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Ballot Bowl 2008

More Campaign Coverage

Aired March 16, 2008 - 17:00   ET


JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Supposed to meet with General David Petraeus, the commanding general here, with Ryan Crocker, the U.S. ambassador and with Iraqi officials, including we are told, the prime minister, Nuri al Maliki.
Now, all this part of a busy international trip for Senator McCain that he is conducting and he wants to emphasize as a senator, this is his day job, he says, but it's also impossible to disconnect the facts of this trip from the presidential campaign back home.

General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker will be back before Congress next month, making their case for the Bush administration's policy here in Iraq.

Every day on the campaign trail back home, Senator McCain makes note to any one of his audiences that he's one of the few Republicans who stood up to former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and demanded more troops in Iraq, denounced the Bush administration policy at the beginning as a failure, and at every stop along the campaign trail he says he believes both Senator Obama and Senator Clinton are flat wrong, that they would, quote, "wave the white flag of surrender" in pulling U.S. troops out too soon.

And Senator McCain as he did earlier this week in Springfield, Pennsylvania, makes the case at almost every stop that he believes while the surge is painful especially to military families, he believes it's succeeding.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The hardest thing in warfare to counter is someone or/and group of individuals who are willing to take their own lives in order to take others. You can go all the way back to our World War II veterans who will tell you that the kamikaze pilot in World War II was the hardest thing for us to counter. Ask the Israelis how hard toss to secure their borders against these suicide bombers.

So, I worry about it a great deal, but I also believe that they may be able to carry out some spectacular suicide attacks, but we do have them on the run, and up in Mosul where the battle is raging right now, I'm happy to tell you that the overwhelming majority though of that fighting is being done by Iraqi troops, not by American troops. That's the success of the surge.

And Americans are grieved. We are grieved at the sacrifice. But if we can reduce and gradually eliminate American casualties, the struggle may go on, but we will have won and then we determine what our relationship is and what our presence is there.


KING: A taste of Senator McCain back home on the campaign trail. There again making the case that he believes the surge policy is working and that he believes while eventually that this commander in chief or the neck commander in chief should be able to begin to bring troops home, he believes both of the plans put forward by Senator Clinton and Obama would be a recipe for disaster.

And Jim, what's quite interesting in this trip is because it's clearly sensitive to the McCain operation. They want to call this a Congressional delegation trip, they make note that he planned to make this trip several months ago and at that point in the campaign, he thought it was unwise. But they say whether he had won the Republican nomination or whether he had faltered, he would be here at this moment.

And it's not just sensitive for the McCain operation, the military is also sensitive to the fact this will be viewed as somehow the United States military helping Senator McCain from a political standpoint. U.S. officials here say that he is a ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, that he has two colleagues with him, that the trip has been endorsed by his colleagues, Democrats included, back in the United States Congress.

But make no mistake about it, Jim, he is here for his day job as a United States senator, but Iraq is not only a defining debate in the Congress, but also as you well know, as you stand in the state of Pennsylvania today, in the campaign as well.


John King reporting from Baghdad on Senator John McCain's trip to Iraq and you can tell from that video that you were watching there of Senator McCain's trip that it's been tightly managed, tightly controlled, and tightly protected by the Department of Defense, as you can see that bug across the top of the screen indicating that that is Department of Defense video of John McCain making this stop in Baghdad.

And we'll hear more from John King on John McCain's trip as the days go on. Thanks very much to John King.

I want to turn it back now to my colleague, Suzanne Malveaux, who is in Chicago. And Suzanne, as you know, Hillary Clinton has a big foreign policy address happening in Washington tomorrow on the subject of Iraq as this fifth anniversary of the Iraq war approaches, this subject will certainly be in the news this week.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Jim, both the candidates realize that if they become the nominee, that the big issue obviously when you go up against John McCain is going to be the issue of national security. So, both of them have really been trying to put forward their credentials. We have heard from Senator Hillary Clinton and, yes, she's going to be giving what they have build the campaign as a major policy speech regarding the Iraq war. She has made the case that Barack Obama has not passed what they call commander in chief test, that he doesn't have enough experience, that he has not been involved in the kinds of things that are necessary to make some of the tough decisions, at least that's what Senator Clinton has argued.

Barack Obama has come back and said that Hillary Clinton essentially has not passed the judgment test, that she may have experience but by giving President Bush the authorization to go to war with that legislation that she obviously was a part of a member of Congress to sign, that she exercised poor judgment here.

So, they are going back and forth trying to convince voters who would be the one who is strongest when it comes to the military operation inside of Iraq. Both of them have made various promises about how quickly and responsively they'd try to bring those troops home.

Let's take a listen to how both of them are framing this debate.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We can end this war in Iraq, but also end the mindset that got us into war by recognizing that we have to hunt down terrorists but we have to fight the right wars. We should be in Afghanistan going after al Qaeda, not in Iraq.


OBAMA: And we should be treating our troops properly, giving them proper rotations and proper training and proper equipment and treating them properly when they come home. Our veterans deserve the care that this administration has failed to give them.

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You have to restore American leadership and our moral authority, and that begins by ending the war in Iraq and bringing our troops home.


CLINTON: I know, I know that we can, starting within 60 days, have a plan to begin responsibly and safely withdrawing our young men and women.

And I believe that at the same time, we have to make clear to the Iraqis that they have been given the greatest gift that a human being can give another human being, the gift of freedom. And it is up to them to decide how they will use that precious gift that has been paid for with the blood and sacrifice and treasure of the United States of America.

And it is time for the Iraqis to demonstrate that they understand, there is no military solution. American troops cannot stay there, contrary to my friend, John McCain, suggesting they'd be there for 50 to 100 years. No! They're going to start coming home if I am president.


MALVEAUX: And Jim, what we have seen is this kind of back-and-forth between the campaigns, the two candidates putting forth their own plans about getting troops out as quickly as possible, as responsibly as possibly.

What we also see behind the scenes which a lot of folks an voters wouldn't necessarily know, is that there are conference calls that these campaigns hold, competing conference calls, almost on a daily basis now, Jim, where you have a group of military officials, whether they're generals or folk who have been in the former Clinton administration, who come out an say this is the reason why they believe Hillary Clinton is the best person to be commander in chief, or the same for Barack Obama.

There are a lot of people, you know, who obviously have the kind of credentials, they have the kind of expertise, and they are trying to lend that to give it a little bit more gravitas, both of these candidates, to make that case, that this is the best person who have the best judgment to deal with the Iraq war, Jim.

ACOSTA: Right, Suzanne.

And to contrast that with this trip from John McCain to Baghdad, it is interesting because I think even though John King said at the top of the show that while John McCain is going to stress that this trip to Baghdad is very much a part of his Congressional mission as United States senator, there's obviously going to be a discussion, of all of this is going to be looked through a political prism in terms of what John McCain does on the ground there, because obviously, he is going to be advocating a continuation of the surge, the continuation of the present policy in Iraq.

And even though there are big differences between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, Suzanne, not many differences on the issue of Iraq. It seems to boil down to whether one believes the other is the right person to be the commander in chief. Hillary Clinton says she's ready on day one, Barack Obama talks about judgment to lead versus her catch phrase ready to lead.

And I'm just wondering, when you talk to voters out there on the campaign trail, when you're going from town to town to all of these events, did the voters sense much of a difference on this issue of Iraq, and do you sense any indication from the voters that they might be willing to listen to John McCain on this issue?

MALVEAUX: Well, it's interesting, because both Senators Clinton and Barack Obama, what they do is that they compare themselves to John McCain when it comes to the issue of Iraq. They both use the same lines, almost identical line when they talk about John McCain saying that perhaps U.S. troops would be in Iraq for some 50 to 100 years. They believe that that really is a winning line here.

And you hear from the voters essentially, the loudest applause you get is when they start talking about Iraq, when they start talking about bringing the troops home. I think they are looking at both of these candidates wanting to know who can do it in the most responsible way and also one of the things that they realize that this back-and-forth, that this whole issue of experience, that is something that people do seem to be grabbing on to. So, that's what they're saying.

A couple of other things though, Jim, that when you hear these two candidates talk, one of the things that people really seem to respond is the whole idea of getting involved: What can they do to change things, to change the situation. And both these candidates get great applause when they reach out to the young people and say, look -- we'll pay off your student loans if you give us community service, if you work overseas, if you work here, if you somehow do something for your country.

So, it's very interesting, because it seems like there's been a real hunger for Americans asking what can we do, what should we be doing when it either comes to serving the country, to getting out of the war, to making things better, and that is the kind of response you get to both of these candidates when they talk about here's what you can do when it comes to serving your country, Jim.

ACOSTA: Absolutely, Suzanne. These candidates have both tapped into that outcry that public desire it seems for national service at this time, at this critical time. Thanks very much, Suzanne. We'll be getting back to you obviously very soon.

And I should mention that while I am sitting in this state here in Pennsylvania, it is not the only big state out there that could have a big impact on this nominating process.

Michigan and Florida: Will they have do-overs? And if they do, will the voters show up?

All of that coming up after the break.



ACOSTA: Welcome back to BALLOT BOWL '08. I'm Jim Acosta in South Sterling, Pennsylvania.

And while the two campaigns are fighting very hard for votes here in Pennsylvania, make no mistake, they are drawing up their battle plans behind the scenes in the event of do-overs in Michigan and Florida. And late last week, the state of Michigan appeared to be getting close to finalizing plans for a new primary in that state.


HOWARD DEAN, DEMOCRATIC NAT'L COMMITTE CHMN.: I think the best option is whatever we can get the candidates to agree with which puts a vote back in the hands of the people of Florida and Michigan. And that's going to be not so easy to do. ACOSTA (voice-over): But Michigan may make Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean's job a bit easier. Some top Michigan Democrats including Congresswoman Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick say they are working on plans for a June 3rd primary do-over.

Kilpatrick tells CNN, "We are trying to get there. It's not a done deal yet."

Michigan and Florida broke National Democratic Party rules by moving up their primaries to January. The contest took place, but none of the party's major candidates campaigned in the states. And Michigan and Florida delegates were banned from this summer's Democratic convention.

CLINTON: The results of those primaries were fair and they should be honored.

ACOSTA: Clinton won both primaries but the idea of awarding delegates base on those results doesn't fly with Obama.

OBAMA: What we don't think makes sense is for example, the Michigan delegation to be seated when my name wasn't on the ballot.

ACOSTA: With the battle between Clinton and Obama for the nomination so close and with November victories in those states crucial for the Democrats to take back the White House, both candidates agree action is needed.

CLINTON: The nearly 2.5 million Americans in those two states who participated in the primary elections are in danger of being excluded from our Democratic process and I think that's wrong.

OBAMA: What we want is an opportunity for Florida and Michigan delegates to participate in the convention.


ACOSTA: And there's a lot to be hammered out before they work out a deal on do-overs in Florida and Michigan. Take Michigan, for example, or take both of them for a moment. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama would both have to sign on to any such agreement and so with the DNC, the Democratic National Committee, led by Howard Dean.

And as for Michigan, they are already talking about ways to pay for a new primary. State Democratic leaders indicating late last week that they might be willing to have the party foot the bill to reimburse the state for the cost of holding a do-over.

Coming up after the break here on BALLOT BOWL on CNN: The race in cyberspace. We are looking at how the campaigns are clicking online.



MALVEAUX: Welcome back to CNN's BALLOT BOWL. I'm Suzanne Malveaux in Chicago.

We are facing and obviously looking at all of the candidates, the presidential candidates, John McCain, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, live on tape, unfiltered.

Our own Josh Levs in Atlanta is also looking at these campaigns online and what is the buzz, what's happening online, Josh?

JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There's buzz and it's busy. They're constantly in a cyber fight particularly on Democratic side. It's some amazing stuff.

Hey, everybody. Here's what I'm getting to. I've got a camera facing this computer right behind me. I'm going to show you some things that are going on on their Web sites today.

Let's start off with this one. This is Barack Obama's home page. Often what I've shown you in the past what's been going on out on the home page is the main thing you see right here has been: "Please send money now." Democrats are not doing that right now. When you try to go to their Web site, they do ask for money but it's not front and center, right more.

This is Clinton's page right now. She's showing photos from the campaign trail. It's more about positioning. It's more about broad statements leading up to Pennsylvania.

But one thing I check very often on these sites and we want to share with you unfiltered is their fact check Web sites. I want to show how the back and forth works.

This is Clinton's fact check Web site. And, I, by the way, make the font a lot bigger so it shows up better on TV. When you get there it will be smaller.

This is one of her most recent postings. This is about just what Jim was talking about before the break. It has to do with this idea of creating these new contests particularly here in Florida when there's been talked about a vote-by-mail program. She is complaining in this posting about some recent comments by Senator Obama's campaign suggesting he has not been consistent.

Barack Obama on his fact check Web site, look at this, I know it's hard to see there, he is leading with the exact same thing, vote by mail. What his real position is, in fact right here, he links back to her fact check Web site.

These two are in a 2/47 cyber fight. You follow their fact check Web site, you see it there.

This here is John McCain's Web site. He's noting something here. I'll be showing you a video in a moment. He notes this weekend marks the 35th anniversary of his being released after having been a POW in Vietnam. Right here front and center, he links you to a video.

Let's show you a piece of that right now. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN: I went through a very rough experience in my life many years ago. My faith has been my anchor and my guide.


LEVS: OK. You can watch the whole thing at

Now, the Democrats also have videos out this weekend. Some new videos they've posted in recent days. And what interests me is the video that they have chosen to put up there from Pennsylvania.

We actually got a quick chance to take a look at this yesterday, but here at the CNN Center the ceiling was about to fall in or start leaking or something, so we had to run.

I want to share with you today, because the broad thinking about Obama's events has been that they're largely about energy and excitement. The broad thinking about Clinton's events has been that they have a lot to do with very specific policy discussions. But right now on these Web sites, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have each posted one major video from Pennsylvania.

And I want you to take a look at what these videos are like.


OBAMA: You know, the best run companies I notice are ones that are not afraid of union drives, because they know that if they've got a cooperative workforce that feels it's got a stake in the company's success, that that company will end up over the long-term being more successful and more profitable. And so in terms of your specific question, the Employee Free Choice Act, I'm a huge supporter of it, and I intend to sign when I'm president of the United States of America.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There wasn't a moment of silence. People were excited. And you can feel the excitement finally coming to Pennsylvania.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I told my husband yesterday when I was planning to come that I sort to feel like a teenager waiting to go to a rock concert.

CLINTON: Wow. Thank you all so much.


LEVS: And these are the videos they are putting front and center. If you go to their Web pages, you click on video, those are the videos you see from Pennsylvania. Clinton's video is all about energy, excitement, enthusiasm, someone compares to a rock star. Maybe that sounds familiar. Barack Obama is a straight-up policy discussion. He has people behind him sitting there like this, they've been listening quietly, intently to a pretty specific discussion.

Maybe it's a strategic effort to try to fill in those deficits in the campaign. Who knows? I'm not inside their heads. But I do know that that right now is the video on each side that you cannot miss at their Web sites.

And, of course, Suzanne right here, we're going to keep our eye on all the cyber fighting going on every step of the way, keep bringing it to you unfiltered and on BALLOT BOWL.

MALVEAUX: Thanks, Josh. You know, it's interesting because I think you do raise a legitimate point there. Obviously, they're trying to emphasize perhaps what they've lacked in the past, but actually being on the road with both of these campaigns, there has been somewhat of a tweaking with both of them in the way they've done things.

Barack Obama has gotten a lot more detailed when he talks about policy. It was interesting just yesterday talking that little clip that he showed about energy. You can tell that he is trying to formulate and take those questions from the voters and the viewers.

And Hillary Clinton, ever since Texas and El Paso when you had those huge crowds and -- of the bands and of the whole bit, there has been a little bit more of that kind of rock star aura to it. So, fascinating to see how it's all unfolding on the Web.

So, thank you so much, Josh.

LEVS: You got it. Thank you.

MALVEAUX: And of course, we're going to be bringing you some more news coming up after the break, including that severe weather that hit Atlanta and the southeast.


CHRIS MCGINNIS, EXPEDIA.COM: We're finding that a lot of people are getting scared off from going to Europe because it is so expensive with the very weak dollar in Europe. And they still have a yearning for international travel and they're heading south of the border.

The most popular destinations for Americans in Latin America are Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, both in the Caribbean, and Mexico which is, by far, the most popular country in Latin America for Americans to go to.

The whole idea of travel to Latin America is changing. The days of dictatorships and machine guns that a lot of people have about Latin America are really fading away. It's a region that's full of culture, full of peace. A lot of people really enjoy the European feel of South America.

It is less expensive to fly to places like Puerto Rico or Mexico or the Dominican Republic than it is to fly deep into South America to cities like Rio de Janeiro.


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN NEWS ANCHOR: Hello, I'm Fredricka Whitfield in Atlanta. Back to the "BALLOT BOWL" in a moment but first a look at what's happening right now in the news.

A law enforcement source tells CNN four FBI agents were among those hurt in a bombing in Islamabad, Pakistan. The attacker hurled an explosive device over a wall surrounding a restaurant Saturday. The source says the agents' wounds are not life threatening. The 12 people injured include a fifth American. A Turkish woman also was killed.

Three people are still missing a day after a giant crane collapsed onto a townhome in New York City. Crews are looking through the rubble, looking for survivors or victims. Four people were killed and about two dozen others hurt. The crane damaged several other buildings as it fell across a city block. City officials inspected the crane Friday and found no safety violations.

And Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue getting a firsthand look at some of the tornado damage here in downtown Atlanta. He promised to work for a quick recovery.


SONNY PERDUE, GOVERNOR OF GEORGIA: You saw many, many people working. And that's -- the good news is as much as the damage to this building and other structures in the city, the loss of life was just confined to Polk County and Floyd County with two fatalities arising from the storm. That's amazing in itself.

The other thing I'm continually amazed with is the professional response that our emergency team had. I'm going to ask Charlie English to -- head of FEMA, our Homeland Security director, to talk with you about the state wide damage other than just here and outside of here and tell you a little bit about those.

We know that we were really struck with two storms, the one on Friday night and then the storms that came through the state yesterday. We've had some state wide damage. I indicated two fatalities in northwest Georgia.

But the results here, you already see people working. This resource will be restored as quickly as possible.


WHITFIELD: High winds and suspected tornados destroyed or damaged homes in South Carolina as well as Georgia, where there were two storm-related deaths in Georgia, as you heard the governor say.

Meantime, officials are working overtime to clean up the mess in downtown Atlanta. It will be some slow going for this new work week.

More now from CNN's Cal Perry who is checking out the situation just a couple blocks away -- Cal?

CAL PERRY, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Fredricka, what we're really seeing today is a lot of unfortunate parking as you can see behind me, and office buildings that took a lot of wind damage. Yesterday I was in the residential area. You saw a lot of damage because of downed trees. Downtown Atlanta, with a lot of cement, a lot of office buildings. We've seen huge corporations, the sun trust building was damaged, the landmarks you see in the Atlanta skyline, that wind damage blew out a lot of windows and took a lot of debris out into the streets and damaged things on the ground as things fell. That's what we're really seeing in this downtown urban area, which is very different than what we were seeing in the residential area.

The other thing we're seeing is a lot of people coming into town and gawking and taking pictures of the damage. Tourists. Atlanta police have urged people not to come to the downtown area, they've said if you don't have to be downtown, don't come downtown because they what they want to do of course is get all that debris off the streets, get things cleaned up.

But if you do decide to come downtown, we got you covered, Fredricka. Local businesses here -- "I survived the blowout at the dome." And they're calling it the tornado tournament. That's of course the NCAA basketball tournament which was going on here at the Georgia Dome. Well, it's now called the tournament and the gentleman who gave me this t-shirt said it is saving his business -- Fredricka?

WHITFIELD: Pretty inventive and, of course, wasting no time to make a profit off it. Thanks so much, Cal Perry.

Jacqui Jeras is in the weather center.

Nothing like that on the horizon, I hope.

JACQUI JERAS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Not in the next couple of days. We have got a two good solid days of great weather across the southeast to help in the tornado cleanup but we are tracking a storm system that's in the southwest right now that could eventually bring more severe weather to north Georgia, including Atlanta and then on into the Carolinas.

All right, let's go ahead and show you, this is the storm right now, and it is bringing in just light rain showers in the valley, a little bit of snow into the higher elevations but it is going to be intensifying as it pulls out of the southwest and moves into the nation's midsection. As it does that for tomorrow, we're going to watch it start to pick up a southerly flow from the Gulf of Mexico bringing in more warmth, also some more moisture interacting with cooler, dryer air from the west. That means severe thunderstorms are going to be possible, including isolated tornados.

So tomorrow afternoon, continuing through Monday night, we'll watch places like San Antonio, Austin, Dallas, Oklahoma City, on up towards Kansas City. As we head into Tuesday then we'll be watching more of the lower Mississippi River Valley from Houston to New Orleans, Little Rock, Nashville, Memphis, Birmingham, Greenville, Mississippi. And then by Wednesday, Tuesday night into Wednesday, we'll be watching places like Atlanta, Charleston, Charlotte, on up towards Virginia Beach for the threat of severe weather. Again, including isolated tornados. So this is going to be a real powerful storm system we'll be watching over the next couple of days.



WHITFIELD: Wow. All right, thanks so much, Jacqui.

Well, this weekend wacky weather particularly in Georgia. It really left an impression. So much so that a lot of folks in this state find that they won't be able to forget the images. So a lot of I-reporters have been sending in some incredible photos over the last couple days. Take a look.




WHITFIELD: If you see breaking news, grab a camera and send your images to Just like that.

Paul McCartney -- he is finally going to learn tomorrow what his divorce just might cost him. A British judge will deliver a ruling on the ex-Beatle's divorce from his estranged wife Heather Mills during a closed-door hearing. McCartney is estimated to be worth $1.5 billion. The settlement could become public if either side challenges it in the court of appeals.

I'm Fredricka Whitfield at the CNN Center in Atlanta. Much more of the "BALLOT BOWL" right after this.


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NEWS ANCHOR: Welcome back to CNN's "BALLOT BOWL." I'm Suzanne Malveaux in Chicago.

We want to bring in our own Sean Callebs who is in New Orleans.

And I understand that, Sean, you had a chance to sit down with the former president, Bill Clinton, in New Orleans talking about the Ninth Ward, among many other topics. What is President Clinton up to?

SEAN CALLEBS, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: It's interesting. If you think about it, Louisiana's primary was right after Super Tuesday. Long out of the picture. But New Orleans has played an integral role over the past several weeks in the ongoing presidential race.

Bill Clinton was down here chiefly promoting his charitable organization, the Clinton global efforts that has been going on since 2005. They've done such things as work in Africa trying to bring AIDS-related medication to help stem the crisis on that continent. He was down here today trying to foster a lot of interest among college youth across the country trying to get them involved in a philanthropic way how they can give back to society. That's really what the focus was on so far as his visit this year.

We had a chance to talk about politics. If you think back on the state of the black union a couple weeks ago, which was also here, Hillary Clinton was the only presidential candidate who showed up at that time. At the time she said, look, if comments my husband made during the campaign have offended African-Americans then I'm sorry. So the question is has this race become very polarized. President Clinton was accused of playing the race card during the South Carolina primary. The president downplays that and says it is simply not the case.


CALLEBS: Has your role in the campaign changed at all from South Carolina? Has it evolved?

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No. No. First of all, what happened there is a total myth and a mugging. It's been pretty well established. Charlie Rangel, the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, said in unequivocal terms in South Carolina that no one in our campaign played any race card. That we had some played against us but we didn't play any.

CALLEBS: If as you said the race card was played against you, I was at the State of the Black Union a few weeks back when your wife said if anybody said anything that offended you, I apologize. In Mississippi, nine out of ten black voters supported Barack Obama. Are you concerned that this is becoming more polarized?

CLINTON: No. No. That was going to happen -- Iowa did that. People that really understand politics know that. Once African-Americans understood that they had a candidate with a serious chance to win the nomination and perhaps the presidency, then it was going to be a question of somewhere between 80 percent and 90 percent were going to support him, except in areas where she had a particularly strong profile. Like she got I think about 30 percent of the African- American vote in Florida, over 20 percent in California. Probably 25 percent and higher in areas where the African-American members of Congress supported her. And she probably got about 35 percent, maybe a little more, in Arkansas where she had a very strong lifetime of experience and she won Congressman Rangel, she won Harlem, where my office is. Actually won, which was astonishing.


CALLEBS: Of course, expect to hear a great deal more from the candidates as well as their surrogates over the next five weeks before the next major primary coming up in Pennsylvania.

We also had a chance to talk with the president about where he sees this campaign going, is it going to become more divisive? How do they deal with the delegates in Michigan and in Florida? The former president said he is adamant that no matter what happens, that the voices of those people in Michigan and in Florida need to be heard, saying it is not only going to be important for the Democratic party. But it is going to be especially important once they move on toward the general election in November -- Suzanne?

MALVEAUX: Thank you, Sean. We'll see how that all unfolds in the week to come as well. Obviously looking at Michigan and Florida.

On the next side of the break from "BALLOT BOWL," we'll give you our final thoughts. Stay with us.


JIM ACOSTA, CNN NEWS ANCHOR: Welcome back to "BALLOT BOWL '08." I'm Jim Acosta coming to you live from the Poconos in the state of Pennsylvania, which is looming very large on the calendar on April 22nd. One of the big voting blocs out there for Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama is the women's voting bloc. And while you may think that Hillary Clinton has the vote all locked up, Barack Obama has made inroads with younger female voters.

Our very own Carol Costello takes a unique look at this dynamic by sitting down with a mother and daughter who are actually split on their choices of Obama or Clinton.


CAROL COSTELLO, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Clinton- Obama battle has spilled over to the home front pitting mothers against daughters. Meet Juana, a 60-something passionate supporter of Hillary Clinton, and her 30-something daughter, Lorenza, an ardent supporter of Barack Obama.

LORENZA MUNOZ, OBAMA SUPPORTER: We actually don't talk politic at the table anymore.


COSTELLO: Kwanza and Lorenza aren't alone. CNN exit polls from Ohio show an astounding split -- Barack Obama wooed young women voters in large numbers. Hillary Clinton handily won older women 71 percent-25 percent.

L MUNOZ: The reason I'm supporting Barack is that I think he stands for something new. He's -- he does, to me, signify hope.

COSTELLO: Lorenzo's mom doesn't quite get that. Hope is Hillary Clinton. Clinton's achievements in a man's world resonate with her, and do Clinton's feminist credentials, which were solidified for many women of Juana's generation when Hillary proved herself a strong person in her own right.

HILLARY CLINTON, (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I suppose I could have stayed home and baked cookies and made tea.

COSTELLO: Those words hit the right chord for a generation that fought for equality.

J. MUNOZ: She is a very, very intelligent person. She's very strong. and she really is prepared for the job. It will take a woman to really change the women issue.

COSTELLO: But many younger women think Clinton is admiral, but from a different time. They've told me Clinton's vote for the Iraq war is old school, as was Clinton's choice to remain with a husband who was unfaithful.

And Lorenza says Clinton's brand of traditional feminism seems old- school, too, since it seemed to focus on a single issue -- abortion.

L. MUNOZ: The feminist movement that she was a part of, her generation, to me has not addressed the bigger issues of my generation, which is that, you know, equal pay, which is the child care, which is flexibility on the job.

J. MUNOZ: Oh! You cannot believe how angry it makes me.

COSTELLO: So angry that after today, they'll go back to not talking politics until November. With this caveat, Lorenza knows full well if her candidate wins, conversation with mom still won't be easy.

L. MUNOZ: I think it's going to be very difficult. Barack is going to be have to be like better than 100. Because any little thing he does wrong, my mother's going to say, see, I told you!


COSTELLO: Just like a mom. I did ask Juana if she would taunt her daughter if Hillary Clinton wins the nomination. She says, no, she loves her daughter. She just happens to be wrong.

Carol Costello, CNN, Washington.

ACOSTA: Thanks very much, Carol.

We want to switch gears now and I'll toss it back to my colleague, Suzanne Malveaux, who is standing by in Chicago.

Obviously, Suzanne, you've been watching the Obama campaign over the weekend, and it has come to CNN some new information. Is that correct? Some information regarding that uproar over at Barack Obama's church in Chicago regarding some comments made by his former pastor, Jeremiah Wright?

MALVEAUX: That's absolutely right. The pastor, Jeremiah Wright, obviously has been preaching for decades. And there is a lot of controversy over the relationship, the association, between Barack Obama and his former pastor. There were some comments, some sermons, that came up that have been on the Internet, on television obviously, that are critical of the U.S. government.

Barack Obama has repudiated some of those comments, saying that if he had heard such comments, if he was sitting there in the pews, that he would not, if he had heard them repeatedly, stay within the congregation. But he decided because of his relationship with his pastor, some nearly 20 years or so -- this is someone who officiated his wedding, baptized his daughters, that he is compared to like an uncle -- that he felt that he did not need to leave the church, nor does he personally repudiate the man.

But he has made some comments distancing himself from the pastor, while clearly the pastor, as well as the Trinity United Church of Christ is hitting back defending Wright's comments, as well as the legacy of his service.

They just put out a statement from Chicago, it reads in part, "It's time for us to say 'no' to these attacks and declare that we will not allow anyone to undermine or destroy the ministries of any of our congregations in order to serve their own narrow political or ideological ends." Obviously, responding to Barack Obama's campaign, as well as perhaps media reports.

This is how Barack Obama addressed if just yesterday. Take a listen.


BARACK OBAMA, (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I strongly condemned the statements that have been shown on the tape. I have to confess that those are not statements that I ever heard when I was sitting in the pews at this church.


MALVEAUX: Now, I want to reiterate as well, spoken with some folks in the black ministry, black ministers who are very angry with Barack Obama. They feel they are denouncing him essentially, they feel that he has thrown his own former pastor under the bus, that this is a man who is a Biblical scholar, as Barack Obama had actually mentioned. And that this is somebody in the course of his ministry who has done incredible works, has an incredible reputation within the mainstream black American community, within the religious community, again from the statement from the United Church of Christ. They say it is an indictment on Dr. Wright's ministerial legacy to present his global ministry within a 15 or 30-second sound bite.

So, Jim, obviously this is a controversy that perhaps is not necessarily going to go away as Barack Obama and his campaign would like. They certainly would like to move forward. His closest aides saying put this behind them.

But there is certainly a sense of concern from some who look at those passages and believe that perhaps Barack Obama -- this reflects a certain criticism or feelings that he has towards his country. Barack Obama rejecting that.

And there is also another group, the group of black ministers and those from the church who believe that this is really patently unfair to his former pastor that he is being vilified in the media -- Jim?

ACOSTA: Suzanne, you have to wonder on the Obama campaign side whether or not they're going to greet this statement coming from Jeremiah Wright's former church with any sort of glee, because obviously they would like to move beyond this, and yet here we go with a statement coming from that church which sort of dredges it up all over again.

I heard Donna Brazile on one of the Sunday talk shows this morning saying, you know, this is not the first time that words have an uttered in a predominantly African-American church that might make white people uncomfortable.

And you seem to get that sense that that's what Jeremiah Wright's church is trying to say, is that, yes, from time to time things are said, but this is no big deal. But this is not something obviously that the Obama campaign wants to hear heading into this new week of campaigning.

Suzanne Malveaux, thank you very much.

That's going to have to wrap it up for this edition of "BALLOT BOWL." The time flies here on "BALLOT BOWL" and it's time for our time to come to an end.

We want to thank the folks at the Frenchman Manor in South Sterling, Pennsylvania, for providing us with this very dramatic backdrop of the Poconos. We've enjoyed bringing this to you throughout the day.

For now, I'm Jim Acosta in South Sterling, Pennsylvania. My colleague, Suzanne Malveaux, says so long from Chicago.

Coming up after the break on CNN, we'll bring you to the "CNN Newsroom." Stick with us. This is CNN.