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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Romney Wins Iowa by 8 Votes

Aired January 4, 2012 - 02:00   ET

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


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: We want to welcome back our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer.

Look at this -- look at what's going on in Iowa right now. One precinct still has it report the results but as of right now, four votes, four votes separate Rick Santorum who is at the top and Mitt Romney 29,968 to 29,964.

For the viewers who are just tuning in right now, Ron Paul has come in third, Newt Gingrich fourth. Rick Perry coming in fifth, but he is getting ready to fly it Texas to reassess whether he should bother, whether he should continue in New Hampshire and South Carolina.

Michele Bachmann coming in sixth. She says she will continue but we will see if she does.

Jon Huntsman, he is in New Hampshire.

We are waiting it speak with the chair of the Republican committee right now that's going to announce that one final precinct. We are going to speak to that precinct captain shortly. We will try to find out what's going on, has there been a snag, a snafu, a hanging chad. We don't know what is going on.

But one precinct would make the difference between who is number one, who is number two and how much of a gap there is.

Let's go over and talk to all of our contributors and friends.

Anderson, I think we will get that precinct captain pretty soon, on the phone, and we'll hear what the problem is, if there is a problem because we want to know who's the winner.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: I was going to say, what do you want to say to that precinct captain?

(LAUGHTER)

BLITZER: I want to say, tell us what you know.

(LAUGHTER)

COOPER: Do you want to occupy him on the phone? Shouldn't he be finishing up the votes?

BLITZER: One precinct, that's all that stands --

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Do we have a sense, John, of how many votes? Is it still up for grabs?

KING: No, we don't -- because we don't know what the precinct is, we don't know what the size of the precinct is. And so, we're waiting for these final votes.

On the one hand, it's important we get them so someone will win and claim the moral victory. On the other hand, let's be honest, we're looking at Rick Santorum, four votes ahead right now, whether Romney passes him and beats him with two or 12 votes or one or two voters, or Santorum pads that and beats him by 12 or 15 votes. Iowa has --

(CROSSTALK)

PIERS MORGAN, HOST, CNN'S "PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT": You keep saying it's a draw, psychologically.

KING: Psychologically --

MORGAN: I think David's analysis is right. If it is Romney, so what? If it's Rick Santorum that wins and beats Mitt Romney, that's a big story, isn't it?

KING: It's a much more dramatic story for Rick Santorum to say -- I'm paraphrasing here - I spent $12, you spent $10 million. Nice to see you, Iowa.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: But you know what? He can still say it. Honestly, if it's four votes, I think we can all agree, he can still say it.

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I think Rick Santorum already has a moral victory.

BORGER: Right.

GERGEN: The only question, who's got the actual victory?

KING: And the question is, who can sustain, who can rebuild?

Romney does have a fall back. He has the state of New Hampshire where he owns a vacation In New Hampshire he has a vacation home. He was the former Massachusetts governor.

But he also has history. He was very strong in New Hampshire four years ago. The Huckabee win in Iowa caused a Romney collapse in New Hampshire.

This is a tie, a moral victory for Rick Santorum. What is the impact? In our early poll tonight showed little impact for Romney. If that holds out, remember, one week -- one week. Not a lot of time for other people to recover in a state where Romney has the infrastructure, has resources. There's no question about his resources.

If he defends New Hampshire and wins New Hampshire, then we move on --

COOPER: Some have said that Romney has basically evaded scrutiny up until this point. Now moving forward, you have Jon Huntsman who has been dedicated to New Hampshire, who is focusing on squarely on Romney. You have a certainly a reenergized Gingrich who's going to be focusing on Romney. I assume Santorum is as well.

It changes the dynamic.

KING: It will change the dynamic because you are going to have, here there is the morning ad in the Manchester, the "Union Leader" of New Hampshire they call it now, Newt Gingrich in color; Mitt Romney in black and white. That's what you do when you are attacking your opponent. You are in nice color, he is black and white, a contrast.

Newt Gingrich is going to try to peel the skin off of Romney. Santorum is going to not do it in such -- you heard him on our air tonight -- not going to do in such an aggressive way. But to say, I'm conservative here. He's not. I won a tough state, he hasn't.

I would just add this though, these attacks will get tougher in the next few days. There's a debate this weekend -- two debates this weekend.

However, the one place where everybody has heard this time and time again is in New Hampshire. None of this will be new to them. The question is, does it have an impact now --

BLITZER: You know, and people think that Newt Gingrich really got hurt in Iowa just because of the pro-Romney super PACs. It wasn't just that. It was the Ron Paul advertising.

BORGER: Exactly.

BLITZER: When way is in Iowa last week, I heard a lot of Ron Paul campaign commercials really going after Newt Gingrich.

BORGER: Serial hypocrisy.

BLITZER: Yes, yeah, serial hypocrisy.

BORGER: But here is the interesting thing about Newt. I have covered him for a long time. He is the most effective attack politicians, I have ever covered. That's how he became speaker of the House.

COOPER: But Ari was saying attacking him is like a porcupine who lacks direction.

BORGER: But he has succeeded in the past. His problem is that he has a different brand now, that he's tried to rebrand himself and he's tried to become a different politician.

(CROSSTALK)

MORGAN: I mean, isn't the reality that Mr. Nice Guy Newt isn't working? That's why we're seeing this. And that's why --

BORGER: But it's hard to go from saying that you want to be Mr. Nice Guy and aren't these ads terrible to running these ads.

MORGAN: Don't you think in these debates where Gingrich is being very effective, I think the gloves will come off.

BLITZER: Oh, yes.

MORGAN: I think these debates are going to get nasty and he's going to secure -

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: And Ron Paul -- I was going to say this -- Ron Paul is going to go after Santorum now as well. So, he's avoided that pretty much because Santorum was out of picture.

ERIN BURNETT, HOST, "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT": This conversation, though, a few days ago, everyone was saying amongst the punditry that as long as Mitt Romney came in second or third, it was fine. And now, here we are, it's almost a virtual tie. He is failure for not having some sort of a massive win.

So, just the whole sort of rhetoric around the conversation has really changed because he is coming in so much closer.

KING: The outstanding vote, OK.

BORGER: I don't think it's not so much he is failure. It's just that he seems to have this ceiling that he can't punch through.

BURNETT: Right. But it's being more focused on now because he is so close to winning whereas a few days ago --

BORGER: I think Santorum came from nowhere.

BURNETT: And everyone was saying Santorum came from nowhere. It's his moment, look what happened to Huckabee. Don't read too much into that. But yet, here we are.

GERGEN: It's party because of his forces, and he personally misplayed the expectations game. They set expectations way high that he would stay out there tonight because he was going to win. That was the sense. And for him to come in with basically a tie hurts him.

But the other part of this is, this contest actually plays out state by state. But it's playing out on national television. And there is a quality, if you can address how Obama ran the campaign four years ago, he gained national strength as he won a state because it looked like, wow, he really pulled that off. Four years ago coming out of Iowa, do you remember that speech?

(CROSSTALK)

MORGAN: David, tell me this -- could Santorum raise big money in a short period of time now? Could people watch that speech, as we all did, and feel moved enough to think he has a chance and actually back it?

BORGER: I think people need to see what he's going to do in New Hampshire.

GERGEN: And South Carolina, too.

BORGER: And South Carolina.

GERGEN: I think he's definitely going to get more money. He's not going to get the money that it takes to go all the way. He needs to win somewhere. South Carolina becomes --

BURNETT: A big donor, they will say, OK, economically, I can see this positive. And it always comes with the caveat of, but he is way too conservative or way too extreme. So, I mean, not that they want, but from what I'm hearing from big donors, there's a real hesitation.

GERGEN: But the storyline coming out of the night is more -- go back to what Carville has been saying, there is more about weakness, division, fractured party, unable to find a candidate. Not very enthusiastic. Not very high turn out.

That's the kind of thing that can hurt someone like Mitt Romney in a head-on against Barack Obama. National polls are going to show, I think some weakening of his position. That's going to play back into this.

BORGER: It just looks like a party that's holding its nose and saying, all right.

MORGAN: We haven't got a better option.

BORGER: We're just going to -- may have to go --

MORGAN: I mean, Barack Obama tonight is going to feel good, isn't he?

BORGER: Yes.

GERGEN: He is a guy who should be in trouble. If you look at numbers and look at his performance and look at his, you know, look his -- at 45 percent approval rating, has been for months --

COOPER: Let's bring in some of our Republicans here.

I mean, Ari, are you depressed tonight?

ARI FLEISCHER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: No, I think is nonsense. I think people are way overplaying the impact of one meaningless caucus night. No delegates are even selected.

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right.

FLEISCHER: You know, I think when a multicandidate field, this many candidates, math says it's hard to get above 25, 30 percent. John McCain won South Carolina four years ago with just 33 percent.

So, it doesn't really matter what your percentage is. There's a long trend here you have to look at. It's going to take place for the next several weeks, maybe a month or two. And then have you a nominee. That's what it is all about.

COOPER: Dana Loesch, you're a Tea Party activist. Are you -- you're confused tonight?

DANA LOESCH, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, no, I'm disappointed. Yes and no, simply because -- for the same reasons that have been stated. I mean, these are, no one is walking away a winner-take-all tonight. But at the same time, you look at the field and there were Tea Party activists that were caucusing tonight. You know that there were, and strong conservatives and here you still have someone who is very -- at antithesis all they stood for, number one.

So, I mean, it's just -- I don't know -- 25 percent --

COOPER: Does it feel like a very divided Republican Party, though, to you tonight?

LOESCH: Completely. There is a huge faction. I think the Republican Party wants to underestimate the power of this faction. They don't want Romney.

COOPER: Let me go to Wolf.

Wolf, do we have numbers here?

BLITZER: We don't have numbers. Let me talk to -- we got two women calling in, we called them from Clinton County from the Republican Party in Clinton County. That's not far from Davenport. Not far from Dubuque, in the eastern part of Iowa -- I happen to have been there last week.

Edith Pfeffer is joining us. Edith, can you hear me?

EDITH PFEFFER, CLINTON COUNTY, IOWA REPUBLICAN CHAIRWOMAN (via telephone): Yes, I can.

BLITZER: All right. Now, Carolyn is with you, too?

PFEFFER: Yes.

BLITZER: All right. Carolyn, tell us your last time.

CAROLYN TALLETT, PRESIDENT, CLINTON COUNTY REPUBLICAN WOMEN (via telephone): Tallett.

BLITZER: OK, good. Now, Carolyn, what's your job?

TALLETT: What's my job? I am president of Clinton County Republican Women.

BLITZER: OK.

TALLETT: I am also chair of 31 precinct. And I have been on the central committee for many years.

BLITZER: All right. Is it your precinct that still has not reported the official results?

TALLETT: No, it is not mine. I received a call at about 12:20 from the state central committee asking if I knew how to get a hold of someone from 22. At that time they gave me a name and I tried calling, because it's late here. They were in bed. And the chair was also in bed.

BLITZER: So what you are saying is --

TALLETT: And so, I know they needed the information. So, I came to Edith's home and pounded on the door and woke her up and got her up.

BLITZER: All right. Edith, so, tell us about this precinct -- is it in Clinton County that is still not reporting the results?

PFEFFER: No. The results from -- it's Clinton second ward second precinct. And the results were called in at 7:48 p.m. this evening.

BLITZER: So what you are saying is that all of the precincts in Clinton County have under fact reported, is that what you are saying, Edith?

PFEFFER: Yes, I am.

BLITZER: Is that your information as well, Carolyn?

TALLETT: That's what I understand. But I also understand that possibly the state party did not have the information from Clinton 22.

BLITZER: So it looks like there is a snafu. Hold on for as second, ladies, if you don't mind.

John King -- first of all, John, show us where Clinton County is in Iowa, because there seems to be a problem that the statewide Republican Party says they didn't get some results from Clinton County -- although these two women who seem to be in charge of the Republican precincts in Clinton County, they say they did call in.

KING: They say they did.

Now, let's show, you mentioned Dubuque, Cedar Rapids, Davenport, Clinton County right here in the middle, in eastern Iowa, and the southern part -- 1.7 percent of the statewide population.

Now, let me ask you, Edith, Madam Chairwoman -- we have 97 percent that the state has reported to us. We had Romney winning, Santorum in second place. Let me ask you this, if there is miscommunication and the state party hasn't added this precinct in yet.

Did Rick Santorum carry any of the precincts and do you know who carried this one precinct that state central committee says it didn't have? Ward 2, precinct 2, who won?

PFEFFER: Mitt Romney won with 51 votes. Rick Santorum and Ron Paul tied with 33 votes each.

KING: So that's 51 to 33.

If this is the missing precinct, Wolf. Add it up there, Mitt Romney wins by 20-something votes, I believe, if my math is roughly right. But we don't know that. We don't know that state didn't count it by accident.

But you are certain that all of your data was relayed to the state central committee. What is their explanation when you call them back and say, it's not our problem?

PFEFFER: Well, they called, Ryan Gutz (ph) called here and I called -- he called Carolyn. We called him back, I don't know, 15, 20 minutes ago, just before you people called. And we gave him the figures. And they should have the figures now.

KING: This is an interesting --

BLITZER: So what you are saying --

PFEFFER: I'm sure they will be reporting it very shortly.

BLITZER: What you are saying, Carolyn and Edith, that 97 percent reporting in Clinton County that we have on the board, which is the official number coming in, that should change fairly soon to 100 percent.

And if the numbers that they are telling us, John, are accurate, that would put Mitt over the top. And he would win and we'll see.

Let me just double-check with Carolyn and Edith. Do you have all of the numbers from all of the -- how many precincts are there in Clinton County?

PFEFFER: There are 30 precincts.

BLITZER: Of all 30, as far as you know, reported.

PFEFFER: Oh, yes.

BLITZER: Every single one?

PFEFFER: Every single one.

BLITZER: What's the total for Clinton County, Romney, Santorum, Paul?

PFEFFER: Oh, God. Oh, God, I had it -- I added them up a couple times. Oh, man. I show Romney coming up with a total of 437 votes for Clinton County. Santorum had 354. Perry had 73. Paul had 292. Huntsman, 12. Gingrich, 11. Michele Bachmann, 62. And there were five votes for Herman Cain.

KING: That would be the difference, Wolf. That would be the difference.

BLITZER: Right.

KING: Because the numbers we received from the state had Romney at 386, Santorum at 321, Ron Paul at 262.

If we go through the top three, she just said Romney gets 437, Santorum, 354, Ron Paul, 292 -- that right there would be enough. If this is the missing precinct, that would be enough right there to make Mitt Romney narrowly, narrowly --

BLITZER: If that's the 3 percent that's still missing in there.

KING: If this is what's missing -- and we need the state's central committee to clear this up. But the numbers do not match the numbers we just received from the county chairwoman right here in Clinton County.

If these are the final numbers --

PFEFFER: What do you mean the numbers don't match?

BLITZER: I'll explain it to you.

John, you go ahead and explain it.

KING: The numbers, Madam Chairwoman, I'm not questioning your numbers. I'm saying that the numbers you are giving now do not match the numbers that state central committee has reported so far from your county. And they say one precinct is missing.

So, if your numbers are missing that precinct and these are the final numbers from Clinton county, excuse my scribble but 437, not 386 -- 354 not 321, we can stop right there, Wolf, that would make --

BLITZER: Romney the winner.

KING: -- Romney the winner narrowly in the state of Iowa.

We think we've solved the problem, but we're not the official voice here. Matt Strawn, the state Republican chairman would be the one who has to make this decision in the end and I'm sure the chairman is having a delightful evening.

BLITZER: Carolyn or Edith, do you want to add anything to this conversation?

PFEFFER: We didn't know what the final was when they called me.

BLITZER: Carolyn or Edith, anything else you want to tell our viewers?

PFEFFER: No, I just know that those figures were originally called under at 7:48 by the person in charge from that precinct. And the precinct chair and secretary handed me the -- they sat down and completed all of their forms. And then they brought me up the forms and I came home.

BLITZER: All right. So we -- just to be precise, we didn't wake you up, the state chairs in Des Moines, they called you, they woke you up, is that right?

TALLETT: No. I woke her up. This is Carolyn.

KING: Carolyn woke her up to get the numbers because the state --

TALLETT: I was sitting at home watching CNN waiting for the results --

BLITZER: All right.

TALLETT: -- when I was told by the party. And so, I came to wake up Edith who didn't answer her phone.

KING: You ladies don't have any fresh coffee brewed, do you?

TALLETT: No, but I think I'm ready for it.

BLITZER: You know what? I think we may have solved this mystery. And if we did, Romney would win the entire state. Not by much. A little bit. But it would win.

Let me bring in -- ladies, if can you hold on with us for a moment. Stand by.

Candy Crowley is standing by at Romney headquarters.

Candy, what are you learning?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, what we are learning is that there are folks inside the Romney campaign who have been told that he, in fact, won by 14 votes. I'm trying to pin down who they were told that by. We -- I don't know if you were here but we were inundated with the lots of young staffers who had also heard that.

So the number they heard was 14 votes. Those higher up in the Romney campaign have also heard it and they say that we should expect to hear from the state fairly soon -- although it is 2:00. So, I don't think anything is fairly soon. But you know what I mean.

BLITZER: If the two ladies that we were speaking to, Candy, in Clinton County, if their math is correct, that would make sense because the numbers that they say they gave to Des Moines, to the Republican leadership, it would have given Romney a very, very narrow win in the state. But we will wait for the official numbers.

CROWLEY: They say here it's 14 votes.

BLITZER: All right. But what you're saying is Romney's aides there are saying. They say they have been notified that Romney has won, is that what they are saying?

CROWLEY: They have been told. So I think notified is the wrong word. It is hard for me to track down at this point. We are trying to track down where it started, who they heard from.

BLITZER: All right. Candy, if you get more, let us know.

Let me go back, John, because I think the information from Romney's aides, speaking to Candy, would sort of be in line with what our friend in Clinton County are telling us.

KING: It would be in line with general narrative. My math is not perfect but this adds up, in my looking at it, more than 14 votes. So that probably means there were adjustments somewhere else, if you came into it with Santorum slightly ahead.

But this should be the missing link here, there is what the state was reporting to us and is still officially reporting to us. Romney, 386. The Clinton County chairwoman just told us 437. Rick Santorum, 321, up to 354.

So, there you see enough of a gap right there for Mitt Romney to make up what we were told was a slight Santorum lead. If you add this in, that gives you a slight Romney lead. I don't think it's exactly 14.

BLITZER: No.

KING: But if they are adjusting the numbers, we're going to wait for the official announcement from the state. But that's pretty enterprising there, Wolf, you know, getting the chairwoman there in her county. Good phone call to make.

BLITZER: Yes, Mark Preston, our political director, did that for us. He's a good guy.

All right. Let's take a quick break. We'll assess what's going on. Hopefully, hopefully, we'll get official word fairly soon on the winner in Iowa.

And our coverage will continue in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: We had an amazing moment here at the CNN election center. We are trying it figure out that the one precinct that still has not officially apparently reported to the Republican leadership in Des Moines. Right now, 99 percent of precincts have reported. One precinct apparently has not. There's a four vote spread, Rick Santorum, top by four votes, 29,968 to Romney's 29,964.

But we are told that missing precinct is in Clinton County in the eastern part of Iowa. You just heard us speak to the two women who were in charge of the county over there.

And, John, they said they were reported the numbers, which are very different -- very different than the numbers that are still the official numbers for Clinton County in Iowa. We have 97 percent. The official numbers, Romney with 386 to Santorum's 321. But they say the none numbers are different.

KING: And watch this. Now, if any of the nuns who taught me at St. Marks are still with us, they never like my scribble, but I was pretty good at arithmetic.

Watch this -- we took the numbers the ladies gave us. The state told us this for Clinton County. The chairwoman just told us, no, Romney didn't get 386, he got 437. Rick Santorum didn't get 321, he got 354. A new number for Ron Paul as well.

But we took the Romney number and a Santorum number and we added it up with what we already knew.

Ready? Let's go a little math. We'll use a little blue here -- 30,015, that's Romney; 30,001, that's Santorum. What did Candy Crowley just tell us he was told? That Mitt Romney won by 14 votes.

Look at that. How about that?

BLITZER: So, those ladies are correct. They knew what they're talking about.

KING: That was our lifeline.

BLITZER: Yes.

KING: That was a good lifeline to use right there. They seem to have solved the mystery.

We're waiting. We're waiting for the official word from the Iowa Republican Party, which is probably consulting Palm Beach County for a little advice.

BLITZER: Yes.

KING: But this adds up. This adds up. This is my scribble and this is CNN math, but it matches what Candy Crowley is saying the Romney campaign says it is getting word we presumed from the state Republican Party. We are waiting the final word.

There was one precinct as you note noted, ward two, precinct two in Clinton County, Iowa. Here it is right here, in the eastern part of the state, their new numbers, when added up to the official numbers the state has given us previously, gets you a 14-vote margin for Governor Mitt Romney of Massachusetts.

BLITZER: You saw Candy said that aides to Romney, she is over at the headquarters -- aides -- all right. We are just getting a two- minute warning from the spokesperson from the Republican Party in Iowa.

Let's go over to the table and bring in the whole team over here. Let's discuss. We're going to get the official announcement. But it looks -- it looks like the math that we got from Edith and Carolyn, our ladies in Clinton County -- Anderson, who would have thought.

COOPER: That was the best live phone call.

(LAUGHTER)

BLITZER: That was it.

COOPER: Ever.

BLITZER: Edith Pfeffer and Carolyn, you know, they knew what they were talking about.

COOPER: They can run in New Hampshire.

(CROSSTALK)

MORGAN: And they picked the phone up.

BLITZER: You know what's interesting -- they gave us the correct numbers. John did the math. Candy heard from Romney's aides that they were told that Romney wins the state by 14 votes. We checked the math.

Anderson, 14 votes.

COOPER: I love it when they thought you were saying their numbers were wrong -- what do you mean our numbers are wrong?

BURNETT: What are you saying with that one (ph)?

BLITZER: You know, it was a fascinating moment in television.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: One of them was saying that they were staying up watching CNN waiting for the results. Little did they know, they held the key. Incredible.

(LAUGHTER)

GERGEN: Apparently they had to be persuaded. They were not anxious to go on the air and folks here at CNN got them on the phone.

BLITZER: Yes, Mark Preston, our political director, got them on the phone, and they said, you know, I'm always nervous about getting people on the phone to talk to us on the air but it could be a prank phone call or whatever. But Mark was the one who reached out to these ladies, the ladies took the call and --

COOPER: And they didn't sound like Howard Stern listeners.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: This is a Republican night. You know, any good conservative would tell you, don't trust the central authority, go to the locals. And there you go. We went to the locals.

BLITZER: Ali Velshi (INAUDIBLE) Edith is trending now number one. I'm not making this up. This is true.

(LAUGHTER)

COOPER: Really?

BLITZER: Edith is trending.

BORGER: Have we solved the mystery of what happened between the phone call and the recording?

BLITZER: At least we're going to find out because we're going to hear from the spokesperson for the Republican Party in Iowa who's going to make the official announcement and once they do, the mystery will be resolved, although --

COOPER: Have you ever seen anything like this, John?

KING: No.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: No, I would prefer to be sleeping or at last call at the moment. But 2:30 a.m. in the East, 1:30 a.m. in Iowa. So, they are an hour ahead of us. They are rested and ready in Des Moines. This is remarkable.

But it is -- it is -- let's not beat up on the state Republican Party. There are confusions. This is the closest contest in their state's history, in a Republican caucus.

MORGAN: John, how many times has anybody won in Iowa and won in New Hampshire and not become the nominee?

KING: Well, you'd have to go back to George W. Bush. But it was -- not even. Only in the reelection campaign.

We have not had in the modern era, we have not had in the modern era, especially on the Republican side, somebody win Iowa and then New Hampshire.

MORGAN: So, it's significant, isn't it? If Romney has edged it, he claims victory, he'd go to New Hampshire, he probably is going to win there. He won twice. It's a big thing.

GERGEN: Not as big as it might have been. It's not as big.

MORGAN: Sort of thumping --

GERGEN: Yes, that's right.

BLITZER: Winning by 14 votes is 14 votes.

GERGEN: It's still a win. It's much better than 14 --

BORGER: I know you don't think they managed expectations. But these, OK, but wait -- these were people who weren't going to compete in Iowa and then decided to compete in Iowa. And Romney spent how many days in state? Less than two weeks total.

KING: Less than two weeks. He did advertising money at the end and his friends in his political action committee that's not officially part of the campaign --

BORGER: Right.

KING: -- savage Gingrich, along with Ron Paul.

BORGER: So, I understand your point but it is not like it was in 2008 where Romney spent $10 million.

COOPER: I want to bring in Roland because I know he's been trying to get in.

MARTIN: Talking about 14 votes and who wins, how many delegates were at stake tonight? To win the Republican nomination, you need to win delegates. That's what this is all about.

We have been waving our hands. Talking about all this, a fractured GOP, what's going to happen? We saw Alex and Eric. This is why you actually run primaries.

I think for some reason, we think that after two or three races, it should all be decided. This is why you run. The state by state will sort it out. You have massed the numbers. At the end of the 50 states, you count them up, do you have 2,268?

And so, I don't think we keep freaking out, oh, my God, what's going on here? This is an election.

KING: But when was the last Republican race where we actually had a delegate count at the convention? We had that last time in the Democratic race, the Clinton-Obama race. Any Republican in our lifetime, remember --

MARTIN: This is why it is called the new normal.

KING: '76 for you.

MARTIN: This is the new normal. I mean, what I'm saying is, we are sitting here talking about a fractured election. You know, a different kind of conservatives. Precisely.

So you go from Iowa, to New Hampshire, to Florida, to South Carolina. Then you go down the line. And so, we're going to get to that number. Somebody is going to win that number. This is why you're running.

COOPER: Do you see this beg a long race?

FLEISCHER: It has all of the potential to especially with proportionate rules.

MARTIN: Right.

FLEICHER: But the interesting thing is, nobody knows. This is such a wide open Republican field.

Traditionally for Republicans, you have one powerful front- runner, a challenger emerges and the front-runner prevails. This cycle, that trend is off because there's such a quality among these candidates and a weakness of Mitt Romney where he can't get above the hump.

But again, the divide and conquer is what he's counting on. So it's a very unusual cycle for Republicans.

But Roland is exactly right. Primary at a time and it may be over in February, may be over in March. But this is how our primary system is built.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Hold on a second, guys. Let's listen under to the GOP media center. Think I we are going to get the official results. Let's see if we can hear what he's saying. We are going to get the audio. As soon as we get the audio we will hear what they are saying.

I believe they are announcing the official result. Stand by for a moment.

All right. David, can you read lips?

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: I think he is just saying that Mitt Romney has won by 14 votes. Go ahead and say that.

BLITZER: We don't know that. But I'm sure somebody is listening, somebody is paying attention. We are going to check that audio. Hopefully it'll come in --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Someone will hold a cell phone up.

BLITZER: No, not yet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can't believe it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, no.

BLITZER: A dramatic moment indeed.

MORGAN: We had six hours to get ready for this.

BLITZER: Yes, you would have thought.

KING: This is Matt Strawn, the state Republican chairman, by the way, who's a good guy who's having an interesting night.

BLITZER: Maybe we can speak to him on the phone afterwards and get Edith and Carolyn to join in on the conversation. We'll get a little post-mortem what's going on.

I know they are working ton right now. Matt is a very good guy in Iowa and he is explaining this last-minute snafu. Can we call it a snafu?

MORGAN: It is officially a snafu.

BLITZER: Yes.

MORGAN: This is it. Whatever happens, this is officially the closest ever Iowa caucus.

BLITZER: Yes, of course, yes.

BURNETT: Who is he explaining this to?

BLITZER: I guess he is reporting to the media. There are cameras there. You see the CNN estimate, Romney the win by 14 votes.

Here we go. Now let's listen in.

MATT STRAWN, IOWA GOP CHAIRMAN: Congratulations to Governor Mitt Romney, winner of the 2012 Iowa caucuses. Congratulations to Senator Santorum for a very close second place finish, an excellent race here. And congratulations to Congressman Paul and all of the other can dates who competed in the 2012 caucuses.

Thank you very much. Have a good night.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What was the turnout again?

STRAWN: The final turn out final number was 122,255. Thank you, everybody.

BLITZER: All right. There you heard Matt Strawn. It's actually eight votes, John. He said that Romney is the winner by eight votes over Rick Santorum. Ron Paul third.

How many total turn out did they say?

BURNETT: He said, 122,255.

BLITZE: Like 118,000, 119,000 four years ago. So a little bit more. Not much more. Certainly not close to the 220,000 or so that turned out four years ago in the Democratic caucuses.

BURNETT: Do you think the whole issue of whether that is an energized Republican base or not, what is your view having seen so many?

BLITZER: It was actually, the last time around, I think that was a record, 119,000 or 118,000. A little bit more. So I'm sure they will be happy with that. Although I had heard from other Republicans they were hoping for 140 or 150,000. That would have really shown some energy.

BORGER: And they got independent voters here, presumably, because of Ron Paul as our numbers showed. So, you wouldn't say it is exactly an energized turnout.

BLITZER: But it is official now, the Republican Party in Iowa says that Mitt Romney is the winner by eight votes over Rick Santorum -- Anderson.

COOPER: Amazing stuff. Now we know for sure. James, what does it mean?

JAMES CARVILLE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It means that if there is any award for investigative journalism, in television, if we don't get it, there is no justice in the world. That is the greatest moment I've ever seen.

The whole night was unbelievable and that capped it off. And, folks, this has been one weird race so far and it really got there tonight. I can't wait for New Hampshire. Something's got to happen.

FLEISCHER: I'm going to go out the limb. I think New Hampshire is going to be even closer than Iowa.

COOPER: Really?

FLEISCHER: No.

(LAUGHTER)

LOESCH: South Carolina will be interesting. We still have haul, but that's what I'm looking for.

COOPER: And the race is going to get nastier from here.

LOESCH: Oh, yes. Exponentially than last year.

COOPER: Or more delicious in James Carville's opinion.

LOESCH: If you don't have anything nice to say, go set by James.

CARVILLE: Nice to say about it, it's obvious they have a weak front-runner chased by weak challengers. That's exactly what's going on here, but that can produce some pretty interesting stuff. You know, two bad football teams playing can be a pretty good game.

MARTIN: As to the point earlier, the different states that we're about to see over the next month, also play a role in that. So you talk about South Carolina. Then what happens in Nevada? What about Colorado, and Minnesota, Missouri non-binding?

So, all those different issues come into play? And so, how do certain candidates appeal to voters in those particular areas? So again, they got to run it out. But you got to get the numbers.

But the other point, tonight's delegates, none were played. They will be chosen in January -- I'm sorry, in June. So it's not like all of a sudden you say, fine, you won the race and you won 25 delegates so you can start the clock.

FLEISCHER: You know, go from here in New Hampshire, obviously where Mitt Romney is the favorite. South Carolina, Florida, key. But then the race basically takes a big pause in the month of February.

There are five contests in February, which actually favor Mitt Romney. You got Maine, and then you got three states that have generally significant Mormon population. Mitt Romney should do well in a quiet February and then you get to March with Super Tuesday.

So, this has a lot of time ahead of it. A quiet February left in front us.

MARTIN: Yes, but save it in February.

COOPER: Let's take a look at the actual numbers -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, Anderson, take a look. The most important number we have right now is at the bottom of the screen, 100 percent. That's what we are waiting for -- 100 percent of precincts now officially reported the Iowa caucuses.

And take a look at this -- Mitt Romney, you see that check. He is the winner, 30,015. Rick Santorum, second, 30,007 votes. Mitt Romney wins by a grand total of eight votes. Eight votes.

Ron Paul third. Newt Gingrich fourth. And you saw the others earlier.

An amazing moment -- Mitt Romney wins, albeit, narrowly.

On the other hand, John, a win is a win.

KING: A win is a win. And you have watched. This is our final number, Wolf. This is our final number from the Iowa Republican Party -- 30,015 to 30,007. Thanks to the great work of our ladies tonight in Clinton County, Iowa, helping us crack the end of the difference.

Clinton County, you don't think of this as much. You see, it's a small county, 32 percent to 26 percent. This is the county made the difference for Governor Romney tonight.

If you pull out this map and you look at the breath of this, you're seeing a lot of purple. That is Rick Santorum doing a very, very well -- a lot of comparisons to the Mike Huckabee. Huckabee had all this orange four years ago, Santorum all this purple this year.

However, many of these counties where Santorum had that impressive victory, that's where you find your Tea Party voters, your conservative evangelical, born-again Christians. He did very well in the area with a small population.

Governor Romney's win, as narrow as it is, comes because he ran up margins, decent margins by Iowa standards in the bigger places, 12.8 percent. Nearly 13 percent lives in Polk County. Governor Romney did well there. If you come out east, Cedar Rapids is in Linn County, 6.6 percent of the population, Governor Romney. Santorum third there -- that's one of the reasons.

So, as you watch this now, you have the closest race in Iowa caucus history. Wow. Governor Romney wins, 30,015 votes.

You want to see something eerie? Twenty percent, 30,015. We go back four years. Governor Romney, 30,021 votes. Six votes difference.

BLITZER: Yes.

KING: Twenty-five percent, the same exact percent. Six votes, he spent $10 million this time.

BLITZER: In 2008.

KING: In 2008. He spent less this time, six votes.

BLITZER: All right. So, we have -- we are going to take a look, a closer look at what this all means. Well take a quick break. Where do we go from here?

Much more of our coverage, let me repeat it, much more of our coverage, when we come back.

You're watching us at the CNN election center, and we're watching the Iowa caucuses.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Welcome back to our pretty remarkable turn of events here on election night, night of the caucuses in Iowa. Mitt Romney has won.

Ali Velshi, God help him, is at the Twitter wall.

ALI VELSHI, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: The social media screen.

COOPER: Social media screen.

VELSHI: All right.

COOPER: But there has been --

VELSHI: There are other developments. We've been tracking how many tweets. Forget that for a minute.

Edith and Carolyn, the two women, Carolyn Tallett and Edith Pfeffer, who helps us solve this mystery on TV, are trending on Twitter and worldwide. Edith, Carolyn and Edith and Carolyn and guess what else is trending?

COOPER: What?

VELSHI: Hashtag "CNN after dark." I'm not making this up. CNN after dark is trending.

COOPER: Bom chicka bowbow.

VELSHI: Not that kind of CNN after dark. We got all sorts of tweets about Edith and Carolyn. This one says, I really could swear it is Lucy and Edith that CNN is talking to #Iowa.

This is from our Jim Spellman who spends a lot of time-out there. He said, "Edith and Carolyn deserve their own Weebles." Those Weebles that you've been and Wolf were talking about.

Lots of good stuff. You know, Piers Morgan's executive producer, Jonathan Wald, has been hanging around the studio. I think they had a show to do earlier, didn't quite work out that way.

Jonathan Wald says, "Set your calendars now to the Iowa caucus baby boom in nine months."

(LAUGHTER)

VELSHI: The Twitter-verse, you joked last time with me that everybody gone to sleep, we saw the numbers decreasing of the number of tweets that were coming in. They have woken up again. They have woken up. The Twitter-verse is alive.

Edith and Carolyn, thank you for your contribution to excellent journalism today.

COOPER: Really is the best live phone call I have heard on the air. It was incredible.

Wolf, back to you.

BLITZER: You know what? We are going to try to get them on the phone in the next few minutes. I want to thank them for helping America solve this mystery.

Edith and Carolyn, they are good friend, they are friends of all of ours right now. We're going to talk to them. I hope they didn't go back it sleep.

What do you think, Erin?

BURNETT: I just think it was a great moment in America. It shows that people around the world are watching right now. You are looking at with all these countries of democracy in question.

And you look at the greatest democracy in the world and you realize that it still comes done to people counting things and caring so passionately about getting it right. And enough women did their work and they were offended to hear that someone might question them because they knew every single --

BORGER: Exactly.

BURNETT: I wrote them down, as she did -- 437 Romney, 292, Paul, 151, Gingrich, all the way down, five for Herman Cain.

BORGER: I don't want to be the person who messed it up.

BLITZER: And you what? What I drew from it, coincidentally, when interviewed Mitt Romney last week, we drove in his bus from Davenport to Clinton County. I got off the bus in Clinton County. He went to a rally.

So he may have gotten those eight votes by showing up in Clinton County on that day to speak to the folks there and they liked him. There was a big crowd. He did well and he wins the Iowa caucus. Not by much, Piers, but he wins.

MORGAN: I come back to a win is a win. I think if you're Mitt Romney and three weeks ago, you were told you would win in Iowa, you would have been absolutely thrilled because in your head, you're thinking, I would be second or third and then went into New Hampshire. He's won the first one. He will probably win the next one.

BLITZER: All right. We got great news. Anderson, get ready -- come over here to this table. Anderson, please.

(LAUGHTER)

BLITZER: I want you to join in this conversation because guess what? Joining us now on the phone, Edith and Carolyn.

(CHEERS)

BLITZER: Let me start with Edith.

Edith, thank you so much. On behalf of all of us, on behalf of the American people, we want to thank you for clearing up this mystery. Tell us how you feel right now, Edith?

PFEFFER: I'm just so overwhelmed with all of this. Overwhelmed.

BLITZER: You're happy?

PFEFFER: I'm very happy with what has happened here. But I'm amazed, because really and truly, my people did call this in tonight and I don't know where the glitch was. I did hear from Romney campaign about 11:20. And I gave them the figures.

And then I went to bed. And it has been kind of interesting to wake up.

(LAUGHTER)

BLITZER: Very interesting.

All right. Let's get the reaction from Carolyn. How do you feel about this, Carolyn? Because you were huge in solving this great mystery.

TALLETT: Well, I guess if I hadn't answered my phone, the mystery would still be going on, wouldn't it?

BLITZER: Fortunately you did. Was it your cell phone, was it a hard line?

TALLETT: It was my cell phone.

BLITZER: Cell phone.

Anderson, talk to these ladies. They want to hear from you.

COOPER: You know, you're trending worldwide apparently on Twitter, I just learned from Ali Velshi. Are you big on the Twitter?

TALLETT: Not so good. I just got an -- an iPad for Christmas but I don't know how to work it yet.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Would you ladies like to be the co-anchors of a new CNN program, CNN after dark?

(LAUGHTER)

BLITZER: Very exciting moment in the history of Iowa, and the Iowa caucus. Can we ask you ladies -- are you happy that the winner of the Iowa caucus says Mitt Romney?

Edith, first to you. Edith? Are you gone?

PFEFFER: I'm happy that it's won. As county chairman, did not take a -- a stand as to who I voted for this evening. And I did not share that. Our central committee decided we would remain neutral. Work to promote all of the candidates as they came into our county.

They were very thrilled last week when Mitt Romney came. I'm told we had 750 to 1,000 people. Unfortunately I was not able to attend that event as my mother's cousin had died. And I felt my duty was to my family that day. And I attended her funeral.

BLITZER: I represented you at that event, Edith. I was there in Clinton County at that event. And you gave the right answer, by the way, as chair. You know, you shouldn't tell us how you voted.

On the other hand, Carolyn, you may want to share how you feel?

TALLETT: I have the same obligation as central committee member. I shared my caucus tonight. So, I had no partiality as far as public and privately, I won't share who I voted for.

KING: How many years do you two ladies have combined in Republican politics in your county?

TALLETT: I worked for two congressmen for 18 years. And I worked in the party le locally for quite a while. I would say 30 years.

KING: I ask because I had an e-mail from a veteran activist. This is what they said about you: We know them well. Everyone loves Carolyn and fears Edith.

(LAUGHTER)

TALLETT: I'm sure that could be true about the fear, I'm not sure about the love for Carolyn.

(LAUGHTER)

TALLETT: Edith has been doing politics since 1972 in this county. My late husband was elected county chairman in 1975. And I've been actively involved since then.

GERGEN: May I ask, how do you --

BLITZER: This is by the way, Edith and Carolyn, this is David Gergen, our senior political analyst. You have probably seen him on CNN, right?

TALLETT: Yes I have.

BLITZER: OK, good. He's going to ask you a question.

GERGEN: Oh, good. Thank you both so very, very much. I'm just curious how people in Iowa will feel about how close this has been. This is the closest outcome we have ever had in an Iowa primary. And in fact, a lot of research suggests that it is the closest we have seen in American politics in any primary or caucus over the last 20 years.

How should the -- the media is going to spend a lot of time trying to interpret this. How do you interpret what's good going on there tonight? Because it's been absolutely fascinating.

PFEFFER: I don't know. I don't know that I have an answer to that. At 11:20 when the Romney campaign staffer called me and he indicated to me that it was very, very close. I thought, boy, this is very unusual for Iowa.

But I think it tells you that Iowans are looking at this very closely. And we think before we vote. And I realize this is extremely unusual. But I don't have an answer as to how we are going to perceive this.

Do you, Carolyn?

GERGEN: Carolyn?

TALLETT: I just wanted Iowa to look good tonight. I wanted good participation. I wanted whom ever we voted for to go forward. And gosh, I just want them to beat President Obama --

BORGER: Edith?

TALLETT: -- whoever that person is going to be.

BORGER: Edith, this is Gloria Borger here.

PFEFFER: We will work for either candidate.

BORGER: OK. I want to ask you about turnout because our numbers show that there weren't that many more this time than there were in 2008. There were about 122,000 this time. Do you consider that successful?

PFEFFER: Yes, I do. Yes, I do.

BORGER: Even with all of the talk about all of the enthusiasm on the Republican side? Would you have expected more? You didn't?

PFEFFER: Well, I would have expected more. I would have hoped for a few more. But I think Iowans really want to meet these candidates and many of these candidates chose the larger cities to come into, like they expected us to do to Davenport, and then realized that Clinton County is the tenth largest county in Iowa. That has a lot to say -- and that we are very concerned as to who our presidential candidate is.

Governor Branstad alluded to this earlier in summer, in August, that he felt they need to come into all of the counties and Rick Santorum did that.

BLITZER: He certainly did. You know, Edith, Carolyn, unfortunately we have to go. But Piers Morgan is here and he has one final question he wants to ask the two of you.

Piers?

MORGAN: Yes, ladies. Congratulations on a magnificent performance this evening.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.

MORGAN: Do either of you have an agent?

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: Because if you don't, I would like to apply for the job. I think you will be pretty busy.

PFEFFER: Oh, it's been kind of fun. It is good to be a part of history.

BLITZER: Certainly is.

PFEFFER: A small part. Thank you very much.

BLITZER: Edith and Carolyn, get some sleep. You guys are going to be busy. There is a picture.

Are you guys watching? Edith and Carolyn, are you watching TV right now?

PFEFFER: Not right now.

BLITZER: You're not watching CNN right now, are you?

PFEFFER: We're in a different room right now.

BLITZER: Because Edith is right in the middle of our screen right there.

PFEFFER: There is our picture?

BLITZER: Edith, you got there with the Governor Terry Branstad. You have done amazing work. All of us are proud of you. We're proud of Iowa. Democracy in action.

And you know what? From little kids, we always learn that every vote counts and that was underscored on this day.

Thanks to you. Thanks to everyone in Iowa -- for underscoring to the world and whole world has been watching here on CNN. They have been watching this show unfold. And we want to make it clear that democracy is good. Every vote counts.

Guys, thanks very, very much. Edith and Carolyn.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you. Good night.

COOPER: Good night.

BLITZER: You can't make this stuff up.

BURNETT: No. It is what makes this country so amazing.

BLITZER: Yes.

Get a good night's sleep, ladies. We will speak tomorrow.

We'll take one more quick break. Much more of our coverage in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Let me just update you on the official results. A hundred percent of the precincts in Iowa have now been counted. The results have been sent.

Mitt Romney wins the Iowa caucuses, but not by much, by eight votes -- 30,015 votes for Romney, Rick Santorum, 30,007. Ron Paul comes in third, Newt Gingrich fourth. You get the point. But it's about as close as possible.

Anderson, it's been a dramatic, dramatic evening.

COOPER: It's dramatic indeed. Funny at times. Emotional at times. Really a remarkable evening.

Our coverage continues of the Iowa caucuses.

(MUSIC)