CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
CNN Projects GOP Retains Control of House of Representatives
Aired November 6, 2002 - 23:59 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
AARON BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: It's not a surprise that you've been with us for the last six hours, but CNN now projects that Republicans, the Republican Party will keep control of the House of Representatives, one side of the main question on the table tonight, the balance of power has been decided. We can project that the Republicans will keep control of the House. I'm not sure that many people in their heart of hearts believed it would go the other way, but the true believers believe. That's why they're true believers. It didn't work out. The Democrats tonight in an awful lot of places. It was very tough to be incumbents, number one and there weren't that many seats in play, number two. So Republicans retain control of the House of Representatives and that part of the story tonight has been written as we approach midnight here in the east.
JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: You know, in a way it can be argued that the Democrats maybe didn't do this to themselves but the fact that they were complicit in these deals that were cut all over the country to leave in state after state, redistricting in a way so that the incumbents were protected. And as you said Aaron, that meant that there were very few seats that ended up being in play.
BROWN: It's just one of those things that is astounding to me. These are -- they are not just important jobs, they're great jobs, to be a member of Congress, a member of the Senate, and so few of them turned out in play to be competitive at all. You look on the bottom of your screen, and you see some of the vote totals go by in these congressional districts, and, you know, 67, 33. You see it all the time, 75, 25. It's just -- incumbency is a great deal.
JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: And it's gotten even more extreme because what's happened is during these redistrictings, each party pulls voters out of marginal districts into their districts. So that you see, not only that these guys win everything, and ladies, but they win by big margins which means they don't have to move to the center the way senators do. It becomes more polarized.
WOODRUFF: We have a projection we are prepared to make in the Senate. It's not a winner, but it's just as significant. And that is Mary Landrieu, the incumbent Democratic senator in Louisiana who needs 50 percent in order to avoid a runoff. CNN is projecting that she will not reach the magic 50 percent, meaning there will have to be a runoff in about three weeks from now. And that means the Republicans are going to pour everything into that state. And, you know, you may look at that and say, well, she's 46, 47 percent and her closest opponent was in the 20s, but she had three Republicans running against her. BROWN: You all them all up, and you're still at 53. And it -- we don't know that it'll come down to it. There are still -- I was looking at my notes here. There are still five or six Senate seats still in play, but it's certainly possible that it will come down to Louisiana as the state, the Senate seat that determines which party controls the House. And every reporter in this room, I guarantee you, will be begging to go to New Orleans to cover that. And the people in New Orleans will be more than happy to welcome everybody in, and for a month, a little less than a month, New Orleans and Louisiana will become the center of the American political world in a way that, at least, Jeff, I don't recall.
GREENFIELD: It is never -- we don't know that it's going to happen because if it breaks the other way, Republicans could have the Senate without that, and I guess Democrats could. But I think in my memory, there's never been a time when a single special Senate election would, in effect, be a nationalized election for the control of the Senate, and if you think money poured into the states, up to now, you want to run out and buy a television station in Louisiana, if this goes to a runoff that decides control of the Senate.
WOODRUFF: Because she can still spend money. The soft money, that was contributed to that campaign, was raised by that campaign, as I understand it, can still be spent through the end of the year. You can't raise anymore after tomorrow because that's the way the new campaign finance law works, but you can spend it through the year 2002. So.
BROWN: In any case, it does not appear she's going to get to 50 percent plus one, so one way or another, whether it ultimately is the balance of power or not ultimately the balance of power, they're still going to run it off for a month in Louisiana. And I'll gladly go down and cover.
GREENFIELD: If I am not mistaken, what the powers that be want to show now is the flow of this nationwide vote for the House of Representatives, which is in the Telestrator. Am I correct about that, gentlemen?
All right so if we let this rip -- we have spent enormous sums of money to show you this. Obviously, red is Republican. Blue is Democrat. Those of you who remember the 2000 vote, remember the Democrats controlled the coasts. Republicans controlled the heartland.
This is more sophisticated because it's district by district, and what we are seeing, which really is not much of a surprise, the mountain West solidly Democratic -- solidly Republican, I'm sorry. In the Northeast, Republicans in upstate New York. Democrats downstate New York. In Florida, you can see -- I'll circle that for you -- you can see that...
WOODRUFF: Jeff, can I interrupt you?
GREENFIELD: Yes, please. WOODRUFF: Is this going into the election or is this coming out of what we know so far because a lot of these we don't know. I assume this is coming into tonight?
GREENFIELD: This is tonight's vote.
WOODRUFF: This reflects tonight's vote. OK.
GREENFIELD: And what you really can see is this shows you district by district where the Democrats are in blue, where the Republicans are in red. What's really interesting about this is, if you overlaid this with where we were going in, you would see almost no change. Because you'd have to sort of find Connie Morella in Maryland to see where they've lost the seat. And you'd have to find one district where Democrats have lost the seat.
Notice the Democrats very strong -- I'm going to show you this through circles. They have been strong on the West Coast for the last 10 or 12 years. They have been strong in certain parts of the East Coast. And it is a map which reflects, I think, the fact that if you add these up in terms of districts, what you find is an enormously almost evenly divided country, in which almost nothing happened in the House, tonight.
BROWN: We thank our friends at Spatial Logic for helping us put the Telestrator together. I thought Spatial Logic was a way of thinking. It turns out it's a company. We thank them, nevertheless.
WOODRUFF: We have a surprising governor's race to call. And that is, here in the state of Georgia. This is a surprise because most people I know, and the experts we talked to thought that Roy Barnes, a Democrat, was going to hold on to this. But CNN is projecting that Sonny Perdue, the Republican challenger -- this means that all those visits by President Bush and all the effort that went into getting Saxby Chambliss elected to the Senate has spilled over and helped this little known outside of Georgia, Republican challenger to Roy Barnes. This is a surprise.
BROWN: I know the governor is surprised.
WOODRUFF: He certainly is.
BROWN: I know the governor is surprised. I think 24 hours ago, he felt pretty good about his chances. I don't know that -- someday we'll see the exit polling on this, but one of the issues, and it wasn't a main issue, but it was out there, was that Sonny Perdue wanted to hold a referendum on the flag. In the state of Georgia, there was, many of you will recall, controversy over the Confederate battle flag and how prominent a part it should play in the Georgia state flag. Governor changed that, made it a small part at the bottom part of the flag, and that's still an issue that's simmering, here. And in a close election, all issues matter a lot.
WOODRUFF: There were three Democrats elected governor in the South in 1998. It was Roy Barnes, here in Georgia. It was Don Siegelman in Alabama, who was considered to have a very tough race. And in...
GREENFIELD: Jim Hodges.
WOODRUFF: ... South Carolina, Jim Hodges. Jim Hodges, as we projected, has gone down to defeat. But this one, this was the one seat, governor seat, the Democrats were thought to hold on to.
I'm told that Roy Barnes spoke, just a short time ago to his -- Mr. Perdue. I'm sorry. Sonny Perdue spoke to his supporters, so let's listen to a little bit of what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SONNY PERDUE (R-GA), GOVERNOR-ELECT: About five minutes ago, I had a call from the president of the United States, George W. Bush. He wanted me to congratulate you, the people of Georgia. About two minutes ago, I received a call from Governor Roy Barnes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: We are sitting here with our mouths hanging open. I mean, we -- it was believed -- I mean, we bought the conventional wisdom and that was that Roy Barnes was sailing, not sailing, but that he was going to be reelected.
GREENFIELD: You know, any surprises left? This is the surprise. This is the one, I think, no one saw coming, even as late as yesterday.
BROWN: I don't think we're breaking any confidences here. At a point, last night, we were talking to the governor, and he certainly wasn't cocky about the fact that he was going to win, but he felt good. They thought he'd win by a couple, three points maybe. And it turns out, he was wrong. It's that simple.
It is one of a series of events that have happened over the last six hours that, when you bundle them all together, you say, this has been a very good night for Republicans. Not a slam dunk, clear the tables sort of night, but a very good night, and at the White House, they are, no doubt, smiling.
Their senior White House correspondent John King is still on the lawn, past the curfew of the lawn at the White House. It must be a good night.
JOHN KING, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: This is right, Aaron. You will notice the lights are out in the White House behind me. That is at the direction of Laura Bush. The outdoor lights go off at 11:00, no matter what. But we are still here because we can stay as long as the president is up.
And this president is up well past his bedtime, tonight, and there is a reason for that. Mr. Bush is quite happy with what he has seen, so far. And they are quite eager, here, as they look at the open senate races, still. What they see, so far, in the state of Colorado, what they see ongoing in the count in Missouri, what they have in the very early results in the state of Minnesota have this White House increasingly confident that, perhaps not in this early morning hour, as we speak, but by sometime tomorrow, the president, who had no coattails, when he was elected in a controversial election two years ago, will demonstrate dramatic coattails, tonight.
You saw the race in Georgia, the governor's race. The governor's race in South Carolina, a victory there. Not completely unexpected.
But it is the Senate races, and in holding the House that has this White House most happy. The president is still on the phone. Some of his top political aides are still around, bringing him fresh results. They are now increasingly confident that this president will defy history, not only keep the House in Republican hands, but also, capture the Senate.
Still a jump ball. Senior White House officials said a moment ago that they are looking at the few remaining open races, and they think they are seeing a trend on the races, the tight races, breaking Republican at the end. They like that very much, here.
And let me add this. As they celebrate here at the White House, a number of Democrats around town beginning to openly question the Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle. At the end of the session, they say Max Cleland lost in Georgia because of one issue, homeland security. Senator Daschle and Senator Joe Lieberman, both considering runs for president, would not compromise with the president because they were under intense pressure from labor unions not to give ground. Many Democrats already starting to question whether they should have compromised on that one, Bill, not allowed the president to travel the country and say, he needed allies in Washington to keep Americans safer.
BROWN: John, thank you. Our senior White House correspondent John King.
I think it was Bill Schneider, who, the other night, I said, what's your favorite part of the elections. And he said the recriminations. They are under way now.
They are partying a bit in New Orleans, tonight. Mary Landrieu didn't get what she needed, though. She needed 50 percent, and she didn't get it. She has stuck somewhere around 47 percent. But unlike most candidates who come in under 50 percent, she lives to fight another day. There's three weeks plus, from now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MARY LANDRIEU (D), LOUISIANA: Thank you all. First, let's congratulate Congressman Bill Jefferson.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: Mary Landrieu. Now, they go through -- this is what happens. You go through the whole list of everyone on the stage because everyone needs to be acknowledged. And everyone does need to be acknowledged in life, so.
GREENFIELD: It's like the Academy Awards with no band. You know.
WOODRUFF: I just want to make a quick point, before we go to Jon Karl, I think, in South Dakota. And that is, it's been pointed out, Sonny Perdue, first Republican elected governor of Georgia, since Reconstruction. So we are talking history, tonight. And history for the Republicans. History for President Bush.
I mean, breaking with precedent in every which way, so far. Picking -- we don't know how many seats they may or may not pick up in the House, but we do know that Republicans are going to hang on to the House. And as you just heard from John King at the White House that they're getting early signals that this is looking like a very good night, indeed. Although, Senate race is still in the balance.
GREENFIELD: It looks like that last poll, the CNN (UNINTELLIGIBLE) others that showed a shift to Republicans from Democrats may have well been right. That something happened over the weekend. Aaron, you think it may have been, let's stick with the president about to take us to war. The Democrats already saying there was no alternative argument. But something may well have happened because the trends are all going one way.
WOODRUFF: And you can't underestimate the importance of this. I mean, our dear friend and our boss, Walter Isaacson, who's a journalist of many years with "TIME" magazine before he came to run CNN, reminding me that we're not just talking about judicial appointments going through, as the president wants. We're talking about Supreme Court appointments. Some members of the Supreme Court may be ready, feeling more comfortable about retiring because they know that President Bush is going to name a more conservative person to take their place.
GREENFIELD: Although, we should say the Senate hasn't -- we don't know what's going to happen in the Senate yet. We're still waiting for these close races.
WOODRUFF: I'm just saying if.
BROWN: About an hour ago, I think it was about an hour ago, the House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt said, looking at the results, it's still early. It's an hour later, and it doesn't feel nearly as early now, as you look at the trends. Jonathan Karl, who covers the Congress for us is out in South Dakota covering the Senate race in South Dakota.
Jon, we have seen very few numbers, so tell us what you're hearing.
JONATHAN KARL, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're hearing, right now first of all, the House race out here in South Dakota, and there is only one member of the House in South Dakota, is a Democratic disappointment.
Behind me right now, Stephanie Herseth was the Democratic candidate, is one of Bill Schneider's fresh faces that he featured. She failed to defeat Bill Janklow, the current governor of the state.
As far as the Senate race goes, right now, the Democrat, Tim Johnson, the incumbent, Tom Daschle's man, holds a lead of about 2 percent. But they are just beginning to count the precincts in the western part of the state, which is the Republican part of the sate, so it's way too early to call.
Final votes probably won't be counted until about 2:00 Eastern time. And Tom Daschle is here in this complex, looking out at the rest of the country, seeing, so far, not a good night for Democrats, but they still think they have a chance to hold on to the Senate -- Aaron.
BROWN: Jon, thanks. It is, I think, unfair and probably impossible to ask a lot of questions with bands playing, so we won't. I think we have vote totals, now, in South Dakota. We can show you, as they are being counted.
Right now, honestly, this is about as big as it gets. A slight lead. Not a lot of votes in the state of North Dakota, and about 60 percent of them counted. And it's very, very close. And everyone said it was going to be very, very close. All the polls had it within the margin of error, two or three points, either way.
The president was out there, as recently as this weekend, in support.
WOODRUFF: Twice in the last four days or something like that.
BROWN: More trips, honestly, to South Dakota than a president's made in a lot of years. This was a surrogate match-up between the president and Tom Daschle, in many ways. And it is very close. And we'll just keep an eye on it. Jeff, your (UNINTELLIGIBLE) up here.
GREENFIELD: Jonathan was -- well, let's take a look at the Missouri boards. This is the most endangered Democratic incumbent, by most measures. Jean Carnahan who trails former Congressman Jim Talent, who almost was elected governor a couple years ago. Wanted to run for governor, again. The president said, please run for the Senate. He now holds a lead of 6 percentage points, with roughly two- thirds of the vote in.
BROWN: And at no point that I've seen this go by -- I may be wrong. At no point that I've seen this go by, has Ms. Carnahan, Senator Carnahan held the lead...
WOODRUFF: Not yet.
BROWN: Doesn't necessarily mean anything, but it's the kind of thing I write down, here, and...
WOODRUFF: But with 65 percent of the vote in... BROWN: Yes.
WOODRUFF: There's 35 percent left. That's all we're going to say.
BROWN: But we make no projections before their time. Right?
WOODRUFF: All right. That we don't. I don't know if we can bear to look at James Carville again with the trash can over his head. James, did you take it off? I don't know if there's a reason to take it off.
JAMES CARVILLE, CO-HOST, CROSSFIRE: I've got a bunch of phone calls telling me I actually look better with it on than I did...
PAUL BEGALA, CO-HOST, CROSSFIRE: James, you're going to have to go into the consultant protection program.
But I do want to pick up on something that Judy was talking about. Before, she mentioned Supreme Court nominees. This is all presuming, if in fact, the Republicans pick up. We have not heard yet from Missouri. We have not heard from Colorado. South Dakota, the Democrat looks like he's doing pretty good, but it's still very early there. And Minnesota. And it looks like we're heading for a runoff in Louisiana.
ROBERT NOVAK, CO-HOST, CROSSFIRE: You have heard from Missouri.
BEGALA: We have heard from Missouri. I'm sorry.
And if we don't, what does that mean? Bush. Politically, hats off to him, again. I think it's important for my side to give him credit. Put a lot at risk. Put his political cap out there. He stitched himself a pair of coattails, something he didn't have when he first became president. It also means that he's got to govern, and he's going to likely have Supreme Court nominees. He's going to have to do something to revive the economy. He's going to have move successfully in foreign affairs, and he'll have no Democrats to blame.
NOVAK: The point is there's a lot of stuff sitting on the Senate that Tom Daschle has not let move. That includes the anti-cloning bill, the faith-based initiative. Probably, he's going to have to move on a partial birth abortion bill. There's going to be more tax cuts. Not to mention the judges.
So I think it's not a question of, oh, my goodness, now that I've got the majority, what am I going to do? There's just a backlog of stuff that hasn't been done.
CARVILLE: I couldn't agree with you more. And I think one of the things that we're going to find out, and I'm not sure this is not a good thing. We're going to find out that elections, and in particular, election like this, has consequences to people that voted and people that didn't vote. We're going to get a lesson in the kind of power that the federal government has. We're going to get a lesson in what it means for one party to control (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
And we'll have to see which way this lesson goes, but all the people out there who say it doesn't matter or et cetera, et cetera, they're getting ready to be proven wrong in a really, really big way.
TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST, CROSSFIRE: Here's what's -- I think the result is going to be the president has a mandate, and I think he's going to use that mandate to prosecute a war in Iraq, the story that sort of slipped from the headlines, thanks to the sniper and the death of Senator Wellstone and then, the midterm election.
But there is a war coming. It is imminent. I'm convinced. I think there's a lot of evidence to support that theory. And I think it's going to happen -- certainly, it's going to begin to unfold in the next couple of months, and this puts the president in a much stronger position to orchestrate it.
BEGALA: And this election was not very much a referendum on whether it was the proxy issue or the homeland security bill, which was politically a master stroke for Bush. He didn't want to compromise on it.
When he wanted to compromise on education, he did. He threw vouchers overboard. Something very beloved to Republican conservatives.
But on this homeland security bill, he wanted the issue. This is legitimate. But he wanted the issue, not the accomplishment, so he could go around the country and say, Max Cleland disagrees with me on homeland security, but it was not a referendum on a war. But I think you're right (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
CARLSON: It was a referendum on foreign policy, though. And that's, I think, this is the distinction the Democrats missed. Democrats wanted an election run on domestic issues. They desperately did.
I agree with that. But it was about foreign policy.
NOVAK: You see, for those conservatives, like me, who are less than enthusiastic about making war with Iraq, I think there are other things for this administration to do besides fight wars all over the world. And one of them is to -- Judy Woodruff kids me about wanting cut taxes. But I tell you, this is a popular American issue. I mean, there is no question about it. And you may think it's the bad policy, but the American people out there -- they made a choice.
CARVILLE: You know what? They're going to get them. They're going to make this tax cut permanent. I suspect you are going to see a lot more, and they're going to be skewered in a direction that I'm not going to like. Look, there's no -- I'll be the first to tell you, we can't sit around here and say this doesn't have consequences.
It's going to have enormous consequences, and let's see which way they go. But for you who want more tax cuts, you're going to get a dividend tax cut. You're going to get elimination of the capital gains tax. You're going to get...
CARLSON: Wait a second. I'm still wondering and waiting for the Democrats to come out for a repeal of it.
CARVILLE: I think we're sitting with the most pro-corporate administration in history, and we're sitting here with, you know, these huge corporate scandals. We're sitting here in a weak economy, in a mismanaged economy. And the Democrats never articulated a case, and I think they're paying the price for that.
BEGALA: How many Democrats ran ads about Harvey Pitt, who resigned tonight, and he so badly mismanaged? Zero. How many talked about the fact that we had revelations in the last two weeks of the election suggesting that Bush, perhaps, committed insider trading? Zero. Democrats didn't go at the Republicans (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
CARLSON: Because they couldn't explain the story. What does it mean? Nobody could explain it. Couldn't explain it on CROSSFIRE. You couldn't explain it in ads.
NOVAK: Can we say, right now, that the Republicans have an ideology and philosophy. Sometimes, they are a little chicken in pursuing it, but we know what it is. We know what Republicans stand for. I think the Democratic Party, today, is a party in search of a philosophy, of an agenda and of an ideology.
CARVILLE: You are right, Bob Novak. You are so right. You are not just right, ideologically. You are right, politically. The Democratic Party is a party in search of anything. And you're right in (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
BEGALA: John King gave us this report from the White House that said some Democrats think that they should have gotten less (UNINTELLIGIBLE) with Bush. They should have given into Bush even more. The surrenderous (ph) wing in the Democratic Party is still not getting the lesson from tonight.
CARLSON: I think that's, from here on out, known as the French wing of the Democratic Party, and may it forever reign.
Back to you, Aaron Brown. The French wing.
BROWN: Thank you, guys. You guys got to quit while you're in agreement. It's just something to do. Thank you very much.
Here's where we are. We're waiting on South Dakota. It's very close, there. We're waiting on Minnesota. It's very close, there. Missouri is not so close, but we are certainly on that. Colorado Senate -- these are all Senate races -- we continue to wait for that. The trends, all night long, have been with the Republicans and in support of the president where that seemed to be the crystallizing issue.
There are, of course, around the country, particularly in the west, a lot of initiatives on the ballots. Some have attracted more attention than others, I think it's fair to say.
And here are a couple of them. Medical use of marijuana. This I'm almost certain breaks a string of successes on this issue in the West. California, Oregon, I know for sure, Colorado. Others, this has passed by voter referendum. It did not pass in Arizona, tonight.
In Nevada -- Nevada is the first state to put on the ballot legalizing the recreational use of marijuana. Possession of three ounces or less would have been legal under this proposition, and it failed. Or you could it argue it got almost 40 percent of the vote, which is actually, when you think about the history of some of these things, they'll be back again, I guarantee you.
GREENFIELD: Probably didn't want people stoned on their ways to the casinos because they wouldn't lose money fast enough to keep the tax rates down.
WOODRUFF: Here is a really interesting initiative. Florida amendment nine. This is something that was -- and it's winning. Yes. Fifty-two percent requiring the Florida state government, not individual school districts, but the state government to pay all costs required to reduce class size. Now, this was Bill McBride's big issue.
What happened to Bill McBride? Bill McBride went down to defeat by several percentage points to the incumbent Governor Jeb Bush. Jeb Bush opposed this initiative. He said it's going to cost the state 27, $30 billion. McBride said, no, it's only something like eight billion.
BROWN: Chump change.
WOODRUFF: But how does something like this happen?
BROWN: That one, of the initiatives out there, that one almost makes -- everyone wants better schools. But this was something that in Florida was talked about and talked about. That it was a choice between taxes, the governor's position, we can't do this without raising taxes, and lowering class size. A landslide win for the governor, and the initiative wins anyway.
GREENFIELD: Because the initiative doesn't say lower class size and you will be taxed x billion dollars.
BROWN: Raise your property taxes.
GREENFIELD: It is -- look, Americans love a hot fudge sundae diet. Eat all the hot fudge sundaes you want and lose 30 pounds in a week. We love services. We don't like taxes.
WOODRUFF: Sounds good to me. Bill Schneider.
BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: We've seen a number of surprising things, tonight, all over the country. Mostly in favor of the Republicans.
In fact, they're picking up the governorship in Georgia for the first time since Reconstruction. Holding the governorships in Massachusetts, in Rhode Island, holding all their open seats. What's behind it?
We don't have an exit poll. But we do have an indication from last weekend's polling that I think will be very revealing, and it may pan out as we look at the returns in the next few days.
We found that 64 percent of Republican voters said that they were more enthusiastic than usual about coming out to vote, today. Only 51 percent of Democrats felt the same way, which meant that Republicans were motivated. They were rallied, presumably by the president's last minute campaign.
What I suspect we're going to see when we look at the exit polls, when we go over the precinct returns, is a very high level of turnout in Republican areas, in states like Georgia, that produced the big surprise, the Republican governor's victory, and probably depressed turnout, maybe in minority areas, in cities like Baltimore and Atlanta, where Democratic governors and gubernatorial candidates went down to defeat. There was a clear difference in motivation and enthusiasm between Republicans and Democrats.
WOODRUFF: And President Bush had a lot to do with that, Bill.
SCHNEIDER: I think he did.
WOODRUFF: There is just no question. I mean, he was out there, on the (UNINTELLIGIBLE). I mean, for him, it might as well have been a presidential election year.
SCHNEIDER: That's right, and he put himself on the line. Look what he did. He went out and campaigned like no president has ever done in the last couple of days. It meant that he was taking a big risk. If this election had turned out to be a setback for him, his clout would have been diminished. So it's a big risk for the president, but so far, at least, it appears to be paying off.
WOODRUFF: But the White House, Karl Rove and others, made a calculated decision that the risk that they were taking was smaller than the gains to be had, and it's paid off. It's paying off. We don't want to make it sound like it's over cause it's not. There's still some states out there. But so far, it is paying off, big time.
SCHNEIDER: That's right. But the president's sticking his neck out on this, that should not be minimized. He did it. We saw the results in the pre-election polling. The Republicans really had their enthusiasm rallied. It may not last very long, but it lasted long enough, perhaps, to have an effect on this election.
WOODRUFF: All right, Bill -- Aaron.
BROWN: If you're going to take a risk in life, do it with a 65 percent approval rating. That's my motto.
There are races we can't call. At least, we're not prepared to call them, yet. Candy Crowley's at our Decision Desk in New York. Candy, it seems to me, Missouri's still on the table. South Dakota, you're not ready to pull the trigger there either, I gather.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: No, and I wanted to sort of try and give you an idea of why we can't call them, and sort of use Missouri as an example. Basically, if you look at the Spatial Logic, remember blue, Democratic; red, Republican. This does not show population. This merely shows where these counties are going. So the redder county, the more Republican -- the bigger the Republican margin. The bluer the county, the bigger the Democratic margin.
Here's the problem, right here, in St. Louis and St. Louis County. Right now, as you see, we're seeing a slight lead in the votes that have come in for Republican Jim Talent. But what we don't have, and since these two are together, is the votes from St. Louis, itself, St. Louis proper. Which, if it follows form, would be something that would come in, we would believe, for Jean Carnahan. But we don't know. So essentially, that's why we can't call the race in Missouri.
BROWN: And, likewise, I gather, we just don't either have enough raw vote or enough vote from the right places, representative of a number of precincts to make a judgment on South Dakota, Minnesota, Colorado and the rest.
CROWLEY: Right. With Minnesota it's not enough information. With South Dakota, it's just that there are some even balance in there, and they just want to wait a while and get some more information.
BROWN: Candy, thank you. Candy Crowley at the decision desk in New York -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: Aaron, we are fortunate to have with us now the speaker for the House of Representatives, Dennis Hastert. He's been the speaker for this last session of Congress.
And, Mr. Speaker, it's looking like you're going to keep that position if you want to. And I assume you do?
REP. DENNIS HASTERT (R-IL), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Well, I think that's going to happen. It looks like we'll either hold our own or pick up a couple seats, and that's good for us. We've had a couple pleasant surprises across the country this evening.
WOODRUFF: Well, you're not the first happy Republican we've talked to tonight. How do you explain all this? I mean, yes, the president's popular. And yes, there has been -- as we've been talking about tonight, the country is in a more patriotic mood, if you will, after 9/11, certainly after the war in Afghanistan, given the war on terror. But what's going on? What do you attribute this to?
HASTERT: I think with the case in the House, I think we actually made a pretty good case to keep the House representatives in Republican hands. We passed the largest tax cut in American history. We passed real education reform. We passed good trade policy.
We got things done, with only a five-vote margin out of 435 members. So I think we took that message to the American people. And we've had good cooperation and we -- it's important for us to be able to be there to help the president get his programs done as well.
So I think people are tired of this gridlock that they've seen in the Congress, with the Senate holding up all of the legislation, a lot of the legislation that we've passed. And I think they want to see a good, positive movement in Congress.
WOODRUFF: Any doubt in your mind that if the Senate does turn Republican after tonight's results, that the president is going to push to make those tax cuts permanent?
HASTERT: Well, I think that most members of the House think it's kind of silly if you pass an inheritance tax cut for small farmers, small business people, that in the 9 years it comes back you can't really plan your estates. We need to make that permanent.
WOODRUFF: And, what about homeland security? What's going to happen with regard to that?
HASTERT: Homeland security is something we need. And it's been held up in the Senate over bickering over a couple of work rule problems. We really need to bring those agencies together along the border, to make this country safe. And we really need to have the same work rules for everybody. So the president needs to have the ability to do that.
I think it's been a silly thing, that the Senate has held up homeland security. It needs to get done and it will get done.
WOODRUFF: So, get done without the civil service protections -- but I don't want to get into that issue. As I'm talking to you, Mr. Speaker, we're listening to -- starting to listen to Jean Carnahan, who is speaking in Missouri. Is the speaker still with us?
HASTERT: I'm here.
WOODRUFF: If you could just stay with us a moment, we're just going to hear a word or two of what she's saying.
JEAN CARNAHAN (D), FMR. MO. SENATE CANDIDATE: The totals are changing all the time. And we are cautiously optimistic that in a few more hours we'll have some results. (APPLAUSE)
CARNAHAN: But I know many of you have been here for hours, all evening. And if you'd wanted to go home and watch it on the TV, you can. If you want to stay with me and wait it out, you can do that, too.
WOODRUFF: Jean Carnahan, who's been in a very tough contests with the Congressman Jim Talent.
Mr. Speaker, back to you again. Why do you think the Democrats, at least so far tonight, are having as much trouble as they are?
HASTERT: Well, I just think people -- first of all, look at the quality of the candidates. I think we've had excellent candidates. We've taken good races. And we've treated each race as an individual, local race.
We didn't try to nationalize the races. I think that's important. People understand that we're trying to solve their problems, their unique situations, back in the places they live. I think that's a real part of this race.
WOODRUFF: All right, House Speaker Dennis Hastert, we thank you very much for joining us.
HASTERT: Thank you.
WOODRUFF: Good to see you. We'll see you very soon -- Aaron.
BROWN: He keeps his job. That's a pretty good job, too, to be speaker of the House.
Saxby Chambliss is, we project to be, the next governor (sic) of the state of Georgia. And we welcome him to the program tonight.
Sir, thank you. Congratulations. It was brought to our attention, you're the first Republican to win governorship in Georgia since -- I'm sorry. I'm sorry, senator. It's been a long night all along.
SAXBY CHAMBLISS (R-GA), SENATOR-ELECT: We want to take them one at a time.
BROWN: I appreciate that. I apologize.
CHAMBLISS: My good friend Sonny Perdue is the first governor of Georgia that's a Republican since Benjamin Conley...
BROWN: There we go. Six and a half hours in I get to make two mistakes, and there's the second.
How much did the president help you down here? CHAMBLISS: Well, certainly the president played a very integral part in our campaign. He was down to campaign for me any number of times, a total of about four times. And when you have a president that's as popular as this president is, in my state, certainly it adds a lot to your campaign.
But, you know, what really won this campaign was the grassroots organization that we had in all 159 counties in our great state.
BROWN: The ad you ran on homeland security that got so much attention, do you have any regrets?
CHAMBLISS: None whatsoever. I mean, the ad was a very factual ad. It was a truthful ad. The ad had no link between bin Laden, Hussein and Cleland. It did have a link between Hussein, bin Laden, and a lack of a homeland security bill. And that was the focus of the ad.
And the fact that Senator Cleland voted against the president 11 different times on the creation of a Department of Homeland Security was the import of the ad. And people finally began to understand that. So, I have no regrets whatsoever. It was a very factual, very crucial ad.
BROWN: If we'd asked you, sir, a week ago, if you thought you were going to win this election, in your heart of hearts, a week ago, did you think you had it won? Or...
CHAMBLISS: I knew we were moving in the right direction. We saw the Cleland campaign begin to slide backwards about two weeks ago. We have been moving up, slowly but steadily, since the very first day we got in this race. Nobody gave me much of a chance to win early on.
But we've had the momentum. We kept the momentum. When I got the DFW endorsement, that was huge. And that just propelled us ahead and inoculated an issue that he kept trying to explore.
BROWN: Congressman, again, congratulations. I promise I will never again try to make you governor of the state.
CHAMBLISS: Thank you.
BROWN: You earned a Senate seat. You're entitled to go to Washington and claim it, no matter what I say. Thank you very much.
CHAMBLISS: Thank you very much.
BROWN: We all have moments like that. It happens, right?
WOODRUFF: Very understandable.
BROWN: I know, but still, I want to shoot myself.
WOODRUFF: It's 12:30 in the morning.
Let's see... BROWN: Mark Shields and "CAPITAL GANG" have been patiently sitting, listening to all this for 6 1/2 hours. Mark, good evening. Or, good morning.
MARK SHIELDS, HOST, "CAPITAL GANG": Good evening, Aaron. Thank you very much. I am Mark Shields with the entire "CAPITAL GANG": Al Hunt, Kate O'Beirne, Margaret Carlson, and from CNN's election headquarters in Atlanta, Robert D. Novak.
Let me begin. Bob Novak, it looks right now like it's going to be a good Republican evening. Fragmentary, not complete reports and results, but they look encouraging for Republicans. Why?
ROBERT NOVAK, CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: I think that the Democrats never really presented any kind of compelling argument to the people. I think the Democratic Party is falling apart and collapsing in the South. They lost their three big southern governorships they won four years ago. They lost a Senate seat from Georgia, which was really a killer.
And I do believe the Democratic Party is in a crisis. I believe that the Republicans sometimes are not perfect in presenting their agenda. But I think they're far less troubled than the Democrats are.
SHIELDS: Kate O'Beirne?
KATE O'BEIRNE, NATIONAL REVIEW: Well, I think that's half of the equation. The Democrats didn't have anything much to say. You know, their theory was, we hug Bush close on Iraq and national security. But that overall issue, if public's concerned about it, it always favors the Republicans, two to one.
And otherwise, Tom Daschle thought it was wise to be blocking the president's agenda, while apparently voters disagreed. They seemed to want to send senators to the Senate who were going to back George Bush.
It is a huge vote of confidence in George Bush. With so many of these close races breaking Republican, clearly something is going on at the national level. George Bush, I think, must take an awful lot of credit for it.
SHIELDS: Something at the national level, Margaret Carlson?
MARGARET CARLSON, "TIME" MAGAZINE: Well, Bush put a lot on the line by going out and campaigning as much as he did. And it may partly be, Bush is a likable guy. And when he's out there, the crowds respond. And that part of it worked.
And then, you know, Democrats were shy of saying too much about Iraq, because whenever they did, they would get an ad like Chambliss put on the air against Max Cleland, questioning his patriotism. So you had to go gingerly there.
So you go with the person that's actually saying something. And something beats nothing. SHIELDS: Al Hunt, something beats nothing?
AL HUNT, WALL STREET JOURNAL: Yes, it does. And I think Bush does deserve credit. He energized the Republican base...
BROWN: Gentlemen, I need to interrupt for just a second. Walter Mondale in Minnesota, before his supporters there.
WALTER MONDALE (D), MN SENATE CANDIDATE: I wanted to come down and give you a report. No more than 8 percent of the votes have been counted in the Senate race. And some of the best-looking precincts you ever saw in your life have yet to report.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
MONDALE: As you know tonight...
MONDALE: As you know, today in Minnesota we may have broken all records in voter participation.
BROWN: Walter Frederick Fritz Mondale, waiting it out in Minnesota tonight. A very close race. He's hopeful against Norm Coleman, the former mayor of St. Paul, failed gubernatorial candidate four years ago.
A difficult race. It's hard to imagine Mr. Mondale three weeks ago imagining standing before a group of supporters anywhere, back in public life. And it's still too early to say whether he comes back successfully or not.
Now, back to our "CAPITAL GANG" gang. Mark, sorry.
SHIELDS: Thank you, Aaron.
Al Hunt, your own sense, quickly, on the -- what appears to be a good Republican night.
HUNT: Again, I think their base was energized. The Democratic base was not. I don't know what's going to happen in Minnesota, but let me tell you, Fritz Mondale is a class act whether he wins or not.
SHIELDS: Bob Novak, I'm forced to agree with you that the Democratic Party was really without a face and without a voice in this election. It did not have a coherent or consistent voice. And I think that's part of it.
But, what does it mean, if in fact we're looking at a Republican takeover, possibly of the Senate. Certainly, it looks like a strengthening of the Republican majority in the House. What does it mean, Bob, come January?
NOVAK: It certainly looks this. And it means, first off, that those appellate court judges of President Bush's, that have been blocked, will now be confirmed. It also means that if there's a Supreme Court vacancy, that will be confirmed. It means that a lot of the Republican agenda that has been blocked in the Senate will go through.
It means that we are going to have permanent tax cuts that we'll pass, and additional tax cuts. And these are things that the Democratic Party doesn't -- at least the leaders of the Democratic Party -- doesn't like, but apparently, the voters do like.
SHIELDS: And, do you think we'll look at Priscilla Owen brought back from Texas for an appellate court judgeship?
CARLSON: Well, even before the election Bush was saying he wanted a shorter time line. He was going to put them back up. He wanted them through. Now he may well be able to do it.
And there's going to be a prescription drug bill that favors the insurance companies. Social Security privatizing will be back, and it will be called privatizing now. And judges, judges, judges, as far as the eye can see.
SHIELDS: Permanent tax cuts, I think that has to be first on the agenda, don't you, for the economic conservatives?
O'BEIRNE: Almost every place the president campaigned, he talked about the need to make those tax cuts permanent. It was a very bad night for Terry McAuliffe.
We haven't talked about the huge win Jeb Bush had down in Florida. The Democrats wanted that very badly. It seems Florida voters have moved beyond 2000, even if Terry McAuliffe hasn't. A week ago he thought Jeb Bush was gone.
Bad night for Daschle. There were so many more Bush Democrats in the Senate running on the campaign trail than Daschle Democrats. I think the Democratic Party is going to be tempted to move left now, and have real differences with George Bush because they're going to think, this strategy didn't work. And that, overall, will be bad news for the Democrats.
HUNT: Huge division in the Democratic Party. Half will say that, and half will go the other way.
On the other side, I think that basically Margaret is right. But let's not forget that sometimes it takes 60 votes in the Senate to do that. And I think this idea of just -- this Bush agenda, and even some of his judicial nominees, just sailing through, is exaggerated. I'm not sure that will happen.
I think more will get through than would have gotten through otherwise, but I don't think all are going to get through.
SHIELDS: Let me toss out a sort of -- just get your quick reaction to it. Democrats, one bright spot is apparently the governorships in a number of places. They did not do well in Rhode Island, obviously. They did not do well, as Bob pointed out, when Ray Barnes loses in Georgia and goes with it as national ambitions.
But picking up in places like Kansas, running ahead in Wyoming, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin. They have tough roads ahead, though, those Democratic governors. They're going to have to deal with budget deficits. They're going to have to deal with cuts in services.
It's no bargain, is it, Bob? It's no prescription for political success, to be dealing with places when you can't have the option of deficit spending?
NOVAK: It's no time to be a governor. I get a bang out of a lot of people saying, boy, this is really going to help the Democrats in Illinois, Michigan and Pennsylvania -- those big states with all the electoral votes in 2004. Having Republican governors in those states didn't help George W. Bush very much in 2000.
SHIELDS: Good point.
HUNT: Bob is absolutely right. One of the most exaggerated perceptions in American politics among politicians is, having the governor helps assure you're going to win in the presidential race. Doesn't do it.
SHIELDS: Let me say, from my previous life, the one place that governors can help you, though, is in fund-raising. Because there's an awful lot of money in asphalt and liquor. And states deal heavily...
O'BEIRNE: Look at the two Democratic states. Maryland is overwhelmingly Democratic, and a Republican governor for the first time since Spiro Agnew? And in Massachusetts, despite being overwhelmingly Democratic, they cannot elect a Democratic governor.
So even though we knew Republicans were going to lose some -- they had so many more governorships at risk -- these losses, I think, are major for the Democrats.
CARLSON: But sometimes politics is local. In Maryland, Townsend ran a bad race, picked the wrong lieutenant governor. Ehrlich picked a black lieutenant governor. She was a stumbling campaigner. The snipers didn't help. There were...
O'BEIRNE: The gun control issue didn't help her either, and she sure tried.
HUNT: With her, more than anything else, was Parris Glendening. That's what really killed her.
SHIELDS: She was saddled by a governor who was enormously unpopular. And unfavorable ratings. I mean, that's a -- and she was part of the...
CARLSON: With the margin she had to work with, she might have overcome that.
HUNT: And Democrats benefited in some states, like Michigan and Illinois, from an enormously unpopular incumbent Republican.
SHIELDS: That's exactly right, Alan.
Bob, I think in Massachusetts, it's a testimony to Massachusetts tolerance. They just elected a Republican who's a Mormon, for goodness' sakes, and doesn't even live in the state. I think that shows the largeness of spirit of the old Bay State, don't you?
NOVAK: Let me ask you a question, Mark, if I could. Do you think the Democrat Party -- every time a party doesn't do well in election, everybody wrings their hands and says there's a crisis for the party. But do you thin, that it's a time now for soul-searching for the Democratic Party -- on where they go, what they say, how they present a coherent program to the country?
SHIELDS: I don't think there's any question, Bob. I think that -- and what I think may be the big sleeper out of this election, if in fact the Republicans carry the Senate and the House, the field for 2004 on the Democratic side will shrink, rather than get larger. You'll start to look at people like John Edwards and say, I wonder if I really want to run against George Bush, who right now looks like a political giant.
OK, we have to go back to election center in Atlanta.
BROWN: Larry King coming up. He's got Bill Maher as a guest. We've got one more piece of business to take care of before we get -- this is the one you've all been staying up all night for. It's almost 1:00 here in the East.
Jim Traficant, down at the bottom. Now, Traficant, longtime congressman out of Youngstown, Ohio. He has a different address now.
JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SR. ANALYST: Yes, he is a guest of the federal government.
GREENFIELD: He is now able to wear his wig. He was put away after eluding the Feds for years and years. And, had he won, he would have been driven to a swearing-in in a car with license plates that he had made. Unfortunately, that's not going to happen.
WOODRUFF: Well, the Democrat's winning. We saw the Democrat was at 51 percent.
BROWN: Just go back to the board for a second because, jokes aside, he got 27,000 votes, I think. Is that right?
WOODRUFF: Yes, that's right.
BROWN: If we can. Well, no. Well, that's certainly not Mr. Traficant. So we won't... WOODRUFF: I think we do want to call that Mike Huckabee is holding onto the governorship of the state of Arkansas, defeating Jimmie Lou Fisher, the Democrat. And this was one, as we discussed earlier tonight, that actually was in some doubt, after having been what people thought was a slam dunk.
Mrs. Huckabee has been running for the secretary of state job in that state, and has been having some difficulty and that spilled over to the governor. But he pulled it out.
TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com