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THE SITUATION ROOM
Dow Plunges Almost 700 Points; Fraud Charge Rocks the Vote; Todd Palin Affidavit Revealed; Lavish Spending On Your Dime
Aired October 9, 2008 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
We are following the breaking news from Wall Street this afternoon. After another dismal day for stocks, the Dow down almost 700 points, to a five year low, along with the Nasdaq and the S&P 500. Adding insult to financial injury, it was one year ago today that the Dow hit its all time high of 14164. It seems so far away now.
CNN's senior business correspondent, Ali Velshi, is here -- Ali, besides a bloodbath, what are we seeing?
ALI VELSHI, CNN SENIOR BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: You know, this is -- this is what you call a crisis of confidence. If somebody didn't know what that was three weeks ago, now you know. Every single day, no matter what happens, no matter what medicine the administration throws at this thing, no matter who gives a speech or what they say, these markets continue to sell off.
The pattern today is going to start to look familiar to you, by the way. It starts off going down in the morning and then it bounces around. And for a while, it looked like it was OK. It was just, you know, meandering around. And then right around 2:45, 3:00 the afternoon, it just goes off a cliff. We've seen this now for seven days in a row.
And yet the bottom line is folks don't think it's done yet. We're about 8500 now on the Dow. That's just about -- maybe a little closer to 8600. A lot of experts have been saying that we're getting close to this thing, that it looks like a purge -- a capitulation of the markets, where those people who don't want to be in it are out and professionals -- by the way, the professional who may run your 401(k)s are looking to start investing in stocks because they think they'll go up in the long-term.
History bears out that this is the case, John. Markets tend to improve. They tend to bottom out and start to come up months before the end of a recession.
Now, there are some folks in Washington who still won't admit to you that we're in a recession. But the bottom line is we are. And this might start to meet and spell the end of it. You'll still see home prices going down. You will still see job losses. Maybe -- maybe they will get less severe. Hard to know.
But the bottom line is you might be starting to see where the bottom is on this market. Now you ask -- you didn't ask. I'm going to suggest that you might ask me why you'd know that there's a bottom. It's because there's an intrinsic value to these investments, John. At some point, investors -- maybe they're elsewhere in the world -- say it's just worth buying these stocks because they'll come back at some point and we might as well have it. A lot of people make a lot of money when they try and find the bottom in a stock market because these markets do, historically, always come back -- John.
ROBERTS: Ali, we had the president's economic adviser, Edward Lazear, on THE SITUATION ROOM last hour. He said be patient, it's going to take some time. The question is, how much time do we have?
VELSHI: Well, it's -- now, it's confidence. Now it's about being able to say OK, I get it, we've thrown a lot of medicine at this, it will work. The markets aren't interested in the confidence message. They're interested in the value. At this point, they figure we're getting very close to making these stocks valuable. They'll start to buy in. And that means your 401(k) should start to improve, in time.
You're off about 35 percent, by the way, compared to a year ago, when we hit our highs. So if you haven't sold out now, it's probably not worth in locking in your losses this close to the bottom, if that's where we are.
ROBERTS: Ali Velshi, thanks for that.
We'll check back with you a little bit later on.
ROBERTS: Just 26 days now before the presidential election and stunning allegations of massive voter registration fraud. Thousands of applications now in serious doubt and the activist group behind them is under a very hot spotlight.
Drew Griffin of CNN's Special Investigations Unit is uncovering for it -- uncovering it all for us. Drew joins us now. What's going on here -- Drew?
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS UNIT CORRESPONDENT: John, in a state that Barack Obama is trying to win this time, Indiana -- we're talking about Lake County, Indiana, the northern end, with a bipartisan -- bipartisan election board workers are saying this is registration fraud, what is happening there. It's the heavily Democratic area in the northern part, Gary, Indiana -- shuttered steel mills, heavy minority population, in the north end of this county.
It is where ACORN, the community activist group, intended to register 45,000 new voters in this county.
Well, come the deadline of October 6th, ACORN dropped off 5,000 voter registration cards to the Lake County Board of Elections. Those people were elated -- they want new voters in the county -- until they started going through them, checking signatures, checking addresses and found out one after another was just fraudulent.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) GRIFFIN: A lot of them?
RUTHANN HOAGLAND (R), LAKE COUNTY ELECTIONS BOARD: Fifty percent. We had close to 5,000 total from ACORN. And so far, we have identified about 2,100.
GRIFFIN: So roughly half of them...
HOAGLAND: Roughly half.
GRIFFIN: ...are bad?
GRIFFIN: Registered to a dead person, registered as a person who lives at a fast food shop...
HOAGLAND: Yes, yes.
GRIFFIN: Or just all of them, amazingly, in the same hand?
HOAGLAND: Yes. Yes. All the signatures look exactly the same. Everything on the cards filled out looks just the same.
GRIFFIN: Ruthann, fraud?
HOAGLAND: We have no idea what the motive behind it is. It's just overwhelming to us.
GRIFFIN: Here's another ACORN filled out registration form. It's for Jimmy Johns (ph), 10839 Broadway in Crown Point. Jimmy Johns. We decided to track him down. Here he is.
Is there anybody here that's actually named Jimmy Johns?
Nobody registered to vote here named Jimmy Johns?
SALLY LASOTA (D), LAKE COUNTY ELECTION BOARD: Both sides, Democrats and Republicans. For us, it's unfortunate. ACORN, with its intent, perhaps, was good to begin with, but unfortunately went awry somewhere. And these people, we don't know if truly they are registered or actually people who want to vote. They're mixed in with those, as you see, the dead they're trying to resurrect for elections. And that's sad. It really is.
GRIFFIN: The question here, John, are any of these 5,000 ACORN registered voters for real?
Twenty-one hundred we know are not. The rest have been set aside now, until they can get through all the other apparently legitimate registration forms. And then they'll go back and see if there are any real registered voters in there right now.
But big concerns that this voter registration fraud could lead to actual voter fraud come November.
ROBERTS: You know, another case in the State of Nevada, Drew. Apparently, the names of the Dallas Cowboys' starting lineup were showing up on voter registration forms.
Did you speak to anyone from ACORN?
What do they have to say about these allegations?
GRIFFIN: Yes. We got bounced around a lot. The Gary office is closed. Apparently, this whole thing was being run out of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. We went up to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The ACORN office there was closed. Finally, this afternoon, we got a hold of their lawyer in Boston. His name is Brian Mellor.
And he actually tried to turn this right back on these election officials, saying they're just trying to keep poor people from voting.
Here's what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRIAN MELLOR, ACORN SENIOR COUNSELOR, PROJECT VOTE: We believe their purpose is to attack ACORN and suppress votes. We think that by attacking ACORN, that they are going to discourage people who may have registered with ACORN from voting. We think that this is an attack on ACORN because they want to suppress votes. They want to discourage us from doing the work that they should be doing. The state should be doing this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRIFFIN: It's getting very political now. The Republicans all over this. As you said, John, there's allegations in many states -- many of the swing states, where ACORN has been working, of fraud.
John Boehner, the House minority leader, says the government should de-fund ACORN and all of its projects -- de-fund any government support for this group.
ROBERTS: Drew Griffin, good work digging into all of that.
And Drew, by the way, is going to have a full report tonight in the CNN Election Center at 8:00 p.m. Eastern and "ANDERSON COOPER 360" tonight, 10:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN.
For the first time, we are hearing from Sarah Palin's husband about a controversy that has been dogging her campaign -- allegations that she and her husband pressured a state official to fire a trooper who happened to be their ex-brother-in-law.
CNN justice correspondent, Kelli Arena, is working this story for us -- Kelli, what's Todd Palin's side of the story? KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, Todd Palin defended his role as a close adviser to his wife. He denies charges that he abused that relationship to get her ex-brother-in-law fired.
ARENA (voice-over): He's usually right by her side. The two are very close, but Todd Palin says that does not mean that he stepped over the line. For the first time publicly, Todd Palin defends his role in the controversy swirling in Alaska around a state trooper.
In a newly released affidavit, Palin makes no apologies for wanting to protect his family just weeks before the election.
MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: They want to try to manage this and keep it all within Alaska. They don't want it coming down here to the lower 48.
ARENA: The Palins are accused of pressuring Alaska's public safety commissioner, Walt Monegan, to fire a state trooper who divorced Sarah Palin's sister. Monegan claims that when he didn't do what they wanted, he was fired instead.
WALT MONEGAN, FORMER PUBLIC SAFETY COMMISSIONER: I believe that I was fired because I did not fire Mike Wooten.
ARENA: But Governor Palin says she fired Monegan over budget issues and his failure to fill trooper vacancies.
Here's what she told ABC.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. SARAH PALIN (R-AK), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I never pressured him to fire or hire anybody.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ARENA: Todd Palin described Wooten as "a threat, dishonest." He says Wooten "threatened to kill Sarah's dad" and admits he was frustrated Wooten kept his job. But he says he never pressured anyone to fire him, including his wife.
"Anyone who knows Sarah knows she's the governor," he said, "and she calls the shots."
In fact, Todd Palin says his wife told him to drop it and stop talking about the Wooten issue.
The documents were released on the same day that Alaska's Supreme Court heard arguments in a lawsuit designed to block the probe.
PRESTON: When she talks about being a maverick and a renegade, at the same time really trying to muzzle this investigation, I mean, that's not a good thing.
ARENA: And, John, we just got word that that lawsuit did not succeed, that there was a ruling that the investigation could go forward.
You know, John, Todd Palin had been resisting a subpoena by lawmakers looking into the firing since September. But his answers do allow him now to get his side of the story out, just before the prosecutor conducting that inquiry is expected to release his report.
ROBERTS: Kelli Arena watching that story for us this afternoon. Kelli, thanks for that.
They took a government bailout in one hand, while spending lavishly with the other.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: AIG spent -- listen to this one -- $23,000 at the hotel spa and another $1,400 at the salon.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: Almost half a million dollars in total. Now it appears that AIG may have learned a lesson.
Also, the big city sheriff who says he's not going to evict any more victims of foreclosure. You'll meet him.
Plus, some Democrats now dreaming of a landslide win for Barack Obama -- why that could come back to haunt them.
ROBERTS: Troubled insurance giant, AIG, apparently is getting the message. It faced widespread outrage for spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on a luxury retreat just days after taking a massive government bailout -- and it was about to do it again.
CNN's Dan Simon is in Half Moon Bay, California, just south of San Francisco -- Dan, update our viewers on all this.
DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, this is where AIG was going to be hosting its next extravagant event. This is The Ritz Carlton at Half Moon Bay. Rooms at this the scenic and very windy resort go for about $400 a night.
Now, we all know AIG got absolutely hammered for hosting a similar event, that one at the St. Regis Resort in Southern California. The company spent about $400,000.
Yet, as early as this morning, AIG was defending the junket here at The Ritz, basically saying it's something they need to do for the health of their business.
But about an hour or so later, the company reversed itself, canceled the event here at The Ritz. Perhaps it had something to do with those harsh exchanges on Capitol Hill between lawmakers and AIG executives.
Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: AIG spent -- listen to this one -- $23,000 at a hotel spa and another $1,400 at the salon. They were getting their manicures, their facials, their pedicures and their massages, while the American people were footing the bill.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SIMON: Bottom line -- the P.R. was absolutely terrible for AIG. They realized that P.R. does matter.
Now there will be some sort of cancellation penalty for bailing out on The Ritz, but no word on how much that will be -- John, back to you.
ROBERTS: Dan Simon in Half Moon Bay for us. Dan, thanks.
It's a can't miss sign of these economic times -- the national debt clock near New York City's Times Square has maxed out. So what to do about it. Let's go to Brooke Baldwin -- Brooke, is there going to be a new clock put up to keep pace with this ballooning federal deficit?
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, you bet there will be. There has to be. And this new clock, this fourth version will be bigger. It will be brighter. And it will have the capacity of calculating our nation's debt up to one quadrillion dollars.
BALDWIN (voice-over): The national debt clock has run out of room.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If my grandfather only knew that it was -- the debt clock was going to a quadrillion, that we were expanding it to so much, I think he would be rolling over in his grave right now.
BALDWIN: He is Seymour Durst, the original keeper of the clock. Anita here is his granddaughter.
You heard her right -- her family's plan is to replace this clock, adding two more debt digits capable of counting to a quadrillion. That is a number most passers by can't comprehend.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's just mind-boggling. It's just time for a new economy and, hopefully, a new president.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Especially with the market the way it just crashed and all the money we've just lost, and here we are on vacation. It's not a good time. BALDWIN: A time unlike the 1980s, when Seymour Durst conceived of the clock. With the debt at $2 trillion, it was like economic apples and oranges to today's financial woes.
DOUG DURST, KEEPER OF THE NATIONAL DEBT CLOCK: It really started in the '80s with the Reagan administration and, as the first George Bush called it, voodoo economics. And then people got addicted to it and it's just grown and grown.
BALDWIN: Then in 2000, the clock stopped ticking.
DURST: During the Clinton administration, we were able to have a balanced budget and the debt stopped growing. That's when we put an American flag over it to, you know, hide it, but not take it down.
BALDWIN: Now the Durst organization will be taking it down, to replace it with a bland new, flashier fourth version.
BALDWIN: So, John, just to set the scene right now, the clock over my left shoulder is sitting at $10 trillion and rising. So just to wrap your head around this number -- because a lot of people out here I talked to couldn't -- I did a little math. One quadrillion, as I said, adds two digits. So that is the number one followed by 15 zeros.
ROBERTS: We never thought that they were going to get to $10 trillion. Let's hope they don't get anywhere near a quadrillion.
Brooke, thanks so much for that.
ROBERTS: They are not ordinary doctors -- their patient is the president of the United States.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You try to stay out of what we call the kill zone, which is the immediate five or six feet radius around the president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: What doctor has to stay out of the kill zone?
Former White House doctors give us an inside look at a medical career unlike any other.
And some say Americans themselves are to blame for this financial crisis and that politicians are just too afraid to say it -- the politics of truth and fear.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) ROBERTS: This just into THE SITUATION ROOM. We have learned, just a couple of minutes ago, that the Obama campaign has purchased 30 minutes of network television time for October the 29th. We do not know which networks. We don't know what time this air time has been purchased for. But we do know that they have bought a 30 minute block from the networks. That's just six days before the election.
We don't know exactly what they're planning, whether it would be an address to the nation by the Democratic nominee for president, whether it would be some sort of presentation in a newscast -- pseudo newscast form or a documentary. We're just learning this. We'll try to get more details on this.
Meantime, Susan Roesgen is monitoring stories incoming into THE SITUATION ROOM right now. She's in Washington. What have you got -- Susan.
SUSAN ROESGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, a roadside bomb in Baghdad killed a senior Iraqi lawmaker affiliated with the radical Shiite cleric, Muqtada al-Sadr. Two bystanders were also killed and two of the lawmaker's bodyguards were wounded. Al Sadr's militia has been observing a cease-fire, which had contributed to a sharp drop in sectarian violence. The Iraqi government says it will investigate the attack.
And Afghanistan is asking NATO to step up its help in fighting the drug trade there. Afghanistan's defense minister says he wants help in attacking heroin makers and dealers. Afghanistan's thriving drug trade is believed to pay for much of the insurgency against the government and the NATO forces in that country.
I guess you could call it the one bright spot in the an otherwise dreadful economy. Oil prices continue to drop, more than $2.30 today, down to $86.59 a barrel.
As you might imagine, in tight economic times, people and businesses just cut back and energy consumption and they lower the demand. And that means lower prices. Oil prices have dropped about 40 percent since hitting an all-time high of $147 a barrel in July -- John.
ROBERTS: Susan Roesgen in Washington. Susan, thanks for that.
A hurting town in a toss-up state where the things voters care most about are jobs.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They're taking away everything from me, my family, my friends, this whole town. I'm sorry.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: Now they're taking their case directly to the candidates. Also, meet the big city sheriff who is fed up. He has stopped serving eviction notices. Is he breaking the laws that he's supposed to enforce?
ROBERTS: You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
And happening now, jobs and the presidential campaign. We will go to one Ohio town that is fighting to keep a major employer from leaving. And we'll see how both John McCain and Barack Obama are playing there.
Also, hero or vigilante? I'll be talking with the sheriff of Cook County, Illinois, who is refusing to serve anymore eviction notices on foreclosed homes.
And first doctor -- CNN's Sanjay Gupta takes a fascinating look behind the scenes at what it's like to be the president's personal physician.
Wolf Blitzer is off today. I'm John Roberts. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
On the campaign trail in the battleground state of Ohio today, Senator Barack Obama slammed rival John McCain's mortgage rescue plan. Listen to how he put it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: His first response to the housing crisis in March was that homeowners shouldn't get any help at all. Then a few weeks ago, he put out a plan that basically ignored homeowners. Now, in the course of 12 hours, he's ended up with a plan that punishes taxpayers, rewards banks and won't solve our housing crisis.
But this is the kind of erratic behavior we've been seeing out of Senator McCain. You remember the first day of this crisis, he came out and said the economy was fundamentally sound. Then, two hours later, he said we were in a crisis.
I don't think we can afford that kind of erratic and uncertain leadership in these uncertain times. We need steady leadership in the White House. We need a president we can trust in times of crisis. And that's why I'm running for president of the United States of America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: Well, Obama says Senator McCain's plan to have the government buy up bad home loan mortgages and renegotiate their value would burden taxpayers, McCain charges it's the Democrats who bear a large part of the blame for the subprime mortgage meltdown.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm a realtor witnessing firsthand the effects this the mortgage crisis has had on many people's lives. Will you assure us that, as president, you will take immediate action to investigate, prosecute and name the names of the people actually responsible?
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I will. And it is already a matter of record that members -- Democrat members of Congress fought against reform. And it's a matter of record and hearings that they said everything was fine. Senator Obama, a year ago, said these kinds of subprime loans are "fine with him."
And the fact is that the same people that are now claiming credit for this rescue are the same ones that were willing co-conspirators in causing this problem that it is.
MCCAIN: And you know their names. And you will know more of their names -- Congressman Barney Frank and Senator Chris Dodd...
MCCAIN: ...are two of them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: Unemployment, a mortgage meltdown and a spiraling financial crisis -- some say we're to blame and the candidates are just too afraid to admit it.
Joining us to talk more about that, Republican consultant Alex Castellanos and Democratic strategist Jennifer Palmieri.
That charge comes from Rick Santorum. He says that borrowers are to share the blame for the mortgage crisis.
He said this. He said: "None of this financial collapse would have occurred, however, without the participation of one last group of bad actors -- a group so powerful that most politicians have avoided railing against it -- American borrowers."
Is that true, Alex, and are the politicians just too afraid to say it?
ALEX CASTELLANOS, REPUBLICAN CONSULTANT, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: You know I -- I don't think that blaming is the consumer is the way for Republicans to go here.
When somebody gives you poison candy, you don't blame the people who ate, you blame the people who make it and who sell it.
And there's plenty of blame to go around here for Wall Street and Washington for encouraging a system that a few days -- makes it easy for people to borrow more than they can afford. And for that encouraged banks to do the same and then said, hey, banks, you don't have to hold those bad loans, we'll put them on the -- we'll take them off your hands and securitize them. So no, I think that's a mistake for Republicans to do that.
ROBERTS: And Jennifer, what do you think of that statement? When people go for loans, if it sounds too good to be true it probably is. We're all taught that, yet a lot of people got into these loans. Do they bear any responsibility?
JENNIFER PALMIERI, FORMER WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: I think that, it's not as if Wall Street did what they did because their doors were being beaten down by homeowners and American consumers who demanded these loans. They did it because they thought that they could make money off of it.
So there is a lot of people responsible, but I find the idea that Senator McCain is trying to perpetuate that somehow, you know, two Democratic members of the House of Representatives who have only been in the majority for two years while George Bush who has been president for eight years and has been in charge of oversight of Wall Street and of our banking laws and that it's ridiculous.
ROBERTS: Well, what do you say to that, Alex? Because I mean, there's plenty of evidence here. And I talked to Barney Frank about this that back in the early part of this decade, he was suggesting that there didn't appear to be any kind of immediate problem at the very least with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
This was at a time when the White House was trying to institute some form of reform.
CASTELLANOS: Well, we've -- I work at an ad agency in Washington, and we do work for banks and I even worked for Freddie Mac. I've not ever done any lobbying but full disclosure there.
But one of the things -- this didn't start a couple of years ago, Jennifer. As you know, during the Clinton years they wanted to encourage homeownership. The tyranny of good intentions and with the best of intentions they lowered lending standards.
What happens? You created a system where banks were incentivized to make bad loans. They said look, we'll offput those loans, we'll put them somewhere where banks won't have to hold them. And they created this perverse system, with the best of intentions, and look where we are today.
You know, you can't distort. This is what happens when Washington and Wall Street get together to really inside ball, advantage themselves and ultimately consumers suffer.
ROBERTS: Jennifer, let me switch gears here if I could.
ROBERTS: There's a lot of talk in Democratic circles and among Democratic strategists of a potential landslide victory for Barack Obama at this point, maybe 320 to 340 electoral votes, depending on how the states break. Are some Democrats allowing themselves to get a little bit too cocky here? I mean, there's still a lot of time left in this campaign.
PALMIERI: No. Nobody I know is getting too cocky. If anything, I think that and I believe I complained on this show sometimes while I love my party, it's a lot of hand wringers in there that get very anxious.
It was only a few weeks ago where everybody was speculating that Senator Obama had somehow blown this and it was his to lose and McCain was going to run away with it. So people are -- it's obviously going well but they're very anxious. They would love for the election to be held tonight.
And I don't think that it will be a landslide. I don't know anyone in the Democratic Party who thinks it's going to be a landslide.
ROBERTS: What about from where you stand, Alex, when you look at these numbers and the polls and the battleground states and you see a lot of the tossup states leaning toward Barack Obama. A lot of states that were leaning John McCain or at least a couple of states that were leaning John McCain have gone into the tossup category. Is there the potential here for an Obama landslide?
CASTELLANOS: I think we all know this is a tough year for Republicans. A friend of mine was just telling me not long ago, in some years, you're the windshield, some years you're the bug. This is a tough year.
ROBERTS: Is this a bug year or windshield year?
CASTELLANOS: James Carville was saying the other day, wrap it up, this election is done. I think the process is almost self- correcting.
Democrats want to be careful about thinking like that because voters want their vote to have the highest possible value. And if they see in the next few weeks Democrats are saying this one is done, they'll begin to look what kind of president would Barack Obama be? A little buyer's remorse.
The second thing is my vote doesn't matter unless I vote against the prevailing trend here. So the highest and the most valuable use of my vote may be to correct that.
PALMIERI: Yes. I just have to agree with everything that Alex just said.
CASTELLANOS: I'm in Boston with the Red Sox fans, they know not to couch victories. ROBERTS: I was going to say that you and Jennifer agreeing, Alex, that in and of itself is remarkable. Thanks very much folks. We'll see you again real soon.
We want to go to the White House now because again President Bush is going to come out in the Rose Garden tomorrow to talk about the economy. Our Elaine Quijano was in the north lawn of the White House. How many times is this now, Elaine, in the last couple weeks that he's come out to talk to the American people?
ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you know, we were counting. Since September 15th, when we saw Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson in the briefing room talking about the financial picture in the wake of the Lehman Brothers' failure, we've counted something like 18 or 19 times that either on camera or in written statements President Bush has tried to come out and send a reassuring signal to the markets.
Tomorrow we are going to be seeing that once again. White House Press Secretary Dana Perino announcing this just minutes ago, saying that following the market's continued volatility this afternoon, President Bush is going to be speaking about this in the Rose Garden tomorrow morning. He's going to assure the American people, she says, that they should be confident that economic officials are aggressively taking every action to stabilize our financial system.
ROBERTS: Elaine Quijano for us with the latest on that. Elaine thanks so much.
Hillary Clinton imagines what the morning after Election Day could be like.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON, (D) NEW YORK: Kind of slow walk it. You know, you brush your teeth for ten minutes. You make really strong coffee.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: We'll show you what the new video, the former presidential candidate is sending to supporters contains. Its urging them to do everything they can to elect Barack Obama.
But tens of thousands of voters could be turned away illegally when they show up to vote in key swing states. It's a disturbing investigation that has got the White House rivals' attention.
You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ROBERTS: It's not just jobs that people are losing in this battered economy; they are also losing their homes. But an outraged sheriff in Cook County, Illinois says he will not be a part of the misery. Let's go to CNN's Susan Roesgen. Susan, some bankers are calling the sheriff a vigilante for what he's doing.
ROESGEN: Absolutely, they don't like it a bit. But the sheriff says it is his job to enforce the law and that means evicting people who don't pay their mortgage. But renters who do pay their rent are getting evicted when their landlords don't and the sheriff says enough is enough.
ALMA CRUZ, TENANT: I was four when we came into this apartment.
ROESGEN (voice-over): Alma Cruz and her family had no idea they could be kicked out of the apartment they've lived in for 20 years, but the guy who would force them out, the local Chicago area sheriff says he won't do it.
SHERIFF THOMAS DART COOK COUNTY, ILLINOIS: We have law-abiding people, great people of our community who are playing by the rules. And they're playing by the rules and then they show up and their stuff is out on the street. That's wrong.
ROESGEN: Foreclosures in the Chicago area have more than double in the last year and thousands have been evicted. But community activists say too many people who rent apartments never know they're being evicted until the day a deputy shows up at the door.
CRUZ: All of a sudden, we wake up and we have notices that we have to leave and you know, people telling us you have seven days.
ROESGEN: the sheriff blames landlords for not telling tenants that their buildings are being foreclosed. But the Illinois Bankers Association says whether they're notified or not, it's a law enforcer's duty to up hold the law and follow through with the evictions.
In fact, the bankers association accuses the sheriff of vigilantism at the highest level and they say it amounts to a declaration of martial law. But people who live in Cook County apartments are just grateful not to have to fear a deputy's knock on the door.
CRUZ: We're very grateful that he actually cares about residents in apartments that have no blame.
ROESGEN: And the sheriff says his main goal here is to make sure that the lenders give everybody notice before anybody is evicted -- John.
ROBERTS: Susan Roesgen. Susan thanks so much for that.
Let's hear more now from Sheriff Tom Dart himself. He joins us from Cook County, Illinois. Sheriff, why are you suspending these evictions?
DART: John, it became abundantly clear that people were being victimized at a rate that we had never seen before and it was wholly unacceptable on so many levels. But we are looking at a bare minimum for the banking industry to just step up to the plate and do what is right and notify these law-abiding citizens who once again, they're playing by all the rules, paying their bills on time. And because the bank does not want to do its due diligence to find out who's in the house, these poor people are thrown to streets.
ROBERTS: So these are people predominantly who are renting from a landlord who hasn't made mortgage payments. Have you stopped evictions against anyone who owns the home and has failed to make mortgage payments?
DART: No, right now we are stopping all evictions, all foreclosure evictions. If there's an apartment eviction where there's some leasers or there's a landlord and a tenant, those ones we're going ahead with. But foreclosures on homes are not because John, right now we have no idea when we go out there who's in the home.
It is reckless, it's beyond reckless for me to continue to do this when we have story after story piling up of people who are paying their landlord and the landlord takes off and these people are now finding themselves in a very, very difficult position at best; in some cases in homeless shelters.
ROBERTS: You know, when you look at the number of foreclosures in Cook County in the last decade, it mirrors pretty much what we're seeing across the country. In 1999, there were 12,935. In 2008, the estimates are that it will it be as high as 43,000. That's just a Cook County total foreclosures not evictions; as many as 43,000 by the end of this year. There are an awful lot of people who are hurting out there, sheriff.
DART: John, the thing that I've been trying to make clear to people, there's an 18-month lag between when a case starts and when it gets actually to the foreclosure hearing. We're looking at a snapshot of 18 months ago. So we're going to see a lot more of this coming up in the days and weeks to come.
We want to get out in front of this and we want to be able to sit there and say that we have rock solid procedures in place now so that when we're going out and traumatizing an entire family. Before we do that, we're going to be darn sure they have been notified about the proceedings and they are, in fact, in violation.
We can't do that right now. We're not going to be parties to this injustice just because the banks do not have their act together. They don't know who's in these buildings. They don't know who's in the house. But to them, it's another piece of paper and let's just move it on.
ROBERTS: I'm sure that there are a lot of people, sheriff, who are awfully happy with what you're doing. There are a number of people thought on the other side who are not happy. The Illinois Bankers Association, for one they say what you're engaging in is vigilantism at the highest level of elected officials. What do you say?
DART: What I would suggest to them is I would be guilty of the highest dereliction of my duty if I knew that I was party to taking innocent people and throwing them out on the streets because I'm trying to follow a bank's attempt to gain property back that they have done nothing to try to determine who's in the property. And victimizing people because at the end of the day, John, all I have been asking from them is do the proper due diligence.
Go out to the location, find out who's there get an affidavit, send it to the court you know who's there. I can move ahead with it.
They just want me to play the roulette game. Let's just hope that the right person is in that house. But if not, it's not a big deal, only a family of four that's had all of their possessions put out to the street who isn't independently wealthy who now all of a sudden have to find a new place to live within an hour or so and they hope that their possessions weren't taken and make that little move because they have all this money laying around.
ROBERTS: And Sheriff, it's not just the bankers association that were asking questions but Judge Dorothy Kinnard who heads up the Chancery Division there in Cook County wanted to ask you a few questions, as well.
We heard that she wanted to know why you're talking more to the media about this than are you to her and also, why you're shutting down all foreclosures when according to some estimates that we got from her office, only a third involve people who are renting from mortgage owners who are -- mortgage holders who are delinquent on their payments.
DART: Two things. One, I have met with Judge Kinnard as of hours ago and I had sent stuff to her office two days ago as well. She's also aware of the fact that I was being held in contempt of court for allegedly trying to help to put somebody out that was not supposed to be put out.
So she was aware that there was issues here, a, and b, she is working with me to try to come up with something and she's also aware of the fact that the people that I am suspending the evictions on are ones dealing with foreclosures and things that come on at foreclosures.
Where there's a landlord/tenant relationship, I'm going ahead with those still.
ROBERTS: Is she going to give you some leeway here on the ones you're concerned about?
DART: We gave her language that she is looking at now and we're very hopeful that she will be able to work with the different banking institutions and the collection agencies to come up with language that we're all comfortable with so we can move forward. I keep coming back to the fact that I'm not looking for a lot here. I'm looking for what they should be doing in the first place which is notifying the people in that house that they want thrown out, notify them that they're in jeopardy of being put out in the street.
ROBERTS: Last question here very quickly if you could. If those folks are notified and I think the notice has to be under the law 120 days, if they are properly notified, will you then execute an eviction?
DART: If I have been given the evidence through the court that the proper people are in the house, they have been notified so that they have their opportunity to appear in court and let the judge know they've been paying all the rent and the rest of it, then I will go ahead with the evictions.
ROBERTS: Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, good to talk to you. Thanks for being with us today sir.
DART: Great talking with you.
ROBERTS: Coming up, taking care of the president's health. It's all part of the job that never stops for the physician to the First Patient.
And waking up on November 5th, Hillary Clinton imagines what it would be like if the election is simply too close to call?
You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ROBERTS: Well, pretty much everyone knows that a military aide goes everywhere with the President carrying the so-called football, a briefcase containing nuclear codes. What you might not know though is that there's also a doctor with the president all the time.
CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta is not that doctor. But he is here now to explain more about that.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: It does sound like a pretty neat job. It is remarkable the lengths they'll go through to keep the president both health and safe; a cooler of blood for example, with the president's blood type, hospitals put on notice. And as you mentioned, a doctor for the president every hour of the day everywhere he goes.
GUPTA (voice-over): They're on the helicopter, in the decoy limousine, on Air Force I, especially equipped for medical emergencies.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have an operating room table that can be brought out and placed in the center of the room.
GUPTA: At events, White House doctors stay close, but not too close.
Connie Mariano was President Clinton's doctor for eight years.
CONNIE MARIANO, FORMER PHYSICIAN TO PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: You try to stay out of what we call the kill zone which is the immediate five or six feet radius around the president. One thing I used to teach the White House doctors is you can't treat the president if you are dead.
GUPTA: White House doctors also handle day-to-day medicine; a touchy job when the patient is the president.
MARIANO: He was nauseous, points to a glass of water and says, I am drinking water, and I said that is not enough. You really need soup and to rest and go home. It's actually the only job in America where a physician is with the patient 24 hours a day.
GUPTA: Dr. Jay Burton Lee was with President Bush, the first one, when he collapsed at a state dinner Japan.
JAY BURTON LEE, FORMER PRESIDENT TO PRESIDENT GEORGE H.W. BUSH: He had been not feeling well going into that dinner and I said, I think we ought to cancel this thing and he said I can't. This is the dinner with the Prime Minister.
This was pandemonium, and I got down on my hands and knees, and went through people's legs until I got on top of him.
GUPTA: Even with round-the-clock care, presidents have had serious illness that escaped detection. President George Herbert Walker had hyperthyroidism causing him to collapse while jogging at Camp David. And Bill Clinton had heart disease that required emergency bypass surgery three years after he left office proving even the best health care only goes so far.
GUPTA: You know, they even parked the carrier ones off the coast of Bali in Granada for President Reagan when he was president; a complete aircraft carrier to give you an idea of this. There is a White House office John, that's right in the bottom floor of the residence. And the first thing that the president sees when he comes down the elevator is the White House doctor in the White House office. They sort of give him the once over everyday; oftentimes just a thumb's up, thumb's down, something.
ROBERTS: How are you feeling today?
GUPTA: Yes, sometimes that's as simple as it is, but every single day, it happens.
ROBERTS: And here is another little secret as well, because I used to be a member of the White House Press Corps. When we would travel overseas, if any member of the White House Press Corps felt sick we go see Dr. Tubbs who's the President's current doctor. And he was always generous enough to help us out. GUPTA: Yes and it was interesting. The White House medical office made a point, I went and visited with them, they said they take care of the entire First Family as well. And anybody who might have an impact on the president or the way the president is feeling that day. So they are pretty good about all the White House staff it seems.
ROBERTS: Sanjay, fascinating piece. We are looking forward to more on this as well.
For more on the presidential health and the health of the candidates tune into "Fit to Lead" with our own Dr. Sanjay Gupta; this Saturday and Sunday at 8:00 and 11:00 p.m. Eastern; a fascinating look at the health of the president and the presidential candidates.
Hillary Clinton speculates about election night scenario with the outcome "too close to call." It is a new video that she sent out the supporters.
Abbi, we don't want to hear this. What is she saying?
ABBI TATTON, INTERNET REPORTER: John, she's saying think about the morning after, imagine that you went to bed the night before with the results still up in the air.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: So you kind of slow walk it. You know, you brush your teeth for ten minutes, and you make really strong coffee, and then finally, you work up the courage to log on or turn on or call somebody. You say, what happened? Think how you will feel if the answer is we fell short. Exactly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TATTON: That video is from a speech Monday sent around by her political action committee to supporters by email urging her supporters to do everything they can to elect Barack Obama -- John.
ROBERTS: Well, you know, everybody remembers back in 2000 when it took 34 days to decide who was President of the United States, and there are some scenarios, Abbi, under which this could be a tie.
TATTON: Yes, 269 electoral college vote tie and that is the one to watch.
ROBERTS: Let's hope it is not from your lips to God's ears. Abbi thanks so much for that.
Many McCain supporters are angry and they are speaking out against Barack Obama, the news media and more. We are with them on the campaign trail.
Plus allegations of massive registration fraud rocking the vote in one state. Lou Dobbs weighs in. He's standing by to join us live.
ROBERTS: Stunning allegations of massive voter registration fraud just 26 days before Election Day. Lou Dobbs has been keeping an eye on all of this and he will be talking about it tonight. What is it all about, Lou?
LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: Well, one of the allegations most recently in Indiana are going out to Vegas, Ohio; I mean we've got all sorts of allegations against this group which is A.C.O.R.N. and it is association with Barack Obama over the years bringing it to an even higher level. But signing up the Dallas Cowboys and out in Vegas, and signing up dead people. We are seeing really massive charges of massive voter fraud and it is going to raise a lot of questions. This is going to be an issue on Election Day without a question.
ROBERTS: You mentioned Barack Obama. He obviously was very familiar with A.C.O.R.N. from his days as a community organizer. But is there any evidence here of a connection between what A.C.O.R.N. is doing now and the Barack Obama campaign?
DOBBS: Absolutely not. But that's the reason it's elevated in part because of the past association; the community organizer nonsense. This is an organization of community activists who are left-wing without question and are hell-bent on having an impact on registration and the outcome and accused of even signing up illegal aliens.
ROBERTS: You'll be talking a lot more about this?
DOBBS: Oh, we're going to be talking about it and reporting on it thoroughly.
Looking forward to that. "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT" -- just one hour from now. Lou, thanks very much.
DOBBS: Thanks, John.