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PAULA ZAHN NOW

Lawyers Preparing For Election Day; Winning the Terror War; Legal Challenges Already Posed for Elections

Aired October 20, 2004 - 20:00   ET

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


PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening and welcome to PRIME TIME POLITICS. Glad to have you with us tonight, just 13 days until this election.
And each candidate says his opponent would make the world a more dangerous place. Tonight, you're going to hear why some experts in the struggle against terror say it will take more blood, money, and time than either side will admit. And in this super tight election year, a new voting bloc flexes its political muscle. They are Muslim and they vote.

And there's a pretty good chance it won't be over on Election Day. Legions of lawyers are promising a knockdown, drag-out fight for every ballot. This year, the fat lady is in no hurry to sing.

And we begin tonight on the campaign trail in Waterloo, Iowa. With high-ranking military officers, a former CIA director and a 9/11 widow standing by, Senator Kerry launched an attack on President Bush's handling of the war on terror and Iraq.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN (voice-over): The Kerry campaign had promised the senator would deliver a major speech on national security. Kerry singled out the president's tactics and his treatment of allies in building the coalition that invaded Iraq.

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: the president says he's a leader. Well, Mr. President, look behind you. There's hardly anyone there. It's not leadership if we haven't built the strongest alliance possible and if America is going almost alone.

ZAHN: Kerry also said the U.S. missed a chance to take out Iraqi insurgent leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi before the Iraq war.

KERRY: In fact, Zarqawi was operating out of a no-man's-land in northeast Iraq next to territory controlled by America's Kurdish allies, not by Saddam. He and his terrorist allies were reportedly producing ricin, a horrific biological weapon. And you know what? We could have but did not take them out. That was a terrible mistake that this administration has never explained.

ZAHN: Also stumping in Iowa, the president harshly criticized the senator's plan to fight terror and also invoked the name of the Iraqi insurgent leader to defend his own policies. GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Just the other day, Zarqawi publicly announced his sworn allegiance to Osama bin Laden. If Zarqawi and his associates were not busy fighting American forces in Iraq, does Senator Kerry think he would be leading a productive and peaceful life? Of course not. And that's why Iraq is no diversion, but a central commitment in the war on terror.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: And joining me now from Arlington, Virginia, former Montana Governor Marc Racicot, chairman of Bush's reelection campaign, and from Milwaukee tonight, former New Hampshire Governor Jeanne Shaheen, chairwoman of Senator Kerry's campaign.

Great to have both of you with us tonight. Good evening.

JEANNE SHAHEEN, JOHN KERRY CAMPAIGN CHAIR: Thank you.

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: Governor Racicot, I would like to start with you this evening.

You heard some excerpts of John Kerry's speech from earlier today. He came down very hard on the president for not showing leadership in Iraq and it particularly pointing to what he says is the in the coalition. And just recently, General Tommy Franks, one of the chief architects of the military plan, told me he wished there had been more countries that had participated in this effort. Why isn't that a failure of President Bush's leadership?

MARC RACICOT, BUSH-CHENEY CAMPAIGN CHAIRMAN: Well, there are 30 nations involved in the coalition to this day. It's a very broad coalition.

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: But you're talking about countries, Governor, that you know have contributed little in terms of money and little, as some might argue, in terms of manpower.

RACICOT: Well, that's not altogether true.

The commitments of these countries are significant and very substantial. They are our allies. And the continual effort to denigrate their contribution and refer to what it is that they're doing as a profound diversion, when it is a central focus of the war on terror, is no way to demonstrate your capacity to be commander in chief. And the fact of the matter is, all of NATO is involved now in training and providing support to all of the efforts ongoing for democracy to be embraced in Iraq. That's the simple truth.

Senator Kerry's position today, here we are 13 days away from the election and he's still trying to give us a comprehensible position on Iraq? His position on Iraq is nothing more than a riddle. It is hard to guess from day to day what it is that his position is going to be. So being loud and noisy and standing up and talking tough is no substitute ultimately for being able to supply the character to serve as commander in chief.

ZAHN: But, Governor, in your answer is no acknowledgement of criticism even coming from General Tommy Franks, who thinks the coalition would have been a lot more effective if you could have drawn in more powerful allies with a greater amount of financial involvement and military involvement.

RACICOT: General Tommy Franks mentioned the fact that he wished there had been more allies. Of course you wish that it would be universal, that virtually every civilized nation on the planet found the fortitude and the capacity to enter into this effort and had the vision. That's what he was referring to.

He did not denigrate the coalition that joined the United States of America in ridding the world of Saddam Hussein and his atrocious crimes against humanity, his capacity to produce weapons of mass destruction, his intention to wreak havoc through the evils of terrorism.

ZAHN: Governor Shaheen, let's come back to some of the criticisms of your candidate. There are a lot of potential voters out there that are very confused about where John Kerry is on this war. They think he's had highly contradictory marks out there on the campaign trail, calling it the wrong war at the wrong time, and yet saying as commander in chief, obviously he -- or as a member of Congress, he believed the president should have the authority to go to the war.

He has a lot of explaining to do to the voters. What would help them better understand what his position actually is?

SHAHEEN: Well, I think Governor Racicot said it very well when he said that it's not enough just to stand up and proclaim how strong you are, which is what we have seen George Bush do, but you need to have a comprehensive policy on how you conduct the war.

John Kerry has been very strong about that from the very beginning. He said we need to build an international coalition and we need a president who can do that. This president has failed at that.

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: But there you go denigrating the same coalition that the governor says that Senator Kerry is guilty of denigrating.

SHAHEEN: No, you didn't let me finish.

This coalition is beginning to come apart. It has not provided the troops and the support that we need. NATO has committed 300 people to go into Iraq and help with training and preparation for the elections. That's not a real commitment. We need somebody to sit down in those foreign capitals, as the first George Bush did before the first Iraq war. We need Secretary Powell, the secretary of state, to go to those capitals and really through diplomacy enlist assistance.

This president has failed to do that. He also has failed to train the kind of Iraqi security forces that we need to help stabilize the situation there, to enlist the Iraqis in the reconstruction efforts, rather than turning those all over to Halliburton. That's what John Kerry is talking about. And he's also talking about the need here at home to address terrorism.

ZAHN: All right, I want to move back to this issue of Iraq with Governor Racicot for a moment.

John Kerry also said today that the president was in denial about the issue of Iraq. And last night, Reverend Pat Robertson was on our broadcast just about this time last evening. And this is what he had to say about the president in reference to how he viewed casualties in this potential war. Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAT ROBERTSON, AUTHOR, "COURTING DISASTER": I warned him about this war. I had deep misgivings about this war, deep misgivings. And I was trying to say, Mr. President, you better prepare the American people for casualties.

Oh, no, we're not going to have any casualties.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: The White House responded today by saying this: "The president never made such a comment."

And then Reverend Robertson himself released a statement, Governor, without addressing the dispute, saying only, "During my appearance on CNN's PAULA ZAHN NOW yesterday, I began and ended with my warm endorsement and praise of President Bush. I am persuaded that he will win this election and prevail on the war against terror in order to keep America safe from her avowed enemies."

But the point that he made last night rather harshly is, when he expressed misgivings about going into this war and his fear of casualties, he said the president said, don't worry about that. There aren't going to be any casualties

RACICOT: Well, the president stated for the record precisely what happened. The statement wasn't made.

And consider the logic of it for a moment. Just think. You know that you're sending troops into battle. You know that it is dangerous and perilous and difficult to commit them to that effort. And you know, of course, that like all efforts like this, that there is a high potential. Consider the logic of having made that statement.

But the president settled that matter very plainly today. He said the statement wasn't made. And there's no refutation of that.

ZAHN: Governor Shaheen, I'm going to close with you this evening about one of the charges John Kerry is making, that this administration blew it by not getting Ayman Zarqawi. And the administration basically saying that no one knew exactly where he was. Is it fair for the senator to say what he's saying on the campaign trail?

SHAHEEN: I think so.

It is fair for him also to point out that when they had the chance this administration took their eye off the ball and did not get Osama bin Laden either. The fact is, this president, George Bush, has refused to acknowledge what the situation is on the ground in Iraq. He has not been true with the American people. And they watch their television. They read the paper. They see what is happening on the ground in Iraq.

We are not winning that war right now. We need a leader who can get plan for the peace, who can help stabilize the situation there, who understand how to build an international coalition and what we need to do. That's what John Kerry is talking about. And George Bush has failed at that.

ZAHN: We have to leave it there.

The two of you, Governor Racicot, Governor Shaheen, thank you for both of your perspectives tonight. Appreciate it.

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: And still ahead, what the candidates do and don't tell you about their plans to fight terrorism and why many people think the election will not be over November 3.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN (voice-over): Voter turnout is anybody's guess. But armies of attorneys are already on the march.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the worst possible nightmare. Lawyers will fight over every provisional ballot as if it were a recount.

ZAHN: Again, the path to the White House runs through the courtroom.

And deja vu for Democrats, a tight race and one man may just tip the scale.

RALPH NADER (I), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The Democrats should be landsliding George W. Bush.

ZAHN: Making Democrats want to scream.

HOWARD DEAN (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Enough is enough already with Ralph Nader.

ZAHN: Tonight, my interview with Ralph Nader. And our voting booth question of the day: On November 3, will it be clear who the next president is? Vote on our Web site, CNN.com/Paula. The results coming up this hour, along with more PRIME TIME POLITICS.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: As we heard before we went to the break, President Bush and Senator Kerry sparred again today over terrorism, but does either candidate have a realistic plan for dealing with it?

Here's national security correspondent David Ensor.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ENSOR: Though they disagree about how to go about it, both candidates promise to defeat terrorism.

BUSH: ... have a vision and a strategy to win the war on terror.

KERRY: And I just outlined a strategy for victory.

ENSOR: But terrorism experts say in public at least both men are badly underestimating the challenge. The battle against Islamic terrorists, they say, will take much longer than one presidency.

MAGNUS RANSTORP, UNIVERSITY OF ST. ANDREWS: I think this is a ceaseless struggle. It's not a war on terrorism. I think it will go on for decades.

STEVEN SIMON, RAND CORPORATION: The terrorist threat is probably a generational one, which means it will take a number of years to burn out, during which time the terrorists may gain access to weapons of mass destruction.

ENSOR: All the experts we spoke to expect additional major terrorist plots against the U.S. All say the U.S. is not doing enough. All stress that American troops must be kept in Iraq for years to come.

Rohan Gunaratna leads a Singapore institute on terrorism.

ROHAN GUNARATNA, INSTITUTE OF DEFENSE AND STRATEGIC STUDIES: The United States must remain in Iraq as long as it takes, because today the center of gravity of international terrorism has shifted to Iraq.

ENSOR: And that, Gunaratna says, may be five years or more.

(on camera): The experts urge President Bush or Senator Kerry, whoever wins, to dramatically increase assistance, financial if needed and security, for friendly helpful Muslim governments that are under pressure.

(voice-over): President Karzai of Afghanistan, the Saudi royal family, the Iraqi leadership, President Musharraf of Pakistan.

RANSTORP: The potential of al Qaeda as a movement, as an ideology to incubate a state and potentially capture a state, Saudi, Pakistan, that would change the entire complexion of the Middle East.

ENSOR: Many experts urge the election winner to adopt what they call a more even-handed approach to the Palestinians and their conflict with Israel in order to diminish a key terrorist recruiting tool.

For the same reason, they urge freedom or trials for the prisoners being held in Guantanamo Bay. The experts expect a long war on terrorism in part because of a massive baby boom some years back in the developing world.

SIMON: There are many Muslims right now who are in adolescence and approaching maturity who have been raised on a diet of militancy and extreme anti-Americanism.

GUNARATNA: They have to change their thinking. The Western population is only 25 percent of the global population, but they enjoy 70 percent of the wealth. They must share some of that wealth with the poor countries, with the poor people of this world, so that the rest can live peacefully.

ENSOR: Despite the promise of both presidential candidates to win the war on terror, the experts we spoke to predict Americans could face decades of living with terror long after whoever wins is no longer in the White House.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: And joining me now from Washington with a look at what the candidates do and don't say about the U.S. commitment in Iraq, let's turn to CNN contributor and "TIME" columnist Joe Klein.

Always good to see you, Joe.

JOE KLEIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Hi, Paula. Good to be back.

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: Thank you.

We heard David talking a little bit about the expectations of these experts, that these troops are going to have to say in Iraq for many years to come. How truthful are either candidates on this front?

KLEIN: Well, let's start with the question of the military draft. They both say that there won't be a draft. And there probably won't be because the uniformed military hates the idea of a draft. They love an all-volunteer Army.

But what neither candidate is saying is that more troops are going to be needed in Iraq. They are needed right now in order to calm things down in advance of -- and secure the country in advance of the elections that may or may not take place or are supposed to take place in January. So where do you get these troops? The question is, do you use international troops? Kerry says we need more allies. Bush would probably agree with him, but he also says we already have a coalition of allies.

What the truth is, is that not many countries -- no countries have expressed any great desire to join us in Iraq now that the place is a mess. And the thing that neither of them is saying is that the toughest job for the next president is going to be to keep the coalition that we already have on board. A lot of these countries or at least several of these countries are now running out of their commitment to remain there, and they want to leave.

So what about more American troops? Both candidates say we have to stay the course, that we can't just abandon Iraq, because you'll have chaos there. What they don't say is that we're so overstretched right now that it is hard to send more troops. And what they also don't tell you and what several generals have told me recently is that it is going to be hard to even keep the current troop levels, 130,000 troops, on the ground in Iraq especially after next spring, when there's a major rotation out.

So they are saying that we need to train a lot more Iraqi troops and the question is whether we're going to able to do that.

ZAHN: And do we know potentially how many more American troops you're talking about?

KLEIN: Well, there are some who say that we could throw a couple more divisions. That's about 40,000 troops in there to try and secure the country before the elections. There are others who say you could do that, but they're not really ready, that, as Kerry said in the debates, most of them are either on their way there, coming back from there or there.

And they need some time to rest and get retrained and reequipped. So it's a very, very, very difficult situation. And I haven't heard anybody talking about how we're going to get out of it.

ZAHN: Joe, I want to move on to an issue that has far less impact, but it certainly got a lot of attention today. And that's the issue of Teresa Heinz Kerry referring to the first lady in an interview -- we're going to put up the quote up now -- where she says, "I don't know if she's ever had a real job, I mean since she's been a grownup."

Today, Teresa Heinz Kerry issued this statement: "I had forgotten that Mrs. Bush had worked as a schoolteacher and librarian. There couldn't be a more important job than teaching our children. I appreciate and honor Mrs. Bush's service to the country as first lady and I am sincerely sorry I had not remembered her important work in the past."

Does that make Teresa look like she's out of touch?

KLEIN: Well, yes. There's a more important job than teaching our children, and that's raising our children.

And I think that she succeeded probably in alienating an awful lot of moms who stay at home and raise their kids. Now, you remember that during the primaries in 1992 Hillary Clinton had a moment like this where she said that she didn't stay home to bake cookies and serve lemonade. And that didn't go over so well either.

At this point in this campaign, anything that detracts from what John Kerry wants his message to be is a bad thing for John Kerry and anything that hurts his appeal to women voters is a bad thing as well.

ZAHN: Particularly after he has gained some of those that he had lost there weeks back.

Joe Klein, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

KLEIN: My pleasure.

ZAHN: And in this first presidential election after 9/11 and the war on terror, a new group of voters is testing its political power. What it takes to win the Muslim vote when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: One way of looking at this election is as competition for blocs of voters, men, women, blacks, whites, Latinos, Christians, Jews, and Muslims. And according to the census, there are about one million Muslims in the U.S.

And as our Octavia Nasr reports, their allegiance may have shifted since the 2000 race.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

OCTAVIA NASR, CNN SR. EDITOR FOR ARAB AFFAIRS (voice-over): Muslims are called to the (SPEAKING ARABIC) the midday prayer at their local mosque in Michigan.

But the traditional call to prayer these days is also a call to vote.

IMAM HASSAN QAZWINI, ISLAMIC CENTER OF AMERICA: Your vote is your voice. And this is how we can influence the politics of this country.

NASR: This is the first presidential election since the attacks of September 11 and since the United States invaded two Islamic countries. American Muslims are more aware than ever of U.S. policies that personally affect them. Imam Hassan Qazwini is getting the word out to his congregation that their vote counts.

QAZWINI: Muslims should have incentive to participate. And, therefore, it is highly crucial for both, for the Democrats and the Republicans, to create that center for Muslims to participate.

NASR: That accounts for drives in mosques like this one in Detroit, which is home to one of the largest American Muslim populations in the United States.

(on camera): Who are you going to vote for?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Bush.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Most likely Kerry.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is the kind of the lesser of two evils, but I am going to vote for Kerry.

NASR: Professor Ronald Stockton of the University of Michigan at Dearborn recently studied the Detroit area's Arab American community.

RONALD STOCKTON, UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN: No. 1, they are issue voters. There are certain issues that concern them. They pay attention to those issues and they follow those issues.

No. 2, they are swing voters. They will move from one party to the other to get what they want in a candidate. And thirdly, which is very interesting, they vote.

NASR: In the 2000 presidential election, large numbers of American Muslims voted Republican. That was after then Governor Bush made a concerted effort to win Muslim voters by campaigning against racial and religious profiling.

BUSH: Arab Americans are racially profiled on what is called secret evidence. People are stopped, and we have got to do something about that.

NASR: In Livonia, Michigan, Nasi (ph) and Sane Hatib (ph), as well as their eldest son, Nather (ph), all voted for President Bush in the 2000 election.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nather, Sane, come on for dinner.

NASR: They tell me a lot has changed since then.

(on camera): Are you all going to vote?

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

NASR: Everybody? Really?

(voice-over): They feel the president has let them down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A lot of promises that President Bush made at the time, they were not fulfilled.

NASR (on camera): Give me an example?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He said secret evidence, we're going to do away with secret evidence. And the Arab and the Muslim community jumped up because that was a huge concern. NASR: After September 11, the Bush administration adopted measures like the Patriot Act to expand law enforcement powers to interrogate and detain American Muslims and then there are the special registrations and the deportations.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Anybody could have something against Arabs or Muslims and he sees somebody like me that looks like Arabs and he might say something.

STOCKTON: And if you think Arab Americans are not doing what they can to fight terrorism, then you're not very sympathetic to their concerns about civil liberties.

NASR: The war in Iraq is also a concern for the Hatib family. Nather is a senior airman in the United States Air Force.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I expect that we want to have democracy in Iraq. But when I see all these young men, and my son could have been one of them, go there and exposing their lives to danger not knowing what is going to happen next, it just is scary.

NASR: While his father is worried, Nather still might vote for the president.

(on camera): Do you know who you're going to vote for?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am leaning more towards Bush, despite what my family is doing and most of my friends.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, actually, we have a democracy.

NASR (voice-over): Nasi feels neither party has reached out to the American Muslim community.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The feeling I have is that, throughout their campaigns, they have pretty much avoided our community, to address issues that concern us the most.

NASR: Still, a recent poll by Zogby International shows overwhelming support for John Kerry by American Muslim voters, not so much because the senator has won them over, but because the president has lost them.

QAZWINI: It seems that their choices are much more difficult than the previous election. They have those problems with President Bush, yet Kerry didn't show enough attraction to them. Yet, I know that Muslims will participate in this election. And they present a major and substantial vote in this country.

NASR: A vote that American Muslims pray will give voice to a community that has been ignored.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: That was Octavia Nasr. It may seem incredible, but with the election day still on the horizon, the vote is already under legal challenge. The lawsuits are flying. What that means for election night coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: Here we find ourselves 13 days before the election, 13 days before we'll know whether any recounts will be necessary. Yet tens of thousands of volunteers and thousands of lawyers are already standing up or by to challenge the results.

And in a dozen states, Democrats and Republicans have already filed lawsuits over provisional ballots, electronic voting machines and more.

And tonight in our series, "Making Your Vote Count," senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin looks at how both sides are getting ready for the next Florida.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST (voice-over): Tania Clay didn't have to remind these volunteers in Houston about what happened in Florida.

TANIA CLAY, PEOPLE FOR THE AMERICAN WAY: We all know about Florida.

TOOBIN: But she knew it would serve as a call to arms.

CLAY: We know about a lot of the problems that were encountered by elderly voters by the hanging chads.

TOOBIN: A call to avoid another election from being decided in another controversial Florida-like recount.

The call has been answered in classrooms and church halls from Texas to New York, from Washington to points west. Thousands of volunteers are taking classes on every election right that could become an election wrong.

JONAH GOLDMAN, LAWYERS COMM. FOR CIVIL RIGHTS: Until you press that "register my vote" button you can call a poll worker over and have them cancel that ballot.

TOOBIN: And preparing to head off to battleground states like Florida yet again, ready for the legal war that begins November 2.

DOUG CHAPIN, ELECTIONLINE.ORG: You hear talk of so-called SWAT teams of state based lawyers who will be available to go to courtrooms.

TOOBIN: Many of the volunteers are lawyers schooled in the latest local election laws. Others are poll watchers or people who say they're helping other people vote. They come from groups like People for the American Way, Americans Coming Together and Election Protection. Some were formed by Democratic Party sympathizers after the 2000 vote recount.

DENNIS ARCHER, PAST PRESIDENT, AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION: Here's my message to those Republican operatives, the few that there are, who have heretofore dealt in voter intimidation. Don't even try it.

TOOBIN: The Republicans refuse to answer that charge, but lawyers from both parties will face off in places like Florida, where in many places those troublesome butterfly ballots have been replaced by controversial electronic voting machines.

In Ohio more than 70 percent of voters will still be voting on punch card ballots. And both parties have attorneys in every county of Pennsylvania, where election officials say, old-fashioned voting machines and an overload of voter registrations could cause problems.

GOLDMAN: Across the country there will be about 25,000 volunteers participating in the program including over 5,000 legal volunteers.

TOOBIN: The volunteer effort is also fueled by the belief that November 2 will not be the end of election 2004. Consider that this is the first election in which every state must let people vote with provisional or paper ballots if their names can't be found on local voting rolls.

But the rules on who can use them and how they're counted vary from state to state.

MILES RAPOPORT, NON-PARTISAN VOTER ADVOCATES: This is the worst possible nightmare. You can imagine a situation where that happens and the margin of victory is exceeded by the number of professional ballots that it will be weeks trying to figure out who won in that state because the lawyers will fight over every provisional ballot as if it were a recount.

TOOBIN: Democrat Henry Berger has trained more than 700 New York lawyers, all headed for battleground states.

HENRY BERGER, NY COUNCIL, KERRY 2004: I think when the voters wake up on November 3 they're going to read newspapers that say that either Bush or Kerry could win the election, that there are three or four states that have not yet been decided and that challenges will continue for several days until all the ballots get counted.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: And joining me now from Washington, two people who fought on opposite sides of the Florida recount. Former U.S. Solicitor General Theodore Olson, who was a member of the Bush legal team four years ago, and from the Gore legal team, attorney David Boies, whose latest book is called "Courting Justice: From the New York Yankees v. Major League Baseball to Bush v. Gore."

You would have to remind us of the Yankees, wouldn't you, Mr. Boies?

Ted, I'm going start with you this evening. Given these obvious legal challenges, what are the chances we'll have a president on election night?

THEODORE OLSON, FORMER U.S. SOLICITOR: Well, I hope that we do. I suspect that David does the same.

We -- I always talk about what happened the last time around, and well, there have been many close elections and there was -- it took a long time to get a result in the last election. I hope that the systems that are in place and the people that are there, the lawyers on both sides, will respect the rights of the others.

If the rules that are in place on election day are followed and if people pay attention when they exercise their right to vote, there is some possibility, at least, that there won't be drawn out legal battles. I hope that will be the case.

ZAHN: Do you think there is a legitimate legal basis, David, for these allegations flying on both sides?

DAVID BOIES, AUTHOR, "COURTING JUSTICE": I think there are always allegations, particularly in a election that's as divided as this is. And I think there is some substance. I think there are problems on the Democratic side, and I think there are probably problems on the Republican side.

ZAHN: Lay out the problems on the Democratic side briefly?

BOIES: Well, I think -- I think in each case you have partisan election officials who are trying to move things in one direction or another.

But I agree with Ted, though, that if the rules are followed on election day, I think we've got a real good chance of avoiding this kind of controversy. I think there's one problem, and that's professional ballots.

ZAHN: Right. That's big "if."

BOIES: That's a big "if." And the problem with professional ballots is that there isn't any efficient way to get that resolved quickly. If the margin of victory is less than the number of provisional ballots, you've got to go through each one of those professional ballots.

And it's a timing problem. It's a great idea in concept, but in actuality and practicality, it could be a problem.

ZAHN: So let's talk about, Ted, what kind of problems do you think it could be.

OLSON: Well, I think that David put his finger on it. If the election is close and there are a greater number of these so-called provisional ballots than there are margin of victory, then that's going to be an issue.

However, if there are consistent rules ahead of time -- some of the states have been arguing about whether you can cast a provisional ballot in a precinct where you don't live. Or there are other types of issues with respect to how they will be counted.

If election officials, and with the assistance, perhaps, with judges in some instances, decide what the rules are with respect to the counting of those ballots, they can be counted quickly, just like paper ballots used to be quickly.

So I'm hopeful that that will not be a problem in many areas. And again if both sides and election officials agree upon the rules ahead of time before anyone knows what the outcome is going to be and that those rules are then followed, that will tend to minimize the possibility of problems.

ZAHN: But David, you had just said a minute or two ago that many of these election officials are fiercely partisan. You can't remove that from the equation, can you?

BOIES: You can't. You can't. But Ted makes exactly the right point. If you fix the rules ahead of time before you know how it's going to come out and then you follow those rules, then everybody can have confidence in the process.

That's why I think it's so important that on these kinds of issues the state election officials decide now what rules are going to apply. Because there are lots of rules that could go either way. And it's less important which way they go than that you know ahead of time what those rules are.

ZAHN: So Ted, do you think you're going to be facing off against David Boies again?

OLSON: Well, I'd be afraid to do that.

ZAHN: In Florida?

OLSON: David Boies is an extraordinarily talented lawyer, and I have to say I haven't been able to get his book because so many people are buying it it's flying off the bookshelves in the bookstores.

But if we do, I know that it will be the kind of dispute that will be conducted the same way this time it was last time, with the greatest respect for one another.

I want to say one more thing with respect to these election officials. The last election taught those officials that if it is close, everything that they do, everything they do and their actions will be seen on television...

ZAHN: Sure.

OLSON: ... on CNN or C-SPAN or the other networks, and I think election officials know now that they have to conduct themselves in an upright fashion or people are going to be critical of them.

ZAHN: That's a very good point. They know the scrutiny is coming. Ted Olson, thanks for joining us tonight. Somehow I think there may be a free book coming your way because of your generosity toward your former sparring partner.

David Boies, thank you for dropping by tonight.

BOIES: Thank you.

ZAHN: There is another wild card the Democrats face this year. Stop me if you've heard this before, but the Nader campaign is worrying Democrats. Ralph Nader is my guest right after this.

And don't forget to weigh in on our "Voting Booth" question of the day: "On November 3 will it be clear who the next president is?" Vote now at CNN.com/Paula.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: Ralph Nader is on the ballot in 34 states, plus the District of Columbia. Polls show him drawing no more than single digits, and low single digits at that.

Yet, his very presence in certain states could affect the outcome of a Bush-Kerry race. In 14 states the race is so close that either the president or the senator could win. Ralph Nader is on the ballot in 11 of those so-called battleground states.

In addition to making his third run for the White House, Ralph Nader has a new book out. It is called "The Good Fight." He joins me tonight from Washington.

Welcome. Always good to see you, sir.

RALPH NADER (I), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you.

ZAHN: You have admitted that you can't win this. Do you think it will make any difference who's, elected George Bush or John Kerry?

NADER: Not that much. Certainly not as much as the American people deserve.

We're the underdog candidate. And we're speaking for tens of millions of American underdogs who are pushed around, underpaid, denied health care, defrauded, often injured, ignored and excluded while they do the daily work of the country.

I mean, have you ever asked the people who clean your offices, Paula, how much they make, whether they have benefits at all? We've got to face up to the two parties that are more and more proxies for big business that has turned Washington into corporate occupied territory.

ZAHN: The one thing you can't ignore, though, is the chorus out there begging you not to run. Here is what Terry McAuliffe had to say, the chairman of the Democratic Party, about your run.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TERRY MCAULIFFE, CHAIRMAN, DNC: This nation cannot afford four more years of George Bush on these key issues of corporate governance, these key issues of the environment. Ralph, I'm appealing to you. Please help us. We have got to beat George Bush.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: In addition to that, a web site has been set up soliciting donations to encourage you to get out and give the money to a fund of your choice. Your former vice president running mate now has said that she will vote her conscience. She will vote for John Kerry.

Aren't you getting their message?

NADER: No. Because I'm getting another message from 45 million people who don't have health insurance coverage. Eighteen thousand of them die every year, according to the prestigious Institute of Madison.

Or the 47 million workers who don't make a living wage. Wal-Mart wages, $6, $7, $8, $9, less than $10 an hour. Or the increase in child poverty or the devastation of the inner city, where Democratic mayors don't lift a finger to crack down on the economic crimes against these unfortunate people.

Not to mention all kinds of other things that aren't discussed by the two parties, Paula. The failed war on drugs, the hundreds of billions of dollars from small taxpayers to corporate subsidies, handouts, giveaways, the bloated military budget when we no longer have a major enemy, no more Soviet Union.

There are a lot of things. Cracking down on corporate crime. Where's Kerry on that? He's supposed to be a former prosecutor. They're even restricting people's rights to access through the courts when they're wrongfully injured.

You get the idea? That there's a huge area out there where people want more voices and choices, even though the two parties have rigged the system from valid access barrier assaults like Terry McAuliffe, who's directing, all the way to exclusion from the debates, which 57 percent of the American people want me on, according to a Zogby poll.

ZAHN: Let's take a look at some other numbers now. First in the 2000 election and some more recent numbers.

This is our exit polling from the year 2000, suggesting more than two out of three of your voters would have supported Al Gore if you hadn't been in the race.

And then looking at our current polls the pattern remains the same. Two out of three that currently support you would switch their vote to Kerry, not Bush, if you left the race. Do you acknowledge that you hurt John Kerry's chances of winning here?

NADER: No more than if he loses he hurt his chances far more by not adopting some of these necessities of the American people. They haven't even actively registered nine million African-American voters, the Democrats, 90 percent of whom would vote for the Democrats.

This is a decadent party, scapegoating small parties, Green Parties, independent candidates like the Nader-Camejo ticket. You know, in a sound bite journalism world, confronting big bite injustices, Paula, I've got to ask your viewers to log into our web site, VoteNader.org, to get the depth and the horizon and the commitment of our campaign.

ZAHN: At least you didn't give us the 1-800 number, like Ross Perot did.

NADER: No, that's passe now.

ZAHN: Just a really brief answer to this. I still find it hard to believe that in spite of your bringing the spotlight to these issues, that you don't think that one of these candidates is better for the country than the other. Just as quickly as you can give me a rejoinder on that.

NADER: They both flunk. Sure, though, Bush is the worse. But they both are unworthy. The parties have sold our country, our elections and our government to these corporate commercial interests, and this has been publicized by your profession, "Business Week," "Wall Street Journal," "New York Times," CNN.

ZAHN: We got to leave it there, Ralph Nader. Thanks for your time tonight. Appreciate it.

NADER: Thank you.

ZAHN: And as if doorbells are ringing and calls from pollsters and endless campaign commercials aren't distracting you enough, now there's another annoyance for voters in one hotly contested county. The British are coming, when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: Tomorrow night, I'll be hosting another town hall meeting with undecided voters and representatives of both campaigns. We will be in Clark County, Ohio. It is a state that Republicans cannot afford to lose, and a county the president has won by only 324 votes in the last election.

And it is a tight race again this year. So Clark County residents are getting lots of attention, even more than they want.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN (voice-over): Clark County, Ohio, is like much of rural America: small towns, family farms and junk mail. Lots of junk mail.

In fact, the good people of Clark County have noticed something unusual mixed in with their credit card offers, catalogues and store flyers: unsolicited advice about our upcoming election.

And it's coming all the way from England.

DR. ORLANDO SWAYNE, LETTER WRITER: I think the people -- part of the reason that people write is because they like America, and they don't want to see it fall into the hands of a bunch of cowboys.

ZAHN: Cowboys? Hold on a moment. Don't the Brits remember what happened the last time they told Americans what to do?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I think some people are going to have that reaction to them, that the British are interfering again. You know, after all we did win the Revolutionary War. But I don't think for most people it's going to have an effect on how they're going to vote.

ZAHN: That isn't exactly the reaction Nina Roberts, for one, was expecting.

NINA ROBERTS, LETTER WRITER: A lot of people in the U.K. are feeling very much on the sidelines. But the problem is, is that we're very much involved with the Americans in Iraq.

And so while we're sort of fighting side by side, and in fact, you know, as we know we're probably about to get a lot closer in Iraq to the American troops, I think we're kind of sitting on the sidelines thinking, well, this election really affects us.

ZAHN: By now you're probably thinking this must be some kind of organized effort, perhaps even a vast left-wing conspiracy? You're right. Sort of. The guilty party, London's "Guardian" newspaper.

Since Ohio is an important swing state, the liberal paper legally obtained the names and addresses of Clark County's 85,000 registered voters. Guardian readers merely had to go to the paper's web site, type in their e-mail address and in return they got the name and address of a U.S. voter.

And did they ever. The "Guardian" got requests for 14,000 names.

PAUL MCKINNIS, "THE GUARDIAN": We're going to have this in the hope that we can establish some kind of connection with people and make them think more about the issues. We're -- we're not -- we're not trying to think about how the politicians or other partisans might react.

ZAHN: Here's a sampling of the reaction from their American cousins, as posted on "The Guardian's" web site.

"Dear wonderful, loving friends from abroad, we Ohioans are an ornery sort and don't take meddling well."

Another, "Go back to sipping your tea and leave our people alone."

But there's also the occasional, "Your idea is superb and frankly, we need a little help over here right now."

As the "Guardian's" letter writing campaign officially comes to an end, a lot of Clark County voters are saying good riddance.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would do two things. One, I'd write a letter back and say, "Butt out. Let America decide what America needs." And then I'd throw it in the waste paper basket.

ZAHN: By now, a truth that didn't exist in 1776 should be self- evident. Not all junk mail is created equal. But ultimately, unless you're a political junky, you might still think of it as junk.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: And we have got the results of tonight's "Voting Booth" question right after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: Now on to tonight's "Voting Booth" poll results. We asked, "On November 3 will it be clear who the next president is?" Fifty-one percent of you said yes; 49 percent say no.

This is not a scientific poll, just a sampling of those who voted on our web site. We always appreciate your feedback.

Tomorrow I'll be heading to the battleground state of Ohio for our town hall meeting. Voters this time in Clark County get the chance to confront the campaigns with the questions they want answered. That is at 8 p.m. Eastern tomorrow. And if you have a question you'd like answered, just go to our web site and fire away.

That's PRIME TIME POLITICS for this Wednesday evening. "LARRY KING LIVE" is next. Good night.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com


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