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THE SITUATION ROOM
What's Behind Florida's Election Fumble; Interview With Mayor Rahm Emanuel
Aired November 7, 2012 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And you're in the SITUATION ROOM. Happening now, President Obama wins big without needing even the biggest battleground state.
After voters waited for hours well into the night, ballots are still being counted in Florida. Right now, we're learning right now what's behind the election fumble.
Also, Republicans face a new reality, the changing face of America. Older White males went for Mitt Romney. The president captured just about every other group.
And just over a week after Sandy devastated the northeast, a powerful new storm brings more misery to the hardest hit areas.
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in the SITUATION ROOM.
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BLITZER: President Obama's due back in Washington in the next hour, a triumphant return to the White House that will be his home for another four years. A bitter election campaign ended with the president taking virtually all of the key swing states beating Mitt Romney just about every place where it mattered most.
But Congress will remain divided, meaning Democrats and Republicans must immediately start finding some ways to deal with the prospect of an urgent new financial crisis. In his victory speech, the president said Americans voted for action. And he's already called Congressional leaders to discuss his agenda.
The House speaker, John Boehner, says both sides now must work together, and he hints at compromise on tax reform. In the end, President Obama won just about all of the critical battleground states without putting Florida in his win column, at least not yet. We still don't know who won in Florida because the votes there are still being counted.
Let's find out where things stand right now and why things stand where they do. CNN's John Zarrella is joining us from Miami. Little complicated situation in Florida, John. Update our viewers. JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Sure, Wolf. And you know, what's scary is had the Electoral College played out just a little bit differently last night, we might be sitting here today still not knowing who won the presidency, because we'd still be waiting for Florida.
BLITZER: He's ahead of the popular vote --
ZARRELLA (voice-over): So, there it was. CNN anchors in front of the map of the nation.
BLITZER: Right now, it looks like it's still very close.
ZARRELLA: Behind them, all blue states and red states except down there, see it? The one yellow state in the bottom right. Is that Florida, again? It didn't matter in the final outcome, but here was Florida a dozen years after the infamous butterfly ballot and hanging chads (ph) once again too close to call, once again long lines. Even the president, during his victory speech, threw a little zinger.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want to thank every American who participated in this election.
OBAMA: Whether you voted for the very first time or waited in line for a very long time --
OBAMA: By the way, we have to fix that.
ZARRELLA: In Miami-Dade County, the state's largest, people were still voting as he took the stage. Some precincts didn't wrap up until 1:30 in the morning, six and a half hours after the polls closed.
CHRISTINA WHITE, DEP. SUPV. OF ELECTIONS, MIAMI-DADE CO.: It's not that there were any problems or glitches, which is the word that's commonly used. It is not about that. It's about the volume of paper that we're processing.
ZARRELLA: That is true. Statewide, there weren't any major technical hiccups. The biggest problem was the ballot, the longest in state history.
SUSAN MCMANUS, POLITICAL SCIENTIST: It was a combination of a lot of things. And overly long ballot which took about 30 minutes to vote, new precinct locations because of redistricting and having to choose new precinct locations.
ZARRELLA: Some voters aren't buying it. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody's trying to do the best they can not to have the best election and the fairest election, but to screw the opposition.
ZARRELLA: Florida's election flab didn't just start on Tuesday, it started with early voting, reduced by the state legislature from 14 to eight days. Republican governor, Rick Scott, refused appeal to extend it, something both his Republican predecessors, Jeb Bush and Charlie Crist did. Monday, the governor was asked, was it political?
GOV. RICK SCOTT, (R) FLORIDA: Here's what's political. I want everybody that has a right vote to go register to vote. I want everybody to get involved in campaigns. Now and there, everybody go out and vote. 4.4 million people have gotten to vote in our state before Election Day.
ZARRELLA: At the end of the day, more than eight million Floridians did vote. We can't say exactly how many because, well, they're still counting.
ZARRELLA (on-camera): And you know, it may be a few days yet before all the provisional ballots and absentee ballots are counted in the state. So, yes, could be the end of the week before we really have an answer on who won Florida. You know, Wolf, there were projections that nine million Floridians would vote.
It didn't get near that. Just over eight million. It makes you wonder how many people either walked away from the long lines or just didn't bother to show up knowing how long they'd have to wait.
BLITZER: And with 97 percent of the vote officially counted, John, the president is still ahead by about, what, 50,000 votes right now?
ZARRELLA: Correct. That's right. About 50,000.
BLITZER: Out of eight million plus votes that were cast. All right, John, thanks very much.
Let's get a little closer look at this voting situation in Florida. Our chief national correspondent, John King, is with us once again. You know, before we get to -- it is pretty shocking that in the United States of America, people have to wait three, four, five hours just to vote. I mean, that is a shocking situation.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Let's hope -- the president said it as an aside, but it sure sounds like he meant it last night. Well, let's hope he works with the Congress.
This shouldn't be an issue whether you're Democrat or Republican or independent, whether you're here in Washington as a governor, I mean, come on, this is the most sacred right we have, and they should figure out, do we need more polling places? Do we need more people? Do we need better communication?
BLITZER: -- all of the above, especially on Tuesday. People work on Tuesdays, most people who have jobs, and takes a lot of time.
KING: And more than a third of Americans yesterday voted early, when you look nationally. Some states are generous in how they do that, Colorado among them. Ohio had some issues this year, but they open early. Other states like a big state of Pennsylvania doesn't allow a lot of open early voting. I think that should be part of the conversation, too. A lot of more early voting, Wolf, will make shorter lines on Election Day.
BLITZER: Yes. It's pretty outrageous. All right. Tell us what's going on in Florida.
KING: It's interesting. Look, you just mentioned (INAUDIBLE). I mean, this is why it was so hard last night. It is one of the reasons Governor Romney took so long to concede. They had some questions about Ohio. It turns out they didn't get Ohio. They had some questions about what's going to happen down here.
It is possible, as John Zarrella knows, as they count the rest of the absentees and provisional ballots, it is possible Governor Romney will overtake the president for this narrow lead down here, but what Florida is a striking example. This is one of the states, Wolf, we expected in the late -- even some of the Obama campaign people say, if we lose one or two, Florida would be among them.
It wasn't one of the favorite states. Governor Romney won the state of Florida by more than 20 points among White voters, among White voters, but he got crushed among Latinos and African-Americans. So, the diversity of the president's coalition is what made its stay in the case of Florida. And, if you go back and look, if you look at the key places, there was a lot of talk, would the president lose votes in places like?
Let's bring up Broward County because Governor Romney made a concerted effort to go after the Jewish vote to say (ph) the president was in a fight with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel. Well, look, there's President Obama at 67 percent in 2012. Let's go back to 2008 exactly the same, 67 percent, 67 percent.
Move down to Miami-Dade, 62 percent against Mitt Romney. Let's come back, 58 percent. So, a bit of a drop there. More probably Republican turnout, though, than anything else. Let's move this one up here, one more Palm Beach County against John McCain. It was 61 percent in 2012. It was 58 percent.
So, a very slight drop-off in those three -- if you add up all three in the Democratic counties right down there, but then throughout the rest of the state, Wolf, in Florida, like anywhere else, the Obama people worked for months. And they said who do we need to get to turnout here in Orange County?
Let's identify them during the primaries while Governor Romney was fighting Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry and everybody else, the Republicans primaries, the Obama campaign was identifying these voters. Look at that, 59 to 40 in a big populous Orange County in the middle of the state, a place you need. Matching their vote total from four years ago.
They essentially looked at what they did four years ago. They put together a plan to do it again, and a lot of people were critical of them, Wolf. A lot of people said they couldn't do it. They executed on Election Day, and they executed not only in Florida, but they executed in Virginia, they executed in -- let's come back to the 2012 map so you don't get confused about the states.
They executed in Virginia, they executed in Ohio. And if you look across the Midwest, Romney thought maybe we'll get them in Pennsylvania, didn't happen. African-Americans turnout in Philadelphia. Thought we get them in Michigan, didn't happen. Wisconsin because of Paul Ryan, didn't happen, Iowa didn't happen, Colorado didn't happen.
Florida, one of the examples of the Obama campaign making a list, checking it twice, spending months and millions to turn out their vote.
BLITZER: Yes. They had a good game plan and they implemented it successfully. All right. John, thanks very much.
He called some of his Democratic counterparts communist and said President Obama was trying to turn Americans into slaves. Now, Congressman Allen West will soon be ex-congressman Allen West. Is there a message for the Tea Party?
Plus, does President Obama owe his re-election, at least, in part to Bill Clinton? I'll ask his close ally and friend, the Chicago mayor, Rahm Emanuel. He's standing by live.
BLITZER: Last night's historic win, a huge moment, obviously, not only for the president of United States but also for those closest to him. Many of whom have been with him since his journey to the White House first began. One of those people the president's former chief of staff over at the White House, the Chicago mayor, Rahm Emanuel.
He and his wife were with President Obama backstage last night before he gave his big victory speech. And the mayor of Chicago is joining us now. Mr. Mayor, thanks very much for coming in.
RAHM EMANUEL, (D) CHICAGO MAYOR: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Let me read to you what the president told "Time" magazine a couple of months ago looking ahead at the time when he was asked about a second term if he were re-elected. He was asked what he would do differently in a second term.
He said "There will be some popping of the blister after this election where Republicans refuse to cooperate on things that I know are good for the American people, I will continue to look for ways to do it administratively and work around Congress." So, what do you think of that strategy? EMANUEL: Well, look, I mean, take a look at any executive order. He signed them. President Clinton has signed them. Every president has used them. When you think something's imperative for the country to move forward, if Congress refuses to act, you use the authority in the executive branch.
He did it on immigration and deportation as well as on the Dream Act. And so, Congress refused to take up an immigration bill that dealt with an important issue. He -- within the -- what areas he could effect, he took executive action. That's the same place that President Clinton has dealt with things as he dealt with kids access to tobacco products or marketing at tobacco products.
EMANUEL: With both President Obama and President Clinton, I think it's appropriate when Congress refuses to act and the president of the United States deems an issue or progress on that issue so imperative for the nation's security or well-being, it's appropriate.
Also, it's a message to the American people I will not allow Congress' inability to move and take action to stop us as a country from making progress.
BLITZER: But sometimes, you can't just take an executive order administratively. You need Congressional legislation as you'll need in the next two months to avoid what's called that fiscal cliff. So, here's the question, how do you negotiate a compromise, a deal, with the House Speaker John Boehner?
EMANUEL: Well, two points I would stress. We've had an election. I think speaker Boehner as well as the Senate majority, Harry Reid, and the respective minority leaders in both chambers, they know, as they've all run for office, the American people have spoken. Back in 1996, we had also a very aggressive campaign between President Clinton and Bob Dole.
The election was over. Nine months later, a year later, we had a balanced budget agreement that created the children's health insurance program, doubled the size of our national parks, and created middle class tax credits for sending their kids to college.
This time, given the voters have spoken, the president won re- election, won I think with a middle class progressive agenda for pro- growth economic strategy based on the middle class, it is incumbent then the parties work together to avoid not just the fiscal issue but lay a path for economic growth.
BLITZER: Well, I know --
BLITZER: excuse me for interrupting -- work closely with the Speaker Newt Gingrich. Do you think John Boehner -- and you know John Boehner, the speaker of the House -- do you think he can do with this president what Gingrich and Clinton did back in the 1990s after the president was re-elected?
EMANUEL: Well, I do. And I think it's essential that he also understand his own caucus. And I think when the election's done, remember, they were trying to defeat the president. Mitch McConnell said my number one goal is to defeat the president. That has failed. So, it's incumbent upon them now to realize there's peril avoiding -- political peril avoiding the message of the voters and because the voters have spoken.
Now, also, the Senate Democrats picked up seats. So, the published -- and across the country, so not in one region. So, they're clear about that. And the president's always going to be open to different ideas, but not change the goals. And the goal is not just an economic strategy based on austerity but one that is pro-growth, pro-middle class that allows job creation while you're bringing fiscal discipline to Washington.
It's not one or the other. It's both. Obviously, John Boehner is wanting to work with the president. He's already expressed some opening to do that. It's going to take a while to get there, but if there's a willingness, I think the president is going to make sure that we achieve a pro-growth strategy while bringing fiscal discipline and does John Boehner have the capacity?
I think it's incumbent upon his caucus to say we're sending a speaker in to represent us, but they come to an agreement and moves America forward because we all have self-interest as the president said yesterday regardless of who you're voting for to resolve the issues facing the country.
BLITZER: Do you think the president owes a lot to your former boss -- you worked for both of these presidents, the former president, Bill Clinton. How much does he owe Bill Clinton for helping him get re- elected?
EMANUEL: Well, first of all, I think you got to take the president's word two things. One, he owes his re-election to the American people. That's the number one person -- or group of people he owes his election. And he said it last night. So, there's nothing more I can add to what he said.
Number two, the first person he called was Bill Clinton, as you know. And so, I think it's an indication given he called him, given he thanked him, that he, himself, appreciates what the president has done not only on the campaign trail but going back to the convention. But also, they're kindred spirits with the same middle class economic agenda.
That is what -- I mean, there -- while they governed at different times, they have different (INAUDIBLE) different people, they are kindred spirits in the same kind of progressive agenda that's built on an economic strategy that strengthens the middle class.
And I say this repeatedly because I'm worried that Washington's going to get into one of its myopic discussions among themselves that it's only about austerity and lose sight about I think an agenda that helps build our infrastructure, invest in the education and training of our work force, things the president advocated that gives people a vested interest in the outcome.
It is not only austerity, fiscal discipline, yes, but it's a pro- growth strategy realizing the fundamentals that both President Clinton and President Obama have been advocating that invest in the economic opportunity. And if that part of the conversation's left off, you're not going to get the growth you need in the economy.
And they are kindred spirits. And he, himself, personally thanked President Clinton. I think that action speaks to how he appreciates what he did on the trail as well as at the convention.
BLITZER: He certainly did thank him. And I'm sure he's grateful to the former president's help. Take us a little bit behind the scenes, Mr. Mayor. You and your wife, Amy, you were there backstage just before the president, the first lady, their daughters, they went out there. And he delivered his victory speech. What was it like during those moments?
EMANUEL: He was very concerned to how CNN was going to cover it.
EMANUEL: Wolf, I think this is an exciting moment. As you know, what happens on an election night in the sense that you think about the journey from not only election night 2008 in Grand Park, but more importantly, he set out a year earlier from that engaging America in a conversation.
And you get elected. And from the days of when you see an unemployment report's 800,000 job losses to the one where you get 170,000 jobs created, from that decision when he made the auto decision -- I remember in the Roosevelt room, nobody of his advisors gave him a better than one in five shot that this was going to work and nobody suggested doing Chrysler while saving GM.
He made a decision at that point it was unpopular to ride it said you're throwing good money after bad. It turned out to be right for the country's work force, right for the auto industry, obviously, helped in both states like Ohio, Illinois, not that he needed it here in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania.
And to see that ratification of job growth as well as politics that come from that. And that, you know, when you get a second term, you get elected by a bigger coalition in the sense of what you've put together for the middle class. It's an affirmation of the strategy you have for America. And so, there's both a personal gratification, a political gratification, and also the course you're trying to build for the country has now been ratified by the public.
BLITZER: I'm sure he's grateful to you as well for all the help you gave him in those final several weeks of this campaign.
EMANUEL: As I told him last night, it's a labor of love. I think he's a great president. He's a dear friend. And I think he's been a courageous leader for this country in some very challenging times.
BLITZER: Rahm Emanuel is the mayor of Chicago. Thanks very much for joining us, Mr. mayor.
EMANUEL: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: A powerful nor'easter taking aim right now at a region devastated by the superstorm Sandy. We're going to have a live report from New York's Staten Island where thousands of people are still in the dark and they're bracing for horrible weather. Look at this. Stay with us. You're in the SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: A terrible day on Wall Street as investors apparently reacting to President Obama's victory among other issues including fears about the fiscal cliff, what's going on in Europe. Lisa Sylvester's monitoring that and some of the other stories in the SITUATION ROOM right now. So, what's going on?
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, not a good day for the market. Stocks plunging today with the Dow dropping 313 points, it's the worse day in a year. The NASDAQ and S&P also both sank more than two percent.
Investors are worried about how the president plans to avoid the fiscal cliff after winning re-election also dragging down the markets a weak outlook for Europe's economy. Wall Street had been overwhelmingly behind Mitt Romney.
And Californians voting to keep the death penalty and raise taxes on the wealthy. Fifty-three percent of California voters rejected a referendum that would have abolished the death penalty. Meanwhile, voters approved major tax hikes on the wealthy along with a sales tax increase. This is expected to bring in $6 billion a year over the next five years to the cash-strapped state.
And Puerto Ricans are backing statehood for the first time. Fifty- four percent of voters rejected their status as a U.S. commonwealth. In a separate question, 61 percent chose statehood as an alternative. Officials say an economic downturn and a shrinking population are contributing factors. And some say the vote on this non-binding referendum was flawed due to many blank ballots on the statehood question -- Wolf.
BLITZER: They got issues with their elections in Puerto Rico as well.
SYLVESTER: All around apparently, it seems.
BLITZER: This is the 21st century. We've got to fix these things. It's amazing.
SYLVESTER: I know. You'd think after 2000 when everybody said we learned our lessons with the dangling and the hanging chads (ph) in Florida.
BLITZER: Should not be that complicated.
SYLVESTER: But it comes up as you well know, and by the way, you did an outstanding job last night.
BLITZER: Thank you.
SYLVESTER: I'm speaking for everyone.
BLITZER: Just irritates me that this is still going on whether in Puerto Rico, whether here in Florida, whatever.
SYLVESTER: A lot of people feel the same way, Wolf.
BLITZER: Congressional Republicans tied to the Tea Party lost big last night. So, are Americans already tired of the movement that took Washington by storm just two years ago? Standby. We'll have an update.
BLITZER: All right. Let's get to our "Strategy Session." Right now lots to discuss with our CNN contributors, the Democratic strategist Paul Begala, and the Republican strategist, Alex Castellanos.
Alex, the Tea Party. What's going on here? We tool a look, some Tea Party supporters, activist Joe Walsh of Illinois, he lost his bid for re-election. In Indiana, Richard Mourdock, he lost his bid to be elected for senator. He had beaten Richard Lugar for that, the Republican senatorial nomination. Allen West, very popular with the Tea Party Movement and Florida congressman.
We haven't projected a final result yet but with 100 percent of the vote in he has -- he's 2,456 votes shy of Patrick Murphy, the Democrat.
So what should we say about the Tea Party Movement and what's going on right now based on what we saw yesterday?
ALEX CASTELLANOS, REPUBLICAN CONSULTANT: Based on what we saw I think the message is pretty clear, Wolf. In 2010, just a couple of years ago, we elected a bunch of Tea Party guys to Congress. Why? Because the car had no brake pedal. Democrats controlled everything. The House, Senate and the White House.
Americans put a brake pedal on the car. They just trusted Republicans to say no. This election wasn't about putting a brake pedal on the car, we've got one. This election is about hands on the steering wheel. Who's going to take us into the future? And we're still the guys who say no. That's all we're good for. We're not trusted yet to lead. We didn't present a vision, how we'd do it, a rationale for governing.
The Tea Party doesn't offer that. We're still the no guys. And until that's corrected, Republicans won't be trusted to lead.
BLITZER: Americans do like checks and balances. They like a little restraint on the executive branch of government from time to time. That's why there's a Republican majority in the House, presumably, and a Democratic president.
PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, it's certainly why there was the shellacking, as the president called it, of my party in the 2010 midterms.
BLITZER: When the Tea Party activists, when they gained all those seats?
BEGALA: They did. And good for them. They did it by organizing and by out-working and out-smarting the Democrats. The most important thing they did, though, was take a whole bunch of state legislatures and redraw the map. Frankly, Democrats would have taken over the House had the maps been drawn by Democrats, or even I think in a nonpartisan way. But this is the way our system works. I'm not complaining.
BLITZER: It was totally legal.
BEGALA: It was perfectly legal.
BEGALA: It was in the finest tradition of American politics. Honestly, it's real democracy.
BLITZER: Democrats are capable of doing that, too.
BEGALA: Absolutely, Wolf. I'm not trying to be -- I'm not trying to be sour grapes here. But they've now become an enormous negative for the Republicans. I think Alex eludes to that. In our exit poll yesterday, only 21 percent of Americans, only 21, have a favorable opinion of the Tea Party. That I think is below the favorability of the replacement refs a few weeks ago in the NFL. I mean 21 is terrible.
BLITZER: No. The replacement refs had a much lower favorability.
BEGALA: Maybe. They're about the only people they're better than.
CASTELLANOS: At least they're (INAUDIBLE).
BEGALA: They don't -- so they --
BLITZER: What do Republicans need to do now after -- the most important lesson or lessons they need to learn from yesterday.
CASTELLANOS: Bill Clinton, new Democrats. Democratic Party wasn't trusted to lead. They weren't trusted with the nation's pocketbook. They learned how to take what they believe and move it across the center. Republicans need to do the same. The next generation of Republicans, the Marco Rubios, the Bobby Jindals, the Jeb Bushes, the new Republicans are going to say, hey, look, we've got a better way to govern. Let's govern, I'll take money out of Washington's pocket, put it in your pocket, grow this economy naturally bottom up.
We need to evolved the same way. Ronald Reagan evolved from Goldwater. We're waiting for the post-Reagan Republicans. No less conservative. Don't love freedom any less but want to move this party forward into the communications age.
BLITZER: You're familiar with that triangulation in the --
BEGALA: This is very different from triangulation, though. That was a discredited theory for a guy who used to work for President Clinton. What President Clinton did was the new Democratic movement. He modernized the party and yes, moderated the party.
BLITZER: Through the DOC, that whole movement to new Democrats.
BEGALA: Absolutely. And he did it by changing our position on several issues. Welfare reform, crime, the death penalty, free trade. And the Republicans -- I've looked at the polling, what they need to do, what they to move on are all things that are already popular. Embrace returning high-income Americans to the Clinton tax rates. That's supported by three-fourths of Americans. Acknowledge --
BLITZER: And that means, Alex, going from the -- right now 35 percent for people making more than $250,000 a year to 39.6 percent.
CASTELLANOS: And --
BEGALA: Right. Seventy percent support that.
CASTELLANOS: We may, but it may not be good for the economy. One of the things -- if that's true, you know, if --
CASTELLANOS: There's a difference between --
BEGALA: It didn't hurt the economy when Clinton was president.
CASTELLANOS: But it might now because they're the only people paying a lot of the federal taxes, a big burden of it.
Now here's the question. If we want to raise revenue -- that's why we want to raise taxes, right? But we know raising tax rates and raising revenue are not always the same thing. If it doesn't raise more money, could we agree to say let it expire?
BLITZER: You can say raise revenue, Paul, by eliminating all these loopholes, these exemptions, these tax credits, stuff like that.
BEGALA: Sure. And we have to do -- we have to do both, frankly, because we do need more revenue. It should come from upper income Americans. But the rest of the agenda shouldn't be that hard for new Republicans. Most Americans want to go back to the rates that high- income Americans paid under Clinton. Most Americans in our exit polls, 65 percent wants some sort of path to legal status for undocumented residents here and most Americans support gay marriage. These are three easy things, they're popular, it's where the country is, the mainstream of America.
CASTELLANOS: What we're going to see is Republicans, I think, say freedom nationally values locally. Let's not use big government to cheat and enforce our values with -- big government doesn't become a good thing just because we're running it. But the other thing Americans agree on, less -- smaller government in Washington. Take more money out of Washington's pocket and put it in American's pockets and grow the economy that way bottom up. And I'm sure that's a place that President Obama will work -- will come our way.
BLITZER: I suspect if the two of you -- if it were up to the two of you, we would have a deal.
BEGALA: Just like this. We could run this country -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Like this. Probably 20 minutes from now.
All right, guys. Thanks very much.
BEGALA: Thank, Wolf.
BLITZER: It's the law of the land. Obamacare, guess what? It is now here to stay now that President Obama has won a second term. We're going to explain why it is not going away. And what does that mean for you? What changes are still in store for health care reform? Our own Dr. Sanjay Gupta, he's standing by live to explain.
BLITZER: A celebratory photo of President Obama hugging the first lady with a caption "four more years" became a record shattering viral sensation online. On Facebook, the picture brought in a whopping more than 3.5 million likes making it the most liked photo ever on Twitter.
It was re-tweeted, get this, more than 700,000 times, making it the number one tweet of all times.
There's the picture. Nice picture.
In the wake of a resounding defeat in the presidential election, the Republican Party now faces a new reality. The changing face of America.
Lisa Sylvester has been looking into this for us. She's joining us now.
Lisa, what are you seeing?
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Wolf, even before the final results were in in many of the states, people were asking the question, what went right for President Obama and what went wrong for Mitt Romney? And in part it comes down to demographics. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
SYLVESTER (voice-over): The day after the election and there's a political hangover among conservatives. At the National Press Club the Tea Party's national coordinator blamed Romney himself.
JENNY BETH MARTIN, TEA PARTY PATRIOTS: What we got was a weak, moderate candidate hand-picked by the beltway elites and country club establishment wing of the Republican Party.
SYLVESTER: Plenty of soul searching now, but one reality stands out. The face of America is changing. What clinched it for President Obama? The minority vote, the youth vote and in part the women's vote.
STUART ROTHENBERG, ROTHENBERG POLITICAL REPORT: The reality is younger voters, African-American voters, identify with the president. They like his positions. They like the Democratic Party's positions.
SYLVESTER: Romney had 59 percent of the white vote. Obama dominated everywhere else. Ninety-three percent of the African-American vote, 71 percent of the Latino vote, and 73 percent of the Asian vote.
BEN JEALOUS, NAACP PRESIDENT: When you look at a state like Florida, we know that we signed up 137,000 new people to vote. And we also know that the president only won by about 50,000 votes. And those folks who we signed up were black and they were brown primarily.
SYLVESTER: Census figures show the Hispanic population grew by 43 percent between 2000 and 2010. Caucasians grew by only 5.7 percent during the same period.
Those numbers can't be ignored. Republicans acknowledging that they need to reach out to Latino and African-Americans including people like the former congressman from Alabama, Artur Davis, who changed parties from a Democrat to a Republican.
ALFRED REGNERY, THE PAUL REVERE PROJECT: I think that Republicans certainly have to address that one way or another. I had dinner with Artur Davis not along ago who outlined what he thought and his points were very significant. Things that Republicans needs to listen to in terms of what blacks and Hispanics believe or what they want in candidates and so on. And I think if Republicans don't start listening to that, it's going to be a long time before they win.
SYLVESTER: They're pitting their hopes on the younger up and coming stars of the GOP, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, and newly-elected senator, Ted Cruz of Texas.
SYLVESTER: And one issue that is expected to gain traction is immigration reform. You know, given the election results, some conservatives even at the National Press Club they are now saying, you know, maybe it's time that we embrace comprehensive immigration reform to try to find a solution to the millions of undocumented immigrants living in the United States.
So that's something certainly to keep an eye on -- Wolf.
BLITZER: A lot of reassessment, soul thinking going to be going on among Republicans right now.
Thanks very much, Lisa. Good report.
So if you think Congress is dysfunctional now, just wait until January. Could be even more partisan than ever. We have details on the new balance of power. Why it may be difficult to get anything passed.
BLITZER: President Obama's controversial health care legislation also winning big with his re-election. Our chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta is joining us now with this part of the story.
Sanjay, much of the president's new health care law hasn't actually gone into effect yet. But now that he's been re-elected there's no doubt it's going to be the law of the land for years to come.
So what are you seeing? What should we expect in the not-too-distant future?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. A lot of this will start taking place in January of 2014. And really think about it mainly as a lot of patient protection. Specifically we've talked about some of this in the past, Wolf, but, for example, people not being charged higher premiums for being sick. You know, we talk about the idea that people cannot be discriminated against based on pre-existing conditions.
And I'll tell you, Wolf, you know, we typically think of the scenario being someone who can obtain health care insurance because they're sick, but there are a lot of people who are still buying it just at a very high cost. They're going to get a break on their health care insurance. And finally no annual dollar limits on health benefits. So they can't be capped. The president referred to this in his speech last night as you may remember, Wolf, talking about an 8-year-old girl with cancer who -- you know, would not -- would no longer be capped on how much money could be spent on her health care.
And finally these health exchanges, Wolf, that will be created -- tried to be created at the state level as well for people who are trying to buy insurance on their own -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Talk a little bit about these health insurance exchanges, Sanjay. Will all states have them? How exactly will these exchanges work?
GUPTA: Well, you think of it as sort of as a one-stop shop, you know, for people who want to try and buy health care, the health care plans sort of compete against each other, so that raises competition a bit. But it's primarily for people who are buying insurance on their own or work for small businesses, for example, where the insurance isn't provided.
Your second question I think is a very important one. And that is that so far we just tracked this about 10 states, there are 10 that have signed up to actually create these sort of exchanges. They have up until November 16th to decide for sure whether they're going to create an exchange in their state. I think a lot of people were waiting to see what happened last night, Wolf, in terms of their own decisions.
If they don't do it, then the federal government will need to step in and possibly create the exchange within the state. They don't want to do that. It's a lot of technical additional work, but that's sort of the plan as far as I can tell moving forward, Wolf.
BLITZER: And starting in 2014, Sanjay, every American will be legally required to purchase health insurance. People ignore what's called the mandate, will the health insurance exchange programs still work?
GUPTA: I think it'd be very hard. For the same reason that any of these insurance plans that we're talking about would have a hard time, so would the exchanges. You need a combination of both people who are healthy and obviously taking care of people who are sick for it to work because more people paying into the system through the mandate helps offset the cost of people who are sick.
And that's a real concern, Wolf. Might there be cherry picking, for example. Some insurers, you know, only -- are preferentially covering people who are healthy. The law, the way it's written, should prevent that sort of thing from occurring, but that's part of the reason I think some states have been slow to adopt this, Wolf.
BLITZER: And there should be no doubt that Obamacare is now going to be fully implemented over the next four years. The president is making that clear. Even if the House were to reject it as they have in the past, the Senate unlikely. But even if they would, the president would veto any such legislation. It would require two- thirds majority, 67 votes in the Senate.
BLITZER: To get rid of it. So it is here, Obamacare is not going away at all. Americans are going to have to get used to it whether they like it -- a lot of them do -- or they don't, and a lot of them don't.
Sanjay, thanks very much.
GUPTA: You got it, Wolf. Thank you.
BLITZER: Thank you.
Democrats are maybe celebrating President Obama's victory and some key wins in the Senate and even the House, but the president still can't push his agenda without Republican help. And that may be hard to come by.
CNN's Tom Foreman is joining us now from CNN's virtual Senate.
What are you seeing, Tom?
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, you know, Wolf, you're absolutely right. A lot of president's supporters are hoping he can rekindle a spirit of bipartisanship, not only here, maybe over in the House side where the Republicans are in charge, but certainly in the U.S. Senate they're hoping he can do that.
And this is one of the reasons why. Look at what our exit polls showed yesterday. When people left 41 percent of the voters yesterday called themselves moderate, that's up from a few years ago. And 29 percent say they're independents. So that's -- pretty steady for a while, so about a third of the public thinks of themselves as independent.
Yes, they're going to vote Democratic or Republican, but they're clearly tipping their hat to the idea that you need cooperation.
But, this chamber, the U.S. Senate has been moving steadily away from that. Look at this analysis based on something the "National Journal" did sometime back. What the Senate looks back like in the early 1980s. Do you see all of those tan seats in the middle out there? Those represent moderate senators. People who, at that time, were willing to cross the aisle to strike a deal with the other side to make votes for other legislation that they maybe they didn't sponsor.
Move it forward to the 1990s and watch those seats diminish. Suddenly it's only about a third of Congress, and here comes the big one, watch this, you move to the early 2000s, and now you're down to a handful of reliably moderate senators willing to strike deals with the other side.
And if you go to the vote from yesterday, Wolf, it's going to be very hard to find a reliable, moderate in this chamber. The simple truth is many of the people who were willing to strike those kinds of deals have been pushed out as the parties have found more strength in their bases. They've realized they can get more power by turning to people in solidly red states or solidly blue states, and playing to what they want even as the public says they want more cooperation -- Wolf.
BLITZER: What are some of the most pressing issues you think that could be impacted by all of this?
FOREMAN: Simple thing. Let's talk about economic issues alone, Wolf. The biggest one for the public out there. And some of the issues upon which the Democrats and Republicans are most sharply divided. The fiscal cliff. There is absolutely no question that Democrats and Republicans know they have to deal with it. Know that it could trigger another recession if it's handled badly, and they have very different ideas about how to do it, tax reform.
Both parties say we have to do it. But there's huge disagreement on what that means and how you're going to get there, and beyond that, what about the idea of the deficit back here? That's another huge threat looming out there that both parties say is serious and must be dealt with overtime.
The only way the president can get this done, Wolf, without that 60- vote filibuster proof majority here, which he does not have, is whisk some cooperation from the other party, and the fundamental problem is, and we started from the beginning, they're saying the dealmakers have been steadily pushed out. There are fewer people in these chambers who are naturally go-between for the parties and that's going to make it much, much tougher for the president to broker these deals -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Tom Foreman in our virtual Senate. Thanks very much for that.
One of the hardest hit areas in Sandy's deadly path getting slammed again.
BLITZER: Just a little more than a week since the super storm Sandy devastated the northeast. Now a new powerful nor'easter is already packing a wintry punch of wind, rain and snow.
CNN meteorologist Rob Marciano is joining us from Staten Island in New York right now.
What's going on, Rob?
ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Wolf, it's snowing. Can you believe? There's big flakes, it's been snowing like this now for a good two or three hours and the wind has been gusty as well. We've had wind gusts over Cape Cod, or near Cape Cod, over 76 miles an hour, and several inches of snow piling up.
In this storm zone, we're in Staten Island. Just a few hundred yards that way is the ocean. We made it through the first high tide with no flooding. But over a week ago, the flooding was up and over my -- up and over my shoulders. And this area has been decimated.
Snow, we've got a couple of inches on the ground. Wolf, you know it's snowing hard this time of year if the snow is actually sticking. So that's how hard it's coming down. But it's piling up on some of the debris that's been pulled out of these houses, that have saw substantial flood damage from Hurricane Sandy just over a week ago.
This home is lit up only because we let them plug into our satellite truck generator. These people are dealing with some serious coals, some serious winds, and still over a week after Sandy ripped through this area -- Wolf.
BLITZER: How are the folks out there preparing for this?
MARCIANO: Well, they prepared as well as they could. You know, they've got shelters open, but I'll tell you what, come on inside, a lot of people sadly are staying where they are because they had some looting a couple -- right after the storm. So they don't want their stuff to get stolen. Like I said, they plugged into our satellite truck. Inside here, the Cameradas have ripped everything up to kind of dry the place out. Earlier we spoke with Nick, and here is how he explained his emotional story to our viewers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NICK CAMERADA, HOMEOWNER: Everything that I own is here and I'm trying to save it. My wife, my kids, my best friend Mike. And I'm just going to lose everything. I mean, my body is shutting down. There's no words to explain or express the stress, the pain, the suffering.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARCIANO: Physically and emotionally worn out, Wolf. No doubt about it. There are the Cameradas.
Hey, Nick, how's the carbon monoxide meter? Working all right? So far so good? We're hoping. They -- Wolf, they got the profane heater going. Obviously those can be dangerous things so they're weary of that, but just to get the temperatures above freezing is the goal so he and his family can sleep in a somewhat warm shelter tonight. Wolf.
BLITZER: What a sad story. Rob, thanks, very, very much.