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Live Coverage of Republican Presidential Contests in Minnesota, Missouri and Colorado

Aired February 7, 2012 - 23:00   ET



RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I never thought as a first-generation American whose parents and grandparents loved freedom and came here because they didn't want the government telling them what to believe and how to believe it. That we had a first amendment that actually stood for freedom of conscience, that we would have a president of the United States who would roll over that and impose his secular values on the people of this country.

And it's worse than that. When one of the Catholic bishops tried to communicate that through Army chaplains, the Obama administration said no, you can't do that. No, because your language is seditious. And they made them change the language of a letter from a bishop to his people.

Ladies and gentlemen, freedom is at stake in this election. We need to be the voice for freedom.


SANTORUM: And that founding document, the declaration of independence, at the end of the document, the founders signed their names. But the last clause of the document said we pledge our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.

Ladies and gentlemen, every generation of Americans doesn't create freedom, but they have in many respects a harder job. They have to maintain freedom. Your charge tonight, your charge tonight here in Missouri because we're not done yet with you here in Missouri. You have a caucus coming up next month.


SANTORUM: Go out and pledge, pledge, no, not your lives, maybe your fortune, is the Web site, but your honor, the honor that you stand on the backs and shoulders of your ancestors. The people here in St. Louis, the people here Missouri, the people across this country who sacrificed for this country, for the freedoms we have.

America's honor, your honor is at stake. Go out and preserve the greatest country in the history of the world. Thank you all and God bless.



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Listening to Rick Santorum celebrating two wins in Missouri and Minnesota. We're still looking at the numbers in Colorado right now at 11:00 p.m. The vote in, Mitt Romney is a - well, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum are tied, both at 37 percent with Newt Gingrich down in third place at 17 percent. Ron Paul at nine percent.

What do you think of what Santorum was saying?

ARI FLEISCHER, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Rick Santorum is fluent in the language of conservatism. And that's powerful through Republican primary. It comes comfortably. It comes naturally he talks about - just from the very beginning, my wife, the rock, thank God. When he says thank God, you know it's not a politician saying a line. It has part of it comes from the heart.

COOPER: It goes back to his speech I think it was in Iowa, where he talked about the hands of his grandfather where he was an immigrant of the country.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That was controversial.

FLEISCHER: What he does is talk to the people that I am of the conservative movement. I speak the language, it's in me. It is who I am. It's not an artifice, it's not training. It's natural. That's what I think that's what his natural connection is with the conservatives that will presents if you become the nominee and you across the face who is in the middle within independence. But he has that conservative language down and that's comforting to a lot of people who say I don't know if I can trust Romney. He has got to a lot of second thoughts.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Your wife doesn't hurt you with women voters either, by the way. No, no, it wasn't, but then he took a turn and he criticized Barack Obama, which, of course, is something as David was saying, he ought to do, but then he really hit hard against Mitt Romney and pounded him and said, You know, Mitt Romney is the same as Barack Obama. And he paid no attention to Newt Gingrich, as if he wasn't even in the race.

COOPER: We should point straight that CNN is projecting that Ron Paul will come in second in Minnesota.

DONNA BRAZILE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: He did very well in the college towns, in St. Paul and Minneapolis. I'm not surprised.

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Back to Rick Santorum, he didn't go presidential. I was surprised he didn't make any of that turn. But he is very different than a conservative than Mitt Romney as he is. He's what we call a street corner conservative. He's very much for the working people of the country. He has -- there's a populous quality about the way he talks that relates I think the word for people in a very, very different way from what Mitt Romney tries to do and doesn't communicate.

COOPER: It does seem, to Ari, but it's very natural as well.

FLEISCHER: It's very natural. I think it's very natural. And he came up with a way against Obama that is potentially more telling than what Romney has been arguing. Romney has been arguing he's wrong headed.

What Santorum is saying is he's basically a snob. And he's not listening to you because he thinks he's smarter than you. And he's associated with people who are looking at Obama and say I respect him, but who the hell does he think he is for lecturing me about this, that, and the other? It's an interesting turn of the argument, and I would argue that Republicans may find that a more potent argument than the one they have been making.

BORGER: Well, the campaign moves to the Midwest and the rust belt, former Pennsylvania senator, he understands that language as well.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST, OUT FRONT: One thing we wanted to show, we were talking - we are going to the people behind. Gloria and I are talking with this. I think we have -- we can show you when you were looking at Rick Santorum, right next to him, was a guy in the green tie. The guy in green tie going like this, that guy is a super PAC donor. It is. It's Foster Friess which is the top donor and literally to these guys as you were calling them earlier sugar daddy.

COOPER: There he is now.

BURNETT: That's Foster Friess.

FLEISCHER: It looks like a sugar daddy.

BURNETT: And he's a very wealthy man. He supports born-again evangelical causes. He has given a million dollars to Coke brother caucus among other things based in Miami, big investment manager. Has given about half of the $730,000 super PAC right wing at Bloomberg Rick Santorum has raised.

The reason is important. You are not supposed to have as we all know or you're super PAC according with your campaign at all. So, it's interesting whether appropriate or not. It's been question --



BRAZILE: But, let me say this in terms of the speech. First of all, it was not that good. A good speech has five ingredients. Start low, go slow, rise high, strikes back, sit yourself down.


BRAZILE: Really. I'm catholic, but I worked for a lot of Baptists.

COOPER: The end is sit yourself down? BRAZILE: Yes. Well, there's another word but sit yourself down.

But look. This is an opportunity for Rick Santorum to reintroduce himself to the conservative voters in Arizona and Michigan and all these other key states down the road. He didn't really do that. He really does have an interesting background as a blue-collar type Republican. He could have made that argument. Instead, I though t he wasted a lot of times. He was still in process, I have been outspent. Of course, he was doing - well, Obama thinks he knows better. But I think it was a good speech.

FLEISCHER: That Obama thinks he knows better is reverberating with conservatives. They want to hear that. And when he said I'm not --


FLEISCHER: I think you have to give him that, but he has to turn the stone of looking presidential. I don't think he's done that. He comes across more s almost a school boy.

COOPER: I want to bring in Jessica Yellin who has been with us all night as well. From the White House perspective, Jessica, I mean, they have to be pleased to see Rick Santorum doing so well in two major states tonight to keep this thing going.

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: This is great news for them, Anderson. They're just watching the show and enjoying it. I mean, first of all, if this were to come to pass, they would love to run against Rick Santorum because this election will be decided in the middle, and by swing voters who prefer moderate candidates. And Obama folks believed that it would not be hard to make the case at the president is far more in the middle than Rick Santorum who tends to run on social issues.

But they ultimately believe that Mitt Romney will be the nominee, and it just stretches the primary out, and it creates more weaknesses. Here comes Ron Paul. It creates more weaknesses they can point to Mitt Romney and Mitt Romney will get more negative in they're convinced coming days.

COOPER: And here you see Ron Paul and his wife. Dr. Paul is about to speak. Let's listen in. He did come in second in Minnesota. Let's listen.



CROWD: President Paul! President Paul! President Paul! President Paul! President Paul! President Paul!

PAUL: Thank you, thank you. Thank you for all your hard work, and believe it or not, we did very well tonight and had a very, very strong second place, and it's going to continue.

(APPLAUSE) PAUL: But you know we've had some good news today. Maybe you have seen, but there was a recent Reuter's poll out recent - just today. It's the first time that we came in second in a national poll in the Republican primary.


PAUL: And we do have to remember, you know, the straw vote is one thing, but there's one other thing called delegates, yes!


PAUL: And that is where we excel. We know what to do by getting delegates. Even in a state that ended up a little confusing, you know Nevada. I understand that we're going to do very well in Nevada in getting delegates.


PAUL: And of course, tonight, I have heard nothing but good stories about all of you staying around and going through the process. Understanding the process, and voting and getting delegates. So when the dust settles, I think there's a very good chance that we're going to have the maximum number of delegates coming out of Minnesota.


PAUL: There's other good news, too, and it's an ongoing caucus on the east coast, I think it's the state called Maine. We're doing very well there, and we're going to hear results on that on Saturday, and I think those results are going to be very good as well.

But I want to really thank you for the effort and the one thing that I'm convinced of, those who join the campaign for liberty and promote this cause, really believe in something. I keep thinking. It must be a lot more fun believing in something that just campaigning for nothing.


PAUL: As a matter of fact, that's what makes it easy going because this is what the effort has been all about. And I have been so impressed. I have been involved for a long time, but it's been the last several years, especially since the last campaign four years ago.

The world has changed dramatically, and our reviews are not only being accepted, they're being sought after, because for so long, people have said as long as we're rich and as long as we can borrow money and as long as we can print money and the people will take care of us and we won't have to worry, but guess what happened four years ago?

All of a sudden, actually, the bankruptcy was declared, and this is the reason why the economy is in bad shape. The world economy is in bad shape, everybody thinks we're going to bail them out, and they think the dollar is going to bail them out, and most Americans are saying no way you can do it. There's no way you can keep the entire system and the debt rising at over a trillion a year, and we have to challenge the entitlement system and the foreign policy that gives us these perpetual wars.


PAUL: The biggest problem we've had is convincing people who are in office that they're spending too much in Washington. Today, the American people are way ahead of the people in Washington.

And quite frankly, I think it's important to know that there's only one candidate and only one campaign that offers real cuts and in the first year of the new presidency, there will be $1 trillion cut from the budget.


PAUL: Every once in a while, people tell me, they said Ron, you could do a lot better if you would just change your tune on this foreign policy stuff, but guess what. It's the foreign policy that has built our campaign.


PAUL: Some people think foreign policy is separate from economic policy, but what usually happens, and it's been known in most recent history, is foreign policy is the economic policy. Fortunately, we never had to fight the soviets. Of course, I was very much aware of the fight with the soviets in the cold war, having been in the military in the '60s. But lone be hold the soviets self-destructed because they expanded themselves too far around the world and went bankrupt. Unfortunately, we didn't have to fight them. And we, unfortunately, are facing the same problem.

We have extended ourselves too far around the world. We have gotten in wars that are unconstitutional. They have never been declared. We don't know why they're there. We don't know when they're over. So, the most important thing, a new president could do is bring the troops home.


PAUL: And it would save a lot of money. We don't need to pay all this money to keep troops all over the country, 130 countries, 900 bases. But also, just think, bringing all the troops home rather rapidly, they would be spending their money here at home and not in Germany and Japan and South Korea, tremendous boost to the economy.

But you know, under war time conditions, people generally get more careless about their civil liberties. And that's what happened in this country. We have permitted our government to undermine our civil liberties all in the name of safety and security. But we were told in de-founding this country that you should never sacrifice your liberties for safety or security because you'll end up with neither.

This is the reason I have come to the conviction you never have to sacrifice your liberty if you want to be safe, never.


PAUL: But we now are living in an age where civil liberties are poorly protected. We have a Patriots act that has canceled out the fourth amendment. We have had a bill - we have a bill that the national defense authorization act that permits the arrest of citizens by the military without a trial and put in prison indefinitely. That's not part of what America is about and those laws have to be repealed if we want to live in a true republic.


PAUL: Our government is too big. The bigger a government gets, the smaller our liberties become. Government is way too big, and that's why we're losing our liberties. We're losing our economic liberties as well as our personal liberties.

So, therefore, what we must do is cut back. Now, how did we get into this trouble? Yes, there's always an appetite for big government. There's always this temptation of getting something for free, and there's always a motivation, we'll help the poor people.

The trouble is when you endorse the principle of the redistribution of wealth evenly they will pretend it is going to help the poor. Guess what, the redistribution gets handed off to the rich and they're the ones who benefit. They are the ones who become wealthy. And when they get into trouble, guess who gets the bailouts, the wealthy wall streeters and bankers. This is the reason there should be no bailouts at all.


PAUL: But there's a simple little trick that they played on us and the American people. That trick was played on us in the monetary system. They figured you know well, yes it's a wealthy country. Freedom produces a lot of wealth and that was fine. We can tax the people to a certain point then people get annoyed.

So - but we still -- the politicians still want to pass out all the goodies, so they think we'll keep borrowing. The credit good, we keep borrowing until interest rates go up, aha, interest rates going up, that's going to hurt the economy, so we have to have another gimmick.

And that gimmick was invented in 1913. It was made a disaster in 1971. And that is the destruction of the currency through an illegal operation, an unconstitutional operation of the Federal Reserve System which we should address and have a full audit and find out where and how they're spending all our money.


PAUL: You know, we get into so much trouble because the constitution has been ignored, whether it's going to war or the constitution still says only gold and silver can be legal tender. So, I would say that it would be very proper to send only people to Washington and those who are there hold their feet to the fire that we want people to obey the law of the land which is a constitution, and you can't print money, you can't go to war without a declaration and can't undermine our privacy any longer.


PAUL: The solution is not difficult. The solution was once well known in America, and that's when we understood and respected personal liberty, understanding that liberty came as the declaration of independence indicated. It came from our creator. We have a right to our life we should. We have a right to our liberty. We should have a right to keep the fruits of all our labors.


PAUL: But we have undermined that productive system by having too much government, too much spending, too much borrowing, too much printing of money and too many regulations.

So the reversal is obey the constitution, get the government out of the way. People say there will be no regulations. No, the regulations would be tougher because the people who are supposed to go bankrupt would go bankrupt and they wouldn't get bailed out.


PAUL: But the wonderful thing about a free society is a prosperous society. We all should be humanitarians. And unfortunately, we who advocate this position haven't done a very good job over the years because we should convince people that those who grab the moral high ground and say we're going to take care of the poor, what do they do? Welfare-ism and inflationism, and socialism, they produce the poor. It is only free in that produces to prosperity. It gives us the broadest distribution of wealth. It gives us the biggest middle class and wealthiest middle class. That's being undermined and destroyed and the problem can be solved with a true understanding and conviction and restoration of individual liberty.


PAUL: The wonderful thing about the principles of liberty is that it brings people together because everybody won't use their liberty in the same way. But if you understand that, you will tolerate other people and how they spend their money and how they run their lives, it's what they do, as long as they don't hurt people.

So, for this reason, people of diversity would come together. Because they don't want lose their liberty. They respect other people's liberty as well. This is why the solution is not that difficult. We have had this experimentation, we had the greatest success and we lost our faith and confidence, and that's what we need restored. We have to truly understand it.

And it's not going back to the old days. We don't have to go back to an old gold standard or to those principles. We need to go back and pick up the pieces and advance and modernize it. We need an advancement of the cause of liberty and the understanding of liberty. This is the only solution if our goal be peace and prosperity, it's the only way you can achieve peace and prosperity. That should be our goal. It shouldn't be the goal of governments and these ship makers to run your life, to police what you do, to police other people around the world, nor to tell you how to run your economy and spend your money. It's the cause of liberty that we must restore, and we're well on our way and we're going to keep this momentum. And thank you very much. Thank you!



COOPER: Ron Paul responding to his second place win in Minnesota tonight. Clearly for him the battle continues in Colorado right now with 26 percent of the vote in. Rick Santorum is in the lead with 42 percent of the vote, Mitt Romney in second place with 31 percent. Again, just only about 26 percent of the vote in. If that trend continues in Colorado, that is significant.

GERGEN: It is. I think it's surprising to all of us. You know, one thing that is heart to explain to folks back home is why, why did this happen this way tonight? Do you have theories about it?

BORGER: Yes. Well, I think Rick Santorum didn't play in Florida. He didn't play in Nevada. He picked his spots. He knows that these caucuses attract very conservative voters, and that's who he was appealing to.

GERGEN: Romney can't leave the field open to him.

COOPER: He was running the state four years ago. He now came in third.

BORGER: He wins in Minnesota I believe the day after the Florida primary, but he has been in the state once.

COOPER: We're going to check in with John King shortly to look at what is happening in Colorado to look where the votes so far in just to get a sense of how soon we'll be able to project this with 26 percent in.

FLEISCHER: We should be cautious about Colorado. We don't know the results yet. I think Mitt Romney still has a chance to win Colorado from what I hear from people I talked to on the ground there. Santorum is going to come in and relatively close second. But it probably would still be a Romney state, they are telling me.

So don't jump to this conclusion that Rick Santorum had a sweep yet, but he's had a very good night. To answer your question, David, I think it does show a real fundamental conservative problem with Mitt Romney. He's not showed up in that part of the base yet, and this will be tested right through whenever the last race is, this primary.

BORGER: Even if he gets a nomination, you'll still always have that question about him which is how enthusiastic will the debates be with Mitt Romney because the last thing tea party voters wanted was a so- called establishment candidate. If you look at Mitt Romney's backing in all of these states that we've seen, it's the establishment. They had the establishment.

BRAZILE: Four years ago, 60 percent of the vote. I mean, it's a drop-down. I mean, the turnout is still going right now, but -- and he's looking well and some of the comments around him. But to go down this far over the last 48 hours --


BRAZILE: Fractural weakness is involved, not just a message, not just the base. But also some --

BURNETT: We have a couple weeks before the 28th, right, when we're going to have the Arizona - well, debate on the 22nd and the 28th, they are going to have -- that's a lot of time.

FLEISCHER: That is a lot of time, and candidates will fill that void with attacking each other.


FLEISCHER: But remember, Mitt Romney did do very well among all conservatives and even with evangelical voters in Florida and Nevada, so again, you have to be judicious in how much one state carries to the next.

COOPER: Let's check in with Wolf. Let's take a look at where the numbers are.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I just want to go over and bring in some of our correspondents at these various headquarters.

Jim Acosta is over at Romney headquarters in Colorado. We still haven't heard from Mitt Romney. Dana Bash is at Santorum headquarters in Missouri. We have heard from Santorum. Let me go to Jim Acosta first. You got a little crowd behind you. They are getting ready at some point I assumed, fairly soon Jim, to hear from the former Massachusetts governor.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And the headline tonight for the Romney campaign might be Boston, we have a problem. This is obviously not the night Mitt Romney was anticipating. Although earlier in the day, they did put out that campaign memo to reporters basically saying that they knew tonight wasn't going to go in their direction.

I did get confirmation from a Romney campaign source just a few minutes ago that the former Massachusetts governor did put a phone call in to Rick Santorum. He did not get through, did not connect with Santorum, but he did leave a message of congratulations. So, we do know that that did happen tonight. That hasn't always happened on every caucus and primary night, as we know.

But I can tell you that this room, we talked about a few moments ago, was not even half full. It's started to fill in a little bit. But guys, I have to tell you. This room is still not completely full. And keep in mind. We're in the city of Denver. This is a large metropolitan area, outside of the city limits. You have a lot of conservative Republicans, and Mitt Romney is not filling the room tonight -- Wolf.

BLITZER: A huge loss for Romney if he doesn't carry Colorado. I think everyone was expecting he would. We will see what's going on.

Let me go over to Dana Bash over at Santorum headquarters. We just heard from the Pennsylvania senator. He has won the primary in Missouri. He has won in Minnesota, the caucuses. We're waiting for Colorado.

What are they saying about the phone call from Romney to Santorum -- Dana.

DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I don't think rick Santorum has checked his voice mail yet. I think that's the answer, because our Deirdre Wallace just asked Rick Santorum if he's heard from Mitt Romney, he said emphatically, no. So, maybe he'll pick up the message after he goes back and sits down with his wife and soaks in the evening he's had.

But, you know, it's interesting. We talk about the relationship between these candidates. You know, privately, the Santorum campaign has said they generally had pretty good relations when it comes to the human element of this with the Romney campaign.

In fact, they noted that when Santorum's daughter, Bella, was in the hospital last week or the week before with pneumonia, that not only did Romney call him. He put up something on his Web site saying that of course, that he and his campaign wish her well, and that's not something privately they noted that Newt Gingrich did.

And so, you definitely have an interesting dynamic going on between all of the candidates. But at least when it comes to big nights and big moments and important moments, they seem to be connecting with one another.

BLITZER: They are. All right, Dana. As soon as -- we'll check back with you.

I want to check in on the vote right now. We know what is happening in Minnesota and Missouri. But in Colorado right now, 28 percent of the vote is in. Rick Santorum still maintaining a lead over Mitt Romney, 41 percent to 31 percent; 15 percent for Gingrich, 12 percent for Ron Paul.

You can see the actual tally there, 1,931 for Rick Santorum. That's 495 votes ahead of Mitt Romney with 1,436.

Let's go to John king over at the magic wall. Everybody simply assumed going into this that Colorado was Mitt Romney's state and he was going to win. And he still might win because we only have 28 percent of the vote, but it's looking pretty close between Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: If anyone is asking why did you expect that? Why do you think this was a Romney state?

Let's go back in time. Again, John McCain was your nominee four years ago. Mitt Romney won Colorado with 60 percent of the vote.

Look at this number here. It's a caucus state, the caucus state, right. So, add that up, somewhere in the ballpark a little over 70,000 votes, that's four year ago. Let's fast forward here to almost 30 percent of the vote. And they are not going to come anywhere close.


KING: And this is the precincts now. The vote will go up at precincts. But they are not out of path coming anywhere close. The moment Senator Santorum with the 10 point lead. Now, that's a big lead. But remember, 28 percent of the vote, look at what's out. I want to bring you into this area right around here. And down here.

Colorado Springs will be interesting to watch. You got to turn this off and go back in time, Mitt Romney carried this area four years ago. It's the home of focus on the family, a major social conservative group, it's long time leader, Dr. James (inaudible) supports Santorum this time. An evangelical pocket right here. We'll watch when those results come in tonight. We have nothing. Absolutely nothing from there right now.

Here is what is very important. I want to go back in time again to show you four years ago. Governor Romney carried the Denver area. Not just the Denver area, but the suburbs to the north, to the south, and the exurb as you move out, very important Republican territory.

Look at Adams County here, 67 percent four year ago. Right now, Santorum is carrying that with 41 percent. But that one is all the way in. So, that's the setback for Governor Romney losing a county he won four years ago.

Here is what we're waiting on here, Jefferson County. It's about 12 percent of the state-wide population. We have nothing right now. Nothing there. Four years ago, it was a huge Mitt Romney county with 65% percent of the vote.

So, we're waiting. This count has been quite slow out here. Let's go come back up to 2012. The count was quite slower, we were stuck at 11 percent for about an hour. We have jumped to 28 percent. We're waiting now for this to come in. One of the legacies of this campaign will be people questioning caucuses, Iowa, Nevada, now Colorado having a slow camp. They frustrates you.

But here's another place you are looking for the votes to come in. Only about three percent of the population over here. But again, very strong if you go back in time. Mitt Romney, 67 percent of the vote out in Mesa County four years ago. So, if you look at four years ago then you match up right now. You know Rick Santorum already from the Denver suburbs is winning one county that Romney carried four year ago. We need to wait for the rest of this to come in. I suspect this numbers is going to jump quickly when we get more results.


KING: We have technical issues with the state Republican Party which is jumps from 11 to 28. We are going to wait and if you pull this out and go back to where we are, we'll take the telestrator up. This is -- this one, everyone in the Romney campaign will say, no surprise, we didn't compete in Missouri. It's non-binding.

This one, they pulled out late. They say, well, the conservative based turned out. Those are rationalizations, you may call them explanations. Front runners do lose sometimes. You see bars with sometimes in a party.

Is it the end of the Romney campaign? No, absolutely not. That will be a major setback, cause a bit of a psychological jolt in the Republican Party.

BLITZER: If Santorum who is ahead right with 28 percent of the vote in Colorado. If he goes on to win Colorado, that's a huge step back for Romney. He's there. We are going to be hearing from him momentarily. I think folks over there at Romney headquarters, Jim Acosta is there, they're getting ready to hear from Mitt Romney. We'll take his speech of course live, Anderson. That's why I love covering politics because you know what, you never know what is going to happen.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: And Mitt Romney's son right now is speaking to the crowd who is waiting for their candidate to appear, Governor Romney. We are of course going to bring that to you live.

Ari, from what you're hearing though, from people on the ground, they still anticipate Romney pulling out some sort of a win.

ARI FLEISCHER, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Yes. These are not people within the campaign. These are people who are in Colorado, know the Colorado field. And that's their assessment. They still think it's going to be a Romney win.

COOPER: And there is the candidate right now. Let's listen in.


MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Here we go. Hey, guys. Thanks, you guys. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you so much. Thanks, guys. Thank you.

Now, that's a little smaller than the 2800 people last night at Arapahoe high school, but you're just as loud. Congratulations. Thank you.


ROMNEY: It's great to be in Denver tonight. A lot of snow on the ground, pretty cold, but warm to be in the room with so many friends here. I want to say thank you to you. The race is too close to call in Colorado at this point, but I'm pretty confident we'll come in number one or number two. And I'm looking for a good showing. You guys, I know there are still some people getting back from caucuses, but I want to say thanks for the efforts you made to get out to caucuses and to support my effort.

And I want to say thanks to people also in Missouri and Minnesota who took time to vote today. This was a good night for Rick Santorum. I want to congratulate senator Santorum. Wish him the very best. We will keep on campaigning down the road. But I expect to become our nominee with your help.


ROMNEY: So, I want to congratulate all of my fellow Republicans. Particularly senator Santorum, and I look forward to the contest to come.

But we're going to take our message of liberty and prosperity to every corner of the country. And when this primary season is over, we're going to stand united as a party behind our nominee to defeat Barack Obama and restore the values that have made America the greatest nation in the history of the earth.


ROMNEY: Now, three years ago, you may remember Barack Obama came to Colorado to accept his party's nomination for the presidency, and he rented out a huge stadium. He got some of those Styrofoam Greek collars, remember that? And it had two giant TV screens that set the mood. And on that big stage here in Denver, he made some even bigger promises.

He said that the Democrats had a different measure of what constitutes progress. And then he went on to define it. He said look, under his definition, progress would be measured by how many people can find a job that pays a mortgage. That was his definition.

Now, what has happened? More Americans have lost their jobs during President Obama's term than during any other president in modern history and more Americans have lost their homes during President Obama's term than during any other in modern history. Under his own definition, President Obama has failed. We will succeed.


ROMNEY: Again, in that same speech, he went on defining progress. He went on and he said progress will be determined by, again, quote, "whether the average American family saw its income go up instead of down." And during the last four years, the median income in this country has fallen by about 10 percent. Again, by his own definition, President Obama has failed. We will succeed.

(APPLAUSE) ROMNEY: Candidate Obama went on to say that we could measure progress by determining whether someone with a good idea can take a risk and start a business. Do you see what has happened to small business in this country during President Obama's term? There were almost 100,000 fewer new business start-ups this last year than there were in the years before president Obama came to office. So by his own definition, President Obama has failed and we will succeed.


ROMNEY: One more promise. Candidate Obama said we could see progress in an economy that honors the dignity of work. Now, under President Obama, the average duration of unemployment has more than doubled. And there's some 14 million more people on food stamps today than when he took office. Again, by President Obama's own definition, he has failed, and we will succeed.


ROMNEY: Now, this week you heard President Obama on TV say that he deserves a second term because, and I quote, "we have made progress." No, Mr. President, under the definition of progress you made right here four years ago in Denver, you have not made progress.

Three years ago, President Obama just after his inauguration said if he couldn't turn the economy around in three years, he would be looking at a one-term proposition, and we're here to collect, we're here to take back the White House.


ROMNEY: This is a moment in time when our country is crying out for fundamental change and reform. Washington cannot reform itself and Washington will never be reformed by those who have been compromised by the culture of Washington. This is a clear choice. I'm the only person in this race, Republican or democrat, who has never served a day of time in Washington.

In the world I come from, leadership is about starting a business, not trying to get a bill out of committee. I have said over and over that this campaign is more about changing the soul of America or protecting the soul of America, saving the soul of America than it is about changing the president.

We all know in our hearts that the soul of the nation could be corrupted by a Washington culture of reckless spending, voting to raise their own pay, saying that they support term limits and then running for re-election time after time after time. It's that Washington that we have to change, and when I'm president, we will.


ROMNEY: This is not a moment when we can continue to do business as usual. This is not a moment when we can expect those in Washington to realize suddenly that they have been wrong all the time and they'll get it right next time. This is a time for real change in Washington. Fundamental, bold, dramatic change.

Now, I stand before you ready to lead the party and lead the nation. I've led businesses, I have led Olympics, I had a chance of helping lead a state. President Obama recently said he's learning.


ROMNEY: We say he's learning too little and too late. The presidency is not a place to learn how to lead. It's a place to exercise the judgment and leadership that has been learned over a lifetime, and that's precisely what I'll do.


ROMNEY: I know that many of us are concerned about our future. Over the last 30 years, I can't tell you how many times I have heard that a situation is hopeless or heard a long list of reasons some things can't be done. But I have never been very good at listening to those people and I have always enjoyed proving them wrong.

It's one of the lessons I learned from my dad. My father never graduated college. He acridest as a Latin plaster carpenter. And he was pretty good at it. He actually could take a handful of nails, stick them on his mouth and then spit them our pointing forward.

On his honeymoon, he put aluminum paint in the trunk of the car and sold it along the way to pay for the gas and the hotels. There are a lot of reasons why my father could have given up and set aside a lot lower. But my dad believes in America. And the America he believed in, a Latin plaster guy could worked to become the head of a car company, and a guy who sold aluminum paint out of the car could end up being governor in one of the states he'd sold that very aluminum paint.


ROMNEY: For my dad, for my dad and for hundreds of thousands, millions of others like him, and like my mom as well, this was the land of opportunity. Where the circumstance of birth was no barrier to being able to achieve one's dreams.

In dad's America, small businesses, entrepreneurs, these were encouraged and respected. The spirit of enterprise and innovation and daring do propelled our standard of living and our economy passed it on to every nation on the planet.

I refuse to believe that America is just another place on the map with a flag. We stand for freedom and hope and opportunity.


ROMNEY: These last few years haven't been the best of times. But while we have lost a few years, we have not lost our way. The principles that made this the greatest nation on earth and the leader of the world have not lost their meaning, they never will. We know we can bring the country back. I believe in America. So do you. In this election, let's fight for the America we love because we believe in America and its founding principles. Thank you so much. Appreciate all you have done to help. We have a long way to go, and I sure love this country. Thank you so very much. Thanks, you guys!



COOPER: And Governor Mitt Romney speaking, not clear what is going to happen in Colorado. 37 percent in the state for Santorum, 577 votes ahead with 42 percent of the vote. Mitt Romney with 30 percent, and Newt Gingrich with 13 percent, Paul with 12 percent.

Do you expect - I mean, I guess what else Governor Romney going to say but try to look forward and try to get to the main points he usually does.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: He hit the main points he usually hits. He was gracious and congratulated Rick Santorum. And he didn't know about Colorado yet. But he did a couple things that were interesting to me.

One is, he took a hit at Santorum indirectly by talking about the culture of Washington, saying this race is about leadership. It's not about getting a bill out of committee. But secondly, he also struck a more populous tone, which we have not heard from Mitt Romney, and that is directly in reaction to Rick Santorum, talking about his father and the up from the boot straps story. And I think again, you can see that Rick Santorum is in his head tonight, not Newt Gingrich.

DONNA BRAZILE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Sounded like a pep talk. It sounded like he was trying to give himself like a little bit of, I don't know, a little gasoline, like keep going. I'm still good, I can still do this. This is going to be OK. It was not his best night in terms of winning, but I tell you one thing, he has momentum --

COOPER: Tell me just what happened? They just rushed somebody out of the auditorium. I don't know, all I saw was Romney being moved away rather quickly from the gentleman, and they quickly hustled him out. We'll try to replay the tape. And Governor Romney, we should point out, does have secret service protection, and you see the difference given the number of people around him who are very carefully checking it out.

KING: They're good and they're fast.

FLEISCHER: The other thing about the speech tonight, this is just Mitt Romney. He is a double's hitter. He doesn't hit a lot of home runs, doesn't hit a lot of triples. Doesn't strike out. He's steady all the way and over the course of a long primary like this, that is an essential ingredient to being successful. Any winning candidate is got to be able to take their losses, move on to the next state and keep going. Every candidate suffers losses, they always will.

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. I agree with that. You're right, Gloria, about the way he tried to galvanized himself like going back to his father's story which is it is inspiring story. It is enough from the boot straps story. It's time for him to really begin on the speech.


GERGEN: After this event. He really needs to find a way to elevate himself. He has more to say. He has more to offer. And I think he is. So, it's very little in the speech about what he would do for America. It sort like Obama got it badly wrong, and I'll change it, but where's the next sentence? Of the three things we really have to do.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST, OUT FRONT: Well, he did thinks -- look at his economic record, 59 points, 150-some odd pages. Maybe very smart, but nothing massively inspiring, nothing transformative. Maybe he thought that was practical. But maybe it is time to come out and take a stand on things, to come out and give more detail. I know we are hearing he's going to put an op-ed out tomorrow, but to try to be more aggressive, this is who I am and this what I stand for. If people don't seem to --


FLEISCHER: He wrote a biography. He needs to shift and run on policy. What drives you, how will you change America? I want to hear your policy. Sum it up, don't give me 150 pages.

BORGER: If the economy starts improving, and unemployment continues to go down, then Mitt Romney has an even larger hurdle, which is if he has been running on his business experience to rescue the economy --

BRAZILE: But a lot of conservatives want someone who is authentic. They want someone they can trust, someone who will -- like Newt Gingrich or Rick Santorum who will go in the arena and fight for their values. And Mitt Romney still has a lot of selling to do.

GERGEN: Is he still the front runner?


FLEISCHER: I would assume he is.

BRAZILE: Yes, he had 101 delegates going in tonight. And as you know, mini contest for non-binding. And secondly, I also believe that unlike the other candidates, he's on all of the ballots. He's viable. And while Newt Gingrich had a little momentum Monday, Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney has real team in place throughout the country.

BORGER: Well, and he better hope that Gingrich stays in the race. He needs him right now.

FLEISCHER: We have not talked about Gingrich tonight, and that's not a good night for him. Ron Paul did better than him.

COOPER: Let's check in. A lot of this that we are looking in Colorado right now with 30 percent of the vote, is it really depends on where the vote is from. Wolf is standing by. We will talk to him.

Before you do that, let's take a look at the tape, what seemed to have occurred just a few moments ago. I believe there have been two instances where Romney has had glitter thrown on him, and this may have been a third attempt at that. Roll the tapes.

BORGER: Glitter bomb.

COOPER: All right, doesn't look like anything particularly serious. Let's go to Wolf standing by with John King.

BLITZER: Yes. The difference this time he has bugged the others times that he does have secret service protection. And that's very, very significant.

I'm going to go to John in a moment, but Paul Vercammen is standing by. He is over at GOP state headquarters in Colorado. Looks like a very close race shaping up. What is the latest over there? What are they saying Paul? Why is it taking as long as it is?

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN REPORTER, PRODUCER: Well, let's go ahead and talk to the GOP chairman right here, Ryan Call. I think the question a lot of people have is we have some of the numbers, and people are wondering why the numbers are coming in so slowly, Ryan?

RYAN CALL, CHAIRMAN, COLORADO REPUBLICAN PARTY: Well, we're getting most of the preliminary reports from the counties. We are talking about over 2,900 different locations, 64 counties throughout the state. We have seen some preliminary results coming in as the counties are finalizing their returns, providing us with finalized results.

What we're hearing in terms of the reports around the state have been enthusiastic turnout. Good crowds, strong of feeling of enthusiasm for the upcoming campaign.

VERCAMMEN: So you had a pretty good turnout. Do you know how high?

CALL: Not yet. Pretty preliminary. We got some results coming in from around the state. A lot of the smaller counties reported results. Some of the large counties have yet to finalized their returns. We do expect those in the next hour at the latest, and we're report them on the party's Web site.

VERCAMMEN: And as we look at the map behind you, it looks like a lot of the counties voted up against Kansas have reported, so the Malton (ph) Counties. But we haven't had a big influx yet from the urban counties a rub the whole Douglas, Denver, et cetera, right in the Denver area.

CALL: That's right. Most of the counties have two, three, sometimes even 350 precincts in each of them. So it takes a while to compile and aggregate all of that information from the individual precinct caucus locations. But the reports that are coming in from those major counties indicate that attendance was strong. There's a strong level of enthusiasm, and we expect to get the results quickly. VERCAMMEN: OK. Thank you so much. Hang on just one second please, if you could. And so, there you have it from GOP chairman here in Colorado.

KING: Paul, it's John King at the CNN election center. Just wonder if you could ask the chairman. There's a lot of criticism after the Iowa counts. There were more criticism because of the pace of the Nevada counts. Did Colorado learn anything from the states and anything been put in place tonight? And is the chairman frustrated it's taking so long tonight?

VERCAMMEN: Ryan, this is from John King. There was a lot of frustration after Iowa about the count itself, a lot of frustration in Nevada as to whether or not the count went along quickly and accordingly. Did you make any adjustments, and you know again, is there anything you can do to speed this up?

CALL: Well, we worked very, very hard with our local county party leaders and activists on the ground helping complete the real results and returns. What was important for us in Colorado with the results were accurate and certified. Those results are really are coming in fairly quickly. It just takes a while to compile them by county.

VERCAMMEN: We thank you for taking time out. All right. Back to you now, Wolf. John.

BLITZER: All right, guys. Thanks very much. Thank the chairman for us well.

John is here with us, 30 percent of the vote now in the state of Colorado is in. Rick Santorum continues to maintain his lead, 42 percent over Romney's 30 percent. Newt Gingrich, 15 percent, Ron Paul, 12 percent.

But you see, most of the state, we have no idea what is going on. It's taking a long time.

KING: It's taking a while, and including some major population centers. So, there's two ways to look at this.

Number one, senator Santorum has kept a pretty decent lead as we got from 11 to 25 to 26 to 28 and 30. His lead has been in a ten to 12 point range. So, some people would say, well, he's keeping the same lead as the vote tally goes up. Doesn't that mean he'll keep it as it goes further, maybe. Maybe not.

The question is, why? Well, here is a big county I showed you earlier. Jefferson County, about 12 percent of the state's population. We have zero from there. It's a county that Governor Romney did quite well back in 2008.

However, however, that doesn't mean anything about tonight because let's come back again 2012, and we do have Adams County in. Rick Santorum winning. This 100 percent of the vote in Adams County. Rick Santorum, as you can see Wolf, 41 percent to 31 percent, so a ten- point win. If you go back four years ago, look at this. Mitt Romney won this county by 53 points over McCain. So, what happened four years ago does not necessarily what is tracking today. So, if your senator Santorum, you see the vote is still out down here. Even though Romney swept, almost, McCain one county, McCain one county. Romney wins most of this area and most of this area. Smaller rural counties were pretty much swept by Governor Romney four years ago. But as we watched the vote coming now, these are precisely the areas, not just in Colorado, in Minnesota, in Iowa before that, where Santorum has performed well. Smaller rural areas evangelical voters, tea party voters, blue-collar Republicans.

So, what is out down here, instinct tells you based on his performance elsewhere, this is a good territory for Santorum. Where Romney has to do is come in to make up the 10-point, 12-point lead, Romney has to come in huge here. He has to come in huge here. This is where you have population, and he has to hope that up here, he can match some of his take from 2008 in 2012.

But again, these are the smaller, you them here, on the Kansas side over here, as Paul just noted. This is mostly Romney, a little bit of Ron Paul and a little bit of Mike Huckabee four years ago. This was mostly Romney territory though four years ago. And it's Rick Santorum territory tonight.

Speaker Gingrich taking one county down here. Green, if you're watching at home, green is a tie. Some people asked, what's that color? If you have green, that's where you have a tie in a county right there. So, we're going to watch this play out. Thirty percent of the vote. You heard the chairman say he thinks more will come in pretty quickly. When this fills in, right here, especially this county right here, this is suburban Denver to west, the exurbs as you move out very important Republican territory. Governor Romney needs to fill this is. He needs to fill it in by a big margin, Wolf, to have much confidence.

You see he's winning by 30 points in Arapahoe county right here. Still some more of that vote to come in, but there's not much folk tonight. Turnout is down.

The chairman just said, they are optimistic about the turnout. But I'm sorry, if you look at the county, that's two thirds of the vote there this time around. Look at the difference. Look at what you're looking at there. You are looking at what, five, six, about 8,00 votes when you add that up in that one county four years ago, that's two thirds of the vote this year. That's huge.

BLITZER: Yes. Let's take a look at Missouri and Minnesota for a moment while I have you because we projected that Rick Santorum wins both. Missouri first. Let's go to Missouri first. And a lot of people went out and voted in the primary. It looks like he's gotten virtually every single county in Missouri. There's one outstanding up in the north, but it looks like it's almost a clean sweep for Santorum with 99 percent of the vote in.

KING: It's a huge sweep. I want to go back again, four years just to show you the difference, 138-63. So, you're looking at 230,000, 240,000 votes. Doing a very rough math there, huge difference, way down.

Now, again, this is nonbinding. Four years ago, it was a binding primary, this is nonbinding here. But you see a huge sweep here. This is disappointing for Romney. He pulled out from Missouri. And again, even though it's not binding, that he didn't win a county in the states so far, then you go up to Minnesota where almost it's 75 percent. That's a pretty good thumping there, Wolf.

Governor Romney is running third. I want to emphasize this point. Governor Romney running third at 17 percent in a state four years ago he won with 41 percent. So there's more than a mathematical blow here. This is a psychological blow especially on this state to Governor Romney. And racist flipped. Four years ago, after John McCain essentially clinched the nomination in Florida, Governor Romney was running in Colorado, in Minnesota, in the mountain west saying we need a conservative alternative to John McCain. What makes senator Santorum making in Missouri, Minnesota and Colorado tonight, we need a conservative alternative to Mitt Romney. So, flipped four years ago to this year, Governor Romney is getting what he was giving four years ago.

BLITZER: A huge night for Rick Santorum. We're going to be speaking with Rick Santorum live. That's coming up in just a few moments. Stand by.

Special coverage will continue right here in the CNN election room. A lot more news coming up as well. Full analysis. Special "AC 360" coming up right at the top of the hour. Stay with us. We'll be right back.