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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

AMERICA VOTES 2002

Aired November 6, 2002 - 04:00:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: All right, hello. We want to welcome our viewers who are joining us and thank those of you who have been with us all night for staying with us, continuing to do so. Weíve got much more coming up. Lots of surprises to talk about from last night.
DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: And also, I understand we have been joined by viewers around the world on CNN INTERNATIONAL. So welcome to all of you as well. A lot of interest in what has taken place here in the United States with this latest election 2002.

HARRIS: Thatís right. Of course, the big question of the evening coming in was the balance of power in the Senate. Letís take a look at how things shape up right now.

Still have a couple of decisions to be made yet, but at this particular point, hereís what we know.

At this point, come again, there were some 34 seats up for contention, and you see there on the bottom, on the ďwon tonightĒ line, Democrats picked up 10 tonight, Republicans 21, giving Democrats a total of 46 at this point, and Republicans 50. That is, of course, as we say, at this point. There is still more to come on that.

Now, one of the things that is still to come is this race in Minnesota. Right now, it is too close to call. Itís late in the evening. Theyíre only partially way through the counting of the votes here, and as you can see here, Norm Coleman, we have him right now up by perhaps 4 percent points over Mondale and the independent candidate, Moore, well behind here. But the candidates have pretty much decided to call it an evening because itís going to be a long night of counting there.

KAGAN: They have. I believe itís just after 3:00 in the morning in Minnesota. They have called it a night, but our Anderson, Cooper, whoís covering the story for us, has not. He is still awake, even if his voice isnít quite there. But being a trooper, heís going to bring us the latest there, from St. Paul, Minnesota.

Anderson, good morning to you.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you and to Leon.

They have called it a night here. Things are really winding down, even the media is sort of breaking down, ready to go to sleep for a couple of hours before a press conference tomorrow morning, perhaps around 9:00 Central time. That was called by the Mondale campaign.

They say itís simply too close to call. Theyíre trailing about 4 percent points at this point. Obviously, they are not happy about that, but they say, look, theyíre about 1 million votes that have already been cast that havenít been counted yet. Theyíre just going to wait it out. Weíre going to see what happens. And we will make some sort of announcement tomorrow morning.

Itís been a short campaign, but a long day for both candidates. Walter Mondale began today early, voting with his wife. Remarkable when you think that it was 30 years ago that Walter Mondale last campaigned for the Senate. You know, if youíd asked him two weeks ago would he be ever running again, he would have told you no. Obviously, everything changed with the death of Sen. Paul Wellstone.

Norm Coleman, also voting with his wife after working all night last night, driving to some 15 cities in Minnesota in 15 hours in an RV. He then addressed the crowd. He went out and voted. He has been up all day, working the phones, trying to get out the vote.

And the vote came out for both candidates; very high turnout in this state, which is used to very high turnout.

Both candidates -- weíre showing some video, I think, of Norm Coleman, going to greet his supporters at the Radisson Hotel. Walter Mondale also came here to this room twice this evening, just to meet and greet his supporters, to give them some words of encouragement.

He spoke very briefly, just saying look, you know, I think we can win this thing, letís stay optimistic. And that is the message they want to carry.

It remains to be seen what will happen, as youíve said, and as we all have said throughout this night, it is just too close to call, still at this late, or perhaps I should say this early, hour -- Daryn.

KAGAN: Anderson, because this race is so close, I have a question about the absentee ballots. They went out when this race was originally between Paul Wellstone and Norm Coleman, and there was a question about the people who filed votes for Wellstone. What happened to those votes? And were those people allowed to vote again?

COOPER: Yes, that is a very good question, and it is a question that has really irked a lot of Wellstone supporters, Mondale supporters, a lot of them in the DFL party here in Minnesota.

Basically, what happened is, there are about 100,000 absentee ballots, roughly, according to the secretary of state, that they have received. Now, the absentee ballots that were sent in before Paul Wellstone died, those -- they challenged this in court -- those ballots were ruled ineligible, but, and this is a very important but, the people who had cast ballots for Wellstone had to contact the secretary of stateís office and ask that a new ballot be sent to them. It wasnít an automatic thing that automatically new absentee ballots went out. The same is not true for those who had cast absentee ballots for Norm Coleman. If you had voted for Norm Coleman in the first round of absentee ballots, your vote remains valid. If you had voted for Paul Wellstone, your vote didnít remain valid, and you had to be the one to contact the secretary of stateís office, and they would then send you a ballot. And they wouldnít send it overnight mail; they would send it regular mail.

So itís a big question tonight, what is going to happen with those absentee ballots. They are being counted at this moment. They will be part of the final total. Itís not going to be a thing where youíre waiting a week or two weeks to find out who voted on the absentee ballots.

But the big question is, how many of the people who voted for Wellstone originally actually went to the trouble to get new absentee ballots and recast their vote for Walter Mondale, if thatís in fact who they voted for -- Daryn.

KAGAN: Anderson Cooper, pulling a late night in St. Paul, Minnesota. We appreciate you staying up with us -- much appreciated.

Want to go ahead and look at some other races, one thatís also too close to call, and that is the Senate race in South Dakota. This one, a lot of effort going into it. This is the home state of current Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, President Bush visiting four times.

But right now, with 93 percent reporting, Thune, just with a slight, slight lead over the incumbent, Johnson.

HARRIS: And our Jon Karl is saying it may turn on just the last two precincts coming on.

KAGAN: Theyíre trying to get those votes into the right place so they can count them.

This one, though, not too close to call. A close race, indeed, the incumbent, Jean Carnahan, the widow of the former governor of Missouri, Jean Carnahan, she uses the defense of her seat to Jim Talent. This is a pickup for the Republicans.

And Jim Talent had some words not that long ago. Letís go ahead and listen in.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SEN.-ELECT JIM TALENT (R) MISSOURI: I want to go to Washington to work together. You know, the last two years have been a difficult time for the leaders of our government, and particularly in the Senate. Thereís been a struggle, a sense that there was a tremendous struggle for power going on, ever since the Senate changed hands when Sen. Jeffords switched.

I donít blame either side for that sense of struggle, or maybe I blame both. It is time to set that aside. The election is over. The Senate is going to be narrowly divided. Weíre going to have to work together to get things done. And even if we disagree about tactics, in many cases we agree about what we want to do, and we should set our differences aside and try and accomplish something.

Thatís not looking through rose-colored glasses. Thatís what every generation of leaders in America has done.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KAGAN: Jim Talent, senator-elect from Missouri. What an incredible couple of years this has been for Jean Carnahan.

HARRIS: Yes.

KAGAN: First, tragically loses her husband in the plane crash just days before the election in the year 2000. And then as he is elected with his name still on the ballot, she steps in and carries his name, carries that office for two years, and gives it a good fight, only to go on and lose tonight.

HARRIS: Now she has to live with that.

But you know, Democrats may have had their hearts broken in that race, but they basically had their hearts crushed by what happened in Georgia. That was one of the biggest surprises that we have seen of the evening here.

The Republicans here gained a key pickup here in the Senate when Saxby Chambliss comes from out of nowhere to defeat Max Cleland, the incumbent Democrat here, for the Senate seat there from Georgia.

Just a matter of days ago, Cleland had a double-digit advantage both in the polls and a huge advantage with money, and yet still that was not enough to pull it off in this particular race.

Now, another surprise, actually, moments ago -- actually, a little while ago, I should say, Saxby Chambliss, the victorious candidate there, was out speaking to his supporters.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SEN.-ELECT SAXBY CHAMBLISS (R) GEORGIA: This road started a little over a year ago. When we first made the decision to run for the United States Senate, after getting an awful lot of encouragement from most of you folks in this room, and other folks all over our great state.

Nobody gave us much of a chance to win this raceÖ

(APPLAUSE)

But you know, as Julianne and I thought about it, and we prayed about it before we made that decision to run, we knew that if you put people ahead of politics, good things can happen.

(END VIDEOTAPE) HARRIS: Now, as bad as things were for the Democrats with that particular result, and as good as they were for the Republicans, we shouldnít leave that out, the Democrats did finally have something to smile about in Arkansas.

There, as we see here, Mark Pryor did pickup the seat here from the incumbent, Tim Hutchinson, and he did so in convincing fashion.

He was out speaking to his supporters just a while ago.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SEN. TIM HUTCHINSON (R) ARKANSAS: This victory belongs to the people of the state of Arkansas, and I can assure you that I will go to Washington and every day Iím there, Iíll work hard to make you proud.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARRIS: And just to be clear, that was not the winner of that race. Mark Pryor was the winner of that race. Tim Hutchinson was just speaking to his supporters, trying to console them.

KAGAN: All right, now actually there is one other bright spot. Actually, you can call this one a save for the Democrats, and that is in New Jersey, a race that looked like it was just gone with the problems of Sen. Torricelli just a few weeks ago, Frank Lautenberg stepping in and going on to beat Doug Forrester, who looked like he had a considerable lead over Torricelli before he dropped out of that race.

Lautenberg coming back to the Senate. Hereís Sen. Lautenberg.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SEN.-ELECT FRANK LAUTENBERG (D) NEW JERSEY: Quite a surprise. We squeezed 10 months into 5 weeks, got it all done, got it all done, and tonight we stand here with a mandate to go ahead to Washington, standup there for all the people of New Jersey, and the people of this country, and do the right thing.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KAGAN: And also in North Carolina, itís not just Sen. Dole, you can say Senators Dole. That is because Elizabeth Dole is the senator- elect of North Carolina. She goes on to beat former chief of staff for the Clinton administration Erskine Bowles.

Sen. Dole, the future Sen. Dole, had these words to say earlier tonight.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SEN.-ELECT ELIZABETH DOLE (R) NORTH CAROLINA: Let me tell you, Iíve listened all across this state. Iíve learned and I will not let you down. God bless each and every one of you. God bless this great state. God bless this land of the free, America. Thanks. Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KAGAN: And we want to go ahead and bring Stu Rothenberg in, going back to a point that we made before. In 1996, Bill Clinton, Bob Dole, run for president, they both are now members, or soon-to-be members of the spouseís club in the Senate.

STUART ROTHENBERG, ďROTHENBERG POLITICAL REPORTĒ: Yes, it will be interesting to see how Elizabeth Dole does. She has a wonderful resume. She has a terrific personality thatís engaging, but thereís always some question about substance and how she will perform.

She may do wonderfully. She may leave some questions. I guess weíll see.

HARRIS: Well, she now gets to at least answer that question, because that was an issue when she was also trying to run for president a while ago.

Well, now as a senator, she gets a chance to fill in that blank, does she not?

ROTHENBERG: She does, and itís a really good opportunity. Sheíll be able to carve out a record. She was criticized for some flip-flopping, for some dodging of some issues. Now sheíll have six years to establish a record, show what kind of leadership she has, show how she reflects the state.

I think sheíll do reasonably well on Capital Hill.

KAGAN: This also a new era for North Carolina, given who is vacating the seat.

ROTHENBERG: Absolutely. Jesse Helms, he seems like heís been there forever, doesnít he?

And now itís interesting. We have John Edwards and Elizabeth Dole representing North Carolina. Two very different personalities, different types. One clearly has presidential ambitions now. One had presidential ambitions. I suspect Mrs. Dole does not have those immediately.

This is a state thatís very competitive. The Republicans usually seem to have an advantage, but the Democrats, when they get the right year and the right candidate, they can win. Erskine Bowles, apparently, was not the right candidate.

HARRIS: I just canít help imaging what that welcome ceremony must be like, or that meeting in the Senate gallery or cafeteria, even, when Sen. Clinton gets a chance to welcome Sen. Dole back to the House, to the gallery.

ROTHENBERG: Boy, Iíd pay to hear a tape of that, get some tape, see some tape. Wow.

HARRIS: It might be a bit interesting.

All right, letís get back to looking at the results from last night, and this morning as well, because they still keep coming in.

This was one of the results that didnít come in until late in the evening. Wayne Allard did hold on to his Senate seat there in Colorado, defeating Strickland there with what turned out to be a rather healthy margin, but it was a tight race going all the way to the end there.

KAGAN: OK. Weíre going to keep this Senate scene going.

Jean Shaheen, the governor, losing to Congressman John E. Sununu in this race; Sununu goes on to represent New Hampshire in the Senate.

HARRIS: And in Louisiana, again, we do know something. Itís a partial result here. Mary Landrieu, the incumbent there, did have a strong showing, but not strong enough to hold off a runoff. There Suzanne Haik Terrell is going to be in a runoff with Landrieu on December 7, Pearl Harbor Day.

KAGAN: There are the other two Republicans that she ran against, because itís a primary for Louisiana on this day, and the final being on December 7.

We move on now. In Iowa, incumbent Tom Harkin in the news lately, a very good friend of Paul Wellstone. And after that plane crash happened about a week-and-a-half ago, he came out and gave a very, very emotional tribute to his long-time friend in the United States Senate. He will hold on to his Senate seat.

HARRIS: And in Tennessee, Lamar Alexander, the former governor of that state, is now going to be representing that state in Washington as its Senator. he beat Bob Clement.

KAGAN: And like Elizabeth Dole, former presidential candidate.

HARRIS: Thatís right.

KAGAN: Texas, a lot of focus on this one, Democrats hoping to send Ron Kirk to the United States Senate as the first African American from Texas to go and represent the Lone Star State, but instead it will be John Cornyn for the Republicans.

HARRIS: And once again, the very interesting thing about that race is that the Democrats were trying to boost the turnout of the minorities in that state by putting Kirk on that ballot and getting Sanchez on the gubernatorial ballot and trying to drive more Hispanics and more African Americans back to the polls ratherÖ

KAGAN: And neither one won.

HARRIS: Ö and it didnít work out for either one of them.

KAGAN: Even though Sanchez poured what, like, $63 million of his own moneyÖ

HARRIS: A lot, yes, exactly.

KAGAN: Ö into that governorís race.

HARRIS: Heís an oil guy, though. He can afford it.

KAGAN: Weíre going to talk money and politics and have a lot more results for you, after this break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KAGAN: And welcome back to our continuing coverage of election 2002.

We want to look at the House of Representatives and the balance of power as it plays out with races that we know have been decided so far.

Going into the night, the Republicans held 223 seats, the Democrats 211, and as Stu Rothenberg points out, donít forget the one independent. Total now: 201 for Democrats, 226 for Republicans, 7 undecided.

But the big picture here is the Republicans will control not only the House, but the Senate as well.

We want to look at some specific House races, beginning in Maryland. these are unusual in that the incumbents lost their races. Not the trend of the night at all. Chris Van Hollen beating the incumbent Connie Morella in Maryland.

And another place where this took place. This is the First District House, First District in New York. Grucci from the fireworks family, I believe, heís losing his seat to Bishop, a pickup for the Democrats.

HARRIS: I go to Florida. The Fifth District there in the House, weíve got Republican Virginia Brown-Waite there scoring a pickup there Republicans, narrowly beating Karen Thurman and pulling out over Gargan, the independent candidate there as well.

And in House District 13, there a very familiar face, Katherine Harris there with a pickup for Republicans, over Schneider, in a very strong showing there.

And looking now to the House District Five in Illinois, Ron Emanuel, one of the names we mentioned earlier with a connection to the Clinton administration, he did actually buck their trend and actually won today, with a huge percentage over Augusti there.

And going back to Dayton, OhioÖ

KAGAN: You love this race.

HARRIS: My favorite race here. KAGAN: Is it because this is your home state, Ohio?

HARRIS: And right next door to my home district as well. This is the district of Youngstown and (UNINTELLIGIBLE), here we go. Jim Traficant, who was waging his campaign from jail, will do so -- now heís got to cry in his beer, or whatever they give him there, because Tim Ryan actuallyÖ

KAGAN: His gruel.

HARRIS: Ö came through with that as a pickup for the Democrats there.

KAGAN: And Arizona, this is a new district. This basically starts in northern Arizona, around Flagstaff, and goes down to the Phoenix area. Renzi winning this one for the Republicans over Cordova, local businessman.

And in California, this was Gary Conditís seat, redrawn, through redistricting, but still will no longer be represented by Gary Condit. Now Dennis Cardoza expected to win this one over Dick Monteith.

HARRIS: And as I remember reading, thereís no love lost between Condit and Cardoza, right?

KAGAN: No. In fact, his children came out, I believe, and said if you do anything, do not vote for Dennis Cardoza, fellow Democrat. Because Cardoza used to work with Condit.

ROTHENBERG: Absolutely, and they used to be friends. And Gary Condit didnít like the fact that Cardoza challenged him in the primary in order to take his seat. A lot of personal bitterness.

KAGAN: All about opportunity.

HARRIS: Yes, right.

Well, as we look at the change, lack of change in the House, at least, with the balance of power, at this particular point, looking back now, can we come up with any over-arching theme yet?

ROTHENBERG: About the House? Certainly.

This was an incumbent election in the House. As we pointed out, three incumbents went down in defeat. There may be one or two others who, when all the votes are in, end up losing, but basically incumbents did very well.

Republicans actually took advantage of these open seats and in toss-up races, where they exceeded expectations. And whatís really important from the point of view of the president, this is, of course, a rare election, where the presidentís party gained seats in the midterm elections.

This happened twice in the previous hundred years or so, and now it has happened twice in four years, because the Democrats did the same thing in 1998.

HARRIS: Yes, but, Iím thinking back to í98. The reason why a lot of people felt the Democrats didnít happen to Bill Clinton was because of the impeachment. There was an issue that drove it that time around.

This time around, there doesnít seem to be any one issue that seems to be motivating voters out there one way or the other.

ROTHENBERG: No, but there are factors that explain what happened, Leon.

Normally, what happens is a president brings in some political deadwood with him. When he has a big win, he sweeps in a couple of congressional candidates from his party who ordinarily would not win.

George W. Bush didnít sweep anybody in. He barely swept himself in. He crawled in across the finish line. So there were not candidates who two years later were weak and were able to be washed out to sea.

In addition, the president succeeded, I think, in focusing on foreign policy and national security issues. He was not blamed for the economy. I think Republicans had a very, very significant financial advantage, a huge financial advantage.

Iíve got some figures. The National Republican Congressional Campaign Committee raised $157 million in hard and soft money between January 1, 2001 and the middle of October. $157 million. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, $84 million. Thatís a big difference.

HARRIS: Thatís huge.

KAGAN: I want to go ahead and look forward, and of course this is going to be a huge political benefit to President Bush, but in a case of kind of watch out what you wish for, what are the challenges that come with having both the House and the Senate as Republican majority?

ROTHENBERG: Well, you know, I think we also have to -- we have to wait and see exactly what the Republican majority in the Senate is.

If they happen to sweep these outstanding races -- itís a big difference between having 50 seats in the Senate, or 52 or 53, psychologically.

But what I think youíre getting at is now George W. Bush is going to have the entire responsibility for enacting his legislation. We all know that frequently in the Senate you need 60 votes. Itís not enough to have 50. The Democrats can stall and block and you need 60 votes to really get things done.

The Republicans donít have that, but too bad. Theyíre going to get blamed for it anyway. If anything goes wrong, George W. Bush is not going to have Tom Daschle to pin the blame on. KAGAN: And might he be more beholden to the conservative end of the party?

ROTHENBERG: Well, you know, right now, heís coming off a high here. I think everybody is going to want to attach themselves to George W. Bush, but he is going to walk a fine line. Heís running for reelection. As you know, weíve already begun his campaign. This election is over, the next one has begun.

So heís going to walk a fine line between a conservative agenda and appealing to moderates. And thereís always that danger, as he reaches out to moderates on education or prescription drugs or whatever, that conservatives in his own party will not be happy.

HARRIS: You mentioned money a second ago. I just want to hit on that real quickly, because we didnít even get a chance to talk about that before. Record amounts of money involved here, and much of it because the McCain-Feingold strictures come into play now, now that the election is over with. Now there is supposed to be at least some sort of limits there on soft money.

Is there any way to tell whether or not the huge, huge influx of money this time around actually had an impact that may not be seen down the road, or perhaps will be duplicated some other way?

ROTHENBERG: Well, I see an impact here, because there are a handful of Democratic candidates who came close, but were clearly under funded. They were badly outspent. Joe Turnham in Alabama is a classic case. He lost narrowly. He just didnít have enough money to get on the air to match his Republican opponent.

If the Democrats had had all the resources the Republicans had, I think they probably would have won two or three more races. Now, that may not seem like a lot, but when you have a narrowly divided House, it could be important.

KAGAN: And that will be just some of the Wednesday morning quarterbacking that will be taking place about how the DemocratsÖ

ROTHENBERG: Is it Wednesday already?

KAGAN: Yes, it is. In fact, itís Wednesday morning clear across America.

HARRIS: Not even in Guam; here in the states.

KAGAN: Yes, even in California, it is Wednesday morning, believe it or not.

You stay with us, though, youíre not excused. We still have a break and much more ahead, after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KAGAN: I was trying to challenge you to do these standing up.

HARRIS: Maybe next block. Maybe next block.

KAGAN: OK. Itís been a long stretch tonight.

HARRIS: Yes, itís been a long night for us here at CNN, but itís been fun.

KAGAN: Itís exciting.

HARRIS: Yes, itís been fun and exciting, but itís been a longer night for some of these candidates, who are still waiting to find out what happened with their races. But believe it or not, even at this hour of the morning, there are still too many races there where things are just too close to call.

In fact, letís take a look at some of them if we can right now. Letís look at some of the governorís races right now, that we still really canít make a call on. This is with every precinct reported. Talk about your dead heats.

How about this one. Don Siegelman, here, facing a strong challenge from Riley in Alabama, and this one we will not be able to call. This is just, as we said, too close, and weíre going to have to wait until they go over the results with a fine-toothed comb there.

And then in OklahomaÖ

KAGAN: This one was not supposed to be close. Alabama was.

HARRIS: Not supposed to be close at all. Steve Largent, who is the Congressman and former NFL star and Hall of FamerÖ

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