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CNN NEWSROOM

Presenting the Candidates Unfiltered

Aired February 16, 2008 - 15:00   ET

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


JESSICA YELLIN, CNN HOST: When we come back, we'll bring you some from the Republican side, both John McCain and Huckabee on the stump.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

YELLIN: Welcome back to CNN's BALLOT BOWL, where we bring you the candidates unfiltered and in their own words. I'm Jessica Yellin in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I've been following the Democrats. I want to bring in my colleague Mary Snow who is also in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. We haven't actually seen each other yet. We're in the same city. She's been covering the Republicans. And Mary, it's a quiet weekend for the Republicans. What they're doing? Kicking up their heels, taking it easy?

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. It's so unusual. Senator John McCain is taking the weekend off, taking a down weekend. And Mike Huckabee is actually in the Cayman Islands. That was an assignment I certainly lobbied for but did not get. Mike Huckabee has a speech tonight in the Cayman Islands and he said that he had planned this awhile ago. Actually at one point getting a little testy on the campaign trail when people were asking him about leaving the campaign trail.

He's been insisting that he's going to stay in this fight despite strong suggestions from Republicans, including Senator John McCain that perhaps he should step aside. But Mike Huckabee says until there are 1,191 delegates, he's going to stay in this race. He's campaigning here in Wisconsin. He's giving a speech telling reporters he is -- has to earn a living and that's what he primarily makes money from, doing speeches. This is something he did a couple of years back in the Cayman Islands, and he'll return here to Wisconsin to continue campaigning.

He is hoping to strike a chord with conservatives. And that has been his whole mantra in the past couple of contests. We saw him in Virginia really trying to strike up that discontent that conservatives have with Senator John McCain hoping to draw that sharp distinction. And Senator John McCain has said that he respects the process. But certainly there have been a lot of hints, including a campaign memo late this past week talking about how mathematically is really is impossible for Mike Huckabee to go forward and win the nomination just because of the lag of delegates. Senator John McCain was campaigning here in Wisconsin yesterday. Let's go to one event that he had in Lacrosse, Wisconsin, and last night. Here's Senator John McCain in his own words.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The problem with health care in America is not the quality of care, as you know. It's the cost of care. My friends if you like government-run health care systems, take a trip up to Canada before you decide that you think a government-run health care system is right.

Also, I do not believe in mandates. I believe that every American should have affordable and available health care and I'd like to talk just an additional minute about that. But I'm not going to mandate that they do. I want every American to have affordable and available education. But I'm not going to mandate that they do. I want everyone to have affordable housing but I'm not going to mandate they do. And obviously mandates mean you're going to ratchet up the cost dramatically. The problem with healthcare in America is the inflation. There was a front page story in the "USA Today" that health care, Medicaid costs have gone up over 10 percent. No system can be sustained with double-digit inflation as you well know.

In fact, our legislature here in Wisconsin wrestles with this problem all the time. It's eating up your budget, isn't it, Mr. Speaker? So my point is yes individual choices. Why don't we give every American family a $5,000 refundable tax credit and they can go across state lines anywhere in America and get the health insurance policy of their choice. And if they have something left over, and then let them buy -- invest it in a health savings account because basically what you are talking about is health savings accounts.

We have to do a whole lot of things. We have to try to get providers to pay for outcome based care. In other words, there are five major chronic diseases in America that consume 75 percent of the health care costs. If someone has diabetes, then I believe you should pay that provider for a year's worth of treatment, reward them if that patient is well at the end of that. We need walk-in clinics, we need community health centers. We need to do -- we need medical malpractice reform. Any doctor in this room, I think would tell you that many times they prescribe extra tests or extra procedures because they are worried about being sued.

So -- but the other thing I want to just mention in closing because this has been the discussion of two-hour long health care forums that I've been involved in so I'm really shortening it. But the other aspect is wellness and fitness, wellness and fitness, wellness and fitness. We have now some -- one of the most disturbing statistics we've heard lately is the increase in diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity amongst young Americans.

I don't know why O mentioned Curt Schilling's name but why not have the most respected athletes in America go around to the schools and talk to young people about wellness and fitness. Why not find out here what the school lunch program is. Why not find out here what the physical education part of the curriculum in your local school is. And because wellness and -- unless we have a well and fit population, my friend, the consequences of that are obvious. I think the economy, national security and health care, whether it be insurance, quality, availability, whatever it is, are the major challenges facing this nation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SNOW: That's Republican presidential hopeful Senator John McCain in Lacrosse, Wisconsin yesterday. Making his case to voters in Wisconsin. The site of Tuesday's primary, 37 Republican delegates up for grabs. But it's not just Wisconsin holding contests. Washington State also having a primary and Hawaii having a contest for Democrats. They'll be holding their primary there on Tuesday.

This as the Republican field, the dynamic certainly different from the Democratic side. Senator John McCain moving closer toward securing the Republican nomination. But Mike Huckabee is putting up a fight. Even after losing in Virginia and Maryland, Washington, D.C., last week, earlier this week, that is, he is vowing to fight ahead saying that he believes people need a real choice when it comes to conservatives in the Republican Party. He's been campaigning here in Wisconsin.

Taking today off from the campaign trail, giving a speech in the Cayman Islands. But he is expected to return here later this weekend. And Mike Huckabee was in the pocket this Wednesday making his case to voters. Let's go to Mike Huckabee in his own words earlier this week.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE HUCKABEE, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Let's face it, folks. There's something wrong when it takes more paperwork for you to get on an airplane in your hometown to go somewhere than it does for a person to slip across the border as an illegal. That's what we have to stop. It's not stopping people from coming but stopping people from breaking the law. There's a fundamental difference between the two.

And we'll fix that. Washington hasn't. And the states have had to deal with the consequences of Washington's failures. I say let's get it fixed. Or as in the words of one of our fellow southerners, Larry the cable guy, let's just git 'er done. People ask me, why am I staying in this race? Well, first of all, I got in it to win. I'm staying in it to win. And if nobody gets 1,191 delegates before the convention, then we'll settle it at the convention like it used to be done in the old days and I'll take my chances there like anybody else.

But I also am staying in this race because I think there's some issues that you care about and I know I care about, and I just mentioned one of them. But there's some other ones. And Washington is not fixed them. They haven't even addressed them. We've got a health care system that's broken. It's upside down because it's based on intervention, not prevention. And the reason it's not working is because we have a system that waits until people are catastrophically ill at the end of their lives and then we try to figure out how to pay for the most expensive treatment in the world when we should have been putting the focus on preventing the disease in the first place. That's an affordable health care plan.

We also have serious problems with the tax system that chokes the daylights out of most small business owners and individuals trying to reach the next rung on the ladder. I see some of my friends here that have some signs that I'm always loving to see when I go somewhere. As many of you may know, I believe that what we need to do is not tinker with the tax code or tweak it a little bit. I think we need to get rid of it and completely overhaul it. I want to be - I want to be the president that nails the going out of business sign on the front door of the IRS. I'd like to put the IRS out of business instead of having them put a whole lot of people out of business because of the excessive taxation and regulation, $250 billion of compliance.

Some estimate it as high as $500 billion every year in this country. That's what we spend paying lawyers and accountants just to help us fill out tax forms that sit in some government warehouse taking up space and killing trees. Rather than killing the trees, let's kill the IRS. Let's get rid of the crazy tax code. Let's implement the fair tax.

Our Republican Party used to be the champion of small business owners who actually are responsible for 50 percent of the jobs in this nation and 80 percent of new jobs in America. We need to once again remind ourselves that free enterprise and the free market system is something for which the purpose of government is not to complicate free enterprise. It's to facilitate free enterprise. It's not so that we have a system that makes it easier to move your jobs to China. It ought to be easier to get your jobs done here in the United States. We've lost 2 million manufacturing jobs and part of the reason is although free trade is a good thing, but there's nothing free about it when it isn't fair and it's not fair when the United States is playing by a completely different set of rules than our trading partners.

And as president, I promise we're going to say, guys, game is on. But all of us are going to play under the same rule book and the guys in the striped shirts aren't going to be able to wear a jersey for one of the two sides. That's how it has to happen. And we're going to bring some jobs back. And let me tell you why. Because there's three things that any country has got to be able to do in order to be free.

First thing it's got to do is feed itself. Agriculture is important in this country. And I come from a state where we understand that. And you do here in Wisconsin as well. If you think foreign oil is bad, wait until we depend upon foreign food to feed us. It will be the end of this country. The country that cannot feed itself but depends on somebody else to put groceries on its table is enslaved to that country. And we can never let that happen.

Second thing a country has got to be able to do to be freed. We've got to be able to fuel ourselves. Right now one of the reasons that we are in the trouble we're in, in the Middle East is because we have allowed ourselves to remain enslaved to Middle East oil and as a result we pay both sides on the war on terror. Your tax dollars pay for the military to fight it. But your oil dollars is what's actually funding and fueling the terrorists themselves because that's where the money comes from that creates the madras's that pays the terrorists and helps them to be trained and then they come against us.

I don't think it's smart to pay for both sides of the same fight. I've got a better idea. It's becoming energy independent within ten years and getting this country where we have environmentally friendly sustainable, domestically produced energy alternatives.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SNOW: Mike Huckabee in Pewaukee, Wisconsin, on Wednesday, addressing crowds, remaining defiant, even though he was disappointed he did not get any victories earlier this week. And primaries in Virginia, Maryland, Washington, D.C. But he's vowing to press ahead saying that he is targeting specific states where he feels he can do well.

Wisconsin he believes is one of them. And the one of the other ones where he believes he really could have a sizable difference is Texas. He believes that his stand on immigration and his conservative message will help him there. But Senator John McCain already has said that he's going to be going to Texas, to Houston, on Monday where he's expected to be endorsed by former President George Bush. Though that's some of what's going on on the Republican side.

We're going to be hearing from the Democratic candidates. Senator Barack Obama, Senator Hillary Clinton and former president Bill Clinton out on the campaign trail. You are watching BALLOT BOWL stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

YELLIN: I'm Jessica Yellin. Welcome back to BALLOT BOWL. We're coming to you today from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where both Senator Barack Obama and Senator Hillary Clinton are campaigning today. Senator Clinton just arriving in the state today and will be here through the primary on Tuesday. It's one of two states that will -- where voters will go to the polls on Tuesday. Both Wisconsin and Hawaii, where there will be a caucus.

Important contest for the Democrats. More than 70 delegates at stake in Wisconsin alone. Barack Obama has been here yesterday and today. Senator Clinton just arriving. We will bring you some from her later on in the hour. But first we want to take you to Senator Clinton's event in Ohio yesterday where she talked about her new sharpened message that she is the person who will deliver solutions that she is a populist solution to solve some of those economic problems that are troubling so many Americans.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We need an agenda that people are excited about again in America. We need to believe that we can, we will solve our problems. Now I believe that we can set those big goals again. I know we can. Yes, we will. Yes, we will. Yes, we will. Yes, we will. Yes, we will. Yes, we will. Yes, we will. Yes, we will. And here's what we will do together.

We will have an economy that once again creates prosperity and jobs for the middle class and hardworking Americans who have been overlooked by this administration. They've not seen what I see. I see people who literally feel invisible in America. People whose jobs have been shipped overseas and nobody seem to care. People who have trained those who are taking their jobs and nobody seemed to notice what an insult it was to ask somebody, oh, we need a doctor right here. OK. Could we -- sir?

Mr. Secret service man, would you hand that water over here. Pass that water down there. OK. And maybe -- is there a doctor or an EMT? Here comes somebody. Thank you very, very much. Well, you know, we got a little hot on the rhetoric. But it's worth getting excited about our country and excited about our future. Because if we have a president again who actually cares about creating jobs in America, here's what we will do together. We care. You care.

And here's what I will do as your president. We're going to make it clear that no more tax dollars, not one penny, will go to help anybody export a job out of Ohio to any other country in the world. There's a big difference between speeches and solutions, between talk and action. I have the highest regard for my opponent. I just believe that if you are hiring a president, I would be the one you would hire for this job. So we need you to sign up to be part of this campaign to call that number.

Call that number that Representative Miller gave us. Go on to my Website, Hillaryclinton.com and see how you can get involved. I know Eugene wants me to read this number again, 216-326-1736. You know, this is an exciting campaign. And it's going to bring so many people to the polls. And that is so wonderful because everybody needs to be involved in changing our country. It is going to make such a difference. And then we're going to send our nominee up against the Republican nominee, John McCain.

And we know -- we know he is a distinguished American with a great record of service to our country. But he is more of the same. He said we can stay in Iraq for 100 years. I'm going to bring people home starting in 60 days. So I have to ask you, if you are ready to see our country make progress again, to feel pride in America, will you help me here in Ohio the next 2 1/2 weeks? Will you be ready to take back our country starting March the 4th? If you are ready, then I am ready to lead, and I need your help. So let's go make history together. Thank you all very, very much!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

YELLIN: Senator Clinton in Ohio, which her campaign has called a must-win state for her. You heard her take a twist on Obama's "yes we can" chant. Around the state of Ohio we've heard her start declaring "yes we will" lining up with her message that she didn't just offer promises. She offers solutions. Yes we will she is saying. Senator Clinton has just arrived in Wisconsin. We're going to bring you now to some sound from Barack Obama. He has been in Wisconsin for some time now and he has been underscoring the message we've heard from him for some time. That message of hope.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SENATOR BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: We are in a unique moment where we can put together a working majority for change. That's what Senator Clinton doesn't understand. She holds up boxing gloves. You know, saying she wants to fight. We don't need more fighting. We need some getting together and solving some problems. That's what I intend to do as president of the United States of America. Which brings me to the last argument.

You know, we've been talking about change since the beginning of this campaign. We talked about change when we were up. We talked about change when we were down. And this whole change thing must be catching on because everybody is talking about change now. But lately, Senator Clinton has been arguing with me not about the meaning of change, but about the meaning of hope. She's been criticizing me about talking about hope. And it's true.

I do talk about hope a lot. I talk about hope because it's very unlikely that I'm standing here today if you think about it. I was born to a teenage mom. My father left when I was 2 years old. I was raised by a single mom and my grandparents and they didn't have a lot. They didn't give me money. They didn't give me a lot of status or prestige. What they gave me was love, and education and some hope. And so it's true.

I put hope on my signs and I talked about hope in the Democratic Convention in Boston, and I wrote a book called "The Audacity of Hope." But now Senator Clinton and others have criticized me by saying, oh, his head is in the cloud. He's so naive. He's not realistic. He's peddling in false hopes. Peddling in false hopes. Now the implication is that, if you talk about hope then you must be ignorant of the challenges that stand in your way, that you must somehow be passive and you'll just wait for good things to happen to you.

That's not what hope is. Hope is not blind optimism. Hope is not pretending that somehow things are going to be easy. That's not what hope is. I know how hard it will be to provide health care to every American. If it was easy, it would have already been done. I know how hard it will be to change our energy policy. Exxon Mobil made $11 billion in profits last quarter. If it was easy, it would have already been done.

I know how hard it will be to alleviate poverty that has built up over centuries. I know how hard it would be to fix our schools. Because it won't just require more money it will require a change of attitudes. It is not just a situation with our teachers, where are going to have to as parents and as students change our mind-set. We parents have to turn off the TV sets and tell their kids to do their homework. It's going to require a change in culture.

I know how hard it is because I have fought on the streets as an organizer. I have fought in the courts as a civil rights attorney. I have fought in the legislature. I have won some of those battles, but I've lost some, too, because good intentions aren't always enough if they're not fortified with political will and political power.

But I also know this: that nothing worthwhile in this country has ever happened except somebody somewhere was willing to hope. That -- that is how -- that is how this country was founded, a group of patriots declaring independence against a mighty British empire. Nobody gave them a chance, they had hope. As slaves and abolitionists resisted that wicked system, and how a new president chartered a course to ensure this nation would not remain half slave and half free.

That's how the greatest generation defeated Hitler and lifted itself out of a great depression. That's how pioneers had the courage to travel west into the unknown. That's how immigrants traveled from distant shores to populate this country. That is how women won the right to vote. That is how workers won the right to organize. That's how young people traveled south to march and to sit in and some got beaten and some went to jail and some died for freedom's cause. That's what hope is.

(APPLAUSE)

That's what hope is, Milwaukee. That's what hope is. Imaging and then fighting for and then working for what did not seem possible before.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

YELLIN: Senator Barack Obama speaking again in Wisconsin where both he and Senator Clinton have started a war of the negative ads. They're hitting positive themes on the stump, but on television, they are accusing each other of distorting one another's record and misrepresenting the fight over debates, whether or not they should have a debate in Wisconsin. Senator Clinton saying she'd like one, Barack Obama saying enough with the debates, let's meet with the voters. They're going back and forth with it, but not on the stump, on the stump, we hear only the good news, the positive campaign news.

We want to take you now to Bill Clinton, who was speaking in Texas, earlier. He is campaigning there as his wife's surrogate-in- chief and he's hitting that theme that she has emphasized so much that she's the person of solutions, not just the candidate of dreams. Bill Clinton.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL CLINTON (D), FMR U.S. PRESIDENT: My case to you is this. She's got the best vision and the best ideas. We need to get America back in the solutions business. No. 2, she's got the longest, best record of being an agent of positive change and it's the solutions that unlock the future. And, No. 3, anybody that fights for those people will fight for you and will stay with you and will not forget the look in your eyes today once they get to be president. You won't have to worry about the kind of thing that happened in Katrina.

Look at the damage done to President Bush's second term by how people feel that was handled. It's easy to get isolated from the White House. It won't happen to her. I have never known anybody who was more completely trustworthy and devoted to using public office and private life to do good things in the lives of people.

She's the best change maker. If we had never been married, knowing what I know about the presidency and the demands of the moment, I would be here asking for you to vote for her if she wanted me to be.

This is not a close question if you think this is what the election is about. If you think it's more important to have someone fresh and new and different and that everybody who is involved in making good things happen and stopping bad things from happening because they were in a fight, should be disqualified from being president, you can make a different choice. But, if your choice is a president who put us back in the solution business, the answer should be clear.

And as you walk out, just think about this. How will you measure the success of the next president? In your own mind, how will you measure it? I'll tell you how Hillary will measure it. This is our family's commitment. And I've watched her do this for 35-plus years. How will she measure it? With three simple questions: No. 1, will the American people be better off when I quit than when I started? No. 2, will our children and grandchildren have a brighter future? No. 3, will this incredibly fascinating, but troubled world, be coming together instead of being torn apart? And she believes -- she believes that everything else is smoke and mirrors. That's that what matters. That is all that matters. If you disagree, you have a different choice. But, if you want somebody who will be able to answer yes to all three questions, you vote for her here in Texas and bring her home and you will never be sad you did. Good-bye and thank you!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

YELLIN: Bill Clinton telling voters in Texas that his wife is in the solutions business. And right there in Texas, CNN will be hosting a debate between Barack Obama and Senator Hillary Clinton. It will be Thursday, February 21 at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time. That's next Thursday at 8:00 p.m. Eastern. CNN will carry that live. Senator Clinton and Barack Obama go head-to-head.

Coming up after the break, we will bring you more from Josh Levs who is hard at work surfing the web, of all things. He'll bring you news from the Republican side of the ticket. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

Welcome back. You are watching CNN's BALLOT BOWL, a chance for you to hear directly from candidates, unfiltered. I'm Mary Snow in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Wisconsin is the site of another primary that will be held here on Tuesday. The Democratic candidates are expected to be in Milwaukee later today. The Republicans, a different story. Senator John McCain having a down weekend, Mike Huckabee travelled to the Cayman Islands this weekend to deliver a speech. He is expected to be back here on the campaign trail sometime tomorrow. But, one person who never takes any time off is Josh Levs. We're going to bring him in and he has been scanning the Internet for the candidates' Web sites and come up with some pretty interesting finds.

Hi, Josh. JOSH LEVS, CNN.COM DESK: Hey, it was either this or chase Mike Huckabee to the Cayman Islands. Maybe I picked the wrong one. I don't know.

SNOW: I tired to do that myself, yeah, but...

LEVS: I know, look at you out there. Hope you got some coffee.

All right, well here's the deal. We know that what candidates are focusing on, a lot of them, right now, is raising money. Obviously, they're pushing into future states. But as well, there's tremendous focus on money. One thing I've been doing is looking at the Internet, at the campaign Web sites, which are frequently upindicated to see how hard they are pushing, what they are doing, what their devices are, what's going on on that front.

So, I'm going to turn around. We have a separate camera here that focused in on my computer. I'm going to be able to show you this. If you focus right here, what you can see is this is Mike Huckabee's Web site. He has right over here, the red bar, shows how far he is toward a goal for March 4 of $1.5 million. Right now he's just under $400,000. Trying to raise $1.5 million on time, for what a lot of people are calling the next Super Tuesday, March 4.

Let's go over to John McCain's side. This is really interesting to me. Of all four candidates, he is the only one that does not have any kind of bar or graph trying to raise a ton of money really fast because on his site, because, and a lot of us see it, he certainly seems have the nomination clinched, which means you can donate, but he is not pushing at all in the same way the others are.

You can see the main messages they're using there, as well and I don't know if you can see it right there, you can, yeah, it says: "Ready to lead on day one," a Hillary Clintonism, he's taking on right now. You can see the two of them, if t does become him versus Hillary Clinton, both fighting for that mantel.

All right, so that's the serious side. Now another thing I'm doing, because I'm looking at these sites today, is taking a look at the lighter side. Some of the messaging that they're doing on the slighter side. Some videos that we don't often get to show you here on CNN, but we're going to now. Let's start off with one, right here, from Mike Huckabee.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: But until the race has run its course, who can say there won't be one last twist before that final down?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEVS: There you go.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: Mike Huckabee, he just keeps on rolling. (END VIDEO CLIP)

LEVS: He just keeps on rolling. That's his message right there. That's on is site right now, they have this whole long (INAUDIBLE) thing that you're following where the ball goes and his message is you can't predict what's going to happen, sometimes there are surprising twists, but you keep on rolling.

Now, not to be outdone, John McCain has a series of videos called "The Lighter Side" on his Web site, as well. And one of them you might want to plug your ears. You might enjoy it. I suppose it depends on your taste. Let's take a look, here.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: He has served his country in the military, the Congress and the Senate. Now, he serves America with song.

JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (singing): Love, soft as an easy chair love, fresh as the morning...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEVS: All right, that is actually -- he put that on his campaign Web site, it's actually video from when he appeared on "Saturday Night Live" back in 2002 and took on Barbara Streisand and he was torture her song kind as a way of bashing her, but obviously it's a chance to show his lighter side, try to get that message out there, as well, I'm not serious all the time. A bunch of really interesting videos from the Democrats, that we looked at last hour. The Republicans, now, we visit their sites. And also, you can see a lot of this through our site, cnnpolitics.com.

So, tell me, Mary, did I hurt your ears, there? Was it painful?

SNOW: You know, I am sure John McCain is going to be so happy that you found that video, Josh, and started playing it for everybody. John McCain like we haven't seen him before. Maybe not on "American Idol" anytime soon, though.

LEVS: Yeah, fortunately...

SNOW: Thank you very much.

LEVS: Thanks.

Keep looking for those Web sites. That will keep us entertained.

We're going to have a lot more coming up. Also, we're going to take a look at the latest headlines. You're watching BALLOT BOWL on CNN. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: Hello, I'm Fredricka Whitfield in Atlanta. We'll get back to the BALLOT BOWL in just a moment, but first a quick look at the headlines, right now.

The death toll is rising from an illegal street racing crash in Maryland. An eighth person has died. Kate Bolduan joins us from Accokeek, Maryland -- Kate.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Fredricka. Well, the police, you can see, have now cleared the scene, but we are now learning some very troubling details are coming out of what exactly happened overnight and it seems this was a terrible case of someone being at the wrong place at the absolutely wrong time.

They say the Crown Victoria that ended up hitting all these people was traveling northbound, here in Accokeek on this lane, it was an innocent driver just driving on the road, came upon the scene, here at the intersection where the drag racing was occurring, but had very limited visibility because of the smoke and the debris that was kick up when the drag racers started their burnout at the beginning of their race. The driver couldn't see the people through the smoke and that's when the tragedy struck when he hit all those people. Now we know eight people are dead. One eyewitness says that she simply could not believe what was unfolding before her.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CRYSTAL GAINES, FATHER KILLED IN CRASH: Right now it's like a dream to me because I can't believe this happened. You know, you see this stuff on TV, never think it will happen to you, you know? And it happened to me. You know, that's my father over there on the ground, and, you know, friends that I know. You know people, you know. And it was like the people was right there. I was seeing them and now, you know what I mean, they're gone.

I don't know. It just seems like a big dream.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: And that was Crystal Gaines. She was here as the drag race. Her father is one of the eight people that were killed. He was dead on the scene, now police say that they are -- they aren't yet saying if there are any charges that would be pending against the driver of the Crown Victoria. They do say they say they have to take things one step at a time. They do say, they're now looking for the two cars that were involved in the drag race that definitely did have something to do with this horrific accident -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: Kate Bolduan, thanks so much from Accokeek, Maryland.

Well, more bloodshed in Pakistan, two days before the country goes to the polls, 37 people were killed, nearly 100 hurt when a suicide bomb went off in front of a Pakistan People's Party office. That's the opposition party of the late Benazir Bhutto. No one has claimed responsibility. The blast happened in a tribal town in the northwest.

And some pretty severe weather. Stormy across a big chunk of the central U.S., today. Heavy thunderstorms are in the mix from the southern plains states to the lower Mississippi Valley. And some iReport video that came in this morning shows Texas-sized hail near Dallas.

Jacqui Jeras is in the Weather Center and we've been warning all day long that Texas was really going to get nasty stuff and there's part of it.

(WEATHER REPORT)

WHITFIELD: All right, Jacqui, thanks so much for the update, I know you'll be updating us throughout the evening, as well.

And stay with CNN, BALLOT BOWL '08 continues right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

YELLIN: Welcome back to BALLOT BOWL. I'm Jessica Yellin in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where it is in the low 20s, and we are doing what we can to stay warm. We're going to bring you a picture now of Chelsea Clinton, who is on the other side of the world where it's not quite as cold. She is in Hawaii where she's been campaigning for her mom. That state holds a caucus on Tuesday, February 19. It is Barack Obama's home state and expected that he'll do well there, but Chelsea Clinton putting in a stand for her mom trying to get some votes spending time on college campuses where she is quite popular and going for the youth vote.

Quite a gig to get. I'm joined by CNN's Mary Snow who is also here in Milwaukee. Mary, how do we get on that gig?

SNOW: Yeah, and you might want to add that I'm shivering watching this, right? Yeah, how? I think we missed the boat on this one, Jessica. Somehow.

(CROSSTALK)

I am sorry. You're outside. Maybe we should switch places for a little while.

Let me ask you this because one of the things I've observed on the campaign trail is that as this campaign has gotten longer and as we've all gotten a little more tired, the Democrats are chronically late. And by the week, they get later and later, not unusual for Barack Obama and senator Clinton to be two or three hours late to some of these events. And I think it's one of the reasons we see so many people passing out in their events because they're waiting in line for two hours, they get in, they wait another three hours and eventually they give out. I'm wondering, are the Republicans as late as the Democrats?

SNOW: No, and they are taking off this week, so -- weekend, so they aren't late. You know, we haven't seen that as much on the Republican side. And you know, you just mentioned people passing out. We saw that a short time ago watching on BALLOT BOWL, one event with Hillary Clinton, somebody passing out. But also, one of the things that is different as well in the colder states, all kidding aside, some of the times the weather delays the candidates getting around, but I haven't seen as many delays on the Republican side as the Democratic side. We also should point out though, too, another difference is the crowd numbers. When you take a look at the size of the crowds, in the Republican side, you're seeing several hundred people attend some of these events where on the Democratic side, you are seeing several thousand in some instances, right?

YELLIN: Oh yeah, we see many thousands, 2,000 to 3,000, sometimes as many as 18,000 -- huge, huge turnout and excitement on the Democratic side. It's true. I think, Mary, we have to go to a break now, but we will come back after the break with a lot more BALLOT BOWL, so stay tuned.

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