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CIA Director General David Petraeus Resigns; Hopefuls for 2016 Presidential Elections Get Ready; Mitt Romney Blamed for Losing Presidential Election; Colorado Legalizes Marijuana for Recreational Use

Aired November 10, 2012 - 18:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: President Obama challenges Republicans to compromise to prevent a looming economic crisis, now just weeks away. He says voters have shown they won't tolerate dysfunction.

Republicans are picking up the pieces after Mitt Romney's loss, more worried than ever about reaching beyond their white political base.

And after passage of a historic ballot measure, how soon will they be able to smoke marijuana legally just for fun?

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world.

I'm Wolf Blitzer and you're in the SITUATION ROOM.

President Obama says his re-election proves that Americans want action on the economy, not just politics as usual. Just days after his victory, he's laying out a framework for compromise with the Republicans to avoid $600 billion in automatic spending cuts and tax hikes in the next year. He says he's open to new ideas, but he warns the federal government can't cut its way to prosperity.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If we're serious about reducing the deficit, we have to combine spending cuts with revenue. And that means asking the wealthiest Americans to pay a little more in taxes. That's how we did it --


OBAMA: That's how we did it in the 1990s when Bill Clinton was president. That's how we can reduce the deficit while still making the investments we need to build a strong middle class and a strong economy. That's the only way we can still afford to train our workers or help our kids pay for college, or make sure that good jobs and clean energy or high-tech manufacturing don't end up in countries like China.

Now, already I've put forward a detailed plan that allows us to make these investments while reducing our deficit by $4 trillion over the next decade. I want to be clear, I'm not weighted to every detail of my plan. I'm open to compromise. I'm open to new ideas. I'm committed to solving our fiscal challenges.

But, I refuse to accept any approach that isn't balanced. I'm not going to ask students and seniors and middle class families to pay down the entire deficit while people like me making over $250,000 aren't asked to pay a dime more in taxes. I'm not going to do that.


OBAMA: And I just want to point out, this was a central question during the election. It was debated over and over again. And on Tuesday night, we found out that the majority of Americans agree with my approach. And that includes Democrats, independents and a lot of Republicans across the country, as well as independent economists and budget experts. That's how you reduce the deficit. With a balanced approach.

So our job now is to get a majority in Congress to reflect the will of the American people. And I believe we can get that majority. I was encouraged to hear that speaker Boehner agree that tax revenue has to be part of this equation. So I look forward to hearing his ideas when I see him next week.

And let me make one final point that every American needs to hear. Right now, if Congress fails to come to an agreement on an overall deficit reduction package by the end of the year, everybody's taxes will automatically go up on January 1st.


BLITZER: All Right. Let's bring in our chief White House correspondent, Jessica Yellin. Let's move the story forward a little bit, Jessica. The president is going to on a trip overseas but he's got to get involved deeply in negotiation. His top aides, of course, will be meeting with the Republicans and the Democrats on the hill. What is going to happen in the coming days?


Well, in the coming days the president has already invited the leaders of the House and the Senate, both Democrats and Republicans to meet with him at the White House to talk about these negotiations and begin basically laying out where each side stands.

Right now, what we know is that the major sticking point is over this tax rate for the top earners. The president as you just heard saying the tax rates for those making $250,000 and up must increase. House Republicans making it clear that they are willing to negotiate, but no tax rate increase. It sounds like everything else is negotiable, but this is the one red line where the two sides will ultimately be butting heads, Wolf.

BLITZER: So they're going to look for some wiggle room, because one side may have to blink unless they come up with some new formula to bridge this difference. YELLIN: It does look like one side will have to blink. One thing I would point out is that the president or the White House, I should say, his aides on his behalf, made it clear that he would veto any piece of legislation that does not include an increase in tax rates for those top earners. So, and they believe he won re-election in part on his promise to do just that. So they feel they do have the leverage on their side. Add to that the fact that those tax rates will automatically jump in the New Year, if nothing is done, which is a powerful forcing mechanism. They do think that they have a bit of the edge here but would rather cut a deal than obviously jump off the cliff.

BLITZER: Yes. Everyone would like to see a deal right now.

All right Jessica, thanks very much.

Let's dig deeper right now with our chief political analyst Gloria Borger and senior political analyst Ron Brownstein, the editorial director of "the National Journal."

Anything from what the president said on Friday surprise you?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: No. I think -- look. This is the opening hand, OK? They have all sort of put their cards on the table. The president says you know, you've got to repeal these tax cuts for the wealthy, John Boehner says no, we're going to stunt growth in the economy if we do that. I think they all agree, you have to extend tax cuts at least for the middle class, that's kind of the intersection of the diagram, if you will, where they do agree.

The question that I have is there is a way to increase tax rates for the wealthy without just raising the rate to 39.6 from 35? Is there a way to do that, say, through tax reform, where you cap deductions for the wealthiest taxpayers, and in effect they will pay a higher rate, but you won't call it a higher rate. So, is that a matter of semantics?

BLITZER: He says the wealthiest to pay a little more in taxes. He didn't necessarily say -- I didn't hear him use the number 35 percent or 39.6 percent.

BORGER: Exactly.

BLITZER: So if they eliminate a lot of deductions and say if you're making more than that amount of money, you're not going to be eligible for these deductions, these loopholes, these tax credits or whatever, is that an area where they can compromise?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: First of all, he's had a proposal exactly to that effect in this budget for the last few years that says that value of deductions would be reduced to people who are at the highest level of income in the top bracket. So, he already has it on the table. I don't see him accepting the tax rate, the lower tax rate keeping at 35 percent. You know, Gloria, -- BLITZER: Ron, let me stop you for a second. If he's going to insist on raising from 35 to 39.6, do they have the votes in the House of Representatives to block it?

BROWNSTEIN: They don't need the votes. That's the point, right? I mean, the point is the table is not the same table that it used to be.

BLITZER: In other words you go over the fiscal cliff.

BROWNSTEIN: You go over the cliff.

BLITZER: Every - 98 percent -- all the middle class, their taxes are going to go up, the sequestration, the defense spending, those of all effect, the cuts on defense spending, all of that will happen.

BROWNSTEIN: We're at the point who is playing chicken here.

BORGER: All of them.

BROWNSTEIN: The reality is that if there is stalemate, the tax rates do go up on people at the top along with everybody else. But, when John Boehner said --

BLITZER: Do you think Republicans would let that happen?

BROWNSTEIN: That's the question. I mean, that's what the president would demand on John Boehner, the speaker said this week that higher tax rates at the top are unacceptable to him. I was thinking, with all due respect, it's not really in your control anymore unless you make a deal, those rates are going up because the president has been very clear that he is not going to sign them.

BORGER: The president does have the public on his side. If you look at the exit polls, 47 percent of people said that tax rates should go up on those earning 250,000 or above.

BROWNSTEIN: Basically 60 percent were willing to raise stacks.

BORGER: So, you could try to redefine who is wealthy, who has got a million bucks, who has the $250,000. Look, I think these people all understand that it is in their own self-interest to get something done. And in my experience, that's when Congress gets something done.

BLITZER: When they have self-interest.

BORGER: Yes. So, I think --

BLITZER: And this notion that the president has put out, once again he's done it often. You know what, has the -- continue the tax rates for everyone under 250,000, that's 98 percent of taxpayers, separately immediately everybody agrees they should not have an increase in taxes pass legislation to keep the tax rates the same and we'll worry about the wealthy later. What do you think about that argument? BROWNSTEIN: What a strong rhetorical position with the president, obviously, something not of interest to the Republicans, because once you do couple of those taxes, there is really no chance --

BLITZER: You lose your leverage.

BROWNSTEIN: So, I mean, they want to keep them together. In effect, holding the 98 percent reduction hostage to maintaining the current rates.

BORGER: Here's the irony here. They all know what the outlines of a deal is. They know.

BLITZER: I want to play what John Boehner said on Friday, because he laid out his position pretty carefully, precisely. Listen to this.


REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: This is an opportunity for the president to lead. This is his moment to engage the Congress and work towards a solution that can pass both chambers. Raising tax rates will slow down our ability to create the jobs that everyone says they want.


BLITZER: All right, Gloria. Go ahead.

BORGER: So, I mean, that's his point. Raising rates is going to slow the economy. This is not the time to raise taxes in the middle of a very weak economy. OK. We understand that. What I was saying before is that they all really understand what the parameters of a macro, big deal would be. They know what you have to do with entitlements. This is not a new discussion for them. They know what you have to do with tax reform. You have Simpson-Bowles sitting out there. What you have to do is get past this question.

BLITZER: I want to play on a totally different note, a remarkable video that the Obama campaign released on the morning after he won his re-election, and he gets very emotional.


OBAMA: I felt that the work that I've done, in running for office, had come full circle. Because you guys have done means that the work that I'm doing. I'm really proud of that. I'm really proud of you. And --



BLITZER: It's not often you see the president of the United States crying. BROWNSTEIN: We have not seen that really from him. Political cartoonists sometimes draw him as Mr. Spot. I mean, you know. So, it is extraordinary. But, I think it's just a reminder, we've talked this week about how close this election was in the popular vote. The extraordinary reality of winning the re-election against the head wind of the grueling economy and just how difficult that was and how extraordinary an accomplishment that is both for him and his team, and I think you see the emotion coming through there.

BORGER: Yes. I think it's the side of the president we really haven't seen. I mean, you'll recall during this campaign, both of these candidates had to have their wives humanize them. This president didn't need anybody to do that for him. I mean, this was clearly coming from his heart, very grateful to these people, because he did know, as Ron said, that this was such a tough, tough race, given the state of the economy. No one has ever done it before in history with this kind of an unemployment rate.

BLITZER: Totally true.

Guys, thanks very much. We're going to be watching because the stakes obviously are enormous over the next few weeks.

Meanwhile, Republicans face a new reality, the changing face of America. Older white males went for Mitt Romney. The president captured just about every other group.


BLITZER: In the wake of a resounding defeat on the presidential election, the Republican Party, now faces a new reality, the changing face of America.

Lisa Sylvester has been looking into this part of the story for us.

Lisa, what are you seeing?

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, you know, even before the official numbers were all in, people started dissecting what went right for President Obama and what went wrong for Governor Romney. And if you look at the data, you can see that it came down to demographics. Romney had the vote of older white males and white women. President Obama had the majority vote of just about everyone else.


SYLVESTER (voice-over): The day after the election and there's a political hangover among conservatives. At the national press club, the tea party's national coordinator blames Romney himself.

JENNY BETH MARTIN, TEA PARTY PATRIOTS: What we got was a weak, moderate candidate, handpicked by the belt way elites and country club establishment wing of the Republican Party. SYLVESTER: Plenty of soul searching now, but one reality stands out, the face of America is changing. What clinched it for President Obama? The minority vote, the youth vote and in part the women's vote.

STUART ROTHENBERG, ROTHENBERG POLITICAL REPORT: The reality is the younger voters, African-American voters, Latino voters, identify with the president. They like his positions. They like the Democratic Party's position.

SYLVESTER: Romney had 59 percent of the white vote. Obama dominated everywhere else. Ninety three percent of the African- American votes, 71 percent of the Latino votes and 73 percent of the Asian votes.

BEN JEALOUS, NAACP PRESIDENT: When you look at a state like Florida, we know that we signed up 137,000 new people to vote. And we also know that the president only won by about 50 thousand votes. And those folks we signed up to vote were black and brown primarily.

SYLVESTER: Census figure show the Hispanic population grew by 43 percent between 2000 and 2010. Caucasians grew by only 5.7 percent during the same period. Those numbers can't be ignored. Republicans acknowledging that they need to reach out to Latino and African- Americans including people like the former congressman from Alabama, Artur Davis, who changed party from the Democrat to Republican.

ALFRED REGNERY, THE PAUL REVERE PROJECT: I think that Republicans certainly have to address that one way or another. I had dinner with Artur Davis not long ago who outlined what he thought and his points were very significant, things that Republicans need to listen to in terms of what blacks and Hispanics believe what they want and candidate and so on. And I think if Republicans don't start listening to that, it's going to be a long time before they win.

SYLVESTER: They pinning their hopes on the younger up incoming stars of the GOP Marco Rubio of Florida, Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and newly elected senator, Ted Cruz of Texas.


SYLVESTER: And one issue that is expected to gain traction, immigration reform. Given the election results, some conservatives are now saying maybe it is time to embrace comprehensive immigration reform to find a solution to the millions of undocumented immigrants living in United States, Wolf.

BLITZER: There is going to be a major push on comprehensive immigration reform early in the year. We will see if the president, the Democrats and the Republicans can get it together this time. They've failed in the past.

SYLVESTER: Yes. And you know, now you're also hearing a different tune from some Republicans. Not all, but some Republicans are taking another look at the issue of immigration reform and you can expect, I think, that there will be some positions that change there, Wolf.

BLITZER: They want to win votes with a lot of Hispanics out there, they better start taking another look at it. Thank you.

Some voters went to the polls full of enthusiasm and left angry and frustrated. So what can be done to make sure Americans don't wait hours and hours to vote?


BLITZER: Fears of an election meltdown weren't realized, but Election Day wasn't exactly problem free either.

CNN's Brian Todd has been looking into this for us.

Brian, there were extremely long lines, lots of complicated situations. Some people gave up and didn't vote.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. The lines were a big problem, Wolf. But also you had machines jamming up, machines changing votes in Philadelphia. Republican poll monitors had to be escorted into precincts by sheriffs' deputies after some of them had been denied access. But as Wolf mentioned, it was congestion at the polling places that seemed to be the biggest embarrassment.


TODD (voice-over): Some voters waited in seemingly endless lines to cast ballots.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know, one hour waiting at the skin, that is bad. That looks bad.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Two hours, ten minutes.

TODD: In plantation Florida, four hours in line. Some people gave up.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People left and they won't come back. They can't come back.

TODD: The president in his hour of glory even felt compelled to say this.

OBAMA: Whether you voted for the very first time, or waited in line for a very long time -- by the way, we have to fix that.

TODD: Then there were scattered reports of voting machine problems. In Pennsylvania, an embarrassing scene posted on You Tube, one machine indicated a vote for Mitt Romney when a voter tried to choose President Obama. The machine had to be recalibrated.

But the lines were the big story in many places including key swing states. Paul Herrnson at the University of Maryland who keeps close taps on voting system, says the backups shouldn't be happening, but there are several reasons they do. Congestion often builds, he says, in communities that can't afford to streamline voting.

PAUL HERRNSON, PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND: Those communities, counts usually have to decide between paying money for voting systems and election administration, roads, bridges and hospitals and of course, voting systems come in last.

TODD: But other issues cropped up as well depending on where you were voting. In some places in Florida, the ballots were 12 pages long. Another big factor Herrnson says, was the decision by some states to cut back the number of early voting days. Some state legislatures rammed through voter id laws requiring people to show photo IDs, fill out affidavits and other forms if they didn't have them. Plenty of people had no trouble and there's no indication that any of this tilted the outcome of the election. But, there's little doubt, this is now a path work system that is messy, unwieldy different in every state.

How do you fix this sort of this just one system federally mandated streamline for everybody?

HERRNSON: It would be difficult to fix it by having one system. The states have primary authority for conducting elections and some of that pass that authority down to the counties and give them leeway in implementation. And it would be extremely challenging because each state has its own traditions, its own culture.


TODD: Herrnson says there is no one big fix to any of this. He says, after the 2000 Florida recount, the federal governmental allocated some money to try to improve things and created an agency called the election assistance commission. Herrnson says the problem with that body is that it doesn't work very well. It's not well funded and we checked on this. It's been without all four of its designated commissioners for almost a year now.

A spokesman for the commission told us, it does not have any regulatory authority. The commission can offer advice to states how to streamline voting he says, but it cannot tell them what to do. Wolf, the president wants to fix the system, he's got no agency with which to fix them.

BLITZER: It's a real problem because it is not in the hands of state on what level of authority. So politically speaking, who wins, who loses when the lines are so long?

TODD: Analysts say, you know, the people who tend to, you know, wait in these long lines tend to be in areas that have lower income, so there are people who may be have a stricter work schedule, have to rely on public transportation a little more, those are the people who give up and leave because they pretty much have to.

Those people, analysts say, tend to be more democratic. But, this year the Obama team did such a good job in galvanizing their voters, it's getting them motivated to go to the polls and stick it out, it didn't make such a difference this year. BLITZER: It's hard to believe in this day and age in the United States of America we still have these problems, basic problems letting people - they should have spend two, three, four, five hours just to go out and vote especially when you have to work on those days as well.

TODD: Right.

BLITZER: Brian, thank you.

Does President Obama owe his re-election to Bill Clinton. I will ask his close ally and friend the Chicago mayor, Rahm Emanuel.


BLITZER: This week's historic re-election a huge moment, not only for President Obama, but also for those closest to him. Many of whom have been with the president since his journey to the White House first began. One of those people, the president's former chief of staff, the Chicago mayor, Rahm Emanuel. He and his wife were with President Obama backstage on election night when he gave his big speech.

The mayor of Chicago is joining us now. Mr. Mayor, thanks very much for coming in.


BLITZER: Let me read to you what the president told "Time" magazine a couple months ago looking ahead at the time when he was asked about a second term if he were re-elected. He was asked what he would do differently. He said there will be some popping of the blister after this election, where Republicans refuse to cooperate on things that I know are good for the American people. I will continue to look for ways to do it administratively and work around congress. What do you think of that strategy?

EMANUEL: Well, I mean, take a look at any executive order. He's signed them, the President Clinton has signed then, every president has used them. When you think something is imperative for the country to move forward, if Congress refuses to act you use the authority in the executive branch.

He did it on immigration and deportation as well as on the dream act. And so, Congress refused to take up an immigration bill that dealt with an important issue. With what areas he could effect, he took executive action. That he is the same place that President Clinton dealt with things, as he dealt with his access to tobacco products or the marketing of tobacco products.


EMANUEL: I think it's appropriate -- with both President Obama and Clinton, I think it's appropriate when Congress refuses to act and the president of United States deems an issue or progress on that issue so imperative for the nation's security or well being, it's appropriate and I don't think -- also it's a message to the American people, I will not allow congress's inability to move and take action to stop us as a country from making progress.

BLITZER: But, sometimes you can't just take an executive order administratively. You need congressional legislation as you'll need in the next two months to avoid what's called that fiscal cliff.

So, here's the question. How do you negotiate a compromise, a deal with the House speaker John Boehner?

EMANUEL: Two points I would stress. We've had an election. I think speaker Boehner, as well as the Senate majority leader Harry Reid and the respective minority leader in both chambers, they know, since they've all run for office, the American people have spoken.

Back in '96, we had also a very aggressive and campaign between President Clinton and Bob Dole. The election was over. Nine months later, a year later, we had a balanced budget agreement that created the children's health insurance program, doubled the size of our national parks and created middle class tax credits for sending their kids to college.

This time given the voters have spoken, the president won the election with a middle class progressive agenda for pro growth economic strategy based on the middle class, it's incumbent the parties work together to avoid the fiscal issue but lay a path for economic growth.

BLITZER: Well, I know that work , excuse me for interrupting, work closely with the speaker Newt Gingrich. Do you think John Boehner and you know John Boehner, the speaker of the house, do you think he can do with this present what Gingrich and Clinton did back in the '90s after the president was re-elected?

EMANUEL: Well, I do. I think it's essential that he also understand his own caucus and I think when the election is done, remember they were trying to defeat the president. Mitch McConnell said my number one goal is trying to defeat the president. That has failed. So it's incumbent upon them now to realize there's peril avoiding, political peril, avoiding the message of the voters and because the voters have spoken.

Now also, the Senate Democrats picked up seats across the country. So, now they are one region. So they're clear about that. And the president's always going to be open to different ideas, but not change the goals. And the goal is not just an economic strategy based on austerity, but one that is pro-growth, pro-middle class, that allows job creation while you're bringing fiscal discipline to Washington. It's not one or the other, it's both. And obviously John Boehner is wanting to work with the president. He's already expressed some opening to go that. It's going to take a while to get there. But if there is a willingness, I think the president is going to make sure we achieve a pro growth strategy while bringing physical discipline. Does John Boehner have the capacity? I think it's incumbent upon his caucus to say we're sending the speaker in to represent us that they come on an agreement and moves America forward because we all have something to this president said yesterday, regardless of who you voted for to resolve the issues that face the country.

BLITZER: Do you think the president owes a lot to your former boss, and you work for both these president, the former president Bill Clinton. How much does he owe Clinton for helping him get re-elect the?

EMANUEL: Well, first of all, I think you've got to take the president at his word, two things. One, he owes his re-election to the American people. That is the number person, our group of people he owes his election. And he said it last night so there's nothing more I can add to what he said.

Number two, the first person he called was Bill Clinton, as you know. So I think it's an indication, given he called him, given he thanked him, that he himself appreciates what the president has done not only on the campaign trail but going back to the convention.

But also, they are kindred spirits with the same middle class economic agenda. That is what I mean, there -- while they governed at different times, they have different presidencies and different people, they are kindred people in the same kind of progressive agenda that is build on an economic strategy that strengthens the middle class. And I say that repeatedly because I'm worried that Washington is going to get into one of its my op-ed discussions among themselves that is only about austerity and lose sight about I think an agenda that helps build our infrastructure, invest in the education and training of our work force, things the president advocated that gives people a vested interest in the outcome. It is not only austerity. Fiscal discipline, yes. But it's a pro growth strategy realizing the fundamentals that both Clinton and Obama have been advocated that invest in the economic opportunity. And if that part of the conversation is left off you are not going to get the growth you need in the economy and they are kindred spirits and he himself personally thanked Clinton. And I think that act speaks to how he appreciate what he did on the trail as well as at the convention.

BLITZER: Thanks very much for joining us, Mr. Mayor.

EMANUEL: Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: Two states approve recreational marijuana use, but the feds say not so fast. We have details of a looming showdown.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: There are certainly lots of reasons Mitt Romney lost this election, one can be traced back to 2008 shortly after President Obama was first re-elected. That's when Mitt Romney wrote an article of the "New York Times' wrote a headline on, that op-ed entitled "let Detroit go bankrupt." Those four words haunted him to the bitter end.

CNN's Martin Savidge looks at how the candidates' differences over the auto bailout made a huge difference in Ohio. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (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, rate now the seven compared to the nation at 7.9. And since the bailout, GM and Chrysler have both unveiled major improvement or expansion plans creating at least a thousand 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 those members returned the favor.

STEVE FRAMMARTINO, PRESIDENT, UAW LOCAL 1005: He did it for us, we did it for him. When you look at the two candidates though, 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.

OBAMA: Governor Romney said we should let Detroit go bankrupt. I refused to turn my back on communities like this one.

SAVIDGE: The message came through Lloyd 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 point. The message is clear, he saved our jobs, let's save his job in November.

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

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


SAVIDGE: So just how important was the bailout to the election outcome? Ohio political science expert says simply.

TOM SUTTON, POLITICAL SCIENTIST, BALDWIN WALLACE UNIVERSITY: 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. And for President Obama, they added up to victory.

Martin Savidge, CNN. Parma, Ohio.


BLITZER: Voters in Colorado have spoken, legalizing marijuana for recreational use by a ten-point margin. But as CNN's Ed Lavandera reports, it might not be that easy.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's the kind of story that makes headline writers salivate.

GOV. JOHN HICKENLOOPER (D), COLORADO: I can only imagine, you know, what Jay Leno and company are going to be saying over the next week or two. There will be lots of jokes and I'm sure there will be plenty of snack foods discussed.

LAVANDERA: After Colorado voters approved legalizing marijuana, the state's governor John Hickenlooper could only warn everybody not to break out the cheetos and gold fish just yet. The fact is no one knows what will happen next.

HICKENLOOPER: It's hard to imagine the chaos that would result if state by state you had one state legalizing and one state not legalizing it.

LAVANDERA: But, that's exactly what's happening. Seventeen states have already legalized marijuana for medicinal use and Colorado and Washington states are the first to approve to selling the drug like alcohol. The vote has put these states on a collision course with the federal government which still says possessing marijuana is a crime.

SAM KAMIN, LAW PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF DENVER: It simply can't go on the way it is. It can't be a big industry and a federal crime at the same time.

LAVANDERA: Sam Kamin is a University of Denver law professor. He says as more and more states legalize marijuana for medical purposes, the federal government looked the other way.

KAMIN: Every store that sells marijuana here is violating federal law. The federal government could come in. They could seize assets. They could charge people criminally. They could people to jail for scores of years. They have chosen so far not to do that.

LAVANDERA: Colorado already has a lot experience regulating marijuana. There are more than 500 licensed medical marijuana clinics across the state. And then, there is the cultivation room where all of this marijuana is growing, hundreds of different stains in flavors, all of these happening right in the heart of the city of Denver.

The Colorado amendment would allow anyone over 21 to possess up to an ounce of pot. It would allow licensed production and weed sales would be taxed up to 15 percent. The profits then slighted to help pay for the construction of public schools. Federal prosecutors and law enforcement aren't saying much only that they're reviewing the ballot initiatives.

MASON TVERT, COIO, AMENDMENT 64 SUPPORTER: I think Colorado voters are clearly fed up with prohibition.

LAVANDERA: Mason Tvert was part of the group that push to legalize pot in Colorado. He says it could generate nearly $50 million a year for the state.

This law is going to cause chaos. What do you say to that?

TVERT: I think that's absurd. Take marijuana out of the underground market. Let's stop giving all the profit to cartels and gangs and start putting those profits towards businesses and let's start generating tens of millions in tax revenue that could be benefiting our state as opposed to going overseas or going towards criminal activity.

LAVANDERA: It's an awkward time. Voters very essentially passed a smoky bong to the federal government and it needs to figure out what to do next.

Ed Lavandera, CNN. Denver, Colorado.


BLITZER: By the way, after that warning to residents not to break out the cheetos and gold fish too quickly, the Colorado governor received a special delivery. An attorney and marijuana advocate and his daughters dropped by his office leaving bags of the snack foods with (INAUDIBLE).

If you're a real political junky and wondering what to do now that the elections are over, stay right here. Our John Berman is already checking out the fast moves in the 2016 presidential race.


BLITZER: Even as the confetti dropped over the Obama victory celebration the name dropping started for 2016. Already there's no shortage of potential candidates.

CNN's John Berman looks ahead.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Remember when they used to do the funny dance, when the giants won the World Series? When Barack Obama was re-elected president. Remember that campaign? It seemed so long ago. So yesterday. Now? 2016 is the new 2012. Just ask Joe Biden when reporters wondered whether this would be the last time he cast a ballot for himself?


BERMAN: Or last month at a phone bank. BIDEN: After it's all over when your insurance rates go down then you'll vote for me in 2016.

BERMAN: Could the vice president be kidding? Unlikely. There's nothing funny about Joe Biden. He might have Hillary Clinton to contend with. Who can forget last month when she was asked by "Marie Claire" magazine if she's running for president, her answer "no, I'm not." You see that? She didn't say "I will not, just that "I am not," clearly leaving the door wide open. She might as well as start printing bumper stickers.

Even her husband practically announced true intentions.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have no earthly idea what she'll decide to do.

BERMAN: How about other Democrats? Keep an eye on Governor Martin O'Malley of Maryland. It's not hard, since he keeps turning up on this show and this one, this one and this one.

And Republicans? Paul Ryan already ran for president once, according to Mitt Romney.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Join me in welcoming the next president of the United States, Paul Ryan.

BERMAN: We just learned that Florida's Marco Rubio will coincidentally be headlining a birthday celebration for the Iowa governor in Altoona. Don't be surprised if you see Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal take a ski trip to New Hampshire or Chris Christie with a time share in South Carolina and there are others. So many others.

There are still a great many twists and turns and unknowns, but one thing about 2016 seems fairly certain, they will still be counting ballots in Florida from this time.

John Berman, CNN, New York.


BLITZER: For political news junkies like me I can't wait, already looking forward to the Iowa caucuses.

Jeanne Moos has been combing through hours and hours of election coverage. Up next she is going to show us some of the most unusual moments.


BLITZER: Here's a look at this hour's hot shots of New York.

Look at this. A man shovels snow from a sidewalk after the nor'easter.

In China soldiers pass the great wall of the people before the opening of the communist party congress. In India, a fisherman throws his net into a lake.

And in London a veteran places a cross in the royal British legion field of remembrance in Westminster abbey.

Hot shots, pictures coming from around the world.

It was the moment of truth on election night coverage. Our Jeanne Moos takes a closer look at how the networks called the election.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If you missed the moment live let's relive it.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW: President Obama has been reelected.

BLITZER: President of the United States.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: It was a hard-fought battle.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Colbert Report is ready to project that CNN has projected that animal planet has predicted, that the winner of the 2012 presidential election is Barack Obama.

MOOS: Talk about a thoughtful pundit, after painting a bleak picture of President Obama's second term, FOX commentator Dr. Charles Krauthammer joked.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, FOX NEWS COMMENTATOR: As a psychiatrist I will offer to write prescriptions for anybody who needs them now.

MOOS: But Obama's supporters were ecstatic. CNN even cut a way into some in Kenya, speaking of which, what would election night be without a Donald Trump angle. After Mitt Romney's lost, Trump tweeted this election is a total sham and travesty. We should have a revolution in this country which prompted NBC's Brian Williams to launch this zinger.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, NBC NIGHTLY NEWS ANCHOR: Donald Trump, who has driven well past the last exit to relevance --

MOOS: The exit for Mitt Romney was Ohio, and after FOX News called Ohio for Obama, the network's own best known commentator objected.

KARL ROVE, AMERICAN CONSULTANT AND POLICY ADVISOR: We've got to be careful about calling things.


MOOS: Once Karl Rove questioned the call by FOX's decision desk, Meghan Kelly walked back there.


MOOS: Live camera in tow.

KELLY: Keep coming. Here we go.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're quite comfortable with the call in Ohio.

MOOS: But, the anchor who brought the most laughs was ABC's Diane Sawyer.

DIANE SAWYER, ABC NEWS ANCHOR: Can we have our music, because this is another big one here.

MOOS: Viewers thought her delivery was strange. I'll have what Diane Sawyer is having, tweeted singer Josh Groban.

SAWYER: President Barack Obama has won Minnesota.

MOOS: Someone else tweeted "Diane Sawyer declares tonight's winner is chardonnay." Officially ABC wouldn't comment but staffers suggest Diane was just exhausted from hurricane coverage and debate prep.

And what's an anchor supposed to do when she gets a call of nature while she's in the middle of calling states?

MADDOW: I came back from the bathroom and said that Colorado was still too close to call. Nobody told me while I was in the bathroom Colorado went for President Obama, thanks, you guys, I really appreciate it.

MOOS: One thing networks don't project are bathroom breaks.

Jeanne Moos. CNN --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good news for Mitt Romney he has won tonight, most of the confederacy.

MOOS: New York.


BLITZER: Remember you can always follow what's going on here in the SITUATION ROOM on twitter, you can always tweet me @Wolfblitzer.

Thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in the SITUATION ROOM. The news continues next on CNN.