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Dinner Table Talk; Staying Afloat Financially; Young Voters; Voter Fraud Concerns; GM Too Big To Fail; Politics of Laughter

Aired October 10, 2008 - 12:00   ET


TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR, CNN NEWSROOM: Financial crisis headlines start the hour. Hello, everyone. I'm Tony Harris in the CNN NEWSROOM.
Blue chips , the New York Stock Exchange, right now, down 397 points. The Dow was actually falling at a clip of 100 points a minute at today's open. The index plunged almost -- are you ready for this -- 700 points. Smashing below a 1,000; then just a remarkable turnaround and cheers from traders.




HARRIS: Dow stocks actually climbed into positive territory, but the rally just did not hold. President Bush tried once again today to calm the markets. He says his rescue plan will work, but it will take time for the gears to start turning.

For the first time the president suggested the U.S. government might buy up shares of banks.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Here's what the American people need to know. That the United States government is acting. We will continue to act to resolve this crisis and restore stability to our markets. We are a prosperous nation with immense resources and a wide range of tools at our disposal. We're using these tools aggressively.


HARRIS: Alan Greenspan coined a phrase, "irrational exuberance". Today, some say we have the flipside, irrational despair. Let's talk to the CNN Money team. Ali Velshi is at the New York business desk, Susan Lisovicz at the New York Stock Exchange.

Here's what I'd like to do, Susan, I want you to give us your reading on the markets there at the New York Stock Exchange.

Ali, I want you to jump in with some analysis here. And then the both of you talk to one another, so I can do what America needs to do right now, which is listen to really smart people.

Susan, you start.

SUSAN LISOVICZ, CNN FINANCIAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, what we've been seeing is something extraordinary happen in a compressed period of time. "The Wall Street Journal" calls it a slow motion crash. What we've seen over the last week. Seven days, historic amount of selling for the Dow Jones industrials, the worse ever. That selling did not end at the closing bell on Thursday. We were down, as you pointed out just moments ago, Tony, the Dow quickly plunged nearly 700 points only to rally back very quickly.

And that's what's prompted that cheer, because this is agonizing. These kind of sell-offs, are we close to a bottom? We must be close to a bottom. We are seeing stocks that are so cheap everything is getting thrown out, the baby, the bathwater, everything. Not only financial stocks. I think what you saw then, when the market rallied back, it could not hold it, but what are you seeing is something that is bullish, that is people are coming in. They are buying. And they're testing. They're testing. So that's -- a sign.

ALI VELSHI, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Susan, just to let viewers know when we talk about a bottom, a bottom not a one-day event, a bottom is not something you hit and then the market starts going up. You can meander around that area in a range for months and weeks sometimes. But it's the idea that stocks are now becoming affordable to people by virtue of - it's kind of like the housing crisis, right? Home prices come down. And all of a sudden you started to see in some places, California, Nevada, Florida, people getting in, buying houses because they think there has to be a deal at some point. I know the economy's bad, but I've got money and this is a deal. That's what some people are saying about the stock market.

HARRIS: Let me ask you something. At what point do we -- I don't want to sound a patriotic bell, here, but I know I'm going in that territory here. But at some point, when do we as Americans say, you know, enough is enough of this?


HARRIS: We're talking about really good companies here that are tremendously undervalued. There are deals here. Let me grab $100. Let me grab $200 from somewhere.

LISOVICZ: That is exactly what Warren Buffett was doing. They call it patriotic capitalism.

HARRIS: Oh, really?

LISOVICZ: He drove a very good price, I might add, but when he bought Goldman-Sachs and GE, those were a very sensitive times. These were in the last couple weeks. Where there's a lot of fear and despair, irrational, perhaps. And he swept in at very sensitive times and, well, there are signs that some people are starting to take note.

VELSHI: And this market's down 40 percent from a year ago yesterday, Tony. So the point is, if you were rational the whole time and you are down 40 percent today is not the day to become irrational about it. We might as well sit there and think about our opportunities.


VELSHI: Some of it might be patriotism, some of it might be doing yourself a big favor. Again, you don't be irrational about getting into the market the same way you might have been irrational about getting out.

If you had $50,000 all of a sudden you want to invest, because you think maybe we're approaching a bottom, let me tell you, you don't get an e-mail, you don't get a press release to tell you're at the bottom. People should go into the market gradually the way they come out of it gradually. That's something important to think about. Don't go throw all your eggs in any basket.

HARRIS: You know, I have any time, but I really want to understand why these banks are not lending. The federal government is essentially saying I will guarantee the money that you loan to folks. And still we're seeing this tremendous bottleneck, but I'm out of time.

VELSHI: We'll talk later.

HARRIS: Maybe we'll talk about it a little later in the hour. OK, Susan, appreciate it. Ali, as well. Thank you.

The financial crisis, front and center on the campaign trail today. John McCain saying change in Washington is crucial to dealing with the financial turmoil. And Barack Obama calling for the country to come together to solve the crisis.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is not the time for ideology. This is a time for common sense and a politics of pragmatism. The test of an idea must not be whether it's liberal, or conservative, whether it's Republican or Democrat. The test should be whether it works for the people of Chillicothe, the people of Ohio and the American people. That should be the test.


JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: In so many ways Washington is still on the wrong track. We need change. We need change and I know how to deliver it. The status quo -- status quo's not on the ballot. We're going see change in Washington. The question is, in which direction will it go?


HARRIS: So with 25 days - can you imagine that, 25 days until the election? -- the economy continues to dominate the presidential campaign. What does that mean for these candidates? There she is. Jessica Yellin, part of the best political team on television live for us from Washington.

Jessica, good to see you. What message are these two trying to bring home, drive home, drill down on, particularly on this economy?

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Tony, both of them, as you heard there in those sound bytes, are calling for change, and the economic environment adds urgency to that call in context.

It's clear to everyone what they want with change. Why the change is needed in voters' views. Both men, today, have proposed a new economic policy. Not a big umbrella plan, but a piece to help folks. Barack Obama unveiled today a call for small business reform, to freeze (sic) up money to make it easier for the Small Business Administration to lend directly to small businesses that are struggling, and also create some tax cuts.

John McCain is talking about helping people with their 401(k)s, so that anybody who is now forced by the law to sell at the age of 70, doesn't have to sell in this bad economic environment. So they are really trying to targeting specific people who are struggling at this time. The economy is the issue from here through the election.

HARRIS: I was listening to the John McCain event in Lacrosse, Wisconsin last hour, and most of the conversation seemed directed at issue number one. There didn't seem to be a lot of the back and forth, the personal attacks, that we've heard in recent days on the campaign. Has there been much focus in the last couple of days on some of those character issues?

YELLIN: Yes. While you hear McCain talking, as you say correctly, about the economy on the stump, his campaign has released a new ad today.

HARRIS: I see.

YELLIN: That takes square aim at Barack Obama and you know what they keep calling his sort of unsavory associations, focusing on this guy, Bill Ayers, that you know, is not that well known. Well, now he's well known around the country.

HARRIS: Yes, yes, yes.

YELLIN: What they're trying to do in a broad sense is question Obama's leadership abilities. And it's a bit of a controversial move, because what voters are really talking about -- when I'm out there, I talk to people. They ask at a McCain and Obama event, what are they going to do for me in the pocketbook? It is a tough struggle for McCain right now on that issue.

HARRIS: And in the ads more than it is coming out of the mouth of John McCain these days. Isn't it?

YELLIN: Yes, but it is also coming out of -- from his surrogates and from Sarah Palin, Governor Palin.

HARRIS: I see.

YELLIN: You know it is a common tactic. You don't have the principle person make the harshest attacks.

HARRIS: Right. Jessica Yellin for us out of Washington. Jessica, good to see you. Thank you.

You know, thousands of bogus voter registration forms, election officials in Indiana looking into possible fraud here. Our CNN special investigation's unit is on the story.

And check out our political ticker for all the latest campaign news. Log on to Your source for all things political.

We've also heard the phrase what's good for GM is good for America. You have certainly heard that. Right now, things at GM, not good.


HARRIS: Boy, just want to give you a look at what is happening around the world now, with this financial crisis. The trading floor there, in London. Britain's FTSE dropped more than, what, 7 percent, closing at a five-year low. HBO, that is United Kingdom's largest mortgage lender, fell 18 percent. Royal Bank of Scotland, Britain's third largest bank, fell what, 18 percent? Barclays Bank, Britain's second largest loss, 15 percent. Man, oh, man.

And how about this? An iconic American brand is on the skids and could possibly crash. General Motors stock tumbling to its lowest level in 58 years. We've been watching this. General Motors stock, at one point today, trading at over $5 a share - $5 a share? - at one point. We're talking about GM here. The company worth less in today's dollars than it was in 1929. The bottom line, you can't sell cars if customers can't get financing. CNN's Brooke Baldwin is at a GM plant in Warren, Michigan.

Brooke, I know, you've been talking to folks on the line there. Plant workers, what are they telling you?

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Tony, they're telling me they're fearful. They are nervous. We talked to a couple guys this morning as they were heading into their shift at 6:00 a.m. I think this front page here, this headline really sort of sums up their thoughts. This is "The Detroit News" it says "Auto Fears Grow. Why? I think you summed it up pretty well.

Think about it. This area, again, you said we're in Warren, Michigan, we are just a couple miles outside of Detroit. Detroit is referred to as the Motor City for certainly a reason. Tens of thousands of people here rely on the Big Three, GM, Ford, Chrysler, for their work. For their financial bread and butter, if you will. So this news from Wall Street, very much so affecting us here in the heart of America.

I mentioned we talked to a couple of workers. Lifer who have been working with General Motors since their teenage years, they are here decades later. I was asking one of these guys who has been with GM for 29 years. Can you imagine? He is only hoping to celebrate his 30th anniversary next year. I asked about the atmosphere inside the plant, beyond these gates. He told me in a word, it is very "tough".


DARYL DAVIS, EMPLOYEE, GENERAL MOTORS: Tense, you know, but people just go on about their business. You know, just to maintain. You know, but you hear people whispering or you hear people, not doing as much, planning. You don't have people saying they're going here, or going there, as much. People mostly staying at home and counting their pennies.

RICK BROWN, EMPLOYEE, GENERAL MOTORS: What we're going to do is tie a knot in the end of the rope and hang on. You know, it's going to come back. And this happens. They go in different cycles for years. They'll be doing really good and then do bad, but I think we'll be all right. I think we'll come back.


BALDWIN: You just heard, some people are trying to be positive, trying to heed the news not to panic. A couple people also fearful of the B word, B word being bankruptcy. General Motors did come out this morning, they said bankruptcy is not an option.

Tony, as I mentioned, thousands of people, families, friends, children, all hoping that the automotive industry doesn't hit the brakes anytime soon.

HARRIS: All right, Brook Baldwin for us in Warren, Michigan, outside of that GM plant. Brooke, appreciate it. Thank you.

You know, all of us want to know on some level what led us to this point? What caused this credit crisis? Easy money, certainly, but human nature also playing a big part in this mess. Here's CNN's Miles O'Brien.


MILES O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Feel a little like a lemming these days? Well, you're not alone. Listen up, fellow lemmings, the free fall isn't over, yet.

TED WEISBERG, PRESIDENT, SEAPORT SECURITIES: People are running on emotion, and there's a tendency to basically throw the baby out with the bath water.

O'BRIEN: But the stampede down Wall Street began rumbling years ago on Main Street. We might have seen it, if we bothered to look. Houses became ATMs and we used them to fill our McMansions with big stuff.

RICHARD THALER, BEHAVIORAL ECONOMIST: That's risky and it can be fun while it last, but it's a pretty hard fall. O'BRIEN: No kidding. That is behavioral economist Richard Thaler, who spends a lot of time trying to get inside our heads. His latest book is called "Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth and Happiness".

THALER: We have that tendency to follow what other people are doing and we apply it even when the herd we're following is jumping off the cliff.

O'BRIEN (voice over): But the herd mentality isn't always bad. Let's say you are in a strange city. You are hungry for lunch. You don't know where to go. What do you do? You find a restaurant like this one with a big, long line. Surely these locals know something about this place. It's a good meal, right?



O'BRIEN: Really what I should be ordering is the chicken Caesar salad. I'm trying to watch the calorie intake a little bit. Economists call that a cold state decision, cold and calculated. But when you get in the here, I wish you could take a whiff, smells great. And look at those fries. Temptation.

THALER: This has become a more tempting society. Easy credit, you know, when you get a new credit card solicitation every week.

O'BRIEN: So while this is the mail of my cold state intentions, inevitably, this is what happens to me. I take one whiff, one look, and I get the cheese fries and the milkshake. Economists say decisions like that are made in a hot state, and if you're making financial decisions that way, you're in for trouble.

THALER: Everybody knows we don't make great decisions when we're aroused, and people can get financially aroused.

O'BRIEN (voice over): And suddenly we're running towards the cliff. But here's something you may not know. Lemmings don't really do this. It's a myth made popular by this Disney documentary. Too bad we can't say the same about us. Miles O'Brien, CNN, San Francisco.


HARRIS: Keep your eye there. Minute to minute, it really changes, doesn't it? Moment to moment, the Dow industrial shares, Dow industrial stocks here, are down 321 points. We'll continue to follow these numbers throughout the day and try to put that number into real context for you.

You know, Ohio could hold the key to who wins the presidency. What will it take to win the vote there?


HARRIS: Are financial fears seemingly shaping voters' choice for president less than a month before the election? Both presidential candidates trying to win over middle-class voters caught in the crisis. Barack Obama taking his message to the Ohio town of Chillicothe today. Our Mary Snow is there talking to voters.

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's a small Ohio town that has been called America's bellwether. The thinking goes the way Chillicothe votes, Ohio votes, and so does the country.

ANNOUNCER: WBEX, Chillicothe

SNOW: But with less than a month ago until the election it's concern about the markets and the economy that dominate the airwaves at the town's radio station.

DAN RAMEY, RADIO HOST, WBEX-AM: The only other people that experienced what we're experiencing now are our grandparents or our great-grandparents.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can remember my mom --

SNOW: And at Carl's townhouse the outlook among the breakfast crowd was dim.

MIKE MILBURN, CHILLICOTHE, OHIO RESIDENT: I think the money they just passed in Congress? Just postponing what's going to happen in the future, which I think is going to be another depression.

SNOW: Mike Milburn says he lives paycheck to paycheck to support his four kids. For Dan Degarmo it is the same. His fourth child is due soon.

DAN DEGARMO, CHILLICOTHE, OHIO RESIDENT: I don't see how either of those candidates offer any solid solutions that give Americans comfort.

SNOW: Both are registered Republicans. Mike says he might not vote at all. Dan says he'll vote for McCain. Jeff Ragland is a cement worker who already knows he's voting for Obama .

JEFF RAGLAND, CHILLICOTHE, OHIO RESIDENT: I feel that he's more for the people, that are people like me.

SNOW: And it's people like Theresa Hall that both candidates want to target. She is an independent who remains undecided.

THERESA HALL, CHILLICOTHE, OHIO RESIDENT: It is like when you watch them it just seems like they're pretty much just at each other, you know. He says this, and he says that.

SNOW: Along Chillicothe's Main Street there are reminders that this is a once-booming industrial town that has seen better days. Team Obama is trying to make inroads among the population of 22,000 that went for George Bush in the last two elections.

Down the block, team McCain is working to get the county red. Right now the people say the town is divided and so are predictions from two Republicans.

RAMEY: This community seems to just be enough Republican to help that pan out.

SNOW (On camera): Is that going to be the case this time?

RAMEY: My gut feeling? Yes.

DEGARMO: Honestly, I think Obama is going to win it.


HARRIS: And Mary Snow joining us live now from Chillicothe, Ohio. And we heard there, Mary, what people are saying about this campaign. I'm curious, did you get a sense of just how nervous, frightened, maybe even scared, people there in Chillicothe are? Particularly about this economy?

SNOW: Yes. I was asking people this morning, Tony, on a scale of one to 10, how would you rank it? It was ranking either nine or 10. This is a working class town, 2,200 people. People here are worried about their small businesses, mortgages on their homes. Outside of here is a rural area. They are worried about keeping their farms going. And you hear a number of people tell you that they have taken their money out of stock investments recently and put it into cash.

In terms of what to expect, people are somewhat divided, though, on their confidence level that any kind of government action can really help. Some say they don't think so at all. This is just the thing we have to wait out. Others think that, yes, there is help that the government will provide, all the steps the Treasury Department has taken will eventually pan out. But overall, they seem to be very scared.

HARRIS: All right. Mary Snow in Chillicothe, Ohio. Having worked in Ohio for nine years, that is - I can tell you -- one terrific small town there in Ohio.

Mary, appreciate it. Thank you.

Families coping with the money crisis.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can't let it stress me out. I got to believe in myself and my ability to come back.

HARRIS: Hear how Wayne Johnson is dealing with these hard times.


HARRIS: All right. Another look at Big Board now, the Dow component stocks again taking a bit of a beating today. Boy, can we get to the close at 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time? Boy, the Dow down 329 points, as you can see. So far another down day in what has been a very, very difficult week for investors, for traders, for everyone with an eye on the stock market.

We will continue to follow these numbers throughout the day with our Money team right here in the CNN NEWSROOM." You know, earlier, last hour, we talked to the Johnson family at their dinner table and we talked about their financial struggles, a mortgage that keeps rising, less work coming in, as their debt keeps piling up. It is a problem millions of people have. So, how are they handling it? And do they think the bailout Congress passed is the solution?

Check it out.


HARRIS: How much stress are you feeling?

WAYNE JOHNSON, DEEP IN DEBT: Well, it's kind of stressful, you know, but I can't let it stress me out. I've got to believe in myself and my ability to come back.

HARRIS: You do?

W. JOHNSON: : You know, if I've got breath in my body, I'm able to get something done as a family man.

HARRIS: Well, Sandy, how about the stress you feel?

SANDY JOHNSON, DEEP IN DEBT: I feel a whole -- I mean can't even describe the number, the measure of stress that I feel. I mean sometimes -- I'm trying not to cry now. I mean . . .

HARRIS: It gets that emotional for you?

S. JOHNSON: Yes, because, I mean, it's like not being able to sleep at night. And I believe and I have faith. But when you really look at it and face the reality, bills have got to be paid. And, you know, so my -- and it's just so stressful. And, you know, I'm 41. Never had to take high blood pressure pills. I am now on (INAUDIBLE).

W. JOHNSON: : Financially, there is no way out. When you're looking at $30,000 and $40,000 in debt and your income is going down, kids are growing up. They need more things, like tuition fees for school. Got a brother who's basically sick. OK. Financially, there is just no way out.

I understand that there was some people that went into these loans that know they couldn't afford them. I understand that. And there were even people that went in and bought these houses thinking that they were going to flip them. I understand that. But then you have people like us that went in, that really wanted to pay. And we still want to pay.

S. JOHNSON: We're not behind on our mortgage, period. And it's like, they should have looked at our history from '05 up until now to see that we paid on time.

HARRIS: Everyone's talking about the $700 billion -- billion dollar rescue plan. Do you think it will help you? W. JOHNSON: I feel like it's going to help the ones that got us into this mess.

HARRIS: The fat cats?


HARRIS: The Wall Streeters.

W. JOHNSON: Yes. And the weight it falling on the taxpayer that's already burdened with a mortgage crisis, gas is going high, medical bills, insurance. And we feel that if we can work and pay our bills, then at that point, the government ought or the leaders of this country ought to be able to back us up and help us out on their end.

HARRIS: What do you need right now to keep it afloat?

W. JOHNSON: What we need is the government to forgive some of this debt that really shouldn't be there in the first place that gets -- because of high interest rates, because of loans you can't pay, because of everything is going up when your income is going down.

HARRIS: And you only get paid for the trips you take -- less, OK, maybe?

W. JOHNSON: That might be them now.

Hello. Yes.

S. JOHNSON: But, you know, so it's just . . .

W. JOHNSON: Hey, Sam. How you doing?

S. JOHNSON: Just a job.

W. JOHNSON: Yes, I'm getting ready to leave here in about another five minutes. So I can be up behind the truck in about 45 minutes. All right. Bye-bye.

HARRIS: What's happening?

W. JOHNSON: I get a load tonight.

HARRIS: You're going to work?


HARRIS: All right, baby (ph).


HARRIS: Let's break this.


HARRIS: Great story. I'll be spending more time with more of these families, with more of these dinners in the next few weeks. And we'll bring you more of those reports.

You know, we're hearing from so many who went from middle class to barely making it. Personal finance editor Gerri Willis joins me now to talk about some solutions.

So, Gerri, great to see you again.


HARRIS: Hey, let's do this. Let's review what the Johnson family is going through right now and sort of bottom line some issues here. Let's start with the Johnson family being $50,000 in debt.


HARRIS: Wow. Not including their mortgage. They have an adjustable rate mortgage that has now risen to a whopping 11.5 percent. The repo man took Sandy's truck just yesterday. Work's been cut. Her clients have said they just can't see paying for house cleaning right now. And most hurtful to Sandy is that her daughter's college education is essentially on hold right now.

A couple of questions here, Gerri. What can the Johnson's do, if anything, to climb out of this hole?

WILLIS: Well, let's try to find a way out here for Sandy and Wayne. That's what they were talking about. There's no way out, they said. I think there may be a way out.

OK. Let's take the biggest problems first. In Georgia, which I believe is where they live, you guys have a very short foreclosure process. So they could find themselves, if they can't make that mortgage, they're going to find themselves out of that house really quickly because the laws there just work that way.

So here's what I think they should do. A great idea. Congress passed a $300 billion bill to help homeowners. And what happens is the lender writes down the mortgage value. You have to get them to agree do this, but there is a program out there, it's run by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, FHA, the Federal Housing Administration. A couple of ways to contact. Go to on the web or you can also call the Hope help line at 888-995-HOPE.

Now you could be a part of that bill. You could be a part of that solution. This would help -- they can't continue paying this 11 plus percent. That's just not workable. Got to get that mortgage down.

Now if that isn't working, they've got to get a new loan. Some loan where they're not paying that percentage increase or that percent interest rate on the mortgage. It's just -- it's too much.

Now the other big problem that they have, of course, is a $50,000 in debt. This is a very big problem and much more difficult to solve. I think they really need a credit counselor here to get all of these problems taken careful. It may be that they need to file bankruptcy. I'd hate to see that. I'd like to see them bail out of this on their own. But a great place to go to get some help with credit counseling, The credit counselors will help you figure out what to pay first.

Now my guess is, they probably have the bill for the truck, right?

HARRIS: Sure. Sure.

WILLIS: And probably a lot of credit cards.

HARRIS: Some credit card debt, sure. Yes.

WILLIS: So, you know, as a practical matter, I would try to start paying off that credit card debt. Maybe get a lower rate card, roll over the debt to a low-rate card so the interest rate isn't kicking up all the time. That would be a great thing to do.

HARRIS: All right. And, Gerri, one other -- maybe one other quick thought here. Can you offer a couple of tips so other families can avoid these same pitfalls?

WILLIS: Right. Well, OK, it's all about debt, right? I mean that's why we're in this crisis in the first place is because people are borrowing for things that maybe they could have paid for up front. And here I'm talking mostly about credit card debt.

You know, you've got to start paying ahead of time instead of deciding that you're going to finance everything and pay that interest rate. It's not worth it. You've got to live within your mean. Understand the terms of the loans that you do get, if you get a mortgage loan.

The good news here, I have to tell you, is that lenders are no longer writing the kinds of crazy loans that this couple saw.

HARRIS: That's right.

WILLIS: So you're not even going to see that in the marketplace. But just again to this family, I just want to say, because, you know, your heart just goes out to them because that's a tough situation emotionally to be in. I know they're trying to fight back. They need to take faith. They need to get some personal help. And that will ease their sort of emotional burden.

Another thing that they might think about, maybe Sandy should think about getting a full-time job, giving up the business or scaling the business back. She probably needs some health benefits. May not have them. And, of course, everybody's got to cut down on those extra expenses, you know. All of those kinds of things will eventually get them, you know, headed in the right direction.

HARRIS: That's so good. That is so good, so good.

Gerri, as always, so appreciate the tips and the advice.

WILLIS: My pleasure. My best to them. My best to them. I hope everything works out well for them.

HARRIS: We'll keep or tabs on them and reach out to them and find out how thing are going.

Gerri, appreciate it. Thank you.

WILLIS: My pleasure.

HARRIS: OK. We are going to turn our attention back to politics in a moment. Thousands of new voters are being registered ahead of this election. Is one of the biggest campaigns to gather names resorting to fraud?


HARRIS: Talk and fear of recession and depression. How is this economic crisis influencing young voters? Veronica De La Cruz has a closer look at what she has found on the web.

I hope, Veronica, that folks -- these young people are fired up, registered to vote and ready to put their stamp on this election.

VERONICA DE LA CRUZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, they are, Tony, but they are also really worried about the economy. We want to go ahead and turn the spotlight on an article on

And I want to introduce you, Tony, to a 25-year-old who has this to say. Her name is Shanika Ross. She lives in Atlanta. She's a nurse, Tony, but she's having trouble finding a job in the nursing industry. So instead, she says that she's struggling to make ends meet by working at a Red Lobster.

Tony, she is a young mother. She has three kids. She says that she's had to sell furniture, mementos and clothes to pay her rent. And when asked about the election, she has this to say.

She says, "we are all three steps away from being on the street. It doesn't matter who gets into office. We don't win."

And then, Tony, without even being asked about the D word, depression, she said she worries the U.S. is heading towards an economic depression. So Eric Greenberg, author of "Generation We: How Millennial Youth Are Taking Over America and Changing our World Forever," spoke to CNN earlier. And take a listen as he talked about what he thinks is on the minds of young voters. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ERIC GREENBERG, AUTHOR, "GENERATION WE": I think that they're very sober about their future and they don't really know what is it entails for them. So their whole issue is the iconic notion of change. It's not about candidates.

But they do know one thing. If you look at the under 30 set, they were 22 -- the oldest of them was 22 years old when Bush took office, or the current Republican Party, you know, had complete control of Congress and the White House. What they've seen is a war and now they're inheriting the worst economy that we've had in the last, you know, sixty years by everybody's estimations.

So, for them, change is iconic. It's not necessarily about the candidates or the parties, because, you know, we showed in our polling that over hall of them were basically independents.


DE LA CRUZ: But regardless of whether young voters are registered, Democrat, Republican, independent, this article in The Tufts Daily online quotes a Rock the Vote poll saying the economy is the top issue for 41 percent of voters ages 18 to 29 with issues like education, the affordability of a college degree and the future job market all weighing heavily on their minds, Tony.

Also wanted to remind you up there, this might be the first time a lot of young people, maybe a lot of you, are voting for the first time. We've created this great online forum. It is called The League of First-time Voters. And, Tony, you can find it by logging on to

HARRIS: All right. Good stuff. Appreciate it. Have a great weekend, Veronica. See you next week.

DE LA CRUZ: You too.

HARRIS: Election officials in several states investigating possible voter fraud by a community organizing group. Drew Griffin, with the CNN Special Investigations Unit, reports on the problems uncovered in just one state -- Indiana.


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT, (voice over): There are 5,000 of them.





GRIFFIN: And these.

HOAGLAND: They are new voter registration applications turned in by the community organizing group ACORN, which has launched a massive voter registration drive. And with 5,000 applications in this one county dumped on just before the October 6th deadline, it looked to elections board administrator Ruth Ann Hogan like ACORN was extremely successful, until her workers began finding problems.

A lot of them?

HOAGLAND: 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 are bad?

HOAGLAND: Roughly half. Correct.

GRIFFIN: Registered to a dead person. Registered as a person who lives at a fast food shop?


GRIFFIN: Or just all of them amazingly in the same hand?

HOAGLAND: Yes. Yes. All the signatures look exactly the same. Everything on the card 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: It's not that some are bad. Once they started going through them, every one they looked at was bad. Hoagland decided to stop the review altogether, work on other apparently legitimate registrations and get back to the other half what she now calls the fake pile later.

HOAGLAND: It's frustrating. It's very frustrating.

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. There he is.

Is there anybody here that's actually named Jimmy Johns? Nobody registered to vote here named Jimmy Johns?

This could really -- I mean there's been no fraud yet because people haven't voted yet, right?

HOAGLAND: Correct. We'll find out on Election Day.

GRIFFIN: But it certainly sets up a potential?

HOAGLAND: The potential, I suppose, is always there. It's just that the volume. The volume is just incredible.

GRIFFIN: The elections board is run by both Republicans and Democrats. Is fraud, says the Democrat director, Sally La Societa (ph).

SALLY LA SOCIETA: Well, if you look, it's the same signature for all three voters. It's as though the one individual tried to -- did three separate applications but put -- you know, you can tell the signature. We're not handwriting experts, but what's obvious is obvious.

GRIFFIN: ACORN's voter registration drives are under investigation or suspicion in several states. Just yesterday, local authorities raided this ACORN office in Las Vegas, where ACORN workers allegedly registered members of the Dallas Cowboys football team. Over the last four years, a dozen states investigated complained of fraudulent registrations filed by ACORN And complaints of fraud by ACORN have exploded nationwide in just the last few weeks.

We tried to contact the ACORN director in Gary, Indiana. But when the phone messages went unanswered, we went to the office. It's abandoned. ACORN told us the state director for Indiana ACORN is actually based in this office in Milwaukee. But today we found it empty, too.

ACORN's attorney in Boston told us allegations his organization has committed fraud is a government attempt to keep the disenfranchised from voting.

BRIAN MELLOR, SR. COUNSEL, ACORN VOTE PROJECT: We believe their purpose is to attack ACORN and the press vote. We think that by attacking ACORN, that they are going to discourage people who may have registered with ACORN from voting.

GRIFFIN: Brian Mellor says ACORN has its own quality control, has fired workers in the past, including workers in Gary. Despite its past, the Obama campaign gave $800,000 to ACORN to help fund its primary registration drive and ACORN has endorsed Barack Obama for president. The Obama campaign reacted this afternoon saying it "is committed to protecting the integrity of the voting process" and said it has not worked with ACORN during this general election.

Drew Griffin, CNN, Crown Point, Indiana.


HARRIS: And more information now on ACORN. The name stands for the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. On its web site, the group describes itself as a grass roots community organization of low and moderate income people. It boasts 400,000 member families and chapters in 110 cities. The group says it has helped more than 1.7 million people register to vote since 2004.

Can America's auto industry be saved? I will talk to someone who has been watching it very closely.


HARRIS: The big board now. The New York Stock Exchange. Take a look at this. Difficult day on top of a difficult week. Boy, can we get to 4:00 and the close of business this week. The Dow, as you can see, down 281 points. We will continue to follow these numbers throughout the day. Kyra's up in just a couple of minutes with the CNN money team. You hear her?

PHILLIPS: With my tin cup.

HARRIS: Shares in General Motors. Once a worldwide giant. Now at their lowest level in 58 years. Is GM too big to fail or are we watching the end of an era? Lauren Fix is an automotive expert. We love having her on the program. She joins us now from Buffalo.

Lauren, great to see you.


Look, I don't now about the time here, but, yes, we bring you on because you get right to the heart of the matter. Look, is GM too big to fail?

FIX: No, they're not going to fail. I mean, let's put it this way. The company . . .

HARRIS: They're not going to fail?

FIX: I don't think they're going to fail.

HARRIS: Confidently you say this.

FIX: The reason I say that is because they have to much in the hopper coming. You've got the Chevy Volt coming out. They've got lots of now electric cars. They're trying to re-do things as quick as they can. They're getting -- unfortunately, unfortunately it's hurting employees that work there. A lot of middle management are being laid off. I know that they've cut back on a lot of their entertainment. Usually at the Detroit Auto Show, they do a big cars and stars event. That's been cut out. So they're finally waking up to realizing, we're going to have to take another look at our technology and maybe do something like Audi is doing and go diesel. I mean they're going to have to do something.

HARRIS: Well, hang on. Let me push back a little bit. We're going to show you the realtime price, stock price, for . . .

FIX: It's low.

HARRIS: Yes. Look at this, $4.91 a share.

FIX: I know. It's low.

HARRIS: I'm trying to -- I'm trying to pool up some money with our team here on this show, you know, to do a little patriot buying here. At some point you've got to say, enough is enough. And this is one of the iconic businesses here. But as I look at these numbers I have to ask you, Lauren, I mean, my goodness. What ultimately has to happen for not only GM, but for this industry to come back? Are we talking about federal bailout?

FIX: Well, I hope not. But, unfortunately, $25 billion has already been given to the automakers. We probably didn't know this. And it always happens after the fact. It's packaged in. When they did that offshore drilling package, $25 billion passed for Ford, GM and Chrysler. And they're going to go back and ask for another round of $25 billion for it so they can up their technology, because we're competing against all the Asian manufacturers.

HARRIS: What ultimately is it -- is it really cars? Is it designing cars right now that people want to buy? Is that the ultimate answer here or is there something they can do in either cutting production, maybe closing, I hate to say it, some plants, doing some different things here, additional layoffs? What's the remedy here?

FIX: I think you're going to see a multiple of answers. And part of it, unfortunately, is going to be layoffs. But they do have to shift up their cars. I think the problem is, they built so many SUVs and they built so many other vehicles they thought that people wanted, and they didn't look at the future.

Like a lot of the Asian manufacturers looked at us and said, what are we doing wrong and we'll do it right? Here they were with the Prius. You know, German manufacturers are coming up with diesel. Everyone has a solution.

And now suddenly we're coming around going, geeze, maybe we should do hydrogen or electric cars. All U.S. manufactures are starting to get it now. They're moving a little slow, but we've always brought product to market a little slower than we should and we need to cut out some of that fat. And I think that will really help them get some really quality product that is out there. I mean, there's some real great stuff out there. And, of course, the credit market's going to have to come around. And that takes time because the government just passed this bill and that's not going to happen overnight.

HARRIS: That's right. Hey, Lauren, you're terrific. Thanks for your time.

FIX: Thanks, Tony.

HARRIS: We don't see you often enough. Have a great weekend.

FIX: Thank you. Take care.

HARRIS: A question. Do you believe laughter has the potential to help us pick our next president? We will look at how "Saturday Night Live" may be influencing the political agenda.


HARRIS: So just about everyone knows Tina Fey is spot-on as Sarah Palin. "Saturday Night Live" has been thriving in this highly charged political campaign. Take a look at this piece from CNN's Alina Cho.


CHRIS PARNELL, "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE": Good evening and welcome.

ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT, (voice over): With Chris Parnell returning at moderator Tom Brokaw, Fred Armisen as Barack Obama and Darrell Hammond as John McCain, the stage is set.

TOM BROKAW: And they are a signal to . . .

CHO: Remember those pesky time limits during the real presidential debate? Here's "SNL's" take.

FRED ARMISEN, "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE": One thing I absolutely promise.

PARNELL: Time's up.


PARNELL: Senator McCain, your time is up.

CHO: How about this moment from the real debate?

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know who voted for it? Might never know. That one.

CHO: Hammond's John McCain, well, he sees it this way.

HAMMOND: I would continue what I've done for 25 years, which is to reach across party lines. Something that pee pants over here would never even consider.

CHO: In its 34th season, "Saturday Night Live" is hotter than ever. Rating are up 50 percent this season. The show's premiere, its highest rated since 2001.

TINA FEY, "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE": Hillary Clinton, who came so close to the White House, and me, Sarah Palin, who is even closer.

CHO: And in the age of YouTube, this fake Sarah Palin, Katie Couric interview, got more interviews than the real thing. More than 10 million to date. This election is very, very good for "Saturday Night Live." Just ask Seth Meyers, "Weekend Update" anchor and "SNL's" head writer.

SETH MEYERS, "SNL" HEAD WRITER: You know, when you do stuff about politics, it helps that everybody's paying attention. And this is a really special election.

CHO: Not unlike 2000. The historic presidential recount was rich with material. And this election . . .

Was that like a gift from humor gods to have Sarah Palin?

MEYERS: It took an hour to realize -- I think for everybody to sort of find out who she was and whatnot. And obviously we had this gift of casting Tina.

CHO: Tina is Tina Fey, of course.

FEY: Hey, can I call you Joe?

CHO: And her already iconic portrayal of Palin.

FEY: Are we not doing the talent portion?

CHO: Has, as one writer put it, all but defined the candidate. Executive producers Lorne Michaels says he's proud to be part of the process and maintains the show is not partisan.

LORNE MICHAELS, "SNL" EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: You're not putting on anything because we have a serious point to make. You might have a serious point to make, but first and foremost, it has to be funny.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE, "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE" (singing): What I want you've got a choice in this election. Got to make the right selection. Obama or McCain.