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Will Clinton and Sanders be able to patch things up after bruising campaign?

Although the deep divides within the GOP have taken center stage in this election cycle, the Democrats have seen their own fair share of schism. As front-runner Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders prepare to compete for Kentucky and Oregon Tuesday, Judy Woodruff talks to Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., and Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky., about what to expect post-primaries.

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  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    We look ahead to tomorrow's primaries and divisions within the Democratic Party starting with Oregon.

    It's junior U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley is the only member of the Senate to endorse Bernie Sanders for president.

    And, Senator Merkley, we welcome you to the program.

    I want to say, all the…

    (CROSSTALK)

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Thank you.

    All of the delegate projections we see show that it's all but impossible for Bernie Sanders to have enough delegates to win this nomination. So, what do you know that they don't show?

    SEN. JEFF MERKLEY (D), Oregon: Well, it's certainly is uphill. And it would take two-thirds of the delegates or the votes for him to tie Secretary Clinton.

    But here's the thing. This is such an important conversation. Bernie is mobilizing the grassroots. He's exciting the base because of his clear vision that America is very much off-track and has to change in substantial ways to address the challenges for working Americans.

    And it needs to be possible for the citizens of Oregon and Kentucky and California and the Dakotas and New Jersey to weigh in and make their voices heard. If the party is going to come together, then it needs to respect everyone's opportunity to participate in the primaries.

    And these issues are going to continue to reverberate, because, fundamentally, America is off-track.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Well, I'm sure — and I have heard you say just, not just — well, as long as you have been supporting Senator Sanders, you said there is urgency to all this. You said we need big ideas.

    I'm sure that Secretary Clinton thinks she has got big ideas, too, and she agrees there is urgency about all this.

  • SEN. JEFF MERKLEY:

    Well, she has somewhat criticized Bernie for his big ideas, saying let's move in little pieces. And that — we are blessed with two terrific candidates on the Democratic side.

    And they have good hearts and good minds. And we're going to unify going into the convention and then going into November. But it's Bernie who's saying small changes don't address the fact that nine out of 10 Americans have not participated in the growing prosperity of America over the last four decades, that huge amounts of campaign cash are unacceptable, and we must radically change the corruption that has been enabled by Citizens United in our campaign system.

    It's Bernie who came out and said, Keep It in the Ground bill is essential. We have to quit doing contracts to sell off our fossil fuels that you and I own, as citizens. our citizen-owned fossil fuels can no longer be leased out for pennies on the acre.

    If we're going to help lead the world, we have to change direction and we have to change quickly to address this threat to our planet.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Well, how far, though, does Senator Sanders want to push this? I mean, you know that a number of Democrats, more and more of them, are saying, the longer he stays in, the more it hurts Secretary Clinton's chances in the fall.

  • SEN. JEFF MERKLEY:

    Well, they're really completely wrong.

    It's Bernie's campaign that is generating the grassroots network, the passion. That network is going to be very important to the victor in the Democratic primary. It's why everyone has to respect the other side. But after a week from Tuesday, when virtually every state will have weighed in, we will see a parallel to eight years ago.

    It is June 7 or 8 that then Senator Clinton said, I understand that I am not going to win this, we need to start bringing the two sides together. And they worked on doing that to set the stage for the convention. And I anticipate — I can't speak directly for the Bernie campaign on this, but I anticipate something similar, should Secretary Clinton have the majority of pledge delegates a week from Tuesday.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    So, you're saying you expect Senator Sanders to work with Senator Clinton by the end of these primaries?

  • SEN. JEFF MERKLEY:

    Yes, by the end of eight days from now.

    And it isn't that they will instantly come together. There is a negotiation that needs to take place. People who are part of the Bernie Sanders camp, should Clinton prevail, are going to need to know that she has heard them, she has listened to them, that she understands their frustration and shares in their desire to make some substantial changes in the direction our nation is going.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    And what does he do about those voters who have supported him who are telling pollsters they're going to look at Donald Trump in November?

  • SEN. JEFF MERKLEY:

    He can be the single most important voice in that regard, helping to bring folks together, if he is not the nominee.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    What do you mean?

  • SEN. JEFF MERKLEY:

    Well, if he doesn't win the nomination, those folks who have been supporting him are going to turn to him to see his insight on the partnership that's being crafted with Secretary Clinton's team, and that for him to vouch for that partnership would be the most essential element in bringing the two sides together.

    There are others of us who will work very hard to bring the two sides together, but the responsibility first and foremost will come with Secretary Clinton and with Senator Sanders.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Are you confident that they can come together before the convention?

  • SEN. JEFF MERKLEY:

    I am, because I know that, from the very beginning, Bernie Sanders has said, if he's not the nominee, he's going to make absolutely sure we don't end up with the situation like we did with Ralph Nader, where, essentially, we handed over an election to a Republican, a Republican who put our nation way off-track, that the nation can't afford that.

    And, certainly, all the goals that Senator Sanders has for improving our nation would not be served by that outcome.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon, we thank you.

  • SEN. JEFF MERKLEY:

    You're welcome. And thank you.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    And now we turn to Kentucky, where Hillary Clinton has been campaigning aggressively in recent days, hoping, of course, for a win there.

    Congressman John Yarmuth is backing Secretary Clinton. He's the lone Democrat in the Bluegrass State's congressional delegation.

    Congressman Yarmuth, good to see you. Thank you for being with us.

    REP. JOHN YARMUTH (D), Kentucky: Sure, Judy. Good to be with you.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    I don't know if you just heard Senator Merkley say that, yes, it looks like Senator Sanders will be able to sit down and work with Secretary Clinton if she has the most delegates after the end of these primaries, but he also said that Senator Sanders is going to fight for every vote he can until the end of this primary process.

  • REP. JOHN YARMUTH:

    Yes, well, I think that's fine.

    I think, ultimately, the real critical factor will be what they do after it is clear that Secretary Clinton will be the nominee and has won enough delegates. I don't really worry too much about the campaign rhetoric. I mean, nobody has said meaner things about a candidate in their own party than Republicans have done, and now they seem to be doing some kind of a marital ritual going on now.

    So, I think, ultimately, what happens after Hillary reaches that threshold of delegates is the most important thing. And then it will be — I think it will be truly up to Bernie Sanders to prove that this whole thing with the Democratic Party wasn't just a charade, that he actually wants to see Democratic values advanced in the fall.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Well, you say it's up to Senator Sanders. We just heard Senator Merkley say it's going to be up to Secretary Clinton to show that she cares about these issues, like big money in American politics, like too many Americans not benefiting from the economic growth we have seen.

  • REP. JOHN YARMUTH:

    You know, I was with her for five hours yesterday in Louisville. That's all she talked about.

    I think there is no question that she has met that test. She is clearly concerned about economic parity in the workplace, about minimizing the income and the wealth gap in this country. She has detailed policies on things like workplace fairness, paid medical leave, early childhood education, all the free community college education, debt-free college education.

    These are things that are clearly on her platform, and she talks about them every day. So, I don't think there is going to be much distance between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders once the rhetoric stops.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    What — Congressman Yarmuth, what does Secretary Clinton, though, need to do to appeal to the voters she's been struggling to win over a majority of? And I'm talking about the millennials, the younger voters.

    Those voters, it's remarkable, when you look at the exit polls of voters in the last few states that have held their primary votes, West Virginia, Indiana, Wisconsin, New York, the percentage of voters who say they don't consider Secretary Clinton trustworthy. What does she need to do to turn that around?

  • REP. JOHN YARMUTH:

    Well, she just needs to keep speaking frankly about her record, about the things that she cares about.

    And, ultimately, you know, we have got so much noise in this campaign. And I think the people who are listening to Bernie Sanders aren't listening to much else, just like the people who are listening to Donald Trump aren't listening to much else.

    I think, once it's a one-on-one race, you have the comparison of somebody who has basically double-crossed everybody he's come in contact with during his business career, and you have somebody who has worked steadily for four decades now to help the middle class and to help people get into the middle class, I think the choice will be very, very clear for all those people who are now so enthusiastic about Bernie.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    But don't you still have a pretty considerable amount of repair work to do between Secretary Clinton and Senator Sanders? I read just today a release from the senator's press office saying, we call on Secretary Clinton to some distorting the truth about Senator Sanders' record on supporting the automakers, people who work in the auto industry.

  • REP. JOHN YARMUTH:

    Well, again, this is the normal campaign rhetoric.

    And I think every candidate on both sides of the partisan divide are guilty of some exaggeration and stretching voting records and characterizing the other opponent. That's going to happen.

    But, again, the proof will be, once it's one on one, and Bernie Sanders faces that choice, and his supporters do, of whether Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump will be a better commander in chief, will be a better leader for working Americans, I don't think there is any question who they are going to be for.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Finally, very quickly, Congressman, do you think Secretary Clinton will win your state, Kentucky, tomorrow, and do you think she can win it in the fall?

  • REP. JOHN YARMUTH:

    Well, I think she will win tomorrow. She's won I think virtually every state where there has been a closed primary, where only Democrats can vote.

    Even in West Virginia, she carried the majority of Democrats who voted. Forty percent of the people who voted in the Democratic primary there weren't Democrats. In Kentucky, Democrats only can vote. She is very, very popular, she and her husband, in Kentucky. He carried the state twice.

    I think she can make it competitive in the fall. Clearly, it is going to be tough, tough sled for a Democratic candidate to win the electoral votes of Kentucky. But she has promised me she's going to try. She thinks she can make it competitive. And I'm going to be there helping her.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Congressman John Yarmuth, it's good to see you. Thank you.

  • REP. JOHN YARMUTH:

    Thanks, Judy.