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CNN NEWSROOM

Dow on the Rise Again; McCain Will Unveil New Plan Focused on Workers, Homeowners and Seniors; Obama Unleashes a More Detailed Economic Plan; Wildfires Tear Through Parts of Los Angeles

Aired October 14, 2008 - 09:00   ET

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


HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Devastating wildfires rip through the Los Angeles areas. Residents warned to run. We'll show you the pictures. First light just moments away.
Are we seeing a light at the end of the tunnel? Stocks -- soared on Wall Street making Monday a banner day. About an hour ago, President Bush gave new details about how he plans to bail out banks.

Plus checking voter rolls. Controversy over new registration. One group in the spotlight for possible voter registration fraud just three weeks away from Election Day.

Good morning, everybody. I'm Heidi Collins. This is Tuesday, October 14th. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM.

U-turn on Wall Street. Will we see another heart-pumping rally today? Well, optimism overseas, that's for sure. Markets in Asia soared overnight for a second straight day. Japan's Nikkei index skyrocketed to a record close of 14 percent. That comes on the heels of yesterday's big rebound on Wall Street.

After eight days of crushing loss, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average surged a one-day record of 936 points.

So where's your money headed today?

Futures are up and hopes are high as the opening bells takes closer coming your way at the bottom of the hour.

One reason for the optimism, Washington's new efforts to stabilize the nation's financial system. Just last hour, President Bush unveiled details in the $700 billion rescue plan. Today's announcement, the government will spend $250 billion of taxpayer money to buy shares in banks.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This new capital will help healthy banks continue making loans to businesses and consumers, and this new capital will help struggling banks, fill the hole created by losses during the financial crisis so they can resume lending and help spur job creation and economic growth.

This is an essential short term measure to insure the viability of America's banking system, and the program is carefully designed to encourage banks to buy these shares back from the government when the market stabilize and they can raise capital from private investors.

HENRY PAULSON, TREASURY SECRETARY: Today, I am announcing that the treasury will purchase equity stakes in a wide variety of banks and thrifts.

Government owning a stake in any private U.S. company is objectionable to most Americans, me included. Yet the alternative of leaving businesses and consumers without access to financing is totally unacceptable.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: Washington's new plan, essentially, falls in line with measures already announced by countries across the Europe. Many experts say funneling the new money into the bank is essential to easing the lending crisis and shoring up the overall financial system.

Lots to talk about there. In fact, I want to take a look at the big picture now.

CNN's Christine Romans is in New York this morning to talk more about this.

So, Christine, certainly something unprecedented, but I feel like I keep saying, this decision is unprecedented, and then this one is unprecedented. So we're hearing new things every day.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Heidi, it's another morning where we're making history, every day we're making history in the financial market. We're making history that some day we'll be in a text book that a future crisis will be looking back and trying to figure out policy mistakes and policy hits and misses and trying to navigate some day off in the distant future, but we're right in it right now.

And that's sort of the best way to look at it. You're right, every day it's a different kind of take on the original $700 billion plan. It was 10 or 11 days ago that that was passed, and in the time, this bailout, this rescue of the financial system has evolved from something that was a sole idea of buying up toxic assets, and that that would help the banks, to now we're talking about governments around the world buying banks, pumping billions of dollars into banks for equity stakes.

Also the FDIC is expanding deposit and loan guarantees. A whole host of things that are being done and really being done around the world. There had been an aversion to the idea of actually the United States government being an owner of American banks.

You heard the treasury secretary talk about that, he called it objectionable to most Americans and objectionable to him, but there is no other choice. The question now will be when can it start to work, how long will the United States government be an investor -- an investor in these banks, what kind of exit strategy is there because...

COLLINS: Well, that's just it, isn't it, Christine? I mean this is supposed to be a temporary sort of fix, if you will.

ROMANS: Limited and temporary is what the president said. And you know, make no mistake about it, these are free market people who -- the -- ideologically, trying to do something like this, it's - you cannot overstate what a reach it is for this government to be doing this unprecedented intervention.

We're told, though, that the alternative is just too serious, and it would affect every single American. And this is something that the European governments were much more quick to embrace than the United States government, but now, they're talking about us doing it, too.

So we're listening to Sheila Bair, the FDIC chairwoman, as well. She is speaking -- right now...

COLLINS: Right.

ROMANS: ... to talk about some of these other measures that the FDIC is doing, but different angles of our banking sector definitely trying to get a handle on this.

And the market cycle, Heidi, I can tell you that the credit market...

COLLINS: I know.

ROMANS: ... looks like it freed up a bit. And the credit market, as we see every day, is so much bigger than the stock market, but the stock market having just an incredible reaction here.

It -- you just have to kind of sit back and say free markets around the world are rallying strongly, absolutely enthused about governments taking an ownership stake in the banks.

COLLINS: It's wild, is it not?

ROMANS: It really is wild.

COLLINS: Who thought we would be in this position that we're in right now. But we are certainly watching it very closely. We appreciate your insight.

Christine Romans, thanks so much.

I want to remind everybody, of course, the opening bell on Wall Street is just a few minutes away, about 25 minutes away. So what on earth is going to happen today? Are the markets going to go up again like they did yesterday?

We will get a live picture of that, as you can see there, New York Stock Exchange, coming up, bottom of the hour.

One more day to one more debate, and you'll have a front row seat to every exchange between senators Barack Obama and John McCain right here on CNN.

Our Ed Henry is ready and waiting at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York.

So how are things shaping up there, Ed?

ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Heidi, you remember last week when I said before the second debate in Nashville, the stakes could not be any higher for John McCain?

COLLINS: Mm-hmm.

HENRY: I guess, maybe, they could get a little higher. He didn't win the second debate. This is the final one as you said. It's all on the line here.

Going into it, he changed his message a little bit yesterday. He's going a little bit less on the attack against Barack Obama, not quite as negative, instead trying to portray himself as a fighter, and also trying to come out today now, as you have been reporting, with a new economic plan, trying specifically to target senior citizens, help them cut the tax rate for them down to a maximum of 10 percent, if they are withdrawing from the IRA early, something, obviously, a lot of seniors, in particular, are doing right now as they look at the market's gyrations.

The point there is beyond the individual plans that John McCain realizes this is all about the economy. And that sort of outside his comfort zone, first of all, because the economy going into this election was not his strong suit, instead national security was. And that has not been the focus of this election.

And secondly, as you recall from last week's debate, the format -- a town hall meeting was supposed to be sort of in his wheel house, his comfort zone, and he didn't win that debate.

Now this is a different kind of format sitting down at a table with Barack Obama, not quite a town hall meeting, instead just taking questions from moderator Bob Schieffer of CBS News.

So John McCain can still win this debate, but the point is that this is not exactly his strength in terms of no longer being a town hall format and not being focused on national security, instead being focused on domestic, the economy, those kinds of issues, that's why he's really been focusing on that in recent days -- Heidi.

COLLINS: All right, CNN's Ed Henry at the debate site there. We appreciate that.

Thank you, Ed.

Three weeks left, in fact, and the battle for votes heats up. We take you to the key swing state of Ohio. We'll go there shortly.

But now we want to talk about two deadly wildfires raging in Southern California this morning. Both in the San Fernando Valley, both whipped up by strong Santa Ana winds. In fact, at least two people are dead. More than 10,000 acres scorched. The biggest wildfire has charred at least 5300 acres in the Angeles National Forest and destroyed several structures, including 30 mobile homes.

The other fire burned about 5,000 acres. It's in the Porto Ranch area. That's the west end of the valley. At least 19 structures there have been damaged or destroyed. It is not clear right now how many of them were homes.

We are watching the situation very, very closely, though. Rob Marciano is standing by in the Weather Center now.

Boy, we thought it was bad yesterday, and obviously, things have gotten a little bit more precarious.

(WEATHER REPORT)

COLLINS: OK. Well, that's some good news on the horizon. All right. Rob Marciano, thanks. We'll check back later on.

In fact, we want to get the very latest on the California wildfire. We have on the phone now with me, Daniel Berlant. He is actually the spokesman for California's Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Danny, we have spoken before in other fire seasons. And the picture is very frightening this morning. We're looking at some live shots right now out of our affiliate there, KABC.

Tell us what the biggest overall concern is for you and for the firefighters today.

DANIEL BERLANT, SPOKESMAN, CALFIRE: You know, the biggest concern and the biggest challenge will remain the Santa Ana winds. Those strong gusty winds of 60 to 75 miles an hour definitely make it a very challenging fire fight. And with those winds predicted to continue through Wednesday now, we've got a long road ahead of us.

COLLINS: What about being able to get aircraft up and drop in some slurry or whatever other kind of fire retardant you guys will be using today?

BERLANT: Well, this morning as the light comes up, we will definitely have a full out aerial assault on these fires. New fires also popping up in San Diego County.

One challenge, though, with our air resources is when you have strong winds like that...

COLLINS: Sure.

BERLANT: ... not only is it dangerous for the plane to fly, but it also ineffective as the retardant and the water drops go everywhere.

COLLINS: Yes. BERLANT: But we definitely have a lot of fire engines and ground resources on these fires.

COLLINS: OK, quickly, before we let you go, Daniel, evacuations?

BERLANT: We have a lot of evacuations. There are thousands of homes throughout Southern California that are threatened but we're working very closely with law enforcement to get those residents affected out of the area.

COLLINS: All right. Well, Daniel, we appreciate it. We know you have a lot of work ahead of you and so do all of the firefighters who are really working very hard out there at the moment. Hopefully, tomorrow will come quickly and those winds will die down a bit as Rob has been telling us.

Daniel Berlant, spokesman -- person for California's Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Wow.

You are our iReporters, as you know, and helping us tell the story of these fires. In fact, a little bit later on, we're going to show you some of the iReports with you.

The pictures are pretty incredible as you can see.

Ohio, in play, but was someone playing dirty political games? One man now telling investigators he signed up to vote 73 times, and his story may not be an isolated incident.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANNOUNCER: Live breaking news, unfolding developments, see for yourself in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You should vote in 2008.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because there is a freaking war going on.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our country's future is at stake.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My democracy matters.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This a priority.

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: They could make the whole difference.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nothing is going to change unless you change it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I hear people say it all the time that my vote doesn't count. Honestly, sometimes, it just makes me want to just turn around, walk a few feet away and just scream.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: The youth votes. Certainly a lot of people wondering how it's going to go this year. And as you saw, it is even a subject of a documentary film.

Our next guest is the producer and director of "18 in '08." He has some thoughts on young people in the upcoming election. 19-year- old David Burstein is joining us from Philadelphia.

Nice to see you again, David. We had you on the show a year ago, and I wonder how much has changed. I know you've been kind of all over the country, touring with the documentary.

Tell me what has changed since last November.

DAVID BURSTEIN, FOUNDER & EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, 18 IN '08: Well, you know, we've seen 6 million young people turn out in these really primaries and caucuses. We've seen registration numbers through the roof, you know.

And I think what it is, is it's a record engagement and excitement among young voters. As I travel all around this country, I have never seen people so excited about an election and so excited to participate.

COLLINS: What do you think it is?

BURSTEIN: I think it's really -- you know, it's the history making nature of this campaign, but it's also our generation. We care about these issues. We care about the economy. We're concerned about the world in which we live.

We've already engaged in record levels of volunteerism and community service. And this is our first opportunity to start channeling that into political power. So frankly, it's -- part of our generation is so excited to do this for the first time.

COLLINS: You really hit on, obviously, a point that we have been discussing here, and pretty much everybody has been discussing for a couple of weeks now, and that is the economy.

BURSTEIN: Yes.

COLLINS: We talk about the stock market. We talk about the frozen credit market. What do the young people of this country really worry about when it comes to their finances at such a young age?

BURSTEIN: Well, I think it's a couple things. First of all, you know, I'm in college right now.

COLLINS: Sure.

BURSTEIN: And for lots of Americans all over this country, it's a question of whether they can go to college, whether they can stay in college, whether it's affordable. It's jobs.

COLLINS: Jobs, certainly.

BURSTEIN: You know, we're going to have to get a job pretty soon, and this job market right now does not look like a great place for us to be getting our first job out of college and paying off our student loans.

So it's really coming to hit home for us and I think, you know, those of us who are -- have a high standard of living and cost of living, that's something that we're going to have to adjust to.

So I think it's -- it really is starting to hit home for us and our families as well.

COLLINS: I want to show you this poll real quickly, from Rock the Vote. It shows 56 percent of 18 to 29-year-olds support Barack Obama, 29 percent support McCain.

From the traveling that you've done, from the interviewing that you've done, do you think that's an accurate picture?

BURSTEIN: Well, look, I think both Senator Obama and Senator McCain should get a lot of credit this election cycle for really respecting and paying attention to young voters. I think that, you know, Senator Obama has resonated a lot with young voters, but I also think Senator McCain has made great efforts in that regard.

COLLINS: How so?

BURSTEIN: Well, you know, he's -- both campaigns actually have a full time staffer devoted to reaching out to young voters, which is something we haven't seen before. And, you know, Senator McCain -- I think Governor Palin has really energized a lot of young Republicans who hadn't been as excited before.

And I think -- look, I think, that, ultimately, it's -- at the end of the day, it's the message of the candidate. And there is only, you know, so much you can do in terms of reaching out.

I think both campaigns have been registering voters, particularly the Obama campaign. They've led a pretty unprecedented voter registration effort and they're, I think, turning their supporters into people who can go out and engage other people.

COLLINS: I would be curious to know, what's going to be next for you? I mean this was a pretty big undertaking that you did, and you've had a lot of press on it, and you've really made people sort of think more about the youth vote, certainly.

What do you do after the election?

BURSTEIN: Well, one of the things that we're going to be thinking about with "18 in '08" is how do we make sure that this record turnout of young voters stays involved in the political process, you know, in the governing process and the legislative process.

How do we advocate for issues that are important to us and positions that are important to us as young people. And how do we make sure that, you know, we're turning out in 2009 elections, and 2010 elections and beyond.

And I think that that's sort of the next step, that making sure we channel this really record participation among young voters and all voters in -- that's going to come in this election, and make sure that we're creating long-term participants in the democratic process.

Because at the end of the day, your vote is just the first step, it is the first step in a process that becomes -- you know, what does it mean to be a citizen...

COLLINS: Right.

BURSTEIN: ... and what does it mean to be engaged?

COLLINS: Are you going to run for office sometime, David?

BURSTEIN: Maybe. If I do, I'll be back here, first, to let you know.

COLLINS: I bet you will.

All right, David Burstein, he is director of "18 in '08." Thanks so much, David. We'll talk soon.

BURSTEIN: Thanks so much, Heidi.

One-on-one with John McCain, naming names and placing blame for the financial crisis. The senator sits down with CNN to talk about his new plan for the economy.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLLINS: Allegations of voter registration fraud in the swing state of Ohio. Election officials now asking the county prosecutor to investigate the grassroots organization, ACORN.

It happened after some residents in the most populous country said they filled out dozens of applications because of pressure from the group.

Here now CNN's Bill Tucker.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Witnesses came before the Cuyahoga Board of Election in Ohio. They told of being harassed to be register to vote.

CHRIS BUCKLEY, VOTER: So the people who walked up to me, asked me would I sign these papers, so I'm like, no, I'm already registered. And then, they just asked me again, like I need a job, I'm just trying to hold on to a job. So would you sign this for me, I need 25 of them, or I need a certain amount of them to do it.

So me being the kind hearted person, I said yes.

TUCKER: The workers doing the voter registration were from ACORN, or the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. One of the witnesses testified he registered 73 times, even though he was already registered to vote.

FREDDIE JOHNSON, VOTER: Some of the individuals that worked at ACORN gave me, you know, cigarettes for signatures. You know (INAUDIBLE)

TUCKER: After hearing the testimony, the board voted to ask the county prosecutor to investigate ACORN. It is the latest in a long line of investigations of voter registration fraud for ACORN, a line that stretches back over several years.

ACORN is currently accused of submitting false registration forms in at least a dozen states. A spokesman for ACORN says that in virtually every case, the fraud now being looked at is fraud the group identified first.

SCOTT LEVENSON, ACORN: We went through registration forms, tagged potential problems, and notified the boards of elections. That's why one of the things we have been asking for is regular meetings with the state board of elections.

TUCKER: Levenson says ACORN does not tolerate the type of behavior testified to in Cuyahoga County and that workers found to commit registration fraud fired.

The problem for ACORN is this is a repeated pattern, one seen across the country and over several years.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS: Once again, CNN's Bill Tucker with that report.

It is not clear whether federal authorities are also investigating. The FBI isn't commenting at this point, neither is the civil rights division of the Department of Justice.

ACORN is also accused of voter registration fraud in Indiana. The secretary of state there has now asked the attorney general to investigate. The case has to do with a stack of 5,000 new voter applications turned in by ACORN.

Election officials say the first 2100 of them were fraudulent, filled out with fake names or names of deceased person. The other half of the stack has not been examined. It's not clear yet whether the attorney general will pursue the case.

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 grassroots 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.

A banner day on Wall Street as stocks soared nearly 1,000 points. Will we get a repeat today? We are waiting for the opening bell.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLLINS: On Wall Street, we saw a stunning recovery on Monday when the Dow posted its biggest point gain ever. But the big question is, of course, can the rally continue?

CNN's Susan Lisovicz is at the New York Stock Exchange now with a look at what to expect today.

I don't know. I get kind of even nervous to ask that question, Susan.

SUSAN LISOVICZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Heidi, the futures tell us we're going to have a strong rally at the open, and it was pretty breathless at the end. No question about it.

Once again, the final hour of trading, the busiest, but this time it was a rally, a huge rally, just absolutely breathtaking, and these are historic times. These are historic times on Wall Street. No question about it.

The Dow surged a record 936 points. And that sent Japan's main index up by a record amounts as well, more than 14 percent.

Today investors are encouraged by details on the government's plan to shore up the nation's financial system. And President Bush said this morning it includes spending $250 billion to purchase stocks in nine leading banks, and the program may be expanded to include more banks.

You know, we had an interesting quote from the president, saying that it's not intended to stop the free market. It's really, basically, to save the free market system.

There is the opening bell. And that money, by the way, comes from the $700 bailout bill.

Yesterday's rally was spurred by similar announcements, even bigger efforts by European governments. President Bush also said the FDIC will temporarily backed most new bank debts and to expand government insurance to cover all non-interest bearing accounts which are typically used by small businesses.

And Heidi, 30 seconds in, and once again, we have triple digit gains. The blue chip is up just about 200 points. Actually, they were up 200 points, then given back just a few digits there. But this is just another big rally at the open. And this comes, by the way, more action in the financial sector. Spain's Banco Santander is buying the remaining portion of Philadelphia-based Sovereign Bank Corp for nearly $2 billion. The Spanish banked had already owned a 25 percent stake in Sovereign shares. And shares of Sovereign, by the way, are up 8 percent.

Overall, the blue chips are 267 points, one minute into trading. Or three and a quarter percent, the Nasdaq and the S&P 500 are not far behind. We're going to get a lot of information this week, by the way, Heidi. A lot of corporate earnings. Also reports on housing, inflation and so on. So very busy week and that could mean more volatility.

COLLINS: How about consumer confidence numbers? Do you have any of those yet?

LISOVICZ: I think we do get consumer confidence at the end of the week. Investor confidence -- I'm just going to go out on a limb, Heidi, and say it improved in the last 24 hours.

COLLINS: Yes. I think you'll be right about that. Yes, yesterday, when you and I signed off with each other, it was up 400 points or so. Never in a million years could you be expecting it would end up up 936 points on that big board there.

LISOVICZ: A lot of folks who are saying last week was like a financial Armageddon, and guess what, it's nirvana.

COLLINS: Yes.

LISOVICZ: At least there's hope. I think the feeling was absolute euphoric yesterday.

COLLINS: Well, that's what everybody is looking for, certainly. Susan Lisovicz, thank you. I know you'll be watching those numbers closely for us.

The presidential race heads for Hempstead, New York. You are looking at Hofstra University where the presidential candidates are meeting tomorrow night, their third and final debate on domestic policies. Issue one will certainly be the economy. And CNN gives you, of course, a front row seat to that.

Today, Senator McCain takes his economic strategy to Blue Bell, Pennsylvania. He's set to unveil a new plan focusing on workers, homeowners and seniors. The Republican presidential hopeful gave us a hint on what it's all about in a one-on-one interview with CNN's Dana Bash.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: First of all, I want to help responsible people. Second of all, who are we helping now? Who are we giving the money to now? The same people who were the coconspirators in this crisis -- the greatest crisis of our time. That's who we're giving the money to now. And again, I want people to be able to stay in their homes.

This crisis, this conflagration was ignited by the housing crisis. And it was Fannie and Freddie and Wall Street and corruption and certainly cronyism in Washington, D.C. that caused it. And so, until we get housing prices, home prices to stop their decline and start back up again, we're not going to really be able to make a lot of progress. So, in all due respect of the critics, who are we giving the money to now? The same people who bare a great deal of responsibility for this crisis.

In fact, there were homeowners who owned their home, who now find a plummeting value and their very American dream is being jeopardized. I have a positive plan. We'll bring the economy back. I have been campaigning all over this country and I see people reacting very positively to my proposal.

DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Why is Barack Obama, obviously is an elected office, his poll numbers seem to have gone up and confidence in him with regard to the economy. He seems to have gone up, while you have had the opposite?

MCCAIN: Well, you know, what seems to be to some is what seems to be in others. We're doing just fine. I'm happy where we are. We're, as I said in my statement, we got him just where we want him. We're going to be just fine. I have been written off, Dana, on so many occasions by political pundits that it's hard for me to count. I think it's more lives than a cat. But the point is we're doing fine. I'm happy with where we are. We're fighting a good fight. That's what it's all about. That's what I love.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: Senator McCain is set to tell us more about his plans in about two hours from now, so of course stay with CNN -- CNN NEWSROOM for that. We'll have it for you.

Quickly, we want to tell you something that's happening. The New York Stock Exchange, kind of a weird deal actually. We're seeing that the big board is locking up here and there. You may have noticed just a few minutes ago, when we were speaking with Susan Lisovicz at the opening bell, she had mentioned triple digit gains, and then when we went to the big board, it actually said to the positive by one point in 24 or so.

Right now, we understand that it is still locked up. But if you look down at the bottom of your screen, right where the time code is, that little tiny number, those numbers are correct. So until the New York Stock Exchange can figure out what is wrong with the big board, we just want to let you know where to look. So, there you see.

The Dow Jones Industrial Averages currently up 391. So, there you have it. We'll watch those numbers really closely today. No public appearances, though, for Senator Obama today. He is in Oregon, Ohio, prepping for tomorrow's debate. Yesterday, he called for more economic reform, including a moratorium on home foreclosures and certain tax breaks. We want to go to our Suzanne Malveaux who is following developments in New York this morning.

Hi, there, Suzanne. SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hey, good morning, Heidi.

Well, Barack Obama was in Toledo, Ohio yesterday, and that's where he unleashed a more detailed economic plan that he is urging Congress and the Bush administration to adopt within weeks.

Now, it includes a $105 billion in tax cuts, but Obama says that times are not going to be easy for Americans, that we are in a deep hole and it's going to take a while to dig out of that hole, and that voters are going to have to set some priorities that's never before. One of the things Obama wants to do is to make sure that it's easier for Americans who are financially struggling to tap into their retirement savings. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Since so many Americans will be struggling to pay the bills over the next year, I propose that we allow every family to withdraw up to 15 percent from their IRA or 401(k), up to a maximum of $10,000 without fine or penalty through 2009 just to help tie folks over.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MALVEAUX: Obama's plan also includes providing a tax credit for businesses that create jobs, that's $3000 per job, creating a 30-day moratorium on foreclosures for responsible homeowners to restructure their loans, temporarily eliminating taxes on unemployment insurance, and once again, allowing taxpayers to withdraw up to $10,000 from their 401(k), their IRA plans without any penalty.

Obama's plan also calls to cut taxes for 95 percent of working families. But McCain says that raising those taxes for the other five percent, the wealthiest Americans, not necessarily a good idea, because a lot of those folks are the ones who are investing the economy, providing the jobs that makes the whole financial system work -- Heidi.

COLLINS: I'm wondering, Suzanne, what's the mood of the campaign now? We know that Senator Obama is locking down, if you will, getting ready for the debate tomorrow night. How is everybody else doing?

MALVEAUX: Well, Heidi, it's interesting, because they look at those poll numbers. The last two debates, they feel very confident going into this, the third and final debate, but they're not cocky. You talk to folks in the campaign, and they all say, you know, if they think he is going to win, they don't want to say anything because they are afraid they are going to jinx it. You hear that a lot.

Even here, Obama talking about that he is somewhat of a superstitious person. So they are keeping their heads down. They say they're going to work hard for the next three weeks. They're not taking anything for granted, but obviously, they do say that Obama is confident going into the final debate -- Heidi.

COLLINS: CNN's Suzanne Malveaux coming to us from New York this morning.

Thanks, Suzanne.

Taking stock of the battleground states, Ohio up next, a key piece of real estate in the presidential race.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLLINS: Another check at the big board. We are watching these numbers pretty closely because -- not for only the obvious reasons. Yesterday, as I'm sure you know, the biggest point gain ever in history of 936 points to the positive right now. There's been a little bit of trouble with the big board. And so, we are watching to see whether or not those numbers are actually fluctuating. Where to be looking is down in the bottom right-hand side of your screen there, the smaller number.

The Dow, the Nasdaq and the S&P, all of those numbers are correct, but they are certainly having a little bit of trouble with that big board on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. So, we'll watch it for you.

Only three more weeks until the election and it could come down to one or more of these key swing states. Take a look at the map. From now until Election Day, CNN correspondents will bring you the latest on the campaign battles in Florida, Ohio, Virginia, Nevada, and the Colorado.

We want to begin today with CNN's Mary Snow. She is keeping her eye on Ohio where our latest poll shows Obama has a slight lead.

So, Mary, what are people talking about these days in Ohio?

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Heidi, we came to Hamilton County, a key county in Ohio, traditionally Republican. In it is Cincinnati -- what you see behind me. Half of the city's population is African-American, and we set out to find out what the big issues are, but particularly how people are reacting to the issue of race that's being so widely talked about.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LINCOLN WARE, WDBZ-AM RADIO HOST: People are starting to get a little scared. It could really happen. We could really have a black president. The bogeyman could leave the country. That's what they're saying.

SNOW (voice over): Radio host Lincoln Ware of WDBZ-AM who supports Barack Obama wasted no time taking on the issue of race among his mostly black audience in Cincinnati. But not all of his listeners are black.

CHARLES, CALLER: You're right. It does scare me now.

WARE: I know. Why does it scare you?

CHARLES: What's going to happen is...

WARE: Why does a black man, if president, scare you, Charles?

CHARLES: Because we have the first black in sports, first black here, the first black there.

SNOW: Another caller, a black Republican calls in to take aim at Democratic Congressman John Lewis for bringing up the issue of race over the weekend.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean, look at Lewis, Lewis had to come up -- what, Lewis want a racial war?

SNOW: Lewis, a civil rights leader, accused John McCain and Sarah Palin of stoking hatred and compared the political atmosphere to that of George Wallace, the former Alabama governor who is a segregationist.

McCain called it a shocking character attack that goes beyond the pale.

WARE: George Wallace may have been stretching it a bit but even George Wallace changed near the end of his lifetime.

SNOW: Bobby Hilton, a Cincinnati minister, does not think Lewis went too far.

BOBBY HILTON, WORD OF DELIVERANCE MINISTER: It was kind of like we needed that confirmation. We have been feeling that, that there were racial undertones being spread. Things being allowed to go forth in the campaign rallies to say, "terrorist, terrorist," "off with his head," "kill him," that stuff should not be allowed. So we were glad to see that John Lewis came out and made that statement.

SNOW: Critics of McCain credit the Republican presidential candidate with stopping a woman at a town hall meeting who said she was scared of Obama because she thought he was an Arab, which McCain denounced.

MCCAIN: No, ma'am. No, ma'am.

SNOW: Others, though, say there are undercurrents of a racial tone.

KATHLEEN O'NEILL, CINCINNATI RESIDENT: They have been playing the "he's unknown, he's different."

SNOW: Rosemary Williams isn't surprised.

ROSEMARY WILLIAMS, OHIO RESIDENT: It's expected, you know, because it is so under cover that people don't know that racism still existed in the United States let alone in Ohio.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SNOW: So, the big question, Heidi, is how will the issue of race play out in this election. Several people we spoke to yesterday in Cincinnati predict that it could energize young black voters which could mean bigger turnout. And the last presidential election in 2004, statistics showed that only about one in four people show that did not vote, so there is room for improvement in terms of turnout, obviously, in urban areas like this that would help Obama -- Heidi.

COLLINS: CNN's Mary Snow, coming to us from Cincinnati, Ohio.

Thank you, Mary.

And speaking of the young vote, too young to vote, but not too young to care. Kids on the campaign trail. Getting the scoop from the political heavy weights and now they are sharing their secrets with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLLINS: Quickly, we are watching several different weather stories, one of them there on your screen now. There's about three major wildfires, in fact, deadly wildfires. Two people have been killed in all of this that they are really working hard to knock it down today. About 12,000 acres scorched. Some of these fires originated and then grew into the fire that was burning closest to them. So, really, a situation there that you can see. Winds, the Santa Ana winds definitely a problem. So, we'll keep our eye on that.

Rob Marciano standing by in the weather center now to tell us a little bit more about that, as well as some weather that's happening in the tropics, Rob.

(WEATHER REPORT)

COLLINS: Peacock problems. Well, some say there is a population explosion going on. So what is the answer? How about putting them on the pills?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TREVOR DOUGHERTY, ITHACA, NEW YORK: I'm 16 years old. And in this presidential election, I cannot vote. That's why I'm begging you, if you can, to get out this November and vote. Also, please encourage those who will listen to you to do the same. And let yourself be heard in this election.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: Well, maybe everybody should be listening to the kids. A plea, in fact, from America's youth. We know iReporter Trevor Dougherty isn't the only young person with an opinion on the upcoming election. We do want to hear from you. You can just logon to CNN.com and send us your iReports. We'll put some of them on the air for you.

But how is this for a track record? An accurate prediction of every presidential race since 1964. The surprising part, none of those polls are even old enough to cast a vote. It's the scholastic presidential poll. And two aspiring journalists are here now to break the news of who won. 12-year-old Jack Greenberg and 14-year-old Lya Ferreyra joining us now from New York this morning.

Before we get to the results, guys, because everybody is waiting. We have the drum roll, we have the whole bit plan. Tell me a little bit more about the Scholastic Kids Press Corps. I see you with your badges. I see you with your reporter's notebooks. You were both part of this 80-number team that sort of travel the country and learn about what kids are thinking.

Lya, why don't I start with you?

LYA FERREYRA, SCHOLASTIC KID REPORTER: Well, I've been on the election since it started. I've had the privilege of going to a Hillary Clinton rally and actually being able to speak with Senator Clinton. I mean, it's just been an amazing experience to being able to go to the Clinton Initiative Foundation, and being able to get, you know, the information needed.

COLLINS: So, Jack, what about you? How have you been involved in this? You're 12 years old, you're from Connecticut.

JACK GREENBERG, SCHOLASTIC KID REPORTER: I've covered both the Republican and Democratic National Conventions. I went to a debate between Hillary Clinton and Senator Obama back in April. I interviewed the late Tim Russert before he died.

COLLINS: Wow, that's a very impressive resume from both of you. What do you think about this particular race? What really stands out to you?

Lya, I'll start with you again?

FERREYRA: It really is historical, because either way, Democrat or Republican, we are making history. And it's just something that, you know, we'll be able to tell our grandchildren and our great grandchildren after us.

COLLINS: And jack, what about you?

GREENBERG: This election is very exciting with an African- American man having the chance to be president or a woman becoming the first vice -- being the first woman vice president. This is -- I see why kids are really interested in this election. This is history in the making.

COLLINS: When you guys went to the conventions and the rallies, do you see a lot of other kids there, Jack?

GREENBERG: I do. At some events I really do see kids there. At the debate I went to, there were a lot of kids out there protesting. And I went up to them asking why are you doing this. And they were able to give these great answers saying what they really want for our country. This is really amazing. I applaud these kids who are making a political opinion. Even though they're not old enough yet, they're able to do this.

COLLINS: Well, I think it's very exciting that you guys are talking about it, certainly. Tell us a little bit about how this poll worked before we get to the results. Because I know that you guys have already been able to predict who will win this election.

Lya, how did it work? Who did you talk to?

FERREYRA: Well, basically to vote you either got the Scholastic News Magazine at your school or you were able to vote online.

GREENBERG: Or you follow us on twitter.com/scholasticnews.

COLLINS: OK. Go ahead, Lya.

FERREYRA: Oh yes. So then, the votes, they were tallied up electronically by a team of six people in Scholastic. It took two weeks. You know, anyone from the age of one -- grades 1 through 12 could vote. And it was really just a great thing to do and a great experience.

COLLINS: Well, everybody remembers Scholastic magazine that they looked when they were in grade school and beyond. So, it's a fascinating look at this election process. And -- I mean, let's get to it. We've been waiting this long. Let's find out who won the Scholastic Presidential Poll? And the result is --

GREENBERG: Senator Barack Obama has defeated Republican challenger John McCain 57 percent to 39 percent with 44 percent choosing other.

COLLINS: 44 percent choosing other?

GREENBERG: 4 percent.

COLLINS: Oh, OK. I was going to say, my gosh, who is the other and where are all those people. OK, 4 percent. Got it. All right, so there you have it. The Scholastic presidential election poll. To the two of you, we sure do appreciate it. Lya Ferreyra and Jack Greenberg. I think you guys have a definite political future.

GREENBERG: Thank you very much.

FERREYRA: Thank you, Heidi.

COLLINS: Have a great day, guys.

FERREYRA: Thanks. Good bye.

COLLINS: And I'm sure they'll be watching this. The final face- off. Barack Obama and John McCain preparing for part three, the last debates before voters pull the lever.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLLINS: Unwelcome sounds of the wild. Now people in one Miami neighborhood want to invest in planned parenthood for peacocks. The population control plan includes feeding them the animal equivalent of the birth control pill. But not everybody is on board.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TOMAS REGALADO, CITY COMMISSIONER: Why do we need a consultant? Or why do we need a specialized agency to do about the peacocks?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: So far they've paid $400 to count the birds. There are about 40 of them. Some residents say they don't like the noise or the ever-present droppings. While others just think the peacock add flare to the neighborhood.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLLINS: Speaking of flare, investors feeling good this morning. The Dow on the rise again reacting to the new bank bailout plan unveiled by President Bush a couple of hours ago. But will the good times last?

And Los Angeles on fire. Thousands of people flee their Southern California homes. A state of emergency as Santa Ana winds continue to fan deadly wildfires.

I'm Heidi Collins. It is Tuesday, October 14th. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM.

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