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tv   John King USA  CNN  January 31, 2012 3:00pm-4:00pm PST

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♪ amazing roast beef >> reporter: if you can't take the heat, don't sing in the kitchen. jeanne moos, cnn. new york. ♪ america america ♪ america america . -- captions by vitac -- we're wauchg watching the time primary votes being cast in the florida primary. >> a big night in the republican race and anything could still happen.
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governor romney has an enormous amount of money but we have an enormous amount of people. >> mitt romney needs to drag him down. >> he's gone from pillar to post. a pinball machine. >> a two-man grudge match in a four-man race. >> there's a lot of folks who talk tough. what makes you tough is at your core. >> no way going to stop the momentum that we have started. >> who will return to florida this summer? as the republican nominee? >> i will go all the way to the convention. i expect to win the nomination. >> we're going to be in this race for a long time. >> forget everything you thought you knew about the presidential field. >> this is the beginning of a
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long, hard slog. >> we're going to take back the white house. we're going to take back our country. >> the nomination is up for grabs. the conventional wisdom is out the window. and florida will change the game again. hello from the cnn election center. i'm john king. most of the polling places across florida closed about one hour from now. >> we have the most crews in position across the state including our correspondents of the candidates' headquarters. as always anderson cooper is here as well. >> brand-new exit poll information just in. >> we can show you now but we can't tell you who the people of of florida are voting for but we can tell you about the florida
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electorate tonight. this is the first time we have a much more diverse elect tore rita. latino population 15% of those voting in the republican primary today in the state of florida latinos, 82% white. a very small only one percentage african-americans. the breakdown by gender, 52% of the electorate today, 48% are women. look across ideology. south carolina was our last contest. a much more conservative electorate there. florida 37%, the largest group describe themselves as somewhat conservative. 34% describe themselves as very conservative and 30% moderate to legal. important distinction from south carolina. the tea party movement was huge in florida in 2010, big today as well. 66% voting in this presidential primary 66% supporters, 22% neutral. 8% oppose the tea party. evangelical born again christians big constituency in iowa and in south carolina, a smaller constituency in florida. 39% describe themselves as white
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born again evangelicals. six in 10 say they don't fit that description there. if you look at the most important candidate quality, when republicans went to the polls today we asked them what is the most important candidate quality? 45% largest groupt said can defeat president obama. 45% of republicans today say quality number one. can they win the general election. can they defeat barack obama. 13% want a true conservative. strong moral character was the number one quality for 17%. the right experience 20% of republicans said the right experience was what mattered most to them. let's take a little bit more about the electorate. were the debates a factor in your vote? 86% of republicans today said yes debates were a factor. how big a factor? an important factor 50%. the most important factor 17%. so 67% say important or most important. minor factor 19%. 10% says the debates were not a particular for as all. campaign ads, this is
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interesting. so much money spent on campaign ads. a lot of complaints from speaker gingrich about the campaign ads. 24% say important factor, 34% minor factor. majority say minor or not at all. only 15% said it was the most important factor. one last footnote who ran the most unfair campaign? if you listened to recent days, speaker gingrich was complaining about the negative ads. he said mitt romney was being dishonest. voters did nots see it that way. 37% said romney ran the most unfair campaign. 34% gingrich. only 4% for rick santorum and ron paul. >> over to the romney and gingrich campaigns right now, candy crowley is at the romney headquarters, jim acosta at the gingrich campaign headquarters. candy, what are our romney campaign advisers expecting for tonight? >> well, listen. they will tell you, a 6 or 7% margin. they're clearly expecting a
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victory. i have to tell you out in the hallway there are t-shirts with florida on them that say "florida believes" and believe in america is mitt romney's slogan. so they are looking for a victory tonight. you've seen the polls. a double-digit victory would be great. i have to tell you they are also looking at the breadth of a win should they get it. that is particularly how did they do among women and among those very conservative voters that john is talking about. two key things for them as they watch tonight for a variety of reasons. and even though we are seeing that a lot of people say what was on the air here in terms of advertising didn't really affect their vote, i can also tell you just from what mitt romney is saying that he intends to continue to be not on the defense but on the offense. take a listen. >> if you're attacked i'm not going to just sit back. i'm going it fight back and fight back hard.
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>> so expect more of the same going on. this still is a heated battle. bose these men obviously going on after this along with santorum and paul, wolf? >> we'll be checking back with you throughout the night, candy. jim acosta is at the newt gingrich headquarters. jim, where does newt gingrich see this race moving after tonight? >> well, wolf, newt gingrich likes to remind reporters that he's been dead before in this campaign twice. i had a chance to catch up with the former speaker out on the campaign trail earlier today. and i asked him is there still a chance for you to become the republican nominee after what might be a pretty big beating down here in florida. and he said, of course. here's what he had to say. >> mr. speaker, do you still see a path to the nomination after florida? >> oh, sure. of course. >> how do you see that happen? >> unify the conservatives. romney's not going to get anywhere near a majority here. unify the conservatives, win the
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delegates and have the nomination. >> did you let your guard down to mitt romney would you say? >> no. i would say when you're outspent 5 to 1 with ads that are dishonest it's a challenge. >> are you saying he's run a dishonest campaign, sir? >> that's what the wall veet journal and national review said. >> as for that onslaught of negative ads, the former speaker does have some numbers to back him up. the folks at cantor cnag have run an analysis of the ads. .1% of the ads here in florida in the last week have been pro romney. nearly 70% have been anti-gingrich. those are tough numbers to beat, wolf. >> very tough numbers. i see they're getting ready for the former speaker to deliver a speech where you are. we'll check back with you, jim acosta, thanks very much. anderson cooper is with us every step of the way. >> i'm here with chief political analyst gloria borger and senior political analyst david gergen. >> i'm watching to see whether romney can win an election with the support of the most
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conservative voters and the tea party. because even though we saw him win in new hampshire, it was kind of his backyard. and we need to see whether he can really rally the conservative base of the party, the tea partiers who have been so skeptical about him in the past. >> how much has he been reaching out to them this time? >> he has been reaching out. he's been calling them on the telephone. he's been really soliciting them. which he hasn't actually done in the past. of course, newt gingrich's entire candidacy is premised upon being the not romney, the most conservative, the heir to the reagan legacy. so it will be interesting to see if romney can actually get those conservatives on board. >> we introduced the show tonight by saying the nomination's up for grabs. to me the big question tonight is will romney grab it tonight. if he wins decisively i think he'll be much closer to that goal. if it's over ten points, if it's double digits, this is the first major state, a major battle ground state in the general
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election. and a person who can win here among republicans is a more formidable candidate for the republican party. >> the next couple of states are also probably in romney's favor. >> exactly right. i think it's a major night to just test how broad, how deep is romney's support. i was also surprised, anderson, and we've been talk all week about this avalanche of negative ads. but voters seem to think the debates were more important to them in making up their minds than the ads. and that's not good news for newt gingrich who had two lackluster debates here. >> also senator marco rubio from florida, a very popular among republicans in that state. talked about the results tonight. let's show what he said. >> i think that the winner of florida is in all likelihood going to be not. knee of our party. and rightfully so. florida as you just said is a mini america. virtually every issue we want our nominee to be conversant on and convincing on is an issue they've had to confront her in florida. >> is that a tacit endorsement
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of mitt romney assuming he wins? >> he's walked right up to the line but decided not to endorse. i think what he's saying is accurate about the state, which that is not only is it a battle ground but if you can win in florida you're likely to be the one winning the nomination. i mean, the gingrich campaign if they don't win in florida tonight, going to say only 5% of the delegates have been picked. it's a long slog. and we can go -- we can go all the way to the convention which may be true. the question is can they raise the money if they don't win tonight and will they have the momentum that mitt romney would be able to claim? >> and john king as you mentioned earlier this is the most diverse state we have yet to see a primary in. >> it is, anderson. 15% of the electorate latinos tonight. more moderate voters that we have are looking through this early election poll information now. we're going to take a look at the first snapshot of who's voting today and why and how issue number one, the economy, figures in. and we all know florida, remembering the hanging chad, has a history of ballot problems. we're going behind the scenes
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about 45 minutes away the first polls close in florida at 7:00 p.m. eastern. up in the florida panhandle they close at 8:00. you see the great diverse state of florida, 50 delegates at stake tonight. it is up here the polls are open a little bit later so we need to wait. but the state's the most diverse state. miami area 15% of those voting tonight latinos. military communities up in jacksonville. retirees more moderate independents, 15% latinos. let's take a look at what we know about this electorate tonight. nearly 10% unemployment in the state of florida. so it is no surprise the number one issue to those voting in today's florida republican presidential primary by far the economy. 62% say the economy. 24% say the budget deficit. 6% say abortion is the most important issue. only 3% say illegal immigration. so this in a state with 9% unemployment the economy is driving the debate. let's take a closer look at this. as these republicans went to the polls we asked them what's your family's financial situation in economy issue number one 58%.
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29% say they're falling behind, only 13% are opt missic saying their family finances are getting ahead. perhaps no surprise this is another major problem. foreclosure, the housing issue in florida has been a problem throughout 50% of the voters today say foreclosures in their community are a major problem, 32% say a minor problem. 15% say not a problem at all. let's walk back over this way and show you why the economy is such a big issue. if you look through the demographics here and look at the current unemployment here, the darker the area the higher the unemployment rates 9.9% state-wide. show you why republicans think this is a battle ground come november. this is when president obama took office. shade of green, fairly dark state. watch as we come forward here. one of the reasons republicans think they can get into the state, wolf, and do very well and why this primary is so important that we already saw that 45% of voters today say their number one test can their candidate, can the republican candidate they pick today beat barack obama in november. this is why.
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the economy has been punished there. and florida republicans, wolf, think this is a state they can take back come november. >> that's a good point, john. excellent point. i want to go inside some of the voting polls. polling places right now to see the voting as it's happening with our ballot cameras, john zarrella is joining us from lithian, florida. shannon travis in panama city beach. shannon, you just met two very interesting voters. what did they say to you? >> absolutely, wolf. two voters just moments ago who were walking out of this precinct, precinct 8 here in panama city beach. one of them was a 72-year-old man who said he's lived in the area for ten years. i asked who did you vote for. he said ron paul. you know wolf, that's interesting because ron paul hasn't been actively competing in florida. certainly not in this area that's heavily republican area. i asked him if he thought that his vote would have an impact seeing as though dr. paul is not campaigning here. he said yes that it's a vote for smaller government, ending the
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fed and liberty. and the other person you mentioned that was interesting was a woman. her name was jeanne toms. a mother. she had her son. she said going into this polling location she couldn't make up her mind who to actually vote for. . that's one vote for mitt romney. hopefully some of mitt romney's other supporters are coming here with a little bit more form of support. wolf? >> shannon, thanks very much. john zarrella is in the largest precinct in hillsborough county where tampa is. what's the scene like over there, john? i don't know if you can hear me, john. if you can't hear me let me repeat the question. >> reporter: wolf, in lithia just south of the tampa area --
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>> all right, john. >> reporter: that's right. hills broi county. this is the largest republican precinct, precinct 701, in hillsborough county. 3800 registered republicans here. when we talked to the supervisor -- okay. when we talked to the supervisor of elections he was telling us they expected a very good turnout today. and in fact, they had about 800 people as of 4:30 vote here. but a big turnout now tonight here. a lot of people coming in at the last -- in the last hour, wolf. so they do hope that they can get to about 1200 people. then when you factor in all of the absentee ballots and factor in the early voting, county-wide they're expecting perhaps 40% of the 232,000 registered republicans to actually have cast ballots in this primary. when we talked to a lot of the people here, wolf, one of the things that they were telling me was, many of them said, you know
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what? we came with one idea of who we were going to vote for. but at the end of the day we wanted to vote for the safe candidate and the candidate that we felt was more equipped to beat barack obama at the end of the day. not necessarily their first choice, but the person they thought would have the most likely impact in the general election, the best chance of beating barack obama. wolf? >> electability a key issue, john zarrella on the scene for news florida. let's go back to john. >> as you know mitt romney and newt gingrich in florida, rick santorum and ron paul are not waiting around in florida for the results tonight. our correspondents are waiting with them in nevada. top of the hour where most polling places close and the first votes will start to come in.
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most of the polls will close at the top of the hour in florida, 7:00 p.m. eastern. all of them will close at 8:00 p.m. eastern. at that point we'll be able to release final exit poll numbers, also maybe project a winner. we're standing by for that. ron paul and rick santorum have essentially given up on florida. they're in nevada tonight looking ahead to the caucuses this coming saturday. dana bash is over at santorum headquarters. joe johns is over at ron paul headquarters. first joe, why isn't ron paul in florida? >> reporter: well, he just couldn't compete in florida quite frankly. the advertising cost too much. it's a winner take all state as
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you know. all the delegates go to whoever the winner is. the ron paul campaign looked at it and just saw themself putting a whole bunch of money into florida and frankly not getting anything out of it. figured they'd come out here to places like colorado, nevada, and try to work it. particularly in nevada where it's a caucus state and ron paul can use some of his organizing skill to try to get at least a proportion of the delegates for the republican national convention as opposed to a winner take all situation like in florida, wolf. >> how confident are they in nevada? >> reporter: you know, nevada is very tricky for the ron paul campaign. number one, there are a lot of mormons out here. and four years ago mitt romney got something like 95% of that vote. he actually won the nevada caucuses by 51%. so it's a risk for ron paul. but they figure they might as well try to get some delegates out here as opposed to the situation in other states where
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they could end up with nothing at all and just spend a lot of money. >> stand by for that. we'll get back to you, joe. we'll be watching what's going on where you are at ron paul headquarters. let's go to dana bash over at rick santorum headquarters. at least on this night in las vegas, dana, what do we expect from the santorum folks tonight? >> reporter: well, we expect the senator to come here. in fact we're going to be able to talk to him in a short time when he gets here. i want to give you a little tour of where we are. we are at the actual headquarters for rick santorum's campaign here in nevada. wolf, they signed the lease on this place four days ago. they turned the lights on three days ago. they only have two paid staffers in this entire state. and now we do have you see a couple of volunteers here making calls, telling people to come here to listen to the senator tonight but also to try to start giving them information about where to go for the caucuses so that they can vote for rick santorum. you know, wolf, because you interviewed the senator about ten days ago in south carolina he was making the case that he
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was going to be in florida but that changed pretty quickly after he realized much like ron paul he wasn't going to be able to compete for the 50 delegates because it's winner take all. they figured this is the best place for him to get the best bang for his buck. >> speak about buck, does he have bucks? does he have enough campaign money to effectively compete in nevada and some of these other states? >> reporter: well, his campaign actually told us today that he has $1.2 million cash on hand. that's not bad considering the fact that he certainly has not been known to do much in any way other than a shoestring. which as you can see here in this headquarters. he actually raised 4.2 million in january alone. so they feel like they're in pretty good shape. they've already bought some advertising time here in nevada and in colorado. two new ads, one of them is pretty tough against his opponents. they insist they are doing pretty well in that fund raising to keep them going for the long haul. which just like ron paul he says he is not giving up.
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>> like other candidates he has the superpac supporting him as well. we'll see how much money they are willing to put up in this battle. dana, we'll check ba with you throughout the evening. let's go back to anderson right now. let's check in with all our democratic and republican strategists and cnn contributors. alexis anybody going to drop out tonight? >> maybe the voters will give up. [ laughter ] >> but no, none of the candidates, it appears. they're going to go on. look, this campaign in some ways may be over tonight, but it may not end tonight. mitt romney if he wins florida he'll pick up money, he'll pick up momentum. newt gingrich has damaged himself if he does not win this evening. but there's no reason they can't go on through february. very little happens in february. they can live off the land. the dynamic changes from winning to stopping mitt romney. >> let me divider with a part of that. there's no reason anybody should drop out. march is the bill month. and there's a lot that happens
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in february actually. there are seven states that go to the polls, six of them actually have delegates at stake. mitt romney did phenomenally well in five of those seven four years ago he won five of thousands seven. a strong month for romney. if you're santorum or newt gingrich you look at the national polls show romney was down three of the national polls to newt gingrich. this race really accelerates into march. that's going to be the big month. no reason for anybody to drop out. >> you see no reason to drop out. but do you see they're doing damage to mitt romney long term? >> when you look at how mitt romney was losing three national surveys to newt gingrich this week, mitt romney has yet to secure a big strong foundation underneath him. this race remains largely what it was last august, anderson. volatile. that's the key word city. >> why drop out when you can wait and go to texas, hang out with paul begala and get 155 delegate votes. less than 10% of delegates have been selected. february is a weak month in terms of picking up delegates with the new rules on the republican side that often gives
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you a big bonus if you went over 50% and you get a little proporti proportionality. there's no reason for any of the candidates to drop out. >> you're saying like jeremiah johnson they can live off the land. >> i've known some candidates that's been able to live off the land and pick up a little bit of money along the way. we need to raise some money right now for rick santorum i guess. but the truth of the matter is, you have super tuesday on march 6. you have big states like new york and california still down the road. if mitt romney can buy his opponents out of the race perhaps he can get to 1144. that's the number of delegates needed to win. but otherwise i think it's going to be a lot more mayhem before we get to a real winner. >> oh, yeah. it's so volatile. we've had at least seven front runners and we're only on the third -- >> is there a question how mitt romney can do in other southern states besides florida? >> we'll see how he does
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particularly in the panhandle. these guys know better than i do, but republicans even you get in that panhandle it is basically alabama. miami is the sixth borough of new york city. i'm more interested in how mitt romney runs there. >> as strong a theater as this all is, though, let's not discount the power of winning. winning changes things. if somebody wins tonight, mitt romney, if he wins big, that does change national polls. people start looking at him percent, money follows victory. >> also gloria it's not just tonight if he wins, it's nevada. he's set up for the next couple of states in a very good position. >> sure he is. but don't forget newt gingrich here. he is one mad, angry candidate. he loves a fight. he's an insurgent. and he lives off of the skirmishes kind of. newt gingrich's problem is not only that the next couple of states favor mitt romney but also that he doesn't have a debate for a few weeks. and that's where he kind of tend
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to build his momentum. so that's going to be a little bit of a dry spell for him. but don't count out what most vats newt gingrich. i think his problem now is that he has to stop attacking romney personally and start turning this into a conservative crusade and try and get conservatives to rally around him. because now this is about something larger than newt gingrich himself. which he hasn't done. >> the other factor here is if newt and santorum stay in because they think they can beat mitt romney it helps mitt romney. as long as it's not a one on one race mitt romney has a strong chance. so his perceived weaknesses actually going to stretch this thing out in a way that helps mitt romney, too. this is the rubic's cube. >> a new ad attacks not mitt romney but newt gingrich. santorum helps romney stay. in gingrich does not. gingrich does not live off the land, he lives off vile and red
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bull. gingrich closed out this campaign in florida wonderfully in my eyes. he called his opponent governor romney breathlessly dishonest, despicable. he's coming unglued with these personal attacks. and will he be able to run on those fumes or will he kind of clean himself out? >> you say he lives on speed you mean moving fast? >> moving fast and getting revved up. i don't mean that literally. >> i want to come back to this point that i do believe as alex said if romney wins big tonight he puts that cloak of inevitability back on. he becomes a much much more likely nom knee. and the romney people i think are going to want to close this thing down. i talked to a somewhat major figure in the romney campaign today he said we're going to try to persuade him not to do more debates. we've had uneven results with that. we'll have to wait and see what happens. you've got to think about it from the romney point of view and a lot of established republicans, the longer this goes on, romney may continue to beat these guys but i think he
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weakens against president obama. during the process the last few weeks his negatives among independents have gone way up, and he's now running in the national polls he's running six to eight points behind president obama. >> in the last couple of months his negatives among independents have risen 20 pins 20 points. >> we've got to go back to john. >> glad you cleared up that speed thing with begala. much more exit poll information to share with you. fascinating comparisons including this question. compare south carolina to florida on when did the voters make up their minds. that's just ahead. this was the gulf's best tourism season in years. all because so many people came to louisiana... they came to see us in florida...
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welcome back to the cnn election center. just 22 minutes until most of the polls close in florida. most close at the top of the hour, some polling places in the panhandle are open at 8:00 p.m. the first results will start coming in in 20 minutes. florida the biggest state so far, most diverse state as well. erin burnett is here. television ads making a huge impact. a lot of complaints from speaker gingrich. break down. >> as you can see we can look at florida ads. so far 93% of the ads that have aired in florida have been negative. which i guess doesn't really surprise you but it's still shocking. who has spent all the money?
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obviously you can see this is just the candidates' campaigns themselves, mitt romney $5.25 million. newt gingrich only $716,000. now add in their superpacs, mitt romney and newt gingrich it's become more dramatic. you can see the split here. a lot of the tracking things we look at, cmag which tracks ad spending only tracks broadcast ad spending. a lot of people who care about local politics are watching cable and local television, those numbers get bigger. it has been mitt romney's state in terms of spending and in terms of negativity plenty to go around. when you look at florida, very interesting to see we've seen more than $2 million spent by democratic groups. unions, democratic national committee and president obama's re-election superpac have all spent money in florida against the republicans. >> so the democrats involved already. but that is mind-numbing. >> 13 million to 2.4 million.
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we know romney is ahead in the polls. there's one reason why, anderson, going to compete in florida or florida voters about to get a little break, respite from all these ads. 93%. but you know, they get a respite until september and october. >> then it all starts again. let's check in with eric erickson and roland martin in miami in south beach yet again at a bar. i don't know how they keep wrangling these assignments. eric erickson, is this a story just of newt gingrich being outspent in florida? what else went wrong for him in this state? >> you know, a lot went wrong. but i think the advertising has more to do with him than a lot of people want to credit. south carolina was the first race even including the 2008 races where the non-romney candidates were at parity with mitt romney. 15 to 3, 15 to 1? you can't keep up with that. florida is a huge media market. advertising in the state like florida is very necessary. you can't go door-to-door all over the state. if you can't even come close to
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parity, and that's not close at all, there's no way you can win. >> but also, anderson, we also have to own up to something. that is mitt romney had a strong infrastructure in this state. newt gingrich did not have a lot of money early on, so it's not like he had lots of boots on the ground. the bottom line is, if you're going to have a campaign team on the ground, putting out flyers, going door-to-door, getting volunteers you won't compete. take that with no money, guess what, expect a blowout. >> what are you going to be looking for in terms of voter turnout tonight, eric? >> you know, i want to see -- i suspect this is going to be the first race where women decisively vote against newt gingrich. because of the stories about marianne gingrich broke too soon for the south carolina election. we had that huge spike in polling for newt gingrich after south carolina. then it all went away. i think the voter realization had something to do with it. i'm very interested in where vaeng cals in the panhandle do. do they divide up evenly, go towards one candidate, split?
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i'm interested in that. also to see if newt plus santorum beat mitt romney. i don't think that's going to happen tonight. it will be an unusual, interesting situation since florida is more of a diverse more of a general election state than some of the states on super tuesday. >> the biggest thing i'm looking for, how does home foreclosures play when it comes to how folks voted. that is going to be a liability for president obama come the general election. his home foreclosure programs have not been successful. they are not been good. so if mitt romney has a chance to really solidify this state, if he wins a nomination that's going to be a critical issue come november. >> one last point here. i got into florida this morning. listening just to regular radio constantly heard a gingrich superpac ad. it was nothing but attacking mitt romney on abortion. which to me i realize the campaign in the superpac can't coordinate but you're running in florida and you're attacking mitt romney in south florida on abortion? i think newt gingrich's superpac needs to rethink how it's
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spending his money. >> newt might want to rethink his message. he's been all over the place in the past week. stop complaining about the media. you look ridiculous. >> we are going to the moon. >> he's gone to the moon. jackie gleason's hometown. >> we're going to be checking in with you guys throughout the evening. you'll have a fun time with that crowd behind you, i predict. enjoy. >> absolutely. >> john, i'm glad i'm here. >> we got to talk to the bosses about the bar assignments here. i'm not quite sure how this works out. as you can see from the clock here, most of the polls in florida close at the top of the hour. we're standing by. just moments after that the first raw votes come in. florida big for republicans tonight. also a make or break. could it be romney versus obama? republican versus obama matchup this fall. we'll break it down. this new at&t 4g lte is fast.
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inside 13 minutes at the top of the hour is when this map will start to fill in. the polls at most of the state start to close at the top of the hour. in the panhandle they close at 8:00. magic wall will begin to fill in with big results in our republican presidential primary. a fascinating comparison, this is south carolina. this was our last contest. when did people decide to vote? south carolina republicans, 38% decided just in the last few
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days before their election. 17% of south carolina republicans decided on election day. add that up right there. 55% decided in the last few days or in the day of the election. remember that. 55%. now let's look at florida. very, very different. 18% in the last few days just 9% on the day of the election. 27%. about half deciding late in florida as opposed to south carolina. look at this. 42% in florida decided before this month. not even this month. because you had absentee and early voting in florida. much more important dynamic. let's take a little bit closer again. you heard this from john zarrella again voters changing their mind as they went into the polling place. their number one issue can their candidate defeat barack obama in the fall. florida will be among the biggest battle ground. 45% of republican voters today say that is the most important qualityi quality, beating barack obama.
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57% of republicans say they're satisfied with gop candidates. in the fourth con test. 4 in 10 republicans today, anderson, say no, we'd like some other candidates. >> alex, what does that tell you? >> the easiest thing to do in politics is to did qualify your opponent negative ads. the hardest thing to do is be moses. that's really the job of a political lead for say follow me, the promised land is over here. lift your eyes over the horizon i'll take you there. mitt romney hasn't quite found a way yet to do that, even though he's won tactically maybe in florida, if these polls we've been seeing the last week, if he wins florida he's found a way to disqualify his opponent. but he has not found a way to win the heart of the republican party yet. now, this does change. victory changes everything. all of a sudden you get prettier and sexier and everybody wants to date the girl that just won the beauty contest. >> and it's not only that you
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get prettier and sexier, all which is the case. but in this year especially the unifying force will be opposition to barack obama and the heart felt republican desire to win back the white house. the power of president obama to unite what really has been a relatively dissatisfied republican electorate is tremendous. so that's the other going to ki this is over. >> so you are looking on pressure of gingrich and santorum the drop out? >> well, you have to keep it going until march, and you have to keep it going, but the cop trast from today and when the democrats went through the primary, both of the candidates got better in the eyes of the electorate, but in the cycle, the candidates are not. so what fixes that? the desire to beat barack obama rallies the base. >> and february may look like it has some activity, but it doesn't from inside of the campaign not that much. they are four small caucuses and two relatively small primaries ea contributing 1.25% of the
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delegates, but gloria is right, no debate activity. what does that mean? the man with the money, mitt romney, would have time to consolidate the campaign and develop strength for the big payoff super tuesday and what does newt gingrich or santorum have to do? well, gingrich has to go out to be more extreme and set his hair on fire to get the media attention and the more of course you do that, the more you marginalize yourself and disqualify yourself, and the presidency is about stability and strength and not about wandering all over the map and sending off moon rockets. >> and instead of spending his money troyi intrying to define and promote himself, he decided to spend all of the money, $13 million the demolishing a conservative, and basically making his negatives go up at the same time that newt gingrich's unfavorable has gone up. it is going to hurt him and hurt him in the general election and florida is a key state in the fall. i don't see how mitt romney come comes back to, you know, sort of
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giving a better image of himself when he has spent so much time demolishing a conservative opponent. >> we are minutes away from most of the polling places across florida closing. we will be watching for the early vote totals to come in, and we will bring them to you. we will be right back.
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with a little over four minutes before the polls close in most of florida. some polling places close in an hour, but we will begin to get the results in four minutes. republicans are looking at 50 delegates tonight, and that is the number the delegate basket, but obama looks at 29 electoral votes. jessica yellin is at the white house, and what are the lessons learned from the white house about the big battleground in november for florida? >> well, this could change the ball game come november, because it is crucial to the obama team give ten fan the fact that they lose some of the rust belt ip encolluding ohio and winning florida could mean the difference of keeping the white house or not. so they are looking at the hispanic vote which is important, but they are not voting tonight, so it is the hispanic vote that is going to be key especially. >> let me take a walk over to the magical wall, jess, and let me ask you, they have watched the polling and see that romney is leading all of the polling,
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but assume he is wins florida and yes or no calculation, but if he wins in florida, do they see him as the prohibitive favorite or march on for a while? >> they are not mutually exclusive, because they see him as the prohibitive favorite, and they are eating the popcorn and smiling for the fact, john. >> and the fact that jess mentioned the importance of the latino vote, and the darker the orange, the higher the percentage of the latinos, so down in miami, a lot of cuban populatio population, and latin americans, and so 2/3 of the vote national ly went president obama's way, and now he is down in the polling a little bit, but how worried are they if they lose a margin of the vote that it puts a state like this, back in 2008, that is the republican primary here with 51%, and a big obama win and how worried to go down a
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bit in latino vote, this is a tough state? >> if they go down, they are worried indeed, john. they are doing the absolute best, and you will see they will be aggressive about courting the latino vote by driving up as much as possible romney's negatives on this front. they are emphatic that this lead-up to the debate so far have put the republicans so far out on immigration especiallim rony that it would hurt him in the general election, john. and then on positions on foreclosures and other issues would also hurt him, and that is going to the come up in the general election. >> it will come up in the general election, but i was talking about the general democrats and let's talk about the economy with the 2.9 million u unemployed and you see this population up here east of naples, and down here, and this is when president obama took office and the shade of green, and you notice that florida is
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darker with the unemployment darker and unemployment up under president obama and they have to look at a that and realize they have a problem. >> that is the case and point that they don't want the election to be a referendum on president obama and the stewardship of the economy, but the contrasts of how the happenedle the economy in the future and for example, they want to point out that mitt romney's point is to let the market bottom out, and don't give the current homeowners money to bail them out, and the president e president's position is to help bail them out, and so that is the big battle, john. >> well, you mentioned the foreclosure foreclosures, and i will bring up the foreclosures filings and the darker the color, the higher the problem. you see down here is the area where the democrats win, and down here, jess, in the coast of miami and that is a huge democratic area where you is the highest foreclosure rate, and key for independents, tampa, and you see that governor romney's approach is to let the markets rule, but he has to defend his programs asel


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