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Preview of the Democratic National Convention in Denver
Aired August 23, 2008 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: We're here at the Pepsi Center in Denver. This is the home of the Democratic National Convention. The formal activities begin on Monday, but lots of people are already here. They're getting ready. Everything is set inside the Pepsi Center for what is expected to be four days of excitement, all designed to get Barack Obama and Joe Biden elected as the next president and vice president of the United States.
I'm Wolf Blitzer, we're reporting. Anderson Cooper is here with us. We have the best political team on television, including Gloria Borger, Hillary Rosen, John King. They're here on the floor of the Pepsi Center. With us at the CNN election center In New York, Ed Rollins is standing by with I'm Amy Holmes and Carl Bernstein. Also joining us, Leslie Sanchez, David Gergen, Roland Martin. We have reporters on the floor, our Suzanne Malveaux.
Right now, let's go out to Springfield, Illinois. Candy Crowley was there when there was this joint appearance earlier today, the Democratic presidential candidate and the Democratic vice presidential candidate. They both spoke, Barack Obama introducing Joe Biden. This is their only joint appearance, Candy, before they both come here to Denver later in the week. And it was an exciting day for a lot of Democrats.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. And it's one of those things where they knew in the Obama camp they just needed this one event. What they wanted was a two-day push into the convention, something to really excite the delegates, get things moving. It's why they held on to this for so long, knowing that vice presidential picks may not have a very long shelf life in terms of the news. So they specifically planned this for Saturday and for Sunday.
They believe that Joe Biden fills a lot of needs. We have talked a lot about his foreign policy resume, about his working class roots. But the vice presidential selection usually comes at a perfect time. Think about it, it has been June since Barack Obama became the presumptive nominee. In between then and now, it's been just a series of speeches, many of them the same speeches, and they knew what they need of course was excitement. That's why you have a vice presidential selection.
Joe Biden proved he is going to have the energy to do this. You do want to keep up the excitement level. He literally sprinted down the cat walk as he was introduced by Barack Obama, coming in very robust. The other thing you need is, of course, what we've talked about, an attack dog. But you also need a lot of passion and Joe Biden delivers that. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Barack Obama and I believe -- we believe with every fiber in our being that our families, our communities, as Americans, there's not a single solitary challenge we cannot face if we level with the American people. And I don't say that to say it. History -- history has shown it. When have Americans ever, ever, ever, ever, ever let their country down when they have had a leader to lead them?
Ladies and gentlemen, we believe that our tomorrows will be better than our yesterdays, and we believe we'll pass on to our children an even better life than the one we lived. That literally has been the American way. And it can be that way again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CROWLEY: One of the things they are trying to do here, and I think we saw it play out in these two speeches, is they're trying to tell the story of two very different men, one raised in Scranton, Pennsylvania, the oldest son of a white working class family, the other raised by a single mom, half white, half black, raised mostly in Hawaii. But what they're trying to sell is one story; listen, we're the American dream standing up here. We're in Springfield, Missouri, the presumptive presidential candidate, the vice presidential candidate. That's the dream we want to deliver back to you.
So you will see that theme whether you are with Joe Biden or with Barack Obama. You will see that theme played out over the next -- I've lost count, Wolf, I'm sure you probably know, 80 or so days until the election.
BLITZER: I'm counting every single one of them until November 4th, Candy. Joe Biden, I take it, he goes back to Wilmington, Delaware to write his speech for Wednesday night. Barack Obama, what does he do to get ready for his big speech Thursday night when he accepts the nomination?
CROWLEY: He is taking a tour through some of the battleground states. He will be in Wisconsin. He's also going to Montana, trying to sort of put a stake there for Democrats. As you know, Barack Obama really has high hopes for the interior west. It has been pretty solidly red presidential territory for a very long time. Montana also one of those states that has gone Republican in so many past elections. But they now have a Democratic governor, Democratic senators. They really see a possibility there. The electoral map, Barack Obama really wants to change it. So he will visit some of these states en route to the convention, Wolf.
BLITZER: Candy, we'll be watching him every step of the way on the way to Denver. Candy, thanks very much. Anderson, it's interesting that Barack Obama sort of took the high road in his speech today. He really didn't go after John McCain. But Joe Biden did and the basic theme he was making, which the Democrats have been trying to do with sort of mixed results so far, is if you like eight years of George Bush, you'll love another four years of John McCain. That's the message he kept harping on over and over again.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Clearly, trying to make the idea of a McCain administration a third term for a Bush administration. It was also interesting the way Joe Biden went after John McCain, almost -- clearly, he wanted to, but he did it in a way that overtly was reluctant. He said John McCain is a great friend of mine. He's a great patriot. He's served our country well. It's sad to see what's been happened to him over the course of this campaign.
BLITZER: Yes, this is not really the John McCain that I know and loved.
COOPER: It was an interesting way to attack John McCain.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: That's why they picked him. I mean, this thing that Biden is known for is being able to kind of slice you with a smile on his face and that's what he did.
COOPER: A happy warrior?
BORGER: Happy warrior.
HILLARY ROSEN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: He gave particular red meat to Democratic partisans who are going to be here this week. Democrats love to beat up on the right wing. And when Joe Biden went out there and said John McCain gave in to the right wing of his party to become the nominee. This is a guy who's pro-choice, who's pro-gay, who's got a long history of support for women. Democrats are going to love that this week. Him attacking John McCain on his values.
COOPER: In some ways, John, it's an untraditional choice, in that the usual calculus on a vice presidential pick might even be of a person from a state that's in contention, that they need to win that particular state. Joe Biden doesn't really -- he comes from Delaware, it is not really in play.
JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: It's about a blue as blue can get. And let's walk over to the map, take a look at it. They're picking him for the bigger challenge, the credibility, the character, the blue collar appeal. Let's look at the electoral map and make that point. Here's where we have it right now in our CNN calculation. Right now, before the Democratic convention, we have 221 electoral votes that we say are leaning Obama's way. You need to 270 to win the White House; 189 leaning McCain's way.
The states that are yellow are our tossup states. I want to go through them, because I think it's interesting to see. We knew one of the people on the short list was Tim Kaine, the governor of Virginia, 13 electoral voters there. That state voted for George W. Bush twice, trending Democratic, but if they had picked that governor, they might have swung that. Barack Obama decided not to make that calculation.
Out here, the state of Indiana, Senator Evan Bayh also passed over. Eleven electoral votes that have gone Republican for quite some time. Again, Barack Obama not making the calculation to go for a single state play. Move out here as well to the state of Kansas, only six electoral votes, but Kathleen Sebelius, the governor of Kansas, also on the list, another state Barack Obama could have tried to just pick out of the Republican basket.
Instead, he takes Joe Biden from Delaware, which has been reliably blue for some time. Again, we all know the first and foremost priority is to try to keep Pennsylvania, 21 electoral votes. It is a huge piece of the basket if you're the Democrats trying to get to 270. It's in play right now. I'm told one recent poll has it at three or four points. Joe Biden, they want to shore up their support there. But in a way, that's a sign of weakness, if you're fighting for Pennsylvania's 21 votes and you're a Democrat.
They're also hoping that he can go here into West Virginia. Al Gore would be president of the United States had he won West Virginia. He lost it. He couldn't keep it. It has turned Republican for George W. Bush twice. That's one of the targets, also Ohio, where they very much hope to take Ohio away in blue collar communities. Ohio has been trending toward John McCain. That's a troubling sign for the Democrats at this pivotal moment. When they come to their convention, they're trying to reset the trend.
Right now, the trend has been toward McCain, still favoring Obama, but trending towards John McCain. This convention is about stopping it, reversing it and trying to get a bounce. And they're hoping Joe Biden is a part of that.
COOPER: I want to bring in David Gergen, who has been listening to John. Do you agree that what Joe Biden brings is sort of more of an overall image, and overall support to Barack Obama?
DAVID GERGEN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, I do, Anderson. I think it was -- to frame it, it was really a choice about winning an election through governing rather than through a particular state. The old politics was very much find somebody who can bring in a state. John Kennedy superbly brought in Lyndon Johnson in 1961, Texas, won the election.
But since 1992 -- Bill Clinton was the first one who went for a different type of candidate. In choosing Al Gore, he chose someone was in the state next door, in Tennessee, from Arkansas, and he choice him because he would change the overall perception of the ticket, not because of the territory, not because of the geography. And when George W. Bush asked Dick Cheney to come on, remember Wyoming only had three electoral votes, very safe for George W. Bush. But Dick Cheney on the ticket at that time really helped shore up George W. Bush and filled in the holes in his resume. And I think that's what's happening here with Biden.
And instead of going for the state, going for the particular electoral votes, he -- Barack Obama went for someone who could help him with the overall perception. Go back to Ed Rollins point, does it win the Catholic vote? No. Does it win the white vote? No. He's not going to win those. What Barack Obama needs to do is to raise the percentages some among all the groups that he is now losing, and that combined with what he already has could put him over the top. I think that's the point that John King was making earlier, that John Kerry did lose the Catholic vote, but he won Pennsylvania, and his Catholicism helped him in Pennsylvania.
COOPER: We're going to have a lot more with David Gergen and our entire panel coming up, live from the Pepsi Center in Denver. We'll be right back.
BLITZER: Welcome back. We're back here inside the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado, at the Democratic National Convention, which begins on Monday, though lots of people are already here getting ready, including our own Suzanne Malveaux. She's on the floor. She's roaming around. You're in an area that is critically important for the Democrats and the Republicans, for that matter, Suzanne, Florida, a state that holds potentially the key to who will be the next president of the United States. They have pretty good prime real estate here on the floor of the convention, Suzanne.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf, it's really no accident that we're front and center. This is the section for the Florida delegation. You can see very close to the front stage where people have been setting up, checking the secret service. We actually got a chance to see Obama's chief of staff, Michelle Obama, her own chief of staff, walking around taking a look at the scene, getting ready, obviously, for the big convention.
As you know, you and I spent a lot of time in the Florida recount back in 2000. George Bush and Al Gore split Florida 49 percent to 49 percent. Ultimately, it was the recount and the Supreme Court that decided that. We know that George Bush did a little bit better the next time around, 2004 against John Kerry. It was about 52 percent to his 47 percent. But this time around in Florida, as you know, Wolf, really Barack Obama has not really been tested when it comes to this very critical battleground state. They have their had their primary too early. They broke the rules.
Clearly, during that time, however, neither one of them campaigned, but Hillary Clinton, she did end up coming out on top. She did well with the Latino vote. She did well with the older voters. And those are groups that Barack Obama is really going to have to pitch. He's going to have to make that sell. So he is untested when it comes to this very critical state. That is something that still has to be played out, Wolf.
BLITZER: They're spending, both of these candidates, a lot of time in Florida, a lot of time Pennsylvania, in Michigan and Ohio, right here in Colorado. It seems like there may be six or eight or maybe ten states where they're going to spend maybe 90 percent of their time. A lot of other states are effectively going to be neglected. At least that's the trend we have seen so far. And you have been traveling with Barack Obama. Is that an accurate assessment?
MALVEAUX: Absolutely, Wolf, that really is the strategy. There's going to be a very small group of states that is really going to determine the outcome of this race, perhaps six to eight critical battleground states, where they're going to be hitting the road constantly in the next three months or so. They are completely full, the calendar, from one state to the next. Obviously Florida is one of those places.
Barack Obama really needs to perform better with the Latino community. One of the things that Senator Joe Biden can do -- he's got an excellent relationship with the Latino community -- is perhaps bring some of those people on board. That is something that they are certainly hoping for. But yes, we are going to see that play out and play out in a very big way in just a small group of states, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Suzanne, you're going to be traveling. You're going to be busy. Anderson, I just spent some time in Florida and south Florida, in Miami-Dade County and Broward County, just a couple of weeks ago, and Barack Obama clearly has his work cut out for him, because there were a lot of Hillary Clinton supporters there that would have been thrilled, thrilled if she would have been on the ticket. And I suspect a lot of them are going to be disappointed right now she's not.
COOPER: Hillary Rosen, you were point out though Joe Biden has tremendous support among the Jewish community, especially in Florida.
ROSEN: A big portion of the undecided Clinton voters and the ones who are leaning towards McCain are older women. And in Florida, older women, Jews. Joe Biden has a very strong history in support of Israel. He will be a very important ally for Barack Obama on those messages. And Florida, pretty much, that's where you campaign if you're a Democrat. You go to those older women. You go to the Jewish community. Joe Biden helps there and I think maybe even puts Florida back in play this week, whereas I might have given up on it last week.
COOPER: Really? You think it puts him back in play?
ROSEN: I think it's worth their time now in Florida, absolutely.
BORGER: I think they'll put Joe Biden in Florida, and keep Barack Obama --
ROSEN: -- in the mountain west and some of those other states.
BORGER: And they'll test it out. They'll see how he does with those voters you were talking about, Wolf. And if he does well -- because there's that the security issue. It's not just the Israel issue. It's the security, the safety, the risk factor.
BLITZER: Because if Barack Obama can't get that Jewish vote in Miami-Dade and Broward and Palm Beach County, forget about it, because that's a 95 percent traditionally Democratic base down there. And if they're not going to go out there and enthusiastically support the Democrats, he's not going to do well in other parts of Florida.
COOPER: John King is at the magic wall to illustrate a point that Gloria made a little bit earlier.
KING: Jimmy Carter, the Democratic president, was from the state of Georgia. The next Democratic president, Bill Clinton, was from the state of Arkansas. His running mate was Al Gore, from the state of Tennessee. This is a ticket obviously that has a senator from Illinois, a senator from Delaware, nobody from south of the Mason Dixon Line. I want to show you why that could matter and why this election will be about trying to change the electoral map.
This is 1992, the blue states are Democratic. Ross Perot had a bit of a factor in this. But look up here, West Virginia, Tennessee, Arkansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana -- I'm going to circle these states. This is 1992. Bill Clinton then runs for re- election with Al Gore in 1992, defends all of these states except Georgia with those Republicans. Democrats have long had a problem in the south on the issues that often are summarized god, guns and gays. That has been a problem for the Democrats down in the region.
I want to show you now what happened in 2000. Watch these states again, these states circled. Bill Clinton won them all in 1992. Lost Georgia in 1996. In 2000, all red. This is why George W. Bush is president of the United States. 2004, George W. Bush holds them all and holds across the south. So what is this 2008 election about? For Democrats, it's about changing this map. And one of the reasons you have heard Gloria and Hillary talking about why is Colorado so important, why is the mountain west so important? It's because many believe that any Democratic ticket, but this one especially, will have huge problems down here in those states that Bill Clinton won.
Again, let's go back to 1992 and look. One of the reasons that came up a bit earlier, let's flash back in time when Joe Biden was still a candidate for president. In the CNN Youtube debate in Charleston, South Carolina, the issue, guns.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good evening, America. My name's Jared Thompson from Clyel (ph), Michigan. To all the candidates, tell me your position on gun control, as myself and other Americans really want to know if our babies are safe. This is my baby, purchased under the 1994 gun ban. Please tell me your views. Thank you.
COOPER: Governor Richardson, you had one of the highest NRA rating?
GOV. BILL RICHARDSON (D), NEW MEXICO: The issue here, I believe, is instant background checks. Nobody who has a criminal background or is mentally ill should be able to get a weapon. That is the key. And that includes gun sales. That includes gun sales at gun shows. The key is going to be also attacking poverty, bringing people together. Dealing with those kids in the ghettos that are heavy users of gun violence and are victims of gun violence, to make sure that this country attacks the core problems of poverty, having child care, bringing parents together.
COOPER: Senator Biden, are you going to be able to keep his baby safe?
BIDEN: I tell you what, if that is his baby, he needs help. I think he just made an admission against self interest. I don't know that he's mentally qualified to own that gun. I'm being serious. Look, this idea we go around talking about people who own -- I'm the guy that originally wrote the assault weapons ban, that became law and then it got defeated. Then Barbara -- excuse me, Dianne Feinstein went to town on it, and did a great job.
Look, we should be working with law enforcement right now to make sure that we protect people against people who don't -- are not capable of knowing what to do with a gun, because they're either mentally imbalanced and/or because they have a criminal record.
COOPER: We have got one more question.
BIDEN: I hope he doesn't come looking for me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Now that remark there, that is trademark Joe Biden. If that's his baby, he needs help. And Joe Biden going on to talk about his work with the Assault Weapons Ban. That is a message that will sell pretty well in this convention hall, but it is a message that could prove problems for the Democrats. You can be sure that will come up in the campaign in radio ads, in the direct mail that go to sportsmen groups and gun owner around the country. It is a message that is tough to sell down here in the south. But I would also like to hear everyone else talk about it. It also could be a tough message in a state like Michigan, down in here. Democrats have had trouble in the past with hunters and sportsman out across the Midwest.
That is an issue that is a potential issue as this election goes forward. It will play well here. But guns is an issue where Democrats have had some trouble in the past among those conservative union members, in fact, who you will see with a gun rack in the back of their pick up.
COOPER: Hillary Rosen, has the Obama campaign essentially given up on the south.
ROSEN: They're not going to put a lot of resources there, with one big exception, unregistered blacks in Georgia and in potentially Mississippi give them an opportunity, an opening. And in Georgia, remember, we have the independent candidacy of Bob Barr. If he can pick off one or two or three percentage points, that could be enough to put Obama over the top in Georgia.
So guns is going to be an issue and Barack Obama has struggled with that issue, and in defining himself on it. But I don't think that the campaign is giving up on Georgia or Mississippi.
COOPER: When we come back, we're going to talk about population shifts, and the new importance of the West and the Midwest as well. Our coverage continues in a moment.
BLITZER: We're here at the Pepsi Center in Denver, getting ready for the Democratic National Convention. Roland Martin, a lot of people say that Barack Obama right now needs to get angry, needs to get tough. He can't be Mr. Nice Guy all the time. If he wants to be president, he's got to fight really, really hard and make that clear. He didn't necessarily do that today in introducing Joe Biden. What do you think?
ROLAND MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I agree. I think what he has to do is he has to become more laser like, and that is not be all over the place. Also recognize where the Republicans are going after him. They are really focusing on the issue of values. And so you heard Senator Biden talk about that. Senator Biden, frankly, did a better job of telling Senator Obama's story than Senator Obama. Michelle Obama does a better job.
I think Senator Obama has to say, look, wait a minute, don't just start at Harvard Law Review and being a community organizer. Talk about your mom. Talk about being the child of a single parent. Talk about your dad leaving. Talk about how that impacted you. Talk about how you worked through college, had scholarships. Look, own up to the fact that you didn't pay your student loans off until four years ago. When you connect with people that way, it's a different story to tell.
I think today was really about Joe Biden, less about Barack Obama. He's been on the stage. I think that's why you saw that.
In terms of him getting angry, Wolf, that's really not his style. I think he has to be more focused and more clear, saying look, this is my story. I know how you feel. I have two daughters. I have a wife. We're in this thing together.
BLITZER: I guess you could argue, Roland, that he got this far with his style. Why change his style in the home stretch, if you will, in this lead up to the convention, in the few weeks that will still remain after the convention?
MARTIN: There's a difference, I think, between changing your style and altering your style. Because, again, the general election is different. Keep in mind, Senator Barack Obama got about 18 million votes in the primary. In 2004 George W. Bush won with 65 million votes. And so, there's a huge gap there between the people who knew you in the Democratic primary and those who know you in the general. So it's a whole different ball game.
Not only that, the McCain folks have defined him in a different way. You do have to speak a different language, I believe, when you're in the general election, because you're speaking to a broader audience. Primary is about partisans in your party. In the general, you're talking to independents and Republicans and people of your own party. That's why liberals, I think, must back off this whole notion you can run this hard left general, just like Republicans know you can't run a hard right general. You have to mix it up. I think he should do that and, frankly, start giving some of Michelle Obama's speeches, in terms of telling his story more, so that people say, now I have a better idea of who this guy is.
BLITZER: Is it smart, Leslie Sanchez, for John McCain to take a day off like today and not make an appearance, not speak out? What should be his strategy over the next several days as the Democrats hold their convention here in Denver? Should he sort of be on the sidelines or should he try to get some attention?
LESLIE SANCHEZ, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: There's no doubt, I don't think, that the McCain campaign is going to stand idly by. I think they're going to talk about some of the falsehoods that are going to be spun.
BLITZER: I'm talking about McCain personally.
SANCHEZ: In the same approach, you have surrogates who are going out there and talking about the contrast between these two candidates. They're trying to create truth squads so the people -- the American public has a very good sense. And if anything, I think that you're seeing John McCain talking about a good strong economic message. Roland Martin is correct in the sense that there's an identity problem with Barack Obama. Who is he? What does he fundamentally stand for? There's so many flip flops, I have to write them down to go through them all.
But the bigger question is what he going to do to assure prosperity in America? Does he have a plan? Does his plan to raise taxes help the working class voters? And I think John McCain is in that space. He's talking to those folks. He's working his own campaign. And to many people who don't like the hoopla and the celebrity surrounding this campaign, they're worried about paying their mortgage, that's the type of message that will resonate with them.
BLITZER: Leslie, stand by. David Gergen, stand by. Everybody stand by. We're going to take another quick break. When we come back, Joe Johns has been looking into a very sensitive matter here in Denver, the whole issue of security, security for everyone who has come here, security first and foremost for the presidential candidate and now the vice presidential candidate. Joe Johns and his report on security in Denver when we come back.
BLITZER: It's one of the most sensitive issues here at the Pepsi Center complex in Denver at the Democratic National Convention, the whole issue of security, security for the presidential candidate, the vice presidential candidate, all the big shots who are coming in, and a lot of little shots as well, delegates from all over the country and certainly a lot of other folks. Joe Johns is joining us right now. He's been spending a lot of time over the past few days studying the whole issue of security.
Joe, let me set the stage for where you are. You're atop the CNN grill here at the Pepsi complex, just outside the convention center. This is what we set up, our home base, the CNN grill. We have got a beautiful opportunity. You're up on the roof right now. And you got a commanding sight of what's going on as far as security is concerned. And I know you have spoken with a lot of those who are going to make sure that everyone is safe and secure here, and even the protesters will have a chance to speak out. JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf, just wanted to give you a little bit of perspective. It is a beautiful evening out here in Denver. Take a look at the Denver skyline. And now we're going to tilt down here, look at the street and then across the street you see this big fencing. That's the crowd control fencing that just goes for blocks and blocks along a major thoroughfare here in Denver. Write across from there, if we keep going left, you see another bit of fencing, then a tent. And over to the left, that's where you are Wolf. That's the Pepsi Center, of course. That's where three days of this convention will go on.
Sounds very simple, right? And it should be. Authorities secure situations like this all the time. But as you walk with me, let's take a look at the rest of it. Across here, before you get to the horizon, you see Invesco Field. That, of course, is the football field where the Broncos play. It's also the place where Barack Obama, in fact, is going to deliver his big acceptance speech on Thursday here in Denver. So that's something else that security officials actually have to deal with.
Now as we walk along the roof, right down here on the corner, you can't see it real well, so we'll show you a little bit of tape, some tape from earlier today. There is a checkpoint that the Secret Service is running. That is a place where all the people have come in and out because of those fences. They have no other choice. When I came in here this afternoon, it took me about 15, 20 minutes or so. But some people have been telling me it takes an hour and a half at its worst, of course. That's a lot of time for people. So people coming to the convention may have a difficult time in indeed.
One of the questions for the authorities, is all this really necessary? The authorities say absolutely, it is. We come back live now. We can show you a shot from our camera, which is out in the parking lot some distance from me, looking up at the CNN grill. Authorities say yes, they have to do this. They say they've been told there's a possibility of thousands and thousands of protesters, though they certainly don't know for sure. It all begins on Monday and we'll be watching. Wolf, back to you.
BLITZER: Joe, you spent some time this week with the Secret Service over at their command center, and you got an idea of what was going on. So did your John King. He did as well. He's been here. Let me bring John into this discussion. You're a former White House correspondent. I'm a former White House correspondent. We know what the Secret Service does, but you got to multiply that here by many, many times, and in St. Paul next week, to really appreciate the enormity of the challenge that they have.
KING: On the one hand, they did not have as big a challenge as they thought they would have. They thought they would end up deploying more teams, more details protecting more candidates, and in the end, they did not. But these big events -- they have done this since 9/11, sadly. They have gotten, quote unquote, better at this because of big events, because of the security challenge.
It's not just the Secret Service, obviously, but they are the lead agency. Colorado state police, the Denver police, they're being supplemented by many of the communities here. You see them everywhere you go. A lot of them, Wolf, from those eight years at the White House, are familiar faces you see. I was out at the Secret Service compound in Beltsville, Maryland near the White House, during all of this training, and you see a lot of the people here who I saw several months ago going through their training in Beltsville.
It's a major investment for the Secret Service. Some people consider it a hassle. I have been around these guys for a long time. And I just admire what they do.
BLITZER: I think all of us do, and we're grateful to them for all the great work they do. We're going to take another break, and we're going to continue our coverage here in Denver at the Pepsi Center. We're going to get back to the issue of the day, the new Democratic ticket, the presidential candidate, the vice presidential candidate, what it means going forward. Much more of our coverage right after this.
COOPER: Welcome back to the Pepsi center in Denver, Colorado, where on Monday, of course, the Democratic National Convention begins. Our coverage has already begun. It's well underway. I want to talk a little bit about what's happening online for some of these candidates. The Obama campaign today reporting that traffic on their website hit an all-time high today, on Saturday, some 48,000 people, according to the Associate Press, watched a live feed of the Joseph Biden-Barack Obama event this afternoon. And according to the Obama campaign, they have raised more than 1.8 million dollars contributed online by about mid afternoon today. A lot of money coming in online for them in the last 24 hours since Joe Biden has been selected as the vice presidential nominee.
Abby Tatton, Internet reporter, standing by in New York. Abby, you have been looking at some of the cyber squatting of some of the politicians' names, using their domain names?
ABBY TATTON, CNN INTERNET CORRESPONDENT: We've been looking at this for some time, Anderson. You have got the official sites and then the unofficial ones. The official sites, BarackObama.com, as you say today, driving people to a donation page, JoeBiden.com as well taking you to that same area.
But then there's the people trying to cash in that really have nothing to do with this campaign. Go to ObamaBiden.org today, and you're actually going to be redirected to eBay. That being sold, offered for 100,000 dollars right there. No bids right now, but it's a list of about 15 different examples of Obama-Biden.org, that kind of thing. We're going to watch that and see if anyone's actually interested.
Another site, Obama-Biden.com was actually bought up a couple of years ago by a Lyle Dean (ph). He's in San Francisco. He says he's got nothing to do with the web, nothing to do with politics. He's just an enthusiastic supporter of this ticket. Of course, the Barack Obama campaign has a website of their own that gets a huge amount of traffic, as you mentioned. There's no reason they would have to change their domain name, but this is something that was interesting to the Kerry-Edwards campaign in 2004. The Kerry-Edwards campaign made inquiries the KerryEdwards.com at this point. But the owner, who was a Mr. Kerry Edwards of Indianapolis, wouldn't sell at the price they were offering. Anderson?
COOPER: Very clever people out there. Abby, thanks very much. Larry King is standing by. He's going to be continuing our coverage in about 15 minutes. Let's get a preview of Larry's going to be talking about. Larry?
LARRY KING, CNN ANCHOR: Anderson, you saw us break the Biden news right here on Larry King, and tonight we'll take a closer look at Joe Biden. Is this the Democrats' ticket to the White House? We'll talk to reporters, supporters, and experts from both sides of the aisle. It's a special live Saturday edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Anderson?
COOPER: Larry King, thanks very much. That's in about 14 minutes from now. John King, no relation to Larry King, that I know of at least, does the selection of Biden -- does it change the calculus for John McCain in who he selects as a vice president?
KING: I think it does, to some degree, and the McCain campaign people that we have been in touch with today acknowledge that fact. Not from a huge fundamental strategic thing, but as we have all been talking about all night, this is a fascinating pick, and it's an interesting pick and we'll see how it plays out. The vice presidential selections usually don't change the game that much. But there are some big events, the drama of this day, and we will have that on the Republican side, most likely next Friday, and then the vice presidential debate.
And democrats, frankly, did not think that John Edwards or Joe Lieberman did a very good job against Dick Cheney in two vice presidential debates. If you're John McCain, you know now that whoever you pick is going after somebody who many people think won the majority of the Democratic primary debates he was in on points. Obama and Clinton clearly had more money and more organization, but Joe Biden is feisty. He is a very good debater. He is polished from his days in the Senate. John McCain knows that first hand.
So in that one focus right there, you need somebody -- you cannot send somebody laid back into a debate against Joe Biden.
BORGER: If you're going to play the experience card, which John McCain is playing, it would be very difficult for him to put a Tim Pawlenty, a governor of Minnesota, a young fellow up against a Joe Biden, who has experience on foreign policy and domestic policy. And you want to say, OK, is this guy qualified to be president? That's what John McCain says when you ask him about it. What does he think about the most? He says this person has to be qualified to step in.
And he knows that his age is also an issue in this. But you have to think about the theatrics of that debate. KING: We're told that it's unlikely he would pick former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge now, but that would be fun, a son of Erie versus the son of Scranton. There's also talk -- a couple of sources says, it's not just Mitt Romney. He's the favorite by most accounts. But there's somebody else, a name we don't know, perhaps, McCain is considering. And there's even one report tonight that it's Colin Powell. Although, we are getting waived off. Dana Bash sent in some reporting earlier. I just got an e-mail a few minutes ago saying, don't think so, don't take that as real.
But we still have about a week, I think, until we find out McCain's pick. It's interesting.
ROSEN: Elections are about match ups fundamentally. And if I think if you looked a the day Obama won the Democratic nomination, Joe Biden would not have been the top one or two picks for vice president necessarily. It took a few weeks of the match up against Barack Obama -- against John McCain to see that this made more sense. Now you have the fourth hole to be filled. What's that match up dictate? That's what John McCain's got to look at.
BLITZER: All right, hold on, guys. We have to take another quick break. We have more to discuss, more to assess as we go forward in our look at the Democratic National Convention that begins on Monday. Stay with us. We'll be right back. More of our coverage here from Denver.
COOPER: You see there the stage is set, literally, at the Pepsi Convention Center here in Denver, Colorado, where on Monday the convention begins. John King is going to give us a little bit of a tour, because the hall is virtually empty right now, just some technical people working on some things. It's a unique opportunity to get a look around. John, where are you now?
KING: Anderson, if this were a Springsteen concert, this is where you would want to be. I'm front and center down on the floor. You see the amazing high tech podium the Democrats have put together right up this way. I think Walter can turn to that while I talk down here on the floor here to Jay.
Where am I? I'm front and center on the floor. Guess who gets this prime real estate? This is Illinois. This is the home state of the Democratic nominee Barack Obama. They will be front and center. If you come down on the floor, this is no accident. This is essentially a tour of the presidential battleground states. I'm going to take a walk. Barack Obama pretty sure he's going to win the state of Illinois.
But if you walk through the Illinois delegation, their neighbors, just over behind them here, the state of Virginia. Again, we talked about that a bit earlier. It has gone Republican in presidential politics, but has been trending Democratic. Just behind the state of Virginia is the state of Ohio. No Republican has ever won the White House without winning Ohio. They get some prime real estate as well, right on the center aisle, so they can see.
We'll come around this way and take a walk, Colorado, it's the home state. So it gets some prime real estate. It's not just because they're the hosts of this convention. Again, you talked about it earlier. The Democrats want to remake the electoral map by being more competitive out here in the Mountain West. As I walk over toward you guys at the CNN booth, Michigan, that's a big electoral battle ground. The Democrats want to keep that, and the McCain campaign thinks they have a chance in Michigan.
And just behind Michigan is Pennsylvania. The CNN anchor platform right here on the floor is wedged between Pennsylvania, a critical battleground state, and you're facing, Wolf, Gloria, Hillary and Anderson, the California delegation. We need to make very good friends with the California delegation as all this plays out. But essentially this seating plan is a road map of the presidential battleground states and then add in our perfectly positioned anchor platform.
COOPER: Nothing done by chance here. John King, thanks very much. John's going to be on LARRY KING, which starts at 9:00 East coast time, about six minutes from now. Our coverage continues all the way through. David Gergen is standing by in Boston, as he has been throughout the last two hours for us.
David, Roland Martin earlier talked about Barack Obama using this time to tell his story, and maybe adapt some of the language of Michelle Obama who has been very effective in telling his story. Is that what the campaign is now or does it need to move beyond personal narrative and go into specific policy issues?
GERGEN: That's a very good question, Anderson. I think the Democrats have realized here in the last three or four weeks that if this campaign becomes simply a referendum of Barack Obama, there's a very good chance they could lose it. And what I think they need to do now is, yes, they need to tell -- find a better way to tell the Barack Obama narrative. But over the next few days, they need to change the dynamics of the campaign back onto more favorable ground for them.
So the point of convention, and we're going to get to the crescendo of this on Thursday night, is to make this more of a referendum not on Obama, but a referendum on the Republican rule and what the Republicans have done for the last eight years, and how McCain would continue that over the next four years. And I think that started today with Biden's speech. The importance of that speech was to really begin to refocus the campaign on the Republicans, what they've done, what their record has been, and why the next four years would be a continuation of that. That, to me, is central to whether they can win or not.
COOPER: Ed Rollins, Republican strategist, what do the Republicans need to do? Are they going to try to continue to make this a referendum on Obama?
ED ROLLINS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: The most important thing today -- the two peers in this race today are now Joe Biden and John McCain. So what you have got to make sure is that John McCain and his team don't get distracted by the attacks that Biden is going to be making. Equally as important, Biden can't overshadow Obama or that campaign is not well. So we have to run a very disciplined campaign, keep pounding at the commander in chief, if Obama wins, is Obama, and it not Joe Biden. I think that's the key thing here.
COOPER: Gloria Borger, has Barack Obama become distracted over the last several weeks by the attacks of the McCain campaign?
BORGER: I think he has. I think he's relaxed a little bit. And I think what you saw was him fighting back this past week, when he started talking about John McCain not being able to name the number of houses that he has. And so I think that you have seen him start fighting back. But the McCain campaign has been very clever. They have said this is about Barack Obama. We're going to define Barack Obama for you the voter. And they're going to define him as an elitist, somebody who's not qualified to be command never chief, somebody who's a risk.
Today, what Joe Biden started doing was defining John McCain and starting to say that John McCain is just George W. Bush, four more years.
ROSEN: This week, I think is though, really the opportunity to change the game directly. All -- as these polls narrowed over the last two weeks between McCain and Obama, one thing didn't narrow, which is the overwhelming majority that the Obama positions have with the American people. That his position on energy, his position on jobs, his position against the war, his position against big corporate tax cuts favor the Democrats overwhelmingly. And that's what this campaign has got to get back to, those issues.
So I think what we're going to see, or at least what I hope we're going to see is the bio on Monday, introduced by Michelle, and then over the course of the week, how are we going to change the country? What's going to happen? So that by the time you get to Barack Obama on Thursday night, he doesn't have to spend time introducing himself all over again. What he's going to spend his time doing is telling Americans how he's going to make their life better.
BORGER: And it's going to be a difficult thing to do in front of 76,000 people. It's sort of --
COOPER: There's a risk in appearing in front of that many people.
BORGER: It's got to be part State of the Union speech, which is to tell you what I'm going to do for you to make your life better, and part inspirational, which is to tell you why you should understand that I share your values. That's a tough -- that's a tough job.
BLITZER: The last time a presidential candidate went outside the relatively small compounds of a Pepsi Center to speak at a big coliseum, that was literally the L.A. Coliseum. That was JFK back in 1960, he spoke in front of about 60,000 or 70,000 people then. It's no accident that Barack Obama decided he wanted to do it over here at Invesco Field, Mile High Stadium, leaving the small -- relatively small compound here and go over to Mile High Stadium.
Anderson, we're going to be here back tomorrow night at 7:00 p.m. Eastern, another two hours. We'll take a close look at what's going on, our preview to the Democratic national convention. I'll be here tomorrow morning, 10:00 a.m. a special time, for a special "LATE EDITION" from the Democratic National Convention. We have a wealth of guests and you're going to want to stick around.
Right now, first and foremost, stick around for a special live "LARRY KING." That's coming up right now.