NEW YORK (CNN) - The excitement is building, especially for the candidates. I could see that when I taped an interview today with Sen. Barack Obama for The Situation Room. We went through several substantive issues. He was certainly cool and collected when we spoke. But I could also see he was pumped.
I could see the same thing Sunday when I interviewed Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney. They have been working for so long to reach this pivotal point, and the pressure on them is clearly enormous. When the process began more than a year ago, there were certainly other prominent candidates out there, including Rudy Giuliani, Joe Biden, Bill Richardson, Chris Dodd, Fred Thompson, among others. But they fell aside, and we are now in the final stages of selecting the two parties’ nominees. The whittling-down process is almost complete.
The process could be completed on Super Tuesday – or not. That is now up to the millions and millions of voters out there who are getting ready to cast their ballots and in the process make history.
We have learned a great deal about the various candidates. We have also learned a lot about the primary and caucus process in recent weeks. And if the nomination process is still up in the air after tomorrow, we are about to learn a whole lot more. We will be learning about very complicated party rules, so-called superdelegates, and more.
If the polls are right – and that remains a big 'if' given some of our recent experiences – we are more likely to get finality on the Republican than the Democratic side. What I love about all of this is the uncertainty and unpredictability. Let’s get on to Super Tuesday.
Related video: Watch Wolf Blitzer's interview with Mitt Romney
Related video: Watch Wolf Blitzer's interview with Mike Huckabee
Related video: Watch Wolf Blitzer's interview with Barack Obama
–CNN Anchor Wolf Blitzer
(CNN) - One of Hillary Clinton's top advisers said Monday Barack Obama could make a good running mate if the New York senator is the Democratic Party's nominee.
Appearing on NY1's "Inside City Hall," Clinton Campaign Chairman Terry McAuliffe praised Barack Obama’s ability to “excite people,” adding that Clinton “needs to make sure the next, whoever the next vice president is, could take over if anything happened to her” - though he said it was too early to seriously discuss potential vice presidential picks.
When he was asked directly whether adding Obama to a Clinton ticket would be a good idea, he responded: “Sure it would. Absolutely. How could you deny consideration of someone who has excited so many people?”
NY1 is owned by Time Warner, the parent company of CNN.
At CNN's debate in Los Angeles Thursday, both candidates were asked about the possibility of a joint ticket, regardless of who held the top spot – a suggestion that prompted cheering from the audience. Both suggested it was too early to discuss potential running mates.
-CNN's Alexander Mooney
(CNN) – Republican presidential candidate John McCain said Monday, he owes his support in the presidential race to a successful troop surge in Iraq.
“If the surge had not succeeded I don’t think that I would have political viability,” the Arizona senator told CNN’s Dana Bash adding, most experts would agree with him.
The latest CNN/Opinion Research Corporation Poll shows 45 percent of registered Republican voters support McCain for their party’s nomination. Mitt Romney trails behind with 24 percent of support.
When questioned about recent criticism that he doesn’t have the temperament to be president, Sen. McCain used the opportunity to tout his conservative record and Republican support.
“We wouldn’t be winning these elections if I had any significant opposition anywhere in the party."
Related video: Watch a clip of Dana Bash's interview with Sen. McCain
- CNN’s Emily Sherman
ROMNEY PLANE, Nashville to Oklahoma City (CNN) – In the final hours before Super Tuesday, Mitt Romney is following the example John Edwards set when he campaigned for 36 straight hours before the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary.
Romney too will hit the road and take to the skies with his staff and the press in tow for the 36 hours before his Super Tuesday party in Boston Tuesday night.
Asked Sunday if this was his version of the Edwards campaigning marathon, “This is get every delegate that you can, every way that you possibly can,” Romney responded, “You have to be guided by where the delegates are.”
After a rally in Nashville Monday morning, Romney jetted off to Atlanta for an event and then boarded his plane to fly clear across the country to Long Beach, California for a single rally. Why go that far for barely an hour on the ground?
“I can tell you it’s a lot better than not going to California,” Romney told CNN, “If I win California, that means you’re going to have a conservative in the White House.”
Not wanting to squander any opportunity, Romney will hold a press conference at Oklahoma City’s airport while the plane is refueled on the way to the West coast.
After his appearance in Long Beach, he will once again climb the steps of the plane, this time bound for Charleston, West Virginia where he’ll arrive at 5am Tuesday morning.
NEW HAVEN, Connecticut (CNN) - Hillary Clinton became teary-eyed during an event at Yale University Monday - a moment that harkened back to her much talked-about display of emotion on the eve of the New Hampshire Primary.
Holding a campaign meeting at the Yale Child Study Center, the New York senator welled up as she was introduced by Penn Rhodeen, a public interest lawyer who worked with Clinton when she was in college.
Rhodeen praised Clinton's efforts as a college student and said, "Here is the abiding truth we know - you have always been a champion for children. Welcome home, dear friend. We are so proud of you."
Though it is difficult to see her reaction in footage of the event (see her reaction by clicking the play button on the right), Clinton's eyes appeared to grow misty during the introduction, according to CNN producer Sasha Johnson. When it was the senator's turn to speak she said, "Well, I said I would not tear up; already we're not exactly on the path."
Clinton's last teary moment on the trail occurred after an undecided voter asked how she was holding up. The moment instantly became the most-covered event on the campaign trail on the day before the critical New Hampshire primary, drawing both praise from some who said Clinton had finally bared her true self to voters, and criticism from those who thought the moment was calculated.
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- CNN Producers Alexander Mooney and Sasha Johnson
WASHINGTON (CNN) - John McCain, known for his superstitious tendencies on the campaign trail, joked Monday with reporters he's not ready to discuss what he'll do if he wins his party's nomination.
“I am superstitious, as I said earlier, and for me to start talking about what would happen after I win the nomination, when I have not won it yet, is in direct violation of my superstitious tenets,” the Arizona senator said to laughter at a campaign event in Hamilton, New Jersey.
McCain has long been known for his superstitious behavior: on the night of the New Hampshire primary, he stayed in the same hotel room as he did in 2000 – the year he overwhelmingly beat then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush there.
Among Republicans nationwide, McCain is currently 15 points ahead of his nearest competitor, Mitt Romney, according to the latest CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll, conducted February 1-3.
New Jersey is one of 21 states holding Republican primaries or caucuses Tuesday.
- CNN's Jeff Simon
(CNN)— One day after Sunday’s Giants victory in the Super Bowl and one day before the political super bowl, Super Tuesday, the presidential candidates draw distinctions between the two events.
In the latest installment of America Votes 2008, the fight for Super Tuesday intensifies along with the candidates’ shots against one another.
Related: Listen to CNN's Bob Costantini look ahead to Super Tuesday with Political Analyst Stuart Rothenberg.
NEW YORK (CNN) - Former New York Gov. George Pataki – who once led the fight to keep John McCain off the presidential primary ballot in the state – endorsed the Arizona senator’s White House bid Monday in New York City.
The former governor had largely faded from political life since abandoning plans for a presidential run of his own last year.
In 2000, Pataki – one of President Bush’s chief New York supporters – said that McCain had not met the state’s stiff ballot access requirements, and that they could not be waived. After protracted legal discussions between attorneys for the Arizona senator and the state party, he ultimately abandoned that position in time for McCain to appear on the ballot.
–CNN Associate Political Editor Rebecca Sinderbrand
BOSTON (CNN) - Former Republican presidential nominee Bob Dole on Monday wrote conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh defending John McCain as a "mainstream conservative" who had supported the party on critical votes during Dole's time as the Senate Republican leader.
The letter, obtained by CNN from a Republican source close to Dole, includes a voting comparison that suggests McCain's voting record compares favorably to that of the longtime conservative icon Sen. Jesse Helms of North Carolina.
Dole in the letter said he remains neutral in the GOP contest and spoke kindly of all three remaining leading GOP candidates. But the letter comes at a time Limbaugh is trying to rally grassroots conservative support against McCain.
"Whoever wins the Republican nomination will need your enthusiastic support," Dole wrote in the letter. "Two terms for the Clintons are enough."
–CNN Chief National Correspondent John King
(full text of the letter follows after the jump)
During a rally in Los Angeles, Winfrey said, "Every part of me believes in the empowerment of women. But the truth is I'm a free woman. Being free means you get to think for yourself and you get to decide for yourself what to do." She said women who had already planned to vote for someone else – that would mean Hillary – had "the right to change their mind."
Winfrey described how she was criticized by some women after she campaigned for Obama in Iowa. She says they called her a traitor to her gender.
Oprah participated in a huge rally for Barack Obama yesterday along with Michelle Obama, Caroline Kennedy and Maria Shriver – wife of California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
This is all part of a push by the Obama campaign to reach out to women voters. That's because women are expected to make up about 55% of Democratic primary voters. And in a state like California, where Obama has now come within striking distance of Clinton, more support from women could make the difference.
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