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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Competitive Race in Pennsylvania: Continuous Coverage From the Polls

Aired April 22, 2008 - 20:00   ET

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


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Only a second or so to go.
The polls have now closed in Pennsylvania. And based on the exit polls that we have been receiving all day, we can characterize this race right now as very competitive. We cannot project a winner based on the exit poll numbers alone. We're going to have to wait and see hard numbers coming up, competitive, a competitive race in Pennsylvania right now between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

We're watching this very closely. Once again, we cannot project a winner. As you know, if the race turns out to be a blowout based on the exit polls, we are ready to go ahead and project a winner. But, at this particular moment, we cannot project a winner. We want to see some of the actual ballots counted before we can move on.

This is an important race right now. We have Candy Crowley. She's with the Clinton campaign at the Clinton rally. They're going to be getting ready to hear from the senator later, presumably once we get some actual results.

Suzanne Malveaux is at the Obama rally in Indiana already. He has moved on beyond Pennsylvania.

And Jessica Yellin is at Philadelphia at the CNN Election Express. She's been looking at what is going on as well.

Candy, first to you.

A competitive race based on the exit poll data that we now have, what does that say to you?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it says to me we need to wait for the real numbers to come in, as you have just said.

Listen, this will be a very surprised campaign if she doesn't win here tonight. I can tell you that. You already laid out what would happen if she didn't win here tonight.

They have said all along in the pre-spin, listen, Barack Obama has outspent us two-to-one, sometimes three-to-one, given the week. He should be competitive here. They believe it's spin to talk about the demographics favoring her. They say he's had six weeks in this state, spent all this money. He really tried to make a play to win is the line in the Clinton campaign.

So, and we heard Hillary Clinton today saying, a win is a win. If I can get 51 percent, I will take it.

And, you know, not -- interestingly, Barack Obama said the same thing. Anything over 50 percent is a win. But they will be extremely surprised here, Wolf, if she doesn't pull this out tonight and pull it out fairly handily.

BLITZER: And, if she doesn't, if Barack Obama were to win, the pressure on her, in terms of fund-raising, in terms of the superdelegates, the pressure would be enormous on her to take a really close look whether to move on to Indiana and North Carolina in two weeks.

CROWLEY: It absolutely would.

But I can tell you there is no intention at this moment, before these results come in, for Hillary Clinton, win or lose, to get out of this campaign. She has said repeatedly, I want to go on until everybody has had a chance to vote.

So, they will have a tough time pushing her out. But I think you hit on the important thing here. And that is the fund-raising. It gets very, very hard to compete when you don't have money -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Candy, thanks very much.

I want to go to Indiana right now. Suzanne Malveaux, she's over at the Obama rally watching this.

Big crowd, I assume, getting ready to hear from their candidate at some point later tonight, Suzanne. A competitive race, that is what we're characterizing this, based on the exit poll numbers, the exit polls. The voters, themselves, told us who they voted for. And as a result of what they told us, we can only say that it is competitive. We cannot project a winner at this point.

We see a lot of screaming behind you, but Obama supporters usually are pretty enthusiastic.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Wolf.

You can tell that the crowd behind me, they are watching CNN. They are extremely excited about the prospect of Obama getting here just within hours or so. This is really a state that he is going to have to capture when it comes to the working-class voters. He has $42 million in cash to move forward. That is going to be a very big club for Barack Obama.

But he is also tonight going to talk about the fact that he was portraying himself as the underdog, that they had a hard fight here. He is going to talk about the fact that Clinton has the backing of the Democratic establishment, the governor, Ed Rendell, as well as Philadelphia's mayor, Michael Nutter, that they had that full operation behind them. And it is not something that Clinton necessarily is going have and carry with her in Indiana. But he really does have something to prove here, Wolf, and that is he outspent Clinton two-to-one, tens of millions of dollars. He is going to get close, they believe. But just how close is really going to make a very big difference in moving forward and convincing the superdelegates that, in fact, he is a viable talent, that he is not somebody who has been so damaged, so torn up and beaten down by the criticism and also by the fact that perhaps he is not connecting as well as he can, as well as he should, with those working-class voters, both male and female -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Suzanne, we see a lot of young Obama supporters behind you.

At some point later tonight, we will be hearing from Senator Obama and. We of course, carry his remarks live. They're over at that rally getting ready in Indiana. That's the next contest two weeks from today, together with North Carolina.

Let's go to Jessica Yellin.

Jessica, you're in Philadelphia at the CNN Election Express, the bus right behind you. You spent part of this day watching people vote. And big numbers actually turned out showing some of the enthusiasm, either Hillary Clinton supporters or Barack Obama supporters, but a lot of Democrats were out there casting their ballots.

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf.

Record high turnout is predicted, and we certainly saw it anecdotally at the polling station I was at, exceptionally busy. I can tell you it also seems to have contributed to what I am now hearing were some voting irregularities.

The League of Women Voters, which, as you know, is unaffiliated and not partisan, was monitoring a hot line throughout the day, and they said they had a record number of calls that the president of the group here said were significant voting problems throughout the state. And she said there were two kinds. One was that there were a huge number of calls about broken machines, precincts where they say folks showed up and every single machine inside a precinct was malfunctioning. None of the poll workers knew how to fix them.

And there were no paper ballots and no provisional ballots. And folks just were told to wait until they could get an expert in to fix them. And they said the wait took so long that people just left, went to work, and ended up not voting.

She said, this is not just one story, but they had hundreds of calls about that throughout the state. And then they said there was something else unusual. They said this year more people changed their registration from Republican to Democrat than at any other previous time. Well, the League of Women Voters says they got about 20 percent of all the calls they fielded today were from folks who were Republican, had changed to Democrat, but when they showed up at the polling place, they were registered as either unaffiliated, which means they couldn't vote in a Democratic primary, they couldn't vote for Clinton or Obama, or they were still registered as Republican.

No one told them they could have a provisional ballot and they were sent away, told they just can't vote in the Democratic primary. Now, they have been collecting these calls throughout the state. They say they have registered them, but there really is no remedy at this point.

I mentioned last hour there had been a lawsuit filed, but it was thrown out. And so now it's just going to go down in the history books. But they say there really were some significant problems throughout the state -- Wolf.

BLITZER: It's always so frustrating when we get these reports. They have had months and months and months to prepare for this election. And when you see these kinds of irregularities, you just get frustrated and you say, what's wrong either with those who organized the election or the machines, the antiquated machines? Whatever is wrong, it shouldn't happen. People should vote and their votes should count in a timely way.

That's just part of the frustration I'm sure you feel, all of our viewers feel as well. We have seen it way too many times across the country over these years.

Jessica, stand by. We are going to be getting back to you as well.

The polls have now closed in Pennsylvania. At the bottom of your screen, once the numbers actually start coming in, you will see those numbers come in. We are going to be updating you all the time. We can only tell you right now, based on the exit poll information we have, it's a competitive race between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

Let's check in with Campbell Brown.

Welcome, Campbell. You're joining us now. You have got a great political team with you.

CAMPBELL BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: I do indeed, Wolf. Thank you very much.

And let's kind of reset, because, as Wolf said, the polls just closed, and talk about why this night is so important, in particular for Hillary Clinton.

And, John, she needs to win tonight, but not just to win. She needs to win by a certain margin, right?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's the great debate of the Democratic Party. Is it a win unless it's a big win for Hillary Clinton?

And the whole idea is, can she win by two points or does she need to win by eight or 10 points? I will let the others jump in on that point. But the reason they're having that debate is because of the simple math. Even if she wins by eight or 10 points, the delegate split will be roughly even, because of the Democratic Party rules. So Barack Obama can lose Pennsylvania by eight or 10 points and break even.

There's even scenarios where he can come out ahead in the delegates that way. But assume he roughly breaks even. Well, then what changes the fundamentals of the race? Nothing. And so, the argument for Hillary Clinton is to change the psychology of the race, that it's not about delegates. It's about, I'm winning at the end. I'm winning the big states that matter in November. We suddenly see a lot of vulnerabilities in Barack Obama. She has to go to the superdelegates and say do, you really want to send this guy into a race with John McCain?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: So, the Obama race says it's about the math. And she says, no, no, no, it's about psychology. Now it's about changing your mind-set and seeing Hillary Clinton as the candidate who can win and seeing Barack Obama as the candidate who cannot win those battleground states, who hasn't been vetted, who is clearly vulnerable. After all, he's been vulnerable to her attacks, and imagine what the Republicans would do with him.

So, a win tonight in the double digits would certainly help her make that psychological case for those superdelegates like our friend, Donna Brazile, who are still sitting out there. She's saying to them, well, you want to win more than anything else, and I'm the candidate who can do that.

BROWN: But what if it's not in the double digits? What does that mean for her?

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, here's the issue, Campbell, is, again, how do you define a win? Who has won more states? Obama. Who is leading among pledged delegates? Obama. Who is leading among the popular vote? Obama.

And so it's also a matter of confidence. If she wins tonight, it also speaks to confidence in terms of raising money and also locking in superdelegates, freezing them where they are. And so that's really what this is. And so it's still a little hard for her to say I have won battleground states.

And, well, we're in the Democratic primary. He has won some key states that also there will be battleground states in November. So, she wants to redefine what winning means.

BROWN: But, Roland, she said today -- let me just get you -- press you on this.

MARTIN: Sure.

BROWN: Because she said today, the question you have to ask right now is, why can't he close the deal? He's outspent her two-to- one in Pennsylvania. He's run twice as many ads in Pennsylvania. Is that not a fair point? Why can't he close the deal?

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: It's a fair question if you're in her campaign, because he can also say, why couldn't you close the deal if you were so popular, the inevitable, leading in every single category? How was I, some nobody who came in and I am beating you in the Democratic primary, where you have been a standard bearer?

And so she has to deal with that. It's a little hard for Senator Hillary Clinton to go to the superdelegates and say, look, I'm the one who can beat John McCain, when they say, you're not even winning your own primary. You're not even winning your own party. It's a little hard for her to make even that argument.

BROWN: Jeff?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, we will know who the winner of this is when we see the superdelegates start to speak out at the end of the week, because this is all -- they are going to decide who the nominee is.

BROWN: Do you think they're waiting on tonight?

TOOBIN: I think tonight has a big impact on...

(CROSSTALK)

TOOBIN: Absolutely.

(CROSSTALK)

TOOBIN: And margins will matter. And over the past few months, few weeks, even though Hillary Clinton has done well in Texas, and in Ohio, the superdelegates have been overwhelmingly moving to Obama.

(CROSSTALK)

TOOBIN: What can change that momentum? What percentage does it take? We will know tomorrow whether any superdelegates are really starting to change course and go to her.

BORGER: You know, she's also playing sort of a long game to see if she can catch a break here.

Obama has made some mistakes. She wants to be out on the playing field if he makes another one. And that's what she's going to do. So, if she has to go all the way to June or beyond with this untested candidate, as she would call Obama, she's going to do that, because she wants to be there if he makes another mistake.

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: She's got to have dough.

BORGER: Exactly.

MARTIN: I mean, the bottom line is, her fund-raisers had difficulty. Even after she won Texas and Ohio, after Mississippi and Wyoming, they had a fund-raiser in New York. They lowered it to 50 bucks and it still wasn't sold out.

BROWN: So, she has got to convey momentum in order to...

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: If somebody is going to write a check, they have got to believe you're actually going to win. People aren't just going to give money away.

TOOBIN: I'm actually less sure that money matters as much as all that.

Obama outspent her by a fantastic amount in Pennsylvania.

MARTIN: Because he had the money.

TOOBIN: Well, that's right. And it may not have worked.

(CROSSTALK)

TOOBIN: And it may not have gotten enough.

MARTIN: Yes, but it did go from 25 points to close up to five or six.

(CROSSTALK)

TOOBIN: Winning is winning.

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: No, I understand. But winning by 25 is better than winning by five.

BROWN: All right. I heard John King comment on this exact point earlier, so I'm going to give you the closing thought, before we had a break.

KING: Obama had a chance to win this state two weeks ago, just before the whole dustup over bitter, Gods and guns, which our exit poll says people say that didn't hurt him.

It did change the conversation in the state. I was in that state at that very point and his people were starting to say and the unions helping him were starting to say, we're in striking distance. We have got a chance here.

That's when the ad buys in the Obama campaign went up. His bus tour had cut her margin significantly among white working-class voters. We will see what the exit...

(CROSSTALK)

BROWN: And then it stopped.

(CROSSTALK)

KING: Then it stopped. The whole conversation changed.

Now, she changed her mix of ads. She was more aggressive about other issues, too. So that one thing alone did not do it and our exit poll says it didn't matter. But what it did do is, it changed the tenor of their campaign, a campaign that was moving Obama's way. Remember Bill Clinton had just said -- reignited the whole Bosnia controversy again, and Obama stopped any more conversation about that.

So, it was moving his way. Then it stopped. Was it all that one thing? Probably not, but that was part of something that happened there, tactical adjustments, that changed it. There were people in this state, his people thought they had a chance to get it.

BROWN: All right. We are going to take a quick break. Stay with us.

The numbers are coming in, lots more, Pennsylvania. We're waiting.

Stay with us. We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: The polls in Pennsylvania closed some 17 minutes ago.

We're waiting for the first numbers, the raw vote to come in, the first ballots to be counted. Once we do, we will have a better sense where this race stands.

Based on the exit polls that we have received throughout the day, we can characterize the race between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama as competitive right now.

Welcome back to our continuing coverage. We're here at the CNN Election Center. I'm Wolf Blitzer reporting.

Big night, 158 delegates at stake. This is the biggest contest in these 10 remaining contests, primaries, and caucuses, before all of the states, territories have had their chance to weigh in on who should be the Democratic presidential nominee.

Soledad O'Brien and Bill Schneider are continuing to look at these exit poll numbers to get a clue of what's going on.

Soledad, we're getting some useful information.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, absolutely.

One of the things we wanted to see was what's the racial and gender breakdown of the people who are voting. So we first took a look at white men.

Who did they vote for? And the answer was?

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: They voted for Hillary Clinton. They were the most -- one of the most competitive groups in this entire campaign. People wondered, would they vote for their race or would they vote for their gender? Answer, they voted race., in the sense that they voted for the white candidate over the African-American, but by a relatively narrow margin, just seven points.

In Ohio last month, they voted for Clinton by 19 points. So this is much closer among white men than it was a month ago in Ohio.

O'BRIEN: But not the same story when you take a look at white women and how they voted.

SCHNEIDER: Less conflicted. White women voted for Hillary Clinton and they voted for her by a pretty solid margin, 64 percent for Clinton, 36 percent for Barack Obama. That's nearly 2-1.

And that's pretty close to the way they voted in Ohio. So, it's those white men who might have tilted the race a little bit more competitive than it was in Ohio.

O'BRIEN: In past contests, we have seen African-American -- huge African-American support for Barack Obama. See the same thing now?

SCHNEIDER: Yes, indeed. It's overwhelming -- 92 percent of African-American voters in Pennsylvania are voting for Barack Obama, which is even higher than in the past, only 8 percent for Hillary Clinton, 8 percent. She had hoped to break into double digits. She had in Ohio, not in Pennsylvania.

O'BRIEN: We will see how it translates into actual votes as the night wears on.

BLITZER: And a lot of those African-American votes, Bill and Soledad, they came around and decided it was a winnable proposition for him after they saw he could win in largely white states like Iowa and elsewhere. And, as a result, they said, go for Barack Obama.

SCHNEIDER: That's right. In the polling done among African- Americans before Iowa, it was split between Clinton and Obama. But once Obama won in Iowa and did well in New Hampshire, they decided, this candidate can get white votes.

BLITZER: Good. Bill Schneider is going to have continuing commentary at CNNPolitics.com.

We're going to check back with both of you, Bill Schneider and Soledad O'Brien.

Remember, CNNPolitics.com in general, it's a good place to be, especially as now the numbers are going to be coming in. You're going to be able to watch those numbers come in county by county in the state of Pennsylvania, CNNPolitics.com. Watch us with your laptop. That's a useful way of covering, observing what's happening on a critical night like this.

Let's get some more analysis from Campbell and the best political team on television.

BROWN: All right, Wolf, thanks.

And I want to check in with our panel back here. And I want to pick up where we left off a moment ago, guys.

And let me reintroduce everybody, Bill Bennett, Alex Castellanos, Donna Brazile, Paul Begala, and Jamal Simmons.

Welcome, again.

John King was making the point just a minute ago that Barack Obama seemed to be in Pennsylvania making some headway in terms of the polling numbers, and then it stopped at a certain moment, or seemed to. And just looking at some of the exit polls we have been talking about tonight, they showed that the late-breaking -- or the late deciders in this campaign seemed to be breaking for Hillary Clinton.

What do you think is going on here? And I will start with you, Bill.

BILL BENNETT, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think it was slowed down by the missteps or the revelations.

And we still don't know what to make of this. Look, Barack Obama does extraordinarily well the first time out he runs for president, and he may be the nominee. He likely will be. Nevertheless, we don't know a lot about him. So, these things came out, this stuff out of the San Francisco meeting, the stuff about the Weather...

BROWN: His bitter comments.

BENNETT: Right, the Weatherman connection.

(CROSSTALK)

BROWN: The Reverend Wright controversy, it happened since the last primary.

BENNETT: So, people are not saying, well, that's it. A few people are. But people are saying, well, I think we need to know more about this guy. Let's just slow this thing down and take another look. Let's find out some more about Barack Obama. And I think that pause is what you're seeing, not final judgment here, but that pause.

But be clear on this. I think everybody needs to be clear. The issues that are raised here are fundamentally important. You cannot be the president of the United States if people have doubts about your own relationship to the country and what you think about the country.

BROWN: I am going to come back you to, Alex, but I want to go to Jamal because you're an Obama supporter, for your sort of counter to that.

(CROSSTALK)

BROWN: Do you think the luster has worn off a little bit, given what has happened over the last six weeks?

(CROSSTALK)

JAMAL SIMMONS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: If this were -- if we were in a different situation, and Barack Obama, we thought he was 15, 20 points behind Senator Clinton today, we would be saying, oh, Barack Obama collapsed. It was horrible.

But you know what? That doesn't look like it's what happened. It looks like he's holding his margins, maybe even improving. He's perhaps gaining some ground perhaps with older voters. We have been hearing about -- Alexander Akroff (ph) from the YDA (ph) is telling me that there's surge in student turnout in Lehigh Valley.

We're seeing that he's actually holding on to the margins that he's had. So, maybe there is a pause, but maybe people actually are just voting the way they were. The reality is Hillary Clinton is an institutionally advantageous candidate. She's been in the state for a long time. She was 20 points ahead before. He spent a lot of money trying to catch up. And we may see that that actually helped closed the gap.

But what we do know is that he didn't collapse, he is still there, and he is leading still in every single measure and still outraising her with money and still generating big crowds. So, this nomination looks like it's still on track.

BROWN: Paul.

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, but this is what the problem with the comment about people in small towns, I think the poor debate performance. I think economists would call that an opportunity cost, right?

A campaign is a day-by-day attempt to dominate that, that little square right there and the blogosphere and the print press and radio. Every day, you're talking about something that's a problem is a day that you have lost.

George W. Bush was on a track to actually win the election legitimately in 2000 against Al Gore. And then in the closing days, it turned out he had a DUI and had hidden it from people. And it wasn't a total deal-killer, but it stopped his momentum. It changed the subject. And it required him for a couple of days to play defense. That's I think what happened to Senator Obama here.

BROWN: But, Donna, do you think -- look, it's been incredibly negative, especially the last two weeks. Forget about the Reverend Wright controversy, the bitter comments.

She also had her Bosnia misremembering what happened or whatever you want to call it. You know, have they both -- I mean, they entered this campaign both of them as superstars. And a lot of people view them both now as pretty typical politicians who are just grinding out a pretty negative campaign. How much have they both been hurt by this process?

DONNA BRAZILE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, when you look at the turnout today, 52 percent in Philadelphia, they are having record turnout, record turnout among young people, record turnout among older people.

Democrats are still by and large excited about the two candidates. And while Obama had some missteps, as my friend Bill Bennett just stated, there are no signs that he is fatally wounded.

I said this a couple hours ago. He came down from the stratosphere. Now he is at the cruising level, where he can actually reach out to these voters who clearly still don't know Obama. And they will get to know Obama. But he will not be defined by the type of comments that Bill made.

I take exception to this whole notion that somehow or another he is -- he has to explain every relation in his life. If that's the standard we're going to use, then Senator McCain will have to explain every relation. Senator Clinton will have to explain every relation.

And, by the way, I don't think the American people really care if you have a good relation with your neighbor or your employees or some other associations. They care about what you're going to do about the economy, what you're going to do about jobs. But, of course, we know Republicans like to fight on that terrain.

(CROSSTALK)

BENNETT: I just want a second when he's done.

(CROSSTALK)

BROWN: OK.

Alex, you get -- you get...

ALEX CASTELLANOS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, no, I think all the issues that Hillary Clinton has raised about Barack Obama, we're going to see again in the fall. I mean, I think there's going to be some lasting...

BROWN: This has been a preview of the general election campaign.

CASTELLANOS: Absolutely.

And is he tough enough? Her campaign slogan might as well be, you know who wears the pants in my family. She has called him out in Texas, and she out-toughed him in Texas and Ohio. She is trying to do the same thing here in Pennsylvania. In an uncertain world, you need strong leadership. You may not like me, but you know I'm tough.

And that's the campaign she's run against him. That will last, I think, into the general election.

BENNETT: It's not explaining every -- let me just be clear. It's not explaining every relation and association.

But when a guy who was a Weatherman, who blew up police stations, tried to blow up the Pentagon, threw the first fund-raiser for your political career, you damn sure better be able to explain that, because that's serious business. And when you compare him to Tom Coburn, people have questions. And he needs to answer those questions.

It's not every relation. People take that stuff seriously. John McCain takes it seriously. And you bet you will hear about it.

(CROSSTALK)

BRAZILE: When you go after a pastor who denigrated the Catholic Church, who called the Catholic Church a cult...

BENNETT: Fine. Fine.

(CROSSTALK)

BRAZILE: Fine. Let's all do it, Bill.

BENNETT: Go after it. And they went after McCain. And they continue to go after McCain.

BRAZILE: But will that solve our problems?

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: How much time did this network spend on Jeremiah Wright and how much time did they spend on John Hagee?

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: John Hagee is, I think, a preacher of hate. He hates the church that many of us belong to, the Catholic Church. And we have hardly ever mentioned that on the air. We covered Reverend Wright and his outrageous statements ad nauseam.

(CROSSTALK)

BROWN: But, in relationships, aren't the relationships different?

BEGALA: Yes. Yes. And here's why.

(CROSSTALK)

BROWN: I mean, Hagee just endorsed McCain. There's not a relationship there, right?

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: This is why it's worse. This is why it's worse.

I believe -- I'm not even for Barack, OK? I didn't vote for him. I believe him when he says he found spiritual sustenance in a man with whom he has political disagreements.

There's no spiritual sustenance that McCain is claiming from these crazy anti-Catholic preachers, like John Hagee. It's strictly a political deal. So, he is embracing that political philosophy. So, to me, it's much worse to be associated with John Hagee than it is to be Jeremiah Wright.

(CROSSTALK)

BENNETT: Total non sequitur.

(CROSSTALK)

BROWN: I got to go Democrat, Republican, Democrat, Republican.

(CROSSTALK)

BROWN: Bill, go ahead.

BENNETT: We're in the general election already.

BROWN: I know.

BENNETT: Obama has dissembled on this Wright thing from the beginning.

(CROSSTALK)

BENNETT: The "Rolling Stone" article made perfectly clear, way back when, 10 months ago, what Wright's views were. Obama asked him not to speak when he was announcing his candidacy. He knew all along what Wright was saying. And then he tries to tell us he wasn't aware of these views. Totally ridiculous.

CASTELLANOS: And he has -- I think Paul has it backwards. McCain's supporters, they support McCain. Obama is saying he supports someone whose statements put him way out of the mainstream of most American thought.

BROWN: OK. Jamal.

SIMMONS: It's so interesting to hear this from this side of the table.

What we saw on the Jeremiah Wright episode is Barack Obama being faced with what was an incredibly divisive moment. And instead of looking to distance himself, to cheapen himself, he tried to find a way to bring the entire country together, so that we could all get to a place of healing, so that we could make our country a better place. And now he is being attacked for it.

That's the kind of politics I think people are rejecting when they look for somebody like Barack Obama, because they want this change...

(CROSSTALK)

BROWN: But isn't this Hillary Clinton's argument? If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. He's running for president.

(CROSSTALK)

SIMMONS: Who said he can't stand the heat? He's winning the presidency -- the nomination.

(CROSSTALK)

BROWN: OK. One at a time. One at a time.

(CROSSTALK)

BROWN: OK, guys. You know what? We're going to take a quick break.

We have got to.

(CROSSTALK)

BROWN: I know. I know. I know.

We will come back with a lot more. Stay with us -- a lot more ahead, including the numbers from Pennsylvania.

We will be back right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Polls in Pennsylvania have now been closed for more than half an hour. We're describing this race as competitive, based on the exit poll numbers. We're still awaiting the first raw data, the first real numbers to be coming in.

And as we await those numbers to come in, I want to take a look at one ingredient, one factor that could persuade some of those undecided superdelegates who to support. John King is with us to help us better understand what we've put together. These three scenarios, the popular vote so far, before Pennsylvania, how these two candidates, John, have done, if we just take a look at those primary states, not the caucuses, primary states, not including Michigan or Florida where there was disputed elections.

As we all know, we've done the math. We see here. Barack Obama ahead of the popular vote on the primary states, 49 percent to 47 percent, but you can see it's pretty close; 13,300,000 or so for Obama, 12,794,000 for Hillary Clinton.

JOHN KING, CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And if you're having this conversation right now, Senator Clinton would like scenario one or the one we're going to get to in a minute, scenario three, because this has her relatively close. She would say primaries matter more than caucuses. The Obama campaign would say that's not democracy. Everybody counts.

But the reason we're having this conversation is because let's assume Pennsylvania is relatively close tonight. She wins even. Let's assume she wins, but doesn't get a huge lead in delegates. This conversation is coming soon to a kitchen table, a water cooler, and a Democratic Party debate near you because the superdelegates will have to decide upon what will we make our decision.

BLITZER: Because there would be enormous outrage if the eventual nominee didn't get the popular vote. A lot of people would say that was unfair. Let's walk over here to scenario number two, the popular vote. We've included the primaries and the caucuses. Now, I want to caution our viewers, the caucuses in some states, they don't tell us how these individuals actually voted. There are no real popular numbers that have come out, but we've done a good faith estimate to see what happened based on the delegates, how they were divided.

And in this scenario number two, very similar to scenario number one: 49 percent for Obama, 47 percent for Hillary Clinton; 13,865,000 for Obama, 13,097,000 for Hillary Clinton. And in this scenario, we're not including Michigan or Florida.

KING: And again, it's an estimate as you noted based on delegates awarded the percentage of the vote. We've made an estimate of what the actual votes were based on that. Under this scenario, you noticed that's almost 800,000 votes. Raw votes advantage Obama.

He would like to go to the table at the end of this assuming something like this holds up through Pennsylvania and then the nine remaining Democratic contests and say, look, I'm winning the popular vote. I did not get enough delegates, but I have more than her. She did not get enough delegates.

Again, I'm ahead, the Obama campaign will argue. And not only am I ahead in delegates, I'm ahead in the raw vote count where the Democratic Party, make it a lower case "d," I won more votes, I won more delegates, I should be the nominee. That is the Obama campaign's argument.

BLITZER: All right. Let's walk over to scenario number three. We've included our estimates of all the caucuses, so far the primaries. We've included Florida. Florida -- all the candidates were on the ballot, unlike Michigan. We're not including Michigan.

In Florida, no one could campaign there. The Democratic candidates didn't campaign, but there was an election there. The candidates were on the ballot. And if you take a look at this scenario, it's a little tighter; 48 percent for Obama, 47 percent for Hillary Clinton; 14,400,000 for Obama or so, 13,969,000 for Hillary Clinton.

Some will argue, you know what, he was less well known in those days. It's not exactly fair to him that he couldn't campaign in a state like Florida. He does well in states where he campaigns, but that's just an argument that will be made. KING: And it's an argument the Clinton campaign will spin the other way and say, we were all on the ballot in Florida. I got more votes. Of course, you have to count those votes and it shows a narrow margin. And why are we're having this conversation? You, I and half the people at those tables over there are getting e-mails from the Clinton campaign saying wait a minute, count Michigan too. Michigan is a big state.

Sure they broke the rules, but we need Michigan in November so we can't slight Michigan now. So the Clinton campaign would argue and she said this on "LARRY KING LIVE" last night that she's staying in this race, she said. And one of the reasons she suggested she would stay and all the way through the convention is because she wants to deal with the Michigan and the Florida question. And if we just count Florida's votes here she gets a little bit closer.

Trust me, her campaign wants to say count Michigan or find some way to seat Michigan's delegates anyway. She thinks that helps her. The uncertainty about this, that math is a little better for Senator Clinton and it shows you she can bring Florida up to the table in her argument with people.

The votes don't count for the delegates. She can bring that number to the table if she can win Pennsylvania, and there's 10 states left including Pennsylvania.

If she can win six or seven of them, that's when she will say I'm winning at the end. Maybe I haven't closed the gap completely but if you look at Florida and you look at Michigan, had they counted, I would be the nominee. She needs that in the end.

Again, this is a hypothetical but these are the conversations and these are the numbers. In both campaigns, the strategists are looking at these numbers saying what are they going to argue, trying to guess in advance what the other side is going to argue and then making their own case.

BLITZER: But what is clear that in all of these scenarios, it's pretty close. After all these contests, it's not that far apart on the popular vote right now, pretty competitive as we see. And we're going to update all these scenarios as the numbers come in from Pennsylvania. Pretty soon, we'll start getting in some of those raw numbers from Pennsylvania and the nine other contests, eight more states plus Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico is going to be potentially pretty important.

KING: Puerto Rico matters too. And what would desperately help the Clinton campaign's argument, Wolf, is if one of these scenarios showed her leading. They all show her trailing right now, which is why Pennsylvania matters tonight, because not only is it the biggest delegate basket available in the 10 contests remaining, it's the biggest state. So it's more populous.

So she needs a margin there and a good margin to change. These numbers to her psychological argument to the superdelegates has to be I'm a stronger candidate going into the general election. It would sure help her make that case if in any one of these scenarios, and trust me, that's the one they pick, showed her ahead of Barack Obama.

BLITZER: I know. As they say, they'll be looking to Michigan because that will certainly help her as we all know. All right, John, stand by. I want to go back to Soledad and to Bill. They've got some more exit poll numbers that will better help us understand what's going on.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. A moment ago we were taking a look at race and gender. So now, we want to take a look at the age of the voters. So let's look at that category of the youngest, 18 to 29-year-olds. How are they doing?

BILL SCHNEIDER, SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Let's point out this irony. You've got an African-American candidate. You've got a female candidate. And one of the biggest divisions you're seeing in the primaries is about age.

Take a look at the younger voters. Those under 30. They are voting solidly 62-38 for Barack Obama. This has been true in state after state.

O'BRIEN: Right.

SCHNEIDER: It's about the same as in Ohio. Young voters are flocking to the polls in record numbers to vote for Barack Obama.

O'BRIEN: How about on the other end of the spectrum, those voters who are 65 and older?

SCHNEIDER: They are voting for Hillary Clinton. They have been all along. Take a look. They are voting 60 percent for Clinton, 39 percent for Obama.

Now, this is not as good a showing for Clinton as she had about six weeks ago in Ohio. In Ohio, she got 72 percent of the senior votes. Now, we see she's only getting 60 percent.

One other factor that's very important in Pennsylvania, however, Ohio, 14 percent of the voters were seniors. In Pennsylvania, 27 percent of the voters are seniors. Almost twice as many. Pennsylvania has the second oldest population in the country.

O'BRIEN: Which will help Hillary Clinton.

SCHNEIDER: It is helping Hillary Clinton. She's not doing as well among seniors, but there are a lot more of them in Pennsylvania and that's why she's still -- they're very competitive there.

O'BRIEN: And, of course, we're taking a look at the book ends but there's a big gulf in the middle, too, of voters around.

SCHNEIDER: A lot of voters between 30 and 60, God bless them. And you know what happens? Every few years as they get older and older and older, there are more votes for Clinton, fewer votes for Obama. It is a spectacularly strong function of age. Who would have thought age would be the determining factor in this campaign? O'BRIEN: And all the other things we're talking about, it's really age at the end of the day.

BLITZER: Well, when the race is close, everything becomes a decisive factor you could argue, and this looks like it's a competitive race based on the exit polls that we have. Thanks, guys, very much. We're going to know you're continuing to crunch these numbers.

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We're getting some real numbers now coming in. These are the first numbers. Less than one percent have come in.

Right now, very, very early, I want to caution everyone. Hillary Clinton with 65 percent to Barack Obama's 35 percent. You can see how early it is; 1,847 votes for Hillary Clinton, 978 for Barack Obama.

A very, very early night in this process, but we're going to continue to update these numbers as they come in. You'll see the numbers come in at the bottom of your screen as well.

Also, by the way, I want to back up. You can see over here the counties as the counties come in, and they register who's ahead in these respective counties. The light blue Hillary Clinton, the dark blue Barack Obama. But once again, less than one percent of the votes, way less than one percent coming in so far.

A slight -- just to give you a little flavor of what these numbers are, it's going to be a night that we'll be watching the raw data, the real numbers, because based on the exit poll numbers we can only tell you this is a competitive contest.

We're going to continue our coverage from the CNN ELECTION CENTER. This night, an important night for Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. At some point, we'll be hearing directly from both these candidates as well. Much more of our coverage right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: It's been 46 minutes since the polls closed in Pennsylvania. The numbers now finally have started coming in, the actual numbers is less than one percent. Very much less than one percent so far. Hillary Clinton with 60 percent, Barack Obama's 40 percent. Actually, it's just changed. One percent of the ballots have now been counted. One percent of the precincts reporting 60 percent to 40 percent.

Let's take a look at the actual numbers that we have; 20,936 for Clinton, 13,088 for Barack Obama. This is a night that we've characterized this race as competitive because based on the exit polls we can't project who will be the winner. We're going to wait for much more of these numbers to come in, then we'll be in a better chance to project a winner in Pennsylvania.

But the stakes for both of these candidates very high tonight. And remember, at some point both of them will be speaking as well. Let's get some more analysis from Campbell Brown and the best political team on television.

CAMPBELL BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf, while we're waiting on those numbers, I want to talk to some of our Democrats back here about a little bit of the news of today. You know, Paul Begala, this is a hugely important day for Hillary Clinton. And someone steps in it and that would be her husband.

(LAUGHTER)

Just to give people a little bit of the back story here, he's doing an interview with a radio station in Pittsburgh and Bill Clinton is asked about the fallout over his comments comparing Barack Obama's win in South Carolina...

PAUL BEGALA, CLINTON SUPPORTER: Right.

BROWN: ... to Jesse Jackson's win, and he says that the Obama campaign played the race card against him. That it was part of a campaign plan. And then later in an interview, he denied saying it. What is up with Bill Clinton?

BEGALA: He referred to, first of, he was asked a question by journalists and he responded to it.

BROWN: Yes.

BEGALA: Now, I generally counsel my clients to duck questions from people like you, but -- and then I get grief for it. So let's give him credit for answering the question that was asked of him.

BROWN: OK.

BEGALA: He referred to a very controversial memo that the Obama campaign sent out back in January that Senator Obama very quickly denounced. He said that was unfair and it listed a bunch of comments from supporters of Senator Clinton, some from Hillary Clinton or I think the president themselves.

But Senator Obama right away said that's not right, that's not fair. I don't like it. He said, we'll see, that's an example of it. And, you know, I think it's good that Senator Obama disavowed it, but it's long past and I think he just answered the question he was asked. I haven't talked to him about it today.

BROWN: But it does take attention away from her on a day where --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is why --

BEGALA: When we give it attention, and then we say, look, it's getting all the attention then, you know --

ALEX CASTELLANOS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: But he earned it. This is why you don't let surgeons operate on members of their own family. They're too close. Bill Clinton had the golden touch politically, could do no wrong, but not in this campaign.

He's done it consistently. He can't help her by making good news because he diminishes her if he talks policy. That's her job. He can only make bad news, and that's what he's doing.

BROWN: Do you agree with that, Jamal?

JAMAL SIMMONS, OBAMA SUPPORTER: Sure. Bill Clinton is Gladys Knight. He's not a Pip. You know, he's nobody's --

BROWN: He doesn't know to be a Pip.

SIMMONS: He's nobody's backup singer. So, it's hard to, you know, get that spotlight and put it back on the front winner.

BROWN: But it kind of seemed like they have gotten their act together over the last few weeks, where they were really working in tandem. And he was making a lot of headway for her in some of the rural areas in Pennsylvania especially.

DONNA BRAZILE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I'm surprised that the president responded in the way he did respond. The truth is to say, it really has hurt Senator Clinton's ability to reach out and to bring African-Americans back into her fold.

African-Americans started off this contest wanting to back Hillary Clinton because they not only believe that she was a winner, but they believe that she's a fighter. They are now with Barack Obama, and we'll see later on tonight once the results come in. Part of the reason why they're with Obama is because they now think that he is the winner and he's the fighter in the family.

BROWN: Bill?

BILL BENNETT, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I've got to say I admire her. I never thought I'd say that. But she's --

BRAZILE: Can I -- can I record that?

BENNETT: Yes. She's the energizer bunny. Now, I've called her a bunny. You know. I've got to get her to sleep. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Be careful.

BENNETT: No. I mean, the poor lady. You know? I mean, she has to put up with Bill Clinton, first of all, all her life.

Second, she runs this race. It looks like she's going to be the nominee. This is going to be a coronation. Now, it doesn't look that way. She's even got to put up with "Saturday Night Live."

But I'll tell you on a serious level, perseverance. I mean, she is a lesson in perseverance to keep on slogging through. How does she get up in the morning and do it? You know, I mean, it's a very admirable trait.

CASTELLANOS: I saw a headline the other day that said "Clinton focuses on women." I was so glad it was Hillary.

(LAUGHTER)

PANEL: Ooh.

BROWN: OK, Alex. Had to get that line in. OK. Paul, go ahead.

BEGALA: I think sometimes we tend to overthink these things. Bill Clinton is the greatest political talent of my lifetime, certainly in my party. OK? He's out there campaigning. Any Democrat in America would love to have his support just like the Republicans always wanted to have Ronald Reagan's support. And I think sometimes we sort of overthink it.

There's good and bad in everybody, but the good in Bill Clinton is so much help to his wife in any of the Democrat campaigns for, that it just completely outweighs anything else.

SIMMONS: Here's the one tough spot. We have an election coming up in November, where we have a president presiding over an economy that's in recession. We've got a war that's been going on, and people still can't explain why we're there or why we're going to stay.

And what we don't need to have is an election about Bill Clinton. We need to be having an election in November about George Bush. And that's one of the dangers of having Hillary Clinton. If we've got a change versus more of the same election, you don't want to be in the position where John McCain all of a sudden becomes the change agent because he's the different one while Hillary Clinton is the forth member of the same two families who's running for president.

BEGALA: He does have the right to defend himself. Those racial issues are at the core of his being. And I understand politically, he probably should have just smiled and taken the hit. But I cannot blame him for wanting to defend himself on the most important issue in his life.

BRAZILE: At a time when the south was changing, he led the way along with many other progressives and I hope that's not an offensive word to describe Bill Clinton, because he is seen as a centrist. But that's the reason why blacks flocked to his campaign back in the 1990s because they saw Bill Clinton as a change candidate.

But today, they're looking at another candidate who represents change and that's why people when they talk about Barack Obama, and Barack Obama, they see what they saw in Bill Clinton back in the 1990s.

SIMMONS: That's right.

BROWN: On that subject, the demographics in Pennsylvania, there's been a lot discussed about the demographics, particularly the intense interest in reaching out to those white working class voters in Pennsylvania. We saw them all doing these photo ops, Barack Obama bowling, Hillary Clinton doing shots. But it looks like from the exit polling that she had no problems. That was her base, continues to be her base in Pennsylvania.

BENNETT: She did shots better than he bowled.

BROWN: OK. Fair point.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

BENNETT: I don't think he was in the alley, I think, the whole time.

Well, that's -- I mean, that's very important not only in the primary. It's very important in the general election. You're just describing some of the --

(CROSSTALK)

BROWN: Because those could potentially be John McCain voters.

(CROSSTALK)

BENNETT: Yes, some of the swing voters. Absolutely. Can I just go back to those --

BROWN: Yes, go ahead.

BENNETT: One other thing on the Clinton thing, she made some news today. And the Bill Clinton story was still lingering. The Iran statement she made was rather extraordinary. I thought it was very interesting which moves to the right of John McCain on Iran, but that, too, was obscured by some of the smaller stuff.

BROWN: Right. OK. We got to go to Wolf real quick. We're very close to hopefully being able to make a projection in Pennsylvania. I'm understanding that a lot of numbers are coming in, but Wolf has some other business to take care of.

BLITZER: All right. We're watching this very, very closely, and we're getting the actual numbers coming in. About three percent of the precincts have now reported. But I want to walk over to John King because he's looking at this map of Pennsylvania, where the numbers are coming in so far.

And we see the light blue, Hillary Clinton. The darker blue, Barack Obama. These are counties that are now beginning to report numbers, John.

KING: And just three percent of the vote reported, so it's still early. You see the numbers coming in. Right now, about a 10-point margin for Senator Clinton. Why aren't we ready to call the race just yet?

Number one, on the early results, we want to see more results. This would be a surprise. That center just switched. Look at that. That's the wonder of the wall.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Doesn't mean he's won but it means he's ahead.

KING: He just passed her. Senator Clinton was leading in the early returns in Center City, Philadelphia, which would be a huge shock. And you see it swinging back and forth. Just went back to 50/50. Very early precincts. Only 11 percent of the vote inside Philadelphia.

But it's significant for this reason as we watch it early on. I want to shrink the map down a little bit, and you're going to watch that switch back and forth as precinct after precinct comes in. We expect Obama will win Center City, Philadelphia.

I want to show you this. This is the four suburban counties in the center of Philadelphia. To have a chance to win this state, the Obama campaign needed a net margin of 100,000 plus votes out of this area right here, the southeast corner of the state. So that's what we'll watch as the night goes on.

But most of those votes would have to come out of Philadelphia. Probably 80,000 to 85,000 of their margin in their dream scenario was winning Philadelphia.

So if Hillary Clinton can keep it that close in Center City, Philadelphia, as the night goes on, forget about it. But again, remember, we need to emphasize these are very early returns.

Now, let's go back out to the full state map. Otherwise, this is about what we had expected. Nothing from Scranton yet. We want to see the smaller cities. Scranton here, then you move down the valley right here. This is the old steel country. Bethlehem and Allentown down here.

So we haven't seen enough results here to make our call but Senator Clinton winning. Remember, we said earlier there was a blue collar county out here? So far, very early. We need to see that fill in. The rest of the state -- that would be a surprise. We're watching. It's just starting to come in.

BLITZER: And we'll watch Pittsburgh as well. All right. This race is competitive, very competitive. We're going to be watching it. Right now, we'll take a quick break. Much more of our coverage from the CNN ELECTION CENTER right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Polls in Pennsylvania have now been closed for almost an hour. Three percent, actually five percent of the precincts have now reported. Let's update you on the actual numbers coming in with five percent of the vote in.

Fifty-three percent for Hillary Clinton, 47 percent for Barack Obama. In real numbers, 60,374 for Clinton. 53,412 for Barack Obama. Five percent of the vote in.

You take a look at this map of Pennsylvania. You see the light blue states -- light blue counties. Those are counties where Hillary Clinton is winning right now.

The dark blue are counties where Barack Obama is winning right now, but only five percent of the precincts reporting. So it's still relatively early in the process but we're watching this very closely with John King who is over here.

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