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PAULA ZAHN NOW
Michael Moore Sounds Off on the Election; Former White House Reporter Shares Views on Election; Osama bin Laden Delivers Message to Americans
Aired October 29, 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. Thanks so much for joining us here at PRIME TIME POLITICS.
As we wrap up the week, Osama bin Laden delivers a message to Americans. Could it have an impact in these, the final days of the campaign?
And he has ambushed corporate CEOs and members of Congress. He's taken on the NRA, the Saudis and now the president. He's the man Republicans love to hate. Tonight, my conversation with Michael Moore.
And with one final weekend left, four days to go until victory or defeat, Osama bin Laden decided to weigh in on the U.S. presidential race. In a new tape run on the Arabic news channel Al-Jazeera, bin Laden mentioned both candidates.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OSAMA BIN LADEN, AL QAEDA LEADER (through translator): Your security is not in the hands of Kerry or Bush or al Qaeda. Your security is in your own hands. Any nation that does not attack us will not be attacked.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: Both President Bush and Senator Kerry were quick to react. In a campaign marked by division and bitterness, they agreed on this issue.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Let me make this very clear. Americans will not be intimidated or influenced by an enemy of our country. I'm sure Senator Kerry agrees with this.
I also want to say to the American people that we are at war with these terrorists, and I am confident that we will prevail.
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Let me just make it clear, crystal clear, as Americans, we are absolutely united in our determination to hunt down and destroy Osama bin Laden and the terrorists. They are barbarians. And I will stop at absolutely nothing to hunt down, capture or kill the terrorists wherever they are, whatever it takes, period. (END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: Of course, the bin Laden tape is just one more wild card in a race that seems headed to a wild finish.
ZAHN (voice-over): Heading into the last weekend of the race, both campaigns are shifting gears. Instead of the usual attack and counterattack pegged to the news headlines, President Bush and Senator Kerry are starting their closing arguments.
KERRY: Do you want four more years of the same failed course, or do you want a fresh start, or do you want a fresh start for America that takes us in the right direction?
BUSH: We have the terrorists on the run. And so long as I'm your president, we'll be determined and steadfast and we'll keep the terrorists on the run.
ZAHN: Osama bin Laden may be on the run, but his latest videotape is on televisions around the world. For the Bush campaign, this Friday before the election isn't going according to script.
A confetti gun goes off early, making everyone jump and ruining a touching thank-you to some 9/11 families. Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling takes himself out of the Bush campaign's lineup, pleading doctors' orders for not showing up at a Bush rally. And then there are tons of highly dangerous explosives in Iraq which no one can find. The story just won't go away.
The Pentagon found a soldier whose unit removed some of the explosives from the Iraqi facility in question. But...
QUESTION: Can you tell us that that was the same material? Are we talking about the same material?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't know, sir.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know. I don't have that information.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a lot we don't know.
ZAHN: We can be sure of this. The election is in four days and nobody rests until it's over.
ZAHN: So both President Bush and Senator Kerry are holding rallies tonight.
Senior White House correspondent John King is with the president in Columbus, Ohio. And senior political reporter Candy Crowley is with the senator in Miami.
Welcome back, team. John, if the viewing public sees this tape, they are probably reminded of the fact that Osama bin Laden hasn't been caught. Doesn't that hurt the president?
JOHN KING, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It could potentially hurt the president. Bush aides say that is one possibility, that you see the tape and you say, why, three-plus years later, has Osama bin Laden not been captured?
Most Bush aides, though, think that it benefits the president, if anyone, if it benefits any of the candidates, because Mr. Bush is still viewed in our polling and in all the polling as more tough when it comes to fighting the war on terrorism.
And just tonight, Paula, the president said it was shameful of Senator Kerry, after this tape came out, to repeat his assertion that the military let Osama bin Laden get away in Tora Bora. So the president pressing his campaign argument even as they try to find out if this tape has an impact on the race.
ZAHN: I don't know, Candy. It struck me from listening to some of the senator's tonight that he actually calibrated those a little bit differently than in the past, that they weren't quite as harsh. How did you read them?
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Oh, absolutely.
And, also, I would say there's a difference between an interview he did with -- a satellite interview he did with a local station in Wisconsin and what he said to the national press corps on the ground at the tarmac in West Palm Beach. Look, this is a calculation for them. They cannot look as though they are taking advantage of America's most hated man, Osama bin Laden, showing up on TV.
They were very conscious about their approach to this. I was talking to one aide and I said, how do you think this breaks politically? They don't even want to talk about that. But the truth is, they think it could break either way. They don't want to talk about it in these speeches. They made a decision. The senator said all he's going to say and that's what you said earlier, Paula.
CROWLEY: And now he's going to move on.
ZAHN: I know you might be having some trouble hearing me because the senator is speaking live and probably drowning out your own sound through your earpiece.
But isn't it also true that the Kerry campaign knows that any comparison with the president so far on the issue of terrorism isn't working for him? The president is enjoying these commanding leads that John King was talking about.
CROWLEY: Sure, and that's where they see it breaking a different way. Look, you can look at Osama bin Laden and you can think one of two things. A, why didn't George Bush get him earlier on, which has been, let's face it, one of the major points of the Kerry campaign. Or you can look at it and say, that scary guy is out there. George Bush went after him. And I like him. So they know it's going to break either way.
And it's why they really don't want to venture across the partisan line here and they're walking very finely down the middle, saying we're sticking to our campaign plan. We've said all we're going to say.
ZAHN: John, isn't the bottom line here, though, no matter which way this cuts with the undecided voters out there, both of these candidates have been forced off message and that Osama bin Laden is drowning them out in these final days of the campaign?
KING: Well, he certainly is on this day and he most likely will through the final weekend as the tape is analyzed.
The Bush campaign would tell you, whether the issue is this tape or even those missing explosives in Iraq, that they welcome ending the debate on the issue of security and terrorism. There is that risk that in seeing Osama bin Laden that some voters will say, how is this guy still at large?
But the Bush campaign believes this plays to the president's strength. But they also say this election is so close, they're not absolutely positive.
CROWLEY: All right, you two, we're going to leave there it. John King, Candy Crowley, thank you for both of your perspectives. I think, if we go any longer, you are not going to be able to hear me through the drone of that crowd. Happy travels this weekend.
And joining me now from Kerry campaign headquarters in Washington, senior adviser Joe Lockhart, and from Bush headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, campaign manager Ken Mehlman.
Gentlemen, before we begin our conversation, I'd like to play again something we heard Osama bin Laden say on videotape earlier today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIN LADEN, (through translator): Your security is not in the hands of Kerry or Bush or al Qaeda. Your security is in your own hands. Any nation that does not attack us will not be attacked.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: Ken, I wanted to start with you this evening.
Do you think Osama bin Laden is trying to set off an operation here? KEN MEHLMAN, BUSH-CHENEY CAMPAIGN MANAGER: I don't know that answer, Paula. Like most Americans, I think, when I saw that tape, I reacted with revulsion. And I thought it was outrageous that both Senator Kerry and Richard Holbrooke used the tape and used the response to try to score political points.
ZAHN: Why is that irresponsible, Ken? That has been a point that John Kerry has consistently made through this campaign. He's alleged the president missed an opportunity to get Osama bin Laden by broadening the focus of the war on terror to Iraq. It's no different than what he's been saying all along.
MEHLMAN: I would respond in two ways. First of all, I think, when most Americans saw that tape, their first response was not politics, wasn't, how can I use it for political gain.
But, secondly, as you know, on that specific question, Tommy Franks has repeatedly contradicted what Senator Kerry said. And I think what you saw today was just another example of two very different approaches to dealing with war on terror. The president believes that you take the battle to the enemy. And once again with John Kerry, you get politics.
ZAHN: Let's go back to the truth of the statement and talk to Joe Lockhart about that.
John Kerry has been criticized for saying that the president had an opportunity or at least our administration did to get Osama bin Laden in Tora Bora. And General Tommy Franks said he wished had had more boots on the ground there. He said they were never too sure he was there in the first place.
JOE LOCKHART, KERRY CAMPAIGN ADVISER: Well, listen, if anyone is playing politics here, it's the president. Let's remember the sequence of events today. He was briefed at 12:00. He was told what was on this tape.
And rather than being somber and sober at his next event, he went out and questioned John Kerry's commitment to defending this country, launched personal negative attacks, knowing what was on that tape, knowing that he was going to come out later and say, we have to be united. So let's not get lost here in the silliness of their talking points and their rhetoric.
Tommy Franks right now is contradicting the vice president, Paul Wolfowitz and Dick Myers, who at the time said we knew he was there. I think what this will come down to is, there's a difference. We have never questioned the president's commitment to defending the country. We know he's committed to that. We have questioned his strategy.
We believe that he took his focus off Afghanistan, where Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda was, and shifted it to Iraq and we've created a mess in Iraq and made us less, rather than more safe. But the only person who is running around launching personal charges is the president. And I think it's frankly becoming unbecoming of someone who has that office.
ZAHN: Gentlemen, I think that the average viewers watching this, from a distance, they're saying both sides are doing the same thing. And it's hard to remove the politics from this.
Ken, the question I want to ask you, though, goes to the issue of the appearance of Osama bin Laden and the reminder that he has not been caught by this administration. Doesn't that hurt the president?
MEHLMAN: Well, I think that when I saw Osama bin Laden, I was reminded that, in fact, that is not the face of a nuisance. That's not the face of someone we should wait for, pass a global test to go after.
The fact is that this administration, under our leadership, three out of four of Osama bin Laden's leaders have been eliminated, have been brought to justice. We have a world alliance against it. And what it shows you is, we need to continue the president's strategy of taking the battle to the enemy, of dealing with risk before it materializes, and of domestic programs like the Patriot Act to protect our homeland.
And it tells you that John Kerry's notion that we can go back to treating this with law enforcement and intelligence is inaccurate. Osama bin Laden understands we're at war. And when John Kerry says we're not really at war, I think most Americans disagree.
ZAHN: All right, Joe, I have a sense of what you might say here, because you've constantly accused the Bush administration of taking a couple of John Kerry's quotes out of context, whether it's the nuisance comment in "The New York Times" or the global test.
ZAHN: But the bottom line here is that the president continues to enjoy tremendous leads on Americans' trusts in the war on terror for the president over John Kerry. Why?
LOCKHART: Well, listen, I think as this campaign comes to a close, those numbers are decreasing and they're decreasing for just people having to listen to what they just had to listen to.
This is a deadly serious matter, the global war on terror, getting Osama bin Laden, and, once again, the president has resorted to, rather than dealing with it in a serious way, telling the country what he's done right, taking responsibility for what he's done wrong, he continually acts in a way that's fundamentally dishonest, by taking a statement here, taking half of it, cutting words out. It's fundamentally dishonest. There is no difference... ZAHN: Are you saying that's why the numbers are what they are, with Americans overwhelmingly trusting the president on the issue of the war on terror more than John Kerry?
LOCKHART: Let me make two points here.
One is, the incumbent always enjoys an advantage on things like that, but that advantage has been dwindling, I think, as the public takes a closer look. But the second thing is a question of character. It is -- the president of the United States dealing with the most serious issue and the most serious threat. And he can't stand up, take responsibility for his mistakes. And he can't stand up and tell the truth about his opponent.
It says something about his character when he has to resort to not honest political debate, but distorting words, mischaracterizing and downright not telling the truth. And that really says something about his character and his ability to prosecute this war.
ZAHN: Ken, do you think it's irresponsible on the part of American voters to want to know from the president how this could happen, how this guy got away?
MEHLMAN: I think the president's made very clear to American voters, which is why they have such strong support for him, that, in fact, we need to do, as he always says, whatever it takes to go after the enemy, that we need to deal with it like a war, which it, in fact, is.
And I think the only thing that raised character issues today, Paula, was the fact that John Kerry and the fact that Richard Holbrooke responded to seeing this grotesque video by the greatest mass murderer in the history of our country by bottom line and first and foremost thinking the politics.
ZAHN: Just a quick yes or no, gentlemen.
Joe Lockhart, do you think Osama bin Laden has hijacked the election?
LOCKHART: I don't think he has.
And, again, I want to repeat that the person who played politics with this today was the president. He knew about this tape before he went out this afternoon and launched a stinging personal attack.
LOCKHART: And did not act in a way we would expect our president to react.
(CROSSTALK) ZAHN: Ken, is Osama bin Laden hijacking this election?
MEHLMAN: He is not hijacking this election.
And the fact is, we have a strategy to make sure that Osama bin Laden and that future terrorists can't hijack anything, because we're going to go after them where they gather, rather than letting them come over here.
ZAHN: Those were long yes or nos. But we gave you both equal time there.
LOCKHART: I would add that it's not in Iraq, Ken, which is where the president -- it's not in Iraq.
ZAHN: OK, gentlemen, I've got to cut you both off there.
Ken Mehlman, Joe Lockhart, good luck in the waning days of this campaign.
MEHLMAN: Thank you.
LOCKHART: Thank you.
ZAHN: And thanks so much for your time.
And there's much more to come tonight on PRIME TIME POLITICS, including the man who is always trying to turn up the heat on the president.
ZAHN (voice-over): Oscar winner.
MICHAEL MOORE, FILMMAKER/AUTHOR: Call me crazy. Call me an American.
ZAHN: Best-selling author, all-around nuisance for the GOP, trying to tip the scales and topple the president. Tonight, filmmaker Michael Moore.
And Springsteen, Mellencamp, P. Diddy and Toby Keith. Their songs have signed up millions of new voters. But are the young and restless ready to rock on Election Day?
And our voting booth question of the day: Have you decided whom you'll vote for on Election Day? Let us know by logging on to CNN.com/Paula.
The results and much more as PRIME TIME POLITICS continues.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) ZAHN: A new bin Laden videotape, missing explosives, polls, polls, polls, and then there's the electoral map.
Our CNN snapshot of the race has President Bush with 227 electoral votes, Senator Kerry with 207, and 104 up for grabs, a lot to consider going into this, the final weekend of the presidential campaign.
And joining me now from Washington, Ron Brownstein of "The Los Angeles Times." Ron also happens to be a CNN political analyst.
Good to see you, Ron.
RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Coincidentally, yes. Good to see you, Paula.
ZAHN: Let's talk a little bit about what you've written extensively about, the importance of Ohio, Florida, and Pennsylvania. Our latest statistics show these races basically in a dead heat. Can you win the election without winning two of those three states?
BROWNSTEIN: I think President Bush probably has a better chance losing two out of three of them than John Kerry does. I think it would be very difficult for Kerry to get to 270 if he can't win two out of three.
Here's what one person in the Kerry campaign put it to me today. They have to win two out of three of those three and then two out of three of the Upper Midwestern battlegrounds, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin, all of which Al Gore won in 2000, but by much narrower margins than Clinton did in '96. If they can win Ohio and Pennsylvania and hold Wisconsin and Minnesota, they can be president. But that's not an easy task.
ZAHN: And, of course, you personally believe that Wisconsin is the key to this election, a state that Al Gore narrowly won in 2000, but our poll are showing the president with a one-point lead or so in that state.
BROWNSTEIN: Yes. Boy, trying to pick a winner there is a tough one.
I guess I feel that it comes down to Wisconsin if things break the way they seem to be breaking right now. And that is a big if, because turnout is a big imponderable that could affect the accuracy of all these polls.
But, right now, President Bush looks very strong in two states that Al Gore won last time, New Mexico and Iowa. John Kerry, I think, looks pretty strong in two states that Bush won last time, Ohio and New Hampshire. If Pennsylvania stays with Kerry and Florida stays with Bush, I think that the state that is most likely to tip the whole thing is right where Bruce Springsteen was yesterday, Wisconsin.
ZAHN: Let's talk about Hawaii now and the beach. So many people are traveling there. John Kerry's daughters are traveling there. The vice president is traveling there. What's going on?
BROWNSTEIN: And the former vice president, I believe, is traveling there as well. It's always nice in Hawaii in November.
ZAHN: Yes, you could send me there. I don't mind.
BROWNSTEIN: Phantom things pop up here at the end. Hawaii, there have been some close polls in Hawaii. So it's worth taking a shot. The Democrats are sending Bill Clinton to Arkansas. It's worth taking a shot.
I think the fact that we're seeing people in places like Hawaii and Arkansas this late is really a reflection of the fact of how few states are actually in play from last time. To me, the story of this race is the extraordinary stability of the electorate and the Electoral College map. Since neither side has been able to put very many states in play, they have very little margin of error. And I think that does encourage you at the end to take a flyer, in effect, a long shot on some of these states, just trying to squeeze out a few more Electoral College votes to give yourself a little more breathing room at the end.
ZAHN: Of course, the critical factor that no one can make any predictions about is voter turnout. And I want to put a graphic up that talks some of the new registration under way across the country. Nationwide, there's been an increase of some three percentage points. And in the critical state of Florida, registrations there have increased by eight percentage points. Who are these new voters? Will they vote? And who will they vote for? It's a three-fer for you tonight, Ron.
BROWNSTEIN: All right. OK.
Well, first of all, in terms of the partisanship of the registrations, the two parties have been pretty competitive on that. However, when you poll first-time voters, I believe it's been a pretty consistent pattern in the last few polls that John Kerry is leading among people who haven't voted, who haven't voted before, especially among young voters, which, by the way, Paula, is a change.
People think of young voters as predominantly liberal. In fact, historically, they've come in very close to the national average in every election since '76. But they do seem to be tilting toward Kerry. So a critical question for the Kerry campaign is how many of these people can they turn out? It's hard to get people to register. It's harder even yet to get them to turn out to vote. so that will be one of the determinants on Tuesday. The bigger the turnout, the better the chance he probably has.
ZAHN: Ron, need a real brief answer. Osama bin Laden's tapes, who do they help? Who do they hurt?
BROWNSTEIN: I think you and John and Candy hit it right on the head.
First of all, I don't think we know. I hate to say that on TV. I don't know, the three words you can't say on TV. But I think the clear advantage for President Bush is shifting the focus back toward terrorism, which is a strength of his, in part because he's handled the issue and people have seen him handle the issue. The threat is that people will see, of course, as you all mentioned, that Osama bin Laden is still out there. We have Saddam Hussein. We don't have Osama bin Laden.
On balance, I think it will tilt slightly in his favor because of the shift of the conversation. But in the end, I think there are many other factors in this race. I'm not sure it's going to be decisive.
ZAHN: Ron Brownstein, thank you for your candor tonight.
BROWNSTEIN: Thank you.
ZAHN: Appreciate your joining us.
Don't forget to cast your vote in our voting booth tonight. Our question is, have you decided whom you will vote for? Log on and tell us at CNN.com/Paula.
And when we come back, the views of two preachers with very different points of view, the Reverend Al Sharpton and the Reverend Joe Watkins.
Stand by, folks.
ZAHN: The Boss, Bruce Springsteen, on stage tonight for the Kerry campaign. He's just the latest entertainer to lend his talents and name to rally voters. We've also heard from John Mellencamp, P. Diddy and Jon Bon Jovi, and more during this campaign.
Names like that may help get people to the polls. Already, we've had tens of thousands of new registrations and high turnout in early voting. I guess that's the good news. But the downside of such interest in this election, long lines and (AUDIO GAP) polling places, claims of voters disenfranchised and challenges in court.
Joining me now to discuss all of this, the Reverend Al Sharpton, former presidential candidate who is now backing Senator Kerry, and Bush adviser the Reverend Joe Watkins, who is also director of Hill Solutions.
It's like being in church or a Friday night.
REV. JOE WATKINS, BUSH CAMPAIGN ADVISER: Well, that's right. Welcome.
ZAHN: Well, thank you for having me. Before we get to the issue of new voter registration -- and I don't know if I can get the shot of the Osama bin Laden's tape. The one thing that struck me and just made me insane watching this tape was how it was shot. It's as though he's standing up behind a pulpit preaching. What was your visceral reaction to seeing that tape?
AL SHARPTON (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think that also was shocking to me.
I think that he's, in many ways, trying to project that image that he is this man that embodies some godliness and that is more disturbing than anything, given what he's done and what he's saying he intends to do in the future. It's amazing.
WATKINS: And he's the face of terror. Let's face it. He's the face of terror. And he admitted that he was responsible for the attack on New York that took down the World Trade Towers. He's the face of terror.
SHARPTON: Thousands of innocent people, thousands of lives, thousands of families must be going through trauma again tonight. I mean, it's a very...
ZAHN: It just made me sick.
SHARPTON: It's a sickening, despicable thing to have to watch.
ZAHN: What do you think his motivation is? Is it to hijack the election? Is it to send a message to set off an operation?
WATKINS: I think so. I think it's to send a message loud and clear.
ZAHN: Thumb his nose at George Bush? What is it?
WATKINS: Well, he attacks George Bush in his message, what I read of the transcript and heard. He attacks George Bush in the message.
And, clearly, it's meant to have an impact on the elections. And we cannot bargain with terrorists. He's talking about if the United States does this, nothing will happen. But you can't bargain with a terrorist. Terrorists can't be trusted. And he's a terrorist. They have to be dealt with. And that's what this president's doing.
SHARPTON: Well, I think he's right.
ZAHN: Are you sorry that John Kerry changed his language today? Although he attacked the president, he didn't use the same language he's used in the past about blowing the chance to get Osama bin Laden. It wasn't as harsh. And he's still being accused of politicizing this today by the Bush campaign. (CROSSTALK)
SHARPTON: Well, I don't see how you can ignore the fact that bin Laden shouldn't have been at large.
Let's be very candid, that this president decided, rather than finish in Afghanistan, he went to Iraq and said, mission accomplished. If anything, this tape of bin Laden shows the mission has not been accomplished. And I think that whatever the motive of bin Laden, whatever he's saying or doing, we should not have to have this right before our election and we shouldn't even be entertaining this.
This is despicable to think that anyone thinks they can interfere with an American election. But I think that the cause is, we didn't finish the mission.
ZAHN: Well, and there is one theory that that is going to fuel greater voter turnout and some of those new registrants are going to vote for John Kerry and this hurts the president.
WATKINS: Well, no, I don't think so.
I think a lot of these people are going to be moved to vote for George Bush. I mean, almost 60 percent of Americans say they trust George Bush more in the fight against terror than John Kerry. That's a significant number of Americans.
SHARPTON: Not after they see him alive on television, bin Laden.
WATKINS: He's not finished yet. He's not finished. The president is going to finish the mission.
SHARPTON: Oh, so it took him three years. He needs another four to find him?
WATKINS: He's going to get Osama bin Laden. He's going to get Osama bin Laden and also the other terrorists that are out there. He's going to get them. I have no doubt in my mind that this president is going to succeed.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's not finished. The president is going to finish the mission. He's going to finish the mission.
REV. AL SHARPTON (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He needs another four years?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's going to get Osama bin Laden and the other terrorists out there. He's going to get them. No doubt in my mind.
SHARPTON: Reverend -- Reverend, tomorrow, you want to play Annie, you know? Little Annie? Tomorrow, tomorrow? I mean, you've been singing that tune to us for three years. When are you going to get him? Tomorrow, tomorrow. We want him today.
This man is mocking the United States. And tomorrow's not good enough. We need a president that would have made him priority today.
ZAHN: Let's move on to the issue of voter turnout. The big mystery is whether any of these new registrants are going to bother to show up at the polls. How do you think it's going to look?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's going to be huge. I think there's going to be huge voter turnout in the United States. The hope that I have is that the soldiers, for instance, in Pennsylvania, almost 80,000 of them who just had their ballots sent out in October. They were due to be sent in August, will have a chance to vote.
ZAHN: You have a strong feeling that there was voter suppression?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was. There was.
SHARPTON: Unlike he and his party, we don't control the Democrats.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We want the governor of Pennsylvania to extend the time for these things to come back, November 17. They delayed in sending them.
SHARPTON: Why didn't the commander in chief make sure they were sent out?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The commander in chief of the state of Pennsylvania made sure they weren't sent out in time.
SHARPTON: I think -- I think that if he...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's what the governor of Pennsylvania did.
SHARPTON: The commanders of the armed services over there knew that these gentlemen did not receive their ballots. It was his responsibility through the Pentagon to make sure that was done.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 80,000 people, primarily nor George Bush.
ZAHN: Let's come back to the issue of motivating the base. Quick answer, a lot of people have told me today that they think this Osama bin Laden thing, in the most ironic way, will motivate the Republican base.
SHARPTON: I don't see that.
ZAHN: ... while you might think these new registrants traditionally would go for John Kerry, that might not be what happens.
SHARPTON: I think that if Americans look up and are reminded that we went to Iraq, and here's a man that attacked us, cost thousands of lives, that on almost the eve of an election can mock this country. And we did not go and do everything that we should have done to capture him, it cannot help George Bush. But I think beyond who it helps, I think it's a disgrace to all Americans that we've got to watch this guy.
ZAHN: Gentlemen, thank you for joining us.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thanks so much, Paula.
ZAHN: See you at church again Sunday morning.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely. Absolutely.
SHARPTON: We'll get you to join one time.
ZAHN: I know, you are. I'm going to go running there Sunday morning.
With few exceptions, Hollywood is not very fond of President Bush. One filmmaker in particular has really managed to get the GOP's goat. The man behind "Fahrenheit 9/11," Michael Moore, joins me next.
ZAHN: When "Fahrenheit 9/11" premiered and quickly became a surprise box office hit, director Michael Moore cemented his reputation as the man Republicans loved to hate.
The anti-Bush documentary went on to earn $120 million at the box office. It has also now become a hit DVD.
And then, in August, he became a thorn in the side of the Republican convention, finding his way inside on a press pass.
Michael Moore isn't through irritating Republicans just yet. He is now near the end of a month-long, 60-city tour of battleground states he calls his Slackers Uprising Tour, trying to win over voters on college campuses. And Michael Moore joins me from Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
Thanks so much for joining us tonight.
MICHAEL MOORE, FILMMAKER: Thank you, Paula.
ZAHN: So Michael, I wanted to start off tonight by reviewing a small excerpt of the Osama bin Laden tape where he basically warns the American public about more trouble ahead. Let's listen together.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OSAMA BIN LADEN, LEADER OF AL QAEDA (through translator): It never occurred to us that he, the commander in chief of the country, would leave 50,000 citizens in the Two Towers to face those horrors alone, because he thought listening to a child discussing her goats was more important.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: What do you think Osama bin Laden's motive is for releasing this tape just days before our election?
MOORE: Who knows? I think the big shock of the day is, first of all, the fact that he's alive. And -- and it's a sad reminder of how this administration refused to track down and capture the man who is responsible for the murder of 3,000 people.
ZAHN: Of course, the Bush campaign has been saying all day long that no one is ever certain Osama bin Laden was in Tora Bora, and even though you might think this will remind Americans that he's alive and he hasn't been caught, the bottom line is that the president still has huge leads when it comes to his leadership ability on the war on terror over John Kerry.
How do you explain that?
MOORE: Well, I don't pay any attention to these polls. At this point I don't think anybody should, either.
I think the American people are -- this is -- I can't -- this has got to be bad for the Bush people. To have him present for the first time in almost three years. There he is, a sick and sad reminder of how this man wouldn't let our special forces go after him, and immediately, the day after September 11, wanted to go into Iraq, no matter how much his terrorism czar told him that this was about al Qaeda and it was two countries away, over from Iraq.
He couldn't get off Iraq. And he diverted all these resources to something that was not a threat to us. And instead, here he is, Osama bin Laden, presenting himself to us again. It's just mind-boggling.
ZAHN: All right. Of course, you've heard the Bush administration defend itself, saying that even though it apportioned some of its help to the Afghanis, that if they had known he was in Tora Bora, they'd have put more forces there.
On to the issue, though, of your slacker's tour. I'm been fascinated by some of the language you have used with these young people. You basically have told them that both Bush and Kerry stink, but you're voting for Kerry anyway.
What troubles you about John Kerry the most?
MOORE: No, no, that's not true. I don't say that at all. What I say to them is I know that there's a lot of people that aren't going to vote or don't vote. A lot of slackers out there that take the position that all politicians suck.
And what I say to them is, you know what? I don't want to change your mind about that. I mean, we need a good, healthy chunk of Americans who believe that. I'm just asking you this one time to alter your position and vote for John Kerry, because...
ZAHN: So you're not holding your nose in when you vote this time?
MOORE: Oh, no. Are you kidding? You know... ZAHN: You are the same guy who supported Ralph Nader the last time, in the year 2000.
MOORE: Yes. Yes, that's right. Now I'm the guy who is supporting what Bush calls the No. 1 liberal in the Senate. There's a reason he calls him that. That's because he is. He is a liberal. He's -- he's very different, and there's a real clear choice between him and Bush.
With John Kerry, we're going to make sure people have health insurance. We're not going to have a $5.15 minimum wage anymore. And we're going to bring these kids home from Iraq. That I am confident of, and that's a clear choice and a clear reason to vote for John Kerry.
ZAHN: I know you have been pleading with Ralph Nader to drop off this -- out of this race, which he hasn't done so far. No one expects him to. If John Kerry loses, how much do you think Ralph Nader will have to do with the loss?
MOORE: I don't think he'll have anything to do with it. I have not -- I haven't run into a single intelligent person who is planning on voting for Ralph Nader. The Green Party, every Green I know is voting for John Kerry.
The John Kerry tent's a big tent. It's got Greens; it's got independents, liberal Democrats, conservative Democrats, recovering Republicans. So, you know, the idea of Kerry losing, first of all, isn't even in my mind. I think we're going to be inaugurating President Kerry on January 20, and I'm cautiously optimistic about it.
ZAHN: So you basically sound like you think we have an undisputed president come the early hours of Wednesday morning?
MOORE: Well, I hope -- I hope that's the case. It would be nice if both candidates said right now, "You know what? Neither of us want to put the country through what it went through back in 2000. So neither of us will engage in some kind of strange dispute of electoral votes. We both agree that whoever wins the popular vote should have the White House."
Wouldn't that be nice if they both said that?
ZAHN: Well, let's see if either one of them do that. Michael Moore, thanks so much for joining us tonight. We appreciate your time.
MOORE: Thank you very much, Paula.
ZAHN: My pleasure.
And one thing I believe that we can all agree on: for the winner, the toughest battle may be yet to come. Can the next president heal the wounds of a deeply divided country? We'll consider that in just a moment.
ZAHN: As we head into the campaign's final weekend, it's great to be joined by someone who's familiar to so many CNN viewers. Frank Sesno, former Washington bureau chief and White House correspondent, joins our broadcast as a special contributor.
FRANK SESNO, FORMER CNN WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF: Thank you, Paula.
ZAHN: You've waited too long to come back. Should I take it personally?
SESNO: Good things are worth waiting for. No. You shouldn't take it personally.
ZAHN: I will wait forever for you to come here.
ZAHN: So what are you talking about tonight?
SESNO: Well, here's the deal. If this election is close or contested, and we keep seeing the electoral maps, and it looks like it may well be. Whoever wins the presidency is not going to have any honeymoon, and that will be canceled. And there's not going to be any refund, Paula.
Because he's going to have to legitimize his presidency and he's going to have to calm a lot of people down. Winning won't be enough.
And you know what? To a large extent, these candidates have themselves to blame.
SESNO (voice-over): On the road to the White House, both candidates have scared the pants off us. Charge and countercharge.
He's responsible for a botched war that makes terrorism more likely.
He's a weak-kneed, left bank liberal whose election would make terrorism more likely.
He's going to cut grandma's Social Security. Grandpa's, too.
He's going to expand government and raise your taxes.
GEORGE W. BUSH (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Senator Kerry's taken a lot of different positions. But he rarely takes a stand.
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: George W. Bush has failed the test of commander in chief. SESNO: Happy now? Just listening to this stuff makes you want to move to a place where there's no cable at all and no one's even heard of Jon Stewart.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In an increasingly dangerous world.
SESNO: Like wolves lurking in the woods, the politics of fear will haunt us long after election day. As any parent knows, some scary stories produce nightmares that wake the kids up for a long time.
What if this nightmare recurs? What if chad comes back or his 2004 counterpart. With all these new voting machines, we can only imagine.
And these guys have been deadlocked in a bunch of states for weeks, where they have an army of strategists, pollsters, spinners and, yes, volunteers. You may be one of them. No offense meant. You're doing democracy the old fashioned way. That's a good thing.
And if election day produces a clear winner, a mandate, good for you. None of this matters. But the Florida recount could look like the good old days if your guy wins or loses in a squeaker.
Because while the candidates have been mugging for the cameras, behind the scenes, they've deployed an army, thousands of lawyers and operatives to contest disputed results in precincts and states all across the country.
Here's what you hear people asking now. If it's 2000 all over again, if that's how someone wins this nasty, polarized, high-priced, low-blow election, how will he unite the country? What will he say? How will he govern? Winning won't be enough.
Don't look to Congress for help. Congress is polarized and bitter. It's in its DNA now. And the media? Well, let's leave that for another time.
But in a divided home, you've still got to sit down to dinner. In a divided nation, you've got to govern, which suggests compromise. Even Ronald Reagan did that, and he won in a blowout by nearly 8 1/2 million votes, 489 to just 49 in the Electoral College.
Now, that's a mandate. But it was also 1980 when winning was enough.
SESNO: Paula, for the good old days, right?
In the last two days, though, I've been talking to a lot of people, historians, constitutional experts, pollsters, politicians, senators, you name it. And what they all say is there are going to have to be a lot of things done to put Humpty Dumpty back together again.
No. 1, when the loser loses, whenever that is, he's going to really have to concede and really fall in line.
ZAHN: And what do they think the winner has to do?
SESNO: A lot of things. If it's close and contested, reach across the divide, bipartisan cabinet. President Kerry, invite Senator McCain to be Secretary McCain. President Bush invite in Secretary Lieberman, something like that.
ZAHN: Is that realistic?
SESNO: Well, they've got Norm Mineta -- he's a Democrat -- in this cabinet. Colin was a -- you know, cabinet member in the last one. Yes, it's realistic, but makes governing kind of difficult. And it's sort of symbolic, but not if it were Lieberman. You know, it depends how deep the symbolism goes. Reach across the ocean.
Zahn: Back to the loser. Other than conceding early and doing it in a credible way, what else does the loser have to do?
SESNO: Well, exit the scene gracefully.
You know, it's interesting, go back to 1960. Very close election, JFK, Richard Nixon, less than two percent. Kennedy actually offered Nixon a temporary post overseas. I think Nixon probably thought it was exile and said, "No. Thank you very much."
But when Bay of Pigs came around, Kennedy reached out to Nixon. So the handholding went on beyond a tough election. This is different, though. This is very different.
ZAHN: What about the global audience?
SESNO: The global audience counts big-time too. And I've talked to a number of people, and they say one of the things that the president has to keep in mind is that this system has been ridiculed. Or especially if it's close and contested, it's not going to look like a democracy from the main preacher of democracy around the world.
So the president, whoever it is, is going to have to listen and rediscover a couple of magic letters, like U.N. and NATO. We'll see what happens.
ZAHN: Final 30 seconds. What does it mean for all of us?
SESNO: Well, I think what it means is that we're at a gigantic moment here. If it just was 2000, that's a fluke. If this thing happens again now, it becomes a pattern. And that really could be a very serious, delegitimizing issue for American democracy. And at some...
ZAHN: It could be the death knell of the Electoral College.
SESNO: Well, certainly there's -- another call, major campaign and electoral reform.
ZAHN: Great to have you back. SESNO: Great to be here.
SESNO: Don't wait six months before you come back the next time, all right? He's a busy guy, but that's an awful long time. Frank Sesno, have a good weekend.
ZAHN: Let's face it, next Tuesday night could be the most exciting election in recent memory. As the polling places close, all those zeroes will change and tell the tale. Our Tuesday night election coverage will be unlike any you've ever seen before, in fact, any I've ever seen before.
When we come back, I'll take you on a behind the scenes tour of CNN at its best.
But first, here's a look of where the candidates will be making a big, big push for votes from now until election day.
ZAHN: So as the polls close on election night, I hope you'll be right here with CNN. Our coverage will combine all of our unique resources with some of the world's most powerful number crunching technology to provide the most comprehensive analysis of the night and not get burned, like everyone did in the year 2000. So I thought we'd give you a sneak preview.
WOLF BLITZER, HOST, "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS": Let me give you a little tour of our CNN election headquarters. You're among the first to actually see what we're going to be doing behind me. You see this NASDAQ wall. We've got all these video screens and an incredible amount of information we can put up here. And you'll see a lot what's going on as the election returns come in.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think we'll all be sitting on the edge of our seat.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It'll be tight.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think the big news, see what happens in Florida this year.
BLITZER: Florida, 8 p.m. Eastern, once those polls close in Florida, we may be able to project a winner. But guess what? We may not be able to project a winner. And this time around, we're not taking any chances.
DAVID BOHRMAN, SENIOR EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: There's a new system for calling that we trust. But then there's a layer on top that says examine everything that they're doing and try to disprove it.
And then we add in the dynamics of lawyers. Sort of like what Ronald Reagan used to say. Trust but verify.
The states that take the longest may be the ones that Bush and Kerry most need to win.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, states the Kerry campaign is watching very closely.
JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So they'll be looking at Florida and they'll be looking at Ohio, which is in the eastern time zone. Two big states. He has to win at least one of those two, probably both of them.
JUDY WOODRUFF, HOST, "INSIDE POLITICS": I have people from both the Kerry and the Bush camps telling me it is going to be over before early at night. I'm not buying that yet.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My hunch is nobody is going to sleep very early Tuesday night.
ZAHN (voice-over): Down at Times Square, people already know what they're looking for on election night.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I'm a Bush man all the way.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need a change in this country, so I'm going to vote for Kerry.
ZAHN: And if that's not enough, don't forget the Electoral College, Governors, Senate, and House.
BLITZER: When I tell you we will have wall-to-wall coverage on election day, we really mean wall-to-wall coverage.
ZAHN: See, no one else can do that. So expect you to have your set tuned to CNN throughout election day. For the races, the votes, and the results, our special coverage of the vote count from the NASDAQ gets underway Tuesday at 7 p.m. Eastern. We will go all night and into the morning if we have to.
Our "Voting Booth" poll results right out of this break.
ZAHN: Time now for the results of our "Voting Booth" question of the night. We asked, have you decided who you'll vote for on election day? Well, 98 percent of you said yes. Two percent said no. Not a scientific poll. Just a sampling of those of you who logged onto our Web site.
Again, we wanted to remind you, if you join us on Monday night, and we hope you will, we will be in Florida for election eve town hall meeting. There, undecided voters will get to confront campaign representatives in Kissimmee, Florida. It starts at 8 p.m. and continues at 11 p.m. Senator Bob Graham of Florida will be joining us on the Democratic side, as well as Ralph Reid on the Republican side.
And we would love for you to click on CNN.com/Paula and send us your questions for both campaigns. The last time we did this in Ohio, we got some 10,000 responses. Looking forward to many more.
That wraps it up for all of us here as we wrap up the week. Thanks so much for joining us tonight. "LARRY KING LIVE" is up next. Have a good weekend, everybody. Good night.
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