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CNN ELECTION CENTER
History-Making Win for Obama; Nancy Pelosi Talks About Obama Victory; Turning Red States Blue
Aired November 5, 2008 - 11:59 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Hello to our viewers. In so many ways, today is truly extraordinary. We want to welcome you to our special post-election coverage, "Transition to Power."
I'm Wolf Blitzer at the CNN Election Center in New York.
CAMPBELL BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Campbell Brown.
At this hour, there are still a few critical races and ballot results that have been too close to call. We're going to have the latest details on all of that.
There are questions about what an Obama administration will look like, its priorities, and the questions about the balance of power on Capitol Hill.
We'll also look at what led up to these incredible scenes from just a few hours ago. And we're going to focus on a question lurking somewhere in the minds of each of these revelers, not to mention the president-elect. What happens now?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENT-ELECT: The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even in one term. But America, I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there. I promise you, we as a people will get there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: It's pretty clear that issue #1 for the voters and the priority for most of the people who went to the ballot box yesterday was the economy.
You're looking at some exit poll data right now. Soledad O'Brien is going to have more for us later.
Our panel of analysts will shed some light on the transition of this new administration into power and what it will mean for the U.S. economy.
BROWN: And about last night, Wolf, John King is also going to join us with Barack Obama's map to victory, a map that remains a work in progress. Three states at this hour still too close to call. And the state of the U.S. Senate. Democrats clearly have padded their majority, but the final balance of power is a major unanswered question.
And this, we want to say, is noble. Campaigning is one thing, actually running the country is another.
Former New York governor Mario Cuomo once said politicians campaign in poetry but govern in prose. And with that in mind, here's a look at some of the major goals candidate Obama promised to focus on, and our pledge to keep the new administration and President-Elect Obama accountable for those campaign promises.
At the top of the list, middle class tax cuts, funded in part by allowing the Bush tax cuts for the very wealthy to expire. Obama also was an early advocate of a second economic stimulus package.
He hasn't been the first presidential candidate or president, of course, to call for energy independence. Obama wants an all inclusive approach from wind and solar to so-called clean coal and limited offshore drilling.
His signature foreign policy issue is what he calls a responsible ending of the war in Iraq, coupled with major new focus on Afghanistan.
In the debates, Obama called health care an American right, and he proposes a near-universal employer-based system of coverage.
The list goes on and will end with what may be the hardest promise of all to pull off, ending what the president-elect described last night as the partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long.
Well, talking about last night, Chicago has seen and made and changed political history like few other cities in the world. But what the world witnessed there last night, on election night, and what is happening today in private is history in all caps.
And CNN's Candy Crowley was there for the big night. She's there also for the day after.
And Candy, give us a feel for what it was like to be there, to be part of the crowd, what Obama tried to convey in that victory speech.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of all, look, it was history. And I think whether you're a reporter or one of the people in the crowd, it was awesome.
You don't always cover history. You cover a lot of fibrillations as a reporter when you get a real heartbeat like that. It is something to watch, and clearly some place you want to be in that "front row seat" in history. So, it was an awesome night, clearly, but as for what he wanted to do in this speech, I thought it was so interesting. Remember that this was a man that said if I lose this race, it will not be because of my color. It will be because I didn't get my policies across. And yet the first part of his speech was an acknowledgment of the obvious. And he said, listen, this is -- we understand now that when we say you can do anything in America, we have proven, of course, that you can.
But after that, he went right to that first bite that you played at the opening of the show, Campbell. And basically, I think, started to kind of tamp down the wild expectations there are out there.
I cannot tell you, traveling to almost every state with him, how much the hope and the expectations now weigh on him. And you see the reaction overseas. So he has this sort of international burden.
So I think that what he was trying to do there and what was obvious that he was trying to do was kind of pull down that expectation and say, listen, this may take some time. Might even not happen before my first term. He didn't say specifically, but I think that was an attempt to say, give me some time here and, oh, by the way, your work's not done either. So a really interesting speech, I thought, saluting the past and what the present means, but looking into the future and saying let's all sort of settle down here and get to work.
One last thing. I thought it was very fun today that there are things that Barack Obama has said he has missed while being out on the campaign trail, and one of them is clearly his daughters.
He saw them off to school today, that sort of ordinary thing that frankly presidents don't ever get to do. I am reminded, of course, that most presidents who get into office certainly find out that their power is not complete. They're going to have to work with people, their life is no longer their own.
This is something that has really eaten at Obama, the lack of privacy, the constant intense cameras on him. He has not always taken easily to that. But this is a whole different ball game now, so he seems to be enjoying those last kind of semiprivate moments with his family while he kind of looks forward to what will be an administration certainly under the glare.
I would also mention that if you look back at George Bush's term, that, in fact, the most productive time of any president is that first year when he has a lot of good will, bipartisan good will. So this is the time he's going to have to act. He needs to come quickly out of the box -- Campbell.
BROWN: All right. Candy Crowley for us.
Candy, appreciate it.
We want to turn quickly because House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is speaking now. Good news comes in threes for her. Of course, Election Day saw her win reelection in California, get a bigger majority in Congress to work with, and her party, of course, taking the White House.
And as we mentioned, she's speaking right now on Capitol Hill. Let's listen in.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE SPEAKER: But our increased numbers in the House better enable us to work closely with our new president for a vision for America and plan to succeed, again, as we unify the American people. And as I pledged last night, I do again, that we will do so in a strong bipartisan way, with civility in our debate and fiscal responsibility in our budgeting.
The economy, of course, is the top item on the agenda as we go forward. And we'll all be planning what happens in January when we meet with the new president-elect. Even before then, we have a stimulus package on the table that I hope the Republicans in the Senate will allow to be taken up in a lame duck session.
I'm in communication with the White House about such a stimulus package to grow our economy by creating jobs, to do it in a newer, greener way, to recognize the unemployment situation in our country by extending unemployment insurance, to understand that people are hungry in America, and provide additional emergency food assistance, and to give help to the states for their health needs for seniors and children and other needs that they have.
Central to the job creation issue is a strong piece for rebuilding infrastructure of America, again, in a way that reduces our dependence on foreign oil, creates good jobs in America. And that is the first order of business that we will have. If it appears to have opportunity, then we will have a lame duck session to take it up. But again, those conversations are still taking place with the White House.
The agenda as we go forward, as you know, has always been about, again, growing our economy, expanding access to health care, and improving the quality of education for all Americans, ending our dependence on foreign oil, and bringing an end to the war in Iraq. And again, in a bipartisan way, we'll be discussing these issues as we go forward.
BLITZER: All right. So there's Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker, outlining some of her priorities right now. A very good day for the Democrats, not only recapturing the White House, but also expanding the Democratic majority in both the House and the Senate.
Senator Barack Obama's historic victory was stunning in so many ways, especially when you look at the votes. The president-elect didn't just carry key battleground states, he has effectively redrawn the political map, turning several red states blue and changing the balance of power in Washington.
Let's get a closer look right now at what happened. We're going to walk over to John King. He's got the magic map. And you know, it's pretty amazing, John. We spent so much time over these past several weeks and months looking at these Republican states, historic Republican states like Virginia or Indiana, or North Carolina, for that matter. Ohio. And you know what? Things have changed.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The sweep of the Obama victory, Wolf, is quite stunning and impressive if you are a Democrat.
349 is the electoral count we have him at now. We have yet to call Missouri and North Carolina. They're both very close, so we're going to go into late into the day and perhaps...
BLITZER: Those are the only two states that have not yet been projected.
KING: Only two states not projected yet. That might be a few days before we're done with the counts there. There could possibly be recounts there. We'll watch that as we go on.
But already at 349. And it is the sweep of the Obama victory that makes it interesting.
This is the '04 map. This is Bush/Kerry in '04. What did Barack Obama promise to do when he won the nomination? To stretch the map.
He said he would compete in Virginia. He said he would compete in Ohio and Indiana. And he said he would make the Southwest fertile ground for the Democrats. And he said he would take back Iowa.
That's what he said he would do. That's what he did.
He won out in the Southwest. He took back Iowa. He took Indiana and Ohio, two ruby red states critical to the Republican coalition. He won Virginia, and he may well win North Carolina in the end, Wolf. They're still counting the votes there. Sweeping in its scope and in its -- what it says about the long-term politics.
Look at this in Pennsylvania. You win presidential races in America increasingly in the suburbs. This is suburban Philadelphia.
Yes, he wins with the African-American vote, 80 percent in the city. But come out into the suburbs.
These were hotly contested last time, 60-40 in Montgomery County; 55-45 in Bucks County. More significantly, Chester County was a Republican county, even President Bush carried this four years ago. Barack Obama winning 54-44.
So, Wolf, he wins red states, he wins in the suburbs. This out here is very telling looking forward for the Republican Party. A more than 2-1 margin among Latino voters is what propelled Barack Obama out in the Southwest. If you are the Republicans looking at this map this morning, you are very troubled. BLITZER: And what are the final percentages in those key battleground states that we spent so much time focusing in on -- Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida?
KING: Here's Ohio for you, 52-47. That's a pretty impressive win, five points in the state of Ohio, which has been a key battleground state. President Bush carried it narrowly four years ago, Barack Obama takes it away.
This is a very big win in the state of Pennsylvania. Again, this was a three-point race. Kerry won four years ago by 3. Barack Obama putting up a very impressive win there.
Indiana was the other one...
KING: Florida. Florida is another big win down there, 51-48. Only three points, but significantly, again, held the Democratic base in southern Florida. This is where close races are decided, in Florida.
And Barack Obama, watch the blue. Orlando and Tampa, this is the I-4 corridor. This is yesterday, that's four years ago. Look at all of that red. One tossup county in the middle. That is why Barack Obama is not only president, but president with a big electoral lead.
BLITZER: All right. Now, the Democrats in the legislative branch, they pick up at least five seats in the Senate, at least 16 seats in the House of Representatives. That expands their majority pretty dramatically.
KING: It certainly does. It gives Obama more room to work with, also perhaps more pressure on him to say no to some of his own party members.
Here's where we started, Wolf, last night in the Senate, a 51- seat Democratic majority. Here's where we are now when you turn it over.
All these races that are colored in have been called. There were 35 in all, four left to call. The Democrats are guaranteed to have 56.
They could get to 60 if they run the board here. These are all Republican seats.
In Minnesota, this race is close, possibly going to a recount. Norm Coleman, the Republican incumbent, and Al Franken.
This Oregon race very, very close, as well. A Republican incumbent there.
The question here is whether Saxby Chambliss is over 50 when they count the absentee ballots. The Republicans look like they will hold this one, but it could go to a runoff. We will see. And the Alaskan race between Ted Stevens, the longest-serving Republican, just convicted last week. So the Democrats could conceivably get to 60. Most think maybe they'll win one or two of these and end up with 57 or 58.
BLITZER: And in the House of Representatives? They expand by at least 16.
KING: At least 16. We started here, 236, and they will get at least 16, so up to 252. Eleven races, I believe, were still uncalled in the House right now.
Republicans are saying for them, that's actually a decent night. Hard to say you lost 16, you may lose 25. But they thought they would lose perhaps more than 30.
Republicans now think they'll lose somewhere in the area of 22 seats in the House of Representatives. And given the big Obama victory, they say that's not so bad.
Essentially, what you have, Wolf, in our politics right now is, if you went back to '92, just after the Clinton victory, 57 members of the United States Senate, I think it was about 252, 254 in the House of Representatives. The lineup in Washington come January 20th is going to look very much like it did January 20, 1993.
BLITZER: And we'll see if the Obama administration learned the mistakes that the Clinton incoming administration made back in '92 and '93.
BLITZER: All right, John. We're going to get back to you.
Campbell, quite a historic moment. Stunning, stunning numbers, as we just saw.
BROWN: Indeed, Wolf, absolutely.
And we know everybody out there has voted already, but we are asking you to express yourself one more time. Tell us if you think a new president really can make a difference. Will a vote for change bring change? Call 1-866-979-VOTE, or text "yes" or "no" to 94553.
What were voters most concerned about as they cast their ballots yesterday? The exit poll data is fascinating. Our Soledad O'Brien is going to walk us through it in just a moment.
BLITZER: Only moments ago we heard from the secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice. She spoke about what this moment in American history means right now. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE: I did not want this morning to pass without taking note of the extraordinary election last night. This was an exercise in American democracy of which Americans across the political spectrum are justifiably proud.
I want to note that Senator McCain was gracious. He's a great patriot. I want to note that President-Elect Obama was inspirational, and I'm certain he will continue to be.
The Department of State will do everything that we can, and I personally will do everything that I can, to make sure this is a smooth transition. We are preparing for that transition. Sean will tell you more about that.
But one of the great things about representing this country is that it continues to surprise. It continues to renew itself. It continues to beat all odds and expectations.
You just know that Americans are not going to be satisfied until they really do form that perfect union. And while the perfect union may never be in sight, we just keep working at it and trying.
And I just want to close on a personal note as an African- American. I'm especially proud, because this is a country that's been through a long journey in terms of overcoming wrongs and making race not the factor in our lives. That work is not done, but yesterday was obviously an extraordinary step forward.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: She grew up in the segregated South in Birmingham, Alabama. Clearly a moment she will treasure forever.
The election, at least the primaries, the early primaries a couple years ago, began sort of as a referendum on the war in Iraq. The candidates then competing for their visions of what was going on right then and there. But in the end, Iraq faded, the war on terror faded, the economy trumped all else. That was issue #1, the biggest factor in the decision yesterday by the American people.
Let's go to Soledad O'Brien. She's at voter analysis looking at all of this.
Soledad, it wasn't even close. The economy by far the major issue for American voters.
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, absolutely. And that turned out to be very important for Barack Obama.
If you take a look at this question, which we asked under our demographics here, "Did you feel your family finances were worse than four years ago?" If you open that up, take a look at that. That's really -- go to the United States as a whole.
People who felt that over the last four years their family finances had gotten worse, 70 percent of them voted for Barack Obama. That is really telling, because that number of people is actually a very big number.
Now, if you take a look -- let's go to people who disapproved of President Bush, another very big number, disapproval of Bush. Open that up, U.S. Take a look, 67 percent of that vote went to Barack Obama.
Now, the number of people who disapproved of President Bush, 72 percent. So stay with me on the map for a second. That's two-thirds of the three-fourths of the people who disapprove of President Bush voted for Barack Obama.
I also want to show you this. Another leg of the stool, if you will, in Barack Obama's victory was a look at who actually turned out for him. And it was way across the board.
I'm going to open up Latino voters -- 66 percent of the Latino vote went to Barack Obama. But I can throw out some other numbers that would probably clarify it even more.
He got 95 percent of the African-American, 43 percent of the white vote, 66 percent of the under 30 vote, 68 percent of the new voters. So those three legs, the economy, a vote against President Bush, a disapproval of President Bush, and then that wide-ranging turnout, those all factored into why Barack Obama won yesterday -- Wolf.
BLITZER: I see you have a group up there for Jewish voters. How did Obama do with Jewish voters?
O'BRIEN: Let's take a look. Open it up -- 78 percent of the Jewish vote went for Barack Obama. We can break it down by state if you have a specific state. I can check it out for you as well.
BLITZER: No. It's very interesting, because I know in Florida, for example, it was really important. What about Florida?
O'BRIEN: Let's take a look at Florida. Go state by state. And of course, it was "The Great Schlep" that Sarah Silverman was talking about, trying to get people out to vote. We've got the Jewish vote, it's hard to see so up close.
BLITZER: I don't see it up there, but we'll get it.
O'BRIEN: Where's my Jewish vote?
BLITZER: They may not have asked voters in Florida about their religion.
O'BRIEN: We'll have to find that out for you, because I think that considering sort of the focus that was on Jewish voters in Florida, unless that number is tiny, which I find heard to believe, then, in fact, it'll be interesting to see how that came out.
BLITZER: Yes, but 78 percent, that's a lot better than a lot of the Obama people thought they would do.
BLITZER: All right, Soledad. Thanks very much.
Let's go back to Campbell. She's got the best political team on television ready to assess what's going on.
This is an amazing day when you think about it in American history.
BROWN: An incredible day, Wolf. And where to begin?
We have so much ground to cover, guys. But why don't we follow up on what Soledad was just talking about and start with the demographics here?
Mark, you heard her, minorities, obviously, young voters, new voters. A coalition, a new coalition, a coalition that Democrats can build on for years to come?
MARK HALPERIN, SR. POLITICAL ANALYST, "TIME": Potentially. You know, as dangerous for Republicans as the geographic map is, with the solid Upper Midwest, solid East, solid on the West Coast, it is that demographic victory of Obama that is potentially dangerous.
If you get Hispanics and young voters and single women forming in allegiance to the Democratic Party in this election, and in perhaps the next one, that is Democratic destiny. Those groups are growing while the Republican base is status or shrinking. It could be a real problem, and Obama's aware of that and his political people are aware of that. He won't govern only thinking about that, but he'll have an eye on it.
BROWN: Are Republicans recognizing that, that, just as Mark said, this is the demographic that's growing in this country? I mean, it was striking to me last night if you watched the two victory parties. I mean, let's be honest, the crowd at Obama's rally looked like America. And the crowd at John McCain's didn't. It was very homogenous.
ALEX CASTELLANOS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I wouldn't exactly call ours a victory party last night, but, hey, it might have been.
CASTELLANOS: No, when you look at the numbers, turn Mark's numbers on your head, the only group McCain carried was voters over 65. You know, other than that, John McCain lost.
HILARY ROSEN, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, HUFFINGTONPOST.COM: Male voters.
CASTELLANOS: Well, we lost males by a point and lost to the female voters by 13 points. So yes, right there the future of the party very much in doubt.
Look, this was a new frontier election. A new generation of challenges. America wanted somebody who would tell us a story -- how are we going to take this country into the future?
Barack Obama created that narrative. Here's where this country should go. John McCain only had a narrative about himself.
So yes, the Republican Party now needs the story. Where do we go? How do we lead this country into the future?
ROSEN: Well, and John McCain sort of -- he gave up on the youth vote. And if you looked at the Republican convention, I think those images started very early on.
The crowds at the convention and what they ended up doing, whereas the Obama campaign really worked hard on the images they were presenting to the public. And the McCain campaign just didn't seem to pay attention to it.
ROLAND MARTIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: But Campbell, the only issue that jumps out though is, do moderates have a home in the current Republican Party? That is critical.
You have a number of people who are no longer self-identifying as Republican. And so if you keep pushing the moderates away -- I would really caution the folks who are the conservatives of the GOP to say, no, let's go even further to the right. If you don't (INAUDIBLE) to those moderate voices, you're going to have a problem across this country.
HALPERIN: You should look at Ed when you're addressing him.
ED ROLLINS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: It's not going to happen. I'm the epitome of the Republican Party today. I switched. I was a Democrat as a young man, I was a blue collar Democrat. I became a Republican in 1972.
I'm now -- I was the political director of the White House. I tried to attract young people, make it a working people's party.
I'm 65 now and I'm what's left. And I think to a certain extent, Reagan worked hard to bring young people into the party. Those were not young people anymore. They're 45, 50, 60. There's been no efforts whatsoever by the Bushes or anybody else to bring...
CASTELLANOS: But there's a way to do that. And Reagan did it and George Bush was on his way to doing it.
Look, you don't become less conservative. Reagan didn't become less conservative to add the middle. He had economic growth and an agenda of individual achievement, and America could do anything it wanted.
BROWN: That appealed to the middle.
CASTELLANOS: Bush was actually doing the same thing, appealing to the base. He had an agenda for economic growth, but then he also had compassionate conservative. He had an agenda that took Republicans across the middle to the heart cluster, into the Democratic base, and it was working.
CASTELLANOS: He was taken prisoner by his own war and retreated just to the base. And that was our problem. We can go back one, two, three again.
BROWN: All right. A lot more to talk about. We're going to take a quick break. We'll be back with more from the panel right after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I will never forget who this victory truly belongs to. It belongs to you. It belongs to you. I was never the likeliest candidate for this office. We didn't start with much money or many endorsements. Our campaign was not hatched in the halls of Washington.
It began in the backyards of Des Moines, in the living rooms of Concord (ph) and the front porches of Charleston. It was built by working men and women who dug into what little savings they had to give $5, $10 and $20 to the cause. It grew strength from the young people who rejected the myth of their generation's apathy, who left their homes and their families for jobs that offered little pay and less sleep.
It drew strength from the not so young people who braved the bitter cold and scorching heat to knock on doors of perfect strangers, and from the millions of Americans who volunteered and organized and proved that more than two centuries later a government of the people, by the people, and for the people has not perished from the earth. This is your victory.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMPBELL BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: What an end to an extraordinary campaign. Just four years after America was first introduced to Illinois State Senator Barack Obama, voters overwhelmingly elected him their president.
How did it all come together? We've got our political panel back here right now. Mark Halperin, "Time" magazine editor-at-large, CNN political analyst Roland Martin, who supported Obama's campaign, CNN contributor Hilary Rosen, a Democratic strategist who advised Hillary Clinton's campaign, CNN contributor and Republican strategist Alex Castellanos, and CNN contributor Ed Rollins, a Republican strategist. I so didn't do that in order. Be you all figured out who Hilary was, right? Sorry.
ROLAND MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: No problem.
ED ROLLINS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I'm Roland Martin.
BROWN: If they don't know you guys by now after the last month.
So, Roland, Obama wins 52 percent of the popular vote. The first time a Democrat has won over 50 percent since Jimmy Carter in 1976. How significant is that?
MARTIN: I think it's huge. And the most important thing is, he had the vision to articulate what he wanted to do. Not get caught up in the traditional Democratic view of, we've got to have Ohio, and Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. Got to have the rust belt. He said early on those western states.
Not only that, the Democratic Party must also get some credit for putting that convention in Colorado. Because having it there, all of the attention, he goes to the outdoor stadium, they really said, we're going to tap into what's happening in those western states. And when we talk about in terms of those demographics with Latinos, huge in New Mexico. Huge in Nevada.
So it's not necessarily, well, are we going to win them in other parts of the country. You really only need those six states, Florida, those western states, California, throw in Texas on a local level if you want to and then maybe, you know, one of the Midwest states. But the bottom line is, they had the vision to say, we have to expand the playing field and not get locked into just the rust belt states.
HILARY ROSEN, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, HUFFINGTONPOST.COM: And the expansion of the map now is playing out in these House races because now there are House pick-ups in Nevada, in New Mexico, in Colorado, in Virginia, in places where Democrats didn't put a lot of money in presidential election years and that's really going to benefit a President Obama, as well as the Congress.
BROWN: Are these numbers, Alex, a convincing mandate for him to govern?
ALEX CASTELLANOS, REPUBLICAN CONSULTANT: Well, I think it's going to be interpreted that way. But whom the gods would destroy, they would first give a mandate. Let's be cautious. Let's remember what it takes to elect a Democratic president in America. First you need a Republican president who's hugely unpopular. You need a Republican Party that's unpopular. You need an unpopular war. And then you need an economic meltdown.
ROSEN: That's changed, though, because there are so many more independents now than there used to be.
CASTELLANOS: Well, wait a minute, though, but that's what got Barack Obama's campaign on the map. This would have been a much tighter race than it was a month ago without that economic meltdown.
MARTIN: And, Alex, if you recall . . .
CASTELLANOS: And then on top of that, a Democratic Party has to move to the middle, as it has with Barack Obama, whose talking about tax increases, oil drilling, who's talking about staying a little bit of the course in Iraq with Petraeus and Gates, that kind of thing.
So, again, we're seeing a move to the center. What does it take to elect a Democrat? This is not necessarily a mandate for something miraculous (ph).
MARTIN: Don't forget, Alex, what happened in '79 and '80? You had an unpopular president, you had high gas prices, you had what was happening in Iran, and you had the right person at the right time who led a revolution. Trust me, Obama has studied Ronald Reagan.
HALPERIN: The world has changed a lot.
MARTIN: Trust me.
BROWN: Go ahead, Mark.
HALPERIN: The world has changed a lot since Ronald Reagan. The last two transitions we've had from one party to the other, Clinton's was handled horribly. He brought a lot of problems onto himself. Bush had the aftermath of Florida and had a bad transition for that reason. The world -- the political world has gotten more partisan. Let's see -- I guarantee you talk radio, as we sit here, is already attacking Barack Obama saying he's liberal and illegitimate. Let's see what Republican members of Congress do. Let's see what the chamber of commerce does. Other conservative, Republican-oriented institutions. I predict that they will be -- because of the mandate he has -- they will be very cautious about striking out. They're going to wait see if he . . .
BROWN: At least initially.
HALPERIN: Initially. Wait to see if he makes mistakes. And if he doesn't, and he and his team have shown a pretty good record of not making mistakes.
BROWN: I was going to say, they talked about having studied those mistakes of Bill Clinton.
HALPERIN: They don't make mistakes. They've studied both Clinton and Bush and Reagan. And I think if he is successful during these 70 days, he is not going to be attacked the way Bill Clinton was during his transition, the way George Bush was, even though we live in a partisan media-frenzy time.
BROWN: Do you agree with that, Ed.
ROLLINS: Yes, I do. And there's another thing. There is no organized Republican opposition anymore. I mean our voice is diminish, I mean, just by the pure numbers.
BROWN: Does that mean talk radio takes over because they're the loudest?
ROLLINS: Well, they're outside. The bottom line is the inside players. We're sitting there. We can throw rocks against the window. But we talked about the era of bipartisanship being over. You know, we can yell all we want and what have you, it doesn't matter. He can move his agenda very effectively and we've, you know, we've got to go through another election before we even get back in the game or try to get back in the game. We (INAUDIBLE) . . .
BROWN: It will probably take more than one. I mean it's sort of -- what a lot of Republicans (INAUDIBLE).
ROLLINS: Oh, definitely. And plus you have reinforcement. The story that's untold yet is .50 Republican seats drawn for the Republican majority have been lost in the last two elections. In 2000, I used to head the congressional committee. I was involved in designing this plan for a decade. They will come back in 2010 and take these seats and make them better. There's a lot of legislatures out there.
So the reality is, and how we put it together, is we had the south. And when Jimmy Carter ran into trouble, there were southern Democrats who weren't happy with him. They were conservatives. Most of those are the Republican members. We're now a southern, smaller party and it's going to -- we have to come up with something to basically get ourselves back in the game again.
BROWN: All right, guys, we've got to take another quick break. By a certain time last evening, of course, an Obama victory clearly in the cards. The stakes, though, were high for so many people, so many groups, for so many reasons. And for many of them, last night not such a great night. In a moment, who else won and lost. We'll go through that.
We are also hearing from Sarah Palin. We have an interview for the first time since the election. We're going to have her remarks after this very quick break.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back.
For President-elect Obama to transition to power, for Senator John McCain, it's a transition back to the U.S. Senate. Let's go to Phoenix right now. Dana Bash is standing by.
Dana, I want to hear what Senator McCain is doing on this day. But I understand you just had a chance to speak with the Republican vice presidential nominee, the governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin. How did that conversation go?
DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, she was literally just hanging out in the lobby of the Arizona Biltmore where the event happened here last night. And I asked her, I think probably what is the most obvious question right now looking ahead about whether or not she is thinking about 2012. Her first answer was about really focusing on the state of Alaska, on the issues that she has been working on, like energy. But then I followed up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: You're notably not ruling out 2012.
GOV. SARAH PALIN, (R) ALASKA: Well, you know, right now, I cannot even imagine running for national office in 2012. And I say that though, of course, coming on the heels of an outcome that I certainly did not anticipate and had not hoped for. But this being a chapter now that is closed and realizing that it is a time to unite and all Americans need to get together and help with this new administration being ushered in. Policies that have got to help this nation to keep us secure. I mean it is a time for all of us to work together.
So, having said that, 2012 sounds so far off that can't even imagine what I'd be doing then.
BASH: One more question about the election that just ended yesterday. If you look at some of the polls and you talk to people who are really crunching the numbers and specifically who voted what way and who was swayed one way or the other. Independent voters, suburban voters, some of the people -- women. People who the campaign thought you would be able to help, actually looked at your presence on the ticket and said, I'm going to vote the other way. What do you make of that?
PALIN: Well, you know, I don't think anybody should give Sarah Palin that much credit that I would trump an economic, woeful time in this nation that occurred about two months ago that my presence on the ticket would trump the economic crisis that America found itself in a couple of months ago and attribute John McCain's loss to me.
But now having said that, if I cost John McCain even one vote, I am sorry about that because John McCain, I believe, is the American hero. I had believed that it was his time. He being so full of courage and wisdom and experience. That valor that he just embodies. I believe he would have been the best pick. But that is not the Americans' choice at this time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Now, Dana, the whole notion of Sarah Palin, like so many other reporters in recent days, you know, all of us were bombarded with these leaks from anonymous sources about tension between the Palin camp, if you will, and the McCain camp, if you will. Did you ask her about that?
BASH: I did. And it is tension in covering John McCain's campaign for quite a long time. It is tension that, I can tell you, is very real. So I did ask her about that. Listen to what she said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: Now that this over, when you think back and you hear words like diva or going rogue that we were told about, frankly, because of some tension between you and some of the people who John McCain worked for, some of the people who helped get you on the ticket. What -- can you tell us a little bit more now that this is over about some of the tension? PALIN: Well, it is absolutely false that there's been any tension, certainly from my part or my family's part. In fact, my family was surrounding me here. They know me. They know my values, what I stand for. They know my work ethic. They know that certainly there is absolutely no diva in me. In fact, we laugh about that criticism and if only people would, you know, come on up and travel with us to Alaska and see this diva lifestyle that I supposedly live or would demand, because that's just false.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: She says that is false. But, Wolf, I can tell you that this story is not over. There is definitely, I think, there's more to come out, particularly about the $150,000 wardrobe that she got. Whether or not she really did, you know, didn't know about it and the clothes that she chose and I think that there's a lot more, I think, that potentially could come out in the days and weeks ahead, depending on how some of the people inside the campaign are feeling about whether or not they're going to want to start talking.
BLITZER: I suspect there will be a lot of talking on this story and related.
Quickly, John McCain, what's he up to today?
BASH: You know, he was headed to his cabin outside of Sedona for some down time. He was going to go with his family. I talked to his best friend, Lindsey Graham, last night who, like other people, frankly, were at the bar here at the Biltmore, you know, trying to sort of, you know, loosen up a little bit.
And he said he was potentially going to head out there. Perhaps some of John McCain's other friends. And what Lindsey Graham told me is that he was going to sit down with McCain and say, look, you know, obviously this is a huge crushing blow. It is very disappointing. This was your lifelong dream. But it's not over in terms of public policy. And what Graham said that he said that they were going to discuss is how to be effective in the United States Senate. He said perhaps McCain can be the next lion of the Senate and really focus on getting some major pieces of legislation done. We'll see what happens, Wolf.
BLITZER: Dana, thanks very much. Dana's in Phoenix.
An historic night. Truly an historic night and a great night for a lot of people. But not everyone is a winner today. In a moment, who else won and who lost. Stay with us. We're here at the CNN ELECTION CENTER.
BROWN: We have a little bit of breaking news to tell you about right now. The author, Michael Crichton, who was, of course, the author of "Jurassic Park," has died. His family released a statement just a short time ago saying that he died unexpectedly. This was in Los Angeles on Tuesday after what the family calls a courageous and private battle with cancer. Again, that was author Michael Crichton, author of "Jurassic Park," "The Great Train Robbery." He was one of the executive producers of "E.R." An Emmy winner. A Peabody winner. Passed away after a battle with cancer. And we'll have more on that a little bit later in the program.
We're going to go back to politics now. For Barack Obama, the president-elect of the United States, the task ahead is monumental. Beyond the two wars, beyond the ailing economy is a country that is in many ways still bitterly divided. And yesterday's election, for all its emotion, in many ways highlighted those stark divisions. Tom Foreman is here to break it down for us and tell us what this could mean for all of us as we go forward.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you're absolutely right, Campbell, these divisions in the country are going to be key in terms of moving forward. Whether or not he can do something about them and settle things down. The winners and losers among the politicians, easy to see in most cases. But let's break down the voters that same way.
First, some of the winners. Obviously African-Americans had a big night. But minorities overall impacted this election in a big way. Yes, Obama could not have pulled off this win without strong white support, but minority communities also came through for him and they can reasonably expect at least more attention to their issues.
Younger voters flocked to Obama in big numbers because they felt he spoke to their concerns. And they too now have a friend in a very high place. All of those new voters and independents who came out in force in this election, that has to command increased respect from both parties for the independents.
And, of course, advocates for health care reform. This is a good day for them. And anti-war forces. They can be pleased about what this means for the future of Iraq. But a little caution here, Obama has spoken quite strongly about the need to beef up America's presence in Afghanistan. If he heads that way, they may not be too happy about that.
So who were the bigger losers in this? And I don't mean losers in the sense that their causes not being valid. I mean in the sense that they lost political capital, they lost some influence in Washington. Evangelical Christians. They remain a very potent force in politics. Make no mistake about that. But they did not turn out for McCain like they did for George Bush. And, as a result, they will likely have somewhat less influence in the Oval Office and on Capitol Hill.
Supply siders. People who argued the economy benefits from business being good and the money trickling down to everyone else. Obama wants money to trickle up from the middle class and his policies will reflect that.
And social conservatives overall. Whether the issue is gay rights or abortion, liberals now have a president who is ranked the most liberal senator in Washington. That does not mean that he will do whatever they want and indeed the mood of the country in some of these other propositions and initiatives suggest maybe that he will not be inclined to go that way because the public is not necessarily leaning so far that way. But they can certainly expect more serious attention to their agenda.
BROWN: All right, Tom Foreman for us. Tom, appreciate it.
When we come back, Michelle Obama. She has been, of course, his partner, his chief supporter, his inspiration and his anchor out on the campaign trail and back at home. Juggling kids and campaigning. Coming up, Erica Hill has in-depth look at our next first lady, Michelle Obama.
BLITZER: What adorable little girls and what a beautiful, beautiful family. The next first family on stage last night in Chicago. As the Obamas prepare their big move to Washington, many people are asking what kind of first lady Michelle Obama will be. Exit polls show 60 percent of voters say she'll be a good one. So what can we expect from her? Erica Hill has a closer look at Michelle Obama's path to the White House.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENT-ELECT: I would not be standing here tonight without the unyielding support of my best friend from the last 16 years. The rock of our family. The love of my life. The nation's next first lady, Michelle Obama.
ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT, (voice over): She may be the rock behind the man, but Michelle Obama has never stayed in the shadows.
CROWD: Yes, we can. Yes, we can.
HILL: On the campaign trail, Mrs. Obama drew clouds in the thousands.
CARL ANTHONY, HISTORIAN, NATIONAL FIRST LADIES LIBRARY: I think her greatest asset is her natural charisma. Unlike most first ladies, she seems comfortable being in public. She seems comfortable giving a spontaneous speech without notes. Perhaps because of her training as an attorney and that will, I think, allow her to light up a room.
HILL: Described as passionate, intelligent, independent. This Harvard-educated lawyer says her most important title is mom.
MICHELLE OBAMA, BARACK OBAMA'S WIFE: I'm a mother first. And I'm going to be at parent teacher conferences. And we're -- I'm going to be the things that they want me to attend. I'm not going to miss a ballet recital.
ANTHONY: Her time and her priority and her energies are going to be a little bit pressed in that regard.
HILL: A daily challenge for millions of American families. Michelle Obama has pledged to help these working parents and military families.
OBAMA: You're just asking for a Washington that understands what's happening to our military families.
HILL: Raised in a tight knit middle class family on Chicago's south side, she was taught to believe anything is possible if you work for it.
CRAIG ROBINSON, MICHELLE OBAMA'S BROTHER: It is surreal to think of my sister as being the first lady. You know, astronaut maybe or, you know, first woman to swim around the world or something incredibly -- something completely out of the ordinary. But first lady, that would have been at the bottom of my list.
HILL: It's impossible not to mention the historic nature of this election and of this first lady, but not for the reasons you might expect.
ANTHONY: I do not think that Michelle Obama will be held to different standards because she's a black woman. I think that she can't help but be a role model.
HILL: Michelle Obama, meantime, will likely be calling on her personal role models for inspiration. Her late father and her mother, who started her on this path many years ago.
BLITZER: And, Erica, she's going to have some hurdles, though, in the immediate future.
HILL: She is, absolutely. And one of the things that this historian I spoke with told me, one of her biggest hurdles will be defining herself before anybody else does. He says she can't let herself be made into a caricature. Hillary Clinton was seen as not a mother who would bake cookies at home. Laura Bush was seen as this quiet librarian, which he says are not at all who these women are.
BLITZER: Yes, she's a formidable figure in her own right. Harvard Law School.
BLITZER: Nothing to sneeze at. All right. Thanks very much, Erica. Good report.
BROWN: Wolf, earlier this hour, we asked you to tell us if you think a new president really can make a difference. Three thousand of you have already weighed in and here's what you said. Ninety-four percent said yes, 6 percent said no. We're going to ask you to weigh in on another question coming up in our next hour.
And we are just getting started here. Ahead, the big picture. The balance of power. And some key races still at this hour undecided. The world reacts to a new American president and the president elect must follow big words and big decisions. Transition to power continues.