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Democrat Claire McCaskill Gives Victory Speech; Some Races Too Close To Call

Aired November 8, 2006 - 04:00   ET


RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Let's look at the House now. The Democrats needed 15 seats in the House to be able to take control.

SANCHEZ: They've gotten at least 20. And by all -- by all counts, it may be even more than that when they're all done. So right now it stands as such. John Mercurio hit it right on the number. He said 227.

WHITFIELD: Remarkable. He's good.

SANCHEZ: It's at 227; 227 to 191. Boy, he's picking them broad (ph).

WHITFIELD: All right. One of the Senate races that really could -- well, most folks thought would indeed determine the whole balance of power in the Senate was Missouri, with Claire McCaskill. Our Jonathan Freed got a chance to talk with her shortly after her speech of victory.


JONATHAN FREED, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In the Show Me State, we're going to show you the projected winner of this Senate race here, Claire McCaskill.

Thank you for joining us.


FREED: What is the message that you feel the voters of this state are sending to Washington by you being the projected winner tonight?

MCCASKILL: I think they want change. Clearly, Missourians are not happy with the status quo. Senator Talent has been a big supporter of President Bush. I think they want somebody who's going to bring some accountability and a good dose of Missouri independence to Washington.

FREED: What kind of a tone are you going to bring to what will be the dynamic of this -- this new dynamic of the debate on Capitol Hill? MCCASKILL: Well, I think it would be a huge mistake for the Democrats to begin to put a swagger in their step. This is a divided country. This will be a divided Congress. And if we don't start talking to one another and trying to find common ground and quit playing the political game that frankly, both parties have been engaged in, I think the American people are going to say, "Forget both of you."

So I think we need to get together and find common ground and solve some of these problems. I will be working very hard towards that goal.

FREED: You were very effective. You're working very hard during the campaign at trying to turn this, in part, into a referendum on the Bush presidency by pointing out that your opponent had sided with the White House more than 90 percent of the time.

To what extent do you think that that helped you? To what extent do you think people are voting for you and the Democrats, or are they pushing away from the incumbent?

MCCASKILL: I think it's probably a combination of both. You know, our government is controlled by the Republican Party at every level, in Missouri and at the national level. And when that happens, the American people generally say, "You know, we probably need to crank this back a little bit and get a different voice."

And I think this is the natural process we have in our democracy, very healthy. Now let's just hope the Democrats don't mess it up.

FREED: Another thing that was happening in this state, we had the stem cell debate. How do you feel about where that has gone tonight? And to what extent do you think it may have helped you in terms of turnout?

MCCASKILL: Well, I think that the stem cell issue is an important one. It's something I believe in. I do think that the national media focused too much on that issue in regards to this race. I think Iraq and health care and accountability and all those things really were part of this campaign.

I'm hopeful that the stem cell initiative will still pass. I'm very supportive of it. But this campaign was about more than just that.

FREED: You called for Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to resign, did you not?


FREED: You now have a larger soap box to stand on. What are you going to do with it?

MCCASKILL: Well, I will still be urging the president to ask Secretary Rumsfeld to leave. I think that he has become a problem. I don't think that his leadership is respected around the world or even within the military. And every bit of advice he's given the president has been wrong.

Now in the private sector, if everything you tell your boss is wrong, you generally are not kept around. And I think that the president is being stubborn about not recognizing that Secretary Rumsfeld is a liability and not an asset.

FREED: What did your opponent say to you when he called to concede?

MCCASKILL: He just congratulated me and complimented me on the kind of race that we'd run and wished me good luck.

FREED: Considering how tight this race has been, and how close the outcome is, is that going to moderate your tone at all? And how are you going to reflect the nature of that support when you go to Washington?

MCCASKILL: Well, I -- you know, I have a tendency to speak my mind, but I am a moderate. So I'm going to try to speak plainly and forcefully and with a lot of passion, but at the same time, I do think I'm going to claim that middle ground. And I think I can help bring some people together in Washington to get some things done.


WHITFIELD: All right. That was Missouri and the new Senate- elect -- senator-elect Claire McCaskill.

Tennessee was another big state, one of those states that could help determine what would happen in the Senate overall, in terms of the balance of power.

SANCHEZ: And again, it was a Democrat who tried to play the middle ground and almost succeeded doing so, but not quite enough. Corker gets the win there in Tennessee. We've heard from both candidates. Here's what they had to say.


BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE SENATE CANDIDATE: It was a strong head wind working against us, but in the end the choice belonged to the good people of Tennessee. They -- they ignored the distractions and distortions and instead focused on the different qualifications of two men, and they made up their own minds.

HAROLD FORD JR. (D), TENNESSEE SENATE CANDIDATE: When politics works, people live better lives and safer lives. When America is strong and great, the world is a better and safer place.

I only hope that all of my friends and colleagues and those who will be my former colleagues, at least for a while, in the Congress and the Senate, I only hope that they realize that what people want more than anything and what I heard and I know candidates all around the country heard over the last year and a half or two years as they were campaigning. They heard a hunger, and they sensed the great appetite on the part of the American people for something much better and far more dignified and greater than what we've given them over the last several years.


SANCHEZ: Grace under fire. Wow. Harold Ford there, finishing up a loser, but certainly a winner in the eyes of so many other people who will be considering him for other positions in the future, possibly another Senate seat in his state.

But let's do this. Let's move on to some of the other big Senate races. Pennsylvania, Rick Santorum big loss. Consider him, the No. 3 guy in the Republican Party. Some talked about presidential aspirations. He loses to Bob Casey Jr. in Pennsylvania.

In Ohio, another big race. This is with Mike DeWine and Sherrod Brown. Big win for the Democrats here. They take on Mike DeWine, beat him 56-44, quite significantly.

Moving on to Rhode Island. This was a big surprise for a lot of people, because Lincoln Chafee -- the name Chafee is an institution in Rhode Island. His father had his seat. He's taken it over. He's had it forever. The state literally loves him. He has 62 percent approval rating. But he lost, because this was really a referendum against the president of the United States. He gets, like 27 percent approval ratings in that state.

Now let's go to New Jersey there. Bob Menendez, in power for a long time, had some ethical problems himself that came into question. Tried to take on -- or pardon me, Tom Kean tried to take him on, Tom Kean Jr., another institutional name in that state. But Menendez pulled it out, 53-45.

WHITFIELD: All right, everybody. We are going into this. It's all about the balance of power, whether it be the Senate or the House of Representatives.

John Mercurio is with us again, as well as Amy Walter, now joining us from New York, as well.

Let's talk about how difficult it just might be getting things done. You've still got President Bush in the White House. You've got a majority Democratic Senate now, and who knows right now whether it's going to be, you know, 50-50 in the House or whether it's going to be 51-49, et cetera.

It seems to me, Amy, that it's going to be difficult, no matter which way you look at it. There just might be gridlock in Washington.

AMY WALTER, SENIOR EDITOR, "COOK POLITICAL REPORT": Well, it certainly is a prescription for gridlock. That's true. And at the same time, you have the one party in power these last two years. There wasn't a whole lot that got done legislatively either.

Certainly, one of the president's top issues, domestic issues he wanted to get through Congress, controlled by his own party, was immigration. That fell flat. The interesting thing is, it may actually succeed in a Democratic controlled Congress. Look, I think the -- the expectations now, the expectation game begins here for the Democrats, especially for somebody like -- who is soon to be Speaker Pelosi and what she is going to be able to do with her own caucus.

Now the reality is that, yes, in a very evenly divided Senate, a Republican in the White House, hard to see how a lot of legislation that makes it through the House gets signed by the president. At the same time, I think it's...

SANCHEZ: But do -- do -- let me ask you this. Do you come in and throw left hooks, or do you massage your way into the position? And you know what I mean. Do you come in and start handing out subpoenas or do you start talking about things like minimum wage to win over voters?

WALTER: Well, that's exactly the point. And that is what Pelosi has already tried to say in earlier conversations with reporters. She said, "We're going to come out, out of the gates with a, not just a 100-day plan but actually, 100-hour plan. We're going to try to get domestic issues up front, specifically issues like prescription drug coverage, as you said, like the minimum wage." I think we're going to see stem cell research, things like that, that...

SANCHEZ: That's smarter, isn't it?

WALTER: Well, absolutely. Now -- right. I think what's really important -- you know who you can use as a blueprint for this? Look what happened to Republicans after the 1998 elections. This is the election they lost seats. They were supposed to pick up seats.

This was the impeachment trial, President Clinton. Republican Party looked like they were on the ropes. They came back with a very small majority, passed a lot of legislation. Now it didn't get through the Senate, didn't get signed by the president, necessarily. But they were able to go into the next election with a positive agenda. They could point to stuff that they actually did.

WHITFIELD: So John, still on this theme of gridlock or trying to get things done. Say we end up with a situation in the House of a 50- 50. It's the Vice President Cheney...


WHITFIELD: Senate, 50-50. It's Vice President Cheney is the one who gets to be, you know, the tie breaker here.


WHITFIELD: What's the scenario you see playing out?

MERCURIO: Well, we have the 2000 elections and the 2001, the Senate that convened in 2001 as our model for that. And at that time, the Democrat, Tom Daschle, and the Republican majority leader, Trent Lott, worked out a relatively agreeable power sharing agreement in which Republicans maintained control of the Senate and the chairmanship of the committees, but Democrats were given, in some cases, in some committees, co-chairmanships. But also, they were given equal membership on the committees.

There's been a little bit of grumbling on the Republican side before the election that if it was a 50-50 Senate, hypothetically, they would not enter into the same sort of power sharing agreement. Mitch McConnell will be, probably, the new Senate majority leader if Republicans hold the Senate. And we're in a little bit more of a partisan environment than we were back in 2000.

But the other thing I think you have to look closely at in a 50- 50 Senate is the -- is the question of party switching. Now we saw, of course, in 2001, right before 9/11, Senate -- Senator Jim Jeffords switching parties...


MERCURIO: ... handing control of the Senate over to the Democrats. Listen, that could happen again. Lincoln Chafee, there are rumors on the Internet, on certain liberal blogs that Lincoln Chafee has already suggested or indicated that he might be open to such a thing, if he were to win. Obviously, he's not going to be back in the Senate.

WHITFIELD: Yes. He's bye-bye.

MERCURIO: But there are other moderate Republican senators who I'm sure will be...

WHITFIELD: Well, Lieberman, independent, but it's already been said, and he said...

SANCHEZ: He's going to caucus with the Democrats.

WHITFIELD: He's likely to vote, yes, Democrat.

MERCURIO: He'll caucus with the Democrats.

SANCHEZ: Let me ask you something about talking points that we heard tonight. And I heard this at least five or six times tonight from Republicans, and here's what it is. They say sure, these Democrats that you've elected tonight are running as moderates. Some even sound like conservatives. They have crew cuts, social conservatives, talk about moral issues. When they get to Washington, they're going to find that their leadership is filled with liberals.

Is there really a dysfunction there?

MERCURIO: Well, of course that's -- that's an election talking point. That's exactly what Republicans are going to say. Democrats say the same thing about Republicans from blue states.

SANCHEZ: But is there -- but is there any validity to it?

MERCURIO: Well, that's what I'm trying to -- I mean, I'm saying there is -- you know, it's a case by case basis. Look, there are some Democrats who come from red states, come to Washington and maintain their conservative values, somebody like Zell Miller, who came up to Washington as a former governor from Georgia and couldn't have been a bigger pain to the Democratic leadership in Washington. He ultimately endorsed President Bush.

On the other hand, look, there are Democrats who are from red states who come to Washington and always have competitive races, both in the House and the Senate, because they come from competitive districts and states -- I'm sorry, from conservative districts and states but vote in a liberal way.

SANCHEZ: But I guess -- but he questioned -- John, the key question is who will move who? Will the new guys come into the old guys' turf and say, "Hey, you know what? Let's come up with a new game plan"?

Or will the old guys say to the new guys, "Hey, listen here, rookie. Shut up. This is how we do it here"?

MERCURIO: That's a very good question. And again, it's a case by case basis. But I think the fact that this election was such a repudiation of what's been going on, of the Republican majority in Washington, I think does give some of those Republican -- some of those Democrats from conservative districts and states a little bit of leeway to work towards -- to work within their own party.

SANCHEZ: I think you might be right.

WALTER: yes -- yes, Democrats don't have any excuses, all right? If the argument is, well, maybe the old leadership doesn't understand the new leadership, doesn't understand what happened in this election.

Remember, so many of the Democrats who are going to take the mantle as committee chairmen in the next Congress were around in 1994. They saw Democrats lose power. They've obviously seen, now, Republicans lose power, 12 years later. So theoretically, they should have learned some lessons from both of these.

Now, just because you learned a lesson doesn't mean you're actually going to follow through with it. We all know that. But really, I mean, there's no excuse to look at what's happened just in the course of 12 years and say that, "Well, I don't know. This is the way we always do things. Let's just get back in line."


WHITFIELD: Well, earlier this evening, we heard from Nancy Pelosi, who said, and promised, that there is a new direction ahead. Let's take a listen.

SANCHEZ: Let's do this. Let's take a break and save the Nancy Pelosi stuff, and we'll have it for you...

WHITFIELD: And then we'll hear that.

SANCHEZ: ... in just a little bit, because it wasn't cued up. Thanks, guys, as usual. You're wonderful, John and Amy. We'll be checking back with you in just a little bit.

Stay with us. We've got a lot more.


SANCHEZ: Welcome back. I'm Rick Sanchez with Fredricka Whitfield, and we are following something for you that has been taking place now for many, many hours. And still, there are questions. Let's start with the balance of power, how things have shaken out in the U.S. Senate.

There it stands in a dead heat, 49 to 49. But there are two outstanding races, and both of them, it looks like the Democrats are ahead.

Also in the House, let's look at that balance of power if we possibly can. And you will see that -- pardon me. It's been a huge win for the Democrats thus far, 227-191. John Mercurio is smiling. We will explain that to you in just a little bit.

WHITFIELD: All right. Well, this shift for the balance of power in the House now puts Nancy Pelosi in a very remarkable historic position, now being the first woman to be House speaker.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: Tonight is a great victory for the American people. Today, the American people voted for change, and they voted for Democrats to take their country in a new direction. And that is exactly what we intend to do.

The American people voted for a new direction, to restore civility and bipartisanship in Washington, D.C. And Democrats promise to work together in a bipartisan way for all Americans.

The American people voted to restore integrity and honesty in Washington, D.C., and the Democrats intend to lead the most honest, most open and most ethical Congress in history.

The American people voted for a new direction, for a fairer economy, and Democrats intend to work for an economy where all Americans participate in the prosperity of our great country.

And nowhere did the American people make it more clear that we need a new direction than in the war in Iraq. "Stay the course" has not made our country safer, has not honored our commitment to our troops and has not made the region more stable. We cannot continue down this catastrophic path.

And so we say to the president, "Mr. President, we need a new direction in Iraq. Let us work together to find a solution to the war in Iraq."

The campaign is over. Democrats are ready to lead. We are prepared to govern, and we will do so working together with the administration and the Republicans in Congress in partnership, not in partisanship.

As Senator Reid said, today all across the country, in the North and the South and the East and the West, in my city of San Francisco to -- from sea to shining sea, the American people voted for change. They want us to do things differently.

And we, the Democrats, respect and value their faith and their values that they adhere to in their families and in their communities. And we intend, working together, to build a future worth of those values, worthy of the aspirations of our children and worthy of the sacrifices of our men and women in uniform.

Today, we have made history. Now let us make progress. Thank you all very much.


SANCHEZ: Here's what's interesting about Nancy Pelosi. Doting grandmother, Catholic, apparently goes to church religiously. Pardon the pun. And yet, really demonized by many in the Republican Party.

WHITFIELD: She has been told -- she has been deemed as being polarizing.

SANCHEZ: Polarizing for what reason, because she's a liberal from San Francisco?

WHITFIELD: I really wouldn't be the one to say.

SANCHEZ: Amy, let me bring you -- let me bring you into this, because you're one of the -- I think what I'm trying to get out here...

WHITFIELD: I think those who may be demonizing may be able to better define why.

SANCHEZ: Here's what they say. They say, "Oh, sure, go ahead and vote for a Democrat. You'll get Nancy Pelosi as your speaker. That's been the argument.

As a woman, is she now in an advantageous position, because she can play the expectation game against the Republicans? And could she make this backfire on them?

WALTER: Well, you know, I've been arguing for some time, actually, that -- just that about the expectation game. And I don't know if it has to do with being a woman. I think it's that, look, so much of the media for the next couple weeks will talk about, "Can Democrats really do this?"

They won an election, really, because Republicans lost it. And now they have to take a pretty diverse, fractious caucus, bring them all together. They've been on the same page now throughout the campaign, but you've got to bring them together now in a majority. You know, now they're the governing party. Get some stuff done.

If I'm the Democrat, I want that bar set pretty low, because then it's a lot easier, obviously, to exceed a low bar and to say -- if I were Pelosi, I'd go in my first meeting and say, "Everybody out there thinks we can't to this. The media says we can't do it. The Republicans say we can't do it. People keep writing that we're not -- we don't have a method. We don't have an agenda. We don't know who we are."

I think that gives her a significant opportunity to exceed those expectations. But as we've been saying throughout the night, those expectations are there.

WHITFIELD: Well, didn't we just hear her kind of set the tone of this new direction? She talked about wanting to work with this administration and trying to create a fair economy, in her words, so that all participating can enjoy prosperity.

WALTER: Well, yes. You know, here's part of the problem. We've been watching this for years, this back and forth. You guys obviously watched this campaign, which is certainly one of the most negative that we've seen in their lifetime. I don't know if anybody's seen a campaign quite as brutal as this one.

So now you're asking people to kind of shake hands, say, "Well, that was on the field, and let's get -- let's get off and -- that tract and start working together." I think that's going to be very difficult. There's still a lot of bruised feelings or still a lot of Democrats who feel like they were bullied by Republicans, both from the White House and also from the folks who ran the Senate.

So it's not going to be that easy. And I think that Pelosi's first job is to get those Democrats together and say, "You're going to have to bury the hatchet, because if we look like we're just simply going out and trying to do some vigilante justice, that's not going to work."

MERCURIO: So also -- I think you have to also remember that, you know, it's November 8 right now.

WALTER: Right.

MERCURIO: It's Wednesday, November 8. It's one day after the midterms. But it's also the first day of the 2008 presidential campaign. We have another national election just two years away, and I think it's going to be a big part of any Republican strategy to, as you've been saying, demonize Nancy Pelosi.

So whether or not she's trying to set this bipartisan tone, this collaborative tone, I'm not -- I think the Republicans are going to be getting out there pretty aggressively, just like Democrats did in 1995 with Newt Gingrich.

WHITFIELD: Well, let me just ask you, talking about setting the tone, then, we're going to be hearing from the president later on today in the 1 p.m. hour Eastern Time. What are your expectations about what we're going to hear from the president in terms of a response to this "we've got to work together," now that Congress looks quite different?

MERCURIO: I think in talking to people tonight in the White House and talking to other Republicans, there's a very, very contrite tone that's being worked on for what the president will be talking about tomorrow. Not contrite in the sense that he thinks he did anything wrong, that his administration is off course. Of course, you're not going to hear that from President Bush.

What you're going to hear is an olive branch being extended to the Democratic leadership in the House and potentially in the Senate and a willingness and expression of willingness to collaborate and work -- work across -- across the...

SANCHEZ: So what does he say? I mean, "I know in the last six years, I've treated all of you like unwanted stepchildren, but beginning now, I'm going to include you in all of my affairs." I mean, really -- I mean, am I over the mark here or not?

MERCURIO: He's going to say -- he's not going to refer specifically to any members of the Democratic leadership. He's going to talk about the fact that the American people have spoken and that he has heard the will of the people -- you know, there's not going to be anything specific as far as policy concerns. Certainly, no concession on -- on his policy in Iraq.

SANCHEZ: But you know what I'm getting at, though, John. I'm getting to the issue of cooperation, because the -- what I just said was obviously paraphrasing Democrats' words. Democrats will tell you, to a man and to a woman, that they have felt over the last six years, "Nobody's talking to us. We're not -- we're the invisible elephant in the room."

MERCURIO: Well, that goes to what Amy was just saying. I mean, look, I mean, we've come out of a very negative campaign. But we've also come out of a very negative partisan environment over the past six years in Washington. I mean, this is a president who came to Washington, promising to be the uniter and has turned out to be much more of a divider. Democrats having played their role in that, as well.

So I'm frankly not that optimistic that what we're going to see over the next -- the next few years is going to -- is going to be any sort of, you know, effort to really breach that gap.

SANCHEZ: But the real question is here who's going to stick to their base? The Republicans, under this administration, and George Bush in particular, has really stuck to his base. Will this new conflagration cause him -- I don't know why I used that word, but this new situation we have in Washington cause him to move away from his base, Amy?

WALTER: Well, remember -- and John pointed this out, too. Remember, it's not just the president now. Obviously, he has two years left in his presidency, wants to start laying the foundation for his legacy, et cetera.

But there are a lot of Republicans right now who are looking to run for president in 2008. Those are the folks that may be more willing to reach out. Those are the folks that are more willing to look beyond just the next year or so into the next election. So I think that's where you're going to see some interesting dynamics.

And look, obviously, what this election really brought home, and voters made this pretty clear, is this idea that they don't like what they're seeing in the status quo, the way things are going back and forth. Listen, if it were Democrats that were in charge of this environment, we just sort of switched the parties. Put scandals, put an unpopular war, put an unpopular president, Democrats would have lost seats.

So this is not voters saying, "Boy, we really are yahoo for the Democrats." What they're saying is, "We really don't like the direction things are going. You guys, it's your job then, to change it."

SANCHEZ: Right. Interesting.

WHITFIELD: Amy and John, thanks so much. We know you'll stick around. And we're going to take a short break right now. When we come back, we will be talking about one of the state senate races that really could help determine the balance of power.

SANCHEZ: And the conciliatory tone ahead.


SANCHEZ: According to our experts.


SANCHEZ: OK. We've got the Senate balance of power and that is where we are going to begin, because that is where the nation wants to know, who controls the Senate of the U.S.A.?

WHITFIELD: That's right.

SANCHEZ: And it is, no answer because we don't have one and neither does anybody else. Right now it's tied at 49-49. However ...

WHITFIELD: And that's only because there are two outstanding races.

SANCHEZ: Take it away, Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. Montana being one of them. And the incumbent, three term incumbent, 71-years-old. Been popular for so long.

SANCHEZ: Ah, but tied to Jack Abramoff.

WHITFIELD: That's right. And that may, indeed, be part of the problem. But still, you know, the numbers are not final. Only 84 percent of the precincts in.

Let's move on to Virginia and there ...

SANCHEZ: By the way, we should mention that in Montana it's not going to be called -- we were wondering tonight whether there's a possibility that that race can be called. It's not going to be called. At least not by this network.


SANCHEZ: It will be considered after 7:00 a.m., which is like, what, three or four hours from now. And that's because some votes are still being counted there.


So Virginia is another one of those races where it's not officially, really, being called because it is so close, even though James Webb is, you know, giving himself a big pat on the back, as well as to his camp because he's feeling pretty confident that he's going to take that state and that Senate seat.

SANCHEZ: And it makes sense. And here's why. Think back, if you can now, to the 2000 election. Obviously we all can remember that.


SANCHEZ: What was the huge advantage that President Bush had on Al Gore. It was the fact that when the counting was over, Bush was actually declared the winner in Florida. So then it was Gore who had to come in and say, well, you know what, I'm going to challenge you. I'm going to ask for a recount. The negative -- the psychological effect of the person who's asking for the recount obviously gets tagged with the "sore loser" and a lot of other things that come with that.

So it's a difficult position for the person who comes in second place. At this point it's the Democrat Webb, who's in first place. By the way, we talked to our own legal analyst. Our own legal eagle, Jeffrey Toobin, about this not long ago.

WHITFIELD: Because it is complicated.

SANCHEZ: He took us through it.

WHITFIELD: And he helped us considerably.

SANCHEZ: Here it is.


JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SR. LEGAL ANALYST: When we started talking about recounts, the margin between the candidates was something like 1,500 votes. The margin is now 11,000 votes.


TOOBIN: And that is an enormous number to be made up in a recount. I've wrote a book about the recount in 2000. I'm very familiar with recount law and we'll get to the details in a second. But just in the big picture, I have never heard of anything close to 11,000 votes changing hands. So I think the difference between 1,500, which it was an hour ago, and 11,000 now is profound.

SANCHEZ: Well, we were sitting around in the NEWSROOM just a little while ago trying to do the numbers on this and, listen, none of us here are mathematicians, that's why we go into this business. You probably can help us here. But I understand it has to be 1 percent or less.

TOOBIN: Correct. OK.

SANCHEZ: One percent or less is what, 25,000 votes or something?

TOOBIN: OK. Everybody got to get out their calculator now.

SANCHEZ: All right.

TOOBIN: All right. Here we go. The law in Virginia is, if the margin is less than 1 percent, the losing candidate gets to request a recount. So we're talking here about let's say 2.4 million votes. So that's 24,000. If the margin is under 24,000, the loser gets to request a recount.

SANCHEZ: And you said it's at 11,000.

TOOBIN: The margin, as we see on the screen now, the margin is at 11,000. So clearly it seems to me, unless there are dramatic changes that we don't expect, it will be under the 1 percent threshold. But let me give you a little bit of recent history.

In last year's attorney general race, state attorney general race in Virginia, the exact same state, almost the same number of votes, somewhat lower turnout, the Republican was ahead after election night by 323 votes. So, I mean, a much, much smaller margin.


TOOBIN: There was a recount and, let me add parenthetically, it took until December 22nd to resolve it.


WHITFIELD: And that's going to be the concern with this too. It will be like January, maybe, before it's resolved.

TOOBIN: Right. OK. But it took it till December 22nd. After all those weeks, the Republican who was ahead by 323 votes wound up winning by 360 votes. So only 37 votes changed. And, in fact, the person who was ahead gained 37 votes. So think about those two numbers, 37 votes versus a margin of 11,000.


TOOBIN: It just doesn't seem like a recount could possibly capture that ...


SANCHEZ: Well, I think it's difficult if you're the one who has to ask for the recount because you get dubbed with that old "sore loser" thing which may hurt you later. It's a psychological thing as well, isn't it?

TOOBIN: It's a big hurdle.

WHITFIELD: But then if you don't exercise that, you know, you're going to be kicking yourself as the losing candidate with such a tiny margin that, you know, why didn't I check it out.

TOOBIN: Well, it depends. You know, I mean, let's talk about tiny margins. In Florida in 2000 there were 6 million votes cast. Not the 2.4 million here. We're talking about 6 million. And the margin turned out to be 537 votes. That's a small margin. Eleven thousand, I mean, it's a close race, but it's not that close.

Now one thing we don't know is that tomorrow the provisional ballots will be counted. Now provisional ballots are ballots where someone who was somehow not allowed to vote today, their names weren't on the registration list, for whatever reason, they were not allowed to vote so they said, OK, let's file a provisional ballot in case I'm registered. We don't know how many of those are out there but ...

WHITFIELD: Oh, that number would be small, wouldn't it?

TOOBIN: It's going to be very small.


TOOBIN: It's going to be very small. So I think if the number going into tomorrow is 11,000 or anything close to it, yes, theoretically, there could be a recount, but the chances of it succeeding are very, very small.

SANCHEZ: And there's one little hanging chad out there. And you know this because ...

TOOBIN: Hey, that vocabulary is coming back. It's a beautiful thing.

SANCHEZ: You know I'm from Florida.

Did you hear or see or check out anything today that would lead you to believe that there was anything bizarre strange or questionable in the voting process in Virginia today that would lead them to want to do a recount?



TOOBIN: No. I mean, you know, I'm not saying that - I mean here I was. I was in New York sitting by our computer screens all day, so I wasn't in Virginia. Because until two hours ago we didn't know this was going to be the ultimate -- you know, the race that determined all the Senate.

But as far as I can tell, and we've had people out all day, we've been getting reports from partisans on both sides claiming one thing or another. But as far as we can tell now, and this is no guarantee of what will ultimately be shown, but as far as we can tell now, there is not some major irregularity.


WHITFIELD: All right. So Montana, Virginia still undecided. That's why we had that legal segment. Here are the upsets decided.

SANCHEZ: Pennsylvania, Rick Santorum. Some said he'd be running for president. We knew he was huge in the Republican party. Number three by all counts. Ends up losing his seat in Pennsylvania, as expected, by the way, to Bob Casey, a big name in the state. He takes out Rick Santorum.

WHITFIELD: We got to hear from both of them.


BOB CASEY JR. (D), PENNSYLVANIA SENATOR-ELECT: We cannot do that with one party. We cannot do that in just one country. We've got to fight terrorist all over the world. And to do that, we've got to bring the American people together to fight that battle. Democrats, Republicans and independents.

SEN. RICK SANTORUM, (R) PENNSYLVANIA: Just a few minutes ago I called the new senator-elect from Pennsylvania, Bob Casey, and wished him my -- all of ours, our very best to him in his new role, pledged to him any support that we can give to make sure that the people of Pennsylvania continue to be served in a seamless way over the next couple of months. I congratulate him and I mean that wholeheartedly. I congratulated him. He ran an excellent campaign and I know he'll be -- he is a fine man and he'll do a fine job for Pennsylvania.


WHITFIELD: It's tough to lose, even for the family.


WHITFIELD: The kids are really broken up about that.

SANCHEZ: A good looking family, too, isn't it. A gracious Rick Santorum in defeat. Let's go to Ohio. Here Sherrod Brown, 56 percent of the vote. Mike DeWine loses. Some expected this. This was huge. Obviously there's a very strong anti-Republican sentiment in Ohio for many reasons. Probably to many to list here. WHITFIELD: And it turns out anti-Republican sentiment in Rhode Island too, because this really was a surprise with Lincoln Chafee going down like this, to the man who had a very interesting and very clever slogan.

SANCHEZ: What's that?

WHITFIELD: A Whitehouse you can trust in Washington. Or I think there was a word finally in there. A Whitehouse you can finally trust in Washington.

SANCHEZ: Because of his name.

WHITFIELD: And he won on it, in part.

SANCHEZ: Exactly.

Another legendary name in the northeast, and this is Tom Kean, Jr. Not to be confused with his father, Tom Kean, who was a member of the commission, of course, the 9/11 Commission. Many thought he'd do very well because Menendez had very serious problems, according to Bob Menendez, of course. But, look, Menendez wins it. Obviously riding on the coattails of what's been going on in recent months and the problems that the Republicans have had. So those are four big wins and now this one.

WHITFIELD: Yes, Tennessee. This race exemplified how dirty, mean and nasty it can get. And the Republican, Bob Corker, wins handily over Harold Ford Jr.

SANCHEZ: Let's listen to the candidates now.


BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: There was a strong headwind working against us. But in the end, the choice belonged to the good people of Tennessee. They ignored the distractions and distortions and, instead, focused on the different qualifications of two men and they made up their own minds.

REP. HAROLD FORD JR. (D), TENNESSEE CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: When politics works people live better lives and safer lives. When America is strong and great, the world is a better and safer place.

I only hope that all of my friends and colleagues, and those who will be my former colleagues, at least for a while in the Congress and the Senate, I only hope that they realize that what people want more than anything and what I heard and I know candidates all around the country heard over the last year and a half or two years as they were campaigning, they heard a hunger and they sensed the great appetite on the part of the American people for something much better and far more dignified and greater than what we've given them over the last several years.

(END VIDEO CLIP) WHITFIELD: I've heard people say his political future is far from over. I mean, he's been in politics since he was in his mid 20s. It's pretty remarkable.

SANCHEZ: He's only 37.

WHITFIELD: Yes, pretty remarkable. But I said, you know, Corker won handily. I guess it wasn't handily, because that was a very tight race. But the bottom line was, Bob Corker pulled it out there.

SANCHEZ: There was one campaign ad, and that's why we're showing you this graph here. Consider what we're saying now. The one campaign ad that probably superseded all others in this election, although there were others that came close, it was one where they had a white female who looked in the ad as if she had no clothes on, almost inviting candidate Harold Ford to come to her. The obvious implication, or what they were trying to imply in this case was that Harold Ford was a bit of a player because he'd attended a party at the Playboy mansion, for example.

WHITFIELD: I think everybody remembers the ad. It got a lot of air time.

SANCHEZ: It was a strong ad. We're not showing it to you know, but those are the numbers as they break down when people in Tennessee, Tennesseans were asked, well, who had the dirtiest campaign? Who had the worst ads? And, obviously, it broke down both ways, interestingly enough.

WHITFIELD: Yes, folks didn't like it, but it certainly influenced the outcome of this election and possibly a number of others as well.

SANCHEZ: When we come back, how about Hillary Clinton? That's right, it's her re-election and was it really a prelude to something that many people are saying is coming in the future for someone who may be a presidential aspirant as well. We'll be back.


SANCHEZ: By some estimates she collected over $40 million in campaign contributions.

WHITFIELD: We're talking about Hillary Clinton.

SANCHEZ: That's a lot of money.

WHITFIELD: It is a lot of money. And a lot of folks have already said and predicted, you know, come Tuesday night, the race for 2008 begins.

SANCHEZ: Yes, and that war chest is going to be used more ...

WHITFIELD: And we're not necessarily saying that she's in it, but ... SANCHEZ: And the war chest will be used probably more as a presidential pit than it will -- well, she didn't need it in this case. Let's put up the board of Hillary Clinton and you'll see what we're talking about in the numbers. This is basically a slaughter. Sixty-seven percent to 31 percent.

Nobody expected that she'd have any competition. Some might even be surprised that Spencer had that much. But, you know, we're obviously talking about an awful lot of money that she has been able to collect and how much of it did she share or will she share with the Democratic Party. Questions that still need to be asked.

Let's go and now I think we have her on tape, don't we?

WHITFIELD: We do. Let's listen.


SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: We have voted for a continuing effort against terrorism but for a new course in Iraq. A new course that brings us together, Democrats, Republicans, independents. Not one that tears us apart. And what I hope is that message will be heard loudly and clearly because New Yorkers and Americans want an end to the culture of corruption and the dominance of special interest and a new beginning for our beloved country.


SANCHEZ: She's in New York. Just underneath New York is the state of New Jersey. That is where Bob Menendez surprised some people today with a big comeback. But he's not the only one that Larry King talked to tonight.

WHITFIELD: Another, what some say to be, a presidential hopeful, Barack Obama. Let's listen in.


LARRY KING, CNN ANCHOR: The biggest disappointment, the possibility of Ford's defeat in Tennessee?

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), ILLINOIS: Well, on the Senate side, that would be a disappointment because Harold Ford is as good a candidate as I've seen. And I've traveled a lot this year on behalf of candidates. He's extraordinarily talented. And I think that if he does not win tonight, and it's still to close to call and we're still hopeful that some late breaking returns pull him up. But if he doesn't, I guarantee you, he will be back because he is an extraordinary talent and a really fine young man.

KING: What does this mean, Senator, the Democrats control the House and let's say the Senate's very close or even or whatever, what change occurs in America?

OBAMA: Well, I think that a lot is going to rest on how the president approaches the results of the election tonight. He's going to be there for two more years. And the question is, does he want a legacy of accomplishment or does he want gridlock and more of the same in Iraq.

If he chooses the former, then I think there's an opportunity for Democrats to join with Republicans and the administration to say, let's figure out how to control health care costs and make sure that it's more accessible to more people. Let's come up with a bold energy plan that could really put us on the pathway to energy independence.

Let's sit down with the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Jim Baker and Lee Hamilton's commission to figure out how do we stabilize Iraq, make the Iraqi government take more responsibility for coming up with a political accommodation so we can start fazing down our troops.

There's opportunities to do good work, but the president's going to have to, I think, change from the highly ideological partisan approach that he's taken during the first six years of his term when basically Republicans controlled the entire ball game here in Washington.

KING: A couple of other things. How does the election tonight affect your decision, which you tell us will come in January, about seeing the presidency?

OBAMA: Well, it confirms in my mind that the American people are eager to move in a new direction. And it confirms that they want a politics that is unifying, as opposed to decisive (ph), and that they're tired of slash and burn politics. But it's important for me to take some time to think about, you know, how I can be most useful in the future.

You know, this will probably be the first week in at least a month where I'm not having to take off my shoes in security -- airport security lines and I'll have a chance to talk to my wife and I'll have a chance to reflect on what I've already accomplished and what I would like to see happen, both in the Democratic Party and in the country. And so it's going to be, I think, some time before I actually come up with a final conclusion.

KING: But nothing that happened tonight would discourage you?

OBAMA: Nothing that happened tonight would discourage me from making that race. But it's something that I've got to spend some serious time thinking about.

KING: Thanks very much, Senator Obama.

OBAMA: Always great to talk to you, Larry.

KING: Senator Barack Obama, let's meet one of your confreres. He is a victor tonight. Senator Robert Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey. He joins us in East Brunswick.

Congratulations, Senator Menendez.

SEN. ROBERT MENENDEZ (D), NEW JERSEY: Thank you, Larry. KING: Were you surprised at all at the size of the victory?

MENENDEZ: I've been saying for a while that the polls were all having us moving in the right direction and I'm glad to see that the people of New Jersey today voted for the politics of change and hope and opportunity and rejected the politics of smear and fear. And that was a great success tonight.

KING: What part did Iraq play in your election?

MENENDEZ: A very big part, I think, Larry. I didn't vote for the war four years ago. I didn't believe it was in the national security interest of the United States and, therefore, took a principle position against it four years ago and have been an advocate of transitioning out of Iraq.

And I think that New Jerseyans came to understand that 2,800 American lives later, $380 billion, $8 billion each and every month that we continue in Iraq without changing the course, that it was time to send the president a clear message that the American people want to move in a different direction. And I think certainly New Jersey did that tonight. It was a big part of what I stood for, what I believe in, what I communicated to the voters in New Jersey.

KING: And have you spoken to your opponent?

MENENDEZ: I did very briefly before I came out to give our speech. And I wished him well. And him and his family well. And look forward to being able to serve now in the United States Senate for the next six years.


SANCHEZ: Let's do this. Let's take a look one more time at where things stand right now. It's been a big night for Democrats. But the mention of their victory, really still unclear at some levels. CNN is projecting the Democrats have regained control of the House. There seems to be no doubt about that.

Not only have they gained it, they've gained it really in large measures through holding the majority of the nation's governorships as well. The Democrats also have made some gains in the Senate, but control of that chamber hangs on two races that really remain to close to call at this point.

WHITFIELD: The states of Virginia and Montana are the holdout so far. The center of the political world right now at this hour and into the wee hours of the morning. The Senate races in those two states are still to close to call and the results will determine who controls the Senate in the next session of Congress. Democrats need to win both seats to take over control. Republicans need to win only one of those seats to remain in charge.

SANCHEZ: Even though the Senate is still up for grabs, the projections show Democrats have taken control of the house for the first time in 12 years. And there is the woman at the center of the action right now. CNN projects Democrats are picking up at least 24 seats in the House, more than enough to claim the majority and that means she, she being Nancy Pelosi, will replace Republican Dennis Hastert as the new speaker of the House. She'll be the first woman, by the way, to serve in that post.

WHITFIELD: And we'll get the president's take on the election results at a news conference scheduled for this afternoon. That's right, we're already into Wednesday now. At 1:00 Eastern, CNN will be carrying that live.

SANCHEZ: Who would have thunk it that it would turn out like this. Most people said, no way they'll win both. It looks like it could happen, folks.

I'm Rick Sanchez.

WHITFIELD: And I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

CNN's election coverage rolls on. Up next, AMERICAN MORNING breaks down the races and the results. Join Miles O'Brien and Soledad O'Brien beginning this morning just minutes from now.



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