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THE SITUATION ROOM
New Hampshire Boosts Clinton, McCain Campaigns; Interview With Presidential Candidate John Edwards
Aired January 9, 2008 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now: Hillary Clinton looks for a New Hampshire bounce, while Barack Obama gets a Nevada boost. We are looking at Clinton's strategy for beating Obama in the days ahead.
Plus, John Edwards looks for a home field advantage. Is he changing his message to play in the South after back-to-back defeats?
And next stop, Michigan. John McCain looks to the next battleground to try to seal his comeback. But will Mitt Romney be able to stop him this time?
I'm Wolf Blitzer at the CNN Election Center. You are in THE SITUATION ROOM.
John McCain and Mitt Romney both are on the ground in Michigan right now. McCain is looking for a New Hampshire bounce. Romney is looking for a much-needed rebound.
Our chief national correspondent, John King, is in Michigan right now.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In boxing terms, it's rematch time. New Hampshire's Republican winner sees the stakes as enormous.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We won New Hampshire. we will win Michigan. we will win South Carolina. We will win the nomination, and I will be the next president of the United States, with your help.
KING: The glow of victory is obvious, but so are the challenges. The economy dominates here. Michigan's unemployment rate is 7.4 percent. And Senator McCain moved quickly to promise help.
MCCAIN: We are a Judeo-Christian-valued nation. And we cannot leave these great Americans behind. I want to tell you, I will help you create new jobs...
KING: McCain talked of reforming wasteful federal job training programs and using community colleges as training incubators, but he passed when asked how a McCain presidency would differ from the approach of his chief rival here, Michigan native and former businessman Mitt Romney. MCCAIN: I do not get into the comparisons. I don't know what his positions are. We run our campaign. We think we have a strong set of proposals.
KING: A comeback brings new energy, but it also stirs old questions. Among them, whether McCain's new emphasis on immigration will satisfy conservatives who revolted last summer when the senator pushed to give legal status to millions here illegally. He acknowledged the political toll on the flight from New Hampshire to Grand Rapids.
MCCAIN: I think it's hurt me everywhere. But we will continue to send the message that we have to secure the borders. The borders will be secured first.
BLITZER: John King reporting for us -- he is on the ground in Michigan. We are going to be speaking with him shortly.
In the wide-open Republican race, Mike Huckabee is zeroing in on South Carolina today. He's looking to do well there with Christian conservatives, just as he did to secure his win in Iowa.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE HUCKABEE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Excited about South Carolina. And the reason is, is because I believe that here in South Carolina, it is going to be the place where we will continue the momentum that we have seen in this campaign. And we are going to take it all the way from here on to Florida and ultimately the White House. But South Carolina is going to be a turning point in this nomination process, and you are going to be a part of a great piece of history.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Fred Thompson is also campaigning in South Carolina today. Rudy Giuliani, we haven't heard a lot about him lately. He is stumping, though, in Florida, trying to gear up for that primary at the end of the month.
Some thought this wouldn't happen. Now John McCain leaves New Hampshire with a big win and a fresh political wind at his back. So does Hillary Clinton. Some worried she would suffer a stunning loss. But they were wrong, as were many of the polls.
Our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider, has more on this part of the story.
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): All the pre-primary polls predicted an Obama victory in New Hampshire. Why did they get it wrong? The blogs are full of speculation.
ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Some of the things out there are the -- how can you trust polling in the age of cell phones, when the pollsters aren't reaching all these people? Was it the weather?
SCHNEIDER: Another prominent theory: White voters lie to pollsters. They say they will vote for a black candidate, but, when they get into the polling booth, they don't.
In the Democratic race, eight polls taken after Iowa all showed Obama beating Clinton. Polls often do make mistakes, but it is rare that eight polls all make the same mistake. Compare the actual vote. The big discrepancy was in the Clinton vote. She got nine points more support than the polls predicted. Edwards' vote was close. Obama's vote was right on target, 37 percent in the polls, 37 percent in the primary, no apparent racial effect.
What seems to have happened is that late-deciding voters went heavily for Clinton. Why? Maybe a strong Clinton ground operation pulling working-class voters went to the polls. She did well among voters whose top concern was the economy and those who said they were falling behind financially.
Another theory had to do with Senator Clinton's show of emotion the day before the vote.
TATTON: One idea that I'm seeing out there today is the idea that women voters saw the media playing those clips of Hillary's tears again and again and again in the last few days, and they didn't like it. And the women voters voted, not just for Hillary, but against the media and what they were doing.
SCHNEIDER: A lot of voters appear to have made up their minds for Hillary Clinton at the last minute, possibly women who looked in the mirror and decided they simply couldn't vote against a woman who could be the first female president of the United States.
BLITZER: Have you seen a phenomenon like this develop in recent -- and you covered -- you and I have covered a lot of elections. It is sort of extraordinary, isn't it?
SCHNEIDER: I haven't seen the polls get it wrong in this way, but we haven't seen a woman and an African-American running for president, especially in the same race.
BLITZER: What about this notion that the polls might not necessarily be all that accurate right now because a lot of people don't have hard-line phones? The younger people especially just have cell phones. That's their primary number. And pollsters don't usually call people on their cell phones.
SCHNEIDER: If that were the case, we would have under -- the pollsters would have underestimated the vote for Obama because a lot of people with cell phones would not have been reached by the pollsters. But they overestimated the vote for Obama. So, that does not seem to be an explanation.
BLITZER: So, you can't blame it on that?
BLITZER: OK, cell phones not to blame, at least not now. Let's give it some time.
Bill Schneider, thanks very much.
Now that the Iowa and New Hampshire contests are behind them, the presidential candidates have a busy month of contests ahead. On Tuesday, this coming Tuesday, it's the Michigan primary for Republicans. Saturday the 19th, Nevada holds Republican and Democratic caucuses. And there is a GOP primary in South Carolina that day.
Democrats, by the way, hold their South Carolina primary the following Saturday. The Florida primary is set for January 29. And then it is Super Tuesday February 5. More than 20 states hold contests on that date, including delegate-rich California, Illinois, and New York.
Let's go to Jack Cafferty. He has got "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf, the race for the Democratic nomination got a whole lot more interesting last night. Hillary Clinton's victory over Barack Obama in New Hampshire means that there is no front-runner anymore.
What many initially thought would be a Clinton coronation and then morphed into Obama mania is now neither. What is clear is these two candidates are in this for the long haul. Clinton and Obama, they have lots of money. They have the ability to raise even more.
In fact, Obama's campaign says it raised more than 8$ million in the first eight days of this month and another $500,000 came in online since midnight last night. Clinton told her supporters last night that in talking to the people of New Hampshire, she found her own voice -- pretty good line.
As the race moves on now to Nevada, South Carolina, Clinton's challenge will be to prove that New Hampshire wasn't a fluke. She will have to prove to the voters that there are reasons other than her experience that make her ready to be president.
And when it comes to Barack Obama, he will have to try to recapture the magic that was Iowa.
An interesting side note on this race, one Clinton adviser tells "The Politico," it is President George Bush who should get the credit for turning this into such a long campaign, saying -- quote -- "He has done more than anyone to get the people of this country involved again in politics. They now realize it is important who the president is" -- unquote.
Here's the question: What will ultimately decide the outcome of this gigantic battle now between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton?
You can go to CNN.com/caffertyfile and post a comment on my blog -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Jack, thank you.
John Edwards uses some Southern charm to woo others like him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN EDWARDS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I know what's happening in people's lives here, not because I read it somewhere, but because I have lived it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: But will South Carolina hand Edwards his first primary win? John Edwards is here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Also, President Bush has a stern warning to Iran: Attack U.S. ships and suffer serious consequences.
And Cindy McCain, potentially, she could be the next first lady if, if her husband can take a bounce out of the New Hampshire primary all the way to the White House.
Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Welcome back.
John Edwards is looking to reboot his presidential campaign in his native South, after his third-place finish in New Hampshire. The Democrat is campaigning today in South Carolina, heading into the January 26 contest there.
The former North Carolina senator is joining us now.
Senator, thanks very much for coming in.
EDWARDS: Thanks, Wolf. Thanks for having me.
BLITZER: Was it much of a disappointment? I assume it was, coming in third in New Hampshire.
EDWARDS: Oh, no, it actually is exactly what we expected from what we saw. You know, if you look at what's happening, we have had two states now, one was Iowa, where I finished second ahead of Senator Clinton and behind Senator Obama. The next was New Hampshire, where they both finished in front of me and I finished third. Now we go to Nevada and South Carolina. South Carolina, where I am today, is the state that I won the primary in 2004.
I was born here. I have a lot of connection here. I know what's happening in people's lives here, not because I read it somewhere, but because I have lived it.
BLITZER: The community, the Hispanic community in Nevada, the African- American community there, and also the African-American community in South Carolina, these two states are very different demographically than Iowa or New Hampshire, where there is a tiny African-American community, tiny Hispanic community. Is that going to force you to retool your strategy, your message, the issues you're focusing in on right now, or is it going to continue the way you started? In other words, are you shifting your strategy based on the different populations in Nevada and South Carolina?
EDWARDS: Well, it's not a strategy shift, Wolf. I mean, I ran here in 2004, I grew up in the South, I know very well what matters to people here.
They want to know that you understand what their lives are like. They want to know that you know what it means when all these jobs have left South Carolina and North Carolina, which is where I live now.
They want to know that when you talk about the middle class and the struggles of the middle class, it's not something that somebody explained to you, that you understand what it means in their lives. And they want to know that when somebody doesn't have health insurance, that you understand what impact it has on their lives.
This is -- they are looking for somebody who understands what's happening to them in a very real and personal way. So I think both here and in Nevada, what I stand for, what I believe, and my personal convictions about these things matter. And I think they are going to matter in the caucus in Nevada and the primary in South Carolina.
BLITZER: Tell us why you believe the African-American Democratic voter, and that could be 50 percent of the primary in South Carolina, why they should vote for you as opposed to Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton, for that matter? What exactly do you bring to the African- American community in South Carolina which has its own unique problems?
EDWARDS: I have been fighting for the causes they care most about my whole life. No one has been more vocal and more outspoken and more leading as -- by the way, as leading African-American figures like the Reverend Jesse Jackson have pointed out on issues of poverty than I have.
I mean, I have been out there driving this issue, making certain that it's discussed in the campaign. It's a huge issue here in South Carolina. Here in the state of South Carolina.
The educational disparity in South Carolina, I have always talked about the two public school systems we have. There is no better example of that than what's happening with the two public school systems here in the state of South Carolina.
Jobs, particularly in smaller towns, smaller communities, rural areas, I have been the leading force in driving those issues in this campaign. And that's a huge issue here in South Carolina. I mean, I know what's happening in the lives of all South Carolinians, and I certainly know what's happening in the lives of African-Americans.
BLITZER: How important is the Culinary Workers Union endorsement of Barack Obama in Nevada right now? They have 60,000 members and they are politically very charged and active.
EDWARDS: Well, first of all, I congratulate him for getting their support. They're a good union.
But I might point out, there are other very good unions in Nevada. The Carpenters, for example, are one of the unions. I have got several there supporting me.
I think a fair assessment of the union support in Nevada would be that Senator Clinton has some, I have I think more than she has, and Senator Obama has some. And I think it's relatively split between the three of us.
I think what's going to matter at the end of the day in Nevada is who has a message about jobs and the middle class and how you strengthen the middle class, and who actually can get their people to the caucuses on Saturday.
BLITZER: Thanks very much for joining us, Senator. Good luck.
EDWARDS: Thanks, Wolf. Thanks for having me.
BLITZER: Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton says she is taking a deep breath after her stunning win in New Hampshire.
But this may take a little of the oxygen out of the room: the largest labor union in Nevada, as we have been reporting, endorsing Barack Obama's presidential campaign. The support of that 60,000- member Culinary Workers Union could boost Obama's chances in the Nevada caucuses, only 10 days from now.
Let's bring in our senior political correspondent, Candy Crowley. She is covering the Clinton campaign for us.
It's a big endorsement for Barack Obama and a setback of sorts for Hillary Clinton.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, yes, obviously, it is. It is going to be very helpful to Barack Obama, both in organizing his Nevada effort and in getting people out to those caucuses.
But I can tell you, Wolf, it is going to be very hard to kind of pop the bubble of the Clinton campaign at this point. Those around the campaign and those familiar with the conversations going on say, you know, they are very, very happy, obviously, about this win in New Hampshire, particularly because it wasn't expected.
And they are really beginning to dissect what went right here. And what they are coming up with is that she, they believe, has made a connection finally, gotten rid of what one called her front-runner- itis and has been able to show people who she is, where she comes from, and how that connects to their lives.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm really glad that I had a chance to say what I believe with all my heart, that, you know, politics isn't a game. It is not a horse race. It is about people's lives. They why I do what I do.
It is obviously really, really hard to get up every day and, you know, go out and stand up for people who don't have a voice, don't have an advocate, who, sometimes, they're just rendered invisible. But that's what I think I'm supposed to be doing. And I have done it for 35 years. And there was just a really wonderful moment there when, you know, people, I think, got a sense of why I do what I do and why I think it is so important.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CROWLEY: So, the campaign is on looking for more of that kind of connection from Hillary Clinton as they move ahead.
But you will also see the tough side of this campaign. They intend to hold Barack Obama to his words. They say, listen, I know you all are going to say that we are going negative, but the fact is, we are just going to lay the facts out there. When Barack Obama says something, we are going to put out the facts and let everybody figure it out for themselves -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Candy, thanks very much -- Candy Crowley covering the Clinton campaign for us.
Barack Obama's leaving his New Hampshire loss behind him. He's campaigning today in the Super Tuesday battleground state of New Jersey. The Obama camp saying it is raising money at rapid pace so far in this new year, pulling in, get this, an average of $1 million a day.
Just a short while ago, Senator Obama sounded upbeat about the future of his campaign, despite the wear and tear on him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My voice is a little hoarse. My eyes are a little bleary. My back is a little sore.
But my spirit is strong.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA: And I am ready to bring about change in America.
How about you?
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: And this important programming note for our viewers -- coming up at 8:00 p.m. Eastern, about an hour-and-a-half or so from now, I'm going to be anchoring CNN "America Votes" 2008 political special. We will have all the latest political news as far as the campaigns are concerned. That's coming up 8:00 p.m. Eastern.
In other news tonight: a grim search happening tonight around a bridge for four children believed to be dead. You are going to find out what happened. That's coming up.
And we want a sneak peek at John McCain's strategy to win. You are going to find out how he saw it all unfold.
Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: President Bush lands in Israel and sends a stern message to Iran.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Iranian boats came out and were very provocative. And it was a dangerous gesture on their part.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: It's a very, very serious game unfolding right now in the Persian Gulf. Is it about to get more dangerous?
And Hillary Clinton says she found her voice in New Hampshire. But will it carry in other states? The best political team on television standing by to map out Senator Clinton's road ahead. What's next?
And it is tough for the candidates, but it is no picnic for their spouses either. Just coming up, Cindy McCain on her husband's New Hampshire comeback and the campaign still ahead of all of us.
Stay with us. You are in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Happening now: Something happens in Iraq that hasn't happened in four months. Six soldiers die today while on patrol north of Baghdad, after a house explosion. We are watching this story.
Also, CNN has obtained exclusive video of an Air Force disaster, this animation showing an F-15 breaking in half in midair back in November. The incident prompted the grounding of the entire F-15 U.S. Air Force fleet -- the Pentagon now clearing 60 percent of the planes to fly again. The pilot survived. He ejected successfully.
And a federal court tells the White House, answer questions about some missing e-mail -- at issue, whether or not the White House computer backup system is storing possibly millions, millions of old e-mail the administration said were missing.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You are in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Seven years after he took office, President Bush arrived in Israel today, his first visit there as president. In a weeklong trip through the region, Mr. Bush will press Israelis and Palestinians to take advantage of what he is calling an historic opportunity to work for peace and will call on Arab states to lend support.
Diverting the president's attention, though, from his peace mission, this week's dramatic showdown at sea between the U.S. Navy and Iran's Revolutionary Guard.
Let's turn to our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr. She is joining us now.
There's some very tough talk coming from the president, who is now in Israel, Barbara.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, President Bush drew a line and told the Iranian regime, don't step over it.
STARR (voice-over): President Bush warned Iran to stay away from U.S. Navy warships in the Persian Gulf after Sunday's tense encounter, when five Iranians speed boats harassed three Navy warships in the Strait of Hormuz.
GEORGE BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: All options are on the table to protect our assets.
STARR: There are growing worries at the Pentagon the Iranians may try it again and next time get so close, the U.S. has no option but to shoot them.
BUSH: We have made it clear publicly and they know our position. And that is there will be serious consequences if they attack our ships, pure and simple. And my advice to them is don't do it.
STARR: The U.S. believes Iran was probing Navy defenses -- seeing how close it could get to the ships before the U.S. would react. This latest high stakes game of chicken got even nastier when the Navy received this radio transmission.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am coming to you. You will explode after a few minutes.
STARR: Everyone was on a hair trigger. The Navy had given the shoot to kill order when the Iranians turned away. The speed boats could have reached the Navy in seconds. Iran now says the whole thing was a U.S. fake.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The U.S. believes video of the recent incident between Iranian patrol boats and the U.S. Navy ships is archive footage and the audio is fake.
STARR: The State Department called the Iranian claims ridiculous.
SEAN MCCORMACK, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: We completely dismiss that out of hand.
STARR: U.S. Navy commanders have examined the March incident, when Iran seized 15 British marines and sailors. U.S. commanders have made it clear that it would be war before U.S. sailors would allow themselves to be captured by Iran.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
STARR: Even before this latest incident, Defense Secretary Robert Gates has been reminding his top commanders to keep their troops as far away as possible from Iranian air space or Iranian waters. Gates wants no provocation. Gates wants no incidents where the U.S. might be forced to escalate its firepower -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Thanks very much for that.
Barbara Starr at the Pentagon.
Troubling new tension with Iran.
Let's talk about that and a lot more with CNN senior analyst Jeff Toobin, our own Jack Cafferty and our senior political analyst, Gloria Borger. They're all part of the best political team on television.
You know, this notion of an accidental war while, you know, remote, it's not necessarily out of -- you know, out of the realm of possible.
CAFFERTY: Well, it depends what you mean by war. If those Iranian gun boats are dumb enough to launch some sort of an attack on those giant Navy warships, they'd probably get out of the water.
And what does Iran do after that?
Nothing. So I don't know if there's -- how big a risk there is to a war.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: I think...
CAFFERTY: What there is a risk to is a recession. And that's a lot more dangerous to the people in this country than those little dinghies that these guys are sailing around in in the Strait of Hormuz.
TOOBIN: As a political matter, I think what will resonate more with people is those six American troops dying in Iraq...
TOOBIN: ...than some skirmishing in -- with Iran. I mean that's just a reminder -- a very sad reminder -- that this war isn't over. We've still got troops dying over there. I think that's going to be the story that people remember.
GLORIA BORGER, SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, but I do think you have to take this skirmishing seriously. I mean this isn't something that we're manufacturing, it seems to me.
And if we are not manufacturing it, what happened?
And we're not taking something seriously that -- that we shouldn't be taken seriously.
TOOBIN: No, I'm not saying you shouldn't take it seriously...
BORGER: (INAUDIBLE) I mean...
TOOBIN: But, I mean, it's not going to go anywhere. It's not going to lead to a war, I don' the...
BLITZER: Here's the problem. Here's the problem. Here's the problem. If there's a tension in the Strait of Hormuz -- this little area where so much of the oil flows through -- you think $100 a barrel is expensive...
BLITZER: ...wait until you see the price if that -- the Strait of Hormuz should shut down. Let's hope that doesn't happen.
CAFFERTY: Well, that -- we're a long way from the Strait of Hormuz shutting down...
BLITZER: Yes, right.
BORGER: And then...
CAFFERTY: ...based on this little bit of activity that we're talking about (INAUDIBLE)...
BORGER: But then the political candidates have to get involved in this debate, because that affects the economy, that affects leadership questions...
BORGER: ...foreign policy credentials, just go down the line.
CAFFERTY: I'm just not sure that's the agenda in this country right now. (INAUDIBLE).
TOOBIN: We don't know what the Iranians are up to.
BLITZER: Though, that's the wildcard.
All right, let's -- here's the most intriguing comment that Hillary Clinton made in her victory speech, I thought, last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I want especially to thank New Hampshire. Over the last week, I listened to you, and in the process, I found my own voice.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
What do you think, Jack?
CAFFERTY: I think that's one of the better lines of the entire campaign. I'm not sure exactly...
TOOBIN: Could you just say what it means?
CAFFERTY: I was going to say, I'm not sure exactly...
CAFFERTY: I'm not sure I know what it means.
BORGER: It sounds good.
TOOBIN: It does sound good.
CAFFERTY: But, boy, is it a great line. No, it's a good line. It's a little bit of that humanity thing again that we don't see a lot of out of Hillary and that we saw in the diner on Monday and that I will go to my grave convinced is what drove her to the victory last night.
BORGER: All I can say, Jack, is whoever thought that tearing up would be a really good career move for a woman.
TOOBIN: For a woman.
BORGER: Never. I never thought so. But when you have a robo- candidate and suddenly she shows some humanity -- and there are those people who believe it wasn't real, but I actually do believe it was real -- it actually helped her.
TOOBIN: And there is a sort of wonderful historical circle with -- you know, in the same state where Ed Muskie's career went up in flames because he cried, perhaps Hillary Clinton is being politically resurrected because she misted up. I mean I still a little skeptical about this whole misting up -- the significance of it. But apparently -- I mean the people in her campaign seem to think it's important. Jack Cafferty thinks it's important, so it must be important.
BORGER: I am now...
BORGER: I am now going to cry all the time at the (INAUDIBLE).
CAFFERTY: Oh, I cry around here regularly, but it does absolutely no good.
BLITZER: It hasn't helped your career.
CAFFERTY: Not at all. No.
BLITZER: All right. Don't cry, please.
Stand by, guys. We're going to continue this conversation.
We're going to switch gears and talk a little bit about the Republicans. Their race is wide open in the wake of New Hampshire. We're going to show you why you anything could happen on that front, as well.
Plus, a new sign that the New York City mayor, Michael Bloomberg -- get this -- may be testing the presidential waters. We're going to tell you what he and his staff are up to right now.
Stay with us.
You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: It's a wide open contest on the Republican side right now. It may a brand new ball game -- Jack, what do you make of the McCain -- a dramatic comeback last night. They're moving on to Michigan and South Carolina right now.
CAFFERTY: I -- you know, McCain won in Michigan, wasn't it, in 2000, also. It's terrific. He was expected to win in New Hampshire. He's got his mojo back. He's got his energy back. Mostly, he's got his smile and his sense of humor back -- both of which are terrific we John McCain.
However, that said, he stands firmly behind the president on this war. A lot much people don't like it. And the immigration issue is going to get him at some point. And the big wild card with these Republicans is whether Giuliani's strategy is going to work at all -- and if it does, how much and how does that play into it?
I mean it's a whole...
BLITZER: Because you know a lot of Republicans are not going to forgive him for the comprehensive immigration reform that he worked with Ted Kennedy to push through, including with the White House.
BORGER: Ted Kennedy (INAUDIBLE).
BLITZER: They're not going to forgive him for McCain/Feingold, the campaign finance reform. He worked with Russ Feingold. A lot of Republicans are angry about that kind of stuff.
BORGER: Yes. The one who is the most angry is Mitt Romney. And he's really been hitting him on the immigration issue. And that did work against John McCain, I believe, in New Hampshire. At every town hall I went to with him, the immigration issue came up. And he was actually stunned that it came up so much in a state like Iowa and New Hampshire -- which are not exactly, you know, border states.
And so he knows this is going to affect him in South Carolina. But McCain has a strong organization in South Carolina. Romney is going to keep hitting him, but I think McCain has a better shot...
BLITZER: Those two issues...
BORGER: ...than he did (INAUDIBLE).
BLITZER: ...they help him with moderates and Independents, not necessarily with, you know, core base Republicans.
TOOBIN: They don't. But the calendar shapes up well for McCain, because if he wins in Michigan next week, that, I think, pretty much takes Romney out of the race. Then he goes to South Carolina.
Is Mike Huckabee really going to be major presidential candidate?
Fred Thompson has done absolutely nothing. And that really only leaves Rudolph Giuliani -- who has also done nothing. And then Giuliani has got to win in Florida. If McCain beats Giuliani in Florida, I just don't see where the competition comes.
BLITZER: But there are people who say Mike Huckabee could surprise a lot of us in Michigan...
BLITZER: ...forget about South Carolina.
BLITZER: In Michigan, he could do very well.
CAFFERTY: You know, he's got a little of that -- I hate to do this, but he and Barack Obama have a similar texture as characters in this -- in this political mosaic. There's a human connection Huckabee that shouldn't be underestimated.
The other thing, we don't talk about Ron Paul. Ron Paul is getting 9 percent of the votes.
When he decides to hang it up -- and he will at some point -- where do they go?
Thompson has got nothing to give anybody.
BORGER: They may go to McCain.
BORGER: They may go to McCain...
CAFFERTY: Well, you don't know that.
BORGER: ...because he's the maverick in this race. And they...
BLITZER: But a lot of those Ron Paul supporters hate the war in Iraq...
BLITZER: And McCain is a big proponent of the...
BORGER: But McCain was -- I mean, go figure. McCain, in the exit polls last night, was winning with anti-war Republicans.
Can you explain that to me?
BLITZER: Well, he criticizes Donald Rumsfeld a lot for the initial strategy.
BORGER: I guess so. But there's no more pro- war candidate than John McCain.
TOOBIN: You know, there is an unfortunate aspect of the extremely concentrated schedule.
Did you notice the candidates are hardly talking about issues at all?
TOOBIN: I mean it's all about momentum. And, you know, I really think -- you know, maybe I'm being an issues nerd here, but it would be like -- it would be nice to talk about, you know, what you're going to do about health care and the war, rather than who's misting up. I mean it's just -- and I -- but there isn't time to talk about that.
BORGER: Are you forgetting the year...
CAFFERTY: Some of that...
CAFFERTY: Some of that is our fault.
TOOBIN: Yes, perhaps.
BORGER: Are you forgetting the year leading up to this campaign, though?
I mean we've had a year of issues.
TOOBIN: Well, but who's been paying attention?
BORGER: At least I have.
BLITZER: Nevada is coming up for the Democrats, the caucuses there -- your home state. It's been a while -- it's been a while since you lived there...
BLITZER: But -- and the state has changed a lot over these -- over these years, Jack. But give us a little...
CAFFERTY: Yes. I left...
BLITZER: Give us a little sense of this contest.
CAFFERTY: I left shortly after it was admitted to the Union.
CAFFERTY: Is that where you're going with this?
BLITZER: Las Vegas was barely on the map.
CAFFERTY: It was barely on the map. (CROSSTALK)
CAFFERTY: Yes, I did.
Obama should do well. And the reason I think he'll do well in Nevada he got the endorsement today of the Culinary Workers Union, which is 60,000 members strong out there. Nevada is a very sparsely populated state. That union is the political Democratic muscle in the state. He should win.
BORGER: Can I say now, this is all going to be about where to spend your money, this next part of the campaign. Because they have to figure out -- they've got all these states coming up on Super Tuesday. And they've got to figure out -- both Obama and Clinton and McCain and everybody else -- where they can spend their money on advertising, where it makes sense for them.
Do they spend money in South Carolina?
Do they spend money in Michigan?
And that's what all the strategists are doing today.
TOOBIN: And Super Tuesday is absurdly expensive if you actually -- I mean...
TOOBIN: ...think of California...
BLITZER: It's a national primary. It's a national primary.
TOOBIN: ...New York, Illinois, Atlanta.
BLITZER: No more retail politics.
TOOBIN: I mean, but how do you (INAUDIBLE) advertising?
I mean it's expensive to run a mayor's race in New York City.
TOOBIN: Imagine, you know, a...
TOOBIN: ...as you say, a national primary.
CAFFERTY: The way to do that is you buy CNN, because we reach all those places.
TOOBIN: Good point. CAFFERTY: So you just spend all your money here...
BORGER: That's right.
CAFFERTY: ...and then you don't have to running around the country...
TOOBIN: That's actually...
CAFFERTY: ...buying (INAUDIBLE).
BLITZER: Jack Cafferty with some good strategy for the campaigns.
Jack is going to be back shortly with The Cafferty File.
Thanks very much.
TOOBIN: (INAUDIBLE) a bonus, I think.
BLITZER: Jeff and Gloria, stand by. We've got a special at 8:00 p.m. Eastern. A little bit more than an hour from now you'll be back with me for that -- the best political team on television.
John McCain's win in New Hampshire last night is giving his presidential campaign new life.
So what's next for the Arizona senator?
His entire campaign strategy is laid out online -- yes, online.
Let's bring in our Internet reporter, Abbi Tatton.
So what is McCain's plan -- Abbi.
ABBI TATTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, it was a month ago that the McCain team put their whole plan on YouTube, predicting that Mike Huckabee would win in Iowa and that in New Hampshire, McCain would go on to win there. Well, they got that right.
So what's next?
In terms of this strategy update, saying that this is the crucial time for building momentum and for getting in online donations. And you saw them at that right out of the gate last night with this fundraising e-mail, that said "donate now -- donate before you even go to bed."
Now, John McCain and online fundraising -- that's something that the senator knows something about. Eight years ago, during his presidential bid back in 2000, at this stage in the race, he used the Web successfully to bring in cash. And eight years on, he's at it again -- Wolf. BLITZER: Abbi, thank you.
John McCain's wife Cindy is speaking out about her husband's major comeback in New Hampshire and her campaign to be the first lady. She's speaking with our John King. That's coming up.
And what will ultimately decide the , of the battle between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton?
That's our question this hour.
Jack Cafferty and The Cafferty File. Your e-mail coming up right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Lou Dobbs is getting ready for his show, that begins at the top of the hour.
He's standing by to give us a little preview -- hi, Lou.
LOU DOBBS, HOST, "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT": Wolf, hi.
Coming up at the top of the hour, much more on the aftermath of the New Hampshire primary. The candidates' strategies, the absence of serious discussion of the huge challenges facing this country.
Why is that?
We'll be looking into it.
And we're reporting on a Supreme Court battle over the nation's toughest law on voter identification. A law designed to prevent election fraud in the State of Indiana, it could have national implications. Incredibly, Democrats and special interests say that law is not a good idea. We'll have complete coverage and a debate.
Also, increasing fury at the greed -- in some cases, outright fraud in our financial institutions -- at the center of the nation's mortgage crisis. We'll have the special report in War on the Middle Class.
And compelling new evidence that Mexican troops and police are intentionally crossing our southern border, threatening American sovereignty.
And what is the Bush administration doing about that?
Why, nothing. We'll tell you why and what should be done next.
Please join us at 7:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN for all of that, all the day's news and much more -- Wolf, back to you.
BLITZER: Lou, thanks very much.
Lou Dobbs coming up in a few moments. John McCain celebrated his comeback victory in New Hampshire with his wife Cindy at his side. This is the second presidential campaign they've been through together. And this one, in particular, has been a roller coaster.
Cindy McCain spoke with our chief national correspondent, John King.
John is joining us now live from Michigan.
She must be pretty excited right now -- John.
JOHN KING, CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A little tired, Wolf, but very excited. High spirits across the McCain campaign -- the senator himself, his wife Cindy. You mentioned I sat down with her earlier today. She's been off the campaign trail quite a bit this year because of knee replacement surgery.
But she was in very good spirits when we talked today. And one of the things we talked about was the senator's superstitions. He thinks he's luckier when it's raining. He carries around a nickel he found heads-up once in Columbia, South Carolina. And those superstitions, she told us, carried over as Senator McCain waited for New Hampshire's verdict last night.
CINDY MCCAIN, WIFE OF JOHN MCCAIN: You know, I think a lot of it comes from just his years in the Navy. And it's just -- I've never known him not to be superstitious. And it's -- it's actually kind of fun. But that, you know, the hotel was where we were in 2000 -- the room where we gave a speech last night was what we -- the room we were in in 2000.
So there's a lot of -- of coming back and kind of enjoying that, too.
KING: And what's your sense now, when have you this high -- and you've been at the high before coming out of New Hampshire with a win?
You mentioned you're superstitious, both of you.
What goes on in the back of your mind to say OK, we've been up here before, but we have also fallen from here?
MCCAIN: You know, the -- it's -- I'm glad you said that, because, really, what we both learned from 2000 -- and it's an old saying that my husband takes from the Navy -- is you keep a steady strain. Last night was great. And it was -- you know, it was a wonderful night. But this race has a long ways to go. So he reminded me last night, remember we've to keep a steady strain, keep an even keel and just go on and do what we do and not get too high or too low.
KING: Actually, the last thing about you.
MCCAIN: Um-hmm. KING: There are times people say, well, she's doing this because she has to, she doesn't really seem to enjoy it.
A, do you?
And, B, if your husband successful and you're the first lady of the United States, what would Cindy McCain's be?
MCCAIN: Number one, once I made the commitment to do it, I support him 100 percent. I do enjoy it. I mean things like this -- how could you not enjoy a like this or a night like last night?
Now, there are clearly some times I don't like the long days that -- you know, the bad food, all that kind of stuff.
But I do like it. I do. And I love what John does.
For myself, I will continue doing what I've been doing all along -- and those are promoting the issues that are most important to me around the world. I've been internationally involved in many, many things -- land mine removal, children's health care, poverty around the world. And I will continue that plus, add, hopefully, an encouragement and a process of allowing and enabling people to get involved themselves, both locally and internationally. I want to encourage everyone to get off the sofa on Saturday and come out and join me and get involved.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
KING: Unlike some of us, Wolf, Cindy McCain says she's losing weight on the campaign trail because she stays away from all that bad food. She also says the senator and she have talked several times about how, at age 71, can he truly be a candidate who goes off into to a general election and say he's the candidate of change?
And she says he is convinced absolutely that he can -- Wolf.
BLITZER: And she's a very nice woman, indeed.
All right, thanks very much.
John reporting for us from Grand Rapids in Michigan.
Jack Cafferty is joining us with The Cafferty File.
CAFFERTY: This might be the single biggest question of this whole presidential election -- what will ultimately decide the , now in the battle between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton?
David writes from Newman, Georgia: "The deciding factor between Clinton and Obama is quite simple -- Edwards. He's taking votes from Obama. He can't win and the longer he stays in the race, the more likely it is that Clinton will win."
Chell writes: "The younger generation will be the factor between these two candidates. Barack Obama can't win without those under 35 showing up at the polling booths and Hillary cannot win if we vote. This is the election that will remind those under 40 that our votes do count -- but only if we cast them."
Adam in Oregon: "My wife will decide. In other words, women will. Right now, my wife is leaning toward Clinton, but she's still on the fence. I'll vote how she votes, because she voted for Gore and I made the mistake of voting for Bush in 2000 -- and I've yet to live it down. And the only way to get that monkey off my back is to vote for the candidate of her choice."
Andrew in Toronto: "Obama must emulate Hillary's substance and command of the issues. Hillary must emulate Obama's charisma and skills as a communicator. The extent to which one will more thoroughly master the other's strengths will determine the victor."
Mike writes: "The question is too difficult. One thing is clear, however, as the Democratic contest wears on and support for Obama and Clinton become more entrenched, as well as invigorated, it would be suicide for one not to select the other as a running mate. You won't unite the country and win the election if you don't unite the party first."
And Mike writes: "I hope when Hillary says she's found her voice that she means she's told Bill to shut up."
BLITZER: You know, that e-mail you got, I can't tell you how many Democrats are saying to me, in recent days, a Clinton/Obama -- Obama/Clinton ticket -- that would really energize that Democratic Party. A lot of Independents, a lot of moderates out there -- and they would be very, very excited.
CAFFERTY: And unlike Democratic primaries in years past, these two camps like each other. So there's possible synergy there down the road.
BLITZER: I'm not sure all of those strategists...
CAFFERTY: No, no, but...
BLITZER: ...like each other but...
CAFFERTY: No, no. But they can coexist. They get along. Democrats have a tendency in the history of not being able to do that. You look back at Edward Kennedy's campaign, for example.
CAFFERTY: But the Clinton people don't mind Obama and the Obama people don't mind Clinton. Yes, they're fighting each other tooth and nail right now. But when the dust settles, they'll probably team up and it might work out fine.
BLITZER: The Cafferty File, CNN.com.
You know, I've got a new blog on CNNPolitics.
CAFFERTY: No -- is that?
I didn't know that.
Tell me about it.
BLITZER: I've written it, the second day in a row.
Are you getting a lot of responses?
BLITZER: You'll have to read it.
CAFFERTY: Well, that's what I'm going to do now.
CAFFERTY: I'm on my way.
I'm going now.
BLITZER: Go. Go.
CAFFERTY: I am.
BLITZER: All right, bye.
CAFFERTY: Have a nice day. BLITZER: He may be testing the waters in all 50 states. There's a new report that's just coming out right now that the New York mayor, Michael Bloomberg, has been very busy analyzing voting patterns.
Is he rethinking his rejection of a third party bid?
Stay with us.
You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: On our Political Ticker, a new report tonight that the New York mayor, Michael Bloomberg, is quietly gauging support for an Independent presidential bid. The Associated Press reporting that Bloomberg is conducting polling and doing highly sophisticated voter analysis in all 50 states. The report suggests Bloomberg is seriously mulling a campaign, despite repeated denials that he's planning to run.
Republican Mike Huckabee is appealing to voters' economic insecurities in Michigan. He's running a new TV ad in the first primary -- in the next primary state that focuses in on lost jobs, the credit crunch and high fuel costs. It includes a veiled slap at Mitt Romney, saying Americans don't want a president who reminds them of the guy who laid them off.
Remember, for the latest Political Ticker, go to CNNPolitics.com.
I'll be back in one hour, 8:00 p.m. Eastern, for a CNN election special. That's coming up at 8:00.
Let's go to Lou right now here in New York -- Lou.
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