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Ballot Bowl '08: New Hampshire -- Rudy in Hollis, Obama in Manchester
Aired January 6, 2008 - 13:59 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to the CNN "Ballot Bowl." We are in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, along the New England seacoast, two days in advance of the presidential primary, the leadoff primary here in the state of New Hampshire. I'm John King. Thanks for sharing some of your Sunday afternoon with us today as we try to help you make your choice in the election just ahead.
Two days, as I mentioned, to the New Hampshire Presidential Primary. In the "Ballot Bowl," we try to give you an opportunity to see and hear the candidates for president in their own words. Live events throughout the day, also snippets from their speeches as they campaign feverishly here in New Hampshire.
Live as we speak, Senator Hillary Clinton out campaigning. Barack Obama due up later today. Although at the moment he is running, what they call it in New Hampshire is "Clinton time," meaning, he's running a little late. Other candidates also canvassing the state today. We'll have new poll numbers. We'll have a replay tonight of two fascinating debates here between the Democrats and Republicans.
But mostly in the "Ballot Bowl," we want you to get a chance to see and hear the candidates in their own words. Among those trying to make his case to the voters of New Hampshire, the Republican former mayor of New York City, Rudy Giuliani. Our Mary Snow, one member of the best political team on television, dropping by a Giuliani event earlier today. And Mary joins us now live.
MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, John. And you know, one thing we're noticing at these events all over New Hampshire, that people from out of state are actually showing up because they are so interested and want to join the people of New Hampshire. This morning Rudy Giuliani went to a house party in Hollis, New Hampshire, not too far from where we are right here in Nashua.
Harry and Allison Hytaen (ph) hosted this party. They say they only put it together on Friday. And they anticipated about 150 people packing their home. These were friends, parents of their children's friends, school parents and they really didn't have a good handle on just how many people were supporters of Rudy Giuliani. Many of them were undecided.
Giuliani, as you have pointed out, really has not been as competitive here in New Hampshire, because he has this unconventional strategy of moving on and really concentrating on Florida and other states. But he has reiterated that he has spent a lot of time here in the state. This morning really spoke a lot about national security. But he took time also to address some domestic issues, including energy independence.
Here is Rudy Giuliani earlier this morning, Hollis, New Hampshire, in his own words.
RUDY GIULIANI (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We can have a country that is energy independent. It can be done. We've been talking about it for -- my goodness, since Richard Nixon. Talk, talk, talk. Some things done, now it isn't fair to say nothing has been done. Things have been done. But a lot of things are either on hold or not being done.
And we have got to push all these things. And the president has to push all these things. Whether it's biofuels or hybrid vehicles or nuclear power or clean coal or liquid natural gas and natural gas or wind, solar, hydropower, all of these things have to be pushed as well as domestic oil and more refineries. So getting these things done is enormously important to making ourselves -- let's call it, energy diversified, and then energy independent.
Most importantly, to sum up the rest of my commitment, they almost all have to do with a philosophy. A way of thinking about America, which I believe -- and of course, everyone has somewhat of a different opinion on things like this, but I believe this is the core of what has made America great.
America is great and America is greatest, let's say, when America relies not on government to solve domestic problems, but on its people -- whenever it relies on people to decide things.
GIULIANI: So that leads me...
GIULIANI: That leads me to a whole group of answers. That's why I'm in favor of lower taxes. Because I believe...
GIULIANI: I believe you do much better when I leave money in your pocket than when we take the money out of your pocket and we bring it to Washington and Washington decides how to spend it.
I believe you make a better choice about the school that your child will go to if you make it right here and you select a public school, a private school, a parochial school, a charter school, or home schooling. If you choose that for your child, you should be able to make that choice. And government bureaucrats shouldn't say to you, no, you can't put your child in a school your choice. You have to put them in a school that we tell you the child has to go to. You know more about your child than any government bureaucrat, local, state, or federal.
Now this is true for the majority, the vast majority of children. It doesn't mean it can't -- there doesn't have to be some exceptions where children don't have good parents or a parent or a responsible parent or there might be some situations in which government has to make the decision.
But here's the point. That should be the exception. The rule should be the parents decide where the child goes to school. You see in, both cases, taxes and schools, the philosophy is the same. I trust people. The Democrats trust government more.
Same thing with your pension, with your Social Security. Yes, Social Security should be guaranteed. And, yes, the government should handle it. And if that's the option you want, you should have it 100 percent and we should do the things that are necessary to secure the Social Security trust fund and to make sure the benefits are there.
And I believe we can do that. This is one I believe we can do. Of course, I'm a lawyer, I believe in precedent. We've done it before. We've got a process for doing it. Getting the Republicans and Democrats together, getting to battle out their differences. They did it back in the Reagan era. We can do it again.
But this time we should come away with something more. We should come away with an option for personal accounts. You do not have to exercise the option. You can have the government handle all your money. Some people are much more comfortable and feel safer that way.
But if other people feel they would like to handle some of their money and have it personally invested, why not? It's your money. It's your money. If, as to some portion of that money, you want to take more of a risk because you believe you're going to get a much greater return, you should be able to do that.
To me, that's, once again -- same thing I said before, right? Democrats trust governments for everything. I believe you'll have to -- well, you have a choice like that, you have to trust people.
One final one, health care. We talked about that a bit in the debate last night. Health care, Democrats want to go in the direction of government control of health care. They want to control prices with regard to pharmaceuticals. They want to determine quality of care. They want to cover more and more people.
Recently they had a bill that would have covered a couple million more people and put them on government coverage. Some of whom who actually on private coverage, children.
The whole thrust -- and when you listen to them it's pretty clear, the whole thrust is either one big giant step toward or actually going directly to socialized medicine. Government-controlled medicine might be another way to describe it.
Once again, in the words of one of the Democratic candidates, there are some decisions that are too important for people to make. Government has to make them for you. She was...
GIULIANI: She was discussing your health care. There are some decision that are so personal -- I believe, there are some decisions so personal and so close to home that government should not be making them. You should be making them. And that's my philosophy.
SNOW: Rudy Giuliani, you heard there, just taking little jab at Senator Hillary Clinton. You know, John, unlike the debate last night where Republicans were exchanging some barbs, Rudy Giuliani at this house meeting earlier today in Hollis really didn't take aim at Republican rivals, more so he did at Democrats -- trying to distinguish himself from the Democrats.
Now a lot of questions have been asked about Rudy Giuliani's strategy here. And he has been saying that he is feeling pretty confident that his focus on Florida January 29th and then the Super Tuesday primaries of February 5th, he feels confident that that will be an advantage for him and that he's playing 50 states.
But you know, he has been fading into the background as he is -- really hasn't been as strong of a player in Iowa and New Hampshire -- John.
KING: Mary, I was going to ask you a policy question. But you watch an event like that, and I've been to a few Rudy events lately here in New Hampshire. He is a very funny guy. He is a very personable guy. He can make the personal connection at these small retail politics events that people say are so critical in a state like Iowa and New Hampshire.
But as you know here, many of the voters complain. He hasn't been here enough or at many of these events he takes one or two or three questions and moves on along. How do they explain in a state like this where Republicans do favor abortion rights, where there is a libertarian streak, where he is well known because New Hampshire is not all that far from New York -- how do they explain his decision to not put as much emphasis into New Hampshire that many of us thought at the beginning he might?
SNOW: Yes, well, that certainly is an issue for voters I'm talking with. And that's why they say they really have looked much more seriously at some of his rivals. Even though some of the voters I talked to were undecided, saying they're not really voting for him, they like his policies on national security.
But because he hasn't been such a strong presence and also people are expressing some kind of concern that if he -- will he be elected because he hasn't been in these two major races so far? They feel that they want to stick with people who have been here and are in these contests. That is their opinion.
KING: Mary Snow for us in Nashua. More from Mary later in the day. Thank you, Mary, very much.
More from Mary. More, probably, from Mayor Giuliani as well as we continue to track the candidates across the state. And if you paid attention to this campaign from the beginning, Rudy Giuliani was way ahead of the national polls, was doing well in many of the states. He has come now back down to earth.
And after Iowa, the campaign landscape has changed again. Just how much? What is the state of play right here, right now in the state New Hampshire? Let's go to the best in the business, our senior political analyst Bill Schneider, who can tell us just how much Iowa changed New Hampshire -- Bill.
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: John, who has got the bounce? That's the question of the moment, as we look at New Hampshire primary voters who were polled after the Iowa Caucuses.
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Are New Hampshire voters influenced by what happens in far away Iowa? Apparently they are. Before the Iowa Caucuses, Hillary Clinton was running 4 points ahead of Barack Obama in New Hampshire. Now they're dead even: Clinton 33, Obama 33, with John Edwards trailing at 20.
Both Obama and Edwards got bounces from Iowa, where they came in first and second. Each picked up 3 points in New Hampshire. And Clinton, no bounce for you. And the gender gap? It's gone. The race is a tie among women as well as men.
Obama got something else out of winning Iowa, a bounce in his perceived electability. Before Iowa, Clinton led Obama by better than two to one when New Hampshire Democrats were asked which candidate has the best chance of beating the Republicans? Electability was her issue.
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think I come into this race tested and proven and ready to take on the Republicans no matter what they send my way.
SCHNEIDER: Obama's response, who is she talking about?
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The notion that I'm -- you know, that a viability or electability argument is being made by somebody who starts off with almost half the country not being willing to vote for the them...
OBAMA: ... doesn't make much sense.
SCHNEIDER: Now the two are seen as equally electable. Fewer New Hampshire Democrats now believe Clinton is electable. Why? She lost. More Democrats now believe Obama is electable. Why? He won. Obama's victory in Iowa, and overwhelmingly white state, may have resolved some doubts about an African-American candidate's electability.
In the Republican race, it looks like Mike Huckabee's Iowa victory helped John McCain in New Hampshire. McCain gained 4 points in New Hampshire, Huckabee, just 1. A week ago, McCain and Mitt Romney were tied in New Hampshire. Now, McCain has pulled ahead.
SCHNEIDER: Iowa did not help Huckabee much in New Hampshire, where there are not many evangelical voters, he is still running fourth. The main impact was to make Romney more vulnerable -- John.
KING: And, Bill, we not only ask the voters here in New Hampshire who are you going to vote for, we ask them what do they think of the candidates? Do you like them? Do you view them favorably? Anything interesting there?
SCHNEIDER: Well, we came up with a very impressive result here. You know, all the candidates are talking about someone who can unite the country, who can bring both parties together. But can any of the candidates do that? We looked at how the Republican and Democratic primary voters in New Hampshire feel about the various contenders of both parties.
Take a look at how they feel about Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Democrats like both of them. Obama a little bit more than Clinton. But look at Republican voters. They don't like Hillary Clinton very much. Only 15 percent have a favorable opinion of her. Fifty-four percent, a majority of Republicans, like Barack Obama. He has a cross party appeal that she doesn't.
Now let's take a look at two Republican contenders. John McCain and Mitt Romney. Republicans like them both. McCain a little bit more than Romney. But Democratic primary voters in New Hampshire, they don't like Mitt Romney much, 16 percent favorable. But 62 percent have a positive opinion of John McCain.
Now wrap your mind around this. John McCain is liked very much by Republicans who are supposed to dislike him because of his leadership on comprehensive immigration reform, which they hate. But they like him. Democrats are supposed to dislike John McCain because he has wrapped himself tightly around President Bush's troop buildup in Iraq. But the evidence here in New Hampshire is they like him.
Both he and Obama are the only candidates we found who can appeal to both Republicans and Democrats.
KING: Fascinating, fascinating numbers. Bill Schneider, thanks for crunching the numbers for us. We'll check in with Bill later in the day as well as we continue to analyze the closely contested race here in New Hampshire.
And when our "Ballot Bowl" continues, we'll hear more from Senator Hillary Clinton as she campaigns, trying to engineer a comeback here in New Hampshire. And we'll hear from Iowa's big winner, Barack Obama, on the Democratic side. Other candidates ahead, too, as our "Ballot Bowl" coverage continues, a chance for you to hear from the candidates in extended segments in their own words.
Also tonight, a significant event here on CNN, a replay of two debates held last night, the Democrats and the Republicans. ABC News and our affiliate, WMUR, along with Facebook sponsoring these debates, remarkable moments, the Democrats and the Republican candidates sitting down.
Also, an extraordinary moment, both the Democrats and Republicans briefly sharing the stage. We'll bring you a replay of those debates, along with some analysis. Again, stay with us as our political coverage continues here on CNN, more from the candidates as the "Ballot Bowl" continues on the other side of the break.
KING: Welcome back to the CNN "Ballot Bowl." I'm John King, reporting live from Portsmouth, New Hampshire, along the sea coast. All day long, we're giving you a chance to listen to the candidates for president, Democrat and Republican in their own words. Live events, also some taped speeches as they campaign in advance of the leadoff presidential primary here just two days from now in the state of New Hampshire.
Senator Hillary Clinton, Democrat of New York, trying to engineer a rebound here in New Hampshire after losing in Iowa. She is campaigning at this hour. We're also waiting to hear from Barack Obama. He will be campaigning later today in Derry, New Hampshire. We have a live picture of an event there. Senator Obama running a bit behind schedule. That tends to happen at this stage in a campaign. But we'll see that event later.
Also, Senator Obama who, of course, is trying to build on his big victory in the Iowa Caucuses campaigned earlier today here in New Hampshire, trying to make the case to the people of New Hampshire that if they can give him back-to-back victories, he believes he'll be well on the way to the Democratic nomination and well on the way to having the opportunity to be the first African-American president in the history of the United States.
Let's listen to a bit of Senator Obama earlier today in Manchester.
OBAMA: Well, New Hampshire, a few days ago Iowa stood up and announced that it was time for change in America. And in two days' time, New Hampshire, it will be your turn to stand up. You will have the chance to change America in two days' time. Right here in New Hampshire, right here in Manchester.
In two days, you can do what the cynics said could not be done, what Iowa did this past week and what America can do this entire year. We will have the chance to come together, Democrats, Republicans, independents, and announce that we are one nation.
We are one people and it is time for change in America. This is our moment. This is our time to bring about the kind of America that we all believe in, in two days' time.
OBAMA: In two days' time, you can say that it is time for us to put aside the partisan food fight that we've become accustomed to in Washington, all the attacks and the anger and the trivialization of politics that has consumed Washington.
To end the politics where the political strategy is all about division and we can start making about it addition instead. About stretching an agenda of change from red states to blue states.
And that, by the way, is the reason I'm running for president of the United States of America because I'm interested in not just seeing a divided country, I want to see a united country, because that's the only way that we're going to deliver on health care reform.
That's the only way that we're going to deliver on energy policy that works. That's how we're going to fix our school system. That's how we'll change our foreign policy. That's how we will deliver on the promise of America.
OBAMA: Now we started this past week and you know, when you saw folks pouring into the precincts in Iowa, you could tell that there was something stirring in the air. Something was different, something was changing. People -- I went to one of the polling places, one of the caucus sites, and I went there early so I could greet people as they were coming in.
And one after one, people were lining up, young people. We had high school students who said, I'm so excited to be participating for the first time in my life. We had middle-aged folks who said, I have never caucused before, but I'm here because I believe we can do something different.
We had independents coming in and saying, I'm participating in this Democratic caucus, I never thought I would, but the stakes are too high for me to sit it out. We had Republicans coming in, I know, because they would whisper to me. They would pull aside.
(whispering): Barack, I'm a Republican...
OBAMA (whispering): ... but I support you and I'm changing registrations for this caucus.
OBAMA: And I would... (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA: And I would say...
(whispering): ... thank you.
OBAMA (whispering): Why are we whispering?
OBAMA: Something was changing. And because all those folks in Iowa stood up and said, enough, it's time to turn the page. It's time to write a new chapter in American history. We are now on the cusp of creating a new majority in American politics.
A majority that will help us win the nomination, a majority that will help us win the general election. But most importantly, a majority that will help us govern. A majority that will allow us to finally say that we have the power and not only the intentions to deliver on a health care system that works for every American, to deliver on affordable college education, to actually break the grip of foreign oil on our economy, when we have numbers nobody can stop us, and we can build those numbers right here in New Hampshire in two days' time.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA: In two days' time, we have a chance to say to the lobbyists that their days of setting the agenda in Washington are over. They have not financed my campaign. They will not run my White House. And they will not drown out the voice of the American people when I'm president of the United States of America.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
KING: Barack Obama speaking earlier today in Manchester, the Democratic winner in Iowa hoping for another victory here in New Hampshire on Tuesday, telling voters if they give him that, he believes they will give him a chance to make history and be on his way to the Democratic nomination.
Barack Obama, one of the many candidates we're covering today as part of the CNN "Ballot Bowl," a chance for you to listen to the candidates in their own words, extended segments of their campaign speeches. More live coverage ahead.
And also, we want to tell you about a special event tonight on CNN. Two debates, the Democrats and the Republicans sit down here in Manchester. ABC and our affiliate WMUR sponsored these debates along with Facebook. Some crackling and interesting moments, fascinating back and forth between the candidates, the Democrats and the Republicans here tonight on CNN, a special replay beginning at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.
And a little preview in just a moment on the other side of the break. Earlier our Dan Lothian brought you a chunk of sound, a segment, snippets from the Democratic side of that debate. Dan will be with us on the other side of the break to give us a preview of some of the contention among the Republican candidates.
Please stay with us as our unprecedented political coverage continues here on CNN. You are watching the CNN "Ballot Bowl."
KING: Welcome back to the CNN "Ballot Bowl." I'm John King reporting live from Portsmouth, New Hampshire. A bit earlier we showed you a contentious segment of a Democratic debate last night here in the state of New Hampshire. Now we want to go back to our Dan Lothian for a little snippet of the back and forth on the Republican side -- Dan.
DAN LOTHIAN, CNN BOSTON BUREAU CHIEF : Hello, John. Well, you know, even though Senator John McCain is the one who has been surging here in the state of New Hampshire, it was Governor Mitt Romney from neighboring Massachusetts who took a lot of the incoming missiles last night.
He was really on the defensive as his opponents really tried to paint him as the one who is essentially a flip-flopper, who has been changing on his positions. But Mitt Romney also went after Mike Huckabee for statements that he has made in the past about the Bush administration having an arrogant bunker mentality.
Here is a little snippet from last night's debate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE HUCKABEE, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: First of all, Governor Romney, you yourself on "60 Minutes" said that we had left Iraq in a mess. You've also said that you weren't going to have this my way or no way philosophy.
And I've been attacked for using the words "policy that had an arrogance and bunker mentality." I didn't say president was. I supported the president in the war before you did. I supported the surge when you didn't. I'm not a person who is out there taking cheap shots at the president. I worked really hard to get him elected.
But I'm not running for George Bush's third term. I want to be president of the United States on my own terms. And I think it's important for us to recognize -- let me finish. When congressman ...
MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I need a chance.
CHARLIE GIBSON, ABC NEWS ANCHOR: You'll all get a chance.
HUCKABEE: The fact is that when there is a serious threat to this country, it is not a threat because we happen to be peace loving people. It's a threat because in the heart of the radical Islamic faith, not all Islam, and that's what's very important. This isn't an Islamic problem. This is a jihadist problem. This is an Islamofascism problem. And if you read the writings of those who most influenced and Governor Romney mentioned Said Qutub (ph), executed in Egypt in 1966, he is one of the major philosophers behind this. And the fact is there is nothing about our attacking them that prompts this. They are prompted by the fact they believe that they must establish a worldwide caliphate that has nothing to do with us other than we live and breathe and their intention is to destroy us.
ROMNEY: Very quickly. You went after Governor Romney. A number of things. I disagree with the governor writing in "Foreign Affairs" magazine that president's administration suffers from an arrogant ...
HUCKABEE: Did you read the article before you comment on it? The whole article.
ROMNEY: I did read the entire article. I won't make any further comments. It was not -- before I got a copy of the article and read the article. And in the headline of the article ...
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Did you read mine?
ROMNEY: Hold on. No, hold on. No, I didn't, sorry. But I read his.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What about mine?
ROMNEY: Number two, I did support the surge. It was Senator McCain, of all of us, who is out fighting for the surge. He was right on. That on the same day the president announced the surge, I also, having spoke than day with Fred Kagan, one of the brilliant theorists in this regard, I laid out my plan that I thought made sense, actually even before the president's speech calling for additional troops. I called for a different number. So I also supported the surge from the very beginning. But, look, you know, governor, don't try to characterize my position. Of course this war has not ...
HUCKABEE: Which one?
ROMNEY: You know, you know, we're wise to talk about policies and not to make personal attacks.
HUCKABEE: It's not a personal attack, Mitt. And you also supported a timed withdrawal. And Senator Pryor from my state was praising you for that.
ROMNEY: I do not support -- and have never supported a timed withdrawal. So that is wrong, governor. It is really helpful if you talk about your policies and the things you believe and let me talk about my policies.
LOTHIAN: He seems to be relishing or feeding off that criticism that he received last night in the debate telling ABC News that the guy with the football is the guy people are trying to tackle. John?
KING: They're doing quite a bit of it. Dan, maybe he is a football player. Maybe he's the pinata. We'll watch this one as it goes on. Dan Lothian tracking those contentious debates for us last night. Thank you, Dan.
And we showed you a snippet of the debates there. We're going to show you the debates in the entirety tonight beginning at 7:00. We think they're important as the people of new Hampshire begin to vote and all of you around the country get a chance to see and hear the candidates. Some crackling and contentious moments and fun moments as well. The Democrats and the Republicans. We want to show you part of the debate. You had the Democrats and Republicans were sitting down and we'll look at this. For all the contentiousness in the campaign, how about this for a rare moment? Both the Democrats and Republicans briefly sharing the stage together. This is between the debates as the Republicans were making their way off the stage, the Democrats making their way on. A few moments to say hello. You see John McCain saying hello to colleague in the Senate Barack Obama there. Giuliani, Edwards, Huckabee, the Democrats and the Republicans sharing a rare moment of bipartisan comity, you might say in, a campaign that has been much more contentious. That part of our special coverage on CNN here tonight when we replay the debates.
On the other side of the break, more of our "Ballot Bowl." The candidates in their own words. Please stay with us.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Suzanne Malveaux in New Hampshire, Nashua, New Hampshire where Senator Hillary Clinton just wrapping up about an hour and a half of answering questions before a packed audience at this high school. About 2,000 people in the auditorium. Just wrapping up about 800 in the flow over section. Clearly, the aides putting her out here to show she can handle any issue, any topic. This is something that is new. She's decided to scrap her old speech and really put in something that is much more aggressive. And she is going squarely after her main opponent, Senator Barack Obama. Let's take a listen.
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: How did you like that debate last night?
Well -- you know, what was important about that debate is that it made very clear what the principal difference in this election is about. It is about how we bring about change by making sure we nominate and elect a doer, not a talker, that ...
CLINTON: I want to be sure that our country keeps pace with their dreams, that we can deliver the kind of possibilities that will give each of you a chance to live out your own hopes.
So that's what I intend to do during this campaign and on to the White House with your help and that is to make sure that we get back to believing in our country because we can believe that we together can count on our president to produce the changes that we desperately yearn for and what I want to do is give you a chance to look at each of us. I and my opponents in this race, all of whom are good people and everyone of whom has made a tremendous contribution to this campaign and service to our country, but there are differences and those differences are important. You know, I've been making positive changes in people's lives, particularly children and young people for more than 35 years and it's something - it's something that I did long before I was followed around by cameras or had my name in the newspaper.
It was because I believed that for those of us who have been given blessings, to whom much is given, much is expected. And I knew that I could take my work and use it to help others. And so that's what I've done. I did it as a young lawyer working for the children's ...
MALVEAUX: It's a new campaign. Clinton aides saying that this is about talk versus action, rhetoric versus reality. That is the new theme that they are using. Moving forward here, obviously countering what she considers to be her most fierce opponent, Senator Barack Obama. She mentioned that debate. We'll have that full debate on CNN at 7:00 Eastern later today.
And on the other side of this break, we'll hear from Senator John McCain on the Republican side as CNN's "Ballot Bowl" continues.
KING: Welcome back to the CNN "Ballot Bowl." I'm John King reporting live from Portsmouth, New Hampshire. As we continue our coverage of the candidates in their own words, unfiltered, live events across the state of New Hampshire in advance of Tuesday's presidential primary here.
At the moment, Barack Obama about to have an event. Our Jessica Yellin standing by there. Also another man of the moment in New Hampshire, Republican Senator John McCain. Our Dana Bash is with him.
Dana Bash and Jessica Yellin part of the best political team on television. Let's begin by checking in with Jessica. Jessica, Senator Obama obviously trying to capitalize on his momentum coming out of the Iowa caucuses. Tell us about his day here in New Hampshire.
JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, he's already had two events. And the new theme and the new tone you hear is this sense of optimism and real confidence that he is going to win. He said it the last event, quote "Once I become the Democratic nominee, once I become the nominee, I know the other side will go after me and throw everything they've got at me and I'm ready to take that on."
But the message from him here, he's telling the New Hampshire voters that if they give him a chance to win New Hampshire that he is essentially unstoppable. Obama right now is really going after the independents, the majority of this state's voters are these independents can vote in either party, as you know. And he's trying to get as many as he can over to his side to give him that edge over Senator Clinton. He's talking about this new theme that there is a possibility of bringing Democrats and Republicans together in a new coalition.
And when you talk to these folks in these audiences, that's the message that connects with them. Yes, they want to hear about health care, they want to hear about education and oil and energy policy. But what really connects with them is the possibility that this man can get something done. That he can accomplish things. And they use the words, he feels authentic and real. That's what they hear a lot in the Obama crowds.
Of course, there is plenty of pushback coming from the Senator Clinton camp, urging everybody to look at the record and to check whether they changed positions. But that's not what folks are talking about. What they're talking about is the vibe they get off of him, the energy they get from a real person.
And huge, huge crowds with lots of energy coming out for him. One caveat, I should mention, when you look at the large crowds, many of them are from out of state, from neighboring states, Massachusetts and Vermont, et cetera. So this doesn't necessarily reflect the New Hampshire electorate. But, still, huge enthusiasm for Barack Obama out here. John?
KING: Thank you, Jessica. That is a great point worth noting. The excitement building in this campaign on the Democratic and Republican side. You see people coming in just to see it. People from Massachusetts. We're here in Portsmouth at the moment. Just across the bridge from Kittery, Maine. Excitement throughout New England as the campaign continues. Jessica Yellin with the Obama campaign.
One of the big stories at the moment, another big story here, the potential comeback of Senator John McCain of Arizona who is campaigning earlier today in Salem, New Hampshire. Not only did he have a town hall, he also spent some time speaking with reporters. That's where we find our Dana Bash. Dana?
DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, Senator McCain had a huge crowd here. Now everybody is pretty much left. But he did what John McCain has been doing day in and day out. He had what he called his 101st town hall meeting here in Salem, New Hampshire. And he took questions that really ran the gamut.
But one of the things that really hurt John McCain several months ago was his support for the so-called surge in Iraq. But lately, since the surge apparently seems to have some success in Iraq, he has been playing that up in his own way basically saying I told you so. And really sort of drumming up the crowd with his -- with his insistence that he gets it on the international stage. That he understands how to wage a war. He understands how to deal with issues of national security. But he hasn't convinced everybody. And that was evident here today. He got a question from a woman, an independent voter who said, you know what, I understand what you're saying. But I really worry about the cost of the war. Listen to that.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am also really concerned about religious extremism. But I'm concerned that our presence in the Middle East is actually making a problem worse, not better. I think about what it must be like to be an Iraqi and to be occupied. I can't imagine that anybody in this room would want to live with a foreign occupying force.
And as an expectant mom, I'm -- as this gentleman up here said, I'm so concerned about the cost of the war. It cost over a trillion dollars so far, $720 million a day when we could be funding education at home and funding housing and health care.
And I'm wondering if you could just say a little bit more about what diplomatic and political tools you would use to help combat or mitigate extremism. Both here and abroad, I would add.
MCCAIN: Thank you very much. And congratulations on expecting a child. And I hope that everything goes well. It's wonderful.
Could I say very briefly that I understand that many Iraqis resent America's presence and a lot of that had to do with our failures after the initial successful invasion. But I think a lot of Iraqis remember what it was like when Saddam Hussein was in power. When people were killed and when his sons cruised the streets of Baghdad and grabbed young women off the street and then tortured and killed them. That there was prisons that unspeakable horrors were committed including using weapons of mass destruction against the Kurds.
Let's have no doubt, my friends, that the Saddam Hussein regime which had also invaded Kuwait, as you may recall, was a horrible regime. And one of the most brutal and oppressive regimes in the world. So I think a lot of those people are also grateful that they no longer have to live under that kind of a ruler.
We're reaching a stage now in my view where we can get the other countries in the region involved. Even the Syrians have sent their ambassador a couple of times. I think that the Egyptians, the Jordanians and even the Saudis and others are becoming more engaged in that phase of this conflict.
I am convinced that if we can maintain the same kind of progress in the coming months that we have in the past seven or eight months that the Iraqi people, again enjoy the kind of experience they did just last New Year's Eve. That they are out on the streets now. There schools are opening and refugees are coming back. And we have a long way to go.
I'm also convinced that if we set a day for withdrawal and a day for surrender and maybe save that trillion dollars you are talking about, we would have paid a much heavier price in American blood and treasure.
Because I read Zarqawi, I read bin Laden. I know what they're saying. They're saying that they want Iraq. They want Saudi Arabia and they want the United States of America. And the death and destruction and the chaos and the genocide that took place would cost us a lot, lot more than it is today in American blood and treasure.
So I believe that we can continue this successful strategy. And I believe that if we will not pull out at a earlier date than General Petraeus decides we should, that you will see a peaceful Iraq and a reduction in that amount of money that's being spent as well.
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BASH: Now two other interesting points from John McCain's appearance here in Salem, first of all, he was also presented with an interesting question by a voter. A voter wanted to ask something but said he is trying to decide between John McCain and Barack Obama. Which is a fascinating sort of illustration of what is going on here in New Hampshire with this independent vote. Trying to decide between two people who seem extremely different if you really look at their records.
After the event I asked Senator McCain, what do you say to a voter who's trying to decide between he said very clearly he said I'm a conservative Republican. Barack Obama is a liberal Democrat. I have experience. Basically he said, he doesn't. It was really fascinating, John, to sort of listen to that dynamic. Because that is what is going on out there among voters trying to make up their mind, those crucial independent voters in New Hampshire.
KING: It is remarkable. Dana bash with the McCain campaign. One of the fascinating dynamics. Many of the independent voters say they're looking for someone who promises to get things done in Washington, not worried about being bipartisan. Torn, as Dana just noted, in some cases between Barack Obama and John McCain.
More of our "Ballot Bowl" coverage beginning. A little bit more than an hour from now we'll be back. After a break, when we come back at 4:00, two more hours of our "Ballot Bowl" including Mike Huckabee, the surprise winner in the Iowa caucuses trying to make his case here to the people of New Hampshire. We'll also have new poll numbers in the 5:00 hour when we return to our ballot bowl. Is New Hampshire voter sentiment shifting in advance of Tuesday's primary?
And also tonight, a special event here on CNN, a replay of dramatic debates between the Democratic and the Republican contenders. Both sitting down last night here in Manchester for ABC News/WMUR debates, crackling exchanges. Interesting exchanges on the issues. We'll bring you those tonight as part of our special coverage at 7:00 p.m. Again, the CNN "Ballot Bowl" will continue in just one hour. After the break, though, YOUR MONEY. Please stay with us.
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