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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Obama Wins North Carolina Primary; Indiana Still Too Close to Call

Aired May 6, 2008 - 23:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Our coverage continues for the next hour right here on CNN.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR, THE SITUATION ROOM: We want to welcome in our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer reporting from the CNN Election Center.

This is what we know right now. Barack Obama has won the North Carolina primary. He won that primary decisively. We've known now for the past several hours that Barack Obama has carried North Carolina.

Indiana, a very different story right now; 86 percent of the precincts have reported. Hillary Clinton is ahead 52 percent to 48 percent. That margin has narrowed over the past couple hours. She still remains ahead, but it's not over with by any means yet.

In fact, we can only say at this point that this contest is still too close to call precisely because one county, a large county, the second largest county in Indiana, has not yet been able to come up with its tally. This is a county that Barack Obama is expected to do rather well in.

Let's go over to John King. He's watching the story for us. It's such a dramatic story right now. It's Lake County right in the northwestern part of the state. So far, 0 percent of that county has reported its votes.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And we're waiting for that count, Wolf. And while we're waiting for it, you know that 86 percent of the vote in, Hillary Clinton holding on to a lead; just under 40,000 votes. So it would have to be a impressive turnarounds for Barack Obama up here but it is mathematically possible depending on the turnout.

It's so hard to make a prediction because we know nothing. Sometimes you get 10 percent of the vote; you can see the early breakdown. You can see if maybe it carries out.

Why does this matter so much? Lake County is about 8 percent of the state population but in a Democratic primary, it tends to be a little bit more than that because it is a Democratic county. It has a significant African-American population and as you noted, Chicago is right up here; Barack Obama's home base.

So this is a place where Barack Obama is well known, can count on his traditional base among African-Americans. There are also some more upscale Chicago suburbs over this way. Those are voters who have been with Barack Obama in the past.

Now, I've been talking to people in the Clinton campaign, they think they at least held their own in this county. And they think they'll be fine, but we don't know that until we see the results come in.

One of the problems there, we know for a fact there are some 11,000 in change in absentee ballots. They said they were counting those votes. Initially we were told they wouldn't release any results until that count was done. And that it would be probably midnight.

Now there are some indications partial results may start to come in in the next few minutes. But because of the conflicting information over the hours, we will wait to see what happens.

What else has happened in Indiana tonight? As you can see by the sweep of it, Hillary Clinton, once again, winning in small town, Middle America, if you will. Rural areas, not huge population centers. In the places -- we have college towns, Bloomington, South Bend.

Barack Obama doing well in places where he has done well in the past before. And in the few places in the state of Indiana where you do have an African-American base in the city, including the largest county, Marion County which is the home of Indianapolis; Barack Obama winning quite handily here.

The challenge for Obama, Wolf, you see this is 98 percent, he is winning hugely here; 67 percent to 33 percent. But the vote is almost counted. If those margins continue, Barack Obama will pick up some votes there, narrow the margin a little bit more. But if he is to have this dramatic overtaking, he will need to win up here by somewhere in the ball park of 58 percent to 60 percent of the remaining vote coming in.

Most of the outstanding vote in the state is right up here. A little bit of a percentage, say down here in Bloomington; you see they're only at 53 percent. But, again, look at the number of votes; a much more modest number of votes.

So some other places for Obama to pick up a small amount of votes, but if he's going to have a dramatic comeback, it will be up here. But if nothing else, you'll have a close margin. And remember, Democratic Party rules, the delegates are split proportionately.

There's a congressional district down here it looks like Barack Obama will carry. The one up here, the population centers are up here, so he will most likely carry the second district which is right in this area here. We have to wait out here.

Hillary Clinton doing very well in the rural districts down here; but roughly a split in the delegates most likely to be what we see out of Indiana. BLITZER: It's interesting that Barack Obama, when he spoke to his supporters in Raleigh, North Carolina, he actually congratulated Hillary Clinton. He said it appeared she was going to win in Indiana. And when she just spoke moments ago -- we showed that to our viewers -- she suggested she was going to win in Indiana as well.

But we are not ready to say at this point she's going to win because we're waiting for Lake County to come in and we'll see what the results are. This is a county, as you point out, that is expected to do very well for him. The question is, can Lake County and the other remaining counties, the other remaining votes that have not yet been counted overtake that small lead that she currently has.

KING: Absolutely right. And again, if you look at this area, Hillary Clinton has done well in all the surrounding counties. So looking at the map, you'd say why won't she win here? This county is different from these counties because of the size of its African- American population. Again, it is the closest in proximity to Chicago.

The Clinton people say they believe they've at least held their own there, Wolf, but we need the numbers to know the math.

BLITZER: All right. We'll keep watching and our viewers can watch online as well at cnnpolitics.com. They can go county by county in Indiana. They can also take a look and see what happened in North Carolina.

I want to go back to Anderson Cooper. Anderson, she made it clear in her remarks, she's continuing on to West Virginia; next week and beyond. She says she's going all the way to the White House. So it doesn't look like she's ready to do anything but continue this fight.

COOPER: Absolutely, full steam ahead was the term that she used and clearly the money is front and center, an appeal very early on in her speech for money, for donations online.

I want to check in with Suzanne Malveaux who is following the Clinton campaign, who is there where Hillary Clinton spoke in Indianapolis. Suzanne, what's the latest?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, insiders I've been speaking with this evening really described this as a situation where Bill and Hillary Clinton are so convinced that she would be the better candidate against John McCain that they can't fathom possibly giving up despite the numbers.

One of the things that she's successfully done recently is that she has re-branded herself from the inevitable front-runner to a fighter. The last thing that she wants to do, close associates of the Clintons, is to quit. They feel that this campaign has gone from the control booth to the streets and that this is a strategy that is working.

But one of the main things looking forward, going forward now is really Indiana was a critical win because they need the money. A financial windfall that they believe happened after Pennsylvania is the kind of thing that they are looking for in the days ahead.

They are confident about West Virginia, Kentucky and Puerto Rico. But they don't have the money that they believe they can adequately compete against Barack Obama and the kind of resources that he has. So it's not surprising tomorrow that we'll see Hillary Clinton and as well as her daughter, Chelsea in Washington at a fund-raiser before a group of women asking for those dollars.

COOPER: I want to bring in Clinton supporter, Lanny Davis, who has been with us for the last hour or so. Lanny, game this out for me. How do you see your candidate winning at this point?

LANNY DAVIS, CLINTON SUPPORTER: Let me summarize The Argument, capital T, capital A. First of all HillaryClinton.com, after Pennsylvania, $10 million came in the next day. We're going to expect that kind of outpouring. So here's the argument, Anderson.

COOPER: Even with the race that close in Indiana, you think there will be that kind of an outpouring?

DAVIS: The Indiana contest was supposed to be won by Barack Obama. 20 percent of Indiana Democrats are in the Chicago media market. He outspent us 2-1 and take a look at the map. This is a great victory for Hillary Clinton.

Why didn't Obama win Indiana? I don't have an answer other than he's not able to connect with rural voters, certainly working class voters and in states with Latino population -- Latino voters, the Democratic Party base.

Why is he dead even in Massachusetts? Why against John McCain as we speak? Of course that's going to change.

COOPER: So game it out for me --

DAVIS: Our argument is that we are going to continue through the convention. The new number that everybody should remember is 2,209. That number is what it takes to win the convention if all 50 states count and if 2.5 million voters who went to the polls in Michigan and Florida are not disenfranchised.

Until and unless we can get to that number, or until and unless the rules committee prevent Michigan and Florida from being seated, which is to write off the general election with those two states being furious, we're going to continue to fight.

And I am proud of Hillary Clinton and her economic message. And one half empty, one half full -- to hear anybody say that she was down and that passion and that enthusiasm and that fighting spirit certainly energized me. But I guess spin can be half empty or half full glasses depending on how you look at it.

COOPER: Gloria, the number, 2,209. For our viewers who haven't been following this as closely, why is Lanny using that number? How is that different from the number that has been used up to now?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, the number we've been using is 2,025. And the new number, the new Clinton metric is the number that includes the delegates --

COOPER: From Michigan and Florida

BORGER: -- from Florida and Michigan. Right.

And, you know, there is some talk tonight that perhaps the Obama campaign is trying to work with the Clinton campaign to figure out a way to come up with some compromise on these delegates and maybe you could do that as a way to get to the end of this. But I don't know where that is right now.

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Anderson, with all respect to Lanny, there is no new number. The Democratic National Committee has said a number that is 2,025. Now, they may want to move the goal post or whatever, but the number is 2,025. Now, until the DNC makes some other kind of change, and then that changes, we stick with 2025.

COOPER: It is up to the rules committee.

MARTIN: It is up to the rules committee. And also, the thing is that -- look, Lanny has to also admit that Clinton loyalists were behind penalizing Michigan and Florida. And also you have people like Harold Ickes, we have Terry McAuliffe, people who have been on the record who have been saying in the past -- don't move your primary date, okay? 48 states followed the rules. I understand why --

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Let me add one point here; a slight detour. What's going on now in Lake County, Indiana, is a disgrace. To withhold the entire vote from a county because you want to get it all in first suggests a very suspicious way of counting votes. This is a close election.

In the old days in Chicago and Texas, they used to hold back votes, decide how many votes they needed and then come up with it. This is not the regular process.

What Indiana has done throughout this election is very questionable. Having their polls open only until 6:00 p.m. is done in very few states. This very suspicious election law which was just upheld 6-3 by the Supreme Court. I just think it is worth commenting on the process here because this is not normal and it's not appropriate.

BORGER: And Anderson, I just got an e-mail from someone in the Clinton campaign because I said this is the new metric for Florida and Michigan. And he said and reminded me, it's not a new metric, that we in the Clinton campaign have long-believed that Florida and Michigan should be included.

MARTIN: Frankly, the DNC sets the rules. The DNC does -- so frankly what Phil Singer has to say and the rest of them have to say means nothing. The DNC sets the rules. COOPER: This conversation continues. It also continues online, cnnpolitics.com. We have to take a short break. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Indiana still remains at play right now; 87 percent of the precincts have reported. Hillary Clinton has a slight advantage over Barack Obama; 52 percent to 48 percent. But Lake County in the northwestern part of the state has still not reported any of its votes. This is the county closest to Chicago, closest to Illinois. It's expected to do rather well for Barack Obama.

As a result, we are not ready at this point to project a winner in Indiana. It's simply too close to call, even though with 87 percent of the precincts she remains ahead.

Let's walk over to Soledad O'Brien and Bill Schneider. They're getting more information on exit polls. We can take a look and see what's happened in some of the more recent states -- Soledad.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's a good time to ask the question, why is this so close? Why, especially when you consider that nearby states of Ohio and Pennsylvania were not close as at all and finished a lot earlier; we were able to call them.

So Bill, why don't you take a look at that question for us? Why is it so close?

BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A lot of people say it's because Indiana is next to Illinois and that's Obama's home state. But we found one group, which is delivering many more votes for Barack Obama than in Pennsylvania and Ohio, and that is white women.

Take a look. In Ohio, Obama got 31 percent of white women. In Pennsylvania, 32 percent of white women voted for Obama. In Indiana, he's doing substantially better among white women voters, 39 percent. This is not a small group.

Most of them are still voting for Hillary Clinton, but 39 percent is a big improvement over his earlier showing. This is not an insignificant group, about 45 percent of the voters in every one of those states.

O'BRIEN: What kind of role does the fact that Chicago's so close; there media market is right there essentially?

SCHNEIDER: The Chicago media market is seen by about 20 percent of the Democratic voters, and they see Obama as a local. But I think something else is happening here.

I think Hillary Clinton's strategy of becoming a fighter, a populist, the Annie Oakley of the campaign, the hunter, fighter, drinker, I think it has a cost. I think it may have turned off some Democratic white women in Indiana.

O'BRIEN: So it's gaining for her some voters -- SCHNEIDER: But it appears to be losing some of the female voters that she had in the earlier states.

O'BRIEN: And I think, Wolf, it's fair to say, this is going to be a very critical number to watch as we set around to try to figure out what exactly the final number is going to be.

BLITZER: And we're going to be figuring out these numbers for a while. We'll look at them very, very closely. Guys, thanks you very much.

I want to show our viewers the nature of the popular votes in all the contests that have occurred so far and how divided the Democrats are between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

We've had three scenarios now to take a look at the popular votes in the primaries and the caucuses. And I want to walk through and show you how close these popular votes are.

Popular vote scenario number one, only those states that have had primaries and we're including the numbers from today's primaries in both Indiana and North Carolina. If you just take a look at the primary states, Barack Obama has 49 percent to Hillary Clinton's 48 percent; 15,500,000 for Barack Obama; almost 15 million for Hillary Clinton. That's a difference of under 500,000 if you just take a look at the primaries.

Now, if you look at the primaries and then we estimate the caucuses, he's done a lot better in the caucuses than she has. And some of those caucuses don't even release the actual numbers; we have to estimate what they are. But once again, Obama has more than Hillary Clinton, 49 percent to 47 percent, about 700,000 vote difference.

Now, in these two scenarios -- scenario number one and scenario number two -- we do not include those contests in either Michigan or Florida where the DNC said they don't count because they moved up their primaries to January against party rules.

We do have a scenario number three, which does include Florida. The reason we are including Florida, because all of the candidates had their names at least on the ballot. They weren't allowed to compete. They didn't compete there. They didn't go out and campaign. But the names were on the ballot.

In Michigan, only Hillary Clinton's name was on the ballot. Barack Obama's name was not on the ballot. So we're not including Michigan.

But if you take a look at the primaries and the caucuses, plus Florida, you see he's still ahead 49 percent for Obama, 47 percent for Clinton. Maybe 500,000 vote difference. So, in all three of these scenarios, he has more votes, but it's still very close and it shows you how tight this contest is as it moves forward next Tuesday in West Virginia. The contest not over with yet and Hillary Clinton says she's continuing her battle for this Democratic presidential nomination. She also says she wants to make sure they find a way to include those delegates from both Michigan and Florida. We'll see if they can do something about that.

Anderson Cooper, it's a fiercely fought battle and it's not over yet.

COOPER: Not by a long shot. Carl Bernstein, this thing is going on and on.

CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN Contributor: This is not going to be a quiet exit by Hillary Clinton as one of her advocates said tonight. And that's indicated by what we're hearing from Lanny Davis. But the crucial thing and the reason people around here are so concerned and see the doors shutting is that she needed to pick up movement from the superdelegates and the Democratic Party machinery tonight who would see her as changing the dynamic toward her.

Instead, the opposite has happened. And now the party, in the view of people close to Hillary Clinton who are realistic, the party they fear is going to coalesce around the Obama campaign in the next couple of weeks. And that the rules committee and others are going to look for a way to make sure he's the nominee; unless, again, something, a truck like Reverend Wright, hits Obama again.

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I'm not sure I agree, Carl, about not going quietly or graciously into that good night when that moment comes. I do think there are people around her who are going to fight bitterly right to the end. And I think Lanny has some of that spirit that a lot of people have around her. And good for him.

But I sense that in her speech tonight, and we heard it in other speeches, when the moment comes, I think she's going to be a lot more gracious than anything we've seen so far.

COOPER: But no doubt that moment is a long way away according to Clinton folks.

GERGEN: What's that?

COOPER: That moment is a long way away according to Clinton folks.

GERGEN: I think they think it's coming in June. I don't think it's that far away, though. I certainly don't think they think it's in August. Everything points to that.

I must say also something else. It is important to remember tonight and we've been talking about Indiana. If you go back and look, we spent a whole evening talking about massive margins she ran up in Pennsylvania. She won in Pennsylvania by maybe 212,000 votes. Tonight in North Carolina, he's got a margin of around 216,000. He made it up tonight. So North Carolina turned out to be a much bigger triumph than any of us, I think, foresaw.

COOPER: Alex Castellanos, you were saying it could have been a very different night.

ALEX CASTELLANOS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: It could have been a very big night for her because she would have had the political leverage to make two arguments: one is politics; the other one is process. She could have said, you know, Barack Obama is a flawed candidate, he can't get working class votes in a general election and we can't win with a candidate like that. She can't do that now.

She could have made the process argument, count Florida, count Michigan. She would have had the political leverage to do that with two wins tonight and that's what she didn't get. But one thing you have to admire about the Clintons they don't let a little thing like losing stop them from running for president.

COOPER: Right now, we should just point out, she seems to be winning in Indiana. We'll see where the votes end out at the end of the evening.

We got to take a short break. We'll have more coming up. Stay tuned.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: And welcome back to our continuing coverage. We're watching this very close race in the state of Indiana; right now 87 percent of the precincts reporting. Hillary Clinton in the lead 52 percent, Barack Obama with 48 percent. But we've not heard from that one county. Jeff Toobin, you were saying this is highly unusual.

TOOBIN: This is totally unusual. It's outrageous. I mean, what's going on here. As Wolf was just pointing out a few minutes ago, Lake County is right next to Chicago and this is right out of the old days of Chicago politics when things were openly corrupt. They would hold back certain precincts, certain districts, decide how many votes they needed to put their candidate over the top and somehow find that many votes.

Now, I'm not suggesting that's going on in Lake County. But by withholding that many votes, not reporting partial returns, which is what counties normally do, they raise the suspicion.

COOPER: John King, are the other counties in Indiana -- have they been reporting partially?

KING: Absolutely. There was one rural county, Union County I think it was, a rural county right on the Ohio border that all of a sudden came in at once. But it's such a tiny population -- about as many people as we have right here -- voted in that county tonight in the Democratic primary.

All the other counties have been coming in, initial results, 1 percent, 2 percent, then 20 percent, 30 percent. Sometimes you do get a big dump. They have results come in and you might get 20 percent or 30 percent or 40 percent at one time and then the rest in little snippets throughout the night. So it is highly unusual.

If you actually look over at the map now, you still see one other tiny county, again, right along the Ohio border, but it is a very rural county, a small percentage of the vote. Not a more urban and suburban county like Lake County which is right up there by Chicago.

COOPER: The fact that it is near Chicago kind of cuts both ways. I mean, on the one hand, yes, it is in the Chicago media market so a lot more folks there know about Barack Obama, but on the same end, they've been playing Reverend Wright over and over and over again in the Chicago media markets so that filters down as well.

KING: They hear the good and the bad about Barack Obama. The one thing they do is to hear a lot about Barack Obama. So he's not a newcomer. In many of the places where he has not done as well as Senator Clinton, his campaign's rationale has been everybody knows the Clinton brand, I'm the new guy.

That is not the case in Indiana. They know very well who he is, specifically in the northwest corner of Indiana. But it's not a slam dunk for Barack Obama. It's a county which he's favored.

The city of Gary has a very high percentage of African-Americans. The county itself has a significant percentage of African-Americans. There also used to be a thriving steel area; blue collar workers, many of them white union workers. The steel industry is nowhere near where it once was say 20 years ago, but there still is a blue collar community there.

There are places for Senator Clinton to get votes. The congressman who represents the district up there is a white Democrat, (inaudible). It is a Democratic area of the state, one of the few Democratic pockets in the state.

It favors Barack Obama, but he would have to do pretty overwhelming there; we're thinking somewhere in the 58 percent to 60 percent of the vote in that county to come back. Not impossible, Anderson, but pretty daunting math. Let's see what the reasons are -- I was just about to say excuses -- let's see what the reasons are, late tonight and tomorrow for why it's taking so long, but it's certainly curious.

COOPER: I'm curious to hear from our back panel, if we can.

David Gergen, Barack Obama moving forward. We heard tonight some different themes in his speeches; some different emphasis in his speech tonight. Does he re-brand himself now in a way or does he need to try to continue to reintroduce himself?

GERGEN: Anderson, my sense tonight was he found his voice again. There had been this sense that he was getting tired, he was getting wan, and didn't seem to have the energy for the race. It looked like there was even one story that said he was getting port of all things. I thought tonight, with the victory that he had, the size of victory, he was back on his game more and he is shifting clearly, as we discussed earlier, to setting his sights now on John McCain. COOPER: Is there a danger in that for him, Carl Bernstein? We're hearing from some folks in his campaign, over the last week or so, they wanted him to do smaller events because they felt it was almost too impersonal at some of these larger, bigger events.

BERNSTEIN: I think he feels that he can be himself again. And that's what we saw tonight. We saw himself at his best; we saw him both commanding a strategic and rhetorical tower, as it were, from which he's able to look out, see what's coming up, and now he can march downfield the way he wants to, and perhaps see some of these things that have sideswiped him on the way this time around.

GERGEN: He's going to lose now in a couple primaries. He's probably, very likely going to lose in West Virginia. And then he goes on next week to Kentucky and Oregon. He's got to win Oregon. That would be important but I --

BERNSTEIN: He's looking at superdelegates, too and wrapping them up.

GERGEN: I think the psychology of tonight is important, because it wasn't just a question whether this might be a game changer. For Hillary Clinton, it had to be a game changer. And I think the fact that it was not is going to change the psychology and there's going to be more and more push to go to the superdelegates.

COOPER: Lanny Davis is also joining us from Washington, a Hillary Clinton supporter. Lanny, what is the message now for the Clinton campaign to superdelegates? What is the argument you and others make to superdelegates for Hillary Clinton?

DAVIS: Number one, she's won the big states that Democrats have to win to win the presidency. And she's ahead in electoral votes it is you count big states versus Utah and Idaho, great Democratic states that Barack Obama won.

Number two, her message is resonating with voters.

And number three, we are delighted by the results tonight. With all due respect to David Gergen, the reference to the word "bitter" and me was a cheap shot. I am happy, not bitter. I am committed, not angry. And the Clinton supporters have passion. So do the Obama supporters.

But because we strongly believe in this candidate, who has connected with the American people, with working class people who are our base, no Democrat has ever been elected president that didn't have the base and right now Barack Obama has a question mark that he still hasn't answered.

So we're happy tonight, and I didn't see Chelsea crying, I saw Chelsea extremely happy. And the final emblematic moment to be on CNN tonight is to hear Bill Schneider describe a good showing where Hillary Clinton got 61 percent and Barack Obama got 39 percent of the women's vote and we actually talked about a change of 7 percent, which is statistically insignificant. And that is bad news for Hillary Clinton and good news for Barack.

This is really a sense of one-sidedness in interpreting these results, at least where I sit.

COOPER: David Gergen?

GERGEN: Lanny, with all due respect, I admire your passion. Where I thought you went across the line was in putting the onus on Barack Obama, that Ohio -- that Michigan and Florida got messed up. I do think it's unfair to Hillary Clinton, but I think to turn and say it was all Barack Obama's fault --

DAVIS: I didn't say that.

GERGEN: That's where --

COOPER: Lanny, you said your point.

GERGEN: That's where I felt that you were -- that was less than the gracious Lanny Davis I've known in the past.

COOPER: I've got to move on.

CASTELLANOS: I thought there was one interesting thing especially in Barack Obama's speech tonight, and that was the line that he said change begins in America from the bottom up. And that's been the secret of his campaign. He empowers people in the Democratic Party, lifts them up, makes you feel like this is the America that we can all be, achieve anything.

And that's all true when it comes to politics. I think the big challenge for Obama now is he believes just the opposite of that from what we've seen when it comes to government. He doesn't believe change starts with people; is it the same old Washington top down? And that's the big challenge, I think.

COOPER: From the Republicans' perspective, do you think John McCain wants to run against Hillary Clinton or against Barack Obama or do you think it doesn't matter?

CASTELLANOS: I think right now, you know, trying to -- pick our poison in a tough year. I would rather have neither. I think they're both tough candidates.

LESLIE SANCHEZ, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I'd say in a lot of the Republicans that I've talked to -- obviously Hillary Clinton would be somebody that we want to run against.

COOPER: You thought McCain would want Barack Obama.

SANCHEZ: Increasingly, it's looking like Barack Obama and I think that's the reality in Republican circles of what they're preparing for. An issue oriented campaign against Barack Obama is very good, he's the most liberal senator in Congress right now. It's a good campaign for us. COOPER: We should point out, bottom line, this race is not over tonight in the state of Indiana. Right now, Hillary Clinton leads 52 percent, Barack Obama 48 percent. But again, we are waiting for this one county. John King, Do we have any sense of when this is going to come in?

KING: No, we've had conflicting reports, Anderson. That's what makes it so frustrating. There were 11,000 in change, roughly 11,300 absentee ballots. At one point, the local officials were saying we'll count those and we'll give you all the votes and that might not come until midnight. That would be 25 -- 24 minutes and 19 seconds from now.

Then they said well, we're counting the absentee ballots and perhaps we'll have partial results for you soon. That soon was quite some time ago so it hasn't been soon. So we're waiting and that's what makes it so frustrating.

It is a county where, if turnout is high, there are enough people there to change the math. Again, Barack Obama would have to do overwhelmingly good in that county. Is that possible given its proximity, given its demographics? It is mathematically possible if turnout is high given the demographics of the county, which is why we're waiting to call the state.

Clinton with a narrow margin right now. It would take a pretty overwhelming performance, but in the county most like that county is Marion County where Indianapolis is, and Barack Obama won about 65 percent, 66 percent of the vote.

COOPER: The clock is ticking. We'll continue to watch the math and watch the results come in. You can do that as well in cnnpolitics.com. You can watch it county by county in both Indiana and North Carolina on cnnpolitics.com

Our coverage continues. Also Larry King has a special edition of Larry King Live, starting at midnight Eastern if this goes on and on.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back to our coverage. We're at the CNN Election Center where we're watching what is happening in Indiana and North Carolina. In North Carolina, we know that Barack Obama has won that important primary, the largest contest remaining in all these contests; 98 percent of the vote is now in. A very impressive victory for Barack Obama; 56 percent to 42 percent for Hillary Clinton.

Let's take a look at the numbers in North Carolina right now; 868,968 for Barack Obama to 647,168 for Hillary Clinton. North Carolina decisively goes to Barack Obama.

In Indiana, it's still up in the air. We cannot yet project a winner, even though 88 percent, 88 percent of the precincts have reported. Hillary Clinton is ahead with 52 percent to Barack Obama's 48 percent. She has almost 575,000 votes to 536,000 approximately for Barack Obama; 12 percent of the precincts remaining -- or not yet reported. One of the counties, Lake County, the second largest county in the state, hasn't reported any votes yet.

I want to walk over to John King, who is looking at this story, because so much attention is appropriately being focused on Lake County in the northwestern parent of the state right now. The second largest county in Indiana, the home of Gary and Hammond, right on the border of Illinois and not far from Chicago.

And I guess a lot of people are asking this question, and I don't know if there's a good answer for it, but I'll ask it. Why haven't they at least given us some of the results in Lake County? The polls there closed hours and hours ago?

KING: You might say they have some explaining to do. They haven't given consistent answers, which is one of the problems. Let's look at Lake County, you see the proximity to Chicago. This is one of the reasons we're looking at this and waiting.

We can't call the state, because even though it would take an overwhelming performance here by Barack Obama to make up the gap, it is mathematically possible. So we do not want to call the state right now because we want to be cautious and count the votes.

Again, initially they said a little more than 11,000 absentee ballots and they wanted to count the absentee ballots. That would be down around midnight, then they would report the vote totals.

Then there were some indications that they would do what every other county in the state of Indiana has done and that is report the votes as they come in. For example let's look here at the largest county in Indiana, Marion County; it is now to 98 percent. They started with 1 percent, 2 percent, the votes trickle in. Barack Obama winning big in this one county.

Senator Clinton winning across the sweep of Indiana in most of the smaller rural counties; there is more population in Marion County where Indianapolis is, significant population up here. That's why we're waiting for it.

But there's only one other county out, Wolf, it's Union County right over here on the Ohio border. It's a very tiny, rural county. Unlikely to have much of an impact, unless and it's an unless worth stating, Lake County brings it so close that you're looking at a margin of several hundred votes; that a small county like this could make a difference. So we're waiting on Union County as well. Not unusual in a tiny, rural county, a largely Republican county, to have a slow reporting in a small rural community.

It is unusual to have such a delay in a community where you have a good-sized city up here. Let me punch that county to bring it back, where you have a good-sized city, you have an urban area, then you have some suburbs and some rural areas out here in the southern part.

It is most unusual. It has enough votes to change the state, which is why we need to be cautious. Again, conflicting information, first they said we'll count the absentees first, we'll give you all the votes at once. Then there were indications an hour ago, maybe we will report some partial results, but it is blank, as in white, which means we have zero results so far, which is why we need to wait.

And again we come to the state-wide number now and you see this margin right here. That has held pretty steady, just under 40,000 votes; I think that's around 38,000 votes. That has held pretty steady; pretty much through the 80 percent up to 88 percent.

So Senator Clinton is holding her margin so far. But with some votes out down here in the college town of Bloomington, at 33 percent of the vote out, Barack Obama doing well there. Not a huge number, Wolf, population wise. So that will help Barack Obama but it's not enough.

If he's going to overcome Senator Clinton, it has to be up here and there are a lot of questions about why this is taking so long and the questions are being asked inside the Clinton campaign because for one, the mayor of Gary, Indiana, is a huge Barack Obama supporter; very publicly a Barack Obama supporter. Someone who said on the record if there is going to be an upset in Indiana it would be anchored in his community. So that answers the question of the Clinton campaign.

BLITZER: Do we know, John, how many people are expected to vote in Lake County? Right now there's difference of about 40,000. And I wonder if we have any projection at all of the likely turnout of voters might be.

KING: That is why -- there it's starting to fill in right now as we speak, Wolf. The wonders of the wall; the data is starting to come in. So let's see what we're getting up here.

28 percent of the vote just came in at once. Now, that is highly unusual, maybe everyone asking all these questions, where are the votes? There's your thing right now. That's 28 percent of the vote, a little more than a quarter of the vote. Then you've got 27,000 plus 9,000; that's about 36,000 - 37,000 votes there, three more times that a little less of that to come in.

So there's a sizable amount of votes and if Barack Obama stays at 75 percent, guess what? If those numbers walk in, that is enough math, if he stays at that number. We have no idea which precincts are reporting, is that from city of Gary, is that a predominantly African- American vote? Or is it from down here in the more rural areas? We don't know the answers to those questions so don't take these initial numbers and make a leap.

BLITZER: Take a look, John, at the overall number with 91 percent of the precincts because we got that big jump in the vote, as we were speaking, from Lake County. It's now 51 percent for Hillary Clinton, 49 percent for Barack Obama.

Let's take a look at the actual numbers. Let's break it down from that pie chart right now and see what the difference is. It's narrowed once again, John, dramatically; 584,113 for Clinton - 564,323. It's down from about 40,000 votes now to 20,000 votes. The drama is continuing now. As we see in Lake County, about 25 percent of the vote in, and with that 25 percent, the gap has gone from 40,000 to 20,000 in the state.

KING: You see it right here, 20,000. That is the gap. 20,000 and now do you ask, is that surmountable? 20,000 is still a gap.

Let's start down here first. Barack Obama can make up some more votes here. Not the 20,000, but some of them. Major population center here in Marion County, up to 98 percent so he's not going to make up too much more. He can make up a little bit more if he holds his margin which brings us back up here the big spot here, as you know it just came in.

I'll just to pull it down so people can see at home the proximity to Chicago, which is one reason we anticipated Obama would do well. Another reason we anticipated that unlike the surrounding counties, which is largely white, there is a significant African-American portion here, in the county now with 28 percent. It all came in at once, it hasn't moved since.

If Barack Obama holds these numbers, and the -- this the 28 percent of the vote, if he holds this number right now, guess what? In that county, he will have enough votes to catch up to Senator Clinton. And the question will be in these other rural areas, with a little bit of the votes out, can she make up the difference?

Again, to be very careful, 28 percent came in all at once. We don't know, at this moment, from where in the county. Up here closest to Chicago is where you have the African-American population and Gary, down here, is more rural, more white. You can see Senator Clinton has done well.

So until we know, Wolf, precisely which precincts came in, we can't jump to any conclusions. But what we do know, looking at this number, 20,000 votes at 91 percent, and looking at this number, Barack Obama posting a 75 percent to 25 percent advantage early on, if that holds up, there are enough votes there to overcome Clinton's lead.

BLITZER: And it's clearly an amazing moment right now. If you're a Hillary Clinton supporter and you see that lead slipping away, you got to be really, really nervous as we focus in on the remaining what, almost 80 percent -- 70 percent of the vote that still is coming in from Lake County right now. If that margin were, as you say, to stay as it is, she might lose this state potentially. That's certainly possible.

KING: It is possible, and we should continue where we started hours ago being very careful and very conservative. This is why we count the votes and this why we wait.

If this happens and if this trend continues and if he overcomes Senator Clinton's lead, you can be certain there will be a number of questions from Clinton supporters saying why did it take so long? What was going on in all those hours when we could not get any of the votes out of Lake County?

Again, to put things in perspective, as we wait here, you'll see this one white spot. This is Union County; a very small rural county.

BLITZER: It's 1/10th of 1 percent of the population of the state.

KING: 1/10th of 1 percent. So now we come back up here and we see where Gary is, 80 percent of the population; a much larger slice of the population. All of the votes we're told and this is very significant, Wolf. Again, 28 percent of that county in, but we are told now all of it is from Gary. That is very significant, especially in the Clinton camp, because Gary is an overwhelmingly African- American city.

So all of this vote is from the area where Barack Obama is expected to do the best; so 75-25 inside Gary. As we get the numbers from the rest of the county, and I want to use this telestrator (ph) to be very clear. If you look at these counties, the light blue is Senator Clinton, pretty much this county changes right around here.

When you come down here, this is much more rural. These are areas where Senator Clinton would do well. Again begs the question -- you would expect her to do well, but obviously the proximity to Chicago begs the question, what is taking so long?

BLITZER: Most of the people in this county live up here. They don't live down here.

KING: No question that most of the people live in Hammond, live in Gary as the overwhelming population (inaudible) with 28 percent of the county vote in, with that being from Gary, we'll see what other vote is outstanding in Gary in the area right around Gary and up through here.

Let's take a little look, if we can. We can use our googlemap and stretch it out; most of this state is pretty rural. Pull this out here. You need to turn that off to do it. Clear the screen completely.

Let's pull it out and see what we can see in here. Let's come right up here along the river and it's hard to see, but you see the industrial area. It will clear up a little bit as the map pulls out. You see industrial areas up here along the lake and you get up -- there's a lot of old steel up here, Wolf, a lot of industrial areas up here.

Then you move further down, as you move away from Chicago, and you can see it, I'm going to stretch it out a little bit more and let it adjust, you see some subdivisions put in here, suburban areas as you come further down.

And then you're in more open land as you pull down further into the county; much more rural out in here, tracts of land, farmland and the like. Let's scoop back in a little bit more; let's come back up toward Chicago and show where we are. And again, if you look out this way, you see these suburban tracks, the subdivisions as you're getting close -- I can pull them out a little bit more. You see a baseball field down here, a school obviously over here with the track and all.

But you see the population centers are in these suburban tracks here. Again, if we come down more, up along, you see the highway coming through. This is your way to get into Chicago. That's where you want to go, I'm going to shrink it down. You see Hammond over here, Chicago is just up to the top of the map.

Remember, at one point they were talking about the third Chicago airport would be in Gary, Indiana. You can see the highway here. This is the urban area here, much more densely populated right here in Gary, Indiana. You see these communities in here.

And this is the drama, Wolf. This is the scene of the drama tonight in the Indiana primary. I'm going to pull it back out a little bit more so you see a largely agricultural rural state. Urban area here, the urban area up here.

Lake County, still at 28 percent. That vote came in all at once. Let's take the map function off to go back to the dark blue, it being Barack Obama. Again, knowing the proximity to Chicago a lot of questions are going to be asked.

BLITZER: Right now it's about 21,000 votes in the state if we take a look at the overall vote; 51 percent for Hillary Clinton, 49 percent for Barack Obama. If you do the math, it's about 21,000 vote difference. That theoretically, potentially, capable if you add in the remaining 70 percent that still have to be counted there, they potentially, it will be difficult, but they could make that up in Lake County alone.

KING: It could and one of the reasons as you say he could make it up here, let's look in some of the areas of the state just to be clear to people. These are areas of Senator Clinton's strength; some population down here in the Evansville area but guess what? Senator Clinton winning there by a decent margin, but 100 percent of the vote is in.

Let's just move up the western quarter. Senator Clinton wins big in this county, but 100 percent of the vote in. 100 percent of the vote in. So in most of these more rural counties where Senator Clinton is doing well, we have 100 percent total.

What we're waiting for, again to a degree, Bloomington, Indiana University is there, a college town. Indianapolis is the largest population center. We're almost done there. But again a Barack Obama advantage one would assume when the remaining 2 percent comes in; he'll at least keep that if not add to it a little bit.

And the drama is all up here. All up here in an area where they know Barack Obama. Lake County -- BLITZER: And 28 percent reporting. But they reported barely five or so minutes ago. So we'll wait and see, we'll wait the old- fashioned way. Let the ballots be counted and we'll have a better idea of what's going on. But that gap has clearly narrowed.

Anderson Cooper is watching this for us. Who would have thought, Anderson, as we were approaching midnight now here on the East Coast, this drama in Indiana would be as significant as it is and very important because we know Hillary Clinton has already lost North Carolina decisively tonight. We don't know what's going to happen in Indiana right now. We're just going to have to wait and see.

COOPER: Yes, who would have thought it? I can tell you one person, who clearly would have thought it -- the mayor of Gary, Indiana. In TheWashingtonPost.com, there's an interview from the mayor of Gary, Indiana, Mayor Rudy Clay who said that tonight his city turned out so overwhelmingly for Barack Obama, that it might just be enough to close the gap with Hillary Rodham Clinton.

But Gloria Borger, he does go on to say in this interview that elsewhere he believes the margin is in Hillary Clinton's favor.

BORGER: Right. He goes on to predict that Clinton would win other towns in the county by narrow margins but that Obama would rack up these huge totals in Gary.

COOPER: And John King just pointing out that the numbers we are seeing, that 28 percent or whatever, that is from the city of Gary.

BORGER: That is from the city of Gary, so now with a 21,000 vote difference, we're just waiting to see the rest of the county.

COOPER: I have got to ask John King, what is this incarnation of the map? I don't think I've seen this recently? What is this?

KING: We pulled this one out Anderson. This tells you where the population centers are. The thicker the line, the thicker the color tells you where there are more people. Obviously Marion County where Indianapolis is, we've been saying all night long -- that is the largest concentration of the population in the state of Indiana. That's why you have the concentration in the blue here. And it is why it makes this so important.

Look at where the concentrations of people are. Bloomington a small concentration. Fort Wayne a decent concentration. But up here, Gary and Hammond, right along the Chicago border in that area we're waiting for, Lake County, right here, Gary and Hammond in here, look at that thick blue. That means you have a major population center right there, as compared to these counties just down below.

Senator Clinton who carried these surrounding counties, but the lighter color, the smaller density in the color tells you fewer people live here than live here.

COOPER: Also, John, in this interview, the mayor of Gary says that it takes a little time and the reason that the results are coming in late from Lake County is because the large number of absentee ballots to be counted, about 11,000. Does that jive with what you're hearing?

KING: It jives that it takes time to count absentee ballots, especially if you wait until the end of the day and the polls close to count your absentee ballots. That's a perfectly rational explanation, to count those 11,000 and change; somewhere in the area of 11,000 and several hundred.

It certainly makes sense that you would take time to do a methodical and careful count of your absentee ballots. I'm going to pull back out to the larger map as we wait to see if (inaudible).

The bigger question is, what about the rest of the vote, why haven't you reported that? Remember, this is the Central Time Zone. There are 12 counties in Indiana, six up here, and six down here. The polls closed at 6:00, but they are in the Central Time Zone. So they effectively closed at 7:00 Eastern.

So we began to get results quickly, but these other counties all around here, even the ones that closed an hour later by east coast time, all started reporting very quickly. The questions that will be asked up here, why did it take so long to get any of the vote and even if you're going to wait to count the absentee ballots, what about the people who voted today, why wasn't it reported as it came in?

COOPER: John King, how long have you known about these obscure counties in Indiana? Do you know every county in Indiana? It's an amazement.

One advantage of having done this for 20 something years, is I've been to many of these places across this wonderful country. And one of the other things is knowing you're going to ask questions like that, I do a little homework before we have election night. That's what we do. We read, we study and we see what's going on.

COOPER: You're like the rain man of politics. And that's a good thing.

KING: I think that was a compliment.

COOPER: That's a compliment -- a hit movie.

Jeff Toobin, as you watch the results come in, I got to tell you, it was pretty exciting, no matter what side of the political aisle you're on, it's pretty stunning to suddenly be at the board and see 28 percent of a county come in and the number is so dramatic.

TOOBIN: Incredible.

I hate to plug another Time Warner project, but HBO has a movie coming out in a couple of weeks about the recount in Florida. It was very similar that night where the margin in Florida kept shrinking and shrinking. Obviously, the stakes were much different there than they are here. But it is important to remember that this may have an impact on superdelegates, because they are the people who are the market for this now and the fact that Obama is essentially drawing even in Indiana after winning a landslide in North Carolina makes Hillary Clinton's task even harder.

MARTIN: I agree with him. It speaks to argument in terms of how do you actually make the argument.

I'll tell you what argument I really don't get as the mayor or people in this county in Indiana, 11,000 votes, that's not a lot. Absentee ballots they have those counted before the polling results. They release them five minutes after the polls close.

I don't know if they're hand counting these ballots. I don't understand that. I don't really know what the issue is there with 11,000 votes.

But I will say this here. Even if she wins, by two points as a 20,000-vote margin, it does speak to the argument that she makes in terms of how well she did. If she won by five or six like we're look at earlier, she can say look, I beat the guy. I won in these critical areas. He can say yes, I almost beat you even if I lose in that state, it does change the argument a bit. And losing by a wide margin in North Carolina is difficult.

TOOBIN: And not many delegates --

BORGER: That's what I was going to say, the delegates are the same.

COOPER: It's a vote here or there.

Larry King joins our coverage, our continuing coverage of what is turning out to be an exciting night in the state of Indiana. Larry is here in the election center.

Larry, a pretty remarkable turn of events here.

LARRY KING, CNN HOST: It sure is, Anderson. We'll carry on. We'll be checking in with everybody. An incredible turn of events.

Wolf Blitzer, do you think the Clinton camp, if this turns in Indiana, is going to complain about the way these votes came in?

BLITZER: Well, I think they're very, very nervous right now.