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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Hillary Clinton to Suspend Presidential Campaign; Where Did Hillary Go Wrong?

Aired June 4, 2008 - 22:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: We begin with breaking news on a day of major political developments.
Senator Hillary Clinton will suspend her campaign on Saturday and on that same day will endorse Barack Obama. Now, this was widely expected last night, after she won South Dakota and he won Montana, and a flood of superdelegates went his way, putting him over the top. Instead, Senator Clinton told supporters she hadn't made any decisions and asked them to weigh in on her Web site. They did.

But, as CNN's Candy Crowley reports, Web feedback had little to do with her decision today. It was "Raw Politics" all the way.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): She will end it Saturday, folding the tent on her historic campaign, handing it over to another kind of history. She began the process this morning in a speech to Jewish-American leaders, where not just the words, but the verb tense, spoke to turning a page.

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It has been an honor to contest these primaries with him. It is an honor to call him my friend. And let me be very clear. I know that Senator Obama will be a good friend to Israel.

CROWLEY: Clinton is expected to suspend her campaign, rather than drop out. It means she will be entitled to keep the delegates she won. And that may be a clue to the biggest question of the week: What does Hillary want?

H. CLINTON: And I think, too, of all those...

AUDIENCE: Hillary! Hillary! Hillary!

H. CLINTON: ... all those wonderful women in their 90s who came out to see me, because they were born before women could vote. And they wanted to be part of making history.

CROWLEY: Part of what she wants, friends and advisers say, is to write the final graph of that history, perhaps keep those delegates until the convention, so they can vote for her, not to change the outcome, but for the history.

She should do it, said one high-profile Clinton supporter, for Chelsea and the rest of us. Few doubt Clinton would take the vice presidency if offered, and many of her longtime supporters are pushing for just that, but there's a difference between accepting and demanding it.

RENDELL: You don't bargain with the presidential nominee. Even if you're Hillary Clinton and you have 18 million votes, you don't bargain.

CROWLEY: In fact, she's more conflicted about the idea of being number two than stories might suggest. Inside the campaign, they are certain she would take it, if asked, but it is not on her list. And neither is money to help pay her campaign debt. What she wants, people who have talked to her say, is respect for the history for her, for her voters.

H. CLINTON: Thank you to the people across America for welcoming me and my family into your homes and your hearts.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CROWLEY: In the end, what they see in the Clinton camp is this Saturday speech as the beginning of a multiphase exit. And, by this, they mean that they don't believe that Hillary Clinton can get on the stage, say a lot of nice things about Barack Obama, and then leave.

They believe that her voters will want something more and that it will take some time to move them from being so very much for her into his camp -- Anderson.

COOPER: Candy, some late reaction to the news off camera from Senator Obama.

"Truth is," he said, "I haven't had time to think about it," we're told. "This weekend, I'm going home, talk it over with Michelle, and we're going on a date."

Well, joining me Candy and me, digging deeper, CNN senior political analyst David Gergen, Robert Zimmerman, a Clinton supporter and Democratic strategist, and Faye Wattleton, co-founded and president of the Center for the Advancement of Women.

Candy, let me start with you. Why can't this be done relatively quickly? Why does this have to be some long, drawn-out thing? Her critics will say, this makes it more about her than about Senator Obama.

CROWLEY: Well, look, from the Clinton campaign's point of view, here are 18 million people.

And, you know, as this campaign went on, as we started, it was all about, oh, I could vote for either one of them, this is so nice. And then the sides really began to harden. And now what she has is 18 million people, many of whom have -- are holding signs last night saying Hillary or nobody.

And her belief is, to get those people, she can't just say, hi, I'm out, which she will do, so it's done. But she needs to kind of work with those people and do something more in order to move them over.

COOPER: David Gergen, does this make sense to you? I mean, when a general election is over, and a Republican and Democrat have run against each other, and someone wins the presidency, someone else got about 50 million votes, but they don't say, you know what? I'm going to draw this out. I'm going to see if I am going to bring my voters to support the president of the United States.

They basically make a gracious speech and try to exit the stage.

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: That's true.

I think, as with all things with Hillary Clinton, and, indeed, with Bill Clinton, you can see them through more than one lens. There's a positive lens you can interpret it through, and you can interpret it through a negative lens.

Her friends, her supporters believe very strongly she needs psychological space to recover from this. She did -- she did have an historic campaign. She did bring in 18 million voters. And she deserves a chance. And she's doing it fairly promptly now. I mean, after all, it looked like last night this may take a long time. In fact, Saturday, she's now going to bow out.

So, from their point of view, it's just as Candy described it.

From those who are more suspicious -- and there are always there people who are suspicious of motives about the Clintons -- it can appear that she's getting ready to bargain, that she is actually pushing for the vice presidency.

Candy said she's conflicted about it. Well, Bob Johnson, who is the founder of the Black Entertainment Television, came out today and said he has been talking to her about this several times, and she's authorized to go ahead and push for and write to the Black Congressional Caucus -- he's African-American, of course -- and push for her appointment to the vice presidency. So...

COOPER: She's authorized him to push for it?

GERGEN: Yes. She's authorized him to go ahead and make an effort to do that.

COOPER: Right.

GERGEN: And he says she has an affirmative desire to be vice president. And, of course, other people around her are saying, that's not true; she's conflicted.

So, it lends itself to many different interpretations, one of which I think is very benign, very positive. And I think most Democrats would like to believe it.

COOPER: Robert Zimmerman, you're a supporter of Hillary Clinton. What is your take? What does Hillary Clinton want?

ROBERT ZIMMERMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: You know, I think, at the end of the day, what she really wants is to be able to produce, keep her coalition together, and deliver them to the Democratic nominee.

Now, I understand all the -- political strategists and political analysts get very caught up with the nuances and the dramatics of these moments. Then there are people with real lives. And they focus on the big-picture issues, in a sense. I think it's important to remember you're not going to produce 18 million voters to a nominee with a press release or a stage event or a sound bite.

These are people who made a heart-and-soul commitment, and, yes, many of whom will come across, many of whom will come on board. But there are many that are active, that want to have input. And she has -- I think it's very shrewd of the campaign to in fact let them express themselves. It's very shrewd of the campaign for her to reach out and include them, because, ultimately, Hillary Clinton is going to be judged, whether she runs for vice president or not, by how successfully she can help bring her coalition to the Democratic nominee.

COOPER: Faye, does it make sense to you that she keeps all her delegates all the way through the convention? I mean, Candy quoted some supporter of hers who said she should do it for Chelsea and for all of us.

Does that -- do you buy that?

FAYE WATTLETON, PRESIDENT, CENTER FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF WOMEN: I don't think it should happen.

I think we should keep in mind that this has been decided less than 24 hours ago. And we shouldn't be so willing to rush to judgment on this.

Mr. Obama has indicated that he's going to take a good, long time. He's appointed a committee to really scrutinize the potential for the person to run and to look at how he enhances the weaknesses that he brings to the table. So, I think that all of the emotion of the last 24 hours will dissipate in a while.

At the end of the day, the party has to come together, because the alternative is so drastically different from what the Democrats offer and what is embodied in Mr. McCain, that I think that they will put aside their differences.

CROWLEY: Let me just say that -- that the people around -- there's probably four people now who really know what's on Hillary Clinton's mind. And even they might wonder from time to time what she's actually thinking.

So, what you're hearing...

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

CROWLEY: Well, I think her husband is one of them. Her daughter is another one of them.

(CROSSTALK)

ZIMMERMAN: And probably her mom.

(LAUGHTER)

CROWLEY: Yes, exactly.

So, they are very close to her. And they understand what she's actually feeling.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: It's that small a group, though?

CROWLEY: It really is a very small -- there are some advisers in there. Maggie Williams is in there.

But, I mean, the fact of the matter is that what they want for her and what she wants can be very different things. You know, do we know that she is thinking, I'm going to keep my delegates; I want them to be able to vote for a woman, so that we can write in the history books that a woman got X amount of delegates at this convention?

No, we don't know that. What we know is that people around her want that for her and do have a very big sense, talking to her, that she is about the history of it.

(CROSSTALK)

WATTLETON: This has been a very long -- this has been a very, very long and tedious process.

And, so, I think that what happens at the convention and the way people are feeling today are likely to be very, very different than...

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Very different.

(CROSSTALK)

ZIMMERMAN: Candy's points are very interesting. Candy has made a very interesting point before. And that is, I don't believe, even in the Clinton campaign, there's a -- there's a consensus as to what she should do.

And I find many of hers friends who are her oldest supporters...

COOPER: But it's not as though this is a shock. They have had kind of a long time to get ready for this.

(CROSSTALK)

ZIMMERMAN: I don't agree.

COOPER: Really?

ZIMMERMAN: I think, in some respects, when reality sets in, it brings up a whole range of new options.

Now, many of her younger staffers want her to run for vice president. Many of the senior ones don't.

COOPER: David?

GERGEN: I don't -- I think this has been coming for a long time. She's been thinking about this a long time. Bob Johnson himself said he had been talking to her after -- since Indiana, he's been talking to her about the possibility, does she want to be a vice president or not?

And she's signaled, as she signaled in a phone call yesterday, yes, she might -- she would be willing to say yes. We know that, she said in a phone call yesterday.

But, look, again, it's subject to more than one interpretation. The other interpretation is, OK, she -- it's historic and she wants to keep it for Chelsea. I understand that. But other people would say, come on. Get real what. What she wants is to have a lot of people who support her...

ZIMMERMAN: Right.

GERGEN: ... because it increases her bargaining power.

And she cares deeply about some issues. And she may care about a particular role in the administration or in the future. So, if all those voters just leave her, and she's got no bargaining power, then, you know, she loses her leverage.

(CROSSTALK)

ZIMMERMAN: But, David, we all know -- and Hillary Clinton knows this better than anyone -- she has been around this process -- she knows bargaining days are now over. Barack Obama is the nominee...

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: You believe she thinks the bargaining days are over?

ZIMMERMAN: Because the reality is...

GERGEN: You don't believe that.

ZIMMERMAN: David, I will tell you why. Because they are not going to sit there and -- they're going to -- they're going to negotiate positions in the campaign. They are going to negotiate how their staff are treated.

But, at the end of the day, she's not bargaining over the vice presidency. It's naive. And Ed Rendell pointed that out. Nobody bargains with the nominee.

COOPER: He pointed out that you shouldn't do it. He didn't say that she didn't want to do it.

ZIMMERMAN: Realistically, you can't.

CROWLEY: Yes, but you could argue that, the more they bargain for it, the more they are seen as bargaining for it, the farther into that corner he is. It is just really difficult.

(CROSSTALK)

GERGEN: It's time for Barack Obama to take charge of some of this process. He's letting these stories be driven by people other than him.

He needs to have someone like Jim Johnson, who is tough, who is one of the three people who is now screening people, to put out the word: It is counterproductive to pressure us on the vice presidency. This is not how...

CROWLEY: Exactly.

(CROSSTALK)

GERGEN: It's time for him to take the lead.

COOPER: We are going to talk more about the vice presidency, who -- whether or not Hillary Clinton may be offered it, and, if not, who else might get the offer. We will have that coming up.

We also continue to follow this breaking news story, with Hillary Clinton admitting she wants -- will she admit she wants to be a vice president on Saturday? That's when she's apparently going to quit from the race. Today, as Faye Wattleton mentioned, Obama named his vice president search committee. We will tell you what famous member of the Kennedy clan is on that.

And we will look at who he might pick, if not Hillary Clinton.

Also, what to do about Bill Clinton? Is he a help or a hindrance in Hillary's chances of becoming vice president?

Later, new polling shows Obama gets a bump in a general election matchup against John McCain. We will look at how the race maps out state by state, issue by issue, and also how he won and how she lost. We have got all the key turning points -- that and more from our panel tonight on 360.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Senator Hillary Clinton has made history in this campaign.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: And you can rest assured that, when we finally win the battle for universal health care in this country -- and we will win that fight -- she will be central to that victory.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Kind words for Hillary Clinton, but will he make her his running mate? Will she publicly say she wants to be on Saturday?

Jimmy Carter says it would be a big mistake. Actually, his exact words were -- quote -- "the worst mistake that could be made." He told Britain's "Guardian" newspaper -- quote -- "If you take that 50 percent who just don't want to vote for Clinton and add it to whatever element there might be who don't think Obama is white enough or old enough or experienced enough or because he has got a middle name that sounds Arab, you could have the worst of both worlds."

Clearly, Mr. Carter has plenty to say, but no official role. Today, the Obama campaign unveiled a three-person team to help pick a running mate, former Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder, Washington insider Jim Johnson, who David Gergen mentioned earlier, who helped John Kerry pick Joe Lieberman, and first daughter Caroline Kennedy, whose early endorsement of Senator Obama, along with that of her uncle Ted, caused such a stir-up in the run-up to Super Tuesday.

CNN's Tom Foreman joins us now with some of the names almost certain to be on Senator Obama's short list for vice president -- Tom.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, this is the hottest game in town right now.

Let's take a look at some of the possibilities for an Obama running mate. And let's start off with Hillary Clinton. Her positives are easy. She had almost as much support as he did. She could bring in a lot of supporters if she got behind him and could drag many of those voters along, especially women over 30, whom he needs some help with.

She has experience in the executive office in matters of foreign policy, things like that, things he lacks. And taking her on would be a very powerful signal for the party to really unite and fire up for the fall.

But her negatives are also pretty easy to see. There's this sense that many of her supporters right now are almost demanding the vice presidency. And, if Obama would not want to appear weak, he can't just give in to them, and make it look like he's afraid of her influence. That would be a concern. He's also been all about change, and her presence could undermine that, more of a traditional Democrat. And that could give a sense that it's weakened his moderate support. And many Democrats have told me they frankly can't imagine Obama letting former President Bill Clinton have a key to the White House to scrutinize all of his policies.

So, who else could he turn to? Well, if he wants to bolster his experience on foreign affairs or military matters, he could look at any one of these folks here, Senator Evan Bayh out of Indiana, experience on the Armed Forces and Intelligence Committee -- that would matter. Retired General Wesley Clark, he's got some with credentials to carry with him.

Senator Jim Webb of Virginia, a decorated veteran, or maybe Sam Nunn, a former longtime Georgia senator, who would bring some deep experience and heft to Obama's side. All of these fellows would also help Obama with the white male vote, which, as we know, is a bit of an issue.

If Obama wants to improve his firepower in some pivotal states, he could go with someone like Governor Ted Strickland of Ohio, who could solidify his vote in that crucial region, or perhaps Governor Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania. Rendell supported Clinton, but that could work in Obama's favor by helping bring her supporters into the fold in a key state.

And, of course, if Obama is worried about the women's vote, Hillary Clinton is not the only choice. Kathleen Sebelius, governor of Kansas, might help out, smart, respected, from an old political family. And, of course, he's big friends with Oprah, too. So you never know -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right.

(LAUGHTER)

COOPER: A lot -- a lot to choose from.

Right before -- before I tossed to Tom, I said that Jim Johnson had helped John Kerry pick Joe Lieberman as a running made. Obviously not. It was John Edwards. Apologize for that.

Still to come tonight, as we follow this breaking news, what went wrong?

As always, I'm blogging tonight. To join the conversation, go to CNN.com/360.

We're talking about how Hillary Clinton lost the Democratic race for the White House. We have got an up-close look with some Washington insiders.

Next, though, a major ruling on same-sex marriage in California. Can the weddings start? We will tell you what the state supreme court decided today. And smash and grab -- a jewelry heist caught on tape. See the rest of this -- when 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Up close tonight: What went wrong in Hillary Clinton's campaign?

That's coming up, but, first, some of tonight's other headlines.

Erica Hill joins us with a 360 bulletin -- Erica.

ERICA HILL, HEADLINE NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, California's Supreme Court is standing by its decision to legalize same-sex marriage, refusing today to put its ruling on hold until voters have a chance to weigh in on the issue in November. And that clears the way for same-sex couples to get married in California starting June 17.

Released with conditions -- a Texas judge ruling today a 16-year- old girl removed from a Texas FLDS compound can in fact be reunited with her guardian, but she must be kept away from the polygamist ranch, and she cannot have any contact with her alleged sexual abuser, nor with sect leader Warren Jeffs, who is of course behind bars.

Just north of Atlanta, a brazen jewelry heist caught on tape. Look at this video. Four armed and masked men, as can you see here, they stormed this store in a mall, smashed the display cases with their fists and their weapons, took the goods. At one point, the owner of the store was grabbed by the neck, a gun pointed at his face.

Tonight, all four are still on the run. And police have said, Anderson, they are glad nobody actually confronted these suspects...

COOPER: Yes.

HILL: ... because they are worried about what may have happened.

COOPER: Yes, they seemed out of control.

All right, Erica, here's tonight's beat 360 photo: "Senator Obama getting a thumbs-up from his wife Michelle last night in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

Now, here's the caption from our staff winner, Leah, who she says: "I have got your back, Boo."

HILL: Oh, no, not the boo.

COOPER: Oh, yes.

(CROSSTALK)

HILL: ... a softer, kinder, gentler boo.

COOPER: Yes.

HILL: The word makes a return.

And, Anderson, I'm sure you -- you remember your conversation from last night.

COOPER: Oh, yes, I do.

HILL: Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONNA BRAZILE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Anderson, you're not my boo.

(LAUGHTER)

COOPER: I want to be your boo.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRAZILE: Get in line. A lot of people want to be Donna Brazile's boo right now.

A lot of people also wondering what it means.

According to "The Wall Street Journal," there was a spike in Google searches under these phrases, "boo slang," "Anderson Cooper boo," "What does boo mean?" and, "You're not my boo."

(LAUGHTER)

HILL: Of course, for those not schooled in the hipper terms of affection these days...

COOPER: Yes.

HILL: ... it basically means, you're my snookums.

COOPER: Snookums.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Wow. You're very street. Keeping it real there, Erica Hill. Snookums.

HILL: Well, that's how I roll, yes.

COOPER: Yes.

Think you can come up with a better caption, go to CNN.come/360. Send us your entry. We will announce the winner at end of the program tonight. So, a quick program note -- tomorrow and Friday, we're going to take an in-depth look on your brain on politics. CNN's Randi Kaye investigating the hidden forces that actually shape our votes.

Here's a preview.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In 2008, raw emotion sells, not 10-point policy plans. Hillary Clinton may have learned that the hard way.

Republicans tapped into this decades ago. Democrats are first catching on.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have got to be able to inspire people.

KAYE: Emory University psychologist Drew Westen, author of "The Political Brain," study how voters react to candidates' words and messages. He says, voters go with their gut. They want policy, but emotion win votes.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Randi's two-part "Your Brain on Politics" report starts tomorrow night on 360.

So, next on the program, our breaking news story: Hillary Clinton suspending her campaign, announcing it this Saturday, apparently planning on endorsing Barack Obama -- in a moment, more details. And we will look at how the former Democratic front-runner lost the nomination.

And what about Bill? Some say he was a liability on the trail. Will he help or hurt the chances of a so-called dream ticket? A "Strategy Session" report -- coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

H. CLINTON: I understand that a lot of people are asking, "What does Hillary want? What does she want?"

I want the nearly 18 million Americans who voted for me to be respected, to be heard, and no longer to be invisible.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Defiant, definitely not a concession speech from Hillary Clinton last night.

But, 24 hours later, it's a much different story. More of tonight's breaking news: her campaign saying that Clinton will officially suspend her White House bid on Saturday and endorse Barack Obama. It's a remarkable turn of events. A year ago, after all, she was thought of as a shoo-in for the nomination.

Here's a quick look at what went wrong up close.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GERGEN: I think her campaign was one of extraordinary misjudgments early on, a roaring comeback toward the end that fell too -- too short, too late.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Hillary Clinton started out as a candidate who didn't really have a clear message.

H. CLINTON: What is important is what each of us has actually done. I offer, yes, years of experience.

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It went from experience. All of a sudden, it then went to change. And then it went to this whole populism. And it was like, so, OK, well, who are we dealing with here?

GERGEN: For all of her great strengths -- and she has many -- she and her team created almost a sense that they were coasting toward a coronation.

BORGER: To run as essentially the incumbent, which is what she ran as, the inevitable candidate, to run as the incumbent in a year of change was probably not a terrific idea.

GERGEN: People respect Hillary Clinton. There's never been any question about that. And they wanted to see her succeed. They just didn't want to see her coronated. And she, I think, did not understand how much people were hurting and how much they were looking for change.

OBAMA: We will change the country, and we will change the world.

MARTIN: I think she misjudged the person she was running against, yes, underestimated how he was connecting with people on a completely different level.

GERGEN: We all knew, in Iowa, that something was happening. There was a sense of, whoa, where did he come from? How did he pull this off?

OBAMA: They said this day would never come.

GERGEN: You suddenly realize, we're in a fight. She's in a fight.

She ran a very old-fashioned organization.

MARTIN: They misjudged the 21st century. This guy was killing them on the Internet. While she was out running around, trying to get endorsements, he was talking to his Web people. They organized people through the Internet, through those -- through that social networking, through the message boards. They created the buzz. They created the hype. All of a sudden, that just began to take off.

GERGEN: She kept on saying, "I'm going to be ready to govern on day one." When it came to campaigning, he was the one who was ready.

BORGER: He had a better campaign. He had a message that remained constant throughout the campaign. Hillary was changing her messages. They would say fine-tuning. She was changing her messages. He remained constant. He had a strategy that went up until the very end.

GERGEN: If you had said six months ago, eight months ago, she wasn't going to be the nominee, I would have been -- I would have been extremely surprised. In fact, I thought she was going to be the next president.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: A look at what went wrong.

Just ahead, does Bill Clinton help or hurt his wife's chances of being Barack Obama's running mate? What would Bill Clinton do if his wife was vice president? Would he be offered a Cabinet role? Some have talked about that. It's a tricky issue. We're digging deeper with our panel tonight.

Plus, John McCain challenging Barack Obama to share the stage at 10 town hall meetings. But is there more to it than that? Find out in tonight's "Strategy Session" -- next on 360.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. ED RENDELL (D), PENNSYLVANIA: Senator Obama, it would have to be an enormously big person to have the Clintons as part of his team, you know. Normally, politicians don't want to be outshone. Well, you know, you've got Bill Clinton lurking in the background, but Hillary Clinton, a very charismatic figure for many Americans.

Generally, politicians don't like to put someone like that on the ticket. You know, rule one for the vice president is make sure you never upstage the president.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell was politely saying, we think, is some people don't play well with others if they can't be it.

When Bill Clinton was elected president in 1992, he told voters they would get two for the price of one. But the Clintons have always come as a package deal. But could that actually be a deal-breaker for Barack Obama? We're digging deeper on Bill Clinton and his possible rule as a help or hindrance to an Obama presidency.

Joining us again, CNN senior political analyst, David Gergen, Clinton supporter and CNN contributor Robert Zimmerman. Also with us tonight, Republican strategist Ed Rollins, who was Mike Huckabee's campaign chairman.

If Hillary Clinton were chosen as vice president, what would Bill Clinton do? And what role would he have?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, that's -- I think everybody agrees they would have to define it beforehand. Ed Rendell was saying, you know, there's got to be a deal that Hillary will be the vice president and not Bill Clinton.

COOPER: They said the Obama campaign would have to control Bill Clinton.

GERGEN: Absolutely, and it's going to be tricky enough to negotiate with Hillary.

Ed and I both were there in 1980 when Ronald Reagan was negotiating with former president, Jimmy Carter -- former president, Gerry Ford, about putting Ford on the ticket. Henry Kissinger was negotiating on behalf of Kissinger -- on behalf of Ford. He almost took Reagan's pants off in that negotiation, and finally the Reagan people said, "This is not -- we're not doing this. It's too complex."

ED ROLLINS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: HUD and labor.

ROBERT ZIMMERMAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It might have been a Freudian slip, David. Maybe Kissinger was there negotiating for Kissinger, too.

COOPER: What do you think Bill Clinton's role should be? Obviously, he's got all the murky investments. He's done a lot of good with his Clinton Global Initiative. Would he continue to do all that?

ZIMMERMAN: Well, let's accept the following premise for this conversation. Bill Clinton is not walking off the stage. He's not going away. He's an international -- one of the most celebrated Americans internationally, despite the hits he took in this campaign and some missteps he is a former president who draws enormous crowds and did contribute successfully to Hillary's victories in Ohio and in Pennsylvania and did well there. He could be a very important asset.

The challenge for the Obama campaign is to see if they're secure enough and strong enough as an organization -- and I believe they are -- where they can, in fact, find a way to incorporate and use Bill Clinton's strengths, because he's going to be a factor and how you work with him is going to be the issue, not whether you work with him.

COOPER: Ed, do you think -- how do you see it? ROLLINS: I would argue, if you could not basically put handcuffs and put them around the desk in the Little Rock library and not let him travel anywhere there's electoral votes for the next four years, I wouldn't let him anywhere near anything.

COOPER: Really?

ROLLINS: And I think I would ban both him and Jimmy Carter. I think both of them will help our cause and not their cause.

COOPER: Why, because it makes Barack Obama look weak or they're just loose cannons?

ROLLINS: I think Bill Clinton takes the oxygen out of the air wherever he is, and he's a person who -- who tried to help his wife and obviously got in the way of his wife. And I think to a certain extent he's one of the most gifted politicians ever and a great strategist, but he couldn't follow his own counsel. And I think the campaign was hurt badly by his participation.

COOPER: Do you think he hurt the campaign?

GERGEN: I don't. I believe that she would not have gotten as far as she did had she not been married to him and been the former first lady of what many Democrats thought was a successful presidency.

I do think that he made some mistakes along the way that cost her some, but I think overall he was a plus for her. But to go to Ed's point, listen, I think he would be an enormous asset in the campaign. He would throw himself in. I think he would help a lot, and I think he helped Hillary in a lot of the campaigning he did.

I think the real issue is the governing issue. In an administration you need very much to have discipline and make clear who's in charge. Bill Clinton himself found that when he sent Jimmy Carter -- asked Jimmy Carter, his former president, to go somewhere he would often get frustrated as president, because it looked sometimes as if Jimmy Carter was acting as if he were still the president. And it caused heartburn back on the Clinton staff.

That's the kind of issue you get into with former presidents. And if the former president is married to your vice president it's complex. And if the former president is as ebullient and sometimes as, you know, let us say innovative or independent-minded. I think that's one way of putting it.

COOPER: Quickly, do you think Hillary Clinton will be the vice president, at least on the ticket?

GERGEN: I think there is a rising possibility of it.

COOPER: Robert?

ZIMMERMAN: I think she's the strongest choice for Barack Obama, but I'm not sure that she's going to get there. And I'm not sure she's totally committed to wanting to be there. COOPER: Ed, do you think he'll...?

ROLLINS: I don't think so any more. I think she would certainly help the ticket but I don't think she'll be the choice anymore.

COOPER: Do you think she would help the ticket?

ROLLINS: She would help the ticket.

COOPER: Interesting.

All right. David Gergen has joined the blog tonight. At least, he's trying to. We're shuttling him around. You can join the conversation at CNN.com/360. I haven't had too much time to blog tonight, but I will.

Up next, if the election were tomorrow, who would you vote for? We've got the results of a new poll and a look inside the fight between senators McCain and Obama.

Also tonight, a controversial businessman who donated thousands of dollars to Obama's campaign is now a convicted felon. Details in the 360 bulletin, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is indeed a change election, but the choice is between the right change and the wrong change, between going forward and going backward.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: That was Senator John McCain last night making his case to the American people. Senator McCain and Barack Obama both want to be president, of course, but frankly, that's about all they have in common.

Today McCain sent Senator Obama a letter suggesting that the two appear together at ten town-hall meetings beginning next week. Obama's camp called the idea appealing. McCain considers the challenge a way to stop the spin and to treat one another with respect. However, McCain's campaign is struggling to raise money, and some may see it as free publicity for him.

Right now he may need it. This is a new CBS News poll out tonight, putting Obama six points ahead of McCain among registered voters.

Two candidates, two very different battle plans. CNN's Joe Johns reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The art of war. For John McCain, rule one: choose the field of battle wisely. He can be stiff, even awkward in front of a teleprompter as he was Tuesday, but in Wednesday's town hall, a more intimate setting, he's loose and relaxed. And that's the field of battle where he wants to meet Barack Obama.

MCCAIN: The essence of democracy in America in many respects is the town hall meeting.

JOHNS: Rule two: defend your territory until you can advance. McCain has been working hard in states where he's already doing pretty well, like here in Louisiana. He's likely to camp out later this year along the Appalachian Trail: West Virginia, Kentucky, southern Ohio.

Rule three: focus on the opposition's weak points. The McCain campaign thinks Obama's biggest vulnerabilities are his inexperience and youth.

MCCAIN: I have a few years on my opponent, so I'm surprised about the young man has bought into so many failed ideas.

JOHNS: Failed ideas, he says on Iraq, taxes and trade, to name a few, which would add up to what McCain would argue is the wrong kind of change.

And Obama? His preferred battlefield is the large meeting hall with a huge crowd, part revival, part political rally, televised during primetime. This is where he gets his power. He'll need to defend states with upper-scale, better educated voters and those with large African-American populations. Remember those big wins in South Carolina and Mississippi.

With those secured, he'll be free to advance to states with lower income white voters and Hispanics.

Message: focusing on the opposition's weak points. The Obama campaign sees Republican President Bush as one of Republican John McCain's biggest weaknesses, and that's why you hear Obama return again and again to linking McCain to the president.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's not change when John McCain decided to stand with George Bush 95 percent of the time, as he did in the Senate last year.

JOHNS: Which brings us to the most famous rule of all: know your enemy. And with the field of fire finally clear, these two candidates will start getting to know each other very well.

Joe Johns, CNN, Baton Rouge.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Joining us again, this time for a strategy session on the battle between Senator McCain and Obama, CNN political analyst David Gergen, Republican strategist and CNN contributor Ed Rollins and Faye Wattleton, co-founder and president of the Center for the Advancement of Women. Faye, what do you think about this idea of these sort of Lincoln- Douglas-style debates, town hall meetings, kind of throwing out the press and just talking to people one-on-one?

FAYE WATTLETON, CO-FOUNDER/PRESIDENT, CENTER FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF WOMEN: Well, I think that that would be an excellent strategy for Mr. Obama. I think that reaching out and particularly talking to women, because that is the constituency that he really needs to win over if he is really to make inroads into the constituency that Mrs. Clinton was able to attract.

COOPER: It would be original and sort of terribly exciting just to see, kind of stripping all the hype and the media away. I mean, I hate to say this, as I guess, a member of the media but it would -- I mean, would you want to watch it?

ROLLINS: One, but not ten. Ten is a bit much. Not ten.

COOPER: Oh, come on. You like the politics.

ROLLINS: I'm not sure I would have liked the six-hour Lincoln/Douglas debates.

I do think, though, as someone who has run campaigns I would want to control my own campaign. I would not basically want to get tied into ten debates or ten whatever. I'd want to go where I needed to go and do what I wanted to do. And I think for the novelty of something like this, Barack Obama has certain strengths. John McCain may have certain strengths. And they both need to play to their own strengths and not try to make this into a duel.

COOPER: Do you think this plays to both their strengths?

GERGEN: I think it could. Yes, absolutely. I don't think this ought to be done at the expense of debates. There are three major debates scheduled, and they ought to go forward as scheduled. I do think it's important for the candidates to face tough questions from the press and not just citizen questions. They complement each other.

But I also think some town halls, not very money, would be a good idea, starting in the fall, not this summer.

But I just want to say one other thing about this. Barack Obama ought to be concerned. His people ought to be concerned. We spent the first few minutes tonight talking about Hillary Clinton how he should respond to Hillary Clinton. Now we're talking about something John McCain has put forward. He's -- and John McCain is shaping the debate about what the presidential election...

COOPER: And has been shaping the debate for quite some time.

GERGEN: Yes, exactly, and when you're the candidate, as Barack Obama has become, you've got to start -- you've got to take the initiative. You've got to have other people responding to you if you want to come off as a strong leader and impress people that you're really taking charge. You cannot be in a situation where you're often responding to what others are doing and then you're trying to figure out.

COOPER: And he was doing that on the trip to Iraq, whether or not he should go to Iraq, on a lot of things.

ROLLINS: Barack had a great February. He won 11 straight states. And that stretch was the margin of victory, the 123 delegates he got there. I think ever since the Pennsylvania debate he's been back on his heels, and I think she's had a far more aggressive and a better campaign. And now you're going to see head to head with McCain.

And McCain is touch. McCain is a tough infighter, and I think it's going to be a different -- and the expectations are low.

COOPER: We'll also tell you what got lost a lot in last night's coverage, is he got beat soundly in South Dakota on a day when everybody who was voting there knew or must have known that it was over for the candidate that they were voting for, for Hillary Clinton, and yet, they voted for her anyway.

WATTLETON: Look who was voting for Mrs. Clinton. I think it was, again, the demographic that she had attracted later in the campaign. I don't think we should overlook the strength of Mr. Obama's campaign as he went along. He got to be a stronger candidate because he also had a formidable opponent.

COOPER: We're in disagreement on that, but we're going to talk about that when we come back. On the table, how also race and age may shape the presidential race, which may matter most.

Plus, from political fund-raiser to convicted felon, the Chicago businessman who helped bank roll Barack Obama's campaign had his day in court, next on 360.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE: I think that what we're seeing is an extraordinary expression of the fact that "we, the people" is beginning to mean all of us. And I congratulate both Senator Obama and Senator McCain on their respective campaigns and Senator Clinton on hers, as well.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: High praise for all three candidates from Condoleezza Rice. The secretary of state has been named as a possible running mate for John McCain. She has said she has no interest in it.

From the VP stakes the showdown between Obama and McCain, a lot to talk about. Let's get back to our strategy session. CNN senior political analyst David Gergen, also a blogger; Republican strategist and CNN contributor Ed Rollins, not a blogger, resisting the blog; and Faye Wattleton, co-founder and president of the Center for the Advancement of Women.

Faye right before the break said that she thought Barack Obama got better as a candidate over the course of this campaign. You guys both disagree. David, why? Or Ed, why?

WATTLETON: Well, he said we had a negotiation during the break.

ROLLINS: You know, my sense is he's -- he wasn't tested. She got -- she was tested, got tougher. She didn't have a good strategy, but she was a much better candidate in the end. And I think her strategy is what did her in.

I think he had a tremendous opportunity with great momentum and what have you, but I think he lost his stride.

COOPER: So for both these candidates, what do they have to do now? For Barack Obama it's, what, about defining himself or reintroducing himself?

GERGEN: I think -- I think that the campaign on the Democratic side, he won the first half, she won the second half. He still piled up more points. And he had a big night last night, so he's off and running.

But now what I think he needs to do is to recognize he needs to notch this campaign up a couple of levels to run a national campaign. My sense is he needs to get some rest. He's very tired, and you can see it. He wants to go back and spend a weekend with Michelle. I think that's great.

He generally needs to get some rest, not take McCain's bait to go into town hall meetings this summer. But instead to step back a little bit and figure out what a Barack Obama presidency would really look like and define what his presidency is going to be like and who he's going to be. And then give some very serious speeches on national issues, which -- which really get into some depth about what he would do as president. He has not yet really done that in a way the country has been paying to.

John McCain has well -- has used his time well in the last few weeks to start laying out an agenda for what a McCain presidency would look like. Barack Obama needs to do that. He needs to use the summer to put the building blocks in place and be rested for a very vigorous fall.

COOPER: Ed, besides not appearing in front of any green backdrops, what does John McCain need to do?

ROLLINS: Well, I think John basically needs to tighten his message up. Still not an overarching message yet. I think that's very important.

I think the critical thing is here the contrast. I've had the experience. I've been in the Oval Office. I've watched the tough decisions. We're in a war. The economy is a mess. I'm tested. He's not tested. And he's a great speaker. He's a nice young man and I'll keep -- kind of that pat on the head.

Because in the end it's not going to be about issues as much as it's going to be about who do you trust and who do you think can make the right decisions?

COOPER: Faye?

WATTLETON: I think that I would agree with David. He's got -- he must define his presidency and how his presidency will make a difference. I that's particularly...

COOPER: Barack Obama?

WATTLETON: Mr. Obama, right. I think that's particularly true for women. We haven't heard him speak very much about the issues women really care about. And that's a very important constituency, if we're speaking about Hillary Clinton's constituency, particularly among older women and affluent women.

COOPER: According to the A.P., exit polls show one in seven white Democrats said that race was important to them in choosing their candidate, and of those two-thirds of them voted for Hillary Clinton. How does Barack Obama move forward in that -- if that is the reality?

WATTLETON: I think that is the reality, and his pronouncement that it's a post-racial society was not realistic. And he certainly learned during the primaries the folly or the pitfalls of not acknowledging that the divisions around race in this country are still very much with us.

I think we have taken a major step forward by his nomination, but this is a long evolutionary process. And we shouldn't be unrealistic about the hard work that is ahead.

And he must define his presidency in a way that continues to say that we will bring all people in. We are different. We are not all the same, but we all live within the same country and that's what's important.

ROLLINS: It's also very critical who his spokespeople become. If there's anger in this debate, in which his spokesperson aren't calm and cool like Faye is and don't reassure, but it's a bunch of people getting up there who are very angry, as Wright was and others, then I think you're going to continue to drive those people away.

COOPER: But it's interesting. Are they being held to a different standard because, I mean, if you're African-American you can't show anger? If you're white, there doesn't seems to be -- well, a white guy. It's OK. You get a cable news show.

ROLLINS: Anger never works well in a campaign. If John McCain loses it in a campaign, if George Bush loses it in a campaign, there's an effect.

WATTLETON: And look at what happened to Mr. Dean.

COOPER: We've got to go.

GERGEN: He's going to be held to a higher standard.

COOPER: All right. Fascinating discussion. Appreciate all of you being here. Thank you.

Let's get caught up on some other headlines. Erica Hill joins us with the "360 News & Business Bulletin" -- Erica.

ERICA HILL, HEADLINE NEWS ANCHOR: Anderson, a federal jury today convicted Chicago real estate developer Tony Rezko of extortion, money laundering and fraud for demanding kickbacks.

Rezko's ties to Senator Barack Obama, including campaign contributions, have sparked controversy. Senator Obama was not implicated in the kickback case and has donated Rezko's campaign contributions to charity.

Oil prices falling again today, down to $120 a barrel. That's nearly $13 below last month's record levels. But interestingly, at the same time, retail gas prices surged above $3.98 a gallon, setting another record high.

And proof that this mortgage crisis could, in fact, be touching everyone. Ed McMahon, Johnny Carson's sidekick on "The Tonight Show," is apparently feeling the mortgage crisis firsthand. According to "The Wall Street Journal," he is now $644,000 behind on his $4.8 million home loan. And a spokesman told CNN that McMahon is in discussions with his lender, Anderson.

COOPER: He's actually going to be on Larry King tomorrow with his wife, I believe. So that should be interesting.

Erica, time for our "Beat 360" showdown, our viewers versus our staff. A daily contest, putting words to the pictures we post in our blog every day.

Here's tonight's picture. Senator Barack Obama getting a thumbs up from his wife, Michelle, in St. Paul, Minnesota, after earning enough delegates to clinch the nomination.

Tonight's staff winner is Leah. Her caption: "I've got your back, Boo!!!"

Tonight's -- tonight's viewer winner is Lana in Toronto. Here's her caption: "Senator Obama gets a staunch warning against waking Michelle during the 3 a.m. phone calls he'll soon be getting."

As always, check out the other captions we receive. Go to our blog at CNN.com/360. I think Leah won this one.

Just ahead, caught on camera. Reporter's live shot takes an unexpected turn. Will she be pressing charges? Bizarre, that's what we want to know. Yes.

Plus, the breaking story we're following. I don't know where that came from. The breaking story we're following. We now know when Hillary Clinton will officially concede the race and endorse Barack Obama. What finally made her change her mind when 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COOPER: Welcome to a local reporter's nightmare. Any reporter's nightmare.

HILL: I believe this is a national anchor's nightmare.

COOPER: She's doing a live shot.

HILL: I need you to stop right there. I've got a better shot for you. Let's take you back, if we could, to May 15, perhaps.

COOPER: I have no idea what's going on.

HILL: Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: It's one of those new fangled toys the kids play with, the Y-E? What are those things?

HILL: The Wii?

COOPER: The Wii. Exactly.

HILL: It does have two "I's." It ends with -- W-I-I.

Hey...

COOPER: I don't know from the video games.

HILL: How about a Nintendo 64?

COOPER: And the kids all love the Wii, the "Y."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HILL: Yes, it's the Wii, and we, being our bosses, Jon Klein and David Doss, thought that maybe you should get a little something for your birthday which, of course, was yesterday. We couldn't do it on the show. You have to open it up quickly, because we're very short on time.

COOPER: It is? Is it a Wii or a "Y"?

HILL: It's Wii. And better yet, Anderson Cooper...

COOPER: Oh, no.

HILL: Oh, yes, come on. Look, we even set it up for you in the studio. You want to test out your Wii?

COOPER: Well, I don't know what one would do with that thing.

HILL: Why, all you have to do is step. Look.

COOPER: I'm so not going to step on this thing and do this, no.

HILL: No, you can do it.

COOPER: No, I know I can't. I won't.

HILL: I'll do it, too. And I need a pedicure. Come on.

Follow.

COOPER: I don't understand what is happening.

HILL: You just follow the instructions, because it's yours. You can do it at home.

COOPER: Why would you want to do this?

HILL: Why wouldn't you want to do this?

COOPER: I don't understand. What do you do?

HILL: Because it keeps you in shape. You can do yoga. There even hula hoop moves. There you go, Anderson.

COOPER: What am I doing? I don't understand.

HILL: It's a workout.

COOPER: This is a workout.

HILL: Yes. You're going to go home and figure it out, and next year on your birthday you'll tell us everything you learned. Happy birthday.

COOPER: Thank you, Erica. Yes.

HILL: We'll right back with more.

COOPER: I don't know about that.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)