Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

Election Day Coverage; Rahm Emanuel Interviewed

Aired November 6, 2012 - 15:00   ET

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


ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: All right, thanks for watching. I will be back here from ground zero, the Statehouse in Columbus, Ohio, at 6:00. See you then.

Right now, A.C. 360 starts.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Erin, thanks.

Good afternoon, everybody. Welcome to a special 360 Election Day coverage.

And an awful lot happening right this minute, Mitt Romney arriving right now in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His plane just landing on the tarmac there, fresh from another campaign stop in Cleveland. The challenger voted this morning in Massachusetts, then headed straight for the airport. He connected with running mate Paul Ryan in Cleveland.

Ohio, of course, the big prize, Pennsylvania, a GOP long shot, but tightening in the final days. The question, will Election Day campaigning make a difference?

Vice President Joe Biden expected in Chicago in this hour. He will be there to watch the returns come in with President Obama and see whether the voters have decided to rehire them for another term. Before he did, the vice president made a surprise stop in Cleveland and as you saw, Congressman Ryan was also there. Made for something of a traffic jam on the tarmac. Take a look.

Want to show you Mitt Romney's plane on the left. Paul Ryan's plane will be on the right of our screen, if we get it up there. And then in the background, there is Air Force Two as well, if you can see, all about Ohio getting every vote possible, especially there. That, the last-minute campaigning, the long lines at a lot of polling places, the record money spent, the legal challenges already brewing.

There's a lot of lawyers circling around today. All sides know this one could be close.

Want to bring in our mega-political panel, first the partisans, Ari Republicans Fleischer and Alex Castellanos. Ari is an occasional unpaid communications adviser to the Romney campaign. Alex is a Republican consultant. On the left, Paul Begala, who is a senior adviser to the leading pro-Obama super PAC, and Dee Dee Myers, former press secretary for President Clinton and managing director for the Glover Park Group. Also with us, the nonpartisans, chief national correspondent John King, political analyst Gloria Borger and somewhere momentarily will be our David Gergen.

So what are you looking for? Let's talk to the partisans first.

ARI FLEISCHER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, it will all come down to did President Obama get his base out, which mean black votes, voters between the ages of 18 and 29 and did Republicans get their base out, which is really going to be senior citizens and white voters? That's what it is going to come down to. We all know the key states. And now it is up to the campaigns. Did they deliver?

COOPER: Paul, we have seen what seems to be a kind of enthusiasm drop-off among young people for President Obama. How much does that concern you?

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It is an enormous concern, probably the single biggest concern I have as an Obama supporter. He won the youth vote, 18-29-year-olds, by 34 points and they were 18 percent of the total electorate in the last election. Both of those numbers frankly if you look at the polling look like they may be going down.

The question is, can he, the president, can he motivate the young people, get them out to vote? As a Democrat, I hope he can. At the same, it looks like they're got a little insurance policy. They're doing better with Latinos even than they did last time and they're doing significantly better with senior citizens, believe it or not.

The last poll that I looked at, which was yesterday, tied among seniors. And he lost seniors by eight points last time. There's a bit of an insurance policy, if he trend downs a little bit with young people. He's trending up a little bit with seniors.

COOPER: Dee Dee, does it make you nervous that President Obama is not out there? He's doing some satellite TV tours in local markets. But you have Mitt Romney is out there aggressively, you have Paul Ryan out there, and they have now sent Joe Biden out there. Should President Obama be out there kind of showing that he's this to win it?

DEE DEE MYERS, FORMER CLINTON WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: In all honesty, I would have preferred to see him out there. I think it is one last opportunity for the voters to see you, to listen to you and to know how badly you want to be their president again. I think you have got to keep asking for that vote every single day.

I think it is helpful the vice president went to Ohio, but I would have preferred to see the president out there.

COOPER: John, what will you be looking for?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I will go this way and show you. I will go all the way over here, because the polls close early in the East. And we know that the president has more room if you will, more wiggle room in his path to 270. He can afford to lose a few states. He would prefer not to. The Obama campaign, for example, says, we think we can win Florida. But he doesn't have to. They say we can win Colorado, he doesn't have to. The map, you see this is today's map, it is gray because we haven't filled anything in yet.

But let's go back to 2008 to show you why this matters. Here is what happened last time. President Obama winning a convincing electoral victory. But I don't think we will have a map with this much of a blowout tonight. I think everybody can agree on that. We will have a much more competitive election.

And guess what? We're going to know pretty early on, because Virginia closes early. Virginia is among the early states in the East Coast. The president would like to win this state, and his campaign thinks they can win this state. Governor Romney has to win this state.

Early on, you are going to watch the results come in and you're going to watch closely here up in the suburbs, just outside of Washington, D.C.. We're right here at the moment, and if you look at these suburbs here, Governor Romney was in Fairfax County yesterday, almost 14 percent of the state population. It was a blowout for President Obama, then Senator Obama over John McCain four years ago.

I don't think Governor Romney can win Fairfax County, and he doesn't have to win Fairfax County. He has to be a lot closer than that. Where you want to see -- if this is blue or red tonight, this is Prince William County. You're starting to move out from the suburbs into the exurbs, if you will, suburbs here, exurbs out here.

This is traditionally Republican territory. Look what happened, 58-42 four years ago. Mitt Romney has to be competitive here. Does he have to win it to carry Virginia? Maybe not if he gets a big conservative turnout elsewhere, but he has to be a lot closer than that. Let me show you why I say that.

If you go back to 2004, George W. Bush carries Virginia, and he carries it 53-46 over John Kerry. He does he do it? He much better in the close-in suburbs. This is where the population growth is in the state of Virginia. Paul talks about young people. A lot of them live here, college students. Paul talks part of the Obama coalition college-educated women, a lot of them right here.

The suburbs used to be Republican territory. It's not just Virginia. Mitt Romney needs Virginia to win. But if he's performing well in the suburbs here, then it is a reasonable stretch to think that he's going to perform well in the suburbs outside of Cleveland and Columbus and Cincinnati and in the suburbs outside of Denver out in Colorado.

The Virginia suburbs will give us the first hint of one of the battlegrounds within the battlegrounds, if you will.

COOPER: John, stay over there by the map. Because I want you to join in the next conversation.

You're looking by the way on the right of the screen at Pittsburgh, Governor Romney just touching down. We're anticipating a Romney event there, and we will bring that to you. Also, Vice President Biden is out on the trail today. President Obama as we mentioned will watch the returns at home tonight in Chicago. Earlier today, he made a brief unscheduled stop at a local campaign office in his neighborhood, Hyde Park, where he pitched in calling potential voters, including this call to a woman named Hattie in neighboring Wisconsin.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Hi. Is this Hattie?

Hi. This is Barack Obama. How are you?

(LAUGHTER)

OBAMA: I'm doing -- you know -- I don't think she knows it's me.

(LAUGHTER)

OBAMA: My name was Barack Obama, you know, the president of the United States?

Yes, how are you?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

COOPER: Imagine getting that call. He later congratulated Governor Romney for running a spirited race, thanking his staffers for their hard work.

President Obama's field operation last time around was legendary. He's counting on it again today.

Joining me now, a man who is well-acquainted with presidential local politics, Chicago Mayor, former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.

Mr. Mayor, appreciate you being with us.

John King will join in shortly too.

Mayor, last night, Stephanie Cutter admitted on this program that Pennsylvania has tightened. That was her word. You were saying a few days ago that you thought the state was secure, but the campaign shouldn't take anything for granted. Do you believe there is any chance at all the president might not win there today?

RAHM EMANUEL (D), MAYOR OF CHICAGO: No.

COOPER: Well, OK.

EMANUEL: That simple.

No, I mean, I will extrapolate, but you just asked me and the simple answer is no. Do I think it tightened? That's what happens in elections, but I think Pennsylvania is a secure enough position. The president is going to win Pennsylvania.

COOPER: The campaign has been saying the president isn't going to a place like Cleveland today, like Romney and Ryan are, because he has better uses for his time. He's doing sort of a local media tour. They said Election Day events in general smack of desperation.

Now we have the vice president in Cleveland as well. Are his campaign day stops out of desperation as well?

EMANUEL: I think that is basically an insurance policy, and it's the right thing to do from that perspective.

But the president is doing what I think is appropriate, which is he's making phone calls into Wisconsin, as you just had on your show. And I do think, at a certain point, you know, this is up to the voters. You have made your argument, which is, I think in the president's case, why he's been a defender on behalf of the middle class and the decisions going forward, how he will strengthen an economy by strengthening the middle class.

At a certain point, and $6 billion later, this is their day, they will make the decision. He has to be confident he's made the best argument about the clear choices between the type of policies that President Obama wants himself and the type of policies that Mitt Romney has advocated and has shown, whether it on the auto industry, where they had clear differences, whether it's in getting bin Laden, clear differences and those choices have been clear, they have been well- versed for the public.

And now it is up to the public to as they are in all the lines you're seeing across America voting.

COOPER: We were talking to Paul Begala and Dee Dee Myers. A lot of them were saying they kind of would like to see their candidate out there up until the last minute. You know, you have been there in the trenches, and would you prefer your candidate out there?

EMANUEL: Look, I think, first of all, I think -- and Paul and Dee Dee are friends.

The difference is, the reason Governor Romney is doing what he's doing is because he's looking for any opening because of -- given the effort the president has put both in Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa and the other places and nonetheless he's making phone calls.

There is a difference between the need to do it and the insurance policy to do it. Both motivations are not the same. I'm very comfortable from the campaign's perspective that the vice president is out there and the president is making phone calls from here in Chicago.

I think Mitt Romney has to go to Pennsylvania because Ohio is not working the way it has. You have to go back and reason, why is he doing that? And the reason is just for one more effort. It is because the avenues for an electoral map to victory are not where they were six days ago or six weeks ago. That's why he's trying to look for an opening because the president has done an effective job making clear the choices between Mitt Romney's policies and throwing in the towel on the auto industry, vs. the president's policies of what it means to stand by them and help a state like Ohio that had a 10 percent unemployment when he walked in on day one and a 7 percent unemployment today, which is 150,000 jobs in Ohio.

That's the choice that Ohio will make and that case has been made clearly to the people of Ohio.

COOPER: And you see Governor Romney there in Pittsburgh.

I want to bring in John King -- John.

KING: Mr. Mayor, it's good to see you.

It not your first rodeo. You have mentioned this several times. I'm holding Ohio on our map, 18 electoral votes. If the president wins Ohio by let's say 10,000, 15,000 votes tonight, which would be a very close election in a big state like that, you are in the room at the time, do you have any doubt if he wins a close election in Ohio tonight and that is the key to reelection, it will be because the auto bailout?

EMANUEL: Well, one out of eight in Ohio are related to the auto industry.

No other state outside of Michigan is that affected by one decision. When you look at the -- if he wins by 15,000, without going county by county with you, John, it means that he has done well beyond his base coalition. He's expanded his coalition.

That means autoworkers who know directly the decision he made and the decision Mitt Romney made. If Mitt Romney was in the Oval Office, he would have thrown the towel in on 1.2 million manufacturing jobs in the industrial base of America. The president, even when his advisers said this is maybe at best a one-in-five choice, went all in and it has turned out to be the right decision and Ohio, Michigan.

I can say this as a mayor of the city of Chicago with a Ford auto plant on the South Side that added a third shift, 1,200 jobs. That decision directly resulted in the auto industry not only being safe, but auto industry adding jobs and suppliers adding jobs.

And the two individuals, President Obama and Mitt Romney, clear differences, and Ohio is a clear beneficiary with 150,000 net jobs in the last four years because of the decision President Obama made. And if it had gone the other way with Mitt Romney, which is where conventional wisdom was at the time, there would not be those jobs in Ohio. And Ohio not only would not be in that place. If Mitt Romney hadn't written the op-ed, who knows.

That op-ed where he was clear in his views, let it go bankrupt, was throwing in the towel on Toledo, Akron, Youngstown, Cleveland suburbs. Very about his position and the consequences thereof.

COOPER: Mayor Emanuel, appreciate your time. Thank you very much.

EMANUEL: Thank you.

COOPER: Let us know what you think. Follow me on Twitter @AndersonCooper. I will be tweeting throughout the hour.

As we wait for Mitt Romney to get to his final campaign event, we're going to take a quick break and come back and speak with a senior campaign adviser for the Romney campaign about the governor's chances in Pennsylvania and nationwide tonight.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Governor Romney is heading to his campaign appearance in Pittsburgh. We anticipate bringing that to you.

Jim Acosta is there. He joins us now by phone -- Jim.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Anderson. That's right.

We just landed in Pittsburgh a few moments ago. And as you just mentioned, Mitt Romney climbed off of his plane. We saw something that was pretty extraordinary, something we haven't seen all day today. There were a couple thousand of his supporters standing on the parking garage, just across the tarmac from where his plane is sitting and they were all screaming and cheering as he came down the plane.

And then Mitt Romney, who for some time tends to stay away from those kind of impromptu moments, he decided to walk over to the security fence and he was waving to all of those cheering supporters. One of those poignant moments you see at the end of a campaign and that's what certainly we saw here, Anderson.

Right Now, Mitt Romney, is en route to what we believe to be a volunteer center where they make calls to supporters in the Pennsylvania area. He did that earlier today when he was in the Cleveland, Ohio, area. You mentioned the three campaign planes, well, I guess two campaign planes and one plane that belongs to taxpayer of the United States that were parked on the runway, including when we were there for that. That was quite a sight to behold.

But make no mistake, Mitt Romney is in Pennsylvania now as sort of a contingency plan in case all things fail in Ohio. If he doesn't win Ohio, as John King and others have mentioned, he's got to pick up some states elsewhere. And Pennsylvania, it just started to show up on their map as the clock was ticking down towards Election Day, and they started to see the race tightening in Pennsylvania. It was not widely acknowledged to be a battleground play for this campaign, but they're making that play today -- Anderson.

COOPER: Jim Acosta reporting from the Romney campaign. Jim, appreciate that.

Mitt Romney is trying to make sure that come tomorrow there are no regrets about any missed opportunities.

Former Missouri Senator Jim Talent is a senior Romney campaign adviser and he joins us now. And John King will is going to in.

Senator, thanks for being with us.

Romney and Congressman Ryan are making several campaign stops. Those events are big efforts. They tie up resources, staff time. The president is doing these satellite interviews with stations, and he's doing phone calls in more than half a dozen swing states instead. Would that have been a better use of the governor's time? What is the idea of getting him out there?

JIM TALENT (R), FORMER U.S. SENATOR: Well, I think the enthusiasm of a rally, you know, the local press coverage you get, the way it encourages your workers, it is a powerful way of campaigning.

I always enjoyed it. And this is the last day, so get out there and see people and encourage them to get to the polls and work to get other people to the polls.

COOPER: The Romney campaign, Senator, says this late play for Pennsylvania, that it is a sign of confidence. As you know, the Obama campaign is saying it is a sign of desperation, that a Pennsylvania win is the only way the map math works for the governor.

Your response?

TALENT: I think there is a lot of ways this map works.

We have got a lot of momentum. People know the choice. We can go on the way we have been going, 23 million unemployed or underemployed, median family income down, or we can vote for a real recovery. We feel like we got a lot of momentum and there are states that we can win that a month ago we didn't think we could, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania probably at the top of that list.

COOPER: John King is at the map right now. Let's check in with him -- John.

KING: Senator, it is a very close election. But many would argue why isn't Governor Romney the leader, not the underdog, given the persistent high unemployment?

I want to ask you a question about demographics in the country. The last Republican to win reelection was George W. Bush. Nevada's six electoral votes, most people think tonight will go President Obama's way. If Colorado is very close, if it goes the president's way, it could be in part because of the Latino vote.

And you can come over. I can tell you, look at Virginia, much smaller population, in Ohio, significant down in the state of Florida, 29 electoral votes. If Mitt Romney comes up just short, George W. Bush got four in 10 Latino votes. The polls suggest to us Governor Romney will be lucky to get 30 percent, and he maybe only get 25 percent or 26 percent. What does the party have to do to -- or will it risk being a non- national-viable party if it can't appeal to Latinos in greater numbers?

TALENT: Well, we will see who is viable, of course, John, after tonight.

The good news about Election Day is that you see the poll that really counts. What we need to do is what Governor Romney has been doing, which is have a message that appeals across sections of the country, you know, across people of different backgrounds, which is a message that we can have a real recovery, we can solve these budget problems, we can reassert a confidence abroad. These are themes that appeal to everybody.

(CROSSTALK)

KING: But does it need a different tone? Does the party need a different tone, if not a different policy on immigration?

TALENT: Well, we need to reach out to everybody across a broad range of issues.

Governor Romney's immigration policy, big believer in robust legal immigration, wants border security, wants to make certain that employers have a system where we know that they're hiring people who are lawfully entitled to work in the United States. I think those are positions that reach across everybody as well.

COOPER: Senator Talent, I appreciate your time today. Thanks very much.

TALENT: Thank you, guys.

COOPER: CNN's Dan Lothian joins me now -- ahead from the Obama headquarters in Chicago.

President Obama has returned to his hometown to wait for the election results to start coming in. This is a live shot of the headquarters you're looking at there, starting to fill up, a long night ahead for both campaigns, for everyone involved.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Hey. Welcome back to Election Day in America.

There are already problems being reported in a couple of states. In Pennsylvania, the secretary of state confirmed that an electronic voting machine in Perry County malfunctioned, shown in a video that went viral on YouTube that showed a voter appearing to cast a vote for President Obama, while the machine automatically selected Romney.

A spokesman told CNN the machine was taken offline, recalibrated, is now back in service and working fine. We're also told there have been no more complaints.

Want to bring back our panel, Ari Fleischer, Alex Castellanos, Paul Begala, Dee Dee Myers, David Gergen, Gloria Borger, and Candy Crowley.

Gloria, David, what are you looking for tonight?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I'm looking for things everyone has talked about. Obviously, the race issue is very important.

If there are more white voters this time, that's good for Mitt Romney. I'm looking for gender. We always say that Mitt Romney has a large gender gap with women. But he does very well with men. So we're going to have to see how that balances out.

So those are -- and younger voters, as Paul was talking about earlier, very, very important to the president if he is going to win reelection. It gives us a sense of how divided this country is because we could in the end see a country that is divided on race, you know, on gender, and by age.

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. I'm looking for the turnout. Paul mentioned young people and Gloria talked about whites vs. minorities. Both those are very important.

But I'm also very curious about what is happening today. There are long, long lines we're hearing about around the country, waits of three hours, of six hours. Where are those occurring? And who does that help? What do we read out of that?

I'm not sure I know right now because I don't know where they're occurring. And I'm also looking to hear when the exit polls come out about when people made up their minds. We will have a lot of interpretation. If we hear people, a lot of people made up their minds in the last 10 days or so, and they went for Obama, as there are some indications they are, you can easily read into that a hurricane bump. I think that's important.

We want to know, at the end of the day, are the voters sending a message as well as a person back to the White House? Is there a message here?

COOPER: Do you think it is a mistake, Ari or Alex, for President Obama not to be out on the trail?

ALEX CASTELLANOS, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: If you don't want the job, you don't get the job. And we want our president to serve us.

(LAUGHTER)

CASTELLANOS: That's really very important.

But the other big thing I think to look for tonight, Anderson, is, has America changed? Barack Obama found a new coalition last election. Younger people, more ethnic, younger women. He said that's the future. The country will be more that way. That's his bet tonight, they're still there, they're coming out. Republicans, we see that future too. We haven't adapted to it. We haven't changed our message to talk to them. We're betting on the old coalition, the silent majority, a bunch of especially older white men who think, we're losing the country, something awful is happening, and this country will be less than it was.

We think there is so much intensity there that this will be very much like 2010, when Republicans took Congress. So, silent majority against the new coalition tonight.

COOPER: To the question that John King asked the senator, for Romney, how does the Republican Party try to win back Latino voters?

CASTELLANOS: (SPEAKING SPANISH)

(LAUGHTER)

CASTELLANOS: Maybe there is a way.

Look, I think we need a message of growth and optimism. When Hispanics come to this country, they come here for opportunity. They share a lot of Republican values, strong families, Catholics. But the Republican Party needs to be a party of open arms and opportunity. Optimistic Republicans get the Hispanic vote.

(CROSSTALK)

CASTELLANOS: Pessimistic, divisive Republicans don't.

(CROSSTALK)

BORGER: But that is not what people saw during the primaries. That is a real problem for Mitt Romney, because what they saw was Mitt Romney moving to his right on immigration, so he was able to win these primaries and become the nominee.

And people watched that and I think that in the end will hurt Mitt Romney, hurt the Republican Party. And whether Mitt Romney wins or loses, there is going to be kind of a civil war, I hate to say it, in the Republican Party.

(CROSSTALK)

GERGEN: But it is going to grow, it is going to grow.

And there's no question I think to go back Gloria's point that immigration is now the chicken bone in the throat of the Republican Party. And until they get -- deal with that, they can't bite, they can't swallow anything else. So I am actually quite optimistic now, in the next term, whoever is elected, we will get immigration reform. Democrats want it and Republicans now need it.

CASTELLANOS: That's a lot easier problem to solve than an economy...

(CROSSTALK) FLEISCHER: There are other big trends in politics. And we're right to look at the black trend and we're right to look at the Hispanic trend and the troublesome trends for Republicans.

But America is also becoming a more conservative country. In 1980, when Ronald Reagan ran, in a much whiter America, 28 percent of Americans called themselves conservatives. Today, 34 percent of America call themselves conservative.

Reapportionment is also moving in the Republican direction. If John McCain states were won just this year again by Mitt Romney, that's an additional six to seven electoral votes for Mitt Romney because people have moved into Texas.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: How do you see America becoming more conservative, though? Do you mean socially, do you mean economically?

(CROSSTALK)

FLEISCHER: Self-identification. We will see it on the polls tonight.

(CROSSTALK)

FLEISCHER: My point is, we tend to focus just on blacks and Hispanics. The American electorate is a stew, a lot of different factors. They're not only going in one direction.

(CROSSTALK)

MYERS: ... is that particular -- both sides have really tried to get people to vote their fears and not their hopes. Right?

That drives down turnout in certain communities. If -- in the long term the Republican Party in particular will have to find a way not to try to reduce the number of people voting, not to try to make them afraid of the future, not to try to make them afraid of what is happening in the country. And it will be interesting to see how both parties handle...

(CROSSTALK)

FLEISCHER: Let's say Mitt Romney wins and then he is running for reelection. And let's just it is a roaring economy. I think we will have a lot less conversations here about the slices of the electorate, because those slices are going to benefit from a big roaring economy. That's the biggest factor.

(CROSSTALK)

CASTELLANOS: Just real briefly, how simple this is, instead of Republicans getting into the trap that says, more for one group is less for the other group, Republicans have succeeded when they have said more for everybody. Let's move to a better place.

GERGEN: Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: We have got to wrap it up.

(CROSSTALK)

CASTELLANOS: Barack Obama has run the opposite campaign.

COOPER: Paul, and then we have got to go.

BEGALA: The problem that the Democrats have this is over white, working-class people and, so, I want to take that on and you saw the first thing Mayor Emanuel said.

You could've asked him, how is the weather? Well, the weather's better because of the auto bailout, right? He got right to that.

As he was speaking, as if our side had its act together, the AFL-CIO sent me a poll that they just got back last night. In Ohio, they're showing the president five points higher among union members in Ohio than in '08, which was a very enthusiastic year.

He's improved his lot in Ohio among union working people who, my guess is, is exactly those white, working-class people Mayor Emanuel was talking about.

COOPER: We're waiting to hear from Mitt Romney in Pittsburgh, as well as a number of other live, last-minute events, campaign events. More coverage when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: New pictures just in of Mitt Romney greeting supporters at Pittsburgh International Airport. We saw them and, when a reporter asked of what he thought of the greeting party, the governor said, quote, "That's when you know you're going to win."

(INAUDIBLE) talking to some of the people greeting him at the airport.

Right now, there's nothing to do but wait and watch. It's been a long costly road to this day, the most expensive presidential election in U.S. history.

White House correspondent Dan Lothian has been covering the Obama campaign for us. He joins me now from Chicago. Candy Crowley is at Romney headquarters in Boston.

Dan, what are you hearing today?

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Anderson, there is a sense of optimism inside the Obama campaign, not only from the president himself but with top officials.

I was talking to one senior official inside the campaign who says that he feels very good about how this election will be decided tonight, but they're not letting up on that ground game.

You saw the president earlier today working the phones, encouraging volunteers in the key battleground states.

And a short time ago, I did receive an e-mail from a senior campaign official listing all the different efforts by various groups, Hispanics, young people, veterans, seniors, in these key battleground states, what they're doing to get out the vote.

Some are giving rides to people. Others are working the phones or knocking on the doors.

This is a close race, they're very optimistic, but they believe that this race will be decided on getting people out to the polls, Anderson.

COOPER: And, Candy, what are you hearing from the campaign?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it shouldn't be too surprising to anybody that at this point when you talk to top advisers in the Romney campaign, as you did in the Obama campaign, they're bullish about what's going on.

They'll say, we're seeing heavy turnout in our -- in the places -- our places, so, running up the vote in Romney-friendly places.

Someone told me they feel great about Ohio. Somebody else said, when they look around, the early -- let's see. I'm trying to remember this quote. The early signs are good, quote, but it's early, so this is not a time that these campaigns are going to begin to back off and go, uh-oh, we're in trouble here. We're in trouble there.

People are out there voting. The minute you show any sign that somehow something might be wrong or you're beginning to lose here or there is when you start to affect votes elsewhere.

And, as we all know, the polls stay open in California and the West -- in -- or the West and California for a long time, so right now, still very bullish here in the Romney campaign.

COOPER: Dan, what we've seen, you know, Mitt Romney out there and even Joe Biden is out there on the campaign trail. President Obama, who we saw making a couple of calls and greeting campaign workers, there's a lot of superstitions that the Obama campaign has on what they should do on election day. Explain what they're doing.

LOTHIAN: That's right. Well, you know, the president always played basketball before big elections. He did not play in 2008 before New Hampshire and he lost, so they're very superstitious.

So, they -- Robert Gibbs told me yesterday, we weren't going to repeat that mistake again this time. So, Reggie Love, the president's former body man, put together a basketball game. They went to a local rec center here in Chicago. Arne Duncan, the president's secretary of education, joined in along with others to play the game. It's not one of these technical things that you can tie to election results, but they very much believe in it, so the president playing basketball, hoping that it will have an impact on the race.

COOPER: Interesting. Dan, Candy, thanks very much.

In Florida, the sun is shining, the lines are long, the race is tight and the stakes are high.

The last Democrat to win the White House without winning Florida, Bill Clinton, in 1992. The last Republican? Warren Harding, 1924.

We'll take you to Florida and gauge the mood there, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: And welcome back. Election day in America, you're looking at a live picture of the Empire State Building which New Yorkers will be able to look at tonight to track the election.

As CNN projects winners in each state, the meter on the spire will turn blue for President Obama, red for Mitt Romney. When CNN projects an overall winner, the full spire in upper floors will turn either blue or red.

More New York voting in a moment, but first, let's talk about Florida, expected to obviously be a close race there, 29 electoral votes at stake. Voters in the Sunshine State, they have been waiting in long lines starting early this morning.

Ashleigh Banfield is in Miami. She joins us now. Ashleigh, you've been at the polling place since around 5:00 a.m. There've been -- how long has the wait been for people?

ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, let's just say I've been here since 4:00 a.m. because that extra hour really matters and an extra hour matters a lot to these people.

Some people have been waiting in line for upwards of four hours before they finally finish voting. I'm at the corner, so let me just take you down the street. Maybe you can see the end of the line down there, Anderson.

And then you can see some of the Romney/Ryan campaign workers who are just over here. If you swing over here, they're fine where they are, but if they were to cross this line and go into that grassy area, that's within the 100 feet, so they can't go in there.

And we can't either. So let me take you on a tour of the line, just so you see how much longer these folks are going to have to wait until they get to cast their ballot.

And let me tell you, in the meantime, these lines that we have been showing you on TV all day on CNN caught the interest of the Romney campaign because a lawyer for the Romney campaign showed up several hours ago and a poll watcher for the Romney campaign showed up a few hours ago, as well.

They were concerned at how long it was taking. This is a predominantly Hispanic community and Cuban and, also, Republican community, so they were very concerned that everything was going smoothly.

They both reported to me they feel like it was going smoothly. Ballots were good. There was one machine that was kind of -- the optical scanner that was jamming up a little bit, but it didn't seem to be causing too bad of a bottleneck.

Excuse me. How long have you been waiting?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For exactly two hours.

BANFIELD: Exactly two hours? Well, you're about a half hour from being able to vote.

This is the kind of thing we have been hearing all day long, but many people who got to this front part before they get into the actual polling place, which is the fire station, had been waiting three hours.

One other thing I hate to tell you about. Seven hundred absentee ballots in Broward County, Anderson, tossed out. Apparently, they weren't signed, something that happens often, but it is problematic.

COOPER: Interesting there. Also, the ballot's about 12 pages long, I think, there in Florida. Ashleigh, thanks.

It is an unusual election day in New York where a lot of people are still dealing with the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, of course. Governor Andrew Cuomo signed an order that lets New Yorkers who are displaced by the storm vote at any polling site in the state.

Deb Feyerick joins us now in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, with the latest on that. The polling place you're at, it's also a school serving as a shelter for people displaced by the storm. What is it like there?

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, that's what's pretty amazing down here.

Just for our viewers, we have to tell you that this is Fort Greene, Brooklyn. This is where Spike Lee has an office, really just down the block, but this is something you don't see very often, New York City shelter and then just a little down here, vote here.

People going in, the lines began about three hours. They're now down to an hour. One man joked, well, it's better than the gas lines and, of course, he was referring to Hurricane Sandy.

It has been more chaotic than usual. That's according to a number of voters who we spoke with earlier.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was exhausting. I almost left a couple of times even though I really want to vote and it's super important. I didn't feel the spirit while in there just because it was a little bit disorganized.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Two hours, ten minutes, yes. It took a long time, but everybody is waiting, everyone is in a good mood and we got it done.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You've just got to be really patient. And I'm working on this patience thing, but I'm going to stick it out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FEYERICK: Yeah, and, Anderson, patience for the voters, patience for the evacuees because we spoke to a couple. Now, they said that they've been sleeping in classrooms, they're running out of clothing, they're running out of money and now they're being told that they're actually going to have to relocate elsewhere.

So, very frustrating to have a shelter, to have a voting place just really shows what many New Yorkers are dealing with, Anderson.

COOPER: Yeah. All right, Deb Feyerick, appreciate it.

Whether it's New York, Florida or Ohio, beyond election day often gives way to legal battles. We're going to have more on that possibility with our Jeffrey Toobin.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: But will the results in Ohio or anywhere else have to be decided in court? That, of course, is what everyone is wondering in Florida. In 2000, it was the hanging chads.

Now, we're getting to know a lot about provisional ballots in Ohio. You can be sure this time around the lawyers are ready, thousands of them, in fact, according to CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin. He joins me now, live.

Obviously, a lot of uncertainty about what the final margin will look like in Ohio. If it is close as the polls indicated, we could get into the situation where the provisional ballots become prime targets for a legal challenge. Explain why.

JEFFREY TOOBIN: Well, this is really a bizarre set of laws in Ohio because, as you mentioned, provisional ballots, that is ballots that their legal status is uncertain, they're put aside, we know that there will be at least 200,000 of them. And under Ohio law, no one looks at those ballots to determine their validity for 10 days until November 17th.

During those 10 days, the people who cast those provisional ballots are allowed to go to the board of elections and make the case that their votes were legal, so if the provisional ballots are dispositive and if Ohio is the deciding state, we could have individual voters, each with their own lawyers, going to boards of elections, arguing their case that their votes should count.

You can imagine the chaos that might ensue.

COOPER: And that's not an abstract possibility. I mean, both campaigns, both candidates have prepared. They have lawyers ready to proceed on this.

TOOBIN: Absolutely. And, remember, you know, we -- at least 200,000 provisional ballots. The margin between McCain and Obama, four years ago, where Obama won easily, was only 260,000.

So, here, where we're expecting a much closer race, you know, you do the math,. I mean, those ballots could really determine the difference.

COOPER: Yeah. Jeff, thanks. We're going to have more with our panel ahead.

TOOBIN: We'll be watching.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Take a look at voting there in Nashua, New Hampshire. It'll be close, close in plenty of states. No one expects an early night tonight.

Back again with our panel, Ari Fleischer, Alex Castellanos, Paul Begala, Dee Dee Myers. Also, David Gergen and Gloria Borger.

What do you make of this whole provisional ballot situation in Ohio? I mean, this could be really ...

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: I think it's nuts. I think it's crazy. I mean, I think -- I talked to Republicans about it. They're upset. Democrats are upset. It's confusing.

If it's a 200,000 vote race or more or less, as it was -- last time it was, what, 250,000, something like that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two-sixty (INAUDIBLE) ...

BORGER: Two-sixty, 260,000. This could be dispositive, so it's incredibly confusing to voters.

It's a Republican secretary of state, so Democrats are going to be upset if there's a problem because they're going to assume that he's biased, you know? Katherine Harris comes to mind, right, remember with the Florida recount?

So, I expect ...

COOPER: Also, that there are four hour long lines for voting in this state. Does that make sense to you?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: No, it does not make sense to me and there's a 10-page ballot in Florida that makes no sense to me. I mean, there's a lot of irrationality in this system.

And it's hard to believe we're still dealing with irrationality.

COOPER: Right.

GERGEN: You know, after 12 years and ...

And we spent how much money? The federal government dispensed a lot of money to these states to get their acts together.

You know, I guess the rationale behind the provisional thing, the 10- day wait, is that each citizen that's got a provisional ballot is required to come up with some form of identification to get their ballot straightened out.

But I would assume that, if the whole country is waiting for 10 days on Ohio, that they'll shorten that period. There's going to be enormous pressure. Come on, guys. You can't wait 10 days.

COOPER: Does it make sense to you guys?

ARI FLEISCHER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY FOR GEORGE W. BUSH: Well, after a 36-day wait in 2000, that 10 days doesn't sound long to me.

But, you know, these things are always -- you try to learn from the last election. You say we don't want anybody to be disenfranchised for any reason whatsoever, so we lean too far in the other direction.

But you know there's still places where we do have good data and, Anderson, I've been looking at one of those places. Pasco County, Florida, is right outside Tampa-St. Pete, half-a-million people.

It's the only place that reports its actual updated voting, hour by hour by hour, so you can see who's voted as of 3:00. Here's the trend there. It's a real split county. Bush lost it by one point to Gore. McCain took it three points over Obama.

Right now, it looks like it's going about 10-points for the Republican. I'm hearing this type of thing out of people in Florida, but this is the one county. You can go to PascoVotes.com and actually track how the Ds, the Rs and the Is are voting, hour by hour, and get the latest.

BORGER: Why don't we do that everywhere? Why isn't that ...

FLEISHER: It's the only county I know everywhere -- anywhere -- that has this kind of just electronic data available to everybody.

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, it's embarrassing. I mean, I actually do campaigns all around the world. I did a campaign in Brazil a few years ago. Brazil, which is a developing country, but we like to think maybe that America has more sophisticated systems in some way.

Their voting system is so much better than ours, it would embarrass you. You go down there. It's verifiable. It's instant. And you see these disparities and this is what both sides will complain about.

OK, if it's a predominantly Democratic neighborhood and there's a Republican election official and there aren't enough boxes, it might not be partisan, but you bet those voters are going to think it was and vice versa.

DEE DEE MYERS, MANAGING DIRECTOR, THE GLOVER PARK GROUP: But some of it is partisan. I mean, some of the problem is people trying to game the system, create rules that will favor one side over the other by a little bit or a lot, and that's why we're seeing -- that's why it evolves and why every election cycle has a different problem is people trying to target rules to maximize results.

CASTELLANOS: Another good argument for smaller government.

MYERS: It's an argument for smaller government?

GERGEN: It's an argument for federalizing.

CASTELLANOS: American Express can keep up with things a lot better, I think, sometimes, than we can.

GERGEN: We should turn over voting to the private sector? Come one.

CASTELLANOS: I would urge that we not go to any kind of a system that lets us stare at our own navels while we all vote, so that, what's my neighbor doing? What's happening over here?

There's some premium on letting people go make up their own minds.

GERGEN: But they should not have to stand in line four hours. They shouldn't have to stand in line four hours.

BORGER: But we're pushing in that direction because there's no such thing as election day anymore because we've seen early voting.

I mean, last election ...

FLEISCHER: (Inaudible) Colorado (inaudible) ...

BORDER: Yeah, last time, what, 16 million people voted early?

CASTELLANOS: Let's reduce the herd effect. Let's reduce the effect of here's what everybody else is doing, so you know, watch it real- time.

I think sometimes the surveys have that kind of effect. You know, all the wildebeest want to go to the watering hole that the other wildebeest are at. Oh, that must be the safe watering hole there.

There is a herd effect in politics and we really want that, I think, as a democracy. We want people to make up their own minds.

BORGER: Well, that's what the candidates are doing out there today. They want the herd effect, right?

COOPER: That's it for this special election edition of "360."

Our election day coverage continues with Wolf Blitzer after a short break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)