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Seven States, Seven Candidates, No Rest for the Weary: More States Ahead; Campaign Ad Spending

Aired February 3, 2004 - 15:08   ET


ANNOUNCER: The power of seven. The Democrats first cross- country showdown is under way. And for some, a long awaited win could mean everything.

SEN. JOHN EDWARDS (D-NC), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I need you to get to the polls. You've got a few hours left. Get your friends, anybody you can reach, to the polls.

ANNOUNCER: We are live on the trail with all of the top contenders.

Behind the curtain. We'll bring you the first read on our exit polls to get a sense of what today's primary voters are thinking.

Follow the bounce. We're already thinking about the next round of contests, just days away and chock-full of delegates.

The Bush team fires back. Did they shoot down attempts by Democrats to revive questions about the president's military record?

SCOTT MCCLELLAN, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: It is really shameful that this was brought up four years ago and it's shameful that some are trying to bring it up again.


ANNOUNCER: Now, live from CNN Election Headquarters in Atlanta, Judy Woodruff's INSIDE POLITICS.

JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you for joining us in Atlanta for this special 90-minute edition of INSIDE POLITICS.

We're getting a jump on the biggest primary and caucus day yet. And we're getting ready for any surprises or cliffhangers that may come our way. Democrats in seven states are making decisions today about their party's presidential nominee, from the low country of South Carolina to the North Dakota hills and the Arizona desert. A hefty 269 delegates are up for grabs.

Our correspondents are staked out across the nation covering the top candidates. And we will have live reports from them throughout the program.

Let's begin with the front-runner, though, John Kerry hoping to walk away tonight with a number of additional victories under his belt and an air of inevitability to his campaign. In fact, he's already looking ahead to Saturday's caucuses in Washington state.

CNN's Kelly Wallace is with Kerry now in Seattle -- hi, Kelly.


A sign of John Kerry's confidence, that he is spending this day in Washington, a state which, as you noted, does not vote until Saturday. A short time from now, he will actually be at a rally in Spokane, talking to a group of Democrats there before coming here to Seattle, where he will watch the election returns.

Earlier today, he left Phoenix. That was the final stop of his seven-state tour. And on the route from Phoenix here -- or en route to Spokane, he talked to reporters. He was asked if he thought the field would narrow after tonight. He said, that is not for him to judge. And then he said, looking ahead to tonight, he said he does not know what will happen, but he said he has always believed, when you run a presidential campaign, you have to run a national campaign, that you can't -- quote -- "cherry-pick."

This senator, though, right now, according to the polls, has a wide lead in five of the seven states holding contests today. And I got off the phone a short time ago with a senior Kerry campaign adviser, who said they are looking at the history books and they believe no other candidate has ever won four or more states when seven states are holding contests in one day.

Now, the senator last night, it was pretty much his biggest rally of the day in Phoenix. There, he was reunited with his wife, Teresa, who has also been campaigning in many of these states on the senator's behalf. And before that rally, the senator's aides handing out a memo calling reporters' attention to new national polls, including our very own CNN/"USA Today"/Gallup poll, which showed the senator beating President Bush 53 to 46 in a hypothetical matchup, aides very pleased with that, saying this could help today.

They believe it shows that John Kerry is the candidate, Democrats believe, who can beat President Bush in November. But, Judy, the senator himself was asked about that poll this morning. He said it was a one-day headline and that's it. He still has a very, very long way to go -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Working very hard not to seem overconfident, in fact.

All right, Kelly, thank you very much.

Well, Howard Dean also is looking towards Saturday's caucuses in Michigan and in Washington state. But he's doing it for a different reason than Kerry. Even Dean has acknowledged that he may be 0-9 when the final results come in tonight. So, he's banking on upcoming contests to keep his campaign alive.

Dean has appearance in Spokane and Tacoma, Washington, before settling to follow the vote count. At one stop, he took aim at rival Kerry without mentioning him by name.


HOWARD DEAN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You have a very stark choice in front of you between somebody who has actually delivered health care and balanced budgets and somebody who is a perfectly fine person, but hasn't ever delivered any health care, introduced 11 health care bills, none of which ever passed.

We need to win Washington state. What this choice is really about is, do you just want to change presidents or do you want real change in America?


WOODRUFF: Our senior political correspondent, Candy Crowley, is on the telephone now from Seattle.

Candy, what's going on inside the Dean campaign?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, a lot going on inside the Dean campaign.

As you know, for several days now, they've set their sites on Wisconsin. There obviously have been some ongoing talks with supporters, in particular, the unions, who obviously have put a lot of money into this campaign. We are told by sources within the campaign that the unions, in particular, asked me, and the SEIU, who were the first two major endorsements for Dean, are on board with the Wisconsin strategy.

Nonetheless, there will be a Thursday meeting with the governor. Again, the campaign says this is just about strategy and they're on board, but, clearly, some signs here of some concern. Beyond that, there have been, to our knowledge, about a dozen and a half people who have lost their jobs at the Dean campaign when they were at full-tilt, about 400 people (AUDIO GAP) people working for the Dean campaign.

We're told that some of these layoffs are from Iowa and New Hampshire, and something you would expect, since those are in the past. So, clearly, some signs of more belt-tightening, which we have been told ever since Roy Neel came on as the head of the campaign, that there would be some belt-tightening and dialing it back.

They do believe, though, they're in a fairly good position to keep going, to keep going through -- when you talk to the governor, he always mentions the March contests in California and New York. Whether or not there's the will to go on may be more important than the money. But they are banking a lot on Wisconsin and still talking about March.

WOODRUFF: All right, Candy Crowley, following the Dean campaign, on the phone with us from Seattle -- Dean focusing on those states after the seven tonight.

Well, now let's turn to South Carolina, which could prove to be John Edwards's launching pad or possibly his last stand.

CNN's Frank Buckley covering Edwards' Southern appeal in the first '04 contest in Dixie.


FRANK BUCKLEY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): John Edwards arrived on primary day ahead in the polls and hopeful his supporters would turn out.

EDWARDS: I may be losing my voice. You haven't lost yours. You can go to the polls today and make an enormous difference.

BUCKLEY: Senator Edwards says he must win here. And he claims that, even though John Kerry has not been in South Carolina since last Friday, and despite a home-field advantage -- Edwards was born here -- the results in the Palmetto State will have national significance.

EDWARDS: I think this South Carolina primary is a head-to-head contest on who can compete in the South, who can win rural voters and who can do well with African-American voters.

BUCKLEY: A third to a half of primary voters are expected to be black. All of the candidates, including Edwards, have worked to gain their support.

CROWD: Edwards! Edwards!

EDWARDS: Thank you.

BUCKLEY: The first-term senator from North Carolina was a virtual unknown on the national political stage before taking second in the Iowa caucuses.

And a new CNN/"USA Today"/Gallup poll indicates, he's come a long way since. It suggests that, if the general election were held today, Edwards and Kerry are the two Democratic candidates who could beat George W. Bush. Kerry wins the hypothetical matchup by seven points. Edwards wins by one.

EDWARDS: I think it does send some signal to the rest of the country that they need to nominate somebody who can actually beat George Bush. I obviously believe I'm a candidate who can beat George Bush everywhere in the country, including here in the south.

BUCKLEY: But is Edwards a potential winner just in the South? He plans to focus next on the Southern states of Virginia and Tennessee. But he says he will also play in Michigan. And he bats back any suggestions that he is a regional candidate.

EDWARDS: No, this is a national campaign. I've not walked away from any place.


BUCKLEY: Now, on that CNN poll, no one is suggesting that the outcome, that Senator Kerry and Senator Edwards beating George Bush in this hypothetical, that somehow that's a predictor of the November general election.

But, in the case of Senator Edwards, it's really a remarkable showing, given the fact that, just a few weeks ago, very few people outside of his home states of North Carolina, where he serves, and South Carolina, where he was born, very few people really knew who he was, outside of those areas, or perhaps Washington. And here he is in this hypothetical matchup actually beating President George W. Bush.

As for tonight, Senator Edwards intends to watch the returns at a private residence that he hopes to come here to Jillian's Grill (ph) in Columbia for a victory speech. And right after that, tonight, we're going to get back on a charter plane and head out to Tennessee -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, Frank Buckley with John Edwards, also noting today the Edwards campaign knocking down a report that Edwards would endorse John Kerry if he loses tonight in South Carolina. So they're getting their stories straight, so to speak. Frank, thank you very much.

Well, like John Edwards in South Carolina, Wesley Clark sees Oklahoma as his best chance for a needed victory tonight.

CNN's Dan Lothian is with Clark in Oklahoma.



DAN LOTHIAN, CNN BOSTON BUREAU CHIEF (voice-over): Oklahoma has been retired General's Wesley Clark's top prize in a three-state strategy Southwest strategy to gain momentum in the race. That's why he is in Oklahoma City today doing last-minute retail politicking and working the phone banks at his local headquarters.

CLARK: And I hope you'll vote for me, because I'm the best person in this race to defeat George W. Bush.

LOTHIAN: In this heavy military state, Clark has been reaching out to veterans.

CLARK: We're going to put the money into the Veteran's Department that we need. I think it's unconscionable in this country that we've got veterans who are waiting six months and more for appointments, when they've got heart disease and other life- threatening ailments. That's not right.

LOTHIAN: He has also been courting Hispanic voters in New Mexico and Arizona, even going out of his way to visit the small town of Las Vegas, New Mexico, where, late last night, he made a final appeal to an enthusiastic crowd.

CLARK: We can do better than George W. Bush, and we must! LOTHIAN: Clark's senior aides say, they are looking for at least one win and some second-place finishes, even as they work on their strategy, looking forward to Tennessee and Virginia.


CLARK: But, according to the polls, it's shaping up to be a challenging day for Wesley Clark. The big question is, what will happen if he cannot pull off a win, specifically here in Oklahoma? The campaign publicly has been saying that -- unwilling to go down that road, saying, rather, that they expect to win. But, privately, there are some concerns that it will be difficult to go forward if they cannot win -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: One of those moments when all these statements get very delicately worded, you might say.

Dan, thank you very much.

Well, Joe Lieberman says that he believes the first state to ratify the U.S. Constitution will also be the first state to put him in the winner's column. So, Lieberman spent this day in Delaware, making last-minute appeals for primary support. The Connecticut senator will watch the returns come in tonight in Virginia, which holds a primary next Tuesday.

Al Sharpton is focusing on the vote in South Carolina, the first contest featuring a sizable African-American community. We're going to have live reports on the Sharpton and the Lieberman campaigns ahead.

Meantime, Dennis Kucinich isn't letting his asterisk status in many polls bother him. He attended a rally at his campaign headquarters in Tempe, Arizona, this morning.

Stay with CNN tonight as the results come in, seven states, seven candidates. We'll tell you who does come out on top. I'll be part of CNN's election team when our coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.

We have much more ahead on this special INSIDE POLITICS edition. How will today's results affect the next round of contests? We'll preview the battlegrounds ahead and who may have the most to lose.

Also ahead, the commander in chief's team on the defensive against swipes by the Democrats.

And the flash seen around the world. You had to figure someone would talk about it on the campaign trail.


WOODRUFF: The White House is firing back at what the Bush team says it feels is an outrageous political shot by some Democrats.

The issue concerns President Bush's National Guard service back in the 1970s. On ABC's "This Week," Democrat Party Chairman Terry McAuliffe said -- quote -- "I look forward to that debate, when John Kerry, a war hero with a chest full of medals, is standing next to George W. Bush, a man who was AWOL from the National Guard."

Former U.S. Senator Max Cleland, a Vietnam veteran who has been campaigning for Kerry, tells crowds that the nation should not have a president -- quote -- "who didn't even complete his tour stateside in the Guard" -- end quote.

White House correspondent Dana Bash joins me now with more on the White House response to all of this -- Dana.

DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Judy, as you well know, Democrats have been attacking the president for months on many different issues. The Bush campaign has just begun to respond to some of those attacks.

The White House, however, has really been reluctant to engage until today. The White House spokesman wanted -- it was very obvious, wanted to respond to suggestions that the president was away without leave, or AWOL. He was asked by reporters during briefing. He was eager very to respond.


MCCLELLAN: It is really shameful that this was brought up four years ago and it's shameful that some are trying to bring it up again. I think it is sad to see some stoop to this level, especially so early in an election year. The president, like many Americans, was proud to serve in the National Guard. The National Guard plays an important role in the security of America. And the president was proud of his service.


BASH: Now, no one is denying that perhaps the president had some special treatment. No one is saying that he had perfect attendance. But what Bush aides are saying is that any charge that he was actually AWOL are blatantly false.

And, in fact, they released to CNN a copy of Mr. Bush's discharge from the National Guard. If you take a look at it, it's dated October 1, 1973, which is at the top marked "honorable." They say no one serving in the National Guard who was actually considered AWOL would have gotten this honorable discharge from the National Guard.

Now, Bush aides, Judy, are very open about why they feel the need to respond to this so forcefully. First of all, they say it's because they want to set the record straight. But, also it's because they're trying to get the front-runner, the Democratic front-runner, John Kerry, to be out there repudiating these charges, because they feel that the earlier they can get him to do that, if they can, the better off they are in trying to sort of nip this in the bud early in the campaign season.

Now, Bush campaign chairman Marc Racicot did put out a statement today as well. He said -- quote -- "To suggest, as Senator Kerry has, that the military should answer questions about President Bush's honorable discharge is an outrage. The furtherance of these charges is despicable."

Now, Judy, it's of course no secret that the Bush campaign is trying to promote the president's national security agenda, kind of promote him as commander in chief as part of their strategy for his reelection campaign. They feel that there's a positive feeling of him and his stewardship of the military as commander in chief over the past three years.

But they are certainly well aware that Senator Kerry is somebody who is a Vietnam veteran and that he's running on that, although they do say that they're going to continue to run, if he is the Democratic nominee, on his record -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: A very sensitive subject matter. It will be interesting to see if the Democrats pursue this one. All right, Dana, thank you very much.

Well, just hours from now, the victors will enjoy the spoils and the losers will be licking their wounds. Sorry for the cliche. But the Democratic battle is not over yet. Just ahead, our Bill Schneider will tell us about the road ahead for the Democratic presidential candidates.


WOODRUFF: Welcome back to this special edition of INSIDE POLITICS. No matter what the results of today's primaries and caucuses, the Democratic candidates will find new voters waiting and more rounds of contests beckoning.

Our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider, looks at which states are just ahead.


WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): The calendar between now and Super Tuesday provides targets of opportunity for each contender. On Saturday, Democrats will hold caucuses in Michigan and Washington. Howard Dean may have a shot in those states, although the latest polls in Michigan show a strong tilt toward Kerry.

Dean has a better chance to overtake Sunday in the Maine caucuses. As Vermont goes, so goes Maine, but not New Hampshire.

Next Tuesday, February 10, features primaries in Virginia and Tennessee. Don't look for Dean to make too much of an effort in those two southern states. Sure, Al Gore endorsed Dean, but Gore couldn't even carry his home state of Tennessee in 2000. Virginia and Tennessee are important tests for John Edwards...

SEN. JOHN EDWARDS (D-NC), PRESIDENTIAL CANIDIDATE: The South is not George Bush's backyard. It is my backyard.

SCHNEIDER: ... and for the other southerner in the race. WESLEY CLARK (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm just a soldier from Arkansas who spent his life trying to help this country.

SCHNEIDER: Al Sharpton hope as strong showing with African- American voters will bring him delegate in Virginia and Tennessee. And Joe Lieberman holds out hope in Virginia, a conservative state.

SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (D-CT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Our party tonight is in Virginia, which has a primary a week from now. I've got a schedule in Virginia tomorrow.

SCHNEIDER: Saturday, February 14, brings caucuses in Nevada and the District of Columbia. Dean came in first in the non-binding D.C. primary in January. The anti-Washington candidate carried Washington. Nevada is filled with refugees from California. It's a good bet California may vote the same. The Wisconsin primary on February 17 is looming as a big showdown between Kerry and Dean.

HOWARD DEAN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Wisconsin's a good place for us. It appeals to Independents, and I have a strong appeal to Independents.

SCHNEIDER: If Dean carries Wisconsin, it will fire him up to challenge Kerry in New York and California on Super Tuesday. But first, there are caucuses in Hawaii and Idaho, and a Utah primary on February 24. Hawaii in February doesn't sound so bad after all of those week in New Hampshire.

March 2, the climax. Super Tuesday. Primaries and caucuses, including California, Ohio, New York, and Georgia, plus three new England states, Minnesota, and Maryland. Should be good states for Dean, given the large numbers (UNINTELLIGIBLE). If he makes it to Super Tuesday.


SCHNEIDER: If the press tries to declare the contest over, Dean will try to make the press the issue. How dare the media say to Democrats in New York and California, it's all over, your vote doesn't even count. He'll say that.

WOODRUFF: And you know the press would never do that, too.

SCHNEIDER: Of course not. We won't.

WOODRUFF: We certainly won't.

Bill Schneider, thank you. We will see much of you tonight. Thanks.

Well, voters in seven states are choosing among the Democratic presidential hopefuls on a day which could end with clear sweep for John Kerry. Howard Dean is already looking ahead to this weekend's caucuses, as you just heard from Bill, in Washington State and Michigan. John Edwards has placed his hopes on a first place showing in South Carolina, but Wesley Clark hoping for a win in Oklahoma. Al Sharpton, meantime, has poured all of his energy into South Carolina. CNN's Joe Johns has more on the Sharpton campaign.


JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRSPONDENT (voice-over): Going places where he says other candidates won't stop, Reverend Al Sharpton has gotten the crowds on their feet in South Carolina. But it's tough for him, challenging assumptions he's just a vanity candidate, an assertion he mocks as belittling to minorities.

AL SHARPTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When we run, it's not because we want to push our cause, not because we want to have the nomination. We want to just get publicity, but everybody else is serious. You've got people beneath me in the polls. Why don't they call them vanity candidates?

JOHNS: He has crisscrossed this state, preaching politics.

SHARPTON: I know a man. I know a man.

JOHNS: His focus on is opposing the war in Iraq, the unemployment rate for minorities, and deficiencies he sees in education and health care. Warmly received by African-American audiences, he hopes to stand out in a state where blacks could make up half of the Democratic vote. But the question is whether people who come out to see him will vote for him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'll have to check everything out. See what everybody has to say before we vote.

JOHNS: To bolster Sharpton's turnout, a phone message from famed lawyer Johnny Cochran is going out to thousands of South Carolina households.

JOHNNY COCHRAN, ATTORNEY: Al Sharpton is fighting to keep Dr. King's dream alive.

JOHNS: But some voters say they want a candidate who can challenge George Bush, and don't see Sharpton as electable. He argues they should vote for someone who will fight for their issues.

SHARPTON: So suppose that you guess wrong and the person who gets the nomination and is a vote away from me -- you guess wrong and you hurt the cause that you wanted to see represented by the party.

JOHNS: Polls vary widely on how much support he has.

SHARPTON: Most pollsters don't poll areas that I'm strongest. And then a lot of people don't tell pollsters they're going to vote for me.

I will take my hard hat, that's right.

JOHNS: And even some supposed sorters of John Edwards say Sharpton could be right. REV. DARRELL JACKSON, EDWARDS SUPPORTER: I think he will do better than expected. And I think someone like Sharpton probably does not poll well, but if the turnout is great, then that helps Al Sharpton.


JOHNS: This afternoon, in a last-ditch effort to generate support, Al Sharpton is visiting three voting precincts. He is vowing to stay in the race no matter what happens here in South Carolina -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right. Joe Johns, we hear him loud and clear. Thank you, Joe.

Well, skeptics are already questioning if Joe Lieberman can continue his campaign if he has a poor showing in today's contest. Our Bruce Morton standing by with more on this in Arlington, Virginia. In Washington, in other words -- Bruce.

BRUCE MORTON, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, no. Senator Lieberman would say, Judy, in Virginia. He says it's a sign that he needs to go forward to the Virginian vote on the 10th and all that. And this is a ballroom, like many others you and I have seen over the years. But if there were weather here, I think there would be a rumble of thunder in the distance, some clouds gathering maybe.

These are dark days for the Lieberman campaign. Most people don't think he will win any of the states that are in play today. You hear the kind of rumor that you hear on Election Day in a faltering campaign. They're telling him he ought to resign, they're telling him he may do it tomorrow. But the candidate himself remain a picture of sunny modesty, saying he will put his hopes today in the state of Delaware.


LIEBERMAN: We've got some other states that we're optimistic about, Oklahoma, Arizona, South Carolina. But right now, I would say that my highest hopes are in the people here in Delaware.


MORTON: Well, the one poll I've seen has him 11 points behind John Kerry in Delaware. In every other poll, in every other state I've seen, he's in single digits. So these are hard times for Joe Lieberman, a centrist in a year when Democratic voters seem to want somebody who will take the fight to President Bush -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right. Bruce Morton, I stand corrected. It is Arlington, Virginia. It is not the District of Columbia.

All right, Bruce, thank you very much.

Well, with me now are three journalists who are covered this race from the beginning. Ron Brownstein of the "Los Angeles Times" in Washington, CNN political analyst. Karen Tumulty of "TIME" Magazine. She's in Columbia, South Carolina. And Dan Balz of "The Washington Post" joins us from "The Post" newsroom.

Good to see all three of you.

And let me begin with you, Dan Balz. Let's just go back up the list, starting with Joe Lieberman. I want to quickly run this by you. Do you all see -- what are you hearing from inside the Lieberman campaign, Dan?

DAN BALZ, "WASHINGTON POST": Well, I think that Joe Lieberman's going to face a potential moment of truth tonight. His fifth place finish last week in New Hampshire was clearly a big disappointment. He had put a lot into that.

He vowed he was going to go on through the February 3 states. If he comes up without a victory tonight, I think it's going to be very difficult for him to make a case that there's any reason for him to go forward. Candidates do funny things in the end, but I think the moment of truth is coming tonight for him.

WOODRUFF: Karen, anything to add to that? And I want to ask you about Wes Clark.

KAREN TUMULTY, "TIME": Well, I think that is the case. And certainly there are some people who thought the moment of truth was, in fact, last week in New Hampshire, when he was hoping for -- at least to beat expectations, Joe Lieberman was, and he didn't.

Wes Clark, this is very much a test of Wes Clark. He has spent more than any other candidate in six of the -- in advertising on the air in six of the seven states that are up today. If he can't pull out a victory somewhere -- his hopes are highest in Oklahoma -- but if he can't pull out a victory somewhere, his whole rationale is opened to question. And particularly this idea that he is somehow a candidate who would sell in the South.

WOODRUFF: Ron Brownstein, we're hearing today that Clark's son, Wesley Clark Jr., has had sort of a heart-to-heart with reporters, if you will, where he's talked about his father shouldn't have skipped Iowa, getting pretty angry with the press. What's going on inside the Clark campaign?

RON BROWNSTEIN, "LOS ANGELES TIMES: Well, I think as Karen said, they're deciding really if it makes sense to go forward after tonight if they can't break through somewhere. Probably more than one somewhere.

Look, the realities for both Wes Clark and John Edwards is kind of similar. They have both staked their hopes on remaining in this race, on winning one state tonight -- South Carolina in the case of Edwards, Oklahoma in the case of Clark. But even if they meet that bar, Judy, it's not clear that doing that will really do -- give them momentum going forward.

It would allow them to avoid pressure to leave, perhaps, but it wouldn't really begin to change the dynamic of this race. To do so, someone is going to have to win somewhere where they're not expected to win, whether that's John Edwards in Oklahoma or Wes Clark in Arizona. Something that would cause people to sort of look at this again. Clark and Edwards can survive tonight, but it's another question whether they will really get much of a boost out of the evening's events.

WOODRUFF: Dan Balz, what about that? If John Edwards manages to pull a win in South Carolina, where does his campaign go after tonight?

BALZ: Well, I think he's clearly going to go on to Virginia and Tennessee, two other southern states. For all of these candidates, the goal is to try and stretch this calendar out as far as they probably can. And they need help from one another.

I mean, the more people who win tonight other than John Kerry, the better it is for all of the one whose are chasing John Kerry. So now if Edwards were to pull off a victory in both South Carolina and, say, Oklahoma, where he's been on the move for the last few days, now that would -- as Ron says, that would perhaps shape things up differently. But for John Edwards, he's going to is have to go on to the southern states and try to claim himself there, and then hope that this race continues to be competitive heading forward beyond that.

WOODRUFF: Karen, the Kerry campaign, is the hope there that he wins everything, or are they realistically assuming they may lose a couple?

TUMULTY: Well, certainly they would like to, you know, win across the board. And that would, I think, lead a lot of people to basically pronounce the race for the nomination is over with. But they know that they've got a hard slog in two of these states, in South Carolina and in Oklahoma. So I think that even if they win, say, five states, they are going to pitch this, to spin this as a big victory. And certainly, given where they were a month ago, it will be.

WOODRUFF: And Ron Brownstein, for John Kerry, are you already -- if you're running his campaign, are you already thinking, I've got to be worrying at this point about Wisconsin, Michigan and so forth, to make sure Howard Dean doesn't create any headaches for me?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, I'm not sure if it would be Howard Dean or somebody else. And it's really been extraordinary watching the Kerry campaign. I mea, no candidate really in recent memory has chosen to focus as much as their time and resource on those first two contests.

Even the first contest, he cannibalized New Hampshire to put all of his effort into Iowa. They have had the slingshot theory of this race, and it's been borne out. They believe that each victory would establish momentum for the next contest, and that really has paid off for them in terms of the New Hampshire win propelling them from nowhere, really nowhere in many of these states that are voting today into the lead, a number of them. That's why I think John Edwards is going to have to wonder a little bit. He's been a very good candidate in South Carolina, but I suspect at the end of the evening he may wonder if he would have been better served to spend a little more time in Oklahoma and try to begin generating some momentum. Because we've learned that momentum really is the decisive force in the early part of this race, when voters have very shallow impressions of many of these candidates.

WOODRUFF: It may well be a lot of should have, would have, could haves, when this is ever, whenever it is over. We don't want to jump the gun. We never want to do that.

All right. Ron, thank you very much.

Karen Tumulty, Dan Balz, good to see all three of you. We appreciate your stopping by. Thanks.

Well, the Tennessee primary, as we mentioned, is just around the corner. Coming up, how much will Al Gore give Howard Dean in the former vice president's home state?

Also ahead, an update in the candidate ad wars. Things have changed compared to Iowa and New Hampshire.


WOODRUFF: The presidential campaign is having some interesting repercussions in North Carolina and Tennessee, and some South Carolina voters are getting interesting phone calls, you might say.

Joining me from Washington with more on all this, Chuck Todd. He is the editor in chief or "The Hotline," the insider's political briefing produced by "The National Journal."

Chuck, first of all, those phone calls in South Carolina, what's that all about?

CHUCK TODD, EDITOR, "THE HOTLINE": Well, last night there's Democratic voters -- about 17,000 of them received a phone call from a group called Citizens for Sound Economy. It's a conservative group that's headed up now by former House Majority Leader Dick Army. And it was targeted at John Edwards. And let me read to you the lead of the call.

It says, "Do you know what John Edwards' plan is to save our country's Social Security from certain bankruptcy? Nothing." And then the call ends, "John Edwards has no plan to save Social Security, and Citizens for a Sound Economy thought you should know."

Now, we talked to some folks over at the group and they said that, you know, this has -- this wasn't just specific -- you know, this one specifically targeted Edwards, but this wasn't a national effort. That this came from their North Carolina and South Carolina chapters who are very focused on John Edwards.

They said they could possibly play in some other upcoming primaries, possibly in Tennessee, possibly in Virginia. And it may not just be targeted to Edwards. Maybe some others will be under attack.

But the fact is, no groups from the right have hit John Kerry with any paid media. John Edwards has been hit a lot, and Howard Dean was hit a lot.

WOODRUFF: It's interesting, because the effect of what this group is doing presumably would be to help John Kerry.

All right. Let me ask you quickly, Chuck, about Tennessee. This is a state where you would assume Howard Dean, with Roy Neel running his campaign, Al Gore's endorsement, he would be in good shape. What are you hearing?

TODD: Well, it's one of the weird head scratchers. Nobody understands why Dean is completely skipping this state. You know, when he talks about the states, that they're going to go to Michigan and then they're going to go to Wisconsin, totally skipping Tennessee and Virginia, but the Tennessee one is odd because two of the most powerful Democrats in the state are Al Gore and Roy Neel.

They were, you know, intricately involved in helping to decide who was the state party chair a couple of years back. Roy Neel was very involved in that. And they're not going to play at all. But it will be interesting to see if they somehow try to play behind the scenes.

Al Gore is going to be in the spotlight if the Tennessee primary takes on the significance that we think it might take on over the next week. You will see a lot of Al Gore in the news. What will they do? Will they try to help any candidate that hurts John Kerry?

And I think that that's something we're all going to be watching, because obviously any time John Kerry is hurt, it might help Howard Dean down the line. So we could be seeing some more jujitsu out of the Dean campaign.

WOODRUFF: A lot of bank shots going on here.

TODD: Exactly.

WOODRUFF: All right. Chuck Todd, editor in chief of "The Hotline," thanks a lot.

TODD: You got it. Thanks, Judy.

WOODRUFF: Question: Who is the big spender among the Democratic presidential candidates? When we return, we'll take a look at campaign ad spending since last summer and over the past week.

Plus, Howard Kurtz weighs in on how some of the Democrats are blaming their failure to connect with the voters on the news media.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) WOODRUFF: The fight to finish first has been a costly one for the Democratic presidential candidates. The latest report from the Campaign Media Analysis Group shows that Democrats have spent more than $40 million in the nation's top 100 media markets since the first ads were aired last June. The biggest spender, Howard Dean, with more than $10 million in ads.

In the week that just ended, the Democratic candidates spent more than $5.5 million on ads. But the suddenly financially-troubled Dean campaign moved far down the list, coming in fifth, with less than $400,000 spent. As the election moves forward, some of the candidates are hitting the airwaves with new ads that blames the news media for their trouble.

Here now Howard Kurtz, with CNN's "RELIABLE SOURCES."


HOWARD KURTZ, CNN "RELIABLE SOURCES" (voice-over): When presidential candidates start losing primaries, they can't very well say the voters were dumb. So some of them blame the messenger.

DEAN: The election is not going to be decided by pundits. And it's not going to be decided by polls.

KURTZ: Joe Lieberman may have finished fifth in New Hampshire, or as he spun it...

LIEBERMAN: We are in a three-way split decision for third place.

KURTZ: But his latest ad sticks it to the press for downplaying his chances.

NARRATOR: Ignore the pundits. Choose a president. Joe Lieberman.

KURTZ: John Edwards hasn't slapped around the pundits, but he surely must be getting tired of this question...

MATT LAUER, NBC: Would you consider brag a vice presidential candidate?


LAUER: No? Final.

EDWARDS: No. Final.

KURTZ: Now it's true that the pundits are often wrong, and that the candidate who wins Iowa and New Hampshire gets a huge wave of upbeat coverage. When one candidate is drawing so much free media, the others often depend on paid advertising to break through the static.

So this is what Dean's ads look like at the moment. Zilch. Dean's cash-strapped campaigned has run no ads in the seven states today.

Edwards is concentrating on his must-win home state, South Carolina, where the ailing textile industry gives him a chance to link the trade issue to his humble roots.

EDWARDS: Today, the mills are gone, and so are the jobs. That's why I oppose NAFTA and why I'll end tax breaks for companies that sends jobs overseas.

KURTZ: For Kerry, the main selling part remains Vietnam.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When the bullets began to hit the side of the boat, the boom, the pow, pow pow, we found out that John Kerry can lead.

KERRY: There's a sense after Vietnam that every other day is extra, that you have to do what's right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This man would make a great president.

KURTZ: Pretty moving stuff, especially from a black reverend who lives in South Carolina. But while this ad is airing in South Carolina and Missouri, which have large African-American populations, voters in Arizona, New Mexico, North Dakota and Delaware are seeing a similar spot with a white crew mate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The decisions that he made saved our lives. He had an unfailing instinct and leadership.

KERRY: There's a sense after Vietnam that every other day is extra.

KURTZ (on camera): The other candidates are running out of extra days, and money for ads like these, with Kerry riding high at the moment. And the uphill climb will be steeper if the media verdict after today's primaries is that Dean and Edwards and Clark and Lieberman have little hope of catching the new front-runner. But if Kerry's rivals don't start putting some points on the board, it's going to be hard to keep blaming the pundits.

This is Howard Kurtz of CNN's "RELIABLE SOURCES."


WOODRUFF: And checking the headlines now in our "Campaign News Daily," John Edwards has picked up the endorsement of an Oklahoma coaching legend. Former Oklahoma Sooners coach, Barry Switzer, taped a telephone message for Edwards that was sent to thousands of Oklahomans before the Super Bowl. Switzer won three national titles with the Sooners and a Super Bowl with the Dallas Cowboys.

Dennis Kucinich trails in the polls, but he could make his strongest showing yet this weekend in the state of Maine. The Green Party has a strong following in Maine, and Kucinich has encouraged Greens to become Democrats and to vote for him in Sunday's caucuses. Kucinich is also running TV ads there. And a state official says he is better organized in Maine than is John Edwards.

Howard Dean says that while the FCC has a role in preserving decency on the airwaves, the investigation of the Super Bowl halftime show is "silly." Dean says his former occupation may influence how he views the incident involving singer Janet Jackson.


DEAN: Probably affected in some way by the fact that I'm a doctor. So it's not exactly an unusual phenomenon for me. I don't find it terribly, terribly shocking. Relative to some of the things you can find on standard cable television without, you know, buying, you know, movies or anything like that.


WOODRUFF: Reminding everybody of his former job as a family physician.

Well, voters and caucus-goers making their opinions known today, and not with just their votes. They're also talking to our pollsters. Coming up, what early exit polling is saying about what is on voters' minds.

Later, I'll ask Republican National Party chairman, Ed Gillespie, for his thoughts on this third major day of the Democratic campaign calendar.



ANNOUNCER: The Palmetto State showdown.

EDWARDS: I think the South Carolina primary is a head-to-head contest on who can compete in the South.

ANNOUNCER: Seven states in today's spotlight, but only one will gauge the mood of the south.

LIEBERMAN: You're the world's greatest grandmother.

ANNOUNCER: Three days with Joe.

LIEBERMAN: Every time I speak to an audience or meet a person personally, it's an opportunity to make my case.

ANNOUNCER: We'll go behind the scene on the campaign trail with Senator Lieberman.

Life's no picnic on the road to the White House.

KERRY: I'm hungry, got to eat. Fuel for the campaign.

ANNOUNCER: Forget the fine dining, we'll take a taste of fast food on the trail. Now, live from CNN election headquarters in Atlanta, JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS.


WOODRUFF: Welcome back to this special edition of INSIDE POLITICS. we are now just three hours away from the first poll closings on the seven-state primary and caucus day, that is, well, choose your adjective, big, important, make or break, all of them apply. Right now we are getting early information from our exit polling. And learning more about which -- who's voting and what is on the minds of those voters. Here again, our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider. Bill, what are you seeing?

SCHNEIDER: What we're seeing on the minds of the voters is, in a word, the economy. Voters from South Carolina told us the top issue that was of concern to them, determining their vote is the economy and jobs. Almost half cited that. 21 percent health care, Iraq fairly low. By the way, we did exit polls in all five primary states and the economy and jobs was the top issue to Democrats in every one of those states.

Now, why? Well, take a look at this. How is your family's financial situation doing? Better, the same or worse. Half, 49 percent said, in South Carolina, their family's financial situation has deteriorated over last four years. Which is the reason why the economy is the top issue. Now, these are voters who made up their minds very late in this process.

You'll notice that 17 percent said they didn't make up their minds how to vote until today. Another 14 percent said just in the last three days. That means almost 1/3 of the voters made up their minds in the last few days. That shows exactly why this race is so volatile. And you see here that almost half the voters in South Carolina were African American. 54 percent white, 45 percent African American. A very heavy vote. The first state in which African Americans represent a significant constituency.

WOODRUFF: Bill Schneider, we thank you for that. And I know those numbers are going to continue to come in and you're going to take a look at them in the hours to come. Thank you very much.

Front-runner John Kerry is refusing to make any predictions about the results of today's contest. Kerry told reporters today that he is running a national campaign, and he says he does not need to win in Oklahoma and South Carolina, the two states where he did not lead in the pre-primary polls. Kerry and Howard Dean both are in Washington state right now, gearing up for caucuses there on Saturday. There's word that Dean will give a major policy speech tomorrow in Seattle.

Wesley Clark played to his strengths in Oklahoma today. The retired general spokes to military veterans in the state. He's hoping for his first primary win.

Both John Edwards and Al Sharpton are spending this day in South Carolina. One hope for a win there, the other hoping at least to bolster his clout. You might call it that. Let's check in with CNN's Bob Franken in Columbia, South Carolina. Hello, again, Bob. BOB FRANKEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: South Carolina is such an interesting story because it has such an interesting leading man. The man leading by all of the polls is John Edwards. He's expected to lead here. He, after all, was born in the state, he is the senator from North Carolina. He is somebody who has been considered the favorite since just about the beginning here in South Carolina. This is the must-win state for him.

But he has to worry about John Kerry. John Kerry is giving him a bit of a fight. If there was a surprise upset that could be fatal to the Edwards' campaign and the man that everybody is looking at is Al Sharpton. It was pointed out just a moment ago just how strong the African American vote is in South Carolina.

This is the first test of the appeal of the candidates to African American voters and Sharpton could be the spoiler for one of the candidates, depending on how those votes are cast. It's an interesting state. It's something of a microcosm. It's a test of southern strategies and it's going to be an extremely important factor in determining how the rest of this race is going to go.

WOODRUFF: Very quickly, yesterday you were in Charleston for the last few days. Today, you're in Columbia. Any sense of just how much interest there is on the part of the voters?

FRANKEN: It's really fascinating. When you come into Columbia you see a huge banner touting the fact that this is the day of the election. I think the people of South Carolina are enjoying the national attention.

WOODRUFF: OK. Well, we're giving it to them. Bob Franken, thanks very much at the CNN Election Express.

Well, at this stage of the primary contest the contests are coming fast and furious. That's the way the Democrats wanted it. Candidates can't afford to live in the moment. They have to look ahead. On Saturday Michigan Democrats will decide who gets the biggest single prize yet. 128 delegates up for grab there. Let's talk about Michigan and the stakes with a veteran Michigan Democratic congressman. He is John Dingell. Congressman Dingell, first of all, is it your sense that the polls are right, they're showing a big lead for Senator John Kerry in your state? What do you feel?

REP. JOHN DINGELL (D), MICHIGAN: I think Kerry is doing very well. I think it's too early to predict. And one of the reasons I find that so is that Michigan is a caucus state. Caucuses tend to be very peculiar and tend to defy good prediction or a polling which will give you a hard figure as to how the vote will come.

WOODRUFF: Well, if you factor in the caucuses, the fact that you say that it's a different method of voting, that you're going to have diehard Democrats coming out. The fact that John Kerry has the endorsement of the governor, he's got some labor unions with him. How will all of this help to shape the results, do you think?

DINGELL: Well, all of this is going to be helpful. The governor's very much liked and respected. And her endorsement of Kerry is going to be helpful. As is the endorsement of some of the unions which have done so, and other prominent Democrats.

WOODRUFF: Congressman Dingell, what about the fact that Michigan is coming so quickly after the seven states voting that are voting tonight, today, the fact they've only got what, five days, four days in between today and Saturday? What effect do you think that has?

DINGELL: Well, it goes, I think, Judy, to the question of momentum. As you know, momentum seems to be something which not only the politicians like but which, in fact, seems to have an impact upon races. And certainly it has had so apparently in the case of Mr. Kerry who has done very well following both Iowa and New Hampshire. And if he does very well in the states which are now having elections, I think you will see that it will have an impact on Michigan.

WOODRUFF: John Dingell, you understand the labor force if you will, in the state of Michigan. Howard Dean was endorsed by a number of major unions, we're told he's meeting with those union leaders on Thursday of this week. What is your sense that it's going to take for those unions to stay with him, assuming he does not win a state tonight?

DINGELL: There's one thing you have to understand about my friends in the trade union movement. Their word given is good. They will stand on their word regardless of cost. It's a part of their way of life and their belief. So they will stand with him. You have need have no fear. He has the support of two very large unions in the area of service, SCIU and I think, AFTRA (ph).

He does not have some of the other unions which are staying out, for example, UAW, Building Trades and Teamsters. Those are also important unions but the fact that he has major unions supporting him, indicates to me that he will do very well because they will work to turn them -- to turn their members out. Now, the same thing will be true for Mr. Kerry who has, for example, the teachers and other unions which are backing him.

WOODRUFF: Do you expect -- I realize you don't speak for the UAW, but based on what you know, do you expect the UAW to weigh in here and what about the Teamsters? They were with Dick Gephardt, they're meeting with John Edwards this week. Any expectation there?

DINGELL: Well, the question is will that happen in time for it to impact the primary or the caucuses that will take place. My judgment is, first of all, there's not enough time for that to have much impact. Second of all, that probably the unions will recognize that there isn't enough time for that to have an impact. Of course, it's impossible to tell you for sure. My personal expectation is that unions not now involved in endorsement will probably stay out.

WOODRUFF: All right. Representative John Dingell, long-time distinguished member of the House of Representatives. Great to see you. We appreciate your joining us, making it sound as if it may well be a Kerry-Dean showdown. But we'll see, we never want to presume.

DINGELL: Judy, thank you as always.

WOODRUFF: Thank you very much. Great to see you. We appreciate it.

Well, the Democrats are taking up a lot of the political spotlight these days. Of course, coming up, a little equal time. I'm going to ask Republican party chairman Ed Gillespie for his assessment of the Democrat road show.

We'll also recap a three-day stretch inside Joe Lieberman's presidential campaign.

And hear some advice, for those of you trying to stay on a diet, don't run for president. Stay tuned and see why.



WOODRUFF: For the last few moths, Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie has shadowed the Democratic hopefuls on the campaign trial, critiquing their views and offering a vigorous defense of President Bush. Ed Gillespie is with me now from Columbia, South Carolina.

Ed, good to see you standing in front of the CNN Election Express.

ED GILLESPIE, RNC CHAIRMAN: Good to see you, too, Judy. Thanks for having me on.

WOODRUFF: Ed Gillespie, first of all, these polls in the last few weeks, I believe there are three of them now, two "Newsweek" and one Gallup/CNN/ "USA Today" showing John Kerry coming out ahead of President Bush.

But even more of interest, the president's approval rating slipping below 50 percent for the first time. How concerned are you about that?

GILLESPIE: Well look, you'd always rather be up than down. But we said a long time ago, as you know, Judy, Matthew Dowd specifically, the pollster for the Republican National Committee and Bush/Cheney reelection campaign said that, you know, as this moved forward we were going to see times where the president was behind the potential nominee or a potential nominee.

And he'll be up. We'll be up, we'll be down. We've always said this is going to be a close contest, this is going to be a very vigorous campaign year. At the end of the day, the president's going to prevail.

But we'll be up and down throughout the course of the year, probably somewhere inside a an eight point-band, I suspect, between now and November. WOODRUFF: Do you now assume that John Kerry will be the Democrat nominee?

GILLESPIE: I don't assume that. You know, I've been in a lot campaigns. I think we have to be careful. The voters have a right to speak here and that's the way the process works.

Clearly he has no momentum. He won Iowa, won New Hampshire. But there are a lot of other states where the Democratic primary voters have yet to cast a vote and I think we ought to respect their process, let them decide who the nominee is.

We'll be prepared regardless of who the nominee is to campaign on behalf of the president and his positive agenda and the results that he's been able to get done.

WOODRUFF: Well we certainly want to wait and let the voters speak as well.

If the nominee were John Kerry, though, would it be hard to criticize him on national security grounds, given his military background?

GILLESPIE: Well, look, you know, I said last week that Senator Kerry's service in our military is honorable -- and it is, Judy. There's no doubt about that.

But if you look at his record and -- his long record in the United States Senate, it is a consistent record of voting to advocate policies that would weaken our national security. Votes against important weapon systems that helped us win the first Gulf War and prevailing the war against terror. Votes to cut $1.5 billion or supported a $1.5 billion cut in our intelligence funding when we most needed it, 1995.

A $300 million cut per year over five years at a time when terrorists were attacking the Kobar Towers, at a time when terrorists were attacking our embassies in east Africa, at a time when terrorist were attacking the USS Cole.

His policy judgment is where he's wrong. And we're obviously going to talk about that, if he's the nominee. And talk about the president's -- his approach to national security, which is very different.

WOODRUFF: Well your counterpart at the Democratic National Committee is already talking about how he looks forward to having a decorated war veteran like Senator Kerry, if he were the nominee, opposite a president who served in the National Guard. What do you say to Terry McAuliffe?

GILLESPIE: Look, Terry McAuliffe unfortunately has become the John Wilkes Booth of presidential character assassination.

You know, what I just said, Judy, Terry McAuliffe also said that I questioned Senator Kerry's patriotism and I distorted his record. The votes I just cited for you are documentable in the congressional record and off the Senate.

And the votes that I have cited that Senator Kerry has cast are easy to show where he cast those votes. That's nature of political discourse. And I honor his commitment and his patriotism and his service in our military.

Terry McAuliffe is flat, dead wrong...


GILLESPIE: He's slanderist when he says the president was AWOL. the president served honorably in the National Guard. And he's also wrong to say that National Guardsmen are not members of our military. They are and they serve honorably in our military.

WOODRUFF: Well just very quickly on this allegation about the president being AWOL. Is this something that can be put to rest once and for all with the facts, or is there always going to be some ambiguity there?

GILLESPIE: There is no ambiguity, Judy. The president was honorably discharged from the National Guard. He served his time, made his commitment in terms of the service points -- and he fought -- he served in a very dangerous area which is fighter jets.

I'm not saying that that is -- I mean -- it is a -- there's a risk to flying a fighter jet, is what I'm saying. And his service to the National Guard is honorable. And Terry McAuliffe is just wrong about this. And it is a shame to see this kind of -- it's a shame to see Terry stoop to these kind of attacks, which are demonstrably wrong.

And what I said is demonstrably true. The record and votes that I cited on behalf of Senator Kerry are easy to cite and easy to check. President Bush's record of honorable discharge from the National Guard is also just as easy to check. And this kind of political discourse is -- you know, it's reprehensible. It really is.

WOODRUFF: All right, well we're going to have to leave it there. But we did want to let Ed Gillespie weigh in on all this. Ed Gillespie, with us today from Columbia, South Carolina. Good to see you, thanks very much. We appreciate it.

GILLESPIE: Thank you, Judy. Appreciate it.

WOODRUFF: He is a man on a mission. When we come back, Senator Joe Lieberman is not letting the polls or the pundits get him down, at least in public. We'll take a closer look of the grueling campaign schedule of this Democrat from Connecticut.



SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN (D-CT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: ... media, that they focus on the first one or two or three. And early on before very much of the country had has a chance to vote.

RAMAN: Lieberman says he is far from giving up. Under the shadow of Dean at this town hall meeting in Oklahoma, he spout as favorite line.

LIEBERMAN: I only took one position on the war against Saddam, I believe we're a lot safe we're that brutal dictator in prison rather than in power.

RAMAN: And day later at a diner in Oklahoma City, his sister joins him on the trail.

RIETTA LIEBERMAN, SISTER: That's why we feel like this will be a place where the momentum will continue.

RAMAN: The menu says to shake it up, but for Lieberman, consistency is the key.

LIEBERMAN: I'm not going to change my stripes. I am a moderate Democrat. I can't say that I don't have disappointments and I haven't had them in campaign. I sure have. But I get up every day with a sense of anticipation. And appreciation that I have another day. And I love people.

RAMAN: It is the people Lieberman is banking his victory on.

LIEBERMAN: So you're the world's greatest grandmother.

RAMAN: Campaign starts to revolve around retail politics, shaking hands and, in a time of political divide, trying to sell the moderate message.

LIEBERMAN: I want to work as hard as I can to get every vote. And so every time I speak to an audience or meet a person personally, it's an opportunity to make my case.

RAMAN: And despite the endless hours, the constant travel, and the relentless campaigning for Lieberman, a wish fulfilled.

LIEBERMAN: Whenever I say I'm run for president, it goes beyond by dreams. My wife gets angry because she says it sounds like I don't think I'm ready for it and I say no, quite the contrary. It is my beyond my dreams, what dreamed of, running for president. But after 30 years in public office, I'm ready for it.

RAMAN: Whether he'll get it now in the hands of the voters.

Aneesh Raman, CNN, Wilmington, Delaware.


WOODRUFF: Joe Lieberman.

And straight ahead, it's not exactly the Atkins' diet. Healthy eating habits a pair to be the first sacrifice when candidates hit the campaign trail. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Did you ever wondered what fuels a presidential campaign? Well, if the current race is any indication, the political diet is heavy on speeches and sugary snacks and light on nutrition and almost anything considered healthy.


KERRY: I'm hungry. Got to eat. Fuel for the campaign.

WOODRUFF (voice-over): Take it from us, the road to the White House is paved with fatty carbs and Diet Coke.


WOODRUFF: Want proof? Look to the master.

This year, John Edwards wins the Bill Clinton prize for junk food consumption. Who knew? Long jogs help the senator keep the pounds off.

EDWARDS: You can't film me going up this big hill.

WOODRUFF: On the other side of the diet divide...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're a little bit mighty.


WOODRUFF: ... vegan Dennis Kucinich who relies on healthy staples like hummus and oatmeal.

KERRY: So who said I don't have the matzoh balls to be here today?

WOODRUFF: He talks a good game but willowy John Kerry doesn't seem to eat much of anything. A granola bar here and there, water. He works out when he can but not as much as he like.

KERRY: Not quite ready to be flipped over.

WOODRUFF: Dr. Dean finds time for breakfast, though he's no stranger to the midday nosh. And, sure, Al Sharpton still files his plate with artery-clogging fare, but he's come a long way.


WOODRUFF: As for me, I'm off to is have a big bag of potato chips and a candy bar.

That's it for INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Judy Woodruff. Stay tuned to CNN tonight for the most up to date news on the seven-state Democratic showdown. Our complete coverage starts at 7 p.m. Eastern. Be with us. "CROSSFIRE" starts right now.


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