Transcript: Govs. Richardson, Rendell on 'FNS'

The following is a partial transcript of the March 23, 2008, edition of "FOX News Sunday With Chris Wallace":

"FOX NEWS SUNDAY" HOST CHRIS WALLACE: Barack Obama leads Hillary Clinton in delegates by 121. He's also ahead in the popular vote by almost 750,000, and he also leads in the number of states won. It also seems almost certain there won't be do-over primaries in Florida or Michigan.

For more on the Democratic campaign, we turn to Ed Rendell, governor of Pennsylvania and a Clinton supporter, who joins us from Philadelphia; and from Santa Fe, Bill Richardson, governor of New Mexico, who late this week announced he's backing Obama.

Let's start with the latest flap between the Clinton and Obama campaigns about something that Bill Clinton said on Friday. Take a look.


B. CLINTON: I think it would be a great thing if we had an election where you had two people who love this country, were devoted to the interests of the country and people could actually ask themself who's right on these issues, instead of all this other stuff that always seems to intrude itself on our politics.


WALLACE: The Obama campaign sent out one of its top surrogates — that's retired Air Force General Tony McPeak — alongside Obama yesterday to accuse Clinton of McCarthyism for questioning Obama's patriotism.

Governor Richardson, as someone who worked for Bill Clinton, do you really think that's what he was trying to do?

NEW MEXICO GOV. BILL RICHARDSON: I don't believe President Clinton was implying that. But the point here, Chris, is that the campaign has gotten too negative — too many personal attacks, too much negativity that is not resounding with the public.

And John McCain is running around getting support, being international. And this has to stop. I believe the sooner we end this race — and I'm not suggesting anybody get out, but maybe after the remaining primaries, the 10 primaries that are going to be very important in the days ahead, the Democrats come together and look at who's ahead when it comes to delegates, when it comes to the popular vote, the number of states.

And I just feel the time has come to come together behind a candidate. And this is why I endorse Senator Obama, because I believe he can bring the country together, that he is somebody that can reach across party and ethnic lines...

WALLACE: But, Governor Richardson, let me bring in Governor Rendell at this point. We're going to get later on to the question of how the Democrats are going to resolve this seemingly irresolvable dispute.

But let me ask you, because Governor Richardson says the campaigns are being too negative, was the Obama campaign being too negative in accusing Bill Clinton of McCarthyism?

PENNSYLVANIA GOV. ED RENDELL: Of course. I mean, this is — the Obama campaign tries to have it both ways. They say the campaign's too negative, and they go out and turn an innocent remark — Bill Clinton was saying what a lot of us feel.

We wish the issues of race and all of this other stuff would be pushed to the background so we could have a discussion of who's got the most experience, who's got the best health care plan, who has the best plan for the economy.

And instead they launch this all-out attack trying to take an inference out of President Clinton's words that no fair person could take. It's an example of the negativity that Governor Richardson is talking about.

If they want to tone it down, don't accuse someone of McCarthyism.

WALLACE: Governor Richardson, how do you respond to that?

RICHARDSON: Well, look. There's been negativity on both sides. And I think it's reached the point where the personal attacks — the 3:00 a.m. phone call — you know, Senator Obama is patriotic. He's experienced. He is somebody that can lead this nation.

I was in Portland, Oregon at a rally and just the faces of enthusiasm and hope amongst thousands of people — close to 12,000 people were there. He's bringing something new to the American political system that is good. And this is why I have endorsed him.

But I think Ed is right. There's too much negativity. My suggestion would be after Pennsylvania, after other primaries — I mean, it's not just Pennsylvania. That's critically important.

But you've got North Carolina. You've got Oregon coming. You've got Kentucky. You've got many other bigger states. And then the time has come for Democrats to come together and say, "We need to end this. We need to get ready for November. We need to be positive." We have to stop these personal attacks. They're reaching excessive amounts.

WALLACE: Governor Rendell, you told a Pennsylvania newspaper last month — and let's put it up on the screen — "You've got conservative whites here, and I think there are some whites who are probably not ready to vote for an African American candidate."

You took some heat for that, sir, but there were several African American officials in your state of Pennsylvania who said you were just being honest. So let me ask you to be honest again.

Do you think that the controversy over Reverend Wright has hurt Obama, especially with those conservative white Reagan Democrats that you were talking about?

RENDELL: Well, first of all, let me also say that Senator Obama said that I was just telling the truth, and he conceded that that was the truth.

Do I think it's done some damage? Maybe some collateral damage, and maybe at the margin, Chris, but I don't think that's what the voters of Pennsylvania are making their decisions about.

They're making their decisions because they like Hillary Clinton. They like the way she's been a fighter. You know, the media has counted her out. They counted her out after Iowa. They counted her out before Super Tuesday. They counted her out before Ohio and Texas.

But the people of Pennsylvania and, I think, the American people like the way she fights back and fights for them. And that's the thing that's resonating in Pennsylvania.

She's not ahead by anywhere from 12 to 26 points in the various polls here because of Reverend Wright. She's ahead because of her own qualifications and because of the affection that the people of Pennsylvania have for her.

WALLACE: Governor Richardson, I want to ask you one other question about your endorsement of Obama this week. And you talk about negativity and attacks. Clinton adviser James Carville accused you of an act of betrayal on holy week.

Here's what he said. "Mr. Richardson's endorsement came right around the anniversary of the day when Judas sold out for 30 pieces of silver, so I think the timing is appropriate." Governor Richardson, that's pretty tough stuff.

RICHARDSON: Well, I'm not going to get in the gutter like that. And you know, that's typical of many of the people around Senator Clinton. They think they have a sense of entitlement to the presidency.

You know, and I got in this race myself. I am very loyal to the Clintons. I served under President Clinton. But I served well. And I served the country well. And he gave me that opportunity.

But you know, Chris, it shouldn't just be Bush, Clinton, Bush, Clinton. You know, what about the rest of us? I got in the race. A lot of other candidates — Senator Biden, Dodd — that are qualified and experienced — you know, Senator Obama representing change.

So I feel that it's important that we bring a new generation of leadership. You know, the American people hate this partisanship, these divisions, snapping at each other as we seem to be doing.

And I think Obama represents this new change of not just bipartisanship, but bringing people together, bringing races together, bringing America's role in the world to be respected again.

The huge message that he would send if he's president, an African American of mixed heritage, of great intelligence and tremendous depth as a human being, the way he handled that race issue, is going to be a great signal for America.

WALLACE: Let me bring Governor Rendell back.

As we've been pointing out, the next big primary is Pennsylvania on April 22nd. And let's put up the latest RealClearPolitics average of recent polls in Pennsylvania. It shows that Clinton is leading Obama by 17 points.

Governor Rendell, is she going to win by that kind of margin, by double digits? And if she does, what does that say about the relative strength of these two nominees going forward?

RENDELL: Well, Chris, she's not going to win by 17 points. Senator Obama is going to outspend us here 2.5 to one, three to one. He's already on television and radio, and he's a formidable campaigner, as we all know.

But I think Senator Clinton is going to win a solid majority. And when you combine that with Ohio, and Texas, and Florida, and Michigan and all of the other key states that we have to win in November, it sends a very important message that if we want to win — and I think that's what Democrats care most about — that Hillary Clinton's our best candidate to win.

If you looked at — more important than even the Pennsylvania polls, if you looked at the polls this week about head-to-heads with McCain versus Clinton and McCain versus Obama, it's stunning news for Democrats.

In Ohio, Senator Clinton's up by six points. Senator Obama is down to Senator McCain by seven. In Missouri and Florida, Senator Clinton is within the margin of error. Senator Obama is behind by double digits.

In Massachusetts, Senator Obama is even. Senator Clinton's up by 14. And in New Jersey, Senator Obama is behind by two and Senator Clinton's up by 11.

We have to be concerned about who's going to win. We've got two great candidates, and Senator Clinton will make history around the world, too.

There are women in every country in this world that have been oppressed and would love to see an American woman president just as it would be a great message to see an African American president.

WALLACE: Governor Rendell, let me follow up on this question of the race, because for all the talk about Reverend Wright and even the talk about Bill Richardson's endorsement, a lot of people think the really big news this week was the fact that Michigan is now following Florida in deciding not to hold a re-vote.

Given all of that, isn't it impossible now for Clinton to beat Obama in the popular vote and the pledged delegates when all the voting is done in early June?

RENDELL: Well, sure. And again, it shows the inconsistency...

WALLACE: Sure, you're saying it's impossible.

RENDELL: It's very difficult, but it shows an inconsistency in the Obama campaign. First, they say the superdelegates should reflect the will of the people of their states.

Well, we have Senator Kennedy and Senator Kerry saying they're going to vote for Obama even though Senator Clinton won by 13 points in Massachusetts.

Governor Richardson, who I respect — and I reject James Carville's comment. Bill Richardson did what he thinks is right for the country. I disagree with him, but I reject James Carville's comment. The voters of New Mexico chose Senator Clinton.

If we follow the Obama line, Bill Richardson should be for Senator Clinton.

RICHARDSON: Yes, but, Eddie, by half a percent. Come on.

RENDELL: Bill, it doesn't matter. Senator Kennedy and Senator Kerry said they are voting for...

RICHARDSON: Well, it does matter.

RENDELL: They said they're voting for Senator Obama, and Senator Clinton clocked Obama in Massachusetts.

The second inconsistency, Chris, is...

RICHARDSON: Hey, Chris, could I have a word?


RENDELL: The second inconsistency — and this is very important...

WALLACE: All right. Real quick, Governor Rendell, because I want to bring in Governor Richardson.

RENDELL: The second inconsistency is the Obama folks say, "Let the popular vote count. Let that determine who wins." Well, we're disenfranchising voters in Michigan and Florida.

If you have do-over elections, Michigan, Florida and Pennsylvania, Senator Clinton can and would, in my judgment, win the popular vote.

WALLACE: All right. Let's just agree, though, because it seems that both of you do agree with Florida and Michigan almost certainly out now that at the end of the primaries in early June, Obama is going to lead in popular vote and is going to lead in pledged delegates.

Governor Richardson, you said several times that's the point when we've got to settle this thing. But do you settle it based simply on who leads in those numbers, or do you settle it on an independent judgment, as you made, about who would be the best and, yes, who would be the strongest candidate to win back the White House?

RICHARDSON: Well, you've got to base it on the fact who wins more popular votes, who wins more states. Obama's won 30 states. I think he's going to take many of the 10 states that are remaining. He's got a delegate lead. He's picking up in superdelegates.

I think it reaches a point where the leaders of the party, the voters in the Democratic Party, have to see that this bloodletting that would go between the last primary and the convention is not serving us well. I mean, it gets negative proportionately more every single day.

The best thing to do is unite around the candidate, start our message nationally, and make sure that we get a lot of healing done. A lot of healing needs to take place between Senators Clinton and Obama.

And Senator Clinton has run a magnificent race. I agree with Eddie Rendell. I mean, she may win Pennsylvania. But the reality is that proportionately, numerically, I don't think Senator Obama's lead can be overtaken. And then I believe it's the responsibility...

WALLACE: Governor, let me bring in Governor Rendell.

If it's right — and you seem to agree that Obama will lead — wouldn't there be a bloodletting if this thing continues on through June, July and August? Particularly, what does it say about the Democratic Party?

What are you going to be saying, especially to African Americans, if the predominantly overwhelmingly white superdelegates decide, "No, we're going to give the nomination to Hillary Clinton even though Obama leads in popular vote and pledged delegates?"

RENDELL: Well, again, let's take a look at popular vote. The popular vote is 750 now, but let's assume because of Pennsylvania, and West Virginia, and Kentucky, and states where Senator Clinton has a big lead — let's assume it's less than a half a million out of 55 million, 60 million cast.

Let's assume the delegate lead is 3 percent or 4 percent of the total delegates. Then I think the superdelegates — and the Obama folks are always saying, "Let's play by the rules."

Well, the superdelegates have been the rules in this party for conventions not just this year, but for many years. Reason? Because the superdelegates are supposed to exercise their judgment as to who's the strongest candidate to win in November.

We have to take back the White House, whether it's Senator Obama or Senator Clinton.

WALLACE: And what about this talk, Governor Rendell, of a bloodletting?

RENDELL: Well, first of all — and another thing I love — Bill talks about the number of states that have been won. Well, in November we have something called the electoral college. You don't become president by winning the most states.

You become president by winning the states with the most electoral votes. Senator Clinton has a 65-vote, 70-vote lead in states carried in terms of electoral votes. So there's arguments to be made on both sides.

We have two great candidates. Our job is to nominate the one who has the best chance to win.

WALLACE: Gentlemen...

RENDELL: I want to ask Bill — Bill, does it bother you that Senator Obama is behind in New Jersey and even in Massachusetts?

WALLACE: All right. I usually ask the questions here.

But, Governor Richardson, take 30 seconds to answer it, and then we're going to have to say goodbye.

RICHARDSON: Well, look. I think polls after polls and the American people — they want change. They want a new president that is going to shift the direction internationally and domestically.

And Barack Obama is clearly the strongest candidate nationally. I don't know what polls Governor Rendell is looking at. I see that Senator Obama is the strongest candidate nationally.

WALLACE: Guys, we're going to keep the satellite linked up, and you can...

RICHARDSON: And right now, Senator Obama is...

WALLACE: We're going to keep the satellite linked up and the two of you can continue to argue about this during the commercial.

RENDELL: Survey USA and Erasmus (ph), and you can look it up, Bill.

WALLACE: All right. There you go.

RENDELL: You can look it up.

WALLACE: Gentlemen, Governor Rendell, Governor Richardson, we want to thank you both. Thank you both for advocating so strongly on behalf of your candidates, and thank you for sharing part of your holiday with us.