updated 6/6/2008 11:37:56 AM ET 2008-06-06T15:37:56

Guests: Chuck Todd, Andrea Mitchell, Ron Allen, Robert Wexler, Stephanie Tubbs Jones, Josh Green, Roy Sekoff, Brad Blakeman

DAN ABRAMS, HOST:  Tonight: Did Hillary Clinton blow any chance of becoming V.P. by delaying her endorsement of Obama?  And once she does endorse him, how many of Clinton supporters will really vote for John McCain?

Two of the most outspoken congressional supporters of Clinton and Obama join us: Representative Stephanie Tubbs Jones and Robert Wexler.

And: On this 40th anniversary of the assassination of Robert Kennedy, we have his final interview from just hours before his death.

VERDICT starts now.

Hi, everyone.  Welcome to the show.

As Hillary Clinton prepares to suspend her campaign this weekend, tonight, she‘s officially denying that she‘s seeking the vice presidency, saying, quote, “While Senator Clinton has made clear throughout this process that she will do whatever she can to elect the Democrat to the White House, she is not seeking the vice presidency, and no one speaks for her about her.  The choice here is Senator Obama‘s and his alone.”

But just because she is not, quote, “seeking it,” doesn‘t mean she doesn‘t want it.  In fact, those words could actually be a strategy to keep her in the running.  This after many Democrats were furious that she refused to concede Tuesday night and that she gave surrogates the go ahead to talk about her as a possible V.P.

So, the question: Is it too late for her to get the nod?  Did her actions and inactions of the past 48 hours effectively take her out of the running?

Here now is Ohio congressman and Clinton supporter, Stephanie Tubbs Jones; Florida Congressman Robert Wexler, who‘s an Obama supporter and author of the book, “Fire-Breathing Liberal”; “The Atlantic‘s” Josh Green; and Huffington Post founding editor, Roy Sekoff.

All right.  Let me start with you, Congressman Wexler.  Do you think as an Obama supporter that Hillary Clinton‘s actions and inactions of the last 48 hours have hurt her chances of getting the V.P. nod?

REP. ROBERT WEXLER, (D) OBAMA SUPPORTER:  No.  I don‘t think they either hurt or helped in any specific way.  This is a decision ultimately, as Senator Clinton said, that will be made by Senator Obama.  The real story is that the Democratic Party is in fact unifying.

For weeks, for months, people wondered how would we get about becoming unified.  And even in the first days, today all of New York Democrats that were Hillary Clinton‘s strongest supporters came aboard.  Florida supporters of Hillary Clinton -

ABRAMS:  Let me ask -

WEXLER:  This is what we‘re doing, we‘re unifying.

ABRAMS:  All right.  But Representative Tubbs Jones, I understand that is the point that all Democrats want to be heard today, but the reality is, there‘s still a lot of backroom discussions going on.

And I want to read you a couple of editorials in newspapers, E.J. Dionne of the “Washington Post” said, “Hillary Clinton talked her way out of the vice presidency on Tuesday night.”  Thomas DeFrank from the “New York Daily News”: She‘s damaged her chances—always slim at best—by refusing to acknowledge Obama‘s victory.”

There‘s no question that this sentiment is in the air.  I‘m guessing you don‘t buy it though?

REP. STEPHANIE TUBBS JONES, (D) OHIO:  Absolutely not.  And the pundits have not been right in this entire election.  So, if you think of it from that perspective, let me say this to you—not many of the pundits have ever run for public office.  Contemplate 16 months, you run for office, you‘ve been boom-boom-boom, Hillary Clinton, this is what I want to present, and on the night that your opponent obtained a pivoted (ph) victory of the sufficient number of delegates, you haven‘t had a chance to talk to your best supporters, you haven‘t had a chance to answer any e-mails, you haven‘t had anything.

It was appropriate for her to make the speech that she made and she earned the right to have time to contact the folks before -

ABRAMS:  I agree with you on that.

TUBBS JONES:  OK.

ABRAMS:  I‘ve said that before on the air.  The problem is, it‘s not just that she didn‘t concede that night, it was the language that was used, the continuing discussion of the Electoral College, of the popular vote, of the numbers that -

TUBBS JONES:  And understand, she‘s got 18 million people who supported her and so, she has to bring them down and you have to give her a chance to do that.  And if you don‘t give her a chance, it‘s going to be hard to bring them to the table.

ABRAMS:  Congressman Wexler let me read you this poll just out from CBS News that says that among Democrats, 59 percent of Democratic primary voters support Clinton as the vice president.  How significant should that be?

WEXLER:  I think it‘s one factor among many and I think that what we need to allow happen is this full process of unity which the most important event will be this Saturday as Senator Clinton speaks, as we, in formality, bring Senator Clinton and Senator Obama together behind the Obama campaign.  And as the things begin to happen, I think, we‘ll get a much clearer picture and Senator Obama, most importantly, will get a much clearer picture of the general election to come.

ABRAMS:  All right.  Josh Green, you know, as one of the observers, reporters, pundits, whatever you want to call you, is it not the case that there are people behind the scenes who are angry about the way that Hillary Clinton has dealt with the past 48 hours, and more important question for the purposes of this segment—do you think that that‘s hurt her chances of getting the V.P. nod?

JOSH GREEN, THE ATLANTIC:  Yes.  I mean, I think there are a lot of none Clinton supporter Democrats, not just Obama fans, but people who see her speech the other night as being defiant, it‘s further dividing the party on a night when it finally has a nominee, and certainly, didn‘t do anything to improve her popularity within the Obama camp, where, I think, as Thomas DeFrank said in his editorial—her chances of being the V.P., I think, were fairly slim.  I think they‘re much slimmer today.

ABRAMS:  Do you agree with that, Representative Tubbs Jones?

TUBBS JONES:  I absolutely do not.  I believe that it is the prerogative of Senator Obama to choose whoever he wants to be the Democratic nominee, but you and all the rest of everybody who‘s trying to rush this process along, need to give Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama an opportunity to sit down and have a discussion.  Come on.

And if they decide—if he decides that she‘s not the person, so, be it.  But you can‘t make the decision and won‘t you stop trying to do it.  (INAUDIBLE).  Come on.

ABRAMS:  All I‘m doing is talking about whether it might happen.

TUBBS JONES:  I think it might.  I think it might.

ABRAMS:  Yes.  So, that‘s all we‘re doing.

ROY SEKOFF, HUFFINGTON POST:  But it shouldn‘t.

ABRAMS:  Now, let me bring in Roy Sekoff.  And just to both of our members of Congress know what Roy is coming from, as you know The Huffington Post has tented to be very Pro-Obama throughout the process and very -

SEKOFF:  Covering both sides, Dan.

ABRAMS:  And very anti-Hillary Clinton - and look, in my view.  And, Roy, do you think that what we‘re saying here is wrong?

SEKOFF:  No.  I mean, Dan, you know, there‘s a couple of things.  One, it‘s definitely about atmospherics and as you say, having Terry McAuliffe announced her as the next president and her still making the case about who would be the best president, kind of gives the message that this is not a person who is constitutionally predisposed to riding shotgun, you know.

I mean, and this is the Hillary paradox.  Certainly, she is the second most popular person out there and you would think logically—well, we take the most popular and we take the second most popular, we mix them together and that will be great.

Do you know what it reminds me of?  It reminds me of the great episode where Homer Simpson was at a restaurant and he wanted to have the finest dinner possible.  So, he said to the waiter, “Bring me the finest dish and stuff it with the second dish.”  And he said, “Very well, sir.  Very good.  You‘ll have the lobster stuffed with tacos.”

And that‘s what this is.  This is lobster stuff with tacos.  They don‘t go good together.

ABRAMS:  All right.  I want to let Representative Wexler to get back in but let me ask you this.  We now have a process, you said, “Let the process take place,” fair enough.  The process is going to involve a team of people that Barack Obama has selected to help him vet possible V.P. candidates, including Caroline Kennedy, Jim Johnson, and Eric Holder.

And among the people I‘ve spoken to, all of them say, that‘s not the panel that Hillary Clinton would have wanted to get the nod.  What do you make of that?

WEXLER:  Well, this is the panel that Senator Obama picked.  It‘s the panel that will represent his vision for America and the type of man or woman that he will choose as the vice president.

But I‘ve got to get back to the original point if I could, Dan.  The Obama supporter, of which I am a very strong one, we respect Senator Clinton.  We admire her campaign.  She ran an extraordinary race.  There‘s a great deal of admiration for not only Senator Clinton but the type of campaign and message that she brought across the country.

And Senator Obama supporters are very understanding of the passion that so many of the people that support Senator Clinton have.  This is the kind of unity that‘s required—respect on both sides.  And this is what I think you‘ll see from both the Obama campaign and the Clinton campaign.

SEKOFF:  But it‘s not disrespectful to say they don‘t go together well.  That‘s not disrespectful to say she‘s a fabulous candidate.

ABRAMS:  Hang on.  I‘ve got to break in with some breaking news related to this conversation.

Go ahead, why don‘t you give it to me.  Do you want to give it to me, please?

NBC‘s political director, Chuck Todd, confirming that Barack Obama is meeting with Hillary Clinton tonight at her home - a home in D.C.?  At Hillary‘s home in Washington, D.C.  All right.

So, we‘ve got this breaking news just coming into us from our political director, Chuck Todd, and that is Barack Obama is meeting with Hillary Clinton at her home in Washington, D.C. tonight.  A senior Barack Obama official has just confirmed that to us as well.

All right.  Well, look, that is significant Representative Tubbs Jones.

TUBBS JONES:  That‘s what I‘ve -

ABRAMS:  It seems that the conversations have begun.

TUBBS JONES:  And that‘s what I was saying, you must give them a chance to sit down and have a conversation.  It will be as important for Senator Clinton to say to the world and her supporters that—I support Barack Obama—but what will be as important for Barack Obama‘s people to open their hands and say—welcome Clinton supporters, we want to be part of a team.

ABRAMS:  All right.  Let me ask you.  Representative Wexler, how important do you think it is in terms of any role that Hillary Clinton might play in an Obama administration, exactly how she speaks to Barack Obama tonight—what she says to Barack Obama tonight.  Does that become crucial do you think?

WEXLER:  Senator Obama and Senator Clinton know each other very well.  They‘ve been competitors.  Of course, this conversation tonight is extremely important.

But Senator Clinton will be a leader in one way or another in the Democratic Party for a long time to come.  She ran an extraordinary race.  She presented herself exceedingly well.  These are two historic candidates.  They will join together and lead the Democratic Party.  Senator Obama obviously will be our presidential nominee.

ABRAMS:  Sorry to interrupt to you.  Chuck Todd, is our political director, he joins us on the phone right now.  He‘s the one who just broke the story.

Chuck, what do we know?

CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS POLITICAL DIRECTOR (through phone):  Well, I mean, we know that the Obama campaign thought it would be in the best interest to try to keep the media circus from following him around and, you know, it‘s a pretty clever trick.  They hoarded the press corps on the plane and the plane is literally taking off on the runway right now and Senator Obama is not on it and - boom, antennas went up everywhere.

Kudos to, I don‘t, you know - kudos to our folks, Lee Cowan and Anna Magner (ph) who both quickly alerted us before the blackberry service got shut down on the plane and we were able to quickly confirm that he‘s having a meeting with her now and that‘s what we know.

ABRAMS:  Chuck, is this an unplanned meeting.  I mean, is it fair to say that this is, this was expected?

TODD:  I‘m still working on more details of when they decided to have this meeting.  I mean, I‘ll be honest, news is coming fast.  But you know, one would assume that they, you don‘t say this last last minute.  Everything has been coming together so quickly.

No doubt that it was probably an idea today and they needed to have this face to face meeting.  It was important for Obama and her.  And I think this will only help her, help her speech on Saturday, help everybody sort of digest it a little bit better, knowing that they‘re having this meeting tonight and, frankly, without the media glare.

Then they can decide which swing state to have their joint sort of endorsement meeting—because I still think that‘s the next thing, we have her dropping out on Saturday, saying goodbye to her supporters.  But then, the final event in this, is going to be where does Obama choose to have the unity event where she raises his arm.  That‘s an important visual message.

ABRAMS:  Yes.  I should point out that Lee Cowan, our reporter just telling us that they had the reporters wait for 45 minutes on the plane before they took off without Senator Obama.  And as you point out, Chuck, it sounds like it was a little bait and switch there so that the media would be up in the air while Barack Obama is sitting in Hillary Clinton‘s home.

Let me go back to Representative Tubbs Jones, who‘s, you know, a long time Clinton supporter.

What do you think Hillary Clinton wants?  What do you think that - I mean, look, they‘re going to have—I assume a very cordial meeting tonight—they‘re going to flatter each other, I assume it‘s going to be a make peace meeting.  But in Hillary Clinton‘s mind going into this, what do you think she wants?

TUBBS JONES:  Before I answer that question, let me say—cha-ching to Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton for getting the media without you all knowing about it.  That‘s how you have to do with meetings.  Thank the Lord more that they were able to do so.

But you know, Hillary Clinton has said, the things that she wants are in the best interest of her supporters.  She wants her issue around health care, around taking care of veterans.  What do we do about education?  How do we fix this whole housing thing (ph)?

But most importantly, she wants a successful Democratic Party.  She wants a Democratic Party to win the election in November and she‘s willing to do what it takes to get that to happen.

ABRAMS:  Representative Wexler, I mean, again, from the Obama perspective now.  Is there something you think—look, there‘s no question, they agree on most issues, that‘s the practical reality is that on most of the important issues facing this country, Obama and Clinton agree.  So, I can‘t imagine they‘re going to be spending hours sort of sorting out the differences in the health care plan.

I got to believe that tonight is going to be a meeting which says—we need to be together—exactly the point you were making, Representative Wexler, a moment ago.  I mean, you were making a point that the party‘s got to come together, that the party will come together.

But is there something you think that Barack Obama wants to hear, does he want to hear from Hillary Clinton, you know—you are now the leader of the party sir, tell me what it is that you want me to do to help?

WEXLER:  I think there will be a conversation precisely what you talked about.  Senator Obama is now the leader of the Democratic Party.  He‘s our presidential nominee.  And I believe what you will hear from Senator Clinton is—how Senator Obama, do I help you lead the Democratic Party to victory?

We saw a slice of that yesterday at the AIPAC conference where Senator Obama gave a strong foreign policy address outlining his vision for change on foreign policy, and then, Senator Clinton followed and what did she do?  She complimented Senator Obama and she, in fact, in essence, reinstated what he had said and talked about how his vision, in fact, was the correct one.  And of course, tonight, they‘ll do it in a much more global sense.

ABRAMS:  We are continuing with breaking news coverage of an unplanned, at least as far as the media was concerned, meeting between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.  What is being described as a secret meeting at Hillary Clinton‘s home, but it is occurring as the press corps for Barack Obama flew into the air without Barack Obama and without knowing and Representative Tubbs Jones loves the picture of that happening.

Andrea Mitchell joins us now on the phone.  She‘s covering the Clinton campaign.

Andrea, how unplanned was this?

ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (through phone):  Well, certainly planned by the two of them.  Secret meeting is a secret meeting.  And it tells you something because Barack Obama as this—was obviously on their calendar, was busy telling his press corps—we‘re flying into Dulles Airport tonight from their meetings in - from his rally earlier in Bristol, Virginia, southern Virginia.

He saying, when you read rumors about the vice presidency, they‘re wrong.  You know, when you next hear something about the vice presidential pick, it‘s because I tell you who it is and so, this is a very disciplined campaign.  They don‘t have a lot of inciting, if any, unusual for Washington, because they‘re not from Washington.  They run it out of Chicago and they can keep a secret.

And Clinton people have been in radio (ph) of silence for the last couple of days, a lot of having to do with resentments over the way they‘ve been treated.

ABRAMS:  Andrea, this is a meeting that I assumed they both wanted.  But did Hillary Clinton need to have this meeting in your view before she spoke to her supporters on Friday, before she speaks publicly on Saturday?

MITCHELL:  I think she probably wanted to have this meeting, and presumably, this is what they were discussing perhaps, were discussing in the brief moments when they were behind back stage at the AIPAC meeting.  There was a wonderful picture in “Time” magazine, which you may have up right now.

ABRAMS:  Yes, we do.

MITCHELL:  Which shows them chatting very briefly with all of their aides very much beside, this was really one-on-one, but it was a brief moment.  At that time, Barack Obama said when asked about it afterwards, “We‘ll get together in the next couple of weeks, in several weeks.”

Later in the day, she was pressured by Charlie Rangel, as we know, to get out of the race and announced that she was suspending the race, with considerable criticism from some of her own people that she had waited too long and it was no longer a graceful exit.

So, probably, she needed this “race note,” (ph) if you will.  They have a lot to talk about.  Clearly, they are merging wings of the Democratic Party.  Already, last night, he was in New York and Park Avenue, two fundraisers that included some of her top donors.

ABRAMS:  Andrea, I don‘t mean to turn you into an etiquette expert.  But is there any thing of the fact that it has occurred -

MITCHELL:  No one ever accused me before of being an etiquette expert, a pushy reporter perhaps, but not an etiquette expert.

ABRAMS:  Yes.  That‘s why I‘m going to ask you—does this matter that it‘s occurring at Senator Clinton‘s home?  Is there anything to be read into about?

MITCHELL:  You bet.  I mean, he said when he called her, I mean, the victor calling the vanquish - and he said that he would—that he offered to meet with her, this was Sunday night at a time and place of her choosing—a time and place of her choosing is her turf.

Most people figured that meant somewhere in Washington or in New York, New York would certainly have been her territory not his.  But her house is pretty much her turf.  So, he‘s come to her and done it by, you know, locking up the press corps and having them take off without him.

ABRAMS:  We‘re continuing our breaking news coverage of what is, again, as I said a moment ago, to the press, a secret meeting, but obviously a meeting that was planned between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton that is occurring at her home now as we speak.

Representative Tubbs Jones, do you think that that word will come up in this discussion, that word “vice president”?

TUBBS JONES:  You know, I have no idea whether that will come up.  It‘s possible.  What I think will also come up is a statement or a discussion by Hillary Clinton is—I‘ve got people out here who‘d been engaged in this campaign, they want to be part of supporting you.  How are you going to open the door to let them come in?  I‘ve already said I‘m going to be with you.  How do we meld that?  How do I get my people to come with you?  How do you get your people to come with me?  That‘s an important piece.

I think, I applaud Senator Obama for going to Senator Clinton‘s house.  That‘s a big deal.  Whatever anybody is, I think it‘s a big deal and it‘s the right thing for him to do.  And there will be things that she will be able to do to show the world that they can make the kind of ticket that‘s going to be a winner in November, whether she‘s vice presidential candidate or not.  As two leaders, they can make a difference on behalf of the people of America.

ABRAMS:  Josh Green, as someone who has covered the Clinton campaign for a long time, is this a tough meeting for Hillary Clinton?

GREEN:  Oh, undoubtedly.  I mean, I think it would be a tough meaning for any candidate in this position, of having run such a strong race and come up just short at the end.  But, you know, it took her a while to get here but I think that, you know, she and he are both eager to speed this process up.

Obviously, this is subject of tremendous media fascination, you know, and until there‘s some kind of rapprochement, you know, they‘re going to continue to be kind of wall-to-wall coverage of this.  So, I think, this is just an important next step in getting toward that eventual scene where she raises up his hand and endorses him, and I think that will probably come in the next few days.

ABRAMS:  All right.  We‘re going to take a break.  We‘re going to continue with our coverage of the breaking news that Hillary Clinton and Senator Barack Obama are meeting at this moment at Senator Clinton‘s home in Washington, D.C.  We‘re also going to have an interview with Barack Obama, coming up in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  We have got breaking news to report.  You are looking at a live picture of the home of Hillary Clinton where she is expected to be meeting with Barack Obama sometime tonight.  It was a meeting that no one in the press corps knew about.

In fact, the Obama press corps is in the air, as we speak.  I think they did, as I mentioned before, a bit of a “bait and switch” on that press team.  They did not know that Senator Obama would not be on the plane.  The next thing they hear is that Senator Obama is actually staying behind to meet with Senator Hillary Clinton.

NBC‘s Andrea Mitchell is covering the Clinton campaign for us.

Andrea, look, you‘ve gotten to know this campaign, you know Hillary Clinton, what does she want, do you think, from this meeting?

MITCHELL:  I think she wants some respect.  I think she wants to take care of her issues and they‘re not very far apart on policies for all of the talk of differences over health care, and mandates, things like that, the kinds of things she talked about on Tuesday night, they are not far apart on that.  There isn‘t that much distance.

But, clearly, she wants some role, some large role, given the number of votes that she had, she would have a speech at the convention, timing, and the size of her role would clearly be involved.  They could talk about all of the leaking and suggestions and trial balloons coming from the Clinton camp and some of her supporters who may or may not have been authorized talking about petition drives to get her to be chosen as vice president.

That kind of pressure is, according to Obama people, clearly not warranted, not desirable, and the Clinton team moved to quiet it down and put out a statement earlier today saying that, obviously, it‘s his choice and that she is not seeking the vice presidency.

ABRAMS:  Representative Tubbs Jones, do you think that Hillary Clinton has to reassure Barack Obama that she does not mean any disrespect on Tuesday night, do you think she even has to say that?

TUBBS JONES:  You know what?  I hope Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are talking about things other than what you all are speculating about.  I‘m confident that they moved on.  They are, if they are -

ABRAMS:  What are they talking about?  Where they are going to order in from?

TUBBS JONES:  No.  They might saying—how their families are doing, what‘s going on with your life, are you going to have time to break down—give them the opportunity to focus on something -

ABRAMS:  Don‘t worry.

TUBBS JONES:  Wait.

ABRAMS:  Here‘s one thing.  I promise they‘re not watching TV right now and they‘ve got plenty of time to focus, they‘re not paying attention to us.

TUBBS JONES:  Understand this—you all are rushing this process.  They‘ve been going head-to-head for 15 months.  It‘s more of a cool-off process, then you want to make it and you should give them time.  This is the beginning of meetings.

I‘m confident they‘re going to have a whole lot of meetings.  They may be laying out a plan of where, what are we going to talk about and when.  What is this issue?  What is that issue?  Who are we going to use as point people?  All of those kinds of things.

I‘m so excited that they are meeting, I‘m thrilled, and I‘m so happy that none of us are in the room and hopefully none of us will ever know what they‘re talking about.

ABRAMS:  I didn‘t mention to you, Representative Tubbs Jones, we actually have a camera placed in there that we‘re going to be -

TUBBS JONES:  I‘ll bet you do.

ABRAMS:  We‘re going to be doing live coverage of the -

TUBBS JONES:  Yes, I know, you - and you know what?

ABRAMS:  I‘m just kidding.

TUBBS JONES:  On another channel, somebody believes you do.

ABRAMS:  That‘s a joke, everyone.  There‘s no lack of clarity.

All right.  Representative Wexler, I would assume, again, from the Obama perspective here, he‘s got to be careful though, I mean, he‘s got to be careful exactly what he says—and I don‘t mean because he can‘t trust Hillary Clinton, but I mean, in terms of promises that he makes, in terms of assurances that he can give her, right?

WEXLER:  I think Andrea Mitchell in her description was quite accurate.  When Senator Obama said, “You will know my thoughts and my objective with respect to the vice president,” when he speaks about it.  I spent three days on the bus with Senator Obama and his team in Florida.  Senator Obama is the most remarkably disciplined and confident man I have ever met, and his team around him reflects that type of point of view.  They are calm, they‘re reflective, they are confident.  And he will deliberately go through with Senator Clinton the things that need to be talked about in a formal way and informal way, and I think it will be a very successful meeting.  And I think all Democrats should be thrilled that they‘re having it.

ABRAMS:  Andrea, do we know, is this intended to be informal?

MITCHELL:  Oh, sure.  And look, these are two professionals and they have a lot to talk about.  They‘ve got issues to talk about, they‘ve got campaign structure, finances, how the DNC is going to work, how the convention is going to work, what role she‘s going to play.  He told Brian Ross—Brian Ross, excuse me—Brian Williams.  I‘ve been up for two days. 

ABRAMS:  That‘s all right.  He probably told Brian Ross, too.

MITCHELL  He told Brian Williams in the interview yesterday that he wants to give Bill Clinton a role.  He repeated that on CNN tonight.  He said it on the press plane in one of his question-and-answer sessions with reporters tonight on the way back to Washington.  So he‘s got a lot that he says he wants to do with the Clintons.  He‘s been showing them the utmost respect.  I don‘t think anyone from the Clinton team can say that he has not been gracious in the last few days.

ABRAMS:  We are going to continue.  We‘re going to continue with our breaking news coverage of an Obama and Clinton meeting tonight in Washington D.C., one that certainly we did not know about, at the home of Hillary Clinton.  This story has just broken within of the last half hour and our picture has just faded in the last 30 seconds.  And we‘ll be back in a minute with our continuing coverage.  We‘ll also going to have an interview with Barack Obama coming up. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

ABRAMS:  We‘re continuing with our breaking news coverage.  We have learned in the last half hour that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are expected to meet tonight according to a senior Obama adviser, the meeting tonight was expected to happen at Hillary Clinton‘s Washington, D.C. home.  But Ron Allen is there outside of Hillary Clinton‘s home in Washington and joins us now. 

Ron, what do you know? 

RON ALLEN, NBC NEWS:  Well, we don‘t know a lot.  There are a number of people who have been here for several hours and have seen some staff and some other visitors come and go, but not Hillary Clinton.  The house is on the ends of a cul-de-sac.  I have no idea what‘s happening behind the house.  Not to make it too cloak and dagger, but there is a possibility that she may have left through the back door and is off to meet Obama somewhere else.  I don‘t know that that‘s the case, but you know, I wouldn‘t be surprised if she wants privacy and she doesn‘t want a whole media scrum surrounding this whole thing. 

But the house is quiet, and we‘re waiting.  And of course there are a number of Secret Service people around here.  There are a number of vehicles around here, vehicles that Clinton came with earlier in the day, and we‘ll see.  My guess is that they want to meet somewhere privately, and my guess is also that Barack Obama wants to get control of the situation. For the past 48 hours or so there‘s been a flurry of (INAUDIBLE) and people saying things, and this vice president thing is hanging out there, and what does Hillary want.  And I think he probably wants to sit down and look her in the eye, and say, look, we‘ve got to control the situation.  We‘ve got to work together.  We‘ve got to get on the same page.  And that‘s what I would think they want to talk about. 

ABRAMS:  All right, Ron Allen, thanks very much.  We may check back in with you later in the hour.  If you have any other news for us, we‘d appreciate it.  We will continue to follow this story throughout the hour.  Hillary Clinton is prepared, though, to endorse Obama this weekend. 

The question that a lot of people are asking, is whether her more than 18 million supporters, as Representative Tubbs Jones pointed out a moment ago, are going to follow. 

So the question is, how many of them will actually abandon Obama and vote for John McCain.  Well, a new CBS poll suggest the Obama camp has some cause for some concern.  Twenty-two percent of Clinton supporters say they‘ll vote for McCain over Obama, and another 8 percent say they‘ll just stay home.  Those numbers are obviously no secret to the McCain camp, and McCain himself seemed to be trying to woo Hillary voters during his speech Tuesday night. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  The media often overlooked how compassionately she spoke to the concerns and dreams of millions of Americans, and she deserves a lot more appreciation than she sometimes received.  I‘m proud to call her my friend. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  All right, so suddenly John McCain is best friends with Hillary Clinton.  Of course he puts out attack ads against her earlier in the campaign.  But will McCain really be able to steal many Clinton supporters, even after she endorses Obama.  Still with us is Ohio Congressman Stephanie Tubbs Jones, Florida Congressman Robert Wexler, Roy Sekoff of the “Huffington Post,” and joining us now is Republican strategist Brad Blakeman, who worked for President Bush. 

All right, Brad, let me start with you.  Do you think that John McCain really has a good shot of getting a significant portion of Hillary Clinton voters? 

BRAD BLAKEMAN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST:  Well, he certainly has a shot.  I mean, without even making an attempt to woo him, we know that a quarter of Hillary supporters say they would support John McCain.  That‘s over four million people right there.  So John McCain sees the handwriting on the wall, he‘s reaching out to these people, and if he can move some of those the Democrats over to his side, it‘s going to be very helpful, a must, especially with those blue-collar workers.  Representative Tubbs Jones, look, you‘ve been a longtime Clinton ally.  You‘ve been supporting her throughout the process.  Is there any concern, you know, you look at the exit polls, and a number of the indicate that lot of Clinton supporters say they won‘t vote for Barack Obama. 

TUBBS JONES:  You know what, that‘s what I‘ve been trying to make clear to you all along.  This is a process.  Three days ago we were in the midst of a huge campaign.  Now we‘re coming out of it.  In the process of Hillary and Barack talking and Hillary talking to her people, people will come to a different position.  People are emotional.  They‘re hot right now about the results.

But I believe this, just like policy sits up on oil—on water like oil, it‘s going to take time for those drops of oil to work their way down to the people who they direct, and I believe it‘s going to happen. 

ABRAMS:  I heard about water and oil.  We heard earlier with Roy Sekoff about lobster and tacos.  All of these things that wouldn‘t think go together suddenly being brought up. 

Let me ask you—Representative Wexler, let me ask you this, this is from the exit polls in Pennsylvania, a crucial, crucial swing state, much like your own state of Florida.  In that state, 42 percent of Hillary Clinton supporters said they would not vote for Barack Obama.  Is that a concern on the part of the Democratic Party? 

WEXLER:  My colleague was correct.  These exit polls were taken in the context of a very competitive primary.  Let‘s see what happens after Saturday, after Senator Clinton warmly embraces Senator Obama as the presidential candidate nominee for the Democratic Party.

And let‘s now look at issues.  So many of the people that support Senator Clinton, the women are passionate about a woman‘s right to choose.  Senator McCain opposes a woman‘s right to choose.  Senator Obama, of course, is like Senator Clinton in supporting a woman‘s right to choose.  Those woman aren‘t going to throw away all of the things they have fought for all their life.  They‘re going to join up with the Obama camp.

And likewise, many of my constituents in Florida, when they learn that Senator McCain supports the privatization of Social Security, they won‘t have anything to do with him. 

ABRAMS:  All right, so, Brad Blakeman, it sounds like what Representative Wexler is saying is your guys aren‘t going to be able to get his state, and they‘re certainly not going to be able to—that Floridians, a crucial swing state and Stephanie Tubbs Jones is also from a crucial swing state of Ohio, both of them are saying to you, Brad Blakeman, sir, there is no chance that the Hillary Clinton supporters are going for your guy? 

BLAKEMAN:  Wishful thinking.  You know, we‘re going to remind people in Florida, we‘ll remind people in Michigan how the Democrats sought to disenfranchise their vote.  When they say every vote should be counted, they don‘t mean it.  They meant half a vote.  And they‘re a lot of people still angry at the Democratic Party in crucial states like Michigan and Florida.  We‘re going to remind people of that.

SEKOFF:  Dan, this is absolute nonsense. 

WEXLER:  yes, that‘s nonsense. 

ABRAMS:  Let me let Roy in.  Roy, quick thought—I want to get Representative Wexler back.  But go ahead, Roy.

SEKOFF:  It is nonsense.  John McCain has a 25-year history of a reactionary record on reproductive rights, and the war an on taxes.  There‘s no way that a Democrat who give her heart and soul to Hillary Clinton would turn around and vote for John McCain.  I mean just because I courted a girl and she rejected me, I‘m not going to then start to want to date her grandmother.  It‘s not going to happen, Dan. 

ABRAMS:  Let me remind you that good old George Bush peeled away 8 percent of Democrats to vote for him.  So when you have Democrats coming out and saying by huge numbers that they‘re going to look at John McCain, that means trouble for the Democrats on the Democratic side. 

SEKOFF:  They‘ll look at it, but they won‘t like what they see. 

ABRAMS:  Final thought, yes.

TUBBS JONES:  The thing I would like to be able to say is, though that you take a look, but it doesn‘t mean you‘re going to choose. 

ABRAMS:  Well, they‘re taking a look.

TUBBS JONES:  They might look, but they‘re not going to choose.  And more importantly even though they say they won‘t vote for him, we have to go after the people and make sure they stay.

ABRAMS:  All right, I‘ve got to take a break here.  Roy Sekoff and Brad Blakeman, thanks very much.  And Representatives Wexler and Representative Tubbs Jones, thanks a lot for taking the time today.  Really, really appreciate it.  Very interesting and a lot of fun. 

Coming up next, we‘re going to continue with our breaking news coverage of the meeting between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton tonight.  Also, up next:  What was Obama thinking as he became the presumptive nominee? 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRES. CANDIDATE:  When I started thinking about my grandmother, that‘s when it hit me, because she‘s somebody who has poured all of her hopes and dreams into more, worked tirelessly all her life. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  More of NBC‘s interview with Barack Obama coming up.  We‘re back in 60 seconds. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  On this day, 40 years ago tonight, June 5th, 1968, Robert F. Kennedy was killed by an assassin‘s bullet.  Just hours earlier he gave his final interview to NBC right before he would learn he had won the Democratic primary in California. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERT F. KENNEDY:  I think that when I‘ve—I think the great divisions in the country at the present moment are between those who are less affluent, our black citizens and Mexican-Americans, and those who are poor, whites and the rest of the United States.  They feel that they have been disenfranchised or that they have no association or identification with the United States government or society. 

QUESTION:  Assuming you win in California, what do you plan to do? 

KENNEDY:  I‘m going to have some meetings with some people who have been around the country and I‘m going to make an effort with some of these other states. 

I think that the primaries clearly indicate that the Democratic Party and I believe the United States wants to move in a different direction than they have over the period of the last three years. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  We‘ll be back with our continuing breaking news coverage of the Obama-Clinton meeting occurring tonight. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  We are continuing with our breaking news coverage, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton meeting tonight in Washington D.C.  A senior Obama adviser telling NBC News it will be, or has been, at the home of Hillary Clinton.  This a surprise meeting, no announcement.  In fact the press corps covering Barack Obama in the air by the time they figured out that Barack Obama had stayed behind, presumably to meet with Hillary Clinton. 

Earlier today Barack Obama was at a rally in Virginia. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  I am here to report that my faith has paid off, and I stand before you as the Democratic nominee for president of the United States of America. 

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  And Obama now pivoting to his match-up with John McCain.  NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams sat down with Obama, and asked what it feels like to be the nominee, how his family‘s reacting to all of it, and just how Obama plans to run against McCain. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRIAN WILLIAMS, NBC NIGHTLY NEWS ANCHOR:  What was it like for you, the part we couldn‘t see, the flight to St. Paul with your wife knowing what was awaiting?

OBAMA:  Right now it still feels like part of the campaign process, and I know that I‘ve got five months to go, but I will say when I started thinking about my grandmother, that‘s when it hit, because she is somebody who has poured all of her hopes and dreams into me, worked tirelessly all her life.  She can‘t come because she can‘t travel.  She‘s got a bad back, and left a message on the phone saying she was proud of me.  That was probably what hit hardest during...

WILLIAMS:  And you had to be thinking of your mother and father and relatives long gone and every one in the past? 

OBAMA:  Yes, and probably the most powerful story I heard was at a conference a woman came up to me, she said her son teaches in an inner-city school in San Francisco and said that he has seen a change in behavior among the young African-American boys there in terms of how they think about studies, and those are the kinds of things that I think make you appreciate that it‘s not about you as an individual, but it‘s about our country and the progress we‘ve made. 

WILLIAMS:  Did your daughter seem to grasp the extent of this endgame? 

OBAMA:  You know, I don‘t think my daughters pay too much attention to this stuff.  They know daddy is out there and he‘s running for president, and surprisingly enough, the 9-year-old, she knows about superdelegates...

WILLIAMS:  She‘s knows what presumed nominee is. 

OBAMA:  She knows what presumed nominee is. 

WILLIAMS:  And although for you it‘s been at a high cost for a dad who loves his two girls, 10 days at home last year, is that an accurate figure?

OBAMA:  That‘s an accurate figure of how many days I was home full-time with them.  I was probably home evenings to tuck them in, having already missed dinner, or them practicing the piano or doing all of things that dads and their daughters like to do.  I was probably there a little more than 10 days during the last year, but that‘s about as many days as I got to spends with them where we just had the day off to goof off. 

WILLIAMS:  And your wife came up on stage with you, and in an otherwise private moment attempted to give her husband a fist pound the way a lot of Americans do, the way a lot of couples do, the only problem was it was an inside move shared in front of 17,500 people in the arena, and millions watching at home.  It‘s the most talked about fist pound on the Internet today. 

OBAMA:  It is a great picture.

WILLIAMS:  It is a great shot. 

OBAMA:  It is a great shot.  And It captures what I love about my wife, which is that there‘s a irreverence about her and a sense that for all of the hoopla that I‘m her husband, and sometimes we‘ll do silly things, and yet you know, she‘s proud of me, and she gives me some credit once in a while that I actually pull some things off. 

WILLIAMS:  In an election that, who knows, could turn on national security, how do you go up into a debate on national security with a man with the service record John McCain has, from the Academy to Naval aviator to five plus years as a POW, some in solitary confinement. 

OBAMA:  Well, I think the one thing you do immediately is take knowledge of that extraordinary service to our country.  And I do so in every speech I make.  John McCain is a genuine American war hero.  He has endured things that you and I, Brian, can barely imagine.  And so I would never challenge his credentials, his patriotism, his service to our country.  I challenge the wisdom of his policies and where he wants to move the country forward. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ABRAMS:  Coming up, we are hoping for an update on the breaking news tonight that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are meeting, have met, are about to meet in Washington, D.C. At Hillary Clinton‘s home.  I‘ll have more information in a moment. 

Many say Hillary Clinton just wants to be Obama‘s vice president to help her become president next time around.  Well, history shows it won‘t necessarily help.  In the past century, only two vice presidents were elected president, George H.W. Bush and Richard Nixon.  Throughout that time an unlucky seven vice presidents, most recently Al Gore, lost in presidential elections. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  You are looking live at the Washington, D.C. home of Hillary Clinton.  The reason?  Because we have learned tonight that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are expected to meet at Hillary Clinton‘s home.  When we say expected to meet, we don‘t know if they‘ve already met, if they‘re planning to meet, et cetera. 

The problem, that there have been television crews in front the home since 6:00 a.m. and no one has seen anyone come in the front door, meaning that either they went in the backdoor and had their meeting there, they haven‘t had that meeting yet, or they‘re meeting somewhere else.  But a senior Obama official confirming to NBC News tonight that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are meeting tonight.  And what the media are describing as an unplanned meeting, because if the media didn‘t know about it, then as far as we‘re concerned, it‘s unplanned. 

All right, time for the P.O.‘d Box, your chance to tell me what you hate or love about the show.  Last night we covered the breaking news of Hillary Clinton suspending her campaign, but some are still P.O.‘d she didn‘t drop out sooner, and think her non-concession speech Tuesday night should cost her the VP nod at least. 

Len Kloeber writes, “Hillary‘s latest power grab to be the VP shows her true colors.  Despite her defiant speech about supporting the common people, she has the audacity to ask the factor workers, waitresses, the miners, et cetera, to pony up the money to pay off her campaign debt.  She should go back to the Senate.”

Well, then on the issue of directing folks to her Web site Tuesday, I agree with you on that one.  I thought it was kind of tasteless. 

Newman Dalton from Seattle says, “Obama is not bothered by Clinton‘s speech.  Obama‘s supporters are.  I am an Obama supporter and yes, I am upset, but if I set my feelings aside, I hope she is the VP.  She would be the sneaky, political “yin” to his above-the-fray, hopeful “yang.” 

Tony Davis from Bloomingdale, Illinois takes a shot at me:  “You are such a wimp!  On Wednesday evening‘s show, Hillary‘s campaign adviser “barked” back at you and you totally melted.”

No, Tony, what I told her was that I agreed with her.  Can I agree with her without melting? 

Lisa‘s upset about our coverage of the Obama/Clinton ticket possibility—“Dan, quit beating a dead horse.  Obama owes her nothing after all of the nasty, childish garbage she has continued to say about the man.  He won, Dan, he won.

Lisa, I thought he wins after he wins the general election, which she might help him win.  I don‘t know, I guess I‘m wrong.

That‘s all the time we have for tonight.  Thanks for watching.  We will see you back here tomorrow.

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

END   

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