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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Obama and McCain Projected Winners in Vermont; McCain Projected Winner in Ohio; Citizens of Brattleboro, V.T. Approve Resolution to Arrest Bush and Cheney
Aired March 4, 2008 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: In short, this is going to be an exciting night for all of us here at the CNN Election Center.
And CNN now with the polls closing in Vermont, can project two winners. John McCain, the winner on the Republican side. Barack Obama the winner in Vermont on the Democratic side.
Tonight, remember, 370 total Democratic delegates are at stake, 256 GOP delegates are at stake. In Vermont, there are 15 delegates at stake today, 8 of those are super delegates. It's a proportionate, proportionate distribution depending on how the actual vote comes out.
But based on the exit poll results that we now have here at CNN, we project that Barack Obama, as expected, will carry Vermont. He was doing much better in all of the polls going into this race in Vermont.
On the Republican side right now, no great surprise either. John McCain carries Vermont. This is a winner-take-all state on the Republican side unlike the Democrats which is proportionate. There are 17 delegates at stake today in Vermont.
All of those 17 delegates will go to John McCain. He is hoping to do very, very well tonight and try to wrap this thing up once and for all, knock Mike Huckabee out of the contest. We'll see if he's able to do that in the course of tonight.
But this is an important win for John McCain, an important win for Barack Obama in Vermont. We're going to wait to see what happens now in Ohio, where the polls will be closing in less than a half an hour.
We have correspondents throughout all of these states, all of these states, watching this. Candy Crowley's at Clinton headquarters. Jessica Yellin is at Obama headquarters. Dana Bash is following McCain at McCain headquarters, and Mary Snow is with Mike Huckabee over at the Huckabee headquarters.
We have other reporters watching specific parts of this story, Suzanne Malveaux in Austin, Texas, Ted Rowlands is in Dallas. Jim Acosta is in a caucus -- excuse me, he's at Shaker Heights, Ohio, and our own Ali Velshi is in Bandera, Texas.
I want to point out that both Suzanne and Ted Rowlands are watching the caucuses as they unfold in Texas. Part of this complicated two-pronged process in Texas. A third of the delegates in Texas will be determined later in the night, in these formal caucuses. Two-thirds will be determined in the actual primary, and the polls close in Texas at 9:00 p.m. Eastern.
All of the state polls close at 9:00 p.m. Eastern, so we'll watch what's going on. Just want to recap, though, in Vermont, the first state to close, so far today we have projected the two winners being Barack Obama on the Democratic side, John McCain on the Republican side.
And take a look at this. You can see 27 minutes from now, Ohio, Ohio, will close. And as important as Vermont is, we certainly don't want to belittle the voters in Vermont where there was a significant turnout.
Much more important what's going to happen in Ohio tonight and later in the night in Texas. Ohio, a state that Hillary Clinton desperately, desperately needs to win. If she can manage to win in Ohio, that will reverse a lot of the momentum that has happened since Super Tuesday, and it will be an important win for Hillary Clinton if she manages to win in Ohio.
We'll see how she does there. We'll see how she also does in Texas and Rhode Island. Remember, Texas and Rhode Island, those polls don't close until 9:00 p.m. Eastern.
Bill Schneider has been going through all of these numbers together with Soledad O'Brien. We're going to be checking back with them momentarily to see what results are of these exit polls. These are the polls of actual voters who showed up in these four states today. We spoke to them as they emerged from the balloting, and we're getting a wealth of information in the minds of these voters about what's going on right now.
I want to check in with Lou Dobbs. He's watching all of this right now with the best political team on television.
Chalk up another win for John McCain and for Barack Obama at least in this very early stage of this night, Lou.
LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: And three more contests to go tonight. And also an unexpected result I think we can safely say in Vermont as you projected those winners as the polls have closed there just about a half hour, a little less than a half hour, before the polls closed in Ohio.
And the real fun begins again, as my colleague Wolf Blitzer says, with absolutely no sense of pejorative whatsoever for the fine folks of Vermont. There are just a whole bunch more folks sitting in Ohio and Texas tonight who are going to have quite an impact on this race no matter what their respective candidates have to say.
To help us analyze what's happening tonight, to give us perspective, to give us keen insight into what is happening tonight, I'd like to introduce our colleagues here who will be bringing us the very finest in analysis and pithy -- pithy glimpses of the truth as it unfolds here on this Super Tuesday in March starting with Donna Brazile.
Donna, great to have you with us. Jeff Toobin, Gloria Borger, thank you very much.
And if I may turn to the table back here, Jamal Simmons, great to see you and Paul Begala and Alex Castellanos, good to have you with us as always Bill Bennett, thank you very much.
And way over here, I don't know if you can keep up with me, I decided to make some peculiar turns here as is my wont, and I apologize for that. Leslie Sanchez, Carl Bernstein. And who is that? Is that Roland Martin, my good friend...
ROLAND MARTIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: That's right. Texas night, Lou.
DOBBS: Yes, sir --
MARTIN: That's right.
DOBBS: He didn't bring his Texas shirt with him tonight though.
MARTIN: But I got my Texas A&M pin on, so you know.
DOBBS: All right, it counts.
DOBBS: And I've stayed with my American flag Roland, we'll talk later.
DOBBS: I want to turn first to Gloria Borger and just say, no surprise in Vermont. At the same time Rhode Island, Texas, and Ohio, all of us waiting to see whether the Clinton candidacy is in emergence.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: But let's talk about Vermont for a second.
BORGER: Let's talk about Vermont for a second. As you were saying before small state, much smaller than Texas and Ohio. But because it looks like Barack Obama could win there by a significant margin, he could actually win more delegates out of the tiny state of Vermont than either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama could win out of Texas and Ohio if those states are very close, because this is done by proportional representation in terms of delegates. So, Vermont could turn out to be a pretty important state.
DOBBS: Well I know at least two people in Vermont, my friends Jeb Spaulding, the Treasurer of the State of Vermont, and Susan Spaulding, supporting Obama's candidacy. They are thrilled with what you just had to say. Do you concur?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: That's a good chunk of the state right there.
BORGER: That's the math. That's the math scenario.
DOBBS: That's incredible. Your thoughts?
TOOBIN: Well, I mean the great thing about tonight is that it's all up to the voters. This isn't about expectations. This isn't about predictions. This is simply who's going to win. And, you know, this whole thing could be over tonight or --
DOBBS: You are saying there will be no spin, no interpretation, no management of expectations.
DONNA BRAZILE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Didn't say that.
DOBBS: Donna Brazile, do you believe that?
BRAZILE: No, absolutely not. This is about the math. It's about accumulating delegates, 2,025. Senator Obama tonight wants to capture as many delegates. Senator Clinton would like to regain her momentum in this race.
Obama has won 11 consecutive races. Tonight Senator Clinton will claim a victory if she wins one or two of the big states, but if not, she'll still go on to compete for another day.
TOOBIN: Twelve, 12 with Vermont.
BRAZILE: Well, that's correct, 12 victories.
DOBBS: We're going to -- Gloria, we're going to be right back to you. Well I'm lying through my teeth, we're not going to be right back to you. But we will ultimately be back to you.
DOBBS: And it's my job here to represent the interests of every one seated at these tables and I assure you ladies and gentlemen I will represent your best interests at the night proceeds, but right now we're going to turn to my colleague Wolf Blitzer -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Lou has a tough job ahead of him. Lou, thanks very much.
We're going to get back to you shortly. Remember the polls will be closing in, what, about 21 minutes or so in Ohio. We're going to watch that state very closely.
But I want to watch a little bit more closely right now Vermont, and Soledad O'Brien and Bill Schneider, you've been studying the exit polls in Vermont, and I want to know what we're learning -- Soledad? SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, I think the big question is, OK, why did Barack Obama win Vermont. And when you take a look at first and foremost white voters, which is pretty much the electorate in Vermont, that's a pretty good clue as to why he won.
Let's start there, Bill.
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: OK, white voters, Vermont is a very white state. That's your cue. How white is it?
O'BRIEN: How white is it, Bill?
SCHNEIDER: It's about 95 percent white and those are just the Democrats and how did white voters vote? Sixty-two percent for Barack Obama, the African-American candidate, so the argument he doesn't win white votes disproved by Vermont whites.
O'BRIEN: How about a gender gap? We've seen that before. What did you see this time around in Vermont?
SCHNEIDER: Not much of a gender gap in Vermont. Men and women both voted for Barack Obama. Here's the men's votes, two-thirds of men voted for Barack Obama who is, of course, a man.
But what about women, they usually vote for Hillary Clinton. In Vermont, however, women voted for Barack Obama, 57-41, so there was a little bit of a gender gap. But both men and women voted the same way.
O'BRIEN: Was there an area in which Hillary Clinton did better?
SCHNEIDER: She does generally better among seniors. How did she do among seniors in Vermont? Better than the rest of the state, but seniors still voted for Barack Obama, 61 percent, 38 percent for Hillary Clinton. So, a little bit better among seniors but not even close.
O'BRIEN: Vermont has a reputation as a very liberal state. In fact the war was as important as the economy. That's different than what we've seen in other states.
SCHNEIDER: We haven't seen this anywhere. In every state, state every state Republicans, Democrats the economy is the big issue. In Vermont, it was tied with the war in Iraq and among those voters who said their top issue was Iraq that was Obama's big issue.
Nearly three-quarters of Vermont Democrats who said their top concern was the war in Iraq -- look at that -- they voted about 3-1 for Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton. The war in Iraq clearly paid off as an issue for Barack Obama in Vermont.
O'BRIEN: When you see a look at all, Wolf, those bar graphs, it's pretty clear why Barack Obama was able to take the state of Vermont -- Wolf? BLITZER: All right, guys, we're going to be coming back to you. We're going to be studying all these numbers as the night goes on. Only about 19 minutes until the next poll closing in Ohio, we're going to stand by and see what's happening in that really important state. It's a must-win for Hillary Clinton. We're getting a sense of what's going on there.
In fact, we'll take a quick break and when we come back, John King is watching all of this very closely. We'll go to John and see what's in store for Ohio. Remember, Bill Schneider is going to be having running commentary at CNNPolitics.com and that's a place where you should be going as well.
CNNPolitics.com, county by county, state by state, you'll get all the results, the exit poll numbers. And you can see this election unfold. Here's a great idea. Watch us, have a laptop with you at the same time if you want some more specific, precise information.
We'll take a quick break, much more from the CNN Election Center coming up right after this.
BLITZER: Only 15 minutes away from the next poll closings in the state of Ohio, a must-win state for Hillary Clinton.
We're watching all of this very closely with our chief national correspondent John King. He's taking a close look at the state, which is a state that has a lot of cities, but there are only a few counties that have the bulk of the population.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, most of the population located in Cleveland, in Columbus, down in Cincinnati, to a lesser degree up in Toledo and over here in the Akron and Youngstown area. And Wolf, as we watch this tonight this is a laboratory for debate that we will have between now and November. Obviously the key question tonight is the Democratic contest between Clinton and Obama but in terms of the economy and how this goes forward, this is a state to watch.
No Republican has ever won the White House without winning Ohio and Ohio has picked the winner since 1964. So as the polls close, here's what we want to look for. First we're going to look up here in the Cleveland area. The city of Cleveland is where Barack Obama must run up the numbers. He must post not only a high percentage of African-American votes but he has to hope the turnout is high to run up the numbers there to get his edge.
Because Senator Clinton is expected to do well and it will be a key test for her out here in the suburbs, which are a good population base out here in the suburbs of Cleveland, she has targeted the suburban vote. Critical for both of them as we watch the results come in and as you were talking with Chad Myers earlier, that's a place where weather could be an issue. So we want to look at that.
Then you come over here to the more greedy places like Akron, lunch bucket, blue collar Democrats. Industrial jobs have been lost. These people are hurting. The NAFTA and the trade debate, who can get new jobs in fastest key among the Democrats. Over here in Youngstown, a fascinating debate here. Is it a racially split community, both Obama and Clinton have focused on this community very, very much a struggling community.
Closed auto factories in here, but watch the vote come in here, again, as we watch the economy. And then some other key things to watch for Obama he needs to run up some numbers down here in the Columbus area and down in the Cincinnati area, again, places where he can get large pockets of African-American votes and run those up.
This is a Republican area come November but it could be a critical area tonight and it is a place where the Obama campaign worked aggressively, Wolf, on early voting in the African-American communities. And then we've talked about this in the past in some states if this is close going into the night, this could actually be the most critical area of the state.
And not many people live here, down along the river. These are mostly rural communities. But this is your working-class white vote. And you have a woman candidate, an African-American man candidate and the key to Ohio, if it is close, is likely to be working-class white men. This is Governor Ted Strickland's home base.
He has endorsed Senator Clinton. She spent a lot of time down here in the final days and weeks of the Ohio campaign focusing on these small communities, again, not a lot of votes here. But if they are trading votes in the big cities and the suburbs and they're evenly matched in the population areas, then we will go into rural Ohio down here along the river into a lesser degree up here south and west of Toledo.
This should be more Obama country. You're heading closer to his home base, but down here, Wolf, this rural vote, what you might have called the Edwards vote, white men, this is where we'll look for it.
BLITZER: If Hillary Clinton manages to win Ohio, if she's going to stay in this race, she has to win this state tonight, she'll make the case that you can't be elected as a Democrat without carrying Ohio. You really need Ohio.
This is one of those swing states and if Barack Obama couldn't beat her in Ohio, this should give her an advantage especially in appealing to those nearly 800 super delegates as they're called. Does she have a point when she makes that argument if she, in fact, wins Ohio?
KING: If she can stop his momentum period, she has a point to make. That means she can carry on the race because she can slow his momentum and yes, she can use Ohio as a key example that this is a state the Democrats need to win.
Her husband is the last Democrat to win it in 1996. She will make the case that a Democrat who can win Ohio can win the White House, can block the Republicans from winning the White House and the Democrat who wins Ohio in a highly competitive primary has the upper hand at least for the moment in the debate about the economy.
If nothing else, Wolf, if she wins Ohio, she will have full confidence to move on to Pennsylvania which is right over here, the state right next door, where you have very much the same economic debate in Pennsylvania. So, if she wins Ohio tonight, her husband said she needs to win Ohio and Texas, if she wins Ohio tonight, you can bet your money on it now, she's going on to Pennsylvania.
BLITZER: And we're just getting this word in that they've just extended the polls in Sandusky and is it Cleveland as well? Just in Sandusky because of the bad weather until Sandusky County until 9:00 p.m. Eastern, which means that the -- they're going to continue voting in Ohio.
We saw that earlier in this season in Maryland where they kept the polls open because of bad weather. They want to give the voters an opportunity to come out and vote. So, this is potentially an opportunity for some of those candidates to get some more votes.
KING: And based on what Chad said earlier, the worst of the weather seems to be right up here in this part of the state where you do have lake effect as well in the bad climate (INAUDIBLE). We'll track that more and obviously Chad might be able to help us out.
But this is where you had the worst weather in the state up in this area here, and a lot of people live up here, once you get outside of the Cleveland area, fewer people, but, Wolf, the polls show this to be very close. I think we're going to be counting late into the night.
BLITZER: All right, we'll watch very closely. John, don't leave. We're going to be learning a lot about this state, about Texas and we're going to be learning about Rhode Island. We've already got the results in Vermont.
Remember, here's what you need to do, CNNPolitics.com. You can do what John King has just been go doing. You can take a close look county by county and state by state and get a wealth of information, CNNPolitics.com. We're about 10 minutes or so away from the polls, at least most of the polls, almost all of the polls closing in Ohio. Sandusky apparently keeping their polls open until 9:00 p.m. Eastern. We're watching this very closely.
We'll take a quick break, more of our coverage from the CNN Election Center right after this.
DOBBS: About six-and-a-half minutes before the polls close in Ohio. Of course, the polls have closed in Vermont, and CNN, in fact, has projected Senator John McCain the winner of the Republican primary there and Senator Barack Obama the winner in Vermont on the Democratic primary.
Looking now ahead to Ohio, we're going to have all of the results coming in apparently except for Sandusky because of bad weather there. Leslie, let me start with you, the contest in Ohio is that a must-win in your judgment for Senator Clinton?
LESLIE SANCHEZ, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Absolutely. I think that's why you're seeing that she's going to remain there until she actually gets the results and decided to part. I think that's very telling. I mean in most cases she's left the state prior to the results coming in.
I think she's feeling very positive. The economy has been a critical issue from 2000, 2004. It was a very tight race for President Bush to win. And the economy, again, especially with NAFTA and the perceived loss of jobs is going to be critical. I think she's really capitalizing on that.
DOBBS: Carl, your thoughts?
CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: The big story tonight is negative campaigning. The Clinton campaign knew that they had nowhere to go but negative or they were going to get cleared off the table. And it apparently is working if she's able to eke out a win in Ohio.
There's also a big argument going on in the campaign with Bill Clinton, because he set the bar too high by saying, Hillary, you got to win both states and she's saying, look, I win Ohio, I'm going to lose -- I'm going to drop out? No way. But this whole question of negative campaigning is really, that's how they see themselves...
DOBBS: What type of negative campaigning are you referring to?
BERNSTEIN: ... throwing the kitchen sink as they put it, raising the Rezko question from somebody who had Whitewater herself to deal with without knowing what...
DOBBS: She can appreciate the --
BERNSTEIN: ... what is involved in Rezko. The whole idea of the red phone ad and saying that John McCain is really better prepared to be president perhaps than Barack Obama, it's a very negative, nasty campaign. And as someone in the Clinton campaign said to me today, it's not edifying, but it's necessary.
DOBBS: Do you concur, Roland Martin that this has turned really negative and that's the primary story?
MARTIN: This is not really negative when you compare what happens in a general campaign, but obviously the tone is far different from what we've seen thus far.
MARTIN: If you study her numbers, part of the problem is that in many ways she has achieved a sealing of her numbers. And so she really has not really been bringing new voters in. Her focus has been low to middle income voters, older voters, so she had to frankly go negative against Obama. I think the real key when it comes to Ohio is that these are her core voters. They are low to middle income. They are blue collar. They go to people who she has focused on. There is no way in the world she can frankly move forward if she loses Ohio because frankly this is her base. This is her base. It is pure and simple.
SANCHEZ: I do think at the end of the night if it does continue to turn, you know, and the tide turning being in the momentum for Hillary Clinton, it will be this trifecta effect. I think it will be the NAFTA issue where Barack has to justify, he sounded duplicitous on his position.
It will be the Rezko case and I think it will also be the issue of the 3:00 a.m. ad. If all of those things go together did not bode well for establishing who Barack Obama is and does he have the trustworthiness to be president.
BERNSTEIN: And making the press the enemy, very effective. And it's worked. And the "Saturday Night Live" thing has worked by as Hillary Clinton has said to her aides, shaming the press into taking a harder look at Obama. She believes she succeeded at that.
MARTIN: And we know the press will bite every time because frankly many folks don't want to be in a position to say oh, my God, no. It's like liberals versus conservatives.
Conservatives say it you're too liberal. He says OK, let's prove we're not liberal, so let's hire as many people as we can who are conservative, then they say you know what, you're still conservative. We'll fall for it every single time.
DOBBS: I'm going to move away from this table, because you're just too tough on the press.
DOBBS: I mean we can't have that.
Jamal Simmons, let me ask you this. Do you think that's what's happening to Senator Obama in Ohio, that the Clinton campaign has gone negative? That NAFTA gate as the Clinton campaign is calling it, is playing a corrosive role in Senator Obama's fortunes in that state?
JAMAL SIMMONS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Yes, I think of all the things that were just mentioned a second ago, the one that is troubling is the NAFTA one, not because necessarily his stats or his adviser may have had a meeting where someone misinterpreted what he said, the problem is that Senator Obama and the staff came out and said after that, well, these things didn't happen and the memo showed up, so it goes to the credibility issue.
That's the thing that's troubling. I think in the days after this, they're going to have to recover from that pretty well. The one thing we have seen from the Obama campaign is when they get hit with these attacks, at the end of a campaign, they take a little hard, but once they level out, they do the recovery very well in the week after. So I think that he'll recover from this fine after this weekend.
DOBBS: Your thoughts, Paul Begala...
PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL STRATEGIST: Yes.
DOBBS: ... as we near the protection for the next primary election to close, voting to close in Ohio, just less than two minutes?
BEGALA: First off, this is not a negative campaign, OK? I may sound like Lloyd Benson, but I know negative campaigns, I have run negative campaigns. You know Mr. Dully (ph) said that politics ain't beanbags. This has been beanbags for the Democrats. These are highly talented people, highly respectful of each other.
Barack draws principle contrast. He says Hillary is the past and the old and the establishment. That's fine. Hillary draws principle comparisons of her own. But the NAFTA thing, I think Jamal is right. I think Senator Obama made a critical mistake first off of allowing some Harvard economist to go yak with the Canadians while he's running against NAFTA at all.
And then second he gave a definitive statement. He took a firm step in thin air. Now I don't think he was intentionally lying. I don't. I think that he didn't fully appreciated how many hundreds of people he has got to lead and command now and I think from now on, I think Jamal is right. He will adjust now and be a lot less definitive when he is asked to defend every goof ball Harvard economist advising him.
DOBBS: You are awfully tough on Harvard.
BEGALA: You and Toobin...
DOBBS: (INAUDIBLE) ... County High School, too.
ALEX CASTELLANOS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: This may not be a negative campaign, but this is the beginning of a negative campaign certainly. I think Hillary if she's done nothing else has pulled a thread out of the Obama sweater. Now for the first time we're in the "let's test Obama" phase of this campaign. Can he take the heat as a front-runner?
DOBBS: Well, and that is the question. And, Bill Bennett, I would turn to you with absolute enthusiasm, but CNN is about to render yet another projection, this in the state of Ohio, in the Republican race, the CNN projection. BLITZER: CNN can now project with the polls closing in Ohio that John McCain will carry Ohio. John McCain the Republican presidential nominee, will win based on the exit polls that we're getting out of Ohio.
On the Democratic side, we see a competitive, a competitive, race unfolding between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. We cannot make any projection on the Democratic side. Only saying it is competitive right now.
But you can -- you can score another win for John McCain in Ohio right now. Eighty-five delegates on the Republican side are at stake in Ohio. Three of those are superdelegates. It's what they call a modified winner take all. It's not necessarily a winner take all as he managed to do in Vermont. It's modified in a complicated procedure involving congressional districts and statewide districts as well.
So, he's not going to get all of those as opposed to Mike Huckabee, but he's going to do very, very well in Ohio and wrap up another big win for John McCain. He's inching closer and closer to that magic number.
Let's go to Dana Bash. She's over at McCain headquarters watching all of this unfold. They've got the magic number ready to unfurl, Dana, as soon as he reaches it if, in fact, he manages to do so tonight.
DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Unfurl is the perfect word to use for that, Wolf, because check out the sign behind me. You can't see it because it's covered. There's a sign that's covered by that blue cape there. What it says underneath is "1,191." We got a sneak preview because we've been here for a while; we've got tape of it as they prepared the sign.
We've talked over the past couple of months or so of John McCain being superstitious. Clearly his confidence at this point has eclipsed his superstition. They are clearly ready for a celebration, they are ready to unfurl that to show that he is, that he has reached that number, that magic number, 1,191, which is the number of delegates he needs, hopes to get tonight that he needs in order to officially mathematically be the Republican nominee.
Not just that, Wolf, we see the balloons on the ceiling. There is a confetti machine right next to me and we saw some McCain aides walking around here already with brand new jackets called the Road to Minneapolis 2008. So, they are definitely ready for a celebration here.
What we're going to hear from John McCain tonight is going to be very, very interesting. Because they are preparing, you know, we've sort of seen him take steps along the way at every one of these victories. Not at first he was afraid to call himself the nominee. The last time he had a victory he called himself the presumptive nominee.
Tonight, we expect him to give a very different kind of speech, a speech essentially an acceptance speech and talking about the kind of nominee he wants to be, the kind of campaign he wants to run, really, really looking ahead to the fall campaign here. Already preparing to do that as we speak. They're writing the speech as we speak, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, very quickly, you mentioned earlier that if McCain does reach that magic number 1,191, he wraps up the Republican presidential nomination. And you suggest that he then sort of becomes the leader of the Republican Party as a result of his being the Republican presidential nominee. Explain what people are saying to you about that from the McCain camp.
BASH: What they are saying is that right now he is a candidate. He is just a candidate, one of essentially in terms of the structure here, one of what had been many candidates. But once he becomes the nominee, what they have there is the world open to them in terms of the Republican apparatus, the national Republican apparatus, which is a huge thing for the McCain campaign, especially because they are still very behind in terms of fund-raising.
So, what that means is that they are going to have maybe even as soon as tomorrow an announcement from the Republican National Committee that they are very much behind John McCain, they consider him their nominee.
That means that the Republicans, the GOP database, which they have been building for years and years, which for a long time had been in storage, something that the Democrats were very jealous of, they are going to be able to use that in order to figure out tactically how to structure the fall campaign; what states to go to, within what states, what counties to go to, what kinds of voters work and don't work to target for the type of candidate that John McCain will be.
Not just that, it's also the money. They will have access to the money list that the RNC has. That will be a big, big deal for the McCain campaign because until now they have really been limited to their small band of advisors. It will change dramatically they hope once mathematically he becomes the nominee. The banner tonight, they are very much expecting that to happen.
BLITZER: One thousand, one hundred and ninety-one delegates. Dana, stand by, we'll be back to you.
And remember, go to CNNpolitics.com. You can monitor the race as it comes in. McCain now two for two. We've projected he will win in Vermont. We've project he will win in Ohio over Mike Huckabee.
On the Democratic side, Barack Obama we've projected will win in Vermont, but it's competitive in Ohio. We cannot make any projection on the Democratic side right now. We're going to see the actual numbers come in addition to the exit poll numbers that we've been collecting in the course of this day. But go ahead to CNNpolitics.com. You get a lot more information.
We'll take a quick break. Much more of our coverage from the CNN Election Center right after this.
BLITZER: The polls have closed in Ohio. It's a competitive race based on the exit poll numbers that we're getting between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. We have not been able to project a win in Ohio, but it's fair to say this is a must-win for Hillary Clinton if she wants to continue on with this contest.
We have projected that John McCain beats Mike Huckabee in Ohio. This is the second win for him tonight. Earlier, he captured Vermont, as did Barack Obama.
Let's go back to Soledad and Bill, who are continuing to study these exit polls.
Give us the latest. What are we coming up with, Soledad?
O'BRIEN: Well, we wanted to really see why exactly is it that this race is so tight. It comes down, I think it's fair to say, to the economy as an issue. So we took a closer look at the Democrats between the voters who attended college and the voters who did not. How did that come out?
SCHNEIDER: Well, it's a class split in Ohio as it is elsewhere. The Democratic voters who attended college voted for Barack Obama 53 percent to 46 percent. So clearly these are the more upscale Democrats, white-collar Democrats they voted for Barack Obama.
Take a look at the Democratic voters who did not go to college and these are your blue-collar voters in Ohio. And here Hillary Clinton clearly dominates.
The blue-collar vote she was setting out to get Youngstown and Dayton, industrial workers went very heavily for Hillary Clinton -- 62 percent. So, clearly, it was those voters who gave her a fighting chance to come back in Ohio.
O'BRIEN: Unions also big issue when you're talking about Ohio, of course, large number of union households in Ohio. How did that split work out?
SCHNEIDER: Well, take a look at the nonunion voters first of all. Among nonunion household voters in Ohio, it's a tie. It's virtually even. Clinton, 50 percent. Obama, 49 percent. That's two- thirds of Ohio voters. Among the one-third of Ohio voters where there was a union member in the household, Clinton dominated the category. It was Clinton 54 percent, Obama, 45 percent.
Notice, these are union voters. Several important unions in Ohio, the Teamsters, the service workers, the food and commercial workers were all working for Barack Obama. But you know what, union voters don't always vote the way union leaders tell them to.
O'BRIEN: We've seen that before, haven't we?
SCHNEIDER: Yes, we have.
O'BRIEN: There is a smallish portion of voters who said they were not worried about their own personal financial situation.
O'BRIEN: How did they vote versus those who were asked in the exit polls and said, yes, I am worried about my own personal financial situation?
SCHNEIDER: Well, Ohioans, the economy was a very big issue. Only about 20 percent said they weren't worried about their financials. If they really weren't worried they voted about evenly for Clinton and Obama.
But the nearly 80 percent Ohio Democrats who said they were worried about their personal financial situation, that's where Hillary Clinton has an edge. Not overwhelming. But she leads Barack Obama 52 percent to 47 percent. Which suggests that if she wins Ohio, it will be because of the economic issue and financial insecurity that put her over the top.
O'BRIEN: But you can see the pie charts why it's so close at this point, Wolf.
BLITZER: And going back to what you reported earlier, Bill and Soledad, when it comes to African-American voters, there's a decisive advantage for Barack Obama, but when it comes to Latino voters and we'll be talking a lot bar about this later when we're taking a close look at Texas, there's a decisive advantage for Hillary Clinton.
SCHNEIDER: Yes, that's right. That's true in Texas, and, yes, it is true in every state that we've looked at so far, exactly. But Hillary Clinton doesn't do as well among African-Americans as Barack Obama does among Latinos. He gets about a third their vote.
BLITZER: But in Texas there are a lot more Latinos than African- Americans, so that might balance out. We'll see how that unfolds. All right, guys, stand by. Continue crunching the numbers for us.
I want to go back to Lou who has the best political team on television to talk to -- Lou.
DOBBS: Absolutely, of course, Wolf. Thank you.
And of course as we are want to do, slicing and dicing all the demographic groups and all elements of groups and identity politics which is overwhelmed in my opinion sometimes good judgment and good sense and good insight.
Let me turn to Bill Bennett and ask you, what it seems to me is the emergence of the economy as an issue, not only for Democrats but also for Republicans. And we have a free-trader in the name of John McCain. We have two candidates in the names of Senators Obama and Clinton who are now talking about a war on the middle-class, talking about working men and women in this country.
In the general election, which will have the greater appeal you think? BILL BENNETT, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Where did they get that line war in the middle-class, professor? By the way, is there another panel back here somewhere?
DOBBS: We're about to assemble one.
BENNETT: I think we're in violation of New York state teacher/student ratios here. We've got 26.
DOBBS: That's all right but as the student I am delighted to be so attended.
BENNETT: Sure, it's a big deal. But note the asterisk. I'm just kind of open-mouthed here about Hillary Clinton's attacks on NAFTA with all that experience in the white house. And who was the president, you know, who was behind that?
DOBBS: Let me ask you this, Bill Bennett, are you also sort of gasping that a candidate would be acknowledging that empiricism has overwhelmed initial good intentions and the facts have to be judged and they are found wanting?
BENNETT: Absolutely judge the facts. But let's look closely at the unemployment facts in Ohio and how many jobs were lost because of NAFTA, and I think this is a highly debatable proposition. We can to it at another time.
DOBBS: I would prefer it.
BENNETT: Sure. No purity here. You have the confusion with Obama with the professor that Paul was talking about. You've got NAFTA with Bill Clinton. So, it's an interesting set of charges and countercharges. Can I say one thing about the Republican race?
DOBBS: That's the great thing about America. You may.
BENNETT: Because one of the things I'm hearing and I heard predicted and it will be interesting to see how the numbers turn out is that there are a fair number of Republicans voting in this Texas primary.
Now, dreaded talk radio, you remember dreaded conservative talk radio, was pushing to get a lot of Republicans to vote for Hillary Clinton. And I don't know if it's having this effect or not. But supposing it's a close race in Texas, and supposing it's one in ten votes that are Republicans voting for Hillary, because the argument here is keep this thing --
DOBBS: You realize you're overwhelming us with supposition.
BENNETT: Well, we can't do anything until the polls close. Everything is -- it's all -- nothing's happened yet. We're not allowed to speak of facts, only hypotheticals.
DOBBS: Arguable suppositions.
BENNETT: Arguable suppositions. I'm a philosopher; I do it all the time.
DOBBS: Why not?
BENNETT: It will be an interesting fact if it turns out to be true. The thing I'm looking at and I'm wondering, not to be personal about this, but she looks to be better, doing better with Bill Clinton gone. You know Shakespeare says he's good being gone.
DOBBS: You've never forgiven Bill Clinton, have you?
BENNETT: No, I haven't. No, I haven't. The question is why did she? But that's another question.
DOBBS: The philosopher is taking an amazing turn.
BENNETT: She does better on her own. Isn't that interesting? She's doing much better on her own.
DOBBS: Well, we'll see how much better tonight and if it is better enough if I can make that construction.
Alex, the idea, the idea, that the economy is emerging as a dominant issue, the philosopher managed to dodge my question. Which do you think is better positioned for a general election amongst the two Democrats and the presumptive Republican nominee, if all goes as expected this evening for John McCain?
CASTELLANOS: If on the Democratic side, if you look at it, I'd have to say Hillary Clinton is the economy candidate, because when it comes to nuts and bolts and paychecks, I think she's a -- she's a lot more down to earth message than I think Obama has had. He's at 30,000 feet and she's all ground game. Now, McCain --
DOBBS: Will it hold with McCain?
CASTELLANOS: With McCain, I think it's a different story. It's never been Senator McCain's strength, and if he's going to move into this campaign and make the case, look, we've got to strengthen the economy to deal with a completely new frontier of challenges we've never seen before, but we can't do that with a weak economy, he's got to be the guy that says, look, I'm going to strengthen this -- I'm going to grow this economy. Barack or Hillary, they're going to grow government.
BENNETT: The polls show it's close, free-traders and attack on the middle-class as you know. The polls are pretty close.
SIMMONS: The problem with Alex's analysis, the math doesn't work. If you look at what happened over the course of the last couple of months, Barack Obama is winning.
He's won more popular votes. He's won more states. He's won more delegates. So, in fact, if she's up here, then maybe that's where the voters are, because the voters -- I mean, Barack Obama is up here, maybe that's where the voters are, because the voters with him. BEGALA: Maybe. If these economic anxieties increase and it's been a rough couple of weeks for the middle-class in the economy, maybe Hillary will do better. I was there.
Hillary was a NAFTA skeptic. Her husband supported it and I went along as did everyone on the team. There's only one president. I worked for bill Clinton. I had an obligation to endorse whatever he told me to do.
DOBBS: I don't know if that's an excuse.
BEGALA: But the first lady, she wasn't growing to publicly criticize. I remember on the campaign, I was there, she was skeptical. I won't say she was bitterly opposed but in the early 1990s, it what's an idea and many thought it was a good idea.
And now that has played out in certain ways in certain areas, many people in my party is saying let's take a second look at it. Neither Hillary or Barack are saying scrap it. They're saying mend it, don't end it as Bill Clinton once said.
DOBBS: I'm one of those that endorsed NAFTA on a very complicated -- you were talking about Harvard economists on a very complicated economic theory if the wealthiest world nation in the world is doing well, it should be our nearest neighbors. It didn't turn out that way. Now we've got to deal with another set of facts.
SIMMONS: On Paul's point, if Hillary Clinton is going to run on all the experience she got when she was in the White House, she can't take the good stuff and leave the doesn't want. She's either there or she wasn't.
BEGALA: She's been too low to say what I said. She hasn't come out and said, I was skeptical behind the scenes. I happened to have been behind the scenes so I know. David Gergen has said on our air, David Gergen was an adviser to the president. She hasn't tried to back away.
DOBBS: How about plain old organization? Who is best organized in Texas; Obama or Clinton?
BEGALA: Clinton's got the veterans and Barack has the kids. Who knows which is better?
SIMMONS: Yes, we don't know yet. I think we'll see later when we see the number about who won.
DOBBS: All right, well, this table is starting to get pretty straightforward and honest. I like it here.
We're going to come back in a matter of, well, time. I'll leave it like that, if I may, with philosopher Bill Bennett.
Going to turn to our colleague, Wolf Blitzer -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Lou. We're getting some actual numbers coming in from Vermont. I want to quickly point those out to our viewers on the Democratic side.
We projected that Barack Obama will be the winner in Vermont -- five percent of the precincts now reporting. He's at 58 percent. Hillary Clinton's 40 percent. If we zoom in, you can see this is a small state. The small number of voters there. So far five percent; 1958 for Barack Obama, 1,369 for Hillary Clinton. But Barack Obama is the winner in Vermont.
A much bigger win for McCain in Vermont right now; four percent of the precincts reporting. He's got 72 percent to Huckabee's 15 percent. Ron Paul, who is still a candidate, with 5 percent. If we take a look at the actual numbers of Republican voters in Vermont, 632 for McCain, 130 for Huckabee, 48 for Ron Paul. As I said, small numbers.
We're approaching 8:00 p.m. here on the east coast. All the polls in Texas won't close until 9:00 p.m., same goes for Rhode Island. But some of the polls will be closing in Texas at 8:00 p.m. at the top of the hour. That's about nine minutes or so from now in. So we'll start getting real numbers in from Texas. We're going to show that to you.
We'll also be standing by to speak with John King. He's got some new information on what's going on in these key states right now.
Our coverage from the CNN Election Center continues right after this.
BLITZER: We're getting some numbers coming in from Ohio right now. Very, very early in this process; less than one percent of the precincts reporting, but in Ohio, where we're projecting a competitive race between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, right now Hillary Clinton's at 60 percent to Barack Obama's 38 percent.
But if you take a look and if we zoom in on the actual numbers, you'll see how tiny these numbers. This is very, very early. So far Hillary Clinton with 1,015 votes to Barack Obama's 697. This is less than one percent of the precincts reporting. So this is very early, we're projecting a competitive race there. We'll see what happens.
On the Republican side, McCain so far with 63 percent. We've projected he's the winner to Huckabee's 27 percent. Ron Paul, 6 percent. But take a look, and you'll see how tiny these numbers are, so far 1,281 for McCain, and Huckabee, 536 and Ron Paul with 124.
We've also been telling you about Vermont. It's a very liberal state. To underscore how liberal the state is, we're going to show you something that happened in Brattleboro, Vermont. They voted on this resolution.
Listen to this. Article two shall the select board instruct the town attorney to draft indictments against President Bush and Vice President Cheney for crimes against our constitution and publish said indictments for consideration by other authorities.
And shall it be the law of the town of Brattleboro that the Brattleboro police pursue and to the above mentioned indictments, arrest and detain George Bush and Richard Cheney in Brattleboro if they are not duly impeached, and it goes on to say, and then prosecutor extradite them to other authorities that may reasonably contend to prosecute them? That was voted on as a resolution in Brattleboro, Vermont, on the primary ballot. It passed 2,012 to 1,795. It passed.
I want to check in with Jeff Toobin and get his reaction to this. Among other things, he's our legal analyst.
Jeff Toobin, you're there. What does this mean that if Dick Cheney or President Bush they show up in Brattleboro, Vermont, they could be arrested and then extradited to some other authority for crimes against the constitution?
TOOBIN: I think they ought to vacation elsewhere is really the result. No, I mean, it has no legal significance at all. It is adding to Vermont's eccentric reputation politically. But it is not a legally binding resolution of any kind. And it's just good for Vermont's reputation, or bad, depending what you -- the way you think of it.
BORGER: They're not going to eat Ben and Jerry's ice cream at the White House anytime soon.
BLITZER: I don't think Ben and Jerry's has anything to do with the Brattleboro resolution.
I want to walk over to John King, he knows Vermont very well. It's a beautiful state. We all know Ben and Jerry's in Stowe, Vermont. We know it's a liberal state. Bennie Sanders is the independent senator from Vermont. It's got a reputation for being a little, shall we say, different.
KING: And yet it has a liberal or moderate Republican governor at the moment, Jim Douglas. But, look, it's an incredibly liberal state.
But, Wolf, this footnote in history, 27 state elections from the civil war days to the 1960s, Vermont voted Republican for president. Since then it has gone Democratic. Mt. Peelier is the capital. And Brattleboro is down here. It's two percent of the state's population. I'll circle it for you.
It's the only state of the 50 states where George W. Bush has not visited as president. I guess he's unlikely to go there anytime soon and if he does, it won't be to Brattleboro.
But, look, it's become a very, very liberal state. We interviewed the governor. I did a piece that Bush has not visited Vermont, the only one of the 50 states. The governor said, come and visit, he'd love to have the president there. We are looking at the Republican map. It's a very liberal state increasingly. This is the town of Brattleboro making a political statement. We should take it for it is.
BLITZER: It's an interesting little footnote. That's what it is.
Let's talk about the delegates. Two key questions emerge. First question is can John McCain mathematically wrap it up tonight, and then the second question I want you to get to, is can any, either of the two Democrats wrap it up before the convention no matter what happens? Because the math is a little complicated side.
First the Republicans.
KING: I was good in math. And we'll get to the Democrats in a second. And you'll see it is incredibly complicated so if you are at home and you are watching this and you have your own version at CNNpolitics.com, get the laptops, get your calculators and get some extra pencils and get an abacus when we get to the Democrat math.
But the answer to the first question is yes, John McCain can lock it up. We've already given him Vermont, Wolf, which puts him right here. Here's the finish line for John McCain. Governor Huckabee is way back here. Ron Paul is still in the race. He's way back here but now let's watch this through as we go.
Let's take that off. He's won Ohio. We haven't awarded him the delegates there yet. Well let's do it. And watch the line. John McCain gets the delegates in Ohio. He gets closer.
Rhode Island is about to close. John McCain is well ahead in the polls there. Look where that gets him there. Now we come down to the state of Texas. John McCain is in Texas tonight for a reason because he believes when the results come in in Texas and again watch this right here and watch the finish line.
He believes when the results come in Texas, that's your result that gets him over the finish line. John McCain has more than the 1,119 necessary.
BLITZER: They have the banner that Dana was talking about, 1,191. They're ready to roll that banner out and to declare a victory.
KING: The confetti will fly. The balloons will drop and John McCain will thank the people of Texas for putting him over the top tonight if all goes as we expect. And there is no reason to believe it will not go that way.
Now, you asked the much more difficult question second, the Democratic map. Let's pull it out right now. The states, Rhode Island and Ohio and Texas. Still to vote tonight. Still to come in, Vermont's already gone to Barack Obama. Wolf, senator Obama has pulled ahead. The finish line is out here.
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