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AMERICAN MORNING

Obama and Clinton Team Up in Florida; Obama to Visit Ailing Grandmother; Analyzing the Palin Factor on the Campaign Trail; Economy Hits U.S. Cities, Mayors on Cash Crunch

Aired October 21, 2008 - 07:00   ET

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


KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: One minute after 7:00 here on the East Coast. A look at the top stories this morning.
Even the signs show a thaw in the credit market. Investors on Wall Street are anticipating a tough morning. The Dow did rally over 400 points yesterday. Now, though, Dow futures are down.

Overnight, Japan's Nikkei made more gain. In London, stocks are trading flat right now.

Fed Chief Ben Bernanke is backing a second stimulus plan to keep the economy moving in the right direction.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BEN BERNANKE, FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIRMAN: If the Congress proceeds with a fiscal package, it should consider including measures to help improve access to credit by consumers, home buyers, businesses and other borrowers. Such actions might be particularly effective at promoting economic growth and job creation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: Well, we have some brand new poll numbers showing three out of four Americans think things are going badly in the country. We've only seen numbers this sour four times in the past 40 years, and our poll shows it's making most of you feel angry, scared and stressed out.

Also, take a look at this. It's a protest rally against Governor Sarah Palin in Grand Junction, Colorado, spilled on to the streets in front of the oncoming motorcade. Police had to drag mass protesters out of the way. Here's a listen to how chaotic it got.

Police say both Palin's (INAUDIBLE) motorcade likely wouldn't have stopped. One officer was hurt but police say the injuries are not life threatening.

Barack Obama leaving the campaign trail for two days. Thursday and Friday, he's going to Hawaii to visit his grandmother who's gravely ill. 85-year-old Madelyn Dunham helped raise Obama. He talks about what a crucial role she played in his life. Michelle Obama will fill in for her husband at rallies in the battleground state of Ohio.

And Obama is in Florida for a second day in a row as well. He's getting help on the campaign trail from a familiar face.

Our Suzanne Malveaux is covering the Democratic ticket. She's live for us in Lake Worth, Florida, this morning.

Hi, Suzanne.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hey, good morning, Kiran.

Well, obviously, Barack Obama focusing on this important swing state of Florida. As you mentioned before, he is going to take a break part Thursday and Friday to visit his gravely ill grandmother, Madelyn Dunham. She is 85 years old. He's going to go back to Hawaii to visit with her a little bit.

Doing a documentary on Obama, I had a chance to talk to friends and family about the relationship. His sister Maya saying they are very close. He calls her "toot." That is short for tutu, the Hawaiian word for grandmother.

She never wanted to be called grandmother, but obviously they are very close. She and the grandfather raised Obama for a good part of his teenage years in Honolulu, so he's going to visit with her later in the week.

In the meantime, he is focusing on Florida, a key state for a win.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MALVEAUX (voice-over): With just two weeks left, Barack Obama's secret weapon, former rival Hillary Clinton.

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: You can vote today, tomorrow, the next day and begin our march to take our country back.

MALVEAUX: Once fierce opponents now in a rare appearance together in Florida, the state that gave Clinton a win in their unsanctioned primary.

CLINTON: Tell them Hillary sent you to vote for Barack Obama.

MALVEAUX: In the battleground state of Florida where presidential ambitions have rested on hanging chads, early voting began. New Democratic voters outregister Republicans 2-1 here, and Obama needs everyone of them.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I want you to go vote. Don't -- don't wait until November 4th.

MALVEAUX: Here the financial crisis has been devastating. Forty-four thousand homes in foreclosure, the second highest rate in the country behind California. Obama is making the case his financial plan will benefit them, the working class. John McCain's, the rich.

OBAMA: No tax. That's my commitment to you. You can take that to the bank.

MALVEAUX: Despite supporting the federal government's biggest intervention in the financial markets since the Great Depression, McCain is accusing Obama of going one step further, promoting a system of government control over private industry or socialism.

OBAMA: It is true that I want to roll back the Bush tax cuts on the very wealthiest Americans and go back to the rate that they paid under Bill Clinton. John McCain called that socialism.

MALVEAUX: Obama also mocked McCain's running mate, Sarah Palin, for saying if she had a magic wand she'd prefer not to use the automated calls her campaign is being criticized for.

OBAMA: You really have to work hard to violate Governor Palin's standards on negative campaigning.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MALVEAUX: And, Kiran, likely Obama not really going to discuss Sarah Palin very much. He's holding an economic summit is what they're called here with governors from four different Republican leaning states, Ohio, New Mexico, Colorado, as well as Michigan. Obviously trying to capture some of those supporters in the Republican states. They are all Democratic governors. He is certainly hoping to emphasize what so many people are talking about here in Florida, the foreclosures, the home foreclosure problem and jobs -- Kiran.

CHETRY: Suzanne Malveaux for us this morning. Thanks.

ROBERTS: Meanwhile, the McCain camp is pulling no punches, dishing up blistering attacks against Senator Obama. And it is Sarah Palin that is landing some of the hardest blows.

Our Ed Henry is traveling with the governor today. He joins us bright and early from Grand Junction, Colorado, this morning.

Good morning to you, Ed.

ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John.

You know, Sarah Palin herself has been taking some hits from Republicans back in Washington lately but it's a whole different story for her out here on the trail.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HENRY (voice-over): In the final days out here in battleground states like Colorado, Sarah Palin is treated like a rock star still drawing much bigger crowds than John McCain.

PALIN: Barack Obama calls it spreading the wealth. Joe Biden calls higher taxes patriotic. Joe the plumber said it sounded to him like socialism. And now is not the time to experiment with that.

HENRY: She's ripping into Barack Obama, and the party faithful is digging her feistiness.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So I think she's different. She's not the bureaucracy that we've been putting up with and putting up with and putting up with for so long in Washington. She's changed.

HENRY: It's one of the great unknowns about the final two weeks. Can the Palin factor drive enough conservatives to the polls to offset Obama's gains with independent voters?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: It may well be that there is a -- there are a group of people out there now find it politically incorrect to be for Sarah Palin in public, but they're going to vote for her in the privacy of the voting booth.

HENRY: Former Secretary of State Colin Powell is hardly alone among establishment Republicans, however, in believing Palin actually hurts the Republican ticket.

GEN. COLIN POWELL, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: I don't believe she's ready to be president of the United States which is the job of the vice president.

HENRY: Conservative "New York Times" columnist David Brooks has called Palin a "cancer" on the Republican Party. While former Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan wrote in "The Wall Street Journal," "There is little sign that she has the tools, the equipment, the knowledge or the philosophical grounding one hopes for, and expects, in a holder of high office." But there may be a disconnect between elite Republicans and the party faithful.

RICK STENGEL, MANAGING EDITOR, "TIME" MAGAZINE: I think Sarah Palin is still very popular among the conservative base. There are other conservatives, the conservative intelligencia who have peeled off and think that maybe it was a mistake.

HENRY: More so than McCain, she has built a fervent following that may show up on Election Day for the Republican ticket.

ALEX CASTELLANOS, GOP STRATEGIST, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Don't underestimate the Palin voter. They're still out there. They're still intense a lot of those voters.

PALIN: Live from New York it's Saturday Night!

HENRY: And her solid performance on "Saturday Night Live" suggests that regardless of what happens on Election Day, Palin could be a winner. If McCain pulls out a comeback victory, she'll get plenty of credit. If he loses, she could be the heir apparent in 2012.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HENRY: And if McCain falls and Republicans lose more ground on Capitol Hill, there's going to be a lot of soul searching in the party. Palin very well could emerge as the future face of that party, John. ROBERTS: All right. Ed Henry for us this morning, Grand Junction, Colorado. Ed, thanks so much for that.

Nine and a half minutes now after the hour.

Financial fallout.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DIANE BRADY, SENIOR EDITOR, "BUSINESS WEEK": We're going to see a fundamentally different world.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: Is capitalism dead? Christine Romans on what government bailouts and bank investments mean for our financial future.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A little socialistic medicine now will probably prevent a lot of socialistic medicine later on.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHETRY: You know, we've heard the recent talk about socialism on the campaign trail. But here in the biggest free market economy in the world, we have the government owning shares in banks. We're bailing out insurance companies and intervening in markets to a degree not seen since the Great Depression, something that's been supported by both candidates for president. So is capitalism dead or is it just wounded right now?

Christine Romans "Minding Your Business" this morning with a look for us.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: It's a big question. The American government seizing companies, taking over savings and loans, buying direct stakes in the banking system. It's not what you expect from a free market economy. You'd be forgiven for thinking it sounds like Karl Marx-style socialism.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS (voice-over): Has it really come to this? On the cover of "Business Week," capitalism spelled with a "K." The "K," of course, denotes socialism. "Business Week" senior editor Diane Brady says America's financial system has changed forever.

DIANE BRADY, SENIOR EDITOR, "BUSINESS WEEK": Not just if the Democrats come in, even if McCain comes in, we're going to see a fundamentally different world. And that's a world in which the government takes a much more active role in the economy.

ROMANS: The greatest free market economy in the world on the puppet strings of the government? Money manager Steven Leib (ph) is concerned.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think capitalism has received a shock. What's free enterprise all about if governments are now taking, you know, major roles in major financial institutions.

ROMANS: First Bear Stearns. Then AIG, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac. Now, Uncle Sam is buying banks. Ironically, the Treasury secretary built his substantial fortune on Wall Street. Now, he's orchestrating the largest government intervention in the business since the Great Depression grudgingly.

HENRY PAULSON, TREASURY SECRETARY: Government owning a stake in any private U.S. company is objectionable to most Americans, me included.

ROMANS: Objectionable but necessary. The Bush administration insists these measures actually save capitalism.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The government intervention is not a government takeover. Its purpose is not to weaken the free market. It is to preserve the free market.

ROMANS: All of this government intervention prompts cries of socialism, but is capitalism with a "C" really dead?

BRADY: This is not communist Russia. This is not even China. We're in a situation right now where people have seen the excesses, offense that the Wall Street has run amuck and that the private markets have run amuck. And how do you fix that? You fix it with more regulation.

ROMANS: Regulation, the bane of Wall Street. But Leib says the alternative is an economic collapse and that could leave the government in complete control.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A little socialistic medicine now will probably prevent a lot of socialistic medicine later on.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS: For lovers of free markets, all of this is very unsavory. Capitalism may not be dead, but there is no doubt, John and Kiran, it is wounded here.

ROBERTS: We'll all be wearing berets pretty soon.

ROMANS: I don't think so. But it certainly has been -- we've heard the word unprecedented so many times it's just remarkable the distance that the free market and American-style capitalism has traveled over the past year.

ROBERTS: It really is quite extraordinary. CHETRY: Acknowledging it, talking about it, that's half the battle.

ROMANS: Right.

CHETRY: You know, people that never cared to, you know, find out a lot about this stuff are really reading up on it right now because it is. It's an unprecedented time.

ROMANS: Right.

CHETRY: So maybe we'll find a solution in all of this.

Thanks, Christine.

ROBERTS: Thanks.

You're not the only one who is worried about balancing your budget. America's mayors have to belt tighten like never before. So what's the right way and the wrong way to make those necessary cuts. Two big city mayors battle it out.

Blame it on the boys. Our high levels of testosterone to blame for the trouble on Wall Street. It's not as crazy as you might think. Dr. Sanjay Gupta looks at what drives men to take risks.

You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: Twenty minutes now after the hour. And time to fast forward to see what stories will be making news later on today.

Governor Sarah Palin is sitting down with CNN for the very first time. Our Drew Griffin is speaking with her, and you could see that interview later on today on "THE SITUATION ROOM" with Wolf Blitzer, Wolf Blitzer, Wolf Blitzer, beginning at 4:00 p.m. Eastern this afternoon.

Closing arguments are expected this afternoon in the corruption case against Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska. He is accused of taking a quarter of a million dollars in gifts under the table. The jury is expected to begin deliberations tomorrow.

And legal arguments start today in Florida for NASA astronaut Lisa Nowak. You remember in February of last year, Nowak drove from Houston to Orlando and attacked a romantic rival. She faces attempted kidnapping and burglary charges.

And that's what we're following this morning.

And now to Atlanta and Rob Marciano, a man who's never had a problem like that.

Good morning to you, Rob. ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Thank you, John. I'm watching a couple areas of concern. Across the northeast, windy weather, some rain, also some snow mixing in upstate New York and northern New England. And also the potential for seeing severe thunderstorms roll across the plains today.

Temperatures will be in the lower 60s across the northeast, lower 70s across the southeast, and lower 80s across parts of Texas. Tomorrow we get a little bit more into the storm which will bring more thunderstorms across the central U.S. And now there are winter storm watches that are posted for parts of Nebraska. We could see several inches of snow there.

All right. Switch gears a little bit, talk about a discovery made along the Arizona/Utah border, an area called Vermilion Cliffs Monument Park. Here some researchers kind of found a bunch of dinosaur tracks over a thousand of them in an area that they think used to be kind of a sandy, you know, wasteland of desert but they think they found so many dinosaur tracks in this area that it was probably a watery oasis, almost like a party. They think the dinosaurs were on the happy side. So a big discovery.

They kind of reminds me of something that happened 20 years ago, a song in the '80s, "Boom Shaka Laka."

You have the video? No video? Do you remember that, John?

(CROSSTALK)

ROBERTS: It's just you, Rob. Do a little shuffle there, Rob.

MARCIANO: Oh, no, come on. The dancing dinettes, there they are. Come on. I'm not going to compare this to the scantily-clad dancing dinettes. There they are.

I think these guys were a one hit wonder, but it definitely had a groove to it. And they celebrated the dinosaurs of 190 million years ago -- John.

ROBERTS: All right, Rob.

MARCIANO: Do you remember that video back when you were a V.J.?

ROBERTS: I have no idea what you're talking about, Rob. Thanks for that. Appreciate it -- Kiran.

CHETRY: Hey, it brings back some good memories, though. How about that? Forgot how much I like that song.

Well, like many American families, a tough economy means mayors from coast-to-coast are forced to take a look at their own budgets in their own cities, makes some cuts. Their advice for the next commander in chief about the hard decisions needed to put the country back on track. One mayor is supporting John McCain, the other is supporting Barack Obama. We're going to speak to them when we come back. It's 22 minutes after the hour.

CHETRY: Big city bypass.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LARRY SABATO, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA CENTER FOR POLITICS: Most of their supporters are rural.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: Carol Costello looks at why both candidates are steering clear of city folk.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SABATO: He wants to project the same small-town America values.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Our economy is in crisis.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The financial crisis.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The most serious economic crisis of our time.

MCCAIN: We've seen huge swings in the market.

ALI VELSHI, CNN SENIOR BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Up 936.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Biggest one day point gain ever.

VELSHI: A drop of 733 points.

BLITZER: Second largest daily point loss ever.

PALIN: John has a plan.

MCCAIN: I have a positive plan.

OBAMA: My plan.

SEN. JOE BIDEN (D), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Some genuine ideas.

PALIN: To create over 30,000 new jobs.

OBAMA: We'll create another two million jobs.

MCCAIN: Create jobs.

OBAMA: Create jobs.

H. CLINTON: Jobs, baby, jobs.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: Well, that's just a snap shot of the campaign trail with jobs and money on everyone's mind. It's no shocker that people are stressed. There's brand new poll numbers out this morning about the mood of the country as people get ready to go to the polls and the feelings haven't been this bad since Watergate, the Iranian hostage crisis, and the recession of 1992.

There's a quarter of the country now, one in four people think things are actually going well. All the rest they feel things are going badly. Digging a little deeper, we found out that three out of every four people are angry and stressed about the way things are going and that two-thirds of the country saying they're scared.

The recent economic meltdown is taking its toll on America's cities. Mayors from coast-to-coast are facing budget short falls and tough decisions about where and how deep to cut.

Joining me now to talk about this, we have Newark, New Jersey Mayor Cory Booker, and San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders.

Thanks to both of you for being with us this morning. And you know, your cities certainly have unique problems and challenges that are unique to your city but it's something that we're seeing across the country.

And I want to ask you first, Mayor Sanders, San Diego now in a $43 million hole in the budget and you warned of significant and possible -- possibly drastic cuts that need to happen. How badly is the overall economic crisis affecting your city?

MAYOR JERRY SANDERS (R), SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA: Well, it's affecting the city. I think the region is still doing fairly well. We've got defense spending up. We've got strong life science biotech hi-tech economy.

But as we saw a month ago, literally life has changed as we know it. And the $43 million gap and a billion dollar general fund budget is pretty hard to plug. We've already cut 700 positions over the last two years. So it's going to be very difficult. We'll have to cut about that many more.

CHETRY: And, Mayor Booker, you're also in Newark there, you guys were undergoing a revitalization but you're also having a deal with maybe to balance things out. You had to cut the city's workforce by 10 percent since taking office. What are you guys looking at as a city in terms of where you are economically? MAYOR CORY BOOKER (D), NEWARK, NEW JERSEY: Well, definitely, it's a tale of two cities here. In Newark, there is challenging financial times. You know, the subprime crisis is hurting us. Energy costs are going up, which really hurts a city like ours. But at the same time, we're well positioned in the economy in the sense that we're 10 miles from New York City.

A lot of people are looking for cheaper class A real estate. We have hundreds of millions of dollars worth of investment, new housing starts. So Newark is benefiting because people don't want to commute as far to work. They want to be at mass transit. But the city hall is definitely hurting in terms of the rising costs in everything from health insurance to energy, and we have to make some very difficult decisions.

CHETRY: In a -- I want to ask both of you, but I'll start with you, Mayor Sanders. Both of the candidates on the campaign trail are talking about tax cuts in one way, shape or form. It's arguable over who will be the recipients of those tax cuts. But do you think that's realistic to even be talking about or promising in this next administration?

SANDERS: Well, they're going to have to do something to jumpstart the economy. And I don't pretend to be an economist. What we're trying to do is to make sure we streamline so we don't have to raise taxes and we're not asking our voters to raise them. Instead, we'll cut some city services but we'll keep our core services the way they are. So police and fire we'll make sure aren't touched in this but we'll certainly have to be cutting some of the other discretionary programs we have.

CHETRY: And, Mayor Booker, on the national level, Barack Obama, and you're a Barack Obama supporter, is promising a tax cut, he says, for 95 percent of Americans, is that something that's realistic right now looking at our deficit and where we're going to be in the hole next year?

BOOKER: Well, even in the crisis we're here on the local level, we've been able to keep taxes flat. But government has had to make a lot of changes. So I hope that on the federal level we can see our residents in America with more money in their pocket. But frankly, government has to do business, though, in a dramatically different way and I hope that that's the kind of change and believe that's the kind of change that Obama will offer.

But frankly, we need to find ways to invest in America again and job training and a new economy and creating green jobs, and finding ways to empower cities like mine and like San Diego, to be greater engines in our economy again and produce wealth, produce opportunity and produce jobs. And I'm hoping the federal government will have that kind of attitude when it comes to our American cities

CHETRY: And Mayor Jerry Sanders, when you talk, you're a McCain supporter, you said things like I know how to fix this, I know how to get us out of this crisis, do you have confidence that John McCain is the right answer for our struggling economy? MAYOR JERRY SANDERS, SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA: Well, I do. I think John McCain has always been up front with the American people. I think he's shown a tremendous amount of courage and integrity. He's been willing to work on both sides of the aisle. So I believe John McCain can do that job. But I think at a local level we're going to have to take care of ourselves. We're not going to see a government bailout to cities where Mayor Booker and I are trying to make ends meet. But what we have to do, as he said, is take advantage of the opportunities. We're working with our universities to develop a new clean tech cluster with our hi-tech clusters and our bio-tech clusters where. So we diversify the economy even more.

CHETRY: All right. Just a last word before we leave. Mayor Booker, do you see things getting better down road? I mean, we talk about the American people being a little bit depressed about where we're heading in the future. Do you think this is just a temporary blip?

BOOKER: Yes, this is the United States of America. Our history shows incredible crises and problems but every single time we've got up, we stood strong and we move forward. I have faith in the American people and I have faith in the American economy. This is going to be difficult times. We have to tighten our belt. But we are America and we are going to move forward. We're going to get through this and we're going to do it much better together with leadership like we have from San Diego to New Jersey, we're going to move forward and I have a lot of faith in that.

CHETRY: Mayor Cory Booker of Newark, New Jersey and Mayor Jerry Sanders of San Diego, California. Thanks for speaking with us this morning.

SANDERS: Thank you.

ROBERTS: Coming up now at 32 minutes after the hour, breaking this morning. Major news about a second stimulus package that may be headed your way soon. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke threw his support behind a it "significant second effort to spark the nation's failing economy yesterday."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BERNANKE: Consideration of a fiscal package by the Congress at this juncture seems appropriate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: He wants it to include help for people in businesses who can not get loans. Right now Dow futures down about 60 points. But stocks made half a trillion in gains on that news yesterday up more than 400 points. And even more uplifting economic news. Gasoline prices still going down, all the way down to $2.89 a gallon now, according to AAA this morning. The last time we were anywhere near that was almost a year ago.

Brand new video into CNN as protesters get dragged out of the way of Sarah Palin's motorcade in Colorado. Take a look at what happened. More than half a dozen people tried to block the road putting themselves and the police in danger. One officer fell backwards almost into oncoming traffic as he was trying to move a pile of people out of the way. No one was seriously hurt in that incident though. There's a local investigation underway as to exactly who was involved in the protests. And we're told that arrests may follow.

And the ref makes the tackle. Take a look at this. It happened during the LSU- South Carolina game on Saturday at the five yard line. The league said well the referee was just protecting himself. The ref may have had a flashback in his days at the SEC. He was three year starter and linebacker for Kentucky in his playing days. Good tackle there.

Exactly two weeks now until America votes and all throughout we have heard about small town issues on the campaign trail. Big cities? Well, not so much. The plumbers are getting praised. The bankers are getting booed. So what about the other 80 percent of the population? AMERICAN MORNING's Carol Costello joins us now live from Washington.

Good morning to you, Carol.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John.

You know, Joe the plumber is so much more relatable than Melvin the metro sexual. Seriously though, you don't hear urban issues loudly touted by either candidate even though the bulk of the population live in and around cities and there's a reason for that.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COSTELLO (voice-over): If you live in Dallas, Cleveland, L.A. or even New York City, forget about it. Small town America is where it's at politically speaking. The candidates are largely ignoring big metropolitan cities to blanket towns like Holland, Ohio.

OBAMA: Good to see you.

COSTELLO: Dalton, Missouri and Greensboro, North Carolina.

PALIN: We believe that the best of America is in these small towns being here with all of you hard working, very patriotic, very pro-America areas of this great nation.

COSTELLO: Things like that make big town America feel like nowhereville.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I wouldn't say they work a little bit harder living in this kind of environment is probably a lot harder than, you know, being in the middle of nowhere.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With the economy now everybody has to work hard. So I don't think it's a factor of small town or whether your name is Joe.

COSTELLO: But analysts say don't expect Republicans to give big city U.S.A. a figurative hug. Take a look. McCain's Web site urges voters to make an online video detailing how you are Joe the plumber. If it's good it will become an official McCain TV ad.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Most of their supporters are rural. The largest percentage of the vote being devoted to the Republican ticket this year is coming from rural America.

COSTELLO: Middle America is a sea of red. Still the majority of Americans don't even live in small town America. As "Time" magazine's Joe Kline put it, "we haven't been a nation of small towns for nearly a century. It is the suburbanites and city dwellers who do the fighting and hourly wage work now, and the corporations who grow our food."

Yet neither candidate is loudly wooing urbanites. Not even Barack Obama.

LARRY SABATO, POLITICAL ANALYST, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA: He wants to project the same small town America values that people may associate with the Republican Party. So this puts him in a homey personal setting that probably does him well.

COSTELLO: But Sabato's says the strategy is a tad risky for Obama because he's more likely to run into voters critical of his party. It wasn't Holland, Ohio where Obama met -

OBAMA: I think when you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody.

COSTELLO: Joe the plumber.

Now a Republican hero.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COSTELLO: Now the big worry here is that big city problems will be overlooked for small town concerns. But some analysts say it's not that the candidates don't care about big town U.S.A., some analysts say Obama is treading lightly on big city concerns to avoid alienating white voters who don't live in big cities and John McCain is busy solidifying his base and that's located in small town U.S.A..

ROBERTS: All right. But what exactly do they consider a big city? Are we talking about New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Chicago or do we include places like St. Louis and Dallas and Houston and places like that?

COSTELLO: Well, Barack Obama has visited St. Louis and Tampa and I believe Miami. So I'm talking about the big huge urban centers like Philadelphia, like New York City, like Los Angeles, and San Francisco.

ROBERTS: The ones that just happen to traditionally vote Democratic.

COSTELLO: That's right. He doesn't really need to campaign there, does he?

ROBERTS: All right. Thanks. Carol Costello for us this morning. 37 minutes now after the hour.

CHETRY: Hanging in the balance.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to plan for a recount and pray that we don't have one.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: The land of the hanging Chad runs into problem with its new voting system, too. A look at how Palm Beach County misplaced thousands of ballots.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They weren't lost they were in the warehouse.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAM JEFFERSON CLINTON, FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It will not be a close election unless the people forget what the election is about. That's why I've gone to such lengths to put it out like this. I want you to go out there and talk to everyone you can in the next two weeks and when you get reluctance, just talk to people. Don't get mad at anybody. We can't afford being mad. We can't afford it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: Former President Bill Clinton trying to carry Nevada for Barack Obama. It's a state that he took twice and with huge turnout expected across the country on election day, we're looking out for your vote. All this week, we're investigating potential problems in key battleground states in our special series, "Count the Vote."

And today, fears there could be a bad case of deja vu all over again in Florida, John Zarrella is reporting from the battleground.

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, Kiran, eight years ago all eyes were on hanging Chad. Well the Chad is gone but maybe not another election day mess.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

You saw people that would circle their candidate.

ZARRELLA (voice-over): Brad Merriman does a lot of praying.

MERRIMAN: Our motto right now is we're going to plan for a recount and we'll pray that we don't have one.

ZARRELLA: Merriman, a county administrator was brought in to oversee the general election after a botched election in August in Palm Beach County. You remember that place. It's home of the infamous butterfly ballot in 2000. This time 3,500 votes were misplaced.

MERRIMAN: They weren't lost. They were in the warehouse.

ZARRELLA: Eventually, they were found and counted. It was understandable human error, Merriman says. Why? A new voting system. The entire state has gone to optical scan machines which provide a paper trail.

MERRIMAN: We put our ballot back in the scanner and it took it.

ZARRELLA: Palm Beach County is one of 15 counties using the system for the first time. Together they account for 50 percent of the state's voters. In this county alone potential land mines are everywhere. 700,000 voters here have never used the system. The ballot is long, two pages and if there's a recount.

MERRIMAN: We could have a million and a half pieces of paper.

ZARRELLA: The new system is a first for many poll workers too. In Hillsborough County, that's across the entire state of Florida, training sessions are held nearly every day.

MERRIMAN: When they scan the elbows, they scan from the middle out.

ZARRELLA: Volunteer poll worker Nancy Bailey feels the pressure.

NANCY BAILER, VOLUNTEER POLL WORKER: I'm a little nervous about this election because I think it's a huge, huge major turnout. And I want it to go well. Because we don't want Florida in the news again.

ZARRELLA: The voter is being educated too. Public service announcements and DVDs are going out.

ANNOUNCER: He or she hands you a paper ballot and pen and shows you the correct way to vote.

ZARRELLA: Instructing voters on how to use the new machine. If there are any problems on election day -

BUDDY JOHNSON, SUPERVISOR OF ELECTIONS, HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY: We have a system of GPS radio-dispatched technical team with vans that can be anywhere in the county within 10 minutes, 10 to 15 minutes.

ZARRELLA: Add to the mix statewide voter turnout that could be 90 percent, including half a million first time voters.

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ZARRELLA: Election officials say they know getting it all to go right is going to be a daunting challenge and they are not overconfident. On November 4th, just like Brad Merriman, many of them may be praying -- John, Kiran.

CHETRY: John Zarrella for us in Florida, thanks.

Well, tomorrow we're taking a tough look at ACORN. It's the organization that turns in thousands of new voter registrations every week many of them from poor and minority areas. It's offices raided after allegations that employees used false names and addresses to boost their numbers. It's part of our "Count the Vote" series tomorrow on AMERICAN MORNING. And if you have concerns about possible voting irregularities in your state. We want to know, you can call us toll free at 877-gocnn-08. 877-gocnn-08.

ROBERTS: Blame it on the boys. Are high levels of testosterone to blame for the trouble on Wall Street? It's not as crazy as you might think. Dr. Sanjay Gupta looks at what drives men to take risks.

You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."

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ROBERTS: Coming up now at 47 minutes after the hour. Everybody is looking for somebody to blame for this current financial crisis. Well, you might not have to look any further than men. A new study says high levels of testosterone may correlate to money trouble. Who better to ring on this than our Dr. Gupta. And we're paging him this morning.

Sanjay, what are researchers saying about this role of gender in the chaotic markets that we're seeing going on?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, it's interesting. They are saying that there might be a biological factor to all the risk taking that we've been seeing in particular. And it's exactly what you said, trying to correlate this predominantly male hormone testosterone with risk and risk taking. What they did, it's a relatively small study, just 100 people. What they did is they measured testosterone before putting the people in this experiment, trying to figure out how big of a risk taker they were.

Testosterone incidentally can be measured in someone's saliva. So it's very easy to measure. And what they found men was that men who had the highest levels of testosterone overall in the group tended to be riskier overall in their decisions. For example they tended to invest more money, 10 percent more on average. Not an earth shattering amount more but certainly more. As much as the decision were based on rational thinking, there was also this sort of a greater risk taking that the researchers called at sometimes irrational.

Now, what's interesting is that through evolution this seems to make sense. Men who had the highest levels of testosterone tended to take more risk, tried to hunt the biggest game, try to make the most money to make themselves more attractive to their mates. But in this situation that I think you alluded to, it can sometimes lead to the downfall overall of the entire system. John.

ROBERTS: Yes, it's always a problem when you try to impress people we found that out. We know that well.

GUPTA: You distilled it down pretty well. That's right.

ROBERTS: But here's the question that a lot of people are thinking this morning. Does that mean then that women should be making all the big decisions when it comes to money?

GUPTA: Well, you know, the researchers talked about that component as well. And that's obviously sort of a fascinating idea. A couple of things. One is that they tend to find that stress can sometimes cause people to really rise to the occasion, be more risk taking or it can be inhibitory. People with lower levels of testosterone including women, sometimes stress could actually inhibit them, not a desirable trait necessarily.

But they did find as far as even keeled decisions both women and older men who tend to have less testosterone tended to make more of those even keeled decisions. But the biggest risks and subsequently the biggest gains were taken by those men who had the highest levels of testosterone. So you can see, John, it's sort of a double edged sword there.

ROBERTS: I see, you want to pay you got to play is that what you're telling us?

GUPTA: More risk, more gain. That's what they say.

ROBERTS: All right. Sanjay, good to see you this morning. Thanks so much.

GUPTA: Thanks, John.

ROBERTS: 49 1/2 minutes after the hour now.

Fear of fraud. People being paid to register voters charged with doing whatever it takes to turn a buck. And in some cases they are even switching people's party affiliation without them knowing.

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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is serious. This is a felony to register falsely.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."

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(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOE WURZELBACHER, JOE THE PLUMBER, CONCERNED VOTER: I'm a flash in the pan. You know, I'm just a novelty. You know, Joe the plumber is going to be fun for a couple of days and then it's going to go away.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: That was Joe the plumber. It's time to check in with the truth squad in this hour. We're talking about and specifically is the man made famous in last week's presidential debate now being attacked by the Obama campaign.

Alina Cho joins us now with the charge and the verdict. Hey, Alina.

ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, Kiran. Arguably, the most famous man in America right now, Joe the plumber. Good morning, everybody.

Most people know by now that John McCain put Joe the plumber in the media spotlight last week in the last presidential debate. Now McCain is charging that Joe has become the Obama campaign's newest target.

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MCCAIN: And certainly Joe didn't ask to be famous. And he certainly didn't ask for the political attacks on him from the Obama campaign.

CHO (voice-over): But is Joe the plumber really being attacked by Barack Obama? By now, almost everyone knows Joe Wurzelbacher's story. He spoke with Senator Obama during a campaign stop in Ohio. He said he was hoping to buy a company that pulls in more than $250,000 a year and was concerned that a President Obama would raise his taxes.

OBAMA: If you've got a plumbing business, you're going to be better off, if you've got a whole bunch of customers who can afford to hire you. And right now, everybody is so pinched that business is bad for everybody.

CHO: It seemed Joe's 15 minutes of fame ended right there. But you know what happened next. John McCain brought up Joe's story repeatedly during a debate and used him as a symbol of what McCain claims is Obama's flawed tax plan. The next day, Wurzelbacher was everywhere and so were reports about his background. Several news outlets said Joe the plumber didn't even have a plumbing license. The Obama campaign had a lot to say about Joe and Senator McCain.

OBAMA: He is trying to suggest that a plumber is the guy he's fighting for. How many plumbers do you know making $250,000 a year?

BIDEN: I don't know many plumbers that are making $250,000 a year and worried about it. We're kind of worried about you know Joe the fireman, Joe the policemen, Joe the real plumber with a license. (END VIDEOTAPE)

CHO: All right. But are Senators Obama and Biden really criticizing Joe the plumber or are they criticizing John McCain for even making Joe an issue in the first place? That's the question. So the truth squad verdict on this one is in dispute. John McCain says the Obama campaign has launched political attacks on Joe Wurzelbacher, better known as Joe the plumber.

The truth squad says the Obama campaign's comments can be interpreted that way, but they can also be interpreted as simply commentary on McCain's rhetoric, rather. And as always, not a lot of black and white in the final weeks of this campaign. Just a lot of gray here, Kiran.

CHETRY: A lot of Joe.

CHO: That's right.

CHETRY: Alina, thank you.

CHO: You bet.

CHETRY: More stimulus checks.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BERNANKE: ... essential to stabilize the financial system as soon as possible.

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CHETRY: What to expect, when to accept it? Plus, Obama's beloved grandmother.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: She poured everything she had into -

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CHETRY: The campaign halted for her. And trying to stop Sarah Palin, at all costs. Dragged in the streets, protesting Palin.

You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN: We finally learned what Senator Obama's economic goal is. As he told Joe, he wants to spread the wealth around. He believes in redistributing wealth, not in policies that grow our economy and create jobs and opportunities for all Americans.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ROBERTS: Charges of socialism out there in the campaign trail on the part of Senator John McCain's campaign, saying that Barack Obama's tax plan is socialism. Senator Mel Martinez of Florida even went so far as to call it communism. Well, no question our next president is going to instantly inherit enormous national financial issues - the deficits, the bailouts, job losses, fears of a recession and the government now has a heavier hand in America's money woes than ever before.

CNN's special correspondent Frank Sesno is in Washington and he joins me now.

Frank, it's good to see you. You know what, when you throw around words like socialism on the campaign trail, it certainly you know fires up the faithful. But you know, when you take a look at it, regardless of whether you're talking about a tax plan and redistributing the wealth or this bailout plan, there's no question that the government is going to be more involved in the private sector than it has been in recent years.

FRANK SESNO, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: And certainly since World War II. Look, whether we want to call it socialism or not, and this is not socialism in the sense of European socialism where government, you know, owned transportation companies and communication companies and wanted to. This is socialism in the sense of sort of the era of big government is back.

Remember that Clinton speech about 102 years ago, John, where he said the era of big government is over? Well, the era of big government is back and we've seen it with hundreds and hundreds of billions of dollars injected into the financial system with the Fed as the principal lender in the private industry now and the American taxpayers on the hook for all of it.

And yes, they're talking about new stimulus packages, another $300 billion of stimulus the way some in Congress want to do it. So whoever this next president is, he may get in there and find himself with a deficit pushing maybe $1 trillion. That's almost unimaginable.

ROBERTS: So this idea that the budget deficit and we're not talking of debt here. The debt is $10 trillion. But the deficit, the one-year deficit could approach, if not exceed $1 trillion. And that's a staggering, staggering figure.

SESNO: Staggering.

ROBERTS: And what could that mean to the candidates' plans for health care, for tax cuts, other promises that they've made along the campaign trail?

SESNO: Well, both of these candidates in their dream-a-vision, you know, politicking here have promised a lot of things. McCain, a variety of tax cuts, cut the capital gains tax, cut business taxes, make the Bush tax cuts permanent, let people get into their IRAs without tax penalty. Obama has promised not just tax cuts of his own, but also health care and roads and bridges and helping states and education, on and on and on. John, if there's a $1 trillion budget deficit, it's going to crowd out a lot of private spending, private lending. That's what we saw in the high deficit years. A lot of people believed in the Reagan years. And it's going to make the running room that any president and any Congress has much narrower because there's just going to be less to play with.

And nobody is talking about, at the same time all of this is happening, the baby boomers, more and more of them are starting to cash Social Security checks. The first one did it in January of this past year. Think of what's going to happen over the next four or eight years. Where is all this money going to come from?

ROBERTS: That's a question that a lot of people have, Frank. And I don't know anybody who has got a good answer to that.

SESNO: If we find them we should put them on the show here.

ROBERTS: There you go. Well we'll keep looking hard.

Frank Sesno for us in Washington this morning. Frank, it's good to see you, thanks.

SESNO: Good to see you, John.

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