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BALLOT BOWL 2008

More Campaign Happenings

Aired March 29, 2008 - 14:00   ET

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


JIM ACOSTA, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to another round of BALLOT BOWL '08, I'm Jim Acosta in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. There is a big contest coming up on this state on April 22nd and this is a chance over these next several hours to hear the candidates in their own words live and unfiltered.
My colleague Mary Snow is joining me over the course of this program from Johnstown, Pennsylvania. We'll get to Mary in just a moment, hang in there, Mary.

First, let's go over our game plan for BALLOT BOWL. Hillary Clinton is not in Pennsylvania today. She is actually in Indiana in the town of New Albany, Indiana, where she is holding a roundtable discussion with voters there. New Albany, Indiana we should note is across the river from Louisville, which is also holding a contest coming up. The state of Kentucky that is, coming up in May.

So Hillary Clinton trying to talk to voters in two different states at the same time. Meanwhile, her daughter Chelsea Clinton is in Durham, North Carolina, talking to voters there. Another big important contest. That in North Carolina coming up also next month. So team Clinton looking ahead past Pennsylvania to those contests in May.

And without further adieu, I'll send it back to my colleague Mary Snow who is standing by she is covering the Barack Obama campaign. She is in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. And, Mary, I understand there is a bus involved over the course of the next several days with Barack Obama. Is that right?

MARY SNOW, CNN ANCHOR: Yeah, that's right Jim. Senator Barack Obama has started a bus tour yesterday. This is a chance for him to criss-cross the state and really introduce himself to voters. We're about 80 miles outside of Pittsburgh. He's here at a town hall meeting taking questions. We'll go to Senator Barack Obama. Let's hear him live. He was just asked about what he would do to bring jobs back into the United States.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, see, there are all kinds of opportunities for us around energy, efficiency that are not being tapped right now. And what I've said is we're going to invest $150 billion over 10 years into solar, wind, biodiesel, energy efficiency. Making cars more efficient. All those things can create jobs.

So here's my point. If I am helping local school districts educate kids, then I'm helping college students get the skills they need. And, by the way, it's not just college students. I want to make these education credits available when you are 35 and you decide you want to go back to school. Because not everybody is going to take a traditional path of four-year colleges. You know, you might go to community college for two years and then upgrade your skills five years later. So we have our workforce trained. We invest in infrastructure, and we're investing in cutting edge new technologies.

In energy, for example. We change our tax books so we're providing incentives to big and small businesses that are investing here in the United States and purchasing plants and equipment. And we get our trade laws stronger. If we do those things, then we should be able to create good jobs here. They may not be all the same jobs that left. They may be different jobs.

But that's ok as long as they are well-paying jobs that provide good benefits. You know, there's nothing wrong with that. All right, gentlemen, this guy right here with the glasses on the top of his head. Why don't you wait for the mike so everybody can hear you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am a navy veteran. Sorry, I'm kind of nervous. Navy veteran and --

OBAMA: Appreciate your service.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, full-time student at IEP and I'm studying political science there. And one of the first words that I learned in that department was the word (INAUDIBLE). And there's a possibility here that if your opponent is elected and wins the primary that we could have 28 years of two families in the White House. I was just concerned of what your campaign might say to that because it scares me.

OBAMA: Well, look, I mean -- you know, Senator Clinton has said, and I agree with her. She should be judged on her own merits. I mean, if she is going to be the best president, and does the best job, then -- or if you think that, then you should vote for her. You shouldn't hold it against her that -- that, you know, her name is Clinton.

Now the flip side of it is that, you know, I think every candidate then has to take responsibility for your track record. So one of the things I have been concerned about with Senator Clinton is she likes to take credit for all the things that happened under the Clinton White House that were good, but doesn't take credit for the things that were bad. So on NAFTA, for example -- I don't think it's -- I think it's undeniable that the Clintons pushed NAFTA.

And then during our debate, she was saying, I wasn't in favor of NAFTA. And then afterwards, we found out there were a bunch of meetings that she had where she was going in and lobbying on behalf of NAFTA, even when she was first lady. So that's my only concern is that, you know, that if you want to take credit for some of those accomplishments, and there were some real accomplishments.

I mean, the Clinton administration did some good things. But then you've got to take responsibility for the fact that some things did not go so well. I do believe, though, that part of the reason we've done well in this campaign is that we've said the politics that happened in the '90s, the arguing all the time, the real nasty sort of anything goes, whatever it takes kind of politics, that that's not getting stuff done. And I think the American people, they don't care about people arguing back and forth on cable TV. They want to figure out how are you going to get gas prices down and how are you going to get folks health insurance.

And that -- so I think part of the reason we're doing well is because we're trying to show that you don't have to always engage in that kind of politics. You can still do well. And you don't have to take PAC money, you don't have to take special interest money. Sometimes the democrats had fallen into the habit of raising money from the same folks the republicans were raising it from. And then it becomes hard to really be clear about supporting working men and women in some of these debates. Because you don't know who is financing your campaigns or your committees. And that's something that I think we've got to change. All right. Young lady's turn. Back there --

ACOSTA: So there is Barack Obama calling for a new kind of politics in America. Talking to voters in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. We're going to keep an eye on the Obama event. We're also keeping an eye on Hillary Clinton campaigning in Indiana. But we want to quickly turn to John Edwards. No, this is not a flashback to when he was in the race. He is speaking to young democrats in Durham, North Carolina, and we're not expecting him to make any news down there, but just in case, we definitely want to take a listen to what the former senator has to say as he is still a very influential figure in this race for the White House. Let's go to John Edwards talking to young democrats in Durham, North Carolina.

JOHN EDWARDS, (D) FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The atrocities that are going on in Uganda would absolutely break your heart. These are just examples of places where America can make such an enormous difference. Half the planet lives on $2 or less a day. 3 billion people live on $2 or less a day. And the United States of America is not leading the way we should be leading. These are all enormous moral issues facing America, facing the world. And the world needs us. Needs us to lead.

And by bringing this war to an end, by focusing on the big issues that face the world, we can once again live in a world where the rest of the world says America -- America, that's who we want to be like. And it's not just what we do in other places. It's also what we do here within our own borders. We live in a nation where 47 million of our own people wake up every single day knowing that if their child is sick, they are going to have to go to the emergency room and beg for health care in the richest nation on the planet? We're better than that. We're so much better than that.

And we -- we -- (applause) we, our party, our democratic president, has got to lead the way to real universal health care for every man, woman and child in this country. There should be no more debate about this. America knows that we need universal health care. Both for the cost of health care, for the millions of people who have health care coverage, and to make sure that every single man, woman and child has health care. Somebody who is against universal health care, I want them to explain to you and explain to me what man, what child, what family in America is not worthy of health care.

In addition to needing to deal with the issue of health care, we have watched the extraordinary leadership of my friend and your friend Al Gore on this huge moral issue of climate change. America cannot stand quietly by. We are the worst polluter on the planet. We are an example for bad, not an example for good. We use 22 million barrels of oil a day. You know, it is time for America to lead. And to lead in a positive way.

And Al has laid out many great ideas for how we can lead. The presidential candidates, both Senator Obama, Senator Clinton, I myself, when I was running, we pushed this issue and pushed it hard. But it's an issue on which we have a responsibility. America has a responsibility to future generations. And that responsibility is to get off our addiction to oil, to make a commitment that America is going to reduce our greenhouse gases that we're going to have a dramatic reduction by the year 2020 and a more dramatic reduction by the year 2050.

America has got to lead. We can't stand quietly by and watch other countries try to show leadership. Without us leading on this issue, nothing will happen. Nothing will happen. We have a responsibility. America has a responsibility. And with a democratic president, we will lead and we will lead in a serious way. We live in a country where 37 million people --

ACOSTA: So there is John Edwards talking to young democrats in Durham, North Carolina. Just before we dipped into that coverage, we want to mention that John Edwards did talk about his wife, Elizabeth Edwards. He told the crowd there that she is doing fine. She is feeling well and is actually delivering a speech of her own today. John Edwards also talked about a need for unity in the democratic party and expressing some discomfort with what is happening right now between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. So we'll keep an eye on John Edwards. We're also going to check in on Hillary Clinton coming up after the break. Stick with us, this is BALLOT BOWL on CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ACOSTA: Welcome back to BALLOT BOWL 08. I'm Jim Acosta in Philadelphia. And we want to call your attention, we're covering three different live events right now. Barack Obama is talking to voters in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. John Edwards, this is no flashback. We should perhaps put on the screen, he is not a candidate in this race, he is still a former candidate. John Edwards talking to young democrats in North Carolina. Want to keep tabs on him because he's a very influential figure in this democratic contest. But now we want to go to Hillary Clinton. She is talking to voters at a roundtable discussion in New Albany, Indiana. That's critical because Hillary Clinton is obviously looking past Pennsylvania, despite all of those calls coming from Pat Leahy and Chris Dodd that she should perhaps back out of this race. She is obviously looking past Pennsylvania to not only Indiana but Kentucky which is just across the river from where she is right now. Let's go to Hillary Clinton in New Albany, Indiana.

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: -- or looking to see how we'd expand hybrid electric or hydrogen. A lot of other possibilities that are out there that the government has to be a partner with. And the way I'd fund that is to take the tax subsidies away from the oil companies. They've been given billions of dollars in your tax money. And, you know, they don't need your money. Exxon Mobil, just to name one company, made $40 billion in profit last year.

And yet in 2005, Dick Cheney gave them even more tax breaks in an energy bill he wrote. I voted against that because I thought it was a huge giveaway to big oil and I'm sick of that happening. And the other piece of what Jeff said is, I think the oil company should be told they can be contributing and investing in their own research to try to become more efficient. They could even, you know, upgrade their refineries and clean up their emissions.

But if they won't do that, then we are going to impose a windfall profits tax because at some point, America has to get on the American team again. We all have to be part of the same team as we go into the future to solve these problems. So I really appreciate it.

Final thing I'd say about Jeff and the Ford plant, I'm not sure people around the country understand as well as Hoosiers do that we've got to maintain our auto manufacturing sector. One out of every eight jobs in America is linked to autos. And our auto companies and our auto workers need help from the rest of us to be able to make the transition to have products that are going to be not only sold here in the United States but exported broadly around the world. And I think we should do that.

I mean we've been subsidizing big oil. Why don't we do something on behalf of manufacturing. We've got to help manufacturing get the costs of health care down. Deal with some of their other long-term costs, but I think it's an important investment to make and I'm going to do everything I can to make it better. And I think I can. Mary Ann Ernstes. Mary Ann is in real estate. So she has seen the housing and subprime mortgage market firsthand. And --

ACOSTA: So there is Hillary Clinton talking to voters in New Albany, Indiana. She has a tough road ahead for her. A lot of people are saying that mathematically issue it's very difficult for her to win this nomination. But she is vowing to stay in and fight. So we'll keep tabs on her. Also coming up after the break here on BALLOT BOWL on CNN, we'll go back to that Barack Obama event in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. So stick with us, this is BALLOT BOWL on CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SNOW: Welcome back to CNN's edition of BALLOT BOWL. This is a chance for you to hear directly from the candidates. I'm Mary Snow in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, where Senator Barack Obama is holding a town hall meeting right now, taking questions from the audience. Let's go to straight to Senator Barack Obama. He just was asked a question about how his administration, if he's elected, would deal with the issue of HIV and AIDS and also sexually transmitted diseases with young girls. Here's Senator Barack Obama.

OBAMA: -- or we give them really expensive surgery and we don't spend money on the front end keeping people healthy in the first place. So when it comes specifically to HIV/AIDS, the most important prevention is education, which should include -- which should include abstinence education and teaching the children -- teaching children, you know, that sex is not something casual. But it should also include -- it should also include other, you know, information about contraception because, look, I've got two daughters, 9 years old and 6 years old. I am going to teach them first of all about values and morals.

But if they make a mistake, I don't want them punished with a baby. I don't want them punished with an STD at the age of 16. You know, so it doesn't make sense to not give them information. You still want to teach them the morals and the values to make good decisions. That will be important, number one. Then we're still going to have to provide better treatment for those who do have -- who do contract HIV/AIDS because it's no longer a death sentence, if, in fact, you get the proper cocktails. It's expensive. That's why we want to prevent as much as possible.

But we should also provide better treatment. And we should focus on those sectors where it's prevalent and we've got to get over the stigma because understand that the fastest growth in HIV/AIDS is in heterosexuals, not gays. And so we've got to get out of that stigma that we still have around it. It's connected also to drug use. So one of the things we have to do is to start thinking about better substance abuse treatment programs around drugs and not just treat it as a criminal justice issue. Treat it as a public health issue as well.

So -- but this all is connected to the idea of prevention and so my health care plan says, you know what? I don't want kids in the emergency room for treatable illnesses like asthma. I want them to get a primary care doctor and have regular check-ups and, you know, if we decreased obesity rates back to the rates that existed back in 1980, we would save the Medicare system a trillion dollars. One trillion dollars because that's what's accounting for huge spikes in heart disease and diabetes and all kinds of preventable illnesses.

So we've got to put emphasis on that. Let me say one last thing, though. I'm going to use the presidential bully pulpit to start talking about people taking responsibility. We were talking about education earlier. It doesn't matter how good the job the schools are doing. If parents, you don't turn off your TV sets and put away your video games and make your kids do your homework and meet with the teachers it won't make any difference. And the same is true on health care. I mean, some of us just have bad luck. And -- or genetically are predisposed to certain diseases.

But, you know, if we're not all making some effort to get exercise and, you know, eat properly and not smoke and, you know, and I have had my own little battles. I used to sneak a few cigarettes once in a while. My wife cut me off at the path. She announced on "60 Minutes," she said, yeah, he used to smoke once in a while. And he promised me. So if you catch him, anybody out there. But that was good. I think we all have to take some responsibility for these issues as well. That's going to be important. All right. I've got time for one more question.

SNOW: Ok, that is Senator Barack Obama fielding questions here in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. This is part of a road to change bus tour that Senator Obama started yesterday in Pittsburgh. He's making his way across the state. We also expect to hear from him later today when he answers questions from the press. So we'll keep monitoring this. We have a lot of other events that we are going to be going to live. Senator Hillary Clinton is campaigning in Indiana. That of course is a state having a contest after Pennsylvania. And Chelsea Clinton is in Durham, North Carolina, at the young democrat's convention there. So we have a lot more ahead. Stay with us. We're taking a quick break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ACOSTA: Welcome back to BALLOT BOWL 08. I'm Jim Acosta in Philadelphia. We've got a busy afternoon here on the bowl. We're following three events all at the same time. Yes, we can follow all three at the same time. And those events include Barack Obama talking to voters in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. Hillary Clinton also with voters in New Albany, Indiana, and John Edwards, not necessarily a candidate. He's an ex-candidate at this point. He just wrapped up his speech before the young democrats in Durham, North Carolina. Chelsea Clinton, the former first lady's daughter is due to speak to that same audience in just a few moments. And so we'll be taking a look at that. But in the meantime, let's go back to Hillary Clinton who is talking about what we refer to here at CNN as issue number one, the economy, with voters there in Indiana.

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: -- Cincinnati and elsewhere. People were given inflated appraisals. And then the mortgage and the interest rate was key to the inflated appraisal. I'll never forget. I was with Governor Strickland and we were listening to some people talk and the home that this family had bought, their first home because you know, people get excited about buying their first home. The appraisal was like $83,000. And the house had a true appraisal value of about $22,000. That's an egregious example, but there were so many. So you had inflated, I think fraudulent appraisals and lots of collusion between the brokers and the appraisers. You had a lot of people who were not told, and it was especially sad for first time homeowners that they had to pay taxes and insurance and it wasn't included in the mortgage payment. Most of us who have bought homes, after a while you know that or you have somebody sitting across the table who tells you, ok, here's your payment. But then don't forget you have to do your taxes and your insurance. Then you have this really unfortunate technique called prepayment penalties. First time I heard about this I was in Orlando, Florida. And Orlando, Florida, you know, Disney World and everything. Lots of people coming. A very fast growing place. And a lot of first generation Americans. And a family bought a home and they were told by all their relatives that you want to pay it off as soon as possible. That's the way my father raised me. Try to pay things off. So they started putting a little extra money in their payment. And they come to find out that buried in all of the fine print was what was called a prepayment penalty. So that if you paid more, it would trigger a higher interest rate. So here they were trying to do the right thing and their interest rate went up four or five points. Do you hear about those, too?

And we -- so this is the kind of stuff that's going on. So when people say, well, all these homeowners, they got in on their own volition. Well, yes, nobody held a gun to their head when they signed but think of everything they were told that was not true or that they were misled about or that was omitted from the information they had. That's why I think we have to address this. Otherwise, we're going to find, you know, that it's affecting a lot of other people. Because if you are in a neighborhood where a home gets foreclosed on and you have a vacant house down the block, that lowers your property values. That's a harder sale for you isn't it. Did you want to say something about the prepayment penalties or some of these other techniques that you've seen?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The prepayment penalty has not been real prevalent here until now. And we're seeing a lot of people that are wanting to sell. I have one couple that I was working with, and went to price their house to try to put it on the market only to call and find out that we couldn't sell it because there is no way that it would appraise for what we would need to sell it for to cover the prepayment penalty and the other expenses that they would need to cover in order to get out from under it. I have another couple that I'm working with that he's 70-some years old and he's had to take a job at Wal-Mart in the paint department because they had saved and they finally were ready to sell their house and felt like they were ready to move down to a patio home and they had an illness that came into their family and the insurance just destroyed the fact that now they've had to go into foreclosure and are having to move into something they can rent. We just hear horror stories day after day of people that have thought that this was, you know, the perfect thing to do and the American dream is not the American dream to all these people anymore. And it's very hard for us to try to explain to them that our hands are tied. We can only do so much as realtors to try to help them out.

CLINTON: I'm glad you are there trying to help them out. I bet you'd be a great advocate, Beverly. I can tell. I think it's also important that we recognize that a lot of the people who are in these problems they face were like this couple who Beverly was just describing. An illness comes. It's also increasingly common for people to refinance their homes to send their kids to college. And lots of times they got into refinancing that causes all of these difficulties for them. So the price of everything is going up. But wages are not going up. Incomes are not going up. You know, you've seen the contrast between what we saw in the '90s where the typical family saw their income increase $7,000 compared to under President Bush it's fallen $1,000. So when you look at that contrast, you see we've got to start creating jobs with rising incomes and better benefits. And I don't think we're going to see that happen unless we have a real change in attitude in Washington. And I personally believe that we were on the right track in the '90s. I think that we saw a lot of good prosperity coming across the board to people and now that's not happening anymore. We need to get back to shared prosperity, where everybody benefits.

ACOSTA: So there's Hillary Clinton talking about the mortgage meltdown in this country and in particular with voters there in Indiana. We thought we should give you a heads-up about something that's happening tonight on CNN. You want to tune in for this. At 8:00 eastern, right here on CNN, the "CNN SIU, the special investigations unit and "Fortune" magazine have teamed up to present this special "Busted" a special on the mortgage meltdown in America. That is coming up tonight at 8:00 eastern right here on CNN.

Stick with us. Coming up after the break here on BALLOT BOWL on CNN, more from Barack Obama in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. Hillary Clinton in Indiana and much more. So stick with us, this is BALLOT BOWL on CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MARY SNOW: Welcome back to CNN'S BALLOT BOWL. I'm Mary Snow in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, where Senator Barack Obama has just finished up a town hall meeting. Joining us now is Senator Bob Casey who made a surprise endorsement of Senator Obama yesterday. Senator Casey, you made the decision a couple of days ago you said and your daughters played a part in this, right?

SEN. BOB CASEY, (D) PENNSYLVANIA: Well they did, they are big fans. They saw -- two of them saw them at the 2004 convention and the others have followed him. Reading his book and really being big fans. And I think that's the kind of inspiration he's provided to young people and to much older folks. I'm going on 48 almost and I have been inspired by him, like so many have. And we're going to need not just the democratic victory in November to bring about change. We're going to need someone who can inspire the country and bring the country together for the rest of -- for the rest of this century coming up because, unless we have the ability to bring people together and to solve problems, we're never going to be able to overcome the obstacles we have on health care, on creating the jobs of the future and a stronger and better foreign policy. So we've got challenges, and I think he can bring the country together.

SNOW: What was the defining moment for you when you said, you know what? I am going to step out and endorse him?

CASEY: It's when I became a decided voter. Because I had said for a long time that I was going to be neutral. And I was undecided. But I think once you are a decided voter and you're an elected official, I think it's important to make your views known. We're hopeful that we can improve the numbers here in Pennsylvania but on go on to be nominated. He's a great leader.

SNOW: You have an uphill battle. Senator Obama even said today he's the underdog. Who do you need to reach here? How will you come ahead?

CASEY: He is the underdog but this city of Johnstown and this region and really the state respects and understands that underdogs can sometimes win. And underdogs are people that have to fight and a lot of people in this economy have to fight just to make end's meet. He's that kind of fighter for the country and I think he'll not only bring people together but inspire them to solve some of the problems we have, whether it's health care, energy or ending the war and so many other challenges we have.

SNOW: I wanted to ask you, there's a very passionate, as Senator Obama called her, heated question from a woman at the end who opposes abortion and asked him about his support of a woman's right to choose. You are also someone who opposes abortion. Do you think he's going to face a lot of resistance from voters like that woman we heard from?

CASEY: I do think it's certainly going to be an issue like so many important issues have been in this campaign. But you heard from his answer that even though he might disagree with people in this room, in fact, he disagrees with my position, but I think he's going to try to bring people together to reduce the number of abortions by achieving some measure of common ground. And that's one of the examples that I spoke of earlier where he can bring people together and be very honest about disagreements but try to reach common ground. I think he can do that. One thing I think the country can do is give a lot more support to pregnant women. I think he's going to be doing that.

SNOW: Final question, there is so much bitter fighting between the campaigns. We heard from Senator Leahy saying that Senator Clinton should withdraw. Is that something that you also believe should happen?

CASEY: I don't think that I should be giving advice to presidential candidates about what they should do. I do believe that we've got a primary on April 22nd in Pennsylvania. I'm going to focus on that. I know Senator Obama is. We're going to bring our case to the people of Pennsylvania and see what happens. But that's up to candidates to make those decisions.

SNOW: Senator Bob Casey, thank you so much for joining us today.

CASEY: Thank you, Mary.

SNOW: Jim, this is just part of an overall tour that Senator Barack Obama is making across Pennsylvania. He's going to be winding up in Philadelphia as he really tries to close that gap as we were talking about. The polls really show this state. He is behind Senator Clinton. And he has an uphill battle as he goes forward. Jim?

ACOSTA: Mary, a very important endorsement from Senator Bob Casey. And that name, the Casey name is so big in this state. His father was the governor of this state and a very popular one at that. You can hear from listening into Bob Casey during your interview that he talked about the pro-life issue. And Bob Casey being a democrat talking about pro-life issues. That's not something you hear very much. So it will be interesting to see how Bob Casey's endorsement helps Barack Obama with Catholics, blue collar voters, with this primary coming up. Mary, we'll talk to you soon. Thanks very much. In the meantime, we want to go back to Indiana and listen in to Hillary Clinton who is talking to voters there. You know, some of Barack Obama's supporters yesterday urged Senator Clinton to drop out of this race. But she is sticking in there. She is staying in the fight. And she's proving it by looking ahead to contests such as Indiana. Let's go back to Hillary Clinton talking to voters there in New Albany, Indiana.

CLINTON: -- they worked on her for 15 days in intensive care and then she died. I think it's morally wrong number one that people are without any insurance who are working people. They get up every day. They work. And I think it is economically nonsensical because we spent hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to save that baby and save that mother and because she didn't have insurance, she couldn't get examined and we might have been able to do both. So, you see, the insurance costs too much and people pay too much and get too little. And so we're going to rein in the insurance companies because insurance companies are free to do something that most of us can't do and wouldn't do. You know, under our constitution, you can't discriminate on the basis of race or gender or ethnic origin or religion and that's the way it's supposed to be. But if you are an insurance company, you can discriminate against sick people. And you can charge them more than you would charge a healthy person. And it is unfortunate that we're facing a deterioration in our entire health care system because we don't stand up to the insurance companies. So I am going to stand up to them, and we're going to rein them in and they're going to have to be providing more services.

So very practically if we do what I'm suggesting, this young lady and her husband will be able to buy into this new system and the costs will be less and the benefits will be greater and it will be more affordable and the insurance companies will not be able to discriminate and we will have best practices standards. By that, I mean for a condition like her son who needs two therapies a week, there should be payment for 104 therapies. And so they are going to have to go by what we know works, not what they determine because I am tired of insurance companies making life and death and health decisions that doctors and nurses should be making. And, yes --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) had quite a bit of community development block grant money that helped me and also helped me to refinish my house. Now that I am a very proud elected official here in New Albany, Indiana and I have noticed that year after year that money keeps getting cut. And a city like New Albany, where we really need that money, we're hurting. If you drive around New Albany, you see our historic homes that are just falling into disrepair. And we don't have the money to rehab them any longer because that grant money has been cut. Do you have a plan to help increase that grant money?

CLINTON: This is a great question. And I can tell you are an elected official because you can see it from both sides. The community development block grant is one of the best tools that's ever been given to small towns and cities across America because it was discretionary money that communities could decide what was the best purpose to put it to. It was a returning of federal dollars that come from communities like this back to be used by communities like New Albany. And the Bush administration has been trying to eliminate it, cutting it every single year. I will reinstate it because I have seen the positive results. It has made such a difference in so many communities because, you know, in one community, it's saving historic homes. In another community, it's trying to, you know, fix up a Brownfield or a superfund site and another community it might be trying to enhance fire protection. I mean, communities get to do what they believe is right for their community. And I think we should get back to doing that. And I'm a big believer in the community development block grant program. Yes.

ACOSTA: So there is Hillary Clinton reaching out for the Hoosier vote there in New Albany, Indiana. We'll go back to Hillary Clinton as we can later on, on BALLOT BOWL.

Coming up after the break here on BALLOT BOWL on CNN, we hope to also check in with her daughter Chelsea Clinton who is talking to young democrats down in Durham, North Carolina. And we also will be taking a look at the John McCain campaign and see what's new with the republican contender. That and other stories coming up after the break. This is BALLOT BOWL on CNN.

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FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello I'm Fredricka Whitfield at the CNN Center in Atlanta. More BALLOT BOWL after a look at the day's news headlines. We start with some pretty dramatic video out of Miami. This right here. A masked man robbing a Walgreen's, then forcing the store manager out at gunpoint as you see right there as the hostage. But the manager, you'll see coming up, struggles as he was pushed into the car and was actually able to break free and then eventually run to safety. The suspect was struck by police gunfire as he got away. Police did eventually chase him down and took him into custody.

In Iraq, coalition troops are being drawn deeper into the battle for the oil city of Basra. The British military says the U.S. dropped two bombs on a suspected Shiite militia stronghold. There are reports of civilian casualties. Meanwhile, British troops engaged in a firefight with militants in the area. UK says both coalition attacks were in response to requests by Iraqi forces for air support.

The future of Zimbabwe's long-time President Robert Mugabe is on the line. Voters hoping for an end to an economic meltdown voted today for new leaders. The government has promised the poll will be free and fair with the main opposition party claims there were many irregularities in today's voting. Government critics predicted earlier that the election would be rigged. Mugabe has been in power since Zimbabwe's independence 28 years ago.

Commercial airliners could end up with their own anti-missile defense systems. Northrop Grumman has completed testing of the new technology and showed it off this week at the Baltimore Washington International Airport. Kathleen Cairns of CNN affiliate WBFF has the story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) KATHLEEN CAIRNS, WBFF (voice-over): At BWI Airport, national media meets at cargo building G to see a 500-pound device hanging on the belly of a FedEx plane. It's designed to protect planes from missiles. Northrop Grumman's guardian system, shown in this simulation, has 360-degree protection. When a missile is fired, the system automatically detects it and tracks it. Then sends out its own eye-safe laser beam into the missile which jams the attacker's system and diverts the missile away from the aircraft.

DAVID DENTON, PROJECT DIRECTOR: It flies out through space, it doesn't hit the aircraft. And yes, it will fall to the ground. Most of the missiles will have a self-destruct mechanism so they'll blow up away from the aircraft and pieces will fall to the ground.

CAIRNS: Although there's never been a shoulder-launched heat seeking missile used against a commercial airline here in the United States, it's still a concern. The problem is these types of devices are small and can be easily concealed. And U.S. military officials say that 27 terrorist organizations have access to these types of launchers. The device only uses 1800 watts of power, the same as a hairdryer. But critics say the $1 million cost per system is too much.

DENTON: What is the cost if the commercial aviation space is not safe?

CAIRNS: Homeland Security is looking into the system's potential, although it's not clear if the federal government or commercial airlines would foot the bill. Some suggest it could be rolled into mandated airport surcharges or the price of a passenger's ticket.

JACK PLEDGER, DIRECTOR, NORTHROP GRUMMAN: Those things are already in there. What this would do would add a dollar to a ticket if they had to do that.

CAIRNS: The other potential problem? The defense system can be activated by other environmental factors like a large oil well fire or the reflection from a tall office building with reflective glass. Still, its producers say the only harm done is the flash of an infrared light beam. A similar system is already used on military aircraft in war zones. Kathleen Cairns, Fox 45.

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WHITFIELD: And those are the headlines. We'll get back to BALLOT BOWL right after this.

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