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CBS "Face The Nation" - Transcript

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CBS "Face The Nation"

MR. SCHIEFFER: Today on "Face the Nation," as Senator Obama increases his lead in superdelegate, Senator Clinton campaigns on. The question, why? Mathematically, getting the Democratic nomination looks like an impossible feat for Senator Clinton. Why is she staying in the race? Is her reluctance to step down further splitting the Democratic Party? We'll ask former presidential contender John Edwards, who has yet to endorse either candidate, and Senator Clinton's campaign chairman Terry McAuliffe.

We'll talk about the rest of the week's political news with Jim VandeHei of Politico. Then I'll have a final word on mamma's rules. But first, John Edwards and Terry McAuliffe on "Face the Nation."

(Announcements.)

MR. SCHIEFFER: And good morning again. Barack Obama now leads in the number of delegates. He's overtaken Hillary Clinton in the number of superdelegates, and now he has the largest percentage of the popular vote. So when we spoke with former Democratic candidate John Edwards late yesterday, we asked if he saw any way for Senator Clinton to get the nomination now.

(Begin videotaped interview.)

SEN. EDWARDS: I think it's very hard, Bob. I mean, I think -- actually, as I've been watching her campaign in the last few weeks, I think she's become a stronger and stronger candidate. She's been making a pretty compelling case for her candidacy. The problem is I think you can no longer make a compelling case for the math. The math is very, very hard for her.

MR. SCHIEFFER: Well, you ended your campaign because you said it was simply not going to be possible for you to get the nomination, and you felt it was better to end the process sooner rather than later. I remember you said that you did not think it was being helpful to the party. Are you ready to give her that advice?

SEN. EDWARDS: It's a hard judgment to make, Bob. You know, in my case, basically there were two things going on. One was I concluded I could stay in the race, keep getting a significant number of votes, keep accumulating delegates, but the overwhelming likelihood was I would not be the nominee. And I also believed that if I got out of the race, it would accelerate the process of one person pulling away. I was obviously dead wrong about that. (Chuckles.) I think it's a judgment that she has to make, and I think she's in a very, very tough place.

MR. SCHIEFFER: It does seem that she has taken this campaign, and there's no other way to put it, than to kind of a different place, suggesting that she is the candidate of white people, hard-working white people I think was the phrase she used. Here's the sound bite that everybody's talking about.

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY): (From audiotape.) There was just an AP article posted that found how Senator Obama's support among hard-working white Americans is weakening again and how the, you know, whites in both states who had not completed college were supporting me.

MR. SCHIEFFER: Do you find it interesting, Senator, that she did not make that argument before the North Carolina primary where you had a large African-American vote, but now she seems to be making it? And isn't she really arguing that white people won't vote for Barack Obama?

SEN. EDWARDS: You know, I think what's going on, Bob, is she's in a very tough, very competitive race that's been going on a long, long time. And you know, I'm sure she feels like she didn't choose her words very well there. And I think the difficult place that she's in is she's not just in a tough race now. And I have to tell you, I'm different than a lot of people. I actually admire some of the strength and fortitude that she's shown. I know how hard it is to get up and go out there every day, speak to the media, speak to crowds when people are urging you to get out of the race. I mean, it's a very hard place to be in. But she's shown a lot of strength about that.

But I think the one thing that she has to be careful about -- and she doesn't need my advice, she knows this full well -- is she has to be careful about going forward is that as she makes the case for herself, which she's completely entitled to do, she has to be really careful that she's not damaging our prospects, the Democratic Party and our cause, for the fall.

MR. SCHIEFFER: Well, do you think she has?

SEN. EDWARDS: Well, no more than there being a tough, competitive race that's gone on a long time. What I think is, at the end of the day, when this is over, and I think it is likely certainly at this point that Senator Obama will be the nominee, that the Democrats will unite. We'll all be behind our nominee, and we'll be out there campaigning our hearts out. If Senator Clinton doesn't get the nomination, I am absolutely certain that she and President Clinton will be out there campaigning for Senator Obama.

MR. SCHIEFFER: You sort of danced around the question when you were on some of the morning shows on Friday about whether or not you're ready to endorse anybody. I'm not going to try to keep on with this. Are you going to endorse anybody at this point?

SEN. EDWARDS: I might. I don't think it's a big deal, to be honest with you. I think voters are the ones who are speaking in this process. My feeling all along, in addition to what we talked about earlier and me getting out earlier, I hoped, would accelerate us having an earlier nominee, but my feeling is also that I think my endorsement or anybody else's endorsement has not particularly helped with the divide. And I think that actually endorsements make the divide worse.

And what's important here is not me or who I'm for or who I'd vote for or who I support. What's important is that we get united as a party behind our nominee, that we're successful in November because the people that I care the most about, you know, the low-income families in this country, working families, people who are having a hard time, those men and women who are putting their lives on the line in Iraq, they're the ones that matter in this, not some particular candidate or some strategic position that somebody's taken.

MR. SCHIEFFER: You, this week, are launching a plan to cut poverty in half. That is your goal within the next 10 years. Among the things you're going to try to do is increase childcare. You want to extend income tax credits. You want more unemployment insurance. You want to raise the minimum wage. Have you been able to get any of the candidates to sign on to this plan that you plan to launch this week?

SEN. EDWARDS: Yeah. Actually, as a matter of fact, that's been one of the most encouraging things that's happened. At the time I got out of the race, I spoke to Senator Clinton and Senator Obama. I did not speak to Senator McCain at that point.

But both of them committed to do a number of things to make poverty central to the campaign, both in the nomination and also in the general election, and also to make ending poverty in America central to their presidency. I've had a number of conversations with each of them since that time. They reinforced that position. I believe they believe it.

By the way, I don't know that they need to be pushed by me. Obviously, this is a central cause in my life, but the two of them care deeply about this independent of me. And I think that they are committed to the cause.

And as to John McCain, I actually spoke to Senator McCain on April the 4th, the anniversary of Dr. King's death, because Martin the III asked me to speak to him about possibly having a Cabinet-level position to fight poverty in this country. And I got a very positive response. He didn't commit to the Cabinet-level position, but he did commit to doing something about this cause. So I actually feel pretty encouraged about this.

MR. SCHIEFFER: Well, it's certainly a worthy goal. But how much would something like this, what you're talking about, cost, Senator?

SEN. EDWARDS: Well, some of the things don't cost anything, and some of them do have costs associated with them. I mean, raising the minimum wage, which is one of the things that we've talked about doing both at state and national level, certainly doesn't have any direct cost. And in fact, in places where the minimum wage has been raised, I think most studies show that the economy has improved in those places.

And I would add to that, Bob, it depends on, in answer to your question specifically, is it depends on how much you expand the earned income tax credit, which is what you just spoke about, how much we expand the availability of childcare. You know, there are gradations of how much of this we do.

But I would say, and I think this is an important thing for the country, that if we care about middle-class families, working families in this country and having sustainable, long-term economic growth, that in American history when we have been lifting millions of Americans out of poverty and putting them in the middle class and broadening that middle class and strengthening the middle class, that's when we've been able to sustain long-term economic growth. And there's absolutely no reason to believe that's not true now. I think it is.

MR. SCHIEFFER: All right. Well, Senator, it's nice to have you back on television again, nice to have you on "Face the Nation." I hope we'll see you another time down the trail. Thank you.

SEN. EDWARDS: Thanks so much for having me.

(End videotaped interview.)

MR. SCHIEFFER: And we'll be back in one minute with Senator Clinton's campaign chairman Terry McAuliffe.


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