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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Obama Cleans Up; Huckabee Still Alive in Presidential Race?

Aired February 11, 2008 - 20:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: And welcome to the CNN ELECTION CENTER.
We are counting down to what will likely be another super Tuesday tomorrow. Primaries in three key states get under way in just a matter of hours now. And their impact could be huge.

Over the weekend, Barack Obama cleaned up. John McCain got his nose bloodied. So, what is going to happen tomorrow? The best political team in television is all over the campaign, and all over the map tonight.

So, let's get started.

Senator Clinton went 0-5 in primaries and caucuses over the weekend. Barack Obama's momentum keeps just building and building.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERTS (voice-over): In the course of a long, tough campaign season, if you are Barack Obama, it doesn't get much better than this.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We won in Louisiana. We won in Nebraska. We won in Washington State.

ROBERTS: You can throw in wins in Maine and the Virgin Islands, too. Add them all up, and Obama scored a weekend sweep, adding 107 convention delegates to his win column. Senator Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, she didn't win any states this time around, although she picked up enough delegates from her proportion of the votes to retain her overall lead. And that was enough to help her put this spin on Obama's weekend wins.

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I know this is a challenging campaign here. I recognize that. And it's a good problem to have, isn't it?

ROBERTS: But then Obama earned another victory in the momentum game. As Hillary Clinton was shaking up her campaign on Sunday, replacing campaign manager Patti Solis Doyle with Maggie Williams, her husband, former President Bill Clinton, was getting beaten at the Grammy Awards by, guess who, Senator Barack Obama, who picked up best spoken word album for his "Audacity of Hope" recording.

And in a strange twist of timing, today, Madame Tussaud's wax museum unveiled this wax figure of Barack Obama standing at the presidential desk in a replica of the Oval Office. Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton are standing off to the side. Ouch.

CLINTON: One of us will make history.

ROBERTS: And one of them will, but the next chapter in that history comes Tuesday in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C., where if polls are to be believed, Obama is likely to see his momentum continue. The open question, does Clinton have a plan to stop it?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERTS: Well, Hillary Clinton's latest strategy for stopping Obama is more debates. Just this afternoon the campaigns accepted an invitation from CNN, Univision and the Texas Democratic Party to debate a week from Thursday, February the 21st, at the University of Texas in Austin. You will see it right here at 8:00 p.m. Eastern here on CNN.

Today, the Democrats are battling for the states along the Potomac River, Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia. But they are both aiming some of their fire at Republican front-runner John McCain.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: If you look at who I'm drawing votes from, people making less than $50,000 a year who need a president. That's going to be one of the greatest contrast between me and Senator McCain.

I think he will have more of the same. He didn't even vote on the stimulus package. He has said he doesn't really understand the economy. Well, I think it's really important that the next president understand the economy and how to make it work for the vast majority of Americans.

OBAMA: I'm looking forward to mixing it up with John McCain. I admire McCain's half a century of service to this country. He is a genuine American hero. But he is on the wrong side of the issues. He wants to perpetuate the failed Bush economic policies and continue giving tax breaks to the wealthy while we're running up a deficit and people's needs go unmet.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: Our senior political correspondent, Candy Crowley, is watching the Democratic brawl along the Potomac. And she joins us now live from Baltimore.

Candy, of course the big news is that Hillary Clinton shook up her campaign, bringing in Maggie Williams, her longtime trusted chief of staff when she was first lady at the White House. Patti Solis Doyle, who was the campaign manager, now going to an outside consulting job. What kind of an effect is that going to have on her campaign?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I can tell you what they hope inside the campaign it will do is sort of streamline things, straighten out and focus on what message Hillary Clinton is giving, and kind of end what they say was sort of an ignoring of the Internet as a fund-raising tool.

We are told by sources inside the campaign that it came as a surprise to Senator Clinton a little too late that they were running out of money. You will recall she had to write herself a $5 million check for the campaign. So, there were a lot of things. Certainly coming out of Iowa is when we began to know that things would change inside the Clinton campaign. That's when they brought on Maggie Williams, although not as campaign manager.

The win in New Hampshire kind of put off the inevitable. But now, as you saw in the middle of a winless weekend, they decided to make the switch.

ROBERTS: So what about this idea of I guess what some people are calling Obama-mentum and this game of raised expectations for Barack Obama tomorrow?

CROWLEY: Well, exactly. There's no greater burden someone said than great expectations. And certainly they are high. So, they have to try to manage those, because we see those polls that you mentioned earlier on where he has double-digit leads in both Maryland and Virginia and the District of Columbia.

So, this is -- you know, if you come out with a six or a seven point win, it doesn't look like that much. So, they have to try to kind of manage those. And I tell you, they also understand inside the Obama campaign that momentum is about the moment. Clearly this is his moment.

But that's what we thought coming out of Iowa when those New Hampshire polls looked so great for him. And Hillary Clinton won New Hampshire. It was a lesson learned in the Obama campaign. Having said that, they do believe that they will win tomorrow's contests, but they understand how fleeting momentum can be.

ROBERTS: All right, Candy Crowley for us tonight in Baltimore -- Candy, thanks.

Our exit polling shows that Democratic voters are focused on the long term. They want a winner in November, which means momentum matters right now, as Candy was saying.

Our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider, has got a closer look at what that means for the Clinton/Obama race.

Let's look at the results from Louisiana, in terms of our exit polling, some definite patterns in terms of voters and who they're going for showing up here.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, we did see that in Louisiana. The electorate was about half black and half white.

Which Louisiana voters voted for which Democrats? Well, we saw a clear pattern. African-American voters in Louisiana went overwhelmingly, over 80 percent, for Barack Obama. College-educated voters of all races voted for Barack Obama, and younger voters. He's always had a lot of appeal to that constituency.

Who voted for Hillary Clinton? She got over 70 percent of the vote among white women in Louisiana. She's done well among women everywhere. I should mention there was no difference between African- American men and women. White women were her constituency.

Non-college graduates, the less well-educated voters, as she mentioned in her remarks, have gone for Hillary Clinton. And seniors, very important if Florida, Pennsylvania, states with a lot of seniors. If you look at these patterns, find states with lots of people from these groups, and you can predict who is likely to win.

ROBERTS: Yes. We should point out that in Louisiana there was a higher percentage of African-American voters.

SCHNEIDER: Yes.

ROBERTS: So, that skewed some of the data on who do they do like on the economy, Iraq, the type of thing.

SCHNEIDER: Yes.

ROBERTS: But this sort of breakdown of the pattern of voting, is that what we have seen in other states? And are we likely to continue seeing that?

SCHNEIDER: Well, we have seen it in other states. And that's one reason why it looks good for Obama in Virginia and Maryland tomorrow because those states have a lot of African-American voters. They have a lot of college-educated voters.

That's why she's saying hold on until Texas and Ohio in March where she should do better because Texas has a large population of Latino voters. There weren't enough of them in Louisiana to make a difference. But they have been voting every state heavily for Hillary Clinton. And Ohio is an economically distressed state, which also produces votes for her.

ROBERTS: But the bottom line here, Bill, is that regardless of how people are breaking down their votes, they like both of these candidates, and so you're saying momentum could have a profound effect.

SCHNEIDER: Momentum could have a big effect, and there's a reason.

Democrats like both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. And they could vote for either one. Remember I said African-Americans were 80 percent for Barack Obama. They don't dislike Hillary Clinton. They could vote for Hillary Clinton. And most Democrats could vote for either one.

So, what happens is, if Barack Obama is building up momentum, winning all these contests, if he wins everything tomorrow, if he wins Wisconsin next week, if he is seen as a winner, a lot of people who are supporting Hillary Clinton right now could easily switch. And that's what momentum means.

ROBERTS: But, as Candy Crowley was pointing out just a moment ago, momentum can sometimes be fleeting.

SCHNEIDER: It is indeed.

ROBERTS: Bill Schneider, thanks very much.

And also tonight, I am with more members of the best political team on television.

Here to weigh in on the fight for the Democratic nomination, our senior political analyst Gloria Borger is here, along with CNN contributor Roland Martin, and senior analyst Jeffrey Toobin.

All right, folks, one question for all of you here right off the bat. Quick answer. A little lightning round here. What kind of shape is Hillary Clinton in going into tomorrow?

Gloria, you first.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I think it's an uphill climb, John, but doable.

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: For Senator Clinton, John, no margin for error. She's got to win Texas, Ohio, Pennsylvania, or she's in trouble winning this nomination.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR ANALYST: Down, but not out, John. I think she's got a chance to come way back in March, but it's going to be an ugly February, it looks like.

ROBERTS: All right. Well, we will see about that.

Jeff Toobin, Roland Martin, and Gloria Borger, all part of the best political team on television, the Emmy Award-winning best political team on television.

And stay there, all of you, because, in just a few minutes, we're going to take an in-depth look at what Senators Clinton and Obama are facing in tomorrow's Potomac primaries. Don't go away.

And, also, ahead, this fight isn't just about winning votes.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: We are looking at the battle between Senator Barack Obama and Senator Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination. Tomorrow, they go head to head in the so-called Potomac primaries. The contests are in Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C.

And joining us me once again, CNN senior political analyst Gloria Borger, contributor Roland Martin, and senior analyst Jeffrey Toobin.

So, I guess the question tonight -- And, Gloria, why don't start us off here? -- is, how does Hillary Clinton get it back?

BORGER: Slowly. She's bracing herself, her campaign is bracing itself for a bad today tomorrow. Of course, they're masters at low expectation, as Candy was talking about before.

ROBERTS: Of course, they have lived up to those low expectations.

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

BORGER: They have, but all the polls show her behind. Of course, that was the case in New Hampshire. So, we have to be...

ROBERTS: Except Maine. She was -- yes.

BORGER: Right. Right. So, we have to be very careful.

They're setting their sites on Texas and Ohio March 4. I think you're going to see the personable Hillary Clinton. She's going to start differentiating herself not only with John McCain, but also saying that she's tougher than Barack Obama, that in a tough race against McCain she would be the one tough enough to win.

MARTIN: But, John, it's a risk strategy, because when you look at Texas, Texas is not California. Texas, 20 percent of the registered voters there are Hispanic.

What is interesting there is the only real race that we can look at historically in terms how an African-American candidate has done with Hispanics is when Ron Kirk in 2002. Sanchez was running for governor, Tony Sanchez. He was at the top of the ticket. Kirk was number two. Kirk got 74 percent of the votes in South Texas. That's critical to understand how it works in Texas.

ROBERTS: Well, what's different about Hispanics in Texas than in California?

MARTIN: Well, first and foremost, they're third- and fourth- generation Texans. And, so, you don't have necessarily your new immigrants coming to the state.

And, so, you have more of a relationship there between the African-Americans and Hispanics as it relates to the civil rights movements, critical areas, Houston and Dallas also. But the Anglo vote is critical in Texas. And you talk about Midland, Odessa in West Texas, and you talk about North Texas and Amarillo. It's a whole different ball game there.

The other piece, Asians, 8 percent in California. You don't have that influence in Texas as well. It's a different dynamic there. I would not necessarily say she can rule Texas the way she did California.

ROBERTS: Can you tell that he was born and raised in Texas?

MARTIN: Born and raised.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

TOOBIN: The usual way you try to differentiate yourself is on issues. You know, I'm for this. He's for that.

The problem Hillary Clinton is the difference between them on issues is modest. Yes, there's a difference on their health care plans, but you have to be a pretty knowledgeable person to even understand the difference. I think what will serve her best is workhorse vs. show horse. That's a traditional argument in politics.

And I think in a way it uses Barack Obama's strength against him, that he's such a good speaker, she can raise the question, well, adding up to what exactly?

(CROSSTALK)

BORGER: And there's a little subterranean primary going on also right now, which is the John Edwards primary.

ROBERTS: Yes.

BORGER: Which, if she could get John Edwards' endorsement, that would help her in Texas, too.

MARTIN: Oh, very much so. You also don't have a strong union force there in Texas. It's a right-to-work state.

What's very interesting, though, Jeffrey, when you talk about this policy issue, in the debate in Los Angeles, that was the first time Obama said, I'm going to go head to head against you on the issue of policy.

And I made the point earlier before. Her campaign typically after every debate sends an e-mail blast, all of us saying, hands down, she won. They didn't do it that night.

I think what Obama is going to do with these two debates is say, you know what? Let's go head to head again on policy, because if I come out well, or even even, I do well against you.

ROBERTS: We talked about this with both Bill Schneider and Candy Crowley -- and you get differing opinions on this -- as to this idea that Barack Obama has momentum. Exactly what is it? How is it measured? And how lasting is it?

Jeff?

TOOBIN: Well, you know, it hasn't mattered that much so far in the campaign. We all thought he had this tremendous momentum coming out of Iowa, and he had his head handed to him in New Hampshire. That has not been a dramatic pusher. It has not pushed votes the way it has in previous campaigns.

BORGER: No bounce. The bounce is over. There's no bounce coming out of one state to another state.

And what gives you momentum? We have been having this argument. Is it the number of states you win? Is it the amount of popular vote you get? Or is it the all-important delegate count?

TOOBIN: Or is it endorsements, which also have not added up to all that much?

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: But I think you have got to look at something that is different here, in terms of, first of all, he lost by 8,000 votes in New Hampshire. So, they're probably e-mailing you right now, Jeffrey, saying, that's not a head handed to him.

(LAUGHTER)

MARTIN: But the difference is, you're talking about space. He wins five over the weekend. Let's say he wins two or even three tomorrow.

Meantime, you have got Wisconsin coming up. There's a lot of space between Wisconsin and Texas and Ohio.

ROBERTS: It seems the longer this goes on the better he does.

And, Roland, you and I were talking about this off camera before we came on tonight, is the polls showed California really tightening up. And she creamed him in California. And that was a result of...

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: Absentee balloting.

(CROSSTALK)

ROBERTS: And, so, how is that changing?

MARTIN: After New Hampshire, she was doing extremely well in absentee balloting. They say as much as a third of the votes there came from absentee.

Well, the problem is, now, people in absentee balloting in Texas and Ohio, that's starting right now. So, you don't have that effect. So, what he may very welcome come out of, winning those states, may do well in absentee balloting. She has to really put the ground game in effect to really go after those voters, because she needs to touch him like he has been touching them, because that's the problem there.

ROBERTS: Quick final thought. BORGER: And she hasn't been doing that, because she doesn't have the money to do it. And she's been out-organized in all of these caucus states. Caucuses are about enthusiasm and organization.

(CROSSTALK)

ROBERTS: All right.

We have got a lot more to talk about, folks. So don't go away. We will bring you back a little bit later on to talk about national security and which one of candidates on the Democratic and the Republican side can best represent the U.S. people on that front.

The candidates are still trying to lock up enough convention delegates to win the nomination. That's an easy prospect for some and nearly impossible for others. We're about to show you why.

Plus, when Mike Huckabee goes from being an annoyance to John McCain to doing some serious damage. When does that happen? When does he cross that line?

We will talk about that coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALEXANDER MARQUARDT, CNN PRODUCER: Hi, I'm Alexander Marquardt, political producer, embedded with the Huckabee campaign.

Governor Huckabee took his message to Virginia voters at four rallies today, ahead of tomorrow's Potomac primary contests. He told reporters that he's ignoring calls to drop out of the race because it disenfranchises voters in states that haven't yet cast their ballot.

Though he faces an uphill battle against Senator John McCain tomorrow, Huckabee told Virginians that the whole country will be watching them to see if this race is still on, and they're going to prove that is.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: Well, according to CNN calculations, Governor Huckabee has so far tallied 217 delegates, compared to McCain's 723. They need 1,191 to win the nomination.

Huckabee certainly has his work cut out for him, but some question if it's even possible.

CNN senior analyst Jeffrey Toobin is back to crank out the numbers for us.

And, Jeff, Mike Huckabee likes to say, I majored in miracles, not math.

Is there a miracle out there for him? TOOBIN: Well, he studied the right subject, given his chances.

And what we want to do is just play out a scenario here, just to keep this in perspective. You need 1,191 delegates to win. And these are the approximate numbers that everyone has right now. These are estimates, McCain at just about 900, Huckabee at just about 300. So, this is the game we're going to play.

Let's assume that Mike Huckabee wins all the remaining states with 50 percent of the vote. McCain gets 40 percent. And Ron Paul gets 10 percent for all the remaining states. So, let's tap on Huckabee. He wins Idaho. He wins Oregon. And we're going to go all the way through. And this is how the delegates divide up. Mississippi, North Carolina, Virginia, big wins for Mike Huckabee, and finally not to forget Hawaii.

ROBERTS: Not to forget Hawaii.

TOOBIN: Hawaii. There we go. OK.

ROBERTS: We want to go cover that one on the 19th.

TOOBIN: Look at what happens. Even with Huckabee winning all the remaining primaries, John McCain is over the top. He's got 1,204 delegates, and you only need 1,191 to win.

ROBERTS: There you go.

TOOBIN: So, this is why, you know, we're not just making it up that Mike Huckabee has no chance of winning the nomination. It just seems like the numbers aren't there for him.

ROBERTS: And nobody is saying that this is going to happen, because perhaps of the acrimony between the campaigns, but if Mitt Romney decided to release delegates and let them go to whenever they wanted to, and let's say they went to Mike Huckabee...

TOOBIN: The numbers still aren't there, because McCain is over the top even with Romney keeping all his delegates or giving them all to Huckabee.

The Democrats, however, are in a very different situation, because there, let's -- where are we here? OK. Well, let's clear -- OK.

ROBERTS: We need to touch Hawaii here. There we go.

TOOBIN: What's that?

ROBERTS: We needed to touch Hawaii apparently.

(CROSSTALK)

TOOBIN: Touch Hawaii, OK.

This is very different, because here what we have done is we have given Hillary Clinton all the rest of the states, having her winning 55-45 in all the remaining states. Look, you need 2,025 to win. And she's only here. She's not there.

(CROSSTALK)

TOOBIN: So, this is where the superdelegates are going to come in.

(CROSSTALK)

ROBERTS: Or this is where the fight over Florida and Michigan come in.

TOOBIN: Right. So, just to be clear, even if one candidate wins all the rest of primaries, that's not enough, unless Michigan or Florida have their delegates assigned, or the superdelegates really take over. That's what Democrats are so worried about, because it means it goes to the convention.

ROBERTS: And this is what everybody is talking about. We talked to a couple of superdelegates this morning on "AMERICAN MORNING." They are being courted nine ways to Sunday by both campaigns.

But the two that we talked to, and one was from Maine and the other one was from Minnesota, say they don't believe that the superdelegates should decide who the nominee is. They want the voters to do it.

TOOBIN: But this is the problem. If the voters split anywhere likely the way where they're likely to split, you need the superdelegates, because you can't get over the top.

ROBERTS: So, unless one or the other really breaks out and starts racking up a huge percentage of the vote, the way the vote has been going now, they never get to the finish line?

TOOBIN: Or, as Howard Dean has suggested, they both go into a room and say, we got to settle this, one of us has to pull out, it's hard to think of how the super delegates are not critical in this contest.

ROBERTS: All right. Jeff, thanks very much. Stick around for just a little bit. We're going to hear a little bit more from you coming up.

The delegate math may not be on Mike Huckabee's side, but plenty of conservative voters still are. How much will that hurt John McCain? I will ask one of his top Virginia supporters, former Governor and U.S. Senate candidate Jim Gilmore, about that.

Also, where all the presidential candidates stand on national security and keeping you safe.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: Let's turn now to the Republican race for president, the one getting the presumptive nominee, Senator John McCain against the former Governor from Arkansas, Mike Huckabee. Huckabee has strongly rebutted calls for him to drop out of the race, and conservatives rewarded him on Saturday heading Huckabee wins in the Louisiana primary and the Kansas caucuses. In Washington State, he lost in a tight race to John McCain. But today, he challenged the result of that contest.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE HUCKABEE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We've obviously protested. We have legal representatives there. We want a full counting, a full explanation. We'd like a full process of the counting of the votes, and we want to know where every last one of them is.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: With John McCain still struggling to boost his conservative credentials, today he made a point to promise once again that as president, he would nominate conservative judges to the federal courts.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Only people who have a clear, complete adherence to the constitution of the United States, and do not legislate from the bench. That's who I will nominate to the United States Supreme Court and other courts.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: McCain has managed to pick up some key conservative endorsements, including evangelical leader and former presidential candidate, Gary Bauer, and Texas Representative, Jeb Hensarling, the chairman of the Republican Study Committee, which helps to shape conservative policy for Congress. Another Jeb, the president's brother, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, threw his support to McCain today.

And in Virginia, the state going to the polls tomorrow. McCain got the endorsement of former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore, who's also a candidate for a Virginia Senate seat and was briefly in the presidential race. Jim Gilmore joins us now from Richmond.

Governor, let's take a look at how John McCain did over the weekend. He got hammered in Kansas. He lost narrowly in Louisiana and barely won in Washington State. Some people would say those are not impressive statistics for a front-runner.

GOV. JIM GILMORE (R), VIRGINIA: But he's still doing well nationwide. He's won a whole lot of primaries. He's gotten a lot of support across the board. And, you know, I have no qualms or fight with Mike Huckabee, but I just think that the reality is that John McCain is going to be our candidate. He is going to be a much better candidate and much for the people of the United States than the Democratic candidate, and I think we need to get behind him now and rally this party and begin to move ahead towards a victory in November.

ROBERTS: Governor, listen for a moment to how Mike Huckabee characterized his wins over the weekend.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE HUCKABEE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The states that I've won are the states that a Republican has to win if we have any chance of winning in November. And the states that have given Senator McCain his primary delegate lead are states that aren't going to be factors in the Republican winning in November.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GILMORE: He told me this morning on "AMERICAN MORNING," my other program that comes on first thing during the day, as opposed to this one, just the last thing at night, he said that he can't win. McCain cannot win in states where it really counts.

GILMORE: I think the senator can win. We're into a national race at this point. And let's think about this. This country is very concerned about the issues of war and the issues of terrorism, the challenges facing our country, America's strength in the world and keeping America's people safe. I think they're going to be absolutely sure that John McCain is going to be the candidate that keeps people of America safe.

I think people are concerned about the economy. They're worried about their jobs. They're worried about too much government spending, pork barrel, bridges to nowhere. And John McCain is the guy that stands up for this se and is really respectful of the tax payers' money. These are going to be the issues that ultimately are going to carry him to victory in November.

ROBERTS: Governor, how do you think he's going to do in our shared home state of Virginia as well as Maryland and D.C.? The polls would seem to indicate he is going to do well.

GILMORE: I think he's going to do fine. Virginia is a state that has a lot of military people in it. There's a lot of military families in it. The senator, of course, is a strong military veteran. I'm a military veteran. I understand exactly what that means. I think he's going to do well in that community. What Virginians I think really are looking for somebody who's going to be strong and responsible in government, somebody who's going to maintain strong budgets and balanced budgets. And I think he's going to do fine in that community.

ROBERTS: As we mentioned just a couple of minutes ago, he got some key conservative endorsements -- one from Gary Bauer, another from Jeb Bush. But when President Bush was interviewed yesterday on "FOX News Sunday," he was asked about McCain's appeal to conservatives. Listen to how he put it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He has got some convincing to do to convince people that he is a solid conservative. And I'll be glad to help him if he's the nominee.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: So President Bush says he's got some work to do to convince people that he is the friendly conservative nominee. Richard Viguerie who was on this program on Friday said he's got some serious work to do and it can't be just window dressing. What in your estimation could John McCain do to win over conservatives?

GILMORE: Well, I'm not Richard, and I'm a great admirer of Richard Viguerie. And the fact is, I have been a conservative my entire life. I was elected as a conservative. I kept my word. I governed as a conservative. I've been around conservative politics my entire life. And I say that it is time for all of us to pull together across this party. Not just conservatives, but people out of every part of the Republican community for the good of the country.

The time has come now to rally behind a candidate and do what's right for the country before we end up with a far left president, with a Congress and a Senate that's going to be prepared to enact these kind of left-wing type of proposals. And this is bad all along for the people of the United States. We got to get behind a candidate to do the right thing for the people of this country and our respected states.

ROBERTS: Governor, do you think that John McCain can win the White House without the absolute rock solid support of conservatives? Can he pull enough independents and potentially cross over Democrats to still win without having every conservative in his court?

GILMORE: I think he's going to get the Republican base. I think he's going to get some independents. I think he's going to invade the opposite side also. Because I think that the Democratic candidate, and especially if it's Hillary Clinton, are going to offer such a stark contrast, and they are going to be very representative of the Democratic base vote. But they're not going to be able to get independents to vote for them with this kind of left-wing type of proposals that we tend to see.

Senator McCain is going to represent, I think, a strong mainstream of this country. He served his country all his life. He's going to be a good solid candidate for the Republican Party. And the time has come for us all to get together, even if we haven't agreed with everything. And I haven't agreed with everything. As long as we agree that this is a better candidate and a better direction, a better party for the government of the nation, rather than the Democratic candidate, then I think we're going to be on our way to victory in November.

ROBERTS: Well, one thing we know, Governor, is that there is tremendous interest in this race. I absentee voted there in Fairfax County on Saturday...

GILMORE: Good for you.

ROBERTS: ... and the place was just packed right up. Governor Jim Gilmore, thanks for being with us tonight. I appreciate your time.

(CROSSTALK)

GILMORE: Thank you, John.

ROBERTS: All right. We'll see you again soon.

Mike Huckabee is the guest on "LARRY KING LIVE" coming up at the top of the hour, as is Michelle Obama. We're going to hear about that coming up in just a bit.

We're bringing back the best political team on television to look at one of the most important issues in the campaign. How the candidates plan to keep you as well as our country safe. As we go into the next break, here's a look at where they stand on national security.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: Tonight, we wanted to take a closer look at the candidates' positions on national security; issues including the use of torture to gain intelligence, Guantanamo Bay and wars of preemption. That's because earlier today the Pentagon announced it is seeking the death penalty against six Guantanamo Bay detainees suspected in the attacks of 9/11. One of the accused is self- described 9/11 mastermind, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. All six men are facing charges of murder and war crimes, and the government hopes to try them all together.

But any trial is likely to face a long list of legal hurdles that could very well stretch into the next president's term and could mean tough questions that he or she will have to answer. Joining me once again, Gloria Borger, Roland Martin and Jeffrey Toobin to talk more about this.

Let me throw this out, first of all. All of these candidates talking a tough game on national security, but who is the toughest?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Any of the above? I think the question is who will say they have the most experience? All of the above, right? All of them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well --

BORGER: John McCain, obviously, has a claim to say that I am qualified to be commander in chief because I've served in the Senate for so long. I've served in the armed forces. I have more experience on foreign policy. But then, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are going to battle it out on the other grounds. She says she's tougher and has more experience.

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Let's look at history. George W. Bush, his most foreign experience hanging out in Mexico, a couple of trips with Vicente Fox. Bill Clinton didn't have significant foreign policy experience. The whole notion of Clinton and Obama duking it out over who has the best national security plan? Neither one of them.

BORGER: Yes.

MARTIN: I'm sorry. I mean, it is the idea. I mean, clearly I think McCain on this issue. Well, this is not going to be the primary issue unless if we have it. It's going to be the economy.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR ANALYST: Well, I'm not sure that's true because there is a huge difference on the issue of the war in Iraq which remains a big issue.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's true.

TOOBIN: Both Clinton and Obama say they will end the war virtually immediately. And John McCain, as we are often hearing from the Democratic candidates, says we will be there for 50 or maybe a 100 years. That's a big difference. That's why we should have elections in this country.

ROBERTS: And on this issue, too, of the Guantanamo Bay detainees and the charges that were leveled against them today, we looked. There are some differences there as well. John McCain as well as Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama want Guantanamo closed down, but John McCain voted for the bill that set up the tribunals, whereas Hillary and Barack Obama voted against it.

BORGER: You know, the interesting thing about John McCain is that he -- one of the reasons conservatives don't like John McCain is on all kinds of issues regarding prisoners, torture being the foremost among them, he is against waterboarding and he sides with Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama on that issue. I mean, they are certain things they do actually agree on, and Republicans don't like that about McCain.

ROBERTS: You know, back to Iraq for a second. There's an interesting little bit of nuance that emerged tonight from Hillary Clinton. I watched an interview that our former colleague at CNN, Leon Harris, and John Harris from the "Politico" did with Hillary Clinton tonight, in which she said, you can't pull all the troops out right away. Got to leave some of them there to protect the people from Iraq and, you know, the embassy and all of that. She said maybe one brigade a month of combat forces. So that's an interesting little bit of detail there that we haven't heard before.

MARTIN: You know, if I'm Senator Clinton, I mean, I'll really stay away from this issue. In that Los Angeles debate, I mean, she danced and danced with that question. Her strength right now frankly, is to deal with the economy issue, not anything dealing with Iraq.

(CROSSTALK)

TOOBIN: I don't agree with that. MARTIN: I mean, it's not. It's not.

TOOBIN: I don't agree with that at all. I think showing the fact that she's very knowledgeable about military affairs...

BORGER: Yes.

TOOBIN: ... she's been on the Armed Services Committee, and she has said that one brigade a month is as much as the system can tolerate taking out at a time. I mean, that's -- I don't think there is anything wrong with showing how much you know on an issue that...

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: Look, you could show how much -- you can show how much you know --

TOOBIN: ... most people agree with her.

ROBERTS: Let me shift gears to the Republican side for a moment. As we explained, John McCain touts his leadership because he was a member of the military. He led a squadron. But Mike Huckabee is saying, hey, wait a minute. I was a governor. I've got lots of experience as a commander in chief. Listen to what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE HUCKABEE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, he hasn't had background as a commander in chief. He's been in the military, and I have great respect for that and I've stated that publicly. I have had experience as a commander in chief, overseeing the nearly 11,000 members of the Arkansas army and the Air National Guard, watching those troops go to battle, working with them when they came back, recognizing what we were asking them to do and dealing with them both from a state side as well as from a combat perspective.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: So does he have a point there?

BORGER: No.

MARTIN: No.

TOOBIN: No.

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: Can I just say this. Is he kidding?

BORGER: Yes. John McCain --

TOOBIN: Is he kidding? You are not the commander -- I mean, yes, technically you were the commander in chief of the Arkansas National Guard. But the Arkansas National Guard doesn't invade Missouri. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, no, no.

TOOBIN: ... when they do what they're told by the U.S. military.

BORGER: John McCain has been involved in every serious foreign policy issue and defense-related issue in this country in the last 20 years, by virtue of his position on the Armed Services Committee and by virtue of who he is.

(CROSSTALK)

ROBERTS: Great point.

MARTIN: But I guarantee you that there was a Democratic candidate who was a governor, making the exact same argument that I was the person who was running the show in the state. And like it or not, McCain has been running the show in the state.

BORGER: Oh, man.

ROBERTS: I do wish that Gloria and Jeffrey wouldn't sugar coat it.

TOOBIN: Right. You know.

ROBERTS: I got one more little statement to play for you here. Of course, Barack Obama is seen as being the person with the least experience in this, and listen to how George Bush put that yesterday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I certainly don't know what he believes in. The only foreign policy thing I remember he said was that he's going to attack Pakistan and embrace Ahmadinejad.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: From President Bush there about you know -- is this going to hurt him?

TOOBIN: And, by the way, false on both counts. He never said he would invade Afghanistan.

ROBERTS: Pakistan.

TOOBIN: Pakistan. He would go after Osama bin Laden, which, by the way, George Bush has failed to do, and he said that he would negotiate with Ahmadinejad. I don't think he said he would embrace it. I mean, I just thought that was outrageous.

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: John, but here's the deal. President George W. Bush, six years as a Texas governor, before that he run a baseball team. Obama, eleven years as a political official. And Bush had no zero foreign policy experience, so he may want to watch the comparison when he's trying to say he doesn't have experience.

BORGER: John, very quickly. I think this shows that George W. Bush thinks that Barack Obama might be the Democratic nominee.

ROBERTS: Well, we'll see how that turns out. You folks need to go away and get some sleep and come back with an opinion.

MARTIN: I want to ask Anderson Cooper, so I think we may need to work all the time.

(LAUGHTER)

ROBERTS: All right. Thanks, folks. Analysts Gloria Borger, Roland Martin and Jeffrey Toobin, thanks all.

"LARRY KING LIVE" coming up in just a few minutes time. Larry, you've got a big political night just ahead.

LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": Hey, John. We got a good one. On the eve of the Potomac Primaries, Michelle Obama is with us tonight, so we're in Washington. You think she could be the next first lady?

Mike Huckabee is hanging on in the GOP race. The numbers don't all add up in his favor. We'll ask him why he sticks around. And then, our political panel will be here, too. All at the top of the hour on "LARRY KING LIVE," Jonathan.

ROBERTS: Hopefully they'll have a little spice, Larry, unlike our political panel tonight. Thanks. We'll see you in about 11 minutes' time.

Well, we have spotted a very interesting trend in the exit polling. Latino Democrats are avoiding Barack Obama. What's going on and will the trend continue? And it could single heated tensions between blacks and Latinos. We'll find out coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have been all over Maryland and Virginia for the past couple of days, making pitches to every potential voter who will listen. Among those they're targeting -- Latinos. They're growing numbers could play a critical role in tomorrow's Democratic primaries. And if history has anything to say about it, Hillary Clinton has got the edge here.

Take a look. In western states where there is a large concentration of Hispanic-Americans, Clinton topped Obama in the Latino vote. But he's got new momentum. Will that translate the new votes from Latinos tomorrow? Or will Hillary Clinton continue to win their support? CNN's Deb Feyerick reports from Virginia.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NELLY ALEMAN-GUZMAN, LATINO VOTER: I was an army nurse.

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Yes.

ALEMAN-GUZMAN: My specialty was intensive care unit.

FEYERICK: And you won Purple Heart?

ALEMAN-GUZMAN: Excellent. Yes. I won a Purple Heart.

FEYERICK (voice-over): Now a tax consultant in northern Virginia, Guzman says her vote isn't about race or gender, but about experience and fixing the economy.

ALEMAN-GUZMAN: Obama has a lot of new people following him, but I'm not looking because he's black or he's a man. My feeling and my feeling is Hillary Clinton should be the president.

FEYERICK: At the start of the race, the Latino vote was seen as all but locked up by Senator Clinton. She won by huge margins among Latinos in California, New York, Florida and Nevada, prompting some to question whether Obama was being hurt by racial tensions between Latinos and African-Americans.

WILLIAM RAMOS, NATL. ASSOC. LATINO ELECTED OFFICIALS: That perceived tension does not necessarily translate into the fact that Latinos will not vote for an African-American. The Latino community, the electorate has matured as a voting block.

FEYERICK: Which is why both candidates have been aggressively courting the small but significant Latino vote here, in communities largely ignored in the past because the front-runner was usually chosen well before the Potomac Primaries.

FEYERICK (on camera): The voters we spoke with say they don't believe there's such a thing as a unified Latino voting block. What they do believe is because the Democrats are so close in this race, for the first time they feel their vote really matters.

FEYERICK (voice-over): Community activist, Aracely Panameno, agrees so strongly with Obama that undocumented workers should get driver's licenses. She printed up her own Latinos for Obama bumper stickers at a local store.

ARACELY PANAMENO, POLITICAL ANALYST: And the gentleman that was assisting me was an African-American and he wanted to know what was the difference and why I was leaning Obama. And so, when I explained he became a little bit upset, and I think I might have changed his vote.

FEYERICK: If the race stays as close as it is, it just might be Latinos in the final caucus in Puerto Rico, who could decide which Democrat gets the presidential nod. Deborah Feyerick, CNN, Alexandria, Virginia.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERTS: We are going to keep an eye on the Latino vote in tomorrow's Potomac Primaries. And later on this week, we'll dig deeper into these perceived tensions between Latinos and African- Americans to see if they are influencing how some Latinos are voting.

At the top of the hour on "LARRY KING LIVE," presidential candidate Mike Huckabee and presidential candidate's wife, Michelle Obama. Lots of politics ahead tonight on CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: Coming up tomorrow, it's the "Most Politics in the Morning" on "AMERICAN MORNING." We're going to take a close-up look at the races in the Potomac Primary and how they might shape out. And as well, you might have seen this video today. Take a look at this.

That's a funny car going down the track at 300 miles an hour. Wait until you see this angle here. Boom. Explodes into flames and hits the wall. We'll be talking to the man inside that car. It's amazing that he's even able to talk about what happened to him.

Join Kiran Chetry and me, tomorrow morning beginning at 6:00 a.m. Eastern for "AMERICAN MORNING." CNN's coverage of the Potomac Primaries continues all day and all night. Join the best political team on television right here in the "Election Center." That is all for this evening.

"LARRY KING LIVE" starts right now. Mike Huckabee and Michelle Obama are Larry's guests.

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