Meredith Vieira: Does Hillary Worry She Could Be Obama 'Spoiler?'

NBC's "Today" show added its voice to the chorus of "Get Out Hillary!" chants as its co-host Meredith Vieira asked Clinton's campaign chairman if the New York senator worried that "she could become a spoiler, the longer she stays in the race?"

Vieira attempted different variations of the "When will Hillary get out?" line with Terry McAuliffe on Thursday's "Today" show as she pressed:

VIEIRA: "Is there any light at the end of the tunnel or is it a train headed your way?...But Obama right now has the math, he has the momentum. What does she have left?...There is no way she will carry this to the convention then? Absolutely none?

After an Andrea Mitchell set-up piece that was headlined: "Should Hillary Clinton Drop Out?" Vieira conducted the following interview with McAuliffe on the May 8, "Today" show:

MEREDITH VIEIRA: Terry McAuliffe is Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman. Terry, good morning to you.

TERRY McAULIFFE: Good morning, Meredith.

VIEIRA: We had a little chat before we went on the air and I was teasing you, I said to you, is there any light at the end of the tunnel or is it a train that's headed your way? Which is it?

McAULIFFE: Listen we have, as you know, about seven million more registered Democrats who go to the polls over the course of the next three-and-a-half weeks. Still 500 delegates yet to be chosen. Listen we got a lot way to go. West Virginia, she's up in the polls. Kentucky, she's way up in the polls. In the past--

VIEIRA: But Obama right now has the math, he has the momentum. What does she have left?

McAULIFFE: Win the popular vote, as I say. I think we'll have a big win in West Virginia, a big win in Kentucky. She's proven she can win the blue collar workers, she can win the states we need to win in the general election. But why should Hillary Clinton, until there's a nominee with the number of necessary delegates, why should she get out? We've never asked any other potential contender to get out before someone has the magic number. Why is Hillary Clinton different? We ought to go on, let the voters decide. And then after June 3rd, I think this will come to a conclusion.

VIEIRA: But even one of her biggest supporters, Terry, Senator Feinstein, who says she remains loyal to Hillary Clinton, is wondering. She wants to talk to Mrs. Clinton to find out what her strategy is.

McAULIFFE: She ought to talk to Hillary today. I mean Hillary was on the Hill yesterday. She met with a bunch of superdelegates. We're gonna get some more superdelegates this week. She got Congressman Heath Shuler, former pro football quarterback, came out for Hillary yesterday. She's available [to] anybody who wants to talk to her. But we still have, as I say, seven million registered voters to go. Yesterday, tens of thousands of people went to, gave money. We raised over seven figures on the Internet yesterday. They want this woman to go on and fight. She's been fighting for them. They feel she'll fight for them as President of the United States of America. We got a long way to go. Let's let the, let's let the voters decide not pundits.

VIEIRA: Does she believe Terry, does she believe that sexism has played a role in this, this race at all? And is part of her resolve to fight based on resentment about that?

McAULIFFE: Oh there's no resentment with Hillary Clinton. She knows she's gotten 16.6 million people who have supported her, who want her to go on. We want Michigan and Florida to be resolved. But you know there is a double standard that she has been held to. In the past, in 2000, 2004, '92, you go back, the race goes on until someone has the magic number to get the nomination. Nobody has that. So why is there a call for Hillary Clinton to get out? They want her to fight. And when one of them gets the magic number, then, you know what, then we'll have a nominee. But until that point, it's not up to the pundits, all these talk show hosts, it's up to the voters in these upcoming six states to say who they want to be President of the United States of America.

VIEIRA: Yesterday former Senator George McGovern, who had supported her for a very long time--


VIEIRA: --switched his support to Senator Obama, saying that by any practical test, he has the momentum and he also said it is time to unify the party. Does Senator Clinton worry that she could become a spoiler the longer she stays in this race?

McAULIFFE: Three-and-a-half weeks to go. I think that I've been one, been arguing all along, millions of new people registered to vote for the Democrats. They're coming out in record numbers. I was in Indiana, North Carolina, the crowds were huge, Meredith. This is energizing Democrats. It'll be over early June. I remind everybody that President Clinton didn't win the nomination 'til June of 1992. We all came together, had a historic win in 1992. We're gonna do it again. We've all said we'll be together at the end. If Hillary doesn't win, Hillary, President Clinton, myself, will be over there, helping Senator Obama. And likewise, Senator Obama will come together to help Hillary if she is the nominee. We'll all be together.

VIEIRA: Is there any possibility they would be together on a ticket? Would she accept a second place on a ticket with Obama?

McAULIFFE: Well I haven't talked to Hillary about that. But you know what, listen, you gotta remember, 35 million votes cast right now. It's about even. They both have brought some dynamics to this campaign. Sure, is it a possibility but they're both fighting for the top spot right now.

VIEIRA: And finally Terry, you're saying three-and-a-half weeks. There is no way she will carry this to the convention then? Absolutely none?

McAULIFFE: I think what will happen, after June 3rd, assuming Florida and Michigan are seated, I think the superdelegates are gonna very quickly within a week or two after June 3rd, I think it will be all over. I don't see it going to the convention. We'll have a nominee in June. But seven million people yet to vote. Let's let them vote. Everybody stay out of it. Let's let the voters in these upcoming states have a say in who the nominee ought to be. This is the greatest democracy in the world. Let's not stop it in the seventh game of the World Series.

VIEIRA: Alright, Terry McAuliffe, thank you very well.

McAULIFFE: Thanks, Meredith.

Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens is the Deputy Research Director at the Media Research Center.