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Dean Wins Vermont Primary

Aired March 2, 2004 - 19:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: This is a CNN America Votes 2004 special presentation. Super Tuesday. Ten states, 1,151 delegates. Will the race for the Democratic presidential nomination be settled tonight?
This is America Votes 2004 coverage of super Tuesday. Now, from the CNN election headquarters, Wolf Blitzer.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to the start of a vitally important night in the United States politics. It's called super Tuesday, because this is the largest one-day jackpot of states and all-important convention delegates. John Edwards' campaign is hoping for some momentum with a win in the Southern state of Georgia. The results are just coming in on a night that could, could be full of some surprises.

It's 7:00 p.m. on the East Coast, and the polls have just closed in Georgia and Vermont, and in fact we have our first surprise of the night. CNN will project, in fact is projecting that Howard Dean, yes Howard Dean who dropped out of this race only in the past few weeks, Howard Dean will win his home state of Vermont. That's somewhat of a surprise, Judy.

JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: It is, Wolf. You know Howard Dean literally started a wildfire in American politics this year and this is the people who live in his home state, this is their way of saying thank you Governor Dean. We appreciate what you did. We know you did something significant, even though he's out of the race.

JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SR. ANALYST: There were actually television commercials on in Vermont by Dean supporter saying go to the polls, not just to say thank you but to give him a presence, keep his issues alive, maybe get him some delegates, so he could have some role at the convention. And the folks of Vermont, one of the more unusual states in American politics, the only state with a socialist Congressman said OK, governor thanks.

BLITZER: This important note, we want to just add that John Edwards was not, repeat not on the ballot in Vermont. John Kerry was. Howard Dean projected to be the winner in Vermont.

We're also following a vitally important state. The polls have now closed right here in Georgia. Kerry and Edwards and at this point CNN is not in a position to make a call who will win this critically important state -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Wolf, this is a very important state. In fact, you could say this is a must win state for John Edwards. It's the south. It's his home turf. It's a state he campaigned hard in. He campaigned on the economy. He campaigned as a fellow southerner. He must win Georgia in order to keep going.

BLITZER: The exit polls clearly at this point, the polls have just closed, not in a position to give us hard enough information to make a projected call.

GREENFIELD: No, so clearly that we're not even going to even play with those numbers. We'll just let people know, as you say, we can't call it yet and, by the way, even if Edwards pulls out Georgia there are nine other states, one for Dean, either other states.

It's even hard to see how he stays in the race if he just wins Georgia and loses such trivial states as California, New York, Ohio and Minnesota but the night is young.

BLITZER: All right. The night is still very young. Vermont and Georgia the polls now closed. Our correspondents have been covering the candidates obviously. Candy Crowley is monitoring the Kerry campaign in Washington, D.C. Kelly Wallace is with the Edwards campaign here in Georgia.

Let's begin with Kelly, Georgia critically important to John Edwards -- Kelly.

KELLY WALLACE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, going into tonight, John Edwards' advisers thought two states represented their best chances for victory, Minnesota and here in Georgia, Georgia being the only southern state in this next round of contests.

Now to give you a sense of what is happening behind the scenes, aides are not exactly returning phone calls right now or e-mails. One source though knowledgeable with the inner workings of the campaign saying there is nothing to report just yet.

What is supposed to happen later tonight, Senator John Edwards and the entire traveling press corps, we are all expected to get on a plane and head to Dallas, Texas where Senator Edwards is planning to campaign tomorrow in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, some of the states holding contests on March 9th.

But a Democratic source is telling CNN that there are some signals that John Edwards will make decisions about next steps tonight. He has been saying publicly that he is in this race to win the nomination. His advisers are very, very loyal so behind the scenes they are not saying anything about possible options.

But reading between the lines if John Edwards is not able to pull off any victories tonight, he may conclude Wolf, that it is time to wrap up this campaign -- Wolf.

BLITZER: He will no doubt be under enormous pressure from Democratic Party insiders to do precisely that.

Candy Crowley is covering John Kerry's campaign. Candy is in Washington, D.C. tonight -- Candy.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, this is obviously a roll to the nomination. It's a slow roll, John Kerry going very carefully trying not to step on John Edwards.

We are told that tonight he will begin to thank the Democrats who have begun to gather around John Kerry, sort of coalescing around someone.

They are also, in fact, going to be talking a little bit about the definitions in the race that is how John Kerry will separate himself from George Bush. We're told that he will, in fact, draw the clearest line yet between George Bush and himself -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Candy Crowley reporting for us from the Kerry campaign.

Our Senior Political Analyst Bill Schneider is taking a very close look at the exit poll numbers that we're getting here in Georgia, very important state for John Edwards. What are we learning, Bill?

BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: What we're learning is the reason why this race in Georgia is still pretty close. Let's take a look at white voters and African American voters here in Georgia.

Among white voters, Edwards is ahead by 23 points, 57 to 34. Clearly, Edwards has a very big edge among the white primary voters in Georgia, where I should point out that Independents and Republicans could participate. It's an open primary.

But among African American voters, who are over 40 percent of the vote in the Georgia Democratic primary, Kerry wins by almost three-to- one, 62 to 21. Kerry, the favorite of African American voters in Georgia who make up nearly half the vote and Edwards is the favorite among white voters in Georgia. That is why this race in Georgia is so hot and still too close for us to call.

BLITZER: All right, Bill Schneider carefully, carefully as he always does crunching the numbers for us.

Our Political Analyst Carlos Watson is here at CNN Election Headquarters as well. What do you make of this seemingly close contest here in Georgia?

CARLOS WATSON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It's extraordinarily interesting, not only because of what's happening in Georgia but if you look across the road at Maryland where actually John Edwards' strongest base of support is among African Americans there. The Congressman in Prince George's County, a wealthy African American district, came out and endorsed John Edwards.

And so, while in Georgia we'll look at the white vote, in Maryland one of the things we may look closely at is the African American vote. Very interesting race in Georgia, notice in Georgia that John Edwards did not get a critical newspaper endorsement. Instead "The Atlanta Journal-Constitution" ultimately backed John Kerry and we know that in the past these newspaper endorsements have been extraordinarily helpful to John Edwards. That's something else to watch there.

BLITZER: We've seen in several states coming in to tonight that John Edwards does have a tendency to surge in the final days before a contest, more on that coming up. Carlos thanks very much.

And, as we said, just a few moments ago the polls now closed here in Georgia, as well as in Vermont but contests continue in eight other states.

Judy Woodruff has a look now at how this evening may unfold, a viewers' guide, right Judy?

WOODRUFF: That's right and, Wolf, just before I turn to that, I want -- one of the little pieces of intelligence we picked up today and that is today in Washington there was a meeting of the trial lawyers. They, of course, have been a huge support group for John Edwards.

Among them today they were saying strong speculation John Edwards will either pull out tomorrow or lay the groundwork for pulling out. So, signals starting to come in that John Edwards may be thinking about moving out.

But you're right, Wolf, there are 86 delegates up for grabs in Georgia, 15 in Vermont but we're going to have to wait a while for the polls to close in the biggest delegate prizes of this night.

At 7:30 Eastern the polls close in Ohio. The Buckeye State is tonight's third largest prize of 140 delegates.

At 8:00 Eastern, polls close in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Maryland. Ninety-three delegates are at stake in John Kerry's home state of Massachusetts. Connecticut has 49 delegates at stake. Maryland offers 69 convention delegates.

At 9:00 Eastern, polls close in Rhode Island and New York. It's also when the night's only caucuses come to a close. Minnesota's Democratic caucuses will select 72 convention delegates.

Twenty-one delegates are on the line in Rhode Island's primary. But at 9:00 p.m. most eyes will be on the Empire State. New York's 236 delegates are the second biggest prize of the night.

We'll have to wait at least another two hours for the awarding of the big prize though. The polls in California close at 11:00 p.m. Eastern. A whopping 370 delegates are up for grabs, truly making California live up to its nickname the Golden State.

So, Wolf, 33 percent of the population of the United States if you add up all these states voting today in these contests. Again, it is the single biggest day of voting before general election in November. BLITZER: That's why we call it Super Tuesday.

WOODRUFF: Exactly.

BLITZER: It's a Super Tuesday. Jeff Greenfield, as we always do on these nights, whether they're super or not, you look at four questions that you think we should take a look at, at the beginning of the night.

GREENFIELD: I do and the answers will decide whether John Kerry passes over from a candidate for the nomination to effectively a candidate for the presidency.

The first question was there a late Edwards surge? We saw it in Iowa. We saw it in Tennessee. We saw it in Wisconsin. Late deciding voters broke heavily for Edwards. Did that pattern continue tonight?

Next who won the electability primary? Did Edwards win among independents and moderate Republicans, the folks he says a Democrat must reach in November? And did he persuade Democrats in any state that he would be the stronger candidate against George W. Bush?

Third, did the trade issue matter? This issue was the biggest policy difference Edwards said he had with Kerry. Was it a key voting issue anywhere and, if so, who won?

And finally, are we now onto November? In other words, has Kerry not mathematically but effectively won the nomination and is this general election underway months and months early? This is what we're going to find out in just a few short hours.

BLITZER: In a few short hours we'll have the answers to all four of those questions.

GREENFIELD: One can only hope.

BLITZER: We hope, all right.

Let's bring back Bill Schneider. Bill, Vermont, Howard Dean who is not even running anymore wins his home state of Vermont. You're looking closely at what happened there, somewhat of a surprise. We thought John Kerry would win Vermont in New England, his home region.

SCHNEIDER: Especially since Howard Dean has suspended his campaign. Were the voters of Vermont making an anti-Kerry statement? Well, we have evidence. Look at this. We asked the primary voters in Vermont would you be satisfied if John Kerry wins the nomination and two-thirds of them said yes, only 30 percent no.

What they were saying is this was not an anti-Kerry vote in Vermont. It was a statement that they were making that they like Howard Dean, that they resent the fact that they didn't get to vote before he suspended his campaign and effectively got out of the race. So, they were making a pro Dean statement but not an anti-Kerry statement and that's important to note -- wolf.

BLITZER: Vermont going for Howard Dean. All right, Bill Schneider thanks very much.

And, as we said just a few moments ago, the polls will close at the bottom of the hour in Ohio, the Buckeye State, the home state of Congressman and presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich.

Coming up next they are all here, Carville, Begala, Carlson and Novak in the "CROSSFIRE," as our live coverage of this Super Tuesday continues.


BLITZER: That was the beautiful skyline of Atlanta, Georgia where we are tonight following developments on this Super Tuesday. Ten states having contests, nine primaries, one caucus, 1,151 delegates up for grabs. We have already made one projected winner tonight.

In Vermont, look at this, Howard Dean, Howard Dean the winner of his home state, the former governor of Vermont beating John Kerry. John Edwards was not on the ballot but Howard Dean the hometown favorite winning his home state of Vermont.

But in Georgia, it's a very different picture right now. Based on our exit poll results we cannot project a winner, at least not yet between John Kerry and John Edwards, Georgia, the southern state, very important for John Edwards as he attempts to continue his race for the White House.

Watching all of tonight's developments here at the CNN Center are the four hosts of "CROSSFIRE," Paul Begala, Tucker Carlson, Bob Novak and James Carville.

James, let's begin with you, your early assessment of what's happening tonight.

JAMES CARVILLE, CO-HOST "CROSSFIRE": Well, my assessment is that the people of Vermont did I think an utterly decent thing. Howard Dean did a lot for the Democratic Party. He gave it some backbone. He energized a lot of people.

I don't think he was the guy that the Democrats wanted or I wanted to be the nominee but he did a lot and Vermont is an utterly decent state with decent people and this is a very interesting story and I congratulate them on giving Governor Dean this victory. This is a marvelous thing these Vermont Democrats did.

ROBERT NOVAK, CO-HOST "CROSSFIRE": I might have to throw up. I can't hardly stand it because the one thing I expect from you is a lack of hypocrisy. The way you pounded, James, on the show the way you pounded Howard Dean.


NOVAK: Just a minute. Let me talk. I listened to you as an idiot, as somebody who would bring the party into disrepute. What comes around goes around. You see he started as the candidate from the people's republic of Vermont, this crazy little state.

I mean I think they're barely on probation as a state and they over tax their people. Who wants to live there but left wingers? And, that's the only place he got and now he gets the only state he can win. They're too dumb to even know he's out of the race.

TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST "CROSSFIRE": Well, I personally I'm glad -- I'm glad to see it for a couple reasons. One, the dream has not died. Here's a candidate who demanded as basically his campaign platform that Osama bin Laden get a fair trial, OK. So, it's not initially a mainstream platform and yet people are still supporting him. Second...

NOVAK: In Vermont.

CARLSON: In Vermont but his core message was the Washington Democratic establishment is corrupt and they (unintelligible). They don't represent the people and I think there are a lot of Democrats out there who feel that way and I'm glad they have a voice.

PAUL BEGALA, CO-HOST "CROSSFIRE": His message was that we need to take on President Bush and he did give his party back its spine. He did give his party back its soul. Two years ago my friend James put a garbage can over his head. We were so ashamed at how Democrats had laid down in front of the Bush juggernaut in 2002. No more. And today the Democrats are beating Bush because in part because of people like Howard Dean is again standing up to him.

CARVILLE: I've been to Vermont. I've been to the University of Vermont. They're some of the nicest people in America. And you know what, they like a native son and what's wrong with that? I think it's a perfect thing (unintelligible).

NOVAK: Well, I'll tell you what it is. Connecticut, which is the same state they had a native son. They're going to give him about two percent of the vote today. And I'll tell you this...

BEGALA: In George W. Bush's native state they didn't vote for him.

NOVAK: I got to do, I got to do a little bit of truth telling here.

BEGALA: Just a little though.

NOVAK: You guys, you guys sat across from me and pounded Howard Dean.

BEGALA: I did.

NOVAK: And now you're just coming up with this.


CARVILLE: I don't think he would have been a wise choice for the nominee. (CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: Vermont did an ultimately wise thing in and they showed that they're good people to give their native son a primary.

CARLSON: I don't even disagree with you but don't you think he's injected the essential poison into this campaign which is this completely over the top...

NOVAK: Absolutely.

CARLSON: ...hateful rhetoric that in the end isn't good for your party.

NOVAK: But they like that.

CARLSON: It's not good. It's not good to dehumanize your opponent and he started that.

BEGALA: No. He didn't go to Bob Jones University. He didn't spread rumors that John McCain's wife had his children. He didn't do any of the king of things that George W. Bush did.


BEGALA: I guess the big story of tonight is not going to be Vermont. It's going to be right here in Georgia.

BLITZER: All right.

BEGALA: We don't have anything back yet from that, Wolf, but us the "CROSSFIRE" gang or at least this member of our team I want to know what's going to happen here in the Peach State.

BLITZER: All right. We're going to get to much more on Georgia. We're going to let all you guys weigh in on what's happening in Georgia, Vermont interesting but clearly not the important story what's unfolding on this night.

Bill Schneider is taking a much closer look right now at what's happening in Georgia and remember because of the exit polls we are not in a position, at least not yet, to project a winner between John Kerry and John Edwards here in Georgia. What are we learning Bill?

SCHNEIDER: We're learning that in Georgia there wasn't just the presidential primary. There was also a referendum, a non-binding referendum on a choice between two state flags, neither of which was the Confederate flag.

Now among those voters who said they came out to vote because they cared more about the state flag than the presidential race, Edwards won by a solid 12-point margin. That's one of the reasons Edwards is so competitive in Georgia because a lot of people voted not primarily in the presidential race but on the state flag.

But two-thirds of the voters said that they wanted to vote mainly for president and that's where Kerry is doing very well. It's the state flag referendum that's giving Edwards a big boost here in Georgia.

BLITZER: Thanks, Bill.

I want Judy to -- come back to Judy on this state flag issue in Georgia. It's a sensitive subject, not only here in Georgia but throughout the south. Explain briefly to our viewers what's going on.

WOODRUFF: Well, to make it, to try to simplify what is actually a very complicated story is that years ago Georgia did have a flag for many years that was based on the Confederate battle flag, the very family cross with the stars in it.

A few years ago, the former Democratic governor of Georgia said let's change that and many people think he rammed it through the Georgia Legislature. He would argue differently.

There was a big backlash. Roy Barnes, that Democratic governor, was voted out of office. His successor Republican Sonny Perdue then with others came up with another design of the flag. We may have those to show our viewers.

And, Wolf, what the people of Georgia are voting on now is this new Sonny Perdue flag which is actually based on the Confederate national emblem, not the Confederate battle emblem. We want to make sure there's a distinction between those two.

There they are. On the right that's the Sonny Perdue, the newer flag. On the left that's the Roy Barnes flag, the flag that really that caused him to be voted out of office last year.

BLITZER: This wasn't much of an issue at least in the last week though in Georgia. It's become more of an issue.

GREENFIELD: It has because emotionally the hot blood flag is not on the ballot and it kind of will surprise people if this was a voting issue.

I just want to point out very quickly one thing about Edwards in Georgia. He spent seven campaign days in Georgia, more than any other Super Tuesday state. He outspent John Kerry on television $226,000 to $166,000 in the west. Clearly, this is where Edwards put all of his marbles and we'll find out whether it's paid off.

BLITZER: And the strategy, Carlos Watson, for both Edwards and Kerry in Georgia has evolved over the past few days.

WATSON: It has significantly. Edwards early on was looking for Independent voters only but ultimately, as Jeff suggested, also tried to rally African American voters as well.

Kerry, fearing that this could be a much tougher challenge than expected, one of the things he did that we saw him do originally in New Hampshire and we saw him do it again in Wisconsin. He did several last minute day of the election interviews with local TV stations, did three this afternoon in fact, again worried that this could be a tight race. So, a very interesting race, very interesting contest, the only contest in the south and we'll continue to look around the country for evidence of a trend.

BLITZER: Jeff, even if, even if John Edwards were to win Georgia, albeit narrowly what does that mean?

GREENFIELD: Well, I'm really glad you asked that question this way because in the context of Super Tuesday with ten primaries, with huge states, New York, California, Ohio one of the big battleground states for November, for a South Carolina born North Carolina Senator to win only in Georgia of these ten states and then have two primary wins, South Carolina and Georgia as against if Kerry sweeps everywhere else, it's hard to know what the argument is to keep going even if he were to pull it out.

WOODRUFF: But I would just submit, Wolf, we all know that a week from today is so-called Southern Tuesday with four southern states voting. You know that John Edwards and all the people around him would love to go ahead and compete next week.

So, if they don't win Georgia it's hard to see how he stays in. If he wins Georgia that could be, you know, for purposes of argument enough to push him over and say all right, I'll stay in here for one more week and compete on my home turf more broadly.

GREENFIELD: And, in fairness, he could say look Georgia is exactly the kind of state you need a Democrat to compete in. You've got Zell Miller, the Democratic Senator who's endorsed George Bush for reelection, the first Republican governor since reconstruction.

The Democrats used to compete in Georgia. Gore lost it by I think double digits. So that's the argument Edwards will make. Whether or not the rest of the Democratic Party is going to buy it unless he wins something else, (unintelligible).

WOODRUFF: That's a tough argument.

BLITZER: And he wants to have some credibility. He doesn't want to just continue if he's going to be a laughing stock. He's a proud man after all is said and done.

All right, guys, stand by. We're only what less than seven minutes away from the polls closing in Ohio, a huge prize, 140 delegates up for grabs tonight.

And looking ahead to the top of the hour Connecticut, Maryland and Massachusetts will take center stage. Our special coverage of Super Tuesday will continue.


BLITZER: You're looking at a live picture of Cincinnati, Ohio. In about three and a half minutes the polls will be closed in Cincinnati, up for grabs 140 delegates, a huge prize. Once those polls close we'll report what we know is happening in the Buckeye State.

We do know what has already happened in Vermont, namely that Howard Dean, yes Howard Dean the former governor of Vermont, the former presidential candidate has carried his home state of Vermont. That's somewhat of a surprise over John Kerry. John Edwards did not run. He was not on the ballot in Vermont.

In Georgia, too close to call, at least we can't call it yet based on the information that we're getting from our exit polls, John Kerry and John Edwards, 86 delegates up for grabs in Georgia.

We're watching that as is Bill Schneider, our Senior Political Analyst. Give our viewers, Bill, a little insight. What's happening here in Georgia?

SCHNEIDER: What's happening in Georgia is it's an open primary. Democrats can vote. It's a Democratic primary but so can Independents and Republicans and that makes a big difference.

Let's look at people who say I'm a Democrat. They're voting by a big margin, 57 to 33, for John Kerry, the Massachusetts Democrat here in Georgia but there are almost a third of the voters in Georgia who were Independents or even Republicans and they're the ones who are giving Edwards a big lead, 58 to 24 over John Kerry.

So, the reason Georgia is too close to call is they allow non- Democrats to vote. Anyone can vote in the Democratic Primary in Georgia. There's no party registration and the non-Democrats, the Independents and Republicans, are voting very heavily for John Edwards.

BLITZER: What do you make of that Judy?

WOODRUFF: I think that's another warning sign for John Kerry because, Wolf, we've seen in state after state as strongly as John Kerry does with Democratic voters he has not done as well with Independent voters, with voters who lean to the middle and to win this election he's not only got to sweep the Democrats, he's got to pick up some people in the middle. He's got to be thinking about that.


GREENFIELD: Well, I think we're going to put a very sharp eye on Ohio, which also is an open primary and see whether Republicans and Independents are doing the same thing there.

The other interesting question is, is there any strategic voting going on? I'm always dubious about this but are Republicans going to the polls in Georgia and voting for Edwards just to mess Kerry up a little bit? We saw a little bit of that in Wisconsin. I have no idea. Maybe Bill Schneider later tonight will be able to tell us that, a very sophisticated question.

BLITZER: Donna Brazile is here as well. She knows politics, Democratic politics about as well as anyone. What's your initial take on what's happened in Vermont and Georgia so far?

DONNA BRAZILE, FORMER GORE CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Well, first of all, Howard Dean was a very well liked governor in Vermont. I'm not surprised that the people went out there and supported him today.

In Georgia, look Georgia is a very complicated state. You have the south, the south voting one way, the Atlanta suburb going another way. I believe that John Kerry will win. It will be very, very close but John Edwards is picking up a lot of votes. He's picking up rural votes.

He's picking up votes in areas where Democrats really don't pick up a lot of votes, so I think you're right. There is some crossover taking place, perhaps some mischief if you know what I mean.

BLITZER: And we're standing by to go to Ohio once the polls close and that will be very soon. As you take a look though at Georgia, even if Edwards wins will it be enough?

BRAZILE: No. I think it will be very difficult for him to overtake John Kerry's tremendous lead in delegates.

BLITZER: All right, Donna stand by. I want our viewers to stand by as well because in about ten seconds the polls will be closed in Ohio, the Buckeye State, a huge prize tonight, the Buckeye State clearly a battleground for the Democrats as well looking ahead to November.

And CNN is now able to project a winner in Ohio. Look at this, John Kerry the winner in Ohio, CNN projecting he will go on...


BLITZER: As we just learned here on CNN. John Edwards, the senator from North Carolina, the Democratic presidential candidate, expected to speak to his supporters here in Atlanta, Georgia, within the next half-hour or so. CNN, of course, will have live coverage of that. We're watching all of the political developments tonight, including in Ohio, where we've projected, now that the polls are closed in Ohio, that John Kerry will carry the Buckeye State. John Kerry the winner in Ohio.

In Vermont, earlier, we projected that Howard Dean, the former governor of Vermont, will carry his home state even though he has formally dropped out of the presidential contest.

In Georgia, though, a very different situation, the match-up between John Edwards and John Kerry. Right now, we are not in a position to project a winner. The ballots are being counted, the polls have closed in Georgia, but we're not yet able to predict who will win, John Kerry or John Edwards.

Ohio, though, John Kerry the winner. We projected him the winner. Bill Schneider is taking a closer look at some of the numbers.

What resulted in this win for John Kerry in Ohio, Bill?

SCHNEIDER: Well, I pointed out a few minutes ago that in Georgia, Democrats voted for Kerry, Independents voted for Edwards. And Jeff raised the question, was that true also in Ohio? Let's look and see.

Among Independents in Ohio, yes, Edwards edged out John Kerry among voters who describe themselves as Independents. Among Democrats who voted in the Ohio primary, which was open to Independents, like Georgia, Kerry had a clear lead. So clearly, among the Democratic Party base, they lined up behind John Kerry solidly, a 25-point victory.

But among those Independents allowed to vote, Ohio, just as in Georgia -- now go look at union members, a very big lead for John Kerry over Edwards among union members, a very important constituency. Ohio is a big union state. The Democratic base, Democrats, union members, lined up for Kerry. But among the Independents allowed to vote in Georgia and in Ohio, Edwards did have a lead.

So that's a very big argument that Edwards can try to make to stay in the race. He can reach beyond the Democratic base, which, so far, in those primaries, Kerry has not won.

BLITZER: All right. Bill Schneider, thanks very much.

Let's take a look at some of the early returns we're getting, real votes coming in first to Georgia, the race we're not yet able to project a winner. But look at this, with one percent of the vote now in, 42 percent going for John Edwards, 40 percent for John Kerry. Very, very preliminary early returns in Georgia.

In Vermont, also early returns. We projected that Howard Dean will be the winner. Fifty-three percent so far going to Howard Dean, 38 percent for John Kerry. In Ohio, we've also projected that John Kerry will carry Ohio, a key battleground state.

Our senior White House correspondent, John King, is joining us now.

John, no Republican has ever been elected president of the United States without carrying Ohio. Republicans clearly looking at the Buckeye State as well.

JOHN KING, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: They are looking, Wolf. And, make no mistake about it, the president will target Ohio aggressively. You mentioned the history. The president has already been there, even in recent days, promoting his economic proposals. And Ohio is one of the states that, come Thursday morning, will get the first wave of the Bush-Cheney campaign's more than $100 million war chest.

The first TV campaign ads from President Bush will air beginning Thursday morning. And they will be positive ads, but it's like a card game. You play your first card thinking about how you might play your fourth or fifth card. In these ads, the president will say that he inherited a recession, that he helped lead the economy back to what he will say is growing prosperity. He also, of course, will hit the theme in these ads that he led the country through the attacks on the World Trade Center.

Wolf, the president's bottom-line message in these ads -- and it is a statement the president has made to top aides as well -- is that he will campaign on this theme: that he knows exactly where he wants to lead the country. Now, why will the president say that now? Because in later ads, when they start to go after Senator John Kerry, who they believe will be the fall opponent, the Bush White House will make the case that if you look at his Senate record, if you look at the things he has said in the campaign, that he has waffled, that he has taken several positions on major issues.

So what they're trying to say, Wolf, in this first wave of ads is to set up the American people for a contrast. That you may not like all of President Bush's decisions, but you know what he is going to do, and that you will not know what Senator Kerry would do as president because, again, in the view of the Bush campaign, he waffles quite a bit. But the first wave, about $4.5 million in ad spending, will hit TV first thing Thursday morning -- Wolf.

BLITZER: And as we stand by for more polls, John, to close in the next 15 minutes or so, these ads that the Bush-Cheney campaign are about to release this week, they accelerated their time frame, their schedule to get these ads out earlier. Tell our viewers why.

KING: They did, indeed, because the president's numbers are dropping. Senator Kerry, even Senator Edwards, now leads President Bush in national campaign polls. Now, the Bush White House, on the one hand, says that's not a big surprise. On the other hand, the president's approval rating has dropped, hovering right around 50 percent. That's the danger zone for incumbents.

So they decided to get on TV a bit earlier, a few weeks earlier than expected, with positive ads designed to boost the president's political standing, to boost his approval rating. And then if they feel it necessary, they will come back with some contrast ads, or negative ads.

And, Wolf, as another sign that the Bush White House believes that Senator Kerry will, in fact, after tonight, have a virtual lock on the Democratic nomination, we are told that the president is already now beginning to look at media interview transcripts, the transcripts of the Democratic debates. He is analyzing all of Senator Kerry's answers to the big questions on the big issues. Not Senator Edwards' answers, Senator Kerry's.

BLITZER: All right. John King, at the White House. We'll of course be checking back with you as well. We know people at the White House, the building behind John King, are watching all of this very, very closely.

We're also standing by to hear from John Edwards, the Democratic presidential candidate. You're looking at live pictures now, his campaign headquarters, at least on this night here in Atlanta, Georgia. Our Kelly Wallace told us we expect to hear from John Edwards maybe in the next 20, 30 minutes or so. We will have live coverage of that.

We're also standing by to speak with our "CROSSFIRE" co-hosts. All four of them want to weigh in on what is happening tonight. They won't be shy; we promise you that.

Much more coverage of this Super Tuesday when we return.


BLITZER: In 10 minutes, the polls will be closing in Maryland, Connecticut and Massachusetts. We'll have coverage of that as soon as the polls close there. Let's update our viewers what we know so far.

Ohio, John Kerry the projected winner of Ohio, the primary there. John Kerry, the Democratic front-runner, will carry Ohio.

In Vermont, Howard Dean, the former governor of Vermont, no longer a presidential candidate, we project he will win. Right now, he's got about 53 percent of the vote in, with 11 percent of the vote, the actual vote, in to 39 percent for John Kerry. John Edwards' name was not on the ballot.

Georgia, though, we cannot yet project a winner. We simply don't know. In the early results that are in, with 3 percent of the vote now in, 45 percent for Edwards, 42 percent for Kerry.

As we told our viewers, about nine minutes from now the polls will be closed in Maryland, the state that John Edwards hoped to do well in. We'll know better soon how he actually did. But our Bob Franken is in the state capital of Annapolis at a polling station there.

Give us a little flavor, Bob, what has happened in Maryland.

BOB FRANKEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, what has not happened is a huge surge of voters. Unless things change at the very last minute, election officials say this is no different than any other primary. Of course, in other states, the primaries have had a big surge of voters because of the presence of such an interesting Democratic race. And there are many people who are considered experts here who say it may be that there are some doldrums here because people decided that this race is over.

Now, Maryland was a state, as you pointed out, that John Edwards considered competitive. As recently as just a couple of days ago, the polls were showing there was only a seven or eight-point spread between Kerry and Edwards. But there is some feeling now that that may have changed. We're going to find that result.

Maryland is a state that only has 69 delegates that are going to make a contribution. But it can also be a state that gives John Edwards a big surprise -- and, by now, it would be a huge surprise -- or a state that gives him another disappointment -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Bob. We'll be going to Maryland, of course, as soon as the polls close, in about eight minutes from now. Connecticut and Massachusetts, the polls will be closing then as well.

Let's go back to our "CROSSFIRE" co-hosts. They're all here at the CNN election headquarters at the CNN Center: Tucker Carlson, James Carville, Paul Begala and Bob Novak.

Bob, Ohio a very important state for the Democrats. Also for the Republicans.

NOVAK: Yes. I think the fact that, according to our calculations, Senator Kerry has won there in a landslide is very important, because Senator Edwards was playing the protectionist game. He was kind of a latter-day protectionist, but he was coming off with talking about job loss, talking about the need to keep foreign products out, to change the trade agreements, and it didn't work a bit in Ohio.

He did clearly differentiate himself from that, from Kerry. But I have never seen protectionism in the long run work for anybody, John Connelly, Fritz Mondale, Dick Gephardt, nobody.

BEGALA: In fact, John Kerry, if the exit polls are accurate -- and they've been inaccurate in some of these other states -- I'll give you that caveat -- John Kerry won among union members in Ohio today. That's a big deal, because he went to Ohio and was asked, "Can you stop the export of American jobs?" And he said, "No."

He said I have policies that...

NOVAK: So you agree with me, then.

BEGALA: I think that Kerry has certainly done a good job there. I don't think that Edwards has been particularly protectionist.

CARLSON: Well, wait -- oh, no, wait.

NOVAK: Of course he's been protectionist.

BEGALA: No, he just wants to modify NAFTA. Dennis Kucinich wants to reject NAFTA. That's protectionist.

NOVAK: No. He campaigned, he said, I voted against this agreement, I voted against that agreement.

BEGALA: That's right.

NOVAK: I voted against this agreement. Come on. He tried to play the protectionist card and was rejected.

CARLSON: I'm not sure about that. I mean, maybe one of the reasons that Kerry beat him among union members, as you point out, is a reflection of the general consensus among Democrats that Kerry's the guy. I think that's significant and it's obvious. But I do think Kerry himself sort of went the John Edwards direction.

He didn't commit to it, but he said he's going to review all the trade agreements, that he has deep misgivings about NAFTA himself. He didn't stay to the Clinton tradition as a free trader.


JAMES CARVILLE, CNN, "CROSSFIRE": I'll make an observation here. This is nothing unusual. John Kerry has either won 26 or 27 out of the primaries.

I don't know how to say this. This is a magnificent political achievement on John Kerry's part. He was all but gone in this race in December. This comeback is absolutely stunning.

And all this nitpicking and "look at this, he didn't get this here, he didn't do this, this person did that," this...

CARLSON: It's not nitpicking.

CARVILLE: ... is a magnificent political achievement on the part of Senator Kerry and his campaign.

NOVAK: James...

CARVILLE: They ought to be congratulated. Somebody give this man one night...


CARLSON: Yes, but nobody...

CARVILLE: The man has come back. He is a Silver Star winner. He's come back from cancer, he's faced death. He has faced...

CARLSON: Right. I think he was in...

NOVAK: James...

CARVILLE: So congratulations, Senator Kerry. Congratulations.

NOVAK: ... I am not in the business of sucking up. You are.

CARVILLE: You win 27 out of 30 primaries, I'm going to suck up to you.

NOVAK: I don't do any suck up. But I want to ask -- I want to find out your reaction to what I said. You're a famous Democratic strategist. I want you to tell me if you think playing that protectionist card is going to help against Bush.

CARVILLE: I don't think Bush, by caving into Florida's sugar industry, is doing any good. I don't think Bush, by caving into the political people...

NOVAK: You don't want to answer my question. CARVILLE: ... (UNINTELLIGIBLE) West Virginia and Pennsylvania is doing any good. And I think that when Senator Kerry voted for these agreements he said he would be for some environmental modification. That's fine.

Union people, Democrats everywhere, congratulations to you. A magnificent achievement.

CARLSON: OK. And I know you're going to get back to the question of to what degree Senator Kerry is, as you put it, a stud horse.

But let me just ask you, Paul -- maybe you can answer this directly -- isn't it a bit of a departure from the legacy of Clinton, the most successful Democratic president in our lifetimes, Kerry's rhetoric on free trade?


CARLSON: It's not, strictly speaking, Clinton's rhetoric at all, is it?

BEGALA: Yes. And why? Because now we're losing jobs.

Clinton was pro-free trade and was able to preside over an economy that created jobs. President Bush says he's pro-free trade, with some notable exceptions. But we're losing jobs. And when we lose jobs people get more sensitive to the trade issue.

CARVILLE: They don't understand, Paul, losing those jobs is good for the economy, according to...

CARLSON: Well, we've been losing them since the Clinton days.

BEGALA: Just so long as they don't export our jobs.

Wolf, back to you.

BLITZER: All right. Now, a quick question for James Carville. Our alert viewers, James, already asking a key question why is James dressed so beautifully tonight, compared to the attire in New Hampshire, that many of our viewers, of course, will recall?

CARVILLE: You know, sometimes I've got to confuse people. You just never know what James Carville is going to wear, and you're not sure what he's going to say.

BEGALA: Did Mary pick this out for you? It actually matches beautifully, too.

CARLSON: Is that courtesy of Mary?

CARVILLE: You like this shirt?

NOVAK: Not much, but you always know what I'm going to wear, don't you? CARVILLE: There you see it -- yes.

BLITZER: All right, guys. We'll have more on the wardrobe. That's coming up.

Also, we're standing by for more poll closings. Georgia, the polls closed here awhile ago. We're still not in a position to project a winner between John Kerry and John Edwards. In Ohio, we have projected that John Kerry will be the winner in Ohio, the Buckeye State.

We're going to take a quick break. We're standing by for the polls to close in Maryland, Connecticut and Massachusetts. We'll have some news at the top of the hour.


BLITZER: We're less than a minute and a half away from the polls closing in three important states: Massachusetts, Connecticut and Maryland. We'll have some news at the top of the hour. But we're also watching what's happening right here in Georgia.

Georgia, a close contest. We're not in a position to project a winner. With 5 percent of the vote, though, in, these are actual numbers. Forty-six percent so far going to John Edwards, 42 percent for John Kerry.

Judy Woodruff, Georgia's shaping up to be quite a little battle here.

WOODRUFF: It is. And, Wolf, so much of that has to do with the fact that this is an open primary, which means people going to the polling place could choose the ballot, they could say, yes, I want to vote in the Democratic primary, express my view on the flag issue, or I want to vote as a Republican. So much of this will depend on how many Independents and Republicans also weighed in on the presidential contest, because that will vary always, tip the scales in favor of John Edwards.

GREENFIELD: And that raises an interesting point that Bill Schneider made earlier about Edwards' relative success among Independents and Republicans -- and the Republicans. You remember, four years ago, McCain did much better among Independents and Republicans than George W. Bush did. And his argument was, look, I'm a stronger candidate in the fall.

But in that time period, McCain always ran better against Gore than Bush did. Right now, even though Edwards is doing better among Independents and Republicans, Kerry is doing better matched up against Bush than Edwards is. So it's a very different kind of race.


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