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THE SITUATION ROOM

New Hampshire Countdown; Last Minute Campaigning

Aired January 8, 2008 - 17:00   ET

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


CAFFERTY: Carroll writes: "This is a message to Bill and Hillary Clinton -- when the party is over, it's polite to leave." -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Jack, thanks very much.

See you in a few moments.

Happening now, decision day in New Hampshire. The Democratic frontrunner, Barack Obama, tries to keep his edge despite some edgy comments from Bill Clinton.

It could be a make or break moment for John McCain in a tight Republican race. We're going to give you a first look at some exit polling.

Also, dueling secretaries -- the GOP's Colin Powell has some very nice things to say about Barack Obama.

Is Powell moving toward an endorsement?

And I'll speak with Madeleine Albright. She backs Hillary Clinton, but has some advice for whoever wins next November.

And Kenyans closely watching the election campaign of favorite son, Barack Obama, as they take stock of the death and destruction that's happening in their own country following their own recent vote. We're on the scene in Kenya.

I'm Wolf Blitzer at the CNN Election Center in New York.

You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Any minute now, we'll be getting our next -- our New Hampshire exit poll results, sharing them with you and that'll give us the first snapshot of what the primary voters in New Hampshire are actually thinking. With passions running high over popular candidates, along with spring like weather in New Hampshire, the turnout is much larger than expected. In fact, some polling stations right now have been running low on ballots. The voting ends some three hours from now, epee. That's when our special live coverage begins.

Can Hillary Clinton catch Barack Obama?

Can John McCain hold off Mitt Romney?

The best political team on television is keeping track of all the candidates and the moment those first exit polls are in, we're going to share those numbers with you. It'll give us a little trend of what's going on. Bill Schneider going through them right now.

The candidates are blanketing the state today, making a final push. We're going to hear what the Democrats are saying in a few minutes.

First, though, let's hear from some of the Republicans.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE HUCKABEE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My experience is that Americans all want the same thing. They want government to leave them alone, let them live their lives. They want government to do the job that it's supposed to do and that's protect us, give us the capacity to be free and then beyond that, let us -- let us live our lives.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: People in New Hampshire have been telling me from the beginning that things are broken in Washington. They want a new face, a new vision, somebody who could change Washington. They know that no one on the inside is going to be able to take Washington inside out. And I'm convinced that it's going to be a close one today, but the Republicans are going to vote for me and Independents are going to get behind me and that we're going to end up winning this thing.

RUDY GIULIANI (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: A very, very big part of our appeal is lower taxes, less government, staying on offense in the war on terror. And, of course, that's at the core of our 12 commitments to the American people. So we think we'll do well here and we think that's a message that will resound throughout -- throughout the country -- in Florida, in South Carolina and all the states that are coming up.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Mitt Romney came up short against one of his rivals in Iowa.

Are his New Hampshire neighbors about to hand the former Massachusetts governor another setback or will it be a win?

Let's go out there.

Mary Snow is in New Hampshire watching all of this right now, speaking to a lot of the Romney associates out there.

How vulnerable is he feeling -- Mary?

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Wolf, Mitt Romney today told reporters that he can't guarantee anything but, you know, he's feeling confident. He says he feels more confident than ever that he'll actually win here in New Hampshire.

But his Iowa defeat, as you know, changed everything. His campaign has been adapting. In recent days, Mitt Romney has been stressing that he will press on no matter what happens tonight. He's been stressing Michigan. That's the state where his father was once governor. He launched his campaign there.

He's also been adapting his message and he's been aggressive in trying to get that message out, that government is broken and that Washington needs change, trying to portray his chief rival here, Senator John McCain, as a Washington insider.

Mitt Romney also told reporters this afternoon that he's really depending on those undecided voters, that his volunteers have been calling, almost making a hundred thousand calls yesterday. And he believes that undecideds are going to sway in his favor.

But as he has been saying, he's vowing to press on -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Mary.

Thanks very much.

Mary Snow is watching the Romney campaign.

And we may be looking at a record turnout in New Hampshire right now -- certainly a greater turnout than expected. Some polling stations, as I said, have been running low on ballots.

Let's check what's happening on the ground.

CNN's Tom Foreman is out there.

Is this a case of maybe it's a combination of good weather and popular candidates?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I don't know, Wolf. But it is unbelievable. We're at the Brookside Congregational Church here. And they have about 6,000 people registered to vote in this area. Right now, they've had so many people come in, that this is one of the places where they've had to have an additional 500 or so ballots brought in to handle the crowd. The best estimate we're getting so far is that they may have 85 percent or more in terms of participation of registered voters in this area. You know from elections that's almost unheard of anywhere. They have normally big turnouts here, but this is enormous.

The governor, of course, is saying that he thinks it may be the biggest turnout in the state. Everywhere people are talking about lines, they're talking about the needs for additional ballots and they're talking, as much as anything, about a tremendous amount of enthusiasm among the voters. And I have to tell you, out in the streets, it's like a carnival. There are many people out there from many different groups and candidates -- very excited, very thrilled. And particularly after what Iowa did -- a woman came through here a short while ago saying I'm just so proud of New Hampshire. And then she said those fighting words, "Iowa shmiowa (ph)."

So we'll see if New Hampshire truly turns out in the end with the extraordinary numbers they seem to be turning out -- Wolf.

BLITZER: It's amazing, because in Iowa, they had record numbers. Maybe they'll have record numbers in New Hampshire right now. It looks like -- at least in these two states -- people are really paying attention.

FOREMAN: Oh, absolutely, Wolf. And one of the things that you're struck by when you talk to the people on the streets -- something I've also not witnessed in a lot of elections -- tremendous numbers of people who really know some things about their candidates and really have reasons why they're picking them. As you know, in so many elections, people are saying I'm voting against somebody I don't want.

Here, I hear so many people saying they're voting for somebody they do want.

So it will be really interesting to see who they pick in the end -- Wolf.

BLITZER: We'll be checking back with you.

Thanks very much.

Tom Foreman.

And the first exit poll information is just out. We're ready to give you at least a snapshot -- an initial snapshot of who turned out today in New Hampshire and what was on the minds of these primary voters.

Our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider, is standing by -- Bill, what are we learning from these early exit poll numbers?

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Wolf, we asked people what were the issues that were on their minds as they voted today. And we got interesting answers from Republicans and Democrats.

Here's what Democrats told us. The number one issue -- the economy. Those stock market figures must have hit home today.

Just behind that, the war in Iraq.

And the third issue -- health care.

Now, let's look at what the Republicans said were the top issues. They, too, gave priority to the economy -- the number one issue.

Number two -- Iraq.

Third -- illegal immigration.

And, fourth -- the issue of the war on terror.

So very similar issues, principally the economy and the war in Iraq, on the minds of both Republicans and Democrats.

But here's the big difference. When we asked Democrats, did you vote for a candidate because you agreed with that candidate's position on the issues or because of their leadership and personal qualities, Republicans said issues took priority. Rather -- Democrats said issues took priority.

Now let's take the Republicans and see what they told us. They said leadership and personal qualities were more important, issues were secondary. So a very different calculation going into the voting booth today for Republicans and Democrats.

And, by the way, here's an interesting fact we discovered in the exit poll. About one in seven -- 14 percent of both Democrats and Republicans told us they made their minds up how they were going to vote today -- this very day. So there could be some changes from the pre- election polls -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Bill, this is the first time we're getting any of the results -- the early results from these exit polls. Explain to our viewers who aren't familiar with this process how we do it what's going on.

In Iowa, we had what we called entrance polls. But now we're back to exit polls.

Give us a little Exit Poll 101.

SCHNEIDER: Yes. An exit poll is taken as voters leave their polling places. They walk out and our interviewers are instructed to pick voters on a certain basis at random. They don't just go up to someone they like. They pick voters according to every tenth voter or every fifth voter coming out of the polling place, ask them to fill out a form -- front and back -- which asks them a lot of different questions -- who they voted for, why they voted, when they made up their minds, their age, their approximate income -- a lot of questions that they answer.

Those answers are phoned in to a central headquarters and we report the results on the air, as we just did.

It's an exit poll because the law says you can't interfere with the person as they are going to vote. That's illegal. You can only talk to them after they voted, so you cannot influence their vote. That's why we do exit polls in an election, because we can only talk to them as they leave the polling places.

BLITZER: Bill Schneider is going to be going through all of these numbers.

Bill, thanks very much.

Fascinating material. We're just beginning -- just beginning this process of understanding what's going on. And we'll be checking back with you. I think we'll have some more information coming up right here the top of our next hour.

Bill, thanks very much.

Let's check in with Jack Cafferty.

He's got The Cafferty File -- Jack. CAFFERTY: Compared to the Democrats, the Republican race in New Hampshire is still a bit of a demolition derby. And things may not change in the Granite State all that much after the votes are all counted tonight.

A new Gallup Poll asks which candidate think will win the Republican nomination. Thirty-three percent say Mike Huckabee. John McCain and Rudy Giuliani are tied for second at 18 percent. Mitt Romney gets 14 percent. And while Huckabee won big in Iowa, he is not expected to do as well in New Hampshire. It's a much more secular environment -- not as many Evangelicals there. But he is still expected to probably finish a respectable third.

In fact, the polls suggest that a John McCain win today -- according to the Politico, McCain's goal is to be the least unacceptable Republican. In other words, the candidate with the fewest negatives. That's the way they used to program television networks in the old days -- put on the least objectionable programming and they felt people would watch it.

Mitt Romney's hope, obviously, was for the momentum from victories in both Iowa and New Hampshire to carry him forward. But even if he doesn't finish first in New Hampshire tonight, Romney insists he will continue.

And with the wide open nature of the race among the Republicans, hey, who knows?

Of course, a race with no frontrunner, that's also good news for Rudy Giuliani. He's counting on later states like Florida to begin to notch his victories.

And, finally, another indication that things are definitely going Barack Obama's way -- Mitt Romney is now telling voters he is best suited to go head-to-head with Barack Obama and that a long serving U.S. senator -- meaning John McCain, who's 71-years-old -- is not the best match-up. Well, McCain didn't like that. He shot back, saying he'd let the voters decide how well he'd match up against Obama.

Anyway, here's the question -- who will ultimately win the Republican nomination?

Go to CNN.com/caffertyfile. You can post a comment there on my new blog -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Jack, thanks very much.

I just want to remind our viewers, I've got a little viewers guide to tonight's election on CNNPolitics.com. You might want to read that, as well -- CNNPolitics.com.

An angry Bill Clinton says Barack Obama has been given a free pass over his Iraq War stance.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Give me a break. This whole thing is the biggest fairy tale I've ever seen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Is it sour grapes or is there something to it?

We're going to tell you what Senator Obama is saying.

Showdown at sea -- there are new pictures and sounds, as Iranian vessels make a highly threatening high speed run toward U.S. warships. We've got the first video of what actually happened.

And hundreds dead in a trail of destruction -- Kenya's election goes terribly wrong. We're on the scene with Zain Verjee.

Stay with us.

You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: The Democratic frontrunner, Barack Obama, is drawing fire in New Hampshire, where passions and maybe tempers are running high. Former President Bill Clinton made a last minute pitch for his wife and he got in some last minute digs. He says Obama has been getting a free pass from the news media, especially when it comes to his stance on Iraq.

Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

B. CLINTON: It is wrong that Senator Obama got to go through 15 debates trumpeting his superior judgment and how he had been against the war in every year, enumerating the years, and never got asked one time -- not once -- well, how could you say that when you said in 2004 you didn't know how you would have voted on the resolution?

You said in 2004 there was no difference between you and George Bush on the war. And you took that speech you're now running on off your Web site in 2004. And there's no difference in your voting record and Hillary's ever since.

Give me a break.

(APPLAUSE)

B. CLINTON: This whole thing is the biggest fairy tale I've ever seen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Responding to the Clinton's complaints, Barack Obama suggests there's no fairy tale at all, that the Clintons are just coming up against a very hard reality.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I understand they're frustrated right now. And I suspect that they'll try to get back on track in terms of a strategy for them to, you know, do better than they're -- they feel that they're doing right now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: And Obama says he was "knocked around pretty good by the media when he was well behind in the polls."

The other Democrats would probably be happy to trade places with the current leader, Barack Obama. But sometimes it's easier to fight from behind.

CNN's Susan Malveaux is joining us now live from New Hampshire with more -- is Obama starting to feel, Suzanne, a little of that that vulnerability as a frontrunner, if you will?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, he's certainly beginning to feel the attacks. And his campaign, first of all, really trying to paint some of the Clinton attacks as signs of desperation in their campaign. They lay out in quite detail about the back and forth over his Iraq policy, his positions, his strategies, saying that he has been very consistent, that he's been misquoted at times and fully vetted on the issue.

But the other thing that they really seem to be doing here -- and you'll hear Obama on the stump speech. He's addressing some of the specific lines from Senator Hillary Clinton, when she talks about false hope, when she talks about reality check. And even today, when Bill Clinton said this was a fairy tale, what they are trying to do as paint her as the candidate of anti-hope. It goes against what they believe is the broad appeal that Barack Obama has with so many people -- that is the appeal to people's best, to their potential.

And so then you hear Barack Obama talk about the kinds of things -- well, what if these previous presidents, these leaders, didn't have hope?

Would we ever make it to the moon, say?

Would we ever abolish slavery or would there ever be a civil rights movement?

That is a winning strategy. They feel that they can come back with this campaign message -- one that, so far, has really resonated with the voters here, as well as Iowa. And that really is kind of that inspirational factor. It's the kind of thing that you can't really measure but you can feel in the audiences. It's really captured when people talk about how they feel about him.

The other thing I should let you know, Wolf, is that I spoke with some Clinton aides, those inside the campaign. And they are not pleased with what Bill Clinton said today. They believe that it was really a freelance kind of comment. They wanted Senator Clinton to take a couple of days to show an emotional side. They thought that worked very well in connecting with the voters. They certainly did not think that this attack line, specifically coming from him, was going to be particularly helpful -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Suzanne, thanks very much.

Suzanne's going to be with us throughout the night.

Can Hillary Clinton turn her campaign around in New Hampshire and what went wrong for her in Iowa?

I'll ask a prominent Clinton supporter, the former secretary of state, Madeleine Albright. She's here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Plus, President Bush calls it "a provocative act". Now that there's -- and now there's some new video we're just getting in of those Iranian speedboats charging a U.S. Navy convoy in the Strait of Hormuz.

Stay with us.

You'll see the video, right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: President Bush is calling it "a provocative act". And today, the U.S. military released new images showing Iranian speedboats confronting U.S. Navy vessels in the Persian Gulf.

Let's turn to our senior Pentagon correspondent, Jamie McIntyre.

He's watching all of this go on -- Jamie, take us through this.

How close of a call was it?

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SENIOR PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, you know, after talking about this all day yesterday, it's really interesting to see the video taken from the USS Hopper, an Aegis destroyer. You can actually hear the alarm for general quarters to be sounded, for the sailors to arm their battle stations, as those Iranian patrol craft zip around and between the U.S. ships. The radio is crackling with an ominous threat from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps that are manning those fast attack boats.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am coming to you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your identity is not known. Your intentions are unclear. Request that you establish communications now or alter your course immediately to remain clear -- that you alter course immediately to remain clear. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You will explode after a few minutes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You will explode after a few minutes.

(END VIDEO CLIP) MCINTYRE: At this point, after nearly 30 minutes of confrontation, the USS Hopper is about to unload its .50 caliber machine guns on the fast attack boats. But the Iranians give up the game.

You don't see on this video, by the way, those white boxes that the Pentagon says were dropped in the water. But you do see how close these boats are. If any one of them had turned and aimed directly for one of the U.S. warships, the sailors on board would have only had a matter of seconds to react -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Jamie, thanks very much for that -- a close call on the high seas.

Former secretaries of state now weighing in on the race for the White House.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "TAVIS SMILEY," COURTESY PBS)

COLIN POWELL (R), FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: I'm terribly excited. I'm impressed and I'm happy for Barack Obama. I know him. I've met with him a couple of times. And I think this is such an important event for America -- for the American people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: So why isn't Colin Powell actually endorsing Barack Obama?

We're going tell you what's going on.

Also, Madeleine Albright -- she joins me here in THE SITUATION ROOM. I'll ask her if she thinks Obama is ready to be president.

Plus, an insider's look at political violence rocking Kenya. Our own Zain Verjee is there. She's in her homeland. She's from Kenya. Her family is there. We're going to take you inside for a close up view of what's going on.

Stay with us.

You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Happening now, severe weather in the Midwest, including flooding in Indiana. Parts of the state are drenched by more than five inches of rain. One dam is threatened by surging water and there's one death already reported.

Also, record oil prices helped push gold to its own record high price -- more than $880 an ounce. Traders are betting that the oil spike will drive investors to seek safety in gold.

And Senator Larry Craig of Idaho is trying again to withdraw his guilty plea stemming from an airport bathroom sting -- sex sting. He's asking a Minnesota appeals court to overrule a lower court that called Craig's plea "accurate, voluntary and supported by the evidence."

I'm Wolf Blitzer.

You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Barack Obama's growing momentum is especially gratifying to many African-Americans, including former secretary of state, Colin Powell.

But is he endorsing Obama?

Let's turn to CNN's Brian Todd.

He's watching this story for us. What is the former secretary saying -- Brian.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, he seemed to say everything but the word endorse when speaking about Obama. Not shocking that it's one African-American leader talking about another. But in the context of party lines and future possibilities, Powell's comments were provocative.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TODD (voice-over): A Republican heavyweight effusive about the Democrats' rising star.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "TAVIS SMILEY," COURTESY PBS)

POWELL: I'm terribly excited. I'm impressed and I'm happy for Barack Obama. I know him. I've met with him a couple of times. And I think this is such an important event for America -- for the American people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TODD: An aide to Colin Powell says this is not an endorsement. In this PBS interview, the former secretary of state qualified his praise by saying there were good people on both sides. But he didn't hold back the satisfaction he felt seeing Obama's surge.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "TAVIS SMILEY," COURTESY PBS)

POWELL: I wish Barack all the best. And I rejoice in what he's been able to achieve.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TODD: Obama campaign officials say the comments speak for themselves. One aide says Obama has consulted with Powell on foreign policy issues, but the aide say Powell has met with several candidates. Pressed by CNN on and off-camera on whether this might pave the way for Obama to offer Powell a cabinet position if elected, the response is consistent -- we're not there yet.

SEN. DICK DURBIN (D), OBAMA NATIONAL CAMPAIGN COCHAIRMAN: We're in the second contest here in a long, long campaign. And we're going to pay attention to each one of these states and each one of the challenges and work very hard to get the nomination for Barack.

TODD: Still, political analysts say you can't expect to see Powell's comments in Obama's campaign ads.

Is Powell, the Republican, having second thoughts about his party?

STUART ROTHENBERG, ROTHENBERG POLITICAL REPORT: It's clear that the general has some problems with some of the social conservatives in the party. And his nice comments about Obama can only be seen as at least a flirtation with the Obama campaign.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TODD: Powell's spokeswoman called that speculation, said the general speaks for himself and hasn't said anything about moving his support away from the party. When I asked if he's close to endorsing any candidate, she said she doesn't think so and wouldn't speculate on that either, Wolf.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks very much, Brian Todd reporting.

Yesterday here in THE SITUATION ROOM, we heard from a top Obama supporter, the former U.S. Senator, Bill Bradley. Today another former secretary of state is weighing in on the democratic race. She's supporting Hillary Clinton.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: And joining us now, Madeleine Albright, the former secretary of state. She's got a new book entitled "Memo to the President-Elect." And I know you're hoping it will be Hillary Clinton. You're a big Hillary Clinton support. Thank you very much for joining us.

MADELEINE ALBRIGHT, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: Thank you. I do hope that she is the winner. But this book is directed at anybody that gets the job, either party.

BLITZER: You've got some good practical advice for a new president. We'll get to that a moment. Why do you think -- you were there in Iowa. You were up on the stage there. We saw you there. Why do you think she lost to Barack Obama?

ALBRIGHT: It's hard to say but I do think that I went to the caucuses. I've never done that before and there clearly were a lot of new voters and they were energized, and it's a very different kind of a system there. It's very interesting. It's for a limited amount of time during the day, in the evening. I'm not a pundit. So I can't tell you. But I think that it's a very small number of people who voted.

BLITZER: A lot of the pundits suggested, you know, he was seen as the candidate of change, hope, younger, bringing in some new blood. As opposed to Hillary Clinton, who is seen as necessarily in that way. Do you buy that notion that she wasn't seen as the candidate of change?

ALBRIGHT: Well, for me, she is the candidate of change, and she's a candidate who brings together both experience and change. And as she herself has said, she has worked for change all her life. But I do think this is a very important time.

My book really goes to the point of this is going to be a very difficult presidency. And a lot of work is going to have to be done. There has to be this combination of experience and the ability to see the future. And as I said, she combines that for me. But I hope very much that the book addresses itself to whomever wins.

BLITZER: The tough title of the book is "How We Can Restore America's Reputation and Leadership."

After her defeat in Iowa, there was a story in "THE WASHINGTON POST," Clinton supporters question her strategy. They quoted Tad Devine who was the chief strategist for Al Gore in 2000. And he said basically, he said the image Thursday night of Clinton surrounded by her husband, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and her husband's favorite General Wesley Clark was all wrong. He was there. Bill Clinton was on the stage. And that looked like it was a throwback to the Clinton years as opposed to looking ahead.

ALBRIGHT: Well, I don't know how this thing got put together. I was just kind of surprised at how short I am.

BLITZER: Because you are seeing those pictures.

ALBRIGHT: Yeah.

BLITZER: That would suggest, you know, that people don't necessarily want to go back to the Clinton years. That was Obama's strategy.

ALBRIGHT: I truly do. I'm not a campaign strategist and I don't know how these things are put together. I was very glad to be out there supporting her and talking to people about what she had to offer and the change and compassion that she represented. But I -- you know, I'm not Tad Devine or a strategist.

BLITZER: You're not a political pundit.

ALBRIGHT: I am not.

BLITZER: You're a former secretary of state.

Let's talk about national security, international affairs. Barack Obama. Is he ready to be the president of the United States?

ALBRIGHT: Well, again, I decided that I was not going to comment on other candidates. I find that's not my job. I do think that Hillary Clinton is the person that's ready to be president on day one.

BLITZER: Why do you say that, on the basis of what? ALBRIGHT: Well, I know her very well. And I know the kind of experience that she's had, not only as first lady, but the kinds of things she's done in the senate. I think her record on the Armed Services Committee is really remarkable in terms of the care and attention she's taken, the number of times she's gone to visit troops, gone to Iraq, gone to Afghanistan. She is the only senator that is now on a commission that is studying the future of the military, and I think she has a remarkable record. And I know her very, very well.

BLITZER: You write in the book, "Memo to the President-Elect," you write this to whoever the new president will be, "You will grow older quickly and be reminded constantly that a halo need fall only a short distance before it begins to feel like a noose." All right, explain what you mean.

ALBRIGHT: Well, because I -- what I'm trying to show in the book, not only to the next president, but frankly, Wolf, also this book is addressed to the American people, as they examine who should be president and the context of the very complicated national security issues. But, you know, when you are in a campaign or elected, you are viewed kind of as the savior, the halo, aspect, but very quickly, you see that these are huge problems that are very difficult to solve, that you need to have a good team around you, that you have to be a confident leader, not somebody who is not interested in a lot of different opinions. And that it can be strangling if you're not able to solve the problems. And, so, I talk about the importance of setting priorities. I would like to do away with the 100-day gimmick.

BLITZER: The first 100 days. Just get right into it.

ALBRIGHT: No, not always say, well, what are you going to accomplish in the first 100 days? That was something that Franklin Roosevelt could do. He was concentrating on one issue in a different era. And that there has to be a longer-range priority, a scheme, that is out there, where issues need to be reviewed. And then the part that I know from my own experience is, you have to be prepared to deal with the unexpected. And, so, a lot depends on how a president-elect approaches these issues.

BLITZER: And a lot depends on surrounding yourself with top- notch people.

ALBRIGHT: Not only that, Wolf, but also people that are capable of disagreeing with each other, and a president who is willing to listen to different opinions and who is curious and confident enough to listen to different things.

BLITZER: The book is entitled "Memo to the President-Elect, How We Can Restore America's Reputation and Leadership" and Madeleine Albright is the author. Thank you very much, madam, secretary, for coming in.

ALBRIGHT: Thank you very much, Wolf. Appreciate it.

(END VIDEOTAPE) BLITZER: The female factor, young single women who had been expected to vote for Hillary Clinton are now backing Barack Obama instead. We'll show you why.

Plus, Mike Huckabee comes to Hillary Clinton's defense. You're going to find out why he's telling the news media to, quote, cut her some slack.

Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: They're the demographic that could tip the democratic race. Young women voters long expected to back Hillary Clinton in huge numbers, but many of them are now flocking to the Barack Obama camp instead.

Let's go back to Carol Costello. She's watching this story for us.

What's happening with these young women out there, Carol?

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, you know what they say. It's a woman's prerogative to change her mind, and she collectively did, at least on the democratic side.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I got on a crush on Obama

COSTELLO: That ubiquitous Obama girl was on to something. Though early polls women under 30 would vote for Hillary Clinton, she proved the pollsters wrong. In Iowa, they had a ...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Crush on Obama.

COSTELLO: According to the pundits, the so-called anxious single women would be hot for Hillary because they were excited by a female candidate and because they craved the safety net of experience to calm their fears about the war, health care, and equal pay. Yet in Iowa, they voted Obama.

BONNIE ERBE, HOST, PBS'S "TO THE CONTRARY": They think that it's a race between cool, which they see him as being cool over experience. They like his message of hope and change.

COSTELLO: And some theorize, the message was energized because of the Oprah factor.

OPRAH WINFREY, TALK SHOW HOST: I believe we need Barack Obama.

COSTELLO: Oddly, older women who according to early polls were expected to reject Clinton, voted for her. Something Clinton attracted them talking about a common dream.

SUE CAROL, RUTGERS UNIVERSITY: She was talking to older women voters in Iowa about how this was going to be a historic election, how they had a chance to really help elect the first woman president. And I think that resonated with older women voters.

COSTELLO: Add that message may be resonating in New Hampshire as well. Hilda Fleischer voted for Clinton in the state's primary.

HILDA FLEISCHER, DEMOCRATIC N.H. VOTER: Well for years I've wanted a woman to be president. Not just any old woman, but Hillary is a brilliant woman.

COSTELLO: Still overall, Obama won the women's vote in Iowa by a few points. What's tough to determine is why. Is it because as Gloria Steinem wrote in the "New York Times," because "There is still no right way to be a woman in public power without being considered a you-know-what." Or is Clinton simply the wrong woman at the wrong time? Listen to this voter in New Hampshire.

BARBARA MAILLE, REPUBLICAN N.H. VOTER: Quite frankly, I'm not so sure about her trustworthiness. I just don't have a lot of faith in the lady in so far as her leading the country. As a person, I think that's marvelous what she's done, you know, her achievements.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COSTELLO: And that woman is a republican who voted for John McCain. Now it will be interesting to see who republican women cast their vote for in New Hampshire. In Iowa, they overwhelmingly chose Mike Huckabee, mostly because Huckabee was able to attract a large number of religious women. And as you know, New Hampshire's makeup is much different than is Iowa's. Wolf?

BLITZER: Carol, thanks very much; a fascinating story.

People are still talking, by the way, about the emotion that showed in Hillary Clinton's voice yesterday during a Q&A session with voters in New Hampshire. But one of her republican rivals is saying enough already.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE HUCKABEE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I can understand it. Everybody has, you know, fatigue. Everybody's tired. I attribute a lot of it to just being worn out. And also, you know, reflecting upon how much passion a person has to put into a race and knowing that there's so much pressure on a candidate every single day. So, I say cut her some slack. You know, she's a human being, and a lot of people want to pounce on her.

And, you know, I think you say, she's human. You don't elect a president to be inhuman. I hope not. And I don't think it's anything other than a reflection of the shear fatigue that we all have. And I say that, because, first of all, I have sympathy for the fact that she has been on a grueling schedule. And secondly, if I break down and cry today, I want you to cut me some slack, too.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BLITZER: Hillary Clinton told CNN's John Roberts, and I'm quoting now, I have emotion -- I actually have emotions. She added that she was simply touched by a woman who asked about her well-being.

He won in Iowa. But what kind of finish is republican Mike Huckabee looking for in New Hampshire? In our next hour, he'll join us in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Plus, our own Zain Verjee. She's reporting for us from her native Kenya on the deadly election violence that's unfolding there.

Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Kenyans are closely watching this U.S. presidential campaign, a favorite son, Barack Obama. But many are wondering about the toll taken by their own recent election, which a U.S. envoy says was rigged. The violence after the vote has left hundreds dead in a path of destruction. Our own Zain Verjee is in Nairobi. Zain?

ZAIN VERJEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, as U.S. voters are about to go to the polls in New Hampshire, here's a look at the high cost of democracy, in Kenya.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VERJEE: She is shell shocked.

SHIRU: They beat me. They cut up my husband. You know, right now, I'm just like that. I have nothing.

VERJEE: She says she was at home when men from another tribe charged in, stole the little she owned, beat her, and hacked her husband.

SHIRU: I thought even they will kill me.

VERJEE: They were targeted because of their tribe, not by strangers, but by neighbors they know.

SHIRU: They know me. I have stayed there with them for so long. And something like this has never happened. So this was the first time.

VERJEE: Wiping away tears, Shiru tells me she can't go back.

SHIRU: I'm afraid of going back there because our life are in danger. Anything can happen.

VERJEE: Her sister looks after her, cooking a local dish called ugalai, made only with flour and water, all the aid agencies have for them.

Everybody here is from a slum from the outskirts of Nairobi. For years, the tribes have lived together peacefully side by side. They've co-existed with no problem. But with this latest election violence, they've turned on each other. There are a lot of people that have moved out, with all their belongings. They're living here, now out in the open. This is a scene that you don't see in Kenya, for many people in this country are really shocked by it.

Shiru takes us to meet her husband, George. He's recovering at his mother's. What do they do? He shows us his wounds. (speaking in a foreign language) on your back. They hit you here. You have cuts here. The last two are of - (speaking in a foreign language) George says he has no money to send their daughter back to school. No job. Nothing left. But, still, says he does not want revenge. I asked him if he feels angry inside. "I will leave it to god," he says.

Two weeks ago, Shiru and George were excited about voting in Kenya's election. But now all it has brought them is ruin.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VERJEE: One other development here in Kenya, Barack Obama called the opposition leader Raila Odinga. They had a phone conversation. And guess what? They're cousins. Wolf?

BLITZER: Zain Verjee reporting for us from Nairobi, where her family lives. That's where Zain is from. Zain, thanks very much.

You know Jack, she's fluent obviously in Swahili. I don't know if you ever heard her speak Swahili. We did heard a little bit in that piece. It's not a language we hear often. She has an amazing family and background.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It must be amazing for her to go back to her homeland, which before this problem broke out, was certainly not up to the standard of living she's become accustomed to in the west. And then to see friends and family and landmarks and social institutions ripped to shreds by the tribal problems, it must be very tough.

BLITZER: Her parents are there.

CAFFERTY: I know.

BLITZER: You are worried about the safety and security of what's going on.

CAFFERTY: I got a note from her, asking if her family was okay. She wrote back and said her family is fine.

BLITZER: Good.

CAFFERTY: All right. Onto politics, in case you haven't had enough of this stuff. The question this hour is who will ultimately win the republican nomination?

Loretta in Pompton Plains, New Jersey writes, "Did you ever hear the joke, sometimes the bull wins? Well, Mr. Huckabee didn't look like much of a threat in the beginning, but now I think this swinging, guitar strumming, Kevin Spacey look alike preacher with a great sense of humor may just reach the finish line huffing and puffing."

Dave in Toronto writes, "Of those in this motley bunch that would make the cut: Huckabee, a gun toting, ex-preacher with an appeal to only the most fervent of the religious ripe, Romney, an old-school politician in new clothes and Giuliani and McCain, God forbid, what would they do if peace broke out in this world?" It really doesn't matter.

Andrew in Cleveland, "I think McCain will the nomination. He is the least dangerous of that group."

T. in Nebraska writes, "Huckabee will not win. Giuliani will not win. Thompson will not win. Romney will not win. The rest of the candidates will not win either. It's time for a democrat to muck out the White House."

Rich writes, "Jack, McCain Obama ran, Huckabee will take America back to Jesus. Mitt won't be able to make his mind up flopping in all. Fred will be asleep at the table like Reagan. So the obvious choice would be Ron Paul, as he seems to be the only sane, sensible candidate in both parties and one all the shows want to forget about. I wonder why they feel so scared of a 72-year-old man no bigger than my grandmother."

J.R. writes, "Mike Huckabee will win the nomination, with Lou Dobbs as his running mate." You heard it here first.

Joe in Connecticut writes, "Asking who is going to win the republican nomination is kind of like asking who is going to play the Patriots in the Super Bowl. Who cares because they are not going to win anyway."

Wolf?

BLITZER: Lou's coming up. Maybe I'll ask him if he wants to be a running mate. We asked him yesterday if he wants to be a presidential candidate.

CAFFERTY: I showed him the e-mail out in the hall when I was coming in. He just laughed.

BLITZER: We'll ask him what he thinks. He's coming up next. All right. Jack, stand by. Thanks very much.

Decision day in New Hampshire. The polls are set to close in just over two hours. As I said, Lou is standing by to join us. We'll count down to the finish.

And critics attack republican Mike Huckabee. They're accusing him of moving away from a constitutional right. He's here in THE SITUATION ROOM. He'll respond. That's coming up as well.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: Carol Costello is monitoring some other important stories incoming to THE SITUATION ROOM right now. Carol, what's going on?

COSTELLO: Several things, Wolf. The 19-year-old son of the assassinated Pakistani leader Benazir Bhutto says he fully intends to take on a political role in his homeland but only after they completes his studies at Oxford University. Bilawal Bhutto Zardari today gave his first full news conference since being named chairman of the Pakistan People's Party, the party his mother led until her death two weeks ago.

Searchers have recovered the remains of Meredith Emerson, the hiker who's been missing in north Georgia since New Year's Day. Her body was 30 miles from where she was last seen. The man suspected of killing Emerson told authorities where to look. 61-year-old Gary Michael Hilton is now charged with murder.

And you don't hear this very often, but Naples, Italy stinks. The garbage dumps are closed and nobody's picked up the trash before Christmas. Today, Italy's leader ordered the police and the army to do garbage duty 37 but it's only a short-term fix. The crisis is a result of a long-standing fight between bureaucrats and the local mafia which controls trash collection.

And this afternoon, the Pentagon released dramatic video of Sunday's confrontation between U.S. navy ships and armed Iranian revolutionary guard boats in the waterway that leads into the Persian Gulf. No shots were fired, but Iranians dropped objects in the water and made verbal threats in English. The incident sparked some strong word promise president Bush today, he called Iran's actions "a provocative act pure and simple." Mr. Bush repeated his belief that Iran is a threat to world peace.

That's a look at the headlines right now, Wolf.

BLITZER: Thanks very much, Carol, for that.

On our political ticker, when members of the other party say nice things about you, it's either a big compliment or a reason to worry, and that brings us back to the Barack Obama campaign. Howard Kurtz of CNN's "RELIABLE SOURCES" has more. Howie?

HOWARD KURTZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, there's a phenomenon out there, call it Obama-mania, that's sweeping the media, and it's winning some unlikely converts on the right.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KURTZ: Barack Obama on the cover of "Newsweek," all over the front pages, and the network newscasts. Since beating Hillary Clinton in the Iowa caucuses, and taking the lead in the polls leading up to today's New Hampshire primary, the Illinois senator has been riding an incredible media wave. The wave is so strong, in fact, that conservative commentators, who usually beat up on democrats, are saying nice things about Obama. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No doubt about it, it was the Obama speech last night that certainly caught the attention of most political observers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The difference is, Obama has an unbelievable amount of energy. And he's very charismatic and an excellent speaker.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know, I'm a conservative, and I thought, wow, you know, this is something that really promotes unity. It's something to feel good about.

KURTZ: It's the same thing in print. "The Weekly Standard" calls Obama "the classiest candidate on the democratic side." David Brooks says in "The New York Times," "Americans are going to feel good about an Obama victory, which is a story of youth, possibility, and unity through diversity."

Obama is hardly the first presidential contender to wow the press. Many journalists swooned over John McCain back in 2000, dazzled by his round the clock availability on the straight talk express and there are signs that that romance is being rekindled.

National reporters don't have the same kidn of personal relationship with Obama but like his hometown booster, Oprah Winfrey, they know a rock star when they see one.

Why the conservative kudos? Obama talks about including republicans in a coalition that moves beyond the old red and blue divisions. Conservatives are drawn to an African American who doesn't explicitly campaign on racial issue the way that Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton did. And they're thrilled that Obama may knock off the candidate they've never been able to stand, Hillary Rodham Clinton.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KURTZ: A candidate who surges into front runner status is usually subjected to fierce media scrutiny, but that hasn't happened with Obama, at least not yet. Instead, pundits on the left and right are joining in the applause. Wolf?

BLITZER: Howard Kurtz, thanks very much.

Happening now, round two between democrats Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. New Hampshire voters are deciding right now whether to give him a second win or to give her a comeback.

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