Clinton Still Unraveling After Kentucky Win?

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," May 20, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: And welcome to a special edition of "Hannity & Colmes."

We are following the results tonight in Kentucky and the Oregon primaries. And we start tonight in the blue grass state where FOX News projects, in fact, Hillary Clinton is the big winner tonight. And according to the exit polls, Barack Obama is still struggling tonight with white voters in the middle of the country.

Exit polls saying only a third of the Clinton voters in Kentucky will vote for Barack Obama over Senator McCain in the fall. And remember, those are Democrats.

Joining us now tonight with reaction to this big Clinton win is campaign advisor Maria Cardona.

Maria, welcome back.


Video: Watch the interview

HANNITY: First of all, you look at the numbers and they're absolutely huge. But I noticed in Hillary's speech, he once again said she's going to stand up for the voters in Florida and Michigan, and she's going forward. Is she taking this how far?

CARDONA: She's going to take it until the very end which is something that she has said from the very beginning. She'd made a commitment to the voters of every state that they will have a voice in this process.

And until there's a nominee — we don't have a nominee — and she's going to continue to work very hard to make the case to the voters that she is the candidate that is better prepared and better positioned to take on John McCain in the fall and win this White House back for the Democratic Party.

HANNITY: When we look at these exit polls, be it in West Virginia or tonight in Kentucky, I think they're devastating for Barack Obama in terms of the percentage of people. A third would vote for John McCain over Barack Obama.

What do you think the issues are? I think it's William Ayers. I think it's Jeremiah Wright. Jeremiah Wright factored big in the exit polls again tonight. What do you think the issues are?

CARDONA: Well, I actually think it's more an issue of economics, and, frankly, the message that Senator Clinton has been delivering is the one that has been resonating. You know, you look at these states in the Midwest, and you know, what we call the blue-collar voters, those are the voters that have been most hit by this recession, and who are suffering the most economic angst.

I don't think it's an issue of race because you look at Iowa, you look at Utah, you look at other states, frankly, like Oregon, which we believe, you know, Senator Obama will most likely win. Those are very white states, too. So I think it's more of an issue of economics and the fact that Senator Clinton's message is resonating much more with those voters.

HANNITY: Let me throw three exit poll statistics at you. Number one is 53 percent of Kentucky voters, Maria, 53 percent believe that Senator Obama at least somewhat shares the views of Reverend Wright. Now that — that's amazing because they — on the issue of honest and trustworthiness, again, a majority don't think he's honest and trustworthy, and less than half think he's honest.

How can you win a general election? If you can't win West Virginia, if you can't win Ohio, if you can't Kentucky and Pennsylvania, how do you win the general election?

CARDONA: Well, you know, that's why we are continuing to make the argument that Senator Clinton is going to be the candidate at the end of this process that's going to be better positioned to win a general election against John McCain.

HANNITY: All right. But here's the problem, though.

CARDONA: Her message does resonate with these voters.

HANNITY: Back in September the Clinton campaign put out a memo, you supported the DNC's rules as it relates to the seating of Michigan and Florida. Now that it would benefit you, now you're willing to change it. How do you make the case that she's really standing up for them outside of doing what's really...


HANNITY: ...politically expedient?

CARDONA: Well, look, from the very beginning, the deal that, frankly, all of the candidates agreed to was that they would not campaign in Michigan and in Florida, and none of them did. But.

HANNITY: Yes, but they agreed that they wouldn't seat them because the DNC said they wouldn't seat those delegates.

CARDONA: But Senator Clinton has always said from the very beginning that she didn't think it was right or fair to just discount Michigan and Florida given that we need those states as a party to win in the general election.

HANNITY: All right. So.

CARDONA: It's the reason why she left her name on the ballot in Michigan.

HANNITY: All right. Then walk us through the scenario where Hillary Clinton — now granted, Barack Obama cannot cross the finish line. He can't finish this deal. Now I think one of the most damaging things — first of all I think Michelle Obama's comments that America is a downright mean country, she's never been proud of her country, his comments that he made in San Francisco that, you know, bitter Americans clinging to their guns and religion, I think this has had a huge impact on Reagan Democrats.

Do you believe, as I do, that that is a big factor?

CARDONA: Well, you know, again, I think you have to look at the exit polls and see what the voters are saying.

HANNITY: No, no. But what do you think?

CARDONA: But — well, I think that ultimately the voters have made a decision that Senator Clinton is the one who's better prepared to take on John McCain.

HANNITY: No, but you're not answering my question.

CARDONA: Whatever.

HANNITY: That's not my question, though.

CARDONA: Whatever the issues — but Sean, whatever the issues are...

HANNITY: How important an impact is the comment in San Francisco?

CARDONA: Whatever the issues are, whether it's economics, whether it's the fact that they believe that Senator Clinton understands them better.

HANNITY: Right. But I'm going to try it one more time.

CARDONA: .whether it's the fact that they believe that her plans are better.

COLMES: It won't work.

HANNITY: Hang on. Maria, listen — but how important — when he said that these are bitter Americans in Pennsylvania clinging to their guns, clinging to their religion with antipathy towards those who aren't like them, how big a factor, do you think, that's playing in states like West Virginia and Kentucky?

CARDONA: Well, I do think it has had a negative resonating factor, and I think that, again, it's one of the reasons why Senator Clinton's message has resonated more.

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Hey, Maria, it's Alan. Welcome back to our show.

CARDONA: I mean.

COLMES: He's trying to get you to drag you into knocking and going after and attacking.

CARDONA: No, you know, but.

COLMES: . Barack Obama and Reverend Wright, Michelle Obama.

CARDONA: Ultimately.

COLMES: . and going after these people on his territory.

CARDONA: Ultimately — right.

COLMES: That's what he wants you to do.

CARDONA: Ultimately it's the fact that Senator Clinton's message resonates.

COLMES: And you're not buying it. Good for you. You're not — you're not doing it.

HANNITY: Oh stop coaching. You're — he's coaching the guest.

COLMES: Coaching the guest? You're trying to drag her into that stuff.

Look, the fact of the matter is, it seems to a lot of people, Maria, that's what's being angled for here at this point might be a combined ticket because the math, many will say, is just not there, and I'm a Hillary supporter, but it doesn't seem like the math is there.

How do you mathematically make this work between now and the convention?

CARDONA: I think the way that you make it work is that, at the end of this process, we're going to make the argument that Senator Clinton has received more votes than Senator Obama. She has won the biggest states.


CARDONA: She has won the key swing states that you need in order to put together an electoral map for a Democratic win in November.

COLMES: To make.

CARDONA: And that frankly her message resonates more. I think that's an incredibly compelling argument to make to the superdelegates.

COLMES: To make the more votes argument you have to include Michigan and you have to include Florida. In Michigan Barack Obama wasn't even on the ticket. You have an uphill battle there because you don't want the perception on the part of the detractors, and there are many, who will say there was a manipulation that enables her to get the nomination. That's the last thing you want, right?

CARDONA: Well — but I think that there's very much a possibility that we can get to the end of this process and not counting Michigan that we will be ahead in the popular vote. There are still three more contests to go after tonight. There are almost 4 million voters in Puerto Rico. We'll see what happens at the end of this process.

And you know the superdelegates really have to take a hard look at this.


CARDONA: . and really make the decision. It's their responsibility to pick the candidate who's not — who not only will be the best candidate for the Democratic Party...


CARDONA: ...but who ultimately will make the best president.

COLMES: But do you have a problem.

CARDONA: If they don't do that, they're not doing their job.

COLMES: Is there a problem in that it is likely that after tonight Barack Obama might be able to say he has the majority of delegates? Not enough to win but the majority. And does that encourage the superdelegates who are yet to be committed to go over there saying this is where the majority is?

CARDONA: Well, I think that he's got to be careful, and his campaign has to tread lightly in terms of looking like they are making — they are taking a victory lap. That is very premature, and, in fact, the voters of West Virginia have said tonight that it is incredibly premature, and that this is not over.

Because ultimately, if, at the end of the day, Senator Obama is the nominee, he's going to need those 17 million plus voters.

COLMES: Right.

CARDONA: . that supported Senator Clinton.

COLMES: But she would also need.

CARDONA: So he cannot be seen as doing something that is disrespectful.

COLMES: He's got 65,000, 70,000 people showing up in Oregon. She would need those people as well.

CARDONA: Well — but I think again, you know, talk of what's going to happen at the end of this process is premature because we're not there yet. Let's let these contests continue. Let's let these voters be heard. It's what Senator Clinton has committed to from the very beginning. Everyone has been so excited..

COLMES: Right.

CARDONA: make their voices heard.

COLMES: All right.

CARDONA: So we'll see what happens.

COLMES: Maria, we thank you very much for coming back on with us. Good to see you tonight. Thank you very much.

CARDONA: Thank you very much.

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