Return to Transcripts main page

CNN BREAKING NEWS

CNN Coverage of the Iowa Caucuses; Mitt Romney Won 2012 Iowa Caucuses By 8 Votes

Aired January 4, 2012 - 03:00   ET

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


WOLF BLITZER, CNN LEAD POLITICAL ANCHOR: Mitt Romney is the winner. He comes in ahead of Rick Santorum, former senator from Pennsylvania. But by only eight votes, 30,015 for Mitt Romney. Rick Santorum, 30,007. Ron Paul comes in third. Newt Gingrich, fourth. Rick Perry who will later announce after a disappointing fifth, that he was going to go to Texas instead of South Carolina and reassess whether or not he should continue in this race. He comes in fifth and then Michele Bachmann, who says she is continuing, comes under sixth. Jon Huntsman who didn't participate in the Iowa caucuses is working in New Hampshire next Tuesday the primaries New Hampshire. Let's go over to all of our CNN team.

It's been a remarkable, remarkable evening. And we also, Anderson, had a little fun.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: We did. Yes. And oddly, the fun apparently is continuing, because we are still on the air.

(LAUGHTER)

COOPER: Long after we thought we wouldn't be.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Right.

COOPER: In the special CNN after dark edition. So Gloria, in terms of tomorrow, I mean we will find Mitt Romney --

BORGER: You mean today.

COOPER: Today. A few hours from now, Mitt Romney will head it New Hampshire as well as Rick Santorum.

BORGER: Right, Romney is going to New Hampshire where he has a sizeable lead. He is clearly the favorite in New Hampshire. He is going it say he's got the wind at his back.

COOPER: You are talking about, like 47 percent.

BORGER: Right.

BLITZER: We have a brand new poll that came out tonight.

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Thirty percent ahead.

COOPER: Thirty percent ahead, right.

BORGER: And if you are Mitt Romney tonight, you are thinking, OK, Rick Santorum doesn't have a lot of national potential. Ron Paul doesn't have a lot of national potential. So, if the top three -- if he could have picked the top three, these are the three would he have pick. In this order.

COOPER: And certain lit fact that Perry, who did have deep pockets, did have a lot of money, seems to be out of the race.

BORGER: Back to Texas. I think the person who could do him some real damage here is Newt Gingrich. Because I think it is getting awfully personal between the two of them. And I think Newt Gingrich is rebranding himself and it is going to start going on the attack as we heard tonight in his speech. And watch out, he is very effective.

COOPER: And certainly, if you are a Democratic, if you are a President Obama supporter, you are kind of licking your lips at this point in excitement. Because it seems like they are going to be firing at each other now.

PIERS MORGAN, CNN HOST: I would just keep war out of this. I think it is all going to kicked off. I think the debates and we get to, you know, primaries coming, it is going to get ugly. And I think you will see Gingrich ripping into Romney. I think others will join in. I think Ron Paul definitely well. And Romney is going to face, I think for the first time, a proper forensic assault from his competitors.

BLITZER: We are already forgetting that earlier in date, Romney, you know, he came under blistering attack from Newt Gingrich who called him a liar.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: That's right.

BLITZER: That's a flip-flopper, not, you know, the serial hypocrisy a liar.

COOPER: And Santorum who call Ron Paul disgusting.

BURNETT: Yes. I mean, there was that whole decline. But now, you have got two debates this weekend. And you have been talking about. And I think Gloria made this point. You can see it on our boards. People who cared about social issues, 49 percent of them, those are the people who went for Rick Santorum. So, all of the sudden this weekend, socialist issues around the table. Abortion, gay marriage and gun rights. You see gun rights brought up in the Newt Gingrich ad that's coming out tomorrow, about how Romney was for gun control in Massachusetts. But all the sudden, the social issues front and center on the debate in front of American people.

MORGAN: And I think Anderson is right about, this is where Rick Santorum could be exposed. Because I think he does has extreme positions to moderates in the party. And he hasn't really been attacked. He hasn't been near the front running. New that he is, some views will be heavily scrutinized and could be under fire as well.

GERGEN: Seems to me that Mitt Romney and his team came in here feeling that if they could just win this, and then they win New Hampshire, they could wrap it up. And they did win. And a win is a win as Piers pointed out. They deserve credit for that. They did they could have.

At same time, he was denied the sense tonight that he can now wrap it up quickly. Clearly, this is going to go on for a while. Clearly, South Carolina becomes an important state. Somebody eventually I think Romney is likely to be the nominee. The only way you can take it away from him is somebody actually has to beat him somewhere. . I think they have to beat him in South Carolina.

COOPER: and South Carolina, really, becomes one of the more interesting state than New Hampshire because in terms of competition, Santorum, Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich are going to be targeting there, a lot more, because they think their chances are bet are than New Hampshire.

MORGAN: Also Jon Huntsman. I mean, he has been putting everything on New Hampshire. He has kept well away from Iowa. And I think you are going to see him come out tomorrow. He's coming on my show tomorrow night. He is going to be very strong, very loud now. Because he is going to sense blood too.

GERGEN: But his problem will be that Rick Santorum will get a lot of attention, get a lot of the oxygen.

COOPER: Was it a mistake for Huntsman not to play in Iowa?

GERGEN: You know, tooth from a safer Huntsman and a mistake for Tim Pawlenty. He keeps thinking --

COOPER: Pawlenty got out of the race in terms of Perry get into the race.

GERGEN: Yes. And it's poll and everything like. They pulled the plug a little early.

COOPER: Right. There are a lot of people tonight. A lot of candidates as John king said earlier tonight, ten hours ago, are maybe rethinking having got out.

BLITZER: Like mike Huckabee you think?

COOPER: Perhaps.

BORGER: Yes. But, you know, it is a very divided party. I mean, this isn't a party that is coalescing. You have Santorum representing sort of the moral issues. You have Ron Paul and the libertarians. But, also the deficit, you know, the fed issues trillion dollars out of budget. You have Mitt Romney trying to talk about on the businessman and I can create jobs and you know this is not a party that is really coalescing and uniting behind the candidate because they don't agree. COOPER: And it seems not a party which at least among these candidates in the next few days is going to be focused on Barack Obama, more focused on one another.

BORGER: Well, it make sense.

BLITZER: We have got some history - some historical factoids that I want to share. And I want everybody to pay attention. Roland, you paying attention over there?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not really, Wolf.

(LAUGHTER)

BLITZER: This is important. James, pay attention to this. Because I know all of you are going to be - kidding Roland. He works for us. He is an excellent, excellent pollster and researcher.

This is what he is telling us right now. Was it Romney's eight- vote margin, the closest in the history of presidential primaries and caucuses in the United States?

BLITZER: And the answer is --

MORGAN: Yes.

BORGER: Yes.

BLITZER: No.

(LAUGHTER)

BLITZER: The answer is no. Barack Obama beat Hillary Clinton in the 2008 Guam caucus by seven votes. That was the closest.

BORGER: How did we forget that?

BLITZER: That is the closest primary in caucus in American history.

BORGER: We covered that, by the way.

BLITZER: Now, on the Republican side, it was the closest. Iowa 2012 was the closest Republican presidential contest in history beating 1936 South Dakota primary. Piers you will remember this one. The 1936 primary won by Landed with 257-vote margin.

COOPER: I don't remember staying up until 3:00 a.m. for the Guam caucus.

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And Wolf, can we get voted off the island so we can go home?

BLITZER: No. (LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I tried guys. I tried.

BLITZER: History, pretty good stuff.

COOPER: Yes.

MORGAN: So, what happens when Newt Gingrich in terms of New Hampshire? If he comes forth there, does he have any future? In this race?

BURNETT: Sure.

GERGEN: He has strength in South Carolina.

COOPER: He is polling well in South Carolina.

GERGEN: Exactly.

MORGAN: He can afford to do badly in New Hampshire and still remain in the race.

BORGER: What is badly?

MORGAN: Fourth.

GERGEN: I think everything now depends on South Carolina for all these guys. I think it is very difficult to beat Romney. They can hope to narrow the margin but somebody has to beat him in South Carolina.

BORGER: And then Florida.

BURNETT: The expectation was South Carolina was one you were might lose to social conservatives.

GERGEN: Right.

BURNETT: But now, again, it's this expectation again with Mitt Romney, you just keep hearing it. You know, we're all on this -- now he has got win every one. Whereas before it was different.

MORGAN: Do you now go negative?

BORGER: Yes.

MORGAN: Do you revert really to the meet the people --

BORGER: He will. And he is going to get it from all sides too. Because not only Romney folks but the poll people have been attacking him and will continue to.

BLITZER: By the way, one other thing, we will take a break. But I'll ask just let everyone know, Roland, you paying attention over there. ROLAND MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I am.

BLITZER: Alright, pay attention. Twenty five delegates at stake in Iowa. CNN now has estimated since it is not winner take all in Iowa, how they break down. Romney will get seven. Santorum, seven. Paul, seven. Gingrich, two. Perry, two. That's what where with estimating right now.

Once they go to the Republican convention in Tampa this summer, that's how the 25 delegate votes at the convention will break down. Let's take another quick break. More coverage after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: The Iowa caucuses are now history and dramatic history. In fact, it was a Mitt Romney won by eight votes, but it was a proportional representation going forward to the Republican national convention. Delegates you need for the race, 1,144. That's our estimate right now to nominate the Republican candidate who will challenge Barack Obama in November of this year.

Right now, if you add what happened in Iowa where the top three each got seven delegates, that's what we're estimating because it's not winner take all. Plus, the previously selected delegates for various reasons, party leaders or whatever, you've got Romney with 18, Santorum, eighth, Ron Paul, seven, Rick Perry, who's off to Texas to re-think this campaign, four. Newt Gingrich, two. Bachmann and Huntsman each with zero.

So, those are the delegate counts very, very early in the process. We're now off to New Hampshire and I'm off to see John king as we get ready for New Hampshire. Let's look ahead a little bit. Because Iowa is now history, important history. But we're moving onto New Hampshire, South Carolina, Florida, Nevada. There are still a whole bunch of states out there.

JOHN KING, CNN HOST: And I would say, if this were five hours ago, one week to New Hampshire, we should say six days to New Hampshire essentially since we're waking up, people are still in the middle of the campaign.

Here is Iowa tonight. All of the purple is Rick Santorum and yet he lost the state by eight votes. Mitt Romney winning where the people are. Now, does this project forward? That's before we got, remember this. This is Mike Huckabee, Christian conservative candidate in 2008. Rick Santorum essentially matched that tonight. So, let's move forward on the map. Bring it out and let's move over to New Hampshire. Now, we don't have any results from this year's campaign, so let's go back to 2008 and let's go to the Republican side here. Remember, Mike Huckabee was orange in Iowa. Imagine that as Rick Santorum is purple.

If Rick Santorum is the Christian conservative, you don't find evangelicals in the state of New Hampshire, more libertarians. Independents can vote in more moderate Republican Party, a rare publican party which is why Rick Santorum very smart tonight. Focused on his speech tonight on blue collar economics, not so much the cultural issues. That is his challenge. Well, f he moves on to New Hampshire. Can he make an end road on the economy?

Newt Gingrich also has a lot to prove. Newt Gingrich has one week to prove he has staying power in this race. If he comes in behind Ron Paul and behind Mitt Romney and conceivably, behind Rick Santorum again, Newt Gingrich is going to see his money dry up.

So, Gingrich has a lot to prove here. Santorum has a lot to prove here. Ron Paul had 10 percent in Iowa four years ago. He built it up over 20 percent this year. Eight percent in New Hampshire for Ron Paul, four years ago, a big test to see whether he can grow.

And then state number three in the Republican process is a state that is often decisive. You just mentioned the early delegate count. Delegates matter if this goes on for weeks and weeks. Sometimes, momentum decides the nomination. If somebody can win two out of the first three or three out of the first three, it can end quickly. You get into South Carolina by the orange, the Huckabee vote, much more hospitable to a Christian conservative candidate.

Governor Perry's decision to go home and reassess could be a benefit to Rick Santorum if he has legs because look what happened in 2008. John McCain won South Carolina. Mike Huckabee got 30 percent of the vote. Why? Yes, Mike Huckabee filled these counties up here, but Fred Thompson stayed in the race. And he was the conservative spoiler. He did well in a lot of these counties where you fin Christian conservative. I'll just touch one, Fred Thompson, 21 percent right there.

Imagine if those votes go to Mike Huckabee in that state? It would have been very different. So by the time we get to South Carolina, Wolf, the calculation may be if Perry's not active, does Bachmann stay in the race? Or do you get to South Carolina and have Romney, Gingrich, Santorum, Paul.

In that case, South Carolina, again, could be the key. Romney proves himself here. A lot of people think he could end it. If not, let me just bring out the map, state number four is Florida where you had John McCain seal the race last time, essentially. This could be the decisive state. Those are the first four all this month.

BLITZER: Go back to South Carolina for a moment. Because Mitt Romney has a huge endorsement in South Carolina, namely, the governor. How important is Nikki Hailey for Mitt Romney in South Carolina because that could be decisive?

KING: Potentially critical. Because Nikki Hailey was a huge storm in the 20120 election here. And you come into the race for governor, Nikki Hailey winning with 51 percent of the vote defeating the Democratic rival. She's very popular in the state among conservatives.

We don't have results yet, obviously. We'll go back to 2008 here. We'll show you the Republicans. You have a popular governor in the state where you know the opposition is going to say Mitt Romney is not a trustworthy conservative. Mitt Romney is the Massachusetts' moderate as Newt Gingrich said tonight. Rick Santorum will criticize him on many issues.

We might have a replay of 2008. Where in South Carolina, you will hear Mitt Romney when he ran against Ted Kennedy for sensate in Massachusetts was pro-choice on abortion rights. That could be a replay here having the backing of a prominent tea party conservative could make a difference. Could make a difference. She's actually coming to New Hampshire with Mitt Romney in the days ahead.

BLITZER: So is John McCain.

KING: John McCain as Mitt Romney tries to prove, the establishment is with me. What Romney wants to prove in the next two weeks in New Hampshire and then South Carolina is that I'm the strongest candidate against President Obama, the establishment is with me. I'm inevitable. I'm inevitable. That's what Romney wants to prove. But he was very smart tonight saying he knows he's going to have to earn it.

BLITZER: Alright, let's go over to the table, John. Come on over too. We've got all of our team here, watching what's going on. And, as we assess, you know, looking ahead a little bit, you know, Erin, if you look ahead to South Carolina and Florida, New Hampshire, I think all of us can agree Mitt Romney is going to win. David, you're in Boston. Any doubt about Mitt Romney and New Hampshire?

GERGEN: No, I think the only question is the margin.

KING: And how Gingrich does, whether Gingrich can prove himself viable. Because a lot of people in the party, a lot of the Republicans establishment does not like speaker Gingrich. He is, by far, the best debater in terms of a single candidate who will take on Mitt Romney. The question is he lived off the land for a long time after the staff shake up. You can do that in the months up to Iowa voting. Now we go state to state to state. You need resources.

BURNETT: Last time, we had the bull from Florida was when Gingrich had the surge.

BORGER: Right.

BURNETT: So you had this huge gap where you had Gingrich and then everyone else. But it's been a while since we've been able to see.

BORGER: There's another fly in the ointment in New Hampshire, which is independent voters. Ron Paul did very well with independent voters tonight or yesterday. Whenever that was. And so we don't, you know, independent voters can vote in the Republican primary.

COOPER: You know if the debate becomes more about social issues does that then turn off other independent voters who might view otherwise?

KING: I don't believe the debate will be about social issues. Not in New Hampshire. But, by time it gets to South Carolina, it's possible by the time we get to South Carolina. But, remember, you start getting back into these issues. You debate the social issues and you may have, again, 2008, Romney's credibility on the abortion issue in particular came up. Senator Santorum is the pure conservative.

But, the problem for speaker Gingrich when he makes this argument is Romney campaign will come back and say well, speaker Gingrich was for the individual mandate on health care, not a social issue, but an important issue for the tea party before Governor Romney was. You will replay, if not more Mitt Romney, from Ron Paul who is very tough in Iowa, Newt Gingrich on the couch with Nancy Pelosi saying let's do something about climate change. So this is not a clean cut contrast for speaker Gingrich.

GERGEN: Yes, the other part of this, I think, Wolf, in New Hampshire is whether Santorum can gain traction. You saw in our own poll, he went from five to ten in New Hampshire. And the question is if he can get some real traction going, still lose, but get traction going, he would go into South Carolina probably as the lead alternative!

BURNETT: One thing that's really interesting, because everyone knows Mitt Romney, people always say people settle for him, right. We may not love him. But when you look at tonight's entrance poll data, look at who strongly favor has reservations.

Have reservations about Mitt Romney, 29 percent of the voters. Have reservations on Rick Santorum, 25 percent of voters. So there were a lot of people who had reservations about him, as well. Some of this talk with Soledad O'Brien earlier tonight and said everyone that comes here tonight; we sort of want a composite sit candidate. A little bit of Rick.

BORGER: That's why you see so many leaders in this field. Because they don't' -- they want the perfect candidate.

BURNETT: They were in love with Rick Santorum I think was interesting. It's almost as high as Romney.

MORGAN: You think Romney is going to try to maintain this presidential position, only talking about Obama and being very polite to all of his competitors. But they're going to be ripping his throat out. The question is can he hold his temper? Can he hold himself?

COOPER: He doesn't need to say anything. It's the PAC - I mean, the super PAC have been doing all of the dirty work. We've got to take a quick break.

But speaking about love, we actually have some new graphics that we're going to unveil I think right after commercial break. So we'll take a quick break. You talk about a loving candidate. It's after dark, after all. Stay tuned for that. We'll be right back.

(LAUGHTER)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: All right, the Iowa caucuses kicked off with a very busy month and the real Republican presidential campaign. This coming Tuesday, the lead off primary of the year in New Hampshire on January 10th. Then the race moves south.

Join us for the southern presidential debate on January 19th followed by the first southern contest in South Carolina on January 21st. Next, it's onto Florida for the Florida Republican presidential debate on January 26th. It's the scene center for the Florida primary five days later on January 31st. And we'll be there every step of the way.

And Anderson, the good news, we're going to continue this tradition with our brand new nightly show for each of these contests. Tell our viewers a little bit about them.

BLITZER: That's right. Welcome baby, it's CNN after dark.

(LAUGHTER)

BLITZER: Do we have any graphics for that?

COOPER: Hey, where's the music?

BLITZER: Here we go.

COOPER: No, no, no. That's not CNN after dark. It's got to be more of a little Barry White. A little Luther Vandross.

BLITZER: Keep those graphics up a little bit, guys. We want to see those graphics. We want to absorb this new moment. There it is right there.

BORGER: It's a whole new CNN.

COOPER: The earth mix is not the right music.

BLITZER: No.

COOPER: Yes, I've got nothing more. I'm sorry. How was that? I'm done.

(LAUGHTER)

BLITZER: All right, roll it, Martin.

BURNETT: Roll it? What are you doing? He's taking pictures of us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All of the CNN executives are actually sleep right now. Go ahead, pick a couple of hosts and watch this show. What the heck. Let's just do it.

COOPER: It turns that we were just talking about Florida and the scheduling of it, Mitt Romney has actually already started doing ad buys in Florida.

KING: He put a new ad up before the Romney campaign did just today. But previous to that, restores the future with his political action committee supporting Mitt Romney run by former campaign workers from 20008. There's no official coordination allowed under the law. But we know they're Romney friends. We know Romney donors who gets in the back. They started advertising some time ago. Erin mentioned this earlier.

When we saw the poll several weeks ago now, showed Newt Gingrich with a big lead in Florida, the Romney super PAC, as it's called, came in to essentially challenge the Gingrich lead there. Negative ads saying Gingrich has all of this baggage, which I think is what makes the next week and several days very critical.

If Gingrich is to emerge as the challenger, he needs to prove himself in New Hampshire. Because tonight, he didn't just lose to Mitt Romney, he lost to Rick Santorum who is not a politics for six years after speaker for a while. And he lost to Ron Paul.

If speaker Gingrich comes in after them in New Hampshire, he's going to have hard time raising money. He believes South Carolina is his best option. The speaker does believe that. But I would remind you, yes, South Carolina is a very conservative state. Iowa and South Carolina are probably the two most conservative states in this process. But South Carolina has a long history of being more pragmatic. George H.W. Bush clinched South Carolina, not exactly a fire brand Christian conservative. The South Carolina primary, it has a history, pragmatic establishment party, of taking an assessment after Iowa and New Hampshire and saying what do we need to do for the good of the party.

COOPER: It's a tough campaign, as well.

KING: Very, very tough campaign.

BORGER: And they're going to portray Newt Gingrich as a liberal, you know, who supported mandates for health care on values, maybe his personal life will resurface again. I mean, you know, immigration will be an issue there. Newt Gingrich saying that it's only humane if people have lived in this country for 25 years to find a way for them to become citizens. So all of these things are going to be issues.

KING: And there is a whisper campaign about Mitt Romney being a Mormon four years ago in South Carolina. South Carolina has a history of getting pretty bruising. A tough between the candidates, tough on television. But then the Robe calls as the direct mail on the anonymous rumors and the anonymous viewers.

COOPER: Do you think that played a role for him in Iowa?

KING: Tonight, that will be interesting to study that issue. I think it is, without a doubt, it is less of an issue this cycle than it was last cycle.

MORGAN: Barack Obama be quite happy if the debate is not about the economy and not about jobs. I mean, this is the vulnerability, we thought, as president for the second term. He'll be quite pleased.

(CROSSTALK)

GERGEN: So pleased with a long campaign. He can sit there, raise money, hone his message and be there, being "presidential" but actually campaigning.

MORGAN: He's really good.

KING: One qualifier. He would look in the mirror at his own experience. He benefited from a long campaign. He was a better candidate. Senator Obama was a better candidate after going through the grueling process with Senator Clinton.

GERGEN: But he captured the country's imagination through his primaries. That is not what we saw here.

BLITZER: Let's get Ali to weigh in because you've been monitoring what's going on. A lot of buzz out there on social media.

ALI VELSHI, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Absolutely. We have seen -- the one thing we've seen for the last few days since we've been monitoring very closely is that Ron Paul still exists in a much stronger way than everybody else in social media for a couple of reasons.

One is the type of supporter he attracts. The type of supporter with more libertarian supporter likes the idea of the Twitter verse or social media because they feel that it's not governed by what they call mainstream media. He's also got this younger audience that, again, is on the Internet a little bit more. But the other thing that I think we're looking at here is one of the exit polls you pointed out earlier indicates that people who like Rick Santorum still have the economy as their number one concern, not social issues.

BURNETT: Yes, I thought that was weird. And that's one actually of the things that stood out.

BORGER: Yes. Evangelicals, you know, don't only vote on one issue.

COOPER: Do you have one quick final thought -- Ari?

ARI FLEISCHER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think a couple weeks ago, we said Mitt Romney could win I Iowa, win New Hampshire. People say Republicans are in good shape. I think Republicans are in good shape. We're going to divide a primary.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm waiting for South Carolina, waiting for Florida. This -- this is just testing the waters right now, quite honestly.

COOPER: James?

JAMES CARVILLE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I've been trying to think of something. I'll give my time. I'm out of ammo. COOPER: Roland?

MARTIN: Mitt Romney does not care about expectations. All he cares about is 1145. His focus is get the delegates. Forget expectations and the rest of this stuff. Win a nomination then you deal with the general election.

COOPER: Yes, it has been a remarkable night all the way around. Our coverage continues. We're going to take a quick break. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 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 candidates who competed in the 2012 Iowa Caucuses. Thank you very much. Have a good night.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What was the turn out at the end?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The final turn out number was 122,655. Thank you, everybody.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: All right. There you heard. It's actually eight votes, John. He says that Romney is the winner by eight votes over Rick Santorum, Ron Paul third. How many total turn out, did they say?

BURNETT: They said 122, 655.

BLITZER: Hundred twenty two, it was like a 118, 119 four years ago. So, a little bit more - not much more. Certainly not close to the 220,000 or so that turned out a few years ago in the Democratic caucus.

BURNETT: Do you think though this whole issue of whether that is an energized Republican base or not? What is your view having seen so many --

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

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

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

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

CARVILLE: Well, it means that any award for investigative journalism in television, if we don't get it.

(LAUGHTER)

CARVILLE: There's no justice in the world. That's 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. I had really got there in Iowa. I can't wait for New Hampshire. Something's got to happen.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: I'm going to go out, I think New Hampshire is going to be closer than Iowa.

COOPER: Really?

KING: No.

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: South Carolina will be interesting. We still have a haul. But that's what I'm looking most for.

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

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, exponentially nastier.

COOPER: Or delicious. More delicious in James Carville's --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you don't have anything nice to say, go sit by James.

CARVILLE: Nice thing to say about Allison. Obviously, they have a weak front runner chased by some 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: And as I pointed to the point earlier, the different state that is we're about to see in the next month play a role in that. So, you talk about South Carolina, but then what happen in Nevada? What about Colorado, Minnesota, Missouri nonbinding?

So, all of those different issues come into play. And so, how do certain candidates appeal to voters in those particular areas is also going to be vital. So, again, they're going to run it out. The other point, tonight's delegates, none were played. They'll be chosen in January - I'm sorry, June. So it's not like all of the sudden you're saying, well, fine, you won the race and you won 25 delegates so you can start the clock. FLEISCHER: You know, go from here and New Hampshire, obviously where Mitt Romney is the favorite. South Carolina, Florida, key.

But then the race basically takes a big pause. You have five contests in February which actually favor Mitt Romney. You've got Maine and then three states that have a generally significant Mormon population. Mitt Romney should do well in a quiet February and then you get to march with a super Tuesday. So this still has a lot of time ahead of it and the quiet February left in front of us.

MARTIN: About seven in February. So --

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 the bottom of the screen. One hundred percent. That's what we were waiting for. One hundred percent of the precincts have now officially reported. The Iowa caucuses. And take a look at this.

Mitt Romney, you see that check. He's the winner. 30,015 votes. 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've watched this is our final number, Wolf. This is our final number for 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 that made the difference for Governor Romney tonight. If you pull out this map and you look at the breadth of this, you're seeing a lot of purple. That is Rick Santorum doing very, very well. A lot of comparisons to the Mike Huckabee. Mike Huckabee is all this orange four years ago. Rick Santorum, all of this purple this time.

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 areas 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. You come out to the east, cedar rapid rapids is in Main 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, 25 percent, 30,015 votes. We go back, four years, Governor Romney 30,021 votes, six vote difference. Twenty25 percent. The same exact percentage, 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're going to take a closer look at what this all means. We'll 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: And welcome back to our pretty remarkable tournament of events here on election night, night of the caucuses in Iowa. Mitt Romney has won. Ali Velshi is, got help him, at this Twitter wall.

VELSHI: Social media screen.

COOPER: The social media screen. But there has been --

VELSHI: There are developments. Other than -- we've been tracking how many tweets. Forget that for a minute. Edith and Carolyn, the two women. Carolyn (inaudible) who helped us solve this mystery on TV, are trending on Twitter and worldwide. Edith and Carolyn and guess what else is trending? Hash tag CNN after dark. I'm not making this up. CNN after dark is trolling.

(LAUGHTER)

VELSHI: Not that kind of CNN after dark. We've got all sorts of tweets about Edith and Carolyn. This one says I really couldn't swear. It's Lucy and Edith. This is from our Jim Spellman who spends a lot of time out there. He said Edith and Carolyn deserve their own weebles. Lots of good stuff. Piers Morgan's executive researcher Jonathan Waldis has been hanging around the studio. I think they had a show to do earlier. It didn't work out that way. Jonathan says set your calendars for the Iowa caucus baby boom in nine months.

So, the Twitter verse who joked with me, we saw the numbers decreasing on 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: I really I think the best live phone call I've ever heard. It was incredible. Wolf, back to you.

BLITZER: You know what; we're 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're good friends. They're friends of all of ours right now. We're going to talk to them. I hope they didn't go back to sleep. What do you think?

BURNETT: I just think it was a great moment in America that it shows that people around the world are watching right now. You're looking at all of these countries with democracy in question. And you look at the greatest democracy in the world and you will be like this. Still comes down to people counting things and caring so passionately about getting it right. Most women did their work.

BORGER: Point that out. Are most women offended to hear it? Because they mean every single -- I wrote them down as she did it. 437, Romney. 292, Paul --

(LAUGHTER)

BLITZER: They knew all of the numbers.

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

BLITZER: You know what I drew from this, just coincidentally, when I 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 win it is Iowa caucus. Not by much, but he wins.

MORGAN: I come back to a win is a win. If you're Mitt Romney and three weeks ago you were told you were going to win in Iowa, you would have been absolutely thrilled. Because in your head, you're thinking I'll be second or third. He's won the first one. But provided the second.

BLITZER: We have got great news. Anderson, get ready. Come over here. Anderson, please. We want you to join in this conversation because, guess what, joining us now on the phone, Edith and Carolyn.

(APPLAUSE)

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?

EDITH (via telephone): I am just overwhelmed with all of this. Overwhelmed.

BLITZER: You're happy.

EDITH: I am very happy with what's happened here. But I am just 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's been kind of interesting to this point.

(LAUGHTER)

BLITZER: Very interesting. All right, let's get the reaction from Carolyn. How do you feel about this, Carolyn? You were huge in solving this greatness? (LAUGHTER)

CAROLYN (via telephone): 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 one?

CAROLYN: It was my cell phone.

BLITZER: Your cell phone. Anderson, talk to these ladies. They want to hear from you.

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

CAROLYN: Not so good. I just have 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 caucuses is Mitt Romney? Edith, first to you. Edith? Are you gone?

EDITH: I am happy that it's won. As county chairman, did not take a stand as to who I voted for this evening. And I did not share that. Our central committee decided that we would remain neutral and 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 with us how you feel.

CAROLYN: Well, I had the same obligation as a central committee member and 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?

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

KING: I asked because I got an e-mail from a veteran Iowa Republican activist. And of course, Iowans are up all night watching this tonight. Here's what they say about you. We know them well. Everyone loves Carolyn and fears Edith.

(LAUGHTER)

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

(LAUGHTER)

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

GERGEN: May I ask you how --

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

EDITH: Yes, we have.

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

GERGEN: Thank you both, very, very much. I'm just curious about how people in Iowa are going to feel how close this has been. This has been the closest outcome we've ever had in the Iowa primary. And, in fact, a lot of research suggests it's the closest that's been seen in any primary or caucus over the last 20 years. How should -- the media is going to spend a lot of time trying to interpret this. How do you interpret what's going on? It's been absolutely fascinating.

CAROLYN: I don't know.

EDITH: I don't know if 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're going to perceive this. Do you, Carolyn?

BLITZER: Carolyn?

CAROLYN: I just wanted Iowa to look good tonight. I wanted good participation. I wanted whomever we voted for to go forward. And, God, I just want them to beat President Obama, whomever that person is going to be.

BORGER: Edith, this is Gloria Borger here.

CAROLYN: We will work for either candidate.

BORGER: OK. I want to ask you about turn out because our numbers show that there weren't that many more this time than there were in the 2 008. There were about 122,000 this time. Does that -- do you consider that successful? EDITH: 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?

EDITH: 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 in into. Like they expected us to go to Davenport and didn't realize that Clinton 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 Barnstead (ph) eluded earlier to this in the 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. I just wondered, do either of you have an agent?

(LAUGHTER)

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

(LAUGHTER)

EDITH: It's been kind of fun. It's good to be a part of history.

BLITZER: Certainly is.

EDITH: Thank you very much.

BLITZER: Yes, Edith and Carolyn, get some sleep. You guys are going to be busy. There's a picture. Are you guys watching TV right now?

EDITH: Not right now.

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

EDITH: Well, we're in a different room right now.

BLITZER: Edith is right in the middle of our screen. There's a picture of Edith. You got there with the Governor Terry Barnstead (ph). You've done amazing work. All of us are very 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 the whole world has been watching here on CNN. They've 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. We can't make this anymore.

COOPER: It is what makes this country so amazing.

BLITZER: Yes, get a good night's sleep, ladies. We'll speak tomorrow and 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 for Mitt Romney. Rick Santorum, 30,007 votes. 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.