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Florida Votes

Aired January 29, 2008 - 20:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: We want to welcome or viewers in the United States and around the world. We're at the CNN Election Center. We have an important primary under way in Florida right now.
Right now it's, what, 2:30 until all the polls in the state Florida are closed. Most of them closed an hour ago at 7 p.m. eastern. The remaining polls in the panhandle will be closing in the next couple minutes. We're watching all of this unfold right now.

We have reporters standing by throughout the state at McCain headquarters, Romney headquarters, Giuliani headquarters. We're also following the democrats. There's a Clinton rally underway, an Obama rally. All of that is happening.

We have also Anderson Cooper and the best political team in television. They're standing by at the Reagan library out in California are Roland Martin, Gloria Borger and Bill Bennett. Here in Washington, more of the best political team on television. In New York that is John King, Amy Holmes, Jeff Toobin. They're here. Soledad O'Brien and Bill Schneider, they've been going through all of the exit polls right now.

We're going to share the numbers with you, what motivated these voters on this day in Florida. Let's look and see what we have right now. As I said, the polls, most of the polls in Florida closed almost an hour ago.

On the republican side, and this is relatively early, with 15 percent, 1-5, 15 percent of the precincts in Florida reporting, there's a battle under way between John McCain and Mitt Romney. Right now, John McCain with 34 percent of the votes to Mitt Romney's 31 percent. There's a battle under way for third place between Mike Huckabee and Rudy Giuliani; 13 percent for Huckabee, 17 percent for Giuliani. Remember, 15 percent of the precincts have reported.

If you take a look at the hard numbers, more than 177,000 so far for McCain; 157,000 for Romney, Giuliani with 89,000 or so; 66,000 for Mike Huckabee, Ron Paul 16,628.

On the democratic side, this is a vote largely a beauty contest because the Democratic National Committee stripped Florida democrats of any delegates that will be portioned as a result of this vote but still it's a significant race. Hillary Clinton with 19 percent of the precincts ahead with 48 percent to Barack Obama's 30 percent; John Edwards at third place with 14 percent, Mike Gravel actually has four has 40 percent, the former governor of Florida. Hillary Clinton with 248,900 votes; Obama, 152,413. There's a battle, at least Hillary Clinton doesn't look like she has much of a battle underway in Florida right now.

Based on the exit polls that we have, we can make a projection, first of all, that there is a battle under way, a serious battle under way, between -- among the Republicans, Mitt Romney and John McCain.

Mitt Romney and John McCain are fighting for first place right now. They're competing. We cannot make a projection who will win this Republican battle based on the numbers that have come in so far or the exit polls. We can tell you this. It's not a good night for Rudy Giuliani, not a good night for Mike Huckabee. They're locked in a battle right now for third place. And that is obviously not what Rudy Giuliani specifically wanted. He hoped to win in Florida. We can project Rudy Giuliani will not win.

On the Democratic side, we can project that Hillary Clinton will be the winner of the Democratic primary in Florida based on the exit polls that we have, as well as the actual numbers that have come in so far. About 15 percent of the precincts have actually reported, but this is a win that won't result in any delegates for Hillary Clinton. It will give her perhaps some momentum.

Candy Crowley is watching this story for us. She's at a Clinton rally.

They're going to spin it, the Clinton campaign, as a huge win for Hillary Clinton in Florida, even though none of the candidates could campaign there. They couldn't spend a whole lot of time there, except to do some fund-raising, but they are going to say the people of Florida have spoken, Candy.


They're going to say, I can tell you and have already said, more people voted here in Florida than any of the other states combined, that this is the most diverse state that has voted thus far, that, in fact, it's important for people's voices to be heard.

You know, last week, Hillary Clinton said that she would tell her delegates at the national convention to go ahead and seat these Florida delegates. Obviously, they have had a bad week. You had Barack Obama's significant win in South Carolina. You had the endorsement of Teddy Kennedy.

So, in some ways, what they're hoping here is to kind of stop that momentum in its tracks and change the headlines, frankly, change the conversation. So, they say, look, this is a very important race. It says a lot about how the country is feeling about things.

And I can tell you at camp Obama they're saying the bottom line is this. It's a tie, zero delegates for Hillary Clinton and zero delegates for Barack Obama -- Wolf.

BLITZER: (AUDIO GAP) to you in a second, Candy. Stand by.

Suzanne Malveaux out in Kansas City, Missouri, right, Kansas City Missouri, at an Obama rally.

What are they saying out there, Suzanne? Hillary Clinton, we project, will win the Democratic primary in Florida, even though no delegates will result for her in the convention in Denver.


Barack Obama was actually asked about that earlier on the flight on the way over here. What does this mean? Should it be ignored? He said, no, it should not be ignored, but of course they're trying to downplay this as saying that this is simply a snapshot of what Florida voters are looking at and what they know about the candidates.

He called it a beauty contest. He says that, look, he hasn't been out there campaigning. He pledged not to, that he will keep that pledge. And he also said that, when it comes to the general election, he cares about the people in Michigan, he cares about the people in Florida. That's when he will outline his record to those voters.

I also spoke with the communications director of the Obama campaign, who says, look, this is a fight over delegates. So, the score is 0-0 tonight, obviously trying to play this down. They do not believe -- or at least they do not hope that she gains momentum from this win -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, we will check back with you, Suzanne, as well.

I want to go to Soledad O'Brien and Bill Schneider. They're standing by.

You have been looking at the exit polls that we have been doing, Soledad, and you're looking at how Hillary Clinton managed to win tonight in Florida.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, that's the question we start out with this evening, which is really how did she do it? How was she able to pull it off?

And I guess for that you just go right to the exit poll numbers, which are pretty clear on why she won. Let's start with the first one. How did white voters vote?

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, this was a very clear victory for Hillary Clinton. She dominated the votes among whites in Florida, 53. Obama got 22 percent, which is just about what he got among white voters in South Carolina.

But white voters in Florida were two-thirds of the vote. They were less than half of the vote in South Carolina. So, this clear big lead among white voters makes it a strong state for Clinton. And Obama's share, a little less than a quarter, strong, but not enough.

O'BRIEN: African-American voters Democratic side? SCHNEIDER: They're the Obama base. And we see here that he did very well with African-American voters, 70 percent Obama, 27 percent for Hillary Clinton. Again, she got a healthy share of the African- American vote. It isn't totally racially polarized.

But, in Florida, only 18 percent of the voters were African- American. In South Carolina, it was 55, three times the proportion as in Florida.

O'BRIEN: A healthy percentage, not that many actual in number.


O'BRIEN: When you go to the Latino voters, that really spells trouble for Barack Obama.

SCHNEIDER: It does. Take a look here at the Latino voters in Florida. Now, these are Democratic voters. They were mostly not Cuban-Americans, who tend to vote in the Republican primary.

Latino voters in Florida were two to one for Hillary Clinton, Clinton 59, Obama 30. Now, that's a problem, because, in some of these big Super Tuesday states coming up, you have got big proportions of Latino voters.

O'BRIEN: California certainly.

SCHNEIDER: California, Arizona, New York, a lot of Latino voters and Obama is just getting here less than a third.

O'BRIEN: That is going to be a problem for him.

So, as we look forward to Super Tuesday, as you analyze the numbers, especially of percentage of white voters, what does that mean?

SCHNEIDER: It means that Obama has got a big problem on Super Tuesday.

We did a calculation based on Obama doing what he did in South Carolina, about a quarter of the white vote, 80 percent of the black vote. If that continues on Super Tuesday, he doesn't get more than a third of the vote in any of the Super Tuesday primaries, except for Deep South states, like Georgia, where he gets a bare majority based on his solid support among black voters.

If he doesn't increase his share of the Latino or the white vote, he's going to have a problem.

O'BRIEN: But you're looking at numbers for Obama's support in Florida, a state where he did not campaign and he was not well known. Doesn't that kind of throw a wrench in these calculations?

SCHNEIDER: Well, he did not campaign here and that, of course, is what he's arguing. The state where he didn't campaign, he couldn't make any inroads. O'BRIEN: All right. Well, we will see how it turns out -- Wolf, back to you.

BLITZER: All right.

They're certainly celebrating over at Hillary Clinton -- at a rally in Florida for Hillary Clinton. They're making it sound like this is a huge, huge deal for her, even though no delegates -- once again, no delegates will be going from Florida to the Denver convention, unless the DNC decides to change all of that.

I want to show you what's happening on the Republican side right now. We have projected that Hillary Clinton will win the Democratic primary in Florida.

But on the Republican side right now, 22 percent, 22 percent of the precincts on the Republican side have reported. And there's a battle under way. John McCain so far has 34 percent, Mitt Romney 31 percent, Rudy Giuliani at 16 percent, Mike Huckabee at 14 percent.

If you take a look at the actual numbers, and if we drill in and show you those numbers right now, McCain with about 217,000, almost 218,000 votes, to 198,500 for Romney, 104,000 for Giuliani, Huckabee with 88,000 or so, Ron Paul 20,000.

You can see 22 percent, though, only 22 percent have reported and we're going continue to watch this very, very closely; 57 delegates are at stake in Florida on the Republican side.

Let's go over to the best political team on television and get some assessment.

First of all, John, on the Republican side, it's got to be a huge disappointment for Rudy Giuliani. We have projected he will not win. He will not come in second. He's got a fight on his hands right now for third place with Mike Huckabee.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And, Wolf, he has said that he will get on a plane tomorrow and fly out to California, where CNN is hosting a Republican debate tomorrow night.

But there is serious conversation within his campaign and serious conversation among his friends here in New York City about whether Rudy Giuliani should think about getting out. He himself has on the record said it yesterday -- I believe he repeated it again today -- that he thinks the winner of Florida will be the Republican nominee.

He is not going to be the winner of Florida tonight. He has spent more than $30 million, approaching now somewhere in the vicinity of $40 million. He will be 0-7 after tonight. He bet everything on Florida, everything on Florida. It is a repudiation of the Giuliani strategy. There's nothing else you can say about it.

BLITZER: A loss for Rudy Giuliani tonight, Amy.

AMY HOLMES, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It's got to be a heartbreaker. And when he started this campaign, he was ahead in the national polls. He was even ahead among evangelicals early on.

But all the political experts told him that, if you skip those early states and you lose, you lose, you lose, it's going to be very hard to come back and win in Florida.

BLITZER: What happened, Jeff? Because, only a few months ago, he was the front-runner among the Republicans, especially in a state like Florida, where he had huge name recognition, America's mayor after 9/11. What happened?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR ANALYST: The more people saw of Rudy Giuliani, the less they liked him. I mean, it was -- I think it's as simple as that. He just was not a good candidate.

I mean, he didn't not campaign in New Hampshire and Iowa. He actually did campaign a little bit there. He spent a good deal of money on television in those states and went down in the polls. He went to Florida and went down in the polls. It is -- I think it's clear this is the worst campaign of this millennium. It may be the worst campaign of the last millennium as well at this rate.

KING: Look, Phil Gramm ran in 1996. He spent $26 million, and he got nothing. Phil Gramm was a conservative Republican. In a sense, Phil Gramm's was a bigger failure, in that he fit the national profile of the base of the Republican Party.

We're in New York City. We talked about this in 2006 when Chris Shays, Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins -- there is a breed of Northeast Republican viewed as the liberal or moderate Republicans that is dying. Well, that's what Rudy Giuliani is. And, in New York City, tip your hat to him if you're a Republican. He was the mayor of an overwhelmingly Democratic city and so a source of pride in the party.

He is not on the issues a national Republican. This is be the national nominee of the Republican Party.

HOLMES: And, John and I, we were talking before the show. It was never clear to me what was Rudy Giuliani's natural constituency in Florida. He talked about those snowbirds, those New York transplants. But many of them are Democrats. We saw that back in 2000 with the whole vote recount.

So, Mitt -- I'm sorry -- Giuliani's strategy down in Florida was always a big question mark.

BLITZER: Let's not lose sight, Jeff, of the competition that is going in Florida for the first place. And that would be between John McCain and Mitt Romney right now. About 25 percent of the votes are in, 34 percent for McCain, 31 percent for Romney. Based on that and based on our exit polls, we at CNN cannot yet project who will emerge as the winner tonight.

TOOBIN: I think this is the important Republican primary so far, because, if John McCain wins, he is also leading in virtually every Super Tuesday state. So, a victory here would almost certainly help him in those states, where he's already winning. Plus, you have the Republican Party set up, the rules, such that the leader gets more than his share. It's set up to make him -- make the leader a consensus candidate. So, I think, if McCain hangs on to this lead, he's in very, very good shape.

HOLMES: It sets him up as the front-runner. And also Florida will tell us where those Thompson voters went. There was a lot of discussion with the conservative Thompson voters. If they go to McCain, he's shoring up his appeal among those voters.

Also, after Florida, it will tell us where the Giuliani voters go.

BLITZER: I want to go out to Anderson Cooper. He has got more of the best political team on television as well.

Anderson, give us a little sense of what you're seeing out there. I know you're getting ready for a huge Republican debate tomorrow night.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: That's right. We're actually right in front of the old Air Force One which Ronald Reagan used to use, and a remarkable set that we have constructed here at the Ronald Reagan Library for tomorrow night.

But, of course, tonight, all eyes are on Florida, and the panel here eager to talk particularly about Rudy Giuliani.

Bill Bennett, you were shaking your head when Jeffrey Toobin was talking.

BILL BENNETT, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes. Just I was looking for the meal tray I left on Air Force One.



COOPER: It brings back old memories.

BENNETT: They cleaned it out, yes. They cleaned it out, half, like, luckily.

Yes, we can forgive Jeff, the New Yorker, taking a shot there at Rudy with some satisfaction.


BENNETT: But Jeff actually makes a good point, in that the campaign wasn't good.

A lot of people were disposed to Giuliani. And it surprised me at beginning how many evangelicals, how many pro-life people said they would support a Giuliani campaign. BLITZER: When you say the campaign wasn't good, you mean the candidate himself on the trail?


BENNETT: The candidate wasn't good. He did not wear well. I think Jeff is right on that.


BENNETT: And the more people saw, the less impressed they were.

There were a couple other problems. I think it was too much New York. If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere. He needed to talk about his vision for the country, not just talk about what he did on 9/11.

Then he got stuck in this business, the Bernie Kerik, the police commissioner, scandal.

COOPER: Right.

BENNETT: The stuff about using city funds for the now Mrs. Giuliani. And he couldn't seem to get out of that. He just seemed to get boxed in that.

Then it seemed like a certain kind of interest or enthusiasm about the campaign and for the campaign just kind of dropped.


COOPER: I talked to people who used to go to his rallies in New Hampshire who said he didn't seem enthusiastic.

BENNETT: That's right.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: No. He doesn't like the retail politicking. He liked it in New York well enough, I guess, but not nationally. And I don't think you can win a presidential race by just dropping by sometimes. And I think that was the problem.


BENNETT: Let me say one thing and then yield to Gloria.

Justice Holmes says, one place -- you have got to want something fiercely and want it all the time. My sense with him was, he said, well, let's give it a try. Let's see how it goes. Otherwise, I have this great business. I have this great company.

He didn't seem to enter into it whole hog, in the way Romney has totally entered into it. You see Romney...


BORGER: Or McCain.

BENNETT: Or McCain now, both of them.


BENNETT: You will see that tomorrow night.


BORGER: I think the big question now, though, for Giuliani is, when does he get out? Does he get out before Super Tuesday, before getting annihilated possibly in the state of New York? Does he throw his support to John McCain?

COOPER: Which would be not only embarrassing, but, in terms of his business, would be hurtful.



BORGER: Yes, sure. This hasn't helped him in any way, shape or form.


MARTIN: I would use one word to describe the Giuliani campaign: arrogant. It is arrogant to think that somehow you can ignore early states and then decide to run in one state. That is the height of arrogance.

Not only that, imagine the Patriots on Sunday saying we're going pull all our starters for the first three quarters. We're so good, we are going to come back in the fourth quarter. He had a natural lead. People did like him.


COOPER: Yes, but it looks arrogant now to you. If it had worked, though, it would have been brilliant and everybody would have said he was a visionary.


MARTIN: ... it's kind of arrogant, though.

BORGER: But nobody -- to be fair -- let's be fair -- nobody thought of Mike Huckabee. Nobody had any sense that Mike Huckabee was going come out of Iowa and that he was going to be, you know, the king for a day, and that then it was going to be so, so chaotic, which could have benefited Giuliani, by the way, with his strategy, if he had been a better candidate.

MARTIN: I will say this.

(CROSSTALK) MARTIN: I think he was going win Iowa. But about 11 months ago, Iowa said, that's the guy to look for, a Southern governor from Arkansas, evangelical. And some friends reminded me of that.

But, again, Huckabee obviously was a key. But when you have that -- such -- when you have a head start like that, you allow your opponents to catch up. That's what he did. He allowed them to catch up and bypass him. He did not even build upon his natural lead. That's the problem.


COOPER: I want to bring in New York Amy Holmes, if she is standing by.

There is also a certain momentum which builds up for a candidate over time as you're competing in these early states.


COOPER: And he seemed just never to get any lift from that. I mean, he wasn't taking part in it, so he never got any of that. And by the time Florida rolled around, he seemed kind of old news.

HOLMES: I think that's exactly right, Anderson.

And he didn't get a good headline for months. And so where does this enthusiasm go? And we really didn't even see New Yorkers saying, you know, we want our hometown guy to win. So, he was just -- he was nowhere in this calculation.

But, in Gloria's point, also in fairness to Giuliani, he didn't expect the resurrection of John McCain coming down to Florida and really giving now him this run for the money. So he was counting on John McCain's campaign being dead, and then he would be competing against his other competitors.

COOPER: I want to get a sense from our panel in New York and also here what Rudy Giuliani does now. Does he -- assuming third place, does he...


BENNETT: He drops out and endorses...


COOPER: He drops out. Does he drop out tonight? Does he drop out tomorrow?

BENNETT: I think tomorrow and he endorses McCain.

BORGER: I think at your debate, that's when he does it.


COOPER: Right. Yes.


BENNETT: I think he endorses McCain.


COOPER: But you think before the debate tomorrow night, he will drop out?

BENNETT: Yes. And it will be interesting if he endorses -- how quickly he endorses McCain, if he indeed he does, and I think he will.

MARTIN: It serves no purpose for him to debate tomorrow. It serves no purpose.

And, so, frankly, he will be in the way. Tomorrow night, it's going to be a two-person conversation, McCain, Romney.

BENNETT: Is Ron Paul here?



BENNETT: Three-person.

MARTIN: OK. Well...


MARTIN: But I got you.


BORGER: But I do think that New York and New Jersey are two very important Super Tuesday states for the Republicans. They're winner- take-all. And Giuliani could really be a big help to John McCain.

COOPER: An endorsement by Giuliani would matter for John McCain?

BORGER: Yes. It would really matter.

MARTIN: Absolutely.

BENNETT: Well, yes. Sure. Yes.


BORGER: Big-time.

BENNETT: If McCain wins tonight, if he wins tonight, and he gets an endorsement from Giuliani, it's going to be very hard to stop him.

COOPER: John King in New York, you agree with that?

KING: I do.

And Rudy Giuliani, remember, Anderson, since day one, has said, if he were not running for president, he would be supporting John McCain. There is no question where his loyalty lies in this race. They're going have a conversation with all of their key staff members, with their contributor community, with his friends here in New York City in the morning.

He will probably have some of those conversations tonight now that he has a pretty good sense of what the results are. And again they have said publicly they're getting on the plane and going to that debate. That could be influenced by whether McCain or Romney wins in Florida tonight.

Rudy Giuliani might think he -- if Romney wins, that he wants to be there to help join the anti-Romney combat. if you will. But it is a political calculation. There is no expectation. This is a man who is very proud. Most people believe he does not want to lose in his home state of New York and lose in New Jersey.

So, it is a matter of when, not if so much. But again they will wait for all the results to come in tonight. We're still very early in the results there, but it is a big question.

He was -- as Amy said, he thought he would be the only security candidate by the time the campaign got to Florida. He thought Romney or somebody else would come out of South Carolina, not John McCain. He thought John McCain would be wounded by now. So, the McCain resurgence essentially is a complicating factor for Mayor Giuliani.

TOOBIN: Just to add to -- make a tactical point here, I think it would probably be better for both McCain and Giuliani if he waited a couple days to endorse, because then he could dominate the news cycle right before all those primaries. But it's a question of when, not if.

HOLMES: That's a very good point.

And we also know from polling data that Giuliani and McCain supporters that there's a great deal of overlap, that Giuliani supporters like McCain and vice versa, so this is a natural fit.

COOPER: All right. We have got a lot more to talk about in this night, which may be a very long night indeed, the race, as you can see on the board right now, very close between Senator McCain and Governor Romney.

We will continue to follow it.

And when we come back from break, John King is going to show you the state of Florida with district-by-district, county-by-county view. We will take a quick breakdown of the numbers of where things stand.

We will take a quick break and we will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: Almost a third of the precincts have now reported and there's a very close race unfolding on the Republican presidential primary between John McCain and Mitt Romney -- 32 percent, 32 percent of the precincts have reported, John McCain with 34 percent of the vote to Mitt Romney's 33 percent.

So far, a very disappointing 15, now 16 percent for Rudy Giuliani, 13 percent for Mike Huckabee. Another percentage point has just gone up -- 33 percent of the precincts have now reported, 322,801 votes for John McCain to 304,889 votes for Mitt Romney. Rudy Giuliani is down at 147,000, Mike Huckabee 126,000. Ron Paul has 29,000.

Once again, we cannot -- we cannot project a winner in the Republican presidential primary based on our exit polls or on the precincts so far reporting. We're watching this very closely. As we reported, we can project a winner on the Democratic side. Hillary Clinton will win the Democratic presidential primary, but will get zero delegates out of Florida. That state's Democrats were stripped of their delegates because they moved up their primary before the February 5 Super Tuesday date.

And they got some punishment as a result of that.

John King taking a close look at the state of Florida and this Republican fight that's under way now between Mitt Romney John McCain.

KING: Doesn't get much closer than this, Wolf, although McCain has opened up just a little bit, but we're looking at about 18,000 votes is the margin, 18,000 votes.

And let's show some key areas. If you're the Romney campaign, you're looking at this. Orange County is where Orlando is, in the middle of the state. He spent a lot of time there. If you are the Romney campaign, you're looking at Orange County and this is worrying you.

Romney needed to win Orange County by a decent margin. He's essentially running in a dead heat at the moment, with 91 percent reporting in. So, that's a bit of a trouble sign for the Romney campaign right there.

This is what John McCain needs, Wolf, and needs big. Miami-Dade County has just started to come in. We're only at 7 percent of the vote so far in Miami-Dade County. Let me block you out up here.

You see John McCain, again, very early, but 44 percent to 12 percent. It is Giuliani just behind McCain down there. That is -- as they say in Florida, the further south you go, the further north you are. This is where the transplants are from the north. There are more moderate Republican voters.

If John McCain can keep that margin there, where I'm told turnout was quite high today, if John McCain can keep that margin, he will be happy tonight. That is worth watching as we go on.

Another key area for Mitt Romney is down here in southwest Florida, Collier County, where Naples is, just above it up there. You see Governor Romney running up big margins, but 92 percent of the vote in already there, Wolf.

The places where the vote has yet to come in, Miami-Dade, is a place where you expect McCain to do well. A key area that is still white on our map, Tampa. The I-4 Corridor right here is where the people are. They swing a general election. They're also very important in a Republican primary.

Tampa, Hillsborough County, again, I'm told turnout was pretty good there for a Republican primary, a little more than 6 percent of the state population. The McCain camp believes, if it wins Tampa, it wins the state. We don't know what's going on there yet.

One more quick other place to look -- and let's clear the screen, so there's no confusion. This again has to be a bit of a trouble sign for the Romney campaign. This is conservative country across the Panhandle, Georgia and Alabama. This is more of a Southern state. Down here, you have more moderate voters. This is the conservative part of Florida up here.

And if you're looking at this if you're the Romney campaign, you're very happy about this. Duval County, about 5 percent of the state population, you're running well ahead. The suburbs around Jacksonville, Romney country right now, Clay County, a bellwether suburb, he's running well ahead there. That's a good sign if you're Mitt Romney.

But out here, you see McCain's colors out here. This is conservative country out here. And this out here in Pensacola, Wolf, is where John McCain trained as a Navy pilot way back many years ago, more than four decades ago. If he can get the military veterans vote out there, that's a key to his performance.

So, as we watch the vote come in, let's come back to the full state now. Come on back out here. We're up to 33 percent. Again, it's a matter of a little under 20,000 votes there, but Miami-Dade will be key and the votes are coming in slow, only 7 percent reporting. If John McCain can keep that margin, a good margin, obviously -- Governor Romney is placing third there -- but that's key to John McCain.

If he keeps that as that 7 climbs up into the teens, the 20s, just 30s, they will be encouraged in the McCain campaign. If you're the Romney campaign, you're looking right here for more votes and right here for more votes as they count them. And you hope to best McCain out here in conservative country. Long way to go in...


BLITZER: Is it too simplistic, John, to say that Huckabee was challenging votes with Romney, and Giuliani was challenging for votes with McCain?

KING: No question on the latter point, that Rudy Giuliani's drop has been to McCain's benefit. Now, Giuliani was there the whole time, so it's hard to say that Giuliani is costing McCain votes.

It's more that McCain is taking votes from Giuliani. But no question, if John McCain loses the state narrowly, and Rudy Giuliani runs this strong down in Miami-Dade, that could be the difference. Now...

BLITZER: I ask the question because if Rudy Giuliani coming in, let's say, a disappointing third or maybe even fourth, if he were to leave, I assume that, potentially, nationwide, would help John McCain.

KING: Further out, although if Mitt Romney wins tonight and gets the momentum, John McCain poured a lot of money into Florida in the final days to try to keep relative parity with Mitt Romney on television. There is not a lot of money in the McCain bank account leaving Florida. He needs the win because, if Mitt Romney gets that win, he will raise more money. And he's willing to spend more of his own money.

BLITZER: Even if it's a very, very close outcome, this is a winner-take-all state, the Republican delegates.

KING: Absolutely.

BLITZER: Whoever wins, even if they win by one or two votes, even one vote, then that individual, whether it's Romney or McCain, gets all the delegates.


KING: The winner gets 57 delegates. Half of the delegates were penalized from Florida moving up, but the winner gets 57 delegates and the right to say they won the biggest, most diverse ideological, geographical state in an all-Republican Party, which is key to John McCain.

And you mentioned earlier Governor Huckabee. These are counties being won by Governor Huckabee. Again, you're just south of the Georgia border here. These are very small counties. They're and rural counties. This is where you do have an evangelical vote. It will be interesting to look at the exit polls to see who the second choice of Huckabee voters up in that area were.

He could have -- in a very close race -- Huckabee is not doing very well statewide, and he's obviously only winning those two very small rural counties right now -- but, in a very close statewide race -- remember the impact Fred Thompson had in South Carolina -- Governor Huckabee could have an impact up here, Mayor Giuliani down here in the south.

As you watch this, Wolf, we're up to 35 percent. It is up to about 20,000 votes right now. Again, if I'm the Romney campaign, I'm a little worried about this, splitting, essentially tying with John McCain in Orlando, an area that he had hoped to win.

(CROSSTALK) KING: And if you want to see, the non-Cuban Latino vote is centered right here in a Republican primary, John McCain winning just a little tiny bit there. Mitt Romney had Spanish-language radio ads up. Perhaps the late endorsement by Senator Mel Martinez helping John McCain, but again relatively small amount of the population.

So, we have a long way to go...


BLITZER: If our viewers are interested, they can go to and they can watch this unfold county by county. These counties out in the western part of Florida, the Panhandle, they just closed. They just closed at the top of the hour, so they haven't reported yet.


KING: And these votes tend to come in a little late. They're just coming in. And that's important. And again, up here for Governor Romney, he needs to pad everything he can up here in the conservative areas.

BLITZER: This is Miami-Dade County. This is Broward County.

KING: Right.

BLITZER: I'm wondering why Palm Beach County so far hasn't reported anything, because there's a history in Palm Beach County, John, as you and our viewers will remember going back to the year 2000.

KING: We will have no hanging chads.


BLITZER: That's right.

KING: Seven percent of the population, that's a big deal.

BLITZER: That's right.

KING: It's a Democratic county overall, so it's a smaller vote on the Republican side.

But you're right. There's no vote in yet. In a close race statewide, even these counties that are likely to be Democratic in the general election could be decisive in the Republican side.

And again, this is an area where John McCain expects to do well. Over here is where -- this is critical to Governor Romney, and we'll weigh on these counties. In the middle, they're still white. But John McCain running well here, and Tampa is starting to come in, Wolf. As we said earlier, we're waiting for Tampa to come in. Take a quick look over here. Here are the early margins. Hillsborough County is again, almost 6.5 percent of the population. BLITZER: It's only two percent of the red precincts reporting.

KING: Only 12 percent.

BLITZER: Twelve percent.

KING: Yes. Twelve percent. That's a little hidden. Twelve percent in. John McCain, they wanted a little bit more of a margin in Hillsborough County, but given this, that's a pretty decent margin for them right there. Still a long way to go, though, Wolf.

BLITZER: Here's a thought, John, just a thought. If it's really, really close between Romney and McCain and winner gets all, winner take all in Florida, who knows what's going to happen if they want a recount or anything like that. We've been there before. We've done it. We'll watch the course of this night.

KING: Yes, a small margin. We could well have a recount, but we've got a ways to go. We'll see.

BLITZER: We certainly do. All right, John. We're going to be checking back with you very much.

Let me show you what's going on. This is a Hillary Clinton rally that's under way in Davie, Florida. Right now, they're very excited. They were expecting to hear from Hillary Clinton at some point. She'll be speaking there and once she does, we'll definitely going to want to hear what she has to say. She'll be counting this as a big, big win tonight. Once Hillary Clinton goes out there, we're going see what's going on. That's a rally under way for Hillary Clinton, even though there are no delegates at stake because Florida on the Democratic side was stripped of any delegates, because it moved up its primary just as Michigan did, and the Democratic National Committee decided they would not be able to seat delegates at their convention at the end of the summer in Denver.

So that's one of the things that's going on. Despite that, Hillary Clinton will no doubt say, this is a huge win for her. In fact, here she is. She's walking out right now getting ready to speak to her supporters in Florida.

You would think -- you would think that based on this rally and this excitement that they have been campaigning every single day, every single hour. But they were not allowed to actually campaign in Florida under the rules and none of the Democratic candidates did campaign there, but they did go down there from time to time to raise some money. They could do fundraising in Florida, but they couldn't actually go out and campaign. Those were the rules. That's what they said they abided.

She came to Florida after the polls closed, she said, in order to be at this rally because the earlier polls in Florida showed she was going win this contest. You see her there right now with some members of Congress who are up on the stage including Senator Bill Nelson who is up there. While we wait for Hillary Clinton to speak, Anderson Cooper is up at the Ronald Reagan Library in California with the best -- some of the best political team on television.

They're going to say, Anderson, and I just want to let our viewers -- they're going to hear Hillary Clinton say this is a great win for her tonight in Florida. And I don't want to belittle the Florida voters, the Democrats by any means. They went out there, hundreds of thousands of them. They voted in good faith and dare I say, a lot of them had no idea that the delegates would not be seated as a result of this. They wanted to vote. They went and voted and very, very big numbers. And clearly, Hillary Clinton has won that vote in Florida.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: We're certainly going to hear her take on it, her spin on it. Let's get a little bit of the take of the best political team on television. Gloria Borger, should people be taking Hillary Clinton's win seriously in Florida?

GLORIA BORGER, SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I agree with Wolf that lots of Democrats turned out which gives you some sense of the energy of the Democratic Party in this election, because of course, none of the candidates campaigned there. However, this is a talking point for Hillary Clinton. This is not a huge victory. This is not going to give her tremendous momentum going into Super Tuesday. This is a talking point for her.

COOPER: But impressions do matter, and here you have her picture...

BORGER: Right.

COOPER: ... in front of an adoring crowd with the sign, you know, victory, in the state of Florida.



COOPER: And most people aren't paying attention to the details here.

BORGER: Yes. Right. But it's our job to say she's doing that because she does want to have that picture.

COOPER: She needs it.

BORGER: Yes, as somebody after -- particularly after South Carolina. Now, some time down the road, Anderson, if this is contested, she could maybe then say these delegates are mine and you better seek them at the convention.

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I'll tell you what, though. I've now talked to folks on the Democratic Party and they say, look, forget that. We're not going allow that to happen. Something else is important. I think the people of Florida and also Michigan each understand, their leaders failed them. OK. Everybody thought that after Iowa and New Hampshire the race was going to be over so everyone rushed. Obviously, we had no idea this was going to transpire.

You see now why people also wait. Wouldn't it have been interesting had Florida and Michigan gone after February 5th, how amazing in terms of the competition for those delegates, but it was the legislatures and those two states and the governors of those two states, a Republican in Florida and the Democrat in Michigan, they failed the people by moving those primaries up knowing full well the parties had enough.

COOPER: Bill Bennett, the significance of Hillary Clinton's win in Florida?

BILL BENNETT, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I'll pass on that. Could I talk about this other thing as part 118th of the best political team. California, go California is beside of the political team.

This is a monumental event for John McCain. Remember the old story of the lady or the tiger? You know, he opens one door, he gets them out. If he wins this, he is on the road to the nomination. I think it's very hard to stop.

BORGER: But if he loses?

BENNETT: But if he loses, that may be the end although he's ahead in this polling.

COOPER: Just because of the money.

BENNETT: He doesn't have money. He doesn't have money. And then Romney can say, I told you, John McCain could not win in a close primary. He doesn't have the support of conservatives, enough conservatives and Republicans. But if McCain wins, he turns it around and he says, you outspent me nine to one. I was declared dead and I've won and then, that advantage he has in those February 5th states.

COOPER: And then what he reaches -- does he try then to reach out to more conservatives?

BORGER: Oh, you bet.

BENNETT: You bet.

COOPER: In a big way.

BENNETT: That's a big part of the story. You bet. He has to then extend a hand, and he has to hope that enough hands come back.

BORGER: But I think Romney --

COOPER: Does he then also extend the hand, I mean, further to Democrats and independents? I mean...


BENNETT: There you go.

COOPER: ... to win on a national race, doesn't he also have to kind of -- it seems he's only got two hands.

BENNETT: Who? John McCain?


BENNETT: He's been doing fine on the Democrats side.

BORGER: He's hot. But Romney --

BENNETT: He's fine on Hillary Clinton, but he's horrible to Don Rumsfeld.

BORGER: Right.

BENNETT: And I know Don Rumsfeld, a favorite whipping boy, but what conservatives say is could you give some of this juice to, you know, so the people who disagree with us on everything. The attacks always seem to be on Republicans. That's the complaint.

BORGER: Anderson, if McCain does not win tonight, I think he really runs out of money and has a hard time staying in and doing well, but Romney can go on forever. He can write himself a check.


COOPER: Because they're running out of money and running out of money. And Mike Huckabee, you know, seemed to run out of money a long time ago, he's still around.

BORGER: And McCain will continue.

BENNETT: He just doesn't know it.

BORGER: But it's very difficult for McCain.

MARTIN: What is also interesting about that is this whole notion of McCain and Romney. I'm just very surprised or hear this conservatives basking. And Mitt Romney -- the guy is a fake conservative. I mean, he had to spend a lot of time trying to convince people, no, I really am against abortion now. I really am against gay marriage, so I find it interesting the biggest conservative --


BENNETT: How do you know he's a fake conservative?

MARTIN: Well, who was the conservative longer?

BENNETT: You can't -- well. All right. Longer.

MARTIN: And he's been consistent.

BENNETT: He's been very consistent about taxes. He's been very consist on the policies.

BORGER: OK, boys, break it up.

BENNETT: No, but I mean -- you know, he's a fake conservative. You don't know that.

People change their mind. They change their positions. He was honest about changing his positions. John McCain has changed his positions, too.

COOPER: We're going to take a short break, and our coverage continues in just a moment. You can follow online, even during commercial breaks as the results come in. As we're watching the numbers come in, you can watch them, too, online, We'll be right back.


BLITZER: Senator Hillary Clinton is about to speak at a rally in Davie, Florida. We'll go there shortly, but let's update you on what's happening in the Republican presidential primary in Florida right now. With 39 percent of the precincts reporting, John McCain with 34 percent to Mitt Romney's 32 percent. Rudy Giuliani for him, a very disappointing 15 percent so far. Mike Huckabee, 14 percent.

Let's take a look and see how many people are voting so far. Remember, under 40 percent of the precincts reporting, McCain with just more than 368,000 votes. Mitt Romney just more than 342,000. Rudy Giuliani down at 164,500. Mike Huckabee, 144,600 or so. Ron Paul with 33,556 votes. Once again, 39 percent of the vote. Thirty- nine percent of the precincts in Florida have now reported. We'll update you on this. It's a close race.

Now, let's go find out why this is emerging as such a close race on the Republican side. Soledad O'Brien and Bill Schneider are here. We can't project a winner yet based on the exit polls that we've done or on the actual numbers that have come in, Soledad.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: It is too close to call at this point. So the $64,000 question here is, but why is it so close? And I think you can find the answer in that as you look more closely at some of these exit poll questions. So let's start first with those who said economy is their top issue. What did you see?

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: This was the top issue. This was where all the fighting was about, and here is an enormous surprise. Look at this. Among voters who said the top issue was the economy, McCain, snatched it away from Mitt Romney. Mitt Romney always advertised himself as the better candidate on the economy. He had business experience. He had run a state. But look, it didn't pay off for him enough. McCain topped him on managing the economy, and that was an issue McCain, by his own acknowledgement, said wasn't his specialty.

O'BRIEN: Yes, he was sort of quoted on that. It wasn't exactly where he was the most comfortable. Then you have this split.

SCHNEIDER: Yes. O'BRIEN: The conservative, moderate split and that plays a role, too.

SCHNEIDER: Yes. Well, conservatives are the base of the Republican Party. They were the majority of the voters in Florida today, and Mitt Romney dominated that category. That's why he's doing so well, 37 percent for Romney. McCain does respectably, 27 percent. Mike Huckabee, this has got to be a big disappointment because he's a true conservative on social issues and many other issues. Not so much on economics, but he's doing very poorly in that conservative category. Mitt Romney is dominating it. If McCain wins the Florida primary, he will have won without carrying the base of the Republican Party, the conservative voters.

O'BRIEN: Speaking of doing poorly, let's look at Rudy Giuliani's numbers when you're talking about moderates.

SCHNEIDER: Moderate Republicans -- there are a good number of Republican primary voters, about 40 percent. McCain dominated this race and no Republican wants to be called a moderate. I once called a Republican candidate a moderate, and he -- I caught the devil from him. He said don't call me such things. It's a terrible word. They all want to be called conservatives.

Well, this is the problem. McCain dominated the moderate category leading Mitt Romney in that group by almost two to one. Of course, Mike Huckabee is not doing very well at all. We don't show Rudy Giuliani here, but Rudy Giuliani also did poorly among the moderate Republican category where he might have been competitive with John McCain. But McCain, whether he wanted to or not, dominated moderate Republicans.

O'BRIEN: So it's kind of a long answer, Wolf, to your question. Why is it so close? Because you had people stealing from other people's categories where they were comfortable and confident.


O'BRIEN: And that's why you're seeing what you're seeing.

BLITZER: Fascinating numbers. I know you're going through a lot more of this exit polls. Guys, thanks very much.

I want to go to Davie, Florida. Hillary Clinton is now speaking to her supporters. She's won this Democratic presidential primary even though no delegates will be accorded to her in Denver.

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This has been a record turnout because Floridians wanted their voices to be heard on the great issues that affect our country and the world. I am thrilled to have had this vote of confidence that you have given me today, and I promise you I will do everything I can to make sure not only are Florida's Democratic delegates seated, but Florida is in the winning column for the Democrats in 2008.

I want to thank my friends, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Congressman Alcee Hastings, Mayor Manny Diaz and my great friend of so many years, Senator Bill Nelson. You know, this has been an intense election because people really care about what's happening to our country. So many of the people who talk to me every single day are worried about the economy. They're worried about their health care. They're worried about their college education for their children. They're worried about whether we can restore our leadership and standing in the world. Well, I am convinced that with this resounding vote with the millions of Americans who will vote next Tuesday, we will send a clear message that America is back and we're going to take charge of our destiny again.

I am so grateful to the countless Floridians who on their own organized, worked hard, talked to your friends and your neighbors. You made a very big difference and we know that as we move forward in this campaign, all of your voices will go with me because I am not only going to take my 35 years of experience to the White House, I'm going to take your voices, your concerns, your hopes, your dreams.

We have -- we have a lot of tough decisions to make, but we're Americans. We can make these decisions. We can meet our challenges and seize our opportunities. If we start acting like Americans again, we roll up our sleeves, we set about solving our problems. And I want to ask you, do you agree with me? Because here is what I believe. I believe everyone who works full time in America should bring home an income that lifts that person out of poverty and gives them and their children a better chance. I believe that every --

BLITZER: All right. Hillary Clinton declaring her victory in the Democratic presidential primary in Florida, as you can see right there, Davie, Florida, she won impressively in Florida right now. Unfortunately for her, she's not going to get delegates because the Democratic National Committee decided that because Florida had moved up its primary they were not going to be given any delegates at the Democratic Convention in Denver at the end of the summer. But still a victory for Hillary Clinton in Florida right now, and she's speaking to her supporters.

We're going to be speaking, by the way, with Senator Clinton later tonight as our coverage continues. If you want to continue to watch Senator Clinton at this rally, by the way, in Davie, Florida, you go to and we're streaming it live there as well. On, you can also go county by county by county in Florida to see what the Republicans are up to right now. We cannot yet project a winner among the Republicans. There's a competition under way for first place right now between Mitt Romney and John McCain.

We're watching that very closely, but I want to go to our Suzanne Malveaux. She's at an Obama rally, at least outside of an Obama rally out in Kansas City, Missouri. Missouri being one of those Super Tuesday states a week from today. What exactly are the Obama people saying about Hillary Clinton's win in Florida, Suzanne?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, they're really kind of laughing at it. They are looking at the victory rally, and they see it that this is really a hollow victory. They also asked about the numbers, the breakdown here. Obama performing very well with African-Americans, but significantly, not doing as well as Hillary Clinton when it comes to women, to whites, Latino community -- very important voting groups that Obama needs.

And Bill Burton, one of the spokesmen of the Obama camp saying the exit polling numbers are completely meaningless. There was no campaign and no way to analyze what's inside the numbers. He said we are still winning with pledged delegates. We're campaigning for those February 5th states that will award the delegates right now. They are quite frustrated with this kind of picture of a victory here because they say, look, there really wasn't any campaign to begin with in Florida.

Obviously, they are looking at those numbers but they are saying that this doesn't really mean anything because they didn't have a chance. Nobody had a chance really to present themselves. They say Hillary Clinton has name recognition that Obama doesn't have. If they had an equal shot at this that perhaps those numbers would look different, Wolf.

BLITZER: Thanks very much, Suzanne. We'll be getting back with you throughout the night. At the bottom of your screen over here, you are seeing Rudy Giuliani headquarters down in Florida. These are not a bunch of happy campers as you can see. Right now, not even all that many of them, but we're expecting to hear from Rudy Giuliani momentarily. Once he speaks to his supporters, we'll go there live. We'll hear what the former New York City mayor has to say.

We're watching all of this, all of this very closely. Remember, the results are changing moment by moment on the Republican side. You can track everything what's going on, That's the place to go. Much more of our coverage coming up from the CNN Election Center including Rudy Giuliani's speech. That's coming up to his supporters. We'll see what he has to say.

He's not going to come in first. He's not going to come in second. Maybe, he'll come in third. A very, very disappointing night for the former New York mayor. We'll be right back.


BLITZER: A very disappointing night for Rudy Giuliani. He will not win. He will not come in second in Florida. We're standing by to hear what the former New York mayor has to say. We'll go to his headquarters in Florida shortly. Let's update you on what we know right now on the Republican presidential primary.

With almost half of the precincts reporting, 46 percent reporting John McCain maintaining his lead, 35 percent to Mitt Romney's 32 percent. Giuliani at 16 percent, Mike Huckabee at 13 percent. If you take a look at the actual numbers, the tally that's come in, 404,000 for McCain, 366,000 for Romney, 177,000 for Giuliani, Mike Huckabee, 153,000 or so, Ron Paul, 36,000.

Fifty-seven delegates are at stake for the Republicans in Florida right now. This is Rudy Giuliani headquarters down in Florida right now. You see the Rudy sign up there. You see a few of his supporters, not very many. Sort of not all that crowded, pretty empty in fact for Rudy Giuliani right now. It's a huge disappointment. He was hoping, of course, that he would win, but that is not happening. Mike Huckabee, by the way, has not done all that well in Florida either. I think he's speaking to his reporters. Let's listen in briefly.

MIKE HUCKABEE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's about 50 miles an hour winds and snow out here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's warm in here.

HUCKABEE: I wish that I had brought the Florida weather with me today. I think we would all enjoy that very much. Well, I think we're all aware that the situation in Florida is that we're going to be in a position looking at either third or fourth. Now, for those of you that think that I should be discouraged, let me just remind you that going into tonight we were second in delegate count and more importantly, we're playing all nine innings of this ball game.


HUCKABEE: Even the Cardinals occasionally have a rough inning. But they know how to win championships.


HUCKABEE: But I want to express to you is next week when we're going to be in Missouri, in Oklahoma, in Arkansas, in Tennessee, in Alabama, and Georgia and all of these states where we're leading in the polls, and we're still going to be leading next week, we're going have a great opportunity to start taking it all the way home to the nomination and to the White House. And it's going to happen because of Missouri next week and we appreciate the great support we're getting.

I want to say thanks to the people of Florida. You know, there's going to be probably before it's over, maybe the 300,000 people down there who work their hearts out for us. And those people, I can't tell you how proud I am of them because they had no resources. Others have spent millions and millions of dollars. We knew that we wouldn't have those kind of resources to play there. So we went out there and just worked with people who would come out and put their own signs out, buy their own t-shirts and hats.

A lady in Pensacola, she and her daughter put out 700 signs just the two of them in one day. Unbelievable. And that's the kind of thing that's happening across this country with our campaign that a lot of people still haven't figured out. And when you look at what we have done with what we have, it's a remarkable story that is not even close to being over. In fact, we'd like to believe we're just really getting started.

There are some great folks down there, our chairman, Senator Daniel Webster, and our co-chairman House Speaker Marco Rubio, and a host of great Floridians who have been extremely dedicated to our task. I don't want them to feel discouraged. I want them, instead, to feel very proud of their effort and be as half as proud of their effort as I am of them and the wonderful work that they've done for us.

I know it's a little tight in this room. We really anticipated that we might have 100 people. We thought that about half of this would be enough, and we did not expect the weather to be this bad. And I don't know if you're coming here because you're escaping the cold and the heat's out in your house, but because of the weather we've got to get to California tonight so our exit will be a little quicker than we had wanted it to be. And I apologize in advance of that, but I'm sure you understand that we've got to be at the Reagan Library tomorrow night. So we're flying out as soon as we leave here, headed to California, because I'm going to be on that stage tomorrow night.

I'm not sure everybody is going to be there, but I will be. And I need you here in Missouri to join with us in being a part of a wonderful volunteer army across this country who believes that it would be a better America if we did not have the IRS making it tougher on us. And believe there would be a better America if we did stand up for human life. And that it would be a better America if we actually sealed our borders and became energy independent. And that it would be a better America if we have a country that once again believed in its future and believed that it's not so much just about Democrats versus Republicans, and the left versus the right, and liberals versus conservatives, it's about Americans building a better future for their kids and their grandkids and taking this country up and not down.

And that's why people are with us, and across this country we're finding homemakers and truck drivers and people who wait tables, as well as folks who work in the lines at the factories, and people who run their own businesses. And I want to be the president who reminds America that that small business owner out there every day working hard and taking risks is the person that ought to believe that his government is going to be out there to under gird, not undermine, his every move.


HUCKABEE: And we're going to make sure that happens in this country.


HUCKABEE: And you're going to help be a part of that.


HUCKABEE: I wish we had cooked food for all of you.


HUCKABEE: I bet right now you're wishing it, too.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fried chicken. HUCKABEE: Fried chicken.


HUCKABEE: I gave it up a few years ago. But I do know how to eat it if I ever get it. That's right. I want to again express my thanks to Ray Wagner and all of the folks here in Missouri who have been working with us, Jeff Roe and so many others, who have just helped us have great confidence that between now and seven days from now, there's going to be something that we'll all be shouting about. And it won't just be a Missouri victory, but also, that same night, there'll be one in Georgia and Alabama and Tennessee. And there will be one in Arkansas and Oklahoma -- and maybe a few other places that people aren't even expecting it to happen.

Thank you folks for being here. God bless every one of you. Pray hard, work hard, get the votes out. Remember this -- if they're going vote for me, make sure they come. If they're not, don't let them out of their driveway.

Thank you, folks.

God bless you.

Thank you.


BLITZER: All right, Mike Huckabee making it clear he's not dropping out of this race, by any means. He says he's in it. These are still the early innings, he says, and he's going to go all nine innings. He'll be at the CNN debate at the Reagan Library tomorrow night.

Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor -- he's part of this contest, despite coming in perhaps third or fourth, depending on the actual turnout.

Let's take a look and see what we know right now. Almost 50 percent of the precincts have reported -- 47 percent to be precise. McCain maintaining his lead. It's been pretty consistent for some time now, with 35 percent to 32 percent for Mitt Romney, 15 percent for Giuliani, and 14 percent for Huckabee.

Let's go to Anderson Cooper. He's out at the Ronald Reagan Library with the best political team on television.

A huge disappointment for Rudy Giuliani. We're waiting, Anderson, to hear from him shortly. He's going to be speaking to some supporters. You saw that room, though. It was not very active and certainly was not very crowded.

COOPER: Yes, certainly not the scene Rudy Giuliani had wanted when he began that campaign, though.

Also, the question, we know Governor Huckabee is going to be here on this stage with us tomorrow night.

The question is will Rudy Giuliani?

Gloria Borger, you've been making some calls. Your thoughts.

What have you heard?

What are you thinking?

BORGER: Well, there is a report tonight that just came out that says Rudy Giuliani could endorse John McCain as early as Wednesday. That's something we were talking about earlier.

I just spoke with a senior adviser to John McCain, who would not confirm that, but did not deny it either -- Anderson.

COOPER: And, Bill, I mean that's what you guessed, basically shortly (INAUDIBLE)...

BENNETT: That's what I guessed. That's what I think. It has to do with Giuliani's real regard for McCain. And I don't think there's love lost between him and Romney. So, to maximize it, I think he'd do it soon.

Can I comment on the Obama thing?


BENNETT: I think that he -- you know, you've got, I guess, Wolf, moderating that debate Thursday night. That's really going to be something. You know, Obama has shown himself -- this is my opinion -- shown himself to be certainly smart enough, charming enough, eloquent enough to be president.

Is he tough enough?

This was an ambush in Florida. This was not a competition. This was not supposed to be a competition. When I was in Texas, you had these things called Aggie jokes. And one of the Aggie jokes was Texas...

MARTIN: Hey, hey, hey. Class of '91.

BENNETT: All right. Equal time.

MARTIN: Texas A&M.


BENNETT: I'll flip it around. It's Longhorn jokes. Texas A&M and Texas playing a football. Texas doesn't show up and 30 minutes later, the Aggies score a touchdown, OK?

There was no field here. There was no competition...

MARTIN: Right. BENNETT: There were no teams and she is declaring victory. Now he has to -- I know he's got this elegant style and it's terrific, but he is in a -- I don't want to say it on TV -- a match with people who play very hard ball. And he needs to show that he can stand up to it I think even more than he did in that last debate.

This was no victory and he's got to do something more than be derisive and laugh about it.

COOPER: On the story of Rudy Giuliani, let's check in with Dana Bash, who has been talking to some folks, doing some reporting.

She I'd down in Florida -- Dana, what are you hearing?

DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, what I'm told from a Republican source, Anderson, familiar with discussions is that there are discussions. And that is the headline. There are discussions, we are told, that have been ongoing between Rick Davis -- he is John McCain's campaign manager -- and some people inside Rudy Giuliani's camp.

Now what I am told by this source familiar with these discussions is that they have been ongoing. But as of about an hour ago, nothing had really gelled yet. They were hoping to get some kind of endorsement from Rudy Giuliani, perhaps as early as tomorrow, as is being reported. But what I am told is that it's not 100 percent sealed yet. But the headline is we are told that these discussions are intensely going on to try to get Rudy Giuliani's endorsement for John McCain.

And as you've been talking about all night, these are two men, who have been very good friends, who have known each other for quite some time. They campaigned together for George W. Bush in the last election. They campaigned for Congressional candidates together. So they really are quite close and call each other friends.

There have been some interesting moments that have, frankly, been a little bit surprising as it has gotten kind of intense, where John McCain has said -- questioned Rudy Giuliani's experience when it comes to security. He kind of pulled back from that sort of fast. But for the most part, between these two men, even though it has been intense at times between all of these Republican rivals, they have kept a pretty good friendship.

So, again, we're going to wait and see what happens. Obviously, this is a very sensitive thing because of their friendship and because of, as you can imagine, the respect that John McCain wants to have for Rudy Giuliani because it's not an easy night for Rudy Giuliani tonight -- Anderson.

COOPER: That's -- that is the headline from Dana Bash, that talks, discussions have been underway.

I want to check in with John King -- John, what will that look like beyond just an endorsement?

Will Rudy Giuliani go out on the campaign trail for John McCain in the next weeks and months?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That is one of the key questions, Anderson. And let me back up Dana's reporting. She said she had a source from the McCain side of the equation. I just got off the phone with a Republican source I can identify only as very close to the Giuliani operation, someone who has been receiving information on these same conversations. So we now have it from the McCain side and the Giuliani side that these conversations are underway.

This person described it to me as ongoing conversations to try to bring this about as early as tomorrow in California. Not a done deal as yet. We are expecting a conversation at some point between Senator McCain and Mayor Giuliani.

And based on my last conversation, just a few moments ago, and based on Dana's reporting, we don't know that that conversation and do not believe that conversation has happened as yet.

As Dana noted, Rudy has said from day one that if he were not running for president, he would be supporting Senator McCain.

The question now is what role would he have in the campaign?

And, again, we are being told, though, to look for this to happen out in California.

If you look at our latest poll in California, there's McCain on top with about a 12, 13-point lead over Governor Romney; Rudy Giuliani running in third place. Both are friendly with the governor. Both Giuliani and McCain are friendly with the governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Look for him possibly to have a role in this campaign at some point, as well.

But, again, we should let the negotiations continue. But all indications are that the conversations are underway and we are told they are positive, productive conversations about bringing about a Giuliani endorsement, Anderson, as early as tomorrow out where you are in California.

COOPER: Well, John, let me ask you, any chance he'll do it on the stage here in the middle of our debate?

KING: Well, I bet you could turn to Governor Romney and Governor Huckabee and ask them what they think of the impact. I suspect Senator McCain would have a different answer than the two rivals.


KING: I suspect not. Our indications are that they plan to do this during the daytime. Obviously, we're still -- they're very sensitive negotiations, as Dana said. So we need to keep track of them. And these things can collapse, especially when sensitive source conversations are being reported in public.

So we'll have to keep track of it in the hours ahead. But all indications are that this will happen and that it will happen some time tomorrow in California.

COOPER: Fascinating stuff. Now we're getting it from all different sides. Dana Bash is reporting, Gloria Borger and John King -- John King, you're at the board right now. Looking at the board, a lot of deep red there.

Why can we not call this race at this point?

KING: Well, Anderson, if you're looking at this board and you're in the McCain campaign, you are very encouraged. If you're looking at this board and you're in the Romney camp, you are increasingly discouraged.

But we cannot call it yet for a number of reasons. And let's look at them.

Here -- up here in the Jacksonville area, Duval County, is one of the areas where Governor Romney is running well. Still only 24 percent of the vote in there. So we want to -- we want more vote counts up here, where he's -- in the conservative part up here, where the darker red. That is Governor Romney.

Down here in Orlando, though, 91 percent reporting. Essentially a tie -- Romney just barely winning in Orlando. That is way below the performance levels the Romney campaign said they needed.

And this is the key area right here. Governor Romney ran heavy advertising all across the state. He spent about 10 times what Senator McCain spent on advertising, especially in the Orlando market and the Tampa market.

But if you look into this market right here -- I want to clear this out and pull this out. Hillsborough County, about 6 percent of the population, Senator McCain running ahead by 6 points right now, with 32 percent reporting. If that number holds as we get up into 60 and 70 percent, it's very hard to see Governor Romney winning the state -- especially -- let's come out to Pinellas County, as well, along western coast. Only 18 percent in here, a smaller gap. But, again, Senator McCain running about 6 percentage points ahead of Governor Romney.

If those numbers hold as the vote comes in, it gets very hard to see Governor Romney pulling it off, because Senator McCain is winning, Anderson, all across the Panhandle, which is a surprise -- including out in Pensacola. That is where John McCain trained to be a Navy pilot. The first results just coming in out there. It's a very small county, but John McCain is winning it by a sizable margin so far. Fifteen percent of the vote in.

So in these areas, Anderson, where we still have the preliminary votes, in the teens, perhaps in the 20 percent, we need to look at it a little bit longer, because overall the margin is still about 50,000 votes between the two gentlemen. But the McCain lead is growing and we are still waiting for results from where the people are.

Down here in Miami-Dade, up to 60 percent now. Look at that, Senator McCain getting almost half the vote in Miami-Dade County. Governor Romney running in third place. Move up a little bit to Broward County. Senator McCain getting 40 percent to 24 percent. It is actually -- well, Rudy Giuliani has slipped to third place there. And we're still waiting on Palm Beach County right here, 7 percent of the state population. Nothing in as yet.

But if you look at the entire coast, it's a pretty safe bet -- based on everything we've seen along the coast here, that that, too, will be McCain country.

So if you are Governor Romney, you need more votes to come in up in the conservative areas of the state. Let's clear that and pull this out. Up in here is where Governor Romney needs the votes to come in and he needs to turn things around here in the Tampa area, Anderson.

So we'll check back in as the vote totals mount, especially out here in Hillsborough and over here. And, again, this is striking -- right here in the center part of the state. This was supposed to be Romney country. And you can see he's winning Orlando, but just barely. Senator McCain right now leading in Tampa, leading along the coast in St. Petersburg, leading down in Sarasota. So if these numbers hold, it looks like John McCain would win the state narrowly. But, again, we need to see more votes come in in those areas.

But at the moment, if you're watching this from the McCain camp, you are encouraged. But still some vote counting to do, especially in these populated areas. Up to 42 percent now, though, in Hillsborough County -- Anderson.

COOPER: And two points to make. If you want to follow along at home county by county, That's the site for that.

Also, we are anticipating comments from Rudy Giuliani shortly. We, of course, will bring those to you live. We'll be very curious to hear what he has to say tonight. Already, based on reporting from Gloria Borger, from John King, from Dana Bash, from multiple sources, hearing that he may be endorsing John McCain as early as tomorrow. We have our eye on Giuliani headquarters.

We'll be -- we have a -- we can now project -- let's take a brief pause.

BLITZER: CNN is now ready to project that John McCain is the winner -- is the winner of the Florida Republican primary.

John McCain, the war hero, who spent almost six years -- more than five years as a POW in Vietnam, the long time Senator from Arizona. An important win for John McCain in Florida right now, beating Mitt Romney.

John McCain needed this win badly and he has emerged, according to our projections -- based on the exit polls, as well as the actual votes that have been tallied so far. More than 50 percent of the precincts have reported and CNN -- CNN can now project that John McCain will beat Mitt Romney, will emerge tonight as the winner of the Republican presidential primary. Let's go to Dana Bash.

She's been covering this story for us.

She's at the McCain headquarters -- 54 percent, Dana, of the precincts have now reported, 36 percent for McCain, 32 percent for Romney. But this is a win. This is a badly needed and impressive win for John McCain tonight. He will go forward one week from today to Super Tuesday with a big win in the State of Florida.

BASH: You know, talking to John McCain's advisers before this, they said if John McCain wins, he is "unstoppable" as he heads into the Super Tuesday primary states. And certainly, you can imagine, that is a thing that makes them feel incredibly good here tonight, because of the fact that they understood that they wanted to be cautious, even though he did very well. He won New Hampshire. He won the State of South Carolina. He would not use the "F" word, so to speak -- frontrunner -- to describe himself, because they understood how crucial this State of Florida was, for so many reasons.

Obviously, just because of the numbers -- 57 delegates at stake here. But because of the fact that John McCain has had to prove, even with those couple of wins, that he is somebody who doesn't just appeal to moderates, doesn't just appeal to Independents. He had to prove that he can do well in a very diverse state, like the State of Florida, among just Republicans. And that's what this win here in Florida gives John McCain.

I can tell you, it didn't come easy, Wolf. As you note, he and Mitt Romney have been at each other for the past 48 hours and even more in a very intense, very personal way -- not just what we saw on the stump. I can tell you that, you know, talk about some negative campaigning. John McCain's campaign, they approved and paid for some phone calls to go to voters about Mitt Romney's record, saying that he supported taxpayer-funded abortion. We know that he had some pretty tough radio ads just in the past couple of days about Mitt Romney on the economy.

So this was -- this was a hard fought win. The McCain campaign does not have a lot of money, but they spent a lot of money and it seems to have paid off here in the State of Florida -- (INAUDIBLE) Wolf.

BLITZER: And there's no doubt a win in Florida. This win will certainly help John McCain, looking ahead to next Tuesday -- Super Tuesday, as it's called. He'll get some money as a result of this. The fundraisers will be active.

Dana, stand by.

As soon as we hear from Senator McCain -- I assume at one point, he'll be walking out there -- we'll bring those remarks live to our viewers.

All right, let's bring in Soledad O'Brien and Bill Schneider.

You're looking at the exit polls.

Tell us how John McCain did it tonight.

We project John McCain beats Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani and Mike Huckabee and he will capture the Republican presidential primary in Florida.

O'BRIEN: You can look more closely at the exit polls to really figure out where his support was, why did he win, why was he able to pull it off.

So let's go first and foremost to where he had a lot of support, and that was seniors helped him out in a big, big way.

SCHNEIDER: He is a senior, they his peeps.


SCHNEIDER: He is over 70-years-old and the vote -- that's a big part of the vote in the Republican primary in Florida. It's about half the voters. Take a look at this. He dominated the senior vote. Voters 65 and older, 38 percent for McCain, 31 percent for Romney, with Giuliani trailing.

O'BRIEN: Cubanos went for John McCain.

SCHNEIDER: Cubanos, the Cubans, just 7 percent of the Republican primary, but they're a very influential group and they voted very strongly for John McCain. He was endorsed by Mel Martinez, a Cuban- American senator, by three Cuban-American members of Congress. And look at this. John McCain clearly dominated the Cuban-American vote by a big margin -- 50 percent for McCain, 34 for Giuliani. Romney came in terribly among Cuban-Americans -- just 10 percent. It could be the flip-flop on abortion. We don't know.

O'BRIEN: Well, it's -- yes, I think that actually might have a lot to do with it. If you look at veterans, where I would have thought McCain would be way out in front, the numbers are actually kind of close.

SCHNEIDER: They are kind of close. The veterans vote, which McCain tried to appeal to very, very strongly, went for McCain, but by a narrow margin -- McCain, 40; Romney, 35; with Giuliani trailing. This was a McCain vote, but it wasn't as big as he might have expected.

A couple of things about McCain's vote, though, that were really very striking. One is, as in other states, McCain's vote was personal. The voters said they were voting for him personally -- it wasn't values, it wasn't issues. And this is yet another state that McCain has won without carrying conservatives, without carrying the Republican Party's base. That's very important for him as he goes along the road trying to get that nomination.

O'BRIEN: Bill Bennett said tomorrow he starts reaching out the hand. And, as Anderson said, well, he's only got two hands. He's got to start handing them out and really reaching out to get conservatives or he's going to be in deep, deep trouble.

SCHNEIDER: He hasn't carried conservatives yet.

O'BRIEN: Wolf, the other side of that question is why did Giuliani fail?

We're going to take look at that a little bit later.

BLITZER: All right. Good. Good tease. And we'll get back to you. I know you're crunching all of the numbers, Soledad and Bill.

Thanks very, very much.

Once again, CNN has projected that John McCain, the senator from Arizona, the winner -- the winner tonight in the Republican presidential primary. With 58 percent of the actual votes now recorded, the precincts recorded 36 percent for McCain, 32 percent for Romney, 15 percent for Giuliani, 13 percent for Huckabee. But a win is a win is a win and congratulations to John McCain for a win tonight.

Anderson Cooper is watching all of this, together with some of the best political team on television.

I think he can breathe a little bit -- he can breathe a lot easier right now that he's captured the Republican primary in Florida.

COOPER: And what an extraordinary win when you consider a couple of months ago, he was walking through the airport carrying his own bags after, you know, his campaign had -- financially at least -- imploded. A remarkable night.

BENNETT: Well, he almost died in a prison camp in Hanoi.

COOPER: I know and so...

BENNETT: So this was nothing, you know?

No, but he was -- he was compared -- described as politically dead and he came back from a dogged determination. He said we just keep going, we just keep plowing ahead. But look at that. Look at the big numbers. He has won in the competitive states -- South Carolina, New Hampshire, Florida. He has got the most delegates. He goes in with lead in Super Tuesday. This is the most important event in the political primaries for Republicans. He is likely on his way to the nomination.

But he has got -- back to the two hands you and Soledad were talking about. He has got to mend his fences with conservatives, because now you do not want a convention when there are a lot of unhappy people. He's really got to reach out. And then he can do -- he can do fine in the general, since six or seven or eight of his issues are not part of the concern of the orthodoxy (ph).

COOPER: Amazing, Gloria Borger, when you look at some of those exit polls, that among -- on the economy, McCain got more voters than Mitt Romney, 38 to 32 (INAUDIBLE). BORGER: You know, it's interesting. That's right. It's interesting about John McCain. His support is about his character. His support is personal. His support is about who John McCain is. And remember, long ago he -- in 2000, he was the original maverick. Then he became the establishment candidate of the Republican Party. That didn't work out so well for him. So he went back to being the maverick. That did work.

And now, of course, he's on his way to being the establishment again. But this is a fellow, while he's changed in that sense, his ideals have always been solid. This notion -- he always polls well.

When you ask voters do you believe what he says?

This is the candidate in the Republican field who always does the best on that question.

COOPER: I just want to tell our viewers, we are showing you, on the right side of the screen there on the big board, Rudy Giuliani. We will bring you his comments.

Let's listen in.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's not over until it's over.


GIULIANI: I think that comes from the great American philosopher Yogi Berra, right?


GIULIANI: It's not over until it's over.

Well, thank you all for your hard work, your spirit and your support.

A New York Republican named Teddy Roosevelt once said, "aggressive fighting for the right is the noblest sport the world affords." Like most Americans, I love competition. I don't back down from a principled fight. But there must always be a larger purpose -- justice for an individual, hope for a city, a better future for our country.

Elections are about a lot more than just candidates. Elections are about fighting for a cause larger than ourselves. They're about identifying the great challenges of our time and proposing new solutions. Most of all, they're about handing our nation to the next generation better than it was handed to us.

This is our opportunity and this is our obligation as American citizens.

(APPLAUSE) GIULIANI: So you have participated in that process, particularly the young people that are here. And you should be very proud of your participation in that process. You are making...


GIULIANI: You are making your state and your country better.

I want to congratulate each of my opponents on a hard fought campaign here in Florida. I want to congratulate Senator McCain who, I believe, has been declared the winner. I spoke to Mitt Romney and told him my regard for him, as well. These are honorable people. They're accomplished public servants and they're good men. And we should -- as well as Mike Huckabee. So let's applaud them all.


GIULIANI: They're our opponents...


GIULIANI: ...and Ron Paul, who...


GIULIANI: ...who won all the debates.


GIULIANI: ...on that thing where you call in all the time. I used to watch it afterward at night, when I'd go back to my room. And Ron Paul would win all the debates.

But they are truly all honorable -- honorable people, honorable men who are fighting for what they believe in. They have different strengths. They have different things to contribute, like I do. And I believe that our party will be stronger as a result of the competition that we're going through.

But win or lose, our work is not done, because leaders dream of a better future and then they help to bring it into reality.


GIULIANI: The responsibility of leadership doesn't end with a single campaign. If you believe in a cause, it goes on and you continue to fight for it. And we will.


GIULIANI: I'm proud that we chose to stay positive and to run a campaign of ideas in an era of personal attacks, negative ads and cynical spin. We ran a campaign that was uplifting.

(APPLAUSE) GIULIANI: You don't always win, but you can always try to do it right -- and you did. That's what the American people deserve -- a return to honesty and substance in our political discussion.

I believe that the ideas of our campaign, the 12 Like most Americans, s that we made to the American people when, in New Hampshire, first clearly identify the great challenges of our time.

First, America needs to stay on offense to win the terrorist war on us. It's...


GIULIANI: It's not...


GIULIANI:'s not optional. We can't wish it away. We can't hope it away. It's there. It's a reality. And America must always remember that the best way to achieve peace is through overwhelming strength.


GIULIANI: America also needs to stay on offense to achieve economic security. We need to embrace the global economy, not shrink away from its challenges, but turn them to our advantage. We can compete and we can win through a Like most Americans, to pro-growth policies, like lower taxes, less government spending, reasonable regulations and less lawsuits -- please, less lawsuits.


UNIDENTIFIED SUPPORTERS: Rudy! Rudy! Rudy! Rudy! Rudy!

GIULIANI: Thank you.


GIULIANI: Thank you.

Thank you.



GIULIANI: You sound like my mother.


GIULIANI: If she were here. If she were here. If we unleash the genius of America's free market economy, if we encourage the entrepreneurial spirit, we can create not just a growth economy, but a growth society. I said it many times during the campaign -- America has to be a country in which young people can look up to the sky and they can say the sky is the limit, there is no end to what we can accomplish.


GIULIANI: I hope -- I hope Congress passes our tax bill that was introduced already by David Dreier and by Senator Kit Bond. It would be the largest tax decrease -- tax reduction -- in American history and it would be a one page optional tax form.

Wouldn't that be great to be able to fill it out one page?

Just think...


GIULIANI: Just think of how that would -- just think about how that would stimulate our economy. We have got to strive for energy independence. We have to strive for health care through private options. You know the 12 Like most Americans, s. I think they outline the challenges for America for the next four, eight and 10 years. And I'm very proud that we conducted our campaign around them and around ideas and ideas that will enliven America and that will make America stronger.


GIULIANI: Finally, finally we need to re-establish very, very clearly the idea that the Republican Party -- the party of Lincoln and the party of Reagan and the party of Bush -- that the Republican Party


GIULIANI: ...that the Republican Party is a party that is, and has been from the beginning, when we do it right, when we are on our game, when we're making our contribution, when we're being our contributor to America, we are the party of freedom. We are the party of the people.


GIULIANI: And we're a big party.


GIULIANI: We're a big party. And we're getting bigger. I'm even in this party. This is a big party.


GIULIANI: We understand that America is not great because of our centralized government. America is great because of self-government. It's great because of you, the people. And we believe government works best when it empowers people to take responsibility for their own lives. These are great ideas.

(APPLAUSE) GIULIANI: Whether it's moving people from welfare to work or something that I think our party should be dedicated to -- I think our party should be dedicated to having parents decide the school that their child goes to. You want to reach out for votes in urban America? You want to reach out for votes across all kinds of lines, of different kinds, ethnic, racial religious, then you have an America in which the parent decides the school the child goes to, public, private, parochial, charter or home schooling.

These ideas -- these ideas unite not just Republicans, they unite the vast majority of Americans. And they're the key to building a stronger and broader party. We must be a 50-state Republican party. We must compete in all 50 states. We have to compete for urban, suburban and rural votes, conservatives and moderate, men and women, all races, ethnic groups and religions.

We have answers to help each of them, because our answers are not based on class distinctions or religious distinctions or ethnic or racial or religious distinctions. Our answers are for Americans and they work for all Americans, and we have to reach out to all Americans. That's the way to break through the red state, blue state divide and win the White House and the Congress.

BLITZER: The former mayor of New York speaking to his supporters, a very, very disappointing loss for him tonight. We're going to go over to Mitt Romney headquarters in Florida. He didn't win either. He came in second. Let's listen in to the former governor of Massachusetts.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Now I just got off the phone with Senator McCain and I offered him my congratulations. And I'm sure that you are excited here this evening, but a little disappointed as well. And my guess is when you left your home this evening, you put a son or daughter to bed, and that's probably happening across the country. Moms and dads are putting kids to bed or already have, and they're sleeping peacefully.

They're probably a bit like my grandkids, full of big dreams and plans, excited about every tomorrow. I remember when I was growing up I always knew that America was the greatest nation on Earth. First nation on the moon, our cars and movies and technology were the envy of the entire world, and freedom and opportunity was just like the air; it was everywhere I went.

I believed there was nothing I couldn't do and I knew that there was nothing that America couldn't do, because we led the world. Now America's leadership didn't come without cost. It was won by the greatest generation in the history of the world. They defeated fascism and they built the world's strongest economy.

My mom and dad are gone, as maybe yours are as well. What they and their generation left us is the greatest nation and the history of the entire planet. And now it's our turn. What kind of nation will we leave our children and our grandchildren? We can leave future generations a nation that's even greater than that which we inherited. But to do that, we're going have to overcome a new generation of challenges.

Our world is under attack from violent radical jihadists. Our jobs are being sought by new competitors, countries like Asia (sic) and India. And here at home, our government is spending too much. We're using too much oil. Our health care system leaves a lot of people behind. And our schools are failing way too many. And even our values are under attack.

We look to Washington for leadership, but Washington has failed us. We've asked them to fix illegal immigration. They haven't.

We've asked them to get the tax burden off our families and businesses. They haven't.

We asked them to end our dependence on foreign oil. They haven't.

We is asked them to maintain high ethical standards. They haven't.

We asked them to fix Social Security. They haven't.

We asked them to stop spending money on pork barrel projects and we asked them to balance our budget. They haven't.

We asked them time and time and time again and they just haven't gotten the job done. You see, Washington is fundamentally broken and we're not going to change Washington by sending the same people back just to sit in different chairs.

It's a -- I think it's time for the politicians to leave Washington and for the citizens to take over.

It is time for a change in Washington and here's some of the things we're going do. First, we're going to strengthen our families. We'll make sure that every citizen in our country has affordable health insurance that they can't lose, private, free market insurance, not socialized medicine, not Hillary-care.

We'll make sure our kids have great schools. We'll treat teachers like the professionals they are. And we'll put our kids first and the unions behind.

And to build strong family, we'll teach our kids that before they have babies, they should get married.

So we'll strengthen our families and we'll strengthen our military. We need more troops. We need better funding. We need better equipment and we need better care for our veterans. And let's point out to all those who criticize President Bush that it's thanks to him that we've been safe these last six years.

So strengthen our families and strengthen our military; and finally, we need to strengthen our economy. I've spent my entire life in the real economy. I know why jobs come. I know why they go. I've been doing business in 20 countries around the world. I've run small business and large business. The economy is in my DNA.

Many of the people across our country are worried about their retirement accounts. They wonder if they can pay for the college education of their child. They see their largest asset, their home value, dropping. Some wonder if their job is going to be secure in a new global economy. Americans wonder how they can afford the riding cost of health care and gasoline and taxes.

These are real challenges. At a time like this, America needs a president in the White House who has actually had a job in the real economy.

You see, at a time like this, knowing how America works is more important than knowing how Washington works. The Democrats think that America's greatness flows from our government. They're wrong. The source of America's greatness is the American people. Hard-working, innovative, risk-taking, family-oriented, god-fearing, freedom-loving American people have always been the source of America's greatness and they always will be.

And so the right course for America isn't to strengthen our government, but to strengthen our people and to do that we're going to have to change Washington, and change will begin with us.

This presidential election in November of '08 is not about yesterday, it's about tomorrow. It's not about re-fighting the battles of the past. It's about winning the future for our children and their children and for America.

When you go home tonight and you go and kiss your son or your daughter before you go to sleep, you can promise them that this generation will meet the challenges of our time. That we'll leave them a stronger America and you can tell them to dream big because for the children of America every dream will be possible. Thank you so much! Thank you.

BLITZER: Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, coming in second in the Republican presidential primary tonight in Florida. He's making it clear he's not going anywhere. He's staying in this race. He'll be at the Republican presidential debate tomorrow night that Anderson Cooper is going to be moderating together with the winner of the Republican primary in Florida, John McCain.

Mike Huckabee earlier saying he's on the way as well. He's not dropping out. I assume Ron Paul won't be dropping out. But interestingly enough, from Rudy Giuliani, who did not do well, did not come in first, did not come in second in Florida, we heard him just a little while ago and he was sort of non-committal. He didn't say he was leaving. He didn't say he was coming. He was sort of up in the air right now.

A huge disappointment for Rudy Giuliani as we go forward. He didn't say he's suspending his campaign. He just didn't say what he's doing in the course of his remarks to his supporters, but he did speak on several occasions in the past tense about his campaign, sending, perhaps -- perhaps, a signal about his intention. He always said he was going win Florida. He was going devote his energies to Florida. That didn't happen. He's the loser tonight. John McCain the big winner tonight. Remember, Florida is a state where the winner takes all.

Look at this. The CNN delegate estimate for the state of Florida, 57 total delegates. That's half of what they were supposed to get, but they were stripped of half of their delegates because they moved up their primary. But all 57 of the delegates who were at stake tonight in Florida, all 57, will go to McCain; zero to Romney, zero to Giuliani, zero to Huckabee. Fifty seven delegates, that's an important pickup, a very important pickup for John McCain.

We're waiting to hear from John McCain. He's going to be speaking to his supporters at McCain headquarters. A decisive win right now. We're also going to be speaking to Hillary Clinton. That's coming up here from the CNN Election Center. She won the Democratic presidential primary in Florida tonight, even though she will receive no delegates as a result of that win in Florida.

Much more of our coverage coming up from the CNN Election Center right after this. Don't forget, you can always go to for all the latest information, including live streams of all of the candidates. We'll be right back.


BLITZER: A big win for John McCain tonight in the Florida Republican primary. We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer reporting.

John McCain, the long time senator from Arizona, decisively wins in Florida. Tonight, John McCain wins over Mitt Romney. Right now with 72 percent of the precincts reporting, 36 percent for McCain. He's had a steady lead throughout this evening. Romney with 31 percent, a huge disappointment for Rudy Giuliani with only 15 percent, Mike Huckabee 14 percent; 72 percent of the precincts reporting.

If you want to take a look at the actual numbers that have come in so far, a big win for John McCain; 573,000 to 497,000 or so for Mitt Romney, and Rudy Giuliani 239,000; 212,000 for Mike Huckabee; Ron Paul 50,000.

He's walking in right now with his family, John McCain, to his headquarters down in Miami. There he is with his wife Cindy. They're getting ready to celebrate a win. They needed this win tonight. There's the Governor Charlie Crist, Senator Mel Martinez. They're all there. He got a lot of support from the Republican establishment, including the governor, Charlie Crist, and that was critical.

Senator McCain is going speak to his supporters right now and I want to make sure we get a chance to hear what he has to say. He needed this win to go forward with significant momentum toward next Tuesday's Super Tuesday primaries. He will get all, all of the 57 delegates. Here is Senator McCain. SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you Florida Republicans for bringing a former Florida resident across the finish line first and -- in, as I have been repeatedly reminded lately, an all- Republican primary.

My friends, I've always loved this beautiful state, from the time I was a young naval aviator learning my trade in Pensacola to the time I commanded the largest air squadron in the United States Navy at Cecil (ph) Field. Most -- most of all -- most of all, I've always been indebted to Florida friends and neighbors in Orange Park for taking such good care of my family while I was away -- while I was away on a longer than expected-tour of duty.

Florida has always been a special place to me and it is all the more so tonight. Our victory might not have reached landslide proportions, but it is sweet nonetheless.

My friends, I am deeply grateful -- I am deeply grateful to everyone who worked so hard to make it happen. Time will only allow me to thank a few of our Florida supporters by name, but to everyone who in good times and bad, devoted much time, energy and hope to keeping our candidacy competitive; thank you from the bottom of my heart. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

And thank you, of course, to the great governor of Florida, Governor Charlie Crist.


My dear friend, Senator Mel Martinez, thank you.

To Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Congressmen Lincoln and Mario Diaz-Balart, Representative Marcelo Llorente, Commissioner Mildred Fernandez, Representative Adam Hasner, Senator Durell Peaden -- thank you, Senator Durell Peaden -- Representative Bogdanoff, and Council President Daniel Davis.

And thank you so much to our tremendous -- thank you so much to our tremendous statewide volunteers, leadership who stuck with us for 18 long, very long months. And as always -- and as always, I want to thank my family for their extraordinary support and encouragement. My wife Cindy, daughter Megan and son Doug, and my children who are not here.

It's obvious to me, as it should be to everyone, that I could not have done this without you. My friends, this was a hard-fought election and we're fighting hard for. But I've been on the other side of such contests before, and experienced a disappointment. I offer my best wishes to Governor Romney and his supporters. You fought hard. You fought hard -- you fought hard for your candidate and the margin that separated us tonight surely isn't big enough for me to brag about or for you to despair.

Governor Huckabee and his supporters, as always, brought -- brought to this campaign conviction and passion and something we don't always have enough of in these contests, good humor and grace. Thank you, Governor Huckabee. I want to thank my dear friend -- my dear friend Rudy Giuliani, who invested his heart and soul in this primary and who conducted himself with all the qualities of the exceptional American leader he truly is. Thank you, Rudy. Thank you, Rudy, for all you have added to this race and -- and for being an inspiration to me and millions of Americans.

My friends, in one week -- in one week, we will have as close to a national primary as we've ever had in this country. I intend to win it and be the nominee of our party!

I intend to do that by making it clear what I stand for. I stand for the principles and policies that first attracted me to the Republican party when I heard, in whispered conversations and tap codes, about the then governor of California who stood by me and my comrades and who was making quite a reputation for standing by his convictions no matter the changing political wins or thought in popular culture.

When I left the Navy and entered public life, I enlisted as a foot soldier in the political revolution he began. And I am as proud today to be a Republican conservative as I was then.

I trust in the courage, good sense, resourcefulness and decency of the American people, who deserve a government who trust in their qualities as well and doesn't abrogate to itself the responsibilities to do for the people what the people can and want to do for themselves.

We Republicans have always known that the first responsibility of government is to keep this country safe from all enemies, foreign and domestic. And the American people unburdened by the heavy hand of government that spends too much of their money on things they neither want nor need, while failing to do as well as we should, the things none of us can do individually. Government must defend our nation's security wisely and effectively because the cost of our defense is so dear to us, measured in losses so hard to bear and the heart break of so many families.

Government must respect our values because they are the true source of our strength and enforce the rule of law which distinguishes successful democracies from failed societies, and is the first defense of freedom. And the judges we appoint to federal benches must understand that that is their only responsibility and leave to elected officials their responsibility to make the laws they enforce.

We believe -- we believe government should do only those things we cannot do individually, that tax us no more than necessary and spend no more than necessary, and then get out of the way of the most industrious, ingenious and optimistic people in the history of the world, so that they can build an even greater country than the one they inherited.

My friends, as I said the other week in South Carolina, there's nothing in our country that is inevitable. We can overcome any challenge as long as we keep our courage and stand by the principles that have made our party and our country great. Our party has always been successful when we have, like Ronald Reagan, stood fast by our convictions, and we've only suffered when our allegiance to our principles have not been as steadfast as it should.

I intend to make my stand on those principles and I am confident we will succeed in this contest and in the bigger one in November against -- and the bigger one against any one the Democratic party nominates. Most -- most importantly -- most importantly -- most importantly, I promise you, again, I will always put America, her strength, her ideals, her future, before every other conversation.

Tonight, my friends, we celebrate. Tomorrow, it's back to work. We -- we have a ways to go, but we're getting close. And for that -- and for that -- and for that you all have my profound thanks. Good night and god bless you and god bless America!

Thank you.