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CNN NEWSROOM

Ballot Bowl '08

Aired March 2, 2008 - 14:00   ET

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


CANDY CROWLEY, HOST: Hi. And welcome to a new edition of CNN's "Ballot bowl '08."
I'm Candy Controly live to you from Cleveland, Ohio. This is your chance to listen to these candidates, Republicans, Democrats, live, sometimes taped, but always unfiltered.

We are, of course, just days away from those Tuesday primaries -- Texas, Ohio, Vermont, Rhode Island. A lot is at stake here. There will be a lot of help, too, for me today.

I want to bring in my colleagues, both Jessica Yellin and Mary Snow, who's been watching the Republican side for us. Both of them in Houston. We want to start with Jessica.

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Candy. Good afternoon.

We have a lot going on this hour. We are going to bring everyone live events from Barack Obama speaking in Westerville, Ohio, and Senator Hillary Clinton holding a rally live in Austintown, Ohio. They are both stumping hard in that state, just days away from the primary. So a lot to look forward to -- Candy.

CROWLEY: Thanks, Jessica.

They are really on a shuttle between Ohio and Texas. There have been some stops in Rhode Island and Vermont, but these delegates really are located in Ohio and Texas. It is really hard to overestimate the stakes here on Tuesday, particularly for Hillary Clinton.

Again, a lot of time spent here in Ohio. Last night, Barack Obama was in Parma Heights. It is because Barack Obama's campaign began on his one central issue, and that is the Iraq war and his opposition to it. It was part of his opening argument. It is always part of his closing argument.

Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I opposed this war in 2002. And I will bring this war to an end in 2009.

I will be careful getting out. Careful getting out, but deliberate getting out. And I don't want to just end the war, I want to end the mindset that got us into war. You know? I want to end the fever of fear, the politics of fear that has driven so much of our domestic and foreign policy over the last several years.

(APPLAUSE)

I want to restore that sense of diplomacy, the power of diplomacy. I said very early in this campaign that I would meet not just with leaders we liked, but leaders we didn't. Not just with our friends, but with our enemies. And many in Washington were skeptical, and, in fact, Senator Clinton and Senator McCain and George Bush have continued to go after me on this.

And I continue to insist on what John F. Kennedy once said, that we should never negotiate out of fear, but we should never fear to negotiate. That strong countries and strong presidents talk to their adversaries and then tell them where America stands.

(APPLAUSE)

And when we do that, when we do that, we will be able to go before the world community once again and say America's back. America's back and we are ready to lead.

And we are ready to lead. We will lead in the battle against terrorism and we will hunt down those who would do us harm. But we are also going to lead on stitching back together a nuclear nonproliferation treaty.

And we will lead on climate change. And we will lead on helping poor countries deal with HIV/AIDS. And we will lead on the genocide in Darfur, bringing that to an end.

(APPLAUSE)

And I want us to lead as well by example on civil liberties and civil rights, which is why we will close Guantanamo and restore habeas corpus and say no to torture and say no to renditions, because you will have a president who has taught the Constitution and believes in the Constitution and will obey the Constitution of the United States of America.

That is the America -- that is the America that I want to restore, an America that believes in fairness and believes in upward mobility and believes in opportunity and believes in responsibility and believes in community. And doesn't just talk about those values but lives them out, practices them, and has a president who is focused -- focused every single day on you.

I am reminded every day, if not by events than by my wife, that I'm not a perfect man. I will not be a perfect president. But I can promise you this: I will always tell you what I think, I will always tell you where I stand, I will be honest with you about the challenges we face. And many of them are going to be difficult.

Anybody who says they're easy is not telling the truth. I will be honest with you about those challenges and the choices we've got to make in order to secure the future for the next generation. I will listen to you even when we disagree. And we're going to disagree sometimes. This is a big, complex country with a lot of contesting interests, and those who would suggest that somehow we're going to agree all the time, that's not going to happen, but we can disagree without being disagreeable. And we can listen and learn from each other.

And most importantly, though, I will wake up every single day thinking about how to make your lives a little bit better, and more importantly, our children and our grandchildren's lives a little bit better if you give me that opportunity.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: Barack Obama last night in Parma Heights, near here in Cleveland.

Interesting, because here in Ohio, both the Democratic candidates have focused largely on the economy. In particular, NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement. Both of them trading barbs about who is the most against it, who would renegotiate that treaty.

Here in Ohio, there is a very anti-NAFTA fervor among voters, many of whom think that NAFTA has lost Ohio thousands of jobs. But in the end, both of them have come back to the central issue of foreign policy.

Hillary Clinton put out an ad called "The Red Phone Ad" in which she said, who do you want to answer that phone at 3:00 -- I'm sorry, at 3:00 a.m. in the morning, as your children are sleeping? The Obama campaign came back saying, as they have all along, the one with the judgment to answer that phone is Barack Obama. So even as they try to court Ohio voters with their economic policies, they have returned to the central issue, of course, of our time, which is foreign policy, the U.S. place in the world, and of course the war on terrorism.

We have some Hillary Clinton right now. She is sort of courting the eastern side of the state at the moment. She is in Austintown, Ohio, and just taken the stage.

Let's give a listen.

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know, in life you get knocked down from time to time. Sometimes, you know, you don't know it's coming.

I remember reading about what happened on Black Monday, when a lot of hard-working people showed up to find the gates to the steel mill they worked in padlocked. They had done everything they were supposed to do. They built America. They gave America the steel it needed to win two world wars, to win the Cold War, and all of a sudden, had a gate slammed in their face with a big lock across it.

Like, you know, you just don't matter anymore. We're picking up and going somewhere else. Well, I have seen in the last weeks the resilience and the grit and the determination of the people in Youngstown and across Ohio. And we're coming back!

(APPLAUSE)

But I think Kelly (ph) would be the first to tell you, as I would tell you, that we are the two people up on this stage but there are so many people behind us. I just had the privilege of meeting Kelly's (ph) dad, Mike.

I know his family's been there for him every step of the way. I know the people he trained with, the people he sparred with, the people here in the community who believed in him and supported him. So he's here and he's the champ, but you could imagine just a team of hundreds, if not thousands, of people supporting him and cheering him on right there behind.

Well, that's what we want to do. That's what we want to do for the comeback for Youngstown and Ohio. We're going to have the whole team, the American team, that's going to be behind you!

(APPLAUSE)

In order to make that team successful, we need a president who gets up every single day and thinks about what to do for all of you.

(APPLAUSE)

We need someone in the White House again who is a fighter! We need a fighter, a doer, and a champion in the White House!

And you know, I want to thank a number of the people who are here, because they have certainly been terrific members of the Youngstown and the greater regional team, and the Ohio team. And we're going to make sure they're part of a winning American team again.

I want to thank David Ditzler, chair of the board of trustees here.

Thank you so much, David.

I want to thank Ralph Infante, the mayor of Niles, Ohio.

I also want to thank some of the people who've come here to campaign with me across the state -- the governor of Delaware Ruth Ann Minner, several members of Congress -- Laura Richardson from California, Eliot Engel and Anthony Weiner from New York -- because they know, too, that we're running a campaign that will give a comeback to places that feel like they've been left behind. And there are too many places like that here in Ohio and across America.

You know, the economy is the number one issue for a reason, because it's not working for hard working middle class families. It's not producing the jobs with the rising incomes that are necessary.

That's why I have focused so much as I've traveled across Ohio, from the north to south, from the east to west, saying, look, we can get this economy going again. We can't do it if we continue the policies of the current administration.

Now, to be totally fair, they work really well if you're wealthy and well connected. They have had a president for the last seven years.

You know, the rich have gotten richer. The middle class has stalled. And people who just pulled themselves out of poverty are falling back in.

So we can't continue on the path we're on. That's one of the big differences between my friend and colleague, Senator McCain and myself. He says he doesn't know much about the economy except he wants to continue Bush policies.

Well, I don't think you have to have a Ph.D. in economics to know that's not the right path for America. Instead, let's be focused on what we're going to do to create those new jobs. And here are three ways we're going to do it.

We're going to get back to having a manufacturing policy in America...

(APPLAUSE)

... because I believe, you know, a country that doesn't make anything can't stay a strong country for long. We've got to begin to rebuild our manufacturing sector.

I think this is not only important for the economy, I think it's important for our national security. I serve on the Senate Armed Services Committee. I personally am not comfortable knowing that we have most of the steel that we buy now coming from other countries like China to build our ships, to build our other important, you know, military aircraft, and all of the tanks, and what we're looking for to keep us a strong nation.

I'm not comfortable with that. I think we've got to start thinking, what is it we have to do to make ourselves secure both militarily and economically? And that requires a strong manufacturing base. So I'm going to start investing in manufacturing, and we're going to get rid of every single...

(APPLAUSE)

We're going to get rid of every single tax break that gives one penny to anybody who exports a job out of the United States of America.

CROWLEY: Hillary Clinton talking about returning the manufacturing base to Ohio, talking about a comeback for Ohio. She may well also be talking about her campaign. So much at stake here in Ohio and Texas for the Clinton campaign.

Barack Obama right now beginning to get ready for a speech in Westerville, Ohio. We will continue to monitor Hillary Clinton. We will take a look at him.

Both of them back right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

YELLIN: Welcome back to "Ballot Bowl."

I'm Jessica Yellin, coming to you from Baba Yega, a brunch hotspot in the Montrose section of Houston, Texas.

This is a liberal stronghold in town. And you will see all over this restaurant folks wearing Obama stickers, folks wearing Clinton stickers, and divided opinions on which one of them will win the Democratic primary in this state on Tuesday.

Now, to help everyone make their decisions on this election, we are bringing you live events from these candidates. We continue to monitor Senator Hillary Clinton, speaking live from Austintown, Ohio, and Barack Obama will be speaking shortly. We'll bring you that one live, too. He's also in Ohio.

For right now, I want to go to CNN's Mary Snow, who is also in Houston, not far from me, and she's been monitoring the McCain campaign.

Mary, what's going on with John McCain this weekend?

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Jessica, he's having a down weekend from the campaign trail. He's having an off-camera briefing with reporters this afternoon in his home state of Arizona. Yesterday he met with a number of senators and supporters.

But really what John McCain has been focusing on, on the campaign trail, despite the fact that Mike Huckabee is the last major Republican contender trying to chip away at Senator John McCain, it is inevitable in terms of the math that John McCain is clearly on his way to becoming Republican nominee. And you get -- clearly get that sense when he's been on the campaign trail in terms of the things that he's been talking about, and taking on the Democrats, particularly Senator Barack Obama, when it comes to issues of national security.

But also, you know, we just heard a few minutes ago Senator Clinton talking about Senator McCain and the economy. She was criticizing him for once saying that the economy was not his strong suit, and that is something that Senator McCain has really been trying to fight back on.

Earlier this week he was in Round Rock, Texas, talking to supporters. He mentioned a number of things, particularly the economy. And here is Senator John McCain on the campaign trail here in Texas earlier this week.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am confident in long-term but I would add that's small comfort to some of the families he mentioned a number of things particularly the economy and here is senator John McCain on the campaign trail here in Texas earlier this week. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am confident in the long term, but I hasten to add that is small comfort to some of these families and businesses and others who have lost manufacturing jobs overseas. And we do have an obligation, and that obligation I think, first of all, for the workers who have been laid off and lost their jobs, that probably will not be coming back, is to provide education and traing programs for them to make them eligible to come to work here, to work here, and the other high-tech corporations all over this nation. And we have that obligation to them.

Well, how do you do it? Well, first of all, the displaced worker programs that are in place today don't work. OK? They don't work.

They were designed and the unemployment insurance programs were designed for the '50s, when there would be an economic downturn, someone would lose their job, and the economy would come back and they would go back to the same job anymore. We know that's not the case. We know what kind of revolution this nation is in. We need to go to the community colleges and have them design and implement training programs and education programs so that they can work here, so that they can work and take part in this high-tech revolution, this information technology revolution that we're in.

My friends, I study history. The last time there was a revolution it was called the industrial evolution, and we left people behind, and that's the way things were then. We can't do that today.

We can't tell a worker in their 30s or 40s or even their 50s that their life is finished as far as being able to have gainful and meaningful employment. So I think that has to be our first priority.

The second thing, my friends, is that we don't want Americans to experience either businesses or families experience the impact of a tax increase. That will happen if we don't make the tax cuts permanent.

(APPLAUSE)

We have got to make those tax cuts permanent so that we don't experience a tax increase.

And let me just mention something else that I know a lot of you know very well. Do you -- and I'm sure you know this, but I'm not sure how many Americans are aware that American corporations pay the second highest taxes of any nation in the world.

The highest-taxed corporate taxes in the world are paid in Japan. That's not exactly the role model, obviously. So sometimes businesses and corporations leave the United States of America, take them -- those corporations, and they take workers and jobs and business with them.

So we need to cut the corporate tax rate in America. It's not a very sexy kind of a thing, but it's real, because we want to keep jobs and corporations in the United States of America.

There's a lot of other things we need to do.

We need to accelerate depreciation. We need to do a whole lot of things. But I also think that one of the areas that we have to focus our attention on today is the amount of money we are paying for imported oil.

My friends, we are spending $400 billion a year now, with oil over $1 00 a barrel, sending that money to countries that are not -- that don't like us very much. And some of that $400 billion will end up in the hands of terrorists organizations, and that's a fact. It's half of our trade deficit.

So we have to make a national priority out of eliminating over time our absolute dependence on imported oil. We can do it with wind, solar -- unleash the technological capability of America to develop green technologies. Green technologies, I believe, are vital because of climate change, as well as our dependence on foreign oil.

And by the way, one of those is nuclear as well. We have to go to nuclear power if we're going to really eliminate some of our dependence, but also reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

My friends, the United States Navy has sailed ships around the world for 60 years with nuclear power plants on them. We've never had a big problem. It's a matter of whether we're going to reprocess or whether we're going to store the spent nuclear fuel. And we can do it. It's just a matter of national will.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SNOW: There you have it, Senator John McCain speaking earlier this week in Round Rock, Texas. And he also was talking about, you know, as we hear about the possibility of $4 a gallon for gasoline, he's talking about cutting the dependence on foreign oil, and also on what to do to boost the economy.

He has been a strong advocate. Every time you ask him about the economy, about cutting government spending, he believes that will ultimately be a big boost for the economy. But there you just heard him laying out a couple of other ideas, including corporate taxes, the need for cutting corporate taxes.

Those are some of the economic plans that Senator John McCain has been outlining, but clearly as we saw this week, Jessica, he is certainly focusing on national security as he looks ahead to the general election.

YELLIN: Yes, certainly the economy and national security, the two top issues for voters in this election.

And Mary, we'll check back in with you in a little while. We know you have a lot of insight into the Huckabee campaign, which you've also been following. So we'll talk to you about that later in the hour. Also coming up, we have live events from Senator Clinton which we are monitoring, and we're waiting for Barack Obama to take the stage. Both of them in the crucial primary state of Ohio.

We'll bring you more from both of them after this break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: Welcome back to this new edition of "Ballot Bowl '08."

It is, of course, Sunday, just two days away from very crucial primaries. There are actually four states involved. We have talked a lot about Ohio and Texas, but there are also primaries in Rhode Island and in Vermont.

These, of course, always key, because there is about 100-delegate difference between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. So all of these states will play a part because, as they say, every delegate counts.

So we want to kind of move on here and show you what the state of play is right now, just actually a day before -- since the elections are on Tuesday -- a day before these important primaries.

I want to bring in our Bill Schneider, who is in Rhode Island taking a look at things for us there.

Bill, we do these poll of polls, so first just give us a quick primer on what the poll of polls is, and then let's talk about -- first about Ohio first.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: OK.

The poll of polls shows in both Texas and Ohio we've got a couple very, very close races. How tight is it?

In Ohio, Hillary Clinton is ahead, but only by single digits now. She had been leading by much bigger margins. The latest round of polls shows an average of Clinton with 48 percent, Obama, 43.

That's just a 5-point margin, but notice, nine percent of the voters remain undecided. Likely voters in the Democratic primary have not made up their minds. That is almost twice as large as Clinton's margin over Obama. So, among late deciders, this race could go either way.

And in Texas, again, a very tight one, even tighter than in Ohio. The poll of polls in Texas shows Obama averaging 47, Clinton 45, with 8 percent undecided. So, again, those undecided voters making up their minds in the last couple of days could easily swing these races one way or the other.

CROWLEY: So, Bill, when you look at those undecideds, can you look back at the primaries we've had so far? And is there any hint -- because it seems to me there were a lot of people that were undecided up until the day they voted. Where do those late breakers generally go, or has there been a pattern? SCHNEIDER: There has not really been one pattern. There's really been two.

In New Hampshire, they went to Hillary Clinton. And she's hoping they'll do that again here in Rhode Island and in other states. But then in most of the recent primaries, the late-breaking voters have tended to go to Barack Obama because he had the momentum.

Generally, late-breaking voters do go with the momentum, but Hillary Clinton is hoping that the momentum has shifted in the last week or so in her favor. So they could go either way.

CROWLEY: Now, we've seen sometimes, at least in past elections, I know, that something that happens late, or some new tact by a campaign, can move those numbers. And you know, we've seen, certainly over the weekend, those new "Red Phone" ads, the -- first the Hillary Clinton ad, and then the Barack Obama ad. Are those sorts of things likely to change the minds of late-breakers, or is it simply kind of a gut feeling?

Do you have any way to kind of categorize that?

SCHNEIDER: You can't really measure it, but I can offer this observation -- this is a primary. In a primary, there are often no strong brand-name loyalties like there is in a race between a Democrat and a Republican. So a lot of voters could go either way.

In fact, you talk to Democrats and they say, you know, I could vote for either one of them. I talk to Democrats all the time who are, say, Clinton supporters. I just spoke to one here in Providence who said, "I'd be very happy with Barack Obama as president."

So, you find a lot of voters who could go either way, and that means last-minute ads like these round of "Red Phone" ads that have been run by both Clinton and Obama, Clinton's show of emotion at the last minute in New Hampshire, those sorts of things can move voters because they're not tied to a party loyalty.

CROWLEY: Bill Schneider in Providence, Rhode Island, watching things there for us. Hopefully we'll get back to you, Bill. I want to talk about the Republican race at some point. But right now, sticking with the Democrats.

We expect that Barack Obama will take the stage at some point soon. He is in Westerville, Ohio. It's a suburb of Columbus.

We will be monitoring him and, of course, all of the candidates that are out there today.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

YELLIN: Welcome back to "Ballot Bowl."

I'm Jessica Yellin, coming to you from Houston, Texas. Right now we are monitoring two events in the states of Ohio, the other big state voting on Tuesday. Both Senator Barack Obama and Senator Hillary Clinton are holding events there at this hour.

Right now, West Virginia senator Jay Rockefeller, who has just endorsed Barack Obama, is speaking. Today he has been giving just absolutely glowing praise for Barack Obama at his events, calling him unflappable, saying, "I believe in his brilliance. I believe in his character and his honesty, his integrity. I very much want him to be elected president of the United States."

High praise from the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee. That's Jay Rockefeller.

We will bring you Obama's comments live once he begins. But while we monitor both those events, I want to bring in again our Mary Snow, who is also here near me in Houston.

Mary, you have been following the Huckabee campaign. Tell us a little bit about the status of his race right now.

SNOW: Well, you know, Jessica, he was here this morning in Houston. He went to a church service, and then he also spoke with reporters.

He is vowing to stay in this race and keep on fighting until a Republican candidate, most likely Senator John McCain because he is so close to it, gets 1,191 delegates. But despite pressure on Mike Huckabee to step aside, he has said he doesn't understand the rush, he is going to stay in this. And he believes that he has a good shot in Texas because of the social conservative stronghold here in the state.

Also today, you know, "The Dallas Morning News" reiterated its endorsement of Mike Huckabee, saying they acknowledge that mathematically, it is impossible for him to win, but they endorsed him back in December, and again today said that they believe that a vote for Mike Huckabee is a vote for the investment of the Republican Party's future.

They also point out, while Senator McCain, they say, has a good, strong record on fiscal responsibility, the environment, some examples, "The Dallas Morning News" writes that it has pause about Senator McCain, noting his age -- he is 71 years old -- also his temperament, saying that it differs from what it calls the sunny side brand of conservatism offered by Mike Huckabee.

Mike Huckabee, of course, welcoming that reendorsement again today. Yesterday, he tried to bring focus to a couple of different issues, including his push for a fair tax. He was in Laredo, Texas, yesterday. Here's what Mike Huckabee had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE HUCKABEE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: People in Texas, first of all, need a choice next Tuesday. I know there are some who would have suggested that I had simply left the field and ended this contest before it ever happened. Now, I personally think that nothing could be more insulting to Texans than to suggest that their choice in the Republican primary would be already made for them before it ever came here. That it would be made by people who live in New York and New Jersey and California and Delaware and Connecticut.

Texas is the largest Republican state in this country. And to suggest that they don't even get to help pick that presidential nominee is absurd. And frankly, I think it's the most unrepublican thing I ever heard of.

One of the reasons that we're continuing through Texas is I think the people of this state, particularly a state that has a long history of being conservative, ought to be able to vote for somebody who is truly pro-life, who supports the Human Life Amendment -- and I'm the only candidate who does -- who supports an ending of federal funding for human embryonic stem-cell research -- and I'm the only candidate who does -- who supports the fair tax -- and I'm the only candidate who does -- who supports strong, secure, controlled borders and no amnesty policy -- and I'm the only one who does -- and who really does believe that we have got to make some changes in direction of our country and that we're needing to look at the future, not the past.

We need to be part that says let's be the party of the future. The party for people who are 18 to 30 and 35 to 50, those who frankly have a lot to gain or lose by who the next president is and the policies they put in place.

Finally, I'm the only person in the race with chief executive experience, the only person without a Washington address who actually has balanced a budget, lowered taxes, created jobs, lowered the unemployment rate, raised the per capita income in his state. Those are things that people in Houston and people across this country need. Nobody else has the experience of doing that.

QUESTION: Governor, you often talk about Texas as being the most conservative state in the country, and obviously you have staked a lot on Texas coming up to Tuesday. You're doing as well in Texas as you are in Ohio. Does that surprise you?

HUCKABEE: Doing as well in Texas as Ohio?

QUESTION: Numbers show that you have about the same numbers in Ohio as Texas.

HUCKABEE: We'll see Tuesday how it works. I think, you know, we're going to surprise people. I may get surprised.

But right now I think if people are expecting us to lose, they will be the ones surprised.

We expect to win. And we still think that there is momentum building in this campaign. I think Texans are very independent people, they're not just taking their cues from the national news media and the pundits. And I'm just trusting and hoping and believing that when we get to Tuesday and the votes come in, we're going to win. QUESTION: On the fair tax, Governor, you know, in Texas we don't have an income tax. We depend on sales taxes and property taxes. And I went in that room and there were all those Republicans. I doubt I'd find one who told me (INAUDIBLE).

So, using a sales tax, can you explain, is it just a slogan or is it really fair? I mean...

HUCKABEE: No, it's totally fair, because you only pay when you choose to pay, when you choose to buy something that's new at the retail level. But you're not assessed a penalty for your productivity.

Under the current tax system, if you work one shift, you pay a certain level of tax on a percentage. If you work the second shift, it throws you in another tax bracket. You actually lose more of your pay by working harder.

Now, common sense says what you reward you get more of. What you penalize, you get less of.

When you penalize people for working hard, you know, it does have a negative affect on economic growth. And the fact is the consumption tax -- it's really not a sales tax, it's a consumption tax paid to the point of consumption -- is fairest of all, because people who have more pay more, people who don't -- but the best thing about the fair tax -- and a lot of people have never read the provision -- is the (INAUDIBLE) provision which untaxes the poor and untaxes those on a fixed income. And the empowerment in the fair tax is actually a progressive empowerment to the people at the bottom of the economy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And Ladies and Gentlemen, I would be happy to answer any other questions on the fair tax. The governor has three minutes to get on "Hannity and Colmes."

HUCKABEE: The final question.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

HUCKABEE: What's that?

QUESTION: How long have you been...

HUCKABEE: Well, this is a petition they're just starting. I have more than adequately supported the fair tax.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SNOW: That was Mike Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas, yesterday in Laredo, Texas, making the case why he should still stay in this race vying for the Republican nomination. And there you heard him talking about the fair tax.

He was the only presidential candidate to embrace the idea of having a fair tax and abolish the IRS. A number of economists have really questioned it, but Mike Huckabee has stood firm on advocating a fair tax to help the economy. That is one of his issues. And yesterday in Laredo, Texas, also, he was talking about border security. He is hoping that border security will be an issue that will help him gain support here in Texas, where illegal immigration, of course, is such a big issue. He is trying to really cut into some discontent among conservatives who were angry at Senator John McCain for endorsing the illegal immigration reform bill.

But as far as Mike Huckabee, we've talked so many times about the fact that he is really facing the odds with the math. He says at this point, in terms of his future, he is not going to deciding his future, his future will be decided for him -- Jessica.

YELLIN: All right, Mary. And quite a nice boost for him today with that endorsement from "The Dallas Morning News." You read some of that earlier.

That same paper endorsed Barack Obama today. And we will read some of that to you. And we will also take to you Barack Obama's live event in Westerville, Ohio, just outside Columbus, Ohio.

That's coming up on the other side of this break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: Hi. And welcome back to CNN's "Ballot Bowl," the Sunday edition.

I'm Candy Crowley, coming to you live from Cleveland. We're actually at Cleveland State University, not as random as it seems. We are expecting Hillary Clinton here later and -- earlier this evening, actually. So we will be covering her. As always, we are after all of these candidates.

Both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are in Ohio today. Obviously a very important state for both of them. Probably more so for Hillary Clinton, who needs to try to break Barack Obama's momentum. He has, of course, won 11 primaries and caucuses in a row.

At any rate, this is your chance to hear these candidates live, sometimes taped, always unfiltered. And that's why we want to take you now to Westerville, Ohio, and Barack Obama.

Let's take a listen.

(APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: This is what's been happening in Washington at a time when we have got greater income disparity than any time since the first year of the Great Depression. At a time when some CEOs are making more in 10 minutes than ordinary workers are making in an entire year. When typical family incomes have dropped, inflation-adjusted dollars, by $1,000 over the last seven years. Wages are flat, jobs are moving overseas, and we've never paid more for health care, energy or college.

It's a time when we've never saved less. The average family is saving $400 per year. And we've never owed more. The average family has $8,000 in credit card debt.

At a time like this, the American people need real change. The kind of change that's more about just switching parties in the White House.

They need a change in politics, a leader who can end the divisions in Washington so we can stop talking about the challenges that we face and actually start doing something about them. A leader who does not defend lobbyists, but who sees them as part of the problem, who will carry your voices to the White House every single day.

That's why I'm running now, this time, for president of the United States of America.

(APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: Now, I have -- I've laid out a comprehensive economic plan aimed at keeping America's promise. The idea that our prosperity can and must be a tide that lifts all boats, that we rise or fall as one nation, that our economy is strongest when the middle class grows and opportunity is spread as widely as possible.

We outlined this plan in a book that everybody I hope received on your way in. Not my book. That would cost $25.

(LAUGHTER)

We should have given you a booklet. I don't see it in people's -- there I see one and another. Hopefully we'll have more to distribute on the way out.

We'll start by addressing -- just to describe what's in this economic plan. We're going to start by addressing the cost crisis that so many families are going through, the fact that even though wages have been stagnant, people's expenses keep going up and up and up.

And we want to make sure that we're making day-to-day life a little more affordable for the average person. So, we're going to -- the centerpiece of this is a middle class tax cut. A genuine middle class tax cut that will provide relief to 95 percent of working Americans.

(APPLAUSE)

This is a tax cut -- a tax cut that we pay in full by closing corporate loopholes and shutting down tax savings. So we're not adding to the deficit. We are shifting tax breaks away from some of these companies, giving them to the hard-working Americans that deserve them that will be worth up to $1,000 per family per year. And we're also going to eliminate incomes taxing for those who are making -- those senior citizens who are making $50,000 a year or less because they're on fixed incomes, they're already having a tough time making ends meet. That will save them additional money.

(APPLAUSE)

And I don't intend to raise the minimum wage every 10 years. I intend to raise the minimum wage to keep pace with inflation, because if you work in this country, you should not be poor. And that will be a goal I set when I'm president of the United States of America.

(APPLAUSE)

Next on the list of rising costs is health care. It's gone up astronomically over the last seven years for the average family that has health insurance.

So my universal health care plan brings down costs of health care more than any other plan that's out there. And we're going to save the typical family who already has health insurance an average of $2,500 on their premiums, every family, every year. And if you don't have health insurance, if you're self-employed, if you are temporarily employed, if your employer does not provide health insurance, or if the health insurance you're getting just isn't very good, you're going to be able to buy into a health care plan that is as good as the health care I have as a member of Congress.

Nobody will be excluded for preexisting conditions. We're going to emphasize prevention so we've got a health care system instead of a disease care system.

(APPLAUSE)

We're going to negotiate -- we will negotiate with the drug companies for the cheapest available price on drugs, and we will not wait 20 years from now to do this or 10 years from now to do this. We're going to do it by the end of my first term as president of the United States of America.

(APPLAUSE)

I want to make college affordable for every American. And so we're putting forward a $4,000 tuition credit. Every student, every year, we'll cover about two-thirds of the cost of public college or university.

Now, students, you will have to give back something in return. You're going to have to participate in community service, work in a veterans home, work in a homeless shelter, join the Peace Corps, join the Foreign Service. We'll invest in you, you invest in America. Together we're going to march this country forward.

(APPLAUSE)

And finally, we want to help families get out of the debt spiral that so many people are in. You know, it's going to start with dealing with this home foreclosure crisis that we have seen all across Ohio and all across America.

I've put forward a $10 billion home foreclosure prevention fund. We're going to help families who have been hoodwinked by deceptive practices and predatory loans so that they can work out the terms, stay in their home, keep paying their mortgage.

It's absolutely critical not just to those families, but to entire communities that can be devastated if you keep on seeing home foreclosures. You know, if your neighbor forecloses, that affects your property values. That affects entire neighborhoods. It will eventually affect how well you can fund your schools.

So, this is something that we have to work with state and local governments on, and I've got a comprehensive plan to do it. But that's not the only debt that we have been seeing out here.

I've already mentioned, the average person has $8,000 in credit card debt. Much of this debt is just people trying to send their kids to college.

CROWLEY: Senator Barack Obama in Westerville, Ohio. He is live. We will continue to monitor him. Obviously talking about those kitchen table issues so very important here in Ohio, with its large demographic of working class and union voters.

We will watch him, we will watch Hillary Clinton.

We will be back, "Ballot Bowl," at 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

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