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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

America Votes 2004

Aired February 10, 2004 - 23:00   ET

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

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
ANNOUNCER: He's won Democratic contests in the Northeast, the Midwest, the far West, and tonight, in the South.

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you, Virginia. Thank you, Tennessee.

ANNOUNCER: Will Wesley Clark continue his battle for the nomination?

RET. GEN. WESLEY CLARK (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We may have lost this battle today, but I'll tell you what -- we are not going to lose the battle for America's future.

ANNOUNCER: And what's left for Senator John Edwards?

SEN. JOHN EDWARDS (D-NC), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're going to have a campaign and an election, not a coronation.

ANNOUNCER: Can Howard Dean, in Wisconsin, change the campaign's direction?

HOWARD DEAN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think we ought to send somebody back to Boston, Massachusetts too.

ANNOUNCER: AMERICA VOTES 2004, the results of the Virginia and Tennessee primaries.

From CNN Election Headquarters in Atlanta, Wolf Blitzer.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening.

Tonight, two more wins for Senator John Kerry. That makes 12 wins out of the 14 states that have held Democratic primaries or caucuses. He won today's Virginia and Tennessee Democratic primaries by wide margins, proving conclusively he can attract Democratic voters in the South.

Senator John Edwards is content with his two second-place finishes today, saying his campaign did what it needed to do. Edwards is predicting a tough contest in Wisconsin next Tuesday. And he says he has the money to carry on for weeks ahead. The big question mark tonight: retired U.S. Army General Wesley Clark. He finished third in both of today's contests. But tonight's speech to followers in Tennessee was all-upbeat. There wasn't a word about the questions of speculation concerning his campaign's immediate future.

Howard Dean finished in single digits in both of today's states. He's campaigning for a political miracle in Wisconsin, which holds a primary next Tuesday. There's no sign of one in the latest polls in that state.

Here are the latest vote totals from today's Democratic vote contests.

Let's go to Virginia first. Take a look at this -- excuse me, Tennessee right now. That's the wrong poll number -- in Virginia, a clear win -- a clear win, a decisive win for John Kerry. The same in Tennessee. A very good night indeed for John Kerry. A disappointing night for Wesley Clark and John Edwards.

We have reports coming up from all of our correspondents on the Clark campaign, the Edwards campaign, the Dean campaign, the Kerry campaign.

First, though, let's go to CNN's Judy Woodruff for a quick overview of tonight's dramatic developments -- Judy.

JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Well, Wolf, tonight John Kerry has solidified his status as the front-runner. You could say no dramatic developments with these contests in Virginia and Tennessee. But the shape of this contest is changing.

Here's what happened.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KERRY: Americans are voting for change. East and west, north and now, in the South.

WOODRUFF (voice-over): The lanky Yankee tore through Dixie Tuesday, crushing two native sons and racking up yet another victory.

KERRY: Join us, not just to win an election, but to give America back its future and its soul.

WOODRUFF: John Kerry triumphant again, sweeping primaries in Virginia and Tennessee, addressing fears a Massachusetts liberal would find it tough-going down South.

But it could be the end of the road for Wesley Clark. The retired general made a national splash when he got into the race late last year, but has found his first political outing a series of frustrations.

CLARK: We will leave Tennessee even more full of hope and even more committed to building a better America than when we began this journey five months ago.

WOODRUFF: By contrast, a somewhat better night for John Edwards, who got no wins, but two respectable second places. So, the senator from North Carolina is hanging on, heading north to the next primary.

EDWARDS: We're going to have a campaign and an election, not a coronation.

WOODRUFF: Waiting in Wisconsin, Howard Dean, trounced in tonight's primaries after pulling out of both Southern states.

DEAN: This is a big deal, the Wisconsin primary. This is the chance to turn around a campaign that's been managed by the media and the folks inside the Beltway. We can do better.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: So that's Howard Dean in Wisconsin tonight, Wolf, really not competing in Tennessee and Virginia.

The real question mark coming out of tonight is Wesley Clark. Will he stay in the race? And we can tell you that as he was leaving that room where we saw him just a moment ago, a woman said, We want you to stay in and he said, We're going to talk about everything tomorrow.

BLITZER: He all -- but has, apparently, canceled a fund-raiser scheduled for tomorrow in Texas.

WOODRUFF: He has, and some of the senior people in his campaign are putting calls out saying it looks like he's getting out.

BLITZER: All right. We'll have to just wait formally to hear directly from him. Judy, stand by. Thanks very much.

Let's take a look at the vote totals that we have coming in from both of these primary states tonight, beginning with Virginia. Take a look at this. With almost 100 percent of the vote in, a clear win for John Kerry with 52 percent of the vote; 27 percent for John Edwards; 9 percent for Wesley Clark; and Dean, Sharpton and Kucinich follow.

A similar but not exact picture of Tennessee. A clear -- a clean win for John Kerry, with 47 percent of the vote. But look at this -- 27 percent -- 27 percent going to Edwards; 23 percent for Clark, a third -- a third-place for Wesley Clark in Tennessee. That's a significant disappointment for him.

Jeff Greenfield, we're getting word now from the Associate Press now, just reporting that Wesley Clark has decided he will go ahead and abandon his run for the presidency. He certainly did not say that tonight, but the AP now getting information that he will do so, presumably tomorrow.

JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SENIOR ANALYST: No, I mean, I think when candidates get on, and they've been going through this pressure cooker, they tend to revert to their stump speech. But when you look at these results, you know, it's hard to see how you go on after -- "I almost finished second in Tennessee" is not a rallying cry.

I don't think this will be any surprise if he leaves, and it just shows you -- Judy's made this point a lot, that first-time candidates for president have a rough go, and I still once John Kerry was the front-runner instead of Howard Dean, the rationale for the Clark campaign basically disappeared.

BLITZER: All right. Stand by.

Dan Lothian is covering General Clark's campaign. He's joining us now live from Memphis.

The AP, the Associated Press, saying he's ready to throw in the towel. What are you hearing over there, Dan?

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN BOSTON BUREAU CHIEF: Well, we should be hearing from some of his aides in just a few minutes. A lot of the traveling press went up to the 18th floor where they were staying and tried to get some clarification as to what General Clark would be doing going forward. They now say that they will give us some of that clarification. As you mentioned, the AP reporting that he has decided to drop out.

We had been getting indications of that. There had been some confirmation that he did, in fact, decide to drop out. But inside the campaign, we were being told that nothing officially, yet, had been decided. That now appears not to be the case.

What is interesting, though, is that earlier we did talk to an aide and asked him why General Clark did not say anything in his speech here tonight. He delivered what was pretty much his typical stump speech and then thanked his supporters here in Tennessee, but did not mention anything about dropping out. That aide telling us that this would not be the right place to do that, that if he did that, he would have done it back at home in Arkansas.

Back to you, Wolf.

BLITZER: And the Associated Press, Dan, suggesting, reporting he will go back to Little Rock, Arkansas, his hometown, to make the formal announcement tomorrow that he will abandon his quest for the White House, at least for now.

This has been a pretty remarkable campaign considering he had no virtually no political experience whatsoever. How disappointed are he and his supporters where you are, Dan?

LOTHIAN: Right, well his supporters, who have now left here -- no doubt disappointment with his supporters. But I was talking to an aide earlier tonight about Wesley Clark himself and how he is feeling. And he said, clearly, when he saw those numbers coming in today, he was very, very disappointed.

This was his first run. He came into the race late, and got a considerable boost, especially when he was in New Hampshire all by himself, this campaign really felt like they had a chance to win the nomination. This campaign also felt that they had the right message for America.

He tried to appeal to veterans, he tried to paint himself as the outsider. And that was intensified in the last few days, where Clark would try to point out the differences between his campaign and between the Edwards and the Kerry campaign, saying, I am the true outsider. He tried to project that to the voters. But clearly, that message apparently fell flat with the voters here in Tennessee and Virginia tonight.

BLITZER: All right, Dan, we're going to stand by, get back to you as soon as you get some more information.

I want to bring in our Candy Crowley, our senior political correspondent. She's covering Senator Edwards' campaign.

Presumably, assuming the Associated Press report, Candy, is true that General Clark will drop out of the race tomorrow, I am assuming that the Edwards camp would be very happy, hoping that some of those Southern votes, some of those -- some of those votes that might have gone to General Clark will now go to Senator Edwards in Wisconsin.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, sure. The problem is we don't know how many Southern votes actually translate in Wisconsin.

But the fact of the matter is that what John Edwards wants is a clean field, and John Kerry on one side and John Edwards on the other. So, insofar as it gets one other person out of the race -- Dean sort of rapidly becoming less of a factor. And they do believe that as -- particularly in Tennessee, that Clark did take votes away from Edwards that might have, indeed, helped him get a lot closer to John Kerry's numbers.

So, yes, they'll see it as a positive thing, but whether or not there's going to be that same kind of translation -- he's not in Dixie anymore. So how much that will actually help in Wisconsin remains to be seen. But I will tell you, with or without Clark and with or without a win in Wisconsin, this is still a campaign talking far, far ahead, into March 2 and beyond -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Candy, stand by. I want to go back to Dan Lothian. He's in Memphis, Tennessee covering General Clark's campaign.

What have you learned, Dan?

LOTHIAN: Well, we are now hearing from some of his aides that General Clark will be dropping out of the race tomorrow in Little Rock, Arkansas. That's where he will make his announcement at 3:00 local time there.

Once again, this just backs up what we've been hearing throughout the night. There was a lot of disappointment about this campaign. Wesley Clark had fought very hard; had hoped that he could have pulled off a win here in order to keep his campaign moving forward. And one other thing that was kind of interesting, Wolf, is tonight, as General Clark was leaving after making his remarks here, someone walked up to him and was overheard asking whether or not he thought that he should have gone to Iowa. And that was the first time that we heard him say that he, in retrospect, should have gone to Iowa. And had he gone to Iowa, perhaps the result would have been a lot different.

BLITZER: All right, Dan, stand by. We're going to get back to you in a moment.

Judy Woodruff, that last point that was made by Dan Lothian, that General Clark suggesting, Well, if only he would have gone to Iowa, it could have made a big difference. A lot of people saying, You know, it probably wouldn't have made much of a difference, but easy to second-guess right now.

WOODRUFF: Yes, a lot of second-guessing going on.

But it is clear, Wolf, from talking to people inside the Clark campaign that there was a major dispute -- disagreement, if you will, inside the campaign. The decision came down to move on beyond Iowa. There was some sense at the time that General Clark wasn't sure that it was the right decision to make, and even that -- and, you know, when his son, Wesley Clark Jr., had a bit of a -- a blow-out with the news media last week, in last week's primaries, part of what he said to the press was, My father should've run in Iowa. Everything would've been different.

So there's some bitterness there.

BLITZER: All right. Let's bring Kelly Wallace. She's covering Senator Kerry's campaign. He's clearly the front-runner. Two more wins tonight, 12 for 14 in all the primaries an caucuses.

The decision now confirmed by CNN, Kelly, that Wesley Clark will drop out of the race tomorrow afternoon and he'll go back to his hometown of Little Rock, Arkansas, to do so.

I assume that would be good news for Kerry's campaign. But you tell me what they're saying.

KELLY WALLACE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, not saying anything just yet. We've been working the phones trying to get some reaction to this.

We can tell you, interestingly enough, before the senator did a round of television interviews tonight, he did take a call from Wesley Clark, and he was asked about that on CNN as well. And he would not talk about what they discussed.

You know, the aides that we've talked to throughout this day, talking about the possibility of one of these candidates dropping out -- they say that, really, this is up to each individual candidate to decide. They are very much focused, solely, on John Kerry. And the question we asked is, if Wesley Clark gets out, what about John Kerry going head-to-head with John Edwards? And they say that they are really not focused on that. They say that John Kerry is the only one running a national campaign. The only one, they say, who has shown that he can to appeal to all demographic groups and win in all parts of the country, including winning with primary voters in the South.

So right now, we're still working the phones, get back to you with reaction. But we do know the senator did talk to Wesley Clark earlier -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. We'll get back to you, Kelly. Thanks very much.

Bill Schneider, our senior political analyst, is looking at all the numbers, trying to understand, as all of us are, what exactly has happened tonight. But the bombshell right now, the confirmation by CNN -- confirmation that Wesley Clark will drop out of the race tomorrow -- Bill.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, what -- when I scoured the exit polls to look at Clark's problems there, it turns out that Clark and Kerry really had the same appeal: they both were strong on the national security issue, they both tried to appeal to veterans' voters.

But Kerry beat him. He beat him among voters concerned about national security. He beat him clearly among those veterans.

I think it was that fateful decision not to compete in Iowa that doomed Wesley Clark's campaign. Had he run in Iowa, you could at least make a plausible argument he might have ended up as John Kerry, because they were the candidates who had the strongest appeal to national security and could run as Mr. Electability against George Bush.

BLITZER: There's the headline for tonight -- Wesley Clark decided to drop out after disappointing third-place finishes in both Virginia and Tennessee.

Jeff Greenfield, after Iowa, Dick Gephardt dropped out. After New Hampshire -- after Delaware, that is -- a week after New Hampshire, Joe Lieberman dropped out. Tonight, Wesley Clark deciding he will formally drop out tomorrow.

You're seeing a trend here, I guess.

GREENFIELD: The trend is when you don't do well, you withdraw.

But I also have -- we now have the chance to answer -- you'll remember, four hours ago, we posed the four questions we wanted answered tonight. We're going to have some answers.

The first question was, Has the field been winnowed? Well, yes, as you say. Wesley Clark is dropping out, John Edwards is not, Howard Dean is not. So, one down. And that's our trend.

The second is, Has anybody made a case against Kerry. What you heard John Edwards say tonight is this is going to be an election, not a coronation. That's an interesting argument, given the fact hat we've already more than a dozen primaries. But that's where they're going on.

Third, Did we hear any general-election themes tonight, and the answer is, Absolutely, we did. John Kerry is already striking general election themes. He's talked about mainstream values; he -- he -- if I may say this, stole a line from Bill Clinton about people who work hard and play by the rules. That's an appeal to the middle class. He talked about love of country and hard work. This is already a candidate looking toward November.

And fourth -- we don't know this until tomorrow -- Will there be party pressure on the remaining candidates, Edwards and Dean, to drop out. And we can answer that one in about 24, 48 hours. But I'm guessing the answer might be yes.

What do you think?

WOODRUFF: Ehhhh. Well, we'll see.

All right. I just want to add one quick postscript here, and I think there was another argument made against John Kerry tonight. It was from Howard Dean in his interview with Larry King. He said, I don't think that John Kerry offers enough of a difference with George Bush. He was with George Bush on No Child Left Behind, the education reform act, he was with the president on the vote to go to war in Iraq.

He's made this argument before. We're going to be hearing more of that from Howard Dean.

BLITZER: And we're going to get -- take a little bit deeper -- a deeper look at the Howard Dean, and a disappointing fourth-place finish, a dismal showing in tonight's races for the one-time front- runner Howard Dean. But his focus is fixed on another key state. Can the Dean bounce back? Is that realistic at all?

And, beating President Bush. John Kerry says, "Bring it on." But the White House has its own battle plan.

Vice presidential prospects -- not too early to take a look at that. A look at the potential Democratic presidential running mates.

Our live election coverage will continue right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Wesley Clark has decided to give up his quest for the White House, at least right now. He will announce tomorrow he's dropping out of this contest. Only within the past few minutes we heard directly from his communications director, Matt Bennett.

Listen to what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MATT BENNETT, CLARK SPOKESMAN: General Clark has decided to leave the race. He will be making an announcement tomorrow in Little Rock -- tomorrow afternoon in the Peabody Hotel at 2:00. He made this decision after discussing it with his family, with his staff. The decision wasn't made until just moments ago, and that's why we had the delay tonight, for which I apologize to you all.

It was a very difficult decision to make, obviously. He did it after the final results were in for Tennessee. And the decision is final. He will be leaving the...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: There it is, the official announcement from Matt Bennett, the communications director for Wesley Clark. He no longer is a candidate for the presidency.

Let's bring in our political contributors.

Carlos Watson is joining us from New York. Donna Brazile is in Washington.

Donna, I guess it's a -- the only surprise is that he didn't make the announcement himself when he had the pulpit, when he had the opportunity to do so, when he gave that speech to his supporters earlier in the evening.

What was going through his mind, do you believe?

DONNA BRAZILE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, I think, some of his staff wanted him to deliver his basic stump speech. He had a -- you know, General Clark has a lot of passionate supporters around the country, and I'm sure they're in Tennessee. And they said, Look, go out there and deliver your stump speech. And I think afterwards, they went into a hole and really discussed it out.

I mean, where do they go? I mean, the campaign was not picking up a lot of momentum across the country. Although I believe General Clark has had a very short but sweet journey, there's practically no state right now that he can go in and win any delegates over the next couple weeks. So he made the right decision.

BLITZER: Carlos, if the -- it did come as a surprise the way this announcement was made. I don't normally think that some communications director, a staff assistant for a major presidential candidate breaks the story, officially, that the candidate is dropping out.

CARLOS WATSON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Correct, but I think it was such a difficult decision, as you heard Judy Woodruff say earlier in the night. Part of his decision to even remain in the race over the last week, was at least partially attributed to his wife. Here's what's interesting, I think, though, about General Clark and his candidacy. While he ends his presidential candidacy today, I think he'll immediately go into the top five or six people that John Kerry, assuming he's the nominee, considered as a vice president. So this is not the end of his career. And I wouldn't be surprised to begin hearing people, over the next several weeks, talk about him as a future Senate candidate out of Arkansas, where he's returning to.

BLITZER: That -- that's been talking about for some time. A lot of Republican and Democrats, for that matter, originally tried to woo General Clark, once he retired as the supreme allied commander of NATO.

Kelly Wallace is standing by. She's covering Senator Kerry's campaign, the front-runner, out in Fairfax, Virginia, just outside Washington, D.C. You're beginning to get some reaction from the Kerry camp, Kelly?

WALLACE: We are, Wolf. We just talked to a senior Kerry campaign adviser who gave us a statement on behalf of the senator himself. He says -- Senator Kerry says, "General Clark ran a strong campaign that he and his family can be proud of. He'll no doubt continue to contribute to our party and our country, and we look forward to working with him over the next months to defeat George Bush and bring change to America."

I asked this aide about the phone call that Senator Kerry had with Wesley Clark before he did a round of interviews. This aide said it was purely a congratulatory call, and that the retired general indicated to John Kerry that he would make a decision soon. This aide saying he fully expects the senator and General Clark to continue talking.

We also asked what impact this could have on the campaign, now that it could be John Kerry and John Edwards battling it out without Wesley Clark there fighting with John Edwards as well. And this aide said that this campaign has always expected a long and competitive race to the nomination, saying that the strategy will not change from here on out -- Wolf.

BLITZER: The next major state -- the next major fight, Wisconsin, a week from today. Kelly, thanks very much.

Fight for re-election. President Bush's strategy to stay in office. We'll get some insight into the White House battle plan.

And the anti-Kerry movement within the Democratic Party. Is there a silent minority ready to speak out?

And red states, blue states. You know that theory. But we'll introduce you to a new concept -- the yellow states. Why this new group could be the site of the fiercest battles in this year's election. Jeff Greenfield has some insights.

Stay with us.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: Every delegate counts, and seven of them were up for grabs at the caucus for Democrats living abroad. They were held in 19 countries over a period of four days starting Friday and ending yesterday. John Kerry won 17 of the 19 country caucuses. Howard Dean won two, Sweden and Japan.

Preliminary results of the Democrats aboard caucuses? John Kerry on top with 55 percent, Howard Dean at 19 percent, Wesley Clark at 10 percent and John Edwards with 9 percent. Dennis Kucinich and AL Sharpton followed behind.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Well, Wesley Clark has decided he will drop out of the presidential race. That word only coming within the past several moments from his communications director, Matt Bennett, officially announcing after Clark spoke tonight in Memphis, Tennessee. The word coming that tomorrow afternoon he will be back in his hometown of Little Rock, Arkansas. He will make it official; he is no longer seeking the presidency after disappointing third-place finishes today in both Virginia and Tennessee.

Impressive wins today, once again, for John Kerry, the front- runner. He's now won 12 of the last 14 Democratic primaries and caucuses.

The Democrats are certainly making a lot of noise today, especially at the John Kerry campaign headquarters. But there's another candidate waiting in the wings who has an enormous war chest, a powerful political organization and a very bully pulpit.

For the news on what's happening with President Bush, we turn to our White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux.

Suzanne, what is it about John Kerry that concerns mostly the Bush administration.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, I have to tell you, first of all, I spoke with a Bush operative in the campaign who said they really didn't even have a reaction to General Clark dropping out because he really wasn't seen as a serious competitor.

But Wolf, you bring up a very good point. All eyes are on Senator Kerry, and the one thing that they're concerned about is really the image of John Kerry, the Vietnam war hero, the one who travels with his brand of brothers on the campaign stump at the same time Democrats really pounding away at President Bush's own military record in the Texas National Guard.

The White House, in an extraordinary move today, providing documentation to counter some of that criticism, saying that, Yes, he served honorably. They provided those details. Still some questions, however, that Democrats have over that. But they do not want that issue to live. They are trying to kill that as quickly as possible -- Wolf.

BLITZER: What are you hearing, Suzanne, about when the -- they Bush-Cheney campaign, the White House will really get going in terms of targeting Senator Kerry, assuming he does get the Democratic nod?

MALVEAUX: Well, certainly, we're talking about weeks, not months. They, as you had mentioned before, have $100 million to play with.

I talked to one of the Bush campaign operatives who said that they are really going to be delivering the message, saying that his rhetoric does not match his record. They're going to talk about his special interests, saying that he is -- has the greatest special interests out of all the senators in 15 years.

They're going to talk about his war record. They say that his position has really undergone a makeover, according to one official, saying that a lot of the positions that he held during the Clinton administration were very similar to President Bush's own, and that he's only changed because they've been a detriment to his own campaign.

But you can expect a lot of harsh rhetoric and all of this to pick up in weeks, not months.

BLITZER: All right. Suzanne Malveaux, thanks very much.

So just what happens if it turns out that John Kerry is the Democratic candidate facing President Bush? Based on what we know right now, let's asks the co-hosts of CNN's "CROSSFIRE" to weigh in with their own political thoughts.

Tucker Carlson and Paul Begala are joining us from Washington.

First to you, Paul. The decision by Wesley Clark to go ahead and drop out.

PAUL BEGALA, CNN CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE": Well, it's a difficult decision. You know, I mean, I don't know General Clark well, but I do know that his family was fully invested in this. His wife, Gert, traveled with him all the time, made all the key decisions along with him. His son spoke for the campaign on occasion. His brother-in-law traveled with him. So I think you probably had a very tough decision where the family perhaps might have wanted to go on, but the professionals wanted to get out.

I think he's doing the right thing. I mean, where was he going to go next? I mean, he lost in the South. That was his home territory. I mean, was he going to win in, like, Kampuchea? No, he wasn't going to win in Wisconsin. This just wasn't going to be his year, and -- you know what? He brought a lot to the campaign. I think he does add an awful lot to the Democratic Party. They're going to be kissing his brass all day tomorrow trying to make sure that he is happy with the Democratic Party, because, you know, we don't have a lot of -- get a lot of four-star generals in the Democratic Party, Wolf. And they want to make sure he leaves this race a happy Democrat.

BLITZER: Tucker, what's your -- what do you think?

TUCKER CARLSON, CNN CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE": Well, I think if I were John Edwards, I'd be pretty annoyed. I mean, I think everybody but some people right around General Clark realized maybe 10 days ago, if not before then, that he probably wasn't going to be the nominee. In fact, almost certainly was not going to be the nominee. Probably would have been a lot better for everyone in the Democratic Party had he gotten out there. I mean, John Edwards might have won -- probably would have won Tennessee tonight, might have had a better shot in Virginia if General Clark hadn't been in it.

Instead, he split the vote, leaving Senator Edwards sort of, you know, second, but in a much weaker position than if he hadn't been in it. All for what? All for nothing.

I mean, I think that the General Clark story was what a weak candidate he turned out to be. He was a general with an impressive, I suppose, record. But that's really all he brought to it. And maybe the lesson of this is there's something to be said for being a professional politician. Maybe you're better at it. Maybe it's not something somewhere off the street just can do just because he has an impressive work record. It's hard.

BLITZER: Paul Begala, how dangerous is it for Democrats like Terry McAuliffe, the chairman of the party, to go after the president on his record serving in the Texas Air National Guard. He did get an honorable discharge. There are pay stubs now showing he served his time. This -- this is a pretty risky business for Terry McAuliffe and other Democrats to try to be promoting right now.

BEGALA: Oh, I think it's an important issue because it goes to credibility.

President Bush's greatest claim, I think, on the affections of the American people is this notion that he's carefully cultivated that he's a straight-shooter, that he tells the truth. And if it turns out it he's not telling the truth about his service in Alabama, he's in a lot of trouble. And, in fact, there's a lot of evidence in the documents the White House released today that shows there was a six- month period that he never showed up.

And so if the best White House can do is produce documents that proves he was AWOL for six months, it sounds like Terry McAuliffe hit pay dirt.

BLITZER: Tucker, why don't you go ahead and way in.

CARLSON: Well, I mean, that's a complete crock, as you know.

I mean, in fact there's no evidence that he didn't show up. There's a just a lack of evidence for certain months about where he was. But there's no evidence he did anything wrong.

I personally think the Bush White House made a mistake in responding to this. I think a much better model for response would have been the way the president, then-governor, handled the drug when he said, you know, tough luck. This is an issue I'm not going to get into. I mean, if he -- if the White House had, say, two weeks ago, said, That's revolting -- that's repulsive what Terry McAuliffe said, it just -- it's an act on my character -- which it is. It's not about credibility. It's about character. It's an attack, and I'm not going to respond to it. I know where I was and that's the end of it.

The second you get into this game, Well, here are some documents, torn in half and they're only partly there, and here are some more. I mean, there's no way the president will ever prove he was there, I would imagine. In the end, it'll just be a toss-up and they'll lose by default, and I just think they mishandled it.

BLITZER: I suspect this is going to be an issue on "CROSSFIRE" in the coming days and weeks,

Thanks to both of you for joining us, Tucker Carlson and Paul Begala.

Strong first-place finish. The front-runner, John Kerry, picking up two wins. But is there an anti-Kerry movement building inside the Democratic Party? We'll take a closer look.

And trying to find some sort of way to come back. The next steps for Howard Dean's campaign.

Choosing a running mate. Lots of names being floated as possible vice-presidential candidates. We'll examine the men and the women who may be on a list.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: A double victory tonight for John Kerry in Virginia and Tennessee. Let's take a look precisely at how it's shaping up.

In Virginia, first of all. With 100 percent of the vote now, 52 percent for John Kerry, more than half; 27 percent, a second-place for John Edwards; Wesley Clark 9 percent, perhaps one reason why he decided to drop out.

Let's go to Tennessee. Tennessee also John Kerry the winner tonight, in Tennessee. Take a look at this. With 96 percent of the vote in, 41 percent for Kerry; 27 percent for Edwards; a little bit closer, third-place, 23 percent for Clark. Dean, Sharpton, Kucinich considerably further behind the front-runner.

Let's bring in Judy Woodruff once again. You're taking a look at some of the stories that are unfolding behind these numbers.

WOODRUFF: There are so many stories that we can talk about tonight, Wolf. But the bottom line, the big story, is John Kerry. He's pulled off proof now that he can win not only in his native New England, he can win in the Midwest, in the Pacific Northwest. He can win in the South. He is the big winner.

The shape of the race did change tonight. One of the candidates got out. But here's what the four major candidates -- a sampling of what they had to say tonight, as they faced their supporters.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KERRY: Today, in a rare moment of truth telling, they actually told us what they were doing. They said that shipping jobs, American jobs overseas, is good for America. And I....

CROWD: Boo.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

EDWARDS: I know some people don't want to think about it and don't want to -- don't want to say it. But the truth is this: there are people in America, in one America, who are making a fortune, by shipping the jobs of the other America someplace else.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLARK: I want to thank you for your support, for standing by me and for working so hard to take the White House back to our rightful owners, the American people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DEAN: This is a big deal, the Wisconsin primary. This is a chance to turn around a campaign that's been managed by the media and the folks inside the Beltway. We can do better than this in this country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: Howard Dean speaking from Wisconsin. He did not really compete in Virginia or in Tennessee and he did not do well in either state.

So Wolf, tonight Wesley Clark making it official -- he is out of the race. John Kerry moves on. He faces John Edwards, who is still in the race. Howard Dean's still in the race. But this race is taking on a different shape. We're going to see some arguments, I predict, in the weeks -- in the week ahead that we have not heard before.

BLITZER: All right. And we will be covering every minute of that. Thanks, Judy.

Dan Lothian is covering Wesley Clark's now, I guess, former campaign. It's all over for Wesley Clark.

What are you hearing right now, Dan? I know you're still in Memphis, Tennessee, getting ready, I assume, to go to Little Rock, Arkansas, with the former candidate tomorrow.

LOTHIAN: That's right. He is headed to Arkansas tomorrow morning.

We had expected that perhaps General Clark would have mentioned something in his speech here tonight. Instead, after his speech, his communication director, Matt Bennett, came out and made the announcement.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BENNETT: I think all of you know there was just tremendous pressure in this cycle for answers about when people were going to drop out of this race. I think that pressure came for a variety of reasons. One was Senator Kerry's momentum in the race. The other was financing. But those are kind of a piece (ph). When your momentum dies, your financing dies with it. So certainly that was part of it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When was...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LOTHIAN: His campaign says that no talk yet about whether or not he would be interested in being a running mate. And no talk yet about whom he will endorse.

But I did ask a top campaign aide about where this campaign may have gone wrong. And he said, really, there is nothing that he believes happened that wasn't right in this campaign. He said perhaps we made a mistake by getting in this race so late.

Back to you, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Dan. We'll get back to you. Thanks very much.

Let's bring back our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider. He's been studying the exit polls, trying to understand what happened tonight.

Bill, first of all, do you see any indication of an anti-Kerry voting bloc within this Democratic Party.

SCHNEIDER: Wolf, I can answer that question with one word: No.

Let's take a look at the Virginia Democratic Party voters. Only 52 percent voted for John Kerry, but when asked would Kerry beat George Bush, 89 percent -- almost unanimously, they said, Yes, he would be likely to beat Bush.

Tennessee, 41 percent of the voters in that primary voted for John Kerry. But 81 percent said they'd been satisfied if John Kerry wins the nomination. No more than trace of anti-Kerry sentiment among these Southern Democrats. He's a New England Democrat.

You know, Howard Dean and Wesley Clark and John Edwards all tried to run against Kerry with an outside message. They thought an outsider message could beat John Kerry. But outsiders proved to have very little appeal in this election.

There are some years, like 1992, when the outsider message is very powerful. This year was not one of them -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Bill, thanks very much.

John Kerry has proved he can, indeed, win in the South. But if he goes on to win the Democratic nomination, where does he have to win in November?

Our senior analyst, Jeff Greenfield, is keeping track of all these so-called battleground states that will decide the presidency.

GREENFIELD: We think so.

You know, the 2000 election, we all remember, didn't just bring us the weirdest finish ever. It brought us all a whole new way of thinking about politics -- the famous red state-blue state divide. Red states, mostly in the South, West and Heartland went for Bush. The blue states, mostly coastal or industrial for Gore.

But political types on both sides of this divide are increasingly focused on the 18 states that went for Bush or Gore by 6 points or less, what CNN is calling the yellow states. Now, no one seriously thinks a Democrat can beat Bush in Texas or that Bush can compete in New York. But these yellow states are where the candidates are going to spend time, money and energy in an effort to win the presidency.

BLITZER: Among these yellow states, some of them won by Al Gore, which -- which are the states that the president, the Bush campaign, will really be seeking?

GREENFIELD: I think we know the answer to that based on Bush's travel. Michigan and Pennsylvania, both won by Gore narrowly, are in his sights. He's traveled to those two states 35 times, Pennsylvania 23, Michigan 12 times.

And he's also looking at what we'll call the Midwest eyelash states, Wisconsin, maybe Minnesota, where Gore won by an eyelash, one or two points. But in those states, as well as in Oregon and Washington state, remember that Ralph Nader was a factor. He got 4 percent or more of the vote. That may make those states a little less competitive for Bush.

BLITZER: All right, flip it. As far as the Democrats, which Republican states will they be seeking.

GREENFIELD: Ohio is at ground zero. It's been clobbered by the economy. It's lost some four percent of its manufacturing jobs. Gore almost won that state last time. They are looking at Missouri, always a bellwether state. And interestingly, Arizona because of the growing power of the Latino vote. They elected a Democratic governor in 2002.

Now, West Virginia may be on their minds. It's a traditionally Democratic state. But you know, Gore lost that state, in part, because of the environmental issue. There are lots of miners there. And issues like guns. And if Kerry is the nominee, he is going to have the same problem.

BLITZER: One state I didn't hear you mention, an important state, a lovely state -- Florida.

GREENFIELD: Yes, I didn't mention it because -- for the same reason I would not mention if there were an elephant in the newsroom. It's so obvious. That is going to be the prize battleground, the biggest, most competitive state.

BLITZER: You know, Judy, a lot of us were hoping this would really be an incredible contest, because I know there's a huge primary coming up in Hawaii in the coming days. I know Jeff....

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: There's a caucus in Hawaii. I know you wanted to go to Maui. You've been looking at the voter track in Hawaii.

GREENFIELD: I -- I think it's worth weeks and weeks of study, before, during and after. Until say, Oh, I don't know, July.

BLITZER: I understand there's a beautiful Four Seasons Hotel in Maui that has a lot of electoral history there as well. We should all be going out there, shouldn't we?

WOODRUFF: I have a feeling we should cover it.

But, Wolf, you know, I do want to make one other point about this is -- because of the shape of the economy, it is very possible that some other states that haven't been considered to be in play are at least a little more competitive.

Even South Carolina -- I'm not telling you this is going to be an -- by any means an easy save for the Democrats, but even talking to Republicans in South Carolina last week, that state is hurting because of job losses. It's a state that -- I'm not saying the Democrats are going to put a lot of money into, but it's a state where Democrats -- where Republicans can't absolutely assume they're going to sweep with, you know, 80, 90 percent of the vote.

BLITZER: Maybe four years of now, instead of going in the wintertime to Iowa and New Hampshire, Hawaii -- that could be the first-in-the-nation. What do you think?

GREENFIELD: I think you've got a new obsession. I think you can join Joe Klein as co-chair of the Committee to Begin in Hawaii.

BLITZER: We're all for that. In just a minute, we'll re-refocus on the race for the Democratic nomination. Howard Dean is looking to Wisconsin to turn around his political fortunes. But what do the polls there show right now?

And we've got a long list of potential nominees who might get the nod for the vice presidency.

Stay tuned.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DEAN: This has been a terrific campaign, and when we win on Tuesday, it'll be a terrific administration.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Once the front-runner, Howard Dean now is a longshot. So far, he's remaining in the race.

CNN's Joe Johns reports on what -- what's ahead for Howard Dean.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOE JOHNS, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): While the other candidates were waiting for the Virginia and Tennessee returns, Howard Dean was holding a rally in Milwaukee.

DEAN: Thanks very much. Thank you.

JOHNS: Earlier, at a middle school in LaCrosse, he offered students a history lesson about his home state.

DEAN: Vermont lost more people per capita than anybody else in the Civil War.

JOHNS: But the outlook for his candidacy has remained bloomy (ph). Even though his campaign has raised more than $1 million and purchased TV advertising time, Dean is still trailing in the polls.

So why not quit? Dean says he owes his supporters.

DEAN: We can't just abandon all those people who we brought into politics. We're going to do what we can, if we're -- if I'm not the nominee, to make sure the nominee. But we're also going to do what we can because we owe all those people to make sure that their voice is heard.

JOHNS: Among those telling him to keep fighting is a key supporter on Capitol Hill.

REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D), CALIFORNIA: He called me yesterday to say that, you know, you've been listening to his massive supporters and was thinking, he did need to -- you know, I poled (ph) his tent, and I agreed. JOHNS: One political analyst says Dean could wield power in the party for a long time if he's careful.

NORMAN ORNSTEIN, AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INST.: If Howard Dean turns his appeal over to the use of the Democratic nominee and campaigns tirelessly for that Democratic nominee, uses his e-mail lists to try and raise more money and generate support for that nominee, then he becomes a player in Democratic politics after the election.

JOHNS (on camera): Dean says he'll drop out of the race if it becomes certain there's no chance of winning. But for now, he intends to continue stumping for votes in Wisconsin, a state known as progressive and unpredictable.

Joe Johns, CNN, Milwaukee.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: John Kerry is the clear front-runner for the top of the Democratic ticket. But who could be No. 2? Coming up, some of the names already being mentioned for vice president.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

EDWARDS: We will stand with you, we will fight for you, we will be the kind of president that you deserve.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: With John Kerry now considered a strong front-runner, the talk turns to whom he might he select as a possible vice- presidential candidate.

To help us handicap the race for the second spot on the Democratic ticket, we have two experts in the field, CNN political analyst, Carlos Watson, joining us from New York. Judy Woodruff is here with me at the CNN Election Campaign Headquarters.

This is a favorite sport among all of us political news junkies.

Carlos, very risky, but let's go through some of the names that are already been out there and let's remember, that John Kerry certainly has not yet won the Democratic nomination. But it's still fun to take a look at potential running mates.

One name often mentioned, Bill Richardson, the governor of New Mexico.

WATSON: New Mexico only brings four or five electoral votes, but what they think is significant about Richardson is that he could help them next door in Arizona. You heard Jeff call that one a yellow state. If Democrats were to win the same 20 blue states they won last time, plus Arizona, you're in the White House.

BLITZER: He's also Hispanic and he's got a lot of foreign policy experience, a former member of Congress, a former U.N. ambassador.

Judy, Evan Bayh, the senator from Indiana.

WOODRUFF: He is -- he is from a state -- in fact, I interviewed Evan Bayh today on "INSIDE POLITICS" on CNN. Indiana, traditionally, Wolf, is a state that goes Republican. So I don't know there's more hope that they would pull Indiana. But he might be able to help the Democrats in Ohio, which is very much -- it's a state with a lot of electoral votes. It's Midwest. It's a state that, as we've heard in the last few minutes, hurting because of a job loss. Maybe he could help there.

BLITZER: He was once a very popular governor of Indiana as a Democrat as well.

Carlos, what about Dick Gephardt, who dropped out of the presidential contest, from Missouri?

WATSON: Dick Gephardt you get labor support, you get union support, you get some help in the border states including his own Missouri. And the Gephardt people will tell you they think he can be helpful throughout the Midwest. So states like Iowa and Wisconsin that last time were decided by only 1 percentage time, they're hoping that Gephardt might be able to add to that.

BLITZER: Judy, some call it a dream ticket, John Kerry and John Edwards, New England and the South.

WOODRUFF: Well you know what they say about vice presidential running mates, Wolf, is, you know, they may not be able to help you, but at least make sure they don't hurt you. Could John Edwards bring North Carolina, his home state? There's still considerable debate in Democratic circles about whether John Edwards could bring his own -- his own state.

Having said that, he has run a -- a very attractive campaign so far. He's turned out to be an attractive campaigner. He certainly would at least give the Republicans pause in the South.

BLITZER: What about Wesley Clark, who's now, tonight, announced he's dropping out, through his communications director, Carlos? Wesley Clark, I assume, would bring some advantages to a ticket -- a possible ticket with John Kerry?

WATSON: Would not only reinforce the notion that John Kerry wants to put forward that he can manage foreign policy better than the president, but also it might bring to mind for some a personal contrast. Here you would have two people who as young men both fought in Vietnam, both receive Purple Hearts, were awarded. Wesley Clark, of course, became a general. John Kerry, three Purple Hearts, a Silver Star and a Bronze Medal.

And they might argue this is an all-hero team, if you will, and they might want to draw contrast. Obviously, the president served in the Air Guard, but didn't go and actually fight in Vietnam. And Dick Cheney, of course, did not serve. BLITZER: Judy, a lot of Democrats love Hillary Clinton, the senator -- the junior senator from New York. Is that at all realistic that she could emerge on the ticket?

WOODRUFF: You know, it's interesting you should bring her up, Wolf, because before this campaign got under way, she was named by more Democrats than any other as their choice for president. And in a way, she's really been eclipsed by the success of John Kerry having won as many primaries as he has. He appears to be uniting the Democratic Party, pulling Democrats together in an effort to beat George W. Bush.

She has been pushed to the side, if you will. It would be interesting to see, you know, where -- what she would say coming to this. I think it's unlikely she would be a running mate, simply because, you know, she's talked about doing it on her own steam in the future. But you never know.

BLITZER: One final candidate. I've heard Bob Graham, the senator from Florida, his name mentioned, the former governor of Florida -- Florida being such a critical state, Carlos. What do you make of Bob Graham in a potential head-to-head against Dick Cheney, the two vice-presidential hypothetical running mates.

WATSON: Well, I got to admit a conflict of interest is, as a young man I spent a very little bit of time in Bob Graham's office.

I think it would be an interesting contest. Obviously, Graham has been an extraordinarily fierce critics over the last year of the president and of Dick Cheney and their managing of the war and the war against terrorism. So I think it would be a heated one. More heated than maybe you would normally expect between two longtime legislators, remember, of course, that Dick Cheney, before he was vice president, served in the Congress.

BLITZER: It's always fun to go through these games -- a little early right now, but we'll see what happens in the coming weeks and months.

Carlos, thanks very much. Judy, thank you to you as well.

Sailing through the South. Two more states have now spoken. A wrap of the evening, including highlights from the candidates' speeches, when we return.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KERRY: Join us, not just to win an election, but to give America back its future and its soul.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: It was another big night for John Kerry. And for the other candidates, it's time to think long and hard about what might come next for them.

Here's a look back at tonight's results.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CLARK: We may have lost this battle today, but I'll tell you what -- we are not going to lose the battle for America's future.

EDWARDS: Thank all of you -- all of you, the voters who voted today in the election, for saying to the country, that we're going to have a campaign and an election, not a coronation.

And I don't know how many of you remember this, but not long ago, we were using the phrase "Buy American." How about "Hire American?"

DEAN: This is a big deal, the Wisconsin primary. This is a chance to turn around a campaign that's been managed by the media and the folks inside the Beltway. We can do better than this in this country. This has been a terrific campaign. And when we win on Tuesday, it'll be a terrific administration.

KERRY: George Bush -- no, no, no, no, no. We're not going to boo in the course of this campaign. We're going to cheer for what we're going to do in this country.

Once again, the message rings out loud and clear. Americans are voting for change. East -- East and West, North and now, in the South. And I am grateful for that.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: That's all the time we have. For all of us here at CNN, thanks very much for watching.

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