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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Obama Wins Mississippi Primary; Geraldine Ferraro Stands Behind Comments About Obama; Why has Hillary Clinton Lost Some Black Support?
Aired March 11, 2008 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world.
I'm Wolf Blitzer at the CNN ELECTION CENTER.
Right now, 2:45 to go before the polls close in the state of Mississippi. Democrats have been voting today for the presidential candidate, Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton. Forty total delegates in the state of Mississippi, seven of them are those are what they call the superdelegates. Those are the elected party officials.
Thirty-three delegates are at stake today. We're watching this race closely to see how they divide up those 33 delegates. How many will Barack Obama get? How many of those delegates will Hillary Clinton get?
Mississippi is the latest example in what's been a tumultuous election season so far and it's not over with by any means. Six weeks from today, the Pennsylvania primary will unfold. April 22, that's the next big contest in this race for the White House. We've got lots of coverage awaiting for us tonight.
We're also going to be speaking with Barack Obama. That interview will happen live during the course of our coverage tonight.
Soledad O'Brien is joining us. She's going through all of the exit numbers. We're going to be checking in on what's going on.
Campbell Brown is here with the best political team on television including John King and Gloria Borger and Dana Bash and our favorite, how could we forget Donna Brazile and of course in the back row, we've got Leslie Sanchez. Mark Halperin from "Time Magazine" is joining us and Roland Martin is here as well.
Lots of coverage coming up. In a minute, we're going to be able to assess where this race in Mississippi stands right now because the polls completely in that state will be over with at 8:00 eastern. Just to give you a little sense of what's going to be happening over the course of the next two hours, we're going to go to Mississippi.
We have reporters standing by there, but we're also going to be looking ahead to see what's going on not only in Pennsylvania but they seem to be getting closer and closer to some sort of new deal to re-do primaries in both Michigan and Florida. That would be a major development if the state Democrats, the states themselves as well as the DNC, the Democratic National Committee, and both campaigns can work out some sort of arrangement whereby in June they would have a makeover, re-do, whether by mail in or an actual full scale primary or caucuses in Michigan and Florida. That would be presumably the final two contests in what has been an exciting Democratic presidential campaign.
Right now, we're awaiting the polls to close within a second or so, once they do, we'll be able to give you a sense of where this election stands right now, based on these 33 delegates at stake in Mississippi.
And right now, we are not -- repeat, not -- ready to make a projection in Mississippi who will win that Democratic presidential primary. But we're ready to say that, based on the exit polls that we have been doing throughout this entire day, it seems like Barack Obama is scoring an exceptionally impressive lead right now. But we're not ready to project that he will carry the state in Mississippi.
Right now, we want to get some real numbers coming in. We want to be able to start tallying what the voters in Mississippi, the Democrats, the independents, what they have been doing in the course of the day in order to make a formal projection. But we can tell you that, right now, Barack Obama is doing very, very well. This was widely anticipated that he would do well.
It's been estimated that between 60 percent to 70 percent of the Democrats voting in Mississippi are African-Americans. And, so far, in many of these contests, he's been getting about 80 percent of that African-American vote.
I want to walk over to Soledad O'Brien, because, Soledad, you and your team, you have been looking at these exit polls, polls that are conducted with people who actually went out there and voted today. And we spoke to them as they emerged, after they cast their ballots.
And we're learning some useful information, what's on the minds of voters in Mississippi?
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, it absolutely helps us draw a picture of what might be happening down the road. So, here's a look at what we are looking for and looking at. This is going to be a race, Wolf, that's really about race at the end of the day. So, we're watching the black/white breakdown very closely here.
When you take a look at the white voters, Hillary Clinton is leading there -- 72 percent of the white vote is what Hillary Clinton is getting. Barack Obama's getting around 27 percent. You and I have spoken in the past about that. That's a low, low number. That's got to be a real concern for him, because he has got to bring that number up across the South or that's going to be a problem.
When you take a look at African-American voters, you mentioned an 80 percent figure. Well, that figure for Barack Obama is 91 percent now in Mississippi is what we're seeing in these exit poll numbers, a huge, huge number. More importantly maybe would be what Clinton's getting, nine percent. When you look back in Alabama, her number was 15 percent, real disintegration there. So, we're watching that very closely as well. When you take a look at what people want to see, the top quality in a candidate, can bring change, 53 percent -- 53 percent -- and everything else is basically far below that.
If you look more closely at it, OK, well, who's winning on that issue? You know the answer to that. That is Barack Obama at 81 percent. It's been his issue all along. And, so, he's running away with it -- again, Hillary Clinton getting 18 percent there. That's a big problem for her.
Interesting question that was in the exit poll, I thought, Wolf, was this one: Is Obama honest and trustworthy? The number there, 70 percent of the people poled said, yes, they thought he was.
This is the more interesting response. This is indicative of a big problem for Hillary Clinton. Is Hillary Clinton honest and trustworthy? Fifty-say percent say yes, 48 percent say no. It's split. Half of the people who are going to polls say, no, they don't think she's honest or trustworthy.
That is a very, very big problem. And this is the Obama one, where you see he actually gets a perfectly respectable 70 percent. So, these are indicative of the some of the issues that the voters are thinking about as they go to the polls. Who will lead because of these issues? We will have to wait and see --
BLITZER: And like in almost every state that has had a contest so far, the economy is priority number one in Mississippi.
O'BRIEN: Priority number one by a long shot. Number two and tied for second is actually health care and Iraq. But it's a far second.
BLITZER: Soledad, I know you're going through the numbers. Thanks very much. The exit polls that always -- Soledad, provides us -- Campbell provides us with a lot of useful information on what is going on in the minds of the voters.
And I just want to remind our voters, even though we're not able to project a winner in Mississippi, that doesn't necessarily this race is exceptionally close, by any means. It just means that we want to get some real numbers in before we just rely on the exit polls to make a projection.
We want to make sure that, given some of the quirks of what presumably is going on in Mississippi, we're precise. And we would rather wait, than just go ahead and project strictly on the basis of the exit polls.
CAMPBELL BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Absolutely, a wise approach.
And we're going to talk to our panel a little bit about what's going on in Mississippi. And I think one of the things that's striking to me is that, at the beginning of this campaign, we all thought that both of these candidates would be competing for African- American voters.
That's not the case anymore. He's winning them by and large -- almost entirely. To what extent has she alienated African-Americans as a constituency? How heartbreaking is that for Bill Clinton, who banked his presidency on courting them -- John.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think that's a huge risk going forward. There's no question that, at the beginning of the race, many of the institutional Democrats, African-American leaders, pastors, elected officials, weren't sure Obama could win, thought Hillary Clinton had this prohibitive lead. Therefore, they lined up with her.
Once they saw that he was viable, and not only was a viable candidate, but had the potential to win the nomination and win the presidency, there was this shift among voters at the grassroots level. And you have seen the political leadership follow the voters, if you will. So, there's no question Obama has taken that turf away from Senator Clinton.
And there's no question there are raw emotions between some in the community, some in the African-American community and the Clinton campaign, more and more talk, including again today, that prominent Clinton supporters are playing the race card. Is there going to be long-term damage? It's a better question for Donna than for me. But there certainly is a worry in the Democratic Party that there is a risk of long-term damage.
BROWN: Address that, Donna.
DONNA BRAZILE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I don't think so. Look, I know, at this hour in the Democratic Party, people are very worried about the divisions that clearly have been exposed throughout the primary season. But African-Americans would like to win this fall. They would like to win with a candidate that they trust can not only be ready on day one, but someone who would bring about change in this country.
And one of the reasons why African-Americans are turning out in large numbers to support Barack Obama is, they believe that he can bring about that change and he has the right kind of experience and qualifications to be president of the United States. Just a few months ago, African-American supported Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton. Today, they're with Barack Obama, because he's really talking the talk and walking the walk.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Barack Obama, himself, when he started running, and he was asked the question, why aren't you doing well with African-Americans? He said, I have got to prove that I can win. And once they see that nobody is wasting a vote on me, that I can actually win, then they will be with me.
BROWN: Right. BORGER: But don't forget, South Carolina was kind of a turning point in this race. And there are lot of African-Americans who believe that Obama was unfairly attacked in South Carolina.
And, surprisingly, they're pointing their finger at Bill Clinton, who's of course very, very popular in the African-American community. And that's been a real rupture, because he's been so important to African-American voters. And the question is whether this party splits, African-Americans on one side, older women on another side.
DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and it's true. And I think that just look at what happened today. Hillary Clinton's trying as hard as she can to move as far as she possibly from what Geraldine Ferraro said, insinuating -- actually saying point blank that the only reason why Barack Obama is where he is, is because he's black.
And even though she's trying to move as far away as she can from Geraldine Ferraro, it definitely does, unfortunately for the Clinton campaign, feed right into the storyline that the Clinton campaign has been trying to play the race card. And something like that, especially on the day of the Mississippi primary, does not help.
BROWN: Let me talk about that a little bit, that quote in particular, and bring in some of out other panelists.
Geraldine Ferraro, a quote that is getting a lot of attention, here's what she said: "If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position. And if was a woman, he would not be in this position. He happens to be very lucky to be who he is. The country is caught up in this concept."
And, Mark Halperin, she's not really apologizing for this either.
MARK HALPERIN, SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST, "TIME" MAGAZINE: She's not playing the assigned role. You're supposed to, if you're a campaign person and something like this happens, you're supposed to say, I'm sorry; it was taken out of context.
Instead, she's standing by what she said. She says, I don't speak for the Clinton campaign, and the Obama campaign better be nice to me, because they're going to need me if they win.
BROWN: But she is Clinton finance chair.
HALPERIN: She is. And it puts the Clinton campaign in an uncomfortable position. They have repudiated her to some extent. They have not, though, removed from a role in the campaign, which the Obama campaign has called for. So, I'm not really sure how this one plays out, except it does show that tensions between these two sides is still so high.
ROLAND MARTIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It's a little hard to say you repudiate when you all you simply state is, we disagree with her comments.
BROWN: It wasn't a very strong repudiation.
MARTIN: Frankly, the response by Senator Clinton as well as by her spokesmen was extremely weak. Here's how African-Americans are offended by her comment. She said, well, I made the comment about he's here because he's black, but I also said that he's run a good campaign and it's about message.
Well, for every African-American who works at a law firm, who is a doctor, who is a journalist, you know what we have always heard? You got the job because you're black, not because of your skill set, not because you worked hard. It's because you're black.
And so when people hear that kind of phrase, that's what it means. Keep in mind, Shirley Chisholm, congresswoman ran in 1972. L. Douglas Wilder ran in 1992, Reverend Jackson '84 and '88. You had Carol Moseley Braun and Reverend Al Sharpton ran in 2004. They were all African-Americans. They didn't get the nomination. Reverend Jackson won less than half the delegates of Michael Dukakis in '88.
The fact of the matter is, when she was chosen in 1984, she was chosen. She didn't run. He ran in Iowa. He raised the money. He got the support. And so he's probably where he is because he's been winning, not because he's black.
LESLIE SANCHEZ, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: One thing, there's a double standard. If this had been a Republican campaign, the Republican candidate would have excoriated.
MARTIN: Absolutely. Absolutely.
SANCHEZ: Would have absolutely demanded that resignation. No way would you have allowed to person to be tied, an internal, integral part of the campaign. So, one, with respect with that.
I think Donna Brazile would agree with me on that part, that there isn't a loud enough cry, not only from the media, but from other people, the Democratic establishment...
SANCHEZ: ... basically calling for her disassociation from the campaign. But, secondly, with respect to that, I think Geraldine Ferraro of all people who has built her legacy on the politics of gender -- she can't deny that that -- being placed in the ticket -- catapulted her career. And so it's really not fair to play the politics of race against that.
SANCHEZ: Just one last point. It does add to this Hispanic/African-American divide. You see it. It's churning. There is this race issue that is being churned between the two campaigns.
MARTIN: Well, this is white female/black divide. That is really what is going on here. And, Campbell, they do have a problem. They can deny this reality, but let me tell you something.
I have a blog on Essence.com targeting African-American women. And let me tell you something. African-Americans aren't happy as at all with these racial attacks. I'm not calling her a racist, but they are race-based attacks. And I can guarantee you, this is going to hurt them in the fall if they don't fix it.
BROWN: All right, let me bring in James Carville, who is a Clinton supporter. He's in Washington, along with Jamal Simmons, who is an Obama supporter.
And, James, let me start with you. Why didn't the Clinton campaign do more to distance themselves from the comments of Geraldine Ferraro? Do you think they should have?
JAMES CARVILLE, HILLARY CLINTON SUPPORTER: You know what? This is absurd. Senator Obama had an African-American preacher that talked anti-gay things. And Senator Obama said I disagree with him. And you're going to sit here -- they said they didn't agree with the comments. They repudiated it. What are they supposed to do?
BROWN: Let me just make the comparison, though, to Samantha Power, who is the foreign policy adviser.
CARVILLE: You're going to interrupt me, so why ask me to talk?
BROWN: Well, but I just want to -- you're making the comparison to one of the other advisers. But you don't think it's comparable to the Samantha Power scenario with --
CARVILLE: I don't think Samantha Power should have been let go. I think what Samantha Power -- and I'm writing an op-ed piece to that effect.
I think it's absolutely absurd. I think people's supporters say things that obviously the candidate doesn't agree with. And so to go around and find that Mr. Ferraro said something, I think it's absurd. A cable TV host said that the only reason that Hillary Clinton is in the race is because her husband fooled around.
You can't -- the idea that somehow or another -- or that Senator Obama ought to be held accountable for everything one of his supporters say is ludicrous. And I don't think Samantha Power should have -- I think she should be there.
I think she's an outstanding woman. I don't think what she said deserves to be resigned. I think too many people resign in these campaigns. If somebody disagrees with it, then say, I disagree with what that person says.
BROWN: Well, then, what about just looking at it from a tactical perspective. Does it hurt her? (CROSSTALK)
BROWN: It's out there. You can't put the genie back in the bottle.
CARVILLE: Of course it doesn't help, what Geraldine Ferraro said. But as if Senator Clinton told her to go out and say it, as if the people in the Clinton campaign are glad that she said it. She said something.
They said they repudiate it. And we're sitting here talking for seven minutes about something -- again, Senator Obama had a preacher that was supporting him that said some horrible anti-gay things.
CARVILLE: You can't hold somebody accountable for everybody that a supporter says.
BROWN: All right, let me bring Jamal into this -- Jamal.
JAMAL SIMMONS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, it seems there's a certain recklessness about the Clinton campaign right now. You hear this talk of the kitchen sink strategy. I don't think the Clinton campaign are racist. I don't think the Clintons are racist. But there is this sense that they are -- they and their supporters can say or do anything if they think they will have some tactical advantage.
And this didn't just start. Remember back last winter where we had Bob Kerrey making comments about Barack Obama, his name, the word madrasa, his Muslim grandparents. The fact that he's a Christian was sort of being left out of it. You had Billy Shaheen in New Hampshire saying what he said about Barack Obama and drug use.
You have Bob Johnson. You had this stream of campaign surrogates. And then, last week, you had Hillary Clinton vouch for John McCain's readiness to be commander in chief over Barack Obama.
That's reckless, not because it hurts Barack Obama. It will hurt Hillary Clinton if she becomes the nominee. How can then she argue against John McCain after she said he is ready to be commander in chief?
BROWN: All right. We're going leave it there.
We are going to take a quick break. We have got a lot more.
Jamal, you opened up a whole other can of worms we're going to talk about in just a few minutes.
BROWN: Yes, absolutely. All right.
When we come back -- stay with us. And be sure during the break and throughout the show to go to CNNPolitics.com and follow along. We're going to have lots of stuff going on online relating to the numbers. We're going to be watching the numbers when we come back, numbers coming in. We will have John King over at the magic wall, along with Wolf Blitzer and a lot more.
We will be right back.
BLITZER: Welcome back to CNN ELECTION CENTER.
Mississippi, the Democrats in state of Mississippi have now voted. The polls are closed. We're looking closely at the exit polls right now. And Barack Obama seems to have quite a significant lead. But we're not yet ready to project a winner in Mississippi.
We're watching the actual tally, the actual numbers as they come in. Based on the exit polls, though, it looks like he has got a sizable lead. We will let you know when we're able to project a winner in Mississippi with its 33 delegates at stake.
I want to clean up some business from a week ago, and take a closer look at the state of the Texas. You can see this map of the United States. You see the light blue are states that Hillary Clinton won. The dark blue are states that Barack Obama won. That yellow one in the middle, that's Mississippi. We're still awaiting the results there, as I mentioned.
But take a look at the huge state of Texas, the lines going through the stripes. That's why we're not ready to have it light blue or dark blue, because there were two separate contests in Texas. There was primary last Tuesday, which Hillary Clinton narrowly won. She got most of the -- more of the delegates in the state primary than Barack Obama.
But, as far as the caucuses are concerned, we're now ready to project that Barack Obama won the caucuses in the state of Texas. It's taken them a long time to count, count the votes for the caucuses, which were subsequent to the primary. It's part of the unique system that they have, the Democrats, in the state of Texas.
And we're now projecting that Barack Obama will be the winner of the Democratic caucuses. And they will divide up the delegates proportionately.
Based on our projection, our estimate right now, we're ready to say that Barack Obama has 1,591 pledged and superdelegates, compared to Hillary Clinton's 1,467 pledged and superdelegates. And that includes the split verdict in the state of Texas right now, Hillary Clinton winning the primary, Barack Obama winning the Democratic caucuses in Texas.
Remember the magic number, 2,025 needed to become the Democratic presidential nominee.
Let's walk over to John King, because he's studying the state of Mississippi very, very closely. A lot of our viewers, John, were probably somewhat surprised we weren't able to project a winner right at top of the hour, when the polls closed in Mississippi. And it's because we want to be precise. We want to make sure that the exit polls alone don't cause us to project a winner.
But we're going to wait for some precincts to start reporting. We will get a better sense of what is going on. What are you looking at as you look at this state?
KING: Well, obviously, our caution is reflected. We look at the exit polls data, we want to just match it up. If you have a question or two, you play to the caution side and you let the results come in.
The expectation, as you noted, is that Barack Obama will carry the state of Mississippi. Why is that? Because the statewide population is about 36 percent African-American. We expect half or more of the in the Democratic primary today will be African-Americans.
The five largest cities, Wolf, Jackson here, Hattiesburg here, Gulfport and Biloxi down along the coast, and South Haven, which is up here. I will bring the map down in a little bit and show you. South Haven is actually essentially a suburb of Memphis, Tennessee. Let's pull her back out there. Let's move around.
We see Memphis, Tennessee, up here. South Haven is a very growing area of the state. And in this one county right here, De Soto County, officials say this is a Republican county. But they have been overwhelmed with requests for Democratic ballots. So, they say the vote count there will be show tonight because a lot of people wanting to vote in the Democratic primary.
BLITZER: Almost four percent of population.
KING: Almost four percent, four percent of the population.
About nine percent of the population is right here in Hinds County, which includes the capital of Jackson, again, a place where Barack Obama is expected and needs to turn out and get most of the votes of the African-American population. That is critical for him.
Mississippi over the years, Wolf, has a history of polarized racial voting. Now, generally, that plays out in the November election. I want to show you this going back. This is the 2004 election. The red is Republican, George W. Bush. The lighter blue is John Kerry, the Democratic nominee back then. As you can see, this is a reliably Republican state.
This is 2004. Watch the map as I switch back to 2000. It won't change that much, almost 60/40 again. A few counties switched sides in this race, but it a reliably Republican race, the population center down in the southern part of the state.
What to look for tonight, African-American turnout. And, if you're Senator Clinton, the game here is margins. Assuming Barack Obama wins, try to limit the number of delegates he gets out of that. For that to happen, Senator Clinton needs to do well out in these rural areas. She has done well with lower-income white working-class voters.
In Ohio, that was big. In Texas, that was big, as she tired to turn around and stop Barack Obama's momentum. It will be critical here, even if she loses tonight, to see how she does among white lower-income Democratic voters, because, as the contest will move on, you mentioned Pennsylvania' is next. Pull the map out to a bigger view.
You mentioned Pennsylvania is next up here, also West Virginia, Kentucky, and Indiana, North Carolina, places where white rural voters will be critical in the contests ahead. So, in what's expected be a defeat tonight for Senator Clinton down in Mississippi -- and again, we want to wait for the results to come in -- that will be one of the key things to watch, white rural voters.
BLITZER: And the whole state of Mississippi, you say 30, 35 percent of the population African-American, but a much bigger percentage of the Democrats who are voting African-American. Some were suggesting maybe as high as 60 percent or 70 percent.
This state, though, rarely is ever in play in a general election as far as the Democrats and the Republicans are concerned. It's pretty reliable GOP.
KING: It's been a reliably Republican state. Every expectation is that it will be this time. But it is a key battleground tonight in the Democratic primary race.
And, yes, you mentioned about 36 percent of the statewide population is African-American. In a Democratic primary, it will be usually at least 50 percent. If turnout is high, the African-American percentage can go even higher. That is one of the things we will watch tonight in the exit poll data to see. Expectations on the ground were that we would not see as huge an increase in turnout.
Remember, how many times we have said in this primary season look at how ginned up the Democratic turnout is; look at the energy and enthusiasm? Anecdotally, we are told not as dramatic down in Mississippi as we have seen in other states. But, as I said, they did say up here in De Soto County, which, again is essentially almost a Tennessee suburb, that turnout was up, at least demand for Democratic ballots.
There are some state issues, some congressional races on the ballot tonight. So, we will see if that anecdotal evidence that says turnout is not as up dramatically as we have seen in past contests, we will see if that plays out.
BLITZER: Because a lot of the voters across the country -- and I assume it will be the case -- have been energized by having at least the first potential African-American and the first potential woman becoming the Democratic presidential nominee. I assume that's generated a lot of excitement in Mississippi as well.
KING: Without a doubt. And to the point about the African- American turnout, I want to show this to you. Again, early on Barack Obama wasn't doing as well as Senator Clinton. And then once he became a winning candidate, African-American voters have switched their loyalties to him dramatically.
Look at these states right here. This is why our expectation is that Obama would do well tonight. In South Carolina, Alabama, Georgia, and Louisiana, where you have this higher African-American populations and especially among the Democratic primary electorate, higher African-American numbers, Obama has done quite well.
BLITZER: Obama's the dark blue. Hillary Clinton's the light blue.
KING: Thank you for reminding me about that.
So, we would expect that one to add into his column. Tennessee, Senator Clinton did well. Arkansas, of course, where she was once the first lady, Senator Clinton did well. But as you see the map fill in, there are more Obama states, but Senator Clinton's hoping tonight, Wolf, even though she expects to lose in Mississippi, to then carry the fight on up here.
BLITZER: And our astute viewers will notice that Michigan and Florida, even though they did have primaries, we have got them gray, because the Democratic National Committee is not counting those primaries and the delegates there aren't being seated. But they're getting ready for what they call a makeover.
KING: Florida officials say they will announce their plan. Now, that doesn't mean the Democratic National Committee will accept it, doesn't mean the two campaigns will accept it.
But Florida officials are moving forward with their plan. There are negotiations in Michigan as well. And later on in the night, I think we could take you up to our delegate map, a separate map, and we can show you what could happen if they redo those. And if either candidate wins, we can take you through some scenarios to see two giant pots of delegates in Michigan and Florida that are essentially off the table right now because those states moved up in violation of --
BLITZER: And if they do the do-overs in Michigan and in Florida, it would come after -- right here -- Puerto Rico, which is right now the last scheduled primary. And they're trying to move theirs up to, what, June 1?
KING: June 1. They were June 7. And they want to move up to June 1. Many say that is part of the sequencing, if you will, that would create some space on the calender for Michigan and Florida to come in some time in early to mid-June. Again, that's very tentative. They're still working on very, very sensitive negotiations.
The two campaigns will closely watch this. They will not agree to any plan that they don't think at least treats them fairly. But this could be a huge dynamic going forward. And most, Wolf, want to resolve this. In the month now, a little more than a month we have between Mississippi and Pennsylvania, Democratic National Committee officials, the Democrats in both of these states, and the campaigns say, if we're going to redo these two states, let's get the negotiations locked in by the time we get to Pennsylvania on April 22, so we know what the calender looks like from here to the end.
BLITZER: We will see if they, the states, the party, the DNC, the campaigns, if they can all reach agreement on a do-over for Michigan and Florida. Maybe it's only appropriate the dark blue -- and we expect Mississippi to be dark blue -- for Obama, the light blue going for Hillary Clinton, it's only appropriate that the state of Texas sort of came up with a Solomon-like decision.
BLITZER: They will vote for both of them in the primaries and in the caucuses, two separate races in Texas. And they sort of split the delegates there as a result.
We are going to a little bit about -- more about that later. John, thanks very much. Don't go too far away.
Candy Crowley is standing by watching all of this.
But before we do that, we're ready right now to make a projection.
CNN is now ready to project that Barack Obama is the winner in the state of Mississippi, carrying the primary there now. We wanted to wait a little bit to make sure we had some actual results coming in, not just based on the exit polls, but we can now project that Barack Obama is the winner in the state of Mississippi.
This is not a huge surprise. All of the polls going into Mississippi showed that he was leading decisively, sometimes by even a double -- a significant margin. But, right now, it is our conclusion, based on all of the exit polls, based on the actual results that we have seen so far, that he will win in the state of Mississippi; 33 delegates are at stake there.
But, unlike the Republicans -- most of their states have a winner-take-all process -- on the Democratic side, this is proportionate. They will give a proportional race -- a proportional number of delegates to Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. In other words, they will divide their 33 delegates.
But Barack Obama, based on how much of an advantage he has in the actual numbers, will get considerably more than Hillary Clinton in terms of the final tally, 33 pledged delegates at stake. He will get more of those than Hillary Clinton. Seven superdelegates, that would be the Democratic members of Congress and other elected officials and party leaders from the state of Mississippi, seven superdelegates at stake there as well.
Let's get some analysis on our projection. It took us a few minutes.
Frankly, I thought, Campbell, we would be doing this right at the top of the hour. But we wanted to wait, be safe, rather than sorry, which is always smart when you're doing these kinds of things. But now we have projected that Barack Obama wins tonight, another win for Barack Obama.
BROWN: You're right. And I guess the question here is, is while it's not a big surprise, it was expected that he would win Mississippi, what does it change? I mean, does he get a big momentum boost as we look ahead, six weeks from now, Pennsylvania on the horizon?
BORGER: No, I don't -- I think, because it was so expected -- he will certainly get some delegates out of this. And I think you have to kind of look down the road. Everything's being set up for Pennsylvania and beyond and questions about Florida and Michigan, Campbell.
And, as John was saying before, these states are now looking like they're going to have some kind of do-overs. But we also have to understand that they could have their do-overs, and you could essentially end up in the same situation you are now, which is that these candidates could be about 100 delegates apart from each other heading into the convention.
BROWN: But Dana, you're out there on the trail with John McCain. You know what it's like when you're out there, and six weeks is a long time.
BROWN: I mean, a lot can happen in terms of the war of words. I mean, if you just think about what happened in the last week since Ohio and Texas, when it seemed like Obama had all of the momentum.
And now, if you're just watching as an outsider, it seems very much like she's driving the agenda a little bit. He's responding to it on the trail. What can happen in the next six weeks? So much could change.
BASH: Anything. I mean, it's like six lifetimes basically between now and Pennsylvania. There's no question about it. You know, we were just talking about this -- the whole idea of Hillary Clinton driving the agenda, and whether or not, for example, yesterday, the fact that Barack Obama really hit back in a very clear, very definitive way, this whole idea of him being Hillary Clinton's number two. In some ways, yes, he's playing to her agenda. But in other ways, he's doing the kinds of things that he's been encouraged to do for the past couple of weeks since his losses in the Texas primary and Ohio, which is, you know, don't just take a punch. You know, have a counterpunch and show what you're made of.
And in a way, for example, this whole idea of him being Hillary Clinton's number two. He put a fork in that. I mean, he put a spike in that -- forking that, too, in that whole argument. And it really, in a way, made the Hillary Clinton campaign, the Clinton, you know, advisers look like they were being manipulative. Now --
BORGER: It took them weeks to come up with it, though.
BASH: It took them a week to come up with it, but, you know, so in some ways yes, he's playing to her agenda. But in other ways, you know, it might not be the worse thing in terms of defining the kind of candidate he is.
BROWN: Who, Donna, in your opinion, who's giving more punches? Who's taking the punches better?
BRAZILE: I think the Democratic Party at this point, because the Democratic Party is suffering when two candidates who started off with all of this enormous energy, two candidates that clearly were on message for most of the campaign, they're now embroiled in a fight over who should be first.
I think at this point, the candidates need to go back and talk about the issues. Lay out their vision. Talk about what they would do starting on day one, bring the country together, bring the Democratic Party together. I think that would best serve the party and the country.
BROWN: Let me -- let me ask on that point, because you said the Democratic Party is suffering. Did -- was a line crossed? In particular, when Senator Clinton said that Senator John McCain was more qualified to be commander in chief than Senator Barack Obama, there was sort of -- it's the unwritten rule. Don't give them anything they can use in the general election. Has a line already been crossed in terms of the attack?
KING: The Democrats need to break out Ronald Reagan's Republican playbook that says the 11th dramatist (ph) is thou shall not criticize. Another Republican, the Obama campaign certainly believes a line was crossed, and many Democrats believe a line was crossed. And it is more raw. It is more bitter. It is less trustful, if you will.
Often in campaigns, you know, the candidates are going at it, the staffs are going at it. But they know each other. They've all work together in other campaigns. They'll all work together in future campaigns, and there's sort of a code of conduct that you talk quietly. Remember, after South Carolina, when everyone thought Bill Clinton had crossed the line in the race debate? Both campaigns realized where it was going, and both candidates, Obama and Clinton, instinctively pulled back and said, whoa, we don't want to go here.
KING: That is going to be the question now. This vote tonight, by all accounts, is going to be racially polarized. Obama is going to win big among the African-Americans. The support Senator Clinton gets is going to mostly come from whites.
We're going forward into a state of Pennsylvania where you have African-Americans in the Philadelphia area to a lesser degree in Pittsburgh, but a fight for the white vote. And the candidates are going to have to decide whether they're going to keep this raw tone, especially after the Geraldine Ferraro comments. Or if the candidates themselves, because only the candidates can do it, stand up and say stop.
BORGER: You know, the challenge now for each of these candidates as they fight each other is how do you fight each other while you continue to enhance your own reputation with the American public? Because after all, their eyes are on the prize, and they're going to have to go against John McCain.
He's not fighting anyone right now. He's getting people to rally around him. And now, they have to not -- they have to figure out a way to spar without getting down there in the muck so that A, Democrats aren't turned off and B, general election independent voters aren't turned off, and they don't want to diminish themselves in this process.
BASH: It's just to play the contrast (ph) -- think a little bit on this whole -- you know, the fact that they're really going after each other, especially covering the Republicans for all those months, I mean, this is actually given how bad it could be, it's kind of tame.
I mean, when you think about the fact that they could be even more aggressive towards one another, yes, than they are. I mean, it really could be.
And on the whole issue of John McCain, what I think is absolutely fascinating and sort of fascinating to watch, continuing to cover and follow John McCain around the country, is yes, he is consolidating the party around him or at least trying to. Yes, he's trying to prepare, lay the ground work in terms of raising money and in terms of really getting his message in order.
But he's not in the news, and he's not in the headlines. We have been talking about the Democrats, and we are going to continue to talk about the Democrats. In some ways, it's not that bad of the thing but it's true.
BRAZILE: But I have to say this, when Barack Obama wins Mississippi, when he wins Louisiana, when he wins Virginia, he's not just winning black voters, he's winning white voters. When he wins Alaska and Utah and Colorado, he's winning white voters. He has caught on to something. The American people are responding.
I'm glad that the people of Mississippi like Obama, the people of Louisiana, but it's not a black thing. It's because he's really talking about something that they believe in, and that's why they're coming out to support Barack Obama.
Look, African-Americans from Virginia to Texas, 55 percent of African-Americans reside in the deep south. That's why they're voting for Barack Obama because they believe in his message. But so do white people.
BROWN: An important point. OK.
We're going to take a quick break. When we come back, we're going to check in with our correspondents, Suzanne Malveaux and Candy Crowley, who are with the campaigns. And we've also got an interview with the winner of Mississippi's primary tonight.
Barack Obama will be us shortly. Stay with us.
BLITZER: Welcome back to the CNN ELECTION CENTER.
I'm Wolf Blitzer reporting.
The headline tonight, Barack Obama wins yet another state, the Democratic primary in the state of Mississippi. We have projected Barack Obama will coast to a win over Hillary Clinton. Yet another win for the Illinois senator. Let's bring in some of our reporters who are covering this incredible presidential contest.
Candy Crowley is watching all of this in Chicago. That's where Barack Obama is tonight. Suzanne Malveaux is in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, now becoming the next big battleground in six weeks, April 22.
Candy, let me start with you. While we're standing by, we're going to be speaking with Barack Obama shortly. We'll ask him some of the questions on the minds of voters out there. This represents another win for the Illinois senator.
And you combine this win with Wyoming and the win in the Texas caucuses that we've now projected, as opposed to the Texas primary, it looks like any of the delegate loss that he suffered to Hillary Clinton in Ohio and the Texas primary and Rhode Island, he may have more than made up those delegate losses.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Wolf. But remember, what Barack Obama had going into Ohio and Texas was a huge amount of momentum. Remember, we began to watch those superdelegates peel off. That's all halted since Ohio and Texas.
What Hillary Clinton did was sort of put something in the road as he was kind of marching on. So, look, he has -- he remains more than 100 delegates ahead of Hillary Clinton. But, I think this race right now is frozen. I think now, between now and Pennsylvania, you're not going to see the superdelegates coming out and making a choice as they were before Ohio and Texas.
So, he lost more than those two states actually. He just lost that sense of inevitability that he was beginning to pick up. So now, he has two wins under his belt, great wins. They weren't as high- profile as Ohio and Texas. Nonetheless, he adds to his delegate count. And when you get right down to it, it really is about the math regardless of what Mike Huckabee told them.
BLITZER: And those pledged delegates are incredibly important and helping to shape the attitudes of the superdelegates, who by almost all accounts will wind up making the decisive tally, the decisive vote, when all is said and done at the Democratic Convention.
I've been getting some e-mails from some of our student viewers out there, Candy, asking why isn't Barack Obama in Mississippi speaking to his supporters there, thanking them for this win? Everybody knew he was going to win based on all the polls over the past several days coming out of Mississippi. What was the internal decision-making process among his campaign leadership?
CROWLEY: Well, I think part of it was he was in Mississippi yesterday. We were in Jackson with him. He was in Columbus. He was in Mississippi this morning, but, you know, time marches on. Hillary Clinton was in Pennsylvania. He needed to be up there. Both kind of roughly in the same areas. So that's where they're turning their attention. It is not unknown that candidates move on to the next place after a primary, at least after the campaigning is done, and watch the results from someplace else.
I think it's clear that Barack Obama wants to take advantage of this limelight. Obviously, he's doing this show. He's doing others as well. So, you know, they want to move this forward. But I think, really what they have an eye on now, obviously is what Hillary Clinton has her eye on, and that's Pennsylvania.
BLITZER: And Barack Obama, as I said, we'll be speaking with him very soon. Hillary Clinton not necessarily taking much of a visible position tonight. She's not going out and speaking tonight, not giving interviews tonight. But Barack Obama, the winner in Mississippi is. Candy, thanks very much for that.
Suzanne Malveaux is already looking ahead to April 22 in Pennsylvania. Give us the lay of the land. What are you seeing out there, Suzanne?
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, I kind of -- I want to weigh in a little bit on the whole discussion about race, because there really is a debate. There are several different opinions within the Clinton campaign, on whether or not she should give up on the African-American vote, and there are many people who say do not do it. That is why we saw Hillary Clinton, why we saw her husband Bill Clinton and Chelsea, all of them campaigning in Mississippi despite the fact that they really assumed that she was not necessarily going to get that state. That it was worth it to be there to fight for that.
So you've got the folks like the former head of BET, Bob Johnson. You have the mayor of Philadelphia here. Michael Nutter gave a very robust defense and introduction of Hillary Clinton in a predominantly African-American city, of really making the case here to take a second look at Hillary Clinton. And they're using those lines. They're talking about her experience. They're talking about this idea that this really is a job, an interview for the most important job of this country.
And so, they believe here that they shouldn't give up on this. That this is something that she perhaps in the next six weeks could make some gains. We heard from Maggie Williams. That's her campaign manager, African-American woman, sent out that e-mail blasting essentially the Obama camp saying they were playing the race card when it came to this whole Geraldine Ferraro comments back and forth. So there is a sense that she should move forward and she should not give up on African-American voters.
BLITZER: I know. We see the crews behind you. They're breaking down the podiums and everything else behind you, over at the event where Hillary Clinton was earlier.
As you take a look down the road to Pennsylvania, the issue of race was revived today to a certain degree with these controversial comments, Suzanne, from the former Democratic vice presidential nominee Geraldine Ferraro. She was Walter Mondale's running mate back in '84. And it was not necessarily good news for the Clinton team that they had to come out and repudiate what Geraldine Ferraro was saying.
MALVEAUX: And it really kind of took away from Hillary Clinton's message here. It was a distraction all day. There were back and forth questions and e-mails over exactly what this meant and how far she would go. Ultimately, the Obama camp says that she did not go far enough to repudiate those comments.
They're really in a difficult situation here. She is one of the chief advisers when it comes to the financing. She is a big-time fund-raiser. They are good friends here. But clearly, they had to distance themselves from those comments but they haven't gone far enough in the eyes of the Obama's campaign and some other folks, voters who are paying attention to this.
The calculus here is that she is valuable, Ferraro, in the campaign. They can move forward here. And that if Clinton stays on message that she will prevail ultimately. But it's a difficult situation.
BLITZER: It's difficult as all these candidates have had statements coming out from their respective supporters that they have to repudiate, and I guess that comes with the territory. Thanks, Suzanne. We'll be getting back to you shortly.
I want to go back to James Carville. He's watching all of this unfold. What changes tonight, James, as a result of Barack Obama's impressive win in Mississippi?
CARVILLE: Well, first off, congratulations to Senator Obama and a lot of fine folks in Mississippi and they participated in this. And my congratulations to them.
I think it's a good win for him. It was widely expected. So, therefore, to some extent in the political marketplace, it's like the stock market. If you anticipate something and you meet expectations, it doesn't change a lot. I completely agree with Candy on that.
I also agree with Dana Bash who said, you know, come on, this thing is not -- this is a political campaign for the presidency of the United States of America. This is a hard-fought campaign. Every now and then, things are going to -- we're going to have some dustups here. We ought to just take a deep breath and everything is going to be fine.
And one thing I want to point out, really want to make, Wolf, is, you know, it's great being a Democrat because we talk about the African-American vote. We talk about the Latino vote. We talk about the white vote. We talk about this.
If you watch in the Republicans, you talk about, well, we got, oh, white guys here. We got really old white guys there, and that's about the only division you got in the whole party.
So, it's all (ph) good that we're able to break down this because what we see in here, I think, is an opportunity for Democrats everywhere. I completely agree Senator Clinton should no way shape or form give up on the African-American votes. It should be Democrats everywhere.
And I think that this is a good thing for the party, and I think we can go have this discussion. It's going to be a hard-fought race. Democrats want it to go on. It will go on, and we'll see where it ends up.
BLITZER: James Carville, someone who supports Hillary Clinton. Makes no bones about that. James, thanks very much.
CARVILLE: Thank you.
BLITZER: We're going to be speaking with Jamal Simmons shortly. He supports Barack Obama.
Remember, you can go to CNNpolitics.com. You can follow the results as they come in, county by county in Mississippi, and get a lot more precise information on what is going on.
Not only in Mississippi, which we projected Barack Obama will carry tonight in the Democratic primary, but all of the states that have contests, that have had contests, and contests still to come. You can take a closer look at what's going on.
We're standing by to be speaking with the winner of the Mississippi primary, Barack Obama. He's going to be joining us shortly. We'll talk with him. A lot more of our special coverage from the CNN ELECTION CENTER when we return.
BLITZER: Welcome back to CNN ELECTION CENTER.
Barack Obama, the winner of the Democratic primary in Mississippi. There have been 40 delegates in Mississippi. Democratic delegates to the Democratic convention; 33 pledged delegates, seven superdelegates at stake today. The 33 pledged delegates we projected Barack Obama will win in Mississippi. Chalk up another state for the Illinois senator.
You can see the results beginning to come in right now. The dark blue are counties. It looks like six counties are now getting results in Mississippi, and they're all going so far in favor of Barack Obama. We'll watch the actual tallies, the results come in. And we'll bring those numbers to you as we get them.
But let's go back to Campbell Brown. She's got the best political team on television ready to digest this and a lot more -- Campbell.
BROWN: That's right, Wolf. And I want to head back here and talk to Leslie a little bit. James Carville was on a few minutes ago. We've been talking about divisions within the Democratic Party given the intensity of this battle right now. Racial divisions.
And James said that at least it's not comparable to the Republicans. We have the old white guys versus the older white guys. And you, being a Republican, are so not an old white guy. I just wanted to get your prospective, you know.
SANCHEZ: I just find that interesting coming from him, you know, James as being an older white guy, no offense to him personally, but, you know, I think there's a lot of really fun things to play on that. But the reality is there is a significant difference.
And I'm not worried about John McCain being in the media right now. There's tremendous opportunity to lay out what the Republican platform is and what we want to do for America. So that being said, there is a bigger issue, and that is the civil war that is taking place in the Democratic Party. I would say Hillary Clinton is racing down the field, but not only to the finish line, to the dead end.
Where does she go? Let's say she wins Pennsylvania. She knows she has Governor Rendell. She has that tremendous support. You know, poor mayor of Philadelphia, he'll secure enough support there I think with the unions and very much what he did in Ohio. Then, she's going to be able to say, look, I won every major large state that's going to be critical. Barack Obama, with the exception of Missouri, won really marginal states. You know, who's going to be better qualified who's going to put the Democrats, especially superdelegates, in a very difficult spot. And it's really the old Democratic Party, not old by age, but really older in thinking.
Eugene McCarthy in 1968. Gary Hart, I think, tried to do that. Being the new Democrats have kind of reversed that. Those are the new Democrats. I think they were able to -- or they weren't able to do what Barack Obama has been able to do today. So she's going to have the older traditional Democrat voters and unions. And he's going to have this new movement. Where do they go?
MARTIN: It's not that hard, though. I mean, look, you actually think John McCain is going to win California? No. Pick a Democrat, Campbell. You run. You win California. A Democrat is going to win New York. A Democrat is going to win New Jersey. A Democrat is going to win Massachusetts.
Now, you talk about some of those states. Washington State? I think they'll be critical. Virginia is going to be critical. In 2004, George W. Bush won Iowa by 10,000 votes. You're up and the Democrats are looking, we could possibly flip that state. So this whole notion of only focus on the big states is a different ball game if you're able to switch Virginia or Iowa.
BROWN: Mark, do you think the electability argument is viable for her?
HALPERIN: For Senator Clinton?
BROWN: Yes. To make to the superdelegates.
HALPERIN: I think it is. Right now, probably her strongest argument with superdelegates is that big states, the argument particularly she does with Pennsylvania, and if there are re-votes in Michigan and Florida.
But, you know, I have switched in the last 72 hours in being optimistic for the Democrats that they can bring this all back together whenever the outcome. I believe that Senator Clinton wins this nomination bringing the party together is going to be really hard.
And the rhetoric not just from the campaign staffers but from the candidates themselves and their top staffers has become so bitter, that I think that even if Obama is the nominee, which is still we should all acknowledge, much more likely, it's still going to be hard for him to bring the party back together.
BROWN: With Carville saying this is just presidential politics, and you're saying no way.
HALPERIN: I think James is wrong. And part of it grows out of, I think, the diversity that James celebrate. An African-American candidate and a woman candidate is inspiring a lot of pride in people, and they don't want to see that dash (ph) easily.
BROWN: OK, guys -- well, I promise you can -- we'll get back to you as soon as we come back from a very quick break. We've also got Senator Barack Obama joining us when we come back.
Stay with us.
BLITZER: Barack Obama, we projected the winner in the Democratic primary in the state of Mississippi. We're getting some results coming in. Very, very early results. Three percent of the precincts now reporting.
And look at this. It's very close with only three percent though in. Forty-nine percent for Obama, 49 percent for Hillary Clinton. But we're projecting a win for Barack Obama. And by all indications based on our exit polls, it's going to be quite an impressive victory for the Illinois senator.
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