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The Nevada Democratic Caucus; The South Carolina Republican Primary; Ballot Bowl: Candidates' Views in Their Own Words

Aired January 19, 2008 - 16:00   ET


ALI VELSHI, CNN SENIOR BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: ...there shift workers here within 2 1/2 miles of the Las Vegas strip.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Ali, thanks very much. We'll check back with you. You're doing some good reporting from the scene. I want to walk over to John King who's taking a closer look at the state of Nevada. These candidates out there. Show our viewers, give our viewers a basic idea about the state which has grown so incredibly over this past 20 years or so.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: One of the fastest growing state in the country states in the country and this is the state. Here's the map right here. Let's explain what we have. Here's the result as we know them right now.

Senator Clinton was 50 percent. Senator Obama was 45 percent. This is how the delegates would break down if the numbers stuck this way. But you see Senator Clinton is the lighter blue. Senator Obama is the darker blue. Let's clear this, this substitution. Look at the state map. If you look at the map of the state and say, wait a minute, if Senator Obama is the darker blue, he is winning so much more of the state, why is he trailing the vote?

And Senator Obama is winning out here. This is with a Washoe County, I hope I'm saying that about right. This is where Reno is, in the western part of the state, one of the large cities in the state of Nevada. But let's shrink the state down a little bit more and come down here where you were just talking to Ali Velshi. There are 2.6 million people in the state of Nevada, almost 2 million of them, 70 percent live right here.

Let's pull out Clark County. Remember, New Hampshire, how did Hillary Clinton win New Hampshire? Manchester, where the people are, she turned out the votes. Clark County, Nevada, that's where the people are. 1.7 million of the 2.6 million in the state, 71 percent of the people in Nevada live in that county.

And in that county, Senator Clinton right now is pulling in 56 percent of the vote to 42 percent for Barack Obama. So, he is winning more of the counties across the state but she is doing so far in Nevada what she did in New Hampshire, posting big margins where you find the voters.

BLITZER: That's where the people are, most of the population in and around Las Vegas which has grown tremendously over these years. And she's obviously doing well right there, if we take a look at Clark County, which is where Las Vegas. By the way, on, our viewers can go there and they can get precise information on how the candidates are showing up in all the counties in Nevada right now.

KING: Quick footnote. The green is not a big ranch. That's tied.

BLITZER: Oh, really. Is that what it is?

KING: That county is tied, why it's a different color green.

BLITZER: At 35 percent of the precincts reporting so far. And Hillary Clinton maintaining here lead, 50 percent, 45 percent for Barack Obama. Right now, John Edwards with only 5 percent. We'll continue to watch all of this. We're going to take another quick break. We're getting numbers, real numbers coming in from Nevada. Remember, still to come later today, South Carolina and the Republican primary, much more of our coverage coming up from the CNN Election Center.

We'll be right back.


BLITZER: More than half of the precincts in the state of Nevada have now reported at the Democratic caucuses there. Take a look at this, 51 percent of the precincts reporting. And Hillary Clinton maintaining her lead with 52 percent so far to Barack Obama's 44 percent, John Edwards with a disappointing 4 percent so far.

The numbers are coming in rather quickly right now. And we should be getting close to complete, complete reporting relatively soon. Because this process in Nevada, as you saw at that one caucus at Caesar's Palace, it takes a while, it takes about an hour or so. But the doors were closed more than an hour ago. And they should be wrapping up through out the state.

Hillary Clinton maintaining her lead, though, over Barack Obama right now. We're watching all of this very, very closely. And we're trying to get you all the numbers. If you want to look, by the way, and see what's happening on a county-by-county basis, you can go to You get a lot of information there and a lot of other information as well. 52 percent even as we're speaking now have reported.

And Hillary Clinton maintaining her lead over Barack Obama, 52 percent to 44 percent. Once again, John Edwards with 4 percent. John King, it looks, if you take a look at this, more than half the precincts reporting, this could be a good day for Hillary Clinton.

KING: It is not the big win she had in the polls months ago but it is a win she will be happy to get especially because of the way the unions out there broke late for Senator Obama. Contentious? You saw feisty inside the room. The finger pointing back and forth between the campaigns suggested as we move on to primary states where it's a different battle. Organization matters, money matters, television matters, not the same battle you're fighting inside the small caucus room but the bad blood between these two campaigns, hotly contested campaigns, let's assume, we'll make the call momentarily. We have a projection.

BLITZER: CNN is now projecting that Hillary Clinton, Hillary Clinton will win the Nevada caucuses. We make that projection on the basis of the actual votes that have been officially recorded, more than half of the precincts have reported, as well as our entrance polls. We conducted these entrance polls with people as they were going into the Democratic caucuses in Nevada. And we can now project that Hillary Clinton will emerge today as the winner of these caucuses in the state of Nevada.

It may not necessarily be as big a win as she might have originally liked, but a win is a win. And this is a win for Hillary Clinton. Barack Obama will come in second. John Edwards will come in a distant third. But a big day for Hillary Clinton, winning the Nevada caucuses. It sets the stage, though, now for next Saturday.

The Democrats will have their primary in the state of South Carolina. They will be moving their attention dramatically, quickly from Nevada today to South Carolina immediately, because the stakes in South Carolina will be significant as they go forward to super Tuesday, February 5th, where more than 20 states will be holding their primaries and caucuses.

Candy Crowley is watching all of this unfold for us. She's joining us from Las Vegas. Hillary Clinton and her team, they had an excellent organization out in the state of Nevada despite the fact that Barack Obama got that Culinary Workers' Union endorsement, she has managed to win, win in Nevada based on our projection, Candy.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. I think there are a couple of interesting things here. The Latino vote. It will be interesting to see from those exit polls if we can, how heavily they went to Hillary Clinton. We heard a lot of talk out here from both these candidates, reaching out to the Latino vote. There certainly was the feeling that it was much more Hillary Clinton's crowd than Barack Obama's.

Also what's going to be interesting, how much will Nevada have an effect on South Carolina? Barack Obama said a long time ago, if I can show the African-American community that I can win, then they will look much more favorably on my campaign, as you know, very early on the African-American community seemed more inclined to support Hillary Clinton. Those numbers have been changing in South Carolina. I will be fascinated to see how Nevada affects South Carolina if at all.

BLITZER: There's no doubt as important as South Carolina will be next week, this contest will continue at least and I say at least through Super Tuesday to see where that political dust settles.

CROWLEY: Absolutely. And I think, you know, we should also sort of bring in John Edwards here who at this point continues to say I'm going to be in all 50 states. He's doing another one of those fly- around to other states to prove that he's still in this game. And while he may be a factor in South Carolina, they no longer are predicting victory there in South Carolina.

Of course, it's where he was born. It's also the one state he won in the primary in 2004. So looking at this which must be disappointing to John Edwards, you've got to sit back and wonder where can he get a win and how long do you do this?

BLITZER: Hillary Clinton we're told did well among Hispanics in the state of Nevada. This was an important test for the Democrats. One of the reasons they moved Nevada up because it does have a significant Hispanic population unlike Iowa or New Hampshire. And clearly may must have turned out in significant numbers in her favor.

CROWLEY: Absolutely. And what was also interesting, we figured from the exit polls last time around, that about 10 percent of the vote here was Latino. While these candidates have been out here in Nevada, they have made a lot of forays into California where obviously the Latino vote will be very important, so that Hillary Clinton can pull sizable percentage of those Latino votes, says a lot about those February 5th states that are coming up, a lot about the interior west, in fact.

BLITZER: All right. Candy, thanks very much. We're going to get back to you. We're going to take a quick break but once again, the headline right now. CNN projects Hillary Clinton the winner in the Nevada caucuses. Earlier we projected that Mitt Romney is the winner of the Republican caucuses in Nevada. We're also be looking to see what happens in South Carolina later tonight when the Republican results from their primary begin to unfold, the polls closing in South Carolina there at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.

Bill Schneider is going through the entrance poll results, the entrance poll numbers, and we're going to get a breakdown on how Hillary Clinton managed to do this. John King has got the best political team on television. Much more of our coverage from the CNN Election Center when we come back.


BLITZER: Hillary Clinton wins the Nevada Democratic caucuses. We have projected that win here. The actual numbers that have come in, almost 60 percent of the precincts have reported, 59 percent to be precise. Hillary Clinton will be the winner. She's got 50 percent so far to Barack Obama's 45 percent. John Edwards very disappointing, only 5 percent for him.

Earlier, we projected that Mitt Romney will win the Republican caucuses in Nevada. Let's go to John King. He's got the best political team on television trying to assess what this means. Let's look forward now.

We've got a big Democratic presidential debate Monday night in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The three major Democratic presidential candidates will all be there. They're looking forward to next Saturday when the Democrats have their primary in South Carolina. Coming off the heels of Hillary Clinton's win today in Nevada, in New Hampshire more recently and then obviously Barack Obama's win in Iowa. The contest is still wide open. I don't think anybody can draw any other conclusions.

KING: You have a lot of homework to do, my friend. That's a big debate and a very big time in the Democratic race. To use Mitt Romney's vocabulary, Hillary Clinton has two goals, Barack Obama has won, heading into a state that is traditionally critical in the Republican contest but not unimportant to the Democratic contest because as we're watching what's happening out in Vegas today and across the state of Nevada, we're watching Latino voters have a big say for the first time and African-Americans to a lesser degree.

When we get to South Carolina, African-Americans will make, Donna Brazile, half the electorate maybe?

DONNA BRAZILE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: That is correct. Look, before we go to South Carolina, Nevada was the first big test for the Hispanic vote. Clearly the Hispanic vote is crucial. Winning Nevada, Arizona, Colorado as well as New Mexico. And the Democrats made the calculation and shift in the schedule to allow a major test in the west. That's the reason we chose Nevada as the first state in the west.

Now, shifting to South Carolina, African-Americans will comprise a great majority of the electorate. And right now things are very uneasy in the black community. I can tell just based on talking to my brother who now resides in Columbia. He's going in one direction and my sister-in-law in another direction. If their kids were old enough, I'm sure they would go in another direction. So, this is a key test, not just for the black test, but also a key test for the Democrats in terms of heading south.

KING: I want to visit with Gloria of the Democratic contest. Then I want to talk to you Bill because as we speak, in the last hour or so, we spent a lot of time in Nevada because of this close Democratic contest but there are Republicans voting in the state of South Carolina today. And a lot more coverage of that to come in the hours ahead. But on this Democratic contest now, you're John Edwards, you thought you would be the candidate of the labor unions.


KING: Senator Clinton wins there. Senator Obama comes out with a close second there. We move on to South Carolina. That's a state where John Edwards was born. He was the senator from North Carolina but he was born in South Carolina. He carried that state when he ran for president back before. Make or break? Do or die?

BORGER: Well, a lot of people would say so. If you talk to people in the Edwards campaign, they say no, they're going all the way. He's already accepted federal matching funds so he's not going to raise as much as the other folks are going to feel that they need to raise. Because he wouldn't be able to spend it anyway. So, there is some sense in his campaign, wait a minute, why don't we just stay in and continue to go the long haul because, a, they can wait for somebody else to drop out, or b, they can actually become a king-maker.

If this does go to the convention, and I know this is a dream on the part of all of us our journalists, but if this were to go to the convention and he goes in with 100 delegates or something like that, well then he can actually have some leverage. He can demand some things from whomever the nominee might be, and they may just want to play that game. After all, what does John Edwards have to do right now? He's a candidate.

KING: Does he help Senator Clinton by staying in longer, if the anti-Clinton vote if you will or the pro-change vote if you will?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR ANALYST: Absolutely. I think he is a gift to Hillary Clinton in this race. And because Hillary Clinton is the most famous woman in America. Most people have made up their minds whether they like her or not. So, then you go shopping for another candidate.

There are either two other candidates or one. And it's better for the opponents if there's one. I mean I think John Edwards, you know, he is a professional presidential candidate, that has been his occupation for almost ten years. So, he can do a few more weeks. But you know it's just not happening for him this year.

KING: Bill, let's go back to the Republican vote going on right now in South Carolina. We've talked a lot on every election night so far about the dispirited Republican party. South Carolina is the first state where it is the Republican party. It is a conservative state from top to bottom, east to west. Some of its is cultural evangelical conservatism, some of it is fiscal what is Washington doing with all these reckless spending conservatism. What will South Carolina tell us today?

BILL BENNETT, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I don't know if it's dispirited. I have a radio show. I heard a lot of passion. I think it's more divided than dispirited. Just a word about the Democrats, if she doesn't win, in my view, by more than ten points, I don't now it's much of a win.

Remember, she won in New Hampshire. Everybody made a big deal out of that. It was a big deal because people thought Obama was going to win. But what did she win by, two points. We are now going into South Carolina. Think of the buildup over the next week, the point about 50 percent black voters, the ranker that's in the air. This thing is very tricky and I think very explosive.

We will see, I think, an elimination of some of the field after tonight in South Carolina. McCain really needs to win, Huckabee really needs to win. Thompson absolutely has to win. If he doesn't, I think he's gone. So that one, but Giuliani is the guy who is watching this race hoping for a Huckabee win. Right now, it's obvious we don't know. But we'll know a lot and somebody will say bye-bye after this.

KING: It's funny you mention Rudy Giuliani because while we were talking earlier, I got an e-mail from his campaign about a tour of the Everglades he took today and that sometimes is like a parallel universe. We're talking about the other Republican candidates in all these other states and Rudy Giuliani is in Florida.

TOOBIN: He's going to Disney World every day.

KING: He is either brilliant or has run the what will quickly be called the worst Republican campaign in modern-day history but we're not going to find that out for...

BENNETT: ... Overalls in Iowa. You had the workers in Las Vegas and you got Rudy in a safari. but we shall see. He has life if McCain loses. If McCain doesn't lose, McCain is right now ahead in Florida in these polls and ahead in California. You want more momentum for those polls, win in South Carolina.

KING: So a critically important Republican vote underway in South Carolina right now. The presidential primary there, Hillary Clinton winning the Democratic caucus out in Nevada. Close, Bill Bennett says but I bet she'll take a win by two points or three points or four. We'll be back with a lot of coverage still to come. The CNN "Ballot Bowl" coming up this afternoon. Extensive coverage of the South Carolina primary later tonight. Stay with us, our coverage will be back after a quick break.


BLITZER: Hillary Clinton wins the Democratic Nevada caucuses. Take a look at this, 70 percent of the precincts officially reported, Hillary Clinton with 51 percent to Barack Obama's 45 percent, John Edwards with only 4 percent.

We have projected that Hillary Clinton will win based on these actual numbers coming in as well as the entrance polls on the Republican side as we've been reporting all day now for at least the last couple hours. The winner, Mitt Romney, he will win the Republican caucuses in Nevada. Let's talk a little bit about the Democrats, how Hillary Clinton did it tonight. Bill Schneider is looking closely at the entrance polls. Bill, tell us what we're seeing.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: We're seeing some deep divisions within the Democratic party in the race between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Certainly, gender is one of them. Women did vote heavily for Hillary Clinton. But it's not just gender. Take a look at African-American voters. There are about 15 percent of the voters in the Nevada caucuses. They went about 5-1 for Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton, 5 to 1. The two candidates were once very competitive among black voters, but now Obama clearly dominated.

Here is the important Hispanic vote. That's why this caucus was held early in Nevada. Take a look at Hispanic voters, they went very solidly, about three to one for Hillary Clinton over Barack Obama. So, we're seeing a very sharp division here between African-Americans for Obama and Latino voters for Hillary Clinton.

Here is the division that hasn't gotten a lot of attention, but it's very real. Among voters under 45, the vote was very strongly 48 to 34 for Obama. But among older voters, we're seeing a general racial split, among older voters who are over 45, Hillary Clinton dominated the vote. She carried it 54 to 33 percent. So in some we're seeing divisions among Democrats that are very sharp, gender, race, generation. These splits are real and they seem to be growing, Wolf.

BLITZER: A win is a win for Hillary Clinton. I'm sure she'll be thrilled that she managed to get that win in Nevada. Right now to set the stage for next Saturday in South Carolina. Thank you, Bill for that breakdown. We're watching all of this closely. I want to update you on what's going on in the Republican side in Nevada right now.

We've projected that Mitt Romney the former governor of Massachusetts will win, right now with 38 percent of the precincts on the Republican side reporting, he's got 54 percent. Ron Paul so far is coming in second place with 13 percent. John McCain with 13 percent as well. It's very close, that battle between McCain and Paul. Huckabee 8 percent. Take a look at the actual numbers so far, 13,819 for Romney. Ron Paul, 3,286 to John McCain's 3,273, a tiny, tiny margin. Huckabee with 1,926, Fred Thompson, 1,885. Giuliani, only 1,118.

All right. That's on the Republican side. We're only a few hours away from the polls closing in South Carolina. 7:00 p.m. eastern. We're watching all of this very closely. This is a critical contest John, John King, and the best political team on television, what's unfolding in South Carolina right now. They're still voting.

KING: Yes, still voting in the Republican side in a critical race. Got a couple of minutes left. Let's have a final thought from everybody. Bill, I want to start with you and the idea that Mitt Romney wins in Nevada, a, does it matter in South Carolina at all? Because if you're hearing the results of the vote does it matter in the big picture or does it matter only if this becomes a long extended delegate chase?

BENNETT: Sure it matters, because it is already an extended delegate chase. It's a longer race than a lot of people thought, and certainly a longer race than Romney predicted. But I want those number on that Republican turnout because the adjustive we've heard is dispirited. If we got a lot of Republicans, I wanted you all to take it all back.

KING: We'll crunch those numbers before we come back tonight. We'll see if it's possible that more Republicans may have caucus in Nevada than Democrats. We will look at those numbers as we go. Donna Brazile, Bill Bennett saying it's a very close win for Hillary Clinton in Nevada.

If my patriots win by two tomorrow I'll be happy. But should she be happy? BRAZILE: Well, absolutely. Look, Bill Clinton carried the state in 1992, 1996. Hillary Clinton has spent the last three days talking about the economic stimulus program that she has put in place. She also criticized Barack Obama for saying nice things about, you know, Ronald Reagan. There's no nostalgia in the Democratic party for Ronald Reagan.

So, I think Hillary Clinton may have benefited from not just, you know, the love that people have for Bill Clinton, but also criticizing Obama in the last 24 hours about his support for Ronald Reagan.

TOOBIN: There's only one primary left before Super Tuesday for the Democrats. South Carolina, Barack Obama better get on a plane there and campaign for an entire week. Because that's where it all is for him.

KING: There are two for the Republicans, and one is underway at this moment.

BORGER: Right. It's very, very important, particularly, I think for John McCain, South Carolina tonight is going to be really important for him. Because a lot of those people are his people, veterans, military families. He's campaigning on his experience and his ability to lead the country in a time of war. We'll see how that resonates in the south. Very, very important for him tonight.

BRAZILE: We also need to talk about women when we come back. Because older women are showing up in droves for Hillary Clinton, also unmarried women. That's (INAUDIBLE) as well.

BENNETT: A serious black candidate for president of the United States is saying through people, including his own party members, embrace part of the Reagan memory and the Reagan legacy. I think this is actually Martin Luther King's dream about a color blindness that he's being punished for it and tell you there's no people in the Democratic party that have to grow up.

KING: Wolf, join the gray beards over here. You've been at this a while, looking at these races. We've never seen anything like this in our lifetime, where South Carolina in the last few Republican contested primaries, has sealed the deal. Now it might winnow the field, but this is going to go on for a little bit.

This Democratic race, the once inevitable Hillary Clinton now in a fight, a fierce fight with Senator Obama.

BLITZER: Fair to say, I think all of us agree it's going on at least through February 5th on the Republican and the Democratic side. It may go on even longer on both sides. So get ready, fasten your seat belts. We have a lot of action going on.

Let me go over to South Carolina right now. Mary Snow is on the scene for us in Columbia, South Carolina. Mary, we're only a few hours away from when the polls close in South Carolina. I can hear the rain behind you. This is going to be a very, very exciting night for a lot of Republicans.

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It will be and a crucial night, Wolf. As you mentioned, you can hear the rain. We have a tent over us. It has been steadily raining throughout the day. In some areas of South Carolina it's been snowing. It's been pretty cold here. Is that going to have a big effect on turnout? Both Mike Huckabee and Senator John McCain expressed today that they were concerned about the weather hurting turnout.

One of the things that has also happened in these late hours is that there were problems this morning in Orlee (ph) County with voting machines malfunctioning. The campaign of Senator John McCain is looking to get a late court order to extend polling hours in that county because people were showing up and being given paper ballots. The McCain camp says people were given scraps of paper in order to vote. They are looking for a judge to do this.

The county is saying that about 80 percent of these machines are back functioning. The head of the Republican party in the state said he was confident everything would be worked out. That's still a little bit in limbo and this wild card of the weather. We did hear some earlier reports from South Carolina Election Commission that voter turnout had been study in some of the north-western counties that are very conservative, and the feeling was that people were trying to get to the polls before the snow moved in.

Certainly, with all the campaigning for this fierce fight, this is one thing that perhaps nobody expected. In that Orlee County, also Wolf, I just want to mention, Senator John McCain had done very well there in 2000. He is counting on all the counts votes he can get. This is such a crucial state for him.

BLITZER: Those polls close in less than two and a half hours in Columbia, South Carolina, indeed, throughout the entire state of South Carolina, unless McCain gets his wishes and the court order allows some of those precincts to stay open a little longer because of the malfunction of some of the election -- the polling systems earlier in the day. Apparently, they ran out of paper ballots as well.

We'll watch all of this together with you and our whole team in South Carolina. It's getting exciting out there as well. We're going to be on top of all of these stories. Remember, the Democrats have their big contest next Saturday in South Carolina. Monday night our own big Democratic presidential debate, co-sponsored with the Congressional Black Caucus Institute. That's Monday night, 8:00 p.m. Eastern. I want to remind our viewers of that.

We have a lot more coverage coming up. We'll be here at the CNN Election Center all night watching this process unfold. We'll take a quick break. Much more of our coverage with the CNN Ballot Bowl. In fact, that starts right now.

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to Ballot Bowl, our opportunity to show you the candidates speaking in their own words and unedited. Welcome to our viewers in the U.S. and around the world with CNN International. I'm Jessica Yellin in Las Vegas, where today both Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and former Governor Mitt Romney can breathe big sighs of relief. Both of them are the projected winners of today's Nevada caucuses, a big relief especially for Senator Clinton because on the Democratic side, they invested more time an energy here than on the Republican side.

The tie-breaker here went to Senator Hillary Clinton, putting the pressure on Barack Obama. I'm joined by Dana Bash, who is in South Carolina, where the voting is still underway. Dana, it's a neck in neck race there.

DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's a neck and neck race here. On the Republican side, there's a lot of questions about whether or not you're going to have the kind of tie-breaker you saw on the Democratic side just a short while ago in Nevada, because in the Republican race, it is incredibly scrambled right now.

You're having the voting going on for about nine and a half hours now to determine whether or not John McCain will get momentum, whether or not Mike Huckabee will get momentum, or whether or not Fred Thompson will come back from pretty much nowhere, in terms of where his campaign has been.

All these indicators make this quite a dramatic race today here in South Carolina. I'm at a polling station in Charleston, South Carolina, where we're seeing some slow and study turnout. One of the factors we're looking at all day today is the weather.

The South Carolina weather is nothing short of atrocious today. There is cold rain and a lot of the state, especially here in Charleston, in the western part of the state, in the Greenville area, and in more of the conservative mountain area, frankly, it is -- there's been concern about some snow all day.

You talk to Mike Huckabee, talk to John McCain and pretty much everybody who really has everything at stake here in South Carolina, they're very much concerned about the weather.

We've also had some voting irregularities here. You know, the Republican here, Jessica, who was not here, was over where you are in Nevada -- that is Mitt Romney; he's been on the air here in South Carolina, but he decided to be in place in Nevada. And it turns out, if you saw the results there, it did pretty good for him.

YELLIN: It certainly did help him here. He had an advantage, everyone thought, going in. He saw it. He came here to visit, the only Republican to spend some time here recently, to capitalize on that. It certainly delivered results. As I understand it, and you might know more about this, they don't really get those delegates, the Republican side, for some time. They have to go through a few hoops before he gets it.

I would imagine that this vote for Mitt Romney here, it gives him some momentum going forward into the next Republican primaries for him. Would you agree? BASH: Absolutely. The McCain campaign is already calling what Mitt Romney saw as quite a victory in Nevada a beauty contest for that reason. He certainly won the caucuses, but the delegates aren't going to be in place until the end of April. Really, what this is about for Mitt Romney right now, he says, is trying to gobble up as many delegates as he can.

What is interesting about what we're trying to do today, Jessica, and we have been doing this at CNN for the past several weekends, is to talk about these races, particularly on big, big days like today where we have voting in South Carolina and Nevada. But also to try to show you the candidates as we get to see them in covering them on this, to see them in an unfiltered, to hear them in an unscripted way, as they're talking to the voters themselves.

We talked about John McCain. John McCain really has so much at stake here in South Carolina. He lost this state in the year 2000 and it essentially put an end to his campaign against George W. Bush. He, this time around, has a lot of the Republican establishment behind him. He's campaigning on a number of issues, primarily his military record, with the veteran-rich population here in South Carolina. He's been campaigning on fiscal responsibility, talking over and over about the need to cut spending.

Recently, just like every other candidate, he has been talking about the economy, coming out with one of his own stimulus plans the other day. His big rally, his closing argument, was last night in Yorktown, South Carolina. His closing argument was on the economy. It was on his position on the war. Let's listen to what he told voters, the very last chance he had a chance to tell them to vote for him.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Our economy is going through tough times. We all know that. My friends, nothing is inevitable in this life. Nothing is without our ability to change it. Why are we having the difficulties we are? There's a number of problems, but the biggest problem, the biggest source of the problem and the things we've got to fix is that we have let spending get completely out of control. And we have gone on a spending spree which has mortgaged your children's features. It's got to stop.

It's got to stop. And we start with the pork barrel ear mark spending, which has become an epidemic and it has spread corruption in Washington, D.C. I don't say that lightly because there are former members of Congress residing in federal prison. We've got to stop it.

We Republicans that came to power in 1994 to change government and government changed us. The president just signed into a law a couple of weeks ago a spending bill with 9,200 pork barrel projects on it worth 17 billion dollars of your money.

My friends, that's disgraceful. It makes you laugh and it makes you cry. My friends, we spent three million dollars a couple years ago to study the DNA of bears in Montana. I don't know if that was a paternity issue or a criminal issue. But you know -- let me just mention, Ronald Reagan, our beloved Ronald Reagan, used to say Congress spends money like a drunken sailor, only he never knew a sailor, drunk or sober --


BASH: You're listening to a tape of John McCain yesterday. We now have a live signal of Mitt Romney who, of course, is the winner of the Nevada caucuses, already in the next contest state for him of Florida. Let's listen.


MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: One other state that will be key, the state we're in right now, Florida. If you can win those two states, Michigan and Nevada, it means you put together quite a coalition and been able to make the kind of inroads you have to make to take the White House. It's huge for us. We're very, very pleased.

I'd also note that this is a campaign that does intend to participate across the country, and we're not concentrating just on one region or a few states. We made an effort to get to all the early states. We'll make our best effort to get to the other key states in the days that follow. Although, Super Duper Tuesday is a difficult day to get 22 states. We're going to be working hard.

ANNE ROMNEY, WIFE OF MITT ROMNEY: We've got the five boys.

ROMNEY: We've got the five boys and Anne. We'll be working hard. I do believe that our message is also the message that will connect with the voters here in Florida. What you see in Nevada and Michigan, Iowa, New Hampshire, Wyoming, the first five states that we've really concentrated on so far, is that people are very concerned about what's happening globally. But they're also concerned about what's happening here at home.

They want to know how our economy is going to be strengthened, both short term and long term. Today, I announced a plan, which I would like to see enacted within the next 30 days, to provide stimulus to our economy on a short-term basis, as well as ignite long-term growth for the American economy.

It calls for three major features. One is helping the housing market by loosening and relaxing some of the requirements of the FHA program so more loans can be guaranteed and more people can stay in their homes without having them foreclosed. Number two, a very substantial investment to allow businesses to invest in capital expenditures and to expense those capital expenditures 100 percent for the next two years, which is a very substantial boost to purchases of equipment and other goods for capital -- for these companies. And that will stimulate the growth of companies that supply equipment to them.

And number three is help for individual consumers and specifically lowering the tax rate, the marginal tax rate at the entry level of our tax rate, from 10 percent to seven and a half percent. We'll do that not only for '08 year, but also put a refund in place for the '07 year, so that people will get a check for '07 -- excuse me, for '07 in April of '08, which would average approximately 400 dollars.

And I'm delighted that we have the opportunity to talk about this at a time which is timely. Our economy was strong last quarter. The growth was strong. But indications are that the economy is slowing down and that action, if taken now, could well avert a potential recession.

As we come here to Florida, we're going to be talking about our short-term plan to stimulate our economy, our long-term plan to keep America strong, and to make sure that our economy continues to lead the world, that we have great jobs for our kids. You'll hear me say, time and time again, that Washington is broken, that it can't get the job done. It has not gotten the job done in the past.

Now is the time, with regards to this economy heading for a potential economic downturn, that it has to move aggressively and quickly. There are many other issues that also have to be solved. That includes everything from getting health care for our citizens that's affordable and portable to improving our schools, to solving the problem of run-away spending in Washington, to finding ourselves finally on a track to becoming energy independent, and to abiding by high ethical standards in Washington.

There's a lot of work to be done. Our campaign is focused on bringing change to Washington. One of those changes we'd like to see immediately is a 30-day turn around on an economic stimulus plan.

So with that, a lot of topics covered. Thanks to the folks in Nevada for their great support. We look forward to getting the support of the people in Florida as well.


ROMNEY: You know, I don't know that I have any particular reflections. I'll let other people take a look at those things. I made a number of comments -- see?

Maybe he wants to say something. I think it was pointed out to me that I won in Nevada among evangelicals as well, according to the exit polls. I think based on the calculation, if no members of my faith had turned out at all, I still would have won in Nevada. I'm happy to have their support. I wouldn't want them to be disappointed that I didn't appreciate their support.

I won among Hispanic Americans, which is a very big statement for my campaign, very pleased I got that kind of support. And I expect that this campaign will cross ethnic and religious and gender lines, and will generate the support that I need to win the nomination.


ROMNEY: I'd love to win Florida, of course. It's a very big state with a lot of delegates. I care very much about Florida. I would note that other candidates and campaigns also spent some time in Wyoming and Nevada. And as for my home field advantage in Michigan, going in with a week to go, as I recall, I was behind in those polls. People looking at my home field advantage, who were my competitors in the race, pointed out that it had been 41 years since I had been there and I didn't really have a home field advantage.

Then when I won, they seemed to recognize that there was a huge home field advantage. I think the reason I won in Michigan was because our campaign there connected with the concerns of the people in the state. I don't think there's any question but the economy was the issue that drove my vote in Michigan and allowed people to come together and say, you know what, our campaign and I, in particular, have experience in the private sector. I understand how jobs come and go. I'll bring that experience to Washington and help us at a time when, as we face challenges around the world and domestically, you have to have a strong economy with good jobs to be able to stand up to our needs around the world.

So I reject the premise. I think we competed in all three states on a pretty aggressive basis. But I do acknowledge how important it is to win here in Florida and how much I'd like to win here. My guess is, so would everybody else.

We're all neck in neck in Florida from what I hear. And you're going to see a lot of campaigning going on in the next several days as we get ready for the 29th of January and hope to get the support here that would be of particular help as well, getting ready for February 5th thereafter.


ROMNEY: You know, I think, as I said, there will always be some people whose vote will be shaped by the faith of the candidate. I don't think that's the majority of people in the country. That may play a bigger role in some states than others and I acknowledge that. That's just part of the American experience. It's not something I encourage, by any means. It's not something I welcome, obviously, in a state like Iowa.

But nonetheless, that's just the way things are. I think most people in Iowa and New Hampshire and across the country vote based upon the experience and the vision and the leadership capacity of the candidate and not based upon their religion. There will be some who focus on religion, and that's just the way things are.


BASH: Now you hear Mitt Romney, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, fresh off his victory in Nevada. Very telling as to his strategy that I guess his victory speech of sorts was given not in Nevada, but in the next contest state that is crucial for him and every other Republican candidate, and that is the state of Florida.

We'll update our viewers on what the results are so far out of that Republican Nevada caucus; 53 percent so far -- with about 38 percent reporting, 53 percent going to Mitt Romney, Ron Paul 13 percent. He is tied with John McCain, also at 13 percent. Now, these delegates are not going to be formally announced or formally dedicated to the Republican convention until the end of April. Nonetheless, Mitt Romney is definitely declaring this caucus in Nevada, his victory there, a very big win for him as he tries to get as many delegates and wins as possible.

Mitt Romney is also on the ballot here in South Carolina. South Carolina is now in the midst of its Republican primary. We have just over two hours to go until most of the polls close here in South Carolina. It is absolutely crucial to -- perhaps beginning to sort out what has been a very scrambled, exciting, but very scrambled Republican race, with John McCain and Mike Huckabee likely vying for the top spot, with Fred Thompson also very much in the mix here, of course, Mitt Romney as well.

We're going to have a lot more for you in the hours to come. We are going to have live events from Rudy Giuliani in the next hour. We'll hear also from John Edwards, who is going to be coming to us from Georgia. All of that and much, much more as BALLOT BOWL continues. Stay with us.


YELLIN: Welcome back to BALLOT BOWL, where we give you an unedited look at some of the candidates' statements in their own words, so you can hear how they're talking to voters on the campaign trail. I'm Jessica Yellin here in Las Vegas, where there has just been a big victory here for Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, after coming out of New Hampshire with one win, facing Barack Obama with his own win in Iowa.

Today, she had the tie-breaking vote go to her. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton won the caucuses here in Nevada. CNN has projected that. A big relief for Senator Clinton and puts the pressure on Barack Obama as he looks ahead to South Carolina. It's now becoming a must-win state for him.

A lot of talk here in the past week about some brass knuckle tactics here at some of the casinos. The Culinary Workers Union, which represents so many of the shift workers who staff these casinos, there union endorsed Barack Obama, and there had been complaints in the local papers that they were being strong-armed or told they had to caucus for Barack Obama.

The Obama campaign refuted that aggressively, said it was just flat-out wrong. There were accusations on the other side that Senator Clinton was trying to suppress the vote. None of the dirty nasty tactics -- or the talk seemed to be what drove people in the end. What we heard when we talked to folks was concern about the economy and who would be the most credible and sort of competent leader in the White House.

Also, I should note, a huge popularity contest here for Bill Clinton. Bill Clinton went casino to casino in the past few days, shaking hands with these same shift workers. He was greeted by people who were so enthusiastic. They talked about remembering the Clinton years as a time when the economy was strong and the nation was not at war. Would not be surprised if in the coming days the analysis is Bill Clinton had a major hand in delivering this for Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.

But, of course, the campaigning goes on. It is not anywhere close to done. Clinton, Obama, and Edwards all in this race. John Edwards saying he's not getting out any time soon. He is staying well through February 5th. He was campaigning in Atlanta earlier today. Let's listen to the arguments he was making before a group of voters.


JOHN EDWARDS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We need a president who calls on Americans to sacrifice, who says we are in this together. We have to conserve in our homes and our workplaces. We have to drive different kinds of vehicles if we're going to meet our moral responsibility to our children and grandchildren. And when are we going to have a president who says we've had enough of NAFTA and CAFTA and these trade deals that have cost America millions of jobs?

We need a president who asks, is this trade proposal good for working middle class families, not, is it good for the profits of big corporations. By the way, when I'm president, we're going to close these tax loopholes that give tax breaks to American companies sending jobs overseas. That will come to an end.

And what are we going to do to lift up America's low income families? This is a huge moral issue facing this country; 37 million Americans who wake up in poverty every day. Dr. Martin Luther King, one of the last things he did was his poor people's campaign. It was the heart and soul of what he believed. I was in Marks, Mississippi just a few months ago on a poverty campaign, poverty tour myself, and went to some of the places that Dr. King had been, including with some of the people who had been there. In many ways, some things had not changed.

We still have work to do in America. We do. And this is a moral issue facing America and the rest of the world. What do we need to do? The Congress finally raised the minimum wage. It's going to 7.25 an hour. It's great. That's not enough. We need to go to 9.50 an hour. It ought to be indexed to go up on its own.

The greatest anti-poverty movement in American history is the organized labor movement. We've got to change the law to make it easier -- very simple, if you can join the Republican party by signing your name to a card, any worker in America ought to be able to join a union by doing the same thing.

And when it becomes necessary for the union to go out on strike and walk that picket line, when I'm president, nobody will walk through that picket line and take their jobs away from them.

We also need -- we need a national predatory payday lending law that cracks down on these predators that are preying on our most vulnerable families. We need to do something about the abusive practices of credit card companies, who, the best I can tell -- the best I can tell, they'll give a credit card to a cat.

We have a responsibility to regulate their behavior. We need to make it easier for kids to go to college. So many young people -- so many young people are faced with such enormous challenges, paying for college. Then if they're able to go, they come out with this crushing burden of debt, so many of our young people are faced with.

My idea is called College for Everyone, where we say to every young person in America, if you're willing to work ten hours a week when you're in college, America pays your books and tuition at a state university or community college.

And we -- by the way, we can pay for this by just getting rid of the big banks as the intermediaries between the government and student loan recipients. Four or five billion dollars a year goes to the big banks.

And here is a radical idea, how about having a president of the United States that actually believes in the United States constitution and the Bill of Rights? When I am sworn in as president, I will close Guantanamo, which is a national embarrassment. There will be no more rendition, no more secret prisons. There will be no more illegal spying on the American people by the president of the United States.

And there will also be -- there will be no more debate in America about what kind of torture is permissible. No torture is permissible in America or by the United States of America. We're going to actually restore America's ability to lead in the world again, where America is once again the light, where we're the example of what's possible, where the rest of the world looks to the United States of America and says, America, that's who we want to be like.