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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Obama/Clinton Joint Fundraiser; John McCain's New Strategy and Message; Zimbabwe: A Country in Crisis

Aired June 26, 2008 - 23:00   ET

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


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: We are following the "Breaking News;" the high stakes, big-money meeting between Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and her money people. You will not get more inside information on any other news program right now.
Take a look at these exclusive cell phone photographs -- we're the only ones who have them -- taken from inside the room at Washington's Mayflower Hotel during the meeting.

We're also expecting audio of the meeting any moment. We'll bring that to you live as well.

You see Terry McAuliffe there on the left, now Hillary Clinton there talking, Barack Obama on the right listening.

Terry McAuliffe introduced Hillary Clinton; Hillary Clinton then introduced Barack Obama.

On stage together for the first time since she dropped out of the race. Tomorrow, they have a joint public debut at a rally in Unity, New Hampshire. But this private meeting tonight may be even more important.

After all, this was a room full of hard core Clintonites, people who write the checks and make the phone calls. So did Barack Obama convince them he can win? Did he soothe their anger?

In a moment, you'll hear from one of them, Clinton supporter Bill White who was in the meeting.

But first, CNN's Candy Crowley on what was said, along with Shailagh Murray of the "Washington Post" who was also inside the room.

Candy, first, the importance of this meeting?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the importance of this meeting is that money really runs campaigns. Barack Obama's opted out of public financing. He needs to rack that up. Hillary Clinton has some formidable fund-raisers. By and large, they are signed up. They will go with Obama.

There are some hold-outs who didn't show up for the meeting tonight. I talked to a couple of people who came away saying, well, I'm a little under-whelmed. They're nonetheless onboard and others who came on and said, "You know what, it's a good meeting. I'm onboard, let's do it."

I wanted to play you a couple of things because we do have an audio of what went on in this meeting. And what sort of struck me as I looked at this audio was how both of them kind of came around to the same point, and that is that despite what happened, there is a larger picture here.

Here's a little bit of Hillary Clinton as she was introducing Obama.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON, (D) NEW YORK: This was a hard-fought campaign. That's what made it so exciting and intense and why we both passionately ran so hard on both sides. You know, I know my supporters have extremely strong feelings, and I know Barack's do as well.

But we are a family. And we have an opportunity now to really demonstrate clearly we do know what's at stake and we will do whatever it takes to try to win back this White House.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: There was in fact sort of similar sentences from Barack Obama, who talked about, first of all, his grandmother and what she had to say about Hillary Clinton. Also talked about his daughters and how much fun it was that they didn't think it was like such a big deal that a woman and an African-American were running.

But what he got down is basically the same theme as Hillary Clinton and that is we understand this was hard fought but let's look at the long-range picture. Here's a little bit of Obama.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I am a better candidate as a consequence of having run against Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. And I cannot think of a more important task than the two of us and all of us working to continue the battle that she's been fighting.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: Ran into Terry McAuliffe here who as you saw was in that room and introduced Hillary Clinton.

He had in his pocket a check for $2,300 from the Obama finance chairman. And there was another check from Barack Obama for $2,300. That's as much as either one of them can give to Hillary Clinton. It's very symbolic.

Some of the Clinton people were complaining that Obama hadn't even himself sort of reached out to try to help her pay this debt. There's still feeling in the Clinton campaign among those who are closest to her that he needs to sort of say, listen, here's how much I can raise for her. Let's move forward with this. And they say he hasn't done that.

But nonetheless, I got a good sense from people coming out that they in fact were feeling pretty positive about this meeting. And let's face it fund-raisers are fund-raisers because it's the closeness to power. And if there's going to be power it will be with Barack Obama certainly in terms of the White House.

So most of them will move over. And I know you have a reporter that was actually in the room who could probably give you a little more of the atmospherics that were there.

COOPER: Yes.

Shailagh, as we look at these pictures and what was the mood like between the two candidates? What was the crowd like?

SHAILAGH MURRAY, THE WASHINGTON POST: You know, it was pretty striking, because in some ways it was like any other fund-raiser, an enthusiastic crowd. Both candidates were well received. In some ways you didn't know one from the other by the way the crowd responded to each of them.

And it was striking too because a year ago, most people on that room thought they were with the winner of this Democratic primary. And so you could feel sort of an undercurrent of wistfulness and shock and it was all sort of milling around in the atmosphere. And it made it a pretty potent scene for what otherwise was a pretty typical gathering of very wealthy people, out to back the, you know, political candidate of their choice.

COOPER: I heard they were late to the meeting and that there was some grumbling from some of the people who were there saying, we have checks ready and where are they, that kind of thing?

MURRAY: Well, I suppose there -- that was not the feeling that you had in the room. Senator Obama, in some ways, was lower key in his comments. He even said at one point that he accepted the fact and expected that these folks were not necessarily going to fall in love with him.

He understood the strong connection that they had with Senator Clinton just as his supporters had a strong connection with him. So he was sort of the soft-seller and Senator Clinton, in some ways, was more enthusiastic and optimistic about this election and really encouraging her supporters to throw their weight behind this candidate.

At one point, Terry McAuliffe in his introduction noted that these folks had raised $230 million for this candidate. And so that's a lot of fund-raising muscle. And Senator Obama needs that now that he's not going the public financing route.

COOPER: Shailagh Murray, we appreciate your perspective; Candy Crowley as well. We're going to talk at that more throughout this evening, a lot to cover.

As we've mentioned we've got early reaction from one long-time Clinton supporter at the Mayflower tonight.

We're also are going to hear more from Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, more of the audio from this meeting throughout the hour tonight.

When I spoke with a long-time Clinton supporter, Bill White by phone just a short time ago. He was in the meeting. Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: So Bill, you're a big Hillary Clinton supporter. How did the meeting go?

BILL WHITE, HILLARY CLINTON SUPPORTER: Well, I think overall the meeting went well, Anderson. I think it was very big of Barack Obama to come into that room and see all of Hillary's supporters. He gave a very eloquent speech about bringing people together.

I love Hillary Clinton. She is a true hero to me. And I think she did a beautiful job tonight trying to bring the two parties together.

COOPER: What was their body language like on the stage together? This is really the first time we've seen them together.

WHITE: Well, I tell you, they looked pretty much at ease. I think they had just come from a meeting. I think there was a little more tension in the room than more so on the stage, I have to say.

A lot of her supporters were anxious to hear what the senator was going to say to them and to see how Barack Obama was going to treat Hillary on the stage. And he was very respectful and appropriately so.

COOPER: Were there any details that stood out of things he said or things she said?

WHITE: I think the most important thing for me as a Hillary supporter right now is that Hillary Clinton needs to concentrate on helping get Barack Obama elected president. And she has this debt she wants to pay off; these vendors which is very important to her. And to be able to concentrate on helping Barack and pay off the debt just don't go together.

So he announced tonight that he wrote his own personal contribution to hillaryclinton.com campaign for president. I thought it was a huge step tonight and something that I hope that he will continue to encourage his supporters to do because we can't write those checks to help Hillary pay-off her debt.

We have to ask America to do that and he's leading the way. And I hope that will continue. I hope it's just not something that he did tonight, but I do admire him for writing his own personal check and announcing that.

COOPER: So he actually came in and said he had written a check to Hillary Clinton? WHITE: Yes, he did. And he got a round of applause and a lot of hoo- has and a lot of support there.

COOPER: Did he say how much he had written the check for?

WHITE: He didn't. I actually was going to yell that out but I thought that would have been too New York to do that. But I would be anxious to know from you what that amount was.

COOPER: Do you think -- I mean overall that he did everything he needed to do?

WHITE: I think he did. He actually was ready to run off the stage a little bit quick because they had a senate vote instead of taking questions. I think it was a very smart of him to remain on the stage and take some questions from people who really do have a lot of questions. And I hope over the next couple of months he'll be answering more of those questions.

I think that's the key thing. People have a lot of questions, they want to feel good about this and they don't want it ram-rodded down their throat. I think he's made a step tonight in trying to fix that with people who love Hillary.

COOPER: Bill White, appreciate your time. Bill thanks.

WHITE: Thanks Anderson.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: We're going to later reveal if the check was maxed out, as he said, for $2,300.

As always, I'm going to be blogging throughout this hour. You can join the conversation. Go to our new Website, ac360.com.

Coming up, more of what Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton said tonight inside that private meeting in their own words, coverage you'll only see here.

Also our "Strategy Session" on the Obama outreach - a new insight on where the race may be headed. Our panel weighs in.

And later, inside information. We've got a look at a John McCain campaign memo that spells out how he plans to beat Obama.

The "Raw Politics" coming up.

Plus, a new twist in the high school pregnancy pact story, the principal speaking out again. And it seems to contradict what the mayor of Gloucester said really happened.

That and more -- tonight on "360."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COOPER: Nod there from Barack Obama, the crucial closed-door meeting tonight, the exclusive "360" pictures and the audio, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton talking to her die-hard supporters and donors. Senator Obama, now one of those donors, he wrote a check for the maximum amount, $2,300, to help pay-off her campaign debt.

Here's some more of what he said behind closed doors tonight, to Clinton supporters.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: I want to talk a little bit about Senator Clinton with two stories that come out of my own head because -- because I think that they illustrate the extraordinary nature of her public service and the extraordinary nature of her campaign.

The first is a story about my grandmother and some of you may have heard of my grandmother. My grandmother is now 86. She grew up in a small town just outside of Wichita, Kansas.

During the course this campaign, obviously, she was rooting for her grandson. But on more than one occasion, she said to me over the phone, she said -- you know, I look at what Senator Hillary Clinton was going through, when I see how the press sometimes responds, when I see that instinct of hers to fight on behalf of those who need a champion, she reminds me a little of me.

-- the ability of Hillary Clinton to inspire passion on behalf of those who have been left out in the past.

Either one of us could have won this election. It broke for a whole variety of factors that will be examined 20 years from now but none of us can say for certain what exactly happened.

But it is still possible, I think, for both of us to bring in the American people, but only if we are unified and if we understand the stakes involved and we understand that there are people who need this country to change far more than any of us in this room. And we're the lucky ones.

There are a whole bunch of folks who are counting on us to make sure that we deliver (INAUDIBLE)

I'm absolutely confident that, with Senator Hillary Clinton and all of you joining our efforts, that not only are we going to win this election, but we're going to change this country and we're going to transform the world.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Barack Obama speaking to Hillary Clinton supporters tonight.

The audio is a little muffled, I know it's a little bit hard to hear but we think it's worth playing you his comments and her comments as much as we can.

We're going to hear from Senator Clinton coming up.

"Digging Deeper" now, we're joined by CNN's senior political analyst and former presidential adviser David Gergen, also Democratic strategist and Obama supporter Jamal Simmons and Tara Wall, conservative political analyst and columnist for "The Washington Times."

David, it's interesting hearing from Clinton supporters going on about this $2,300 check from Obama and how important that was. Why was that so important? I mean it's a symbolic gesture.

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: It is a symbolic gesture, but I think they have wondered whether he has been dismissive of her, whether he truly cares about her. And one of the standards by which they were judging that is, is he actually going to dig into his own pocket and make a contribution.

Because they also know that by him making a contribution, it's much more likely that people in his entourage, his supporters will also now dig in and make a contribution. So he had to be the first one over the hill, so to speak, in order to get the rest of them to do that.

But it is interesting, on how symbolically and how important something like this can become to making or breaking a relationship.

COOPER: Jamal, how important do you think the meeting was tonight and from your perspective, how do you think it went?

JAMAL SIMMONS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: It sounds like it went very well and it's very important. A lot of Democrats are ready to move on and take on John McCain because of all the reasons they know that he's going to take the country in the wrong direction for a third Bush term.

But this meeting tonight was very important because it really brought everybody together for Senator Obama, for him to be able to make the case for himself and then for Senator Clinton to kind of put the stamp of approval on him that he's going to need to move forward.

COOPER: Tara, to what extent do you think Republicans are going to be able to exploit any remaining hard feelings between the two Democratic camps?

TARA WAHL, CONSERVATIVE DEMOCRATIC ANALYST: Well, there's certainly hard feelings I mean I didn't see any group hugs or fist bumps going on there, so I think there is a little bit of gap to fill in. And quite frankly if you look at some recent pooling just out yesterday, by "RS News" only 30 percent of Americans believe or think that Hillary Clinton really wants him to be in the White House.

So right now they're doing what politicians must do, what politicians have to do. She needs him to pay her debt; he needs her to make sure that her supporters don't undermine him.

I think there's going to be down the line, closer to the election, they're going to be some issues that can be brought up, some of the language she used during the campaign against him and some of the language quite frankly he used against her that will make for some fodder, absolutely.

COOPER: David, is Tara right, this is just what politicians need to do?

GERGEN: It is what they need to do but frankly, Anderson, in some campaigns in the past they haven't done it. And it's hurt party unity.

I think that overall with the exception of that Tuesday night when that unfortunate speech by Mrs. Clinton and she recovered so nicely when she pulled out of the race, I think that generally speaking, you have to say that the Clinton and Obama forces have handled this about as well as could have been done.

And I am sure that a lot of the credit belongs to Bob Barnett. This legendary figure who is a lawyer in Washington, who represented Hillary and Bill Clinton with their books also represented Barack Obama on his "Audacity of Hope" book and apparently has represented me I should say, by way of clarity.

He is a master at sort of bringing people together and figuring out how to put things together. I think there's a lot of Bob Barnett behind all of this.

COOPER: David --

SIMMONS: Anderson, I wouldn't give this all to Bob Barnett. I think Hillary Clinton said very early on when coming into the last stretch of the primaries that the Democrats were going to pull together and she was going to work with whoever the nominee was going to be.

So I think we can't take away from Senator Clinton and her willingness to really show up for Barack Obama.

COOPER: Look at that. Even Jamal Simmons is reaching out to the Clinton campaign.

We're going to have much more from our panel coming up after this break.

Up next, what Senator Clinton said to the gathering tonight and the pictures you'll only see here on "360," next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: Americans are resilient, we are vocal, we are hardworking. But we deserve a government that works as hard and a president who cares as much.

And that is why this election really does call on each and every one of us to do our part. We have to make it a priority in our lives to elect Barack Obama the next president of the United States. (END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: From her mouth to her supporter's ears, literally. So tonight in a conference room in Washington's Mayflower Hotel where Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton met with her donors and fund-raisers. Now we're learning the crowd responded enthusiastically when it was revealed that Senator Obama wrote out a check to help pay-off Clinton's campaign bet, $2,300 the maximum amount allowed.

A symbolic gesture, no doubt about it but as we talked about it, one that was very important to Clinton supporters. Here's more of what she had to say tonight behind closed doors.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: I've been involved in presidential politics in some form or another for 40 years. Now that's when someone is supposed to yell, oh I don't believe it.

And, over those 40 years, we have had 10 presidential elections, and we've only won three of them. That is a sobering thought because the country has not been able to deal with so many of the serious challenges we face because we have not been able to elect a Democratic president.

We are still living on the extraordinary contributions of previous Democratic administrations. And anyone who has ever doubted what a difference a president could make, the last seven-and-a-half years should have removed every single doubt.

You are all my friends. I am just so intensely grateful to each and every one of you. And we have a lot of work to do going forward, not only the election, but then, once the election is over, to making sure we realize all of the benefits that this election can and should bring to our country.

So, let me introduce my friend, Senator Barack Obama, to my friends, all of you wonderful people who have meant so much to me in my life.

Senator Obama.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: And that was the introduction she gave to Barack Obama who then spoke to the crowd, Hillary Clinton in her own words.

Let's dig deeper with our panel.

Joining us again, CNN's senior political analyst and former presidential adviser David Gergen; Democratic strategist and Obama supporter, Jamal Simmons; and Tara Wahl, conservative political analyst and columnist for "The Washington Times."

Do you think, David, it is difficult for both Obama and Clinton to now have to kind of make nice after, you know, spending more than a year battling each other? GERGEN: Anderson, they're both pros. And it's very easy for Barack Obama because he's on top in this situation. I think the one that it's harder for is Hillary Clinton. But she's a pro and she's done it very nicely.

There is this tantalizing question still about where is Bill Clinton and the variety of reports that he's having a harder time adjusting for the loss than she is which is you know he's always been the resilient one, he's always the one who bounced back quickly.

But in this situation, he hasn't been fulsome at all, he hasn't been out there. I think we're all going to be waiting.

After tomorrow, after Unity, in New Hampshire tomorrow, and more with Hillary and Barack, I think we're all going to be waiting to see when does Bill Clinton get into this dance?

COOPER: Jamal, what about that? How important do you think it is for Bill Clinton to get into the dance?

SIMMONS: It is important. You have to remember, though, the Clintons have not -- neither one of them they haven't lost an election since 1980. So they are in very unfamiliar territory. And I think they may take a few minutes to get it together.

At the same time, if we remember back to right after Katrina, Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama flew to Houston together to go visit the evacuees from New Orleans.

I mean this group, they have a history together. They've spent some time together over the last few years. They had a rough year going at each other. But I think moving forward they'll be fine.

COOPER: Tara, how do Republicans, seeing Clinton and Obama campaigning together, is that cause for concern? Or I mean is Hillary Clinton is someone they've even like to see on a ticket as a vice president because she's polarizing?

WAHL: Well, certainly the two of them together are obviously a force to be reckoned with. I would slightly disagree though with the Bill Clinton factor. I don't think that he adds much and I quite frankly don't think that the wounds will heal over between he and Barack Obama.

I think they go little too deep in his flat statement today, that came out is a little indicative of that. So I'm not sure you'll see too much of him. I'm not sure he's really needed as much as probably Hillary Clinton would be.

I do think that they are a strong force. I think Republicans are geared up and ready for them whatever role she plays. I doubt, though, that it will be a vice-presidential role and I think Jamal will probably agree with me on that one.

COOPER: David, do you agree with that David, as well? GERGEN: Well, I think the door is still open. I think it may be cracked open for Hillary Clinton to be on the vice-presidential ticket. But I actually do think Bill Clinton is very important to Barack Obama.

Listen, he is a former president as well as being a disappointed husband of his rival. And he knows more about politics than almost anybody in the country. He can be very, very helpful. I think he been through both tactics and strategy for this campaign.

And also thinking through how do you use a campaign as a spring board for governing. And Bill Clinton can bring to the table a lot of people who are around him Barack Obama needs and is still building out his advisers, his substantive advisers and he needs to beef that up. Everybody knows that.

And finally, there are places where Bill Clinton can campaign that would be very, very helpful.

So one of the things, to go back to the Bob Barnett role, I think Jamal was absolutely right. Bob Barnett did not produce this evening but he can be the person who negotiates with the Obama people. How are the Clintons going to be show cased in the Denver Convention? What about an airplane? Are you guys going to provide an airplane for her that will make it a lot easier to get around, those kinds of questions?

COOPER: Jamal, I got to take a break. But we're going to have more from you and the rest of our panel later.

David Gergen, I was just going to ask you a quickly question, are you doing telemarketing on the side? Where are you coming to us from tonight? You look like you're in a telemarketing center.

GERGEN: I'm in a PBS studio center. I should probably ask you to send your money to public television. I'm in Boise, Idaho.

COOPER: All right, good to hear that.

All right, up next, more on reaching the hard core Hillary holdouts a lot of H's there. It's our "Strategy Session" coming up next.

Then John McCain, how he plans to define himself as a candidate in the months ahead and how he and the Republicans plan to define Barack Obama.

We got the "Raw Politics" on that. Stay tuned.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Either one of us could have won this election. It broke for a whole variety of factors that will be examined 20 years from now none of us can say for certain what exactly happened. But it is still possible, I think, for both of us (INAUDIBLE) the American people, but only if we are unified and if we understand the stakes involved and understand that there are people who need this country to change far more than any of us in this room.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Barack Obama, in Washington at the Mayflower Hotel, tonight appearing jointly with Hillary Clinton, kind of an outreach session for Clinton supporters.

Candy Crowley has been looking to one key aspect of that outreach, reaching out to women in particular.

Candy, how is Barack Obama doing with that?

CROWLEY: Well, if you look at the polling numbers, he's doing just fine, in fact. Right now he's pulling about 55 percent of the female vote. That is better than John Kerry did, and it's on a par with how Bill Clinton did and how Al Gore did in the exit polls in their various elections.

And so he's doing very well.

There is, you know, some concern among Clinton supporters because there have been some comments. It was sort of a get -- you know, people need to get over it kind of comment that Barack Obama said in a private meeting. And some of the women took him to task for that.

So there is lingering feelings. It's just hard to move in a personal way toward liking someone after you've competed with him for 17 months.

And that's where a lot of these women are. There is a small group of contributors and top fund-raisers for Hillary Clinton, many of them women, although there are some men described to me as women who sort of came of age in the 70s' in the women's movement, who are now saying I'm just not going to do this. I'm not going to raise funds for him.

There is time yet. Most of the fund-raisers have moved over with varying degrees of enthusiasm. But nonetheless, he's doing okay among women voters and part of it is because I think he has spent the last couple of weeks doing nothing but praising Hillary Clinton, talking about how much he needs her, and she has helped him.

I think both of them have been pitch-perfect over the past two weeks, regardless of what's going on behind the scenes. In public and what voters see are these two people coming together. And I think they've both been pretty good at doing it.

COOPER: Candy Crowley thanks.

Joining us now for a strategy session about all of this with the outreach to women and how that's going. Hilary Rosen, political director of the liberal huffingtonpost.com; conservative political analyst Tara Wall, she's a columnist for "The Washington Times" and Jennifer Palmieri of the Center for American Progress, an eight-year veteran of the Clinton White House. Thanks to all for being with us.

Hilary, let's start with you. Clinton tonight referring to what she has called the extremely strong feelings of her supporters. Does tonight's meeting really help those strong feelings subside?

HILARY ROSEN, POLITICAL DIRECTOR, HUFFINGTONPOST.COM: Well, sure. You know, I give Obama a lot of credit. As Candy said, he has definitely set the right tone over the last ten days in terms of his deference and respect. Not just for Hillary Clinton but in essence, being deferential to her as kind of a surrogate to being deferential to Clinton voters who remember were half of the Democratic Party over the course of this primary.

And he did it again tonight. He said to the crowd, I might not be your first choice, but I'm a pretty good choice. And that went over well.

He also said to them that you might have heard that I don't care about the women's vote. It's absolutely not true. I'm going to do everything I can, not just to get the women's vote, but to deserve it. And whatever else you hear is not coming from me or my campaign.

And so I think he understands that there's extra attention that needs to be paid to women. And frankly, it's in everybody's interest. It's in his interest. Women are going to be 54 percent of this election. They're going to be the swing vote. So I think he's off to a pretty good start.

This was all sort of private-behind-the scenes stuff. Tomorrow is the first time in public it will be on all the network news. It will be in all the print.

It will be the two of them together. Everybody is going to watch their body language and what he says and what she says. And I think that today was a very good start for that.

COOPER: Jennifer, the problems that some female Clinton supporters have in accepting Barack Obama, is it just a strong support of Hillary Clinton or is it something that Barack Obama is doing or saying?

JENNIFER PALMIERI, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: I don't think so. I think it's just the fact that they thought she was going to win, that they've probably been supporters of hers not just for the last 17 months but really for the last 16 years since president Clinton ran in 1992. I think they expected to win and I think that they expected that was going to be the historical year where we were going to have the first female candidate.

So I don't know -- I know there is -- I certainly saw some in the commentary, more so than the press coverage some of the sexist overtones to what people had to say about Senator Clinton. I don't feel like that came from Senator Obama or his campaign. And I think it's more disappointment that she lost as opposed to feeling a need for the animosity toward him for winning.

COOPER: Tara, we heard John McCain reaching out to Hillary Clinton supporters, praising Hillary Clinton repeatedly in those days after she dropped out. Can he make inroads with the female vote with former Clinton supporters?

TARA WALL, CONSERVATIVE POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, he can make some inroads. I think that was a good strategic move on his part obviously. I think there is a group of women out there, some that are, you know, just outraged over some of the sexism that they interpreted within the campaign and within the media.

Then you have another contingent, the more moderate to conservatives. Some of whom would have voted for McCain had Hillary Clinton not been in the race. And others, for very different reasons than most might think, some of these women believe in someone who is going to be stronger on foreign policy and articulate that well and they believe that Hillary Clinton was probably more experienced than Barack Obama; some of the same arguments that John McCain makes against Barack Obama.

So I think he will be able to pull some of those women over. Obviously, I think we all know a majority of women in America tend to lean or tend to vote Democrat. But he does stand a good chance at wooing at least some of those women. His key is to be able close the gap, if you will, between he and Obama in the women's vote. He does lead slightly though, McCain still leads slightly among white women voters.

COOPER: Hilary, I remember you saying a couple weeks ago that you didn't believe a lot of those Hillary Clinton supporters who said they would end up voting for John McCain if Hillary wasn't in the race.

It's been three weeks since the primary ended. Still, if you look at polls, almost a quarter of Hillary supporters say they will vote for McCain. Does that surprise you?

What are they waiting for? I know Terry McAuliffe says it takes time. Barack Obama, I guess he would argue, you know, the time is now.

ROSEN: Well, I think we're going to see two things over the course of the next several weeks. We're going to see, first of all, him begin to address women voters side by side with Hillary Clinton. And I think that will make a huge difference.

The other thing we're going to see is more of a contrast directly between Barack Obama and John McCain on issues that women care about. Women are the health care decision makers for their families. Women are concerned about the economy.

I think the more that women see the substantive policy differences between those, we're going to narrow that gender gap significantly and I think that Tara's right, John McCain doesn't have to get a lot of women, he just has to get more than he has.

And I think he's going to have a tough time if Barack Obama plays it right. One little bit of news is I'm hearing tonight that the Obama campaign is likely to take the top two -- one or two staffers from the Clinton campaign's effort on women over to his campaign and that organizing will make a difference.

COOPER: You're just hearing that tonight? I had not heard that.

ROSEN: Yes.

COOPER: All right. Hilary Rosen, appreciate it. Tara Wall as well and Jennifer Palmieri. Thanks very much.

Straight ahead tonight, the McCain campaign comes out swinging with a new plan for the months ahead. How the veteran and former prisoner of war plans to set himself apart and stop Barack Obama from moving up. That's next on "360."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Today, the McCain campaign launched a full court press on the press, virtually spelling out how John McCain will portray himself and portray Barack Obama in the months ahead. McCain's staff actually sent a memo to reporters driving home the message it wants to get across.

Meantime, some of his high-power surrogates including Karl Rove and Mitt Romney were doing their part to get the word out. For weeks McCain's campaign has been accused of not having a clear message. Tonight that has changed.

CNN's Ed Henry has the "Raw Politics."

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SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: How are we going to fix these broken systems?

ED HENRY, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Republican John McCain is finally settling on a message. Part one, Democrat Barack Obama is just a typical politician despite all that talk of change and reaching across the aisle.

Example, Obama dropping his promise to use limited public funds after realizing his campaign had turned into a cash machine.

MITT ROMNEY, (R) FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He has consistently voted with his party on the most partisan issues and put his party and personal interests ahead of those of the nation.

HENRY: Part two of the strategy, laid out in this memo to reporters. Recall McCain's time as a prisoner of war to show he puts country first. When John McCain was offered early release as a prisoner of war, he refused. Subjecting himself to torture rather than giving a propaganda victory to his captors; wrote McCain adviser Steve Schmidt.

Example says Schmidt, McCain is so tough that he bucked his party to work with Democrats on immigration reform. Linking McCain's POW experience to working with Ted Kennedy on a border bill may seem like a stretch.

MCCAIN: Now, there's lot of solutions out there.

HENRY: But the point is, team McCain is casting their guy as someone who takes on tough fights.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're defining him as a pierce patriot who strongly loves this country and will do anything and sacrifice himself and anything for the better of the country. I think it's a nice contrast to Barack Obama who is kind of a Johnny-come-lately.

HENRY: It's also a way to contrast McCain with President Bush; highlighting his maverick ways amid Democratic attempts to tie him to an unpopular president.

But is the McCain strategy accurate? And will it work?

In fact, Obama has gotten credit for reaching across the aisle to work with Republicans like Senator Gordon Smith of Oregon who is actually touting Obama's independent credentials.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who says Gordon Smith helped lead the fight for better gas mileage and a cleaner environment? Barack Obama.

HENRY: And Obama is putting his own twist on the charge he's just a machine politician from Chicago.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I think it's Midwestern in some way which is important and will represent a significant change from the very ideological, very sharp partisanship that we've seen in Washington.

HENRY: Obama allies also point out that Hillary Clinton already used some of the McCain strategy in the Democratic primaries. We know how that worked out. But now it's McCain's turn to try to define himself as ready on day one.

Ed Henry, CNN, the White House.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: How personal will the attacks get between Obama and McCain? That's ahead with our panel.

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COOPER: Barack Obama tonight doing what he can to get Hillary Clinton supporters on board. We're talking now though about the campaign he'll be facing from John McCain.

We're "Digging Deeper." Joining us again: CNN senior political analyst and former presidential adviser, David Gergen; also Democratic strategist and Obama supporter, Jamal Simmons and Tara Wall; conservative political analyst and columnist for "The Washington Times."

David, do you think this McCain GOP strategy which seems to have solidified in the last day or so is going to work or will it stick? GERGEN: It may help him over the summer but I'm not sure how much. John McCain is clearly a man of valor, a war hero and great patriot. In the years after World War II, Anderson, that kind of message resonated greatly with the American people. Look at the election of John F. Kennedy in 1960; his war record was very important part of that victory.

But in more recent years it has not had the same resonance with voters. Look at Bob Dole in 1996, another war hero, man of valor, great patriot, and yet he went down in that election badly. John Kerry, just a few years ago, his war record was destroyed or undercut by the swift-boaters (ph) and that sort of thing.

So that alone to me, I'm very doubtful is enough to carry him. I think this is ultimately going to have to be a campaign on McCain's part about ideas and about the future.

COOPER: Tara, in an op-ed today, Karl Rove suggested Obama is arrogant, self-centered. John McCain today referred to him as elitist. It does seem like they're going after him as a person this early in the campaign. Isn't there a risk that that kind of turns off voters or does it play into doubts some voters may have about Obama?

WALL: Yes, I mean, I think no matter how legitimate some of these claims are, the Republicans of McCain can't be one-issue oriented. Just to say that he's liberal alone is not going to cut it. I mean, it's true in fact. But that alone is not going to get it.

I think you have to -- they're going to have to define the differences between Senator McCain and Senator Obama. And those differences, quite frankly, are stark. And it's why we see this is where the country is. The country clearly is split on these issues and split on these candidates.

I think if he continues to drive home -- listen, he's got a very aggressive rapid response as you know. Republicans have this great rapid response operation. You know, he needs to continue to hit home on these issues and continue to hit hard, not be afraid to hit hard on Barack Obama and not let these generalized unfounded claims that are going to come out throughout the campaign go unchallenged. That's another mistake he might make.

Those are the two things I would caution against. I think he needs to continue to hone in on where Barack Obama's weaknesses are as it relates to the policies everyday Americans, as we know, are very interested in right now.

COOPER: Jamal, in terms of Barack Obama's strategy, critics say he's stressed McCain's age kind of subtly, he keeps that hammering a McCain term is the third term of a Bush presidency. Does he stick with that message over the next couple of weeks?

JAMAL SIMMONS, OBAMA SUPPORTER: I don't think anyone is making any reference to McCain's age. What they're talking about is McCain being out of touch with where the American people want to go. That's a very different issue. Doesn't matter if he's 55 or 75, he's out of touch with where the American people want to go.

They say Barack Obama is not working across party lines, but they should ask Senator Dick Lugar, who he got stuck in Russia with when they were working on weapons of mass destruction and they were detained by the Russians for three hours.

They should ask John McCain himself who thanked Barack Obama for his help on the immigration bill before John McCain flip-flopped on the immigration bill himself and didn't support his own policy. They should ask people like Sam Brownback, who Barack Obama worked with on Darfur and on disinvestment in Iran.

So he's got this record of doing things bipartisan-wise and the McCain campaign is going to try to characterize him in a way that I think the American people aren't into. John McCain may have been a hero 35 years ago. That doesn't make him the right president for the next four years.

COOPER: We're going to leave it there. Tara Wall, Jamal Simmons, David Gergen, thanks.

Just ahead, the latest on Zimbabwe, a country deep in crisis where the move to democracy has turned into a blood bath. International rage is growing. Will it make any difference? Next on "360."

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COOPER: Tonight, Zimbabwe is drowning in violence and terror; a sickening story that deserves the world's attention. Robert Mugabe, the man who helped bring independence to the African nation almost 30 years ago has turned Zimbabwe into a destitute country in a brutal attempt to cling to power.

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COOPER: The move from dictatorship to promised democracy now looks like this in Zimbabwe; ordinary citizens seeking change and paying the price.

THOMAS WOODS, SR. ASSOCIATE FELLOW, HERITAGE FOUNDATION: We are witnessing a dictator who has declared war on his own people and is instigating a campaign of terror across the country.

COOPER: Ever since the incumbent, Robert Mugabe, lost the presidential election to opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, three months ago, the African nation has fallen into bloody chaos. Officials ordered a runoff saying Tsvangirai got less than 50 percent of the vote. Violence exploded.

KARIN ALEXANDER, THE INSTITUTE FOR DEMOCRACY IN SOUTH AFRICA: We have seen a lot of beatings on the body, there's been burning with plastic. There were reports last week of them using insecticides and pouring those onto people's skins.

COOPER: At this funeral, opposition supporters mourn the loss of a young rising star in the party. His family said he was dragged from his home and murdered in front of his children. A story now all too common.

Tsvangirai's party has warned of growing political genocide, saying its supporters have been tortured, murdered and displaced in a systematic campaign of intimidation and to ensure Mugabe's continued choke-hold on power.

Mugabe's government has dismissed the reports as lies but these disturbing pictures tell a different story. Saying the violence has become too much to bear, Tsvangirai formally dropped out of the race on Tuesday. He's taken refuge at the Dutch Embassy in Harare. Many of his supporters are now huddled outside the embassy of South Africa.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They are capable of killing. They are sending his supporters to kill us. So please, we are seeking for help.

COOPER: Meanwhile, the 84-year-old Mugabe is right where he wants to be. He's been in power 28 years and it looks as though he'll stay there. He's the only candidate in the race he insists will happen tomorrow.

ROBERT MUGABE, PRESIDENT OF ZIMBABWE: We're hundreds of thousands of people have died during an election and yet elections have gone on.

DESMOND TUTU, NOBEL PEACE LAUREATE: He has, I mean, mutated into something that is quite unbelievable. He has -- he has really turned into a kind of Frankenstein for his people.

COOPER: International outrage has been slow but is mounting. The United Nations Security Council has finally condemned the violence and leaders have called for elections to be postponed. But the condemnations fall short of action and Mugabe isn't listening any way.

MUGABE: They can shout as loud as they like from Washington or from London or from any other corner. Our people, our people, only our people will decide.

COOPER: At this point, free and fair elections seem impossible. As for Robert Mugabe, he's threatened war if his opponents win, saying only God can remove him from power.

That does it for this edition of "360." Thanks for watching.

Larry King is next. Have a great day and I'll see you later tonight.

LARRY KING, CNN HOST: Tonight, breaking news. Their first fund- raiser together just ended. Former rivals now united?

Hillary Clinton asks her fat cat donors to ante up for Barack Obama. Will they show him the money and their votes? But where does that leave her? What will Hillary Clinton do now? And then there's Bill. Can he leave the bitterness behind?

It's all right now on "LARRY KING LIVE."

Good evening. We begin tonight with the breaking news. A short time ago in Washington, Hillary Clinton introduced Barack Obama to some of her top fund-raisers. This comes just days after Obama asks his finance folks to help her pay off millions of dollars in campaign debt.

We'll start with CNN's senior political correspondent, Candy Crowley, who's got all the latest on the meetings and money. Any surprises, Candy?

CROWLEY: Well, actually a little bit of news. Tonight, Barack Obama put his money where his mouth is. You were just saying that he told his top donors if they wanted to they should contribute to Hillary Clinton so she could help pay off her debt. Tonight he cut her a check for $2,300, which is the maximum amount that Barack Obama could give to her, as did the Obama finance chairman. So she walked out of there $4,600 richer, I can tell you that.