Return to Transcripts main page
THE SITUATION ROOM
Who Will Win Super Tuesday?; Interview With Illinois Senator Barack Obama
Aired February 4, 2008 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And, to our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now: Hillary Clinton braces for a split decision on Super Tuesday tomorrow and tries to stay upbeat about a win in the end.
Plus, Barack Obama keeps his options open on a pullout from Iraq. My one-on-one interview with Senator Obama, that's coming up this hour.
And John McCain invades Mitt Romney's turf, a powerful show of his Super Tuesday confidence. But can Romney upset McCain from the right?
I'm Wolf Blitzer at the CNN Election Center, along with the best political team on television. And you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world.
Hillary Clinton is promising supporters that a vote for her on Super Tuesday will put them on the winning team in November. There's no doubt that tomorrow is a huge day on this primary season calendar. There's plenty of uncertainty about where the Democratic race will stand on Wednesday.
Let's bring in our senior political correspondent, Candy Crowley. She's here watching all of this unfold.
All right. What's the Clinton camp's outlook for tomorrow? What are you hearing, Candy.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Outlook cloudy.
Look, both of these campaigns are looking what's ahead tomorrow and figuring they will both live to fight another day.
CROWLEY (voice-over): Regardless of what happens tomorrow, they believe her ace in the hole is the experience factor.
SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: But there are differences between me and my opponent, differences in approach and vision, an understanding of what it's going to take to make the changes that we want. You know, change is hard. I wish it were easy. I wish all we had to do was just say it's going to happen and it would materialize. But it's going to take hard work.
CROWLEY: Camp Clinton concedes Obama is closing in, in the polls. But they toss it off as partly due to Edwards' voters in flux and partly due to this:
SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: The next president of these United States.
CROWLEY: As one Clinton adviser put it, nobody in the country doesn't know that Ted Kennedy endorsed Obama, so he got an uptick. Clinton strategists say they don't expect tomorrow to bring definitive results. They figure her delegate pickup in New York will be offset by his in Illinois, that they will split delegates in the swing states. They are talking already about Ohio, Texas, and, well into April, Pennsylvania.
Today for her it was New York, Massachusetts, and New Haven, Connecticut, where she was introduced by a friend from her law school days.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You will know what needs to be known. You will say what needs to be said. You will do what needs to be done, and you will make our beloved America the great nation for children that we have always dreamed it could be.
CLINTON: I said I would not tear up.
CLINTON: Already, we're not exactly on that path.
CROWLEY: Safe to say that early on, they did not believe this is where they would be on Super Tuesday, but they insist the destination will be the same. As one Clinton source put it, whenever the narrative is driven that Obama will soon be the nominee, there is an experience backlash and voters return to her.
CROWLEY: One little caveat, Wolf: As you know, on election eves, campaigns are all about trying to spin what's going to happen the next day. One of two things is happening here. Either the Clinton campaign is looking at those polls and sensing they won't do that well or they may think they're going to do OK and spinning it that they won't do that well makes the win even better -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Candy, thanks very much -- Candy Crowley reporting for us.
Barack Obama is making a star-studded push into Super Tuesday and he's doing it in Hillary Clinton's own backyard. Let's turn to CNN's Suzanne Malveaux. She is out with the Obama camp right now in Connecticut.
What are they expecting tomorrow, Suzanne?
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, it's interesting. Senator Ted Kennedy is kind of warming up the crowd, as he does with all his stops.
At one point, Barack Obama stood up, thinking that Kennedy was done, that it was his turn. Then he sat back down because Kennedy is still talking.
What they are hoping for this state is that certainly they want to rally the Democratic base. They also want to get free media, local medial from neighboring states, as well as try to win some of those Republicans that gave McCain his victory over Bush in the GOP primary, some of those folks who identify themselves as moderates and even liberals.
MALVEAUX (voice-over): In a race to the finish, where every delegate counts, a fierce fight over a former Clinton stronghold, New Jersey, where 107 delegates are at stake.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: How's it going, New Jersey?
MALVEAUX: His second stop Connecticut, where only 48 delegates are up for grabs. But the state has the highest per capita income in the country. Obama tends to do well among the upper and middle-class voters.
And, an effort to appeal to Republican crossovers and women, three female Democrats elected in red states touted Obama's appeal in "The Wall Street Journal" saying, "He's a nominee who can bring all of us together, push back the special interests, and offer leadership that is honest, open and inspiring."
The Obama camp also using new rap video with star power to reach those critical new young voters, who have turned out in record numbers. Tonight, a big blowout rally in the Democratic stronghold Massachusetts with the gray-haired establishments, Senators John Kerry and Ted Kennedy, passing the torch to new leadership, Massachusetts first black governor, Deval Patrick, and the new hope for the presidency, Barack Obama.
MALVEAUX: And, Wolf, you can see Barack Obama just starting to speak just moments ago before a very enthusiastic crowd.
Already, the Obama campaign trying to lower expectations for Super Tuesday. They say they very much expect that Senator Clinton will win more states and more delegates. But if Obama could come within 100 delegates of Clinton and win some states, they believe they have reached the threshold for success and positioned themselves better to win the nomination -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Suzanne Malveaux in Hartford, Connecticut, thanks very much.
And, coming up, my interview with Barack Obama -- that interview shortly right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
As Republicans made their final push today, John McCain moved into Mitt Romney's own backyard, while Romney headed South into so- called Huckabee territory. They all did some stepping on one another's toes.
Let's go to our chief national correspondent, John King -- John.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, to the McCain campaign, operating behind enemy lines is a sign of strength, but, as the votes are counted late Tuesday in places like Georgia, Oklahoma, and California, the Romney camp is hoping that McCain's visit here instead will be viewed as a foolish gamble.
(voice-over): Historic Faneuil Hall is in Mitt Romney's home turf, this a John McCain show of confidence.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you, all. Thank you for being here.
KING: And a defiant rebuke of Romney and others, who suggest his eagerness to work with Democrats betrays the conservative cause.
MCCAIN: I will preserve my proud conservative Republican credentials, but I will reach across the aisle to the Democrats and work together for the good of this country.
KING: McCain sees a big Super Tuesday in the offing and knows an upset victory here would be devastating to Romney.
MCCAIN: I believe we have every good shot at carrying the state of Massachusetts tomorrow and winning this state and sweeping the East.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
KING: Romney backers, Though, dismiss McCain's chances in Massachusetts and mock him as too fond of liberal Democrats, a message Romney Himself echoed as he campaigned in Tennessee, Oklahoma and here in Georgia.
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Do you want somebody as our nominee somebody who fought for McCain/Kennedy, which is an amnesty bill for illegals?
CROWD: No! ROMNEY: And so, you guys, we're going to hand the liberals in our party a little surprise on Tuesday evening, when we take California and we take Georgia, we take states across the country and we get this nomination.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
KING: But Romney's Southern strategy is complicated by more than a rally-around-McCain movement.
MIKE HUCKABEE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I know Mr. Romney has been trying to do a little voter suppression by telling people that a vote for me is really a vote for John McCain.
KING: In Tennessee and elsewhere, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee vowed to fight on and yet again took sharpest aim at Romney.
HUCKABEE: A vote for me is exactly what it is. It is a vote for me, a vote for somebody who hasn't just decided this year where he stands on the Second Amendment. I have stood there, always have, always will. It's a vote for somebody who knows where he stands on the sanctity of life. It's somebody who knows where he stands on the federal marriage amendment.
KING (on camera): And, as Governor Huckabee vows to fight on, the McCain campaign that began on the East Coast is ended on the West, as both Senator McCain and Governor Romney race to hotly contested California to make one last pitch in Super Tuesday's biggest prize -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, John, thanks very much.
Let's go to Jack. He's got "The Cafferty File" here.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Oprah's back, Wolf.
Women should not feel guilty if they prefer Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton, the gospel according to Oprah Winfrey. During a rally in Los Angeles, Winfrey said this: "Every part of me believes in the empowerment of women. But the truth is, I'm a free woman. Being free means you get to think for yourself, and you get to decide for yourself what to do" -- unquote.
Winfrey said women who had already planned to vote for someone else -- read that Hillary -- had the right to change their mind. Winfrey described how she was criticized by some women after she campaigned for Barack Obama in Iowa. She says they called her a traitor to her gender.
Oprah participated in that huge rally for Barack Obama yesterday in L.A., along with Michelle Obama, Caroline Kennedy, Maria Shriver, the wife of the California governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and part of the Kennedy family. It's all part of a push by the Obama campaign to reach out to women voters. And that's because women are expected to make up about 55 percent of the Democratic primary votes. And, in a state like California, where Obama has now pulled to within striking distance of Hillary, more support from women could be the item that makes the ultimate difference.
So, here's the question. Should women feel obligated to vote for Hillary Clinton just because he's a woman?
You can go to CNN.com/caffertyfile, where you can post a comment on my blog.
People think, well, it's the first woman to ever run for president. I owe her maybe that support, just like first African- American ever to run for president, I owe him.
So, we will see what they say.
BLITZER: I have heard both of those arguments.
CAFFERTY: Yes. Yes. Sure.
BLITZER: And I'm sure we will hear a lot more of it.
Thanks very much Jack.
Barack Obama says he would sit down with America's foes, like the leaders of Iran and North Korea.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Of course, you don't know. And I will always reserve the right to make adjustments in strategy as we go along.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: You're going to find out how far he's willing to go in dealing with dictators and what his strategy is for Iraq. That's coming up. My one-on-one interview with Barack Obama, it's coming up next.
Also, the polls show Obama is catching up to Clinton. So, what happened? It's all about momentum, some are saying, including endorsements. We will have a closer look.
And President Bush submits the biggest annual budget ever to Congress, more than $3 trillion. But the president says he saved some money in the way he submitted the budget. You are going to find out how.
Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: It's now just a matter of hours before Super Tuesday voting begins in earnest and Democrats decide between two history- making candidates.
BLITZER: And joining us now from New Jersey, the Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama.
Senator Obama, thanks very much for coming in.
OBAMA: How are you, Wolf?
BLITZER I'm excellent. Thank you very much. I know you're very busy.
Let's get right to some of the issues that potentially could separate you from Hillary Clinton right now. I'm trying to hone in on these issues, so that voters out there have a better understanding where you stand as opposed to where she stands.
Let's start with Iraq. You want all U.S. combat forces out of Iraq within 16 months. She says she would start withdrawing combat forces within 60 days but she is not willing to give an end date, a timeline when that withdrawal would be complete.
Are you sure you want to tie your hands to that 16-month date if you're president of the United States? You don't know what's going to happen over the next 16 months.
OBAMA: Of course you don't know. And I will always reserve the right to make adjustments in strategy as we go along.
But what I know is this. If you do not send a strong signal to the Iraqi government, the Kurds, the Shia and the Sunni, that we are not going to have a permanent occupation there and permanent bases, if we are not sending a signal to them that we are not going to be involved in a perpetual process of sending more and more troops and resources into Iraq, they will not stand up and take responsibility.
So, this is a difference between myself and Senator Clinton. I think that you've got to at least set a timetable for withdrawal. I think there is another difference. And that is that Senator Clinton has suggested that the interest of blunting Iran's influence in Iraq is a justification for maintaining a larger force structure inside of Iraq.
I think that that is a mistake. I think that is mission creep. I think that what we have to do is focus on direct talks with Iran, as well as other powers in the region, like Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, initiate the kind of diplomatic meeting of the minds that's going to be required to stabilize the country.
But understand, Wolf, George Bush's budget just showed that our costs in Iraq have gone up -- have doubled in the last three years. So although obviously the most important issue has to do with the lives lost and the young men and women who have been severely injured in the war, this is also economically unsustainable and not making us more safe. And one of the questions that we brought up in the debate on Tuesday is, who's going to be in a better position to argue for a new direction on Iraq, myself or Senator Clinton? When it goes -- when I'm going after John McCain, I think I'm going to be in a much better position to do so.
BLITZER: I'm going to get to that, but I just want to leave it open -- nail this down. If the 16-month deadline that you've imposed, if you see that there is a need for some flexibility, you are open to that; is that right?
OBAMA: Wolf, my job will be to keep the American people safe as commander in chief, and I will make decisions on the basis of what's required to keep them safe.
But I believe right now -- and I think a lot of people, not just here in the United States, but around the world, agree -- that we cannot simply maintain the sort of open-ended approach that people like John McCain have advocated.
BLITZER: And explain what your position is, exactly, on meeting with adversaries directly without preconditions, whether Ahmadinejad or Hugo Chavez or Kim Jong Il, because there has been some confusion. Would you meet unconditionally with these other leaders?
OBAMA: There has been no confusion. I have been absolutely clear on this. I will meet not just with our friends but with our enemies. I will meet without preconditions.
That does not mean I will meet without preparation. It is very important before any meeting to make sure that there is a list of agenda items that we are going to be talking about. But the difference is with me, for example, meeting with Iran, I would not expect that they would give in on critical issues like nuclear weapons before the meeting. The objective of the meeting would be to ensure that they stand down and that we've offered them carrots and sticks.
The Bush's administration's approach has been to say, unless they agree with everything we say ahead of time, we won't meet. That is a doomed policy. The National Intelligence Estimate, our 16 top intelligence organizations, have themselves indicated that the Iranian leadership responds to both carrots and sticks and that we should be engaging in direct talks. That's the kind of leadership I want to show as president of the United States.
BLITZER: Would that also include possibly visiting those countries? Going to Tehran, or Havana or -- and meeting with those leaders?
OBAMA: I don't want to sort of lay out the details of a trip. The point is, we would initiate direct talks with them. And I believe that our president is also the person who has to make significant breakthroughs. That's been true in the past, when Nixon went to China, when Reagan met with Gorbachev. That has always been our approach. This is not something unique. What's been unique is the span of time with the Bush-Cheney approach where you don't talk to your adversaries. That is not a sign of strength. That's a sign of weakness. I want to reverse it as president of the United States.
BLITZER: John McCain says -- he has been in the U.S. Congress, the House and the Senate, for 26 years. You've been in the Senate, you will have been in the Senate for four years, eight years in the state legislature in Illinois. He says, when it comes to national security, he is so much better prepared than you are. What do you say to John McCain?
OBAMA: Well, look, I honor John McCain's half-a-century of service to this country. And I think that it's something that we have to all honor, because he's been a war hero, and I think he's done good work in the Senate.
But the fact of the matter is that John McCain is not the person who is going to lead this country in a new direction. He is wrong on foreign policy. He is wrong on economics. He essentially wants to perpetuate the same failed economic strategies of George Bush by providing tax cuts to the wealthy, as opposed to working families who need relief.
He wants to continue the failed foreign policy of leaving our troops in Iraq, potentially for another decade, another two decades, another four decades, or five. That is not what the American people are looking for. They're looking for a fundamentally different approach, particularly on the economy right now.
People need help. They're worried about losing their homes. They're worried about losing their jobs. They can't send their kids to college. They can't pay for gas at the pump. They're having trouble affording milk in the grocery store. And the notion that we will just continue with the same Bush policies that got us into this mess in the first place, I think, is something that the American people simply will not buy. That's what John McCain is offering.
BLITZER: Senator Obama, thanks very much for joining us.
OBAMA: Thank you, Wolf. Take care.
BLITZER: President Bush does something no other president has ever done before. He's breaking records and moving into the modern age with his brand-new budget, $3 trillion-plus -- details coming up.
Plus, it's no surprise that some of the conservative radio talk show hosts are slamming John McCain, but now they're going after Mike Huckabee as well. You will find out why.
That's coming up -- right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: There's a dramatic new shift in the Democratic presidential race. Coming up, you're going to see how close the race has become on a national level and some of the reasons why. Bill Schneider is standing by.
Plus, it looks like the battle for the Democratic nomination will continue long after tomorrow. But how will that impact the party? The best political team on television will analyze that and whether Mike Huckabee is Mitt Romney's worst fear and John McCain's best friend.
We're here at the CNN Election Center, and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: To our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now: Democrats are preparing for a long, drawn-out race, with no clear winner expected to emerge in tomorrow's Super Tuesday showdown between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Could it hurt the party in the long run?
Also, one of the most important factors for all the candidates -- that would be momentum -- who has it? And who might get it tomorrow? We are going to show you how Super Tuesday could change the race.
And John McCain is the worst nightmare of some of the conservative radio talk show hosts. But he's rising in the polls, despite their attacks. Now he's right in his rival's backyard -- all this, plus the best political team on television.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Many campaign watchers once thought the White House nominees would be decided on Super Tuesday. Now what happens tomorrow is anyone's guess.
Let's bring in our senior analyst, Bill Schneider. He's watching this story for us.
As we head into Super Tuesday, Bill, what do the polls show happening right now across the country?
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: They show that the Republican and Democratic parties have actually switched places.
CLINTON: I'm thrilled.
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Just a few months ago, the Democrats had a clear national front-runner and the Republican race was a muddle.
Now the Republicans have a clear national front-runner. John McCain is 15 points ahead of Mitt Romney in CNN's latest national poll, conducted by the Opinion Research Corporation.
The Democratic race has become more muddled. Barack Obama has the momentum. He's edged ahead of Hillary Clinton in the CNN national poll -- but just barely. Statistically, it's a dead heat. Among white Democrats outside the South, Obama is nearly even with Clinton.
How did Obama catch up to Clinton in the polls?
He's made big gains with men, where he now leads Clinton by 17 points. There is no national primary, but a national poll does show who's got momentum -- McCain and Obama.
Could the same force be propelling them both?
Obama is running as the candidate of change.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The time for change has come in America.
SCHNEIDER: McCain has been doing well among the roughly one-third of Republicans, who are dissatisfied with the Bush administration. They want change, too.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have been very active in change but the point is you've got to have the knowledge and the background and experience to know how to make those changes.
SCHNEIDER: Both candidates appealed to bipartisanship. That would certainly be a change.
OBAMA: At this defining moment, you can come together as Democrats and Republicans and Independents and stand up and say that we are one nation.
MCCAIN: As president of the United States, I will preserve my proud, conservative Republican credentials, but I will reach across the aisle to the Democrats and work together for the good of this country.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
SCHNEIDER: The top issue to both Republicans and Democrats is the economy. But among Republicans, Romney is rated better than McCain for handling the economy. And among Democrats, Clinton is rated better than Obama on the economy.
What's giving Obama and McCain their momentum is not the economy, stupid -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, thanks very much, Bill Schneider, for that.
So will it ultimately hurt the Democrats if their campaign drags out and out and out?
Let's talk about that and more with our senior political analyst, Gloria Borger, Jack Cafferty and senior analyst, Jeff Toobin. They are all part of the best political team on television.
If the Democrats continue this process for weeks and weeks -- maybe months and months -- and the Republicans have a nominee already, how badly would that hurt the Democratic Party?
CAFFERTY: I don't know how much damage it'll do to the Democrats, but it will be great for us.
CAFFERTY: If both nominees are decided tomorrow, this will be a bowling alley in a week, you know?
CAFFERTY: Let's hope it goes on awhile. Because it's the only game in town for the best political team on television.
(LAUGHTER) BLITZER: Is it reasonable to think that that could happen, that the Democratic nomination could be up for grabs for months and months?
GLORIA BORGER, SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. I've been saying that for a long time, actually, Wolf. I think that this is a very close race. We're down to counting delegates. And I think after tomorrow night, in the wee hours of the morning, there's going to be a bunch of delegates separating Hillary Clinton from Barack Obama and we're going to have to continue this race, perhaps even on to the convention, which would really be exciting.
BLITZER: And go ahead, Jeff, (INAUDIBLE)...
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I was just going to say, you know, it depends what kind of race it is. If it's like the South Carolina debates, when they're sniping at each other...
TOOBIN: ...then I think that would be bad for the party. But a debate like you had in L.A. , where, I thought, it energized people, where people are excited to go vote tomorrow, I think that would not necessarily hurt the party, even if the nomination is not settled.
BORGER: But I'm not sure which kind of race it would be...
TOOBIN: I don't know either.
BORGER: ...because, at a certain point, you have to differentiate yourself from your opponent. And that can get kind of nasty.
TOOBIN: It sure can.
BLITZER: It could get testy out there.
CAFFERTY: That, too.
BLITZER: You know, one of the -- one of the issues here is that there's a very complicated, almost arcane way of giving up or divvying out these delegates. It's not a winner-take-all among the Democrats...
BLITZER: California has got a lot of delegates. Whoever wins the popular vote would get all those delegates. That's not -- that's not what's going to happen.
CAFFERTY: It's proportional. And then you've got super delegates, who get -- who are worth more than regular delegates. They need a national primary, winner-take-all, like the Republicans. Hold the whole thing over a weekend on Saturday and Sunday. Let all 50 states vote and be done with this damn thing. Limit the amount of spending, limit the time for campaigning -- like they do in England. And, you know, make it make some sense...
TOOBIN: I'm sorry. I don't mean to...
CAFFERTY: No, tsar.
TOOBIN: ...to interrupt your tirade about the problems with electoral system. But the...
TOOBIN: I think you can overstate the emphasis on the delegates. If -- there are 22 primaries tomorrow. If one candidate wins 20 of them, even though the delegates are evenly divided, that candidate is going to be the nominee. So I don't think the delegates matter as much as who wins tomorrow.
BLITZER: So even if it's 600 to 500, but one delegate had -- one candidate had an enormous advantage in the popular vote, you think...
TOOBIN: I think that's it.
BLITZER: Gloria, do you agree?
BORGER: Well, I -- you know, I don't know. I think the question is how do we define victory for these candidates, how do they define victory?
Because you can be sure that if the candidate wins in the popular vote but loses the number of states, they're going to define victory one way and victory another way. If you see those check marks next to a candidate in the victory column but they've lost the delegates, you're going to see the other candidate saying I won.
TOOBIN: Was it...
BORGER: So there could be a fight to define just what victory is.
CAFFERTY: And wasn't it...
BORGER: And, by the way, on the big states, if you win California, New Jersey, New York, you're going to probably win more -- a lot more delegates. So those three big states -- if you win four states...
BLITZER: But it depends...
BORGER: ...I think you might...
BLITZER: It depends, Gloria, how big that margin of victory is in those big states.
TOOBIN: But see...
CAFFERTY: In Nevada...
TOOBIN: ...I think regardless of the margin, if you win those states you're going to be the nominee.
BORGER: I don't know.
CAFFERTY: Well, wasn't it in Nevada where Obama wound up...
CAFFERTY: ...with more delegates, even though he...
BLITZER: Yes. Yes.
BORGER: With more.
CAFFERTY: ...even though he got fewer votes?
BLITZER: Right. (INAUDIBLE).
CAFFERTY: So, I mean, you know it's a...
BORGER: Leave it to the Democrats to come up with a system that is so confusing that at the end of a long night -- tomorrow night -- we may not be able -- we could have somebody winning in the popular vote, not in the delegates or vice versa. And we're -- we could be scratching our heads and...
CAFFERTY: You know what's more interesting to me?
How terribly close this has become. A month ago, Hillary Clinton owned the nomination by any poll you wanted to look at. And now she is by no means a shoe-in...
BLITZER: It seems like so long ago -- Iowa and New Hampshire, doesn't it?
CAFFERTY: I know.
BLITZER: It seems like a long time ago.
BORGER: But if it's close, and that's the case, would you say that Super Tuesday was a victory for Obama or a victory for Hillary Clinton?
I mean I...
TOOBIN: I think this is why there were super delegates. The super delegate system was created so that the party could move toward consensus.
TOOBIN: Elected officials could say, look, it's time for everybody to pull together independent of the voting. Now, that's how the system is designed. Whether that's how it's -- will actually turn out, I don't know...
TOOBIN: But I think...
BLITZER: You know who these super delegates are?
BLITZER: These are members of Congress, members of the Senate, governors, big honchos in the Democratic party.
BORGER: But lots of them have said they're going to follow how their state votes.
BLITZER: Some of them.
CAFFERTY: Unless they can make a better deal...
CAFFERTY: ...in which case they'll make a better -- the thing that occurred to me is if this -- if this thing wasn't as compressed as it is, Obama might, in fact -- if this was spread out over a longer period of time, like it used to be, Obama might, in fact, if he kept up the momentum he's had for the last two or three weeks, go right past Hillary and be a consensus nominee in a month or two...
CAFFERTY: But because of the way they've squeezed this thing down, they're going to vote tomorrow whether he's ready to do that or not so.
TOOBIN: But the calendar favors him...
TOOBIN: ...in that he's got, next Tuesday, the beltway primary Maryland, Virginia, D.C....
CAFFERTY: After tomorrow.
TOOBIN: After tomorrow. Right.
TOOBIN: So if he's still in the game, he's looking good. He's also raised a lot more money than she has. I think that's something to keep an eye on. You know, he's raised $32 million in January. We don't know much the...
BORGER: Two to one...
BLITZER: All right...
TOOBIN: ...the Clintons have raised.
BLITZER: You guys, stand by.
But here's a thought. If tomorrow if Super Tuesday, a week from tomorrow would be...
CAFFERTY: A week from tomorrow.
TOOBIN: Beltway Tuesday.
BORGER: Beltway Tuesday.
BORGER: Beltway Tuesday.
BLITZER: That's not bad. Not bad.
All right, guys, stand by.
John McCain is taking his campaign top Mitt Romney's home state, along with a sizable lead in the polls. Is he rubbing it in Romney's face?
And which candidates will win the most Super Tuesday states?
We're going to show you the predictions people are making online at CNNPolitics.com.
Stay with us.
You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: John McCain is ahead in the polls -- the national polls. He's rubbing his lead in the face of his rival, Mitt Romney, right now. McCain has actually been campaigning in Romney's home state of Massachusetts.
Let's go back to the best political team on television.
What do you think about this, Romney tweaking McCain -- McCain tweaking Romney -- excuse me -- a little bit?
CAFFERTY: It's the same kind of stuff he pulled at the -- at the debate a week or so ago when he got snarky, for want of a better word, with Romney over this -- and it was a phony premise to begin with -- over this alleged timetable for withdrawal of military troops from Iraq. Romney never said he was in favor of a timetable for troop withdrawal.
This isn't attractive. This isn't going to help him. You know, be graceful. Be gracious. Be a little bit humble. Be something besides obnoxious. This is obnoxious.
BLITZER: Can he afford to be gracious right now?
He doesn't have it locked up yet. There's still a fight with Romney and with Huckabee.
CAFFERTY: He thinks he's going to win Massachusetts?
BORGER: Yes. There still -- right. I mean there still is a fight. He's twisting the knife a little bit and there still is a fight going on.
But McCain himself even predicted his own victory, right?
He said I'm going to win on Super Tuesday.
BORGER: I think with John McCain, as we've talked about before on this panel, you never know which fellow is going to show up. Sometimes you can get the funny, gracious guy, the patriotic one. And sometimes you get the fellow who is not very pleasant and who can turn on you and who can be nasty. And we saw that a little bit at the debate at the Ronald Reagan Library the other night. And that doesn't wear well.
TOOBIN: No, but...
BORGER: And in the general election campaign, that guy can't show up a lot.
TOOBIN: In fairness to McCain, this is an election.
TOOBIN: It's an election in Massachusetts. He has every right to campaign there. And I think politically, if he manages to steal this primary from Romney, there's no way Romney can continue. That's...
BLITZER: Talk a little bit, Jack, about Huckabee right now, because we don't -- we haven't focused a lot of attention on him. I interviewed him yesterday and he said he's in it. He's not dropping out. He wants Romney to drop out.
BLITZER: He was clearly willing to really go after -- hammer away at Romney. But I gave him every opportunity to hammer away at McCain. He didn't.
CAFFERTY: He likes McCain.
CAFFERTY: I'm not going to suggest that that's why he's staying in the race, but think about it.
Does he really have a chance to win?
I don't think so. And once he got out of Iowa, where he did well with the Evangelicals up there, he hasn't exactly lit up the nighttime sky.
He likes McCain. He doesn't care much for Romney. And by him staying in the race, he's hurting Romney.
TOOBIN: Huckabee is McCain's campaign manager at this point.
TOOBIN: I mean...
CAFFERTY: That's what I meant to say.
TOOBIN: Hey look at the -- I mean look at the polls.
BORGER: Or his vice president.
TOOBIN: Well, quite... BORGER: Yes?
TOOBIN: I mean I think from your -- from his lips, God's ears...
BORGER: From my lips to whatever.
TOOBIN: From Huckabee. That's what Huckabee wants, is what I'm trying to say.
TOOBIN: But if you look at the polls, I mean McCain, after all this momentum, is still only at about 45 percent in the Republican national polls. He's not in a majority. But the conservative opposition is divided, with Romney significantly ahead of Huckabee, but Huckabee with 17...
BLITZER: So you're convinced...
TOOBIN: ...18 percent.
BLITZER: Gloria, that Huckabee helps McCain by simply staying in...
BLITZER: ...by dividing up that conservative vote with Romney?
BORGER: He does, particularly in the Southern states, where he's got some traction with Evangelical voters. Those voters are the ones that Mitt Romney is talking to and saying I'm the true conservative in this race. They may not like him because he's a Mormon, but he is trying to appeal to them on the grounds that he's a conservative. And that -- that could work to a certain degree, but Huckabee is pulling those people away. Today, the Romney people are saying to those voters, don't waste your vote on Mike Huckabee, because if you vote for him, it's a wasted vote. He's not going to go anywhere, so you should vote for Romney.
CAFFERTY: There's no such thing as a wasted vote.
BLITZER: And lest we forget, Ron Paul is still in this race, as well, and, you know, he's -- he's got a following.
CAFFERTY: He's raised a few dollars, too.
BLITZER: A lot more than Huckabee.
TOOBIN: A lot more...
TOOBIN: But the rules -- the Republican rules favor McCain so much here, because even though he's probably not going to get a majority in most of these states...
TOOBIN: ...the winner-take-all states, the extra weighting toward finishing first, he's likely to come out of tomorrow with an enormous delegate lead, even though he's not going to win absolute majority.
CAFFERTY: And maybe the next time he sees Romney, he'll stick his tongue out him.
BORGER: Well, you know, the...
BORGER: The irony here, though...
TOOBIN: We can only hope our cameras are there.
BORGER: ...is you have California, New York, New Jersey. Those were supposed to be the Rudy Giuliani Republican states and now Giuliani is -- of course...
BLITZER: He's retired. He's retired right now.
BORGER: He's retired.
BORGER: And with McCain.
TOOBIN: He's spending more time with his family, as we way. Yes.
BLITZER: Thanks very much, guys.
We'll see you back here tomorrow.
Jack, don't leave.
We've got The Cafferty File come up.
If you're in a Super Tuesday state, by the way, we would love to get your I-Reports. Go to CNNPolitics.com. Send us your videos, your pictures from the campaign trail. We'll feature some of the best ones tomorrow night as part of our special election coverage.
Should women feel obligated to vote for Hillary Clinton just because she's a woman?
That's our question this hour.
Jack Cafferty will be back with your e-mail.
And the Super Tuesday political video awards -- we're going to show you the winners. Jeanne Moos is standing by with that.
Stay with us.
You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Today in our Political Ticker, which candidates will win the most Super Tuesday states?
People are predicting the results online at CNNPolitics.com.
Let's go back to our Internet reporter, Abbi Tatton -- Abbi, how are people doing this?
ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Wolf, this isn't surveys or polls, this is people's predictions for what they think is going to happen tomorrow and further down the road. How that works out in terms of the Democrats and Super Tuesday, well, right now, the money is on Barack Obama. But this has been going back and forth all day. Look at it a few minutes ago, when Hillary Clinton was out front.
You see, what's happening is people all over the world are logging on and weighing in on what they think is probably going to happen. And you can see the results on a whole number of questions and you can play along with virtual money online.
By far, the most traded points right now are all involving Super Tuesday. And this is where you're going to see the results come in -- the real results, as well, at CNNPolitics.com. This is where they're going to be where they're going to be flooding in to the Web site tomorrow. We're going to be following them along online for our Super Tuesday special -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Abbi, thank you.
And remember, for the latest political news any time, you can always check out the Political Ticker at CNNPolitics.com. It is now the number one political news blog on the Web. That's also where you can read my daily blog, as well -- CNNPolitics.com.
Lou Dobbs getting ready for his show that begins right at the top of the hour.
What are you working on -- Lou?
LOU DOBBS, HOST, "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT": Thank you, Wolf.
Coming up at 7:00 p.m. Eastern here on CNN, complete coverage of the final hours of campaigning before Super Tuesday. The State of California could play a decisive role in the campaign for the first time in decades. We'll have a special report on that, live reports from the campaign trail, the best political analysis anywhere.
And foreign governments now buying stakes in some of America's most important companies. What's the Bush administration and this Congress doing about that?
Nothing, of course. Perhaps they don't understand the issue. We'll have the report.
And the president of the National Council of La Raza, Janet Murguia, joins me here tonight. She says opponents of illegal immigration are using hate speech and she includes me and she wants me fired. We'll find out what I've done that is so terribly wrong.
Please join us for that and all the day's news at 7:00 Eastern.
And we'll have a special edition of "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT" coming up at 8:00 Eastern, "Independents Day: Awakening the American Spirit."
Please join us -- Wolf, back to you.
BLITZER: Lou, thanks very much.
Let's go back to Jack Cafferty.
He's got The Cafferty File.
CAFFERTY: The question this hour, Wolf, is should women feel obligated to vote for Hillary Clinton just because she's a woman?
This plays off something Oprah Winfrey said at that big rally yesterday, effectively suggesting that women can change their mind, they're free to do what they want and just because there's a woman in the race for the first time, that doesn't obligate other women to vote for her.
So we asked whether or not that's true.
Carrie writes: "No, women should not feel obligated to vote for Hillary. I fully support Barack Obama in this race and it's partially because I am a woman. As a female, I feel Hillary stood by her man, which, in my mind, wasn't the right thing to do. As a female, I can't vote for someone -- particularly a woman -- who would support a cheating spouse."
Holly writes: "I'm voting for Hillary because she is a woman and I don't care if that's an ignorant reason to vote for her. I want a woman in charge and she's as qualified as any of the men."
Sheila writes: "I'm a 62-year-old woman who has waited for a long time for the opportunity to vote for a woman for president. This is definitely not the woman I've been waiting for and she won't get my vote. I'm not looking for a woman who, at 60-years-old in New Hampshire, finally found her voice. Who's voice has she been using to speak through all of these years of experience? If it takes you that long to find your voice, exactly what experience are you talking about?"
Diane writes: "No, we're not obligated to vote for Hillary, Jack. But I'm obligated to tell you you're going to get kicked in the teeth for this question. Were you up too late watching the Giants win? What's up with this? Any woman with half a brain is looking at all the candidates and their stand on each issue. Race and gender should not enter into any of this. Get a good night's sleep tonight, Jack. You need better questions tomorrow."
Mary Lou writes: "Sorry, Oprah, your bigotry is showing. Playing the gender card is beneath you. Perhaps the majority of women voting for Hillary Clinton just know that she's the best, most qualified, most experienced candidate for president. Women are not wrong if they disagree with Oprah."
Sandy writes: "Obligated? No. Proud? You'd better believe it."
And Debbie writes: "Only blond ones."
BLITZER: I don't know what that means, but all right.
CAFFERTY: Yes, you do.
You absolutely know what it means.
BLITZER: Jack, thank you very much.
BLITZER: It's the moment America has been waiting for -- whether America knows it or not. The Jeanne Moos Awards for best Super Tuesday political videos. It's Moost Unusual. You'll see them right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: May we please have the envelope?
CNN's Jeanne Moos is ready to announce the winners of -- drum rolls please -- something Moost Unusual.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Just in time for voters to ignore, we present the Super Tuesday Political Video Awards.
(on camera): The award for best adaptation of someone else's video -- i.e. best rip-off -- goes to "I've Got A Crush On Hillary.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM YOUTUBE.COM)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've got a crush on Hillary, 2008. You're the sexiest candidate
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MOOS: Sound familiar? (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM YOUTUBE.COM/BABEL/POLITICAL.COM)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Cause I got a crush on Obama.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MOOS: That's the one that started it all.
(on camera): The award for best adaptation with a gay twist goes to "Hot For Hill."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM YOUTUBE.COM,/HOTT4HILL.COM)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: H-I-L-L-A-R-Y, I know you're not gay, but I'm hoping for bi.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am actually straight.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hillary, I think I want you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MOOS (on camera): The award for best new video -- mockery category -- goes to "Huckabee Girl."
(voice-over): It's pure satire, taking aim at Huckabee's views on evolution...
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM SUPERDELUXE.COM)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're riding on a dinosaur, you and me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MOOS: And religion...
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM SUPERDELUXE.COM)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You were a train in 2007, going to be the parade (INAUDIBLE) heaven.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MOOS (on camera): By the way, the dinosaur in this one deserves a best supporting actor.
(voice-over): She not only rides it, she does deep dino kissing.
(on camera): Yes, we can -- give the award for most repetitious video to "Yes, We Can."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM YOUTUBE.COM/DIPDIVE.COM)
OBAMA: With three words...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Three words... OBAMA: That will ring...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That will ring...
OBAMA: From coast to coast -- yes we can. Yes, we can.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MOOS: Actually, this is a serious video dreamed up by will.i.am from Black Eyed Peas and featuring celebs ranging from Scarlett Johansson to John Legend.
(on camera): The best child actor award is a no-brainer that goes to Swift Kids for Truth.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM YOUTUBE.COM/236.COM)
UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: (INAUDIBLE). Barack Obama.
UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: You know that name is really difficult to say.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MOOS: And then there was the one about Hillary Clinton disparaging the act of baking cookies.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: Why put down cookies then offer up a recipe for cookies?
Which is it, huh?
UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: Why the double standard?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MOOS (on camera): The beating a good idea into the ground award goes to "Super Obama Girl."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM YOUTUBE.COM/BABEL/POLITICAL.COM)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Obama.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MOOS (voice-over): These days, if you hope for a hit video, it doesn't suffice to wear your political affiliation on your sleeve.
Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.
(END VIDEO TAPE) BLITZER: And you've helped make our politics pod cast one of the most popular on iTunes. To get the best political team to go, simply subscribe at CNNPolitics.com.
And the best political team will join me right here tomorrow for all the Super Tuesday results and important analysis. You can follow this important political event all day and into the night right here on CNN.
Until then, thanks very much for joining us.
I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Up next, "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT" -- Lou.
TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.voxantshop.com