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Pennsylvania Votes; Sen. Claire McCaskill Sees 'Clear Path to Nomination' for Obama; President Bush Says U.S. is in a Slow Down, Not a Recession

Aired April 22, 2008 - 18:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And, to our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now, Pennsylvania votes, and Hillary Clinton hopes to walk away with the biggest prize left this primary season. But could her husband and his provocative new remarks get in her way?

Also this hour, Barack Obama's uphill battle. If the results are close tonight, will it be a moral victory for Barack Obama? This hour, new insight into what Pennsylvania voters are thinking about this bitter race.

And John McCain steps on his rivals' turf. He's keeping an eye on the Democrats and another eye on the troubled economy.

I'm Wolf Blitzer at the CNN Election Center, along with the best political team on television. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world on this very important political day here in the United States.

After weeks of waiting, the big night is finally here. In a matter of less than two hours, we will know -- start knowing the results of the Democratic race in Pennsylvania. And, eventually, later tonight, presumably we will know who is the winner. The countdown to the poll closing is under way, as I said, a little bit less than two hours to go.

Millions of people in Pennsylvania cast their ballots today, including hundreds of thousands of first-time voters wanting to take part in a wave of excitement surrounding this race.

And the candidates are forging ahead, giving their spin on what might happen tonight, Hillary Clinton hoping for a new shot of adrenaline for her campaign, Barack Obama downplaying expectations.

Every delegate makes a difference, and here's a look at the count so far. Even if Hillary Clinton wins tonight, it will be up to the superdelegates, though, to decide who gets the nomination. As always, CNN has the best political team on television at locations across the state, with every angle covered for you, starting right now.

Let's begin with our senior political correspondent, Candy Crowley. She's with the Clinton campaign in Philadelphia. Candy, what are they saying? What can we expect later tonight? What are you hearing from the Clinton people?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they do expect a good night. But what's interesting is, as they wind up this campaign, Obama and Clinton, they have found some agreement after a campaign everyone would admit had ratcheted up the bitter factor. In fact, both of them believe that anything above 50 percent is a win, and the Clinton camp expects it will be her win.


CROWLEY (voice-over): Hillary Clinton will leave Pennsylvania as she came in, courting voters and Democratic superdelegates likely to decide the race.

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I happen to think I'm the stronger candidate against Senator McCain.

CROWLEY: Pennsylvania is another in a series of do-or-dies for Clinton, and the polls point to a do. Even with a win she will still be behind in pledged delegates and the popular vote, but a win propels her into Indiana and North Carolina, and bolsters, she believes, that electability argument.

H. CLINTON: This will be one more in a long line of big states, states that Democrats have to win. You know, the road to the white House for a Democrat leads right through Pennsylvania, to Pennsylvania Avenue.

CROWLEY: While the candidate stayed on message, her husband got pulled off the mark with a blast from the past -- a question about a bitter race debate in South Carolina. He blames camp Obama.

WILLIAM JEFFERSON CLINTON, FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think that they played the race card on me, and we now know from memos from the campaign and everything that they planned to do it all along.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Hold on a second. So, former President Clinton dismissed my victory in South Carolina as being similar to Jesse Jackson, and he's suggesting that somehow I had something to do with it? OK. Well, you better ask him what he meant by that.

CROWLEY: So a reporter did just that, asking the former president what did he mean when he said the Obama camp played the race card.

W. CLINTON: No, no, no. That's not what I said. You always follow me around and play these little games.

CROWLEY: Meanwhile, back on the reservation...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you agree with that assertion?

H. CLINTON: Well, I think that we're going to stay focused on what voters are focused on.

CROWLEY: Geography can tell you a lot about what campaigns think. Barack Obama left for Indiana this afternoon. Hillary Clinton will be in Pennsylvania tonight, waiting for the results.


CROWLEY: We, of course, are here at her headquarters, Wolf, and we will be here throughout the night. We expect to see her some time between 9:30 and 10:00 to claim what they really believe will be a victory for her -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Be addressing her supporters there right behind you.

Candy, thanks very much.

We will, of course, carry her remarks once she appears.

Barack Obama already is looking beyond what he calls his uphill battle in Pennsylvania to the primaries in two weeks on May 6.

Our Suzanne Malveaux is already in Indiana, where Obama will spend this primary night.

Has Obama basically written off Pennsylvania, Suzanne?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: You know, he's already conceded, essentially, that the numbers and the odds do not look good for him, but it really is kind of a part of what he's been talking about, his message, portraying himself as the underdog.

Barack Obama all day has really been trying to project a sense of confidence that, no matter what happens in Pennsylvania, that, ultimately, he's going to be the nominee. He says that the process is coming close to an end. He's won twice as many states. He's ahead in the pledged delegates.

And the way the aides say the way they look at this is that this is a fight over pledged delegates. They do not believe that ultimately when this primary is over in Pennsylvania that that equation, that number, is going to make all that much difference to her advantage.


MALVEAUX (voice-over): As voters began going to the polls, Obama, with his wife, Michelle, sat at a Pittsburgh diner, gushing over pancakes and the owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

OBAMA: Do you guys know Mr. Rooney?

MALVEAUX: Both downplayed the impact of Obama potentially losing here, saying cutting into Hillary Clinton's lead was good enough.

OBAMA: Senator Clinton had a 20-point lead to start with. We think we closed it, but, you know, we, you know, still I think have to consider ourselves the underdogs. A lot of this will depend on turnout. It's a beautiful day.

MICHELLE OBAMA, WIFE OF BARACK OBAMA: We got people who up until the very last minute are undecided. So, it's really hard to know how that's going to play out in the polls. So, we're just happy to see that there's great turnout.

MALVEAUX: But after spending tens of millions of dollars here, and six weeks of baby kissing, bowling, beer drinking and bickering, aides concede Obama cannot afford a blowout. Their campaign has outspent Hillary Clinton here more than two-to-one. Obama must continue to project confidence to future voters and undecided superdelegates that he can seal the deal.

OBAMA: Look, the -- I think we can win no matter what the results. The polling shows we can win no matter what the results. You know, it -- when I'm the nominee, Ed Rendell's going to be working for me just as hard as he's been working for Senator Clinton.

MALVEAUX: Obama has been fiercely fighting to cut into Clinton's base of loyal voters in Pennsylvania who are traditionally working class, white, older, Catholic. Obama is heavily counting on those who have historically favored him -- newly registered Democrats, African- Americans, young voters, and those generally wealthier and highly educated.

Obama's campaign admits they would love to end the race today, but suspect Pennsylvania will not be the game-changer.

OBAMA: You know, I have come to conclude that this race will, you know, continue until the last primary or caucus vote is cast.


MALVEAUX: So, Wolf, this is the way aides put it. They say, if Hillary Clinton gets, say, a lead of 15 or 20 percent, she's got a legitimate case to go on and make her case to the superdelegates.

Let's say it's five percent. They believe that that is negligible. One aide said that, if it's between those numbers, five and 15, then they are in purgatory. That is how they describe it. But, essentially, Barack Obama is going to be here tonight with his wife, Michelle, essentially moving on fighting for Indiana. One of the people who is going to be with him, endorsing him, is rocker John Mellencamp. He's from a small town in Indiana. He sings "Small Town." And that of course is the message. He's going to go after those small town voters -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Suzanne, thanks very much.

And we're getting more exit poll information just coming into THE SITUATION ROOM from actual voters in Pennsylvania.

Let's go back to our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider.

What have we found, Bill? WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, we asked the voters in Pennsylvania, forget who you voted for just now in the election today. Who do you think is going to get the Democratic nomination?

And, there, the answer was pretty interesting. Fifty-four percent, a majority of the voters in Pennsylvania, Democrats who voted today, said they believe the Democratic nomination is going to go to Barack Obama -- 43 percent say Hillary Clinton will ultimately win the Democratic nomination.

Does that satisfy those Democratic voters Pennsylvania? Well, a quarter say they would only be satisfied if Obama wins. Slightly more say they would only be satisfied if Hillary Clinton wins, about a third. But the largest number, 38 percent, said they would be happy if either one of them wins.

So, clearly, over 60 percent say they would be happy with Obama, they would be happy with Clinton, but they do think Obama is going to get nomination - Wolf.

BLITZER: Thanks very much, Bill, for that.

Let's go back to Jack. He's got "The Cafferty File."

Exciting day here, Jack.


The winner of today's contest in Pennsylvania may not necessarily be the candidate who gets most votes. Say what? In other words, all eyes on the margin of Hillary Clinton's victory, provided she wins, as expected.

"The Los Angeles Times" suggests Clinton could win, but lose. If Obama keeps the race closer than expected, he could be considered the winner. Some uncommitted superdelegates say that Clinton must win by at least 10 points to show that she hasn't lost touch with working- class voters in a state like Pennsylvania, where she has personal roots.

If Clinton can pull that off in a state where she was outspent more than two-to-one by Barack Obama, she can then go to those uncommitted superdelegates and enlist their support. But, if Obama keeps the margin close, delivers perhaps an unexpected win, the pressure will mount on Hillary Clinton to cash in her chips and give up.

Hillary Clinton's in trouble already, a recent poll showing Democrats by a two-to-one margin think Obama's the best candidate. Some Democratic elders are beginning to call for the nomination process to end sooner, rather than later. She's behind in pledged delegates. She's behind in the popular vote. She's behind in the number of states won. And her once commanding lead among the superdelegates has dwindled to fewer than 30 now. Insiders tell "The New York Daily News," the only way that Hillary Clinton will drop out soon is if she loses today in Pennsylvania and runs out of money. Speaking of which, it's reported Clinton's campaign is now in debt to the tune of several million dollars.

So, here's the question: If Hillary Clinton doesn't win Pennsylvania by at least 10 points, should she quit the race?

Go to Post a comment on my blog.

A lot of pressure. She's in a position to win, and yet she could not win even if she wins.

BLITZER: But she's not going to drop out if she wins.

CAFFERTY: She's not?

BLITZER: No. If she wins, even if she wins by one or two points, she will stay in another two weeks and she will find -- find the money, I'm sure.

CAFFERTY: You think so?

BLITZER: I think so. Well, we will see.


CAFFERTY: You can go to the bank with that stuff.


CAFFERTY: If the Wolf man said it, take it to the bank.

BLITZER: If she loses, then the pressure will be enormous on her to drop out. But, if she wins, she says a win is a win.


CAFFERTY: We will see.

BLITZER: We will see.

Barack Obama supporter Senator Claire McCaskill, she is standing by live. We will talk to her. I will ask her why the candidate is deciding against another debate before another upcoming primary.

Also, many of you feel it, but President Bush says it isn't so. Despite high gas prices and low ham -- low home values, that is, he says the country is not in a recession.

And, in less than two hours, an important contest finally will be settled. We're waiting for the polls to close in Pennsylvania. We're also looking at clues who might win.


BLITZER: Senator Barack Obama has slammed Senator Hillary Clinton's judgment and accused her of being a Washington game-player. Clinton suggests Obama's not quite ready for the White House and is an elitist. And yet both sides say they want to run a positive campaign.

Earlier today here in THE SITUATION ROOM, I spoke with the Clinton communications director Howard Wolfson.

Joining us now is Senator Claire McCaskill. She's an Obama supporter, a Democrat from Missouri.

Senator, thanks very much for coming in.


BLITZER: I -- he had made a big deal about the fact, Howard Wolfson, that Senator Obama refuses to have another debate with Hillary Clinton in North Carolina before the North Carolina contest two weeks from today.

How come he decided he didn't want to go forward with that debate in North Carolina?

MCCASKILL: Well, I think there have been 21 televised debates in this contest. Any American who wants to see these two debate has had an opportunity to do so.

What he wants to do is make sure the people of North Carolina and Indiana get a chance to know him. As you know, Wolf, debates take several days out of the schedule. It's not just showing up at the time the cameras go on. It's preparation, and it's a scheduling bump.

So, I think he really wants to stay on the ground and make sure people understand that he gets it. He gets it that we're in a recession. He gets it that we can't afford to pay our bills right now in America, whether it's the government or whether it's families around the kitchen table. And that's what he wants to go out and do the next couple of weeks in Indiana and North Carolina.

BLITZER: As a Democrat, how worried are you about the increasingly nasty tone of this Democratic presidential contest?

MCCASKILL: Well, Senator Obama has a very clear path to the nomination. Senator Clinton doesn't. So, she is having to go to extraordinary lengths to try to slow down or throw nails in front of the bus, so to speak, to slow down Senator Obama.

It hasn't worked with the superdelegates, Wolf. And what is interesting to me is most Americans don't know that, in the last 60 days, Barack Obama has won the superdelegate race 83-5. I mean, that's -- he got more superdelegate -- he got probably as many superdelegates last week as Clinton will tonight.

(CROSSTALK) BLITZER: He's outspent her in Pennsylvania at least two-to-one, maybe three-to-one. And it looks, at least if you believe in the polls going into today, that she's going to win in Pennsylvania.

Why -- how do you explain the fact that she's overcome this huge spending deficit and has done -- presumably, she will do pretty well tonight?

MCCASKILL: Listen, he has narrowed an insurmountable lead. She was more than 20 points up, well-known in the state, beloved by the traditional Democrats in Pennsylvania, she and her husband, a political dynasty with the backing of the political institution of the very effective Ed Rendell and the mayors of the two major cities.

So, there was quite a hill to climb in Pennsylvania for Barack Obama. And the fact that he's been able to narrow it, as he has, I think shows that many people in Pennsylvania are getting to know him and getting comfortable with the fact that he really is going to change Washington.

You know, you can't expect people who have been here for decades and decades and decades to have their finger on the pulse about how badly America wants us to do this differently around this building and around the Capitol.

BLITZER: As you know, the target audience going, at least in large measure, going forward tonight are those superdelegates, who will be decisive when all the political dust settles.

The Clinton folks make the argument, she's won, what, with the exception of Illinois, all the major, all the big states, which are so critical come November in the Electoral College. Why is he having so much trouble winning those big states, like Ohio and New York, or New Jersey, or California?

MCCASKILL: First of all, there's a lot more ground to cover. Many of them came in a very compressed schedule.

And, you know, winning a primary is not the same as competing in the general. No one believes that the Democratic nominee is not going to win New York and California. No one believes the Democratic nominee is not going to win Massachusetts.

And if you look at the national polling right now, Barack Obama is doing better against John McCain than Hillary Clinton on a national basis and has opened a very wide lead nationally among Democrats.

I think Hillary Clinton is going to have to be very careful, because, if she gets too negative, it's going to chase superdelegates the other way, because they're going to say, wait a minute, you're now doing serious damage to our nominee. We need to get this thing over. So, I think she's going to have to tread very carefully going forward over the next few weeks.

BLITZER: Senator Claire McCaskill coming in from Missouri. She's joining us from the U.S. Senate. I know that you're very happy Barack Obama did carry your home state of Missouri.

MCCASKILL: Absolutely.

BLITZER: Thanks very much for coming in.

MCCASKILL: Thank you.

BLITZER: And we're, what, less than two hours away from the Pennsylvania contest being decided. The polls there will be closing at 8:00 p.m. Eastern.

As the Democrats wait it out, John McCain heads to a Democratic stronghold, trying to take advantage of their fight.

And what's on the minds of the voters like you? We're looking at the exit polls of Pennsylvania voters. One group we're looking at, what gun owners are saying. Bill Schneider is crunching the numbers.

We will have much more straight ahead right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: While the Democrats duke it out in Pennsylvania today, John McCain is practically a stone's throw away, talking about his would-be rivals this fall.

Let's go to Dana Bash. She's in Ohio in the border town of Youngstown, if you will.

Dana, McCain is trying to steal some of the Democrats' thunder, and he's also trying to steal some of their votes. What's going on?


But let's face it. McCain can look for as much thunder and needs as much thunder as he can find right now, as the Democrats battle it out. And that is one of the reasons why he came here to this economically depressed, but heavily Democratic part of Ohio, arguing, against political odds, that his policies will help the people here. He insists that he's really focused on crafting his own candidacy. But make no mistake about it. He's watching very closely the Democratic race across the border.


BASH (voice-over): Staged in front of a shuttered steel plant, sleeves rolled up, John McCain tried to show voters in this economically battered blue-collar town he gets it.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We do not underestimate or understate the difficulties and challenges that America faces today. BASH: Youngstown, Ohio, is a Democratic stronghold. McCain is trying to make inroads here as he closely tracks the Democrats' race to be his opponent.

MCCAIN: It's a big news day in politics, with the -- with the Pennsylvania primary and all. And I have been left recently in the unfamiliar position of facing no opposition with my own -- within my own party.

BASH: McCain insists he's neutral on who wins Pennsylvania or Democratic contests beyond.

MCCAIN: I have never stated whether I wanted this -- this election to stretch out or not. That's up to the Democratic Party voters, and I have nothing to do with that.

BASH: But, privately, McCain advisers tell CNN they do have a view. They have concluded that, the longer the Democrats battle, the better it is for McCain. And many in his camp are secretly rooting for a Clinton win in Pennsylvania to keep the contest going.

Publicly, though, the candidate talks about analysis he saw on TV, arguing, a prolonged Democratic race is good for them, bad for him.

MCCAIN: That they are registering more voters, that it's getting more interest, that they're raising more money, et cetera, I don't have -- I don't have a view on that.

BASH: But just in case some Democrats are turned off by the candidate they ultimately get, McCain is spending all week appealing to traditionally Democratic voters, even relating their plight to his own political struggles.

MCCAIN: If you hold on, if you don't quit, no matter what the odds are, sometimes, life will surprise you.


BASH: And McCain aides are actively devising two general election strategies, one against each of the Democratic candidates. More and more, they do think Barack Obama will be their opponent in the fall. And, more and more, they think that's OK, because, for various reasons, Wolf, they think Hillary Clinton at this point may be harder to beat.

BLITZER: Dana, thanks very much -- Dana Bash reporting.

We're only a little bit more than an hour-and-a-half away from the polls closing in Pennsylvania. Barack Obama says turnout will decide whether he can prevent Senator Clinton from getting a big victory. The best political team on television is standing by.

And Obama suggested that some Pennsylvanians are bitter and clinging to their guns. Did that sway voters who are gun owners? More insight from the exit polls -- Bill Schneider standing by for that right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: To our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Happening now, huge voter turnout in Pennsylvania today, many of them first-time voters. We're going to show you what it might mean for Hillary Clinton in what could be a make-or-break contest today.

Barack Obama's warning to Democrats -- you're going to find out what he says may come back to haunt the party in November.

Plus, President Bush insisting the U.S. economy is just experiencing a slowdown, not a recession -- all of this coming up, plus the best political team on television.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

We're getting new exit poll numbers coming in from the actual voters in Pennsylvania.

Let's go back to our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider.

Bill, what are we learning?

SCHNEIDER: Well, Wolf, you might have heard that Barack Obama made a statement in San Francisco to a group of contributors that a lot of small-town and rural voters in Pennsylvania cling to guns and religion out of frustration and bitterness at their economic situation.

Well, it turns out there are a lot of gun owners and a lot of very religious voters among Democrats in Pennsylvania -- 37 percent of them say they have a gun in the household. How did they vote? The answer is, not for Obama.

They voted 58 percent for Hillary Clinton, 42 percent for Barack Obama. Clearly, Clinton carried those gun owners, who are not insignificant in number in Pennsylvania. How about those who attend church every week? That's 39 percent of the Democratic primary voters in Pennsylvania. And, again, they didn't vote for Obama, 59 percent for Clinton, 41 percent for Obama.

So, he didn't carry either of those two not-inconsiderable groups in the Pennsylvania primary -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Thank you very much, Bill.

A hundred and fifty-eight delegates are at stake in Pennsylvania today and the Democratic candidates want to make sure that every vote counts.

Let's go back to our Internet reporter, Abbi Tatton.

Abbi, what are the candidates, what are they doing online to make sure the primary is running smoothly? ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Wolf, there are about 200,000 newly registered voters in Pennsylvania. And the Barack Obama campaign online is making sure that those that are supporting their candidate know their rights. They've got this page walking people through the voter I.D. requirements for first time voters, explaining the rules. And they've also got an online form where you can submit any voting problem you encounter. This is part of their National Voter Protection Center, an area of their Web site that's been signing up volunteer lawyers to help with the campaign.

Hillary Clinton has a similar icon here on her Web site to report voting problems -- people trying to keep others from voting that can be submitted to the campaign.

What we're hearing from Pennsylvania voting officials is that there have been no major problems. If you want to submit your own experience today, you can do that at -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Let's hope it stays like that -- no major problems at the polls.

Thank you, Abbi.

Let's discuss the Pennsylvania primary right now with our senior political analyst, Gloria Borger; our own Jack Cafferty; and our senior analyst, Jeff Toobin. They are all part of the best political team on television.

One thing, Jack, that's very obvious, it's a huge turnout today in Pennsylvania and a lot of these people are first time voters.

What do you think?

CAFFERTY: Well, the 200,000 plus people who registered in Pennsylvania for the first time, the overwhelming majority Democrats. A hundred seventy-eight thousand additional people changed their registration in Pennsylvania, overwhelming majority Democrats. So all these hypothetical match-ups with John McCain -- I think McCain is going to have problems.

The Democratic interest in this election in state after state after state has been record-breaking. And Pennsylvania is no different. And they're not going to vote for John McCain, when it's all said and done. They're going to vote for Obama or for Hillary Clinton.

BLITZER: It's a pretty impressive turnout the Democrats have had, not only in Pennsylvania, but in all of these primaries and caucuses so far.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. I think it shows the intensity, Wolf, on the Democratic side. You've had eight years of a Republican presidency. It's clear that Democrats want change in the White House. And so they're -- they're really turning out to vote. I also think that it reflects the fact that we've had a lot of primaries and that people believe that their votes count. And it's happened in state after state after state.

So a lot of Democrats I talk to say oh, this primary system is killing us. But on the other hand, lots of folks are feeling enfranchised.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: And it's not just turnout, it's money. Democrats are raising money at an absolutely unbelievable clip -- $40 million a month, $30 million a month. And John McCain, the presumptive nominee, is raising $15 million a month -- a vast difference that's without precedent in recent American history.

BLITZER: Here's a sound bite. I want to play this sound bite that Hillary Clinton had today.

Listen to this.


H. CLINTON: We will have a unified Democratic Party and I will make the strongest possible case across this country that whatever differences Senator Obama and I may have -- and we do have them. And it is perfectly legitimate for us to talk about them, explain them, compare and contrast us -- that pales in comparison to the differences we have with Senator McCain.


BLITZER: That's reaching out on Hillary Clinton's part.


BLITZER: Why are you chuckling?

CAFFERTY: Oh, it's downright conciliatory, isn't it?


CAFFERTY: Compared to some of the bitterness that's been in the campaign.

Look, this idea that Democrats are not going to vote for Obama if Hillary is the nominee and vice versa, I think, is bogus, for the reasons we're just talking about. There is a record of Republican rule in this country that doesn't go down well with the voters. Eighty percent of the country thinks we're headed in the wrong direction. The Democrats will unite behind whichever of these two ends up the nominee and I think McCain has got his work cut out for him.

BLITZER: Having said that, though, Gloria -- and correct me if I'm wrong. There will be some Hillary Clinton die-hard supporters...

BORGER: Yes. BLITZER: ...that will be so upset, they won't vote for Barack Obama and vice versa, if she were to get the nomination.

BORGER: I think it depends on how the peace treaty is done. Because otherwise you're going to have people on both sides who feel cheated one way or another. And when you have a large percentage of Democratic voters feeling cheated, that's not really good for the Democratic Party.

So I think Howard Dean has a real problem on his hands right now.

BLITZER: To get that party united.

BORGER: Yes, absolutely.

TOOBIN: If you look at the exit poll data, Hillary Clinton should have been talking that way more...

CAFFERTY: All along.

TOOBIN: ...and attacking less.

BLITZER: Because you think the attacking...

TOOBIN: Well, she...

BLITZER: ...the negative campaigning was counterproductive?

TOOBIN: Absolutely.

BORGER: It hurts her.

TOOBIN: I think if you look at the exit polls, you see that people think she's run a more negative campaign, they trust her less. And I think that's a consequence of the harsh exchanges, which, I think it's safe to say, she's been more aggressive in.

BORGER: Well, it's also easier to sound conciliatory when you think you're winning. And maybe she thinks she's going to win tonight so she can be a little...

BLITZER: More gracious.

BORGER: ...more gracious. Right.

TOOBIN: But I think it would have been better in the debates. Democrats want to hear that. I mean Democrats want to win this election desperately...


TOOBIN: And a message of unity, I think, plays very well with them.

CAFFERTY: Well, and she's -- we saw the same thing in New Hampshire at the last minute, remember? She found her voice.

BORGER: Well, they liked him in the Kodak debate that you did.

BLITZER: Well, a lot of Democrats, you know, just want to see peace in the party...

BORGER: Right. Right. Sure.

BLITZER: Because they believe that if the stars are aligned such that if the Democrats can't win the presidency this time, they might as well just pack it up and think about...

BORGER: Give up and retire.


CAFFERTY: Peace in the party?

They're Democrats. It probably isn't going to happen.

BLITZER: Probably not.

All right guys, stand by for a moment. We're going to continue this conversation.

The U.S. is facing, as all of us know, some very tough economic times. But is it actually a recession? President Bush says no. Some people say he's out of touch.

Plus, is the Clinton/Obama battle tearing the Democratic Party apart? We're going to continue our discussion on that front, as we get ready for the results to come in from Pennsylvania.

Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.



GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're not in a recession. We're in a slowdown. We grew in the fourth quarter of last year. We haven't had first quarter growth statistics yet. But there's no question we're in a slowdown.


BLITZER: All right. That's President Bush speaking today about the state of the U.S. economy.

Jack, not in a recession yet, in a slowdown.

CAFFERTY: Well, technically he's right. It takes two negative quarters of GDP growth...

BLITZER: Six months, in other words. CAFFERTY: Right. And we haven't had those yet.

However, the home foreclosure rate is up 357 percent in the State of California over a year ago. Gasoline average for a gallon of unleaded, $3.51. Unemployment's gone up. Corporate profits are going down. We lost 63,000 jobs last month. If we're not in a recession, we're gazing into the crevice.

TOOBIN: You know, among the exit poll numbers that Bill Schneider shared with us earlier, 89 percent of the voters today in Pennsylvania -- 89 percent thought it was a serious recession or a moderate recession. But it was a recession. What, only 10 percent didn't think the U.S. was in a recession.

BORGER: You know, Wolf, there's a question they ask in these exit polls, too, about cares about people like me. And if George Bush -- I was watching that clip and I was thinking, if he were running for reelection right now, do you think he would have said that?

No. He...

BLITZER: Because McCain says the country is in a recession.

BORGER: McCain says the country is in a recession because he would have to say I sort of feel your pain. Now what he's doing is he's trying to defend his record and his economic legacy. He's clearly not thinking about the third term.

TOOBIN: You know, the Gallup poll came out today, showing that George Bush has the lowest approval rating in the history of the Gallup poll.


TOOBIN: And, you know, he is going to have a new last name this fall. It's going to be McCain -- the Bush/McCain record, the Bush/McCain...

BORGER: Right.


TOOBIN: I mean the Democrats are going to do their best to run against him.

CAFFERTY: It makes sense.

TOOBIN: Because who wouldn't want to run against someone who's so unpopular?


TOOBIN: And the challenge for John McCain is going to be to separate himself while keeping those Republican votes.

BLITZER: But having said all that, Jack, aren't you amazed that in these hypothetical match-ups, whether nationally or in the key battleground states like Ohio or Florida, McCain is very competitive with either Clinton or Obama.

CAFFERTY: I think those are misleading for this reason. They're hypothetical match-ups against a Democratic candidate when there are two Democratic candidates in the race.

If you did hypothetical match-ups of McCain versus Obama and Clinton, I think you'd see different numbers. And I think once the Democratic nomination is decided, you'll see some distance open up in those polls.

BLITZER: Do you agree?

BORGER: Yes. McCain's not running against anyone, really, right now. So he's got this sort of open field. He's doing a lot of goodwill -- this is my biography tour goodwill. I want to reach out to America tour. So, you know, he's having a grand old time and nobody is concentrating on what his negatives might be, such as the war in Iraq.

So I think you can't pay a lot of attention to those numbers.

TOOBIN: I don't think you can dismiss it like that. I think John McCain is a very strong candidate...

BORGER: Yes. Yes.

TOOBIN: I think Republicans usually win presidential elections in the United States. So the fact that he is close, even in this face of a very unpopular war, a lousy economy, shows that he's going to be a tough candidate for any Democrat to beat.

BORGER: I agree with that, too. I think...

BLITZER: All right, we agree. All of us agree.

BORGER: We agree.

TOOBIN: We agree.

BLITZER: Isn't this great?

All right guys, stand by...

CAFFERTY: You can sing "Kumbaya" now.


BLITZER: Thanks very much.

So will Barack Obama voters break for McCain if their candidate doesn't win the nomination?

It's a huge issue for the Democratic Party. We have some new exit poll numbers coming in with the answer to that question. Plus, breaking down the Pennsylvania vote -- we'll show you what's happening in this closely watched primary. Our own John King is working the wall for us right now.

Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: This just coming in. We're getting more exit poll numbers here in THE SITUATION ROOM. We're looking at the exit polls for signs of a divide in the Democratic Party.

Let's go back to Bill Schneider.

What are you picking up -- Bill?

SCHNEIDER: We're picking up that divide you just talked about.

What would happen if the Democrats nominate Hillary Clinton for President in November? What would the Obama voters do?

We asked them in Pennsylvania today. Two-thirds of them say, yes, they'd vote for Hillary Clinton. But one third would drift away -- 17 percent for McCain. And 12 percent say they wouldn't vote. The Democrats would have to work hard to get that one third back in the fold.

And if you think that's going to be tough, look at what would happen if Obama is the nominee. We asked Hillary Clinton voters, how would you vote if Obama is the nominee?

And just half -- 50 percent -- only half of the Clinton voters say they would vote for Barack Obama if he is the Democratic nominee. A quarter would vote for John McCain. And 19 percent say they wouldn't vote at all.

So the division in the Democratic Party is getting serious. And the longer this goes on, the more serious it's likely to be.

BLITZER: And, briefly, Bill, explain to our viewers out there these exit polls. We hear a lot about the exit polls. These were polls taken of voters actually after they done -- after they actually cast their ballots.

SCHNEIDER: That's right. They were all interviewed today as they left their polling places. And they were interviewed by our interviewers as they left the polling places. So we asked them not only how did they vote, but why they voted for their candidate and some characteristics -- their age, their sex, their race, other such things -- to see if we could get some idea of what kinds of people were voting for each of the two candidates.

We compiled them all very rapidly today and we present those results to you now in our exit poll.

BLITZER: Exit polls of actually voters, not individuals who didn't bother to show up, not likely voters, but real voters themselves.

SCHNEIDER: All voters.

BLITZER: Bill, stay with us. Don't go away.

Let's go back to Jack. He's got "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

CAFFERTY: The question this hour -- the conventional wisdom is that Hillary Clinton has got to win Pennsylvania by at least 10 points to remain viable as an opponent to Barack Obama -- If she wins by less than that, should she quit the race?

Allan writes from Cameron Park, California: "No. She should wait until all the primaries are over, at least. I hope Clinton wins. She's the only one who can turn things around. Obama is an empty suit. He has no record of accomplishment and will be eaten alive by the Republicans."

Carol in Tennessee writes: "Everyone who's followed this campaign knows that if the positions were reversed, this would have been over six weeks ago. The Clinton machine would have seen to it. If she had 28 states, more of the popular vote, more delegates and he'd won the big states, they would have screamed foul. She'll be taken out in a straight jacket, kicking and screaming, with Bill right behind her. And they wonder why young people don't get interested in politics."

Robert in Virginia writes: "Neither Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama can drop out of the Democratic primary at this point given their positions in history as the first woman, the first African-American to have a chance to win the Democratic presidential nomination. I think they have to take this all the way to the convention."

Harry in Kentucky: "Come on, Jack, why should she drop out? This is a woman who is behind in every statistical category except number of pantsuits, yet insists that she's the more electable. Besides, given her and Bill's recent track record, would we really believe her if she did say she was dropping out?"

Lori in Iowa: "No, Jack, she should not quit if she doesn't win by more than 10 points. She wins, but she loses. It sounds like some great logic there. The point is, she would win another large Electoral College state. She can win the big states. The die-hard Democrats want a Democrat in office. Why would anyone want her to quit just because she's winning?"

And Carrie in Detroit writes: "Jack, the sensible thing would be to check into an old folks home, along with Bill, and take James Carville along for company."

If you didn't see your e-mail here, you can go to my blog at and look for yours there, along with hundreds of others.

BLITZER: Thank you very much.

CAFFERTY: You're most welcome.

BLITZER: Jack Cafferty with "The Cafferty File."

We're going to take a quick break. When we come back, John King -- he's crunching the numbers in Pennsylvania right now. He's at the wall. John King and much more of our coverage coming up.

We're a little bit more than one hour away from the polls closing in Pennsylvania.


BLITZER: A little bit more than one hour from now, the polls will be closing in Pennsylvania.

Let's take a look at some of the trends, though, that potentially we could be seeing.

John King is here -- here at our wall. Walk us through some of the specifics of what you want to see.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The first thing I want to do, Wolf, is just show viewers the neighborhood. I'm going to stretch the map out a little bit before we do that.

Look at the states surrounding Pennsylvania. It gives you a good glimpse of what we're going to look for tonight.

Hillary Clinton won New York. She won Ohio. Barack Obama won Delaware and Maryland. But Hillary Clinton did well in these rural counties on the edge of Maryland and Hillary Clinton carried New Jersey over here.

So if you look at the neighborhood that's voted so far, it tells you Hillary Clinton should do pretty well here in Pennsylvania.

But let's take it out and let's look more closely at the state. It is a big state, as you've been talking with Bill Schneider, and also a very diverse state.

Let's start in the east, over here in the Philadelphia area. If there is to be a Barack Obama surprise and a come back -- a come from behind win for Obama, it will happen because of what happens inside this red line.

What's inside the red line? The African-American vote in Philadelphia -- more than half of the vote today in the city itself we expect to be African-American. Barack Obama needs high turnout and high margins over Hillary Clinton. One thing we will watch as the results come in, what's happening in Philadelphia.

Then, these suburban counties. They will be critical in November in Pennsylvania. They are critical tonight. Bucks County is now more Democrats than Republicans. That's a change from just three months ago. In part, many Independents and Republicans switched over. The Obama campaign gets a lot of credit for that. Watch the margin in Bucks County, down here in Montgomery County and in Delaware, in Chester County -- the four suburban collar counties around Philadelphia.

All told, Wolf, inside this red line will be about 30 percent of the statewide vote tonight if the turnout is where Obama needs it. So if there is to be a surprise by Barack Obama, it will be anchored right here in the southeast corner.

Let's leave that up and pull this out a little bit.

For Hillary Clinton, blue collar white voters are critical. They are found here, from Scranton, where she has roots, down through Redding. And they are found out here, from Erie in the northwest to Pittsburgh down in the old steel and coal towns here -- steel and coal towns here critical, not only that Senator Clinton carry these areas, but that she run up the margins and run them up pretty good.

A couple of other quick things. We'll move on (INAUDIBLE) questions. Remember, it's the second oldest state in the country, Pennsylvania is. Hillary Clinton does well with elderly votes, especially those 65 and above. And it is a very highly Catholic state. That traditionally has been Hillary Clinton's vote. The Archdiocese of Pittsburgh, in particular, is a place you'll want to watch. More than 800,000 Catholics right out here in this area, in the southwestern corner of the state. Watch the Catholic vote out there to see if Hillary Clinton is running and getting the percentages among those constituency groups that she needs to get.

BLITZER: There's no doubt, though, that in the middle part of the state -- and there's a wide area -- but -- and that's pretty much Republican, at least the national elections. But there aren't a whole lot of people there compared to Philadelphia or Pittsburgh and those areas.

KING: You're absolutely right. The top five cities are Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Erie, Allentown and Redding. So, out here in the middle, the capital of Harrisburg is very rural, very sparse populations. But it's critically important.

And let's bring a little color to the map to show why. I'm going to go back to the 2004 general election.

Look at the middle of the state. That's George Bush's vote. He is red there. Now you say, why do we care about Republicans tonight in a Democratic primary?

A lot of these people are Democrats, too. There are enough Democrats out here -- they tend to vote Republican for president in general elections, while mostly Republicans in these areas, the Democrats that are in these counties, Wolf -- and you're dead right, these are very rural places. Look, Center County, 1 percent of the state's population. Move next door here, Clinton County, less than 1 percent of the state's population.

So in terms of the numbers, not a lot of people. If it is a close race and we are going later into the night, this is conservative, white, rural country, where Senator Clinton needs to do very well. So you're looking at a Republican general election map tonight. But if this is not filled in tonight for Senator Clinton, her color later tonight, that's a sign of trouble for her in Pennsylvania.

BLITZER: And, as you say, Pennsylvania is surrounded by states where Hillary Clinton did well. In Ohio, she did win by 10 points, 54- 44.

KING: Right.

BLITZER: I think in New Jersey she won by 10 points, as well. Her home state of New York, she obviously did well. So it does bode well for her tonight.

But having said all that, he's really outspent her in Pennsylvania at least two to one, maybe three to one.

KING: He has outspent here. And let's go back to the map again and look. I'm going to clear this so it doesn't confuse anybody.

You have several media markets. The biggest ones are down here in Philadelphia. This is the biggest media market in the state right here. There's another media market up here, Scranton and Wilkes-Barre area. And over in Pittsburgh, you have separate TV stations, as well as a smaller market way up in Erie.

So there are several different media markets. And later tonight, we're going to show you some of the different messages in each of these markets. But Senator Obama has focused a lot of money down in this area, in the suburbs and the city. Senator Clinton has the Philadelphia mayor, Michael Nutter, an African-American.

Some controversy in his community, why are you supporting Clinton?

He did an ad right here in the center of Philadelphia explaining his support for her, saying I support her because I think she's a better candidate, she would be a better president.

We'll watch to see if Mayor Nutter -- one of the story lines could be tonight, if Obama wins the black vote, but not by a huge margin, did Mayor Nutter help her a little bit?

BLITZER: Well, we -- on that point, Bill Schneider was saying the exit polls show he's going to get 92 percent of the African- American vote, which is a huge, huge number.

KING: A huge number. And if he holds that number, then the question becomes what is the turnout?

If he's getting 92 percent of the vote, the question becomes how many voters are we talking about?

And for him to have a chance -- again, for Barack Obama to have a chance, he has to get huge turnout. This can be 12 percent of the state's population. In a Democratic primary, it can be an even a higher percentage coming out of Philadelphia.

If he's getting eight or 10 or nine of 10 African-American votes, he needs a very high turnout here to have a chance in the state.

BLITZER: And she's winning decisively the elder -- the older vote, people 65 and older.

KING: Right.

BLITZER: Historically, they vote in much bigger percentages than younger voters.

KING: They tend to. And you'll have a very older electorate in Pennsylvania than you would, say, in the other battleground states. Again, more Catholic voters. So the percentages -- the demographics of the state, with the exception of the City of Philadelphia, the demographics of this state heavily favor Hillary Clinton.

BLITZER: Do we know, approximately, where the early results will be coming from?

In other words, who does a better vote tabu -- a better job tabulating the vote and who reports their numbers earlier in the evening?

KING: Philadelphia is notoriously late. People tend to vote late in the city. Bigger cities tend to be a little slow. We'll get some results very quickly. And then if we're -- especially if we're in a close election, we could be counting later here.

These other cities -- Scranton, Allentown, Redding, Lancaster, out here in Pittsburgh, we've checked in. Allegheny County is very good, very efficient, known to be fast. Erie County the same way. We've been checking in with -- our people have been checking in throughout the day. There are no huge irregularities anywhere. There were long lines, little ballot issues here and there. We know of no major problems at the moment. So that will be an interesting thing to watch and one thing we'll have to keep telling our voters throughout the night, if you see numbers that don't seem to make sense, it could well be that the votes are coming in (INAUDIBLE)...

BLITZER: And what's the first -- give us a couple of things, maybe one or two, early indications that you're going to be looking for.

KING: I'm going to look right here in Scranton, right up here in Lackawanna County. It's only two percent of the state's population. This is where Hillary Clinton claims roots. But so does Bob Casey. He's a Democratic senator supporting Barack Obama.

If she is winning among white blue collar voters by a significant margin, that will bode well for her throughout the night. Scranton tends to count relatively quickly. If she can do that here and down further south as we go -- Allentown, Redding, Bethlehem -- if she's doing very well in this blue collar corridor, she's off to a good start for the night -- Wolf. BLITZER: All right, John. Thanks very much.

John is going to be with us throughout the night.