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CNN's Ballot Bowl

Aired March 1, 2008 - 22:00   ET


DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, I'm Dana Bash in Sedona, Arizona. And it's the special primetime edition of CNN's BALLOT BOWL '08. On BALLOT BOWL, we bring you the candidates, Democrats, and Republicans from the campaign trail as they delivered their sub-speeches, as they try to get your vote, and then they try to get their party's nomination. And we do that on-filtered.
And joining me over the next couple of hours is my colleague, Jessica Yellin, in Dallas, Texas.

Hi, Jessica.

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Dana. Happy Saturday night. What a rocking way to spend the night ballot bowling. We are all over Texas and in Rhode Island. Those are two of the states that will be voting on Tuesday. That primary could be make or break. And it is an essential primary. The Senator Clinton's campaign has said she has to win Texas and Ohio. She's looking to win it to become a competitive or stay a competitive nominee in this race.

We are going to take you all over to the campaign events that have been happening in the next two hours. For now, I want to toss it back to Dana Bash in Arizona.


BASH: And Jessica, you're in Houston, Texas. But Texas, obviously, is one of the four big contest states that we are looking for and looking ahead towards and that is Tuesday -- Texas, Ohio, Vermont, Rhode Island. Senator Barack Obama is campaigning all this weekend. Hillary Clinton is campaigning. Mike Huckabee is campaigning. But there is one candidate who is not campaigning. He is where I am, and that is the Republican senator from Arizona. John McCain is off the campaign trail this weekend.

And Jessica, you might find that interesting. But he is here, spending some time with his family, spending some time with his supporters, and frankly spending some time with the press at his ranch this weekend. So it is perhaps indicative of how he feels going into this Tuesday's primary day. The four contests there. He feels pretty confident. He is well ahead in the delegate race. But what his campaign and what he is hoping, Jessica, is that he actually gets the number of delegates on Tuesday to officially go over the top mathematically and become -- and clinch the Republican nomination.

Jessica? YELLIN: All right, very different races right now on the two sides. The Democratic race still very competitive. As we're looking ahead to Tuesday and the showdown that will take place, both in the state of Texas where I am, but the other big delegate hall is in the state of Ohio. Both the Clinton and Obama campaigns have been crisscrossing that state. Barack Obama was there earlier in Parma, Ohio, talking among other things education and some of his policy proposals. Let's listen.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I believe we can give every child in America the best education this country has to offer. From the day that child is born until the day that child graduates from college. The problem is that we -- it's not that we don't know what to do. The problem is we have not shown the will to do it. And as president, I don't want to just label myself the education president and then do nothing. I don't want to pass no child left behind and then leave the money behind.


So we are going to invest in early childhood education, close the achievement gap, and make sure every child is prepared when they start school. I want to not just talk about how great teachers are but reward them for their greatness by giving them higher salaries, giving them more support, giving them better professional training. I want to maintain the highest standards for our children. We have to have high standards. Our kids are going to be competing against children in China and India who are working hard.

And that means, by the way, that parents, we're going to have to turn off the TV sets and put away the video games and make sure that we're communicating with teachers and instilling a sense of excellence in our children. We've got to have high standards. All of us. Children, teachers, parents, community leaders.

But I don't want those high standards measured just with the single high state standardized tests. Because I don't want the teachers teaching to the tests, I want them to teach the subject matter that will inspire our children. I want them learning art and music and science and literature and civics. All the things that make for a well-rounded education.


And I think it is about time we made college more affordable. So we're going to put forward a $4,000 tuition credit -- every student, every year. To offset the defray of about two-thirds of the cost of the average public college or community college. But students are going to have to give something back in return. They're going to have to participate in community service. Work in a homeless shelter or veterans home or join the Peace Corps. Join the Foreign Service. We'll invest in young people. They will invest in America. And together we can march this country forward. It is time we also have a sensible energy policy. We don't have one right now. Now we are spending $1 billion every day to foreign nations because of our addiction to foreign oil. We've got record gas prices that are on their way up to potentially $4 a gallon. That's something the president apparently wasn't aware of, when he was interviewed the other day.

And we're about to take the polar ice caps (INAUDIBLE) and changing the environment for the worst. So we've got to get a handle on this, not just for us but for the next generation. So I want to cap the emission of greenhouse gases that are causing global warming. We're going to charge polluters for the carbon they send in the atmosphere. That will generate billions of dollars -- billions of dollars that we can then invest in solar and wind and bio diesel. The clean energies of the future.


And that will not only help reduce global warming, but it will also put people back to work building wind turbines and building solar panels. And training our young people to make buildings more energy efficient. And that can -- those green jobs, green technology to help drive the economy here in Ohio and all across the country in ways that will benefit us for decades to come. And we're also going to have to increase fuel efficiency standards on cars.

You know, if we increase fuel efficiency to 40 miles per gallon, we would save the equivalent of all the oil we import from the Persian Gulf. All the oil we'd import from the Persian Gulf. Imagine what that would do. Not just for the environment and the economy, because that's the only way to drive down gas prices long-term. But imagine what it would also do for our national security.

By the way, when I made that proposal, I didn't do it in front of some environmental group. I went to Detroit. And I talked to the automakers. And I have to say the room was really quiet. Nobody clapped. But that's OK. Because part of what we need from the next president is somebody who will tell the American people not just what they think they want to hear, but what they need to hear. What the American people need to make good decisions about how we're going to move this country forward.


YELLIN: Barack Obama addressing the economic squeeze so many in America are feeling, but particularly in Ohio, where blue collar workers are really feeling the economic slump right now. That was Barack Obama on the stump in Ohio earlier. We're going to take you now quickly to another campaigner, Chelsea Clinton, who has been making star appearances on the trail. Here she is speaking live in Houston.


CHELSEA HILTON, HILLARY CLINTON'S DAUGHTER: Understand the process, so that they're able to vote twice. And so, please not only talk to people about voting on Tuesday and how exciting it is to have voted for my mom, for those of you who already have. But also -- yes. But also to make sure that people come back and caucus.

And I know that a lot of people have already voted, but a lot of people haven't. And there's still a lot of people who are undecided right here in Houston and right here across Texas. So please talk about what matters. And find out what matters as you're knocking on people's doors and you're talking to people before or after church tomorrow.

Because if people really think about what's important to our country and really understand that we do need someone who's ready on day one, then people will support my mom. So we've just got to keep talking until we wear them out, and we can definitely vote, and we will win. But thank you so much. (INAUDIBLE) across the border in Arkansas, I'm loving being here in Texas and I'll be here working hard over the next two days. And if we work hard, we will win. Thank you very much.


YELLIN: Chelsea Clinton speaking not far from me in Houston, Texas right now, speaking live. Chelsea Clinton's appearance as we understand had been quite a draw. She's helped her mother they think significantly. A few of the states she's visited, the congressional districts she's gone to, Senator Clinton has actually won those. And she is really the one silver bullet they have for the youth vote to contrast with Barack Obama who is getting so much of the youth vote these days.

Chelsea Clinton speaking here in Texas on behalf of her mom. We are going to take a quick break. But I want to remind you, don't forget to tune in to CNN on Tuesday night. We are going to have all the primary coverage from Rhode Island, Vermont, Texas, and Ohio. It starts 7:00 p.m. Eastern from election central, election center and election central. And coming up on the other side of this break, we'll talk to Bill Schneider about the latest polls. Stay with us.


BASH: Welcome back to CNN's BALLOT BOWL '08, the special prime time edition. And as we over the next couple of hours bring you the candidates as they campaign, sometimes live as you just saw, at least a family member of a candidate, sometimes on tape. We also want to bring in our Bill Schneider to talk about public opinion. Just what kind of reaction they are getting and what kind of odds these candidates are up against.

And specifically, Bill Schneider is in the state of Rhode Island. That is one of four states holding its very important primary on this Tuesday. And Bill, you've been looking at the polls there specifically about Democrats and just how tight it has become between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in that very small state of Rhode Island.

BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Well, Rhode Island is a state that was forgotten until very recently. When suddenly it's a very hot state in contention. Hillary Clinton was here a week ago. Barack Obama was here today speaking in the same location. And it's suddenly become a real contest for Rhode Island's 32 delegates. A very, very tiny sliver of the Democratic race that shows you how much is at stake here.

The polling in Rhode Island, a poll came out yesterday from WPRI that shows Hillary Clinton's lead here in single digits. 49 percent for Clinton, 40 percent for Barack Obama. Now, that looks like she's pretty much in the lead but it's within the poll's margin of error. And this was supposed to be Clinton territory. It's a very catholic state. Catholics have come out very strongly for Hillary Clinton in all the previous primaries. She's been here for a long time. Come back and forth for years.

Her husband was very, very popular here. Got a lot of white and working class voters. But yet it's a state that's hot in contention. A lot of new voters have registered to vote here and they're registering as independents. Which means they can vote in the Democratic primary and independents tend to vote for Barack Obama. When he spoke here today, he talked about the change issue. He said he brought it into the campaign and he's the one who can talk about real change.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It seems like this change thing is catching in because everybody's talking about change now. Everybody's saying how they stand for change. But I want you to understand what real change is. Don't be fooled. You know, real change means saying what you mean and meaning what you say, not just during election time, but all the time.



SCHNEIDER: If this state is in serious contention, if Hillary Clinton could lose Rhode Island, that's a big blow. Because it means she can't carry the Democratic base.

BASH: Well, Bill, we have about 32 delegates I think as you said at stake in Rhode Island. Not that many. But as you also said, every single one of these delegates right now, between these two Democratic candidates, matter, and matter big-time. So it is going to be interesting to see, even what happens in that small state of Rhode Island.

Bill Schneider, thank you very much. We'll be getting back to you throughout the next couple of hours. And when we come back after the break, we're going to hear from Bill Clinton. If you want to know just how important Tuesday's primary, Texas and Ohio in particular are to Hillary Clinton, just remember what Bill Clinton said. He said that she basically has to win those. So what is Bill Clinton telling voters as he campaigns tirelessly for his wife? You'll hear from him right after the break. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

YELLIN: Welcome back to BALLOT BOWL. I'm Jessica Yellin in Houston, Texas state with one of the lion shares of delegates coming up in this election on Tuesday. 193 delegates at stake here in Texas. The other state with a big hole, Ohio, 141 delegates at stake there. And we heard Chelsea Clinton stumping for her mom here in Texas this evening.

Chelsea's dad was hard at work in Ohio -- Lakewood, Ohio, talking to an audience about the qualities they should want in a president. Let's listen.


BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You want somebody that will never forget the look I see in your eyes right now. People running for president get a lot out of it. They take up the energy from the crowds. And they hear every four years the song America sings. The hopes, the dreams, the happiness, the heart break, the tragedy. The family squeezes, everything, all the good and bad. It flows out of the American people. And it's been gushing out this year, which is why you have such record turnouts and all the record contributions. All that stuff.

But it is so easy after the election to forget. If you're not careful when you get to be president, you will think you are somebody. And all you are is the most fortunate hired hand on the face of the earth. And you dare not forget it. Because if you forget it, if you forget it, the consequences can be calamitous.


YELLIN: Bill Clinton talking about what they should need in a president. Sort of picking up on this theme you hear from his wife these days, which is she's applying for the job of president, i.e., she is ready to be at the people's service.

We are going to take a break. But on the other side, we're going to talk about a very important issue. The candidates' stance on trade. It is crucial, especially in the state of Ohio, so stick with us when we come back.


BASH: Welcome back to special primetime edition of CNN's BALLOT BOWL '08. I'm Dana Bash in Sedona, Arizona. Arizona is not one of the contest states that we are looking towards next Tuesday. Arizona actually had its primary back on Super Tuesday, February 5th. But I'm here because the Republican presidential candidate is here. It is his home state. That candidate I'm talking about is of course Senator John McCain. He's home for the weekend. Not on the campaign trail. Not in Texas, Ohio, Vermont, or Rhode Island.

Perhaps an indicator of his comfort level right now with regard to clinching the nomination. But he is hoping, is hoping that Tuesday, he has enough wins and getting gains enough delegates to put him mathematically over the top, to at least, in terms of the numbers get the Republican nomination. But he was campaigning over the last week in Ohio and Texas. And yesterday, he was in Texas -- in Round Rock, Texas, specifically trying to jump into the Democrats' debate over free trade.

Democrats have been really going at one another about who is or isn't for the North American Free Trade Agreement, the U.S. free trade agreement with Canada and Mexico. Well, John McCain, as part of his attempt to try to draw lines between himself and the Democrats already jumped into that and made clear that regardless of where the Democrats stick, he is somebody who is for free trade.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're facing a very big struggle in Iraq and also in Afghanistan, as you know. Our allies there are not as strong or as committed in Afghanistan as we want them to be. And one of our greatest assets we have in Afghanistan today, frankly, are our Canadian friends. It's very controversial in Canada. Their commitment and the suffering and the losses they have faced. And we need, we need our Canadian friends. And we need their continued support in Afghanistan.

So what do we do? The two Democrat candidates for president say that they are going to unilaterally, they're going to unilaterally abrogate the North American Free Trade Agreement. Our biggest trading partner, who we made a solemn agreement with, they're going to unilaterally abrogate that. Now, how do you think the Canadian people are going to react to that, who we are having now their enormous and invaluable assistance in Afghanistan, and we're going to abrogate a free trade agreement?

I want to tell you right now, I believe in free trade. I will stick with free trade. And it is the future of America's economy. And every time in history that we have practiced protectionism, we have paid a very heavy price for it. So I want to tell our Canadian friends and I want to tell our friends in Mexico and other -- our trading partners around the world, that I will negotiate and conclude free trade agreements and I will not, I will not, after entering into solemn agreements, go and say that I will abrogate those agreements. And I thank again the Canadian people...



BASH: That was John McCain speaking at a town hall for Dell employees, Dell computer employees, just outside of Austin yesterday. Not only talking about his support for free trade, but trying to make the case that if Democrats want to abrogate, or really what they want to do is renegotiate the NAFTA agreement -- that they are really jeopardizing the U.S. relationship with Canada.

Trying to make the point there that Canada is helping the United States in its fight in Afghanistan. It's something that's not very popular in Canada. Big picture of what John McCain is doing there and what he's been trying to do, in terms of the whole host of issues, which is to say that Democrats would steer the country wrong on the issue of national security.

National security, John McCain and his campaign thinks, is his number one issue. It's the best asset that he has. Somebody who has served in the Senate for 24 years. Somebody who is a well-known war hero and military veteran. Now, on the issue of John McCain, his opponent in this race, who's still in this race, Mike Huckabee. I want to bring in my colleague, Mary Snow, who is with us now from Houston, Texas.

And Mary, you have been covering the Republican candidate who's actually been on the campaign trail this weekend, and that is Mike Huckabee there in Texas.

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Dana. He is in Houston tonight. He's having an event that was closed to the press, but he is trying to make his final push. While Senator John McCain is hoping that Tuesday will seal the deal for him in terms of gaining the Republican nomination, Mike Huckabee is holding out hope that Texas will provide an upset for him, to keep him in this race.

As we all know, it's mathematically impossible for him to catch up. Most of what he talks about on the campaign trail and in interviews frankly is answering the question why he's still is in this race. But he also was talking about issues as well. And earlier this week, he was in Texarkana. And he was talking about issues of trade. Let's hear a little bit of what Mike Huckabee had to say earlier this week.


MIKE HUCKABEE, (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: So what do you think you get when you take a country and you penalize the hardest working people in that culture, so that you can subsidize those who don't work at all?

Folks, what you end up with is what we have. An incredible trade imbalance with china, jobs going there that should be here, and let's never forget that a country to be free has to be able to do three things. It's got to be able to feed itself. We've got to have a strong agricultural capacity so that the food we put on our tables is food that we created ourselves and not food that we had shipped here from somebody who doesn't like us. That's important.

The second thing, the second thing we've got to have in order to be free is the capacity to fuel ourselves. Many of you are paying more for gasoline today than you ever dreamed you'd ever pay for a gallon of gas. In fact, I can remember -- I see some folks out here I went to school with. When we started driving back in the '60s and early '70s, I remember when you could fill up your car for $4. That's a pretty big gas tank too.

And we thought when gas went to 30 cents a gallon, it's really getting out of hand. We thought we'd never see gas at $1 a gallon. Why people won't pay that. Wouldn't you like to buy gasoline for $1 a gallon today? Now, why is it that fuel prices continue to escalate, and they never go completely back down?

Let me tell you, it's because we depend upon foreign governments for our energy supply. We are not fueled by our own capacity. We're fueled by people in the Middle East who basically do not like us. And they're not interested in our economy. They're interested in theirs. And they're not interested in our environment, they're interested in theirs. And the fact is, this country has been fiddling around for decades and decades, always talking about how we're going to be energy independent, but never having the courage to do it.

Ladies and gentlemen, it's time you elect a president who makes a commitment that this country will be energy independent within ten years. And we won't be dependent upon the Saudis and Kuwaitis and others to tell us how much we're going to be paying for fuel.

And to be free, a country is also got to be able to fight for itself. That means we've got to be able to manufacture our own ships and airplanes and bullets and bombs and tanks. And we can't do that right now completely, because we've lost so many of our manufacturing jobs, which once were not only the stable part of our middle class, but it also was our capacity to be able to defend ourselves should someone come against us.

Franklin Roosevelt once called America, particularly the manufacturing center of the country, the arsenal of democracy. Folks, when those Chinese are building three submarines for every one that we build, let's just ask ourselves, why do you think that that's happening? Do you think they're afraid of Taiwan attacking them? I don't think so.

My point is, if this country can't manufacture anything anymore, it's more than the jobs that we've outsourced. We've outsourced our very freedom.


SNOW: Mike Huckabee earlier this week talking to a crowd in Texarkana talking about trade. Also, energy dependence. Mike Huckabee trying to make his mark in the Republican race. And Dana, he feels that he has a shot here in Texas and his aides will say, you know, this is the state where he felt momentum building early on when they remind everyone that he was just an asterisk in the polls.

So the fact that he is perhaps in double digits behind John McCain at this point, he feels that is a big improvement from where he once was, and that is one of the reasons why he keeps telling people that he is staying in this and fighting. But it is clear he keeps saying that until someone gets 1,191 delegates he'll stay in this. So Tuesday, if Senator McCain does get the nomination, that could be it for Mike Huckabee. Although, he isn't making any final plans.


DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR: That's right. And Mary, you know, you make a really good point in that. If you look at CNN's poll of polls, Mike Huckabee has about 25 percent of the Republican vote right now in Texas. That's not a small number when you think about the fact that you look at the math, and everybody looks at the math, and it looks like John McCain is going to be the nominee.

That is perhaps telling and perhaps one of the many reasons why Huckabee decided to stay in the race, to show that there is and should be an alternative, a conservative alternative to John McCain.

And so, it's really fascinating thing to watch, as you said. Mike Huckabee throughout this past several months go from an asterisk, at least to somebody who had been a big contender and is one of the last men standing.

Mary snow, thank you very much, from Houston, Texas. And we're going to go to a break right now. When we come back, we're going to look at the Democrats and how they have been debating, really debating in a very intense way this issue we've been talking about, and that is free trade. Stay with us.


JESSICA YELLIN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to BALLOT BOWL. I'm Jessica Yellin in Houston, Texas. Just before the break, you heard Republicans talking about trade and NAFTA. Well, that has been a particularly fought over issue on the Democratic side.

Both Senator Hillary Clinton and Senator Obama trading barbs over that in the state of Ohio where blue collar workers have suffered so much loss of manufacturing work, when industry has gone overseas. The trade deals have become enormously unpopular there.

Both candidates promising to reform NAFTA and trying to outdo one another, competing on who was against NAFTA first or who criticized it more earlier. Here's Senator Clinton speaking in Ohio earlier this week on Thursday about her stance on NAFTA.


SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I understand also that in a press conference today, President Bush criticized both Senator Obama and myself on NAFTA, and in particular, on my pledge to renegotiate NAFTA. And I find that highly ironic, since President Bush has turned a blind eye to all of the actions by China and others to dump steel into Ohio, hurting Ohio workers, and the Ohio economy.

And has also failed to act in the face of other imports like lead-based toys and contaminated pet food and so much else that really requires a president to step in and protect the interests of American workers and consumers. I also was reminded that Senator Obama had a chance to take a stand against China and their trade practices that hurt our country with actions like dumping below-market price steel, when we had a vote in the Senate on how we could better defend against those kinds of behaviors.

Senator Obama voted against it. I voted for it. So trade remains a very important issue here in Ohio and it's one that I have put forth a very specific set of policies that I would follow to try to create a level playing field. And I'm well aware that many parts of our country have different views about trade. I was in Laredo as I've said many times last week, which has greatly benefited from the increase in trade. But we need a win-win.

We need to have a set of policies that are good for all of our country. So we need to maintain the positive aspects, but to get very specific about what we're going to do to fix an agreement like NAFTA. And I've said we need core labor environmental standards. We need a tougher enforcement regimen with mechanisms that really work. I have advocated for a trade prosecutor.

We need to eliminate the right of foreign companies to sue to overturn our laws that protect our environment and protect the health and safety of our workers. So I think we can renegotiate on terms that would be much more beneficial to everyone.


YELLIN: Senator Clinton speaking on Thursday, vowing to renegotiate NAFTA if she becomes president. She and Obama, as I said, have been trading barbs over this issue. And the Obama campaign this evening had stepped up their attacks on Senator Clinton. This evening their campaign released to reporters a letter that was written by one of the big trade organizations, one of the big trade unions that backed Barack Obama.

In the letter from the trade union to Senator Clinton, they asked Senator Clinton, if you've always been opposed to NAFTA, why didn't you do more to stop it? Why didn't you speak out when your husband was -- when it came out during your husband's administration, and why have you not fought harder against it in your years in the Senate?

Oddly, they also bring up a Canadian TV report that they say even in this letter has been debunked. This was a report on Canadian television that a member of the Obama campaign, they said, allegedly told the Canadian Embassy -- hey, don't worry, we won't really make good on our NAFTA promises, it's all political campaign talks. Well, that was -- everybody denied it happen. This Canadian Embassy denied it. The Obama campaign denied it.

And now, the Obama campaign itself is releasing this letter that references it and asks the Clinton campaign to stop talking about this report. What's odd there is you're sort of would be surprised that the Obama campaign would even bring it up. You'd think they want this to go away. It certainly conflicts with Obama's message that he says what he means and does what he says.

So the fighting as you can tell is getting incredibly tense as we get down to the wire, since NAFTA is one of these key issues that could decide the vote, especially in that state of Ohio on Tuesday. Now, I'll give you a sense of where Obama stands on the NAFTA issue. Let's listen to this sound of him from Thursday when he addressed it on his plane.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The benefits of NAFTA are ones that I would like to see retained. But that if we cannot have stronger labor standards and environmental standards and safety standards, then my job as president will be to look at what effect this has on the economy overall. Let me give you a very specific example.

It is true that some of the border communities along Mexico and Texas have benefited from NAFTA. What is also true is that there are enormous numbers of Mexican agricultural workers and farmers who have been displaced and the part of the reasons that we've seen such a problem with immigration over recent years is the grinding poverty that exists in Mexico.

And so, you know, I can't look just anecdotally at where it has helped. I want to look at overall. Can we improve this so that it's good not only for workers in Ohio and workers in Texas, but also good for workers in Mexico who, right now, can't support themselves, are ending up coming here and potentially depressing U.S. jobs as well.


YELLIN: Barack Obama on his campaign plane last Thursday. And if you think that's hard to hear, it's even harder when you're at the back of the line on the plane trying to get your microphone near him. Expect to hear both the candidates talk a lot more about NAFTA in the coming days.

And as you can tell, this campaign is being waged in the air and on the ground, but also on the Internet. So on the other side of this break, we'll show you some of the Internet ads that are all over the web. Stay with us.


BASH: Welcome back to this special prime time edition of CNN's BALLOT BOWL '08. I'm Dana Bash in Sedona, Arizona. Well, here on BALLOT BOWL, we try to bring you the candidates, Democrats and Republicans, as they vie for your vote and for the party's nomination. We bring you large chunks of their stump speeches as they are out and about, or on the campaign trail.

But the candidates obviously are not just campaigning on the campaign trail. They're using the Internet also to get your vote. And for that part of the story we go to CNN's Josh Levs.

JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So the candidates are always freshening their websites with new videos and getting out certain messages. We pick there some videos that we found here and we pulled out the best votes for you. Let's take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am one of a million.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am one of a million right here in Texas.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm not a movement.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I need a president willing to roll up her sleeves.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And deliver solutions.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We need solutions that will help me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And help my family.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am one of a million.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am one of a million.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who will stand up? Be noticed.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right here in Texas.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think we have to give the Clintons their due. The economy's good. But I have to tell you, that was then, this is now. And it's interesting because I think we're seeing a whole sea change in the way we look in our body of politics.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is it that defines a great leader? Is it his courage? Is it his courage to do the difficult and not just the easy things? Is it the courage to fight? To fight to survive? Faith certainly plays a role. Faith in God. Faith in your fathers. Faith in your friends and band of brothers.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have always been the long shot. The dark horse. The David among political giants. But this is our country. This is our party. These, our voices. And we will not concede or raise that white flag because until this race is over, this race isn't over.


LEVS: It's really interesting to see the kinds of messages that they choose to focus on in these web videos. Now, how many times have we shown you a celebrity-filled video for Barack Obama? But what we have not shown you very often is a celebrity video for Hillary Clinton. Well, now the Clinton camp has released a video from Jack Nicholson in which he's put together some clips of his movie. Let's take a look at a little piece of it here.


JACK NICHOLSON, ACTOR: There is nothing on this earth sexier, believe me, gentlemen, than a woman that you have to salute in the morning. I'm Jack Nicholson and I approve this message.


LEVS: All right. Well, I'm not sure whether we'll be seeing him on the campaign trail very much. But there is a little dose of celebrity power there, online, for the Clinton camp. I'm Josh Levs, CNN, Atlanta.

BASH: And those are some of the low-cost videos that these candidates are putting on their websites. But at least the Democrats right now are still spending big bucks to put television ads on the airwaves. And some of those ads, at least for Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, are causing quite a buzz, quite a stir. Particularly, the whole question of which one of those candidates would you want woken up at 3:00 a.m. with a national security crisis? We're going to have a lot more on that after the break.

And we also want to remind you, we've been talking about big primaries on Tuesday. You want to tune in to CNN at 7:00 p.m. Eastern. It's CNN Election Center. We're going to have the whole CNN political team to bring you the results as they come in. And also, analysis as well. And after the break, we're going to get other news, other news besides political news. Yes, there is other news going on in the world. And Tony Harris will bring you that from Atlanta, after the break. Stay with us.


TONY HARRIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And Hello, I'm Tony Harris. We will return to Dana Bash and Jessica Yellin with the BALLOT BOWL in a moment. But first, we want to update you on some of the other news headlines this hour.

The Middle East, it is a violent weekend between Israel and militants in Gaza. Four straight days of strikes by both sides. Missile barrages from Gaza, air strikes and ground fire from Israel. We are told more than 50 people have been killed. Israeli officials say this is just the beginning, unless Hamas stops launching rockets into Israel.

Look who's back from the war. Britain's most famous soldier, Prince Harry. It was a security decision to pull Harry out of Afghanistan after a U.S. Website revealed where he was deployed. Harry's a lieutenant in the British Army. He had been in the war zone since December serving as the forward air controller.

We're learning more tonight about a man hospitalized after ricin was found in his Las Vegas hotel room. The Associated Press has interviewed a woman who describes the man as a loner who just barely got by. Authorities found several vials of the poison in the man's Extended Stay room along with firearms and what they call an anarchist type textbook. The FBI is now searching at Riverton, Utah, home for any evidence. That home reportedly belongs to the man's cousin.

A plane crash in Titusville, Florida, killed two people and left two others critically injured Saturday morning. Authorities say an experimental plane may have had trouble landing and hit another that was taxiing at an air field. Both planes caught fire. Officials say the air park does not have a control tower. I'm Tony Harris.

Now back to Dana Bash and Jessica Yellin with more BALLOT BOWL.

YELLIN: Welcome back to a special edition of BALLOT BOWL. A prime time, or depending where you live, late-night edition of the show. Where we bring you news from the candidates in their own words, unedited, long, unfiltered sound in a form you'll never see on any other network.

Tonight, we're going to take you to news of the candidates, each of the candidates still in the race. I'm Jessica Yellin reporting to you from Houston, Texas. This state one of the major prizes in the race on Tuesday. 191 delegates at stake for the Democrats here. But 370 at stake in total in the four states that vote on Tuesday. It's not just the Democrats in the race. The Republicans are still fighting over this nomination too.

CNN's Dana Bash is covering them. She is in Sedona, Arizona tonight.


BASH: That's right, Jessica. We have a very, very busy hour ahead for the rest of our prime time coverage of BALLOT BOWL. And as you said, this is a weekend where candidates, at least most of the candidates, are out trying to get as many chances to touch voters and to appeal to voters ahead of Tuesday's primaries. Primaries in Texas, Ohio, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

And ahead for this hour, we are going to hear from Hillary Clinton. She has been defending her new and a little bit controversial ad where she talks about being woken up at 3:00 a.m. and the fact that she thinks that she is the person in the White House that should be woken up with a national security crisis. She should be the president.

And we're going to hear from Barack Obama, who has been responding to that ad and responding to that issue of experience and who is ready to be commander-in-chief.

We're also going to be talking about the Republican side. John McCain, he is not on the campaign trail this weekend, but we're going to bring you some of what he has been telling voters and the case he has been making, not just to Republicans but to the electorate -- big picture electorate -- has even been looking forward to the general election already.

And Mike Huckabee, he is still in this race, and he has been campaigning, been campaigning pretty hard in the state of Texas, where you are this weekend -- Jessica.

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Dana, you were talking about this ad war that is going on between Senators Clinton and Obama. And it is fierce. It is expensive; both of them breaking records in the money they're spending in this primary. The latest and most controversial ad was released Friday. Senator Clinton, once again hitting the theme of national security, hit a new note, which was a sense of crisis: What would you, the American, do? Who would you want to answer the red phone if it rang in the middle of the night?

She thinks she has the resume to be that person. Let's listen to her ad:


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 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 CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm Hillary Clinton, and I approve this message.


YELLIN: Now, Barack Obama responded swiftly to that ad. First, on the stump, he calls it fear-mongering. Senator Clinton rejects that. She just says it's talking about reality.

But on the airwaves, Barack Obama has released an ad of his own. It's airing only here in the state of Texas. Here it is:


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's 3:00 a.m., and your children are safe and asleep. But there's a phone ringing in the White House. Something's happened 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.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm Barack Obama, and I approve this message.


YELLIN: Well, not only are we reporting on ads, but now the candidates are talking about the ads on the stump. It gets a little bit postmodern there, a little bit extravagantly self-aware. But the candidates are really going after each other about their ads and their messages.

Here's what Barack Obama had to say about Senator Clinton's ad:


OBAMA: I do want to take a moment to respond because the press is, I'm sure, curious to an ad that Senator Clinton is apparently running today. It asks a legitimate question. It says, "Who do you want answering the phone in the White House when it's 3:00 a.m. and something has happened in the world?" It's a legitimate question. And we've seen these ads before. They're usually the kind that play upon people's fears and try to scare up votes.

I don't think these ads will work this time, because the question is not about picking up the phone. The question is, what kind of judgment will you exercise when you pick up that phone?

In fact, we have had a red phone moment. It was the decision to invade Iraq. Senator Clinton gave the wrong answer. George Bush gave the wrong answer. John McCain gave the wrong answer. I stood up, and I said that a war in Iraq would be unwise, would cost us thousands of lives and billions of dollars. I said that it would distract us from the real threat that we face, that we should take the fight to al Qaeda in Afghanistan. That's the judgment I made on the most important foreign policy decision of our generation. That's the kind of judgment I intend to show when I answer the phone in the White House as president of the United States of America, the judgment to keep us safe -- the judgment to keep us safe, to go after our real enemies, and provide the men and women who wear the uniform of the United States with the equipment they need when we do send them into battle, and the respect and care that they have earned when they come home.

And I will never see the threat of terrorism as a way to scare up votes, because it's a threat that should rally the country around our common enemies. That is the judgment we need at 3:00 a.m. And that's the judgment that I am running for as president of the United States of America.


YELLIN: Barack Obama saying -- changing the equation -- saying it's not experience that matters, but judgment.

Well, you know it doesn't stop there. So here is Senator Clinton criticizing Barack Obama for criticizing her for her critical ad:


CLINTON: I know the difficulties that our men and women in uniform face every day. And I also understand completely what it means when that phone rings at 3:00 a.m. There isn't any time to convene your advisers to do a survey about what will or will not be popular. You have to make a decision. And in the world that we face, with both the challenges and opportunities, we need a president who picks up that phone, ready to decide.

Now, Senator Obama says that if we talk about national security in this campaign, we're trying to scare people. I don't think people in Texas scare all that easily. The American people aren't afraid of the challenges and dangers we face in the world. They want a president with the strength and wisdom to take those challenges and dangers head-on.

Now, there's a big difference between giving speeches about national security and giving orders as commander-in-chief. There's a big difference between delivering a speech at an anti-war rally as a state senator and picking up that phone in the White House at 3:00 a.m. in the morning to deal with an international crisis. Senator Obama talks about these issues. But when it came time to act, he was missing in action. He gave a speech -- he gave a speech in 2002 against the war in Iraq, and I commend him for that speech. By 2004, he was saying he wasn't sure how he would have voted because he never had to vote, and that he basically agreed with the way President Bush was conducting the war. By the time he got to the Senate, he voted exactly as I did. There's a difference between making a speech when you have no responsibility and having to step up and take charge and take the responsibility for your actions.

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. It's the pledge you take when you put your hand on that Bible and take the oath of office, and you swear to protect and defend our Constitution and America. I understand that. That's why I have been endorsed by 25 generals and admirals who know that I will be there to answer that phone, and that my experience equips me to give the right answer when I do.


YELLIN: Senator Clinton effectively arguing she is the grown-up who should be in the White House answering that red phone if it should ring. Symbolically, the red phone stands for all the dangers in the world -- and adds that while she's taken some criticism, it did help Senator Clinton define the debate in the campaign in these final days leading up to the primary. After a few days in which the news was all about John McCain attacking Barack Obama, President Clinton attacking Barack Obama, Barack Obama acting like the nominee, this ad let Senator Clinton put herself right back in the middle of that debate, and she's taking them all on with this argument over national security.

We'll talk a lot more about this coming up. But also coming up, we're going to talk a little bit about the delegate map and why Mike Huckabee stays in this race and what he hopes to accomplish. That's all on the other side of this break. And you can of course watch all the election returns on Tuesday night. We're going to start covering them at 7:00 p.m. Eastern, here on CNN. We'll be live from Rhode Island, Vermont, Ohio, and Texas with all the news as soon as it breaks.


BASH: Welcome back to this special prime-time edition of CNN's "Ballot Bowl '08." I'm Dana Bash in Sedona, Arizona. We've been bringing you the candidates as they have been on the campaign trail; we've been bringing them to you unfiltered as we do here on "Ballot Bowl." But we want to give you a snapshot of where things stand ahead of the primaries, the four primaries -- very important primaries -- we've been talking about for the past hour and a half or so.

First of all, the Democrats, the delegate count, let's show you where they stand: Barack Obama, he right now, according to CNN's count, has 1,369 delegates in his -- on his side. Hillary Clinton, she has 1,267 delegates. In order to clinch the nomination on the Democratic side, one of them has to get 2,025. So both of them are a ways off, and certainly Tuesday won't do the trick for the Democrats.

The Republicans, it's quite different. Take a look at these numbers: John McCain, according to CNN's count, has 1,033 delegates, 1,033 Republican delegates. Mike Huckabee is very far behind: 247. And Ron Paul - don't forget Ron Paul -- he's got 21 delegates. Republicans, you need 1,191 to clinch the nomination. And that is why John McCain, looking at a total of 256 that are possible to get on Tuesday in all four of those contest states we have been talking about -- they are hoping inside the McCain campaign that he does mathematically clinch the nomination on Tuesday.

However, John McCain is not campaigning this weekend. His opponent Mike Huckabee is campaigning in Texas. McCain is here in Arizona, his home state. He's been hosting some of his supporters and people -- governors and senators -- who have endorsed him and helped him along the way, helped him get to that high delegate count number. But he had been campaigning all last week; and he will continue, of course, next week.

The issue that he really has been talking about for the most part, that he wants to talk about, is national security, specifically, the war in Iraq. John McCain, you ask him why he came back from the political dead over the summer, and he will say that it is because things got better in Iraq. And he very much is tied to whatever happens on the ground, in terms of his political viability. He admitted it again, in several different ways this past week. So what he's been trying to do on the campaign trail is make the case that things are getting better on the ground in Iraq. And that Democrats -- whichever, Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton, whomever would be his opponent -- would take the country in the wrong direction, from his perspective. He says they would wave the white flag of surrender.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think it's long, and it's hard, and it's tough. There's no Thomas Jeffersons in Iraq. Any time there was anybody who showed any independence for many, many years, Saddam Hussein chopped their head off. And so it's hard. But -- and I think there's a couple of tests coming up. One of them is Kirkuk. As you know, Saddam Hussein moved a whole bunch of people, Arabs, into the area, and moved the Kurds out. Now the Kurds are back in. But they have kind of made a little progress on that, that surprises everybody. Mosul, we are seeing a test of the Iraqi military. Because it's going to be the Iraqi military that goes in there, with support from the United States, as they try to clean out that last bastion or one of the last bastions of al Qaeda's control over an area. I think it's hard. I think it's a hard slog. But no one, even the most optimistic of us, predicted the progress that has been made over the last year by the surge, when you look at the progress that they have made.

So all I can say is that the whole scheme of things is the classic counterinsurgency. It's not a new theory. It's an old one that we've used successfully and unsuccessfully, that is the Iraqi military and police take over more and more of the responsibilities. The sectarian violence is way down. The attacks on the pilgrims at Karbala have still been going on, but they're dramatically reduced. So I think that if we continue this progress -- and I think we are -- then you will see Americans withdraw to enclaves and then gradually withdraw.

And then we decide, after the war, then we decide the issue of American presence. After the first Gulf War, thanks to Secretary Baker and others, we had negotiated a military base agreement with Kuwait. We have one there. We have a base in Turkey. We have troops in South Korea. So military presence may remain for years; it may not. Maybe like the Saudis -- the Saudis decide they don't want any American military presence here. But that is after we succeed in the war. And I think the Americans will show - will show more patience if we can show them success.


BASH: That's Republican presidential candidate John McCain speaking a couple of days ago at the Baker Institute of Public Policy at Rice University in Texas. And Texas is where our Mary Snow is right now.

Mary, you've been covering, like I have, the Republicans John McCain and, of course, Mike Huckabee, who is campaigning in Texas this weekend. And it's interesting just to listen to John McCain there, Mary, talking about the war, the case that he made and the case that he had been making over the past several months, really focusing on the Republican electorate. It's quite different, of course, and he and his campaign know that, looking at the general election. It's going to be a lot harder for him to make that argument against the Democrats. But, you know, covering Mike Huckabee, he's somebody, obviously a Republican, who very much agrees with John McCain on the war. MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, absolutely, Dana. And as you were just saying, how John McCain has really said Iraq is the reason why he has done so well, when just months ago his campaign was pretty much written off. Mike Huckabee will say the reason why he is still in the race is because of social conservative issues. And that is the thing that he is trying to stress as he campaigns and says that he will defy all these suggestions that he step aside just yet. He has really put a lot of hope here in Texas. As you mentioned, he's campaigning, putting his final push in before Tuesday's primary, really concentrating on issues such as abortion. He wants an amendment to ban abortion. He opposes same-sex marriage. Those are some of the issues that he keeps talking about on the campaign trail. And he is hoping that conservatives in Texas will come out and have a good showing for him.

However, everywhere he goes, he is asked pretty much the same question: Why are you in the race? Because, as you pointed out, he is so far behind in terms of the delegate count. He says it's not official yet that there is a Republican nominee, and until there is, he'll stay in the race. And as Mike Huckabee likes to do, he likes to sprinkle a lot of his reasoning with some humor, referring to what he now calls "Huck-a-math," saying one of the latest challenges he has is a delegate count, saying that different news organizations have different numbers, although they're pretty much rounded out on the same page. That is one of the -- the same amount, however - is that's one of the arguments that he's been making.

And earlier this week, he was campaigning in Ohio, and he was in Columbus answering questions; but also telling supporters why he's staying in this race, despite all the odds. Here's what he had to say:


MIKE HUCKABEE, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Folks, I know that there are some Republicans in our party and many of the establishment who want to say this election's already over. There's no point even coming to Ohio, because it's a done deal. We're going to have a coronation, not an election. Well, excuse me, but the last time I checked, being a Republican meant that we were supposed to have elections. People were going to vote. And the people would make that division.

The fact is, if you want the pundits on the East Coast and some talking head in Washington or New York to decide for you, all you have to do is sit back. Don't even bother voting, because they've already decided that this Republican primary is over. But you know what? It isn't over until Ohio says it's over.

Now, there are some folks who keep saying to me every day, "Governor, you don't seem to understand the math." I understand it completely. Here's what I understand: You don't have the nomination until you have 1,191 pledged delegates. And, by the way, I asked some news people this morning, I said, "If you guys are so sure of where this stands, how come not one of your networks -- there were four in the room - I said, "How come not one of your networks have the same numbers?" Because they don't. If this is such a done deal, how come when every one of you report where the delegate count is they're never the same? If it's that ambiguous, if it's that uncertain, please don't tell me that the math makes sense because, obviously, you guys don't have the math figured out very well, either.

So let me give you a little Huck-a-math here today, OK. If nobody gets 1,191 pledged, confirmed delegates, then that means this goes to the convention. And if it goes to the convention, then, I believe, the most conservative candidate left on his feet will be the nominee. And, by the way, you would be looking at him right now.

Now, since it hasn't been decided, I think we ought to still have another debate before next Tuesday. And I just want to say, I'm available any time, any place, any location, on any network. And I'm hoping that maybe we'll have a chance so that Republican voters in places like Ohio and Texas will have a chance and have a choice and will have a voice, and we'll get their votes. Because, my friend, if we don't go through the process of actually having an election, it's not me that's being harmed, it's you. It's this country, and it's the future of the Republican Party, if we don't get to vote.

I've heard some people say, Do you think it will hurt the Republican Party for you staying in the race? No, my friend, it hurts the Republican Party when we don't even have a race. It hurts the Republican Party when we don't have the debate. It hurts the Republican Party when Republicans don't have a conservative choice. That's what hurts the Republican Party.


SNOW: That was Mike Huckabee speaking earlier this week in Columbus, Ohio, making his case on why he is still in this race. And, Dana, as he pointed out that news organizations have different counts on the delegates, but all those numbers are pretty much in the same ballpark. And all of them have Mike Huckabee so far behind. But he is concentrating on those differences in the math in hopes of keeping his campaign alive. And he is really hoping to make a mark here in Texas. You know, he also talked about the establishment Republicans. Even the governor of Texas, where he's hoping to do so well, has suggested to him to step aside. But Mike Huckabee feels it's important to have a voice on a lot of these conservative issues that he has been talking about in the past couple of months - Dana.

BASH: That's right, Mary. And you heard him there say that he wants to have another debate, he wants to debate John McCain. Well, that's not going to happen. McCain and his campaign have made pretty clear that their schedule is full. He's on the campaign trail, he's home here in Arizona, but he has made it pretty clear that's not going to happen.

But there is something, Mary, that could make Mike Huckabee happy. You cover him, and I've covered him. You know that one of the things he complains about is that there isn't enough attention paid to the issue of education. Well, we're going to make him happy, because we're going to get to what the candidates are saying about the issue of education. Stick around, we are going to have that right after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BASH: Welcome back to CNN's "Ballot Bowl '08," a special prime- time edition tonight. As we've been covering John McCain and covering the Republicans in general, the issue of the economy has been rising, and has been rising dramatically in terms of the issue that he and others have been talking about. But specifically, John McCain, he's been talking about the economy. His prescription for fixing the economy has been, of course, making the tax cuts permanent and other things with regard to the tax cuts.

But the other interesting thing that McCain says and the argument that he makes, that needs to happen, from his perspective, is to retrain the workforce. And he talks about the economy vis-a-vis education, and having special education for adults who simply don't have jobs, and the jobs that they had are not coming back.

So let's listen to what John McCain has been saying about that on the stump in Texas and in Ohio:


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think, obviously, education is one of the keys to us having a trained and qualified workforce. And very briefly, I believe in choice and competition in the schools. I also believe that charter schools work in competition with public schools.

I think we ought to make it -- student loans far more affordable. And you may have noticed that one of the major universities that has this huge endowment said that anybody who comes from a family of less than $100,000 income, then, they can go to that university for free. I would like to see that, particularly with our wealthier universities, and have it filter all the way down.

We've got to try to do a lot better job in making a quality education available to all young Americans. And that means student loans that are repayable and also organizations that can do that.

Look, these are difficult times. These are difficult times, particularly in a state like Ohio that I just came from. And they're tough in Michigan.

And one of the things we really have to do that's of vital importance, and I'll end with this because it's a long subject, is there are displaced workers in America today, my friends. And these displaced workers unfortunately, and even, tragically at an early age, have lost their jobs that maybe their fathers and grandfathers had, including, particularly, in the automobile industry and Detroit.

They're not prepared to do another line of work. We have to have education and training programs that work and community colleges are the places to go to bring about training and education programs that work, and can prepare them for this new technology, so, they can come here and work. So, they can apply for a job here. Rather than say that their lives are finished, their working lives are finished. And we have to spend a lot of time on that. The present retraining programs and unemployment insurance programs were designed for the 1950s when there would be an economic downturn, someone would be out of a job, and then, the economy got better, and they went back to the same job. That's not happening. That's not happening. We've got to train and educate these people. It is a Judeo-Christian values nation and it's an obligation we have and we are not doing it.


BASH: John McCain there talking about his prescription for education, and his prescription for the economy, for fixing the economy, more specifically, for helping people get jobs back. For him, you heard that argument there, it is one and the same.

That's the leading Republican's argument on education and the economy. We're going to hear from the Democrats and hear what Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are saying, specifically on the issue of education. That's right after this break.


YELLIN: Welcome back to BALLOT BOWL. Just before the break, you heard Dana Bash talking about the Republicans and their positions on education. Well, the Democrats are also taking on this issue.

One popular topic is reforming No Child Left Behind. Not a popular program among Democratic circles. It always gets a big applause line on the stump when either candidate talks about doing away with it or enacting extreme reform.

Here's Senator Hillary Clinton talking about getting rid of No Child Left Behind on the stump.


SEN. HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We've got to make sure that education remains the passport to opportunity. And, I know, that for many of you, you understand that. But we've got to give you more help so that your children get better prepared to go to school and be successful.

That's why I want more head start, more preschool programs, so that every child can enter school ready to learn. And it is why I will end the unfunded mandate known as No Child Left Behind.


CLINTON: You see, I believe -- I believe that we can't treat all of our children like they're little test takers and all of our teachers like they're big test givers. I will be a president who actually works with and listens to our educators. Works with and listens to our families and our students. And we're going to make the kind of changes in our education system that will give every child a chance to live up to his or her God-given potential. That's what it should be about. (APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: And let's make college affordable again for every student who's willing to go and work hard. I don't know about you, but everywhere I go, I hear two things. Families that can't afford to send their children to college. And students who graduate with so much debt, they don't know how they're going to afford to make a living.

So, we've got to clear away the underbrush. We're going to give more help to families. We're going on rein in those student loan companies that have been pushing all these predatory loans on our families and students.

We're going to give you the opportunity to do national service. Earn up to $10,000 a year so you can afford to go to college. And how many of you have already incurred debt? How many of you are already in debt for your education?

Well, I'll tell you what we're going to do. We're going to make you an offer. If you're willing to do a public service job, like teaching or nursing or law enforcement, your debt will be forgiven.


CLINTON: You see, I think -- I think the young people of America are a good investment for our country. And I also want to make sure that all the young people who don't go to college, the people who build the buildings we live and work in, the people who do all of that hard, hard work that keeps our country and economy going, I want you to have more job training, more apprenticeship programs, because I want you to have a good job and a growing economy that will give you a middle class standard of living.


YELLIN: Senator Clinton outlining a very popular program, both she and Senator Obama talk about it, offering sort of volunteer-ship programs, opportunities to pay off your loans by giving public service time to the nation. Barack Obama is also taking on these same issues of education at a town hall meeting in Duncanville, Texas, earlier this week. He talked about closing the achievement gap in education.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We can create a school system that works for every child. I want every child in America to have the best education we have to offer, from the day that child is born to the day that child graduates from college. And, you know, we know how to do that. The problem is not that we don't know how, it's that we don't have the will.

We look at children in the inner city, we say, oh, that child doesn't look like me. That's not my problem. We look at the child in the barrio in south Texas, we say, well, that child, their parents are immigrants. We don't care about that child. We look at some child in some poor district in east Texas and we say, well, you know, that's not our problem.

Well, let me tell you something. Every child is our child. Every child is our problem. Every child is our responsibility. We've got to invest in their future.


OBAMA: And so, I'm going to invest in early childhood education. To close the achievement gap so every child can learn and is ready when they start school. 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 the highest standards. I want the highest standards for our kids because our children are going to have to compete in the international economy. So, they've got to have high standards, especially in math and science where we're lagging behind. But, I don't want those high standards measured just by a single standardized test because I don't want our teachers teaching to the test, I want our teachers teaching art and music and science and literature and poetry and all the things that make an education well-rounded.


OBAMA: And I want to make college affordable for every young person. So, we are going to provide a $4,000 tuition credit for every student, everybody every year. But students are going to have to give something back in return. So, you are going to have to provide community service. You're going to have to work in a homeless shelter for a few hours a week or work in a veterans home or join the Peace Corps.

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


YELLIN: Barack Obama trumpeting volunteer-ship there. And also, emphasizing how he will fight to close the achievement gap in education. He's speaking outside of Dallas, in a town called Duncanville earlier last week.

Well, we are doing a lot to try to cover this election. We're going to show you a little glimpse of how we do it. We'll take you behind the scenes at CNN's Election Express on the other side of this break.


BASH: Welcome back to this special prime time edition of CNN's BALLOT BOWL '08. If you've been watching our political coverage, you've been watching Ali Velshi. He has been traveling the country in the CNN Election Express bus, taking a look and taking the pulse of what voters and Americans are thinking and feeling about the economy right now. A really dominant issue on the campaign trail. On BALLOT BOWL, we've been taking you behind the scenes and really taking in an unfiltered way to hear the candidates on the campaign trail. Well, we're going to give you an unfiltered look now at Ali Velshi as he has been traveling on that bus.


ALI VELSHI, CNN SR. BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: I'm Ali Velshi in Bandera, Texas and I'm bullish on America. I won't steer you wrong and that's no bull.


BASH: CNN politics gone wild. That's what that was right there. Well, after the break we are going to give you a lot more of BALLOT BOWL and we're actually going to give you the lighter side of the candidates. You want to stick around for that.

Stay with us.


YELLIN: Welcome back to BALLOT BOWL. I'm Jessica Yellin in Houston, Texas. We are just days away from the next showdown and we will be covering the primaries on Tuesday, March 4th, from Ohio, here in the state of Texas, Rhode Island, and Vermont. It all starts live at 7:00 p.m. Eastern time from CNN's Election Center. And you can bet you will be also getting nonstop coverage from here straight through then of all the developments along the way.

The latest development tonight, well, Senator Clinton made a surprise appearance on "Saturday Night Live." She sat behind a desk giving an editorial analysis of the MSNBC debate that happened last week and a lot of joking about alleged press bias about Senator Clinton. But she did it all with a smile and wouldn't you know it, Amy Pollard came out wearing a pantsuit in the identical color to Clinton's. She's made a lot of jokes herself about her pantsuits these days.

And we're going to take this as an opportunity to show you some of the highlights of the other candidates who've also appeared on "SNL". Let's watch.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, great Obama mask.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, well. Who is that under there?


SETH MEYERS, HOST: Governor Mike Huckabee, everyone.



MEYERS: No, thank you so much for stopping by.

HUCKABEE: Well, thank you. Great to be here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was great having you.

HUCKABEE: It was just great being here, too.

MEYERS: Governor Mike Huckabee, everyone. Governor Huckabee? I think we're done now, sir.

HUCKABEE: Oh, right. You know, normally I pick up on those things, sorry.

MEYERS: Governor Mike Huckabee, everybody!

MCCAIN (singing): Soft as an easy chair, love fresh as the morning air.

ANNOUNCER: Senator John McCain sings some of the most beautiful songs ever written.


YELLIN: Funny. Well, it's the candidates having a good time at their own expense in a lot of instances. And we'll look forward to checking out the Hillary Clinton video, no doubt, later on this weekend.

But campaigning, as President George Bush might say, is work, hard work, in addition to having those fun moments. They have been stumping hard, the candidates, all across the state of Texas, Ohio. This weekend also in Rhode Island and we have been covering it all as the Democrats in particular compete aggressively down to the wire for this last primary, this next primary on Tuesday, March 4th, which Senator Clinton is definitely insisting will not be her last, hoping that she does very, very well.

But both camps positioning and hoping that this gets resolved in some way, at some fashion, sooner rather than later, a lot of aggressive campaigning going on the Democratic side. And Dana, you're over in Sedona, Arizona. Well, McCain's taking the weekend off?

BASH: He's taking the weekend off, he's spending some time with some of his supporters, some of his friends who have been campaigning with him and endorse him. He actually is going to spend some time with some of the reporters who have been covering him tomorrow at his ranch. So, that should be interesting.

You know, Jessica, that clip from Senator McCain, that's several years old now. But now with the writers' strike over, SNL is clearly the place to be. I cannot imagine that John McCain is not going to make a stop there just like pretty much everybody else has, over the next couple of weeks. And we'll see if that happens. But that was definitely a classic there, John McCain singing Barbara Streisand's singing "Memories."

But Jessica, I want to ask you about the Democrats in particular. You've been covering them, obviously, day in and day out, from before the sun comes up until way after the sun comes down. The Republican side, it's going to be interesting to see Tuesday how John McCain likely, we'll see what happens, but likely will become mathematically finally the Republican nominee. But just in watching these Democrats, as they've been really going at it, especially on the issue of national security, what are you hearing behind the scenes from their aides about particularly, I should ask about Senator Clinton, just about the tension that they feel leading up to Tuesday's primaries?

YELLIN: Well, look, we keep saying they're all high-stakes primaries. But this one, of course, we're saying it again, really is. I mean, it was no lesser or light than President Bill Clinton himself who had said, she must win Texas and Ohio, for Senator Clinton to stay in this race.

Now, that's not quite the line you're hearing her aides used anymore as this gets down to the wire. They're trying to change expectations a bit by saying, look, the onus is on Barack Obama. If he loses either of those states or doesn't win by a hefty margin, you've got to ask yourself, in their words, why they can't close the deal. But there is enormous pressure on all sides.

And I guess, Dana, we're going to have to say goodnight for tonight. That's BALLOT BOWL for today. But you know, we're going to have a lot more of it tomorrow.

So, I'm Jessica Yellin from Houston, Texas saying, goodnight and thanks for watching.

BASH: Thanks, Jessica. And that's right. We're going to have a lot of BALLOT BOWL tomorrow, all throughout the afternoon and another prime time edition of BALLOT BOWL tomorrow tonight as we cover the candidates on the campaign trail.

But LARRY KING LIVE has a lot more of politics and that's coming up next.

Stay with us.