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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

America Votes 2004

Aired November 2, 2004 - 21:00   ET

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


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Right now, exactly 9:00 pm on the East coast. CNN can make some projections. For the president, he will carry his home state of Texas, 34 electoral votes. The president projected to win, also in North Dakota, Kansas, South Dakota, Wyoming, the home state of the vice president of the United States Dick Cheney, as well as Nebraska. Those states, we can project.
At least as far as Nebraska, by they way, a split right there. We can project that he will get 4 out of the 5 electoral votes, because Nebraska can split its 5 electoral votes. He'll get at least 4, he may get 5. But right now we can project a split for the president in North Carolina (sic). At least 4 of those 5 -- in Nebraska, excuse me, in Nebraska, 4 of those 5 electoral votes.

Speaking of splits, by the way, there's been a very interesting amendment, a ballot initiative in Colorado, to split the 9 electoral votes according to the population. CNN can now project that amendment 36 will go down, will fail, that will not be passed. All 9 electoral votes in Colorado will go to the winner of that state. There won't be any opportunity to go 5 to 4 as some Democrats had thought, because they thought that the Republicans would carry Colorado.

Let's take a look at how John Kerry is doing at the top of the hour, 9:00 right now. We project 31 electoral votes in New York State, as expected, will go to John Kerry, 4 electoral votes in Rhode Island, in New England, his home area, will go to John Kerry as well. Those are the projections we can make right now.

Let's tally where this race stands right now, the electoral votes. The race for the White House right now. We can project that -- here it is right here, 155 electoral votes for the president so far, 112 for John Kerry. 270 needed.

Jeff, why don't you go over there and show some of the blue states, some of the red states, and there is a purple up in Maine that is similar to the purple in Nebraska.

JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Because we don't know whether or not John Kerry in Maine or George W. Bush in Nebraska, will get all the votes. Once again, Wolf, in all of these calls, no state different than it was in 2000.

But the polls that we're not calling yet that have just closed, this is where the Bush campaign is resting a lot of its hopes, should Florida or Ohio not go its way. In Michigan, in Wisconsin, in Minnesota, and later on when Iowa closes, all 4 states that Al Gore narrowly carried in 2000, all 4 states that were seen as competitive by the Bush campaign.

If they lose Ohio or Florida and Pennsylvania stays for Kerry, this is where the Bush campaign's hopes for a recovery from those losses, if they were to happen, lie.

BLITZER: Interestingly, we can't project the winner in several of those key battleground states. The white states are state that we cannot yet project a winner in yet, because we simply don't have enough information. The upper Midwest, those states are going to be critical, presumably, this time.

GREENFIELD: All of the states that I mentioned, with the exception of Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, were carried by Michael Dukakis in 1988 and have been carried by every Democrat since. And I make that point because no disrespect to the former Massachusetts governor, but given that campaign, if Michael Dukakis can carry a state for the Democrats, you would think most Democrats could carry it. Yet all those states trended very close in 2000. The social issues were cutting against the Democrats in all of those states. And this is where the Bush campaign is looking for redemption should something go wrong in Ohio or Florida.

BLITZER: And New Hampshire, even though it has only a few electoral votes, that's still -- we don't have enough information to project that one either.

GREENFIELD: No. The one call I did make from New Hampshire is from an expert -- his spends his life studying New Hampshire. And he says that the Kerry get out the vote operation down in Hillsborough County, that's where Manchester and Concord are, is outperforming the Gore get out the vote operation. That doesn't tell us who's going to win. It's anecdotal information, but there you are.

BLITZER: Gore lost that state very narrowly 4 years ago.

GREENFIELD: 7,000 votes and Ralph Nader got 22,000 and had he won it, he would be president today.

BLITZER: Let's walk over, talk to our analysts, Carlos and Larry King. Larry, 9:00 on the East coast, more projections, all of them, basically, as expected.

LARRY KING, LARRY KING LIVE: No surprises. I'm not an analyst. I'm just asking questions. You guys are the -- were you surprised at that Colorado turning down that electoral split?

CARLOS WATSON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I wasn't. Colorado had that unusual thing as Jeff described, they were thinking about splitting up their electoral votes. But about 2 weeks ago in the polls, you started to see the numbers who were supporting it down below 50 percent. For that kind of ballot initiative to pass, you kind of need to be at about two-thirds at that point out, because you know your support will continue to erode.

KING: What is doing Jim Bunning in? I mean, we're both baseball nuts. (CROSSTALK)

GREENFIELD: We have not called that race. He got in trouble, because of some behavior that the Kentucky press thought was odd. He left Kentucky just before debate, went up to Washington said I have to be in Washington for urgent business, the Senate was not in session. He debated from a closed television studio, where it was clear he was using a teleprompter. And some of the press in Kentucky openly questioned whether or not Jim Bunning was having some kind of problem.

Now, we don't -- the last polls out of pre-election polls were that Bunning was in a tight race. You're right, as a man who pitched a perfect game for the Philadelphia Phillies, you would think he would be invulnerable. But 6 years ago, when Jim Bunning left the House and won in the Senate, that was one of the two closest Senate races in the whole country. So that was not a slam dunk.

BLITZER: All right. Judy Woodruff is over at the CNN election analysis center watching all of these states for us. Judy, Pennsylvania is an important state. You got some new information.

JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: That's right. We do, Wolf. We were saying a moment ago that in Allegheny County, which is a county where Pittsburgh is, the western part of the state, long lines, and there has been a decision made in Allegheny County to keep the polls open an extra hour and a half.

I want to quickly bring in our legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin. Jeffrey, it turns out that it is 1 precinct, downtown Pittsburgh, near the University of Pittsburgh. Help us understand what's happened there.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Basically what has happened is one polling place will be open until 9:30 which is 90 extra minutes from the usual closing time to allow people to file provisional ballots. Those are the famous new innovation that anyone who is denied an original chance to vote gets to file a provisional ballot.

But Judy, keep in mind this is one precinct, there were thousands of lawyers out. I think the real story about the legal story is that the dog that didn't bark. There have not been many controversies. And I think that is a surprise to a lot of us who saw all those lawyers out there.

WOODRUFF: But quickly, Jeff, you have had long lines all over the country that have been reported. Many people have been voting early, perhaps that absorbed some of the high interest in this election.

TOOBIN: And one law that every state has is that if you are on line when the polls close, they have to keep the polls open for you. And we're getting reports that they will be keeping the polls open particularly in Ohio, for hours, because there are so many people still on line, still trying to vote.

WOODRUFF: All right. Jeffrey Toobin. So, Wolf, there you have it. At this point, it is one polling place in Pittsburgh where there were long lines, there was a request and a judge did grant that request that the polls stay open an additional hour and a half. It's now 7 minutes after 9:00, so we're talking about another 20 some minutes.

BLITZER: All right. We'll be watching, Judy. We'll get back to you right away. Thanks very much. By the way, the secretary of state of Pennsylvania is holding a news conference in Harrisburg right now.

Our Deborah Feyerick is there. We'll get a full report from her. We're hearing -- he's saying that so far there have been very few problems, very few problems in Pennsylvania. But obviously we don't have enough information to make a projection in that key battleground state. Jeff, you heard Judy, what did you think?

GREENFIELD: Actually it is kind of a sign that some of the pre- election jitters that we would have massive confusion maybe less there than meets the eye.

WATSON: A little like Y2K? Remember all the buildup to Y2K?

BLITZER: Boy, do I remember that.If

WATSON: Right.

KING: If you stayed the polls open, let's say, for extra hour and a half, how long does it take to count them? How long can we expect to hear from them?

BLITZER: Each state has a different formula, a different way of doing it. Some have the old-fashioned ballots, others have touch screen. Others still have butterfly or hanging chads, if you will, the kinds of ballots that were not supposed to be used.

KING: So we could be conceivably waiting on Ohio and Pennsylvania until 4:00 or 5:00 in the morning?

WATSON: Or longer. The other thing, if it's close, these provisional ballots, some of the states granted themselves, Larry, 10 days to count these. Saying, we don't have to get back to you for 10 days. So, if it is close, we could be waiting.

BLITZER: All right. Bob Woodward of the Washington Post is over in Washington, I assume. That's right. There you are. We see you in Washington, Bob.

This is a night that all of us are going to remember for a long time. But you've watched a lot of elections over the years. At this moment in time, what is going through your mind?

BOB WOODWARD, WASHINGTON POST: Well, I think there is a lot of contradictory information out there, and Jeff Greenfield was rightly remembering, somewhat fondly, the searing memory of the Gore miscall. And I suspect there are limitless chances to still get things wrong. So I think that you all have taken a Valium cooler or something and everyone is being careful. And think there is good reason to be careful. So, what I'm thinking about is it is important that it be right rather than early, premature and wrong.

LARRY KING, LARRY KING LIVE: Do you have a feeling, Bob, at all? From what you see so far, do you have a gut?

WOODWARD: Well, if you look and you were talking about this, Democrats like Clinton, and Carter have won only when they got some southern states. It looks like Kerry won't.

But, you know, the new center of the Democratic Party may be the Midwest if he carries lots of those states like Illinois and if Ohio comes in.

But clearly it gets down to Ohio and Florida. And you're people are saying there's not enough information to make some projections, I think there is some contradictory information. And when you have that, you ought to back off and you're wisely doing that.

KING; What do you read as contradictory as an example?

WOODWARD: Well, I just think there is some exit polling that shows one thing and then some of the hard numbers coming out of some of the counties in Florida seem to indicate something else, at least at this point. Now, again, it depends on what parts of the state your measuring.

So, when you get in that situation -- in the newspaper business, we always say, when in doubt, leave it out.

KING: What does the -- I'm sorry Wolf. What does the Washington Post do if this goes all night? Do they have a morning winner? What do they do? They got to come out in the morning, right?

WOODWARD: They're as careful as anyone. And they will make sure. And, you know, there's centuries of political experience there among the reporters and editors. Dan Baltz and David Broder and Glenn Downey, the editor. And you can just hear them kind of saying the old rule that the late managing editor had, which I said, if in doubt, leave it out. Or don't go there.

So, I think, no ones going to be embarrassed -- we all worry about the famous Chicago Tribune headline, "Dewey Beats Truman." No one wants that in their newspaper or on their network.

BLITZER: I assume, as cautious as the television networks are, the newspapers, Bob, will be just as cautious in avoiding any kind of hard and fast conclusions when we simply don't have those hard and fast conclusions.

WOODWARD: That's exactly right. And, you know, the headline in the Washington Post was "Unpredictable." And I think that's the case. So, take it slowly.

I think people are still going to be watching. Don't think you're going to lose your audience tonight.

KING: There'll be no mandate tonight, will there Bob?

WOODWARD: There might be.

KING: Really?

WOODWARD: Sure. If Florida clearly falls and Ohio falls the same way, somebody's going to come close to 300 electoral votes. But, you know, let's wait and see. People are watching.

I'm sitting here just listening to, and enjoying it.

BLITZER: Are you surprised, quickly, Bob, that so far it seems to be going relatively smoothly out there across the country? Although, polls are still open in much of the country.

WOODWARD: That's a great question. I looked at the picture on the front page of the "New York Times" this morning of lawyers and election experts peering over ballots. And I just, my stomach fell, because it reminded me of what happened in Florida 4 years ago. And then you hear about the thousands of lawyers who are out there looking for trouble, well those are thousands of egos looking for trouble. And lawyers often think they solve problems with litigation or causing disputes. Maybe they've also taken some of that Valium cooler that your serving there.

BLITZER: All right. Bob Woodward of the Washington Post. Thanks, very much.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Bob Woodward of the Washington Post is over in Washington, I assume. That's right. There you are. We see you in Washington, Bob.

This is a night that all of us are going to remember for a long time. But you've watched a lot of elections over the years. At this moment in time, what is going through your mind?

BOB WOODWARD, WASHINGTON POST: Well, I think there is a lot of contradictory information out there, and Jeff Greenfield was rightly remembering, somewhat fondly, the searing memory of the Gore miscall. And I suspect there are limitless chances to still get things wrong.

So I think that you all have taken a Valium cooler or something and everyone is being careful. And think there is good reason to be careful. So, what I'm thinking about is it is important that it be right rather than early, premature and wrong.

LARRY KING, LARRY KING LIVE: Do you have a feeling, Bob, at all? From what you see so far, do you have a gut?

WOODWARD: Well, if you look and you were talking about this, Democrats like Clinton, and Carter have won only when they got some southern states. It looks like Kerry won't.

But, you know, the new center of the Democratic Party may be the Midwest if he carries lots of those states like Illinois and if Ohio comes in.

But clearly it gets down to Ohio and Florida. And you're people are saying there's not enough information to make some projections, I think there is some contradictory information. And when you have that, you ought to back off and you're wisely doing that.

KING; What do you read as contradictory as an example?

WOODWARD: Well, I just think there is some exit polling that shows one thing and then some of the hard numbers coming out of some of the counties in Florida seem to indicate something else, at least at this point. Now, again, it depends on what parts of the state your measuring.

So, when you get in that situation -- in the newspaper business, we always say, when in doubt, leave it out.

KING: What does the -- I'm sorry Wolf. What does the Washington Post do if this goes all night? Do they have a morning winner? What do they do? They got to come out in the morning, right?

WOODWARD: They're as careful as anyone. And they will make sure. And, you know, there's centuries of political experience there among the reporters and editors. Dan Baltz and David Broder and Glenn Downey, the editor. And you can just hear them kind of saying the old rule that the late managing editor had, which I said, if in doubt, leave it out. Or don't go there.

So, I think, no ones going to be embarrassed -- we all worry about the famous Chicago Tribune headline, "Dewey Beats Truman." No one wants that in their newspaper or on their network.

BLITZER: I assume, as cautious as the television networks are, the newspapers, Bob, will be just as cautious in avoiding any kind of hard and fast conclusions when we simply don't have those hard and fast conclusions.

WOODWARD: That's exactly right. And, you know, the headline in the Washington Post was "Unpredictable." And I think that's the case. So, take it slowly.

I think people are still going to be watching. Don't think you're going to lose your audience tonight.

KING: There'll be no mandate tonight, will there Bob?

WOODWARD: There might be.

KING: Really?

WOODWARD: Sure. If Florida clearly falls and Ohio falls the same way, somebody's going to come close to 300 electoral votes. But, you know, let's wait and see. People are watching.

I'm sitting here just listening to, and enjoying it. BLITZER: Are you surprised, quickly, Bob, that so far it seems to be going relatively smoothly out there across the country? Although, polls are still open in much of the country.

WOODWARD: That's a great question. I looked at the picture on the front page of the "New York Times" this morning of lawyers and election experts peering over ballots. And I just, my stomach fell, because it reminded me of what happened in Florida 4 years ago. And then you hear about the thousands of lawyers who are out there looking for trouble, well those are thousands of egos looking for trouble. And lawyers often think they solve problems with litigation or causing disputes. Maybe they've also taken some of that Valium cooler that your serving there.

BLITZER: All right. Bob Woodward of the Washington Post. Thanks, very much.

I want to take our viewers over and show our viewers what's happeneing in Canton, Ohio. Look at this picture. These are workers, election workers. They are counting absentee ballots in Canton, Ohio right now. These are volunteers. They are going through the process, a tedious process, as we all know. But they want to make sure that every vote is counted. These workers in Canton, Ohio counting voters right now.

Let's take a look at that as go and we bring in a special guest, Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York City.

Mr. Mayor, sit down and join.

KING: Our guest is actually here.

BLITZER: Can you imagine, we actually have a guest here in New York City?

KING: Well, he lives here.

GIULIANI: My office is right across the street.

BLITZER: You wouldn't know it, Larry, because he's been doing a lot of traveling lately.

GIULIANI: I haven't been here much in the last two weeks.

KING: You have worked your head off for Bush.

GIULIANI: I have.

KING: You have gone everywhere. What do you think so far? Is it -- what is it?

GIULIANI: I think the president can win this election.

KING: Or can lose.

GIULIANI: Yes. Yes. Absolutely. He can win it or lose it. There's no question about it. I have a tremendous personal devotion to him because of what he did for my city. And personally for me, the support he gave me, and what he did for the city of New York. I am enormously grateful to the man. I think he's been a great leader.

KING: Anything surprise you to this minute?

GIULIANI: Not yet. There's been no surprise to this minute. This reminds me of a heavyweight boxing match, you know, where you go through the first four or five rounds and everybody's real careful and everything goes as planned.

BLITZER: So far every state that we've projected was expected to go that way.

GIULIANI: Everything is going according to the plan of 2000, right?

BLITZER: But you must be disappointed that your city, New York -- and we're in Times Square right now...

GIULIANI: Oh, I'm used to it.

BLITZER: ... and New York state went overwhelmingly, at least according to our projection, it clearly went for John Kerry.

GIULIANI: But I mean I'm used to it. The city's 5-1, 6-1 Democratic, and you got to really struggle if you're a Republican in New York.

BLITZER: But there's a Republican mayor in New York, there's a Republican governor in New York. It could have gone the other way.

GIULIANI: We haven't had the state vote for a Republican since Ronald Reagan in '80 and '84. That was the last time. In fact, Ronald Reagan got a big win here in 1980 and a pretty good one in '84. Since then, it's been straight Democratic.

KING: Predominant Republicans in New York are moderate, wouldn't you say?

GIULIANI: Yes. It's a little different. I mean, it's a little more like what you'd see in California, with Schwarzenegger.

KING: So what are you going to watch for now? What are you keying on?

GIULIANI: I'm looking at the same things you're looking for. Florida and Ohio. I was in Florida all day yesterday, so I have a really good sense of where to look for the vote. I've been in Ohio I think four times in the last two weeks.

BLITZER: You really went all out and made a major push for the president.

GIULIANI: I really feel I owe the man. I mean, it's both political and personal. But I feel that he was there for us. And he's kept our country safe. It's something that everybody's been kind of reluctant to point to, because we're all afraid there's going to be another attack, and I think there is going to be another attack. But you can't escape the fact that on September 11, 2001, and in the days after, I expected, everyone expected numerous attacks on the country. And George Bush's policies, I believe, and I think history will record this, George Bush's policies kept us safe. Thank God.

KING: Do you want this job?

GIULIANI: Do I want his job?

KING: No. Everyone wants his job. No, do you want the presidency?

GIULIANI: That's a good job. I mean, you get to comment. You don't have to have (UNINTELLIGIBLE) worrying about whether you're going to win or lose.

KING: Are you thinking about 2008?

GIULIANI: No. I'm thinking about tonight, and I'm not thinking -- I mean, that's so far away.

BLITZER: If the president is re-elected, would you like to come back in the federal government? You used to work in the federal government.

GIULIANI: No. I'm happy across the street at Giuliani Partners with Bernie Kerik and Tom Von Essen and...

(CROSSTALK)

KING: In other words, you wouldn't want to be attorney general.

GIULIANI: All my guys. And we do security consulting all over the country.

BLITZER: Attorney General?

KING: You don't want to be attorney general?

GIULIANI: I'm happy where I am. I know people have a hard time believing this. This is all done out of personal loyalty to a guy that I think is just one heck of a leader, George Bush.

BLITZER: Because, as you know, a lot of people speculating, pundits, that the amount of travel that you did, going out, not only working for the president, but key races in the House and the Senate, that's designed to set the stage for 2008.

GIULIANI: Did you ever think, among other things, I enjoy it? I like campaigning. Why do you think I ran for mayor of New York City? I mean, I enjoy it. It was an honor to do it. It was tremendously educational. It was not about leading to anything else in the future.

After going through prostate cancer, and after going through what we went through in this city, you know, just a few miles from here, I don't plan the future quite that way anymore. You know, you sort of -- this was a great opportunity to get involved in a campaign for a man that I have tremendous respect for, George W. Bush. And that is what it is all about.

KING: Did you expect closer in New Jersey?

GIULIANI: No. No, Jersey, it doesn't surprise me. Pennsylvania I have more hope for, from the Republican point of view and obviously, Ohio, Florida, Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, those are the states that --

KING: That's where it will be decided, right, those five, six states?

GIULIANI: Absolutely, those states are going to decide it, depending on, you know, on how it goes.

KING: And will the country, no matter who wins this, come together?

GIULIANI: Of course it is going to come together. Of course. Absolutely. We're Americans. I mean, there is no -- I have no doubt about it. I believe President Bush is going to win. I hope and pray for that. I have worked for it.

If John Kerry wins, he's our president. But both of them are going to get the support of the American people. They are going to get an opportunity to bring us together. And if they reach out to the other side, as I believe both of them will do, the president gets re- elected, you put some Democrats in the cabinet, the way John Kennedy did, the way President Bush -- the way President Clinton did. Or the other way around, if John Kerry is elected, put a few Republicans, like a Bill Cohen, that, you know, Clinton put in...

BLITZER: What about a Rudy Giuliani?

GIULIANI: No. I'm here. Giuliani Partners across the street. I'm going to do security consulting all over the world. It's great.

KING: And it is also moneymaking, isn't it?

GIULIANI: It helps take care of the college bills and everything else and the other things that...

BLITZER: The president of the United States comes to you, it is hard to say no, as you know.

GIULIANI: It is. But that's something -- you know that's something that's...

KING: But you're saying no tonight.

GIULIANI: I'm saying, I'm not interested. No, you never say no to the president of the United States, absolutely not. You can say no to Larry or to you, Wolf. But you can't say no to the president of United States. Thanks.

KING: Say no to us. What do you think of that?

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: He says no to me all of the time. I invite him on my shows. He keeps saying no.

Thanks, Mr. Mayor. Thanks very much for joining -- you have a beautiful city. We love being here at Times Square. As you can see, we have a big crowd out there.

GIULIANI: Yes, crossroads of the world, capital of the world.

BLITZER: Nothing like it.

GIULIANI: Isn't it? Greatest city in the world.

BLITZER: Stick around, listen to Bill Schneider. I want to bring in Bill Schneider. He's got some exit poll numbers that he wants to share with us. Bill, tell our viewers and tell the mayor as well.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Fear and anger, were the two dominate emotions in this election. Fear of terrorism and anger over New York. And nowhere did they play together as significantly as here in New York which we already has said is voting for John Kerry. But what is interesting is Iraq was a dominant issue more than terrorism here in New York.

Let's look at how voters who said their top issue was Iraq voted, 85 percent of them voted for John Kerry, just 12 percent for Bush. Those are voters who were angry over the Iraq War. And they were more numerous than those who said they were concerned about terrorism. So in New York, despite 9/11, despite the tragic loss of so many New Yorkers, anger over Iraq was a more important emotion than fear of terrorism -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Fascinating information. I know you're collecting a lot more information from those exit polls. We'll check back with you. Bill Schneider.

Anderson Cooper, you've got a project.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I've got two projections to make for you, Wolf. In Arizona, we project John McCain the winner there. No great surprise there. Of course, John McCain winning again widely expected to, of course, perhaps have an interest in running for president in 2008 if President Bush did not win re-election. Also in the state of Wisconsin, we project Russ Feingold the winner. There had been some that thought Tom Michels might be able to run a strong campaign against him. It didn't work out. Russ Feingold the winner in Wisconsin.

I want to bring in Amy Walter from "The Cook Political Report," because we're monitoring a number of very close races right now in southern states, Kentucky, Louisiana, South Carolina, Florida, and North Carolina.

Fascinating races all. Amy, lets start off in Kentucky.

In Kentucky, Jim Bunning, Dan Mongiardo, who knew.

AMY WALTER, "THE COOK POLITICAL REPORT": This one of the most unexpectedly close races here. This was not a race that we expected to be this close simply because, Bunning had an advantage going into the last few weeks of this campaign. Mongiardo, just really kind of got his campaign on the ground, didn't raise a whole lot money.

COOPER: Bunning, a seating senator, a major league pitcher from way back, 224 Major League wins. He's had nine election wins so far.

If he pulls it out, this would be his 10th, but it is looking extraordinarily close. And they have been pouring millions of dollars into this race.

WALTER: That's right. The real question was would the fact that Mongiardo got such a late start in terms of the outside money coming in, would that hurt him against Bunning, who had such a tremendous money advantage. Remember though, in 1998, Jim Bunning won his race, his first race for the Senate by only 6,766 votes.

COOPER: Mitch McConnell, has been campaigning very strongly for him in the last week or so, almost full time. But Bunning has made some stumbles, has made some comments that the raised some people's eyebrows.

He said, he talked about the events of November 11 -- (UNINTELLIGIBLE) September 11, he said he hadn't read a newspaper in six weeks. We'll see if voters really cared about that.

South Carolina, pretty close, although, right now Jim DeMint with 43 percent of the precincts reporting seems to have a couple point lead over Inez Tenenbaum a state election official -- a state educational official.

WALTER: This is a state, North Carolina, Louisiana, Florida, these are all seats where Democrats will have incumbents when they retire.

COOPER: Fritz Hollings, of course, 38 years in the Senate.

WALTER: Right. And then North Carolina, John Edwards, of course, John Breaux in Louisiana and then, of course, in Florida where you have Bob Graham.

COOPER: This other race we're watching, 28 percent of precincts in North Carolina represent Richard Burr against Erskine Bowles, former chief of staff for Clinton, a couple of point lead in that. But again, only 20 percent of precincts reporting. Lets look at Louisiana though, a fascinating system here. This would be amazing. David Vitter, a Republican, they haven't sent a Republican to the Senate since reconstruction. If these numbers hold, he's getting 55 percent. The reason you see three people here, they have a Cajun system. It's basicly a primary today. Anyone who gets 50 percent plus one they go on, if no one gets 50 percent plus one, two people go to a runoff a month from now.

But this is amazing, David Vitter, in the lead.

WALTER: That's what we have been seeing for a while, that David Vitter was getting to the 50 percent mark in some early polling, which was a big surprise. It expected that Chris John, the Congressman, was going to get into a runoff with David Vitter. David Vitter from the New Orleans suburbs. This be with a big surprise and also a big blow to the Democrats.

COOPER: Lets caution here, 1 percent of precincts in reporting, the numbers are tiny here. It may mean nothing. Florida Senate, a closely watched race, a big money races, a lot of interest in this. Mel Martinez, of course, former secretary of Housing Urban and Development. Betty Caster, a state education official. Numbers changing as we speak, 54 percent of precincts in. This thing is very close indeed.

WALTER: It's going to look much like, I'm sure, just how close we've seen the presidential contest in 2000. The Martinez-Caster race here, of course, very close here and an evenly divided state. Martinez is hoping -- he's Cuban-American, he's hoping that he can really coalesce Hispanics, not just Cuban-Americans, but Hispanics a very big growing population, especially in the middle part of the state.

COOPER: If Mel Martinez wins he will be the first Cuban-American to serve in the United States Senate. A point he makes frequently. Amy Walter, we'll continuing to watch these races, some very close races indeed.

KING: We haven't called Chuck Schumer?

(LAUGHTER)

COOPER: Hey, at this point we're still, you know, still collating information.

KING: OK.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Chuck Schumer, is the incumbent in New York state. We're still waiting to see what happens on that. Although, I doubt there's going to be much done.

GREENFIELD: I don't think anybody's waiting to see on that one.

BLITZER: I don't think so.

(CROSSTALK)

KING: I think Chuck went

BLITZER: Anderson and Amy, thank you very much.

I want to bring our viewers up to date. You see a lot of numbers at the bottom of your screen. We're showing our viewers numbers that are coming in from the Associated Press, the Associated Press bringing us the raw data, the raw election numbers. Sometimes you see zero there, that's the polls have closed. It doesn't mean it will be zero, it only means that we haven't received any numbers from the Associated Press yet. We'll give you those much more coming certainly as soon as we get them from the Associated Press. They're bringing us all the general raw election tabulations into the CNN election headquarters.

Much more coming up.

Much more coming up from here at Nasdaq Market Site in Times Square, New York. We'll take another quick break. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: CNN Election Headquarters, Times Square, New York.

Let's recap where we stand. Almost 9:30 p.m. on the East Coast. The popular vote, these are real numbers with 16 percent of the vote now in, George W. Bush with 53 percent, just over 12 million votes. John Kerry with 46 percent. Ralph Nader has 50,000 votes, less than 1 percent. Let's look at the all important electoral college, 155 votes so far for Bush, 112 for Kerry. Two hundred and seventy needed to be elected president of the United States.

Key battleground states that we have not yet been able to project winners in.

Florida, look at these numbers, 53 percent so far for Bush, 46 percent for Kerry, Nader we are 1 percent, almost 20,000 votes. Fifty four percent of the precincts reporting, almost half of the vote in.

Pennsylvania, 14 percent of the precincts reporting, Bush with 29 percent, Kerry at 71 percent, very early in that state.

Ohio, 9 percent, less than 10 percent of the vote in, Bush with 53 percent, Kerry 47 percent.

Jeff Greenfield, help us understand what we're seeing.

GREENFIELD: Problem is, we don't know where these votes are coming from. It's as big in the state to assume that Bush is actually leading in Florida as it would be to assume that Kerry is ahead in Pennsylvania.

The only thing that caught my eye was that Bush is running slightly better than -- from Kerry than in the Senate race, Martinez was against Betty Castor. If those votes are coming from the same place, it suggests a slight increase for Bush. But for instance, South Florida, supposed to be a Kerry strength. If that's in the mix, that's one thing. If it's not, it is another. So I think we're doing this because as a viewer, many of us have often been frustrated by just percentages. We want to see where the votes are. Here they are. They haven't told us the story that we're going to be telling in the hours ahead.

BLITZER: In Pennsylvania, for example, 71 percent for Bush, 20 percent for Kerry, 14 percent reporting. Those votes could predominantly be from Philadelphia -- as a result, there could be a lopsided number. We don't know that, but that's possible.

Let's take a look at these other states. Iowa is now closed at 10 p.m. on the East Coast. Wisconsin and Michigan, Wisconsin right now only less than 1 percent of the vote in. Very early. Slightly for Bush.

Michigan, only 2 percent in. Slightly for Bush as well.

GREENFIELD: Right. The picture you have in these nine states, when it unfolds is probably going to be the picture that reveals who the winner of this election is. Because in this mix, you've got states that the Republicans really want to take away from the Democrats, that's Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, which Al Gore won by 366 votes. Florida, Ohio and New Hampshire are the three biggest targets the Democrats have had for the Republicans. We're showing you this not because we can tell you what is going to happen, but because all of you out there want to keep your eye on these nine states as much as any others. Whether there are any surprises coming up in the next hour or two, we really don't know.

BLITZER: Look at New Hampshire right there, 24 percent of the vote in. A quarter of the vote in. Kerry slightly ahead, 51-48 percent, now it's 51-49 percent.

GREENFIELD: And Ralph Nader is clearly underperforming from what he did in 2000 in terms of the percentage of the vote.

BLITZER: We have a projection to make right now. So turn around. And we can find out what we're going to be projecting together with our viewers. Right now, look at this, Louisiana going for George W. Bush with its nine electoral votes. I don't think any of us could be overly surprised, Jeff, about that.

GREENFIELD: That's right. This is underwhelming news. This is a state that even Lyndon Johnson couldn't carry in 1964.

BLITZER: Louisiana going for Bush. Let's be able to tell our viewers where the Electoral College stands now with these nine electoral votes going for George W. Bush. We'll get that ready, put it up on the screen, have an updated tally for our viewers.

I believe we have that right now. Bush with 164 electoral votes. Kerry with 112; 270 needed to be elected president.

Once again, to remind our viewers, the red states are Bush states. The blue states are Kerry states. And as a result, the white states are states that have closed but we don't have enough information to project a winner.

GREENFIELD: And what we do know, and you'll be hearing this until something changes, not a single state has changed from where it was in 2000. All the red states were red states in 2000; all the blue states were blue in 2000.

BLITZER: All right, we have another projection to make right now, and let's put it up in this board over here. CNN can now project Mississippi going for George W. Bush, with its six electoral votes. Once again, this is not a surprise.

GREENFIELD: That's putting it mildly.

BLITZER: I think the only thing that is surprising is that it has taken us this long to be able to make that projection.

GREENFIELD: Jimmy Carter actually won the White House by carrying Mississippi narrowly in 1976. That's been about it for the Democrats since about Harry Truman. He didn't even carry Mississippi.

BLITZER: With that Mississippi going to George W. Bush, the president is now at 170 electoral votes, 100 shy of the 270 needed to be elected president. John Kerry with 112 electoral votes right now. We'll continue to watch this situation. Let's walk over to our friends over here -- Larry.

KING: This count in Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, New Hampshire, when you don't know where the counties are, this is all just -- it is figures, right?

BLITZER: Right.

KING: I mean, you don't know.

GREENFIELD: That's why we're going to go to Stu Rothenberg in a few minutes, along with Bill Hemmer, who has a county by county look at where some of these votes are coming from. He is the one who already told us that Bush is running strong in the I-4 corridor in Florida. That's the kind of information that will tell us something about a state, when South Florida comes in, if it's running stronger for Kerry than for Gore, that tells us something.

KING: Or as you said, if Philadelphia...

BLITZER: That could be totally misleading. Carlos, are you surprised that so far on this night, every state that went for Al Gore so far we're projecting going for John Kerry, every state that went for Bush four years go, still staying with Bush? Among those states that we have already projected, there has been no change, given the fact there has been a war, the economy has been a little stagnant as we all know, there has been so many changes in the country, but so far at least the voters are remaining very steady.

WATSON: So far. But let's not forget that there is some bold bids that both campaigns have made. In the case of the president, as Jeff alluded to earlier, a very bold bid to transform the political geography in the Midwest, going after Wisconsin, going after Iowa, going after Minnesota. Minnesota hasn't voted Republican since 1972. So it would be fairly dramatic if that happened. And conversely, you see the Democrats, and we're going to hear more about this as the night goes on, in the West. In Colorado, in Nevada, in other places, trying to leverage what they think is potentially a new base, the Hispanic vote, to make a difference.

BLITZER: All right, I want to bring in David Gergen, because he knows a lot about this. And he's watching this together with all of us. You served four presidents, Democratic and Republicans, David. Give us your thoughts, where this stands right now.

DAVID GERGEN, FRM. PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: Well, Wolf, the building suspense and this long suspense over the 3 big states, Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio along with these recent projections with regard to the Senate races showing a number of Republican victories, this is suspense is bound to raise Republican spirits. As the evening opened, there was a lot of anecdotal evidence, people looking at exit poll and the like, and among Republicans, there is some long faces, a deep concern that the president seemed to be under performing in many places around the country.

In a sense, as Bob Novak was saying earlier tonight on the program, Ohio looked like it was uphill for the president, that James Carville was saying Pennsylvania looks like it is going for Kerry. If Kerry can take 2 of those 3 states, that's going to make a dramatic difference.

But now, as these actual numbers come in. And I think Bob Woodward was alluding to this point, the numbers seem to conflict with what people were feeling earlier in the night. And I think this must be rallying Republican spirits. Because they now -- they went in about 2 hours ago, many Republicans felt this was getting away from them. Now they must feel we have got a really big fighting chance here. Let's see how these numbers come in on places like the I-4 corridor.

KING: David, is it just a fighting chance or is this even?

GERGEN: Larry, i think it is -- we just don't know, because of the 3 big states. If President Bush wins 2 out of those 3 states, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida, he very likely will win the election. If on the other hand, John Kerry wins 2 out of those 3 states. Let's say he were to win Pennsylvania and Ohio, then the president still has a fighting chance out in the Midwestern states that Jeff Greenfield was just pointing to.

If he can pick up Wisconsin and Iowa, for example, he can still get over. Even if he were to lose 2 of the 3, whereas, John Kerry can't afford to lose 2 of those 3 big states.

KING: But if Kerry wins 2 of the 3, and split the upper Midwest that would favor Kerry, right?

GERGEN: It would. But Kerry has to win 2 out of 3 there too. Bush can come in and -- if President Bush wins Florida, which has 27, then if he takes Iowa and Wisconsin, loses Minnesota, loses Michigan, he's very likely going to be re-elected.

So in the next hour or so, perhaps we'll get these numbers, but right now I have to tell you Republicans must be feeling very differently from where they were 2 hours ago, because it does appear that in places like Florida, and I think they were smart to send Ken Mehlman out here on your program to rally Republicans and say, look, when you look at the numbers that are coming in, it is more encouraging than you may think.

BLITZER: Are you surprised, David, that the states that we have been able to project winners in are exactly the states that went Democratic or Republican 4 years ago? Despite all the changes in the country, the voters were still voting similarly to the way they voted 4 years ago?

GERGEN: I guess not. Because the fact is that we have been looking at numbers from these states for a long time. And all of these states so far have been ones we expected.

I was a little surprised earlier in the evening when it took a while to project in Virginia, took a while to project in North Carolina, that suggested those were closer than we thought. But in these Senate races, the Republicans are doing pretty well.

Maybe we'll have to wait and see how Kentucky comes out. But if you look overall at the Senate races, the Republicans seem to be doing well. In North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Louisiana. And that would be a big pickup if Vitter could come through with more than 50 percent and not have a runoff. That would be a major pick-up for Republicans.

BLITZER: We're going to be watching all those races.

Briefly, David, give us some perspective. You watched a lot of presidential races, a lot of campaigns, a lot of angry campaigns over the years. Give us some context to what the American public and people around the world are seeing in the United States tonight.

GERGEN: Well, the good news is we have huge turnout. And that we seem to have so few problems at the polls. We seem to have gotten past that peril. We'll have to wait and see before the night's out.

But I think that we had not gotten beyond the poison and the divisions. And I think the real issue for the next president, however it is, with all the problems on his desk on January 20, can he heal the nation? Can he put things back together?

And in that sense, the 2000 aftermath, and the way it was handled is the wrong model. The right model for how to handle the aftermath of this bitter close election is going to be the 1960 election match- up between Richard Nixon and John Kennedy when both men were extraordinarily gracious, both reached out to the middle, both tried to unify the country. And we came out of that welded together. And I think the world saw a more united America. That's going to be the real test for us.

BLITZER: All right. David, you're going to be with us all night. So stand by. We're going to be getting back to you.

Let's walk over, take look at Missouri. This has been, at least many considered it to be a battleground state with 11 percent of the vote in. George W. Bush with 52 percent of the vote, John Kerry with 48 percent. Only 11 percent of the precincts reporting.

You're looking at the state very closely for a specific reason, Jeff.

GREENFIELD: I am, indeed. There is a rule in Missouri called the 6 percent rule, and it applies to St. Louis County. Now, that is not the city of St. Louis, which is, as you might expect, rolls in huge majorities for Democrats. It is this part of suburban county.

And the rule in Missouri is, if a Democrat wins St. Louis county by 6 percent or more, the Democrat likely carries the state, under 6 percent, the Republican carries it. Here is what is interesting, with 40 percent of the vote in in St. Louis County, John Kerry is running apparently exactly 6 percent ahead of President Bush.

Now this is a state that the president -- that the Kerry campaign effectively pulled out of 3 weeks ago. I was told by one of the top advisers, we just don't think we have the horses to compete in Missouri. And if, in fact, this state runs really, really close, and John Kerry winds up losing miss Missouri with its 11 electoral votes, Democrats may look at this as a golden opportunity that they, in effect, conceded away. We don't know whether that 6 percent rule will hold, we point to it as a potential straw in the wind, Bill, Wolf and Laura.

KING: He's so wise.

BLITZER: He's a smart guy.

KING: He makes you think.

BLITZER: He has got those little nuggets there. Jeff, we'll be getting back for some more wisdom shortly.

In the meantime, let's bring in the Senate majority leader. Bill Frist joining us from Bush headquarters in Washington. Mr. Leader, thank you very much. Give us your sense how you feel right now, what you see happening across the country.

FRIST: I've looked at the Senate races, I'm very, very upbeat. We're going to pick up seats in the Republican Party. I'm confident. Right now, you can feel the atmosphere here as we get information from around the country that the president is going to do very, very well. About an hour and a half or two hours ago, people felt a little bit guarded inside. Now, people are very excited. They feel the momentum coming in from around the country.

KING: Do you think, Senator Frist, that you're going to win this tonight, or is it still too close to call?

FRIST: You know, I think we are going to win it tonight. Just because I can feel the momentum. A lot of information is being fed in here like it is with you. But the excitement that you feel, we're going to pull it off. And again, with the president winning, us picking up one or two seats possibly in the United States Senate, it will give us a real clear direction of how to move America forward.

BLITZER: Senator, the key states are Pennsylvania and Ohio and Florida. Which one of those states do you think the president has the biggest problem in right now?

FRIST: Well, Pennsylvania. I feel pretty good about Ohio right now. Both the phone calls we're getting in from around the state, as well as the returns itself. Florida obviously looks very good at this point. Pennsylvania, I'm still concerned about. But if we can take Florida and we can take Ohio, we'll do it.

KING: Will this country, no matter who wins this, come together?

FRIST: Yes. I mean, you know, right now you see a heated election, both sides, a lot of partisanship. Afterwards, I say this as the majority leader of the United States Senate, we will come together. We will govern. We will address the issues, the war on terrorism, of the economy, of creation of jobs. I can promise you that after we get through tonight, or the next day, whenever these elections are over, we'll pull together to govern, and of course we'll be governing with Republican principles, but reaching out across the aisles to pull everybody together.

KING: You are friends with Senator Daschle. Is that kind of mixed emotions if he's in trouble for you? I know as a majority, minority leaders, you have to get along in a sense.

FRIST: Well, we do. You know, it's been interesting. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) people have tried to pit one of us against the other. And in truth, we are good friends. I admire him tremendously, because he's a very effective leader for the other side of the aisle, the Democrats. So obviously we don't agree all the time. But I do have a real affection for him. He's been a very effective communicator, a very effective leader for the Democrats. On the other hand, John Thune is the person who I can work with most closely in moving America forward.

BLITZER: You may be friends with Senator Daschle, Senator Frist, but that didn't stop you from going to South Dakota and campaigning for John Thune, which is traditionally not something a majority or minority leader is supposed to do against his colleague.

KING: True.

FRIST: But you know, people say, well, tradition, people haven't done that before. But in truth, I care about America. I care about empowering of the people, moving America forward, of being tough on the war on terror, about supporting our military, of making sure seniors have prescription drugs. So I was there campaigning for John Thune, who agrees with everyone of those. And unfortunately, his opponent, who happens to be the Democratic leader, does not. So clearly I'm going to fight for our principles and do everything I can to get John Thune in the United States Senate.

BLITZER: Senator Bill Frist, the majority leader of the U.S. Senate, watching this together with all of us. Thanks very much for joining us from the Bush/Cheney headquarters in Washington, D.C.

We'll take another quick break. Much more coverage coming up. You thought it was close 4 years ago, it's still very, very close here tonight. But we're sticking around. We hope you will as well.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: In the heart of Times Square NASDAQ, the market site, it is our CNN election headquarters. On this night we're watching all of the races coming in. They're coming in all of the time, all of the races clearly, the state races for the presidency, for the Senate, for the House, for the governor races as well. Our senior White House correspondent John King is watching this. He's over at the White House -- John.

KING: And Wolf, the president is watching well. And we're about a minute away from hearing his remarks, optimistic remarks from the White House residence.

Just a short time ago, the White House travel pool, a small group of reporters brought up to see the president, his father and some close aides, family and friends watching the election returns. We will hear from the president in a moment.

But Mr. Bush will tell us here and tell the American people, especially those in states with the polls still open, that he is optimistic. The president watching the results tonight. And they are waiting, of course, to decide when and where he might give a big speech to supporters. He obviously wants to know the results before he does so.

So, they did decide, as the polls are still open in some states, to bring reporters up to the residence of the White House to get a glimpse of him watching the returns. And again, they have operations throughout the White House, watching monitors, working the phones to supporters in key states. The president, obviously, wanting to offer his perspective to us and we'll hear it in just a moment, Wolf.

BLITZER: You know, John, earlier the president didn't seem overly enthused. At least some people were making that conclusion. Right now he is feeling much better, clearly. And he wants to go out there, make a statement to get those voters who have not yet voted, especially in the Midwest, and the western part of the country. He's going to need all of these states, the president of the United States allowing as you point out these reporters, the camera crews to come in. Let's listen.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Barney, you got something to say?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Barney.

BUSH: Come here, Barney.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Barney. Oh, Barney.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Come on, Barn.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How is it going, Mr. President?

BUSH: Very upbeat, thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to get a win tonight?

BUSH: I believe I will win, thank you very much. I feel good about it. I'm glad to be able to watch the returns here with my family and friends. And it is a -- it's going to be an exciting evening.

BLITZER: It is an exciting evening. John King that goes without saying. Tell our viewers who was there, who has the president brought into the residence to watch these returns come in?

KING: Well, you saw the 41st president of the United States, his father, George Herbert Walker Bush, his mother Barbara Bush, the first lady, two of the president's brothers on hands, other family members as well, some of his wife Laura Bush's friends and also some friends from his home in Midland, Texas.

Now a bit of psychology at play here, Wolf. Remember, Nevada and New Mexico, key states for this president, the polls are still open there. Colorado, a state he is believed he will win and that state. But there are Senate races on the western part of the United States. Mr. Bush, being both a good Republican and an optimistic candidate for his own chances. Aides say anecdotally, they're getting, good, good results.

Now, of course, Ohio is the state we're all watching. And that is one where they say they're getting good results from the people on the ground. So, you see the president tonight saying he believes he will win. And that is the Yellow Room in the residence there. He believes he will win.

Aides say the mood here has improved as the night has gone on. As they have watched the actual results come in and match them up against the early exit polls they reviewed. They think they're doing better. They say they're still optimistic here. But obviously, a few key states for the president still in play. That's why he's watching so closely.

BLITZER: All right. John King at the White House, I suspect that John Kerry is watching as well, his advisers are watching and presumably it won't be long before we see a camera crew go into his room where he's watching these results. He'll want to do what the president is doing at well. John King at the White House, thanks very much.

We're ready to make another projection. Nebraska, earlier we had said 4 of its 5 electoral votes would go for the president. Now we can project that all 5 of Nebraska's electoral votes will go for the president with 7 percent of the vote in. He's had 62 percent of the vote, 37 percent for Kerry, 1 percent for Ralph Nader. Nebraska, like Maine, one of those states that can split its electoral votes.

Paula Zahn is standing by with the "CROSSFIRE" gang. Paula, pick it up. Let the "CROSSFIRE" guys weigh in on this very dramatic night.

PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Well, that's all we've been doing, actually, for the last 15 minutes or so, a lot of mathematical calculations. There are a bunch of different scenarios that could get either candidate to an electoral victory. We talked a lot about the candidate needing to win two of the three, Pennsylvania, Ohio or Florida. But James Carville thinks it is even more simple than that. How do you see it?

JAMES CARVILLE, CROSSFIRE: I'm like Jethro, I've been doing a lot of ciphering here. And the way that I cipher this whole thing, is, it comes down -- if Ohio and Florida split, the math becomes very, very difficult for the president. If the president carries Ohio and Florida, then the math comes very, very difficult, the ciphering if you will, because very, very difficult for Senator Kerry.

That is what this whole thing boils down to. And deciphering, you can figure it this way or that way, you can figure it that way, Senator Kerry needs a split, at least a split in Ohio and Florida. The president needs to win them both. I'm not saying it is impossible either way, but the scenarios get dicey.

ROBERT NOVAK, CROSSFIRE: Let me suggest how President Bush can win with a split. If he wins Florida, loses Ohio, but also wins Wisconsin, with the Catholic vote, I understand is going for the Republicans, wins New Mexico, where I think he's looking good, but loses Iowa, loses Iowa, which is very close, my calculation come out to 269 to 269 and the House of Representatives...

ZAHN: Say it ain't so, Bob.

CARVILLE: Ciphering away.

NOVAK: Let me get off the hook on one thing, though, I said my sources said, Jim Bunning was dead, Kentucky senator, the great baseball pitcher. Right -- he was behind with two-thirds of the vote out, five points behind. Now, with 90 percent of the vote in he's 20,000 votes ahead. Looks like Bunning is going to win. That would have been a great gift for the Democrats to win that seat.

ZAHN: Let's not bury the 269-269 tie here. What is the possibility of that happening?

PAUL BEGALA, CROSSFIRE: Bob has a -- it is plausible. But now, let me throw one more fly into the ointment. And that is -- this will shock you, Florida doesn't seem to have its electoral act together.

ZAHN: Oh, really?

BEGALA: The Kerry camp is on the phone to their boiler room in Florida and as I said before, the same guy who ran Florida for Gore is now running it for Kerry. And they tell me the absentee votes in Miami-Dade and Broward County and Palm Beach County, three of the biggest democratic counties in that state, may not be counted and reported until Thursday. Now, that's a quarter of a million votes.

ZAHN: The deadline is Thursday.

BEGALA: Has to be reported by noon Thursday. But even in 2000, where everything went wrong, they counted all the absentee votes on election night, the only ones they didn't get to were overseas military ballots, about 4,000 of them, that trickled in late.

ZAHN: So, what are you implying here?

BEGALA: They're even worse than they were 4 years ago.

ZAHN: You're citing an alterior motive, not saying a conspiracy theory? Just the fact that they weren't organized enough to get this vote...

TUCKER CARLSON, CROSSFIRE: No. There is plenty of time for this.

BEGALA: There is plenty of time for that.

Who knows what it is. It is outrageous that they can't count the votes. And the word I got was, well, gee, there were more absentee ballots than we were prepared for.

ZAHN: Is there any excuse for that?

CARLSON: There is no excuse. Death penalty too strong. But someone ought to go to jail. This is -- this is an invitation to lawyers for one thing. I mean, this is where we're going to see lawyers bad for America, definitely bad for the process, as we're going to see the most lawyers in Florida.

And there is no excuse for it. A quarter of a million votes, it stops the process entirely. You cannot call the election until you find out what the votes are, even if likely to be Democratic votes, you don't know. It is -- after 4 years of this -- this is very much the parties tonight, I need my dry cleaning. That's it. I need it now.

ZAHN: But don't you think, because of the scrutiny that comes with the year 2000, they'll find a way to bring in truck loads of people if the problem is opening the envelopes.

BEGALA: Bring them up here. Send a plane, send a CNN corporate jet. These people will count them for us right now. How hard is that?

CARVILLE: There has to be another explanation for this. It can't be that you're sitting there knowing everything, that the eyes are on you. You know the election is to be November 2, you've been knowing it since the last election, there has to be an explanation. I just refuse to believe that there is not something extraneous that we don't know. Because if the facts are -- if we hear them, they're right, it does -- it will look silly.

CARLSON: Silly? Yes. At the very least.

ZAHN: One of the things we haven't had a chance to talk a whole lot about are some of the -- what are called the sliver issues to some that are driving people to the polls in record numbers this election. How do you to see that arch turning out.

BEGALA: There's been this huge tension, particularly in Ohio, where we're turning our attention, between the economic voters and the social base voters. And the truth is, it is usually the same person. You know, the same guy who is likely to have union card in his wallet is going to have an NRA card as well.

And with the gay marriage ban on the ballot in Ohio. The social conservatives coming out in droves. At the same time, Ohio has lost 230,000 jobs since Bush came in. So the Democrats have been pushing that economic button. It looks like the Republicans have done almost as well, or maybe equally well on those social conservative issues.

ZAHN: The striking thing about one of these poll numbers, our exit polling showing a third of all voters who have gone to the poll who have a family member who have lost a job. We're not just talking about Ohio, on a national level during this administration.

NOVAK: Those are the people more likely to vote for Senator Kerry. No question. Can I raise one other thing we skipped over, looks like -- not looks like -- Indiana, today, has elected its first Republican governer in 20 years. So Republicans favor -- they elect Democrats as governor. And it Mitch Daniels. who you may remember was the OMB director under -- in the first two or three years under President Bush. The appropriaters just hated Mitch Daniels. But he turned out to be -- first time he ran for public office. It just kind of slips through the crack, but interesting result tonight.

ZAHN: Walk us ahead to the next hour of what we need to be looking for, this 10:00 hour.

CARVILLE: It's Ohio and Florida. All we need to be looking at. Everything else is, New Hampshire is going to be interesting to see what happens there. You want to look at Ohio and Florida and you want to look at Iowa, Wisconsin. and Bob is right, New Mexico and Nevada.

But the big thing, 90 percent of everybody's attention ought to be focused on is there a split in Ohio and Florida. And what happens to the ciphering from that point.

ZAHN: We don't expect it from the keep it simple, stupid, guy.

CARVILLE: It is all about -- everybody is -- except for people in the Pacific Time Zone very already voted now. And are in line and it is done. It is Ohio and Florida, period.

ZAHN: All right. We got the message, Wolf, here. Ohio, Florida, Ohio, Florida. Come back to us in the next hour and we'll bring you up to date on what we think is happening out there.

BLITZER: We'll be checking back with you, Paula, and the entire "CROSSFIRE" team throughout the night. The next poll closings, 4 states, 20 electoral votes at stake coming up in what, 45 seconds or so from now. We're going to be watching that, seeing if we can make projections, seeing if these votes, the electoral college votes will change, presumably they will. The 4 states that will be closing, Iowa, Nevada, Utah and Montana. Those 4 states as we can see right here closing in on a few seconds.

All of these states had been at least 3 of them, Iowa and Nevada, not Utah or Montana, at least 2 of those states, had been in play by all accounts, had been relatively close. We'll see what is going to happen. That's coming up. We got less than ten seconds to go. And we're going to be able to make a projection, or a 2 -- I assume. Let's find out right now.

And I'll turn to our projection board to find out.

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