blitzer_11-4.BMPMultiple people throughout the CNN newsroom were using the phrase “calm before the storm,” at 5:30pmET last night.

The BPTOT was gathering on the edge of the newsroom as anchor Wolf Blitzer interviewed former New York City Mayor Rudy Guiliani. Conservative commentator Alex Castellanos and Democratic commentator Paul Begala compared ties (they wore opposite colors). “It’s kind of a George W. Bush tie,” teased Castellanos of Begala’s blue tie.

A few dozen feet away, Soledad O’Brien and Bill Schneider are being given some final training on the huge Voter Analysis screen. The screen breaks down exit polls in what seems to be an unlimited number of combinations. CNN’s political director Sam Feist stops by to watch the preparations. “Isn’t that cool?” he says. “It’s what we’ve always wanted.”

For Castellanos, this was his first election night on the media side of the equation. There’s good chemistry here,” he says. “I didn’t think I’d find a better place to watch the election.”

Overall, he wasn’t confident about the night. You may find me at the bar at Midnight,” he said. Then he was reminded he would have to be on the air at Midnight. “This is the only bar I’ve ever been at where you sit for seven hours with no booze,” he joked.

We also asked both Castellanos and James Carville about their bet regarding the Louisiana Senate race. Both seemed confident in their candidates before the results. In the end, Castellanos owes Carville some dinner. “I hope Democrats don’t eat much,” he said last night.

Related: The New York Times’ Brian Stelter gives the late-night behind-the-scenes at CNN…

Below, a look at the CNN Grill on the 10th floor of the Time Warner center (before it became packed), and after the jump, more pictures from CNN’s newsroom:



Click continued to see more pictures of the night…

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