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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

John Kerry Wins Missouri, Delaware Primaries

Aired February 3, 2004 - 20:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: It is 8:00 now on the East Coast. Polls have closed in four more states.
CNN is ready to project a winner in Missouri, Missouri a very important state, the biggest prize of the night. John Kerry, the senator from Massachusetts, will win decisively in Missouri. He's going to get about half of the vote. John Edwards will come in second, based on our exit polls, the rest of the field in Missouri way behind.

In Delaware, once again, John Kerry, we are projecting, will win by a large margin. By a large margin, in Delaware, John Kerry will win, Lieberman, Dean, Edwards, all of the others, battling for second place, but a big win in Delaware for John Kerry.

But look at this. In Oklahoma, we are now taking a look, based on our exit polls, at a three-way virtual tie in Oklahoma between Wes Clark, John Edwards, and John Kerry, 40 delegates at stake in Oklahoma, a very, very close contest. This is where Wesley Clark said he must do well. He is running neck-and-neck-and-neck with those two others in.

In North Dakota, the caucus polls have just closed. And, right now, we're not ready to project anything in North Dakota.

But let's go back to Columbia, South Carolina. John Edwards, the winner there, is now speaking.

(INTERRUPTED FOR LIVE EVENT)

BLITZER: There he is, John Edwards, speaking to his supporters in Columbia, South Carolina, relatively short, relatively to the point, not a long, drawn-out speech, Jeff Greenfield.

Are you surprised that he went that short?

JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SR. ANALYST: No, because it's what you do when you have command of the television cameras and you want your message out, knowing that, at 8:00, the networks are going to project big John Kerry wins.

What we heard here tonight, very quickly, Wolf, was the non- negative anti-Kerry theme. You need a leader who really understands you. That's somebody who comes from a small town, son of a mill worker. New fresh ideas. You don't get new fresh ideas, the subtext of this is, from a guy who's been in the Senate 19 years. And even though I'm a rural South Carolinian, I'm speaking on behalf of the traditional Democratic concern for the poor.

It's a very powerful speech. It's one reason why this guy did as well as he did as a trial lawyer. There's nobody his equal in this campaign on the stump.

BLITZER: Judy, in this kind of situation, maybe less is more. But also, perhaps, the laryngitis could affect the longevity of his speech.

WOODRUFF: Exactly. And people are watching.

And, at this point, let's face it, people are out there. They've got choices on television. Maybe they don't want to watch politics all night. We hope they do, but maybe they don't. He gave a very succinct argument. It was the two Americas. But, as Jeff said, he took it one step further. He said, somewhere in America tonight, a girl is going to bed hungry. We are going to make sure that doesn't happen again if you give me a chance at the White House.

BLITZER: Very powerful, a very effective stump speaker.

Frank Buckley, if you can hear me in the noise over there at John Edwards campaign headquarters, give us a little flavor of the excitement.

BUCKLEY: Well, people clearly excited here.

Right now, balloons flying all over the place. I think, if there's a headline that comes out of this, in terms of what John Edwards is running on, at this point, it's on jobs. It's not, it's the economy, stupid. This is someone who likes to talk about his regional Southern accent. It's, hey, y'all, it's still the economy.

This is what he talked about here in South Carolina. He ran on jobs and economy. This state has lost 58,000 manufacturing jobs since 2001, leading the nation per capita in that area. This is what he talked about on the stump over and over again. He talked about poverty, about jobs, about race. And, apparently, it's been a successful formula for him right here in this room and in this state, in the state in which he was born, South Carolina -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Frank, thanks very much.

CNN's Carlos Watson, our political contributor, is watching together with all of us.

Short and sweet.

CARLOS WATSON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Short and sweet.

And here's what's significant not only about the speech, but about the win. I think this could shake up the whole effort of the campaign going forward. We've heard a lot that, depending on what happened today, the next time we would tune in would be a week from now, February 10, when Tennessee and Virginia show up. But now John Edwards with some real momentum certainly here in South Carolina and maybe, depending on what happens in Oklahoma.

I bet you the campaign will take at least a little bit of time to look at Michigan, where there's a sizable African-American population. As many as one-third of the caucus-goers could be African-American. And he may argue here, I'm the only one who can bring together both rural whites and African-American voters, which is very much the formula for victory in Michigan. It's a tough haul.

Kerry, obviously, has the endorsement of the governor there, new endorsement of the Democratic governor there. But make no mistake about it. Over the next 24 hours, that will part of the consideration.

BLITZER: All right, Carlos, stand by.

CNN's Kelly Wallace is over at John Kerry's campaign headquarters in Seattle, Washington. That would be in Washington state.

We'll continue to show our viewers, Kelly, the celebration going on at John Edwards' campaign headquarters, remind our viewers that we are projecting wins right now for John Kerry right now in Missouri and Delaware, two states whose polls just closed as well, a three-way tie, effectively, in Oklahoma. And we don't have real significant information to report on North Dakota, where the caucus has just wrapped up as well.

Give us a sense, Kelly, what they're saying and doing over at John Kerry campaign headquarters.

KELLY WALLACE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, some new information.

Senator Kerry landed here in Seattle just a short time ago. And our colleague, Justin Dyle (ph), is on the plane reporting that the senator was asked about his victory in Missouri. And he said -- quote -- "That's fabulous. I'll take 50 percent anywhere any time." He was also asked about South Carolina going John Edwards' way. And he said -- quote -- "We expected that. I think coming in second is enormous, given where we've been, very pleased with that. I haven't been there that much."

So, the message from this campaign is, South Carolina not a surprise, and John Edwards spent more time, more money there. But this campaign is believing that John Kerry could win five of seven states tonight, ending up with more delegates than anyone else. We are told by a campaign adviser, the senator worked on his speech the entire way from Spokane here to Seattle. We're expecting to here from him later.

The message we're likely to hear, Wolf, is that John Kerry believes he is a candidate who can win across the country. We've been hearing throughout the day from John Kerry's advisers that they believe John Edwards' victory in South Carolina is a regional victory. And they're raising questions if he can repeat that across the country -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Kelly, we'll be getting back to you.

Of course, we'll be waiting to hear from Senator Kerry as well. Let's review. Let's recap where we stand right now, four states with winners, according to our exit polls, CNN projecting John Kerry will capture Missouri, where 75 delegates are at stake. John Kerry will win with about 50 percent of the vote.

In Delaware, John Kerry, once again, the Massachusetts senator will win Delaware with a large margin, the other candidates significantly behind. In South Carolina, John Edwards, the senator from North Carolina, the winner in South Carolina, not only based on our exit polls, but the actual numbers that have been coming in for more than an hour now.

In Oklahoma, there is right now a very, very close race under way with 40 delegates at stake. We're told by our exit polls a three-way tie, effectively, Wesley Clark, John Edwards, and John Kerry, way too close to call right now.

Oklahoma up in the air very much, Jeff Greenfield. We have projected three winners, three states right now, Missouri, Delaware, South Carolina, with winners, Oklahoma still up for grabs.

GREENFIELD: And let's not bypass Missouri. Missouri was the biggest prize tonight with 74 delegates. It is a classic combative state. It almost always votes with the winner in presidential elections. It is big cities. It's rural. It's Saint Louis. It's the blues and it's the country music in Branson, Missouri. It's a cross-section of America.

And while we're talking about John Edwards' success with the rural voters in South Carolina, I have a hunch, when we can fill in our SpatiaLogic map, you're going to see tremendous success for Kerry.

BLITZER: All right, hold on one second.

Howard Dean is now speaking out. I want to go to Howard Dean and listen to hear what he has to say.

(INTERRUPTED FOR LIVE EVENT)

BLITZER: Howard Dean is speaking to his supporters. He's in Tacoma, Washington, apparently not doing well in these seven contests tonight. We're projecting he'll probably get a handful of delegates, but not much more. He's clearly looking down the road to Washington state, the next -- which is coming up on Saturday, and Michigan down the road.

We'll get some analysis how he's doing there.

But we're getting some news now from the Lieberman camp. Bruce Morton is in Arlington, Virginia, just outside Washington, D.C., where Joe Lieberman has set up his campaign headquarters.

Bruce, tell our viewers what you're hearing. BRUCE MORTON, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, first, this really was the end of the road for Joe Lieberman. He pinned his hopes on Delaware. We've already projected that he didn't win it.

And what we're told here by senior staff people is that Joe, his wife, Hadassah, and the senior staff will be having a meeting at their Virginia headquarters starting about 10 minutes from now at about 8:30. The original plan, the story said, was not to do anything until tomorrow. But they're going to have this 8:30 meeting now and see what things look like after that, which means, I suppose, that we could get some sort of "I'm wrapping it up" speech here tonight, or they might stay with their original decision to do it tomorrow -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Bruce, sad times for Joe Lieberman and his wife, Hadassah Lieberman, not doing well at all in these contests. He had hoped to do well at least in Delaware, apparently not doing very well there. We are now projecting that John Kerry will win by a large margin in Delaware.

Jeff Greenfield, Joe Lieberman was the vice presidential running mate for Al Gore, and now he's sort of coming up empty-handed.

GREENFIELD: First in the polls a year and a half ago because that's the only one people knew. He got more editorial endorsements probably than anyone else. He was Mr. Congeniality, amiable. He joins a long line of senators, respected long-term senators, who, when they get in the presidential race, just don't click. And it's my second law school classmate who is not going to be president.

BLITZER: All right, we'll ask who your first is later.

GREENFIELD: Tsongas.

BLITZER: Stand by.

Let's take a look at the vote boards that we're getting right now. Take a look at this. In Missouri, we're actually getting some actual, real numbers. With only 4 percent of the vote in, John Kerry, who will win, is at 53 percent, John Edwards coming in with 20 percent so far, Howard Dean at 10 percent, Wes Clark, Joe Lieberman and Al Sharpton with only 4 percent. That's Missouri.

We're getting some numbers in from Oklahoma as well, 3 percent of the vote in. Look at how close it is with only 3 percent, Clark, Edwards, and Kerry, 28 percent for General Wesley Clark, 26 percent for John Edwards, 21 percent for John Kerry, very, very close, the rest of the field way behind.

And take a look at South Carolina now. With half of the vote in, John Edwards the winner, with 45 percent so far, John Kerry at 30 percent, Al Sharpton, Wes Clark, Howard Dean, Joe Lieberman, significantly behind.

We're going to continue to follow all of these primaries and caucuses, lots more coming up. Stay with us, as we get ready for more coverage.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Seven contests tonight, five primaries, two caucuses.

So far, John Kerry, we are projecting, will win Missouri and Delaware. John Edwards, as we've been projecting, will win South Carolina. In Oklahoma, it's a horse race, a three-way tie under way right now between John Edwards, Wesley Clark, and John Kerry. The big prize tonight, Missouri, 74 delegates at stake.

CNN's Bill Schneider has been taking a look at the numbers, the exit poll numbers, in Missouri.

How did John Kerry win so decisively there?

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Missouri is Dick Gephardt's state. Gephardt is out of the race. So the question is, who is the true heir to Dick Gephardt, the candidate who can energize the Democrats' base?

We have the answer, John Kerry. Look at this. Among union members in Missouri, he clearly dominated the vote, 58 percent of union members. Why? Because they want to beat George Bush. Now, look at African-American voters, another base Democratic group. They voted very strongly for John Kerry, over twice as many votes as they gave to Al Sharpton in Missouri. Why? Because they want to beat George Bush.

And seniors, voters 65 and older, in Missouri, 3-1 for Kerry over John Edwards. Why? Because they want to beat George Bush. Kerry has clearly established himself as the heir to Dick Gephardt, the candidate who can energize the Democrats' base -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Bill Schneider, we'll be getting back to you.

Oklahoma another very, very important state. Unlike the other states we've been watching, there's a three-way horse race under way right now in Oklahoma. Look at this. With 4 percent of the vote now in, Wesley Clark with 29 percent, John Edwards with 27 percent, John Kerry with 21 percent, Joe Lieberman down at 8 percent, as is the situation for Howard Dean, Dennis Kucinich with only 1 percent, only with 4 percent of the vote in.

CNN's Dan Lothian is in Oklahoma City right now. He's covering Wes Clark's campaign.

What's happening over there, Dan?

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN BOSTON BUREAU CHIEF: Well, as you mentioned, it is a very tight race here.

A few minutes ago, I talked to a senior aide, a senior Clark aide, to get reaction to the numbers. And he told me -- quote -- "I'm a veteran of dubious exit polling." He says he wants to wait to see how the numbers shake out before they give some sort of reaction to what's happening here in Oklahoma.

Now, as to whether or not he can get a bounce, the bounce that they need to move forward with this campaign, even with a win here, that aide also telling me that -- quote -- "It is unclear at this point how big a bounce they can get with a win in Oklahoma." But, in his words -- quote -- "It at least stamps the ticket." In other words, it shows that they have met expectations -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Dan Lothian, we'll be getting back to you. We'll be standing by to hear from General Clark as well.

Paul Begala is closely watching what's happening in Oklahoma.

You're in South Carolina, Paul. What's your sense?

PAUL BEGALA, CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE": Well, Wolf, first, in the last hour, you should know I misspoke, saying that John Kerry had carried the black vote here in South Carolina. In fact, John Edwards narrowly carried it.

And I was reminded of that. As soon as I finished, I got on the bus. The Edwards campaign called to chew me out. So while I had them on the phone, I asked them, why this surge in Oklahoma? We thought it would be a Wes Clark/John Kerry race. Why this amazing surge at the end by Edwards? They told me two words, Barry Switzer.

Barry Switzer, the legendary coach of the Oklahoma Sooners football team from 1973 to 1978, won three national championships for the Sooners there, he endorsed John Edwards. In the last 24 hours, they had coach Switzer make robo-calls, that is, call in and record phone calls and bomb them into Oklahoma Democrats's homes.

And they believe that's what behind that surge. Now, there's a track record for this. Brad Henry, the Democratic governor of Oklahoma, is governor today because Barry Switzer campaigned for him. In fact, 16 percent of Henry's vote in the 2002 election said they voted for him just because of coach Switzer.

So, I asked the Edwards's campaign, Who was the genius behind this? I mean, this is somebody's clearly a brilliant political strategist? They said the idea for using Coach Switzer at the end came from Elizabeth Edwards, the candidate's spouse, who herself is a big football fan.

BLITZER: Paul Begala. Barry Switzer -- everybody knows Barry Switzer in Oklahoma, and clearly, an influential voice there.

Jeff Greenfield, we only see a very small percentage of the actual vote in Oklahoma that has come in, but we're saying it's going to be very close, right now projecting, at least for now, a three-way tie. How do we know that?

GREENFIELD: Ah. We're about to lift the veil and tell you. We know this, we think, because of the numbers we're getting from voters who've actually voted, that interviewers for all the networks talked to. And we call these exit polls. And the numbers of the exit polls we are very reluctant to reveal for a good reason. We are going to do it now for a reason. If you look at these numbers, you can see how close this three-way race is. But the problem is, these numbers cannot be taken at face value. We've learned in the past that exit poll estimates -- and that's what they are -- have a way of changing dramatically when real votes are cast.

Remember last week, Wolf, in New Hampshire we said that it was going to be a tight race between John Kerry and Howard Dean because that's what the exit polls were saying. By the end of the night, it was a double-digit lead. In fact, in 2000, in eight states, the exit polls had the wrong winner.

The reason why we're telling you this is these numbers have been all over the Web. They've been talked about on talk radio. They've been on other cable networks. They come out in the early afternoon. And every journalist, every political operative knows them because they're like crack cocaine. We know they're dangerous, but we can't resist them.

All we can say from those numbers is, as you've been saying, as we've been saying, it's a tight three-way race. You can look at those numbers. Do not take them to the bank.

BLITZER: Sometimes they're right, Judy. Sometimes they're wrong. But at least we're showing our viewers the transparency. We're giving them an idea of how we come up with our own estimates.

WOODRUFF: Exactly. And I want to make another point about Oklahoma, and that is, Wes Clark has been working this state really hard. He comes from next-door Arkansas. He has had, I am told, armies of friends and neighbors and relatives into Oklahoma, people in Oklahoma who know Arkansans. They've been working and working the state. That's why we've heard John -- or rather, Wesley Clark, say in the last day that he really expected in his campaign to do well in Oklahoma. If he doesn't come off with a significant win, there are going to be big questions about the campaign of Wesley Clark. Out of seven contests tonight, this is the one that he had put his stakes on. If he does not do well here, I think they're going to have to do some reconsidering inside that campaign.

BLITZER: All right, Judy. The voting has ended in five of the states. Two more states coming up at the top of the hour, Arizona and New Mexico. Those -- that primary in Arizona and the caucus in New Mexico -- that's -- those votes are going to be over with in about, what, less than 25 minutes or a little bit more than 27 minutes from now. We'll be watching -- 26 minutes and counting for the top of the hour, when we'll be able to perhaps, perhaps project some more winners and losers.

We're going to take a quick break. Much more coverage of these primaries and caucuses when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: You're looking at a live picture of the capitol in Columbia, South Carolina -- South Carolina, a state that John Edwards has won tonight in the Democratic primary, an important state in the South. Edwards said he must win. He did win. We heard from him just a little while ago.

Let's take a look at some numbers we're getting in other states right now. First to Oklahoma. We're -- look at this, with 5 percent of the vote in, very, very close contest, Wesley Clark with 29 percent, John Edwards with 28 percent, John Kerry with 22 percent, but our exit polls showing this is a horse race, effectively, a three-way tie. We'll continue to watch Oklahoma.

In Delaware, not a horse race, John Kerry the winner. He's got 50 percent so far, with only 5 percent. He will win decisively in Delaware. Joe Lieberman, who really wanted to do well here, not going to do that well. John Edwards, Howard Dean, and everyone else far behind.

In South Carolina, with 50 percent of the vote now in, 44 percent going to John Edwards, 30 percent for John Kerry. The rest of the field, far behind.

We're standing by also -- a little bit more than 20 minutes from now, at the top of the hour, the polls will be closing in two more states, in Arizona and New Mexico. We'll see if we can report some numbers at the top of the hour, a little bit more than 20 minutes, 22 minutes from now.

CNN's Ed Lavandera, though, he's already in Arizona. He's speaking to some voters in Phoenix. Give us a sense what they're saying, Ed.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Wolf. We've been here this evening, watching your coverage and watching the Edwards speech and watching the Dean speech, as well. We've got six voters here. To give you a breakdown of who we've got, we've got three Kerry supporters, a Clark supporter, an Edwards supporter and a Dean supporter. And it's been a very lively discussion, to say the least. Everyone very excited to be here already.

But it's interesting. These Democratic voters, what they've really focused a lot on, as we've talked here throughout the evening, has been domestic issues. And even though they understand -- they all acknowledge the war issues and what's going on in Iraq is important, it's been the domestic issues that's most important.

Karen Dickinson is from Campo Verde (ph). Health care issue is the most important for you. You're a Kerry supporter. What about him makes you happy?

KAREN DICKINSON, ARIZONA VOTER: Well, I know Senator Kerry from living in Massachusetts and know that -- I think he is very concerned, especially with the elderly and the disabled, because those are the people that have been really pushed aside. We take care of our children. We take care of our -- we should, and for the most part, we do take care of them. And working in the health field, as I did, I saw this time and time again of how the elderly and the disabled were not able to afford prescriptions. I witnessed elderly people buying two pills at one time because that's all they could afford. And when I look at all the candidates or anything I see in this country...

LAVANDERA: Let me get to Colleen real quick. That's one of the reasons why you like Edwards so much...

COLLEEN LANCASTER, ARIZONA VOTER: Yes.

LAVANDERA: ... is the attention to the poor people in the country.

LANCASTER: Yes. You know, there are so many people in the United States right now who don't have affordable health care and whose, you know, employers have -- are thinking of stripping that away from them. And I think it's important that we keep health care for all of the employees, people who are working 40 hours a week, breaking their backs at their jobs, hoping that, you know, it means something in 20 years, that they will have a good retirement, good benefits at the end because they cannot rely on Medicare and Social Security to take care of them. And yet companies are trying to take these things away from them, strip that away from them and leave them with nothing but, Thank you, here's a ballcap. You know, we need to have more accountability from corporate America.

LAVANDERA: Very good. Well, we're going to keep discussing here, as we've been doing for the last hour or so, Wolf. We'll toss it back to you. And I'm sure we'll see you later on in the evening -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. A little bit more than -- less than 20 minutes from now, Arizona and North -- excuse me -- New Mexico will be closed. We'll continue to watch what's happening there.

Want to go to Oklahoma City right now. CNN's Dan Lothian is covering Wesley Clark's campaign. I understand there's been some developments there, Dan.

LOTHIAN: Well, yes. There's a lot of supporters gathered here and watching the movement, as those numbers keep moving up and then moving down. But it is still a virtual dead heat here in Oklahoma.

This has been a very important state for General Clark. He has spent a lot of time here. In fact, after New Hampshire, he went down to South Carolina, but for the last few days, basically, set up his base here in Oklahoma City, and then had a grueling tour to Arizona and into New Mexico. And it's interesting how hard he was campaigning for every vote on Sunday night, Super Bowl Sunday night. We were with General Clark as he was going from small shop to a local bar, just reaching out to each voter.

And you were thinking, when you were watching, that, How can he be spending so much time, working so hard just for one vote? But that is what his campaign has been all about. And even last night, late into the night, flying off into a small community of Las Vegas (ph), New Mexico, where he was reaching out for just 1,000 votes there. But that just shows how hard General Clark is trying to target the Southwest. They're seeing this as their point to really get back into the race -- Wolf. BLITZER: All right, Dan Lothian in Oklahoma City with Wesley Clark's campaign.

Let's take a look at the actual votes in Oklahoma that we're getting right now. These are real numbers, official votes, 9 percent of the vote now in. Take a look at how close this is -- 30 percent so far for Wesley Clark, 29 percent for John Edwards, 23 percent for John Kerry -- Lieberman, Dean, Sharpton way, way, way behind.

Bill Schneider, watching Oklahoma for us, what are you seeing from our exit poll numbers?

SCHNEIDER: What we're seeing is the reasons why these three candidates are in a three-way tie. The top quality that a lot of voters were looking for in Oklahoma was a candidate who stands up for what he believes in. Those voters who felt that way chose Wesley Clark. He was the top choice in that category.

But a large number also said they were looking for a candidate with a positive message. They chose, by an even bigger margin, John Edwards, the candidate who's made a point of positive campaigning.

And the third quality voters are looking for, somebody who can beat George Bush. And here, as in many other states, John Kerry was the top choice on electability. So you choose your quality, you choose your candidate. Electability for Kerry, positive message for Edwards, stands up for what he believes, General Clark.

BLITZER: General Clark making his voice heard in Oklahoma. Bill Schneider, we'll be getting back to you.

Carlos Watson, General Clark really needs something. He's got to show something in South Carolina, where he spent a lot of money, not much result there -- Oklahoma. He needs this win.

WATSON: He needs this win. And if he does get this win, then he's now got to go from finally getting his first win to proving that he's not a one-hit wonder.

One of the interesting things, whoever wins in Oklahoma, and given that John Edwards won in South Carolina, will now have some additional people who are defining the terms of the debate. Clearly, as the winner in Iowa and New Hampshire, John Kerry's been driving the terms of the debate. But one of the interesting things I bet you'll see John Edwards now try and assert is that this really is a difference with a real distinction. I think you'll see more negative campaigning.

And I bet you you'll see the words, Really, the choice here between me and John Kerry is a choice between Clinton and a choice between Dukakis, a Massachusetts liberal who can't win in the South and therefore can't get you the White House, and a very smart, smooth Southern lawyer, who can combine rural white voters with African- American voters. I bet you you'll begin to hear it not only from the Edwards campaign, that has said they didn't want a negative -- any negative campaigning, but you'll start to hear it from the White House, who's starting to worry about those Bush-Kerry match-ups.

BLITZER: Electability, a critical factor right now.

Judy, as you and I know, and all of our viewers by now know, two "Newsweek" polls over successive weekends showed in a hypothetical match-up, John Kerry could beat President Bush. Now our own CNN/"USA Today" poll shows that John Kerry could beat President Bush, although the margin of error -- it's obviously still very close. Those are significant why?

WOODRUFF: Well, I'm talking to Democrats today, Wolf, and time and again, what I was hearing back was, John Kerry is helped, the other Democrats are hurt because of these polls that you at CNN and other news organizations are putting up. We keep seeing that, after all, John Kerry is a Democrat who can beat George W. Bush. Seeing that, simply seeing that match-up between Kerry and Bush makes the other candidates look like, Well we're not sure whether they can make it. And I'm told time and again today and yesterday this is hurting the other candidates, whether it's Edwards, Dean or Clark.

BLITZER: Electability, Jeff?

GREENFIELD: Yes. That same poll shows that Edwards, actually, is edging out Bush. And you know -- I mean, they -- it is true that the president has not had the best of three weeks, and he's been battered by week after week of coverage of the Democrats. I think taking these polls too seriously right now is an exercise in folly. What -- I think what we do know is that there is a powerful move afoot -- and we'll see whether or not Edwards's victory in South Carolina holds this -- to say to other Democratic candidates, All right. Let's go. Let's get our candidate. We've got a tough fight ahead of us. And one of Edwards's challenges is going to be to say, Not so fast. I'm the more electable guy if you give me a chance to sustain this nomination fight out.

BLITZER: Fourteen minutes until the top of the hour. And not only will we get more results, presumably, we're waiting to hear from Arizona and New Mexico. Larry King is standing by. He'll be speaking to the presidential candidates. We'll have extensive coverage, obviously, throughout "LARRY KING LIVE," as well as throughout the night.

We're going to take a quick break. Much more of our coverage when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: A little bit more than 10 minutes from now, well, we'll be going out to New Mexico and Arizona, where the voting will be over with by then. We'll see what the results are, if we can report anything at that time.

Let's show our viewers what we can report right now, real votes. For the first time, we're able to report some real votes coming in from the North Dakota caucuses. Take a look at this. With 55 percent of the vote going to John Kerry, it looks pretty good for John Kerry, only 18 percent of the vote in, Wesley Clark with 23 percent, John Edwards at 11 percent, Howard Dean, Dennis Kucinich, Joe Lieberman way behind.

In Missouri, John Kerry will win. He's right now showing 52 percent, with only 4 percent of the official votes in, John Edwards at 21 percent, the rest of the field, significantly behind.

Let's move on to Oklahoma. Oklahoma, a horse race, a three-way tie, effectively, with 16 percent of the votes now officially in, John Edwards with 31 percent, Wesley Clark at 30 percent, John Kerry at 24 percent, Lieberman, Dean, Sharpton considerably behind.

Let's move on to Delaware. We projected that John Kerry will win decisively -- 29 percent of the vote now in, almost a third, 51 percent so far going for John Kerry, Joe Lieberman and John Edwards, Howard Dean, Wesley Clark way, way behind in Delaware.

South Carolina -- look at this -- 62 percent of the vote now in. John Edwards, so far, we say he will win. But look, I think these numbers are significantly wrong. I want to make sure that we don't necessarily show -- suggest that these numbers are the numbers that we're showing because it looks like it's not going to be those numbers. I want to make sure that those numbers we just showed were accurate. We're going to go back and double-check and triple-check those particular numbers.

But let's go to Richmond, Virginia. Suzanne Malveaux is standing by with a group of African-American voters. Forty-seven percent of the vote in South Carolina, the Democrats voting, Suzanne, were African-Americans. You've got some African-Americans there. Tell us what they're saying.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we've got a lot of lively discussion, really, over the breaks here, mostly about this Edwards win, people reacting to it. First of all, I want to ask everybody, are you still all undecided?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

MALVEAUX: Still all undecided. OK. I want to start off with our attorney here. This is Jennifer, and she's an attorney. And you've graduated from Hampton, as well as Harvard Law School. Edwards talks about this idea of a populist campaign, two Americas. Here in Virginia, we see 44 percent of black children who live in poverty. Do you think this is a message that is going to really resonate within the community here?

JENNIFER BORUM, VIRGINIA VOTER: Oh, absolutely. I think that one thing that the community actually will probably ask is, Which, you know, America is he? Is he now a part of the other America that he sees or the America that he was born into, which is the -- I guess, the millworker. But the fact that he has had experience with that, it has to resonate with people who are not in that other America, which is...

MALVEAUX: Do the rest of you buy into his case that he makes, that he can understand and identify with those who are down under because he's been there and now he's successful?

MICHAEL JONES, VIRGINIA VOTER: No, I don't think so, because the average person who lives in my community, one, they won't go to college, let alone to achieve a law degree. So I think to say that he still has something in common with the average person, I think we need to debunk that Democratic myth that they are for the working people because all of the candidates have very little in common with the average person that I minister to in this community, outside of a Reverend Al Sharpton, who has some extensive -- and really still has a tie to the community. I would still say who's going to affect education? Who's going to actually be able to beat George Bush in the election? But yes, Edwards -- yes, deal with the Confederate flag still flying down in South Carolina, and then we can talk.

MALVEAUX: OK, I want to ask Elleni Ghebremicael -- she's the first time that she's going to vote here for the presidential election. You have a very interesting background. Your parents are Ethiopian. You grew up in California. Your father's a Republican. But you are leaning towards Edwards. You really like him. Tell me why.

ELLENI GHEBREMICAEL, VIRGINIA VOTER: I believe that he connects to the people very much, and it's reassuring to see his overwhelming response that he got from South Carolina and to see how he does connect to the people. Though he might not connect as much as Sharpton to the other America, he still is there and he's in the community. And I feel as if he needs to just get a little more nationwide and not as focused regionally, so he can actually beat Kerry, hopefully.

MALVEAUX: OK. I promise we'll get back to Dorothy James after -- the next time we come on air because she is a Clark fan. So we will get back to you the next time around -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Suzanne Malveaux, thanks very much. Thank your guests for us, as well.

Six minutes to go before the polls close in Arizona and New Mexico. We'll be going there right at the top of the hour. Bill Schneider is crunching more numbers, exit poll numbers. What are we seeing on this African-American vote?

SCHNEIDER: African-Americans are probably the constituency that knows and votes their interests more than any other. Let's take a look at how they voted in three states tonight -- today, rather. In South Carolina, the African-American vote split between John Edwards and John Kerry, with Al Sharpton running third. Edwards got a "friends and neighbors" vote. Kerry did very well among African- American voters who said they wanted to win the election, they wanted to beat George Bush.

In Missouri, clearly, for Kerry by a solid majority, Al Sharpton way behind, John Edwards running third. Again, the motivation, John Kerry was seen as the candidate who could beat George Bush. African- Americans in Delaware, once again, John Kerry dominates the African- American vote, almost twice as much support as Al Sharpton. The reason? African-Americans are strongly motivated to beat George Bush. They are strong Democrats, and they see John Kerry as the guy who can do that.

BLITZER: All right, Bill Schneider, thanks very much. We'll continue checking back with you.

A moment ago, we put some wrong numbers up on the screen, South Carolina actual votes that are coming in. Let's put on -- put up on the screen, the actual, the real numbers that we're seeing. John Edwards will win South Carolina, the primary in South Carolina. The numbers are not there yet, but we'll get to those numbers once they are corrected. John Edwards will win the South Carolina primary, as we've been reporting. Here, with 64 percent of the vote now in, a 14 percent spread between John Edwards, the winner, John Kerry coming in second right now with 30 percent, Al Sharpton at 10 percent, Wes Clark, Howard Dean, Joe Lieberman significantly behind.

Donna Brazile is here with us. You just spoke to Al Sharpton. Give us a sense. What's he saying?

DONNA BRAZILE, FORMER GORE CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Well, what he's saying is he's surprised at the outcome. He campaigned really hard in South Carolina. Clearly, he wants to come in third with 15 percent, so he can gain delegates. He said, Look, this is the South. I'm not a Southerner, I'm from the north. I'm heading to Michigan tomorrow, where I can perhaps pick up more votes up in Detroit. But he feels good about the outcome, and he wants to go out there and redouble his efforts.

BLITZER: You're about as well plugged into the Democratic political machine as anyone. Joe Lieberman -- he's got to be thinking, What do I do next?

BRAZILE: He's on his way to the hotel right now to speak with some of his top aides, to gather some of his supporters. And I think this has been a very interesting campaign...

BLITZER: Hold on. As we're speaking, I want to tell our viewers the Associated Press now reporting that Joe Lieberman has decided he will drop out of this contest, the Associated Press reporting he will drop out. Significant development. Joe Lieberman had such high hopes, Donna, only a little while ago.

BRAZILE: Well, let me just tell you this. He started out as the frontrunner because he was our nominee in 2000. But early on, he knew that he couldn't connect with Democratic voters. But he leaves with a lot of integrity.

BLITZER: All right, stand by. We're going to take a quick break. We have Arizona, New Mexico, coming up at the top of the hour, as is Larry King, a special edition of "LARRY KING LIVE." We'll continue to cover all this news throughout the night. Stay with us. TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com




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