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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
CNN Projects Obama as Winner of the Mississippi Primary; Is Eliot Spitzer About to Resign?; Democratic Race Continues to Tighten Leading up to Pennsylvania
Aired March 11, 2008 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: If you take a look at the hard numbers of how these early votes are coming in; they're very, very early -- 3,500, basically, for each of the candidates. But remember this is extremely early and the bottom line is that Barack Obama will be the winner in Mississippi later tonight.
The actual counties that are reporting -- the dark blue show the advantage going so far for Obama, the light blue for Hillary Clinton. You can see the dark blue counties in the south.
Up in the northern part of the state, you see some light blue counties where she's got a slight advantage.
But remember, this is very, very early -- only three percent -- three percent of the precincts reporting. We're standing by to be speaking with the winner of the Mississippi primary.
Barack Obama is going to be joining us in a moment or so -- but, Soledad, you're getting through these exit polls numbers and getting some more details on what -- what were the voters thinking today when they actually showed up in Mississippi?
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And, really, why did he win?It will be good to kind of slide this in before we actually talk to him. At the end of the day, Wolf, I think the answer is it was about race in the State of Mississippi.
So let's take a look at our first graphic here. And you can see among black voters, their support for Barack Obama 91 percent in Mississippi tonight. Historically, you look back a little bit, the Alabama vote, that was at 84 percent. Back on Super Tuesday that number was at 82 percent. So, clearly, he tied up the black vote in a very big way.
Then when you asked people whose top issue was the economy, you see how Barack Obama does on that. I mean he gets a really big number. We'll take a look at this next graphic here -- 55 percent. If your top issue was the economy, Barack Obama wins that, as well. Hillary Clinton at 45 percent. So he gets a very solid win there.
Then we asked this question. We wanted to know the role of the negative ads and, really, the negativity in the campaign all the way through.
So we asked, did you think Hillary Clinton attacked unfairly? Take a look at those numbers -- 59 percent said, in fact, yes, they did believe that Hillary Clinton attacked unfairly -- 37 percent said no.
And then, finally, you take a look -- and this has been what we've been talking about all night -- Hillary Clinton's been talking a lot about maybe Barack Obama as a potential V.P. pick. You know, her -- people who vote for her say no way; they're absolutely, positively not interested.
I mean take a look at this breakdown. Of the people who voted for Clinton, only 28 percent said, yes, he'd be a great V.P. Sixty percent said no, they do not want to see Barack Obama as the vice presidential pick for Hillary Clinton.
It's an indication of a big split. And, also, I think it's a big question for him about support of Southern white men. He's not getting that support. That could be a big problem down the road for him -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Soledad, thanks very much.
We want to turn now and speak with the winner of the Mississippi primary, Senator Barack Obama.
He's joining us from Chicago his hometown.
Congratulations, Senator Obama. I know this is not a huge surprise, but we have projected that Mississippi goes in your column. How important is this for you?
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, it's just another win in our column. And we are getting more delegates. I am grateful to the people of Mississippi for the wonderful support. And, you know, what we've tried to do is steadily make sure that in each state we are making the case about the need for change in this country. And, obviously, the people of Mississippi responded.
I was in the Mississippi Delta this morning and hearing stories of companies moving jobs overseas, people not being able to stay in their hometowns and finding a decent job, schools that are chronically under funded, people without health care. And so I think the stories I heard there are the stories that I'm hearing all across the country, and that's why it's so important to change how business is done in Washington.
BLITZER: Are you worried, Senator, that this race between you and Hillary Clinton is getting too nasty and whoever gets the nomination could have problems down the road unifying the party going into the convention and going beyond, to the general election against John McCain?
OBAMA: Well, look, Wolf, I think if you watch how we've conducted our campaign, we've been measured in terms of how we talk about Senator Clinton. Obviously, I think I would be the better nominee and I've been very clear about why I think I can be somebody who brings about change by bringing people together and overcoming the special interests.
But I've been careful to say that I think Senator Clinton is a capable person and that should she win the nomination, obviously, I would support her. You know, I'm not sure that we've been getting that same approach from the Clinton campaign.
But I'm confident that once we decide on a nominee and we go through the convention, that, in fact, the party is going to be unified because people recognize we've got to have a significant shift from the Bush policies of the last seven or eight years. And John McCain represents a continuation of George Bush's policies, that have wrecked the economy and have put our foreign policy on a very uneven footing.
BLITZER: You're ahead in the pledged delegates, you're ahead in the total delegate count right now, at least by our estimate -- and I think by all the major news organizations' estimate.
If that were to continue, would you consider her, Hillary Clinton, as a possible vice presidential running mate?
OBAMA: Well, as I've said, Wolf, I think it's really premature for any of us to be talking about V.P. nominations when we're in the midst of a really important contest. And what I think the voters are still looking for is who's going to be the best advocate for them, who is going to help them stay in their homes if they're threatened for foreclosure, who's going to help make college more affordable, who can overcome some of the toxic atmosphere that's existed in the Washington over the last eight years?
And that has been our continuous message. If I'm the nominee, then I'm going to go through the process of figuring out what vice president would be most able to continue with those same themes if something happened to me, who could lead the country, who could serve as commander-in-chief. And, obviously, Senator Clinton is a very capable person and as I've said before, she'd be on anybody's short list.
BLITZER: Florida and Michigan -- they're getting close, we're hearing, to getting some sort of arrangement to have a makeover -- to redo their primary. I wonder what would you want to -- what you would want to see the Democrats in Florida and Michigan do?
OBAMA: Well, I think all of us are interested in making sure that they are seated in some way that doesn't advantage one candidate or another too much. And what we've tried throughout the process is just follow the rules that the DNC gave us.
They said that Michigan and Florida wouldn't count. My name wasn't even on the ballot in Michigan and I didn't campaign at all in Florida. And so what we believe is that there should some way of arriving at a fair settlement that respects the fact that there were rules in place, but also make sure that the Michigan and Florida voters are seated.
I'm not going to spend too much time designing what the solution is. I think that whatever the DNC decides, we will abide by.
BLITZER: Including what they're calling a mail-in primary in Florida, for example -- not a real typical primary, not caucuses, but voters out there would get the ballots in the mail and they would mail them back?
Would that be something that would be appropriate?
OBAMA: Well, I think there are some concerns in terms of making sure that whatever we do is fair and that votes are properly counted and the logistics make sense. So, you know, there are a bunch of conversations between the various campaigns and the Democratic National Committee. I'm sure it will get sorted out.
BLITZER: Once again, congratulations on your win today, Senator Obama. Good luck down the road.
OBAMA: Thank you so much. I appreciate you.
BLITZER: All right.
Let's take a look at the actual numbers right now that we're getting in -- the results coming in from Mississippi. We've projected Barack Obama the winner. But right now, with five percent of the precincts in, she's actually slightly ahead, 50 percent to 48 percent. You can see the actual numbers -- we'll zoom in -- 6,113 for Obama, 6,407 for Clinton.
But this is only five percent of the precincts. We don't know which precincts these are. But he will go on and carry the State of Mississippi, and we're told decisively.
Let's go back over to John King -- and explain why, at least with 5 percent, John, she is slightly ahead but we're very confident he's going to win in a rather impressive way.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We are very confident. And you're right that we are confident that it will not only be an Obama victory, but in an impressive way. As you watch the votes come in right now, with, about five percent of the vote in.
It's essentially tied. There's about 300 votes separating the candidates, 50-48 when you do the percentages. But Clinton is ahead in raw vote count so far.
But remember, when we were talking earlier, we said most of the population center is south of this line. Most of the votes will come in down here. We expect Senator Obama to do well over here in Jackson. We expect Senator Obama to do well down here.
And so we'll watch as the results come in. But from what we're seeing so far, Senator Clinton does have a lead. Here's a few places we'll watch as the night goes out, Wolf.
You would call this down here the post-Katrina vote. And we want to see how that goes. Both candidates campaigning down in Gulfport and Biloxi, saying they would be a president who would do more than George W. Bush did, in their view, and is doing, in their view, to help the Gulf Coast recover from Katrina. The proximity to New Orleans, of course, right over here.
This was the area most heavily hurt and damaged when the storm hit. That is one area we will watch tonight. Again, Senator Obama favored down there, but we will see how that goes.
I want to pull this down, as well just to show you. Again, this is where the state capital is, in Jackson. Nine percent of the population in Hinds County. A heavy African-American turnout will be necessary for Obama here.
And we will look for these results when they come in. And we assume this is where, when these results do come in -- and Mississippi is historically slow to count -- we expect this is where Obama will catch up and pass when you get the results in, in a place like this.
And you see, Wolf, up here, Obama's winning out here in the rural areas out here. Senator Clinton, at the moment, winning up here in South Haven, which is, to all intents and purposes, a Memphis suburb. Tupelo, Mississippi -- a little trivia quiz -- is?
The birthplace of Elvis Presley. It also has a great little -- it's a very small, modest place, but a fabulous antique and classic car museum I've been to in Tupelo, Mississippi.
BLITZER: I remember a Van Morrison song involving Tupelo, too.
KING: There you go. See, we'll get some music trivia in tonight as we count the votes, as well. As you see the results come in -- I'm moving over to Alabama there. Let's bring it back to Mississippi. This board is filling in slowly because the count is slow.
Remember, as we go throughout the night and as we look at the national map, as well, this lighter blue is Senator Clinton, the darker blue is Senator Obama. We are -- based on all of what we've seen in the exit polls, we are fully confident in our projection. We'll just watch as the votes come in.
And then all of the issues you've been discussing and we've been discussing as a panel all night long, is there a racial polarization in the vote, is the turnout up higher again as we go? That will be something we watch as the night goes on.
But a slow count, so the numbers are turning in slowly. But major population centers, again, the five major cities are Jackson, Hattiesburg, Gulfport, Biloxi -- right next to each other -- and then South Haven up here, which is a growing area because of population coming down. Then the other city centers you can see.
We'll watch the votes come in. Senator Obama is beginning to catch up here, 49-48 percent, and we expect he will soon pass her, as the votes come in from these major population centers.
BLITZER: And that's Southport up there, a suburb of Memphis, all the way in the northern part of the state.
KING: Right. This is the growing -- there's a lot of growth up here. And as in New Orleans, Mississippi was not as hard hit. New Orleans lost some population after the storm. There was some displacement down here. But Mississippi has recovered faster than New Orleans area for (INAUDIBLE).
BLITZER: You know, you want to hear something interesting, John? Our viewers can be you. They can be John King. They can go to CNNPolitics.com and they can do exactly what John is doing -- play around with the counties as they're coming in, play around with the states, get some sort of projections, what's going on with the electoral votes.
It's exciting to be John King. And you know what, anybody who's got a laptop, anybody who's got a computer, can go to CNNPolitics.com and do it.
KING: It's a lot of fun to do this. While they're logged on, if they want to pay my mortgage, they could do that, too.
BLITZER: All right, John. Thanks very much.
We'll take a quick break. Much more of our coverage from the CNN Election Center right after this.
CAMPBELL BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back, everybody.
We want to take stock quickly of where we are right now. We have called Mississippi for Barack Obama. He is the winner. But if you look at the board, the numbers still showing this very close, with him just a couple of hundred votes apart.
The numbers are still coming in, so we will be updating you throughout the night on where things stand. But we are calling that Barack Obama has won Mississippi.
And we've got the panel with us now. We want to check back in with them and it's also probably a good idea on every election night to take stock of where things stand with regard to the super- delegates, because the math hasn't changed all that dramatically and it still may come down to the superdelegates.
And we have Donna Brazile, who happens to be one. You get this question, I know, every time we do this, but what are they thinking tonight? Where are they?
DONNA BRAZILE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I think superdelegates are still trying to figure out how to unite the party. The 351 of us who are still uncommitted are close call looking at the results tonight in Mississippi, anticipating that, you know, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Oregon and other states will also weigh in on this key decision.
At the end of the day, if one of the candidates needs super- delegates to put them over the top, to avoid a brokered convention, to avoid any spilling of blood or division in the party, it's clear to me that the super-delegates would, in my judgment, would go with the pledged delegates and support the person who has the most pledged delegates.
BROWN: So who do you -- who do you think is winning in the wooing contest right now?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, you know, I agree with what Candy said earlier. I think that the wooing contest has kind of been frozen. And I think that there was a whole bunch of superdelegates ready to make the leap. But then Barack Obama did not win Texas and Ohio.
And they're not kamikaze pilots, so they decided to kind of sit still there for a while. I don't know -- and you might disagree with me -- but I kind of think of the superdelegates as the House of Lords in our American system...
BORGER: ...the House of Lords. And what the House of Lords needs to be proven is sort of who's the most electable candidate. And each of these candidates are going to do a legal brief to the House of Lords and say I'm the most electable because I can win the big states or because I have the most pledged delegates or I can woo Independents.
BROWN: But Florida and Michigan still outstanding here.
BROWN: But what -- Dana, tell us a little bit about Florida and Michigan. Can they change the math enough to make a difference, I guess?
DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they could change the math. Unclear if it would be enough to make a difference. But it's about -- I think it's more than 300 delegates, so it's certainly a lot of delegates combined.
But I can actually tell you something that just happened. I just got an e-mail that there was actually a meeting of the senator -- the Democratic senator from Florida, Bill Nelson, who has been pushing this idea of a re-vote via mail. He met with some of the House Democrats -- House lawmakers in Washington.
And I just got an e-mail from the Florida delegation of the U.S. House of Representatives who says, at least in the House, they're opposed to any mail-in campaign or any re-do of any kinD.
BORGER: There you go.
BASH: So, I mean, this is deadlock.
BROWN: So we're back to square one.
BASH: This is deadlock. And this is where, I mean Donna knows a lot of the nitty-gritty of this because she's on one of the committees nationally that has to deal with this.
But in terms of where this starts in finding a solution, it's going to have to start in the states. And right now in Florida, the Democrats seem to be completely chaotic and deadlocked in terms of how they want to deal with the fact that their delegates aren't going to be seated and there's tons of pressure to fix it.
BRAZILE: And Dana is right, Senator Nelson really needs to get the Congressional Democrats to go along with his plan to hold a mail- in ballot. And, of course, he needs to get the Florida Democratic Party to submit it to Rules and Bylaws Committee immediately so that if they decide to have a re-vote, the re-vote must take place before June 10th...
BASH: Right. The clock's ticking.
BRAZILE: ...which, according to the rules, that's when this primary contest will come to an end.
BROWN: So how optimistic are you that that might happen?
BRAZILE: Well, I know a couple of the congressional Democrats. And many of them are not very excited about having a mail-in ballot, with security being one of the major concerns -- who will get the contract. And, you know, Florida has had some problems with in-person voting.
BRAZILE: So I would hesitate...
BASH: I've heard that before.
BROWN: You're speculating on how they may bungle the mail-in system?
BRAZILE: I'm concerned about a mail-in system, where just four years ago, some Floridians felt that they were being purged. So I think they need to be very careful before they put together a plan, but the plan needs to be a unified plan.
BROWN: Let me bring in Paul Begala, who's joining us now. We've got him from Washington along with Jamal Simmons, who's also in Washington.
And, Paul, of course, you're a supporter of the Clinton campaign. Let me just get your more general view, not just on Florida and Michigan. There are so many unknowns over the next six weeks, as head into Pennsylvania. But what do you think the Clinton campaign is going to be focused on over these next six weeks?
PAUL BEGALA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, I think they're going to have to, first, get over this kind of interesting dichotomous message that they have -- one the one hand, Barack Obama is unqualified to be commander-in-chief; on the other hand, he'd be a great running mate, right?
And I think Barack did a very good job this week of calling them out on that. And I think they've backed off of that. They're going to focus on Pennsylvania. And I think that they're going to make a full court press there. It's a state probably very similar to Ohio, where Hillary won big.
And I think what they want to do is run up the score with voters. They may not be able to catch Barack in a delegate count. And I noticed that Donna, as somebody who is uncommitted and a super- delegate, said she thinks most of the super-delegates will go with whomever has -- whoever -- has the most delegates pledged, not the most votes from citizens.
One of the sort of maybe nightmare scenarios for the super- delegates -- but I think it's probably Hillary's favorable scenario -- is maybe she can't catch him in the delegate count, but if she surpasses in the popular vote, then we're back into -- I hate to say this, Donna -- we're back into Bush v. Gore, where one's got the popular vote and the other has got the system.
BEGALA: And I don't want to plunge Donna back into that nightmare, but that could be -- that would be tough on Democrats, I think, especially on those super-delegates.
BROWN: And, Paul, is that why, presumably, the Clinton campaign seems to be much more interested, in Florida and Michigan, figuring out a resolution to this than the Obama campaign does.
BEGALA: Yes, but they -- I think the Obama campaign has got to be careful. They don't want to disenfranchise people, you know? One of the things that Senator Obama has done that's been so spectacular is bringing all these new people into the system, generating all of this excitement. It's very hard, then, to say well, we don't want to have a re-vote in Florida or in Michigan.
You know, I think it's untenable to say don't seat any of those delegates from those very, very important states. I think it's equally untenable to say well, just give them all to Hillary, because she won -- even though there wasn't a campaign there.
Therefore, the only decent option is some kind of re-vote -- maybe not by mailing -- Donna raises some interesting issues. Maybe yes by mail. But they've got to have to have a re-vote. It's nothing but good for Democrats.
Every place these two campaign, they generate more volunteers, more voters, more contributors, more excitement and more Democrats for the November election. So they've got to have a re-vote in those two states.
BROWN: Jamal, I've got about a minute left.
JAMAL SIMMONS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: So, there's a couple of things. First of all, let's go back to the point that Candy made and I think some of the other people on the panel made about the super- delegates. Maybe Barack Obama's momentum was slowed down a little bit after Ohio and Texas, but, in fact, he's gotten seven super-delegates since Ohio.
So one of the most under reported stories is the narrowing in the gap of the super-delegates. Senator Clinton was ahead by 90. She may be now ahead by 30 or 31. He's got about 215, she's got 246, I think was the number that -- the last number that I saw.
Now, you talk about small states versus big states -- Donna also will remember this -- we were in the trenches together in Nashville for the Gore campaign. If Al Gore had won one of these small states like New Hampshire or West Virginia or Missouri, Florida wouldn't have mattered...
SIMMONS: ...and he would have won. Tennessee. Florida wouldn't have mattered and he would have won the election. So we can't just have a big state strategy. That's the strategy that's gotten us in trouble for a bunch of surprises that we've lost.
BROWN: All right, we are going to take a quick break.
Stay with us, though. We're going to talk about another huge political story when we come back that's off the campaign trail, but still very important and getting a lot of attention. We've got new information tonight on the sex scandal involving New York governor Elliot Spitzer.
We'll be back after a very short break. Stay with us.
BLITZER: Welcome back to the CNN ELECTION CENTER.
We're following the Mississippi primary. We've projected that Barack Obama is the winner. He's beating Hillary Clinton. Right now, with 14 percent of the precincts reporting, Obama has 52 percent to Hillary Clinton's 46 percent. That lead probably will increase as the night goes on.
Right now, 20,641 votes for Obama to 18,370 votes for Hillary Clinton. Remember, it's early. Thirty-three delegates -- pledged delegates -- at stake tonight, seven super-delegates in the State of Mississippi.
The next big contest, April 22, six weeks from today, in Pennsylvania. You're going to be hearing a lot about the counties, the cities in Pennsylvania.
There's another important story we're following, as well, and that involves the New York governor, Eliot Spitzer -- the sex scandal that's unfolded.
I want to bring John King in -- John, a lot of speculation tonight -- will this governor resign, will he be forced out?
What is going on?
Update our viewers on what we know.
KING: Wolf, we are told flatly by a number of Democratic sources here in New York who are familiar with and, in some cases, involved in these conversations, that it is a matter of when, not a matter of if, Governor Eliot Spitzer will resign. And I was told by three sources who have good knowledge of these conversations and negotiations tonight that there is an attempt to orchestrate a resignation as early as tomorrow.
The political track of that, I'm told, is going quite well. And that would involve submitting an official resignation and then a transfer of power -- the swearing in of New York's lieutenant governor as its next governor.
But there also are very important and critical legal negotiations involved. Governor Spitzer wants to do this as a package, if you will, and essentially negotiate with federal prosecutors. They're also checking into possible state law violations to make sure that if he does some sort of a plea deal, it is done as a package and resolves his legal issues at once.
So there are several sources saying that they believe this could be resolved as early as tomorrow. But they also are saying be careful and be cautious because of the sensitivity of the legal side of the conversations and negotiations.
Until all of the documents are reviewed, until all the deals are finalized, it could collapse. But there are political operatives working for the governor and working for the lieutenant governor and others who are negotiating a scenario to orchestrate all this out. And some of the sources believe strongly it could happen as early as tomorrow.
BLITZER: All right. I want to bring in -- thanks, John.
I want to go out to Hawaii right now. We've tracked down our senior legal analyst, Jeff Toobin.
You thought you might have the night off. Jeff, you have no night off. You're joining us right now. And you have some unique perspective on Eliot Spitzer. You went to law school with him at Harvard Law School. You know this individual.
There are some reports that even some of his advisers are saying, you know what, governor, fight it out, you can win this, don't resign.
But you just heard John King say it's not a matter -- based on what he's hearing -- not a matter of if, but when. Give us a little perspective on what you think is going on.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I know that there are plea negotiations in works and, as John said, a package deal. This is Spitzer's best option at this point.
He can promise to leave, but he'll say -- as he's saying to prosecutors -- look, I will only leave if I can tie up all of my potential criminal liability, know plead guilty to perhaps a misdemeanor, to some minor crime and be done to with it. He's not going to quit unless he can also wrap up his legal problems. And that's what the negotiations are going on.
Michelle Hershman, who used to be one of his proteges in the New York attorney general's office -- is now in private practice -- she's representing him with Michael Garcia, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York. That's the negotiation that's going on.
But there is no doubt that his political career is over. His governorship is over. And the speed and drama of his fall is like nothing that I've ever seen in politics.
BLITZER: It is breath-taking. Let's talk about the law for a second. The Associated Press reporting that he may have spent, transferred some 80,000 dollars over a period of time to this prostitution ring. We don't have that. We don't know that. That's what the Associated Press is reporting.
But the federal investigation supposedly is involved in money transfer, what they call structuring. What's the crime here potentially? Explain that to our viewers, Jeff.
TOOBIN: Well, federal law for a long time has held that if you engage in any transaction of 5,000 dollars or more in cash, something called the Currency Transaction Report, a CTF has to be filed by the person receiving the cash. In response to that law, a lot of criminals, particularly drug dealers, started structuring transactions.
They would deposit $4,900 in a bunch of different banks to avoid the requirement. That is a crime. Structuring is a crime. The question is, did Spitzer, in paying for these prostitutes, structures his cash transactions in such a way that CTRs wouldn't be file.
Why this is so significant is while being a John, patronizing a prostitute, is a minor crime, a misdemeanor at best, structuring transactions is money laundering, and is a felony. If prosecutors have that on Spitzer, that would be a much more complicated plea bargain and expose him to much greater criminal liability. I don't know that there are -- there's that evidence, but if there is, there's a much more serious legal problem for Spitzer.
BLITZER: According to "The New York Times" that crime structuring, money laundering, or moving money around to conceal its purpose, that carries with it potentially a five-year prison sentence. We spoke earlier though with Alan Dershowitz, the Harvard law professor, who said that whole law was designed to deal with drug dealers and serious crime, not the kind of crime that's alleged in this particular case.
Is there a different standards? Are they using this money laundering part to go after someone who was involved with prostitutes?
TOOBIN: Dershowitz is clearly right. That was the intent of the law. He's wrong that it can't be applied elsewhere. It has been applied elsewhere, to all kinds of white-collar criminal investigations. It's, in fact, a routine part of white-collar investigations, to see if transactions were structured.
So, there is absolutely nothing stopping the U.S. attorney from charging Spitzer with structuring, if in fact he did it in aid of hiring prostitutes. That's just not any sort of legal defense.
BLITZER: Jeff, as someone who went to law school with Eliot Spitzer, and someone who's known for him for many years, what was your reaction yesterday when you heard this bombshell report?
TOOBIN: Well, I have rarely been as shocked by a news story as I was by this one, because Eliot Spitzer, starting when I met him in 1983, was the straightest of the straight arrows. I met him when he was working with Alan Dershowitz of Claus Von Bulow's defense, his appeal. One of the sort of jokes around the law school, what's a total straight arrow like Eliot Spitzer doing working for a sleazy high-life character like Claus Von Bulow?
That's been the touch stone of his career. He has been this figure of rectitude, this rather arrogant, to many people, prosecutor. But what goes around comes around. You only need to see the joy on Wall Street and read it in today's "Wall Street Journal," how happy that his many targets are that Spitzer is getting his. The idea that Eliot Spitzer and Silda Spitzer, his wife, who was also in law school with us, that they're enduring this family tragedy is just horrific to contemplate.
BLITZER: Stand by, Jeff. We'll continue our coverage of this.
You know, Campbell, they called him the sheriff of Wall Street, Eliot Ness. He was a tough, no-nonsense prosecutor when he was the attorney general of New York state in 2004. He prosecuted -- he went after a prostitution ring, a high end prostitution ring in Staten Island. And, as Jeff said, this is about the last person you would have expected to find himself in this sort of affair.
BROWN: It's striking what Jeff pointed out and what you saw today, a lot of joy. I mean, this was a guy who had a lot of enemies.
BORGER: -- is the word that everybody seems to be using, to see people taking joy in what's occurred to him. I think it's not so much that he prosecuted these folks on Wall Street or prostitution rings, in reading the pieces today. It was that he seemed to take so much pleasure in it, and didn't, you know -- made people make perp walks when they didn't really have to and that kind of thing.
BORGER: Show-boating a little. I think also, politically, quite frankly, in Albany, he doesn't have a lot of friends in either party. That can come back and bite you in the rear end.
KING: There's -- you hear, Republicans, but Republicans aren't known to be overly partisan. This guy was so self-righteous as a prosecutor. The bigger calculation is the Democrats in this state. They're hoping to gain some seats in a presidential year. New York would be Democratic. The balance of the state Senate is one or two seats. If the lieutenant governor becomes governor, the Democrats would need to win two seats.
They know their chances. Down the ballot are dependent on having a good year. This is the last thing the New York State Democratic party wants. They want this to be over and they want it to be over now.
BROWN: Let me take a walk back here. Both presidential candidates trying to stay as far as away from this as humanly possible. But Hillary Clinton's from the state of New York. An issue for her or not really, Mark?
HALPERIN: I think if it goes away quickly, it probably isn't. It certainly brings up sex scandals, not the Clinton's favorite topic. But, it does show just how precarious this race is. We try to factor everything into, will this give one side an advantage? She doesn't lose a super delegate, because the lieutenant governor would become a super delegate.
BROWN: He's already a super delegate, I think. I read today. Maybe I'm wrong.
HALPERIN: I don't think he is. If he is then you're right.
BROWN: Even though we're talking about one super delegate.
HALPERIN: I think he'll probably, as John King suggested, handle this relatively quickly, and I think it will get it off the national stage and voters in places like Pennsylvania will have better things to be concerned about, like the economy.
MARTIN: For the average voter, this isn't a matter of who he went after on Wall Street or that he was Eliot Ness. It boils down to the simple fact that this is a governor who simply destroyed the credibility and integrity of his office. This was not just what -- these days, after Bill Clinton, what we call a normal affair. This is a case of someone who was involved with a prostitute. People don't want to see mayors, governors involved in these kinds of things. In Detroit right now, the city council voted on a resolution trying to get rid of Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. Why? Because he was having an affair with his chief of staff.
That's not what people expect. I think the anger is that you're a governor. You know better. You know what, you need to get out of office, because that's not the kind of behavior we want, because if you succumb to that, the question is, what will you succumb to next.
BROWN: OK, they're telling me, too, that the lieutenant governor is a super delegate. If she resigns, she would be down one super delegate. Leslie, have we heard the worst of this, too? Still more to come on this story?
SANCHEZ: That's probably the bigger issue. I have to agree with Roland. It's a violation of public trust. Regardless of the Republican or Democrat, that's really someone who's representing the voters of New Mexico -- New Mexico? New York. Thank you.
SANCHEZ: The real issue is the violation of public trust. I do go back to the super delegate issue. I think it's something -- that's a reason you haven't heard anything from Hillary Clinton. It is a very difficult position to put that candidate in or any candidate. I think there's more to be heard in that area.
BROWN: We're going to take a quick break. A reminder to everybody, go to CNNPolitics.com. We've got a lot going on online. We're going to have a Lot more to come on the Mississippi vote, presidential politics. More on this topic as well. We'll be right back.
BLITZER: Welcome back to the CNN Election Center.
I'm Wolf Blitzer reporting.
Let's update you on the actual results coming in from the state of Mississippi. Right now, 28 percent of the precincts have reported. Barack Obama with 56 percent of the vote to Hillary Clinton's 42 percent.
If we take a look at the actual numbers, you can see he's getting close to 50,000. She's got just more than 37,000. But we have projected he'll win. He'll win rather handily.
In fact, if you take a look at the map, you see the dark blue counties are counties that are leading for Barack Obama. The light blue are counties that are leading for Hillary Clinton. There are more dark blue counties up there than light blue. Although, in the northern part of the state, you see some dark -- some light blue counties for Hillary Clinton.
This is, once again, going to be a win for Barack Obama -- 33 delegates at stake, pledged delegates in Mississippi.
Campbell, as we take a look at Mississippi, a lot of people are now beginning to look ahead to Pennsylvania, six weeks from today.
BROWN: That's right. Why don't we bring in Candy Crowley, who is in Chicago. She's been traveling with the Obama campaign.
Candy, talk us through that. Six weeks heading into Pennsylvania, what's the thinking? Are we still going to see the sniping back and forth that's so dominated over the last week? Are we going to see these two candidates maybe talking about the issues again?
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes is the short answer. I mean what the Obama campaign has clearly decided is that there are certain issues that you have to push back on.
The vice presidential discussion, that she should put him on the ticket; they clearly felt Monday, after an entire weekend of chatter about that, that he had to push back and not only say, I don't want to be vice president or I'm running for president, but also to say, well, isn't it interesting that she says I'm not ready to be commander in chief, but she would like me to be her vice president.
So they really hit her not just on the subject matter, but on something else as well. I think you saw with Geraldine Ferraro and her remarks today that the Obama was out and pushing back on that.
So they very clearly decided to have quick responses and to have tough responses. So, I think that's an Obama we haven't seen him that people have said he really needed to do post-Ohio and post-Texas.
They thought he wasn't quick enough on NAFTA. It was a very disjointed response to it from his campaign. They felt that he was also not tough enough, at least on the stump, in responding to the crisis phone ad, the red phone ad. So, I think you'll see some of that.
But I also think, you know, you're talking about Pennsylvania. This is another state that has huge jobs problems, huge inflation problems, huge gas problems. Yes, they will be there. The interesting thing is the other thing they have to watch out for is you don't want any critical mistakes at this point.
This is just forever between now and that Pennsylvania primary. There's nothing that breaks it up. There's no other thing to draw peoples' attention away. It's about Pennsylvania and it's about not making a mistake.
BROWN: Candy, you also talked about how Obama, his responses to her attacks. And it seems that he's doing a lot of responding. Where he has tried to attack her, for example, on releasing her tax returns or disclosing contributions to the Clinton library, those attacks aren't seeming to stick or to resonate with people in the same way. Is that fair? CROWLEY: Well, they haven't so far. You're right. He has, sort of, particularly his campaign, not so much Obama on the stump, but his campaign has gone after some of these things. In particular, they have gone after her rationale for saying, I have been tested.
I have national security credentials. They have put out reams of material trying to under cut her claim to having been instrumental in bringing about peace in Ireland, to having helped open borders with Kosovo, that kind of thing.
So, they really are going after her on that. You're right. It's interesting what gets these things to take hold. Let's face it, with Hillary Clinton, it was the "Saturday Night Live" skit that suddenly turned a lot of attention on him.
So, you know, there has to be something else other than a campaign pushing it. They are very hard trying to do that. But they do feel that they have to come back on the whole commander in chief question. That's where they've really been trying the hardest at this point.
BROWN: Let me bring in Jamal Simmons, who is joining us from Washington. Jamal is an Obama supporter, who we've been talking to throughout the night.
Jamal, give us your perspective on that. What is it that will nail this for the Obama campaign? What does he have to do? What's been lacking?
SIMMONS: Well, it depends on how you look at it. He's winning delegates. He's winning super delegates. He has picked up seven super delegates since Ohio and Texas. He won tonight. It looks like pretty handedly. So he's going to pick up delegates here tonight.
I do agree that he has to figure out to get Hillary Clinton to play a little defense here. The Clinton campaign's doing a lot of offense, and they're forcing them to respond. You know, I think lot of his supporters want him to get a little bit more aggressive, find some ways to poke the needle at her and get them on the defense.
One thing about the Clinton campaign is they barrage the Obama campaign with a lot of attacks. Some of them have merit. Some of them don't. But they just keep sending them into the ether to see what sticks. The Obama campaign has to knock some of those down, but they also have to fire back a little bit.
BROWN: Paul Begala, who is a Clinton supporter -- Paul, you've seen a number of op-eds written that maybe he's not tough enough, that the Clintons -- no one's better at this. She's willing to play harder and to play tougher on this subject matter. Is that what we're going to see from this campaign over the next six weeks?
BEGALA: I hope both campaigns are tough. They need to be fair, factual, on the public record. They need to be careful not to do the Republicans' job for them. But within those structures, I want them to hit each other, because it will toughen them out. John McCain's sitting out there with Karl Rove and Ken Mehlmen and the whole Bush crowd now. He's got every lobbyist in Washington lined up behind him. He's got every Bush adviser in Washington lined up behind him.
They're ready. I had one very prominent Republican, very prominent national Republican tell me this, if Barack Obama is the nominee, we'll make the Swift Boat ads look like a public service announcement. Now, they'll do the same thing to Hillary Clinton, believe me.
We happen to be having the conversation about Barack. Yes, I Think Jamal makes a good point. People want to know, can Barack Obama take a punch. He's a pretty resilient guy.
Can he throw one? Will it be fair, factual, on the record? Will it pop her back. I have to say, yes people should disclose her tax returns and all that, but that's all just process. That's not going to create any jobs.
He needs to get back on things like jobs, health care, the economy. I noticed in his interview with Wolf, he did a pretty good of that. That's where he has to draw the distinctions with Hillary, on jobs, health care, the economy, those meat and potato Democratic issues.
SIMMONS: You know, one more thing on that issue of having some conversations; I talked to a party leader today who helps runs one of these national organizations and one thing that he said is that when you look at the states, the candidate that helps them the most win some of these state contest is going to be Barack Obama. They think he does better for people down ballot than Hillary Clinton does.
BROWN: All right, Jamal Simmons and Paul Begala. Thanks, guys. We want to throw it back to Wolf. Still a lot of unknowns.
BLITZER: A lot of unknowns. I was struck by what Barack Obama told us tonight. When I asked him, would you consider Hillary Clinton as a potential running mate? He said, she's got to be on anybody's short list. Certainly, she's suggesting he would be on her short list. So that so-called dream ticket, despite what a lot of people are saying, don't rule that out. I think that's the bottom line that I'm sensing right now.
Let's walk over to John King. He has the map over there.
First, John, talk a little bit about Mississippi. What happened tonight? Then I want to take a look down the road if there's a do- over in Michigan and Florida. But tell us what happened tonight?
KING: Delegate scenario in just a second. One quick point about Mississippi; last time you were over here, Senator Clinton was ahead in early returns. Senator Obama Has pulled ahead and pulled ahead quite handily.
I want to show you one thing that I find quite interesting about this. The dark blue is Senator Obama. The light blue is Senator Clinton. Still a lot of votes to come in, but we see the clear pattern. Senator Obama's winning in most of the big population centers.
Watch this. Circling two areas of Senator Clinton's strength. This is Senator Clinton's strength. Remember that. Now I'm going to go to switch. This is the map of tonight, the Democratic primary.
I'm going to go now to the general election in 2004. Remember, the red circles are where Senator Clinton's winning tonight. Those are both reliably strong Republican conservative, suggesting she is getting more Democratic votes in conservative areas of Mississippi, and in parts of Mississippi that are certain to go Republican in November. The state is most likely to go Republican in November.
Now, Wolf, let's go to the bigger question, and the what if? We can go any number of hypotheticals here. As you see right now, Mississippi is flashing. We're going to give this state, as the win goes, this state will go to Obama tonight. We're going to come down here and get that.
This state will go to Obama tonight. He'll get his delegates. The question is, how many? How will this work.
But you mention -- let's play this out a little bit. Obama's favored out here. Obama's favored out here. Obama's favored out here. Senator Clinton, she believes she can win Pennsylvania.
She believes she can win all around here. North Carolina will be a battleground. Let's give it to Senator Clinton for now, in theory. Let's give her Puerto Rico. She's done very well among Latino votes.
Then look what we have, Wolf. We have a closer race. Obama still ahead. Here's the finish line. What is the big question out there, do we do over Florida and Michigan? If that happens, and Senator Clinton wins -- I'm doing this 55 to 45 -- OK, we bring those states into play. We bring them in, delegates here. It doesn't want to go.
We'll have to play this over later. We'll get it to work a bit better. If you bring these two pools of delegates into the race then, you have a scenario where she can get here. She can get ahead of him. Neither one of them can get to the finish line, but she can, Wolf, get there.
Let's bring it around this way. I want to bring this back this way. Let's put Michigan in that way, put Michigan in that way for Senator Clinton, these states for Senator Clinton. These states for senator Obama. Puerto Rico for Senator Clinton. Again, this all hypothetical, gaming it out to the very end.
Look at where you get at the very end there. That was giving Michigan and Florida to Senator Clinton 55 to 45. You have them both still just short. He would ahead at this point. But if she can win any of these states by bigger margins, she can catch up. We can do a number of scenarios throughout the night. She can catch up to him in the pledged delegates, which would dramatically change the calculation and the conversation about the super delegates.
BLITZER: I want to remind our viewers, they can do this at home at CNNPolitics.com. They can walk through exactly what John was just doing.
All right, we're going to take a quick break. Much more of our coverage coming up from the CNN ELECTION CENTER right after this.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening.
To two big headlines tonight; sex and politics, the Eliot Spitzer scandal. And Barack Obama's win in the Mississippi primary. In politics, the two sides already spinning tonight's outcome. They are also already moving on, gearing up for Pennsylvania.
We'll be looking at the face-off in Mississippi. New details about why voters chose the way they did and how it could play in coming weeks.
We've also got new information about the Obama's campaign fear of a Florida redo. We'll also be focusing extensively tonight on new revelations about Eliot Spitzer's alleged encounters with prostitutes, including how much money he reportedly spent for sex. You may be surprised. It is more than most people make in a year.
We begin though with tonight's Democratic primary, 33 delegates at stake. Barack Obama heavily favored going in. Let's get a quick wrap-up from Wolf Blitzer.
BLITZER: Anderson, thanks.
It's no great surprise that Barack Obama carrying the Mississippi Democratic primary. Let's take a look at the actual numbers. Right now, 39 percent of the precincts are in; 55 percent for Barack Obama, 43 percent for Hillary Clinton. If we zoom in on the actual numbers, you can see, he's got 72,500 or so, to her 57,500 or so.
It's shaping up as a very impressive win for Barack Obama in the state of a Mississippi. If you take a look at the actual counties, the dark blue counties are those that are now counties leading with Barack Obama. The light blue counties, and there aren't all that many in Mississippi right now, those are the counties leading for Hillary Clinton.
It was not expected to go for Hillary Clinton. It is certainly not going to go for Hillary Clinton. But chalk up another win for Barack Obama in the state of Mississippi.
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