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All aboard the 'CNN Election Express'

Soledad O'Brien joins Tucker Carlson and Paul Begala in the studio area of CNN's Election Express bus.
Soledad O'Brien joins Tucker Carlson and Paul Begala in the studio area of CNN's Election Express bus.

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Soledad O'Brien talks with Tucker Carlson and Paul Begala on the 'CNN Election Express.'
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Soledad O'Brien

NEW YORK (CNN) -- CNN on Monday launched its 2004 campaign coverage bus, named the "CNN Election Express."

It will travel to key locations around the country in the coming election year, serving as a mobile studio for reporters, anchors, candidates and voters.

The bus is equipped with a satellite link, a wireless computer network, video editing capabilities and videophones.

CNN anchor Soledad O'Brien was given a tour of the bus, before its launch, by "Crossfire" hosts Tucker Carlson and Paul Begala.

O'BRIEN: Now the idea is that you're going to host the shows from here, various shows. What shows?

CARLSON: "Crossfire," "Inside Politics." A lot of CNN's political programming will originate here. The point is that, at this point in a campaign, you really need to go to the candidates. They're on the road full time, purely retail campaigning. We want to be where they are.

We're leaving tonight after our show, [to go] up to New Hampshire, where the last of the Democratic National Committee-sponsored debates is. [Democratic presidential candidate] Al Sharpton will be on the bus tomorrow. We'll have more candidates -- Sen. John Edwards, then we will have Gen. Wesley Clark. Everyone's going to be on this bus.

O'BRIEN: Only candidates, or are you hoping to get voters?

CARLSON: We are going to voters, we're going to get everybody.

O'BRIEN: What's your goal? Immediately out of the box you mentioned Al Sharpton on "Crossfire" today. What comes up right off that?

BEGALA: We'll go to New Hampshire. Big debate Tuesday night. We'll be there to cover it, but before that we're going to have Gen. Wesley Clark. He's getting on the bus -- a guy more familiar with driving a tank but we may let him get behind the wheel and wheel around a little bit, and find some voters.

We want to be where the politicians are and where the voters are. I love being in Washington. It's often the nerve center. But now the nerve center has moved.

CARLSON: It really is hard to know what's going on if you're not there, and the primary season is so compressed, as you know. Now everything will be decided by the first week of March pretty much, so that things can change quickly on the ground. It's not always clear, if you're sitting in a studio in Washington, what's happening. So we hope to find out.


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