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CNN ELECTION CENTER
Sarah Palin Speaks Out; Obama Widens Lead
Aired October 21, 2008 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CAMPBELL BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: We are coming to you from Los Angeles.
We're out here for an exclusive interview with Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. We're going to have that for you in just a few moments.
But, tonight, we have got big news from the campaign trail, Sarah Palin sitting down for her first exclusive CNN interview. She explains why she brings up socialism every time she talks about Barack Obama's economic plan.
Also, just two weeks from Election Day, our latest poll of polls showing Barack Obama has his biggest lead of the campaign. John McCain, though, does see a path to victory, in one word, Pennsylvania. We are going to break down his strategy and show you why Obama could have some challenges there.
Plus, our nightly segment, who hits the bullseye? Wait until you see what some Muslim McCain voters did at a recent rally. They were dead on. We're going to explain why.
But first tonight, cutting through the bull. Tonight, your tax dollars at work. Flipping through "The Washington Post" this morning, I came across a fascinating story about an age-old Washington tradition. It is one that kicks into high gear toward the end of pretty much any administration, the painting of official portraits.
You might even remember this moment , when President and Mrs. Bush invited President -- there you go -- you can see it there -- and Senator Clinton to the White House for the unveiling of the Clintons' official portraits. But what you may not know is that this little perk isn't reserved only for presidents. Cabinet secretaries get them, too.
So, what's the big deal, you say? Well, according to "The Washington Post," the cost of these portraits ranges from $7,500 to nearly $50,000. Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld went high- end. The Pentagon, "The Post" reports, is currently awaiting delivery of Rumsfeld's portrait, total cost, $46,790.
The Commerce Department is spending $35,000 on a portrait of Secretary Carlos Gutierrez, 25 grand for the former NASA administrator, $29,500 for the outgoing head of the EPA. And the list goes on and on.
Now, I hear what defenders of this practice say: This is for history. A portrait will outlast any photograph. But come on. In this economy, with the financial crisis we are all facing, guys, take a picture.
Now let's get right to the news of today: Sarah Palin unplugged. She spoke out just a little while ago in a one-on-one with our Drew Griffin. And it didn't take long for them to get to the campaign's buzz word of the past few days: socialism. Ever since Barack Obama said he wanted to -- quote -- "spread the wealth around," John McCain's running mate has been using the S-word. Let's take a listen.
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Socialism, it has come up on the campaign trail now.
GOV. SARAH PALIN (R-AK), VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Sure.
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 businesses, more from our families, and then redistribute that according to his priorities.
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, him representing, you know, "Jamie Engineer," and "Molly the Dental Hygienist," and "Chuck the Teacher," and all of these good, hardworking 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, though, 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 are 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, hundreds of billions of dollars more, this is not a time to use the economic crisis as an excuse for reckless spending and for greater, bigger government and to move the private sector to the back-burner and let government be assumed 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 of 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 anybody, any entity that has 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, what we're going to need to know more about what the Democrats have in mind for this additional bailout.
BROWN: The conversation also turned to a comment that Palin made last week suggesting some parts of the country are in, her words, pro- America, implying that other parts of the country are not. Now, that set off a storm of controversy.
Listen to her explanation.
GRIFFIN: You've said -- you've talked about America, and certain parts of America --
PALIN: Yes, yes. GRIFFIN: -- that are maybe more American than other parts of America?
PALIN: I don't want that --
PALIN: No, I do not want that misunderstood. When I go to these rallies, and we see the patriotism just shining through, these people's faces and the Vietnam veterans wearing their hats so proudly, and they have tears in their eyes as we sing our national anthem and -- it is so inspiring. And I say that this is true America.
You get it. You understand how important it is that in the next four years we have a leader who will fight for you. I certainly don't want that interpreted as one area being more patriotic or more American than another. If that's the way it has come across, I apologize.
BROWN: Coming up next: what Sarah Palin says to some critic, some in her own party, who say she is not qualified to be one step away from the Oval Office.
But, first, urgent development from the campaign trail -- in spite of Barack Obama's biggest lead yet in our poll of polls, John King will map out John McCain's latest comeback strategy.
BROWN: Long lines in Florida, you can see right there, as voters descend on polling places where they can cast early votes. With two weeks to go before Election Day, we have seen estimates that as many as 2.2 million votes have already been cast in at least 34 states. Half-a-million of those votes are in key battleground states, like North Carolina.
Let's take a closer look. This is according to North Carolina Elections Board -- 56 percent of the early votes were cast by Democrats, 28 percent by Republicans.
So, what's the Republican strategy now to turn things around -- or try to turn things around in these battleground states?
are going to will bring in chief national correspondent John King to walk us across the magic map.
And, John, I know John McCain's path to victory -- you have said it many times -- has become increasingly narrow. He's having to make some really tough choices, isn't he? Tell us what you're hearing from inside the campaign.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Incredibly difficult, Campbell. You might say threading a needle for John McCain. Let's go through the map and look. And, remember, we start right now with Barack Obama leading in enough states to already win the presidency, if nothing else changed, 277 electoral votes for Obama -- 270, it takes to win.
So, here's what they think inside the McCain campaign. Increasingly -- now, they're not giving up on Colorado, but increasingly, looking at the ground operation, looking at the trend in the polling, they think Colorado -- we have it a tossup right now -- they think that these nine electoral votes would go not red, like they did for George Bush two times in a row, but go blue for Barack Obama.
Look at what that would do. It would give Barack Obama a commanding lead. So, the McCain challenge and the McCain imperative is to do this. Take Florida's 27, make them Republican. North Carolina, you mentioned the early voting. I was there this morning in North Carolina. It is overwhelming, the early voting, but McCain has to win it. Right now, it's a tossup, 20 electoral votes in Ohio. Out here in Missouri, another 11 electoral votes.
And then Nevada, Barack Obama in the most recent poll up three or four points. The McCain campaign has to find a way to come back out here in Nevada.
And then what happens, Campbell? Look, even then, if John McCain ran those states I just showed you, he is behind. The only way they think they can win this election is right here. Not since 1988 has Pennsylvania gone Republican. They think they need to turn it around. They think, Campbell, inside the McCain campaign, it could be their only hope.
BROWN: Well, explain what the thinking is what their strategy is for Pennsylvania, because we're going to be talking a lot more about it coming up.
KING: Let's take a closer look at the state of Pennsylvania. We will pull it out. Again, it is blue if you close down to the national map. It is blue because John Kerry carried the state last time by 51 to 48.
But if you notice all this red out here, the votes for the Democrats are in the city of Philadelphia and up in this blue-collar area here, and again out in Pittsburgh. The strategy for the McCain campaign, win huge in what they call the T., which is this area right here, the huge conservative T., win huge there, and there's a big controversy.
Jack Murtha, the congressman, has said a lot of the voters in Western Pennsylvania are racist. Let's look at this in the Democratic primary context. John Murtha's district is over here, just to the east of Pittsburgh. The light blue here is Hillary Clinton and how well she did in the primaries. John McCain has to do well in these blue-collar areas where Hillary Clinton did well, has to do much better than George Bush did down here in the Philadelphia suburbs.
At the moment, he is not, Campbell. That's a huge challenge, but they have decided inside the campaign they must win Pennsylvania. And let me close just by showing you this. They say they must win it. Well, this is what it looks like right now. This is our CNN poll of polls, Obama 53, McCain 40.
So, with two weeks left, they're down 10, 12 points there. They say, internally, their polls are a little bit closer, Campbell, a very difficult state. But, again, if you go back to the electoral map, and we will come back to this map here, they believe their only way to do it, if they don't win it, Obama wins the election, even if they win everything else. If they do win it, John McCain can win it. It is a very difficult, difficult strategy, though, Campbell.
BROWN: All right, John King for us tonight.
We're going to take a closer look at that strategy, at Pennsylvania, and why the McCain campaign believes that it may well come into play and what it may have to do with one of Pennsylvania's most powerful members of Congress, and how -- John touched on this -- he keeps putting his foot in his mouth, calling Western Pennsylvania racist and redneck.
We will talk about that when we come back.
And, then, later, in part two of our interview with Governor Sarah Palin, she talks about being mocked and being the target of so many verbal attacks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Western Pennsylvania is the most patriotic, most God-loving, most -- patriotic part of America. And this is a great part of the country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: John McCain spent the entire day campaigning in Pennsylvania, the key state in his new turnaround strategy. And he's actually getting some unintended help from a prominent Obama supporter, Congressman John Murtha, a Democrat from Western Pennsylvania.
Now, last week, Murtha called the western part of his own state a racist area. Here it is, as posted on the Web site of the "Pittsburgh Post-Gazette" newspaper.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN MURTHA (D), PENNSYLVANIA: Well, he will have a tough time. You know, there's no question Western Pennsylvania is a racist area. And, when I say a racist area, I mean that they -- well, the older -- older people are hesitant. You know, they slow in seeing change, real -- real change.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BROWN: Now, Murtha has been trying to explain that one basically since he said it last Wednesday. But some of those explanations, like this one yesterday, haven't exactly helped. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MURTHA: What I said was -- that indicted everybody. That's not what I meant at all. What I mean is, there are still folks that have a problem voting for somebody because they're black. This whole area years ago was really redneck.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: So, campaigning in Pittsburgh a couple of hours ago, John McCain gleefully jumped all over Murtha's comments.
Check it out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCAIN: I think you may have noticed that Senator Obama's supporters have been saying some pretty nasty things about Western Pennsylvania lately.
MCCAIN: So, I will give some of Senator Obama's supporters some credit. At least they're saying these things openly, instead of behind closed doors at a San Francisco fund-raiser.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: So, what does our political panel think of about all of this?
We want to bring in now Republican strategist Kevin Madden, who was national press secretary for Mitt Romney's presidential campaign, and is now a McCain supporter, CNN political supporter Gloria Borger. And hopefully Roland Martin is going to be joining us here in a second. We were having some technical problems with his live shot.
But, Gloria, let me start with you.
It takes a loot lot of chutzpah to call your own constituents rednecks. You spoke, I know, to Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell this afternoon, a big Obama supporter, and he sounded a little nervous about Pennsylvania, didn't he?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, the governor thinks the Democrats are still ahead in this state. He's not quite so sure they're ahead by the double-digit numbers that some of those polls would show. So, Campbell, what he's done, he told me, he's written the Obama campaign two memos in the last five days. And he said to them, we need to get Barack Obama back in this state. We need to get Hillary Clinton here, and we need to get Bill Clinton here -- because he's worried, McCain has been there so much, Sarah Palin's been there, Cindy McCain has been there, that they are going to get their enthusiasm up in the state and they are going to be able to get their voters out in those parts of the state that John King was just talking about. And, so, he seems to be a little nervous.
BROWN: And, Kevin, clearly, the McCain campaign -- I mean, what we just heard from Senator McCain -- sees an opportunity here.
Obama certainly in the primaries had a lot of trouble with white, working-class voters in those areas. Do you think Murtha's comments in a way reopened those old wounds and it is, in fact, an opportunity?
KEVIN MADDEN, FORMER ROMNEY CAMPAIGN NATIONAL PRESS SECRETARY: Well, sure, it does. It presents an opportunity for McCain to go out there and again make the argument that Barack Obama is every bit of a conventional liberal politician who doesn't really connect with the values and a lot of the policies that a lot of these people in Western PA, other rural parts of the state and some of those areas around Philadelphia.
The issues like taxes, the issues like Second Amendment rights, I mean, this -- this presents an opportunity for McCain to again revisit the remarks that Barack Obama made out at a San Francisco fund-raiser about people in Pennsylvania being bitter about the economy and claiming to gods and guns, and allows him to again set up the contrast between him and Barack Obama on the issues that they care the most about.
BORGER: Campbell, he wants the -- the governor wants Obama back in Western Pennsylvania, he told me. He wants him in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. He wants him in Philadelphia also, and because he wants them to also have a rally where suburban voters would come.
So, you know, I think that -- I think that the governor of this state is saying, look, we think we're going win this state, but don't make the mistake of thinking that we have got it locked up.
MADDEN: Yes. And if I could just make a point on, that, Campbell.
BROWN: Yes, go ahead, Kevin.
MADDEN: You know, a lot of the times, any time a campaign would go into a state like this where you see the numbers seemingly indicating that they shouldn't be in the state, that means that they're seeing something internally that many of us that are sitting on the curb watching the parade go by haven't.
BORGER: Right. MADDEN: And I expect that these numbers are probably coming down to the single digits.
And in areas around Philadelphia, where a bulk of the vote is going to come out of that state, they're probably seeing very soft support for Barack Obama. And they want to go in there and again hammer home on that economic message, and continue to pass -- make sure that those voters have those lingering doubts are solidified about Barack Obama.
BROWN: Let me bring in Roland into this -- I know Roland just joined us now -- and get your take, Roland, on whether Obama does need to do some reassuring to folks in those areas.
ROLAND MARTIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, first of all, we are 14 days out. Clearly, every governor who -- if you're a Democratic governor, you want your candidate in your state. I'm sure the North Carolina governor, I'm sure the Virginia governor, they are all saying the exact same thing.
But here's one thing that I think needs to be said about Murtha. The guys representing that district for 30-plus years? I think he may know his people better than anybody on this panel. So, it's amazing how people sit here and say, what is Murtha saying?
MADDEN: That doesn't make it any less offensive, Roland.
MARTIN: Kevin, Kevin...
BROWN: And, also, Roland, offensive to those people.
MARTIN: I'm making a point. He represents his district. Was it a dumb comment to make? Of course it was. It was ridiculous. It made no sense.
But I know that Murtha knows the district better than I do, so he could be speaking from the heart.
MADDEN: No, he offered a sweeping generalization about people and how they vote and their voting patterns in a way that cast aspersions on them.
MARTIN: Hey, Kevin, are you from there? Are you from there?
MADDEN: My wife is actually from Sewickley, which is in Western PA. I know the area very well. And guess what? I also happened to work on the president's reelection campaign in 2004. So, I traveled throughout the state.
BROWN: Come on, Roland, let Kevin finish. MARTIN: He lives there. He knows it better than we do, OK? Dumb comment to make. It doesn't help the campaign all, but the bottom line is, look, he knows it better than anybody else does.
BROWN: Guys, let's move on to another subject here. And let me bring this up with you, Gloria.
I thought it was pretty fascinating when these numbers came out, a new poll from NBC News/"Wall Street Journal." And they asked voters to describe their attitudes toward the candidates they're supporting. The largest portion of Obama supporters, 52 percent, say they're excited by their choice.
But you look at this. The largest group of McCain supporters, 39 percent, call McCain their choice the lesser of two evils.
There's a real enthusiasm gap here that transcends a lot of other stuff that's going. How big a problem is this for McCain?
BORGER: Right. It is a big problem.
You have seen this throughout the Republican primaries. The Democrats were always more enthusiastic about their candidates, whether it was Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton, the Republicans less so.
I think, after the choice of Sarah Palin, you saw a real uptick in enthusiasm for the McCain/Palin ticket. And what you're seeing now in that poll, Campbell, is that it's starting to come back down again, that that enthusiasm level has just not continued the way it was after the Republican Convention.
BROWN: And, Kevin, how do they get that back? Is it possible to get that back?
MADDEN: Well, it is.
I think that the problem with that enthusiasm gap is that it just shows that you can't really run a base election in this kind of environment. What you have to do is go out there and, again, make the case to a lot of these swing Democrats and these independents, because the enthusiasm gap is where it probably hurts your base the most.
So, you have to go out there and find out those -- those conservative Democrats, like-minded independents. And you have to make sure that you make the case to them on economic issues and national security issues, so that they come out and support McCain.
BROWN: OK, guys, to Roland, Kevin, and Gloria, thanks. Appreciate it.
Coming up tomorrow, I do get a chance, we want to tell you, to talk one-on-one with California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, our exclusive interview. His state's economic problems have kept him from doing a whole lot on the presidential campaign trail. So, we're going to have a lot of catching up to do, no bias, no bull interview right here tomorrow night.
Next, are Barack Obama's economic plans anything close to socialism? We're going put that to our no bull test, something that's getting talked a lot on the campaign trail.
And who is that -- check this out -- trying to put handcuffs on Karl Rove? This is no joke. Somebody actually tried this. Stay with us. We are going to explain to you what happened there.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PALIN: Barack Obama calls it spreading the wealth. And Joe Biden calls higher taxes, he calls that patriotic.
PALIN: But Joe the plumber said -- Joe the plumber said it sounded to him like socialism.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
PALIN: And now is not the time to experiment with socialism.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: That was Sarah Palin on the campaign camp trail this morning talking socialism. It has suddenly become her vogue word, with pretty much every speech tying Barack Obama to socialism.
But is Obama advocating anything close to socialism? And is it really a dirty word, as Sarah Palin seems to be suggesting here?
We are going to put the whole thing to our no bull test.
Tom Foreman is here to do that for us.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Campbell.
Is Barack Obama really suggesting that this country should experiment with socialism? Well, you have to look at definitions to answer that question.
In the strictest sense, socialism is the kind of government that lies between capitalism and communism. Socialism was almost a dirty word in this country during the years of communism's rise in Russia and China. In a more general sense, socialism is when the government takes broad ownership and control over private land, factories, and production.
So, listen, as Obama responds to McCain's allegation that Obama's tax breaks will take money from you and give it to people who don't pay taxes, a redistribution of wealth, which has often been associated with socialism.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: What he's confusing is the fact that, even if you don't pay income tax -- there are a lot of people who don't pay income tax -- you are still paying a whole lot of other taxes.
You're paying payroll tax, which is a huge burden on a lot of middle-income families. You are paying sales taxes. You're paying property taxes. There are a whole host of taxes that you're paying. So, when we provide an offset to people who are -- to the waitress or to the janitor, these folks are working. This isn't some giveaway to people on welfare.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOREMAN: Obama's tax plan is a tax plan. It's not socialism. Neither is his health care plan or any of his plans to get government more involved in markets, because they're just not broad-based enough to meet the technical definition.
If that's socialism, Americans have had it for a long time. After all, our government has had degrees of control and ownership in railroads, telephone companies, retirement programs, medical care. The list goes on and on. And what about these plans recently approved by Democrats and Republicans to take control of banks and some other private businesses to stabilize the economy?
Palin's implication is misleading. Only if you think we already have a lot of socialism in our government and you're welcome to think that, only then, though, can you say Obama is promoting it -- Campbell.
CAMPBELL BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: The truth teller, Tom Foreman for us tonight. Tom, as always, thanks.
Coming up, Karl Rove in handcuffs. We're going to tell you who tried to arrest President Bush's former top political adviser.
And later, a video that we believe really hits our "Bull's-Eye." A couple of McCain supporters broke out the anti-Muslim rhetoric at one of the candidate's recent rallies. And if you think you know what happens next, well, trust me, you don't. Actually, you're going to want to see this when we come back.
BROWN: We're doing something new on the show that we call "Bull's-Eye." It is people who have something smart to say who we believe really hit the nail on the head when they say it.
Tonight we take a look at what happened when a McCain supporter started tossing around some anti-Muslim rhetoric at a rally. And hint here, it's not exactly what you'd expect.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, FROM AMERICAN NEWS PROJECT)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mohammed himself taught to deceive the infidel in order to progress Islam. I know that you know that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You just said Obama is a socialist.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A socialist with Islamic background or some part.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's anti-Islam. And that's not what our Constitution is about. You're here being anti-Islam, but you're complaining against people in Muslim countries being against Christianity. You don't believe in the Constitution.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Absolutely.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, you don't. You wouldn't put that on there if you did.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: OK. This needs a little explanation and we are going explain it to you when we come back. That's coming up.
Also ahead, Sarah Palin, one-on-one answering questions about her attempts to get a state trooper dismissed and what she'll do if the Republicans don't win the White House.
BROWN: Gary Tuchman is going to join us right now. He'll be back in a few minutes with "The Briefing" for us.
But first, time for "Bull's-Eye." The guy or guys in this case who just nailed it and really made us think. So there is this piece of video that's gone viral. It had us all talking today and it's from a McCain rally, an exchange involving an online journalist, a McCain supporter, and a man spreading lies about Barack Obama.
Just look at what the man was handing out. I think we have some video here. Bumper stickers mocking Obama's campaign message. They feature the crescent moon. That's the Islamic symbol, of course. A hammer and a sickle, a symbol of communism.
Well, tonight's "Bull's-Eye" goes out to the McCain supporters who wanted to set the record straight. They stood up for the truth and confronted the guy spreading the lies. Check out the video from the American News Project.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE, FROM AMERICAN NEWS PROJECT)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know that you know that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You just said Obama is a socialist -- UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A socialist with Islamic background.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you defend that claim? What makes you think he has Islamic background?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He learned a lot, raised in madrassa. There's a lot of background. There's a lot of stuff to read on. I can't do it right now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you Muslim, ma'am?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am Muslim.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There you go.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This woman is a Muslim.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You said you're combining Islam with a Soviet Union flag.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That is not Muslim. You know what?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. Are you Muslim, ma'am? Are you Turkish?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, I'm Kurdish.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kurdish.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm one of the campaign chairs. I'm Muslim. I'm chairman of the (INAUDIBLE) campaign. I was an elected McCain delegate. Yes, but he's not with the campaign so you don't have to worry.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I work with the campaign.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm with the campaign and we don't endorse that behavior. So --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You don't endorse this man's behavior?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The McCain campaign doesn't endorse your behavior, sir.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm for McCain. You know that there are some parts --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But you're anti-Islam. And that's not what our Constitution is about. You are here being anti-Islam, but you're complaining against people in Muslim countries being against Christianity. You don't believe in the Constitution.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Absolutely.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There you go. You wouldn't that put that on there if you did.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can be of any religion and be for McCain.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm a veteran for McCain.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can be of any religion and be for McCain.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I ran for United States Congress. I was endorsed by John McCain.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think in any way how bad things are questioned Barack Obama's ties but we need to do that in a respective manner. And you're making a point on Islam, which is an excellent point with regards to extremist Islam. Do you, as a McCain supporter, approve of this man's technique?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. I'm not racist at all.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you offended?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
BROWN: Gary Tuchman joining us now because Gary's covered a lot of these McCain rallies. And, Gary, I think this tape points to the fact to the case the McCain campaign has often made, which is, that these are isolated incidents and you saw at least in this case a lot of people here who, in our view, hit the "Bull's-Eye" coming forward to condemn the fact that somehow Muslim has become a campaign slur.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That tape is a very important symbol that we were just looking at because I've been to McCain rallies and Palin rallies and each rally I've seen people like that, but they are very, very small minority. Almost everybody at these rallies are good, hardworking Americans who want John McCain and Sarah Palin to be running this country.
It was really interesting this weekend. Colin Powell, he endorsed Barack Obama, made the statement that he finds it very distasteful that some people in his party have linked Barack Obama and Islam and terrorism, and it raises a very interesting question. That is, what's wrong with someone who is a Muslim becoming president of the United States?
And that's something I experienced this summer, Campbell. We did a story about some Americans who do believe Barack Obama either is or was a Muslim. And after we did the story and obviously, it isn't true, he's a Christian. But after we did the story, we got a little of e-mails saying well, what's wrong if he was a Muslim. And that's an important point.
Muslims are dying in Iraq. They're dying in Afghanistan. And there are Muslim children today, great Americans who want to be president of the United States like other Americans. So what's wrong with Muslims being president? What's wrong with Muslims being great Americans? And that's what Colin Powell was trying to say this weekend. That is just all very distasteful.
BROWN: Worth highlighting that tape, too. Gary Tuchman for us tonight. Gary, thanks.
Coming up, we're going to have more of our one-on-one interview with Sarah Palin. Her dire prediction if Obama's elected, she says. We'll tell you about that and what she's saying about the state trooper scandal in Alaska.
But first, a protester tries to slap handcuffs on Karl Rove, real-life drama on a political stage. That's coming up next.
BROWN: Still ahead, how both of the candidates' wives are reaching out to military families. First, though, Gary Tuchman back with tonight's "Briefing."
TUCHMAN: Campbell, a major scare at 30 Chase banks nationwide. FBI agents say someone sent letters containing suspicious powder to Chase banks in eight cities. Agents said the letters were threatening, but tests showed the powder posed no threat.
Police in Arkansas want to know if a Little Rock anchorwoman was a victim of a random attack or a target to her popularity. Anne Pressly was severely beaten in her home Sunday night or Monday morning. She anchors the morning news on CNN affiliate KATV. Tonight she's in critical but stable condition.
Texas Governor Rick Perry wants the Feds to cover cleanup costs from Hurricane Ike for 18 months. The federal government planned to pay for debris removal and other assistance for just six more days. Today Governor Perry said Ike caused $11 billion in damage, the costliest disaster in Texas history. And I can tell you firsthand, there's a huge cleanup still to go.
Political drama on stage as the president's former chief of staff, Karl Rove, spoke in a mortgage banker's conference in San Francisco. A protester tried to slap handcuffs on Rove. She called it a citizen's arrest for treason. Rove slapped back and the woman was taken off stage. Other protesters tried to interrupt as Rove and former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell exchanged barbs.
And a Web site that passes along bad news is gaining in popularity. The Web site, inspot.org sends anonymous e-cards from people infected with a sexually transmitted disease to their bedmates. The webmaster says more than 50,000 e-cards have been sent over the past four years. Most e-cards tell sex partners to get checked right away. Others said it's a serious message using dirty language.
Back to Karl Rove, Campbell. Did you see his reaction? He didn't even look at her. He just kind of moved away and looked straight ahead the whole time. BROWN: Bizarre. I thought it was a joke at first.
TUCHMAN: I know. I know.
BROWN: I can't believe that really happened.
All right. Gary Tuchman for us tonight. Gary, thanks.
In a few moments, the king of politics, Larry King, is looking at the very dynamic situation just two weeks out until Election Day. Tell us more, Larry.
LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": Oh, thanks, Campbell. And welcome to Los Angeles.
BROWN: Thank you. It's good to be here.
KING: Nice to have you in the same studio.
BROWN: I know.
KING: Looks like Barack Obama is opening up a big lead on John McCain. What does it mean if anything with two weeks until Election Day? We'll discuss that and the fact that some prominent Republicans have defected to the other side and could that be a major difference?
Plus, Sarah Palin's first interview with CNN. Is she defensive or decisive? You can be the judge. That's next on "LARRY KING LIVE" -- Campbell.
BROWN: All right. Larry, we'll see you in just a few minutes.
Coming up next, Sarah Palin looks down the road. Is she thinking of running for president in 2012? A question she was asked. More of our one-on-one interview with Palin when we come back.
BROWN: Now we've got more from Sarah Palin's one-on-one with Drew Griffin. How does she respond to charges she improperly tried to get an Alaska state trooper fired and would she ever consider running for president herself?
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SPECIAL INVESTIGATIVE UNIT CORRESPONDENT: There's one thing that's followed you negatively.
GOV. SARAH PALIN (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Tasergate. Right. Right.
GRIFFIN: You call it Tasergate...
PALIN: We sure do. GRIFFIN: ... Troopergate, whatever. The branch file report said you were perfectly in your right to fire Monegan.
PALIN: Right. Right.
GRIFFIN: But also found out that you violated the ethics. Was it a mistake to allow your husband to use your office to try to pressure the troopers to fire Mr. Wooten?
PALIN: Not at all because a, that the trooper who had tasered his kid and had, you know, made death threats against my family and said he was going to bring the governor down and all that, my husband did exactly I think what any sensible, reasonable father, husband would do who was concerned about their family's safety.
GRIFFIN: But was it a mistake to allow him to use the governor's office to that extent?
PALIN: Not when you look at other governor's track records when they had their spouse, as for instance, Governor McCloskey (ph) had his spouse as his top adviser and she was in meetings, she was in the office. So you know, kind of double standard here, but what Todd did was what any reasonable husband and father would do.
He followed the instruction of the Department of Public Safety's own personal security detail that is our personal protection. They asked Todd, you have a problem with this state trooper. He is a threat. You need to take that to the commissioner of the Department of Public Safety. Todd did exactly that and then, of course, he got clobbered for it now in the media because there's a misunderstanding of what he's done.
GRIFFIN: Governor, if in two weeks you're not elected...
GRIFFIN: ... do you come back at the top of the ticket in 2012?
PALIN: I'm concerned about and focused on just the next two weeks, Drew, and again, getting that message out there to the American public. Thankfully, too, the American public is seeing clearer and clearer what the choices are on these tickets.
I think some revelation just occurred not just with Joe the plumber, but 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 to in terms of the contrasts 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 his 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?
PALIN: Well, who knows what Joe Biden was talking about? You know, all you have to do, 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 that first, that could be a scenario that results in a testing of our country. And the four or five other scenarios that he's talking about, I don't know. I hope that Joe Biden will explain it.
BROWN: And Drew Griffin who did that interview, joining us live from Reno, said that we can debrief him a little bit.
And, Drew, she has come forward and done more interviews with reporters and been more open with the press over the last couple of days. But certainly at the beginning of this campaign when she first was chosen as Senator McCain's running mate, she was very much sequestered and really limited her access to the media. Does she have any regrets about that?
GRIFFIN: I kind of asked her if she felt that she was bottled up. She wouldn't say if she had any regrets about that. She just said, look, we're being more open now. We're getting our word out now.
I specifically asked her about CNN because you know, Campbell, that we've been trying to get an interview for several months and she said, look, I'm getting my message out now.
I think the campaign, the McCain campaign may finally feel comfortable about having her out and perhaps, you know, my opinion, that they may have done themselves a disservice in those early days of just lining her up for a couple of really big interviews where she took some hits instead of just rolling her out and letting her talk and answer these questions.
BROWN: And she, of course, has complained a lot about her view that the media has been unfairly critical of her, certainly compared to Senator Biden. GRIFFIN: Yes. Critical of her and picking and choosing parts of her record that are unflattering while not showing any parts of her record that are flattering. I asked her how she stacks up in this race. You know, is she indeed incompetent as some even conservatives would say?
She goes, look, I'm the only one in this race that has executive experience. She's the governor of Alaska. She's proven to be popular there. I asked her, well, then, then who do you blame for not getting that message out?
And again, she just said look, I'm trying to get that message out now. We're here to get that message out. She did say that if you look at Joe Biden, look at the gaffes that he makes. Look at what he gets away with, that's what she said, he gets away with, and then look at how I'm treated in the press. I think you can basically see where the press lies in this race.
BROWN: Did she have any direct response to what Colin Powell said about her? You know, she was certainly part of his decision he made clear in choosing to endorse Barack Obama, or was she more general about some of her conservative critics?
GRIFFIN: No, I didn't ask her specifically about Colin Powell. We had a limited timeframe. But I did ask her about the conservatives who were coming out against her and she said it was rather unfortunate, of course, but she didn't single out anyone for a particular comment.
BROWN: Drew Griffin for us tonight. Drew, we appreciate it. Thanks much.
Coming up, Michelle Obama's military mission. We're going to take a closer look at her message to service wives and moms in audience that you think would be tough on Democrats. We'll explain when we come back.
BROWN: Michelle Obama on a mission, one to win the hearts and votes of service wives and moms. And she's up against some tough odds, you can say, not the least of which is the other woman who would be first lady, Cindy McCain, herself a mother of a soldier serving in Iraq.
Randi Kaye is in the Navy town of Pensacola, Florida, where Mrs. Obama spoke earlier today. And, Randi, how's the message playing out there?
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's playing very well here, Campbell. Actually, Michelle Obama, as you know, started out on the campaign trail holding these small, intimate meetings with working moms and then she began to focus on the military moms and the military wives. She says that in some small way with her husband out on the campaign trail all year, she can relate to them and she's looking to help them. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
KAYE (voice-over): Call it her tour of duty.
MICHELLE OBAMA, BARACK OBAMA'S WIFE: I've spent a lot of time traveling around and talking to military families, because what is clear is that when our troops go to war their families go to war.
KAYE: Michelle Obama, under the radar. Her mission -- pull military families into Barack Obama's column. With John McCain, an ex-Navy pilot, Team Obama had some work to do.
OBAMA: There's only one candidate at all who has a timetable for responsibly bringing our troops home from Iraq.
KAYE: She seems to be getting through. This mother of six says her husband is about to leave for his fourth tour in Iraq. She was a registered Republican until Michelle Obama touched her. Now, she's voting Democrat.
ANITA DOBERMAN, MILITARY WIFE: You can tell she's sincere. She cares and she has initiatives that she's talking about improving the health care which is already a great benefit, but having more access for troops and comes up to mental health care when they come back from the war.
KAYE (on camera): More than 6,000 supporters showed up at this rally in Pensacola, Florida. The goal was early voting, but Michelle Obama took the opportunity to talk to the military wives, the military moms in the crowd. She thanked them for their loved ones' sacrifices and promised to take care of them when they returned home.
(voice-over): Michelle Obama had also held smaller gatherings with military spouses like this one.
OBAMA: Barack and I know that too often it feels like you're alone on your own in this struggle. I've heard stories all over this country of military families trying to hold it together with not enough support.
KAYE: Cindy McCain has also met with families of soldiers in Iraq, this week in Pennsylvania, but she hasn't focused on the issue. She has questioned Michelle Obama's patriotism after she said this in February about her husband's campaign.
OBAMA: And let me tell you something, for the first time in my adult life I am proud of my country.
CINDY MCCAIN, WIFE OF JOHN MCCAIN: I'm proud of my country. I don't know about you, if you heard those words earlier. I'm very proud of my country.
KAYE: But military wives supporting Obama say they found an ally in Michelle Obama. Wendy Barrett's husband is in Iraq for another year. WENDY BARRETT, MILITARY WIFE: We need to know that someone cares. We have to know that someone feels what we feel. When we are there for a year at a time or two years at a time, and it's just tough on our children.
KAYE: So you feel alone?
BARRETT: Yes, we do. Yes, we do.
KAYE: Now in talking with these moms at the rally, you can see how tough it is for them. But, Campbell, they've managed to hold on to their sense of humor. One of them told me that there's a joke among military wives that the appliances at home seem to know when the husbands are deployed because that is when they all break -- Campbell.
BROWN: All right. Randi Kaye for us tonight. Randi, thanks a lot. Appreciate it.
That's all for now from Los Angeles. Tomorrow my one-on-one interview with California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
"LARRY KING LIVE" starts right now.