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THE SITUATION ROOM

Midterm Elections Tomorrow

Aired November 6, 2006 - 17:00   ET

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


WOLF BLITZER, HOST: And to our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM, where new pictures and information are arriving all the time. Standing by, CNN reporters across the United States and around the world to bring you today's top stories.
Happening now, just hours to go until election day and we have the final poll numbers. As the battle for Congress goes down to the wire, Democrats are confident they can clean house.

Can Republicans hang on in the Senate?

Is he dropping in like an uninvited guest?

President Bush hits the road for fellow Republicans even as his approval rating takes another hit.

And are the war's key supporters breaking with the president?

Iraq is the main issue across the country on this election eve.

Is there fresh discord on the home front?

I'm Wolf Blitzer at CNN election headquarters in New York. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Election day now just hours away.

Are we seeing the early rumblings of a political earthquake?

Our latest poll of likely voters shows Democrats hold -- get this -- a 20 point advantage over Republicans in the Congressional elections. But an average of six polls shows Democrats holding a 12 point edge.

There are tight races in the battle for the Senate. Polls show a dead heat in Virginia between Republican incumbent George Allen and Democratic challenger Jim Webb. In Tennessee, one poll shows Republican Bob Corker stretching his lead over Democratic Congressman Harold Ford. Another shows them almost even, though. And in Montana, one poll shows Republican incumbent Conrad Burns even with Democrat John Tester. Yet another poll in Montana shows the challenger leading -- get this -- by nine points.

Impacting races across the country, the war in Iraq.

Standing by live, CNN's Michael Ware. He's standing by in Baghdad.

And on the campaign trail, CNN's Joe Johns in Tennessee, Chris Lawrence in Montana.

But let's begin with that very close Senate race in Virginia.

CNN's Ed Henry is standing by -- Ed, how is the war in Iraq playing in the Commonwealth of Virginia?

ED HENRY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, it is front and center here, in part, because the Democrat, Jim Webb, is a Vietnam veteran. He wears combat boots on the campaign trail out here, in part because his son is serving in Iraq right now. They're his combat boots. Webb also getting support from anti-war protesters. In fact, Cindy Sheehan was among those who were out there today at a campaign stop heckling Republican Senator Allen.

Allen appears to have gotten the message on Iraq, in part. He's stopped saying things like "stay the course." He's starting to assert that he believes not enough progress is being made in Iraq. And plus this hour, Senator Allen will be having a rally here, at the Richmond International Airport with the Republican senator, John Warner.

You remember recently he took on the White House a bit by saying he believes Iraq is going sideways right now.

Then later tonight, Allen and Warner will be appearing together, a dramatic moment. They bought two minutes of TV time all across the Commonwealth where they'll be addressing voters directly. In those two minutes, Senator Allen will say that mistakes have been made in Iraq, but you can't dwell on them. He's trying to straddle it -- take on and separate himself from the White House a bit, but also take on the Democrats and say they don't have a plan.

The question for George Allen -- is it too little too late -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Ed Henry in Virginia.

Thanks, Ed. Critical race is in Tennessee, between Republican Bob Corker and Democrat Harold Ford.

CNN's Joe Johns is joining us in Chattanooga -- Joe, these polls seem to be sort of all over the place -- some showing Corker way ahead, others showing this race tightening.

What's the latest there?

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, when you talk to the people who follow polls closely, Wolf, they'll tell you there's probably not as much variance as it really seems and it's sort of an effect of who's talking about being undecided.

There's been a lot of emphasis here in the state of Tennessee on undecided voters. Today, of course, here in Chattanooga, Bob Corker came home. This is the place where he was mayor for some time. A little rally here on the river in Chattanooga.

At that rally, I actually talked to an undecided voter, a woman who came out to see Bob Corker and was also a little bit upset, in fact, that she didn't have an opportunity to see Harold Ford, who was also in Chattanooga, even before Corker arrived.

She's still trying to make up her mind. She told me that, in her view, these are both very fine candidates. She likes them a lot. She's having a very hard time deciding who she's going to vote for. And this is the day before election.

On the other hand, I talked to an undecided voter last night down in Nashville. She said she didn't like either of them and it's because of all the negative advertising -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Joe Johns reporting for us in Chattanooga.

Joe, thank you.

Chris Lawrence is standing by in Montana, where there is a very close race -- Chris, a lot of people are asking this question -- how is it possible that a Democrat is making such a strong showing in what is nominally supposed to be a red state?

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, they're running a different kind of Democrat, I mean, one who's not just writing off those rural and conservative voters. John Tester is president of the Montana State Senate, but he's also a third generation farmer. He sports a buzz cut and runs a butcher shop on the side.

In fact, he proudly will show off his three missing fingers, all of which he lost to a meat grinder. So he's not your typical Democrat here.

Now, President Bush won this state by 20 points in 2004. It has been solidly Republican and the incumbent has been in office for 18 years.

Now, Conrad Burns did get a campaign stop from President Bush, who was trying to encourage Republican voters here in Montana to turnout on election day. Burns is highly respected in the state of Montana, but he is vulnerable because of his ties to convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Depending on how things shake out in states like Missouri and Virginia, the entire control of the Senate could really boil down to just a few hundred thousand voters right here in Montana -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Thanks very much, Joe, in Billings, Montana.

We've got our reporters covering all of these races. This is where you're going to want to be throughout the day tomorrow, into the night. If you want to know what's going on immediately, you'll stay with all of us.

We want to thank Joe Johns and Ed Henry, Chris Lawrence.

They are all part of the best political team on television.

And remember, for the latest campaign news at any time, check out our Political Ticker, cnn.com/ticker.

The number one election issue across the United States, by all accounts, is Iraq.

Let's go live to CNN's Michael Ware.

He's joining us in Baghdad -- are people in Iraq, whether Iraqis, U.S. military personnel, are they fascinated, as, clearly, we are, by the potential of what could happen on this election day in the United States?

MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, it doesn't have the sharp focus here in Iraq that, clearly, it has back home in the United States.

Nonetheless, the American mid-term elections do hang over all of the events here. In fact, they loom over the war whether people are aware of that or not.

Certainly at a political level, within the upper echelons of the Iraqi government, they're extremely sensitive to the fluctuating moods leading into this U.S. mid-term election.

However, on the streets, by and large, if Iraqis are aware that an election is taking place, there's very little understanding of exactly what it is.

CNN bumped into one fellow who said he hoped John Kerry would win, for example.

Many of them feel that this somehow relates to President Bush's presidency, but they can't take it beyond that.

They do know, however, somehow or other, even though they cannot explain it, what happens with this vote does, in some fashion, affect what happens here in Iraq -- Wolf.

BLITZER: What about the whole verdict, the guilty verdict for Saddam Hussein?

The appeals process going forward now.

Is there an anticipation when he might be executed?

WARE: Well, it's anyone's guess, quite frankly, at this stage. I mean clearly, this is uncharted waters that the Iraqi government and its fledgling judiciary are now navigating. So it's really impossible to say. There's a lot of speculation that it could be early next year. Some people say that perhaps it could come before that. However, most pundits expect that that will be unlikely.

As you know, it's now entered the automatic appellate section of this judicial process. There's no set time frame, except for the fact once the decision is made, execution is carried out within 30 days -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Michael, thanks very much.

Michael Ware is our man in Baghdad.

Our man here in THE SITUATION ROOM is Jack Cafferty.

He's standing by with "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I really like Michael's stuff.

He's terrific.

Thanks, Wolf.

President Bush's name isn't on the ballot, but don't kid yourself. Tomorrow's mid-term election is all about him. A new CNN poll done by Opinion Research Corporation shows 61 percent of Americans disapprove of the way the president's handling his job.

So there's every chance that his dismal job approval rating will hurt Republican candidates. And that explains why the president is more likely to turn up in Democratic campaign commercials than Republican ones.

Want to trash your opponent?

Just run-a commercial suggesting he supports President Bush.

Over the weekend in northern New Jersey, I saw large billboards. They were everywhere -- that read simply: "Vote Tuesday -- Stop Bush!"

Forty-one percent of likely voters say their disapproval of the president will impact how they vote for Congress. Compare that to just 16 percent who said their vote will reflect their support for the president.

In the 2002 mid-term elections, 18 percent said their vote was a message of opposition to President Bush and 35 percent said it was a message of support. So things have changed dramatically in the last four years.

Here's the question -- is President Bush a factor in how you'll vote for Congress tomorrow?

E-mail your thoughts to caffertyfile@cnn.com or go to cnn.com/caffertyfile -- Wolf. BLITZER: I suspect a lot of voters will say yes, indeed, Jack.

Thanks very much.

Up ahead, an unfavorable onslaught against the defense secretary. Independent newspapers for the military are flatly saying, and I'm quoting now, "Donald Rumsfeld must go."

Meanwhile, are some of the very people who were staunchly for the war in Iraq now turning against Rumsfeld?

Our Brian Todd examines a report that's very unflattering for the Bush administration.

And the Reverend Ted Haggard made some surprising comments about sex before the gay sex scandal involving him and a former male prostitute. We're going to tell you what Haggard said in a documentary.

Stay with us. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: With just hours to go until election day, Iraq remains the dominant issue nationwide. Now, are some of the key supporters of the war actually splitting with the president?

CNN's Brian Todd standing by to take a look at this latest controversy -- Brian.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, some of these gentlemen were among those who pushed hardest for the U.S. to invade Iraq. Now, some are quoted in a major national magazine leveling brutal attacks on the president and his cabinet.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

TODD (voice-over): He's already had plenty of moderate Republicans break with him over the Iraq war. But with "Vanity Fair" magazine now reporting cracks among President Bush's ideological brethren, the so-called neo-conservatives, who had pushed for the invasion, a political and media controversy has erupted just before election day.

MICHAEL RUBIN, FORMER CPA ADVISER: I would argue that "Vanity Fair," David Rose, cherry-picked the quotes.

TODD: The Bush administration sent the Pentagon's Michael Rubin to Iraq to advise the Coalition Authority, which is why it made waves when "Vanity Fair" reported that Rubin said President Bush has betrayed Iraqi reformers.

Rubin says he didn't go that far.

RUBIN: I criticized the White House for being on the verge, for basically going wobbly, for being on the verge of betraying the Iraqi liberals.

TODD: In a press release for an upcoming issue, "Vanity Fair" also reports Richard Perle, former chairman of the Pentagon's Defense Policy Board Advisory Committee, believes total U.S. defeat in Iraq is becoming more likely: "At the end of the day, you have to hold the president responsible. I don't think he realized the extent of the opposition within his own administration and the disloyalty."

Perle says "Vanity Fair" took him out of context and posted this on the online version of "National Review": "We are on the right path in Iraq."

David Rose, the "Vanity Fair" correspondent who interviewed these men, defends his reporting.

DAVID ROSE, "VANITY FAIR": I don't think it's misleading. And the thing is, I mean, I was -- I'm slightly surprised by their saying that, because I actually went back to the transcripts and I read again what they told me. And the truth is that the full context of those interviews, the full substance of what they said, is, if anything, more critical of the administration.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

TODD: Another point of contention -- one of the neo- conservatives, Frank Gaffney, tells me it was his understanding that these quotes would not be published until after election day. And other members of that group said the same.

A "Vanity Fair" spokeswoman did not answer when I asked if the magazine had promised these gentlemen it would hold off publication, but she did give a statement saying: "At a time when the administration is going ahead with its Iraq policy and when the president is saying Donald Rumsfeld's job is secure, the magazine felt it was in the public's interest to hear what these men are saying about the war before the election" -- Wolf.

BLITZER: A very fascinating article, Brian.

Thanks very much.

There's also a new addition to the chorus of critics calling for the resignation of the defense secretary, Donald Rumsfeld.

Let's go to our senior Pentagon correspondent, Jamie McIntyre -- Jamie.

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SENIOR PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, the "Military Times" newspapers are completely independent from the military, published by Gannett. And the editors say that their decision to call for Rumsfeld's replacement is not connected to the election, but to their conviction that the policy in Iraq needs to be changed, and that's unlikely to happen while Rumsfeld is in charge.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE) MCINTYRE (voice-over): In calling for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to be replaced, the editors of the "Army Times" papers argue they are giving voice to disillusioned U.S. commanders.

ROBERT HODIERNE, SENIOR MANAGING EDITOR, "ARMY TIMES": If you are a serving officer, there's a 200 year tradition in this country of military subordination to civil authority and they're not going to speak out loud.

MCINTYRE: No longer are just a few retired generals speaking out from the safety of the sidelines, argues the editorial, published in all four editions of the paper. But now the "Army Times" editors say they detect misgivings among active duty generals, citing, for example, this statement from top commander, General John Abizaid.

GEN. JOHN ABIZAID, COMMANDER, U.S. CENTRAL COMMAND: I believe that the sectarian violence is probably as bad as I've seen it in Baghdad in particular and that if not stopped, it is possible that Iraq could move toward civil war.

MCINTYRE: When the nation's current military leaders start to break publicly with their defense secretary, then it is clear that he is losing control, the paper's editors argue.

Their conclusion?

Rumsfeld has lost credibility, his strategy has failed and he must go.

The attack prompted a point by point rebuttal on the Pentagon's new "For The Record" Web page, aimed at providing a rapid response to what Rumsfeld's staff sees as inaccuracies and mischaracterizations.

It criticized what it called "the selective use" of General Abizaid's quotes, saying it ignored his clear support for the mission, and disputed the suggestions military commanders are disillusioned or that Rumsfeld has consistently issued rosy reassurances.

DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: I have never painted a rosy picture. I've been very measured in my words. And you'd have a dickens of a time trying to find instances where I've been excessively optimistic. I understand this is tough stuff.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

MCINTYRE: To read that point by point rebuttal from the Pentagon, you can go to Defenselink.mil. Click on the section called "For The Record" -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Jamie, thanks very much.

Jamie McIntyre reporting for us at the Pentagon.

And coming up, if elections often send messages to politicians, what message might voters send to President Bush tomorrow? Might a so-called six year itch mean trouble for the president's party? And they'll be watching -- that would be election observers over at the Justice Department. They're eying and acting on any problems that could come up tomorrow.

But just what might they be concerned about?

From CNN's election headquarters in New York, stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Let's check in with Zain Verjee for another closer look at some other stories making news -- Zain.

ZAIN VERJEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, hundreds of acres scorched, at least a million dollars in damage and as many as 100 homes threatened. All this as Santa Ana winds whip up flames in Realto in southern California. At last word, the wildfire, 60 miles east of Los Angeles, was 30 percent contained. The cause is being investigated.

The prospect that foul weather could keep voters away from the polls tomorrow has candidates in Tennessee and Montana watching the forecast really closely. The Senate races in both those states are close. The forecasts are calling for possible rain, wind and chilly temperatures.

The World War II aircraft carrier that was on its way for a facelift is getting a mud bath instead. The USS Intrepid got stuck in the mud today when a fleet of tugboats worked to pull it from its berth along New York's Hudson River. The 27,000-ton floating museum was supposed to get its $60 million overhaul in New Jersey. Now officials may just refurbish Intrepid where it sits -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Congratulations to Zain, also.

Our viewers should know, Zain, Zain is about to become our new State Department correspondent. You're going to be traveling all over the world. The globe is going to be yours, Zain.

VERJEE: Thank you.

BLITZER: But you're still going to be part of all of our reporting right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Good luck in the new assignment.

VERJEE: Thank you.

Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: When do you actually start?

VERJEE: Right after the elections.

BLITZER: All right, Zain Verjee... VERJEE: I'll miss you.

BLITZER: Zain -- well, you're not going to go very far.

VERJEE: Back to you.

BLITZER: Zain is going to be part of THE SITUATION ROOM, but she's also going to be our State Department correspondent.

Good luck to her.

Congratulations to Zain.

Coming up, might there be a six year itch causing voters to be impatient with the Bush administration?

Our chief national correspondent, John King, standing by live to explore that question.

Also, did a Republican candidate in Florida snub the president by not appearing with Mr. Bush at a campaign event today?

We're going to discuss that and a lot more in our Strategy Session.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: You're in THE SITUATION ROOM, where new pictures and information are arriving all the time.

Happening now, what message will voters send to President Bush come election day? That they're firmly with his party or firmly against his party?

Our chief national correspondent explores whether voters are impatient with the party in power in Congress and the White House.

Also, poll positions -- some surveys suggest Democrats will win big tomorrow, others suggest Republicans are running a much tighter race.

We're going to take a closer look at the most recent polls in our Strategy Session.

What impact -- what might a gay sex scandal have -- what kind of impact will it have on this election?

We're going to examine the possible fallout involving the Reverend Ted Haggard.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

The saying goes all politics is local, but from the Senate's slugging matches to the far corners of the far off Congressional districts, this mid-term election may be different, revolving around the war in Iraq and it's commander-in-chief.

Let's turn to our chief national correspondent, John King -- John.

JOHN KING, CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, this is from Kentucky. It's one of those fliers that's going on a door. It says: "Had Enough!" Democrats and Independents are getting these all around the country.

One of the things Democrats hope sells their message in this campaign is anxiety about the war and what historians call the six year itch.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

KING (voice-over): It is, above all else, a referendum on him, his unpopular war. Which is why, to the very end, the president tried to make it about something else.

GEORGE BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want you to remind your fellow citizens when you ask them to go vote, harsh criticism is not a plan for victory.

KING: Every election sends a message and while Democrats appear poised to make gains in this one, the most painful lessons for the White House could well come from Republicans, worried their party is now too defined by Iraq and Mr. Bush.

REP. CHRISTOPHER SHAYS (R), CONNECTICUT: If the president wants to build consensus, he needs to have a new secretary of defense.

KING: The president says he wants Secretary Rumsfeld to stay on. But a growing number of senior Republicans say their post-election message, no matter who wins, will be that Mr. Bush needs to listen more and that Rumsfeld needs to go if the president wants to get much done in his final two years.

SHAYS: I would say to the president, when people keep giving you bad advice, you need to get other people to give you good advice.

KING: Congressman Shays is among the Republicans on the receiving end of what historians call the six year itch, when the president's party almost always suffers.

Forty years ago, it was Vietnam that cost President Johnson and the Democrats 47 House seats and four in the Senate. Just after Watergate in 1974, Republicans lost 49 seats in the House and four in the Senate. Since 1946, the average loss for a president's party in his sixth year is 31 House seats and six Senate seats.

BUSH: The best way for you to keep your taxes low is to vote Republican.

KING: Lame duck will be a term heard often after the votes are counted. Democrats are all but certain to have more influence. The next presidential campaign will heat up quickly. And many Republicans on the ballot this year want to focus less on war and more on GOP staples, like lower taxes and balanced budgets.

BOB CORKER, (R) TENNESSEE SENATE CANDIDATE: I think that we need to do the things that have made us great and that is have fiscal constraints which we've been lacking in Washington.

KING: The big question is whether Mr. Bush will be conciliatory or defiant.

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS, (R) MAINE: He has the take charge strong approach, but I think you'll see him reaching out more to Congress. I don't think this president is going to allow himself to be a lame duck. He still has enormous power, even in the final two years that shape the budget. He can veto a lot more bills, if he wishes to do so.

(END OF VIDEOTAPE)

KING: Obviously how well the Democrats fair in the election will go a long way in determining the dynamics awaiting President Bush for his final two years. But Wolf, we saw a bit of this dynamic on stage today in the state of Florida when the candidate for governor, the Republican candidate for governor decided not to appear with the president but instead to appear with the '08 Republican front-runner, John McCain, in one of the interesting dynamics that makes this presidency so different heading into the final two years is unlike President Clinton, unlike Ronald Reagan when George H.W. Bush was running for president, the vice president of the United State is not running for president in the next election. Many say that could make this White House even less relevant in the next two years. Wolf?

BLITZER: All right John, thank you very much. There are many number of polls taking the pulse of the voters as they prepare to cast ballots tomorrow. Joining us right now for our strategy session, to take a look at what's going on, Democratic Strategist James Carville, Republican Strategist J.C. Watts, a former United States congressman. What do you make James of the fact that the president of the United States on this, the day before the election, goes to the state of Florida, campaigns for the Republican gubernatorial candidate, the man who wants to succeed his brother Jeb Bush as governor of Florida and that candidate decides, you know what, I'm not going to go be seen with the president, I'm going to go to a different part of the state.

JAMES CARVILLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I think it says volumes. You think that if Bush was at 60 percent approval a guy would have broken his neck to go to Pensacola to be with him. He's at 40 percent approval, he decides he's got something to do in St. Augustine or something. I mean it's pretty -- they run away as (INAUDIBLE) would say they run away from Bush like the devil runs away from holy water right now. But you expect that. Now, the problem is, he may irritate some people in the Republican base. I mean, you know, there are probably 25, a number of Republicans that really like Bush and they'll consider this an insult. That was a hard decision for that campaign to make. I promise you.

BLITZER: What do you think J.C.? J.C. WATTS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well you have to consider where Pensacola is. Pensacola is serious Republican territory in the state of Florida. I think that was probably more toward rallying the base down there, and I believe that the candidate said I'm going to go somewhere else and bide my time with John McCain. I don't think the candidate would be running from Bush in Pensacola, Florida which is about as Republican you can get in the country.

BLITZER: It's all of the way in the western part of the state.

CARVILLE: J.C., the president of the United States shows up to campaign in your state and you're his party's gubernatorial candidate and you don't show up, I don't care if it's in Pensacola, Pittsburgh or Plattsburgh, it doesn't say very much good about Bush, I promise you.

BLITZER: Let's take a look at some of these poll numbers, because they seem to be all over the place. This is a so-called generic question, your choice for congress. There are three polls including our CNN poll, Newsweek and Time which showed double digit advantages for the Democrats. There are three other polls, the Gallup, ABC, Pew polls which show single digit advantages for the Democrats, the average, if you take all six of those polls, about 12 points, an advantage for the Democrats. J.C., any way you slice it, in these polls, the advantage is Democrat.

WATTS: Well, and, Wolf, I've said on this show before, I'm so sick of polls that I can hardly stand it. But, nevertheless, the real poll is going to be taken tomorrow night, we'll be evaluating the numbers, sitting here talking about them. I do think Republicans, they've got the wind in the face but I think there are some good things that's happening out there. Wolf, I've got in my assessment, I had, this time last week, I would have said Republicans would lose about 23 to 25 seats. I think we've improved and it's probably about 18 or 19 today.

BLITZER: If they lose 15 in the House, the Republicans are in the minority.

WATTS: In the House, that puts them in the minority. But again, there's a move afoot out there that's showing up. And if you believe the polls, there's a move afoot that's intensifying and is pressing the numbers, pushing the numbers for Republicans. So we'll see what happens tomorrow.

BLITZER: What do you think?

CARVILLE: An average 12-point Democratic margin.

BLITZER: What does that mean?

CARVILLE: It means that the country wants to vote Democratic. And it means in race after race --

BLITZER: Practically in terms of the Senate and the House, what does it mean in terms of Democrats picking up seats? CARVILLE: I don't think the Democrats -- if they won the election, in 1994, the Republicans picked up 52 seats. The vote was 52-46, they won by six. If the Democrats win by six or seven points, it's going to translate into a wipeout across the country. Obviously, if they're not going to win by 12 points, it's impossible in American politics. But the key number that I would tell everybody to watch is the total congressional vote. If it goes to six or above, the Republicans are going to get wiped out. If they can keep it like in a range of two or three, they can hold their losses. They are obviously going to lose seats. With the congressional generic is less important than the total vote tomorrow night because the seats are going to follow the total vote.

BLITZER: J.C. says the Democrats will be the majority in the House of Representatives, I assume you agree with that?

CARVILLE: I'll tell you what, if they're not, it is -- the consequences are going to be pretty dramatic. I don't think there's much of a chance --

WATTS: There's going to be voter turnout and I think that's one of the reasons the president was in Florida today in Pensacola. Get the republican vote out. The vote turns out, it could be extremely interesting and I think could go against the grain of what we're seeing in the numbers.

BLITZER: What about the Senate. What does it look like for you?

CARVILLE: I think that the closer to 20, the more likely the Republicans retain the Senate. The more over 30, the more likely the Democrats do. It's important to note that historically, since we had a direct election in the United States senators, that the House has never changed without the Senate. So if you start seeing big Democratic margins in the House --

BLITZER: So it was at 20 or 30 -- pickup seats for the Democrats in the House, what does that mean in the Senate?

CARVILLE: If the Democrats pick up as J.C. says, 18 to 20 seats, the Republicans will hold the Senate. If the Democrats pick up 33, 34, 35 seats, then they have a much better chance of getting the six seats. It depends on whether something --

BLITZER: Is that a rule of thumb that you're familiar with, J.C.?

WATTS: I am. And I would agree with that assessment. I just don't see a 30 seat pickup in the House. I do think right now the Republicans are concerned about the House. I think we feel pretty good about the Senate. But again, I think it's all going to be based on turnout. And, again, that could, you know, have us throwing all of these numbers out the window tomorrow night.

BLITZER: We're out of time. But is there any one surprise that you think could happen tomorrow night? Someone suggested Arizona. CARVILLE: That's been my dark horse plague for a long time. I pushed, and they have, the DNCC to spend money there. If it's a long shot, if there is a surge, if the Democrats pick up 35-plus seats they have a real shot in Arizona. If they pick up 22 seats, not so much.

BLITZER: Any final surprise from you?

WATTS: I don't know if it's a surprise but I do think Michael Steele wins Maryland.

BLITZER: He's the Republican lieutenant governor, he's done an excellent job campaigning out there. The polls show it's very close but that Ben Cardin still ahead. We'll see what happens.

WATTS: Which is a surprise to the Democrats?

BLITZER: We'll see what happens then guys. Thanks very much. Still to come, an evangelical minister caught up in a gay sex scandal, bears what he calls the repulsive and dark side of his soul. Well what was he saying before the scandal broke? We're going to tell you. And what impact could the scandal have on the midterm elections and the culture clash over ballot issues across the country. Stay with us. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Lou Dobbs getting ready for his program that begins in a few minutes, right at the top of the hour. He's here in THE SITUATION ROOM to tell us what he's working on. Lou?

LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: Great to be with you Wolf, thank you very much. Coming up at 6:00 p.m. eastern here on CNN, we'll have complete coverage of the last hours of this election campaign. We'll also be reporting on the rising anger of middle class Americans all across the country with their elected officials who are ignoring their interest and their allies in corporate America. Voters will be considering ballot initiatives to limit the government's power to seize your property. They also want to see an increase in the minimum wage. Also, many Americans demanding action to tackle our illegal immigration and border security crisis. Voters furious because the federal government has failed to do its job. And more than 80 percent of Americans will be using e-voting machines tomorrow. And just about 40 percent of them for the first time. Those e-voting machines posing a grave threat to the integrity of our election. We'll have a special report for you tonight "Democracy at Risk". All of that and a great deal more at the top of the hour here. Please join us. Wolf?

BLITZER: And we're going to be watching the polling stations very closely throughout the day tomorrow. I know Kitty Pilgrim from your team, we have Kelli Arena, our justice correspondent. We have a lot of reporters who are going to focus in to make sure that the system works the way it's supposed to.

DOBBS: Absolutely. And 850 Justice Department lawyers joining that mix, of course the parties sending out their lawyers. It is going to be a legal fest at polling places all over the country so we've got a lot to watch tomorrow.

BLITZER: Let's hope that this thing works out because --

DOBBS: I've got my fingers crossed.

BLITZER: I'm hoping too Lou, thanks very much. Lou coming up in a few minutes.

Only hours away from Election Day. Could there be more of a fallout from that gay sex scandal out in Colorado? In a moment I'll ask one political expert if the Reverend Ted Haggard's transgressions could impact tomorrow's election. But first, let's turn to our Sean Callebs, he's joining us from Colorado with some of those surprising comments caught on tape. Sean?

SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Exactly, here's the concern. Ted Haggard had a lot of clout politically as head of the National Association of Evangelicals, whose numbers are about 30 million in the U.S. The question is, what if any impact will this have on Tuesday? Because it's not just Haggard's actions that are being used against him, listen to what he has to say in this upcoming HBO documentary.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TED HAGGARD: We say marriage is better than no marriage. We say moral purity is better than immorality. We say telling the truth is better than telling a lie.

You know all of the surveys say that evangelicals have the best sex life of any other group.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, come on.

CALLEBS (voice-over): Disgraced evangelical Ted Haggard talking to HBO for a documentary, "Friends of God," set to air in January. Now listen to Haggard's words read by the Reverend Larry Stockstill, as Haggard falls on his sword telling the congregation he's guilty of betrayal and more.

LARRY STOCKSTILL, READING LETTER FROM TED HAGGARD: The fact is I am guilty of sexual immorality and I take responsibility for the entire problem. I am a deceiver and a liar.

CALLEBS: Haggard did not admit having a homosexual affair to his congregation or to the oversight committee that removed him from the pulpit of the New Life Church. And the man who made the allegations, the gay former escort Mike Jones, failed a lie detector test when asked if he had sex with Haggard. But Jones is sticking to his story and says he went public just days before the midterm election, chiefly because there's a gay marriage measure on the Colorado ballot and evangelicals, including Haggard, have campaigned against gay marriage.

MIKE JONES, ACCUSER: Hypocrisy is hypocrisy and it needed to be shown. And people have said you did it for politics, and I said you bet I did. CALLEBS: But Jones' political strategy may have backfired. Many at Sunday's service vowed to turn out Tuesday to vote on the same sex marriage measure and say they won't be swayed by the scandal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's going to encourage more people to go to the polls and I certainly hope that's true.

(END OF VIDEOTAPE)

CALLEBS: If evangelicals are drawn to the polls with issues like gay marriage, will they, as they've done in the past, pull the lever for GOP candidates. One analyst told us, perhaps not. He says many evangelicals are frustrated with the Bush administration and with the GOP and this scandal Wolf gives them one more reason for distrust.

BLITZER: Sean thank you. Let's talk a little bit more about the scandal and its possible impact on tomorrow's elections. Joining us is Marcus Mabry, the senior editor of "Newsweek" magazine. You have a cover story on this subject. What do you make, what's the likely impact if any on the election tomorrow from the Ted Haggard scandal?

MARCUS MABRY, SENIOR EDITOR, NEWSWEEK: Well Wolf, we can't know for certain. But it's pretty sure there will be some impact. The question here is, evangelicals, you know the latest "Newsweek," for that cover story, we did an extensive poll, talking to whit evangelicals about how they feel about this political election and about the political clout of the Christian right at this point in the country. What we found was and they're a bit demoralized, 44 percent of white evangelical Christians told us that they believe the movement is actually losing influence, which is quite extraordinary after six years of having a president who himself says he's a born again Christian.

BLITZER: And in one of those poll numbers, which issue is most important to you among white evangelicals. Take a look at this, we'll put it up on the screen. The situation in Iraq tops the list.

MABRY: Extraordinary. And you'll note issues like abortion, stem cell research are way at the bottom of that list.

BLITZER: Gay marriage.

MABRY: Gay marriage not important. It's interesting because what we find is evangelical Christians I think differently from the way many Americans often view them are not very different from the rest of Americans when comes to the priorities and things they care about. They care about the situation in Iraq and it's hurting the support for the president and for his party that that situation is not going well. And they care about those issues at least as much as they do about social issues. The other thing that we found interesting in this cover story, is the fact that increasingly we're seeing a generation gap develop in the Christian evangelical movement. Younger Christians care as much about issues like poverty, third world disease, social issues. They feel that Jesus Christ and the Christian church and faith actually care greatly about not just issues of sexual morality. And of course the Haggard scandal out in Colorado shows the pitfalls of that kind of potential hypocrisy when you're dealing with those kinds of issues. So I think that's going to make a difference too.

BLITZER: All right Marcus, thanks very much. Marcus will be with us throughout our election coverage. Thanks very much. Up ahead, in a matter of hours, it will be all over but the voting. CNN will be with you every step of the way. Our special coverage of election 2006 begins tonight 7:00 p.m. eastern. Well what's next? Who's minding the election? Kelli Arena looks at what it takes to keep the election process on the up and up. This is a big issue. We'll explore. That's coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Now only a matter of hours before the polls begin to open. But will the vote count be reliable? Our justice correspondent Kelli Arena, standing by to make sure to report on what they are doing to make sure they are reliable. Kelli?

KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the Justice Department is sending more than 850 federal observers and monitors to 22 states to carefully watch tomorrow's midterm election. Now the goal is to make sure that those who can vote and show up at the polls, get to do just that without any problems.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ARENA (voice-over): 1964, the murder of three young voting rights activists in Mississippi made famous in the movie "Mississippi Burning," lead to passage of The Voting Rights Act. Remarkably, four decades later, the kind of discrimination they were trying to stop still threatens U.S. elections in some places, prompting the Justice Department to dispatch more than 800 election observers and monitors. The most ever.

WAN KIM, JUSTICE DEPARTMENT: It's very effective in a sense. Not only are they there to help guard against possible abuses, they are there to help correct problems on the ground if they occur.

ARENA: One concern in states with tight races, there could be more incentive for mischief. Wan Kim leads the Justice Department's civil rights division.

KIM: Obviously, the tighter the race is, the more heated the rhetoric becomes and sometimes the more flagrant violations may occur there.

ARENA: Activists have urged DOJ to be particularly aggressive in places like California where letters were mailed to Hispanic immigrants telling them they could go to jail if they voted.

JULIE FERNANDES, LEADERSHIP CONF. ON CIVIL RIGHTS: We had testimony from all over the country, people talking about examples of purposeful, intentional discrimination against black, Latino, Native American and Asian voters.

ARENA: Civil rights activist Julie Fernandes says discrimination these days is more subtle, but the motives the same.

FERNANDES: We've seen examples of that where Anglo voters in some jurisdictions are told, oh I know you, oh you don't need your ID, come on in Bob. But the Latino voters are asked, are you a citizen. Where is your picture ID? That kind of discrimination in how the laws are implemented.

ARENA: While a record number of DOJ monitors will be watching, voters should not even know they're there.

(END OF VIDEOTAPE)

ARENA: The trick here is to remain anonymous, the monitors don't want to be intimidating because that defeats the whole purpose which could only make things worse. If they see a violation, they are instructed to immediately report it to a supervisor who will alert local election officials. Wolf?

BLITZER: Thanks Kelli is going to be watching the story for us throughout our coverage. Kelli thank you very much. Voters' phones are ringing off the hook but the use of automated phone calls or what's known as robo calls is attracting some serious criticism. Jacki Schechner is standing by to take a closer look at what's happening specifically in Illinois's sixth district. Jacki?

JACKI SCHECHNER, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Wolf, there's an audio clip that's making the rounds online on some of the top liberal blogs and we got the same clip from Tammy Duckworth's campaign, she's the Democrat running in Illinois' sixth district against Republican Peter Roskam. Take a listen.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED: I'm calling (INAUDIBLE) Tammy Duckworth. Tammy Duckworth said she would seriously consider repealing --

(END OF AUDIO CLIP)

SCHECHNER: This is actually an anti-Duckworth ad that the campaign says was left on a voter's answering machine and it's paid for by the National Republican Congressional Committee. Duckworth's campaign says this is problematic for a couple of reasons, one that the NRCC doesn't identify itself until the end of the ad and that the people are receiving multiple calls, and they say that they're getting annoyed and it's tough for the campaign to actually reach their voters. That's what the campaign is saying. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee says that they're seeing similar complaints from Democratic candidates across the country. Now the NRCC tells us that they don't make multiple or repeated calls and that all of their phone calls do comply with federal regulations. But it's interesting to note that the FCC law says that any automated call has to identify the caller at the top of the call and include a phone number. And the Duckworth example doesn't seem to do either. Now, we should also mention that Peter Roskam's campaign has nothing to do with these calls or the content of them. Wolf? BLITZER: All right thanks very much Jacki for that. Still to come, is President Bush a factor in how you'll vote for Congress tomorrow? Jack Cafferty with your email, that's coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: It's time for Jack in The Cafferty File. Jack?

CAFFERTY: Question this hour Wolf, is President Bush a factor in how you vote for Congress tomorrow? Hollister in Philadelphia, "I will not be voting against President Bush as much as I'll be voting for the American system of checks and balances. Someone has to rein in President Bush. If he is deaf to the American people and deaf to the retired generals, perhaps he will be able to hear a Democratic Congress." Jay in Atlanta, "Without question, my vote will be cast down the ballot against any and all incumbents with the assumption that if they've been in office, they have let this administration wreck our nation on several levels and they have to be replaced ASAP." Dick in East Hampton, Connecticut, "This is the only factor! I used to think the 1968 election was the most important in my lifetime, but this is America's last chance to stop Bush."

Mike in Lakeland, Florida, "Most definitely, not only has Mr. Bush changed the way I will vote tomorrow, he has changed the way I view politics in general. I voted for Mr. Bush in 2000, however it will take someone with a powerful nature or better yet a miracle to get me to revote for the Republican Party at this point." And Mike in Marietta, Georgia, "Bush is the reason I voted early against every Republican I could find. I wanted to be sure that if I had a heart attack or was hit by the bus, I would at least of done this last humble service to what is and can still be the greatest nation ever." If you didn't see your email here, you can go to cnn.com/caffertyfile where you can read more of these online.

BLITZER: So based on the email that you're getting, that we're getting, the voter block out there, they're pretty energized?

CAFFERTY: They're energized in the poll that we reported on earlier about President Bush being a factor in the reason people will make the choice they make for their congressional candidates tomorrow. It's at something like 41 percent, which is more than twice, almost three times what it was in the midterm elections four years ago. So he has definitely energized maybe the wrong base.

BLITZER: We'll see tomorrow Jack. Thanks very much, see you back here in an hour. And remember, we're in THE SITUATION ROOM weekday afternoons, 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. eastern, back at 7:00 p.m. eastern. Our special coverage tonight, "AMERICA VOTES 2006", begins 7:00 p.m. eastern. Let's go to Lou Dobbs right now. Lou?

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