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John McCain Wins GOP Presidential Nomination; Texas and Ohio Democratic Races Competitive

Aired March 4, 2008 - 22:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: All right. So, they're you're hearing "Go, Johnny, Go." And the balloons are coming down. The celebration is beginning at the McCain headquarters. You saw the number 1,191. That's the magic number to capture the Republican presidential nomination. He has done precisely that by winning tonight in the four primary states, in Rhode Island, in Vermont, in Ohio, and Texas.
And John McCain becomes the Republican presidential nominee. Mike Huckabee formally dropping out. You heard that as well live here on CNN.

Tomorrow, by the way, the White House has just announced, at 1:15 p.m. Eastern, the president of the United States will be receiving John McCain over at the White House. They will make it official. President Bush will be endorsing John McCain for the Republican presidential nomination and for the White House to succeed John -- to succeed George Bush over at the White House, a historic, important day for John McCain, the 71-year-old senator from Arizona, who, only a few months ago, was considered an extremely -- an extreme long shot.

Some had written him off almost completely. That was not meant to be. He's now the Republican nominee. So, the dust has -- the political dust has settled on the Republican side, but the dust has not settled at all on the Democratic side, a dramatic development.

Still awaiting -- we're still awaiting. Let's take a look at what has happened so far. As we say, in Rhode Island, McCain has won. Hillary Clinton, we have projected, is the winner in Rhode Island on the Democratic front, breaking Barack Obama's winning streak.

In Texas, John McCain is the winner, as we have been reporting. He's the winner in Ohio and Vermont. And, in Vermont, we do project that Barack Obama is the winner.

So, on Democratic side, there are four contests, really five, if you consider two contests in Texas, one primary and one caucus. So far, Barack Obama is the winner in Vermont. Hillary Clinton is the winner in Rhode Island. In Ohio, it's a very, very competitive contest. The same is true in Texas right now.

Let's take a look at Ohio right now -- 31 percent, almost a third of the precincts, have now reported in Ohio. Hillary Clinton maintaining her considerable lead, with 57 percent, to 41 percent for Barack Obama. Let's zoom in on the actual numbers in Ohio right now, 385,748 for Hillary Clinton, 282,212 for Barack Obama. A very competitive contest, we had been expecting, but, right now, with a third, a nice decisive lead for Hillary Clinton. We don't know yet which precincts remain outstanding.

So, we will see. We will watch that closely. In Texas, 12 percent of the precincts have now completely -- completely -- reported. In Texas, it's very close, 50 percent for Barack Obama, 48 percent for Hillary Clinton. Let's zoom in on the actual numbers in Texas right now. Look at this, 641,109 for Barack Obama, 611,352 for Hillary Clinton. This is close in Texas.

Both of these candidates desperately want to win in Texas, and this is the primary, because, after the primary, there are caucuses in Texas as well. A third of the delegates will be determined in the Texas caucuses. We don't have any of those results yet. Two-thirds of the Texas delegates will be determined by this, the primary in the state of Texas. And, right now, as I said, 50 percent for Obama, 48 percent for Hillary Clinton.

Let's go back to Anderson Cooper. He's right here. He's got some of the best political team on television.

The drama, the suspense in Texas and Ohio for the Democrats, I think it's going to continue for a while.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: It's does seem it's going to be a long night, especially in Texas, those numbers extremely close.

Roland martin, your take on what is happening in Texas.

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: We're seeing, frankly, from -- it's obviously very tight in terms of the primary vote.

Where the pandemonium is taking place right now are the caucuses. I have been talking to family members, talking to fraternity brothers, people I went to college with. And they say it's absolutely crazy there. In some precincts, they have 50 ballots there for the caucus; 300 people showed up. They have people who are showing up there in one caucus in College Station, Texas. Four years ago, four showed up, this time, 200 people.

And, so, they said they don't know what is going on. My brother is in Pearland, Texas, in Harris County. He said there were 200 people inside. Because of the fire code, they shut the doors. Three people were standing outside. They had no idea what to do with them. He just sent me a text message, and he said it would be nice if we had ballots here to vote on.

So, they don't have ballots there. The other issue is this here. Tomorrow is a statewide test day for all the kids in Texas. Parents are there with their children studying in the hallways there two or three hours. Have no idea when they are actually going to vote. They're saying, look, I have to get my kid home to take a test tomorrow.

And, so, as one woman said, they failed. The Democratic Party has failed when it comes to this caucus in Texas. COOPER: And we already hear -- Carl Bernstein, CNN contributor, we always hear -- already hear people on the Clinton side saying there are irregularities going on there in Texas.

CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: And the Obama side saying there's irregularities going on and disenfranchisement going on in -- in Ohio.

Let -- I think the courts will straighten it out or the party will straighten it out.

The more important thing tonight is the strategy that is going on in Texas. If Hillary Clinton wins in Texas, she still, as our learned panel said, can't get the right delegate count, even with the rest of the primaries, winning them all by up to 10 percent. So, that goes back to this factor of a negative campaign, which is the one thing that is working in her favor, because the only shot she has is to convince the superdelegates, because she can't win on pledged delegates.

Even she wins Texas -- and if she loses Texas, it's about gone. But if she wins Texas and squeaks by, by half-a-percent or 1 percent or whatever it is, her only shot is to go so negative on Obama that something sticks and makes these superdelegates say, we don't want him.

And as one Clinton strategist said to me today, we have got to mess him up.

And that's really where they have to go.



COOPER: Leslie Sanchez, Republican strategist.

SANCHEZ: There's an interesting point to that, because, after New Hampshire -- or right before the results of New Hampshire -- you were thinking that Hillary Clinton was going to take the high road for the long haul. She had the infrastructure to move forward.

We saw the dynamic of that change. And I think Barack Obama opened himself up when he said he's a -- a blank slate that people can project their own political opinions on. I think now people think he's an Etch a Sketch. They're turning it over. They're getting a different perspective of him.

And I think, with respect to Texas, look at women. Non-Hispanic white women, Hispanic women are overcompensating in terms of support and turnout for her. And the Latino vote is going to be very interesting.

COOPER: We have a lot -- a lot more of coverage ahead. It's going to be a long night, no doubt about it. You can go to to check all the latest numbers, as we're getting them as well state by state, precinct by precinct -- a lot more coverage ahead.

Stay tuned.


BLITZER: The primary voting is over with in Texas, but the caucusing is continuing.

And there are clearly a lot of Democrats in Texas who are anxious to participate in the caucuses. Remember, it's a two-step process in Texas. The primary, that will determine two-thirds of the delegates of Texas. But the caucuses will determine one-third. Look at this. This is a caucus that is taking place in Austin, Texas, right now. That hasn't even started yet. They have been waiting for at least an hour so far to get that caucus under way, because people are still voting and trying to get inside.

That's in Austin. And look at this. This is a separate caucus in Texas -- in -- in Houston right now. There are long lines. You can see this aerial shot from our affiliate KHOU in Houston. People are getting ready for that caucus in Houston as well. So, this is a complicated process in Texas. We don't know who is going to win the primary. Certainly, we don't know who is going to win the caucuses in Texas.

And, in Ohio, it's -- as well, as far as the Hillary Clinton/Barack Obama contest for the Democratic presidential nomination, it's still very much in the air.

In fact, I want to go over to Abbi. Abbi Tatton is watching all of this.

You are getting the I-Reports from people participating in these caucuses, Abbi. What are you seeing?

ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Wolf, we're still getting them in. They keep coming, because the caucus process is still going on.

You just saw the lines, the turnout. And those are the messages we're getting from people as they are sending in their pictures.

This one is from Chris Barnes (ph). He's in Houston. He called it organized chaos at his precinct, hundreds of people waiting, people who were unclear on the rules. It said -- he said it took almost an hour for it all -- all to get under way. And he sent those pictures in. He's all done now, but there are others still going on here.

This one, we're going to Scott Alden (ph), who is in Dallas, Texas. He said the process there was a little bit more organized, tables set up for the candidates, but still people not really sure how this works. And I just spoke to someone in Austin, Texas, who just got done caucusing. Bill (ph) said that, where he was, the system -- because there was about 800 people there. And he said it all got screwed up and there were people were standing on the tables, trying to shout and organize the people who were there, because he said, in Texas, we're -- we're not used to caucusing -- Wolf.

BLITZER: And not a whole lot of experience in Texas when it comes to caucusing.

Certainly, the -- the major difference between the primary balloting, that's done in secret, the caucuses all open. Everyone knows the candidate you support if you go, show up in one of those caucuses. And Abbi makes a good point, in Texas, not a whole lot of experience. This is not Iowa, where they do it every four years. This is a relatively -- relatively new and different procedure for Texas for the Democrats.

And it's way different because of huge numbers who are showing up to -- to vote in the primary and the huge numbers who want to participate in the caucuses as well.

I want to go to Soledad O'Brien and Bill Schneider, because you're looking at the exit poll numbers, and you're getting a sense why this is so close for these Democratic candidates in both of these states.


And the answer to why it's so close is -- well, there are lots of reasons, actually.


O'BRIEN: The first is momentum. So, we decided to take a closer look at who has got the momentum here. And that's a word that kind of, for the last few weeks, have belonged to Barack Obama. You're seeing a change, aren't you?


And what we're seeing in Texas -- and we're seeing it also in Ohio -- is the late momentum in this race was with Hillary Clinton. Look at the voters who decided within the last three days. That wasn't most of them, but those who decided within the last three days voted very heavily among Texas Democrats for Hillary Clinton, 61 percent over Barack Obama, 38. We see the same thing among Ohio Democrats.

Among the large number of voters who decided before the last three days, Barack Obama was actually -- is actually winning the vote. So, it's the last three days, those late-momentum deciders with Hillary Clinton who are making this a close contest. And there's going to be a lot of discussion, did that have something to do with that red phone ad, which Barack Obama said tried to create fear about him among voters?

O'BRIEN: And he responded to pretty quickly.

Now, Bill Bennett earlier, Wolf, had talked about Republican strategy. He was referencing Rush Limbaugh, who was urging Republicans in Texas who can vote in the Democratic primary to go out and vote for Hillary Clinton. So, we wanted to see if that maybe was having some kind of an effect on this race.

What did you find?

SCHNEIDER: Not much.

Only 9 percent of the Texas Democratic primary voters were self- described Republicans. They could have voted. Very few did. And they voted for Barack Obama, 53. Forty-six percent, almost half, voted for Hillary Clinton. So, maybe that was some influence from Mr. Limbaugh and his compatriots. But the fact is, they were very small in numbers and most of them did not vote for Clinton.

O'BRIEN: Independents, how did they vote?

SCHNEIDER: About the same as the Republicans. The independents voted for Barack Obama 52 to 46. Barack Obama does always do well among independents. And he always advertises himself as someone who can reach out to independents, he can reach out to Republicans. We see that happening in Texas, because Democrats who voted in the Democratic primary, they voted for Hillary Clinton.

O'BRIEN: Since we have been talking about Texas, Wolf, clearly, we have really been talking about Latinos and blacks and whites and how they are going to vote.

So, we decided to break that down a little bit further. Let's look more closely at Latino voters. What did you see?

SCHNEIDER: Latino voters were expected to deliver for Hillary. They did, 63 percent for Hillary Clinton. But Barack Obama did respectively among Latinos. Thirty-five percent ain't bad. More than a third voted for Barack Obama, which, we will see in a moment, is bigger than her share of the African-American vote.

O'BRIEN: Bill, let's go to the white voters first, because, often, we will talk about Latinos and African-Americans, and we won't really mention that, actually, white voters makes up almost half the electorate there.

SCHNEIDER: That's right. They -- they do.

And here's something interesting. They voted for Hillary Clinton, white voters in Texas, 55 percent for Clinton, 44 percent for Barack Obama. So, she did have a margin there. What's interesting is, Barack Obama, with his 44 percent of white voters in Texas, did better among whites than he did in Ohio, where he got 38 percent of the white vote. So, that's something to note.

O'BRIEN: African-Americans.


O'BRIEN: Barack Obama was predicted that he would run away with that vote, and he sort of did.

SCHNEIDER: Yes, he did. He carried it about 8-1. Eighty-nine percent of African-Americans voted for Barack Obama, just 11 percent for Clinton. Remember, 35 percent of Latinos voted for Obama, 11 percent of African-Americans for Hillary Clinton.

African-American were about 18 percent of the vote, according to the exit poll, which is...

O'BRIEN: Does that seem low to you?

SCHNEIDER: It was a little less than voted in the Texas Republican -- Democratic primary last time, but the Latino vote appears to be up. Latinos were 30 percent of the Texas Democratic primary voters today. So, they were a bigger group, but they didn't -- were not nearly as one-sided for Hillary Clinton.

O'BRIEN: So, Wolf, that's about half-a-dozen reasons why the Texas race is so close on the Democratic side.

BLITZER: I wonder if the African -- African-Americans, who are voting overwhelmingly for Barack Obama, are going to take it out on some of the African-American supporters of Hillary Clinton who have been outspoken in this contest?

We are going to see if there's any political payback as a result of what happens in Texas. It's still very, very close there, still close in Ohio as well.

Bill Schneider is going to stay on top of this story., he's going to have running commentary throughout this night. is also the place where you can get a lot more information on what's happening in all -- all of these states.

We're going to take another quick break. We have a lot more going on. When we come back, John King, he is looking at Ohio and Texas right now county by county. The precincts are reporting.

It shows that Hillary Clinton so far is ahead in Ohio, but it may be a lot closer than the numbers are showing right now. And, in Texas, it's very, very competitive. The polls have been closed. We aren't projecting anything on the Democratic side in either Ohio or Texas, at least not yet.

We will stay on top of it, though, right here at the CNN Election Center. We will be right back.


BLITZER: The Republican presidential nomination has wrapped up. John McCain is the Republican presidential nominee. He will be received by President Bush at the White House tomorrow. He will get the endorsement from President Bush in the process.

But the Democratic battle continues, and there's a fierce fight under way right now in Texas and Ohio. Let's go to Texas first. Look at how close it is with 17 percent of the precincts now reporting in Texas, Barack Obama with 50 percent, Hillary Clinton with 49 percent. Let's take a look at the actual votes so far, 676,367 for Obama, 660,987 for Hillary Clinton.

It's extremely tight right now in Texas, with 17 percent of the precincts reporting.

In Ohio, it's 39 percent of the precincts are in, and Hillary Clinton maintaining a considerable lead, 57 percent to 41 percent in Ohio. Let's zoom in on the actual numbers in Ohio, 497,210 for Hillary Clinton, 351,012 votes for Obama.

It looks lopsided with 40 percent of the precincts now reporting, 57 to 41 percent. But is it?

Let's get a closer look at Ohio right now. I'm walking over to John King. He's looking at the counties that have already reported, the counties that are still waiting to report.

And explain why it may be a lot closer in Ohio than the 57/41 margin would no seem to suggest with 41 percent of the precincts reporting.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And it's cliche, but true, Wolf, that looks are deceiving.

You would look at this number right here and you would say, wow, she's up 57 to 41 percent with about 40 percent of the vote in. This is Hillary Clinton's color, the lighter blue. All across the states, with a few exceptions, you are seeing the Clinton color. You would say she's going to win Ohio.

BLITZER: The light blue is for Hillary Clinton.

KING: Light blue is...

BLITZER: The dark blue is for Barack Obama.

KING: Exactly.

So, looking at that, you would say, well, she's going to win Ohio. But Cuyahoga County, where Cleveland is, it's 12 -- a little more than 12 percent of the state population, heavy concentration of African-American votes. Barack Obama is expected to do well here. We have nothing in yet in terms of returns.

BLITZER: I don't understand that. Why is Cuyahoga County so slow in reporting votes?

KING: It is -- it is traditionally slow. Plus, you had those ballot places that were left open late because of some problems early on distributing ballots and having enough ballots. So, the vote there coming in very close.

And remember these numbers. That's a little more than...

BLITZER: But the expectation, this will be dark blue?

KING: The expectation is, although the key battle could be -- the question is the margin. Barack Obama is expected to win metropolitan Cleveland, without a doubt. The question is, how does Senator Clinton do in the suburbs around Cleveland? Can she shrink his margins?

But we have zero percent from the large county, the largest county in -- in Ohio. So, we need to wait on that. And that's 12 percent of the population, Wolf. But it's more than that. Even if it was just Cleveland out, you might make a safe call.

But down here, Hamilton county, this is the Cincinnati area. Barack Obama had a very aggressive early-voting program here. There's a large African-American population right here in the heart of Cincinnati. This could be -- could be -- Obama territory. So, if you add up 12 percent up in Cleveland area, almost 7 percent there, you're up to 20 percent.

And then let's come up here, again, Toledo just starting to come in right here, Lucas County, Ohio just starting to come in for Barack Obama, 63-36. So, if he can continue -- 28 percent of the vote in -- if he can continue to run up a margin like that in a population center, he can narrow the gap. So, we need to be very careful here as we look at the map.

It certainly is encouraging for the Clinton campaign, especially out here, Wolf, winning out in Akron, winning in Youngstown, a place where Barack Obama went in and tried to compete here. Senator Clinton is beating him, with 93 percent of the vote in, quite well there.

So, you're encouraged if you're in the Clinton campaign, but you're a bit nervous, because you're waiting for the major population center of Cleveland to come in. And even down here in Columbus, Franklin County, only about half of the vote counted. And, again, Barack Obama is winning 55-44.

His campaign would have liked a bigger margin in the Columbus area. So, this could be telling, but he's still racking up a vote margin there. So, you can't...

BLITZER: He does well in those university towns, too.

KING: He does well in a university town, also some African- Americans in that area. And there's more votes for Obama.

You can down there, very small rural areas down here, where she is -- where Senator Clinton tends to be doing well. So, there's not a lot of votes down here. So, we're going to look at Hamilton County, watch the rest of the results in the Columbus area.

But this is the key right here, Wolf, the Cleveland area. If turnout in the African-American community is high, and if Senator Clinton does not do as well in the suburbs as she needs to do, this could still swing Ohio.

BLITZER: And the weather was really bad in the -- in the Cleveland area today. So, that could be a factor as well.

KING: Exactly right.

But, as you watch the votes come in, and you watch, she's winning -- she's winning in all the places she needs to win in the state to win the state. So, they would definitely be encouraged. This was critical to her. All this area was critical to her. But until we know Cleveland and until we know Cincinnati, and get a few more votes up in Toledo, there is still enough population centers where the votes have not been counted, that can make up ground.

BLITZER: I want to take a look at Texas now, because the numbers keep changing. And I -- and I want to look at the board.

Take a look at this, because, in Texas right now, this is a very competitive contest, 49 percent for Barack Obama, 49 percent for Hillary Clinton, with 19 percent of the precincts in Texas now reporting.

Let's zoom in on the actual numbers in Texas and see what we have. Look at how tight this is, 685,880 for Barack Obama, 677,919 votes, what, about an 8,000-vote difference so far, with 19 percent of the precincts in Texas, John, reporting.

Let's take a closer look at this state. It doesn't get a whole closer than it is right now.

KING: No, it doesn't. And, again, looks can be deceiving, because, if you look at this map, again, Senator Clinton is the lighter shade of blue. And her shade is all across the state.

So you would look at that map now with only 20 percent of the vote in and say, wow, she's winning just about everywhere, but he is winning where the people are. Let's come into Austin, Texas, Travis County. It's only about 4 percent of the state population, but it is a liberal voting center, the most liberal place in Texas. Obama...

BLITZER: Home of the University of Texas.

KING: That's right. Sixty-five percent to 35 percent, Barack Obama winning in Traverse County. Let's bring you down here to the Dallas County area. Ten percent of the state population. Again, an African-American population center here.

He's winning 65/35 with only 4 percent of the vote counted in Dallas County. And next door, in Forth Worth, in Tarrant County, 7 percent of the state population again, Senator Obama winning almost 60/40 there, with 15 percent of the vote in.

And so, if you're in the Clinton campaign, again, you're looking at this map and you're doing very well in the rural areas, very well down here in what I've been calling the Latino belt, where she had to do well across here. Let's get rid of that. Doing very well there.

But in the population center here, Harris County, Houston, Texas, only 1 percent of the vote in there. Obama at the moment winning 60/40. If he keeps those numbers up, that's a troubling sign for the Clinton campaign.

So this is a hotly contested state. The question for her, Wolf, is -- and we'll actually check on some of this. Let's look at Webb County where Laredo is. She's winning, only 1 percent of the vote in there. So she has some places where her vote would not begin yet, as well.

The question is, can her big margins that she's running up out in these more rural areas and the smaller cities like El Paso, like Laredo, like Corpus Christi, can they offset the numbers he is going to post in Houston, Austin and Dallas? That's what he needs to watch as the night goes on.

BLITZER: And San Antonio in the south, that's a more of a Hispanic area where she does really well. At least let's take a look so far.

KING: She is winning 50 -- you called that one dead right, 54 percent to 45 percent. Again, only 3 percent of the vote in.

This was a pretty good battleground, because there is a small African-American population in the city center and yet a Latino population, as well. Pretty good battleground between the two campaigns there. At the moment, edge Clinton is in the San Antonio area.

And this is a simple question of who's getting the higher turnout where their vote is. Senator Clinton doing well across the state. At the moment, though, Obama keeping this close. And let's pull out to the full statewide numbers here. Keeping it close. That's 10,000 votes separating the candidates, with 20 percent of the vote in, because he's racking up numbers in the population centers while she wins in the smaller cities.

BLITZER: All right, John. Stand by because this is a nail-biter in Texas right now. We're going to zoom in on the actual numbers one more time.

Right now, we have it at 49 percent for Barack Obama, 49 percent for Hillary Clinton, with 20 percent of the precincts reporting.

Let's take a specific look at the numbers. And less than -- a little bit -- less than 10,000 votes, 9,000-vote difference: 694,400 for Obama, 687,700 or so for Hillary Clinton. A 9,000-vote difference so far out of a million three people whose votes have actually been counted, 20 percent of the precincts in Texas.

Remember, this is for the primary, where two-thirds of the delegates will be allocated. The caucuses, we don't have results of the caucuses, but we do know that huge numbers of Texas Democrats are showing up for the caucuses. A third of the delegates will be determined in the caucuses.

This is a nail-biter in Texas, and it's a critical state in moving forward for Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

Our coverage continues right after this.


COOPER: And welcome back to our ongoing political coverage. We have word that Hillary Clinton may be speaking in about 20 minutes or so. We, of course, will bring that speech to you live. Of course, anticipating a speech from Barack Obama later on. We will bring that to you live, as well.

We're about to lose our CNN contributor, Bill Bennett, who has a radio show in the morning. Your parting words tonight?

BENNETT: Well, just first of all, my good friend Wolf Blitzer, John McCain, the music It's "Johnny B. Goode." The chorus is "Go, Johnny go," but the song is "Johnny B. Goode." Sorry, this is an area of scholarship of mine.

I don't -- I'm not sure the speech was greatly received or reviewed around here, but let me say two things about it. One, it was a very conservative speech, and I think you heard that Texas crowd applaud. They're conservative in Texas, Republicans. And I think that was -- that was interesting. Notice, he kind of declared war on NAFTA. He's ready to debate NAFTA and some other issues.

The other thing, it was about pride in country, and this is something different from national security. It's about pride in country. Remember a couple of the moments that a lot of conservatives paid attention to in the last few months: Michelle Obama said she was the first time she was proud of America was with her husband running for president. Barack Obama said a couple of times, you know, "Well, I'm not going to take this view that we're better than other countries." Well, we are better than other countries; a lot of barbaric countries, for sure. So there's this theme about pride in country.

John McCain tells his story as the American story, an American story. I think you just saw the theme for his campaign. And I don't want to say there's an unfair advantage here. But what Democrats have to do and sometimes have trouble doing is speaking naturally and easily about an American story, pride in America.

Notice, Whitman, Lincoln, a lot of that stuff. Bill Clinton could do it from time to time. We need to see if Hillary Clinton can do it in the same way and Barack Obama. I guarantee you this is McCain's story.

COOPER: And Alex, you definitely see themes that already -- that they're going to be testing out already.

CASTELLANOS: I think Bill is exactly right. One of those themes tonight, stand up for America, stand up for her strength, her ideals and her future. I mean, that's not a campaign; that's a cause. That's giving the campaign to the voter and saying, "Look, I can't do this. We all need to do this." There was that pride in America that Bill was talking about.

Look, John McCain proved once again tonight he is not the Republican Obama. You know, he is not going to win this with rhetoric, but John McCain is not about rhetoric. He's about real. He was aggressive tonight and gritty, and I think that's the John McCain we need to see.

COOPER: Let's talk about strategy moving forward and what's going on in Texas right now. You're hearing, I mean, anecdotal reports of pandemonium.

BEGALA: Yes. It's sort of -- well, I need to say, one of my former students, Steve McMahon (ph), who's a recruitment director for Teach for America down there in Texas. And in his report, the evening was pandemonium. A super packed cafeteria, all races, ages and personalities.

You could hardly walk into the room. But it didn't seem like anyone knew what was going on. Kind of felt like we were cattle at a Texas rodeo. All of us herded around with wide-eyed and frenzied bewilderment.

Sounds like Texas democracy.

COOPER: That's not a good thing, though?

BEGALA: Without the cattle prods. We get them into our shoots.

COOPER: May be testimony in some lawsuit for what we know from what some of these campaigns are saying about what's going down in Texas.

BEGALA: Yes. I always hate to get the lawyers involved. And then we've got to get Toobin back out on air and everything. It's not going to be a lawyers' deal, no.

COOPER: Did you hear in John McCain's speech tonight themes that he is going to testing out and using?

BEGALA: I heard that great old Mac Davis song: happiness is Lubbock, Texas, in the rear-view mirror. It was a squarely backward- looking speech. It was an eloquent but not very energetic defense of the status quo. The status quo in the economy, the status quo on trade, the status quo on war, the status quo on health care.

Democrats heard that speech and loved it. To quote our current president, bring it on.

CASTELLANOS: Well, I think Paul's got it a little backwards there. It was McCain tonight who was saying, "Look, you're not going to move this country into the future by -- by making it harder for businesses to create and keep jobs here. You're not going to -- we can't do business among ourselves and compete in a global economy." No, John McCain was talking about the future, and I think it was -- he left the Democrats tonight with the ideas of the '60s.

COOPER: Interesting, though, Jamal, that the idea that John McCain is sort of trying to have a movement rather than just a campaign. That's something, obviously, people say about Barack Obama.

SIMMONS: Yes, well, I'll tell you what. If he wants to power that movement with rock 'n' roll from the '50s and early '60s, I'm not sure that's a change in forward direction and momentum that Americans are looking for.

Also, you know, you talk about an American story, Bill. You know, who has a better American story than Barack Obama? This guy, the son of an immigrant, you know, mother from Kansas, father from Kenya, that whole story.

COOPER: I think Hillary Clinton will claim she has a better American story.

SIMMONS: But comes from Hawaii and really -- you know, African- American who gets to be nominee of the party, who doesn't come from wealth, who doesn't come from a storied family. This is a great American story. And I think they tell that story very well.

COOPER: Let's see if he gets to tell that story, depending on what happens in Texas.

David Gergen is standing by in remote in Philadelphia.

David, your take on the importance of Texas tonight. And what does Hillary Clinton do if she does not win Texas?

GERGEN: Well, I have to tell you, Anderson, I woke up this morning in Washington, where some of the Clinton topsiders who were pessimistic only a few weeks ago had big smiles on their faces. They were pretty confident they're going to win three out of four tonight, that they will win Ohio and they will win Texas along with Rhode Island.

And what they are proud about, of course, is not only have they come back the third, you know, time they're going through a near-death experience in this campaign, but they also feel they have finally got a handle on Barack Obama.

And to echo what Carl Bernstein was saying a little earlier, they sense that going after him on -- on his capacity on national security, that phone ad that really worked for them, and that taking the fight to him, having her come out as a fighter, taking the fight to him, has really worked.

So I think what you're going to see is this campaign is clearly going on to Pennsylvania, no matter what happens in Texas tonight, whichever way it may come out. And he has a good chance, obviously, of still winning this, the primary. But I think it's going to get -- I think that John McCain has an extra reason to smile tonight, because the fact that he's wrapped it up and this Democratic campaign is going to go on for week after week after week is a real luxury for him.

COOPER: David, I've got to draw the attention to what we were showing on the screen right now. In Texas primary, Obama 708,000 votes, 285, to Hillary Clinton 706,737. About 2,000-vote difference.


COOPER: A remarkably close race. I don't think I've ever seen as close a primary race with this kind of voting. We're talking about some 1.4 million voters at this point.

Gloria Borger, I mean, have you seen that?

BORGER: No, I haven't. And you know, it's completely plausible that one candidate could win in the popular vote and the other candidate could win in the delegates.

COOPER: In regards to who actually wins, I mean, both sides will try to spin it as a victory. I mean, for Barack Obama's side, they will say, "Well, look, we had a 20-point -- we were under by 20 points just a couple of weeks ago and we've been able to come this close."

Hillary Clinton will say, "Well, look, you know, they poured all this money in. They spent twice as much as we did, and we edged out."

BORGER: Right. And I think whatever -- whatever happens tonight, the one thing we know is that this race is going on, because Obama's going to launch this effort for super delegates to say that it's all about the math.

And the other table was talking about this earlier. I don't think at this point it's going to be only early -- only about the math. You have to win. You can't win without winning, as my colleague, Jeff Toobin always says. And so this is going to be about gathering momentum in a state like Pennsylvania and Ohio, et cetera. And...

COOPER: By the way...

BORGER: ... she's going to say the people need to decide this. It's not going to be about the super delegates.

COOPER: By the way, a few seconds ago, I have to correct myself. I said we've never seen a race this close. I correct myself, now we've never seen a race this close. It's about 600 votes...

BORGER: Oh, my God. Look at that.

COOPER: ... separating these two in the state of Texas.

BORGER: Oh, my. Oh, my God.

COOPER: Seven hundred and eleven thousand to 711,000.

TOOBIN: Keep in mind, however, that there were 7 million votes cast in Florida in 2000 in the general election, and it was 300 votes. So I mean, it was -- that was...

BRAZILE: We've seen it.

COOPER: There you go.

TOOBIN: That was still the most surreal of all time.

BRAZILE: He was asking about 537 votes.

TOOBIN: Five thirty-seven.

BORGER: Were you involved in that campaign?

TOOBIN: It was Bush or Gore.

BRAZILE: Gore, the winner that night.

TOOBIN: Can we just talk about what's going on in Texas? Not -- not the politics but the democracy of it? The fact...

COOPER: The lead has now just changed, with Senator Clinton now in the lead. I don't have the actual -- there it is. By about -- what is that? One hundred? One thousand -- a thousand, a thousand, 1,300. Go ahead.

TOOBIN: But this is a disgrace, what Texas is doing, making people who voted in the afternoon come back, wait in line, you know, stand -- having a primary in and a caucus on the same day?

COOPER: If you can just explain it to viewers who are not following this as closely as some of us are?

TOOBIN: Well, the way the system works is you have a primary, and the polls close in the evening. And you get a little card or a piece of paper that says you voted. That card entitled you to go to the caucus at night and vote again.

Two-thirds of the delegates are allocated based on the primary, one-third based on the caucuses.

COOPER: If you don't go to the -- if you don't go to the -- we're looking at Clinton headquarters, where they've begun to cheer. We'll go there in just a moment. But if you go to the primary, and you don't go to the caucus, your vote in the primary still counts?

TOOBIN: It still counts. You can vote once in the primary or twice in the caucus and primary. You can't vote just in the caucus.

But subjecting people to a system like that and allocating votes for president of the United States on such an insane system, I mean, I think is -- Texas should be ashamed of themselves.

COOPER: And it doesn't seem like it's working that well, given the anecdotal reports we're getting about pandemonium.

BRAZILE: Well, remember, the whole purpose of a caucus is to build -- build the party, to get (ph) voters and to prepare for the general election. So I understand it's uncomfortable to stick around for another three or four hours, depending on the turnout. This is about party building. This is about building a permanent Democratic base in a bright red state.

So tonight Texas Democrats are very happy that the turnout is so well in those precinct caucuses. And these are -- these caucuses are precinct caucuses and then we will have another allocation based on center district offices and the, of course, they will go to the state convention. So this is a long process, Anderson.

COOPER: We're going to want to look very closely at the state of Texas: where these votes are coming in and, probably most importantly, where the votes have not yet been tallied, where they've not -- where we have not heard from, whether it's the population centers or out in more rural areas which favor Hillary Clinton. We'll have that.

You can follow all along at home the numbers as we get them at Our coverage continues in this nail-biter of a race in the state of Texas. We'll be right back.


BLITZER: We expected a close contest in Texas, a very close contest in the Democratic presidential primary, but take a look at this. More than a quarter of the precincts have now reported in Texas: 49 percent for Hillary Clinton, 49 percent for Barack Obama.

Let's look at the actual numbers: 739,171 for Clinton, 731,006 for Barack Obama. Senator Clinton taking a very, very slight lead. Until now she had been behind, but now she's taking a slight lead, with 26 percent of the precincts in Texas reporting. Still a lot of -- still a lot of precincts out. We're going to watch this very closely.

In Ohio right now more than half of the precincts have reported, and Senator Clinton maintaining her advantage, 57 percent to 41 percent. Let's look at the actual numbers in Ohio: 662,000 or so for Clinton, 470,000 for Obama. It looks lopsided, but it's presumably going to be a little bit closer because of the nature of where the votes are coming from.

I want to go over to John King, because he's looking at both of these states: what we know and what we don't know, who's reported, who hasn't reported.

First, Texas, because it's about as close as it gets in these kinds of contests: what, 8,000 or so difference out of 1.5 million votes tallied so far.

KING: In a big state like Texas, you look at the numbers, 49 percent to 49 percent. There you go, 10,000 votes right now, just under 10,000 votes, separating the two candidates. Well, if you're looking at this map right now and you're looking across from a county perspective and you're Senator Clinton, you're thinking, "Wow, I'm running up pretty good numbers across the state.

However, one cautionary note for the Clinton campaign. We're only at about 30 percent of the vote counted. She has a slight lead right now, but some of the places where the people are, the big population centers, that's where Senator Obama is running up big numbers.

Harris County, that's where Houston is, 16 percent of the statewide population. Only 1 percent of the vote in, in Harris County right now. Obama getting 62 percent to 38 percent for Clinton. So if he's running up big numbers like this in the major population centers, he will overtake her, if she can't offset it elsewhere.

Let's look at another place here: Travis County. That's where Austin is, 4 percent of the state population. Again, only 9 percent of the vote in. Obama 65 percent, Clinton 35 percent. If he continues to run up a margin like that in a population center, he will build more votes there.

And again, another population center, Dallas County, 11 percent almost of the state population. Obama 64, Clinton 36. Only 13 percent of the vote in.

So in the major metropolitan areas where you have more people and more votes, he is posting big margins. Well, how does Senator Clinton offset that? She's winning out here in the rural areas. One of the problems is, let's look out at Lubbock, a smaller city. You've got 60 percent of the vote in already, and it's a much smaller population center. So even though she has a big margin, there are fewer votes.

So as the votes come in in her areas, she has to do well out here in El Paso County. No votes in there yet. She has to run up the numbers big there. Because if you look at the major metropolitan areas -- Houston, the Austin area, which is a smaller area, Dallas- Forth Worth, Barack Obama is running up big numbers. So even though she is doing well across the state, where the votes are in the big population centers, she's doing quite well. One exception in San Antonio here, where she is winning with 56 percent. That is one of the sources where she needs to keep that margin there to offset what he is doing in the Dallas and the Houston area and the Austin area. A

Wolf, at the moment, as the votes come in and you're looking at this, it is about as close as you can get. Senator Clinton now at 50 percent, Obama at 49 percent, with just a third of the vote counted. So fascinatingly close in the state of Texas, although if you're in the Obama campaign you are encouraged by the fact that your vote -- your vote -- your center of -- population centers are yet to come in.

And we have a projection. Let's go to Wolf.

BLITZER: CNN now projects that Senator Hillary Clinton will carry the state of Ohio. She will win the Democratic presidential nomination in Ohio. We base that on the exit polls as well as the actual numbers that have come in from Ohio, and more than half of the precincts have reported so far. Hillary Clinton will win the state of Ohio.

She earlier won Rhode Island. That's two states she wins tonight. Vermont she lost to Barack Obama. Texas remains a nail- biter right now. But this is a huge and very important win for Hillary Clinton in Ohio.

You can see her supporters in Ohio there, very, very enthusiastic right now. She desperately needed to win in Ohio, a state that is critical for the Democrats and the Republicans in a general election. No one has been elected president of the United States without carrying Ohio in a very long time, maybe 100 years or so. And that's why this is a big win for Hillary Clinton, restoring her viability as this Democratic -- potential Democratic presidential nominee.

It's still a very, very close race, though, in Texas.

Let's go to Candy Crowley. She's in Ohio. She's over at Clinton headquarters right now.

Behind you there's a lot of excitement as we made that projection, Candy. The Hillary Clinton people must have been very nervous, but as they saw these numbers come in, she was doing remarkably well with more than half of the precincts reporting.

CROWLEY: Absolutely. They were watching these numbers, Wolf, as they came in. And she always had a pretty clear lead. It's Texas that they've been watching really, really closely from Columbus. When she sort of inched above Obama with 1,000 or so votes, they went crazy in here.

Look, this is huge for the Clinton campaign. They knew they had to win here, and she won. This has the feel tonight in here of the New Hampshire victory. Very much the same kind of crowd, the same kind of tension kind of early in the night, and then just sort of ratcheting up to real excitement.

So obviously they're keeping a close eye on Texas. Now, we'll tell you that the Clinton campaign says, listen, no matter what happens in terms of delegates, the wins, however this comes out on Wednesday morning, this is still a very, very close race. They basically said Obama is trying to cut it off in the middle, but what the American people have said is that they want this contest to go on. And surely it will.

As we know, Bill Clinton is headed to Wyoming, Wolf, on a campaign there for those caucuses that are coming up. But you know and I know that the really big prize is next month in Pennsylvania, Wolf.

BLITZER: So this contest, Candy, is going on, no matter what happens tonight in Texas, whether she wins, weather Barack Obama wins. Hillary Clinton's win in Rhode Island and now in Ohio, it sets the stage for the contest continuing.

Saturday the Democratic caucuses in Wyoming. A week from today the Democratic primary in Mississippi. Then as you say, April 22, the very important state of Pennsylvania having their Democratic primary.

You're hearing from the Clinton folks, I assume, that this contest is going on, irrespective of what the final outcome is in Texas. Is that right, Candy?

CROWLEY: Well, she -- yes. And she sort of gave a nod to that earlier in the day. You know, the "I'm just getting warmed up," which she said yesterday. The campaign very much senses, by the way, that they will win the popular vote in Texas. We all know that the delegate count is going to be pretty tricky.

But yes, I get every sense that, regardless of what happens in Texas, she is going to go ahead and move on. This is a campaign that also knows that, basically, no matter how you look at it, this may come down to those super delegates.

So while they're not claiming, you know, we're moving ahead and this is it and we've got the momentum, they do believe that Barack Obama no longer has the momentum.

I will tell you, of course, and Jessica Yellin can tell us this, that the Obama camp is saying that, you know, only in Clintonland would losing -- would starting from 20 points ahead and coming down to something this close be seen as gaining the momentum. So we'll see this all play out, the spin and all of that. But look, a win is a win is a win, as we like to say on these nights. And she's won Ohio.

BLITZER: It's 11 p.m. on the East Coast approaching, Candy. I assume she's going to want to go out and speak to her supporters behind you fairly soon, while a lot of people on the East Coast are still awake. What are you hearing? When are we going to hear Hillary Clinton address those supporters?

CROWLEY: Well, first of all, I can tell you that she is on her way here from her hotel, which is not that far away. Maybe five minutes. She's using a teleprompter, which sounds like sort of a detail you might not care about. But it means that this is a planned speech. You will hear something beyond the normal rally.

We will hear some of this, but her aides have told us that there will be some new language in this speech, some new messages. So this will not be the standard thing that we've heard on the campaign trail for some time, Wolf.

BLITZER: It goes to show you what some of her supporters say, don't count Hillary out, don't count her out by any means. She's a fighter; she will go on. She certainly continues to fight when some analysts suggested she had no chance. She manages to break that very impressive slate of Barack Obama wins since Super Tuesday.

Tonight so far she's won in Rhode Island and she will win in Ohio as well. Vermont goes to Barack Obama, but the big prize is Texas still, and that remains a nail-biter right now.

We'll wait to see as the votes are actually counted in Texas what happens first in the primary and in the separate caucuses that are taking place as well.

Has anyone started calling her the comeback kid yet on her campaign trail over there, Candy? I assume that will happen at some point.

CROWLEY: well, I can pretty much almost guarantee it. There's nothing like a fighter. You know, voters love someone who fights back, who triumphs over adversity. Look at John McCain.

Any time she goes out and proves that she's a fighter, it's something that voters relate to, particularly here in Ohio which has had a lot of economic distress. They see someone coming back and they like to move her forward on that.

I can tell you that the Clinton campaign also very happy about the demographics. They think that she reclaimed her base which obviously in the previous primaries in Maryland, Virginia, Wisconsin, Barack Obama had really begun to make some headway into that. For Ohio, anyway, they feel that she's put together that same coalition that had her winning in New Hampshire and elsewhere.

So, look, the race goes on, but the night belongs to Hillary Clinton at least so far.

BLITZER: As far as the delegates in Ohio are concerned, just want to remind our viewers, 141 delegates in Ohio were at stake; 21 superdelegates. And those delegates will be distributed proportionately. It's not a winner-take-all in the state of Ohio.

Some Republican contests are winner-take-all, so they will divide up those delegates according to a very complex formula in congressional districts and other aspects. We won't know probably for hours, maybe not until tomorrow how the delegate count in Ohio shapes up. We'll watch this closely.

We're standing by, Candy, as you say, to hear from Hillary Clinton. She's leaving her hotel, coming over to where you are in Columbus. She'll be addressing her supporters and we'll wait to hear what she has to say.