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CNN NEWSNIGHT AARON BROWN

Kerry Wins Wisconsin; Edwards Close Second

Aired February 17, 2004 - 22:00   ET

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

AARON BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening again everyone.
Five days ago Wisconsin looked like a blowout. It did not turn out that way. Independents and late deciders moved toward John Edwards. You'll hear from him in a bit.

Edwards, it seems, again benefiting from the endorsements of the major newspapers in the state of Wisconsin but has this all changed the race? Is it a race? Does close count in politics like horseshoes, questions for the night?

The first question of the night goes to CNN's Wolf Blitzer who is in Washington and can now project a winner, Wolf a headline.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks very much, Aaron.

The headline is John Kerry will win Wisconsin. CNN can project that based on exit polls as well as actual ballots that have been counted at sample precincts around the state, a close race but John Kerry will carry the primary in Wisconsin.

BROWN: Wolf, thank you.

To the battleground itself, Kelly Wallace with the Kerry campaign in Middleton, Wisconsin, Kelly what's the headline there tonight?

KELLY WALLACE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Aaron, the headline here, Kerry's advisers extremely pleased that he is victorious here in Wisconsin. They say a win is a win no matter how close this race turned out to be and they continue to say he is the only candidate running a national campaign. We should hear from Mr. Kerry very soon -- Aaron.

BROWN: Kelly, thank you.

Dan Lothian is with the Edwards campaign and I know from having just talked to Mr. Edwards, Senator Edwards, they feel like they won tonight as well, Dan a headline.

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN BOSTON BUREAU CHIEF: Well, that's right. Senator Edwards had been sensing momentum building in his campaign over the past couple of days. The polls had shown him way behind Howard Dean but tonight a much better than expected performance -- Aaron.

BROWN: Thank you, Dan. A lot of celebrating but none of it, I suspect, at the Dean campaign headquarters. Candy Crowley is there, a headline from you tonight.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, believe it or not, Aaron, we are hearing some applause as this gets underway but let's face it, Howard Dean is zero for 17. He is, we think, coming in a distant third tonight. It's going to be very hard to pretty that up.

BROWN: Candy, thank you. We'll get back to you and the rest shortly.

The program is a bit fluid tonight but here's among the things we think we're going to get to. We'll hear from Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahoney about the priest sex abuse scandal, what a study in his archdiocese turned up.

We'll also check morning papers at some point in the night.

We'll hear from John Edwards as well.

We expect to hear from Senator Kerry. He'll come out and talk to his supporters, all of that and perhaps a surprise or two.

We begin in Wisconsin, of course, where very late in the game, this weekend, the polls showed John Kerry in a romp. Instead, it now looks like Kerry by a nose over Senator John Edwards.

Here is how the vote looks with about a third of it is, two percentage points separating Senators Kerry and Edwards and then the rest of the pack, Dean, Kucinich and Sharpton.

How we in the media, how newspapers will lead this all tomorrow, do you lead this, this is a John Kerry win or do you lead this as the Edwards' surprise, is part of the story we'll be dealing with tonight.

Senator Kerry clearly did not do as well as expected but he does continue to rack up delegates and delegates in the end are what matter. Senator Edwards at this point can say he is coming closer. He can also say he attracts voters who will make a difference in the fall, independents.

He did very well among independents in Wisconsin as Bill Schneider will explain in a little bit. About the only thing we can say for absolute certain tonight is that the race isn't over yet.

So, we'll go back to our correspondents and we'll start with Kelly Wallace who is with the Kerry camp -- Kelly.

WALLACE: Aaron, no surprise, Kerry's advisers think the way this story should be reported is that John Kerry is the winner. His aides continue to say that he is the one winning the delegates that he is the one running a national campaign. They continue to say that John Edwards is one who is cherry-picking this campaign and going into certain states and not running a national race. That being said though this race definitely tighter than at least the polls going into it indicated it would be and you had advisers talking throughout the day saying, look, to win this nomination you have to win states. You can't keep coming in second place. So that was part of the message coming from the John Kerry team.

We are expecting the Senator to come out here shortly and talk to his supporters. He was watching the returns with wife Teresa up in a hotel room and he did some last minute interviewing, some last minute get-out-the-vote efforts talking to local television stations, going to a polling place.

He said he's taking nothing for granted. He and his aides clearly saw that this was tighter than they expected, so late in the day they tried to do everything they can to pull out a victory -- Aaron.

BROWN: Kelly, do they have any honest, as opposed to straight spin, any honest explanation for why this thing closed so tight over the last 48 hours?

WALLACE: Well, they will say a couple of things. We did get some advisers saying earlier in the day that John Edwards spent more money on advertising than John Kerry. They would say he spent 20 percent more.

They would also say that John Edwards spent more time in this state and that is what they're trying to say that John Kerry is competing nationally, that he went to Nevada, that he's going to these other states, that he didn't just come here to Wisconsin and kind of plant his feet down.

But they'll have some explaining to do in some ways because going into this, no doubt, the polls were showing that John Kerry had a nearly 40 point lead and then you have a tighter race, a lot of people making a decision over the past few days after John Edwards started to draw distinctions between himself and John Kerry.

But, Aaron, they keep coming back to the numbers. They say it comes down to delegates. They say he has almost four times the number than John Edwards and they say that will give him momentum going into the Super Tuesday states -- Aaron.

BROWN: Kelly, thank you. We'll keep an eye on, I see Max Cleland coming up on the podium. He's been traveling with Senator Kerry. We assume Senator Kerry will be there shortly. We'll come back to you for that.

Dan Lothian in Milwaukee with the Edwards camp, we talked with Senator Edwards, I don't know, ten minutes ago and he was jubilant or at least as jubilant as you can be under the circumstances of not actually winning. Do they have a feel for why they closed well?

LOTHIAN: They keep saying time and time again and they're reinforcing that again tonight is that his message was resonating with the voters. We have been talking all along throughout the campaign about how important it was for voters to get behind someone who was electable but what they say is that...

BROWN: Let me -- Dan, stop.

LOTHIAN: Yes.

BROWN: Stop for a second. Let me interrupt you. Howard Dean has taken the podium at his headquarters.

LOTHIAN: OK.

BROWN: Let's listen to a bit of that and then Dan we'll come back to you.

LOTHIAN: OK.

BROWN: Howard Dean at one point had said in an note, an e-mail to his supporters that this was make or break for him. Then he kind of walked away from that a bit, though he raised a lot of money from the e-mail and he will go to Vermont tomorrow to figure out the plan, running at about 18 percent of the vote. Obviously there is some serious thinking needs to be done.

HOWARD DEAN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You all make me so happy I could just scream. Let me -- let me thank your fantastic Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager and let me thank Senator John Erpenbach, who was the first Wisconsin official to endorse us a long time ago. Thank you very much. And your extraordinary Dane County commissioner -- that's not your real title is it? Executive, thank you, somebody wrote the wrong thing down here Kathleen Falk.

These are three -- these are three extraordinary people who have done a great job for the state of Wisconsin and I appreciate their support, their integrity, their help.

I also want to introduce one other person that doesn't know he's going to get introduced and I'm sure he'll be very embarrassed, our state campaign manager Mike Tate, thank you very much for all your help.

BROWN: This is that part of every political speech where everyone gets introduced.

DEAN: I hate to go through all this and bore you all but the truth is we couldn't have done this without these folks. I want to thank the SEIU. They stuck with me through thick and thin and I want to thank the International Union of Painters and Allied Trade, the painters sticking with us right until the end. We appreciate it very much. You guys are great.

BROWN: Not every union has stayed with Senator -- or with Governor Dean to the end.

DEAN: I want to thank the people of Wisconsin. I have really had a great ten days here and -- and I understood if I'd have stayed one more day I would have been able to register and vote today. I have called Senator Kerry and Senator Edwards and congratulated them on two very, very good campaigns and I certainly appreciate how hard they worked and I appreciate even more how hard you worked.

There's an awful lot of people from all over this country who came to Wisconsin, a lot of people from Wisconsin who really worked hard to change this country and change this party and, guess what, you have succeeded.

I know that some of you are disappointed because we didn't do as well as we'd hoped we would do in Wisconsin but I also want you to think for a moment about how far we have come.

There are a lot of people in this room that are young and when you're young you never think things go as fast as you'd like them to go but the truth is change is tough and there's enormous institutional pressure in this country against change.

There's enormous institutional pressure in Washington against change, in the Democratic Party against change and you have already started to change the Democratic Party and we will not stop.

You have already written the platform of the Democratic Party for this election. A year ago -- a year ago the Democrats were falling all over each other to vote for the war in Iraq. They sure don't talk like that now.

A year ago the Democrats were accepting reckless budget deficits and huge tax cuts that mortgage our children's futures. They don't talk like that anymore. A year ago they were adopting the president's education policies which leave every child behind. They all voted for it but they don't support it anymore.

Some of them even adopted the phony Medicare bill which gives more money to HMOs and insurance companies and drug companies than it does to seniors but they don't talk like that anymore.

Finally -- finally we've got a Democratic Party that talks about its roots again, its core issues again. Finally Democrats in Washington have learned that they can stand up to the most right-wing president that we've had in my lifetime and that, guess what, if you stand up and you say what you believe the voters actually like it.

We are not done. A year ago -- a year ago Democrats were getting ready to run the 2004 campaign just like they always have in the past and just thought just like the Republicans did. They were asking for those large donations from all those special interests in Washington, collecting all that bundled money from special interests and you showed them that we don't have to do that anymore.

You showed them you can raise more money than the special interests can, dollar by dollar, $25, $50 at a time from ordinary people, a quarter of all the people who gave money to our campaign were under 30 years old. That hasn't happened since I was under 30 years old and that was a long time ago. But we have a long way to go. In order to change America we have to fundamentally change Washington, both the Democrats and the Republicans. Russ Feingold and John McCain passed a great campaign finance bill. It is not enough. We need real campaign finance reform to get the special interests out of Washington.

You have done that and we are not done yet together. This campaign has been about giving the power in this country back to ordinary people, taking it away from the big corporations who moved their headquarters to Bermuda and their jobs to China and giving power and jobs back to ordinary Americans again.

But we are not done yet. Fifty-six years ago Harry Truman promised health insurance to every man, woman and child in America. Fifty-six years later, special interests giving money to both parties and stopped that dream from being realized. We are not done yet until every American man, woman, and child has health insurance like all those other countries in the world.

We are going to continue to fight for a strong America, which understands that security is based on cooperation with other nations and not just confrontation.

We are going to fight for a wise America where no child left behind is no longer an empty promise made by politicians in both parties in Washington but a promise that we're going to keep to our school boards and our taxpayers and our parents and, above all, our children.

We are going to fight for a fair America where workers can earn a decent wage, where the minimum wage goes up and CEOs don't earn 500 times more than the average working person even as they shift their headquarters to Bermuda and their jobs to China. We can do better than that.

BROWN: Howard Dean speaking to his supporters. We are not done yet together. Does that mean he stays in the race or not, a story for tomorrow.

John Edwards clearly in the race tomorrow and for at least another couple of weeks, he is in Milwaukee tonight. He will finish a very solid second in this, a somewhat surprising second, well perhaps not surprising he was second but certainly surprising at how close it was and now he will talk to his people there.

SEN. JOHN EDWARDS (D-NC), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, Wisconsin. Today -- today the voters of Wisconsin sent a clear message. The message was this. Objects in your mirror may be closer than they appear.

The people of Wisconsin spoke loudly and clearly today. They want a debate. They want this campaign to continue. They want someone who will stand up and fight for them and fight for their jobs.

Let me tell you, let me tell you why this campaign and this debate is going to continue for the people I met with this week from Tower Automotive, who have lost their jobs. I have seen the looks that I saw on their faces were very familiar to me. I have seen these looks before.

BROWN: Senator John Kerry who is in Middleton, Wisconsin tonight and he is the winner. No matter how you slice this and dice this he won tonight but expectations count and he did not reach the expectations of just two days ago.

EDWARDS: Have they not done what's right?

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you. Thank you very much. Look at this guy up here on the shoulders. He looks great. Young and old are coming out.

The motto of the state of Wisconsin is forward and I want to thank the state of Wisconsin for moving this cause and this campaign forward tonight here in this great state. I thank you so much. Thank you.

Every -- every week across our country wherever we go we are feeling the power of change that is sweeping across this nation, the desire for change to come to America.

Everywhere I've been in this campaign, and Teresa and the rest of us, we've seen the hurt of workers without work, the hurt of families without health care struggling to afford it if they have it and struggling to find it when they don't, of Americans whose savings have been swept away by corporate scandal, of so many dreams that have been deferred or denied.

But I've also seen everywhere in every community, rural and urban, all across this land and particularly in the last days here in Wisconsin the sense of hope, the sense of the possibilities of our nation and a resolve to make a new future, to lift our country up and reach for the America that we know we have yet to become. That is what this race is about.

That America, and these are not just words, that America is a land of opportunity, not just for some but for all. It's a nation respected in the world not just for its missiles and its military might but for the power of our ideals.

We reject the view that a president's job is just to raise the value of the stock market. We believe the job of a president is to put America back to work and to do it now.

We will insist on worker protections, on labor rights, on environmental rights in every trade agreement because given a fair playing field, which is what they deserve, there is no one in the world that the American worker can't compete against and we will give that fair playing field to workers across our country.

We will hold up the tax code of our country, your tax code, to the full light of democracy and accountability and we will close every loophole, every reward, every benefit that actually entices some Benedict Arnold type company or CEO to exploit the tax code and send American jobs and money overseas. We will end that for this nation.

Instead, what we intend to do is provide new incentives for manufacturing, creating the jobs here at home and providing the rewards not for those who take the jobs overseas but the rewards should go to those good companies that create the good jobs here at home and that's what we will do.

And, I -- I will tell you -- let me tell you what we will outsource. We will outsource George Bush's unaffordable tax cut for the wealthiest Americans so we can invest in health care and education in this country and we will create -- and we will create 500,000 new jobs by moving towards energy independence, clean energy alternative and renewables in our land so that no young American in uniform will ever be held hostage to America's dependence on oil from the Middle East.

We will -- yes. And I pledge to you we will stand up to the HMOs, to the big drug companies so that we may make health care in the United States of America, the richest country on this planet and the only industrial nation not yet to recognize health care is a right not a privilege for the wealthy and for the powerful.

The members -- the members of Congress and the president and the vice president give themselves at your expense, because of your labor and your work, very good health care and I will take to the White House and offer to the Congress the gold standard of America's health care which is the health care they give themselves and suggest that every family's health care in America is as important as any politician in Washington, D.C.

And what motivates us and drives us in this race and in this cause, all across the country, what brings all of you here together tonight and in the past days and states across the nation in Tennessee and Virginia to the north to the Dakotas, to the west to Washington and now here in Wisconsin is that we have a vision.

We see an America where every child can go to a good school. We see an America where every teacher is respected for doing one of the most important jobs in our country and respected, not just in words, but respected in the resources we give the schools to be able to do the job.

We -- because we see a country, we see a country where the doors of higher education are open to all and when I am president we will have a $4,000 per pupil tuition tax credit and we will help young people take part in national service out of high school, two years of service, and we'll pay for their full in state four-year college public education.

And we see -- and what drives us also is our vision where we see an America where we cut the poverty of millions instead of cutting the taxes of millionaires.

We need fairness in America. We see -- we see an America where each of us has something to give and each of us is challenged to give something back to our country. We see an America of civil rights and civil liberties and we see an America with an attorney general who is not John Ashcroft.

And we see -- and above all, above all in an age of terror when we find ourselves at war we are driven by the vision which sees a stronger America in a safer world.

Our opponents say that they want a campaign on the issue of national security. Well, I look forward to that campaign because I believe this president has over extended the troops of our nation, over extended the Guard and the Reserve, put people at greater risk than they should have been and lost alliances and respect and influence that America had in the world.

I believe -- I -- there is a great brigade of veterans all across this country who know that the real definition of patriotism is in keeping faith with those who served the uniform of their country and those who wore it and we need to do a better job of keeping faith with the VA hospitals and with our veterans and with those who come home as we do that.

And, we -- from Max Cleland who has been helping to lead this effort to my friends who served with me years ago on the boats of Vietnam, we will come back and remind America that some of us know something about aircraft carriers for real and we intend to make clear -- and if George Bush -- if George Bush, Carl Rove and Ed Gillespie and company want to make national security the central issue of this campaign we have three words for them we know they understand, bring it on. We're ready for that debate.

So, tonight I reach out to all Americans, those who have not yet joined in this effort and those who have because we need to reclaim our own democracy in the United States.

We need to push away the big money of American politics. We need to bring so many young people who have lost faith in the system back to believing that this can be and is a noble profession, that all of our individually can make a difference, that our generation is now called on to write our portion of American history and I ask those who haven't yet joined us, go to JohnKerry.com, become part of the extended family of this effort.

Share your ideas, share your thoughts, share your lives and hopes with us, because together we can change the direction of our country.

(APPLAUSE)

I want to thank so many people. But I begin by thanking my amazing wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, who has...

(APPLAUSE)

Everywhere I go, people say, "I wanted to see Teresa."

(LAUGHTER)

So I'm getting to be the guy who accompanies Teresa around the United States of America, which is just fine by me. And I'll tell you, it's obviously proven fine by a lot of folks who've loved meeting her.

I want to thank all the members of my family...

(APPLAUSE)

... my brothers and sisters, the members of my extended family.

BROWN: John Kerry, the winner tonight in the state of Wisconsin. Senator Edwards has also come out, as has Howard Dean, Howard Dean saying, "We are not done yet together," which may or may not mean he's staying in the race.

And John Edwards saying, "Objects in your mirror may be closer than they appear." That is the best line of the night.

Here are the numbers as we go to break. When we come back, we'll talk more about why Wisconsin turned out the way it did tonight.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: We heard Bob Dole say a little earlier tonight that Bill Schneider is one of the few people in the business who really understands the polling and exit polling. It seems like a perfectly appropriate introduction from us, too. He is our senior political analyst. And Mr. Schneider joins us tonight from Washington.

Welcome.

Well, how did Senator Edwards do it?

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, we asked the question that I call the Brooklyn question to the voters. What do you wanna do? We asked them, do you want to defeat Bush or do you wanna send a message?

Well, let's take look at the voters who said defeating Bush is the most important thing. That was a third of the voters in Wisconsin. And they went 2-1 for Kerry over Edwards. That is why John Kerry won. That's why he's been winning all along, because voters see him as electable. But take a look at what the voters who said what they really wanted to do was send a message.

They said issues were more important. That's where Edwards built up an edge over Kerry, 40-28. Edwards had a message. The message rang true in Wisconsin. It was a message about one word, jobs. Wisconsin voters care a lot about jobs, because their state has lost 75,000 jobs in the last three years.

Edwards has a populist economic message. He criticized Dean and Kerry for supporting NAFTA, which is an agreement that Wisconsin voters told us they overwhelmingly believe has cost a lot of Americans their jobs. Well, one guy certainly got that message. We just heard it. It's John Kerry, who was very critical of free trade deals and said, if he becomes president, he intends to revisit them -- Aaron. BROWN: In Wisconsin, Republicans -- it's an open primary. Republicans can vote. Independents can vote. Can we break down the numbers in such a way that we understand the importance of those two groups on the outcome?

SCHNEIDER: Yes, we can.

About 60 percent of the voters in Wisconsin were Democrats. They called themselves Democrats. And they voted very strongly, by about 20 points, for John Kerry over John Edwards. On the other hand, about 30 percent of the voters were self-described independents, who can vote in Wisconsin. They are the voters among whom John Edwards did very well.

He had a strong appeal to independent voters. So you can argue either way. You can say independent contaminated the Democratic primary and distorted the choices. On the other hand, Democrats can't win without independents. So you heard John Edwards come out and say, it's the independents who hold the key to victory in this election. That why's John Edwards says, I'd be better situated to beat George Bush because I can appeal beyond the Democratic base.

BROWN: Well, that may be the one thing that Democrats and Republicans have in common, is they can't win without independents.

SCHNEIDER: That's absolutely true.

BROWN: Bill, thank you very much -- Bill Schneider. You'll hear more from Bill at the top of the hour tonight.

Joining us now, two political analysts, Jeff Greenfield and John Harwood. John writes politics for "The Wall Street Journal." It's good to have them both with us.

Jeff, John Edwards said, those objects in your mirror may be closer than they appear. It is the line of the night, and he's not wrong.

JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SR. ANALYST: No. It's a great line, especially in contrast to John Kerry, who surprisingly sort of came out and gave a kind of modular acceptance speech.

BROWN: Yes.

GREENFIELD: The problem for John Edwards is, he is trying to make an electability argument, the one that carried John Kerry so far, namely, I can win where Kerry can't.

But there aren't any party bosses anymore. In the old days, you would make that argument and the party bosses would say, that's right. Well, there aren't any. You have to make that argument to primary voters. And John Edwards's great challenge, even if he's the object in the mirror that was closer than we thought he was, in two weeks, he's got 10 states and he's got to go those voters and say, among other things, not just, here's where I disagree with Senator Kerry, but here's where I can win. And if that argument doesn't penetrate the sheer arithmetic of what will happen on Super Tuesday, with 1151 delegates, is going to make it almost impossible for John Edwards to catch up to that automobile named John Kerry still in front of him.

BROWN: John, what's the lead? How would you write the lead for tonight?

JOHN HARWOOD, POLITICAL EDITOR, "THE WALL STREET JOURNAL": Well, I think the lead is that John Kerry has won the 15th out of 17 races that he's competed in so far. And he's the overwhelming front-runner to win the Democratic nomination.

He's not just the Yankees with Alex Rodriguez. He's the Yankees with A-Rod and Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa as well. John Edwards is a fine candidate, a better campaigner than John Kerry. But he's won one out of 17 contests. It's not impossible for him to overcome Kerry's lead, but it's extremely unlikely.

BROWN: We humans, all of us, love a little drama. We love a little excitement. And perhaps we sometimes make more of it than is there.

What I hear you saying is that, in this case, that's exactly what's happening, that close is still only second, and he lost.

HARWOOD: Aaron, he's just recovered tonight to the same level of competitiveness with John Kerry and vis-a-vis Howard Dean as well as he experienced a month ago in the Iowa caucuses.

He's got to move forward a lot more quickly than that. And the time for him to take sort of symbolic solace out of a close second place is rapidly coming to a close. You've got a national primary in effect on March the 2nd, big contests in California and New York. His strategists are already talking about California not really being a prime target.

They're looking at Georgia and Ohio and New York, perhaps. But he's got to start winning a lot of places, and very quickly, in order to catch up.

BROWN: Jeff, do you think -- a week ago, when we all gathered around and had this conversation, the opening question was, is it over?

GREENFIELD: Right.

BROWN: Clearly, it's going on.

GREENFIELD: Yes.

BROWN: It's going on. But, in a mathematical sense, is it over? Or is it in play?

GREENFIELD: No, it's not over, because -- let me just give you some number. Field Poll, January 15 in California, 32 days ago, Dean 25, Clark 20, Lieberman 12, Kerry 7. Two of those three are out of the race and Dean is hanging on by dental floss. What makes it so difficult is -- and I think this is where John is exactly right -- is, I think it was once said that close only counts in hand grenades and horseshoes. If you don't start winning and change the whole dynamic of the race, so that Democratic voters begin to see Edwards as the more electable person and somebody they like on the issues, then this thing just plays out to an inevitable conclusion.

Ohio is a perfect state for John Edwards. It's 4 percent of its manufacturing jobs. The resentment against the trade agreements run high there. Georgia may be the same. Upstate New York is an economic basket case. It's not enough. And if you're going to, among other things, sort of concede California, with 370 delegates, you've got a very, very difficult case.

Maybe the problem for John Edwards was that, when Wes Clark didn't lose Oklahoma, he didn't get the field cleared early enough. But it's still really, really difficult to see how Edwards pulls this off. But, no, it's not over.

(CROSSTALK)

HARWOOD: Aaron, could I make one point based on what Bill Schneider just told us about the partisan breakdown?

BROWN: Yes, quickly, please.

HARWOOD: John Kerry won by 20 percent among Democrats. Edwards did much better among Republicans and independents. John McCain showed in 2000 that doing well among independents and people who are not members of your party is a good formula for breaking through a couple of places, as he did in New Hampshire and Michigan, but it's not a formula for winning a major-party nomination.

BROWN: John and Jeff, thank you both.

GREENFIELD: Thank you.

BROWN: It is -- however it shakes from here on out, this thing does have another couple of weeks to go.

We'll show you the numbers, where we are right now, as our coverage continues on NEWSNIGHT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: For those of you who just may be joining us, CNN is projecting that Senator John Kerry will win tonight in the state of Wisconsin. But, clearly, it is a much closer race than any of us anticipated 48 hours ago.

Senator John Edwards of North Carolina will come in second by just a few percentage points. And we talked with the senator shortly before the program began. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN: Senator, did the race in the last 48 hours close for any particular reason, or is it just that independents in Wisconsin get to vote?

SEN. JOHN EDWARDS (D-NC), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I think it's a number of things.

No. 1, we had a debate Sunday night here, which a lot of Wisconsin voters watched. That was helpful to me. Yesterday, I got the endorsement of the state's largest newspaper, making the case that I should be the nominee, because I could attract independents and moderate Republicans and would be the most electable against George Bush. And then, on top of that, in the election, apparently today, we had a huge turnout of independents. And I won by a pretty decisive margin among that group.

BROWN: It doesn't appear you're going to win tonight, but it does appear that you are going to get exactly what you wanted, which is a one-on-one with Senator Kerry two weeks from now.

Tell me how the message changes, if the message changes, now that you've got yourself this one-on-one?

EDWARDS: I don't think it changes.

I think it's important for people to know the differences between us. I like and respect John Kerry very much. And I think he feels the same way about me, but we have differences, for example, on issues of trade. He supported NAFTA. I was against NAFTA. I've been opposed to a number of trade agreements that he supported. And I've also seen personally what the impact has been of trade and factories closing. No one has to explain that to me.

I saw what happened when the factory in my own hometown closed, what impact it had on the community and the families involved. So there are clear differences between us. Now those differences will become more apparent to Democratic voters.

BROWN: And it does seem -- you said Democratic voters. And we've been talking a bit about independent voters. And, clearly, they made a huge difference for you tonight, if our exit polling is right -- and I believe in it.

EDWARDS: Yes. Yes.

BROWN: In the states coming up in two weeks, do the independents get to vote in many, some, none? Do you know?

EDWARDS: It varies from -- it varies from state to state. I'm not an expert on it.

But what I do know is, in places like, New York, Ohio, Georgia, and in California, to some extent, this issue of jobs and the economy, which is what attracted a lot of people to me in this race in Wisconsin, is a very powerful issue. So I think there are lots of places that I'll be very strong in the upcoming primaries.

BROWN: Do you believe you can go one-on-one with the president on national security?

EDWARDS: Absolutely. Absolutely, I can.

The president is not doing the things that need to be done, in my judgment, to keep the American people safe. And I look forward very much to a debate with the president on that issue.

BROWN: Senator, where do you go tomorrow?

EDWARDS: I go home and see my kids in the morning, late tonight, early morning. Then, I head out again tomorrow afternoon, New York, New Jersey, Georgia. I'm going to be all over the place.

BROWN: Stop by and see us. Congratulations. You had a very good night tonight. You surprised a lot of people. And, clearly, this thing is not over yet.

EDWARDS: No, it's not over yet. Thank you, Aaron.

BROWN: Thank you, sir, very much.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN: Senator John Edwards.

Lawyers who have worked with him and against him say about Senator Edwards that, as a lawyer, he was the best closer in the business. He's had a couple of good closes in this campaign, one of them tonight in Wisconsin.

Here are the numbers as we have them now.

When we come back, a look at a convention that still might be, but for now remains Jeff Greenfield's fantasy.

We'll be right back. This is NEWSNIGHT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: At the risk of getting way ahead of ourselves, we believe this summer's presidential nominating conventions in Boston and New York will be utterly predictable and, unless you love speechmaking, boring, to boot. We mean no disrespect, but these things have become political TV programs, carefully staged and crafted to avoid making any real news.

But what if it didn't play out that way? What if instead it was like the good old days? What if Jeff Greenfield's dream came true?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CROWD: Kerry! Kerry! Kerry!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kerry, Kerry. The chanting is under way here.

JOE KLEIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It's hard to see anybody who can successfully challenge this guy.

JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC: The party's over.

DONNA BRAZILE, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: It's almost over but the shouting.

GREENFIELD (voice-over): Unless things change Pretty quickly, John Kerry will have the nomination wrapped up well before the coming of spring, just as George W. Bush did in 2000, just like Al Gore did that same year, just like Bob Dole did in 1996. And you know what that means?

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC: It means everybody for V.P.

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS: Who John Kerry may think about as a running mate.

GREENFIELD: Four-and-a-half months where the only political story is who the running mate will be. Boy, that will get the heart rate up there.

And then the convention. Do we watch that four-day home shopping spectacle or do we go down to Main Street to the watch haircuts?

(on camera): Boy, wouldn't it be great to cover just one presidential race where the candidates ran hard all through spring and summer, and we went to a convention where we didn't know what was going to happen? Imagine.

(voice-over): We'd see credentials fights.

NARRATOR: And a floor for their...

GREENFIELD: Like in 1952, different slates, each claiming to represent their home states.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were supposed to have a caucus of 45 minutes.

GREENFIELD: We'd listen to politicians furiously denounce each other, like when Senator Ev Dirksen said to failed nominee Tom Dewey.

SEN. EVERETT DIRKSEN, ILLINOIS: We followed you before, and you took us down the road to defeat. And don't do this to us.

GREENFIELD: Or like in Chicago in 1968, when Senator Abe Ribicoff called out Chicago Mayor Richard Daley.

SEN. ABE RIBICOFF, CONNECTICUT: And with George McGovern is president of the United States, we wouldn't have to have gestapo tactics in the streets of Chicago!

GREENFIELD: We'd have conservatives and liberals yelling at each other, the way New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller was booed in 1964.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And we bid you goodbye.

GREENFIELD: Maybe there would walkouts, the way Southern Democrats left the hall in 1948 after the party passed a strong civil rights plank, and roll calls where we didn't know who would win, like when Democrats fought over the vice presidential slot in 1956, or when Reagan and Ford battled it out 20 years later, and maybe, just maybe we would even have:

(on camera): A brokered convention.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two hundred and eighty.

GREENFIELD (voice-over): We'd go to a second, a third, a fourth ballot, while party bosses huddled in smoke-filled rooms to pick a surprise candidate.

(on camera): Sorry, folks. The big bands are not coming back. TV is not a passing fad. Jet travel is here to stay. There are no more party bosses. And smoke-filled rooms are against the law. There won't be any brokered convention anytime soon, but we can dream, can't we?

Jeff Greenfield, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN: Morning papers and the numbers as we have them.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(ROOSTER CROWING)

BROWN: OK, time to check morning papers from around the country and around the world.

This is a tough night for newspaper editors with late-breaking news. Anyway, we'll start with "The International Herald Tribune," and you'll see the problem later, when we get to the election domestically.

I like this story. "In Iraqi City, a Dangerous Trade. Islamic Influence Rises And So Do Attacks on Alcohol Vendors," the complications of the new Iraq in "The Herald Tribune."

I don't know how many saw this picture the other day. This is "The Guardian," a British picture, a picture supposedly of John Kerry and Jane Fonda. And what they've done is, they showed the original pictures. This is a fake. It's a doctored picture. It's totally phony. Here's the original picture up there of Senator Kerry, a young man, and Ms. Fonda there. And somebody put them together. And it's a reminder to all of us to be very careful in this election year. "The Boston Herald" got it right, I would say. "Not Over Yet" is the headline. "Kerry Barely Beats Edwards in Wisconsin." That's the way they led the story. Up in the corner by the way, that's Alex Rodriguez, "Sox's Newest Enemy." He signed -- or the trade was official today. He showed up in the Bronx. And that's what makes it official.

About a minute left. "The Philadelphia Inquirer." "Kerry Leads Edwards in Tight Wisconsin Race." That's the best that they could come up with. It's a tough night, as we said, for the newspaper editors who have an early deadline. I suspect they're remaking a lot of front pages.

What do we got here? "Judge Refuses to Halt Weddings" the lead in "The San Francisco Chronicle." "Same-Sex Couples Continue Lining Up at City Hall." Also, "Kerry Looks Like Victor in Wisconsin Primary." This is a terrible story out of Detroit, "The Detroit Free Press" tonight for tomorrow morning, "Contempt in Court. You come out of a car shooting. That's not a mistake. That's murder. Family, cops, can't contain anger as suspect is arraigned," a 23-year-old man accused of murdering two young, a 26 and 21-year-old, Detroit police officers yesterday.

And that is morning papers. We'll wrap up the day in a moment.

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