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THE SITUATION ROOM
North Carolina and Indiana Vote; Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill on Democratic Divide
Aired May 6, 2008 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And, to our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now, the Democrats' hour of reckoning. We're only a few moments away from the first raw votes on this important primary day. We're standing by to bring you all the results as they come in from Indiana and North Carolina.
And we're live covering Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama fighting to the finish, win or lose tonight. The best political team on television is here in force with analysis you will only get here.
And new sparks over a gas tax holiday, the Democratic camps trading allegations of pandering. We heard from a top Hillary Clinton backer just a little while ago this hour. A leading Barack Obama supporter, the Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill responds.
I'm Wolf Blitzer at the CNN Election Center. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world.
Right now, most polling places in Indiana are closing their doors and we're standing by to get the first real vote results on this crucial primary day for Democrats.
Heading into today's vote, Hillary Clinton was four points ahead of Barack Obama in Indiana, when you average all the latest state polls. Obama led Clinton by 10 points in today's other battleground, North Carolina -- up for grabs, 72 pledged delegates in Indiana, 115 in North Carolina.
As voting winds down in both states right now, we're going to bring you the raw vote totals as they come in, also new exit poll information, all of that just moments away. The best political team on television is standing by.
And let's begin with Candy Crowley. She's covering the Obama campaign in North Carolina.
All right, Candy, what happened today?
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, Wolf, Barack Obama began his day in Indiana, but he will finish here tonight in North Carolina. It is here in North Carolina where he hopes to start to change the conversation.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: How's it going, guys? How are you?
CROWLEY: Past midnight in Indianapolis, Barack Obama reached out to the night shift as they left an auto parts plant scheduled to shut down in 2010. Half the UAW workers will be out of a job.
OBAMA: Love to have your support tomorrow. Thank you.
CROWLEY: He's been trying to connect in places like this, the plant he visited last night, the diner he visited in the early morning.
OBAMA: Nice to see you. What kind of business you guys in?
CROWLEY: He wants to break Clinton's hold on working-class voters.
OBAMA: People are much more familiar with Senator Clinton and President Clinton and their track record. You have got to give them credit. They have been on the scene for 20 years. And, so, you know, they're not going to go down easy.
CROWLEY: A brutal eight weeks has not helped, losing Ohio and Pennsylvania, and then Jeremiah Wright, followed by Obama's own words about bitter voters in small towns. It has all sown doubt.
OBAMA: Any people still undecided here? Because I want to work on you.
CROWLEY: Despite his turbulent two months, Obama has maintained a lead in delegates. So, what he needs tonight is not so much a game- changer. He badly needs a mood-changer.
CROWLEY: The Obama campaign has not talked much tonight about winning or losing a state, but you hear an awful lot of talk about those pledged delegates and those superdelegates. Right now, as you know, overall, Barack Obama has that lead, and they expect him to hold on to it regardless of what happens tonight -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Candy, stand by in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Hillary Clinton says every primary day is filled with the unexpected. Will tonight's results throw a curve into this race?
Let's go live to CNN's Suzanne Malveaux. She's with the Clinton campaign in Indiana.
All right, what's going on there, Suzanne?
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, really a good night for the Clinton folks is to win Indiana, perhaps by double digits, but also not to lose too badly in North Carolina, but also looking at that group, certainly hoping that Clinton does not win a key group, the older white blue-collar working voters, that Barack Obama does not actually gain any type of lead in those voters, so that she can turn around to the superdelegates and say, it's legitimate that she continue.
MALVEAUX (voice-over): Rev up your engines. Today is going to be a hell of a ride -- Hillary Clinton itching to take that victory lap at the Indy Racetrack today.
SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We need to get on the track in America, and get toward the finish line and change this country.
MALVEAUX: She says her campaign is going full-throttle, no matter what happens when polls close tonight.
CLINTON: It's going to be the rest of these contests which are very significant. And then, in June, if we haven't done it already, we're going to have to resolve Florida and Michigan.
MALVEAUX: But some close to her concede she must win Indiana, and can't lose by more than five points in North Carolina to justify staying in.
Facing that reality, Clinton is also cautious.
CLINTON: Life is unpredictable. Racing is unpredictable. Politics is unpredictable. So, I'm just going to wait and see what the voters have to say.
MALVEAUX: After two weeks of pounding the pavement across the state...
SEN. EVAN BAYH (D), INDIANA: She's been to Hammond. She's been to Whiting. She's been to Hobart. She's been to Crown Point. She's been to Merrillville. She's been to Valparaiso. How about that?
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
MALVEAUX: ... she's courting those voters most loyal, older, white, working-class, trying to prove she is trustworthy and stands with the working people she says she will fight for, promising to bring mandated universal health care, gas tax relief, and home foreclosure aid.
CLINTON: Some people say I'm tough. Well, I think you have got to be tough to go after the oil companies and the oil countries and get...
MALVEAUX: And, Wolf, there's no one I have talked who says they believe this is going to go to the August convention. They hope that Florida, Michigan and the remaining contests all get wrapped up in June. There are many people who still believe she's got momentum, she can move forward, but there are some of her closest supporters who, Wolf, believe that perhaps she's peaked too late -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Suzanne Malveaux reporting for us from Indianapolis, thank you.
We're getting a sense of what's important to voters right now as they cast their ballots. Let's go back to our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider.
He's keeping watch of the exit polls and new numbers, Bill, are coming in.
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: That's right.
And the big question here is who's got the economic issue in these two critical states? Well, the voters certainly have it. In Indiana, almost two-thirds said the economy was the top issue over Iraq and health care. But how did they vote? The answer is, they voted for Hillary Clinton, but by a narrow margin, Clinton 54 percent, Obama 45 percent, just a nine-point margin, a very close race there on the economic issue.
What about North Carolina, where 60 percent of the voters said the economy was their top concern? In that state, North Carolina, Obama led among voters who said the economy was their top concern, but, again, it was close, 52 percent Obama, 44 percent Clinton.
So, the answer seems to be neither candidate has a clear or decisive advantage on the economic issue -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Bill Schneider, thanks very much. Bill Schneider is going to continue to watch all these numbers for us.
Today's crucial primaries are in states that tend to be red states. So, why are North Carolina and Indiana so important right now to the Democrats?
Let's go to our chief national correspondent, John King.
Good question. What's the answer?
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The answer is because the Democratic contest carries on into May, so every state counts, Wolf, even states that are likely to be red come November.
This is the blue map so far. The light blue is Senator Clinton. The dark blue is Senator Obama. Texas was a draw because of the caucus and the primary state. As you can see, we're running out of contests. So, the clock is ticking on Senator Clinton. What does she need to do tonight? Well, she needs number one to win Indiana.
And where do we look for Barack Obama? First let's make this point. We just said the polls are closed, except for in 12 counties in Indiana, six up here and six down there. They have about another 55 minutes of voting to do. So, we will watch that. And, as we speak, this board could start filling in at any moment as the results come in. You might see colors starting to come in.
Two big things to look for tonight. The challenge for Barack Obama is to blunt Hillary Clinton's argument with the superdelegates. She says Barack Obama is too weak in the fall, because he's not winning white, downscale blue-collar Democratic voters. And in a big state like Ohio, a big state like Pennsylvania, that would make all the difference.
Where can Obama prove he's making progress? Right up here. Chicago is here. In this area here, an African-American population in Gary, but also a lot of steelworkers and blue-collar whites work up in this area right up in here.
Another area we would look for Barack Obama tonight, Saint Joseph County is the home of South Bend and the University of Notre Dame. Catholic voters, Clinton pummeled Obama among Catholic voters in Pennsylvania. A key test tonight, can he show even if she beats him progress in a key constituency? That would hurt her argument with superdelegates, even if she carries this state.
The biggest points, Wolf, for Barack Obama, win the African- Americans here, win them here, and hold his own everywhere elsewhere where you have white, downscale Democrats, a lot of rural Democrats. Indiana, a big test of Barack Obama's appeal, even -- again,even if Clinton wins among white voters.
And the challenge for Senator Clinton is very different out here in North Carolina. This is a state where you have more than 20 percent of the electorate is African-American. In every state where that fact exists, Barack Obama, especially south of the Mason-Dixon Line, has won and won substantially. Can Senator Clinton pull off an upset? Can she change the psychology of the Democratic race and be able to say, see, he's now even struggling in states where he should be heavily favored?
Large African-American corridor up here, another one up in this district up here, old tobacco country, one of the poorer places in the country, former slave territory up in this area. And again for Senator Clinton, white rural Democrats down here, quite a few of them out here. A key place to watch early on to see if Barack Obama is struggling at all in this state or whether he's doing what he needs to do, right here in Durham County. This is a highly-educated area, a lot of postgraduate voters, a mix of African-Americans and upscale Democrats.
That has been his base, Wolf. If he's doing well here as the results start to come in early, that would be a good sign for Barack Obama in a state he needs to win.
BLITZER: It's interesting that he decided to stay in North Carolina tonight. That's where he will eventually be speaking. She decided to stay in Indiana. That's eventually where she will be speaking. So, what does that mean? KING: That politics is not rocket science, that he thinks he's going to win North Carolina and she thinks she's going to win Indiana.
BLITZER: It makes a lot of sense. And we will see what happens. If that happens, we will go on to West Virginia a week from today.
KING: That, we will.
BLITZER: John, thanks very much. Don't leave, because we have got a lot of work to do.
And watch what happens just moments from now. The first polls are now closed. We're waiting for the early results to come in. Once those numbers come in, you will see them in real time.
Results in North Carolina and Indiana could dramatically change this Democratic race. What will happen if Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama though split the contest? I will ask Obama supporter Senator Claire McCaskill. She's live. That's coming up.
The latest polling numbers are also coming in from Indiana and North Carolina. We will be back with Bill Schneider. He's going through the exit polls for you.
And how much does money really matter? Who spent the most? Where was the cash spent?
Stay with us as the results of this crucial race unfold tonight -- right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Most of the polls have now closed in Indiana. Some of the polls remain open, but the first raw numbers are now coming in, and trickling in. A very, very small percentage, less than 1 percent of the numbers are in. But we will show them to you as they're coming in. Right now, with less than 1 percent, a lot less than one percent, Clinton with 66 percent, Obama 34 percent in Indiana.
If you take a look at the hard numbers, 2,421 for Hillary Clinton, 1,262 for Barack Obama. Remember, though, this is very, very early. The polls in all of Indiana will be closed at the top of the hour. They will all be closed in North Carolina at 7:30 p.m. Eastern, a half-an-hour after that.
All right, so, stand by. We're watching the numbers come in. You will see them come in at the bottom of your screen.
And we're also getting more information on what the voters are actually thinking.
Our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider, is keeping track of the exit polls.
You have got more numbers, Bill. What are we seeing? SCHNEIDER: We're seeing something we haven't seen in any of the earlier Democratic primaries. Namely, the red/blue culture divide in the country is now dividing the Democratic Party, as Hillary Clinton adopts more populist cultural values and also supports a tax cut that John McCain also supports.
Take a look at the vote among liberal and moderate and conservative Democrats in Indiana. The more liberal the Democrats, the better Obama does. He carries liberal Democrats. He splits moderate Democrats with Hillary Clinton. Conservative Democrats, and there are a significant number of them -- almost 20 percent of the Democrats in Indiana call themselves conservatives -- they are voting for Hillary Clinton, not for Obama.
Look at the pattern in North Carolina, liberal Democrats for Barack Obama, moderate Democrats, too, a little bit less. Conservative Democrats are voting for Hillary Clinton. This is the red/blue divide that has just come up in the Democratic Party. It's affected the country, and now it is dividing the Democratic Party, as one of the candidates, Hillary Clinton, adopts a more populist political style and message -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. Stand by. I know you're going through more numbers, Bill. We will be back with you shortly.
Let's talk about this and let's talk about what's going on with a key supporter for Senator Barack Obama. Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri is joining us now live.
What do you make of this divide that seems to be taking place within the Democratic Party right now, Senator?
SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL (D), MISSOURI: Well, first of all, I don't trust exit polls. They have been wrong in every single contest. And if the top number is wrong, then you have got to question all the data underneath it.
Secondly, I think that there certainly has been a rough couple of weeks for Senator Obama, but if this is about the superdelegates, Wolf, in the last two weeks, Barack Obama has won the contest with superdelegates. In fact, he's been winning the contest with superdelegates since the 1st of February.
There has been nothing that has stopped a 5-1 ratio of superdelegates going to Barack Obama since Hillary Clinton has won primaries, since the Reverend Wright said those outrageous things. Continually, the superdelegates are coming to Barack Obama. And I think, tonight, we will define success by who wins the most delegates.
BLITZER: And, if we see a continue the split, though, between now and June 3, when the final primaries are now scheduled, and no one by then has that magic number of 2,025, potentially, Senator, this could go all the way to the convention at the end of August.
MCCASKILL: No, I don't think it can. I think that the math is unforgiving. Two plus two does not equal five. I think that, once the primary season is over, you're going to have most of the superdelegates will have decided. We're down to only about 250 superdelegates left out of almost 900.
And, you know, at this point, I think we will have a decision in June. And I think a lot of these Democrats, regardless of how they feel right now -- and there's some passionate support for Hillary Clinton, as there is for Barack Obama -- but as we turn our attention to John McCain, and we look at the economics that are going on in this country right now, and we look at foreign policy, I think that our nominee is going to be in a very strong position once this nomination is decided.
BLITZER: Senator, as you know, there are a lot of angry Democrats right now in Michigan and in Florida who feel they have been disenfranchised, no fault of their own, but because of politicians, if you will. And they could take it out on the Democrats in November.
Is there any way you could see that these Democrats in Michigan and Florida will have a say in determining and selecting the party's nominee?
MCCASKILL: Well, all of us look forward to cheering our nominee with the delegates from Florida and Michigan. And all of us are confident that that will happen.
We just have to make sure that we don't change the rules in the middle of the contest. The voters in Florida and Michigan are not at fault here. It was the leaders of their party that decided to go ahead and break the rules, and they knew when they were doing it they were breaking the rules. And we have got to play by the rules.
After all, that is what our country is about. A democracy is about having rules for elections and following them. But all of us want them to be included. All of us want them to be seated, and they will be. It's just going to probably not be determined how or when until more of these primaries take place.
BLITZER: I spoke with your colleague, Evan Bayh of Indiana -- he's a supporter of Hillary Clinton -- in the last hour, and I asked him, why not let the Florida and Michigan voters have their say? They have scheduled primaries August 5 in Michigan, August 26 in Florida, still in time, potentially, at least, before the end of the Democratic Convention at the end of August.
Would you be open to letting those already-scheduled primaries include a question about Hillary Clinton vs. Barack Obama on the ballot?
MCCASKILL: Well, I think it's premature to make those kinds of predictions as to whether or not that's a good idea or a bad idea. It may very well be that one of our nominees has the 2,024 before that.
BLITZER: Obviously. But, assuming neither does, would you be open, as Senator Bayh is open, and he said he was speaking only for himself, not for the Clinton campaign, to letting Democrats vote, people in Michigan and Florida vote on August 5 and August 26, respectively, so that their vote could count in selecting your party's nominee?
MCCASKILL: We will figure out some way to make sure that Michigan and Florida are seated on the convention floor. And, frankly, I hope they have the best seat in the house.
I don't know how we're going to figure it out, Wolf, but we will figure it out. And I trust the Democratic Party, along with Senator Clinton and Senator Obama, to find the solution, so that those people are included. They should be.
BLITZER: Would that be better than having an all-out credentials floor fight at the convention?
MCCASKILL: It would certainly be better, not for you guys, but it certainly would be better for the Democratic Party for us to decide our nominee before the convention.
We have got to get busy. We have got to remind the people in America that John McCain is four more years of George Bush.
BLITZER: And you admit you have got to make sure that those voters in Michigan and Florida don't feel alienated, so that they will come out and vote, from your perspective, for the Democrat, whoever that would be.
MCCASKILL: No question about it. I think we do have to reach out. I think we do have to make them feel included.
I think that's very important. But, at the end of the day, Wolf, they're just as upset about the war in Iraq. They're just as upset about an economy that's left everybody but the very wealthy behind. They're just as upset about gas prices. And, frankly, I think that we can convince them that the Democratic Party is where they need to be this year. I think we do need to reach out to them, and that will happen in time.
BLITZER: I wrote about this on my blog at CNNPolitics.com.
Senator, thanks very much for coming in.
MCCASKILL: Thank you.
BLITZER: The Reverend Wright factor -- exit polls tell us how Democrats feel about the impact of Obama's former pastor.
And would Clinton voters support Obama if he's the nominee in November? And what about Obama supporters if she's the nominee? How committed are they to voting for the Democrats if their guy or gal doesn't get the nomination? The best political team on television is standing by.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: In our Political Ticker, let's take a look and see where the vote stands right now. Most of the polls in Indiana are now closed. Some counties will have their polls remain open until the top of the hour, about a half-an-hour or so from now.
But, right now, less than 1 percent, the numbers just beginning to trickle in, 64 percent in Indiana for Hillary Clinton, 36 percent for Barack Obama. If we take a look at the actual numbers so far, you can see Hillary Clinton with 4,048 to Barack Obama's 2,273. Remember, though, this is very, very early, the numbers only now beginning to come in.
Let's walk over to John King, because he's studying these maps, specifically two states, very closely, Indiana and North Carolina.
KING: And, Wolf, this is a county-by-county map of the Democratic primaries and caucuses so far. Again, the light blue, Senator Clinton. The dark blue, Senator Obama. The green counties are counties where they have tied.
And, look, this is the state of Indiana, as you just noted, beginning to get some very early results. Let's pull it out. But these are very small rural counties. They don't even add up to 1 percent of the statewide vote yet. Lo and behold, maybe you didn't know it, but Indiana has a Clinton Count. And guess what? Senator Clinton is winning 68 percent to 32 percent at the moment in rural Clinton County, Indiana.
The debate in Indiana and in North Carolina has been about the economy. One of the key challenges for Senator Obama, can he improve his standing among white rural Democrats? He has struggled in Ohio, struggled in Pennsylvania. He's trying to boost his standing. And one of the ways he tried to do that was with an ad down here in the Evansville TV market about the economy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, OBAMA CAMPAIGN AD)
OBAMA: Folks know we desperately need change, gas near $4, jobs leaving, health care you can't afford. But the truth is, to fix these things, we have got to do more than change parties in the White House.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Barack Obama there walking the streets in small town in shirtsleeves. And he says he has a plan for health care, he has a plan for the economy.
And how does Hillary Clinton counter? Again, in an area dominated by white conservative Democrats, she says, hey, at a time of almost $4 a gallon gasoline, Barack Obama is not on your side.
And the map took off right there. That happens from time to time. She's running an ad there in Indiana, Wolf, stressing her support and Barack Obama's opposition to that gas tax holiday, Senator Clinton making that case in Indiana. And we will bring this back up right now, as we see the very early counties beginning to come in. Senator Clinton winning so far in these early counties in very, very rural areas. The count progressing very slowly. The debate has been about the economy, in a state, Wolf, especially Indiana, Hillary Clinton has to win and many would argue has to win quite substantially.
BLITZER: And, as the numbers come in, you will see them at the bottom of your screen.
All right, John, thanks very much.
And, to our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now, new exit polls also coming into THE SITUATION ROOM. You are going to find out what voters in Indiana and North Carolina have on their minds and what it means for the candidates short-term and long-term.
Polls in North Carolina close in just about one hour from now. We will be here with the first results from that key contest. All of this, plus the best political team on television.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
More poll closings in tonight's critical contests. Outcomes in North Carolina and Indiana could hinge as this Democratic race unfolds.
So, let's get back to Bill Schneider. He's looking at the latest exit polls.
What are we seeing?
SCHNEIDER: Wolf, it's been a very negative campaign all along and gotten more negative as it goes. But do voters blame either candidate for being more negative than the other? The answer is yes.
We asked voters in both states, do you think either attacked his or her opponent unfairly? Take a look at Indiana now. Do voters in Indiana, Democrats voting in Indiana, believe Hillary Clinton attacked her opponent unfairly? And the answer is 63 percent to 34 percent say yes. Do they blame Barack Obama for attacking his opponent unfairly? The answer is, for Barack Obama, no. Fifty-four percent no, 43 percent yes.
And the same thing, by the way, holds true in North Carolina. A majority blame Hillary Clinton for attacking unfairly. A majority say Barack Obama did not attack unfairly. So, in both states, it appears that Democrats are blaming Hillary Clinton for running a more negative campaign -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Bill, thank you very much.
And I want to quickly recap the early, very early numbers coming in, in Indiana. The polls, at least most of the polls in that state closed at the top of the hour. The rest of the polls are about to close at the top of the next hour.
And, right now, with less than 1 percent of the numbers in, 63 percent, as expected, Hillary Clinton is doing very well in these early largely rural parts of Indiana, 37 percent for Barack Obama. You can see the hard numbers, very small so far, 4,326 for Hillary Clinton, 2,506 for Barack Obama.
But, remember, these are very, very early numbers. And we will see what's -- when the numbers come in at the western part of the state, those are areas, especially in the northwestern part of Indiana, where Barack Obama is expected to do very well. We're watching this closely.
Let's go over to speak with our panel right -- Gloria, Jack and Jeff.
You're watching these early numbers. As you watch them, Jack, and you hear Bill Schneider's exit poll numbers, are you surprised by anything you've seen or heard so far?
CAFFERTY: A little bit surprised that only 20 percent have listed the war in Iraq as being an important issue -- the number one issue with them. I thought it might be a little bit higher than that. The economy, as expected, is on everybody's mind. Goldman Sachs out with a report this morning that within 24 months, we could be looking at $200 a barrel oil. That means $7 or $8 a gallon gasoline.
So I mean the people who are hurting, if that kind of stuff starts to happen, are going to be hurt a whole lot more. And, quite frankly, an 18 cent a gallon three month long tax rebate at the gas pump is a pimple on a bull's whatever.
BLITZER: Well, what surprised me, Gloria, was the Clinton supporters in these two states. When asked, would they vote for Obama if he were the nominee, almost half of them either say they would vote for McCain or wouldn't vote at all. It's a much higher number than the Obama supporters, because they would go to Hillary Clinton if she were to get the nomination. It underscores a bitterness right now that may or may not go away.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. You know, Wolf, I remember when we were sitting back at this desk way back this winter and we saw the same question asked. Democrats really liked all of their candidates. They wouldn't have minded voting for either one of these candidates. And now you see this hardening in these camps. And that does not portend well for a general election.
This has to get resolved in a way that either side does not feel cheated, Wolf, or else you are going to see some Democrats sitting home or voting for John McCain.
BLITZER: And as a lot of people say, Jeff, that will largely depend on the loser -- how the loser reacts to the outcome. JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: I think that's exactly right. But I do think there's a tremendous interest in the Democratic Party in winning this election. And I would take that polling number with a great deal of salt. I don't really buy it, frankly. In 2000, after the McCain/Bush race -- or during the McCain/Bush race -- the same question was asked. And 50 percent of virtually each candidate's supporters said they wouldn't vote for the other.
When it came to election day, it was nearly 100 percent of the Republican Party united. I think it's going to be a similar scenario this time.
BLITZER: What do you think?
CAFFERTY: I think he's absolutely right. I think there's some bitterness and there's some anxiety now. But, you know, the object, at the end of the day, is, in November, to put a Democrat in the White House. And to do that, you need all the Democrats to vote for the Democratic candidate. And I think they'll probably do that.
BLITZER: It's interesting, in both Indiana and North Carolina, according to these exit polls, the Clinton supporters seem to be more bitter toward Obama than the Obama supporters seem to be toward Hillary Clinton.
BORGER: Right. Well, and this exit poll -- we don't know, you know, it could be the other way around. If Obama doesn't get the nomination, if Hillary Clinton were to be the nominee, I guarantee you Obama's supporters would be...
TOOBIN: But let's -- let's...
BORGER: ...just as angry. And one more thing about John McCain, though. He is the one Republican candidate, of all of those that we saw out there, who is really trying to appeal to those Independent voters. And there are things about John McCain that Independent voters like.
TOOBIN: Just the other point about Hillary Clinton's supporters, Hillary Clinton is losing this race. No wonder her supporters are upset, they're embittered.
TOOBIN: I mean she's behind in delegates. She's been behind now for months. I'm not surprised that her supporters are kind of irritated and grouchy. I don't think it tells you much about what they'll actually do in November.
CAFFERTY: You ought to see the e-mail I get from them every day.
TOOBIN: Yes, that's right.
TOOBIN: Well... BORGER: I bet you do.
TOOBIN: That's right. But I think that's part of the whole same story, you know?
CAFFERTY: By the way, there are 13 states that have more than one time zone in the United States.
BLITZER: Did you (INAUDIBLE)...
CAFFERTY: Aaron Cooper down in Atlanta at CNN sent me a note.
TOOBIN: Is that right?
CAFFERTY: Thirteen states that have more than one time zone.
BLITZER: I knew Florida did...
TOOBIN: (INAUDIBLE) we all know that Florida has it.
BLITZER: We're very, very familiar with...
BORGER: We remember that.
BLITZER: ...the western part of Florida.
As you look at this, the various scenarios -- and we don't know what's going to happen tonight.
BLITZER: But one scenario that's widely mooted (ph) is a split decision between -- Hillary Clinton winning Indiana, Barack Obama winning North Carolina.
BLITZER: All right, so if there's a split decision, what happens?
BORGER: See you back here next Tuesday, Wolf.
BLITZER: West Virginia.
BORGER: We'll be doing West Virginia.
CAFFERTY: No, except that Barack Obama likely will lengthen his lead in pledged delegates...
CAFFERTY: ...because North Carolina has more delegates up for grabs. If he wins by 10 or 12 or 14 points down there, he's going to widen his lead over her, even though he may lose Indiana.
TOOBIN: And if he picks up, let's say, 100 delegates tonight, that puts him less than 200 delegates away from the magic number of 2,025. It's very hard for me to imagine that he can't pick up that -- those few delegates in the remaining primaries and from the superdelegates.
BORGER: And, you know, she was really hoping for what she called a game changer tonight. A game changer would be Hillary Clinton winning both of these races or coming really close in North Carolina.
If she doesn't have that game changer, what argument -- what additional argument has she given to a superdelegate to support her -- one who's been sitting on the fence or one who might change his or her mind to go from Obama to Clinton?
What argument? What talking point?
She doesn't have a new one.
BLITZER: All right...
CAFFERTY: I read a thing on the wire today quoting Al Gore as saying he might -- he might endorse. Now he's a superdelegate. And he has been neutral and he has indicated that he was going to stay neutral. Today, he was quoted in an interview saying he might endorse.
Who do you suppose he might endorse?
BLITZER: Well, we'll find out sooner rather than later, if, in fact, he does endorse.
BLITZER: All right guys, stand by...
BORGER: And when?
TOOBIN: It would be a well-attended news conference...
BORGER: And when?
TOOBIN: ...to find out because...
BLITZER: Stand by. We'll see how much clout he might have, as well.
Votes are coming in right now. We're awaiting the first votes from Indianapolis, actually.
Also, brand new exit poll numbers only minutes away. Who's likely -- most likely to beat John McCain? Our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider, is standing by with that.
And Hillary Clinton and African-American voters -- can she win more of them over? Plus, Roland Martin, Bill Bennett, our own superdelegate, Donna Brazile -- they're also standing by to join us, as the best political team on television assesses what's going on this historic night.
Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: About 2 percent of the precincts have now reported in Indiana. You can see the counties here -- these blue counties. That's where Hillary Clinton is leading right now. She's leading in all the counties that have actually started reporting, but a lot of the Barack Obama strongholds haven't even started to report yet.
Let's take a look, with 2 percent of the precincts now in -- 61 percent so far for Hillary Clinton; 39 percent for Barack Obama in Indiana.
If we look at the actual numbers that have come in, you can see 20,316 for Clinton, 13,003 for Barack Obama.
But remember, this is very, very early in the process and those counties reporting so far in Indiana are counties that Hillary Clinton was widely expected to be doing very well in right now. We'll continue to watch this unfold.
And John King is going through some of those counties right now. We'll check in with him shortly.
But let's go back to our panel right now. It shouldn't be a surprise, Gloria, to anyone -- at least in these very early numbers -- that Hillary Clinton in Indiana is doing this well.
BORGER: Yes, right. She is expected to win in Indiana, which is why we've said it was -- would be a split decision, although I think the question is by how much.
If she were to win in Indiana, would it be a double digit win?
That would be huge for her. And then the question is, of course, in North Carolina Barack Obama is expected to win.
And how much does he win by there, because part of Hillary Clinton's argument to superdelegates is that she's catching up to Barack Obama in the popular vote. If she were to lose in North Carolina by a large amount, that could make up the 200,000 voters that she gained in Pennsylvania.
BLITZER: Does it make any difference, Jeff, that both of these states -- North Carolina and Indiana -- are really what they call red states, likely to vote for a Republican come November, in any case?
TOOBIN: At this point, I don't really think so. I think what matters are delegates. Barack Obama's got about a 140 delegate lead in pledged delegates. And if she has any hope of winning the nomination, she's got to cut that number substantially, if not to zero. So, at this point, she's got to get delegates from wherever they can -- red state, blue state.
TOOBIN: And these are the two biggest states remaining.
CAFFERTY: Well, the...
TOOBIN: So it's very important.
CAFFERTY: The other thing, following up on what Jeff's saying, Pennsylvania was always considered a battleground state. Not so sure anymore. It might go Democratic this fall. And given the record of the Bush White House and the rather dismal approval ratings of just about everybody connected with that operation, I'm not so sure some of these red states couldn't be tipped and go Democratic, also, because there's going to be a nationwide referendum.
Newt Gingrich was out today telling the Republicans in the House, you're going to get murdered this fall if you don't sit down and come up with a better plan than what you have. So I'm not sure the red state/blue state thing applies as much.
BORGER: You know, and getting back to this -- to this delegate counting, it's no surprise now that the Clinton campaign is talking more and more about counting delegates from Florida and Michigan, the two disputed states, and making a larger issue of that. Because as they're on the hunt for delegates, this is one place they're really going to look. And they're going to try -- and there's a meeting of the Rules Committee May 31. And if it goes to that, you know, that could be a really important meeting of the Democratic Party.
BLITZER: We've been reporting, Jeff, that they do have scheduled primaries -- statewide primaries, August 5 in Michigan and August 26 in Florida.
BORGER: I'm on vacation.
BLITZER: It wouldn't cost anything...
CAFFERTY: During the convention.
BORGER: Oh, yes.
BLITZER: ...to just add the presidential contest...
CAFFERTY: During the convention.
BLITZER: The second day of the Democratic convention.
CAFFERTY: Only the Democratic Party would do a redo of a statewide primary during the national convention. Only the Democrats could do this.
(LAUGHTER) BLITZER: The party would have to change the rules, because right now you can't have primaries or caucuses after early June.
TOOBIN: Yes. The party would need a psychiatrist for every single delegate if that were the case.
TOOBIN: I mean that -- I think even the Democratic Party is not going to make happen. But I mean, I think, at this point, the Clinton campaign is based entirely on somehow getting Michigan and Florida back into the mix. Because the delegates in this -- there isn't just -- there aren't 130, 150 delegates to be gotten in these remaining primaries. So they're going to have to figure out a way to do it.
BLITZER: Well, you know, there's some suggestions that have been out there now for a couple of days that the Clintons, supposedly, have an inside track with this Credentials -- this delegate committee, if you will and...
BORGER: It's proportional. It's proportionately.
BLITZER: Yes. Well, we'll see.
TOOBIN: We not only have a superdelegate here tonight...
BORGER: We have a member.
TOOBIN: ...we have a member of the Committee.
BLITZER: We'll talk with Donna in a minute.
BORGER: We have a member.
BLITZER: We'll get her thoughts on how this situation can unfold.
All right, guys, stand by.
We're only about 15 minutes away from the polls closing in Indiana. We're less than an hour from the polls closing in North Carolina. They'll be closed there at 7:30 p.m. Eastern. We're going to be bringing you the first results as soon as they come in. When we know, you will know. Plus, new insight into the Democratic race. Bill Bennett. Roland Martin and Donna Brazile are standing by.
We'll be right back.
BLITZER: All the polls in Indiana will be closed in about 12 minutes or so. Most of the polls in that state closed about 50 minutes or so ago. Right now, 3 percent of the precincts have formally reported -- 61 percent for Hillary Clinton, 39 percent for Barack Obama. If we take a look at the hard numbers that have already reported, 25,700 or so for Clinton, 16,689 for Barack Obama.
Let's walk over to Roland Martin, Bill Bennett and Donna Brazile.
What do you think about what's going on, Donna? What can you see?
Because we're watching this about as closely as we possibly can.
DONNA BRAZILE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, throughout the day, I was on the phone, on radio stations talking with Democrats, especially in Indiana, with the new voter I.D. law. People were enthusiastic, of course. We know the old patterns. Hillary Clinton is doing very well in the rural areas. Barack Obama, urban centers, college towns. This is going to be a very unusual election tonight because we might see a situation where Senator Clinton wins one state, Senator Obama wins another state.
The math will not change, but perhaps the psychology now will change among the two candidates.
BLITZER: If there is that so-called split decision -- let's say Hillary Clinton wins in Indiana, Barack Obama wins in North Carolina -- then what?
WILLIAM BENNETT, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I'm not even sure I should be allowed to speak tonight. This is such a Democrat night and contest. But I'll...
ROLAND MARTIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: They're still Americans, Bill.
BENNETT: They are.
MARTIN: You're an American.
BENNETT: Well, Americans, sure. Yes.
BENNETT: But it's a Democrat show. I've got to tell you, I think this is her last best chance, Wolf. And if she doesn't do dramatic tonight, I think it's probably over.
If they split, if he wins North Carolina by 10, 12 points, she wins narrowly in Indiana, I think it's over. Look at the delegate count, look at the numbers. It just doesn't look good. She's made a valiant effort. I've saluted her perseverance. But this party likes Barack Obama, despite problems and issues. The last three weeks, he had the worst three weeks, didn't he, of his campaign, and the party likes him.
BLITZER: Very true.
BENNETT: People like him.
BLITZER: What do you think? MARTIN: Wolf, you have two great candidates. And if I had to use a basketball comparison, talking about Indiana and North Carolina, that's what you have -- two great players here who are going back and forth and they do things very well. She has a core constituency. He has a core constituency.
And so I don't think either one is going to cut into each other.
What this boils down to is who has the lead?
Obama would be happy to trade baskets. At some point, she has to have an upset any place where he is supposed to win to give her any shot. If they split tonight, if they go to West Virginia, Kentucky, go to Oregon, if she can't pull one of those, if it's just back and forth, he takes the nomination.
BENNETT: Or you just say it's split. And North Carolina is a bigger state than Indiana. It's got more delegates. It's got more voters. It tells us more.
MARTIN: One hundred and fifteen to seventy-two; That's huge.
BENNETT: That's right. It's a big -- it's a big difference.
BLITZER: Yes. And West Virginia is not even -- is going to be next Tuesday. It's important state, but the number of delegates is going to be smaller.
BENNETT: That's right.
BRAZILE: Absolutely. But we still care about those five electoral votes. And that's why Senator Obama and Senator Clinton will be competing very heavily in that district.
You know, one thing I want to mention. We keep talking about the superdelegates. We gave Indiana bonus delegates for staying in May and we rewarded North Carolina with additional delegates for moving their primary from April to May. So I just want to talk to people about how generous we are on the Rules Committee, because we rewarded people...
BRAZILE: No, we get spanked from Florida and Michigan.
BRAZILE: We took some, but we also gave some away.
BLITZER: You're a member of the Rules Committee, is that right?
BRAZILE: Yes, I am.
BLITZER: Is it theoretically possible that these already scheduled primaries in Michigan and Florida, August 5 and August 26, could, in fact, include a redo, if you will, of the Democratic presidential primary, if necessary, if neither of these two candidates has reached the magic number?
BRAZILE: Well, first of all, I don't want to start another metric, because the rules, of course, still state that the contest will end on June 10. And they decided -- both states decided not to hold their contests within the rules. So that would require a rule change. And, as you well know, Gloria mentioned it, the Rules Committee will be meeting on the 31st to consider some amendment, perhaps, to our original plan. I don't know. I'm only one member of the Rules Committee and I don't know what decision we'll make.
BLITZER: All right, guys...
BENNETT: We think primaries in August are a most excellent idea in the Democrat Party.
BLITZER: That's what...
BENNETT: We just think it's -- we just think it's super.
BENNETT: August is a great time to have a primary.
BLITZER: Said one excellent Republican.
BENNETT: That's right. That's right.
BLITZER: All right guys, stand by. We're going to take another quick break. Much more of our coverage coming up.
All the polls in Indiana will be closed in, what, about 10 minutes or so, if that. We're watching. Stand by.
A special edition of THE SITUATION ROOM coming up.
BLITZER: Less than six minutes now until all the polls are closed in Indiana. Most of them are already closed. We've got numbers already coming in. In fact, 3 percent of the precincts reporting. And, as expected, in these early precincts, Hillary Clinton doing very well -- 61 percent to 39 percent for Obama. These are counties where Hillary Clinton, as I said, was expected to do well.
If we look at the actual numbers that have so far come in, 29,000 or so for Clinton, 18,700 for Obama. Remember, only 3 percent of the precincts have reported. Very early. Five minutes to go until all the polls in Indiana are closed.
Let's go over to John King. He's looking at the counties of Indiana.
And what are you seeing?
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, we just -- first, this is the first county to light up. Barack Obama is darker blue. It is Allen County. It is where Fort Wayne is. It's one of the significant population centers, about five-and-a-half percent of the state's population. But only a tiny percent of the vote in -- 4 percent. Barack Obama winning that one county.
But if you pull out to the entire state of Indiana, so far, this is Senator Clinton -- the lighter blue. So far, it is filling in the way she would like it to. But we should make these footnotes. Number one, there are still 12 counties in Indiana, as you know, that are open for a few more minutes. Six of them are there and six of them are here. The voting there goes on until 7:00 Eastern, 6:00 local in the Central time zone portions of Indiana. So we're waiting and in a few moments, we'll get the votes in there.
Why is that significant?
For starters, this is an area where Barack Obama is expected to do well in the state.
And if he is going to pull off any upset in Indiana, it would be up here.
Here's Chicago; Gary, Indiana; Hammond, Indiana. These -- some of these areas are Chicago suburbs and all of these areas get their television from Chicago TV. So we will continue to watch this.
But, Wolf, right now, as you watch the early map fill in in Indiana, remember, the economy was the issue there. Unemployment in these counties up here runs up around 7 percent -- very rural counties. Senator Clinton is winning 60-40 here. Senator Clinton winning again, almost 60-40, there. These are rural areas. The state unemployment rate was in the mid-fours just six months ago. It is up above 5 percent now. The economy in Indiana has been Thanks, John, very much.
. She is winning right now, very early, where she needs to win in this state -- rural white Democrats, rural white Democrats, rural white Democrats. Where Barack Obama needs to perform strongly, Fort Wayne, Indianapolis, Gary -- we're still waiting for those to come in.
BLITZER: And in a few minutes, all the polls will be closed, as we say, in Indiana. And a half an later, at 7:30 p.m. Eastern, North Carolina -- all the polls will be closed there, as well. We have no numbers -- no numbers actually coming in from North Carolina yet. And all those counties are white.
But we should get some early indications of what's going on there.
KING: We should. And, again, if you look at the county by county of the Democratic race so far, number one, you are struck at how many -- how few places are left. Here's West Virginia and Kentucky. Those are the contests coming up in the next two weeks.
But I want to stretch this out just a little bit to show you the neighborhood over here. Senator Clinton does well in the neighborhood over here. This has been Obama country because of the sizable African- American population in Virginia, in South Carolina, in Georgia, in Alabama, in Louisiana. Barack Obama has done very well, especially in the South, in states with a significant African-American population. It is over 20 percent here in the State of South Carolina.
A few key places to watch. Senator Clinton wants to win out here, where you have conservative white Democrats. She wants to win down here, where you have conservative white Democrats. The wildcards -- some of the population growth. A lot of new retirees along the coast here in some of the communities over here. There's an African-American Congressional district that runs something like a -- it's like a snake up through there. That's one place to watch, a place where Barack Obama needs to do well.
And, Wolf, if we want to look at one county tonight to say is Barack Obama doing in North Carolina what he has done in other places, I would say -- and I'm going to clear this so it's not confusing -- we would look up in this area here. Durham County, Raleigh/Durham, the research triangle. It has a significant African-American population, but it also has a significant upscale Democrats, white Democrats, postgraduate degrees. They work in high tech. They teach in the universities. If Barack Obama is performing well here, where you have both of his bases, if you will -- more affluent Democrats, African- American Democrats -- that will be an early key as to whether North Carolina is going for him, as other states have done. Again, the dark blue has been Barack Obama.
BLITZER: He did very well in South Carolina. He did very well in Virginia, as we can see. The fact is that, according to the exit polls -- and Bill Schneider was telling us -- more than 90 percent of the African-Americans in North Carolina going for Barack Obama. And that's a significant portion of the Democratic vote.
KING: If he is getting 90 percent of the African-American vote in this state and turnout is decent -- even if it's just decent -- it's very hard to beat Barack Obama under those circumstances. And, anecdotally, we've been told throughout the day that turnout seems to be pretty high in both states -- North Carolina and Indiana. So...
BLITZER: Some suggest it's a record in both states.
KING: So if you are -- if Barack Obama is getting 90 percent of the African-American vote, then the question in North Carolina becomes what is the proportion of the white vote. If he's getting 90 percent of African-American vote, all he has to do is hold his own. He can lose the white vote but just hold his own and get a significant margin and could be on his way to a decent victory.
We're all white right now in this state because we have no results just yet. So we'll see how that goes.
But that is a critical question because, as you know, and as we've talked about for weeks, Hillary Clinton not only needs to make up ground in the math tonight. She needs to change the psychology of the Democratic race. Because even if she wins the rest of the contests, she is unlikely -- very unlikely to catch up to Barack Obama with delegates unless she starts winning hugely.
We've come back to Indiana just to show you, Wolf, more and more of the results coming in. So far, most of the counties for Senator Clinton. But as we wait for the final polls to close in just a few seconds, at the moment, Wolf, we're seeing the map fill in the way Senator Clinton would like it.
Now the question is the margins and does this hold up?
BLITZER: All right, John.
Thanks very much.
We're going to be spending a lot of time with you over at that wall. We're going to be seeing a lot more of North Carolina. The polls there are closing in 30 minutes.