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Results of Primaries in Wisconsin, Washington and Hawaii

Aired February 19, 2008 - 21:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Just to set the stage, on the Republican side, 37 delegates are at stake in the State of Wisconsin in the contest between John McCain and Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul. On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton versus Barack Obama.
This is an important state because so far, Barack Obama, as we've been pointing out, has won eight states in a row. If he wins tonight in Wisconsin, that would make it nine -- setting nine stage for March 4th.

CNN can project that John McCain will win -- will win the Republican primary in the State of Wisconsin tonight. John McCain beating Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul in Wisconsin. John McCain racking up more delegates for himself in Wisconsin. We don't know how big of a margin that will be, but John McCain, CNN projects, will win in Wisconsin tonight.

On the Democratic side, here's what we can tell you. Based on the exit polls that we have been doing throughout this day among those who are voting in Wisconsin, the exit polls indicate that Barack Obama does have a lead over Hillary Clinton. But CNN is not ready to make a projection at this point. We're going to wait and see what happens as the actual vote starts coming in the State of Wisconsin.

Right now in the exit polls, there's a lead for Barack Obama. But we're not yet ready to make a projection on the Democratic side, in contrast to the Republican side, where we are now projecting John McCain is the winner. Let's go to Dana Bash in Columbus, Ohio, watching all of this unfold. She's over at a McCain rally in Columbus.

Two weeks from today, the Ohio primary takes place. Good news for John McCain.

DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. You know, the key here at this point in the race -- Wolf, you can see they have CNN on here, so that's why the excitement behind us, because they also saw the fact that CNN called the race for John McCain.

But, you know, what I was starting to say is that at this point, if you're John McCain, the key is do no harm in terms of these primary contests. And that is exactly what John McCain did in the State of Wisconsin by doing well, by doing, you know, very, very well in general, but, also, well in terms of the conservative voters.

And according to our exit polls, it seems that the conservative vote was actually split between John McCain and Mike Huckabee. And that is no doubt something that the McCain campaign is going to be touting again and again over the next couple of days, because, you know, John McCain even said in this room where I am right now, just a few -- a few hours ago -- that he understands that they do have work to do in terms of the conservatives. But he also is really banking on states like Wisconsin, states like Ohio, to continue to really exercise his appeal to Independent voters.

And so that is the kind of thing that he is going to be talking about tonight. He's also, Wolf, going to be talking very much about the fact that he is going to be pivoting forward, pivoting toward the general election, pivoting toward the fight that he thinks he will have with either Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton. But just as we saw a couple of weeks ago -- or last week, I should say, we are, I'm told, going to hear a lot more illusions, maybe less thinly veiled illusions to the fight that he thinks is going to have with Barack Obama -- Wolf.

BLITZER: And we'll be watching that and we'll be waiting -- John McCain's remarks behind you, as well, at some point tonight. We'll go there live, Dana. Thanks very much.

CNN once again projecting that John McCain will beat Mike Huckabee in the State of Wisconsin tonight. But our exit polls show that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama -- we're not ready to make a projection on the Democratic side. The exit polls show that Obama has a lead over Hillary Clinton, but CNN is not ready -- at least not now -- to make a projection on the Democratic side. We'll wait and see the actual poll -- the actual votes come in and then we'll show those to our viewers, as well.

Anderson Cooper has got our analysts to discuss.

Go ahead and discuss -- Anderson.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Discuss amongst yourselves, please.

How much time has John McCain spent focusing right now on Mike Huckabee? How much of it is focusing on either Barack Obama or Senator Clinton?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: One of the ways you focus on Mike Huckabee is by making a strong case against the Democrats, so that those Republican voters who are still a little bit skittish about you don't maybe think you're the strongest candidate or have some grievance against you. If they say you know what, this guy is making the case against the Democrats in the fall, that is the most important argument.

So what he's saying is I respect Governor Huckabee. He will make his own decision about when to get out of the race. That's fine. Now listen to me -- boom -- and turns and tries to make the argument on taxes, Iraq, national security against the Democrats. That is what the McCain campaign thinks is the best way to silence his critics, is to prove that he will be a strong nominee for the party against the Democrats in the fall. COOPER: Let me turn to Gloria Borger. In terms of reaching out to conservatives, is that still a major effort on his part?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Sure. He is. He is trying to reach out to conservatives. You know, if you've covered John McCain long enough -- and a lot of us here have -- you can tell when he gets this sort of forced smile on his face, as he did when he was talking to the Conservative Political Action Committee -- like I had better smile now. This is -- I need...


BORGER: ... I need to do this. And he's doing that with conservatives. But he's also, at the same time, had all of his top folks to his place in Arizona, talking about the general election and their strategy to run against either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama. So they're really focusing on that, as well.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR ANALYST: Well, actually what they're going after now is Michelle Obama, because she made this peculiar statement yesterday for the first -- oops, sorry.

COOPER: I know. Keep going. I just want to tell our viewers John McCain is on the stage with his wife. He's going to be thanking a lot of people initially, so we will bring you his speech as soon as it begins. But go ahead, Jeffrey.

TOOBIN: Well, Michelle Obama yesterday said for the first time in her life she's proud of the United States during this campaign. It is a somewhat odd statement, considering she's been an adult probably since the mid-1980s. But the McCain campaign put his wife out forward, saying she's always proud of the United States. And, you know, patriotism is one of those areas where the Republicans have felt that they have a very strong argument with a lot of people. They're trying to drive it home with that criticism.

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Anderson, the Republican convention is six-and-a-half months away. McCain certainly has the time to be able to make those connections with conservatives. That's what's key. His focus now is raising money. That's why he's traveling around the country. He's got to have the dough to compete, simple as that.

COOPER: I want to bring in Amy Holmes, as we're waiting for John McCain.

Amy, how important is this night for John McCain? Where does he go from here?

AMY HOLMES, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it's a big night. And if you were to look at the glass half full, he did get 45 percent of that conservative vote. It's not great not. It's not over 50 percent. But it's better than he's done in the past. In Virginia, he only got 30. In Maryland, he got 43 percent. So perhaps that number is creeping up for him.

COOPER: Let's listen in to John McCain.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: ... Naval aviator can claim with confidence and humility that I will be our party's nominee for president of the United States.


MCCAIN: And I thank you, Wisconsin.


MCCAIN: I promise you I will wage a campaign with determination, passion and the right ideas for strengthening our country that prove worthy of the honor and responsibility you have given me. My friends, I again want to commend Governor Huckabee, who has shown impressive grit and passion himself and whom, though he remains my opponent, I have come to admire very much. Let's -- Governor Huckabee.


MCCAIN: And, of course, I want to thank my wife Cindy ...


MCCAIN: ... my daughter Meghan and the rest of my family for their indispensable love and encouragement. My friends, we've traveled a great distance together already in this campaign and overcome more than a few obstacles. But as I said last week, now comes the hard part, and, for America, the bigger decision.

Will we make the right changes to restore the people's trust in their government and meet the great challenges of our time with wisdom and with faith in the values and ability of Americans, for whom no challenge is greater than their resolve, courage and patriotism?

Will we do that? Or will we heed appeals for change that ignore the lessons of history and lack confidence in the intelligence and ideals of free people? I will fight every moment of every day in this campaign to make sure Americans are not deceived by an eloquent but empty call for change that...


MCCAIN: ... that's no more than an eloquent but empty call for change, that promises no more than a holiday from history and a return to the false promises and failed policies of a tired philosophy that trusts in government more than the people.


MCCAIN: Our purpose is to keep this blessed country free, safe, prosperous and proud.


MCCAIN: And the changes we offer to the institutions and policies of government will reflect and rely upon the strength, industry, aspirations and decency of the people we serve. My friends, we live in a world of change, some of which holds great promise for us and all mankind, and some of which poses great peril. Today -- today, political change in Pakistan is occurring.

It might affect our relationship with a nuclear armed nation that is indispensable to our success in combating Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and elsewhere. An old enemy of American interests and ideals is leaving the world stage and we can glimpse the hope that freedom might someday come to the people of Cuba.


MCCAIN: A self-important bully in Venezuela threatens to cut off oil shipments to our country at a time of skyrocketing gas prices. Each event poses a challenge and an opportunity. Will the next president have the experience, the judgment, experience and forums and the strength of purpose to respond to each of these developments in ways that strengthen our security and advance the global progress of our ideals?

Or will we risk the confused leadership of an inexperienced candidate, who once suggested bombing our ally, Pakistan, and suggested sitting down, without preconditions or clear purpose, with enemies who support terrorists and are intent on destabilizing the world by acquiring nuclear weapons? I think you know the answer to that question.


MCCAIN: The most important obligation of the next president is to protect Americans from the threat posed by violent extremists who despise us and our values and modernity itself. They are moral monsters but they're also a disciplined, dedicated movement driven by an apocalyptic zeal which celebrates murder, has access to science, technology and mass communications and is determined to acquire and use weapons against us of mass destruction.

The institutions and doctrines we relied on in the cold war are no longer adequate to protect us in a struggle where suicide bombers might obtain the world's most terrifying weapons. If we are to succeed, we must rethink and rebuild the structure and mission of our military, the capabilities of our intelligence and law enforcement agencies, the purposes of our alliances, the reach and scope of our democracy, the capacity of all branches of government to defend us.

My friends, we need to marshal all elements of American power -- our military, economy, investment, trade and technology and our moral credibility to win the war against Islamic extremists and help the majority of Muslims, who believe in progress and peace, win the struggle for the soul of Islam.


MCCAIN: No one knows better -- no one knows better than here in Ohio and in the heartland of America the challenges and opportunities of the global economy that require us to change some old habits of our government, as well. But we will fight for the right changes -- changes that understand our strengths and rely on the common sense and values of the American people.

My friends, we will campaign to balance the federal budget not with smoke and mirrors, but by encouraging economic growth and preventing government from spending your money on things it shouldn't to hold it...


MCCAIN: ... to hold it accountable for the money it does spend on services that only government can provide in ways that don't fail and embarrass you. To save Social Security and Medicare on our watch -- on our watch, without the tricks, lies and posturing that have failed us for too long while the problem has become harder to solve. To make our tax code simpler, fairer, flatter more pro-growth and more pro-jobs.


MCCAIN: To reduce our dangerous dependence on foreign oil with an energy policy ...


MCCAIN: ... with an energy policy that encourages American industry and technology to make our country safer, cleaner and more prosperous by leading the world in the use development and discovery of alternate sources of energy.


MCCAIN: To open markets to American goods and services, create more and better jobs for the American worker and overhaul unemployment insurance and our redundant and outmoded programs for assisting workers who have lost a job that's not coming back to find a job that won't go away.


MCCAIN: To help Americans without health insurance acquire it without bankrupting the country and ruining the quality...


MCCAIN: ... and ruining the quality of American health care that is the envy of the world. To make our public schools more accountable to parents and better able to meet the critical responsibility they have to prepare our children for the challenges they'll face in the world they'll lead. My friends, I'm not the youngest candidate, but I am -- but I'm the most experienced. (APPLAUSE)

MCCAIN: My friends, I know what our military can do, what it can do better and what it should not do. I know how Congress works and how to make it work for the country and not just for the reelection of its members. I know how the world works. I know the good and the evil in it. I know how to work with leaders who share our dreams of a freer, safer and more prosperous world and how to stand up to those who don't.


MCCAIN: And my friends, I know who I am and what I want to do. My friends, I don't seek the office out of a sense of entitlement. I owe America more than she has ever owed me. My friends --


MCCAIN: I've been a perfect servant of my country for many years. I've never lived a day, in good times or bad, that I haven't been proud -- proud of the privilege.


MCCAIN: Don't tell me what we can't do. Don't tell me we can't make our country stronger and the world safe. We can, we must and when I am president, we will.


MCCAIN: Thank you and God bless you. And God bless America.


MCCAIN: Thank you very much. Thank you for being here. Thank you.


COOPER: Senator John McCain speaking before a crowd after winning the State of Wisconsin.

John King, clearly some of themes we have heard from Senator McCain before, but a few new ones, as well.

KING: You'd think maybe Senator McCain is betting that his opponent in the fall will be Senator Obama?


KING: It sounds like it. He didn't mention Senator Clinton. That was full bore welcome to the fall campaign, I will campaign against him, saying that he's inexperienced, that he's liberal, that he doesn't know the world and I do. That was a complete assault -- polite assault, but a direct assault on Barack Obama. And it signals to you, without a doubt, Anderson, inside the McCain campaign, they think that is the trend of the Democratic race. And they also think -- to the point you were raising earlier -- that the best way to convince any skeptical Republicans, conservatives still out saying, do I want to get behind John McCain, is to show that you will go and take on the fall campaign with energy and vigor.

COOPER: We want to show our viewers probably the bite which will be at least the most quoted one from that speech.

Let's listen.


MCCAIN: ... every moment of every day in this campaign to make sure Americans are not deceived by an eloquent but empty call for change that...


COOPER: That was an empty call for change that promises no more than a holiday from history and a return, basically, he said, to the failed policies of the past.


TOOBIN: Interesting. This was the argument that Hillary Clinton has tried and failed to make against Barack Obama.

MARTIN: Right.

TOOBIN: Leaders -- the change versus experience. McCain is embracing experience, hoping that he will do better at it than Hillary Clinton has done so far.

BORGER: And, also, he's -- he talked about Obama's -- though he didn't say his name -- confused leadership, which also sort of brings up this notion of youth -- you know, he's just confused. He's a young guy.

COOPER: And even referencing -- though he said it in other speeches before Michelle Obama said the thing about now being -- you know, this is the first time she's been proud to be an American -- being very clear tonight that -- probably referencing the Obama campaign. I mean he said he's been always proud to be an American.

KING: Look, John McCain has the resume to play the patriotism card. The question is will it work? But if you talk inside the McCain campaign and to other Republicans, their calculation Obama right now is, A, that Obama will win. And we'll see if Senator Clinton can prove them wrong. And their calculation then is that they will portray him as to the left of Michael Dukakis, even to the left of George McGovern.

COOPER: We're getting some numbers in now from Wisconsin, both the Republican and Democratic side. Let's go to Wolf Blitzer.

BLITZER: All right, let's take a look at these numbers on the Democratic side first. Less than one percent of the precincts have actually reported. Right now, so far, 52 percent for Obama, 47 percent for Hillary Clinton. But it's a tiny, tiny fraction less than 1 percent of the precincts -- 2,195 for Obama, 1,963 for Hillary Clinton. This process is only just beginning on the Democratic side.

On the Republican side, also less than one percent of the precincts reporting. McCain -- and we've projected he will be the winner in tonight's Republican primary in Wisconsin. So far with 64 percent of the vote to 28 percent for Huckabee, five percent for Ron Paul. But, once again, a tiny number, insofar as 684 for McCain, 299 for Huckabee, 54 for Ron Paul.

John McCain is the winner in Wisconsin. And, as a result, he gets all of the 37 delegates at stake today.

And CNN can now project that Barack Obama will win the Wisconsin Democratic primary. This is the ninth win in a row for Barack Obama. You can put a check -- and there it is -- right next to his name. Based on the exit polls that we've been conducting throughout the day and based on the actual votes that are coming in a tiny, tiny percentages of the precincts reporting so far, we are comfortable in projecting that Barack Obama will carry the Wisconsin contest tonight and get the majority of those delegates in the process.

Under the system that the Democrats have come up, with they'll split those delegates because of the Congressional districts and the proportion of representation. But another big win for Barack Obama in the State of Wisconsin right now. An important win -- the ninth win. And if he goes ahead and he carries Hawaii later tonight, that will be his tenth win in a row. Let's go out to the Obama rally.

I don't know if the folks behind, you know, it yet, Candy, but we've just projected that Barack Obama will win in Wisconsin tonight.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I can tell you that those around me know that because they're watching our video here. But look, what can you say about 9-0? This is something that the Obama campaign thinks will propel them in Texas, right here where he is.

They are moving right along. They believe that he has a real shot here, despite the fact that this is the so-called firewall for Hillary Clinton, this and Ohio. So a lot of high-fiving around the Obama camp at this point. They do believe that the pressure was on to win this one, I will tell you that.

But they also believe, as I told you earlier, Wolf, that this is a no excuse win for Obama and a no excuse loss for Hillary Clinton. They believe that there were voters here that were part of the natural constituency of Hillary Clinton. They believe that, as Obama did in Virginia and in Maryland and in Washington, D.C. , he cut into her base vote -- working class, lower income, high school graduates. They believe that they have made real inroads there, as they begin to pore over the same figures that we're looking at -- Wolf.

BLITZER: And there's no doubt that nine wins in a row -- and if he goes ahead and carries Hawaii, where he was born, later tonight, that would be 10 wins in a row. That really puts the pressure on Hillary Clinton two weeks from today in Texas, where you are, and in Ohio, where the other big contest on March 4th. Those two states have got to be do or die for Hillary Clinton.

CROWLEY: Well, I'm not sure they're do or die, but she certainly has to do well. And we can see already from what these campaigns are doing -- the calls to the superdelegates, the talk that even pledge delegates are game for anybody that wants to go after them -- the Clinton campaign and the Obama campaign still see this going right up to the convention.

Now that may change depending on how the wind blows post this Wisconsin victory for Obama and perhaps a Hawaii victory. So -- but both of them, at this point, believe that neither one is going to get enough delegates to go over that top in time for the convention. So this may, again, be a superdelegate question, which neither campaign, by the way, at this point, really wants it to go that far. But that's, when they add up the math, when we add up the math, that's what they believe is going to happen -- Wolf.

BLITZER: An enthusiastic crowd in Houston, Texas right now. They're awaiting Barack Obama. He's going to be coming out pretty soon, we're told, Candy, and speaking to that crowd right there. We're going to carry his remarks live.

I'm going to be listening to see if he goes after John McCain, just as John McCain, we just heard, went after Barack Obama, in pretty thinly veiled words that he just delivered. We'll see what Barack Obama has to say. That's coming up pretty soon.

Candy, stand by for that.

I want to go to Soledad O'Brien and Bill Schneider, because both of you guys are looking at the exit polls. And I think you can tell us how he did it.

How did Barack Obama win Wisconsin?

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Candy, was talking a moment ago about simple math. And it's kind of the same thing here...


O'BRIEN: The simple math for Barack Obama was that he just dominated across a lot of categories. So when you take a look, for example, at Democrats -- voters who decided last month what they were going to do, as far as what happened when they got and went into the polling booth, what did you see?

SCHNEIDER: We saw momentum. Look at this. Voters who decided in the last month, Obama leads Clinton by 25 points. These late deciders, since really Obama has started winning, he's really picked up speed in Wisconsin. And that was the key to his victory.

O'BRIEN: For those voters who decided before then. So over a month ago.

SCHNEIDER: Over a month ago, it was a close race. Look at voters who decided more than a month ago and you see Clinton was barely ahead of Obama -- Clinton 50 percent, Obama, 49 percent. Basically a tie. So it was basically neck-and-neck until he started winning, and that momentum carried him to victory.

O'BRIEN: For voters who said the economy is the top issue for them, he took that category, too.

SCHNEIDER: He did. And this has got to be a disappointment to Hillary Clinton and her supporters, because the economy was the issue she was running on. She believed that the economy would pay off for her in Wisconsin and in two weeks in Ohio. But, look, among that -- well, that's not quite right. Among those Democrats who said the economy is the top issue, Obama led Clinton by 12 points, 55-43.

O'BRIEN: I thought it was fascinating to see the person most likely to unite the country. Obama took that by a lot.

SCHNEIDER: He certainly did. There it is, 63-35. He's a uniter. He promises to deliver what George Bush promised and never delivered. He, Bush, said in 1999 he would be a uniter, not a divider. And I don't think that materialized.

Obama is saying I can be a uniter. Hillary Clinton, he says, is not a uniter, because you remember, it reminds voters of the Clinton wars of the 1990s. That's a big issue for him and he clearly dominates the vote among Democrats, who say they want someone who can unite the country.

O'BRIEN: Those numbers are very similar when you take a look at the who voters think is most likely to win come November.

SCHNEIDER: Electability -- another quality where he's standing out. Hillary Clinton has argued a lot that she's the more electable candidate, she has the experience, she's been around. But among all the Democrats who voted today, we asked them, who do you think is most likely to beat the Republican in November? The answer -- Obama, 63, Clinton, 37. A clear margin of support for Obama as the more electable Democrat. Electability is now on his side.

O'BRIEN: And as, Wolf, you pointed out not even really thinly veiled at all, I thought, attacks on Barack Obama from Senator John McCain. It will be interesting to hear what Barack Obama has to say when he comes out.

BLITZER: Right. We'll see if he gets tough with John McCain, as John McCain obviously just got tough with Barack Obama.

All right, guys. I know you've got more numbers to go through. Thanks very much. And I just want to let our viewers know, if you want to see all these exit poll numbers, you can go to You can also see the results coming in county by county, state by state.

Wisconsin -- CNN has projected Barack Obama will win on the Democratic side. John McCain will win on the Republican side. We just heard from John McCain. Momentarily, pretty soon, we're told, Barack Obama will be speaking at that rally in Houston, Texas. We'll go there live. We're going to hear what he has to say later tonight. We'll also hear what Hillary Clinton has to say, as well.

We're also standing by to hear from Mike Huckabee. He has lost in Wisconsin. But we'll hear what he has to say in Little Rock, Arkansas. That's where he's from.

Much more of our coverage coming up right here at the CNN Election Center.


BLITZER: Hillary Clinton is getting ready to make an appearance in Youngstown, Ohio. She's there right now, where we're watching it and she has, in fact, started speaking to her supporters. She doesn't win in Wisconsin. Let's hear what she has to say.

SEN HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I also want to thank Shelly Murray (ph), the school board president, and Amy Litke (ph), the student rep to the school board, and I particularly want to thank the Cheney High School and East High School Marching Bands.

Well, hello, Youngstown. How are you tonight?

I am thrilled to be here with all of you. And it is great to see this enthusiasm and this energy. And tonight I want to talk to you about the choice you have in this election and why that choice matters. It is about picking a president who relies not just on words, but on work, on hard work to get America back to work. That's our goal.

You know, when I think about what we're really comparing in this election, you know, we can't just have speeches. We've got to have solutions. And we need those solutions for America.

We've got to get America back in the solutions business, because while words matter, the best words in the world aren't enough unless you match them with action.

But this election is not about me or my opponent. It is about you. It's about your lives and your dreams and your future. And I can't do this without all of you here in Youngstown and across Ohio. It is going to take an effort from all of us.

Now, you may have heard that I actually loaned my campaign some money. And I was honored and humbled by the support that I have received since, from people like the young mom who sent me $10 and wrote that, "My two daughters are two and four, and I want them to know anything is possible," or the gentleman who described himself as an independent voter, a veteran, and a "generally cranky conservatives" who decided to support me.

If we pull together, I know we can do this. So I hope you'll go to and support this campaign because it is your campaign. I hope you will go to my Web site, because if you do, you'll find at all of my positions, everything that I have been working on, because I know what's happening in America.

People are struggling. They're working the day shift, the night shift. They're trying to get by without health care. They're just one paycheck away from losing their homes. They cannot afford four more years of a president who just doesn't see or hear them at all.

They need a president ready on day one to be commander-in-chief, ready to manage our economy, and ready to beat the Republicans in November.

With your help, I will be that president.

This is the choice we face. One of us is ready to be commander- in-chief in a dangerous world. Every day, around the world, situations arise that present new threats and new opportunities, situations like the change of leadership in Cuba today.

I have served on the Armed Services Committee. I've been to more than 80 countries, worked with world leaders, stood up to the Chinese government to declare that women's rights are human rights.

And I am ready to end this war in Iraq and this era of cowboy diplomacy.

I will restore our leadership and moral authority in the world without delays, without on-the-job training, from day one.

One of us has a plan to provide health care for every single American, no one left out. And I believe -- I believe health care is a right, not a privilege. And I will not rest until every American is covered. That is my solemn promise to you.

My opponent leaves out at least 15 million Americans. The question is: Who would we leave out? Would we leave out the mother I met who grabbed my arm and said the insurance company wouldn't pay for the treatment that her son needed? Will we leave that family out?

And who will pay for those we leave out? I don't want to leave anyone out. I am not running to put Band-Aids on our problems; I'm running to solve our problems.

One of us has a plan to actually address the growing foreclosure crisis, which is so terrible here in Ohio. I've called for a freeze on subprime foreclosures and interest rates to ensure that millions of families across the country won't be receiving that grim letter from the bank.

I proposed $30 billion in assistance to help families avoid foreclosures and to help communities rebound from this housing crisis, because no one should foreclose on the American dream. And we're going to stop it.

One of us has a plan to revive our economy right now by creating millions of new clean energy jobs, and we can do that right here in Youngstown. We can put people to work. And I will also rein in the corporate special interests by eliminating more than 50 billion dollars of George Bush's special breaks for the oil companies, the drug companies and Wall Street.

We're going to give the middle class a break instead. We'll put -- we'll put that money right back in your pocks.

BLITZER: Tonight's contest in Wisconsin, he's getting ready to address a rally there. We're going to listen in to hear what he has to say. He's got a lot of enthusiastic supporters there. He has a big smile obviously, very, very happy that this is number nine -- nine in a row for Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton in these contests. Let's listen in to Barack Obama.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Houston, I think we've achieved liftoff here.

Let me just, first of all, say thank you to some special people who helped put this together. First of all, the pre-program entertainment Infinite Groove, thank you so much.

I want to thank the wonderful young lady who said the Pledge of Allegiance, Melissa Atkins (ph). That's not easy to do when you're 6 years old in front of 20,000 people. So thank you, Melissa.

There are many great elected officials state and local here, but I've got to give a special shout-out to three of my fellow members of Congress who are just great supporters, Congressman Al Green --


-- Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, and Congressman Chet Edwards, thank you so much.

I want to thank all the wonderful faith leaders who are here who gave me a little circle of prayer before coming out here today.

I want to thank some wonderful union supporters. SEIU in the house.

The United Food and Commercial Workers and the Transport Workers, thank you so much for your wonderful support.

Now, there's a little bit of business that we've got to do before we get into the main event. Early voting has started here in Texas.

Early voting has started here in Texas. And so everybody has received one of these cards, and everybody knows that you can start voting today. And if you didn't vote today, you can start tomorrow, or the next day, or the day after that. But we have early voting in Texas. I don't want you to wait until March 4th. I want you to go ahead and start voting tomorrow here in Texas.

You've got February 19th until 29th to vote, and you can also vote on election day, March 4th.

Now, I know this was explained to you. This is a little confusing. You're going to have to do two things for me now.

Not only do you have to vote -- and we would prefer you to vote early -- but on election day, March 4th, you're going to have to attend the caucus at 7 p.m. to get us a few more delegates.

Can everybody do that, Houston? Everybody going to do that?

Yes, we can.

And on the back -- on the back here are all the sites for all the early voting locations, so you don't have an excuse for not going. And we want you to grab your cousin, and your uncle, and your niece, and your nephew. Don't go alone. Take some friends and family to the polls.

Now, we just heard that we won tonight in Wisconsin.

And I am grateful to the people of Wisconsin for their friendship, and their support, and their extraordinary civic pride.

You know, in Wisconsin when you go to vote it's five degrees outside. But that has not deterred people from Milwaukee to Green Bay to Eau Claire, all across that state, from casting their ballot and exercising their civic duty.

We also have a caucus in Hawaii tonight. It's too early to know how that will turn out. It's too early to know, but we do know this. We do know this, Houston: The change we seek is still months and miles away, and we need the good people of Texas to help us get there.

We will need you to fight for every delegate it takes to win this nomination. And if we win the nomination, if we are blessed and honored to win the nomination, then we're going to need your help to win the election in November.

And if we win that election in November, then we are going to need your help and your time, your energy, your enthusiasm, your mobilization, your organization, and your voices to help us change America over the next four years.

Because understand this, Houston: As wonderful as this gathering is, as exciting as these enormous crowds and this enormous energy may be, what we're trying to do here is not easy, and it will not happen overnight.

It is going to take more than big rallies. It's going to require more than rousing speeches. It will also require more than policy papers and positions and Web sites. It is going to require something more, because the problem that we face in America today is not the lack of good ideas. It's that Washington has become a place where good ideas go to die --


-- because lobbyists crush them with their money and their influence, because politicians spend too much time trying to score political points and not enough time trying to bridge their differences so we can get something done.

The problem is that we haven't had leaders who can inspire the American people to rally behind a common purpose and a higher purpose. And this is what we need to change today. This is what's hard, and we know this.

We know how difficult it will be, but I also know why we're here tonight. We're here because we still believe that change is possible.

We're here because we know that we've never needed it more than we do right now.

We're here because there are workers in Youngstown, Ohio, who've watched job after job after job disappear because of bad trade deals like NAFTA, who've worked in factories -- who've worked in factories for 20 years, and then one day they come in and literally see the equipment unbolted from the floor and sent to China.

They need us to end those tax breaks that go to companies that ship jobs overseas --


-- and give them to companies that invest in jobs right here in the United States of America, that pay well, provide a pension, provide health care. That's the change they need.

We're here because of the mother in San Antonio that I met just today, just this afternoon. She's got 2-year-old twins who are legally blind. She somehow entered into a predatory loan and saw her mortgage payments double in two weeks and has paid thousands in fees to try to stave off foreclosure.

She told me she was on the verge of packing and didn't know where her family would go next. She needed us to crack down on predatory lenders and give relief to struggling homeowners who were tricked out of their dream. She needs change today.

We're here because of the mother that I met in Green Bay, Wisconsin, who gave me this bracelet that I'm wearing. Inscribed on it is the name of her son, Ryan. He was 20 when he was killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq. And next to his name, it says, "All gave some, but he gave all."

We are here because it is time to ask ourselves as a nation if we are serving Ryan and his compatriots and all our young, brave men and women as well as they are serving us. They need us to end this war, and bring them home, and give them the care and the benefits that they deserve. They need change, Houston.

A year ago, a year ago I stood on the steps of the old state capitol in Springfield, Illinois, and I announced this improbable journey to change America. And there were those who said at the time, "Why are you running so soon? Why are you running this time? You're a relatively young man; you can afford to wait."

And I had to explain to them I'm not running because of some long-held ambition. I know that some people have been looking through my kindergarten papers, but that's not why I decided to run.

I'm not running because I think it's somehow owed to me. I'm running because of what Dr. King called the fierce urgency of now, the fierce urgency of now.

Because there's such a thing, Houston, as being too late, and that hour is almost upon us. We are at a defining moment in our history. Our nation is at war. Our planet is in peril. The dream that so many generations fought for feels like it's slowly slipping away.

You see it in your own lives and in your own neighborhoods. The stories I told you are not unique. Everywhere I go, I hear the same stories. People are working harder for less; they've never paid more for college, never paid more for gas at the pump.

Our health care system leaves 47 million people without health insurance. And those who have it are seeing their co-payments and deductibles and premiums going up year after year after year after year.

Despite the slogans, our children, millions of them, are being left behind, unable to compete in an international economy. In such circumstances, Houston, we cannot afford to wait. We cannot wait to fix our schools. We cannot wait to fix our health care system. We cannot wait to put an end to global warming. We cannot wait to bring good jobs with good benefits back to the United States. We cannot wait to end this war in Iraq. We cannot wait.

We cannot wait. And one year ago, one year ago when I made the decision to run, it was based on the belief that the size of our challenges had outstripped the capacity of a broken and divided politics to solve.

And I was certain that the American people were hungry for something new, that they were tired of a politics that tears each other down. They wanted a politics that would lift the country up, that they had grown weary of a politics that was based on spin and P.R. They wanted a politics that was based on honesty and truthfulness and straight talk to the American people.

I was convinced, most of all, that change in America does not happen from the top down. It happens from the bottom up. Some of you know I used to work as a community organizer with churches on the south side of Chicago after the steel plants had laid thousands of people off. And we brought together black and white and Hispanic to try to create job training programs for the unemployed and bring economic development to neighborhoods that had fallen on hard times.

And it was the best education I ever had, because it taught me that ordinary people can do extraordinary things when they're given an opportunity.

It reminded me that Americans are decent and generous, willing to work hard and sacrifice on behalf of future generations.

And if we could just get beyond the divisions that have become so commonplace in our politics, if we could bridge the divides so that black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, young, old, rich and poor, Republican, Democrat, if we could join together to challenge the special interests in Washington, but also to challenge ourselves, also to challenge ourselves to be better, to be better neighbors, to be better citizens, to be better parents, then I believe there was no challenge we could not solve, no destiny we could not fulfill.

That was the bet that I made one year ago. And I'm here to report, Houston, that after a year of traveling all across the country, after countless miles and thousands of speeches, and talks, and shaking hands, and chicken dinners --


-- I am here to report that my bet has paid off and my faith in the American people has been vindicated, because all across the country, people are standing up and saying, "It is time to turn the page. It is time to write a new chapter in American history. We want to move forward into a better tomorrow."

The American people --


Yes, we can.

The American people have spoken out, and they are saying we need to move in a new direction. And I would not be running, as aware as I am of my imperfections, as clear as I am that I am not a perfect vessel, I would not be running if I did not believe that I could lead this country in that new direction, that we have a unique moment that we have to seize.

But I have to tell you, Houston, I can't do it by myself. No president can. Remember: Change doesn't happen from the top. It happens because of you. And so the question I have for you tonight, Houston, is, are you really ready for change?

Are you really ready for change? Because if you are ready for change, then we can go ahead and tell the lobbyists that their days of setting the agenda are over.

They have not funded my campaign. They will not run my White House. And they will not drown out the voices of the American people when I'm president of the United States of America.

If you are ready for change, Houston, then we can stop talking about the outrage of 47 million people without health insurance and start doing something about it. I put forward a plan that says everybody will be able to get health insurance that is at least as good as the plan I've got as a member of Congress.

And if you already have health insurance, we will lower your premiums by $2,500 per family, per year. And if you can't afford it, we will subsidize your care, and we will emphasize prevention so we have a health care system instead of a disease-care system.

And we won't do this 20 years from now or 10 years from now. We will do it by the end of my first term as president of the United States of America.

If you are ready for change, if you're really ready, then we can start restoring some balance to our economy. I believe in the free market. I know Texans believe in entrepreneurship. We are an independent and a self-reliant people. We don't believe in government doing what we can do for ourselves.

But when we've got CEOs making more in 10 minutes than ordinary workers are making in a year --


-- and it's the CEOs who are getting a tax break and workers are left with nothing, then something is wrong, and something has to change.


So, I want to -- I want to take away those tax breaks to companies that are shipping jobs overseas. We're going to give them to companies that invest right here in America.


And we're going to rollback those Bush tax cuts that went to all the wealthy people.


And we're going to give tax cuts to ordinary families, people who are making less than $75,000. We will offset your payroll tax. Senior citizens who make less than $50,000, we want to say to them: You don't have to pay an income tax. You're already having a hard time making ends meet.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) We want to promote trade, and we embrace globalization, but we also want our trade deals to have labor standards and environmental standards and safety standards, so our workers aren't undermined and our children aren't playing with toys based in lead paint. That's the change we want.


And I will raise the minimum wage not every 10 years, but to keep pace with inflation, because, if you work in America, you should not be poor. And that's a goal that we should set for ourselves when I am president of the United States of America.


If you are ready for change, we can assure that every child in America has the best education this country has to offer...


... from the day that child is born to the day that child graduates from college. The problem is not the lack of plans, the lack of good ideas. The problem is a lack of political will, a lack of urgency.

We think that those children in inner-city Houston, those are those children. Those are somebody else's problem. We think that the young child in south Texas, that's somebody else's problem. That's not our problem. That's not our child. We think that that child in rural east Texas, where there's a low property tax base and they can't afford to buy new textbooks or put into computers, that's somebody else's problem.

Houston, I am here to tell you that every child is our problem. Every child is our responsibility.


Every child needs to be nurtured and embraced. And so we are going to invest in early childhood education to close the achievement gap.

And I won't just talk about how great teachers are. I will reward them for their greatness...


... by giving them higher salaries and giving them more support.

And I want -- I want the highest standards in our schools. We have to have high standards, standards of excellence in order to compete in this global economy. But I don't want our standards measured just by a single high-stakes standardized test, because I don't want our teachers teaching to the tests.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) I want our students learning art, and music, and science, and literature, and social studies.


And I don't know about you, but I think it's about time we made college affordable for every young person in America.


So, we're going to provide a $4,000 tuition credit, every student, every year.

But, students, you're going to have to give back something in return. You're going to have to participate in community service. You're going to have to work in a homeless shelter, or a veterans home, or an under-served school, or join the Peace Corps.

We will invest in you. You invest in America. Together, we will march this country forward.


If -- if you are ready for change, we can start having an energy policy that makes sense. We send -- we send a billion dollars to foreign nations every single day, and we're melting the polar icecaps in the bargain. That has to change.

And, so, we're going to cap the emission of greenhouse gases. We are going to generate billions of dollars from polluters to invest in solar, in wind, and biodiesel.


We are going to raise fuel efficiency standards on cars, because that is the only way that we can actually bring down gas prices over the long term. And I know you need that.

And, by the way, when I talked about increasing fuel efficiency standards, I didn't do it in front of some environmental group. I did it in Detroit in front of the automakers. And I told them they had to change their ways.

And, when I said that, I have got to admit that the room was really quiet.


Nobody clapped. But that's OK, because part of what you need from the next president is somebody who will not just tell you what they think you want to hear, but will tell you what you need to hear, will tell you the truth.

If you're ready for change, we can stop using immigration as a political football...


... and actually start solving the problem. We are a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants, and those two things, we can join together. We can get serious about our borders and crack down on employers who are taking advantage of undocumented workers and undermining U.S. labor.


But we can also provide a pathway for those who are living here. They can pay a fine and learn English and go to the back of the line, but we have got to give them an opportunity, too. We're a nation of immigrants.


If you are ready for change, we can start reinvesting in America, in the cities. We are spending $9 billion a month in Iraq, $9 billion.


We can invest that money in rebuilding roads and bridges and hospitals right here in Houston, building schools, laying broadband lines, putting people back to work, employing young men and young women in our inner cities, in our rural communities. That is possible, if you're ready for change.

We can create the kind of foreign policy that will make us safe and will lead to renewed respect of America around the world.


You know, as your commander in chief, my job will be to keep you safe.


My job will be to keep you safe. And I will not hesitate to strike against any who would do us harm.


I will do whatever is required. But part of keeping you safe is maintaining the finest military in the world. And that means providing our troops with the proper equipment and the proper training and the proper rotations. And it means caring for our troops when they come home, not forgetting about our troops.

No more homeless veterans. No more begging for disability payments. No more waiting in line for the V.A. We have a solemn obligation to honor those who have served on our behalf. But part of keeping you safe is also deploying our military wisely. And the war in Iraq was unwise.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) It distracted us from the fight that needed to be fought in Afghanistan against al Qaeda. They're the ones who killed 3,000 Americans. It fanned the flames of anti-American sentiment. It has cost us dearly in blood and in treasure.

I opposed this war in 2002. I will bring this war to an end in 2009. It is time to bring our troops home.


But I don't want to just end the war. I want to end the mind-set that got us into war.


I want to end a politics based on fear that uses 9/11 as a way to scare up votes, instead of a way to bring the country together against a common enemy.


I want to rediscover the power of our diplomacy. I said early in this campaign I would meet not just with our friends, but also with our enemies. And there were those in Washington who said, "You can't do that."

And I said, "Yes, I can."


Because -- because I remember what John F. Kennedy said. He said, we should never negotiate out of fear, but we should never fear to negotiate.


Strong countries and strong presidents talk to their adversaries, and tell them where America stands, and try to resolve differences without resort to war.

And, when -- when we do that, I believe the world is waiting. I want to go before the world community and say, America's back, and we are ready to lead.


But we will lead not just militarily. Yes, we will hunt down terrorists. Yes, we will lock down loose nuclear weapons that could do us harm. But we are also going to lead on climate change. We're also going to lead on helping poor countries deal with the devastation of HIV-AIDS. We're also going to lead in bringing an end to the genocide in Darfur.


We are going to lead by example, by maintaining the highest standards of civil liberties and human rights, which is why I will close Guantanamo and restore habeas corpus and say no to torture.


Because, if you are ready for change, then you can elect a president who has taught the Constitution, and believes in the Constitution, and will obey the Constitution of the United States of America.


All these things are possible, if you are ready for change.

But I have to say that there are a lot of people these days who are telling you not to believe. They're trying to persuade you that, well, Obama may have good ideas, but he hasn't been in Washington long enough.


We need to season and stew him a little bit more and boil all the hope out of him.


But I think you understand and the American people understand that the last thing we need is to have the same old folks doing the same old things, making the same mistakes over and over and over again.


We need something different. And we need new leadership to move into a new century.


There are those -- there are those who would say that you have to be wary about inspiration because you might be disappointed, who say that Obama may make a good speech, but what is really going to make a difference is how you work our government.

But I have to say that it is my central premise that the only way we will bring about real change in America is if we can bring new people into the process, if we can attract young people, if we can attract independents, if we can stop fighting with Republicans and try to bring some over to our side.


I want to form a working majority for change. That's how we win elections. That's how we will govern. I want to reach out to everybody.

I know that there are some who say, well, what about John McCain?

And I revere and honor -- I revere and honor John McCain's service to this country.


He is a genuine American hero.

But, when he embraces George Bush's failed economic policies, when he says that he is willing to send our troops into another 100 years of war in Iraq...


... then he represents the policies of yesterday. And we want to be the party of tomorrow. And I'm looking forward to having that debate with John McCain.


But, you know, there's something -- there's something deeper in this argument we have been hearing about inspiration. It really has to do with the meaning of hope.

You know, some of you know I talk about hope a lot. And it's not surprising, because, if you think about it, the odds of me standing here are very slim.


You know, I -- I was born to a teenage mother. My father left when I was 2. So, I was raised by a single mom and my grandparents. And they didn't have money, and they didn't have fame. What they could give me was love. They gave me an education, and they gave me hope.


And, so, I talk about hope. I put "hope" on my signs. I gave a speech in Boston at the convention about hope. I wrote a book called "The Audacity of Hope."


But now some are suggesting that I must be naive, that, if you talk about hope, it means that you're fuzzy-headed, you're not realistic, you're peddling in false hopes, you need a reality check. The implication is, is that if you talk about hope, that you must be passive and you're just waiting for good things to happen, and you don't realize how mean and tough the world can be.

But understand, that's not what hope is. Hope is not blind optimism. Hope is not ignoring or being ignorant of the challenges that stand between you and your dreams.


I know how difficult it will be to provide health insurance to every American. If it was easy, it would have already been done. I know how hard it will be to change our energy policy, because the status quo serves many powerful people.

I know how hard it will be to alleviate poverty that has built up over centuries, how hard it will be to fix schools, because changing our schools will require not just money, but a change in attitudes. We're going to have to parent better, and turn off the television set, and put the video games away, and instill a sense of excellence in our children. And that's going to take some time.


I know how -- how easy it is for politicians to turn us on each other, to use immigrants or gay people or folks who aren't like us as scapegoats for what they do.

But I also know this. I know this because I have fought on the streets as an organizer. I have fought in the courts as a civil rights attorney. I have fought in the legislature. And I have won some battles, but I have also lost some, because good intentions aren't always enough. They have to be fortified by political will and political power.

But I also know this, Houston, that nothing worthwhile in this country has ever happened except somebody somewhere was willing to hope.


That is how -- that is how this country was founded, a group of patriots declaring independence against the mighty British empire. Nobody gave them a chance, but they had hope. That's how slaves and abolitionists resisted an evil system and how a new president chartered a course to ensure that we would not remain half-slave and half-free.

That is how the greatest generation, my grandfather fighting in Patton's army, my grandmother staying at home, with a baby, working on a bomber assembly line, how that greatest generation defeated Hitler and fascism and lifted itself up out of a Great Depression.

That's how pioneers settled the West. That's how immigrants traveled at great risk from distant shores. That is how women won the right to vote. That's how workers won the right to organize.


That's how young people in the '60s traveled south, and some marched, and some sat-in, and some were beaten, and some went to jail, and some died for freedom's cause. That's what hope is.


That's what hope is. That's what hope is, imagining -- imagining, and then fighting for, and then working for, struggling for what did not seem possible before.

You know, there is a moment in the life of every generation when that spirit has to come through, if we are to make our mark on history, when we decide to cast aside the fear and the doubt, when we're not willing to settle for what the cynics tell us we have to accept, but, instead, we are willing to reach for what we know in our gut is possible, when we decide that the next generation deserves the same chances somebody gave us, when we determine that we're going to keep the dream alive for those who still hunger for opportunity and still thirst for justice.

It will not be easy. But, at some point in our lives, we all have to decide, as hard as it's going to be, we are going to join together, lock arms, and go about the difficult, but noble task of remaking this nation, block by block, county by county, state by state.


Houston, this is our moment. This is our time.


And, if you are willing to vote for me, if you are willing to stand with me, if you're willing to caucus for me, then I truly believe that we will not just win Texas. We will win this nomination. We will win the general election.


And you and I together will change this country and change the world.

Thank you, Houston. I love you.