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Fighting Modern Day Slavery; Early Voters Cast Their Decision; Candidates Hit Battleground States as Time for Campaigning Winds Down
Aired October 22, 2008 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
GWYNETH PALTROW, ACTRESS: I'll be voting from London, but you can vote from anywhere.
KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: And she means anywhere. You can still get out the vote, even if you are out of the U.S. Working overtime to reach Americans overseas.
Slavery, a thing of the past? Think again. A descendent of two freedom fighters continues their struggle, casting off the chains of modern day slavery.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One (INAUDIBLE)?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Add (INAUDIBLE)?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
PHILLIPS: Economy down, box office up. No silver lining to your economic cloud? You might want to head for the silver screen.
PHILLIPS: Hello, everyone. I'm Kyra Phillips live in the CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta, and you are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
Let's get right to it.
Does New Hampshire still love John McCain? Can Barack Obama turn Virginia blue? Voters already deciding through early or absentee balloting, but we won't know their verdicts for, all together now, 13 more days.
Georgia another of the states that we're focusing on this hour. It is leaning toward McCain this year. In fact, it has not gone for a Democrat since 1992. And voter enthusiasm as we have seen in other states is very high and about 15 percent of Georgia voters have already cast their ballots. Now we have reporter standing by at two hot spots for early voting. Sean Callebs is in Plantation, Florida.
Fredricka Whitfield is in Gwinnett County, Georgia, just outside Atlanta. We'll check in with Sean a little later this hour, but now let's go a head and go to Fredricka. She is in the Atlanta burbs. Early voting has become a very popular thing to do in Georgia this election season, Fred, that's for sure. What are you seeing today?
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is. It is. And guess what, Kyra, since our last shot, this line is shorter by about 30 minutes. I know it doesn't look like it from this vantage point, because that is door. But if you spin around and look the other way, we once had people all the way at that tree, well, now it is a bit shorter. So it will take about an hour and a half to get through the line and be able to cast your ballot early.
Georgia, one of 31 states taking advantage of this early voting, no excuses; meaning anyone who wants to vote can. That is what we are seeing out here already. The turnout has been huge across the state. Over 700,000 people have taken advantage of the early voting.
Let's talk to some of the people to find out why they have decided to come out and stand in line, even if it means an hour and half now.
How about for you?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I travel a lot for work, so this makes it more convenient for me, to take care of it and still work my schedule.
WHITFIELD: So, when you drove up and saw this line, were you thinking for a moment you were discouraged that it might be a little longer than expected, or what?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, I always vote. I was undaunted.
WHITFIELD: All right, very good. You always vote, but a lot of folks are taking advantage of voting early for the first time. How about for you?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is my first time to vote early. And I'm so excited to see so many people out. I am excited and I will stand here until my time comes.
WHITFIELD: It is pretty exciting, because we came here early this morning and by 7:00 a.m. and 8:00 a.m., there were a lot of folks already in line. They had their benches out, they had their books, you know, ready for daylight to start reading, et cetera. People are really enthusiastic about this election. Why do you suppose it is?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I suppose because we need a change. We need a change. I think that more people is keyed in on it. Especially the young people, I am excited to see so many young people. So I feel that everyone is interested in getting a change. And, myself, at 68 years old, I am ready for a change, too.
WHITFIELD: OK, you look good at 68, don't you?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, thanks so much.
WHITFIELD: All right, well, Kyra, you have a pretty good handle there of why folks have come out and they are taking advantage of this. And people are very enthusiastic, just like her. All morning we have been talking to people who were saying, you know what, it doesn't matter that it is an hour and half, or even two hours. They are just glad that this opportunity come about that they don't have to worry about their work schedules, or school schedules, all that, come Election Day. So they're doing it now and getting it done.
PHILLIPS: All right, Fred, just one more time. Let's go back to her; 68 years old. Let's get one more shot of that beautiful woman there behind you.
WHITFIELD: They want to see you one more time.
PHILLIPS: Yes, we want to see her one more time. Take off those sunglasses.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, you are so kind.
PHILLIPS: Here we go. I love it.
WHITFIELD: That was the most important part.
PHILLIPS: That is very good.
WHITFIELD: All right. We will feel even better once she gets inside to cast that ballot.
PHILLIPS: There you go. Do her voting. All right, thanks, Fred.
Well, CNN is keeping them honest. If you have trouble at the polls, call the CNN voter hotline, help us track the problems. We will report to trouble in real time. Call this number 1-877-462-66 --. Let me get that number right. Let me look on the screen. 1-877-462- 6608. We are trying to keep them honest and the number, too, all the way through the election and beyond.
Now, John McCain has a soft spot for New Hampshire. But is it still mutual. The Republican nominee won the New Hampshire primary in 2000 and again this year, but the landscape has changed since January. And New Hampshire polls now favor Barack Obama .
Today, McCain asked New Hampshire voters to come out one more time. Also today, McCain sat down for a one-on-one interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer. Wolf alluded to a weekend prediction from Joe Biden that a President Obama would soon face a challenge from abroad. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Do you believe America's enemies, whether terrorists or hostile governments would test you in the first six months of your presidency?
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have already been tested. And I'm astonished and amazed to hear Senator Biden predict that the untried, untested president Obama will be tested by our enemies, and we may not agree -- or his own backers may not agree. Look, I have been tested. Senator Biden referred to the Cuban Missile Crisis. I was there. We came that close, as historians say, to a nuclear exchange. And Senator Biden expects, his own running mate, expects Senator Obama to be tested in that way. That is a remarkable state.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIPS: You can see all of Wolf's interview on "THE SITUATION ROOM" 4:00 p.m. Eastern, right here on CNN.
As you may have seen here on CNN, Barack Obama spoke last hour at a rally in Richmond, Virginia. Earlier today he met with his team of national security advisers and afterwards he brushed aside questions about running mate Joe Biden's remark that Obama would be tested quickly by a major crisis, if elected president. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Whoever is the next president is going to have to deal with a whole host of challenges, internationally, and that a period of transition in a new administration is always one in which we have to be vigilant. We have to be careful. We have to be mindful that as we pass the baton in this democracy that others don't take advantage of it. It is true whether it is myself or Senator McCain.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIPS: Obama also noted that Senator Biden is prone to what he described as rhetorical flourishes.
The date is set and now the crisis must be confronted. The economy is issue #1 for you and me and for leaders all over the world. The White House has set a date for a global summit to be hosted by President Bush and aimed at confronting the worldwide financial crisis. The leaders of the G20 group of countries will meet on November 15th, 11 days after the presidential election. The White House says it is too early to say if the president-elect will attend.
Those leaders have a tough job ahead especially when it comes to winning you over. A new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll shows that the $700-billion U.S. bailout growing less popular as time goes on. As 40 percent of Americans surveyed now favor it, and 56 percent oppose it. And 46 percent favored it in a poll earlier this month. Now the poll also shows that 58 percent favored government aid to homeowners who can't pay their mortgages. But the same number think that it is a bad idea for the government to buy stock in struggling companies.
Now, on Wall Street the earnings reports keep rolling in, and as they do, so do the plans to cut thousands of jobs at some of the nation's largest companies. Susan Lisovicz is at the New York Stock Exchange with more on where those layoffs may be coming from.
SUSAN LISOVICZ, CNN FINANCIAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Kyra.
Unfortunately they're coming from lots of different sectors. The U.S. economy has lost jobs every single month this year, but the problem has really become so much greater since the credit crunch became a credit crisis, because businesses are having a hard time -- have been having a hard time getting access to credit.
So we are expecting to hear, along with a lots and lots of quarterly earnings, some layoffs. Yes, we heard from two giants today. One in the pharmaceutical sector, one in the tech sector, both Merck and Yahoo! say they will be giving pink slips to thousands of employees. After clocking in with a nearly 30 percent drop in quarterly profit, Merck said it plans to slash more than 7,000 jobs over the next three years to in order to cut costs.
Yahoo!, meanwhile, said it will cut 10 percent of its workforce or more than 1,500 employees by the end of the year. It is the second major round of job cuts for Internet giant which saw the earnings tumble 65 percent.
All of those concerns, well, they are weighing on the market. You know, interestingly the credit market continues to show signs of improvement, but the depth, the duration of the economic slowdown, well, it is slowing down the bulls. No question about it. The Dow is off of the worst of the session. At the low, the blue chips were down to 416 points, down 384 now, or 4.25 percent. The Nasdaq is down 3.25 percent. Oil prices also falling.
Kyra, right now, oil is down five bucks, to $67 a barrel. Close to $150 in July.
PHILLIPS: It is so hard to figure out the markets and why things do what they do. Right when we think we have a handle on it, you know?
Let's talk about the news from Merck and Yahoo! It is just adding to what has already been a tough few months for so many of the workers there, Susan.
LISOVICZ: You know, and nothing says recession louder than job losses. I mean, you don't have to figure it out. It is not some sort of complex instrument, some derivative, some of those, you know, funky things that we've been talking about that nobody can figure out. You know, it is jobs and we are seeing a decline there.
We actually received a report from the Labor Department this morning saying that the number of layoffs involving at least 50 workers rose last month to the highest level since the 9/11 terror attacks, seven years ago. And yes, the U.S. economy was in a recession at that time. There were nearly 2,300 mass layoffs in September. Unfortunately, analysts say the worst maybe yet to come. The unemployment rate currently stands at 6.1 percent. That is historically low. And not that easy to hear if you are out of a job, but the expectation is that it will move higher -- Kyra.
PHILLIPS: All right, Susan Lisovicz. Thank you so much.
Lots of people are cutting out the extras these days just to save a buck. For the silver screen though, there may be a silver lining in all of this. We will check out the box office in a little bit.
A long way from home, but still voting for president, the excitement of this year's race has spread overseas. We are going to find out how Uncle Sam is trying to make it as smooth as possible for Americans to vote abroad.
And the slave trade is still going strong in many parts of the world, including the U.S. We will talk live to two descendants of prominent slaves Frederick Douglass and Booker T. Washington. They are helping lead the modern-day fight against slavery.
PHILLIPS: Well, you find them in all corners of the world, Americans from all walks of life. Many, if not most, are determined to vote for president on November 4th.
Uncle Sam is lending a helping hand and our State Department correspondent Zain Verjee looks at how it is being done behind the scenes.
ZAIN VERJEE, CNN STATE DEPT. CORRESPONDENT (voice over): A get out the vote party at the U.S. embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina. In London the embassy there is telling Americans, wherever they are, to step up.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You are here to finalize your absentee ballot?
JANICE JACOBS, ASSIST. SECRETARY OF STATE: Our main role is to help Americans exercise their right to vote and just to get information out to them about how to do it.
VERJEE: Explaining paperwork and deadlines and even sending absentee ballots to the states where the voters or parents last lived.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We really encourage you to send it in as soon as possible.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, that sounds like I will probably make up my mind today.
VERJEE: For many, the process can be overwhelming.
HAROLD SCHEPIEN, AMERICAN IN LONDON: So, it was a bit confusing -- it was a little bit confusing actually.
VERJEE (on camera): So was it helpful to come in today?
SCHEPIEN: Oh, yes. Yes, very helpful to come in.
VERJEE (voice over): Federal Express has a special deal new this year, discounts, and in some cases free delivery of U.S. ballots from 89 countries. Absentee votes can make a difference. They were part of the bitter ballot count in 2000.
BLITZER: In a presidential election too close to call.
VERJEE: Counting of those ballots varies state by state. In some absentee ballots can arrive after Election Day, some states only count them a couple of weeks later. Republicans use this Web site to hunt for votes. Democrats are online, too, with celebrities making the pitch to boost turnout.
PALTROW: I will be voting from London, but you can vote from anywhere.
VERJEE: The Pentagon and the State Department helped to get ballots to 1.4 million military members and their families and 1,000 U.S. government employees overseas, and maybe as many as 6 million potential American voters living outside of the U.S.
PHILLIPS: Zain joins us now live in our Washington studios.
Zain, are more people voting overseas this year?
VERJEE: Well, Kyra, the State Department is getting the sense that more people are just more motivated to vote this year than ever before. In Buenos Aires, for example, 800 people just cast their absentee ballots. Also, Kyra, you know, many Americans living abroad say that they are really hoping that the next president will improve the U.S. image overseas. That the U.S. has just lost a lot of credibility and they face it every day living abroad. So they are more motivated to vote.
PHILLIPS: Will overseas votes be counted for sure? How do you know?
VERJEE: Well, that is what a lot of the people are asking. The State Department is saying, yes. Absolutely all of those votes will be counted. There is a real vast array, Kyra, of different rules for different states, when it comes to those absentee ballots, but they will be counted if not on Election Day they will be included in the final count when the state votes become certified -- Kyra.
PHILLIPS: Zain Verjee, great to see you.
VERJEE: You, too.
PHILLIPS: Well, leading our political ticker. Is there a reason for Democrats to be worried about Pennsylvania despite polls showing Barack Obama with a double digit lead? Something has apparently got Governor Ed Rendell all jittery. He is calling for Obama and Bill and Hillary Clinton to come back to the state to campaign. Rendell says John McCain is making clearly making a push to win Pennsylvania with his the recent visits there, and he needs help.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am Jenine Bonaparte (ph). But I have to do a citizen's arrest -- a citizen's arrest for treason!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIPS: Do you see, that Karl Rove just shoved her aside. Didn't even look at her. Certainly not the kind of greeting that he wanted or was accustomed to. An anti-war protester actually tried to handcuff and arrest the former senior aide to President Bush, for treason. It happened yesterday as Rove was taking part in a panel discussion in San Francisco. The anti-war group Code Pink says the woman was one of five members protesting the Iraq war during Rove's appearance. There were no arrests, by the way.
Check out our political ticker for all the latest campaign news. Just log on to CNNpolitics.com, your source for all things political.
Well, the economy ain't good. And going to the movies ain't cheap. So, how is the box office fairing? There is a surprise ending to this one.
And call her the royal recycler. Even the Queen is tightening her gilded belt these days. This is one monarch who is saving some money.
PHILLIPS: Well, you always hear people complaining about the price of movie tickets, but somehow even with all this economy drama, theaters are still reeling them in.
Here is our entertainment correspondent, Brooke Anderson, in Hollywood.
GIBRAN GAITHER, MOVIE GOER: Yes, I'm supervisor of Starbucks.
BROOKE ANDERSON, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT (voice over): 22-year-old Gibran Gaither has been, like millions of Americans, hit hard by the financial crisis. That means, among other things, less eating out and more staying in.
GAITHER: Pretty much every night I am making Raman noodles.
ANDERSON: But Gaither maintains there is one activity he will splurge on.
GAITHERS: That's movies, movies. That is my get away, my escape.
ANDERSON: Gaither is not the only one, cutting back on everything, but movies. While countless industries from tourism to automotive are hurt by the souring U.S. economy, the movie business is a different story.
DAN GLICKMAN, CEO, MOTION PICTURE ASSOC.: In five of the last seven recessions movie box office revenues were up. People tend to go to the movies to tend to get away from it, to relax and not hear the news, to not be buffeted by the Dow Jones industrial average, to kind of just enjoy themselves.
ANDERSON: Year to day figures show the box office is holding steady compared to last year. That is a reassuring sign to movie studios as they prepare to roll out their big budget fall films including the latest 007 adventure, "Quantum of Solace."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think someone wants to kill you.
ANDERSON: Some film studios are feeling an economic pinch, Paramount Pictures, owned by media conglomerate Viacom, is reducing its slate of 2009 films to save money. Many moviegoers though will continue paying for what is offered in theaters.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The economy hasn't really affected the way I go see movies, but it has definitely affected other things, though.
ANDERSON: While others sacrifice in the name of the budget.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have to spend our money on other things like rent and gas and food.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No time for movies.
ANDERSON: But for Gaither, he is carefully managing his movie going money.
GAITHER: Out of every check I put at least $20 to the side. I put money to the side to go see movies.
ANDERSON: Brooke Anderson, CNN, Hollywood.
PHILLIPS: Well, that ain't Armani she is wearing. Even Britain's Queen Elizabeth is tightening her royal belt amid the global financial crisis. Making a visit to Slovenia in a recycled gown; her palace stitchers made it out of fabric given to the Queen more than 20 years ago, thus saving thousands of dollars. And get this, the Queen is also wearing some of her dresses, twice.
Ripped off in broad daylight, with the race for the White House such a battle, voters and their political signs are the target of thieves. We will tell you how bad it has gotten in Los Angeles.
ROB MARCIANO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): This General Motors engine plant in Flint, Michigan s a landfill-free facility. It, along with 42 other GM plants worldwide, recycles or reuses every bit of waste. Nothing is thrown away.
JOHN BRADBURN, GM. ENVIRONMENTAL PROGRAMS: Any waste is really a resource out of place. The key is to be innovative, apply science to technology and find the best possible outcome for that product.
MARCIANO: For years GM and other car companies have recycled scrap iron and aluminum chips, they are melted to make new parts. But other waste streams pose bigger challenges. Like this stuff, called swarf , a mixture of metals shavings and liquid.
BRADBURN: This swarf was getting landfilled up until a few years ago. This will go to markets on the outside and it will be turned into materials that require iron.
MARCIANO: And this polymer material, which separates metal shavings from coolant, also used to be discarded after use, but now it is sent to an outside company for recycling into new products. John Bradburn, GM's landfill free experts, says he has not found anything yet that could not be reused.
BRADBURN: When there is enough of something, you can find usually find an interest in that material.
MARCIANO: GM says by the end of 2010, half of its 160 manufacturing plants will also be landfill free. Rob Marciano, CNN.
PHILLIPS: 2:31 Eastern time. Here's some of the stories we're working on in the CNN NEWSROOM.
Stocks have been taking a beating today, thanks in large part to some gloomy forecasts. Yahoo and Merck, both taking big layoffs. The Dow Industrial's down 332 points.
And we're watching for a verdict in the Ted Stevens trial. The jury got the case this afternoon. The Republican senator from Alaska is charged with several counts of corruption.
And several U.S. officials tell CNN that a senior al Qaeda commander was killed last week in south Waziristan. Pakistani reports indicate that Khalid Habib was killed in a missile strike.
Well, slavery -- it's not just in history book. It's all around us and all around the world. Millions of modern day slaves forced into the most grueling life imaginable. Now the descendants of two legendary abolitionists are trying to cast off those chains. You'll meet them in just a moment.
But first, take a look back at their ancestors.
PHILLIPS (voice-over): From plowing the fields to sowing the seeds of education and equality, two former slaves rose to become the most prominent African-American leaders of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Frederick Douglass, a fugitive slave turned fiery abolitionists.
TONY HARRIS, NARRATOR: Without a struggle, there can be no progress.
PHILLIPS: Iron-jawed, steely eyes.
HARRIS: Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground.
PHILLIPS: He spoke passionately against slavery and for integration. Booker T. Washington, founder of Alabama's Tuskegee Institute.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE, NARRATOR: If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else.
PHILLIPS: Considered a successor to Douglass. But quieter, more conservative.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I let no man drag me down so low as to make me hate him.
PHILLIPS: He did not challenge segregation like Douglass did. But shared a commitment to hard work, a rejection of handouts and an almost aggressive self-reliance.
The shackles that once held these men were broken long ago. Right? Wrong. Human slavery in all in its insidious forms still thrives today.
HARRIS: We have to do with the past only as we can make it useful to the present and the future.
PHILLIPS: The State Department says thousands of people are smuggled into the U.S. every year, forced into hard labor or prostitution. One U.N. Estimate says, more than 12 million people worldwide have been forced into the slave trade for sex, for work. Even military service in some countries.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can't hold a man down without staying down with him.
PHILLIPS: Human trafficking has gotten bad in San Diego county, the Justice Department is funding a task force. And late last year, a jury convicted a millionaire couple of enslaving two Indonesian women in their Long Island mansion. They were abused and forced to work a at least 18 hours a day. Exact numbers are hard to come by and human rights advocates say they might be conservative. But one thing sure, there are too many examples, too many victims, too little justice.
PHILLIPS: Well, fighting modern day slavery calls for modern day abolitionists. And we have two of the most prominent ones with us today. Well, you could say it's in their blood. Kenneth Morris, president of the Frederick Douglass Family Foundation and his mother, Nettie Douglass, both descendants of Frederick Douglass and Booker T. Washington. Both launching a mission to raise awareness.
OK. I'm sitting here. I can see the similarities. I see Booker and I also see Frederick in both of you. It's amazing. It's such a pleasure to have you both here.
NETTIE DOUGLASS, DESCENDANT OF DOUGLASS AND WASHINGTON: It's our pleasure, believe me.
KENNETH MORRIS, DESCENDANT OF DOUGLASS AND WASHINGTON: Thank you for having us.
PHILLIPS: I don't think that people realize -- I mean, I was looking at your web site. All of the different forms of slavery that we see. Chattel, debt-bondage, sex-slavery, forced labor, child soldiers.
Nettie, can you say that one is worse than another, right now?
DOUGLASS: They're all terrible. Just absolutely terrible. And the fact that it's going on is what is just so hard to believe. It was bringing tears to my eyes as watching what you were showing before.
You know, we thought that slavery ended with Frederick Douglass' efforts to end slavery, abolish slavery. But it hasn't. In fact, it's more people are involved. We're talking over 27 million people worldwide. It's incredible.
PHILLIPS: Well, and so you're going to all of the Booker T. Washington schools, all the Frederick Douglass schools.
Kenneth, what are you telling these students and how are they responding to you? And do they sit back and say, wow, I never even realized that was happening in my world?
MORRIS: We're on a tour right now. It's called the Frederick Douglass Dialogues. And it's a 30 school, 30 day tour. And we're visiting the Frederick Douglass schools and Booker T. Washington schools and we're talking about the legacies of Frederick Douglass and Booker T. Washington. And we're asking the kids to look through the prism of history to see what the abolitionists did to abolish slavery in the 19th century.
The reaction that we've been getting, I've been surprised that many of the students have -- they do have some familiarity with the issue. But once we get into it and into detail, then we talk about solutions and things that they can do to help us to raise awareness.
PHILLIPS: You know, I'm curious. I mean, the two of you are descendants from two unbelievable human beings. Do you -- is that hard, it that tough? Do you feel pressure to kind of carry on the legacy?
DOUGLASS: No, I don't. And I thank my mother for that. Growing up and because I am and only child and I do have the honor and the privilege of joining the families together. Because my mother was a Washington, my father was a Douglass. My mother was very careful to make sure that first of all, her primary concern was keeping me grounded.
And so during Negro History Week I was allowed to do things. But it's now that I have matured hopefully, that I really, really appreciate the significance of what my parents did by getting married.
And I'm so very proud, tremendously proud and honored to be related to them. I am doubly, triply proud that my oldest, my first born has taken this on. You know, I sit here, I'm amazed. I spent the last two days with him going to Douglass High School and Washington High Schools. Kenneth (INAUDIBLE) state here in Atlanta and Morehouse. And I was just sitting there going, -- it's a wonderful --
PHILLIPS: We got one proud mama here.
MORRIS: Yes, we do. Can you tell?
DOUGLASS: Obnoxiously, so. Yes.
PHILLIPS: I like this family love. I can handle this.
DOUGLASS: I'm very, very, very proud.
PHILLIPS: Well, you're -- I mean, did you ever feel pressure from mom, oh, boy, I better carry this on. I better make her proud.
I mean, how's it been for you?
MORRIS: You know, I didn't and I thank her for that. And I told her yesterday during the presentation. I stopped and I hugged her and I told her how much I loved her because she did allow me to grow as my own person.
There was a lot of pressure put on the males in the family to be the next Frederick Douglass, or the next Booker T. Washington. But she really allowed me to find this on my own. And because I found this mission on my own, I think it's much more meaningful.
PHILLIPS: Final thought. What do you think your ancestors would say about the fact that an African-American may be president of the United States?
DOUGLASS: Wonderful and it's about time. I mean, just think what they did and others, to get us where we are today. They've got to be. We are.
PHILLIPS: Nettie Douglass, Kenneth Morris. Your web site's fantastic. What you're doing is incredible.
Thank you so much for spending some time with us.
DOUGLASS: Thank you for having us.
PHILLIPS: It was an honor.
DOUGLASS: We appreciate it.
PHILLIPS: Absolute honor.
MORRIS: Thank you for having us.
PHILLIPS: Well, wait now, or wait later. You may not beat the crowds if you choose to vote early. But, who knows what these lines will look like November 4th.
PHILLIPS: This is coming into CNN right now. Breaking news. Apparently a gunman possibly on the loose at Western Kentucky University. That's in Bowling Green, Kentucky. We have live pictures now, actually of our affiliate, the news helicopter from WAVE-TV, on the way to the scene to right now. The story is breaking. This is -- we're getting very little information.
We're being told that gunshots were fired on the campus. That's about all we've been able to find out. Right now authorities canvassing the campus of Western Kentucky University. Of course, this brings back just vivid memories of the campus shootings that have happened in the past couple of years. And as we continue to work more details, I'm being told now on the line, we have Robbin Taylor, V.P. for Public Affairs at Western Kentucky University.
Robbin, what can you tell us right now of the situation? Is there a gunman on the loose and are you looking for someone at this time?
ROBBIN TAYLOR, WESTERN KENTUCKY UNIVERSITY: We are looking for someone at this time. We do not believe we have a gunman on the loose. What we believe we have is an altercation between a group of individuals that began in one area of the campus, moved to another area of the campus.
There were reports called into the campus police of shots fired and weapons present. Both have been unconfirmed. What we have done is secured the campus and ordered everyone to stay in the buildings where they were at the time and the campus is secure until the police give an all-clear.
PHILLIPS: So Robbin, is it a student that you're looking for?
TAYLOR: I don't know that yet. All I know is that we have reports of both male and female individuals involved.
PHILLIPS: Do you believe it was an altercation among students on there campus?
TAYLOR: I believe that with the information I have at this time.
PHILLIPS: OK. But you've received reports of gunshots. But you have not been able to confirm that.
TAYLOR: We have not been able to confirm any gunshots, that is true. We have also not been able to confirm that anyone actually has a weapon. So we are interviewing police are interviewing on the scene witnesses at this time. No witnesses have indicated that they have seen a weapon fired or seen anyone with a weapon.
PHILLIPS: Are there campus officers or any other type of other law enforcement agencies that are there on the campus right now?
TAYLOR: We have both the city police from Bowling Green. We have the campus police. And also have Kentucky State police on the scene.
PHILLIPS: OK. As you can imagine, parents are probably very concerned after seeing what happened at Virginia Tech and the shooting that took place there. And you know, one of the concerns of course, is security. If other students are safe, if the campus indeed is on lockdown. There was a lot of problems with that miscommunication factor in the Virginia Tech shooting.
Do you feel confident that all your students know what's going and are safe at this time?
TAYLOR: I think that we have made every effort to make sure that our students are safe. We immediately evacuated the original building which is not on the main campus. It was a building on what we call our South Campus, which is about two miles away.
We secured that building immediately, evacuated those students. When we received reports of an incident on the main campus, we immediately sent out a siren alarm to the campus and secured every building and have done everything we can to keep students and faculty and staff in their location at this time.
So we've done everything I think we could do to keep our students safe, And yes, I feel like they're very safe right now.
PHILLIPS: All right. Robbin Taylor, V.P. of Public Affairs of Western Kentucky University.
Thank you so much for your time.
We'll continue to follow up on this breaking news story right now on the campus there in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
Well, if you're ready to vote, there's no need to wait until November 4th, that is. Every state offers early or absentee voting. And we're seeing pretty long waits already. Early voting started Monday, in Florida. By last night more than 150,000 Floridians had cast ballots.
CNN's Sean Callebs watching Democracy in action. Make that slow motion in the south Florida city of Plantation.
Sean, are the lines moving any quicker?
SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No, they're really not. I mean, if you're going to wait in line today, this is a pretty good microcosm of what people all across the state -- we checked up in the Panhandle, the Jacksonville area. It's taking at least two hours for people to get through.
The secretary of state had a pretty good line on this. He said, what we're seeing is a healthy sign of Democracy. Well, people may use some different words here. Look. there have been some problems. They're using a third different system for voting in the last three election cycle. So, they have to retrain all those poll workers, so things move slowly. Plus, there are only two printers inside to print out these paper ballots. And so, it's one jams, your wait time doubles instantly.
I think the biggest thing is, there are going to be 300 polling precincts open Broward County on November 4th, 13 days from now. Right now, for early voting, there are only 17 in this county. So, what's that, like 5 percent.
So, it is taking long. All of these people having to wait a long time.
We chatted with you. You got through. How long did it take you?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Two hours and 45 minutes to complete. And the reason --
CALLEBS: Let me ask you, why would you wait two hours and 45 minutes when you have so much time before the general election? Why not come at a different time?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't know. Because they were saying on television that it's going to get worse as it gets closer to election day. So that was the reason I did it. I thought -- you know, they started Monday and they said the lines were long Monday. But, I --
CALLEBS: So you think this is going to get a lot worse? But clearly this election has generated a lot of passion, as well.
Did you feel that it was almost mandatory for you to get out to vote this time?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. But I always vote. Always. I vote for everything.
CALLEBS: And you got your little button. Your vote counted.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, my vote counted.
CALLEBS: Great. Thanks for taking the time. We appreciate it.
So, this is the story, Kyra. I mean, we're running into people at two hour and 45 minutes these. We talked to Melissa here. She had her little 8 month-old Mario down there. Look at this little fellow. This is the way to sit back, Kyra, if you have to wait two hours in line. That's a lazy boy. He's got his game up here, his bottle. He is set. So --
PHILLIPS: Is that an Obama sticker on his T-shirt there?
CALLEBS: It certainly is. And I can guarantee you that's who Mom's voting for. The whole family --
PHILLIPS: The Obama baby.
CALLEBS: The whole family, they've got all their stickers out here, as well. That's it. It's playing out here though, Kyra.
PHILLIPS: OK. We'll keep following up with you to see how it's going.
Sean Callebs, thanks so much.
Well, straight ahead, she looks great in a gown and swimsuit. Heck, she even looks good in her mug shot. Hi Mom, you'll be so proud. What was this teen beauty thinking?
PHILLIPS: Well for now it is considered random. Police in Little Rock, Arkansas, say there is no evidence that a local news anchor was specifically targeted by her attacker. Anne Pressly still critical, but stable after a brutal beating in her own home.
Rick Sanchez and his team have been keeping an eye on this story.
What's the update?
RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Unbelievable story. And you know what? It's starting to look like there is at least some reason to believe that she may have been targeted, because we are getting information today -- we've been talking to many of the neighbors who live around her, in fact, we're going to have her landlord on our show tonight talking about her. Apparently he knew her very well.
PHILLIPS: The landlord or this person that attacked her?
SANCHEZ: Her landlord.
SANCHEZ: Her landlord.
Apparently, police are asking neighbors if they know anything about a baseball bat. And again, you don't think of somebody stealing a purse as using a baseball bat and apparently to do the kind of harm that they did.
There is also a question now about whether or not there were dogs that she kept. Apparently, she had a couple of dogs, and they are not the kind of dogs that would usually be quiet when there's an intruder in the house. So, you wonder if the person who may have done this was known either to her or to her dogs, and why the viciousness of the attack?
Those are the things that we're going to be keying in on. And we're talking, again, some of the neighbors and some of the investigators. We'll have some fresh information on this story. As sad as it may be.
PHILLIPS: All right. See you in about six or seven minutes.
SANCHEZ: All right, thanks.
PHILLIPS: Thanks, Rick.
Well straight ahead, give back the tiara, give back the sash. The reign is over. Miss Teen Louisiana, Lindsay Evans, and three of her friends allegedly skipped out on a $46 restaurant bill.
What do you think of this, Rick?
PHILLIPS: Yes, but look at the mugshot. She looks like a beauty queen. Hi, I want world peace.
SANCHEZ: Her too.
PHILLIPS: She doesn't. She doesn't want world peace. She needs a little makeup.
SANCHEZ: Oh, that is catty.
PHILLIPS: Evans left her purse at the table and she went back to get it. Well guess what? When she goes back to get her purse after skipping out on the bill -- well hey, look at her -- she has to work on the roots -- the cops were there. And wait, there is more. Police say they found pot in her purse. Imagine that, this little innocent thing.
SANCHEZ: Oh my goodness.
PHILLIPS: Whoops, how did that get in there?
Evans, who is 18, has been stripped of her crown. She only had a few days of her reign. Her friends, well that's a whole other story, too.
SANCHEZ: A guy would never say that about another guy.
PHILLIPS: I can get by with that because I'm a female.
SANCHEZ: My wife would probably do the same thing.
PHILLIPS: All right. So nothing sacred on the political stage. What about in your own frontyard? The race for the White House gets so heated that thieves are on the hunt for John McCain and Barack Obama signs.
PHILLIPS: Down to the wire. Election Day is now just 13 days away. We're watching the polls as early voters cast their ballots in Florida, Georgia and other areas. The lines are long. We're going to have continuing reports from some of those polling places.
For Barack Obama and John McCain, there is still some convincing to do. They are pounding the pavement in some big tossup states in search of those last-minute deciders.
And we are covering the story from all angles today. There's a lot more with Rick Sanchez straight ahead at the top of the hour.
Well, dirty politics at street level. Thieves in California have been snatching up John McCain signs in broad daylight. But the problem is nationwide. And Barack Obama signs are targets as well.
Ted Rowlands reports from L.A.
TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Republicans want to know if you have seen the thieves that stole this sign. Watch as a woman grabs it, and in a matter of seconds with the door of the getaway minivan still open, the driver speeds off. Ron Nehring, chairman of the California Republican Party, says sign stealing is such a problem, they are offering a $500 reward in this case.
RON NEHRING, CHMN., CALIF, REPUBLICAN PARTY: We believe that the person in the video has engaged in this in a repeated fashion. We would like to see this person held accountable for what she is doing, as well as the driver.
ROWLANDS: Across the country, signs are being stolen and defaced, some have been burned like this one in Sacramento. Some victims like this Milwaukee, Wisconsin, man have had multiple signs stolen.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The first one they destroyed and then the next one they just stole the whole sign. So, every night now I just take it in the house.
ROWLANDS: It is not just McCain/Palin signs, a CNN i-Reporter sent us these surveillance videos of someone stealing Obama signs in a Tempe, Arizona neighborhood.
In Oklahoma, David McNeely had his Obama signs spray painted. DAVID MCNEELY, SIGNS VANDALISM VICTIM: They call themselves Americans, but they are trying to suppress the very things that make America.
ROWLANDS: In Santa Monica, California, this homeowner put up a message board for people to express their feelings about the fact that Obama signs were stolen from the yard. Someone then stole two of the message boards, but left the pen.
We actually found an accused sign vandal who is facing criminal charges in California and wants his identity protected.
(on camera): Why do people do it?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that part of the reason that people do it is obviously a political agenda, they don't like the other side and they feel like it is a tangible way of taking action and getting your point across.
ROWLANDS (voice-over): After getting two Obama signs stolen from his Ohio home, Bob Krasen may have come up with a solution. He bolted his sign to a frame and then anchored it into his yard and installed an alarm system using a cowbell.
BOB KRASEN, SIGN THEFT VICTIM: See, there you go. My concern is how I'm going to get it out of the ground once the election is over.
ROWLANDS (on camera): In most states, stealing a sign is considered a misdemeanor and is only associated (ph) with the sign. As you can imagine, it is not exactly the top on anybody's list in terms of law enforcement. Most people say if you are having problems, bring the signs inside and stick them up on your window.
Ted Rowlands, CNN, Los Angeles.
PHILLIPS: Well the news doesn't stop here, it just gets better. Rick Sanchez joining us right now.