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THE SITUATION ROOM

Obama Nomination Will Alter History; Bill Clinton's Speech; Reaction to Hillary Clinton

Aired August 27, 2008 - 16:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And happening now, history calls, but will it be placed on hold at the Democratic convention? Barack Obama will do something never before done, but only after Hillary Clinton grabs some of the spotlight.
Senator John Kerry will be watching. I'll ask the last Democratic presidential nominee if he thinks Barack Obama can do what he could not.

And as the Democrats title this night "Securing America's Future," John McCain says Obama is not the man who will do it. You'll see his new attack ad.

And go behind enemy lines in the Republican war room.

I'm Wolf Blitzer at the Democratic National Convention. And you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Moments from now, America's history will be forever changed. Barack Obama, formally will become the nominee of the Democratic Party, the first African-American to do so. But history will have to wait a little bit longer, as Hillary Clinton makes history herself.

The vote that will hand Obama the nomination, called a roll call vote, begins shortly here on the floor of this convention. Delegates who support Hillary Clinton will be able to vote for her, putting her among the few women ever to see her name in nomination. But that vote could be cut off at some point to avoid a potential public relations nightmare.

We're here on the convention floor watching all the drama unfold, along with the best political team on television.

Let's start with our senior political correspondent, Candy Crowley.

Candy, what are you hearing about Hillary Clinton showing up soon at this convention as the roll call gets under way?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Right now Hillary Clinton is meeting with her delegation. That is the New York delegation. It is at that point that she will release them.

She will say, I am going to vote for Barack Obama. I'm not going to tell you how to vote. But you are free to vote the way you want. What we expect to occur here tonight is there will be two nominating speeches for Hillary Clinton, three for Barack Obama. Very important to Hillary Clinton that her name be placed in nomination.

There will be the start of the roll call vote, remembering, of course, that these delegations are now filling out their paper ballots. The announcement of those results will come in that, you know, "Mr. Chairman from the great state of..." But at some point, that roll call vote will be truncated.

There will be a call for a vote by acclimation. That is, let us all agree it's Barack Obama.

Before that, we are told what will happen is, they will go out of alphabetical order. Some of the swing states may be asked to put their votes into the records. So they will go out of order.

We believe, and there has been negotiations about this, and we're not quite sure at this point how they came out, we believe it will be Hillary Clinton who will ask for the acclimation. If not, there is someone who will ask for the acclimation for Barack Obama. So we will not get the full oral roll call of states, although, again, they have already voted by paper ballot.

So, that's what we expect to occur here today. We know, for instance, that New Jersey, which voted for Hillary Clinton, that those delegates have all agreed to cast their votes for Barack Obama. So in New Jersey, it may be that they go to New Jersey to say that.

So we will see at the end of this night Barack Obama as the official nominee. But again, very, very important to Hillary Clinton's supporters, and to the candidate herself, that her name be placed in nomination for the history of it, but they don't want to spoil this night. They don't want to have a big floor fight. So thus, the truncated roll call vote where they will then call for acclimation -- Wolf.

BLITZER: So the end result basically is known, Candy. That's what you're saying. But the drama will be on how they get there and whether or not there will be any lingering ill will or bad feelings as to how they do so?

CROWLEY: Well, certainly there are going to be people who will cast their votes, and indeed on the paper ballots already have. But this was conceived and this was negotiated between the Clinton and the Obama camps.

It was conceived as this sort of final act of unity. Yes, her name should be put in nomination. Yes, we should then call for an acclimation that it be Barack Obama.

So this has been choreographed as far as they can choreograph it. But as you know, even in a room full of 4,500 delegates, 10 delegates can cause a ruckus. So we don't know to that extent what the delegates will do. We do know that this deal has been worked out, which they hope will allow both history to take place for Hillary Clinton's nomination, but that the end result will be the picture of unity -- Wolf.

BLITZER: And don't forget, these are Democrats. You make a good point about you never know what's going to be happening.

And Candy, I want to let our viewers know, we're going to be carrying it live right here. You don't need to go anywhere else. You'll see this historic roll call unfold. And every inch of it, every second of it right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

So I want our viewers to stand by for that. That's coming up.

And one night after Hillary Clinton heaped praise on Barack Obama, and some red meat against John McCain, Bill Clinton also getting ready to take the stage here tonight. It will be the first time for him to praise Barack Obama publicly on a magnitude of this scale. But after a bitter primary, what Bill Clinton will say is anyone's guess.

CNN's Suzanne Malveaux, she's here on the floor.

And I know you're doing a lot of reporting on this, Suzanne. What do we expect?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, I've actually learned that Bill Clinton's speechwriting team, some of his advisers, essentially told to stand by, because essentially Bill Clinton really has his hands all over this speech, writing it himself. Largely -- as you know, Wolf, covering him, he likes to write in longhand. So he's been doing a lot of changes, a lot of script changes here. This is very important to him.

What we're going to hear from Bill Clinton tonight, he's going to talk about the importance of prosperity in this country, how it's related to national security. And he's going to make the case, despite the primaries, that he believes Barack Obama is ready for the job.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MALVEAUX (voice-over): Tonight it's Bill Clinton's turn. His job, to gracefully pass the torch.

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: And those are the reasons I support Barack Obama for president.

(APPLAUSE)

MALVEAUX: Hillary Clinton set the stage the night before, but close associates of the Clintons say this night may be even tougher for Bill. They say the former president has been hurt and occasionally angry at what he perceives as slights from Barack Obama and his campaign.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I can't tell who I'm running against sometimes. MALVEAUX: The feeling from the Obama side is mutual. During the primary season, Clinton called Obama's position on Iraq a fairy-tale and compared Obama's success in South Carolina to Jesse Jackson's. Both camps accused the other of playing the race card.

WILLIAM JEFFERSON CLINTON, FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They both said that Hillary was right and the people who attacked her were wrong, and that she did not play the race card, but they did.

MALVEAUX: The heat and the rhetoric has since cooled. Friends say the two days of convention primetime for the Clintons has helped heal some of the hurt feelings for the former first couple. Tonight, Bill Clinton will stress foreign policy, making the case that Obama is the only candidate who can restore the U.S. standing in the world.

And while closing a chapter for the Democratic power couple, the "Comeback Kid" and the former candidate could still be a formidable force in the future.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MALVEAUX: So, Wolf, friends say do not count the Clintons out. They could very well be back. But tonight it is all about Bill Clinton passing the torch to Barack Obama -- Wolf.

BLITZER: It's a good rule of thumb, never count the Clintons out of anything.

Suzanne, stand by.

We're also getting word right now about the Obama campaign's reaction to Hillary Clinton's address last night. Jessica Yellin's working this part of the story.

And Jessica, I understand you're getting some new information?

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, it's more a sense of the mood out there. You know, Senator Clinton's reaction here in the room was overwhelmingly positive. It was as though her speech was unassailable.

And the Obama campaign has publicly said they were very pleased with it. It's a sign of unity in the party. But privately, some well-placed Obama supporters are fuming about the speech.

I've spoken to a few personally. I'm give you one example.

A donor I talked to, an Obama donor, says he was praising Clinton's speech this morning in a group of Obama donors, and they said, "I wouldn't say that too loudly." People here think -- meaning the Obama donors -- that she didn't praise Barack Obama directly enough, she didn't talk enough about Barack Obama, and that she could have drawn out this distinction about how she now thinks that he is ready to lead on day one.

I just don't want to overstate this. This certainly is not the overwhelming message that the campaign is putting out. But I am getting signs that despite the Democratic Party's embrace of her speech last night, there's still some discontent, a sign of tension between these two camps -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Jessica. What about Barack Obama's running mate, Joe Biden? He's also set to give a huge speech tonight, accepting the Democratic vice presidential nomination.

YELLIN: Expect Biden to emphasize his working class values and the national security credentials he brings to this ticket.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SEN. JOE BIDEN (D), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I apologize for getting a little emotional, but...

YELLIN (voice-over): Senator Joe Biden isn't terribly shy about showing his emotions.

BIDEN: You know, this is a great honor. It's a great honor being nominated vice president of the United States. And it is an honor.

YELLIN: But tonight he's got to play the tough guy who Obama has described this way...

OBAMA: He's an expert on foreign policy whose heart and values are firmly rooted in the middle class.

YELLIN: Expect Biden to deliver a speech that will focus the campaign's message on the reasons Americans are safer with Barack Obama in office. A message like the one he delivered in Springfield.

BIDEN: You can't change America and end this war in Iraq when you declare -- and again, these are John's words -- "No one has supported President Bush in Iraq more than I have." You can't change America when you know your first four years as president will look exactly like the last eight years of George Bush's presidency.

YELLIN: Also expect him to talk about his working class values and paint a picture of himself as a regular Joe.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

YELLIN: Now, Wolf, I'm told that Biden has spent this day with his family and put final touches on the speech, which is group says he wrote himself in longhand over the last 72 hours -- Wolf.

BLITZER: We'll be of course carrying that speech later tonight as well.

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

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: If somebody in the Obama camp doesn't turn this into a campaign slogan, they're not as smart as I thought they were: "No way, no how, no McCain." With those words, Hillary Clinton hit one out of the park last night for Barack Obama. John King got it right, right after the speech. He said, Clinton's a "big-game player, and this was a big- game speech."

It might have been the best speech she's ever given, calling for party unity and for her 18 million supporters, the sisterhood of the traveling pantsuits -- I like that -- to back Obama in November. One of her better lines was, "We don't need four more years of the last eight years."

Clinton also lashed out at McCain on the economy, health care, Social Security.

Can we kill the sound in the background while I'm reading this, please? Thank you.

It makes sense George Bush and John McCain will be together next week in the twin cities because these days they're awfully hard to tell apart.

Joe Biden turned out to be bounceless in the polls, but Barack Obama might get a bounce from Hillary. It was interesting in her speech that Clinton said she was honored to be there at the convention last night as a proud mother, a Democrat, senator, American, and Obama supporter.

Her husband was looking on in the audience. She made no mention of being a proud wife.

Hillary Clinton plans to attend Obama's acceptance speech at INVESCO Field tomorrow night, but her husband is reportedly not going to be there. Bill Clinton will speak tonight. And while he's good -- and he is -- he's going to have to bring his A game tonight to top his wife's performance of last evening.

Here's the question: When it comes to Barack Obama winning the White House, can Hillary Clinton ultimately make the difference for him?

Go to CNN.com/caffertyfile and post a comment on my blog -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Jack, thanks very much.

Can the last Democratic presidential nominee help the next one avoid the same fate? John Kerry, he's here live. He's going to be joining us. We're going to be talking about the pitfalls facing Barack Obama. He understands this about as well as anyone.

Also, find out who's ahead here in Colorado and other critical battlegrounds. We have a brand new poll. You're about to learn who's ahead in several of these key states.

And we'll also take you inside the rapid-fire Republican war room not far from here. Remember, we're also awaiting the start of the roll call. Both names, Hillary Clinton's and Barack Obama's, will be placed in nomination. What will happen? What will Hillary Clinton be doing?

We should know in about an hour. But we're watching everything going on right here on the floor of the Democratic National Convention.

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

(COMMERCIAL)

BLITZER: We're standing by for the start of the roll call. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama's names will be placed in nomination. You'll see all of it here unfold. That's coming up soon.

There's also other news we're following, including some weather- related news that could have some political and human interest for a lot of us. Forecasters now say Tropical Storm Gustav is on track and it could slam into New Orleans and elsewhere.

Many people in Louisiana and beyond are scrambling right now to prepare. And the storm could affect plans for the Republican convention that begins Monday.

Our chief national correspondent, John King, is here.

John, you've been looking at this. And you're looking at our magic map, if you will. You have some information to share.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I want to show you this, Wolf.

We know there's some very sensitive contingency planning under way in the McCain campaign about the possibility of having to somehow change their convention week because of Gustav. And let's look at the map a little bit here.

The convention is obviously up here in Minneapolis/St. Paul. And what we're tracking is the troubling path of Gustav, which is coming that way through the Gulf toward the United States.

And the question in the McCain campaign is, if it makes landfall in the United States, and if the damage is severe, what should they do about a convention that is scheduled to begin Monday, the same day many forecasters say the storm could make landfall? So all sorts of contingencies are on the table.

We want to be very careful in saying here that they hope and pray none of them need to be implemented. But one of the ideas is perhaps, while the convention is in its early stages, John McCain making a trip down to the storm area.

Remember all the criticism President Bush took in the early days after Katrina. McCain was sharply critical of him and does not want to be seen in the same light. Wolf, I'm even told -- and again, this is contingency planning; they hope and pray it will not be necessary -- but among the things they are considering, because they think they have to consider everything, is the possibility that if the storm damage is significant and major, that they might have to postpone, delay his big acceptance speech on Thursday night. They don't think that will happen, but they have an array of contingency planning from sending the candidate himself down this way on Monday or Tuesday during the convention, to the more remote possibility -- again, they hope and pray not necessary -- of having to make more major changes to the program if the storm's impact is significant.

BLITZER: We're praying that it won't be. All right, John. Stand by, because I want to show our viewers some brand-new poll numbers.

Our new CNN, "TIME" magazine and Opinion Research Corporation polling from several key battleground states, we're just releasing them right now.

Here in the state of Colorado, the site of the Democratic convention, the polls show McCain with a razor-thin advantage. Statistically, it's a dead heat, 47-46, McCain.

In the key state of Nevada, Obama holds a five-point lead over John McCain. In New Mexico, Obama has a much more substantial 13- point lead. And in the battleground state of Pennsylvania, look at this, the polls show Obama again with a narrow advantage.

Let's go back to John King. He's covering all of this.

John, what do these polls show us about this race as it's emerging right now?

KING: The overall headline, Wolf, is we have a remarkably competitive race when you go through the state-by-state electoral college map. And the other thing these polls show us is why the Democrats are here in Denver, because they believe they can be much more competitive out here in the Mountain West and the West than they have been in past campaigns.

Let's zoom in first on the state we're in right now, the state of Colorado.

You see it red this time. George W. Bush carried the state of Colorado last time over Senator Kerry, who I know is with you, 52-47. A five-point swing there. And that's significant, because if you go back to the 2000 race, it was 51 percent for Bush, 42 percent for Gore. So Senator Kerry made inroads in Colorado, Barack Obama hopes to build on that.

It's one of the reasons we are in the Mountain West for this convention. And yet, as you just said, McCain has a very narrow lead here right now.

The next state -- and this is hugely significant -- is right here, the state of New Mexico. Number one, you see it blue in that map. That's Al Gore. He carried it by the narrowest margins. It was 48-48 in the 2000 election.

We come forward to 2004, 51 percent Bush, 48 percent Kerry. But still a very narrow victory for President Bush in the state of New Mexico.

It remains a huge battleground, and yet now you see a big Obama lead. So close in the past two elections. Why is it a big Obama lead right now? Here's a number I want to leave you with.

Sixty-three percent of Hispanic voters in New Mexico -- they will be more than 30 percent of the population. Sixty-three percent in our new poll support Barack Obama. Clear evidence of the fallout from the big immigration debate.

Right now, Barack Obama with a huge lead among the critical Latino constituency in the state of New Mexico. Wolf, that could be a map-changer when it comes to the electoral college.

BLITZER: All right. As important as the national polls are, John -- and you know this, our viewers know it -- it's these states, these battleground states, the polls there that will determine this contest on November 4th.

John King is going to be with us throughout the night here on the floor of the Democratic National Convention.

Republican critics of Barack Obama are saying over and over again that he's too inexperienced to lead the country. Let's get some analysis now from Senator John Kerry. He was the Democratic presidential nominee four years ago.

And no one has better advice given your experience for Barack Obama than you can give based on your personal experience.

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Well, I don't know about that.

BLITZER: Here's some new poll numbers we just came out with today.

Who would be better in handling terrorism? McCain gets 60 percent, Obama gets 36 percent.

Who would be better handling Iraq? McCain gets 53 percent, Obama gets 44 percent.

Those are troubling numbers.

KERRY: Well, they're going to change. And they're going to change starting tonight, and they're going to change every day throughout the rest of the campaign.

BLITZER: Tonight because? KERRY: Because tonight we're going to begin to focus on security, and we're going to begin to point out that John McCain's judgment has been wrong. And there's a myth about John McCain and the Republicans keeping America strong.

America has been weakened in the world under Republican leadership. There is a huge security gap. A security gap. And the Republicans have led this country over the last eight years to lose credibility in the Middle East, to see Hamas, Hezbollah, al Qaeda strengthen.

BLITZER: So we'll hear that from Senator Biden?

KERRY: Well, I think you're going to hear it from lots of people, not just tonight, but for the rest of the campaign. And Barack Obama will not shy away as our next president from holding John McCain accountable for being lockstep with George Bush with respect to why we went to Iraq.

Most people have come to the conclusion, Wolf, that going to Iraq was a mistake. Not John McCain.

John McCain's response on Georgia, with the recent Russian intrusion, was really a Cold War response. Barack Obama, I think, had a more modern and realistic understanding of what the complexities are today.

I believe Barack Obama will strengthen America. I'm convinced of it. Joe Biden brings terrific experience in that field.

BLITZER: Should Senator Clinton have said flatly last night, I now believe Barack Obama is ready to be commander in chief?

KERRY: Well, I think that she basically said that in a number of ways. She's going to campaign for him. She supports him. She believes he ought to be president of the United States.

I don't think you can say to America you believe he ought to be president of the United States without believe the person is ready and capable. So, you know, you can fight, quibble over the choosing of the words.

I thought she said what she needed to. She came to the fight, ready to fight. I think you'll see her on the trail in the next months.

BLITZER: What about her husband tonight? What do you want to hear from him?

KERRY: Well, look, President Clinton is, first of all, a very talented, and secondly, unbelievably respected leader in our party and in the country. And I think that tonight he knows what he has to do and he will do it. And I'm absolutely confident.

I think all this hurly-burly about the Clintons, frankly, is overshadowing and shouldn't be overshadowing in your reporting what's really happening here. This is a movement for change. And there is an unbelievable growth -- you saw it in those poll numbers -- in states where we haven't seen that before.

BLITZER: But you know John McCain, you've been a friend of his for a long time. You've worked together with him on many issues.

KERRY: Yes.

BLITZER: He was, you know, politically virtually dead a year and a half or so ago, a year or so ago. But now he's emerged.

(CROSSTALK)

KERRY: Let me tell you why he emerged, Wolf. He emerged because no one else in the Republican Party could fill the vacuum. Everybody -- you're right, he was dead. But everybody else killed themselves.

What you had was a series of individuals, Romney, Thompson, and so forth, none of whom met the charge. And then John McCain was sort of last man left standing who was there to pick up the pieces when they failed to fill the vacuum. Each of them had an opportunity to fill that vacuum.

BLITZER: One final question. Very quickly, one piece of advice, based on your experience dealing with the Republicans in 2004, the swift-boating and all that, what's the single most important piece of advice you would give Barack Obama right now?

KERRY: Well, I've already said it a hundred times publicly and otherwise. We have to spend money that we didn't do adequately to answer the lies. When they lie, make absolutely certain that we have absolutely eradicated any potential for that lie to take hold anywhere.

And I believe -- and one of the things -- you showed those states, Colorado, even Virginia. I was the first Democrat to win Fairfax County since Lyndon Johnson. We did better in Virginia, but we had to pull out of Virginia three weeks. We had to pull out of Colorado three weeks early because of federal financing.

BLITZER: Because you didn't have enough money.

KERRY: Barack Obama is going to have the ability to wage a campaign from now until the end in every state where it matters. That's a huge advantage.

And I believe he's going to counter every lie, every rumor. And over the next months, people are going to learn that John McCain represents the past. Barack Obama represents strengthening America, keeping us safe, doing a better job with al Qaeda, responding to our needs abroad, which the Republican Party, frankly, has failed America on these last eight years.

BLITZER: Thanks for joining us, Senator.

KERRY: Thank you. BLITZER: Appreciate it.

We're keeping our eye on a developing story for the Republicans right now. The vice presidential guessing game is in full swing. You're going to see if Mitt Romney is dropping any hints.

And if you can't get to the convention in person, you can certainly get closer than ever, thanks to the army of bloggers here in Denver. Abbi Tatton checks some of the most interesting posts.

That's coming up, and a lot more, right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

And remember, we're awaiting the start of the roll call on the convention floor.

(COMMERCIAL)

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

Happening now, this convention hall is filling up here in Denver. The nominating speeches are only minutes away. Then comes the roll call.

Hillary Clinton will be here, staying right here for some of the more dramatic moments we're about to see on the Democratic convention floor.

And Joe Biden's credentials in international policy are a big reason why he's Barack Obama's running mate. We're giving you a closer look at those credentials. That's coming up. It could also be a lightning rod for some criticism.

And he won't be the Democrats' number one or the number two this year, so what's next for Bill Richardson? The New Mexico governor will be here to talk about all things political.

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

BLITZER: They have talked. They have partied. They listened to speeches. But, in just a few minutes, the delegates here in Denver finally will get to do their formal jobs. They will pick a presidential nominee. It's a carefully scripted process, but given the level of emotion among the supporters of Barack Obama and -- and Hillary Clinton, the next few hours could bring some surprises as well.

You never know when you're dealing with these Democrats.

Jessica Yellin is on the convention floor. She's dealing with some of them right now.

Jessica, what are you hearing?

YELLIN: Wolf, I will tell you -- I'm going to explain to you how this works.

I'm in the state of Michigan, a state that almost didn't get a chance to vote here today, because it was sanctioned. But here it is. And, at 4:00 local time today, this roll call will begin. The people here, they will get a phone call from the secretary's office, saying, you're up -- say, you're up next.

The person stands here. It could be an elected official or the chair of the delegation, and will say something like, the great state of Michigan, home of the Great Lakes, home of the big three automakers -- they do these long, involved presentations -- casts its vote for, and they will declare who it is, enter it on this computer, and then they're entered into the system.

Now, all these states are sort of an unknown. Michigan is one of those states that went for Hillary Clinton in the primary, but could end up voting for Barack Obama today, depending on how it all went when people put in their ballots. We will have to wait and see -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, thank you.

Jessica, we will be checking back with you.

Let's go to my colleague Glenn Beck of CNN's Headline News. He predicted Hillary Clinton's big speech here in Denver would be, in his words, a tepid slap-down to John McCain.

GLENN BECK, HOST, "GLENN BECK": Was I right?

BLITZER: But he also included a big shout-out to big labor. What did you think, tepid or not-so-tepid?

BECK: I -- oh, I don't know. I thought it was pretty tepid, the slap-down. I think she did her job.

I thought it was one of the best speeches Hillary Clinton has given, quite honestly. But I don't think that she -- there wasn't a ringing endorsement of Barack Obama. It was kind of like, OK, I mean, we don't want that guy, right?

And, unfortunately, I think that's the way most of America feels, whether -- no matter which guy you're voting for, you're kind of like, he's not that guy, is he? So, I think she connected with the American people on that one. But she also put three or four mentions of big labor in there.

And I think America really needs to pay attention to the special interests of big labor. You know, one side is apparently, you know, in bed with -- with big business. The other side is in bed with big labor. And we are going to have an America-changing course here in the next year with -- with big labor, or with card check and everything else that big labor wants to do. It's going to change the atmosphere in America dramatically.

And I don't think most people even understand what's coming. BLITZER: I know you have been thinking a lot, like all of us have been, who's going to be John McCain's running mate. We expect him to make the announcement Friday in Dayton, Ohio, Ohio being a key battleground state. Who do you think it's going to be?

BECK: OK.

Well, A, again, I'm pushing for Jesus, but I don't think he's going to run. So, my -- my prediction -- and it's really not even my prediction -- I have been looking at Intrade sports. It's a Web site trading system. And people put their money where their mouth is.

I have watched this now over the last four or five, six years, and they are always right. They are predicting presidents. They are predicting Senate races, House races, every time. And what you really look for is when there's a sudden spike with no news.

For instance, I saw a spike two days before we said that Saddam Hussein had been captured. There was a spike that he was going to be captured -- captured in the next month. Three days, two days later, he was announced -- it announced that it had been captured.

So, sometimes, you get some inside information there on the trading site. There has been a sudden spike of, I think, about 30 or 40 points in the last day or so for Mitt Romney. Mitt Romney was trading in the 20s and 30s. He's now up near 70. He was 60 this morning. He's near 70 now. I think, just based on that, it looks like maybe some insider information is showing that it might be Mitt Romney.

BLITZER: Wouldn't be the first time anyone's predicted that Romney -- we will see, certainly, in the top tier of the short, short list.

Glenn, we will see you back here tomorrow.

BECK: You got it. Thanks.

BLITZER: Thanks very much.

BECK: You bet. Bye, Wolf.

BLITZER: And, as we have been telling you, Hillary Clinton officially released her delegates and told them they're free to vote for Barack Obama. You're going to see that moment when we return to the Democratic National Convention.

We have some brand-new video coming up as well.

And, yes, there are big-name Republicans here in Denver inside what they're calling the Republican war room. We will take you in there right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: It's going to be a dramatic and powerful moment here on the floor of the Democratic National Convention, the roll call. It's about to get started very soon. Hillary Clinton's name will be placed in nomination. Barack Obama's name will be placed in nomination. You're going to see it live here in THE SITUATION ROOM. We're going to show you what happens. Will it be love? Will there be some friction? What will the significance of it be? We're watching it for you. Stay tuned for that.

Meanwhile, the Republicans are watching very closely as well, including the former Governor Mitt Romney. He's a favorite among many conservatives in Nevada today. A lot of them want him to be John McCain's running mate.

Let's go to Ed Henry. He's in Las Vegas.

What's Mitt Romney up to there today, Ed?

ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, he's going to have a rally on behalf of John McCain in a couple of hours here on the ground in Nevada, a key potential swing state, Democrats trying to take it from Republicans.

And, also, in the last couple of days, Mitt Romney has been auditioning, basically, in Denver. You saw him there. He was very aggressive in questioning Barack Obama's readiness to be commander in chief -- all of that stumping he's doing on behalf of John McCain, that's helped his stock rise among some Republicans. Also, they point to the fact that his background as a businessman could really help John McCain on the economy, maybe check that box, just the way Barack Obama checked the foreign policy box, if you will, with Joe Biden.

On the downside, though, there's still this lingering question about chemistry between Mitt Romney and John McCain. And there's also the question, with all this controversy from last week about John McCain and how many homes he owns, Mitt Romney is obviously very wealthy. We saw that during his own campaign, the money he was putting into that campaign. And that could be a potential problem for a ticket like that, with the Democrats trying to make that an issue -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Thanks, Ed.

Ed's in Nevada for us.

Democrats do not have Denver all to themselves. As you know, Republicans, they're here as well. They're engaged in some hand-to- hand political combat.

Dana Bash is watching this part of the story.

And, Dana, you have got some rare access today.

DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, actually, when we get e-mails from campaigns hitting the other candidates, it's almost always from long distance. But, this time, when the Republicans are hitting the convention, they're doing it from right down the street. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The other part is what he said recently.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, let's -- let's grab Clinton's quote and then just rework it.

BASH (voice-over): Rapid response inside John McCain's war room, behind enemy lines at the Democratic Convention...

MARK WARNER (D), VIRGINIA SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: hat's what this nation believes. That's what Barack Obama and Joe Biden believe.

BASH: ... watching every Democratic word in Denver, urgently debating the instant McCain rebuttal for reporters.

MATT MCDONALD, MCCAIN CAMPAIGN: Working together to solve problems. And the fact is that Barack Obama has no record whatsoever of doing that. And John McCain has a long record of doing that. So, that should be at the core of the response.

BASH: The truth is, much of what McCain aides do here, they could do back at headquarters, use the Internet to watch their opponent.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All our tracking of Barack Obama actually comes off of CNNLive.com. We go to your guys' home page.

BASH: Book McCain allies on radio and TV, spin reporters.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think the people have tired of the whole fanfare.

BASH: But these temporary Denver digs are part of a relatively new campaign tradition: Get your message across during your rival's big party by crashing it. Why? It's where the media are.

MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER MASSACHUSETTS GOVERNOR: ... represented by the Barack Obama platform.

BASH: This press conference had a packed house.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, upstairs, this is where a lot of the volunteer activity...

BASH: And, by being in Denver, Republicans can coordinate ground troops to show up at convention-related events.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, currently, it looks like, you know, we have eight to 10 volunteer groups.

BASH: But, for all the political war games here, there's something that may sound surprising.

(on camera): Is it sort of an odd feeling, though, to be kind of behind enemy lines here? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, I think everyone in this room has great friends that are Democrats. And we're actually enjoying it. Everybody has been very welcoming.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BASH: Now, this is hardly a Republican phenomenon.

As you can imagine, the Obama campaign, Democrats, are already planning extensively for their war room in Minneapolis at the Republican Convention next week -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Dana, thanks very much. We will be talking to them in -- in Saint Paul-Minneapolis.

BASH: I'm sure we will.

BLITZER: We will be talking to the Republicans here in Denver.

We're waiting for Barack Obama, the star of the show, to actually arrive here in Denver. And it's going to happen any moment. We have got live cameras on the scene. Stand by for live coverage of that.

Also stand by for the roll call. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, their names will be called in. They will be placed in nomination. We will see how it unfolds right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: We're awaiting Barack Obama's arrival at the Denver International Airport. We will have coverage for you of that. We're also awaiting Hillary Clinton's arrival here on the convention floor for the roll call. You are going to want to see it. And you will see it live here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Meanwhile, bloggers from across the country are stationed with their delegations, taking their readers inside this process.

Our Internet reporter, Abbi Tatton, is watching all of this part of the story.

What are you seeing right now, Abbi?

ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Wolf, these videos are giving you a real behind-the-scenes look at what some of these Clinton delegates are going through in the last 24 hours.

I am going to show you video here of some members of the Mississippi delegation being told by a whip for Clinton that Hillary Clinton doesn't want any drama today. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We don't want any controversy, or Hillary don't want any controversy. So, what I'm going to ask you all to do is remember that she really, really, does and is going to support Barack Obama in every way.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TATTON: That captured by blogger Casey Hughes (ph), who is embedded with this delegation. She is saying that the sense between them right there is, after that speech last night, that people are really getting on board with Senator Obama.

And they're all filing in right now to watch what happens -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Abbi, thanks very much.

And we're also standing by, as all of this unfolds, for the start of the roll call. It sounds procedural, but it could be interesting. There could be some drama. Which state will officially put Barack Obama over the top?

Our superdelegate and CNN contributor Donna Brazile is here. She will help us understand what we're about to see. It's historic on the floor of the Democratic Convention.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Let's get right to our "Strategy Session."

Donna Brazile and Leslie Sanchez, they are here on the floor with me.

Donna, this could be neat and clean, this roll call that we're about to see, although it could get a little bit ugly. What do you expect?

DONNA BRAZILE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Oh, this is the culmination of the primary season, and we will have the traditional roll call.

Alice Germond, who is the secretary of the party, a veteran of many Democratic Party fights, will be leading the challenge today, as she calls the roll state by state. And I expect that this will go very smoothly.

I have been on the floor as a whip earlier today. People are excited. Yes, some of the delegates will cast their ballots for Hillary Clinton. But, by and large, Barack Obama will win the nomination.

BLITZER: And we're waiting, Leslie, for Hillary Clinton to show up in the New York delegation. And -- and we expect she will have a major roll in announcing what the New York delegation, at least what she's going to do. And I think she will be speaking for a lot of New Yorkers.

LESLIE SANCHEZ, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: No doubt about it. I think it's an important step. It's an important image, more than anything. And it also -- it solidifies her role in the party, especially the future of the party.

BLITZER: The -- the -- I guess a lot of people are saying, what's the point? He's got the nomination? Why do they have to place her name in nomination, to begin with? Isn't that just rubbing some salt out there? Why not just -- she gave a speech endorsing him enthusiastically last night. Why go through this?

BRAZILE: Well, she released her delegates on Sunday.

But, look, according to our rules -- and I hate to be a stickler about the rules, but rule 12-J...

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: ... rules.

BRAZILE: Well, I haven't change the rules. I stick with the rules.

BLITZER: You can put Barack Obama's name in acclimation, and that's that.

BRAZILE: Well, Rule 12-J allows delegates, super and earned delegates, to cast their ballots according to their conscience.

And many of these delegates have come a long way here to Denver, and they would like to vote for the candidate of their choice. But the majority of delegates clearly will back Barack Obama.

BLITZER: Republicans like you, Leslie, they would love to see the Democrats divided, the Hillary Clinton faction opposing the Barack Obama faction. But they -- they're doing their best to get their act together.

SANCHEZ: I think they're slowly getting their footing. I think, if you talked to a lot of folks getting here, you would have thought that this convention was about -- you know, the unity had already passed, it was already understood to be solidified, and they were talking about Republicans and what they were going to do moving forward.

I think we have spent the last few days talking about the Clintons and whether this party's coming together. So, already, the Clintons have had a tremendous impact.

BLITZER: And we will see what Bill Clinton will be doing tonight, because he's delivering a big speech of his own, as well as Joe Biden. So, there's a lot of anticipation going...

(CROSSTALK)

BRAZILE: He has two women to follow. Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton knocked it out of the arena. Bill Clinton is going to have to you know what.

BLITZER: And the pressure is on Joe Biden as well. BRAZILE: Absolutely.

(LAUGHTER)

BLITZER: And you will be with us every step of the way.

Thanks.

Jack, we're getting ready for the excitement here on the floor of the convention. And we will see what happens in this roll call.

CAFFERTY: All right, Wolf.

When it comes to Barack Obama winning the White House, the question this hour is, can Hillary Clinton make the difference? She absolutely knocked the cover off the ball last night with that speech of hers. And he actually could get a bump in the polls, I would think, by that unequivocal support that she gave him.

Mitchell writes from Arkansas: "After last night's speech? Absolutely. Up until this point, I would have said, absolutely not. She's redeemed herself, in my eyes, and I would be very happy to see her do whatever she is willing to do in order to help. I just wish the Democrats would get their acts together, so us independents and crossover Republicans, who seem more passionate that many of the Democrats are about our man Barack, don't get left behind, and eventually wind up stuck with another one of the 'twins,' Bush and McCain."

Annie writes from Atlanta: "Her speech was certainly impressive. The difference will be made by us, though, the American voters. And, unfortunately, we don't have a real good track record."

Manuel Laredo (ph) writes: "She won't make any difference. It's up to him to show to the voters what he plans to do, how he is going to do it, and, above all, how he is going to pay for it. Talking is cheap. Accomplishing all he has promised so far is quite a different matter."

Alex in British Columbia: "Hillary Clinton supporters who say they will vote for John McCain demonstrate that they never really supported Hillary Clinton's principles in the first place."

Vinnie in New York: "It's too late for HRC to help Obama win the White House. That ship sailed when he picked Joe Biden to be his vice president."

Laura in Kentucky: "A despondent Hillary supporter said on camera last night, he's got two months left. He still needs to reach out to all the Hillary supporters that he magically expects to -- quote -- 'get over it.' I think Obama supporters need to try on a pantsuit and walk in our shoes for a day."

And Amber writes: "Don't hurt yourself, Cafferty. Do you need to lie down? Wolf, check his vitals. He actually gave Hillary Clinton a compliment." If you didn't see your e-mail here, you can go to my blog at CNN.com/caffertyfile. Look for yours there, among hundreds of others -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Jack, see you in a few moments. Thank you.

I can tell you this. We're feeling the excitement building here on the convention floor in Denver. The nominating speeches for Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, they're about to begin. Hillary Clinton is about to show up here inside the Pepsi Center. Barack Obama is about to arrive at the Denver International Airport.

This colorful roll call vote, it's about to begin. We expect, as I said, to see Hillary Clinton and make -- make a dramatic announcement. You're going to want to see it right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Much more of our coverage -- right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: There, you see Barack Obama's chartered aircraft. It has now landed here in Denver at the airport -- Senator Barack Obama making his first stop in Denver during this historic convention, where we will see the first-ever African-American nominated as the presidential candidate by a major political party.

He's coming in with his staff, with his aides, the press corps, aboard that flight. And then he will be making his way slowly, but surely, to a hotel here in Denver, and eventually coming over here to this convention site at the Pepsi Center.

This will be -- this will be an electrifying moment, once he actually walks into the convention floor.

But, before that, we have got some other news that's going to be happening here on the convention floor, indeed, within the coming hour. There will be an historic roll call of the states, the 50 states, Puerto Rico, the territories. They will formally go through the process to determine who will be the next president of the -- the next Democratic presidential nominee.