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Obama and McCain Sweep Potomac Primaries; What are Superdelegates?

Aired February 12, 2008 - 23:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Senator Obama filling the huge arena, basking in the glow of another substantial win as you'll see. A victory built on drastically better demographics than even a week ago.
Hillary Clinton is already in Texas; her so-called firewall against Obama. A sweep tonight as well for Senator John McCain; some early excitement down in the state of Virginia which started out too close to call until precincts in northern Virginia with more moderate voters coming in.

We'll take a close look at his challenges in this next hour. If he wins the nomination, can he unite the moderate and conservative wings of his party for the race ahead? Or those low numbers of Republicans turning out in these primaries, what does that mean for a general election?

We'll also examine the Democratic superdelegates; almost 800 party leaders and other VIPs and Donna Brazile who might have to step in and decide the Democratic race. You'll see though they're not a bunch of old stuffed shirts.

We'll be talking to one superdelegate other than Donna Brazile who is just 21 years old, this guy is.

All that, and more tonight.

Let's begin with checking in with CNN's Wolf Blitzer. Wolf.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Take a look, Anderson, and see what has happened tonight on the Democratic and Republican side. A clean sweep for John McCain on the Republican side and Barack Obama on the Democratic side.

Let's look at the Democrats first. In Virginia, with 99 percent of the precincts in, Obama gets 64 percent to Hillary Clinton's 35 percent; a decisive win for him there. Let's go to Maryland. Right now, 26 percent of the precincts are in. So far, he's got 60 percent to her 37 percent. In the District of Columbia, almost all the votes are now counted; 75 percent for Obama, to only 24 percent for Hillary Clinton.

Now to the Republican side. We'll go to Virginia first. John McCain gets 50 percent to Mike Huckabee's 41 percent. This was almost 100 percent of the vote now in in Virginia. In Maryland, only a quarter of the vote is in, but McCain with an impressive lead, 56 percent to 28 percent for Mike Huckabee. That's in Maryland. In the District of Columbia, where there aren't a whole lot of Republicans to begin with, but almost all of the vote is in, 68 percent for McCain, only 17 percent for Huckabee, 8 percent for Ron Paul, who is still in this contest as well.

In short, Anderson, an impressive series of wins; a clean sweep for both Barack Obama and John McCain.

COOPER: No doubt about that. We're back with CNN's John King at the map. John, what did we learn on the Democratic side tonight?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Barack Obama, Anderson, for the first time has passed Senator Clinton in terms of the delegate count. This is our delegate map here. Let's give him Virginia. Let's give him Maryland. Let's pull out a little bit so we can find the District of Columbia in here, here it is. We award that to Barack Obama.

Let's shrink the board back down. Here's where it's interesting. Now, count at the top of this map still an estimate; it has superdelegates involved. It's an estimate because a lot of the proportions take time to figure out.

Let's, for the sake of argument, this is unlikely to happen, but say Barack Obama runs the board. These are the states, the white states have yet to vote. I'll touch them, not in the order they'll vote, just they way they are in the map east to west. We're giving all of these to Barack Obama.

And watch this. Let me do this. Here's the finish line. This is Senator Obama. This is Senator Clinton here. We'll give you the rest of the states across the board to Senator Obama. It's programmed at a 55 percent to 45 percent margin.

Let's get them across the board to Senator Obama, watch this number grow. Senator Clinton is growing, too because of the proportional Democratic rules. But we're assuming a sweep by Obama. Now, again, it's just a hypothetical scenario, at 55-45.

Watch the numbers grow. Hawaii, we're now out of states. Look at this. If Obama runs the board winning 55-45 the rest of the way out, he still does not clinch the nomination.

Now these numbers could be adjusted. Let's say in the state of Hawaii, he wins by more. We can adjust the delegates a little based on the proportions that he moves up some. He would have to win by huge margins, 60/40, even higher than that to get to the finish line.

Unless this race breaks, you heard about Paul talking about momentum and the firewall in Texas. Unless the race breaks, you could conceivably see one candidate, if same Senator Clinton. If she ran the board the rest of way, she would end up at about the same spot.

So unless somebody starts winning by bigger margins, because of the Democratic proportional rules, this is the problem, the issue, the dilemma facing the Democratic Party. Somebody may get to the finish line at the end of the race, close, but not all the way across.

Now, on the Republican side, Anderson, this is what we learned tonight. Senator John McCain is way out front.

COOPER: Right.

KING: Way out here.

COOPER: The math is working in his favor.

KING: Governor Huckabee back here. We can play out the same scenario in reverse. Again, unlikely to happen, but let's give governor Huckabee the rest. We'll just hit them up. Watch what happens as these things start to grow. Watch and watch and watch and watch.

COOPER: So even if Mike Huckabee swept every state from now on --

KING: Sweeps them all --

COOPER: -- still John McCain reaches the delegates.

KING: If he sweeps them all, John McCain still gets to the finish line. Once you do the allocations, he's a little short here. But you would go in and do the allocations and John McCain would be across the finish line. This is without awarding John McCain these delegates tonight which he won. We have to give those to John McCain instead. Then inch him across the finish line.

Ultimately Mike Huckabee could win them all by significant margins and John McCain would still cross the finish line.

COOPER: And of course as John was just pointing the Democratic side, could boil down to the superdelegates.

Coming up we're going to one of the mysterious superdelegates. A 21-year-old, who could be determining who becomes president. We'll talk to them -- coming up.

Also tonight, the candidates in their own words; Senator John McCain, Senator Hillary Clinton and Senator Barack Obama from their speeches earlier tonight.

We'll be right back.


COOPER: We're back on a primary night in which the final outcome happens somewhat as expected. But when you dig deeper, there's a lot more to the picture than just three victories for Barack Obama and John McCain.

All four candidates were quick to put their stamp on the night and their spin. But mostly, as you'll see, they're already looking ahead. We want you to hear what they all had to say, starting with Senator Hillary Clinton in El Paso, Texas.


SEN. HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I see an America where everyone willing to work hard has a job with a rising income. And if you're willing to work full time, you have wages that lift you out of poverty.

I want to make sure every American who works full time has a minimum wage of at least $9.50. In fact, I would require that Congress cannot raise its own salaries unless it raises the minimum wage.

I see an America where health care is a moral right, not a privilege; where every man, woman and child has access to quality affordable health care. We can do this. We can have a uniquely American solution. We already have a plan that we can make available to everyone. It's the plan that provides health care to members of Congress. And it works well for members of congress and our staff and federal employees. It has lots of choices.

I want to make sure you have the same choices as your member of congress does. And we will help people pay for it, because I want everybody, everybody to have quality affordable health insurance.

And I also see an America where we and our dependence on foreign oil and we start growing and making our own energy, right here in Texas and America.


COOPER: Senator Hillary Clinton in El Paso earlier tonight.

Barack Obama is in Madison, Wisconsin. Here's some of what he had to say.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We call it the American dream, because it's a dream we have for ourselves and our own families, but it's a dream we have for everybody. It's a dream of the father who goes to work before dawn and lies awake at night wondering how he's going to pay the bills. He needs us to restore fairness to our economy by putting tax cuts into the pockets of working people and seniors and struggling homeowners.

It's a dream of the woman who told me she works the night shift after a full day of college and still can't afford health care for her sister who's ill. She needs us to finally come together to make health care affordable and available for every single American. That is long overdue.

It's the dream of the seniors. A man who lost his pension when the company he gave his life to went bankrupt. He doesn't need bankruptcy laws that protect banks and big lenders, he needs us to protect pensions, not CEO bonuses, and to do what it takes to make sure that the American people can count on social security today, tomorrow and forever. That's what he needs. That's his dream.

It's the dream of the teacher who works at a doughnut shop after school just to make ends meet. She needs better pay, and more support and the freedom to do more than just teach to the test because we want our children learning art and music and science and literature and history.

And if her students want to go on to college, they shouldn't fear decades of debt, which is why I'll make college affordable with an annual $4,000 tuition credit; every student, every year. But you won't get it for free, young people. You're going to have to invest in community service, work at a homeless shelter. Work in a veteran's home. Join the Peace Corps. Learn a foreign language. Join the Foreign Service.

We'll invest in you; you invest in your country. Together, America will move forward. That's what we dream of.

That is our calling in this campaign. That's our calling, to reaffirm that fundamental belief. I am my brother's keeper. I am my sister's keeper. That belief that makes us one people and one nation. It's time to stand up and reach for what's possible. Because together people who love their country can change it.


COOPER: On the Republican side, Senator John McCain spoke to supporters in Alexandria, Virginia. Take a look.


JOHN MCCAIN, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Now, my friends, comes the hard part, and for America; the much bigger decision. We don't yet know for certain who will have the honor of being the Democratic Party's nominee for president. But we know where either of their candidates will lead this country, and we dare not let them. We dare not let them.

You know, I'm going to promise a new approach to governing, but offer only the policies of a political orthodoxy that insists the solution to government's failures is to simply make it bigger. They will appeal to our dreams of a better future for ourselves and our families and our country. But they take from us more of the wealth we have earned to build those dreams, and assure us that government is better able than we are to make dedications and decisions about our future for us.

They'll promise to break with the failed politics of the past, but will campaign in ways that seek to minimize their exposure to questions from the press and challenges from voters who ask more from their candidates than an empty promise of, "Trust me, I know better."

They'll paint a picture of the world in which America's mistakes are a greater threat to our security than the malevolent intentions of an enemy that despises us and our ideals. A world that can be made safer and more peaceful by placating our implacable foes and breaking faith with allies and the millions of people in this world for whom America and global progress of our ideals has long been the last best hope of earth.

We will offer different ideas based on a better understanding of the challenges we face and the resolve to confront them with confidence in the strength and ideals of free people. The work we face in our time is great, but our opportunities are greater still.

In a time of war, and the terrible sacrifices it entails, the promise of a better future is not always clear. But I promise you, my friends, we face no enemy no matter how cruel, and no challenge no matter how daunting, greater than the courage, patriotism and determination of Americans. My friends, we are the makers of history, not its victims.


COOPER: Senator John McCain earlier tonight.

Dana bash is at McCain headquarters tonight. She joins me now.

Dana, clearly an exciting night for John McCain. What comes next?

DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, what comes next is essentially what you heard from John McCain tonight, and that was what was one of the most interesting things about his speech tonight. He left it to his campaign manager to, in kind of an odd way, to put out a press release right before John McCain spoke to make clear, point blank, John McCain will be the Republican presidential nominee.

But John McCain didn't say anything like that. Instead, he just made that point, just in the way he was talking. You just heard him in a lengthy way talk about the contrast between him and the Democrats. He's looking forward to the presidential, the general election.

But there is something even more interesting, Anderson. He really seemed to drill down on Barack Obama, in a few subtle ways, talking about the issue of hope. He's talking about his own experience in the prisoner of war camp in Vietnam; a lot more about his by biography. But again, all focusing on that word hope. Hope, of course, is a word that Barack Obama uses. His book "Audacity of Hope" is something he talks about a lot.

What John McCain said here is to encourage a country with only rhetoric and not proven ideas. That is something he said it is just platitudes, just platitudes. That was a direct hit at Barack Obama, that particular sentence there.

Clearly the McCain campaign is sort of looking at what happened tonight. Not just with John McCain on the Republican side, but with Barack Obama on the Democratic side and thinking more and more about him as a Democratic opponent.

The final line that we heard from John McCain was not subtle at all. At the very end of his speech here he says, "I'm all fired up." So that is something that we know that "I'm fired up and ready to go," I should say. That's something that we should know Barack Obama says at every single rally. It's kind of his signature line.

That was a shout out, if you will, from John McCain to Barack Obama; one that made it pretty clear that he's ready for any rivalry in a general election between him and Barack Obama.

COOPER: That's certainly something we heard from the Democrats as well tonight; both Senator Clinton and Barack Obama talking directly about John McCain. Senator Obama saying quite clearly he is looking forward to pointing out the differences, or what he sees as differences between himself and Senator McCain. He proposes it as the difference between the past and the future of both Democrats now directly talking more about John McCain really than they were talking about each other tonight.

Dana Bash, appreciate the reporting.

Mike Huckabee, we heard from him tonight. He is not giving up. He sat down tonight with Larry King.

Up next right after this short break, Larry's got a preview of that interview which is going to air in its entirety at 12:00 p.m. when Larry has a special -- when his election coverage special continues.

We'll be right back.


COOPER: What a night it has been. We are back with the Democratic delegate race nearly dead even. John McCain getting close to winning the Republican nomination with former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee under increasing from some within his own party to drop out of the race. He is not listening, however, he's pressing on.

Coming up in the next hour you'll hear his exclusive interview with CNN's Larry King. Larry joins us now with a preview. Larry?

LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": You're right, Anderson, he keeps on keeping on. I don't think he sees the clock or sees the writing on the wall. He just keeps hanging around. He is pervasive; doesn't give up.

And I asked Mike Huckabee many things. One of them dealt with having the deck stacked against you. Watch.


L. KING: Do the numbers, though, stack up against you, honestly?

MIKE HUCKABEE, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, sure they do. Let's face it, it would require me winning virtually everything else on the field. But here's the thing. We've got to get to 1,191 delegates in order to have a nominee. It's possible that I may not get to 1,191 before the convention but it's possible neither will Senator McCain.

L. KING: Are you, Mike, getting any pressure from fellow Republicans to leave the race?

HUCKABEE: Only from supporters of Senator McCain. I'm not getting any at all from what I would call truly objective party officials, because I think they know that they're the ones who set up the rules for the way this is played. I'm playing by the rules. They can hardly come and say, we don't want you to do that anymore.

And my supporters, if anything, have been energized. We're having more people go to, hit our website and contribute than we ever have. So they're not giving up yet. As long as my supporters, contributors and the people who are with us and got us here, when they're not giving up, it would be a pretty lousy thing for me to quit on them.

L. KING: If none of you have the necessary totals, will you go to St. Paul?

HUCKABEE: Oh, sure. I mean, that's why we have conventions. In the old days, conventions were where the drama happened.

L. KING: Right.

HUCKABEE: And you got to the convention, and that's where you really decided to hear the speeches, and listen to the pleas and see who could maneuver their way into the position. Maybe it's a time to create some serious ratings for our Republican convention. And boy, that would do it.


L. KING: You look up "never say never" in the dictionary and get a picture of Mike Huckabee. Anderson?

COOPER: That is definitely true, Larry. Thanks very much. You can see Larry's entire interview on his special beginning at 12:00 p.m. Eastern, which is in about 34 minutes or so from now.

Let's talk with our panel standing by here. Amy Holmes, Leslie Sanchez, and also John King.

John, moving forward. For -- well, there's no chance Mike Huckabee -- I mean, Mike Huckabee has no chance. How long do you think he'll stay in?

J. KING: He says he'll stay in until McCain gets 1,191. That would be even if McCain keeps winning -- if he keeps winning about this percentage as he did tonight, that would be at the end of March, if not into early April; probably around the end of March.

He's about 300 delegates away at the end of tonight. There are a lot of people in the McCain campaign who say -- they thought maybe he would get out after tonight. He says he will not. He's criticizing John McCain not personally, but on issues that would keep a conservative base, perhaps, away from John McCain. So the question is, is it a nuisance or is it a problem? There are some, Anderson, there are some, a minority among Republicans, that would be interesting, who thinks it's actually a good thing.

The longer Mike Huckabee stays in, most of those voters will vote Republican anyway in the fall. And it sends a signal to the independents that the far right doesn't like John McCain.

COOPER: Leslie Sanchez, a Republican strategist, how concerned are you by the, in comparison to the Democratic voter turnout, pretty low voter turnout among Republicans?

LESLIE SANCHEZ, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: If anything, that's the one thing that's what we need to be most concerned about. Donna Brazile was exactly right; it's over 180,000 votes. If you combine both McCain and Huckabee, Barack Obama had 180,000-plus more votes, just his candidacy alone in Virginia.

But there's an interesting thing with independents. Virginia's a traditionally red state since 1964. But if you look at the fact that Huckabee won independents by a ten-point margin and the rest of them went to Ron Paul. Certainly McCain got his chunk, but that was something that's really unexpected.

If you think about the fact that over 50 percent of these voters -- excuse me Huckabee voters -- decided within the last week. So this shows you there's a sense of momentum. There's a sense of desire to go with this candidate because he's speaking directly to something valuable to them.

COOPER: Amy Holmes, it's interesting, we heard from Barack Obama tonight saying that he's going to argue -- if he is the nominee -- he's going to argue that he's the candidate of the future. John McCain is a candidate of the past.

This stark contrast, visually we saw this when we cut from Barack Obama's speech to Senator John McCain's speech. You could not have a starker contrast in terms of the tableaux that all the viewers saw.

AMY HOLMES, CNN ANALYST: Sure in terms of the visuals but there was another element to McCain and who was standing behind him. Those were old party stalwarts in Virginia. That is, again to signal to Republicans that the establishment is behind him.

But I would love to address this voter turnout question. I want to give a shout out to my friends at National Review. They point out that in 1988, Democratic voter turnout was at 23 million voters where Republican turnout was only 12 million. And we're not saying President Dukakis. So there is cautionary tales in that story.

COOPER: What gives you hope, Leslie Sanchez, in terms of a McCain campaign against Barack Obama?

SANCHEZ: Oh, definitely the issue of national security and homeland security.

COOPER: It's going to boil down to that?

SANCHEZ: It's going to break right down the middle on those two. It's going to come very close.

COOPER: And the same with Senator Clinton and Senator McCain.

SANCHEZ: They're going to keep talking economy, health care, those types of things. But the trump card as it was in 2004 is going to be national security.

As much as people say, I'm concerned about these issues, if there is a risk that the United States would be vulnerable, they run back to the right. We know that as well as independents on their junkets speak to that. That is the issue that, above anything else, that's the other reason McCain won in Virginia is because he was seen as a strong leader.

COOPER: Before we go to Amy, I want to play a little sound from Senator Obama tonight. During his speech he talked directly about what he would speak to against John McCain. Let's listen.


OBAMA: If we had chosen a different path, the right path, we could have finished the job in Afghanistan. And put more resources into the fight against Bin Laden. Instead of spending hundreds of billions of dollars in Baghdad, we could have put that money into our schools, and our hospitals, rebuilding our roads and our bridges. That's what the American people need us to do right now.


COOPER: Amy Holmes, as a conservative, you hear that and think what?

HOLMES: I think of a Democrat who's trying to win the Democratic votes in a Democratic primary. And something that John McCain said in his victory speech was he was starting to draw the sharp contrast, or distinction, I should say, between himself and Barack Obama. He said he's not running to save his country which is in contrast to Barack Obama's sort of Messianic message that he's giving.

He said he's running because his country saved him. He was trying to touch a note of humble patriotism in contrast to Barack Obama's sort of loftier, uplifting theme.

COOPER: John King, you hear Barack Obama's speech and you think what?

J. KING: I think the Republicans will run a campaign that this is a liberal who does not understand the world and does not understand if the United States leaves Iraq or Afghanistan now, whether you think it was a good idea to go in or not, that America loses. That's a naive position. You see the Republican national committee already tonight put out a statement, put the chairman out on video saying, Barack Obama does not have the experience to be commander in chief.

COOPER: We heard that from President Bush on Sunday who said in an interview that Barack Obama wants to embrace Ahmadinejad, which is nothing that Barack Obama has said.

KING: That's the contrast they will make. They will essentially say he's a nice guy. He's too inexperienced. He was in the Illinois Senate just a few years ago. There are 100,000-plus troops in Iraq; 50,000 or so in Afghanistan. That this guy is not ready; that will be McCain's message.

SANCHEZ: He talked about it. He had built his campaign on a narrative of hope and opportunity versus fear. He directly went against what Hillary Clinton was going to be doing. And with that it's not a warning in America, but definitely a message of aspiration.

You're going feel like the Virginia voters. They said that they feel their personal financial situation was actually pretty good or holding steady. So they're much more optimistic when they hear Barack's message.

At the same his inexperience, and the fact he's throwing out everything in the world that he'd want to do. I was waiting fro the pony, you know, "I'm going to give you a pony. I want to do this and that."


It was -- if you figure his plan is over $800 billion in new spending it just doesn't make sense.

HOLMES: But the point that I really I want to hit upon tonight, we spent a lot of time talking about John McCain, can he get conservative support. In Virginia, when those Republican voters were asked if they would be satisfied with John McCain as their nominee, 74 percent said yes. Virginia Democrats when they were asked would they be satisfied with Hillary as their nominee, only 64 percent. If you compare those two numbers, Hillary may have farther to go in her party than John McCain.

J. KING: In this election, although it will largely be about the economy if you have a very close election, it could be based on how the country feels about Iraq in late October and early November not how they feel about Iraq in February.

COOPER: So much that can happen between now and then. Who knows exactly what the issue, the main issue will be on the forefront of people's minds.

When we come we'll talk to a Democratic panel, get some more look at the Democratic races and what we learned and what has changed tonight. It seems a lot has changed certainly in the state of Virginia for Barack Obama and as well as for Maryland. We're also going to talk to a superdelegate, a 21 superdelegate. Find out his thoughts about tonight and find out who has been contacting him.

A lot of folks have already been contacting him; some pretty big names. We'll be right back.



CLINTON: We're going to sweep across Texas in the next three weeks. Bringing our message about what we need in America, the kind of president that will be required on day one to be commander in chief, to turn the economy around. I'm tested, I'm ready, let's make it happen.


COOPER: Hillary Clinton tonight in El Paso, Texas, trying to look past a pretty rocky night for her. She didn't seem to have a problem with the passage she didn't even mention it actually; rocky, but by no means fatal. She and Barack Obama are roughly tied for delegates.

Coming up, we're going to be hearing from a remarkable superdelegate who might have a big decision to make, along with about nearly 800 other cohorts. He might, in so many words, have to break the tie.

First, some insight from our panel, John King, CNN's senior analyst Gloria Borger and along with senior political contributor Donna Brazile.

Let's talk about Texas. Wisconsin obviously right now seems to be going pretty well for Obama. Senator Clinton clearly is focusing on Texas. That is where the firewall, so to speak, is. What does that battle look like? Who has to do what in Texas?

J. KING: I think Paul Begala made a great point earlier when he said, she's lucky she has the time-out because Obama has the momentum right now. Texas is constructed demographically better for her based on everything we saw before tonight.

If Obama's inroads among Latinos and among professional women that he made in Virginia, hold up going forward, Senator Clinton has even a bigger problem. She has the Latino vote down there. She lived a long time in Arkansas. She's from Arkansas so she knows the neighborhood very well and she has the time to camp out there and work very hard. She does have some support on the ground from party officials and members of congress.

She needs to win Texas. She also needs to win Ohio. There are many questioning why she's essentially ceding Wisconsin. But Texas and Ohio in their own campaign they called them must-wins. There's a risk when you call something a must-win, it means you must win it. COOPER: Well, you can't then write it off later and say, "Well, actually, it didn't really matter. We didn't really care."

GLORIA BORGER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: But Anderson, she does have an advantage in those states. In the state of Ohio, she has the support of the governor. That means a lot in terms of organization, getting the voters to the polls.

The big thing also there is that independents can vote. And that could help Barack Obama. We saw that he beat Hillary Clinton 2-1 with independents this evening.

But again, her campaign, which is famous for lowering expectations, throughout this entire campaign, has now raised expectations because they don't have any other choice.

COOPER: Donna, what does Texas look like not only for Senator Clinton, but Barack Obama?

DONNA BRAZILE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I think it's a toss-up. I know Senator Clinton has enormous support in Texas. She's planning to camp out in the Rio Grande and other places.

But look, Senator Obama tonight broke out of his strategic lockbox. He was able to get blue collar Democrats. He was able to get women. He won the white vote in Virginia, which is huge. I think that Senator Clinton will find with this wave of momentum coming from all these states this past weekend and tonight, and of course, the next week in Wisconsin, Hawaii, it may be difficult to stop his wave of support by just spending time in Texas.

She really needs to compete. She cannot run an air campaign where she just drops in and goes. She needs to change the conversation. And she needs to start competing for some of these pledged delegates.

COOPER: The criticism that the Clinton campaign has made is that Barack Obama is not experienced, not tested and hasn't really been challenged. Particularly they also point to the media saying the media has basically given him kind of a free ride. Do you think that's true?

J. KING: He's now passed her in the delegate lead. His record is going to get a lot of scrutiny, there's no question about that. Her campaign does call us, e-mail us, prod us more saying she is getting more critical treatment.

She's a more known figure. That tends to happen. She's a more identifiable figure in American politics. People have negative opinions of her in the electorate. That has benefited Obama without a doubt.

To Donna's point, she's on a camp-out now. But the question I have -- it would be interesting is they're on the board, she has raised some more money now, she'll try to be more competitive advertising there. Will she go negative? I think that's a big question in the Democratic campaign. Or will they go more aggressive and contrast as the campaign consultants like to put it?

COOPER: You raised the money issue. It's an important issue. If you were a donor of Senator Clinton, a supporter of Senator Clinton and you hear tonight not only that she got crushed in Virginia and lost in Maryland and District of Columbia, but also hear that deputy campaign manager is, quote unquote, "resigned." The campaign manager resigned a couple of days ago. What message is sent to you as a donor?

BORGER: I've been e-mailing some donors, and they're like whatever happened to the $100 million. I thought we were winning. Fire the staff, is that what you do when you're winning?

They're upset because also, in all of these caucuses, which have proven so important to Obama, that's all organization. That's all grass roots organization. And that takes money. And that's where he spent his money.

So I'm looking at some numbers here, Anderson, that in eight states, primaries and caucuses, he beat Hillary Clinton by 2-1. That tells you something about the enthusiasm of his supporters.

Tonight when Barack Obama was speaking, he talked about a movement. Not a campaign, a movement. And that's what I think a lot of his supporters believe it is.

COOPER: Donna Brazile, earlier tonight Paul Begala, who is a Clinton supporter, said -- and a Democratic strategist obviously -- said that he thought Senator Clinton should basically change her message, or go back to what he interpreted as her original message as being sort of an economic populist. And he actually said that she should take Senator Edwards' speech.

John Edwards has not endorsed anybody at this point? Do you think he will? Do you think it will matter? And do you think Hillary Clinton really can, at this point, come up with a message that appeals to people in a way that she hasn't been appealing to them before?

BRAZILE: Absolutely. Look, I think she's very appealing. I think she's very inspirational. I don't know why her campaign made the strategic decision to run her as the establishment candidate, the incumbent in the race, the anti-hope.

Where's the joy? Campaigns are supposed to be about joy. That's what Obama has tapped into. He's tapped into, you know, people out there who really want change.

Let me address something that Amy said so I can go home and make myself a pot of beans. I understand Michael Dukakis had more votes than George Herbert Walker Bush, but that was a different political season. That was a year that Democrats ran dry just about all over the country.

This is a different season. Voters truly want change. The message that John McCain gave us tonight fear, fear, fear, fear. They want hope, hope, hope. COOPER: Well, you're going to go home and make yourself a pot of beans. I'm flying to New Orleans on Thursday. I'll send you a pot of gumbo if you send me some of your beans tonight.

Donna Brazile thanks very much. Gloria Borger and John King as well.

Superdelegates next. You remember superdelegates? We've been talking about them a lot tonight. The party elders who might end up deciding the race this time?

Well, coming up we'll talk to one of those party elders, he's all of 21 years old. He's here, we'll talk to him next.


COOPER: Whoever ends up taking the Democratic nomination is going to be very, very close. It could come down to superdelegates. You know that by now. That's what we keep hearing. Who exactly are the superdelegates? What makes them so super? And who decided their votes could trump yours and mine?

We've got a superdelegate with us tonight; he's all of 21 years old. His name is Jason Rae; we'll talk to him in a moment.

But first CNN's Tom Foreman tries to explain what he actually does.


TOM FOREMAN (voice-over): One person, one vote. Not in the Democratic primaries where the superdelegates are looming large.

TOM DASCHLE, OBAMA NATIONAL CO-CHAIRMAN: And they won't swing as a block. But the way they swing could make a huge difference, given their numbers and given who we're talking about; people with great respect within the party.

FOREMAN: Like Superman, superdelegates have powers that far outstrip those of the delegates elected by voters. There are nearly 800 superdelegates; members of congress, governors, party leaders. And at the convention, they can vote for whomever they wish.

That means in Illinois, which has 32 superdelegates, each one's vote will count as much as the combined votes of 13,000 regular Democrats. That rankles even some superdelegates, who say voters, not party bosses, should decide the race.

SAM SPENCER, SUPERDELEGATE IN MAINE: I think they're the best people to make the decision. I think superdelegates are somewhere out there and it's not the most Democratic way of doing things.

FOREMAN (on camera): Some party leaders say the superdelegate system is a reasonable way of avoiding a dead lock in a tight race. But some voters say on talk radio, and on blogs, that they will skip the election or even vote Republican if the supers decide. (voice-over) Others are suggesting superdelegates should mirror the voter preferences in their home state. But whether such a deal is worked out or not, right now, the race is heading down to the wire where the superdelegates are waiting.

Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.


COOPER: With us now is 21-year-old Jason Rae, who was too young to vote in the last presidential election, but could have a big say this time around.

Jason, it's good to have you here. First of all, how do you become a superdelegate?

JASON RAE, SUPERDELEGATE FROM WISCONSIN: In June of 2004 I ran for a spot in Wisconsin as one of the members of the Democratic National Committee. I ended up winning that race at 17 years of age --.

COOPER: You've always been a political junky?

RAE: I've always been a political junky. And I can remember back in 1992, I was in kindergarten, and I told my parents to vote for Bill Clinton as they dropped me off at the babysitter.

COOPER: You ran for a position with the DNC?

RAE: I ran for a position with the DNC. I got elected as a DNC member and all DNC members are automatic delegates for this upcoming convention.

COOPER: Did you think much about becoming a superdelegate until just now? I mean, now you're front and center.

RAE: Not at all. I had no idea what superdelegates were up until about a year ago.

COOPER: Who is the first big name person to call you?

RAE: The first big name would have been Secretary of State Madeline Albright.

COOPER: I love it that Madeline Albright called you up. Okay. Never called me by the way.

RAE: It was an interesting call. I was on my way to get my oil changed with a friend and she called.

COOPER: Did you know instantly it was her?

RAE: No. I answered the phone and I said, "Hi, this is Jason." She goes, "Jason, Madeline Albright here, how are you?" And I stopped for a second, I'm like, "Really?" And there it was.

COOPER: How many big names have you met? Bill Clinton called you up.

RAE: Bill Clinton called me.

COOPER: On your cell phone.

RAE: On my cell phone. I was getting ready to go out on a Friday night with some friends for dinner. I answered the phone and the other end goes, "Jason, please hold for the former president." And all of a sudden, there was Bill there talking. And it was like I started shaking for a minute thinking is this really happening or not.

COOPER: But as soon as you heard his voice, you knew.

RAE: As soon as I heard his voice, I knew it was it was him.

COOPER: And it was earlier during the break, you were like, "Oh yes, today I was hanging out with Michelle Obama." I've never met Michelle Obama. You get to hang out with all these people. We have pictures of you with Senator Obama. When did you meet him?

RAE: I met Senator Obama in February of '07 and then most recently in December of 2007.

COOPER: And also Senator Clinton.

RAE: I've met her several times. I was a senate page during high school and got to know her a little bit.

COOPER: Have you made up your mind on who you're voting for?

RAE: I have not a clue yet who I'm going to end up voting for. Wisconsin's primary is on Tuesday. I have my absentee ballot out at home ready to fill out. And I'm not actually sure where I'm going to put the check mark on the ballot.

COOPER: They're going to lobby you like nothing you've ever seen until then probably; all the way up through the convention.

RAE: Well, I don't think superdelegates are going to actually matter in the end. I think by the time we get to April 22nd with Pennsylvania, I think we're actually going to have a nominee.

COOPER: What were you doing with Michelle Obama today?

RAE: Just had a nice conversation. She came to Wisconsin for a campaign event. I just had a little chance to converse with her about some of the issues that I care about.

COOPER: So you know a lot of folks at home are going to be saying this and looking at this and thinking, why should you have any more power, any more say than anyone else, and why should you have such a decisive role?

RAE: I think it's because as a superdelegate, I have an opportunity to interact with these candidates on a one-on-one basis and really get to understand the inner workings of what's going on in the campaign. I think that really helps to make an informed decision when it comes time to vote at the convention.

COOPER: So does everybody in Iowa and New Hampshire. They all hung out with these people more than anybody.

RAE: And I think that's why my vote is just equal to everyone in Iowa and New Hampshire. I think superdelegates are not this special party bosses in the backroom. They're party activists like myself who have been involved in the county party, riding my bike to meetings, volunteering, wearing out pairs of shoes during door knocking and things like that. Superdelegates are just regular party activists.

COOPER: Anybody every try to slip you any cash?

RAE: No, they haven't.

COOPER: It may come to that.

RAE: I don't think so.

COOPER: Is this -- this is clearly the most interesting race we've ever covered. Is it the most interesting race you've ever seen?

RAE: The most interesting race I've ever seen by far. No one could have anticipated that it was going to be so close, this early. People thought Super Tuesday was going to decide everything. And the race would die out after that. We're seeing that 2008 is going to be a year full of election and full of excitement.

COOPER: When this is all said and done and no one's calling you anymore, because they're going to drop you like a hot potato --I just want to tell you that -- are you going to be disappointed or are you going to be sort of like --

RAE: Not at all. I'll actually be excited to get back to school work finally so I don't get behind anymore. I still have more readings for class.

COOPER: You're clearly interested in the political process. It's nice to meet you and actually put a face to a superdelegate. Jason thanks for coming in.

RAE: Thank you Anderson.

COOPER: Larry King has what's coming up at the top of the hour. Larry.

L. KING: Jason, not your typical back room guy. The smoke- filled rooms would be good, except Jason has never held a cigar.

COOPER: Jason is going to be coughing in the smoke-filled room.

RAE: It's true.

L. KING: We've got quite a show coming up at midnight; it's a special edition of "Larry King Live." We've got a lot of pundits. John King comes aboard and Amy Holmes and Larry Schwartz, Ed Schultz, the talk show host Andrew Silcoe will be with us. Candy Crowley is out in Wisconsin already. And Bill Schneider gets us all up to date on things. John King heralds a lot of other stuff.

That's at midnight eastern, 9:00 Pacific at the top of the hour.

Anderson will be right back right after this.



MCCAIN: Thank you. Thank you, voters, of Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia for a clean sweep of the Chesapeake primary.


COOPER: Some of the Republican Party have yet to embrace John McCain. There is one point Republicans agree on, who they prefer to run against. With more on that, here's CNN's Randi Kaye.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Two Democratic senators, nearly identical platforms. If you were Republican, which would you want your nominee to run against?

LARRY SABATO, POLITICAL ANALYST: The Republicans are unanimous, publicly and privately, in hoping that Hillary Clinton is the Democratic candidate.

KAYE: Political analyst Larry Sabato says Republicans believe Hillary Clinton is so polarizing, that she unites the Republican Party.

SABATO: Even if they don't like their nominee, they will look to Hillary Clinton and say, "Hey, I'd rather have our candidate with all his flaws than have Hillary Clinton in office."

KAYE: Another advantage with this match-up? What our analysts call "Clinton fatigue."

SABATO: Her greatest disadvantage is she's associated with the Clinton name. Hillary Clinton has a lot of baggage, and we refer to that baggage as "Clinton fatigue."

KAYE: An Associated Press poll conducted after Super Tuesday shows if the election were held today, McCain versus Clinton would end in a virtual tie. Clinton 46 percent, McCain 45 percent. But if Obama's on the ticket, McCain goes down with 42 percent. Obama wins with 48 percent.

(on camera) Why would Republicans be more concerned competing against Barack Obama? There're a few reasons according to analyst, Larry Sabato. Obama is so inspirational. He also doesn't have much of a record. It's hard to attack someone, Sabato says, who's cast relatively few votes.

(voice over) But the Obama jitters don't stop there. Remember, Obama is the only nominee to oppose the war in Iraq from the start.

SABATO: If it's John McCain and Barack Obama, you do have a very clear choice. The choice will still be clear with Hillary Clinton, but it's a little bit fuzzy, because she did vote to authorize the war.

KAYE: Republicans also worry with Obama and McCain attractive to independents the vote would be split. Same goes for men. Male voters favor Obama over Clinton. So that can make it tougher for McCain who also does well with men to win.

With more than nine months to go before the election, it's a match-up that's fun to think about, but like the polls, has a pretty high margin of error.

Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.


COOPER: Yeah, those polls certainly do have a high margin of area. Reminder -- at the top of the hour, in just a couple of minutes, more of Larry King's interview with Mike Huckabee, an exclusive tonight.

That's next. We'll be right back.