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Polls Now Open in 43 States, from East Coast to Rocky Mountains; Supreme Court Health

Aired November 2, 2004 - 09:30   ET


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: It is just about half past the hour on this AMERICAN MORNING.
With Election Day 2004, the polls are now open in 43 states from the East Coast to the Rocky Mountains. Both campaigns now working feverishly to make sure the voters get to the polls. We're going to check in on how the president and John Kerry are closing out their campaigns. They are still focused on those swing states this morning.

BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Also very interesting story here. International observers from Europe watching Americans as they vote this year. We'll talk to one of them in a few minutes, find out what they're looking for, why they accepted this invitation and why they're here. So we'll get to all that.

Of course Election Day is our big story today, but there are other stories in the news. Heidi Collins has a look at those this morning.

Good morning to you again.

HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: That's right, their sure are. Thanks, guys. And good morning to you, everyone.

Now in the news, another deadly attack in Baghdad. Police say at least six people were killed in a car bombing near Iraq's ministry of education. It happened a little bit earlier today. Eight people are now being treated for injuries there. In northern Iraq, crews are trying to control fires along a major pipeline. The blazes were set overnight in a series of attacks.

Afghan officials say they're optimistic three U.N. hostages will be freed unharmed. A Taliban splinter group has claimed responsibility for abducting the man and two women in Kabul. You see them here. It's threatening to kill them unless the U.N. and British troops leave Afghanistan.

Here in the United States, developments in the case against accused bomber Eric Rudolph. Rudolph's attorneys will be in court arguing items taken from his home and storage be excluded from the upcoming trial. He is set to stand trial next year for the 1998 bombing of a Birmingham clinic. Rudolph also faces separate charges for other bombings, including one at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.

And back overseas, aid workers are being stopped from doing their work in the Darfur region of Sudan. The Sudanese army and police surrounded refugee camps in Darfur today, denying humanitarian groups access. Aid workers have been evacuated out of several camps in the region. More than one million people have been displaced by fighting between the government and rebels.

Back now over to you.

O'BRIEN: What a terrible story there. What a mess. What a disaster.

All right, Heidi, thanks for that update.

Back to the election now. After months of relentless campaigning, it all comes down to today for the presidential candidates. Each will vote in his home state. President Bush we saw voting in Crawford, Texas. John Kerry's going to vote in Boston, Massachusetts today.

White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux is with the president in Crawford, where we begin this morning with national correspondent Kelly Wallace, who's in La Crosse, Wisconsin, which is where we saw John Kerry earlier.

Good morning to you.

KELLY WALLACE, CNN NATL. CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Soledad. And Senator Kerry is just about to leave here from La Crosse, Wisconsin, and head to Boston. Before leaving, though, he did some last-minute campaigning in this very important battleground state. It is a state where you can register today and still cast your ballots in this election. So the senator talking to a crowd of supporters and volunteers who will be going door to door. And he encouraged them to talk to voters and say every voter has a choice. This is really an argument that the senator has been trying to make day after day over these past several weeks, a choice between himself and President Bush. Here's what he said a short time ago.


SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: All Americans today get this choice. George Bush has made his choices. Companies that ship jobs overseas get a tax break. When I'm president, we're closing that tax break, and companies keep jobs here.


WALLACE: The senator also saying this is a -- quote -- "magical kind of day." Aides say they are feeling very good. They say so far things have gone very smoothly in polling places across the country. They also believe that they have identified the voters they need to win, and now it comes down to turnout. And they're very confident, they say, they can turnout the vote.

As for the senator, he goes to Boston, he will vote. And Soledad, we know him to be a bit superstitious, and so it's no surprise that when he goes to Boston, he's going to go to lunch at the same place he has gone every Election Day of his political career. Then of course he'll be watching returns. We understand, Soledad, he will also be doing some interviews with stations in some key battleground states this afternoon. So the campaigning continuing, even as he gets home to Boston.

O'BRIEN: Even on Election Day. Kelly Wallace for us this morning. Kelly, thanks.

Let's turn now to White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux. She's in Crawford, Texas, which is where the president voted just a little while ago.

Good morning to you, Suzanne.


Of course, President Bush also expressing optimism and hope that he's going to be the winner today. It was about 7:38 local time the president's limousine pulled up to the Crawford fire house. The president accompanied the first lady and his top advisers. That is where he cast his ballot. About five minutes later, he emerged to take a couple of reporter's questions. Now he describes himself as being very comfortable. He said that it is now in the hands of the American people, that he is confident that he has gotten his message out, and that he believes that he is going to win.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The issue is, who do you trust. This is a campaign of trust. Who do you trust to secure this country? Who do you trust to lead with firmness and steadfast resolution, to protect the American people? Who do you trust to adhere to the values, the values that most people agree with? And who do you trust to keep this economy growing?


MALVEAUX: Now from the very beginning, his chief political strategist Karl Rove has said this is all about character, not necessarily what is happening on the ground in Iraq or other events that have unfolded in the last couple of weeks, but it is very clear it is also about the economy. The one thing that has haunted this campaign, they did not want to make the same kind of mistake, or have the same kind of experience that George Herbert Walker made back in '92, very popular after the Gulf War, but faltered after a poor showing in the economy. This president, of course, does not want to repeat that. But as we know, the signs are very clear that they are concerned at least about Ohio. President Bush breaking with tradition today. He is going once again back to Ohio. This is going to be the seventh time this week that he'll be in that critical state.

As you know, of course, there has been no Republican to win the White House without winning Ohio. This is a state that has lost hundreds of thousands of jobs under President Bush's watch. He is going to go there, make a get-out-the-vote kind of effort, a last- minute effort and then he will go back to the White House. That is where he's going to be watching those returns very closely -- Soledad. O'BRIEN: Suzanne Malveaux, traveling with the Bush team this morning.

Thanks, Suzanne, appreciate it.

HEMMER: Soledad, about 20 minutes before the hour now. International observers from Europe are at some polling places today in various parts of the country. Ron Gould is one of them. He's an observer with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

He's live in Miami this morning.

Mr. Gold, welcome, and good morning to you.


HEMMER: Why are you here?

GOULD: Well, I am here with the Organization and Security Corporation in Europe to observe the election as part of the observer team.

HEMMER: All right. Understanding that, what are you looking for?

GOULD: We are looking at the overall election process. For the first time, the United States has a federal law coming out of the Help America Vote Act, and on that law, there are a lot of new overriding provisions that we are starting to observe at this election, such as the provisional vote, such as the register voters and many other aspects. Of course, voting equipment, as well.

The -- as you know, the United States has a decentralized voting system, and this in itself is a very difficult challenge for any election observers, because there are something like 13,000 different types of elections going on here.

HEMMER: I think this is the one thing a lot of people would be curious to know. If you observe something that you don't think is quite right, what do you do?

GOULD: OK, we cannot observe a specific incident and generalize across the board, because of the fact that all the systems are so different.

What we can look at, though, is the effectiveness of the provisional voting systems that are going on, of the systems that have national application. For example, the voting machines, and the voting systems are now -- they are many different ones, but they're intended to improve the previous systems, and we will be looking to see how effective that is. Obviously, we're very interested in voter turnout, voter participation, and the freedom of voters and the facility of voters to cast their ballots.

HEMMER: One more thought here. Were you here four years ago?

GOULD: No, I was not. But we did have an assessment team here four years ago.

HEMMER: OK, Ron Gould, good luck today. Live from Miami this morning. Thanks for your time.

GOULD: Thank you.

HEMMER: "Vote or Die" has been P. Diddy's calling card throughout this campaign. He's the driving force behind Citizen Change, a nonpartisan effort to get young people to the polls. The hip-hop mogul expecting them to get out today and vote in record numbers. How did he do over the past four months? Sean "P. Diddy" combs back with us here in New York. Good morning to you.


HEMMER: I told you two months ago on this day that we would bring you back.

COMBS: Yes. You're a man of your word.

HEMMER: What happened with your organization? And were you happy with the steps you made?

COMBS: I think we made history. We started this organization to motivate, educate and empower the over 40 million youth and minority voters that people said wouldn't get to the polls, that would just register and would disenfranchise...

HEMMER: It's only 20 till 10:00 here in New York. How do you know?

COMBS: We made them a part of this process, because I'm a part of this community, and I'm also a disenfranchised voter. And my first time voting was, like, 2000. So I know what the talk is inside the community. I know the feeling, the buzz. This is history for us. We will decide. We're the wild card of this election.

HEMMER: Why do you say you were disenfranchised four years ago?

COMBS: Because politicians, they just didn't pay attention to us. We're part -- I call ourselves the forgotten ones, youth and minority voters. Their campaign trails don't come into our communities unless they go to the churches, and they don't stop and speak to us as young men and women, like we have power like veterans do or senior citizens, but that's all about to change.

HEMMER: But let me just try and clear this up. You specifically?

COMBS: Yes, I did. That was my first time voting.

HEMMER: And your vote counted, right?

COMBS: And my vote definitely counted, and I learned from that. And I learned from that, and that helped me to want to get involved in a situation like this. HEMMER: OK, just for the sake of our discussion. How were you disenfranchised in 2000?

COMBS: You know, just the candidates not, you know, speaking to my needs, not coming in my community. I'm from Harlem, New York, from an inner-city community, and just going, seeing the school systems there not being taken care of, seeing the people having problems with health care, people having problems getting jobs. And you feel just like nobody cares about you. And your vote doesn't count.

But this year, you know, it's different, we have taken control of our future. And that's what Citizen Change has done.

People laughed when I said I was going to get -- that we all together we're going to get, you know, a record turnout for youth and minority voters, and it's happening right now. When you look on those lines, you're seeing so many people of color. You need to acknowledge that. That's not regular. You've seen young people coming out and voting like you've never -- I don't care if it's 10:00 in the morning, because they've been out there for 5:00 in the morning. And we're going to make history. We're the wild card. It's neck and neck, and we're going to decide who's the next president of the United States.

HEMMER: Do you think these candidates have appealed to the youth of America?

COMBS: Not at all. And I don't think they're going to until we start voting. To be honest with you, we have to be responsible for that. We were the lowest voting community. But after this election, they will be coming and begging for our vote.

HEMMER: It was about twelve years ago MTV started the whole Rock the Vote campaign.


HEMMER: We're not going to know until the end of the day today.


HEMMER: But are you confident, twelve years later, that the youth of America will speak?

COMBS: I'm confident that they will speak, and minorities together. The reason why we're a group together, because we're the group that politicians have turned their backs on with dealing with us directly. And we've had the lowest voting turnout. So together, we will decide who's the next president of the United States. And MTV is one of my partners with Citizen Change and Russell Simmons Hip-Hop Action Network. They've given birth to this new organization Citizen Change that has really done shook the world up out there right now.

You look at President Bush's face, he looks concerned. He knows there's a wild card out there. You look on Senator Kerry's face, they both know there's a wild card out there that they cannot control. They have not polled these young men and women. They have not gone into inner cities and asked them questions. Now they don't know how they're going to vote. It's tight. It's real tight. But we know we have one thing is going to happen, the youth and minority vote is going to come out in record numbers, and we will decide who is the president of the United States.

HEMMER: Absentee ballot or polling station for you today?

COMBS: I'm going to the polling station. I'm going right now to vote. Y'all can meet me on the upper east side. I'll be up there to vote.

HEMMER: Good to see you, Sean.

COMBS: All right.

HEMMER: Take care.

COMBS: Thank you, God bless.

HEMMER: All right. Later tonight, 7:00 Eastern, our primetime coverage kicks off live from the Nasdaq marketsite. Times Square right here in New York City. Also logon to our Web site at, complete analysis throughout the day, 24/7 for you online.

Thanks again.

COMBS: Thank you for having me.

HEMMER: Here is Soledad now across the room.

O'BRIEN: Thanks, Bill.

Still to come this morning, depending on who wins the election, where are stock prices headed? Already some speculation on that. Andy's "Minding Your Business," just ahead.

Plus, who you vote for today may affect what the Supreme Court looks like in the future. What you should know about the health of the men and women on the bench.

Plus, don't forget our live prime-time coverage from the Nasdaq marketsite begins 7:00 p.m. Eastern. We're back in just a moment, right here on AMERICAN MORNING.


O'BRIEN: Sanjay's got the day off today.

With U.S. Chief Justice William Rehnquist, the Supreme Court justice being treated for thyroid cancer, the health of America's Supreme Court has suddenly become a political issue.

Elizabeth Cohen joins us from the CNN Center. She's got a little bit of a checkup on the high court.

Hi, Elizabeth. Nice to see you. ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN ANCHOR: Nice to see you. Good morning, Soledad.

Soledad, Chief Justice Rehnquist is not the only justice who has had to battle cancer. Now justices traditionally don't give out a lot of details about their health status, but we know just enough details to be concerned that his situation seemed particularly serious. Last week, he had a tracheotomy, which is not the usual treatment for thyroid cancer; it's only done when something has gone wrong and the patient is having trouble breathing.

And then yesterday, his office issued a statement that said, "I am continuing to take radiation and chemotherapy treatments on an outpatient basis."

Now the fact that he's taking radiation and chemo, for the oncologists that we spoke to, that said that's not a particularly good sign. It may mean he has a very rare, but particularly deadly form of thyroid cancer called anaplastic cancer, and that is a very, very difficult kind of cancer to treat -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Four of the nine Supreme Court justices have had battles with cancer now. Is that highly unusual?

COHEN: Actually, considering their ages, it's not highly unusual. All of the justices except for one, that being Clarence Thomas, are over the age of 65. And people are just more likely to get cancer as they get older. Rehnquist, for example, is 80 years old.

Let's go through a list of the justices and the kind of battles that they faced. They, by and large, have done very well. Sandra Day O'Connor was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1988. She's had no new cancer reported that we know of in the past 16 years.

And also chief justice -- I'm sorry, Justice John Paul Stevens, diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1992. Also, we have not heard of any new cancers from him in the past 12 years.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg diagnosed with colon cancer in 1999. We've heard nothing in the past five years about any new cancers.

So they seem to have done particularly well. Now we were talking about age and cancer. When people -- more than 50 percent of all cancer diagnoses happen in folks who are over the age of 65; 60 percent of cancer deaths are among people over age 65. So while four out of five justices have battled cancer, that sounds like a lot, considering their age it's not really all that many.

O'BRIEN: Putting in a little perspective there.

Elizabeth Cohen, for us this morning. Elizabeth thanks -- Bill.

HEMMER: All right, Soledad. Heidi back with us, looking at some of the key races tonight and, also the campaign ballot initiatives, too, that are very interesting in various parts of the country. Good morning again.

HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, they're interesting in many different states, in fact. Voters across the nation are deciding on dozens of ballot measures this election year. Thirty-four states have ballot measures, and California has the most now with 16, followed by Rhode Island, a much smaller state, obviously, and Oklahoma.

The most common measure, though, is a ban on same-sex marriages. Voters in 11 states will cast an opinion on that hot-button issue.

The second most popular ballot measure has to do with gambling.

And another common measure, capping awards on medical malpractice suits.

Voters in Florida, Nevada, Oregon and Wyoming will be making the choice on that issue.

And now to Colorado. Voters will decide whether to split their state's electoral votes based on popular votes for a candidate. If that measure passes, it takes effect for today's election, which could cause delays, and potentially decide who becomes president. And as you know, of course, they would split that vote 5-4.

HEMMER: Yeah, that's right. Yeah, we talked to the governor yesterday. He believes that Coloradans are breaking away from that, will vote it down. That's his view. We'll see how it'll turn out.

COLLINS: ... right.

HEMMER: I think the Same-Sex Marriage Amendment is very interesting. When Missouri did this several months ago, the turnout was enormous.

COLLINS: People care.

HEMMER: And if that happens in states like Oregon and Ohio, how does that affect George Bush or John Kerry one way or the other? Or does it?

COLLINS: We will find out -- when again?

HEMMER: Oh, yeah. Stay tuned, right?

COLLINS: We'll be waiting.

HEMMER: Want to show you a picture now from Times Square, the Nasdaq MarketSite. It is a place to behold later tonight. This is the enormous screen they have. Goes up about six stories in the air. That is part of our coverage tonight. But also, the bigger coverage is on the inside, on the floor of the Nasdaq, that has so many wonderful graphics and displays where we can show you, in real time, the results we're getting later tonight. 7:00 eastern is our starting time.

Break here. Back in a moment. Campaign day 2004 on this AMERICAN MORNING.


HEMMER: Welcome back, everyone. What's in store for investors after today, after the election? Check on that on the markets now, early action. Back to Andy "Minding Your Business." Which way we going, Andy?

ANDY SERWER, "FORTUNE" MAGAZINE: Well, before we get to the after the markets, let's talk about today, shall we?

OK. First of all, stocks are trading up at this hour on Wall Street. Let's go to the big board and see what's happening down there. Up 27 points, a nice little rally. Price of oil continues to stay below $50.

Interesting to watch the markets late in the day, as word may get down to traders on Wall Street about how the election's headed. If we seem to be having some sort of deadlock or it may go to the courts, I think the market will start heading south. So, that could be an interesting one.

As far as what happens to the stock market after the election, well, if an incumbent wins, the market goes up. If the incumbent party loses, the market goes down. Now, I'm not a big fan of on the other hand journalism, but on the other hand, the markets tend to do better when the Democrats are in the White House. So, if that has you thoroughly confused, that's the way it should be.

As for the bad business move of the day, the NBA starts tonight, and I'm probably the only person who's going to tell you that. Because -- I mean, what a silly night to start the NBA. They should start it tomorrow night or last night.

HEMMER: How many games tonight, do you know?

SERWER: Three games tonight, including the Lakers against the Nuggets, Denver and also Houston -- I forgot, but that's the big game. Sacramento's playing. You know, but anyway, what a silly day to start.

HEMMER: What happens in an election year where the NHL players are on strike -- or a lockout?

SERWER: That's only in Canadian elections.

HEMMER: And Sweden.

SERWER: That's right.

HEMMER: Thanks, Andy.

SERWER: OK, you're welcome.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: You can take some comfort in the fact that the NBA season lasts until Labor Day. SERWER: Yes, we will be able to catch some games.

CAFFERTY: It goes on and on like tooth decay. It's just -- it's relentless.

O'BRIEN: ... like tooth decay. I like that.

SERWER: Tooth decay.

CAFFERTY: What's that?

O'BRIEN: I'm going to steal that. It's like tooth decay.

CAFFERTY: It's relentless.

O'BRIEN: Well, thank you.

CAFFERTY: Our "Question of the Day" is how are you going to react if your guy loses? Are you going to be a grown-up about this, or are you going to just become a potty mouth and throw a little hissy fit?

Here's the deal. Mike in Farmington: "I think I'll begin a new career as a prescription drug runner between the U.S. and Canada."

Weldon in Newmarket, Ontario: "Doesn't matter who wins because you still lose."

Linda in Milford: "Kerry's my man, but if he loses, I will revert to my childhood and start picketing against the war. I'm a lot slower now, but I have the money to have my signs professionally done."

And looking back at a couple of the jokes, the political humor that made this long, tedious campaign at least bearable: "Today John Kerry announced a foolproof plan to wipe out the $500 billion deficit. He's going to put it on his wife's gold card." That's from Craig Kilborn.

Want to scroll the prompter up here so I can figure out where I'm going next?

O'BRIEN: There you go. Keep going. Right there.

CAFFERTY: Thank you so much. I hope it didn't interrupt your coffee break or anything, but I appreciate the help.

"President Bush said yesterday it doesn't make any sense to raise taxes on the rich, because rich people can figure out how to dodge taxes. And then Dick Cheney said, 'Shut up, you're ruining everything.'"

That was from Jay Leno. And now you can go back to sleep now on the teleprompter. Thanks for your help. I appreciate it.

HEMMER: Warm milk. In a moment here, back out to the polls. Voting underway across much of the country now. We'll let you know whether or not we're hearing of any snags at this point.

Back in a moment here, top of the hour as we roll on for five hours today. Campaign 2004 on this AMERICAN MORNING.



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