tv The Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer CNN January 21, 2012 3:00pm-4:00pm PST
1y50irks >> we welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world to the special edition of "the situation room." the polls close in south carolina less than one hour from now. i'm wolf blitzer at the cnn election center. we're counting down to the first results and maybe, maybe a winner in this critical contest. we have the most crews in the most locations, including our correspondents over at the candidates' anderson cooper is here along with the best political team, analysts in the studio and in the field. right now we have breaking news. we have the first exit poll information from south carolina, straight to cnn's john king, he's working these numbers for us. tell our viewer what we're learning. >> most important thing, wolf, south carolina following iowa and new hampshire, this is a much more conservative state,
much more influence of evangelical he voteders. among those voting in the south carolina primary, 64% joy themselves as born again evangelical christians. that is up a bit from four years ago, it was about 60% then. so strong influence tonight from evangelical christians. we didn't have a tea party four years ago but 2010 when the tea party sprung up it was important in the governors elections and other elections across south carolina. 66%, two-thirds of those voting in today's south carolina presidential primary say they support the tea party, 25% neutral on that question, only 8% of voters oppose the tea party so evangelicals, tea party, a conservative electorate in south carolina. only 2% of those voting describe themselves as liberal, 37% say they are very conservative, 32% somewhat conservative. we have a 1re67 more cvery much
conservative than iowa. many are men, 53% and 47% women. let's bring it over here for a second to show as the results come in, we'll watch this area right down in here, very important and also watch this area up here across the top of the state, very important. why? let's go back in time to show you why they matter. this is the 2008 south carolina primary. john mccain down here along the coast, the low country especially places like this, orrey county, where myrtle beach is, 5% of the state's population, more moderate, important to john mccain four years ago. this was mick huckabee, greenvil greenville, spartanburg, a lot of evangelical and tea party voters critical tonight. >> the state a little more diverse than people know. we go over to anderson cooper to help us preern some of tappreci early numbers. >> we're here with our analysts, republican strategists, democratic strategists, james carville what are you expecting tonight?
>> i expect uncertain, that's generally what it is and if one is to believe the final polls taken last night, speaker gingrich is in good shape. we were in the green room talking about ever this and this has been a roller coaster ride unlike any other and i suspect it will provide us -- >> you're thrilled by that fact. >> if the last polls are correct, if last night's polls are correct, yeah, i think yes, i would be understandably thrilled by that. i think donna would probably be happy. >> absolutely, we're ready to take out some of the balloons that we've been storing away but look, anderson, this was a very interesting week in politics. jon huntsman dropped out, threw his support to romney. perry dropped out, threw his support to newt gingrich. rick santorum woke up, found out he won the contest in iowa and where are we today? we just don't know until we see the results tonight but we know one thing, the republicans are not ready to settle on one person yet. >> a lot of people are making up their minds at the last minute. >> that's one of the things we've seen in the exit polls,
much more than four years ago, south carolina voters voted on the basis of what they saw in the last week. what did they see in the last week, newt gingrich surging. last night i predicted newt would win by five points and i still think newt is going to win. the question, is that surge going to continue, stop, go more than five? we'll have to wait and see what the finals are but you get the feeling that newt had a great week. >> particularly because of the two debates, playing such a critical role. >> we've said for the past year this election is not about hope and strength. it is about strength and certainty. people feel the country is in decline, want a strong leader to do something about that. mitt romney was attacked this week. kind of weakened response, confused on several issues. newt gingrich was attacked this week, very strong. so we're going to see i think tonight is, who is emerging as the alpha dog out of south carolina. gingrich has been dead three times in this campaign and you just can't, you know, the guy keeps coming back. >> the difference is rasputin would probably get more votes in
the general election than newt would. any of y'all see a bigger day in presidential politics than last thursday, more news and more different stories drummed up. >> it's extraordinary when you think about how this week completely changed, the narrative at the beginning of the week was the northwestability of mitt romney winning, no one is talking about that. >> i think this could be history here in the making. we've never seen somebody win iowa, somebody win new hampshire, and then somebody different go on to win south carolina, and then if newt gingrich turns out to be victorious, this evening, he's going to say nobody's ever won the nomination without winning south carolina. so we're really watching history here in the republican party, because if he is, if he does emerge as the winner it's going to be a very different race from anything we have ever seen. >> only a week ago we were talking about history in the making because mitt romney looked like he was going to be the first person in history to
win the first three contests. and now it looks like he may be, we may have the first time in history nobody has won two out of the first three. >> this is terrible for the coroner's business, because everybody said newt was dead and looks like he is coming back strong. >> the margins matter here a lot, how much, if there's a gingrich victory, is it a small victory? is it a big victory? who comes in third? who comes in fourth? there are a lot of sub questions here that are extremely important. >> and a lot to go over, wolf, we got a long night. >> we certainly do. two of the candidates especially we're watching those races closely, the stakes enormous on this night for both mitt romney and newt gingrich. let's go to their campaign headquarters right now. candy crowley is over at mitt romney headquarters, jim acosta at newt gingrich headquarters. candy first to you, "believe in america" we see the big sign behind you. they're getting ready for something tonight, either a celebration or maybe not so much. >> reporter: well, listen, you know, if this was the night we
were going to start talking about northwestabiliinevitabili be. prepare to hear these two words "long haul" if he does not win tonight. in the past few days as mitt romney's numbers have fallen and newt gingrich's number have risen his staff and strategists and those outside the campaign supporting him have begun to talk about the fact that they believe he is better prepared, better funded and better staffed for the long haul, for all those races that come after south carolina. you can also expect a little something different from romney. he has in the past couple of days really begun to press newt gingrich about reports from the ethics committee about reports of that investigation into speaker newt gingrich. today he sent the romney campaign sent newt gingrich a 15th anniversary cake to mark the day that the house reprimanded then speaker gingrich for ethics violations, so in addition to the long haul
expect some hardball, wolf. >> getting nastier by the day. headquarters set the scene for us there, jim. >> reporter: i'm inside the room where newt gingrich hopes to deliver his victory speech later tonight and if he wins here in south carolina, it will mark yet another trip back from the political dead for newt gingrich, after disappointing finishes in iowa and new hampshire he seized an opening here in south carolina, came back with a vengeance, and really you know, really seized on a venue that has paid dividends throughout this campaign for him and those are the debates. when he turned those questions back on the moderators, back on the media, that warmed the hearts of conservatives in south carolina. almost every voter i talked to said it's those debates that has won this race or won this vote for newt gingrich, and wolf, i have to tell you, there's been all of this talk about how the democratic party only has eyes for mitt, only seems to be talking about mitt romney. i could just tell you a few moments ago we saw the
chairwoman of the democratic national committee, debbie wasserman schultz in this room so they're starting to pay attention to the speak per >> what was she doing at newt gingrich headquarters? >> reporter: she's doing media interviews, talking to the press, talking about i think speaker gingrich's record, for the longest time they've really only been focusing on mitt romney. i thought it was notable to see her in the room here tonight. >> very interesting. jim, stand by. two other candidates running of course, ron paul and rick santorum, they're going for every vote they can get as well and likely to influence the outcome. dana bash is over at rick santorum headquarters, joe johns is covering ron paul. dana, first to you. what is going on over there? >> reporter: well, wolf i want to tell you where i am, i am in what will be in about an hour the war room for rick santorum. we are at the citadel in charleston and it looks empty and the reason is because the real headquarters is not too far from mt. pleasant.
there polls are going to be open for another 50 minutes or so, they're still working the phones trying to get every last potential santorum voter to the polls. in a short while they'll be here. now we have three people here, but they are getting ready, setting up what they call the war room. it's all electronic and waiting to get calls from santorum volunteers and staffers who are at precincts all over the state, ail little more than 2,000 to text and e-mail and call them with the results. tension here is pretty high because as you can imagine, they thought they were going to do pretty well in south carolina but as we've seen from the polls, rick santorum is now in third or sometimes fourth place, which is not a good sign but he still says he's going to carry on to florida no matter what. >> thanks very much, dana, we get back to you. joe johns is over in ron paul headquarters, getting ready for something over there as well, joe. >> reporter: that's for sure, wolf. unconventional candidate, unconventional campaign party site. this is a saloon, called jillian's, it's in downtown
columbia. as you can see a lot of people here, many young people who fit the demographic of ron paul, the people who are his closest and most ardent followers, and it's a bar. it's also the place where he's going to end up on stage, hopefully, later this evening. ron paul had a huge rally here last night, hundreds of people so if that many people show up tonight, it should be quite an event. ron paul has been very realistic about the state of south carolina. he's been campaigning lightly here, even went up to washington, d.c., to do a vote in the house of representatives earlier this week. he is pushing hard, but looking sort of past florida, wolf, on to the caucus states in nevada and minnesota, has already made television ad buys there, and perhaps isn't going to spend a lot of money on tv ads in florida. wolf, back to you. >> we'll be hearing all the speeches tonight as they unfold. joe, we'll get back to you. we're certainly counting down to the top of the hour, and the first results from south carolina, the polls will close at the top of the hour. will newt gingrich pull off his
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we get the first results from the south carolina primary at the top of the hour, about 45 minutes away. we could project a winner then or it could be a long night. you won't want to miss a moment of it, that's 45 minutes from now. right now let's go inside some of the polling places for the final minutes of voting in south carolina, don lemon is in lexington. shannon, what are you seeing? >>. >> reporter: we're here at the eastland church of greenville county and 00 voters have showed up here election officials tell me so far, less than half of the estimated 1,800 in this precinct but although this is one of the smaller polling places, this county is huge. we've been mentioning greenville county is the most populist and the most republican so this is where the candidates are
fighting it out. this is where they want to win and will be a bellwether for the results tonight. whoever does well here, mitt romney, newt gingrich or whatever could forecast a really good night for them because of the number of conservative voters in this county. >> shannon, thank you very much. don lemon is in lexington, south carolina, don, what are you seeing there? >> reporter: well, we're seeing a lot of rain earlier. it certainly didn't cooperate today and that really hindered the turnout here, low turnout across the state. we had been hearing from people at the polling place. we want to talk about the process we heard so much about what happened in iowa. what happens is they divide the alphabet in half. you go here, you give one of the young ladies your driver's license and identification, they check your name, you sign it here and they give you one of these blue cards, you take the blue card, hand it to one of these gentlemen over here, they walk you over and what they do is they take this thing, anderson, called a peb, a personal electronic ballot, they stick it in this machine. this records your vote, that
records your vote, that way there is at least a double recording of your vote, they double check it and what you do when you come here just like any other polling place in the country, you grab one of these stickers. >> i appreciate you voting. >> says "i voted" stick it on your lapel and they tell you "appreciate your vote" and you're on your way. again the weather didn't cooperate this morning. we got here about 7:00 this morning. there were people lined up, middle of the day it started raining and that really killed things here and just about 45 minutes as you said, some people are starting to show up now that the rain has gone away but they've only got a few more minutes, anderson. >> don thanks very much. we'll check to see how turnout is across the state and if the weather had a big impact and who that might help and/or hurt. 40 minutes until the polls close. >> i suspect the weather did reduce it a bit. see how much it wound up doing. back to john king at the exit poll. we get more information by the minute. what else is coming? >> numbers are fascinating. we told you a moment ago who voted today, 64% evangelicals,
two-thirds support the tea party. what's on their mind as they vote? what is the most important candidate quality? 45%, not quite half but 45% of the voters today can defeat president obama. south carolina republicans are looking for a strong general election candidate to beat the president. that's one thing on their mind today. they also came, you get their mood, want to know the mood. are you worried about the economy? giant number, 7% very worried. 19% somewhat worried. look at that, just about everybody who voted today more than 90% are very, very worried. 98% very, very worried about the economy. no surprise there then if they walk into the polling booth worried about the economy, what is the most important issue? not apportion. evangelical voters only % say it's abortion. tea party only 23% say it's budget deficit, 4% illegal immigration. 61% the weak and struggling u.s.
economy. >> it's still "the economy stupid" not calling you stupid but it's still the economy stupid. >> call me what you want. 9.9 unemployment in the state of south carolina. we know the economy will be the number one issue nationally. not a sur fries there at all. this is a bit of a surprise because of the power of the tea party there. this tells you 9.9% unemployment, they are struggling, that's what they want. >> let's go back anderson is with erin burnett. it's a fascinating state, south carolina, guys, and what we've seen have been unique examples of politics unfolding in this state. >> and we've seen some dirty politics in the last couple of days with fake e-mails sent around, it's been a fascinating battle in south carolina, which is about to be resolved within this hour. what are you checking on tonight? >> we're looking at, john interesting talking about the economy being the number one issue and you're driving across the state today you see it. this is a state that has a lot of economic issues. almost everyone worried about the economy. here's why. take a look at unemployment. we've broken this down by the four key regions in this battleground state and as you can see, all four of them have
unemployment rates that are above the national average, the national average 8.5%, as you can see the area that comes closest is the low country, where you have hilton head, you have charleston and also a right to work state. you've got a new boeing plant, 787 dreamliner is going to be coming off the assembly line starting in march so you're starting to see a little bit of improvement there. i want to zone in here on the midlands, where columbia is the capital and what you can see here is where the capital s unemployment rate right in line with the national average. you've got government jobs. you have university of south carolina education jobs. the other side of the state, where i spent some time with newt gingrich, orangeburg, south carolina, 15.3%. >> there is some positive economic news in the state. >> there is positive economic news and let me bring that up. this might surprise people, housing prices. ground zero, biggest asset for almost every american is their home and the ground zero for the economy and let's show you what we see in south carolina. so okay, anderson, this doesn't look so great, right? charleston area, retirees, second home, hilton head, down
14% from the peak in housing prices. 10% in the center of the state, 2% in the piedmont, unchanged up at myrtle beach and pee dee. nationally, 24% in housing crisis compared to the united states. no matter where you go in south carolina' better than that and that's a little bit of a sign of hope for the state. >> good news there. erin we'll continue to check in with you. back to our analysts over here. how much are you watching turnout, and who will, if there is low turnout because of the weather or lower turnout who might that help in. >> obama. >> it would be indicative, matching the 2008 numbers in iowa and in new hampshire in the republican, they're supposed to be gassed up, they have to exceed those numbers. i guess if you would take conventional wisdom it would hurt romney because his supporters are believed to be less passionate than the others of other people but i it every to my republican colleagues about that.
>> you see more men than women which is not often the case. gingrich is stronger with men. romney has been stronger with women. >> but in south carolina, men have clearly ruled in that particular state, but in 2,573,000 republicans paymented in the primary in 2008, it was about 450,000, so the weather hinders elderly people from voting, less enthusiastic people from voting and of course more passionate people tend to turn out if the weather is bad. so i think tonight you'll see a mix of perhaps the ron paul factor, because they're the most passionate but also the most organized campaign can typically turn out their voters as well. >> here is the trend you want to be on the lookout for. the democrats had record breaking turnout in 2008 all boards. they're not going to repeat that model. republican turnout and james and i differ about this but republican turnout was a record
in 2008, got broken in 2012 in iowa. record in 2 240u 8 in new hampshire, broken in 2012 inment has ham. donna's right, 455,000 republicans voted in 2008. see if republicans get a record tonight that, means three record-breaking night of republicans. is there a enough of a bump and enough of a decline in the democrats that you get a cross? >> i hate to agree with my friend james carville, instead of my better friend, ari -- but the iowa turnout that was so big for republicans, those were ron paul voters going in there. they weren't real republicans and they're not reliable votes for us in the fall. there is a little bit of dampening enthusiasm for our field, and that's something we have to confront. >> you would agree if republicans match 2008 enthusiasm that's not too good. >> the line you got to look for is the democrat decline which everybody says is under way, a slight republican panel where the two lines cross. >> it's generally referred to as the democratic party but if you
want to refer it as the democrat party i won't make a difference. >> the democratic enthusiasm we saw when barack obama was elected the first black president of the united states is going to be hard to repeat. you're not going to get that losing your virginity the second is imis never exciting. >> i agree but he has an 8.5 point margin. >> the one thing democrats have going for them this republican field have been so rabid, so appealing to the tea party base, that they're going to lose the middle. the middle will search for an alternative,obama, he will repe the same turnout with the voters that came out in large numbers. my concern is those first-time voters who showed up at the polls in 2008, those are the voters that tend to be most unreliable when you try to get them out again. >> we have to take a quick break, closing in on the final moments of voting in south carolina. stay with us through the top of the hour and the first results, possibly reveal a winner. we'll see if we're able to do
that at the top of the hour. and see some of the tough campaign ads that could make the difference in the outcome tonight and certainly in florida, where they go next. this is an rc robotic claw. my high school science teacher made me what i am today. our science teacher helped us build it. ♪ now i'm a geologist at chevron, and i get to help science teachers. it has four servo motors and a wireless microcontroller. over the last three years we've put nearly 100 million dollars into american education. that's thousands of kids learning to love science. ♪
welcome back to a special edition of "the situation room." this could be a momentous night for newt gingrich or mitt romney. we're going to get the first results in the hotly contested south carolina primary. that's coming up right at the top of the hour. stay with us to see if we have a winner, or a nail-biter. stand by for that. but right now, cnn ballot cameras are at key polling places along with our political
producers and reporters. we're going to bring you some of the first vote counting and the results live before anyone else. let's go to our political reporter rachael streitfeld in charleston. what are you seeing? >> reporter: everybody is preparing for an influx of people. i'm at the board of elections and 103 people from precincts, polling stations all over the county will come in and hand over their vote totals and that will be tallied. we'll see two things from them, they'll have this piece of paper with everybody's name on it and how many votes they got, this is just a sample, but one interesting thing to note, rick perry will be on there, jon huntsman, everybody's name who was originally on the ballot will still be on the ballot. the other is the computer cartridge everybody will turn in that will be put in here, uploaded to the computer and the tallies will then be posted. we'll bring the tallies to you live. as soon as this board of elections knows who is leading in this county we're going to
know, wolf. one other thing to point out the absentee ballots here can be turned up until 7:00 eastern time. people have about 31 minutes they can drive the ballots down here and get them in. that gets put through this machine here and there's a printout that will then be integrated back into the voter total that we'll see. two other things to remember, john mccain did very well here, he won this district handily in 2008 but mitt romney also had a good showing, so we're looking to see if that happens again this time. i know there's been bad weather throughout the state, charleston has been lovely. >> good news for the folks in charlton. rachel, we'll stand by. i get glitchy with the technology but john you're getting more exit polling numbers coming in. >> consebive electorate, the economy is on their mind, they want to beat president obama. when did south carolina voters decide in helping make them decision?
37% said they decided in the last few days. 16% decided as they walked into the polling place today, that's 53% so a majority of those voting today in south carolina decided within the last few days, and what influenced their decision in we asked them, did the debates matter? were the debates a big factor in your vote in big debate monday and big debate here on cnn on thursday, 88%, nearly nine in ten south carolina republicans voting today, wolf, said these debates were a big factor in their decision. now the conventional wisdom in south carolina, the energy when i was there was that newt gingrich used those debates to gin up energy and excitement. we'll see if that plays out but 88%, nearly nine out of ten voters say the debates were a big factor. >> a lot of the pundits said newt gingrich did really well in the debates. he came back from the dead in part because of the debates. anderson back to you. >> a lot of people making up their minds in the last few days. we have seen this battle, it has been just as volatile, really the last few months as it has been the last few days.
look in october, mitt romney was edging out herman cain. remember him? newt gingrich jumped way ahead of the pack around the end of the year. romney surged back into the lead this month, and then lost his advantage in the last few days running neck in neck with gingrich. the final poll out today shows gingrich with a double-digit lead. let's go over to erick erickson and roland martin who have the liberty tab room in columbia in south carolina. eric, i've been reading your tweets tonight. you think the rise in gingrich has a lot to do with gingrich but also another factor here. what do you think it is? >> reporter: i think there's a resistance from base voters in south carolina and elsewhere. the electorate is conservative, they feel this should be a nomination fight and not a cor nation and they're pushing back on a lot of the washington republican crowd who have been telling them you have to take mitt romney. they're not willing to take mitt romney. he got less votes in 2012 in iowa than he got in 2008 and it looks like i would think based on the ground and the movement here and so many men turning out
today he's probably going to lose south carolina. >> roland you agree with that? >> to some extent but here's what i'm looking for. newt gingrich wins, i want to see how fast erick's wife texts him to tell him he's sleeping on the couch. she will the no be happy if he wins. that's what i'm looking for. >> including my wife. >> erick he has a what problem? >> he has a problem with female voters and if rick santorum were to drop out a lot of the women voters would go to mitt romney, that's my guess. he has to figure out how to neutralize the issue because you know, men may be turning out heavily in south carolina today according to the exits we've seen so far but overall women typically turn out more than men and that's a problem throughout the primaries and if he's the nominee of the general election. >> don't think this is somehow the trend for the rest of the states. you look at 2008, women were the majority in nearly every single primary and don't think they are going to forget that answer, when he called his wife a liar
thursday night to the answer qu. >> looks like more women are voting than men. we have a whole new republican race for the white house before the night is out. the polls close in south carolina at the top of the hour. stand by for the first results. we'll show you how some very, very nasty ads could make a difference in this contest, and the next big face-off coming up in florida. you're watching a special edition of "the situation room." [ male announcer ] the cadillac cts sport sedan was designed with near-perfect weight balance from front to back...
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>> flooding is a good word. i was talking to senator graham, he said erin i want to see a car ad again. takes a lot to say that. i've got all of the candidates here a sampling of the ad, almost $6 million, 19,000 television ads shown in the state over the past couple of weeks, mitt romney and his super pac a good example of the negativity. here is an ad clip played about newt gingrich. >> newt attacks because he has more baggage than the airlines. newt was fined $300,000 for ethics violations, took $1.6 million from freddie mac and cosponsored a bill with nancy pelosi. >> and because we want to be equal, even when we're being nasty, let's play one that newt gingrich in his super pac played about mitt romney, here he is saying he's not electable. >> governor of massachusetts he passed romney key, the model for obama care. mitt romney, not conservative, not electable. >> and later on we'll break down who spent what, and find out whether all of the television money mattered especially when
it came to the debates. 19,000 ads, anderson. >> it's extraordinary and of course now the ad war moves to florida where governor romney has had the advantage for a long time, he's been able too buy ads there. alex, you know ads, you do ads as a republican. >> a few. >> a few. what do you make of the ads and the importance of them in south carolina? >> i think it's just republicans who are trying to contribute to the obama recovery and get the economy going. it's how, you know, these are the six-shooters at the gunfight on main streets now. this is how you communicate. you get a chance to jump in everyone's living room and talk to them. the internet is incredibly important now. it's a community building vehicle for you. which is still the way you get in someone's living room and talk to them is with a tv ad. >> what about the super pac ads, have they been successful, in getting out the message? >> incredibly they've changed the game. now politics in south carolina we've seen is like nfl football. there's an offense for every team and a defensive team for
every team and they have different players and coaches but they all want the same thing but now we've split the ga imin two like that. the super pacs do the negative work. >> now already who is running ads in florida? >> romney has been up a while and i'm not sure about gingrich red but the question is adelson put about $5 million into gingrich's campaign for super pac ads, the billionaire out of las vegas backing gingrich. say newt gingrich wins tonight and picks up, continues momentum, will more money pour into the gingrich super pac and make florida an interesting state? >> 20 minutes left to go until polls. there is a chance we may be able to project a winner at the top of the hour. stay tuned to find out. we'll be right back. ♪
top of the hour. we might, repeat might be able to project a winner, maybe not. we're still going through all the numbers for the exit polls, the official numbers will start coming in at 7:00 p.m. eastern at the top of the hour, once all the polls in the state of south carolina close. if this does prove to be a good night for newt gingrich, there may be only one person happier than he is, maybe that could be the president of the united states, because they've been really, really worried about mitt romney, if you believe what the democrats have been saying. our chief white house correspondent jessica yellin is standing about i. you're over at the white house. if this does turn out to be a good night for newt gingrich as opposed to mitt romney, what are folks at the white house saying about that? >> reporter: well, it ultimately -- look, they want to be tight-lipped and careful, wolf, but bottom line my sources tell me that an elongated primary which is what gingrich victory would mean, is ultimately good for the president for a couple of reasons. first of all it means that the republicans will continue
battling each other for a longer time, and that means they're spending more resources attacking themselves, not attacking the president. but it also means that they're bloodying whoever the eventual nominee is. there is a lot of video that the president's team can use in ads down the line that can be pretty useful. newt gingrich this week has picked up some attack lines that the president's own team had used against mitt romney, who the president's team has believed will be the eventual nominee. essentially accusing him of let me quote "mitt romney will do and say anything to become president, anything." that sounds a lot like what david axelrod or david plouffe have said about mitt romney that he lacks no core, also picking up on the bain attack that the obama team has made on mitt romney. so that's one way. if newt gingrich should be the eventual nominee, well mitt romney has said he's an
unreliable leader. can't you see that used in a team obama advertisement down the line saying we don't have to tell you this, republicans have said it about their own nominee. so there's that, and it also buys the president plenty more time for him to go out and sort of "be above the fray" selling his own agenda, wolf. >> where is the president tonight, jessica? >> he is here at the white house and as you may know the white house likes to say he doesn't focus on election terms, but i'm sure he gets briefed, wolf. >> i'm sure he does. thanks very much, anderson back to you. >> gloria, you've been talking to establishment republicans in congress. what are you hearing about newt gingrich and concerns? >> well they're worried. i spoke with one today who was worried if newt gingrich is at the top of the ticket they lose the house of representatives, period. they believe -- >> why? >> they believe he's so unre
unreliable to use a mitt romney word that something could happen in a general election that would really hurt them, down ticket, and they're afraid of it, and they're not organizing yet against him but you're beginning to hear this. >> what people in south carolina are saying about him is he has fire in the belly and you saw that at the debates and they feel he can take on, what are the folks in washington thinking they don't get? >> go ahead. >> well -- >> listen, i think the people there in south carolina are saying essentially, we like what we're seeing right now. people -- and they've just had two weeks of exposure but people in washington have had years of exposure and they've seen this instable quality but i would ask jessica to go back to her -- i wonder if there's not spreading the apprehension amongst some republicans and enjoy a greater satisfaction amongst some democrats in the white house that two weak candidates could be emerging out of south carolina. gingrich, who has got this
baggage, plus romney, who may be bloodied and weakened. >> let's bring jessica back in at the white house. jessica, did you hear david's query? >> reporter: that there is pleasure that there are two emerging nominees? or that -- >> two weakened candidates. >> reporter: yes, this is a dream scenario for the obama team. he's headed into an election year where the economy is down, where his own numbers are down and he's going to fight an uphill battle to win. the one gift he's being handed is an incredibly weak republican field in their view, and that's what they're getting n their view, and not only that they're beating each other up. the thing gingrich has going for him is he energizes the base potentially and he has a much more acceptable view on immigration that could turn out more latinos in a general election than romney, so that's
slightly concerning to them if he were to become the general election nominee. the bottom line is they're beating each other up, doing the democrats' work for them. this is great news for them. >> jess, don't you think at a certain point and the white house won't say this obviously there will be a question about whether republican enthusiasm for beating barack obama will trump anything, even in terms of a bloody republican primary? but that in the end, they just want to win so badly that they will vote for whomever becomes the nominee because they want to get obama out of the white house? >> reporter: there is republican enthusiasm for that, but we all know that the vote ultimately comes down to the independents and the swing voters and whoever gets into this white house has to win that group. and that's -- >> we got to take a break. we could be minutes away from projecting a winner in the heated south carolina primary. stand by for an update at the top of the hour. quick break. we'll be right back. for a limited time, passages malibu
it's down to the wire in south carolina. >> the last votes are being cast right now. tonight, the republican race for the white house takes a hard right turn. >> south carolina. >> america's choice. >> we're murdering our civil liberties. >> if you thought iowa and new hampshire were intense, you haven't seen anything yet. >> this is going to be armageddon. >> now it's south carolina's choice. >> mitt romney is shooting for another win with only three opponents standing in his way.
newt gingrich may have the best shot at romney and he's taking it with the gloves off. >> why would you want to nominate the guy who lost to the guy who lost to obama? >> everyone is a threat. >> we defeated mitt romney in iowa. >> he voted to reprimand the speaker of the house for the first time in history. >> will there be a bruising fight all the way to the convention? >> why should everybody walk away if he wins the primary? >> newt gingrich pulled off his first victory and proved he's a competitor. >> or will romney will unstoppable? >> change is coming and the name of that change is mitt romney. >> the polls are changing, the voters are choosing and the republican nomination is on the line.
we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. the polls close in south carolina only a few moments from now. i'm wolf blitzer at the cnn election center. the republican race is down to only four candidates, and a very intense showdown between mitt romney and newt gingrich. it could be, could be a nail biter. our cameras are strategically positioned across south carolina to show you the results before any other network. we have the most crews and the most locations. our correspondents are out in force. let's go over to candy who is at mitt romney headquarters right now. >> reporter: i've been talking with some folks inside the romney camp. let's say when it comes to expectations, lower them. i was reminded that mitt romney four years ago came in with 15% here in south carolina and "we are not going to be surprised if
we come in second." and then a immediate pivot to florida where they insist they have a very strong organization. they're looking forward to going down to florida and they have big plans for next week. i'm told that there will be two targets for mitt romney. you can probably guess. president obama and newt gingrich. i was also told that "a major speech will be given by romney on tuesday morning" as a prebuttal to the state of the union address by the president. and romney will give another speech wednesday morning to react to the state of the union, and romney will differentiate his economic policies from newt gingrich and president obama. >> jim, expectations over there? >> wolf, they are very confident here at the gingrich headquarters. newt gingrich is scheduled to
appear on three morning shows tomorrow. i had a chance to catch up with the spokesman for newt gingrich earlier today and we thought newt gingrich and mitt romney might cross paths. i thought hey, is there going to be a barbecue eating contest at this restaurant? he said if there was going to be one, we would win that, too. so it was an air of confidence all day long inside the gingrich campaign. >> anderson cooper is with us throughout the night. anderson? >> going to be a fascinating night. this rain has changed completely from what it was a week ago. we're moments away from when the polls close in south carolina. that's where we're going to get our first glimpse of how this very important contest turned out. the republican race could turn into a freefall. john king is going to be mapping out the results and bring us the
exit polling data. what are you looking at tonight? >> this has never happened before in the republican primaries. mitt romney had the support of the state's governor. how old was the electorate in south carolina today? pretty spread out. the largest group, 50 to 64. senior citizens, 65. they make up about 30%. this is more important, a very, very conservative electorate today. 66% of the vote, 2/3 of those casting votes in the presidential election describe themselves as born again evangelicals. the more moderate conservatives
live here along the coast. up here, this is your bible belt up here. go back to 2008, john mccain down here, mike huckabee up here, that's what we're watching on the map. >> new for about, a new way for us to show you how money is influencing the presidential race and a lot of money has been pouring into this race. >> a lot of it has been on advertising. look at the wall here. you can see how much the candidates have spent. mitt romney's campaign, more than $1 million in south carolina. the candidate that spent the least, newt gingrich, with $335,000. take a look at this, this is the real story. superpacs. almost $7 million. mut myitt romney 2-1 over newt gingrich.