gaffe and association and fake controversy in the hopes that the media will play along.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What percentage of the mainstream media is in the tank for Barack Obama?

TERRY MCAULIFFE, CLINTON CAMPAIGN CHAIRMAN: Probably 90 percent. From day one, it is what it is. We're not complaining. We have to deal with the hand we're dealt with.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HUME: They don't like it. The Clinton camp thinks that the media is in the tank for Barack Obama, with one exception.

Question -- this is a week in which we have seen a "Newsweek" cover story that portrayed Obama much as he did in that sound byte you just heard as about to go up against a relentless Republican attack machine which has been responsible for a series of presidential victories going back decades, dispensers of fear and even hate, in which "The New York Times" doing some fact checking and finding that Obama did say things he plainly did say.

So back with the panel here on this issue. We're seeing this now. We saw the reaction from the Clinton camp about this. What is this going to be like in the fall, Juan?

WILLIAMS: Well, I think if you stick with the Obama framework, it is that you can't call him any names, you can't challenge him on policy positions, you can't bring up Jeremiah Wright or Tony Rezko, you can't bring up Michelle Obama, and you shouldn't really mention much about the fact that when it comes to battling terrorism, the American people see him as weaker than John McCain, because all of those things would indicate that you're a racist pig.

KRISTOL: And the flipside of that is, of course, the Republican Party has been, as Brit said, scaring voters since 1968. That's what it's been about -- 40 years of American politics. These lower and middle class folks frightened and disturbed by hippies and student radicals and blacks. That's what this is all about.

There were no substantive reasons why you might prefer Nixon or Reagan or President Bush. There were no issues of taxes or defense policy or foreign policy why anyone might have voted Republican over the last 40 years.

It's just wrong. It says Richard Nixon built a silent majority out of lower and middle class folks. I'm sure he did better among wealthier voters. Hubert Humphrey did better among lower and middle class folks.

So it's not even empirically true, but it shows such contempt for the American public.

WILLIAMS: But it is true that Willie Horton existed, and it is true that swift boating existed.

EASTON: I think there's two issues gong on here, and one is how will the media treat Obama. And I think it's a mix.

What has sent all of us over the top tonight was this "Newsweek" article. As somebody who -- I wrote a book about conservatives because I sensed so much bias among my colleagues in the press against conservatives, and so I saw an opening there.

And I read this article, and it was just astonishing talking about the Republican attack machine. Well, how about the Moveon.org attack machine, which has an ad out now gong after John McCain when he was making fun, saying "bomb Iran" as sort of a joke, and now that's scare tactics. They're suggesting John McCain wants to bomb Iran.

Let's not even go back to the "Daisy" ad of 1964, how about Moveon.org's General Petraeus "betray us." That's not hateful attacks?

HUME: Juan put his finger on something, though, Fred, that has been complained about repeatedly, and that is the Willie Horton and swift boating. Were there any other underlying issues there that was valid, or was that simply hate stuff?

BARNES: There certainly were with the swift boat veterans who about 60 some of them who actually served with John Kerry and all said things, many of which I thought were well documented in the book, and Kerry chose not to answer.

And, look, the Willie Horton ad was attacked only late in the campaign after it had been out there for months. And then all of a sudden Ron Brown declared it was racist, which I don't think it was.

Brit, you know how on some of these primary nights you focused on somebody in the crowd during the Obama speech swooning?

HUME: Right.

BARNES: This article in "Newsweek" is the political reporting equivalent of that, that kind of swooning.

I have never seen anything like it. It winds up with a woman saying Obama never wants to be a knee jerk on any issues, and never mentions that that he has the number one liberal voting record.

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