tv John King USA CNN March 6, 2012 6:00pm-7:00pm EST
right? >> reporter: new york. -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com it's super tuesday, the biggest night yet of the 2012 race for the white house. >> hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of americans are voting, and we're counting down to the first results. >> tonight, a republican campaign blockbuster. ten states and hundreds of delegates on the line at the same time. >> it's our time for choosing. and this time we got to get the choice right. >> will this night bring any clarity to the most unpredictable presidential race in memory? >> we just need to stay on the island, not get voted off. >> voters are deciding in
vermont, virginia, and georgia. >> it's very important for to us do well in georgia. >> in ohio, massachusetts, and tennessee. >> we feel really good about tennessee. >> in oklahoma, idaho, alaska and north dakota. >> i want north dakota's votes. >> it's america's choice. and it's super tuesday. mrz mo mitt romney needs to finally prove he can close the deal with voters and rick santorum needs to move prove he can stop him. >> everyone is going out here scrapping and clawing. and we're doing all right. >> this may be newt gingrich's last chance for a campaign comeback. >> i'm not a team player. i'm a change agent. >> and ron paul's biggest chance to pick off more delegates. >> we do know that the strategy of building up delegates is a pretty sound position to have. >> will any one candidate emerge as the big super tuesday winner or loser? republicans are choosing. the world is watching.
and nothing in this election compares to what's happening right now. welcome to the cnn election sent they are special edition of "john king usa." there's a gold mine of delegates at stake right now. 400 that stretch from vermont to alaska and something that may be just as valuable, a chance for the republican candidates to prove they can win on a big national playing field. live picture from fargo, north dakota. people gathering right now for a huge republican congress that begins later this hour. voters in all turning out in ten states across the nation to have their voices heard today. it's going to be a very busy night. could go into the morning. wolf blitzer will help us. >> john, to every moment of this it's going to be exciting. we could get results coming in
at least a little bit less than an hour or so from now, polls close in georgia, virginia and vermont, 7:00 p.m. eastern. less than an hour from now. at 7:30 p.m. eastern voting ends in the ohio primary. that's the most watched contest of the night. polls close in oklahoma, tennessee and massachusetts at 8:00 p.m. eastern. we may project a winner in idaho and north dakota sometime after the 10:00 p.m. eastern hour as the caucuses in those states wind down. voting ends in the alaska caucuses at midnight eastern. a total of 419 delegates are at stake in ten contests across the nation on this super tuesday. as always, anderson cooper is with us. anderson? >> wolfers let's look at where the delegate race stands right now. cnn estimates mitt romney has 207 delegates, more than twice as many as rick santorum who's got 86. ron paul has 46 delegates. newt gingrich has just 39.
remember, 1,044 delegates are needed to clinch this nomination. four years ago john mccain already had clinched the nomination by early march with 1200 delegates. tonight we have a brand-new way to show you how the fight for delegates could affect the republican convention in tampa. we'll use some state of the art technology to put tom foreman in the middle of a virtual convention. let's go to john with some new exit poll information. >> ten states on the map tonight. a lot of data coming into us. let's start with ohio. we know that is the biggest contested battle ground state tonight, critical in the republican nomination battle. it will be critical come november. let's look at what's happening in the state of ohio. voting by ideology, we asked people as they showed up to vote how do you describe yourself 64% described themselves as conservative. the polls aren't closed yet. among those who say they're conservatives a close race in ohio. 39% for santorum, 39% for
governor romney, 12% for speaker gingrich and 9% for ron paul. tie among conservatives. that tells you you've got a contested race in the state of ohio tonight. closer look more about the ohio electorate. will you vote for the gop nominee in november, asking people no matter who wins will you vote for the gop nominee? 62% say yes i'm a loyal republican i'd vote for the nom knee. look at this. 23% say probably, 10% say only in my candidate wins. you've got some sense of reservation. that happens sometimes that hotly contested nominating process. but could be a sense that the republicans might have difficulty healing their wounds after this process. are you satisfied if romney wins the nomination? nearly 6 in 10 of ohio voters, 57% say yes. so governor romney much of them say yes about 36%, more than a third, that's a bit worrisome say no. what about rick santorum? he was tied in the polls with governor romney heading into the poll in ohio. slightly more. 61% of ohio republicans say yes, i'd be satisfied if rick santorum wins the nomination. as you see this you know a tough battle between santorum and
romney for conservative voters and some sense of hesitation and reservation. it will be very important as we watch all ten contests tonight and pitch forward after super tuesday if the republicans finally settle on a candidate then big challenge will be healing their wounds. we have a long way to go tonight before we know we can answer that settle question. >> john, thanks very much. we have correspondents covering all the campaigns tonight. first candy crowly is covering mitt romney's campaign. he wrapped up a little informal q&a candy with reporters out there. what's the message he and his folks are trying to project tonight? >> listen. the same message that they've been trying to project for the last ten days, 12 days. they want to get back to jobs. in terms of how they feel about this evening, i spoke to one senior adviser who said, listen, we understand that big states win big headlines. if you take those states. but the action is where the delegates are. they want both, of course, but right now romney campaign really is focused on the math of this. where do you pick up that number to get the nomination?
they can't do it all night but they are back there crunching these numbers, if you will. that's really what romney had to say outside the voting booth today. >> it's really hard to predict what's going to happen tonight. as i said, i'm hoping for a good win here in massachusetts. and what happens elsewhere i don't know. but i think we'll pick up a lot of delegates. and this is a process of gathering enough delegates to become the nominee. and i think we're on the track to have that happen. >> reporter: so what they are looking for tonight of course are all those delegates. but we all know that there's been so much focus on ohio, that that is really the kind of the crown jewel. the headline that the romney folks would like to see as well as santorum folks. but i will tell you that one of the things that they have said all along, every time whether the romney campaign has been down or up, every time i've talked to them they've said listen we have a great ground game out there. we have a way to get these folks to the polls. that's what brought them home in michigan.
they think that's what will do it in ohio as well. >> c >>. >> candy, stand by. jim acosta, the polls show it was very close between santorum and romney in ohio. but i don't understand why the santorum folks were spending only a minimal amount of money in paid advertising in ohio. >> reporter: that's right. if you look at the ad tracker cantor media, they will tell you that rick santorum is not spending a whole lot of money in ohio on ads in broadcast tv markets. and the santorum campaign responds to that essentially mitt romney is the establishment candidate. they say they are not. but wolf, i have to tell you, we ever picking up on some super tuesday defines from the santorum campaign. a spokesman for rick santorum had a chance to catch up with him a few minutes ago. he started to lower expectations a little bit. he said yeah, we'll be comfortable if we come out of ohio in a strong second place position in the popular vote. yes, it wasn't that great that we did not file the necessary paperwork to get those delegates in every corner of the state.
for example where we are tonight, steubenville, ohio, rick santorum is on the ballot but he can't pick up delegates in this area. so that's a blow to his campaign. but they say picking up on what mitt romney was just saying a few moments ago that mitt romney is incapable of clenching the 1144 delegates he needs to get the nomination. here's what gidly had to say a few moments ago. >> he's got to get to 1144, too. it's not compelling. but he wants us out because he knows he can't get there. and if we all go to the convention with a certain amount of delegates and we have to figure something out at the convention then so be it. but that's democracy and that's the way the party structure is set up. we'll cross that bridge when we get to it. >> argument barack obama made in '08, saying its mathematically impossible for hillary clinton to clinch the nomination. she took it to june and came close but didn't get it. is that essentially the same situation we could be in the middle of right now?
will you overtake him? . it's another issue where mitt romney lines upper effectually with obama. first all the issues, now campaign strategy. got to love it. >> the santorum campaign sees one bright spot in these days heading into super tuesday. they feel like this assault that they've made on mitt romney's record on a national insurance mandate has been effective. they feel like they have blunted his momentum here in ohio. and if they're successful tonight in a lot of of these states, and they hope they are, they think they're going to take that message forward and keep hurting mitt romney as the days go on. wolf? >> jim acosta at santorum headquarters in ohio right now. joe johns is covering newt gingrich's campaign in atlanta. joe, he's likely to win all the polls show he's doing really well in his home state of georgia. but what's his strategy beyond tonight? >> reporter: well for the first thing i think you have to say, wolf, they see a path to the nomination still. that path runs through the south. it goes through states like mississippi, through alabama, onto texas.
of course, georgia is certainly critical in that strategy. newt gingrich saying he expects to win the majority of the delegates and do very well here tonight. listen to him from earlier today. >> we're going to carry georgia by a big margin tonight. we're going to do much better than people expected in a number of states. [ cheers and applause ] >> it turns out the american people like positive ideas and positive solutions. and the american people like proposals that give them a better future, that create jobs and help create a better future. and so i think for the third time we're going to come bouncing back. >> reporter: talking to aides with the campaign, i have to tell you, they've said here they've said in other places around the country, it's all about the delegates. amassing as many delegates as he possibly can with an eye toward the convention.
newt gingrich not only in georgia, not exclusively in his home state, also doing a little bit of traveling in tennessee as well. some of the polls showing him trending upward there, looking halfway good in the state of tennessee. by the way, wolf, here in this ballroom in the atlanta area they have already cued up the song "georgia on my mind." so you know what the newt gingrich people are thinking here in the state of georgia. >> georgia certainly on his mind tonight. we'll have all the speeches later in the course of tonight as well from these candidates. joe johns, thanks very much. anderson, let's go back to you. let's check in with our analysts. what does a win mean for all these candidates? for mitt romney what does he need to claim a win tonight? >> he needs attrition. he needs to grind the other folks down. looks like that's increasingly happening. and that means he can go on and it's increasingly hard to see how others can go on. that's what he needs to look for tonight. newt need a break through, in addition to winning georgia and tennessee. rick santorum needs to do well in oklahoma, maybe take
tennessee, hopefully for him win ohio. that's what they need. >> does romney have to have a win in more than just the east coast? does he have to have wins geographically all over the place? >> no candidate will come close to getting 144 dele 1144 delega. they want to pick apart the country and try to win at the delegate level. not about winning at the state level about finding delegates at the c.d. level, congressional district level. >> if romney can win in each section of the country can he claim to be the national delegate? >> he can. romney has won important states in the general. florida, arizona, he may win virginia. we'ri he's won michigan. important general election states. if he wins ohio tonight that will put another one of those in the bag. i think that helps him look more like a national candidate. >> there's four different regional minute primaries today. the yankee primary which is his base, massachusetts where he was
governor and vermont he has to run well there or he's not going to be very credible. the blue-collar republicans. most interesting because they can be swing voters in ohio and that's a swing state. then there's the southern evangelicals. oklahoma, tennessee, georgia, virginia, kind of a special case because there's almost nobody else on the ballot. got to run strong there. finally the western libertarians. alaska, north dakota, to a lesser extent idaho has a strong mormon population there that should favor romney. those are pretty diverse regions. if he can take one out of each four region he's got a serious claim as a national candidate. >> the two states that matter for mitt romney are ohio and tennessee tonight. ohio, if santorum loses ohio he not only loses a state he loses his rationale. that's blue-collar santorum, beer-drinking territory. that's populist america. he's just lost one of those states, michigan. he can't afford to lose another. those are important states to watch. if romney wins in tennessee or scores well in tennessee, anderson, i think you're right. now that's a beach head in the
south. romney hasn't demonstrated he can do well in the south. >> nice anecdote to gingrich who we think will do well in the state of georgia. a lot more to talk about. john we'll be watching particularly the blue-collar voters paul was just talking about. anderson, more exit polls ahead. some of them reveal a significant problem for mitt romney. stand by for that. ron paul tells me his republican rivals are being reckless. find out just what he means ahead. ♪ ( whirring and crackling sounds ) man: assembly lines that fix themselves.
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five-state win streak. we're seeing some problems for governor romney. these are republican voters voting in a republican primary. what about in the state of georgia tonight, newt gingrich's home state? what about governor romney's positions on the issues? 53% of voters in a republican primary romney considered the frontrunner say his views are not conservative enough. that's the state of georgia. 53% in georgia say mitt romney's positions are not conservative tonight. what about the state of ohio? this is a little better for governor romney. 47% of republicans in ohio say his positions are just about right. but still, more than a third, 37%, say not conservative enough. let's move on to the state of tennessee, another big battle ground tonight. we know here a dead heat with senator santorum in the final days, nearly half of those voting in the republican presidential primary today says mitt romney's position on the issues not conservative enough. we'll continue to look at this data throughout the night not only to see who's winning in the key states and why but what it might tell us about the race going forward. another candidate we haven't mentioned much yet ron paul. he's in north dakota tonight
channelling much of his energy into the caucus state. i spoke with him earlier during a stop in idaho. >> congressman, good to see you on this important day. ten states voting today. yet to have a ron paul victory. we thought it might come in maine, close but not a victory. we thought it might come in washington state. it didn't come there. will today end with a win column for ron paul and if so where? >> today we're looking at three states in particular. we're looking at alaska, idaho and we're looking at north dakota. and we expect to do real well, but it remains to be seen exactly what will happen tonight. >> your third in the delegate chase coming into today, governor romney is starting to pull open to a big lead. many people might ask tomorrow morning, congressman, if you have maybe one victory but still well back in the delegate race they will ask what you want. >> we want a lot more delegates. we haven't even counted the delegates for the delegate process that has been started in the last couple months, won't finish for another two months. so we don't know exactly what we'll do. so we've got to count the
delegates before we make any decisions. >> you're a veteran of this process. if governor romney were to win five or six of the ten states tonight, does that make him inevitable, likely? what will it make him. >> no, it makes him the frontrunner. but i think he'll still have a long way to go. nobody's going to clinch the election today. and you get gingrich winning some states, santorum winning some states, ron paul winning some states, and sorting all this delegates selection process, i think we have a little bit of time left before you declare anybody a winner. >> one of the big conversations in the country right now and in the campaign is what to do about iran and its nuclear program. the prime minister of israel was in town to meet with the president of the united states. your three rivals for the republican nomination, senator santorum, speaker beginning rich, governor romney all spoke to apac in washington today. i want you to listen to their tough talk when it comes to iran. >> i'll make sure iran knows of the very real peril that awaits it if it becomes nuclear.
>> in the gingrich administration would not keep talking while the iranians keep building. >> if they do not tear down those facilities, we will tear down them ourselves. >> congressman paul, you disagree with them on iran. the democratic president, president obama today said he's worried about the casualness with which republican candidates talk about a possible military conflict with iran. is president obama right? >> he certainly is closer to my position than the other candidates. because well, the other republicans are saying is very reckless. i mean, to talk about already now mccain is advocating in the senate why don't we start dropping bombs on syria. and then they're so anxious to go to war. and it reminds me so much of our efforts before we went into iraq to try to alert the people. look, let's pay attention to what's going on. let's find the facts. but you know, iraq was not a threat.
they didn't have weapons of mass destruction. there was no al qaeda. i think the same thing is going on here. there was no evidence whatsoever that the iranians had or are on the verge of getting a nuclear weapon according to our own military people, our own cia, according to the u.n. so i think it's blown way out of proportion. it's very reckless and very dangerous. and the last thing this country needs and our military agrees is another war. because ultimately, though, yes, we can beat anybody militarily. but the military operation around the world is bankrupting this country. so the greatest threat to us is a financial crisis. and this will enhance the chances of this financial crisis. just look at what's happened to gasoline and oil prices right now. that's going to get much worse. once the bombs start dropping on iran, whether it's israel or the united states, believe me, this world is going to be in a much chaotic shape. so they're worrying about something that they need not have such a worry about. i don't want them to have a weapon. but i also lived throughout the
1960s being in the military, being in the air force. the soviets, a ruthless, terrible nation, we dealt with them. they had 30,000 nuclear weapons. so i think the war drums are beating much louder than they need to be. we need to defend our country. but we don't need to be the aggressor nation. >> congressman ron paul, appreciate your time on this super tuesday. we'll count the votes tonight and check in with you soon on the campaign trail, sir. you just heard there from ron paul and his republican rivals talking tough on iran. ahead we'll hear president obama hit back and hit back hard. and cnn doing something new to help us understand the impact of today's super tuesday voting. we'll take you into a virtual republican convention. [ todd ] hello? hello todd. just calling to let you know
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about 30 minutes or so away from the polls closing in the first three states. georgia, vermont and virginia. at the top of the hour let's see if we'll be able to make any projections. stand by. even with all the delegates up for grabs on this super tuesday, no one will be able to clinch the republican nomination tonight. there's a lot of concern among republicans that this long, drawn-out fight could end up with a weakened nominee and a divided republican convention. our tom foreman is here to take us into what we're calling a virtual convention. tom, give us a sense of what may unfold late this summer in tampa. >> reporter: you know, wolf, this is about the delegates the delegates the delegates. they're how we really keep score. not fundraising, not ads, not debates, it's do you win enough delegates. what the republicans want is a
candidate with a clear lead they can get behind. what they don't want is a divisive battle. >> so how could such a war actually shape up here? where i'm virtually standing right now at the republican convention in tampa. and how will the top contenders deal with it? mitt romney, rick santorum, newt gingrich, and ron paul. to figure that out let's start by looking at the convention floor as it stands right now. >> reporter: instead of clustering delegates by state let's put them together by whom they support. so let me see the big group first. mitt romney's delegates. so far he's won more than anyone else, strong showings in places like florida, nevada and new hampshire. and he's picked up some delegates even in states where he did not win outright. but here comes trouble. now show me rick santorum's supporters through this point. he's done well with conservatives in places like
iowa, colorado and minnesota. let's add newt gingrich's delegates. he won south carolina. and he could do well in other southern states voting today like his home state of georgia or tennessee. and lastly, we throw in ron paul's forces. . now we're going to take our shot up high, and you can see the problem. romney has never truly broken free of the pack to establish himself as an unbeatable force. sure, individually he has clearly outgunned each of his challengers. but if we put them all together, make them one color, and it's not at all clear that he is the choice of this party at this point. for a comparison let's jump back to 2008 and look at john mccain's delegates at this point in the primaries. completely overwhelming mitt romney's and mike huckabee's. there was no question at that convention who the nominee would be. so back to this race, if the party stays this divided until
the convention, what will happen? first you'll have major fights on the floor and behind closed doors. multiple votes as each campaign twists arms, makes deals, and tries to push delegates into giving their guy a majority. second, you'll have furious talk of draft movements. efforts to drag in someone who's not even a candidate right now as some kind of a 11th hour compromise, such as jeb bush, chris christie or mitch daniels. and third you will almost certainly see a republican party coming out of its convention with deep fractures that will need mending on as the real battle against the democrats gets under way. that's why all eyes are on these super tuesday states and all the delegates they will send to this floor. and this is where i will be tonight tracking the changes minute-by-minute and letting you see if we're getting closer to a wild, brutal, bruising, brokered convention or closer to the
balloons dropping for a clear and obvious frontrunner. >> all right. thanks very much, tom. we're going to have reports from tom foreman at the virtual convention throughout this night. an important super tuesday night. anderson, back to you. wolf, thanks very much. talking to some of our analysts and contributors. what do you think the likelihood -- >> i want to go to that virtual convention, okay? >> i feel bad is tom foreman trapped in that virtual world all night? >> how do we get him snout. >> like mike tv and willy won ca. so what happens? i mean, do you believe it could be some sort of brokered convention? it seems unlikely. >> i think we'll know a lot more about that at the end of the night tonight. this could be the beginning of the end or not. but i think if mitt romney wins ohio, for example, does well in tennessee or even wins tennessee, then he's going to have a compelling case to make about the inevitability of his
nomination, about how the party should unite behind him. we've already seen some senior conservatives this week like eric cantor come out a republican leader in the house come out and say he's supporting mitt romney. if romney does well tonight, i think you're going to see some republicans line up like planes at laguardia saying time to endorse now because he's going to be our man. >> you got to have half the delegates plus one, right, to win? he's been having steadily more than half the delegates. right now he's got more than half. he's likely to get half tonight. it's just very hard to see who can beat him, who else can get half. i don't think it's assured but i think the chances of having a brokered convention have gone down. >> you don't see him -- there's no likelihood of anybody dropping out after tonight. >> i mean, i would imagine you'd have a strong point of view on that. everyone seems to think going to go just a little bit further so you wouldn't have that happen yet. someone was talking today about
when ronald reagan ran against jimmy carter. jimmy carter had seemed inevitable coming in. ronald reagan actually they compared him to mitt romney how he had done pro-choice legislation in california. he had done all these things but became known for something very different. >> "wall street journal" today. >> an interesting story. >> reagan didn't look like the obvious electable candidate. romney doesn't look like the obvious electable candidate but reagan grew a lot. >> i don't think anybody's going to drop out after tonight. if you're newt gingrich and you're rick santorum and you're heading into alabama and mississippi, not exactly strong territory for mitt romney. you're saying, you know what, i ought to hang around. by the way they've got the super pac money that can back them up. >> and newt gingrich is hoping to be reborn yet again. >> when you run for president you've got a fairly healthy ego. >> really? >> these guys ain't getting out. each one of them this i can win the other guy's a clown, he can't win. therefore i'm going to stay. you may be wondering just thinking about this whole thing
about we are going to change the whole system so we have proportional allocation of delegates. going is that really crazy? >> they're acting like a bunch of democrats which might not be a compliment. >> we're a little bit less than 25 minutes away from the first polls closing. john, back to you. right now in fargo, north dakota cnn's jim spellman right in the thick of it all. hi, jim. >> reporter: john, take a look at this. hsn of people have poured into this caucus room at a hotel room here in fargo, north dakota. going to come up to their district table, or this is an at-large table. they're going to be give an ballot that looks just like this. if they need more they just hit the xerox machine. they mark their candidate preference after they show some i.d. like this gentleman's doing. take a look at this, john. slide that over, would you, please? take a look at this, john. to be sure nobody votes twice they got this idea from voters
in iraq. they're going to ink their thumb, mark their ballot and drop it in a metal box like this. the election results from each table get tallied. they go to the hq in bismarck. they think in a few hours they're going to know who they've chosen here in north dakota, john. >> if somebody wins by one vote, jim spellman, i suspect they'll be subpoenaing you to testify you didn't cast a vote there in fargo, north dakota. >> void void void. >> they knew in advance to keep you out of the voting there. that's great to see democracy in action. jim spellman will be with us from fargo throughout the night. jim, thank you. in the next hour you'll see the voting in fargo, north dakota. we'll also know for newt gingrich's campaign his home state of georgia first wave of polls closing at the top of the hour. next president obama warns his gop rivals. he says they're playing a dangerous game with foreign policy. sharp words from his news conference ahead.
three of the republican candidates took time out to speak to a leading pro-israel lobbying group. they talked tough about iran's nuclear threat and promised strong support for israel. >> israel doesn't need public lectures about how to weigh decisions of war and peace. it needs our support. >> i've seen the president who's been reticent. he says he has israel's back. from everything i've seen from the conduct of this administration, he has turned his back on the people of israel. >> we would indicate clearly that their failure to stop their program is in fact crossing a
red line. the red line is not the morning the bomb goes off. the red line is not the morning our intelligence community tells us they have failed once again. the red line is now. >> president obama responded during his news conference at the white house today accusing his republican rivals of playing a dangerous game. >> those folks don't have a lot of responsibilities. they're not commander in chief. and when i see the casualness with which some of these folks talk about war, i'm reminded of the costs involved in war. i'm reminded of the decision that i have to make in terms of sending our young men and women into battle. and the impacts that has on their lives, the impact it has on our national security, the impact it has on our economy. this is not a game.
>> let's bring in our chief white house correspondent jessica yellin. the republican candidates are talking tough, using very muscular language. when you look at their policy proposals what they would do is it that different from what the current president is doing? >> reporter: president obama argues that certainly not. you heard him take it directly to the republicans today, saying that they are talking loose about war. the fundamental difference, john, is about their argument about public posture. the republican candidates argue that there should be no perceived daylight between the u.s. and israel when it comes to what they would do on iran. no matter whatever differences there may be in private there should be no perceived differences in public. president obama and the administration argues it's all a question of degree, and that we've heard in recent days that president obama has said as much as he possibly can, they would argue, saying that the president has israel's back, that they are a sovereign nation and that the u.s. stands with them even going
so far as to say even military options are on the table. and you heard his tough language today saying that it's not the folks quote popping off on the campaign trail who have to make the tough sacrifices in the end, john. >> our chief white house correspondent jessica yellin. no surprise i think the president decided he wanted to be involved in the super tuesday conversation. jess, thanks. anderson, take it away. certainly no accident the president decided to come out and make these remarks today. do you think his comments were effect sniff. >> i think it's remarkable that the president last week was talking in an interview with the atlantic i have israel's back. then he goes to apac and give as pretty muscular speech. and then today criticizes republicans for being muscular. >> was he criticizing them for being muscular or cavalier and attacking him for things which when you look at what they're proposing it's not that much different than what he's proposing? >> >> the only perspective that matters is the iranian one. do the iranians say they're
being cavalier? or do they say if republicans are in office they mean it we're going to take military action. if president obama is in office we don't know if he will or won't. maybe he will, maybe he won't. i think it's the iranian perspective that's determinate of whether this is coercive diplomacy and effective or not. >> i think that's the difference. with george bush as president was never any doubt about u.s.'s commitment to israel. there certainly is doubt about this president's commitment. he's raised it himself going back to the 67 borders, lecturing israel. >> wasn't that the policy of the bush administration? >> no. politically the fact is it's not the policy, it's the commitment. with this president there is doubt. and you look around the country. you can see it in democratic divisions here. politically there is doubt. and weakness attracts the wolves. not the wolf, wolves. weakness invites aggression. that's the risk i think of this
administration has engendered with their i think lack of a strong commitment. >> paul? >> there's always a rest particular you politicize these things. that's what mitt romney looks like. frankly i think that's what these guys look like. i was at apac on sunday, a very pro-israel organization. i'm a supporter of them. shimon peres gave a speak that a leading republican at the conference told me sounded like it was made by the chairman of the obama re-election campaign. there is no doubt. and playing politics with this actually i think feeds into the potential adversaries, much more than anything that the president has said. he has been remarkably resolute for a guy who did come into office with very little foreign policy experience. he has authorized almost 300 lethal drone attacks. president bush authorize d -- >> for republicans it's that
this administration is incredibly weak on foreign policy. and from the democrats they believe that foreign policy is a strength of this president. they're both getting the same set of facts and yet see two completely different narratives. >> when you look at the political surveys, americans think this president, think probably because of the bin laden operation, this president has been strong on foreign policy. in fact, this is the reverse democrat. he's strong on foreign policy than he is on economics, which is not the way democrats usually are. no president, i think in the united states, would go to war for political purposes. i don't think president obama would or anyone. but there is no political break preventing president obama from being overly aggressive here if there's an opportunity to do so. yet you look at political levels -- >> israel's -- i was in israel just a few months ago and i was with paul at apac. they have said that the support they're receiving from the united states at this time is unprecedented.
so i think that what we're seeing today is these callous political attacks to discredit the president at a time when the country should understand the threat that iran poses, and also the consequences of going to war. this politics, it sounds nice, it's cute, it makes them seem tough when they don't have to make grown-up decisions. but the real truth is that when it comes to israel it's not about party, it's not about the prime minister, it's about our shared interests and shared values. >> we'll have more on this discussion. we've got to go back to john, though. foreign policy big in the campaign as you look at the ten states on the map today. different economies when you go state to state, vermont to idaho to alaska. different battle ground decisions made by the candidates. erin burnett, what stands out to you as we get ready for the big super tuesday? >> ten different economist. you've got some of the best and worst in the country tonight. ad spending says a lot about where these can daets have put their bets. i've started to really like this chart as we've gone through the primary season. this is how much money on super
tuesday. so the ten states up tonight that the candidates have spent. as you can see, candidate by candidate, newt gingrich hasn't spent anything. this is broadcast ads and also ads that air on cnn or fox news channel, cable as well. now let me add in -- this is my favorite. i like the second touch. super pacs. hello. all of a sudden, mitt romney, 4.4 times more than his next competitor, newt gingrich. of course this is the sheldon aid ellison financed super pac here for mr. gingrich. mitt romney a lot of money going into ohio. you see more of the southern states, georgia, oklahoma, tennessee for newt gingrich and rick santorum. and then playing the ads which i always like to do. we'll play a mitt romney super pac and we'll play a rick santorum super pac. this ad aired in ohio for mr. romney. >> santorum voted to raise the debt limit five times, and for billions in waitful products.
he voted zero to cut spending. >> this is one of my favorites, the whole debt ceiling thing. >> another one of those very positive ads we're seeing a lot of in the campaign. >> 95% negative. that isn't going to surprise you. because we like to be equal in our negativity or positivity let's play one rick santorum super pac put out about mitt romney also airing in ohio. >> how can mitt romney beat barack obama when on the vital decisions they're not much different? like obama, romney drastically increased spending, increased state taxes and fees. even worse, romney care is the blueprint for obama care. >> it's all very pleasant. >> all in the republican family. they just love each other. you can tell by these ads. >> if these guys ever ended up running together for something. they are adding so much fodder. >> we'll get that moment at the convention where they all come out and pretend they love each other. now we're just minutes away from the first poll closing of this big night. at the top of the the hour, and we could
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the presidential race has been won di ronald reagan. >> and now the president is governor bill clinton. >> too close to call. >> and george w. bush elected president of the united states. >> and george bush is the president of the united states. >> and barack obama is the president of the united states. >> we could learn the winners and the losers in a few minutes. >> and we are closing down on the race to the white house.
tonight, a republican campaign blockbuster. ten states and hundreds of delegates on the line at the tame same time. >> it is our time for choosing, and this time, we have to get the choice right. >> will this night bring any clarity to the most unpredicted presidential race in memory? >> it is a episode of "survivor" and we have to stay on the eyelan and neye l eyel eyeland and not get voted off. >> and it is america's choice, and it is super tuesday. >> mitt romney, and rick santorum are slugging it out for the most coveted prize of the night, a proving ground for november. >> and ohio is a state that often decides who the president is. >> georgia has the most delegates at stake tonight, and it is newt gingrich's home turf, and it could decide whether his campaign can bounceback. >> i said all along that georgia was the key. >> will any one candidate emerge as the big super tuesday winner
or loser? republicans are choosing, and the world is watching. nothing in this election compares to what is happening right now. welcome to the viewers in the united states and around the world, i'm wolf blitzer at the cnn election center. we should get a sense of how the crucial night is going to go for the four republican candidates very soon. the polls will close at the top of the hour in a georgia, virginia and vermont, a total of 139 delegates at stake in those three states. cnn's exclusive ballot and caucus counters are in place across the country to take you inside of the voting and bring you results before any one else. ourane course and correspondents are out in full force for the
super tuesday coverage. we have candy crowley and joe johns. we go to candy crowley at mitt romney's headquarters. candy? >> i would describe, wolf, the romney folks, and mitt romney, himself, steady as she goes, and calm atmosphere. nobody is beating the chest saying we will do well tonight. the m.o. is, listen, we are in it for the long haul. we have the money to move forward and we will go pull of the way to the conventions if we have to, and we expect to do well tonight. they won't give you any numbers or states to go along with it, but suffice to it say that they don't feel good, but they don't want to raise the expectations, wolf. >> candy, standby. joe johns is over in the head quarters for newt gingrich. set the scene for us, joe. >> well, newt gingrich has spent enormous amounts of time traveling around georgia his home state making a couple of trips up to tennessee. now, he's expecting all of that hard work in the southern states
to pay off. the question really tonight for newt gingrich is whether essentially, he is going to get enough votes and a largest percentage of the vote and able to say that he is now a credible candidate and able to go forward. so, we are waiting to see what happens. back to you. >> all right. joe, thank you very much. anderson cooper is watching this exciting night with us as well. anderson? >> yes, wolf. we are getting closer to the first poll closings tonight in vermont and virginia and georgia. heading into the contest tonight, cnn estimates that mitt romney has twice as many delegates rick santorum, with 207. rick santorum with 86. and ron paul has 46 and newt gingrich has 39. now, there are 419 delegates at stake, and you need 1, 144 to win. and using the state-of-the-art
technology we want to put tom foreman, and we are looking at erin burnett and seeing what the influence of money is in the battleground states. >> yes, it is better than average, and the national unemployment rate is 8.5%, and eight of the states have bert than average unemployment which is the crucial state of ohio which 7.9%, and that is impressive. and north dakota, 3.3, and i will talk about that later, but it is a fascinating story and when you look at the worst states with higher than average unemployment it is georgia where we will be getting results in a few moments, so better than average, and we will see if that will affect the tally the night. >> thank you, erin. as always we have gloria borger, and david gergen, and along with the political contributors we will put everything in perspective for you. and now let's check in with john king. >> in ohio, the biggest contested prize tonight, and georgia with one of the most delegates and if mitt romney is
the front-runner, can he win in the south, the bedrock of the republican party. we want to show you the exit data showing that there could be a issue with the religion, the mormon faith. most of the tennessee republicans identify themselves as white evangelicals. and does it matter to you, and more than 4 in 10 in tennessee said it matters a great de s s . and for santorum, and gingrich and romney, you see it. you will see governor romney leading among the voters there, so perhaps among some southern evangelicals, mitt romney's mormon faith could be an issue. wolf? >> three states at the top of the hour will be closing their polls. and within a few seconds. standby, and we will share exactly what we know at the top of the hour. we are watching georgia. georgia, very much on our minds gh