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Aired March 2, 2004 - 23:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: The final vote is now -- the final votes have been cast in California, the biggest prize of the night. CNN is ready to project that John Kerry, once again, will carry California in a landslide. The California primary, John Kerry will take the state; 370 delegates were up for grabs.
That means, as of right now, 28 of the 31 contests, 30 states, plus, Democrats abroad, 28 of those contests have gone to John Kerry. South Carolina went to John Edwards, Oklahoma went to Wesley Clark, Vermont tonight went to Howard Dean. So, 28 of 31, though, for John Kerry.

Senator Kerry's projected victory in California means that today he's won nine of the 10 contests. As I said, Howard Dean won the primary in his home state of Vermont.

John Edwards didn't win anywhere today. Although, he didn't say anything about his plans when he spoke to his supporters earlier tonight. CNN has confirmed Senator Edwards will drop out of the race tomorrow afternoon. We're told 4 p.m. Eastern, in Raleigh.

Senator Kerry, who watched Edwards speech on television tonight, had words or praise for the senator from North Carolina. Top aides to Senator Kerry tell CNN they are now focusing in on three new priorities: picking a running mate, assuming control over this summer's Democratic convention in Boston, and asserting control over the entire Democratic Party. Much more on that coming up later.

But here's a look at the big picture. As we said, Senator Kerry wins nine of today's 10 contests. Howard Dean wins his home state of Vermont.

President Bush phoned Senator Kerry earlier tonight to offer his congratulations. Our senior political correspondent Candy Crowley is covering Senator Kerry, our senior White House correspondent John King is watching the president, as he always does.

Candy, let's begin with you. Set the scene. Tell us what happened.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they got the phone call first from John Edwards, and in that phone call is when Senator Kerry that John Edwards would be pulling out of this race.

They both talked about last summer when neither one of them were anywhere in the polls. Congratulated each other for sticking to it and neither one of them could (UNINTELLIGIBLE) that possibly that they would be here at this point. They also said that they would, in fact, talk again sometime in the near future about the campaign.

Moving over here, Senator Kerry came, his actual celebration party was supposed to be in Florida. But because of the gun vote on Capitol Hill he came here to Washington to do it.

I will tell you that this was a forward-looking speech. He talked about how he will be the campaign of change. And if there is one phrase that you hear in the Kerry campaign, more than bring it on, it's I'm a fighter.


SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It could not be clearer, all across our country, change is coming to America.


KERRY: Before us, before us lie long months of effort and of challenge and we understand that. We have no illusions about the Republican attack machine and what our opponents have done in the past and what they may try to do in the future. But I know that together we are equal to this task. I am a fighter.


CROWLEY: So, they're bringing down the bunting. Senator Kerry long since gone, but this is really, obviously, just begun. What they're going to do from here, first of all, they've got to figure out who they're going to have as their vice presidential pick, probably by early summer.

And what they're going to do is tone down some of the rallies or not have as many of them. They want to put him out there talking to voters in smaller settings. This brings across, they hope, the warmer side of John Kerry.

First stop, tomorrow, Florida, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Florida. Obviously an important race come November. Candy, thank you very much.

The fall race all but set now as Democrat Kerry takes on incumbent President Bush. And the president has already raised millions of dollars, some of that money going to TV ads that will begin running on Thursday. Our Senior White House Correspondent John King has been following all of this. He's joining us now, live.

John, set the stage from the White House perspective.

JOHN KING, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, the White House believes, and President Bush made that point, in his phone call to Senator Kerry tonight that the fall race is now set. It will be the incumbent Republican George W. Bush against Massachusetts Democrat John Kerry.

And because the race is now set the Bush campaign wants to try to boost the president's standing in the polls, especially boost his approval rating by spending about $4.5 million this week, many millions more to come, on its first wave of television advertising. It will be an national cable TV buy on CNN and other networks, but also targeted buys in 17 key battleground states.

Now, one theme in those early ads is that the president will make the case that he has made the United States "safer and stronger". That was the theme the president also struck today in his big public appearance celebrating the one-year anniversary of the new Department of Homeland Security.

The president was not overtly political in this speech, but if you listen to what he said it is clear one argument from the president in the fall campaign will be this: That he has been tested in the war on terrorism. That war is still on going and that the American people should trust him, not Senator Kerry to finish the job.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are relentless. We are strong. We refused to yield. Some two-thirds of al Qaeda's key leaders have been captured or killed. The rest of them hear us breathing down their neck. We're after them. We will not relent. We will bring these killers to justice.


KING: In one of those first ads the president also say he knows, "exactly where he wants to lead the nation". That is a line being used by no accident at all. The Bush campaign believes it can portray Senator Kerry as someone who has taken a number of positions on the same issues, the war in Iraq, for one, tax cuts, for another. So, they are trying to set out the president as someone who is very clear in what he wants to do.

And, Wolf, in another sign, the Bush campaign, believes and now knows Senator Kerry will be the fall opponent. The president is already reading transcripts of interviews, transcripts of the Democratic debates to get much more comfortable and much more familiar with everything Senator Kerry has said in this campaign.

BLITZER: And, John, I know you have been doing some digging on the Kerry strategy. What we can anticipate in the days and weeks to come. What are you learning?

KING: Very quickly Senator Kerry will take control of the Democratic Party. That is traditional. He is now it's nominee, not locked up in terms of the delegate count yet, but he is the nominee. We are told he will do a number of things.

One, perhaps even within days, he will name the person who will lead his search for a running mate. The Senator has told top aides he might want to announce that selection well in advance of the July convention to try to get a boost in momentum and to try and get a wave of publicity during a time in which President Bush will be spending millions on campaign ads. So, that is one possibility.

Number two, Jack Corrigan is a veteran Boston Democratic operative. He will be the Senator's point man in running the Democratic Convention, which is in Massachusetts. Senator Kerry's home state, but he also has to navigate some difficult politics. Senator Kennedy will want his interests represented. The mayor will want his interests represented, all the unions will, too. So, Jack Corrigan has been tapped by the campaign, a trusted Democratic operative, to run the convention for the Kerry campaign.

And we also are told that Senator Kerry does not want the Democratic Party Chairman Terry McAuliffe on TV much anymore. That could be a source of tension as Senator John Kerry now asserts the control over what is now his Democratic Party -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, that's the tradition in Washington. You get to be the nominee, you get to run your own party. Thanks very much, John King, for all of that good reporting.

The fall race will come down to the red states and the blue states and which candidate winds up with the most votes -- where it counts, in the electoral college. Jeff Greenfield, Judy Woodruff, Carlos Watson are all taking a look at the math.

Let's begin, first of all, with you Jeff, because you've been studying this rather intensively.

JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SENIOR ANALYST: Yes, indeed. And it turns out that there is another color we have to talk about. If I can show you with this map?

This is a very familiar map to many of you. It is the results of the 2000 election, Bush carrying the red states in the South and the Mountain West, and of course, Florida. And Gore carrying the coasts, New England and a couple of the industrial heartland states.

But there is a new color that a lot of people are going to be talking about in 2004, and it is yellow. Namely, 18 states in which either Gore or Bush won by six points or less.

It is important to recognize some of these states are probably not going to be real battlegrounds. Washington and Oregon, most people think are relatively safe for the Democratic nominee. Ralph Nader did very well in those states, it kept them very close.

Most people believe that Tennessee and Arkansas, the home states of Clinton and Gore will not really be in play, those are heavily favored to go Republican.

So what are we talking about? We're talking about which states the other side thinks it can capture. And for the Republicans, no target is richer in their view than Pennsylvania, a state they only lost by less than 5 percent of the vote. Bush has made more visits to Pennsylvania as president than almost any other state. They also believe they have a shot in Michigan.

For the Democrats, Ohio, which they lost by 3.5 points, when Gore left the state with a week to go. And needless to say, they are looking very hard at Florida.

One more state you might not think about, Arizona, a state that only Clinton carried for Democrats in the last 55 years. But Wolf, because of the increased Latino presence, the possibility of Governor Richardson of New Mexico, as a maybe running mate. They're looking very heavily at that state as well.

BLITZER: We'll be covering all those. No one will be covering them more closely than our own Judy Woodruff. Red states, blue states and the yellow states, now. It is shaping up to be a fascinating political story.

JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: It is, it is -- the tendency, right now, is to want to focus on these states one by one, Wolf. But the at the same time, what has got to be going on -- what we are told is going on -- inside the Kerry camp and inside the larger Democratic camp right now is number one, how do we begin to raise money.

Not so much to equal what George W. Bush has raised. They have raised over $100 million. But at least to get the Democrats in the ballpark. Again, they know, the Democrats know that they have got to win this election, if they're going to do it, in the coming months. They have between now and the convention. They can't get so far behind as Al Gore did in 2000.

They're going to, by one account I've already been told, they're not going to rush to pick a vice presidential running mate. They're going to try to make it a thoughtful process, in so many words so that they get this kind of, what we call free media news coverage, that they've been getting, in the weeks to come. And looking at other ways to get John Kerry in the news in a favorable way in the weeks to come.

BLITZER: All right, Judy. Thank you.

Carlos Watson, talk about money, right now. Bush/Cheney, they have a lot of money, more than $100 million. John Kerry doesn't necessarily have a lot of money, at least right now.

CARLOS WATSON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: He doesn't. And I think there are three significant people you could see him turn to for help. One is Howard Dean, who as we know suspended his race, but raised over $40 million. Raised more in one quarter than Bill Clinton ever did, even as a sitting president. And so has to be considered an accomplished Democratic fund raiser.

Two, in the next week or so, Hillary Clinton is expected to make a significant speech and so expect to see her return, knowing that she has significant star power as a fund raiser. And last, but not least, let's not forget, if you will, the granddaddy of them all of Democratic fund raising, President Bill Clinton, who sat on the sidelines, was neutral during the campaign. But now that they have an nominee, is anyone better at hosting million-dollar fund raisers for Democrats? I think all three of those, maybe not right away, but certainly over time, could be helpful in refilling his coffers.


GREENFIELD: You have to mention the so-called five, two, sevens (ph). These independent groups that have promised to raise tens of millions of dollars. And one of the critical events of the next few months is whether the federal election commission limits what they can do with that soft money that they're planning to raise. That is going to be a critical factor.

BLITZER: And we'll be following that. Obviously, throughout these weeks and months to come. We'll update the numbers in just a minute.

What was on the minds of voters as they cast ballots throughout this day in 10 states. Our Bill Schneider has been studying the exit polls. He'll join us next with some answers.

We're also looking ahead to the general election in November. Bush versus Kerry, how close will it be? How mean will it get? And what about the bottom of the ticket? Still ahead. Tough questions for the vice president of the United States, Dick Cheney and his answers from my interview with him over at the White House earlier today.



KERRY: Tonight, the message could not be clearer, all across our country, change is coming to America.



BLITZER: Senator John Kerry, the big winner tonight. He's wrapped up the Democratic presidential nomination, now that John Edwards has decided to drop out. President Bush, in fact, called Senator Kerry earlier tonight to congratulate him on all of his victories. And that could be -- could be -- the last sign of civility in what promises to be a heated contest between the two men.

Here to talk about that, two guests, Republican Congressman David Dreier of California, he's in our Washington bureau. He, of course, supports President Bush. And Tad Devine, he's a senior adviser to the Kerry campaign. He's joining us from his headquarters in Washington's Old Post Office building, where they're tearing down some of the bunting and some of the other equipment that was brought in.

Congratulations, Tad Devine, to you, to the Kerry campaign.

What is the immediate priority for the Senator Kerry, right now?

TAD DEVINE, SENIOR ADVISER, KERRY CAMPAIGN: Well, to continue campaigning. He has to introduce himself to voters. He'll be in Florida tomorrow. That is a critical battleground in this election. He wants to keep talking about the issues, about jobs, about health care and about restoring America's role in the world and place in the world.

So we're going to just keep campaigning. This campaign is not going to stop all the way to November.

BLITZER: What about that, David Drier, it looks like the Kerry campaign is moving aggressively. And you heard Senator Kerry, in his speech today, once again, use those familiar three words, "bring it on".

REP. DAVID DREIER (R), CALIFORNIA: Let me join with you, Wolf, in extending congratulations to Tad and the to my friend and colleague John Kerry. He's run a great campaign. And tonight is his night, so we join in congratulating him.

But I will tell you, in November election night, is I believe going to be President Bush's. And he'll be talking about, President Bush will be talking about those exact issues that Tad has just referred to.

You know, we are seeing very positive signs of economic growth and I know we keep hearing the name of Herbert Hoover, injected here. But when we see this advertising campaign, that John King was talking about a few minutes ago, unveiled over the next few days, we'll be seeing the focus on what it is that has led to the economic challenge that we face. That is the war on terrorism, what we went through on September 11, the war on Iraq -- and obviously, the recession which began the last quarter of 2000.

I think virtually every economist has come to the conclusion that the tax cuts that we put into place, that enjoyed strong bipartisan support, have in fact play a huge role in the significant turn around that we're seeing today, but that we do have a ways to go.

And the polls just closed in California, you know, Wolf, and we also have a great bipartisan victory out there with passage of Propositions 57 and 58, which Arnold Schwarzenegger, Diane Feinstein -- even Gray Davis joined in support of.

BLITZER: Congressman Dreier, we'll get to that shortly, but let Tad Devine come in.

We heard, Senator Kerry, your man, say tonight he wants to repeal the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. Be specific, what does he mean for the wealthy?

DEVINE: He means for people who make more than $200,000 a year. You know, Wolf, right now this country is in an economic and fiscal crisis. The budget deficit, $500 billion a year. And on top of that, President Bush, despite the pledges he made in the last campaign, is taking another $150 billion a year out of Social Security. So, unless we do something about it this country is going to drift off into the wrong direction. John Kerry is prepared to make the tough choices. He was a leader in deficit reduction, an early Democrat to sign onto Gramm- Rudman-Hollings. He has a record on this issue. And he's prepared to do what needs to be done to cut the deficit and to regain control of America's finances.

BLITZER: Go ahead, David.

DREIER: Well, it's a record, but we know that the non-partisan "National Journal" has just determined that he is the most liberal member of the United States Senate. And I will tell you the record that is very important is this one of job creation and economic growth.

You know, Tad talks about the deficit but the fact of the matter is even if we had not had the war on terrorism, September 11 of 2001 -- or the war with Iraq -- we would still be in deficit spending. Why? Because of the economic slowdown that began at the end of the year 2000. We have emerged from that in one of the boldest, most dynamic economic recoveries, 112,000 jobs created in January, we're going to see, I believe, positive news reports coming out this Friday.

And, we are seeing, I've been talking to people across California and other parts of the country. We're seeing improvements in our exports, we're seeing improvements in the tremendous number of new opportunities in independent hirings, in the independent contractors and self-employed. The household survey has 2 million jobs created since November of 2001. So, we're on a correct track and I think the American people are going to want to keep us there.

BLITZER: David Dreier making the case for the president.

DEVINE: You know --

BLITZER: Tad Devine, unfortunately, we have to leave it right there. But we'll continue...

DREIER: Congratulations, again, Tad.

BLITZER: ... this debate. It's only just beginning.

DEVINE: Thanks, David.

BLITZER: Tad Devine, a supporter, key strategist for Senator Kerry. And David Dreier, the congressman from California.

Much more coverage coming up, including learning from the past. How can John Kerry learn from Al Gore's mistakes in 2000? I'll speak with Gore's former campaign manager, our own Donna Brazil.

And running mate rumors, who's in line to be on the ticket as John Kerry's vice president. We'll ask our hosts of CNN's "CROSSFIRE."



SEN. JOHN EDWARDS (D-NC), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have been the little engine that could. And I'm proud of what we've done together, you and I.


BLITZER: Proud, but not good enough, John Edwards deciding tonight he will drop out of the race tomorrow, in Raleigh, 4 p.m. Eastern. Stay with CNN for coverage of that tomorrow.

Almost a clean sweep tonight for Senator John Kerry on this Super Tuesday. CNN projecting the Massachusetts Democrat the winner in California and in the caucuses in Minnesota. His victory is confirmed in the seven other states. His only loss, Vermont, where he was defeated by the former governor and the former candidate Howard Dean, who dropped out two weeks ago.

Our Senior Political Analyst Bill Schneider has been looking at all the numbers to find out what happened, what the Democrats did on this day. Let's bring in Bill, right now.

Bill, what happened?

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, the Democratic campaign, which really concludes, saw competition, but not a lot of conflict. The Democrats are amazingly united. Take a look at New York Democrats.

Here's their opinion of the Bush administration, 57 percent say they're angry at the Bush administration. And another 31 percent, dissatisfied. That's almost complete unanimity. Who united the Democrats? The answer is, George Bush. They were looking for, in state after state, they're top quality that they were looking for was a candidate who can beat George Bush.

And in every state, Kerry was that guy; 82 percent of those looking for someone to beat Bush, choose Kerry.

And finally, now we're going to go to Ohio, Kerry is carrying Ohio with just 52 percent of the vote, but three-quarters of the Ohio Democrats say they are satisfied if John Kerry wins. Only 22 percent are not.

There was just not much of an anti-Kerry vote in any of these states and that made it impossible for John Edwards to get a foothold. There were just no anti-Kerry voters out there.

BLITZER: All right, Bill, we'll continue to crunch those numbers. Thanks, Bill, very much.

Donna Brazile was Al Gore's campaign manager during the 2000 presidential race. Writing in today's issue of the Capitol Hill newspaper, "Roll Call" she urged John Kerry to avoid Al Gore's mistakes. Donna is joining us now, live, to tell us what those mistakes were. What should John Kerry be avoiding?

DONNA BRAZILE, FRM. GORE CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Well, first of all the post-primary phase of the campaign is the most crucial. John Kerry must build upon his primary victories, expand his team, get his surrogates on board and define his candidacy. Four years ago we had a hard time doing that.

Remember, Elian Gonzales, we had problems defining exactly what issues we would take to George Bush. We allowed him to reinvent himself and to come back as a compassionate conservative. So, it really hurt us during that period. So, I advise the Kerry campaign move full speed ahead, go ahead and tell the American people what this country would look like under President Kerry and begin to, take it on, on as he says.

BLITZER: As you remember the criticism of Al Gore was that seemingly every few weeks he was redefining himself. We didn't know which Al Gore was the real Al Gore?

BRAZILE: Well, the real Al Gore had a hard time because the Republicans, during that period, defined us and we were responding to the Republicans and not really setting out our own agenda. This is a crucial moment for the Kerry team. I believe they are ready to begin this fall campaign tomorrow. And in order to do that, they must enlarge their team of people and bring on more surrogates.

BLITZER: As you know, the Bush/Cheney campaign, they have more than a $100 million now to try to define this senator from Massachusetts as another liberal, another Michael Dukakis-type of liberal Massachusetts senator?

BRAZILE: That's one of the reasons why I believe the Kerry people need to go into those markets, move on that arc (ph), we'll be running ads. The Kerry people will run ads, the DNC will run ads, hopefully that will help blunt some of the criticism that will come from the Bush/Cheney empire.

BLITZER: All right, Donna Brazile, giving us some analysis, as usual. Thank you very much.

BRAZILE: I've learned from the past.

BLITZER: All right, I hope we all have. Thanks very much, Donna, for that.

We're going to take a quick break. Let's take a look at the actual vote that we're getting in, early votes coming in from California, where the polls just closed at the top of the hour. So far, with 4 percent of the vote in, John Kerry, who will go on and win California, we've projected him the winner; 68 percent to 17 percent, for John Edwards. Emerging as a landslide victory in California. The biggest prize so far, for John Kerry.

One reason why John Edwards has decided to step down, will make that official tomorrow. It's been a super sweep. After powering through the primaries, John Kerry gears up for the general election in November. Up next, how it all happened.

And searching for a sidekick, who might share the ticket with Senator Kerry. We'll ask the hosts of CNN's "CROSSFIRE".

Plus this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What you want to do is just hold it up. Like down here, and just say...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, that's what I mean. That's the one thing about it. Have a nice smile on your face. You did it, something like that. But don't ...


BLITZER: Documenting Dean, an inside look back at the campaign of the one-time insurgent candidate. You'll see things that you've never seen before, involving the Dean campaign.


BLITZER: I think it's fair to say, we could say the race for the Democratic presidential nomination is now history.

CNN's Judy Woodruff has been looking at the story tonight and has got some assessment of what has actually happened.

WOODRUFF: That's right, Wolf. Well, it's pretty clear that John Kerry is the big winner tonight.

But what made it possible for him to be that, frankly, is the fact that John Edwards has now stepped out of the way. He didn't announce tonight that he's getting out of the race. We understand that's coming tomorrow. But John Edwards did lay the groundwork tonight.


EDWARDS: We have been the little engine that could. And I am proud of what we have done together, you and I.

WOODRUFF: It's only March the 2nd, but it's over. John Edwards accepts the inevitable, and embraces his former rival, John Kerry.

EDWARDS: He's been an extraordinary advocate for causes that all of us believe in -- more jobs, better health care, a cleaner environment, a safer world. These are the causes of our party. These are the causes of our country. And these are the causes we will prevail on come November.

WOODRUFF: Watching in Washington, the presumptive Democratic nominee, whose come-from-behind campaign powered through the primary season.

Unstoppable since a surprise win in the Iowa caucuses, Kerry cemented his dominance on Super Tuesday, and now he barrels into the general election.

KERRY: Our opponents can't campaign on jobs or health care or fiscal responsibility. Instead, George Bush, who promised to become a uniter, has become the great divider.

WOODRUFF: And now a new phase, as Kerry searches for a sidekick and the national campaign begins in earnest.


WOODRUFF: And that means, as John Kerry lays his head on his pillow tonight to go to sleep he knows, yes, I may be running ahead in those match-ups with George W. Bush, but I've got my work cut out for me, Wolf.

He's got to raise money, he's got to get a campaign organization together, because he's got several months of a very tough contest ahead of him.

BLITZER: But he will have a fairly unified Democratic Party behind him.

WOODRUFF: That, apparently, he will have.

BLITZER: All right. Let's take a look at some of the delegate counts, even though the Democratic race effectively has ended tonight, Kerry still a few delegates short of formally clinching the nomination.

Here's where the delegate count stands right now, based on CNN projections. Take a look at this -- 2,162 delegates needed in Boston to actually have the nomination.

Right now, we are projecting that John Kerry already has 1,109 to John Edwards' 365. Howard Dean got nine more tonight in Vermont to 182. Al Sharpton has 22 delegates, nine for Dennis Kucinich.

So, what is next? What happens next? Who will John Kerry choose as his running mate? We've got lots of questions.

Let's bring in our "CROSSFIRE" co-hosts Paul Begala, James Carville, Tucker Carlson, Robert Novak.

Let's start, James, with you once again. Give us your bottom line assessment. Who do you think he'll bring in as his running mate?

JAMES CARVILLE, CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE": Well, my bottom line assessment is, I don't have the foggiest idea, but that's not going to stop me from telling you what I think.

I think John Edwards. I think that Edwards has impressed Democrats around the country. I think he's impressed a lot of people. I think that John Kerry is going to want somebody who can carry his message forward, that can sit there and help him withstand what's going to be these vigorous, Republican personal attacks that he's going to be facing. And John Edwards has shown himself to be somebody that's a pretty articulate guy and can do that.

TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE": I'll tell you. I don't think that's who he should pick. I don't think he will. I mean, I think, personally, Edwards may play a role in this. But he really ought to pick -- I feel like he has almost an obligation to pick Wes Clark.

Here's a guy who actually won a state. He's a creation of the Democratic establishment, and put forward originally as an alternative to Howard Dean. And I think he deserves a shot at being vice president.

Plus, he's just brimming with conspiracy theories. Here's a guy who will say almost anything. I think America needs to closely look at...

ROBERT NOVAK, CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE": Tucker, I think you're trying to saddle the Democrats with a really terrible candidate.

CARLSON: Well, a candidate created...

NOVAK: Clark was a horrible candidate.

CARLSON: And they deserve it. That's why Wes Clark, he's the man.

PAUL BEGALA, CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE": You know, for a guy who had never run before, I thought he did quite well.

Although, the guy you can't overlook is Dick Gephardt, who went into this race as a tired old war horse. But you know what? He ran a good campaign. He ran an honest campaign. He is a person with towering integrity. And he speaks to voters in those industrial, Midwest, Rustbelt States, who Democrats have got to have.

We lost Ohio, we lost Missouri, we lost West Virginia with Al Gore. He can help deliver all three of those states.

NOVAK: Well, you know, talking to the Kerry people, I think they're looking for somebody who will bring electoral votes on the table, in what promises to be a close election, electoral votes.

I've been covering this thing all my life, since the '60 election. I have never found anybody, any candidate, any vice presidential candidate who did anything for or against the ticket because he was a good debater or a good speaker.

They're looking for somebody who can bring some electoral votes. And Edwards probably can't bring North Carolina. Dick Gephardt is a St. Louis politician. He's never run statewide. Probably can't bring Missouri. So they're looking to take Florida. Florida is the big casino of votes. And Bob Graham and Bill Nelson, the two senators, either one of them might carry Florida. And that would be a huge plus for Kerry.

CARVILLE: You know, you make a good point. In the end, I do think that a ticket says something, I think. When Governor Clinton picked Senator Gore, it showed something fresh.

NOVAK: What did it do? What did it do?

CARVILLE: I think it -- the idea that it creates a mood, it creates a sense.

I think that Edwards is very popular out there in the country. He's a very optimistic guy. I think he balances very well with Kerry.

I think there's a sense among Democrats -- and I've been around the country -- that he sort of earned this, that he's gone out and he's paid his dues...


NOVAK: But don't you think that Clinton would have done just as well if he'd named Lee Hamilton from Indiana?



CARLSON: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) talented campaigner on the stump.

BEGALA: Congressman Hamilton was a very good guy.

CARLSON: But isn't there a tone issue here? I mean, every one of the candidates has been -- let's be honest -- a bit of a shouter. "George W. Bush is evil." Don't you think it would be helpful to have someone with a cheerier disposition like Ed Randall...


BEGALA: John Edwards is the sunniest guy...

CARLSON: Because -- I'll tell you exactly why. Because ultimately, Edwards' message was simply a message of dislike of George W. Bush, and that's not much of a message.

BEGALA: Well, of course, it wasn't...


BEGALA: You want to hear a dark horse?


BEGALA: Edwards has great strength because he's a southerner. Here's another southerner. Max Cleland, the senator from Georgia, who was defeated in 2002, because Democrats did not stand up and fight...

NOVAK: Why do you think...

BEGALA: ... because they didn't fight back. And I think they learned a lesson.

NOVAK: You think it didn't...

BEGALA: I'd like to see signs across America -- remember Max. I'm from Texas. We said, "Remember the Alamo," and it led us to (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Mexico. Remember Max.

NOVAK: You think that (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Max...


NOVAK: In your darkest heart, do you really believe that?

BEGALA: I don't have a dark heart. I have a sunny...


CARVILLE: Let's liven this little puppy up -- Hillary Rodham Clinton for vice president.

BEGALA: There you go.


CARLSON: I fully support that. I think that's a radical, reckless choice. And that's why I think it's a terrific idea.

CARVILLE: Just like you thought she wouldn't sell a million books? I just thought I'd (UNINTELLIGIBLE) wake you guys up, you know, ...


NOVAK: What happened to Governor Richardson of New Mexico?

CARVILLE: ... the greatest (UNINTELLIGIBLE) in the history of the United States Senate, (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Hillary Rodham Clinton, the greatest...

CARLSON: Then, if that's true, then if she's so popular and so talented, and so well (UNINTELLIGIBLE) ...

CARVILLE: Then why did she sell a million-and-a-half books? Why is she a United States Senator?


CARLSON: Hold on a second. Because I love you. I wouldn't touch you. Honestly.

You know that she wouldn't take that if offered. NOVAK: Yes, but what happened to Bill...

CARVILLE: I can't imagine anything that Senator Clinton would not do, if her party and her country called on her.

NOVAK: What happened -- that's so silly, I won't even...


CARLSON: Well, then, if she's so great, why wouldn't they -- just why wouldn't it be axiomatic that they pick her?

CARVILLE: Because there might be other reasons that they're doing...

CARLSON: Because they want a lesser (ph) candidate instead.

CARVILLE: The one thing about her is, she is a person that genuinely loves the country, will serve this country in any way she can.

NOVAK: She's a...

CARVILLE: And, you know what, Bob? She is probably the most outstanding freshman senator in the history of the country.

NOVAK: Oh, the history of the country. There's never been anything...

CARVILLE: That's right.


CARVILLE: You know what? There never has been a person as remarkable and courageous as she is.

NOVAK: Then how was it that Daniel Webster and Henry Clay -- they were...


CARLSON: Well, you heard it here first. I think James Carville just predicted that Hillary Rodham Clinton will be the vice presidential ticket. We'll see.

BLITZER: Well, you know, it's very interesting. A quick question to you, James, because you hear this from a lot of Republicans. Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton don't want John Kerry to win, because they want to set the stage for Hillary Clinton to be the nominee in 2008.

Your quick reaction.

CARVILLE: That's the goofiest thing I've ever heard in my life. I mean, I hear that the earth is flat from a lot of people. I don't think -- I think that, for a lot of reasons, it probably doesn't make sense.

But I can't imagine that Senator Clinton or former President Clinton, haven't done and are not going to do everything that they possibly can, because they know this country desperately needs change.

They know we can't take four more years of this (UNINTELLIGIBLE) office. And they're going to do everything they can to bring it about.

NOVAK: Do we have to hear this same old...

BEGALA: Change, change, change...


BLITZER: That's it...


BLITZER: ... that's it. We've got to leave it right there. Our "CROSSFIRE" co-hosts, thanks very much for joining us.

One-on-one, with the vice president earlier today when I was in Washington, I spoke with the vice president, Dick Cheney. Part of that interview when we come back.

Plus this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A lot of them are, like, what did we do wrong?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Think about that. I mean, these people wrote, like 118,000 letters to the people of Iowa. And we took third with 18 percent of the vote.


BLITZER: Some political footnotes to a presidential front runner. Looking back on the insurgency campaign of Howard Dean.


BLITZER: The war in Iraq, obviously, will be a major factor in the November election. Earlier today, I sat down to talk about that and more with Vice President Dick Cheney.

I asked him about intelligence the administration relied on in making the decision to invade Iraq.


BLITZER: Do you have confidence in George Tenet as the CIA director?


BLITZER: Did you go over to the CIA before the war and try to influence U.S. intelligence analysts, as the accusation has been made against you, that you were pressuring them to come up with an assessment that you liked, and that you ignored conclusions that you didn't like?

CHENEY: No. That's absolutely not true, Wolf. And there's a lot of testimony from David Kay, who has talked to dozens of their analysts, the Senate Intelligence Committee that's interviewed a couple hundred analysts from the CIA, that they've not found one single individual who felt that they were in any way coerced with respect to their findings.

My job is to go ask tough questions, and I do. I do that regularly and frequently. Either have analysts come in and visit with me on a subject, or -- I've been out there many, many times to pursue various -- and subject, important topics.


BLITZER: The vice president speaking with me earlier today in Washington.

CNN national correspondent Kelly Wallace has just landed in Raleigh, North Carolina. She traveled there with John Edwards, who tomorrow will announce he's dropping out of this race.

Kelly, what did you learn on the flight to North Carolina?

KELLY WALLACE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, we saw a very upbeat -- or someone trying to look upbeat. The candidate coming to the back of the plane to talk to reporters.

He wasn't going to take any questions about his campaign. But aides say he wanted to come back, thank reporters, especially those reporters who have been traveling with him for months. Aides describe his mood as being very, very good.

Ultimately, they say, what came down to this decision, they said there were just too big of gaps in some of the Super Tuesday states between John Edwards and John Kerry. One adviser saying it felt like a window was closing, that they really couldn't continue and carry out a credible run for this nomination.

And so, the senator is back here in Raleigh. He will be officially announcing he is pulling out of the race tomorrow afternoon, here in North Carolina.

Already, of course, questions whether he and Senator Kerry have even discussed the possibility of him being a contender for the vice presidency. One adviser saying, to her knowledge, no such discussion yet.

But this adviser saying that if asked, Senator Edwards would certainly not say no. But also saying, this is Senator Kerry's time, and that is much further down in the process.

Expect to hear Senator Edwards talk about his campaign, and also talk about the fight, upcoming fight between Democrats and President Bush in November -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Did you get a little flavor, Kelly, on what we can expect tomorrow, once he formally goes ahead and lets the world know he's no longer a candidate?

WALLACE: It's likely, Wolf, possibly to be a little bit emotional. He's going to do it at the school where his daughter Kate attended, and also his late son Wade, who died in a car accident, as we know, many years ago. And there's a memorial there for his son at that school. So it could be somewhat emotional.

We're told that he'll talk about some of the themes that he has talked about during this campaign. Aides say they're very, very happy that they think Senator Edwards' message has gotten out to other candidates, and that he'll be talking again about the battle between Democrats and Republicans this fall.

We asked advisers what's next for Senator Edwards. And this adviser basically rolling her eyes, because they obviously just made this decision earlier this evening, shortly before he talked with reporters here. Told he decided not to continue with plans to go to Dallas, Texas, but to come here and make plans for that announcement tomorrow -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Kelly Wallace. She was in Atlanta. She is now in Raleigh. We don't know where she's going to be next, but we know she'll be covering some important story for us as she always does. Kelly, thank you very much.

And, of course, stay with CNN tomorrow, 4 p.m. Eastern. We'll have live coverage of Senator Edwards' speech when he announces formally he's no longer a candidate for the presidency, at least not now.

Too late to make a difference, but a win is a win and he'll take it. Howard Dean, out of the race, sees his first victory in the primaries. Stay with us.



HOWARD DEAN (D), FRM. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm delighted. You know, I really feel very indebted to Vermont voters. You know, we didn't really campaign, but there were a lot of people who did campaign for us.

There's a wonderful group, I think that's it called truth something dot com. And Sam Osborne and a lot of really terrific people -- Bill Stetson -- worked really, really hard, and many, many others for us. And I just really appreciate that.


BLITZER: Howard Dean speaking a little while ago, earlier tonight, in his home state of Vermont. Being a favorite son, of course, can make a huge difference.

Voters in Vermont handed a primary win to their former governor, Howard Dean, tonight. It's Dean's first win. It comes two weeks after he dropped out of the race.

With 95 percent of the actual vote in Vermont now in, he got 58 percent to John Kerry, who got 34 percent. John Edwards' name was not on the ballot in Vermont. The people of Vermont making a nice gesture to Howard Dean. He will win that state.

The supernova of the Dean campaign was incredible to watch. The doctor, turned governor, turned presidential candidate rose from footnote to front runner and then back again.

The real action, though, was behind the scenes, and that's where "CNN PRESENTS" sent producer Kate Albright-Hanna and her camera. She followed Dean campaign manager Joe Trippi and his band of political true believers.

In this excerpt, we join Dean and his unlikely campaign in New York City at a summer rally 10,000 strong.

And please join "CNN PRESENTS" for the premiere of "True Believers: Life Inside the Dean Campaign." A remarkable, remarkable documentary. It premieres Sunday, 8 p.m. Eastern, only here on CNN.

An end in sight as the presidential primary wraps up. We'll take a look back at what's been a roller coaster of a political season.


BLITZER: There are still more primaries to go, but with Edwards leaving the race, the season is now all but over for all intents and purposes. It certainly is over, less than two months after it started, but it's been full of suspense and surprises in that short time.

CNN's Dan Lothian has that.


DAN LOTHIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The road to the Democratic presidential nomination took unexpected twists and turns.

ROBERT GILBERT, PROF., POLITICAL SCIENCE, NORTHEASTERN UNIV.: A very unusual one. I don't remember any like this before.

LOTHIAN: Amid the made-for-TV moments, playing hockey and ping- pong, walking in parades and parading through diners, and serenading students.

The focus always came back to shifting fortunes. Senator John Kerry, recognized as an early front runner, soon was branded by some as dead, replaced by the surging former Vermont governor, Howard Dean.

GILBERT: It was like a rock show.

LOTHIAN: But then he lost Iowa and made the speech.

GILBERT: It was as if air had been let out of a balloon.

LOTHIAN: The seismic shift was underway. Senator Kerry won Iowa and New Hampshire, took the lead and never looked back.

Representative Dick Gephardt, expected to do well in Iowa, lost. Senator John Edwards surged to a second place finish, getting new momentum. And General Wesley Clark, who had skipped Iowa, saw his rising poll numbers disappear.

In all, there were 34 primaries and caucuses, 17 debates and 10 candidates fighting for a voice.



KERRY: For every Benedict Arnold...

EDWARDS: We live in two different Americas.


DEAN: You have the power...

WESLEY CLARK (D), FRM. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Higher standard of leadership...

LOTHIAN: But Democrats seemed to be uniting behind one candidate. And the lesson learned from this political season?

GILBERT: It's not the observers or the media, or the people who are intensely involved in politics that decide elections. It's the rank-and-file voters who come out on election day.

LOTHIAN: Dan Lothian, CNN, Boston.


BLITZER: Thanks very much, Dan. I'm Wolf Blitzer at CNN election headquarters in Atlanta.

CNN's in-depth coverage of the Super Tuesday primaries continues. A special live edition of "LARRY KING LIVE" starts right now.


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