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Battle for the Potomac; What Are Superdelegates?

Aired February 11, 2008 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, the night before crucial primaries for Hillary Clinton in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. she is shaking up her staff, and, as you will see tonight, bracing for a rough day tomorrow.
Also the battle for Democratic superdelegates, it is heating up tonight. What are they? Who are they? And how might they change the entire outcome of this incredibly close campaign?

We will also look tonight at Mike Huckabee, low on money, but everywhere on TV. You saw him on Larry a few moments ago -- why he's staying in the race, and which reason don't mind he may be making things awkward for John McCain.

All that ahead, but we begin with the candidates on the campaign trail.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What hope is, Baltimore. That's what hope is.


COOPER: Barack Obama again drawing rock star crowds in Baltimore today, earlier in College Park, Maryland, where upwards of 18,000 people packed the basketball arena there to hear his message.

New polling shootings him out in front by healthy margins in all three Potomac primaries.

Senator Clinton, meantime, did a little retail-level campaigning, a more up-close-and-personal gathering, meeting with members of a group called the National Council of Negro Women in D.C. Earlier, she told a local radio station she did not fire her campaign manager, Patti Solis Doyle, over the weekend. She says Ms. Doyle decided on her own to step aside.

The likely Republican nominee got a blast from his past, John McCain sharing the stage in Richmond, Virginia, with the fighter bomber much like the one he flew during the Vietnam War.

And Mike Huckabee playing the red state blues in rural Virginia. He is nearly eliminated from a chance at the nomination, but he is still rocking out and says the campaign is rolling on.

That said, anything that happens on the GOP side from here on out probably won't change the outcome, though, as you will see a little bit later on, there is plenty of concern that, the longer Governor Huckabee stays in the race, the worse it makes John McCain look for November.

The real excitement is on the Democratic side, where the outcome is uncertain, but, for the moment, at least, Barack Obama is riding pretty high.

Here's CNN's Candy Crowley.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It looks like we're having March madness a little early.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Working off the adrenaline of a clean-sweep weekend and the possibility of a Tuesday trifecta, Barack Obama pounded through Maryland arguing his issues and his electability.

OBAMA: I am happy to have a debate with John McCain, because we are the party of tomorrow. He's the party of yesterday.


OBAMA: He is the past. We are the future. That's an argument I want to have with the Republican Party, not to mention -- not to mention, I want to attract some Republicans into the fold.

CROWLEY: One hundred and sixty-eight delegates are at stake Tuesday in the Potomac primary, Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. All have sizable African-American populations, as well as significant numbers of affluent, highly-educated white voters, the so- called latte liberals. Obama has significant candidate leads in the state polls.

With the possibilities of tomorrow and the realities of those weekend caucus victories in Washington state, Nebraska, Maine, and the Virgin Islands, as well as a win in the Louisiana primary, the momentum is all his at the moment. But she is having none of it.

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Let's have the elections. Instead of talking about them and pontificating or punditing about them, let's let people actually vote.

CROWLEY: Still, it's not going the way they thought it would, proof of which came in the midst of her winless weekend, when Hillary Clinton threw her campaign manager overboard for a new one, while today dissing Obama's shutout.

CLINTON: In the case of Louisiana, you know, a very strong and very proud African-American electorate which I totally respect and understand and would expect that, you know, by the fall we would be united and going forward to victory against the Republicans.

You know my sense of caucus states. They are primarily dominated by activists. They don't represent the electorate. We know that. As I said, my husband never did well in caucus states either. So, it doesn't surprise me. It doesn't affect me one way or the other.

CROWLEY: Her strategists look to early March primaries to get Clinton back on her game. Ohio and Texas are delegate-rich states full of the working-class Democrats who have fuelled her campaign.

But many of those close to the Clinton campaign say she needs a win sooner to prevent him from running away with it. Conceding she's not likely to win any of tomorrow's contests, they look to next week's primary in Wisconsin. Barack Obama will be there tomorrow night.


CROWLEY: Hillary Clinton will head for Texas, as her campaign reminds everybody that, while he may have the momentum, so far, she leads in delegates -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Candy, we're going to have more with you in a moment.

But, first, let's take a look at the map and, if the past few weeks are any guide, how these states could stack up for each candidate.

With that, CNN's Tom Foreman breaks it down.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Three weeks, that's it. If Obama or Clinton is going to clinch this nomination, he or she must do so in these states over the next 21 days, tomorrow, the Potomac primaries, Virginia, Maryland, Washington, D.C. right in the middle, lots of black voters, young voters, higher-income and higher-education Democrats, likely Obama turf.

A week from tomorrow, Hawaii and Washington, these are odd states politically that combine caucuses and primaries, but Obama is very strong in Washington. And Wisconsin next week as well, Clinton appeared to be doing well there, but Wisconsin often falls under the spell of reformers, like Obama.

Then, March 4, this is the day that camp Clinton is waiting on, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Ohio and Texas, two states with huge delegate loads that are being called her firewall against this Obama surge. Texas has lots of Latino voters, who are very fond of Clinton. They believe she will support them on immigration issues. California proved that. And Ohio has lots of lower income-white voters, who like her.

But here is a caution. Maine has a population like that, too, and it's in her backyard, and Obama, surprisingly, took it from her this weekend. Maybe it means nothing, or maybe it's a sign of how much heat is headed toward that fire wall -- Anderson.

(END VIDEOTAPE) COOPER: Tom, thanks very much.

March 4, that is a long wait for the Clinton campaign if the Obama machine keeps racking up victories.

Joining me now for the "Raw Politics" once again, here's CNN's Candy Crowley and John King, former Mitt Romney adviser Bay Buchanan, and CNN contributor Roland Martin.

It's good to have you all with us.

Candy, what is the first order of business for Hillary Clinton's new campaign manager, Maggie Williams. I mean, what did they think they need to fix?

CROWLEY: Well, you know, first of all, Maggie Williams has kind of been in there, semi in this role, since New Hampshire, since after that Iowa loss. So, she is not a new face there, not likely to make big changes.

I can tell you what they think the problem is. First of all, they do believe that there have been too many messages. It sort of started out as Hillary Clinton the inevitable. And then it went to Hillary Clinton the most experienced. And then there was a little the Hillary Clinton I know, the softer side.

Then there was a change with experience. So, there really hasn't been sort of one message to push forward. Remember, Barack Obama, it has been about change from the get-go.

The other thing, obviously, is finances. We are told that it came as a bit of surprise, or it came a little too late, when Hillary Clinton learned that the campaign was in some financial difficulty, which really required her writing that $5 million check. Now, they say that's righted itself. They have pulled a lot of money off the Internet.

And that's the other thing that some insiders have complained about, that there really wasn't a full-force effort to use the Internet as a fund-raising tool -- Anderson.

COOPER: John King, it doesn't sound like they're bringing in new faces, then, or really any, perhaps, new ideas.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And, Anderson, that has been one of the criticisms. There are some Democrats now comparing the Clinton campaign to the George W. Bush operation early on, saying that George W. Bush came to town, surrounded himself with a bunch of Texans, who nodded and said, yes, sir, and didn't bring any outside opinion.

And, now, I was just exchanging some e-mails with a top Clinton adviser who says that's not fair when it comes to Maggie Williams, in that, yes, she's a Hillary Clinton insider, yes, she knows all these other people very well. But they say, among them, Maggie Williams is more open to outside ideas and is willing to speak up and challenge Senator Clinton if she thinks she's wrong.

But that has been one of the long criticisms, that her team is a very insular team, that they essentially form a circle, and are impervious to outside advice.

And to Candy's point about the messages, they are -- that is one of the criticisms that many Democrats have been saying for some time. And look for Senator Clinton now to do something President Clinton used to do when he was in trouble. Her message will be: This is not about me. Don't let them make it about me. This is about you. Who will get you universal health care? Who do you trust to improve the schools?

She will go back to an old Clinton campaign tactic, if you will, to try to more personalize it with the voters.

COOPER: Roland, earlier we heard Senator Clinton saying something which she has said a lot about these caucus states, that caucuses favor Barack Obama, that, as party insiders, they don't represent the rank and file.

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I don't understand that, because, at the outset of this campaign, she was known as haven't this vaunted machine, in terms of a ground game.

She had troops. She had union endorsements. She had all these folks in the various places, like in Nevada, where she had the son of Harry Reid was running her operation.

Now, it's interesting. She appreciated the caucus in Nevada, but, all of a sudden, she doesn't like the other ones. I think she has to deal with that. And, also, I think to be so dismissive of the other states is also offensive, to say, well, you know, I know he won those, but they really don't count, they really don't matter, because, well, I want to focus on the big states.

She really can't come across as being a big-state Democrat, ignoring small states, if she wants to have -- or reach across the aisle, if she actually wins.

COOPER: Bay Buchanan, as a Republican looking in on the Democratic process, as you see Hillary Clinton putting different people in different spots, talking about trying to come up with, obviously, more money, what do you make of it?

BAY BUCHANAN, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN CAUSE: You know, I found it interesting, what you were just commenting on, the caucuses vs. the primary.

It's clear the caucuses is something that those of us who have been out there working this know very well. You have got -- the energy, the excitement, the grassroots, the issue-oriented individuals, they come to the caucuses no matter what. And that's what Barack is winning. He's winning the real heart and soul, if you like. It was Mitt Romney won most of the caucuses on our side. And John McCain is -- had no trouble, been -- had no trouble -- no luck whatsoever with caucuses.

And, so, I think what you're seeing here is, you see that the energy is behind Barack, and that's why he's got those ground troops, and he's going to have them in every single caucus. And...

COOPER: So, you don't buy this whole caucuses don't represent the people; you say, actually, caucuses are the heart and soul?

BUCHANAN: Absolutely. It's -- it's the real -- it's the real base of your party. It's the fellows that are going to go there no matter what. It's like the pro-lifers on the Republican side. You know, they're just going to go out there. They're going to be there. They're going to find that pro-life candidate and they're going to vote for them no matter what.

And that's what I think Barack has. He's got some real energy behind him. And the people are going to be there. No matter what happens, they're going to keep coming back for Barack. I think Hillary's going to have her -- an uphill battle here.

COOPER: We are going to talk more with Bay and John and Candy and Roland in a minute.

I'm also live blogging tonight. You can join the conversation at

Up next: the lowdown on the nearly 800 Democratic delegates who could swing the race, even though nobody elected them at all, the superdelegates.


COOPER (voice-over): You know the Super Bowl. You know Superman.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Look, up in the sky, it's a bird.



COOPER: So, what the heck is a superdelegate? Here's a hint. They have got the power to undo what you did in the voting booth. Find out how and who they are tonight.

Also tonight, Mike Huckabee, not just down, almost mathematically out.

MIKE HUCKABEE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Folks, I didn't major in math. I majored in miracles.

COOPER: Just one problem: See how his quest for a miracle could be a disaster in November for John McCain -- ahead on 360.




CHELSEA CLINTON, DAUGHTER OF BILL AND HILLARY CLINTON: I don't think you should vote for my mom because of my father. I don't think you should vote against her because of my father. But how would she be different? On so many fronts. I mean, we were talking about fiscal responsibility. My mother is more fiscally conservative than my father, and certainly this president.


COOPER: In case you're having a tough time placing the voice, because, chances are, you are hearing it for the first time, that is Chelsea Clinton in Milwaukee today campaigning, of course, for her mom.

Back with us now, Candy Crowley, John King, Bay Buchanan, and Roland Martin.

Candy, Senator Obama could very well sweep tomorrow's primaries. How does Hillary Clinton rebound from that, if that happens? I mean, what -- what are they talking about trying to do to -- do they feel they need to recapture the momentum? Do they feel they're losing momentum?

CROWLEY: They -- they feel, at least, if not recapture the momentum, they need to stop his, which is slightly different. They're looking to Wisconsin.

They're saying, you know, right now, they have a lead in most of the polls up there. It would at least slow him down, so that she had a win to talk about, as opposed to this string of wins that have come since Super Tuesday. So, that's their sort of immediate goal.

In between, they are talking to reporters, and she is talking to voters, saying, hang on a second. Let's talk about who is best able to beat John McCain, who both Democrats believe will be their Republican opponent.

So, she is talking about electability on the stump. Her campaign is talking to reporters, listing all the reasons why she's the one that can win. And they're looking toward Wisconsin, hoping that that will be the place that they can kind of slow him down.

COOPER: Roland Martin, the -- the people who call themselves political experts look at Wisconsin and they say, a lot of working- class white voters. Obama hasn't particularly done strong with those group of voters. What does he have to do to turn things around with them? I mean, can he expand his reach into that population?

MARTIN: First and foremost, he has the endorsement of the Wisconsin governor. That is critical. Milwaukee also is huge. Meanwhile, Wisconsin is very close to Illinois, so he is going to be able to have all of his ground troops from Illinois go into Wisconsin to be able to get the word out there.

But there is no doubt that he has to be able to peel away her support among low- to middle-income voters. He's debuting a new ad talking about his mother and her whole issue with breast cancer and how she was facing the problems with health care. That's one of the ways he is doing it. He's also likely going to trumpet his whole community organizing.

For her, she also has to appeal to African-American in Wisconsin -- excuse me -- in Milwaukee. That's going to be critical. So, they have strength and weaknesses they're going to be trying to pull from each other. But he has to talk to them and convince them that: I am your I guy. I can get you over the hump.

Hopefully, the governor and his support team in Wisconsin can help him in that area.

COOPER: John, let's turn to the Republicans. Today, John McCain won the endorsement of Gary Bauer, a prominent social conservative activist. Is that a sign that -- that some conservatives, at least, have started to -- to try to rally around John McCain?

KING: There is...

COOPER: Obviously, Dr. Dobson says, no way, never.

KING: Dr. Dobson says, no way, never. Some others say, no way, at least not for now.

But, for the most part, Anderson, the majority of elected conservatives and the leaders of conservative organizations are beginning a rally-around-McCain movement. It is very slow. In some cases, it is very tentative. They are confronting the mathematical reality that John McCain is likely, all but certain to be the Republican nominee.

And those who expect that say, if we're going to influence him heading into the controversy, it is time to get on board. You see Gary Bauer, who ran for president himself eight years ago, a prominent anti-abortion, pro-life, pro-family activist. Senator John Cornyn of Texas, somebody who had a shouting match with John McCain during the immigration debate not that long ago, endorsed him this week.

So, yes, there is a rally-around-McCain movement beginning, but both sides need to still feel each other out as this goes forward. But they sense this -- any Republican will tell you, they sense this is almost inevitable. And this is what happens. It's not always happy, though.

COOPER: Bay, what about that? Is this almost inevitable?

BUCHANAN: Oh, I think -- I think it's quite clear that John McCain is going to be the nominee. I don't see any way that Huckabee can pull this off.

But the key is -- the conservative leaders, I think they will be going and be endorsing. But the grassroots is out there. I cannot tell you, I have e-mail after e-mail and phone calls. I run -- I go to functions on the weekend. I don't know anyone that says they're going to vote right now for John McCain. They are just -- there's real resistance. They're not ready to say yes.

COOPER: So, are they saying they're just not -- are they saying they're not going to vote? I mean, I was talking to Glenn Beck about this the other night on the air.

And he says: Look, I want to -- I'm standing for my principles, I can't vote for John McCain.

He's not saying he's going to vote for Senator Clinton, as some others have said.

BUCHANAN: Obviously.

COOPER: But, I mean, do you really think it's just not going to -- people just aren't going to go to the polls on the -- on the conservative side?


I think what his concern is, is will they be going out with the kind of numbers they need to? Will the base be out there really revved up to be at real high numbers that you're going to need in a close general election?

And, secondly, there's going to be many that go out that might write somebody in or just take care of the congressman -- vote for the congressman and just skip the presidential. There -- you know, he's going to pick up, I think, most of the pro-lifers, the social conservatives, because he will make a commitment on the judges.

His real problem, I think, is with the amnesty conservatives, those that have been fighting against amnesty. He's the Darth Vader for them. I mean, he's the one guy that they really targeted and have enormous animosity toward, because he really does represent the other side. He's their Darth Vader, if you like.

And I don't think they are going to -- they're going to be voting for him in the numbers he needs.

COOPER: Well, we're going to have more from -- from this team, from Bay, and Roland, and John, and Candy.

Whoever wins the White House in November is going to face some extreme challenges once he or she takes office.

In the next hour of 360, about 40 minutes from now, we're going to dig deeper into what those challenges really are, including, of course, Iraq.

Here's a preview.


FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN WORLD AFFAIRS ANALYST: Is our involvement in Iraq going to be a long-term one or not? Everything stems from that, because, if you decide we're going to be in Iraq for 30 years, not the next three years, then you have a particular plan.

You try to figure out a way in which you can get your forces down to a manageable level, maybe 40,000, 50,000, set up some kind of bases, even though we will never call them permanent bases. But, if you don't want to do that, then you have to solve the political problem of Iraq right now, soon to get out.


COOPER: Fareed Zakaria, David Gergen. Our special report, "Extreme Challenges: The Next Four Years," is just ahead, starting at the top of the hour.

A CNN exclusive coming up: Michelle Obama one-on-one.

But, first, here's Gary Tuchman with a 360 bulletin -- Gary.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, the Pentagon will seek the death penalty for six detainees at Guantanamo Bay, charged in connection with the September 11 attacks. They include the alleged mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who was arrested in Pakistan nearly five years ago.

International Falls, Minnesota, a record chill, take temperature falling to 40 degrees below zero today. Chilly air also spread to the Northeastern United States.

Yahoo! has rejected a takeover bid from Microsoft worth nearly $45 billion, saying it was too low. Microsoft called the bid full and fair, but it seems determined, saying it's prepared to pursue all necessary steps to get the deal done.

And the race goes on. Argentina and Chile will host the 2009 Dakar Rally, which was canceled for the first time because of terrorism fears in North Africa -- Anderson, back to you.

COOPER: Gary, thanks very much.

Two little brothers becoming big stars on the Internet. I don't know if you have seen this video. Well, you have got to stick around. It is just -- it is really charming, to say the least. We will have the video that everyone's talking about.

Also tonight: the "Raw Politics" of the superdelegates, the Democratic Party's VIPs, how they're making a huge impact in the '08 race. And exactly who are these people? -- when 360 continues.



FRAN DRESCHER, ACTRESS: From the Time Warner Center in New York City, this is ANDERSON COOPER 360.

And now here's Anderson.



COOPER: Yes, I don't think NBC News would have Fran Drescher as their announcer. They picked Michael Douglas. Fran Drescher auditioned for us. We were -- she's been our top choice, frankly, for a long, long time. Her voice has such a nice lilt to it, we think -- the latest voice of a 360 candidate.

The competition is fierce. We have already had Ozzy Osbourne. We're going to debut another candidate later this week. Let us know what you think at our Web page,

Gary, now our segment "What Were They Thinking?"

We take all comers in this part of the program. Sometimes, it's criminals doing idiotic things. Sometimes, it's daredevils doing outrageous things. Tonight, different -- it's different. It's simpler. It's much more innocent.

If you put your finger in someone's mouth and they bite it, then you do it again, the question is, what were you thinking?



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Charlie. Charlie bit me.

Ow. Oh. Ouch. Ouch. Ouch! Charlie, ow!

Charlie, that really hurts.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Charlie bit me.



COOPER: Are those not, like, the cutest kids on the planet?

TUCHMAN: Those are cute kids, Anderson. That looks just like my house, but my kids are teenagers now. So, it's very similar.

COOPER: I like the range of emotion that went through, like, both of their faces, like from joy, horror, to sadness, to tears, to laughter again. It's a -- it's a great video. It's making the rounds on YouTube. It is tonight's "What Were They Thinking?"

A lot more ahead in this hour.

We should just give some advice, I think, to Harry to stay away from Charlie's teeth in the future.

Let's take a look at what John Roberts has coming up tomorrow on "AMERICAN MORNING."



Wake up to the most news in the morning, primary morning in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. We're also checking out something new in California, a vending machine, not for soda or candy, but medical marijuana. How does it work? And is it legal?

We will show you tomorrow on "AMERICAN MORNING," beginning at 6:00 a.m. Eastern -- Anderson.


COOPER: Up next: There are hundreds of them, and they could have the power to pick the Democratic nominee. But what exactly is a superdelegate? How do you get to be one? Who are these people? And why do they even exist? We're going to break it down for you.

Also ahead tonight, the woman Barack Obama calls his rock, Michelle Obama in her own words -- coming up.


COOPER: While Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama prepare for their next public battles tomorrow, they're also locked in another battle behind the scenes over superdelegates.

Just a few weeks ago, superdelegates seemed super arcane to most of us, but now they're at the center of a raging debate over who exactly will choose the party's nominee.

Now, despite record turnouts, it might not be the voters.

Once again, here's CNN's Tom Foreman.


FOREMAN (voice-over): One person, one vote? Not in the Democratic primaries, where the superdelegates are looming large.

TOM DASCHLE (D), FORMER SENATE MINORITY LEADER: And they won't swing as a block, but the way they swing could make a huge difference, given their numbers and given who we're talking about, people with great respect within the party. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "SUPERMAN II")

TERENCE STAMP, ACTOR: Is there no one on this plant to even challenge me?


FOREMAN: Like Superman, superdelegates have powers that far outstrip those of the delegates elected by voters. There are nearly 800 superdelegates, members of Congress, governors, party leaders.

And, at the convention, they can vote for whomever they wish. That means, in Illinois, which has 32 superdelegates, each one's vote will count as much as the combined votes of 13,000 regular Democrats. That rankles even some superdelegates, who say voters, not party bosses, should decide the race.

SAM SPENCER, MAINE SUPERDELEGATE: I think they're the best people to make the decision. I think superdelegates are somewhat outdated and that it's not the most democratic way of doing things.

FOREMAN (on camera): Some party leaders say the superdelegate system is a reasonable way of avoiding a deadlock in a tight race. But some voters say on talk radio and on blogs that they will skip the election or even vote Republican if the supers decide.

(voice-over): Others are suggesting superdelegates should mirror the voter preferences in their home state. But whether such a deal is worked out or not, right now, the race is heading down to the wire, where the superdelegates are waiting.

Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.


COOPER: Let's talk about superdelegates.

CNN's Candy Crowley joins me, John King, and Republican analyst and former senior adviser to Mitt Romney Bay Buchanan, as well as CNN contributor Roland Martin.

Roland, in terms of -- of superdelegates, who do you think has the upper hand, Clinton or Obama?

MARTIN: You know what? Everybody has talked all this time that Clinton has the upper hand because she has institutional power, because of her husband, because the Clintons pretty much have a lot of their people within the DNC infrastructure.

But I think it's very difficult to tell right now. Nearly two- thirds are undecided as to where they're going to, and I think as this whole issue of momentum. If they look at these states, she's going to make the argument, "I can win the big states."

He's going to make the argument, "I've won more states; I'm more of a national Democrat." It might boil down to that. COOPER: Candy, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama both lobbying John Edwards for his endorsement. I think Clinton met with him last week. Barack Obama says there's a meeting in the works.

Does either candidate have an edge? I mean, it seems hard to imagine that Edwards would endorse Hillary Clinton after calling her the status quo candidate.

CROWLEY: Well, you know, there's a couple of things on the Clinton side for John Edwards, is likes her health care plan. It covers everybody. It mirrors his, really. He put his out first, but they're virtually identical.

But you're right. The downside of that is he sees her as more of the same.

On the other side is just the reverse. There are some policies -- problems with Barack Obama, in particular, health care. But, you know, there's also this -- the big overriding thing, which is what many Democrats are now beginning to focus on, and in fact what these candidates are focusing on is, who can win in November?

And that really is a big part of John Edwards' choice, if in fact he makes one. Because we are talking to people that say, you know, he may stay out of it. He not only has not decided on who. He hasn't decided on whether.

COOPER: Interesting. John, let's talk about Florida and Michigan. Obviously, they were stripped of their delegates for not abiding by the DNC primary calendar. Now there's this movement underway to reverse that decision, I guess, led by the Clintons. What is at stake here?

J. KING: Well, Anderson, this could be the question that takes the super delegates off the table, if you will. Before the super delegates will get a chance to decide it -- and most of them don't want that power, mind you -- the party would have to decide what to do about Florida and Michigan. Now, they broke the rules by moving up their primary. Therefore, they have no delegates with any power at the convention right now.

The question facing the party is, if you have this close contest and nobody has the majority near the end of the primaries, does the chairman, Howard Dean, decide to try to have a new process, ask Florida or Michigan to hold a caucus? Most are considered too expensive, too late to organize another primary, but would you have a caucus? Would you try to find some way to seat their delegates?

Now Senator Clinton quote, unquote, "won" Michigan and Florida, so she would love the delegates seated. And she would like them seated under the proportions by which she won. But that is not going to happen.

But this could end up in the courts. It could end up being a big protracted legal fight. That could divide the party as much as the question of should the super delegates divide in the end? It is one of the pressing issues on Chairman Howard Dean's plate right now.

COOPER: Bay Buchanan, if this Clinton-Obama stalemate goes all the way to convention, if it makes it that far, does one candidate have more to lose from another -- from a brokered convention scenario?

BUCHANAN: This is too beautiful, Anderson, for Republicans to believe, to be quite honest. These super delegates are just a super mistake of the Democrats. You know, you go in there, I guarantee you, everybody knows the kind of deals, the back-room deals the Clintons have made. And they twist the arms and anything can happen. They're going to be selling national parks to get these delegates.

COOPER: Wait a minute. Doesn't everyone -- in all fairness, doesn't everyone do back room deals? I mean, these are politicians, after all.

BUCHANAN: It doesn't matter. Perception is reality. And if Clinton comes out of this thing and wins, Barack's people are going to be outraged. They're going to think they were cheated, and that place is going to implode. And I guarantee you, McCain could win the black vote in this country. It's going to be a beautiful day.

MARTIN: Well, you know what, Anderson, I'll tell you. We're laughing about that, but let me tell you. It's a very interesting, the reaction on my radio show and blog on, African- Americans who are saying that they have been outraged in terms of how -- you know, the perceived slights from the Clinton campaign.

And so when Bay makes that point about African-Americans, here's the key. They're not going to go in droves to the GOP. But the question for the Democrats is if they stay home. The same issue as conservatives. If they stay home, that is the concern.

A shift, literally a shift of 5 percent, just 5 percent, could doom the Democrats. That's how significant the black vote is. And so if Senator Clinton is the nominee, she needs that coalition. With 44 percent negatives, she can't afford...

COOPER: John King, there was an article. I think it was Frank Rich who wrote this weekend a very critical article about Senator Clinton, I guess editorial, really, or op-ed. He was kind of alleging that she's written off the African-American vote, that in her televised thing she didn't have any questions from African-American viewers.

And that was a calculated decision, that -- well, Barack Obama has the African-American vote, he's up in the 80th percentile in some of these states. Is there any truth to that, or is there any evidence of that?

J. KING: No, the Clintons know to be elected president as a Democrat in this country you need a high African-American turnout, Roland's exactly right.

Does she understand in the short term that she is going to be in the -- having a huge deficit in the African-American community? Yes, she does. But she has her own African-American council of senior people. Many of them are former elected officials or former elected officials. They are not slouches in their own communities.

Right now Barack Obama is doing better in that community. But Senator Clinton knows in the short term, look, both of these Democratic candidates in this stalemate have the same challenge, if you will, to reach into the other's base. She needs to do better among African-Americans. As Roland was saying earlier, he has to somehow convince lunch bucket blue-collar Democrats that he is one of them and he understands their concerns.

By no means can she write off the African-American vote today, and tomorrow in the primaries, and if she is the nominee and if she is perceived as writing it off, then she will not win the general election.

COOPER: We've got to leave it there. Roland, Bay, Candy, John, thank you very much. Interesting discussion all evening long.

Super Tuesday was nearly a week ago. They are still counting votes in New Mexico. Still. Here's the raw data: 227 volunteers are working 16 hours a day in shifts to determine whether or not Senator Clinton or Obama actually won the state. They're deciding whether more than 17,000 provisional ballots are even valid. Not counting them, Senator Clinton leads by 1,066 votes out of about 154,000 ballots cast.

The count is going to determine, of course, how many of New Mexico's 26 delegates will be portioned out. Either way, it is going to be close.

Senators Clinton and Obama are going to face off in a debate next week hosted by CNN and Univision, and the Texas Democratic Party. Happens next Thursday, February 21, at the LBJ Auditorium, the University of Texas in Austin. Watch it live on CNN, 8 p.m. Eastern.

Still ahead tonight, Senator Obama's better half, as he says, Michelle, in her own words.

Plus GOP candidate Mike Huckabee, he has racked up some wins this weekend. But there is no way he can win the nomination. So what exactly is he doing?

Speaking of Huckabee, here's tonight's "Beat 360." Huckabee preparing to play the hymn, "I'll Fly Away" at a Baptist church yesterday in Lynchburg, Virginia. Of course, this is our own cheesy music that we have in the background.

Here's the caption from our staff winner, Chuck: "And on the seventh day, the Lord created 'Sweet Home Alabama,' and it was good."

Wa-wa-wa. Yes. I think you can do better, and if you think you can, go to Send us your submission. We'll announce the winner at the end of the program.


MIKE HUCKABEE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I know a lot of people want to speculate it, but it's kind of like saying, you know, would you be a co-host on somebody else's show? Right now you've got your own show. Why would you want to be someone's co-host and occasionally sub? You wouldn't. For the same reason, I'm not interested in being somebody's co-host right now.


COOPER: I don't know, sometimes it's nice to co-host. Anyway, Mike Huckabee speaking to Larry King earlier about why he has no intention of being anyone's vice president.

Governor Huckabee did score some big wins over the weekend, no doubt about it. But it's still nearly impossible for him to actually win the GOP nomination. So the question is, what is he doing? He is pressing ahead, seemingly unfazed on the eve of the Potomac Primaries.

With a look at what he's doing, here's CNN's John King.



KING (voice-over): In Virginia's Shenandoah Valley, stressing his support for a constitutional amendment outlawing abortion.

HUCKABEE: I believe that the issue of the sanctity of human life is foundational to who we are as a civilization and a culture.

J. KING: And promoting a consumption tax as an alternative to the income tax.

HUCKABEE: Instead of killing trees, we'd be killing the IRS, and this is what we can do to the 1040.

J. KING: Someone forgot to tell Mike Huckabee it's over.

HUCKABEE: Vote for me! Let's change this country.

J. KING: After big weekend wins in Kansas and Louisiana, Huckabee is hoping Virginia sends another message Tuesday. He raced to four events across the state. John McCain held just one in Virginia.

The math is daunting. Huckabee has won a modest 16 percent of the delegates awarded so far and would need to win an overwhelming 93 percent of the remaining delegates to win the nomination. But winning outright isn't his only calculation.

HUCKABEE: He's got to get 1,191. If he doesn't, we go to the convention. Then it's all bets off.

J. KING: And so at every stop, Huckabee brushes aside growing calls from party leaders for him to step aside.

HUCKABEE: I just think the people ultimately lose when we have this kind of a microwaved election. We ought to cook it slow.

J. KING: It is overall relatively polite, but some of his attacks on Senator McCain are raising eyebrows. One new favorite is comparing himself to Ronald Reagan in 1976 and John McCain to the man who beat back Reagan's conservative nomination challenge but then lost the general election, Gerald Ford.

HUCKABEE: Here's why they lost. They elected a person who did not really energize the conservative base of the Republican Party.

J. KING: Some Republicans worry talk like that will make it more difficult for McCain to make peace with skeptical conservatives. But there are contrarians.

WHIT AYRES, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: As long as Mike Huckabee stays positive and as long as he does not stimulate a third-party challenge from the right in the fall, Mike Huckabee staying in could actually help John McCain.

Moreover, if very conservative spokesmen continue to criticize him, it makes John McCain look better to the independents, who are going to decide the election in the fall.

J. KING: For his part, Huckabee thinks a longer competition will benefit the winner.

HUCKABEE: The lack of competition brings immediate mediocrity and sloth. Anybody who doesn't have to work hard every day, you get -- you get sloppy. And when you're out there fighting every day, you build your stamina and you build your strength. And it's like training. And it's best for both of us.

J. KING: So on to another stop. And at least for now, another day.

John King, CNN, Weyers Cave, Virginia.


COOPER: Up next, the funny, talented driven woman who is not running for president but could end up in the White House.


COOPER (voice-over): He calms her his rock.

MICHELLE OBAMA, WIFE OF BARACK OBAMA; He's also somebody who's not going to just tell you what you think you want to hear.

COOPER: Michelle Obama on politics, campaigning and the man she wants to see in the White House. Only on CNN, next.


COOPER: In the year since Barack Obama entered the presidential race, his wife Michelle has earned the reputation as a formidable campaigner. Obama has been married 15 years. Both attended Harvard Law School, and Ms. Obama is said to be one of her husband's most trusted advisers.

She has taken on a pivotal role in his campaign, and earlier tonight she talked with Larry King.

Here's Michelle Obama in her own words.


LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": What does he have?

OBAMA: You know? OK, so there's my opinion as the wife. So I can share that.

L. KING: A lot closer than that.

OBAMA: He's a great orator. He's inspirational. He's brilliant, all that. But you know what? He's a good man. He's -- first of all, my best friend. He's a phenomenal support to me and the girls. I mean, this is a guy who, in the midst of this race, hasn't missed a parent-teacher conference, you know. This is the stuff that I look at. Took the girls trick-or-treating. Came home for a day to buy the Christmas tree. Took me out for our anniversary. I mean, you know, he is just...

L. KING: Little things.

OBAMA: He's consistent. But, he is consistent. It's just his character. You know? And there's a warmth and a sincerity and an authenticity. And he's also somebody who's not going to just tell you what you think you want to hear. He's always going to play it straight and tell you what he thinks. He's going to be honest with you.

L. KING: When you were a small little girl, wasn't one of your dreams to see the first female president?

OBAMA: You know, I have to honestly say no. That's -- you know, and -- because that wasn't even a possibility for me.

I mean, the truth is, when I was a little girl, the thought of a woman or an African-American being president was the furthest thing from what could be possible. So it's only now that I am seeing in this race these two phenomenal candidates that I know, as some have said, that we now can move beyond those issues, and we can go for who we think is the best candidate.

L. KING: Do have you any doubts about him?

OBAMA: Absolutely not. L. KING: Absolutely none?

OBAMA: Not in terms of his character. I mean, this is what is true. Barack's going to make mistakes. But, see, the beauty of Barack making mistakes is that he's not going to be so stubborn that he can't admit that he's making mistakes and he can't look at another way of approaching things. I mean, I think that's all people want.

I mean, to the extent that people are angry with the current administration, it's just that you feel like folks sometimes view leadership as stubbornness. And you don't want to even admit when you've made a mistake. And I think most Americans understand that, if you want leaders to take risks and to reach for, you know, grand achievements, that sometimes they're going to stumble.

But you want to know that they know that they stumble. And that they're ready to correct their mistakes and move forward, and that's something that Barack is able to do.

L. KING: Can his mind be changed?

OBAMA: Absolutely. I change it every day.

L. KING: What's going to happen tomorrow?

OBAMA: Tomorrow Barack is going to do well, because everyone who's listening is going to go out and vote for him. But we don't take anything for granted. I mean, what I tell people is Barack is the underdog until he's sitting in the Oval Office. I mean, because when you're the agent of change, when you're the candidate that's really pushing against the establishment, I don't think you can ever take anything for granted.


COOPER: In our next hour, we're going to take a closer look at the extreme challenges facing the next president.

But first, a look at some of the other headlines, including dramatic testimony from a police officer accused of killing his pregnant lover.

Also tonight, find out why a lot of people have trouble getting e-mail on their BlackBerry this afternoon. Or that was sentence wasn't correct. I apologize. Next, more on the BlackBerry situation. We'll be right back.


COOPER: Coming up, a champion drag racer ends up in a fiery crash. The amazing rescue is our "Shot of the Day." First, Gary Tuchman joins us with the "360 News and Business Bulletin" -- Gary.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Anderson. Some dramatic testimony from an ex-cop in Canton, Ohio. He's accused of killing his pregnant lover. Bobby Cutts sobbed on the witness stand as he told the jury he accidentally struck Jessie Marie Davis when she wouldn't let him out of her house. If convicted, Cutts faces the death penalty.

In Virginia, a Defense Department analyst has been charged with passing U.S. military secrets to the Chinese government. Two Chinese immigrants also are charged in the case.

Separately, a former Boeing engineer was arrested in California today for allegedly spying for China.

The cost of mailing a letter is going up. A first class stamp will cost 42 cents, up a penny, starting May 12.

And if your BlackBerry went down today, you were not alone. Research in Motion, the company that makes BlackBerries, said all e- mail service was affected.

AT&T, Verizon, Sprint said the malfunction did not come from their networks. They don't want to be blamed. Most problems were resolved by early evening.

Anderson, it's like sad and amazing, but your life gets totally messed up when that thing doesn't work for a few hours.

COOPER: I know. My name is Anderson Cooper, and I'm addicted to my BlackBerry.

Gary, tonight's "Beat 360." Here's how it works. We put a picture on the 360 blog. We cue the cheesy music, and we ask people to come up with a caption for it that's better than one of our own.

So tonight's picture shows Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee on his bass guitar at a Baptist church yesterday in Lynchburg, Virginia. Now our staff winner, Chuck, his entry was "And on the seventh day, the lord created 'Sweet Home Alabama,' and it was good."

Wa-wa-wa. Tonight's winner is Hugo from New York City. He posted this caption for the Billy Joel song, "You may be right. I may be crazy. But it just may be a lunatic you're looking for."

We'd like to stress that these are editorial comments. They come from our viewers and not from CNN or from 360, and we also think you have a sense of humor.

Check out the other ideas at, and, of course, feel free to play along.

Gary, "The Shot of the Day" is next. A fireball on the race track, what no driver ever wants to face. An amazing rescue when 360 continues.



COOPER: Take a look at this shot, Gary. It is hard to believe that anyone could walk away from this crash. Drag racing champ Tony Pedregon did just that after his engine exploded during the first round of the Winter Nationals competition, in Pomona, California.

His burning car crossed the finish line at 290 miles an hour. Look at that. It burst into flames. Pedregon suffered second-degree burns on his right hand. His eyelashes were singed, but otherwise, remarkably, he is OK. Just unbelievable.

TUCHMAN: Anderson, like I'm telling people everybody all the time, when you're driving 290 miles per hour, you have to be extra careful.

COOPER: A lot of experience of that, do you?

TUCHMAN: On the West Side Highway in Manhattan. I tried to do that regularly when I was of New York.

COOPER: When I look at you, I see Gary "Drag Racer" Tuchman. No doubt about it.

A reminder: if you see some remarkable video, tell us about it: You can go there to see all the most recent "Shots." You can see other segments from the program. You can the blog. You can check out the "Beat 360" picture, and you can do your dry clean being. That's

Straight ahead tonight, extreme challenges for the next president, whoever it turns out to be. Iran, Iraq, North Korea, the economy. We're going to cover it all in a 360 special, coming up next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)