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THE SITUATION ROOM
Interview With Colin Powell; What Next For Sarah Palin?
Aired November 5, 2008 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: The team has an enormous challenge, this transition to power. Jessica, what's the latest?
JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, teams of people are already hard at work, picking appointees for the next administration and those key Cabinet posts. The celebration lasted for a night. It was sweet for the folks of the Obama campaign, but the hard work they say is now beginning.
YELLIN (voice-over): It was a political victory, but also a night for history.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENT-ELECT: If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible --
B. OBAMA: -- who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.
YELLIN: His first decision, chief of staff. Expected to take the job is Rahm Emanuel. He is a Chicago congressman, one-time investment banker, and former Clinton White House staffer known for his brash manner and political savvy.
Obama insiders say he is an ideal pick, because he knows Wall Street, the White House, and can help rein in congressional Democrats.
With pressure on so many fronts, Iraq, the economy, international relations, Obama is expected to unveil his key Cabinet choices earlier than in past administrations. Work is already well under way in choosing candidates for State, Defense and Treasury. From supporters, high expectations for this man. In the crowd last night, a sense of urgency to bring change fast. He is asking for patience.
B. OBAMA: Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even in one term. But, America, I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there.
YELLIN: And, Wolf, there are already names in circulation for possible appointments to State, Defense and -- to State, Defense and Treasury especially, folks from the former Clinton administration, folks from Wall Street, and even members of the Senate -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Jessica Yellin in Chicago covering the Obama team for us.
On this day after the vote, Republicans can't help but look back at where they went wrong and why, John McCain's presidential hopes dashed, Sarah Palin's political future still full of possibilities.
Dana Bash is in Phoenix, Arizona, right now watching what is going on. So, Dana, how is Senator McCain dealing with the defeat?
DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, he actually went to his creek-side cabin near Sedona, Arizona. He once told us that that is really the only place that he can relax, and certainly, he is going to need to do that, because he is facing his own transition, obviously a much more painful one, because he is going to have to go back to the Senate, and a Senate that is poised to take over and to take up Barack Obama's agenda, an agenda that John McCain spent months calling too liberal.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator John McCain.
BASH (voice-over): Standing beneath the flag he has served for more than half a century, John McCain could not hide his disappointment, and did not try.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: We fought as hard as we could. And though we fell short, the failure is mine, not yours.
BASH: McCain said he will leave it to others to determine why he lost. Many Republicans blame powerful anti-GOP headwinds and a campaign that relied on a series of tactics, not an overriding defining strategy. Senior McCain advisers admit mid-September's economic collapse sealed his fate, both the event and his reaction to it.
MCCAIN: I will suspend my campaign and return to Washington.
PETER HART, DEMOCRATIC POLLSTER: He came as being erratic and not ready to deal with the economy. And at that stage, people started to look at Obama, and Obama had a new fresh wind, and that was the difference.
BASH: And then there was Sarah Palin. Exit polls show she hurt McCain with Independent and suburban voters who called her unqualified to be president. We caught up with Palin and asked her about that.
GOV. SARAH PALIN (R), ALASKA: I don't think anybody should give Sarah Palin that much credit that I would trump an economic woeful time in this nation that occurred about two months ago, that my presence on the ticket would trump the economic crisis that America found itself in a couple months ago and attribute John McCain's loss to me. But now having said that, if I cost John McCain even one vote, I am sorry about that. BASH: McCain will now go back to the Senate, a post-defeat trip he's taken once before. After losing his presidential primary bid in 2000, McCain returned to work across the aisle on major legislation like campaign finance reform. McCain confidantes tell CNN they're encouraging him to do that once again.
BASH: And McCain's best friend, Senator Lindsey Graham, is with him right now at his cabin in Sedona.
And Graham told us last night, Wolf, that he really wants McCain to try to become the next -- quote -- "lion of the Senate," to work on big issues with Democrats and Republicans, for compromise and things like immigration and even climate change.
But Graham also told me -- he said it's going to take some time for the wounds to heal from this grueling two-year campaign, especially because, as Graham said, his lifelong ambition to become president is now crushed -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes, no doubt about that. All right, Dana, thanks very much. Dana did an excellent job covering this whole election for us.
President Bush, meanwhile, is promising complete cooperation with president-elect Obama and a smooth White House transition. Today, the president publicly congratulated the Democrats for their victory. He says he has invited the Obamas to visit the future home on Pennsylvania Avenue.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It will be a stirring sight to watch President Obama, his wife, Michelle, and their beautiful girls step through the doors of the White House. I know millions of Americans will be overcome with pride at this inspiring moment that so many have waited so long.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: The president says that, when he leaves the White House in president-elect Obama's hands, he will return to Texas with treasured memories and profound gratitude.
The U.S. troops now know who their next commander in chief will be. Barack Obama inherits two wars and deep budget problems at the Pentagon.
Let's bring in our Pentagon correspondent, Jamie McIntyre. He filed this report.
JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SENIOR PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): First off, Barack Obama needs a strong defense secretary. Sources tell CNN, the popular incumbent Robert Gates could be persuaded to stay on for a short time, but he has not been asked.
Other names you hear, Republican Senator Chuck Hagel and former Deputy Defense Secretary John Hamre. Obama has to decide how and how fast to change strategy in two wars.
B. OBAMA: Even as we stand here tonight, we know there are brave Americans waking up in the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan to risk their lives for us.
MCINTYRE: Already, one Army brigade is leaving Iraq earlier than planned, dropping the number from 15 to 14, and making Barack's goal of withdrawing a brigade a month seem more doable. That could also free up troops for Afghanistan, where 20,000 reinforcements are desperately needed.
But Obama will have to figure out whether to take the advice of General Petraeus or give Petraeus orders to change course.
Then there is the Pentagon's 500-something-billion-dollar budget due weeks after Obama's January inauguration. It is larded with the kind of costly weapons that Obama has pledged to cut, such as the Army's pricey computerized future combat vehicles, the Air Force's F- 22 Raptor, the most expensive jet fighter ever, and what Obama has called unproven missile defenses whose intended deployment to Europe has already provoked Moscow.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev greeted Obama's election with a threat to target U.S. sites in Poland and the Czech Republic. In order to neutralize the missile defense system, Medvedev said in a speech, Russian missiles will be deployed in Kaliningrad, if necessary.
MCINTYRE: And President Obama will be under pressure to make a lot of decisions in his first week in office, everything from potentially closing Guantanamo Bay to opening a dialogue with Iran, but many think perhaps his most pressing problem might be Pakistan, where the government is incensed about cross-border missile strikes into their territory and is also in dire straits financially -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes, it's a nightmare scenario. It's a nuclear power, too. Jamie, thank you.
Let's go back to Jack. He has got "The Cafferty File." Wow, he's got a full plate already.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Well, and there is a whole lot more beside just than the Pentagon and the military situation.
President-elect Barack Obama, the new Congress, January brings the message, OK, you made the team. Now it is time to find out if you can really play. The list of problems confronting our country is long, the list of solutions not so long.
Obama will enjoy Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress, so it should be possible to get things done more quickly. But where to start, the two wars Jamie was talking about going on, a global economic crisis that could get worse? Terrorists are still around. Our health care system is in disarray and our reputation overseas is on life support.
Oh, and don't forget taxes and a lack of any coherent energy policy and illegal immigration. No question about it, it is not quite the same country that George Bush inherited from Bill Clinton. Did I mention the $10 trillion in debt and budget deficits projected north of $500 billion for next year?
So, here is the question: What is priority one for the new president and Congress? Go to CNN.com/caffertyfile. Post a comment on my blog. You can help them lay out their agenda for next year.
BLITZER: They need some help.
CAFFERTY: Oh, I don't know why anybody would want that job with all those things sitting there.
BLITZER: Good luck.
BLITZER: All right. She was the celebrity who helped launch Barack Obama's campaign. Now Oprah Winfrey is talking about this historic win. You are going to hear what she says. She gets very, very emotional.
Plus, how Democrats achieved magic on the electoral map. Will their gains last night last for years? And a retired U.S. general and statesman, he cracks with emotion as well. Colin Powell, he chokes up in talking exclusively to CNN about Barack Obama's win, and racial barriers broken.
Stay with us. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COLIN POWELL, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: As I watched it, as I watched finally one of the newscasters cut to the chase and said, he has won, it is over, pretty moving moment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Colin Powell knows what is it like to make history. He was the first black secretary of state and the first black chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. So, it is especially moving for Powell to witness the election of the nation's first African-American president.
CNN's Hugh Riminton caught up with Colin Powell in Hong Kong and got his exclusive reaction.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) POWELL: President-elect Obama did not put himself forward as an African-American president. He put himself as an American, how happened to be black, who happened to be African-American, and that ought to come after the title.
Because what he did in this campaign was to be all inclusive. To reach out across racial lines, cultural lines, religious lines, you name it. He wanted to be a transformational figure, to bridge the gap between generations. And I think that's what allowed him to win this election.
So, we're very, very proud to have a new American president, who also happens to be an African-American. And that very fact moves us so far along the continuum that African-Americans have been traveling for the last 230 years of our nation, and to the last 400 years of the existence of colonies in America.
And so I have to share in the pride that all Americans have now for the fact that America did this. And as I watched it, as I watched finally, one of the newscasters cut to the chase and said, he's won, it's over. Pretty moving moment.
HUGH RIMINTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There was a tear?
POWELL: Everybody cried. And when you saw all of the crowds in Washington, in New York, Chicago. Look what we did. Look what we did.
RIMINTON: And it hasn't worn off yet -- especially by the look on your face?
POWELL: No, no. No. I'm not ashamed of it. My family, my wife, my kids, everybody.
Whether you voted for Mr. Obama or not, you have to take enormous pride in the fact that we were able to do this. We were able to have a contest between two political parties, four different candidates, two on either side, competing in a typical American way, which is hard fought. You fight for your position. It's what our founding fathers intended. They wanted a clash of ideas. And from that clash of ideas, the people are informed and the people make their choice.
Now, the people have made their choice. And both gentlemen -- Senator McCain and President-elect Obama, both say the same thing. This is now over. Let's come together. We are all Americans again. And let's pursue a new agenda. An agenda of transformation, an agenda of change. And let's get on with the challenges that we are facing and solve those challenges.
RIMINTON: For even one moment there, when you were watching that speech, did you think that could have been me?
POWELL: No, never. I made an informed choice some 13 years ago and I have never looked back at it. It was a correct choice for me and for my family. So, I am overjoyed that Barack Obama has succeeded. RIMINTON: Would you serve in an Obama administration?
POWELL: Well, I haven't been asked and I'm not looking for service. I'm not looking for a job and I don't expect to be offered a job. I think I might be able to be of some use from the outside because of the experience I have had as a national security adviser, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and of Secretary of State. But, I'm not looking for a position and I do not expect to be offered a position.
RIMINTON: There were some McCain supporters who seemed to hold -- these are ordinary American, who seemed to hold a sincere view that an Obama presidency would make them less safe.
What would you say to address those fears?
POWELL: I think it was an unfounded concern. Why would an Obama presidency make them less secure? He knows the challenges we face. He sees our potential enemies. He also sees great opportunities in the world. He also sees the opportunity of working with our allies around our work. And yes, talking to those who are adversaries of ours.
But, he's as committed to the security of this nation as anyone else. And I think those fears were unfounded. I'm quite confident that he will surround himself with good, strong security advisers at State Department and elsewhere in the government and his national security adviser. And they will be very clear-eyed about the challenges we face and what has to be done.
RIMINTON: What do you think is the biggest problem, the biggest issue that he faces?
POWELL: Right now it's economics. The American people voted in this election to have something done about our economic situation. I think it's what shifted the election in the direction it did, in a very market way over the last four weeks. And that has to be priority number one for him.
Secondly, he has to restore a sense of confidence and optimism in the American people. And you saw that. It happened almost instantly this evening. It was more like New Year's Eve, it was more like millennium New Year's Eve, with people coming out in the streets in such a spontaneous manner. And he has to restore that sense of confidence and optimism with the international community, with respect to America. And I think he can do that very, very well.
RIMINTON: You served as a Republican. What should the Republican Party take now, out of this election loss?
POWELL: I think this is the time for deep introspection on the part of the Republican Party. They have to take a very realistic look at themselves -- we do. I'm a Republican. And see where we went wrong, where we aren't attaching ourselves to the hopes, dreams and ambitions of the American people. Let's keep in mind that 48 million people voted for Senator McCain. So, it's not as if nobody voted -- 48 million Americans voted for Senator McCain and 52 plus voted for President-Elect Obama. And so there are still these different points of view. But I think for the Republican Party, to move forward, it has to take a hard look at itself.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Colin Powell speaking with our own Hugh Riminton in Hong Kong earlier today, a powerful, powerful interview. The Powell factor is significant. We're going to discuss that later here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Looking for a newspaper as a souvenir for Barack Obama's win? You may have to get one online. And one big city newspaper can't be found on the streets. So, people are lining up outside the newspaper's headquarters. We will tell you what is going on.
And the U.S. will also see another milestone, the first African- American first lady. How might Michelle Obama be in that role?
Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: At the start of his address to the nation, Barack Obama made a special point of recognizing and thanking his wife, Michelle.
CNN's Brooke Baldwin has been looking into this part of the story. We are all about to get a new first lady and she does not exactly fit the stereotype.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No. I would say, Wolf, she definitely breaks the mold. We have been saying that sort of time and time again today.
Michelle Obama being held today as a key player in ensuring her husband's victory into the White House here. In fact, some aides have nicknamed her as the closer, but the 5 foot 11 inch Ivy League lawyer making history all on her own.
B. OBAMA: And I would not be standing here tonight without the unyielding support of my best friend for the last 16 years --
B. OBAMA: -- the rock of our family, the love of my life, the nation's next first lady --
B. OBAMA: -- Michelle Obama.
BALDWIN: Michelle Obama breaking barriers as our nation's first African-American first lady. Read her lips. She loves her husband as well even though this mother of two has a degree from Harvard law and degree in public service, she has said that once in the White House the focus is her family. She spoke about her two daughters in the speech at the Democratic National Convention.
MICHELLE OBAMA, WIFE OF SENATOR BARACK B. OBAMA: They're the first things I think about when I wake up in the morning and the last thing I think about before I go to bed at night. Their future -- and all our children's future -- is my stake in this election.
BALDWIN: As for her stake as first lady, Michelle Obama has said does not plan to take on a policy role in her husband's administration.
NIKKI TAYLOR, "ESSENCE": I am waiting to see how this role is going to develop, how she is going to define it in this new era. It certainly -- it will be anything but typical.
BALDWIN: As the wife of the president, she will continue to serve as his confidant and she will work for women while in Washington.
TAYLOR: She feels passionate about bringing about a difference that will help women balance work and family. And -- and she feels that the script has not been written yet.
BALDWIN: And how about this for mom in chief? That is what Michelle calls herself. The campaign repeatedly said that Michelle Obama never spent more than one night away from her children this whole campaign here. The Obama girls, by the way, will be the youngest children to live in the White House since 9-year-old Amy Carter, Wolf, back in 1977.
BLITZER: And they are adorable, those two sweet little girls.
BALDWIN: Sasha and Malia so cute on stage.
BLITZER: So cute. All right, thanks very much, Brooke, for that.
BLITZER: Presidential politics is very, very different as of today. Can Republicans, though, overcome a desperate case of the blues? John King will be joining us at the magic map.
Her early support helped president-elect Obama get where he today. Oprah Winfrey talks to CNN about his victory and can't contain her enthusiasm.
And Sarah Palin speaks out about her defeat and her future. Will she be a player in 2012? The best political team on television is standing by.
BLITZER: To our viewers, you are in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now: They are Barack Obama's top three priorities when he takes office in January. And he laid them out to me in our one-on- one interview last Friday. They take on new significance right now. You are going to hear what the now president-elect said he wants to do to try to help turn this country around.
Also, Obama won in part by turning blue states red -- by turning red states blue, that is, but he also changed the face of the electoral map, perhaps for good, or not? We will assess that. John King is standing by at the magic map.
And Sarah Palin, she is down, but by no means out. So, what is next for the governor of Alaska?
All of this, plus the best political team on television.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You are in THE SITUATION ROOM.
People from all walks of life supported Barack Obama, but one group was especially helpful to his win.
Our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider, is joining us now with more from voter analysis. What are we seeing, Bill?
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, the Barack Obama campaign argues that his America, his coalition was the new America. And, if you want to see the new America, take a look at how young voters voted -- 18- to 29-year-olds across the country, two- thirds of them voted for Barack Obama.
As groups got older, in each older group, he didn't do quite as well. Among the 30 to 44-year-olds, he carried just a bare majority -- 52 percent; 45-64-year-olds, he split the vote with McCain, almost 50/50. The one group McCain carried was voters 65 and older, senior voters. They voted for John McCain. That is, quite literally, the old America.
It was a new coalition. Barack Obama carried a majority of African-Americans, Latinos, gay Americans, Jewish voters, Catholic voters, Asian-Americans. And, this was remarkable, he did a little better with whites than most other recent Democratic nominees for president.
So it was a coalition, the new America, that symbolized his message of unity -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Bill Schneider over at Voter Analysis for us. Thank you.
Barack Obama amassed the victory by redrawing the political map. But did he really alter the political landscape permanently? Let's go to our chief national correspondent, John King. He's over at the magic map with some assessment. What's going on -- John?
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, it is a stunning sweep Barack Obama engineered last night. I'm going to circle some states for you and I want you to look at these states. Barack Obama won here. He said he would stretch the map. He won down in Florida. He said he would stretch the map. He won out here and here. What do I mean by stretch the map?
Let's go back in time four years. Let me step out of the way. You see inside those circles -- all red. George W. Bush carried all this territory last year. Barack Obama said he was going to change the map, not only for him, but for the Democratic Party. And, again, if you come fast forward now and you see these states Barack Obama won, he did it with the Latino vote out here. Republicans are worried if that sinks in, Wolf, devastating for their party.
He did it with young voters. Bill Schneider and others in Voter Analysis have talked about that. He also did it with money. And we want to take a look at that, because one of the questions going forward is, is this a new Democratic coalition or is this a one shot in a campaign where Barack Obama had such enormous resources?
I want to show you the State of Florida. He won by three points, 51 percent to 48 percent. That is a good win in a critical battleground state. One of the ways Barack Obama won -- he spent $36 million on television to $12.6 million for John McCain and the Republican National Convention. The combined Republican number just under $13 million. A three to one advantage for Barack Obama in Florida.
If you move up to the State of Virginia, another state Barack Obama won. Again, that state had not gone for the Democrats in forever. Barack Obama wins it. He wins it with a five point margin there, a healthy 52 percent to 47 percent. Again, more than two to one in TV ad spending -- Barack Obama, $23 million, the Republicans, $10 million.
So one of the questions, Wolf, as you go forward is how much of this is a new Democratic coalition and how much of it -- of those -- how many of those victories can you attribute to the huge fundraising advantage of Barack Obama -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes. There were hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars that were spent. Thanks very much, John.
As president of the United States, Barack Obama will confront an economic crisis and lots of uncertainty. He talked to me about his agenda and what could make matters worse.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: We don't know yet what's going to happen in January. And none of this can be accomplished if we continue to see a potential meltdown in the banking system or the financial system.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BLITZER: The president-elect certainly heads to the White House with a mandate for change. But Republicans warn he may not get what he wants.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE DUNCAN, RNC CHAIRMAN: We must stand against him and for and with the center right nation that we serve.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Barack Obama's top priorities as president of the United States -- the economy, energy and health care. Listen to what he told me last Friday in our one-on-one interview.
BLITZER: You have to make major decisions and you have to make them right away.
BLITZER: Priorities are going to be critical. I'm going to give you five issues. You tell me which one of these five would be your top priority after you're inaugurated on January 20th -- if you're inaugurated.
BLITZER: Health care reform --
BLITZER: Energy independence, a new tax code, including tax cuts for the middle class, education spending or comprehensive immigration reform.
OBAMA: Well --
BLITZER: Top priority?
OBAMA: The top priorities may not be any of those five. It may be continuing to stabilize the financial system. We don't know yet what's going to happen in January. And none of this can be accomplished if we continue to see a potential meltdown in the banking system or the financial system.
So that's priority number one, making sure that the plumbing works in our capitalist system. Priority number two of the list that you have listed -- have put forward, I think has to be energy independence. We have to seize this moment, because it's not just an energy independence issue, it's also a national security issue and it's a jobs issue. And we can create five million new green energy jobs with a serious program. Priority number three would be health care reform. I think the time is right to do it. Priority number four is making sure that we have tax cuts for the middle class and it's part of a broader tax reform effort. Priority number five, I think, would be -- would be making sure that we have an education system that works for all children.
One thing I want to make a point of, though. The tax cut that I talked about may be part of my priority number one, because I think that's going to be part of stabilizing the economy as a whole. I think we are going to need a second stimulus. One of my commitments is to make sure that that stimulus includes a tax cut for 95 percent of working Americans. That may be the first bill that I introduce.
BLITZER: And joining us now, our senior political analyst, Gloria Borger; our chief national correspondent, John King; and our CNN political analyst, Roland Martin. They're all part of the best political team on television.
Can he do it? Can he hit the ground running? It's a very ambitious agenda.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: It is an ambitious agenda. They know it's ambitious. They're a little worried that it's going to be overtaken by the economic crisis. But they do have a plan. They're going to appoint their national security team, their economic team, their chief of staff pretty quickly. And I think they're going to try and get support for one big issue. They want to do something big. And if I had to guess, it would be energy first, because that's the area where there's a lot of bipartisan agreement. I think they're going to go for a big thing and that will be it.
BLITZER: You know, we heard a different sort of note from the chairman of the RNC, Mike Duncan. I'll play that little clip -- John. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DUNCAN: The last two times the Democrats controlled the House, Senate and the presidency, they choked on the bone of responsibility. They lurched far to the left and introduced the country to President Ronald Reagan and House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right. So that doesn't sound very encouraging on this first day.
KING: Well, choke on the bone is an interesting choice of words. But he's right. He's right in the sense that certainly, especially in 1993 -- and you and I were both around for that one -- the Democrats did overplay their hand. Bill Clinton came out of the box. They got mired in gays in the military. Then they came forward with the Hillary Clinton health care plan that many viewed as far too confusing and far too liberal. Trust me, the Obama people have read the manual and they're trying to discard it. They want to come out in the middle. Now, there will be pressure on Barack Obama. We talked about this a bit earlier in the balance of power. There will be some pressure from the left. He has a difficult Democratic Party to manage, never mind the pressure that will come to him from conservatives. Mike Duncan made a valid point there. The Republicans have a lot of rebuilding to do. They will watch the Democrats. They have a lot to worry about in their own house first.
BLITZER: Roland, you've known Barack Obama. You're from Chicago. You live there. You've known him a lot longer than any of us. What do you think his top issue is going to be right away?
ROLAND MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST, NATIONAL TALK RADIO HOST: Well, I think, as Gloria said, energy, because, one, you saw the poll results when it came to offshore oil drilling, in terms of how all of a sudden that changed because of the high gas prices. Also, he constantly talked about the issue of "green jobs" tied to energy. And so you have ability to tie that to the economy, as well. And so if you're able to create those kinds of jobs, you sort of get a twofer -- you deal with the energy and you deal with economic development at the same time.
BORGER: Yes --
KING: He's going to get some help here from Al Gore. There was a newspaper ad today -- a full page newspaper ad in major newspapers --
KING: -- from Al Gore's political committee. And I'm told that Al Gore is going to have some unlikely allies, I assume unconventional allies in pushing for the whole climate change and economic -- tying it into the economy and jobs.
BLITZER: He might have an ally in John McCain, also, on that.
BORGER: He might.
KING: He could very well.
BORGER: He might. And Barack Obama is going to have to say to liberal Democrats, no, you can't.
BORGER: He's going the have to do it a few times.
MARTIN: And trust me -- and that's where Rahm Emanuel comes in.
BLITZER: You know, look...
BORGER: And he's going to thread that needle and try and be a little Reagan-like, if you will.
MARTIN: No, and the thing is -- look, when he kept talking about Ronald Reagan in the battle, that wasn't just him throwing some things out there. Barack Obama has studied Ronald Reagan. He has studied how he was able to take an agenda and transform a party to transform a nation. And so he is thinking like that. I know Bill Clinton was a little upset because he was talking about he wasn't a transformative figure.
BORGER: Right, I remember that.
MARTIN: But trust me, he's looking at the Reagan model for how he wants to lead.
BLITZER: Look at these pictures. And I want all of you to turn around. Look at the pictures up there in the wall. "The Washington Post" and "The New York Times," their headlines, historic front pages today. You know what happened? They ran out of newspapers and people rushed to "The New York Times," rushed to "The Washington Post." They wanted to savor that front page of the newspaper and sort of have it for the rest of their lives. And they had to print special editions for these folks -- Gloria.
MARTIN: The "Chicago-Tribune" and the "Chicago Sun-Times," as well.
BLITZER: All over the country I think it...
BORGER: Well, as somebody who also writes for a print outlet, it does my heart good to know that people are actually still interested in buying newspapers because...
MARTIN: At least for one day.
BORGER: Well, at least -- whatever. I'll take it for a day.
MARTIN: Right. Right.
BLITZER: People are going to look at all those covers, all those front pages and they're going to want them. All right, very quickly, let's government around -- Gloria, Sarah Palin, her future?
BORGER: She's got to go back to be governor for a couple more years. I'm not one who believes she's the future of the Republican Party.
KING: There's an opportunity. I don't know if she's the future. She will have to prove herself. There's a huge vacuum. There are people trying to form a political committee for her. It is a great question to ask six months from now, when we see if the Republican Party has managed to come out of the ashes.
MARTIN: Sarah Palin will have a great two years, but she will not be -- not be the GOP frontrunner in 2012.
BLITZER: Who will?
MARTIN: And unknown person.
MARTIN: And think about it -- we did not know he would be the nominee four years ago.
BORGER: Somebody in the statehouse somewhere getting ready to make a national play.
BLITZER: Yes, we'll see.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You never know.
BLITZER: Who gave the keynote address at the Republican Convention this year in St. Paul? Do we remember?
KING: That depends. Rudy did.
BLITZER: Yes, Rudy Giuliani.
KING: Rudy was the keynote.
BORGER: We thought it would be Bobby Jindal, remember?
BLITZER: Bobby Jindal of Louisiana.
BLITZER: A very popular young governor.
BORGER: Right. A young star.
MARTIN: It could be.
BLITZER: All right, guys, thanks very much.
Tears, group hugging, promises of puppies in the White House -- just a few of the dramatic sidebars to last night's election. And we're going to bring you a few of them in just a few minutes.
But first, a clearly emotional Oprah. She reacts to Barack Obama's victory. A one-on-one with Oprah straight ahead.
BLITZER: Lou Dobbs walking in here to the CNN Election Center to give us a little preview of what's coming up at the top of the hour -- Lou.
LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: I should have been running instead of walking, right?
BLITZER: He's walking slow. You're--
DOBBS: How are you doing?
BLITZER: Good. Thank you.
DOBBS: Boy, congratulations on a great night last night.
BLITZER: Thank you very much.
BLITZER: A big team.
Well, tonight, we're going to be focusing on all that, of course, we've been reporting on this network now for lo these many hours. We're going to be focusing on the election. We're going to be talking with some of the people who are most affected, of course, the folks all across the country who will be looking at is there a thing such as socialism in our future or is it a turn to centrism and moderate policies that can forge a new consensus in the next four years?
BLITZER: You've got an Independent perspective.
BLITZER: That's coming up.
DOBBS: You'd better believe it.
BLITZER: We'll be watching at the top of the hour -- Lou.
DOBBS: Thanks, Wolf.
BLITZER: Thanks very much.
Many people in America and around the world are saying that they feel last night's election results represent something larger than just a political victory for Barack Obama. Long time Obama supporter Oprah Winfrey is one of those people. She explained her feelings to CNN's Alina Cho.
ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: How does it feel tonight?
OPRAH WINFREY, TALK SHOW HOST: It feels like hope won. It feels like it's not just a victory for, obviously, Barack Obama. It feels like America did the right thing. It feels like there's a shift in consciousness. It feels like something really big and bold has happened here -- like nothing ever in our lifetime did we expect this to happen. Something big just happened. It feels like -- it feels like anything is now possible. And I think a --
CHO: I'm a woman of color. You're a woman of color. But --
WINFREY: We're women of color.
CHO: But how, what -- how does it feel? I mean this is the--
WINFREY: Well, you know, I think that the beautiful thing about Barack Obama is, you know, when -- throughout this whole process, one of my favorite endorsements came from Colin Powell, when Colin Powell said he understands -- Barack Obama understands that all villages matter. I mean it brought tears to my eyes because I thought, yes, that is it. So it doesn't matter.
CHO: Did that seal the deal for you?
WINFREY: Well, I was already sealed. I was the deal. I was in the envelope already. But this whole process, for me, has been something that I knew that this was the moment for me to stand up, regardless of, you know, whatever kind of, you know, heat I had to take or what people's responses would be. I knew this was the moment.
CHO: It's been a long 22 months. So what now?
WINFREY: The best is yet to come. I mean, listen, first of all, jeez, you know, if I -- you know, if I have a chance to talk to him, interview him, I think--
CHO: I think you have --
WINFREY: I think I might, but --
WINFREY: You know, I wonder, does he wake up in the morning and go what have I gotten myself into, because this country is in bad shape right now. But I think that what he is going to do, more than anybody else could, is help us all to understand that it's not one person.
CHO: One more question --
WINFREY: It's not one person who's going to unify this country.
CHO: One more question.
CHO: You've got -- you've got this little thing called "The Oprah Show."
CHO: But would you consider an ambassadorship?
WINFREY: Would I consider the ambassadorship? That is -- I have "The Oprah Show." Listen, I can honestly say this --
WINFREY: I did this and I had no agenda. I had no agenda.
BLITZER: Oprah Winfrey pretty excited. A lot of people are right now.
Jack Cafferty is joining us with "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.
CAFFERTY: You know, back during the primaries, there was a time -- remember that weekend when she went out and campaigned with him? It might have made the difference.
BLITZER: She certainly helped him a great deal.
CAFFERTY: Absolutely. And she took some heat for it, too.
BLITZER: She really did.
The question this hour -- what's priority one for the new president and the new Congress?
Michael says: "The laundry list of issues are all interconnected. The question is: How well will President Obama and his team construct an overall policy to address all of the issues simultaneously? It'll take a little time, but if I must offer just one priority, then it's Iraq. The $10 billion a month we waste there, not to mention the wear and tear on our troops, one of whom is my son."
Ellen in Casa Grandee, Arizona: "Our energy solution should be put into place as soon as is possible, including all tax incentives and special federal loans that'll put us on the road to energy independence quickly and without partisan politics. This will also help mitigate our job loss problems."
Larissa, Galesburg, Illinois: "Place strict regulation on the Federal Reserve and the financial institutions and check the power of those who speculate in our markets."
Sandra writes: "It's the economy, stupid." I've heard that before -- the stupid part.
Brian in Trinidad: "Priority one is to start delivering on those election promises. There are no excuses anymore. Clear majorities in both the House and Senate, the president's overwhelming mandate from the people."
Susan in Tuscaloosa, Alabama: "End the war in Iraq, bring our sons and daughters and our money home."
And M.W., also in Arizona: "Number one, he must place a freeze on the home mortgage foreclosures, while he puts his fiscal mandate together. He signed the bill to pass the $700 billion bailout to Wall Street. He must now extend that breathing room to the actual people who are footing the bill." That would be us.
If you didn't see your e-mail here, you can go to my blog at CNN.com/caffertyfile. We have got a lot of mail today. Of course, this thing was on for four hours, so, wasn't it?
BLITZER: Only four hours.
CAFFERTY: It seemed like more.
BLITZER: You know, we won the ratings --
BLITZER: -- the last. Did you see how excellent that was? We beat not only the cable networks, but all the broadcast networks from 8:00 p.m. Until 12:30 a.m. It was one of the highest rated shows ever on CNN.
CAFFERTY: It was a -- it was a great presentation, a great broadcast. And that gentleman you were interviewing earlier, David Bohrman, is -- he's a genius when it comes to --
BLITZER: He is.
CAFFERTY: -- understanding what goes into this box that people watch at home. He really -- he knows more about television, I think, than anybody I've ever worked with.
BLITZER: Probably a few years from now, you'll stay home, we'll hologram you in into THE SITUATION ROOM.
CAFFERTY: I like that.
BLITZER: You'd never have to leave.
CAFFERTY: I like that.
BLITZER: And that's it. You could be in your pajamas.
CAFFERTY: How soon can we start that? BLITZER: We'll probably put clothes on you and whatever we want to do.
CAFFERTY: Dress me any way you want.
BLITZER: Yes, right.
CAFFERTY: If I don't have to leave the house, I don't care what you do.
BLITZER: You don't have to leave the house.
CAFFERTY: I'm up for it.
BLITZER: Jack, thanks very much.
CAFFERTY: You're welcome.
BLITZER: See you back here tomorrow.
On your "Political Ticker," a squeaker in Minnesota. The Senate race is close enough to trigger an automatic statewide recount. Republican incumbent Norm Coleman leads Democratic challenger, the former comedian, Al Franken, by about 500 votes. That's all. Coleman is declaring victory, but Franken is not conceding and is urging the recount to go forward. The Independence Party candidate, Dean Barkley, was third, with 15 percent of the vote.
Remember, for all the latest political news any time, you can always check out CNNPolitics.com.
A stunning victory, an instant celebration.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It may have seemed like new year's, but it was more rejection of past years.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Eight years of Bush? Oh, my God.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: CNN's Jeanne Moos will look back at election night. She finds it "Moost Unusual."
Plus, McCain-Palin workers shred some phone lists as they close a campaign office -- scenes after the election in our "Hot Shots."
BLITZER: Here's a look at some of the "Hot Shots" coming in from our friends over at the Associated Press.
In Alaska, McCain-Palin campaign workers shred some phone lists as they close down their campaign headquarters.
In Wisconsin, a woman begins to clean off the front window of a Obama campaign office.
In Detroit, newspaper boxes stand empty after quickly selling out. The Detroit papers reported historic sales.
And in Rome, nuns pass a poster that reads "the world changes."
Some of this hour's "Hot Shots" -- pictures often worth a thousand words.
From a new first puppy to deciding whether to invite "Obama Girl" to the inauguration, these are some of the less weighty issues the new Obama administration will have to consider. CNN's Jeanne Moos looks back at election night and finds it "Moost Unusual."
MOOS (voice-over): Heralded by honking --
MOOS: -- complete with countdown --
MOOS: -- it may have seemed like new year's. But it was more a rejection of past years.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Eight years of Bush? Oh, my God.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Remember, remember the 5th of November, the day we celebrate the people's avengers.
MOOS: President-Elect Obama was rolled up. His favorite slogan lit up the night.
OBAMA: Yes, we can.
AUDIENCE: Yes, we can!
MOOS: On this occasion, even ghosts were for Obama. And speaking of animals, the president-elect promised to make good on a campaign promise to his daughters.
OBAMA: You have earned the new puppy that's coming with us to the White House.
MOOS: And guess who'd like to come to the inauguration?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMBER LEE ETTINGER, "OBAMA GIRL": Cause I've got a crush on Obama.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MOOS: "Obama Girl" says she'd like an invite. Amber Lee Ettinger said she cried over Obama's victory. But no one seemed more moved than Jesse Jackson. To think that just a few months earlier, he was caught on tape saying he'd like to dismember part of Senator Obama. But old wounds were apparently healed by this.
BLITZER: And CNN can now project --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Barack Obama is projected to be.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President-elect of the United States of America.
MOOS: When President-Elect Obama took the stage, there was plenty of kissing and group hugging and mouthing, "I love you." But the Obamas weren't the night's only stars.
BLITZER: You've never seen anything like this on television. We beamed you in here into the CNN Election Center.
MOOS: Correspondent Jessica Yellin was actually at the Obama rally in Chicago.
YELLIN: There are 35 high definition cameras ringing me.
MOOS: CNN has a name for this.
BLITZER: All right, Jessica, you were a terrific hologram.
MOOS: So was the creator of the "Yes, We Can!" video, Will.i.am.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: All right, let's see if you can beam him in now.
MOOS: Sort of a cross between "Star Trek"...
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM SHATNER, ACTOR: Scotty, beam me up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MOOS: And Princess Leia in Star Wars.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is our most desperate hour. Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi. You're my only hope.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MOOS: Did she say hope? Beam him into the White House.
Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.
BLITZER: I'm not beamed in here, I'm really here right now. But who knows, one day what will happen?
Thanks very much for joining us.
I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Up next, "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT" -- Lou.