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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
America Votes 2004: Michigan, Washington Caucuses
Aired February 7, 2004 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: This is a CNN America Votes 2004 special presentation.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: The 2004 Democrats in a Saturday showdown. Up for grabs, Washington state and Michigan, the single biggest prize yet in this primary and caucus season.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Michigan is one of the most important industrial states in the country, and I really am hopeful that I can do well here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Front runner John Kerry hopes to add to his winning streak. But his top rivals are fighting to keep the race competitive.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
SEN. JOHN EDWARDS (D-NC), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's about narrowing the field down to two.
HOWARD DEAN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Do you want a little change, or do you want a lot of change?
WESLEY CLARK (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: People are excited and energized...
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
BLITZER: Will voters surprise us again? Results are being tallied right now.
ANNOUNCER: This is America Votes 2004, the Michigan and Washington caucuses. Here now, Wolf Blitzer.
BLITZER: Good evening.
This hour, the moment of truth in Michigan for Democrats battling to run against President Bush. Both the Associated Press and Reuters projecting John Kerry the winner of that state's caucuses, where a whopping 128 delegates are at stake.
Here are the latest numbers we're getting from Michigan right now. Take a look at this. With the 15 percent of the actual numbers now in, John Kerry way ahead, 56 percent of the vote so far, 15 percent for John Edwards, 14 percent for Howard Dean, Wesley Clark with 7 percent, Dennis Kucinich 5 percent, Al Sharpton 3 percent.
Those are the numbers that we're getting in from Michigan right now, the AP and Reuters both projecting John Kerry the winner in that state.
We expect state Democratic Party officials in Lansing to talk more about the caucus results momentarily. When they do, we'll bring you those comments live.
To the West now and Washington state, with 76 delegates on the line. CNN projects another victory for John Kerry.
Let's check the vote totals from Washington this hour. John Kerry the winner in Washington state in the caucuses right now. Here are the votes that we're getting.
Let's put those up on the screen right now, 76 delegates at stake in Washington state, with 76 of the delegate precincts now reporting, 49 percent for John Kerry, the winner, 31 percent for Howard Dean, Dennis Kucinich at 8 percent, Edwards and Clark 6 and 3 percent, respectively, Al Sharpton not doing well in Washington state.
No matter how Howard Dean does tonight, he's struggling, course (ph) that he's facing a serious new blow tonight, the powerful AFSCME labor union told Dean today it's withdrawing its endorsement of him.
Our correspondents are covering the story. They're out in the field. Kelly Wallace is with John Kerry in Richmond, Virginia. CNN's Candy Crowley is here in Washington following John Edwards and Wesley Clark's campaigns. And Joe Johns is covering Howard Dean's campaign in Burlington, Vermont.
First, let's go to Kelly. Kelly, what's the reaction there?
KELLY WALLACE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, John Kerry's aides certainly watching the reporting of results in Michigan very closely. They have reacted to John Kerry's victory in Washington state.
Stephanie Cutter (ph), the campaign press secretary, saying, quote, "We are thrilled and humbled to have the confidence of the people of Washington." She went on to say that the returns show that the campaign is uniting Americans from different parts of the country.
There has been a sense of confidence within the Kerry campaign about a victory in Washington state. Aides also somewhat confident that John Kerry could win Michigan and possibly win Maine tomorrow. If he goes three for three this weekend, that would give him even more momentum going into Tuesday's contests in Virginia and in Tennessee. He is currently leading in the polls in both states.
Victory there would do two things. It would, A, show that John Kerry could win in the South, and it could also possibly lead to a narrowing of the presidential field.
Right now, John Kerry is inside the ballroom here, along with Al Sharpton, John Edwards, and Wesley Clark. Kerry set to speak a short time from now, and aides say he's going to do something, unveiling some new language, calling the Bush administration, quote, "extreme," saying he and the Democrats represent the mainstream of America.
This, aides say, is definitely to send a message to Republicans. They're going to paint John Kerry as a Massachusetts liberal, Wolf, they say John Kerry will fight back, Wolf.
BLITZER: Kelly Wallace in Richmond, Virginia, where soon John Kerry will be speaking.
Joe Johns is covering Howard Dean's campaign. He's in Burlington, Vermont, today. Joe, what's happening there? Why is Howard Dean in Vermont instead of Richmond?
JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Howard Dean is here in Vermont because he's very concerned and he wanted to see his son's hockey game which occurred today. He went to that game, in fact.
Now, the reaction, obviously, from this campaign at this point is that they wanted a second-place finish. They say that's what they got, a strong second-place finish. The pundits and the pollsters, they say, had all declared Howard Dean dead, and in that respect, they say, the second-place finish in Washington state is a very good thing.
However, there are still serious problems for his campaign. In fact, today, AFSCME, the big government employees union, did say it was going to withdraw its support. The campaign said, on the other hand, the service employees union, SEIU, remains on board.
Howard Dean leaves tomorrow to go to Maine for a day, and after that we're expecting him to return to Wisconsin, where he says he will camp out in that do-or-die effort to win the primary February 17.
Back to you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Thanks very much, Joe Johns in Vermont for us.
The main caucuses tomorrow, as our viewers probably know by now.
CNN's Candy Crowley is covering the story as well as she's taking a look specifically at the campaigns of John Edwards and Wesley Clark. Candy, what's on their agenda?
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What's on their agenda, Wolf, really is next Tuesday. This is one of those days where we have the largest cache of delegates. But likely no real change in the dynamics of the field.
Wesley Clark out campaigning today as is John Edwards, both of them in the South looking towards next Tuesday, which, of course, is when we see Tennessee and Virginia, both of them hoping to put yet another foothold into the South.
There was some movement, however, by Edwards up in, of all places, Wisconsin, because that is where many of them believe will be the final showdown between John Kerry and who will come out of Wisconsin against John Kerry.
So tonight, both the Clark and the Edwards campaign never expected to do all that well in either Michigan or Washington, putting most of their efforts in the South for next Tuesday, wanting to survive till that February 17 race in Wisconsin, which, as you know, Howard Dean has said is his do-or-die state, where he must win or get out.
There are others who also believe that will be a very important state, largely because it does have a huge cache of delegates, but also because it's a standalone primary, only Wisconsin holds a primary that night. So there'll be almost a full week of campaigning by whoever is left standing after next Tuesday.
But as Kelly mentioned, we do expect that perhaps after next Tuesday we might see some shifting of the field in one or the other of the Southerners getting out, Wolf.
BLITZER: Candy Crowley, thanks very much. Thanks to Joe Johns and Kelly Wallace. We'll be getting back to all of our correspondents.
Also joining us tonight, my colleagues, "INSIDE POLITICS"' Judy Woodruff, our senior analyst, Jeff Greenfield. Judy is here in Washington.
Judy, this is shaping up as a huge night, another, not a great surprise, but a big night for John Kerry.
JUDY WOODRUFF, HOST, "INSIDE POLITICS": It certainly is, Wolf. I think the odds are pretty strong now that we are looking at the nominee of the Democratic Party. Having won nine out of 11 contests this year, it's almost unprecedented, it is unprecedented, that someone would do that well and not go on to win the nomination, even with the tendency of Democrats to challenge their front runner down the home stretch.
We've seen the Democrats do that in recent presidential years. It hasn't worked. This year, it looks like John Kerry may be able to avoid that, but we'll see.
Having said all this, Wolf, it's still important for John Kerry to win one or both of the contests coming up on Tuesday night in Virginia and Tennessee. He needs to begin to put away the argument that a Massachusetts liberal cannot win in the South.
BLITZER: Which is the Republicans have already started making that argument that the -- he's nothing more than the liberal senator from Massachusetts. They're already suggesting Ted Kennedy is the conservative senator from Massachusetts.
WOODRUFF: Exactly. Although if you look at their American -- their ADA ratings, so to speak, Kennedy's a little, is a little more liberal. But John Kerry clearly has a liberal record in the Senate, and he's going to be called on time and again to defend that record. BLITZER: Jeff Greenfield is in New York. Jeff, you take a look at this defection from this labor union tonight, AFSCME, withdrawing their support for Howard Dean. How significant of a blow is that?
JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SENIOR ANALYST: Well, as my former employer, Robert Kennedy, used to say when he was really unhappy, it's not helpful. Here you have Howard Dean, who's saying, I'm aiming at Wisconsin, I've abandoned every other primary, I'm skipping, I'm going to lose the first, by that time, 15 places, but the one place I'm going is the progressive, reformist heartland of Wisconsin.
And the A -- the AFSCME, the big government employees union, which is relatively liberal even for labor unions, you would think would say, That's right, go in there and fight those special interests. And instead they say, You know what? It's not going to happen for you.
That is a very, very hurtful thing.
And the other thing that's hurting all of the un-Kerrys is that the field is bunched. John Edwards in particular has been saying that, you know, his campaign, I want to get one on one with this guy, but he and Clark are going to battle Kerry, two Southerners, two people claiming to represent the South next Tuesday.
And it's not entirely clear that Dean is going to have Kerry to himself to try to battle in Wisconsin. John Edwards is looking there.
So it's almost a perfect storm, in that movie sense, where people trying to stop John Kerry, even if they had the wherewithal, even if they had some argument, are going to find that the field too crowded for them unless something happens Tuesday.
It's, it's -- I'm agreeing with Judy, as one who never likes to look ahead too far, boy, it's very hard to see how there's another scenario other than John Kerry emerging from this.
BLITZER: All right, Jeff Greenfield, we'll be getting back to you.
Monitoring the story behind the numbers tonight, as always, our senior political analyst Bill Schneider. The numbers pretty impressive so far, obviously, for John Kerry.
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: And here's something else that's impressive. In Michigan, Democrats could vote early, any time over the past month, either by mail or over the Internet. Some 100,000 voters applied for early ballots. Internet voting, now, that sounds good for Howard Dean, right?
BLITZER: All right, hold on, one second, Bill, I'm going to interrupt you for a moment. We want to go to Lansing, Michigan. The chairman of the Democratic Party in Michigan about to announce the official results.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... thousands of party workers throughout the state who answered the phones at our Kennedy House, counted the ballots here today, who staffed all these caucus sites around the state. This would not have been possible without all of them. And as the lieutenant governor indicated, they are energized and mobilized and ready to go. And that was demonstrated by their outstanding volunteer effort here today.
As the lieutenant governor indicated, we had the second-largest turnout ever in a Michigan Democratic Party presidential caucus, which is an indication of the energy out there.
Let me give you some statistics so you can understand the scope of what happened today.
One hundred and twenty-three thousand, three hundred and twenty- eight people applied to vote by mail or over the Internet as part of that program. One hundred and ten thousand, six hundred and ninety- three of those people qualified, which was a 90 percent approval rating. Twenty-five thousand, four hundred and twenty-three ballots were cast by mail, and a little bit more than 46,000 ballots were cast over the Internet.
Those ballots were cast with integrity and security, and there is no doubt about the accuracy of those results.
And I would indicate that simply adding those two numbers together, the vote-by-mail ballots and the Internet ballots, alone would be the third-largest caucus we have ever held, without even adding in the caucus results.
At this point in the evening, we do not have complete results, but I can tell you that a little bit more than 100,000 other great Michigan Democrats participated at caucus sites today.
And I have results to share with you, let me tell you how complete they are. They're quite complete, given the difficulty of counting and getting results from all over the state. These results reflect 100 percent of the Internet votes, 100 percent of the vote-by- mail votes, and 12 of the 15 congressional districts, 12 of the 15 congressional districts. We're only missing congressional districts 2, 4, and 14 at this point, and those results are coming in to my office even as we speak, so we hope to have complete results later tonight.
With those results and that overview, I can tell you that as of now, 147,468 people voted, using all means of voting, Internet, mail, caucus sites, today. The winner of the Michigan Democratic Party 2004 caucus is Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts. He has so far received 73,704 votes statewide, which is just slightly under 50 percent of the vote, 49.98 percent, so he is slightly under 50 percent.
In second place so far, with 25,667 votes, is Governor Dean, which is approximately 17.4 percent of the statewide vote. And third place, with 20,157 votes is Senator John Edwards, that is 13.7 percent of the vote so far on a statewide basis.
And let me (UNINTELLIGIBLE) just continue running through the balance. Senator Clark -- excuse me, General Clark received 10,280 votes so far, which is almost 7 percent of the vote. Reverend Al Sharpton has so far received 7,682 votes, which is 5.2 percent of the statewide vote. And there were some votes for Carol Moseley Braun. Mr. Kucinich is at 5.1 percent of the vote, 7,554 votes.
I think I've covered the bulk of the candidates. We'll have complete paper here shortly, which will give all of you not only the statewide numbers and percentages but numbers and percentages for each congressional district for which we have complete or partial results so far.
So with that, let me end this portion of the program, and we will have those detailed district-by-district numbers for you shortly.
John, shall we take some questions?
BLITZER: All right, that's Mark Brewer (ph), he's the executive chairman of the Democratic Party in Michigan, giving us the official results so far, nearly complete. There'll be an update. That's coming up. We'll complete the numbers. But John Kerry with about 50 percent of the vote, Howard Dean with some 17 percent of the vote, 13 percent, almost 14 percent for John Edwards, Wesley Clark with about 7 percent.
But clearly the winner, John Kerry, of the Michigan caucuses, two for two today, Judy Woodruff, for John Kerry, 50 percent. The polls were pretty accurate once again, the Michigan polls going in, they showed that he would win decisively with more than about 50 percent of the votes.
WOODRUFF: That's right, Wolf. And yet this, if you just, if you turn the clock back a few weeks, this was a state that one would have thought that a Howard Dean would do much better in. This is a very emblematic, I think, of the front runner, the, you know, John Kerry was winning, he won Iowa, he won New Hampshire, he won five out of seven last week.
People like a winner. And Democrats this year, Wolf, we've seen it time and again in our -- in the exit polls that we've been paying attention to, Democrats want to beat George W. Bush. And increasingly, in all these exit polls, and we -- there were none done today because of the nature of these caucuses in Washington state and Michigan, but time and again, in state after state, voters, Democratic voters are saying, We think John Kerry is the Democrat best equipped to do that.
BLITZER: Certainly electability, Jeff Greenfield, a key factor throughout these 11 contests that we've seen so far, nine of them going for John Kerry. What do you make of these two big wins today?
GREENFIELD: What's really striking is that caucuses, Democratic caucuses, tend to tilt left, just the way Republican caucuses tilt right, because they get the more activists. Jesse Jackson at one point won in Michigan. Washington state caucuses have been very friendly to the leftmost candidates, the most insurgent in the party. And so when you get caucus states, and we may see the same thing in Maine tomorrow, another state where you would think a guy like Howard Dean should do very well, and where he apparently is not planning to do that well, when you see caucus Democrats coming in and not voting for their true believer ideologies, but say, Let's get a more, a more, I hate this cliche, but here it is, electable guy, that really tells you something about where the party is.
We are not seeing the traditional Democratic Party let's-form-a- firing-squad-and-make-a-circle and go to war with each other. There's something different going on here, and Michigan and Washington in some ways are the most telling pieces of evidence yet that what Judy and you were talking about is happening, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Jeff, stand by.
Bill Schneider, we interrupted you before. You were giving us an overview of the numbers, what we're seeing right now.
SCHNEIDER: That's right. And I mentioned that this is the only primary or caucus that allows Internet voting, which should have been good for Howard Dean. Well, our friends at CBS News interviewed a sample of Michigan Democrats who requested early ballots. And here is how those voters voted, 40 percent for John Kerry, and only 24 percent for Howard Dean. All the others in single digits.
Even among early voters who cast their ballots over the Internet, Kerry still led Dean. What happened to Howard Dean's Internet army? Answer, the same thing that happened to unwired Democrats. Take a look at this. Early voters who cast their ballots before the Iowa caucuses favored Dean. After the Iowa caucuses, they shifted to Kerry.
Kerry's momentum built to a majority among Democrats who cast their votes within the last week. So you can see the story of the whole last month of this campaign right here among the early Michigan voters. Kerry's momentum surging, Dean's momentum collapsing.
BLITZER: Two states that supposedly only weeks ago looked very, very good for Howard Dean, Michigan and Washington state, not doing all that well for him tonight. John Kerry clearly the big winner. Thanks, Bill Schneider.
We're going to take a quick break. Up next, John Edwards and Wesley Clark are hoping to prove themselves when the race moves back to the South again on Tuesday. We'll look ahead to the stakes in Tennessee and Virginia. Stay with us.
BLITZER: A live picture of beautiful Seattle, Washington, Washington state, an important state tonight in this contest for the Democratic presidential nomination shaping up once again to be another good night, excellent night, for the Democratic presidential front runner, John Kerry, with the results coming in from these two key caucuses. First, Michigan, John Kerry will win the Michigan causes. We just heard from the party chairman there. It's official, John Kerry will carry the Michigan caucuses.
Take a look at the latest numbers. With 88 percent the official numbers reporting, Kerry the winner with 50 percent, Howard Dean coming in second with 17 percent, John Edwards with 14 percent, Wes Clark at 7 percent, Al Sharpton and Dennis Kucinich at 5 percent.
A similar scene out in Washington state. John Kerry will win the Washington caucuses as well, a big night for John Kerry, the senator from Massachusetts. With 76 percent of the vote in, look at the delegate distribution right now, 49 percent going for John Kerry, Howard Dean coming in second with 31 percent, Dennis Kucinich at 8 percent, John Edwards and Wesley Clark and Al Sharpton clearly significantly behind, a big night, though, for John Kerry.
Judy Woodruff, I don't know where they go from here, but they're looking ahead, by all accounts.
WOODRUFF: They are. And Wolf, you know, even though these results are coming out on a Saturday night, they do add to the air of inevitability that is growing around John Kerry's candidacy.
But let's talk about the pace of the Democratic caucuses and primaries. It is not about to let up. For the already weary candidates, it becomes even more hectic during the next few weeks.
KERRY: I want you to carry the weight of history with you. I want you to carry the full measure of what is at stake in this race.
WOODRUFF (voice-over): Starting Sunday, a new stage in the battle to topple a growing Goliath. Maine's caucuses bring the contest back to New England, pitting John Kerry and Howard Dean against each other in another regional rivalry.
Advantage Kerry for sure. But the former Vermont governor could well score points with the state's rugged individualists.
February 10, the story of the South continues with big votes in Virginia and Tennessee.
EDWARDS: Join me in this cause, this campaign, this movement to change America. We have so much work to do in this country.
WOODRUFF: John Edwards locked in a dogfight with Wesley Clark.
CLARK: People are excited and energized, and they want to see me in this race.
WOODRUFF: For both men, poor showings in either Southern primary could spell doom. But there's Dixie pressure on the front runner too. Bostin Brahmin Kerry needs to muster solid finishes to prove that he can hold his own below the Mason-Dixon line in November. On February 14, a Vegas Valentine as Nevada decides and the District of Columbia caucuses as well.
DEAN: On Tuesday, February 17, the power to change this country is in your hands, not mine.
WOODRUFF: Wisconsin, a do-or-die for Dean. The doctor has staked his campaign on a victory there, throwing all his energy into the Badger State. Come February 18, it could be a whole new ball game.
WOODRUFF: It could be a whole new ball game, but at the same time, we know when you -- reality, political reality kicks in tonight, Wolf, two things really stand in the way of John Kerry. One is that he could have a major stumble. We know that there's going to be even harsher scrutiny on him. It's really only begun to come raining down on him from Republicans. Nothing like what he's been hearing from his fellow Democrats.
And second, the modern political tendency of Democrats to challenge the front runner as he moves down the home stretch, to say, Wait a minute, is this really the person we want to have doubts? If that were to happen, Kerry could be in trouble.
But, you know, that is going to fully depend on whether one of these other candidates can win a primary, which, you know, there's no sureness at all at this point...
BLITZER: And, and these other...
WOODRUFF: ... that they will.
BLITZER: ... candidates, Judy, they're all hoping that one of them is still alive politically so that they could be the alternative to John Kerry in case there something emerges, there's a stumble, he says something that could potentially derail this train that's moving all the way...
WOODRUFF: All sorts of scenarios...
BLITZER: ... very quickly.
WOODRUFF: ... you could say dancing in their heads, or however you want to describe it. They are hoping, if you're John Edwards or if you're Wes Clark or Howard Dean, you are pinning your hopes on Virginia, Tennessee, and Wisconsin, in that order.
BLITZER: Three big states coming up in the days to come.
Let's zero in on the march back to the South on Tuesday. A new poll out today from Tennessee shows John Kerry in the lead there, look at this, with 32 percent. That's 11 points ahead of John Edwards, who's running neck and neck with Wesley Clark. And KERRY also has a 13-point lead in a new poll in Virginia. Again, Edwards and Clark are in a tight race for second, with 22 percent and 17 percent.
Let's bring back Jeff Greenfield. Looking ahead to Tuesday, John KERRY, at least in these polls, ahead in the South. That could be extremely significant.
GREENFIELD: Yes, but look at the numbers again, and you will see that Edwards and Clark, the two Southerners, combined, in both those states, run well ahead of John KERRY. And that's the point I was trying to make earlier. If either of them were the sole Southerner in the race in Virginia and Tennessee, they would have, if those numbers are right, and that, you know, they would both be in a very good position to take both primaries.
But each of them is splitting the Southern vote with the other, leaving KERRY the winner.
If you're John KERRY, you have to be delighted that both Wes Clark and John Edwards are challenging you in, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) way, both those states are neighboring states of John Edwards, North Carolina.
But you're right, Wolf, KERRY is in the lead, but look what would happen if tomorrow Clark or Edwards were to say, All right, I'm out. I think the surviving Southerner would have a very good chance of winning them both. But I -- that's not going to happen, apparently, Wolf.
BLITZER: That, I think the chances of either, Wesley Clark or John Edwards dropping out of Virginia and Tennessee between now and Tuesday, I'm just guessing, the chances are about nil?
GREENFIELD: Less. Whatever less than zero is, to quote that book, to the right. But it shows you the frustration of both camps, saying, Boy, if we could only get Kerry one on one down here, we could probably beat him and maybe jump start our campaign.
But I think you're quite right that that's not likely to happen, and KERRY could move right up the middle between those two Southerners.
BLITZER: What happens on Tuesday, Carlos Watson, if John KERRY were to capture both of those states, strong seconds for these Southerners, but John KERRY wins?
CARLOS WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I predict again that he's going to pick up what I call the three Ms, money, media, and momentum. He's already raised north of $5 million since his first win in Iowa. He'll only raise more. And for those who had hoped to compete with him, you've got to look ahead to March 2 states, where there are a thousand delegates plus across 10 states, and say, I need serious money in order to compete.
Also again, all the media, as Judy said before, he'd be able to announce five, potentially as many as five new wins, and then there are actually a couple of caucuses coming up in D.C. and Nevada even before you get to Wisconsin.
So there's more good news.
One of the interesting things I think is happening, Wolf, as we go through this primary season for John Kerry, if he ultimately wins, in a way, he's got a great bio that' being defined in voters' mind. One, he's being defined as a winner, I think, week after week we hear about him winning.
And two, he's being defined as a war hero. In Virginia and Tennessee, you hear people tell you, Get in again, especially those swing voters that put a Democratic governor in the office in Virginia, you hear them say, I love that war record, the three Purple Hearts, the Silver Star, the Bronze Medal, very difficult, and hence you see the Bush White House coming out fighting beginning tomorrow.
BLITZER: Our senior political correspondent, Candy Crowley, has been out on the campaign trail for days and days and days watching all of these candidates. Candy, in a nutshell, what happened to Howard Dean?
CROWLEY: Well, in a nutshell, he didn't perform the way they thought he would. Look, the -- in addition to the very famous scream now, I think what got lost in that was, he came in third in Iowa. That was before the scream. The much-vaunted Internet ability to transform itself into a grassroots operation didn't happen, and it didn't happen in New Hampshire.
Now what you have, of course, is what everyone's been talking about is, you get that sort of inevitability winner. We have seen from the very beginning, since, you know, two years ago what Democrats are saying is, We want someone who can beat George Bush.
He didn't perform the way they thought he would. Look, in addition to the very famous scream now, I think what got lost in that was he came in third in Iowa. That was before the scream. The much vaunted Internet ability to transform itself into a grassroots operation didn't happen, and it didn't happen in New Hampshire.
Now what you have, of course, is what everyone has been talking about, is you get that sort of inevitability winner. We have seen from the very beginning, since, you know, two years ago what Democrats were saying is we want someone who can beat George Bush. So it now becomes, you know, its own self-fulfilling prophecy. John Kerry wins New Hampshire - Iowa, John Kerry wins New Hampshire, he comes out of there. Howard Dean is still stumbling, and without that grassroots organization popping up, the winner begins to look like John Kerry. The more he wins, the more he looks like he could beat George Bush. The more Howard Dean loses, the more it looks like he would lose against George Bush.
So basically, I think it came down to being unable to get out the votes that they thought they were going to be able to get out with two major unions behind him and this huge grassroots organization, which raised more money than any other candidate. I know going into this year, we said that always the person with the most money on January 1 will be the Democratic candidate. Doesn't look like it's going to happen.
So it just defied - we looked at this Internet campaign, it was new to us, it was new to everyone. We talked a lot about whether that could translate into the grassroots, and the fact of the matter is, it just didn't. I remember well sitting in Iowa, and you talked to people in the crowd, say, oh, you know, where are you from? California. Where are you from? Texas. Ohio. You had to go some to find someone from Iowa. So he could bring in people to knock on doors. That's not enough. You've got to get these people to come out of the doors and go vote for your guy, and it didn't happen.
BLITZER: CNN's Candy Crowley reporting. As well, $40 million, Howard Dean has spent $40 million so far. So far 0 for 11 in these contests.
With Howard Dean's campaign on the ropes, he may be staking his political future on one state. Up next, Dean's Wisconsin-or-bust strategy. And how today's loss of a key labor endorsement may figure in. Stay with us.
BLITZER: You are looking at live pictures of the Motor City, Detroit. Detroit, Michigan. Michigan, the caucuses are now history, another win for John Kerry. Welcome back to our continuing coverage.
Let's take a look at what has happened on this Saturday. John Kerry, two more wins for him, including the Michigan caucuses. John Kerry doing rather well, winning Michigan. The junior senator from Michigan (sic) now 9 for 11 in the states where there have been contests. John Kerry - look at this, 50 percent of the vote in Michigan, with 88 percent of the official tally now in, 50 percent for John Kerry, 17 percent for Howard Dean, 14 percent for John Edwards, 7 percent for Wesley Clark, 5 percent for Al Sharpton and Dennis Kucinich.
A similar outcome out on the West Coast, in Washington state. John Kerry carries the caucuses in Washington state. With 80 percent of the delegate count now in, 49 percent going to John Kerry; 30 percent to Howard Dean, who comes in second. Dennis Kucinich at 8. John Edwards at 7. Wesley Clark, only 3 percent. Al Sharpton not doing well in the Washington caucuses.
This week, Howard Dean decided to make the February 17 Wisconsin primary a must-win, but he's facing long odds and look at this, they're getting longer. A just released American Research Group poll shows Senator John Kerry running far ahead of the pack in Wisconsin. Kerry has 41 percent, Wesley Clark is at 15 percent, John Edwards at 10 percent. Howard Dean is in fourth place, with only 9 percent of the vote in this poll. On top of that, Dean today lost the backing of a major labor union. Joe Johns is joining us now from Vermont. He's covering Howard Dean's campaign. A lot of bad news today, Joe, for Howard Dean. JOHNS: Wolf, the campaign, this evening, at least, trying to focus on what it sees as a little bit of good news, that is that second place in Washington state. The campaign saying it expected a second place finish in Washington state, and that's what it got. It says that it's good news, because the pundits and the pollsters all, they say, had declared Howard Dean dead.
Meanwhile, there are new concerns for this campaign, however. AFSCME, the big government workers union, representing 1.4 million people saying it is withdrawing support from Howard Dean. The campaign says SEIU, the big Service Employees Union, remains on board.
JOHNS (voice-over): Howard Dean came back to Vermont this weekend to see his son play hockey. But his main focus on the campaign trail now is the February 17 primary in Wisconsin, which a campaign e-mail said Dean must win or he could be out of the race. The e-mail asked for $700,000 for advertising, but Dean said it brought in much more.
HOWARD DEAN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And we're going to be able to win Wisconsin.
JOHNS: The hope is that Wisconsin, with its history of progressive politics, can somehow jump-start this bid for the White House, but a handful of hastily arranged events there did little to lift the gloom of a campaign that has so far failed to win a single binding primary.
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JOHNS: The make-or-break appeal also added more uncertainty about Dean's future as a candidate. He took questions, first on a radio show Friday, then on Saturday on network TV on whether he'd run for vice president on a ticket with John Kerry, for example.
DEAN: If John Kerry is the nominee, I am going to support him. Second of all, if John Kerry were the nominee, I would advise him not to pick me, because you don't need two people from New England on the ticket. I will do whatever I can, however, to help beat George Bush.
JOHNS: Another sign of trouble, Dean's decision to dial back his efforts in other states in order to camp out in Wisconsin.
DEAN: Our decision to fight here and to win here was made because we believe that the people are voting for Senator Kerry without knowing anything about him. This is going to be a fully contested, fully thought out primary, the first one since Iowa and New Hampshire.
JOHNS: Dean flies off for a brief visit to Maine tomorrow, and then it is back to Wisconsin, where he says he will camp out in an all-out effort to try to win the primary in that state - Wolf. BLITZER: Joe Johns in Vermont for us. Joe, thanks very much.
Judy, this decision by AFSCME, this union now no longer to support Howard Dean, how much of a blow, how significant is that, in the world of politics?
WOODRUFF: Well, for two reasons it's significant, Wolf. One is the mighty arm, muscle of AFSCME, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. These are government workers. This is a big union, across the nation, bigger in some states than in others, but they came out relatively early for Howard Dean, they were very enthusiastic. Their president, Gerald McEntee, very enthusiastic. So it's important not only for the muscle that he loses, but even more at this point the idea that this big union that was behind him is now bailing out.
Now, as the Dean campaign is saying, they still have the Service Employees International union. This is, in fact, a larger union than AFSCME, and Andy Stern, who is the head of SEIU is hanging in there with Howard Dean, but you know, I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall in that meeting today up in Burlington, Vermont, with Dean, Stern and McEntee, with McEntee saying, hey, I am bailing out.
BLITZER: There is no doubt, though, going into Michigan, Dick Gephardt's endorsement of John Kerry was very significant.
WOODRUFF: No question. And Wolf, again, one thing we should say about Michigan, you know, we're lauding Kerry's performance there. He deserves even extra credit for Michigan, because his position on a number of issues that are really important to the auto industry, which is the heart and soul of much of labor, of Michigan labor, are number one, he was for NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement, which the auto industry has hated, because they feel that it's costing them jobs, and the second thing is that John Kerry was for raising fuel efficiency standards, which the auto industry, both the unions and management, argue will cost them thousands of jobs.
Despite those two positions, labor is now taking a look at him, I am told, and people who are sympathetic to labor are willing to overlook that and go with John Kerry today.
BLITZER: Jeff Greenfield, Washington state, though, by all accounts, only a few weeks ago seemed almost perfect for Howard Dean. The latte-drinking, coffee-drinking people in Washington state, this image that a lot of people have of so many liberals in the Democratic Party out there. What happened?
GREENFIELD: Well, I think what happened was, as I mentioned earlier, was that the Democrats who in past years were most likely to vote their basic political ideology and the heck with pragmatism, just took a different route. The other thing I think we have to say when we talk about what happened to Howard Dean, you can't overlook the other side of it, that both John Kerry and John Edwards in the two weeks leading up to the Iowa caucuses became much better candidates with much better campaigns. John Edwards developed a very powerful stump speech, the two Americas. John Kerry's advertising, featuring the Vietnam veteran whose life he saved and a woman who didn't like Howard Dean's tax rollback proposals, because she needed that money. That was some of the best political advertising I've seen in years and years.
And so when we talk about what happened, we shouldn't just lay it all on the scream of Howard Dean's strategic failures. He suddenly faced, as people began to really pay more attention to the campaign, better candidates, and I think that even applies as we've seen tonight in caucus states, where, look, you know, Dennis Kucinich is getting, what, 8 percent of the vote in Washington? That's about 8 percent more than he normally gets. That tells you something about the impulse of caucus goers in that state, and yet they're going by huge margins to John Kerry.
If I can one more quick point. Judy's point about John Kerry's positions on NAFTA, on particularly fuel efficiency, that is a warning sign for the fall, should he be the nominee. Believe me, the Bush campaign knows full well that John Kerry takes positions that auto workers and auto industry people don't like - Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Carlos Watson, what did you make of Howard Dean's leaving open the door to being a vice presidential running mate on the Democratic ticket? I thought that was fascinating.
WATSON: Well, I think there is a broader conversation that he's having with his campaign and other leaders, including McEntee, which is that he's committing to being supportive of the Democratic effort. He is saying, I realize that I'm 0 for 11 now, this is not just about me, I'm moving forward, I need to be helpful. Howard Dean does not think he's going to be selected to be the vice presidential nominee. In fact, he said in that conversation that if John Kerry were to ask me, I would recommend that he look elsewhere, not have two New Englanders.
But what I think is interesting in terms of the vice presidential conversation, is that it's really beginning in earnest. A lot of people when they saw Dick Gephardt come into Michigan said, ah, there is a man who'd love to be on the ticket and say, I can bring the 11 electoral votes of Missouri with me.
John Edwards, a lot of people were saying part of the reason he's holding his fire in Tennessee and Virginia and not being a negative campaigner is because he ultimately would like to be on the ticket, and a new name you're hearing, a name out of Indiana, Senator Evan Bayh is another name that we're starting to hear a lot more about.
BLITZER: Former governor of Indiana, the current senator from Indiana, very popular man in Indiana. Thanks, Carlos, we'll get back to you.
For many Democrats, it's all about electability. Who can beat George W. Bush? Up next, we'll unveil new national poll numbers just out on the Democratic horse race and how the frontrunner matches up against George W. Bush. We have new numbers. We'll bring them to you.
Up first, though, a look at the states won so far during this campaign season. As you can see, John Kerry has won nine of the 11 states contested so far. They're seen in orange. You see those there. Stay with us. We're back in a moment.
BLITZER: John Kerry the big winner tonight in Michigan and Washington state. He's getting ready to speak before a group in Richmond, Virginia. Virginia holding a primary on Tuesday. CNN's Kelly Wallace is standing by with more on that - Kelly.
WALLACE: Well, Wolf, they are a little bit behind schedule here. They have just taken a break at this dinner, and we're starting to see John Kerry, Al Sharpton, John Edwards and Wesley Clark, a short time from now. In just talking to Kerry campaign, aides saying that the campaign is both excited about what the campaign is calling another win in a very industrial state, the campaign saying that this shows the depth and breadth of this candidacy, with the senator's win in Michigan, and also his win earlier in Washington state.
Aides are saying that this shows that the campaign has, quote, "broad appeal," and that the senator is winning in different parts of the country and is able to unite Democrats and unite the party.
The senator, we are told, in his speech tonight, will comment about the victories in Michigan and Washington state, thank the people there. He is also going to do something else, really sharpen the rhetoric when it comes to his attacks on the Bush administration, calling President Bush and his policies, quote, "extreme," and saying he and the Democrats represent the mainstream. The senator and his aides definitely indicating they are trying to send a message to Republicans. If Republicans are going to paint John Kerry as a Massachusetts liberal, well, then, the Democrats are going to respond aggressively.
The senator, of course, winning today, looking ahead to victories. According to aides, they are hoping victories tomorrow in Maine. They believe this will give their campaign enormous momentum going into Tuesday in Tennessee and Virginia, where the senator is currently leading. But again, they are also saying, Wolf, that the senator is taking one state at a time, trying for each contest on a case by case basis - Wolf.
BLITZER: Kelly Wallace in Richmond. Kelly, thanks. John Kerry says he's the Democrat who can beat President Bush in the fall. A CNN-"Time" magazine just released right now shows Bush and Kerry running neck and neck among likely voters nationwide, with the president holding a 2-point advantage. The polls that were taken just after Kerry's wins in Iowa and New Hampshire showed him slightly ahead of the president.
Let's bring back our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider. It looks like this country is still very evenly divided. SCHNEIDER: Neck and neck. But does any Democrat do better than John Kerry in this poll? No. John Edwards runs 6 points behind President Bush, and Wesley Clark runs 14 points behind.
BLITZER: Significant - good news for John Kerry in this new CNN- "Time" magazine poll. Our new poll certainly drives home Kerry's status as the Democratic frontrunner. Kerry now is the choice of 43 percent of registered Democrats around the country. John Edwards is a distant second, with 18 percent. Wesley Clark has 11 percent. Howard Dean, only 8 percent. That's a stark contest to the numbers back in early January, before any votes were cast, when Kerry had just 10 percent support, and Howard Dean was then the frontrunner with 22 percent. The number is not good for Howard Dean.
SCHNEIDER: No, this is the first time since last May that Howard Dean has been in single digits. Those numbers look like a dot-com bust on the stock market.
BLITZER: What else do you like in this new CNN-"Time" magazine poll?
SCHNEIDER: Well, do Democrats think it's time for anybody to drop out of this race? Yes, give Howard the hook is what they say in our poll. But, most Democrats want Wesley Clark and John Edwards to stick around.
Now, Republicans are going to try to label John Kerry as extreme liberal, and as we heard from Kerry, is going to try to preempt the issue. He is calling the Bush White House "too extreme." Who's more believable? Right now, nearly half the voters say President Bush is too extreme. Only 29 percent say Kerry is too extreme. Advantage: Kerry.
Kerry claims that President Bush is too tied to special interests. Kerry's critics say that because of all the money he's accepted over the years from lobbyists, he is the special interests' candidate. Who is more believable? Most voters say Bush is too tied to special interests. Fewer than a third say Kerry is. Advantage: Kerry.
Now, President Bush intends to run on national security. Who do voters think will do a better job handling the war on terrorism? Sixty-four percent have confidence in President Bush for the war on terrorism; just 46 percent trust Senator Kerry. Advantage: Bush.
You know what? It looks like a close race.
BLITZER: And still a long time to go between now and November, but Judy Woodruff, despite the number of months still to go, when Democrats see that Kerry does as well in this hypothetical poll right now against President Bush, that has to encourage them to go out and raise money for him and support him.
WOODRUFF: And you know, Wolf, it has also had the effect of helping him in these contests over the last few weeks. I've spoken with Democrats in the last couple of weeks who've said the very fact that CNN and other news organizations, both print and television, are putting these numbers on the air, it's helping John Kerry, because Democrats are out there and they are thinking, hmm, which one of these Democrats is going to do best against George W. Bush, and when we're showing these numbers where he's either beating President Bush, or as Bill just showed in this poll, just right behind him, it gives Democrats hope. They believe these poll numbers.
Now, we all know that every poll is a snapshot. We've got months and months to go before the convention, months to go before the election, but Democrats are thinking in a more calculated way, I think, than I've ever seen in my career, thinking in a calculated way about how do we beat President Bush.
BLITZER: Jeff Greenfield, statistically a dead heat between President Bush and John Kerry right now. What does that say to you?
GREENFIELD: Well, it says to me, to use a famous line, if the election were held today, 95 percent of the people would be very surprised. Let me remind you of one Dukakis equivalent or potential equivalent, I should say. Back in 1988, Michael Dukakis was positioning himself as the non-ideological centrist, the creator of the Massachusetts miracle. In his acceptance speech, he said, this election was not about ideology, it was about competence. And I remember being in Atlanta in 1988 with Democrats thinking, we finally got a winner after Ronald Reagan, he can't run again, this guy has united the party. And by the time the Republicans were finished with Michael Dukakis, he was a criminal-furloughing, flag-ignoring, Massachusetts liberal, card-carrying ACLU member.
Clearly, the Kerry campaign knows this is coming. But the fact that you know something is coming doesn't necessarily mean you're going to be successful in butting it. And I do think that that while right now Democrats feel very good about their chances, they look at these numbers - when you remember what can happen in a campaign, especially when the incumbent president has about $150 or $200 million to play with before he's even formally nominated, we have to be very cautious about reading much into these numbers, Wolf.
BLITZER: Judy, button this up for us.
WOODRUFF: Quick postscript, Jeff is absolutely right. But when you talk to the Kerry people, say - they say, we know this is coming and we are going to fight back, unlike Michael Dukakis.
BLITZER: All right, at least they didn't accuse Michael Dukakis of being a latte-drinking liberal in those days, in the '80s. We'll take a quick break. When we come back, we'll update all of you, the latest numbers, the official numbers from Washington state and Michigan. We'll be right back.
BLITZER: Let's update you now on the official votes, the tallies that are coming in. John Kerry, big night for him. He wins Michigan, the caucuses in Michigan. That's the biggest prize so far in this contest, the most delegates. With 88 percent of the vote, he's at 50 percent. Howard Dean is at 17 percent. John Edwards is at 14 percent. Everybody else in single digits.
Similar situation in Washington state, an important state. John Kerry the winner there as well. Take a look at the official numbers coming in. Eighty percent reporting, 49 percent for John Kerry, 30 percent for Howard Dean, everybody else in single digits.
A big night for John Kerry. He's now 9 in 11.
That's it for our special coverage of "America Votes 2004: The Washington State and Michigan Caucuses." I am Wolf Blitzer in Washington, D.C. For continuing coverage of today's contests, tune into CNN, America's election headquarters. The latest results coming up, 10:00 p.m. Eastern, one hour from now.
Plus, tune in tomorrow, "INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY," for a recap of today's contest and a look at Maine's caucuses tomorrow. That's at 10:00 a.m. Eastern.
I'll be back tomorrow for "LATE EDITION," the last word in Sunday talk. Among my guests, both Howard Dean and Wesley Clark. That's tomorrow, noon Eastern.
That's it for us tonight. Have a good night. "LARRY KING LIVE" is up next. His guest, Janet Jackson.
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