Return to Transcripts main page


Obama Extends Lead; Full Speed Ahead for Hillary Clinton: She's Staying in Until the End

Aired May 7, 2008 - 06:00   ET


JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Obama's boost.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is our time to answer the call. The American dream will endure.

ROBERTS: A big win in North Carolina. Clinton hangs on.


ROBERTS: Will the superdelegates come to her rescue? Or is the amazing race over? It's the "Most Politics in the Morning" on a special AMERICAN MORNING.


ROBERTS: Good morning. I'm John Roberts live at the CNN "ELECTION CENTER" where we have been going all night long and tracking the results of Indiana and North Carolina. Those primaries, it's a split, but not right down the middle.

Barack Obama wins the North Carolina primary, won it big, 14 points. And early this morning, Indiana went to Hillary Clinton by two points, 51 to 49. The margin had been wider and then narrowed as the night went on. Final results didn't come in until after 1:00 this morning.

Barack Obama spoke to supporters last night in North Carolina fairly early and pointed out that he is closer than ever to the nomination.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know, when this campaign began, Washington didn't give us too much of a chance. But because you came out in the bitter cold, knocked on doors and enlisted your friends and neighbors in this cause, because you stood up to the cynics and the doubters and the naysayers when we were up and when we were down, because you still believe that this is our moment and our time to change America, tonight we stand less than 200 delegates away from securing the Democratic nomination for president of the United States.

More importantly, because of you we've seen that it's possible to overcome the politics of division and the politics of distraction, that it's possible to overcome the same old negative attacks that are always about scoring points and never about solving our problems. We've seen that the American people aren't looking for more spin. They're looking for honest answers about the challenges we face. That's what you've accomplished in this campaign, and that's how together we intent to change this country.


ROBERTS: Senator Barack Obama in Raleigh, North Carolina last night after a bigger-than-expected win there. CNN's Candy Crowley was in the hall for Obama's speech. Had this instant reaction.


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It always plays well when you have your supporters and a lot of these are people who have knocked on doors for the past several months. Look, this was a convention speech tonight. This was his argument to the superdelegates.

Here's how I can win. Here is what this is about. This is the turning of the page. This is a new, to use that horrible word, a new paradigm. This is what the country is about.

And the other thing about it is that this was an expansion of what he's been saying on the trail since the Reverend Wright kind of return to the scene, and that is do you want to know who I am? Do you want to know what's inside me? And he ticks it off.

This is what we have heard on the campaign trail. I am the son of a woman who was on food stamps. I am the grandson of a man who went to college on the GI bill. This is who I am. I love this country.

You would be surprised at how many times in these town hall meetings he gets asked about his patriotism. He gets asked about the flag pin issue. So this is Barack Obama reintroducing himself after really six weeks of other people redefining him.

It's what he's been doing on the ground here in North Carolina and in Indiana, and it's what he's doing tonight to a much broader national audience. This was definitely a superdelegate speech.


ROBERTS: All right. Now, the Clinton camp is saying a win is a win is a win. Senator Clinton carried Indiana with rural working class and senior support. It was a difference of fewer than 25,000 votes. She saw that as a vote of confidence.


SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Not too long ago, my opponent made a prediction. He said I would probably win Pennsylvania. He would win North Carolina, and Indiana would be the tiebreaker. Well, tonight we've come from behind. We've broken the tie, and thanks to you it's full speed onto the White House.


You know, this has been an extraordinary experience, traveling across Indiana, having an opportunity to meet so many of you. And for everyone who holds your breath at the gas pump afraid to see how much it costs today, and for everyone working day and night because you want the world for your kids, for every young person with big dreams who deserves a world of opportunity, and for all those who aren't in the headlines but have always written America's story, tonight is your victory right here.


ROBERTS: Immediately following Hillary Clinton's speech, our Suzanne Malveaux had exclusive details on the candidate who still thinks that she's got a lot left in the tank.


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Well, Clinton insiders I've been speaking with this evening really describe this as a situation where both Bill and Hillary Clinton are so convinced that she would be the better candidate against John McCain, that they cannot fathom possibly giving up despite the numbers. And one of the things that she has successfully done recently is that she has rebranded 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 really 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 kind of 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 as well as her daughter, Chelsea, in Washington at a fund-raiser before a group of women asking for those dollars.


ROBERTS: Our Suzanne Malveaux for us last night. Here are the raw numbers in the delegate fight here. Of course, 2,025 needed to clinch the nomination. The number was back to 2,024 for a little while then back up at 2,025.

Barack Obama currently 1,836. He's 189 away from the finish line. Hillary Clinton's got 1,681. That leaves her 344 short of the goal. Here is the number of pledged delegates remaining in the last six contests, 217. So if they split them up about the way that they have been throughout this primary process, it's unlikely that either one of them can hit that finish line.

So that means that it's all down to the superdelegates, 278 of those left. That's really what the race key is on now. That is the critical part. Who can attract the greater number of those superdelegates and get over the finish line and become the nominee? That's the question that lies ahead.

Let's go to Alina now for a look at the results and what they mean going forward. She's with our panel. Good morning to you.

ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, John. Good morning to you. You know, hours before her razor-thin victory in Indiana, Clinton told supporters that victory there gives her the edge over Barack Obama.


SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Not too long ago, my opponent made a prediction. He said I would probably win Pennsylvania. He would win North Carolina, and Indiana would be the tiebreaker. Well, tonight we've come from behind, we've broken the tie, and thanks to you it's full speed onto the White House!


CHO: But a few minutes later, Clinton made another promise, to be a team player for the party.


SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I can assure you, as I have said on many occasions, that no matter what happens, I will work for the nominee of the Democratic Party because we must win in November.


CHO: All right. Let's turn now to our political panel. They're back. Julian Epstein, a Democratic strategist and Clinton supporter, Melissa Harris-Lacewell, a contributor to the and an Obama supporter. We have Leslie Sanchez back with us, our lone Republican strategist, and our neutral man, John Dickerson, CNN political analyst and political correspondent for

John, I want to start with you. Full speed ahead, or is she preparing voters for a concession speech coming up in the next couple of weeks?

JOHN DICKERSON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, I think those remarks about I'll campaign for whoever the nominee is or for Barack Obama are actually part of her pitch to superdelegates. The argument is this.

I'm going to fight this really hard. I'm going to maybe take some more paint off of Barack Obama, but in the end I'm going to work very, very hard. This isn't about me damaging him so that I can run in 2012, one of the things you hear from Obama supporters.

CHO: Well, but they are really going after each other on the gas tax and all kinds of other issues.

DICKERSON: Sure. And this is why she's still fighting. This argument is not part of a concession. It's a part of I'm going to keep fighting and to superdelegates please let me keep fighting, because even if I lose I'll be out there hustling for him and working for him very hard. And so, don't get offended and worried that I'm hurting him too much because I'll be there to help him in the end. This is not necessarily about her backing out at all.

CHO: Well, a lot of critics of Clinton will say that the math simply is not there. She needs to make a psychological case to the voters that she has the momentum going forward. It was a split decision last night in many cases. So this protracted battle, Leslie, on the part of the Democrats really, in your estimation, helps you, right, and the Republicans.

LESLIE SANCHEZ, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I can't deny that. That's very true. I think you have -- you know, we're Republicans sitting on the sidelines eating popcorn, you know, enjoying this battle.

But it's not like the Republicans haven't gone through these types of things before. You think of the Barry Goldwater-Nelson Rockefeller fight that really caused a chasm in the -- it split the GOP into two from the '60s to the '70s. It was really a lot of problem fundamentally.

I think that's what the issue is here. These are very deep- seated feelings, very emotional kind of support that these candidates have, and it's not going to end easily.

CHO: And in your estimation, who's the weaker candidate in the fall against John McCain?

SANCHEZ: Well, it's hard to say. There's a lot to be said about that. I think, you know, both of them have their negatives because philosophically they're so fundamentally different between, you know, what they believe and where they want to go with the direction of the country and John McCain. That's a battle we're excited to take.

CHO: Melissa, you're an Obama supporter. I want to ask you about this fight over the votes in Michigan and Florida. Hillary Clinton was quick to point out last night let's have a recount. Let's count the votes in Michigan and Florida. Obviously, that would help her. You don't think it's a good idea for a lot of reasons.

MELISSA HARRIS-LACEWELL, CONTRIBUTOR, THEROOT.COM: Sure. Yes, I think for the health of the Democratic Party, and I think bringing up the Goldwater-Rockefeller years are really important. We're at a moment here where we have to think about the health of the Democratic Party going forward. Is there a coalition that can move forward?

We do not need to be moving back in time revoting, because you can't revote. Every vote is a snapshot of that moment. So to do it now would be to not only allow them to have jumped out of order the first time but to have allowed it again. Now, I think we ought to seat the delegates, but we ought to seat them on a 50/50 basis so that they are neutral in terms of their impact. And we should say you've got to follow the rules of the party.

In addition to that, I think it's really time for us to be asking what is the coalition that moves the Democratic Party forward, not only in this election but for the next 20 years?

CHO: Julian, I want to get to you very quickly. We don't have a lot of time. But what does your candidate, Hillary Clinton, need to do in the upcoming contests in order to really stay in this fight?

JULIAN EPSTEIN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, I think she'll win West Virginia and again, I think she'll be able to say that's part of the ongoing trend of voters moving in my direction. If you look at it -- look, she wins against McCain in a national matchup as opposed to Barack Obama.

CHO: Melissa is shaking her head on that one.

EPSTEIN: She's winning in battleground states. She's winning with independents over Barack Obama. She's winning with voters under 30. She's going into this, as I said before, four to five string of victories of four to five.

She has to make the argument that 30 million votes cast were less than one percentage of difference in popular vote in and terms of pledged delegates, but the electorate is moving in my direction. Look at all the polling data that backs that up pretty emphatically.

CHO: All right, Julian. OK. All right, OK, guys. You're here for another three hours. Thank goodness. We need your help. Monday morning quarterbacking. Thanks so much. We'll talk to you later -- John.

ROBERTS: All depends which poll you look at.

Well, we're taking a look at the exit polls. Coming up next, the issues that scored with voters, and who they think should be the president to deal with them. Next on AMERICAN MORNING.



SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We will end it by telling the truth forcefully, repeatedly, confidently, and by trusting that the American people will embrace the need for change even if it's coming from an imperfect messenger.


ROBERTS: The economy is issue number one for many Americans, most Americans in fact, and the gas tax holiday got an awful lot of play in the campaign. Bill Schneider is our senior political analyst, joins us with a look at what voters said about all of this. What did the exit polls tell us about the economy this time? Was it still issue number one?

BILL SCHNEIDER, SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: It was by far issue number one. We've been asking at every primary what's the most important issue, the economy, the war in Iraq, or health care? The economy was cited in -- this was Indiana, by two-thirds of the voters which made it by far the top issue.

Look, Iraq is down to 17 percent, health care 13. In fact, our other polling around the country showed that nearly 80 percent of Americans feel the country is in a recession. The numbers are as bad now as they were back in 1992 when her husband got elected on the economy.

ROBERTS: Right. And as we saw though in the last half of 1992, the economy actually started to get a little bit better, but George Bush never got the benefit of that.


ROBERTS: She has traditionally in this primary process done better on the economy than Barack Obama. Did that change at all?

SCHNEIDER: It certainly did. She has been picking up support on the economy, trying to make it her issue and the gas tax was, of course, her latest effort to do that. But this was a big surprise.

ROBERTS: Look at that.

SCHNEIDER: When we asked in Indiana which candidate is more -- should be more likely to improve the economy, it was a tie. Obama 49, Clinton 48. That was a bit of a surprise because the economy was supposed to be her issue and it has been in recent primaries.

ROBERTS: What about North Carolina?

SCHNEIDER: North Carolina, the same question was asked, and the answer was a little bit different. Obama won on the economy, 53 to 42. What does this suggest?

It suggests that the gas tax issue really didn't work for her. It may have hardened her support with a lot of working class voters because she did keep their support, and they wanted the kind of immediate aid that cutting the gas tax would give them.

ROBERTS: Yes. You know, we did a little informal poll yesterday.

SCHNEIDER: Yes. I saw that.

ROBERTS: And I think it was 80 percent of people thought that it was political pandering and nothing more.

SCHNEIDER: That's right. ROBERTS: Do you think it benefited him?

SCHNEIDER: Well, look, it's a draw in most places. In North Carolina, it did benefit him. It didn't gain her any new supporters. It might have reinforced her support with a lot of those working class voters, but it didn't gain her any new support and she may have lost ground on the economy because so many people said she was pandering.

ROBERTS: Let's see if she keeps up the drumbeat today.


ROBERTS: Bill, thanks very much -- Alina.

CHO: All right, John, thanks. Quick check of some of the other top stories making news today, including help on the way to the cyclone victims in Myanmar; 22,000 people dead, 40,000 missing, more than a million homeless. We're going to have that story and the latest on the primary results when we come back.


ROBERTS: Twenty minutes after the hour. Another Super Tuesday spilled into an awesome Wednesday morning. This morning we can tell you that Senator Hillary Clinton won the Indiana primary by two points, 51 to 49. It narrowed up in the late going, but she beat Barack Obama who was expected in the early going to win.

CHO: Did you stay up for the call?

ROBERTS: I didn't stay up for the call. I got up early to see the call.

CHO: I thought maybe you might have.

ROBERTS: I went to bed about 11:00.

In North Carolina, Barack Obama won by 14 points adding to his delegate lead and the math becomes even more difficult for Hillary Clinton. But neither of one of them it looks like at this point can get enough pledged delegates to cross the finish line. So it's all up to those superdelegates.

CHO: The hardest working man in television actually sleeps a couple of hours.

ROBERTS: No. Wolf? Are you kidding? He's still away.

CHO: Asking about you. All right.

There are other stories making headlines this morning. Veronica De La Cruz here with that. Hey, Veronica, good morning.

VERONICA DE LA CRUZ, CNN INTERNET CORRESPONDENT: Hey, good morning to you, and good morning to you, John. It's nice to see you this morning, and good morning to all of you out there. Russia has a new president today. Dmitry Medvedev sworn in at the Kremlin just hours ago. He replaces Vladimir Putin. Putin was constitutionally barred from a third consecutive term after eight years in office, but Medvedev is expected to nominate Putin as prime minister.

Well, the United Nations says international aid is finally reaching areas devastated by the cyclone in Myanmar. The death toll from last weekend's disaster now stands at more than 22,000 with more than 40,000 people missing. The Bush administration has pledged more than $3 million in aid, but Myanmar's military rulers are refusing to allow U.S. disaster experts into the country to assess the damage. The White House says a team is standing by in Thailand for word on visa requests.

Florida Governor Charlie Crist will make a second attempt to get to Washington today. The pilot of his flight made an emergency landing yesterday in Tallahassee shortly after takeoff. The governor's spokesperson says three controls malfunctioned. The governor is headed to D.C. to participate in discussions on the Colombia Free Trade Agreement.

Well, you know, it is not common to hear people talking about the horses under the hood of their car, but back in California, a man is talking about the dogs. That's right, a pit bull he discovered in his engine compartment when he went to add some steering fluid.

The dog apparently worked his way up and under the truck the night before. Then he got stuck. There he is. Eventually he wigged his way out but not before causing about $1,000 worth of damage.

CHO: Who cares about the damage? Poor dog looks like he's been in there for a little while.

ROBERTS: How lucky is the dog that the guy needed to put some fluid in the power steering?

CHO: Yes.

DE LA CRUZ: I know.

ROBERTS: Oh, my goodness.

DE LA CRUZ: So the dog has been taken to a local animal shelter and hopefully somebody will adopt him.

CHO: Yes, no kidding. Hope he's OK.

ROBERTS: Unbelievable.

DE LA CRUZ: Don't you hate it when that happens?

CHO: A close call. All right, thanks Veronica.

ROBERTS: The dog is very lucky this morning. It's a win for Hillary Clinton, but can Barack Obama really claim victory? The final tally in Indiana and what it means for her chances ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.



SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am running to be the president of all of America, north, south, east and west, and everywhere in between. That's why it is so important that we count the votes of Florida and Michigan.

CROWD: Count the votes. Count the votes.

CLINTON: It would be a little strange to have a nominee chosen by 48 states.


CHO: Well, if you look at the numbers, Hillary Clinton is still behind in the delegate count after winning Indiana, then losing North Carolina to Barack Obama. So, we want to hear from you this morning. Is there any way Hillary can win the Democratic nomination? Yes or no.

Cast your vote at I'm sure we'll get a lot of response to that. You can also send us an e-mail. Let us know whether you think it's possible for Clinton to win the nomination. If so, how do you think that's so?

A lot of people saying the math isn't there. E-mail us by heading to our Web site, -- John.

ROBERTS: You're watching the "Most Politics in the Morning." It was a late night drama in Indiana. Why did it take so long to count the ballots? We'll have a live report on that straight ahead.

And our political panel weighs in on last night's primaries and looks ahead to the next round. It's actually may not be a primary. So it's the battle for the superdelegates ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


ROBERTS: After his impressive victory in North Carolina, Barack Obama sounded like the Democratic nominee with a plan to fight personal attacks by Republicans in November.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We will end it by telling the truth forcefully, repeatedly, confidently, and by trusting that the American people will embrace the need for change even if it's coming from an imperfect messenger.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ROBERTS: Let's bring in our political panel now. Democratic strategist Julian Epstein is a Clinton supporter. Melissa Harris- Lacewell is a contributor to the She's also an Obama supporter. Leslie Sanchez, of course, is our Republican strategist, and John Dickerson is the chief political analyst with and a CNN contributor as well.

Let's start with you, Leslie. How imperfect a messenger is Barack Obama, at least according to the perceptions of the Republican Party? And how would they seek to exploit that in the general election should he become the nominee?

SANCHEZ: You know, I think fundamentally a lot of people believe that he may be a seriously flawed candidate, and the Reverend Wright was just like an inkling of what could possibly come down the line. The problem with newer candidates that people do not know well is they can bleed more, I would say, from self-inflicted wounds. He doesn't have the political capital of say the Clintons where people go, oh, I understand that --

ROBERTS: So what's the first attack that the Republicans launched against him?

SANCHEZ: I think they would just follow the Hillary Clinton playbook. I think they're going to go toward -- maybe not so much the issues that you saw with Reverend Wright, but they're going to still philosophically talk about he's one of the most liberal members in Congress according to the nonpartisan "National Journal." He has a voting record that is inconsistent with what he says. You know, he talks like a populist but votes like a liberal. That's the problem.

ROBERTS: Melissa, how does he fight back against that?

HARRIS-LACEWELL: Well, I mean, let's be clear. The Hillary Clinton playbook has not been to call Barack Obama a liberal. It's been to paint him with a racial brush. It has been an injection of the worst kind sort of racial pandering in this campaign and that's why you've seen --

ROBERTS: But it's also been to paint him as not ready to answer the phone at 3:00 a.m. No experience.

HARRIS-LACEWELL: There's no doubt about that, but so much of this, even around questions of inexperience, have also been tied up with questions of race. So I think that the way that Barack Obama fights back against that is to point out that he is the one candidate out of these three who has a truly multiracial national campaign.

ROBERTS: Julian, let's just suppose, this is just suppose, hypothetical, let's just suppose Barack Obama became the nominee and Hillary Clinton had to make good on her pledge last night to support the Democratic nominee. After all the things that she's been saying about him, to tear him down, how does she build him back up?

JULIAN EPSTEIN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, I think that's not uncommon in any time a party has to come together after a bruising primary fight. I think she would get out there as I would and all of her supporters would and campaign very, very strongly for him and paint the differences. I mean, basically they will say --

ROBERTS: But how does she say, no, he is ready to answer that 3:00 a.m. phone call or he does know what he's talking about on the economy. And he's not an elitist. He's the person for the --

EPSTEIN: We will say that and I think more importantly we'll make a different argument. We will say Ronald Reagan asked the right question in 1980. Are you better off than you were eight years ago when Democrats were in the White House?

And I think people will say peace and prosperity have gone to hell in a hand basket. Our international and foreign affairs have been mismanaged, and the economy, the housing, everything is worse off now than we were eight years ago.

Barack Obama is a credible agent of change. And I think she will make that. That's if he gets through the next primary. Remember, West Virginia is coming up next week, and she will -- all the polls show that she's --

ROBERTS: Yes, I mean, this contest is not over yet.

EPSTEIN: All the polls show that she is at double digit. She may win West Virginia by 20 points. If she wins West Virginia by 20 points, again her argument goes back to the psychology. The electorate has shifted in my direction. This is not January, February, this is a new day.

SANCHEZ: It's an interesting argument when you're talking about change because there's no doubt. I don't think you can align a Senator McCain with a George Bush, which is I think what the Democrats want to do and say it's just a consistent effort. You know, an ongoing effort.

That's not going to be true. I think you're going to look at two, you know, individual candidates who tend to be mavericks. The difference is one will be proven and one is not.

ROBERTS: Well, John McCain has lined up with President Bush on a lot of issues such as tax cuts, war --

SANCHEZ: And he consistently walked away from the Republican Party I would say on some issues.

ROBERTS: I want to turn the corner here and I want to get John in on this. Last night, -- I mean, Pennsylvania was kind of surprising the way that Hillary Clinton according to some people rattled the tin cup after her win and so I need money.

Last night she didn't even wait to the second paragraph to do it. She said it right off the top. Let's listen to what she said about trying to raise some more money for the campaign.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CROWD: Yes, we can! Yes, we can! Yes, we can!

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This has always been your campaign and this is your victory because your support has meant the difference between winning and losing. And we can only keep winning if we're able to keep competing against an opponent who does outspend us massively. So I hope you will go to and support our campaign.


ROBERTS: The message after Indiana last night very similar to Pennsylvania, thank you very much, send money. But what's the difference between what we're seeing today and what we saw after the Pennsylvania primary?

The difference is after Pennsylvania, all of us got e-mails from the Clinton campaign saying we've raised $2.5 million just in the last few hours. And they said the new number was $10 million in that quick period afterwards.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They have said and we have to check these figures when they actually come out, but the fund-raising went crazy online after Pennsylvania. We haven't heard from the Clinton campaign yet. It may have happened, but you know this morning we're all talking about how her position got worse. It would really be helpful --

ROBERTS: I assume they didn't all go to bed immediately after the primary last night so they'd be watching the money.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right. One of the things they're doing is getting her into West Virginia this morning to show she's alive and she's still going. Another way they would do that, perhaps a better way would be if they could show she had a lot of money coming in. They haven't done that yet. So we'll see if they can show she's got some money coming in.

ROBERTS: All right. Well, that's something to discuss. We got to move on to other things, but you guys, folks will be here still for another 2 1/2 hours. So we'll talk about that more and Julian we'll go to you to sort of get a sense of what that means if they haven't been talking about the money coming in.

Right now back to Alina, though.

ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: All right, John, thank you. Barack Obama cruised to victory in North Carolina, but it took a while to get to the finish line in Indiana. We'll check in on all the late night drama to count all the votes.

And the biggest prize of the remaining contests is Puerto Rico. We'll take a look at who's ahead and what issues are important to voters there on the island, ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) CHO: Welcome back. North Carolina going for Barack Obama last night by 14 points over Hillary Clinton. But it took until the wee hours of the morning for Indiana to be decided. Clinton won by two points and CNN didn't call the race there until about 1:00 in the morning.

There was late night drama over the vote count and our CNN's Suzanne Roesgen joins us now from Crown Point, Indiana.

So Susan, did they figure out what happened yet?

SUSAN ROESGEN, CNN GULF COAST CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think we're starting to figure out what happened here, Alina. If you had never heard of Lake County, Indiana, before now well, you're going to hear a lot about it today.

That's the elections office here behind me in Lake County, and just not more than five minutes ago Alina, literally five minutes ago, one of the Elections Board of Commissioners walked out and told us that he has just now -- they have just now finished counting the absentee ballots.

If you'll recall, there were 11,000 absentee ballots in this county, four times as many as there were in the primary back in 2000. And as some people suspected, those ballots were counted separately from the machine ballots.

You know, they have regular electronic voting machine that you go in and punch the screen and get your votes tallied pretty quickly electronically, but the absentee ballots came in and a lot of envelopes that had to be physically opened and then scanned through an optical scanner.

The Elections Board of Commissioner person that we spoke to said that he had been at it since 8:00 Tuesday morning. It's about 6:30 local time. He had just left. So you can imagine what a task that was. He said really it was basically a simple thing of opening the envelopes.

Even so, there has been some talk that this should not have taken this long. There was even a suggestion that perhaps there was some sort of voter irregularity. We have a statement from the secretary of state here in Indiana. And you can tell that the secretary of state himself is not happy with the late tally here in Lake County.

He says every other urban area of our state uses this process in order to get results quickly and to stop suspicions from rooting and festering. Now, we know that, again, there were some people who were talking about, gee, could there be some sort of voter fraud occurring in this county.

From what I've been told, Alina, from talking to the editor of the local newspaper here, that's not the case. They say that always, always Lake County is the last to get its results out and last night apparently was four times as many absentee ballots as normal. It took just until fives minutes ago to finish the count. We've been told that if you go to this Web site, if you're a political junkie who has been watching CNN all night, you can go to and we've just been told that that Web site will be updated with the actual results from this county.

At last check, it was 99 percent of the votes counted except for 7,000 of the absentee and Barack Obama was way ahead. 66,000 and some votes to 53,000 for Hillary Clinton in this county.


CHO: Incredible, Susan. I mean, listen, we've had how many primary contests and they're just now finishing counting the votes. Obviously, there's going to have to be some changes going forward, but having said that, there's another issue there on your plate in Indiana, which is about voter IDs.

The Supreme Court deciding to uphold a state law requiring voters who go to the polls to show a valid voter I.D. That was a problem for a lot of people, including a 98-year-old nun who was basically turned away. Not allowed to cast her ballot. So what are state officials saying, if anything, about that?

ROESGEN: We haven't heard anything about that particular issue. I think the main thing is they are embarrassed. I think embarrassed is the big word here. Embarrassed that it had taken this long. Embarrassed that this county that many people have never heard of just south of Chicago, Illinois, is what held up a very critical primary.

CHO: Susan Roesgen, live, for us in Indiana. Susan, thanks.


ROBERTS: The biggest contest left comes almost at the very end. A look at the fight for Puerto Rico and its 55 delegates coming up next. And we're breaking down the count. Our chief national correspondent John King at the magic wall this morning punching the numbers when AMERICAN MORNING returns.


ROBERTS: Forty-one minutes after the hour. The next votes in this primary contest are cast in West Virginia. That will be next Tuesday. But the biggest cache of delegates left is up for grabs in Puerto Rico with 55 delegates on stake. That contest takes place on June the 1st.

In fact, it was a caucus originally but they switched it to a primary because it was so important now in potentially determining who the Democratic nominee is going to be.

David Brody is covering the campaign in Puerto Rico for the Christian Broadcasting Network and he joins us on the phone from San Juan, Puerto Rico.

David, it's good to talk to you this morning. What's the lay of the land down there?

VOICE OF DAVID BRODY, CHRISTIAN BROADCASTING NETWORK: Well, I got to tell you. The folks down here are passionate, very passionate when they go to the polls. You know, John, there are about 4 million folks down here in Puerto Rico.

Now two-and-a-half are registered voters and you know, John, roughly about 80 percent of the folks down here vote. That bodes well for Hillary Clinton because she is leading in the polls down here. She's up by, you know, in the latest poll done a few weeks ago at least about 12 percent to 14 percent.

And so, you know, the calculation here is that can she get a lot of the popular vote and start to make up the ground? We saw how she lost ground with North Carolina yesterday. Can she go ahead and make up the ground here in Puerto Rico?

This is the place where she can potentially do that when it comes to the popular vote, and I think that's what's really driving the Clinton campaign down here. It's really interesting, we were in Old San Juan last night at the Noche de Galeria.

You know, things don't get hot in here until about 10:00 p.m. or so and there were about, oh goodness, 5,000 to 10,000 people on this little plaza and there were the Barack Obama team handing out flags, special flags, made just for the Puerto Ricans down here.

And it's funny because a lot of the folks where they were canvassing down here, a lot of the folks down here didn't even realize that they could vote on June 1st. They said, oh this is still going on? What's exactly the situation? So they had to explain a lot.

ROBERTS: David, you know, as we have seen in past primary contests Hillary Clinton does quite well with Hispanic voters. There's a real connection between New York and Puerto Rico, the huge Puerto Rican population here in New York City. Is that what accounts for her popularity there?

BRODY: That's a big part of it. The other part of it is she has a long-standing relationship with this island down here. As first lady, she took part in a couple specific situations. She came here and visited when there were hurricanes that came through this area. And so there was economic aid involved as well.

So you know, the folks here know Hillary Clinton. They have a relationship so to speak with her. For Barack Obama and his campaign, it's more of an educational experience for the folks down here. They really have to explain more about who he is and what he's about.

Don't get me wrong, they know Barack Obama's name down here. There's no doubt about it. And they -- oh, he's here. You know, we were talking to some folks last night and the two words they kept talking about is, yes, he's the guy with hope and change, hope and change. So it's resonating down here, too.

ROBERTS: So we talked this morning about the real battle ahead being for the superdelegates and even though it's a very delegate-rich state there, 55 delegates up for grabs and those are pledge delegates, even more if you include the superdelegates.

You could make the case that if you win a state like Pennsylvania because it's such a rich state in terms of electoral votes that would play into the presidential contest.

Puerto Rico is in a unique position in that. It could play a role in the nominating contest, but they can't vote for president down there in Puerto Rico. So can somebody make the case of saying hey, I won Puerto Rico so I would be the better candidate in the general election.

BRODY: Well, they can't put that into their equation but they can go ahead and say let's remember though that, you know, the folks down here in Puerto Rico, though they don't pay income tax necessarily, they do pay social security taxes and you can go on the list of many of the benefits that they receive as American citizens.

So in essence every vote according to the Clinton campaign will count, and that's why this popular vote is so important and why they believe this is a place -- I mean, think about it, John, they've got 2.4 registered voters down here and typically 80 percent of them show up to vote.

If Hillary Clinton wins by double digits, what does that mean for the popular vote down here? That could be huge. Now having said that, let's also remember that the only folks that will be on the ballot on June 1st will be Obama and Clinton.

There will be no other races down here. And it's on a Sunday. So the question will then be will they get that 80 percent turnout. Most people down here don't think it will be 80 percent but it will be high and so we'll have to watch it.

ROBERTS: All right. David Brody for us this morning. David, I think also you meant 2.4 million registered voters, not 2.4.

BRODY: That's right.

ROBERTS: All right, David, thanks. Let's check back with you a little bit later on this morning.

BRODY: Thanks.

ROBERTS: There's a race to cover. The Puerto Rico primary.


CHO: Yes, that's on assignment.

ROBERTS: How do we get some of that action?

CHO: Yes. No kidding. And since when did we pay attention to Puerto Rico, so that's great. Their vote is going to count. Coming up, the results are in from Indiana and North Carolina, but we also have our eyes on West Virginia. That primary less than a week away and Hillary Clinton is heading there this morning. We're looking at the issues and how the candidates might tailor their messages next on AMERICAN MORNING.


CHO: Welcome back. Full speed ahead for Senator Hillary Clinton. Early this morning, she added an unscheduled campaign event in West Virginia. Voters go to the polls there next Tuesday and our Jim Acosta has been talking to voters in that state. He joins me now from Charleston.

Hey, Jim, good morning.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Alina. Hillary Clinton will be campaigning on the economy in Shepherdstown today and she's coming to West Virginia for one reason. There's delegate gold, 28 delegates to be specific, in these hills.


ACOSTA (voice-over): Coal is king in West Virginia, but another fuel, gasoline, is running a close second these days. And that hurts in a state where workers have one of the longest commute times in the country.

GOV. JOE MANCHIN (D), WEST VIRGINIA: I've never felt more helpless as being governor of my great state of West Virginia that I just want to jump in and do something. It's wrong.

ACOSTA: Which is why West Virginia Governor Joe Minchin is open to Hillary Clinton's plan for a Gas Tax Holiday. But that doesn't mean this superdelegate is ready to make an endorsement. He did take note, however, when Barack Obama infamously referred to bitter, small- town Pennsylvania voters who cling to their guns.

MANCHIN: I'm going to give every candidate the benefit of the doubt. Sometimes things slipped out.

ACOSTA: But you must have heard something, Governor.

MANCHIN: Sure. Well, here, first of all, I can assure you we're a state that really, really clings to the Second Amendment.

ACOSTA: West Virginia plays to nearly all of Clinton's demographic strengths. It's older, whiter and more rural than the rest of America. But that doesn't mean voters here are resistant to change.

DAVID LOVEJOY, RETIRED COAL MINER: I think it's time. Either a woman or a black person or an African-American. I think it's time.

ACOSTA: This is after all the state that made Democratic primary history a half century ago. Can people in West Virginia vote for a guy named Barack Obama?

ROBERT RUPP, WEST VIRGINIA WESLEYAN UNIVERSITY: 48 years ago they asked if they could vote for a Boston Irish millionaire who was a Catholic, and they did in a landslide vote.


ACOSTA: And that professor has dubbed this state the West Virginia Appalachian primary. And so it's no surprise that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama will be making appeals to this state's coal industry as they did with ethanol in Iowa.

So far, the state's powerful Coal Miners Union hasn't endorsed anybody yet. They had endorsed John Edwards but, of course, he's not in the race anymore.


CHO: As you say, coal is gold.

ACOSTA: Yes it is.

CHO: Jim Acosta, live for us in Charleston, West Virginia.

Jim, thank you.


ROBERTS: Eight minutes now to the top of the hour. Even if she won every remaining pledged delegate, Hillary Clinton cannot clinch the nomination. In fact, she'd still be 127 short.

So, we're asking for your thoughts. Is there any way that Hillary Clinton can win the Democratic nomination? Right now 23 percent of you say yes. 77 percent say no. Cast your vote at

We'd also like your thoughts on this. Send us an e-mail if you think it's possible for her to win, why or why not. E-mail us by heading to our Web site at and follow the links that say "Contact Us."

ROBERTS: Spin cycle.




ROBERTS: Hillary Clinton squeaks by in one state but loses more ground. Will she step aside?


CLINTON: We must win in November.


ROBERTS: Or never give up?


CLINTON: It's full speed onto the White House!


ROBERTS: What now? And what if it goes all the way to the convention?



CLINTON: Not too long ago, my opponent made a prediction. He said I would probably win Pennsylvania, he would win North Carolina, and Indiana would be the tiebreaker. Well, --


Tonight, we've come from behind, we've broken the tie, and thanks to you, it's full speed onto the White House!


CHO: Well, Hilary Clinton telling Indiana last night thank you and that a win is a win. So, we want to see what voters are saying this morning. So, we're going to go back to my new best friends, "WIBC MORNING NEWS" anchors on the radio -- Terry Stacy and Jake Query.

Good to see you guys again. Hey, Jake, I want to ask you, real nail-biter last night. What was it like in Indianapolis as the votes were coming in and being counted?

JAKE QUERY, CO-HOST, "WIBC MORNING NEWS": Well, when you talk about it, Alina, -- by the way, you're right there on my list too. As a matter of fact, you're on the Christmas card list now. Terri and I are going to have you over for dinner next week.

TERRI STACY, CO-HOST, "WIBC MORNING NEWS": We're sending you a package.

CHO: Thank you.

QUERY: This was how close it was. Terry lives out in the suburbs, OK. And I live more in the city. So, Terri's newspaper I think is printed off a little earlier. Her headline --

STACY: Yes. This is how late in the middle of the night. This is when mine came in about 4:00.

QUERY: "Fight Goes On," OK?


QUERY: Now, mine comes about an hour later and it simply says "Clinton Barely."

CHO: Wow.

QUERY: 1.2 million Hoosiers voting and 22,000 votes separating Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. But again, the Senator from New York, Hillary Clinton, getting the win as we thought was probably going to be the case, but this, Alina, this is brilliant. OK?

STACY: This is what. Alina, we thought we would show -- you know, we don't have the magic wall like you all have at CNN but we do math and this is my -- this is the state of Indiana. So, we just like to show you the problem area, which kept us up all night, which was in this area right here, which is Lake County.

QUERY: Right near Lake Michigan.

STACY: This is, by the way, where we are right now.


CHO: That is a crude rendering.

STACY: This is where I live, but this up here, this is the Lake County, which is what kept us up late all night, which eventually did go to Obama.

CHO: Hey, OK. And you're right. It did go to Obama according to our John King, 55 to 45 percent. But Indianapolis -- of course, the state went to Hillary Clinton just barely.

But Indianapolis, Barack Obama took 65 percent of the vote, maybe 67 percent of the vote. Something like that. Two out of every three voters. So what are your listeners saying about that?

QUERY: Well, I think that Barack Obama -- I think Terri would agree with me on this, Barack Obama spent a lot of time in Indianapolis, and he really I think resonated -- I know that over 60 percent of the people of Indianapolis have said that they feel Barack Obama is relatable to them.

Obviously, in this state you have a higher African-American percentage in Marion County, which is Indianapolis, than really in any other part of the state, outside of Lake County up near the Chicago region.

But I think that both African-Americans and white people in Indianapolis felt like Barack Obama related to them. You know, he spent a lot of time here. And they felt like he was somebody who represented a change that was wanted here in the state of Indiana.

And then again, Hillary Clinton getting a lot of the union vote and a lot of the vote outside of the Indianapolis area.

STACY: Right. And also what I think is interesting, the exit polling last evening said that about half of the voters were -- the controversy over Reverend Wright was an important factor in their voting. That was half of those that voted here in the state of Indiana.

CHO: That's what our polling shows, too.

STACY: Yes, so, when you look at that number though, it may have been a factor, but not a big giant factor.

CHO: Right. I want to talk a little bit about why your state is in the spotlight beyond the fact that we called the race very late and there's a reason for that. You had that problem in Lake County.

But also there was a flap over the Supreme Court deciding to uphold the state law requiring voters to bring valid ID. You know, a 98-year-old nun wasn't allowed to vote because she didn't have a valid ID. Are your listeners talking about that?

STACY: Right. You know, there has been a little bit of talk about it. But that is the law and they followed through with it. But you're absolutely right. It's been a little bit of talk here this morning.

QUERY: There was a lot of talk about the voter ID law when it came out. But I think for the most part people felt like the voter ID law was something that a lot of people in Indiana didn't really have a problem with because if you're a registered voter or you are a citizen of the state, you have an ID.

What's the problem? Unless you're one of the dozen nuns up in south bend. No pockets in the habit. I mean, come on, where are you supposed to carry the license?

CHO: You can bet they're going to have valid IDs for November. All right. You're on the Christmas card list, too. Jake Query and Terri Stacy, hosts of the "WIBC MORNING NEWS" in Indiana. Thanks for joining us. Come back very soon.

All right, John?

STACY: Thank you.

QUERY: We'll do, guys.

ROBERTS: While Terri's notebook is great, we have got the real magic wall revved up, raring, and ready to go. John King with us this morning and he'll be breaking it all down.

Wasn't even close in North Carolina. We talked about it being close in Indiana. Barack Obama coasted to a 14-point win over Hillary Clinton there. The updated CNN delegate tally has got Barack Obama now with 1,836 pledged delegates. Hillary Clinton with 1,681. That's a spread of 155 delegates.