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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Bush Leads in Ohio by 140,000 Votes
Aired November 3, 2004 - 04:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Jeffrey Toobin, our senior legal analyst, is watching all of this. The legal question is certainly going to come into play at least as far as we can tell in Ohio, Jeff.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SR. LEGAL ANALYST: Ohio is really it for Kerry. I mean, he cannot win this election without winning Ohio. And the magnitude of his task is becoming increasingly apparent and increasingly.
I mean, just to review the numbers a little bit, he is now 140,000 votes, approximately, behind. There may be 160,000, maybe 200,000 provisional ballots. Not all of those will be valid. Maybe 90 percent will be valid if the last election is any indication. He then has to win virtually all of them to make up the 140,000-vote gap. That seems virtually impossible to me.
So Ohio -- Kerry's hopes for Ohio seem not non-existent but awfully close at this point.
JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SENIOR ANALYST: If I can ask you, Jeffrey -- this is another Jeffrey. This is Greenfield. If the Kerry campaign chooses to pursue this route, even given this arithmetic, is there any way for the state officials to say, "I'm sorry. What you're asking is mathematically ridiculous. You can't make up the difference, therefore, we're not going to count these ballots," or do they count them anyway?
TOOBIN: I think, as a general matter, they will count them anyway. I think it's a matter of discretion on the part of the secretary of state and the boards. But I am not aware of any precedent where they simply refuse to count the provisional ballots.
Given the way Ken Blackwell, the secretary of state, has been acting so far, he's been on the magnanimous side. I think politically it would be very much in his interest to say, "Sure, we'll count the votes." But without the...
BLITZER: Are there any other legal -- Jeff, any other legal issues potentially out there still unanswered in Ohio that could affect this race?
TOOBIN: Well, the one thing we don't know, and one thing the Kerry people in their conversations with us have been quick to avoid, is the question of, will they ask for a recount? There are more than half the ballots in Ohio are cast by the infamous punch cards. You could have a chad watch. I mean, you could have the Gore -- the Kerry campaign say, "We want a recount." They have the right to do that. Whether or not -- whether or not they are within any margin in particular, they have the right to do that. So they could open up the whole election and say, "We want to recount the votes and we think we'll catch up that way." They've not said that politically. I think that would be very difficult.
BLITZER: Jeff, I know Ken Gross is over there not far away from you. Maybe you could bring him into this conversation. I'd like to hear what he has to say. He knows a great deal about election law around the country.
KEN GROSS, CNN ELECTION LAW ANALYST: Yes, hi, Wolf.
I agree with what Jeff is saying. This of course is going to be a tremendous uphill battle for Senator Kerry just on the math alone. I think the one thing that could work to his benefit is if this takes time, you know, if there's a process that's going to go on here on the counting of the provisional ballots, in the tabulation of the vote itself, in the certification of the vote, time for more legal action, perhaps viewing the ballots to see whether there is any problem with the hanging chads, and other things that can occur.
It's a long shot, but as long as this remains open, the better off the Kerry camp has a shot.
TOOBIN: Wolf, can I ask Ken a question that I tried artfully to dodge when I believe Jeff asked me?
Is there any way that the provisional ballots will not be counted at this point?
GROSS: No, they will count them. As my understanding is of the law that they will count them.
TOOBIN: They will count them.
GROSS: I think as a matter of law. And also, it's the wise thing to do, in any event, because you want to have finality.
I suppose there is an interesting question as to whether Bush would want to even bring a challenge. What we saw last time in Florida was the two campaigns going at it, or will the Bush campaign say, "OK, let the process -- we've got a big enough margin here where we can be somewhat magnanimous and let this process go on," or are we going to see some counter legal action?
LARRY KING, CNN HOST: And, gentlemen, could Kerry have second thoughts and concede?
TOOBIN: Absolutely. I mean, that's a political judgment. That's not a legal judgment. And he can do that at any point.
And, you know, as Ken and I are saying here, I think his legal situation is dire.
GREENFIELD: John King was making that point, apparently, with already Democrats calling up and saying, "Look, there may come a point..."
BLITZER: That was Ed Henry, our congressional correspondent.
GREENFIELD: Yes. Sorry. Saying there may come a point where you don't want to do this. You're going to cause damage to the party by seeming to be just unwilling to accept the results.
So, unless they think they've got a shot at actually getting -- I mean a real shot, not some theoretical one -- there may be some pressure on Kerry to say, you know, from Democrats to say, "Please don't do this. We've got enough problems."
KING: Concession ain't legal, anyway, right? I mean, if you concede and then they count and you win, you win, right? Just an example. We had that happen in Florida once. The guy conceded the governorship and won it.
BLITZER: OK. That was something I'm not familiar with but I guess...
TOOBIN: I'm sure John Kerry would accept that result.
KING: We had a guy concede and then won it.
BLITZER: While I have you and Ken Gross there, overall, we were expecting for legal problems all over the country. It looks like it went relatively smoothly so far, based on what we can tell, right, Jeff?
TOOBIN: Absolutely. You know, the phrase that was on everyone's lips was "thousands of lawyers." There are thousands of lawyers out. And there were. But the number of controversies during the day was, in my experience, probably somewhat below average. It was really a very clean election.
There were a few small disputes. Interestingly, some of the things we thought would be controversial were not. In the last few days leading up to the election, there was a big fight in Ohio about the presence of challengers in the voting precincts. Some Democrats fought the Republicans very hard.
It was racing up and down the federal courts and the state courts. The Republicans won. They got the challengers inside the polling places. And there were no controversies. The process seemed to work pretty well.
KING: Jeff, was the biggest political surprise on the Kerry side the size of his Pennsylvania win, Jeff Greenfield? I mean, they all thought that was nip and tuck, and he won it rather easily.
GREENFIELD: Yes. But I have a feeling that that's like, apart from that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play? Really, I mean, I don't...
KING: We've been here for nine hours. We're waiting for Wisconsin. I'm trying to make conversation. Jeff, there's a point to this.
GREENFIELD: I just -- I don't know whether or not anybody in the Kerry campaign or the Democratic Party is going to say, well, we're four million votes down, we're hanging by a hair...
KING: But look how we did in Pennsylvania.
GREENFIELD: ... but boy, that Pennsylvania came through.
BLITZER: We're going to look at New Jersey. We did really well there.
GREENFIELD: I think the Democratic Party is going to wake up tomorrow, or whenever this resolves itself, and say, "We have some very serious thinking to do about what we are and what's happened."
KING: Bad night for the Democrats.
BLITZER: Well, in the House of Representatives and the Senate. And it looks like -- certainly looks at this point like it was a bad night in the race for the White House as well.
KING: The only bright spot is the Senate in Illinois.
BLITZER: Barack Obama.
KING: Barack Obama is the man.
GREENFIELD: I don't think we had a result in the Florida Senate race yet.
KING: Do we?
BLITZER: I don't know that. And maybe we do, but -- if we do, we haven't been able to project it yet.
GREENFIELD: That's what I mean. But at least four Democratic southern seats in the South went Republican.
CARLOS WATSON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: But still a couple more races potentially to hear about. We got to hear about Florida. We got to hear about Louisiana.
GREENFIELD: There is a net loss, no matter what.
WATSON: Right. Colorado and Alaska, all of those are...
(CROSSTALK) BLITZER: Maybe we can get those numbers updated and see what -- where we could, you know, find out what's going on in those races.
Jeff, anything else that our viewers need to know right now about the legal issues as we get ready? Looks like New Mexico, they're going to wait until tomorrow to finish up counting the ballots, same in Iowa, because of some technical problems, fatigue as it was called, and Ohio, we understand what's going on there?
TOOBIN: Well, the one thing about those outstanding, Ohio, Iowa, New Mexico, they're all close. But none of them are close enough to require an automatic recount. So we really could have them over tomorrow if the numbers come in more or less as they are now.
So it's really, again, more a political judgment on John Kerry's part on whether to fight or throw in the towel, rather than it is a legal controversy at this point.
GROSS: I also think it's worth making the point that provisional ballots are not really a problem. Ironically, it was a solution to some of the problems that they had in Florida last time, and while it's a little upsetting, because it seems like there isn't finality on election night, it's actually a good thing, because people who might otherwise have been disenfranchised, at least their vote is counting at some point in the process.
BLITZER: Ken Gross, Jeffrey Toobin, thanks very much.
Let me walk up here and show our viewers what the popular vote looks like right now. With 95 percent of the precincts in the United States reporting, the president, 56.5 million votes, 51 percent, John Kerry with 52.8 million votes, 48 percent. Ralph Nader, just gone up to 382,989, about 1 percent of the vote.
You know, I'm struck by the fact, Jeff, and Carlos and Larry, that in the final CNN-"USA Today"-Gallup poll a couple days ago, it was 49 percent, 49 percent. There was a 3 percent margin of error. And if you look at that, that's within the margin of error, right, Jeff?
GREENFIELD: All of the pre-election polls -- when CNN did its so-called poll of polls where we take them all together and mix them up in a giant goulash so that no one poll has too much influence, the margin, right from the last couple of weeks for Bush nationally was about two to three points, never changed.
And on that score, the pre-election polls were right and the polls state by state were all over the place. So, yes, this seemed to be where this election was after the last debate, and really basically didn't move.
I think what people were looking at were state polls that, in some cases, were showing dead heats, Kerry competitive in a lot of the battleground states, including states that Gore had lost four years ago. But I think the point that Bill Schneider made can't be overlooked. There was a massive turnout of everybody, including people determined not to vote -- or to vote for the president in support of who he was and what his belief system was, rather than any specific set of policies.
BLITZER: I think we're going to get a picture. I want to put it up on one of these video screens, if we have it. Lisa Murkowski, the Republican incumbent senator -- Republican incumbent senator from Alaska. There it is right now. You see a broadband picture there. We believe she's declaring victory in Alaska.
She's been challenged by Tony Knowles, the former governor of Alaska, the Democrat. But this would be a big win for the Republicans if Lisa Murkowski, the daughter of Frank Murkowski, the governor of Alaska, manages to hold on to that seat, Carlos.
WATSON: You know, she was a state legislator before her father, who was then a sitting U.S. senator, ran for governor, won that, appointed her. A lot of criticism. Democrats even tried to put a ballot initiative out that they called the anti-nepotism law to try and highlight that issue.
But if Lisa Murkowski ultimately succeeds here, it'd be a nice win not only for her but for Republicans who, at one point, worried about losing that seat to a two-term former Democratic governor.
GREENFIELD: The Democrats tried to take advantage of the resentment about the senator-turned-governor appointing his daughter. They had a bumper sticker that read, "Lisa, who's your daddy?" Apparently that didn't have enough impact in Alaska to prevent her from winning, if that's what's going on.
BLITZER: For viewers who may just be tuning in, and I assume there are some viewers who may just be tuning in, we're standing by. We're waiting. The president of the United States, and possibly the vice president of the United States, may be leaving the White House, driving over to the Reagan building a few blocks away in Washington, D.C. to speak to a crowd that's still remains there.
We'll be anxious to hear what the president has to say. We're standing by for that and we'll go there if the president does leave the White House and make that short little drive, Larry. You used to live in Washington, D.C. It's not very far from the White House.
KING: Haven't been there in a while, but it's not far. I live in California now, Wolf. Out there, you know, the state that's tilting and...
BLITZER: John King is over at the White House, still the north lawn of the White House. He's been there for hours and hours and hours. May still be there a few more hours.
Dark behind you. Normally, John, they turn off the lights behind you. But what's going on? JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Usually the first lady has us kicked off the grounds hours ago, Wolf, to keep it quiet here. What is going on is, just a few moments ago, the president of the United States came down from the residence, popped into Karl Rove, his top political adviser's office, and said, "What's the hold up?"
He wants to go declare victory. He certainly wants to go and talk to his supporters. They're awaiting here and they are hoping that we will call the race in New Mexico. They will claim Ohio. They think the Democratic math is wrong and that there's no way John Kerry can come back and win Ohio.
So they are willing to claim Ohio here at Bush White House. We have now called Nevada. They want New Mexico called. And they say, if you look at the math, there is no way John Kerry can come back there. They say the few remaining precincts out are in counties where Bush is running well ahead. And they say there are only 5,000 absentee ballots yet to be counted. And they have a cushion of roughly 26,000 votes.
So the White House is saying that it has New Mexico locked up to the point where Senator Pete Domenici went out and declared victory. The White House trying to create the impression of a fait accompli here, if you will, to try to get us to call New Mexico.
At that point, they would claim they have the 270 electoral votes, counting Ohio, which, of course, is contested right now by the Kerry side. And then the president would go to the Reagan building and deliver to his supporters who have been up all night a victory speech.
Now, if they don't get New Mexico called tonight, then they have to recalibrate, and the decision then is, does the president go over and say, "We're almost there, hang in," or exactly what does he say? Or do they decide to keep him here?
But I was told just moments ago, the president wants to go. I was about to say he wants to go tonight. He wants to go this morning, and that he is still anxiously awaiting for his aides to tell him they believe they have reached the magic number.
BLITZER: John, I want to point out, we had reported about an hour or so ago that the secretary of state of New Mexico, a Democrat, governor of New Mexico, Democrat Bill Richardson, secretary of state, said there are still some ballots they have to count. They're not going to be able to make a formal certification at least until tomorrow.
So if the president and the Republicans are waiting for that announcement from the state officials in New Mexico, it's not going to come any time soon.
J. KING: They understand that. And they say that the Democrats, or the secretary of state, whether it be a Democrat or not, it is in New Mexico, but they have every right to shut down. What they are saying is, if you ask, though, how many ballots are outstanding, this White House is saying the information is it has is that there are only 5,000 absentee ballots to be counted. And the president's cushion is well above that.
So that is what they're saying, that if we do the math on our part, we should be able to call this state.
WATSON: Although our numbers, interestingly enough, John, show -- and maybe our numbers are right or wrong -- show a 3,700-vote lead for the president instead of a larger lead. So I have a feeling that that may remain an issue with us projecting the president winning New Mexico.
BLITZER: With 99 percent of precincts reporting.
J. KING: It's one of the issues that comes up. They say to us, under normal circumstances, you would have called this race by now. And our response, of course, is these are not normal circumstances.
GREENFIELD: John, though, with Ohio -- if they're counting Ohio, the president has more than 270 electoral votes without New Mexico. What's the point of waiting for New Mexico?
J. KING: They want that state. They believe they've won that state. They may well decide not to wait any longer. They sent Senator Domenici out there, trying to ask people and they say their analysis, as Carlos is suggest, that perhaps there are different numbers out there.
They are saying their analysis gets it there. They set that goal a long time ago, that they wanted those two western states called, they believed they would win them, and then they wanted to go.
But there is a sense of anxiousness here. They know they had been up all night, just as we have been up all night. And, as I mentioned, while they're in Karl Rove's office, several senior staffers and they're calling in to the states, they're clicking up on these counties, looking at the results come in.
When the president himself popped in a short time ago and said, "What's the hold up?" The motorcade is on the other side of the White House. It is gassed up and ready to go. And the Secret Service is here, ready to take the president over to the Reagan building. They're simply waiting -- the aides to say, "Let's go."
KING: John, isn't that the president's decision?
J. KING: It is the president's decision. But this president remembers all too well the contested environment of four years ago. So he wants all the people he trusts most to say, "Let's do it, Mr. President, we believe now it is beyond any reasonable doubt."
BLITZER: John, I want to show our viewers a picture we're getting from South Dakota. John Thune, the Republican challenger to the Democratic leader in the Senate, Tom Daschle, he's speaking to his supporters. We'll put the numbers up that we have. With 99 percent of the precincts reporting in South Dakota right now, we have John Thune with 196,906, 51 percent of the vote, Daschle with 188,067, 49 percent of the vote, with 99 percent of the precincts still out.
That's a small state. We have not yet been able to project a winner in this Senate contest in South Dakota. John Thune is speaking now. Maybe we'll just listen in for a minute and hear what he has to say.
JOHN THUNE (R), U.S. SENATE CANDIDATE: I am enormously grateful that they have given me the opportunity to serve as their next United States senator.
THUNE: If you had told me two years ago that we would be doing this again this year...
I would have said you were crazy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are.
THUNE: These races...
THUNE: These races are hard. They're expensive and they're bruising. But last fall, when we were debating whether to do this again, we prayed a lot about it, as did a lot of other people, and finally concluded that this was something that we needed to do.
THUNE: I remember -- and I need to start first by, of course, thanking my family.
And I remember, as we were having the discussion, some of you have heard me tell this story. We were going around and around about whether to do this again. This was sometime in the last -- I guess last December.
And, you know, we did what most families do, we prayed about it, discussed it, considered it, sat down around the kitchen table and even had a family vote, secret ballot. Everybody got a chance to vote. Should Dad run for the Senate again or not?
And the vote came back 3-1 in favor of running. And I was the no-vote.
So I do have to say thank you to my wonderful family for putting up with yet another campaign. This literally has been their sixth campaign in the last ten years. They're troopers.
BLITZER: John Thune declaring himself the victor in South Dakota, in that hotly contested Senate race against Tom Daschle, the Senate Democratic leader, the minority leader, 51 percent-49 percent.
David Gergen, a bitter blow if, in fact, it turns out this way. We haven't been able to project a winner officially yet. But if Tom Daschle goes down, he fought for his political life. He was out there, and it looks like he's not going to necessarily succeed.
DAVID GERGEN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: Yes, Wolf, just underscore is the magnitude of the Republican victory tonight.
I must say, I have something of a disagreement with Jeff Greenfield about the polls and what we expected on the presidential side. I don't thing anybody expected the president to win by almost 4 million votes. And the 51 percent was, actually, I think -- well most of the national polls last week showed he was a little bit below 50 percent. And we never thought he could get to 51 percent.
So, on the presidential side, they have that. And if you look at the Senate races, the numbers you've been showing up on your board suggest that Martinez is going to win in Florida which means -- and Vitter is up 51 percent in Louisiana, which means that the Republicans look like they're heading toward picking up all five Democratic Senate seats, as well as South Dakota. The Republicans pick up only two, Illinois and Colorado, Salazar.
That means there is a net pickup of four, which is far bigger than I think most people thought the Republicans could get on the Senate side.
And very importantly, this loss of Daschle for Republicans was an absolutely critical race. And I met with about a half-a-dozen Republican senators recently. And this was the second most important race in the country to them. The president's race was first. But the Tom Daschle race was second.
Because they see him -- Democrats see Tom Daschle as one of their heroes. They think the world of him. Republicans saw him as the obstructionist. They thought if they could knock him off, then Harry Reid would be there waiting in the wings and that they could work with Harry Reid in a more bipartisan fashion and have a much, much better chance of not only getting their Supreme Court nominees through but getting their legislative packages through.
So this is a major development in South Dakota, in terms of the president's prospects for his second term.
BLITZER: Larry, you want to just ask David a question?
KING: What in this whole night surprised you the most?
GERGEN: The magnitude of the president's popular vote. KING: You had no concept that it would be that big?
GERGEN: None. I think we thought it -- there was real possibility that the president might win the popular vote and John Kerry might win the Electoral College. But the size of the victory I think is dramatic.
And this is, across the board, a series of disappointments for the Democrats and, frankly, when you go back to Jeff's and Carlos's point about how they reconsider where they are now, there are some Democrats who would like to move more to the center.
But there are going to be an awful lot of Democrats who feel that their party would abandon them. And this is a party that could can get very schizophrenic, and a lot of people who, you know, really dislike a lot of what these values represent and the emphasis upon God, and we just heard from Thune, you know, they may well start staying home and just get out of politics and wash their hands of it.
BLITZER: Hold on a second, Larry, because we've got to take a quick break. But we'll continue this, much more coverage coming up. David Gergen sticking around, Larry King sticking around, Carlos and Jeff, me, our team. We're going to continue to watch.
We're waiting to see if the president shows up at the Reagan center. We'll go there live if he does, when he does. Stay with us.
BLITZER: Approaching 4:30 a.m. on the East Coast. It's been a very long night, already into the morning hours. Here we're waiting to see if the president leaves the residence of the White House, drives a few blocks to the Reagan building, the Reagan center, also called the International Trade Center, in Washington, D.C. on 14th Street.
His supporters are still there at Bush-Cheney campaign headquarters. They're waiting for him. They're excited. Of course, if he goes there and speaks, we'll take that live and see what he says. It could be an interesting drama to see how far he goes. Will he declare victory? Will he come close to declaring victory? What will he say?
GREENFIELD: You know, at this point, I care much less what he says than he either decides to say it or go to sleep. I mean, this notion about waiting for New Mexico, it may be Karl Rove's vengeance, on what he might consider a hostile press.
KING: I know, Wolf, you love this. But his remarks tonight will not reign in history.
BLITZER: The president of the United States?
KING: No. I don't think it's going to be among the great speeches ever delivered, nor among the most important ever delivered. I mean, it's interesting, any time a president speaks, it's interesting, at 4:30, 4:40, in the morning, this is later than when McGovern got nominated.
WATSON: Preferably they may wait until a more reasonable hour, which is not that much (UNINTELLIGIBLE) but one of the things we haven't talked about tonight, I think a lot of other people around the world watching this too. So, not only are Americans curious about this, but a lot of people around the world expressed interest...
BLITZER: We're being seen live around the world on CNN International.
Judy Woodruff's over at the CNN election analysis center at the Time-Warner Building a few blocks away from where we are, Times Square. Let me bring in Judy.
Judy, you look as perky and as lovely now as you did at 7:00 p.m. Eastern time when we began this extensive coverage.
JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: It's an optical illusion.
You all are having entirely too much fun over there, Wolf, considering that it's 4:30 in morning. We are right exactly where you left us the last time I talked to you, and that is that we have five states that we still haven't called.
Everybody knows we haven't called Ohio. We're not going to hear any more about New Mexico or about Iowa tonight. There is Wisconsin and Nevada still out there.
The White House would love to hear -- the Bush campaign would love to hear a call on those. I don't see any evidence that we're going to call them imminently, unless my colleagues behind me are about to do something.
All right. I'm hearing that we're about to make a call, so maybe you want to hang with me for a minute or maybe you want to go somewhere else. But we may be about to a call.
KING: We did call Nevada. We called Nevada.
WOODRUFF: We did call Nevada. I'm sorry. My mistake. We did call Nevada. We did call Nevada. It's early in the morning.
KING: The only change has been New Hampshire from four years ago.
WATSON: So far.
WOODRUFF: That's right. But, in terms of what the president might say if he goes over there, my guess is that it would be brief and that it would be gracious and it's entirely in the White House interest to have these votes counted. But other than that, I'm waiting with all the rest of you.
BLITZER: What about the Senate? You're looking at some Senate races, as well, Judy. You have some Senate projections -- oh, never mind. I thought you had them. But Anderson Cooper -- here is Anderson Cooper. He's still with us.
We got some projections, Anderson?
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: We do. Still with you. We can project, you saw him speaking just a short time ago, John Thune, projected winner for South Dakota, this a massive defeat for the Democrats, a huge money -- this is the most expensive Senate race in South Dakota history, more than $30 million put in by both these candidates, almost $10 million by outside groups, so some $40 million.
When you consider there are only about 300,000 voters in the state of South Dakota, this a major defeat for Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle.
Let's also look for Louisiana, another amazing victory for the Republicans. This is the first time a Republican has been sent to the Senate from Louisiana since reconstruction. They have a primary system. There were a number of Democratic candidates. But David Vitter the winner with a commanding lead, more than 50 percent -- that's what he needed.
Also in Colorado, some good news for the Democrats. Democrat Ken Salazar defeating Pete Coors, this another big money race, very expensive race in Colorado. Ken Salazar running as a conservative Democrat from rural Colorado. The Hispanic American, several generations in Colorado.
A lot of new registered voters in Colorado, Hispanic voters. The big question was would they turn out. Apparently, it has been enough to put Ken Salazar over the top. So this one small victory for the Democratic Party today in a night which has not been good for them at all, Wolf.
BLITZER: And that's a takeover of a Republican seat, Ben Nighthorse Campbell had been the incumbent senator, Republican from Colorado. Ken Salazar beating Pete Coors, the Republican.
COOPER: We should also point out that we understand that Tom Daschle is going to make some -- have something to say around 11:30 a.m. from Sioux Falls.
Also, Betty Castor is supposed to be speaking around 10:30 a.m. She refusing to concede. Mel Martinez has already declared victory. Let's take a look here. Mel Martinez declaring victory at this point, but Betty Castor refusing to admit defeat at this point. And we have not projected this state at all. Betty Castor will make remarks, we anticipate, at 10:30 a.m. Eastern time, another closely watched race.
BLITZER: All right, Mel Martinez, the former secretary of housing and urban development in this Bush administration. He resigned to go back to Florida to run for the Republican nomination, got that, and now he's got 50 percent of the vote to 48 percent for Betty Castor with 99 percent of the precincts reporting.
COOPER: And Mel Martinez could be the first Cuban-American to serve in the Senate if he, in fact, does win, as it looks like at this point he will. But, again, we're not projecting anything at this point.
BLITZER: That's the seat being given up by the retiring Bob Graham, the Democrat from Florida.
BLITZER: If the Republican manages to hold on, that would be a net-plus.
So, anything else that you have for us?
COOPER: No, that's it. So we're right now -- we're looking for a net-plus of four seats in the Senate for Republicans.
BLITZER: That's a significant win.
WATSON: Anderson, you know what's significant is, we talked about it before, we go from having no Hispanics in the U.S. Senate since the mid-1970s to at least one and potentially two in this election, one Democrat and one Republican. And on Salazar's side, what's interesting there is that not only was he running for the Senate, but I think his brother...
COOPER: That's correct.
WATSON: ... his older brother was running for an open House seat.
WATSON: Do we have any information as to whether or not...
COOPER: We don't. We're still actually following that. I don't believe we called that one yet. So I'll try to get that as soon as we can.
KING: Wasn't Pete Coors favored?
COOPER: Pete Coors for a while had been, although it was very close all along. Pete Coors had a very tough primary, ran against a very conservative opponent. He took some knocks in that primary.
The interesting thing, in that race, I mean, Ken Salazar was really able to run as a conservative in some respects. He kept stressing his rural Colorado values. So Pete Coors not really able to sort of get much traction as a conservative against Ken Salazar.
BLITZER: Do we know if there has been a pickup of Republican seats in the majority of the House of Representatives or are we still studying that?
COOPER: We're still studying. But, yes, I do believe at this point there has been a pick-up of at least several seats.
BLITZER: That's a pretty dramatic win in the Senate and the House, and maybe the presidency for the Republicans, Jeff.
GREENFIELD: Well, it means that the Republicans will now have controlled the House for 12 straight years. You have to go back to the first couple decades of the 20th century to see that sustained a period of control.
And except for Jim Jeffords' walk across the aisle, they will have had the Senate for that same length of time. And should the president prevail, I mentioned this, I don't know, several days ago it seems, this is the first time we will have re-elected a Republican and re-elected a Republican Congress and president since William McKinley did it in 1900.
I mean, so the nature of the Republican Party as the plausible permanent governing majority of the United States has been reaffirmed tonight in a very dramatic way. And the Democratic Party cannot kid itself anymore.
WATSON: You know, not only that, but if the president ultimately wins the presidential election and you have these going on, a lot of people are going to have to step back and call them one of the very best political tacticians of his generation.
I mean, this'll be -- if the president wins, this will be his third significant victory in ten years. Governorship against a sitting governor, Al Gore as sitting vice president. If he got this good news and the fact that, as Jeff pointed out, he's been not only able to win some of his own races, but bring congressional members along.
In 2002, in contrast to what's normal where the incumbent president tends to lose seats in some of the congressional races, he actually picked up a couple of seats. And in 2004, very few people expected that there might be an increase both on the Senate and on the House side.
BLITZER: Let's bring in our congressional correspondent, Ed Henry, who is watching the House and the Senate. That's his job. He spends all of his time doing that, knows a great deal about it.
What goes through your mind, Ed?
ED HENRY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's hard to put into words, Wolf, how big of a blow the defeat of Tom Daschle is to Democrats. Numerically, the Daschle loss is part of a Republican sweep in the Senate tonight. They started out with the majority, just a slim two-seat majority, 51-49 basically.
Now, as Anderson Cooper said, it's basically going to be 55-45, depending on the final results here. That gives the Republicans a very muscular majority. I can tell you, Senate Republicans are already saying that obstructionism was on the ballot here, that Tom Daschle's defeat shows that it's a warning shot to Democrats to stop obstructing President Bush's agenda.
And if, in fact, President Bush, if he is reelected, that a second-term agenda, that they'll have a more muscular majority. With 55 seats, they're that much closer to getting 60 votes to break filibusters on judges that Democrats have been launching, number one.
But number two, Republicans are already talking about how they want to pass more tax cuts. They think now they can pass tort reform, something they've fallen just a couple of votes short.
And symbolically, there has not been a Senate leader to go down to defeat back home since 1952. So there is a lot of history there. Republicans celebrating big-time. Before this election night, Republicans were saying that, if they could take out Tom Daschle, it would be the equivalent of three Senate seats. Not just one, but three Senate seats. They've now done that.
And the final thing is that, for Democrats, they have to not only pick up the pieces in terms of the White House race if President Bush is re-elected, they now have to find a new Democratic leader. Harry Reid is the number two. He's soft-spoken from Nevada.
You know, some people are wondering within the party whether he's telegenic enough, whether or not he can be a strong leader. The name of Chris Dodd keeps coming up as somebody who might run against Harry Reid. Chris Dodd, more from the liberal wing of the party, somebody maybe a better spokesman on TV.
The Democrats now, Wolf, will have to do a lot of soul searching -- Wolf?
BLITZER: Chris Dodd, I think, correct me if I'm wrong, had wanted to be the majority leader the last time when Daschle got the vote.
HENRY: That's right.
BLITZER: His main opponent among the Democrats was Chris Dodd. So presumably he'd like to do it again.
HENRY: That's right. Chris Dodd lost the Democratic leader's race in 1994 by just one vote to Tom Daschle. So, you're right. He obviously has support within the Democratic caucus still. He might take another run at it.
We understand that, in recent days, in anticipation of a possible Daschle defeat, Chris Dodd has been calling some of his Democratic colleagues just putting feelers out. He was not rooting for Daschle to lose. They're friends. But Dodd was putting feelers out there.
And you can bet he's somebody who's going to take a long look at this race now. But obviously the Democrats don't want a divisive race right now. They have to pick up the pieces. This is a shattering defeat. They started out with the equivalent of 49 Democratic seats, if you include Jim Jeffords, the independent, who votes with Democrats.
Now they may be down to 45 Democratic seats. Regardless of what happens in the White House race, this is a shattering defeat for Senate Democrats, Wolf.
BLITZER: And Ed, with 55, if that in fact turns out to be the Republican majority, the Republicans being very cohesive. They usually vote pretty much down that line with the exception of two or three, Lincoln Chafee is a moderate Republican from Rhode Island. Sometimes John McCain doesn't vote with the other Republicans.
But there are Democrats, moderate and conservative Democrats, who are more than happy to join the Republicans on certain sensitive issues like tax cuts, for example.
HENRY: That's right. You have you people like Evan Bayh who was re-elected in a landslide tonight in Indiana, a very moderate Democrat who votes with the Republicans on tax cuts, Ben Nelson from Nebraska.
So you're going to get, in addition to these 55 Republicans, you're going to get some conservative Democrats to get up to 60 votes on various issues in order to break some Democratic filibusters. That's going to be a big problem for Democrats.
If President Bush is reelected, they're now going to have the very hard time stopping his agenda. We've all heard about Chief Justice Rehnquist's health, as Jeff Greenfield was mentioning earlier. If there is one, two, maybe three Supreme Court nominations in a possible second Bush term, Democrats are not going to have as much steam behind them if they tried to stop these nominations.
There is a lot on the line now and Democrats, this is a major blow to them that they've lost this many seats in the senate.
BLITZER: What about the House of Representatives? Is there going to be a pick-up, you sense, on the Republican side?
HENRY: That's right, for the House -- for the Republicans, they're picking up seats. That's right, absolutely, in the House as well.
Phil Crane, a Republican, long-time Republican congressman, as we know has already lost. There are some Democratic pick-ups, but they are more than offset by the fact that, particularly in Texas, because of the new redistricting map, it looks like at least five Texas Democrats are going down because of that new map.
That's going to offset any Democratic gains. It's looking like Republicans will have pick-ups. You were speaking to Speaker Dennis Hastert earlier. He's obviously celebrating, as well. And let's not forget that this is the first time since the beginning of the 20th century that Republicans have controlled the House of Representatives for more than a decade consecutively.
So this is now -- when you look back to 1994, it's been more than a decade now that the Republicans took over the House of Representatives. They're now solidifying their majority forward. They have to be very happy about what happened in the House and the Senate tonight -- Wolf?
BLITZER: Ed Henry, we'll get back to you. Thanks very much.
Let's just recap what we're doing right now. We're waiting to see if the president of the United States leaves the White House, together with the vice president, drives over to the Reagan center. That's where the Reagan -- that's where the Bush-Cheney campaign headquarters have moved.
That's where they're going to make a speech presumably tonight. We've been told by our senior White House correspondent that the lights are still on at the White House. They're waiting to see if the president goes over there. There is a possibility that, even though Ohio -- we haven't projected a winner in Ohio yet, the president might declare a victory.
You're looking at this live picture now of inside the Reagan center in Washington, D.C. where the supporters of President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney have gathered. If the president decides to drive over there, we'll go there live and bring you their comments to our viewers.
Larry, looks like a nice -- for the Republicans, a pretty nice night for them so far.
KING: I think this is one of the great political nights in the history of that party. A surprisingly great night for them. Everyone predicted it much closer.
I think everyone associated with the Republican Party should be very impressed with the job done by their president, their Senate candidates, they knock off the majority leader.
WATSON: Even pick up a governorship in Indiana.
KING: They didn't do much wrong, did they?
GREENFIELD: Think of the other side. Think of the Democrats who poured in millions of dollars. In some cases, individuals, who mobilized these tens of thousands -- these foot soldiers that went out, that, you know -- the army of rock stars, Bruce Springsteen to the Dixie Chicks, this enormous intensity, "we've got to replace George W. Bush," and the battle in the Democratic Party starting probably already, the Howard Dean forces saying, "We told you, you had to energize the base. This notion of going to the middle was a mistake. You nominated the wrong guy. You made the wrong appeal."
And indeed, some people within the progressive liberal left who are going to say, maybe the Democratic Party has outlived its usefulness. Maybe we need a different mechanism. Maybe the Internet and the new method of fundraising and organization gives us another chance.
There is going to be a debate, an argument on the liberal left of this country, that's going to be as intense as anything we've seen.
KING: And who rises -- Hillary Clinton, obviously. But who else rises?
GREENFIELD: I thought we declared a moratorium of, oh, ten days before we have to start thinking about the next presidential election. But the serious point here is, I don't think the debate is just about the next candidate. It's what's the party about? What's its philosophy?
The Republican party has a cohesive philosophy. It is for tax cuts. It is a socially conservative party. The Democratic Party, Bill Clinton tried to reform it. He succeeded personally. He never reformed the Democratic Party. It's been at war with itself on war and peace. It's been at war with itself on whether to be the party of big government or the party of a kind of Clintonian new kind of approach. It doesn't know what it stands for. And I think it's in for a very tough time.
WATSON: Let's not forget one of the key tools that Bill Clinton had in both of these victories, a guy named Ross Perot who siphoned off, arguably, a number of votes that may have gone to the Republican side. So, you know, you can leave open -- you shake your head, you say, no.
GREENFIELD: Ask Bill Schneider what exit polls show. In 1992, the exit polls showed the Perot vote would have been divided exactly evenly between Clinton and Bush. That's a Republican mythology.
WATSON: I don't just mean taking the votes. I mean helping make the argument against the other side.
GREENFIELD: Yes, well, I think it's going to turn out -- what you had was an extraordinarily gifted political figure who was able to go to war with his party to redefine what the Democrats stood for. It didn't take.
The big difference between Reagan and Clinton was Reagan transformed the Republican Party. When Clinton left the party, it was the party of teachers' unions and the party of government like Clinton had never been there.
BLITZER: I want to bring Judy Woodruff in. She covers politics on a day-to-day basis.
Judy, this is shaping up, as everyone seems to be suggesting, as a huge win for these Republicans, although we have not projected a winner in the presidential race and presumably we won't be doing that until we get more information on some of those states, including Ohio.
WOODRUFF: That's right. And we still have four states outstanding, Wolf.
I actually want to pick up on something Jeff was just saying about how the Democratic Party needs to rethink what it stands for.
Jeff, I just want to come back to you and ask, doesn't it though always come down to the candidate, the person the party chooses to be its nominee and what that person wants to stand for or not stand for? I mean, for all the talk every four years about the party this or the party that, doesn't it always come down to that person and what he thinks is what he needs to say or do to get elected?
GREENFIELD: I don't think so. I think sometimes that a candidate embodies how a party is changing. But the Republican Party, you know, before Reagan and after Reagan left, established a series of think tanks, established a series of institutions in the media and politics that redefined who it was.
And, look, Ronald Reagan has left the scene for a long time, and the party is still intellectually a cohesive conservative party. I think that's a big difference.
You know, the Democrats, even before this year, had begun thinking, "Well, where are our think tanks? Where is our Heritage Foundation? Where are our publications that are trying to establish a new kind of thinking on the left?" And they haven't gotten it yet.
I think, without that, what you have is a thing that happened with Bill Clinton, a brilliant campaigner, a man who embodied a very different philosophy, but it never stuck with the party.
BLITZER: All right. Let's bring back our John King. He's still on the North Lawn of the White House, approaching 5:00 a.m.
John, did you ever think at this point that the president of the United States would, first of all, still be awake?
J. KING: This president likes to go to bed around 10:00 and get up around 5:00. So we're a few minutes away from just skipping the sleep part all together.
Just a few moments ago, I said he had popped into Karl Rove's office a while ago. He's still calling him now trying to figure out what is going on and when -- if and when he will go over to the Reagan building. He still plans on going, we are a told. And we are told that Karl Rove and another senior White House official, Dan Bartlett, the communications director, among others, are trying to convince some of the networks, people in our business, that New Mexico is a state worth calling in the president's favor.
And they are using the numbers they have at their disposal. And, of course, the Democrats dispute their analysis. But they're making the case that New Mexico is in the president's camp, that networks should call it. And at that point, we are told, they're prepared to declare victory, even though there will be a fight at least throughout tomorrow about the state of Ohio.
BLITZER: Let me bring Candy Crowley in. Stand by.
Candy Crowley is still in Boston, Copley Plaza. Pretty empty over there. They've gone home for the night. John Edwards, though, declaring, making a statement before departure. They wanted to count all the ballots in Ohio before making any decisions, those provisional ballots in Ohio. And they wanted to make sure that no vote was left uncounted.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right. It was pretty much the rallying cry for Democrats, which is, you know, let every vote count and count every vote.
And it was -- seems to me very -- the words were very carefully chosen. This is not a campaign that, at this point, wants to be seen as challenging the results. They want to be seen as the people who say let's let this process go forward.
There are these provisional ballots. There are absentee ballots, whatever it is that is uncounted, we want counted. They were not willing, at this point, nor have they given any indication that what they want to do is challenge -- that is, legally, bring the lawyers into it.
We were told that there was to be a meeting later after Senator Edwards. We are assuming that meeting's over, a very tough and in fact impossible to get anyone to call you back at this hour. They said, look, we're gone, we're out of here. We'll talk to you no earlier than 10:00 tomorrow morning.
BLITZER: All right, Candy, stand by.
John King, stand by, as well. I'm going to come back to you in a moment. I'm going to make my way up over here.
CNN is now ready to make a projection in New Mexico. And the projection would be, based on all the information we have, that New Mexico -- New Mexico is simply too close to call.
This is now going to be a green state, like another state, like Ohio is. And we're going to make sure that our viewers understand we've got a lot of information, 99 percent of the precincts in New Mexico have now reported their results. Bush with 50 percent of the vote in, 333,525, Kerry with 49 percent, 322,571, Ralph Nader with 3,555 votes.
We're projecting, at least for now, that, based on all the information we have, we can't project a winner in New Mexico. And, as a result, New Mexico, too close to call. Here is the numbers that we have in the Electoral College projections.
We project Bush will have 254 as of now, 242 for Kerry, 270 needed. Ohio, a green state, too close to call. New Mexico, a green state, too close to call.
John King, if the White House officials and Bush-Cheney officials were hoping that networks would make a final projection on New Mexico, at least as far as CNN is concerned, they're not going to get it, at least not yet.
J. KING: And that would face them with the dilemma of what does the president say, if anything, tonight, if they do not get it.
We are told he does want to go and he does want to speak to his supporters. They have, within the past half hour or so, asked the Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie to keep that crowd together as much as possible. It's only a few blocks away.
This is what -- the scenario they're looking for is this, Wolf. They want New Mexico called. They want these other states called, even if they lose one or two still on board, so that by tomorrow afternoon we are looking at Ohio and Ohio alone.
Because they believe -- and this is the case they make, and, again, the Democrats dispute this -- they believe, when you look at the number of provisional ballots left in Ohio to be counted, and you look at the president's margin, that it will be crystal clear that Senator Kerry cannot do it, that he would have to win 100 percent or 80 percent or some huge number of the provisional ballots to get over the top.
They want to make it as quickly as possible about the one state of Ohio. And they believe political pressure will build on Senator Kerry, if their math here at the White House is correct, to simply say unrealistic, time to call it quits.
BLITZER: And the fact that in Iowa, John, the secretary of state has said that, because of some malfunctioning of the machines, because of fatigue, they're going to wait until tomorrow at least to make a final count in Iowa.
What are the Bush-Cheney officials, White House officials saying about that?
J. KING: It's a state they very much want. It is a state the president has courted aggressively. It is a state they still hope to get in the end. They say it is too close to call.
But they're main scenario is, if they get New Mexico, they believe then that the map is impossible for Senator Kerry. It may already be. You have all the charts in front of you without Ohio.
So they want this to be about Ohio tomorrow. They want to get the other states counted and get them declared. They think they have New Mexico. They would like to get Iowa, but they can lose Iowa under their scenario. And they essentially want this to be a one-state issue so that the pressure builds on Senator Kerry to do the math and add it up.
And they say at the White House, and again, the Democrats went to bed tonight saying they dispute the White House math. But they say by tomorrow evening that they expect many Democrats to be calling Senator Kerry and saying the math simply doesn't work, do not prolong this.
BLITZER: All right, John King, Candy Crowley, we're going to take another quick break. But stand by over there.
We're going to come back and explain to our viewers why we are now saying that New Mexico, like Ohio, is simply too close to call. We can't make a projection based on all the information, even though 99 percent of the vote is in New Mexico. More coverage from Times Square in New York City when we come back.
BLITZER: Welcome back. Approaching 5:00 a.m. on the East coast here at the Nasdaq market site, CNN election headquarters. Been a long night since 7:00 p.m. on the East coast, seems like long time ago.
Larry, you're about ready to say goodnight to our viewers, or good morning, which might be more accurate.
KING: As the oldest member of this august panel, I just want to say what a great pleasure it's been working with you. What a terrific night this was. I am close to collapse. I'm amazed that you young, invigorating guys...
WATSON: Young and restless.
KING: But ten hours is about it. And I'll be back on the air tonight from New York before we head back.
BLITZER: You're young 70-year-old.
KING: I'm a young 70.
BLITZER: Young 70, you got a show tonight coming up.
KING: Wait one more day, and I'll be back here out of New York tonight and then head back to California.
GREENFIELD: No longer the hardest working man in show business.
BLITZER: Larry King.
KING: The iron man legend is fading.
Thank you, Carlos.
WATSON: Hey, it was good to join you.
BLITZER: Larry, it has been a pleasure.
BLITZER: We'll do this again sometime. Maybe four years from now.
KING: Four years from now. I'll see you in four years.
BLITZER: Larry King.
All right. We're going to get some more information now. Let me walk over here to New Mexico right now and see what's going on in New Mexico. I want to make sure our viewers know what's going on.
Bush, we have at 50 percent, 333,525, Kerry with 49 percent, 322,571, Nader with 3,555 votes, 1 percent of the vote.
Judy Woodruff -- I just want to point out to our viewers, we had said that we thought New Mexico was too close to call. But we're not going to necessarily say that anymore. We're going to continue to take a look at the numbers and then readjust what's going on.
New Mexico, unlike Ohio, not necessarily too close to call. But we're not yet ready to make a projection in New Mexico. We're trying to be very precise with our viewers to make sure they understand what's going on.
Right now, just to recap, 254 electoral votes we have projected for Bush, 242 electoral votes we have projected for Kerry. We've taken what was green in New Mexico, and made it white to make it clear that we are not ready to project anything.
Judy Woodruff, help our viewers understand why we are now going back from the too close to call green column to the white column, in which we don't have enough information to make any projection?
WOODRUFF: Well, we're trying to figure all this out right now, Wolf. Apparently what has happened is that the Associated Press, which we've been telling our viewers all day -- they have been the source of these raw vote numbers for us, calling in votes from actual counties all over the country.
They were feeding numbers into us, and then suddenly those numbers changed. In other words, there was about, I'm told, a 2,000- to 6,000-vote margin between President Bush's position and John Kerry's position. And then that margin grew suddenly to an 11,000- vote margin.
And because of that, we now want to make sure -- first of all, we want to find out what happened and then determine that we want to stick with the too close to call. We are reconsidering that right now.
Wolf, right now I'm told there are something like 20,000 provisional ballots, provisional ballots outstanding in New Mexico. So, technically, with -- if it is an 11,000-vote margin, it's difficult that one candidate might make that up, make up that difference, John Kerry.
But it's possible. But if the margin is smaller, of course, it makes it more likely. I'm being a little bit long-winded here, but what I'm telling you is that the numbers changed and sometimes these things happen.
BLITZER: In a small population-wise state like New Mexico, 11,000 votes potentially could be a significant gap between Bush and Kerry right now. But we did get an announcement, Judy, from the secretary of state in New Mexico saying they're going to hold off in making any formal declarations, at least until tomorrow so they can continue counting ballots, absentee ballots and other ballots.
WOODRUFF: That's right. The secretary of state's office had said that they would hold off for a variety of reasons. We have been told tonight, Wolf, both by the state of Iowa, their secretary of state, for a variety of reasons, some machine problems. Fatigue they said on the part of the election officials. Understandable under these circumstances. They're closing down.
And New Mexico had said that we were not going to hear anymore from them. Wisconsin, we are still waiting for more information on, and it's possible there could be a call in Wisconsin. I can't give you anymore information right now, but that's possible.
Ohio is the one state, though, that we don't have any reason to believe we're going to be able to call because of that great big provisional ballot issue still hanging out there.
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