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Clinton and Obama Together Again; Powell Endorses Obama

Aired October 20, 2008 - 20:00   ET


CAMPBELL BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Campbell Brown with today's political headlines from the CNN ELECTION CENTER. Not really.
Actually, we're going to start off on a different note. Two weeks, that is only a handful of days left in the marathon race to the White House. This is the final, urgent sprint to the finish line. John McCain and Sarah Palin are desperately hunting for that big breakout moment, something, pretty much anything, to turn the tide at this stage of the game, this as Barack Obama and Joe Biden try to harness the big mo', the big momentum.

They cannot let anything slow them down, which is why they're now rolling out the big guns. It has been four months since we last saw Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama together. There she is, as you can see, with him in Florida, a key state. Together, they are doing the Democratic equivalent of the happy dance. Take a listen.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Hillary! Hillary! Hillary! Hillary! Hillary!

AUDIENCE: Hillary! Hillary! Hillary! Hillary!



BROWN: As for any lingering doubts about Bill Clinton's commitment to supporting Obama, again, the big guns of the Democratic Party trying to blast a path to victory.

This is the former president in Nevada, another key showdown state.


BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We can't lose this election unless people forget what it's about in the last two weeks. Otherwise, it's going to be a big victory.


BROWN: But some of this pretty tricky to read.

A CNN/Opinion Research poll came out just this afternoon. It shows McCain and Palin closing the gap, actually. Obama has a five- point lead among likely voters, 51 percent to 46 percent. In early October, Obama's lead was eight points, 53 percent to 45 percent.

But, remember, that's a national poll. And this late in the race, the critical thing to keep an eye on is the Electoral College. And that is why it comes down to those all-important showdown states, which is precisely where John McCain and Sarah Palin are today.

He is in Missouri. She is in Colorado. They're hitting Obama as hard as they can, but they have both got a pretty big problem right now. You probably heard that Colin Powell endorsed Obama this weekend, crushing news for McCain, not only because they have been friends for 30 years, but because, also, Powell was so critical of McCain's negative campaign and of his choice of Sarah Palin.

We're going to talk about all of that tonight.

But, first, we are cutting through the bull.

Today, Democratic vice presidential candidate Senator Joe Biden released his medical records. Overall, he is in good health, although the records do detail his treatment back in 1988 for two brain aneurysms, a very serious condition. Dr. Sanjay Gupta is going to be here shortly to tell us more about Biden's health.

My question, though, tonight is for all the candidates. Why are you being so cagey and so careful with this information? This is the stuff that voters really need to know. And it is time for the presidential and vice presidential candidates to be a lot more forthcoming.

Let's start with Senator McCain. At 72 years old, if he wins this election, he will be the oldest man ever sworn in for his first term as president. He survived four bouts of melanoma. Last spring, his campaign invited just a handful of select reporters to view some 1,100 pages, 1,100-plus pages, of medical records.

But reporters were only given three hours to go through more than 1,100 pages of documents. And some of that information raised new questions. Now, to McCain's credit, he has been more forthcoming than any of the other candidates, but it is not enough.

Senator Obama, he's released almost nothing, just a one-page note from his doctor saying he's in excellent health and some basic test results from past checkups. I mean, sure, he's a young guy. He looks healthy. But so did John F. Kennedy, and he had serious health issues. Voters have a right to a full and thorough vetting.

Senator Biden today gave us an lot more information than Obama, but he, too, left out some important details that raise questions about his health.

As for Governor Palin, she has released nothing, no medical information at all. So, from Governor Palin, basically, anything would be helpful.

Look, I get why they wouldn't want to release this information. It's intrusive. It is personal. It's very intimate stuff. If it were me, I wouldn't want my medical records made public. But I'm not running for anything. And the American people should have the right to know everything there is to know about the health and personal vitality of our next president and vice president.

We're expecting these people to not only be around for the next four years, but to be at the top of their game.

To all the candidates, you may all be in great shape. You may all be in the best of health. But, based on how little you have been willing to tell us, how can we be sure?

We turn now to our top story, the rush for the swing states that will decide the election.

And the members of the best political team on TV are on the ground watching for us. Our Ed Henry is there in Colorado.

We are going to start, though, with our senior political correspondent Candy Crowley, who is in Florida.

Our latest poll of polls showing that Obama has a three-point lead there, and today he also had Hillary Clinton at his side.

Let's listen.

OK. Apparently, we don't have that sound bite, Candy. We will come back to it later. But let's talk about another issue. Barack Obama got a big shot of momentum from Colin Powell over the weekend, when he endorsed Obama. How do they harness that? How are they trying to take that and move forward over the coming days?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we do know from Obama, himself, that Colin Powell declined to come campaign for him, saying, "I'm not a politician."

But Barack Obama is only too happy and has told the crowds that he saw today that Colin Powell did indeed endorse him. Listen, this is something that's going to be very hard to measure. And the Obama camp knows that. But they do believe that a high-profile Republican who was George Bush's secretary of state endorsing Barack Obama, a man with super credentials in the foreign policy, military arena, does help, perhaps, with those people who are sitting back thinking, well, you know, maybe Barack Obama doesn't have enough experience to be commander in chief.

And along comes Colin Powell and endorses him. So, they think it might be helpful around the edges, but they know that, in the end, this is about the candidate, and that's why they intend to have him out here pretty hard for the next two weeks.

BROWN: And, Candy, I know this Florida trip -- we mentioned a moment ago, he is there with Hillary Clinton -- this isn't a one-day thing for Obama. He's going to stick around tomorrow. Michelle Obama will be joining him there. How crucial is Florida to him right now? How much emphasis are they putting on trying to turn out those early voters? CROWLEY: The early vote is really key. His strategists tell me that what they believe they can do is run up the score, because he comes to these rallies. He gets people all jazzed up and says, now, go to vote. Go do the early voting, because you never can tell what's going to happen on Election Day. Your alarm might be late, whatever it is. Go and vote now.

And they believe they can really run up the score with the kind of excitement that Obama generates. He's bringing Michelle down, as you mentioned. He's bringing Bill Richardson, governor of New Mexico, down to court the Latino vote.

BROWN: Right.

CROWLEY: So, it's very important to them. They have spent $15 million more than John McCain here. They also have many more staffers on the ground.

What's interesting is that, as you said, Obama has a three-point edge. That John McCain is still standing tells you pretty much that the McCain campaign is not out of this race yet in Florida.

CROWLEY: Candy Crowley for us tonight -- Candy, thanks.

The Republicans are in two must-win states. As we mentioned before, John McCain spent the day in Missouri, where our poll of polls shows him two points ahead. Sarah Palin in Colorado, where the Republicans trail by six points.

Ed Henry is traveling with her. He is reporting from there, as well, from Grand Junction.

Ed, I just want to get your initial reaction. We are going to talk more about the Colin Powell endorsement a little bit later, but how is the McCain campaign responding?

ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: The McCain camp is being very careful not to disrespect General Powell.

John McCain himself is basically saying: Look, I respect him, known him a long time. I'm disappointed, but I have a lot of other former secretaries of state on board.

But the fact of the matter is, we know that this is a big one. You know, they're not going to admit it publicly, that this was a blow to John McCain. He wanted this endorsement. And it's about what it does for Barack Obama. It gives him so much credibility on national security issues, that it's a big, big blow to the McCain camp.

But they don't want disrespect Powell, so they're letting outside Republicans do it, raise questions about Colin Powell's motives, but you're certainly not going to hear that from John McCain. But what you will hear is basically the McCain camp moving forward, is going to keep saying, look, maybe elite Republicans, maybe Republican insiders in Washington are going with Barack Obama, but the Joe the plumbers, the average folks who are hurt by the economy behind me here in Grand Junction, Colorado, they're with McCain/Palin -- Campbell.

BROWN: All right, Ed, Senator McCain also picked up on a comment from Joe Biden last night. Biden said that the next president would face a crisis, he believed, in the first six months. Let's listen.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: If Senator Obama is elected, Senator Biden said we will have an international crisis to test America's new president.

We don't want a president who invites testing from the world at a time when our economy is in crisis...


MCCAIN: ... and Americans are already fighting in two wars.


BROWN: Ed, John McCain going back to the experience argument that seemed to work for him back in August. That, of course, was before the Palin pick. Is this going to be the closing argument that we see the campaign go back to?

HENRY: Yes. McCain aides say this will be one of their closing arguments to come back to: Barack Obama is not ready to be commander in chief.

But, as you noted, the problem for John McCain, this argument was working for him in late August. He was basically ahead in this race after the crisis in Georgia with Russia. He's basically saying, look, we're going to be tested like this in 2009. Obama won't be ready.

But John McCain had to give up that argument in September and the beginning of October because Sarah Palin didn't have the experience. Now he's going back to it. It might be a little bit late, Campbell.

BROWN: Ed Henry for us tonight -- Ed, thanks.

So, while John McCain and Sarah Palin are playing catchup, Colin Powell's remarks this weekend could be devastating for both of them, Powell's criticism very powerful. You are going to hear it. And we will look at what brought him to this point.

Also, Sarah Palin's star turn on "Saturday Night Live," what did it do for the campaign? Did it help? Did it hurt?

We will talk about that.


BROWN: By now, you have heard the big political news of the weekend, Colin Powell's endorsement of Barack Obama. Everybody is talking about what it will mean for Obama's campaign. But you may not realize how devastating his comments were, not just for John McCain and his campaign, but, basically, for the entire Republican Party.

Let's listen to some of what Powell had to say.


COLIN POWELL, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: In the case of Mr. McCain, I found that he was a little unsure as to deal with the economic problems that we were having, and almost every day, there was a different approach to the problem.

And that concerned me. I got the -- sensing that he didn't have a complete grasp of the economic problems that we had.

And I was also concerned at the selection of Governor Palin. She's a very distinguished woman, and she's to be admired. But at the same time, now that we have had a chance to watch her for some seven weeks, I don't believe she's ready to be president of the United States, which is the job of the vice president.

And so that raised some question in my mind as to the judgment that Senator McCain made.

On the Obama side, I have watched Mr. Obama, and I watched him during this seven-week period. And he displayed a steadiness, an intellectual curiosity, a depth of knowledge and an approach to looking at problems like this and picking a vice president that, I think, is ready to be president on day one, and also, in not just jumping in and changing every day, but showing intellectual vigor.

I think that he has a definitive way of doing business that would serve us well. I also believe that, on the Republican side, over the last seven weeks, the approach of the Republican Party and Mr. McCain has become narrower and narrower.

Mr. Obama, at the same time, has given us a more inclusive, broader reach into the needs and aspirations of our people. He's crossing lines --ethnic lines, racial lines, generational lines. He's thinking about all villages have values, all towns have values, not just small towns have values.

And I have also been disappointed, frankly, by some of the approaches that Senator McCain has taken recently, or his campaign ads, on issues that are not really central to the problems that the American people are worried about.

This Bill Ayers situation that's been going on for weeks became something of a central point of the campaign. But Mr. McCain says that he's a washed-out terrorist. But then, why do we keep talking about him?

And why do we have these robocalls going on around the country, trying to suggest that, because of this very, very limited relationship that Senator Obama has had with Mr. Ayers, somehow, Mr. Obama is tainted?

What they're trying to connect him to is some kind of terrorist feelings. And I think that's inappropriate.


BROWN: That was Colin Powell on NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday.

Joining me now to talk about what this means for both campaigns, frankly, we are going to bring in Gloria Borger, CNN senior political analyst and columnist for "U.S. News & World Report," Roland Martin, CNN political contributor, syndicated columnist and national radio commentator, who says he is voting for Barack Obama, and Kevin Madden, Republican strategist, former Romney national press secretary, and a McCain supporter.

Gloria, let me start with you.

Colin Powell, you just heard there, pretty much throwing down the gauntlet to his fellow Republicans, saying that the party is no longer a big tent, that it's scaring people away. That's a pretty strong indictment for a guy who I think is one of the most popular Republicans, certainly a moderate Republican, but certainly one of the most popular in the country.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, and the reason that this is going to have a lot of resonance, I think, is because Colin Powell is not regarded as just another politician.

When Joe Lieberman crossed over and supported John McCain, he's a politician. In the last election, when Democratic Senator Zell Miller supported George W. Bush, just another politician.

Colin Powell is regarded in a very different way. And what he did, as you said, Campbell, was not just say, OK, Obama's my guy. He gave an indictment of the way McCain has run this campaign, of his judgment in choosing Sarah Palin, and also of his own party.

And, in talking to Democrats today -- I have to quote you -- one Democrat said to me that Colin Powell is -- and I quote -- "the letter of transit for undecided voters to get out of Casablanca," which means they can now be reassured and go vote for Obama. He thinks it's real important.

BROWN: And, Kevin, you know, he said all this unprompted. This was not after a barrage of questions. He really sort of laid it all out there on his own. How problematic is that?

KEVIN MADDEN, FORMER ROMNEY CAMPAIGN NATIONAL PRESS SECRETARY: Well, look, I don't think that many Republicans like myself look to Colin Powell as some sort of ideological lodestar for any of the problems that we have in our party.

Instead, I think that Gloria makes the more important point, that essentially Colin Powell has always served as a proxy of sorts for the Republican Party's ability to reach out to many conservative Democrats, many like-minded independents, in order to build a broader coalition of voters around the issues of economic conservatism and national security.

And the fact that -- that Colin Powell has now endorsed Barack Obama is emblematic of the challenges that we face as a party going forward.

BROWN: Roland, Rush Limbaugh said today, this is about race. That's all it's about.

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I think I will quote Al Franken when talking about Rush Limbaugh as a stupid, fat idiot.

Here's the problem, Campbell, that I have with this. People like Rush Limbaugh, and Pat Buchanan, and George Will, they have praised Colin Powell over all these years for being race-neutral, for being somebody who they can look to differently than other African- Americans. They have embraced him.

Now, all of a sudden, they have thrown out the fact that he was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, thrown out the fact that he's a general, a four-star general, thrown out national security adviser, secretary of state. All of sudden, oh, no, because he's black.

Colin Powell gave one of the most thoughtful, meticulous endorsements of any candidate, and laid it all out very methodically. And it is an insult for people like Rush Limbaugh and Buchanan and Will and others to somehow say, oh, it's only because he's black.

No. This guy has observed four U.S. presidents up close. I think he has a much better idea of who can occupy the Oval Office than Rush Limbaugh ever could.

BROWN: Kevin, this is going to sound like a pretty obvious question here, but you're looking at the polls. We're two weeks out, essentially. What does the McCain campaign have to do at this point?

MADDEN: Well, look, again, the McCain campaign has to make the argument about John McCain's experience. They have to make the argument about the contrasts, given the different directions that each of these candidates would take -- you know, would take the country in a different direction.

You know, the contrasts are so stark here, whether it's the personality, whether it's the politics, whether it's the direction of the country that -- that -- the direction of the country that each one of these would take.

So, John McCain has to say that -- make sure that the American voter, when they go into that voting booth on Election Day, that they know Barack Obama is going to offer more taxes, he's going to offer a less secure national security posture, and that that would take the country in the wrong direction, whereas John McCain is going to offer lower taxes and he's going to offer stronger national security.


BROWN: Hold on, Kevin, because you know you have heard a lot of Republicans say that the choice of Sarah Palin undermined that argument, the experience argument.

MADDEN: And that is why I have always argued that this is about the top of the ticket, not the bottom of the ticket.

I will concede that point, that, when John McCain goes out there and makes that experience argument, the readiness argument, he can't really make it for Sarah Palin, the way he can make it for himself.


BORGER: That's why Powell's endorsement was so powerful, because Powell represents experience, as you were saying, with a multitude of presidents, right, in a variety of national security and foreign policy roles.

MARTIN: Absolutely.

BORGER: And he's just given the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval to Barack Obama, which means a lot to soft Obama supporters and also independent voters.

BROWN: And, quickly, Roland.

MARTIN: Well, look, the bottom line is, as he laid it out, he also talked about temperament and generational issues. The fact that Obama comes from Generation Jones, he has a foothold in baby boomers, a foothold in Generation X. He's able to bring a different world view. He is not coming there with a 1960s view or a Cold War view.

Powell liked the ability of what Obama brings in terms of his thinking to the position as also critical, I think, for the next president.

BROWN: All right, guys. Hang with me. We are going to talk to you again in just a little bit.

A little bit later tonight, we have got an eye-opening interview with Sarah Palin that was done by the Christian Broadcasting Network. She says that the media has been attacking her faith. You are going to want to hear this for yourself.

Also ahead, our Tom Foreman has been digging deeper into the Colin Powell story. What made him turn his back on a long friendship with John McCain?

Also, later, Joe Biden released his medical records today, but not really full disclosure. Our Sanjay Gupta tells us what we really need to know.


BROWN: Here we are, just two weeks now from the election, and only now are Senator Joe Biden's medical records being released to the public, and only 49 pages of them, at that. There is more, believe it or not. Doctors say that Biden is in excellent health, even though he did survive a life-threatening aneurysm 20 years ago.

We want to turn to CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

And I read that it was actually two aneurysms that he survived, Sanjay. What kind of shape is Senator Biden in, based on what you saw of those records? Any surprises?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: There really weren't any surprises. And -- but you also got the sense that we weren't being told everything, only 49 pages for this -- for this man who probably has a much more extensive medical history.

The biggest thing, obviously, these aneurysms, as you mentioned, Campbell, these were quite serious. I mean, one was leaking apparently the entire time he was running for president 20 years ago. And it was so profound that eventually he went to the doctor and they had to do emergency surgery. A priest read him his last rites. This was pretty serious stuff.

He had a blood clot that flipped off and went into his lungs at that point as well. So, he was in pretty serious condition 20 years ago. But it sounds like, since then, he has had no troubles with these aneurysms.

As far as his overall medical history, the things that people sometimes ask about, his cholesterol levels seem like they're pretty good. You're taking a look at some of the aneurysm pictures right there. He's had an atrial fibrillation heartbeat in the past. He has prostate cancer screenings, as men of his age do. Those appear normal.

He does take several different medications, as well, including an aspirin, which sounds like a pretty trivial medication, but it's used as a blood thinner in his case, Zocor for his cholesterol. He takes Flomax for his prostate.

These are the things that they release to us, Campbell. This is the sort of information that we get.

BROWN: And, Sanjay, just on the question of the aneurysms, I had read today that there was some concern that there were no -- there was no information released about follow-up testing to get a sense for whether there was, I guess, the possibility of something, a condition like this coming back?

GUPTA: That's right.

And that was a little bit surprising. As a neurosurgeon, I can tell you that, typically, after these operations are performed, people get follow-up tests to make sure that the aneurysm has not come back at that particular location. It's unlikely for it to do so, but you get the tests. You sort of think of a blood vessel and a little blister on that blood vessel. A clip is put across that to try and clip that aneurysm. Could it come back? It can, in a small percentage of cases. But we saw no evidence that he had any follow-up tests.

We asked specifically the doctors who were presenting these medical records to us. They say, well, we think he's fine, but we don't have any evidence of tests either. So, that remains a sort of big question mark, I think, from a neurosurgical perspective.

But, again, it's fair to point out that he's had no problems, at least according to his medical records, since 20 years ago.

BROWN: And, Sanjay, you know, generally, having scoured all this, it's still, like you said, I think, a pretty cursory report overall.

Why do you think -- and this is a question I asked at the top of the show -- you got to look at McCain's medical records as well. You were one of the few reporters who was given access to them. Why are they so protective. Why are they being so cagey with this stuff?

GUPTA: It's interesting.

We did a whole documentary about this, as you know, Campbell. I really think it comes down to three reasons. One is that they don't have to. There is no mandate that says candidates or presidents, for that matter, have to release any medical records, which is different than sometimes corporate CEOs or pilots or people who are responsible for the lives of a lot of other people, which is sort of surprising.

The second reason is, it could be -- there could be something embarrassing in there, not prohibitive from being fit to lead, but just embarrassing. And the third thing could be that there might be something that just could be damaging. And we just never know that information.

It was true with Kennedy, for example, in retrospect. He looked young and vibrant.

BROWN: Sure.

GUPTA: But, we find out, years later, he had so many medical problems.

BROWN: That's such a good point.

Sanjay Gupta for us tonight -- Sanjay, as always, thanks.

GUPTA: Thanks, Campbell.

BROWN: Coming up: Sarah Palin's debut on "Saturday Night Live," did it help at all? Did it hurt her campaign? What did you think? Was it just plain funny? We will talk about that.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BROWN: Later on, Sarah Palin accuses the media of mocking her religious faith. It's part of an eye-opening one-on-one interview you'll see here tonight. But first, Jason Carroll has tonight's "Briefing" -- Jason.

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thanks, Campbell. Closing arguments are scheduled for tomorrow in Senator Ted Stevens' corruption trial. Prosecutors wrapped up their case by asking the veteran Alaska Republican about various gifts he received and if he reported all of them. Investigators say the senator failed to report $250,000 in home renovations, paid for by an energy company.

Washington starting to talk about a new economic stimulus plan. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke told Congress today that the new stimulus plan is the right idea, and lawmakers should approve it soon to boost consumer spending. However, Bernanke predicts the economy may not rebound for several months.

Police in Paris say hackers helped themselves to the French president's online bank account. A Paris newspaper reports the thieves wiped President Nicolas Sarkozy's account information, logged in, and withdrew money.

And police in suburban Cincinnati busted an 89-year-old woman who got upset after a neighbor's football landed in her yard. Edna Jester took the ball and would not return it, so she was booked for petty theft. If convicted, she could go to jail for six months and pay a $1,000 fine. Jester says she has been constantly complaining about balls landing in her yard and was trying to teach those kids a lesson.

Boy, those street kids.

BROWN: Thanks. Jason Carroll for us tonight -- Jason.

CARROLL: All right.

BROWN: Colin Powell did a lot more than endorse Barack Obama this weekend. He also delivered a pretty devastating blow to John McCain and to the Republican Party. Coming up, how Powell arrived at this decision.

Also, Sarah Palin opens up about her interview with CBS's Katie Couric. Why does Palin think it went so badly? Take a listen.


GOV. SARAH PALIN (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I guess my being such an outsider from the Washington elite and the media elite is the questions that she was asking me were, I kept thinking, why aren't you asking me things that really, really matter right now?



BROWN: When Colin Powell endorsed Barack Obama yesterday, it was a political bombshell, but for Powell this was intensely personal. He turned his back on a 25-year friendship with John McCain and endorsed a man who wants to end a war that tarnished Powell's legacy.

So why now? Why this late in the game? How did he come to the decision? Tom Foreman has been digging into all of this for us today.

And, Tom, tell us what you got.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Campbell, you're absolutely right. Colin Powell right now may be Washington's biggest man of mystery. Precisely, why did he jump into this race with an endorsement when he could have easily sat out avoiding any kind of controversy and enjoying a lot of public approval long into the future? Well, many political analysts are suggesting as they read the tea leaves maybe the answer is in the past.


FOREMAN (voice-over): Armed with a military experience and honors from a lifetime of service as secretary of state, Colin Powell privately opposed the Iraq war then publicly made the case for it.

COLIN POWELL, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: We cannot shrink from the responsibilities of dealing with a regime that has gone about the development, acquiring stocking of weapons of mass destruction.

FOREMAN: Powell was stung by critics when it turned out that some of his justifications were not backed up by facts. And now, he clearly sees endorsing Barack Obama as a way to bring a proper end to a war he admits went wrong for a long time, even though he says it's going better now.

POWELL: I hope now that this war would be brought to an end, at least as far as American involvement is concerned. And the Iraqis are going to have to be responsible for their own security and for their own political future.

FOREMAN: But there is more. Powell is a Republican rock star, wildly popular with the public and politicians alike. When the GOP talked about Powell for president in 1995, it was a serious discussion.

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: He has always been a person who's been measured in his views. He has not been off on the fringes anywhere. He's a person that works easily with the other side. And I think he speaks with a kind of authority and a moral authority about public affairs that people have come to feel, I trust him.

FOREMAN: But Powell makes it clear he has suffered a growing disillusionment with the GOP. He believes the party is mishandling big issues like the economy, focusing on petty political bickering, and spending too much time dividing, not uniting voters.

POWELL: We have got to stop this kind of nonsense, pull ourselves together, and remember that our great strength is in our unity and in our diversity.


FOREMAN: Powell says he still respects his old friend John McCain and that this decision to endorse Barack Obama was a painful one, but he made it. Some Republicans are furious. Some Democrats are delighted. In the end, however, the result is one more surprise, a very surprising campaign, a Democratic endorsement from one of the most popular Republicans.

BROWN: Wow. All right. It has been one of the big surprises, Tom Foreman. Thanks for that, Tom.

FOREMAN: Appreciate it.

BROWN: Over the weekend, we saw a very different side of Sarah Palin than the one she presents out on the campaign trail. Well, coming up, Palin's guest appearance on "Saturday Night Live" and why "SNL"'s Amy Poehler hit the "Bulls-Eye."


BROWN: Tonight we are launching a segment we call "Bull's-Eye" to showcase someone who makes us talk, think, or even laugh, or somebody who just nailed it. Over the weekend, Amy Poehler of "Saturday Night Live" hit the "Bull's-Eye" big time, rapping and spoofing Sarah Palin while the candidate sat at the "Weekend Update" desk swaying, jamming and grinning. Fourteen million viewers tuned in, the show's best ratings in 14 years.

Erica Hill is here to show us the unforgettable moments.

ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And they were many actually, weren't they?

BROWN: There were many. The one that got the most attention, right off the top.

HILL: The one that got the most attention was probably the one that Governor Palin had joked on the set of "Weekend Update" that really she had kind of opted out of.

BROWN: Right.

HILL: If you haven't seen Amy Poehler's rap yet, get ready. Here you go.


AMY POEHLER, COMEDIENNE, "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE": All the mavericks in the house, put your hands up. All the mavericks in the house, put your hands up. All the plumbers in the house, pull your pants up. All the plumbers in the house, pull your pants up.

When I say Obama you say Ayers. Obama.

ALL: Ayers.


ALL: Ayers.

POEHLER: I built me a bridge it ain't going nowhere.

ALL: Ohhh.


HILL: Classic there. I mean, talking about hitting the "Bull's-Eye" because we're hitting everything that we heard for so long on the trail from Sarah Palin. We're hearing about the mavericks.

BROWN: Right.

HILL: We're hearing about the bridge to nowhere that she did not have built, William Ayers, of course, in the last week and then again, Joe the plumber. So really --

BROWN: And, of course, on the part we didn't show, a moose actually gets shot, too.

HILL: A moose, yes. There was actually a large some sort of person in a moose costume. I mean, it was priceless and you have to give Amy Poehler such credit for doing that when she's, you know, 87 months pregnant.

So that one getting a lot of attention. The other thing that was interesting is there was also some poking fun at the things that Sarah Palin doesn't do. And that's how the show opened actually, talking about the press conference or really the lack thereof, and I think we have a little bit of that, as well.




GOV. SARAH PALIN (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No, I'm not going to take any of your questions. But I do want to take this opportunity to say, live from New York, it's "Saturday Night!"


HILL: There you go. And there had been a little bit there, too, off the top where at the top of the show where they were having this mock press conference and her press person said, "Now just one more thing. No tape recorders and no writing anything down in the press booth." Oh, OK.

But that moment there with Tina Fey and Sarah Palin, I mean, really, that's one of the things people were waiting for and all you got were these two ships sort of passing in the night. BROWN: I know. I know. But I have to say, when she -- there was a moment, I can't remember which one it was, that three times she made appearances on the show, that I, for a split second, couldn't tell which one it was.

HILL: It's amazing how much they look alike.

BROWN: I know. I know.

HILL: And especially next week -- we were told, by the way, even though they may not have interacted much on camera, apparently there was a hug between Tina Fey and Sarah Palin backstage.

BROWN: I'm sure there's photo --

HILL: With Sarah Palin showing together.

BROWN: I'm sure there's photo evidence of that somewhere. Erica Hill for us tonight. Erica, thanks.


BROWN: Coming up, is Sarah Palin becoming more of a hindrance than a help to John McCain? Yes, she is still drawing adoring crowds at rallies and some top conservatives say she is still rallying the base but there are others who are turning against her in the Republican Party. And a new poll has some very interesting and for McCain troubling results. We're going to talk about that when we come back.


BROWN: We have some breaking news we want to tell you about right now. We've just gotten word from the Obama campaign that Senator Obama is planning to cancel parts of his schedule. His grandmother, her name is Madelyn Dunham, is seriously ill. She lives in Hawaii. And he is planning to cancel his schedule on Thursday, his campaign events, and on Thursday go to Hawaii to see his grandmother.

Again, this coming from the campaign. She is seriously ill. She was released from the hospital, we are told, and has returned home. They did not say what the illness is or define her medical condition in any way. But again, Obama canceling his campaign events on Thursday, planning to return to the campaign trail over the weekend at some point but going to Hawaii to check on his grandmother.

A short statement released from the campaign saying that Senator Obama's grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, has always been one of the most important people in his life along with his mother and his grandfather. She raised him in Hawaii from the time he was born until the moment he left for college. As he said at the Democratic Convention, she poured everything she had into him and recently as we pointed out she has become ill. The campaign says over the past few weeks her health has deteriorated to the point where her situation is very serious.

Well, when we have more information on this we will update you as the schedule for the campaign does appear to be in flux at the moment.

We're going to move on now. The McCain campaign still keeping Sarah Palin largely under wraps. She is still pretty guarded around reporters, but she did sit down with CNN contributor David Brody who is also senior national correspondent for the Christian Broadcasting Network. And they talked about her faith, about her accusations about Barack Obama and terrorists.

And David is joining us right now with some of that interview to share with us and to talk about it.

David, welcome.


BROWN: Good to see you.

So I know that you gave Governor Palin in your interview a chance to clarify or to reign in some of her controversial or controversial line about Barack Obama, "palling around with terrorists." But she didn't take that opportunity. Let's listen to what she told you.


GOV. SARAH PALIN (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No, I would say it again. I would say it again because, again, according to the information that we have, the association that he's had with Bill Ayers wasn't just one or two times sitting on a board together.


PALIN: No. There's been quite a few associations and events and meetings and discussions and e-mails and calls.


BROWN: I want to ask you, though, David, because she did -- the words she used were palling around with terrorists, plural.


BROWN: And even if she thinks Ayers is troubling, an important issue worth raising in the campaign, fair game, I mean, does she think that that -- the language she used -- is the right way to characterize it?

BRODY: Well, clearly, she's not backing down from the language. She didn't get into singular and plural and all of that. But I mean, I think what we saw there, Campbell, was a pretty authentic moment because, you know, a politician, a typical politician, if you will, will pretty much kind of deflect and move on or at least try to spin the way out of it. But in Sarah Palin's case, what we saw was somewhat of a shocker, if you will, that the news bell went off in my head when she said it because remember David Plouffe, the campaign manager for Barack Obama, had said that those comments were beyond the pale.

So you would think that she may not -- she wanted to reign him in a little bit. But no, she was just like, look, they are something I would say again. It was very, very interesting and it's something that the conservative base likes about her, Campbell, because she seems to be authentic and just kind of straight, shooting straight and they like that.

BROWN: And as you pointed out, the conservative base has been her base but her -- and especially Christian conservatives. Her own faith, though, has come under a lot of scrutiny and you talked to her about that. Let's listen.


GOV. SARAH PALIN (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yes, I think the saddest part of that is that faith, not just my faith, but faith in God in general has been mocked through this campaign and that breaks my heart. And that is unfair for others who share a faith in God and choose to worship our Lord in whatever private manner that they view fit. And my faith has always been pretty personal. I haven't really worn it on my sleeve. I haven't been out there preaching it.


BROWN: What, David, what was she specifically referring to when she talks about her faith being mocked?

BRODY: Yes. She's looking at some of those negative editorials at least in her mind, you know. For example, there was an editorial in "The Washington Post." There have been a couple others, where some of her Pentecostal faith has been brought up and, you know, some of these gifts of the Holy Spirit we hear about and so some of that's going on.

There's also, obviously, the liberal blogosphere has taken hits and, of course, "Saturday Night Live" has done some stuff with her as well talking about the end of days and referring to God a little bit. So you know, they're poking fun at her left and right. At least that's the way she interprets it.

And so, she really had some concerns about that. But once again, she talked a lot about the media filter, very concerned about that and that seemed to be the tone throughout many of her answers, Campbell.

BROWN: And let me ask you about that because you did also ask her why she couldn't answer Katie Couric's pretty simple question about what newspapers she reads. And here's what she had to say about that.


GOV. SARAH PALIN (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Being such an outsider from the Washington elite and the media elite is the questions that she was asking me were, I kept thinking, why aren't you asking me things that really, really matter right now? Some of the questions that were being fired at me, I was kind of impatient and I think that showed. It's like, come on, Katie. Let's talk about the things that really matter.

And two, the other part of that was I knew that whatever I threw out there, you know, whether it's the "USA Today" or "New York Times" or whatever I said, that's just more fodder for someone to not only mock but to tear apart.


BROWN: So, David, did she really think that anybody is going to mock her or tear her apart for saying she reads "USA Today" or "The New York Times?" I mean, I don't think you have to be part of the media elite to answer that question.

BRODY: Well, clearly, you know, there are going to be people that just don't buy that at all. But I think she was being pretty, pretty authentic when she felt like she didn't want to give the media any upper hand.

You got to understand, Campbell, you know this, but within the conservative base, there is this skepticism of the media and sometimes whether rightly or wrongly, it's out there and sometimes can get the best of you whether or not you think it's true or not. And I think there is a part to that because remember, she's playing to the conservative base there as well...

BROWN: Right.

BRODY: ... to say, look, you know, that the media can play a "gotcha" game and that works well with the conservative base.

BROWN: To the point where you're overly cautious and then --


BROWN: Yes. All right.

Well, David Brody, it was really interesting. Thank you for sharing it with us. Good to see you.

BRODY: Thanks, Campbell. You too.

BROWN: The full report airs tomorrow which I mention on the "700 Club" on the Christian Broadcasting Network.

And coming up, Sarah Palin criticizes some of her own campaign's negative tactics giving Barack Obama an opening. So what did she say? We're going to have that when we come back.


BROWN: Barack Obama took a shot at Sarah Palin today. He seized on her complaints that voters are getting irritated by nasty campaign tactics like the robocalls that have been coming from her own campaign. Let's take a listen.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's getting so bad that even Senator McCain's running mate denounced his tactics last night. You know, you really have to work hard to violate Governor Palin's standards on negative campaigning.


BROWN: Back with me now to talk about that plus the interview you saw a moment ago with Sarah Palin, Gloria Borger, Kevin Madden and Roland Martin, once again.

Kevin, Sarah Palin telling reporters yesterday, she said she's not a fan of robocalls, a tactic her own campaign has been using as we pointed out. Let's listen to what she said.


GOV. SARAH PALIN (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If I called all the shots and if I could wave a magic wand, I would be sitting at a kitchen table with more and more Americans talking to them about our plan to get the economy back on track and winning the war and not having to rely on the old conventional ways of campaigning that includes those robocalls, that includes spending so much money on the television ads that I think is kind of draining out there in terms of Americans' attention span. They get a bit irritated with just being inundated.


BROWN: So tonight, Kevin, of course, we find out that she's recorded one of these robocalls herself. I mean, so what's going on here?



BROWN: You either love them or you hate them, right?

MADDEN: Yes. This is why candidates are always encouraged not to talk about tactics, not to talk about the levers and the mechanics of the campaign. But again, talk about the issues.

You know, there are guys that are paid on campaigns to talk to reporters and to talk to everybody about what the latest strategy is and what the robocalls are saying and why. That's me, the press secretary.


GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: And you might do a better job, Kevin.

MARTIN: I'm sorry, Kevin. She shouldn't tell the truth. Oh, that's a doggone shame. What's going on here?

That's what she was doing, Campbell. She shared a real feeling. You guys are always talking about let's see the real Sarah Palin. Well, we saw it. They probably didn't like it.

BROWN: Well, Roland, let me ask you a different question, though. You heard that interview that David Brody did with Sarah Palin and she raised something that she said she feels her faith has been mocked by the media. And this is obviously something that is important to her, that's deeply personal to her.

Does she have a point? Do you think in certain cases, the media, you know, which is a pretty broad word, we turn around a lot?

MARTIN: Of course.

BROWN: But has it crossed the line in its approach in reporting on her religious belief?

MARTIN: I certainly thought this whole notion of the church speaking in tongues was a ridiculous, overblown thing. But you know what? If she wants to be concerned about questions of her faith, walk in Barack Obama's shoes. Here is a guy who has to defend being a Christian, constantly being called a Muslim. You can't even compare the attacks on his faith to attack on her and her faith, not even close.

BROWN: Gloria, let me go to you on this. We talk a lot about Sarah Palin. Look, she's captured the imagination for better or worse of so many people in this country.

BORGER: Right.

BROWN: And I just want to ask you, this is a new ABC News/"Washington Post" poll. It shows 52 percent of voters said that McCain's choice of Palin made them less confident in the decisions he'd make as president. Hindsight obviously 20/20. But do you think if John McCain could do it again, would he pick someone else?

BORGER: Oh, well, that's a big question to ask me. I don't know yet. I think we'll know after the campaign is over, Campbell.

Look. She clearly united -- I'm dodging that question.


She clearly united --

MARTIN: That was a good move, Gloria.

BORGER: She clearly united the base.

BROWN: All right. BORGER: But she's not bringing in those independent voters and they can't win with the base.

BROWN: Got to end it there, guys. That's it for us. Thank you, panel.

"LARRY KING LIVE" starting right now.