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America Votes 2004

Aired February 3, 2004 - 22:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: Now from CNN Election Headquarters here's Wolf Blitzer.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to CNN's special coverage of America Votes 2004.

The voting has ended in all seven states holding contests today. John Kerry and John Edwards can claim key victories. Joe Lieberman, on the other hand, is headed home. Senator Lieberman was unable to win a single caucus or primary and, after a disappointing finish in today's contests, he withdrew from the race just a short time ago.

John Edwards did what he had to do. He won South Carolina, a state he acknowledged was a must win for his campaign.

John Kerry is the day's big winner. He picked up four states, including the biggest prize Missouri where 74 delegates were at stake. Kerry also took Delaware's 15 delegates getting a majority of votes cast in that state.

And, CNN projects Kerry the winner in the North Dakota caucuses, 14 delegates were at stake there. Kerry was also dominant out west. He came out on top in Arizona with its large Hispanic minority bringing home that state's 55 delegates, the night's biggest drama unfolding right now still in Oklahoma where it's still too close to call among Edwards, Wesley Clark and John Kerry.

Our correspondents are spread out all over the country tonight. Let's go right to Bruce Morton though. He's at Joe Lieberman's headquarters in Arlington, Virginia right outside Washington, D.C.

BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, first there was a meeting at the headquarters. The family was there. Staff was there. Chris Dodd, the Connecticut Senator was there.

And they talked about the campaign, where it was and what to do and at the end Hadassah had the last word and then Senator Lieberman came into this ballroom and said it's over. The fight goes on but in the U.S. Senate -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Bruce, any indication that Joe Lieberman right now is going to endorse any of these other candidates?

MORTON: No. He didn't say anything about endorsing. He made his speech here, declined interviews. He did say, of course, that he would support the nominee whoever that might be. BLITZER: From Arlington let's go out to Seattle, Washington. Kelly Wallace is covering John Kerry's campaign. She's in Seattle -- Kelly.

KELLY WALLACE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we should be hearing from the Senator himself. He will be doing an interview with CNN just moments from now. One aide described the feeling of the campaign as being ecstatic, saying to win possibly five of seven states after Iowa and New Hampshire is a "pretty impressive show of force."

The message from this campaign is that John Kerry can win all across the country with all ethnic groups. They are downplaying in some way saying that they were not surprised by John Edwards' victory in South Carolina and even if he pulls out a victory in Oklahoma saying this was expected they are trying to say that John Kerry is a national candidate and saying that John Edwards is a regional one -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Frank Buckley is standing by, Kelly. Frank Buckley is over at John Edwards' campaign headquarters in Columbia, South Carolina, a state he won.

FRANK BUCKLEY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf, this was a do or die state for John Edwards. He has won it. He told us that if he did win this state it would narrow the field to two. That, of course, remains to be seen.

We expected by now that we would be in an airplane headed to Tennessee where he plans to campaign next but we are not because John Edwards is still here eagerly awaiting the results of Oklahoma. We'll tell you what John Edwards had to say here earlier tonight -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, thanks Frank Buckley for that.

Let's show our viewers what's happening in Oklahoma right now. We got actual votes coming in. Take a look at this. In Oklahoma, a very, very, very close contest right now. We don't have those numbers up on the screen but we'll get those numbers. Once we do we'll show our viewers a three-way very close race unfolding in Oklahoma right now.

In fact here they are right now. With 88 percent of the vote now in, look at this. Wesley Clark is at 30 percent, just slightly, slightly above John Edwards with 30 percent, 26 percent for John Kerry, Lieberman, Dean, Sharpton much further behind only 12 percent of the votes still outstanding. We'll continue to watch what's happening in Oklahoma where it's still up in the air.

Candy Crowley is standing by over at Howard Dean's campaign headquarters up in Tacoma, Washington, a very disappointing night, Candy, for Howard Dean.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think probably this darkened almost empty theater pretty much tells the story. The Dean campaign took a look at the next seven states right after New Hampshire and figured they weren't going to win any of them.

So they have been looking forward ever since then, first to Washington State and to Michigan, which hold contests this coming Saturday and also to Wisconsin, which holds a contest on the 17th of this month.

So, this campaign is moving on even though, of course, it is now zero for nine in all of these contests so far but the Dean campaign says they are still bringing in money and he said tonight he's going to keep going and going and going -- Wolf.

BLITZER: I think he said he was like the Energizer bunny. We'll see what happens. Candy Crowley thanks very much.

Dan Lothian is in Oklahoma City. He's covering Wes Clark's campaign, Dan, I guess there's a lot of nervous people over there.

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN BOSTON BUREAU CHIEF: Well, there is a lot of excitement here, as you can hear behind me. These enthusiastic supporters every time they see the numbers for retired General Wesley Clark bump a little bit they start shouting as they are doing behind me now.

Earlier tonight I had a chance to sit down and talk with General Wesley Clark. He was having dinner with his family and with some top aides. A little later on we'll talk about his reaction to the numbers -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right we'll get to that. Thanks very much Dan Lothian.

We heard earlier during "LARRY KING LIVE" from Al Sharpton. Joe Johns is covering that campaign in Columbia, South Carolina -- Joe.

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Al Sharpton is holding a news conference here right now. He says he's done better than expected. He's beaten the polls, beaten the pundits ending up he thinks in double digits here in South Carolina.

The big question, of course, is whether he will be able to get any delegates to the Democratic National Convention. That is a question that remains to be seen. He needs 15 percent of the vote in a congressional district or statewide. It could still be close in at least one congressional district -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. That's from the Al Sharpton campaign, Joe Johns in Columbia, South Carolina.

Bill Schneider, our Senior Political Analyst has been looking at the numbers, specifically in Arizona. How did John Kerry win in Arizona?

BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: He won in Arizona the same way he won in several other states tonight. He won on electability. Take a look at voters who said the most important thing was finding a candidate I agree with on the issues. Now, Kerry did win that category but it was very close, Kerry 33, Clark 29, among Arizona Democrats today with Dean trailing.

They were divided but if you ask people -- when people said that defeating Bush was more important than agreement on the issues, Kerry clearly dominated that three to one over Wesley Clark with Dean trailing very, very badly.

It was that electability quality that voters in Arizona and in Missouri and in many other states saw in John Kerry. We're seeing this pattern in state after state -- Wolf.

BLITZER: So, it's pretty consistent is that what you're saying based on these exit polls?

SCHNEIDER: It is absolutely consistent. The mention of electability draws voters to John Kerry.

BLITZER: All right. We've got some numbers I want to put up on the screen and let me show them to our viewers in a recent CNN/USA Today Gallup poll, the most recent one.

Take a look at this hypothetical match-up between John Kerry and George W. Bush. John Kerry gets 53 percent of the vote, 46 percent of the vote going to George W. Bush, a four percent sampling error.

And, take a look at this in the same poll a Bush approval rating going for the first time in his presidency below, below 50 percent, 49 percent approval, 48 percent disapproval, a three point sampling error.

Let's bring in our Senior White House Correspondent John King. He's following all of this. He's at the White House. What are they saying over there John?

JOHN KING, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, for starters no official reaction to the Democratic campaign although at the White House tonight you can bet they're watching very closely. They believe that Senator John Kerry is the likely Democratic nominee but they are watching Senator John Edwards quite closely.

The White House would say this just as the Democrats are saying tonight that it is the full expectation of this White House that South Carolina is solid Republican territory, solid Bush country in the fall, so John Edwards will have to prove himself somewhere other than South Carolina.

And they would say the same thing of course, Wolf, about Oklahoma. If Oklahoma is in play in November then George W. Bush is in a lot of trouble. Nobody expects Oklahoma to be a battleground state in the fall.

You cited those polls. In terms of being behind Senator Kerry and even within the margin of error with Senator Edwards right now, the White House says that is to be expected given all the media attention and the public attention focused on the Democratic race right now.

The number they are much more concerned about is that approval rating. When an incumbent falls below 50 percent that sets off alarms and in the Bush campaign, Wolf, one of the discussions right now is when to start spending the huge fund-raising advantage.

This president has more than $100 million in the bank. That is more than ten times the total amount of all the Democrats combined right now. Some in the Bush campaign say perhaps by the end of this month you could see some of that money being spent on television ads in an effort to counter the Democratic attacks and to boost the president's poll numbers, which all here concede have sagged a bit during the heavy focus and the heavy attacks from the Democrats.

BLITZER: John, in recent days we've seen several Republican leaders go directly after John Kerry raising all sorts of questions about his voting record over these decades in the U.S. Senate. Is that the primary focus right now, John Kerry trying to go after him as a bulls eye?

KING: They did it a bit to Senator Edwards too, much more so on Senator Kerry right now because he has emerged as the frontrunner and what the Republicans will tell you is this, Wolf that they're testing some early themes, seeing how Senator Kerry reacts, see how the voters react to questions about his votes in the Senate, especially on the issue of national security.

The Republicans essentially saying they salute Senator Kerry for serving in Vietnam. They salute his patriotism. But they question his judgment as a member of the United States Senate.

They're not expecting to score any knockout blows now and that is not their intent. They want to test some lines of attack, see how he responds and, if they can raise Senator Kerry's negatives and perhaps even Senator Edwards' negatives a little bit and prolong the Democratic contest that would suit the Republicans just fine.

BLITZER: All right, John, stand by over at the White House. We'll get back to you.

Let's go out to Arizona right now. CNN's Ed Lavandera is in Phoenix. He's actually speaking with voters out there on this key issue, Ed, of electability. How important of a factor is it?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN DALLAS BUREAU CHIEF: Well, I think we're getting a pretty good indication here that it is an important factor, perhaps not for Joy Clayton. You voted for Howard Dean today.


LAVANDERA: The idea of Kerry, a lot of people voting for Kerry just because he could have a better chance of beating Bush. Do you think that's playing out a lot or do you think that's important at all? CLAYTON: Well, I personally am -- was supporting George -- Howard Dean but I think it is important that people feel that their candidate can be elected because it's important for us to win as Democrats and it's important for us all to support the candidate that is elected.

LAVANDERA: So you guys feeling the same way?

MICHAEL HERNANDEZ, RUNS NON-PROFIT RADIO STATION FOR FARMWORKERS UNION: Oh, I agree 100 percent. I think we need somebody with leadership and somebody that has integrity to change the whole image of the United States throughout the world. I think that Kerry can do that.

LAVANDERA: Earlier, you said electability was a big issue and you voted for Kerry today.

HERNANDEZ: Big time I see that. When you look on the cameras and look on television you see the firefighters. You see the United Ironworkers. You see all these people surrounding Kerry's camp that are good people that help out in the community that I believe in and that's why I voted for Kerry.

LAVANDERA: Let's get Albert in here.

I would agree with that too but I think more important really is qualities of leadership because if we say oh everybody disagrees with one person I think that is not sufficient, leadership and the ability to formulate public policy and to deal with a lot of people.

ALBERT CELOZA, COLLEGE PROFESSOR OF POLITICAL SCIENCE, RELIGION AND ECONOMICS: One thing I observed when Kerry and other candidates came into Phoenix he was really able to relate to people like one-on- one and I find that to be very important.

LAVANDERA: I think, Wolf, what we're seeing here is that that issue resonating among, not only with these voters here in Arizona, but as you've mentioned seeing it elsewhere across the country as well -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Ed. We'll be getting back to you. Thank you guests for us as well.

We have to take a quick commercial break. When we come back we'll have much more coverage of what's happening in these seven states. We're also standing by to speak directly with Senator John Kerry. He'll be a guest. He's coming up.

Let's take a look at Oklahoma right now. This is -- first Arizona that is, Arizona a state that John Kerry will win with three percent of the vote now in, 44 percent, a very small number going with John Kerry. We're projecting he will be the winner. Wes Clark with 22 -- 26 percent that is, 16 percent for Howard Dean and everyone else way down in Arizona.

But a real battle underway in New Mexico right now. Look at these caucuses in New Mexico. John Kerry with 11 percent of the vote in John Kerry with 28 percent, Howard Dean with 26 percent, Wes Clark with 25 percent, John Edwards, Dennis Kucinich and Joe Lieberman far behind, a real battle the New Mexico caucuses underway.

In Oklahoma another real battle underway. It doesn't get much closer than this between Wes Clark and John Edwards, both at 30 percent. Only a few hundred votes separate them with John Kerry at 26 percent, everyone else further behind.

Judy Woodruff, as we are looking at this, New Mexico seems like a little bit of a surprise right now. It's pretty close, a three-way battle unfolding there as well.

JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: It sure -- it certainly is, Wolf. You know, New Mexico was one of the states that Howard Dean had thought that he might do well in. I find it interesting that he has just eventually in essence abandoned these seven states tonight.

He's written them off. We find him in Washington State. We just saw Candy Crowley there in an empty ballroom, an empty hall. You know are people who are watching these results tonight going to look at Howard Dean and, you know, he is -- at this point he's coming in second but these numbers are very close and it's a caucus state.

What are they going to think? Are they going to think this is somebody who is in this for the long haul? Is this somebody I want to support? These candidates, you know, a decision like the one he made tonight to come out early and disappear those are the decisions that have consequences down the line.

JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SR. ANALYST: I think Judy's point is underlined by the numbers. John Kerry is going to win half the delegates tonight, about 150, Edwards about 75, Clark 45, Dean, Howard Dean under five percent of the delegates maybe 15 delegates having spent $40 million.

And you can just feel, you know, victory has a thousand fathers, defeat is an orphan, that famous John Kennedy line. What are the unions, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal and the Service Employees, what are they going to do in the next few days? Are they going to stay with Dean or not Wolf? We don't know.

BLITZER: All right, well we don't know. Stand by for a second.

I want to go to John Kerry right now. He's joining us live. Senator Kerry, congratulations on your wins tonight.


BLITZER: Very impressive wins in four states, maybe more. We'll see what happens in New Mexico. Give us your bottom line assessment right now. What does this race look like?

KERRY: Well, my bottom line assessment is, first of all, I'm extraordinarily gratified by the returns tonight but most importantly I think it reflects a very significant desire across the country, from one coast to the other, north to south, for change in our country.

People want new leadership. They want a direction that is geared towards working people, putting people back to work in our country. They're tired of watching large interests walk away with a Medicare bill, large interests walk away with an energy bill.

People really think we can do better. We can do better in the world. We can strengthen our nation and I think it's a vote for change and I'm very, very gratified by the returns thus far and I thank all those who went to the polls and who voted tonight.

I particularly want to say a word about Joe and Hadassah, who are great friends. They bring a special spirit to our politics, a great steadfastness of commitment and belief and I think that they'll continue in so many ways to contribute to a civil discourse in our country but I want to say hello to them and thank them for their contribution to this effort.

BLITZER: I know that you came in second in South Carolina. John Edwards won in South Carolina. Some will say, you know, John Kerry is going to have trouble in the south. He's a Massachusetts Democrat. What do you say to those people looking ahead to Virginia, Tennessee, states that are coming up this month?

KERRY: I'm looking forward to those fights. Look, I'm very gratified that Senator Hollings and Congressman Jim Clyburn and Representative James Smith, the Minority Leader of the House and others fought for me down there but the fact is that we were outspent five to one.

I wasn't able to put the same kind of time into it and I congratulate John Edwards on a great job but you have to run across the country in all of the states and I'm the only candidate who went to all seven states over the course of the last week.

I think it's important to do that and it's reflected, I think, in the vote that I'm getting tonight and the support in the four states today and I hope more before the night is over and it's the beginning of an effort, I think, to really try to reach out nationally.

I'm in Washington tonight. We're doing very well here. I'm grateful that the governor of Michigan Jennifer Granholm and the Lieutenant Governor John Cherry for coming out for me in the last few days and Governor Gary Locke here in Washington.

I think we're moving and I think the campaign is growing. I think people want leadership in this country that is fiscally responsible that tells the American people the truth that appeals to common sense in America and I will do that across the south in all parts of the country. The south is part of America. It's as America as any place else with the same concerns.

WOODRUFF: Senator, it's Judy Woodruff.

KERRY: Yes, hi Judy. WOODRUFF: And I want to extend my congratulations as well. When it comes to John Edwards, though, when he came out to make his acceptance speech winning South Carolina tonight he had two lines I want to ask you about.

He said the family you're born into shouldn't determine what you can accomplish in life. And he also said we need a president who understands the hopes and dreams of ordinary Americans. As you know he's been talking out on the campaign trail about being the son of a mill worker.

KERRY: Sure.

WOODRUFF: And clearly he seems to be aiming this message at you. You came from a well-to-do family. Is this going to be a problem?

KERRY: Well, I don't think. No, I don't think so and I don't think he's aiming the message at me. And I would agree with both of his statements. I absolutely agree with both of them and if those statements are true then that's why we had a Franklin Roosevelt and a John Kennedy who were able to be great presidents of the United States.

Where you come from is not what it is about and John is absolutely correct. What matters is what you fight for and what your record is and a lifetime of caring about people.

What I learned a long time ago when I served in the military is nobody asked you where you came from. Nobody cared about what your background was. They cared about whether you were a standup person and fought and they cared about whether you did your duty and covered people and, in fact, stood up for principle.

GREENFIELD: Senator, if I may.

KERRY: All my life...

GREENFIELD: I'm sorry. We have about 30 seconds left. It's Jeff Greenfield. Hi. I talked to a Bush campaign aide today who said we're not going to question John Kerry on his military service but when the folks in America know where he stood on things like opposing the death penalty for terrorists and the (unintelligible) he's not going to make any inroads into that traditional blue collar more conservative Democratic base. Are you worried about that?

KERRY: No, I'm not worried about that because, in fact, I am supportive of the death penalty for terrorists and they know it and they'll try to distort it but it is a fact. And I also do not support gay marriage and they know that.

But I voted against gay bashing on the floor of the United States Senate and I think people in the United States of America want a president who will stand up for civil rights and civil liberties and not drive a wedge between people in our country.

So, I welcome that debate. I welcome that fight. I'll stand up for the Constitution of the United States of America, for equal protection under the law and we deserve a president, incidentally, and an attorney general who will do the same thing.

BLITZER: Senator Kerry, unfortunately we have to leave it right there. Our time is out. Congratulations once again. We'll continue this conversation down the road.

KERRY: Thank you.

BLITZER: A big day, big wins for Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, at least four wins for him tonight.

Bill Schneider is standing by looking at the numbers, getting a little bit more information for us -- Bill.

SCHNEIDER: Well, there's something very special about John Kerry and his sweep of many impressive victories tonight. John Kerry is different from all the other Democrats for one principal reason. He is not a niche candidate. He appeals to Democrats across the board.

All the other candidates appeal to Democrats in a particular niche. For instance, Howard Dean appeals to liberal Democrats so he's got to find states where liberals can be predominant, like Wisconsin.

Joe Lieberman appealed unfortunately to Bush Democrats and there aren't very many of those. John Edwards appeals to southerners, Al Sharpton, African Americans, Wes Clark those who cared most about national security, which wasn't a dominant theme. Only John Kerry appealed to Democrats across the board.

BLITZER: Very interesting, Bill Schneider he's going to continue to look at the numbers for all of us.

We're going to take a quick break, much more to come. We're still waiting to hear what the story is in New Mexico also, a fierce battle, a fierce struggle in Oklahoma.

We've got lots more coverage coming up. Stay with us.

ANNOUNCER: New Mexico's Governor Bill Richardson will be the first Hispanic to chair the National Democratic Convention, a sign of the power of the Hispanic vote in 2004.

New Mexico's Hispanic population is 40 percent and neighboring Arizona has close to 25 percent. And, for the first time, both states are picking Democratic candidates on the same day. That's why some have nicknamed today Hispanic Tuesday.


BLITZER: Welcome back to our continuing coverage of these primaries and these caucuses.

Take a look at this what's happening in Oklahoma right now, an incredibly close race with 92 percent of the actual vote in, in this Democratic primary, look at the number of votes separating Wesley Clark and John Edwards. They're both at 30 percent with John Kerry not all that far behind, about 10,000 votes with 26 percent Lieberman, Dean, Sharpton way behind, an incredibly close race. We'll have to wait the old-fashioned way to see who wins there.

In Missouri, John Kerry we are projecting will win with 57 percent of the vote now and he's going with 50 percent of the vote way ahead of John Edwards with 27 percent, everybody else way, way behind.

Take a look at this. In Arizona, John Kerry will win in Arizona with 57 percent of the vote now in from Arizona. He's got 40 percent, Wesley Clark at 27 percent, Howard Dean at 17 percent, Edwards, Lieberman, Kucinich way behind.

In Delaware another state that John Kerry will have a W with, 50 percent he will capture. One hundred percent of the vote is now in. In Delaware the voting is over with 11 percent for Joe Lieberman, 11 percent for Edwards, everybody else behind.

South Carolina, the first state that closed the polls tonight, 46 percent going to the winner John Edwards, 85 percent of the vote now in, 30 percent for John Kerry, Sharpton, Clark, Dean, Lieberman significantly trailing South Carolina.

Let's go out to Columbia, South Carolina. The co-hosts of CNN's "CROSSFIRE" is standing by Paul Begala and Bob Novak, first to you Paul. Give us your bottom line assessment. What happened tonight?

PAUL BEGALA, CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE": Well, all the candidates were running on electability except Howard Dean who ran away. Let's set him aside. Here in South Carolina, Edwards said I'm not on the favorite son but he said I'll beat George Bush in the south talking like this with his wonderful North Carolina accent.

John Kerry now wins in several different time zones. He's won at least six of the first nine contests and he can really lay claim to the electability issue.

And, you know, if Wes Clark can hang on in Oklahoma then he'll have, I think we'll have a three-way race starting tomorrow morning. I think there will be three very serious candidates, Kerry still the frontrunner, Edwards coming on strong and Wes Clark, it looks like if he can hold on in Oklahoma that he's a pretty serious candidate too.

BLITZER: Bob Novak, a week ago after New Hampshire, you basically suggested that Howard Dean was finished. It doesn't look like he's doing very well in these seven contests today but is he finished?

BOB NOVAK, CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE": Well, I was right for once, Wolf. The problem with the tremendously precipitous decline of Howard Dean is electability. The voters just don't think he can win and the interview on Larry King tonight indicated why.

He was whining. He was talking about the media being mean to him. He was talking about the other candidates being unfair and that doesn't look like a person who is going to stand up to the Republicans and George W. Bush.

The Democrats are terrified of the Republicans because they have been beaten by them about the head in so many elections and they want somebody they think is going to be tough and not is going to say gee whiz I can't win because they're so mean to me.

That's why a guy like John Kerry and John Edwards looks good to them. Now, Wes Clark ought to look like he's tough but he's been a very poor candidate. Wolf, this is a business of being a candidate for president, which is not for amateurs. It takes professional candidates to really look good and the two new boys in running for president, Dean and Clark, didn't do very well.

BLITZER: All right. Stand by. I want both of you to stand by, Bob and Paul. We'll be getting back to you throughout the night as our coverage continues.

Speaking about electability let's go to Richmond, Virginia. There's going to be a primary there a week from today. Our Suzanne Malveaux is speaking with voters there, voters some of whom were undecided who are now decided -- Suzanne.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we started off with seven undecided. We are now down to three, a show of hands for those who have made up their minds? Okay, we'll start off with Reverend Jones. Tell me why.

REVEREND JONES: I like Kerry. I like his electability. He's not that liberal. I think he's able to stand up to George W. Bush and the Republican onslaught.

MALVEAUX: Jennifer Borum (ph)?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I like Kerry too because he has all the other factors covered. He just needs to work on the charisma that Democrats need to get out the vote.

MALVEAUX: Sheraton Johnson (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kerry, as well with Kerry, because he's addressing some of the issues. By me being a veteran, he's addressing some of the issues concerning vets and concerning some of the other issues I'm concerned about.

MALVEAUX: Delaney Gever Michael (ph)?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Edwards, because he's young, charismatic and he also addresses important homeland issues such as health care and education.

MALVEAUX: And, Dorothy James (ph), don't want to forget you. You're leaning towards General Clark. You've been wanting to talk about it all

(CROSSTALK) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm probably the lone ranger in this situation, but I like Clark. I like the issues that he brought about, especially the jobs, because there's so many people that aren't employed and walking the pavement.

MALVEAUX: And last question, anybody, anybody crying over Sharpton not doing so well tonight?

Jennifer, you were very -- you had a very strong statement before. What did you say before regarding Sharpton?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That I had voted for Sharpton at a primary in New York, which I've caught a lot of flak for, to tell you the truth, but I wouldn't waste a vote on him for president.

MALVEAUX: Nobody's voting for Sharpton?




All right, Wolf, we've got some decisions here. Seven -- we started off with seven undecided. Now it's just down to three. And maybe we'll get a couple more by the time the evening is over.

BLITZER: And Virginia will be an important state. That's coming up, Suzanne Malveaux in Richmond, Virginia.

Let's bring in our political contributor, Donna Brazile.

You were the manager of the Al Gore campaign not that long ago. You know Democratic politics. This strategy that Howard Dean has, he's done miserably tonight. There's no doubt about that. He himself acknowledges it. Washington state, he think he can do well. Michigan, it doesn't look like he's going to do very well there.

DONNA BRAZILE, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, first of all, I think me might do a little better than expected in New Mexico. They cast their ballots early on for him, absentee ballots. Over 100,000 has gone in. So he may do well in New Mexico.

Look, Howard Dean is in trouble. He has to win sometime this weekend. Unless he wins this weekend, I think Howard Dean is finished.

BLITZER: You mean, he's not going to win Michigan, but you think Washington state is within his reach?

BRAZILE: He has to win one of those states. It clear to me that Howard Dean is no longer a viable national candidate unless he can win a state and win a state quickly.

BLITZER: All right, stand by, Donna. We're going to get back to you. I want to show our viewers once again what's happening in Oklahoma right now.

Look at these numbers coming in. These are official business. With 95 percent of the vote in, look at this. Right now, 30 percent both for Clark and Edwards, Edwards slightly atop with 85,661 votes, compared -- oh, excuse me, Wesley Clark slightly atop with 86,467 votes, John Edwards with 85,661 votes, not a very big gap. Let's see if the 5 percent of votes still outstanding changes that.

Right now, a fierce battle between Clark and Edwards in Oklahoma. And speaking of Wesley Clark, we're standing by to hear from Wesley Clark. We'll be hearing from Wesley Clark soon. We're going to take a quick break, much more of our coverage when we come back.


BLITZER: Welcome back.

Let's bring our viewers up to date on a really, really close contest in Oklahoma. Take a look at this, with 95 percent of the vote now in, 30 percent both for Clark and Edwards, not many numbers separating these two candidates, John Kerry with 27 percent, Lieberman, Dean and Sharpton significantly behind.

CNN's Dan Lothian is in Oklahoma City right now. He's over at Wesley Clark's campaign headquarters.

Dan, I understand you had a chance to speak with the retired four-star general.


You know, this is such an important state, Oklahoma, for Wesley Clark. He spent a lot of time campaigning here. A little more than an hour ago, I had a chance to sit down with him as he was having dinner with his family and some of his senior aides. I asked him about the numbers and his reaction to the numbers.

Here's what he had to say.


WESLEY CLARK (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Actually, I haven't been watching any numbers.

LOTHIAN: You've heard about the numbers.


CLARK: Well, I've heard a little bit. I think it's a tight race. I'm confident. We intend to win this. And I think we will.


LOTHIAN: Now, I also asked him about moving forward, General Clark saying that he still continues to fight and he's looking forward to that fight in the South, in particular, Tennessee and Virginia. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLARK: Well, I went to school in Tennessee. So I spent a year over there. And I feel very good about Tennessee. Of course, we've lived in Virginia three times in different locations. And so we feel very good about Virginia, too.


LOTHIAN: Now, the fight begins tomorrow morning when he begins that bus tour in Memphis -- back to you.

BLITZER: All right, Dan Lothian, we'll be getting back to you throughout this night as well.

Frank Buckley is joining us. He's covering John Edwards' campaign.

I understand John Edwards anxiously awaiting to see what's going to happen in Oklahoma himself?


John Edwards, the campaign saw Oklahoma as their No. 2 priority. They visited the state 14 separate times. They spent some money there on advertising. They were hoping to do well. And we thought we'd be wheels up by now, headed to Tennessee, which is the next stop for Senator John Edwards. But, in fact, we've been waiting here for the past hour, awaiting the result from Oklahoma. But so far, no result. And we're all still waiting right now.

Senator Edwards did win here in South Carolina. He considers it a bellwether to show that, as he puts it, he can win among rural voters, African-American voters and voters here in the South. One of his major issues during the campaign to date has been jobs. He talked about that again tonight.


SEN. JOHN EDWARDS (D-NC), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Tonight, all of you said that protecting means protecting American jobs, that building one America means providing opportunity to all our children, no matter where they live, no matter who their family is, no matter what the color of their skin. Tonight, you said that the politics of lifting people up beats the politics of tearing people down.



BUCKLEY: So, Senator Edwards was hoping that he'd be able to come out here once again and say, you know, we've won a second state, Oklahoma. They're not going to be able to do that right now.

I just got word that the bus is loading up, so we are going to be heading out the door and heading to Tennessee shortly. But they will be anxiously awaiting the final result from Oklahoma. From their view, Oklahoma should have been in Wesley Clark's backyard, Wesley Clark being from Arkansas. They were just making it their second priority and doing their best there. And they will be pleased with this result so far -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Frank Buckley, we'll be getting back to you. We'll be anxious to hear from Senator Edwards himself, if he decides to speak out after the dust settles in Oklahoma.

Let's not forget what these primaries and caucuses are all about, delegates. And we're ready to project who will win these delegates tonight. We're projecting that, in Delaware, John Kerry will win 14 delegates. Look at this. Al Sharpton, he will get one delegate in Delaware himself out of those 15 available in Delaware. In Missouri, where 74 are up for grabs, John Kerry, we're projecting, will win 30 delegates. John Edwards will win 16 delegates in Missouri.

South Carolina, take a look at this, 45 delegates up for grabs; 26 will go, we project, to John Edwards, 13 to John Kerry. We can project that right now for South Carolina. Remember, of course, in order to get the Democratic presidential nomination, you need 2,161 delegates at the Democratic Convention in Boston this summer, 2,161, still a long way to go, Judy, as we take a look at what is shaping up as a fascinating night.

Remember, we still don't know what's happening in Oklahoma, still don't know the final outcome of New Mexico.

WOODRUFF: Of New Mexico. There's still some races we're watching.

Wolf, I think it's important to remind everybody again, it's all about the delegates. You need 2,161 to get the nomination. And even though it looks like these candidates are only pulling in just a handful of delegates at this point, you also have the so-called super delegates. These are elected officials in all the states across the country.

These are people who are elected to the national committee of the party, who are elected to office. Some people have already weighed in and said, I'm supporting candidate X, I'm supporting Howard Dean or somebody else. But the fact is, those votes can shift. So the total numbers -- and we're not going to put these numbers up right now -- John Kerry is ahead with 167.


BLITZER: Let me interrupt, because I think we are ready to put some numbers up, based on what we have so far.

WOODRUFF: Do we have that graphic?

BLITZER: Let's take a look at this.

This is a total that we have as of right now, remembering 2,161 needed to nominate. Right now, we can project that John Kerry, with those so-called super delegates, has 171. Howard Dean didn't carry any so far today, 114, Edwards with 83, Clark with 31.

Jeff Greenfield, a lot of our -- we have got some more super -- some more delegates, Lieberman with 25, Sharpton with five, two for Kucinich.

A lot of our viewers are seeing these numbers, Jeff, and they are confused.

JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SR. ANALYST: Well, they shouldn't be, if we've done our job.

It's simply a matter, first, that, no matter who wins the states, these delegates are distributed proportionally. It's not like the old days, when you win a state, you win all the delegates. So, in fact, Wolf, a lot of this hoopla about Oklahoma means nothing in terms of delegates. Oklahoma is a tie.

And while we may analyze whether or not Clark wins or loses by 800 votes -- conceivably, that could decide whether he stays in -- in terms of delegates, there is going to be a virtual even split, because that's how the Democrats do it. They've been doing it this way for the better part of 30 years.

In terms of super delegates, those Dean numbers, you have to watch, because those are unpledged delegates. They are congress people. They're governors. They're party officials. They have the right to say at any time, we don't think so anymore, whereas the delegates you win on primary nights are pledged to you. So these numbers can change even more rapidly than they've changed so far.

BLITZER: And they presumably will change.

Carlos Watson, New Mexico, a lot of our viewers are seeing the numbers that we're getting from the caucuses in New Mexico. It looks like a pretty serious race unfolding, but New Mexico has a lot of absentee ballots.

CARLOS WATSON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: They do. Actually, 29,000 people requested absentee ballots; 26,000, which is an abnormally high number, actually returned them.

Some of them were returned before the Iowa results came in. And so, consequently, early on, it looks like a close vote. We'll see what happens later on. And they actually expected a pretty nice turnout today. One of the other things, though, because, obviously, we're talking about Howard Dean and where he is with the delegates and what have you, he'd like to get a win. And we've heard a lot about Wisconsin.

But I just got off the phone with someone very close to the campaign who says that they may very quietly be looking to try and score a very small, but an early win, even earlier than expected, on the 8th in Maine, that they have moved most of their New Hampshire organization to Maine. Now, again, as Jeff said, when you look at delegates, it doesn't mean a lot. But for people who want to say that they're getting into the game with a win, just like Wesley Clark would like to be able to say, just like John Edwards has said it tonight, maybe something where we some them more active sooner than we thought.

BLITZER: And when I spoke earlier in the week with Bill Richardson, the governor of New Mexico, he suggested those absentee ballots could be a wild card, a lot of those people voting before Iowa. Presumably, that could help Howard Dean, whose stock was high then, gone down since then.

Carlos, stand by.

We're going to take another look, what's happening in Oklahoma right now. As we go to break, let's look at these numbers; 97 percent of the vote in Oklahoma now in, doesn't get much closer than this, Wesley Clark slightly ahead of John Edwards -- look at those numbers -- John Kerry further behind. It looks like he probably will come in third. But we're watching, 3 percent still outstanding, Lieberman, Dean, Sharpton not factors in Oklahoma, a really close race unfolding there, 97 percent of the vote in, still no determination in New Mexico either.

We'll take a quick break. We'll update all of this when we come back.


BLITZER: Welcome back to our continuing coverage.

Let's take a look and see what's happening in Arizona right now. Here are the official numbers coming in. With 69 percent of the vote now in, we have projected for some time now that John Kerry will carry Arizona. He's got 43 percent so far, Wesley Clark at 27 percent, Howard Dean at 14 percent, 7 percent for Edwards, 6 for Lieberman, who has dropped out tonight, Dennis Kucinich further behind.

Let's take a look at the New Mexico caucuses, small numbers, 37 percent of the vote now in. Kerry has 34 percent, Wes Clark at 23 percent, Howard Dean with 22 percent, Edwards, Kucinich, Lieberman further behind.

CNN's Ed Lavandera is in Arizona right now. He's talking to voters in Phoenix, some of whom were undecided, now decided.

What are we getting, Ed?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Well, Wolf, we got an interesting bunch here. All the voters we have participated in a CNN debate back in October with all of the Democratic candidates. And all of these folks got to meet the candidates up close and personal.

Michael Hernandez (ph) walked away with a very good impression of John Kerry.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, yes, I sure did. John Kerry stayed until the very end, shaking hands, listening to people, taking pictures. And, to me, that was real personable. And I liked that about him.

LAVANDERA: How has that influenced the way this campaign has gone for each of you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think greatly, because seeing them face to face is not like seeing them on television. So they might not have charisma on television, but seeing them in person gave us an insight as to who they are. And Kerry is good in person, Carol Moseley Braun as well.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, Carol Moseley Braun was just excellent. And I made eye contact with her and smiled. And I talked to her later. And I would really like to see her as a vice presidential candidate picked by one of the men leading right now. It would be nice to see a female back in there.

LAVANDERA: Who made the strongest impression on you, Joy (ph)?



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, absolutely. Made contact with her.

To me, when she smiled, she absolutely lit up the room. And when I got up to meet her. She was very charming. She was very warm. But I must say, each candidate was very warm. It was a fabulous experience. And I was walking on air as I left the auditorium.

LAVANDERA: Karen (ph)?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, it definitely was a once-in-a- lifetime opportunity to get to meet the candidates. And I found them very warm and personable also.

And John Edwards was very good on answering my question, you know, on the prescription drugs. And so was Senator Kerry and others. And they just seemed genuinely interested in what was happening.


You know, Wolf, one thing that they mentioned earlier as well is that this is the most involved they've ever been in an electoral process. And they say a lot has to do with their participation in that debate and actually getting to see these candidates up close and personal -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Ed Lavandera, we'll be getting back to you in Phoenix. Thanks, Ed, very much.

Bill Schneider has been looking at the Hispanic, the Latino vote out there.

What are we learning tonight, Bill?

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, we looked at the Latino vote.

This is the first time we've had a sample in any state of Latino voters. And what we discovered is, they voted for John Kerry, by a big margin. Kerry carried African-American voters in a number of states and he carried Latino voters. His appeal to minorities has clearly been demonstrated in a number of states tonight, including Latino voters in Arizona, where he beat Clark and Dean.

Also an important constituency in Arizona, one of the main reasons why he did well, carried that state, seniors. Seniors were one-third of the voters in Arizona, a lot of retirees there. Kerry clearly dominated that category, winning almost half of the votes of seniors, twice as many as Wesley Clark. So two crucial constituencies in Arizona, seniors and Hispanics, both locked up by John Kerry.

BLITZER: All right, Bill, we'll be getting back to you.

Let's bring in our friend and colleague, Joe Klein of "TIME" magazine. He's out in Seattle, Washington, at John Kerry's campaign headquarters.

A lot of the voters telling us, Joe, they like John Kerry because they think he can beat Bush. Tell us what you're hearing.

JOE KLEIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think that when you talk about electability in this race.

By the way, this is a very quiet room behind me, as people are preparing for John Kerry to come out. But when you talk about electability with John Kerry, what people are really talking about is the fact that he knows foreign policy and national security policy. And I think they'll be able to stand up next to the president and debate next fall and take him head on, on those issues.

BLITZER: Joe, I know they're getting ready to hear from -- I assume they're getting ready to hear from John Kerry, a lively group over there.

When you speak to people, though, in Washington state -- I take it you've been there a little bit -- this is a state that Howard Dean says he think he can win Washington state. Have there any polls or any suggestion how the candidates are doing there?

KLEIN: Wolf, it's hard to hear you. I will say this, that the people in this campaign believe that they're just knocking on the door and that this has been a really important night for them, and they're very close to wrapping this up, and that they'll doing very well in Michigan and Washington state here on Saturday night.

BLITZER: All right, Joe Klein, I know it's hard for you to hear us. It's hard for us to hear you. We'll be getting back there. We'll stand by to hear from John Kerry at his campaign headquarters.

Judy Woodruff, as we try to assess the impact of tonight, big- picture impact, can we overexaggerate these wins that John Kerry is getting?

WOODRUFF: Sure, it's possible to exaggerate, because it's still early in the process. We've only had, what -- seven, plus two -- nine states vote out of all the


BLITZER: Judy, I want to interrupt you right now, because these things happen, as you well know.

In New Mexico, an important state, CNN now ready to project that John Kerry will carry the caucuses in New Mexico. A close race we've been seeing in the numbers coming in, but John Kerry, a fifth win for him tonight, an important win, New Mexico. It gives him a little bit of momentum, doesn't it?

WOODRUFF: Well, it makes it a little bit less an exaggeration, what we're saying tonight, the fact that he's going to be able to say, I have won five out of seven contests tonight.

But we have to keep stressing, Wolf, it is still early. This contest will go on. There's going to be a lot of momentum, continue to be momentum in the direction of John Kerry. But it's not entirely without the realm of possibility that John Edwards, picking up South Carolina, coming in a strong second, we're seeing, in Oklahoma, maybe he would go on to win two Southern states a week from tonight. Who knows what happens after that. It's early. It's early.

BLITZER: It's still an open decision, huh?


And the Edwards campaign is making the following argument. Look, there's John Kerry, who is the experienced guy. And then there are three or four, depending on who is left, out there all trying to claim the role of outsider. And the Edwards people are feeling a certain sense of frustration, because -- and I guess the others are, too, but this is who I talked to -- that we've got to clear the field as soon as we can. We have got to make this a one-on-one contest.

Our only chance is to become the outsider. And that's why you heard Edwards tonight, in his victory statement in South Carolina, talk about fresh new ideas. There's going to be an argument made that John Kerry is the insider. The problem they all have is, nobody has a whole lot of money. Nobody has demonstrated any national reach, except John Kerry, who has literally won from coast to almost coast, with Arizona.

And one of these people, Dean, Edwards, possibly Clark, is going to have to lay claim to the mantle, I'm the outsider who can win in November, or Kerry is just going to roll these delegates up and it's going to be too late.

WOODRUFF: Money is going to be huge. Money is going to be huge.

And for Howard Dean, if he doesn't begin to get a win -- you heard Donna Brazile tell you just a minute ago, Wolf, if he doesn't pull something in this weekend, I don't know what the deadline is, but all those people who have been sending him those $100 checks, how many more $100 checks are they going to write at this stage? And if you're Wesley Clark, you've spent all this money and maybe you have Oklahoma tonight.

BLITZER: The Democrats don't have a lot of money. One candidate has $100 million. That would George W. Bush right now.

Let's take a look at some votes that we're getting in right now. I want to go to the boards right now. Take a look Oklahoma, how close it is. With 99 percent of the vote now in, 30 percent for Wes Clark, slightly ahead of John Edwards, John Kerry with 27 percent, Joe Lieberman at 6 percent. What a close race, 1 percent of the vote still outstanding.

Kelly Wallace is over at John Kerry's campaign headquarters in Seattle. Kelly, I take it we're getting ready to hear from the candidate himself?


And you can hear, it's getting a little loud in this ballroom, several hundred people here waiting. We're expecting Senator John Kerry to come on the stage moments, really, a few moments from now. He just did a round of interviews, including an interview with you and Judy and Jeff, of course. He was using words as, this is fantastic, extremely gratified, really thrilled that he is winning it looks like five states tonight, close second in South Carolina, a tight race in Oklahoma.

But he and his aides are also getting the question, what about John Edwards and strong questions on South Carolina and Oklahoma. They say they will fight for every vote -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Kelly, we'll be getting back to you.

We're going to take a quick break. We're expecting to hear shortly, as Kelly just said, from John Kerry. Also, Wesley Clark, we'll have his remarks -- all of that coming up, much more coverage coming up.


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