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Live Coverage of the Michigan Primary

Aired January 15, 2008 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: We're at Election Central in New York, covering it from tip to toe. We've got an outstanding group of panelists and analysts and pundits.
First, we, of course, go to Wolf Blitzer, our man on the scene, for the latest in the results from the Michigan primary -- Wolf.

WOLF BLITZER, HOST, "THE SITUATION ROOM": Thanks very much, Larry.

Let's take a look and see what we know right now.

These are votes that have actually come in. Nine percent of the precincts in the State of Michigan have now reported. All of the polls -- all of the precincts have now closed in Michigan.

Right now, Mitt Romney is ahead with 37 percent to John McCain's 31 percent. Mike Huckabee, he's at 16 percent. We're waiting to hear from him. We expect -- he's already in South Carolina. We expect to be hearing from him shortly. Ron Paul at 7 percent.

If you take a look at the real numbers, the hard numbers that have come in, with almost 10 percent of the precincts reporting in Michigan, right now you can see those numbers. But before we go on with those numbers, CNN is ready to make a projection right now.

CNN can now project that Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, will win the Michigan primary. This was so critical for Mitt Romney. He was born in this state. His father was a governor of this state. He came in second in Iowa. He came in second in New Hampshire.

Mitt Romney will win -- will win the Michigan primary. You're looking at pictures from Romney headquarters right now, outside of Detroit. Mitt Romney -- a major win for him in Michigan tonight. We can project this win now that all the polls are closed, based on the actual votes that have come in -- almost 10 percent; also based on the exit polls that we and a consortium of news organizations did throughout the day.

A hugely important win for Mitt Romney now that Huckabee won Iowa, now that John McCain won New Hampshire. And Mitt Romney wins Michigan.

This race for the Republican presidential nomination is wide open. And the focus will quickly, quickly shift, Larry, to South Carolina, where the Republican primary takes place on Saturday. L. KING: You bet. A historic night -- three primaries, three different winners on the Republican side.

This is the first of two editions of LARRY KING LIVE. We'll be with you until 10:00 Eastern and then come back again at midnight.

Let's get immediate reaction from Romney headquarters and Dana Bash -- Dana.

DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Larry, as you can imagine, there is tremendous excitement here at Romney headquarters. Mitt Romney is the only candidate that decided to stay in Michigan. And that shows, in and of itself, shows you how critical this win was to Mitt Romney. As you and all of our viewers remember, he came in not first, but second in the first caucus state of Iowa; second in the second important state, the primary of New Hampshire.

So this is a place where he need to win for a number of reasons. First of all, to get any kind of momentum in order to remain a viable Republican candidate, but also because of the importance of the State of Michigan to Mitt Romney. It is his home state. He was born and raised here and he reminded voters of that time and time again, as he was barnstorming the state for the past four days or so.

And, you know, it is a place, Larry, where he really seems to find -- finally find a message that appeared to work for him -- something that -- he really made the case that he is somebody who is outside of Washington. And he said Washington is broken, particularly when it comes to the number one issue here in Michigan -- and that is the economy. He played himself as businessman who understands how to fix the economy.

Now, his advisers say that this is something that obviously worked for him here in Michigan. It is something that might be unique because Michigan is in such dire straits economically. But they're going to try to pass this kind of message and move on to the next contest state, South Carolina. And for Mitt Romney, he's actually going to focus on the State of Nevada, which also has a contest on Saturday.

This has -- this gives Mitt Romney, Larry, a new lease on life -- a lease on life that he didn't have before. Unlike the other candidates, he's a very rich man. He has hundreds of millions of dollars. So he can, if he has to, write himself a check if he wants to. And the fact that he has done well -- he has had his first big win here, perhaps as a businessman, he might see himself as a good investment from here on out -- Larry.

L. KING: Thanks, Dana.

Let's go over to Bill Schneider, our CNN senior political analyst, who has been tracking the GOP votes all day.

Even though we've only got 10 percent in, we are projecting Mr. Romney.

Are you surprised, Bill?


Well, in our exit poll, Larry, we're showing that the Republican vote went to Mitt Romney. That's the key to his victory in this primary.

Why should that be a surprise -- it's a Republican primary. But only two-thirds of the people who voted in the Republican primary call themselves Republicans. And they voted almost two to one for Romney over John McCain. You can see it over there -- Romney 40 percent -- well, not quite two to one. McCain, 26 percent. Romney dominated the Republican vote.

What about all the Independents?

That's how McCain won Michigan for eight years ago, when he did very well there.

Well, the Independents, once again, voted for John McCain -- but there weren't enough of them. This time, you see the McCain 36, Romney 26. But this time Independents and Democrats who voted in the Republican primary were only one third of the vote, whereas eight years ago, they were a majority of the voters. They just didn't turn out this time in the same large numbers.

And probably one of the most devastating problems that John McCain had was among conservatives -- the base of the Republican Party. This is where Romney dominated McCain by nearly 2-1. Romney, as you can see, 40 percent, McCain 22 percent. This is the Republican Party base.

The indication is they still don't trust John McCain. He's disagreed with them on too many issues. He lost the base of the Republican Party. Romney is the conservative favorite. That's how he won.

L. KING: Gloria Borger, our political analyst and also a contributor for major magazines, as well.

Good to have you aboard.


L. KING: Are you surprised?

BORGER: I'm not surprised in the sense that Mitt Romney had seemed to be gaining in recent days. Mitt Romney ran a campaign as the CEO. He ran a campaign as the native son in Michigan. His father was a former governor. And he spoke to people on the economic issues for the first time.

John McCain, Larry, came out and said these jobs you're losing, these manufacturing jobs you're losing are not going to come back and I'm going to retrain you. And Mitt Romney said, these jobs -- we're going to find a way to make sure you don't lose them. And that became the central economic argument here. And I think that the voters -- those Republican stalwart voters really bought Mitt Romney's argument over John McCain.

L. KING: By the way, results are changing minute by minute and county by county. You can track them yourself and stay up to the second on You can do that throughout the night.

We're going to go to break and come back.

We'll be checking in with John King. More of Bill Schneider. Wolf Blitzer with immediate updates. More of Gloria and lots of other analysts, too.

Don't go away.


L. KING: He's at a special map. He's CNN's national correspondent. He's John King -- John, what can you tell us?

JOHN KING, CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Larry, we want to show -- as the results come in, we can show you why Romney tonight and not McCain -- and in a state that McCain won back in 2000.

Now, we're going to show you -- first, this is the map of the State of Michigan. All of the white is areas where we have not had results in yet. When you see the dark red is Mitt Romney, the lighter red is John McCain.

Now you see here, this shows you -- this should tell us straightaway we have 12 percent of the precincts in so far. Romney holding -- and he's been holding this, about a 6 point lead over Senator McCain.

This is where most -- stretch out the map a little bit here. Turn off the telestrator.

This is where most of the people in Michigan live -- right in this area here. You're going to get most of the votes here and then in the Grand Rapids area here. Look at these -- Romney, Romney winning in Oakland County, where he campaigned heavily, where he lived for some time, a Republican County. He's winning it.

Next, Macomb County -- home of the Reagan Democrats. He's winning it.

Wayne County down in Detroit. Romney is winning it.

Now, why is that important?

Let's shrink that back down a little bit. Watch these counties. This is 2008, the results tonight.

Let's go back in time to 2000 and the Republican primary.

L. KING: John, let me interrupt you.

Mike Huckabee is speaking at Huckabee headquarters.

Let's catch him and then get back to John.

MIKE HUCKABEE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I congratulate Mitt Romney. He won a great race. He worked hard. He, of course, has a great base there. But our hats are off to him for his victory there tonight.

So it looks like that I won Iowa. John McCain won New Hampshire. Mitt Romney won Michigan.

And ladies and gentlemen, we're going to win South Carolina.


HUCKABEE: We put a flag in the ground here Saturday. We're going to make it real clear that the first in the South primary is going to give their support to the first in the South candidate who understands that this nation needs leadership and leadership that comes right from the earth and right from the heart of the people.

Months ago, when none of the other Republicans were talking about the economy, when they all said it was doing great, I said, you'd better keep your eye on it, because if you'd just not spend your time talking to people, but if you spend some time listening to people, you're going to find out that there's a world of hurt out there in America.

Now all of them are realizing that what I said months ago is true. And we need the kind of leadership that not only sees it first, but does something about it first. And that's what I pledge to the people of America.


HUCKABEE: Give me a chance to lead and we will lead this country. And we'll change the tax system. And we'll also make it so that your government doesn't work against you in your job, but helps work for you, because good government ought to facilitate the free enterprise system. It ought not to complicate the free enterprise system.


HUCKABEE: That's why we need lower, not higher, taxes. It's why we need a government that understands that mothers and fathers raise better kids than governments do. Get the government off mom and dad's back and let them raise their families.

It's why it's also true that over the past few months, people who said who is this Huckabee guy, where's he coming from?

I'll tell you where I'm coming from, I'm coming from you.

(APPLAUSE) HUCKABEE: And a lot of people around this country are realizing that it's time that the presidency and that the government is not headquartered so much in Washington, D.C. , as it's headquartered in the small towns across this country, where people do the work and put food on the table for their families and get their kids to school. And they basically just want a government that is as small as it can be, but where government has to be does two things. One, protects our borders, protects our security and makes it so we're safe in this nation. And the second thing, leaves us alone so that we can live our lives and live in this free enterprise system and give small business a chance to survive and even thrive. That's what America is really looking for and that's what they're going to get when we get elected.


L. KING: You can continue watching the rest of Mr. Huckabee's speech by just clicking into on the Ticker and check it out.

Now, we interrupted John King.

We don't like to do that.

Let's go back to John.

J. KING: And, Larry, as we listened to Governor Huckabee there in South Carolina, worth noting that the winner of the South Carolina primary on the Republican side since 1980 has ended up being the Republican nominee. So we'll watch if history repeats itself in South Carolina.

But before Governor Huckabee started speaking, we were trying to show the difference between then and now. This is 2000, when John McCain -- as you can see right here -- beat George Bush in the Michigan Republican primary, and beat him quite handily.

Here is what happened. If you look, this is McCain -- the lighter red. The dark red is Bush. But McCain won most of the state. This, again, is 2000. He drew to a draw here in Oakland County, but he beat him in the Detroit area -- Wayne County. He beat him here in Macomb County, known also as the home of the Reagan Democrats.

This is then. Now let's fast forward and look at now. And the darker this time is Mitt Romney, who is posting some big numbers so far, winning in Wayne County, where McCain won last time; winning in Macomb County, where McCain won eight years ago; and winning in Oakland County, where George W. Bush and John McCain tied eight years ago.

So as the results come in -- we'll bring the map back down and you'll see it -- McCain is doing well out here. But Mitt Romney posting -- most of the people live here. These are -- four of the five most populous counties in the State of Michigan are right there. They are deep red for Mitt Romney tonight. We're still in the county map here. Let's get all of our results by coming out of the telestrator and coming back here, bring the state back out. And here's the latest results now, with 14 percent in. Again, Governor Romney holding that 6 point -- 37 to 31 percent. That lead has been holding up, Larry, as the results come in. It's still early, but based on those results and the exit polls, of course, we can project that Governor Romney will get that win tonight, Larry.

BLITZER: Thanks, John.

John King will be with us not only in this segment of LARRY KING LIVE, but in the second one, as well, at midnight.

Let's go out to Scottsdale, Arizona and our old friend, Ari Fleischer, the former press secretary, who was the senior communications director for the Bush-Cheney campaign.

We may have to interrupt Ari in case John McCain speaks.

Ari, what do you make of this so far?

J. KING: Well, isn't this unbelievable, Larry?

You've got a candidate, you've got a victory, you've got a state. You know, it's three for three now and we're heading into round four.

But what's remarkable to me about what happened in Michigan -- which is a real problem for John McCain -- John McCain is now being haunted by ghosts of John McCain past. He can't win among Republicans and that's a killer in a Republican primary.

The biggest difference between McCain 2000 and McCain 2008 in Michigan, in 2000, only 48 of the voters were Republican in the Republican primary. Fifty-two percent were Democrats or Independents.

It's an infection -- an infection rate of other parties that are able to participate in a Republican primary.

This year, though, some 68 percent of the voters in the Michigan primary were Republicans. And that's why John McCain lost. His strength is Independents. His strength is Democrats. They don't vote in high numbers in South Carolina, which is next. That's the ghost of elections past that's haunting John McCain.

L. KING: All right, John McCain, Senator McCain of Arizona is coming out to speak to his fans and constituents. His lovely wife with him. He's all projected -- he's projecting -- we're projecting him losing tonight in Michigan.

Here's Senator McCain. He won in New Hampshire, he lost in Iowa. He will now, according to our projections, lose in Michigan.

Here's John.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you all. Thank you all thank you all, my friends.

For a minute there in New Hampshire, I thought this campaign might be getting easier.


MCCAIN: But you know what?

We've gotten pretty good at doing things the hard way, too. And I think we've shown them we don't mind a fight. We don't mind a fight and we're in it.


MCCAIN: Today, the people of Michigan have spoken. I respect their decision and I commend them for shouldering the responsibilities as citizens of the greatest nation on earth. And I'm very grateful for the courtesy and consideration you gave our campaign, for braving the cold and the snow to listen to me and give me the opportunity to listen to you.

L. KING: ...and go to Mitt Romney. After all, he won this election tonight. So let's hear from the winner and then we -- you'll continue to -- we'll continue to tape McCain and bring highlights to you as we can.

Here's Mitt Romney.



ROMNEY: Tonight marks the beginning of a comeback -- a comeback for America.


ROMNEY: You know, only -- only a week ago, a win looked like it was impossible, but then you got out and told America what they needed to hear.


ROMNEY: You said we would fight for every job. You said that we'd fight to get health care for all Americans. You said we'd fight to secure our borders. You said you'd fight for us to be able to get lower taxes for middle income Americans.

And Michigan heard and Michigan voted tonight.


ROMNEY: Congratulations.


ROMNEY: Tonight -- tonight -- tonight proves that you can't tell an American that there's something they just can't do, because Americans can do whatever they set their hearts on. (APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: And tonight -- tonight is a victory of optimism over Washington-style pessimism.


ROMNEY: Now -- now tonight we are -- we are celebrating here in Michigan, I've got to tell you that.


ROMNEY: But guess what they're...


ROMNEY: Guess what they're -- guess what they're doing in Washington?

They're worrying.


ROMNEY: Because they realize -- the lobbyists and the politicians realize that America now understands that Washington is broken and we're going to do something about it.


ROMNEY: You see, America -- America understands that Washington has promised that they'd secure our borders, but they haven't.



ROMNEY: Washington told us that they would live by high ethical standards, but they haven't.


ROMNEY: Washington told us that they'd fix social security...


ROMNEY: Washington told us that they'd get us better health care and better education.


ROMNEY: Washington told us they'd get us a tax break for the middle income Americans.


ROMNEY: Washington told us that they'd cut back on the earmarks and the pork barrel spending.


ROMNEY: And Washington told us they'd reduce our dependence on foreign oil, but they haven't.


ROMNEY: And who is going to get the job done?



UNIDENTIFIED SUPPORTERS: Mitt! Mitt! Mitt! Mitt! Mitt! Mitt! Mitt! Mitt! Mitt! Mitt! Mitt! Mitt! Mitt! Mitt! Mitt! Mitt! Mitt! Mitt! Mitt! Mitt! Mitt!

ROMNEY: You guys...

UNIDENTIFIED SUPPORTERS: Mitt! Mitt! Mitt! Mitt! Mitt! Mitt! Mitt! Mitt! Mitt!

ROMNEY: It was -- it was not very far from right here that Ann and I and our family behind us began our campaign, at the Henry Ford Museum of Information...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, we love you.

ROMNEY: ...of Innovation. Wow, that's powerful, I'll tell you.


ROMNEY: And at the Museum of Innovation, we said that we were going to take innovation and change to Washington, recognizing that there's no way that an insider in Washington is going to turn Washington inside out. But we're going to do that.


ROMNEY: American voters said that knowing how America works is more important than knowing how Washington works. And what we're going to see in the next few days is the Democrats saying that they're the party of change.


ROMNEY: You're going to hear Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama and John Edwards...


ROMNEY: ...saying that they're the party of change. And I think they would bring change to the America -- just not the kind we want. You see...


ROMNEY: You see, I think they take...


ROMNEY: I think they take their inspiration from the Europe of old -- big government, big brother, big taxes. They fundamentally in their hearts believe that America is great because we have a great government. And we do have a great government, but that's not what makes us the best nation, the strongest nation, the greatest nation on earth. What makes this such a great nation is the American people. I take my inspiration from Ronald Reagan and George Herbert Walker Bush.


ROMNEY: Who took their inspiration from the American people -- hardworking American people...


ROMNEY: ...people who believed in opportunity, who loved education, God fearing people, people who also loved their families, people deeply patriotic.

It is that characteristic of the American people that makes us the most powerful nation on earth.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You'd better believe it.

ROMNEY: Ronald Reagan, George Herbert Walker Bush said we are a great and good people. It's exactly what we are. It's why we will always be the most powerful nation on earth.


UNIDENTIFIED SUPPORTERS: Mitt! Mitt! Mitt! Mitt! Mitt! Mitt! Mitt! Mitt! Mitt! Mitt! Mitt! Mitt! Mitt! Mitt! Mitt! Mitt! Mitt! Mitt! Mitt! Mitt! Mitt! Mitt! Mitt! Mitt! Mitt! Mitt! Mitt! Mitt! Mitt! Mitt! Mitt! Mitt! Mitt! Mitt! Mitt! Mitt! Mitt! Mitt! Mitt! Mitt!

ROMNEY: Now you heard...


ROMNEY: You heard right here in Michigan our campaign. We said we were going to strengthen our military with additional troops and better equipment and better care for our veterans when they come home. We also said that we're going to strengthen our families. We said we're going to strengthen the economy. I will never accept defeat for any industry here in America. We'll fight for every job.


ROMNEY: Now I...

UNIDENTIFIED SUPPORTERS: Go Mitt! Go Mitt! Go Mitt! Go Mitt! Go Mitt! Go Mitt! Go Mitt! Go Mitt! Go Mitt! Go Mitt!

ROMNEY: I have a question for you.

UNIDENTIFIED SUPPORTERS: Go Mitt! Go Mitt! Go Mitt! Go Mitt!

ROMNEY: I have a couple of questions for you.

Is Washington, D.C. broken?


ROMNEY: Can it be fixed?


ROMNEY: Are we the team that's going to get the job done?


ROMNEY: All right, let's -- let's take this campaign to South Carolina and Nevada and Florida and all over the country.


ROMNEY: Let's take it all the way to the White House.


ROMNEY: Thank you so much.

L. KING: Mitt Romney. He's the winner tonight. We've had three Republican primaries and three Republican winners.

We'll talk about South Carolina and we'll be back with more analysis from Ari Fleischer and more updates from Wolf Blitzer, checking in with Bill Schneider and John King, Gloria Borger and a lot more.

Don't go away.


L. KING: We're back.

By the way, Bill Schneider will be giving running commentary and constant analysis on the data and what it means. He'll do it all night long on on the Ticker. Check it out.

Let's go back to Ari Fleischer in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Ari, do you count it interesting that Mr. Romney mentioned Ronald Reagan and George Herbert Walker Bush, but not George W. Bush?

FLEISCHER: Well, I couldn't help but wonder if that was just a mistake. I'm really not sure that it's -- when you have an incumbent president who is popular in the Republican base of the party, you mention this predecessor, obviously, Ronald Reagan. And I think that was probably a mistake. He meant George W.

L. KING: What hits you the most tonight?

FLEISCHER: Well, the fact is that John McCain's fundamental problem in 2008 is just as it was in 2000. His base among who he wins is Independents and Democrats, not Republicans.

Larry, I took a look at one factor inside the polls. Here's who John McCain did very well with in Michigan -- those people who have a negative impression of George W. Bush, those people who disapprove of the Iraq War and those who want to make abortion legal.

That's the wrong base to have in a Republican primary. If John were running as an Independent, it's the right base. And his problem will be in South Carolina, it gets worse. There is a lot more intensity, a lot more conservativism of Republican voters. In fact, George Bush beat John McCain by 43 points among Republicans in 2000. It's not a McCain friendly Republican electorate.

L. KING: Who do you favor there?

FLEISCHER: Well, I think in South Carolina, you're probably going to see a great big muddle where there will be pluralities. I think Thompson and Huckabee are going to fight each other tooth and nail. McCain, just by virtue of the fact that the two leading conservatives will carve each other up, can come in a relative close muddle there. I think everybody gets a pass to keep going. The guy I know who is smiling tonight somewhere in Florida is Rudy Giuliani. This is what Rudy needed. If John McCain won Michigan, it would have been a big setback to Rudy Giuliani. He and McCain share a relatively independent, more moderate side of the Republican party base. The fact that McCain got a setback in a state he previously won, great news for Rudy.

L. KING: Thanks, Ari. We'll be checking back again. Ari will be with us in our midnight show as well. There will be two versions of LARRY KING LIVE tonight. Let's go to Washington, Donna Brazile, our old friend, the Democratic strategist and CNN contributor. What's your read on Michigan?

DONNA BRAZILE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I think Ari is right. I think John McCain needs to find his voice so that he can appeal to conservatives and Republicans. Look, he won back in 2000 on the strength of Democrats and independents crossing over. Without their participation today, he had a hard time winning.

This is a real shot for Mitt Romney. Now he has two victories -- well, two silver medals and now two gold medals. This will clearly give him momentum going into the Nevada caucuses and perhaps beyond, in Florida and some of the Super Tuesday states. We know he has the national organization. He has the resources. Now, with this big victory in his home state of Michigan, he will assume the front runner status for a couple days until the Republicans sort this out again.

L. KING: What does that say to the Democrats? . BRAZILE: On the Democratic side, we didn't have a race. Michigan was stripped of its delegates. It was a beauty contest which just uncommitted and Senator Clinton and Mr. Gravel, Mr. Kucinich and Mr. Dodd. But on the Democratic side what we hearing tonight, at least in Las Vegas, because it's not staying in Las Vegas, we're hearing party unity. We're hearing that the party is coming together. And, of course, the Democrats are going to really be the team that bring about change in Washington, D.C., because we know how to fix the economy and how the keep America safe. This is an interesting race on both sides. But it's far from over, Larry.

L. KING: Gloria Borger, how do you see South Carolina?

BORGER: Well, I think South Carolina is now wide open. I think John McCain has a tough time there. But unlike 2000, Larry, he's really spent the last eight years trying to get the George W. Bush organization in line. He's captured a lot of the establishment now, Larry, who are with John McCain. That is certainly going to help them.

This does give Mitt Romney a head of steam. Don't forget, you have Mike Huckabee and Fred Thompson battling it out for the conservative vote and the evangelical vote, as Ari Fleischer said before. So I think this is a wide open race. And even if Rudy Giuliani does worse than Ron Paul tonight -- and he just might do that, judging by the early numbers here, which would be an embarrassment for Rudy Giuliani -- I think this is just the scenario he wants.

L. KING: Could we have brokered conventions?

BORGER: Of course that's my dream, right, Larry? I'd like it on both sides. I think, you never know. This is the year the Republicans are trying to define themselves post Bush. And it's open.

L. KING: Bill Schneider, always with up-to-date information. We'll check in with Bill right after this message. Don't go away. Bill Schneider next.


L. KING: We're back on this first edition of LARRY KING LIVE. As we said, there'll be another one at midnight. Wolf Blitzer will be joining us on a panel then as well.

Let's go to Bill Schneider, who is always relevant and will have some relevant stuff for us. Bill?

SCHNEIDER: Why did Romney win this race? He took the base, the conservative base of the party, which still doesn't trust John McCain. There were some other reasons. Look at this, among those in Michigan, Republicans who said the economy was the number one issue, they went for Romney over McCain.

The economy has never been a big issue for John McCain. He's more of a national security spokesperson. Romney, a former corporate executive, dominated the economic vote in a state where the economy is a very big concern.

Here is something surprising. Evangelical voters, are they a big part of the vote in Michigan? They are; 38 percent of the Republican voters are Evangelicals. Here is the surprise. Romney fought Mike Huckabee to a draw among evangelical voters in Michigan. They were supposed to be Huckabee's base. But look at this, Romney, a Mormon who made a big speech about religion, he fought Huckabee evenly splitting the evangelical vote in Michigan.

Finally, Romney is a local boy. He's from Michigan. His father was governor. Was that important to the voters? Most of the Republican voters said it wasn't important. But a big chunk of them said, 41 percent, said yes, it was important that Romney was from the Michigan, that he was local. They voted overwhelmingly for Mitt Romney. So that was a key contributor to Romney's victory.

L. KING: Wolf Blitzer, this was some night for Mitt.

BLITZER: He needed it. A lot of people said, Larry, it was do or die for Mitt Romney in Michigan. I'm not sure, necessarily, if he would have come in a close second, it was die. But it certainly helps his campaign dramatically. He won that really little noticed Wyoming caucus, but this is critical for Mitt Romney. He now goes forward.

Let's take a close look, Larry, at where the vote stands right now. With almost a third of the actual precincts now reporting, Romney has 39 percent, to McCain's 30 percent, Huckabee 16 percent, Ron Paul so far coming in fourth with six percent.

Let's take a close look at the actual numbers as they've come in. Romney, we've projected, he will win with 116,000 or so; McCain just more than 90,000; Huckabee 47,000; look at this, Ron Paul comes in fourth so far, with almost a third of the precincts reporting, with 19,000; Fred Thompson -- he's ahead of Fred Thompson and Giuliani. In fact, if you add up what Giuliani and Thompson have, they have about what Ron Paul has in Michigan. It's embarrassing for Fred Thompson and Rudy Giuliani. Duncan Hunter has almost a thousand votes in Michigan, the Congressman from California.

Let's take a look at the Democrats. This is really a little bit of a beauty contest that has no practical import because the Democratic National Committee stripped Michigan Democrats of any delegates to the convention in Denver at the end of the summer because they went early. They were supposed to wait until February 5th. But Hillary Clinton's name was on the ballot. John Edwards' name was not. Barack Obama's name was not.

Hillary Clinton right now, with a third of the vote in, about 60 percent of the vote, to the uncommitted getting about 35 percent, Kucinich, the Congressman from Cleveland, with four percent.

Once again, this not much of a vote. It's -- Edwards' and Obama's name are not even on the ballot, although some of their supporters said they were voting for uncommitted as a vote against Hillary Clinton. But, if you take a look at the actual numbers, she's got more than 103,000 right now, uncommitted almost 60,000, Kucinich 7,200.

Chris Dodd's name was still on the ballot even though he's dropped out. Mike Gravel, the former senator from Alaska, he's got a few votes as well, not many.

So, Larry, it's important for Mitt Romney. This is really his night. The contest goes forward. It's wide open. And anybody who says they know who the Republican nominee is going to be, I've got to tell you, they're lying.

L. KING: Let's ask someone who might know, Senator Lindsey Graham, a veteran of the United States Senate from South Carolina. Lindsey joins us now. He's a supporter of John McCain. Are you very disappointed tonight, senator?

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Not at all. I want to congratulate Governor Romney. He won in Michigan. He was raised there. His father was a governor for three terms. It made sense he would do well there. I've got nothing to say but congratulations to Governor Romney.

I can tell you, Larry, come Saturday, we're going to win in South Carolina. John McCain fits the state and the times very well. So I'm excited about the next four days. We're going to be electing the total package, social and economic conservatism that doesn't change based on the audience.

The most important thing here, Larry, I believe, for voters in South Carolina is picking a commander in chief that can lead us to victory in a war we can't afford to lose. That resonates here in South Carolina.

L. KING: There is that memory of 2000. Do you remember that debate I moderated between George Bush and John McCain, and John's stunning defeat there. You think he can turn that around?

GRAHAM: We're doing well. Our polling is as strong as it's ever been. It's a different time. We've got a lot of people that supported President Bush who are now with John. The three Bush finance chairmen are with Senator McCain, the speaker of the House, the attorney general, a majority of the state House of Representatives.

People in South Carolina appreciate that John stood by President Bush in 2000, helped him get re-elected in 2004. But above all, they know we're in a war we can't afford to lose. We've had a down-turn in our economy. I'm not telling the people in the textile industry I can get every job you've lost back from China. But I am telling you, we can find a place for you in the global economy by getting ahead of global change.

But the real issue that resonates here is who is best prepared to be commander in chief on day one and defeat an enemy called radical Islam that hates us all, whether you're Christian, moderate Muslim or Jew. People in South Carolina understand that is an issue defining our times. L. KING: Senator, based on what we've seen so far, do you see the possibility of going to St. Paul without a clear leader?

GRAHAM: No. I'll be honest with you, Larry. If John McCain wins in South Carolina, the place where his campaign got derailed, he's launched to be our next nominee. If he wins here -- Governor Huckabee is a great guy. Senator Thompson is a very close friend. But if they don't win in South Carolina, where do they win?

I think Mayor Giuliani is -- I think we're going to win Florida if we win South Carolina. To me, it has always been about two things; John had to win New Hampshire to be viable, and if he wins South Carolina, I think that closes the deal, because a win here propels him with momentum into Florida. And I just like our chances if we win here. If you don't beat John in South Carolina with a conservative message, where do you beat him? I don't think you beat him anywhere. I think this will be the deciding primary, as it was before.

L. KING: Thanks senator, always good seeing you.

GRAHAM: God bless, Larry.

L. KING: Senator Lindsey Graham. Now, let's go to Mike Huckabee headquarters in South Carolina. You finished third tonight. How disappointed are you?

MIKE HUCKABEE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm not disappointed at all, Larry. In fact, I'm pretty pleased. We were out-spent 50 to on when we were in the Michigan race. I tell you what, with the excitement that we're seeing in South Carolina, the one thing we know, we won Iowa, we placed well in every one of these races. We've been in contention.

Here is what I predict? We're going to win South Carolina Saturday. That will be a big, big night for us. Then on to Florida. We're not through yet.

L. KING: What do you make of the fact, as reported by Bill Schneider, that the evangelist vote in Michigan was split between you and Romney?

HUCKABEE: Well, a lot of people have tried to say that my support comes exclusively from Evangelicals. We've been saying a long time, that's not right. This is not a monolithic vote. Sure, I have a lot of support. I should. I'm the most pro-life, the most pro- family candidate, the one that's actually done something about it, not just started talking about it to run for president.

But my support comes from a lot of people who believe that the middle class and small businesses are being forgotten. That's where the real bulk of the support comes from. Many of those people are evangelicals. Many of the small business people and many of the others who support me from the middle class are not necessarily voting for me because of my faith. They're voting for me because of leadership abilities. They believe that somebody needs to run this country who has actually run a government. I've done that more than anybody else running for president, Democrat or Republican.

L. KING: Senator Graham said no chance. We'll ask it of you. Do you think there's a chance the Republicans can go to St. Paul without a clear leader?

HUCKABEE: There's a chance of anything. But, Larry, I plan to have the nomination well in hand long before we get to the convention. I think after we get through winning South Carolina, winning Florida, then, frankly, surprising a whole lot of people February 5th, because there's a lot of states that we're leading in right now. I don't think it will go that far.

Whatever it takes, we're in it for the long haul.

L. KING: Thanks, Mike. We'll be seeing you down the trail. Good luck.

HUCKABEE: Thank you so much, Larry. Always a pleasure to be with you.

L. KING: My pleasure. Governor Mike Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas.

When we come back, a familiar name, Steve Forbes, the national campaign co-chair for Rudy Giuliani. He's in Jacksonville, Florida. And so will we be there, right after this.


L. KING: A couple of reminders, Anderson Cooper will be with you at the top of the hour, 10:00 Eastern, 7:00 Pacific with a two hour extravaganza. Then we come back live at midnight.

Results are changing minute by minute, county by county. You can track them yourself and stay up to the second on Do it throughout the night.

Our old friend Steve Forbes joins us from the Jacksonville, Florida. He's national campaign co-chair for Rudy Giuliani. He ran for the presidential nomination in '96 and 2000. He's president and CEO of Forbes Incorporated. Were you surprised at how badly your candidate was beaten tonight in Michigan?

STEVE FORBES, NATIONAL CAMPAIGN CO-CHAIR FOR GIULIANI CAMPAIGN: Not at all. We didn't compete in Michigan. We're working very hard here in Florida. And I think the McCain defeat tonight, I think, simply underscores how volatile this race is, how fluid it is, and also underscores how wise Rudy Giuliani was to focus on Florida. We're going to do very well here. That means he'll do well on February 5th. That means we're going to get the nomination. So we're happy tonight.

L. KING: Why, Steve, did the eggs go in Florida's basket?

FORBES: I think Rudy realized this was going to be an intense marathon rather than a one or two-state sprint. Therefore, he realized, with the resources that we had, that if we focused on a big state like Florida, instead of putting it all in the early states, that that would position us well for big states like California, Illinois and others on February 5th.

If you get momentum out of Florida, which is two weeks from now, January 29th, you're going to be in very good position on February 5th, where you have over a thousand delegates being chosen in one night. Never before in American history have so many delegates in a presidential contest been chosen at one single time.

L. KING: We're showing Rudy's totals now. He's at three percent of the vote in Michigan, which Steve Forbes says was what -- he didn't expect anymore than that. Is Florida do or die for Mayor Giuliani?

FORBES: Well, it's critical. And he's made it very clear it's critical. So we have to do well here. The reason he's going to do well is that a week ago he unveiled the biggest tax cut in American history and a radical simplification of the tax code, where people can literally fill out their tax returns on a single sheet of paper. That has galvanized this campaign.

The crowds are big in Florida. They're enthusiastic. This is the most exciting tax thing since Ronald Reagan. I think that's why Rudy is going to win the Florida primary, do very well here and win the nomination. He's light years ahead of the others in doing something about our slowing economy and getting America moving again. John McCain has no plan. And Mike Huckabee has a 30 percent sales tax. That's not going to sit well in an environment like this. Rudy is in the best position possible.

L. KING: Finally, Steve, is he out of step, though, with the majority of Republicans with regard to social issues?

FORBES: I think social conservatives like Rudy for national security and also the fact that he treats them with respect and that he's actually done a lot of things for social conservatives, whether it's fighting crime or fighting pornography. And in New York, because of his pro-adoption policies, the abortion rate in New York when he was mayor fell faster than it did nationwide.

He's acceptable to social conservatives. He's a hero of fiscal conservatives. He can lead the Republican party and win blue states like my home state of New Jersey, which the other Republican candidates couldn't do.

L. KING: Good seeing you, Steve. Good luck. We'll see you down the road.

FORBES: Very good, Larry. Thank you very much.

L. KING: Steve Forbes, the national campaign co-chair for Rudy Giuliani. John King, our CNN chief national correspondent, what surprised you, if anything, tonight.

L. KING: The margin, how poorly McCain is doing, Larry, in a state where did very well. Here is the latest; you see 40 percent, 30 percent. He has dropped. He got 56 percent last year. Ari Fleischer was right on the point he made earlier. Much more Democrats and independents voting last time.

It's a very interesting split. If you look at the map here. This is where the people are in the state of Michigan. The four most populous counties are right here. The fifth is out here in Grand Rapids; all Romney territory.

McCain campaigned mostly in the western part of the state, where the Republicans are. He did pretty well, except in the big population in Grand Rapids. You can't afford to lose where the votes are and he did. Out here, all Romney country. Governor Romney campaigned in this area aggressively. It's a sweep. It's a big, convincing win for Governor Romney.

Senator McCain is spinning it tonight as saying he was from Michigan. McCain knew full well, if he could have won this state, he would have taken command of the Republican race. As everyone has said throughout the night, now you have a jumble. You're going into South Carolina -- which Lindsey Graham is correct -- It has picked the Republican nominee since 1980. The Republican winner goes on to win the nomination.

Larry, if there is still a jumble coming out of South Carolina, money matters more and more and more. We can show you a quick look of our calendar here. This is where we are tonight. This is Michigan tonight. Then we will get to South Carolina on Saturday. Nevada caucus is out there.

But look at this, Florida -- Steve Forbes was just talking about. That is obviously critical for Mayor Giuliani. Then, wow, that is what February 5th looks like. What this requires, Larry, is a lot of money. Very few of the candidates have it. Senator McCain is running on fumes, to quote one of his own senior advisers. Even Mayor Giuliani is down to six or seven million dollars cash on hand to compete in the primaries.

Governor Romney now faces a choice, will he invest more of his own money? He has already put more than 20 million dollars of his own money in. Had he not won Michigan, he would probably be more stingy with that money. Now he is likely to look at the maps as well.

But this is daunting for anyone. So the big question is; will South Carolina and Florida bring some order to a race that is now as volatile, if not more so, than ever?

L. KING: Thank you, John King. As always, well covered. Results changing minute by minute, county by county. You can track them yourself, stay up to the second throughout the night, at

We'll check in once more with Ari Fleischer and Gloria Borger and then turn it over to Anderson Cooper and come back at midnight. You're watching LARRY KING LIVE part one. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) L. KING: Ari Fleischer will be back with us again at midnight Eastern. One more quick comment from you now though, Ari, in this hour. How can all these guys be so confident. Three different people, they're all going to win?

FLEISCHER: Well, because based on what's happened before, anybody can win. I think another little factor here, Larry, is it's also the on-going dissatisfaction of the Republican electorate. I think it's almost that they're saying, we don't want to rule anybody out yet. We want to keep everybody in the game, so we can continue to evaluate until we get happy.

Here is what I think happens next. I think South Carolina will be inconclusive. It's not going to be what it used to be because it's too much of a jumble. Florida will be a vital spring board to February 5th. February 5th, that's a real big day of judgment. I wouldn't be surprised if it goes on later than that.

I think the only real loser tonight on the Republican side is Mitt Romney's banker, because now Mitt has every reason to keep tapping that well and spending it.

L. KING: Well said, Ari. We'll see you in a couple hours. Gloria Borger, final comment?

BORGER: Just looking at some of these internal exit polls, here are the two sides of John McCain; one side, by two to one, the voters in Michigan said John McCain is a truth teller. They like that about him. On the other side, when you ask them, who shares their values, it was Mitt Romney overwhelmingly. Like we've said here tonight, John McCain has got to share the values of Republican voters or he's going to have a hard time getting nominated.

L. KING: Do you agree with John King, the surprise of the night was the size of his victory?

BORGER: Yes. I think it was a very large victory for Romney because his economic message resonated. John McCain had a little too much straight talk in Michigan. He was talking about global warming and fuel efficiency. Those aren't great platforms in the state of Michigan.

L. KING: Thanks, Gloria, as always.

BORGER: My pleasure.

L. KING: Wolf Blitzer will be back with us at midnight as part of our panel. Right now it's time to turn things over to Anderson Cooper who will be with you for the next two hours on this extraordinary night, as we've had three Republican primaries and three different winners. Anderson, go get them.