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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

California Votes -- Recall 2003

Aired October 7, 2003 - 23:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, and welcome to our special coverage of this most remarkable election. Never before has a single governor's race captured the attention of the whole nation as this one has. Indeed, it's fair to say it's captured the attention of nearly the entire world.
Polls here in the Golden State have just closed. As a result, based on our exit polls, CNN is now prepared to declare a winner in the race for governor of California.

And Governor Gray Davis, we can now report, based on the exit polls, will be recalled as the governor of California. He will be recalled by what is being described as a healthy margin.

At the same time, we can report that the next governor of California will be Arnold Schwarzenegger. He easily defeats the Democratic lieutenant governor, Cruz Bustamante, based on those exit polls.

A dramatic development, two major headlines tonight. Cruz Bustamante does not manage to defeat Arnold Schwarzenegger. He will be the next governor of California, and Gray Davis will step down.

Let's go right to our reporters covering this. Judy Woodruff is over at Arnold Schwarzenegger headquarters here in Los Angeles. And Candy Crowley is over at Gray Davis campaign headquarters.

Judy, let's begin with you.

JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, it has happened so quickly that the crowd has barely begun to gather here. But the word has gone out that the networks have called Gray Davis losing this recall, Arnold Schwarzenegger elected the next governor in an unprecedented campaign. Arnold Schwarzenegger turning the politics of the state of California on its head in just a little more than two months, Wolf.

BLITZER: Judy, very exciting moments, obviously, over there. Let's -- we'll get right back to you, but I want to go over to Candy Crowley. She's at Gray Davis headquarters. Candy?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, this cannot come as a surprise to the Gray Davis campaign, but it certainly, I think, still has to come as a shock. This is a man who, 11 months ago, was elected to another term for governor. And one thing after another, a man with a lot of money who could help gather the signatures, a lot of voter anger about rising taxes and the shape of the economy.

And all today, aides for the Davis campaign have been glumly watching these numbers. Davis said himself he will fight this until the end, but did tell Larry King not too long ago that he was prepared to play the hand that's dealt him, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Candy Crowley.

Our senior analyst, Jeff Greenfield, is here with me.

Jeff, some thought this was going to be a long night.

JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SENIOR ANALYST: This is true, but I think what we're seeing here is something that's been building for quite some time, a bad economy, electrical brownouts, a governor so personally unpopular that he barely survived against a weak opponent less than a year ago.

Gray Davis, who, only five years ago, was elected by a million six, 1.6 million votes, touted as a presidential candidate, now becomes the first governor since Lynn Frasier (ph) of North Dakota in 1920 to be recalled. And once again, the people of California have channeled their middle-class populist anger into a surprising and unprecedented political event.

BLITZER: All right, Jeff.

Bill Schneider, our senior political analyst, is here as well. He's in Los Angeles. Bill, what happened?

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: What happened was, Arnold Schwarzenegger ran a very successful campaign as an outsider. Remember, the other candidates who were opposing him, Tom McClintock, Cruz Bustamante, Gray Davis, were all long-time insiders in state politics. He was the only outsider. And the voters were very angry.

Gray Davis came into this election with a very low approval rating. How many voters approved of the job he was doing? Take a look at this, 27 percent approval. That is dismal. We're in Richard Nixon Watergate territory there. And a candidate with that kind of approval rating not going to be reelected.

What made voters so angry? Take a look at their assessment of the economy of California. Not in good shape. Back in 1998, when he was first elected, only 20 percent said the economy was poor or not very good. In 2002, he was reelected, 58 percent said the economy was bad. That's when he slipped a lot. This year, 83 percent of the voters of California said the economy was in not good or poor shape.

And that doomed Davis.

How did Schwarzenegger do this? What about all those stories about unwanted sexual advances? Take a look at this. Women's vote on candidates to replace Davis, women, women in California gave Schwarzenegger a slight edge over the lieutenant governor, the Democrat, 5-point edge over Cruz Bustamante. Men voted very heavily for Schwarzenegger. But women, by a small margin, did too.

So Wolf, it appears those stories that came out at the last minute did not have the anticipated impact.

BLITZER: All right, Bill.

Later, we're going to explain to our viewers how these exit polls work and why we're so confident that they're right this time.

Jeff Greenfield, you heard those numbers. It was clearly a slam- dunk for Arnold Schwarzenegger.

GREENFIELD: It was a slam-dunk. After an election, when you win big, it always looks like a slam-dunk. But let's remember, when Arnold Schwarzenegger entered this race, a week after he entered, Cruz Bustamante was even or ahead of him in the polls.

And when we look back to the shaping events of this remarkable election, that debate, the most-watched nonpresidential debate, I think, in American political history, was the turning point that convinced people that it was OK to replace Gray Davis, that Arnold Schwarzenegger was at least conversant enough in public policy to be acceptable, and that Cruz Bustamante represented more of what they were angry about.

BLITZER: All right. Stand by.

Dan Lothian is our reporter. He's covering Cruz Bustamante up in Sacramento.

I take it there must be a lot of sadness over there, Dan.

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right. You might hear that music in the background, but certainly no celebration here tonight.

I spoke a short time ago with Bustamante's campaign manager, Richie Ross, and he told me that coming into the night, seeing the numbers, he was always realistic about the outcome, because he has been around this game for quite some time.

I asked him what went wrong as you take a picture -- take a look there at Bustamante voting this morning here in Sacramento. I asked him what went wrong, and he said, You know, I'm not going to second- guess our campaign. He said there will be plenty of people out there who, tomorrow morning, will say we should have done this, we should have done that.

He's raised the question, Where were all these people when we first got into this race?

He doesn't believe that Bustamante's so-called flat showing at the debate had anything to do with this. He doesn't believe that him accepting money from Indian gaming interests have anything to do with this. He simply thinks that the voters saw Bustamante as being tied to Governor Gray Davis. They were angry at Governor Davis. Therefore, he got some of that anger, and that's why voters didn't go his way.

The worst-case scenario, he was asked, what is the worst-case scenario for Cruz Bustamante? He says, tomorrow morning he wakes up, he is, quote, "lieutenant governor of California, and the leader of the loyal opposition," Wolf.

BLITZER: He manages to hold onto his job as the lieutenant governor of California. Dan, we'll be getting back to you.

We're getting the initial raw votes, the actual votes, these are not the exit poll numbers. We're getting some numbers already coming in from Sacramento, the state capital.

Let's take a look right now. As you can see, as far as whether or not the governor should be recalled, 47 percent say yes. Very, very early numbers, 53 percent say no. Clearly these numbers aren't reflective of our exit polls. But you see a tiny, tiny percentage, less than 1 percent of those numbers coming in.

We'll be showing you those numbers throughout the night, the hard numbers, the real numbers coming in from the secretary of state's office in California.

As far as the vote between Schwarzenegger and Bustamante, the initial numbers coming in, very, very preliminary numbers, 20, nearly 25,000 for Schwarzenegger, almost 20,000 for Bustamante. But remember, these are very preliminary numbers.

Our "CROSSFIRE" co-hosts are standing by with their initial takes on what has happened here in California. Tucker Carlson's over at Schwarzenegger headquarters, Paul Begala is covering Gray Davis.

Tucker, let's go to you first. Give us a sense of what's going on where you are.

TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE": Well, obviously there's elation, and there wasn't always. Saturday night, this last Saturday, there was concern in the Schwarzenegger camp that their candidate would be really hurt by the groping stories. But they had two things in their favor.

A, the story broke late, and it was therefore dismissed by a lot of conservatives and Republicans, and also independents in this state, as some sort of smear tactic.

And B, the governor himself, Gray Davis, took up the cudgel and said on Sunday that criminal charges ought to be filed.

So the -- I think the Schwarzenegger campaign believes that the fact that Gray Davis took it up made it look, in the eyes of many voters, like just another smear, and therefore less credible.

Schwarzenegger's numbers began going up Sunday, and the trajectory has remained pretty much constant till now.

BLITZER: Your partner from "CROSSFIRE," Paul Begala, is over at Gray Davis headquarters. It -- did they ever really think they had a chance? Because these numbers of our exit polls, Paul, show simply how unpopular the incumbent governor has become.

PAUL BEGALA, CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE": Yes, but Wolf, there was some hope, I think, among Democrats in California that those last-minute stories that Tucker talked about might turn the tide and stop Schwarzenegger's momentum. There was some reporting that maybe it had.

I think Tucker's right. The fact that Governor Davis interjected himself into those stories made it look like he was behind the stories, and those -- that never works out.

And this is an earthquake of a magnitude at 10 on the political Richter scale, Wolf. It's a state that Al Gore carried against President Bush by 1.3 million votes, despite Bush spending $20 million here. It's a state where every office holder statewide is a Democrat. And here's this untested Republican knocking the Democrats.

The Democrats, I think, are going to find themselves in their more traditional standard procedure of forming a circular firing squad right now and going after each other.

BLITZER: All right, we're going to be checking back with our "CROSSFIRE" co-hosts throughout this night. Thanks very much.

We have guests here in our Los Angeles studio, two guests in particular. Carlos Watson is a Democratic analyst, Julie Vandermost is president of the California Women's Leadership Association.

Julie, you supported Arnold Schwarzenegger. How happy are you?

JULIE VANDERMOST, CALIFORNIA WOMEN'S LEADERSHIP ASSOCIATION: We are very happy, we are very happy. We are -- we were very upset about all the regulation, the taxation and the pandering that was coming out of the Davis camp. And we are very excited that we'll have common sense back in California.

BLITZER: Carlos, how sad are you?

CARLOS WATSON, POLITICAL ANALYST: It's got to be disappointing. Disappointing on two levels, though, not only the loss today, but when you look forward to 2004, now the biggest prize in presidential politics is up for grabs, and previously it wasn't.

BLITZER: When you say that, is that -- you're convinced that because Arnold Schwarzenegger's the governor of California, this state is in play next year?

WATSON: If you're a Democrat, you got to be worried. The people walked into the biggest state in the union, into the leading office, took that office away from you with almost no fight at all. As you showed the numbers earlier, and Bill Schneider walked through, not only men but women turned on Gray Davis and also voted for Arnold, despite these stories. So there's got to be a lot of worry in Democratic camps. And again, it's not only about the 2004 presidential elections, it's also they're worried about Barbara Boxer's election next year. Now they're worried that moderate Republicans are back in vogue in the state, like Pete Wilson, like George Dukmajian, like Ronald Reagan, to some extent, when he governed here.

And they've got to be worried that there are going to be new challengers out there who will face down Democrats.

BLITZER: All right, Carlos and Julie, I want both of you to stand by, because we're going to be speaking extensively over the next several hours.

Our Bill Schneider is taking a closer look now at some of those exit polls. Bill?

SCHNEIDER: Well, Wolf, aside from the exit polls, we want to look at something very important in those raw votes as we see them coming out tonight. We say Schwarzenegger will win. But how many votes will he get? We want to compare the number of votes that Arnold Schwarzenegger gets here in California with the number of voters who vote for Gray Davis, that is, to keep Gray Davis.

Because one of the arguments the Democrats have been making is, Gray Davis is likely to get more votes than whoever wins to replace him.

But Schwarzenegger is in a race to make sure he can get more votes than Gray Davis. Then he will have legitimacy.

BLITZER: All right, Bill.

I want to bring back Jeff Greenfield. You're taking a closer look at the numbers coming in. What do you see?

GREENFIELD: Well, we're going to do -- we're going to be our John Madden person here tonight, thanks to Spatial Logic (ph) and my Telustrator.

We (UNINTELLIGIBLE) show you on a county by county basis what's going on. On the recall vote, the redder the red, the more against -- the more for recall and the bluer the blue.

As expected, in some of these early returns, on the coastal parts of California, in Santa Clara County, for instance, the recall is going down. But you notice the paleness of the blue? That means that the intensity of that vote is very weak.

By contrast, take a look at Tulara (ph) County. This is part of the Central Valley. It's where Gray Davis ran very badly in 2002.

I'm sorry.

And in that particular county so far, 71 percent of the people are voting for the recall. So I think this -- the intensity of the turnout, the high turnout, and the deepness of these reds that we're beginning to see already is starting to tell us that in the places that really don't like Gray Davis, they came out in force to say, Get out.

And as we look at Los Angeles County, as we look at San Francisco, I think you're going to see that the blues are not nearly as blue as Gray Davis needs.

BLITZER: Those are heavily Democratic counties, obviously. Gray Davis needed those, didn't get those in the numbers that would have kept him in office.

Let's go back to our reporters covering both of these campaigns. Judy Woodruff's over at the Arnold Schwarzenegger headquarters. Candy Crowley is covering a very sad headquarters of Governor Gray Davis.

First, Judy, you're be -- it -- the word is beginning to filter out to the people there that Gray Davis has been recalled and Arnold Schwarzenegger will become the next governor of California.

WOODRUFF: Wolf, the mood has been building all night long, because people were aware of reports that were coming in that the exit polls were looking positive. Of course, no one could talk about it publicly. So the mood has spread throughout the Republican community here, the people showing up already tonight at Schwarzenegger headquarters.

Plans are under way for Schwarzenegger to come out within a fairly short period of time. They are going to wait for Governor Davis to concede. They're going to wait, maybe, for Tom McClintock and Cruz Bustamante to concede.

But they don't want to wait too long. I -- someone said to me that they're very conscious of a national television audience. They don't want this announcement to come too late on the East Coast.

And one little bit of news, Wolf, and that is that the man with whom Arnold Schwarzenegger made the announcement that he was running, we're told, is going to be here to introduce Schwarzenegger tonight. Jay Leno, no other than, of NBC's "Tonight Show" will be here tonight with Arnold Schwarzenegger when he comes out to make his victory statement.

BLITZER: It seems only fitting, Judy, that Jay Leno should be there to introduce Arnold Schwarzenegger (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the fact that he made his announcement on "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" not all that long ago. CNN, of course, will stay with live coverage for all of those statements.

Judy, stand by.

Candy Crowley, a very different mood, I take it, over at the Gray Davis headquarters.

CROWLEY: A really different mood here. Our producer, Sasha Johnson (ph), has been walking the hallways, seeing party leaders hugging various party stalwarts, one woman crying. They clearly have the word. They've known all day this was coming.

A source inside the Davis camp tells us that the speech that the governor will give here tonight has already been written, but it is awaiting his review. The governor has spent a quiet evening with his wife and his family. Be reviewing that speech.

We are also told by the same source this will not be a late evening, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. I want to thank Candy, thank Judy. We'll be getting back to you.

CNN's Rusty Dornin is up in Sacramento. She's at the secretary of state's office. They're already planning a transition. Walk us through that process, Rusty.

RUSTY DORNIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Wolf, as we were standing here and hearing you announce that, you know, what we were predicting, there were -- the numbers were on the board behind me here at the secretary of state's office, and the returns weren't coming in yet. They are now.

Of course, we know what those are. But we're not going to hear Secretary of State Kevin Shelley (ph) come out here and announce a winner. As they say, it's the media who does the call of these elections. They only do the counting. And it's going to be another 39 days, Wolf, until this election is certified.

It could be less, of course, but it could be up to 39 days. The average in California is 38, which means that there would not be -- Schwarzenegger would not be inaugurated until sometime in mid- November, perhaps November 14, November 15.

But until then, all the votes still must be counted. They must be canvassed in each county. And that just takes about two or three weeks.

BLITZER: All right, Rusty Dornin. Well, we'll continue to check back with you as we get some more information.

Let's go to Burbank, California, now, CNN's Frank Buckley is standing by at a polling station which has just closed. And you've got some actual voters with you, Frank.

FRANK BUCKLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We do, Wolf.

And the polls have closed. And I just want to show you, this is going to -- this is the last we're going to see of the punchcard machines. You can see that this last one here at this polling place has been put into its briefcase, and it's being taken away.

And yes, we've got a couple of voters here to get reaction. We've got Latanya Pope (ph) and we have Steve Seekins (ph). And you're a Republican, you're a Democrat. You voted for the recall, you voted against the recall. I've told you that CNN is projecting that the recall has succeeded. First, your reactions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, my reaction is, is that that's a good thing for the state of California. Gray Davis took the state of California from a $70 billion surplus to a $38 billion deficit in a matter of almost five years. We needed a change. This is a way for the people to have that change.

BUCKLEY: Latanya, we were talking earlier about why you voted against the recall. Tell me what factored into your decision.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I'm not convinced that any of the other candidates had a strong enough plan to change California, you know, so I don't think they can do a better job.

BUCKLEY: Are you disappointed? And if the projection turns out to be accurate, and Arnold Schwarzenegger becomes the governor, do you believe that he has legitimacy if Gray Davis or those who opposed the recall, in fact, have more votes and Arnold Schwarzenegger has fewer votes?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Arnold doesn't have the background and the experience. But I think that he has a lot of people backing him up that can advise him. So he'll do OK.

BUCKLEY: And what about you, Steve? Are you concerned at all that Arnold Schwarzenegger may not be able to govern because some of the people, the Democrats in the legislature, may not want to work with him?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I think this guy is a very bright guy. I think people misstate that when they speak poorly of him. That's number one. Number two, I think that it's time for us to have a bit of an outsider coming in. And I do think it's time for the people in Sacramento to be a little afraid of what a Governor Schwarzenegger might do.

BUCKLEY: OK, well, thank you both very much for your insights.

Just some voices here on election night here in California with their reactions to the outcome, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Frank Buckley, thanks very much.

Let's take a look at some actual numbers coming in now from Sacramento. These are real numbers that we're getting. Take a look at this. As far as the recall, 54 percent so far, half a million people say yes, the governor of California, Gray Davis, should be recalled, 46 percent so far, actual hard numbers, 464,000, saying no.

As far as the next governor, look at this, Arnold Schwarzenegger, so far, almost half a million votes with 3 percent of the actual votes being called, right now, tabulated, 300,000-plus for Cruz Bustamante, the lieutenant governor, the Democrat of California.

Jeff, what are you seeing over here? GREENFIELD: Couple of really interesting things. Let's go back to this Spatial Logic map. Red means recall, the redder the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) -- the picture, the more they want it. Here is Los Angeles, the heartland of Democratic votes. There are some -- about 355,000 votes in so far. You see how pale that is? That means that the recall is going 50-50 in Los Angeles. If that keeps up, you don't need any other reason to find out why Gray Davis has been recalled. He should be carrying that county. Recall should be losing by 20 points.

One other quick thing. In Mendecino and Napa Counties, recall is losing. They drink a lot of wine up there, maybe they're less unhappy than the rest of California, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Jeff Greenfield, who knows a lot about California.

Bill Schneider knows a lot about this state as well. He actually voted in the state earlier today. But update us on the exit poll numbers we're now able to bring to our viewers, Bill.

SCHNEIDER: Well, there are a lot of people will be asking, How did Arnold Schwarzenegger get elected if all those charges started coming out about unwanted sexual advances? Those charges came out within the last week of the campaign. Now, take a look at how people voted who said they decided more than a week ago. They voted for Schwarzenegger over Bustamante by a 12-point margin.

Now, compare them with people who decided how they were going to vote just in the last week of the campaign. Those people voted for Schwarzenegger, but by a smaller margin, 38 percent, not 46.

So there was an impact to those charges of unwanted sexual advances, but Schwarzenegger still won among people who decided in the last week.

And here's the important part. Only 15 percent of the voters decided in the last week. And that limited the impact of those newspaper charges.

BLITZER: Very briefly, Bill, for our viewers who may remember what happened in 2000 in the presidential election, why are we so confident here at CNN that these exit poll numbers are accurate?

SCHNEIDER: Well, for one thing, the vote isn't as close as it was in 2000, and that makes a big difference. Also, we have polled voters across the state in polling places chosen at random, and we've compared it -- well, you can't compare it with any past elections, there were no elections like this, ever.

But we are confident that those voters represent the voters of California, because we know that those precincts are representative.

Second of all, people are going to say, Wait a minute, a lot of people didn't vote at the polling places today. They cast their ballots by absentee. And, of course, about a quarter of Californians, it is estimated, may vote by mail. How did we poll them?

The answer is, we telephoned them over the weekend. We asked voters, How did you vote, if you voted by absentee ballot? And they are factored into these exit polls results.

BLITZER: All right, Bill Schneider, thanks for that.

Let's bring in the party chairmen here in California, the Republican and Democratic Party chairmen. Art Torres is the Democratic Party leader, and Duf Sundheim is the Republican Party leader.

Let me begin with you, Duf. And tell us how happy you must be right now that all of the fears of the past few days, the allegations against Arnold Schwarzenegger, the groping of women, the stories in "The Los Angeles Times" and elsewhere, clearly did not appear to have the kind of impact so many Democrats would have liked.

DUF SUNDHEIM, CHAIRMAN, CALIFORNIA REPUBLICANS: Well, I think this is a great night for the people of California. It's a night where the people of California have indicated we want accountability out of our government officials, and we don't want slash-and-burn politics.

With respect to the slash-and-burn politics, Wolf, that's something that not only was the Davis administration doing, but Republicans did it as well. And I think the people are sending a clear message that what they want out of their candidates is a positive vision as to where they're going to take this state.

BLITZER: Art Torres, there's a million more registered Democrats in California than Republicans. What happened today?

ART TORRES, CHAIRMAN, CALIFORNIA DEMOCRATIC PARTY: Well, I think it all relates to (UNINTELLIGIBLE), I think Duf said it right. People were angry at this governor. And that's clearly the case. But we're -- we still have problems here, 300,000 people couldn't find their polling places here in L.A. County. We had problems in Ventura County.

We have problems when only 40 percent of the polling places are open. We're not planning a lawsuit, but we are referring any voting rights violations to the Department of Justice. And I started in 2000 to promote and protect the vote to make sure that we would resolve problems.

Well, we did it in 2002, 85 percent of the problems were resolved before the polls closed. But it's hard to do that when only 40 percent of the polls are open in California. We want to make sure that this doesn't happen again.

BLITZER: Well, if you're, if you've had such significant problems, and they sound very serious, why aren't you planning some sort of effort to contest the outcome?

TORRES: Well, because we're not prepared to do that. We're going to do no less, no more, than the Republicans did in the McClintock-Wesley race for controller last November, when they sent operatives from the Republican National Committee to challenge certain ballots and have recounts in certain counties. Huffing Ton did that to Senator Einstein as well.

This is the process that goes down through the 28 days to 30 days where it takes to certify an election.

At this point, I don't see the evidence to suggest that there was a lawsuit. I more see that voting rights violations and process needs to be address, and if there's going to be another recall like this, God forbid, we need to make sure the polling places are open and that these kinds of elections are held when other regularly scheduled state elections are held so that taxpayers don't foot the bill for this.

What do we do tomorrow?

BLITZER: All right...

TORRES: If governor -- if Arnold Schwarzenegger becomes governor, we have to work together as Democrats and Republicans for the better of all Californians.

BLITZER: Well, let me bring Duf Sundheim back. Irregularities, what do you make of what your colleague, Art TORRES, your counterpart, just said?

SUNDHEIM: Well, I -- we've been looking at -- into this all day long. There were problems in Los Angeles County early in the day. The secretary of state and the registrar of voters tried to address those. I'm not familiar with specific allegations later in the day.

But clearly, Wolf, there's an overwhelming mandate here for change, and that's what we're going to be focusing on. I'm going to go back into the woodwork. Governor Schwarzenegger's going to step forward, and he's going to be the one that's going to provide the leadership with the Democrats in Sacramento to address these important issues.

And we need...

TORRES: We both...

SUNDHEIM: ... to move forward together.

TORRES: We both need to rest, Duf.

BLITZER: One final question before you start resting, Art TORRES, how do you like the words that I'm about to say, Governor- elect Arnold Schwarzenegger?

TORRES: May God's blessings be upon him if that's the case, and may God bless California. Together, now, the hard part begins. Campaigning has ended, it's now time to govern. And that's the toughest challenge for all of us. BLITZER: Now, just -- and just to clarify this one point, there was wild speculation throughout the day that if Arnold Schwarzenegger is elected, it won't be long before some Democrats try to recall him. Can you put that to rest right now?

TORRES: Well, that's not my intention, and quite frankly, are those that would like to see that, for all the obvious reasons. But obviously he's going to have a tough time the first few months if he's certified as elected. But I assure you that the leadership in both houses of the legislature want to do what's best for California, not to cut education, to make sure that our environment is protected, and a woman's right to choose is protected.

And I think that both campaigns have tried to raise those issues and will continue to do so.

BLITZER: Art TORRES, thanks very much for joining us.

TORRES: Take care, Wolf.

BLITZER: Duf Sundheim, thanks to you as well, I guess, to Duf Sundheim we can say (UNINTELLIGIBLE) congratulations, Arnold Schwarzenegger.

TORRES: Please let me say that as well, Wolf, congratulations, Duf, job well done.

SUNDHEIM: Thank you, Art. Thanks for a hard-fought battle.

BLITZER: All right. Thanks to both of you for joining us.

Let's go to Washington now. People over at the White House, of course, have been watching what's happening in California very closely. There are national ramifications of what has happened here today, and our senior White House correspondent, John King, is joining us now with some of his thoughts.

So what does it mean for the president of the United States, John?

JOHN KING, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, make no mistake about it, they are quite happy at the Bush White House tonight. We are told there will be no official statement from the president tonight. But we are also told he will call Governor-elect Schwarzenegger tomorrow morning to say congratulations.

As to what this means for the president, the president's political team makes the case that this is a vote to throw the bum out, meaning Governor Gray Davis, not the bums out. They do not see this as some national referendum anti incumbency.

Although they will do this, they will study these exit polls very closely. They want to see, number one, if Arnold Schwarzenegger is attracting new voters to the Republican Party. Is there any way President Bush can benefit from that, any way he can adjust his strategy? They also think with a newly energized Republican Party in California, perhaps even more money could be raised for the Bush campaign, not that has been a problem.

They do worry, of course, that in Arnold Schwarzenegger, you will have a governor, assuming all these exit polls are correct, who has alienated some of the Republican Party's conservative base with his support of abortion rights, his support of gay rights. They will be closely watching in the early months of a Schwarzenegger administration.

The president will welcome this. His aides will try to make the case that this proves to them California is in play next year. But they also do not want to alienate their conservative base so critical to this president across the country next year.

So there's a bit of a delicate balance. And Wolf, the national debate about this already has begun. Howard Dean, one of the leading Democratic candidates, has a statement out tonight. He says this election was not about Gray Davis or about Arnold Schwarzenegger, Governor Dean trying to make the case this was about dissatisfaction with the national economy and the president of the United States. You can be certain the White House will contest that view, Wolf.

BLITZER: Well, a lot of those Democratic presidential candidates came here to California, the former president, Bill Clinton, came here to campaign against the recall for Gray Davis. What does this mean for the Democratic Party nationally, John?

KING: Well, the Democrats will make the case that even Art TORRES, the California Democratic chairman, just conceded in your interview with him, that this was a wildly unpopular governor and a governor who does not have the greatest political skills to rally his base.

We saw Bill Clinton in a great deal of trouble nationally. He had the political skills to rally.

They will say this is about Gray Davis, and that they, of course, as loyal soldiers, went out to try to help him. But they will study those exit polls as well.

If California is competitive in a presidential election, that hurts the Democrats, even if the Democrat in the end wins, if George W. Bush can force the Democratic nominee next year to spend a great deal of time and, more importantly, a great deal of money in California, that helps the Republicans, because that is money not spent in a state like Louisiana or a state like North Carolina, a state that the Democrats always try to take away from the Republican base.

So first thing tomorrow morning, if not even late tonight here on the East Coast, you can bet strategists in both parties will closely look at these exit polls. Remember, it was the 1993 gubernatorial elections that were the precursor of what happened in 1994, when the Republicans swept across the country into power and seized control of Congress.

Most believe this is isolated to California, that this is an election that's off by itself because of the unique recall dynamics. But they will want to look closely to study if there are any national lessons here.

BLITZER: All right, John King, thanks very much. We'll be checking back with you.

Candy Crowley is over at Gray Davis campaign headquarters, where we're getting some initial reaction from the governor, Candy.

CROWLEY: Well, actually, we heard this initially about a couple of hours ago. Look, the Gray Davis campaign new this was going down before noon in California time because they were talking to us about it. So they had been prepared for this. And when the governor went on Larry King a couple of hours ago, he did in fact have a certain amount of resignation in his words.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LARRY KING, "LARRY KING LIVE": If you do go down tonight, will you cooperate with the governor-elect?

GOV. GRAY DAVIS (D), CALIFORNIA: Yes. That's an obligation, I believe. Governor Wilson cooperated in my transition from him to me. And I will cooperate in the transition, if that's the voter's will, with whoever they choose tonight.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: Once again, that on "LARRY KING LIVE." A precursor, I think, to what we're going to hear tonight, Wolf. The governor's speech has been written; he is going over it. He spent a quiet night tonight just with family surrounding him. Aides tell us that this will be an early evening in California time -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Candy Crowley, thanks very much.

Jeff Greenfield, do you have a thought on what we just heard?

GREENFIELD: Well, the irony here is that the Republican Party embraced Arnold Schwarzenegger, who was a candidate that probably, based on recent California history, could not have survived the Republican primary. Just a year ago, the Republicans rejected a pro- choice, pro-gay rights Los Angeles mayor, Richard Riordan, and put in place an anti-abortion, anti-gay rights, very conservative candidate, Bill Simon, who Gray Davis beat. He was the guy he wanted to run against.

But because there was a recall election, because there was no primary, they were able to put in a guy who, on social matters, fits the profile of California. This is a state where even Republicans want to win with a candidate who is more moderate on social issues. If Schwarzenegger had to run on a primary, would a conservative base have embraced him? I don't know. They saw a chance to win, to get a Democrat out that they had just lost to a year ago, and they took that chance. This was a pragmatic, not an ideological decision.

BLITZER: And everybody always assumed that Arnold Schwarzenegger felt he had that one unique chance to become governor of California without having to endure a bitter Republican primary contest. He threw his hat in the ring, and this clearly paid off. But let's see how it's paying off with some actual numbers that we're getting in from Sacramento, the state capital.

Take a look at this. With about four percent of the voting now in, Arnold Schwarzenegger has more than 700,000 votes. Cruz Bustamante, the lieutenant governor, under 400,000 votes. And Tom McClintock, the Republican state senator, 169,000 votes.

Let's take a look and get some reaction from Tom McClintock. Our correspondent, Miguel Marquez, is in Sacramento and he's covering his campaign headquarters -- Miguel.

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: How are you there, Wolf? Tom McClintock will be in this room here at the Hyatt right across the street from the capitol in Sacramento in just a few minutes to concede the election. I was talking to one of his campaign staffers a few moments ago and he said that he's on the phone with Arnold Schwarzenegger as we speak, conceding to him, the presumptive governor, starting a new process for both of them.

Tom McClintock, a conservative state senator here in California, will now be serving with Arnold Schwarzenegger, the governor-elect of California, it seems. I talked to him a short time ago as he came into the building here. I asked him how his day went. He said it was sublime, even though he will be conceding here in just a few minutes.

The question still out there, though, is what all this means to him. He was under enormous pressure, as you know, from other Republicans to get out of the race -- out of this race in the event that he might be a spoiler to Arnold Schwarzenegger. It's something he said he would not do, and it's something he obviously did not do. And so it's still unclear as to whether or not this raises his stock or lowers his stock here in Sacramento.

But shortly, Tom McClintock will be on the podium behind me conceding this race. Moving along -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Miguel, thanks very much for that.

Let's bring in Janet Clayton now. She's from the editorial page of the "Los Angeles Times." She's joining us now live.

Your editorial page urged voters to vote against the recall. They clearly voted in favor of the recall, Janet.

JANET CLAYTON, "LOS ANGELES TIMES": Yes, Wolf, that's true. I think this is a case of misdirected anger, but valid anger nonetheless. People are fed up with the way the business has been done in Sacramento. And, therefore, they struck out using the only tool that was available to them, which is the recall. Our position has been that there ought to be other tools available to them, that there ought to be a complete reform of the political process in Sacramento, so that people can then get this government that we all deserve here.

BLITZER: What happened -- why is Gray Davis -- to viewers out there who may not be as intimately familiar with all the nuances here in California, what happened? Only 11 months ago he was elected the governor of California. And now he's out.

CLAYTON: Yes, Wolf, but he wasn't elected by much of a margin just a year ago. He was up against a very weak opponent and barely limped through that way. So he's not been a popular governor for a while, wasn't popular last year, really. But he was a lesser of two evils.

He's not a warm guy. And I don't think it's intentional, but he doesn't come off well. He comes off as -- his own neighbors have described him as a cold fish. He just doesn't move people, and it seems today that his base didn't obviously -- if your projections are correct -- didn't come out for him, because he just doesn't move them.

BLITZER: Are you surprised, Janet, that Cruz Bustamante did apparently as poorly as he did in this contest against Arnold Schwarzenegger for question two of the ballot?

CLAYTON: Indeed, Wolf. Again, we haven't confirmed, of course, that Bustamante has done poorly. But if he does do poorly, no it would not surprise me.

He was a weak and fairly ineffective candidate. He just didn't project well. He didn't give people confidence that he was going to be substantially better than the incumbent, Governor Davis.

BLITZER: Janet Clayton, thanks very much for your analysis. We'll be getting back to you as well.

Let's bring in our guests here in our studio in Los Angeles. Carlos Swanson, he's a Democratic analyst, and Julie Vandermost, she's the president of California Women's Leadership Association.

As we get more of these numbers, Carlos, and we see how poorly the Democrats really have done, a slam dunk against Gray Davis, against Cruz Bustamante as well.

WATSON: A couple things stand out here. One, a poorly run campaign on the part of both Democrats. Gray Davis, frankly, although he was unpopular, waited way too late to either go on the attack or, as one of the guests said, to offer a compelling alternative as to, here is why to keep me in office, here's what will happen to the economy, here's what will happen on health care, here's what will happen in terms of public safety.

On the other side, there are two names that our viewers have to remember if they really want to understand Arnold's victory. One is Maria Shriver Kennedy. Without Maria Shriver Kennedy, Arnold would have had a much more difficult time. That's his wife. He would have had a much more difficult time combating the charges that he had in the end of the campaign.

Number two is Pete Wilson. When all is said and done, you had Arnold, who was a complete novice, who had the benefit of the last Republican governor who served two terms, and who before that had won two terms in the U.S. Senate running his campaign. You can't pay for talent and experience like that, and both of those people were as critical to the ultimate win as Arnold himself.

BLITZER: I think it's fair to say, Julie, that Maria Shriver did play a significant role helping her husband.

VANDERMOST: Well, she presented a wonderful speech last Friday at our luncheon down in Newport Beach, and we were all taken aback by her. She came into our room, Wolf, with 250 people, and shook every single person's hand in that room and said, "Hi, I'm Maria."

And I do agree with Carlos. I think she's a wonderful addition. I also have to say that it just proves that Arnold does know how to surround himself with great people. He's going to do that in the governorship, and everything is going to be going on the right track in Sacramento.

And I'm very pleased to hear the Democratic leader saying that they're here to help. And I think together we're going to be able to rebuild the state.

BLITZER: Were you surprised, Carlos, that Art Torres says they're not going to contest this, they're not going to seek any legal action right now? They're going to reach out and hope that there will be a smooth transition for the sake of the people of California.

WATSON: Well, remember, Will Rogers says, "I don't belong to an organized party; I'm a Democrat." So the fact that the chairman of the party said that doesn't necessarily mean that that's a line they're going to hold.

Again, remember that Gray Davis didn't want Cruz Bustamante to run. And Bustamante jumped in without prior approval. So it's not clear that that's what will happen.

But here's one of the things, Wolf, that I think we need to pay a little bit of attention to. Go back 30 years and think about the 1972 presidential election. At the time, we hear about a break-in called Watergate, and it doesn't seem like a big deal. And Richard Nixon cruises to a victory, winning 40-plus states out of 50.

These same issues that are coming up about sexual misconduct, if there turns out to be more than issue and actually some criminal doing here, this issue could come back. What may look like a huge victory today may not look like that tomorrow.

BLITZER: Well, we've heard from a lot of the prosecutors that the statue of limitations has apparently lapsed. So as far as a criminal investigation, that seems unlikely. But I'll let you respond to that.

WATSON: Wolf, let me just add one more thing. That was on the first 11 that we heard about. But remember there have been four new allegations since, and there may be more.

So I agree that this issue may be over and done, but, again, we never know. And politics certainly is a strange work. So something to pay attention to.

BLITZER: Are you worried about that?

VANDERMOST: No, I'm not. And one of the things that is so sad about all of these allegations is we don't know who to believe. We have a governor who we don't trust, and that's very sad that we can sit here and think that he's behind this. And, in fact, I think it's been proven out in the papers over the past couple of days that he is behind some of this. And so that's a real shame.

BLITZER: All right. Julie and Carlos, we're going to ask both of you to stay with us because we have a lot of other issues, important issues to talk about. And both of you know California politics quite well.

Joining me now are two people who were involved with the recall effort personally, albeit in very different ways. Republican Congressman Darrell Issa used his own money to bankroll the recall petition drive, then backed away from running himself after Arnold Schwarzenegger joined the race. He's at Schwarzenegger's headquarters here in Los Angeles.

Also here in Los Angeles, Arianna Huffington. She joined the race as an Independent candidate and took part in the debates, then dropped out of the race last week.

Darrel Issa, I guess you must be looking back and saying to yourself, this could have been you.

REP. DARRELL ISSA (R), CALIFORNIA: Oh, no, no. Look, there are no regrets in a campaign like this. Clearly, Arnold Schwarzenegger was a special candidate for a special election at a special time in California's history.

The voters are energized. Yes, they're energized to recall a failed governor, but it's more than a failed governor. It's a new direction and a very exciting governor that's going to lead us in a direction free of special interests.

BLITZER: Arianna, are you convinced that this is going to work out smoothly?

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON (I), FMR. CALIFORNIA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: Well, you know, what Darrell Issa said is exactly the message that Schwarzenegger ran on, that he's running again special interests. And it's really laughable, Wolf, because if you look down the list of the contributors to the Schwarzenegger campaign, it's a who's who of special interests: big developers, big polluters, (UNINTELLIGIBLE). But it was a very effective campaign, because he tapped into this longing for real change, this longing to change politics as usual. He spent $20 million, wall-to-wall advertising, clothing himself in the mantle of the reformer. But then if he surrounds himself with the Pete Wilsons of this world, it's going to be a very different administration than the message he campaigned on.

BLITZER: All right. Let me let Congressman Issa respond to that. Congressman, go ahead.

ISSA: Arianna, when you pulled out with about two percent of the vote or less, having run a Green Party, left wing campaign, and then joined the governor's team, Governor Gray Davis' team, I thought you were better than that. I'm surprised that here you are talking about special interests.

You know, clearly, Arnold Schwarzenegger put a ton of his own money, he was a reluctant candidate, came in because Dick Riordan didn't run, and has done a wonderful job of talking and showing that he has a vision for a new and better California. And, at a time in which the jobs that pay for the lifestyle you enjoy are leaving California in record numbers, I wish you would at least have a little sympathy for the only candidate that can bring back economic vitality to California.

BLITZER: Arianna, go ahead.

HUFFINGTON: You know, Wolf and Darrell, what is actually interesting, and what is a (UNINTELLIGIBLE) national politics, is that this fundamental anger at business as usual, that basically was the downfall of Gray Davis, is across the nation. It isn't just in California. And I think it's going to be very interesting to see how George Bush deals with this, because Howard Dean is actually...

(CROSSTALK)

ISSA: Oh, Arianna.

HUFFINGTON: Darrell, let me finish.

ISSA: But, Arianna, when you talk about this being a national campaign...

BLITZER: Wait a minute. Congressman, hold on one second. Let her finish her thought, then I'll let you respond. Go ahead, Arianna.

ISSA: Thank you.

HUFFINGTON: You know, Howard Dean was the beneficiary of this the way Schwarzenegger was the beneficiary of this. That's what is so confusing here.

You may remember, in 2000, when John McCain was (UNINTELLIGIBLE), George Bush adopted the message and called himself a reformer with results. So basically, right now, any candidate that has a lot of money can (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the reformer message. But then the question is, how are they actually going to govern?

BLITZER: All right. Congressman, go ahead.

ISSA: Well, you know, look, you've got a legacy of talking your husband into spending $5 million to buy a Republican congressional seat and then $45 million in a Senate race that he probably really didn't want to do. You certainly know about what money can do.

But this is a very different candidate. This is a candidate that excited the voters of California. And, more importantly, this is a recall that the voters wanted from day one.

You know, Arianna, you probably don't realize this, but we did not spend one penny at Rescue California on advertising. Everything was pure media. The fact is, the voters wanted this, and tonight, by about 60 percent, they're turning out a failed governor, something that's never happened in California before, probably will never happen again.

And you still come to the defense of Gray Davis, a man who took a $10 billion surplus, turned it into a $38 billion deficit. And, by the way, he did that without attacking SUVs, something that you wanted to do on top of that.

BLITZER: All right. Arianna, at this moment, when Governor Gray Davis has been recalled and Arnold Schwarzenegger will be elected the next governor of California, perhaps it's time -- I'm just throwing this out -- for those of you who are so critical of Arnold Schwarzenegger to give him a little bit of a chance to step in and to smoothly take in the reigns of power.

HUFFINGTON: Oh, absolutely, Wolf. But the question remains, how is he going to govern? And are the special interests that are surrounding him and funding his campaign actually going to demand their paybacks? The chances are they will.

And so all that needs to be scrutinized. But absolutely everybody wishes him well. I mean, this is for the state, this is for the sake of the people of the state.

But, as you know, Wolf, he never told us how he's going to balance the budget beyond promising not to increase taxes and not to cut programs. So there is a lot at stake here. And scrutinizing an administration does not mean that we don't wish them well.

BLITZER: Congressman Issa, you have the last word. Go ahead.

ISSA: Well, Wolf, I hope that Arianna will ask Gray Davis and the Democrat hit machine that has been constantly beating on Arnold, and who have launched 14 separate attempts to stop this election, not to use another 14 groups of lawyers to try to slow down the process of a change in government. Clearly, California needs to have a quick changeover to Governor Schwarzenegger. Clearly, that's something that's in the best interest of the people.

And I hope Arianna would join with me in asking Gray Davis to do the right thing, make this a smooth and quick transition. It's clear the voters spoke here tonight, and that Arnold Schwarzenegger should be assuming the governor's office within days.

BLITZER: Darrell Issa, who helped get this recall started many, many months ago, congressman from California, thanks very much.

ISSA: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Arianna Huffington, a former candidate, thanks to you as well.

HUFFINGTON: Thank you.

BLITZER: Let's take a quick look at where the actual hard vote, the real vote stands right now. This coming in from the secretary of state's office in Sacramento. With about 11 percent of the vote reported right now, 57 percent say, yes, the governor of California, Gray Davis, should be recalled. Forty-three percent say, no. That's quite a decisive majority with 11 percent of the vote right now.

As far as who should replace Gray Davis, nearly a million votes so far say it should be the actor turned politician, Arnold Schwarzenegger. A little bit more than half a million, by an almost two to one margin so far, with 11 percent of the vote coming in, saying that Cruz Bustamante should not be the next governor of California.

Bill Schneider is tracking our exit polls. He's got some information about how Latinos voted here in California -- Bill.

BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Wolf, 18 percent of the voters were Latino voters. And a lot of people expected them to be a block vote. Gray Davis signed a bill allowing illegal immigrants to obtain driver's licenses.

That was called pandering. Did it pay off? Forty-seven percent, almost half the Latinos voted to recall Governor Davis. Well, there's gratitude for you.

But, how did they vote in the replacement election? Did they vote for one of their own, Cruz Bustamante? Fifty-two percent did, but that's a bare majority. Thirty percent of Latino voters, nearly a third, voted for Arnold Schwarzenegger.

So, Wolf, my conclusion is the Latino vote cannot be really described as a block vote. It looks more like a swing vote.

BLITZER: It looks like that indeed. Thanks very much, Bill Schneider.

And joining me now, here is Antonio Gonzalez. He's president of the William C. Velasquez Institution.

A lot of people thought Latinos would vote sort of in big numbers for Cruz Bustamante. It didn't happen. Why? ANTONIO GONZALEZ, LATINO POLITICAL EXPERT: Well, Cruz Bustamante's campaign had trouble from the beginning. He really went into decline after the big widely viewed debate about two weeks ago. And, at that time, we had a survey in the field that showed that he was really not doing very well among Latinos and not doing well just in general.

So these polling results sort of track what we already had seen. Cruz suffered from the division among Democrats. It was masked over publicly between competition between him and Governor Davis. And his campaign was almost stillborn from the beginning, and we're seeing really what you get is the ideal Republican scenario: Latinos essentially divided and neutralized as political players.

BLITZER: The governor, as you know, in the weeks leading up to this election, he signed that bill, that legislation, allowing undocumented immigrants to get driver's licenses. A lot of people thought he was pandering, if you will, to the Latino vote. Apparently it didn't help him much. They voted pretty much split as well on the overall issue of whether or not he should be recalled.

GONZALEZ: That's correct. Even though that bill, the driver's license, is probably one of the most important and popular measures among Latinos supported across all demographics, including Latino Republicans, nevertheless, Gray Davis did too little in too late. He should have done it a year earlier, and he wasn't forgiven by Latinos and supported for vetoing the bill a year earlier. Even they considered that he was pandering to them.

BLITZER: Antonio Gonzalez, we're going to ask you to sit here, because we're going to be getting back to you. Thanks very much.

Jeff Greenfield wants to make a point as well.

GREENFIELD: Just a quick point on this. According to one survey, 32 percent of Latinos were more likely to vote for Gray Davis after he signed that bill, 27 percent less likely. And it infuriated the non-Latinos not just because it seemed to be some kind of reward for breaking the law, but because Davis had twice vetoed it on security grounds.

And so the benefit that he got was marginal, as you say. And the sense of Gray Davis as a "I'll do anything to gain votes when I'm in trouble" politician, was only (UNINTELLIGIBLE). It shows you the law of unintended consequences in politics.

BLITZER: You've got to wonder where he was getting his political advice when he went ahead and signed that legislation. Jeff, thanks very much.

John King is in Washington, D.C. He's trying to follow national developments, the ramifications from this historic recall election here in California -- John.

KING: Well, Wolf, you're breaking down the numbers, looking at things like the Latino vote, looking at voter anger. That is exactly what both the Bush White House and the Democratic Party will do starting tonight and then into the days and weeks ahead. California often at the forefront of national trends, whether it is the tax revolt movement of several years ago, the environmental movement.

Most believe this is an isolated case of a state that turned on its governor. But because there is a slow national economy, because, like Governor Davis, this president has gone from surpluses to deficits, they will want to look closely at the numbers of how people voted on the issues, what drove them, how different constituencies broke down.

At the Bush White House, they will view this as a victory. The four largest states, in terms of population in the country now, California, Texas, Florida and New York, have Republican governors. That helps the president raise money; that helps the president find activists to work in his own campaign.

Will California be in play in 2004?

BLITZER: All right. John, I want to interrupt. Tom McClintock, the Republican state senator, who ran for this race, is about to speak to his supporters in Sacramento. And let's listen in as he announces that he is conceding to Arnold Schwarzenegger.

STATE SEN. TOM MCCLINTOCK (R), CALIFORNIA: Thank you all. Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you all.

(APPLAUSE)

MCCLINTOCK: Thank you. Thank you.

Thank you all so very much. I particularly want to begin by thanking my family, who have born the burdens of this campaign. Unless you're a candidate, you don't really know how much your family suffers along with you through all the travails and challenges of a campaign. And they're here with me tonight, and I want to thank them for standing by me through this long campaign.

(APPLAUSE)

MCCLINTOCK: And to our small and mighty campaign staff, headed by John Fallese (ph), my sincere thanks.

I have just spoken to Governor-Elect Arnold Schwarzenegger and pledged to him my wholehearted support in undertaking the great responsibilities which the people have entrusted him with. This is a great day for California. History will record that on this day in response to a common danger, the people of California rose to their duties as citizens and ordered a new direction for our state.

A great discussion has taken place over the last 75 days over the future of California. It's a discussion that has involved every citizen, and it has been the greatest honor and greatest privilege of my life to have been a part of that discussion. The agenda that I announced at the outset of this campaign has been adopted not only by other candidates, but by the vast majority of Californians. (APPLAUSE)

MCCLINTOCK: The vision that we offered of rolling back the taxes and the regulations that have choked our economy, of reining our out of control bureaucracies, and of restoring our public works, has clearly resonated across the electorate and now becomes a solid mandate for this new administration.

(APPLAUSE)

MCCLINTOCK: And I want to thank all of those who supported this campaign, all of those who worked so tirelessly and against such long odds, all of those who contributed so generously. I believe that our campaign acted as the conscience of this election and framed...

(APPLAUSE)

MCCLINTOCK: ... and that we framed the issues upon which this contest was ultimately decided. Thank you.

BLITZER: Tom McClintock, the Republican state senator of California. He ran, but not strong enough. Could not overcome Cruz Bustamante or, for that matter, Arnold Schwarzenegger. He's conceding right now in Sacramento.

Our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider, is looking at the exit poll numbers, the real numbers. Bill, there's some interesting elements involving Tom McClintock.

SCHNEIDER: There certainly are some interesting numbers, because, which candidate do you think elicited the most favorable impression from the voters, Arnold Schwarzenegger? No. Cruz Bustamante only 37 percent favorable. Fifty percent said Schwarzenegger they had a positive opinion of.

It was Tom McClintock who drew the highest favorability ratings in this election. So, why didn't he win? Because voters said they didn't think he could be elected.

He only got about one in five votes from Republicans and conservatives. They went overwhelming from Schwarzenegger. But they liked McClintock, who comes out of this something of a hero.

BLITZER: Was there apparently a sense, Bill, that a lot of Republicans, although they may have wanted to vote for Tom McClintock, felt it might be a wasted vote and they might go into those polling booths holding their noses and voting for Arnold Schwarzenegger who is very liberal on many of the so-called social issues?

SCHNEIDER: They wanted a winner. Schwarzenegger looked like a winner, McClintock did not. That's the answer.

BLITZER: All right. Bill, Jeff Greenfield has a point to make on this as well.

GREENFIELD: Tom McClintock, who almost was elected controller in 2002, is the kind of Republican who (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Republican primaries. He's conservative on most of those social issues.

Next year, there's a Senate race in this state involving Barbara Boxer. I'd be very unsurprised if Tom McClintock doesn't enter that race.

BLITZER: So his future may be still rosy. Let's take a look at the hard numbers we're getting right now in from Sacramento. Look at this.

With about 13 percent of the vote in, 56 percent say, yes, that Governor Gray Davis should in fact be recalled; 44 percent say no to recall. And as far as who should succeed Gray Davis, the winner, as we have projected, Arnold Schwarzenegger, with about 13 percent in. Nearly a million votes, almost twice as many as the runner-up, Cruz Bustamante. Arnold Schwarzenegger decisively defeating Cruz Bustamante.

Much more coverage of this historic election in California. We'll be right back.

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