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CNN Coverage of the Iowa Caucuses;

Aired January 4, 2012 - 01:00   ET


WOLF BLISTER, CNN LEAD POLITICAL ANCHOR: Stand by, we are approaching the top of the hour and we've got more news to share.

Now, here is the latest vote that we have right now. It is so close, 19 votes separating Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney, 99 percent of precincts reporting. We want to welcome our viewers once again. Viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer, reporting from the CNN election center.

Let's go over and join our excellent team of correspondents, Anderson Cooper of course is here, Piers Morgan is here. We have a special guest right now. Rick Santorum is joining us at this hour.

You may be the winner. You're, by all accounts, the winner. It is a virtual tie. Let me congratulations you, senator Santorum. You have done an amazing, amazing job, as you well know. It was not that long ago, you were nowhere in Iowa. But now it is a virtual tie. You may win. You may lose by one or two votes. But for all practical purposes, you're a winner. Give us thought on how it feels.

RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, you know, this is the first step in the process and well be on to New Hampshire. We are going to work hard and compete there. You know, a little bit behind the curve in the sense that Governor Romney has been spending a lot of money and a lot of time up there. And has been running for six years.

But we feel like we can go up there and compete. We have a great team on the ground. We have -- my campaign manager is from New Hampshire. He started out as my New Hampshire guy. And so, he knows how to win races. He managed Frank Guinta's campaign up there. And we have a lot of Frank's campaign that able to win a top congressional seat up there. We have about 25 state reps already. This is before tonight, who signed up. And they haven't just signed-up. We have got some hard-working state reps up there. And you know that New Hampshire is all about grass roots politics and we feel really good that we will climb the ladder just like we did here.

BLITZER: Senator, Piers Morgan is here. He wants it ask some questions as well -- Piers.

PIERS MORGAN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, Senator. You must be feeling a bit like Rocky Balboa tonight. How are you going to knock out Mitt Romney?

SANTORUM: Well, there's going to be a rematch. And we're going to go to New Hampshire and take him on and we're going to run a campaign talking about my vision for this country. You didn't hear me going after people tonight. I just laid out what -- where America needs to go and how the Republicans need to address those issues and talk about, you know, strong economy and the make sure the economy is going to be vibrant for everybody in this economy and that we have an economy built on strong families too. That message would resonate, not just here, but will resonates New Hampshire also.

MORGAN: You made a very personal speech this evening and Mitt Romney made a very presidential speech, some would say, going after President Obama. Newt Gingrich meanwhile made, what sounded like, a pretty angry speech. It looks like he may turn out to be your corner man doing the fighting for you. How do you feel about that?

SANTORUM: Well, Newt is a good friend. And someone who I have a tremendous amount of respect for. I mean, he has been out there in the battles. I was here in Iowa. And I can understand why Newt is feeling the way he is. It was a pummeling that he took here on the hands of Mitt Romney and literally every commercial break.

And, you know, that's difficult when you have someone with those kinds of resources. And I can understand why he feels the way he does. But Newt is a fighter. He is going to stand up and articulate his ideas, paint his vision for the country, and we will have an opportunity to talk about those ideas on debates this weekend and I'm looking forward to maybe being a little closer into the middle than I was before.

BLITZER: I assumed, senator, you heard that John McCain is going to endorse Mitt Romney in New Hampshire tomorrow.

SANTORUM: Yes, that's fine. You know, I would have expected that. In fact, I'm surprised he hasn't done it earlier. But, you know, John McCain is a great man. And he is someone who was an honor to serve with. He served this country and sacrificed more than frankly anybody that I've had the privilege to know in any way.

And so, I commend Governor Romney for getting his endorsement, but I'm not surprised by it. I mean, John is a more moderate member of the Republican team, and I think he fits in with Newt's -- excuse me, with Mitt's view of the world. And you know, I wish him the very best. Again I have nothing but respect for John McCain.

BLITZER: A lot of us remember when you endorsed John McCain in South Carolina just before that primary four years ago and it looks like new that he is going to endorse Mitt Romney --


BLITZER: Go ahead.

SANTORUM: No, I didn't endorse John McCain.

BLITZER: Excuse me -- excuse me. I meant to say Mitt Romney. I'm sorry. You endorsed Mitt Romney four years ago against John McCain. Looks like it could be a little payback at this point. SANTORUM: Well, you know, look, John McCain is not paying me back. I mean, John McCain is doing what he thinks is right for the country and I respect that. He has always done what he thinks is right for the country and I respect that with him. I've had my disagreements with John McCain over the years, and I'm sure I will in the future. But John is a patriot. John will do what he thinks is right and I commend and certainly encourage him to do that.

MORGAN: And Senator, you seem like a very nice chap. When I interview you, you always seem like that. But, the reality is now you are the number one opponent. Mitt Romney is going to chuck the kitchen sink at you. How you are going to do in this nice touchy feely way you have conducted yourself so far? Isn't it time to get serious and take the gloves off?

SANTORUM: I think I'm a pretty serious guy. In fact, one of the criticisms I have in the debates is that people say, well, you know, you are a little bit tense. You're a little bit, angry and a little bit too passionate. In fact, one of the debates that I had about half way through, one of these early debates, I walked over to my wife and she just looked very sternly at me and said, chill.

And so, I don't think that my problem is going to be intensity. I can be a pretty intense guy. But, you know, this is a family fight. This is a different kind of fight than when you're fighting against people who want to take this country in a fundamentally different direction. And we are going to draw distinctions between Mitt Romney and myself and our records and this vision for the country as I will with the other candidates in the race. And that's what primaries are for. But it is also about talking about you what want to do. And whether you have the courage to, and track record, to provide that kind of leadership.

BLITZER: Senator Santorum, good luck down the road. I like the jacket. I like the shirt and tie. The sweater vest is good on another occasion. But you dressed appropriately for perhaps winning the Iowa caucuses tonight.

SANTORUM: There was --

BLITZER: Go ahead.

SANTORUM: There was a fair amount of controversy as whether I should pull the vest out or not. But, we decided, it's the night for more formal attire. But you will be seeing the vest a little bit down the road.

BLITZER: We know we will. Senator, we will be speaking to you down the road. Good luck in New Hampshire and South Carolina, Florida and wherever the contest goes. Senator Rick Santorum.

Piers, Anderson and all the guys, when you think about this, when you think where he was, it is really amazing, Anderson, how quickly within a matter of two, three weeks, this has turned around in Iowa.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Well also, how does the race change if in fact Perry is dropping out? Which it seems like -- I mean, he is talking about going back it Texas, praying on it, thinking about it, talking to advisors about it. If he drops out, how does this change, the count go for Rick Santorum?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: A little bit. But if you look at the polls actually in New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida, Rick Perry was only getting five, six percent. So it is not a big change. And he got 10 percent here in Iowa.

COOPER: And in terms of money too, I mean, Rick Perry was a big money draw. Does that --?

GERGEN: It may be easier for him --

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: I was talking to someone from the Santorum campaign today who said that they raised more money on-line in this past week than they had raised throughout the entire campaign. So clearly, you know, success will certainly help them and maybe they can get some of those Perry voters.

I was curious at how nice he was about John McCain. When you asked him about it, Wolf. Because I was e-mailing with somebody who knows both of them very well. And said that this is very personal. From the McCain side of it. He doesn't like Santorum. He doesn't like Newt Gingrich much. And so, that makes up for what he felt about Romney four years ago.

COOPER: So to attack John McCain at this point --

BORGER: No, no, no.

MORGAN: But, isn't it a reality -- I mean, at the moment Mitt Romney cannot get past 25 percent anywhere. This is the level he earned. If you are someone like Jon Huntsman who put all your eggs in the New Hampshire basket, it may not be over. You might be sensing a bit of light think, look, this guy has a limb knit this party.

And I can see -- I would imagine Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry pulling out. You have four contenders left. By the way you spoke tonight, Newt Gingrich is probably going to be the enforcer to Rick Santorum, and I'm imaging this brings Huntsman back into play. I wonder what you guys think.

GERGEN: I think Hunts an maybe back in play. We will have to wait and see. But, you know, what is interesting now, we may have a lot of conversations at this table tonight about the fact that Mitt Romney is very, very likely to win New Hampshire by double digits. He is a ranked 40 percent in New Hampshire. Jon is at 25 percent.

But, if you look in South Carolina and Florida, he is actually in some trouble on those two states. He is running double-digits behind in South Carolina. He has been behind in Florida. Over the last couple of months, he's been behind in both of those states. So the truth is somebody could catch him in one or both of those states.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: We haven't add poll for a while though in to states. I think it's also fair we also talk about the donors, who ever these are. I mean, big money is all behind Mitt Romney. And it has been ardently so. Rick Perry had a little bit of that, you know. So with the extent that Rick Perry really gets out, I think that does put money in play.

But you know, as I have seen, one of the surprises for me was that when you look at the big donors, they are not completely adverse to putting money behind someone like Rick Santorum but not as long as Mitt Romney is in the race. That's where you get all that --

MORGAN: I think the public are going to like Rick Santorum. I think he is resonating with the average American much better than Mitt Romney does. Mitt Romney is still perceived to be slightly disconnected from the average Joe on the street. Rick Santorum's speech --


COOPER: Once you start to look deeply at his policies, I mean, there are some policies a lot of people consider extreme on contraception and a lot of issues. So, on a personal level he may be more likeable. The question is, are his policies more palatable than Mitt Romney.

BORGER: You have to see how he wears. And we haven't seen him at the center --

COOPER: As he said -- I mean, he has always been on the periphery.

BORGER: That's right. So now, he is going to be --


GERGEN: I will go to you Anderson on policy quite a lot. I think his scrutiny may hurt him. But to go back to Piers' point, there is something about the fact that he has seems fresh.


GERGEN: He's been so much on the first period. This is the first time most Americans have actually listened to him for more than 30 seconds.

MORGAN: If you heard that speech tonight coming to him cold, you are going to like him. Now, the policy issue is very interesting and very important. And on some of it, he will be seems as extreme. However, he is likeable and I'm not sure that Mitt Romney has that kind of connection yet.

BLITZER: One thing we shouldn't forget though, a lot of viewers of FOX, for years he was a FOX News political contributor. So, they got to know him over the years just like Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin have been FOX News Contributors. He has been as well, Rick Santorum.

So, as much as a lot of Americans may not know him, a lot of Republicans conservatives who watch FOX know him because they watched him for many, many years.

BORGER: You think it helps him?

MORGAN: I think it helps him. He is not an unfamiliar figure.

BURNETT: Why did he take so long then? I mean, he's the last guy to have the momentum. If they knew him and liked him, wouldn't he have been more earlier?

MORGAN: Hasn't he just gone around this in a very unique way. Going around Iowa again and again and again. Putting all his eggs here. You got to admire the guy for hard work. For playing the old- fashioned way, this caucus.

BLITZER: His only interview that he did tonight after the speech he gave was with us on CNN. Which obviously we're happy to do.

BORGER: Can I just say telling about Romney? Romney has Governor Nikki Hailey endorsing him in South Carolina. She has put a lot on the line for him. That's going to be very important to see how that works out. And also, Florida. We cannot forget Florida. It is a diverse state. It's a very expensive state. And that could end up being --

GERGEN: So if you were Romney, who would, you direct your attacks against, in South Carolina?

BORGER: Well, Barack Obama. How about that. I mean, that's --

MORGAN: I think that's right. I think his strategy is -- because it sounds presidential. He is taking on the top guy and leaving his own party members alone. But, I think what's going to happen with Newt Gingrich is fascinating. Because this guy, from what I sense when I interviewed him last night, is ready to explode.

Everybody knows the Mr. Nice guy thing isn't really him. He is wrestling with this terrible demon now of being an angel and actually he wants it be a devil and I think the devil's horns will come out tomorrow. And just from the way he is talking --

BLITZER: I think they came out tonight.

BURNETT: They started to sprout.

MORGAN: Mitt Romney will feel the heat of the real Newt Gingrich that can be interesting.

COOPER: And Candy Crowley is standing by with Mary Matalin and Donna Brazile.

Candy, you are still at Romney headquarters. I'm not sure if there is a much of a party still going on there. But certainly, they already now talking about New Hampshire, on to New Hampshire tomorrow.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Their heads have been in New Hampshire all along. I think the big surprise to them was Iowa in the last couple of weeks. But let's pick up as we go.

It seems to me what Mitt Romney needs is a big suit of armor and Newt Gingrich is going to play bad cop. Rick Santorum looks like he is going to play good cop. And Gingrich looks for some running room. How do you see it going from here?

MARY MATALIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: That's exactly right. I'm sure the Romney campaign is prepared for a smaller field with the guns turned on him. What they might not be prepared for, and this will be a challenge, he has to go up against the David and goliath narrative, which is one that the press loves, people love. He can't attack Santorum. He can't just turn to Santorum that he did to Newt. That might not be a challenge they had prepared for. I think they are thinking tonight.

DONNA BRAZILE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Rick Santorum leaves as the comeback kid, flavor of the week, how much money can he put together a grass root organization overnight in New Hampshire. Can he capture Christian's conservatives in South Carolina? We'll see.

But the next couple days, he will get into Rick to get bounce from his victory tonight or whatever comes out of results tonight.

CROWLEY: Well, how does Mitt Romney go about getting at Rick Santorum or does he leave it to the PAC? To the outside group that supporting him. Because the fact of the matter is, I think that Mary is absolutely right, that there is this story line of, here this guy came out of nowhere. And he didn't spend very much money and Mitt spends all this money. So, I think he is going to have to push pretty hard against that.

BRAZILE: My sense is that Romney is going to continue to run a general election campaign, focusing on President Obama, attacking President Obama and try to ignore his Republican colleagues until maybe another one of them drop out of race.

CROWLEY: Outlast them.

MATALIN: Well, and there's a debate Saturday night, which will be almost as interesting tonight. But he has it stay the course. He probably won't -- he can't do the super PAC. But, he has got to do and it's not -- this is something we haven't seen Santorum up against, which will be the meat grinder, which starts at o-dark-hundred tomorrow. And Mitt sending out the debate and Mitt is going to have to double down and stay on Obama.

CROWLEY: And it is not just money at this point. It is also, who have you got in the state that's working out ahead of you? And there's no real sign that there's a lot of that for Santorum right new. And that puts him in a huge hole.

BRAZILE: Well you know, earlier tonight, I noticed that he was tweeting and sending e-mails to his followers. He is trying to raise money. He is trying to put together an organization. Essentially, he is trying to do what Newt Gingrich attempted to do a few weeks ago, which is to catch up with the momentum that he generated. I don't know if he can do it in 24, 48 hours.

MATALIN: Whoa, he's got pretty serious operation in New Hampshire which he detailed. When he gets to South Carolina with Perry out, and Bachmann surely be out, then there's a smaller field contending for the evangelical votes. So that's tough for Romney. And that's -- if Santorum knows how to do it, and he seems to is showing some political prowess and meat grind it on the way there, then we're going to Florida.

CROWLEY: Absolutely.

BRAZILE: Absolutely, Florida.

CROWLEY: Other than a big lawn drawn out expensive nasty fight, what are the Democrats looking at this race tonight, wanting?

BRAZILE: Well first of all, the Democrats were able to get over 25,000 people to the caucus tonight. And President Obama addressed his supporters. He raised money as well tonight. So, what Democrats are hoping for is that the Republicans continue to battle it out and President Obama will talk to middle class voters and remind them of all of the things he has accomplished.

CROWLEY: This is going to work?

MATALIN: Well, this is the same thing we said the last go- around. Get Hillary and let's go. And it strengthened both of people and the ultimate victim was the Republican candidates. So, I think I heard they -- either way we are talking about a contrast for Obama. And these candidates are not going to go -- they will go further contrasting with Obama than going against each other. So it really doesn't matter if he goes on.

CROWLEY: We came into the night saying three things. The first, I want to see if you still agree with them given the outcome. First is that Ron Paul will never be the Republican nominee. They all consider him too far outside the main stream. Is that still the case?

MATALIN: I think it'll be the nominee but he will continue to actively mobilize people which we agree is a good thing. But his foreign policy cannot comfortably fit in a Republican or even in main stream Democrat.

BRAZILE: He may not be the nominee but he will be a factor in the race ahead because he has an organization. He has firm supporters and he has money.

CROWLEY: The other is Newt Gingrich does not have the personality to be able to go the distance and to look presidential while he does it. Is that still true?

MATALIN: I did not think that whatever that speech was tonight. He is just -- he is exuding a mixed message. I'm doing a positive campaign with this angry, just -- his eyes are going to pop out of his head. I love him. He ran a heroic campaign, but it was over for him the minute he said, I'm going to be the nominee. BRAZILE: Well, he sounded bitter and he looked, you know, very tired and angry, vindictive. He really needs it take that face and leave it behind and go to New Hampshire and try to make a real case for his Candidacy.

MATALIN: He is a great man, does mean a great deal to the Republican Party.

CROWLEY: But negative is not his best side.


BRAZILE: No, that wasn't a good --

CROWLEY: And the wrap on Rick Santorum was, you know, nice guy but there is no way he can put together. He was the little engine that could in Iowa but he cannot in the other 49 states.

MATALIN: Well it goes to the point. How far ahead of your supply line can you exist?


CROWLEY: Thank you. I tell you, Rick Santorum did a good job.

BRAZILE: Yes, he did.

CROWLEY: Donna Brazile, Mary Matalin, thank you so much -- Anderson.

COOPER: Candy. Thanks.

We have got a word from the Republican Party in Iowa that they are still counting votes, tabulating votes, from two counties. That is the hold-up at this point. Two counties still tabulating votes. Two precincts I should say. As soon as we get that information, obviously we will give it to you. A winner will be declared and we will bring that to you live. Our coverage continues after a short moment.


BLITZER: An amazing race. The Iowa caucuses. We still don't know who has won. Look at this, 99 percent of the precincts are in. Rick Santorum is 18 votes ahead of Mitt Romney, 29,944 to 29,926. Pretty close, I must say.

Let's go over to John King. John, we heard Anderson say we're still waiting for two precincts in Iowa it report.

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: That's according to the Iowa Republican Party and its spokesman. If you go through, you see 99 percent of precincts reporting. You have just mentioned 18 votes ahead for Rick Santorum.

Let's come in here, I will get it for you. Pick it up here 37 Scott County here. Our map shows votes here. The Iowa Republican party saying no. So, we need to synchronize and find out what happened here. You keep coming through here, Muscatine County, a hundred percent. Come up here, a hundred percent.

Most of these counties are coming in at a hundred percent. Clinton County is one of the precincts we are told that not matches. We have 97 percent of the precincts counted. Remember, sometimes in these communities two or three precincts meet at the same location. Governor Romney winning here. Not by a lot but by five percentage points.

So, if we are waiting for votes there. If they track what is happening in that kind in the rest of the night, potential there for Romney to make up ground. They say the other precinct is down here in (Inaudible) and Lee County, again, our data shows a hundred percent reporting here but one precinct could be a little off as the party report. That's what we are waiting for. And Wolf, look at it, it doesn't get any closer than that.

BLITZER: In Clinton County, I was there with Romney last week. There are still votes outstanding in Clinton County.

KING: We have some votes outstanding in Clinton County. Three percent of the precincts.

BLITZER: Because Romney did well in Clinton County I can see.

KING: Romney carried it again and, again, we are talking a very small number of votes, 31 percent of the vote, 386 votes. Senator Santorum second. Again, if there is a precinct out and it tracks these percentages, there is enough for Governor Romney to make out the 18 votes. Make up the 18 votes that senator Santorum is ahead right now. But that's speculation. You don't know that specifically this one precinct will track the rest of the county.

They tend do when you get up to 97, 98 percent of the votes. But we are waiting now for the narrowest of margins. That's to say, who came in first. Whoever wins here, is going to win by a votes you can count votes with a couple sets of hands.

So, we are going to have a dead heat in Iowa. And if you look at the map, the breath of the Santorum is pretty striking.

There's one thing I want to show quickly. Look at all these counties, Piers, earlier -- I will borrow the Rocky Balboa analogy. Rocky Balboa in most of those fights took a beating from most of the rounds and finally won in the end, right. Rick Santorum was taking a beating in this race for a long time.

Look at this, this is candidate visits. Rick Santorum visited all 99 counties. This is just from September. Look where the purple dot is. Look where the purple on the map is. Rick Santorum earned it the old-fashioned way.

If you look at Romney, the fewest visits of any of the candidates. He had the legacy left over from years ago. But, if the Romney campaign is looking at this map tonight, sure, they are happy to get out of here, they say, with a tie. A lot of them probably also thinking, three, four, five, six more visits, might be a little different.

BLITZER: Yes. Alright John, we will continue this conversation. But I remember when ways on his bus last week. We drove from Davenport to Clinton. We got to Clinton and there was a real enthusiastic Romney crowd there waiting for him. So, I'm not all that surprised in Clinton County over there. He is doing relatively well. Still a three percent of the vote out in Clinton County.

KING: Four years ago, Romney in the east. This year, Romney in the east. Strong for Romney but not as strong. And Piers made an interesting point earlier. Again, Governor Romney is way ahead in New Hampshire, 25 percent tonight, right? Just about 30,000 votes. Little shy, 25 percent tonight. We go back in time four years ago, 25 percent, 30,000 votes.

BLITZER: You think mike Huckabee is sitting out there, saying to himself, I wonder if, if he had decided to run this time, he might have done OK.

KING: Mike Huckabee, Hailey Barber, Mitch Daniels. There are a lot of Republicans thinking would a, could a, should a.

BLITZER: Looks like Sarah Palin is thinking that as well. Alright. Let's go over Erin and Gloria. They are taking a closer look at the entrance poll data coming in. We are learning a lot about what happened, Erin, inside Iowa.

BURNETT: That's right. And we have been showing you our neat wall here. We have been calling it the flicking wall. You can look at it by turnout and you can look at it by leaders. And now, obviously, that we know who the top players are of this virtual dead heat we can talk to you a little bit about what this means for the next step.

So, born again evangelical Christians, as can you see, Rick Santorum winning that vote. Those who didn't identified themselves going to Mitt Romney. In terms of the most important issue though, and the most important candidate quality, I want to hone in on that, the most important issue, if you thought was abortion, you went for Rick Santorum. If you thought it was budget deficit, you went for Ron Paul but if you thought it was the economy, you went for Mitt Romney. When it comes to the most important candidate quality, can defeat Obama, went to Mitt Romney.

I want to break that one down, a little bit here, because it is not too late to flick, even though it is 1:30 in the morning or too early or whatever it might be. OK, can defeat Obama. This is where you see the Romney strength.

BORGER: Yes. And this was Romney's whole campaign. He didn't come out and say he is electable because when you say I'm electable in Republican primary, people think you are a moderate. So you don't want to do that. But, everybody who was supporting Romney, most of the people said, that they thought he was somebody who could actually take on the president. Very, very important.

BURNETT: Alright. So, this -- he kept this race the way he wants it to be in terms of issues.

BORGER: Yes, he does.

BURNETT: But now, let's look at this. Most important issue, abortion. Overwhelming for Rick Santorum. And you think this is really going to change the tenor of the campaign.

BORGER: Well, it is interesting. Because Republicans in Congress and Republicans on the campaign trail, had been talking about the economy, economy, jobs, the economy, right? The last thing I think Republicans want to do heading into a general election is change that issue set to the social issues. Which are issues that quite frankly Mitt Romney has been trying to avoid in this election. Will Rick Santorum draw him into the discussion that he does not want to have about whether or not he is supported gay marriage and then change his mind and all of those issues.


BORGER: And would that help Republicans in a general election. They want to stick to the economy.

BURNETT: All right. And Wolf, before I send it back to you and Anderson, we will do a little reverse flick.



BORGER: Or maybe not.

BURNETT: Are you kidding? I got to do my reverse flick and failed? Oh, hold on. No, no, no.

BORGER: Right. One more try. One more try.

BLITZER: The back handed.

BURNETT: Oh, this is -- OK, all right.

BLITZER: Here we go.

BURNETT: Ready, Wolf? Are you ready?

BLITZER: I'm watching. I'm watching. Yes.

BORGER: Yes. Very good.

BURNETT: Third time is a charm.

BLITZER: Third time is a charm. Excellent flicking going on over there.

BORGER: It was the screen's fault. It was not --

BURNETT: Yes, yes.

BORGER: It was not Erin.

BURNETT: Yes, not the operator. All right. Anderson.

BLITZER: Let's go to Anderson right now.

Anderson, you're with Ali.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Have we all just given up? Is it like --


COOPER: Is this like 1:30 and everybody is like, let's just flick it?

BORGER: Flick around.

COOPER: Can you flick this thing?

VELSHI: I can flick. I will tell you --

COOPER: Good lord.

VELSHI: I will tell you it's evident, it's evident from the social media screen here that people are going to sleep because it's the first time --

COOPER: The social media screen -- again with the social media screen? My lord.

VELSHI: This is the future, Anderson.

COOPER: This is the third hit, I still don't understand what the hell this thing shows.

VELSHI: All right. I'm going to tell what you it is. I'm going to tell you what it is.

Every one of these dots -- Roland, stop laughing. Every one of these dots corresponds to a candidate.


VELSHI: Right? So these pink ones here have got to do with a candidate who got pink. Ron Paul is all over the map here. Right? So he's -- people are tweeting from each of these points.

COOPER: We know a lot of people tweet in America.

VELSHI: All right.

COOPER: That's why --


VELSHI: Let me show you something. In one -- stop touching the screen. In one hour.

COOPER: All right.

VELSHI: Five and a half thousand people have tweeted about -- everybody, put your cell phones down and stop talking.


VELSHI: All right. Let me show you Ron Paul. Ron Paul, of all the tweets that are out there, five and half thousand in the last hour, our software has determined that a thousand of them are positive, 178 are negative. All that stuff in the middle is -- we can't determine. It might just be facts that people are tweeting.

Take a look at Rick Santorum. He's got -- out of two and half thousand, so far fewer than Ron Paul, only 385 positives and 123 negative. And Rick Santorum, who's running third in our sentiment, our social rank, 358 identified as positive, 68 identified as negative.

You can see that Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney have been running close to each other in numbers.

COOPER: Right.

VELSHI: But look at the difference, all night, all day, for the last three days. Ron Paul exists in a very big way in the Twitter verse.

COOPER: You've been -- you've been tracking that for a long time.


COOPER: And that has held steady with Ron Paul.

VELSHI: That has held steady. Ron Paul is far and away the most popular candidate of all on Twitter.

COOPER: And his campaign -- I mean even last time around really did mobilize social media --

VELSHI: Absolutely.

COOPER: -- in the most effective way.

VELSHI: For two reasons. One is his libertarian audience likes the idea that Twitter and social media is not controlled by the mainstream media, number one. COOPER: Right.

VELSHI: Number two, we know he's been -- attracting a younger audience also engaged in social media. So that stands to reason but our numbers are sort of tracking in terms of what our exit polls are tracking.

COOPER: Right.

VELSHI: There's a tight race competition between Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney but in social media world Ron Paul is leading.

COOPER: You're doing a thankless job, Ali, and I appreciate it.

VELSHI: It's very clear that I'm psyched. I'm here all night.

COOPER: We will try to deal. We're going to talk to our analysts, to Ari Fleischer and Dana Loesch, Roland Martin and James Carville coming up in just a moment. We'll be right back.


BLITZER: I can only say three letters, OMG. Look at this. Look at what's going on. One vote. One vote right now separating Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum -- Mitt Romney has taken the lead with 99 percent of the precincts reporting, 29,957 to 29,956. I guess the only way it could get closer is if it were a tie. But one vote.

Let's go to John King.


BLITZER: John? One vote separating these two guys? As we speak. Right now.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: As we speak. And we wait for the final vote to come in. And I can tell you, I'm going to show you something and it's going to make you say, what's going on. Look at this, we're not getting a feed right now from the party any more of the county by county. So it is hard to say where exactly we're looking for. We're waiting for that to come back up. But we do know this. We know Governor Romney was leading over here.

We are waiting for a precinct down here in Keokuk. So we're going to wait as this one plays out, Wolf. But one vote. We can call it a tie but somebody wants the moral victory. We'll wait for that final precinct to come in.

BLITZER: Yes. Anderson, you ever seen a race like this before? One vote?

COOPER: It is a night of many firsts. I meant that.


COOPER: I think it was James Carville who during commercial break said like, what the hell is going on with counting the votes in these two counties? What is going on?

JAMES CARVILLE, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Yes. It just kind of -- takes about six hours to count the votes, you know?

COOPER: In these two precincts, I should say. But in terms of the race, how does the race change now? I mean if Perry is out, which it seems to be, Bachmann likely, although she didn't say that tonight. What is different tomorrow morning?

CARVILLE: You know, again, back to the same thing. First of all, the tone of the debates have changed. You've got fewer people up there and there'll be sort of more opportunities --

COOPER: I think your mic dropped. So let me -- give you -- there you go. Yes, that's right. It's 2:00 a.m.



COOPER: It's upside down.


MARTIN: That's the other side.


COOPER: Welcome to public access Channel 13.


FLEISCHER: Talk into the speaker.

CARVILLE: 1:30 in the morning. But no, I think it does kind of make some difference in the debate. Honestly, I have always thought that Romney is the only person in this field that has any chance to be the Republican nominee. I still think that more than ever tonight. But although I thinks his performance tonight was uninspired. I think in the end his people are justified in feeling like they dodged a bullet in Iowa. They got through it and just by attrition, they're going to end up being a nominee. Unless something just breaks down, then they have to think of something else.

COOPER: It is going to interesting to watch the relationship or sort of tag team nature of Gingrich and Santorum, you know, in their focus on Romney or -- I mean because they're being very cordial to each other tonight in trying to direct their fire elsewhere.

FLEISCHER: Are they going to finally set their sights on Mitt Romney? Which I've been surprised frankly it hasn't happen in the previous debates. Everybody was going after one of the underlings in the debate and nobody was shooting for the pinnacle which was Mitt Romney. That will happen now. But having said that, getting attacked by Newt Gingrich is somewhat like getting attacked by a porcupine. I mean he just points himself everywhere, attacks everywhere, no strategy, no consistent theme. And he looks so mean when does it. It's not the most effective attack. So I'm not sure, being attacked by Newt, is really that bad a problem.

COOPER: Do you think the attack ads, the super PAC ads against Gingrich, have been unfair? I mean there's certainly been negative -- Romney has said well, look, you know, it's not anything worse than the Obama administration or Obama PACs are going to throw at you during a general election so toughen up, essentially.

DANA LOESCH, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Exactly. He needs to stop complaining about the tone of the attack ads and start fighting back. That's his big mistake right now, is he's not fighting back. He needs to do it in a smart way, though. There's a way that Newt Gingrich can go, quote-unquote, negative without coming across as this grumpy Pea Paw. And I think that he's --

COOPER: As a what?

LOESCH: As a --


LOESCH: So he won't come across as some grumpy old Pea Paw. I think that --

COOPER: Pea paw? Is that like a grandfather (INAUDIBLE)?


COOPER: No, I get it.

LOESCH: But that -- I mean, I understand what Ari --

FLEISCHER: Is that Pea Paw? Is that --


LOESCH: I understand what Ari is saying, and that he -- you know, he does seem a little bit cantankerous at times but he has to fight back. He complains about the negative, you know, all these attack ads, but it's American politics. And the founding fathers were infinite times worse than what we see now.

MARTIN: Santorum also is going to have to deal with the scrutiny in terms of what he said this week. He made a comment as related to entitlements where he only mentioned African-Americans as if African- Americans are the only folks that get entitlements. He talked about how we shouldn't be celebrating diversity because --

LOESCH: He didn't --

MARTIN: Actually he did say it. I mean we ran the video and we talked about it today on Brooke Baldwin. I got it on my Web site. So you can go and take a look at it. He actually said it.

LOESCH: He like paused.

MARTIN: He didn't.

COOPER: We got a quick vote update. We'll come right back.



BLITZER: That would be me. Let's take a look over here. Four votes now. Rick Santorum has now taken the lead over Mitt Romney. Still 99 percent of the precincts, four votes, Rick Santorum ahead, Mitt Romney had been ahead four votes, 29,968 to 29,964.

All right, so that one vote margin, Anderson, it's gone to four. I guess that's a huge -- a huge margin right now.

COOPER: And about 10 or 15 minutes ago, we got word from the Republican Party that they are still tabulating the votes in two precincts. And that's basically what we're waiting for. We're going to take a quick break. Our coverage continues. We will have a result at some point very soon. We'll be right back.


BLITZER: What a dramatic night in Iowa. The Iowa caucuses. We still don't know the final result. We do know that 99 percent of the precincts have reported that it's about as tight as possible, 29,968 for Rick Santorum, 29,964 for Mitt Romney.

If you take a look at the Republican Party Media Center, we expect at some point, fairly soon, we are told, to get an official announcement from the Republican Party on the winner of the Iowa caucuses.

But Rick Santorum right now is ahead by four votes. Obviously that could change. But it's about as close as possible. I think all of us could say the same thing. I don't remember anything this close.


BLITZER: I remember Florida was 500 -- what, 532 votes?

KING: A landslide.

BLITZER: Yes. That is -- yes.


BLITZER: That was hundreds of votes in Florida. Here we're talking about four votes.

COOPER: Again, we hope to get results very soon. I want to go over to Iowa to Alex Castellanos, CNN contributor and Republican strategist, as well as Erick Erickson, editor in chief of who is standing by.

Regardless of -- well, do either -- I mean does it really matter at this point who wins, who gets first, who gets second?

ERICK ERICKSON, EDITOR IN CHIEF, REDSTATE.COM: No. Just thank God there is no recount in the caucuses. Lord, we'd be here until same next year.

Yes, Anderson, I got to tell you, though, I really think a lot of the conventional wisdom that's shaping up from a lot of reporters tonight across networks is wrong. This may have been a high turnout, a record high turnout in Iowa, but when you take out all of the people who came in for Ron Paul, even taking into account the percentage that came in in 2008, this is actually less of a Republican turnout than 2008.

And even being charitable, this isn't a yay, we're going to take on the president because we're decided about our field turnout. And more so, I don't think that this is a victory for retail politics for Rick Santorum. It is a victory for doing badly at retail politics. He went to all 99 counties repeatedly and never took fire until there was no one left standing to be able to take fire. That's not a victory for retail politics.

COOPER: So what does that tell you, though -- if the turnout, as you say, among Republicans was not record, was not as good, what does that tell you about the field of candidates?

ERICKSON: They're not excited. I mean look at what happened to Mitt Romney. I mean for the love of God, I've been saying for years that Mitt Romney has gone from 23 percent to 23 percent in six years. And he's still there. He can't get through the ceiling.

People aren't -- they don't particularly care for him. But you listen to Republicans in Washington, conservatives in Washington, they say he is the most electable. Well, he can't even beat Rick Santorum and barely beat Ron Paul.

COOPER: So, Alex, as you look forward in the next weeks -- go ahead, sorry.



PIERS MORGAN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, Erick, Erick, if I can ask you, Erick -- Erick, who do you think Rick Perry is going to endorse? Because that could be quite significant.

ERICKSON: Yes, you know, I think we're going to have to wait and see what happens with him. Is he actually going to get out? Is he going to give a last stand at the Alamo speech? Make (INAUDIBLE) last in? I don't know. We'll see. If he endorses, it'll probably be a guy like Newt. They like each other a lot.

CASTELLANOS: I think endorsements by candidates that have no votes really don't mean a lot. So I'm not sure that matters. What does matter if Perry gets out is that now you have Newt Gingrich unleashed to be kind of the blocking back, to try to push Mitt Romney to one side and you have Santorum who was scheduled to get a bunch of media attention over the next few weeks. He actually may get the chance to do a little bit of an end run.

He gave one of the best political speeches I've heard in a long time in this room tonight. He brought the crowd to -- you know, watered a few eyes in this room. And we saw a different kind of Republican than we usually see. This was a working guy Republican who talked about his grandfather's rough callused big hands that dug coal out of a mine to give a family an opportunity it wouldn't otherwise have.

This is a Budweiser Republican who's going to contrast with a -- let's say a Shablee Republican. And you know we haven't had a populist Republican like that in quite a while. So this changes the geometry of the race a little bit.

ERICKSON: If you want to find out just how powerful Rick Santorum's extemporaneous speech was tonight, consider the Mitt Romney campaign, while he was -- while Rick Santorum was speaking, Mitt Romney's campaign was breaking down his teleprompter, making him go back to the speech he gave this morning off the top of his head.

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Hey, guys, this is David Gergen. I want to ask you this question. Earlier this evening John King poured cold water on the idea of anybody else getting in the race being drawn into the race. Do both of you think that that's now out? That this is the field or do you think there is a possibility some other conservative might jump in?

CASTELLANOS: You know, I think we've kind of checked through that list, David. And there isn't a lot left. Who said -- I mean most of the guys who could have and would have and should have have already said.

ERICKSON: You know --

CASTELLANOS: But there isn't a vacuum in the race right now. You have a conservative. You have a -- you know, somebody who's now contending to be the leader of the conservative movement in America. A lot of the old conservative leaders in Washington, by the way, may not like that.

You have an establishment Republican, a role played by McCain and Bob Dole over the years. So I think the menu is full. I think there's an item on the menu for every kind of Republican.

ERICKSON: I'm not so sure about that, David. I don't think it's going to happen. I think it's a slim possibility. Someone may go down to Disney and pull out the Reagan animatronics statue and put him up. But -- I mean the sky is the limit right now. There are some people who are really, really angry with what is happening. Really upset.

And they may try a Bobby Jindal. Maybe -- I mean, good lord, all around Iowa --

CASTELLANOS: Bobby Jindal is not going to be running.

ERICKSON: All around Iowa you've had this people say, why not Chris Christie? We're listening to you speak, why not Bobby Jindal? People are desperate. I don't think it's going to happen. But -- I mean, anything is possible right now. I would say I think one of the reasons Republicans are having such a weird season is because I don't think 2008 was allowed to reboot for the Republicans.

George Bush didn't have a vice president run. It was the first time that's happened in a long time. So we're still having old feuds play out that would have played out in 2008 had there been a vice presidential pick. We're just now starting to reset the Republican field.

KING: But what about the powerful force of the Tea Party in 2010? Where is it now in 2012? You move on from Iowa, you have Romney, not a Tea Party guy, Santorum, he's going to hear a lot about voting for Medicare and prescription drug benefits, not about Tea Party.

He's going to hear a lot about voting for a lot of earmarks. Not a Tea Party position. Newt Gingrich who's now going to try to rip the skin off Mitt Romney was for the individual mandate in healthcare before Governor Romney was. Not a Tea Party guy either.

Is Ron Paul now the Tea Party candidate for the Republican Party?

CASTELLANOS: Actually, if you look at the Tea Party vote on this, it went for Santorum, the vote that wasn't --

KING: But they haven't heard yet -- they haven't heard -- the Romney super PAC hasn't unleashed on him yet though he told him about on those votes.


CASTELLANOS: No, it's funny. I think the way to look at this thing is right now this party dominated by the Tea Party, a very conservative party, is still more than content with a Mitt Romney as a frontrunner. This is a conservative a state as we are going to have in this process. With the exception of South Carolina. From here, over all, it gets better for a Mitt Romney.

I think that tells you that despite the power of the Tea Party, this party wants to beat Barack Obama. This party nothing unites the people of earth like a threat from Mars, that's Barack Obama.

ERICKSON: You know I got an e-mail from a very powerful influential conservative in Washington earlier tonight. He said, go with Mitt Romney. No one confuses him for a small government conservative. Everyone thinks Rick Santorum is. At least we can still fight Mitt Romney.

KING: A remarkable tug-of-war, to Eric Erickson's point, Dick Cheney did not run. The Republican Party has been searching for a leader since George W. Bush left office, lost the last election. They have this remarkable tug-of-war in this party right now and Iowa gives a muddled message if anything. You have to say because of his strength in New Hampshire, because of his strength in other states, Romney is the leader and yet, where's the enthusiasm? Where's the intensity, to Erick's point tonight? This was the first test. Are Republicans ready? Sure, Obama is vulnerable, but he's got a great organization.


KING: They're working it hard.

MORGAN: If you're in the White House watching this, this is a dream scenario. Romney cannot get past the ceiling of 25 percent. Santorum, they don't think is ever going to beat them. Ron Paul, fizzling out, and where's the threat? If you're Obama, you're feel going.

BURNETT: You were talking about what if someone else gets in the race, and I know you've been saying that that's kind of a ridiculous thing, but obviously, you know, it happened before, you could draft someone late. Some people hoped that'd be Chris Christie and he made his decision. But say it were to happen, how does it happen from here?


BLITZER: Hold those thoughts for one second. We're going to take a quick commercial break. But we have a lot to dissect. We are still waiting for one or two precincts that could make the difference. Now we're told one precinct still out standing. We'll see who wins the Iowa caucuses when we come back.


BLITZER: One precinct out of 1700 plus precincts in Iowa. We're waiting for that one precinct to officially give us its results because right now, Rick Santorum is ahead of Mitt Romney by four votes, four votes, 29,968, 29,964. Four votes will get that precinct hopefully the Republican Media Center in Des Moines will give us that information soon.

Anderson? Talk to your friends.


COOPER: Sorry.

BLITZER: What's going on?


BLITZER: Go ahead. They look like they want to finish --

COOPER: I was just trying to log into Twitter. (LAUGHTER)

COOPER: I don't know. You don't know? Have you ever seen a race like this, James?

CARVILLE: No, I never have.


CARVILLE: And I've never seen concession issues like this. I've never seen anything like this . This was a -- it was really remarkable. If you go back and you think, you think of Gingrich, you think of Michele Bachmann, reading the speech. You think of it really emotional speech that Santorum gave and the news that Romney kind of had to change his speech and sort of respond to that.

You think about the back and forth that Dana was talking about about who is the going to chicken and go first between Romney and Santorum. Whoever writes a book on this election is going to have a big chapter on --

COOPER: Do you agree with your wife, with Mary, who said that Gingrich negative doesn't play well?

CARVILLE: Yes. I mean that speech he had has got to be -- yes, I don't think anybody -- or all of us at the table. I mean it's almost universal.


COOPER: So how does he strike back against Romney in some of the things that Romney is saying, or that his super PACs have been saying without damaging himself?

FLEISCHER: I think it's very hard for Newt to do. Newt has no successful history of launching attacks against others that didn't boomerang on himself. And in large part because of the manner in which he does it. He's a good debater. So maybe at the debate if he's got this discipline together, he can do it. But out on the stump when he's on the sound bites on TV, it's just mean and negative and just doesn't work.

LOESCH: Yes, he comes across as authoritative a lot. But one of the things that Roland and I were discussing on some break about three hours ago, is that he has no surrogates. Newt Gingrich does not have any surrogates I think except say for one that can go out and do the attacks for him. Where as you look at Mitt Romney and he has a whole army of people. Ron Paul has all of the Ron Paulers.

MARTIN: Right.

LOESCH: I mean everyone has their own little faction. Newt doesn't have that.

MARTIN: And on other point, just listen to Alex and Erick, and all the hand ringing. COOPER: Go ahead. Yes, we're almost at the top of the hour, the hour of 2:00 a.m., an hour none of us really expected to be here at.

Wolf Blitzer is standing by. Let's take a look at the vote count as it stand right now.

BLITZER: All right, Anderson, stand by for a second because we got news.

We want to welcome back our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer.