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Illinois Rep. Emanuel Weighs In on Democrats

STEVE INSKEEP, host:

Let's get more now from Illinois Congressman Rahm Emanuel. He's a member of the House Democratic leadership. He is close to both Democratic presidential candidates, and he's on the line once again. Congressman, good morning.

Representative RAHM EMANUEL (Democrat, Illinois): Once again, Steve…

(Soundbite of laughter)

Rep. EMANUEL: …you sound like my parents.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Rep. EMANUEL: I didn't know I was bothering you. You're the one that called.

INSKEEP: Is that what they say? Rahm, we're glad you called once again.

Rep. EMANUEL: How are you doing this morning?

INSKEEP: I'm doing fine. I'm doing fine. Let me start with Mara Liasson's last point. Is Hillary Clinton, by trying to change the number of delegates needed to win, is she moving the finish line?

Rep. EMANUEL: Look, I think that, first of all, that's a question for Howard Dean to answer on how they're going to instruct both the Michigan and Florida delegates.

INSKEEP: The Democratic chairman.

Rep. EMANUEL: I do think that, you know, you have a process, you have the states that are remaining to be played out. But as I've always said, the voters are going to issue their verdict, and I think that's who's going to decide who our nominee is.

INSKEEP: You mean the popular vote is what should determine the way the delegates go?

Rep. EMANUEL: I think, you know, I'm being clear. I think that if you look at both nominees and you listen to what they said last night, I think as we have this process lay itself out in the next couple weeks, how the voters vote and how the delegates back up with issue the edict and how the - in a sense of what happens for the superdelegates. And I really…

INSKEEP: Although, forgive me, congressman, it's like you're telling me that whoever scores the most points wins. I'm trying to figure out how they're going to figure out who is on top.

Rep. EMANUEL: There's just - I believe that - I've always said this, May is going to be the crucial month. I think at the end of this month, we're going to have our nominee and we're going to have a united party. As - you look last night, John McCain, the nominee of their party, had an anemic turn out of voters. And what's worse, he got only 75 percent of the vote in North Carolina. Newt Gingrich has this long memo all about the Republicans all in disarray and losing it. They don't know how to change course.

INSKEEP: When you say…

Rep. EMANUEL: We - I think we're going to have a nominee at the end of this month, and I really do believe the party is going to be incredibly united. When you look out, we had a spirited campaign in both North Carolina and Indiana. We had record turnout.

INSKEEP: When you say, congressman, that you're going to have a nominee at the end of the month, that can mean one of two things. Either one of these candidates gives up, or you're saying by the end of the month, superdelegates like you are going to step forward and make a decision.

Rep. EMANUEL: Or you'll just have me back again and introduce me the same way, Steve.

(Soundbite of laughter)

INSKEEP: Which of those things do you think is going to happen?

Rep. EMANUEL: I think what's going to happen is we're going to have a nominee at the end of the process, because I think one of the candidates will acknowledge that - who's the winner here and unite as a party.

INSKEEP: Which comes to something that you told the New York Times last month. You said, quote, "The way the loser loses…"

Rep. EMANUEL: Yeah.

INSKEEP: "…will determine whether the winner wins in November." What do you mean?

Rep. EMANUEL: Because if you look at history, whether it was Ted Kennedy in 1980 versus Jimmy Carter in that primary, or Ronald Regan in '76 with Gerald Ford, and both of those candidates, how they lost their spirited primary affected the winner's ability to kind of move on and have an affective general election.

INSKEEP: It was too bitter, and in each case they lost.

Rep. EMANUEL: Not only did - no, I'm not worried about the bitterness. It's how they - whether they had the primary continue past the primary date. And my view is - and I do believe this, there is a very competitive process here, which is a good thing. We had a competitive process and we had record turnout. If it was dispiriting, we'd have low turnout. It was a record turnout, which means both candidates' voters came out, and that's a good thing. The party, I believe, how the loser loses - that is that they have essential role in uniting the party and getting it ready for the most important election we've had in 50 years. So how the loser loses will determine whether the winner can go on and win. When you look at history, if you stop the primary when the primary stops, that is a good thing. It has to happen in enough time so that we can get on to telling the differences that are fundamental between our desire for change and John McCain's desire to be George Bush's third term.

INSKEEP: Congressman, we've just got about 10 seconds, but do you know of any discussions or negotiations between these two campaigns over what they do in the next few weeks and how they do it?

Rep. EMANUEL: Well, yeah. I mean, both - you - they told you. I mean I think what you're going to see is some superdelegates pop in the next couple days for each campaign to show they have - or will attempt to show that they have momentum. They'll take the issue. Remember, this is for Barack. You know, basically, his last kind of good victory was - you got to go back to February 12th.

INSKEEP: And I've got to stop there. Congressman Rahm Emanuel, thanks very much.

Rep. EMANUEL: Thanks, Steve.

INSKEEP: Appreciate it. He's a member of the House Democratic leadership. You can get results at npr.org. This is NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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