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Election Center; Courting the Latino Vote; Campaign Ad Wars

Aired February 29, 2008 - 20:00   ET


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks to all of you for joining us.
The race for president just three days away from an absolutely crucial round of primaries, the big prizes, Texas and Ohio. This incredible election year continues to be full of suspense and full of surprises, too.

Now, for the Democrats, the latest polls point to a tossup or possibly a split. Anything could happen. Right now, as each minute passes, each speech, each commercial, each attack and counterattack could actually tip the balance.

At this hour, all four major presidential candidates, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, John McCain, Mike Huckabee, are in Texas. Now, Bill Clinton is in Ohio. The best political team on TV is all over that map following the candidates. Our expert analysts are joining us tonight in the ELECTION CENTER tonight as well.

Front and center tonight, his and her attack ads. They look alike, they sound alike, and they kind of play to every parents' worst fear. But will they scare up votes?

Also tonight, who's got the edge when it comes to Latino voters? They are one of the most important, perhaps they are the most important group of Texas Democrats.

Plus, can straight talking John McCain win votes in Ohio by saying nice things about free trade and NAFTA? Lots to talk about, lots to watch tonight, starting with those unprecedented attacks and counterattacks in the ad wars.

You have got to see this. We are going to play them back to back. We will start with hers first, Hillary Clinton's, and then we will get to Barack Obama's mirror image response.

Take a look.


NARRATOR: It's 3:00 a.m. and your children are safe and asleep. But there's a phone in the White House and it's ringing. Something's happening in the world. Your vote will decide who answers that call, whether it's someone who already knows the world's leaders, knows the military, someone tested and ready to lead in a dangerous world. It's 3:00 a.m., and your children are safe and asleep. Who do you want answering the phone? SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm Hillary Clinton. And I approve this message.



NARRATOR: It's 3:00 a.m., and your children are safe and asleep. But there's a phone ringing in the White House. Something is happening in the world. When that call gets answered, shouldn't the president be the one, the only one, who had judgment and courage to oppose the Iraq war from the start, who understood the real threat to America was al Qaeda in Afghanistan, not Iraq, who led the effort to secure loose nuclear weapons around the globe?

In a dangerous world, it's judgment that matters.

OBAMA: I'm Barack Obama, and I approve this message.


O'BRIEN: I guess the big question is which one did you like better?

Jessica Yellin is covering Obama's campaign today. She joins us from Houston. Suzanne Malveaux is in Waco, Texas, where Senator Clinton spoke just a few hours ago.

Ladies, thanks for talking with us.

Suzanne, let's begin with you.

What's her campaign, Hillary Clinton's campaign, saying about that particular ad? It's all everybody's talking about today.


They think they have a winner here and that is essentially to go up against Senator Barack Obama's credentials when it comes to national security. They think that if you put hers up against his, that voters will look at hers and say, she has a much meatier resume.

There's another reason they're doing this as well. And that is because senior aides believe that they're trying to take some of the wind out of the sail of Senator John McCain, that he plays the national security card. It is a very strong hand. He has a lot of experience.

And so they're really trying to build up her resume at this time. So, that's why we saw her today in Waco, Texas, the backdrop with the generals who are endorsing her, who are supporting her, and also, Soledad, kind of a new line here, kind of a reincarnation of the action vs. words dialogue.

She went after him, new attack line essentially talking about being missing in action. Take a listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

H. CLINTON: He was missing in action when he failed to show up for a vote dealing with Iran. He was missing in action when he failed to hold a single substantive hearing on a committee that he chaired that had responsibility for Europe and NATO and NATO's policy in Afghanistan. Protecting and defending this country is the most solemn duty of our president.


MALVEAUX: And, Soledad, that language, as you know, very familiar when it comes to military parlance, missing in action.

So, it will be very interesting to see whether or not that actually sticks, whether voters see that and it resonates with them. And there's another thing that they're focusing on as well. It's a very simple storyline. She says, I am applying for the job of commander in chief, of president. My resume, look at mine. Compare it to Barack Obama. It's meatier. It's beefier. Therefore, I should be the one to get the job.

So, it's a very clear-cut argument she's making. We will see if the voters are actually going to deliver.

O'BRIEN: Let's turn to Jessica Yellin now to talk a little bit about what the Obama campaign is saying about this ad, Jessica, they have created. It hasn't aired yet, is that correct?

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. It doesn't air until tomorrow.

But I will tell you something, Soledad. Listening to Suzanne, it's funny, because the Obama people say the exact same thing. They say they think this issue is a winner for them. And here's why. Because Barack Obama turns the issue around on Senator Clinton and rather than making it about he says this old style of politics where you're trying to scare voters -- that's his frame for it -- he makes it a question of judgment. Who is going to make the right choice when that call comes in, in the middle of the night?

And then he steps back further and tries to frame this as playing the fear card, the old politics of fear. So, on two different fronts, he's sort of trying to rise above the fray, not engage directly with Senator Clinton, but make the argument that he is in this instance on national security, as on all other topics, trying to take a new approach to Washington, D.C., which is not playing these same old games.

And I will tell you on this line that Senator Clinton has been using today that Suzanne played for us, this is something else that works to his argument that this is just silly politics. Whether he was here for a committee hearing or if he missed a Senate meeting, does America really care about that or do they care about a commander in chief who has good judgment?

This is the argument we hear from Obama. And so far, it's worked.

O'BRIEN: Does America really care about endorsements, because Obama got another one from Senator Jay Rockefeller? Why don't you tell us a little bit about that?

YELLIN: That's right -- real national security credentials himself.

So, to the extent that Senator Clinton's attack on Obama's lack of experience penetrates at all, surrounding himself with these other folks who have real national security resumes will help Obama buffer himself from those attacks. So, Rockefeller said -- when he endorsed Obama, he said that this is the candidate who has the best qualifications to protect America from terrorism.

Obama can always whip that out whenever he's attacked by Clinton on this topic. It's not expected to drive votes his way, though, but it does give him a little defense from those attacks coming his way from Clinton and no doubt from McCain too.

O'BRIEN: He said he's the most qualified, the very real threat of terrorism, economic uncertainty, instability at home and abroad.

For both of you -- and let's get back to Suzanne for this -- a huge day obviously coming up on Tuesday. What's the plan now? I mean, there's so much at stake. What do they do now between now and Tuesday, Suzanne?

MALVEAUX: Well, the plan is simply to try to stay on message here and to find a message that is really going to resonate with voters. We have seen kind of a back and forth and we have seen different kind of reincarnations of the same thing.

But essentially what they need to do is they need to be consistent here and that is what they're going to try to do. They're going to talk about the issue of national security, why it is that she believes she is stronger than Senator John McCain, to almost like set aside Senator Obama and ignore him.

There's other lines, of course. People believe that if they keep on the attack here and talk about his resume, argue that they believe it's thin compared to hers, that ultimately voters are going to see this as a job competition and that she is more qualified for this job, a very simple argument.

O'BRIEN: And, Jessica, we will give you the final word tonight. And the Obama campaign when they say it's a job competition as Suzanne just set up, what's their response going to be?

YELLIN: Well, their response right now is that what we have to look at on Tuesday night is who wins by what margin.

They are playing this very, very carefully and saying we have to reframe our expectations. They say, even if Senator Clinton wins both Ohio and Texas, we have to consider that the fact that she is not going to be ahead in delegates even by her own measure, that would be a failure. And they really want us to look at this as a contest that has to be on won on the delegates, not the popular vote.

O'BRIEN: Jessica Yellin, Suzanne Malveaux, for us tonight, ladies, thank you very much.

The guy running the hardest today really isn't on any ballots on Tuesday. Bill Clinton doing five straight rallies in Ohio. He's hitting rural working-class towns, singing his wife's praises, while he gets in a few digs at Barack Obama, like this one. Take a listen.


BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There's been an attempt by her opponent to set this race up as a choice between experience and change. If that's the choice, we lose. Hillary loses that way, because we need change bad. And, frankly, Vice President Cheney and some of the others have given experience a bad name.


O'BRIEN: Senior political correspondent Candy Crowley is in Mansfield tonight.

That was Clinton's third stop of the day. He's now to stop number five. He's certainly getting around today.

Listen, I thought that was so interesting, Candy, that quote there, because he talked about the experience and change debate right there, but took a really different turn than we have heard before.


And what's interesting is, this is a different Bill Clinton from the one we saw in South Carolina. That Bill Clinton was defending his wife. This Bill Clinton is promoting his wife. It's a much softer tone. I have to tell you, he is back in really good form. He gave a great speech here in Mansfield.

He believes that this is sort of the best use of him, as does the campaign. As you know, there was some talk after South Carolina that the rather tense conversations that he got into with reporters, that some of the things he said were really hurting her campaign.

Now, you know, I talked to somebody in the campaign and they said we want him to talk to as many Democratic voters as we can get him to. And that's certainly what he's trying here, taking him through rural areas, working-class areas where he was so popular and remains so popular.

And the other thing I will tell you is when you listen to him, every subject and every sentence is either she, her, or Hillary. This is a man that has dropped "I" from his vocabulary.


CROWLEY: Yes, absolutely. O'BRIEN: Remember that -- I think it was right before South Carolina, he talked a lot about himself. In fact, I think you and I talked about this, how much he was sort of promoting her by promoting himself. So, that's a big change.


O'BRIEN: But do you think it's a mistake for a candidate who consistently talks about, I'm the one who is experienced -- you saw that ad -- that ad talks about I have got experience on this front is the message there -- to sort of have her husband saying that's a false comparison, experience vs. change?

CROWLEY: Well, yes.

And what he's saying here in his expanded remarks is, listen, she's all about change, OK, but she's got the experience to bring it to you. And that's been her argument all along. When they saw last summer that Barack Obama was beginning to get real traction, her theme line of experience got changed to change and experience.

So, what he's saying is, this is a false choice. You don't have to pick change and you don't have to pick experience only. You can have the two together and that's Hillary Clinton.

O'BRIEN: I wonder if that's going to be a tough sell as we get close to Tuesday since we have really been hearing experience, experience, experience. Candy Crowley for us this evening in very windy Mansfield, thank you, Candy.


O'BRIEN: Looks a little a windstorm blowing through for her. We're going to come back to Candy in just a couple of minutes.

Now, Bill Clinton has said, as you might remember, that his wife has to win on Tuesday in Ohio and in Texas. The latest polls indicate that in fact it is possible, but it could be tough.

Our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider, poring over the numbers.

Let's get right to it. What do you think is at stake right now when we look at Texas and Ohio?


Ohio has 141 pledged delegates. That's a lot of delegates. And they're hotly contested in Ohio, 162 delegates total, including the superdelegates. And in our poll of polls, the latest polls in Ohio show Clinton ahead by seven points, 47 to 40. Obama has shown momentum. He's been moving up in Ohio, but he hasn't caught up with her. Clinton has a strong base of partisan Democrats in Ohio. And they're standing fast for their candidate.

O'BRIEN: And they're sure is a high unsure number that could change that number.


O'BRIEN: Let's take a look at Texas now. Delegates, what's at stake?

SCHNEIDER: One hundred and ninety-three pledged delegates, 228 total. It's the largest state that has not voted yet, biggest pot of delegates. They have a two-tier system, two-thirds of the delegates assigned in the primary, one-third in caucuses the same evening.

In Texas, what's happening is very interesting. Obama's got the big mo'. He's been moving up. He's now moved ahead of Hillary Clinton, who did have a big lead in Texas, but now Obama is four points ahead. The trend lines are absolutely fascinating.

Over the last month, Obama's support has been climbing and climbing. He's just reached par with Clinton, and now he's moved slightly ahead of her. The difference between those two lines is very small. So, it's really too close to call right now in Texas.

O'BRIEN: What exactly is accounting for those differences between the results in Texas and Ohio?

SCHNEIDER: We looked at the Democrats who voted there in 2004 in the presidential primaries in those two states. Ohio had twice as many union voters as Texas, had a lot more Catholics, who tend to vote strongly for Hillary Clinton. It's a much whiter state, about 80 percent white, Texas only about 52 among at least the Democratic voters. And that's all good for Hillary Clinton.

Texas has more African-Americans. They're clearly Barack Obama's base. It also has a lot more Latino voters, who deliver for Hillary Clinton.

But here's what's interesting. Hillary Clinton doesn't do very well with African-Americans. She's only getting about 12 percent of their votes in Texas, whereas Obama does much better, 32 percent of the vote among Latino voters. So, it's not quite equally matched.

O'BRIEN: What are they focusing on in the last few days?

SCHNEIDER: Hillary Clinton's husband has said she has to win Ohio and Texas to go on. So, her campaign is saying, given all the money he's spending, Barack Obama has to win everything, all four states, including Vermont and Rhode Island, and he has to win them big.

Each side is driving up expectations. The basic fact of this campaign is very simple. Clinton delivers. Obama inspires. That's the race. It would be nice to have a candidate who does both, but at the moment, that's the difficult choice for Democrats.

O'BRIEN: And we will see what the voters pick between those two choices. All right, Bill Schneider, thanks, as always.

SCHNEIDER: All right.

O'BRIEN: The clocks are ticking down, only three days left for the Democrats to shake as many hands, make as many speeches and change as many minds as possible. We're about to talk endgame strategy with some of the best political minds around.

John McCain has his own endgame to worry about. What if he can't put Mike Huckabee away next week?



O'BRIEN: Is politics starting to feel like "Annie Get Your Gun"? because that's how it's feeling to me.

Just a few hours ago, a barrage of new political TV ads hit the airwaves in the run-up to a little mini-Super Tuesday. These new ads are financed by an avalanche of campaign contributions.

Now, the Clinton campaign says it has raised $35 million in the month of February. The Obama campaign hasn't exactly released a number yet, but his campaign manager says they brought in considerably more than that, but they haven't given the exact number.

So, joining us to dissect this latest turn in the battle for the Democratic nomination, part of the best political team on TV. CNN contributor Roland Martin is joining us from Texas.

You're in Texas today, right?

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: That's right, Houston, my hometown.


O'BRIEN: Oh, yes, yes, yes.

All right, senior legal analyst Jeff Toobin is with me in the studio and also the U.S. managing editor of "The Financial Times," Chrystia Freeland.

Nice to work with all of you. Let's get right to it.

I want to talk about the ads, which means I have got to show them again. Oh, I should mention nobody here has endorsed any political candidate. That's an important disclaimer.

So, let's start with Hillary Clinton's ad. And I'm going to say, listen to the phone ringing and listen to the voice. That's my only clue.


NARRATOR: It's 3:00 a.m. and your children are safe and asleep. But there's a phone in the White House and it's ringing. Something's happening in the world. Your vote will decide who answers that call, whether it's someone who already knows the world's leaders, knows the military, someone tested and ready to lead in a dangerous world. It's 3:00 a.m., and your children are safe and asleep. Who do you want answering the phone?

CLINTON: I'm Hillary Clinton. And I approve this message.


O'BRIEN: Barack Obama's ad, which is going to be released tomorrow, take a listen.


NARRATOR: It's 3:00 a.m., and your children are safe and asleep. But there's a phone ringing in the White House. Something is happening in the world. When that call gets answered, shouldn't the president be the one, the only one, who had judgment and courage to oppose the Iraq war from the start, who understood the real threat to America was al Qaeda in Afghanistan, not Iraq, who led the effort to secure loose nuclear weapons around the globe?

In a dangerous world, it's judgment that matters.

OBAMA: I'm Barack Obama, and I approve this message.


O'BRIEN: All right. So, there are the ads, very similar, but very different.

Let's start with you, Jeff. Effective?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR ANALYST: I thought the Obama ad was a summation of why his campaign has done well over the last 11 races, is because, every time Hillary Clinton says, I'm the experienced one, I'm the one who is ready on day one, he says, well, if you are ready and if you are so experienced, how come you voted to support the Iraq war, which is a completely successful argument in a Democratic primary.

O'BRIEN: There are many people -- several times, I have read this ad is offensive to women. And for Hillary Clinton, her supporters often will say that people attack her gender or it's sort of an unfair playing field because of her gender. And I usually don't agree with that.

But, in this particular case, whenever people would say it's unfair to women, I disagreed with that. Do you think that's true? Do you think it's an ad that is offensive to women?

CHRYSTIA FREELAND, "THE FINANCIAL TIMES": I don't think this particular ad is offensive to women.

And what I think is really interesting about seeing those two ads side by side is, it also shows just the pure proficiency of the Obama campaign machine. It's really interesting to me that they... O'BRIEN: Because it's so fast.

FREELAND: ... responded so quickly, and their ad actually, just purely on the technicalities, to me, is better.

O'BRIEN: I thought it was interesting, Roland. I don't know if you would listen to the phone ringing throughout it. In her add, the phone rings through the whole thing.

MARTIN: Right.

O'BRIEN: His add, rings three times and stops.

MARTIN: Well, you know what? I think you made an excellent point earlier, Soledad, when you talked about the tone of the two ads.

I said last week that, look, Clinton is trying to push this whole notion of experience. But let's just be real.

She's been in the United States Senate seven years. It's not like she's been there a long time. I really think, at this the late stage in the game, she's making a mistake pushing this ad. I really believe that the issue of the economy is far more important than the whole notion of what's going to happen in the world.

And so to spend your money on this, I think it's not solid. The economy is going to drive the issue in Ohio. It's going to drive the issue in Texas. That should be her thrust, as opposed to this whole back and forth, because, as Jeffrey said, he hits her very well by saying, wait a minute, you voted against (sic) the war.

O'BRIEN: Hmm, $35 million, what she has raised in February. He says -- people are guessing around $50 million, but considerably more, whatever the number is, considerably more.

Any normal year, that would be a lot of dough.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR ANALYST: Well, and the biggest news of the day, perhaps, is that John McCain, in this month that he clinched the nomination, only raised $12 million.


FREELAND: And that is a problem for the Republicans.

TOOBIN: That is a huge issue.


O'BRIEN: It's not because in some minds the race really hasn't started; let's see who your opponent is going to be?

FREELAND: Well, we can see that.

(CROSSTALK) FREELAND: But we have seen, as Jeff suggests, a lot more excitement, a lot more enthusiasm, much higher voter turnout on the Democratic side. And the money is one side of that. I think that that's a really important indication going into the general election.

MARTIN: Soledad, this is a broader issue for the Republicans.

Earlier this week, you had the minority leader in the House who had to chastise Republicans for giving money to the National Republican Congressional Committee. The problem they have is, it is not enthusiastic Republicans. They are normally the ones who beat the Democrats when it comes to fund-raising.

The Democrats in the last two cycles have done very well. And what we're seeing now for the first time is an energized base where they're throwing tons of money. And so the Democrats are dominating the Republicans on the money side. And that's what is amazing. So, John McCain is hoping and praying Obama sticks to this publicly financing deal, because that's the only way they are going to be able to compete come November.


TOOBIN: And that is not going to happen.

MARTIN: Yes. It is not going to happen.

TOOBIN: The Democratic base will rise up in outrage if Barack Obama gives up this tens of millions of dollars advantage that he is going to have over John McCain.

O'BRIEN: And do you think people will forgive him for changing his course on that?

TOOBIN: I don't think they care one bit about campaign finance technicalities.


TOOBIN: Yes, McCain will be able to hit him for flip-flopping on it. But it is a fairly esoteric issue about opting in or opting out of the federal financing. Democrats want to win.

O'BRIEN: And he's going to be able to talk about the will of the people?


TOOBIN: Sorry. Go ahead, Roland.


O'BRIEN: Roland can stop a conversation.

Yes, Roland, go ahead. Jump in.


MARTIN: The only point I want to make about the money, reason why the money is so important, because I think you're seeing it here in Texas. The Clinton campaign released a memo today saying that Obama, he should win all these states because he is outspending them.

The reason he has been able to track so well, because he is inundating urban radio, and Spanish radio. And so although she had sort of this infrastructure well known in the marketplace, he's able to come in, in San Antonio, Houston and Dallas and drop millions of dollars. And that's how all of a sudden this race has tightened. That's why money matters.


O'BRIEN: This is where the money...


MARTIN: Precisely.

O'BRIEN: Yes, but she's got $35 million. That's nothing to sniff at.

TOOBIN: Yes, but it's hard for Hillary Clinton, the most famous woman in America, to claim that she's the underdog, that she is not as well known or she doesn't have the advantages against Barack Obama, who was a completely obscure person six months ago.

FREELAND: And there are questions about who has run the most efficient campaign and who has spent the money they have better.

O'BRIEN: And those questions will all be answered on Tuesday, won't they?

TOOBIN: And the whole thing may be over on Tuesday, yes, indeed.

O'BRIEN: It may be, or maybe not, because we have said that a few times before.


TOOBIN: That's certainly true.


O'BRIEN: Roland Martin joining us from Texas.

Thanks, guys. I appreciate it.

MARTIN: Thank you.

O'BRIEN: John McCain prides himself, as we know, on straight talk, but is singing the praises of NAFTA, of Canada, and free trade really a vote-getter in the state of Texas? Stick around and hear what he's saying. We're also taking the pulse of a Texas voting bloc that Hillary Clinton absolutely, positively has to win big if she's going to have any hope of winning Texas.

That's ahead.



ALEXANDER MARQUARDT, CNN PRODUCER: I'm Alex Marquardt with the Huckabee campaign. We crisscrossed Texas today going from Lowake to College Station to Fort Worth and ending up in Houston. In College Station, Huckabee drew a huge crowd packing an auditorium with 850 Texas A&M students; 1,500 more couldn't get in and watched on the screen outside. Huckabee's next few days in Texas are jampacked as he tries to visit as many places as possible before next Tuesday's primary. He was asked by reporters this morning what he plans to do if McCain doesn't earn enough delegates needed to clinch the nomination after the March 4th primary.

MIKE HUCKABEE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I guess we -- you know, we keep plugging away. Our attitude has always been that, you know, the campaign as long as people are contributing and giving us the capacity to keep going and we, you know, haven't been defeated by the number of delegates that are required to beat us, then we're still in it. And so, that would still be our thought waking up Wednesday morning.


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Tuesday's primaries could be the final boost for Senator John McCain, but the Republican presidential candidate is already taking on his potential Democratic opponents today, attacking Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton for promising to renegotiate NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement. Take a listen.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I believe that those agreements should be kept, and I believe that when someone as Senator Obama and Senator Clinton have said would renegotiate, "renegotiate" a treaty which went through years of negotiations, by the way, with our leading trading partner, Canada, without consulting or without the agreement of our Canadian partners, I think it sends the wrong message to the world. (END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Senior political correspondent Candy Crowley closely following this latest spat between McCain and the Democrats. Candy, first of all, what's the point he's trying to make here?

CANDY CROWLEY, SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I think the point he's trying to make is that he's the one that is about national security. He sort of turned this whole NAFTA thing around. The Democrats have been out there. Both Obama and Clinton talking about jobs and anti-NAFTA and how much NAFTA has cost all these jobs. John McCain goes out and says, you know, you can't do this to an ally that's been with us in the war on terror. So he wants to play on his playing field. And that's what this is about.

The other thing it's about is as he's waiting out Huckabee, there's not a lot of news going on there on the Republican side. And so, you hop into the Democratic story, and you kind of begin to sort of brush back your opponent, sort of show them a little bit of what's going to come in the fall. So I think there's some of a lot of things going on there.

O'BRIEN: What is going on with Huckabee right now? As you say, you know, there's not a lot happening. What is happening?

CROWLEY: Well, if it -- I was just listening to that clip from him, and it struck me that Huckabee now doesn't have voters. He has followers. I mean, these are people who are really behind him. They must all know that at this point, the odds are just astronomical, and he's not going to get it. He seems to be having a lot of fun, and he clearly is out there to have that. Take a listen to this.


MIKE HUCKABEE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Do it like we do in Arkansas, vote early and vote often. That's what we need you to do. You think I'm kidding. Folks, where I grew up, they used to take the names off the cemetery tombstones and then they'd go down to the courthouse and vote on absentee. People ask me why I'm a person of faith and why I believe in the resurrection. Because brother, I saw it happen every Election Day. These dead people going to vote.


O'BRIEN: That was like standup.

CROWLEY: So as to say something. That's right. He seems to be having a lot of fun. Sort of reminds me that the other day he said, listen, I don't have a day job. So, you know, he's having fun. He's out there.

He's -- look, he's also making a point. I mean, he speaks for a wing of the Republican Party that is concerned about John McCain. So as he drives that point home, it absolutely has to have some effect on John McCain as he moves forward to the long-term.

O'BRIEN: All right. Candy Crowley for us this evening. Thank you very much, Candy. Appreciate it.

Now to win Texas, Hillary Clinton is going to have to do well with Latino voters. They're obviously not a single monolithic bloc. Stay with us and see who's staying with her. Who's heading for Barack Obama? And what it could all mean come Tuesday.

Right now, though, take a look where the candidates stand on the issue of homeland security. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Next Tuesday's vote is shaping up to be a do or die battle for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Texas is one of her firewall states along with Ohio, but it's difficult to triumph in the state of Texas if you don't win the Latino vote. The latest CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll has Clinton leading Senator Barack Obama by about a two to one margin among Latino voters in Texas.

But as Ted Rowlands found out in tonight's edition of "Uncovering America," the battle for Latino voters in Texas isn't over yet.


TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama seem to be doing everything they can to attract Texas Latinos.

From the dualing Spanish language songs about them -- [Speaking foreign language]

To the Latino radio and television ads by them.

But despite their efforts, both candidates are courting a bloc of voters that seems to be playing very hard to get.

ADELFA CALLEJO, DALLAS LATINO ACTIVIST: Obama simply has a problem that he happens to be black.

ROWLANDS: That's long-time Dallas Latino activist, 84-year-old Adelfa Callejo, in a local television interview this week, where she basically shuts down Barack Obama because he's African-American.

CALLEJO: And the blacks had the numbers, they never did anything to support us.

ROWLANDS: While according to a recent CNN/Opinion Research poll Clinton has a sizable lead among Texas Latinos, Obama has been able to woo many of them to his side.

DOMINGO GARCIA, DALLAS TEJANO DEMOCRATS: Their firewall, well, in essence, have imploded.

ROWLANDS: Domingo Garcia, chairman of Dallas Tejano Democrats, says Obama has been able to chip away at Clinton's lead among Texas Latinos in part, because of what they see as his unwavering stance on immigration reform.

GARCIA: Hasn't wavered, even when he was under attack. In Iowa and New Hampshire, Hillary did flip-flop, did waiver. That's why a lot of Latinos into the Obama camp, and I think a lot of them left the Clinton camp where they were three weeks ago.

ROWLANDS: Young Latinos could be crucial if they show up in force on Tuesday. People like 23-year-old Ruth Buentello, an artist, who's definitely fallen for Obama, creating this drawing she calls Barack love.

RUTH BUENTELLO, OBAMA SUPPORTER: I've always wanted to see a female president, but I relate -- I think I relate more to Barack Obama and his issues and him as a person.

ROWLANDS: 29-year-old grad student Xochitl Deavila says she's attracted to Hillary Clinton because of her experience.

XOCHITL DEAVILA, CLINTON SUPPORTER: And I think Hillary is the person who has shown that she can get the job done.

ROWLANDS: The job of campaigning here will continue until Tuesday, but both candidates doing everything possible to strike the right chord with Texas Latinos. Ted Rowlands, CNN, Dallas.


O'BRIEN: The battle for the Latino vote in Texas is a personal one for many. Just listen to this.


DULCE MARIA GONZALES, LATINO SINGER SONGWRITER: We need a woman. We need a woman, and that woman is you. We need a woman. We need a woman, and all of us are proud that woman is you.


O'BRIEN: We need a woman and that woman is you. That song was written and performed for Hillary Clinton by Dulce Maria Gonzales, a Latino singer songwriter, joins us this evening. She's going to talk a little bit about some of the trouble that's come along with that song. Also, joining us tonight, Texas State Representative Eddie Lucio, III. He boxed along family ties with the Clinton's when he endorsed Barack Obama. Thanks for talking with me, guys.

Let's begin with you, Eddie. Your dad is a strong Clinton supporter. Do you think generationally is the big difference here?

REP. EDDIE LUCIO, III (D), TEXAS STATE REPRESENTATIVE: It's great to be with you. It's great to be with you, Soledad. I think that there are some aspects of this campaign that, you know, divide by generation and there are some younger voters who have definitely responded to Barack Obama's message. But to be honest with you, here in our campaign office locally, we have folks from all ages, from all races, both men and women, who are working hard for their candidate, Barack, who they believe can really unite the country and move us forward as a people.

O'BRIEN: OK. But what are family dinners like? I mean, are they pleasant? Are they arguing? I mean, give me a little sense of what everybody is saying to each other.

LUCIO: Right. Well, my father and I are just very both excited that we have so many people participating in the process. We've lacked the ability to motivate voters to come out and vote year after year, and we've had very low voter turnout. So the fact that we have two dynamic candidates making history, either way we're excited.

But on a personal level, yes, there is some debate there back and forth. We each both believe wholeheartedly in our candidate. I feel personally that Barack Obama is the man, the candidate at this time. That once in a lifetime leader who can unite this country and move us forward. And my dad feels the same about his long history with Hillary Clinton and the president.

O'BRIEN: And Dulce Maria Gonzales, standing next to you, feels the same as your dad does, I think it's fair to say. You wrote that song, and I like that song a lot. But the theme of the song was we need a woman. Do you think that Hillary Clinton is talking enough about being a woman? Why did you write that song?

DULCE MARIA GONZALES, SINGER/SONGWRITER: I wrote that song because I was very inspired. I knew that she was going to come to the valley, and I wanted to do something special for her and let her know that she does have a Latino vote and she does have a young vote as well. So I was very inspired to do that because I really believe in everything that she has to offer. I know the song may sound a bit feminist, but I just want to highlight the fact that women are strong as well. And it doesn't matter if she's a man or a woman. I'm just voting for her because I believe, truly believe in what she stands for and what she says she can do for us.

O'BRIEN: My vote says there is nothing wrong with sounding a bit feminist, I'll tell you. Listen, there are a couple of things that you hear though when you talk about the Latino community. And I'll kind of break them down because this is what I hear.

Number one, Latinos will not vote for blacks. And I think that some people sort of hinting at a little racism there. You're shaking. Both of you are shaking your heads. You don't think that's true at all?

GONZALES: No, no, no. You want to go ahead.

LUCIO: In our -- you know, in my generation, my experience, young folks our age who have had an opportunity to travel or to study in other parts of our state or our country or the world, you know, we've been exposed to other cultures. We have friends from different races and different backgrounds and different religions. And so, we have a great love and a tolerance for people from a variety of different beliefs. And so, that barrier that you may have referred to earlier with that Hispanic activist is not --


O'BRIEN: And other people -- and in all fairness...

LUCIO: -- had not continued -- and other people.

O'BRIEN: ... I've heard it a number of times actually. Number two, some people have said, hey, this is a macho culture. Latinos will never elect a woman.


O'BRIEN: Both of you again laugh and shake your heads. You disagree.

GONZALES: Yes. Well, it's unfortunately part of culture, Latino culture. But I don't think we should focus on that anymore because there are some Latino countries that have broken through that, for example, Argentina. They have a woman president. Chili, as well. So I don't see why we're staying behind for so long. I think it's time.

O'BRIEN: Somehow they've managed to get past it. OK. Latino -- argument number three, Latinos and blacks go for the same jobs. So it's not racist. It's not sexist. It's purely economic goes that argument. Do you think that's true?

LUCIO: Well, I can -- I don't believe so. And, Soledad, I can say that we have stood by one another and fought for health care, fought for affordable jobs, fought for affordable higher education. We can relate to one another. We have a strong sense of community, a strong sense of passion for our fellow African-American families or Hispanic families, so we can relate to one another. So I think it's brought us closer together especially in this generation than driven us apart.

And, you know, in law school, when I was joining forces with the Thurgood Marshall Law School Society, and we were advocating for spots in law school and we working together, I felt a sense of community that was just beyond our individual race, but would bring in other cultures and other communities to fight as one. And there's power numbers and this generation has really embraced that.

GONZALES: Excuse me --

O'BRIEN: Dulce, let me ask you the final question. I'm going to stop on that. So I want to ask you one question before we run out of time. And I mentioned that there's been a little trouble because once you posted your song on MySpace, you had some pretty unpleasant responses.


O'BRIEN: I mean, some people were out and out hostile to you. Do you think once this is all over, that once there is one Democratic nominee, whoever that is, that everyone will come together again? Or do you think those nasty responses you've been getting in the wake of your song will sort of continue?

GONZALES: I don't think we have to wait until afterwards. I think we could start unifying as Democrats right now, because we shouldn't be so divided in an aggressive way. Yes, I did get some nasty comments, but the ones that are positive have more weight on them. For example, today, I got one lady that told me she had never voted before. And I believe she's 30 years old. She decided today that because of my song she was inspired to research, and she's going to vote for the first time. And that's what this is all about. O'BRIEN: Turning their candidates out one person at a time, I guess that's what it's all about. Dulce Maria Gonzales and Eddie Lucio, both of you, thank you very much for joining us tonight. We certainly appreciate it.

GONZALES: Thank you, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: My pleasure. My pleasure. Oh, thank you.

Don't forget, CNN is the place to be for all-day coverage of the crucial primaries that are coming up on Tuesday. And be sure to join us in the ELECTION CENTER starting at 7:00 p.m. Eastern for all the returns.

Now, a few weeks' back, a music video based on a Barack Obama campaign speech was all the rage on the Web. Remember that?




O'BRIEN: Well, wait until you see the new video. It's absolutely full of stars. And if you have some pennies in your pocket, our treasury secretary would like to change that. We'll tell you why in Tom Foreman's "Raw Politics" straight ahead.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Someone could actually make a difference in my generation.


O'BRIEN: This is the second tribute to Barack Obama written by Black Eyed Peas frontman This one is called "We are the Ones" with a wide array of stars backing the senator from Illinois. The first inspirational video called "Yes We Can" had more than 5 million hits on YouTube.

Larry King is coming up in just a few minutes. Good evening, Larry. Who's going to be with you tonight?

LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": Kal Penn, Bradley Whitford, Penn Jillette and Sean Astin are among our guests. Hot stars on hot political topics which is all we're doing now for eternity. "LARRY KING LIVE" sizzling at the top of the hour. Go get them, Soledad. Sizzle, sizzle.

O'BRIEN: Yes, it certainly feels like eternity in politics. But it certainly is interesting, isn't it? Thank you, Larry. We'll see you at 9:00.

KING: It sure is.

O'BRIEN: And, you know, they say a penny for your thoughts. What about the penny's future? Why does the nation's treasure secretary say it's time to get rid of the one cent coin. Find out in "Raw Politics". Coming up next.


O'BRIEN: A mystery solved and the politics of pennies. Tom Foreman has all that and much more in tonight's edition of "Raw Politics."

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Was it terrorism, faulty wiring, an anarchist plot? No, the mystery of the fires in the Capitol has been solved in a smoking hot "Raw Politics."


FOREMAN (voice-over): Authorities say a female U.S. Capitol police officer has admitted setting at least two of the blazes late last year. No one was hurt but she must resign, pay for the damage and go to counseling.

President Bush and the NATO secretary-general are putting out fires over Afghanistan. Analysts lately have said it is sinking into more chaos, more terrorism, more Taliban control. Now, cold water on those claims.

JAAP DE HOOP SCHEFFER, NATO SECRETARY GENERAL: We will not lose. We are not losing. We are prevailing.

FOREMAN: Check out the mayor of Arlington, Oregon, perched on the town fire truck. Nudge, nudge, wink, wink. The pictures wound up on MySpace. She got the boot. Any apologies?

CARMEN KONTUR-GRONQUIST, FMR. MAYOR, ARLINGTON, OREGON: No, that's my space. That's why they call it MySpace.

FOREMAN: And a meltdown for the penny? The treasury secretary says he'd like to get rid of it, keenly noting that the penny is "worthless than any other currency."


FOREMAN: But he says, it is too hard to do politically. Close one, Abe. That's "Raw Politics."

O'BRIEN: And that's Tom Foreman. You can catch Tom Foreman every weekend on "THIS WEEK IN POLITICS" every Saturday at 6:00 p.m. and Sunday at 1:00 p.m. right after "LATE EDITION."

The politics rolls on at the top of the hour. The candidates go under the microscope at the hands of Larry King. It's an all-star lineup tonight. Fran Drescher, Penn Jillette, Ben Stein and Stephanie Miller.


O'BRIEN: Stay with CNN all weekend. Our "BALLOT BOWL" and the best political team on TV gives you the best chance to keep up with the candidates. If you're away from your TV, find us anytime at the Web at And on primary night, Tuesday, March 4th, CNN ELECTION CENTER will be up and running at 7:00 p.m. Eastern time.

I'm Soledad O'Brien. "LARRY KING LIVE" begins right now.