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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Ohio Likely to Decide Election

Aired November 3, 2004 - 01:00   ET

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


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And CNN can project that Alaska, as widely expected, will stay in the Republican column and will stay with President Bush, those three electoral votes for President Bush. That would show the tally -- and I think this is the updated tally, with those three votes going for George W. Bush.
The race for the White House, with Alaska turning blue, this should turn blue any second now, 249. It says 246, but that would be 249 for the president, 195 for Kerry, 270 needed to win, 249 for Bush.

CNN's Dana Bash is over at the Reagan Center, a huge building at the International Trade Center in Washington. That's the headquarters tonight for the Bush-Cheney campaign.

Give us a little flavor, Dana, of what's going on there.

DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Wolf. I should tell you that I'm actually still over at the Bush-Cheney headquarters, their campaign headquarters in Arlington, Virginia.

But I can tell you that there has been a palpable mood shift over here over the past several hours. When I first came over here late this afternoon, there was essentially tension in the air. Certainly there was a lot of uncertainty.

We were hearing, as we heard John King report earlier, some of the exit polls show that it was very much for John Kerry. They were trying to figure out upstairs here what was exactly going on, looking through their data trying to figure it out. Now, they say, they certainly are very happy. They feel that Ohio is very much moving their way.

And certainly as I traveled with the president, as we were sort of with him as he was finishing the campaign, there was nervousness. There was uncertainty as to exactly what was going to go on. But I can tell you that certainly they were confident enough, I'm told, that they only have written, the president's speechwriters, one speech, and that is a victory speech for him to go over to the Reagan Building tonight. And certainly that is a place where Mr. Bush is expected to go, and the mood there is really one of elation, and that is something that the president is likely to see later tonight.

Now, of course, they are still being a little bit cautious, but they feel very, very confident, a very big difference in the mood and the feeling over here at the Bush-Cheney headquarters -- Wolf.

BLITZER: CNN's Dana Bash, thanks very much. CNN's Dana Bash over at the Bush-Cheney campaign headquarters, Arlington, Virginia.

Let's assume, Jeff Greenfield, that Ohio -- and this is strictly assuming -- Ohio goes for the president, 20 electoral votes. Right now the president is 249. That brings it to 269, which is still not necessarily enough to be elected president.

JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, James Carville was talking earlier about going on an inside straight. I don't know what the sports or poker metaphor is for that one. It's beyond the Boston Red Sox achievement.

If you get to 269, that one Maine electoral vote that might go to Bush, that would be enough to tip him over. Kerry would have to win every other state, and hope that Maine breaks for him. If Bush wins Ohio, we can't project him the winner formally, but I think -- what did Don Meredith used to sing? "Turn out the lights, the party is over?"

BLITZER: It's not over yet. Let's not get carried away. The "CROSSFIRE" guys can get carried away. They can make some assessments.

GREENFIELD: You asked for an assumption.

BLITZER: That's right.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: We'll make sure that we wait until all of the votes are counted, and make sure that we know precisely what's going on. Still a lot of states that we have not been able to project yet.

GREENFIELD: Yes.

BLITZER: Ohio being critical.

GREENFIELD: But we are looking at a president who lost the popular vote four years ago by a half a million votes, and is now running 3.3 million votes ahead. And as Carlos pointed out hours ago, at 51 percent if he stays at that, not since his father in 1988 has a candidate gotten more than 50 percent of the vote.

CARLOS WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Here's two other things that you can say, regardless of what happens with Ohio. One, we can say that last time around, George Bush's campaign in 2000 didn't do a good job of closing. In that last week or two, they lost the lead. Remember, the DUI charge came out at the end. You can say they clearly have closed, if you will, much better. They finished better this year, almost regardless of what happens.

The second thing you can say is that this effort to have a grassroots game at the very end of turnout voters probably, at least in Florida it seems, worked even better on the Republican side than it did on the Democratic side. And you'll remember at the very top of our show I said that you had two competing approaches. You had one that which was more centralized down in the precinct level, and you had one that relied heavily on third parties. That's one of the things that Democrats will reconsider.

LARRY KING, CNN ANCHOR: Where did he go right?

GREENFIELD: I do think that the point that James Carville and Paul Begala were making, partisan Democrats, the question that I was asking Senator-elect Obama, the Democratic Party, if you look at rural and small town America, if you look at church-going America, has lost touch with that group of Americans. There used to be no difference in how people voted, whether they went to church a lot or didn't. And starting in 2000 particularly, we saw that break. We saw Democrats losing the children of people who regularly voted Democratic.

And I believe one of the things we asked about what to watch for, the values part of this election. Just forget who wins Ohio. Look at those popular vote numbers. The values part of this election broke for the president.

WATSON: But, you know, what I think is going to be interesting to wait and see in the exit polls is I know James is referring to the rural voters, but whether or not these weren't just rural votes, whether or not these were Catholics in suburbs and in big cities that in the past have split but maybe decidedly on social issues and others tilted towards the president.

BLITZER: All right, stand by for a second, because I want to bring in our Candy Crowley. She's in Boston over at the Kerry campaign headquarters.

Candy, tell our viewers what's happening right now as they see the states apparently, some of them at least, Alaska we've projected, going for the president, which is not a surprise.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Just listen for a second. Not a sound, Wolf. This has been -- we're getting ready to hear some music, but very quiet crowd, very different here in Copley Square than it was when the evening began.

There has been this steady misty rain. Obviously that dampens, you know, clothes, but what's dampened the spirits here is seeing up on their giant TV screens these numbers begin to come in. We're already -- you know, we're going to get Dave Rush (ph) here to pan a little and just show you this crowd. It has steadily gone down. It never was all that large to begin with, but they are losing people walking out as we go along.

So there has been a huge mood shift in this crowd here. You can see some of them, the diehards here with the umbrellas. Obviously they came expecting to see their candidate come out and accept -- or declare victory. Not sure we're going to get that. It is not over by any means.

I will also tell you that aides we have been talking to throughout the night, who have said, oh, you know, what about Wisconsin? We're going to win Ohio. We're going to win Wisconsin. We're going to win Minnesota. No longer returning phone calls. Definite, definite change in mood here. It doesn't mean it's over, but they sure are looking at an uphill climb -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. So we would call that the sounds of silence, which can be very powerful and powerful thunderous, if you will. Candy Crowley, we'll get back to you.

CROWLEY: Yes.

BLITZER: Let me walk over to the race for the White House, our Electoral College map, and go right up here to Maine, four electoral votes. CNN can now project that John Kerry will capture all four of those electoral votes. Earlier, we projected he would capture three of them. One of the districts was unclear. That district now, CNN can project, will go to John Kerry. That brings the total now to President Bush 249 -- 270 needed -- 196 for John Kerry. Maine, all four going.

These white states -- New Hampshire, Ohio will be here obviously, the very important state, Michigan, these upper Midwestern states -- still so critical.

You know, we think about that one electoral vote, Jeff Greenfield, in Maine, it could have been very powerful. He has to breathe a little bit easier, John Kerry right now, even if he loses Ohio.

GREENFIELD: Well, if he loses Ohio and wins everything else, including Hawaii, we have that tie we talked about, a 269-269. The election will go to the House of Representatives. Guess who the House of Representatives votes for, for president?

BLITZER: The new House of Representatives.

GREENFIELD: Which will be slightly -- which will be a Republican House.

KING: If Bush wins Ohio, he wins.

GREENFIELD: Yes.

BLITZER: That would be...

KING: Yes.

BLITZER: That would be enough.

KING: Yes. And the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) works.

BLITZER: Unless there is some renegade Republicans in the House of Representatives.

GREENFIELD: There is an elector in West Virginia -- I don't mean to keep plucking this out for a novel of mine. But there is a Republican elector in West Virginia who has said he might not vote for the president. He's the mayor of a small town. And my hunch is that if it gets to him, there will be a fair amount of pressure on that gentleman to vote the way he promised. WATSON: We saw last time around in D.C. an elector didn't cast his vote in favor of Al Gore, and consequently Gore had 266 technically and not 267.

GREENFIELD: And it didn't matter.

WATSON: It didn't matter that time.

BLITZER: David Gergen understands all of this quite well. He's been watching politics for a number of years.

Give us your bottom line right now, David.

DAVID GERGEN, "U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT": Well, I think that what impresses me is the popular vote. The conventional wisdom on popular vote is if someone wins by more than 1 percent, it really sweeps over the Electoral College. And whoever wins by more than 1 percent of the popular vote goes on to win the Electoral College. And here all night Bush has had a steady lead. It's 51-48. That's bigger than I think anybody thought he would have coming out of those final polls. He clearly has delivered on the vote here in this last week.

But I think what many of us assumed was if new voters came out, they would be mostly young and people that hadn't voted, and then they would tilt towards the challenger. We may look now and see did, in fact, the Karl Rove strategy of believing if he could get evangelicals out, that there were as many as four million evangelicals who didn't vote last time in part because they may have been persuaded by the DUI charge that was revealed against Bush on the Thursday before the election, if he could get them out, that would be enough to boost the popular vote and go and win the election.

And I think maybe that's what we're seeing tonight, and it's very impressive on the part of Republicans to deliver this. The Ohio margin, I gather while we've been on the air in the last minutes, has narrowed some, but it still looks very uphill for Kerry.

I want to come back to this point about how the Democrats come back. The problem, Wolf, as I see it for a lot of Democrats is this is not a difference over policies between Democrats in sort of moving more to the center on, say, economic policies. This is a sharp difference over values and what country we live in and what you believe in. If you really believe for gay marriage, it's really hard to change your party and say, well, we don't believe in gay marriage or we don't believe in those kinds of values.

And I think for an awful lot of people on the losing side tonight, there is going to be a sense of almost alienation or isolation from the majority and feeling like, how do we relate to this? How do we -- is this the country we thought it was?

KING: Well, what about, David, the war has split America, an unstable economy, a lot of things going wrong, what went wrong for the Democrats? You mean an issue like gay marriage would sweep it this much for a three million vote difference? GERGEN: Well, we do have 10 states that voted against, you know, gay marriage today, and we do know that the war is not popular. And in my judgment, if Bush wins, he's going to win despite Iraq, not because of Iraq.

KING: Right.

GERGEN: Terrorism clearly helped him, but it's very clear that underneath the surface there are these large cultural divisions now in our society where some people have a set of more traditional beliefs and some people have a set of different what they would call progressive beliefs. And it's very hard to compromise on beliefs, on something that fundamental.

And I think that what the president and his team have shown is that there are an awful lot of people out there, the people who live in blue states don't know very well, but there are an awful lot of them who care about these values and will come out to vote when they're rallied.

BLITZER: And if he's elected -- re-elected, George W. Bush will be able to do, David, what his father was not able to do, an incumbent president get re-elected...

GERGEN: Well...

BLITZER: Go ahead.

GERGEN: You know, I was going to say, Wolf, you know, from a historical point of view, this is a -- it would be dramatic. We've only had one other father-son combinations, of course, the two Adams -- John Adams and John Quincy Adams. They both lasted only one term. This would be the first father-son combination in which the son actually won two terms.

This, in some ways, is a personal triumph for the son, because so often in life he's been overshadowed by his father. And this would be the first thing he's done in a very dramatic way that it actually, you know, is sort of like, hey, my dad didn't do this.

But beyond that, he joins a (UNINTELLIGIBLE) of just a dozen or so Americans in our whole history who have ever been elected to a second term.

BLITZER: David Gergen is going to stick around with us. We're going to come back to you.

Judy Woodruff is watching all of this as closely as anyone. She's watching it with Jeffrey Toobin as well.

Judy, pick up our coverage right now and give us a little analysis of what's happening in some of those key battleground states like Ohio that we haven't projected yet.

JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Well, Wolf, specifically Ohio, everybody is focusing on Ohio. Frankly, some of our competitor networks have already called Ohio for George W. Bush. We are not prepared to do that. Right now, the difference in the popular vote in Ohio with 88 percent of the precincts reporting, 2.478,000 votes for President Bush, 2,361,000 for John Kerry, a 116,000 vote difference. And at this point, our analysts are saying that is not a comfortable enough margin to give them the confidence to call.

Now, what has happened, Wolf, in the last several minutes is that we have been talking to both campaigns, and in particular the Kerry camp, about provisional ballots, these ballots that are still out there.

And I want to bring Jeff in right now on this. Because, Jeff, you just got off the phone with someone in the Kerry camp.

JEFFERY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Right. The Kerry campaign strategy at this point is they think that the actual counting of the votes tonight will narrow the gap to something like 50,000 votes. At that point, they think the provisional ballots will be counted. And they assert -- and we don't know this to be a fact, but they assert there may be as many as 50,000 provisional ballots out there.

Now, if you go to 2000...

WOODRUFF: Fifty or 200?

TOOBIN: Two hundred. I'm sorry, what did I...

WOODRUFF: You said 50.

TOOBIN: I'm sorry, 200,000. They believe...

WOODRUFF: It's like...

TOOBIN: ... in the order of 200,000 provisional ballots out there.

Now, they think if you count those ballots, that will make up what they believe will be a 50,000 vote margin at that point.

WOODRUFF: And based on what we know about Ohio in the last election, there is some reason to believe what?

TOOBIN: There is some reason -- in 2000, Ohio was one of the states that did have a provisional ballot rule. So they did have provisional ballots four years ago. And our research indicates that 90 percent of the provisional ballots wound up being counted as valid four years ago.

So if you extrapolate, if there are 200,000 provisional ballots, 180,000 of them are valid, the Kerry people believe they can make up the 50,000 out of those 180,000.

WOODRUFF: And, Wolf, we don't want to make it sound like we're dancing on the head of a pin here. This is important, 116,000 votes separating. And clearly some smart people have looked at that difference and said they feel comfortable going ahead and calling Ohio for President Bush.

At this point, given the small difference and given this provisional ballot issue, we're just not comfortable at CNN making the call. And again, it's developing and changing as we speak. The vote is coming in, but we are being very cautious here.

BLITZER: And let's show our viewers, Judy, the actual vote that we have right now with 89 percent of the precincts reporting in Ohio. The president has 51 percent to Kerry's 49 percent. But I'll walk over here and you can see the hard numbers, about 2.5 million for the president, 2.37 for John Kerry.

That spread, Jeff Greenfield, as we see it in Ohio, still 11 percent of the precincts have not yet come in. Is it doable, given the provisional ballots that are out there? One of the reasons we haven't projected yet is because we're going to be extremely cautious and precise. The last thing we at CNN would ever want to do again is call a state for a presidential candidate and have to retract it later.

GREENFIELD: You can understand the caution, because (UNINTELLIGIBLE), it is possible that if the last 10 percent of these votes comes in and shrinks the president's margin in Ohio to that 50,000 vote, you have to see what those other ballots are.

BLITZER: We have to see where that 10 or 11 percent still is, it is from Cleveland? Is it from Toledo, or where is it?

GREENFIELD: But, I mean, if we hadn't gone through what we went through in 2000, I have a hunch we'd be calling this for Bush. But we've seen what happens when numbers can change rapidly. It's just -- what David Gergen was saying earlier and what I was saying was the national popular vote split makes it statistically almost unimaginable that John Kerry could wound up the electoral vote when the spread in the popular vote is not half of 1 percent as it was in 2000. It's three full points. That's...

KING: The people are speaking.

GREENFIELD: OK.

BLITZER: All right, we have another projected. And I want to go over here. Because CNN can now project after all of these hours that John Kerry will carry the state of New Hampshire. This is a state that narrowly went for George W. Bush four years ago, four electoral votes. It's a win for John Kerry, New Hampshire, one of those states that has now flipped, gone from the Republican candidate, Jeff, to the Democratic candidate. I believe that's the first thing so far tonight that has switched sides.

GREENFIELD: Yes.

WATSON: Right.

GREENFIELD: First time, the first one, and yet you have the sense that in the Kerry headquarters this is not being greeted with the kinds of screams and cheers it would have been three hours ago because of what's lying out there in Ohio and out West. But it is the first switch.

WATSON: You know, Wolf, I want to take off on something that David Gergen said earlier, trying to put this in an historical context. One of the other reasons this would be so significant is if you think about the three presidents before who were elected after having lost the popular vote but winning the Electoral College, people like John Quincy Adams and Rutherford B. Hayes and Benjamin Harrison, all of them lost their re-election bids.

GREENFIELD: Or didn't run.

WATSON: Or didn't run. This would be unusual if George W. Bush actually goes on to win re-election. It would be a pretty significant historical event in that context.

KING: This has been some surprising night.

BLITZER: It's not over with yet, Larry. I don't want our viewers to think...

KING: It's...

BLITZER: There have been moments in American history when people have gone to sleep thinking that one candidate was going to be the next president of the United States, only to wake up the next morning -- there have been candidates who have gone to sleep thinking they may have won or may have lost, and they wake up the next morning and they discover guess what? It didn't happen.

KING: Who ran against Wilson?

GREENFIELD: Charles Evans Hughes...

KING: Charles Evans Hughes.

GREENFIELD: ... went to bed thinking he was president, and a reporter called him and the butler said the president has gone to sleep. And the reporter said, yes? When he wakes up, tell him he's not the president, because California switched it to...

KING: That's right.

GREENFIELD: Were you there?

BLITZER: I suspect...

KING: My grandmother told me about it.

BLITZER: I suspect that neither of these candidates, Bush or Kerry, are going to sleep anytime soon.

Let's walk over here, Jeff, and take a look at these nine states that we are not yet able to project. Let's go through them one by one. We'll show our viewers the numbers that we have. With 89 percent of the precincts reporting in Ohio, 51 percent for Bush, 49 percent for Kerry. Look at that spread.

GREENFIELD: This is the state the Jeffrey Toobin just told us the Kerry campaign is hoping they can get this margin down to 50,000 to bring in the provisional ballots.

But, Wolf, take a look at Iowa, a state that Al Gore carried four years ago, with 90 percent of the vote, just about dead even. Bush with a 4,000 vote lead. And guess what? Here is a state where Ralph Nader would make the difference.

BLITZER: Iowa. Let's go down to Wisconsin, a state you lived in when you went to college. Look at this. John Kerry with 50 percent, Bush with 49 percent, 1 percent for Nader, 73 percent of the vote in.

GREENFIELD: Gore took this by two-tenths of 1 point back in 2000. Kerry is doing a little bit better. A quarter of the vote left to go, you know. If there is hope for the Kerry campaign, it lies in the fact that these states aren't yet gone.

But how about this one?

BLITZER: New Mexico.

GREENFIELD: Al Gore took this state by 366 votes. Right now with 83 percent of the vote in, the president has a 22,000 vote lead.

BLITZER: That's not exactly what Bill Richardson, the governor of New Mexico, was anticipating or hoping for.

Michigan, 65 percent of the precincts reporting, Kerry is ahead 51 to 48 percent, about 100,000 spread in favor of Kerry in Michigan. It still looks potentially close for him.

GREENFIELD: Right. But in -- now look at Nevada. This is another state that the president carried four years ago. And in this state, 40 percent of the vote in, Kerry has a tiny 1 percent lead.

BLITZER: And let's move on to Washington State, a state that Al Gore carried four years ago. Kerry had 37, about a third of a percent of the vote in, Kerry is ahead 53 percent to 46 percent.

Hawaii, Kerry is ahead, but very little precincts showing, only 69,000 to 55,000, 55 percent for Kerry, 44 for Bush.

GREENFIELD: There's another once reliably Democratic state, the one that the polls seemed to suggest were tied, Kerry is ahead.

And in Minnesota, another state that Gore narrowly carried, Kerry seems to be ahead. So...

BLITZER: With 64 percent of the precincts reporting, 52 percent to 47 percent.

GREENFIELD: Here's the irony here. It is possible that we could wind up with John Kerry the only candidate that got a state away from the other guy and still lose, because the movement of population south and west into the red states made the Bush states from 2000, 278 electoral votes. It is conceivable that Bush will do this with a three million vote plurality, having taken no state away from Al Gore and still be re-elected. It is just really an amazing election.

BLITZER: Let's walk over and bring back our colleagues.

Larry, you're smiling, you're looking at this, and you're saying to yourself, I'm...

KING: Where did I go right is Kerry would have to say. I turned it around. I won New Hampshire. Gore didn't.

GREENFIELD: But he also -- I keep looking at those numbers.

BLITZER: Those are the popular vote.

GREENFIELD: He's 3.2 million votes behind, you know, and while I understand that's not how we elect presidents, it's really tricky to get elected president when you are 3.2 million votes behind the other guy.

WATSON: You know, I think one of the other -- you know, we've got a ways to go before it gets called one way or another. But, you know, we talked earlier about whether or not there would be criticism of the Democratic message. I think there will also be some questions about the campaign itself and how it was run.

GREENFIELD: Yes.

WATSON: So when the Monday morning quarterbacking starts in one direction or another, I think the message will only be part of the story. Some people will look back to August and the Swift Boat Veterans issue and how that was responded to, and I think there will be other things that are...

BLITZER: All right. I want to bring back Anderson Cooper. He's been watching both Houses of the United States Congress.

You've already projected, Anderson, CNN has projected that the Democrats will retain the majority in the House of Representatives. What about the Senate?

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: We can now project that the Republicans will retain control of the Senate. Let's look at how that's going to happen. Again, CNN is projecting the Republicans will retain control of the Senate. Democrats had hoped that if they could pick up two seats if George Bush was re-elected, they would be able to take control. That is not going to happen.

We're projecting the winner in Kentucky, Jim Bunning. This is a closely-watched race, but Jim Bunning with a convincing lead. CNN can project he is the winner in the race in Kentucky.

In North Carolina as well, we are projecting the winner, Representative Richard Burr. He will be the new senator from the state of North Carolina replacing Senator John Edwards. So that's a pickup, that's a win for the Republicans. It had been a Democrat seat.

And in Pennsylvania, we are projecting Arlen Specter will be the winner of that race. So that, again, because of those three races, we can now project that the Republicans will retain control of the Senate.

Obviously that is very good news for Republicans around the country. As we said, Democrats had hoped they might be able to pick up a couple of seats, just enough to give them the edge. That will not happen. In fact, Republicans picking up a couple of seats.

BLITZER: I may have misspoken. I may have said Democrats were going to retain control of the House of Representatives. Of course, the Republicans...

COOPER: The Republicans, yes.

BLITZER: The Republicans are the majority in the House of Representatives. They will remain the majority in the House of Representatives. And now you're projecting, CNN is projecting the Republicans will retain the majority in the United States Senate, both Houses of Congress remaining in Republican control.

COOPER: And there are still some senator races we're watching closely. Most notably in Alaska and, of course, South Dakota. But, of course, the Republicans, no matter what happens in those races, Republicans will retain control.

BLITZER: All right. Let's bring in our congressional correspondent, Ed Henry, in Washington. And he's watching all of this together. And you're getting some more information. Ed, what are you hearing?

ED HENRY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. A huge night for the Republicans on Capitol Hill. And the bottom line, as you mentioned, they are going to retain control of the House. They're going to increase their majority in the House.

This is the first time now that the Republicans will control the House for more than a decade straight since the beginning of the 20th century. A big milestone for them there.

But also in the Senate, not only hold on to Senate control, they went into it with a two-seat majority. Now they could gain maybe two, three more seats, depending, as Anderson mentioned, on how some of these outstanding races across the country go.

I can tell you, I've already been talking to Republican senators who have been saying now that it looks like they're increasing their majority in the Senate, they're going to be very aggressive, more tax cuts. They're talking about getting conservative judges through the Senate. They're talking about now they should have the votes to get an energy bill and open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas exploration, a major issue President Bush has been pushing in the Congress, but he has not had the votes to pass. Obviously a lot of that will be contingent upon whether or not President Bush actually wins the White House. But I can tell you Republican senators hoping he will, and they're saying they will have a very, very aggressive agenda now that they are holding on to both chambers of Congress.

And on the flip side, for the Democrats, if, in fact, Tom Daschle loses -- that is not a done deal yet. He is down, but a lot of absentee ballots out there. That race has not been called. But if -- I stress if -- Tom Daschle were to lose, there is going to be a leadership race there for the Democratic leader. Harry Reid is No. 2, will definitely be in that race. Chris Dodd, a name you keep hearing, another Democratic senator who might run for that.

And as you were talking about there could be a blood bath among Democrats about what's happening in this presidential race, there also could be a very divisive race for who is going to be the next Democratic leader. Harry Reid thinks privately, people close to him, that he'll have the votes to lock it up. But there's going to be a lot of finger pointing, a lot of guessing about why the Democrats lost more seats in the Senate -- Wolf.

BLITZER: And given the arcane rules, very briefly, and in the United States Senate, in order to pass important legislation, you usually need 60 votes, not 51, because of the filibuster rule in the Senate. So they're not going to get near, the Republicans, anywhere near that 60, is that right?

HENRY: That's right. The Republicans will fall far short of 60 votes, but they're going to get closer to 60 votes now. Again, they started with 51 votes at the beginning of the night. If, in fact, they gain two or three seats here, that gets them closer to that 60- vote margin in order to make sure that they can break off and break out filibusters and stop Democrats from filibustering on judges, energy bills, et cetera. There has been a lot of talk about obstructionism, and Republicans will see this as a major victory -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Ed Henry in Washington for us, thanks very much.

We're going to take another quick break. Much more coverage coming up from the CNN election headquarters in Times Square. We still don't know who the next president of the United States is going to be, but we're going to continue to try to find out together with you, our viewers. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: The lights are still bright here in Times Square at the Nasdaq Marketsite, CNN election headquarters in New York. Welcome back to our coverage. Just after 1:30 a.m. on the East Coast. We're still covering the story. We're still trying to see who is going to be the next president of the United States. Welcome back to our viewers in the United States and around the world.

CNN's Candy Crowley is up in Boston at the Kerry campaign headquarters. Candy is joining us now live.

I understand Kerry, the -- Candy, the Kerry campaign has put out a statement.

CROWLEY: They have. You know, it's not over until somebody hits 270, and not one electoral vote sooner.

This from Mary Beth Cahill, who, of course, is the campaign manager of the Kerry campaign. She says -- quote: "The vote count in Ohio has not been completed. There are more than 250,000 remaining votes to be counted. We believe when they are, John Kerry will win Ohio."

No concession speech here. They're still waiting for the votes to be counted -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Let me show our viewers those votes. Candy, stick around. Right now, with 91 percent of the precincts reporting in Ohio, Bush has 51 percent, 2.5 million, to Kerry's 49 percent, 2.4 million plus. Still a very, very close race in Ohio.

Let's try to get a little assessment of what that -- Larry, when you see that, when you see that close vote in Ohio, and we're not projecting a win yet at this point, you have to say to yourself it could still go -- maybe the Democrats know what they're talking about; then again, maybe they're just spinning.

KING: Well, they said they want to get within 50,000, and then if there are 250,000 of those provisional votes, we still don't know how they're going to go, but they assume they'll get a majority of those, they can still win Ohio. Then what do they got to do? Then they've got to win most of those other states.

BLITZER: Right.

KING: So it's a real crapshoot. They've got to -- if he pulls this off, I would say that would border on -- that would top the Red Sox coming from three down.

BLITZER: All right. Let's make another projection now. CNN is ready to make a projection. CNN can now project Washington State in the Pacific Northwest, Washington State will be won by John Kerry and its 11 electoral votes. John Kerry capturing Washington State. This is a state that went for Al Gore four years ago. Kerry retains it.

Let's see what we can do now. Let's move over to the race for the White House. This is an updated tally. With 270 needed to be elected president of the United States, the president has 249, John Kerry has 211. And we're still going to continue to watch what's going on here on this very, very long night.

Judy Woodruff is watching all of this.

Judy, we expected a long night. It is a long night. And it could be an even longer night. WOODRUFF: Wolf, I'm just counting up how many states we still have out, where the polls have closed. And I think I have 11. I may have to count it again, because it's late. But we see an election that certainly at this point President Bush has the advantage. And Ohio is hanging in the balance.

You've been talking about all of the states that are still out there. It seems to me that we may be waiting until tomorrow morning or even longer just because of that provisional ballot issue in Ohio. A lot of people said Ohio was going to be the Florida of 2004. Maybe it is. Maybe this will get resolved, but right now I would imagine there are some lawyers who are looking into getting on an airplane and getting to Ohio tonight or in the morning.

BLITZER: So, Judy, the bottom line is that it doesn't look, based on what Candy is saying, based on Mary Beth Cahill is saying in that written statement, the chair of the Kerry campaign, that they're nowhere near getting ready to concede.

WOODRUFF: No, they are clearly discouraged, Wolf. I mean, they had hoped to be closer, had hoped to be ahead at this point. They poured their heart and soul into Ohio just as the Bush campaign did. And they see these numbers, and they're discouraged by them. But they also argue that there are, they say, 250,000 provisional ballots out.

Now, it's my understanding that Ohio's secretary of state, Ken Blackwell, who happens to be a Republican, is saying that he doesn't see that many provisional uncounted ballots out there. So there is already some dispute. And when you've got a margin between the president and John Kerry that is, what, about 120,000 right now, you get to a point where even with the provisional ballots, they wouldn't make up the difference.

So a lot is going to hinge on looking very closely at how many votes are still out, and is it possible that in those outstanding votes you could make up the difference.

BLITZER: All right. Judy, stand by, because you know what? The secretary of state of Ohio, Ken Blackwell, is joining us now live. He's in Columbus, Ohio.

Mr. Blackwell, thanks very much for joining us.

How many provisional ballots do you estimate there are still out there that have yet to be counted?

KEN BLACKWELL, OHIO SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, none of the provisional ballots are counted, and they won't be counted until the 11th day after the election, Wolf. We have very clear laws on how to handle those ballots.

And remember, there are overseas ballots from our militaries and others that only have to be postmarked today. And so we have a 10-day window for all of those ballots to get in.

This is a very deliberate and conscious process. And so, you know, I tell everybody, just take a deep breath and relax. We can't predict what the results are going to be. We can only guarantee you that you're going to get an honest and fair count through our bipartisan system.

BLITZER: But does anyone know, do you know how many provisional ballots, how many military ballots -- I assume the absentee ballots have been counted. Is that right?

BLACKWELL: The absentee ballots have been counted. The provisional ballots are being tabulated as we talk. And early projections show anywhere from a, you know, 30 to 50 percent increase, and that took us, you know, under 200,000. But it could be 250,000, as the Democrats are claiming. We will know once the counties tabulate their precinct counts and get them in to us.

BLITZER: What about military...

BLACKWELL: And this...

BLITZER: What about military ballots coming in from overseas or from around the country?

BLACKWELL: They have a 10-day window, so...

BLITZER: But how many do you guess there might be?

BLACKWELL: Well, I'm not going to project or guess. That's what got people in trouble before. What I'm going to tell you is that we have a system in place that is time-tested. We've been dealing with provisional ballots in Ohio for over a decade. We know how to get the job done. And we have a very transparent process, where people can see how those votes are being handled in a bipartisan way. And when it comes time to tabulating them 11 days after this election, there is a bipartisan system or witnesses that will be there for the count. At the end of the day...

BLITZER: Right now...

BLACKWELL: At the end of the day, we are in a strong position, because we have a strong and tried and tested system that has worked for us in the past.

BLITZER: Let me just point out to our viewers, with 92 percent of the precincts now reporting officially in Ohio, 51 percent for the president, 49 for Bush (sic). There is about 100,000 spread. If it were to stay like that, 49 percent for Kerry, 51 for Bush, 100,000 margin, if you will, would it be...

BLACKWELL: Yes, that...

BLITZER: Would it be wise for the Kerry campaign to avoid conceding, given the provisional ballots that are still out there, if that spread continues along those lines?

BLACKWELL: I'm not going to advise the Kerry campaign. But I would suggest to you that if the number of votes that make up the difference between the two candidates is fewer than the number of provisional ballots, then I would say everybody should just take a deep breath and relax, because we're not going to start counting those ballots until the 11th day after this election.

And what we will start doing tomorrow is taking a look at those jackets of those ballots and trying to reconcile good ballots from, you know, bad ones. What I mean by that is that there is a process where you try to reconcile. People were given a provisional ballot, because they couldn't cast a regular ballot. So you check addresses. You make sure that that is a good ballot, and then you start counting them all 11 days after the election.

BLITZER: Why do you have to wait...

BLACKWELL: So...

BLITZER: Why do you have to wait 11 days to count, let's say, 200,000 or 250,000 that the Democrats are suggesting provisional ballots? Why do you have to wait 11 days?

BLACKWELL: Because that's the law, and that's the way the system has worked. And that is the way that you take time to reflect and you methodically deal with those ballots in a bipartisan way. And at the end of the day, the people have had control, not judges and lawyers.

And so, you know, last evening, Wolf, we asked the people of Ohio to take control of this election. Don't put it in the hands of lawyers and judges. You, in fact, come out. And people came out today. They stood in line. And I can tell you, what I saw today was a great display of civility and patience.

And what I can tell the people is that we have 50,000 poll workers, bipartisan poll workers and election officials, across 88 counties in this state that did a tremendous job today. And I can tell you right now, you know what state was the Florida of 2004? It was Florida. Ohio has, in fact, always had a superior system of elections that gives people good results and results that they can have confidence in as reflecting the will of the voters.

BLITZER: One final question, Ken Blackwell, before I let you go. You're a Republican. You're the secretary of state of Ohio. But I know you've been sensitive all these many weeks and months leading up to today. You don't want to be going down in history as the Katherine Harris of Ohio. Katherine Harris was the Republican secretary of state in Florida who came under enormous criticism for the way she handled the recount, if you will, in Florida.

Give our viewers a sense of what's going through your mind as the secretary of state of Ohio right now to make sure that everyone emerges from the vote tally in Ohio with a pure sense that this was free and fair and perfect.

BLACKWELL: Well, I'll tell you, Wolf, a lot of folks flew in to Ohio today and the day before expecting that we were going to see the same sort of confusion that was seen in Florida. We have the personnel. We have the procedures and the policies. It is the strength of the system that guarantees that Ohio can deal with a robust election.

I'm not in the business of saying that we must have a narrow or a substantial margin of victory. I'm telling you that we have a system that can deal with an honest count and an honest process regardless of the margin. That's why I don't worry about Ohio or Ohioans being considered to be, you know, a problematic state. If, in fact, the race has been robust and close and both candidates have poured their hearts out into this state in this race, what we can give them as Ohioans is an honest count, just like we gave them a good day today in the way we managed the election process.

BLITZER: Ken Blackwell, good luck to you. Good luck to all of the people in Ohio. The whole nation, dare I say the whole world, will be watching the Buckeye State in the hours, maybe days, to come if it's going to take 11 days to even begin counting those provisional ballots. Good luck to you, Ken Blackwell. Thanks very much.

BLACKWELL: Thank you.

BLITZER: And just to show our viewers the count right now with 92 percent of the precincts in Ohio reporting, Bush at 51 percent, Kerry at 49 percent, a little bit more than 100,000 vote difference.

We're going to take a quick break. We're going to continue our coverage as long as it takes here at CNN election headquarters. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: It's getting close to 2:00 a.m. on the East Coast. We don't know the results of this election yet. Maybe we will know tonight; maybe not.

CNN's Aaron Brown is joining us with some thoughts that he has.

AARON BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: We've talked a lot about values tonight. Let's talk about Iraq for a second. Should the president prevail tonight -- we're not saying he will. There are votes to count. There are probably lawsuits to be filed. But you've got to sort of like his position. And if he does win, Iraq is now his problem to solve.

Every poll showed the president had a considerable edge in dealing with Iraq, even if support for the war itself diminished. Perhaps as early as this weekend there is likely to be a battle for Fallujah. There is no doubt it's a battle the Americans can win, but at what cost?

And then come January, about the time the president is sworn in again, should that happen, there are supposed to be elections in Iraq. Today, given the state of play there, it is hard to see how they can be run. It doesn't mean they won't be, but the situation on the ground has to change.

The president pushed hard to take the country to war in Iraq, and the post-war has hardly gone well. His legacy will be on the line there. And for all of the talk about values tonight -- and we take that seriously -- his party's prospects will be at stake as well.

Colin Powell famously said about Iraq, you break it, you fix it. Should the president win tonight, Iraq is his problem to fix. His place in history may well depend on it.

BLITZER: As you look at these numbers, Aaron, right now, you'd rather be Bush than Kerry.

BROWN: I'd rather be Bush than Kerry by a lot right now. But, I mean, we're sort of beyond the inside straight analogy. It's Ohio or nothing. I mean, he has to win there. And he's not going to win there, it doesn't seem, tonight. He's going to have to win it 11 days out.

KING: And he has to win the other states, too.

BROWN: He absolutely has to -- well, but, again, I mean, if you look at the map, he is, without projecting anything, the senator stands a good chance of winning in Minnesota. He stands a pretty good chance of winning Iowa, Michigan certainly. Iowa and Wisconsin are pretty much in play at this point. Let's assume he sweeps them.

KING: OK.

BROWN: OK? Let's assume he does that.

KING: Loses Nevada.

BROWN: Loses Nevada and loses...

KING: New Mexico.

BROWN: ... New Mexico. He still has to win Ohio. And we're still not going to -- he can't win it tonight. He could lose it tonight. But as I listened to the secretary of state, it seemed pretty clear to me that we're a week and a half, two weeks away from -- if that's where we are -- that Ohio is the ultimate tipping point. We're not going to know.

BLITZER: And we may all be -- we all may be going out to Columbus, Ohio, the next two weeks. Eleven days they're going to wait to count those provisional ballots. And you heard Ken Blackwell, the secretary of state, say there might be as many as 250,000, which is what the Democrats are suggesting.

BROWN: It's going to make us wish that the Florida of this election was Florida, because I can tell you that Ohio in late November is a lot less pleasant weather than Florida in late November.

BLITZER: Columbus, Ohio.

KING: You're not kidding.

BLITZER: David Gergen has been with us all night, and he's still with us. And we may be here for a few more hours. Who knows, David? Give us your take at this moment -- what time is it? Almost 2:00 a.m. on the East Coast.

GERGEN: Well, Wolf, I had a question for you. If we do have to wait on Ohio, is it possible that Bush could go ahead and get his 21 votes tonight from the states that are still outstanding?

KING: Yes.

GERGEN: He has a slight lead in Iowa. If he cobbles together Iowa and Nevada and New Mexico, for example -- I don't have the numbers right in front of me -- is that enough to win? Or can he put together a combination that's still out there?

BLITZER: Well, you know, if you do the math and you take a look at some of those numbers, you know, he's getting pretty close. Iowa has seven. New Mexico has five. That's 12. And Nevada, which is the other state you're looking at, has five. That's 17.

GERGEN: Then he's a little short.

BLITZER: He's still a little short even if he carries those three states.

GERGEN: Yes. What about the states remaining? Are there any that he's ahead in?

BLITZER: Well, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan, those states, I think the last time I checked, Kerry was slightly, slightly ahead.

GERGEN: Well, the Bush people thought they might be able to carry Wisconsin. I don't know what the numbers are there.

BLITZER: Well, we can get those numbers for our viewers and put them up.

GERGEN: Yes.

BLITZER: But what's the bottom line of what you're saying, David?

GERGEN: Well, the bottom line is this: That if Kerry sweeps the board, as Aaron was just saying, on everything else other than Ohio, and Ohio can't be resolved tonight, the country is clearly going to have to wait these 10 days, because it's not just the provisional ballots; it's also the military ballots. And there is going to be a lot of suspense about how those all add up together. But that assumes Kerry sweeps the board.

What if Bush picks off two or three or four of these states that are still outstanding? He would still win tonight even without Ohio. And we wouldn't have to wait the 10 days.

GREENFIELD: Yes.

KING: Right, that's correct.

BLITZER: You know what we're going to do right now, and I want to go up the screen. David, stand by. Ohio. We've never done this before, but this is the first time we're going to do it. Look at this. Ohio, CNN is now projecting, is a green state. Too close to call. A green state. That's because with 93 percent of the precincts reporting, Bush has 2.595 million votes, Kerry has 2.491 million votes, about 100,000 vote spread, 93 percent of the vote in.

We've got a lot of information, based on exit polls, based on real numbers, based on surveys. We are now projecting -- and this is a real projection -- that Ohio is too close to call. It's a green state, Jeff Greenfield.

Before we talk to Jeff Greenfield, let's take a look at the race for the White House as it stands right now, 249 for Bush electoral votes, 211 for Kerry, 270 needed. And you know what? We've never seen this before. A green state, the Buckeye State, Ohio. That's something we didn't necessarily anticipate, although we had it in our color scheme.

GREENFIELD: Yes. I think in 2000 it was yellow. But I think -- you know, I guess what they'll say in Ohio is it's not easy being green.

First, to answer Dave Gergen's question, it is theoretically possible for Bush to get the 270 without Ohio. If he took one of the upper Midwestern states, if he could take Minnesota and Iowa and New Mexico and Hawaii, he could do that. That's possible.

The second question is this: Four years ago in that recount, one of the reasons why Al Gore had some strength to do this was that he had gotten half a million more votes in the country than Bush. It didn't mean anything legally, but it had a kind of important political message.

If we go out of Ohio with George Bush holding, say, a 50,000 vote lead and it comes down to provisional ballots, John Kerry and his campaign has to challenge George Bush knowing that they have lost the national popular vote by 3.5 million votes. It's a much...

KING: That's still a lot.

GREENFIELD: It's a much tougher position, I think, politically.

WATSON: Well, two things. One, they would say 3.5 million, but it's also 3 percent. And they would point to the last time we had a big controversy like that in 1876 where the popular vote was 3 percent, but it wasn't 3.5 million.

But the other thing that's very interesting, I just spoke to a number of members of the Kerry campaign, it sounds like not only do they not want to concede, but they're now in formal recount mode, and that they may be prepared in the next couple of hours to announce several lawyers who are going to head up efforts not only in Ohio, but significantly in Iowa as well.

(CROSSTALK) WATSON: Well, if the numbers initially showed that they were losing Iowa, Iowa doesn't have an automatic recount law, but it seems that they're prepared to go to court and try and pursue that effort.

GREENFIELD: I'm really making a point that I think it gets much tougher to take this into overtime when you're running three million votes. But legally, absolutely. The electoral vote is what counts. It's simply...

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Jeff, you know the mood. You know the mood of the Democratic Party right now. Do you have any doubt whatsoever despite the three million, let's say, or whatever the spread is nationally in the general vote, that if they felt they could get more votes in Ohio they wouldn't do that?

GERGEN: If they have a chance to win the presidency by challenging Ohio, sure they will do that.

KING: Of course they would.

BLITZER: Yes.

KING: Because they're looking at four years ago. They won the election, got the highest popular vote in the history of the country, and they didn't see the president.

BLITZER: Judy Woodruff is at the CNN election analysis center. And she's going to explain to us -- Judy, I hope you're going to explain to us how is it that we were able to project too close to call for Ohio, this critical battleground state, right now?

WOODRUFF: Well, Wolf, because literally with a 104,000 vote margin between President Bush and John Kerry, the president out in front, there are still, I'm told, something like 387,000 votes still outstanding.

Now, we're trying to confirm these numbers, because separately we're told better than 90 percent of the precincts are in. But still, that many hundreds of thousands of votes still out. And then you just heard Ken Blackwell, Ohio's secretary of state, saying that there are at least 120,000 provisional votes out.

And Jeff Toobin, our legal analyst, is with me. Jeff, you and I were talking about this, because the Kerry campaign is saying there could be as many as 250,000. So the math does present itself as possible for Kerry to make up the difference.

TOOBIN: If you add up the 387,000 votes...

WOODRUFF: Right.

TOOBIN: ... plus the theoretically 250,000 provisional ballots, that gives us 600,000 outstanding ballots in Ohio, with 100,000 margin. That seems too close to call. WOODRUFF: Now, one complicating thing, of course, is that we don't know. Those provisional ballots, it's believed that they are primarily Democratic, but we have no way of knowing that.

TOOBIN: And we don't know how many there are exactly. It could be 100,000.

WOODRUFF: Right.

TOOBIN: It could be 250,000.

WOODRUFF: And we heard Ken Blackwell.

TOOBIN: Right.

WOODRUFF: The other thing -- and I've just been checking with Stew Rothenberg (ph) on this, and we want to be clear about that -- is that of the vote that hasn't been counted, the actual vote that's outstanding, a lot of it is in areas that George Bush has done very well in. So you can't assume that most of that vote would automatically go to John Kerry. But because we can't be sure, we are saying Ohio is too close to call.

BLITZER: Just to be precise, Judy and Jeff, there may be other news organizations that are projecting Ohio a win for John Kerry. CNN is not. We're saying it's too close to call. We have a ton of information about this thing, but we can't project it a win for George W. Bush or John Kerry at this point, because as you point out, Jeffrey, there may be as many as 600,000 votes still out there.

Go ahead, Jeff, you want to make a point.

TOOBIN: Well, that's right. And just to complicate matters a little further, there are also recount provisions in Ohio. Ohio has a law that says if the election is within .25 percent, a quarter of a percent, that's an automatic recount. That is about 13,000 votes. Kerry is well short of automatic recount territory.

However, under Ohio law, any candidate and a group of five voters can ask for a recount. So that is also a possibility that's out there.

WOODRUFF: Wolf, if I could just interrupt very quickly and bring some news to our viewers from the state of Iowa, and that is we are told that because of broken machines -- and I'm reading now a report into CNN -- because of a delay in opening absentee ballots and apparent fatigue in the office of the election officials, this is all going to delay the secretary of state's report of a final count in the presidential election in Iowa until sometime on Wednesday.

Now, we have just learned this just a matter of a few minutes ago from Iowa election officials. There are at least two central count machines -- these are machines that are used to read paper ballots used by optical scanners in Greene County and Harrison County. These have broken down, according to the secretary of state's office. New machines are being sent tomorrow from the manufacturer. Shortly after midnight, we are also told that absentee ballots are still being opened in Lee County.

For all these reasons and because of the fatigue -- I'm using the word that the folks in Iowa are using -- we're not going to get an Iowa count. So both in the states of Iowa, Wolf, and Ohio we are looking at a delay in knowing the results of those states.

BLITZER: So we won't know the results of Iowa, at least until tomorrow.

Larry, do you want to weigh in?

KING: Yes, this is for both of you, Judy and Wolf. Does that mean that unless President Bush takes four out of the other six states, we don't have a result tonight?

BLITZER: We may not have a result tonight, that's right. We're going to...

KING: We don't have a result tonight.

BLITZER: We're going to (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Iowa, and Iowa, what, has seven electoral votes. Those are very important electoral votes.

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