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Like In 2008, Ex-Pa. Governor Says Clinton Will Win State's Democratic Primary

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

We are hearing a lot this hour about Bernie Sanders.

LOURDES GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

The Democratic presidential candidate has won many states. He still trails Hillary Clinton in the delegates that decide the nomination though.

INSKEEP: As five eastern states vote today, we hear this hour from Sanders' only backer in the Senate.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: We've also been talking with a Clinton supporter who has plenty to say about Sanders. Ed Rendell is Pennsylvania's former governor. He's also a superdelegate. Those are party officials who get a big voice at the convention. Thank you so much for talking to us.

ED RENDELL: My pleasure.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: You've endorsed Hillary Clinton. You campaigned for her, I think, the last time she ran for president back in 2008. She had a very important win in Pennsylvania that year. Do you think she will do as well this time around?

RENDELL: Well, you know, we won by 200,000 votes over Barack Obama. And it was really a turning-point election that got Hillary back into the race in '08. This time I'm pretty certain she'll win. But by how much, I don't know. And I don't know if she'll exceed our '08 total.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Well, I mean, part of the issue - Isn't it - That the economy is very different this time around. There's a lot of anger. You know, if you think about the communities in western and central Pennsylvania, there are a lot of former steel mill workers, coal miners. Won't that area be fertile ground for Bernie Sanders?

RENDELL: Well, it might've been. Although, a lot of those angry Ronald Reagan Democrats, they reregistered as Republicans to vote for Donald Trump. And I think most of them would have been Bernie Sanders voters had they stayed in the Democratic Party.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Let's look ahead then. Let's assume that Hillary Clinton wins the nomination. How easy is it going to be for her to win over those kinds of voters?

RENDELL: It's going to be tough because Trump is delivering a very simple message. And simple messages appeal to people who are angry. So I think he'll get a significant number of white, blue-collar, middle-state Democrats. But for every one of those that he gets, Hillary Clinton will pick up at least two suburban Republicans.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: I'm curious about your thoughts about the controversies going forward. She's been hit by Bernie Sanders over the email issue. You've criticized the campaign, saying that they handled the issue horribly. What do you think now?

RENDELL: I think they did handle the issue terribly at the beginning. I think almost no one is going to go to the polls thinking about the emails. The speeches in Wall Street, do I wish in retrospect she hadn't made them? Probably, yes. But I've - Since I left the governor's office, I get paid for making speeches all across the country. Now, not $225,000 a speech, but...

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That's a lot of money.

RENDELL: Look, the seminal question on the speeches was the question that Dana Bash asked Bernie Sanders in the debate before the New York primary. And he said, could you give us one example of where Hillary Clinton taking money from Wall Street affected her vote? And Bernie Sanders couldn't cite one example. And that's all she wrote.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: But I think one of the central issues is the transcripts. If there's really nothing to be ashamed of, why won't she release the transcripts? Should she?

RENDELL: Well, I'll tell you why - Because she assumed they were private. She didn't say anything - Listen, guys, thanks for the money. When you need something, I'll be there. Of course she didn't say anything like that. But she may have said - Given an off-the-record opinion about some people that she wouldn't want repeated in public. And I can understand that.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: What are the other issues that Pennsylvanians are looking at right now that aren't jobs and the economy?

RENDELL: Well, I think Pennsylvanians are fairly representative of the rest of the country. Jobs and the economy are number one. The need to repair the infrastructure is number two. Improvements in the health care system - Those are all significant issues. I think in African-American areas, the criminal justice system is a huge issue.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: You are a superdelegate. There's been a lot of criticism on both sides about how this system works. But it seems inherently unfair and undemocratic. Donald Trump has complained. Bernie Sanders has complained. Do you think the superdelegate system is fair?

RENDELL: I think there's a place for it. But I think it should be modified. But it's interesting. The Sanders folks hated us, the superdelegates, back in February. And now Hillary Clinton is clearly going to have the most number of elected delegates. She's clearly going to win the total popular vote. And what are the Sanders people saying? Their road to victory is the superdelegates. You can't bash us in February and woo us in April.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Well, I want to talk about Bernie Sanders. He gave an interview actually in your state. And he said regarding supporting Hillary Clinton - If she is the nominee, he said I will do everything I can to make sure that someone like Donald Trump does not become the president of the United States. But he did stop short of actually saying he will support her. Do you think that we'll see these two candidates come together?

RENDELL: I think Bernie Sanders will help and endorse Hillary Clinton. Unfortunately, some of the things he's said have made that endorsement a little less valuable because the Republicans are going to put a commercial on the next day quoting Bernie Sanders and probably using his voice to repeat some of the things he said about Secretary Clinton.

But what's done is done. And I think Bernie Sanders can make a coagulant argument. Look, I had my doubts about Secretary Clinton. And I expressed them honestly on the campaign trail. But when it comes to a comparison of having her as president or Donald Trump as president, that's an easy call. It's an easy call because of the Supreme Court. It's an easy call about improving the minimum wage. It's easy call on changing our health care system. That's a way for Bernie Sanders to frame his endorsement.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Thank you so much for talking to us.

RENDELL: Thanks, guys.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Ed Rendell is the former governor of Pennsylvania. He's a Democrat. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.