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The CNN Ballot Bowl

Aired January 20, 2008 - 13:00   ET


JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Welcome to what we call the CNN Ballot Bowl. I'm John King reporting live from New Port Richey, Florida, the site in the next hour of a Rudy Giuliani event. If you've been with us the past few weekends, CNN Ballot Bowl is our opportunity to share with you something we hope you enjoy and find useful. As this fascinating presidential campaign unfolds, a chance to hear from the candidates, the Republicans and the Democrats. Extended snippets, some live events, some taped speeches, a chance for you to listen to all of the candidates and rate them as the campaign moves perhaps into your state in the days and weeks ahead.
It's a fascinating time in the campaign fresh from the early contest. Here in the state of Florida, next up for the Republicans. In the next hour, we will bring you live events. Hillary Clinton is in New York this hour. Outside a Baptist church, she will speak shortly. I'm at the site of a Rudy Giuliani event. The former New York City mayor trying to make his case that his risky strategy of largely skipping the early contests and waiting here for the Florida Republican primary will pay off in the end. Mayor Giuliani due here in just a little bit. Again, Senator Clinton in New York. Also, we'll bring you the other candidates in the hours on the CNN Ballot Bowl.

The big story though, we are speaking to you one day after the Republican primary in South Carolina. The "St. Petersburg Times" puts it this way, McCain prevails in South Carolina. The state where his campaign went off course back in 2000, John McCain the winner, hoping a win here in the state of Florida could establish him as the Republican front-runner after the jumble of the early states.

Mike Huckabee wins in Iowa, McCain won in New Hampshire, Romney winning out in Michigan. Now the Republican race will move from South Carolina here to the state of Florida. In South Carolina, this morning our Dana Bash had a chance to sit down exclusively one-on-one with the winner, Senator John McCain. And Dana now joins us from Charleston. Dana?

DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well John, as you can imagine, John McCain was very, very happy when I saw him this morning. As he said last night, he waited eight years for this win after a brutal, brutal defeat in the year 2000 in this primary. He seems to be a little bit cautious about, you know, his new status as somebody who seems to be at least one of the candidates in command of the Republican field.

But one of the things, one of the many questions, about John McCain and his candidacy going forward is how he won this primary here in South Carolina and the primary in New Hampshire. And he won not just with the help of Republicans, but with the help of Independents, who traditionally do flock to John McCain. So, he does have a challenge in reaching out to -- reaching deeper into his Republican base as he goes forward in order to become the Republican nominee, and that's how I started my interview with him.


BASH: Senator, congratulations.


BASH: Obviously, this is a big win in a very conservative state, but if you look at the exit polls, about three in 10 of the voters do describe themselves as Republicans voted for you, just three in 10. So, what does that tell you about your ability, still at this point, to get your fellow Republicans to vote for you?

MCCAIN: Well, it says I got more votes than anybody else, and it says that I got it from across the spectrum all over the state, a little heavier in the coast. But we expected this to be a very hotly contested race. And for the last 28 years, the candidate that has won South Carolina has been the nominee of the party. So, we're taking it all the way to the bank.

BASH: The fact, though, that, still, only three in 10 of the people who voted for you, even here were Republicans. A lot of your support seemed to still come from Independents.

MCCAIN: Good. The information we have that we had broad-based Republican support. I don't know what your database is, but all over the state of South Carolina we received broad-based, strong support from conservatives, moderates, liberals, all over the state. We're very happy with the result.

BASH: Now, you're moving on to Florida, where unlike this state, unlike your last win, in New Hampshire, Independents aren't going to be a part of your -- the electorate. How do you, John McCain, consolidate support among Republicans?

MCCAIN: Well, you, of course, pick up on the momentum that you get from these victories. The second thing is, Florida's a very patriotic state, a lot of veterans, a lot of people who care about national security. There's great concern about the economy and the excess spending that's been going on. I think I have a strong economic proposal that includes tax cuts and restraints -- restraint of spending. There's a lot of environmental concerns in the state of Florida. I think I have a good record on that. And we'll be campaigning hard. We've got a very slight lead in the polls now, and I'm confident we will do very well there.

BASH: Now your friend Rudy Giuliani is already there waiting for you. And he has already been really aggressive, and essentially going after you for not supporting President Bush's tax cuts. MCCAIN: Well, I appreciate his attention. Back some months ago when we weren't doing so well, we were the closest friends. Look, I'm running on my record. I'm a fiscal conservative. Everybody knows that. Everybody knows I was part of the Reagan revolution, where we had tax cuts when frankly Mayor Giuliani was supporting a Democrat for governor of the state of New York.

So, I'm proud of my fiscal record. I'm proud of the efforts to cut spending. I'm proud to have people like Phil Gramm, Jack Kemp and Marty Feldstein and the strongest fiscal conservatives in our party that are all supporting me. That's for a reason.

BASH: You mentioned that Rudy Giuliani supported a Democratic candidate. Are you suggesting that you're more of a fiscal conservative than he?

MCCAIN: I know that I'm a fiscal conservative, and that's why I have the support of Jack Kemp, Phil Gramm, Marty Feldstein, a broad group of economic conservatives as well as four former secretaries of state, by the way. Leading the nation and making it secure is still, I think, the number one priority of the American people.

BASH: You still, even though you talk nonstop about the need to cut pork-barrel spending, you still seem to have a little bit of a challenge in convincing Republicans that you are a fiscal conservative, perhaps because of your vote against the Bush tax cuts.

MCCAIN: Look, people examine my record, people see me with Jack Kemp, people who see me with Phil Gramm, people who see me with Senator Tom Coburn and all strong and respected economic conservatives. That's one of the reasons we just won this race and why we won in New Hampshire.

BASH: Now, on the economy, as soon as the president came out with his stimulus plan, you said that there has to be a cut in spending. Now, that you've had a chance to look at it, will you vote for any kind of stimulus plan that doesn't have a cut in spending to go along with it?

MCCAIN: We have to have restraint in spending. Everybody knows that. Last time we did one of these things, they loaded it up with pork-barrel projects. They loaded it up with billions of dollars of pork-barrel projects. Americans won't stand for that, and I won't either.

But I'm for middle-class tax cuts, for cutting the corporate tax rate, 35 percent to 25 percent, from expensing investments to R&D tax credits, things that making the tax cuts permanent. Those things can be done immediately to have an immediate stimulus effect. So I've not seen the details of the president's proposal and I have not seen Congress will do. So I can't tell you what I will do until I have a chance to see it. But I have a proposal of my own that is very strong and is what this American economy needs.

BASH: But in theory, based on what you've said about --

MCCAIN: I have not seen it, so I don't know. I cannot tell you what I would vote for.

BASH: Would you vote for anything that would increase the deficit?

MCCAIN: If there's plans for restraining spending, I would have to look at the proposal. I can't make a judgment, but there has to be restraint in spending. Spending out of control is why we are in the position we are in today. Why the Chinese own so much of American paper. Why the dollar is weak. Why interest rates are as high as they are. Because we let spending get completely out of control. Phil Gramm, Jack Kemp and I, we were the foot soldiers in the Reagan revolution, and we restrained spending that was one of the keys to the success during the Reagan years.

BASH: When you came here to South Carolina, you seemed to change your tone of your talk about the economy. In Michigan, you talked about the fact that jobs weren't coming back. Here you were more optimistic. Did you learn perhaps that there's such a thing as too much straight talk?

MCCAIN: No, actually I didn't change and I said there was the old jobs were not coming back. People in South Carolina know that the textile mills aren't coming back. But they've got a government and a governor and a legislature that is business friendly. Businesses are coming here. The South Carolina economy is on the rise. And that's the kind of government that matters. And it's a fiscally responsible government. I didn't change any. I doubt if I will.

BASH: Are you the front-runner now?

MCCAIN: I think we -- I think we're doing very well. I'm optimistic about -- about doing well in Florida. And I'm glad we've had these wins. And, again, 28 years, whoever's won here has been the nominee.


BASH: Now, you heard John McCain refuse there to use the word "front-runner" to describe himself, but just a short while later with reporters, he had quite a zinger against Rudy Giuliani. When asked why Rudy Giuliani is going after him, he said perhaps it's because he hasn't won a primary yet that he wants to go after the front-runner. So that was an interesting moment.

But, you know, John, he didn't really answer the question, really wouldn't go there when I was trying to press him on the fact that he hasn't really gotten a coalition of Republicans behind him. He still has an issue with the Republican base, particularly on the issue of tax cuts. But he did answer it in another way, by repeating over and over and over again the names of Jack Kemp, of Phil Gramm, of Marty Feldstein. These are names that perhaps aren't that well known to the average American, but they are very well-known to the conservative base, particularly those who are interested in fiscal issues. They are part of his traveling band of brothers, if you will, on the campaign trail. They'll be with him as he goes forward in Florida. That's not an accident. He's trying to send a not-so-subtle message to those conservatives that he is one of them. Like I said, he has an issue with them particularly because he voted against President Bush's tax cut. John?

KING: And Dana, you say he's not sure he should adopt the front- runner's mantle just yet. If he won Florida, he would clearly be the Republican front-runner. It is a diverse state, a bigger state than South Carolina. Any strategy shift to look for from Senator McCain here?

BASH: You know, after my interview with Senator McCain he and his top advisers were going back up to the hotel suite to sort of map out what their strategy is to talk about going forward. They are planning on spending a lot of money, particularly for John McCain's campaign, which doesn't have a lot of money, about $1 million in advertising.

In the beginning their focus is going to be on John McCain the war hero, John McCain, the military veteran. They say that here in South Carolina he benefited from the veteran and military population, which is really big. It's actually even bigger in the state of Florida, maybe even about 40 percent of the Republican electorate there.

So, that is going to be their primary focus, on sell John McCain as somebody who is at the -- is the best commander-in-chief in the Republican field. He's going to be up against Rudy Giuliani, who has been camping out in Florida, trying to make the case that he is that man. So, it's going to be interesting to watch the two of them go back and forth a lot more than they already are. John?

KING: Dana Bash for us in Charleston, South Carolina. Dana will join us later for some more coverage here in the Ballot Bowl as will some of our other correspondents as they cover the campaigns across the country on a very busy Sunday as the campaign moves on from South Carolina to Florida for the Republicans, from Nevada to South Carolina for the Democrats.

Much more ahead in our Ballot Bowl. Here's a bit of the game plan. Coming up, Rudy Giuliani live here in New Port Richey, Florida. Also Barack Obama at the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta today. As the campaign continues, we thank you for sharing some of your Sunday with us. Stay with us, you're watching the CNN Ballot Bowl.


KING: Welcome back to the CNN Ballot Bowl. I'm John King in New Port Richey, Florida. This, part of our extended political coverage of a fascinating and remarkably unpredictable presidential campaign. I'm in New Port Richey because just moments from now, the former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani will be campaigning here.

I think we can show you a live shot of that event, a live picture. The mayor due here in just a few minutes and we will bring you that event live as part of our Ballot Bowl game plan.

Also coming up in the hour ahead, Senator Hillary Clinton, Democrat of New York, fresh from a bit of momentum out in Nevada yesterday, a close win there, a narrow victory over Barack Obama in the Nevada caucuses. She has now won the last two contests in New Hampshire and in Nevada, after Barack Obama's big win to kick off the Democratic nominating process out in Iowa.

Now, though, we want you to hear from that senator there, the junior senator from Illinois, Barack Obama, speaking earlier this morning at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Unity is the great need of the hour. That's what Dr. King said. It is the great need of this hour as well. Not because it sounds pleasant, not because it makes us feel good, but because it's the only way we can overcome the essential deficit that exists in this country. I'm not talking about the budget deficit. I'm not talking about the trade deficit. I'm talking about the moral deficit in this country.

I'm talking about an empathy deficit -- the inability to recognize ourselves in one another; to understand that we are our brother's keeper and our sister's keeper. That in the words of Dr. King, we are all tied together in a single garland of destiny.

We have an empathy deficit when we're still sending our children down corridors of shame, schools in the forgotten corners of America, where the color of your skin still affects the contents of your education. We have a deficit when CEOs are making more in 10 minutes than ordinary workers are making in an entire year. When families lose their homes so unscrupulous lenders can make a profit. When mothers can't afford a doctor, when their children are stricken with illness.

We have a deficit in this country when we have Scooter Libby, justice for some, and Jena justice for others. When our children see hanging nooses from a schoolyard tree today in the present in the 21st century.

We have a deficit when homeless veterans sleep on the streets of our cities, when innocents are slaughtered in the deserts of Darfur, when young Americans serve tour after tour after tour after tour of duty in a war that should have never been authorized and should have never been waged.

We have an empathy deficit in this country that has to be closed. We have a deficit when it takes a breach in the levees to reveal the breach in our compassion. When it takes a terrible storm to reveal the hungry that God calls on us to feed, the sick that he calls on us to care for, the least of these that he commands that we treat as our own.

So, we have a deficit to close. We have walls, barriers to justice and equality that must come down. And to do this, we know that unity is the great need of the hour.

However, all too often when we talk about unity in this country, we've come to believe that it can be purchased on the cheap. We've come to believe that racial reconciliation can come easily, that it's just a matter of a few ignorant people trapped in the prejudices of the past. And it's the demagogues and those that exploit our racial divisions that will simply go away that all our problems will be solved.

All too often we seek to ignore the profound structural and institutional barriers that stand in the way of ensuring opportunity for all of our children or decent jobs for all of our people or health care for those who are sick. We long for unity, but we are not willing to pay the price!

Of course, true unity cannot be so easily purchased. It starts with a change in attitude. It starts with changing our hearts, changing our minds, broadening our spirit. It's not easy to stand in somebody else's shoes. It's not easy to see past our own differences.

We've all encountered this in our own lives. What makes it even more difficult is that we have politics in this country that seeks to drive us apart. It puts up walls between us. We are told that those who differ from us on a few things differ from us on all things. That our problems are the fault of those who don't think like us or look like us or come from where we do. The welfare queen, she's taking our money. The immigrant, he's taking our jobs. The believer condemns the nonbeliever as immoral. And the nonbeliever chides the believer for being intolerant.


KING: Senator Barack Obama, senator of Illinois, Democrat of Illinois, speaking earlier today at the Ebenezer Baptist Church of Atlanta. Whatever your politics, a remarkable moment of seeing the first black candidate with a credible chance of winning the presidency standing in the pulpit of that historic church. And also a very important moment for Senator Barack Obama as the race moves on into other states where African-Americans make up a larger percentage of the population. The next big contest for the Democrats is in the state of South Carolina. Traveling with Senator Obama and on her way to Columbia, South Carolina, is our Jessica Yellin who joins us on the telephone.

And Jessica, so Hillary Clinton has won the last two contests in New Hampshire and yesterday in Nevada a narrow victory after Obama wins in Iowa. Pressure building on the Obama camp to show he can win again.

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on phone): Absolutely, John. Enormous pressure on Barack Obama to deliver in South Carolina, his next stop. And he's really counting on a victory there fueled by African-American voters.

So today's speech, while it was a coincidence in some sense, we're told he was invited to give this speech even before he decided to run for president, it was enormously well timed because it really is intended, in a sense, to fuel the African-American excitement for his presidency or his candidacy.

And I'll tell you the speech today, it was more quiet inspiration than fiery oratory. So many times, we've seen Democrat candidates, Al Gore and Hillary Clinton go into churches and adopt a tone that works for the audience but doesn't play as well on a national stage.

And Obama, without question, avoided that today. He mostly stayed above day-to-day politics, driving home his message of hope. You heard him there, he took some veiled digs at Hillary Clinton saying there were other candidates who would play on the politics of fear. He even referenced the tension that erupted over them on race, saying that's an issue that divides and distracts from the real issues.

But as for appealing to his audience, he added even in the sound that you just played, he always says on the stump, you know, there's Scooter Libby politics, Scooter Libby justice in America and then justice for the rest of us. Today, he said Scooter Libby justice and Jena justice. He used the -- from the Jena case, again, the fact why do our children have to see nooses outside their schools.

So, that was catered to his audience. He called on the African- American community to do more, to be more accepting of gays and lesbians, to be more accepting of Jews, for dads to be home more with their kids. That's Obama doing what he says he likes to do, calling on the people he's talking to take tough challenges. But he didn't really dig down into any specific political issues beyond that.

Now we've obviously realized the importance of him staying, you know, getting the vote of the African-American community in South Carolina. And it would have been a huge boon for him to get the endorsement of the pastor of this church. The pastor is not endorsing. Bill Clinton will be here tomorrow. Also Mike Huckabee's coming to town. But I'll tell you, he seemed to walk as close up to an endorsement as you could get without giving one, saying that Barack Obama is the realization of Martin Luther King's dreams. And he said that it's been 40 years since Martin Luther King died. The Israelites wandered the desert for 40 years. Maybe there's something magical about 40 years. It's our time to capture the promise of Dr. King. Quite a morning in church, John?

KING: Jessica Yellin. And Jessica will join us later as our Ballot Bowl continues. I'm sure Senator Obama found those words inspiring and he hopes helpful as the Democratic contest moves into states where more African-American voters will have a much more significant role. Jessica thank you, we'll see you a bit later as the Ballot Bowl continues.

As when it continues, the former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, one of his supporters, the actor Jon Voight warming up the crowd here in New Port Richey, Florida. Jon Voight traveling with Rudy Giuliani today. He has spent so much, the mayor has, here in the state of Florida. We will hear from him when the Ballot Bowl continues. Also Senator Hillary Clinton, she's in New York on this day. Thanks for sharing some of your Sunday with us. Stay with us as our extended coverage of the campaign continues in our Ballot Bowl.


KING: I'm John King in New Port Richey, Florida. Welcome back to what we call CNN's Ballot Bowl, a chance for you to hear from the candidates for president, Republicans and Democrats. Unfiltered, long extended portions of their speeches as they campaign across the country, seeking their party's nomination.

We're in Florida today because the former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani is about to speak here in New Port Richey. Rudy country, Florida is Rudy country they say on these bumper stickers. That will be put to the test as Rudy Giuliani and the other Republicans compete in the next big contest here. The February 29th contest here. You see actor Jon Voight there warming up the crowd at a restaurant here in New Port Richey. He is a Giuliani supporter. We'll get to the mayor shortly when is speaking.

Another Republican candidate for president has high stakes as the campaign moves on here to the state of Florida. And he is the Iowa winner, Mike Huckabee. Evangelical support propelled the former Arkansas governor to his big win in Iowa. He had hoped to do much of the same in South Carolina, another state with a significant Evangelical population.

Instead, though, Governor Huckabee placed second to John McCain in South Carolina as the campaign draws on. He is trying to raise money today in Texas. He says he will continue. And in his speech last night in Columbia as he conceded that state to John McCain, Governor Huckabee said still a great deal of optimism on his side and a long way to go in this race.

Let's listen to a little bit of former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee last night in Columbia, South Carolina.


MIKE HUCKABEE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Let me just say that tonight is not a time to start asking what if, it's a time to start talking about what now.

And we're not going to sit around and second-guess, what if we had done, what if -- no. You know what, I feel like our effort here. We gave everything we had. We left it all on the field. I don't want anyone who worked in this campaign, from our volunteers, our staff, to feel anything other than an extraordinary sense of pride. And also a sense of just sheer joy that we got as far as we did when nobody thought it was even possible for us to be in contention.

Let me tell you and remind you how we got here. It wasn't because we had the most money, the most consultants, the most staff, the most resources, the most polls, the most focus groups. Here's what we had. What we had was we had a message that has connected and continues to connect with people all over this country who have feared that they have been forgotten and have become invisible to many political people.

And they fear that maybe they mattered just as much, because what they really want is they want a government that will take the heavy burden of taxation off their backs. They want a government that will start thinking about how much money it's spending and stop it. And finally start acting with some level of sanity when it comes to spending the very dollars they've taken from us.

People want a government that recognizes that mothers and fathers really do raise better children than governments do, and they want a government that leaves them alone so they can raise their children as they see fit, not with the government telling them how.

They want a government who will finally build a fence, secure our borders, and confront the issue, not just of illegal immigration but confront the greater issue that is plaguing so many people in South Carolina and the rest of America, and that is the fear that tomorrow they will lose their jobs and not be able to put food on their table and clothes on their kids' backs.

And for every person out there who is serving the food and driving the trucks and who's sitting in the front of the cabs and not the back seat. For the ones who are on the lines of the factories and climbing up and down the ladders, carrying paint buckets in their hands and hammers, we want to be a campaign that says there's room in the Republican Party for you and, in fact, the Republican Party is all about making sure that everybody in this country has the best kind of future.

And that message and that mission is far from over tonight, and that's why I don't want us to leave here saying, well, the game is ended. No, we've just finished one of the quarters of play. My dear friend Cleave McCleary (ph) who I love to quote on occasions like this is a South Carolinian. I love what he says. He says, "I've never lost at anything I've ever done. Sometimes the game ends before I get finished playing, but I've never lost at anything I've done." And, ladies and gentlemen, I want you to know we didn't lose tonight. Game ended a little early for us.

But I also want you to know this. The path to the White House is not ending here tonight. We're resetting the clock -- we're resetting all of the gauges. We have learned and tomorrow, after a little bit of sleep, we wake up to fight the battle yet again and yet again. And I still believe a year from now, all of you that have helped us get there will be in Washington for the inauguration of the 44th president of the United States. Thank you.


KING: An upbeat Mike Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas, speaking in Columbia to his supporters last night. Upbeat yet still disappointed. A second-place finish in South Carolina, not the win he was looking for to build on his first win, that surprise victory in Iowa. The challenges now many for Governor Huckabee. Today he is at the Chuck Norris Ranch in Texas, raising some money at a ranch event with Chuck Norris in Texas, raising some much-needed money for his campaign. And he will be in Florida to contest as the Republican race goes on.

Dana Bash joins us once again from Charleston, South Carolina. Dana, the Huckabee campaigned had hoped to match essentially its Evangelical base out in Iowa. A bit surprised, though, in the northwest part of the state because of what we might call the Fred factor, Fred Thompson running quite strong up in those areas.

BASH: He was. Definitely very strong. I mean, obviously not strong enough for Fred Thompson to make much of an impact on the race in terms of the big picture. But enough to take away from Mike Huckabee here in South Carolina.

You know, it's interesting, you watched him, you were out on the campaign trail with both, like I was, and to watch the way they both tried to appeal to the same kind of constituency. Fred Thompson was a lot more aggressive in going after Mike Huckabee, trying to make the case to Christian conservatives that really doesn't think that he is a conservative. Making the point that he thinks he is somebody who is liberal on foreign policy, is liberal on fiscal policy.

That seemed to have an impact when you looked at the GOP vote, particularly in, as you said, the key western counties where the cultural conservatives really do come out and are critical for any Republican to win here in the state of South Carolina.

So, you know, it was also interesting, John, you know, you heard Mike Huckabee over and over, he insisted, I am not just running an Evangelical kind of campaign. I am running a much more broad campaign. Which is true, he certainly talks as much about his populist economic issues as he does about his socially conservative issues.

But the reality is if you look where he went on the campaign trail here in South Carolina, who he talked to, the way he talked, he really was banking on mirroring the kind of victory that he had in Iowa by relying on coalitions of pastors, of home schoolers, of churchgoers that he got there. And it really didn't work for him. So the question now going into the states where you don't have this -- this key kind of natural base for Mike Huckabee is how he's going to fare, particularly in a state like Florida, where you have this intense, four-way race between Mike Huckabee, between Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, and, of course, John McCain.

KING: Dana Bash for us in Charleston, South Carolina. Dana will be with us throughout the afternoon as the Ballot Bowl continues. Other correspondents joining us as well. When the Ballot Bowl returns, the man who has bet just about everything on the state of Florida, Republican Rudy Giuliani, the former New York City mayor, he will be speaking here in live in New Port Richey. We'll bring that you to as part of our Ballot Bowl coverage.

Also ahead, Senator Hillary Clinton of New York. You see Rudy Giuliani there. Stay with us. We'll take a short break and we'll be back to hear from the mayor.


KING: Welcome back to the CNN Ballot Bowl. I'm John King live in New Port Richey, Florida. This part of our extended coverage of the presidential campaign, our chance to show you the candidates in their own words unfiltered, extended snippets in time with their speeches as they campaign across the country. Florida, the next big contest for the Republicans. John McCain winning in South Carolina last night.

The pressure is on for Rudy Giuliani here in the state of Florida, the state where he has said he would begin his campaign essentially after setbacks in the early states. He is speaking live right now in New Port Richey. Let's listen in.

RUDY GIULIANI (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: -- and grow an economy. Do you know why? Why I have that? Because I've done it. Because I've actually accomplished it.

The Democrats want to raise taxes. We all know that, right? Well, they got that big sign up there, it says change. You know the change they want to make? From -- they want to take the change from your pocket. You got it. They want to take the change from your pocket. They want to raise taxes. They promised to raise taxes. That's a promise I believe -- I trust they're going to keep that promise. I think they are going to keep the promise to raise taxes. Could be 20 percent, could be 30 percent. I think it would be a disaster for the growth of our economy.

It would put that lid on so that these young people couldn't dream the great dreams because a society that is too heavily taxed is a society that doesn't have a lot of growth.

But even compared to the Republicans, I have the boldest tax- reduction plan. And it's because it comes out of my experience. One of my opponents didn't support the Bush tax cuts in 2001-2003. I respect him. He is a really good man. He's a good friend of mine. We just have a disagreement on this issue. And I think it comes from the fact that he hasn't had the kind of experiences that I've had, running America's largest city, being involved with America's 17th largest economy, running its second or third largest government.

When you have that experience, when you have that executive experience, you have to make decisions and decisions have consequences. Let me tell you a little story, and it will explain why I feel so strongly about tax reduction and why some of my opponents maybe don't have that same fervor and that same understanding, because I supported the Bush tax cuts from the very beginning, and I supported them because I had done things like that in the past.

When I became mayor of New York City, there was this big, big deficit, and the economy was in terrible shape. And they handed me a plan, and the plan was to raise taxes. And do you know what I did? Exactly right. Say it again. I threw it in the garbage! That's exactly right. I threw it in the garbage. And I literally and figuratively and I did that because that was part of the whole cycle. That's what they'd been doing for 20 or 30 or 40 years. Need more revenues, raise taxes. Need more revenues, raise taxes. Need more revenues, raise taxes.

What I realized was that some taxes are anti-competitive. They actually cost you money. They cost you jobs. The whole idea of taxing too much in order to get revenues if you go beyond a certain point, it's counterproductive. You get less revenues. Back in the '80s, the federal government lifted the capital gains tax from 20 percent to 28 percent, the federal government lost $45 million. Lost money because it was priced too high.

So I cut taxes. I'll give you two examples. I cut the income tax rate by 24 percent. I was collecting 48 percent more revenues with a lower tax than with the higher tax. Why? How can you do that? Because more people were working. More people had jobs. More people had jobs to pay more money. We were growing the private sector. That's the engine of America, not the central government.

Our country is not great because of its central government. Sometimes people that are in Washington too long, sometimes people that are in state capitols too long, they think, they think, they think it's about the central government.

They can have the plan to straighten things out for you. Beware of central governments that have plans to straighten things out for you. You -- it works exactly the other way around. You have the plan. And the central government and the state governments and the government have to give you the field a fair, honest, and decent field in which to play out those plans. That's why tax reductions work. That's why I was able to reduce it by 24 percent and get 48 percent more revenue. That's why I was able to reduce the hotel occupancy tax by 33 percent and get $100 million more.

That's why the Bush tax cuts that I supported worked, to bring more revenues in. That's why if we cut taxes right now, the way I propose, we will revive this economy. Not every tax. You can't cut every tax and make money. You've got to cut the anti-competitive ones. Cut the corporate tax, 35 percent. Bring it down to 25 percent. We'll have more jobs in American. We'll have more Americans working.

I don't know where my opponents stand on this, but they should have to take a position on this. We should give the death penalty to the death tax. Now, I'm going to tell you why. That's a double tax. You pay taxes all your life, you die, and then the government takes away 55 percent of your estate from your family.

Now, the government is going to give us a break. I want you just to listen to this, because this may give you an indication why we need somebody in Washington that hasn't been breathing Washington air for too long.

But just see if this doesn't make the point. The inheritance tax, the death tax, is going to go down to 45 percent in 2009. In 2010, it's going to be zero. No death tax. In 2011, it's going to go back to 55 percent. Why? Why? Woo! Why? Just think -- just think of what -- of what -- just think of what Washington accomplished. They actually created a tax incentive to die in a particular year. We now have a target year.

KING: An energetic Rudy Giuliani making the case for lower taxes here in New Port Richey, Florida, all this part of CNN's Ballot Bowl, our chance to show you the candidates for president unfiltered and in their own words.

Some familiar faces over his shoulders, you might recognize the actor Jon Voight, Judy Nathan Giuliani also there and Louis Freeh also there, the former FBI director back in the Clinton administration. Like Giuliani, a former federal prosecutor.

Mayor Rudy Giuliani makes his case in Florida. We'll continue to keep an eye on that event as our Ballot Bowl continues. We're also standing by for Senator Hillary Clinton, Democrat for New York. She's at the Abyssinian Baptist Church in New York. An announcement planned. We'll bring you that live when it happens. We're continuing to watch many other events as the candidates for president travel across the country on this day. We thank you for sharing time with us. Stay with us. We'll be back in just a moment with the CNN Ballot Bowl.


KING: Welcome back to the CNN Ballot Bowl, our extended coverage of the presidential campaign. I'm John King in New Port Richey, Florida. We're watching Rudy Giuliani. He's campaigning here live this hour. Also waiting on Democratic Senator Hillary Clinton. She's up in her adopted home state of New York campaigning live. We'll get that to you a bit later.

Now, why are the candidates out campaigning? They want their party's presidential nomination. How they get it is to get to the magic number of delegates needed. That is why they try to win primary after primary and caucus after caucus.

Let's give you a quick update after these first early contests of who is leading in the delegate chase. On the Democratic side, the magic number is 2,025 delegates. That's what it takes to win the Democratic nomination. Senator Hillary Clinton has the early lead on the Democratic side with 210 delegates and super delegates so far. Barack Obama, the Democratic senator of Illinois next at 123. John Edwards the former South Carolina senator and vice presidential nominee as you see in third place with 52 there. Dennis Kucinich, the congressman from Ohio with one delegate. Mike Gravel, the former senator from Alaska, shut out so far with zero delegates. Senator Clinton in the lead on the Democratic side.

Let's look at the Republican scoreboard, 1,091 delegates needed to clinch the Republican nomination for president. The early leader, the former Massachusetts governor, Mitt Romney. He has 72 delegates so far. Those from his wins in Michigan and Wyoming and Nevada. John McCain has 28 delegates coming to him from New Hampshire and South Carolina. So far, 38 delegates, I'm sorry -- 29 for Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor who won the Iowa caucuses. Eight for the former Tennessee senator Fred Thompson, six for the Texas Congressman Ron Paul, excuse me and two delegates so far for the former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

Especially as the contest drag on, if there is no clear front runner who clinches early, that delegate math will become increasingly important in the days and weeks ahead. Keep your math, put that on your scorecard as we continue to rate the candidates. We'll have much more of our Ballot Bowl coverage coming up. Just ahead as I just mentioned, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani still speaking here live in New Port Richey, Florida, as he continues the bus tour across this state. We're waiting to hear from Senator Hillary Clinton as well. Please stay with us. You're watching the CNN Ballot Bowl.


KING: Welcome back to the CNN Ballot Bowl. I'm John King live in New Port Richey, Florida. Winding down our first hour of coverage today, but much more to come. Rudy Giuliani has just finished speaking here in New Port Richey, Florida, part of a bus tour by the former New York City mayor across the state where he has invested so much of his hopes of winning the Republican presidential nomination.

We'll continue to keep an eye on Mayor Giuliani, as you see him saying hello to supporters there. He's in the middle of that crowd shaking hands. Much more ahead too from the other candidates, Democratic Senator Hillary Clinton of New York campaigning in her adopted home state today. We'll have that live for you in our next hour of Ballot Bowl.

We'll also hear from the other Democratic candidate, former Senator John Edwards of North Carolina. And on the Republican side, senator -- former Senator Fred Thompson from Tennessee. Much more ahead in our CNN Ballot Bowl coverage. Please stay with us.


KING: Welcome back to the Ballot Bowl, I'm John King in New Port Richey, Florida. We do this so you can hear directly from the candidates for president. One of them speaking live right now in New York. Senator Hillary Clinton outside the Abyssinian Baptist Church, let's listen.

PASTOR CALVIN BUTTS, ABYSSINIAN BAPTIST CHURCH: To a place of domestic and international prosperity. After thoughtful deliberation, I am decidedly confident that Senator Hillary Clinton is the candidate best suited to be the Democratic presidential nominee and the next president of the United States.

I have personally had a positive working relationship with Senator Clinton for a number of years. In her current position as United States senator from New York, she has also been very supportive of Abyssinian Baptist Church's development work in Harlem. Thus, I have seen firsthand the wisdom, insight and concern she brings in her approach to community development, educational and development opportunities for youth, and economic revitalization, as well as tirelessly advocating for families, promoting health care reform, and fighting the global HIV/AIDS crisis.

I believe that we can benefit greatly from the value of Senator Clinton's 30-plus years of service to our country that have uniquely positioned her to be a formidable leader on issues including homeland and national security, human rights, and the restoration of our national image before an international audience. Her willingness to examine the issues and listen to the questions and concerns of everyday Americans is encouraging. Her proven ability to effectively work across both party and geographic boundaries toward solutions to our country's problems and needs substantially distinguishes her from other candidates.

I go on record as endorsing Senator Hillary Clinton for the 2008 presidential election.


BUTTS: As a nation, we cannot afford four more years of uninspired and uninspiring leadership. In our quest for change, it's time that we return to the fundamentals -- experience, ability, respect and character. It is really time for Senator Hillary Clinton.

Now, that ends my official statement, but before we open it up for questions from the media, beloved, I want to address a few calls that my office received today.

One such call came from a woman who said she had followed me for years and admired my efforts to help our community not just here, but across the nation, and that she had always supported me. And she continued with obvious and deep emotion.

She said that she couldn't understand why on earth as a black man in this country I had chosen to announce my support for a white woman. Well, beloved, I received several of those calls and I'm sure I will receive others. But I would like to make one thing very clear.

This was not and is not and will not become a race-based decision for me. And I hope that it has not and will not become a race-based decision for you either.

I respect Senator Obama. I applaud him. And I love him as my brother. But a vote for Hillary is not a vote against Barack Obama or any community, be it African-American, Latino, and others, for that matter. A vote for Hillary Clinton is a vote to elect someone who has proven through time to me and to this community and this country that she has the experience to make things happen and the vision to return us to a place of prosperity, while also leading us to a new place of positive change in our education system, our health care system, and our economy.

The problems we face as a nation right now are urgent, and this is no time for waiting or hoping for solutions. I'm standing here today because I genuinely believe that as president, Hillary Clinton will act boldly to find solutions that are real and lasting.

This is not a game. It's about real people's real lives, the obstacles we all face, whether it's the cost of health insurance or the lack of insurance, college tuition so that our children can have better lives, jobs, homes, foreclosures, the price of gas at the pump. And the list goes on. But these are all very real and very urgent concerns affecting people in Harlem, in New York, in South Carolina, in Georgia, in California, in Illinois, in Texas, and all across the nation.

So I stand before you today. I do so with confidence and belief in the 35 years that Senator Clinton has worked to serve others to solve problems, to lift all of us up together in a common purpose. And she is the only candidate that we know with confidence that can deliver results for America starting on day one.

That is why I'm here, and that is my decision. That's why my decision has solely been based on her experience and hard work. I have made an informed decision, not one based on news headlines, sound bites, excitement or emotion, but an informed decision based on firsthand knowledge of Senator Clinton's accomplishments and her record on issues that are important to me and to the community in which we live.

And now, I am convinced that she will be the next president of our nation. I am convinced that she knows what she's doing and, to my certain knowledge, she has worked to make New York and the rest of this nation a better place in which all of us can live. And I believe that in the spirit of Dr. King.

And so I introduce to you the woman that I believe will be the next president of the United States, Senator Hillary Clinton.

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am deeply gratified by Reverend Dr. Butts' confidence in me. It really means a great deal because he is a person who has understood that we must move forward together. We face big challenges.

In his ministry and his witness he has brought people together. He has set an example not only through the church, but through the Abyssinian Development Corporation, the Abyssinian Health Ministry, and so many of the other services and missions of this historic church.

I am also very pleased to be joined here today by a number of my colleagues. I want to thank my friends and fellow colleagues in Congress -- Congressman Jerry Nadler, Congressman Jose Serrano.

I want to thank my colleagues in state government, Lieutenant Governor David Paterson, Senate Minority Leader Malcolm Smith. I also want to thank the 100 black men with whom I have worked to establish an all-men's high school, The Eagle Academy, in the Bronx, a school for young men of color, because we're going to do everything we can to make sure that these young men have a chance to live up to their God- given potential.

And I thank everyone who has given me support. And your continuing prayers and friendship mean a great deal to me. I don't think that any of us could have ever expected, although many of us would certainly pray for the day, when we had a choice like the one we have in the Democratic nominating process. I have the highest regard and admiration for my friend and colleague, Senator Barack Obama. He is an extraordinary human being with enormous gifts and many contributions to our country and to the world. I am honored to be running with him.

I hope that this election remains focused on the big challenges that confront us. As Dr. Butts said, we have a lot of tough decisions ahead of America.

I run with not only my 35 years of experience, but my commitment to bring your voices, the voices of Harlem, the voices of New York City, and the voices of New York and America, to the White House with me. We will begin to work immediately on day one to address all of the opportunities as well as challenges that await.

This day means a lot to me personally. I thank Reverend Dr. Butts and my friends and supporters and invite all of you to be part of my campaign.

There is an opportunity for involvement and participation. You don't know how, go to and sign up to be part of what we're putting together, because we're going to take our campaign across America, and you are going to be invited to be a part of not only the election, but of what happens afterwards.

I think it was Winston Churchill who said the difference between a politician and a statesman -- I'm sure today he would say statesperson -- is that a politician looks at the next election. A statesperson looks at the next generation.

This election is about the future, and it's particularly about the future of the young people growing up right here in this community. And I want to do everything I can to be a champion for the American people.

Thank you all very, very much.

Now, we would be glad to take a couple of questions, but I know everybody is freezing.

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: You have been listening to Senator Hillary Clinton outside the Abyssinian Baptist Church in New York picking up an African-American clergy endorsement critical as the campaign moves on to South Carolina and other states where African- Americans increasingly will have their voice heard in the Democratic primary presidential process.

Senator Clinton speaking there now in New York. We'll continue to listen in on that as our Ballot Bowl coverage continues.

So much more to come. The former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, you will also hear from him in the hour ahead, other candidates for president, as the campaign moves on from the early contests into Florida for the Republicans, South Carolina for the Democrats. Super Tuesday just around the corner.

Stay with us. We'll continue to watch Senator Clinton, the other events across the country today. You'll hear from some of our correspondents as well when the CNN Ballot Bowl continues.


KING: Welcome back to CNN Ballot Bowl. I'm John King in New Port Richey, Florida.

Thanks for sharing some of your Sunday with us as we again give you the candidates in their own words, unfiltered access to the candidates for president, Democrat and Republican, as the campaign moves on from the early contests in Iowa and New Hampshire, into the much more competitive battle grounds here in the South. Florida is coming up for the Republicans in 10 days. The Democratic contest now moving on to South Carolina.

We can show you a live picture of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton outside a Baptist church in New York City, where she has just picked up a black clergy endorsement. That pictured, I'm told, we have lost, but we will continue to track Senator Clinton's event there.

The candidates for president out campaigning, although some are resting on this Sunday. Florida, as we noted, the next big contest for the Republicans, and one of the challengers here is the former Massachusetts governor, Mitt Romney.

He had invested heavily in Iowa, heavily in New Hampshire, and heavily in South Carolina. No wins though in those three big states, although Governor Romney can claim victories, or gold medals, as he likes to call them, in Michigan, in his birth state of Michigan, also the caucuses in Wyoming, and most recently yesterday in Nevada.

Mitt Romney the big winner among Republicans in the Nevada caucuses. He came immediately from Nevada to here in Florida. Again, that is the next big contest for the Republicans, and Governor Romney discussing his Nevada win and the challenges ahead yesterday in Jacksonville.


MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We also strengthen the American people by making sure we're safe in our homes and in our jobs, and that means we have to have a strong military to protect us. And I...


During the Clinton years, there was this -- well, Charles Krauthammer called it a holiday from history that some took, where we thought that somehow there was no more evil in the world. And Bill Clinton reduced the size of our military armed forces by a half a million men and women, and he cut back 80 ships out of the Navy. Our Air Force was cut by about a quarter, and it's time for us to add back at least 100,000 troops, better equipment for our troops, and better care for our veterans when they come home.


And by the way, when we're talking about our military and the strength of our military, let's not -- let's not forget that a lot of people out there are very critical of the president, and are -- and point out the failings and the mistakes that were made in Iraq, but don't forget this -- this president has kept us safe these last six years.


Now, let me -- let me mention one more thing to you. I said strengthen our homes and families and strengthen our military, and I want to mention another -- strengthen our economy. See, there are some people that think that our homes and values and military, that's fine, but the economy, that's just about money. But you know, if you want to have strong homes, you want to have good jobs for yourself and for your kids, and be able to care for your kids, and if you want to have a strong military, you have got to have a strong economy.

You can't have a first-tier military able to protect this country and have it run based on a second tier and weak economy. And so you have got to have a strong and vibrant economy.

Now, I've spent my life in the private sector working with companies to try to find out how jobs come and how they go. I have done business around the world, 20 different countries I've worked in, and negotiated in some cases in some of those countries. And I understand what it takes to grow and strengthen an economy. And it's a very different playbook than you'll see if you listen to Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

I think it's interesting that a number of people running for president, including those two, want to run the largest economy in the world and the largest government in the world but they have never had a job in the private sector. They have no idea how it works.


And I'll use that experience to make sure that the agreements we enter into with other countries are fair for us, not just fair for them. I want trade around the world, but I want it on a level playing field. I want to make sure our taxes are low and we get the taxes down in the places that create the greatest growth for us.

I want to make sure, by the way, that legal immigration works for us. Legal immigration is terrific for this country.

We bring people in that have skill and experience and education, and enhance the American experience. But illegal immigration, that's a drag and that's got to stop, and I'll do it.


AUDIENCE: Mitt! Mitt! Mitt! Mitt! Mitt! ROMNEY: Thanks, you guys. Thank you.

And by the way, if there's any one thing that points to the victory that we had in Michigan earlier this week, it was that particular issue of the economy and how to strengthen our economy, because I stood up and I said, look, I'm not going let any job leave this country without fighting for. Every industry that has got future I'm going to fight for.

I don't want to say goodbye to any industry. I don't want to say goodbye to any state. I'm no pessimist. I'm going to be optimistic.

Washington-style pessimism is not for me. I'm going to fight for great jobs for America and do everything in my power to strengthen our economy so our kids have great jobs, so we have great homes and are able to care for our kids, and we have a great future.

Now, I want you to know that I'm optimistic about our future. You see, I'm convinced that Washington is not broken forever. It's not irreparable.

We can fix the way Washington works and we can finally go through that to-do list and make a real difference for our kids and for their kids. And that comes out of my sense of optimism about the American spirit.


KING: The former Massachusetts governor, Mitt Romney, Republican candidate for president, speaking in Jacksonville, Florida. He's now among the Republicans campaigning here. Ten days until the Florida Republican primary for president.

A key contest for Governor Romney after investing heavily in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. No wins there, but he is leading in the delegate race among the Republicans because of his victories in his birth state of Michigan, the Wyoming caucuses, and yesterday in Nevada.

Dana Bash rejoins us now from Charleston, South Carolina.

Dana, you heard the governor there talking about the economy. That is the message he used in Michigan, and it is increasingly the number one issue in the campaign.

Should we anticipate that that will be Governor Romney's focus as the campaign shifts here to Florida?

DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Big time. You know, you talk to anybody in his campaign -- you know this, John -- and they say they've finally found a message that he is comfortable with, they've finally found a message that seems to be working for him. So there is no question that they are going to stick with this.

The combination of the fact that he says he's somebody who has been in business, he's somebody who gets how to fix an economy -- you just heard him -- or economic issues, I should say. You heard him talking about that there. And somebody who is outside Washington.

"Washington is broken' is the banner that is always behind him, or at least has been since he's been in the state of Michigan, and it's going to continue to be that kind of "outside Washington," "I'm your fix it guy" message from him.

Now, they also, in the Mitt Romney campaign, John, say that they are not going to lose for lack of spending any money. That shouldn't be a surprise to anybody who has been following the Romney campaign and how much money he has spent in all of the early primary contests. Some places like Iowa and like New Hampshire, he outspent all of his opponents by enormous amounts, by millions and millions.

It didn't work for him. But Florida is a state where money is going to matter because you have so many different media markets, you have so many different constituencies that you're going to have to reach, that Mitt Romney has the money and he is going to be willing to spend the money on television. He's already up with a couple of million dollars in TV buys, and he is, we're told, basically finding as many venues for advertising on television as he possibly can to continue this "Washington is broken" kind of message that he's got going now and he's not going to stop -- John.

KING: And Dana, do we expect that we will see him go back to more of the slashing criticism that we saw in the early states, where he had the advertising and the mailers criticizing specifically Senator John McCain on the immigration issue, or have they settled on the Romney camp on, as you were just noting, staying exclusively focused or at least mostly focused on the economy issue, where he talks about Washington pessimism, you don't need the people who have been in Washington for so long just changing chairs? Clearly critical of Senator McCain there, but in a less sharp way, you might say, than he was on the immigration issue previously in Iowa and South Carolina specifically.

BASH: Right. I mean, you're right, he was very sharp and very personal and very direct with his criticism of his opponents.

In Iowa, his chief opponent was Mike Huckabee. In New Hampshire, it, of course, was John McCain.

He spent a lot of money. That money that we were talking about that he spent was directed at them.

What we're told is right now, what you expect is him to try to make a contrast with particularly John McCain, somebody who has been in the Senate for so long, somebody who is, by nature of that, a creature of Washington, talking about the fact that we're told that he's going say this is about the next 20 years, not the past 20 years. But it's going -- it's unclear whether or not he is going to be really specific and directed at John McCain, or perhaps make his message a bit more subtle.

It seems as though what they learned from the early contests where he tried that and it didn't work, is that perhaps he's going to, you know, make his message a little bit more subtle and try to get off the idea of being accused of negative attacks. But you know what? We still have 10 days, and depending on how that works for him, depending on how the polls show that things are going there, that could change in a snap.

KING: Change. Funny you used the word "change". We're hearing a lot of the word "change" in this campaign.

Dana Bash joins us in Charleston, South Carolina. She will make her way here to Florida soon.

Dana, thank you.

And she'll be back with us as the Ballot Bowl continues. And when it does continue, we'll dip back into the Democratic race for president. One of the candidates very well known, the vice presidential nominee just four years ago, struggling though this time around. The former senator John Edwards, you'll hear from him when CNN's Ballot Bowl continues.

Stay with us.


KING: Welcome back to the CNN Ballot Bowl." I'm John King, live in New Port Richey, Florida.

Thanks for spending some of your Sunday afternoon with us as we present to you and give you a chance to see unfiltered the candidates for president, Democrat and Republican. An opportunity for us and for you to go beyond the sound bites, listen to the candidates talk at length about the issues, whether it be the war in Iraq, health care.

Increasingly, the economy a big issue in the campaign. And increasingly, the pressure on those who are not winning in the early contest.

On the Democratic side, that would mean the former senator from North Carolina, John Edwards. Remember, he was a candidate for president and then vice presidential nominee on the Democratic side back in 2004. Largely overshadowed both in terms of media attention at times, and certainly in the early votes so far by senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

John Edwards though says he will fight and stay in this race as the campaign goes on. He was campaigning yesterday in Atlanta, Georgia. Let's listen.


JOHN EDWARDS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: ... actually restore America's ability to lead in the world again. See? And where America is once again the light. Where we're the example of what's possible. Where the rest of the world looks to the United States of America and says, America, that's who we want to be like.

There's so much work to do beyond ending the war. And the war needs to be ended, but we have got to reverse the damage and America has got to be a force for good in the world again.


And people, at the core of this campaign, our campaign, our movement, is a fight for the middle class, a fight for low-income families to give them a real chance to get into the middle class, a fight against these entrenched money interests that are blocking what needs to be done. But I tell you, sometimes people say to me, this fight feels personal to you.

It is very personal to me. Just as it is for many of you.

Nobody has to explain this to me. I watched my grandmother, who helped raise me -- a wonderful, wonderful woman. She had a fifth/sixth grade education, came from a family of sharecroppers.

Used to take care of me, leave the house, go work her shift in the mill, come back home and take care of us again. My parents in many ways -- she would have done anything for me.

My parents in many ways did exactly the same thing. My father worked in the mill for 36 years. He went into that mill day after day after day, all so that I would have a chance.

Your parents, your grandparents, did exactly the same thing. They worked. They struggled. They sacrificed. All so that the promise of America could be available to you, to your children, and your grandchildren.

And I look at America today and this is what I see. I see a country where last year Exxon Mobil made $40 billion. In one year, $40 billion. Record profit.

Where the CEO of one of the largest health insurance companies in America made $200 million in one year -- $200 million. And then you take that picture of America and you put it side by side with this picture -- tonight, 47 million of our own people will go to bed knowing that if their child gets sick, they're going to have to go to the emergency room and beg for health care.

Women tomorrow will be in the shower and will examine -- do a self-examination. And just like my wife, Elizabeth, will wind a lump and figure out that they have breast cancer. But some of these women unlike Elizabeth will have no health care coverage.

Where are they supposed to go? You can't get chemotherapy in the emergency room. What are they supposed to do while the CEO of a health insurance company makes $200 million?

Tomorrow -- tomorrow -- and this is one of the great legacies of Dr. King -- tomorrow, 37 million people will wake up literally worried about feeding and clothing their children in America, living in poverty in the richest nation on the planet. I was in a shelter a few weeks ago. It was amazing place.

They took in single moms with their kids who had no place to live, and -- an extraordinary place, extraordinary people there. But I asked. I said, "Do you ever have to turn people away?" And they said, actually, a few months ago they turned 75 families away in one month.

And I said, "Were these mothers?" Yes. With children, some of them as many as three or four children.

I said, "So when you send them away, where do they go?" Back to the street. Back to cars. Children living on the street and in cars in America while Exxon Mobil makes $40 billion.

Last year, 35 million people in this country, which is roughly the population of California, went hungry in the richest nation on the planet. Thirty-five million going hungry. Tonight, 200,000 men and women who wore our uniform and served this country patriotically, veterans, will go to sleep under bridges and on grates.

Enough is enough. We're better than this. It is time for us to stand up.

It is time for us to speak out. It is time for us to rise up and say we want our democracy back. We want the promise of America available to all our children.

And I'll say this to you. I'll say this to you. I said it earlier, and I'll say it again. You k now, this is an underdog movement campaign. It is.

I'm not the $100 million candidate. We have got two of those. I am not the candidate of glitz and glitter. And we need you as part of this movement, because the power of conscience and ideas is overwhelming.

We have an extraordinary opportunity to change this country. We do. But you've got to believe. You've got to believe in this struggle. You've got to believe in this movement. Because if you believe, you can join me in creating a title wave of change that sweeps across this country with a force of power that literally cannot be stopped.

And when that tidal wave of change is over, here's what all of us will be able to do. We're going to be able to look our children and our grandchildren in the eye and say we did for you exactly what our parents and grandparents did for us. We made certain that we left America better than we found it, and we gave you a better life than we had.

God bless you all. Thank you for being here. Join us in this movement of change. We need you every step of the way.

Thank you.


KING: Senator John Edwards, the former senator from North Carolina, campaigning yesterday there in Atlanta, Georgia. The next big challenge for Senator Edwards, who has been struggling in the early contests, is in the state where he was born, South Carolina.

Now, as we continue our Ballot Bowl coverage, you get to see the candidates at length. You know many of our correspondents, they are familiar faces to you. But one of the reasons we believe we have by far the best political team in television is because not only of those correspondents, but also many of the people that help us behind the scenes.

Joining us now on the telephone is one of our finest. Producer Peter Hamby has been camped out in South Carolina developing sources in both the Democratic and the Republican campaigns.

And Peter, as the campaign goes on, John Edwards has struggled in the early states. South Carolina was a state where he won back in 2004, the state where he was born. Enormous pressure on Senator Edwards to deliver, is there not?

PETER HAMBY, CNN PRODUCER: Yes, absolutely, John. Enormous pressure.

I talked to Jim Clyburn several months ago. He's the congressman from South Carolina who's a prominent voice here. And he said it was a case of bad timing. And it might be for him.

There's a lot of the state's establishment that were behind John Edwards in 2004 when he won the state's primary that are not with him this time because they see a real opportunity for change with Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. So he does have a lot of support here among community leaders, very strong support, but when you look at the poll numbers, when you talk to people on the streets, they're going to turn out for Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama it looks like at this point.

KING: And it's interesting to watch. We were at a live event earlier in New York City. Senator Hillary Clinton basking in the endorsement of an African-American clergy member.

She's obviously trying to make the case that, to African- Americans in South Carolina, sure you are excited by the prospect of a credible African-American candidate for president, but look at my record. Do not overlook my support in the African-American community.

Tell us, Peter, your observations on how that battle is playing out, the subset within the Democrat contest that is so critical in South Carolina, because perhaps as much as half of the Democratic electorate could be African-American.

HAMBY: Yes, that's right. And the way this is playing out, it's not so much about race. It's almost about face.

And you see the candidates and their campaigns work the churches. You saw that pretty clear. You just mentioned endorsed Hillary today.

I went to a church here in Columbia this morning, Brooklyn Baptist Church, which is in west Columbia, and right when we got there we saw Vernon Jordan, a former Clinton adviser, slip out of the church. Chelsea Clinton was at a another church in Columbia today. Michelle Obama was at another church in Columbia today. So, the Obama campaign, actually, especially has been sort of publicly working those faith communities to tap into black support in the state.

You saw sort of controversial gospel concerts last fall here, but the Obama campaign sees a real opportunity to tap in to use his faith and tap into the black voters in the state. But the Clinton campaign is doing it as well.

KING: Peter Hamby in Columbia, South Carolina, helping us with our coverage, as we now watch the Democratic campaign in South Carolina.

The Republican primary held yesterday. John McCain the winner there as the Republican race moves on here to Florida. The Democrats move on to South Carolina.

As our Ballot Bowl coverage continues throughout the day, you just saw Senator Edwards there on tape from Atlanta, Georgia. You'll see him live in the 4:00 hour of the Ballot Bowl right here on CNN.

Much more of our coverage to come. The candidates in their own words, unfiltered, talking about all of the issues.

We thank you for joining us this Sunday afternoon and we hope you will stay with us as the Ballot Bowl continues.


KING: Welcome back to the CNN Ballot Bowl. I'm John King in New Port Richey, Florida. Here in the state of Florida, because it is here where the Republican candidate for president has moved after the South Carolina Republican primary last night.

Among the big disappointments on the Republican side, the former Tennessee senator, Fred Thompson. He skipped New Hampshire, largely skipped Iowa in the end as well, going home to his native South, in South Carolina. Many of his aides described it as going Custer, describing it as his last stand.

And Senator Thompson and his aides were saying he needed to win or place a very strong second. Instead, he finished a distant third.

Still, Senator Thompson did not seem optimistic when he spoke to supporters last night, but he gave no indication at all as to whether he will stay in the race, or make the very difficult decision to bow out as he continues his deliberations.

Let's listen in. This is Senator Thompson speaking to supporters last night.


FRED THOMPSON (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My friends, we will -- we will always be bound by a close bond because we have traveled a very special road together for a very special purpose. You know, it's never been about me. It's never even been about you. It's been about our country and the future of our country.


About our country, about the future of our country, and about our party's role in that future. And because of your efforts and because of our working together, our party is being required to look at itself in the mirror and decide where it's going, decide who it is.

Our country needs strong leadership. It needs our party to step up, assume the battle of leadership again. But we need to remember that we need to deserve to lead, and that's what all of this is about, is deserving to lead.


As you know, we like to talk a whole lot about our country. We have been blessed in so many different ways.

We live, by any measure, in the greatest country in the history of the world, and it's every generation's obligation to do its part to make sure it stays that way. And in order to do that, we need to have a firm understanding of how it got that way. And my friends, it got that way because of strong, consistent, conservative beliefs that founded this country.


These are the beliefs that formed the principles, that formed the underpinnings of this country from the very beginning. Our founding fathers had it right, right off the bat. They understood the wisdom of the ages. They understood that there's a certain thing called human nature -- both the good side and the not so good side sometimes.

They understood that in this old changing world there are some eternal truths. And they stated them in the documents right from the very beginning. They reminded us in the Declaration of Independence that our basic rights come not from any government but from God.


They set forth in the Constitution in the United States the way we were going to separate power out in this country both at the Washington level and throughout the country. A little system called federalism.

Not many people talk about it much, but it just kind of underpins everything else we do, because our founders understood that a government big enough and powerful enough, centralized enough, is big enough and powerful enough to take anything away from you. And we're not going to go down that direction in this country, and we never have.

We've understood, as they understood, the dangers of having too much power in too few hands. And this is the foundation on which we're built. This is the reason we're here tonight -- free people in a free country. These are institutions on which we built a country, and what a country it has turned out to be. This is what it's all about, keeping it that way and doing our part, stepping up to the plate, stepping up for service, stepping up to try to do the right thing, even when the right thing is not easy, institutions such as the rule of law.

There weren't any democracies around when we started out on our little experiment in this world. Most people are governed by democracies now. Now the rule of law is the norm, which everyone wants to emulate, especially on the propositions that judges will follow the law and the Constitution and not make it up as they go along.


Based upon the value of a market economy and free people doing free things in a free society, unafraid to trade with their neighbors. Based upon the notion that we don't tax and regulate our people to death. Based upon the notion that we don't spend money that we don't have and we sure don't borrow against our grandchildren's future.


KING: That's former Tennessee senator Fred Thompson speaking to supporters last night in Columbia, South Carolina.

Senator Thompson gave no hint as to his future plans in the Republican race for president. He did not -- clearly did not meet the bar he had set for himself in South Carolina, which was a victory. Or aides in the latter days of the campaign said perhaps a close competitive second.

Senator Thompson, we are told, will deliberate over the next several days whether to continue with his campaign. We should add this as well -- we are told those deliberations could be delayed somewhat because Senator Thompson has gone home to be with his ailing mother. So our thoughts and our prayers are certainly with Senator Thompson as he deals with his family issues.

As for the future of his campaign, we're joined again by Dana Bash in Charleston, South Carolina.

Dana, Senator Thompson had set that bar for himself and he clearly did not meet it. In that speech last night, there was quite a bit of past tense. The expectation is that this campaign will not go on much longer, but he certainly did have an impact in South Carolina.

BASH: He had a big impact in South Carolina. The fact that he seemed to, at least in those key counties in the western part of this state, where cultural conservatives really do matter, matter a lot in terms of the electorate, he took a lot of the vote, about 20 percent or so of the vote, away from Mike Huckabee. And that, in those particular areas, seemed to help John McCain.

So, you know, Fred Thompson, perhaps in a little bit of foreshadowing of what may be to come if he, in fact, does drop out of the race, the way he campaigned in South Carolina may be telling. And that is, he went after Mike Huckabee, went after Mike Huckabee as somebody who may be a social conservative but is somebody who is not that way or not ready for prime time in terms of foreign policy. He says he is not somebody who is ready to lead in terms of a Republican primary situation in terms of fiscal issues.

So, that -- Mike Huckabee was Fred Thompson's target. Not so much John McCain.

He focused a little bit on John McCain's immigration record, the fact that he supports -- or he did support legislation to allow a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants. But for the most part, it seemed as though Fred Thompson was setting himself up to perhaps down the road support John McCain.

Fred Thompson and John McCain were very, very close, and still are close. They were close from their days in the Senate.

You talk to people on the McCain campaign, they say that Senator McCain has not talked to Fred Thompson at all about this. As you can imagine, they want to let Fred Thompson do his thing, let him deliberate, let him figure out what he's going to do over the next couple of days. But they certainly are hoping that if Fred Thompson does drops out of the race, that he will throw his support behind John McCain.

KING: And Dana, let's go to the bigger question that I think many are asking, especially after all of the hype, all the anticipation over the summer months. Many said Senator Thompson, with all his communication skills, all his work not only in Washington, but in the movies and in the TV business, would be the great communicator, perhaps the next coming of Ronald Reagan. There was all this hype and anticipation.

And the question is, what happened?

BASH: You know, it's interesting. I asked him that question. I know you spent some time with him.

I was with him in Iowa when he started his 50-city bus tour. At that point he was hoping for a comeback.

I asked him that question. He had an interesting answer. He said, you know, the reason why I think that people really didn't get where I was coming from is because they expected Fred Thompson the actor.

They expected me to be scripted. They expected me to be kind of on. And that's not necessarily me.

That was, you know, part of the reason why he saw that he essentially didn't catch fire. There are a lot of other reasons if you talk to people who really did (ph) want to support Fred Thompson.

They simply didn't think that he really wanted it. They didn't think that he was somebody who was in it to win it, to borrow a phrase from Hillary Clinton. But they really didn't really see the fire in the belly. So, that was a big part of Fred Thompson's problem.

The other part of the problem that he had was Mike Huckabee, the man he was going after here in South Carolina. While he was waiting, while he was sort of testing the waters and trying to figure out whether he should get in, Mike Huckabee, under the radar, was really planting the seeds in that Christian conservative community in Iowa and, of course, here in South Carolina.

So, by the time Fred Thompson came in, people in those communities at the grassroots level, they actually knew Mike Huckabee and they said, you know, we like him. And perhaps we don't need somebody like Fred Thompson in terms of the person we're looking for in a Republican nominee, and that is somebody with true Christian conservative values -- John.

KING: Dana Bash for us in Charleston, South Carolina.

Dana will be with us as the Ballot Bowl continues.

Much more to come as we give you the candidates in their own words, unfiltered. The Democrats and the Republicans making their case for why they should be the next president of the United States.

We're going to take a quick break. And on the other side, today's other headlines.

Stay with us. You're watching the CNN Ballot Bowl.



KING: I'm John King, live in New Port Richey, Florida.

Much more ahead as our Ballot Bowl continues in the 4:00 hour. We'll hear live from the Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards.

We'll also check in with the Republican hopeful Mike Huckabee. He's raising money in Texas today, along with his friend and supporter, Chuck Norris, who made remarks a short time ago, sure to be controversial. Chuck Norris saying that, in his view, John McCain, the current leader in the Republican race, is too old to be president.

That and much more ahead, again, when the Ballot Bowl continues. Two more hours of the presidential candidates in their own words. That in the 4:00 hour.

Up next, though, here on CNN, "YOUR MONEY," which takes a special look this week at the impact of the struggling economy and the race for president.

I'm John King. Please join me again in an hour and stay tuned for "YOUR MONEY."