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Bringing the presidential candidates unfiltered, up close and in their own words. Speeches by Republican Mike Huckabee, Democrat John Edwards and Republican John McCain.

Aired January 13, 2008 - 14:00   ET

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


MARY SNOW, CNN NEWS ANCHOR: Welcome back to "CNN's BALLOT BOWL," a chance for you to hear directly from the candidates running for president in 2008.
I'm Mary Snow in Southfield, Michigan. That's the site of the next battlefield for Republicans.

Democrats are gearing up for Nevada's caucuses and that's where Jim Acosta is in Las Vegas.

Hi, Jim.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN NEWS ANCHOR: Hi, Mary. The big jackpot in the upcoming event of caucuses is Las Vegas where we're standing by live now. And this is going to be a hotly contested race. The Nevada caucus is coming up this Saturday. We'll see Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama campaigning hard in this state but we shouldn't neglect to mention the other candidates in this field.

And the other name in this race right now -- the other big name in this race is former Senator John Edwards from North Carolina. He's in that state where he was born, South Carolina. We'll see him in just a few moments as we go over our game plan for this next hour of "BALLOT BOWL."

After we dip into see John Edwards in Florence, South Carolina, we'll go to Michigan and see John McCain and hear what he has to say. He's campaigning in Michigan today, stumping for votes, trying to get that momentum going in Michigan where he has a tough fight against Mitt Romney, the former governor there.

I want to toss it back to Mary, who is keeping tabs on the race in Michigan where it sounds like things are heating up there -- Mary?

SNOW: They certainly are, Jim. We just heard from Mitt Romney here in Southfield. As you mentioned, we'll hear from John McCain in Howell, Michigan, coming up this hour.

But we want to take to you hear from Mike Huckabee, the former governor from Arkansas. Some of the excerpts we have here are on tape, and this is one of them. Mike Huckabee was campaigning in Michigan before he headed out to South Carolina yesterday. He spoke at a prayer breakfast in Grand Rapids. And here is Mike Huckabee in his own words.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MIKE HUCKABEE, (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Mike Huckabee, a Baptist minister, as if that's the sole purpose for which I'm running for president.

The thing I find interesting is, for some people, that's a disqualifier. For me, it's a qualifier. I'm running for president on the basis of having governed a state, actually run a government longer than anybody else who is running for president as a Democrat or Republican.

I don't for one moment hide the fact, nor run from the fact, that for 12 years I pastored churches in Arkansas and was then president of Baptist convention of my state. I always say that causes some people some heartburn. I understand that. You can't imagine when I first ran for office and went out and put my name in the hat -- my first office that I sought was the United States Senate. Did not win that race. Came back the following year and ran in a special election for lieutenant governor. Won. Re-elected the following year in the regular election. Became governor when the governor was forced to resign after a felony conviction. And then re-elected twice more.

When I first ran for office, you can imagine people in the Deep South, when they found out that this guy had been president of the Baptist convention and was running for public office. People would come up -- one of my favorite stories, a lady said I hear you're a Baptist minister. I said that's correct. She said let me ask you something. Are you one of those narrow-minded Baptist who think only Baptists are going to heaven? I says, no, ma'am, I'm more narrow that that. I don't think all of the Baptists are going to make it myself. (LAUGHTER). I know too many of those guys. (LAUGHTER)

The little town of Malvern, Arkansas, is somewhere between Little Rock and my hometown of Hope on Interstate 30 and, during my re- election campaign for lieutenant governor, I was in the courthouse square doing what they call brick fest, which is a festival they have every summer. The only big plant in the community is a brick making plant so they celebrate bricks. That tells what you a small town it is when you celebrate a brick. (LAUGHTER).

I was out campaigning and a lady came up to me and first thing she said was I want you to know that I, too, am a Baptist but -- when she said that I knew, buckle up and brace yourself because here she comes I knew. She started out and she said I'm a Baptist but I want you to know I will not be voting for you. I don't think people like you ought to be in politics. In fact, I want you to know that I would never vote for you. I haven't. I won't. I would never vote for you under any circumstances. Sir, I wouldn't vote for you if you were St. Peter. I said, lady, that's fine. If I were St. Peter, you wouldn't be in my district. (LAUGHTER).

I know some of you think that was unkind, but I already marked her down as an undecided voter that wouldn't get swayed anyhow.

I don't presume upon you that you automatically support me because of a common faith. I don't presume that. In fact, when people make the question to me and I'm asked you just assume all of the Christians and faith people, not just evangelicals, Catholics and all the other faith community, you assume they will vote for you. No. Having been a person in the faith community as long as I have, I assume they aren't. I have to earn that.

I also recognize that there is a unique kind of opportunity. As I said to many crowds of people across this country, for a long time those of us who are people of faith are asked to support candidates who would come and talk to us. And they would even come to us but rarely has there been one that has come from us. And I don't presume that that means that you should automatically support me. But I would like to ask of you your consideration and, if you're so inclined, to help us mobilize people of like mind and spirit because quite frankly I think this country is at a turning point in so many ways.

And life is in the balance. For me, the pro-life issue is not a preferential one. I have said this all over America. At the heart and soul of this country is the idea that every human being has worth and value. This is not about being anti-abortion. Whenever I'm called that, I say you don't understand. I'm not anti-abortion. I'm pro-life and there's a fundamental difference. I'm not against something. I'm for something. I'm for the idea that your life, and every other life has equal value and every life should be treated with dignity and respect and honor. And it goes not just to the heart of the Judeo-Christian concern, but to the heart of our own documents that gave us birth in this country.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SNOW: And that is Mike Huckabee, Republican presidential hopeful, speaking Saturday to a prayer breakfast here in Michigan in Grand Rapids.

We'll get more insight on the Huckabee campaign from our producer Peter Hamby. He is standing by in South Carolina.

Also coming up, former Senator John Edwards is in Florence, South Carolina. He is about to begin an event there.

We're also monitoring on the Democratic side Senator Hillary Clinton, who is in Columbia. She is still speaking at a town hall meeting there.

We're canvassing the country with the candidates. You're watching "BALLOT BOWL" on CNN. Stay with us. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ACOSTA: Welcome back to "BALLOT BOWL '08." I'm Jim Acosta in Las Vegas, Nevada, where Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have been going toe-to-toe.

But we don't want to forget the other Democratic -- the other major Democratic contender in this race and that is former North Carolina Senator John Edwards. He's addressing supporters in Florence, South Carolina, which is an important city in South Carolina.

Let's dip into that coverage now and see what the Senator is saying to his supporters there.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN EDWARDS, (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And he had been born with a severe cleft palate and because he had that cleft palate, he couldn't speak. He didn't have health insurance. Couldn't pay to get an operation, a simple operation would have fixed it. Somebody came along and fixed it for him voluntarily without being paid. The problem is they did it when he was 50 years old.

James Lowe -- that was his name -- lived for 50 years in America not able to speak because he had no health care coverage. We are a better country than this. We are. You know, to have middle class families struggling the way they are. (APPLAUSE). To have millions of Americans who has no health care coverage, have 37 million of our own people who wake up every single day living in poverty. We've got to do better than this. We can't stand quietly by and let this continue.

I think about watching my grandparents who worked in that same mill that the pastor did this morning. I think about watching my grandmother, who I loved dearly, help take care of me, leave her house in the mill village, when we were there, and make her way own to the mill with her apron on, work her shift and come back home. My grandfather did the same thing. My father worked for 36 years in the mills.

Think about why they did it. And then I ask all of you why did your parents do it? We're no different than everybody else. My parents did it. My grandparents did it. Your parents did it. Your grandparents did it. They worked and struggled and sacrificed. They did it so that you could have a better life. That's why they did it.

And they have now passed that torch to us. They have left to us the moral responsibility of making certain that our children have a better life than we had. We have work to do. We can do it but we have work to do. (APPLAUSE).

I mean, we need universal health care. Every man, woman and child in this country ought to have health care. Period. I'm proud of the fact I came up with the first universal health care plan in this campaign. That's a good thing.

Second, we've to get off our addiction to oil. When we do it, when we move to clean renewable sources of energy, we can create a million new jobs. How about if we put those jobs in the places where the jobs are needed badly and where jobs have left and unemployment is high? We ought to put the jobs in the places where they are needed the worst.

We've had a trade policy in this country -- NAFTA, CAFTA -- these trade deals that have cost Americans millions of jobs. That has to stop. We need to have a president that says, are these trade proposals good for working middle class families? I have seen it myself. I've seen the mills close. I've seen the jobs leave. I know up close and personal what it means.

Then we got a tax system that is warped. It's warped in favor of the richest Americans. Middle class families carry the tax burden in this country. (APPLAUSE).

I don't know how many of you saw this, everybody knows who Warren Buffet is? Wealthy guy. Warren Buffet offered the "Forbes 400," those are the 400 richest people in the country -- billionaires -- this was the offer he made to them. Stay with me on this because it really tells you something. He offered each one of them $1 million in cash if -- you got to do more than that -- a million in cash if they could prove that they were paying -- they were paying a higher tax rate than their secretary. Are you with me? A million dollars if they could show these billionaires that they were paying a higher tax rate than their secretary. Nobody took him up on it.

Now, what's wrong with that picture? It means the billionaires are paying lower tax rates than the secretaries that work for them. This is not right. Our tax system is skewed for multinational corporations. How about if we give tax breaks to work in middle class families in this country? (APPLAUSE AND CHEERING).

And then last, if we actually want to make certain we meet our responsibility to our children and give them a better life than us, we must bring this mess of a war in Iraq to an end. (APPLAUSE).

Let's bring home -- and I will do this as president. In the first year that I'm president, I will bring all combat troops out of Iraq, will end combat missions in Iraq, no permanent military bases. (APPLAUSE).

We need to restore America as a moral leader in the world and a country worthy of leadership. That used to be true. The America, I grew up in was looked up to and respected by the rest of the world. Everybody wanted to be like America, right. That's the place America needs to be again. If we have the right president with the right vision and the right leadership, we can be in that place again. We can restore the promise of this country, which I've been able to live and many of us have been able to live, we can restore that promise to our children and grandchildren. That's the great responsibility that all of us have.

And so I appreciate all of you coming here. I hope you got something good to eat. I want to you stay healthy and energetic because I need you to be at the polls for the South Carolina primary. (APPLAUSE). And vote for me. Thank you. I'm asking you to vote for me, to work for me. Make phone calls. We got people out here who can sign you up. We would love to have your help because this is a movement, a movement for change. We desperately need change in this country and this is a movement for change. And I'm asking you to join this movement for change so that, when it is over, every one of us will be able to look our children in the eye and say we did exactly for you what our parents and grandparents did for us. We made certain that we left America better than we found it and than we gave you a better life than we had. Thank you all very much for being here.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA: And there was former North Carolina Senator John Edwards addressing supporters in Florence, South Carolina. He's looking for a big win down there in the Palmetto state.

Stay with us on "BALLOT BOWL." Forget football on other networks today. We have political football here on CNN. We're monitoring events in South Carolina. Hillary Clinton is there.

Also, up in Michigan, we'll be seeing the former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and Arizona Senator John McCain throughout the afternoon. They are battling it out up in Michigan. Stay with us. This is "BALLOT BOWL" on CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SNOW: You're watching CNN's "BALLOT BOWL," a chance for you to hear directly from the presidential candidates. We have a lot going on this afternoon.

I'm Mary Snow in Southfield, Michigan, where we've been keeping track of the candidates as the primary is held on Tuesday.

Earlier, we heard earlier from Mitt Romney who had an event here. We also just heard from Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards in Florence, South Carolina.

Also in South Carolina, one of his chief rivals, Senator Hillary Clinton, who is holding a town hall meeting in Columbia.

Later this hour, we'll hear from, on the Republican side, Senator John McCain, who is holding an event right now in Howell, Michigan. We're waiting for him to begin speaking.

First, we want to go to our Peter Hamby, our producer, who has been traveling with the Huckabee campaign. We did hear from Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor.

Peter, you're in South Carolina. Mike Huckabee went there today but he's coming back to Michigan, isn't he?

PETER HAMBY, PRODUCER, CNN: That's right, Mary. He did two church appearances in the Spartanburg area this morning in South Carolina. He was only down here for a few hours and he turned around and he'll be leaving shortly to fly back to Michigan. And he'll make another church appearance this evening. All of the events are closed press of course, although the Huckabee campaign formally let press in before the surge in the polls back before Christmas.

SNOW: Give us a sense of what the events are like in South Carolina? It seems as if it is getting very heated in that state, especially between Mike Huckabee and Fred Thompson, the former Senator from Tennessee. Give us a sense of what you're seeing on the ground. HAMBY: We have thought that Huckabee might come to South Carolina and camp out here until the primary. He realizes that his support is catching on in the western part of Michigan and traveling throughout the state and spending time there in advance of the primary on Tuesday.

Fred Thompson is making play down here and taking a bus tour throughout the state. The initial thought was that maybe Fred Thompson will take votes from his friend and fellow fiscal conservative John McCain, but he also might take some votes from Mike Huckabee, from conservatives in the state dissatisfied with Huckabee's record on immigration and taxes. Fred Thompson offers an alternative to Mike Huckabee.

It will be an interesting race. It's certainly a much more dynamic race than it was during the last primary in 2000.

SNOW: Certainly a dynamic race. Peter Hamby, thanks for checking in with us.

We'll go now live to Howell, Michigan. Senator John McCain is speaking to crowds there. Here he is in his own words.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN MCCAIN, (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He came to New Hampshire and said, hi, I'm Morris Rudolph from Arizona and I'm running for president of the United States. And the barber said, we were just laughing about that this morning.

So, any way, I had similar experiences at one time in our campaign. I was reminded of the quote from a Chairman Mao, who said it is always darkest before it is totally black.

But as you say, we're back. I'm happy to be here. I'm grateful you're here. (APPLAUSE). What I would like to do is talk to you about, just as quickly as I can, about several issue that I think are important and I would love to hear from you for your questions or comments or insults.

And I want to again thank you for being here. I'm grateful for the opportunity to be with you. This is the great manifestation of what democracy should be all about.

And obviously, I want to start by at that by talking about the economy. First of all, I want to tell you Michigan's best days are ahead of us. Michigan's best days are ahead of us. It's been tough and it's been hard. (APPLAUSE).

It's been tough. It's been hard. I know how difficult it's been. I don't know how -- I don't know it as well as some of the people here but do I know that you have been through very tough times, but I believe that Michigan can lead this nation in this new green technology economy.

My dear friends, I believe that climate change is real. I'll be glad to argue that with you and discuss it and debate it more. But let me just put it to you this way about climate change, suppose that we are wrong and there's no such thing as climate change. We go ahead and develop these green technologies and, by the way, so much of that talent and expertise resides in this state of Michigan, in our educational institutions and our automotive industry and the innovators.

But let's suppose that I am wrong and all we do is move forward with these green technologies. And by the way, one of them is nuclear power. I believe we have to go back to nuclear power and my friends it is safe. (APPLAUSE).

We have sailed navy ships around the world for 60 years with nuclear power plants on them and we never had an accident. By the way, my friends, in case you missed it, the French -- we always want to imitate the French -- 80 percent of their electricity is generated by nuclear power. By the way, in case you missed it, we now have a pro-American president of France, which shows if you live long enough anything can happen in this world. And he's a great guy and a smart guy. (APPLAUSE).

So we move forward with these green technologies and all we've done is given our young people -- these right here -- a cleaner planet. Suppose we're right and do nothing. Suppose we're right. We do nothing about it. Then what kind of planet are we going to hand these young people?

My friends, I think the answer is pretty obvious. And we can do it right here in Michigan. What is one of the greatest green house gas emitters in all of the world? Obviously, we know it is automobiles. I'm telling you, there's an auto show that's opening in Detroit and you will see the technology there. You will see hybrid cars and there is battery driven cars and you will see that we can develop ethanol-driven automobiles. It can begin here in Michigan and it can begin with green technologies. I want to assure you as president of the United States, I'm going see that no state is left behind. I'm going to see that Michigan reasserts its rightful place in the world. It saved the nation in World War II and it can do it again and I'm committed to it. (APPLAUSE).

Look, I love Arizona. I'm grateful for all of the Michiganders who have come there. Don't feel like you have to be there. (LAUGHTER). But I also want to point out that I don't want you to feel that you have to come there. Just come and vacation. We take all plastic. Speaking of all plastic, Cindy's and my credit card got stolen three years ago and now those that stole it are resided are residing as guests of the state of Arizona. But I was reminded at the time of the story of the guy who had his credit card stolen and decided not to report it because the guy that stole it was spending less money than his wife was. (LAUGHTER).

I'm not saying that had any connection to my family but -- anyway, we can restore this nation's economy but -- this state's economy and I'm committed to you that I will do that, as I said before. So let me just mention to you again that we can address the issue of climate change and Michigan can lead. I want to talk to you about spending if I could. My friends, Republicans lost the 2006 election not because of Iraq, but because we let -- we Republicans, we let spending get out of control. We presided over the greatest increase in the size of government since the great society. (APPLAUSE). We squandered the obligation that people came -- that people gave to us when we came in power in 1984 to change government and government changed us. My friends, it's got to stop. It has to stop.

It makes you laugh and it makes you cry. The Congress decided to spend $3 million a few years ago to study the DNA of bears in Montana. Now, I don't know if that was a criminal issue or a paternity issue, but it should not have been your money, OK?

My beloved Ronald Reagan used to say -- and I have stolen a lot of lines from him. Ronald Reagan used to say Congress spends money like a drunken sailor only he never knew a sailor drunk or sober with the imagination of Congress. You know and that's a cute line and people laugh about it. Well I use it all the time. I'm not making this up when I tell you about six months ago I received be an e-mail from a guy that said as a former drunken sailor I resent being compared to members of Congress. I can't blame him, so...

(APPLAUSE)

MARY SNOW, CNN ANCHOR: You've been listening to Republican presidential hopeful Senator John McCain addressing a crowd in Howell, Michigan. You hear Senator McCain saying he's committed to the state. The state has been so hard hit by tens of thousands of jobs that have been lost in the auto industry. And the economy is the number one issue here as Republicans vie for Tuesday's primary. Senator John McCain and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney locked in a heated race here in Michigan. We're going to be monitoring Senator McCain.

Also in Columbia, South Carolina, we are monitoring Senator Hillary Clinton on the Democratic side. She's holding a town hall meeting there. We're going to be going back to both of these candidates coming up. We're going to take a short break. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JIM ACOSTA, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to Las Vegas, Nevada and welcome back to BALLOT BOWL 08 where you the viewers get to hear the candidates in their own words. I'm Jim Acosta. Coming up we're going to be hearing more from Senator John McCain. He was in Michigan earlier this afternoon. You heard him up in Michigan.

But first, we want to dip into some coverage down in South Carolina. Hillary Clinton who is fighting very hard to win the state of Nevada today is in South Carolina where she is talking to supporters down there. She is in one of those town hall meetings that is a forum that's been working for her over the last several days especially in New Hampshire and she's continued to carry that forward, so let's take a listen to the senator from New York talking to supporters down in South Carolina.

(APPLAUSE)

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Senator Clinton, I can really relate to all of the questions that are coming from this group especially the veterans because I was a social work chief in the V.A. for V.A.s throughout this country over the last 30 years and before that I was in children's work and I'm going back to work on a foster care board in one of our counties and I also am the secretary of the Lexington County Democratic Party.

I'm very proud to support you because you have an understanding of systems, and one of the questions I was going to ask you have already answered. You're going to scratch no child left behind.

(APPLAUSE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know the -- I would like to know how you plan to create a rationale and reasonable plan for quality education because these children are the ones that are going to be our representatives in the future.

H. CLINTON: That's right. Thank you. Thank you for everything you have done and are doing. How many educators do we have here? That's a good, good showing. That's great. Well, the first thing I think you have to do and Secretary Riley and of course when he was Governor Riley understood this is you got to bring the educators in to making the decisions. These can't be top down directives that tell people what they're supposed to do.

So let's just start with sort of three principles here. I believe in accountability. I think that people have to be held accountable. We want to know what our children are learning. We want to know what progress they're making but there are lots of different ways of getting to that accountability. What I do not appreciate about "no child left behind" is it is kind of a one size fits all approach where children are turned into little test takers and teachers into test givers and it seems like that's an end in itself.

You know give the test. Move on. Give the next test. The curriculum gets narrowed. A lot of it gets dropped. You have art, music, physical education being dropped because people say they don't have time in the day because they have to get ready to once again prepare for the test. And at the end of it what do you have? You have a snap shot of a classroom and a school.

I'm interested in individual children. I want to know what will happen to this little boy and this little girl and maybe some are in need of special education and some are in need of accelerated education. Let's move toward a more individualized approach to our children. I think if we could develop the sort of assessments that would measure their growth, educationally so that teachers would have these diagnostic tools and then they could use them to make sure that this particular child was given the resources and support that he or she needs, we would be much further ahead than we are today.

You know "no child left behind" has had -- well has had many but two in particular consequences that I think are regrettable. One is that it judges proficiency in a way that is not really fair. Let's say you have a class of 25 children. Let's say you have five special ed children. Let's say you have five children for whom English is not their first language, then let's say the other 15 range from kids who need extra help, maybe they came from a very abusive or neglectful background to kids who are you know ready to skip a grade and everything in between.

So the tests are given and they're graded on a scale of say one to five. The average in the class is a two. That does not reflect the children who need a lot of help and the children who are ready to move on, but that's the average. The proficiency level as set by the state is a five, so things are not very promising. Teacher works so hard, the teachers' aides, the supplementary services, so by the next time they're tested, the average is a four. Still not a five but it has doubled in terms of the accomplishments that these tests happen to measure. But it is still considered to be failing.

I think it's a remarkable accomplishment to take that whole class to a four but while doing that, you're going to forget the kids who need more stimulation and new challenges and you're going to really miss what is individual needs of the children that are left still on the bottom. So I would like to see us concentrate on growth models, individualized instruction. I would like to see goals that every state and school district had to meet because a lot of states they got embarrassed because they didn't meet the original goals so they just made the test easier.

That's not the direction we're supposed to be heading. We're supposed to be trying to figure out how to make tests that actually tell us something. I think it is also true that the way that the Bush administration administered it...

ACOSTA: And there is the senator from New York, Hillary Clinton, addressing supporters in South Carolina and as you can see in that picture she's got a lot of female faces behind her in that audience. A lot of women for Hillary signs which is a critical vote. That's the swing vote right now it seems in the Democratic race for the nomination.

She lost that vote in Iowa and Barack Obama won. She took that vote in New Hampshire and she won New Hampshire, so she's fighting hard for that vote down in South Carolina and also is fighting hard for that vote here in Nevada. But we want to move up to colder climbs up in Michigan where there is a very hard fought race going on right now for that upcoming contest this Tuesday between John McCain and Mitt Romney.

The Arizona senator is talking to supporters right now. We've heard some of the same one-liners from John McCain that we have been hearing time and again on the campaign trail. He's good at mixing it up with his audiences, also many of them town hall settings. Let's listen to the senator now. MCCAIN: Everything in its rightful place and that happened to me back last August in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, a town hall meeting. A woman stood up and said Senator McCain, will you do me the honor of wearing a bracelet with my son's name on it, Matthew Stanley (ph). Matthew Stanley (ph) was 22 years of age.

He was killed in combat outside of Baghdad just before Christmas last year. I said I would be honored to wear this bracelet with your son's name on it. Then she said Senator McCain, I want you to promise me one thing. Just promise me one thing. And that is that you will do everything in your power to make sure that my son's death was not in vain.

Well, my friends America is divided on this about this war. America is divided. No American is divided in our support of these brave young Americans and I will do everything in my power to make sure that their sacrifice was not only not in vain but we will create a world that's much safer for future generations of Americans in which so many will not have to sacrifice because this generation has done so much of it. Thank you very much for being here and I look forward to answering your questions and I would love to...

ACOSTA: And there you have the senator from Arizona, John McCain, talking to supporters in a town hall setting up in Michigan, Howell, Michigan this afternoon. Upcoming here on BALLOT BOWL 08, after the break you're going to hear from the former Tennessee senator, Fred Thompson, who has been described as laid back but he is on his feet and taking big swipes at Mike Huckabee. You will be hearing from Fred Thompson coming up on BALLOT BOWL right here on CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SNOW: Welcome back to CNN's BALLOT BOWL 08 where a chance where you get to hear directly from the candidates in their own words. At this hour on the Democratic side we're monitoring a town tall in Columbia, South Carolina, where Democratic presidential hopeful Senator Hillary Clinton is speaking right now. Also here in Michigan on the Republican side, Senator John McCain is holding an event in Howell, Michigan. He's taking questions from the audience. Let's go back to Howell, Michigan.

(APPLAUSE)

MCCAIN: We continue to do that as president of the United States of America.

(APPLAUSE)

MCCAIN: Thank you. And then I will move into other parts of this wonderful audience. Yes. Yes ma'am.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Senator McCain, I have all due respect for you and the service that you did for our country.

MCCAIN: I'm afraid of that preface.

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My question is coming from my son who at this time feels hostage in our home and we may want to have (INAUDIBLE) come in on this one and answer this question from this very young man who has literally been terrorized for years in this county. My name is Deborah McCord Scowson (ph). And in 1997 I was put on trial under a false police report taken by Susan (INAUDIBLE). Later on a deal was struck with my former husband and the McCurrys (ph) to sell my home in a divorce agreement. I'm going to tell now what was...

MCCAIN: You're going to have to ask me a question.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I will ask a question.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But my kids have been terrorized and I -- when you spoke about Mr. Romney it might be wise for someone to look into his investments particularly into gas (INAUDIBLE) oil and you will notice that there is a company out of Pontiac by the name of Cairo International (ph) which handled...

MCCAIN: You're going to have to ask me the question, ma'am.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My question is, is when are American citizens going to stop being terrorized. I had confronted Mr. (INAUDIBLE), who was a Russian who...

MCCAIN: Ma'am, you're going to have to -- I apologize. I'll tell you what. I will have a member of my staff meet with you immediately after this town hall meeting. I will try to get all of the facts and I will try to do whatever I can to assist you in this obviously what has been a terribly traumatic experience for you. Yes, ma'am, I will have my staff sit down with you.

(APPLAUSE)

MCCAIN: Yes, ma'am. Yes, ma'am. There is a microphone coming to you. Thank you. Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just want to thank you for your service to our country.

(APPLAUSE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know if they know your background, but I came today because I wanted to see a real hero.

MCCAIN: Thank you.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

MCCAIN: Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I do have a question. MCCAIN: If you're not busy we're going to a couple other events...

(LAUGHTER)

MCCAIN: ... and I'm sure I could recognize you in a crowd, so...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah, I bet you could, yeah.

MCCAIN: Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah. I followed your career. I'm a former vet myself, Vietnam era. I spent my time over there. What do you think of the idea of national service for young people in some capacity? I'm so proud to be a vet and I know you are, too, and that's my question and thank you for taking the time.

MCCAIN: Thank you, sir. You really touch on an important theme of why I want to lead this country. My friends, I believe that the newest generation of Americans are the best we've ever had. When I go over to Iraq and I see these kids and these young men and women in the summertime putting on 40 pounds of body armor and then 40 pounds of equipment and then going out there in 130-degree heat for 8, 10, 12 hours day, it's incredible. It's incredible.

And every place they walked at least in those days was fraught with danger. I believe American young people, young and old, all Americans want to serve this country. And I think after 9/11 probably what we should have done was not asked you to take a trip or go shopping. But to ask you to serve this country. And there's many, many ways to do that. And I want to serve...

(APPLAUSE)

MCCAIN: I want to convince -- I want to convince young Americans there's nothing nobler than serving a cause greater than your self- interest. I want there to be volunteer organizations. I want them to join the military, the Peace Corps, AmeriCorps. There's an organization my friends called ONE, which has been inspired by Bonno (ph) and they now have got two million young Americans who have volunteered.

They want to go to Africa and help with malaria and HIV AIDS. I mean this is the kind of organization that has literally sprung up out of nowhere. I'm going give them a chance to serve. I'm going give them an opportunity and I'm going to encourage them to do so. And obviously we want people to serve in the military. But there are so many ways of serving and I believe Americans are not only prepared to do that but eager to serve a cause greater than their self-interest and that's what I want to do for America.

(APPLAUSE)

SNOW: Republican presidential hopeful Senator John McCain taking questions at an event in Howell, Michigan. Also in Columbia, South Carolina, on the Democratic side, Senator Hillary Clinton also taking questions. BALLOT BOWL, a chance for you to hear the candidates unscripted continues right after this short break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, I'm Fredricka Whitfield in Atlanta. We want to take you straight to Jacksonville, North Carolina where Onslow County Sheriff Ed Brown there is about to take some questions and also make a statement in the investigation of the murder of Marine Maria Lauterbach.

SHERIFF ED BROWN, ONSLOW COUNTY, NORTH CAROLINA: If everyone is ready, we have got the release. The release tells you that there's been a spotting of the suspect in Shreveport, Louisiana. We have agents on the ground there. At this time they are -- we have got several witnesses that have been interviewed to validate that sighting. We have not got any confirmation back yet but we have got people that say they have three or four people say they saw him and that's the basis of what you got.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Any truth to the rumor that he was seen on a Greyhound bus, getting off a Greyhound bus in Shreveport?

BROWN: He was seen at the bus station either on the bus or getting off the bus.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: By members of the public, right?

BROWN: By -- yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not authorities?

BROWN: By -- no -- any authority that sees him he won't be going any farther.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE)

BROWN: Well where the bus was going, that route -- the bus he was on was going to Texas. But you know...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He got off, right?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE)

BROWN: Ma'am?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was getting on or off the bus?

BROWN: He was at the bus station. He was on a bus at the bus station and that bus itself was going to Texas. However, that don't mean he has to be tied to it going in the same direction.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So she was heading -- she had bought a bus ticket to El Paso, Texas. Any idea where he was going (INAUDIBLE)?

BROWN: I have no idea where he's going. When I say that, unless you know where somebody is at you can't say where they're going. And that is the long and short of it. I know where he was at or has been spotted. Let me put it that way. Been spotted and that confirmation is trying to be settled. Right now he's not in custody and therefore we don't know where he's at. We just know that there had been a report that he has been spotted.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was he spotted by (INAUDIBLE)?

BROWN: Passengers and -- passengers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Passengers. Do they say how they -- was he recognized from television or do they have a photo with them or was the photo (INAUDIBLE) the buses?

BROWN: Like I've just expressed to you, we're trying to confirm all of the details of that spotting. We don't have that in hand, so I can't give you all of the details, and I don't like to say things I can't read to you and before I can come and give you this (INAUDIBLE) writing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm sorry. I'm just confused about what you said so far. Was he getting on the bus or off the bus?

BROWN: He was at the bus station.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: At the bus station...

BROWN: Bus station.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You don't know if he was getting on or off?

BROWN: I do not know. He was at the bus station.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK...

WHITFIELD: All right. You are listening to Onslow County Sheriff Ed Brown there out of Jacksonville, North Carolina give the latest details of the case of the murder of a Marine there in North Carolina. Officials understand that some eyewitnesses were able to place the primary suspect, 21-year-old Corporal Cesar Armando Laurean (ph) in Shreveport, Louisiana, at a bus station, a Greyhound bus station.

Apparently he was on a bus but it is unclear whether he was getting on or getting off the bus, but the bus that he was seen on was headed toward Texas, but as you heard the sheriff there it is unclear exactly the destination of this prime suspect in the murder of 20- year-old Maria Lauterbach. Yesterday you saw the gruesome details of charred remains being removed from the backyard of this primary suspect.

Remains that are believed to be that of Lauterbach who has been reported missing since mid December. This is the latest in the investigation currently ongoing. A nationwide manhunt still underway for Corporal Cesar Armando Laurean (ph). I want to show you that photograph one more time so that if you happen to see anyone that matches this description in your jurisdiction you are asked to call local authorities. I'm Fredricka Whitfield in Atlanta. We're going to continue to update you on that case and much more news straight ahead here on CNN. In the meantime, let's go back to the BALLOT BOWL with Jim Acosta and Mary Snow.

SNOW: Thanks, Fredricka. Coming up in the 4:00 hour we're going to be talking with Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney. He is here. We have lots more ahead and, Jim, you're going to be out in Las Vegas.

ACOSTA: That's right, Mary. And you are looking live at the church where Barack Obama will be addressing supporters very shortly this afternoon. Stay with us. We'll be back in one hour on BALLOT BOWL.

Coming up next on CNN, "YOUR MONEY." See you soon.

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