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MSNBC "Interview" - Transcript


Location: Unknown

MS. MITCHELL: Barack Obama was on Capitol Hill this morning meeting with undeclared superdelegates on the House side, Democrats who could decide the nomination once and for all. Senator Obama spent about a half an hour in the House side. He told reporters he was asking members of Congress to support his White House bid.

Massachusetts Senator John Kerry already has backed Barack Obama and joins us now from the Senate.

Thanks very much for joining us.

SEN. KERRY: Great to be with you.

MS. MITCHELL: Senator, let me show you Hillary Clinton at a news conference yesterday in West Virginia, what she had to say about the 2004 race -- in which you, of course, were the nominee.

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY): (From videotape.) But what we have not been able to count on in the last election are the voters I'm getting. You know, women, particularly lower-income women, didn't vote for John Kerry. Hispanics didn't come out for Senator Kerry in the numbers that people had hoped for. Working people are really a part of the base that we lost that we're trying to win back.

MS. MITCHELL: Okay, Senator. Is she correct that she has a working class coalition that you couldn't create and that she claims Barack Obama cannot create?

SEN. KERRY: Well, I think that's really what she's pointing at here. And frankly, her history is a little bit inaccurate, in the sense -- you know, I won Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and came within 59,000 votes in Ohio. And the reasons we lost there had nothing to do with what she was talking about. It was about campaign strategy and mistakes that we made.

So I think Barack Obama is proving right now in his whole campaign that he's been able to reach out and create a different kind of coalition; which is why, incidentally, he has won -- I think it's 32 to her 16 victories. He has won 32 to her 16. He's 150-plus delegates ahead at this point in time. He's almost even in superdelegates. And it's because people all across the country in red states -- the governor of Virginia, the governor of Kansas, the governor of Arizona, the senator from Nebraska, the two senators from North and South Dakota, all red states -- see a greater ability of Barack Obama to bring people together than in his opponent.

Barack Obama's campaign is about unifying people and bringing them together. You're going to see some division in this primary, Andrea, along different demographics, but that, once you have a nominee, will be erased around the unity of Democrats to have health care, to have a foreign policy that is smart and makes us stronger, to put people back to work, not to protect the special interests against working people. And they're going to unite around our nominee, and that nominee will be Barack Obama.

MS. MITCHELL: What should Hillary Clinton do? Should she continue and press on through West Virginia and Kentucky and possibly Oregon -- well, clearly Oregon if she goes to Kentucky, but Montana, Puerto Rico? Should she go all the way to June 3rd? Should she rethink that right now?

SEN. KERRY: It's completely up to Hillary Clinton and her campaign to decide what she should do. You know, all of us have a great deal of respect for her. She is a very capable public person, she's a terrific senator, and she's friends to many of us here in the Senate. What she should do is decide for herself what she thinks is best for the country, for the party, and those are the two things that ought to take precedence.

MS. MITCHELL: Well, Senator Feinstein, your colleague and Clinton supporter, suggested yesterday that she was going to talk to Senator Clinton and that Senator Clinton has to explain what her strategy is, since the math is clearly not there.

SEN. KERRY: Well, Senator Feinstein is a supporter of Hillary Clinton and she has every right in the world to ask Hillary Clinton for whatever her plan is going forward, as does any supporter of Hillary Clinton. But as a supporter of Barack Obama, it's entirely inappropriate for me, and also as a colleague, or anybody else here, to be suggesting what she should or shouldn't do. She's earned the right to make that decision, and we all -- everybody needs to respect that.

I just disagree with a lot of people that, you know, this has to be hurtful. I think if the Clinton campaign stays focused on the things that really matter and we go forward talking about John McCain and the mistakes of the Republican Party, this can energize people and we could be very unified. So --

MS. MITCHELL: But right now the Clinton campaign is talking about how they can reach the white voter and the working-class, blue- collar voter, and that Barack Obama can't. Is that hurtful?

SEN. KERRY: Barack Obama is going to continue to talk about what has brought him to these 32 victories and his lead, and that is his ability to unify the nation. And his campaign is a living, you know, testimony to that. His campaign has brought people together from all over the country in different places. He's inspired people to change registrations from Republican. He's won votes in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, elsewhere; from rich, poor, black, white, brown; young old; and he's building a new coalition. And I just think he needs to stay focused on his message of unifying the nation, resolving real problems, and not get caught up in this process talk and sidebar politics. And if he continues to do that, I think he's going to do just fine.

And incidentally --

MS. MITCHELL: Thank you.

SEN. KERRY: You know, I think Pat Buchanan is just dead wrong. He really needs to look at modern America, not the old America. Americans are just tired of that kind of politics. They want to come together around real solutions, which is why Barack Obama did so well in Indiana and North Carolina, because he stood up to gimmickry, he stood up to the old politics of let's throw something at people, like a gas-tax holiday, which everybody knew was a gimmick. He said no. He acted like a president should act. And that's why I think Pat Buchanan is wrong.

MS. MITCHELL: Well, I will pass that message on, John Kerry. Thank you very much, Senator.

SEN. KERRY: Thank you.

MS. MITCHELL: Thanks for joining us. We appreciate it.

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