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Michigan and Arizona Republican Primaries

Aired February 28, 2012 - 20:00   ET



NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is the wildest strangest nominating process.

ANNOUNCER: Will there be a split decision or will one candidate take it all?

RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Who's authentic? Who's believable?

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Look, my team is the people of Michigan, of America. And I'm going to fight for you.

ANNOUNCER: The momentum keeps shifting, controversies keep coming. And tonight kicks off a blockbuster round of contests that could change everything.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer at the CNN Election Center.

You can bet there's a lot of tension inside the Romney and Santorum camps right now. Polling places across most of Michigan are closing right now and we should start getting the first raw votes of the night very, very soon. Both frontrunners are pulling out all the stops to try to win Michigan and Arizona. Many Republicans would tell you these are the states that Romney simply cannot afford to lose.

We're having full coverage as always. Anderson Cooper is with us as well -- Anderson.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, Wolf, the polling places that just closed in Michigan are in the Eastern Time Zone. Voting still is under way in parts of the state that are in the Central Time Zone. The last polls in Michigan close at 9:00 p.m. Eastern, that's when we could be giving you some results. Also at 9:00 Eastern, all polling places in Arizona are going to close. So we could know a lot more about how this race is going to turn out less than one hour from now -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Let's go -- Anderson, thanks very much.

I want to go right to John King over here at the magic wall.

John, the exit poll results that we're getting are beginning to show us what potentially is in store.

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: We need to be careful, we need a little wait, respect those people who are still voting in the Central Time Zone. But we do know a lot about -- let's focus on Michigan at the moment about what's on people's mind today as they vote in the Republican primary for president.

The most important issue in the state of Michigan, no surprise, anywhere in America, especially in the state of Michigan, given the state of the economy there, not just the past few years but the past decade, 54 percent of those participating today in the Republican presidential primary say the economy is the most important issue, 24 percent say the budget deficit. So economic issues driving most of the vote. Only 3 percent say illegal immigration, for example, 14 percent say abortion.

That's one way to look at this. Now remember the auto bailout has been a big source of the debate in this electorate. All four Republican candidates oppose the auto bailout, government intervention to help GM and Chrysler a few years back. Remember that started under George W. Bush. Fifty-one percent. So just a bare a majority of the voters today disapprove, 43 percent actually approve of that. I'll be interesting to watch how that plays out. Forty-three percent of those voting today disagreeing with the position of the candidates.

Will you vote for the GOP nominee in November? In other words, are Republicans satisfied with the big field or only their candidate? Sixty-three percent of those voting today said they would definitely vote for the Republican nominee in November, 12 percent said only if my candidate wins, that's interesting, 17 percent say probably. So that's another thing to watch at.

This is interesting, most states we see a more conservative electorate than we're seeing in Michigan today, 40 percent of those voting in a Republican presidential primary describe themselves as moderate or liberal, 6 in 10, either somewhat conservative or very conservative.

Why is that happening? Well, we know this. It's an open primary so Democrats are allowed to vote, Wolf. And this is important. Ten percent of the electorate in Michigan tonight describe themselves as Democrats, 31 percent describe themselves as independents, just 6 in 10 are Republicans, self-identified Republicans voting in this primary.

Among the 10 percent who say they are Democrats, 50 percent are voting for Rick Santorum. So let's watch tonight. If this is a very, very, very close election, number one, might Democrats make the difference state-wide for Senator Santorum and the delegates are rewarded in Michigan based on congressional district, not the state- wide vote. Some of those congressional districts, especially in the Detroit area, a lot of Democrats, let's see if that makes a difference when we get, Wolf, to divvying up the delegates. BLITZER: It could be very, very fascinating this whole -- what we call this? Mischief vote if in fact it turns out to be mischief vote as well.

The war of words between Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum certainly has heated up over the past 48 hours. Let's take a closer look at the late campaign pitches and the fireworks.


ROMNEY: If you want someone who understands the economy and will get it going, I'm the only guy in this race that will answer that question with the affirmative capability of growing America's economy, getting Michigan back to work, and getting America back to work.

SANTORUM: We have an opportunity here tomorrow in Michigan, here in Kalamazoo, to go out and do something big, shock the establishment.

ROMNEY: Senator Santorum is a nice guy but he's never had a job in the private sector. He's worked as a lobbyist and worked as an elected official. That's fine. But if the issue of the day is the economy, I think to create jobs it helps to have a guy as president who's had a job, and I have.

SANTORUM: Michigan, you have the opportunity to stop the joke. To tell the truth about who the real conservative is. And to go out there and have the best candidate, the one that can take Barack Obama on, on the biggest issue of the day, health care, and government mandates.

ROMNEY: I need Republicans to get out and vote and say no to the dirty tricks of a -- of a desperate campaign.

SANTORUM: That's what bullies do. When you hit them back, they whine.


BLITZER: Certainly going to be an exciting night by all accounts. Very close race unfolding in Michigan right now.

Let's check in with our correspondents at the frontrunners' headquarters. Candy Crowley first over at Romney headquarters.

At some point Romney will speak. I assume he's going to wait, Candy, until after we know the results?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, or until after we're pretty sure that with a combination of votes and exit polls that we know who won. That is generally what happens. Now if this comes in 1:00 or 2:00 or 3:00 in morning, perhaps we'll see somewhat as we did in Iowa, although at that time he thought he'd won by, you know, squeaker vote. But I'm sure you all remember Iowa pretty well.

So, absolutely, they will wait until they have a pretty good idea of how it's going. But we believe that it may be according to early polls before these polls open, just the national polls, that this is going to be a very close race here in Michigan.

BLITZER: Stand by for a moment because Callista Gingrich is getting ready to introduce her husband over at Gingrich headquarters. He's in Georgia right now which holds its primary a week from today, Super Tuesday. Let's listen to Callista Gingrich.

CALLISTA GINGRICH, NEWT GINGRICH'S WIFE: Before the most important election in our lifetime. Our only opponent is Barack Obama and we are committed to removing him from the White House.


C. GINGRICH: Newt is the only candidate with the experience and knowledge necessary to rebuild the America we love. He has a successful national record of creating jobs, balancing the budget and reforming government. Today, we need a leader who can clearly articulate why President Obama and his policies are wrong for America.

We need a leader who understands that we must contain and defeat our enemies. And we need a leader with bold solutions to create a better future for all Americans. I believe that leader is my husband.

Please welcome former speaker of the House, and the next president of the United States, Newt Gingrich.


BLITZER: All right. So Newt Gingrich getting ready to speak, he's walking in, introduced by his wife, Callista. You're going to see some squiggly lines at the bottom of the screen while he's speaking. We have these Republicans voters in Ohio who have these meters in their hands. They're going to be telling us what they like and what they don't like so you'll be able to sense -- give a little sense of what's going on. But here is the former speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich.

N. GINGRICH: A., I'm running late and then, B, I'm not exactly apologizing but that's one of the longest photo lines I've ever been through so --


N. GINGRICH: And to all of you who are out in the atrium, I'm sorry that I can't see you but I hope you can hear us.

First of all, Governor Deal, thank you for your generous time and for everything you've put up with. He's been an enormous help. He's a great governor and I'm just thrilled that he's with us and he's our state chairman and he's doing a great job.

And thank you, sir.

(APPLAUSE) N. GINGRICH: I also want to thank President Sethna, the president of West Georgia College, for being such a great host and for reminding me of how much I really enjoy coming back to West Georgia.

And thank you very much for being here tonight.


N. GINGRICH: I have a number of former colleagues here from both my college career and from my congressional career. I do want to take one second to mention the very first person I met when I came on campus in 1970, Dr. Mel Steely, who's right down here.


N. GINGRICH: It's a little frightening to realize that we've known each other 42 years. And one of the things that happened in going through the line is I was reminded of my age, something which my daughter on occasion reminds me of. I think all of you know this is the my daughter, my younger daughter and her husband, Jimmy. And several people came through. And it wasn't that they came through and said they were my students. It was they'd come through and say, you know, my dad was your student.


N. GINGRICH: And then they would say, and meet my son.


N. GINGRICH: So I know I've been at this a fair length of time. But two of my colleagues on the governing side, Congressman Bob Barr and Congressman Matt Collins are both here, and I'm very grateful to them for their support.


N. GINGRICH: We also have a number of state representatives who've been extraordinarily helpful, State Representative Paulette Braddock is here and she's really been just terrific. State Representative Dusty Hightower is here, State Representative Kevin Cook is here.

I am grateful to all of them for their support. I'm also grateful that Harrelson County Commission Chair Alan Pool is here. I have to say, and this goes back a long way, but to have Mayor Wayne Garner who I knew as State Senator Wayne Garner before that, and knew as a friend, to have him here is a great honor and it's great to be back with you.

I also want to say that without Gordon and Meredith Austin having put all this together, you can imagine, looking around at the size of the crowd and everything else, what a great job they did.

And so Gordon and Meredith, I want to thank you for a lot of very, very hard work. (APPLAUSE)

N. GINGRICH: Now I do apologize because it's been a long evening just to get to this point, although I think we took an awful lot of pictures and it's great honor to be here. But I thought I would take a couple of minutes and tell a couple of stories. Because I haven't been back in this kind of a setting. And it's kind of -- triggers memories as people came through that I had known over the years, and to think back to what it was like to teach here, have both of my daughters go to Carrollton High School, and the many things I learned here at West Georgia College, and then Carrollton, a couple of them actually may tell you something about professors.

One of my favorite stories, which I spent a fair amount of time telling when I used to go out on the speech circuit before I ran for Congress, this is a true story. A friend of mine, we lived on a street right off the college, and he lived down at the bottom of the street, in it a really big tree that was dying. And it was angled towards his house. And his wife wanted him to hire a tree surgeon because she said, you know, if that tree falls during a storm, it's going to hit the house.

But he was, like some college professors, and I include myself in this, he was confident that he knew how to do virtually everything. And so our next-door neighbor was about 5'5, he was a teacher of sociology named Henry DuFour, and the guy whose house -- I'm talking about Kip Carter, he was a pretty big guy, he about 6'3. And so the three of us, all three being professors, decided that, you know, how hard can it be to cut down a tree?

And so we went down and Kip, who felt he knew everything, said, you know, what we're going to do is we're going to tie a rope about 15 feet up, and then we're going to cut the tree until it's almost ready to break. And then we're going to pull the tree in the direction we want it to fall.

Now this is an example of why sometimes it's useful to have people who may or may not have an advanced degree, but have some level of common sense.


N. GINGRICH: So we went down there, and this guy's -- Kip's wife was saying to him, this is a very bad idea. So we go to work cutting this tree. We got the rope in place. Now we get to a point where we think the tree is about ready. And remember, I said, it was leaning towards the house. But we'd cut it so the angle was away from the house, because we had figured out -- by the way, none of us were math majors and none of us have studied physics. We were all -- one is sociology and two history professors.

And so we got on the tree and we got on that rope and this is what, if we'd been in physics, we would have figured out, it was a really big tree.

(LAUGHTER) N. GINGRICH: It probably weighed 12,000 or 15,000 pounds. And as big as we thought we were, our collective weight was probably at that point about 500 pounds. Now if you have 500 pounds pulling in one direction and 15 --


N. GINGRICH: You're right. See, at least one person here has already figured this out, right?


N. GINGRICH: Well, you can imagine, just work out the math yourself, you got 500 pounds going this way, you got 15,000 pounds leaning this way, it turns out when the tree breaks, it doesn't matter that you're pulling it. It's going to go in the direction that the tree is leaning. So we're standing there, we're pulling, and we suddenly realized that we're being pulled.

And very slowly, but with gathering speed, turns out that Galileo was right, and the way gravity works is it accelerates as it comes down. Now the tree was dead enough that when the top of it hit the roof of the house, it broke clean, leaving the rest of the tree falling on the yard in a very nice orderly way. Now the part that hit the roof of the house, of course, hit with a fair amount of concussion because it had accelerated coming across and those of you who are physics majors probably can figure out the exact speed, I've forgotten nowadays, but it doubles every second or something.

And so the concussion -- first of all, I punched holes in the ceiling, of course, because you have a tree hitting the house so the roof had holes in it. But the concussion effect dropped the plaster in the master bedroom on the bed and the last thing we saw of Kip that night was him running up the street with his wife chasing him with a broom.


N. GINGRICH: The next day, they had a tree surgeon come by. They paid what they would have paid originally for the tree surgeon, plus they paid for the guy who fixed the roof, plus they paid to redo the plaster in the room. But other than that, it was a very expensive education. I personally have never tried cutting a tree down since then.


N. GINGRICH: But -- I mean, there were a thousand things like that that you could do and you could learn from and you could make friends that became permanent friends. And I have to confess, I was in Kiwanis at the time and I'd go around giving speeches for Kiwanis and I'd usually start with that story.

And the number of people who decided they liked me because I was willing to admit that I wasn't really smart, and they could all identify. I mean everybody at some point in their life has done something, you looked back, and they, boy, that was really not very good (ph).

BLITZER: All right, so Newt Gingrich is getting ready -- getting just into the meat of his speech. We're going to break away momentarily. We'll get back to it once he's in the substance. But we got some votes coming in from Michigan right now. Very, very early in the process. Only 1 percent of the vote now in.

But look at this. Rick Santorum with 41 percent, 1100 or so votes, Mitt Romney, 36 percent, 979 votes, Ron Paul, 12 percent, 331 votes, and Newt Gingrich, the man we're listening to now in Georgia, with 7 percent, 188 votes.

But this is extremely early in the process. All the polls in the state will close at 9:00 p.m. Eastern, less than an hour from now. Most of the polls have closed in Michigan right now but all of the polls in Michigan will close at the top of the hour. Presumably at that point, we'll be able to have some more substantive information. But these are very early numbers, the first raw votes coming in on this very, very pivotal night, in the race for the White House.

Michigan, Arizona, the polls have closed at Arizona, at the top of the hour as well. What's going to happen in Arizona? What's going to happen in Michigan? If Romney were to lose the state where he was born, the state where his -- where his father served as governor, would be a huge setback for Mitt Romney. We're watching this very closely. You can see right now, 1 percent in, Rick Santorum slightly ahead.

Stay with us, our coverage only just beginning.


BLITZER: A huge night in the race for the White House unfolding right now. Two primaries, Arizona, where the polls will be closing at the top of the hour. Michigan, most of the polls have already closed in Michigan. Some polls in Michigan in the Central Time Zone will close at the top of the hour. But 1 percent has now already been released.

And the numbers are going up slightly, a few thousand votes have already been counted. Forty-one percent so far for the former Pennsylvania senator, Rick Santorum, look at this, 36 percent for Mitt Romney. He was born in Michigan, but so far, he's coming in second. Ron Paul with 12 percent, Newt Gingrich, only 8 percent. But once again early in the process.

I want to show you what's also happening in Wyoming. Tomorrow, all the official results in Wyoming, the caucuses, will be released. They've been going on for several day. But the Republican Party in Wyoming has already released these results. Eighty-three percent of the vote in Wyoming, not a whole lot of people voting in Wyoming, but Romney slightly ahead, 41 percent, Santorum, 31 percent, Ron Paul, 20 percent, Newt Gingrich, 7 percent, all the official results from Wyoming will be released by the Republican Party tomorrow.

Arizona, as I said, no raw votes in yet, they'll be coming in starting at the top of the hour.

Let's go over to John King. He's looking at this.

Michigan is critical to Mitt Romney right now. He's got to win Michigan tonight. If he doesn't, his campaign is in deep, deep trouble.

KING: There'll be a lot of questions about his strength as a Republican nominee, his strength against President Obama in November because his whole campaign has been centered on he's the best candidate to make the economic argument.

You see Michigan purple at the moment. These are the states that have already voted. Rick Santorum with these four here. Governor Romney has won four around the country. Wyoming, we haven't called it, of course, we have more results come tomorrow, but it's starting to fill in for Romney.

But Senator Santorum hopes Michigan ends the night purple. But let's be careful. As you noted, Wolf, this is just 1 percent of the vote in, very close so far. We've got a long way to go. Some of the polls are still open in this part of the state right up here, we'll wait for this to happen. A long way to go. But let's look at some of the things we want to watch. And we'll bring up this part of the state, the mainland part of the state.

You see out here already, again, just 1 percent of the vote in, this is an area where, if Senator Santorum is to win tonight, he needs to do very well in Grand Rapids area, a lot of conservative voters. In the western part of the state down here, some blue-collar voters in Kalamazoo. A lot of the southern parts. So if this stays purple, it's a strong sign for Senator Santorum.

Let's move over to the east here trying to -- off for a second here. This is the Oakland County right now. Twelve percent of the state population, it's one of the big counties important to the auto industry, very close to Detroit out in the suburbs, you see it's just in the northwest of Detroit.

Again, this is 1 percent of the vote. So this is early. This doesn't really matter yet. But if those numbers were to stay this way, Wolf, that would be a sign of deep trouble for Mitt Romney. Why? Oakland County is the county where he first lived in Michigan. This is the county where he grew up. This county was big to Mitt Romney, if we go back in 2008. It was place where Mitt Romney in Oakland County 47 percent to 27 percent. A big vote margin there.

So let's watch as these counties come in right around the Detroit area. Again, I want to bring it up in the map. It is right up in this area north of Detroit, you have Macomb County here. This is where the term Reagan Democrat was coined back in the 1980s, why were Democrats who were many of them union members, why were they voting Republican for president. The term Reagan Democrat was coined after research in this area right here.

So as we watch this map fill in tonight, at the moment very critical to Mitt Romney to win in the area with the auto industry, right around here. That's where he was from, that's where his dad ran the American Motors Corporation, his dad, of course, was the popular governor. You see some of these areas. These are conservative areas that are beginning to fill in purple. One percent of the vote. Let's watch as it fills in.

BLITZER: Just want to interrupt for a second.

KING: Go ahead.

BLITZER: We got 2 percent of the votes now.

KING: There's 2 percent now.

BLITZER: Now in with 42 percent for Rick Santorum, 37 percent for Mitt Romney. Ron Paul, 11 percent, 7 percent for Newt Gingrich. So the votes are beginning to come in and they will accelerate.

KING: They'll come in very quickly. At the course of this conversation, sometimes you see it jump from 2 to 10 to 20 and beyond as they start to bring them in, especially if they're coming in from the population centers down in here and out here in the west. But I just want to take away that. Just as you watch the Mitt, they call Michigan the Mitt, you see the thumb right up here. Governor Romney four years ago again, he won the thumb area or the eastern part of the state.

He won it and he won it quite convincingly. Remember that as the map fills in tonight, can Governor Romney match that? Senator Santorum, again, this is 48 percent up here in Huron County, very tiny county, small rural areas. That is the key. That is the key. We've said this in past states. The key for Senator Santorum is to run up big margins in the small town rural areas downscale voters where he tends to do very well.

The key for Governor Romney, Wolf, these big suburbs around Detroit, and can he poll up here, this is an area he won four years ago where Senator Santorum believes he can do some damage tonight.

BLITZER: And what's fascinating. If we see a lot of purple popping up there, because you -- he could win, Romney, the popular vote but he might not win the delegates because it's based on congressional districts.

KING: And you can even say the same for Senator Santorum. It is possible the winner state-wide tonight in the popular vote, the raw vote, does not get the most delegates because Michigan's delegates are awarded two per congressional district on the new map. Right now, today as we speak, Michigan has 15 members in the House of Representatives but had lost a seat after the census. It will only have 14.

That is the map on the new districts that will take effect this November. Fourteen congressional districts, each gets two delegates. So as you watch the state-wide numbers tonight, we need to do some more important map, go district by district by district because that determines who gets the delegates.

BLITZER: And I just want to show our viewers, 3 percent of the vote is now in, they're coming in quickly, these votes, and look at this, 42 percent for Rick Santorum with 10,256 votes, 37 percent for Mitt Romney, 9,155, 11 percent for Ron Paul, 7 percent for Newt Gingrich.

Three percent is coming in. As we've been saying these votes are going to accelerate.

Anderson Cooper is over there watching what's going on.

Anderson, you know, these ads have been very, very significant in Michigan.

COOPER: They have as they have in the other states, and also we've seen Mitt Romney outspending Rick Santorum as we have seen in the other states almost 2-1 -- Erin.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: That's right. Now at the margin in Michigan, interestingly not as much as you saw in places like South Carolina or Florida, but take a look at the ad spending by candidate. Obviously, this was a Mitt Romney-Rick Santorum battle in Michigan. You see that on the numbers.

Now as of Friday this is what the candidates had spent. As you can see $678,000 for Mitt Romney, about $350,000 for Rick Santorum. Now that's just the campaigns.

As usual, you're used to how I do this now, everyone. You can see the super PACs change that math and make it spend more money than the candidates themselves. But, Anderson, why does it say as of Friday? Because what a weekend it was.

OK. This is as of Friday, almost $2 million, $1.3 million for Rick Santorum. Ready?


BURNETT: Just over the weekend. So over the weekend, Mitt Romney putting in another about $1.2 million in just a couple of days, three days of spending.

COOPER: That's incredible.

BURNETT: It's amazing. And Rick Santorum putting in just under $1 million. Now that's the candidate and the super PAC combined in the past three days but it's pretty stunning. And what kinds of ads? Well, we'll play a couple of them. We thought this one was actually pretty interesting, it's called "Rombo." It was an ad purchased by the Santorum campaign and let's listen to it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mitt Romney's negative attack machine is back on full throttle. This time, Romney's firing his mud at Rick Santorum. Romney and his super PAC have spent a staggering $20 million grossly attacking fellow Republicans.


BURNETT: Yes, I thought that one was pretty -- it wasn't pretty, just funny --

COOPER: Got a lot of comments online.



BURNETT: It did get a lot of comments online.

And let's just play this one, "America is Drowning." This one is by the Mitt Romney campaign about, obviously, no other than Rick Santorum.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: America is drowning in national debt yet Rick Santorum supported billions in earmarks.

SANTORUM: I have had a lot of earmarks. In fact, I'm very proud of all the earmarks I put into bill. Because I think -- (INAUDIBLE).


BURNETT: Yes. So just as nasty as it has been everywhere else. The rombo one really did sort of made me chuckle.

COOPER: Yes. It was interesting. Erin, thanks very much.

Santorum then tried to -- in the debate tried to basically point the earmark finger at Mitt Romney because he had asked for federal money for the Olympics. Alex Castellanos, you have done a lot of ads over the years. What do you make of the ads you have seen in Michigan?

ALEX CASTELLANOS, PARTNER IN FIRM SPECIALIZING IN GOP ADS: Kind of business as usual. I think Romney has run a very effective negative ad campaign. But he's proven to be more effective at burning down his opponents' house than building his own.

And ultimately in a campaign, you have to give voters a place to go. So he's been I think -- you know, negatives are easy frankly. It's easy to say somebody, don't touch the hot stove.

The hardest thing in politics is to lift somebody's eyes up over the horizon and say, follow us, there's a better place. I think on that count, the Romney campaign has fallen short.

COOPER: But at this point in a primary battle, are those the kind of ads we would normally be seeing?


CASTELLANOS: I think actually probably rougher, you know --

COOPER: I mean, the positive raising up ads. Those aren't the kind we would normally be seeing?

CASTELLANOS: You know, you have to have some of that. You really do in the mix. You can't win a football game with just defense or just offense. You have to be able to play both sides of the game and so it is in politics.

These people are competing for a position of leadership. Yes, you can disqualify the other guy. But at the end of the day, voters are still going to look at you and say, where are you going to take this country?

Where are you going to take me, my family, our lives? Without that, the negatives actually backfire on you because the negatives look like they're just short term political things.

Vote for me because I want you to, not vote for me because I will lead the country to a better place.

COOPER: Interesting. Wolf, more numbers coming in.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, they are. They're coming in rather quickly right now. We expect it to accelerate even more. Look at this, 4 percent of Michigan right now. Only 230 votes separate Rick Santorum from Mitt Romney.

Forty percent for Santorum with 15,275 to 39 percent for Mitt Romney, 15,045. Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich, way, way, way behind. Look how close it is though between Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney, even in Romney's home state of Michigan.

We're going to be hearing from these candidates, all these candidates tonight. Ron Paul is getting ready to speak to his supporters. The numbers have just changed a little bit. It's getting even closer right now.

Only 151 votes separate Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney. Rick Santorum slightly, slightly ahead of Mitt Romney, 4 percent of the vote is now in. They'll be coming in quickly, pretty soon 10 percent then 20 percent. Don't go away, our coverage continues from the CNN "Election Center" right after this.


BLITZER: Let's take a look at what's going during the commercial break, it went back and forth, Romney all of a sudden on top. Now, take a look at this, 5 percent of the vote in, 457 votes separate Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney, 40 percent for Santorum, 39 percent for Romney, 18,854 for Santorum, 18,397 for Romney.

But look, it just changed once again, 6 percent of the vote is now in, 40 percent still for Santorum, 39 percent for Romney, a difference of 596 votes. It is really, really close. The votes are coming in rather quickly right now.

We are going to keep those votes up there. We're going to see what's going on. But let me go over to John King to get a little more analysis of what's going on.

It's going back and forth. We see a lot of purple in those screens. There are 14 congressional districts in Michigan. Even though somebody will win the popular vote, that doesn't necessarily mean the delegate vote will be won by that person.

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Exactly. Because 14 congressional districts in the new Michigan come November. There are 15 now. Some people in Michigan might say, no, we have 15. These Republican delegates will be awarded on the new map.

The new map that was just drawn, 14 congressional districts because of the census, two delegates per district then there are a couple of extra Republican National Committee unpledged delegates, but 1,000 votes now as you watched it come in.

Six percent, Senator Santorum ahead by 1,000 votes. We have a long way to go, Wolf, but it's a very, very important, as you watch the map fill in tonight, it's not how much of it turns purple or dark red, that's Santorum is purple, Romney is dark red. It's where the colors change.

Because I'm going to draw a line, this is not exact, but essentially from here north, in that right there, that's one congressional district because this is rural Michigan, not a great population, there's one congressional district that appears.

So if you see all this turn purple tonight, it might make you think Santorum's winning big in the state, smaller populated counties, only one congressional district. This whole area, Wolf, would be only two delegates.

If you do another line, I will try this again and again. For those of you who might for some reason have a Michigan congressional map at home, this is not exact science. But if you go roughly like this, there are six congressional districts probably needed to bring that over right there.

There are six congressional districts above the line and eight congressional districts roughly below the line. So down here, the southern part of the state is where the population is where you have more congressional districts and more delegates at play.

Watch this up here though, very important for Senator Santorum to win the top half of the state and very important for Governor Romney to defend and so far he's doing OK in areas he won last time.

But why are we going to look down here, I'm going to stretch the map out a little bit because you do have essentially a half-dozen congressional districts in the bottom half of the state and eight, if you start to move up a little bit up here.

Oakland County as I mentioned before. If you know Detroit and if you know the auto industry, you have Detroit and Motor City, a lot of auto industries and factories in here, Warren Michigan for example.

Oakland County is where Mitt Romney grew up as a child, you see him leading by 41 percent to 37 percent right now, only 3 percent of the vote in. Four years ago, he won that county by 20 points. That's one of the ways we will watch, Wolf, match up Governor Romney.

This time compared to last time as you pull out now, state-wide, still at 6 percent in rural voters up here, the Upper Peninsula, conservative areas critical to Senator Santorum. How Mitt Romney fairs in the suburbs tonight will be critical.

As you watch some of these areas turn purple, one of the things you we're going to watch is you know, John Dingell's congressional district down this way for example. How many Democrats actually turned out to vote?

You look at this county right now. We're only talking about a tiny number of votes right now. So as this fills in, if it stays really close, we're going to watch to see? Could Democratic mischief have been an impact?

At the moment though at 7 percent, what you have is indications. We are going to be at this a long time, not only to see who wins state-wide right there, but also important to see who wins by congressional district.

If you're looking at a margin like that with 7 percent of the vote knowing how complicated and diverse this state is, break out the calculators.

BLITZER: And this vote could really turn this race upside down. If Romney were to lose in Michigan, right now, as you say 7 percent of the vote in, about 1,000 votes, Santorum ahead of Romney right now, 23,780 for Santorum, 22,792 for Romney, 40 percent to 39.

So it's very, very close right now. A thousand votes or so separate these two candidates. We are going to continue to watch what's going on.

Right now, though, Ron Paul, the Republican presidential candidate is speaking to his supporters in Virginia. That's where the Super Tuesday ballots will be counted next Tuesday.

Only Ron Paul and Mitt Romney are on the ballot in Virginia. There will be some squiggly lines at the bottom of the screen. We have Republican voters in Columbus, Ohio, liking or disliking stuff that they hear. See and watch Ron Paul right now.

RON PAUL (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Now the fed's been around for 99 years. Guess what? They've lost 99 percent of the value of our dollar from 1913. Pretty bad record, I am going to let you in on a little secret, the chairman of the Federal Reserve will be before the banking committee tomorrow and I just might show up and ask him why they destroyed our money!

I can assure you that we probably won't get a straight answer. But, no, obviously, the monetary issue is a very big issue. Governments can't grow without it and it's been growing endlessly because when government grows, liberty is undermined.

Since that time, since the progressive era, we have undermined our liberties, whether it's through the encroachment of the entitlement system. The entitlement system was set up for those poor who were going to fall through the crack. But I think the best demonstration of the failure of that was the housing bubble.

During the housing bubble, which was created by the Federal Reserve and the affirmative action programs by the Congress. Guess what? Who made a lot of money during this time? The banks and brokers and the Fannie Maes and the Freddie Macs, they made all the money.

Then they got into the gambling of derivatives and they got into big trouble and lo and behold the predictable crunch came and the predictable bursting of the bubble came. When it came, they yelled and screamed and said, we're too big to fail. We're too big to fail. You have to bail us out.

There's going to be a depression coming. So guess what? The fed and congress bailed them out. But guess what, those very people that these programs were designed for, to give everybody a house, guess what? They lost their jobs and they lost their houses and it's not resolved yet because the entitlement system tends to help the wealthy much more so than the poor.

The poor are deceived into believing that the government can produce wealth forever and redistribute it. But I tell you what, there's a transfer of wealth from the middle class to the wealthy. That occurs just with the destruction of the currency. The middle class gets wiped out and wealthy get wealthier.

This is what has happened. Wealth is OK if people make money honestly and don't make it by ripping us off and getting advantages from the government, if they give us a product -- if they give us a good product and we vote confidence in them.

And they make money, that is a lot different than if they're in the military industrial complex or banking system and they get the money first and they get the contracts and they get the bailouts, that's not fair and it's not fair to dump the wasteful products and all the debt on the American people.

That obviously should be liquidated. But the fact that printed money can encourage wasteful spending. It certainly is true with overseas spending. Just look at the waste. The wars that have been going on for the past ten years have added $4 trillion to our national debt.

What have we gotten from it? We are less safe and we are broke. So the very simple solution to overextension overseas is to follow the advice of the founders, follow the constitution, have a strong national defense defend this country, but get out of the business of policing the world and get out of the business of nation building!

You know all my lines, which means we bring our troops home to solve that problem. The sooner the better! Fortunately, our defense would be stronger and people say we have to do this because we're an exceptional nation. We did have an exceptional nation at one time, we had an exceptional constitution. We were exceptionally wealthy, exceptional with our freedoms.

But this idea that we're so exceptional that we can use force and intimidation and bombs and spread our so-called goodness, it eliminates all our goodness if we believe that we have the authority to go overseas and tell people how to live. It doesn't work.

Now, a very simple solution to this, both the entitlement system and the war mongering goes on, only send people to Washington who you honestly believe they really did read the constitution and -- and that they understood it, and that they will obey it! That's the kind of people we need!

So how many wars would we have been fighting since World War II? Zero. None have been declared. They were unnecessary. Too many lives lost, too many dollars spent, too many veterans suffering now without getting medical care.

It doesn't solve our problems. If I thought we were safer and necessary, yes, we should do it, but it doesn't work that way. So what we need is a new foreign policy based on non-intervention, minding our own business, obeying the constitution and taking the advice of the founders.

It's much better to talk to people than initiate war against them. You know, they keep saying the previous administration, this administration, take nothing off the table when it has to dealing with our enemies. What about why should we take off negotiations? Why not diplomacy? Should we take that off?

I remember very well-being drafted since 1962 at the Cuban crisis. The Cuban crisis was dissipated rather rapidly precisely because John Kennedy called up and said we have a problem here.

And they said, we have a problem here, you have missiles in Turkey. So they made a deal. We took the missiles out of Turkey and he took the missiles out of Cuba and we didn't have to fight a nuclear war. Why can't we talk to people who have weapons of mass destruction?

Now, now, of course, they're talking about attacking another country, Iran. They're far from -- there's no evidence they even have a weapon. Our CIA doesn't even proved to us or tell us they are building one and yet the war drums are beating and beating. We have to be heard about this. This country does not need another war at all.

The other thing that happens under these conditions where government grows too much, violates our civil liberties, and we do know about the TSA, I think a certain senator brought that up. The TSA and our liberties are undermined under the conditions, too often and even in earlier wars violations have occurred.

But they're being violated more now than ever and we're really not in a war like World War II. It's undeclared, but it's used as an excuse because we're in a perpetual war against terrorism.

Terrorism and crime should be dealt with to say we're in a war against terrorism wherever they are, that means we're against the whole world and literally because we have a lot of bombs and missiles, that we send our missiles and we send our missiles any place in the world we please.

That is not the way to win friends, I'll tell you that. That's the way to build up enemies. But the undermining of our liberties should be one of our greatest concerns when you think of the Patriot Act. The Patriot Act --

The patriot act was passed shortly after 9/11, if it was called what it really is, repeal the fourth amendment act, I wouldn't have passed. So next year, when we go ahead and get rid of the Patriot Act, we won't call it repeal the Patriot Act. We will call it restore the Fourth Amendment Act to this country.

BLITZER: All right, Ron Paul delivering his speech to his supporters in Virginia. They vote in Virginia one week from today on Super Tuesday. He's on the battle -- Mitt Romney on the ballot.

Mitt Romney is on the ballot. The other candidates did not make the ballot in Virginia, a key battleground state. Take a look at this. I want to show you the raw votes coming in from Michigan, 12 percent are now in and Rick Santorum continues to maintain a lead.

He has 41 percent to Mitt Romney, 38 percent, 2,700 votes ahead. There are now 2,800 votes, just gone up, 43,732 for Rick Santorum, 40,930 for Mitt Romney. Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich in Michigan tonight, way behind, only 11 percent for Ron Paul, 7 percent for Newt Gingrich.

But a real battle under way in Michigan right now with 12 percent of the vote in between the former Pennsylvania senator, the former governor of Massachusetts, Rick Santorum, maintaining a lead, nearly 3,000 votes ahead, 2,800.

But it's just changed. Look at this. It's now only 1,400 votes. The votes are coming in quickly from Michigan right now. It's a 1,409 vote separation. Look at this. It's coming in really, really quickly.

At the top of the hour, all the polls in Michigan will be closed. All the polls in Arizona will be closed. Guess what? We are going to see if we are going to be able to make a projection in Michigan or Arizona at the top of the hour. Our coverage continues right here in the CNN "Election Center."


BLITZER: In just more than 5 minutes, it will be the top of the hour. All the polls will be closed in Michigan and Arizona. Stand by, we'll see if we'll be able to make a projection or two at the top of the hour. Don't go too far away.

Let's see what's happening in Michigan right now, 14 percent of the vote is now in, Santorum maintaining a slight lead, 40 percent to 39 percent. He is ahead by 15,067 votes. Let's go over to John King.

He has a map of Michigan. A lot of purple, which is Santorum, not so much red, which is Romney, but it's very close with 14 percent of the vote in.

KING: We've seen this happen in other states. Why so much purple? Less red? Yet, a very close election right now. At the moment, Rick Santorum is winning. I will pick a random county and put it up, a pretty good margin in small rural counties though, less than 1 percent of the state population way up here in the rural counties.

But these votes matter for Rick Santorum. This is where you have Tea Party voters, Evangelical voters, more conservative voters up in here. Watch as Senator Santorum runs this up.

Mitt Romney starting to fill in here, a very, very close election. Who do we going to watch? Let's look at Kalamazoo County here. Can Mitt Romney hold his lead here? It's very narrow population center. He needs to hold his lead there to keep the lead state wide.

Come over here, you see Governor Romney winning. I'll stretch it out in what I'll call the auto area. Here Lansing just came in, Romney leading, only 2 percent of the vote in there. He needs to hold this if he's going to win state-wide.

And you watch up here, this is his home county, Oakland County, Governor Romney stretching out the lead there with only 4 percent of the vote in. The major population centers in this state, Wolf, are down here.

And so this will be the key to the battle. We're at 14 percent of the vote right now. Watch it here. It's only one big congressional district up here, down here matters. A lot of counting to do.

BLITZER: It certainly does and we're getting very, very close to the top of the hour. All the polls in Arizona and Michigan will be closed. Get ready. We'll see if we can make a projection. That's coming up in a couple minutes.


BLITZER: We are getting close to the top of the hour. All the polls will then be closed in both Michigan as well as in Arizona. Lots at stake for all of these candidates tonight, but especially for Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum.

Rick Santorum as we've been seeing in these early numbers coming in, slightly ahead of Mitt Romney in his home state of Michigan right now. Who would have believed this? Only a few weeks ago, Mitt Romney would be struggling in a state where he was born, a state where his father was governor, a state where his wife was born, they were raised in Michigan.

But there are serious problems for Mitt Romney in Michigan right now as the votes come in. At the top of the hour, all the polls in Michigan will be closed as well as in Arizona and we will be able to assess what we do at that point. So get ready, our coverage is only just beginning on this very, very pivotal night in the race for the White House.

CNN can now project Arizona will go for Mitt Romney. CNN projects that Arizona and its 29 delegates, all of them will be in Mitt Romney's camp.