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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Presidential Race Close, with Late Votes Still Coming In
Aired November 3, 2004 - 02:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, HOST: ... has seven electoral votes. Those are very important electoral votes, Judy.
Just to be -- just to be precise right now, too close to call in Ohio and Iowa. Presumably, we're not going to be able to know the winner of Iowa because of these mechanical problems and fatigue that you're talking about.
JUDY WOODRUFF, HOST, "INSIDE POLITICS": That's right. But I think we want to be clear on Ohio, Wolf. And that is that if the regular vote count proceeds and the margin gets down to a very small number, it may become mathematically very difficult for John Kerry to make that up. We're not there yet.
But -- but if they keep counting, and the president keeps up the margin or -- excuse me, if that margin grows, the provisional ballot safety net, if you will, may begin to look, you know, even more remote. But we're not there yet.
BLITZER: We're learning a lot about these provisional ballots. We'll see what happens there. Judy, stand by.
Ed Henry is in Washington. You're getting some information in Washington about Ohio as well. What are you hearing, Ed?
ED HENRY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Wolf, obviously both sides, both parties have had lawyers in place for a long time, whether it's Florida, Ohio, whichever state they need to go to in order to mobilize, if in fact there's a recount, if there are legal challenges in any of these battleground states.
Some information coming into CNN. Democratic sources telling us that the owner of the Boston Red Sox, John Henry, has gotten his private plane ready. The pilot for that plane was told a few hours ago, "Get the plane ready. We're not sure where it's going yet. But have it ready to go, so that Democratic lawyers can be deployed to whichever state they feel they need to go to at some time this evening, overnight or first thing in the morning."
We do not know whether that plane has left. We don't think it has, but we've been told by Democratic sources that the plane for John Henry, owner of the Boston Red Sox, somebody who has endorsed John Kerry for president, has his private plane at the ready for Democratic lawyers to mobilize whenever they are ready to do that.
Obviously, the Red Sox, after winning the World Series, have been locked up in the middle of this presidential campaign. Their star pitcher, Curt Schilling, endorsed President Bush. A little bit of controversy about that.
Then John Henry and the general manager, Theo Epstein, they endorsed John Kerry a few days later. But now we're hearing John Henry's private plane could be dragged into all this if, in fact, there are any legal challenges, any recounts.
BLITZER: And if they're heading out to certain states, we presume they'd be going to Columbus, Ohio, the capital, maybe Des Moines, Iowa, as well. Looks like there's going to be a delay at least until tomorrow for a certification of who won there.
And you know what? We still haven't heard from several other states.
Ed Henry, good reporting for us. Let's go back and bring in our analysts. Larry...
LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": What now?
BLITZER: It gets a little stranger and stranger as we -- as we go into this long, long night.
KING: I'm trying to figure it out. The president can still win if he wins, what, Minnesota, Michigan...
KING: Wisconsin, or two of those three. And Nevada and New Mexico. He would win, right?
JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: He would win. Look, he's 21 votes short of an absolute majority. Take Ohio out. There's a combination there where he could do it, sure. But we haven't heard for hours what's going on in Michigan, what's going on in Wisconsin, what's going on in Minnesota.
BLITZER: And I think that's a good point. Let's bring up those numbers. Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota...
BLITZER: Let's see -- And Iowa, of course.
BLITZER: Where those votes stand. Carlos, you know, you're looking perplexed out there. You've usually got a big smile on your face.
CARLOS WATSON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Still have a smile on my face. It's as exciting as we hoped it would be.
A couple of interesting things to think about it. Iowa, a Democratic controlled government. There is the governor as well as the secretary of state. On the other hand, you go to Ohio, you've got a Republican governor, Republican secretary of state. We learned in 2000 in Florida how important who controls those two seats are. So we may hear about that again.
And in Iowa, I understand -- and here's a little deja vu all over again, that David Kendall, President Clinton's former lawyer, may head up the recount effort there. So we're likely to start to hear the names of some pretty big no -- big name lawyers.
BLITZER: All right. Jeff, come on up with me. I want to take a look at some of these states that are still -- they're still too close that we can't project yet. Ohio...
GREENFIELD: What we're going to have to do...
GREENFIELD: ... is break precedent, ask the nice people in the control room if they can get us the popular vote in each state. These are the states we're talking about. But it would be really good to see the popular vote, the vote totals as they go on in each state.
I can tell you, for instance, in Iowa right now, John Kerry trails George Bush by about 8,000 or 9,000 votes, that he's a little bit ahead in Wisconsin. That in Ohio, we know the margin is about 107,000 votes. It keeps changing, with 96 percent of the precincts in. That's the one we've been talking about.
Remember, Iowa is a state that John Kerry -- that Al Gore, I'm sorry, carried four years ago narrowly. And right now, with 96 percent of the vote in, as you'll see in a minute, George Bush is leading.
On the other hand, Nevada is a state that George Bush carried four years ago. Right now, if my memory is right at this hour, Kerry has the narrow lead. And we know nothing about what's going on so far in Michigan or in Minnesota or in Hawaii.
But as soon as the right buttons are pushed and we pay that electrical bill, we're going to find out what those numbers are.
BLITZER: We're going to see the raw numbers coming in. We do see the projections, the percentages, the precincts reporting. Ninety percent up there, 70 percent there. These precincts are coming in with their numbers. We're going to put the hard numbers up there.
Iowa is going to wait at least until tomorrow, Jeff.
BLITZER: That's important news that we heard, because of fatigue and some malfunction of these voting machines. That wasn't supposed to happen after the last time.
Here we are. GREENFIELD: Thank you, thank you, thank you. All right.
BLITZER: Let's start up here in Ohio first. With 96 percent of the precincts reporting, 2.687 million for Bush, 2.56 for -- for Kerry. What, about 120,000.
GREENFIELD: About 122,000 vote plurality so far for Bush. And this margin has increased marginally as this -- as we approach 100 percent. That one gets very tricky.
New Mexico, which Kerry carried, with 93 percent of the vote. We're now projecting George W. Bush is ahead by about 28,500 votes.
BLITZER: In a small state like New Mexico, that's significant.
GREENFIELD: It is, but it would be a takeaway.
GREENFIELD: It would be a takeaway from the Democrats. Iowa, carried narrowly by the Democrat Al Gore in 2000, an 11,000 vote lead with 96 percent of the vote in.
BLITZER: But we heard that the secretary of state is going to wait until tomorrow to certify who won. Michigan is a state that Kerry was supposedly going to win relatively easily, 76 percent of the precincts reporting, 1.797 million for Kerry, 1.681 million for Bush.
GREENFIELD: It's 160,000 vote lead. I like to do these raw numbers, because I'm old fashioned. That's a likely Kerry win. But Lord knows, we're not projecting.
Hawaii, I'm not sure how we have 120,000 votes in with 0 percent of the precincts reporting. It sounds like the old Chicago days, but it's a Kerry lead.
Wisconsin, this is the state that Al Gore took by 0.2 percent. Here we are again. John Kerry has a margin of about 25,000 votes with 84 percent of the vote in.
Minnesota, Kerry has a somewhat more comfortable margin of 118,000 votes, three-quarters of the vote in.
And Nevada, which Bush carried four years ago, he has got a 5,000-vote lead.
BLITZER: With slightly more than half of the vote in. These are the states that we're waiting for. But this is still -- I think it's fair to say -- the critical state, Ohio right now.
GREENFIELD: It is unlikely, to answer Larry King's question, that George W. Bush can get to 270 just with this batch of states. Possible but unlikely.
BLITZER: While we're here, take a look at the popular vote. I'll show it to our viewers, as well. With 85 percent of the national precincts reporting, 52 percent for President Bush, 48 percent for John Kerry, less than one percent for Ralph Nader.
KING: So right now, gentlemen, the likelihood is there will be no winner tonight.
WATSON: Or at least no announcement. But two interesting wrinkles we should add.
Remember that four years ago in Iowa, George Bush won the vote among those who showed up at the polls on election day. It wasn't until they added in the absentee ballots that Al Gore won by 4,144. Worth remembering that.
And in New Mexico, they may have one of the two or three most liberal laws in terms of provisional ballots and how those are counted. So we may show up with lawyers in New Mexico when all is said and done.
BLITZER: And this is the first time all of the states are required to have these provisional ballots, which they were not required four years ago to have.
We don't know how many there are in any of these states. We don't know how many absentee ballots there are, military ballots coming in from around the country and around the world.
I think on that point, though, Carlos and Jeff, if they're going to get down to counting military ballots, that's good news for the president.
GREENFIELD: And the point about this is, I'm sure people out there are saying, "Hey, it's 2 a.m. in the morning. Other networks have called Ohio for Bush. What are you doing?"
What we're doing is trying to remember what happened four years ago and not make that mistake again. This is not a caution based on any political preference or judgment, except that we want to be sure when we tell you which candidate has won a state, that we're right.
KING: If you were President Bush, would you come forward now and make an acceptance speech?
GREENFIELD: What an interesting question.
KING: That's why I asked.
BLITZER: The answer -- until he knows that it's certified, until it's obviously clear that he's going to capture Ohio and maybe not do that well in the other states, I think he's going to be relatively cautious, as well.
KING: Even though a network has called it for him.
BLITZER: Networks can do whatever they want. We're not making any projections in Ohio other than to project that it's too close to call right now. We learned a lesson from four years ago, and I think that that's a smart lesson, and we'll continue to heed that lesson. KING: We may get a statement from both camps tonight.
GREENFIELD: Well, see, that's the point. Traditionally, you do not go and acknowledge victory until your opponent concedes. And based on what we heard from the Kerry campaign, they aren't about to concede.
WATSON: They're not conceding.
BLITZER: We heard Mary Beth Cahill, the campaign chair, specifically say they want to see what those provisional ballots in Ohio look like.
And to remind our viewers, we spoke with Ken Blackwell, the secretary of state, in Ohio just a little while ago. And even though he's a Republican, he says, you know what? Eleven days from now they will begin to count those provisional ballots, and he did not rule out the possibility, as the Democrats are suggesting, that there may be as many as 250,000 of those provisional ballots.
GREENFIELD: Here's the key difference from 2000. In 2000, as we had all proclaimed George Bush the winner -- we were debating who had won for president for four years and who would be in the cabinet.
If you look at the Associated Press numbers, George Bush's lead in Florida was shrinking literally by the minute. If you look at the numbers in Ohio now -- and I realize there are provisional ballots out now -- just in terms of the votes we can count, George Bush's lead has actually expanded in the last two minutes to now about 125,000 votes.
So there's no sign in these numbers that they're getting -- that the Kerry campaign is getting this down to a margin where those provisional ballots make a difference, except that our legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin said they think there are, what, half a million ballots out there?
WATSON: I think it's a little bit less than that.
BLITZER: That was before 96 percent of the precincts had reported.
WATSON: One of the things I think Larry's putting his finger on, though, is that public relations battle is likely to begin soon. So even if we don't have a concession speech, we certainly will have people signaling and posturing over the next several hours.
KING: But the way, can we change too close to call?
GREENFIELD: Of course.
KING: We can do anything. We're a network, right?
BLITZER: We're CNN. If we want to change that, we can change that.
GREENFIELD: Would you like to say who knows? Go figure? KING: Because you just pointed out that Bush has increased his lead in Ohio. So I was questioning, can we change too close to call to say...
BLITZER: The answer is yes. If more information comes in, raw numbers come in, and other analysis that we're getting, we can certainly move that to too close to call to projected win, let's say, for Bush, if that's what's going to happen.
GREENFIELD: We have one piece of data that I think we should share in the middle of this.
The talk about the youth vote, this explosion of the youth vote, and Bruce Springsteen.
GREENFIELD: It turns out that, based on some of these numbers, the 18-to 24-year-olds voted in no greater proportion this time than they did last time.
So apparently, that means that they were happy to go out and listen to Bruce Springsteen and the Dixie Chicks sing, but from there to the polling place, it's too far to walk.
WATSON: Do we know that from the exit polls? Which there may be some question?
KING: Why don't they? Why don't they?
GREENFIELD: That data is much better than projections, according to Bill Schneider. I checked with him.
KING: Why don't they vote, gentlemen?
BLITZER: Why don't they vote? Younger people historically...
BLITZER: ... vote in much smaller percentages than older people. The older you get, the more likely you're going to vote in the United States for the simple reason that you get smarter and you appreciate the importance of voting. Young people...
WATSON: You know that to be true.
KING: Wouldn't you have more at stake in a sense? What do we have at stake?
GREENFIELD: You're a homeowner. You're a taxpayer. You have kids. Therefore, the schools matter to you more. It's all about it. Young people also move more. It's a little trickier to register.
But anyway, I just thought that would be interesting.
BLITZER: All right. Stand by, guys. We're going to take another quick break. We'll continue our coverage from the CNN election headquarters in Times Square.
There's people outside. They're watching us through this window. They're taking a look at what's going on. Millions of viewers still watching in the United States and around the world. Much more coverage coming up.
BLITZER: Times Square in New York City, our CNN election headquarters. We're watching all of these races, Senate races, House races, governor races. Most important, we're watching the presidential race right now.
Look at this behind us. John Thune, the Republican challenger to the Senate majority minority leader Tom Daschle, he's speaking in South Dakota. We have not yet projected a winner in South Dakota, but John Thune is speaking to his supporters.
A very, very close race now out there, Tom Daschle fighting for his political survival in South Dakota. What a tight race this has been.
Let's take a look at the actual numbers. So far, with 91 percent of the precincts reporting, Thune has 170,000 vote. That would be 51 percent. Tom Daschle has 163,000, 49 percent of the vote. Just more than 6,500 votes or so difference separating these candidates. In a small state like South Dakota, 91 percent of the vote in.
Ohio is clearly critical right now in the presidential contest. Stuart Rothenberg -- or Iowa, excuse me. Iowa is also very critical. Stuart Rothenberg is looking at Iowa to better understand how close this race is.
And Stuart, you've got some spatial logic, computerized analysis that you can share with our viewers why it's as close in Iowa as so many of us thought it would be.
STUART ROTHENBERG: Yes, we do, Wolf. Thanks.
This is a spatial logic map. It's a color-coded map that gives us an idea who's and where and by how much. And let's look at this map. Al Gore carried the state four years ago by about 4,100 votes.
This time, George Bush is doing much better in the northwestern corner of the state and the southwestern corner. This -- the western third of the state tends to be more the more Republican vote. He's bringing out more Republican votes increasing his margin there. That's helping him.
You will note that in the southwestern corner, there is one county that has not -- has not provided us any returns. That's Montgomery County. We have no results there. I can tell you that in 2000 George Bush won this with over 60 percent and 1,500 votes. So when it comes in -- it will come in. We're pretty sure of that. The president is likely to carry that. There were a number of things that are important here. There are about 15 counties that are still out. They're scattered all around the state. And what we're finding is that of counties that are outstanding, 11 of them, President Bush is leading, two of them Senator Kerry is leading and two of them are even.
The counties that are outstanding are all over the place -- Harrison, Green, Calhoun, Humboldt up here. But what's important is it's harder, again, harder to see John Kerry winning many, most of these counties and picking up, gaining ground.
It's not impossible. We have obviously not called this state or projected this state yet. But the way the map looks, I think Republicans have to be rather optimistic.
BLITZER: In your experience, Stuart, have you seen a secretary of state of a state saying, "You know what? There's been malfunctions of the machines. There's fatigue. We'll wait a day before we can certify who has won that state." Have you seen that in recent years?
ROTHENBERG: No. It's really amazing. Of course, it's unusual to have so many states this close in a presidential contest of this type.
In three of the Iowa states -- counties that are apparently suspended voting, one, the two candidates are even right now. One, George Bush is ahead. And one, John Kerry is ahead. That's probably a metaphor for the tightness of the race in the state.
BLITZER: All right, Stuart, we'll be getting back to you. Stuart Rothenberg at the CNN election analysis center.
Candy Crowley is in Boston monitoring what's happening with the Kerry campaign.
What is happening there, Candy?
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We are told by the Kerry campaign that John Edwards is going to show up here at Conley Square to address the crowd, or at least the crowd that remains.
You know, two signals here. One, you can't expect to see the Kerry campaign claim either victory or defeat tonight. So they're sending out the No. 2.
It's really interesting because, in the past couple of weeks, Wolf, they have told us that, in fact, the Kerry campaign would, if the Florida-like event started, would go out there and fight it very hard. And they had learned a lesson from 2000, when they think that Al Gore was too timid to kind of look like a winner.
The problem, of course, with the scenario here of John Kerry coming out and looking like a winner in the way that George Bush did during the Florida recount is that, of course, there already is a sitting president. At the time neither Al Gore nor George Bush were sitting in the Oval Office. So this is a very difficult situation. Another one of those unprecedented elections. Who would have thought we'd have two in a row? In which they're just going to have to feel their way through this. And for now, the process is John Edwards is going to come out and address the crowd.
BLITZER: And there's absolutely no indication whatsoever, Candy, that these Democrats are -- that John Kerry is getting ready to concede any time soon.
CROWLEY: No, no, no, no. That's why they're sending out John Edwards. They have no intention of doing that.
BLITZER: Candy Crowley in Boston. And we'll, of course, listen to John Edwards once he shows up where you are.
This is shaping up, Jeff Greenfield, as a -- quite a cliffhanger, I would say, at this point.
GREENFIELD: Yes. I still -- I'm going to just put this on the table and then let all you people tell me I'm crazy.
Unlike 2000, when Al Gore could go to Florida and enter this fight because the margin was 500 or 1,000 votes, and "I won the national popular vote by half a million," the Kerry campaign has to say, "Well, these are the rules. We're 120,000 votes in the count behind in Ohio. We are going to be close to 3.5 million to 4 million votes behind in the country. But we're going to go and make a lawyer- like fight in Ohio to get these votes."
Do they have every right to do it? Absolutely. Are these the rules by which we play for the presidency? Yes. All I'm saying is that the moral force behind an argument like this as opposed to Gore's argument, it's just tougher.
BLITZER: Look the spread right now. Look at the spread in the national -- this is Ohio right now. The spread looks like it's grown a little bit with 97 percent of the vote in.
GREENFIELD: It's 126,000 votes.
BLITZER: Yes. It looks like wider as opposed to what the Democrats hoped for, would get narrower.
KING: But all the money has been spent in the closer. You would do the same if you were the other side, right?
GREENFIELD: If you'd spent two years of your life and hundreds of millions of dollars fighting for the presidency, and this intensely, and you had a chance to win, of course you would.
I am making an argument about the difficulty of convincing the public that you are fighting the good fight. They're partisans. Look, it's the same thing the Bush people did when they lost the popular vote. They've got every right to do it. All I'm saying is it's a tough road to hoe. BLITZER: So much of what's going to happen tonight and tomorrow, Carlos, is going to be posturing, posturing by both the Democrats and the Republicans. Smart for John Edwards to be coming out shortly in Boston to make a speech?
WATSON: They do. It goes back to the conversation Larry started a little while ago with the public relations game and the need to say something, to not allow a vacuum.
I think what's interesting on the Republicans side is who do you put forward? It's unlikely that you would have Vice President Cheney step forward. Wouldn't be surprised to see Jim Baker, but might really expect to perhaps either see Marc Racicot, the campaign chairman, or maybe Karen Hughes, who we saw tonight. Those are two faces that -- that Jeff might think might be able to make the argument, I think, a little bit better.
KING: And what does Senator Edwards say?
GREENFIELD: The man made $30 million as a trial lawyer. I'm going to wait to hear what he has to say.
KING: But what would you guess he'll say?
GREENFIELD: I would guess it's along the lines of, look, we don't know who won Ohio, and there are hundreds of thousands of provisional ballots out there. They could make the difference. The argument will probably be -- and this will sound very familiar to all of us -- we need to count every vote.
BLITZER: Every vote counts.
BLITZER: And we're going to make sure that every vote counts. That's what presumably he will say once he emerges. We'll take that live. We'll stand by for that.
GREENFIELD: And I assume -- I assume this takes place in an environment where, once we find out what happened in Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, and Michigan, Ohio would make the difference for Kerry.
WATSON: Because, as you pointed out before, there still, I think, is the mathematical opportunity that the president could win without Ohio.
KING: Just thought there will be people who went to bed knowing another network called it and then wake up in the morning like a lot of us did and then learn that it ain't over.
BLITZER: Two other networks projected Ohio going to the president. And that would bring the number up to 269 with the new House of Representatives. It would go to the House of Representatives. Presumably, that would be a win for George W. Bush.
But to our viewers in the United States and around the world, we are saying that, based on all the information that we have at CNN, it's too close to call. That's the green color that we've put up there. Too close to call in Ohio, for us to project a winner. As a result, we're not going to project the winner -- Carlos.
WATSON: If Iowa does work out in the president's favor, a big win. Again, that was another one of those Dukakis states that Michael Dukakis won . The one who will certainly get credit for is Chuck Grassley, the Republican senator, who while he was running for reelection, spent a lot of his time and frankly, a lot of his money and even his ads touting the president.
So we've still got a long ways to go, but if Iowa ultimately works out, it will be a meaningful shift in the geography.
While we're standing by waiting to hear from John Edwards, the vice presidential candidate, let's bring back David Gergen. He's joining us once again.
David, this has been like a roller coaster that's been going back and forward, up and down. An emotional seesaw, I would suspect, for both of these candidates.
DAVID GERGEN, POLITICAL ANALYST: If I might respond to Jeff Greenfield's point.
He has an enormously important and persuasive argument that with the president so far ahead in the popular vote, John Kerry will be -- It will be very difficult for John Kerry to sustain any kind of long- term challenge.
But I would suggest, if you look at the states outside Ohio, it looks very unlikely George Bush can win without Ohio, and John Kerry clearly cannot win without Ohio. So it really does come down in the end that both candidates need Ohio.
And it does seem to me that Kerry has two things he could rely on to make the argument to continue the counting in Ohio. One is that the secretary of state of Ohio, a Republican, Ken Blackwell, has just told the nation everybody should take a deep breath. We have a law. And we'll count in 11 days, and it will be settled.
So instead of having a Katherine Harris there, he has a Ken Blackwell, which makes -- he's got a more reliable foundation for making his argument.
The other thing he can argue is, "I do not intend to take this to the courts. What I will do is abide by the decision of the Ohio secretary of state in 11 days. And I promise to you, I pledge to the country, this will be over in two weeks. I will not pursue it beyond that. So I do not want to put the country through the ordeal of last time."
I think, if he were to do that and to say -- and to use Ken Blackwell, the Republican secretary of state to a Republican governor, Bob Taft, I think the country would say, that's fair. That's fair. Even though George W. Bush has won the popular vote, that's fair. But we don't want to go through a long agony of the kind we went through last time. If it's 11 days, fair enough.
BLITZER: The country has waited a long time. I suppose the Democrats will say you know what? The country can wait a few more days, if necessary, to make sure that every ballot is counted. Everyone is satisfied.
But I agree with you, David. What we heard from Ken Blackwell when he was interviewed here on CNN, just a little while ago, was impressive.
Let's go to Boston right now. You see John Edwards walking over to the podium. He's going to speak. And we're going to listen to what he has to say. There are still plenty of supporters of John Kerry at Copley Plaza in Boston.
SEN. JOHN EDWARDS (D-NC), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you.
Thank you. Thank you. It's been a long night. But we've waited four years for this victory. We can wait one more night.
Tonight, John and I are so proud of all of you who are here with us and all of you across the country who have stood with us in this campaign. John Kerry and I have made a promise to the American people that in this election every vote would count, and every vote would be counted.
Tonight we are keeping our word, and we will fight for every vote. You deserve no less. Thank you.
BLITZER: There he is, John Edwards, the Democratic vice presidential nominee, making it clear to the entire nation, to the entire world, that the Democratic team is not ready to concede by any means. They're going to challenge. They're going to fight. And they're going to see what they can do.
We will fight, he said, Jeff Greenfield. I think we've predicted basically pretty accurately what he would say.
GREENFIELD: I think among us -- it's too late in the evening for me to remember who (AUDIO GAP) speech word for word. Count, I think, every vote.
KING: I think you.
GREENFIELD: Oh, well, modesty forbids. But that's the line. That's your point. That, OK, we are here to count every vote. That's how the system works.
BLITZER: All right. We've got another projection to make, and I'm going to walk up to our projection screen. At this moment -- and what time is it? It's 2:30 on the East Coast. 2:30 a.m. CNN is projecting that Michigan and 17 electoral votes will go to John Kerry. Michigan will go to John Kerry. Michigan went to Al Gore four years ago. It stays in the Democratic column. Look how close this race is right now. Bush is 249 electoral votes, we've projected. Kerry with 228. (AUDIO GAP) Michigan, the last blue state we've been able to project. Michigan going for John Kerry. This green state is too close to call. Ohio, we have not been able to project Ohio. It's too close to call. But Michigan, I guess the Democrats were expecting that. But they can breathe a little bit easier.
KING: So, Wolf, for Bush to win tonight -- for the president to win tonight, he has to win -- Iowa's not going to come in tonight, and Ohio's not going to come in tonight. He's got to win Minnesota, Nevada ...
GREENFIELD: And Wisconsin.
KING: New Mexico and Wisconsin.
BLITZER: He's got to run the table. Almost.
KING: But he's got to win...
WATSON: Three of those four.
KING: Three of the four.
GREENFIELD: Minnesota, Wisconsin, and one other state would do it, but there's no sign he's going to win either one of those. As we've been looking at these vote totals -- this is not a prediction or projection. But Kerry is ahead in Minnesota and Wisconsin. And Bush is marginally ahead in Iowa, which we're not counting. It means that tonight, unlikely he can wrap this up without Ohio. So here we are.
WATSON: Do you think the president speaks tomorrow morning?
GREENFIELD: You know, I think he has to wait till the Kerry campaign plays its cards. I'm trying to remember...
WATSON: I think he's got to weigh in sometime by mid day.
GREENFIELD: Or somebody does. Back in '60, Nixon gave a kind of, sort of concession. He didn't exactly concede. He said, if the present trend continues, Senator Kennedy will be elected. But he was holding back some cards. And Kennedy got up and gave a sort of victory statement.
WATSON: But the president can say, I'm pleased with what happened. I trust and have faith in the American people, and I like what I see.
BLITZER: But John Edwards was very precise, and every word that he uttered was very carefully thought through. If it takes another day or two or three. In this particular case of Ohio, though, Ken Blackwell, the secretary of state, told us they can't even start counting those provisional ballots for 11 days. We have another projection that we're going to make right now. CNN can now project that John Kerry will carry Minnesota and its 10 electoral votes. A big win in Minnesota. This is a state that's been very close. It was carried by the Democrats four years ago. It stays in the Democratic column. Let's update our viewers right now on the race for the White House.
Minnesota going for Kerry. Bush with 249. Kerry with 238. 270 need to win. Minnesota, a blue state. And remember, this green state is Ohio. We're still waiting to see Wisconsin. We're still waiting to see Iowa. But we're not going to see Iowa any time soon, at least not till tomorrow. The secretary of state saying they've got malfunctions in the machinery. There's fatigue. And we'll see what happens. We've got potentially still a long night to go here, guys. But Minnesota and Michigan, both states the Republicans wanted badly, but the Democrats, according to our projection, are going to be able to keep.
KING: Do we have a long night if two of the states, two of the remaining four or five states come in for Kerry and two come in for Bush, the night is over.
KING: You're not going to get Ohio and Iowa.
GREENFIELD: If Wisconsin stays the way it is and goes for Kerry, you're now at 249-248. And putting Ohio aside ...
KING: And Iowa aside.
GREENFIELD: Nobody gets it.
KING: That's what I said. I said the night's over.
BLITZER We have another projection to make right now and CNN can now project another state carried by John Kerry. Hawaii and its 4 electoral votes. The vice president of the United States visited only last Sunday in a desperate bid to try to grab that state from the Democrats. Hawaii, a state that went to Al Gore four years ago, remaining in the Democratic column. Hawaii goes to John Kerry, according to our CNN projection. We're getting a lot of projections in the last few minutes. Three states, all going for John Kerry. Minnesota, Hawaii, and -- what was the third state already?
KING: Four left.
BLITZER: That's right. Not that many states left to go. If we take a look at the race for the White house, with Hawaii now blue, Bush at 249, Kerry at 242. Remember, 270, we always remind our viewers, needed for this race.
KING: So no one can win tonight. (AUDIO GAP) Only three states left, and that's Wisconsin, New Mexico, and Nevada. And they can't total enough to give anyone a win, right?
WATSON: Here's the interesting -- yes. But here's an interesting piece of the public relations psychological game. Does everyone go to sleep tonight with John Kerry far behind in the popular vote but ahead in the electoral vote?
KING: He could be ahead.
WATSON: That's possible, right?
GREENFIELD: Depends on which network they watch. If they watched us, yes.
WATSON: But think about the public relations conflict. You talked before about the perception, about the moral way. There is a chance that Americans wake up to headlines that says, "John Kerry ahead in the electoral vote. Far behind, or meaningfully behind, in the popular vote."
BLITZER : 2 million, let's say.
KING: But that is a pretty convincing lead in Ohio, isn't it?
GREENFIELD: Can we go up to the map for a second? It's late.
BLITZER: Yes, we can do whatever we want.
GREENFIELD: Let's just - without - we don't have the gizmo.
KING: At this point, you could dance.
GREENFIELD: We can do it on this one. Assume for a minute Wisconsin goes for Kerry. That's 250 electoral votes. We'll leave Iowa out of the picture. Nevada and New Mexico could easily flip in both states. Let's assume they do. So that's 257 to 256, with Iowa outstanding and Ohio with 120,000 vote Bush lead, but provisional ballots and Bush with a 4 million vote thing. Okay. Maybe we can actually do this so it will be a little clearer. You ready, Wolf?
BLITZER: Yeah. Okay. This is what we call Jeff's electoral work sheet.
GREENFIELD: Yes, this shows you I have no life. I even do this when there's not a presidential election. Let's give Wisconsin to Kerry. Turn that state blue, if we can, please. Any minute. And now we have 252 votes for Kerry. Now, even though these two states may flip, let's keep them the way they were in 2000. Let's make New Mexico blue with five electoral votes, which will bring Kerry up to 257. Let's keep Nevada red. And that would give Bush 256. 254. That's right. So it's basically even with Iowa and Ohio at steady. Now, Carlos' point -- fellas in the control room, bear with me. Take Nevada and turn it blue, which is entirely possible. And, Carlos, your point survives. So we go to sleep at night this way, Kerry with 262 votes. Bush with 249. Iowa uncalled, but Bush leading. Ohio uncalled, but Bush with a 100,000 vote lead, and Bush with a 4 million vote popular plurality.
WATSON: And lawyers swarming over the Midwest instead of the South this time, and a public relations battle that starts with John Edwards and won't end for a couple of weeks maybe.
KING: And the public vote meaningless except for public relations. Meaninglessfor who's president.
GREENFIELD: It strikes me as another campaign to begin the abolition of the Electoral College, this done by the Republicans.
KING: They've been in favor of it. They may switch.
BLITZER: We're told, by the way, the President of the United States is still in the residence of the White House watching all of this on television. I can only assume that John Kerry is watching all of this. No one is going to sleep. We're not going to sleep. Certainly, they're not going to be going to sleep any time soon. Although at some point, presumably, they'll want to get a good night's sleep.
KING: What are we now waiting for?
BLITZER: We're waiting to get more information on these states.
KING: New Mexico, Wisconsin, Nevada.
BLITZER: That's right.
WATSON: The Southwestern states.
BLITZER: Those three states would be very important. And remember, for people looking at Jeff's electoral work sheet, those are only projections. They're not even projections. That's only Jeff Greenfield playing around with numbers.
GREENFIELD: How about what ifs? That's a good name for it.
KING: That's a what if.
GREENFIELD: How about it could happen. Let's take a look at the popular vote right now. And I'll go ahead and show the viewers. With 89 percent of the precincts around the United States now officially reporting, the president remaining at 51 percent. Kerry at 48 percent. Nader with 1 percent. Take a look at this spread. It's a little more than 3 million votes. It's a moral advantage, but in practical terms of politics, as important as the popular vote is this electoral vote is the critical vote.
GREENFIELD: First, Nader is now under half of 1 percent, if I do my math right. This is a 3.8 million vote margin. Every time I listen to academics I realize that I shouldn't. I was told for ten years, if you get a margin anymore than 1 percent on the popular vote, it's clear to not have a clear electoral victory. Guess what?
BLITZER: Does that mean we shouldn't be listening to it anymore?
KING: Can we say, in the American system, the popular vote is moot.
GREENFIELD: More and more so. That's what I mean. Because when you get a spread this big and you don't have a conclusive electoral vote margin, first of all, it shows you how different the country is. Different states vote differently.
BLITZER: Jeff, sit down for a second because I want to bring in Jeffrey Toobin. He's at the CNN election analysis center. There you a are, Jeff. You're a lawyer. And it's not a derogatory term by any means. A recovering lawyer, if you will, as we've said before. It looks like the lawyers are about to get deeply involved in this election.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: That's right, Wolf. And I think the other states are interesting. But what really matters, especially is to Kerry, is Ohio. If Kerry does not win Ohio, he loses the election period. So what the Kerry lawyers are thinking about tonight is one thing and one thing only, which is how to find about 120,000 more votes in Ohio. And the way they're coming on doing it is to count on those provisional ballots. And I'm here with two very distinguished lawyers, Lawrence Tribe, who was a university professor at Harvard, and also a - the -- represented Al Gore in the Supreme Court during the Bush v. Gore last year. Also, Boyden Gray, who was the White House counsel to the first President Bush, who are thinking over how Kerry or Bush is going to figure out how to win Ohio. How is John Kerry going to win Ohio?
LAWRENCE TRIBE, HARVARD LAW PROFESSOR: Well, I'll tell you not so much about John Kerry's strategy but about a simple legal proposition, you know. And that is that it's not a matter of looking for new votes or recounting votes. These provisional ballots are just human beings who have gone to the poll and who have been told that, for some reason, their ballots are not going to be counted at the moment. And under the law as it now exists -- and no one doubts this. Congress passed the statute called the Help Americans Vote Act. They are entitled, absolutely entitled, to have those ballots impounded and counted in the end unless it turns out that they were improperly voting. So we're not talking about sort of protracting something by jimmying up some complicated contest. We're not talking about going to court. We're just talking about something very simple. It's the Republican secretary of state for the state of Ohio who's made the point eloquently. And that is, there are votes to be counted.
BLITZER: Professor Tribe and our other guest Jeff Toobin - C. Boyden Gray. I want to interrupt for a minute. We'll come back to you. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the governor of California, is speaking. I want our viewers to listen to Arnold Schwarzenegger for a minute or so. Let's listen in.
ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER, CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR: And it is still a little early to tell, but it looks like we defeated proposition 66.
Which was to stop the assault on the three strikes law and to make sure our criminals are off the streets and behind bars where they belong. And we defeated proposition 68 and 70, a huge defeat for gambling special interests, and a huge victory for California communities and California taxpayers.
BLITZER: Arnold Schwarzenegger, the governor of California, speaking about California ballot initiatives. We'll continue to monitor what he's saying, but let's bring back Jeffrey Toobin and his two guests, C. Boyden Gray, Lawrence Tribe. And I'm sorry for interrupting. Professor Tribe, go ahead. Finish your thought on why this provisional ballot count -- it's not a recount. It's a count. Why you see it as all that important.
TRIBE: Oh, it's a matter of basic right. And among the provisional ballots that were cast in Ohio in 2000, when Congress had not yet cast this law, I think some 90 percent ended up being counted as lawfully cast ballots. In the end, it's not very easy to say who what the jut outcome will be. The arithmetic is not very favorable for John Kerry. But these are not his to dispose of. These people had a right to vote and until it becomes clear that their votes are moot, these votes have a right to be counted -- Boyden.
C. BOYDEN GRAY, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: Yeah. I can't quarrel with that except for this proposition. We don't know all the facts at the moment, but it appears as though the president will have a 125,000 minimum vote lead in Iowa - in Ohio after the vote is stopped in the state. That means 175,000 provisionals, maybe 150,000 are good. The challenger, Senator Kerry has to win in order to make up the difference 125,000 out of those 50,000, that's 5 out of 6. That strikes me as being extremely implausible. That doesn't mean they shouldn't be counted, but what is going to happen if we go down this road is they're going to have to start scrambling in this state. We're going to see lots of other challenges trying to cobble up a few votes here, cobble up a few votes there, and we could be in for more than simply ten days.
TOOBIN: And let me throw in another wrinkle here. Under the Ohio law, each of the ten counties in Ohio counts the provisional ballot separately. There's a question left undefined in the law. What standard do you use? How do you decide what's a legitimate provisional ballot and what's not? And do all, Larry, do all 88 counties have to use the same standard? Because isn't that what the Supreme Court said in Bush v. Gore four years ago?
TRIBE: Well, the Supreme Court said in a recount situation, which it was careful to limit to a recount situation. Under the supervision of one single authority, there has to be a uniform standard. It's not clear whether that applies in a circumstance where the decentralized decisions of the separate parts of the state from the get-go are left to their own devices, the way Congress left them in the Help America Vote Act. I suppose, if anyone is going to challenge the lack of uniformity here and take it to court, it would probably have to be President of the United States. Because in the end, despite the arithmetic, if in the end it's counting these provisional ballots that puts John Kerry over the top, the objection to which they were counted, perhaps not uniformly, would be that of the president.
At the same time, the secretary of state might decide they can be counted uniformly within the statutes of the state of Ohio, and I haven't taken a look this evening at whether the statutes give the secretary that discretion. And rather than scrounging for votes around the state, I'm told that, as of now, there was a federal injunction that required that people who stood out in the rain for five hours and learned that there were no machines there be allowed to vote on paper ballots, and I'm told they weren't. It's not clear what the shakeout will be when we look at the total tally in the State of Ohio.
TOOBIN: So Boyden, one standard for all 88 counties?
GRAY: I don't think, frankly, it really matters. I think it's going to even out. I think the bigger question is, "Are we down a slippery slope here where the mobilization of these lawyers like World War I?" With all these lawyers, it's tantamount to the declaration of a war because I do not see that Senator Kerry can get -- I have no problem counting these provisional ballots.
TRIBE: You don't need lawyers. It doesn't take a lawyer to count the provisional ballots. I'm not on a jet going down there. So far as I know, it's the secretary of state of Ohio, a Republican, who plans to do what the law requires and count the ballots. I don't think it would take lawyers to tell him not to.
GRAY: Well, I certainly think that no one can say that Senator Kerry does not have the right to have those votes counted.
TRIBE: And those voters don't have a right.
GRAY: And those voters don't have -- And no network has the right to declare the election over. I just worry that we're going to not stop there, that we'll see a lot more unfold as a result.
TRIBE: It's possible.
TOOBIN: Wolf, as you can see, we have some agreement here. But lawyers have a way, as matters get more complicated, and get more contentious, the agreements tend to evaporate.
BLITZER: Jeffrey Toobin, we'll continue talking to you. C. Boyden Gray, Lawrence Tribe, as well. Thanks to both of you. Good explanation of what's going on. CNN's Ed Henry is joining us once again. He's getting some more information from his monitoring base in Washington DC. What are you hearing?
ED HENRY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Wolf, that's right. Now, a lot of huddling going on, obviously with Senator Kerry and other top Democratic .party official We understand that Senator Edward Kennedy and his wife, they've been in the Boston townhome of senator Kerry, trying to figure out heave they want to push Ohio, other states, what exactly the strategy is going to be for Senator Kerry going forward. And I can tell you some Democratic strategists are now privately saying there's a little bit of a debate developing within the Democratic Party about how hard to push Ohio over the provisional ballots.
Obviously, some talk among the Kerry people these provisional ballots could break their way in a major way. But other people saying the provisional ballots may be just as likely to be split between Republicans and Democrats, and it might not be wise to push this too hard. Because hey might not all break the Kerry way and might not make the difference to bring Ohio into his column. There's a little bit of a debate developing here. Democratic strategists telling us it's not clear-cut about how far, in fact, Democrats are going to push Ohio on this provisional ballot question, in fact, whether or not they will break Kerry's way.
And in fact, Dana Bash, CNN's White House correspondent, reporting that a senior Bush aide is also pointing out privately that, in fact, these provisional ballots could be just as lucky to go Republican or Democrat. So it's not clear that they're clearly Kerry votes.
BLITZER: And if they also have to count, the Secretary of State of Ohio, Ken Blackwell told us, the military ballots that are still out there as well, almost all of the polls we've done of U.S. military personnel, a display shows a majority going to the Republican side as opposed to the Democratic side. That's, I'm sure, an issue the Democrats will have to factor in as well. But you did hear John Edwards say flatly, if it takes another day or so, they're going to wait. They owe it to their Democratic constituents to make sure every vote is counted. And you heard them make that case. So if there's a debate under way among Democrats, John Edwards certainly was reflecting that debate.
HENRY: That's right. He's walking a fine line there. Because there's a lot of pressure within the party because as you remember, some Democrats feel that Al Gore didn't push hard enough in 2000. Clearly, the Kerry camp wants to send a signal tonight, they're ready to fight. They're not going to fold their tent, they're not going to give in. Some Democrats feel that Al Gore did not fight hard enough, Joe Lieberman did not fight hard enough in 2000. Obviously, Gore and Lieberman would say they fought as hard as they could. But obviously the Kerry/Edwards camp wants to send a signal to the Democratic base that they're not folding their tent just yet. But there's a debate developing about how far they should push this.
BLITZER: Ed, you reported a while ago, the plane was hanging out at the airport for Theo Epstein the general manger of the Boston Red Sox to start bringing the candidates from Boston to presumably Columbus, Ohio, maybe Des Moines, Iowa. What are you hearing beyond what you have already reported?
HENRY: Well, one little piece of information that's just come in and the fact that George Mitchell, the former Democratic Senate majority leader, has a small piece of the Boston Red Sox. Some people on Boston saying, behind the scenes, former Senator Mitchell been talking to John Henry, the principal owner of the Boston Red Sox, about getting active in the Kerry campaign and trying to help out. Just another layer there of some of the Democrats mobilizing to try to help Kerry. Wolf?
BLITZER: Ed Henry, thanks very much. We'll continue to check in with you. Check in with all of our reporters. Much more coverage coming up at the CNN headquarters at the NASDAQ market site here in Times Square, New York. Stay with us.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: Approaching 3:00 a.m. on the East Coast. We still don't know who the next President of the United States is going to be. We're live from Times Square. Let's update the viewers on what we know. These are the states we have not been able to project winners in yet. Many not left. But they are New Mexico, New with 96 percent of the precincts reporting, Bush with a slight lead, 52 percent to 47 percent. We're watching New Mexico. Wisconsin with 91 percent of the precincts reporting. Kerry with a slight lead, 50 percent to 49 percent, 1 percent for Ralph Nader. We've projected that Ohio is simply too close to call. Even though Bush is ahead 51 percent to 49 percent, with 98 percent of the precincts reporting. A difference of 130,000 votes in favor of Bush right now.
But the provisional ballots, the Democrats say, have to be counted, and the secretary of state of Ohio says they won't even start counting those provisional ballots for 11 days. Iowa, with 98 percent of the precincts reporting, a slight lead for President Bush, 50 percent, 49 percent. But only about a 10,000 vote spread. The secretary of state of Iowa saying they're going to hold off any declaring any certification of who won there. They've had some malfunctions of the voting machines and fatigue of election workers.
We won't know about Iowa until tomorrow. Nevada with 82 percent of the precincts reporting, slight lead for president Bush as well. 50 percent to 48 percent. By our count, based on our projections right now, Bush has 249 electoral votes. Kerry has 242 electoral votes. The blue states for Kerry. Red states for Bush. Those white states, we have not been able to project winners yet. The green state, Ohio, it's simply too close to call by our projection. 270 need. Let's bring in the senior White House correspondent Jon King. He's over at the White House watching all this together with us. What's the latest from there, John?
JOHN KING, CNN REPORTER: Wolf, the ghost and the memories of four years ago dictating the White House strategy tonight. The president is in the residence way past his bedtime. A man who likes to go to bed at 10 o'clock at night. He's with his senior staff. They still say they have planned - They have locked this in yet, is for the president to go to the Ronald Reagan building and address supporters tonight. Their problem now is the question of just what to say. They are waiting now, we are told, for Nevada and New Mexico. They believe they will win those states. As you said, they are ahead of the vote count but narrowly now. They want the results come in.
But they now understand the Democrats say this campaign will not end tonight. So the debate is do you go and declare victory, or do you, as most senior Bush advisers are telling us tonight, go over and say it looks good. It looks great. We think we're on the path to victory but we need to wait this out as the rest of the votes are counted. Obviously, it's a difficult position to be on. Some say go declare victory, that the Democratic math in Ohio is wrongs. But the others say, if you're a president who won a contested election last time. You believe you're going to win this time and with a majority. That was a big deal at this White House. They believe the president will win the popular vote and be over 50 percent. You want to unite the country. You do not want to antagonize Democrats. So give an upbeat, optimistic speech to your supporters and tell them to hang in a day or two.
BLITZER: So John, just to speak a journalistic language, there's no full lid at the White House. Meaning that they've told the reporters, the president is going to sleep. Go home. Get out of here. Because there's not going to be any more news coming out of the White House.
JOHN KING: No they have not. And both the president and vice president are here. They're looking at the results. They're talking to key supporters still around the country, and they're debating exactly what the president should say, if he speaks tonight. And we're still told and led to believe that is their inclination. Obviously, they could have the vice president say something if they wanted to. A short time ago, I was told the plan was for the president, and perhaps the vice president with him, to go to the Reagan Building. But they're in a difficult dilemma both politically tonight and if you believe they have won the election and they believe they have won the election, they have to govern the country come January 20th. So you want to rally your reporters and you want to thank them, but you don't want to do anything to further antagonize the Democrats.
BLITZER: And if the president is leaving the White House, John we will get word. They'll activate the travel pool and notify all members of the news organizations that the president is leaving. So we'll get the official word from the white house at some point if the presidential motorcade is going to leave the White House and drive a few blocks to the Reagan building.
JOHN KING: It is a short walk to the Reagan building, but the president, of course, doesn't walk, Wolf. We will know when the president is leaving, they will give us a heads up, and even if they didn't, it's a very long motorcade these days.
BLITZER: John King is not leaving the North Lawn of the White House, at least not any time soon. Let's walk over to speak with Jeff Greenfield, Carlos Watson and Larry King. First to you, Jeff. What do you make of it?
GREENFIELD: I want to broaden the focus a little and realize what an extraordinary event this is. That a President of the United States who never hit much over the 50 percent job
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