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Legal Pot; More Gridlock?; How President Obama Won; Republicans Asking: "Now What?"; Unpopular Congress Faces a Painful Job; Why Obama Won Ohio

Aired November 7, 2012 - 16:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now: the president of the United States is on his way back to Washington right now for four more years in the White House. You're going to see his return to the White House during this program.

Also, Republicans still control the House of Representatives. Will the president find any more cooperation in his second term than during his first?

And after passage of an historic ballot question, how soon will it be until people in Colorado can light up a marijuana cigarette legally?

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Right now, President Obama's aboard Air Force One. He's heading east from Chicago. He's already reaching out to congressional leaders trying to set the agenda for his second term in office. Across the country today Americans awoke to banner headlines from "Reelected" in the president's hometown "Chicago Tribune" to "Obama Wins" in his adopted city, "The Washington Post."

"The New York Times" proclaimed it's "Obama's Night," while across the country, "The Los Angeles Times" told readers it's Obama again.

Even though Florida still hasn't officially been called for either candidate, "Miami Herald" says "It's Obama."

CNN White House correspondent Brianna Keilar's been keeping track of what the president's been doing since his victory speech early this morning.

Brianna, the president should be landing back in Washington fairly soon and taking Marine one over to the White House. He's got a full agenda already, I assume.


And I will tell you, Wolf, the White House is keeping it under wraps as far as what happens after he arrives at the White House. But we know he will land obviously at Andrews Air Force Base. We're expecting that not too long after 5:00 Eastern. And then he will come here to the White House landing on the South Lawn in Marine One, the first time he's been back to the White House knowing that he will be here for another four years. This morning, he did wake up in Chicago. As we await for him to leave Chicago, he called congressional leaders, Democrats and Republicans in both the House and Senate, and before making his way to the airport stopped by his campaign headquarters to meet with hundreds of volunteers and staff members and really thank them.

We understand people were standing on desks trying to get a look at him. They gave him a standing ovation as he entered the room. But he's coming back, Wolf, as you know to some serious reality and a plate of a lot of work on his hands, obviously, as he's already reaching out to congressional leaders.

As you know, here at the end of December, tax cuts, all kinds of tax cuts, including the Bush era tax cuts, set to expire January 2. Those spending cuts from sequestration go into effect. And that's not it. In February, he has to send a budget to Congress. You're looking at a debt ceiling that may need to be increased in February. And in March, it's potentially the stage set for a government shutdown if Congress and the White House can't agree on a way forward to fund the federal government.

He has a busy, busy schedule here in the coming months, Wolf.

BLITZER: And we're going to be standing by for live coverage once he lands at Andrews Air Force Base and then choppers over to the South Lawn of the White House on Marine One. What he does after that, I'm sure there will be a really raucous, joyous reception from the White House staff for the president. We will cover that as well. Brianna, thank you.

Let's continue this conversation with our chief political analyst, Gloria Borger, our chief political correspondent Candy Crowley and "The New York Times" political correspondent Jeff Zeleny, who is joining us as well.

Candy, what is the most important thing the president now needs to do to set off his second term in the right direction?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, fix the fiscal cliff somehow, because really his most important job in the next four years is the same job he had the first four years, fix the economy.

And the first step toward that is somehow making sure that these tax increases at some level and these spending cuts do not go into effect December 31. So, simple.

BLITZER: He's got a mission. You know, these exit polls showed something very interesting, Gloria -- 47 percent, an unusual number, but 47 percent of the people in the exit polls say they would support tax increases for those making more than $250,000 a year. That's what the president wants to do. He wants to raise taxes.

We just heard a little while ago from the House speaker, John Boehner, saying he's open to increase tax revenues if it comes from tax reform.


BLITZER: Not necessarily hikes in the tax rate.

BORGER: Right. I mean, the speaker made it's clear it's got to be part of a broader package of tax reform, which is I think what everybody kind of understands and knows.

I think the challenge for the president right now -- and I was talking to a senior Democrat who said, look, I do expect the president to come out towards the end of this week either in a press conference or in a statement to talk about the fiscal cliff.

The question is how specific he will be and how detailed he will be. Will he put something on the table and say, OK, I'm up for tax reform, let's fix thing this way, let's kick a very large can down the road for a very short time, and I promise you -- here's a framework of what I want to do. Give me the framework of what you want to do. And let's work together. Or...

CROWLEY: Which would be counter to how he governed the first four year.

BORGER: Exactly.

Or will he just come out and say, OK, we got to fix this, let's get together?


BORGER: The question is has he changed, I think. And we don't know the answer.

BLITZER: Because the speaker just now, Candy, he put out a framework in general terms how he could see some sort of compromise emerge. He says he wants to reach out and reach a deal with the president of the United States.

The president presumably will say something similar, but the real negotiations won't be in public. They will be behind the scenes.

CROWLEY: Yes, absolutely.

This isn't all that much different by the way than what Mitt Romney had said for a while, which was, oh, sure, well, we're open to closing loopholes and all that. But we're not going to raise the tax rates.

And this is clear -- it was clear to me from what Speaker Boehner said that they are not interested in letting those tax increases go up on those making $250,000 or more. And the president has said, I'm going to veto anything that comes to me that doesn't raise those taxes.

So I realize that everybody says nice things the day after an election, but it reminds me whenever we come up on a tragedy that involves guns, everybody the next day is talking about how we have to tone down the rhetoric and how we have to all work together. And then it kind of devolves. BORGER: But the Republican Party has a problem. If you look at the exit polls from last night, less than 20 percent of voters think that Mitt Romney cared about people like them. Remove Mitt Romney, make it the Republican Party.

The question is how does the Republican Party again become the party that represents the middle class? This is what they have to be thinking about. So the question is on the tax issue, will there be any give on the taxes for the wealthy? I mean, maybe they raise the bar about how you define what wealthy is.


BLITZER: Candy, somebody is going to have to blink in these negotiations.

BORGER: Right.


BLITZER: You have got November and December. That's it.

CROWLEY: And you're also looking at a speaker who has -- I haven't seen the latest figures -- but could pick up a couple of seats.

BORGER: Right.

CROWLEY: I realize that the Republican Party is seen as in trouble. That's true at the presidential level. It's true in the demographic level. It's true at the Senate level. It's not true at the House level. And that's always been...


BLITZER: How much of a mandate does the president have? He won a majority of the popular vote. He had an impressive Electoral College win once again. How much of a mandate does he have to go forward?

BORGER: Again, all I can say, he won reelection, so, A., that's the mandate. But if you look at the exit polls, you have a country in which 77 percent of the people thinks that the economy is bad, OK, think we're headed down the wrong track. So this president was reelected by an American public who thought he can help the middle class, but they don't think their economic situation is great.

So what kind of a mandate does he have? His mandate is to fix things. And I think that's about as far as it really goes.

CROWLEY: But presidents define their own mandates. We saw that with George W. Bush...

BORGER: Right.

CROWLEY: ... who won by about this amount, came in and said, hey, I won and we're going to change Social Security. It didn't work. But, nonetheless, he even felt after the first election in 2000 that he had a mandate.

So you either go in there and you seize control and roll the dice, or you work and say, OK, the country's clearly split and we have got to find some way to...


BLITZER: Hold on a second, because Brianna Keilar's still with us over at the White House.

Brianna, you're just back from Chicago. You were at the president's campaign headquarters. You did an excellent job covering what was going on last night. At what point did they finally realize this was going to be an excellent night for the president?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: You know, they seemed pretty confident even early on. They seemed relaxed. And they seemed calm.

But, obviously, I think, they were waiting ultimately until Ohio, until they could really breathe a sigh of relief because there were obviously a lot of concerns about the recounts. But I think they were looking and seeing the margins that they were winning in some of those battleground states. And they felt like it was going to be a good night for them.

Remember, we heard even days before, and yes, it was spin, but it turned out to be true from some of the president's top campaign advisers -- pardon the wind here at the White House -- that they thought they were going to win the electoral vote and the popular vote and there was some folks wondering about that.

But I also think, Wolf, now you're moving on very much to reality. And that's so much what President Obama is going to be confronting as he just steps out of Marine One here on the South Lawn. You're talking about what to do about the fiscal cliff.

One of the things that strikes me having covered Congress as he came into power four years ago was that he did obviously have such a large mandate then with so much support. But you could see as the weeks wore on, as the months wore on and very soon into his tenure you could see the political capital start to wane.

He doesn't have the political capital that he had in 2008. That also creates some of the issues with even punting on some stopgap measure to deal with the fiscal cliff. This is something that is going to expire just as the days and the weeks go on, as he tries to work with Republicans towards a solution.

BLITZER: And, briefly, Candy, one final question to you. You're just back from Boston. You were there with the Romney campaign last night. They went in pretty upbeat. They thought they might have a good chance of winning, didn't they?

CROWLEY: They did. But I have to tell you that there was a certainty about the Obama campaign even two weeks out. I talked to a senior strategist who said, I'm not -- you know, I'm not kidding you here. That's a cleaned-up version. I'm not kidding you here, Candy. I will show you the figures afterwards. We have this.

They were certain. There was an optimism in the Romney camp. But it wasn't based on the numbers. It was based on the feel of things. And one thing you know when you cover a campaign, the feel of things can be really deceiving.

BLITZER: And the numbers are more important than the anecdotal evidence.

BORGER: And in the end, the demographics and identity politics kind of worked against them.

And if there is a mandate coming out of this, it is that. You saw that in the exit polls by a 2-1 margin, people believe there should be a path to citizenship for immigrants in this country. And I think if there's any mandate for Republicans and Democrats coming out of this, it is to get immigration reform done.

BLITZER: I think the Republicans -- we're going to have much more on this part of the story, because I'm taking another look at their strategy going down the road. Guys, thanks very, very much.

Mitt Romney's kept a low profile today. We got a glimpse of him when his close aide, Garrett Jackson, tweeted this picture along with a caption that read, "Governor" -- or I should say, "Gov hanging out with family this morning. What an incredible family. So blessed to be so close to them."

President Obama won't need moving trucks for another four years. We're going to watch his family's return to Washington after a grueling time out there on the campaign trail.

And two states take extraordinary steps towards legalizing marijuana. We're taking a closer look at the clash between voters out there and the Drug Enforcement Agency.


BLITZER: It was a big day yesterday for advocates for legalizing marijuana. Voters in Washington state and Colorado approved ballot initiatives legalizing marijuana for recreational use. But the measures could be challenged in court.

The Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper said in a press conference, and I'm quoting him now, "This will be a complicated process, but we intend to follow through. That said, federal law still says marijuana is an illegal drug. So don't break out the Cheetos or goldfish too quickly." He got a sense of humor.

And the federal Drug Enforcement Agency it stands that it's illegal to sell, possess or use marijuana.

I'm joined by CNN's senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin. We're not talking about marijuana for medical purposes. We're talking about marijuana for fun, for recreational purposes, if you will. And there's obviously a big difference.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: There is. And it's quite clear that the governor is right. Don't break out the munchies yet, because it is not legal under federal law to possess marijuana.

Now, what makes this a peculiar situation is that in most jurisdictions when I was assistant U.S. attorney in New York, we had rules. We didn't prosecute under federal law except very large quantities of marijuana. We left that to the states. Here, apparently, the state is not going to prosecute. But even though the federal government doesn't generally prosecute, it's still illegal. So obviously there has to be some sort of negotiation here or people are taking a terrible risk.

BLITZER: So what's the next legal step? The folks in Colorado think that they're going to be able to go buy marijuana and use it for fun, whatever, and the federal government says, not so fast.

TOOBIN: Right. When the federal government -- the Obama administration has been quite clear is that they are going to enforce federal law. So if there is some sort of conspicuous attempt to defy federal law, if somebody tries to open a pot brownie store in downtown Denver, you can be sure the federal government will just go in there and bust the people who are doing it.

I think this is likely to lead to some sort of public education. And Congress, some people are seriously talking about legalizing marijuana. But in terms of actual change in Colorado, I just don't think much is going to happen here because the federal government is not going to be bullied by a state that has a personal preference. This is a law that applies in all 50 states, Congress has spoken, Congress at least so far hasn't changed its mind.

So I think this is the beginning of a dialogue. But in terms of actual legalities, nothing's changed and people really be taking a risk.

BLITZER: This is sort of like Arizona passes a tough immigration law which the federal government says that isn't consistent with federal law. Federal law they say trumps the state law. In this particular case, if the Obama administration and the DEA insist they say federal law which says marijuana is illegal will trump state law in Colorado?

TOOBIN: Well, it's very similar except that it's much clearer in this case. Remember the Arizona law the Supreme Court split five-to-four about it. Some parts of the law were constitutional, some were not. That area of the law can be very complicated and difficult to predict.

This is not complicated. This is not difficult. It is straight up conflict and it is quite clear under the Constitution that the federal government is in charge here.

That said, in situations like that there are sometimes negotiations about how things work. But since there haven't been those negotiations yet, the federal government is in charge here. And it's illegal. And people would be taking a big risk if they, you know, conspicuously smoke pot in Denver or anywhere else.

BLITZER: So the advice from the governor was good advice.

TOOBIN: It was.

BLITZER: Hold off.

TOOBIN: Just hold off.

BLITZER: Just calm down.

TOOBIN: Or go to California and get a prescription.

BLITZER: Thank you.

Both parties predicted victory on Election Day. But for Mitt Romney something went wrong on the way to 270 electoral votes. We're going to do the math to see what happened. John King is standing by.


BLITZER: Both campaigns said they were very confident going into Election Day. So what went right for President Obama and very wrong for his Republican challenger Mitt Romney?

I'm joined now by our chief national correspondent John King. We spend a lot of time together over here at this magic wall yesterday.

Let's recap what went right, what went wrong for these two candidates.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And we should note Florida's still gold because we haven't had to call it yet. The county still continues, the president leads. This is our electoral map.

What went right for President Obama, Wolf, is campaigns often make grand promises. In this case the Obama campaign said exactly what it would do. If you look at the electoral map in the morning after, Governor Romney picked up Indiana and North Carolina from the president's coalition four years ago. Maybe he'll get Florida in the end, it doesn't look that way, but maybe he will.

But just a gain of two states, how did that happen? Let's go back to where we were. Let's go back to where we were coming into the election. This was our map coming into the final weeks. And so we had already leaned North Carolina red and Governor Romney got it. We had already made Indiana solid.

So essentially from Election Day and last week of the election, Governor Romney got nothing. President Obama held on in Nevada. Why? For years no primary challenge. Remember, they spent money, they identified, they turned out all those Latino voters. Colorado, suburban voters, Latino voters. The president held onto that one. An amazing turnout operation. When I travelled out there, you saw it, you were impressed by it. They outhustled Governor Romney.

They held onto Iowa, a state Governor Romney was so confident they were going to get. The Republican governor put registration at parity. The Republicans thought they could get it. They got outhustled again.

Wisconsin, the Paul Ryan pick was not enough. State blue DNA again, the mix of traditional Democratic voters --

BLITZER: Republican Scott Walker won that recall, they would have a shot.

KING: One lesson we learn is that midterm elections are not presidential elections. The turnout did rise, the Obama people said African-American turnout will come back and it did. They said Latino turnout would come back, and it did.

So, this is what you end up with. All of the states, all of the states that just turned blue were states at one point or another the Romney campaign felt pretty comfortable about, and at the end, a few felt very comfortable about. So, President Obama outhustled them and ran the board. The luxury of no primary, all that spending on turnout.

But look, they were smart. They identified their voters. Who would vote for us on Election Day and where are the weak links? Let's get them to vote early.

BLITZER: Florida right now, do we have the actual vote in Florida?

KING: We sure do.

BLITZER: Let's look and see where it is.

KING: That's right. It's shaded blue because the actual votes --

BLITZER: So right now 97 percent of the vote has been counted. The president's ahead 50 percent to 49 percent. He's got, what, about a 50,000 vote lead so far.

KING: Yes.

BLITZER: Which may or may not be off you say based on the counties that you're looking at?

KING: They're counting some absentee ballots. If you notice, most, everything came in today. Miami-Dade is out last night. It's up at 100. Broward County is up at 100. You can find a couple counties, I'd have to touch them all, to find --


BLITZER: But basically we're talking about the absentee ballots, the provisional ballots they're going through right now.

KING: Right. So they're going to go through them. And because it doesn't matter, I don't mean to offend the voters of Florida, because it doesn't matter in the outcome of the election. The president has more than enough electoral votes, there's no reason for us to try to make judgments. Let them count provisional ballots.

It looks like from most account, both from the math on the ground and Election Day and the people we talked to, it looks like the president will hold that lead. But it is possible Governor Romney could make it up --

BLITZER: If he holds that lead, those electoral votes stay in his column, that's a pretty impressive Electoral College win.

KING: It is. And if you look at, though, let's come back to the national numbers. This is -- they're very happy. They are very happy in the Obama campaign. They got over 50 and they won the popular vote.

BLITZER: Almost by three million votes.

KING: Three quarters of the way through the night we weren't sure. Governor Romney was still leading.

BLITZER: That was before California.

KING: California saved the president. All these West Coast states saved the president in terms of popular vote.

Again, you go back and you look at their model. And, you know, campaigns are always spinning you. They're always trying to give you their best impression. If you go back to notes from briefings with Obama people, more than a year ago and compare them to what happened on Election Day, you have to give them the credit. They said this is what we're going to do. And, Wolf, they did it.

BLITZER: Fifty percent is pretty good for this kind of campaign.

John, good work yesterday. Great work. Thank you.

As Democrats celebrate and Republicans wonder what went wrong, we're going into -- we'll try to dig deeper into what happened, what's next. A very special panel with some very smart people. That's up next. They also have some unsolicited advice.


BLITZER: As Democrats celebrate President Obama's re-election in the White House. Republicans are left asking themselves, now what? Here's a quick snapshot.


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, HOST, CNN'S "STARTING POINT": You said Governor Romney would get 53 percent plus in the popular vote, 300 electoral votes or more. What happened?

NEWT GINGRICH (R), FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER: I was wrong. Republicans make a very serious look at what happened and why did it happen and why were we not more competitive at the presidential level?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The reality is Mitt Romney won near historic portion of the white vote in America and he suffered a very bad loss. That's because the country looks different. It has changed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to win in the future, Republicans need to do better among Latinos and better among women particularly single women.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With high unemployment rate, with high poverty, with an economy that is not strong, if you lose this election, what elections are you going to win?


BLITZER: All right, let's get straight to our CNN political contributor, Margaret Hoover. She's got an excellent panel with her.

MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Thank you, Wolf. We do have an excellent panel here today and we are deconstructing what happened in the election.

We're going to start first with the Republicans. I have two Republicans, one on my right, one on stage right. Ross Douthat, was this a Democratic realignment?

ROSS DOUTHAT, COLUMNIST, "NEW YORK TIMES": Quite possibly, yes. I mean, you know, we throw around terms like realignment and you can argue this and that, but the fact is what Obama did in 2008 he, you know, on a smaller scale replicated in 2012 successfully.

And I think the most telling statistic from this election is that Romney actually won the independent vote. Not by the huge margins that he need, but he won it.

So when you win your supporters and win independents and you still lose the election that tells you that the other party has a majority coalition.

And that's, you know, may not be true four years from now, but right now this is, you know, the Obama majority and we're all just living in it.

HOOVER: You're not going to give Republicans advice, but you are. What do Republicans take away from this?

ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: We had a thumping. I know a thumping when I get a thumping. We don't have time and we really shouldn't be doing much naval gazing. One or two days of naval gazing is allowed.

DOUTHAT: We got four years. Why not let it run a little bit? NAVARRO: Because the things we have to do are long-term and we have to start doing right now. We cannot do -- one of the lessons here is we cannot do Latino outreach two or three months out from an election.

We have to start doing it now. We can't do women outreach two or three weeks before an election. We have to start doing it now. I think we do have to have that serious conversation. I think leaders like Jeb Bush, like Marco Rubio, like Lindsey Graham, like John McCain.

Some of the more moderate voices have got to take control, have got to be more vocal, more active and say, look, we really have to seriously work on growing this tent. Not making it smaller.

HOOVER: And what does this mean -- go, Van. I know. You got some advice for Republicans. I know it's in your heart of hearts.

DOUTHAT: It's solicited.

VAN JONES, FORMER OBAMA SPECIAL ADVISOR: Well, I mean, first of all, I just think from both sides, this is not a left wing period in American politics. It's not a right wing period. It's a turbulent and volatile period.

That's what's going on. We have big problems. We have big challenges and we're trying to sort them out. And you can see 2008 you go one way, 2004 you go a totally different way. Here's what I think for the Republican Party.

Don't be mean to people, just don't be mean. A lot of the ideas Republicans have are good ideas, but you don't want to go to a party where you feel like the people are actually going to be actively mean to you or hate you or disrespect you. And if you can figure out a way -- I mean, we love entrepreneurship in the black community. We love innovation. But you don't feel comfortable there. Mean people suck. That's my advice.

NAVARRO: Mean people -- the Republicans aren't mean.

JONES: It feels that way though.

NAVARRO: Well, it might feel that way to you.

DOUTHAT: Occasionally you're on the talk radio dial and you do hear a little meanness.

NAVARRO: Mitt Romney is a decent human being with a good heart, a charitable human being. He is not a mean person. We do have the wrong tone on some issue and it's not the party. It's some factions of the party. That's why I'm saying we have to stop the insanity and some of the other voices --

HOOVER: How do you do that?

TOM PERRIELLO, FORMER VIRGINIA CONGRESSMAN: I think this idea that it's just about outreach seems to me that it's missing the point. It's also about policy. Mitt Romney was to the right of the rest of the field on immigration.

It wasn't just the rhetoric, which I think was mean that turned a lot of people off. It wasn't just the immigration issue, issues of cuts to head start and other education programs, community college support that's extremely important in the Latino community, very important to women.

So there is substance behind this. I traveled through ten battleground states over the last three months and what I heard from people is they were taking this very seriously. And they want to know who's going to produce results for them at the kitchen table.

The auto recovery was realignment in the Midwest and some of the rocky mountain west not just for those who had auto jobs, but a belief that someone was recommitted to building things in this country. They saw that in their neighbors.

Success with women's health equity, the Dream Act executive order so I think people are smart and they're taking a look at what does this actually mean for me. I think meanness stinks.

NAVARRO: I don't think Mitt Romney was to the right to the rest of the field. I think he had to pretend to be to the right. I do not think the things he said on immigration in the primary were from his heart of heart.

I met Mitt Romney many, many times. I just think because he wasn't there, he felt he had to overcompensate. So one of the things we have to do is really fix this primary process.

PERRIELLO: What is the structure aspect if in fact that is true to force him to go to that position?

DOUTHAT: But part of the structural aspect too and you and I disagree on policy, but I agree with you that the Republican Party has a policy problem. But it also has -- you were talking about politicians, right?

It has a leadership vacuum. It needs to find some national leaders, obviously going into 2016 and beyond. But it also has a vacuum you saw on the clips we were watching when you come in.

Where if you listen to Republican talking heads and not just sort of the blow hards, but serious well-respected columnists and commentators and so on. The predictions for what was going to happen were completely out of touch with reality.

And I should say, you know, I was skeptical of the polls too. A week before the election, I thought Romney was going to win. Maybe I participated in it too.

NAVARRO: There was an enormous amount of Kool-Aid drinking going on.

DOUTHAT: Exactly and that has to end because the Republican rank and file needs to know the reality about what's happening in the country.

HOOVER: But you were not as starry eyed as some of our conservative colleagues.

DOUTHAT: I wasn't going to name names.

HOOVER: But you did in your column, so I can out you. We're going to hold on because even though we're not in unsolicited advice, we're going to have some more in just a minute. Stay tuned with us. We're back in just a minute.


BLITZER: There he is, the president of the United States and his family, Sasha and Malia, they're still in Chicago right now. They're walking over to Air Force One. They'll be flying back to Washington, D.C.

They're flying over to Andrews Air Force Base. Once they're at Andrews Air Force Base, by the way, they'll get aboard Marine One, chopper over to the White House -- the south lawn of the White House.

They'll go inside. I am sure all of the staff there every one will be at the White House with a lot of applause, a lot of smiles, a lot of happiness. This president of the United States has just been re- elected to a second term.

I don't know what he's carrying. He's got his daughter. She looks like she's got her books. I'm sure she's getting ready to go back to school tomorrow, missed a little school today. But that's totally, totally understandable.

There they are the first family getting on Air Force One and getting ready to fly back to Washington, only about an hour or so flight. Air Force One always does it a lot more quickly than commercial flights.

Good to fly on Air Force One. As we await for the president's return to Washington, let's go back to Margaret -- Margaret.

HOOVER: Thanks a lot, Wolf. Here we are with our solicited/unsolicited advice. Ana Navarro, what is your piece of advice today?

NAVARRO: I think it's to all Americans including the political leaders. We've had a very divisive election period. It's been very long. It's been very expensive. It's been very stressful.

We need to be -- Republicans need to be gracious in defeat and I would say Democrats need to be gracious in victory. And it's time we put some of our partisanship down and we start figuring out how to work together.

HOOVER: Is it possible to do when you have an election campaign season where 80 percent of the ads even more on both sides were negative?

NAVARRO: I think so. I'm an optimist. I'm actually feeling optimistic today because I think we are in a period as Republicans of rebuilding. What I saw today the exchange I saw today between John Boehner and President Obama gives me some optimism.

I think that is an olive branch that John Boehner is extending to President Obama. It's now his turn to figure out how to work with Congress. So I think we are in a different day today than we were yesterday.

HOOVER: Van, you agree?

JONES: I do agree. I mean, I think first of all the president has reached out in the past. He put tax cuts on the table earlier when you talk about small businesses. There's some common ground here.

But my advice is for Washington, D.C. to look out for the new stars in the Obama coalition and the Democratic coalition. People like Ben Jealous who is the leader of the NAACP, who put a million black votes into play, made the difference in Ohio, the new star rising.

Tulsy Gabbert, this young woman, going to be the first Hindu elected to Congress. She comes out of Hawaii, 31 years old. She won by 81 percent or something like that, the most votes ever gotten by percentage.

She's the most popular politician already by the polls in Hawaii. And, again, she's an Iraq war combat veteran. Democrats are attracting this kind of talent, this means we're going to be able to do pretty well going forward. Watch out for Tulsy.

NAVARRO: Also got the first openly lesbian senator.

JONES: I'm a good supporter of Ben and Tulsy.

PERRIELLO: All right, there really are a lot of people that have emerged from the last two cycles either from the non-profit sector and social entrepreneurship sector or within politics. I think there was a concern after '08 is that people became really disillusioned to disengage.

And what you've seen is the real stars have stay engaged. That's my advice to the American people is stay engaged. Election Day is just one day. We are going into a conversation about the fiscal security possibly in the lame duck session.

That has enormous implications for the future strength of our country and middle class issues where tax revenue will be set, how much we're investing in our competitiveness. And it's easy to do that vote and then tune out.

It didn't work well for either last time. It's important to stay engaged. I think the deal will be stronger if the American people are engaged than if it's just happening.

DOUTHAT: But they get to take a little bit of time off, right? They've been watching those 80 percent negative ads. You can have Thanksgiving, maybe a little football.

HOOVER: Deep breath. DOUTHAT: Right. My advice is at the beginning of the segment for Republicans. We've been talking a lot about the new Democratic coalition and the Democratic strength with unmarried women, Democratic strength with Hispanics and so on.

I think the big temptation for the Republicans is going to be the microtargeting. We're going to do this and it will get Hispanics and do this and get women and so on. You have to do some of that, but the Republican Party has a bigger problem.

It doesn't have a big particularly economic policy message that's pitched to the middle class. And if you come up with that message, guess what? You win more blue collar whites in Ohio, more middle class Hispanics in Nevada, more suburban women --

HOOVER: Sam's Club Republicans.

DOUTHAT: More Sam's Club Republicans if you will.


DOUTHAT: So think a little bigger.

NAVARRO: All right, I'm almost to the point where I'll take microtargeting of Hispanics.

HOOVER: All right, guys, that's it. That's all we got for today. We are going to back to Wolf. Thank you for joining us for unsolicited advice. Back to you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Thanks very much, Margaret. Good discussion.

Up next, congressional leaders are also back in town. We're taking a closer look at the upcoming fight over cuts to vital programs, higher taxes for everyone. What's going on? Standby.


BLITZER: Now that the election is over, Congress is coming back to Washington to deal with what's being called the fiscal cliff. Here's a brief illustration of what we're talking about.

The way things stand now an across the board spending cut is scheduled to hit every federal agency after December 31st. If Congress does nothing before then, the cuts take effect no matter how badly the spending is needed.

No matter how much it hurts, no matter who loses his or her job. At the same time everyone in the country gets hit with an across the board tax increase after the first of the year. You'll be paying more to the federal government no matter how much it hurts unless Congress figures out how to stop it before December 31st.

Let's bring in our senior congressional correspondent Dana Bash. Dana, this is big-time. This is a crucial issue that they have to resolve over the next, what, November and December. DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Exactly. And the leader in the House and the leader in the Senate wasted no time to come out and try to lay down markers. If you listen to the tone of both Harry Reid and House Speaker John Boehner, it sounds like they were singing something akin to "Kumbaya," each trying to sound as conciliatory and open to compromise as they can. Watch what I'm talking about.


SENATOR HARRY REID (D), MAJORITY LEADER: This was really the message American people sent from all over. And that is they're tired of these partisan gridlocks.

REPRESENTATIVE JOHN BOEHNER (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: If there's a mandate in yesterday's results, it's a mandate for us to find a way to work together on the solutions to the challenges that we all face as a nation.


BASH: But in virtually the same breath, each man promised to try to work together, each laid down markers on the key difference between the two parties on this fiscal cliff, taxes. Speaker Boehner tried to take a constructive attack.

He said Republicans are open to revenue or tax increases as part of tax reform coupled with entitlement reform, which reminded people he had agree to in failed talks with the president last year.

But when it comes to the Bush-era tax cuts Wolf was just talking about especially those for the wealthy expiring at the end of the year, both sides dug in.


BOEHNER: We won't solve the problem of our fiscal imbalance overnight and certainly won't do it in a lame duck session of Congress. And it won't be solved simply by raising taxes or taking a plunge off the fiscal cliff.

REID: The vast majority of the American people, rich, poor, everybody agrees that the richest of the rich have to help a little bit.


BASH: Translation, Democrats are demanding what they're calling decoupling letting the tax cut for the wealthiest expire at year's end and use that for deficit reduction. They say they want to do that no matter what.

BLITZER: Somebody's going to have to blink on this. I understand the speaker was on a private conference call with House Republicans. You've got some inside information.

BASH: That's right. Our house producer and I talked to a source who was on that call again with all House Republicans. And we're told Boehner rallied his Republican troops after this election saying they're the last line of defense from an American that Barack Obama would design.

He reminded them that the president won by less than two million votes and he also appeared to prepare his rank and file. And this is the but, to give a little bit with the president. And he talked about raising revenue as part of tax reform.

We're also told, Wolf, that he warned them that he doesn't want to get boxed in, but he also doesn't want to get boxed out by the White House.

BLITZER: If it were just Boehner and the president, I think there would be a deal. He's got the Tea Party caucus if you will and others in the House of Representatives that he's got to worry about. We'll see what happens on that front. There's going to be a lot of negotiations, a lot of knuckles --

BASH: A lot of standing in hallways.

BLITZER: Yes. We'll see what happens, but the stakes as you point out are enormous.

We're standing by right now. We're going to live coverage of the president's return to the White House. You'll see it here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

And if you want to know why Mitt Romney lost in Ohio, it goes back to a decision made some four years ago. We'll explain.


BLITZER: There are a lot of reasons probably Mitt Romney lost last night. One of the biggest may go all the way back to 2008 when Romney decided to write an op-ed that the "New York Times" entitled "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt."

Those four words haunted him to the bitter end. CNN's Martin Savidge is joining us now from Parma, Ohio with more on the auto bailout impact on this election.

Martin, it's been -- I think it was Hugh Donnelly in Michigan but in Ohio.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Wolf. We're standing outside of the GM stamping plant. As you point out, that plant is just outside the city of Cleveland. But I want you to look at this, this is the Chevy Cruze. Part of this roof was built inside that plant.

The engine block of this car was poured in Defiance, Ohio, and assembled in Lords Town, Ohio. It would be no stretch to say that this car helped to drive President Obama back to the White House at least when it comes to Ohio.


SAVIDGE (voice-over): It's all about the numbers. In Ohio, one in eight jobs benefit from the auto industry. Since the auto bailout, Ohio's unemployment rate has been below the national average.

Right now it's 7 percent compared to the nation at 7.9 percent. Since the bailout, GM and Chrysler have both unveiled major improvement or expansion plans creating at least 1,000 more jobs. On Chevy Boulevard in Parma, Ohio, that matters.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Every GM car has a part that comes through our plant.

SAVIDGE: At UAW Local 1005 across the street from the GM stamping plant, local president, Steve Frammartino says the president saved their jobs, so his members returned the favor.

STEVE FRAMMARTINO, PRESIDENT, UAW LOCAL 1005: He did it for all of us. We did it for him. When you look at the two candidates though, I mean, Barack Obama was the guy for the country.

SAVIDGE: The bailout and jobs saved was a constant theme of the Obama campaign, something the president repeated every time he was in the state.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Governor Romney said we should just let Detroit go bankrupt. I refuse to turn my back on communities like this one.

SAVIDGE: The message came through loud and clear on Ohio's assembly lines. At freeway lanes next to the plant in Cleveland, current and retired auto workers say there was never any doubt who they would vote for. Ivan Major holds up a t-shirt to make his point.

(on camera): The message here is pretty clear, he saved our jobs. Let's save his job in November.

IVAN MAJOR, RETIRED GENERAL MOTORS EMPLOYEE: And I do believe the auto workers did save his job because he did get the state of Ohio.

SAVIDGE: Robert Jerdine says auto workers never forgot or forgave Romney for once saying the industry should be written off.

ROBERT JERDINE, RETIRED GENERAL MOTORS EMPLOYEE: At first he said let them go bankrupt. That's what --

SAVIDGE (voice-over): So just how important was the bailout to the election outcome? Ohio political science expert, Tom Sutton says simply --

TOM SUTTON, BALDWIN WALLACE UNIVERSITY POLITICAL SCIENTIST: I think this made all the difference between a win by President Obama versus what could have been a win by Governor Romney.

SAVIDGE: In the car business and the election business, it's all about the numbers. For President Obama, they added up to victory. (END VIDEOTAPE)

SAVIDGE: Polls that were done before the election show that 60 percent of Ohioans were in favor of the auto bailout and then, of course, that was seen to be backed up by that other poll that occurred yesterday called the vote -- Wolf.

BLITZER: An even more important poll. Martin, thank you.