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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Dems Win House, Need Three States to Control Senate

Aired November 8, 2006 - 23:59   ET

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


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: All right. We're watching what's going on. We're going to continue our special coverage. Larry King is standing by as well.
Let's just recap where we stand.

It's midnight now here on the East Coast. The House of Representatives, CNN projects, will become Democratic-controlled. That's why you hear Rahm Emanuel, who was in charge of trying to get Democrats elected to the House of Representatives as enthusiastic as he is right now.

The House of Representatives, CNN projects, will be led by the Democrats. Nancy Pelosi will become the speaker of the House of Representatives.

The situation in the United States Senate right now remains unclear. The Democrats have picked up three Republican-held seats. We've projected they've held all of their own seats, including in New Jersey and in Maryland.

There are still four outstanding races right now. The Democrats need to win three of them in order to get to that magic number of six and become the majority in the U.S. Senate.

It's incredibly close in those states, especially in the state of Virginia, where Jim Webb right now is slightly ahead of George Allen, the incumbent Republican, with about 99 percent of the vote tallied. But it's still very much up in the air.

We're going to stay on top of this story. We're not leaving until we know who will control the United States Senate. That could take some time.

Lou Dobbs is standing by with more -- Lou.

LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf, thank you very much.

That 2,300,000 votes in Virginia separated by just about 2,400 votes.

Jeffrey Toobin, our senior legal analyst, is here, and obviously Jeffrey is here because this says recount and brings up the prospect of litigation.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SR. LEGAL ANALYST: It certainly does. Just a little primer on Virginia law. If one candidate is behind by less than one percent at the end of the official tally of votes, that candidate has a right automatically to request and receive a recount. Here we're talking about 2.3 votes approximately.

DOBBS: Amazing.

TOOBIN: That means if the margin is under, say, 23,000 votes, there'll be a right to a recount. Here the margin is now 3,000 votes. So it seems clear that whichever candidate is behind after tonight will certainly have the right to ask for a recount.

DOBBS: Right. Now, Virginia's gone through a recount just last year.

TOOBIN: Remarkably, just last year in the race for state attorney general, a similar number of votes cast. Just under two million votes cast.

The margin on election night, the Republican was leading by 327 votes. The recount, which, by the way, took until December 22nd -- so, I mean, this was not a quick thing.

(CROSSTALK)

DOBBS: That's what I...

TOOBIN: December 22nd, the Republican wound up picking up just 27 votes. There was not much play. So the message is, you want to win this vote, George Allen, Mr. Webb, win it tonight.

DOBBS: That's very impressive that they would hold that strongly.

Now, the issue we have to kind of be concerned about is the types of voting machines that were used and the reliability of those, and the capability to carry out that recount.

TOOBIN: I mean, we have received periodic reports of problems in Virginia with individual machines.

DOBBS: Right.

TOOBIN: Nothing large scale, but it doesn't take a large-scale change to switch 3,000 votes. I mean, this is a very small margin. But -- but this recent history suggests that it would be very tough to make up 3,000 votes in a recount.

DOBBS: This margin of which is holding just about 2,400 votes out of 2 -- I mean, it's inconceivable, 2.3 million votes. We have deployed around the country this evening 850 lawyers from the Justice Department, about 2,000 lawyers from each political party. What do you think the odds are that we are going to see any significant litigation as a result of what has transpired on this Election Day?

TOOBIN: I think you can't know yet. The way these generally work is, first the recount takes place. And in the course of the recount, that's where the facts are developed, where one side or another begins litigation.

But certainly, if -- the side that's behind, if the margin remains this close -- and it seems impossible that the margin won't be -- I mean, the margin will have to be this close -- they're going to have to look very seriously at a recount whichever side loses, because, I mean, the whole Senate could hang on the result.

DOBBS: And we're not seemingly making much of an advance in votes counts in Missouri right now. Montana, obviously it's still early there. So we've got a lot of -- a lot of waiting to do through this evening.

TOOBIN: There could be more recounts and more litigation to discuss as the evening goes on.

DOBBS: Absolutely. Jeffrey Toobin, thank you very much.

"America Votes 2006".

OK. Just have a second here. We're getting a little -- a little counsel to your local anchor.

Right.

We are going to -- I was just talking with David Borman (ph). Our executive producer here was giving me some fresh instructions, and amongst them, to bring in our own Larry King, who's going to be talking with DNC chairman Howard Dean -- Larry.

LARRY KING, HOST: Thank you very much, Lou.

This is a special two-hour -- I'm sorry, one hour and 54 minute edition of LARRY KING LIVE. We'll be with you until 2:00 a.m. Eastern Time, checking back in with panels and groups all around the country, checking in with winners, and maybe some losers, as well, on this historic off-year election night.

Let's first, though, go to Washington, D.C., and check in with Howard Dean, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

How do you feel?

HOWARD DEAN, DNC CHAIRMAN: Pretty good. We have got a ways to go in the Senate, but it looks like we do have the House, that Nancy Pelosi will be speaker, and that we will give America the new direction they asked for.

I'm delighted.

KING: Is the House as big of a victory as you expected?

DEAN: It's actually a little bigger than I expected, according to the CNN projections. But, you know, those aren't real votes yet, and there's still votes to be counted in California and votes to be cast still in Hawaii. But it's a very big win.

It looks like we're going to pick up about 30 seats. That's very, very good. Very strong. And as I said, it will allow us to do the things the American people want us to do, which we think is make things easier for ordinary working and middle class people, and also to try to give us a new direction in Iraq.

KING: What surprised you tonight?

DEAN: I think some of the depth of the victory. I'll tell you one of the things that delighted me.

First of all, I think Chuck Schumer and Rahm Emanuel deserve an enormous amount of credit. But I am particularly of course delighted that we're picking up seats in supposedly red areas.

One of the things I very much wanted to do with the Democratic Party was to reach out to people in states that we didn't think we could win. Nebraska, we are ahead in western Nebraska. Whether we're going to win or not, I don't know, but we have a shot in southern Idaho.

We've already picked up seats in upstate New York. We think we're going to pick one up in Kansas.

These are great things for the future of the Democratic Party because we need to be a national party. We need to be competitive in every state.

We're going to win governors races. We've already won, I think, three or four. We'll probably come out with two or three more.

And some of these governorships are in great states. Arkansas we have won already. So I'm just delighted because we're finally beginning to become a national party again after 12 years.

KING: Now, you've got four Senate seats here up for grabs: Virginia, Maryland, Tennessee, Montana. You've got to win three of them. What are your -- what are your chances?

DEAN: Well, you know, the math is tough for us. Virginia now looks very good. We believe that the remaining votes to come in from Virginia are from northern Virginia, including absentee ballots. So we think that Jim Webb's margin will get a little bigger, perhaps.

And then we've got three tough states that are very, very close, and we've got to win two of them -- Tennessee, Montana and Missouri, and we've got to win two out of those three. That's a tough order, but I think we can do it.

KING: Thanks, Howard.

The former governor of Vermont, Howard Dean. The chairman of the Democratic National Committee. A happy man tonight.

The president, by the way, will hold a press conference tomorrow in response to all of this and you'll see it on CNN.

Let's check back in New York with Wolf Blitzer -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Larry, thanks very much.

And we're watching these races very, very closely, those four Senate races that hold the balance of power in the United States Senate. Still unclear what happens in those states, but we are staying on top of it every step of the way.

The Democrats, in order to become the majority in the U.S. Senate, need to win three of the four. Not an easy challenge by any means.

And as of right now, they have captured three Republican-held seats in the U.S. Senate. They have held their own, according to our own projections, including in New Jersey and in the state of Maryland. If they get three of those four remaining undecided Senate races, they will be in the majority, and it could take a while.

We'll stay on top of it every step of the way.

Let's go take a look. Let's go take a look and see where it stands right now.

And we'll start in Tennessee, where Bob Corker is facing a very, very stiff competition from Harold Ford Jr., the congressman, with 88 percent, 88 percent of the vote there. They are -- Corker is slightly ahead of Ford. By the way, the video that we're showing, these are pictures coming in.

You see Harry Reid, the Senate Democratic leader, Nancy Pelosi, the House Democratic leader. They're surrounded by Chuck Schumer and Rahm Emanuel, who were both responsible for trying to get Democrats elected to the House and Senate respectfully.

Harry Reid, the minority leader in the Senate, is about to make some remarks before some enthusiastic and excited Democrats. Unclear, unclear, of course, whether the Democrats will be the majority in the Senate. It is clear the Democrats will be the majority in the House.

We'll listen in briefly.

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MINORITY LEADER: All across America tonight, all across tomorrow tonight, from the deserts around Searchlight, Nevada, to Brooklyn, New York, and everything in between, there is in the air a wind of change. A wind of change.

America -- all over America tonight have said we want a change.

(APPLAUSE)

All over America tonight, they have come to the conclusion as we did some time ago that a one-party town just simply doesn't work.

(APPLAUSE) America's come to the conclusion as we did months ago that we must change direction in Iraq.

(APPLAUSE)

America has seen as we have seen that losing 3,000 Americans has been unnecessary, costing the American people $3 billion a week, 22,000 wounded, our brave, fighting men and women we support 100 percent. But they, as indicated by the -- by the "Air Force Times," by the "Navy Times," by the "Army Times" yesterday, are calling for change.

President Bush must listen. We must change course in Iraq.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: All right. Harry Reid, the Democratic leader in the U.S. Senate. He's anxiously awaiting word, as all of us are, whether the Democrats or the Republicans become the majority in the United States Senate. There's still uncertainty as of this moment right now.

Dana Bash is over there at Democratic headquarters in Washington listening to all of this.

They're thrilled, I'm sure, Dana, that the Democrats will be the majority in the House.

DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Thrilled, for sure. And we are waiting to hear from the person who they have said many times already here this evening will be the first female speaker of the House. They believe that is Nancy Pelosi. And what she will say here, Wolf, will be very important in terms of setting the tone.

She was pretty much a person who was -- Republicans ran against her. When they were running against Democrats on the campaign trail, especially in some conservative states, she was the bogeyman. So she understands that she not only feels that she has to reach out across the aisle, but she's going to have to reach out within her own caucus, Democratic caucus, because it is going to be very, very different.

There are going to be people who consider themselves liberal like Nancy Pelosi, and people who consider themselves very conservative. So she understands the tone she sets tonight will really dictate the kind of leadership and the kind of dynamic inside the House of Representatives there will be over the next two years.

BLITZER: Dana, thank you.

Dana Bash, over with the Democrats in Washington.

Let's check where we stand right now in the United States Senate. These are the four seats that are -- four races that are still unclear.

Tennessee, with 90 percent of the precincts reporting, Bob Corker has a slight advantage over Harold Ford Jr., 51-48 percent. In Missouri, with 62 percent of the precincts reporting, Jim Talent has a slight advantage right now, 50-46 percent over Claire McCaskill. We don't know where the outstanding votes are coming from.

In Virginia, with 99 percent of the votes -- precincts reporting now, a slight, very slight advantage of about 2,500 or so votes out of 2.1 million cast for Jim Webb, the Democratic challenger to the incumbent, George Allen.

And in Montana, 21 percent of the precincts reporting Jon Tester, the challenger, has an advantage over Conrad Burns, the Republican senator.

Let me walk over to Jeff Greenfield.

And you are going to explain right now this balance of power. I see the numbers 48 and 48 right now.

JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SR. ANALYST: This gets more and more interesting.

Let's assume for a moment -- let's assume that Jim Webb holds that 2,200-vote lead and we put -- and that's a pickup -- that would be a pickup for the Democrats. Let's assume -- just bear with me for a minute -- that in Montana Jon Tester, who has a lead with not that many of the votes in, picks that up. And let's assume that in Tennessee Bob Corker retains his lead over Harold Ford Jr. and we'll give that state to the Republicans.

So what do we have? We have 50 to 49. Missouri, which has -- reporting a lead for Jim Talent, the word we are getting is that more of the vote is left to be counted in McCaskill territory, Democratic territory, than in Talent territory.

St. Louis County, though that's not part of the city, but it tends to vote a little more Democratic than Republican, has yet to be heard from in great detail. And that -- you know, if that vote -- if that vote were to go Democratic, what would you have?

BLITZER: 51-49. If it went Republican, you would have 50-50, and that would raise all sorts of other questions which we'll explore momentarily.

But let's listen to Nancy Pelosi right now, the -- I guess we could call her the incoming speaker of the House of Representatives, the first woman ever to hold that responsibility.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), INCOMING SPEAKER OF HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: Tonight is a great victory for the American people.

(APPLAUSE)

Today the American people voted for change and they voted for Democrats to take our country in a new direction.

(APPLAUSE) And that is exactly what we intend to do.

(APPLAUSE)

The American people voted for a new direction to restore civility and bipartisanship in Washington, D.C., and Democrats promised to work together in a bipartisan way for all Americans.

(APPLAUSE)

The American people voted to restore integrity and honesty in Washington, D.C., and the Democrats intend to lead the most honest, most open and most ethical Congress in history.

(APPLAUSE)

The American people voted for a new direction for a fairer economy, and Democrats intend to work for an economy where all Americans participate in the prosperity of our great country.

(APPLAUSE)

And nowhere did the American people make it more clear that we need a new direction than in the war in Iraq. "Stay the course" has not made our country safer, has not honored our commitment to our troops, and has not made the region more stable. We cannot continue down this catastrophic path.

And so, we say to the president, Mr. President, we need a new direction in Iraq.

(APPLAUSE)

Let us work together to find a solution to the war in Iraq.

The campaign is over. Democrats are ready to lead.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Nancy Pelosi, who will be the next speaker of the House of Representatives, the first woman to become speaker of the House of Representatives, very, very excited, speaking about the future. The Democrats will be the majority in the House, but it's still unclear at this moment who will be the majority in the United States Senate. There are still four Senate seats very much in play.

We're staying on top of this story. We'll update you with all the latest numbers coming in right after this short break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Still lots of uncertainty as far as those four undecided Senate seats are concerned. We'll update you momentarily on that, but I want to bring in Larry King. He's got a special guest -- Larry.

KING: Thank you very much, Wolf.

He's not on the ballot tonight, but he may be the hottest political figure in America. Arguably, he is.

Senator Barack Obama, Democrat of Illinois, how are you feeling?

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), ILLINOIS: I'm feeling great, Larry. It's a good night so far. And we still have got a little ways to go on the Senate side, but I think there's no doubt that the American people have said we want some change, we want some practical commonsense solutions to issues like healthcare and energy and education. And most of all, with respect to the war in Iraq.

And we're seeing that in the House races. And, you know, the Senate races are still tight, but we have already gotten some pickup. So overall, I think a good night for Democrats and a strong message from the American people.

KING: Biggest disappointment the possibility of Ford's defeat in Tennessee?

OBAMA: Well, on the Senate side, that would be a disappointment because Harold Ford is as good a candidate as I've seen. And I've traveled a lot this year on behalf of candidates.

He is extraordinarily talented. And I think that if he does not win tonight -- and it's still too close to call, and we are still hopeful that some late-breaking returns pull him up -- but if he doesn't, I guarantee you he will be back, because he is an extraordinary talent and a really fine young man.

KING: What does this mean, Senator? The Democrats control the House, and let's say the Senate is very close or even or whatever.

OBAMA: Right.

KING: What change occurs in America?

OBAMA: Well, I think that a lot is going to rest on how the president approaches the results of the election tonight. He's going to be there for two more years, and the question is, does he want a legacy of accomplishment, or does he want gridlock and more of the same in Iraq?

If he chooses the former, then I think there's an opportunity for Democrats to join with Republicans and the administration to say, let's figure out how to control healthcare costs and make sure that it's more accessible to more people. Let's come up with a bold energy plan that could really put us on the pathway to energy independence. Let's sit down with the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Jim Baker and Lee Hamilton's commission to figure out how do we stabilize Iraq, make the Iraqi government take more responsibility for coming up with a political accommodation so we can start phasing down our troops.

There's opportunities to do good work. But the president's going to have to, I think, change from the highly ideological partisan approach that he's taken during the first six years of his term, when basically Republicans controlled the entire ball game here in Washington.

KING: A couple of other things. How does the election tonight affect your decision which you tell us will come in January about seeking the presidency?

OBAMA: Well, it confirms in my mind that the American people are eager to move in a new direction. And it confirms that they want a politics that is unifying, as opposed to divisive, and that they're tired of slash-and-burn politics. But it's important for me to take some time to think about, you know, how I can be most useful in the future.

You know, this will probably be the first week in at least a month where I'm not having to take off my shoes in security -- airport security lines. And I'll have a chance to talk to my wife and I'll have a chance to reflect on what I've already accomplished and what I would like to see happen both in the Democratic Party and in the country. And so, it's going to be, I think, some time before I actually come up with a final conclusion.

KING: But nothing that happened tonight would discourage you?

OBAMA: Nothing that happened tonight would discourage me from -- from making that race, but it's something that I've got to spend some serious time thinking about.

KING: Thanks very much, Senator Obama.

OBAMA: Always great to talk to you, Larry.

KING: Senator Barack Obama, let's meet one of your confreres. He is a victor tonight, Senator Robert Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey. He joins us in East Brunswick.

Congratulations, Senator Menendez.

SEN. ROBERT MENENDEZ (D), NEW JERSEY: Thank you, Larry.

KING: Were you surprised at all at size of the victory?

MENENDEZ: Oh, I've been saying for a while that the polls were all having us move in the right direction, and I'm glad to see that the people of New Jersey today voted for the politics of change and hope and opportunity and rejected the politics of smear and fear. And that was a great success tonight.

KING: What part did Iraq play in your election?

MENENDEZ: A very big part, I think, Larry. I didn't vote for the war four years ago. I didn't believe it was in the national security interest of the United States. And therefore, took a principled position against it four years ago, and have been an advocate of transitioning out of Iraq. And I think that New Jerseyans came to understand that 2,800 American lives later, $380 billion later, $8 billion each and every month that we continue in Iraq without changing the course, that it was time to send the president a clear message that the American people want to move in a different direction. And I think certainly New Jersey did that tonight. It was a big part of what I stood for, what I believe in, what I communicate with the voters of New Jersey.

KING: And have you spoken to your opponent?

MENENDEZ: I did very briefly before I came out to give our speech, and I wished him well, and him and his family well. And I look forward to being able to serve now in the United States Senate for the next six years.

KING: Thank you, Senator. Congratulations.

MENENDEZ: Thank you, Larry.

KING: Let's go back to election central and Wolf Blitzer -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Larry, thanks very much.

We want to just update our viewers on what's going on in Virginia right now. And we're going to put these numbers up on our wall over here.

The Virginia race incredibly, incredibly close right now between the incumbent Republican senator, George Allen, and the challenger, Democrat Jim Webb. Take a look at this.

With 99 percent of the precincts reporting, 50 percent for Webb, 49 percent for George Allen. A difference, if you add up the numbers, more than 2.2 million cast. Of only about 2,500 or so votes right now, almost all of the precincts have now reported.

This is emerging about as close as it gets. And just want to also remind our viewers that if the eventual result is less than one percent, the defeated candidate can call for an automatic -- an automatic recall -- an automatic recount, that is. And the state would have to go forward with that.

George Allen and -- George Allen and Jim Webb in a very close race.

Jeff Greenfield, you are looking at this as closely as anyone.

GREENFIELD: Well, as if this wasn't close enough, there are reports that The Associated Press numbers are different, are inverted from the secretary of state's numbers. So we are getting two different numbers.

One showing Webb with a 2,100-vote lead, and the other showing George Allen with a 2,100-vote lead. So we can't say for sure that this incredibly thin margin actually represents what the vote count is.

Now, just remember what I showed you a minute ago. If Claire McCaskill wins in Missouri, Corker wins in Tennessee and Tester wins in Montana, this race will determine control of the U.S. Senate. And thinking about 2000, there is a Green Party candidate on the ballot who has won about 25,000 votes, all of whom are probably -- or most of them coming from James Webb. And we have the possibility of recounts and lawsuits to determine this time not who the president is, but which party controls the Senate.

Welcome back.

BLITZER: It's a little confusing right now in Virginia. We're going to try to sort this out as best as we can.

Anderson, I think it's fair to say that it's a dramatic development.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: To say the least, yes. Three thousand either way.

James Carville and Paul Begala have been working the phones, talking to various people.

You've been looking at the numbers. It is confusing, to say the least. I mean, 3,000 either way, depending on who you are listening to.

Why are the numbers like this?

PAUL BEGALA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Right. Well, who's in and who's out? Right? What votes have been counted and what remain out?

We've got a program here at CNN that has allowed me to take a look at what counties have reported and what haven't.

If you look here, Arlington County, which Webb carried overwhelmingly, it still has two percent of its precincts out, which is just one box. But that's -- you know, that's something.

Isle of Wight County, which is a county that Webb is getting 56 percent in generally, that's still got eight percent of its boxes out.

Fairfax County, which is a huge Democratic stronghold, and particularly for a Democrat like Webb, has one of its boxes out.

The Allen people, though, obviously not giving up. Prince Edward County is a county where Allen got 52 percent. And that's still got nine percent of its boxes out. And one percent of Virginia Beach is a Republican stronghold.

So this thing is all over the map.

Loudoun County, though, classic suburban swing county, seven percent of its boxes are out. And that is split almost perfectly 50- 50 in the performance of the 93 percent of the boxes that are already in.

COOPER: It is incredible that, I mean, two-plus million voters and it's down to some 3,000.

JAMES CARVILLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: And they go to, as I understand it talking to -- it goes to -- J.B. Poersch, who is the head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, says it goes to provisional ballots tomorrow. These are like people that come in and get challenged, and they say put your ballot over here.

So we're going to have a provisional count probably tomorrow. There's obviously going to be an automatic -- there will be a recount of which everybody would take. I mean, you're entitled to it and you're supported. I wouldn't blame Allen or Webb if they took that.

And it looks like -- Montana, I'm told, looks very good for the Democrats. And if Missouri turns out to be Democratic, the fate of the United States Senate is going to hang in a Virginia recount.

COOPER: And what are you hearing from Tennessee? Are you hearing -- it doesn't look good for the Democrats?

CARVILLE: For Harold Ford, right. A hell of a race. Probably my favorite candidate the entire year.

Did very well, got 48 percent. He's got an enormous future in the Democratic Party. He -- enormous, enormous future, and I think he conducted himself very, very well.

But right now, it -- you know, we could lose in Missouri, but I think our people don't think that we are. And I think it's going to come down to Virginia.

COOPER: You talk about a nail-biter, I mean, this is about as quick as it gets.

J.C. WATTS, FMR. CONGRESSMAN: This is about as tight as it gets. And I, too, want to add to James' comments on Harold Ford. Regardless of what party you're in, Harold did a great job, and I think made everybody that's ever run for public office, made us pretty proud.

You know, I look at the Virginia situation, Anderson, and it's about -- as Paul said, it's about eight or nine -- about nine or 10 counties out. I have got nine. I think Paul had 10.

It looks like they're pretty divided on Republican-Democrat counties, where they lean. So that's going to be very interesting when the tally is counted.

I talked to the Talent people, and they're saying that, you know, the vote in the rural communities came in, they felt pretty good about that. They think they're standing on they're own and...

COOPER: This is Jim Talent in Missouri, running against Claire McCaskill.

WATTS: Jim Talent in Missouri. That's right.

I think they're standing on their own in Kansas City and St. Louis. So, they hadn't been willing to call it, but it just, again, says that we are in for another couple of hours.

BEGALA: The Democrats on the ground in Missouri say that two thirds of the African-American precincts in Kansas City have not yet reported. They take that as very good news for Claire McCaskill, the Democrat.

They also say that St. Louis County has only reported 30 or 40 percent. Those are the urban strongholds that a Democrat has to win big in.

J.C. is right. The rural precincts, rural counties largely have already reported. So the Democrats I talked to there -- Richard Martin is a campaign manager there for Claire McCaskill -- cautiously optimistic. He's not ready to call it for his candidate yet either, but they're pretty optimistic.

CARVILLE: Yes. I want to be clear with our viewers.

As we're talking to these guys and they're very graciously giving us the information they have, we're not -- they're not saying they're going to win. But I have the sense in talking to the McCaskill people that they like their position. They'd rather be them than be Talent right now.

That's the sense. And maybe the Talent people feel the same way. It's probably that close.

We're going to be working hard. We're going to be working the phones and try to get us as inside as we probably can.

COOPER: But in terms of Virginia, no matter what happens in the next couple of hours, tomorrow this is still going to be going on.

CARVILLE: Provisional ballots tomorrow, is my understanding. And then there will be a recount.

We are going to -- we are going to see lawyers all over this -- you know, I'm sure all over Virginia. There's going to be a recount, there's going to be provisional ballots.

It's awfully close. The same thing could very well happen in Missouri. The United States Senate hangs in the balance here.

COOPER: Allen is beginning to speak. We've just got to go to that and talk to J.C. in a moment.

Let's listen in.

SEN. GEORGE ALLEN (R), VIRGINIA: In every single election night, I always first give thanks to God. I thank God for many things, but the greatest blessing in my life is my wonderful wife Susan, who is just absolutely wonderful. (APPLAUSE)

And the reason -- the reason so many of you all like me.

I also thank God for my family, from little Brooke (ph) to Tyler (ph) and Forest (ph), who's growing. My brother Bruce is here.

My in-law -- Susan's parents, thank you for Susan. A great job.

Christine (ph) and my brother Greg (ph) and Trevor (ph) and the Jasons (ph). All the Jasons (ph) family. I don't know how many others we all have up here -- Steven (ph) and Deborah (ph).

And it's also good to see our attorney general here, the lieutenant governor here, and their brides.

Benny Lambert, thank you. Thank you for being here with me.

(APPLAUSE)

It shows a lot of character, Benny. And I appreciate it.

I thank God that we live in a country where the rights of people are enshrined and protected in our Constitution. We are a representative democracy. This has been an interesting election. And the election continues.

As Senator Warner said, "Good morning, patriots." And the -- all of us have worked very hard, and all of you who are still here tonight have worked so hard, with a tremendous amount of dedication, efforts, devotion and prayers to this campaign.

I also thank the great efforts of my campaign staff who are around here somewhere -- I see some of you all here -- and all of the other volunteers who have come in and worked in this campaign.

You've heard me say as John Warner and I and others were barnstorming around the commonwealth, the world is controlled by those who show up. And we were talking about how important it was to get every vote in.

Wherever our attorney general is, if he's -- where is he? He's in the back. He went through one of these last year.

So, the point of the matter is, John's gone through a similar situation. In fact, the first time I ever won an election, I won by -- on election night it was 18 votes. We had to have a recount.

So the point of the matter is, we're still counting votes. It seems like every time there's a new e-mail, you know, there's some more votes coming in. There's absentee precincts, there are some counties that say that, well, they'll get to counting the ballots later on today. In other words, they've gone home and they'll come back to work tomorrow and count those precincts.

So the point of the matter is, I've been through it. I think that the counting -- I know the counting will continue through the night. It will continue tomorrow.

And I want to thank you all, because I know you're going to be like a bunch of eagles and hawks watching how every one of these votes are accurately counted. And I thank you for your participation.

And I'm proud. And I appreciate from the bottom of my heart -- and I know I'm speaking for Susan, as well, and everyone on our campaign team -- thank you all. Thank you for your dedication, for your encouragement, and also your prayers.

My friends, stay strong for freedom and representative democracy. Accuracy in elections will prevail.

(APPLAUSE)

Thank you and have a good night! We'll see you tomorrow counting the votes.

DOBBS: Senator George Allen, making it clear to his supporters that -- well, he didn't use the word "patience" would be necessary -- making it clear that he is anticipating a protracted process.

And as you look at the vote board, Senator Allen ahead of James Webb -- or rather James Webb ahead of Senator Allen right now by just about 2,300 votes. And it just doesn't get much closer than that.

Setting the stage, talking about how he won in a recount his first election, an election he won by 18 votes. And it looks like, while he is very sanguine about the prospect of a long process and recount, I don't think he's gone through one where the absolute power, the balance of power in the United States Senate hangs in the balance.

Wolf, over to you.

BLITZER: All right, Lou.

The number had been four, the number of undecided Senate seats. It is now down to three.

Right now, CNN is projecting that Bob Corker will be the next United States senator from the state of Tennessee. Bob Corker, we project, will beat Harold Ford Jr. in this fiercely fought, very competitive contest. Bob Corker will succeed Bill Frist as the next United States senator from Tennessee when all the votes are counted.

That is our projection. That means there are now three -- three undecided seats remaining.

And this balance of power, Jeff Greenfield, in the United States Senate still remains up in the air. But this was a must win for the Republicans in Tennessee, and according to our projection, they have captured it.

GREENFIELD: Right. Harold Ford Jr. bidding to be the first African-American from a confederate state since reconstruction. There's some debate about whether Maryland is the south. But just failing short.

We have three seats left. We have Missouri, where you just heard James Carville and Paul Begala talk about the relative optimism on the part of the Democrats.

We have Virginia. We'll be talking about that for several days. That race is -- you know, 2,100 votes.

And out in Montana, where as of now not enough of the votes in certainly to project, we do have Conrad Burns, the incumbent Republican senator, considered one of the more vulnerable senator all season long, trailing Jon Tester, the state Senate president.

So, could we have a 50-50 Senate? Could we have the Senate decided by, oh, I don't know, a month or so of recounts and lawsuits? You bet we can. It depends on what happens in these three states. Once again, Virginia, Missouri, Montana.

BLITZER: And those are the three states that will determine the majority.

And I want to go to Missouri right now. If we take a look at this, with 74 percent of the vote in the precincts reporting now in Missouri, Claire McCaskill is at 48 percent. Jim Talent is at 48 percent.

She is ahead by a little more than a thousand votes right now in -- in the state of Missouri. That is an incredibly close contest -- 74 percent of the precincts reporting in Missouri.

Claire McCaskill and Jim Talent very much neck and neck right now. It doesn't get a lot more closer -- it doesn't get a lot more tight than that, Lou.

As we look at this, three Senate seats still undetermined. If the Democrats pick those seats up, they'll be the majority. But it's going to be a tough struggle to get all three. And Virginia we may not know for a while.

DOBBS: Wolf, I think we all knew that this was going to be an incredible story tonight. This is absolutely incredible. This tight races, the balance of power in the Senate hanging here.

Let's go to however, one race that was decided. To Ford headquarters, Harold Ford Jr.'s headquarters and our Joe Johns.

Joe, to you.

JOE JOHNS, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What we are hearing now is that Harold Ford is on his way over here to the hall. People have been waiting to see him all night long.

I can tell you, these were two very fine candidates in Tennessee who went head to head. And from what I can tell moving around the state, the people of Tennessee really agonized over this race. When you look at Harold Ford, he ran a very good race from start to finish, right down to the wire here, trying to get people first out to the polls, then to be in line when the polls closed. Then to say in line long enough to vote.

So, he did not give this fight up all the way down to the wire. A lot of people saying, well, Mr. Corker may have won this race, and he ran a good race, too, but this also turned Harold Ford into a political rock star.

Lou, back to you.

DOBBS: Joe, thank you very much.

Joe Johns, from Harold Ford Jr. headquarters.

We're going to go now to Larry King, who has two very special guests with two very different perspectives on this night.

KING: Thank you, Lou. We sure do.

In Richmond, Virginia, is Ed Gillespie, the former chairman of the Republican National Committee. And in Washington, Terry McAuliffe, the former chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

Ed, this story in Virginia tonight, how long -- do you think we can go into a month of recounting here?

ED GILLESPIE, FMR. RNC CHAIRMAN: Well, you know, I don't know, Larry. First of all, there's not been a decision for any recount at this point. They're still counting ballots.

There are outstanding about 20 precincts. Some of those absentee that remain out. And, you know, about I think a 1,600-vote margin, somewhere in there right now. Not -- you know, not very much at all.

And it could flip again before it's all over. But, you know, Virginia, the commonwealth has a law that says that if you're inside half a percentage point in the margin, then the commonwealth would pay for a recount, which ordinarily means somebody calls for one.

KING: Are you surprised that Webb has done as well as he has?

GILLESPIE: I'm not surprised. You know, Virginia demographically is changing.

The fact is, we always knew this was going to be a close race. I was confident going in today that Senator Allen was going to win. I still believe he is going to win this race when everything is counted. And -- but we always knew, as we have talked about off and on over the past month or so, that, you know, the Senate was going to come down to probably Missouri and Virginia and Tennessee, and that seems to be where we're ending up.

KING: Of course, when it's this close, no one knows what's going to happen. Terry McAuliffe, you don't know on Virginia.

What do you make of the whole evening, Terry?

TERRY MCAULIFFE, FMR. DNC CHAIRMAN: Well, it's been quite a night. After the votes have now been counted, as you know, Larry, we now control the United States House of Representatives, we now control a majority of the governorships in America.

We picked up anywhere from six to eight new Democratic governors in states like Arkansas and Colorado, New York, Ohio. Very important races for us in 2008 -- in Maryland, Nevada. And now we have the Senate hanging in the balance.

I feel very good about our chances where we are. We need to pick up a couple more, obviously. I think Montana is going to be in our category.

And you see now that Claire McCaskill has moved up in Missouri. We still have St. Louis County, St. Louis City, as well as all of the African-American precincts in Kansas City yet to be counted. So I feel great about that.

And we are up with Jim Webb in Virginia.

So it's been a great night for the Democrats. We have got a lot more votes to count, but I'm very excited and I want to compliment all the great candidates that we had out there.

KING: Ed, if we had to pick one word to describe what happened to the Republicans, would it be Iraq?

GILLESPIE: Would it be what?

KING: Iraq?

GILLESPIE: Oh, Iraq? You know, I think Iraq was obviously a factor in voters' consideration today.

It wasn't the only consideration. But look, we are a country at war, and people are frustrated with -- with the direction of the war. And, you know, we need to have this debate, and we did. And now we're going to continue it, obviously with a divided government and the Democrats in control of the House.

You know, that's going to -- that's going to continue this debate between the Republicans and the Democrats over what is the best course for us to be victorious in Iraq and to bring our troops home? We all want to bring our troops home, Larry. The question is when and how, and that question will be put to the test obviously in the new U.S. House and the next Congress.

KING: Thank you, Ed Gillespie, the former chairman of the Republican National Committee, and Terry McAuliffe, the former chairman of the Democratic National Committee. We're down to three biggies right now, and that's Virginia -- and that won't be decided maybe for days -- and, of course, Montana. And, of course, the key state of Missouri.

Our election coverage will continue right after these words.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back.

In the beginning of the night we thought it would be a long night, and it is turning out to be a long night. It could, in fact, be a few days before we know who's in charge -- who's in control of the United States Senate.

What we do know right now is the Democrats will be the majority in the House of Representatives. They have captured enough seats to make sure that Nancy Pelosi will be the -- would be the speaker of the House. The Democrats will be the chairmen of the various committees. Very important moment for the Democrats since losing the House back in 1994.

The Senate, though, still up in the air, and it's come down to these three states: Virginia, Missouri and Montana. For the Democrats who have already captured three of those Republican-held seats to be the majority in the United States Senate, they have to capture all three of these, and they will be in the majority. Not an easy task by any means.

In Virginia right now, George Allen slightly, ever so slightly behind Jim Webb, with 99 percent of the precincts in. You can take a look at that. Only 2,500 or so votes separate these two candidates right now.

In Missouri, with 71 percent of the precincts reporting, Jim Talent, the incumbent Republican senator, slightly ahead of Claire McCaskill, 50-47 percent. But still plenty of precincts out there.

In Montana, with 37 percent of the precincts reporting, the Democratic challenger, Jon Tester, slightly ahead of Conrad Burns, the long-time incumbent Republican senator.

So it's very, very close. These are the three states that will make the difference.

We're going to stay on top of this story until we find out what's going on.

In the meantime, let's bring it back to Lou -- Lou.

DOBBS: Wolf, thank you very much.

And we are going to turn to the blogosphere. And they have, the bloggers, a lot to write about tonight.

We're going to go to Trist (ph) in Washington, D.C., and to our Jacki Schechner, our Internet reporter -- Jacki.

JACKI SCHECHNER, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Lou, they're still hanging in here. And all eyes are on those last three Senate seats. But the most heated debate of the night actually took place over the House and between two conservatives.

I've got Robert Bluey from humanevents.com. And on the other side of me is Ed Morrissey from captainssquartersblog.com. And they were actually arguing about how many House seats we are talking about at the end of the night.

What is your prediction, Robert?

ROBERT BLUEY, HUMANEVENTS.COM: I say 30 to 35 Republicans lose. And I think the moderates go down. I think this ultimately benefits conservatives because they can elect conservative leadership in the House.

SCHECHNER: And Ed, what is your prediction?

ED MORRISSEY, CAPTAINSQUARTERSBLOG.COM: I say it's going to be between 25 and 27 seats. And I think that this is gong to be a big blow for the Republicans this year. I really do.

SCHECHNER: I'm not saying that the room is getting divided, but Abbi Tatton is all the way across the room with liberal reaction.

Abbi, why don't you give us that perspective of Democratic control of the House?

ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Well, there was a collective cheer that went up amongst the liberal bloggers in the room when CNN projected that the Democrats would take control of the House.

I'm here with liberal blogger John Aravosis of AMERICAblog.

John, what effect, if any, did the liberal blogosphere have on these results coming in tonight?

JOHN ARAVOSIS, AMERICABLOG: I think the blogs had a significant effect in terms of raising money for the candidates, but also in terms of being an echo chamber. I think in a number of stories, like the Mark Foley page sex scandal, this recent scandal with preacher Haggard, the evangelical who bought drugs and met with a prostitute or something, the blogs played a significant role in terms of actually amplifying those stories, which has an affect on our base, but also on the Republican base.

I think it's hard to quantify to say the blogs are responsible for 30 percent of the election. You can't really do that. But we do know that the blogs had a significant impact, and I think they are players now.

TATTON: And where are you looking now? We're still having results coming in. Liberal bloggers in the room. What races are you looking to at this point in the night? ARAVOSIS: I think like the rest of the nation, we are all watching Virginia. You know, for personal reasons, I don't love George Allen, but also it's obviously an important race.

Also, out West, some of the smaller races. You know, Scott Kleeb Nebraska, (INAUDIBLE) in Colorado. They're just some of the races that I think matter to the grassroots, that people just felt more of a personal connection with these candidates.

Otherwise, we pretty much know where we are. The Dems have the House. Republicans have the Senate. And, you know, I don't think that's going to change by morning.

TATTON: On those races, John, some of those that you've been fund-raisin for, as well.

So the liberal bloggers in the room still watching some of the races still coming in. Conservative blogs, they're still hanging in here at this late hour.

Anderson, we're going to send it back to you right now.

COOPER: All right, Abbi. Thanks very much.

And we are watching these three key Senate races at this point.

At this late hour, is it going to get resolved tonight, John King?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No. In short, no, because the Virginia race is going to go on. You're going to have a recount tomorrow.

It looks like this Missouri race, we may get to 100 percent tonight or...

(CROSSTALK) .

J. KING: ... this morning. We keep calling it tonight. I guess by breakfast.

COOPER: It is morning.

J. KING: Yes.

We may get -- you know, we're at 71 percent. Maybe we'll get a little higher than that. But then we're going to have the question of, what are the recount rules? What do the campaigns want to say? Will there be one or two precincts that are out, or will you have questions about irregularities?

So, are we going to know which party will control the United States Senate by normal breakfast time in the morning? I don't think we will.

COOPER: Candy, what are you looking for now in this next hour or so?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Closure.

(LAUGHTER)

COOPER: Coffee?

CROWLEY: But I'm afraid we're not going to get -- a little coffee, a little closure.

You know, what's interesting is literally all night we've watched these races flip back and forth. It's interesting to me that they are this close, because what it says is, while, yes, Americans, voters wanted to send a message, it also says that it is more what Republicans have done wrong than what Democrats have done right.

They're going to have to prove themselves and show something. They got to -- they got to show some leg now.

It is all been about, you know, George Bush and what he's done wrong, and the Republicans and what they have done wrong. And these very close races say to me that it's still a very divided country and still a country that's looking for some progress.

COOPER: And still unclear, Marcus, what they can do, the Democrats, if they only have the House.

MARCUS MABRY, "NEWSWEEK": Well, unfortunately, what we know they can do, the only thing we know they can do is subpoena power. All they can do is call in lots of folks and investigate lots of stuff.

One thinks about immediately the contracts in Iraq. One thinks about our going to war in the first place. One thinks about increase the minimum wage.

That kind of thing they can do as well. But for that, the Senate could actually block it if the Republicans keep it in their hands.

The nightmare scenario, I think, I think George Allen sums it up with the best quote of the night probably. "This has been an interesting election," he said, "and the election continues."

We hope it does not become like the 2000 election. But if it -- look, if the Democrats' nightmare scenario, take out Missouri and Montana, it comes down to Virginia and we are right back to the 2000 election.

COOPER: And what did we learn from the exit polling? What jumps out at you, John?

J. KING: The big thing that jumped out at me is that among voters who said terrorism was a big issue in deciding their vote, they were split voting Democrat and Republican. George W. Bush against John Kerry won on that question...

COOPER: Which is a sea change from even two years ago. J. KING: Yes. John Kerry was beaten by 20 points on that question alone. That was the deciding factor in the presidential election.

The fact that people broke even on it in the congressional election tells you that, to me, is the single biggest legacy of Iraq. The president has lost his credibility, or certainly his edge when it comes to terrorism. The Republican Party is now equilibrium on that question.

And I think you'll -- you're beginning to hear it in all these speeches tonight. Both parties I think realize heading into 2008, yes, we're still going to have troops in Iraq, you're still going to have the war on terrorism. But both want to get back to the basics.

The Republicans want to talk about cutting taxes and balancing budgets, smaller government. The Democrats want to talk about domestic issues like healthcare and raising the minimum wage. The security issues will not disappear, but they have dominated our politics since 9/11. I think we're beginning to see that balance shift a little bit.

COOPER: I'm watching some activity back here with James Carville and Paul Begala. I just want to check in with them. They have been working the phones, talking to various sources and various campaigns.

James, what are you -- what are you -- what are you seeing in the numbers?

CARVILLE: It's tight. It's tight.

I think that the feeling is, is that Webb will probably go through the night slightly ahead in Virginia. I'm told that there are 31,000 early vote and absentee ballots, mostly in Fairfax County, that have not been counted. They may count them tonight. I can't tell you with 100 percent accuracy, but this is what I've been told.

COOPER: In Fairfax County. Why is that significant?

CARVILLE: Both of them -- that would be a Democratic county.

COOPER: Right.

CARVILLE: But if I tell you that somebody was spiking the ball on the Democratic side, that's not the case.

And in Missouri, it's just awfully close. And I get conflicting reports. I feel -- I'd rather be the Democrat than the Republican in Missouri, but by a little bit, I think is what I'd say.

COOPER: What are you hearing, Paul?

BEGALA: Well, you know the old Warren Zevon song, "Send Lawyers, Guns and Money"? That's what they're doing.

The Webb campaign -- a friend of mine at of America's elite law schools sent me an e-mail that one of her colleagues had sent her saying, "Hey, can you get to Virginia? Can you start helping looking at these boxes as they're being counted?"

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