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Will Bush's New Plan Push Through Frozen Credit?; Election 2008 Draws Closer and Many Remain Undecided & Exhausted
Aired October 14, 2008 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: An uneasy relationship. The public sector bailing out the private. The president announcing another plan -- a $250 billion shot of federal Draino to unclog credit markets. How soon before the pipes are clear?
Bull horns on one end, bears claws on the other. It is a scary place to be, but there might be some good news for folks caught between the beasts.
Has there ever been an election season more exhausting than this one? Just 21 days left, but you know the last few minutes of a close game always seems to take forever.
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PHILLIPS: Hello, everyone. I'm Kyra Phillips live at the CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta, and you are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
Your money, your vote, we are covering it all this hour. President Bush tells you where your bailout dollars will go. And the two guys who want to replace him are gearing up to duke it out one final time. The economic mess we are in, it is going to fall in the next president's lap. Of course it will. Barack Obama and John McCain likely to face some tough questions about it in the third and final debate tomorrow night.
CNN's Ed Henry is at the debate site in Hempstead, New York.
ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Kyra, the stakes could not be higher for John McCain in the third and final debate. This could be his final chance to really shake up the dynamics of this race. For Barack Obama, as the front-runner, the key is to not have a gaffe, not have any sort of a flub. If he can emerge from this third debate unscathed, he will be in a strong position for the final three weeks of the campaign. You remember that McCain, in the first debate, had a real opportunity because it focused on (AUDIO GAP)
PHILLIPS: Apologize for that tape there. The tape, there, got stuck. We will try to figure it out and bring the full report to you.
Meanwhile, debate night in America, and we will have it covered for you. You don't want to miss a minute of the action. Stay with CNN tomorrow night for the best coverage from the best political team on television.
Well, the presidential race is in the homestretch and some key states are tossups from now until election day. We are zeroing in on the states where the fight between John McCain and Barack Obama will be decided. Today, we are focusing on one of the biggest and most important battlegrounds of all, the state of Ohio. 20 electoral votes are at stake there on November 4th. The state has gone with the winner in the last 11 presidential elections, by the way, and no Republican has ever won the White House the state of Ohio.
People may not want to admit it, but Barack Obama's skin color is an issue in the race for the White House. The Democratic candidate's supporters are confronting it as they stump for votes in Ohio. The AFL-CIO is trying to change some minds with a massive campaign and it includes 70 million phone calls and 25 million pieces of mail targeted at union households in key battlegrounds, including Ohio.
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GERALD MCENTEE, PRESIDENT, AFSCME: It may come out in code. It comes out like this, I can't vote for him, because he is a black man. He is not one of us. Well, sisters and brothers, when you hear that, you know what you ought to say? This is what I say, that is (EXPLETIVE DELETED) That is total, absolute (EXPLETIVE DELETED).
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Well, are going to talk more about the election and the race issue with labor leader Gerry McEntee, a bit later this hour and our Mary Snow will also have a live report on the race in Ohio.
Now, he is not the only one talking about race. A lot of the voters have been telling us how it is playing a role in this election. This is what some of you have told our reporters so far.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One lady I went to told me that the reason why she had the issue is because of how she was raised. She said that her father is still alive and he is 85 and could not see himself voting for a black man.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's an undercurrent. I think it's sad, but I think it is still an undercurrent here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And people are getting a little scared and it could happen, we could really have a black president. The boogeyman could lead the country. That is what they are saying.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Somebody said to me, well, what do you object about him? I said, well, truthfully, I -- our colors are different. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Black people have always known there is a divide and we have never lived in a false sense that we are always accepted.
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PHILLIPS: Well, we want to hear what you have to say. Why would you not vote for an African-American man? Send us your e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Well, your e-mails are definitely pouring in. Here's just a few that I've received so far.
John wrote this: "People worried about Obama, because people think that he is just going to be a president for black people, and liberals, socialists, and Muslims."
Nisi writes: "Some folks are hesitant to vote for Obama because they feel that his race will put his life in danger. I live in a military town and it is surprising how many people say that."
And Karen writes, "I refuse to vote for a black man and that is why I am taking comedian David Alan Grier's advice and voting for Barack Obama's white half."
We're going to have more of your e-mails later this hour.
You can't talk politics without talking about the economy. And we're hearing a lot of high level talk today. New details from President Bush and his top economic guns about how they'll dole out the $700 billion bailout plan funded 100 percent by your tax dollars. The government will use up to $250 billion to buy stock in struggling banks, then those banks will buy the stock back once those markets stabilize.
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GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We agreed on a coordinated plan for action to provide new liquidity, strengthen financial institutions, and protect our citizens' savings, and ensure fairness and integrity in the markets. Yesterday, leaders in Europe moved forward with this plan.
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(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HENRY PAULSON, TREASURY SECRETARY: We are acting with unprecedented speed, taking unprecedented measures that we never thought would be necessary. But they are necessary to get our economy back and on an even keel and secure the confidence of the future of our markets, our economy and the economic well-being of all Americans.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIPS: Well, you heard him, the economic well-being of all Americans. Right now a lot of Americans are not doing so well, so when they will they? And when will you and I actually see the results? Let's take a look at the big picture, right now, with our Christine Romans
Christine, what are we looking at here with the new proposal?
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, what we are looking at is history being made, because you have the United States government saying it is going to go in and buy stakes in American banks. Let me say it again. The United States government is going to be buying stakes in American banks.
All around the world, the governments are buying stakes in banks. This has been the evolution of this bailout. At first, we were just talking about buying the toxic assets off of the books of these banks; the United States government holding them and then selling them back. Now that proposal is still out there and it is still a plan that is going to go forward, but the shift, the focus, rather, has shifted to pumping billions of dollars directly into the banks. The United States government becoming a shareholder of the banks, requiring certain kinds of CEO compensation rules and the like. And, also, the FDIC coming out and saying it will expand deposit and loan guarantees.
So, kind of the full effort of the United States government. Mirroring, actually, some of the moves that we heard from the British banking authorities and also European governments have been moving in this direction last week. So the evolution of the bailout certainly changing.
You said, Kyra, when are we going to feel it? It is the big question. The credit markets are loosening up a little bit here today. The question is how much damage has already been done to the economy because of this crisis of confidence? And how long will it take before we get back to the free flow of credit?
Everybody I have talked to expects a tough 2009. I mean, that is something that the American people should be prepared for. A lot of the agreement that it will be a tough 2009 in terms of jobs, especially for anything related to the consumer, that is auto dealers, and auto parts workers, and auto makers, housing, retail, department stores, restaurants, that will be jobs lost, and it will be a tough, tough for some of these sectors.
But in terms of the financial infrastructure, there is some hope that all of these things that the government has done is going to start to finally breathe some life back into the credit markets. And some of these indicators that we watched today, and I won't get too technical on you, but the TED (ph) spread and LIBOR, and some of these things, they are showing that there is a thawing happening there, Kyra.
PHILLIPS: All right, Christine Romans. Thank you so much. You can never get too technical. We're trying to keep up with it all.
We are also trying to keep up with the Big Board, right now. Let's take a look at that. The numbers, at this moment, the Dow industrials down 110 points. We are tracking that. We will take you back to heart of all of the action in just a minute at the New York Stock Exchange.
Speaking of action, things are about to get pretty heated in the newsroom, a leading bull locks horns with a leading bear. And, unfortunately, I will be right in the middle.
PHILLIPS: Live to Scranton, Pennsylvania, Sarah Palin talking to supporters. Let's listen in for a few minutes.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
GOV. SARAH PALIN (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: ... shouldn't have to worry about paying yet another tax.
John McCain has the backbone to confront the $100-trillion debt that the government has run up. And we will balance the federal budget by the end of our term.
A $10-trillion debt that we are expected to pass on to our kids and our grandkids, OK. That is not fair. That is not right. The federal government is in a hole. What do you do when you are in a hole and you don't want to be there? The first thing you do? You quit digging. We have to quit digging ourselves in this hole.
So how do we do that? As president first, John McCain will impose a spending freeze to cover all but the most vital functions of government like worker retraining, and taking care of our veterans.
In this great community, and in so many places like it across America, all that working people are asking for is for government to be on their side so that they can have a good job in their own hometown. A plant gate to walk through and a paycheck to count on.
With lower taxes and pro-growth agenda and spending under control in Washington, we are going to get this economy moving again. Americans cannot afford more tax increases, not at a time like this especially. Barack Obama voted 94 times for higher taxes. And 94 chances he had to, he had the opportunity to be on your side, an instead, he was on the other side voting for higher taxes, even on hardworking, middle-class individuals, making just $42,000 a year.
Now, taxes are already too high, and he wants to raise them. And government already spends too much, and now he is proposing nearly $1 trillion more in government growth.
America is deep in debt. We have to recognize this. We are deep in debt. And he will get us in deeper. Folks, in times like these, the last thing we need is a tax increase. America just can't afford another big spender in the White House.
PHILLIPS: Sarah Palin speaking live in Scranton, Pennsylvania. We have been following all of the presidential candidates and the VP running mates to bring you the most balanced political coverage this season.
We will take a quick break and be right back.
PHILLIPS: Stock jumps out to another dramatic start, with the Dow surging 400 points in early trading, but that optimism has since faded.
What is going on Susan Lisovicz?
SUSAN LISOVICZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we are seeing a selloff, Kyra. There is still a lot of nervousness in this market, no question about it. And one way it manifests itself is through huge swings in the major averages. As you said that the Dow was up 400 points in the early trading, but right now it is down nearly 150. That is for the Dow.
One rally that has held in check is financial stocks. And, of course, the government is spending billions of dollars to buy stock in nine leading banks. So shares of most of those companies are showing big gains. And Morgan Stanley share, right now, up 21 percent, after an 87 percent surge yesterday. Goldman Sachs shares meanwhile, are up nearly 12 percent. Citigroup and Bank of America leading the Dow.
But overall, the blue chips are in the red, down 122 points or 1.25 percent. The Nasdaq really hurting. It is down 3 percent. Intel reports after the bell, and its shares are down 6.5 percent -- Kyra.
PHILLIPS: But we haven't seen the massive losses like we did last week, so are we -- well, can we say we are out of the woods, but slowly heading out of the woods?
LISOVICZ: Well, this is the big debate, Kyra. You know, was it a one-day wonder? The bottom? Is it the bottom? And even when you do historically see bottoms, it does not mean it is full steam ahead. It is going to be very choppy. I think most folks agree upon that. Remember the three major averages are all down about 30 percent this year.
Even if the market does start to recover, even if the financial crisis eases, as we all hope it does, it doesn't mean the economy is doing OK. Today, Pepsi said it is cutting more than 3,000 jobs due to slow sales and falling profits. GMAC is limiting its auto financing, only to people with credit scores above 700.
Tomorrow, retail sales expected to tumble for the third straight month. Recession -- well, a lot of folks, a lot of economists say it is still inevitable. Macy's shares, by the way, ahead of those retail sales, reports are down 5 percent, Kyra. You get the picture.
PHILLIPS: Oh, I get the picture. And you know what, you bring up a very good point that I want to bring up with our next two guests. Hold on, take a listen to this with me. Will the government bailout work? Will the market stabilize? And will your nest egg grow? Well, it depends on who you ask.
So, let's get ready to rumble. Peter Schiff is with Euro-Pacific Capital and he's feeling bearish. Jeremy Siegel, from the University of Pennsylvania is our resident bull.
You guys were so wonderful last time. You had your opinions.
I don't know, I'm wondering, if Peter, maybe, might have some egg on his face. You said it is all gloom and doom. You're doctor doom, Peter. And then we saw this rally at 900 points, the Dow rose yesterday?
PETER SCHIFF, EURO-PACIFIC CAPITAL: Well, look, there are always rallies in bear markets. In fact, you have the most spectacular rallies in bear markets. But you know, Henry Paulson just said that this action from today is necessary, but unprecedented.
Unfortunately, he is wrong on both accounts. It is not necessary at all. And there is precedent for this type of monetary policy. They tried in Argentina. They tried in Weimar Republic, Germany. They are trying it in Zimbabwe right now.
I am holding in my hand, as you can see it, $100 billion Zimbabwe dollars and if I spend this money quickly, I might be able to get a pack of chewing gum. The government is leading us down the road of monetary ruin. Nobody's savings are safe now. They are going to go down the drain, because they are going to go down to have massive inflation.
PHILLIPS: Jeremy, what do you think of this? I mean, last Friday everybody thought that the sky was falling, it was all over with. Peter is still sticking with the doom and gloom.
JEREMY SIEGEL, WHARTON SCHOOL OF BUSINESS: Right. I mean, Peter, we are printing dollars, because people want to hold dollars. In Zimbabwe, they are just printing them to spend them and sending commodity prices up.
SCHIFF: That is what we are doing!
SIEGEL: We have had the commodity prices drop. So this bailout plan -- I mean we have more measures to take to be sure, but we need liquidity in the market. The world capitals are providing that liquidity. That is what the people want. And that is what will stabilize it. SCHIFF: Well, we don't need liquidity, we need savings. You know, credit comes from savings. You cannot replace legitimate savings by printing money. It does not work. It is not that simple. Unfortunately, we have blown our savings, so all of the spending has to stop. They cannot artificially inflate it by printing money.
SIEGEL: Peter, if savings was the only problem, why did Japan have the biggest crash over there? Why in 1989-1993 did the Nikkei go down 80 percent? It was the highest savings country in the world. China is -
SCHIFF: Yes, they still.
SIEGEL: China is the highest saving country in the world. It had a 70 percent decline in its stock market. That's not the only factor that makes the -
SCHIFF: But, Jeremy.
SIEGEL: That is not the only factor that makes the stocks go up or down.
SCHIFF: But Jeremy, look, there were still bubbles in those economies that had to be cleared. But those economies are fundamentally sound. Japan is fundamentally sound, so is China, America is a mess. We're a basket case. We're living off the productivity of the rest of the world.
PHILLIPS: But, Peter, we have had these swings in the free market for hundreds of years?
SCHIFF: No, no, we haven't - believe me we have had nothing like this. We were a free market economy for a long time, and that stopped a long time ago. You know, we went off the gold standard in 1971, and we haven't had a sound economy since.
SIEGEL: If you go -
SCHIFF: We have running up these tremendous debts, and obviously, we went off the deep end between 2000 and now, when we borrowed trillions of dollars, through this housing bubble. And the chickens are coming home the roost. We are broke. Unfortunately, the government is creating a far deeper crisis as they are trying to re- inflate our phony economy.
PHILLIPS: OK, Jeremy, answer the phony economy, answer the inflation issues.
SIEGEL: We don't have a phony economy. First of all, we have had stronger GDP growth over the last decade than the Japanese had.
SCHIFF: But it was fake.
PHILLIPS: Go ahead. Let Jeremy go ahead.
SIEGEL: The gold standard -- oh, god, I mean, that is a relic of the old times. We went off of that so we could provide liquidity and prevent the Great Depression.
SCHIFF: And it provided inflation, Jeremy.
SIEGEL: That's why this country went off it then.
SIEGEL: So, that's an argument that people had four or five decades ago, Peter.
SCHIFF: Jeremy, all we did was to provide inflation and our economy, our GDP growth was phony.
SIEGEL: It's not phony.
SCHIFF: It was consumption based on borrowing --
SIEGEL: It is the same techniques that are used by every country in the world, Peter.
SCHIFF: No, it is not. Jeremy, it's not.
PHILLIPS: You know what's interesting?
SCHIFF: Why do you think we have this crisis?
PHILLIPS: Guys, just listening to you, you know, you watch the numbers, the Dow industrials kind of going up and down, up and down. It is interesting to see how people respond, how the numbers respond when the two of you sit and talk about these issues. Which leads me to my question, Jeremy, and I'll get you both to give me a final thought on this. But we have heard all of these comparisons to Herbert Hoover. I mean, is it possible it could get that bad? I mean, we are talking food lines.
PHILLIPS: And that's coming up, I mean, John McCain compared Barack Obama to Hoover.
SIEGEL: No. It cannot. It is impossible to get that bad and that is exactly why we have deposit insurance. That is exactly why we have a Fed providing liquidity and that is exactly why we have a protection of the banks. Back in the 1930s we had thousands of banks fail, and millions of depositors lost every penny. That is why we had the Great Depression.
SIEGEL: There is no possibility off that happening again. SCHIFF: You could not be more wrong. During the Great Depression only about 2 percent of the money on deposit was lost. This time, it is all going to be completely wiped out. There is no protection. All the government has is a printing press. All they can do is insure that we can take it out, but they cannot insure we have to buy anything with it. The government is making the mistakes that we made in the 1930s, only they're making them bigger, and they are making them at a time where our economy is fundamentally less sound than it was. This could be every bit as bad as the 1930s, except and worse. And instead of the consumer prices falling, they will explode through the roof.
PHILLIPS: Jeremy, five seconds, Jeremy.
SIEGEL: We'll meet again in six months from now and see what actually happens.
PHILLIPS: All right, guys -
SCHIFF: All of my predictions have come true so far, so.
PHILLIPS: We're going to meet again in less than six months and I will book you for six months from now as well.
Jeremy Siegel, Peter Schiff, thanks guys.
SCHIFF: Thank you.
SIEGEL: Thank you.
PHILLIPS: My favorite bull and bear.
Fighting fires in California, we are going to show you how Santa Ana winds are conspiring with the heat and the dry air to make the job much, much tougher.
And decision day for Troy Davis. The Supreme Court finally weighs in on the Georgia death row inmate's appeal for a new trial.
PHILLIPS: Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger calls it a perfect storm of heat, dry air and intense winds. Those conditions are not exactly helping firefighters right now as they try to bat down three major wildfires ripping up the canyons in Southern California. The worst one is in the San Fernando Valley right now. Those fires blamed for two deaths and it has forced thousands of people from their homes already. Schwarzenegger has declared a state of emergency for L.A. and Ventura Counties.
The X factor there is the Santa Ana, of course. Their gusts can get up to near 60 to 70 miles an hour.
Chad Myers, I know you are keeping an eye on all of it for us.
CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: I am, Kyra.
I'm down here at the magic board. And I've fired up here, Google Earth. And there is a significant plume of smoke that has been coming out of the North L.A. Basin. I'm going to kind of get closer to you. Up to the Simi Valley, and here is the Sesnon and the Marek fires. But if I take this off now, take this smoke off, and leave the little fires on, and there you go. Now I can get a lot closer. And Google Earth won't break up on me.
And you can actually get all the way up to Topanga Canyon Road. And this is the 118 Freeway. And every one of these are hot spots being found by the satellites.
So the hot spots in all of the canyons on up here. And we add those pictures there, from I think her name was Joanie Fran. She had some of the pictures of the ponies being evacuated. It was right in that area right there. That was what was happening yesterday.
Now, let's take you down. Let's see what is going on -- and come, baby. Come on down here. And then take you down and zoom you out. Zoom you me out!
Dave? Zoom me out. There we go. Stop.
Then all of this dry air is coming out of the north and from the northeast. This is going to continue for the next couple of hours. But for the most part, we are almost done here. This is just about over for the wind. Good news there.
Now we take you down to the tropics. Here's Omar. Omar is a pretty strong storm. It is headed on up toward, maybe, could be a hurricane. As it gets right close to the BBI, all of these computer models, coming up toward the north, and toward the northeast.
And I love this board when it works great, Kyra, but sometimes I'm not in love.
PHILLIPS: I know, it's tough, but you did a great job rebounding there, Chad.
MYERS: Come on! Come on!
PHILLIPS: I'll tell you, sometimes you just have to talk to it.
MYERS: That's all right.
PHILLIPS: Well, there is just three weeks to go until election day, now. And one key swing state is now dealing with voter registration questions. People say that they were paid to sign on the dotted line more than once.
PHILLIPS: Election officials in Ohio's biggest county have asked prosecutors to investigate a group known as ACORN for voter registration fraud. This comes from testimony from individuals who say that they were pressured to fill dozens of new voter registration forms.
Duane Pohlman of our affiliate WEWS, has the story.
DUANE POHLMAN, WEWS REPORTER (voice-over): Freddie Johnson registered to vote a lot.
(on camera): How many times did you sign registration applications here?
FREDDIE JOHNSON, REPEAT REGISTRANT: 73 times.
POHLMAN (voice-over): The Cayuga County Board of Elections produced page after page of Johnson's registration applications. The reason? Johnson says the advocacy group, ACORN, kept asking ask him. So he signed an signed again.
JOHNSON: Some of the individuals that worked at ACORN, gave me, you know, cigarettes for a signature, or you know, a couple of dollars for a signature.
POHLMAN: Johnson's numerous registrations brought him before the board as the nation watched. And he was not alone. Three others were subpoenaed as well.
Christopher Barkley admits he filled out 13 registrations for ACORN, some with different addresses and middle names. I caught up with Barkley after detectives questioned him.
(on camera): Do you think you did something wrong here?
CHRISTOPHER BARKLEY, REPEAT REGISTRANT: No, I don't know. I don't think I did.
POHLMAN (voice-over): While Barkley and the others are in the spotlight, the real focus is on ACORN and how it gathered some 70,000 newly registered voters in Cayuga County alone.
KATY GALL, OHIO ACORN DIRECTOR: It's just absolutely ridiculous to take somebody like a Mr. Barkley, and try to make him a Boogeyman for trying to quote, unquote, trying to steal the election.
POHLMAN: Ohio ACORN director, Katy Gall denies widespread wrongdoing. ACORN worked with BOE, Gall says, and fired employees who registered Barkley and Johnson so many times.
GALL: Issues involving voter registrations are not voter fraud.
PHILLIPS: Well, Johnson said he was trying to pay the ACORN's solicitors collect sign registrations. But he didn't intend to vote more than once. ACORN officials have blamed lazy solicitors taking short cuts while trying to increase their number of signatures. At least a dozen states have accused ACORN of turning in fake voter registration forms over the past four years.
Well, more information now, on ACORN. The name stands for the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. And on it's 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 groups says that it has helped 1.7 million people register to vote since 2004.
Now, one of the states that everybody will be watching on election night is Colorado. The race there could go either way and now, a new dynamic. College kids are swelling the voter rolls, because their votes may not matter as much in their home states.
CNN's Dan Simon joins us now from Boulder. Dan, explain to us.
DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well hi, Kyra.
We should tell you first that right off the bat, that no Democrat in a presidential election has cracked more than 50 percent since 1964, and LBJ. But Obama is poised to make this a blue state.
The latest polls show him leading here by nine percentage points, that a few weeks ago this race was a dead heat. So we've been trying to understand why after all of this time, after so much history that this could suddenly become a Democratic state.
Well, undoubtedly it has to do with new voters. The Democrats have been a lot more successful in getting the new voters to their roles. They lead the Republicans in that effort by a three to one margin. And a lot of them are college students. Yesterday, we spent the day at the University of Colorado at Boulder. We spoke to students who changed their registration -- changed it from their home states, to register now in Colorado, because they knew here could have a greater impact.
Take a look at what a couple of them had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KATE ULRICH, UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO STUDENT: I didn't really know when I came here that it was such a battleground state. But I think that the student population has a good chance of swinging it to the Democratic vote.
ZACH PERKINS, UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO STUDENT: It's good to know that I have some kind of control actually in the election. Whereas opposed to if I were in state where my vote didn't necessarily make much of a difference.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SIMON: Well, Obama also has something going for him -- the Hispanic vote. Hispanic numbers have been growing here over the last few years. They now make up one fifth of Colorado's population and they back Obama by a about 70 percent, 30 percent margin for Obama.
But McCain, he has geography on the side. Other than Denver, where we are and the surrounding suburbs, most of this state is very red. And if McCain can get the base to come out on election day, it may keep the state in the red color -- Kyra.
PHILLIPS: All right. Dan Simon, live from Boulder.
They're (INAUDIBLE) for Obama by schlepping to Grandma's. Why are some people paying surprise visits to their grandparent's all of a sudden? It's all part of the Great Schelpp. You know we got to explain this one.
Moving quickly to execute a condemned man. After the Supreme Court rejects his unusual claim, Richard Cooey said he'd gained so much weight behind bars that lethal injection wouldn't work humanely. Well, the court didn't put it and Cooey was put to death about three hours ago. No problems reported by prison officials. Cooey was convicted of murdering two female college students in 1986.
Another condemned inmate finally gets his answer from the Supreme Court. No new trial. Troy Davis was convicted of killing a Georgia police officer. But a bunch of witnesses recanted and there has been global outcry to call off the execution. Rusty Dornin has been working this story for weeks now. And it was 7 of the 9, that recanted their story.
What happened? Did it not hold any weight?
RUSTY DORNIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, they claim that it was another man who actually killed Mark McPhail. That was the off duty Savannah policeman that was killed allegedly by Troy Davis.
What happened is, there has never been a court hearing that those witnesses have testified in. However, the execution was called off last year and those seven witnesses were allowed to testify before the Georgia Pardon and Parole Board. That board decide no clemency for Troy Davis at this point. They didn't feel that their testimony was credible enough.
So two hours before his execution, just two weeks ago, the Supreme Court did stop Troy Davis' execution. They wanted to decide whether they were going to consider his appeal. There was a celebration outside of course by his supporters outside the prison when that happened. Reverend Al Sharpton, you can see there, he was there. Now, we spoke to Sharpton right after that stay of execution as well as the sister of the victim.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REV. AL SHARPTON, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST: The only evidence that convicted him was not physical evidence. It was the evidence of witnesses who have now, seven of the nine recanted. Then how can you say that's enough to take a life?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANNELIE REAVES, SISTER OF SLAIN POLICE OFFICER: Very angry. I mean, it has been a long time. And it's not going fast, as I read somewhere. It's been 19 years. I think that's a long time. So we're ready for justice to be done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DORNIN: Now, that was the sister of the victim Mark McPhail. I spoke to his mother today. She says she's sort of numb from all of this. She hopes of course, that this will move forward. This has been long enough.
Meantime, I spoke to Troy Davis' sister. She says they are still fighting, they are hoping for a miracle. They are not going to stop. And of course, again, there has been an outcry from around the world about this. Bishop Desmond Tutu, former president Jimmy Carter have all gotten involved saying that they think that this should stopped and there should really be a court hearing about this. But it doesn't look like it's going to happen. So the death warrant may soon be signed and the execution will be rescheduled.
PHILLIPS: All right. We'll follow it. Thanks, Rusty.
Well, we're hearing more from a Florida Congressman caught up in a sex scandal. Yesterday, ABC reported that Democrat Tim Mahoney paid his ex-mistress $120,000, allegedly to keep her quiet and head off an harassment suit. Mahoney didn't directly address an affair today, but he admitted causing embarrassment and heartache to his family.
He insists that he didn't misuse any campaign funds and the House Ethics Committee is investigating. Mahoney holds the seat vacated by Mark Foley, who resigned over racy messages that he sent to teenaged pages.
It could be the answer to America's energy needs. We're going to tell you about a brewing battle over Arctic oil.
PHILLIPS: Oil prices down, airfares are not so much. What gives? Poppy Harlow is piloting our next "Energy Fix."
PHILLIPS: When oil prices were surging earlier this year, airlines repeatedly raised fees and cut back on capacity. But now oil prices are down and the economy is weak, and that is leaving airfares literally up in the air. CNNMoney.com's Poppy Harlow has our "Energy Fix" from New York.
Hey, Poppy. POPPY HARLOW, CNNMONEY.COM: Hey there, Kyra.
I searched for a ticket yesterday on an airline, and it was just as expensive as it was this summer, but right now oil is below $80 today, this summer it was near $150. So what gives? We asked the airlines -- you still have all of those fuel surcharges. A lot of people that we talked to at farecompare.com -- one of their experts says this is the oddest situation he has ever seen with the airline tickets. Oil is going down but the prices are staying the same.
So we have some tips out there for holiday travelers. The first is you want to shop around. If you see a reasonable price, you've got to take it. Don't count on cheaper fares in the future. Check a lot, the fares change all the time. The cheapest flights are going to be in the markets with the most competition, so check those ones that are serviced by discount airlines. Expect, though, expensive flights in those smaller regional airports where there is not a lot of competition.
And remember, these carriers added big fuel surcharges this summer. Some were even charging you for a Coke on board. Should they get away with that or not? (INAUDIBLE) says they have cut those fuel charges to Europe by as much as 18 percent, but the domestic surcharges still remain -- Kyra.
PHILLIPS: All right. Poppy Harlow, thanks so much.
A battle brewing at the top of the world. Experts say billions of barrels of oil lie buried beneath the Arctic Ocean. Getting it could have a big impact on the economy, but at what cost to the environment?
Lisa Ling explains in today's "Planet in Peril."
LISA LING, JOURNALIST: I'm Lisa Ling in the Alaskan Arctic, freezing my fanny off. This is considered to be the top of the world in some cases, certainly it's the top of the continental U.S. And this is ground zero in the conflict over offshore drilling. What lays beneath the surface of the ocean here could potentially be a tremendous, tremendous supply of oil. And when you hear the phrase, "drill baby drill," this is what they are talking about.
Shell Oil has already made a huge investment and is banking on the fact that what lies beneath the surface of the ocean here could potentially alleviate our reliance on foreign oil.
The indigenous community up here has been relying on this ocean for centuries. They essentially live off of the bowhead whale population. And they are afraid that if Shell is able to start drilling up here, it could alter the migration patterns of the bowhead whales and destroy the communities that survive off of the ocean. So there is a huge, huge battle brewing here.
And you can see more of it on "Planet in Peril in December.
PHILLIPS: Lisa Ling, thank you so much.
And they're not just stumping for Obama, they're schlepping for him. Young people heeding an Internet call to visit grandma and grandpa, not for some home cooking, though, but for some political mind changing.
How many times have we seen and heard from these guys? Is voter fatigue setting in as the race for the White House heads into our final weeks. Carol Costello with a unique look at that.
PHILLIPS: Would it kill you to visit us once in a while? Grandkids hear that from grandma and grandpa all of the time, but not in Florida. Some senior voters are suddenly getting surprise visits ahead of Election Day.
Our John Zarrella says it is all part of the great schlep.
JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Mike Bender is a schlepper, and proud of it. The Los Angeles writer answered a YouTube challenge.
SARAH SILVERMAN, COMEDIAN: I am making this video to urge you, all of you, to schlep over to Florida --
ZARRELLA: The organization, Jews Vote, enlisted comic, Sarah Silverman, to pitch their great schlep. The plan -- get young Jews to schlep, meaning drag themselves to Florida and sell their grandparents on voting for Barack Obama.
MIKE BENDER, SCHLEPING FOR OBAMA: Their reaction was -- they said that I am a little mushugga (ph). I think --
ZARRELLA (on camera): Crazy?
BENDER: -- was the expression that they used.
ZARRELLA (voice-over): There are about 650,000 Jews living in Florida, generally most vote Democrat, but many, especially seniors, are unsure of Obama's commitment to Israel.
Bender's grandparents, Kenny and Selma Furst --
SELMA FURST, HAD DOUBTS ABOUT OBAMA: UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, gosh, this is wonderful.
ZARRELLA: -- had other reservations as well.
S. FURST: Somebody said to me, well, what do you object about him? I said, well, truthfully, I -- our colors are different.
ZARRELLA: But what Mike didn't know was that his many phone conversations advocating Obama had paid off before he walked in the door.
(on camera): Do you think you're going to vote for Obama now?
KENNY FURST, HAD DOUBTS ABOUT OBAMA: Not think.
ZARRELLA: You're convinced now?
K. FURST: I'm convinced.
S. FURST: I'm kind of changing my old mind and saying to myself, you know, people are people.
ZARRELLA (voice-over): His grandparents, now on board, Mike moved on to their friends. First, the beauty salon where his grandma does nails. Here, too, the issue was race.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I go to the poll, and I hear all of the gossip. And a lot of it -- we don't want a black president. I said, but you don't want a senile president.
ZARRELLA: The schlep was the talk of his grandparents' retirement community, so much so a crowd of more than 100 packed a ballroom to hear his pitch.
BENDER: His love for the United States is similar to that of the generation of Jewish immigrants.
ZARRELLA: By the time he was done --
UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: Yes we can! Yes we can!
ZARRELLA: For Mike Bender, schlep accomplished.
(on camera): Organizers say 100 schleppers made it to Florida over the holiday weekend, and another 100 went to other battleground states. There are even plans now to translate the schlep video into Spanish.
John Zarrella, CNN, Tamarac, Florida.
PHILLIPS: OK. Seems like we've been at this race for the White House for years now. Well actually we have, one or two anyway. And a lot of voters are just tired of it.
Here is CNN's Carol Costello.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Will the real Sarah Palin please stand up?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The bridge to nowhere --
JAY LENO, LATE NIGHT TALK SHOW HOST: And Barack Obama has bought a half hour of air time -- CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Just 21 days until the big day, Election Day, and the political noise is inescapable. Ads, news, cable, the web, even entertainment shows like "The Insider" --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is Sarah Palin getting her own primetime show?
COSTELLO: And "Access Hollywood" are covering the McCain/Palin, Biden/Obama drama.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am worn out by this presidential election. I want it to be over with.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People are tired, they're frustrated -- (INAUDIBLE) -- the things that they're going through.
COSTELLO: 2008 may go down as the most emotionally draining elections of all time. Political observers say it has forced voters to think about racism, sexism and ageism at a time Americans are standing on the edge of an economic cliff wondering if they will fall off.
(on camera): So when you go into the voting booth on November 4th and you pull the lever, how will you feel?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Relieved. Relieved.
COSTELLO: For that voter O-B-A-M-A will spell relief. But for some conservative voters it will spell d-o-o-m.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am mad. I am really mad. It is time that you two are representing us, and we are mad!
COSTELLO: Analysts say his anger is in part fear. Republicans have either held the White House, or controlled Congress since 1994. Drew Westen is author of "The Political Brain: and a Democratic consultant.
DREW WESTEN, AUTHOR, "THE POLITICAL BRAIN": What we're really seeing on the right right now is a mixture of fear and anxiety. The fear is, is Obama really someone we can trust? And the anger and the hatred that have gotten elicited are really that -- he is really not one of us.
COSTELLO: In Detroit, Michigan, some African-American voters feel fear, too. This voter told me she is undecided and is afraid to talk about it because of ugly rumors.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't want to say, because I heard about someone getting shot over their presidential choice.
COSTELLO: Other voters desperately want to hear how the candidates will solve the country's problems. But with all of the noise, it is hard.
HENRY KRZYSTOWCZYK, MICHIGAN VOTER: You cannot determine what is fact and what is rhetoric. I feel that if -- when I do vote, I won't have that feeling that I voted for right candidate. There will always be a doubt, because I don't know.
COSTELLO: Analysts say election 2008 will only get more intense. Three weeks to go, can you handle it?
COSTELLO: I don't know. You know the biggest fear, Kyra, people have now is election '08 will drag into 2009, you know with the lawsuits and voter fraud accusations. I think that would really send people over the edge.
PHILLIPS: Are people really that bored with all of this? I thought everything was just getting exciting and it's a really close race and there's all this controversy still.
COSTELLO: The only people I talked with who are still excited about this are young people, because, of course, they don't have the economic problems that we older folks do, so they are carefree and they're still excited and they're still interested. But older people say, enough already, I just want my problem solved and it is time to move on.
PHILLIPS: Carol Costello, if we could only solve everybody's problems, including our own.
PHILLIPS: We're almost there -- 21 days.
All right, Carol, thanks.
More from the CNN NEWSROOM straight ahead.
PHILLIPS: Barack Obama's skin color -- it's a concern for the Democratic candidate's supporters as they try to win over those still undecided voters. The AFL-CIO is out with a campaign actually to try to change the minds of some white voters who say they won't vote for an African-American.
Gerry McEntee, who is leading the effort in Ohio, says he doesn't think it's actually an issue of racism. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GERALD MCENTEE, PRESIDENT, AFSCME: I don't think they're racists. But I think it's -- for many of them, many of them, it is a brand new experience. They have never really voted for an African- American, a black man or woman, in terms of a governor's seat. They certainly have not voted for a black man or woman for president of the United States. And it is kind of an anxiety that sits out there. It is a brand new experience for them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIPS: And, as you can imagine, we got a lot of e-mails regarding this issue. A number of them here coming across actually the computer as we speak. That interview triggered a lot of responses.
Joe writes: "I feel black people still have resentment toward white people of slavery and for the inequalities that they have been put through. Having a black president will be revenge for them."
Mr. B. wrote this: "Why is no one addressing the fact that thousands of people will vote for Obama simply because he is black? Not because of his platform or moral or beliefs. We need a good president regardless of his skin color."
And Cynthia had this to say: "I would not vote for a black man for the same reasons. I would not vote for a man or a woman of any color because I felt they were not the right person for the job. My hope is that the majority of people don't vote for or against someone because of their race or gender."
And Gary writes: "I'm a white male allowing prejudice to influence my vote. I'm voting for a black man for president because I'm fed up with white presidents running our country into the ground."
Thanks to the hundreds of you that e-mailed us.
Stay tuned for Rick Sanchez now as he continues right here in the CNN NEWSROOM.