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Special Coverage of Primaries

Aired August 24, 2010 - 23:00   ET


JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening again. John Roberts here, sitting in for Anderson Cooper who is reporting tomorrow night from New Orleans, special coverage five years after Hurricane Katrina.

Special coverage as well from us tonight, crucial primaries in five states today. The very latest: CNN is projecting a winner in Florida's GOP governor's primary. We're also expecting to hear a victory speech in that race shortly.

We have a lot to cover, starting off with the latest numbers and John King. And John, just a little while ago, Bill McCollum came out and said, "It's going to be a long night; going to go into the wee hours of the morning. I guess he didn't know what you know.

JOHN KING, CNN HOST, "JOHN KING, U.S.A.": Well, he may be stubbornly waiting now for the final results to come but CNN has scrubbed the numbers pretty good, checked in with all of our sources down in Florida. We are now projecting Rick Scott, Bill McCollum's opponent Rick Scott, a businessman, a conservative. He ran a health care company. He's anti-abortion. He challenged the Obama health care law. He supports the Arizona immigration law and says maybe Florida needs something like that. Rick Scott will be the Republican gubernatorial nominee in the state of Florida.

Let's break down the numbers. Bill McCollum, the state attorney general, was his opponent; a former congressman as well, Bill McCollum; but 47 percent for Rick Scott, 43 percent for Bill McCollum, 92 percent of the precincts in. We have studied where the votes are still out, and we are convinced at CNN while we are projecting Rick Scott the winner, that he will hold on to this race, a very consequential election. Rick Scott, now the Republican nominee against Democrat Alex Sink, the race for Florida governor.

A big Senate primary on the Democratic side in the state of Florida tonight, Congressman Kendrick Meek overcoming huge spending by billionaire real estate investor Jeff Greene. Kendrick Meek winning quite convincingly 57 percent of the vote to 32 percent for Jeff Greene with 89 percent in. Kendrick Meek, an African-American congressman from the Miami area, now in a three-way race against conservative Marco Rubio and former Republican governor, now independent, still the governor Charlie Crist in that senate race. It's an absolutely fascinating race in Florida.

What are we waiting for tonight? We're still waiting out on the state of Arizona, John McCain trying to fend off a challenge from the right. J.D. Hayworth, the former congressman, challenging Senator McCain, the Republican nominee for president just a year and a half ago. J.D. Hayworth saying John McCain has lost his conservative roots, and John McCain attacking right in that campaign, leading in the polls going in. Results from Arizona should be coming in any second now, the polls have been closed for some time.

Another big test for the Tea Party tonight out in the state of Alaska, a test for Sarah Palin as well; incumbent Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski running against Tea Party favorite Joe Miller. He is challenging her from the right saying she spent too much time in Washington, D.C. Murkowski's dad also was a senator and rival with the Palin family, Sarah Palin has been supporting Joe Miller, the Alaska polls will close in about an hour, John. We will track those as well.

Consequential elections tonight, setting the stage for the biggest night of all. Of course, we are now exactly ten weeks from the midterm elections and tonight's votes in these states testing the restiveness on the right. One thing we have seen, John, throughout the night, the Republican primary turnout tends to be running significantly ahead of Democratic primary turnout in states where you have contests on both sides. Republicans think that is a sign the have the energy this year.

ROBERTS: John King for us. John, we look forward to the first numbers coming from Arizona in just a few moments.

Lot's to talk about now with the best political team on television. Our political analysts Roland Martin is with us, as well as CNN contributors, Erick Erickson, and John Avlon. Erick is the editor-in-chief of; John is senior political writer for "The Daily Beast" and the author of "Wing Nuts". And also joining us Susan Molinari, a former New York Congresswoman, a Republican and now a senior principal at the law firm of Bracewell and Giuliani.

Apologies but we have to do that every time we introduce them just for full disclosure.

Susan, let's take a look at the results in Florida with the GOP gubernatorial primary. Rick Scott looks like he has found a way to get past Bill McCollum, and when you look at this guy's history, he ran Columbia HCA, that company paid the highest fine ever for Medicare fraud, $1.7 billion. It does not sound on the surface like a guy who would have much of a political future.

SUSAN MOLINARI (R), FORMER NEW YORK CONGRESSWOMAN: Well, full disclosure, I'm a Bill McCollum supporter, I served with Bill and he has been a terrific AG and was a great member of congress, and I do have some of those concerns about Rick Scott. As I said before half- heartedly joking, but not really, I think the Republicans are expecting that he will continue to spend a lot of money to try and win the general election.

Look, John, there are these things that are beyond Republicans' control, but continue to be the wind at our back. We look at the unemployment rate that no matter what President Obama talks about or the Democrats try to do, can't shake loose. You see the Democrats running from President Obama.

We have, you know, the housing starts which we just talked about at an almost historic low. These are things that are going to continue to make people dissatisfied with the status quo and may give them an opportunity to look at some people who may have some issues on one hand, but who may promise change that the voters are greatly looking for. And as John Avlon has talked about what independents are looking for which is that divided government to try and bring some fiscal discipline and better ideas back into changing the unemployment picture.

ROBERTS: Erick Erickson, we have a statement from the Republican Governor's Association talking about Alex Sink, who's the Democratic challenger -- she won tonight. Trying to do what her husband Bill McBride could not do in 2002 when he lost to Jeb Bush. But when it comes to Rick Scott, is he going to he get much support from the Republican Governors' Association.

ERICK ERICKSON, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, REDSTATE.COM: You know, interestingly enough, I think that this race puts Jeb Bush in full position to be the great healer down in Florida. He supported McCollum and I mean full disclosure, I know Rick Scott fairly well. I have been sending him a congratulatory note here this evening during the break.

The establishment does not like him and they have the concern that Susan said. They're legitimate concerns -- I think they're overblown, but they're there.

Alex Sink, I got an e-mail from her tonight, referring to his millions as ill-gotten gains. The irony here is you're going to have a former bank executive against a former health care executive and both Republicans and Democrats have done a great job of demagoguing both for the past year.

Don't forget in Florida also, you have a third-party candidate Lawton Child's son, I believe, who is pulling at 14 percent already, getting a lot of votes from Democrat who are not big Alex Sink fans. So she doesn't have a shoe in on this race.

ROBERTS: Right. And Roland Martin, what do the Democrats do to try to win against Rick Scott in the gubernatorial race?

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, first of all, you will likely see the Democrats remind the Republican Governor's Association that they had admonished frankly Rick Scott on a couple of occasions because he was attacking McCollum and trying to link him to the indicted former head of the Republican Party down there in Florida.

So, don't be surprised if a lot of that Republican criticism of Rick Scott will surface in Democratic ads. You also have a situation here where you talk about a significant amount of insurance fraud there in the state of Florida. Don't be surprised if you see the Democrats on a national level try to attack Scott as much as they can. But the problem is, is likely going to spend upwards of $50 million between now and November. He is going to spend money at will. And so, it is hard to go after someone who has that kind of money who can simply saturate the airwaves with so many ads.

ROBERTS: You know, John Avlon, let me read you another part of the Republican Governors' Association statement here. It says, "Intraparty struggles are often difficult to watch and the contest in Florida has been a good example of that. That said, the primary is over, Rick Scott is the nominee, the general election has begun and our party now looks forward." Talk about unbridled enthusiasm.

JOHN AVLON, "THE DAILY BEAST": Let the great healing begin.

ROBERTS: Oh, my goodness.

AVOLON: You know Florida politics does often resemble a Carr Harrison (ph) novel. I mean it's pretty Wild West, swampland stuff down there sometimes.

But you have to remember that Bill McCollum is a very conservative guy. A very well-known figure backed by Jeb Bush. And the fact that Rick Scott who was behind in most polls as of a week ago pulled ahead is going to get a lot of scrutiny. He has been softened up a lot because of the health care issue, but there's another issue as well, one week ago Rick Scott launched an ad called Obama's Mosque.

And I think you're going to see a lot of scrutiny of that and the possibility impact it has, talk about this issue which has dominated a lot of the August debate and a lot of emotion surrounding it. And that ad may be partly to account for the surge that Scott apparently had over the past week.

ROBERTS: Let's stay with Florida but let's look at the Senate race now, and Susan Molinari we have a three-way race: former governor Charlie Crist -- former Republican running as an independent. Marco Rubio is the Republican nominee. Kendrick Meek is the Democratic nominee, and how do you see that race shaping up?

MOLINARI: Well, clearly, this is the Republicans' worst nightmare was not realize tonight which was that Kendrick Meek would lose and that the Democrats would then feel that they had the opportunity and sort of the ok and the blessing to go support both financially and with regard to the Democratic structure, Charlie Crist.

What happens now is that clearly the Democratic Party, President Obama and everybody from the senatorial committee -- the Democratic senatorial committee has to do all they can to help elect Kendrick Meek which drives a little bit of a wedge between Kendrick Meek, Charlie Crist. In a lot of ways, they go after the same voters since Governor Crist has sort of intimated that he may sit as a Democrat if he were elected.

That really burst open the independents for Marco Rubio. If it were the other way around, if (INAUDIBLE) had won the Democrats would have gone with Charlie Crist and this could have been a much more difficult race for Marco Rubio.

ROBERTS: But what about, Erick Erickson, what about the independents there in Florida? Is it possible that the moderate wins and in this case moderate is neither Republican nor Democrat?

ERICKSON: You know, I don't think so, primarily a lot of independents in Florida the polling is already showing find really distasteful the opportunistic streak that Charlie Crist has been showing refusing to say who he would back and last week made an offhanded comment saying he would back whoever is in power, trying to position himself. That's is not playing well with independent voters who really are not in the habit for voting for a third-party candidate to begin with.

They're going to look Democrat and they're going to look Republican, and the irony here is that you have the sitting Republican Governor of Florida running as an independent, to a degree being shut out by the Democrats and Republicans now.

ROBERTS: All right. Everybody just stay. Stay right there if you could, because we have to take a quick break because we have lots to talk about.

We'll continue the conversation throughout the hour. Still waiting to hear from John McCain who is seeking a fifth term in the Senate; results are just coming in from Arizona. Stay with us. We will have the latest numbers for you.


ROBERTS: Polls are now closed in Arizona and the first results expected in just a few moments and John McCain hoping to successfully cap off a very, very fought primary race against former Congressman and Tea Party favorite J.D. Hayworth.

Let's head over to Jessica Yellin at who's at McCain headquarters for tonight. How are they feeling there Jessica? Because if it weren't for Sarah Palin would John McCain ever have a chance of winning this race tonight?

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Sarah Palin helped, but so did pouring $20 million into a primary here John, that's unprecedented. He saturated the state with ads and with his message and just trounced J.D. Hayworth in terms of spending.

It is, you asked how it is here, and it is a bit of a subdued crowd but I walked around and asked why, and it's because they all say they expect him to win. They're here just to show their support, and they don't think that this is going to be an upset if he is the victor. So that explains the mellowness in the scene, but they assure me that if he steps out on to that stage, it will become a raucous crowd at that point.

We are told that John McCain is expected to speak shortly after this is called. At some point, he will give about eight to nine minutes of remarks, and of course, I will let you know all about them when they are coming.

The bottom line on this race is John McCain was forced to run not just aggressively as I said, but run far to the right especially on his central issue -- immigration reform -- really emphasizing a strong on the border message. And the question is how will he have to change that? Will he should he win tonight -- John.

ROBERTS: All right. Jessica Yellin watching things for us at the McCain headquarters and we are expecting again, those first numbers to be coming in very shortly.

Meantime, back now with our panel: Roland Martin, Erick Erickson, John Avlon, and Susan Molinari.

Roland let's start with you. John McCain's victory, should it be one tonight in Arizona, means very little for the Democrats because it is expected that he would win by a landslide. But this whole transformation of John McCain that we've been talking about tonight, very different from the guy that we say running for President in the year 2000. What do you make of it?

MARTIN: I think it is shameful. It is shameful that when you have people on both sides who are forcing candidates to be so hard left, and hard right that frankly, you don't have people --

ROBERTS: Roland, sorry. Hold on to that thought, because we have to go to John King, just 18 minutes after the hour. I think we are ready to call Arizona.

Hey, John, what is going on?

KING: We'll end the drama for you John. We are ready to call Arizona. CNN now projects John McCain will win that Republican primary in Arizona. He will be the Republican nominee and he will have a chance to come back to Washington if he wins the general election. John McCain we now project has withstood the Republican primary challenge from J.D. Hayworth.

Here's the early results comings: 60 percent -- just shy of that for John McCain; 30 percent for J.D. Hayworth, Jim Deakin -- it's Jim Deakin, not Paul Deakin -- another challenger in that race -- with 10 percent of the vote. Senator John McCain we now project will win and win handily based on our project the Republican primary for senate in Arizona.

You were just talking about it with Jessica Yellin. I'm sure you'll talk about it now with the panel.

A challenge from the right, Senator McCain saw the attacks coming early, spent millions of dollars, outspent his opponent by huge amounts John, essentially disqualifying J.D. Hayworth to the voters before he could do the same to him. Senator McCain now will have a general election opponent. They're picking a Democratic nominee tonight, but he will be heavily-favored in the election to return to Washington where he has served now for 28 years -- John.

ROBERTS: That certainly did not take very long. John King, with the latest numbers for us tonight. John thanks so much.

Let's get back to Roland. And Roland, John King said there if John McCain wins in the general election, and that is a very teeny tiny little if. It is expected that he will walk away with this election.

Again, you were talking about the transformation; your characterization was that it was a shameful evolution from where he was in 2000, elaborate more on that.

MARTIN: Well, it is shameful, because the problem we have right now in Washington, D.C., we don't have enough people on the Republican side and the Democratic side who have the ability to put together, to actually push away, you know, the crazy hard voices and say let's actually reach compromises.

I mean look at what happened in Utah. You had a senator there who was a strong conservative, a moderate voice and they said, you know what, you are not even conservative enough. This is the problem we have. We can talk about, and Americans can talk all day in these ridiculous polls about how they want bipartisanship, and how they want everyone to get along. But when the moderates on the Republican side and conservatives on the Democratic side are forced out, you're like going to see more rancor coming out of Washington.

ROBERTS: John Avlon, what does John McCain's win tonight say about this anti-incumbent mood across the country?

AVLON: Well, it says that it has the limits. But John McCain has the advantage of, A, being a legend; B, $20 million. The fact that a former nominee of his party two years later faced a primary from the right from people who said he was not conservative enough, and the fact that John McCain has long been considered somehow suspect by folks on the far right is an example of what Roland is talking about. There's rhino hunting and dino hunting which has become epidemic in our politics.

The fact that John McCain a couple of months ago looked like he was going to be fighting for his political life from the right, but everyone knew he would win a general election easily, that speaks to a problem in our politics. We are forcing power to the margins and taking power therefore away from the vast majority of the electorate.

ROBERTS: Of course, when John McCain when he ran for president, he would have been, had he won, the oldest person to ever assume the presidency. Susan Molinari, let me read you something that John McCain said about how long to stay in Congress. He's been there 23 years. He's seeking a 5th term now.

McCain said, quote, "I have seen, much to my regret, a number of very wonderful men stay too long and we remember them how they are at the end rather than how they were at their most effective period and I don't want that to happen to me. And I'm not going to mention any names. We know who some of these people that stayed too long. And I don't want that to happen to me. I want to know when it is time to leave."

He said that in August of 2004. He was almost quoting verbatim from his 2002 book "Worth the Fighting For". And the question tonight, Susan, when it is time to get out?

MOLINARI: You know, I guess it is when you think that it is time and when the voters think it is time. You know, John McCain has nine lives politically and personally, and I think, you know, he has more energy and he has more stamina and he has more ideas and he has got more aggression in a good sense for political change than an awful lot of people serving who are half his age. I think he showed that by this primary.

He showed it by winning the primary nomination as somebody who worked for Mayor Giuliani, and you know, John McCain was a tough competitor. So, you know what, I think that he is going to come back in six years. And I think he's going to come back and be a great public servant and not only to Arizona, but to the people of United States as he always has been.

ROBERTS: Erick, wind up the segment for us. Do you think that John McCain still has a lot to contribute?

ERICKSON: Oh, of course, John McCain will have a lot to contribute, as long as he is around. You know, I don't get the hand wringing and oh, we're running to the margins and we're being handed off to conservative extremists. I want to beat the left. I'm a conservative, and I don't want to find common ground with him.

And on John McCain, I know that when he McCain gets back to Washington tomorrow, he's all of a sudden going to rediscover that, yes, as a matter of fact, I did call myself a maverick in 2008. We will never hear from a guy named Lindsey Graham, again, because John McCain will lock him up and retake as the voice of moderate Republicans finding common ground with the Democrats.

ROBERTS: So you expect that he will be old John McCain, do you?

ERICKSON: Absolutely. I think he's going to go right back to what he did now that the primary is over. Call me cynical, but I think that is what McCain is going to do. God bless him for it; he is no fan of J.D. Hayworth.

MARTIN: Erick, you don't get it, because you are the fringe. That's the problem. The problem is --

ERICKSON: I am happy to own it, because we are also going to be the winners in November.

MARTIN: This is the problem we have here, you people are so far left and so far right, that you are forcing individuals to make decisions that frankly are not in the best interest of the American voter. And that's not --


ERICKSON: In the country if we go to the right in my mind.

MARTIN: No, no, no you don't want the best of the country, you simply want the better interest from the far right, and I'm saying that is problem we have on the left and the right.


MARTIN: That is nonsense. That is nonsense, Erick.

ROBERTS: John Avlon?

AVLON: John McCain is a staunch conservative who has shown the willingness and courage to reach across the aisle to solve problems. That is a tradition that Lindsey Graham represents. That is a tradition which is increasingly MIA in politics because we have set up (INAUDIBLE) different system.


AVLON: The only conservative to the people in the New York and Washington corridor; to the people in the flyover country in the Mississippi river, they are not going to do that.

ERICKSON: To the people in Arizona, it seems pretty good.

ROBERTS: We have to blow the whistle on this play, folks. But stay with us with a lot to talk about.

Quick programming note, we are live throughout this hour. Larry King picks it up from us shortly with late coverage of his own. We're still waiting for the results in Alaska to come through.

Still ahead, we're expecting to hear from John McCain as our "CNN Primary Coverage" continues.


ROBERTS: More late primary results from Arizona as we wait for John McCain to speak. GOP governor Jan Brewer winning her primary; she will face Democrat Terry Goddard in November. Of course, Jan Brewer benefited greatly from that new immigration law that's now on hold in the state of Arizona.

First, Alina Cho here as we wait for John McCain following some other important stories for us. She is here with the "360 Bulletin" -- hi Alina.


You know, the White House is asking the broadcast networks for a prime-time slot exactly a week from tonight. Why? President Obama wants to deliver a major address on Iraq from the Oval Office. A senior administration official tells CNN the speech will mark the end of combat operations more than seven years after the start of the war. A plane crash in northeastern China today killed at least 43 people, but, incredibly, 53 on board survived. That is according to state-run media. Reports say the passenger plane overshot the runway and caught fire while trying to land in heavy fog.

The debate over building a mosque near Ground Zero took a new turn today. New York's Roman Catholic archbishop says he is concerned about the tone of the debate. After meeting today with New York's Governor David Paterson, Archbishop Timothy Dolan said he worries that the values of tolerance and unity are at risk.

With the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina just days away, there is late word tonight that former FEMA Director Michael Brown will broadcast his radio show -- yes he has one -- from New Orleans tomorrow and Thursday. Yes, we are talking about the "Heck of a job, Brownie" Michael Brown who was vilified for the government's bungling of the response to the storm.

"Keeping Them Honest", we will be listening to those radio shows starting tomorrow.

ROBERTS: We will be listening. Thank you.

CHO: Call me crazy, but, you know, I think the real news is that Michael Brown has a radio show, three hours out of Denver.

ROBERTS: We just heard from Jessica Yellin who's at John McCain's headquarters. John McCain will be speaking in about 20 minutes time and his daughter Meghan McCain has been tweeting tonight. Do we have a camera to come over to look at this? I have it up on the computer here.

McCain blog -- that's Meghan McCain. The first tweet that we got from tonight says, "Congratulations dad." And the second one, "J.D., way to have the, quote, 'biggest upset' in political history, and how about them apples?" Meghan McCain on Twitter tonight.

We have more primary coverage just ahead. Our political panel is back as we wait for John McCain to step up to the microphone in about 19 minutes.


ROBERTS: About 15 minutes away now from John McCain's victory speech, but first, let's go to John King who has the latest results for us from the state of Arizona -- hey, John.

KING: Hey, John, let's walk through the big races tonight. No big national message but certainly some important national consequences in these elections. John McCain we have projected as the winner in Arizona in that Senate primary. As soon as he lost the presidential race, he started running back home, because he knew he would face a challenge from the right.

We project John McCain the winner; let's show you the results as they come in so far. J.D. Hayworth, the former Republican Congressman was his challenger from the right, but as you can see John McCain winning handily 59 percent to 30 percent with half of the vote counted out in Arizona. Our projection is John McCain will win the Republican nomination. He will be the favorite there.

This is the biggest surprise of the night, former health care executive, Rick Scott, a conservative who had opposed the Obama health care plan then decided to run for Florida governor. He is the winner in the Republican primary; Rick Scott winning that race over the establishment candidate in the state of Florida. Let's look at the results, Bill McCollum, the state attorney general, a former member of the congressional leadership, endorsed by former governor Jeb Bush. Bill McCollum, losing to Rick Scott tonight 47 percent to 43 percent, almost done with the count in Florida -- 93 percent and counting.

This is the biggest surprise of the night so far. This is an anti-establishment message from the Republican voters in Florida. Let's look at the Democratic senate race in Florida a different result here. The establishment candidate Kendrick Meek, African-American congressman from the Miami area handily beating billionaire businessman Jeff Greene. This is a victory for Meek over millions of dollars of spending by this billionaire candidate.

President Clinton campaigned for Kendrick Meek. President Obama recorded a robocall. The question now, can Kendrick Meek be competitive in a three-way race for Florida's senate, conservative Marco Rubio and the independent Governor Charlie Crist, a former Republican. Kendrick Meek joins that race (INAUDIBLE) one of the more fascinating races.

We are still waiting tonight for a big test of the Tea Party out in the state of Alaska. Lisa Murkowski is an incumbent Republican Senator. She holds that seat, and her dad held it before her, she is running for re-election. First she needs the Republican nomination.

Joe Miller is the Tea Party favorite in the state of Alaska; among those backing him, the former governor and former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. That one's a bit of a personal feud with Lisa Murkowski. The Palin and Murkowski clans, shall we say, not on the best terms, John.

We'll still watch this one. No national pattern tonight, but we'll watch this Tea Party test there. And fascinating results in Arizona and Florida -- a lot to talk about.

ROBERTS: Yes, because Sarah Palin beat Frank Murkowski for the governorship in 2006? Right.

KING: That is right. And he had been senator before that and let's just say that Alaska politics, you talk a lot about the rock and roll -- rough and tumble Florida politics, Alaska is a lot of fun, too.

ROBERTS: So, it's a rematch by proxy tonight. So much fun. John thanks so much.

And let's bring back our panel, Roland Martin, Erick Erickson, John Avlon, Susan Molinari with us as well.

And Susan, let's look at this from the 30,000-foot level in terms of what is stake come November. When you look at the issues, CNN polling has found -- you can find this on -- the economy is the number one issue, 45 percent of people care about that; the deficit is the second issue, it's way back at 12 percent; health care 11 percent; illegal immigration 8 percent; and terrorism way back at just 4 percent.

So this really is all about the economy, Susan, and how do you think that's going to play out in November?

MOLINARI: Well, you know, the numbers that we're seeing right now and I think a lot of what we're starting to see in terms of this movement, this national movement towards Republicans and away from Democrats and particularly the economic agenda of President Obama, and you know, that is polling that is saying that and not just me shows that it is really giving the benefit of doubt to Republican candidates.

And we talk a lot about the all important independents and the independents now are breaking overwhelmingly toward Republicans, but one of the reasons they are breaking towards Republicans is that they trust Republicans, again, on the economy by about 6 percentage points versus the Democrats. So I mean this really does come down to jobs.

It does point to Roland's point earlier that the administration and the Democrats' failure to sort of stay on message in terms of what they are going to do to shake this 9.5 unemployment number. With housing start numbers coming out, with the stock market going up and down, and these are difficult times for the American population, and in difficult times they seek change.

ROBERTS: And you know, Roland Martin, Democrats have traditionally won on bread and butter issues, and we saw President Obama win on the economy, and Democrats far more trusted than Republicans. But when you look at the state of the economy, the unemployment numbers, the unbelievable deficits that we are running, is this going to be a real blow to Democrats come November?

MARTIN: It is going to be a difficult task, because they have to somehow explain to people how bad of a shape that we were in, and what they did to even get us to this point. Look, a lot of us have really short-term memory in terms that we somehow believe that the magic wand can be waved and all of the sudden, we can go from losing 750,000 jobs to somehow gaining 200,000 or 300,000 or 400,000, 500,000 each additional month.

What is really going to hurt this administration are some of their own words when Christine Romans said that the unemployment will likely get around 8 percent and maybe 9 percent. All of a sudden it goes up above 10 percent.

Also, you've constantly heard Democrats talk about the stimulus bill, how that was generating so many different jobs, but all of the sudden, you hear, well, a lot of the money had not been spent yet. All of that, it is a lot of stuff to state when your opposition frankly are simply using bumper stickers to get people's attention, that is the difficult task that Democrats have.

ROBERTS: When you have the economic numbers behind the Democratic Party is in now, it is very easy to get that all into a bumper sticker. Roland, I think you also meant 7.5 million jobs lost, not 750,000?

MARTIN: No, no, no. I'm talking about -- Democrats have been saying how many jobs we were losing per month.

ROBERTS: Oh, per month. Ok. My bad, Roland.

MARTIN: Per month. Prior to them taking over --

ROBERTS: Ok. Got you. You know, John Avlon, let's go to you, when independent voters look at the unbelievable numbers that we are racking up in terms of the yearly deficits, overall debt, are they just so freaked out that they don't know what to do?

AVLON: Well, I think that they do know what to do and they are inclined to vote Republican. That is the issue.

ROBERTS: But are they going to be any better when it comes to this?

AVLON: Well, that's the thing. Both parties have a massive credibility gap when it comes to spending. Bill Clinton passed on a surplus to a Republican President and Republican Congress. And that was squandered through spending in non-military discretionary spending. But, of course, that wasn't anything compared to what we have seen subsequently.

So look, independents have been deficit hawks since the days of Ross Perot. Again at a time, in an economic recession, when both parties seem to have been asleep at the switch when it came to really getting our fiscal house in order.

Republicans have the opportunity to say we got that message. We understand we need to be better stewards of spending and the economy. But the larger issue here also is independent voters in general are closer to Republicans on economic issues and closer to Democrats on social issues, so all the larger trends move in their direction.

ROBERTS: Erick Erickson, when you look at the economic state that the country is seen and the flagging economy and this can't restart, can Republicans really be any better than Democrats?

ERICKSON: You see this is the segment where we all agree. I agree with what Roland and John are saying and the danger for the Republicans -- I'm already starting to get e-mails particularly from conservative Republicans.

ROBERTS: I have to stop you right there -- sorry, Erick, hold that thought. John McCain is coming up to the podium. Let's listen. SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I'd like to thank my wife Cindy and three of our children who are here, Bridget, and Jimmy and Meghan are here, also. I'd like to thank them for their tireless dedication and support.


MCCAIN: The navy one is not here. We won an important victory tonight of which I'm truly thankful. I promise you Republicans and independents who voted for me and those Arizonians who did not, I will do my best to prove worthy of the honor. I have never and will never take your support for granted or feel I am entitled to your trust without earning it. For it is your trust and not the honor that I hold that is the great ambition and privilege of my life.

I have often said, I consider myself one of the most fortunate people in the world. Everyone's life has ups and downs, but I have had the honor to serve our country in good times and bad since I first swore an oath to defend her as a 17-year-old midshipman at the naval academy.

I know of no higher honor than that and I thank you and all Arizonians with all of my heart for allowing me the privilege to represent in congress our beautiful state and the interests and rights and dreams of the people who are blessed to call it home.

As you know, this was a tough, hard-fought primary, and my opponents Jim Deakin and Congressman Hayworth and their families and supporters deserve credit for having the courage to enter the arena and to give so much of themselves for the candidate they believe in. I wish them well in the future.

As gratified as I am for the support I received today, we all know that this election is not over. We have more than two more months of hard campaigning ahead of us, and I'm sure we will face a spirited challenge from the Democratic Party's nominee.

I promise you, I take nothing for granted. I will fight with every ounce of strength and conviction I possess to make the case for my continued service in the senate, and the policies and principles I will advocate and defend if I'm fortunate enough to be re-elected.

This will be a consequential election. No one should have any doubt about that. No one is satisfied with the current condition of our country. I know Arizonians like Americans elsewhere are rightly concerned with the direction that we seem to be heading in. Staggering unemployment, a devastated housing market, that shows little signs of improvement, and a river of red ink that threatens your prosperity and the prosperity of future generations of Americans who will struggle to pay the costs of mistakes made before they were born, and a government that doesn't seem to realize the trouble we are in, and do what is necessary to confront it forthrightly and fix it effectively.

I am convinced that Republicans will win in November, and we will regain our majorities in both the Senate and the House. We will win house seats right here in Arizona, and we will lead in Arizona. And when we do, we will stop the out of control spending and tax increases and repeal and replace Obama care.

We will keep families in their homes. We'll create new jobs and we'll allow our businesses to grow without Washington interference. We will secure our borders, defend our nation and bring our troops home from Afghanistan with honor and victory.

We must always act only on your behalf. We must share your concerns and understand your frustrations. We must help bear your burdens, fight your fights, defend your rights and support your dreams. I will fight to do the one thing every American generation has done, to leave a better country to their children, than the one they inherited.

Americans can't afford to continue on the course that we have been on. We can't continue to ransom your futures and steal from your children, the sake of growing government beyond the size that is necessary or wise or wanted. You should be trusted to make the right choices for your families with your own money, your own industry, your own dreams.

There are things that only government can do and we must do them better, and at less cost to you, and we must trust in the freedom of Americans to do those things for themselves that no government could ever do better than they can. We must trust in the principles of free people and free markets to recover the strength and innovation of our economy. We must make it easier and not harder for small businesses to help our economy grow.

We have never confronted a problem we could not overcome, and we never will. If I'm -- and if I'm privileged to win re-election I will continue to work night and day to help Arizonans and all Americans to overcome our present difficulties and succeed as we always have in building a better country.

I promise you, I will act always and only in what I believe to be the best interests of the state of Arizona and the country I love. And I will always be indebted to you for the privilege of serving you.

Thank you again for your support and encouragement. we have had a good night, and now, let's go back to work and fight as hard as we can through November and get our country back to building a future as great and honorable as our storied past.

Thank you, God bless. Thank you.

ROBERTS: John McCain tonight, accepting victory tonight over J.D. Hayworth in what was a hard-fought primary battle and McCain coming out tonight the clear winner saying that he is taking nothing for granted going forward expecting a tough fight against his Democratic opponent.

Thought "tough" may be all in lower case letters, and no capitals there -- he should win handily in the state of Arizona. Also predicting that Republicans are going to take back majorities in both the House and the senate. The House is a possibility according to many analysts, the Senate might be a little tough to do that.

Back with more primary coverage after this, and a reminder "LARRY KING LIVE" at the top of the hour.


ROBERTS: John McCain faced the biggest Republican primary challenge of his senate career and tonight he pulled out a victory. Let's bring back our panel, Roland Martin, Erick Erickson, John Avlon, Susan Molinari and John King.

And just before we went to Senator McCain's speech, Erick, you were making a point about the economy. I had asked you, given the state of the economy, you know in light of the dismal existing home sales that we saw in the month of July; down 27.2 percent, the lowest level in 15 years.

Even if Republicans were to take over power of both houses, is there really anything they can do differently to try to fix the economy than the President has been doing?

ERICK ERICKSON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I know this is going to upset a lot of my Republican and conservative friends, but I honestly think the best case scenario for Republicans is to take back the House and not take the Senate to get it close for the very reason that they're going to be able in that scenario to draw a contrast with the Obama administration without actually having to own them, because they won't get out of the Senate.

If they take back both the House and the Senate, then I think 2012 shapes up as a great year for Barack Obama able to really contrast with the Republicans. They're not going to be able to make significant changes; they're going to have to work together, so they might as well only take over the House side where they write tax policy and not the senate side.

ROBERTS: All right, let's go to John King who's at the magic wall tonight. John, let's take a look, let's pull back and look at this from the 30,000-foot level. What we have been seeing during these primaries over these last few months, how do you think it's going to translate nationally in the general election in November?

KING: Well, it's a fascinating question, John. And let's start with this map and let's start the premise that we don't know. We know some things, but we have 70 days before the general elections. This is the map that John McCain would just as soon forget, this is the 2008 presidential map, and you notice these blue states out west -- Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico.

That was the big part of the Democratic gains, right? Look out west this year and follow the west, the Democrats are in trouble out there in part because of what you've been talking about still rising unemployment out in the west which is why so much is in play.

Here's a look if you look at the House races let's take this one off and you look at House races across the country, this is a map that's more favorable to the Republicans right now and maybe it's better put this way. This is the challenge -- they need to pick up 39 seats to take over the House. Many people believe that is within reach for the very factors we've been discussing.

More bad economic news today, a flat line on the unemployment rate, 60 percent or more of the American people think the country is heading in the wrong direction and history tells you that spells a bad year for the incumbent party.

39 seats is what the Republicans need here, on the House side we'll make that go away. They need 10 seats here on the Senate side. Can it be done? Yes. Will it be done? We have 70 days to figure that out and we'll go state by state.

If we learned anything tonight, no national message. Anti- establishment candidate wins for Florida governor and doesn't win for Democrats Senate primary? McCain holds on, a lot of these you have to go state-by-state, race-by-race, a fascinating 70 days to come.

ROBERTS: It certainly will be an amazing campaign. John King, nobody does it better than John at the magic wall tonight.

Let's kick this -- this around, because this is -- this is -- it's a very interesting topic I believe because of the national fascination with Sarah Palin. Of course, Sarah Palin's reputation a bit on the line tonight with the fight in Alaska between Joe Miller and Lisa Murkowski. And she's thrown her support behind Miller, against Murkowski, it's almost a proxy battle, remember, she beat Frank Murkowski, Lisa's father for the governorship in 2006.

And -- and Susan Molinari, when it comes to the candidates that Sarah Palin has gotten behind since June 8th when Carly Fiorina won, Nikki Haley won in South Carolina, also Tom Emer (ph), Mary Felon (ph) and John Coster (ph) have all won. Of the 15 candidates that she's backed, five have won, 10 have lost. Her overall record is 11 wins and 10 losses. What does that say about Sarah Palin's power to influence the debate here?

MOLINARI: Well, I think the fact that we're talking about Sarah Palin tonight means she's still very much influencing the debate and while some of the candidates that she picked, clearly either when she picked and weren't going to win but she was making a statement about who she thought was the most conservative candidate; those who represented the ideals that she would like to see put forward on in the Republican Party and through her philosophy.

I -- I -- look, she is a large portion of the enthusiasm gap for the Republican Party, and she's going to --you know win some in terms of where she puts her finger on and lose some.

The President of the United States, and I don't know what his average is, but it's probably not any better, so I mean, these are races you have the take state by state.

And one thing I do know when Sarah Palin comes in and endorses, it usually means that there's more interest and more money --


MOLINARI: -- that goes to that candidate whether they can jump through the hurdle to win the election, it has an impact.

ROBERTS: And of course, you can imagine too that if Joe Miller loses and -- and it appears that he might is going to be spun as Sarah Palin can't even get a candidate in her own state to win.

But Roland Martin, when you -- when you look at here growing influence here in the Republican Party and in the Tea Party, do you expect that she is going to be a real force for 2012 and possibly even the nominee?

MARTIN: No. I think what she is doing is flirting with this and making tons of money. Look. Her endorsement is irrelevant, but also, most endorsements are irrelevant, we get excited in the media, we cover the speeches, but at the end of the day, it's what the voters in that particular district or state decides.

Remember, 2008 big hoopla in the media over Senator Ted Kennedy endorsing then Senator Barack Obama. What happened on the primary? Senator Hillary Clinton killed him by around 17 points. What this shows is -- we do stories, she's hot, she's cold -- it's irrelevant.


MARTIN: Get her endorsement, and get the media attention, raise the money but at the end of the day, you might want to run your own campaign because Sarah Palin is not on the ballot. I think she'll dance around this whole deal but I don't think there's anyway --


MARTIN: -- she's the nominee in 2012.

AVLON: Amen.

ROBERTS: Real quick, real quick because we only got 30 seconds left. Erick Erickson, do you think that she is irrelevant and she won't be a candidate?

ERICKSON: You know, I don't think she's going to be the candidate. I certainly think she's relevant but I agree with Roland that -- that a lot of her endorsements hasn't really mattered. South Carolina is probably one of the exceptions with Nikki Haley (ph) but --


ERICKSON: -- endorsements by in large don't matter. I mean, if they did we'd be talking about Senator Copley (ph) in Massachusetts. ROBERTS: And John Avlon, final thought, 15 seconds.

AVLON: Sarah Palin this year has proved that she's not only the most polarizing figure in the national electorate, she's become polarizing even in the Republican Party. That's really significant and I think over the last couple of months we start to see her to jump the shark, honestly.

ROBERTS: Folks it's great to see you all tonight. Thanks so much for helping us out. I really appreciate it.

That's it for this edition of 360.

Anderson is back from New Orleans tomorrow night.

CNN's Primary Coverage continues with "LARRY KING LIVE" -- Larry.