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Hillary Clinton in the Spotlight; Democrats Hungry For Red Meat

Aired August 26, 2008 - 18:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And it's happening now: decorum and political drama. It's day two at the Democrats' convention. Hillary Clinton soon takes the stage. What she says tonight could help decide Barack Obama's political fate.
Some Democrats hunger for red meat John McCain. Will tonight's keynote speaker, Mark Warner, whet their appetites? The best political team on television weighs in.

And perhaps you're stranded at an airport right now or worried about what's going on. We will have the latest on all those flight delays across the United States caused by an FAA communications breakdown.

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer at the Democratic Convention, and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN's live coverage of the Democratic National Convention.

BLITZER: Tonight will be one of the biggest of the entire Democratic Convention and among the biggest nights of Hillary Clinton's political life. Day two of this gathering has now started. Tonight, Senator Clinton will stand at the podium and speak as the world watches.

It's not the speech she certainly had hoped to give, but it will be the speech many Democrats feel she must give. And it could determine whether her supporters open their arms to Barack Obama or turn their backs.

I'm watching all of it from the convention floor. And I'm joined by the best political team on television.

our John King and Suzanne Malveaux, they are here.

But let's start with senior political correspondent, Candy Crowley. She's up on the podium.

Candy, this is going to be a very important night in the race for the White House.


And one of the interesting things about this, Wolf, as I look out here over the crowd, Hillary Clinton will be coming in right here behind me, up on this stage, and obviously, everyone is going to be focused on her, what is the body language, what is she saying, is this going to help bring her delegates along.

It seems to me it will be just equally as interesting to watch these delegates. Will there be a big demonstration? Will we talk to die-hards afterwards saying, no matter what, I'm still voting for her? So, it's not just what she says, but how she's received and what people think about it.

They also say around Hillary Clinton that a couple of things they hope that she accomplishes tonight and she hopes she accomplishes tonight, one, to be able to express her gratitude to her supporters, to recognize what they did for her, for the campaign, to recognize the entire effort, but also to say, if you voted for me because you want this, then you need to vote for Barack Obama.

I'm told that there will be contrasts. You can have this with John McCain, or you can have this with Barack Obama, a way to kind of, A, go after Barack Obama, and try to frame for delegates what their real choice is, that the choice is no longer Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama. The choice is now Barack Obama or John McCain.

So, that's the approach she's going to try to take tonight while at the same time embracing all those delegates who came here wanting to vote for her, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Candy, stand by. We're going to continue to watch what's going on.

One thing that's going on right now on the floor behind me, they're dancing, a great band here. The Democrats, they know how to party. They know how to rock 'n' roll. We are going to be showing all of this as this convention goes on.

One group that Senator Clinton and some other female senators will certainly court tonight are some of those key female voters out there.

Let's get some more on this part of the story with our chief national correspondent, John King. He's over at the magic map for us right now.

John, a very important part of the strategy unfolding.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A huge piece of the puzzle, Wolf.

As the Obama campaign looks at the polling, looks at the key battleground states across the country, they see one of their issues right now some would say is a weakness is what they call swing women voters. And they're mostly in suburbs and you find them in many of the key battleground states. And they are hoping that Senator Clinton's strong message tonight and the other speeches -- you don't see them all on television, but many of the female members of the United States senators are speaking at this convention, and they get coverage back in their home states.

Let's show you some of the place that this could matter. Here's our national electoral map right now. And I'm going to go back instead to this campaign map here and we're going to look at the 2004 election results and we will show you some battleground states. Where do suburban women matter? Well, they would matter very much here in the state of Pennsylvania. And we will bring in the county graphs to show you in here.

John Kerry was very successful down here around Philadelphia. But Barack Obama lost a couple of these counties to Hillary Clinton. And he needs big margins down here. This is one place where they acknowledge they have an issue.

Also in Pennsylvania, out here in the western suburbs around the Pittsburgh area down in here when you get outside of the city, it's the more midwestern areas. That's an area where Barack Obama hopes to improve his standing coming out of the committee -- convention -- excuse me.

Let's look at another important state, take this out, Ohio. Again, we talked about this a little bit earlier right up here. George W. Bush won Lake County. This is -- Cleveland is down here in Cuyahoga County. These suburbs up here are critical. George W. Bush just defeated John Kerry here last time. Barack Obama hopes to do better and suburban women are one of the keys there.

One more state we will look at, Wolf, as we come out to the national map here is the state of Missouri. This is a critical state. It's a bellwether state. Whoever wins Missouri generally goes on to be the president of the United States. And you have two key areas where you need to win in the suburbs. And you can come over this area here, take that off and bring this out a little bit.

This is Saint Louis County. Saint Louis City is in here. You have a big Democratic base here. But out in the suburbs out here, around in the collar, suburban collar around Saint Louis in a competitive election in Missouri, it is generally these suburbs that decide. Look at all that red, George W. Bush doing so well out in Missouri last time.

Saint Louis County won by John Kerry, but when you pull out to the entire state, won by George W. Bush largely because of his performance in those suburbs. And over this way, when you come over here, this is where you find it. Jackson County is Kansas City. The Democrats carry Jackson County. But, again, look out here in the suburban area around here. This is where Barack Obama needs to do better. They tend to be on the western part of Missouri, more conservative women in the suburbs, a big target audience, not just for Senator Clinton's speech, but for more of the message we're hearing tonight, Wolf, and throughout the convention.

BLITZER: All right, John, thanks very much. John is going to be with us throughout tonight here as we continue our coverage.

As Hillary Clinton serves some food for thought for Obama, some Democrats are hungry for a lot more red meat against John McCain. And many of them want someone to go on the attack. They're hoping tonight's keynote speaker will whet their appetite.

Let's go to Suzanne Malveaux. She's on the floor here at the convention.

Suzanne, what do we expect to hear from the keynoter, the former Virginia Governor Mark Warner? He's now running for the U.S. Senate from the Commonwealth of Virginia.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, there's a lot buzz around that, whether or not he's actually going to deliver. What does he need to say to bring this party together? A lot of people talking about the possibility that Hillary Clinton will overshadow his speech.

Remember, the last time, four years ago, who was in his position? That was none other than Barack Obama.


MALVEAUX: It can make for some very memorable moments.

GOV. WILLIAM JEFFERSON CLINTON (D), ARKANSAS: ... to nominate my friend Michael Dukakis for president of the United States.

MALVEAUX: The late Ann Richards.

GOV. ANN RICHARDS (D), TEXAS: Poor George. He was born with a silver foot in his mouth.


MALVEAUX: And don't forget who spoke in 2004.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), ILLINOIS: I say to you tonight, we have more work to do.

MALVEAUX: And this year, former Virginia governor Mark Warner. He was on Obama's short list of candidates for V.P. His home state, Virginia, is critical to Obama's strategy to win over former Republican strongholds.

He's billed his speech as bipartisan. Warner is making a bid for the U.S. Senate and needs to appeal to Independents and moderate Republicans. It's already frustrated some party activists who are calling for red meat.

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: He's running in a very red state of Virginia. He was a very bipartisan guy when he was governor. And it may be that to put him in a spot where the expectation is that he becomes very partisan may be unfair to Mark Warner.

MALVEAUX: But keynote or not, his speech may only be a footnote this year since all eyes will be on Hillary Clinton. And while she may not have the keynote title, she'll certainly be the speaker of note.


MALVEAUX: And, Wolf, one of the reasons why essentially he was flirting with the idea of V.P. for not only Warner, but also the current governor, Tim Kaine, is because the importance of Virginia. They really believe that there is a possibility that that could go to Barack Obama, to the Democrat.

And this hasn't happened in some four decades or so. That is why you see Warner is going to be up on stage. And it's not just what he says, but it really is the symbolism of seeing him up there that they hope is going to speak to Virginia voters, Virginia delegates -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Thanks very much, Suzanne. She is going to be on the floor here at the convention all night as well.

Let's go to Jack Cafferty right now. He's got "The Cafferty File."

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf, during these shaky economic times, a lot of Americans are betting on higher taxes no matter who the next president is.

A new Gallup poll shows 53 percent of those surveyed think Barack Obama will raise taxes -- 34 percent think John McCain will raise taxes. Both of these numbers are higher than what Americans expected from either John Kerry or George Bush the last time around.

What's especially interesting is that a substantial number of independents, that ever-important voting bloc, think their taxes will go up under either candidate. Now, Republican John McCain has pledged to renew President Bush's tax cuts. He likes them now, but he was opposed to them twice before while he was in the Senate.

However, after he promised not to raise taxes, remember that, McCain now says nothing can be ruled out in order to keep Social Security solvent. Bet on them raising taxes. As for the Democrat, Barack Obama, he said he will raise income taxes on the wealthiest Americans, but actually provide a tax cut to middle-class American families. Although more people think their taxes will go up under an Obama situation, they also think he is better equipped to handle the issue of taxes.

Gallup suggests this may be because a majority of Americans think that Obama's policies will tend to benefit the middle class and the poor most, while they think McCain's policies will benefit the wealthy.

Here's the question then. Are higher taxes inevitable with the next president? Here's a hint. Yes. Go to You can post a comment on my blog -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, thanks very much, Jack Cafferty.

Want to go to the podium right now. The Congressional Black Caucus is having a special tribute to Stephanie Tubbs Jones, the late congresswoman. She died of an aneurysm only last week. I want to listen in right now.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Today, we celebrate the life, leadership and legacy of our sister, friend, and colleague Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Chairwoman, yes, of the House Ethics Committee, Congresswoman Tubbs Jones was a trailblazer, the first African-American female to serve as Cuyahoga County prosecutor, the first African-American women to sit on the Ohio Common Pleas bench, the first African-American woman elected to the United States House of Representatives, and, yes, the first African-American woman appointed to the powerful House Ways and Means Committee.

She was also my friend. I will cherish her smile and cherish her faithful friendship. We were inspired by her enthusiasm, energy and passion. The mark she left on Ohio, Congress, America, and countless lives she touched is priceless.

Let us continue the work she started. Stephanie recognized that in this election, we stand at the crossroads of hope and change. She also recognized that, this November, only one candidate, Barack Obama, can deliver the change we so badly need.

So, let us continue the journey to the America bursting with equality, opportunity and prosperity for all.

To her son, Mervyn, too, her sister, Barbara...

BLITZER: A tribute to Stephanie Tubbs Jones, the congresswoman from Ohio, who spoke -- who unfortunately died tragically only last week.

We're here live at the convention, in Denver. We're watching what's going on. The big story tonight, Hillary Clinton, she will be addressing this group later tonight. We're getting ready for that.

There's other news we're following, including some massive airport delays, massive flight problems. The problem? A computer glitch. We will see which planes are finally getting off the ground.

And, as I said, Hillary Clinton, she's gearing up for her big speech at the convention tonight. We will stand by for that.

Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: We're here on the floor of the Democratic National Convention -- much more of our coverage from Denver right after this.


BLITZER: We're back here on the floor at the Democratic National Convention. CNN is the only cable news organization that is anchoring coverage right from the floor of the convention. We're in the middle of all the excitement.

Let's go down to the Louisiana delegation right now. That's where Jessica Yellin is standing by with a special guest.

Louisiana could be a battleground state, Jessica.

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It could, Wolf, and one reason that it's so important to Democrats to come together and unite there.

I'm standing here with Marie Renard, who is an Obama delegate from Louisiana.

You have some strong feelings about some of the Hillary Clinton delegates who don't want to vote for Obama. You think this is an excuse.

MARIE RENARD, LOUISIANA DELEGATE: Well I really feel that they are die-hard Democrats, and they don't want to say, I'm not voting for Obama. So, therefore, they're looking for an excuse not to vote for him by saying that they're being treated unfairly or Hillary's being treated unfairly.

I feel that the red carpet has been laid out, and I don't know what more could be done. However, had I been in their situation, had it been Barack, we probably would be doing the same thing. We would have that sense of entitlement also. So this is the way I feel about it.

YELLIN: Do you think there's a way to unite the party and bring these people in?

RENARD: The party is going to unite. After this convention is over, the party is going to come together. That's just like two kids fighting. Once momma has resolved that, and you try to go up against one of those kids after that fight, they want to fight you.

So, we're going to be united after this, but it's just the idea that we played marbles. Somebody lost, and they don't want to give up the sack of marbles. That's the way I feel.

YELLIN: Great. Thank you.

Wolf, back to you.

BLITZER: Thanks, Jessica, very much.

Let's check in with Carol. She's monitoring some other important stories incoming to THE SITUATION ROOM right now.

What's going on, Carol? CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Oh, Wolf, wow, what a mess at the airports and in the skies this afternoon. A computer glitch at a Federal Aviation Administration facility near Atlanta caused flight delays all across the country.

CNN's Jeanne Meserve is keeping tabs on things from Washington.

Jeanne, what can you tell all of the people who are stuck at the airport right now?

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: It's getting better, but the massive delays at some U.S. airports this afternoon caused by an internal software processing problem, according to an official with the Federal Aviation Administration, the failure prevented an FAA facility near Atlanta from processing flight plans.

Airlines then started refiling their flight plans. And that overloaded the other FAA facility where they're processed in Salt Lake City. The glitch caused delays as long as 90 minutes. All of the airports affected were from Dallas and Chicago eastward. Bad weather in some areas only made matters worse, hundreds of flights affected.

The FAA says about 5,000 flights were in the system when it went down at around 1:00 p.m. Eastern time, but flights that were airborne were not impacted. Officials stress there were no safety concerns, just inconvenience for those waiting to take off. There have been similar failures in the past, but the FAA official says today's was a different type. Hacking does not appear to have been a factor. The FAA says the system is getting back to normal nationwide, delays now looking minimal, they say -- Carol.

COSTELLO: And that is better news.


COSTELLO: Jeanne Meserve live from Washington.

Hurricane Gustav batters the Dominican Republic and Haiti. Right now, Gustav is a Category 1 storm, but forecasters say rapidly growing Gustav could soon become a Category 3 hurricane. And its projected path takes it into the Gulf of Mexico this weekend. Anyone on the U.S. Gulf Coast will want to keep a close eye on it.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will make an historic visit to Libya next month. She was in the West Bank Today meeting with the Palestinian president. Her trip to Libya follows the signing of a compensation deal for U.S. victims of Libyan terror attacks. Rice would be the highest ranking U.S. official to visit Libya in more than 30 years.

Drought and anti-drug campaigns are helping flash Afghanistan's opium poppy cultivation by 19 percent this year compared to 2007, but the U.N. says the country is by far the world's top heroin producer. And in the south, where the Taliban insurgency is strongest, well, the fields remain awash in poppies. The conflict over the Soviet Republic of Georgia -- or former, I should say -- has of course played into the presidential campaign. Cindy McCain is now in Georgia visiting refugees. And while she insists her intent is not to upstage the Democrats, her husband, John McCain, seems to want to steal some of the Democrats' thunder.


COSTELLO (voice-over): Cynics say the McCains' we're not elitist campaign is in full swing. On the same night Michelle Obama told the country of her humble roots...

MICHELLE OBAMA, WIFE OF SENATOR BARACK OBAMA: A mother who stayed at home with my brother and me.

COSTELLO: ... John McCain humbly hit "The Tonight Show."


JAY LENO, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO": Please welcome Senator John McCain, ladies and gentlemen.


COSTELLO: Invoking not his childhood, but his POW days to bring his image back down to earth.


LENO: For $1 million, how many houses do you have?


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I spent five- and-a-half years in a prison cell without -- I didn't have a house. I didn't have a kitchen table. I didn't have a table.


COSTELLO: His wife, Cindy, was also busy traveling from Arizona to the Republic of Georgia visiting refugees along with the United Nations, sitting down with President Saakashvili for lunch, and insisting her visit had nothing at all to do with that party in Denver.

CINDY MCCAIN, WIFE OF SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN: I know one of your questions is, did I do this because it's during the Democratic National Convention? But the answer is no.

COSTELLO: Conveniently timed or not, analysts say the trip can only help.

LARRY SABATO, DIRECTOR, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA CENTER FOR POLITICS: McCain's candidacy has been revived in part because of the Russian invasion of Georgia. So, anything McCain can do to keep that in the news probably helps his candidacy. COSTELLO: And the ensuing media attention can only help Cindy McCain, too.

ROBERT ZIMMERMAN, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Cindy McCain wants to be able to demonstrate that she's not just some extraordinarily rich woman, but that she has a social agenda and a cause. And, in fact, to her credit, she does have one.

COSTELLO: Her many trips now featured prominently on John McCain's Web site. There she is in Rwanda to help feed the poor. There she is in Vietnam helping disfigured children, and, in Kosovo, monitoring the mine fields.


COSTELLO: And John McCain praised his wife's trip in a news release on the tension between the United States and Russia, saying he is proud of Cindy's humanitarian efforts in the war-torn country of Georgia.

But the Democratic Convention is all abuzz about Senator Hillary Clinton. She takes to the stage just a few hours from now, her supporters anxiously waiting to hear what she has to say. CNN's Jessica Yellin has a preview.

John McCain, he is the elephant in the convention room. Democrats so far are staying relatively mum about their political opponent. Why the silent treatment?

And tonight's keynote speaker, former Virginia Governor Mark Warner, not exactly a household name, so why did he get this high- profile spot?


BLITZER: To our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Happening now: new details emerging on the story that sent chills through this Democratic Convention, a possible, repeat possible, plot against Barack Obama. We're getting new information from a police news conference right now. Stand by. Joe Johns covering the story.

Also, it will be the most closely-watched speech of the night. What does Hillary Clinton need to say to get her supporters behind Barack Obama once and for all?

And the former Virginia Governor Mark Warner, he is giving the keynote speech tonight. What could he do for Barack Obama? All of this, plus the best political team on television.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN's live coverage of the Democratic National Convention.

BLITZER: Hillary Clinton's highly-anticipated speech to the Democratic Convention now only a few hours away. And while it won't be the speech she had hoped to give as the party's presidential nominee, it could be just as important to the party's chances of victory in November, lots riding on what she says tonight.

Let's get a preview from Jessica Yellin. She's out there on the floor.

What can we expect, Jessica?

YELLIN: Wolf, those who are involved in crafting this speech tell us that she will have two main goals tonight. She is going to go after John McCain and she's going to call on her supporters to support Barack Obama now.


YELLIN (voice-over): In just a few hours, Senator Clinton will stand behind this podium and make the case....

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: We are united, and we are together, and we are determined.

YELLIN: But many of Clinton's supporters aren't there yet.

CROWD: Let the delegates vote! Let the delegates vote!

YELLIN: At least 1,600 delegates came to the convention to vote for Hillary Clinton. And they haven't come around. Tonight she'll call on them to rally behind Barack Obama.

TERRY MCAULIFFE, FORMER CLINTON CAMPAIGN CHAIRMAN: She's going to talk about what John McCain will mean for this country and how we can't allow him to be president. So, you know, she's going to give I believe one of the speeches of her lives (sic) tonight.

YELLIN: Those involved in the process say the speech will leave no doubt that Clinton wants Obama to win, and, they say, it will please the Obama campaign. Still, the Clinton camp says, Senator Clinton cannot deliver every voter.

MO ELLEITHEE, FORMER CLINTON CAMPAIGN SPOKESMAN: I think absolutely we will come out of this convention as a unified party. That's not to say that every single person that supported Hillary Clinton is going to be 100 percent on board. I think, you know, the vast majority will, and there's still some work that needs to be done. I don't think anyone pretends there isn't.


YELLIN: And, Wolf, I spoke to Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, one of Senator Clinton's most impassioned supporters, spoke to him this afternoon.

And he said he believes she is going to knock it out of the park this evening. He is convinced Clinton will give an ardent endorsement of Barack Obama. He also said, come Election Day, he predicts 95 percent of Clinton's current supporters will cast a -- quote -- "tepid vote" for Barack Obama. He made the point a tepid vote counts just as much as any other -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Jessica is in the Arkansas delegation, where Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton, for that matter, they lived for a long time.

All right, thanks very much, Jessica, for that.

Let's talk a little bit more about this big speech tonight.

Joining us, our own Jack Cafferty; our senior political analyst, Gloria Borger; Christian Broadcasting Network senior national correspondent, David Brody; and our chief national correspondent, John King. They're all part of the best political team on television.

What do you expect, Jack, that we will hear or we will see from Hillary Clinton tonight?

CAFFERTY: Well, there's no way of knowing. And I think she's going to probably say all the right things.

The question is whether she brings it or not. You know, there's speeches and there's speeches. And if you bring the passion and the emotion, that's communicated to the audience.

Kennedy last night, just terrific. I mean I don't know where he got the energy to be that compelling and that dramatic, but he brought it.

She's been saying the right things for weeks. I'm not sure if everybody is believing she means it.

And the other part of this is there's a group -- probably a small one -- that's not going to vote for Barack Obama because they're steamed that Hillary didn't get the nomination. And I'm not sure there's anything she can say to change their minds. But I don't think that's a big bunch of people.

BLITZER: What do you think, Gloria?

What does she need to do tonight and can she do it?

GLORIA BORGER, SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, she's going to thank her supporters, of course. But she can start outlining the differences between Barack Obama and John McCain. And she's going to say, look, if you believe in these things that I believe in, there is no way you can possibly support John McCain.

BLITZER: So she'll take off the gloves and go after John McCain?

BORGER: I think Hillary Clinton will do that because she has to talk to those supporters and say the choice is very clear, and let me be clear to you about where I stand.

DAVID BRODY, CHRISTIAN BROADCASTING NETWORK: I'm going to watch a little bit tonight as to whether or not she says Joe Biden was a great choice to be vice president. It will be interesting to see if she says that. You know, we've heard...

BLITZER: She issued a statement when he was named...

BRODY: A statement.

BLITZER: A very favorable statement.

BRODY: That's right, a statement. Saying it in the Pepsi Center on a very important night will be an interesting and different context.

In a way, though, the damage may already be done to a certain extent because the McCain camp has the YouTube clips from the primary and they're going after those 20 to 30 percent voters that are out there that are disgruntled.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: She will talk about Joe Biden and she will say Obama/Biden is a much better choice than McCain on health care, on the economy, on other issues.

Wolf, I don't think the question is how so much it plays in this hall.


KING: Most of these people are dedicated Democratic Party activists. Most of them, even if they still have a grudge or hard feelings, I would bet 99 percent of them are going to pull the Democratic lever come November.

The question is, what about those people in Southeast Ohio and in Western Pennsylvania and Eastern Pennsylvania, in the Steel Belt?

Many of them have voted Republican before in November. They're the old Reagan began Democrats. Those are the people who will be the key voters.

And can she sway them?

This will be a start. But I think she'll bring her A game tonight. She understands how important it is.

BORGER: It's also those undecided voters, those women. Women are late deciders in elections, generally. And she speaks to women. And she's going to speak to women tonight.


BORGER: And that's going to be important, too.

BLITZER: And there are some -- and she still has some disgruntled women supporters...


BLITZER: ...who aren't yet convinced Barack Obama is the guy. All right, stand by, guys. We're going to continue this.

Noticeably absent from the Democratic Convention, at least so far, a lot of McCain bashing. Very little mention of the Republican rival at all, at least last night.

Will that change tonight?

We expect it will.

Also, police updating reporters right now on that possible plot against Barack Obama right here in Denver. Joe Johns standing by with details for you.

We'll be right back.


BLITZER: The governor of New York, David Paterson, he just unleashed his own attack on John McCain. Stand by. We'll show you and let you hear what he had to say, right after this.


GOV. DAVID PATERSON (D), NEW YORK: Which of the candidates will make the change that will restore the promise of America?

Will it be -- is it John McCain?




PATERSON: I'm shocked. Maybe that's because John McCain continues to claim that President Bush's policies have been great for the economy. In 2007, John McCain voted with the administration 95 percent of the time. So if he's the answer, the question must be ridiculous.


BLITZER: Something we haven't heard a lot from -- at this Democratic convention -- at least not yet -- McCain bashing. David Paterson, the governor of New York, he didn't mince any words just a few moments ago.

Jack Cafferty, did the Democrats miss an opportunity last night, in their first night, to go after John McCain or George W. Bush, for that matter?

CAFFERTY: Well, it's a four-night party. And last night was Michelle Obama and Ted Kennedy. They could have done something for the first two hours besides bore me to tears. And I don't know, you know, how the rest of the nation stood up under that first couple of hours. It didn't seem to me that they had too much programmed into there. But, you know, there's time to get after McCain. Hillary could do a little of that tonight. I know they're going to have Warner on to do the keynote, as a kind of a bone that they're throwing to Virginia. They think they've got a chance -- the Democrats -- to carry Virginia this time.

And they're going to have Warner on and it's the keynote address. And ordinarily, that's a big attention getter. But tonight he's sort of like the warm-up act for Elvis. I mean it's like sing your song and get off and get Presley on here. That would be Hillary.

KING: John -- John King, Mark Warner -- he wants to be the next U.S. senator from Virginia, succeeding John Warner -- no relation. He's got to appeal to a lot of moderate Republicans, Independents. You're not going to hear, I guess, a whole lot of bashing of the Republicans and John McCain from him tonight.

KING: No, you're not. I talked to an Obama campaign official earlier and I just received an e-mail from our Dana Bash, who just spoke to an associate of Mark Warner, who says anyone who is expecting red meat from him -- raw red meat -- is going to come away disappointed.

He will make an important contrast. Remember, Mark Warner made his money in the telecommunications business. He was an early pioneer in the cell phone industry -- the mobile phone industry. And he's going to make an economic contrast. Saying he believes the economic policies of McCain would be a continuation of Bush and would be bad for the country.

So you will get a policy contrast. You're not going to get red meat from Mike Warner.

You will get it from Hillary tonight. And, importantly, Wolf, we're getting it from a lot of these governors today. You mentioned David Paterson, but you also had the governor of Pennsylvania, Ohio. You had -- the governor of Michigan will speak and way out in Montana.

In the battleground states, they don't get national TV attention as much. But they are getting covered back in their home states. And those speeches from the governors have been pretty feisty.

BRODY: And that's interesting because let's talk about it. The Obama campaign is controlling all of this, right?

And so they have been talking all the time about appealing to red staters, appealing to moderate Democrats -- potentially moderate Independents out there. They need to set a tone in this convention that it's not just about red meat and getting this crowd fired up.

How does it play in Peoria?

It's very important. Look it, Bob Casey is going to be on tonight, a pro-life Democrat, which we really haven't talked much about.

BLITZER: The governor of Pennsylvania.

BRODY: That's right. I mean this is obviously orchestrated to say hey, listen, we need to broaden the appeal a little bit. And, you know, in 2006, they made gains because they were able to get some pro- life Democrats and some moderate Democrats in -- elected into the House of Representatives.

BORGER: But, you know, to answer the original question, I mean I think last night was the first step. They wanted to cross the threshold, to tell people who Barack Obama is.

And I think they feel -- you know, talking to people who work for the Obama campaign, it's clear to me that they did some focus groups in those 18 battleground states -- and then Michelle Obama did quite well in those focus groups -- that there's now a sense that you understand the Obama family. Now we're moving on to step two, which is to understand how he's different from John McCain.

BRODY: Plus, would you want red meat last night or would you want the hi, Daddy moment?

And, obviously, the hi, Daddy moment is what -- you have to be -- that has to be the takeaway last night.

BLITZER: You know, as important, Jack, as these polls are -- national polls, we're getting these statewide polls these battleground states. And it's getting pretty close out there in Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio, within relative margins of error. So that's where this race is going to -- when all the dust settles on November 4th -- is going to be settled.

CAFFERTY: Yes. This is more in your wheelhouse than mine, but there's a conventional wisdom about Ohio, Florida and Pennsylvania, that if Obama wins either one or two of them, he's the next president, if the rest of the electoral map goes together as we think it will.

Which is it, one or two, Wolf?

BLITZER: Let's ask John King.

What do you think?

KING: The Democrats think if they can win two of those three, definitely.

CAFFERTY: If they win two of the three.

KING: Two of those three.

CAFFERTY: But he's got a...

KING: Two of the three...

CAFFERTY: He's got a...

KING: Because the Republicans... CAFFERTY: He's got a...

KING: Go ahead, Jack.

CAFFERTY: ...a significant lead in Pennsylvania, right. And -- but it's very close in both Florida and Ohio at this point so.

BORGER: I don't think it's that -- I don't think it's as significant, Jack...

CAFFERTY: Seven points is...

BORGER: they would like it to be, honestly.

CAFFERTY: Seven points is outside the margin of error.


BORGER: You know, Governor Rendell was up here last night. I saw him this morning. He thinks Barack Obama -- not just Joe Biden, but Barack Obama personally needs to go out and campaign in rural areas in Pennsylvania himself, because they're not convinced yet.

KING: But it's still advantaged to Obama in this race. But the last month has been McCain's month. Small progress, but significant.

BORGER: Right.

BLITZER: All right, guys, don't go away. We have a lot more coverage coming up.

But I want to get to a story right now, an important story that's causing quite a stir here in Denver. It's a possible -- and let me repeat the word possible -- plot against Barack Obama.

Investigators have just updated reporters, including our own Joe Johns, who is there -- Joe, what are we learning about this possible plot?

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, this story pretty much tracks with what we've been hearing over the last 18, 24 hours from sources. That is that authorities picked up, arrested three people over the weekend. As you know, they were charged with various drugs and weapons violations.

And beyond that, it's quite clear that there has been some talk among these people about a threat to Barack Obama.

Now, the important thing to say right here at the outset is that authorities do not believe that threat to be credible.

Let us listen now to the United States attorney for this district in Colorado, in the Denver area, who held a news conference just a little while ago, who sort of underscores that point.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TROY EID, U.S. ATTORNEY: There is no credible threat right now and there was no credible threat, based on the evidence that we have, to Senator Obama or anybody else related to what we know about in this case.

So -- yes?


JOHNS: Now, this all started when a man was driving erratically here in the Denver area. He was driving a rented pickup truck. Authorities stopped that pickup truck. They found inside two firearms, including a rifle with a scope. They also found a bulletproof vest. They found walkie-talkies, various other items. And they began to do some questioning.

Meanwhile, according to this affidavit, which has been released through the United States attorney's office, apparently an unnamed informant -- a woman -- told the Secret Service and a sergeant with the Colorado State Police that it was her understanding that there was some type of threat that had been made against Senator Obama and these individuals who had been arrested were involved with that threat.

Now, the caveats here are that these individuals, authorities say, are heavily involved in methamphetamine. Therefore, the things they have said to authorities or to each other may not be credible. They may have just been talking out of their heads on drugs.

That's basically the story -- Wolf, back to you.

BLITZER: All right.

You'll stay on top of it for us.

Whenever you hear those words possible plot against any of these presidential candidates or a president, obviously, very nervous. Secret Service officers and agents, they're working this story. And we'll get more information as we get it and we'll share it with our viewers.

With Barack Obama and the Democratic Party in the spotlight this week, the Republican Party is going in the offensive online with a new Web site countering this Democratic convention.

Abbi is working that story for us -- Abbi, what's on the Web site?

ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Wolf, these are Democratic speeches you are not going to be seeing at the convention this week. This new Republican Party Web site NotReady'08, they've got an archive video wall of footage from the primaries -- Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden -- questioning Barack Obama's experience. And then on another wall, you've got those same faces -- snippets of them praising John McCain.

Take a listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOSEPH BIDEN (D), PRESUMPTIVE VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: John McCain is a personal friend, a great friend, and I would be honored to run with or against John McCain, because I think the country would better off -- be well off no matter who. And I mean



TATTON: This is an effort by the Republican National Committee to counter program against all this material that's coming out of Denver this week.

And the Democrats say they've got their own plans in the works for next week in St. Paul. A spokesperson for the Democratic National Committee saying that they're going to be online and on the ground in St. Paul next week for the Republican convention -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Abbi, thank you.

Let's go back to Jack for the Cafferty File -- Jack.

CAFFERTY: With $9.5 trillion in debt and a $500 billion deficit for next year, the question is are higher taxes inevitable, regardless of who the next president is?

T. writes: "They teach you in the first 10 minutes of undergrad finance class that revenue needs to exceed expenses. Apparently, George Bush missed that day of school when getting his MBA of Harvard. This in order to shore up the increase in expenses under the Bush administration, whoever is the next president will have to increase taxes or significantly cut expenses."

Rob writes: "As a fiscal conservative, I hope taxes go up. Since neither party has the guts to lower spending, the only option is to raise the money to pay the bills. A fiscal conservative believes in paying the bills when they come due -- not putting them on a Chinese credit card."

Ted in New Jersey writes: "Isn't it obvious? By funding tax cuts for the rich and delusional wars, by borrowing money from China, the Bush Republicans raised taxes on the one entity that couldn't object -- they raised taxes on our future."

Brady in Texas says: "Of course, it's inevitable that taxes will go up for somebody. The question really is do we want to raise taxes on the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans or would we rather see middle class citizens struggling under proportionally higher taxes?"

Eli writes: "The policies of the Bush administration have ensured that either candidate promising to deliver fiscal responsibility must do the right thing. As a 19-year-old, the responsible thing to do is pay off our debt. Our debt as a nation is a greater national security threat to our economy than global terrorism." And Joe writes: "Will my taxes go up no matter who is elected in November? Will the sun rise in the East tomorrow? Of course, it will."

If you didn't see your e-mail here, you can go to my blog at and look for yours there among hundreds of others -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Jack. We will.

The minutes are ticking down to tonight's most anticipated speeches. And you can't help but notice all the music that's been playing here at the Democratic Convention.

They like to party here, these Democrats.

And our Jeanne Moos couldn't help but notice all the dancing that music inspires.

Watch this.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): We expect Democratic delegates to dance. But when there pundits let loose...


(SINGING) Do you remember...

MOOS: ... It can only mean Earth, Wind and Fire has swept the convention center.


MOOS: CNN's Roland Martin wasn't just snapping.

MARTIN (SINGING): Ah. Ah. Ah. Ah-de-ah.

MOOS: He was doing some fancy clapping. While political analysts Paul Begala and Donna Brazile were supplying their own moves to analyze.


MOOS: So special that Roland combined finger jabs with Blackberrying, grabbed a passerby...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are we getting this on tape?

MOOS: ... And made a lot of points that weren't political.

With an unconventional moment, I'm Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.



SEN. DENNIS KUCINICH (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: the expense of the many. Every day...


BLITZER: A Democratic Congressman from Ohio speaking.


KUCINICH: ...we get the color orange while the oil companies, the insurance companies, the speculators, the war contractors get the color green.

Wake up America.

Now, this is not a call for you to take a new direction from right to left. This is a call for you to go from down to up. Up with the rights of workers, up with wages, up with fair trade, up with creating millions of good paying jobs, rebuilding your bridges, our water system, our sewage system, our ports.

Up with creating millions of sustainable energy jobs to lower the cost of energy, lower carbon emissions and protect the environment.

Up with health care for all. Up with education for all. Up with home ownership. Up with guaranteed retirement benefits. Up with peace. Up with prosperity. Up with the Democratic Party. Up with Obama-Biden.

Wake up America.

Wake up America.

Wake up America.



BLITZER: It was a short speech, but he certainly did whip up this crowd here in Denver. Dennis Kucinich, who himself ran for the Democratic presidential nomination, didn't do very well. But he certainly did excite this crowd here on this evening.

We're getting ready for lots of speakers, including the culmination of tonight will be Hillary Clinton. Stand by for that.

We're here with the best political team on television.

Campbell Brown has come in.

She's joining us -- welcome, Campbell.

Good to have you here.


BLITZER: You can always count on Dennis Kucinich to liven things up.

BROWN: I know. And there were a few calls last night for a little more red meat in some of the speeches. So he was definitely delivering and getting people pretty fired up.

BLITZER: You already know Dennis Kucinich can do it. If he can't do it, no one can do it, Gloria.

BORGER: That's his job. It was his job during the campaign to do that, too, Wolf, remember?


So I think this is a pretty receptive crowd here.

BLITZER: Is this, tonight, going to be different, Donna, than last night?

DONNA BRAZILE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Look, Wolf, the first night is about laying down theme. Tonight, the Democrats will lay down the gauntlet. They will clearly tell the country why it's important not just to elect Barack Obama, But why it's important not to put John McCain, because he represents four more years of the same.

BLITZER: So there will be the combination of the positive and the negative going against the Republicans.

BRAZILE: That is absolutely right. Tonight you will see Democrats take out their Tabasco. It's going to get hot in here tonight.

BLITZER: How hot do you think it will get, John?

KING: It's going to get very hot if you look at the advanced copies of some of the speeches. We have not seen Senator Clinton's yet, Hillary Clinton's tonight. But we're told she will be very forceful, very aggressive in making the case against John McCain and saying all of her supporters need to support Barack Obama.

If you look at many of the big battleground state governors speaking tonight, they, mostly on the economy, go after John McCain; on energy, as well.

But, Wolf, it's a delicate balance for the Democrats because this crowd wants more red meat. But much of the country -- the Independent voters, the swing voters -- don't know a lot about Barack Obama yet and they want to know, I want change, too, but what does change mean?

What does it mean for me?

What specifically will you do for my life?

So, as always, you have the mix of pleasing the people in the hall and communicating the message that is most critical to the Americans who aren't here, sort of the key voters come November.

BLITZER: I think John makes a good point, Campbell, because the more -- sometimes what feels great inside this stadium -- 20,000 people are here. They're going to love it. But to people watching on television in Ohio and Missouri, in Nevada, some of these people say I'm not so sure I feel comfortable with all that.

BROWN: And that's been one of the criticisms that I think you've heard from that constituency that people say Barack Obama hasn't connected with, especially working class voters, which is he isn't given enough nuts and bolts in terms of what he's going to do on the economy. There have been these big thematic speeches. But I think what we have been hearing from a lot of people is that we are going to hear a little bit more from that, as John mentioned, from some of these governors -- get into some of the specifics in terms of economic policy and what the Democratic Party really intends to do.

BORGER: Well, you know, and former Governor Mark Warner, who will be giving the keynote address tonight -- although he really is just the warm-up for Hillary Clinton -- is a moderate governor of a battleground state. BLITZER: Former governor.

BORGER: Former governor, sorry -- known -- running for the Senate, known to be someone who can work across party lines.

So, as Dana Bash just reported before, he is not going to deliver the red meat to people in this arena. But he is going to speak to the viewers, saying, look, Democrats can work across party lines to get things done.

BLITZER: All right, stand by, guys, because Jessica Yellin is out on the floor -- all right, Jessica, there's some unfinished business involving petitions on the floor and Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

What's going on?

YELLIN: Wolf, I have a little bit of news. A group of Hillary Clinton supporters has just started circulating these petitions, trying to get Hillary delegates to sign up and say that they want to be sure that there is a full and complete roll call vote for Senator Clinton. They do not want an abbreviated vote where it's cut off and done by acclimation.

I'm here with Aaron Paz -- tell me -- from Texas.

Why is it so important to you that she get this full vote?

AARON PAZ, TEXAS DELEGATE: You know, this is an historic election. Hillary needs to make sure that her 18 million voices are heard across the country. And, you know, this is a symbolic vote that was promised to us. You know, we're not -- we're not trying to, you know, pull a fast one or anything. This is just to make sure that we get an official roll call vote, like they promised to us. And that -- and we're getting a little bit nervous that that might not be the case. So us Hillary delegates, we're getting -- some of us are getting nerves. There's about 15 signature gatherers that are on the floor trying to do a last second attempt to force a roll call ballot in case -- you know, in case the campaign did -- Obama's campaign or both campaigns decide, oh, well, you know, let's go ahead and just get to the 2,200 and the minimum Obama needs and then the rest of you, acclimation or a voice call vote or something.

That's not what was promised to us. What was promised is that we were going to get our historic vote, to make sure that every Hillary -- 18 million voters across the country that voted for Hillary get to officially record it at -- for history at this convention.

And I'm representing 35,000 El Paso Democrats -- Hillary Democrats. And they expect me to do this. So I've got to make sure that we get -- I've got to try make sure that we -- that their voices are heard.

And all I'm -- again, what I'm trying to do is make sure that what they promised to us is given...

YELLIN: Is delivered.

Thank you, Aaron.

And so far, Aaron's told me, Wolf, that he's gotten more yeses than nos. But they're not there yet and they are continuing to work. They have, I think, a little over an hour to get to that maximum number they need to qualify for this guaranteed roll call vote -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Thanks very much for that.

You know, it's interesting, as we're looking toward tonight, Campbell, one of the things that's going to come up -- and I think it's going to be sort of dramatic -- a whole bunch of women U.S. senators -- they're going to be speaking relatively quickly, one after another, starting with Barbara Mikulski of Maryland; Debbie Stabenow of Michigan. And we're going to listen to what they have to say because tonight is a special night that these Democrats are trying to reassure women voters out there that they need to vote Democratic.