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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

2006 Election Coverage

Aired November 8, 2006 - 01:00   ET

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


JAMES CARVILLE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: And in Missouri, it's just awfully close. And I get conflicting reports that feel -- I'd rather be the Democrat than the Republican in Missouri, but by a little bit, I think, is what I think.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: What do you think, Paul?

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, you know, the old Warren Zevon song, "Lawyers, Guns & Money?" That's what they're doing. The Webb campaign, a friend of mine at one 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 look at these boxes as they're being counted?

I mean they're putting out an APB for attorneys to go down there and help them out.

COOPER: That's happening right now?

BEGALA: That's happening tonight. So I suspect several either law professors or law students are going to start skipping school coming up this week.

COOPER: What about in Missouri?

BEGALA: In Missouri, the Democrats still, they feel a lot more optimistic there. Both campaigns understand, having learned from the Al Gore debacle and the recount -- what my party thought was a debacle -- is that there's huge advantage to be the leading when the recount begins. There's huge psychological, political and media. We all start to say well, McCaskill won, will they take it away from her in a recount? Or Webb won, will they take it away from him?

Conversely, if the Republican is leading when they do the first count, it hurts a lot. And that's what they're really pushing for now.

COOPER: It's never a good sign, J.C. when the lawyers get involved.

J.C. WATTS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it's not. The American people should decide, not the lawyers. But...

BEGALA: Those people are Americans. Wait a minute. I'm a lawyer.

WATTS: But, you know, James made an interesting point. If there's 31,000 ballots out in Fairfax County, I suspect that the Allen folks cannot be very happy about that.

CARVILLE: Yes.

WATTS: That is a strong -- that is a strong Democratic area.

BEGALA: Sixty percent Democratic, yes.

CARVILLE: I want to say, I'm not, I can't report that in absolute certainty.

COOPER: Right.

CARVILLE: But that's one of the things that I was told from a very good source. But understand that the Allen people were saying some -- in Loudon County they claim they have some votes. I think that we're just going to have to do hard reporting and facts are going to come into this. And when something is this close, it's going to go on and on and on.

But I do feel like that the Webb people feel that they will go to bed tonight ahead. And...

BEGALA: Which is huge.

CARVILLE: Which is huge. But there's no way that any of us can sit here -- we working the phones as hard as we can -- and, you know, understand what's at stake and understand that a lot of our listeners on both sides are dying to know. But we, right now, can't tell you fact what's going to happen in Missouri or Virginia. We know it's awfully close.

I do know that the Democrats do feel good about Montana. But that has to come in, too.

Understand the math here, Anderson, because it's very important. For the Democrats to take the House back, they have to win...

BEGALA: The Senate.

CARVILLE: ... the Senate back. Yes, good. They have to win Montana, Missouri and Virginia. The loss of any one would mean 50-50 and then the vice president would break the tie. So it's very important that our viewers understand that.

WATTS: Well, let's just make a deal. We'll give you Montana, you give us Virginia.

WOLF BLITZER, HOST, THE SITUATION ROOM:. Virginia.

BEGALA: Look for a compromise.

WATTS: We'll just, we'll go home.

COOPER: It doesn't work like that.

Let's go to Lou, who's watching some of these races. He's going to talk to a lot of our correspondents who we've deployed there, lawyers deployed around the country. We've got correspondents deployed around the country, as well -- Lou.

LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: It sounds pretty exciting doesn't it, Anderson, more lawyers being deployed all across the country, particularly in these three states?

We are going to turn to our Ed Henry and Chris Lawrence and Jonathan Freed, who happened to just be in all of three of the contested states. And as of right now, they're also in the campaign headquarters of the three candidates who are trailing. That's changing minute to minute.

So we're going to turn now to you first, Ed Henry, at Senator George Allen's headquarters -- Ed.

ED HENRY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning, Lou Dobbs.

That actually was a greeting that George Allen used a short while ago when he finally addressed the troops here, who had been waiting all night. He said good morning. They were not expecting that, obviously. They were hoping for a victory much earlier in the evening. That never came.

George Allen was up in a suite here at the Marriott in Richmond, Virginia all night. We're told by people who were going in and out of that suite that it was very tense in there. Let's not forget, this was supposed to be a familiarity for George Allen. He was supposed to have an easy reelection victory just a few moments ago, on his way to a White House run-in 2008.

Instead, right now, the latest count has Democrat Jim Webb up by less than 2,000 votes. There are about 18 precincts all across the Commonwealth of Virginia still left uncounted. That, obviously, has to be counted in the morning, later this morning. And then, dare I use the "R" word, recount? Obviously, both sides already throwing that around.

But what has to happen first -- this is going to take a lot of time, Lou. The bottom line is, we're told that there will be canvassing before there is a recount. There will be canvassing that could go on through the end of November, around November 27th.

Then, if the total is less than 1 percent of a difference between the two candidates, which it is clearly right now, then the loser can ask for a recount. Then that could go on for some time.

So obviously the control of the U.S. Senate could be hanging in the balance and we may not have an answer for days, maybe weeks -- Lou.

DOBBS: Our Jeffrey Toobin has been going through the, literally, the laws involved, trying to work through the schedule for that very thing.

Ed -- thank you very much, Ed Henry.

Let's turn to Senator Conrad Burns' headquarters in Billings, Montana, where our Chris Lawrence is watching a candidate who, as I said, it trailing at this hour -- what's the feeling there, Chris?

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou, people here came in very excited. Conrad Burns, Senator Conrad Burns is here.

They were a little bit deflated when they saw some of the early numbers putting John Tester ahead by about eight points. But a representative from Conrad Burns' campaign has been going around the room telling people that some of those early returns are from precincts that tend to traditionally skew Democratic, saying that some of Burns' precincts have yet to come in and they feel hopeful that at least at some point tonight those numbers may start to turn around -- Lou.

DOBBS: Chris, thank you very much.

Let's turn to Jonathan Freed with the McCaskill campaign in St. Louis.

And just as I was saying that these numbers are changing back and forth, Claire McCaskill has moved ahead with this hardly complete vote, but now up about one point on Senator Jim Talent.

What's the feeling there now?

I saw a little cheering behind you.

JONATHAN FREED, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There's a tremendous amount of cheering behind me, Lou.

We're looking at 80 percent of the vote in, a lead right now for McCaskill by about 14,000 votes. This has been a tight race for months and it has been a nail biter here this evening. People saying that the reports have come in, the votes had come in from those rural, usually solid Republican constituencies.

They're still waiting for the vote to come in here in the St. Louis area. These major cities in Missouri usually go Democratic. Still waiting for St. Louis. A lot of excitement in this room building, as you can see. People here feeling that they can pull this off.

But it's going to be a nail biter a little while longer because this is close -- Lou.

DOBBS: Indeed it is.

And, as we look at those three races, it's clear, I think -- not to put too fine a point on it -- Jim Carville saying it -- James Carville saying it, our Jeff Greenfield saying it, it's going to -- it's pretty fundamental math. In order to take control of the Senate, Wolf Blitzer, the Democrats have to do a little better than even on this. They've got to win three. BLITZER: They've got to win all three of these still undecided seats.

Now, you take a look -- there's Jim Webb in Virginia. He's about to speak to his supporters. He's slightly, ever so slightly ahead in Virginia. You can see the tally right there.

Let's listen in briefly to Jim Webb.

JIM WEBB (D-VA), U.S. SENATE CANDIDATE: It's getting pretty late. I want to say that I appreciated what Senator Allen said not too long ago when he came on the news and said we all need to respect the process in this country, the democratic process. We all go out, we vote, we argue, we vote.

But, also, I would like to say that the votes are in and we won.

BLITZER: All right, we're going to continue to monitor Jim Webb. He's speaking to his supporters. Clearly, that race in Virginia remains very, very close, 99 percent of the precincts reporting right now. Webb slightly, slightly ahead of George Allen. We'll continue to watch that.

We'll continue to watch the other two races that will determine who is the majority in the United States Senate. The Democrats have already captured the majority in the House of Representatives.

Much more of our special coverage.

Larry King standing by with some excellent guests.

That's coming up, right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LARRY KING, HOST, LARRY KING LIVE: Welcome back to our special election night, now election morning, coverage.

I'm Larry King in Los Angeles.

In a minute, we'll talk with David Gergen of "U.S. News & World Report"; Amy Holmes, the Republican strategist; and Arianna Huffington, the founder and editor of huffingtonpost.com, a syndicated columnist.

But first, let's go up to San Francisco-and check in with Senator Dianne Feinstein.

She was reelected tonight. No surprise there.

What's your view of the total picture?

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: Well, my view of the total picture is that it is a signal for the American -- from the American people for a change in direction for this nation. And I very much hope that the White House is listening, because you now have a Democratic House and you have a Senate that's going to gain Democratic seats. So it is a consequently evening, especially -- oh, and there's another thing, too. We have the first woman speaker of the House of Representatives in our lives. And she happens to be from San Francisco. And I think that's pretty special.

L. KING: Do you expect some material change?

FEINSTEIN: Well, that's hard to tell, Larry, whether there will be a material change. But I think the president has to listen. And that's been a significant deficit of this White House. They don't listen. They seem to know it all. And my hope is that a signal has been sent for a change of direction in Iraq, in foreign policy, in domestic policy.

This wouldn't have happened unless there was significant displeasure with what is happening in the White House.

L. KING: Senator, thank you so much.

We'll be seeing you down in L.A. and again in Washington.

FEINSTEIN: I look forward to it.

L. KING: Senator Dianne Feinstein reelected again tonight.

FEINSTEIN: Thank you.

L. KING: Now, let's check in with Arianna Huffington, David Gergen and Amy Holmes.

Let's see what Arianna.

What's your outlook or what's your overview of what happened?

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON, HUFFINGTONREPORT.COM, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, Larry, this election is about Iraq. Let's get that absolutely straight. Every race you look at where there was an upset, whether it was Sherrod Brown in Ohio or Sheldon Whitehouse in Rhode Island or any number of House races where the Republican incumbents were lost, it's Iraq, again and again.

I have a list here. Let me just give you three examples. In Arizona, Gabrielle Giffords defeated Randy Graf unequivocally. She said we must leave Iraq. In Kentucky, John Yarmuth beat Anne Northup. Unequivocally he said we are fighting Iraqis now, we are no longer fighting terrorists. In Indiana, in New Hampshire, in Connecticut, wherever you look at, Democrats as well as Republicans need to hear the American people. They spoke very clearly today.

L. KING: David Gergen, I believe that no Democratic incumbent congressman or congresswoman lost tonight.

DAVID GERGEN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE ADVISER TO PRESIDENTS NIXON, FORD, REAGAN AND CLINTON: Absolutely, Larry.

So far that's true. But we've never had that before, I believe. Larry, in my judgment, however these Senate races come out -- and they're very exciting -- the important point tonight is that the long period of conservative dominance of our politics has ended. It ended in this election because of a protest against Iraq, primarily. Arianna is right about that. Also against the culture of scandal and against the sense that too many conservatives in Washington who are more interested in power than in principles and a lot of disappointment among conservatives around the country.

Instead of this being an affirmative vote for Democrats, it was a rejection -- it was a protest vote against Republicans. But it has opened the door for Democrats now to -- to start a new era.

They have to earn that. They're going to have to reach out. I thought Nancy Pelosi and especially Rahm Emanuel tonight -- a new star was born in American politics tonight with Rahm Emanuel, who did such a mastermind of bringing the House over.

Now, we'll have to wait and see what the president does in his news conference tomorrow.

Is he going to be defiant on Iraq, you know, going against what Arianna just said? Or is he going to listen and try to work with them?

I think that's the next chapter. And for everyone, it's a new opening, a new chapter. We'll have to see where it goes.

L. KING: Amy Holmes is the Republican strategist and former speechwriter for outgoing Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist.

What's your read?

AMY HOLMES, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST, FORMER SPEECHWRITER FOR SENATE MAJORITY LEADER BILL FRIST: My read is that, yes, this is a good night for Democrats. Taking over the House was a victory for them.

But I think there's less than meets the eye here, if I can disagree with David Gergen.

This wasn't the end of conservatism. This was, as he said, a protest vote with George Bush.

I think what this election showed tonight is actually that America is a very conservative nation. If you look at the Democratic candidates that Rahm Emanuel and Chuck Schumer put forward. These are socially conservative candidates. If you look at Ford, he campaigned as a pro-life candidate, as did Casey. Sherrod Brown, who looks like he beat DeWine in Ohio, he actually voted for the NSA surveillance, for border security.

L. KING: So why did they win?

HOLMES: I think they won, as Arianna said earlier, because this was a protest vote, an anti-Iraq vote. This was not a vote, necessarily, for a Democratic liberal agenda. HUFFINGTON: But this was not a vote for conservative values. This was not a "values" election, except it was a vote against an immoral, unnecessary war. And the reason I keep stressing that is because it's very important for the Democrats to hear that. And I'm a little concerned about certain things said tonight by Howard Dean, for example, and even Barack Obama.

Howard Dean, being interviewed earlier by Lou Dobbs, said that we are not going to "cut and run" in Iraq, using the president's phrase. He said we do not have a lot of power to influence the president's policies in Iraq.

Well, the American people elected Democrats to take over the House in order to have influence, and they do have influence if they are willing to do this.

L. KING: And what did Obama say you didn't like?

HUFFINGTON: And Obama, when he was talking about the change in direction and you asked him what are you going to do about Iraq, he said we are going to sit down with the commander-in-chief and with the other commanders and with Jim Baker and we are going to come up with another strategy to stabilize the country. I'm paraphrasing.

But the point is that we've been trying to stabilize the country for years and it hasn't been working.

HUFFINGTON: Yes, Howard Dean's remark last week actually was really fascinating and it certainly...

L. KING: Hold it, David.

You're next.

HUFFINGTON: ... it's really caught my ear. He, you know, Lou Dobbs asked about it and he said well, you know, voting for Democrats in the House, while it's a vote against the war and a vote against Iraq, he said, in fact, George Bush will still be in charge of foreign policy.

It was a really remarkable comment.

L. KING: David, what does the president say tomorrow?

GERGEN: It's going to be fascinating, Larry, because he had been so defiant so far. He said I'm going to keep Don Rumsfeld regardless. And Dick Cheney says full speed ahead on Iraqi policy.

It seems to me the country has spoken tonight in saying, you know, we don't like the course you're on. I'm not sure they want to cut and run, but they want a new course. I think they're looking for some sensible way to get out of Iraq without doing too much damage in the process.

And if the president rejects that, I think there's going to be -- I think there's going to -- all hell is going to break loose, because the country is going to feel wait a minute, we're about a democracy. Aren't you supposed to listen to us?

So I think the president is going to be under enormous pressure now to work with Democrats, to work with the Baker Commission. And, in my judgment, I don't think he will fire Don Rumsfeld, but I bet there will be people -- I think Don Rumsfeld himself will now think about falling on his sword and submitting his resignation voluntarily in the next couple of weeks.

HUFFINGTON: One very significant thing that happened tonight is that the Republicans are no longer the party of national security. Remember, they won in '02 and they won in '04 as the party of national security, the party that was going to keep us safe.

That's no longer the case. The president lost that advantage. And now it's up to Democrats to establish themselves as the party of national security, the party that's going to keep us safe.

L. KING: But why -- why did he lose that, since there's been no attack on the United States since 9/11?

HOLMES: Well...

HUFFINGTON: Because we know perfectly well that what's happening in Iraq has made the country less safe. It has been a recruitment bonanza for terrorists. And that, after all, the goodwill toward America has been squandered.

L. KING: Don't you think, Amy, he might be conciliatory tomorrow?

HOLMES: I think he will be conciliatory. I think he's going to be looking about moving forward after tonight's results and, you know, still -- Virginia and Missouri are still out, so we don't know about the Senate. But, of course, tomorrow, I think that the president's going to be talking about moving forward, reaching out to the other side of the aisle, as he has done repeatedly throughout the course of the Iraq war.

L. KING: David?

GERGEN: Yes, but Larry, here's the problem. I think, yes, I think rhetorically he'll be softer tomorrow. But the real question is does he intend to stay on course to victory? There are many Democrats who think this is no longer winnable and they're not, they don't, they're not interested in escalation.

If the president won tonight, had they kept the House, I think he was going to look at sending a lot more troops into Baghdad.

Will he still want to do that?

I think he probably has to give that up.

But will he still be looking for victory?

I think he'll still be looking for a victory. And a lot of Democrats don't want to admit it and say this publicly, but they don't think it's winnable and they're looking for some way to disengage that does a minimal amount of damage to American national security and also leaves people in Iraq in as good of a position as we can.

L. KING: Amy?

HOLMES: Well, George -- President Bush is not going to accept the idea that the war in Iraq is not winnable. And we also have to remember, you know, the historical memory we have about our involvement in Iraq. After the first Gulf War, if you remember, President Bush -- the first, senior -- he encouraged the Iraqis to rise up and overthrow Saddam. They did and they were demolished.

George Bush is not going to make that mistake of having asked the Iraqis in partnership to build a new free, stable democratic Iraq...

GERGEN: What...

HOLMES: ... and then abandon that...

GERGEN: What is the course to victory?

HOLMES: ... (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

GERGEN: What is the course to victory? Is it to put a lot more troops in?

I personally think we should have put a lot more troops in a long time ago.

HUFFINGTON: But this option...

GERGEN: But do you think we can still do this after this election?

L. KING: What do you...

HUFFINGTON: But this option -- but this...

L. KING: What is winning, Arianna? What is...

HUFFINGTON: There is no winning. That is really what we need to admit.

L. KING: It's an unwinnable war?

HUFFINGTON: Of course it is.

L. KING: It has already been lost. And that's why Democrats have a decision to make.

Are they going to accept the Jack Murtha position?

They have a leader within their ranks, Congressman John Murtha, who is actually going to be running for majority leader. That's one of the things to look forward to, to see what's going to happen, against Congressman Sten Hoyer.

What happens there will determine what Democrats are willing to do.

L. KING: For a long time, I hosted the first national radio talk show on a network, the Mutual Radio Network. And I did that for a lot of years all night long. And Jim Bohannon replaced me. He's been doing it great for a long time.

And we're going to check in to hear what Jim Bohannon is talking about right now.

Let's see what we hear...

JIM BOHANNON, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: All right.

L. KING: There he is.

BOHANNON: Here I am, Larry.

Do you notice anything familiar?

I knew you'd like the look.

L. KING: You're wearing suspenders in my honor.

BOHANNON: Of course...

L. KING: Do you still call yourself...

BOHANNON: ... in your honor.

L. KING: Do you still call yourselves the militant moderate?

BOHANNON: The militant moderate. Yes, yes, sir, I do. Absolutely.

L. KING: What are your listeners saying tonight?

BOHANNON: Well, we've got a lot of conservatives who are very concerned about what they think is going to be a wild-eyed, flaming liberal House led by that screaming socialist, Nancy Pelosi. And we've had a lot of our guests, commentators, suggest that Nancy Pelosi may well moderate and not be quite as liberal a speaker as she was as a member of the House.

L. KING: Are you surprised at tonight?

BOHANNON: Not really, no. I guess this is pretty much part of the conventional wisdom, Larry, that it looked like the House was going to go this way.

I guess I'm somewhat surprised at some of the tight races and the extent to which we're going to have to wait to find out who controls the Senate in Missouri and Virginia, very probably days from being resolved. But I think not. In the House, I think the handwriting has been on the wall for a month or two.

L. KING: Are you on a commercial break now?

BOHANNON: No, actually, we're on our air here at the moment. So you're (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

L. KING: Well, say hello to all my old listeners, Jim.

Great seeing you.

BOHANNON: It is good to see you, too, Larry.

And thanks for a chance to be on tonight.

L. KING: Jim Bohannon...

BOHANNON: Larry King right there.

L. KING: ... from in his studios in Washington, D.C. doing his all night radio talk show.

When we come back, Senator Barbara Boxer of California.

Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: It's approaching 1:30 a.m. on this, the day after the election in the United States. And we're watching three Senate races very closely because these three Senate races hold the key to whether the Democrats or the Republicans will be the majority in the Senate. The Democrats will be the majority in the House.

First, let's go to Missouri right now. With 81 percent of the precincts reporting, Claire McCaskill, the Democrat, slightly ahead of Jim Talent. This is close, but McCaskill is ahead.

JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: One of the factors here is that Talent is not running as well in some of the socially conservative areas, like down on the southwest, around Springfield, as George W. Bush did two years ago. He's winning, but by not nearly as much.

BLITZER: In Virginia, with 99 percent of the precincts reporting, the Democratic challenger, Jim Webb, slightly, ever so slightly ahead. It's not over with yet, though.

GREENFIELD: For those Democrats who remember Ralph Nader in Florida in 2000, there is a Green Party candidate in Virginia, one Gail Parker, I believe, running basically on a one issue campaign -- high speed rail service. She's got about 25,000 votes and depending on what happens, if you assume most of those votes would have gone Democratic, she could wind up throwing this whole -- this entire election season one way or the other. BLITZER: The third and final undecided Senate race in Missouri, right now, with 55 percent of the precincts reporting, John Tester, the Democratic challenger to Conrad Burns, slightly ahead there, as well.

So if you take these three races right now -- and I want to throw it back to Larry King -- right now the Democrats need to win all three of them. They are slightly ahead in all three of them, but still a long way to go -- Larry.

L. KING: Thanks, Wolf.

Let's get the thoughts of a prominent United States senator not up for reelection this year, Senator Barbara Boxer.

We just heard from Senator Feinstein, who was easily reelected tonight.

All right, what do you make of this?

SEN. BARBARA BOXER (D-CF), FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE: I'm at the edge of my seat, Larry. Trust me. I am. And, first, I'm thrilled with Diane's victory. It was huge. My pal in the Senate.

Nancy Pelosi, my friend, I served in the House with her for many years, it's an extraordinary evening for equality in America, really. I just don't think people realize the significance of having a woman speaker third in line to be president. She's a wonderful person. America is going to grow to love her.

L. KING: Does she get a bad rap in this ultra liberal tag?

BOXER: Well, I think the people saying that don't really understand what a speaker does. It's not about Nancy's district, which is quite liberal. It's about Nancy bringing the caucus together. We are a big tent. Many people have commented on that. Many of our candidates are moderate to conservative to liberal.

So the fact is Nancy's job is to pull everybody together, find the common ground, work with the Republicans and get things done. And I predict she'll do that.

L. KING: If you win these three Democratic races -- and we may take until Christmas to find that out.

BOXER: Yes.

L. KING: How dramatically will the country change?

BOXER: Well, I'm a person who believes it will change a great deal because whoever controls the House and the Senate controls the agenda. And the agenda is key. If, you know, with the Republicans there, they were putting things on the agenda that really didn't make that much difference to people -- flag burning instead of getting health care to our people. You know, big divisive debates about abortion instead of trying to bring our troops home and figure out a political solution in Iraq.

So, it makes a great bit of difference.

L. KING: What about if it's just one House and the Senate remains Republican?

BOXER: Yes. Good question, Larry, and I thought you would ask it.

L. KING: That's why I asked it.

BOXER: The House is more important because of the rules of the way the House works versus the Senate. The speaker of the House really has absolute control of what comes before the body. So if the speaker and the caucus feel it's divisive to bring a certain issue forward, they can stop it.

In the Senate, it's much more open. Unless you have 60 seats, it's hard to control everything.

L. KING: Are you surprised that not one -- and David Gergen thinks that's never happened before -- not one Democratic incumbent congressperson lost tonight?

BOXER: I think it's a statement about this wave that has hit the country. And I think Arianna was right when she talked about Iraq as being a central mover. There's other things, too, the culture of corruption, the war on terror -- we don't feel safer. We don't feel as safe as we should be.

So I think that, you know, the Democrats stood up -- and, by the way, fought back. And I want to say something that I haven't heard discussed too much tonight, which is the quality of our candidates. And I can really speak to those in the Senate.

America will come to know our candidates. You know, we lost one seat, Harold Ford, an extraordinary human being. And, by the way, the race that he ran and the fact that he came as close as he did...

L. KING: Although it wasn't (UNINTELLIGIBLE) seat. It was a free seat.

BOXER: Well, that's true. But the fact that he could come so close. He is a great candidate.

And these other candidates, Jim Webb -- strong, you know? Standing up to the attacks. Claire McCaskill, who I think -- I really think she'll win. John Tester. These people are tough, they're strong, they know who they are. Sheldon Whitehouse. I mean America is going to meet a whole new group of leaders. I couldn't be more thrilled. I've campaigned for them. I've gone all over the country. My voice is kind of gone because...

L. KING: It sounds it.

BOXER: ... I've been talking a lot about why we should take back the Senate. So I'm excited.

L. KING: Thanks.

BOXER: Thanks for having me tonight.

L. KING: (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

Senator Barbara Boxer, Democrat of California.

Let's go to Phoenix and talk to Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, former POW, decorated Vietnam veteran.

How disappointed are you tonight, Senator?

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Well, I lost a lot of good friends tonight, at least out of the Senate. We'll remain friends, but Mike DeWine, Rick Santorum and some people that I've been very close to for many years. So, of course, I'm sad. And I believe, however, that this is a wake up call to the Republican Party. We've got to change our practices. We -- some of our people think we came to Washington to change government and government changed us.

And so we're -- but we're going to bounce back, Larry. We're going to get together and go over where we made our mistakes, fix them and move forward.

I still think America is a conservative nation.

L. KING: What will this election say or have an effect on your presidential bid?

MCCAIN: Well, I haven't made that decision yet, but I don't...

L. KING: Let's say if you did, what effect would it have?

MCCAIN: I don't know, Larry. I honestly hadn't thought about it. But I know this, that my first obligation is to sit down with other members of our party and say we've got to fix these spending practices, we've got have the will to prevail in Iraq, we've got to reform immigration. We've got to do some of the things we haven't done.

L. KING: You strongly support the war, yet every one of the pundits here tonight are saying that the reason the Republicans took this hit tonight was that the public doesn't support the war.

Does that give you pause?

MCCAIN: No. But, first, I'd take -- I agree that the war is the overriding issue. But Joe Lieberman would not have been reelected in Connecticut if it was the only issue. I think this issue of the scandals, I think the spending has demotivated a lot of our Republican base. I think that there's a number of other areas.

But, look, I believe that we must have the will in Iraq and we'd like to sit down with the Democrats, but if they don't, then the chaos that would ensue in this region would be very serious.

I understand the frustration that Americans feel. I feel that frustration, as well. And we've made many mistakes. But I also believe that, again, we cannot allow chaos to ensure in the region and we can develop a strategy to prevail.

L. KING: One thing, then, Senator, one other thing. Is the public saying we may support the concept of the war in Iraq, but we don't support the way you're running it?

MCCAIN: That's exactly it, I think. It has a great deal to do with it. They're so frustrated, and they should be frustrated because we had such, you know, the comments that were made like "stuff happens" and "dead-enders" and all that. So -- and many of us said we needed more troops over there for a long time. We now find out that that was the case and the military people were recommending it strongly.

L. KING: Senator, we'll see a lot of you in the months ahead. And thanks very much for joining us, as always.

MCCAIN: Thanks for having me on, Larry.

L. KING: Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona.

Back to New York and Wolf Blitzer -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Larry, thanks very much.

And we want to just update our viewers on another House race that we've been watching that had some national interest, the Texas -- the 22nd District in Texas, Tom DeLay's district right now. And we're projecting that there will be a new Democratic congressman from Sugar Land, Texas. Nick Lampson will be the next United States congressman succeeding Tom DeLay in that district, defeating Shelley Sekula-Gibbs, who was the Republican candidate. Tom DeLay's name had been on the ballot. Shelley Sekula-Gibbs' name was not on the ballot.

But Nick Lampson, when all is said and done, will be the next United States congressman from Texas right there, another major pick up for the Democrats in this contest.

I want to take a closer look right now at Virginia.

Just check this out one more time before we go back to Jeff Greenfield.

George Allen with 49 percent, Jim Webb with 50 percent. The Green Party candidate, less than 1 percent, 25,000 votes -- and, Jeff Greenfield, you've suggested that if that Green Party candidate had not been running, it might have been a bigger -- those votes potentially would have been more likely to go for Webb than for Allen.

GREENFIELD: A pretty safe bet.

But I want to show you about the House. We've been so focused on the Senate.

If we flip on Smart Board and get over to the House, in order to -- it's been a while since we updated the viewers.

Right now, Democrats have 221 seats, Republicans 181. This is a gain so far of 19 seats. There are, by my fifth grade math, 34 seats left to be decided.

So those people who figured on a 25 to 35 seat gain look very good. Those of us who picked 30 look even better -- Wolf.

BLITZER: And the -- you need 218 to be in the majority.

GREENFIELD: That's right.

BLITZER: The Democrats clearly have that.

GREENFIELD: You can see that this dividing line is where the split would be. And you can see right now Democrats have three-and-a- half, three of four more seats than Republicans. But 34 seats left to be decided. We don't know yet how they're going to split. We do know Republicans have survived in a couple of districts where they were supposed to lose. Democrats have taken over. We'll bring everybody up to date, once we figure out what's going on in the Senate.

BLITZER: In the Senate, those three seats remain key.

I want to go back to the Senate for a moment. Those three undecided seats in the United States Senate will determine the balance of power in the next U.S. Senate.

GREENFIELD: It is -- if you were a Hollywood writer and were writing a political drama and it came down to three seats were there were three very narrow margins separating one from the other and where the entire control of the Senate might come down to one state where there's a recount, I think people would say that's -- this stuff doesn't happen.

But as we remember from 2000, sometimes it does.

BLITZER: We'll watch those very, very closely.

Jeff, thanks for that.

We're going to continue our special coverage. Lots more coming up. We're going to stay with this story, see what the results are in those three states -- Montana, Missouri and Virginia.

We'll update you right after this short break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: And it has all come down to this -- Virginia, Montana and Missouri, three Senate races that we are watching very closely.

We just heard, John King, from Senator John McCain. You were remarking on how different John McCain appeared.

JOHN KING, CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, there's a lot of important stuff to figure out about the short-term of American politics, including control of the Senate.

But, wow!, was that a picture. I defy you to go back through the CNN library, any library you can find and find a video of John McCain looking like that.

COOPER: Sitting in front of...

J. KING: An American flag, an Arizona flag. He usually sits in a studio out in Arizona that looks like the desert behind him. That was President John McCain making an appearance to American people. The 2008 campaign -- it had already begun--- but it begins in earnest, of course, once the mid-term election is gone by.

And never before have I seen him like that.

And you heard what he was saying. It was quite interesting -- we need to win in Iraq. He's at odds with the public today on staying in Iraq. But he was saying significant mistakes were made, we should have had more troops.

So you see John McCain creating some distance from the White House while sticking with the White House on the goal, but also talking about getting the Republicans back to the basics, the Ronald Reagan Republicans of fiscal constraints.

That is, John McCain is trying to essentially assert his leadership.

Many are going to say this president's a lame duck. John McCain is trying to say here I am.

COOPER: If you were John McCain tonight, though, what message do you take away from this? I mean is this a good night for John McCain?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, in the sense that, you know, the issues that John brings up and that played out in some of these races is about fiscal conservatism. It's getting back to Ronald Reagan, who they -- everyone believes is, you know, the godfather of the conservative movement. That's where it started.

So, yes, he can take a lot of things from that. He's not going to change on the war. I mean it's just not going to happen. So those -- again, if they can get back to their sort of economic roots and the cutting taxes and that sort of thing, certainly there's a message there and something that John McCain can play into.

I want to add one thing, because we missed this part of it. But when Senator Clinton gave her acceptance speech, she went out arm in arm with her husband to the tune of baby, you ain't seen nothing yet. So, I'd just like to say we've turned the corner and it's '08.

COOPER: It certainly is.

Talking about public relations, not just in presidential politics, but also in these Senate races, you have Jim Webb -- even those these numbers right now are between Webb and Allen, talking about, looking at it right now, with 99 percent of the precincts in, some 2,000 or so voters. Jim Webb saying he is the winner. Obviously, we cannot call that at this point. This is going to go on well into tomorrow, perhaps even points beyond.

But the public relations war has already begun.

MARCUS MABRY, "NEWSWEEK" MAGAZINE: Absolutely. And I think we'll see that actually that people will be parsing that statement that Webb made. And I think he said would, we would like to blah, blah, using this perjunctive (ph) and people will be parsing that for days, saying did he declare victory or was he saying I wish I could declare victory.

But looking at those numbers, looking at the precincts that are outstanding, there are so few votes still to be counted in Virginia, that the "New York Times" are calling the same numbers that we're using and we're saying 99 percent of precincts reporting. There are still a few precincts left, the "New York Times" is actually calling it 100 percent reporting. They're not calling the race, but they're calling that 100 percent.

We're talking about a margin of error -- we're talking about a rounding error at this point. I don't see how you avoid the recount, but it's clear that both sides will want to say that they're the ones in front right now.

And the amazing thing is, I swear, you look -- you go and look at the stats, you look at those precincts and counties that are outstanding, and in every single one, Webb has won. The precincts are actually there from those counties already.

So it looks like it was really hard to imagine the Democrats would take the Senate. They still may not take the Senate. That was such a long shot.

But looking at the way things are stepping up, it could happen, which is extraordinary.

COOPER: Let's bring in CNN's Dana Bash, who is at Democratic Party headquarters.

She joins us now -- what is the scene there right now, Dana?

DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the scene right now here where I'm standing, where there were, you know, hundreds of people, now it's empty. Most people have gone home, except for two senators we believe are still here somewhere in this building, Senator Harry Reid, the minority leader, and Senator Chuck Schumer, the senator, of course, in charge of getting Democrats elected.

They are still watching the returns, trying to figure out if they can come to some, as Candy said before, closure about what will happen in the Senate.

But as we've been talking about, it's not likely to happen tonight.

But we do believe that they are actually still here trying to figure that out.

But on the other side of Capitol Hill, of course, the big story of the evening was Nancy Pelosi, soon to be the first female speaker of the House. She -- what was interesting about her speech here is that she came out and she certainly tried to make the case that she was going to reach across party lines, saying that she wants to end the era of partisanship, move toward partnership. But she was very, very strong, strikingly so, when it came to the war in Iraq.

She said that she really believes that what the American people wanted to say when they sent the message tonight that Democrats should go to Washington is that they want to have something different when it comes to Iraq.

and, as we have been talking about tonight, whether or not the Democrats in control of the House, maybe even the Senate, or at least having more seats in the Senate, can have any real impact on the policy in Iraq. They made it clear tonight they are certainly going to try.

COOPER: Dana Bash reporting from Democratic Party headquarters.

Thanks.

What -- if you are Nancy Pelosi, what do you do tomorrow, the next day?

What happens now?

J. KING: I think you'd be very careful and cautious and stick to the middle.

Here's something she has said about the president repeatedly. When the president says Iraq is a central front of the war on terror, she says no, it's not, that it's a war of choice that Mr. Bush started. She says: "He has a tin ear. He won't accept the facts and he won't tell the truth to the American people."

If that continues, President Bush will reach out tomorrow. She reached out tonight.

But 24, 48 hours down the road, if that continues, saying the president has a tin ear, he won't accept the facts, he won't tell the truth to the American people.

How do you get anything done in that environment?

They can make some progress on domestic issues, but Iraq dominated this campaign and it will dominate the post-election dynamic until they sort this out. CROWLEY: First of all, he's the commander-in-chief. I mean those are the basic facts right there. And...

COOPER: Which is what Howard Dean said, I guess.

CROWLEY: Yes, exactly. I mean, and so their ability to sway him is bully pulpit stuff. They now have a microphone and they can set the agenda, as Nancy Pelosi said.

But they can't change how many troops over there or even the plan, whatever plan George Bush has. They can't do that. They can bring pressure to bear.

Probably the people, however, who can bring the most pressure to bear are Republicans. These are people -- look, George Bush is retiring in two years, so -- but these other Republicans would like to start to look at some way to re-expand their base, as we heard from John McCain. So they're the ones that go to him and say hey, we've got to do something here. We've got to figure this out. So that's where the pressure, the most impressive pressure, will come from, is the Republican side.

COOPER: And the pressure tonight still on Montana and Missouri. Eighty-five percent of the precincts in Missouri, 60 percent of the precincts in Montana reporting.

We continue to follow these three fascinating Senate races.

Our coverage continues in a moment.

Stay tuned.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Democrats have the majority in the House of Representatives based on all the results we have so far and all of our projections. Still unclear what happens in the United States Senate. Three states still up in the air right now -- Virginia, Missouri and Montana. But in all three of those states, as of this moment, the Democratic candidates are ahead, slightly ahead, not very much, but in all three, the Democratic candidates are ahead and they're going to need all three of those states if the Democrats are going to be the majority in the United States Senate.

We're going to stay on top of this story -- Larry, this has been an exciting night, as we projected it would be. It doesn't get much more exciting than this.

L. KING: What a night. It's been exciting all day and all night, and it may be exciting until Christmas, depending on Virginia.

We're going to spend a couple of more moments with Amy Holmes, the Republican strategist and former speechwriter for Bill Frist and Arianna Huffington, the founder and editor of huffingtonpost.com, whose latest book, by the way, is on becoming fearless in love, work and life. And our special guest on "LARRY KING LIVE" tomorrow night, to get a real reading on all of this, will be Bill Maher.

What's the effect, Arianna, on the 2008 presidential race?

HUFFINGTON: Actually, quite significant because the losers tonight are those candidates who have basically not made the war in Iraq their central issue, like Hillary Clinton. Even though she won very comfortably and she is a superstar in the Democratic Party, she has been triangulating and calculating about Iraq consistently. And this is not a good night for her.

On the Republican side, you saw -- you heard John McCain. It's just really sad what happened to the straight talk express. You know, the man who spoke the truth is now afraid...

L. KING: Are you saying he doesn't believe what he's saying?

HUFFINGTON: He -- well, he -- everything he's saying now, whether it is about creationism versus evolution or about Iraq or anything is calculated to win the nomination, the Republican nomination.

So basically right now the battle that has begun-is the battle for who is going to control the narrative about '06, what is it about?

L. KING: Is McCain the obvious favorite, Amy?

HOLMES: There are a lot of favorites. 2000...

L. KING: For the Republican nomination?

HOLMES: For the Republican nomination you have Mitt Romney. You have possibly Giuliani. 2008 is going to be wide open. George Bush is not going to be on that ticket, nor is Vice President Cheney.

L. KING: OK. We're going to go to Missouri now. We're going to break in here. We understand Claire McCaskill is about to speak.

She's slightly ahead.

Let's watch.

CLAIRE MCCASKILL (D-MO), SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: I know...

(APPLAUSE)

MCCASKILL: OK.

(APPLAUSE)

MCCASKILL: Thank you all very much.

Thank you so much for staying up late with us.

The great state of Missouri has spoken. (APPLAUSE)

MCCASKILL: Tonight we have heard the voices of Missourians and they have said we want change.

(APPLAUSE)

MCCASKILL: they have said we want accountability.

(APPLAUSE)

MCCASKILL: They have said we want an independent voice...

(APPLAUSE)

MCCASKILL: ... willing to stand up to anyone or anything to fight for Missouri's families.

(APPLAUSE)

MCCASKILL: They have said they want a different set of priorities and they have also said they want to restore the luster to the American dream and strengthen wisdom to our foreign policy.

(APPLAUSE)

MCCASKILL: Missourians have rejected the policy -- Missourians have rejected the politics of personal character attacks.

(APPLAUSE)

MCCASKILL: And they have embraced the power of problem solving and new ideas.

L. KING: Although we haven't said that, she's declaring victory in Missouri. If that's true, and then if the Democrat wins in Montana, then everything will hinge on Virginia, and that could take days, maybe even a month.

A couple of more moments with the panel.

All right, Amy, I interrupted you as to where we go from here in '08.

HOLMES: Well, we will go from here in '08, as I said, is that it's wide open and there's no telling what the situation will be in Iraq. I would guess that the Republican and Democratic frontrunners are going to be shaping their own agenda about where they want America to go in the next four years.

But in terms of this election, Democrats kept saying that America wanted change, but they wouldn't say where. And if you look at the Democrats who are successful tonight, many of them were social conservatives. Chuck Schumer, he, you know, swallowed his ideology and put Bob Casey forward.

So I think tonight is -- it's a win for Democrats, but it's not necessarily a win for a liberal agenda.

L. KING: Would you call tonight historic?

HUFFINGTON: It is historic. It's a win for checks and balances. Finally, there is going to be, I hope, some adult (ph) supervision of this White House. And Candy Crowley said that Democrats and the bully pulpit. They have much more than the bully pulpit. They have the power of the purse in Congress and they have the power of investigation and I hope they are going to use both of them.

L. KING: Thank you both very much.

Amy Holmes and Arianna Huffington.

That's it from Los Angeles.

See you tomorrow night on LARRY KING LIVE with Bill Maher as our special guest.

But our coverage, of course, doesn't stop.

Back to New York and Lou Dobbs -- Lou.

DOBBS: Larry, thank you very much.

Jeffrey Toobin is back with us and we are, obviously, with everything that is happening in Virginia, starting with, I think it would be fair to say, absolute certainty at a recount. And there is a lot of law to be understood in governing this recount and carrying it out.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST:. And this is not a short process, as we discussed earlier. Like most things involving (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

DOBBS: Nothing about this election has been a short process.

TOOBIN: Right. But, I mean, we have this absolutely extraordinary situation shaping up that if the Missouri goes the way it's going, to the Democrat; if Montana goes to the Democrat; the entire control of the Senate will come down to this presumed recount in Richmond, Virginia.

DOBBS: What can we expect based on your reading of these statutes?

TOOBIN: OK. This is the time line. Starting tomorrow, the provisional ballots, that is, the ballots that people who were not on the lists, people who thought they should be allowed to vote but for whatever reason were not allowed to vote today, those ballots will start to be counted tomorrow.

All the results will be tabulated over the next two weeks and then on September 27th, the State Board of Elections will meet to certify the winner. It is only at that point that the loser will be asking for a recount. So between now and November 27th, there won't be any recount, because the election won't be final.

On November 27th, if one candidate is behind by less than 1 percent, which is certainly going to be the case, the loser will have a chance to ask for a recount.

DOBBS: Do we have any sense at this point how many provisional ballots are involved in this election?

TOOBIN: No. We've been trying to find that...

DOBBS: Right.

TOOBIN: We just don't know. It's polling place by polling place. There is no central repository of that number as far as we can tell at this point.

DOBBS: Well, and after this decision -- determination is made, then what is the process?

TOOBIN: OK.

DOBBS: Let's get to the granular.

TOOBIN: Within seven days of the 27th -- November 27th, the judge, the chief judge in Richmond, Virginia, the circuit court there, has to set a preliminary hearing. It has to be within seven days. And within seven days of that, the judge has to resolve -- has to issue a ruling.

You'll be pleased to know that under Virginia law, that ruling by -- which becomes a three judge court -- is final and not appealable. So it should end in December.

But the last recount in Virginia, which was only last year in the Virginia attorney general's race, ended on December 22nd, three days before Christmas. So we could be looking at at least that long.

DOBBS: And that is a lot of suspense for the most deliberative body in the world to wait on who will decide what.

TOOBIN: Well, and you can imagine the lawyers that are being mobilized at this point.

DOBBS: Right.

TOOBIN: I mean, as someone...

DOBBS: I would guess at this very moment.

TOOBIN: As someone who spent 36 days in Tallahassee six years ago, I mean, the same cast of characters -- I have already been speaking to them on the phone. They're all revving up...

DOBBS: Oh, no.

TOOBIN: ... and getting ready to go for a little Tallahassee reunion.

DOBBS: Oh, man.

Well, there is -- this is, though, democracy at work. And this -- this has a very good feel about this, because it seems, at least at this point, a heavy turnout. This is obviously a close election.

But this recount process -- I'm trying to find the...

TOOBIN: I mean...

DOBBS: ... to find the best of it.

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