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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
McCain Campaign Targets Pennsylvania; Obama Surges
Aired October 21, 2008 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Just two weeks to go, tonight, the race is heating up, Governor Palin blasting Joe Biden and continuing the attacks on Obama, repeatedly using the word socialism. She sat down with CNN's Drew Griffin. We will tell you what she had to say later.
But there are a number of developing stories right now, the big political story tonight, a new surge for Barack Obama. In CNN's latest poll of polls, Obama is up two points from yesterday, leading McCain by nine points, 51-42 percent, 7 percent unsure.
John King is going to be at the magic map, going to break it down for you state by state.
But we begin tonight with breaking news, new questions about Sarah Palin's travel expenses -- hello -- the Associated Press reporting tonight that, as governor, Palin charged the state of Alaska for her children to travel with her. And some of those trips were to events where they were not invited.
The AP also says that Palin later amended her expense reports to specify that there were -- that they were traveling with her on official business. Now, this story is still developing. It's just breaking. It is not clear what, if any impact, it may have.
The McCain campaign has been quick to put out a response. And we will tell you that in a moment.
Right now, CNN's Ed Henry joins me with the breaking news.
ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, as you noted, Sarah Palin talks a lot of reform and saving taxpayers' money as governor. But there are new questions tonight about her conduct in that office after the AP reviewed these travel records.
They show that the governor charged state taxpayers over $21,000 for her children to take various commercial flights to attend official events with their mom. In one case, they joined the governor to watch their father in a snowmobile race. Another time, they went to New York in which the governor was at a conference for about five hours in New York, but her daughter Bristol stayed at New York City hotel for five days and four nights on the state taxpayers' dime, while her mom was at that conference.
It's very important to stress, however, to put this in context, that Alaska law does not specifically address travel for children of any governor. So, there's no evidence that either the governor violated a law or an ethical rule. And, as you noted, we do have a statement from Taylor Griffin, who I just got off the phone with. He's a McCain/Palin spokesman.
He told CNN -- quote -- "Like spouses and children and governors across the nation, Alaska's first family make public appearances, attend events, and perform ceremonial duties in their role as the family of Alaska's governor. When members of the first family participate in events, the state provides for travel to and from those events. Governor Palin refuses per diem for her children, which the state allowed for and initially provided, until she ordered the per diem payments to stop."
So, what he is saying there is that there were no per diem daily cash expenses for the kids. But the fact is that the kids -- their hotel was covered, but also their commercial flights. And in the case, for example, from Alaska to New York, obviously, commercial flights cost a lot -- Anderson.
COOPER: Ed, he's saying that when there's official -- when there's an official role for the family, for the kids.
According to this AP report and according to a number of people at some of these events, there was no official role for her kids in some of these events; is that correct?
HENRY: Exactly. Like, for example, there was that one conference that I mentioned in New York, where the governor had to be there, but the children didn't necessarily need to be there. They stayed at the Essex House in New York City in Manhattan.
And, so, that's obviously where it gets into a gray area about exactly why exactly the children needed to attend. I mean, obviously, in normally covering the president, there are a lot of events where children don't necessarily need to be there, whether you're a president or a governor. But, if you're traveling around the country or around the world, you may bring your family, and there enters into a little gray area there.
COOPER: And the other issue I guess that people are going to pick on, or at least certainly her critics will pick on, is the idea that she or somebody then amended these reports once reporters asked some questions about them, amended them to say it was a family trip or family official business.
And that's why more questions are being raised. Taylor Griffin, the McCain/Palin spokesman, insists that the amendments were only made to provide more disclosure after these questions were raised, that they wanted to provide more information.
And they insist that, when you look at the full context of the reports, that, in her first year as governor in 2007, Sarah Palin spent about $400,000 less than her predecessor as governor, Frank Murkowski, spent in 2006. So, they insist that, while, sure, there were expenses with her and her children, that, in the grand scheme of things, it was much less than the previous governor, who was a Republican governor. It's not a Democrat-Republican thing, but the Republican governor spent $400,000 less than the predecessor.
HENRY: So, we're going to go back and forth on this. But, obviously, they're insisting that, in the grand scheme of things, that they spent less money -- Anderson.
COOPER: All right, Ed Henry, thanks.
Hard to know at this point whether this story has legs or not.
Joining us now, CNN senior political analyst and former presidential adviser David Gergen, Republican strategist and former senior adviser to Mitt Romney Bay Buchanan, who supports McCain, and CNN political contributor and radio host Roland Martin, who supports Obama.
David, what about this. I mean, to those who support Palin, this is much ado about nothing. To those who oppose her, it's another mark against her. How big a deal could this be, if no law is actually broken?
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Anderson, these reports are -- and these activities are obviously eye-opening.
But, as I recall, most of this was reported early on, when she was first named. There was a big story, as you will recall, about her charging per diem for the nights that she spent at her home in Wasilla. And buried within that story, toward the end of the story, were these accounts taking the children on -- on state trips and then charging the -- the state for them.
And, as I recall, I don't remember whether she had -- whether it was reported that she amended anything, but I do specifically remember the trip to New York and of that sort. And what the story also went on to say, her defense, well, look, you know, the last governor actually charged one heck of a lot more, and I cut it down.
So, while eye-opening, and it cost them a day in the news when days are precious, I don't think there's much new here.
COOPER: Bay, what about that? I mean, the AP will say that there's some new level of detail that we hadn't known before on this question of amending the things. But does this matter, does this amount to anything?
BAY BUCHANAN, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: It shouldn't, but, of course, it will, because it's Sarah Palin, and the national press is obsessed with Sarah, and they're going to keep focus on it as much as they can.
But the bottom line is, this is -- this is clearly what you do as a first family. And those events where they say the kids weren't invited, all she had to do was make a phone call, and say, look, you want me there, I'm bringing the family.
This is clearly what you do. In my position as a campaign chairman, I have all three of my boys, as a single mom, have traveled on the campaign trail with me, and the campaign paid for it. It comes with part of the territory. She is the official -- that is the first family of Alaska. When they travel as a family, they do it, it is exactly that reason.
COOPER: Roland, is this something the Obama campaign will or should jump on?
ROLAND MARTIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, first of all, I think you do jump on it, because, look, here is what you have here, OK? You have somebody who talks about being a maverick, somebody who talks about corruption in Washington, D.C., in terms of how we manage our resources.
You can talk all day about what the previous governor charged and how you charged less. The problem comes in is when you say you used taxpayer dollars to take your children to events when your children were not requested.
Now, in the grand scheme of things, is this huge? No, I don't think it's huge, but it does point to credibility of your argument. David is right. It did come up earlier. But I think the key phrase in this whole AP story is amending or changing to reflect what she wanted. That's the critical statement. That's where the questions will all be posed. Why did you change it then? If you thought it was all about your children, why wasn't -- why wasn't it done right the first time? Why did you go back and change it? That's the critical phrasing.
BUCHANAN: It was clear clarification, Roland. Let's not introduce any double standards here. All she did is go back. The press asked for it, reviewed it. She was smart, and she clarified that it was official business and she went with her children. She's not trying to hide anything. She never tried to hide anything.
It was always there, the dollars, the kids. And so this is clear what's happened here.
MARTIN: But, Bay...
COOPER: OK. Wait.
BUCHANAN: And when you elect -- when you elect a mother of small children, you best expect, if she is a good mother -- and you hope she is -- she will be traveling with those kids. It's very simple.
COOPER: Let -- David, you wanted to get in?
COOPER: Then let's move on.
GERGEN: I just want to say, I think it's inappropriate to use the word corruption in describing this or -- and using -- and that analogy. I have my problems with Sarah Palin.
But, on this issue, I do think, A, it's been reported, an, B, I think a lot depends on state practice and state law and state, you know, understandings. And, when it was reported, it was done -- these sound very strange. I know a lot of other states where what she was taking, taking per diem for staying at home...
GERGEN: ... could be, my God, what are you doing? But, within the context of Alaska, there seemed to be a much looser set of standards, frankly.
COOPER: OK. We are going to leave it there, a lot more to talk about tonight.
David Gergen, Bay Buchanan, Roland Martin, we will check in with you throughout this hour.
Let's us know what you think. Join in the conversation online at AC360.com. Check out Erica Hill's live Webcast during the break. She has just started that.
Just ahead: Does Palin really think Obama is a socialist? Drew Griffin asks her in an exclusive interview coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Governor, if in two weeks, you are not elected...
GOV. SARAH PALIN (R-AK), VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Yes.
GRIFFIN: ... do you come back at the top of the ticket in 2012?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Hear her answer coming up.
Also, Barack Obama on the trail in Florida punching back on taxes and more, and John King at the magic map breaking down, state by state, where the race now stands.
We will be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: What I'm trying to do is provide a tax cut for 95 percent of working families. We are going to roll back the Bush cuts on the wealthiest Americans, those making more than $250,000 a year.
OBAMA: ... Senator McCain, I think, over the last several days, has been maybe a little confused about my plan. I will give him the benefit of the doubt. Maybe he just hasn't read it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: In the swing state of Florida, that's Barack Obama today at an economic event in Lake Worth. He's taking a shot there at Senator McCain there. And McCain is firing back as well.
Obama continues to outspend McCain, big-time. Obama's fund- raising totals have now passed $450 million. For McCain, it's more than $230 million. Today, both camps were out in force, pushing their platforms, while attacking the challengers. It is down to the wire.
With tonight's "Raw Politics," here's Candy Crowley.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): His foreign policy resume has become an asterisk to the story of a failing economy. But John McCain sees an opening in Joe Biden's warning that Barack Obama will be tested, as JFK was with the Cuban Missile Crisis.
McCain was around at the time.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I sat in a cockpit on the flight deck of the U.S. Enterprise off -- off of Cuba. I had a target. My friends, you know how close we came to a nuclear war. America will not have a president who needs to be tested. I have been tested, my friends.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
CROWLEY: He spent the day in Pennsylvania. The state is a Herculean task for McCain, but the electoral map is closing in. He needs the state's 21 electoral votes to make up for Interior West states which may be slipping away. His campaign believes the race in Pennsylvania is closer than the current 13-point spread.
So, McCain looks for any wedge. Even the World Series is fair game, so to speak.
MCCAIN: When he is campaigning in Philadelphia, he roots for the Phillies. Then, when he is campaigning in Tampa Bay, he shows love to the Rays.
MCCAIN: It's kind of like the way he campaigns on tax cuts.
CROWLEY: Actually, Obama has moved on from the Tampa Bay Rays to Miami and Joe the plumber.
OBAMA: I have got nothing but love for Joe the plumber.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA: That's why I want to give him a tax cut.
CROWLEY: This is Obama's second day in Florida, a tossup state he would like to win, but could do without. McCain can't afford to lose it. So, Obama is pressing hard, revving up a crowd of 30,000- plus in a Miami park.
OBAMA: After eight years of Bush-McCain economics, the pie is shrinking.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA: And what's left of the pie has been eaten by millionaires and billionaires.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA: Everybody here wants some pie.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA: We want to grow the pie, and then we want a slice of the pie.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
CROWLEY: He took the same message to a low-energy panel, discussing economic solution and his opponents, known in Obama land as Bush-McCain.
OBAMA: They have offered little more than willful ignorance, wishful thinking, outdated ideology.
CROWLEY: Fourteen days left, and the rhythm of the campaign is set. Barack Obama is looking for the finish line. John McCain searches for an opening.
COOPER: Candy, you said McCain's chance is long in Pennsylvania. What's -- what's the status quo in Florida?
CROWLEY: A tossup, Anderson, about a three-point edge for Obama.
You know, McCain was up until the economy imploded. And I can tell you that the Obama campaign, and certainly supporters here in the state, think that the long lines for early voting -- we had one anecdotal report of a voting place where it took almost three hours to get in to vote -- and that's with voters being able to sort of pick and choose where they want to go and cast their ballot. So, the Obama campaign thinks that what looks like heavy early voting definitely favors him, because people who are eager to vote -- and we have always seen that the enthusiasm has been mostly on the Democratic side -- so, the Obama campaign believes that people who are eager to vote -- that is, their voters -- are the ones going to the polls and really crowding these polls.
COOPER: All right, Candy, thanks for that.
We told you of the two-point surge in the poll of polls today for Obama, but what matters, of course, as Candy says, is state by state, the electoral map. CNN's John King is at the map to see where the race stands now and what could happen in the days ahead to change everything.
And CNN's one-on-one with Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin -- her thoughts on the experience question and claims that Joe Biden is getting a pass from the media.
Plus, a report about much the RNC spent on new clothes for Palin when she hit the national stage. Can you guess how much they have been paying? Find out tonight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: I want you to think how you will feel if we wake up on Wednesday, November the 5th, the day after the election, and John McCain and Barack Obama are tied. Ooh.
Well, your vote could make the difference in Nebraska. And Nebraska could make the difference in this election.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Senator Clinton at an Obama rally in Omaha, Nebraska, today. With five electoral votes, Nebraska is a red state right now, good news, certainly, for John McCain.
But, in the big picture, Senator Obama has the lead, both in the latest CNN poll of polls and on the political map. Of course, anything can happen in the next two weeks. Let's look across the board.
John King is at the magic map with the latest numbers from some key battleground states.
So, John, the McCain campaign spending a lot of time in Pennsylvania. Why? What's the situation?
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Why, Anderson? For the very reason you see Senator Clinton in Republican territory, like Nebraska.
McCain is back on his heels on defense, three stops in Pennsylvania today, because they have come to the conclusion in the McCain campaign they have to win Pennsylvania to win the White House.
And let me show you just why they feel that way. Let's start here. We have Obama projected now to already win 277 electoral votes. You only need 270. So, what does John McCain have to do? Well, he has to get Florida and its 27, turn those Republican red, North Carolina, where I was earlier today, 15, turn those, Ohio, 20 electoral votes, turn those, has to absolutely, positively also win Missouri as well. There's 11.
Out here in Nevada, it's a must-win state for the McCain people. That's five. This one's interesting, Anderson. They say they're not giving up on Colorado. So, we will turn it red for now. Even if it does, though, look what happens. We have run out of states. Based on our projection, John McCain still doesn't win. And guess what? Most of his senior advisers think he cannot win Colorado now. So, let's make that blue.
What do you get, Obama 286, John McCain 252. In the McCain campaign, they believe this is the only solution. It is a state that has not voted Republican since 1988, in 20 years, 21 electoral votes. If John McCain can switch it red, look what it does. McCain is your winner, and Obama falls just short, if he can switch it.
And why Pennsylvania? Because they look at this state, and this is what they see. They see, obviously, a lot of red. George W. Bush lost this state by three points last time. It's very conservative out in here, very Democratic -- you see the blue over here, and you see the blue over here in Pittsburgh.
But, remember, in the Democratic primaries, this is where Barack Obama struggled. He is the light blue here -- is Hillary Clinton, I mean -- the dark blue, Barack Obama. Senator Obama struggled in the blue-collar areas here, struggles in the blue-collar areas there. So, John McCain is hoping, Anderson, to make it up.
But this is why Pennsylvania is so tough. Our poll of polls at the moment has a 13-point Obama advantage. So, the McCain campaign says Pennsylvania is a must-win. There is your steep hill...
COOPER: All right.
KING: ... going into the last two weeks.
COOPER: Steep -- yes, steep indeed. The new CNN poll of poll has other -- some numbers from other key battleground states. What's the latest?
KING: Let's look at some of those states right now. I will look at two of those states. And we will go back to the '04 analysis here. One is Ohio.
We have said it so many times, everyone in America should know it by now. No Republican has ever won the White House without winning Ohio. And, yet, look at this, Barack Obama, 48, John McCain 45 in the poll of polls. That's essentially a tossup, but a slight edge at the moment for Obama.
We will get rid of this and look at the state, very quick. John McCain will be right here tomorrow, Cincinnati. That is the huge part of the Republican base. He must turn that out. And he must do very well across the rural part here.
One more state, very quickly, Anderson, the key state of Florida, Candy just talked about it. She was dead-on in her report. The poll of polls has it as a three-point gap Obama, advantage Obama now in the state that George W. Bush won twice, key to victory there.
And the biggest part of this state is right here, the I-4 Corridor, Orlando, Tampa, most of the independents in Florida, a lot of population, right there, a lot of TV ads in that -- those markets, Orlando, Tampa, over to Saint Pete and Daytona Beach, key areas we watch, two weeks to go.
COOPER: All right, John, we will check in with you again tomorrow night.
Much more from Drew's interview with Governor Palin ahead, including what her role would be if the McCain ticket won the White House.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PALIN: It's going to be government reform, because that is what I have been able to do as a mayor and as a governor. You take on the special interests and the self-dealings. Yes, you ruffle feathers, and you have the scars to prove it afterwards.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: And later tonight, fat cats getting fatter after the collapse -- the shocking story about how one Merrill Lynch executive is raking in millions, while the company sinks. You won't believe this -- coming up.
COOPER: We have an update on our breaking story about Sarah Palin's travel expenses.
As we said, the Associated Press is reporting, Palin charged the state of Alaska for kids' travel to events they weren't invited to. We have just received, from the McCain campaign, the e-mail from "Newsweek" magazine inviting Bristol Palin to one of those events in question, a leadership conference in New York. The AP said she was not invited.
The McCain campaign also says the kids had official duties at another one of those events.
It's a breaking story. No doubt we're going to hear more details about it tomorrow.
CNN's Drew Griffin talked with the Alaska governor on the trail today in Nevada. She's been drawing huge crowds there and hitting the Obama-Biden ticket hard. She began the week with new ammunition, responding to these remarks Senator Joe Biden made on Sunday.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
SEN. JOSEPH BIDEN (D-DE), VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Mark my words. It will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama, like they did John Kennedy.
The world is looking. We're about to elect a brilliant 47-year- old president of the United States of America. Remember I said it standing here, if you don't remember anything else I said. Watch. We're going to have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy.
I could give you at least four or five scenarios from where it might originate. He's going to need help. And the kind of help he's going to need is, he's going to need you, not financially to help him. We're going to need you to use your influence, your influence in the community, to stand with him, because it's not going to be apparent initially. It's not going to be apparent that we're right.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
COOPER: We talked about those remarks last night with our panel.
But, in her wide-ranging interview with Drew griffin today, Palin had a lot more to say about Biden's warnings.
Here's Palin up close.
GOV. SARAH PALIN (R-AK), VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: ... revelation occurred with Joe Biden's comment the other night that he, telling his Democrat financial donors, saying that -- he said: Mark my word. There's going to be economic and -- or international crisis, he said, if Barack Obama is elected, because he will be tested. And he said, there are four or five scenarios that will result in an international crisis with this untested presidential candidate in Barack Obama.
And, first, I think we need to thank Joe for the warning there. But Joe's words there, I think, can shed some light, too, in terms of the contrast you have on the tickets. John McCain is a tested leader. He has gone through great adversity. He has the scars to prove it. He has shown this true leadership. It hasn't just been all talk.
And Joe Biden's comments there about an untested, as he had said in the primary, unprepared candidate to be president, I think, was very telling.
GRIFFIN: Have you guys been briefed on any scenario like this? PALIN: On the four or five scenarios that...
PALIN: Well, who knows what Joe Biden was talking about?
All you have to do is, though, is look back at Obama's foreign policy agenda, and you can assume what some of those scenarios may be, as he considers sitting down and talking to Ahmadinejad or Fidel Castro or Kim Jong Il, some of these dictators, without preconditions being met, essentially validating some of what those dictators have been engaged in, that.
That could be one of the scenarios that Joe Biden is talking about, is, as a result of that, that proclamation that he would meet without preconditions being met first, that could be a scenario that results in a testing of our country. And the four or five other scenarios that he is talking about, I don't know. I hope that Joe Biden will explain it.
GRIFFIN: Does Joe Biden get a pass?
PALIN: Ask -- Drew, you need to ask your colleagues and I guess your bosses or whoever is -- whoever is in charge of all of this, why does Joe Biden get a pass on such a thing.?
Can you imagine if I would have said such a thing? No, I think that we would be hounded and held accountable for, what in the world did you mean by that, V.P., presidential candidate? Why would you say that, that, mark my words, this nation will undergo international crisis if you elect Barack Obama?
If I would have said that, you guys would have clobbered me.
COOPER: Well, our panel weighs in Palin's remarks. Did Joe Biden give his opponents some valuable ammunition in these final weeks?
Also ahead, it takes how much to look glamorous on the trail, a lot of money. A new report tells us how much the RNC has spent on clothes and makeup for Sarah Palin and her family.
Plus, a bruising day on Wall Street, the Dow erasing much of yesterday's gains. What drove it down?
That's ahead on 360.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOE BIDEN (D-DE), VICE-PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: My friend, John McCain -- and he is my friend -- and Governor Palin love to call themselves maverick. It must be every 20th word, "maverick." (END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Senator Joe Biden making a little shot at his opponents. As we said, the race is heating up. There's not much time left to nail down votes. Hard to tell tonight if this breaking news about Sarah Palin's travel expenses will really make much of a difference.
Joining me again, CNN political analyst and former presidential adviser, David Gergen. Also CNN political contributor, Bay Buchanan, who's a Republican strategist and McCain supporter. And CNN contributor and talk radio host, Roland Martin, who supports Obama.
So Bay, Palin has been hammering Biden for these comments he made about Obama being tested his first six months in office. Joe Lieberman did say kind of the same thing on CBS a while ago. I just want to play this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN (I), CONNECTICUT: Because our enemies will test the new president early. Remember that the truck bombing of the World Trade Center happened in the first year of the Clinton administration. Nine-eleven happened in the first year of the Bush administration.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So -- so was Lieberman off base there? Was Biden off base for what he said?
BAY BUCHANAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think what Biden said was, first of all, so stupid as a candidate, to suggest because he is the same fellow that just about a year ago said that Barack Obama doesn't have the experience to be president.
And so here he is, and he suggests this. And it's a message to, I think, our enemy, that this fellow is weak, and you're probably going to come after him. I think it's -- it's a very -- it's an outrageous remark for Biden to have made, not only as a candidate but as a leader.
COOPER: Roland, obviously you disagree. The Obama campaign defended the remarks, saying that Biden is basically speaking the truth. But I mean, do you find anything odd about his extensive scenarios and asking people for support for a hypothetical situation months and months from now?
ROLAND MARTIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, of course. And I agree with Bay: it is a stupid comment for a candidate to make, because obviously, it takes you off message, as opposed to what you want it to focus on. And so that -- that makes no sense.
But it is correct, though. Look, we face an international crisis -- my God -- every six months. I mean, Russia and Georgia blew up during this campaign. There's no doubt whoever the president, as Joe Lieberman stated, is going to face some international crisis. But if you were Biden, you don't invite more questions to your campaign. You want to push those things away. So, Joe, tighten up.
COOPER: David, what about -- is your advice similar? I mean, it's interesting, that you know, he went on to say, you know, "It's not that we need your support, because it's not going to be apparent that we're right." I mean, he sort of got lost in this, whatever he was talking about.
DAVID GERGEN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Anderson, from my perspective, this is much ado about very little coming from the other side. During much of the Cold War, the Soviets would regularly test a new president, test their many meddle, test their courage: can you stand the heat? Can we -- are you going to -- can we roll over you, just as your political rivals will test you.
In this new age of terrorism, the terrorists, as Roland just pointed out and as Joe Lieberman pointed out. They tested Bill Clinton, and they tested -- they tested George W. Bush.
The next -- whoever the next president is, our rivals internationally will test him in the first months in office.
MARTIN: But the problem...
GERGEN: And we just ought to brace ourselves. Hold on...
COOPER: Let him finish. Let him finish.
GERGEN: We have somebody -- Joe Biden didn't say, because -- Barack Obama will be tested but John McCain won't. What he was saying was, whoever the next president is -- this is in essence what he was saying -- whoever the next president is is going to be tested.
Look, isn't it time somebody told us the truth about what's coming? Buckle your seat belts; it's coming.
BUCHANAN: But no, no, David. He followed up and he said, "And how we respond you're not going to like very much, so I hope you'll stick with us." What did he mean by that? Exactly what is it that Biden thinks Obama is going to do that the American people are going to be opposed to?
COOPER: David, beyond -- beyond arguing this on the merits, which seems like we pretty much exhausted it. David, do you think -- do you think that fact that this is being latched onto, that these are the things, you know, the McCain campaign is talking about, that Sarah Palin is talking about in this interview, these kind of things, what does that tell you about where the race is now? I mean, is this a mistake for them to be talking about these little -- these details, these things? Or should they be going big picture?
GERGEN: I think they have -- they lack a coherent, consistent message from day-to-day. Everyday it's something else coming from them, you know, whether it's socialism or, you know, redistribution. Then now it's this. You know, if they had a more consistent message, the polls wouldn't be widening on them.
The big story tonight is, Anderson, after two or three days in a row talking about tightening polls, that they're now widening, and that is big news coming 14 days before the election.
COOPER: Bay, is that big news?
BUCHANAN: Well, there's no question that's unnerving. You know, you don't want them to be widening. They have to keep closing, and they have to close a lot faster than they've been closing if we're going to win this thing.
I think it's very tough out there, the landscape is. But I think, you know, when the other side makes mistakes, you don't know what's going to work, so you have throw it out because you have to hope that something catches on.
The Obama people have made two or three mistakes here. And hopefully, if they keep this up, maybe we will be able to close those polls.
MARTIN: Anderson, I've said plenty of times, and David is rights. We do like the truth. Some politicians have to be smart when to actually speak the truth. When your side is attacking your opponent for experience, you don't invite the additional questions.
COOPER: All right. Roland, Bay, David Gergen, stay with us. We're going to talk more ahead.
Just ahead, more from Sarah Palin's interview. She's been tossing around the "S" word, "socialism," calling Obama's tax plan socialism. You can be the judge. We're taking a close look at her comments.
Also tonight, a cop goes too far, tasering a teenager at a party. The consequences are severe, when 360 continues.
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SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Apparently, what they consider socialistic is my plan to roll back the Bush tax cuts on the very wealthiest Americans, tax cuts that John McCain himself said in 2000 were irresponsible and prevented middle-class tax relief. That's what he said then. He was right then. I'm right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Barack Obama throwing a counterpunch on the trail.
John McCain and Sarah Palin have been hammering Obama's tax plan hard ever since the last presidential debate, when Joe the plumber took center stage. Palin now uses the "S" word, "socialism," in almost every speech.
Drew Griffin asked her about that today once again. Governor Palin, up close.
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DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Joe the plumber?
GOV. SARAH PALIN (R-AK), VICE-PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Yes.
GRIFFIN: Socialism, it's come up on the campaign trail now.
GRIFFIN: Governor, is Barack Obama a socialist?
PALIN: I'm not going to call him a socialist. But, as Joe the plumber has suggested -- in fact, he came right out and said it -- it sounds like socialism to him, and he speaks for so many Americans who are quite concerned now after hearing, finally, what Barack Obama's true intentions are with his tax and economic plan.
And that is to take more from small business, more from our families and then redistribute that according to his priorities. That is -- that is not good for the entrepreneurial spirit that has built this great country. That is not good for our economy. Certainly, it's not good for the opportunities that our small businesses should have, to keep more of what they produce in order to hire more people, create more jobs. That's what gets the economy going.
So finally, Joe the plumber, and as we talked about today in the speech, too, he representing, you know, Jane the engineer and Molly the dental hygienist and Chuck the teacher, and all these good hard- working Americans who are finally, we're able to hear in very plain talk the other night what Barack Obama's intentions were, to redistribute wealth.
GRIFFIN: Do you think his intentions are, if not a socialist, is to move away from capitalism, true capitalism?
PALIN: Well, anyone who would want to increase taxes at a time like this, especially with economic woes that are adversely affecting all of us. Anybody who would want to do that, to take more from businesses and our families and then dole those dollars out according to their priorities, that is not a principle of capitalism.
GRIFFIN: Some are saying we're already moving towards socialism with the bailout, the banking industry investment that this government has made, that John McCain and Barack Obama have signed on for. What is your views on that and yet another possible supplement to the income of Americans?
PALIN: We cannot start moving closer and closer to socialism. That will destroy the entrepreneurial spirit in America. That will punish hard work and productivity and the work ethic that we try to instill in our children so that they will know that they can be rewarded for their productivity, for their hard work. We cannot move in that direction, that it should be so concerning for any American voter to consider, that perhaps there are some who would like us to go there.
Now, as for the economic bailout provisions and the measures that have already been taken, it is a time of crisis, and government did have to step in, playing an appropriate role to shore up the housing market, to make sure that we're thawing out some of the potentially frozen credit lines and credit markets. Government did have to step in there.
But now that we're hearing that the Democrats want an additional stimulus package or bailout package for, what, hundred of billions of dollars more, this is not a time to use the economic crisis as an excuse for reckless spending and greater, bigger government and to move the private sector to the back burner and let government be -- assume to be the be-all, end-all solution to the economic challenges that we have.
That's what's scaring me now about hearing that the Democrats have a plan for an even greater economic bailout package. But we don't know all the details of it yet, and we'll certainly pay close attention to it.
GRIFFIN: On its face are you against that?
PALIN: On its face, I want to make sure that this is not being used by the Democrats as a time for bigger government, more dollars being taken from taxpayers to bail out any -- anybody, any entity that's been engaged in corruption, in self-dealing, in greed, there on Wall Street or in D.C. that has adversely affected Main Street.
So on its face we're going to need to know more about what the Democrats have in mind for this additional bailout.
GRIFFIN: As -- you're a fiscal conservative...
GRIFFIN: As a fiscal conservative, I'm looking at the McCain proposals, and all of them seem to involve heavy amounts of government money or government involvement, whether home mortgages or propping up the banking industry. Are you square with that?
PALIN: I beg to differ with that. Because what McCain has talked about with shoring up the home mortgage market, also to make sure that we're going to have a level playing field here.
He's not asking for an additional hundreds of billions of dollars. He's saying, OK, with the $700 billion that his colleagues and he there in Congress have already approved, let's make sure that the priority is we're going to help the homeowners who have been kind of sucked into the wrong mortgage. And that was via predatory lenders taking advantage, unfortunately, and exploiting too many Americans.
He's saying, let's take the dollars that are already there, and let's best use them. Let's -- he's not saying more, more, government intervention and more dollars. He's saying let's best use the dollars that have already been approved. (END VIDEOTAPE)
COOPER: Sarah Palin tonight.
Another story that broke tonight that her critics will no doubt latch onto. The Republican Party reportedly spent big bucks, into the six figures, on new clothes and accessories for the governor, her husband and children. We'll have the numbers.
And part of the Wall Street bailout was supposed to be limiting big golden parachute pay packages. So why is Merrill Lynch big shot -- or a Merrill Lynch big shot getting up to $25 million just to walk out the door? That's ahead on 360.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Senator Biden referred to how Jack Kennedy was tested in the Cuban Missile Crisis. My friends, I have a little personal experience in that. I was on board the USS Enterprise. I sat in the cockpit of the flight deck of the USS Enterprise off -- off of Cuba. I had a target. My friends, you know how close we came to a nuclear war.
America will not have a president who needs to be tested. I've been tested, my friends, and Senator Obama hasn't.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: On the trail in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, today, Senator McCain running with Senator Biden's comments that Senator Obama will probably face an international crisis if elected.
The big story tonight, as we said before: Barack Obama's new surge. In CNN latest poll of polls, Obama is up two points from just yesterday, leading John McCain by nine points, 51-42 percent, 7 percent unsure.
Let's talk strategy. Back again, CNN political analyst and former presidential adviser, David Gergen; CNN political contributor and Republican strategist, Bay Buchanan, who supports McCain; and CNN political contributor and radio host, Roland Martin, who supports Obama.
So David, we've seen -- we've seen a level of such dissatisfaction only three times before: during Watergate, the Iranian hostage crisis, and the recession back in '92. In each of these examples, there was a change in government.
Obama also has a nine-point lead in the poll of polls, the largest margin so far. At this point how, if possible, do McCain and Palin overcome it?
GERGEN: I'm not sure they can anymore, Anderson, especially with the lead widening and not narrowing. The NBC/"Wall Street Journal" poll out tomorrow morning, 10 point lead. That's a very, very reliable poll, and it's one of the best that's taken. So in this case, what we've seen, Anderson, after an awful lot of volatility, hairpin curves all the way through this election campaign, Barack Obama now has had a lead for about four weeks. The race has stabilized to a significant degree over the last four weeks. And he's held -- he's held the lead anywhere from about 5 to 8 points or so.
For John McCain to turn it around, he has to get beyond the questions of calling Barack Obama a socialist or raising all of these kind of side issues. Either they have to go big and can make -- be convincing that he can do something about the economy or I do not -- unless Obama makes a huge mistake or there's a big international incident, I don't see how he turns it around.
This is -- time is really of the essence now. And Obama seems to be settling into this four-week period of stability.
COOPER: Bay, a new CNN poll today showed 75 percent of Americans think things in the U.S. are going badly. Four in 10 predict another Great Depression will hit within the next year.
Is bringing up socialism going to do it for the McCain-Palin ticket?
BUCHANAN: Well, you know, Anderson, the key here is that the environment in which McCain is running is enormously difficult. No matter who it was as a Republican, it's going to be difficult.
And so what you have to do, you've got to be hopeful. You've got to try different things, different strategies. And what he's trying to do is make the American people know that -- that Barack Obama's answer, this socialism, this redistribution of wealth, is not something that Americans will favor.
And there's no question he has that socialist instinct. He votes to the left of an avowed socialist in the Senate. And so -- and also, he went and sought after the socialist endorsement -- the endorsement of the Socialist Party of Illinois.
COOPER: All right.
BUCHANAN: So you take these things and you move them as best you can. But it's very, very difficult out there.
COOPER: You just moved it about four times there, using the word "socialist," Bay.
BUCHANAN: You know, Roland laughs. But just a segment ago, what did he say? It's time to be honest. OK, let's be honest. Barack Obama is a socialist. It's that simple.
MARTIN: Come on.
COOPER: Even Palin would not -- even Palin would not say that.
BUCHANAN: That doesn't matter; I'm being honest.
COOPER: Roland, what are your thoughts?
MARTIN: Well, of course, I can imagine having lunch with Bay and Pat Buchanan, but everyone is a socialist or a Marxist.
Look, the reality is you have candidates, both Obama and McCain, who have voted for a bailout package, who are bailing out various companies, OK? The so-called "free market" votes, they were against that. The bottom line is, McCain's doing the exact same thing. You step in, and you deal with the economy.
Look, if you're Obama, you adopt the Noland Richardson philosophy: 40 minutes of hell. You press, you press, you press. You don't allow your supporters to think for a second that you have this thing in the bag. You stay on top of them. You want to drive the margins up. And so you press even harder. That's what they have to do.
McCain, he has to have a consistent message. You're right. You never know what -- what tomorrow is going to bring with the McCain camp. They're just throwing this mud on the wall and see what sticks.
COOPER: I just want to end the conversation, David, on kind of a lighter note. According to Politico.com, the Republican National Committee appears to have spent about $150,000 on clothes and accessories for Governor Palin and her husband and kids. The article says it includes $49,000 at Saks Fifth Avenue and another $75,000 at Neiman Marcus, $4,700 on hair and makeup.
In terms of for candidates, is this par for the course? I mean, I know a lot of people on the Democratic side, I'm sure on a lot of the liberal blogs, tomorrow this is going to be a headline saying it's outrageous. Where is -- I mean, is this normal?
GERGEN: Anderson, I've never heard of it before. I've never heard of a clothing allowance, $150,000 for any candidate. I never heard of a clothing allowance of $5,000 for a candidate. So I don't know where this comes from.
Hey, she looks -- she's wearing great clothes. But why a political party is doing that beats the heck out of me.
MARTIN: Hey, Anderson, you know, I -- Anderson, I do take prude in my dressing. RNC, give me a call. I can get a cheaper deal. Trust me. I know how to shop.
BUCHANAN: Anderson, she looks like a million dollars.
COOPER: So it's well worth the money, you say, Bay? All right.
David Gergen, Bay Buchanan, Roland Martin, thank you. Appreciate your comments. Thanks. We're going to come back to you.
Lots more coming up tonight. Something to put a smile on your face, our "Shot." Our "Shot" tonight, a chimp on a Segway. You can't do much better than that. But first -- there it is.
But first, Erica Hill joins us with a "360 News and Business Bulletin."
HILL: We might need a shot of bargain shopping with Roland Martin, coming up.
Meantime, though, not a lot of shopping on Wall Street, in fact a lot of selling. A sharp pull back today, the Dow losing 231 points. That's 2.5 percent. The NASDAQ fell 73. The S&P sank 30. Fueling that sell-off, concerns about third-quarter earning reports.
Parting not exactly sweet sorrow when you could be taking millions with you. According to news reports, the head of Merrill Lynch's global strategy, Peter Kraus, isn't bound by the part of the bailout that limits executive compensation. This means he can take a parting paycheck, which is worth somewhere between, oh, 10 and $25 million.
The FBI is investigating a suspicious white powder found in 30 letters mailed to Chase Banks in nine different cities. That powder appears to be harmless calcium. A source close to the investigation says the letters are believed to have come from a single source in Texas.
And a cop at party with alcohol and underage drinking, already maybe not a good scene for the guy, right? So when a 15-year-old volunteers to be tasered at the same Florida party and that rookie cop actually shoots the teen in the back, well, that's when you really wonder what he was thinking. No surprise, the officer, Anderson, was fired.
COOPER: Not a good idea.
HILL: Not so much.
COOPER: Up next, "The Shot." Something to put a smile on your face before you go to bed. A wild ride for a chimp, a chimp on a Segway. I mean, how can you do better than that? And it's on, I believe, a Japanese television show. We'll show you how it all ended. Not well.
COOPER: And at the top of the hour, two weeks and counting for two candidates in the race of their lives. We're now turning into the home stretch. New poll numbers, a big surge for Obama, two points, when 360 continues.
COOPER: We ran out of time to air -- put another name on the list tonight of our "Ten Most Wanted Culprits of the Collapse." We will start doing that again tomorrow night. We haven't forgotten about it; just ran out of time with breaking news. Time now for our "Beat 360" winners, our daily challenge to viewers to come up with a caption better than one that anyone on our staff could come up with.
So tonight's picture, Cindy McCain jumps the gun on Halloween by passing out candy to reporters on her press plane. The staff winner tonight is John, who won with this: "OK. Very funny, who put the Obama button in here?"
(SOUND EFFECT: LAUGHTER)
HILL: I like that one. Kind of scared, though, by the...
COOPER: Our viewer winner is Lasandra from Gulfport, Mississippi, who quipped: "I would like everyone to meet... Joe the pumpkin."
(SOUND EFFECT: "Ooooh!")
COOPER: Lasandra, congratulations. Your "Beat 360" T-shirt is on the way.
You can check out everything on the blog, AC360.com, and tomorrow's picture, as well.
All right. Time now for "The Shot." It's dramatic. It's an animal video. It's dramatic animal video.
HILL: ... the Shot.
COOPER: There you go. It's a chimp on a Segway on a Japanese game show. I don't even -- I don't know what more I need to say. Just watch and enjoy.
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(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: This is why they created TV in the first place, if you ask me.
HILL: You may be right. It almost has, like, sinister music there underneath.
COOPER: Edward R. Murrow said it's just lights in a box. There you go. And a crash.
HILL: The chimp is safe, though. That's the important thing.
COOPER: How smart of the chimp to get off the Segway before.
HILL: They are super smart. COOPER: All right. As any 360 viewer knows, we love this kind of stuff. We can't do without it. And it's not as good as our seamanship video, which we haven't shown for quite a while on this show.
COOPER: Here you go.
HILL: Yes! You know, in tough times.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Got to love Japanese TV.
Just ahead at the top of the hour, breaking news. New questions about Sarah Palin's travel expenses and who paid for her kids to travel with her on business.
Plus, it's getting tough on the trail, Barack Obama widening his lead as he and John McCain duke it out in key battleground states. John king breaks it down for us state by state at the magic map.
COOPER: Just two weeks to go tonight. The race is heating up. Governor Palin blasting Joe Biden and continuing the attacks on Obama, repeatedly using the word "socialism." She sat down with CNN's Drew Griffin today. We'll tell you what -- what she had to say later.