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PAULA ZAHN NOW
Special Edition: America Votes 2004
Aired February 10, 2004 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening and welcome. Thanks so much for joining us tonight.
John Kerry's Northern success has followed him across the Mason- Dixon Line. He is projected to win his first Southern primary by a wide margin, finishing in Virginia tonight well ahead of Southerners John Edwards and Wesley Clark. Last week, Edwards won South Carolina by 15 percentage point.
But Kerry may prove a Democrat from Massachusetts can win the votes of Southern Democrats. And a win in Tennessee tonight could put an exclamation point on all of that. Now it's just about 8:00, a little shade less. Polls are just closing in Tennessee.
The likely results now from the CNN election desk and Wolf Blitzer.
Good evening, Wolf.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, Paula. Thanks very much.
John Kerry already the big winner in Virginia, as you point out. Polls about to close in Tennessee, with only the next few seconds. Everyone anxiously awaiting to see how John Kerry does in this second Southern state. If he goes ahead and wins the second Southern state, that would be 12 of 14 so far in these Democratic contests.
And now, with the polls officially closed in Tennessee, CNN ready to project John Kerry once again the winner in Tennessee, the second Southern state he will carry tonight. No word yet who will come in second, whether that will be John Edwards or Wesley Clark. We're still waiting for more information on that, but John Kerry the winner in Tennessee, just as he won in Virginia an hour or so ago.
We have correspondents covering all of these candidates. Kelly Wallace is covering John Kerry's campaign. She's in Fairfax, Virginia. That's just outside Washington, D.C., in Northern Virginia -- Kelly.
KELLY WALLACE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, this crowd of several hundred erupting into applause as CNN called Tennessee for John Kerry.
Aides say that they are thrilled with the results tonight in Virginia and in Tennessee and that they are heartened by the support of voters in both states. They say that this shows that Democrats are united in their desire to defeat President Bush, and aides also say this shows that it doesn't matter where you come from. It matters what you will fight for.
The significance here, aides say, John Kerry, the senator from Massachusetts, defeating his two Southern opponents in Virginia, in Tennessee. They say, just a month ago, he was in single digits in the polls. What they say now, this shows John Kerry can win all across the country, across all demographic groups. They say he is not a regional candidate, not a niche candidate.
We are expecting to hear from the winner himself, John Kerry, moments from now. He's going to be joined by Governor Mark Warner, the governor of Virginia, who endorsed Kerry on Sunday, and many believe gave him quite a boost in this state. And, as for where this candidate goes from here, aides continue to say they're going to take it race by race. They're taking nothing for granted. He'll head to Wisconsin on Friday.
But one Democratic source saying, Wolf, that the Kerry campaign is pretty much difficult to catch right now -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, thanks, Kelly.
All of our correspondents are standing by, including our own Candy Crowley. She's covering Senator John Edwards' campaign, already in Wisconsin, where they're getting ready for the primary next Tuesday -- Candy.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Senator Edwards did touch down here at the airport about 10 minutes ago, Wolf. He is on his way here. We're at the American Serb Memorial Hall, where he will hold his election night party.
What Edwards has said all along is that he wanted to place in the top two. It looks as though he may indeed do that. The question is whether now there will be some sort of pressure on Edwards, on Dean, on others to go ahead and get out of the race, that the momentum is too strong for Kerry. But I can tell you that, over the past couple of days, I've talked to a number of Democratic Party leaders and rank- and-file who say this race has been great for us, because it has brought Democrats to the polls in droves.
It has driven down George Bush's poll numbers, because they get so many -- so much coverage of the Democratic race. I do not get the feeling, from many of them, that they would mind if this race went on a couple weeks longer -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Candy, we'll get back to you.
CNN's Dan Lothian is covering Wesley Clark's campaign. They're already in Memphis, Tennessee.
Wesley Clark hoping to come in second in Tennessee. We don't know how he's going to do, Dan. He did not do well in Virginia.
DAN LOTHIAN, CNN BOSTON BUREAU CHIEF: That's right, and it could shape up to be a very difficult night for Wesley Clark.
He just arrived here at the Marriott. This is where he will be watching the returns and also speaking to his supporters later tonight. Of course, the big question is what he will be saying to them, some of his aides telling CNN that they're currently sitting down, going over the plan, deciding whether they can move forward.
Obviously, one of the big issues is if they have the money to move forward. Now, earlier tonight, General Clark was still out on the streets near Memphis here, reaching out to those undecided voters at a polling place, shaking hands. That's how it's been much of the day. He did a couple of radio interviews, also was handing out doughnuts at an intersection, trying to reverse those polls.
He said he wasn't paying attention to those polls and he was hoping that the voters would come out and support him, but no doubt, at this moment, sitting down to decide if they indeed can move forward with this campaign -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Dan, we'll get back to you as well.
Joe Johns is covering Howard Dean's campaign. He didn't really campaign in either Tennessee or Virginia, the results clearly showing that. He's putting a lot of his eggs, if not all of his eggs, in Wisconsin, Joe.
JOE JOHNS, CNN CAPITOL HILL CORRESPONDENT: That's for sure, Wolf.
He spent the day camped out here in Wisconsin, visiting a couple middle schools, talking to students, talking also to adults, trying to talk up his campaign here in the state. He ended up here in Milwaukee at the Irish Community Center, a very well attended event, I might say.
Dean, of course, his campaign has raised, it says, more than $1 million in the last week, money it was going to use for advertising. At first, of course, in an e-mail, he said that he might get out of the race in the event he lost Wisconsin. Of course, in fairly dramatic fashion, he reversed that just yesterday and said he will stay in the race for president, a lot of people talking about that now, Wolf -- back to you.
BLITZER: All right, Joe, we'll get back to you as well.
Let's update our viewers who are just tuning in. We can now project two more victories for John Kerry, the senator from Massachusetts. He will go ahead and win Tennessee, the polls closing there only about five minutes or so ago. John Kerry will win Tennessee. Earlier tonight, an hour or so ago, we projected that he also will win Virginia, two Southern states. Virginia and Tennessee, going for John Kerry. That makes it 12 out of 14 Democratic primaries and caucuses so far.
Let's take a look at the raw numbers coming in from Virginia, now more than half of the vote already in, 57 percent, 50 percent going to John Kerry, the winner, 28 percent for the senator from South Carolina, John Edwards, Wesley Clark at only 10 percent, Howard Dean at 6 percent, Al Sharpton at 4 percent.
Judy, another big win for John Kerry. Nothing like success.
JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Nothing like success, Wolf.
And that's exactly what has happened. He's now 12 for 14. He has won 12 out of the 14 contests. And just by virtue of racking up another win, he looks like a winner. And the people he is beating, the men in this contest, are not also-rans, so to speak. They're not insignificant figures in the party. These are men of stature. And John Kerry is going toe to toe with them, and he's cleaning their clocks, so to speak.
He didn't even spend as much money, by a long shot, as Wes Clark did in Virginia and Tennessee. Still, he is winning. I think we could be facing, Wolf, the longest general election campaign in a long time.
BLITZER: All right, Judy, stand by.
Jeff, a lot of people are looking closely right now at General Wesley Clark to see, does he stay in? Does he drop out? Your thought.
JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SR. ANALYST: Well, when you think about the movement to Wes Clark, all the ex-Clinton people who went behind him, he was rising in the polls, and you ask, what happened?
Some of the wounds were self-inflicted. He had a problem sometimes being coherent with the policy positions. But, basically, what happened to Clark was, he was there for one reason, to stop Howard Dean. Democrats feared that, if Howard Dean were the nominee, he might be a McGovern. And as soon as John Kerry emerged out as the front-runner, the rationale for Wesley Clark's campaign began to diminish.
National security, John Kerry had credibility. Experience in a war, credibility. So Howard Dean not being the front-runner was one of the worst things that happened to Wesley Clark, Wolf.
BLITZER: Wesley Clark, that's going to be storyline we'll be watching all night in these coming hours.
Our Bill Schneider is looking at the numbers behind the numbers, trying to understand exactly what happened in Tennessee.
What happened there, Bill?
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Tennessee is a state, Wolf, that had serious economic reversals over the last few years.
Take a look at this. We asked voters in Tennessee, what do you think of the state of the economy? Eighty-two percent overwhelmingly said the economy is in bad shape. Now, John Edwards ran hard on the economic issue. But the worst you thought the economy was, the more you voted for John Kerry, who dominated the vote among people who said the economy was in bad shape.
The argument for Kerry is that, as a candidate, Kerry can match President Bush on the national security issue and turn the debate to the issue Democrats really want to talk about, which is jobs, more than two million of them so far lost under the Bush presidency -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Bill Schneider is going to continue to crunch all of those numbers for us throughout the night. Bill, thanks very much.
We'll get back to all of our correspondents, our analysts. Paula Zahn, though, is in New York. And I'm throwing it back to her right now -- Paula.
ZAHN: Thanks so much, Wolf.
And we want to show you a live picture now of John Kerry's headquarters in Fairfax, Virginia, as his supporters await the appearance of a victorious John Kerry. With Mr. Kerry's impressive showing in Virginia and Tennessee, is the race just about over, a question we've been posing for the last 15 minutes or so, John Edwards, Wesley Clark and for Howard Dean?
Joining us from Washington right now, "CROSSFIRE" co-hosts Tucker Carlson and Paul Begala.
Great to see both of you.
ZAHN: Paul, I want to start with you this evening.
What do you think is the significance of the margin of Mr. Kerry's victory tonight, or at least projected victory?
PAUL BEGALA, CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE": Yes, it's enormous.
He's not from the South. He was at first written off, even in the Northeast, but certainly in the South. There was a great skepticism about him. And to come here, to beat Southerners -- you know, North Carolina, John Edwards' home state, touches both Tennessee and Virginia. And Kerry beat him in both of those states. He also beat Wes Clark in them. It is really something extraordinary.
And you ought to mention, too, that Howard Dean today collapsed, even though endorsed by Al Gore. I mean, you can actually say Al Gore's lost his home state twice now, because Dean had absolutely no support in Tennessee. And Kerry now very credibly can say he's won in every region That they've had a contest in so far and That he's ready to unite and lead the party. And he's got a very strong case.
ZAHN: So, Tucker, given John Kerry's momentum, is it time for Edwards, Clark, Dean, and Kucinich to get out? TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE": Well, I think it's time for General Clark to get out.
And I will say that I think that the Democrats -- most members of the Democratic Clinton-aligned establishment who supported General Clark in the beginning as an option, really as a stopping mechanism to stop Howard Dean, earlier are probably regretting it now. If you think of the race without General Clark in it, I'm not sure that would mean John Edwards would beat Kerry in any of these states, but he would clearly be the option to John Kerry.
I would think the Kerry campaign would want Senator Edwards to stay in a little longer for breathing room, if no other reason. Less than a month ago, John Kerry looked hopeless. Now he looks inevitable. Think about what that would do to your mind, much less your campaign. He probably wants a month or two to sort of regroup and think it through. And having Senator Edwards in the race helps him do that.
ZAHN: Well, it's an interesting point you raised, something Judy addressed a little bit earlier on, when she was saying, it's her belief this could be one of the longest general election campaigns we've ever seen.
We're going to keep our eye on that picture coming out of Fairfax, Virginia, where John Kerry is supposed to speak to his supporters. But, in the meantime, we'll go back to Paul and ask him, if he were advising the senator, what he would advise him to do.
We heard that, obviously, these caucuses and primaries have brought more Democrats to the polls and they've driven down the president's numbers.
ZAHN: Do you think he would welcome what Tucker just said, a longer campaign?
BEGALA: Well, I don't think so.
Tucker makes a good point. Tough primaries produce tough nominees. And this has been a tough primary, although a short one. I think what John Kerry needs to do now is take the fight to George W. Bush. I will be astonished if, in the speech he gives this evening, he mentions his opponents in any way, except maybe to compliment them for running a strong race in an important part of the country.
I think he needs to take the fight to Bush. The president has been slightly wounded. It's going to be a tossup election, but he's a vulnerable incumbent. That will help to unite the party. The problem with -- Tucker makes a good point that, if it goes on, he has a good story to tell. He'll continue to win. He's going to win Wisconsin. I'm not CNN, but Begala projects a win in Wisconsin for John Kerry.
But if it continues to go on, it spends money. My party, the Democrats, we don't have a lot of money. Kerry has a wife with a vast fortune, but doesn't have a fortune of his own to spend in this. And so he's looking at $200 million in President Bush's war chest. He'd like to wrap up the Democrats early, take whatever money is left over and begin to shore up whatever damage he's suffered in this, which I think is minimal, and to start to inflict a little pain on George W. Bush.
ZAHN: All right, Tucker Carlson, Paul Begala, we got to leave it there. See you a little bit later on this evening.
Still to come tonight, as we mentioned, John Kerry supporters in Fairfax, Virginia, waiting for the senator to appear for a victory speech. When it happens, we will bring it to you live. And we'll have more as we look at the hard numbers and hear from more of our analysts. And the White House moves to tamp down questions about the president's Vietnam-era National Guard service. Some payroll records surface. We're going to tell you exactly what they prove and what they don't.
ZAHN: Welcome back.
We're keeping an eye on John Kerry's headquarters in Fairfax, Virginia, where he's expected to address his supporters there this evening. We're told that could happen in minutes.
In the meantime, we go back to Wolf Blitzer, who is standing by in Atlanta, to crunch some of the numbers that we know so far.
Hi again, Wolf.
BLITZER: Thanks very much, Paula.
John Kerry, a big night for him, two for two tonight, 12 for 14 so far in this political season. We have projected, he will go ahead and win the important state of Tennessee. John Kerry will go ahead and win that. We have already projected he also will win Virginia, an important Southern state as well, two Southern states tonight for John Kerry.
Let's take a look at the actual votes, almost 70 percent of the voting now complete in Virginia, 51 percent so far for John Kerry, 27 percent for senator John Edwards, only 10 percent for General Wesley Clark, 6 percent for Howard Dean. He didn't really compete that. Al Sharpton and Dennis Kucinich trailing far behind.
Paula, we'll continue to crunch the numbers here at election headquarters -- back to you in the meantime.
BLITZER: All right.
And, Wolf, as John Kerry continues to rack up his convention delegates, his tally before tonight was impressive. The Massachusetts senator had 431 delegates going into tonight's two races. Howard Dean followed with 182, John Edwards in third place with 117, Wesley Clark in fourth with 84. Now, to put the delegate count "In Plain English," we turn to regular contributor and "TIME" magazine columnist Joe Klein, who joins us now.
Hi, Joe. How you doing tonight?
JOE KLEIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Good to be here, Paula.
ZAHN: How many delegates at stake in today's races?
KLEIN: Well, there are 150 delegates at stake, 82 in Virginia and 69 in Tennessee.
But what we're really talking about here, there's a much larger pot. There are over 800 super delegates, members of Congress, members of the Democratic National Committee, bigwigs, muck-a-mucks, establishment types. And they're going to start moving toward John Kerry as this becomes more and more inevitable.
CNN confirmed today that Howard Dean lost four super delegates. That's another thing you should know about these guys, is that they can change their minds.
ZAHN: The magic number is 2,161. What is the soonest that John Kerry or any candidate, for that matter, could get to that big number?
KLEIN: Well, you have Wisconsin coming up next week, which is only 72 delegates. But then, on March 2, you have half the known world having primaries.
You have California. You have New York. You have Georgia. You have Ohio. You have Rhode Island, over 1,000 delegates at stake that day. And I suspect that, the way things are going, unless we find out that John Kerry has been funneling nuclear secrets to al Qaeda, you know, what's going to stop him from winning the vast preponderance of those?
ZAHN: Let's bring Peter Beinart in the discussion now, the editor of "The New Republic."
Welcome to you as well.
PETER BEINART, EDITOR, "THE NEW REPUBLIC": Nice to be here.
ZAHN: Your reaction to the numbers we've seen so far, Southern wins from John Kerry.
BEINART: That's right.
I think what you've learned from this is that there's a very powerful bandwagon effect in primaries, that people like to go with the winner, particularly when they don't have very much time to look at the candidates. After all, they were only two days between Tennessee and Virginia and the last state that voted, Maine -- and particularly when there's not much of a debate between the candidates.
Nobody went after John Kerry. There were no major issue differences that were presented to the voters. He had a very easy environment, and the momentum paid off.
ZAHN: And yet, if you look at the exit polling, in particular in Virginia, four out of 10 of those folks made up their minds in the last three days. They also told pollers that many of those same people didn't make up their mind until today. And that tells you what about the undecideds?
KLEIN: Well, people like to take their time, I think.
But it also means that John Edwards couldn't close the deal, and it means that undecideds aren't necessarily people who are just opposed to John Kerry. This is a very impressive victory. And both of these are. They can't be more impressive.
ZAHN: Why couldn't John Edwards close the deal? And should he have done better than what our projected numbers are showing?
BEINART: He didn't have a lot of time. The strength of the Edwards candidacy is that he tends to connect very well with voters one on one in small groups. That helped him a lot in Iowa.
He simply didn't have time to do that in Virginia and Tennessee, with only a few days since the last states that voted. Second of all, he's not drawing issue differences with John Kerry. You've got to give someone a reason not to vote for John Kerry, given that he's the guy way out in front. John Edwards hasn't done that, and that's made some people think he's playing for No. 2.
ZAHN: Wesley Clark has not do well today. What happened?
KLEIN: Well, I think that his original purpose, as Jeff Greenfield just said before, was as a stop-Dean candidate.
The striking thing here is that the Democratic Party has traditionally been a mess of factions. Throughout the '90s, we had old Democrats and new Democrats. Tonight, there just seemed to be one kind of Democrat. And that's been the most shocking thing about these primaries, is that the party seems more united than I've seen it in a very, very long time.
ZAHN: That may be true, but a final question to you, what benefits John Kerry the most, a longer campaign now with some of these opponents? Or is it time for them to get out?
BEINART: You don't want John Edwards in the race if he's going to go after you. This is the question. If Edwards sticks around in the race, but continues to run as a very gentile candidate as he's run, that's fine. But if he decides to stay in and go after John Kerry, then I think it's potentially a little bit of a problem. You don't want to preview -- you don't want to have a Democrat making the charges you're going to have Republicans make against you in the summer and fall.
ZAHN: Peter Beinart, Joe Klein, thanks so much for your information tonight.
Keeping an eye on that picture of John Kerry's campaign headquarters. And as soon as he speaks to his supporters, we will be taking his address live.
We'll be right back.
ZAHN: And welcome back to our coverage here.
You're looking at a live picture of John Kerry's headquarters out of Fairfax, Virginia, where he will soon be addressing some of his supporters after some impressive wins in Virginia and Tennessee.
What does John Kerry need to do to keep the momentum going? Well, joining us now in the studio, regular contributor Joe Klein, Doyle McManus, the Washington bureau chief of "The Los Angeles Times," and "The New Republic"'s Peter Beinart.
Good to see all three of you back together again.
Doyle, first off, your reaction to the projected numbers you've seen so far?
DOYLE MCMANUS, "THE LOS ANGELES TIMES": Well, it is quite remarkable, because the South was supposed to be John Edwards' territory and perhaps Wes Clark's territory. Both of them have raised the question of whether a liberal from New England could win in the South. Look at those numbers from Virginia. John Kerry won 50 percent. He won more than Edwards and Clark combined. That's pretty good.
ZAHN: How worried is the White House looking at these numbers come in tonight, Joe?
KLEIN: Well, I think that the White House has been worried for quite some time. You saw it in the defensive quality of the State of the Union address. You saw it in the president's presence on "Meet the Press" the other day, you know, and his defensiveness, his need to defend the war in Iraq, defend the budget figures, defend the economy.
He's on the defensive. And when you're not -- when you're not playing offense, you're losing in this game.
ZAHN: When you look at the margin of John Kerry's projected wins in both of these states, how does it affect White House strategy in the ongoing campaign?
BEINART: Well, I think it just makes it clear that they know who they're going against, and that's John Kerry.
And there is some reason to believe at least from these polls that John Kerry has some capacity to do well in the South. He did very well amongst veterans, for instance. How that translates into a general election campaign remains to be seen. But I think the big question here is, with him doing this well, how strong is the national security card they would use against him, which plays best in the South?
ZAHN: Doyle, what do you see as John Kerry's greatest vulnerability tonight?
MCMANUS: I think his vulnerability in the general election campaign is going to come on the social issues. I think you're going to see -- in fact, we've already seen, not the White House, but the Republican National Committee go after him for his position on civil unions, or, as they would put it, gay marriage, go after him on tax cuts, go after him on a host of issues.
So, I don't think that they are going to hold their fire for very long. The question is, will President Bush himself descend from the level of a president in the Oval Office to the level of a mere campaigner very soon?
ZAHN: Give us a preview, Joe Klein, of the pictures we can expect to see. We saw one released today, an old picture of Jane Fonda and John Kerry. Is this just the beginning of that volley?
KLEIN: Right. Oh, yes.
And, as for what Doyle said, I think that's why we have vice presidents, you know. I think that the vice president and other members of the Cabinet and other Republicans are going to be carrying this attack against John Kerry. And that is why this Air National Guard issue is so important, not because it's going to swing votes right now or change people's minds about the president.
But what it has done, it's been very important for Democrats, because it sent a message to the Democratic Party that John Kerry is willing to play rough. And Democrats are tired of being wimps. It also sent a message to the Republican Party, which is that, as one Kerry aide said, everything is on the table, everything.
ZAHN: So, for folks who missed the White House news conference today, which was supposed to be a White House offense, how effective was it, when records for the first time were being shown to the public that the White House maintains prove that President Bush did indeed serve all the time he says he did in the National Guard?
BEINART: I don't think we know yet. I think it's going to take a while for journalists to sift through this.
It's quite a complicated technical question now about what records they've produced, about what records should have been there, but haven't been produced, about what officials should be able to testify of George Bush's service in Alabama in the National Guard and who haven't. What they've succeeded in doing is muddling the picture. For those people who were inclined to believe the best about George W. Bush, this makes it easier for them.
But the press, I think there are going to be many more stories to be written about this particular affair.
ZAHN: And, of course, the big question that was asked today, why did it take four years to disclose these records? We'll talk about this issue more right after this break.
We go back to John Kerry's campaign headquarters tonight, where he will soon address his supporters, after some impressive wins in two Southern states.
Our coverage will continue right after this short break.
ZAHN: A big night for Senator John Kerry, as he is projected to be the winner in both Tennessee and Virginia tonight. We've seen a number of his supporters get up to the podium. We await his address to his supporters. When that happens, we will take it live.
In the meantime, we go back to Joe Klein, Peter Beinart and Doyle McManus. Doyle, when we last left you -- actually, I'm told Doyle is not there. Let's continue our conversation about the relevancy of this National Guard controversy. What role do you think it's going to play in this campaign, Joe?
KLEIN: Well, I think that the main role is that it's a tone setter. We're at the beginning of a very long general election campaign, it seems, and at the very start, you have the Democrats hitting the president of the United States on a matter of personal character. This is very, very rare, I think maybe unprecedented in my knowledge.
ZAHN: As I was watching the news conference today, I was struck by the tone of the reporters' questions. And I saw a shift I don't know that you saw today in just the level of anger, and some of the questions were quite arch of Scott McClellan. Reporters said, Please answer our question. You're not answering it.
BEINART: I agree with you. Let's remember "The Boston Globe" reported this story in 2000. I think there are many journalists out there who think that they didn't follow up on that story. There were a lot of questions that the Bush campaign didn't answer and that they may feel like they were remiss in not pushing this story harder. They want to make up for it now. Plus, also, we've had a number of incidents now over the last year on Iraq and other questions, where some of the Bush statements have turned out to be questionable. And I think that has informed the coverage of this president, as well.
ZAHN: What is the truth, Joe?
KLEIN: I don't know. I don't know. I...
ZAHN: What is the best that you can cobble together this story?
KLEIN: Well, the truth is that the president is on naturally shaky grounds here because if he really wanted to fly jets and fight in the war, he would have joined the Air Force, not the National Guard. So he's on the defensive from the get-go, even if he showed up in Alabama, which no one seems to believe he did. So -- and from what I understand, the pay stubs don't reflect that, either. So it's a very -- you know, it's a very questionable situation.
ZAHN: John Kerry has entered the room with Teresa Heinz, as he slowly works his way over the podium, where he will address all these supporters. I guess it would make sense for him to linger in this crowd tonight, wouldn't it, Peter. Tell us a little bit about perhaps even his level of surprise about his stunning margin of victory here in Virginia.
BEINART: Oh, they've got to be very happy. I mean, let's remember, both Tennessee and Virginia border North Carolina, which is the home of John Edwards. He has a natural appeal, you would think, for a lot of people in those states, and yet John Kerry came in, beat him in both places and looks like quite across the board, not just amongst liberals, but even in the more conservative sectors of the state. And that's got to make him feel very good, I think, right now.
ZAHN: And you hear a theme over and over again, when you look at the exit polling numbers, particularly in Virginia, about electability trumping any other particular issue in this campaign.
KLEIN: Electability is a euphemism for credibility. What people are talking about is his ability to stand up next to the president of the United States next fall and discuss matters of war and peace and taxes and solvency. And when Democrats looked at this field, they said, you know, This is the guy who could best do that.
But I should point this out, in the midst of all of this, you know, optimistic talk and everything, there's going to be a lot of pain down the road for John Kerry. Not every night is going to be as happy as this one. This is going to be a close, hard, tough election. It is near impossible to beat an incumbent president.
ZAHN: That may be true, Doyle McManus, but a 3-to-1 margin of victory on the electability issue is something for him to celebrate, isn't it.
MCMANUS: It is something for him to celebrate. It's something the Bush campaign is a little worried about. One Republican told me that, you know, these Democrats are unifying so quickly, they're behaving like Republicans. They're behaving in much too organized a fashion for the Bush campaign's comfort.
ZAHN: What about that, Peter? He smiles!
BEINART: I think that's true, but I think -- I think -- to pick up on what Joe said, the Air National Guard story has in some ways become a substitute for Democrats really thinking about an issue they were focused on a lot last fall, which is the Iraq war. What are they going to say about the Iraq war in this general election? John Kerry has been, to some degree, all over the place on that. He voted for it and yet he's spoken against it. And the Democrats cannot think that his Vietnam record is going to give him a pass on trying to define for the country what they believe about how America should respond to September 11.
ZAHN: And Doyle, so far, John Kerry has been pretty measured in his response to this National Guard story, hasn't he.
MCMANUS: Well, He's had the luxury of letting Terry McAuliffe, the chairman of the Democratic Committee, do the rough stuff for him, as Joe Klein said earlier. It was Terry McAuliffe to come out and said, Well, George W. Bush was AWOL. That was a charge that was unfair, Both unfair legally and unfair broadly, but it was also a reminder that politics ain't beanbag. This is going to be a rough campaign on both sides.
ZAHN: And how will John Kerry use this issue of the National Guard? He was quite cryptic in answering questions of reporters today about it.
KLEIN: Well, I think he's just going to let it lie and let us run with it. When you have a whole press room full of reporters grilling the White House press secretary on it, you don't need to say all that much. The other thing I'd point out about this election is how much it's at the suffrage of events in the world. I mean, we're going to have a very rough two or three months in Iraq, and then things might get better. We may have a smooth transition to a new government there. That issue may go off the table. I don't think it will. I think it's going to be very difficult. But this election, more than any other I've covered, is out of the hands of the politicians.
BEINART: And not only events in the world, events in Massachusetts. Remember, as Joe alluded to earlier, we're in the middle of a social revolution in Massachusetts, the first state in the history of the United States where there likely will be gay marriages, on the eve, perhaps, of the Boston convention that nominates John Kerry. I think it will be very interesting to see about John Kerry over the next few weeks and months is how does he navigate that very, very, tricky issue.
ZAHN: And I guess we can all just imagine what some of those commercials might look like coming from the other side.
KLEIN: That's right. But the interesting thing is that we don't know what's going to stick, what issues are going to count in this post-9/11 atmosphere.
ZAHN: Joe, Peter, Doyle, thank you for all your insights this evening. We're keeping an eye on John Kerry, as he gets ready to do a victory speech in Fairfax, Virginia, at about the same time that we're beginning to get telling hard numbers out of Tennessee. Let's go back to my colleague, Wolf Blitzer, standing by at our election headquarters in Atlanta.
Hi again, Wolf.
BLITZER: Thanks, Paula. We are getting those first numbers in from Tennessee. We've already projected that John Kerry will carry Tennessee. With only 1 percent of the vote in, still very, very early. Hard numbers -- 38 percent going for John Kerry, the winner, 26 percent for John Edwards, 23 percent for Wesley Clark, only 7 percent for Howard Dean, Sharpton and Kucinich trailing badly. Very, very early numbers coming in from Tennessee. They should be coming in much more rapidly now.
As we continue to watch the -- awaiting John Kerry's remarks tonight, let's bring in Judy Woodruff for a quick thought, Judy, on what we have seen tonight.
WOODRUFF: It is remarkable, in fact, Wolf, nothing short of that. John Kerry, a Massachusetts Democrat, a liberal by any definition, winning, doing well in two states right out of the heart of the South, running against two Southerners. In the Democratic Party, to do well, the conventional wisdom has been you have to do well in the South. John Kerry is proving that he is. And it is -- he's going to be a force to be reckoned with.
BLITZER: And Jeff, the conventional wisdom is that John Edwards will stay in this race, at least through Wisconsin next Tuesday, but a lot of question mark about Wesley Clark. We're expecting to hear from both of them after John Kerry speaks in the next few minutes, presumably. What do you anticipate hearing?
GREENFIELD: From Edwards, I anticipate hearing he's staying in for actually a longer haul than we might have thought. I can't see how Wes Clark goes on. The numbers are just too bleak. But I think the Edwards campaign is actually looking beyond super Tuesday, believe it or not. If they can get him one on one in those states where there are one or two states per week -- Florida, Texas the week after, then you go to, you know, Illinois, ultimately Pennsylvania, they think they have a shot.
One other point I want to point out. We're seeing Teresa Heinz right to the senator's left, the widow of John Heinz, who married the senator. She was considered a very combustible figure. She's very outspoken. One of the things I love about watching her is she's willing to look like she's not entirely thrilled to be there. There's a certain sweet resignation about her face, like, I know I'm standing here listening to political talk, but I'd rather be someplace else. And There's a certain honesty about her expression. Maybe when you're worth half a billion dollars, you can do that. I don't know.
BLITZER: She doesn't have to be nervous about talking to the press. All right, stand by, guys.
Paula, we'll throw it back to you.
ZAHN: And we're going to try to find Kelly Wallace in that very room that her cameras are trained on right now in Fairfax, Virginia, get a flavor of what the supporters of John Kerry are saying at this hour. Come in, Kelly.
WALLACE: Paula, let me just give you a little sense of the scene here. You've got several hundred people, maybe more than a thousand, crammed inside the food court here at George Mason University, obviously waiting very excitedly to hear from Governor Mark Warner of Virginia right now and then John Kerry.
I just want to tell you two things. We have received a copy of the speech that John Kerry will be giving. Two very interesting notes. He will talk about how Americans are voting for change -- East, West, North, and today in the South, this campaign saying the results today in Tennessee and Virginia showing that the senator from Massachusetts can win with Democratic primary voters in the South. They also believe, if he is the nominee, he could give Republicans a run for their money in some places in the South.
The other thing you'll hear from John Kerry tonight, what we have been hearing from him over the past few days, not mentioning his rivals but totally focusing on George W. Bush. In this, he says George Bush (UNINTELLIGIBLE) has made America weaker, weaker economically, weaker in health care, weaker in education. So clearly, trying to frame this debate as between John Kerry and President Bush -- Paula.
ZAHN: Kelly Wallace, thanks so much for that preview of what we're expected to hear from John Kerry shortly, saying, basically, voting for the change is an important thing in the East, West and South and -- and basically, the Midwest, the whole country.
We are going to come back to John Kerry when he addresses his supporters live. We're going to take a short break. We'll return with our coverage in just a moment.
ZAHN: Welcome back to our coverage of the Virginia and Tennessee primaries, where our projections show John Kerry with some impressive wins in those two states. Let's bring Joe Klein, Peter Beinart back in the picture to talk a little bit about their reaction to the numbers. How much better did you expect the son of the South, John Edwards, to do in these two states tonight?
KLEIN: Well, I think that when these campaigns began, essentially last Wednesday or Thursday, Edwards had a half-decent shot at winning them both. I mean, he had just won South Carolina. You had expected he would do much better than he did here. But I'm wondering whether Virginia is a much different state than the one we used to know. It used to be the home of the "Yellow Dog Democrats," people who would vote Democratic if the candidate were a yellow dog. I think a lot of those guys are now Republicans. And what you saw in this election are a lot of classic liberals in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., Rote voting for John Kerry.
ZAHN: To what extent did Wesley Clark hurt John Edwards in these two primaries? BEINART: There's no question that he did. In a state like Virginia, you knew John Kerry was going to do relatively well in northern Virginia, the suburbs of Washington, which are more traditionally liberal. John Edwards thought he had an advantage in the southern -- more southern parts of the state, more conservative. But that's where Wesley Clark parked himself, as well. That hurt John Edwards. But one more thing. John Edwards did not draw distinctions with John Kerry except on the biographical front. He didn't draw issue distinctions. This wasn't like Al Gore versus Michael Dukakis in 1988, where Dukakis was significantly more conservative than Dukakis (sic) and criticized him on the issues. John Edwards decided not to do that, and I think he's reaping the results.
KLEIN: Why that strategy, Joe?
KLEIN: Well, I think that -- because that's the way he defined himself. He defined himself as the high-road nice guy who had a message about populism, a message about taking back the country from the special interests. And Edwards -- I can't emphasize this enough. There wasn't a faction of the party that was willing to stand behind Edwards because they didn't like John Kerry -- who's coming on now, isn't he?
ZAHN: All right, why don't we let the winner himself address his supporters from Fairfax, Virginia. Let's listen to Senator John Kerry, victorious in Tennessee and Virginia tonight.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kerry! Kerry! Kerry! Kerry! Kerry!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kerry! Kerry! Kerry! Kerry! Kerry!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Kerry! Kerry! Kerry! Kerry! Kerry!
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, George Mason. Thank you for a great welcome tonight. Thank you -- thank you Governor Warner, for your leadership and for your support and friendship.
Once again -- once again the message rings out loud and clear. Americans are voting for change, East and West, North and now in the South. And I am grateful for that. Thank you. Thank you Virginia. Thank you, Tennessee. Together -- together across the South, you have shown that mainstream values that we share -- fairness, love of country, a belief in hope and in hard work -- are more important than boundaries or birthplace. And I thank you for that.
America -- America is coming together, and together we intend to move America forward. And this campaign now moves forward. We will fight for every vote and we will carry our cause all across this land.
Once again, I express my special thanks to the remarkable brigade of veterans who have crossed this country...
(APPLAUSE) -- Senator Max Cleland...
-- the same -- the same band of brothers that I depended on 30 years ago. And I've said it before, and I will say it again: We may be a little bit older, we may be a little bit grayer, but we still know how to fight for our country.
The voice -- the voice of this campaign -- the voice of this campaign is the voice of people that I met in living rooms, in cafes, in VFW halls and in factory floors all across our country. It is the voice of workers without work, the voice of families and small businesses whose health care costs are soaring out of control. It is the voice of parents who want to hand this country on to their children, a better future without the heavy burden of national deficits and federal debt. And we will do that.
I want you to know that I have heard your voices, and if I am president -- if I am president...
If I am president, your voices, your voices will be heard all across this country, and I ask you to make your voices heard tonight. Go to johnkerry.com and share your ideas. Join us -- - not just to win an election, but to give America back its future and its soul. That is what this race is about.
I'll talk to you. We'll talk. Our vision -- our vision is for prosperity not just for some and opportunity not just for some, but prosperity and opportunity for all Americans shared across lines, shared across racial divide, shared by all in this country because that is who we are as a nation. And from Missouri to Wisconsin to Ohio, from the heartland to both coasts, the wreckage of the Bush economy can be seen all around us. In the places...
In the places where so many jobs have been lost, people are being told that there's a turnaround, that things are somehow better. But they don't see it in their own lives. They don't see it in their jobs. They don't see it in their paychecks and their wages. And for more than three years, this administration has failed to tell the truth about the economy of our country. Today...
ZAHN: John Kerry imploring his supporters and those voters who haven't made up their minds to, quote, "give America back its future and its soul." He referred to the wreckage of the Bush economy and the fragility of, he believes, the security of our nation.
We leave John Kerry for a moment. We move on in our coverage. The president may be in for one long campaign. We're going to ask Republican strategist Ed Rollins for his reaction to the primaries and what the results might mean for George W. Bush and the Republican Party. Our coverage returns in just a moment. Please stay with us.
ZAHN: Welcome back. As Senator John Kerry savors his twin victories in Tennessee and Virginia, we begin to look at what the numbers are telling us tonight. In particular, in Virginia, for example, 90 percent of exit polls respondents said they believe John Kerry could beat George Bush. For more details on what voters in Virginia are saying tonight, let's go back to our senior analyst, Jeff Greenfield, who joins us from Atlanta tonight.
Hi, Jeff. What do the numbers say?
GREENFIELD: Hello, Paula. Well, thanks to the magic of our spatial logic vote track (ph), we can show the dimensions of John Kennedy's (sic) victory in Virginia. If you look up here, these are the suburbs that border Washington, D.C. -- Alexandria, Virginia. Kerry won big in Fairfax County. He won 66 percent of the vote. In the city of Alexandria, he won 53 percent of the vote, perhaps not a surprise. But look down here into the area of Norfolk and Virginia Beach, enormous military installations and military people there, where General Clark might have been expected to do well, John Kerry won 55 percent in Norfolk city. Wes Clark was held to 10 percent of the vote.
And here, in the more rural areas of Virginia, in the west, down into the Shenandoah Valley, those colors tell you John Kerry carried virtually every county. Except for a few hints where John Edwards won -- he's the figure in green -- John Kerry had a sweeping statewide sweep -- a sweeping sweep, of course -- that reflected other states where he ran across the board in cities, in counties, among blacks, among whites. It was a remarkable, consistent, big victory in Virginia for Senator John Kerry, Paula.
ZAHN: Jeff Greenfield, thanks so much for helping us better understand all those numbers.
What do Republicans see in tonight's Democratic primaries? Republican strategist Ed Rollins joins us now. Good evening. Welcome.
ED ROLLINS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: How are you?
ZAHN: Let's talk about John Kerry. No one expected him to do that well. How nervous is the White House about...
ROLLINS: I don't think...
ZAHN: ... his performance in the South? ROLLINS: I don't think the White House -- well, first of all, it's only Democrats and independents that are voting. And it's a Democrat primary. It's not a Republican and it's...
ZAHN: Yes, but John Edwards could have done better.
ROLLINS: John Edwards...
ZAHN: Wesley Clark could have done better.
ROLLINS: ... could have done -- they didn't...
ZAHN: They didn't.
ROLLINS: They didn't. And the truth of the matter is that Democrats today think that this is their inevitable nominee, and most people want to vote for a winner when it gets to this part of the process. And I think the reality is they see polls where he's basically even or ahead of the president, and they think he can win. They made the same mistake with Dukakis and they made the same mistake with some other nominees. The truth of the matter is a centrists...
ZAHN: What, so you're basically saying they're overestimating John Kerry at this point in his electability?
ROLLINS: No, no, no, no. I'm saying reelections are about the incumbent. If the country's ready to get rid of George Bush, they'll find an alternative. And Kerry is certainly going to be that alternative. He's articulate. He's smart. But at the end of the day, he's still totally undefined. He basically is just rolling through and he basically is running as a war hero. His records will get examined, just like everybody else's. He has a long history of votes -- he's one of the most liberal members of the Congress. He has a long history of votes. He's not going to be able to move away from those votes. He is a progressive, and he's going to argue a lot of things that are going to be unacceptable to the American public.
ZAHN: I'm surprised. I only heard you say "liberal" once.
ROLLINS: "Liberal" has to be -- "liberal" has to be defined. And I think -- I think it's -- I think both -- and (UNINTELLIGIBLE) everybody wants to make Edwards out as the ultimate Southerner. Edwards would have been very hard pressed, if he would have run for reelection, to get reelected. He is a progressive, too. And he barely won the last time, and he chose not to run again, and he was basically not even favored in the polls.
ZAHN: But you're making it sound, if you read between the lines, that John Kerry isn't that formidable to -- to...
ROLLINS: Let's go...
ZAHN: ... President Bush.
ZAHN: Don't they -- wouldn't they...
ROLLINS: Let's -- let's...
ZAHN: ... prefer Howard Dean...
ROLLINS: Anybody would have preferred...
ZAHN: ... to John Kerry to that?
ROLLINS: ... Howard Dean. The best ticket in the world -- if you would have asked me, as a strategist, a year ago, Give me the one Democrat you want to run against, I would never even put Howard Dean on the list. I mean, Howard Dean, he was governor of a state of 600,000 people, the size of a congressional seat. All of a sudden, he becomes the anti-war candidate. Kerry was the guy we always thought was going to -- we always thought it was going to be Gephardt or Kerry. And the reality is that Gephardt, you know, floundered, and I think that Kerry is the guy that basically can't run away from his record. He's going to basically -- he's always been against the war. He's been against a whole variety of things. He's intelligent, he's articulate, but at the end of the day, he's out of sync with where mainstream Americans...
ZAHN: He also happens to be a decorated Vietnam war veteran at a time when this National Guard issue is burbling up again.
ROLLINS: It is a day story. It is a two-day story. It is a five-day story. Who cares? At the end of the day, George Bush is not going to be judged by what he did in the National Guard 30 years ago, just as Max Cleland, who's -- who is a true war hero, missing limbs, sitting there on the stage, who was defeated as -- as -- for reelection -- basically, his war record didn't matter to him in his reelection. At the end of the day, it's about homeland security, who basically can be the commander-in-chief and how Bush has performed in office. The economy comes back and the war continues to -- or the -- or the reconstruction of Iraq continues to move forward, then I think the reality is, it won't be a close race.
ZAHN: You say, Who cares about this National Guard issue, but you heard how reporters bristled when their questions weren't answered.
ZAHN: Is there not a relevancy to the question of why...
ROLLINS: Reporters -- reporters...
ZAHN: ... these public records surfaced now and not four years ago?
ROLLINS: Well, it did surface. It did surface four years ago, and it had no legs. it surfaced in the Texas gubernatorial race. They have made this issue over and over again. And at the end of the day, it hasn't had any legs. We'll see if it has legs. I don't think it has legs. ZAHN: You say it's a one-day, two-day story.
ROLLINS: I think it is. What are you going to -- how are you going to -- he basically got pay strips (ph) today, and someone has to come forward and say no. National Guard duty is one weekend a month, two weeks in the summer. That's what it is. And thank goodness we have those National Guard guys because they're all in Iraq right now, serving our country.
ZAHN: We'll bring you back in a week and see if we're still talking about it. Ed Rollins, it's always good to see you. Thanks so much for dropping by here this evening.
ROLLINS: Take care. 'Bye-'bye.
ZAHN: And we thank you all for being with us tonight. A lot more ahead on CNN on the Virginia and Tennessee primaries. We have heard John Kerry's victory speech. What is next for his rivals? Please stay with the CNN for the latest. "LARRY KING LIVE." Thanks again for joining us for this special hour of PAULA ZAHN NOW. We hope you have a good night. We'll be right back.
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