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GOP Game Plan: Huckabee Out, Backing McCain; Obama, Clinton Fight On

Aired March 5, 2008 - 11:01   ET

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


TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: And good morning again, everyone. You're with CNN. You're informed.
I'm Tony Harris.

HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Hi there, everybody. I'm Heidi Collins.

Developments keep coming into the CNN NEWSROOM on Wednesday, the 5th of march.

Here's what's on the rundown.

Hillary Clinton wins three of four. Who voted for her, what issues drove the elections, and what now? The anatomy of victory.

HARRIS: He lost his momentum, but he kept the delegate lead, and the Obama campaign says no way can Hillary Clinton catch up.

COLLINS: John McCain clinches the Republican nomination. Today, he is White House bound.

An expected presidential endorsement -- in the NEWSROOM.

Presidential politics. Who's in, who's out, and what's next?

Democrat Hillary Clinton mounts a comeback and keeps her campaign alive. She won three out of four contests last night. And, some would argue, wrestled away the momentum from Barack Obama.

He went into yesterday's primaries with 11 wins in a row, began the night winning Vermont, but lost Rhode Island, Texas, and Ohio. Obama says he still leads where it matters, and that's the delegate count.

According to CNN estimates, he has 86 more delegates than Clinton. But a big question today -- can either Democrat get enough delegates to clinch the nomination?

The Republican race all but over. John McCain swept all four of last night's primaries to become his party's presumptive nominee. He cruised past the 1,191 delegates needed. Once those results came in, challenger Mike Huckabee dropped out.

CNN is your home for politics, and we're gearing up again today. CNN correspondents are scattered across the country to study the results and show you where things go from here.

HARRIS: Let's hear from the Democrats. His streak snapped, but Barack Obama still vows to win the Democratic nomination. In an interview on CNN's "AMERICAN MORNING," Obama talked about the race ahead. He also responded to Clinton's ad touting her ability to handle a middle-of-the-night crisis call.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: She's yet to cite what experience, in fact, prepares her for that 3:00 a.m. phone call. When her advisers were asked about it, there was a deafening silence.

You know, so it was a clever ad, but the bottom line is, is that the most important foreign policy call that she's had to make since she's been in public office was whether or not to follow George Bush into Iraq. And she made the wrong decision. So, I'm looking forward to having that debate because, in fact, Senator Clinton hasn't cited any particular experience that makes her prepared to make that -- to make that call.

We went into Texas and Ohio down 20 points. We had won 11 straight. Senator Clinton decided that they could only contest in these two state where she had an advantage, and she did well. But as I said before, we emerged with the same delegate gap between her and me that we had essentially before we got in.

And so, you know, we have constantly focused on the next states in front of us. We've got Wyoming and Mississippi this week. We think we'll do well, and then we go on to Pennsylvania and the other states that follow.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS: Obama says his campaign will keep focusing on the issues that matter to voters.

COLLINS: Hillary Clinton with momentum on her side this morning. Clinton says more and more voters are realizing she'd be the best president and commander in chief. Also on CNN's "AMERICAN MORNING," Clinton talked about responding to a crisis, a point she drove home with that 3:00 a.m. phone call ad. She admits there's not a specific example where she was the go-to person.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There isn't any way that anyone who's not been president, but, you know, the administration sent me to war-torn zones. I was the first person from the Bush -- from the Clinton administration to go into Bosnia after the Dayton Peace Accords. You know, I went Macedonia and sat down with their government and negotiated opening up that border.

There are a lot of examples. But it is not just one thing. You know, Senator Obama's whole campaign is about a speech he gave 2002, and of course by 2004 he even backed way from his fervent antiwar sentiments and said he wasn't sure how he would have voted, and he actually agreed with the way George Bush was conducting the war.

Well, I think what's important here is that this campaign has turned a corner. It is now about who is strongest against the Republican nominee, John McCain.

You know, people who voted a month ago didn't know who the Republican nominee was going to be. They didn't perhaps factor in that will be about national security, because, indeed, with Senator McCain, that's what it will be about.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: Clinton says her win in Ohio is especially significant. She said the Democrats can not win the White House without Ohio.

HARRIS: The GOP game plan -- Mike Huckabee is out but firmly behind his party's presumptive nominee.

CNN's Mary Snow, there she is, in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Mary, good to see you.

What is next for -- we can say it now, he's out of the race -- the very likable Mike Huckabee?

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. You know, Tony, a new day, a new phase of the race for the White House.

Mike Huckabee saying he's going to be huddling with his team here in Little Rock as he winds down his campaign. For the future, he says he's not ruling anything out, and he's given his political blessing, so to speak, to Senator John McCain, endorsing him, saying he'll do what he can to help him. Senator McCain, on the other hand, on his way to the White House right now, where he is going to be accepting the endorsement of President Bush.

And, you know, you just heard Senator Clinton say that John McCain is going to make national security a key issue in this campaign. He talked about it last night as he tries to portray the Democratic challengers right now as unfit to lead the nation. Here's what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: America is at war in two countries and involved in a long and difficult fight with violent extremists who despise us, our values, and modernity itself. It is of little use for Americans for their candidates to avoid the many complex challenges of these struggles by relitigating decisions of the past.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SNOW: Now, John McCain can expect help from Mike Huckabee. Exactly the form of that we don't know at this point, but Mike Huckabee says he'll do what he can to help his former rival.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE HUCKABEE (R), FMR. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We'll be working on doing everything we can to help Senator McCain and to help our party, to help those who run for the Senate and the Congress, because there are many battles this year that we need not just to fight, we need to win them for our country's sake and our future's sake.

(APPLAUSE)

It's time -- it's time for us to hit the reset button.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SNOW: Now, will that reset button include another political race in the future? He says he's not ruling anything out, when asked about whether or not he'll try again in 2012. He says he will (ph) do one thing, and that is run for Senate. He said he has made that clear that he will not do that -- Tony.

HARRIS: All right. Mary Snow, part of the best political team on television, in Little Rock, Arkansas, for us this morning.

Mary, thank you.

And stay with CNN for unmatched political coverage throughout the day. We have much more on the candidates and what happens next.

Join us for CNN "Ballot Bowl" today, noon Eastern.

(WEATHER REPORT)

COLLINS: Democrats still slugging it out. Ahead, to the next primary battleground, coming up in the NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: Welcome back, everyone. I'm Tony Harris, and you are in the CNN NEWSROOM.

Young people looking for a change this election.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know, I remember when President Bush was elected and everybody said, OK, now we're in trouble.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS: They're interested but not voting. Iranians energized by the U.S. election.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLLINS: Back now to our big story this morning. The first, we want to make sure that you understand why we have all of this -- what we call the Ticker going on, because obviously there is still a caucus going on in Texas. So we're just keeping all those numbers up so you can keep track of that, along with us.

Meanwhile, as you know by now, Hillary Clinton, three big wins last night. Barack Obama takes Vermont and holds on to the lead in the delegate count. But buckle up. It is a long and winding road to Pennsylvania.

Earlier, we heard from Mary Frances Berry, former chairwoman of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, and Robert Traynham, Washington bureau chief of CN8, the Comcast network.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS: Let's start with some of these exit polls. And one of them that was very interesting, undeniably, was that for White men from both Texas and Ohio last night. Let's compare them, as you see on the screen there, to Wisconsin just two weeks ago. I mean, huge, huge difference here.

What is it that swayed these men and gave Hillary the wins -- go ahead.

MARY FRANCES BERRY, UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA: I think it's in part the "Red Phone" commercial...

COLLINS: Really?

BERRY: ... which reminded them of commander in chief issue. And I think that many of them decided that if they had to choose between one or the other, that in a sort of visceral response, that they would go for that.

I also think that for some of them it might have been race. I don't know. It depends -- some of the data seems to show that. But I really think the "Red Phone" ad tilted it in the last days.

I think the NAFTA issue hurt in Ohio with Obama when the questions were raised about how strongly he was in favor of changing NAFTA. That surfaced in the last few days. So I think all of these things helped.

ROBERT TRAYNHAM, CN8, THE COMCAST NETWORK: You know, Heidi, it depends on the state. If you're in Ohio, manufacturing and the economy is a big deal to you.

COLLINS: Absolutely.

TRAYNHAM: There's no question about it that obviously helped Senator Clinton. Her message over the last four or five days was all about the economy.

Mary is right, the 3:00 a.m. ad probably helped her, there's no question about it. But in Texas, remember, there's -- 24 percent of the electorate in Texas is Hispanic.

Hillary Clinton has a very long -- deep, long history with Hispanic and Latino voters not only in Texas, but all across the country. So, those are the issues, whether it be immigration or whether it be the economy, that really put Hillary Clinton over the top.

COLLINS: But you know, going in to this whole thing, there were still some undecided voters out there, obviously, and that, too, is an interesting exit poll to look at. We'll put that one on the screen for you for our late-deciding voters, if you will.

Look at this now. When did you decide your vote? Well, these were the folks who decided within the last three days. You see the percentages there.

What do these numbers say to you, Mary?

BERRY: I think that they say, as I've said before, the "Red Phone" ad in the last few days.

COLLINS: You really think that sewed it up, huh?

BERRY: What happened in the last few days -- you've got a lot of folks in Texas who are military types. There are a lot of military bases, people have a lot of families that are there. A lot of the poorer communes out in the rural areas, there are a lot of people in the service.

I think that sort of was a wake-up call for some of them, the fact that they decided as late deciders. What happened in the late period there before the vote was that ad and Hillary coming out and being feisty and the fighter and all the rest of it. And so I think that they sort of were reminded of these issues and that's what tilted them.

TRAYNHAM: You know, Heidi, I think it was two things. I think Mary is right, it was the 3:00 a.m. ad, the economy. But also one other quick thing.

I think -- you know, Hillary Clinton has always been portrayed as more substantive than Barack Obama. She went on "Saturday Night Live," she did "The Daily Show," she did some other things out there that kind of portrayed...

COLLINS: Wait. Wait. That makes you more substantive?

BERRY: Yes -- come one.

TRAYNHAM: Let me finish. But my point is -- my point is, is that -- is that the press at least perceived -- the press has always been a little bit lighter on Barack Obama as opposed to Hillary Clinton. She used that to her advantage.

Over the last four or five days, she's been crisscrossing the country in all these youth-oriented shows, if you will, talking about her substance, talking about her experience, and also lampooning the press. I actually think that has something to do with it as well.

COLLINS: OK. Listen, I want to go ahead and bring up some of the sound from Senator Obama from last night and then get your comment right after. Let's listen for a moment.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: And we know this -- no matter what happens tonight, we have nearly the same delegate lead as we did this morning, and we are on our way to winning this nomination.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: Mary, are they really the same place?

BERRY: Right. I think that's ridiculous, what he just said. And the media keeps buying into it. Neither one of these candidates have enough votes and will have enough at the end of pledged delegates to get the nomination.

COLLINS: I don't know if we're buying into it.

BERRY: If you look at the numbers...

COLLINS: I think we're seeing how interesting that is going to make things.

BERRY: It's interesting, and it's going to go to the convention, I think.

COLLINS: It is.

TRAYNHAM: Well, Heidi...

BERRY: But, in fact, there are not enough votes left among pledged delegates for anybody to win the nomination. One person is going to be ahead, one is going to be behind. It's going to come down to the superdelegates.

TRAYNHAM: Well, Heidi, what Senator Obama said last night was a disingenuous statement. That was half the truth.

The truth is, is that, mathematically, he is correct, he is still ahead. However, if you take a look at some of the states that Senator Clinton has won -- California, New jersey, Ohio, Texas, potentially Pennsylvania on April 22nd -- she will now make the argument to the superdelegates that she can win these big, major states, not just in the primary, but in the general election.

BERRY: And there's another point to be made. The states that he won, the red states, many of them haven't voted Democratic since 1964, and in the general election.

COLLINS: Yes.

BERRY: And so, it's going to be hard-pressed for him to claim against the point Bob just made that, in fact, he is the person who should be more acceptable to the superdelegates. But it's going to come down to the superdelegates, because nobody will have enough at the end.

COLLINS: And I think we kind of talked about that very early on in this whole contest, the importance of the superdelegates.

Listen, I wonder if I can get you guys to very quickly tell me, put yourself as a campaign manager for each one of these candidates and tell me what you do.

And Robert, I'm going to start with you.

TRAYNHAM: You have people like John Glenn, Bill Clinton, and some other folks work the phones behind the scenes, and say, you know what...

COLLINS: For which candidate?

TRAYNHAM: ... I can still win.

COLLINS: OK. Which candidate were you speaking of?

TRAYNHAM: I'm sorry, Hillary Clinton.

COLLINS: OK. And what would you do for Barack Obama?

TRAYNHAM: Barack Obama, I would still work behind the scenes and say, I can win this general election as well. However, the strategy is a little bit different.

You know, Hillary Clinton has still got to make the case that she has the momentum on her side from a fundraising standpoint, but also from a grassroots standpoint. Time is on her side between now and April 22nd to actually make that case to the superdelegates.

COLLINS: Mary?

BERRY: And if I were Obama, I would argue -- I wouldn't argue that superdelegates ought to go with their state, because then I would lose Kennedy -- Ted Kennedy and John Kerry and Deval Patrick, and I wouldn't want to lose them since Clinton won Massachusetts.

But I would do is hit hard back at her on the Iraq vote again. I'd keep doing that, showing that I could be commander in chief. And I would talk quietly to the superdelegates about whatever strategy I had for, I could be the candidate who can beat John McCain.

And if I were Clinton, what I would do is keep hitting hard at him about inconsistencies. I'd keep hitting hard at him about the trial in Chicago. I'd keep hitting hard at him about the commander in chief and his lack of substance, and that's what I would do right through here.

COLLINS: And then in the end, join the ticket and go for it all together? BERRY: Right. Have both of them on the ticket, huh?

COLLINS: Yes. Who knows.

TRAYNHAM: Well, Heidi, that's the dream ticket. I mean, that's what a lot of Democrats on the left side really want.

COLLINS: Maybe. Maybe.

We will have to wait to hear what the people have to say about that.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS: Robert Traynham and Mary Frances Berry in that discussion there.

The next test in the presidential campaign, Wyoming this weekend and Mississippi on Tuesday.

HARRIS: Outside it's a war zone. Inside, it's a play land. An escape for Iraqi children, a hope for all Iraqis.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLLINS: Hormones to treat menopause. First, they were considered miracle drugs, and then doctors said they could be dangerous. It has been confusing. Now results are in for the follow- up to a landmark hormone study.

CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, explained it to me just a little while ago.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: That was the question they were trying to answer in this particular study, so they followed women three years after they stopped taking the hormones and asked the question, or tried to figure out the answer to the question, are they still at risk?

Take a look at the numbers. Pretty interesting here.

If you stopped taking the hormones but did take them for a period of time, you had a 27 percent increased risk of breast cancer as compared to women who never took hormone replacement therapy. Heidi, I think it's worth pointing out, this study was of thousands of people. The absolute numbers are still very small, about 79 women developing breast cancer versus 60, so small numbers.

They also looked at heart disease, blood clots and strokes. It did increase the risk of heart attacks a little bit, but overall there was a higher risk of blood clots and strokes.

So, still, if you look at risks, if you look at rewards, there are greater risks than rewards. That's been the message I think doctors have been saying all along. And it continues now. What they say is, take the smallest dose for the shortest amount of time if you are suffering from the awful symptoms of menopause.

COLLINS: Yes. And one of them that a lot of women talk about are hot flashes, and they kind of think that now maybe they're just nuisance symptoms? I mean, so why risk it?

GUPTA: You know what a hot flash is? A hot flash basically is a burst of adrenaline through your body.

Men have actually suffered this as well. Women have it most during menopause, but it's that hot flash through your body. People get that sometimes when they're nervous, or they're scared. Obviously it can be debilitating if it happens all the time.

There are some sort of more natural or less medical sort of alternatives. You know, just wearing layered clothing, for example. Avoiding triggers -- for example, spicy food, caffeine, alcohol. Exercise and relaxation, sometimes easier said than done, Heidi.

COLLINS: Yes, much.

GUPTA: But these are some options.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARRIS: And still to come, a lunchtime endorsement on the White House menu today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN: We make the future better than the past. We don't hide from history. We make history.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS: John McCain closes the deal with Republicans.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: Here we go. Bottom of the hour. Welcome back, everyone, to the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Tony Harris.

COLLINS: Hi there, everybody. I'm Heidi Collins.

McCain clinches, Clinton stages a comeback, Obama counts on the delegates. Presidential politics, where things stand this hour. Because it could be different next hour. The Democratic nomination still up in the air after Tuesday's primaries. But Hillary Clinton got her campaign back on track with crucial wins in Texas, Ohio and Rhode Island. Clinton told supporters this nation's coming back, and so is this campaign. Clinton snapped Barack Obama's streak of 11 straight wins. He racked up number 12 in Vermont. Obama congratulated Clinton on her victories, but says he's still ahead where it matters, and that is in the delegate count. According to CNN estimates, Obama is 86 delegates ahead of Clinton. Neither is close to the 2,225, though, needed to win the nomination.

On the Republican side, a different story. John McCain swept all four contests to lock up his party's nomination. Mike Huckabee dropped out after losing to McCain in Texas, Ohio, Vermont and Rhode Island.

HARRIS: You know, we haven't talked Iraqi politics in a while. Maybe we will at some point here with Kyra Phillips, but not today. It's a kid's TV show that reminds children it's OK to play -- there she is, Kyra Phillips has the story from Baghdad.

Kyra, good to see you.

You know, I remember as a kid -- I'm trying to think of my favorite kid show. I loved Morgan Freeman back in the day, let me take you back, as Easy Reader on "The Electric Company." Remember those days?

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: I remember "The Electric Company."

HARRIS: Sure.

PHILLIPS: And it was actually one of the most diverse children's programs, along with "Sesame Street," right?

HARRIS: Absolutely.

PHILLIPS: I remember it very well. OK, remember "Schoolhouse Rock?"

HARRIS: Absolutely.

PHILLIPS: OK. And the hardest thing, Tony, when you watch "Schoolhouse Rock," trying to memorize the three branches of government. So imagine for these Iraqi kids, they're trying to balance the chaos of war with cartoons.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PHILLIPS (voice-over): For these Iraqi children, "Kids on Air" is not just a TV show; it's a refuge, a circle of trust.

(on camera): These kids have to grow up so fast in this environment. Does this allow them to be a child again?

"It's hard for them to have a childhood," the show's host, Waleed Habush, tells me. "They lack it in this war. They are deprived of parks, city sports and their hobbies. I'm just trying to give them something normal."

PHILLIPS (voice-over): So, for one hour, these kids forget about war and remember what it's like to just be a kid.

(on camera): What was your favorite dance?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Pokemon.

PHILLIPS: You like Pokemon?

PHILLIPS (voice-over): But don't let Nora's (ph) sweet youth deceive you. Within this war comes wisdom.

"To win the satisfaction of my parents will win the satisfaction from God, and that will sustain the universe."

(on camera): Very good. Can we clap for her? Yay.

(voice-over): Nora is 8. I am simply in awe.

Kids call in from all over Iraq. They are fascinated with their folklore. What looks so simple goes so much deeper.

Eleven-year-old Doha (ph) chants her favorite poem. "We'll erase discrimination in Iraq and find spirit of unity.

(on camera): Is it hard to see what's going on in your country right now?

(voice-over): "I feel sad, but we will never leave our dear Iraq."

(on camera): Why do you want to stay?

(voice-over): "Because we have been created here, and we will die here in its soil. I'm not going to die in another country's soil."

How these kids balance death with Disney is beyond me, but it's working. Rami Ahmed (ph) is Pokemon.

"I will certainly make them delighted," he says. "I think I'll drive out all their sadness."

(on camera): Outside you see the barbed wire, and the blast walls and the guards. Then you come in here and it's Pokemon and Spider-man and such a comfort zone. What do you make of that, these two different worlds?

"Our escape is doing this show. It helps us overcome the real atmosphere outside. It can't last forever. Iraqis believe in that."

And so, too, do these children.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PHILLIPS: Now, Tony, you're a dad. I'm a godmother, AN aunt, a big sister. We love to spoil the kids, right? And I asked all of these children, if you had one wish, what would you want? Would it be a certain toy, a certain game? And this was so humbling. They just said they wanted security. They wanted to be able to go outside and play on a playground, or they wanted to be with their families.

HARRIS: I got to tell you, to that point, I love the fact that -- I don't know how many trips this is to Iraq for you, two, maybe three -- that you manage to get beyond the blast walls and show us real Iraqis trying as best they can to live their lives, and you look into the faces of those kids and you're just taken by the fact that they're just such beautiful people. I got to ask you about tomorrow. We'll talk to you again tomorrow. And you have another story about Iraqi children overcoming another pretty big challenge.

PHILLIPS: That's right. Thank you, Tony. That means a lot to me, because I do, I come here and I feel very much alive and the kids, of course, steal my heart. Well this is definitely going to steal your heart. We go to Baghdad's only school for the blind. Now, imagine being blind, OK, that's tough enough. Now imagine being blind and liver in a war zone. Well, these kids are amazing. They're not only motivated, they're brilliant. They're learning Arabic, braille, English, and I have to admit I feel deeply in love with one 11-year- old boy. His name is Murtada. And it all started when he gave us a mic check. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MURTADA, 11 YEARS OLD: One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight.

PHILLIPS: Whoa, whoa.

MURTADA: Nine, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIPS: Tony, he had us all in stitches because he wanted to impress us with his english. He wanted to be an English translator and he wants to go to college. Does he just steal your heart or what?

HARRIS: Stop with the applause. I'm still going -- 21, 22. Kyra, that's great. I can't wait. Great reporting from Baghdad. It's great to see you, as well. Thanks, Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Thanks, Tony.

Here's a look at some of the most clicked-on videos on CNN.com this morning. Back from the dead: A Florida teen still trying to grasp being medically dead for several minutes. A lacrosse ball hit him in the chest, causing a rare medical crisis with his heart. He says he'll be back playing lacrosse as soon as he gets the all-clear from doctors.

A beaten baby clings to life. Louisiana police investigating who abused a 6-month-old. She was also burned and drugged.

And emergency landing. Eight people hospitalized in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. They got sick while on a flight from the Dominican Republic to Canada. For more of your favorite video go to CNN.com/mostpopular. And of course don't forget to download the CNN NEWSROOM's daily podcast.

HARRIS: OK. We want to take you to Washington, D.C. We've been telling you about this all morning. There he is, President Bush, waiting to greet, and we will probably see as the camera widens out in just a moment, Senator John McCain, fresh off his victories in Vermont, in Rhode Island, in Texas, and in Ohio. The presumptive Republican nominee for president.

Here is President Bush. OK, not speaking. And we anticipate that in moments John McCain will arrive at the White House and there will be a lunch, and then at 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time right here in the NEWSROOM in the Rose Garden you will watch as President Bush endorses John McCain.

Still to come, he is out of the race, but is he out of the game? Mike Huckabee's political future, in the NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: Heidi, do you want to take a turn with this?

COLLINS: Well, we're not exactly sure what's happening, to be honest with you ...

HARRIS: OK.

COLLINS: ...but we do know that a little bit later on today, as we have reported here, President Bush is expected to endorse the Republican presumptive nominee, John McCain, for president. So, we've been watching what's going on here on our router system. And it's supposed to happen at noon.

So, it is a little early that the president will greet John McCain, and then there will be a briefing and they'll chat for a bit, possibly have a little bit of lunch, not sure on that.

HARRIS: Yes, yes.

COLLINS: But then later, around 1:00, 1:15 or so, is when this actual endorsement from the Rose Garden will happen. But the president has been out ...

HARRIS: Yes, that's the odd sight, yes.

COLLINS: ...already. This is the second time ...

HARRIS: OK.

COLLINS: ...now he's come to the door. So, hopefully we'll be able to listen in this time around. Earlier, he was literally doing a tap-dance and laughing in front of reporters saying -- well, see, now, we're having a little bit of a router problem again, but.

HARRIS: Well, he's smiling just as we were smiling because of the tap-dance. COLLINS: Just -- he's like where the guy, where's the guy. However, as I said, it is 20 minutes early, so we're not sure if there might be a little coordination problem here or what the scoop is.

HARRIS: Exactly, can someone send a text, maybe a telephone call, a cell phone call to the president saying, oh, we're running perhaps just a tad late, don't come outside just yet? Because we're not ready.

COLLINS: Oh, all the press is ready, look.

HARRIS: Yes.

COLLINS: All the boom mikes there and the cameras.

HARRIS: Hey, there we go.

COLLINS: There he is.

HARRIS: There we go, there's the moment.

COLLINS: Hopefully, we can get that other camera shot back and listen in to what might be being said because there is no audio at this point either. You know what, I think they're still setting things up.

This was a little bit earlier. Our new video coming into us that we're looking at, not live, but as the president was just casually chatting with reporters. I did hear one reporter say to him, so, what did you think of the Democratic results last night? And he was silent, pointed his finger at them and said, see, there you go, there you go again, trying to kind of catch him off guard.

But as you can see by the lack of movement of his mouth, he didn't say a whole lot other than ...

HARRIS: Yes.

COLLINS: ...how you doing, everybody. And in a minute here, you may see him tap-dance, as I mentioned.

HARRIS: Well, so I'm just a tad confused because there clearly was a shot just a moment ago of the two men together. And now, we're back to this. And maybe we're just trying to frame up or find a better shot of the two men together. OK, I understand that, I get that but -- all right.

So, that's the scene at the White House. The two men were together a moment ago. There were words exchanged, not harsh words, pleasant words, exchanged. And we believe now that perhaps they've gone inside the White House. There will be further conversation, perhaps a little something to eat, some conversation about the race ahead, the issues ahead, and then 1:00 p.m. Eastern time, certainly a better coordinated appearance, 1:00, the Rose Garden.

COLLINS: I imagine so. HARRIS: I would think so.

COLLINS: That did not look ...

HARRIS: I would think so.

COLLINS: ...quite choreographed.

HARRIS: So, there you go.

COLLINS: Oh, yes, so we will bring that to you, obviously, when it does happen.

In the meantime, Republican Mike Huckabee out of the presidential race and backing John McCain. Can Republicans now unite behind McCain, and what about Huckabee's political future?

Huckabee campaign chairman Ed Rollins is in Little Rock for us this morning. Ed, nice to see you as always.

ED ROLLINS, CHAIRMAN, HUCKABEE CAMPAIGN: Nice to see you. That was a nice shuffle step there on the president's part.

COLLINS: Yes, wasn't it? Did you see that, yes?

ROLLINS: Obviously, he's anxious to leave.

COLLINS: Yes, you know, a little soft shoe I think he was doing there.

Hey, let's cut to the chase. What do you think about Mike Huckabee playing a role in the McCain administration? Granted that the Senator would ask him to do that, would Huckabee be interested?

ROLLINS: I don't think he's interested in a Cabinet post. He's made that very clear to me. Obviously, if he was offered the vice presidency, which we don't expect to happen, very few people turn that position down. I think he's going to go out and campaign hard for the president.

I think he's going to go out and do a lot of things politically for other candidates, for Senate candidates, gubernatorial candidates, and I think what we'll do is put a political action committee together, probably do some entertainment, radio shows or television shows or something over the next couple years and then decide whether he wants to take another run depending on who's the president.

COLLINS: Ed, what would you say to the evangelical voters who obviously supported Huckabee and still have serious reservations about John McCain?

ROLLINS: I think that John McCain's got four or five months before his convention to go out to those constituency groups that supported Mike and other candidates and make his case. And I think the key thing for him is that it always ends up a game -- it's like a game of poker. Your pair of twos may not look like much, but it beats one of a kind.

John McCain is our candidate. Obviously, he's a much better candidate, he'll be a much better president than either, from our perspective than Hillary or Barack Obama, and I think eventually evangelicals and conservatives will get behind him.

COLLINS: You know, don't want to look too far back because at this point, I know everyone always wants to look forward, certainly looking forward to November. But we did see some video of Mike Huckabee on an aircraft, and he said, you know, I really didn't expect that it would be over this early, but it is and here we are. What do you think could have been done a little bit differently, if anything, in this campaign?

ROLLINS: Well, if Romney would have dropped out earlier or Thompson dropped out a week earlier, we would have won South Carolina. And South Carolina, I think would have launched us on to Florida and beyond that. Losing South Carolina was the key thing by a very narrow margin. It was kind of an idiotic process.

I think Mike Huckabee did far better than anybody expected. He turned an awful lot of voters on around the country. He had a young team who were very anxious and aggressive to be part of the process. And they did an extraordinary job.

But the most important thing, there were thousands and thousands of volunteers out there that supported this man that they found a very articulate Republican who had a message of hope, and young people, particularly, I think were where his great appeal was.

COLLINS: Yes, quickly, though, you do point out what happened with the other campaigns. What particularly with Huckabee's campaign, if anything, as I said, could have been done differently?

ROLLINS: Well, you know, we had $15 million. If we had had a $100 million like Romney or Giuliani or someone else, I think we'd still be in the game. You know, at the end of the day, you know, it was a slow start in a campaign, Mike Huckabee was not known outside of Arkansas, respected but not known outside of Arkansas and it was a long, tedious process to get himself known.

Winning iowa was a monumental task, and he did it very well. And he made converts every single day, including the last day he was campaigning. Thousands of people were at his rallies and every time people heard him, they walked away impressed.

COLLINS: OK, yes, just want to let our viewers know what we're looking at here. Earlier, we had been trying to get some pictures of the greeting moment between President Bush and Senator John McCain, the Republican presumptive nominee. This is just moments ago, the camera shots that we were looking for there.

Prior to that, Ed, I'm not sure if you saw a little bit of it, the president had been waiting on the senator and his wife to arrive. So, that was the shot we were waiting for. Now they go inside, and in about an hour, maybe a little longer, we will see this expected endorsement take place in the Rose Garden. But that is what we had been waiting for.

So Ed, listen, we had heard from our other correspondents that Mike Huckabee is not interested in running for Senate either, but he did say that it's time, last night this was, to hit the reset button. What exactly does that mean? Are we talking about 2012 here?

ROLLINS: Well, I think -- here's a man who's been in public life for 15 years, both as lieutenant governor and 10.5 years as governor. I think he now has to rethink -- he's been running 13 months for president. I think he has to figure out what he wants to do, what his family wants him to do. He's got to go make a living and obviously, there will be lots of opportunities for him.

But he wants to be very much a part of the political process. He's made a lot of converts, like I said, across this country, who are Mike Huckabee fans. I think he -- he's 52-years-old, he's got 20 years before he hits John McCain's age, so there's a lot of time between now and then if he chooses to run for president again either in four years or eight years.

COLLINS: Very interesting. Hey, we're going to talk to you again ...

ROLLINS: My pleasure.

COLLINS: ...certainly before four years from now. Thanks so much, Ed Rollins ...

ROLLINS: Thank you, thank you very much.

COLLINS: ... the Huckabee campaign chairman. Appreciate your time.

HARRIS: Well, to business news now. By now, we know that the combination of rising prices and falling home equity is really creating the perfect storm for many American, and a new report shows that more and more people are coping with filing for bankruptcy. Boy, that's not good news.

Susan Lisovicz is at the New York Stock Exchange with details. And the bad news in this sector continues to mount, Susan.

(BUSINESS HEADLINES)

COLLINS: Will the White House feel homey to John McCain today? He's lunching there with the president. This was him arriving just a few moments ago. We understand he came a little bit early and pretty much caught everybody off guard. But there will be a little something extra for dessert.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLLINS: They are young and smart with strong opinions about the election. But you won't see them at a U.S. polling station.

Our Aneesh Raman found them in Tehran. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANEESH RAMAN, CNN MIDDLE EAST CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The scent of politics is in the air in Iran, but not American politics, not yet. With just over a week to go until Iran elects a new parliament, the U.S. presidential primaries are for most, out of sight and out of mind. Many at Tehran's main bazaar didn't even know who was running. Mohammed knew one candidate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Obama.

RAMAN: But it's just a matter of time before all that changes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is he really a Republican or is he an independent in a Republican disguise?

RAMAN: Press TV, Iran's English language state-run channel this week produced its first program devoted entirely to the U.S. election, complete with American pundits battling for air time. It was a detailed discussion that for at least one group of Iranians is old news.

The young and educated have been paying attention to the race for weeks. And we gathered three 20-somethings to talk about it. Jarsad (ph) works at a publishing house. Ayoub (ph) is a colege student, and Sarah is an architect. All said they were hoping a Democrat would win.

SARAH GOLLABIAN, ARCHITECT: I remember when President Bush was elected and everybody said, OK, now we're in trouble. Now, that it's Republican, everything is set.

RAMAN: And they were all impressed by the historic nature of the Democratic contest, even citing the pop culture behind Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know, there is a series called "Commander in Chief," the president is a lady, I mean, I don't know.

RAMAN (on camera): The TV show.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, yes.

RAMAN: So, people have seen that here?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, of course, and even from the other side, "Uprise" supporting Obama. "Uprise" very famous in Iran. People are very eager to watch and follow that program.

RAMAN (voice-over): As for advice for whoever becomes the next president, "They should prioritize dialogue and discussion," Ayoub says. "They should open up and talk with the powers in this region, not pursue war."

And Sarah is hoping a new president means a new chance for direct talks. GOLLABIAN: Everybody wants to America. We drink Pepsi every, every -- with every meal, you know what I mean? So, we want to do it, but we don't know how, even the government don't know how.

RAMAN: What the young and educated in Iran already know will soon spread to the rest, that the U.S. elections could impact Iran as much as who they vote into parliament next week.

Aneesh Raman, CNN, Tehran.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS: CNN NEWSROOM continues one hour from now.

HARRIS: "BALLOT BOWL" is next. I'm Tony Harris.

COLLINS: I'm Heidi Collins. Have a great day, everybody.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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