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CNN NEWSROOM

Voters Head to Polls for Super Tuesday; Candidates Propose Health-Care Plans

Aired February 5, 2008 - 13:00   ET

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


BROWN: And as always, the best political team on television will be here today, tonight, tomorrow, for the latest on this very important day.
Let's turn things over now to Kyra Phillips and Don Lemon in Atlanta.

KYRA PHILLIPS, CO-HOST: Campbell, thanks so much. CNN NEWSROOM coverage of Super Tuesday starts right now.

I'm Kyra Phillips at CNN world headquarters here in Atlanta.

DON LEMON, CO-HOST: And Kyra, I am Don Lemon at a place I'm sure you're very familiar with and a lot of our viewers in the south are familiar with, the Varsity. It is an Atlanta institution.

It is lunch time in the east, lunch time in the Midwest, but out west it's breakfast time so we came to a theater here, and we are gauging the pulse of the voters on this Super Tuesday.

PHILLIPS: All right. We'll be checking in with you, Don.

And you know it from watching: CNN has got the best political team on television. And we've got reporters fanned out from coast to coast on this Super Tuesday. They're at polling stations, campaign headquarters, talking with voters. You're going to stay with us all through the day and through the night on the biggest day yet in the 2008 campaign. That is the reason it's called Super Tuesday.

For the Democrats, 1,681 delegates are at stake. For the Republicans, 1,020. To win the nomination, the Democrat needs 2,025 delegates; and for Republicans, the magic number is 1,191.

The race for the White House is the talk of the lunch-time crowd at one of Atlanta's landmarks. That's exactly where Don said he was, the Varsity drive-in near the Georgia Tech campus.

Don, what are they saying besides you might have indigestion?

LEMON: Kyra, you know, and I got something for you. It's going to be a little bit, you know, by the time we get back. Got a little hot dog for you and some fries. I didn't eat all morning. I was rushing to get here. And I also got, you know, something to drink here. Been rushing all morning.

But you know, seriously, we have been talking to folks in line here and people sitting down. Did they vote, are they going to vote, what are issues they're talking about?

Here in Georgia, they're talking about this new I.D. voting system -- voter I.D. system that just went into effect in September. We're going to tell you all about that, what you're going to need when you get there.

You're going to need this. This is an I.D. But you need a government-issued I.D. Also, you're going to need your voter registration card if you don't have a government-issued I.D. And then a photo I.D.

And then once you do that, once you get there -- this is my little work station here, along with my lunch -- you're going to need this. They'll give you this, "I am a Georgia voter," right on a peach.

It's really heating up here between the Republicans. Who knows what's going to happen? Usually, Georgia goes on the Republican side, but it's really heating up among Democrats, even though Barack Obama, in Georgia, people are saying that he's in the lead, some polls show, by 20 points.

But this was what was on my door last night, Kyra, when I got home. I said, "Oh, I got a visit today from Barack Obama." Just on the door. You know, just like in the hotel room when they -- when they tell you disturb or not disturb. Anyway, and it gives you all the information about voting, where you go.

So we're going to talk to some of these people. Very big place to eat here. Huge, gimongous [sic]! We're going to talk to some of these people, coming up in the CNN NEWSROOM.

PHILLIPS: All right, Don. Sounds good. We'll be checking in.

And Hillary Clinton is spending this Super Tuesday on her home turf. Our senior political correspondent, Candy Crowley, covering the Clinton campaign in New York.

Candy, there's a lot at stake today for Senator Clinton.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. There is a lot at stake, frankly, for both of them here. I can tell you that Camp Clinton, at this point, is saying, "Well, we think we'll kind of come out and maybe go into March, even April." They think that it will be even, that New York, where she represents, to Illinois that he represents, they may balance each other out and that, in the swing states, because Democrats give proportional delegates out according to district, that they will probably split it.

So this may not be a definitive vote, at least the way Hillary Clinton is adding it up at this point.

They do what they always do on these election days. She was out and about early doing the round of morning talk shows. If you remember, almost half of the 50 states are involved today. So the best way to reach them is go out on the national TV shows. Then she went voting with her husband and Chelsea in tow and pronounced herself feeling pretty good about the whole thing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I -- I feel very, very good about the campaign. I've got a lot of people working hard for me across the country. The issue now is who will come out to vote. And I think if people ask themselves who they think will be the best president, and Democrats ask who they think would be the best candidate to win in November, I'm very comfortable with the answers to those questions.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: Although I have to tell you, Kyra, I have yet to meet a presidential candidate or a candidate of any kind that doesn't say they feel good on election day.

PHILLIPS: I know. They have to say that. Right, Candy?

CROWLEY: Absolutely. I sort of wait for the one saying, "You know what? I think I'm going to lose this one."

PHILLIPS: Yes, exactly. "I'm going to lose. I'm having a very bad day. No one's voting for me. Life is just down in the dumps."

All right, Candy. We'll be talking again. Appreciate it.

CROWLEY: OK, thanks.

PHILLIPS: Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are locked in a bruising battle for the biggest prize of all on this Super Tuesday: California. It's a whopping 370 Democratic delegates at stake.

CNN's Jessica Yellin joins us now from a polling place in Fullerton, California, with more on the Obama campaign.

Hey, Jessica.

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Kyra.

You know, what's been happening here in California is a microcosm of what we've seen in the Obama campaign nationwide. This state for the longest time was real Clinton country. Even a few weeks ago, Senator Hillary Clinton had a healthy lead here.

But Obama has narrowed that lead so significantly that they're locked in a dead heat. And it's incredibly impressive the amount of energy and attention both candidates have been devoting to California.

Barack Obama using this terrain to promote his message -- to new voters, to disaffected Democrats, to independents -- that he's the kind of leader they can believe in and that he would pose the starkest contrast to the Republicans. One of the themes we've been hearing a lot recently is that he's the guy who can really make a change in Washington if it's a fight against John McCain or a fight against George Bush's policies. Let's hear what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Listen, I may be skinny, but I'm tough. And I'm from Chicago, and we know how to play politics. But what -- but what I also know is if you know what you stand for, if you know what you believe in, then you can afford to reach out across the aisle.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

YELLIN: So he's saying he's ready for the fight.

One big unknown: how will absentee voters factor into this state? Here in California, as many as 50 percent of all votes might already be in by absentee ballot. Most of them, based on past history, would be women and people who voted right when Hillary Clinton had that surge in New Hampshire. So all of that could help her. We're just going to have to see how it plays out today -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: All right. We'll be watching and talking more. Jessica Yellin, thanks so much.

And John McCain is logging some major miles today. Morning in New York, afternoon in California, back home tonight in Arizona. Dana Bash joins us now from Phoenix, where the GOP frontrunner hopes to be celebrating -- Dana.

DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He hopes to be celebrating here, but in an indication of the fact that they are a bit concerned, in fat, John McCain himself admitted that he's concerned about the biggest state in tonight's -- in today's voting, that's California.

He is making his way to California as we speak for one last day and one last moment of campaigning with voters there, because, you know, as much as they have been focusing on the northeast in the McCain campaign, on New York and New Jersey, those contests that have winner-take-all primaries, they are -- they do realize that California matters big-time.

But as you said, John McCain did start his day in New York. And he made pretty clear that that is one of the states he hopes will help him on his way to the nomination.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thanks to these people behind you. Thanks to a hard campaign. Thanks to the ups and downs, but thanks for our steadfastness and all the friends and supporters we have, we're going to win New York today and we're going to win New York in the general election, and I'm going to carry the state of New York. And we're going to campaign, and we're going to campaign all over this magnificent state. And we're not going to give it up to anybody.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: Now what John McCain is trying to do there by saying we're going to win New York in the general election is sort of a subtle message, trying to make the case that he is the kind of Republican who can reach out to independents, perhaps win a state like New York, which has not been won by a Republican in a very long time.

That, Kyra, as he is absolutely getting pounded still by his chief rival in this race, Mitt Romney, who says that John McCain simply is not conservative enough to be the GOP nomination.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You're sitting here, going to have the first voice in the battle of the heart and soul of the Republican Party. And I'm going to ask you some questions here, because you're going to have a choice as to whether you're going to select a conservative, myself, to lead the party, somebody who will stay in the house that Ronald Reagan built. or whether we're going to take a left turn as a party.

And I'll just ask you these questions. Do you want to have as your nominee a person who voted against drilling in ANWR? Do you want a person as your nominee, someone who voted against the Bush tax cuts?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No!

ROMNEY: Do you want to have a person as your nominee, a person who voted against the marriage amendment?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No!

ROMNEY: Do you want a person as your nominee who voted against federal funding for -- excuse me, voted for federal funding for embryonic stem cell research?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No!

ROMNEY: Do you want as your nominee a person who authored a bill and fought for a bill that gave amnesty to all illegal aliens?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No! UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: Now there you hear Mitt Romney absolutely determined not to let tonight be the night that effectively gives John McCain the nomination. John McCain clearly a bit more worried than he has been in the past 24 hours or so, by his words this morning, and also by his actions in going one last time to the state of California.

Don't forget, Kyra, there is another Republican in this race. Mike Huckabee also spoke this morning in West Virginia, insisting that he is going to do well in his home turf, in all of these important southern states that are also among the 24 or so that are voting later today.

PHILLIPS: All right, Dana Bash live from Phoenix. Dana, thanks.

And as Dana said, the first results on this Super Tuesday could come from West Virginia. Republicans there are holding a state convention. They've already had one round of voting, with Mitt Romney leading, but no candidate got a majority.

Round two is going on now. We should have a winner this afternoon. John McCain isn't there, but Romney, Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul all spoke to conventioneers.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE HUCKABEE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Other candidates have had bigger budgets. But you know what? I'm almost tied in delegates with those who have spent 10, 15, 20 times what I have. And kind of tells me something: that it may be that it's time for the people to elect a president and not just the national media and the pundits to pick our president for us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIPS: West Virginia has 18 GOP delegates up for grabs. The winner takes them all. And we're going to bring you those results as soon as we get them.

Now you can be the first to know Super Tuesday results. Just sign up for CNN breaking news e-mail alerts. And you'll know when we know right here at CNN, election headquarters. Just sign up now at CNN.com.

Well, Atlanta's Varsity always attracts a big crowd on this Super Tuesday. That includes my co-anchor, Don Lemon. He's sampling the moods of the voters, also the food at the world's largest drive-in.

Hey, Don.

LEMON: The world's largest drive-in, and the food is pretty good. Not always necessarily great for you, but anything in moderation.

Hey, listen, a lot of people are taking their lunch hour, as well, to vote. And I'm holding my voter I.D. and also my driver's license here, because this is what people in Georgia are going to need. Several states across the country are doing these new voter I.D. systems. Georgia's one of them.

People out -- precinct watchers sort of watching, civil rights workers gauging that, making sure that people are able to vote now and there aren't any problems with people showing their I.D.

We talked about how big this drive-in is. Look at all those folks over here. That's one level. There's about two or three levels to this place. I don't know how many square feet it is. I'll have to ask. But it is gigantic. People ordering their lunch. A lot of them have been in the polling places.

A guy back there just said, "Hi, mom."

Some have been to the polling places; some haven't. These guys work together. They're all from Georgia. I'm going to go over here. Sorry to interrupt your conversation. You work at Georgia Tech, right?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I do.

LEMON: Your name is Adam?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

LEMON: Did you vote yet?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I did.

LEMON: You did. What do you -- why do you think so many people, they're saying in this race there appears to be less apathy, probably, than any other race in history. Why do you think people are so interested?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: First, because it's wide open. I couldn't tell you who's going to win either race. And because of the issues. I mean, things like war and the economy and that kind of stuff is very important to people.

LEMON: Yes. How was your experience at the polling place this morning?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was pretty good. It was faster than I thought it was going to be.

LEMON: Yes?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. I only had about a ten-minute wait or so.

LEMON: Really? No problems with showing I.D.? You were fine? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. I showed my Georgia Tech I.D., which is interesting, instead of my driver's license, but they took it, because it's a government-issued I.D.

LEMON: Are you sure about that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

LEMON: We may have some issues with that. I'm glad you mentioned the war. You said the war and the economy are important issues, right, for people?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

LEMON: All right. Great. Hey, thank you, guys. Go back to your lunch.

I'm going to walk over here real quick. It's kind of a big place. Stay with me, sir. Because I saw some -- some men in uniform back here. And I want to get their opinion about -- this is one part of the restaurant, another part of the restaurant we were telling you about.

Hey, guys, sorry to interrupt your lunch. You -- you're not from Georgia. Right? You're from where? Washington state?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's the last place I was stationed, yes.

LEMON: What's your name again?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm sorry. Leonard Paville (ph).

LEMON: Yes. Why do you think -- why do you think people are so interested? You voted absentee, right?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Roger.

LEMON: Why did you do that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, it's a national election. It's important to do that. Exercise your citizenship.

LEMON: Yes. One of the guys over there I spoke to just said, you know, every-day guy said to him the important issues are the economy and the war. You're in uniform. That's why I wanted to ask you guys about that. Important to you guys in uniform, our men and women in uniform, because?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Obviously it's our job. The stance of the candidates, I think, during the -- during the elections, of course, what they say is, I think, vastly different than once they take office.

LEMON: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's the responsibility of everybody to vote.

LEMON: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you can make sure (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Adherent (ph) to the process, furthering the process of (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

LEMON: All right. Great. Hey, thank you guys for what you do, the sacrifice you make for all of us. We appreciate it. And we appreciate you letting us disturb your lunch for a little bit. So enjoy. Glad you voted absentee.

So this is what we're doing, gauging the pulse of the people out here. This is every-day life, Georgia. The biggest and busiest place you can eat anywhere, I'm told, Kyra. Is that right?

PHILLIPS: I don't know. I still haven't had the guts to go and try one of those big dogs, but maybe can you bring one back. I'll give it a sample.

LEMON: I've gotten orders on my BlackBerry already. Let's see. A bunch of people are saying, "Here's what I want." Chili dogs. Some people like onion rings. So I got it all.

PHILLIPS: Because we never have time to eat on this shift.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: ... to the NEWSROOM.

PHILLIPS: OK. That sounds good. Thanks, Don.

LEMON: I've got to go right now. I'll see you later.

PHILLIPS: All right. See you in a little bit.

All right. We're going to talk a lot about the candidates this afternoon, both Democrat and Republican. But we're also going to talk about the voters and specifically the role that independents play in the delegate chase.

Just a little later, we're going to check out buzz on the blogs with some of the bloggers who live for election days. And we're going to check in with our reporters at polling places across the country as our Super Tuesday coverage continues.

Much more ahead, including a severe Super Tuesday forecast. Chad Myers in the house, coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: Severe storms with the threat of tornadoes. Now what we need on this Super Tuesday. Not exactly what we need on this Super Tuesday. Then again, Chad, there are so many people coming out in record numbers to vote. I don't think weather is going to deter anybody. CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, no. And if you get out right now, it's OK. Only one tornado watch where we're expecting the most severe weather.

But we are expecting almost a devastating snow event. This is on the north side. And I know I focus so much on how severe the weather's going to be down here to the south. I haven't focused a lot on how much snow is going to fall in Chicago, Milwaukee, the quad cities, Des Moines and Omaha. It could be a dozen inches of snow, 12 inches of snow in Chicago by morning, 14 in Milwaukee. And that's the north side of the storm.

Here's what it looks like in Des Moines right now. Granted, about ten minutes ago you could actually see buildings. Well, OK, maybe you can make the outline of a roof. You guys, 8 to 12 inches on top of a little bit of ice you've already had. The northwest corner of Missouri has gotten more ice. It's almost a half-inch in some of the areas just to the west of Chillicothe in Missouri. And this snow is going to continue all night long, right through and north of Moline, right through Moline.

Everywhere you see purple, that's a foot or snow of more. And the pink is ten inches of snow or more. I don't think Chicago, the forecast is right here on this map. This is what the computer thinks. I believe Chicago, especially Aurora, Sheboygan, you guys are going to be in for a foot of snow. Northwest suburbs of Chicago, you guys are in it to win it there.

Heavy rainfall across Indiana. Our four -- four, Kyra -- four counties in Indiana not under some type of flood warning right now. Not a watch. Some creek river stream out of its banks and every single county except four of them in Indiana.

Now we'll talk about the severe weather. Little Rock, Ft. Smith, there's our first tornado watch of the day so far. Had one earlier, but it wasn't much. I wasn't took worried about that. This one now is the beginning of the beginning, a high-risk, a big severe weather event and big tornadoes. I'm not talking about little ones like water spouts; violent tornadoes that could be coming down with these storms as they spin most of the evening.

There is the snow. I'll play it for you one more time. Snow to the north in Chicago, north, Milwaukee, all the way up to Green Bay. But this pink area here, a spring-like event. This is a spring event here for today, even though it hasn't been -- not even close yet to spring.

Watch out for big -- this will be a super outbreak Tuesday. Not just a Super Tuesday.

And then for Hawaii, finally the rain showers are ending, but I will show you some of the video we have out of Hilo. They picked up 26 inches of rain in 72 hours over the weekend. And that didn't go well -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Wow. All right. We'll track it all. MYERS: All right.

PHILLIPS: Thanks, Chad.

MYERS: You're welcome.

PHILLIPS: Up next, health care is a hot issue on the campaign trail. We're going to separate the buzzwords from the candidates to show you where they really stand on making sure you're protected.

And what's up with Wall Street? Learn why the markets could be in for another wild ride.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: Well, voters have heard lot about the health care plans offered by Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, but just how do they differ? Our chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, has been taking a closer look. He joins me now.

But before we get started, I want to make full disclosure here. In 1997 and '98 Sanjay Gupta worked as a White House fellow -- we like to brag about that -- which is a nonpartisan appointment, but that was three to four years after Hillary Clinton's initial health care plan collapsed.

So let's get back to the present now. We had to say that. How do the plans differ?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, I think in terms of what they're trying to achieve, they're actually 95-percent similar. They want universal health care. They focus a lot on prevention. And they also focus on this idea of rolling back tax cuts to pay for it. It's very expensive.

Where they differ, though, is very important here. And I think the language matters.

In terms of actually mandating health-care coverage, Hillary Clinton actually requires people that can afford health-care insurance to buy it.

Barack Obama, Senator Obama says, "Look, we mandate for children but not necessarily for adults." He thinks that if people want it, they would get it. It's more a problem of not being able to afford it.

Now that -- again, the words matter here, so listen to how they put it in their own words.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: I want everybody to pay something, according to their ability. And we'll make it affordable with health care tax credits. We'll limit the amount of the percentage of income that anybody has to pay as a premium. We won't require small business to do anything, but if small business wants to, they, too, can go into the congressional plan.

OBAMA: I am actually not interested in just capping premiums. I want to lower premiums by about an average of $2,500 per family per year, because people right now cannot afford it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GUPTA: Let's talk about that a little bit in terms of the costs here. This is from the campaigns themselves. They say -- Senator Clinton's camp says that their plan would cost about $110 billion. So very expensive. Senator Obama's plan talking about $50 billion to $60 billion.

There's been some independent economists, as well, Kyra, have looked at this and say, in fact, if you -- if you add it all up, Senator Clinton's plan costs about $124 billion but would cover everybody. Senator Obama's plan, about $102 billion but would cover about only half the people who are currently uninsured.

So depends on how you look at those lots of different models. But keep this in mind: of the people who don't have insurance right now, about 20 percent of them make more than $75,000. So a lot of people out there choosing not to get health-care insurance.

PHILLIPS: So OK. But what about if you do want it? Is there anybody under the Obama plan and/or the Clinton plan that would not be able to get it?

GUPTA: They both say no, that everybody that wants it can get it. Senator Clinton says, "Look, there are a lot of people who are happy with their health care. They get it through their employers. They're perfectly happy with it. They can keep that."

But if you can't afford it for some reason, you may be subsidized. If you can afford it, and you're not buying it, you'll be required to do so. And they'll mandate that through penalties or through some sort of tax incentive or penalty.

PHILLIPS: There's always a price.

GUPTA: There's a price. And this is very expensive. There's no question. And keep in mind, this is campaign season, as you know.

PHILLIPS: Right.

GUPTA: You've got to get elected. You've got to get it through Congress, and you've got to pay for it. So those three things obviously haven't happened yet.

PHILLIPS: What about the Republicans? Can we talk a little bit about the their plans?

GUPTA: Yes. You know, as much as "universal" is sort of the buzzword among the Democrats, "free market" is sort of that buzzword among the Republicans. They talk about this idea: let's encourage competition among the insurance companies. So for example, you live here in Atlanta, a few different insurance care providers available to you. What if there were 20 or 30 all of a sudden, and instead of you trying to get a plan, they're all coming to you saying, "Kyra, we want you as our customer," and they start to compete.

The hope is, among the Republicans, that would start to drive down costs and improve efficiency. If I had to sort of sum up their plan, that's it sort of in a nutshell. But they're not saying there's going to be any requirement for people to have insurance. They're not saying if there's going to be a universality of health-care insurance. They really want to rely on free enterprise.

PHILLIPS: I'm going to throw you for a loop. Who's going to take care of the emergency room problems? That's what I want to know. When you go in and it takes hours to get help, because there are so many uninsured people in there going in there for care.

GUPTA: That's right. So a lot of people who are uninsured right now will go to the emergency room and use it as primary care sort of facility.

The hope is, look, if more people are insured, either through lower costs by the Republicans or universal health care through the Democrats, people will actually see their doctors instead of going to the emergency rooms. You know, I get long waits in the emergency room, as well, with my kids...

PHILLIPS: I know. You and I have talked about this. I've called you, "Why does it take me two hours?"

GUPTA: And I thought this was a simple problem. But the hope is really with both -- all the plans, that problem should get better. But again, we're talking campaign season. You know, actually getting these plans through is a whole different story.

PHILLIPS: All right. Sanjay, thanks. Makes a little more sense.

GUPTA: That's right.

PHILLIPS: All right. Well, today's Super Tuesday race is likely to be super close. Track all the results as they come in minute by minute, state by state, all day and all night at CNNpolitics.com, plus analysis from the best political team. That's at CNNpolitics.com.

Now, we're also keeping an eye on your money. Rough ride on Wall Street right now, the Dow Industrials down 279 points. We're going to check in with Susan Lisovicz at the New York Stock Exchange. That's coming up next.

You're watching CNN, the most trusted name in news.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) PHILLIPS: Fears of recession are causing another big sell-off on Wall Street. Susan Lisovicz at the New York Stock Exchange with all the details.

Hey, Susan.

SUSAN LISOVICZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Kyra.

Well, it's one of the worst sell-offs of this ugly, young year. Stock prices are deep in the red after a dismal read on the service sector, which is the broadest part of the economy, by far.

This read was far worse than expected and the latest sign that, if we're not in a recession, we may be right on the edge. One economist calls today's numbers a recession reading.

Business activity in the sector contracted for the first time in nearly five years. The service sector includes some important parts of the economy, including retail sales and health care. It also includes some areas of economy that we already know have been hard hit, such as construction and the financial industry.

And financial stocks are certainly getting hurt again today. But so are many stocks. Check it out, the Dow Industrials off their session lows, are tumbling 284 points. They were down more than 300 at the low. The NASDAQ composite, meanwhile, down 2 percent, or 52 points. It is ugly, Kyra.

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Well, meanwhile there are new signs that credit is tightening too. Right?

LISOVICZ: Right. We've seen it already with all sorts of loans, with mortgages. It may be tougher to get a credit card now. Some companies are requiring higher credit -- credit cards are seeing their limits reduced. So you may notice fewer offers in the mail. That's certainly good thing.

But this credit crunch is hurting people, it's hurting small business owners, limiting their ability to expand and that could have a big impact on their ability to hire new workers. The "Wall Street Journal" says college students are getting hit with higher interest rates. This comes, of course, as the Fed has been sharply cutting interest rates, in other words trying to loosen monetary policy, get people to spend.

Borrowers, however, appear to be more cautious. A Federal Reserve survey shows weakening demand for loans for both households and businesses. That too is a sign of a slowing economy. But the Wall Street selling has not slowed, unfortunately. Check out the Dow one more time, down 276 points, or 2 percent, pretty much 2 percent for the three major averages. That's the kind of decline we are seeing.

Coming up on this Super Tuesday, money and politics. I'll tell you about some of the big corporate backers who are making some sizable donations, that's in the next hour of NEWSROOM. We'll keep watching the numbers and alert you if there is anything we have to tell you. Kyra.

PHILLIPS: All right, Susan. Did you hear what happened to Don?

LISOVICZ: He was at the Varsity. And I know the Varsity well from my days in Atlanta (ph).

PHILLIPS: Oh, really. What happened?

PHILLIPS: Well, he quit and he's now working at the Varsity. Yes. Take a look. He looks pretty good in the Varsity hat behind the counter.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Can you hear me?

PHILLIPS: Free hot dogs for all. Including our Susan Lisovicz at the New York stock exchange. You know what?

LEMON: I know Susan is very familiar with this place. But technically, let me tell you why I did this. Because I wanted to come behind the counter just to show how busy it is and to talk to some of these people who work here about whether they went to vote.

So -- but I have to have this hat on, I have to have my head covered, even thought I got it shaved off. So they put me to work on some of their specials here. Irving, my friend, Kyra, you'd love Irving. He's the kind of guy that you and I would hang out with. Irving has been here -- how long?

IRVING, VARSITY EMPLOYEE: I'm working on my 56th year.

PHILLIPS: What?

LEMON: 56th year here at Varsity. Irving, real quick, before I -- I want to talk to you about voting, but tell me, what are these specials?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's our number one with a Frosted Orange.

LEMON: Right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And the next one, here's our number four with french fries and a P.C.. That's two of our famous drinks. P.C. and Frosted Orange.

LEMON: Delicious and nutritious.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's it.

LEMON: So let me say, you've been here for 56 years. Do you mind my asking you how old you are?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 70 years old.

LEMON: 70 years old.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't I look good? (CROSSTALK)

LEMON: I wouldn't think it you are a day over 55.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's right.

LEMON: So let me ask you, do you hear more people now talking about the election, about voting in your 70-some years.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Yes. It's more just the young people. All them young people working with me behind the counter, they're talking about going to vote. And some of them ain't never voted before.

LEMON: Exciting, isn't it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

LEMON: And it's good to hear young people interested in it, right?.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.

LEMON: Yes, okay. So we're here in Georgia. We're going to talk to Irving a little bit longer. Kyra, as I said, you would love him. We're actually going to -- we should invite him out to come hang out with us some time.

PHILLIPS: Hey, who's Irving going to vote for?

LEMON: Should we ask you who you're going to vote for? Oh, okay.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. I'm going to vote for Obama. You know, I just told you, I explained it to you.

LEMON: Kyra, he explained it. And what he explained, I don't know if we should necessarily say on television.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.

LEMON: You know, we always have fun, too, Kyra. Another character who's on our show, he's actually based in London. But today he is in Fullerton, California. He's on the election express, he's gauging voter reaction there. Richard Quest, I set you up. I don't know if you can top Irving here in the Varsity here in Atlanta. What do you have for us?

RICHARD QUEST, CNN CORRESPONDENT: All I want to know from you, Don Lemon, is why is it dress-down Tuesday? I'm in Orange County here in California. You've got to do things properly out here. Anyway, here we are at Orange County where voting is well and truly under way.

I wouldn't say it has been brisk. I would say it has been steady. And the sort of people we've been seeing voting, is Rosemary. Well, her name is Rosemary, it is a long story but she goes by the name Patty. So that's what we'll do. Full of long stories out here in California. Good morning to you.

PATTY COMPFER, ORANGE COUNTY RESIDENT: Good morning.

QUEST: It is an election day. Do you get excited by elections? You are over 70. You've had a few of them by now.

COMPFER: I've had a number of them. Sometimes yes and sometimes no, depending on what's being out there for us.

QUEST: But are you excited about this one?

COMPFER: Yes. Yes, I am, because I think we are in need of a change and I think that the gentleman that I am for and voted for is the man that can do that.

QUEST: Rosemary is also -- Patti is also a bit of a tease. I mean, over 70 and she's teasing me. Well, tell us -- who is it!

COMPFER: John Mccain.

QUEST: Is that right? Why did you like Mccain over, say, Romney or Huckabee in this extremely conservative part of America?

COMPFER: I think because of his background, what he's done in the Senate. I believe it is the Senate. But he's been there, he's done there, or done it. He's been a prisoner of war, he's undergone many things that I think he has his heart in the right place.

QUEST: Now you are also a mail-in ballot. You've actually already voted. It is all a done deal.

COMPFER: Yes.

QUEST: You flirted -- didn't you -- you flirted shamelessly with another candidate.

COMPFER: Well, yes, yes, I did. I entertained the idea of Rudy Giuliani. I was very proud of what the man did after 9/11.

QUEST: Just as well you didn't vote for him because that would have been a spoiled ballot. And many people in this part of the world will have voted absentee ballot, or mail-in ballot, and their vote won't count.

COMPFER: And that's the part that bothers me.

QUEST: Why?

COMPFER: Well, I took the time to do my reading and do my investigation and listen. And I took my time to vote, and mail it in. And now you tell me it is not going to be counted.

QUEST: If you'd voted for Giuliani.

(CROSSTALK)

COMPFER: My vote's going to count.

QUEST: Well that's just tough. That's just tough. Life is tough, and politics is tough. Anyway, exciting. Thank you very much. Kyra, John may be in the kitchen at the Varsity, but I'm here with Patti -- come on, what have you got here?

COMPFER: I'm returning table cloths. We had a reception here on Sunday. Our pastor is leaving and --

QUEST: Oh, very nice! So we've got Patti doing the laundry. That's the sort of thing they do in Orange County in the middle of the day.

PHILLIPS: I love it! So, is she going to give you one of those for your kitchen table, Richard (ph)?

QUEST: Well, I think she might. Can I have one?

COMPFER: I think the children's center would be just a wee bit upset if we stole their table cloths.

QUEST: You see? They are very polite here. That's was a polite way of saying, "Shove it! No!" I mean, Patti wouldn't say that sort of thing. Look, Kyra, can you and I join -- can you and I have a whip round, please? And buy Don a decent shirt. What is that thing he's wearing?

PHILLIPS: We'll work on that. He's going to save a few hotdogs. Maybe he and Patti can have some, what is it, P.C. Tips tea. Is that right, Richard Quest?

QUEST: As long as it's hot and wet, I'm happy.

PHILLIPS: Okay. Patti and Richard, thank you so much.

Well start, spread the news and the confetti. New York is celebrating its giant Super Bowl win. Live pictures from the Big Apple as soon as we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: al Qaeda still No. 1 threat to U.S. interests around the world. That's coming from the director of National Intelligence at a hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee. Michael McConnell also talked about concerns that al Qaeda in Iraq may be looking to mount attacks outside that country. Other testimony covered the controversial practice of waterboarding, the CIA director publicly providing more specifics than we've ever heard before.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL HAYDEN, CIA DIRECTOR: In the life of the CIA detention program, we've detained fewer than 100 people. Of the people detained, fewer than one-third have had any of what we call the enhanced interrogation techniques used against them. Let me make it very clear and to state so officially in front of this committee that waterboarding has been used on only three detainees. It was used on Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, it was used on Abu Zubaydah and it was used on Nashiri. The CIA has not used waterboarding for almost five years. We used it against these three high-valued detainees because of the circumstances of the time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIPS: Hayden stressed that a fear of imminent attacks on U.S. soil played a big part in the decision to waterboard those three suspects.

Police now have a better description of the suspect in a deadly shooting at a Lane Bryant clothing store outside Chicago. Five women were killed in what police say was a robbery-gone-wrong. The FBI is helping in the manhunt. The suspect is said to be about 5'9", weighs between 230 and 260 pounds and has thick, braided hair with four light green beads in one of the braids. He was wearing a black jacket, dark jeans with a rhinestone pattern on the back pocket.

Funerals for three of the victims are scheduled for later this week. Cops won't say whether they're getting information from the sixth victim who reportedly survived.

Different rules for different state contests today. We're going to tell you how they can make a huge difference for the candidates, especially the ones -- ones dependent on Independents.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: Well, this is the kind of day that Carl Bernstein, David Gergen and Donna Brazile live for. They're all part of CNN's Super Tuesday roundtable. Carl and David join us from New York, Donna's in Washington.

OK, so, that's what the writer believes. Carl, is this the day that you live for?

CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It's one day among many. This thing is not going to be over today. And I think it's very important, certainly for me, and a lot of people in the media, to take a deep breath here, that we are very much a part of the process.

Outside the building, I ran into Terry McAuliffe of the Clinton campaign on his cell phone trying to convince a radio station of one thing or another. And I think there's a big last-minute push by all the campaigns to get all of us to say things that they want us to say.

The important thing to look at right now as far as I'm concerned is where this race was a month ago, and where it is today, where it was six months ago and where it is today. Hillary Clinton is not where she wants to be. She had hoped to be the nominee today. She is far from being the nominee today and the Clinton campaign is talking about Texas and is talking about Ohio and how they're going to do great there, as well as how they really think that Michigan and Florida need to be counted. And these two candidates like each other less than they ever had today.

PHILLIPS: So Donna, so -- playing off of Carl there, Donna, what happened? How did Hillary lose that edge? What did Obama do?

DONNA BRAZILE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, first of all, the field has dwindled to two candidates, two different candidates, not only in terms of their gender and their race, but they also represent different aspects of the Democratic party.

Senator Clinton has campaigned, is a champion, of course, of education, women, the economy. Senator Obama has campaigned, reminding the American people that it's time for change, a new chapter in American politics. So, he has been able to catch up with Senator Clinton. It's a two-persons race. He has significant momentum, money, resources to spread around the country.

And let me tell you, Carl is absolutely right, the Clinton campaign had hoped that this would be the end of her campaign days in terms of the Democratic nomination and hoping to pivot to the general election. Today, what we'll see is perhaps a split decision, with Clinton perhaps coming out a little bit ahead in terms of delegates because she goes into this contest having been able to get many Americans, convincing them to vote early and I think that Obama will come up just a little bit short, but this race will go on for several more weeks.

PHILLIPS: And David, Obama has come forward and said look, it's not just the blue states I'm going to work, but I'm going to work the red states, too. I'm going to get it everywhere.

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I -- this is a moment of high drama. It is one of those kinds of moments that if you're in politics, if it's in your lifeblood, you do look forward to with a great deal of anticipation.

But I think it's way too early to say that -- how this is going to come out tonight one way or the other. Hillary Clinton goes in to this -- we have 15 primaries on the Democratic side. She seems safe in at least two, and I would say in New York and Arkansas, and probably two others, Tennessee and Alabama. He seems safe in only two -- Illinois, his home state, and in Georgia. But the rest of the states, the other nine states, are all very much in play.

Now, he has the momentum to be sure, as Donna just pointed out, but she's had the lead. And she -- with a lot of early ballots being cast in a place like California, those ballots are going to be important because they were cast at a time when she was pretty far ahead.

So, it may well be by the end of the night, yes, she has them secured. But if she winds up winning nine or 10 states, and 50-60 -- 60 percent of the delegates, it's going to be a big night for her. This is still her -- it's still a night where he has to take it away from her. He might do it. That's the drama.

PHILLIPS: Let's talk about Republicans here for a second. Carl, all this talk about McCain not being conservative enough, Rush Limbaugh getting involved in the mix, Bob Dole sending him a letter, Newt Gingrich stepping out and talking, wondering who he's going to endorse. What's going on here?

BERNSTEIN: What's going on is that they're fighting each other. But the important thing is if the Republican party is going to rally around a candidate who can run against either Obama or Hillary Clinton, they're going to have little trouble doing that. There's an argument whether Hillary Clinton or Obama has wider appeal to some Republicans and might pull some of them off. My own belief is that Obama could pull some Republican votes. I don't think Hillary Clinton can, unless it is with women.

But one thing to look for is the Democratic Party tearing itself apart if this thing goes on and goes even to the convention without a nominee. It could happen. There are people who are starting to worry about it within the party, because these two candidates really do not like each other and they don't like the way each camp is fighting.

PHILLIPS: Well, that's interesting.

GERGEN: It's going to get uglier, it is not going to get prettier.

PHILLIPS: Well, you talk about the Democratic Party tearing itself up. David, this is an unusual time for the Republican Party. There is a lot of in-fighting and tearing up going on within that party as well.

GERGEN: Well, there is a lot of in-fighting. The Republicans feel exactly the same way that the Democrats that Carl just described do, and that is they want -- many Republican establishment-types want this to end tonight and that's the drama here. Only three or four days ago, it looked as though John McCain would indeed wrap it up tonight.

But there has been movement out in California enough so that Romney could pull off a surprise in California. I think it would be a shocker if he pulled it off, but the polls suggest that he is close and even some polls have him ahead. There is a lot of drama on both sides.

If Romney wins out there tonight in California and picks up two or three other states there and holds Massachusetts, John McCain would love to take his home state away from him. But, if Romney pull out, then the Republican side is going to have a lot of cannibalism and in- fighting the kind the Democrats fear.

PHILLIPS: Speaking about keeping your eye on California. These Republican candidates constantly bringing up Ronald Reagan, still even today. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Ronald Reagan said, a shining city on a hill. We're going to win today, and we're going to win the nomination and we're going to win the presidency.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think people will recognize that we want to stay in the house that Reagan built.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIPS: Donna, why are the candidates keep bringing up Ronald Reagan?

BRAZILE: Because he brought the party together and he represented conservative values. He was able to appeal to Independents and some disaffected Democrats. But, that's not the party that they will inherit. They will inherit a party that is deeply divided.

Mitt Romney said it best, he said this is a fight for the heart and soul of the Republican Party. And tonight I think John McCain has to secure New York, New Jersey and Connecticut those are winner take all states. They're not -- the delegates will not be divided proportionately.

If you win a congressional district, you get all of the delegates you get state wide. That will help John McCain, of course increase his momentum, increase his delegate count. Once John McCain is able to win in these states, then the conservative establishment, the politicians, the political leaders, will coalesce around John McCain and he will not have to have a face-off with Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh.

GERGEN: There's another big difference, and that is that when Ronald Reagan was president, there was no huge war going on in Iraq. And whoever the nominee -- that's exactly right. So, there was not this hemorrhage of support away from the Republican Party. And, whoever is going to be the Republican nominee is supporting this war and it gives the Democrats a great, great advantage going into the election.

PHILLIPS: Carl Bernstein, David Gergen, Donna Brazile, we're up against (inaudible) got to go.

BRAZILE: Happy Mardi Gras.

PHILLIPS: Happy Mardi Gras. And, in case all our viewers didn't know, I think Carl Bernstein is out with a new book. Isn't that right, David? Bye, guys. Talk about in-fighting. We got it going on here at CNN. Dow Industrials down 305 points. We're watching it. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: Live to the big board at the New York Stock Exchange, Dow Industrials down 300 points. A growing number of top economists believe that we are, our economy, has now toppled into a recession.

That's been a bit of a controversy as we are in a tough election year here in 2008. The economy on the top of the agenda for a number of the candidates. We are watching the numbers, we are talking with our Susan Lisovicz, of course, within every half hour.

Meanwhile, little good news on the New York side, a giant party in New York City today, as the city celebrates it's Super Bowl upset. Is that a little Journey I hear? Is that us, or is that the party? All right, good taste in music. For all us old fogies here.

Thousands of fans, maybe a few people who just didn't want to go to work filling the streets now of Manhattan. A little Steve Perry. Celebrating the Giants victory parade. New York, as you may have heard, put an end to the New England Patriots undefeated season 17-14. It was definitely a tight game.

It is the Giants' first championship in 17 years. What else got the most viewership besides that Super Bowl game? Mash in its grand finale.

They might be young, but their votes count all the same. We're going to tell you where a fountain of youth support seems to be flowing in this presidential race.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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