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'Ballot Bowl '08'

Aired March 11, 2008 - 12:00   ET


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, HOST: Welcome to CNN's "Ballot Bowl."
I'm Suzanne Malveaux in Philadelphia.

Obviously looking forward to the Pennsylvania primary six weeks away, April 22nd. But the big prize, Pennsylvania. Some 158 delegates.

We are also taking a look at Mississippi. The polls opening throughout the state, people going to cast their ballots today for either Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton.

With us this hour to help us out, my colleagues, Dan Lothian, who's in Atlanta, Sean Callebs, who's at a polling station in Mississippi.

Now, "Ballot Bowl" is all about being able to hear the candidates unscripted, in their own words, unfiltered, whether it's live or on tape. So we've got a full game plan, a full schedule ahead for this hour, jam-packed.

Obviously, we are waiting for Senator Hillary Clinton. She's going to be speaking in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. We will bring that to you live.

But first, I want to take us to Sean Callebs. He's at a polling station in Mississippi. Those polling stations opened about 8:00 a.m. Eastern Time this morning. Obviously, we have been hearing about record turnout expected today.

Sean, what are you seeing?

SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. So far, Suzanne, the turnout, according to the secretary of state's office, has been light to moderate throughout much of the state. Now, where we are, we're actually in the town of Terry, in Hinds County, which also has the capital of Jackson inside it. We are in the largest Democratic precinct here in Hinds County.

And what they tell us, in about an average year, they get about 100 people voting here every hour. And as you can see behind me, people kind of lined up through the door.

When the polls opened several hours ago, there were about 50 people out here this morning waiting to vote. Still early in the day, so it's difficult to say if turnout is going to become heavier as the day moves on. But clearly, Mississippi relishing its time in the spotlight right now with its 33 delegates at stake.

This campaign season, where everyone means so much, Mississippi may not be known as the most progressive state in the country, but people here are trying to get out word that they say this year's election isn't about gender, isn't about race, but rather about issues.

We had a chance to speak with some voters earlier today. Listen to what they had to say.


CHARLIE DAVIS, TERRY, MISSISSIPPI, VOTER: We are looking at the same issues that everybody else throughout the country is looking at -- you're looking at the economy, you're looking at the fuel prices, you're looking at foreclosures on homes right now. So we're looking at the same thing that everybody else is looking at. And we're hoping that we can get a candidate in there that will take care of all these things.

CLARENCE FINLEY, TERRY, MISSISSIPPI, VOTER: Real concerned about health care. Real concerned about, of course, the price of gas.

And my daughter, who is 18, so excited about Obama. She said, "Daddy, go out and support him." So I'm here. That's why I'm here.

But I will vote anyway, but she is excited about the movement. And I'm glad to see some of the young people getting involved in the election process.


CALLEBS: And the Democratic presidential candidates have been campaigning here over the past several days. Senator Obama speaking at Jackson State University in Jackson last night. A very, very large crowd in the gym on campus. More than 8,000 people attending.

Hillary Clinton was in the state -- in the town of Canton on Thursday, then in Hattiesburg on Friday. Her husband, the former president, was -- made a four-stop visit on Saturday. Large crowds in many of those, in Meridian, Ellisville, stopping down in Biloxi and in Pass Christian, a little community that got wiped out by Hurricane Katrina that really hasn't gotten much attention this year.

Now, here's how it breaks down for us, Suzanne. People come through here. If their names are in the register here, they can pick up one of these blue laminated cards when they come over.

If not, Alzina (ph), 93 years old, still working at the polling precinct, then gives folks an affidavit. Then they walk over, and here are the touch-screen voting mechanisms. So far, no problems throughout the state today.

Again, Suzanne, the voting right now light to moderate. There are a couple of congressional races gaining a certain degree of notoriety, interest in this state as well. So people -- it could get busier as the day moves on.

We'll keep you informed -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: Sure, Sean. And amazing, 93 years old, and she's involved in the process. That's incredible.

Give us a sense of the demographics here. Is there any sense of which way this might swing today for Obama or Senator Clinton?

CALLEBS: Well, about 70 percent of the registered Democrats are African-American in this state. Talked with the Obama camp over the weekend. They say, clearly, they believe that plays in their favor.

They have seen polling numbers that indicate the Obama camp has a dramatic lead. However, the camp -- Obama -- his folks are taking nothing for granted. The big concern, they saw what happened in New Hampshire early, where they thought they would win there. They thought Ohio would be closer with the polling done there. So, they are not -- they don't -- they're acting as though the race is neck- and-neck, even though the polls indicate something very different.

Bill Clinton down over the weekend, really trying to hammer away at the perceived lead as well, trying to say that he believes his wife is the best candidate he ever has had the chance to vote for. So certainly that very strong words from the former president.

But also the way the Clintons floated the idea of perhaps having Barack Obama on the ticket as the VP. That didn't play so well with Barack Obama. We heard him yesterday say in no uncertain terms, look, I have more votes, I have more delegates, why would I want to even consider taking a second-place position on the ballot at this point?


MALVEAUX: Well, Sean -- thanks, Sean.

Let's talk about that and bring that to the voters, because obviously over the last couple of days, really this back-and-forth between Senators Clinton and Obama. The Clinton camp floating this notion of a dream ticket, an idea that many Democratic leaders have said would be a great idea -- people who are torn between these two stellar candidates.

So we heard from Senator Clinton, perhaps teasing that a little bit. Then we heard from Bill Clinton and the same over the weekend, talking about how it would be such a powerful, explosive kind of team ticket, and that it would be really a dream ticket.

Well -- Senator Barack Obama not taking too kindly to being put in a number two position. Just yesterday he shut the whole discussion down.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: As I understand it, both Senator Clinton and President Clinton repeatedly talked about how I would be a great vice president. That's what they said. They kept on saying, well, you know, he would be a fine vice president. That would be a formidable team, with Clinton at the top, and Obama in the second place.


Now, first of all, with all due respect -- with all due respect, I have won twice as many states as Senator Clinton.


I have won more of the popular vote than Senator Clinton. I have more delegates than Senator Clinton. So I don't know how somebody who's in second place is offering the vice presidency to the person who is in first place.


I mean, I'm just wondering -- I'm just wondering, because if I was in second place, I could understand it, but I'm in first place right now. So that's point number one.

But there is another -- there's a second point. This is an interesting point. I want you guys to follow me on this.

You know, Senator -- President Bill Clinton, back in 1992, when he was being asked about his selection for vice president, he said the only criteria -- the most important criteria for vice president is that that person is ready, if I fell out in the first week, that he or she would be ready to be the commander in chief. That was his criteria.

Now, they have been spending the last two, three weeks -- you remember with that advertisement with the phone call, telling -- getting all the generals to say, well, we're not sure he's ready, I'm ready on day one. He may not be ready yet. But I don't understand, if I'm not ready, how is it that you think I should be such a great vice president?

Do you understand that?



MALVEAUX: And speaking of vice president, a former Democratic vice presidential candidate, the former representative from New York, Geraldine Ferraro, causing some controversy with some comments she made recently to a publication in Torrance, California, the "Daily Breeze," in which she said -- and I am quoting here -- "If Obama was a white man he would not be in this position. And if he was a woman he would not be in this position. He happens to be very lucky to be who he is, and the country is caught up in the concept."

A senior adviser said to the Obama campaign shot back -- Susan Rice -- she is a foreign policy adviser -- calling for Hillary Clinton and her campaign to repudiate these comments that Barack Obama is where he is because he is a black candidate. Susan Rice saying, "I think if Senator Clinton is serious about putting an end to statements that have racial implications, then she ought to repudiate this comment."

We have heard Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson, who says they do not agree with those comments from Geraldine Ferraro. Obviously, another controversy among many that is brewing between Senator Clinton's camp and the Obama camp.

Now, looking ahead at the critical contest obviously in Pennsylvania, 158 delegates at stake, a lot of campaigning that is taking place throughout the state trying to get that coveted prize, those voters. We saw Senator Clinton kicking off the campaign here in Scranton, Pennsylvania. That is where her great grandparents are from. It really is her hometown, and she got a roaring welcome and applause.


SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know, Governor Rendell and I hear people sometimes saying, well, we don't want to go back to the '90s. And I'm saying, well, what part of the '90s don't we want to go back to, peace or prosperity? Which one?


But you know, every election's about the future. So we can learn from the past. Otherwise, you're condemned to repeat it. So you've got to learn from the past.

But we are the country that really is always focused on a better tomorrow. America is about the future.

You know, my grandparents came here because their families thought they could have a better future. And a lot of you have parents, grandparents or great grandparents who came here for the same reason.

America was that beacon of freedom and opportunity, and we still are. But we better start acting like it so that we can give our young people the future they deserve.


You know, instead of thinking just about the next election, let's start thinking about the next generation. What are we going to do for all of these young people who are here so they have the same blessings and opportunities that I felt I had, that many of us experienced? We've got to be sure that we keep faith with the forward movement of progress that has always been the hallmark of our country. And there is so much we can do together.

You know, we do have to get this economy going. And so there are some changes we have to make. Number one, we have to change the tax code so it does not give a penny to any business that exports a job out of Pennsylvania to some other country!


And then we've got to change it so it treats people working hard every day fairly, because it is wrong that some investment money manager on Wall Street making $50 million a year pays a lower percentage of his income than a teacher, a nurse or a truck driver making $50,000 a year!


MALVEAUX: Senator Hillary Clinton working very hard for the support of the voters in Scranton, Pennsylvania. She'll be campaigning throughout the state today, as well as Senator Barack Obama.

I spoke with Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell last night, who said that Clinton is a superior campaigner, but also saying Barack Obama certainly a formidable force. And with six weeks ahead, it could get to be a very tight, tight race.

Let's take a listen, and let's take a look, rather, at the delegate count, how this is breaking down. Very, very tight. Very close between these two contenders.

Barack Obama, the delegate breakdown -- Obama at 1,553. Clinton at 1,438. There are 2,025 that are needed.

We understand that Senator Clinton is taking the stage for her rally, which will begin very shortly. We'll be bringing you those live comments from her. But also, on the other side of the break, we're going to take a look at the GOP.



I'm Dan Lothian at CNN headquarters in Atlanta.

The Democrats obviously battling it out today. The key state that we are focusing on is Mississippi.

That is where we have 33 Democratic delegates up for grabs, taking a look live now at a polling station there in Terry, Mississippi. Also, we are looking ahead to what's happening in Pennsylvania, a critical state for the Democrats, 158 delegates up for grabs there.

Senator Clinton is campaigning in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, this morning. In fact, there is an event that's about to get under way. We're watching it, we're monitoring it. And we'll bring it to you live as soon as she begins speaking there. But let's shift now to the Republicans, or I should say the lone Republican senator, John McCain. He does not have an opponent on the Republican side. He is the presumptive nominee for the Republican Party. And he waits to find out which one of the two candidates, whether it will be Senator Obama or Senator Clinton, will be his opponent.

Senator McCain has been tough on Iraq and certainly tough on national security. But one of the issues that he's really trying to appear tough on is the economy. That is something that most Americans really care about. And he is campaigning today in Missouri, campaigning and also doing some critical fundraising, and talking a little bit about the economy.

He realizes, he pointed out, that Missouri is a very important state, certainly as we come up in the general election. And he was talking there in St. Louis to his supporters about the importance of the economy and this downturn and what needs to be done.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We see these home foreclosure rates going up. In fact, if I could just quote you some numbers here, in the state of Missouri there's been 13,000 home foreclosures since 2004, the fourth quarter of 2007. Fourteen foreclosures per 1,000 homes, higher than the national average. So in this great state we know about the housing crisis, and we know about some of the difficulties that our economy is facing.

So let's start out by accepting the fact that many Americans are hurting. And there's been a loss of manufacturing jobs, particularly in the heartland, particularly in states like this one, states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Michigan, and others.

And we've got to do a lot better job taking care of those workers who have been displaced. And right here is the place that has created opportunities. The expansion in the workforce here has been dramatic. The increase in pay and benefits has been significant. And the moral of this story is that, my friends, we're not going to go back to the old manufacturing-based economy.

Now, some manufacturing can grow and prosper by getting into specialty areas and others. But generally speaking, we're in an information technology revolution which is exemplified by this corporation.

One of the reasons why I was honored to come here today, we've seen an increase in employment, increase in benefits, but I think the CEO here would tell you the first thing they need is educated and trained workforce. And that's where we failed in America.

That's where we failed the worker who just left a job in Michigan in the automotive industry. We have not provided the kind of training and education for displaced workers, which is vital to what's giving Americans another chance. We can't have people just leave the workforce at age 40 or 45, or at another time. And we all know there have been massive layoffs, particularly in the manufacturing sector.

So what do we need to do? We need to go to the community colleges.

I'll bet you that the community college right here in St. Louis would love to work with you to set up an education and training program that they could supply qualified workers to be here at this wonderful corporation. And that's what we need to do.

And I'm sorry to tell you that the programs, the federal programs that we have now that were designed to help the displaced worker, don't work. There is a half a dozen of them; they were designed for the '50s when there would be an economic downturn, and then the economy would come back and people would get their old jobs back. So, I want to tell you, as president, my highest priority will be to provide the education and training programs so those workers who have lost their job can come and apply for a job here in what is basically the information technology revolution.

And my friends, also, we've got to help people keep their homes. We've got to help keep them here in Missouri, and we've got to help them in Arizona, and we've got to help them all over America.

And we've got to not reward speculators, including bankers who made bad deals, who violated a fundamental principle that you don't lend money to people that can't pay it back. But we also can't allow people to have to sign a mortgage that is about that thick that they don't understand.


LOTHIAN: Senator John McCain in St. Louis, Missouri, talking tough about the economy. Again, Senator McCain has always been tough on Iraq and certainly national security. But again, this issue of the economy is what's most important to American voters, and so he's trying to talk about that today in Missouri.

Coming up, we will go back to Pennsylvania. We're watching Senator Clinton in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. She's about to speak there to her supporters. And we'll talk a little bit more about the Democratic race, that tight race between Senator Barack Obama and Senator Hillary Clinton.

That's just ahead after this break on CNN "Ballot Bowl."


MALVEAUX: New York Governor Eliot Spitzer embroiled in a scandal, a scandal that erupted just 24 hours ago, alleging some sort of involvement in a prostitution ring, a sting. We are now learning new information about possible talks between Spitzer and Lieutenant Governor David Paterson over a transition of power.

We want to go to Dana, one of our producers who is in New York, who has the very latest on this story -- Dana Garrett.


I'm here at the state capitol building in Albany, where we have been told by a top legislative staffer here that staffers from Governor Spitzer's office and Lieutenant Governor Paterson's office are currently holding transition meetings as we speak. This staffer tells me that the lieutenant governor is meeting with his consultants to discuss the transition as well. The lieutenant governor has not spoken to Governor Spitzer, I'm told, but clearly these meetings are under way.

He is, as far as we know, still holed up in his office. He has not spoken to the press yet. One would assume he is waiting for any further developments to make any official announcement. But as far as we know, those meetings are under way -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: Do we have any sense of when the governor might come out to speak to the public, if he's going to make any kind of statement later today?

GARRETT: We do not know that as of yet. As far as we know, these meetings are ongoing. And no decisions have been made -- final decisions.

Right now I am standing outside the capitol, which really has become quite the media circus. Every local station, as you can imagine, is here waiting for any bit of news, any bit of sound. The only official that has really spoken at all this morning is the Republican leader in the assembly, Jim Podesko (ph), who has been calling for the governor's resignation, and today has said that he is going to start proceedings to embark on impeachment proceedings.

He came out to speak and was descended upon by everyone because he's the only one really speaking so far. Everyone else -- the other government leaders, the governor, the senate majority leader, and the house speaker really have not spoken until -- until the governor makes a decision.

MALVEAUX: Dana, set the scene for us if you will. You're there. There have been a lot of calls for his resignation. And there's been a lot of attention over this story, obviously because he was somebody who took on Wall Street, he took on corruption.

Give us a sense of what people are saying, what they're talking about. This was really a surprise to a lot of people, a bombshell, if you will, when it erupted yesterday.

GARRETT: I don't think you can overstate that enough. I mean, I think the best headlines was, you know, "The Collective Jaws are Dropping in Albany."

This was a man that came into power a year ago with what many described as coronation more than an election. He was elected with an overwhelming majority of voters, and with, as you said, this strong background as attorney general, fighter of corruption, moral standard- bearer. And for him to be caught up in something like this I think has just shocked everybody and, as I said, has led to this complete media frenzy.

And really, beyond the media, everyone in government in Albany I think is just shocked. And the government's just kind of at a standstill, I think, as this thing unfolds.

MALVEAUX: And I understand that if the lieutenant governor, David Paterson, takes over, that this really would be an historic occasion -- the first African-American government of New York, legally blind. Obviously, a lot of people are looking at him, his roots in Harlem, that this is really an extraordinary development, this kind of transition of power, and who this individual is.

GARRETT: Yes, I think it really is. And probably surprising for him as well. I believe that he has taken over this position, the lieutenant governor, with an eye towards possibly going after a Senate run to replace Hillary Clinton should she go on to the White House. And I think now, you know, he's in the role of governor. He may well be appointing the next senator to New York. So he certainly will step in at a time that's going to be very difficult to bring this state back together. You know, this whole last year in New York has been fraught with, you know, difficulties in Albany and I think that he may be the person that comes in now and makes things right. But he's certainly going to have a big job ahead of him.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: Dana, do we know who's involved in the discussions over whether or not he should have stepped down in the first place? Whether his family, his wife, his closest advisers or there were people from outside who were pressuring him?

GARRETT: Well, as far as I know, I believe that he had gotten initial support from his family and from his close advisers to wait it out. But as the events unfold today, you know, it certainly seems as though there's a lot of support right now for just moving on. And I think I'm not sure what his direct advisers are telling him right now, but we know, as I said, that his staffers are meeting with the staffers from the lieutenant governors office and, obviously, there is some talk of moving on at this point.

MALVEAUX: Do you think this is a process that could happen rather quickly? Could we see some developments within hours or are we talking within days?

GARRETT: Hard to tell. I know that Jim Todeska (ph), who we spoke to about these impeachment proceedings, was saying within the next 24 to 48 hours he would embark on those impeachment proceedings. And when I asked him how long that process might take, I think, you know, he assured me that everybody wants to get beyond this and to have this happen as quickly as possible. But, of course, there is a process that they have to go through. It would have to go before the House and then the Senate. So hard to tell. But I think that this was not something that can just -- I don't think the governor would wants this to drag out. I think this will, you know, probably be made soon but I have not gotten direct confirmation of that. MALVEAUX: OK. Dana Garrett, thank you so much. Obviously we'll coming back to you if you have any other details about this unfolding, developing story. This scandal involving the New York governor, Eliot Spitzer, and the possible transition of power. Those meetings underway.

And she had mentioned as well Senator Hillary Clinton, who so far in commenting about the scandal, has simply said that she wishes the very best to the governor, as well as to his family. Beyond that she really did not comment. We do know that she is live on stage in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Let's take a listen to what she's saying now.

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you so very much. And I have to thank your great governor because he has been -- he's been a tremendous visionary in leading the commonwealth toward the future that awaits, whether it's been education, or health care, or energy, or bringing budgetary discipline back and trying to make the dollar, you know, go as far as it needs to. He has been in the forefront, of not just talking about change, but making it happen right here in Pennsylvania.

You know I can't help but think as we're here in this beautiful forum, a magnificent setting for this occasion, that there is a real metaphor here. You know, we look up at the constellations and we think about how, for the millennia, men and women have looked skyward to find inspiration, to fine vision, to think about what the future could hold.

Here in our own country, the space race to move us into space transformed America. It was one of the great innovative accomplishments of human history. And we have been living with the consequences that open doors in so many areas that made a difference in health and information technology. It was out of the work that the space race engendered that we actually invented the Internet. So there is so much to think about as we look up.

But also it's also important to keep your feet firmly on the ground. To be rooted in the reality of today and now.

And there's no contradiction to that. That's who we are at our best. It's who our founders were. You know, right out of Pennsylvania came so much of the genius that created our government. And it was a unique combination of the lofty goals and values that kept us looking toward a better tomorrow and an understanding of what it would take to not only get a country up and going, but to run it, to manage it, to make all of the tough decisions that were required, to balance power. And I think we're at a turning point moment in American history right now where we are called upon to look toward the future with confidence and optimism, but to understand what it will take -- the hard work -- to translate all of those hopes and dreams into the reality of people's lives right here in Harrisburg and across Pennsylvania and America.

And that is what my campaign is about. You know, I share a vision for the kind of America that we all want, especially for our children. You know I saw that little baby who's got a big smile on his face and I thought to myself, I want to make sure that that child's future is as good as any American child has ever been.

But we can't just hope it happens. We can't just wish it happens. We can't just gaze heavenward and cross our fingers that it happens. We have to be prepared to work for that future. And that's going to require, first and foremost, a new president in the White House starting next January.

But then I want you to think about what that new president is going to face. You know, waiting in the Oval Office will be a stack of problems. We're going to inherit so much we have to fix. I've got two vice presidential offers in the course of 30 minutes here. And so what we have to decide is, who is ready to go into that Oval Office to make these decisions. And I believe -- I believe that there isn 't anything we can't do if we put our minds to it and if we start immediately to start acting like Americans again. Americans who are problem solvers and visionaries at the same time.

MALVEAUX: Senator Hillary Clinton in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, emphasizing her theme about solutions and problem solving. We are also going to go back to Mississippi. That is where there is a primary that it underway. A Democratic primary between Barack Obama and Senator Hillary Clinton. Obviously folks casting their votes, those polling stations opening as early as 8:00 a.m. Eastern this morning. Be closing at 8:00 p.m. Eastern.

And we are also going to be bringing you more about the breaking news over New York Governor Eliot Spitzer. This big scandal that he is embroiled over in his role in this prostitution ring. CNN now reporting that he is involved with transition talks with Lieutenant Governor David Paterson. That clearly they are looking for a way to transition from his power and giving that power to the lieutenant governor. That underway. So we'll give those details as they develop. That breaking story. All eyes on what is happening in New York. Stay tuned.



We are keeping an eye on developments out of New York. Breaking news. New York Governor Eliot Spitzer embroiled in this scandal involving his role in a prostitution ring. Clearly, this is a man who has taken on corporate corruption on Wall Street. It may look like he is losing his job over this scandal.

We want to go to Allan Chernoff, who is in New York, who is keeping an eye on all these developments.

And, Allan, we understand that there are talks that are underway now between the governor, his staff, lieutenant governor in terms of a transition of power. What can you tell us?

ALLAN CHERNOFF, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Suzanne. It is appearing that the governor of New York state, Eliot Spitzer, is on the verge of stepping down. Now we are hearing that there are transitional talks underway between the governor and the lieutenant governor, David Paterson, who is African-American. He would become the very first African-American governor of New York state.

In addition, we've had calls for the resignation ever since word broke yesterday about this scandal. The scandal apparently implicating Governor Spitzer as being a client of a very high-priced prostitution ring. The Republican minority leader of the state assembly earlier today said that he would actually introduce articles of impeachment if the governor did not step down and also the tabloids of New York City have been calling for the resignation.

The "Daily News," on the cover, "Pay for Love Gov," and inside, "hit the road, John." Three words, "just get out." Very tough language. The "New York Post," "New York's Naked Emperor Must Resign." So very intense pressure on Governor Eliot Spitzer to step down.

And, of course, we've all heard about many sex scandals involving politicians, but this one really is exceptional because Governor Spitzer had built his entire career on being an ethical leader. On being someone who fought corruption, fought misdeeds on Wall Street, in the insurance industry, in the health care industry and, yes, even took down several prostitution rings.

Suzanne, this does really rank as one of the juiciest, one of the most incredible political downfalls that we've heard of in a very, very long time.


MALVEAUX: Allan, what can you tell us about this other gentleman, the lieutenant governor, David Paterson, who would be, obviously, taking his place?

CHERNOFF: That's right. Well, he had been a state legislator from Harlem. He's the son of Basil Paterson, a long-time political leader here in New York state. He is extremely well-liked. And he's also exceptional. He is legally blind. He's a graduate of Columbia University, Hoster (ph) Law School, an adjust professor at Columbia's International Policy School. So really an exceptional person. And also very well liked. He has a long history in the legislature. So a lot of people will be applauding for him.

MALVEAUX: Allen, obviously, we'll be getting back to you as you bring us more details as this breaking story unfolds. Clearly a transition, a change in power, if you will, at the highest level in New York state.

Allan Chernoff, thank you so much.

When BALLOT BOWL continues, we will bring you more of that story. Much, much more of politics, the GOP and Democrats. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to BALLOT BOWL. I'm Dan Lothian at CNN center in Atlanta.

Voters in Mississippi are going to the polls today to choose between Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. As the ballots are cast, the Democratic rivals have already moved on to campaign in Pennsylvania. During the remainder of this hour, we'll bring you more of what the candidates are saying live or on tape but it's always unfiltered.

But I want to check in now with our Sean Callebs, who is in Terry, Mississippi.

And, Sean, I know the polls opened there around 8:00 this morning, close 8:00 Eastern Time. Can you give us a sense of what the turnout has been at the polling station where you are at and perhaps, more importantly, how the turnout is across Mississippi?

SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the turnout has been moderate here where we are in the town of Terry. It is the largest Democratic precinct in the state of Mississippi.

Overall, we've talk to the secretary of state's office and they say so far our voter turnout has been light to moderate. Of course there's a tremendous interest in the presidential campaign. But this is a state that has voted GOP every year since 1976 and only one time in the last 50 years have they voted Democratic during the general election. Certainly the Democrats are hoping to break that string this year.

A great deal of interest, of course, because of the historic race between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Both have done a decent amount of campaigning here in the state. Barack Obama was at Jackson State University in the capital of Jackson last night. About 8,000 people on hand to hear him speak.

Now where's the way this breaks down. People come in and they either talk to Kay (ph) down there at the end or Virginia (ph), who has been the precinct for 36 years. Or Elzina (ph), 93 years old. She has been doing this some time. And what they do, if they're on the list there, then they can pick up their Democratic primary voter card and then they can walk over to these electronic voting machines and either deal with Nick or Dave here. They walk them through.

Now if the folks aren't signed up, either moved to this area recently or voting in this precinct for the first time, then they have to fill out an affidavit ballot and walk down through and just legally explain that, yes, they're living in this area and this is the first time they've had a chance to vote. And then once that is done, they bring it back over and put it in this cooler-looking object. This is actually the Heinz County Election Commission very official basket where these affidavits will end up.

Again, the issues really driving the race this year, when we talk to Mississippi voters, they say they're very concerned about the souring economy, very concerned about education, which is always a sore point in Mississippi. We've been told they spend a great deal of the actual tax money that comes into this state on education. But since the state is so poor, that generally doesn't add up to a great deal of money. So people want to see changes in education. They want to see improvements in the economy as well.

If we move down a little further down the coast, of course, recovery is an over-driving issue down along Mississippi's Gulf Coast. We spent the weekend in Biloxi where business is coming back slowly, but still nowhere to live. Fourteen thousand FEMA trailers are being used in this state right now.

So those are the issues driving the election so far. Interest light to moderate. So maybe it will pick up later on today.


LOTHIAN: And, Sean, I want to following up on that theme of the recovery from Katrina and also Rita. Is there a sense among the Democrats there that either one of these candidates can provide the right solutions to help them rebuild and to move on with their lives?

CALLEBS: You know, it's interesting, because in talking to voters down there, about 70 percent of registered Democrats are African-American in this state. Certainly there's a lot of support for Barack Obama. But in talking to the voters, they basically believe that either Democratic candidate is going to leave them so much better off than they have been the last two and a half years. They really are hoping for a Democratic candidate down along the coast.

A lot of folks that we've talk to, they've had a chance to see specific plans, but only briefly. Neither candidate spent a great deal of time along the coast. Bill Clinton was in Pass Christian, the area where the eye of Katrina passed over. Then in was in Biloxi on Saturday. But those are very quick stops. Barack Obama gave an extended interview with the newspaper down there. He spelled out his plans. So certainly folks down in that area are hopeful for the future.


LOTHIAN: OK. Sean Callebs in Terry, Mississippi. Thank you very much.

We've been balancing throughout this show the political news and also what's happening in New York. Coming up on BALLOT BOWL, we will bring you the latest breaking news regard New York Governor Eliot Spitzer and calls for his resignation. That's ahead after this break.


LOTHIAN: Welcome back to the CNN BALLOT BOWL. I'm Dan Lothian at CNN center in Atlanta. We, of course, are following the breaking news happening in New York. CNN, of course, reporting that there is some transition negotiations underway with Governor Spitzer and his assistant governor there in New York. We, of course, are following that, expecting some news on that any moment and we'll bring it to you as we receive it here.

Looking ahead, of course, we have what's happening in Mississippi. Thirty-three delegates up for grabs there. Polls open this morning at 8:00. Will be closing tonight at 8:00 Central Time. We'll have all the results from that and also looking ahead to Pennsylvania, a crucial contest there, April 22nd. One hundred and fifty-eight delegates up for grabs there. We'll bring all the latest news from both Mississippi and also in Pennsylvania tonight on CNN "Election Center" at 8:00.

That's the very latest from here in Atlanta. Now we turn it over to CNN "NEWSROOM."