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THE SITUATION ROOM

Stuart Rothenberg Predicts Dems Take House, Senate; The Michael J. Fox Factor

Aired November 2, 2006 - 19:00   ET

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


PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you -- Wolf.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks very much, Lou. And to our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM where new pictures and information are arriving all the time.

ZAHN: Standing by we've got CNN reporters all over the country and around the world to bring you tonight's top stories.

BLITZER: And they're happening right now. There's a powerful new prediction about the battle for the United States Congress. It's just coming in to CNN. It's going to be raising a lot of eyebrows in the political world. You're going to want to see what it says.

ZAHN: Gee, I wonder what that could be. And Wolf, it comes to yet another day on the trail for President Bush addressing the elephant in the room he can't ignore, growing voter anxiety about Iraq just five days before this election.

BLITZER: And this hour as well, have evangelicals lost some of their faith in the president and his party? The answer could turn the battle for Congress one way or another.

ZAHN: And the Michael J. Fox factor. The actor's using his star power to try to influence the vote. Is he being used? Well that's what some people say and tonight the actor goes one on one with Anderson Cooper.

I'm Paula Zahn.

And I'm Wolf Blitzer. From the CNN Election Headquarters in New York, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

And this just coming in to CNN tonight, a new prediction of the Democrats' dream, the Republicans' nightmare, a prediction that it could in fact come true, a potential power shift in the United States Senate and the House of Representatives.

Let's bring in our senior analyst Jeff Greenfield. He's joining us with the bottom line. First of all, tell our viewers what we're now hearing.

JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SENIOR ANALYST: Well this is an estimate of prediction that comes from Stu Rothenberg, who's one of the most respected and one of the more prudent political analysts in Washington. He's been on our air many, many times. And basically what he's said is that for the first time he's making this prediction, that state and national dynamics favor Democrats netting six seats and winning control of the Senate.

He's already predicted that the Democrats will take over the House and I can show you what's changed in his predictions...

BLITZER: Show us exactly what he's now suggesting.

GREENFIELD: This is the key. Virginia, we know it's one of the more contested states. He's now saying that the prevailing winds, if you will, favor Jim Webb over incumbent Senator George Allen, which would mean a Democratic pickup in that state and because of his other analyses, he thinks that Rick Santorum in Pennsylvania, the Republican, is likely to be defeated by Bob Casey. And he suggests that in four other states, Democrats are ahead.

That in Montana, in Rhode Island, and in Missouri, and that would be enough to give the Democrats that control. He's looking at two vulnerable seats, one in each party. He thinks Tennessee's a tossup, which is now held by a -- by Bill Frist. He thinks that's too close to call. And you see here, New Jersey now held by Bob Menendez, is too close to call. But if you fill in Virginia and Pennsylvania...

BLITZER: And Ohio.

GREENFIELD: ... and Ohio and then add to it -- thank you -- and then add to it Montana, there we go and Rhode Island. And what else am I missing?

(CROSSTALK)

GREENFIELD: And Missouri -- right. He's saying that would give the Democrats the six seats they would need for control of the Senate.

BLITZER: And the Democrats would get that magic number if 51 and that would be enough for -- first, for them to be the majority in the United States Senate.

GREENFIELD: This is important, this isn't a poll. This is an analysis. But it's by someone who tends not to be, you know not to be an outlier. He doesn't go out on a limb.

BLITZER: He's very cautious.

GREENFIELD: He was the guy who helped on election night two years ago, one of the first people to say you know what, Florida is going for Bush. He reads these numbers as well as anybody. And as you know, Wolf, in a world where there are 25 polls a day, where the political arena is kind of now in a state of pre-election frenzy. This judgment by one of the more respected people in the field is going to be the talk of the political world I think tomorrow morning.

BLITZER: And he's also, as you accurately point out, he's predicting the House of Representatives will go Democratic, but by an even bigger margin than he predicted before. GREENFIELD: This is THE so-called wave. Instead of guessing or estimating 18 to 28 seats, he's now thinking 34 to 40, so...

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: ... a huge, huge night for Democrats. We're going to continue to watch it, but Stuart Rothenberg suggesting, suggesting that the Democrats will be the majority in United States Senate -- Paula.

ZAHN: Of course, the one thing that no one will dispute, Wolf, is the fact that the key issue hanging over this election is Iraq, where tonight, a massive search continues for a kidnapped American soldier in Baghdad against a backdrop of new bloodshed. At least 30 people were killed in shootings, bombings and raids over a 24-hour period.

On the campaign trail at home President Bush defends the war, knowing the violence and fate of American troops are first and foremost on many voters minds. Brian Todd is in Washington, but we begin tonight with our White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux. How concerned is the White House about these numbers on Iraq, Suzanne?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, certainly it's a great deal of concern from the White House and the president actually was visiting one of those states that Jeff mentioned that was quite vulnerable, Montana. The president also visiting Nevada. Now these are red states. These are states that the president carried two years ago, so it really speaks volumes about the possible vulnerability that Republicans face.

And as you mentioned, the elephant in the room is the Iraq war. It is the number one issue for voters. The president, as well as the Iraq war highly unpopular now, so what you're seeing is a strategy by this president, this administration to twist things, to turn it around and put the onus on the Democrats to come up with solutions to solve the problems in Iraq.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Imagine this -- we're in the middle of a war on terror. And one of the most fundamental fights is in Iraq. And yet the Democrats have no plan for victory. They have no idea how to win. Harsh criticism is not a plan for victory.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MALVEAUX: And Paula, the president's going to be visiting that battleground state of Missouri that was mentioned before and really the strategy is two parts here. You look at the itinerary, the president is visiting about a half-dozen states or so before he votes in Texas, red states. He's going go after the Republican base. He's also trying to generate as much positive publicity in the local news, the local media as possible before Tuesday -- Paula. ZAHN: So no matter how many Republicans are running away from this president on the issue of Iraq, you're telling me the White House is going to go forward and continue campaigning on the war for the next five days.

MALVEAUX: There are certainly two things that the president is talking about. He's talking about the Iraq war, but he is putting the onus on the Democrats to find a solution, saying that his strategy, he's got a winning strategy, but what do the Democrats offer. The second thing he's talking about the state of the economy, saying it's strong and he believes that the issues over taxes will really rally the Republican base.

ZAHN: We'll be watching it all closely from here on election night. Suzanne Malveaux thank you so much -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Thanks, Paula. So as President Bush stands by his defense secretary, one top Republican leader in Congress is pushing the blame for the situation in Iraq down the line somewhat to the U.S. military generals in Iraq, but whether that's fair is certainly open to debate. Let's bring in CNN's Brian Todd -- Brian.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, that's been a hot debate today since the House majority made that comment, so we have been asking military analysts could the generals reasonably share some of that responsibility.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TODD (voice-over): The number one issue in this election and the political blame game now extends to the commanders. Just after President Bush reinforces his loyalty to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld this exchange between Wolf Blitzer and House Majority Leader John Boehner.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER: Let's not blame what's happening in Iraq on Rumsfeld.

BLITZER: But he's in charge...

BOEHNER: But the fact is the generals on the ground are in charge and he works closely with them and the president.

TODD: Boehner then fends off a swarm of criticism from Democrats, later praises U.S. generals for doing a heroic job in Iraq. But one military analyst says the generals should share some of the blame because they have the responsibility and the right to go straight to the president and ask for more troops if they feel they need them. And the president has publicly said he'll accommodate.

PRESIDENT BUSH: I will send more troops to Iraq if General Casey says I need more troops in Iraq to achieve victory.

TODD: So why have the generals held back?

FRANK GAFFNEY, CENTER FOR SECURITY POLICY: My sense is that yes the generals have a great deal of responsibility here, have a great deal of authority in terms of setting the right number of forces on the ground in Iraq and have concluded that they do not want unbalanced to have more.

TODD: But two other military analysts we spoke to say even if the generals wanted more troops, they know better than to ask their two civilian commanders.

LAWRENCE KORB, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: There's no doubt about the fact that Rumsfeld has created a climate in which people who go against his policies know it's not going to be well-received.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TODD: This afternoon, a Pentagon spokesman labeled that complete nonsense. Quote, "an insult to the integrity and an assault on the character of senior military officers." Those generals have also repeatedly denied to being reluctant to ask for more troops -- Wolf.

BLITZER: I suspect that debate's going to continue. Brian, thanks very much -- Paula.

ZAHN: And it might just continue right now with Jack Cafferty. Hey, Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Paula, there's a very large pink elephant in the room when it comes to these elections. What happens to President Bush if the Republicans lose their grip on power? This president has pulled off a power grab in the name of the war on terror, the likes of which this country hasn't seen in a very long time.

And in the process, people who are lots smarter than I am suggest that he has broken this nation's laws over and over and over again, from invading a sovereign nation without provocation, to torturing prisoners, to the NSA spy program, to holding people without a right to a court hearing or a lawyer, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. If we are indeed a nation of laws, then presumably that applies to President Bush as much as it does to you or to me.

Bill Clinton, you'll recall, was impeached for telling a lie. Here's the question. If the Republicans lose the election Tuesday, what should happen to President Bush? E-mail us at CaffertyFile@CNN.com or go to CNN.com/CaffertyFile.

BLITZER: He'll be very depressed if the Republicans lose on Tuesday.

CAFFERTY: I imagine he will and maybe with good reason.

BLITZER: Jack.

ZAHN: I imagine you'll be flooded with e-mails on that one tonight.

BLITZER: He always is. Thanks, Jack. In just a moment the Bush factor. We're going to speak with one Republican who's making surprising gains by distancing himself from the White House.

ZAHN: Also we're going to be talking about the evangelical factor, Christian conservatives and the GOP. Will religious voters turn out in force to try to keep Republicans in power?

BLITZER: And this just coming in as well -- Michael J. Fox, he's become a fierce factor in the stem cell debate. Our own Anderson Cooper has just sat down with the actor. Anderson is standing by to join us live here in THE SITUATION ROOM and we'll get some of that interview with Michael J. Fox -- all that coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: On Tuesday will Maryland make history or will history have to wait? In Maryland Senate race, a candidate could be become that state's first African American elected senator. But a win by the Democrat Ben Cardin could put that all on hold. We spoke to Ben Cardin here in THE SITUATION ROOM earlier this week, now his Republican opponent.

Joining us now the Republican candidate, the lieutenant governor of Maryland, Michael Steele. Lieutenant Governor, thanks very much for coming in.

LT. GOV. MICHAEL STEELE (R-MD), MARYLAND SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: It's good to be in THE SITUATION ROOM with you man. How's it going?

BLITZER: Good. We're always excited...

STEELE: Good.

BLITZER: ... this time of the year as we get close to elections. I know you're working hard. You're very -- you're getting close in this election. It wasn't supposed to be this close in a so-called blue state like Maryland.

STEELE: No.

BLITZER: But a lot of people are saying that you're doing well in part because you're running away from President Bush. Is that true?

STEELE: No I'm not running away from the president. I'm not running towards the president. I'm running for the United States Senate and I'll keep saying it over and over again. This election is about my state. It's about the people in the state. I have had a conversation with them now for over a year and they're responding to the conversation.

BLITZER: Have you asked the president to stay away from Maryland?

(LAUGHTER) STEELE: No, I haven't. No, the president came in for me in the early phases of the campaign. Back in November he did a great event for me. I have had his father in, his mother. We have had the vice president in. We have had a great deal of support from Republicans around the country. But I have also had a great deal of support and endorsements from the likes of Russell Simmons, Kathy Hughes (ph), Charles Dutton, and a host of other folks...

(CROSSTALK)

STEELE: ... who see the value of this campaign and want to be a part of it.

BLITZER: Here's what the Reverend Al Sharpton said about you the other day when he was here in THE SITUATION ROOM. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Steele's trying to run away from his party. He's spent the last couple of weeks distancing himself from his party. The problem with that is if you're on the field with the other team, even if you run the other way, you still have on their uniform.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: He has a way of phrasing it, as you well know. You want...

STEELE: Oh, he does. He does. Well the only response to Al is I look forward to having a cigar with him when this is over and I welcome him to my Senate chamber and we can talk.

BLITZER: A final question, do you disagree at all with the president of the United States when it comes to his strategy in trying to win the war in Iraq?

STEELE: I do. I have some real concerns there. I noted in the piece before -- the comments about the Defense Department. I think the Defense Department, Secretary Rumsfeld have an obligation to step up and put the proper strategy on the ground and listen to generals. They will tell you the strategy that should be in place.

This should not be emanating out of the Pentagon. It should be emanating from the generals on the ground. And I think it's important that this administration in partnership with the White House -- with the Pentagon and the State Department and the Senate and the House leadership put the onus on the Iraqi government to step up and take control of the insurgency, take control of building out the democracy that they voted three times for.

The strategy of using a conventional mean against an insurgency is incorrect. It's out of step and out of tune with trying to win this thing. I would like to see them correct the course immediately, because the course we're on right now isn't achieving the objective and that is stabilizing an Iraq that will be an ally for the United States, not an enemy. BLITZER: Would you agree with the president what he said yesterday that Donald Rumsfeld's is doing a quote, "fantastic job" when it comes to Iraq?

STEELE: Let's put it this way. He wouldn't be my secretary of defense.

BLITZER: We'll leave it right there. Michael Steele is the lieutenant governor of Maryland. He's running for the U.S. Senate, a much closer race than a lot of the pundits predicted. Lieutenant Governor, thanks very much for coming into THE SITUATION ROOM.

STEELE: Thank you my friend. Good to see you.

BLITZER: Thank you -- Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele...

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: What?

ZAHN: Mincing no words about Donald Rumsfeld...

BLITZER: No, he's not a big fan of Donald Rumsfeld. A lot of the Republican candidates are sort of walking away from Donald Rumsfeld at this critical moment, especially if they're in close races.

ZAHN: And he didn't leave any gray area there.

BLITZER: We're still following other news. Religious voters specifically, are there cracks in the alliance between the evangelicals and the GOP? We'll speak with the Reverend Jerry Falwell.

ZAHN: And then we're going to be catching up with actor turned activist Michael J. Fox. Hear what he has to say about Rush Limbaugh and the accusations that he's being used by the Democratic Party. Anderson Cooper just sat down with him. It's an interview, I think, you're going to really enjoy.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: We're learning important details about a kidnapped American soldier in Iraq. Right now officials are conducting an all- out search to try to find him. And today we also learned his name Ahmed Qusai al-Taayie. He's 41 years old, a specialist in the U.S. Army Reserves. Officials showed a picture of him earlier today. Officials say the search includes both military and political activities.

CNN's Michael Ware is in Baghdad. He's joining Paula and me right now. Michael, what do we know? How is this search coming? Because we suspect it's been hampered somewhat by what the U.S. military is allowed and not allowed to do in and around that area called Sadr City. MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well very much so, Wolf. What we're seeing here is the intersection of politics and military operations here. And we're seeing a position where everyone is having to start declaring their hand, so to speak. We're seeing Muqtada al- Sadr protecting his power base and the prime minister, Nouri Maliki, now an American partner, still has -- is under the great influence of Muqtada. So the military is trying to do things.

The most glaring example is seal off Sadr City, which they achieved for over a week following what they believe is the kidnap of this soldier. However, the prime minister, according to his press release, ordered them to lift those checkpoints or open ones which were already in place.

ZAHN: You have spent some time, with the Mehdi Army. What you have been learned about their tactics, their strategy, their goals?

WARE: Well, what this is really about is politics and power. I mean this is about maneuvering for position. And the leader of the Mehdi Army, Muqtada al-Sadr, is in a key position to capitalize on what's going on right now. And that's what we're seeing being played out.

Now, the question is, who has this U.S. soldier? A senior U.S. officer I spoke to said they had strong intelligence that it was a Jaish al Mehdi, or Mehdi Army fraction from within the Sadr bloc. Now the real issue is, is it mainstream or is this a rogue element? I mean we have seen this situation emerge here a keen to the IRA, the Irish Republican Army, and the real IRA, a much more militant wing that is disaffected with Muqtada because they don't believe he's militant enough.

BLITZER: Michael, as you take a look at the overall situation right now, give us the bottom line on this day, five days before the U.S. election. Does it look like the situation is improving a little bit or is it status quo or getting worse?

WARE: Well, Wolf, we have a U.S. soldier missing in whatever fashion. We see that the insurgent, the Sunni insurgent war continues with attacks and U.S. casualties. We have seen the operation to secure Baghdad, a massive undertaking, which has stalled even by the military's own admission, not achieving the results. There's some temporary lulls in violence, but overall not affecting the dynamic. And all the while, Sadr City, this Mehdi Army stronghold, which American commanders made it very clear, that even with negotiation they intended to enter, still remains an almost no-go zone for U.S. forces except for lightning raids -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Michael Ware, thanks very much. Michael Ware reporting, Paula, for us from Baghdad. He's a very courageous journalist.

ZAHN: He is. He has spent a lot of time embedded with American troops as well. And we're very proud of the work that he files for us. BLITZER: And we're just getting this, coming in to CNN, a top evangelical Christian leader quits after accusations he paid for sex with another man all the while opposing gay rights and same-sex marriage. We're going to bring you the shocking details.

ZAHN: And we're also going to move on to issue of Christian voters and the GOP, two very different perspectives from the Reverend Jerry Falwell and columnist Andrew Sullivan. They're both joining us live.

BLITZER: And from actor to activist with a very personal stake in the outcome of the midterm election. The actor, Michael J. Fox, sits down with our own Anderson Cooper. We'll have that interview for you.

We're live from CNN Election Headquarters in New York and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: To our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM where new pictures and information are arriving all the time.

ZAHN: Happening right now -- they helped before, but will they help again? Will Christian supporters of Republican turn out to help re-elect them? We're going to talk about the ties between many in the church and some in state with the Reverend Jerry Falwell.

BLITZER: Also, hot-button issues and celebrity causes, the actor Michael J. Fox talking about stem cell research while helping some candidates. Right now our own Anderson Cooper has just spoken with the actor. Anderson is standing by to tell us what Michael J. Fox is saying right now.

ZAHN: And coming up at the top of the hour, the number one issue in this upcoming election, Iraq. We're going to have a special edition of that in THE SITUATION ROOM tonight.

I'm Paula Zahn.

BLITZER: And I'm Wolf Blitzer. From the CNN Election Headquarters in New York, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

But first this shocking story just coming into CNN right now. The president of the National Association of the Evangelicals is temporarily stepping down amid allegations he carried on a three-year affair with a male prostitute. The Reverend Ted Haggard is also temporarily leaving his post as pastor of the 14,000 member New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

In a statement just released, he says he's voluntarily stepping down, stepping aside from his post, adding and I'm quoting now, "I hope to be able to discuss this matter in more detail at a later date." In the interim he says I will seek both spiritual advice and guidance. We're going to continue to follow up on this story and it comes just as evangelical Christians may vote by faith, but some say they're losing faith in the government they helped bring to power.

Our chief national correspondent John King is joining us now live from Boston with more -- John.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well Wolf, even evangelical Christians of course are a bedrock part of the Republican base. The president and other Republicans courting them in the final days, talking about their opposition to same-sex marriage and other issues, trying to gin up their intensity to get them to the polls. But there are some indications that like many others across this country evangelical Christians are very frustrated with what they see in Washington and it could be devastating to Republicans if they stay home.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(MUSIC)

KING (voice-over): The Word of Grace Ministries in central Pennsylvania, the Bible is the guide here. Song, a cherished part of evangelical worship.

(MUSIC)

KING: On this day, Pastor Dave Landis steers his sermon to politics and for once it is the flock that has to keep the preacher on the right path.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We want to encourage you to vote again November 9, when is it now, the 7th?

(SOUNDS)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, get out there and vote. Amen.

KING: The prayers and faces of the people who put Republicans in power and in an already-tough year for the GOP, there are some signs some feel those they sent to Washington have not kept the faith.

PASTOR DAVE LANDIS, WORD OF GRACE MINISTRIES: You would think with the control of the House and Senate, and the president there could have been more things put on the table that could have been, you know, pushed a little harder, so, I would say that there's little disappointment in some folks.

(MUSIC)

KING: Count Lois Romberger among the disappointed, still likely to vote Republican, but frustrated at little progress on a promised constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

LOIS ROMBERGER, EVANGELICAL VOTER: I think that the war in Iraq and the security issues and everything put that sort of on the back burner.

KING: It's not just about partisan allegiance. Commitment and passion matter, especially in midterm years when a lot of voters just stay home. And there are worry signs the Republicans in the mood of people like retiree Stan Rockey.

STAN ROCKEY, EVANGELICAL VOTER: I'll still be loyal, but probably not as enthusiastic and excited as I was before.

KING: He has company. Sixty percent of white evangelicals in a "Newsweek" poll said they plan to vote for Republican for Congress this year. That's down from more than 70 percent GOP support from two years ago.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People said, amen.

KING: Another worry sign for the GOP? A Pew Research Center poll showing 58 percent of evangelical Christians support the Iraq war, down from 71 percent in September.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We ask lord for your hand to be upon the various hot spots around the world, Lord.

KING: At tiny Rosedale Baptist Church in Latonia, Kentucky, with the weekly prayers for the troops in Iraq come growing questions about the president who sent them there.

REV. GREG WINGATE, ROSEDALE BAPTIST CHURCH: There is a general sense, you know, what is happening here? Is this something that we have had gone wrong about? Is this something we've failed in?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KING: And something interesting we learned in our conversations with the pastors both in Pennsylvania and in Kentucky is that in this midterm election year, they say they're getting less contact from the political parties and from national Christian conservative organizations than they did in the presidential year, less of an urgency they sense among the major organizations.

Again, though, Paula, most of these voters say they will turn out to vote. The question is what they tell us -- will they actually turn out next Tuesday? And you hear the Mark Foley scandal, other issues with Washington, many of them saying we send these people to power. They're not doing what we want them to do, but on the other hand, most of them -- most of them -- say they're Republicans and they'll probably, perhaps a bit reluctantly, get out to vote on Tuesday -- Paula.

ZAHN: Guess we'll know for sure next week, won't we, John? Thanks so much.

One of founding fathers of modern Christian right politics is the Reverend Jerry Falwell, who is calling on Christians to ignore what he calls Republican gloom and doom stories and just show up at the polls. He joins us tonight from Lynchburg, Virginia. Reverend, thank you so much for being with us. Before we talk midterm election politics, I just have got to ask about the breaking news tonight. The Reverend Ted Haggard, who is the president of the National Association of Evangelicals, a man who represents some 30 million evangelicals in this country, is stepping down after allegations he carried on a three-year affair with a male prostitute. You're reaction?

REV. JERRY FALWELL, CHANCELLOR, LIBERTY UNIV.: Well, I don't know him. I've met him, and he's been rather critical of activists like Dr. James Dobson and myself. In pastors' meetings, he's said we shouldn't be aggressive as we have. I certainly sympathize with his family and the great congregation that he pastors there, but I don't know him that well. And so -- and I don't know the facts of this issue.

I can only say it doesn't really matter whether it's pastor or a politician, the Bible basics for victorious living are clear, and a commitment to moral purity is basic, fundamental and elementary. I, again, pray for everybody hurt.

ZAHN: So if it's true, what do you think should happen to him?

FALWELL: Well, I think he's already done that. He stepped aside if it's true. I guess we'll know that somewhere down the road. But, obviously, if it's so, he must step aside. He'll no be longer able to pastor his church or lead the evangelical movement.

He doesn't really lead the movement. He's president of an association that's very loosely-knit, and I have never been a member of it. Most of people that I know have not, and no one has looked to them for leadership.

ZAHN: Let's move on to your predictions for next week. We have just heard in John King some of the poll results from "Newsweek" saying fewer evangelicals will actually vote Republican than they did in 2004. And a Gallup poll showing that white religious voters will be equally as likely to say they'll vote Democratic as Republican. How will evangelicals hurt Republicans next week?

FALWELL: You know, I really agree with Tip O'Neill that all politics is local. And I don't agree with the pundits that next Tuesday will be bloodbath for the president and for the Republican Party. I'm not a Republican. I'm not a Democrat either. I vote values and I vote for persons who are committed to the sanctity of life, born and unborn, and sanctity of marriage.

ZAHN: Right, but will evangelicals hurt or help the president and his party next week? How do you see it playing out?

FALWELL: Well, I'm speaking, I suppose, as much day and night around the nation to large groups of evangelicals as anybody. And I sense nothing but a commitment to the principles, the issues. Of course, no one is ever as excited in midterm elections as in presidential elections -- no one. But I would think -- I think next Tuesday -- I'm not a prophet. I'm not going to make a prediction, but I personally think the president will keep both houses.

ZAHN: I have heard from a number of evangelicals who are very angry about a new book out by a former White House insider who suggests that the Bush administration is very dismissive of evangelicals and downright insulting, even going as far as calling you ridiculous. Is that going to have any impact on the vote and are you upset about that?

FALWELL: Well, I won't use national television to tell you what I know about David Kuo ...

ZAHN: The author of the book.

FALWELL: ...except that he has never been -- yes, the author of the book. He has never been a Bush supporter. He should not have been hired. The people who worked around him -- I have e-mails that have come in today, even, telling me of his negative comments, his contempt for evangelical Christians. He didn't belong there. He never was a part of a team. And I think the book, as is indicated by the low sales, has been and will be a total fiasco.

ZAHN: So you're saying he's the one dismissive of evangelicals, not the president?

FALWELL: No question about that.

ZAHN: You have no reason to believe that this administration has ever insulted the faith of evangelicals?

FALWELL: Not this administration. I know George Bush very well. I know his parents. I've been friends for many years. I know them to be dedicated Christians. They're not perfect, any more than I am, but I have great confidence in the president and his genuineness, and whenever I hear -- especially 30 days before Election Day -- a book for profit, kiss and tell book, I dismiss it as fiction.

ZAHN: One final question for you about this administration. A number of evangelicals have also told me they are very angry about how government spending has increased during this administration, the highest rate since an administration going back to '60s. Are you trouble by that?

FALWELL: Well, I have to admit that I am not -- I am more of a fiscal conservative than some there, but I want to say that I -- that's not where my heart is. My heart is in the sanctity of life and marriage and values and defense against terrorism. I support what the president's doing in Iraq.

And if they're spending too much money, then I'll let someone else yell about that. But this president -- it's like this Mark Foley thing. That's not going to discourage any evangelicals I know from voting. We have lived through Bill Clinton and this situation with Foley is minuscule in comparison. So I think it's making a mountain out of mole hill. My people are all voting pro-life, pro-family. They'll do it next Tuesday. ZAHN: And very quickly, although you say you're not going to yell about this increased government spending, am I to interpret that you're not too crazy about it either, you wish that weren't the case?

FALWELL: Well, I'm in the going the say that at all because I'm not knowledgeable enough. That's not my field. And most of the people who are yelling, it isn't their field either.

ZAHN: All right. Reverend Falwell, always good to see you. Thanks for joining us.

FALWELL: Thank you.

ZAHN: Coming up next, a very different take from one you just heard on religion and politics. Columnist Andrew Sullivan joins us here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Then, Michael J. Fox has been making news this week over his last minute campaigning for candidates who favor stem cell research. He just sat down with Anderson and they had a remarkable conversation. You'll see it coming up next in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Are Christian conservatives losing faith in GOP? We just heard from the Reverend Jerry Falwell. Now we're joined by conservative columnist Andrew Sullivan.

Andrew, thanks very much for joining us.

Very quickly, your reaction to this really shocking story about Ted Haggard, the president of the National Association of Evangelicals, just coming in that he's stepping aside, at least temporarily, amid allegations that he might have been involved for some time with a male prostitute.

ANDREW SULLIVAN, AUTHOR, "THE CONSERVATIVE SOUL": Well, I think it makes the Mark Foley story seem minuscule. I mean this is a huge -- if it's true, and I don't know the facts, of course, and we figure out. But if it's true, then it means that the head of 30 million evangelicals is a hypocrite. And he's campaigning in Colorado against gay people and gay couples. And I think it may have an impact on the Colorado initiative to defend civil unions rather than marriages.

But I don't know the facts, and I think we need to withhold judgment until we do know the facts. He said says he's resigning and he's going to seek spiritual counseling. And the man says he has voicemails, according to "Rocky Mountain News" that I just read. But I don't know. We'll see. I think it looks very serious.

BLITZER: Let's talk a little bit about what we just heard from the Reverend Jerry Falwell. He says that his flock, if you will, the people that support him, the evangelicals, they're going to be very enthusiastic in going out there and voting for people who support, in his words, life -- who support the issues that he says the president endorses. What do you think about this evangelical, this Christian conservative vote this time around?

SULLIVAN: All I can say is that I think many evangelicals will vote according to their consciences. And they'll pray about it, and they have every right to do that. But many of them have become slightly worried about getting too close to power.

And they realize that Jesus did not talk about joining God and Caesar, he talked about keeping God and Caesar apart. And I think many evangelicals are reassessing whether they've made the right bargain in joining forces with political parties, or whether they should return to saving souls, rather than putting people to the ballots.

BLITZER: Based on what you sense, what do you think is going to happen with that vote?

SULLIVAN: I think it's going to be markedly down. But I don't know. All I know is I feel, among a lot of evangelicals -- I've been on a lot of Christian talk shows -- they actually agree with me. They think they've gone too close to power and it's corrupted them, and they need a time in the wilderness to think and pray and consult their consciences about what's going on.

BLITZER: Andrew Sullivan, thanks very much for coming in.

SULLIVAN: Thank you very much, Wolf.

BLITZER: And still ahead, the actor Michael J. Fox. He's been at the center of the embryonic stem cell research debate. He just sat down for an interview with our own Anderson Cooper. That interview and Anderson, that's coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: And I wanted to welcome you back to the SITUATION ROOM and our Election Headquarters, right here in New York.

One of the hot-button issues for voters this time around is stem cell research. And actor Michael J. Fox, who has battling Parkinson's Disease for years, has put himself right at the center of this controversy.

Joining me right now, my Anderson Cooper, our colleague who's upstairs right now. He has been on the campaign trial with Fox.

What did he have to say today?

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Well, he's in Virginia campaigning for Senate candidate Jim Webb, a Democrat. He was responding a lot tonight in our conversation -- and it was a very wide-ranging conversation -- responding a lot to Rush Limbaugh. Rush Limbaugh had said that either Michael J. Fox was acting or was not taking his medication in one of the campaign commercials he shot in Missouri. Limbaugh has since apologized for that. But Limbaugh continues to say that Michael J. Fox is misleading voters by implying that voting for one particular candidate for Senate or Congress will make a difference in embryonic stem cell research.

Here's how Michael responded to that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL J. FOX, ACTOR: I can't follow that logic. You have -- the both houses of Congress voted to pass legislation that would expand federal funding and expand embryonic stem cell research. The president, because he -- there wasn't a veto-proof margin, vetoed that legislation.

COOPER: It was his first and only veto.

FOX: It was his first and only veto. If you have a sufficient number of legislators on both sides, in both parties, he can't veto that legislation, or at least they can override it.

COOPER: So that's the mission for you now?

FOX: That's it.

COOPER: To go state by state and try to get...

FOX: That's the math I can't -- again, it's very -- to me, it flies in the face of how our system works, to say your vote doesn't count. I mean, it's the truest expression of the vote counting. If you have a point of view you want to express, or you want action you want to be taken -- and some people say, we will take that action, some people say, we will not take that action. Deciding who gets your vote is the purest expression of democracy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Critics also, including Rush Limbaugh, have continued to say also that Michael J. Fox is being used by Democrats and his illness used. Here's how he responded.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FOX: Who's using me?

COOPER: That you're a shill for the Democrats.

FOX: I called them. I've worked for Republicans, and I'd work for Republicans in the future. I looked at this election, because based on veto this summer, which really stung, I said, I want to do something to help move this thing forward. An I sat and said, who are pro-embryonic stem cell candidates in races that -- where their opposition is anti-embryonic stem cell, and I -- they all happened to be Democrats. But I called them and said, I'd like to help. If there is a Republican candidate out there who's pro-embryonic stem cell, who's in a race against an anti-embryonic stem cell candidate who's Democrat, I'd be happy to talk to you and happy to get involved.

It's really -- disease is a non-partisan problem. It's going to take a bi-partisan solution. We really have to transcend all this stuff and really look at it. And you know, it's like you've asked me questions and concerned questions from people who have different ideas and different feelings. That's the whole idea. I mean, I couldn't be happier than to hear those questions and hear those concerns because that constitutes a conversation. And that's what we desperately needed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: The stress makes his condition worse, of course. But he feels very determined in what he's doing. He feels he is making a difference and he continues to be on the campaign trail in the final days of this election -- Paula.

ZAHN: Yes, I guess one of the most poignant things I've heard him say is that he resents the fact that he is being painted as a victim, that no one wants to be in the situation he is, and that somehow, our nation really isn't all that comfortable seeing someone in his state of Parkinson's Disease. Did he talk about this?

COOPER: Yes. I mean, he talks about the stigma of the disease that still exists, and how much of what Rush Limbaugh said really cut to the core of that stigma and people's fear, people who have this disease, their fear of being called out in public, of people pointing. We talked a lot about that tonight -- Paula.

ZAHN: I think he is a great actor and great man. I used to watch his show, didn't you?

FOX: Everyone did.

ZAHN: Maybe you were too young to have watched his sitcom.

Thanks, Anderson.

Please stay tuned,everybody, for Anderson's full interview with Michael J. Fox tonight at 10:00 -- Wolf.

BLITZER: We're going to be watching that interview in full.

Thank you, Paula, very much.

He is a courageous, courageous man.

Still ahead, what should happen to President Bush is the Republicans lose the election Tuesday? Jack, standing by with your e- mail.

We'll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Here's the good news, Paula, Jack Cafferty's back with "Cafferty File".

ZAHN: I'm so excited.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Me too.

The question this hour is, if the Republicans lose the election on Tuesday, what should happen to President Bush?

A lot of you had responses to this question.

Ed in Pittsburgh: "Full accountability on the lies and cherry- picked intelligence in the lead-up to the Iraq catastrophe. If it leads to impeachment, so be it."

Marina, Hunterville, North Carolina: "For now, I'll be satisfied knowing that his disastrous policies will be kept in check by having checks and balances once again. As for the future, Bush's disastrous policies will haunt us for generations, and he will go down in history as a failure."

Ganesan, Nashville, Tennessee: "Nothing. The most important thing is to do the people's business. Congress cannot waste two more years on prosecution and investigation that has nothing to do with jobs, war, health care cost and immigration."

Lance writes from San Antonio, Texas: "He should be censured, putting a black mark on his legacy. Impeachment would be too difficult for the nation."

Jeff in Shoreline, Washington: "Of course George Bush deserves to be impeached, and he should also be thrown in jail. Unfortunately, he has the best anti-impeachment insurance around, Vice President Cheney."

And Dave in Ann Arbor, Michigan: "He should be "legally" water- boarded until he can recite the Bill of Rights and define habeas corpus."

If you didn't see your e-mail here, you can go to CNN.com/CaffertyFile and read more of them online. And we got a lot of them.

ZAHN: So you didn't get too many gentle ones tonight, did you?

CAFFERTY: It's amazing. Ninety-eight percent of the ones that I read, and I looked at several hundred of them, said impeach him.

ZAHN: Interesting.

CAFFERTY: Pure and simple. There's a lot of anger out there over what this man's done.

BLITZER: You know, we still have another hour to go tonight.

CAFFERTY: Really? Oh, good.

BLITZER: So don't leave. We're going to be -- you're going to be back.

ZAHN: Look at that glee on his face. He couldn't be any more excited about anything.

See you later, Jack.

All right, for many Americans heading to the polls next week, it is all about Iraq. It is the driving issue. It is the focus of our next hour. We're going to cut through the politics of it all. We're going to get a reality check on the war that has left so many voters wringing their hands, scratching their heads. The majority -- at least -- of Americans tell us they are opposed to this war and never thought we should have gotten into it.

BLITZER: And also ahead, Paula, in the next hour of the SITUATION ROOM, we get the story behind an American soldier missing now in Iraq. His name, now public, his fate, though, unknown. Much more of our coverage right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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