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Search Teams in California Found the Plane Wreckage Possibly Belonging to Steve Fossett; The House Will Begin Pouring over the New Bailout Bill Passed by the Senate; Sarah Palin's Debate History

Aired October 2, 2008 - 08:00   ET


JOHN ROBERTS, CNN HOST: Later on this hour, we're going to be speaking with Senator John McCain. By the way, we're going to ask him about the bailout plan and what he's looking forward at tonight's vice presidential debate. Senator McCain joins us live at 8:35 a.m. Eastern.

KIRAN CHETRY, CNN HOST: It is 8:00 right here on the East Coast. And our top stories now, search teams in California have found plane wreckage possibly belonging to millionaire-adventurer Steve Fossett. Yesterday, hikers in the area found a large amount of cash and ID cards with Fossett's name. Fossett disappeared over a year ago after what he said would be a pleasure flight over the Sierra, Nevada mountain range in a single-engine plane. He had no parachute.

Yet another delay at the World Trade Center site. In a report out today, the port authorities said that a new transit hub will not be finished now until 2014. That's three years late and a half billion dollars over budget. Back in June, New York Governor David Patterson ordered a reevaluation of several related projects. Turns out they were all over budget and behind schedule.

Two to five years until Iran would be able to produce a nuclear weapon. That's according to David Kay who led the United States weapons hunting team in Iraq. Kay says he thinks Iran is about 80 percent of the way there, but that the last 20 percent of development is the most difficult.

This morning, the House will begin pouring over the new bailout bill passed by the Senate. Republican opposition in the House is weakening, thanks to newly added tax cuts. A vote in the House is expected tomorrow.

And we're counting down to one of the most eagerly anticipated vice presidential debates in recent times. Senator Joe Biden versus Governor Sarah Palin. Ahead of tonight's big showdown, both candidates sat down with CBS's Katie Couric. First, Senator Biden on past Supreme Court rulings.


KATIE COURIC, ANCHOR, "CBS EVENING NEWS": Are there Supreme Court decisions you disagree with? SEN. JOE BIDEN (D), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know, I'm the guy that wrote the Violence Against Women Act. And I said that every woman in America, if they are beaten and abused by a man should be able to take that person to court, meaning you should be able to go to federal court and sue in federal court the man who abused you if you can prove that abuse.

But they said, no, that a woman, there is no federal jurisdiction. And I held -- they acknowledged I held about 1,000 hours of hearings proving that, that there's an effect in interstate commerce. Women who are abused and beaten are women who are not able to be in the workforce and the Supreme Court said, well, there is an impact on commerce, but this is federalizing a private crime and we're not going to allow it. I think the Supreme Court is wrong about that decision.


CHETRY: And Governor Palin was asked the same question after explaining why she disagreed with Roe versus Wade.


COURIC: What other Supreme Court decisions do you disagree with?

GOV. SARAH PALIN (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, let's see, there's, of course, in the great history of America, there have been rulings that there's never going to be absolute consensus by every American and there are those issues, again, like Roe v. Wade where I believe are best held on a state level and addressed there. So, you know, going through the history of America, there would be others. But --

COURIC: Can you think of any?

PALIN: Well, I would think of any, again, that could best be dealt with on more a local level. Maybe I would take issue with. But, you know, as a mayor and then as a governor and even as a vice president, if I'm so privileged to serve, would be in a position of changing those things, but in supporting the law of the land as it reads today.


CHETRY: Well, so what can we expect tonight in St. Louis? Sarah Palin went through more than a dozen debates during her 2006 campaign for governor. But she's going up against a 36-year-Senate veteran Joe Biden. CNN's Joe Johns takes a look at both candidates' styles.


JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A political newcomer, Sarah Palin, on the biggest stage of her life, up against a political veteran in a high stakes debate. Actually, this is not new to her. When she was running for governor of Alaska, she was debating former Democratic Governor Tony Knowles, who was well known and far more experienced. It was a task and Palin triumphed, in part by going on the attack. PALIN: Are you aware now of the impact of that lack of leadership in your gridlock, what that caused to people of Alaska?

MODERATOR: You have one minute to respond, Mr. Knowles.

TONY KNOWLES, FMR. ALASKAN GOVERNOR: I have no idea what you're driving at.

PALIN: Well, what I was driving at was exactly that. That there was gridlock and much of that was caused in that last year by that memo asking in your Cabinet to find ways to put the legislators in kind of more untenable position.

JOHNS: In short, this candidate brings an impressive array of skills to a live televised debate.

MODERATOR: Ms. Palin, do you want to enter this race? 15 seconds if you do.

PALIN: I'm glad I'm sitting here in between them to make sure it doesn't get out of hand.

JOHNS: We asked former Republican Congresswoman Susan Molinari, who became a TV anchor, about how to view Palin versus Biden. She says even with his vast experience in the Senate and knowledge of politics, Biden has a serious challenge.

SUSAN MOLINARI (R), FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: He has to go after her without going after her and all I can say is good luck, Senator Biden. It's a tough call.

JOHNS: Biden has at least two tendencies he has to guard against. He's got a reputation as an attack dog and he's known for talking too much and sometimes too bluntly.

BIDEN: Dennis, the thing I like best about you is your wife.

JOHNS: Remember this exchange with NBC's Brian Williams?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: An editorial in the "Los Angeles Times" said, "in addition to his uncontrolled verbosity, Biden is a gaffe machine." Can you reassure voters in this country that you would have the discipline you would need on the world stage, Senator?


JOHNS: Obama chose Biden as running mate even though in the primary debates, Biden sometimes sounded more like John McCain. He all but said Democrats who advocated defunding the Iraq war were gambling with U.S. troops.

BIDEN: Lives are at stake. And I knew the right political vote, but I tell you what, some things are worth losing elections over.

JOHNS: Molinari says debating a woman also poses unique traps. Biden will have to choose his words carefully. He can't risk female voters concluding he's overly aggressive or condescending.

MOLINARI: His job is going to be to defend Senator Obama and take down Sarah Palin. How do you take down Sarah Palin and not get women mad?

JOHNS: A CNN Opinion Research Poll shows public expectations on this debate are evenly divided as to who will win. What is safe to say is this, do not underestimate Sarah Palin.

Joe Johns, CNN, Washington.


ROBERTS: Senator Biden and Governor Palin will be on stage for 90 minutes tonight. CNN's Suzanne Malveaux is live in St. Louis for us this morning.

And what are we expecting tonight other than probably the most eagerly anticipated vice presidential debate in history?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: John, a lot of people are expecting some fireworks. We'll have to see what happens, but a lot of anticipation, excitement about this. We're actually in the Francis Auditorium. It's a field house. This is where a lot of people, sports, other things take place. So, we'll see what happens here.

It's a familiar site. You may recognize it from 2004. This is where Bush and Kerry sparred. Right behind me, those two podiums that are set up. We expect the table in the middle there, PBS moderator Gwen Ifill will probably hobble to that table. She just broke her ankle the day before but she's going to be sitting there and, obviously, the questions are going to be a wide range of topics. Really, nothing is off the table here.

It is a much more restricted format, though, John, than what we saw in the presidential debate. It is going to be 90 seconds for each of them to respond to a question, then two minutes for kind of an open follow-up. But we're not expecting to see the kind of back and forth that we saw for the presidential debate.

This is something that was negotiated for both of the campaigns. Essentially, the Biden camp saying that they want the two candidates to stand there at those podiums instead of sitting down beside each other. They got that. And the Palin camp wanted to keep the back and forth, the sparring to a minimum. So, that is why you've got that stricter format.


ROBERTS: Suzanne Malveaux for us at Washington University there in St. Louis. Suzanne, thanks for that.

Some of the history of vice presidential debates for you now in an "AM Extra." The first vice presidential debate was in 1976 between Democratic nominee Walter Mondale and Republican nominee Bob Dole. In 1984, Geraldine Ferraro became the first woman nominee to debate when she took on Vice President George Bush. And in 1992, the first three- person debate was held when Vice President Dan Quayle, Democratic nominee Al Gore and Ross Perot running mate James Stockdale faced off. Remember Stockdale saying, "who am I and why am I here?"


CHETRY: We all asked that sometimes, don't we? Well, a bailout plan, the V.P. debate, John McCain is going to talk with us live about the topics on your mind. We're one-on-one with the candidate, coming up in just a couple of minutes. You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."


ROBERTS: 12 and a half minutes after the hour. Even if the House approves a bailout bill, it could still be weeks before the credit market loosens up. So, what if you need cash now? CNN personal finance editor Gerri Willis has got some dos and don'ts for consumers. Let's start with the don'ts first.

GERRI WILLIS, CNN PERSONAL FINANCE EDITOR: All right. The don'ts first. A lot of people out there are looking for fast cash. First thing not to do, don't get a payday loan. This is really just a cash advance of your pay, your weekly pay, but you pay for getting it so quickly, as much as 400 percent interest rate, just a killer. Cash advance on your credit card. You probably get these in your mailbox every single day. Also a bad idea, because the interest rates here are high, too. As much as 20 percent to 25 percent. I'm thinking about liquidating your 401(k). Maybe you loss your job and you're thinking I'll just take the cash. Bad idea. 10 percent penalty and you pay taxes on all of your gains, so not really workable for folks out there.

ROBERTS: And based on the contributions, too. It could take you years to replenish it.

WILLIS: Decades, depending on how long you've been in the workplace.

ROBERTS: OK. Give us some do's.

WILLIS: All right. Well, you could take a 401(k) loan. This is not my favorite thing in the world. I prefer that you leave your retirement money in placed. But sometimes you absolutely have to get that fast cash. This is one way you can do it.

ROBERTS: Let me ask you question. How is that different from withdrawing money from your 401(k)?

WILLIS: Well, we were talking about liquidating, which is taking all the money out. A loan you actually repay and you have five years to do it. And the interest rate is really pretty good, about six percent. A little more than prime typically. But here is the problem. If you get canned from your job, you have to repay it immediately.


WILLIS: Yes. So that could be painful.

ROBERTS: So that is actually taking money out of the 401(k), it's not just borrowing against it.

WILLIS: It's taking money out of the 401(k). You've got to repay the money to yourself. But you're really borrowing from yourself.

ROBERTS: I can see why you don't like that idea.

WILLIS: You can also tap your investments, John, like a CD, certificate of deposit. Break into the CD. This is actually a good thing to do. This is your money, anyway. You're just foregoing interest anywhere from three months to two years. Not a bad idea. If you're a senior, 62 or older, you can consider a reverse mortgage. Always a good idea.

ROBERTS: Right. But you got to make sure that when you take that reverse mortgage not to make it too big, right?

WILLIS: Don't make it too big and read the details. These things are hideously complicated. They are better products and they used to be. AARP had some great information on reverse mortgages. Go to their Web site, get some real details on how to pick the best one.

ROBERTS: Good deal. Thank, Gerri.

WILLIS: My pleasure.

ROBERTS: Good tips.


CHETRY: Well, tonight's V.P. debate has been billed as Joe Biden's experience against Sarah Palin's charisma. We'll ask John McCain what his running mate is doing to prep for tonight's big showdown when he joins us live in about 30 minutes.

ROBERTS: Primetime performance.


PALIN: I'm glad I'm sitting here in between them to make sure it doesn't get out of hands.


ROBERTS: Sarah Palin's debate history. We're live with the man who went head-to-head with her in Alaska's governors' race. You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tell him the good part.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The good part is that no matter whether our clients make money, or lose money, Duke & Duke get the commissions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, what do you think, Valentine?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sounds to me like you guys are a couple of bookies.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I told you he'd understand.


CHETRY: Billy Ray Valentine as Eddie Murphy's character in "Trading Places." It was a quick study. 25 years later, we're looking for more economic experts. Time to fast forward now to a look at what we're working on today. Former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan will talk about the bailout plan during his key note speech to a George Town law conference. We'll also get Warren Buffett's take when he speaks at Fortune Magazine's Most Powerful Women Summit in California.

And four more years for New York City's Michael Bloomberg. He's expected to officially announce that he's seeking a third term today to help the city through the financial crisis. But first, he would have to revise the city's term limits law so that he can run for a third term.

And we have a special treat in New York City right now. Not Mayor Bloomberg, of course, but our own Rob Marciano making a trip up from Atlanta.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good to see you. What's happening?

CHETRY: Nice to see you as well. What's going on?

MARCIANO: Well, I came to announce my candidacy for mayor of New York. So we just have to move up here and make that happen first. Hey, listen -- you miss the teletrader, don't you?

CHETRY: I sure do.

MARCIANO: We're not going to point or draw too much. There's a little bit of rain across northeast. I want to show you first, though, what's happening as far as the ship rolling back into town, The Intrepid. I know you miss it.

CHETRY: Of course. There was a big spot there left and now it's docked and it's back again. The USS Intrepid.

MARCIANO: It went away for a little while. They spend about $8 million on it. Screws it up. Put about 47,000 gallons of that gray paint that is so popular on big boats, and now it's moving back into town. So I think November 8th or 9th it will be reopened to the public.

CHETRY: Have you seen it in person. It is so humongous. MARCIANO: Yes, yes. It is.

CHETRY: You know, there's a line of people wrapped around the entire thing to get on and take a tour. And it's just so enormous when you see it in person.

MARCIANO: Big treat. You got to check it out when in rolls back into town.

All right, quick check on weather. Radar mentioned that. We also have some cold air, some of the chilliest air this evening, breaking out that nice fall stuff now. Turtle necks and all that kind of stuff. Double barrel fronts, actually, three of them. So we'll get reinforcing shots of cool air, not only today but through tomorrow. This will be some of the coolest air this season. Some frost on the pumpkin for sure. And then some stormy weather expected across the Pacific Northwest. You'll see some heavy rain across parts of Napa Valley. (INAUDIBLE).

It's good to see you, Kiran.

CHETRY: Wow. It's great to see you, as well. All right, Rob, thanks.

MARCIANO: See you.

ROBERTS: Beautiful day out there in New York today.

CHETRY: It is.

ROBERTS: Just feels nice and fresh.

Barack Obama has been saying he has a record of tackling the lobbyists in Washington. But is that really true? A closer look at the claims in the brand new round of the "Truth Squad." You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."


CHETRY: Welcome back to the "Most News in the Morning." Time again to check in with the "Truth Squad." Alina Cho looking at some statements that Barack Obama is making about taking on lobbyists. "Lobbyist," the dirty word in presidential politics.

ALINA CHO, CNN GENERAL ASSIGNMENT CORRESPONDENT: Big, bad dirty word, Kiran. Good morning. Good morning, everybody. It's something that Barack Obama talks about often on the campaign trail. No surprise how he's taken on lobbyists and he says as president, he'll do it again to reform health care and take on Wall Street. Here he is on Tuesday in Reno, Nevada.


OBAMA: I will take power away from the corporate lobbyists who think they can stand in the way of these reforms. I've done it in Illinois. I've done it in Washington. (END VIDEO CLIP)

CHO: Take power away from lobbyists in both Illinois and Washington? Is that true? Does his record back it up? Well, we looked at it. Last year, Obama did support something called The Honest Leadership and Open Government Act. That bill prohibits gifts and limits travel provided by lobbyists. It also increases the waiting periods before lawmakers can join lobbying firms. President Bush, by the way, signed that bill into law last September. Public Citizen, a non-profit consumer advocacy group gave Obama high marks for supporting it. They say he has pushed hard for other ethics reform legislation, as well.

But what about back in Illinois. Well, as a state senator, Obama was key in producing something called The Illinois Gift Ban. He actually helped draft the law back in 1988 and it also puts significant limits on gifts by lobbyists, and bans personal use of the campaign contributions.

So the question again, when Obama says he took on lobbyists in both Illinois and Washington, was he right? Pretty clear cut on this one for a change. The "Truth Squad" says -- and that means yes. This one is true. Obama has supported and even helped shape legislation that has cracked down on lobbyists.

As we get closer to the election, Kiran, this is not something we see very often. A clear cut true.

CHETRY: Right.

CHO: But we are happy to say that this one is true.

CHETRY: So that wasn't a fire alarm, that was a true?

CHO: That's right.

CHETRY: You don't have to leave the building. Alina, thanks.

CHO: You bet.

ROBERTS: You can see around here, you just never know.

The pressure this morning on the House of Representatives after the Senate passes the economic bailout. But will House Republicans support the bill. We'll ask Senator John McCain when he joins us live, coming up.

And what's it like to debate Sarah Palin? We will talk live to a former rival who has first hand experience. It's an interview both you and Joe Biden are going to want to see. You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."



PALIN: I'm glad I'm sitting here in between them to make sure it doesn't get out of hand.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, that's my line.

PALIN: I know.


ROBERTS: Sarah Palin in a 2006 debate in Alaska before becoming governor. The man taking the heat, Andrew Halcro. He ran as an independent against Palin, and debated her several times. He joins us now from the site of tonight's contest in St. Louis.

Andy, it's good to see you. You debated her 12 times actually. What kind of an opponent is she?

ANDREW HALCRO, DEBATED SARAH PALIN MORE THAN TWO DOZEN TIMES: Well, she's one that has got a very unique ability to connect with the crowd. To really make the crowd focus more on her presence rather than her answers. And it's actually -- John, I got to tell you, it's a skill a lot of politicians would love to have.

ROBERTS: Let me quote from a recent article you wrote. You said, "She's a master, not of facts, figures or insightful policy recommendations but at the fine art of the non-answer -- the glittering generality. Against such charms there is little Senator Biden or anyone can do."

Has he got a tough task ahead of him tonight?

HALCRO: He does. And I think the most important factor in tonight's debate is going to be the moderator, Gwen Ifill. I think, certainly judging, she has got a fabulous knowledge in public policy. She has a history of interviewing lawmakers. So she knows how to keep her interviewees kind of coloring between the lines.

So, what I would look for is I'd look for Gwen to push back, to say, "I'm Sorry, Governor Palin, I didn't hear an answer in that answer," or "I'm Sorry, Senator Biden, how does that reconcile with your record?" So, I think the wild card, because I believe both Governor Palin and Senator Biden are going to have to walk a tight rope. I think the wild card, and the most important person actually in tonight's debate is going to be the moderator.

ROBERTS: All right. Well, let's listen to another little bit of sound, a little more of an answer from Governor Palin here during a debate. She was asked a question about abortion. Let's listen to what she said.


UNIDENTIFIED MODERATOR: If your daughter were pregnant or your son was involved in a pregnancy, what would your reaction? I mean, if it was before marriage or anything like that. What would be your reaction and advise to him or her?

PALIN: Again, I would choose life and certainly I'm quite confident here that you're going to be asking my opponents those same scenarios.

UNIDENTIFIED MODERATOR: I will. But if your daughter had been raped, would that be something you would go?

PALIN: Again, I would choose life.


ROBERTS: Is that one of her strengths there, Andrew? Is that the depth of her convictions? Do people like that certainty that she has about certain issues?

ANDREW HALCRO (R) FMR. ALASKA REPRESENTATIVE: Well, I think there's no question that during the campaign, you know, Sarah is very pro life. I think one of the things that - especially in Alaska, one of the reasons why she's maintained such lofty approval ratings is she's governed from the center. She's has not pushed a conservative social agenda. And so she's been able to maintain positive ratings from independent to more moderate to liberal leaning Alaskans.


HALCRO: And now that she's on the national stage, people are seeing kind of a different Governor Palin. Because obviously, being on the national ticket, she has to throw the red meat which people aren't used to seeing her do.

ROBERTS: You also wrote about a conversation that you had with her in a coffee shop in which she turned to you and she said, "Andrew, I watched you in these debate with no notes, no papers, and yet when asked questions, you spout off facts, figures and policies, and I'm amazed. But then I look out at the audience and I ask myself, does any of this really matter?"

Again, it's this idea of personality over facts and figures. Does that give her a potential advantage over Senator Biden?

HALCRO: Well, it does in a sense where people aren't paying attention. Certainly the platitudes and the glittering generalities go a long way. But for those folks that are watching tonight. They are looking for answers. I mean to the 46 million people in this country that don't have health insurance, to the economic rescue package that passed the Senate, to what we're going to do overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan, to those that are looking for specific answers, platitudes and glittering generalities won't cut it. And nor do I think her opponent Senator Biden is going to let her get away with it.

ROBERTS: All right. We'll certainly be watching this very, very closely tonight to see how it goes. Andrew Halcro with some insight on the kind of debater that Governor Palin is. Andrew, it's good to see you. Thanks.

HALCRO: Thanks, John. Take care.

ROBERTS: Enjoy the best political team on television for your front row seat to the vice presidential debate. Joe Biden against Sarah Palin live tonight, 9:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN.

CHETRY: All right. Well, right now, we're going to bring in Ali Velshi. He has some news for us this morning, the latest reading on the unemployment claims coming to us from the Labor Department. Hey, Ali.

ALI VELSHI, CNN, SENIOR BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Kiran. We just got these in. This is the weekly unemployment claims from last week. They've shot up to 497,000. That's the number of people who filed for initial jobless claims last week. That means that they're newly unemployed. We were expecting the number to be 475,000. That means most people say anything above 400,000 suggests an environment which means recession. Now the reason this is particularly important this week is that tomorrow we will get the unemployment numbers for September. We are expecting a record 105,000 people to have lost their jobs in September, taking us to nearly a quarter million jobs lost in the United States this year alone.

This has sent those Dow futures that we often talk about, the calculation of how markets will perform when they open down now triple digits. Although the big thing everybody is waiting for is whether the House will act on this bailout package and that's not expected to happen until tomorrow. So it looks like we're off to a rough start on the market day. Unemployment claims, new unemployment claims, now 497,000 for last week. Kiran.

CHETRY: All right. Ali, thanks.

ROBERTS: We've been telling you about this story for the last couple of weeks. Long lines of gasoline stations across the southeast as the gas shortage continues. It may still be felt for a couple more weeks. Rusty Dornin is looking into all of this for us.


RUSTY DORNIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: If you live in the southeast, this is probably a familiar sight. Desmond Diggs ran out of gas waiting in line. Then the station ran out.

What are you going to do now?


DORNIN: We visited this gas station a few days ago. Lines stretched down the street. On Wednesday, no wait. Officials say gas supplies are improving. But try telling Kim Boxley that. He waited in line 45 minutes.

They say it's getting better. What do you think?

(KIM BOXLEY): I think it's still the same. Nothing changed.

DORNIN: Two major pipelines supply gas to the southeast. But Gulf Coast refineries were damaged by Hurricanes Gustav and Ike, shutting down that supply temporarily. DORNIN (on-camera): The pipeline may be up and running 100 percent but the refineries aren't, which means it's impossible to keep tanks like these full and the stations still have to be rationed.

DORNIN (voice-over): Stations often get only the half the normal supply of gas. This is a problem when people panic and make runs on stations. Fuel distributor Tex Pitfield says it isn't over yet.

TEX PITFIELD, PRES. SARAGUAY PETROLEUM CORP.: Everybody wants those same gallons and it is going to be a fight. Probably at least another week of rolling outages.

DORNIN: In Charlotte, North Carolina, some want to blame the mayor for not ordering rationing. Others say, consumers need to accept responsibility.

JEFF GANOUNG, MOTORIST: If everybody shares, buys a little bit of gas, doesn't try to horde, there's enough to go around for everybody.

DORNIN: In Georgia, some blame the governor, who has been in Europe ever since the shortage hit.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know anything about the politics. I do know he's supposed to be in charge and my state is having this problem, at least my locale. I think he should be responsible.

DORNIN: A spokesman for Georgia Governor Sonny Purdue says he's obtained federal approval to bring in less refined gas and is now licensing out of state haulers to bring in supplies.


CHETRY: That was Rusty Dornin reporting for us. We're going to take a quick break. When we come back we talk live with Senator John McCain.


ROBERTS: Senator John McCain and Barack Obama's campaigns desperately want to win in Florida. And now there's an irreverent new push to get young Jewish voters to lobby their own grandparents there. You heard of get out the vote. How about schlep out the vote? Here's Kareen Wynter with that.

KAREEN WYNTER, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: John, Kiran, good morning. She's made a career out of raising eyebrows. Comedian Sara Silverman is at it again.


WYNTER (voice-over): Sara Silverman is bringing her dirty humor to the campaign trail.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And get your fat Jewish [ expletive ] on a plane to Florida. WYNTER: And she isn't kidding. Check out this four-minute internet video on the website, Silverman wants young, Jewish voters to schlep it to Florida, a closely fought battleground state to convince their undecided grandparents to vote for Obama.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know why your grandparents don't like Barack Obama because his name sounds scary. But you would think that somebody named (manisever guberman) might understand that.

WYNTER: Wallach co-founded the website.

ARI WALLACH, CO-FOUNDER THEGREATSCHLEP.COM: It literally took Sarah about 15 seconds to get the concept, say yes, and already kind of start scripting it out and we had it about 10 days later.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know, you could compare an elderly Jewish woman like Nana to a young, black man. They both love track outfits. They can't get enough of them. What else? Car of choice? The Cadillac? All their friends are dying.


WYNTER: Jokes aside, Wallach's campaign has a serious goal.

WALLACH: 12 percent of the American Jewish community is undecided. That comes out to a few hundred thousand votes. Most of those actually are in swing states.

WYNTER: Wallach says response to their initiative has been overwhelming. Silverman's video has received more than a million hits and more than 11,000 have joined the organization's Facebook page.

WALLACH: It's a testament to the work that people are doing across the board and how strongly they believe in this candidate and the change that he can bring to America.


WYNTER: In addition to Florida, Wallach's campaign is also targeting other key states like Ohio, Pennsylvania and Missouri. John, Kiran.

ROBERTS: Kareen Wynter reporting for us this morning. Kareen, thanks so much. 40 minutes after the hour. I just want to give you an update on what's going on here. We're expecting to talk to John McCain. We were expecting to talk to him about ten minutes ago. But a little tiny bit of a technical problem in the lines between his headquarters there in Arlington, Virginia, and us here in New York. We're just trying to get that problem worked out. He's with us. He's standing by. We just want to make sure we can see him for the entire interview. So give us a couple more seconds with that. And we'll get Senator John McCain on the line just as soon as we can. Stay with us. You're watching the most news in the morning.


CHETRY: Again, we're waiting to speak to Senator John McCain. We're working out some of the kinks with our technical side here. But first tonight's vice presidential debates maybe Joe Biden's coming out party. Sarah Palin has been getting a lot of attention since she was named the Republican VP nominee. Many are expecting a more experienced Biden to shine during this debate. As our Tom Foreman reports Biden is trying to keep a lid on those expectations.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN HOST: He thoroughly knows international affairs. She doesn't. He spent decades learning the ways of Washington. She hasn't. Yet Joe Biden is furiously lowering expectations for his debate with Sarah Palin.

SEN. JOE BIDEN (D), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have great respect for the - what I hear and watch some of the debating skills of Governor Palin. I think it's going to be a really tough debate. But I think this is all about where we are.

FOREMAN: Biden has reason to be cautious. His running mate, Barack Obama, beat Hillary Clinton by making her Washington experience a weakness and Palin is calling Biden an insider every chance she gets.

GOV. SARAH PALIN (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm looking forward to meeting him, too. I've never met him before. But I've been hearing about his Senate speeches since I was in, like, second grade.

FOREMAN: What's more, Biden is notoriously known for speaking his mind and sometimes putting his foot in his mouth, like recently when he said his helicopter was forced down during a visit to Afghanistan earlier this year. It was, but by the weather, not by enemy attacks. He attacked his own campaign for a recent ad, criticizing McCain's computer skills.

BIDEN: I thought that was terrible.

KATIE COURIC, CBS HOST: Why did you do it, then?

BIDEN: I didn't know we did. If I had known we did, we would have never done it.

FOREMAN: That tendency could make him go for the jugular against Palin and since previous attacks on her have brought accusations of sexism, Ken Vogel with says, watch out.

KEN VOGEL, THE POLITICO: If I'm Joe Biden's people, I am telling him, don't go after her too aggressively. Make sure you're respectful. Call her Governor Palin, not Sarah. And don't point out if she makes a major gaffe. The media will do that for you after the fact.

FOREMAN (on-camera): Joe Biden was already in the Senate 20 years ago, so he knows personally about the last vice presidential debate to shape up this way. That's when the first George Bush picked a young senator as his running mate.

FOREMAN: (voice-over): When Dan Quayle invoked the spirit of John Kennedy while debating Lloyd Bentsen the more experienced senator steamrolled him.

LLOYD BENTSEN (D), FORMER U.S. SENATOR: I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy.

FOREMAN: But Joe Biden knows the punch line that followed, although the Democrats won the debate.

GEORGE H.W. BUSH, FMR. U.S. PRESIDENT: I, George Herbert Walker Bush, do solemnly swear -

FOREMAN: The Republicans won the White House. Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.


CHETRY: Well joining me now is Republican presidential candidate Senator John McCain. Senator, great to talk to you this morning. We worked out the kinks and I'm glad that you're with us.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you, Kiran. There was a little technical delay there.

CHETRY: Live TV in the morning for you. Well I want to ask you first of all about you suspending your campaign to try and get this bill through the House. It didn't make it the first time. Did it hurt you that you weren't able to get enough House Republicans to get it passed?

MCCAIN: We'll get it passed. I came back and suspended my campaign and got the House into the negotiations at the table, which they had not been before. We were able to get a large increase in the number of Republicans who voted for it. We were able to make significant changes in the bill, which improved it rather dramatically. And I'm confident it will go through the House of Representatives. I am proud of the work that I did, particularly engaging the House Republicans who have been completely shut out of any negotiations.

It's now going to be a bipartisan and bicameral resolve. And Senator Obama said he would phone it in. That's the difference. I suspended my campaign and put my country first. And even if I had failed, it was still the right thing to do. We didn't fail. It's going to pass.

CHETRY: You know, some of our congressional reporters are saying that even though that it is more attractive than it was to House republicans, this isn't a shoe-in. What are you doing today to shore up support, to make sure those Republicans holdouts do vote for this?

MCCAIN: Oh, I continue to be in conversation with the Republican leadership and my friends in the House. Many of them are friends of mine. I think it's still going to be a tough vote, but I believe it's going to pass and I'm glad to have played a role in it. I didn't decide to stay on the trail and call in. I came to Washington and met face-to-face and worked hard and I'm very proud of that and I will always put my country first.

CHETRY: Some of your critics said that perhaps it was a stunt or perhaps inserting presidential politics gummed up the works. What do you say to that?

MCCAIN: I think look at what happened is the best way to answer that. And if you want to get in the minutia, the majority leader, Senator Reid, said I had to sign on to anything that happened and that was going to be a legislative package and then I came back to Washington and said that I shouldn't have come back to Washington. It was a little bit of foolishness there. It shows, really, how bitter the partisanship is here, especially on the part of some of the leading Democrats. But I'm proud of what we did. The Republicans got engaged. We got a much better package. I am very confident we will pass this through the House. It may be tough. And we will have helped the American people. That's what my job is.

CHETRY: You know, as evidenced by this $700 bailout bill that was in Congress, you're really facing, the next president is going to be facing quite a troubled economy, a $10 trillion deficit. What specifically are you going to be able to do to help the economy if you're in office?

MCCAIN: Well, create jobs through alternate - eliminating our dependence on foreign oil which is millions of jobs and stop sending $700 billion a year to countries that don't like us very much, to make health care affordable and available, to eliminate wasteful and unnecessary spending, which has been my record. Senator Obama wants to raise spending by some $860 billion by keeping taxes low.

CHETRY: May I ask you, though, about the Bush - about the president's tax cut?

MCCAIN: And creating more jobs in America and I'm confident that we can get them on the right track.

CHETRY: Specifically with the president's tax cut, it's set to expire. Are you going to be able to keep that in place given the tremendous deficit we're facing?

MCCAIN: If you raise people's taxes in a bad economy, then you will hurt the economy very badly. That's a matter of economic record. I don't want to raise anybody's taxes. Senator Obama has voted 92 times to raise people's taxes or against tax cuts as a member of the United States Senate. Again, we look at our records. He's the most liberal senator in the United States Senate. That means on spending and taxes, as well.

CHETRY: I got to move on -


CHETRY: - to your vice presidential nominee. Of course, the big debate is tonight between Sarah Palin and Joe Biden. And right now, there has been a lot of I guess questions being thrown around about your pick, especially after her being unable to answer in an interview with Katie Couric what other Supreme Court decisions besides Roe versus Wade that she does not support. Do you think that was a fair question to ask the vice presidential nominee? MCCAIN: I think the American people decide what is fair. I know that there have been attacks on Sarah Palin that have been remarkable to me in many ways, but I have total confidence in her. She's very comfortable in her own skin. She's had had more experience in leadership than Senator Obama and Senator Biden put together. She's been a mayor, she's been a governor. She knows energy issues, negotiated a $40 billion pipeline of natural gas to the lower 48. I'm very confident about her credentials and her vision and her strength for America and so I'm very proud of her.

CHETRY: You said that she's comfortable in her own skin. Some of the criticism has been that Sarah Palin hasn't been allowed to be Sarah. That she's been tightly managed by the campaign, that she's been holed up and maybe given too much information. What can we expect to see tonight as she debates Joe Biden?

MCCAIN: Well, I'm sure all of those critics say you're talking about there - look the fact is she'll do fine tonight. She has experience, she has talent, she has leadership. She has great inner strength. She has an ability to lead that's been proven, taking on her own party. Joe Biden and Barack Obama have never taken on the leaders of their party on any issue. She's stood up for what's right for the people of Alaska. And she will stand up for what's right for America. Either one of --

CHETRY: Well Joe Biden did actually agree with you though in the primary campaigns that we can't leave Iraq and that you need to make sure that that war is funded and so he did and he said he was willing to lose because of it.

MCCAIN: Actually, Joe Biden said Iraq had to be broken up into three different countries, one of the more (cocamie) ideas that I've heard in a long long time. And he has attack the surge as not being a success. We have very different positions on Iraq, just as we did when he voted against the first Gulf war and I supported it. He has a long record of wrong votes on national security issues.

CHETRY: I'd love to talk to you more, but we got to let you go. Senator John McCain, thanks so much for joining us this morning.

MCCAIN: Thanks for having me on. It's always good to be with you.

CHETRY: Thank you. You, too.


CHETRY (voice-over): Palin parity.

PALIN: He's an old man. He doesn't know I'm going to debate him into the ground.

CHETRY: A most unusual debate. Jeanne Moos looks at the filling, the funny and the flashbacks.

PALIN: Laugh if you will, but that is my answer, yes.

CHETRY: You're watching the most news in the morning.




DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, "THE LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN": Sarah Palin right now is training for tomorrow night's vice presidential debate in Arizona, Arizona and she says it has really helped her on foreign policy. Because from Arizona, she can see Mexico.


ROBERTS: It is the most highly anticipated vice presidential debate in history. And the stage for tonight's face-off between Sarah Palin and Joe Biden is being set with all manner of imposters and impersonators and most of them are squarely focused on Governor Palin. CNN's Jeanne Moos covers the pre-show.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Do not expect to hear this question at the vice presidential debate.


MOOS: They're just stand-ins for the candidates so technicians can check camera angles and lighting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Without a doubt, it's soda.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would disagree.

MOOS: Sarah Palin's stand-in at least looks the part. The debate has become a television event, pop culture phenomenon.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm just a hockey mom.

MOOS: With the candidates at cartoons, as potato heads.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We must come together, not as red potatoes or (Ukan gold).

MOOS: And the ever present impersonator.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I feel bad. He's an old man. He doesn't know I'm going to debate him into the ground.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't know if he's familiar with your debate history.

MOOS: Most people aren't.

PALIN: Laugh if you will, but that is my answer. MOOS: Palin was an effective debater when she ran for Governor of Alaska. Sure, she's had her problems with the national media to the point of being mocked alongside Miss Teen South Carolina.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you agree with the Bush doctrine?

PALIN: I personally believe -

MOOS: You'll find version after version juxtaposing the two on youtube.

PALIN: Alaska has a very narrow maritime border between a foreign country, Russia.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I believe our education, like such as in South Africa.

MOOS: But those expecting Palin to fall apart haven't seen her smooth debate performances from 2006.

PALIN: I'm glad I'm sitting here in between them to make sure it doesn't get out of hand.

MOOS: For now, it's just the stand-ins.

DANIEL PORTER, GWEN IFILL STAND-IN: I'm Gwen Ifill and I am proud to introduce Governor Sarah Palin and Senator Joe Biden.

MOOS: Washington University students waving to an empty auditorium. Now the actual debate moderator, Gwenn Ifill fell down some steps Monday while carrying research materials for the debate and broke her ankle. Her stand-ins report debate organizer have a pillow for her ankle under the desk.

PORTER: There's a stool that she can put the pillow on top of. And it's really cute.

MOOS: Forget Iran or Pakistan.

PORTER: Should we eat cereal or eat granola?

THOMAN: I'm a huge proponent of sugar cereal. One of my favorite cereal is Lucky Charms, like really just the marshmallow -

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Me and Tony the Tiger go way back.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Should I sing in the middle of the debate?

MOOS: No. Stick to what she did in the talent competition for Miss Alaska.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


CHETRY: All right. So don't forget to join the best political team on television for your front row seat to the V.P. debate. It's Joe Biden versus Sarah Palin, live tonight 9:00 p.m. right here on CNN.

ROBERTS: No sleep again tonight.

CHETRY: No, you're going to have to just keep it going for one more day. Thanks so much for joining us on this AMERICAN MORNING.

ROBERTS: We will see you again bright and early tomorrow morning with all kinds of post debate coverage. Coming up next here on CNN, NEWSROOM with Heidi Collins.


HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: The Senate speaks. Now the House gets its second turn. Sweeteners added to bailout bill. Will the recipes be too rich or just right for House Republicans?

And showdown in St. Louis. Big buzz over tonight's vice presidential debate but could it change voters' minds. It is Thursday, October 2nd. I'm Heidi Collins. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM.

All the talk this morning, bailing out the banks and the most anticipated vice presidential debate in recent memory. Last-minute preparations under way for the one and only showdown between Joe Biden and Sarah Palin. Also, House members head back to Capitol Hill. The ball is in their court now after the senators passed the bill to bail out our financial system. The $700 billion plan increases bank account protections and as additional tax breaks. Even so, most Asian and Pacific stock markets closed down today. And European leaders eye a Saturday summit on what they see as a global financial crisis.