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Spokesman Says Clinton Not Backing Down


As we just heard, Hillary Clinton says she plans to remain competitive, and to find out just how, we're joined by Howard Wolfson, the communications director for the Clinton campaign.

Welcome to the program, Mr. Wolfson.

Mr. HOWARD WOLFSON (Clinton's Communications Director): Thanks. Good to be with you.

NORRIS: So how do you make this argument to the superdelegates, that Hillary Clinton has now earned their support? It seems like last night's results takes some of the wind out of your strongest arguments, particularly this notion that she's the one who can win in the big states.

Mr. WOLFSON: Well, I think we've got to do a couple of things. We have a critically important contest coming up next week in West Virginia. Then we feel very strongly that the delegations from Florida and Michigan need to be seated. And then of course we are going to continue to make the case to voters and superdelegates that Senator Clinton is the candidate most likely to beat John McCain, based on the fact that we have consistently won the swing voters from 2004, blue-collar voters, Latinos and that if you look at polling today, we match up better against John McCain than Barack Obama does.

NORRIS: In some polls.

Mr. WOLFSON: No, the average of all the polls, actually, has us ahead of Barack Obama in Ohio, in Pennsylvania, in Florida, running ahead of Barack Obama against John McCain.

NORRIS: Now, you're campaign is pushing hard to seat those delegates in Michigan and Florida, but you could argue that Michigan and Florida, with each of these contests, becomes less important, that if the rules and bylaws committee decided to seat Michigan and Florida tomorrow, Barack Obama is still ahead in terms of the popular vote and the pledged delegates. Is that still the best path for Hillary Clinton to get to the nomination? Do Florida and Michigan still count?

Mr. WOLFSON: No, I don't think there is a single path. I think there are a number of different things that are going to have to happen. One of the things that are - is important to us is the seating of Florida and Michigan. If it's not important in an electoral context to Senator Obama, I hope he will agree to let them be seated, because certainly it's the right thing to do.

NORRIS: Your campaign has pointed out repeatedly that Barack Obama has a harder time attracting working-class, white, non-college educated voters. But what about the converse argument, that Hillary Clinton has had a tough time attracting black voters, a sizeable and reliable voting bloc for the Democratic Party?

Mr. WOLFSON: Well, look, I don't there's any question that Barack Obama has done extraordinarily well with African-American voters, to his credit. It is critically important for any Democrat to have the strong support of African-American voters. If Senator Clinton is the nominee, she will have to work as hard as she possibly can to reach out to supporters of Barack Obama and to bring them on her side. The polls that I've seen don't suggest that Senator Clinton is in any way disliked among African-Americans. She is, in fact, very much well liked. Yes, it is true that of the majority of - as you say, the majority of African-American voters have been strongly for Senator Obama. But that has not stopped us from asking for votes, and it certainly wouldn't stop us from continuing to do so if we were the nominee in November.

NORRIS: Now, you well know that some people are saying that the race is over and that your campaign is just slow to see that or is blind to that. What would be the signs for the campaign that it would be time to pull the shades, to call it quits?

Mr. WOLFSON: Well, look. I think if we stopped raising money, that would certainly be a signal. That has not happened, in fact, the opposite has occurred. You know, Senator Clinton's strong supporters want her to stay in. They are continuing to support her candidacy. I think that would be a sign.

NORRIS: Now, you said they stopped raising money, but Hillary Clinton had to get herself a sizeable loan?

Mr. WOLFSON: That is true, but she also rates the sizeable amount of money. We had the second best fundraising month that we've had in this campaign last month. We've raised enough a lot of money, and more money was needed in order to be competitive.

NORRIS: Howard Wolfson, thank you so much for talking to us.

Mr. WOLFSON: Thank you.

NORRIS: That's Howard Wolfson. He's communications director for the Hillary Clinton campaign. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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