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CNN BREAKING NEWS

President Bush Gives Victory Speech; How Bush Won; Interview With Presidential Historian Robert Dallek

Aired November 3, 2004 - 15:00   ET

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


BLITZER: We're watching, waiting for the president to walk in.
This is the picture, Jeff, of the president receiving that phone call from John Kerry earlier this morning, conceding, congratulating him on his win. The in president the Oval Office always wears a suit and tie there.

Jeff, this is an historic photo.

JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SR. ANALYST: Well, OK.

These are the sorts of things that we look and we think, yes, what was the conversation really like? It's got to have been -- the one conversation I most enjoyed hearing about was four years ago when Gore called to retract his concession speech, because there was a real emotion there. These are very kind of formal, almost Kabuki theater- style events. The losing guy is never going to call the winner and say, I feel robbed, I feel cheated, especially not in a race like this.

It's the time when you make conciliatory remarks. And we were talking earlier. It will last a few weeks until, as John King said, the first budget is put up, the first State of the Union, the first cultural issue marker is put on the table, the first Supreme Court nomination.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Dana Bash is over there at the Reagan Center giving us a little flavor now, what we're seeing, a lot of excitement.

Dana, what is it like to be inside there?

DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, everybody is here.

Judy was just talking about Colin Powell. He is here. Other members of the president's Cabinet are, Tom Ridge, John Snow, the treasury secretary, the entire campaign team. Really, everybody from the White House that we were trying to call, they are all over here. You hear them already starting to chant, four more years.

As I mentioned earlier, they were quietly watching John Kerry's speech here. One aide e-mailed me during the speech, saying that it was incredibly gracious and a moving speech. And that's what they expect to hear from the president here. Now they are introducing the vice president. Let's listen.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: The Cheneys are walking in, Dick Cheney, the vice president of the United States, together with his wife, Lynne Cheney. The grandchildren are there as well. Liz Cheney is there, as well as Mary Cheney is there, the entire family up there on the podium together with the vice president and Lynne Cheney. They're getting a reception from the crowd at the Reagan Center here -- over there in Washington, D.C.

Interesting that, Judy, the entire family, extended family, if you will, is up there, including both daughters of the Cheneys.

WOODRUFF: The Cheneys have become a regular fixture out on the campaign trail, Wolf. It seems like everywhere Dick Cheney went, he certainly did take his wife, Lynne Cheney, who is someone...

BLITZER: And here he comes, the president of the United States, together with Laura Bush and their daughters.

The president is going to be giving a speech that will presumably -- and, Jeff, I want you to weigh in on this -- presumably try to set the tone for the next four years, starting with some conciliation. He came in the first term wanting to be a uniter, not a divider. I assume we're going to hear some of that right now.

GREENFIELD: That's as good a bet as you can get.

You remember four years ago, after that contentious 37-day standoff, he gave a speech at the Texas legislature saying he wanted to be uniter, saying he would work with Democrats. There was certainly a feeling in Washington within about a few months that this was going to be a very base-oriented presidency, designed to shore up the more consistent conservatives, rather than to kind of reach out toward the middle.

Certainly today, if there is any day for a conciliatory tone, it's this. The fighting starts when the calendar flips.

BLITZER: The vice president set to speak first. He will introduce the president. We saw a similar arrangement less than an hour or so ago in Boston at historic Faneuil Hall, when the vice presidential nominee, John Edwards, spoke briefly and introduced John Kerry.

Dick Cheney, four years as vice president, now set for another four years.

Let's listen in to the vice president.

DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you all.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

CHENEY: It's an honor for me

It's an honor for me to be here, along with Lynne and our whole family, on this very special afternoon. This was a historic election, and once again I have delivered the state of Wyoming for the Bush- Cheney ticket.

(APPLAUSE)

CHENEY: This campaign has been a tremendously uplifting experience. We've carried the president's message of hope and optimism across the continent, even to the Aloha State.

(APPLAUSE)

CHENEY: We've worked hard and gained many new friends, and the result is now clear: a record voter turnout and a broad, nationwide victory.

(APPLAUSE)

CHENEY: We're deeply grateful to every person who joined in the effort. Thanks to you, we gained seats in the House of Representatives.

(APPLAUSE)

CHENEY: Thanks to you, I will be presiding over a larger Republican majority in the United States Senate.

(APPLAUSE)

CHENEY: Thanks to you, President George W. Bush won the greatest number of popular votes of any presidential candidate in history.

(APPLAUSE)

CHENEY: This has been a consequential presidency which has revitalized our economy and reasserted a confident American role in the world.

Yet in the election of 2004, we did more than campaign on a record. President Bush ran forthrightly on a clear agenda for this nation's future and the nation responded by giving him a mandate.

(APPLAUSE)

CHENEY: Now we move forward to serve and to guard the country we love.

CHENEY: It has been my special privilege to serve as vice president alongside this exceptional American.

He's a man of deep conviction and personal kindness. His leadership is wise and firm and fearless.

Those are qualities that Americans like in a president, and those are qualities we will need for the next four years.

If ever a man met his moment as leader of this country, that man is George W. Bush.

(APPLAUSE)

CHENEY: Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the president of the United States.

(APPLAUSE)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you all. Thank you all for coming.

We had a long night...

(LAUGHTER)

BUSH: ... and a great night.

(APPLAUSE)

BUSH: The voters turned out in records numbers and delivered an historic victory.

(APPLAUSE)

BUSH: Earlier today, Senator Kerry called with his congratulations. We had a really good phone call. He was very gracious. Senator Kerry waged a spirited campaign, and he and his supporters can be proud of their efforts.

(APPLAUSE)

BUSH: Laura and I wish Senator Kerry and Teresa and their whole family all our best wishes.

America has spoken, and I'm humbled by the trust and the confidence of my fellow citizens.

BUSH: With that trust comes a duty to serve all Americans. And I will do my best to fulfill that duty every day as your president.

(APPLAUSE)

BUSH: There are many people to thank and my family comes first.

(APPLAUSE)

BUSH: Laura is the love of my life.

(APPLAUSE)

BUSH: I'm glad you love her too.

(LAUGHTER) BUSH: I want to thank our daughters who joined their dad for his last campaign.

(APPLAUSE)

BUSH: I appreciate the hard work of my sister and brothers.

I especially want to thank my parents for their loving support.

(APPLAUSE)

BUSH: I'm grateful to the vice president and Lynne and their daughters who have worked so hard and been such a vital part of our team.

(APPLAUSE)

BUSH: The vice president serves America with wisdom and honor and I'm proud to serve beside him.

(APPLAUSE)

BUSH: I want to thank my superb campaign team. I want to thank you all for your hard work.

(APPLAUSE)

BUSH: I was impressed every day by how hard and how skillful our team was.

I want to thank Chairman Marc Racicot and...

(APPLAUSE)

BUSH: ... the campaign manager, Ken Mehlman...

(APPLAUSE)

BUSH: ... the architect, Karl Rove.

(APPLAUSE)

BUSH: I want to thank Ed Gillespie for leading our party so well.

(APPLAUSE)

BUSH: I want to thank the thousands of our supporters across our country. I want to thank you for your hugs on the rope lines. I want thank you for your prayers on the rope lines. I want to thank you for your kind words on the rope lines.

I want to thank you for everything you did to make the calls and to put up the signs, to talk to your neighbors and to get out the vote.

(APPLAUSE)

BUSH: And because you did the incredible work, we are celebrating today.

(APPLAUSE)

BUSH: There is an old saying, Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers; pray for powers equal to your tasks.

In four historic years, America has been given great tasks and faced them with strength and courage.

Our people have restored the vigor of this economy and shown resolve and patience in a new kind of war.

BUSH: Our military has brought justice to the enemy and honor to America.

(APPLAUSE)

BUSH: Our nation has defended itself and served the freedom of al mankind.

I'm proud to lead such an amazing country, and I'm proud to lead it forward.

(APPLAUSE)

BUSH: Because we have done the hard work, we are entering a season of hope.

We will continue our economic progress. We'll reform our outdated tax code. We'll strengthen the Social Security for the next generation. We'll make public schools all they can be. And we will uphold our deepest values of family and faith.

We'll help the emerging democracies of Iraq and Afghanistan...

(APPLAUSE)

BUSH: ... so they can grow in strength and defend their freedom.

And then our service men and women will come home with the honor they have earned.

(APPLAUSE)

BUSH: With good allies at our side, we will fight this war on terror with every resource of our national power so our children can live in freedom and in peace.

(APPLAUSE)

BUSH: Reaching these goals will require the broad support of Americans.

So today I want to speak to every person who voted for my opponent.

To make this nation stronger and better, I will need your support and I will work to earn it. I will do all I can do to deserve your trust.

A new term is a new opportunity to reach out to the whole nation. We have one country, one Constitution, and one future that binds us.

And when we come together and work together, there is no limit to the greatness of America.

(APPLAUSE)

BUSH: Let me close with a word for the people of the state of Texas.

(APPLAUSE)

BUSH: We have known each other the longest, and you started me on this journey.

On the open plains of Texas, I first learned the character of our country: sturdy and honest, and as hopeful as the break of day.

I will always be grateful to the good people of my state. And whatever the road that lies ahead, that road will take me home.

The campaign has ended, and the United States of America goes forward with confidence and faith.

I see a great day coming for our country and I am eager for the work ahead.

God bless you and may God bless America.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: The president and Laura Bush, the vice president and Lynne Cheney at the Reagan Center in Washington, D.C., a victory speech, a speech in which the president clearly sought to reach out to Democrats, reach out for those who voted for his opponent, John Kerry, asking for their support, says he will try to earn their support in the coming four years.

Judy Woodruff, he was gracious in his victory speech and he praised John Kerry, saying that John Kerry was very gracious in that phone call to him earlier today.

WOODRUFF: He did. He complimented John Kerry on a gracious call.

And, Wolf, I think, you know, those words the president spoke, very brief comments, were eloquent. He said, we have one country, one Constitution and one future that binds us together. And he said, when we come together and work together, there's no limit to the greatness of America. We've been sitting here talking about the political divide in this country. There is hard work to be done to try to heal that divide, even to begin to heal it. But I think these words from the president will go a long way toward at least getting that under way.

GREENFIELD: Let me draw a contrast between what the president faced four years ago and now, because it's striking.

Four years ago, he faced a relatively sunny, tranquil climate, country at peace, seemingly invulnerable, with the biggest domestic problem what to do with trillions of dollars in surplus. But he faced a tough political terrain. He had lost the popular vote. He faced an evenly divided country. And half the country thought maybe he didn't even deserve to be president.

This time, the president faces a war in Iraq that has a lot of problems ahead, the reality of terror that has struck us as never before, trillions of dollars in deficits, but his political terrain is much sunnier. He won a 3.5-million popular vote plurality. Nobody can argue that he didn't win reelection. He faces a more Republican Senate and a Republican House much more favorable than before.

So, the contrast between the difficulty of his task and the political support that he has could not be more striking.

BLITZER: John King is at the White House watching this.

This was a very well written speech, John, with several very well written lines, memorable line, I would dare say, as he begins his second term in office.

JOHN KING, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: And, Wolf, very much a signature of George W. Bush, what you saw in this speech.

The president is well aware he did win a majority. He does believe he has a mandate to govern, he does know the country is divided about whether he should have gone to war in Iraq in the first place and whether he has a sufficient plan to win the war in Iraq and win the peace in Iraq now.

The president, though, voicing confidence, looking forward, not looking back. That is a trademark of George W. Bush. Also, consider the moment. This president on his first day in office four years ago went into the Oval Office with his father. There was a signature photograph at the time, a fabulous father-son moment. He walked into the Oval Office again with his father this morning.

This president was furious when his father lost back in 1992. He believed the wrong man won that election. This president, as he walked into the Oval Office this morning, knowing he would have a second term, was with his father. He tends to choke up when he talks of his parents and he talks of the troops. We saw that from this president today.

And, as we've been talking about all day, promising outreach, promising to try to reach out to Democrats. They believed, in this term, once they looked at the political environment, they could do not that as much if they wanted to get reelection. They believe they had ad to run a very loyal Republican-base strategy. This president has no more campaigns ahead. It will be interesting to see how he tries to govern in the second term.

BLITZER: All right, John, Dana Bash is inside at the Reagan Center, where there were a lot of excited Republicans.

BASH: A lot of excited Republicans, no doubt.

And just a couple of atmospheric observations. The president came in to "Hail to the Chief." And, as we all know, those of us who cover the president, he doesn't do that very often at all. He doesn't like to do that. But this is obviously a very special occasion. So that is the tune that we heard him coming into.

Going out, you hear -- behind me, you hear the music now, Brooks And Dunn, "Only in America." This is his signature campaign song. This is what we heard at every single rally, so sort of a nice bookend to the president coming in for a second term and going out for his campaign, his last campaign song.

One other thing that I noted is that the word mandate was not uttered by the president. It was uttered by the vice president. The vice president made clear that they do believe, unlike four years ago, other people did not think that the president obviously had a mandate, but that he governed with one. And he got a lot of criticism about that.

But this time, given the popular vote, given the Electoral College vote, the vice president said very specifically, we have a mandate. And you heard the president touch a little bit on some of the issues that he is going to move forward on, some of the things he campaigned on, reforming the tax code, Social Security, education. And, of course, he talked about values, so the president obviously making clear through the vice president's very specific words that that is what they intend to do.

BLITZER: Dana Bash at the Reagan Center in Washington.

We're going to take a quick break.

Candy Crowley standing by in Boston. We'll hear from her.

Also, at the bottom of the hour, we expect to hear from the prime minister of Britain, Tony Blair, at No. 10 Downing Street in London, one of the president's best international friends. He's expected to speak about the American election. We'll have live coverage of that, much more when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: There it is, George W. Bush reelected, no more doubt about that, John Kerry conceding earlier in a phone call to the White House to the Oval Office to the president, then in formal remarks in Boston, the president declaring victory just a few moments ago, as seen here live on CNN.

Judy Woodruff, it was a speech that the president clearly had several objectives in that speech. One was to try to win over those Democrats, many of whom are going to be very upset.

WOODRUFF: Well, he spent a good bit of time thanking all the people who worked with him.

But you're right. He did begin the process of reaching out. And he said specifically to those people who did not vote for me, I want to let you know that I want to earn your trust. And he said, I will work hard to do that. He talked about, the problems of this country require a united United States of America. And he talked about how he is prepared to reach out.

You know, earlier, Wolf, we did hear from John Kerry. He gave an emotional speech at Faneuil Hall in Boston, his hometown.

And here's part of what John Kerry had to say in thanking all the people who work so hard for him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My friends, it was here that we began our campaign for the presidency. And all we had was hope and a vision for a better America.

It was a privilege and a gift to spend two years traveling this country coming to know so many of you. I wish that I could just wrap you up in my arms and embrace each and every one of you individually all across this nation. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: John Kerry letting his very emotional feelings show today, Wolf, on a day when -- understandable on a day when all the hopes and aspirations of the last few years down the drain.

BLITZER: If you can't show emotion after going through what he's gone through, you know, you have no emotion to show, basically.

WOODRUFF: It's hard to imagine.

And, you know, we talked earlier about -- Candy Crowley, and we talked about the roller coaster that he's been through, how he started this campaign full of hope. A year ago at this time, his campaign was going nowhere. He made some big changes, came on to defeat Howard Dean and others in the Iowa caucuses and roared on to win the nomination and looked good.

He had some bumpy moments in the summer, but this is -- as our Candy Crowley, who joins us now, knows better than anybody, I don't want to overuse the word roller coaster, Candy, but it was a campaign of ups and downs. CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. They all are, but these were such extremes.

You know, any campaign rides the shark, but this one, which started out -- I don't know if you remember when, he announced, and, well, he's the automatic front-runner and he's got all these credentials, and he's a war hero, and he's this and he's that. And then along came Howard Dean and it was, OK, well, John Kerry's campaign is over. He can't even win in his nearby home state, New Hampshire, next to Massachusetts.

And then he wins Iowa. He wins New Hampshire and he moves on from there, incredible highs. And he was within such striking distance, times when he was up in the polls, especially during the summer period, when there was huge hope in this campaign, had a terrible August. George W. Bush had a great convention. So it has been really startling, but no down is further down than these past 48 hours, when they move from incredible crowds in Ohio, in Wisconsin and in other battleground states.

They really felt they had the juice this time. They really believed. They came to believe that what they were seeing was what was going to turn out at the voting booths. Now, what they are telling you is, look, we delivered in Ohio. He brought out more voting Democrats and more people voting Democrat than any other candidate before him statewide in Ohio.

But guess what? George Bush did it better. As one person put it, you know, George Bush came to play. So they got outdone on the ground.

WOODRUFF: Candy, we're going to cut in here. Candy, we apologize. We're going to interrupt you because British Prime Minister Tony Blair is making a statement in London. We're going to listen in.

TONY BLAIR, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: And I said to Senator Kerry I thought he fought an outstanding campaign. And it helped make the election a true celebration of American democracy, and he should be proud of that.

Such is the strength of the United States that the election of the president is an event of genuine significance right around the world. It is of particular significance to Britain. Not least because America and the United Kingdom have a unique bond through our shared history and traditions and, above all, through our shared belief in the values for freedom and democracy.

It's an important part of our own British national interest that the British prime minister protect and strengthen the bond between our two countries. I sought to do that first with President Clinton and then with President Bush. And I look forward to continuing that strong relationship in President Bush's second term.

President Bush's reelection comes at a critical time. A world that is fractured, divided and uncertain, must be brought together to fight this global terrorism in all its forms, and to recognize that it will not be defeated by military might alone but also by demonstrating the strength of our common values by bringing freedom and democracy to Iraq, as we have done to Afghanistan, by pursuing with the same energy peace in the Middle East between Israel and Palestine, by accepting it is our duty to combat poverty and injustice on the continent of Africa and elsewhere in the world.

In particular, I have long argued that the need to revitalize the Middle East peace process is the single most pressing political challenge in our world today. Therefore, we must be relentless in our war against terrorism and in resolving the conditions and causes on which the terrorists prey.

We should work with President Bush on this agenda. It is one which all nations of goodwill can surely agree. In particular, Europe and America must build a new alliance. All of us in positions of leadership, not just President Bush...

WOODRUFF: We're listening to British Prime Minister Tony Blair say that he did place a call. We only heard part of what he had so about that call.

But he said he congratulated John Kerry for fighting what he called an outstanding campaign. He went on to congratulate President Bush. But then he said that America, this election that the whole world has watched, and George Bush's victory, comes at a time when the world has been fractured, has been divided by the war on terror and by what has happened over the last few years.

Candy Crowley, the support that Tony Blair showed for George W. Bush was one of the things, it seems to me, that made it hard time and again for John Kerry to argue that the U.S. was going it alone in the war on terror.

CROWLEY: Well, I tell you, not -- you're right, because the Bush fact from the Bush campaign was always, wait a second, we've got 30 allies here. And John Kerry would respond, but we're taking 90 percent of the cost, we're taking 90 percent of the casualties.

What was interesting to me is one of the biggest applause lines, Judy, everywhere we went from the get-go was "We need a president who understand that you need to reach out to the world in order to fight this war on terrorism, not one that pushes them away." And that was -- people went crazy over that line.

And you heard -- as you know, Judy, on the campaign trail, hear people yelling and screaming about international policy. But the crowds that John Kerry got definitely had this feeling that we were becoming an isolationist nation.

Now, again, the Bush campaign always said, wait, we're working with all these allies in Iraq. It occurs to me, listening to both John Kerry today and then George Bush, reaching out to John Kerry's supporters, that there's no freer politician than one who doesn't have to run again. So now we're talking about George Bush. He is now free to do what he couldn't do if weren't reelected. And now that he's reelected and doesn't have to do that again, the whole first term -- as we know, Karl Rove was about, you know, how are we going to get these people who didn't vote for us before. Now they have done that.

George Bush is a pretty free man in terms of having to run again. And I think we know that all presidents in that second term, Bill Clinton included, move to do things that they might not otherwise be able to do.

And so Tony Blair, who has always been a good friend to America regardless of who was in office, in the beginning it seemed to me to sort of set an agenda: we need to return to the Middle East, we need to bring this world together. It seems to me he set the international agenda for the next four years.

WOODRUFF: Candy, stay with us.

Wolf, it was notable that Tony Blair mentioned not once but twice the need for the U.S. to get re-engaged in the peace process in the Middle East. And it seems to me it comes at a -- it couldn't be a more sensitive time given what has happened to Yasser Arafat over the last few days.

BLITZER: He's been pushing this now for some time, Tony Blair, other European leaders as well, much more so than the Bush administration has been inclined to do, especially during this political season, when that's pretty controversial stuff, to try to get involved. There's a major -- there's been a major difference, as you know, Judy, between the president of the United States, the Bush administration, and most of the European community, the French and the Germans and others on the Israeli-Palestinian issue, especially the refusal by the president to have anything to do with Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian Authority leader. And he's very, very sick right now, as we all know.

This has been a source of some concern to the Europeans, the Bush administration's what they would call tilt towards Israel. They would like to see the U.S. become more of an evenhanded broker, if you will.

WOODRUFF: Tony Blair having a very strong belief that until one gets in that -- engaged in that Middle East mess, if you will, until the United States gets truly engaged and begins to make some headway, you're not going to see this -- the war on terror gain -- gain much ground in terms of the democracies of the United States and Britain and everyone else. But, Wolf and Candy, let's -- we can -- I'll ask both of you. Is it your sense, is it our sense that George W. Bush is inclined to get more involved -- Candy.

CROWLEY: I don't know. I know that a second term and a last term provides a lot of opportunity to be risky, to push things, to try things that you might not politically be able to do in a time when you were running again. I think we'll know more when we see the State of the Union, which is sort of the next big political document that we will see from George Bush in January. Certainly, again, as you know, in the second term the presidents begin to look at the history book and say, "Where do I fit in? What do I do? What is this about?"

Now, we know this president has always felt that he was brought here and brought to this presidency to fight the war on terror. But as he broadens that out, it has to include the Middle East, because that's, after all, sort of the crux of the matter. And it would seem to me that we will begin to see an administration that is, you know, more engaged. I think they would argue that they have been engaged, but more engaged as some of the Democrats and, in fact, some of their friends have urged them to be.

BLITZER: And we'll see, Judy and Candy, we'll see if the secretary of state, Colin Powell, stays in this second term. A lot will depend who the secretary of state is as far as diplomatic initiatives between the Israelis and Palestinians, or other diplomatic initiatives around the world.

We're going to continue our coverage of this day, the day after America votes. When we come back, two political reporters will join us, Dan Balz of "The Washington Post," and Ron Brownstein of the "Los Angeles Times."

Our special coverage will continue.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Continuing our special coverage, just a few minutes ago, as you saw right here on CNN, President George W. Bush declared victory in his campaign for a second term in the White House. In remarks to supporters in downtown Washington, Mr. Bush thanked everyone who worked for him -- who voted for him, and he also thanked his campaign advisers and volunteers. He also offered words of praise for his challenger, Democratic Senator John Kerry.

Not long before the president spoke, Senator Kerry addressed his supporters in Boston. And he officially conceded defeat in his race for the White House. Kerry, who was joined by his running mate, John Edwards, said he was proud of the race he ran and the message he took to the nation's voters. He also talked about the long campaign, and he offered a heartfelt thanks to his supporters.

Here now is a look at the presidential vote totals at this hour, 3:42 Eastern Time on this Wednesday. By our count, George W. Bush has won 29 states and 274 electoral votes, four more than are needed to cinch the nomination -- the election.

John Kerry has won 20 states and 252 electoral votes. CNN moved Ohio's 20 electoral votes into the Bush column last hour, pushing the president over the required 270, as we just said, needed to win the White House.

Sorry. We're all a little tired after last night went on as long as it did. Overall, George Bush got 51 percent of the popular vote yesterday. That's three million more than Kerry, who finished with 48 percent.

BLITZER: And Judy, we're now joined by two veteran political reporters, two of the best in the business. In Los Angeles, Ron Brownstein of the "Los Angeles Times." And Dan Balz of "The Washington Post" joining us from "The "Washington Post" newsroom.

Thanks to both of you for join us.

Dan, let me begin with you. How much of a mandate does the president now have for the next four years?

DAN BALZ, "WASHINGTON POST": Well, he certainly has somewhat more a mandate than he had four years ago. He won the popular vote this time, along with the electoral majority. He increased his vote, and so in that sense he can say he's got more than he had before.

But it's clear from everything we saw both in the exit polls and in particularly the pattern of the voting that this is still a very, very divided country. And he has a big challenge in trying to reach out and reach across those divides to try to unify in a way that he's not been able to do in his first four years.

BLITZER: Ron, does he have a honeymoon, if you will, an opportunity, a window in the next months, let's say, to get important legislation through the Congress, new initiatives?

RON BROWNSTEIN, "LA TIMES": Well, traditionally you would think so, Wolf. But, you know, we started off -- as I was listening to the president speak, I was reminded of his speech in 2000 after the election in which there were many similar themes. And we ended up, apart from the education bill, with a very partisan start to the -- to the term in 2001, particularly on the economic plan.

Clearly that opportunity is there. The president has won another term. He has a clear Republican majority in Congress.

The question, of course, is, what is it that the base demands, the base that powered this win? It really came right off the blackboard as -- I think Karl Rove could not have drafted it any differently than the way that it played out. But can he satisfy the base and reach out at the same time? That's not easy for any president, and it won't be for this one.

WOODRUFF: Dan Balz, let's talk about how the result came about. What did George W. Bush do right? And what did John Kerry do wrong?

BALZ: Let's begin with what John Kerry did wrong. I'm not sure you can criticize Senator Kerry significantly.

They got the voters out that they wanted to get out. They were competitive in the states they hoped to be competitive in. I think what they did not count on, and what they clearly underestimated was President Bush's ability to get out an even bigger vote. In some ways, it's a reverse of what happened four years ago in some of these states. I think this time the Bush campaign had a clear plan and enormous confidence in their ability to execute the plan. And they did it. They did it very smartly.

This was, as Ron suggested, right on the blackboards at the Bush campaign headquarters from the very beginning. Find and develop a bigger electorate than they had four years ago. And they methodically went out and did it. So I think have you to give the Bush team a great amount of credit for the discipline and the plan that they followed.

WOODRUFF: So Ron, the Kerry campaign was pretty much doomed from the start?

BROWNSTEIN: No, I don't think they were doomed from the start, Judy. I agree with Dan. A couple points.

First, if there was anything that went wrong for the Kerry campaign, it was they had too, I think, narrow a path to the White House. Not being able to compete in any southern state except Florida leaves you with very few options as a Democrat.

Once Nevada and Colorado kind of fell away at the end, they were left competing in only three states that Bush won last time, Ohio, Florida and New Hampshire. And they simply weren't able to get over the hump in Ohio and New Hampshire.

What the Bush campaign did so well, especially in Ohio, as Dan said, was turn out its vote. John Kerry got a bigger vote in Cuyahoga County. He got over 200,000 margin.

He won the three big swing counties in the state: Franklin, Montgomery and Stark. Franklin by a margin 10 times greater than Al Gore in 2000. But he was trumped because George Bush turned out a steady increase in his vote all the way along the southern tier of the state, the western edge of the state.

Rural communities he might have won by 2,000 last time. He won by 4,000 this time. Or went from seven to 12. And he simply powered out a very impressive win.

It's hard to criticize Kerry's effort in Ohio. The only thing I think you can say is the Democrats need to have a broader playing field next time to have a better chance.

BLITZER: Well, about that, Dan, let me pick up that thought. What do the Democrats do? What lessons do they learn from this election moving forward in the immediate future?

BALZ: I think the obvious one is that they simply have to broaden their geographic appeal. Ron is right.

You cannot write off almost all of the South and hope to have an easy path to the White House. John Edwards was on this ticket in part because the Kerry campaign thought it might put some southern states in play. That turned out not to be the case.

John Edwards was on this ticket also in part because they thought he could appeal in some of the rural and small town areas. That didn't work.

They find themselves in a situation where they cannot go hunting for votes in parts of the country where you have to be ale to get them at least in respectable numbers in order to be able to win. So I think they have to kind of go back to the drawing board to think about who they are as a party, what kinds of candidates they put up, and what they stand for, and how they can then go out and reach beyond what is a very solid and loyal base for them but one that they now need to enlarge.

BLITZER: And Ron, in the aftermath of this election, who's going to -- who do you think are the names we should be looking at in the immediate future as the leaders of the Democratic Party, people who are going to pick up the pieces?

BROWNSTEIN: That's an interesting question, Wolf, because obviously Hillary Rodham Clinton is the first name that will come to people's lips as sort of the heir apparent to the Democratic Party. John Edwards, I agree with what Dan said and want to add one point. It makes you wonder how well those names are going to deal with the problem.

If you look at both the South and the Midwest, it is a common problem of Democrats not running well with culturally-conservative, less-affluent voters. The people who John Edwards is supposedly talking about in his two Americas really powered this Bush victory in the -- in the Midwest.

The Democrats did fine with college-educated voters. They held a lot of these affluent suburbs. They won Independents, according to your exit poll. The first time since '76 the president will have lost Independent voters.

But they were simply overwhelmed by Bush's strength with regular church-goers, gun owners, married couples, non-college-educated white folks, blue collar people. And they simply have to find somebody who can break into those communities of voters better. And Hillary Rodham Clinton, you know, that's going to be a tough question for her to answer. Is she the person to re-establish a beachhead in the South?

BLITZER: Ron Brownstein, Dan Balz, as I said, two of the best political reporters in the business. Thanks for spending a few moments with us. We always learn something from the two of you. Appreciate it.

BALZ: Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: That's going to be it for me this hour. I'll be back at 5:00 p.m. Eastern, a little bit more than an hour from now on "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS."

Going to get ready for that show, Judy. But you are going to be sticking around. You've got a lot more coverage coming up.

WOODRUFF: Thank you. And we'll be watching you.

But in the meantime, we want to ask our viewers to stick around. Straight ahead: putting this campaign into perspective. Presidential historian Robert Dallek joins me to talk about the contest between Bush and Kerry and its place in political history.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Back with our special coverage. Presidential historian Robert Dallek has been keeping a close watch on this latest battle for the Oval Office. He's with us now from Washington to give us his thoughts on how things turned out.

Robert Dallek, the largest popular vote for any president...

ROBERT DALLEK, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Yes.

WOODRUFF: ... in the history of the nation. What does that give George W. Bush as he leads -- heads into a second term?

DALLEK: Well, you know, Judy, it's true, but, of course, what we have to remember is how large the population of the country is now compared to 1940, when Roosevelt ran a second time, or Eisenhower ran a second time. It is a huge vote. But on the other hand, his margin of victory, having only 51 percent, puts him at the bottom edge or line of incumbents who won a second term.

Most incumbents won a larger margin -- won by a larger margin by that. And think of Richard Nixon, and you think of Ronald Reagan who won such huge victories.

So it really in many ways is a pretty tight vote for his success. It's not a huge margin by which he won. And he has to be, I think, sensitive, thoughtful about how he's going to reconcile the opposition.

It's true, he has a big margin in the Congress, 55-45 in the Senate. A solid majority in the House. It gives him a lot of running room. But he also has to remember that second terms for presidents are a stumbling field, a stumbling ground.

If Roosevelt didn't have World War II, he never would have had a third term. Eisenhower, by the end of his second term, was in serious political trouble. Truman at the end of his second term had about a 32 percent approval rating.

You run into a lot of difficulties in the second term. Reagan with Iran Contra, Bill Clinton with the Monica issue. So there are minefields out there that he has to be aware of.

WOODRUFF: Well, we heard George W. Bush talk about the need to bring the country together. How hard is that job going to be in 2005 and for the next four years given what this country is dealing with right now? DALLEK: Yes. I think it's a very difficult job, Judy, because, you know, when I looked at this election, what I saw was that the red states and blue states lined up pretty much as they had lined up in the 2000 election. And what it tells you is that, for all the talk about jobs and the economy and deficits and Iraq, what I think propelled an awful lot of people in their voting is what one can describe as cultural values.

You have a real cultural divide in this country which reminds me of what happened in the 1920s, when you had the urban modernists struggling against or battling with the rural fundamentalists. And there's a lot of echoes of that conflict in the 1920s.

And so he's got a big divide to overcome. And, of course, he has been so decidedly on one side of the divide that now he's got to...

WOODRUFF: Is there -- in just a few seconds, is there one thing he can think of that President Bush could do to begin to bring people together?

DALLEK: Well, I think he has to address these cultural issues in more moderate and centrist ways. And if he pushes to put somebody on the Supreme Court, for example, who is seen as likely to repeal Roe v. Wade, it's going to be an explosive matter. So I think he's got to speak in more moderate tones about the -- the cultural issues that we face.

WOODRUFF: That would be interesting in part because his wife, Laura Bush, has spoken out, I know, on a couple of occasions about her feeling that perhaps Roe v. Wade should not be overturned. All right. We're going to have to leave it there.

Historian Robert Dallek, it's always good to have you join us. Thank you very much.

DALLEK: Thank you, Judy.

WOODRUFF: Thank you.

Coming up, a check of the financial markets.

Plus, we'll take a look at the reasons why George Bush won and why John Kerry lost.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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