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Barack Obama Accepts the Democratic Party's Nomination for Presidency
Aired August 28, 2008 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN "SITUATION ROOM" ANCHOR: And so it is the Democrats now celebrating. Barack Obama has accepted the Democratic presidential nomination. He's up there with his family and very close friends; Barack Obama and Michelle Obama and Jill and Joe Biden.
That is the Democratic ticket. You're looking at it right now. The fireworks are going off here in Invesco Field at Mile High Stadium in Denver.
Anderson Cooper, these Democrats certainly know how to party and how to celebrate. Let's not lose sight of this picture. This is the Democratic candidate right now, and he's running for president. We've never seen an African-American lead a major party in this contest in this race for the White House.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN "AC360" ANCHOR: And you could argue that the fireworks have been going off for the last 40 or so minutes here as Barack Obama spoke, a speech of a lifetime.
Probably the largest audience he has ever had for perhaps the most important speech he has ever given. The most certainly dramatic speech he has ever given.
John King, you've heard a lot from Barack Obama over this last year and a half but nothing like this.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, about two- thirds of the way through the speech, he said I get it. And he clearly does. This was a speech crafted to rebut every argument the Republicans have used against the Democrats in past presidential elections and every argument they are preparing or already using against him.
He went through God and values, he went through gun control, he went through gay rights. He said I can pay for my plans I am not a liberal. He went through the ego part the Republicans are saying, it's all about him he said, no it's about you the American people. And most of all, he went through for a couple of pages in his speech his most glaring weakness in the polls that he does not have the judgment or the experience to be commander-in-chief.
He essentially said to John McCain what George W. Bush is famous for saying, bring it on. You want to have a debate about judgment and my ability to be commander-in-chief, I will do it.
Now, that's risky, but you can either hide from your weaknesses or take them on and tonight he took them dead on.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I agree, if anybody ever thought that Barack Obama was not tough enough to run against John McCain, this speech should really put an end to that. He took him on, on every single issue. And in addition, to doing that Anderson, he also outlined the specifics of where he would take the country.
So he did, I think, everything he needed to do in this speech. Even taking on the celebrity issue by telling the American people what kind of a life he has lived and saying well, if that's the life a celebrity lives, it's not any celebrities I know.
So on every single point there was a rebuttal in this speech.
COOPER: Campbell, we're told that it's a speech he began writing earlier in the week, one he has been crafting over and over.
CAMPBELL BROWN, CNN CO-ANCHOR: Yes. And I have to agree with what both John and Gloria said. I think we do want to pause just for a moment for the benediction.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen of this country we love, in one of the best traditions --
BLITZER: While we're watching what has happened here, let's not lose sight of the historic moment that this is.
Remember cnnpolitics.com, you can see what's going on up on the stage. We have a lot more to assess. Our analysts at the CNN Election Center are standing by.
We'll take a quick commercial break. Much more from Denver right after this.
BLITZER: This Democratic Convention is now history. They've just adjourned after four days of speeches, a lot of rally, and some excellent musical entertainment in the process as well. The Democrats go forth now and try to get Barack Obama and Joe Biden elected as president and vice president of the United States. A lot easier said that done.
But Anderson Cooper they certainly kicked off this process tonight on a good note for them. Barack Obama delivering the speech that so many Democrats wanted to hear. Not only making the case for himself, but directly, frontally going after John McCain and the Republicans.
COOPER: And so many of the things, Campbell Brown, that we heard all week from analysts, from Obama supporters that he needed to do, he seemed to do one by one tonight.
BROWN: Almost point by point. I think you're right. One of the concerns we heard expressed a lot was would he be too lofty. Would it be too soaring, the language, to the point of soaring over people's heads, which it has been on occasion I think in some of his speeches. But what you heard tonight was very down there, plain spoken, no BS, if you will. I watched you, Paul Begala, at one point because he sort of set it up by talking about some of the failures of the Bush administration and then he said very forcefully and very strongly early on, enough.
And I looked at you and you went yes. And it was like that's what Democrats wanted to hear. He's going to fight as hard as they want him to fight.
COOPER: So many people over the course of this campaign have asked can Barack Obama throw a punch? He certainly threw several punches tonight.
PAUL BEGALA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Absolutely, he went fearlessly at John McCain's greatest strength, national security. He went proudly into that social issue terrain that Democrats are usually so afraid of. He went boldly attacking the status quo of George Bush, Dick Cheney and John McCain.
And then he went very comfortably into your living room and he said I really am one of you. And he went through those peoples lives and he said I'm just like you -- when I see that young student struggling at night, to make it, he's like my mom. When I see that lady, she's like my grandmother.
It was -- I have to tell you this is my ninth convention in the two parties. It was as very nearly a perfect convention speech as I can imagine. It was at turns soaring but also substantive, it was epic yet accessible. I can't say enough about it.
COOPER: Clearly Paul Begala has drunk the Kool-Aid. Let's see Ed Rollins' turn from last. Let's see how some of our analysts in New York how they saw it through the television screen not being here to get all the crowd reaction.
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Anderson, we're sharing the Kool-Aid here tonight. Listen, there are going to be people after this speech who are still fierce, fierce critics of Barack Obama.
This opened up an important and legitimate debate the Republicans will carry on next week, about issues, about the role of government in our lives. But as a speech, I was deeply impressed. In many ways it was less a speech than a symphony.
That it moved quickly, it had high tempo at times, inspiring, then it became more intimate, slower, all along and sort of interweaving a main theme about America's promise, echoes of Lincoln, of King. Even of Reagan and of Kennedy. It was -- it will not be in the -- I don't think it was as good as his civil rights speech, class speech, but as a political speech, it was a masterpiece.
And I think that after this, you know -- the other thing that struck me is not just the speech, but somehow he seemed to be bigger tonight on television -- at least that's appearance here in New York. It was almost as if he's growing into the job of being president. Now, there will be many, as I say, who will so resist this.
But from the Democrat's point of view, I don't think anybody could have possibly asked more from him tonight to stand up, to come out swinging, to show the kind of inner strength that I don't think we've seen quite so much of.
There's a sense moral outrage in him that made him more formidable. Carl Bernstein talked last night about how was for him to be formidable tonight. He was formidable; as a political speech, it was a masterpiece.
COOPER: Jeffrey Toobin, if anyone had doubts about whether Barack Obama himself was willing to take on John McCain, whether he was perhaps going to leave that up to Joseph Biden, those questions seem to have been answered quite firmly tonight.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Indeed. And what I thought was so interesting was how different this Barack Obama was from the one we saw in January and February who gave very effective speeches but they were post-partisan in tone. Can't we all get along; let's get beyond the old debates.
He got into the old debates today. He was in McCain's face. He was drawing the contrasts saying we're right, they're wrong. It was a very different kind of speech than the kind he was giving earlier. But I think frankly more effective, because this is a campaign of one guy against another guy, and there is no point in pretending that they agree.
This is a -- this is, of all the elections I have covered or even voted in, I don't think there is as big a contrast between the candidates on the issues as this one, and today illustrated just that point.
COOPER: And yet, John King, to your point earlier on the most contentious issues of our time, on abortion, on gay rights, and other things, on gun control, he tried to find middle ground. He tried to appeal really to both sides.
KING: He tried to appeal to both sides and he tried to say I am open- minded and will listen even if I disagree with you and he also tried to lay down as tough a wall as he can because he knows what's coming next week. John McCain has a compelling story too and it is one of heroism. And John McCain is going to say I'm the better commander-in- chief. I will not spend all the taxpayers' money. We don't have in this economy the money to pay for everything Barack Obama wants to do.
So he had a very clear counter argument to everything the Republicans have used against Democrats in the past and everything specifically they're using against Obama now. And remember the context in which the speech was delivered. One word on the signs in this stadium today "Change." The speech ran close to an hour but that one word "Change."
The country wants change. The winds in this election are behind the Democrat's back if he can answer the simple question, am I too risky? And that's why the foreign policy segment tonight was so important. The Republicans will have a different story next week and it will be starkly different.
But he was directly addressing the one thing that many people believe could keep the Republicans -- keep the Democrats excuse me from losing this election. If he could get over the commander-in-chief threshold, he should win the election. And most Democrats think he knows what coming next week.
BLITZER: All right, let's go to Amy Holmes. I'm anxious to hear what she thought of this speech, this important speech from Barack Obama. Amy?
AMY HOLMES, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Sure. As a former speechwriter for the former senate majority leader, I heard some very important things that Barack Obama needed to include in his speech style. He personalized, he humanized, he dramatized.
This is so important for the listener and viewer to be able to connect with the person who is speaking. He did another thing; he tried to turn the tables on John McCain by characterizing John McCain that he's the one who's out of touch with your values.
He's the one who is the elite. He's the person that is the greater risk in this election. And I thought that that was an interesting way to try to take those attacks and turn them on his opponent.
He also did another thing but I'm not sure that we entirely expected but he tried to move towards that middle ground. He talked about personal responsibility, that's typically something that Conservatives and Republicans talk a lot about. And he also talked about American exceptionalism.
You know, Jeffrey and I, as we were listening, we heard a lot of "We are the best hope for the world" and again that's something that Republicans and Conservatives talk a lot about.
Tonight, Barack Obama was saying the Democrats can own that too.
BLITZER: I heard a lot of echoes from Bill Clinton's 1992 campaign as well. And we're going to continue our discussion on that.
Much more coming up as we watch what's happening here at Invesco Field. We're going to go down to the field when we come back and speak with some of these delegates, including one very ardent Hillary Clinton supporter.
We're going to see if Barack Obama turned her around.
Much more of our coverage coming up right after this.
BLITZER: We've now heard from Barack Obama deliver his acceptance speech. He spoke for close to 50 minutes before about 80,000 people who gathered here, millions more around the country.
Let's hear from some of the delegates now on the floor of this stadium. Jessica Yellin is where it all began in Iowa, in that Iowa delegation. Seems like a long time ago. It was early January when he managed to win the Iowa caucuses.
Jessica, tell us who you have with you.
JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, I have three people, who as you say have been following this for a long time, two of these women are Hillary Clinton supporters and I wanted to ask you first --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Were.
YELLIN: Were Hillary Clinton supporters. What turned you tonight?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: His speech. And I like her enjoyed it all, but the end is what got me. You know, it's a dream and it's going to come true. But we got to work for it. That's what I got out of it.
YELLIN: Now, you were a Barack Obama supporter from the beginning.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: From 2004.
YELLIN: And what connected for you tonight, were you pleased with it?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was very pleased. This has been such an emotional week for me. You know, I got all teary that day I cast my ballot for Obama. This has been a long, long campaign.
Tonight, what I got from him is that he inspired people. I have the hope that this country can come together, that our divisiveness can heal. And I hope that he inspired people to get out there and let's get out the vote and let's hear from the American people.
YELLIN: Great. And you, ma'am, you said you were a Hillary supporter. You were concerned at the beginning. You weren't so happy at the top of the speech. Why?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: At first I thought he was going to play it safe and pull back and stay on the political points and we just see the Senator. I wanted to see what we've seen throughout the thing -- I wanted to see that father. I wanted to see that man. I wanted to see that American. I wanted to see that boy that didn't have his father growing up.
But made the choice to be the man that he knew he could be regardless of not having his dad in his life. He had a community that helped to raise him. And he went back to a community to give it back to that and he got it going.
YELLIN: Ok, I'm sorry, thank you so much. Thank you for your time. And Wolf, I have to say this is the universal view I've heard out here. When I asked people, what do you think of the speech, a lot of them said, "I'm speechless."
Back to you.
BLITZER: Yes, I think that's a fair assessment. I think Suzanne Malveaux is also with some folks in the Iowa delegation. Suzanne, what do you have?
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, I'm with a couple of people, one from Iowa, one from Maryland. Peggy Witworth she'd met Senator Obama before all of this, the excitement about running for president. At Senator Hartkin's state pride two years ago, you've been a volunteer ever since. Did you ever imagine that you would see this day?
PEGGY WITWORTH, IOWA DELEGATE: I'm not sure that I ever thought I would see this day, but somehow it's just totally appropriate. All the coming together of all the wonderful people and the energy; this is history. I mean, it's just so exciting.
MALVEAUX: What convinced you that this was somebody you should follow, you should work for and that ultimately you would be here?
WITHWORTH: I have very, very good -- no, actually just because I saw him, he was clearly very smart, very compassionate, great integrity and, quite frankly, fresh and new, full of energy and we need the change.
MALVEAUX: Was there something that people in Iowa saw in him that nobody else really saw, did it begin here?
WITHWORTH: Well, of course it began in Iowa but what really happened is a state that's 95 percent white chose the very best candidate and that was Barack Obama. And that did start him on the whole way to tonight. And it's been very emotional. We cry a lot right now, but it's just wonderful. We could not be happier.
MALVEAUX: Another person with tears in her eyes from the Maryland delegation. Tell me why is this such an emotional moment for you?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I was born in 1952, an army brat. My father died in 1970 in the military. I'm just proud to be an American.
MALVEAUX: Ok, thank you so much.
Wolf, back to you.
BLITZER: Very emotional for so many of the people who have gathered inside. Many of them saying something very, very similar; they only wish their parents or their grandparents could have lived to see this day. There are a lot of people also watching at Times Square in New York.
Jim Acosta is there. They were watching CNN. Jim, tell us what you saw and what you heard, how people in New York were reacting.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, we're here in Times Square at a CNN convention watching party and there were a few hundred people on hand. Just where we're staying right now but I have to tell you, just one moment that we noticed as this speech was being given by Barack Obama, there were taxi cabs coming down Broadway in the Time Square. And when they would stop in front of the monitor, people would be sort of sticking their heads out of the window and looking up at the Jumbo Tron here in Times Square just to take a look at what the Democratic nominee was saying.
People had actually stopped in their tracks across the street to take a look at what Barack Obama was saying. So not a scene you that see very often here in Times Square.
I'm joined by two ladies here watching the speech tonight. And we just want to get your reaction. What did you think when you saw Barack Obama out there tonight?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was phenomenal. I've seen nothing like it. I graduated from UC Berkeley, Political Science major, so I've heard a lot of the top political scientists speak. And Barack Obama is just something that's not only just historical but he was brilliant, excellent.
ACOSTA: And I was asking you earlier, if I could ask you again, that would be great.
What was it like just watching him up there, watching Michelle Obama up there, their two children, what did that image put in your mind as an American watching this tonight?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was just an amazing moment. All you could really think was wow and to be moved by some of the people in the audience down here in Times Square. There was an elderly gentleman down here who was just overcome with emotion and it was a very emotional moment.
Obviously historic for many different reasons, but to see a family, a stable family, a stable black family on television, who could possibly be the next First Family of the United States of America, was just an amazing experience and there's no better place to see that than in New York City.
ACOSTA: Very good, thank you very much ladies, I appreciate it. Anderson, if you couldn't make it to Denver, what better place to watch a night of political theater than right here on Broadway in New York City.
Back to you.
COOPER: Jim Acosta thanks very much. Of course, this convention will be judged in the end and months, weeks, and months from now, in terms of how it unified this party. You think about how we began this week.
So much talk about the Clintons, about Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton. What would they say, would they throw their full support. All of that seems so long ago.
Paul Begala, do you have any doubt moving forward that this is Barack Obama's Democratic Party?
BEGALA: Oh, none whatsoever. And I thought he did -- one of the many terrific things he did was, yes, he paid tribute directly to President Clinton and to Senator Clinton. But more importantly he echoed the way Bill Clinton campaigned and governed.
He went through a list of very specific proposals, from tax cut for the middle class, a Clinton idea from '92 to healthcare, to energy but he didn't -- whether it held the attention of the audience and then he did his third way inoculation in all of those social issues that Democrats lose on. I think this the highest --
COOPER: Talking about abortion, gun control.
BEGALA: Abortion, gun control, gay rights, immigration, patriotism itself.
BORGER: And personal responsibility which was of course Bill Clinton's big theme.
BEGALA: He said governments can turn off the TV and make a child do her homework. Bill Clinton used to say, God gives children to parents, not to government. We have to do our part. And it was very reminiscent.
COOPER: Carl Bernstein in New York. Also, what we have really not heard from Barack Obama up until tonight was direct, square firing at John McCain. And boy, did we hear that tonight.
CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, he said he was reckless and that is a charge that has always faced John McCain. The press has always focused on that aspect of John McCain's past and it's front and center right now.
Look, Barack Obama did something tonight. He defined himself in a way that people of this country now unmistakably know who he is. They know his philosophy and what he wants to do to govern. They know his sense of history and how he fits into it. And that he could choreograph a convention where we the chattering classes were saying there's not enough red meat, there's not enough substance, we're wasting time.
He has done something here that has brought him immeasurably closer to being elected to President of the United States. Alex next to me said, you know, he ran Mitt Romney's campaign and he said to me a little while ago, and he said I could say this out loud, "I think I've picked a good year for me not to be doing this. This is a transformational speech, maybe the greatest I've heard in a convention since Kennedy."
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN "AC360" ANCHOR: Wow. Alex Castellanos?
ALEX CASTELLANOS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Pretty strong stuff in a lot of ways. Did a lot of what he had to do tonight. The candidate who is seen as untested and therefore risky made a case that staying with what you had was an even greater risk. He demonstrated great strength in confronting McCain that way. Also he did something that in marketing you called voter's hero -- consumer's hero. He said this election is not about me, it's about you. So whether I'm tested and whether, you know, proven enough, it doesn't matter.
This election is about you and what that means, he didn't ask people to choose tonight between McCain and Obama. He asked them to choose between themselves and Obama. That's what "We're the change we've been waiting for" means. That's why when you go to Obama's Website, the first thing you see is I'm not asking you to believe, have faith that I can change Washington. I'm asking you to believe that you can.
That's what I think makes it such a powerful cause. I think whoever didn't get picked for Republican VP today, may be a lucky Republican.
COOPER: Was this fair, though, John King? One of the lines Barack Obama says, John McCain likes to say that he'll follow Bin Laden to the gates of hell but he won't even go to the caves where he lives. Pretty strong stuff.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's a criticism of John McCain being in George Bush's Republican Party. And this is a debatable point and again, we'll hear the response next week, but they had Osama Bin Laden in Tora Bora and they didn't too enough about it.
There will be a rebuttal to this. There's already a McCain statement tonight but the fact that he would go straight on him on all of those points, John McCain, he says I have the stature, the experience, the leadership and the judgment. And Barack Obama essentially said, "No you don't."
And the Republicans will come back with a very different story next week. But the fact -- so many Democrats, all this campaign, does this guy have the fight in him? Does he have the fight in him? Because McCain proved at the faith forum that McCain is ready to debate. John McCain is not in the order like Barack Obama but he's tough and he's scrappy and he doesn't quit.
And so Barack Obama fighting back, I remember Michael Dukakis leaving a convention 17 points ahead, so the Democrats shouldn't buy their tickets to Washington just, there is a convention to come, yet but they will leave here quite happy with that fight.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN "SITUATION ROOM" ANCHOR: And you all will be interested to know that Hillary Clinton has just issued a statement reacting to Barack Obama's speech. I just got it.
Let me read it to our viewers and to all of you then we'll get your reaction on Hillary Clinton's statement.
"Barack Obama's speech tonight laid out a specific bold solutions and optimistic vision for our nation and our children's future. His speech crystallized a clear choice between he and Senator McCain.
Four more years of the same failed policies or a leader who can tackle the great challenges we face. Revitalizing our economy and restoring our standing in the world. I am proud to support Senator Obama, our next president of the United States, and Joe Biden our next vice president of the United States."
A short statement from Hillary Clinton, but one that makes the point. Were you surprised she wasn't up there on the stage tonight, Paul?
PAUL BEGALA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: No, I think there's been plenty of criticism of the Senator and her husband that they've been trying to hog the limelight even though each time they stepped into it, they have tried to shine it on to Barack Obama and the choice.
Notice that she's on message. Before we began this week, we were talking about what an organizational success tonight is, thousands of people gathered, what a musical success it is, Michael McDonald doing his best impression of Wolf Blitzer on the keyboards.
Finally, a message success. Democrats can say, Hillary said it in a couple words, Barack said it tonight, it's time for them, the Republicans to own their failure and time for us to change America. That's a ten-second sound bite you can win on.
CAMPBELL BROWN, CNN CO-ANCHOR: You heard this, and I found a couple of emails about it tonight are surprised by how tough the language was in the speech. Because we haven't really heard it before, I mean, not on this level and not as precise.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: He can do both.
COOPER: We've read Hillary Clinton's statement. I should just read out the statement that McCain campaign has put out. They said, "Tonight Americans witnessed a misleading speech that was so fundamentally at odds with the meager record of Barack Obama. When the temple comes down, the fire works end, and the words are over the fact remain, Senator Obama has no record of bipartisanship, still opposes offshore drilling, still voted to raise taxes on those making just $42,000 per year, and still voted against funds for American troops in harm's way. The fact remains, Barack Obama is still not ready to be president."
BORGER: There you go.
BLITZER: We got obviously different statements. We have a lot more to talk about.
Stand by, we're going to continue our coverage right after this.
Remember, cnnpolitics.com is where you can get a lot more information as well. Watch us if you have laptop at the same time. There's still some of those 80,000 people that gathered and I think 75,000 or so are right behind us here on our booth.
But we'll be right back. Much more of our coverage from Denver right after this.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: A resolution under article I, to deauthorize the war.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I think it's important for us to be clear about that.
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON, (D) NEW YORK: I think it's important --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: That's June of 2007. The Democratic presidential debate. There were eight Democratic candidates on the stage. That night I was moderating that debate in New Hampshire. Seems like a long, long time ago. It wasn't all that long ago.
COOPER: I don't think I was alive back then.
BLITZER: Mike Gravel was there, Dennis Kucinich was there. There were a lot of presidential candidates on that stage. And now there's one, there's Barack Obama, who is the Democratic presidential nominee who will lead this party going forward in about 68 days between now and November 4th.
COOPER: Donna Brazile, as you look back at this campaign, how did Barack Obama do it? What was it that he knew that they were able to do? You had Hillary Clinton, a huge name recognition, a huge organization behind her. Barack Obama, no one knew who he was, creating something essentially from the ground up.
DONNA BRAZILE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: He took a big gamble. He thought the Democrats and the country, of course, was ready for change. He ignited a movement.
He basically told any ordinary American that you can be part of this campaign. Send $5 and guess what? You are now in charge of running the Obama operations; a traditional grassroots type of approach to politics from the bottom up.
And what you saw tonight, even today Senator Obama is still reaching out to people across the country, telling them to organize for change.
COOPER: When did you personally start to think, you know what, this guy could actually do this? I'm not talking about support or not, but when did you think he could do it?
BRAZILE: I think the night he delivered that remarkable speech to the Iowa caucus. Back in November, I think it was November 9th. That moment, he regained his voice and we knew he had a strong organization on the ground in the Iowa caucuses. But clearly that was a moment that things really turned around for the Obama campaign.
BLITZER: As you remember, Donna, before the Iowa caucuses, among African-American voters, Hillary Clinton was actually doing better than Barack Obama, in part because a lot of African-Americans thought, you know, why waste a vote on this kid from Chicago? He's not going anywhere.
It was only after the largely white voters in Iowa, with all those Iowa caucuses across the state, very few blacks in Iowa, decided that he was going to win those caucuses that a lot of blacks came around. Am I right?
BRAZILE: Senator Obama struggled early on in the campaign to reach black voters. Look, they knew Barack Obama but they knew the Clintons even better. And for months, Senator Obama tried to convince them that he could win. Right after winning the Iowa caucuses, African- Americans said yes, we can.
COOPER: And the Internet, they were able to do things on the internet which Hillary Clinton could not do.
BORGER: They raised an awful lot of money off of the Internet. Don't forget, Hillary Clinton's campaign made a lot of mistakes there too and that helped Barack Obama. She ran essentially as an incumbent and this has really been and will be an election of change.
John McCain is running as a change candidate too. And so when you run as an incumbent, people associate you with the status quo. And he corralled huge numbers of people, small donations on the Internet and was able to sustain and keep his campaign going because of the technology and we saw a lot of that technology here tonight.
People weren't just sitting around waiting for Barack Obama. They were texting and raising money.
BROWN: Building on what Howard Dean started really in 2004.
KING: And the building part, Campbell, is what they believe will be the difference in November, from Facebook to MySpace to social networking sites I had never heard of.
COOPER: You can ask Wolf Blitzer about it. He twitters, he tweaks, he does it all.
KING: You go to the Obama Website and it gives you the tools to build your own page on your Website and essentially what they're saying is, if you're with us, great, get the tools here and go organize for us. You organize, we won't do it, you do it.
BLITZER: Let's find out how some of these bloggers -- what they were saying, what they were doing. Abbi Tatton is monitoring what the reaction on line and I assume it's been tumultuous, Abbi.
ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Absolutely, Wolf. There's been tens of thousands of people in that stadium tonight, many of them armed with cell phones, recording what was going on and posting it instantly on the Web.
This is from a blogger from New Mexico. He was there, right down on the field. You can see the atmosphere down there. But it's also we were watching these pictures all over the stadium. Here's one from further up in the nose bleed seats; the enthusiasm of the crowd right there. And there's also pictures coming in from watch parties across the United States as people gathered in bars and restaurants to see what was going on.
Looking around some of the blogs right now, some of the bloggers that were gathered in Denver to watch this tonight in the big tent as it was called, a blogging facility to watch the proceedings, at the convention, one of the posters saying, there's clapping, cheering, a sense of relief that this was the Barack Obama that they were waiting for. Wolf?
COOPER: Our coverage continues for another 15 minutes. "Larry King Live" is going to then be having an hour program. Let's check in with Larry and see what he has coming up -- Larry.
LARRY KING, CNN HOST: Anderson you bet. It was quite a night and you all covered it so well; a night for the history books. But can Barack Obama make that leap from candidate to president?
Republicans sound off on that and John McCain's running mate, who might that be? We'll talk about it all, midnight, 9:00 Pacific on "Larry King Live" next -- Anderson.
COOPER: Larry thanks. That's in, as I said, about 16 minutes from now. Our coverage though continues when we come back from this short break.
We're going to talk about what happens now. What happens tomorrow for the Democrats? What happens for the Republicans and the weeks ahead?
We'll be right back.
BLITZER: There were, a little while ago, more than 80,000 people who were crammed inside the stadium. Now most have left, not all. There's still plenty of people.
COOPER: There's about 10,000 more.
They've heard rumors that you're going to play keyboard a little bit.
BLITZER: They want to get their pictures taken with you, Anderson. So stand by.
Roland Martin, stop revving up those people back there.
ROLAND MARTIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Those are our viewers. Keep the ratings up.
BLITZER: Roland, give us your thoughts on what has tonight happened here in Denver.
MARTIN: I emailed one of Obama's closest aides and she said he had his Wheaties tonight. He came out the gate to take on Senator John McCain; didn't mince any words. But he also hit the critical things; that is, those pocketbook issues that people deal with. College loans he talked about that. Weaved in those who are poor, dealt with Katrina. And so, again, he went up to John McCain and he said look, Senator McCain, it's game on.
BLITZER: As much as we're looking at what has just happened, I guess we have to start getting ready for what's about to happen in St. Paul, Minnesota.
We've got some pictures, I want to show you guys these live pictures we're going to show you from the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. That's where we will be. I'll be flying out there early tomorrow morning.
That's inside. We'll be anchoring our coverage from the floor in St. Paul, just as we did this week here in Denver. And the Republicans are gearing up for their convention.
And by the way, this picture is from our platform on the floor at the Xcel Energy Center.
It's going to be a tough convention, there's no doubt about it. They're gearing up to respond to what the Democrats did this week and specifically to what Barack Obama said tonight.
John King, what's the latest? What do we know about a vice- presidential running mate for John McCain other than he's going to make an official announcement around noon tomorrow in Dayton, Ohio? The two candidates will be together. We'll, of course, have live coverage. But we know John McCain has made up his mind but we don't know who it is yet, do we?
J. KING: We do not. And throughout the night tonight, I've been emailing and calling and Gloria has been trying and I know Dana Bash is in Dayton where the rally will take place, has been trying.
We do know the decision has been made and we do know they made a deliberate decision to change their plan. At one point the plan was to leak out word of it some time just after Obama's speech ended.
They decided to change that and say this is Barack Obama's night, that they will not do that. The pick will be in Dayton tomorrow morning. It's one of the big pieces of the puzzle. We're still working sources to try to find out. I suspect we'll find out in the early morning hours.
You make an important point Wolf. The challenge for the Republicans was already huge. The fundamentals in this election are in favor of the Democrats. In that poll you just showed, not only does John McCain have to bring his running mate and introduce him to the party and it could be controversial. The Republicans have to say bye to George Bush and Dick Cheney who are still popular to most in that hall but not in the country at large.
I think this speech tonight raised the bar for what was already a very significant Republican challenge.
MARTIN: Well, I talked to a Republican source, three people are going to introduce John McCain next week, Michael Williams, chairman of Texas Railroad Commission; Tim Pawlenty, Governor of Minnesota; Charlie Crist, Governor of Florida. Now, I don't necessarily think they would have the vice-presidential nominee already planning to introduce John McCain.
BLITZER: Although a lot of people are thinking Tim Pawlenty.
MARTIN: I'm just simply passing on what I was told.
BROWN: There are two other challenges though that I think we have to acknowledge. One - can we give a nod to the stage crafters tonight and how on earth do you compete with that? Not only the numbers of people here but the music which was intended to evoke the emotions; the fireworks at the end. They went on maybe a little tinny bit too long. It started to feel like a halftime Super Bowl show at the end.
But how do they compete on any level with what happened here tonight in Minneapolis at the same time, Anderson? I know you've been paying close attention to what's going on in New Orleans. They could be competing with a hurricane next week as well.
COOPER: That of course is the other unknown at this point. I'm heading down to New Orleans tomorrow. We're going to be broadcasting "360" from New Orleans. That storm right now is anticipated to come landfall around Tuesday morning.
Politically, beyond the more important human aspects of this story, politically, what kind of an impact could this have? They must already be coming up with some contingencies.
BORGER: First of all, you heard Barack Obama tonight mention Katrina and mention government mismanagement, not paying attention to Katrina.
COOPER: Senator John McCain has mentioned it as well when he down to New Orleans. He spent time there.
BORGER: And McCain can use this in a way, whether he goes or not, who knows? But McCain could use this in a way to show that he would be a different kind of manager than George W. Bush. That he could lead and effectively manage this kind of a crisis.
So it's something they clearly are thinking about, although of course, nobody knows what's going to happen and everybody hopes that things are fine.
J. KING: Every contingency is on the table, including delaying the start of the convention to not having an acceptance speech on Thursday night if a major American city is under water. They hope that doesn't happen. They hope they don't have to use these contingencies.
But do not be surprised if in early days of the Republican convention, if it starts on time on Monday, you see John McCain, security conditions permitting, down in the affected areas in the Gulf Coast area.
COOPER: He might actually even go down there? J. KING: Yes, those are all possibilities. The storm is still out in the Gulf and let's hope and pray that it takes a turn and doesn't make landfall in the United States. But everyone knows the projected path right now and they understand that. And they are planning from A to Z about possibly having to change their convention.
BLITZER: Let me bring David Gergen in and ask him. David, if you were advising John McCain right now and you knew there was potentially a major hurricane, either a category 2 or 3, maybe even a category 4 moving through the Gulf towards Louisiana or Texas or even Pensacola, Florida, what do you do with the situation when you have your national convention come up?
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, there has been word as John King just said that the Republicans may decide to delay the start of their convention. John McCain is considering that. A possibility that George W. Bush will not come to Minneapolis if there's a big storm there.
I think the Republicans have shown a lot of wisdom tonight not, as someone just said, not to put their nominee out there for vice president. And I also thought by having an ad tonight that was positive from John McCain. It seems to me they've hit the right grace notes here in the last 24 hours and you have to give them credit for that.
But I want to go back to what Campbell Brown just said. Because it does seem the larger challenge coming out for the Republicans right now is, after a Democratic convention that started slowly but really caught fire, in which the Democrats came together. They had four nights of terrific speeches right at the close of each night and a huge amount of excitement and then I thought one of the best staged conventions, moving the whole convention from the convention center over to the stadium and make that work with those fireworks tonight showed that they've got a top notch organization.
They put together a really, really well managed convention. And for the Republicans, I think the question becomes how can you match the excitement, the tension that came out of this, how can you provide the oratories and have the finale that matches what the Democrats have done? The Republicans are very, very good at conventions but they have their work cut out for them now.
BLITZER: You know, as we watch this, we try to reflect on what has happened here through the course of these four days. I think it's a strong point that David Gergen makes and I want Carl Bernstein to weigh in as well.
It's going to be a tough act for the Republicans to follow, even if this Gustav simply went away and disappeared, it's still going to be a very tough act for the Republicans to follow.
BERNSTEIN: Both the Democrats here and then there was country music song by Brookes and Dunn, who would have thought it? Barack Obama has shown that he is the most disciplined politician we have seen in many years. He is about to enter a campaign against maybe the most undisciplined candidate, John McCain, which is one of his charms, that we've seen.
And the Republicans have got to find a way to run not just a disciplined convention, but a disciplined campaign that somehow meets this challenge that Obama has thrown out tonight, especially about a post partisan politics and ending cultural warfare.
There is great appeal to what Obama has said that goes beyond just Democrats and he's fused his movement with the Hillary Clinton movement. He's got the Clintons campaigning for him now in swing states. This is a different ball game and a different contest that the Republicans have to address in Minnesota.
COOPER: Larry King is going to have a lot more on the Republican view, the Republican response in just a few minutes, about four minutes from now. I just want to quickly go through our panel here.
A week like this is made up of moments large and small. Some of them you never even see on camera. Very quickly, Roland Martin, for you, the highlight?
MARTIN: Hillary Clinton, when they made that vote, I literally felt like that room, there was healing in that room; the energy changed in that room in a matter of three minutes.
J. KING: The faces of this Democrats party. They're black and white, young and old. They're not just what I'm used to seeing at past Democratic conventions where you see the teachers' union and the industrial unions dominating the delegates.
Barack Obama's Democratic Party looks different than Bill Clinton's Democratic Party.
COOPER: A woman probably about 55, 60 years old came up to me right before I came on. She said I'm so glad to see someone else here with white hair. I said don't worry about it, we've got Blitzer here. And John King is going a little gray, I think. Gloria?
BORGER: For me, it was Congressman John Lewis, who was beaten in Selma, jailed, has a history in the civil rights movement. The emotion, the tears, talking to him and hearing him speak; it was just remarkable for me.
BROWN: Same for me. Particularly some of the delegates I was talking to from Mississippi, and just the emotion involved and the history of this moment not believing that this day would ever come, given the history that they have lived.
COOPER: A lot of folks from the Mississippi delegation are behind us. I don't think they want to leave tonight.
BLITZER: It's also the 45th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech and there was a major, beautiful tribute to Dr. King that went off here tonight. COOPER: I just want to second what Roland said. For me, it was a moment that seemed to transcend politics and, again, not taking a political side, but just that moment after Hillary Clinton suggested the nomination, everyone seconded. And there was this moment where literally strangers who just happened to be stuck next to one another reached out and touched each other's shoulders or touched each other's arms and sort of held on to each other and I, frankly, have never seen that in a political setting.
MARTIN: And they grabbed her and said, "Thank You."
J. KING: We've known now for a couple of months that a major political party in the United States of America was going to nominate an African-American candidate. But only when he walked out and grabbed the sides of the podium, you could just sense the whole arena going, wow, this is real. This is actually going to happen. It was amazing.
BORGER: It was like waiting to exhale, you know.
BLITZER: I think all of us feel a sense of pride that we were able to report on what has been happening here this week. Because, you know, if we wouldn't have been here, we would have been watching it on television and we were blessed to have this front row seat to history.
When I say we are the best political team on television, I think it's fair to say the American public responded because more Americans watched CNN during this convention than any other cable or broadcast network and that's nothing to sneeze at.
COOPER: It was remarkable.
We want to thank all our viewers.
BLITZER: Let me tell. Our viewers, please stay tuned, "American Morning" tomorrow morning. John Roberts, Kiran Chetry, they'll be broadcasting. I'll be in St. Paul tomorrow for "The Situation Room," 4:00 p.m. Eastern.
Campbell Brown will be in "The Election Center." Anderson's going to be heading off to St. Paul -- excuse me, to New Orleans tomorrow to make sure that everything is safe and secure down there. We've got a lot of stuff coming up all next week in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Stay with CNN. Remember, this is the place to watch what's happening in the world.
Let's go to Larry. He's got a special "Larry King Live."