'Special Report' Panel on Superdelegates and How They Can Shape the Presidential Race

This is a rush transcript of "Special Report With Brit Hume" from February 13, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have to make sure that wh oever wins the most votes, the most states, the most delegates, that they are the nominee.

I think it would be problematic if either Senator Clinton or myself came in with having won the most support from voters, and that was somehow overturned by party insiders.


BAIER: That was Senator Barack Obama talking about the hunt for delegates, because it all comes down to delegates.

On the Democratic side it is very close. We wanted to break this down for you real quickly. First of all, the pledged delegates—these are delegates that were won in caucuses or primaries.

There you see the lead for Barack Obama: 964 to 905.

The next screen is super delegates. These are party leaders, elected officials. They can change their mind about who they are supporting. These are the delegates that we know have said who they supporting: 242 for Hillary Clinton, 160 for Barack Obama; 796 of these in all are up for grabs.

You put those together and that is how you get the totals that we had earlier on the show: 1,147 and 1,124. Barack Obama, obviously, saying if he wins the most delegates in all of these contests, he believes that he should be the nominee.

Some analytical observations about this race from Bill Sammon, Senior White House Correspondent of "The Washington Examiner," Mort Kondracke, Executive Editor of the "Roll Call," and syndicate columnist Charles Krauthammer, Fox News contributors all.

Charles, as you look at the delegate breakdown, people get confused about how this all adds up, but the pledged delegates, especially if Barack Obama can win all three races tonight, he will have a bigger lead heading into next week's primaries.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: And that is why all this talk about the super delegates deciding it on their own in the back rooms is last week's story. That would be the story if we were where we were a week ago after Super Tuesday, when you had essentially a dead heat— a dead heat in the popular vote, in the electoral, in the delegates, and in momentum. It was a draw.

It is not any more. It is a week later now, and Obama has won five contests last week. By every indication he is way ahead in the three today. He is probably going to win Wisconsin and Hawaii next week. That will be 10 in a row.

When you win 10 in a row, you have the momentum. He will be ahead in all of the pledged delegates, ahead at least 100, he will be ahead in the popular vote. I don't see—there's no way in which the super delegates are going to reverse that.

I think Obama is right. Unless she makes a comeback in March in Texas and Ohio and Rhode Island, I think the wave will ride him in, and he is not going to be stopped by the Party insiders.

MORT KONDRACKE, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, "ROLL CALL": There was momentum, we thought, for Obama heading in Super Tuesday, and she managed to have a fire break in California, Massachusetts, New Jersey. She is depending on another fire break in Ohio and Pennsylvania—Pennsylvania is April 22.

So, granted, he will have a lead going in with unpledged delegates, and it will put the onus on the unpledged delegates to go with the winner of the popular vote.

But I would not count her out. She's going to suffer major losses tonight, but you cannot count the Clintons out.

BAIER: And then you have the issue of Michigan and Florida. And we've talked a lot about this: they moved the race up. The Democratic National Committee punished them, took their delegates away. Now there is a case, the Clintons say, to be made that you seek those delegates at the National Convention.

Take a listen to Hillary Clinton on that topic.


SEN. HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think that both Michigan and Florida should count, because these are two states we have to carry. This is not about so much as the ins and outs of the Democratic National Committee as to whether the Democrats are going to win in the fall.


BAIER: Bill, Barack Obama wasn't even on the ballot in Michigan.

BILL SAMMON, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, WASHINGTON EXAMINER: I think that is a very tough argument for her to sustain after everybody agreed that there would be no campaigning in Florida or Michigan because the Party was punishing those states for moving the primaries up, and then to come in afterwards and say let's seek those delegates afterwards.

Barack Obama said in that earlier clip that that would go against everybody's grain—if that ended up going for the person who didn't have the most delegates, who didn't have the most raw vote, who didn't have the most states, which is to say Barack Obama, there would be a huge fight.

My guess is if it came down to it, if Hillary pushing that particular point, I would expect to see some kind of another caucus held in those states. There's already been talk of that. I think that would be the only fair way to do it: have them both campaign and hold another caucus.

BAIER: One thing: Mort, you mentioned Pennsylvania. Governor Ed Rendell, Democratic Governor there, was asked about the issue of race in that primary coming up on April 22. and here is what he told the "Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,"

You've got conservative whites here, and I think there are some white who are probably not ready to vote for an African-American candidate."

Are you surprised that that sentence is out there?

KONDRACKE: He is saying the truth. There probably are conservative whites who are not ready to vote for a—but for a leader of the Clinton campaign, in effect, he is behind Clinton, to be talking like this revives all this racial stuff that the two candidates had put aside, we thought.

And the consequence of it is—it sounds like incitement to me, frankly.

KRAUTHAMMER: It is either just an odd historical anecdote, or it is a way of saying we are going to win the white racists, which is hardly an argument in favor of his candidate.

SAMMON: I have been racking my brain: what is her next move? Is it going to be unleash Bill? Is it going to be scorched earth warfare?

When I say this quote, I thought they are going to start to play the race card again.

BAIER: That is the last on this topic.

When we come back, more with the all-stars, this time of the three Republican primaries today, what it means. Stay with us.


BAIER: Let's take a look at how the Republican race is stacking up delegates-wise right not before tonight's Potomac primary—729 for John McCain, 241 for Mike Huckabee. You need 1,191 to clinch the nomination.

Bill, if Huckabee does not have a good night tonight, will there be a lot of pressure for him to get out of this race?

SAMMON: I think it will start to build. Over the weekend Huckabee had a very good couple of contests against John McCain, crushed him in Kansas, beat him in Louisiana, came close in Washington state, although I don't think we have gotten to 100 percent voting.

BAIER: But they called it again.

SAMMON: They called it again.

But, my point is, when you beat McCain that decisively to the point where you are embarrassing him, it is hard to make the argument that Huckabee ought to get out of the race.

Having said that, if he loses al three tonight, I think the pressure will slowly start to build. I don't think Huckabee will get out right away, I don't think he necessarily has to. But I think it will be the beginning of the end for him. And it will take a couple of weeks, or whatever the process is, where he gradually will step aside.

But McCain has to win before the pressure can begin to get Huckabee out of the race.

BAIER: Clearly, he is sending a message though, Mort, to the Republican Party—Huckabee.

KONDRACKE: The message is that the conservatives are unreconciled to McCain as yet, and that was the message of the primaries that Huckabee won.

And he is now becoming much more aggressive about McCain, talking about immigration and talking about constitutional amendments to ban abortion and gay marriage, which McCain is against.

It is becoming embarrassing. And if Huckabee decides to stay into Texas, and he continues with this kind of thing and he scores well in Texas—I don't think he can beat McCain in Texas—but if he scores well in Texas against McCain, then it will really damage the candidate: he cannot now get busy running against the Democrats already. He still has to contend with Huckabee.

And there is going to be a lot of pressure after tonight to get Huckabee out of the race. But if he won't go and he scores well in Texas, then the Republican Party has a real problem.

BAIER: So if you are John McCain, Charles, what do you do with this what has become an insurgent campaign that is causing some major problems?

KRAUTHAMMER: You get your surrogates to go to Huckabee and persuade him that it is hurting the Party, it won't help him in the kinds of things he wants: appointments or a speech at the convention, that kind of thing.

If he loses it tonight, he is a loser, and he is not—there's no way he is going to get more delegates than John McCain. The reason he is staying is he wants to get the more delegates than Mitt Romney. That way he comes out at the end of this cycle—he says I was the runner-up, I'm the presumptive last man standing for the next cycle in four years.

And he's also in there because he likes the attention. You think if he pulled out he would draw a crowd when he pulls out his guitar? It's not going to happen. He loves the limelight and he is getting it, and he is staying in.

He represents an important constituency that deserves respect, but his staying in doesn't deserve that much respect. It is all about him.

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