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Race to the Finish: Candidates Exchange Attacks; McCain's Final Push in Ohio; Obama to Make Closing Arguments; Voter ID Check or Party Politics?; Tension in the McCain Campaign: Palin Going Rogue?

Aired October 27, 2008 - 07:00   ET


JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: We're coming up now to the top of the hour. We've got breaking news for you this morning. More market turmoil to tell you about. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index hemorrhaged over 12 percent today. Japan's Nikkei fell to its lowest point in a quarter of a century. Main markets in Europe are in the red between 3 and 6 percent. And Dow futures show a drop of 240 points when Wall Street opens this morning.
Classes canceled today at Arkansas Central University after two students were killed and one person wounded during a shooting spree there. One victim died at the scene last night, the other at a local hospital. Police have questioned one person and are looking for three others. No word on a motive for those shootings.

Oscar-winning actress Jennifer Hudson is offering $100,000 reward for the return of her 7-year-old nephew. Julian King has been missing since Friday when Hudson's mother and brother were found shot to death in their Chicago home.

Indiana voters are going to the polls early in record numbers. More than 220,000 have already cast their ballots, almost matching numbers from 2004 with still a week to go. Lines over the weekend stretched out the doors at many voting precincts.

Well, if you can believe it, after this long and torturous road, Election Day just over a week away now. After months and months and months of campaigning, the countdown has reached eight days.

And the race for the White House has tightened ever so slightly. Our latest CNN poll of polls shows Barack Obama with an eight-point lead nationally. It was nine points last week.

And with the clock winding down, there were some more sharp words on the campaign trail.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He claimed that he, John McCain, would bring about change to George Bush's economic policies. Now, that was bad enough. Then just this morning, Senator McCain said that actually, he and President Bush share a common philosophy.

That's right, Colorado. I guess that was John McCain finally giving us a little straight talk, owning up to the fact that he and George Bush actually have a whole lot in common.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He's measuring the drapes. And he's planned his first address to the nation before the election. I guess -- I guess I'm a little old-fashioned about these things. I prefer to let the voters weigh in before --


What America needs now is someone who will finish the race before -- before starting the victory lap. Someone who will fight to the end, not for himself but for his country.


ROBERTS: We are everywhere where the election could be decided. CNN has got reporters covering the battleground states coast to coast, traveling with the candidates and covering the issues that matter to you. And with just a little more than a week left, the candidates are making one final push for your vote.

John McCain is in the critical battleground state of Ohio this morning trying to shake some sniping within his own campaign over running mate Sarah Palin. CNN's Ed Henry tells us McCain is predicting a comeback victory amid reports of that bitter campaign infighting.

ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: John, Kiran, Ohio decided the 2004 presidential race by just two percentage points. Once again, it's close here and once again it could be pivotal.


HENRY (voice-over): No Republican has ever won the White House without carrying Ohio. So John McCain, trailing in the Buckeye State, kicked off the final full week of the campaign right here.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't intend to take that risk. We will win Ohio.

HENRY: No surprise, Barack Obama is coming here Monday as well. There are a shrinking number of battlegrounds both men will hit in the final days.

McCain is heading to Pennsylvania tonight, desperate to win a large Democratic state to offset Obama's expected gains in traditionally Republican states like Virginia. Another must-win for McCain, Florida, with its mother lode of 27 electoral votes. Cindy McCain knocked on doors Sunday in West Palm Beach with Rudy Giuliani before joining her husband in Ohio for the final push, which is focused on charges that taxes will go up if Obama and congressional Democrats get full control of the government.

MCCAIN: We can't let that happen, my friends. We've already seen a preview of their plans. It's pretty simple and unfortunately pretty familiar. Tax and spend. HENRY: But now McCain has to deal with a new distraction, sniping in his own campaign over running mate Sarah Palin. Several McCain advisers tell CNN they're annoyed by what one aide called Palin going rogue, acting like a diva and going off message.

GOV. SARAH PALIN (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Make sure that Michigan knows it. We haven't given up there.

HENRY: One example, her decision to tell reporters he disagreed with the campaign's move to pull out of Michigan. A Palin associate fired back she's merely trying to bust free from a botched roll out by McCain advisers. Tensions stoked partly by the handling of the controversy over her wardrobe.


HENRY: One McCain adviser speculated that Palin is taking care of herself now in case McCain loses to set herself up as the party leader in 2009 and beyond. But Palin's spokeswoman insists she's only focused on helping McCain win next week -- John, Kiran.

KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: Ed Henry for us, thanks.

Meanwhile, Barack Obama is also in Ohio. His campaign says today that he'll launch a so-called closing argument. Our Suzanne Malveaux is with the Obama campaign. She's live in Canton for us this morning.

Suzanne, it's all about the economy right now, of course. Will we hear anything new from Barack Obama today on that front?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Kiran, it's hard to believe it's the closing argument here because what he's going to do is go back to some of the themes that he mentioned, that this is like some 12, 18 months ago. Remember the old battle cry, yes, we can.

Well, today from excerpts from his speech, what he's going to say is one week from now you can, and then fill in the blank whether it's a change in politics that divides Democrats from Republicans, whether or not it's supporting a policy that helps middle class folks get jobs back, that type of thing. And what you're going to hear from Barack Obama today is very much the kind of case he made a year ago and that is about being a part of something bigger, a part of a movement, a common purpose.

We've heard him mention this before, just the last couple of days, kind of hint at what he's going to talk about today. Take a listen.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: In ten days time, you'll have the chance to bring the change we need in Washington. That's the good news. But we're going to have to work. We are going to have to struggle. We're going to have to fight every single one of those ten days. Change never comes without a fight. Honest leadership, we need real change, and that's why I'm running for president of the United States of America.


MALVEAUX: And, Kiran, not surprisingly, he's going to say that John McCain does not represent the kind of change that people are looking for. And once again, he's going to use the words like, let's appeal to our better angels. He's going to talk about being a part of not only a common purpose but a higher purpose.

It's that kind of language in the very beginning that really kind of inspired people, that started to get people to pay attention to who Barack Obama was, what his message was. Clearly he's become more detailed in what changes specifically about economics, his own policy when it comes to that. But this is the kind of broader based vision that we had heard before that he's going to bring it back home for voters this week, Kiran.

CHETRY: And how about the decision to choose Ohio for today's speech?

MALVEAUX: Well, as you know, Ohio was the one state that got George Bush re-elected in 2004. So obviously, he's here sitting in Ohio, making his case in Ohio because this is the only -- this is the one state that John McCain needs. No Republican has gotten the White House without winning Ohio. So obviously, he's trying to force McCain to come here to Ohio, use his precious dollars, his resources and his time in the weeks here defending Republican turf. Barack Obama believes that perhaps he can actually capture this state this time around, Kiran.

CHETRY: All right. Suzanne Malveaux for us in Canton this morning. Thanks.

Of course, the big payoff just eight days away. Next Tuesday night, watch history unfold with the best political team on television. November 4th, "Election Night in America." The only place to be is right here with CNN.

ROBERTS: Well, what kind of effect will "Saturday Night Live" really have on this election? We are behind the scenes of the show. Another familiar face is back, and she is playing Michelle Obama.

Upholding the law or playing party politics?


J.B. VAN HOLLEN, WISCONSIN ATTORNEY GENERAL: I have no doubt in my mind that there are going to be people out there who are going to say, boy, that looks a little bit fishy.


ROBERTS: An attorney general fights for fairness in the voting booth and battles charges of being unfair.

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


ROBERTS: Ten minutes after the hour. Christine Romans "Minding Your Business" for us this morning. And the markets are not looking very good, but how are we sort of, you know, faring historically?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's a really good question because how much more can we take, right? I mean, you've seen Asian markets decline. You've seen the U.S. market decline. The S&P 500 since it hit its high last October is down some 44 percent.

So let's take a look at other bear markets and try to figure out where we fit in there. Right? The garden variety bear market is down some 29 -- garden variety bear, you know, only really painful lots of job losses. That's about 29 percent is the decline of your average bear market. A big, horrible, ugly mega meltdown bear market is down about 57 percent. And the average of all bear markets is down 38 percent.

So if the S&P 500 is down 44 percent, that means this, what you're feeling right now in the stock market is worse than average for all bear markets but not as bad as it can get if it's some kind of mega meltdown. So keep that in mind. We've already come a really long way in the stock market. A lot of losses have already been put in the books, as they say.

You know, $800 billion of market cap lost just last week, but, you know, how is your life different? And this is what I keep asking, you know, the personal finance experts? How is my life different today than it was last week, other than the agony of watching these headlines every single morning?

ROBERTS: Unless you go and retire. Not much difference.

ROMANS: That's right. If you're close to retirement, this is who really is affected by this if they have a lot of money in the stock market, or if they were counting on a part-time job to help them get some extra retirement income.

If you've got a job that you think you're going to keep you're OK. If you've got a house with a 30-year fixed mortgage and you didn't trade up in the last few years, you're probably going to be OK. But make no mistake about it. There are going to be more foreclosures. There are going to be more jobs loss.

Last week, we sat here every morning, remember? And every morning there were one or two companies from all kinds of different industries that were announcing job cuts.


ROMANS: So, you know, there's a lot of stuff happening in the economy and not good stuff happening in the economy, but it's important to put it all in perspective especially at this point.

ROBERTS: But the big effects could still be just around the corner with those job losses.

ROMANS: That's absolutely right. I think that job losses and a lot of people think that there are a lot more job losses to come. And that's something for all Americans to be aware of in whatever industry you're in.

ROBERTS: Thanks, Christine.

CHETRY: If only those bears could hibernate for the winter.

ROMANS: That's right.

CHETRY: All of them. The garden variety.

ROBERTS: Ripping our tents apart.

ROMANS: I know. Garden variety bear, that sounds such a euphemism, right?

ROBERTS: That's a bear rooting through your garbage can.

ROMANS: Exactly.

CHETRY: Thanks, Christine.

Well, one state's crackdown on voter registration fraud is raising eyebrows. In our special series "Count the Vote," new suspicions about demands for extra voter ID. Who's really behind the push to check and recheck every person trying to vote?

And the senator versus the anchor. Joe Biden loses his cool over a line of questions on the air. What the anchor asked and how the campaign reacted. We'll show you some of that.

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


ROBERTS: Fifteen minutes now after the hour. And time to fast forward to see what stories will be making news later on today. In the next hour of AMERICAN MORNING, an amazing act of kindness.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She told me she's doing it for me. And this is the evidence.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That way they can -- yes, she can move right back into it. So wherever Pottsboro is. I have to look it up on the map.

People need to help each other, and that's all there is to it.


ROBERTS: At 8:30 Eastern this morning, meet the woman who bought a foreclosed house site unseen to keep a stranger from losing her home. We're talking to both women live.

And tonight, the Philadelphia Phillies will play at home for a set of World Series rings. Plenty of long balls last night as they beat Tampa Bay 10-2 in game four. The Phillies leading the series three games to one.

Our Rob Marciano in the weather center down there in Atlanta this morning with a look at the weather for tonight's game five. And this could be a huge night in Philadelphia, Rob.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, big time. And this would end, of course, the Cinderella story that is the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, playing outdoors, so that's definitely a variable. There will be showers around. Fifty-nine degrees would be the high temperature. Figure our game time temperature tonight about 50, but I don't think there will be enough rain to actually rain it out or even postpone it. So we should be good to go there as opposed to the last couple of nights which have seen late games for sure.

All right. Check out today's weather map. A lot of arrows in the map. Arrows coming from the north indicates cold air and it's driving all the way down to the south. And that means that we will see our coldest air of the season in places like New Orleans, in places like Jackson, Mississippi, and Jacksonville, Florida.

Here's the leading edge of the cold front that brought some serious thunderstorms across parts of the Great Lakes the last couple of days and some showers that will be of the snow variety across the northern tier. Could see a couple of inches fall, but look at some of the blues on the map here. Temperatures will only be in the 50s across parts of the East Coast today and 40s in some spots.

Even got the snow forecast on the map. Upstate New York could see a couple of inches of wet snow piling up, but the ground is still pretty warm and there are still leaves on the trees. So it shouldn't be all that bad. I wanted to see white mixed with autumn colors. Doesn't really make much sense to me so we won't have to answer that.

ROBERTS: Come on, it's a lovely contrast, Rob. We like to see some contrast here.

MARCIANO: We're all about the (INAUDIBLE).

ROBERTS: Look forward to that game tonight. Sounds like the weather shouldn't be too bad. Let's hope that the rain holds out.

Rob, thanks so much for that. We'll see you soon.


CHETRY: Well, "Saturday Night Live" is at it again. We're behind the scenes with the cast, and a veteran cast member comes back to the stage to take on the role of Michelle Obama.

Going rogue. Is Sarah Palin plotting her own course? We're live with a reporter who says there is a Palin insurgency brewing in the McCain camp.

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



ELISABETH HASSELBECK, CO-HOST, ABC'S "THE VIEW": -- Of course, incredibly honored, but let's be honest. I was really excited just to be able to talk for five minutes without getting interrupted.


CHETRY: Welcome back to the "Most Politics in the Morning." That was Elisabeth Hasselbeck, the lone conservative who sits at the table on "The View." She was with Sarah Palin on the campaign trail this weekend, and she had a little fun at the expense of her chatty fellow co-hosts.

Well, as we get closer and closer to Election Day, CNN is looking out for your vote as part of our ongoing "Count the Vote" series. And today, our Susan Roesgen is in Wisconsin looking at a controversial voter fraud investigation -- Susan.

SUSAN ROESGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, John and Kiran, here in this state, the question is, is this an attempt to prevent voter fraud or is it just party politics?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Have you already registered.

ROESGEN (voice-over): The line of early voters stretches down the hallway outside the county clerk's office in Madison. But is anybody trying to vote who's not supposed to? The Wisconsin attorney general, J.B. Van Hollen, is convinced there are.

J.B. VAN HOLLEN, WISCONSIN ATTORNEY GENERAL: Some people are registered who are fictitious or are voting at fictitious addresses.


ROESGEN: Van Hollen mentioned three cases filed in the last month that allege violation of voter registration laws. He hinted there were others but wouldn't give details. Still, he's trying to force the state elections board to check and recheck every voters ID. If they don't, Van Hollen insists that Wisconsin is ripe for massive voter fraud. Critics don't buy it.

LESTER PINES, ATTORNEY FOR WISCONSIN ELECTION BOARD: I compare the possibility of massive vote fraud in Wisconsin to the same likelihood as alien abduction. This is the statute book.

ROESGEN: Lester Pines is the attorney for the Wisconsin election board. He showed us the election law that says the current ID checks are sufficient and this week a judge agreed. The attorney general lost the lawsuit against the election board, but he says he will appeal.

Why is there such a fight? Some say the attorney general is playing party politics to favor the Republicans.

Isn't it true that there was a discussion in your office with lawyers for the GOP a week before you filed this lawsuit?

VAN HOLLEN: I understand that to be true.

ROESGEN: Did they ask you to file this lawsuit?

VAN HOLLEN: No. They may have asked lawyers in my office to file the lawsuit.

ROESGEN: It turns out the state attorney general is also the state honorary co-chairman of Senator McCain's election campaign.

VAN HOLLEN: I have no doubt in my mind that there are going to be people out there who are going to say boy, that looks a little bit fishy and they do. That's the reason why you're here, I believe.

WITZEL-BEHL: Anybody else need to register?

ROESGEN: A county clerk responsible for registering voters says no matter who wins, the voting process will be fair and accurate.

WITZEL-BEHL: Sometimes a voter will fill out a registration form and they have misspelled the name of their street. That's the closest thing we've come to.

ROESGEN: So you don't have massive voter fraud here?


ROESGEN: Are you sure?


ROESGEN: But the fight isn't over. The Wisconsin Republican Party has joined the attorney general in demanding tougher voter registration.


ROESGEN: Bottom line is, with the Republicans denied in their attempt to require more checks and balances, the Republican Party could decide to challenge the results of the election -- John and Kiran.

CHETRY: Susan Roesgen for us, thanks. Well, if you have any concerns about possible voting irregularities in your state, we want to know. You can call us toll free at 877-GOCNN-8. That's 877-462- 6608.

ROBERTS: A reporter's question sends Senator Joe Biden over the edge. Hear what she asked on the air that shocked the VP candidate.

The liberal landslide. What happens if the Democrats win the White House and sweep to overwhelming majorities in Congress?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Those new Democrats are not going to be bug- eyed Democrats, wild-eyed leftists.


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



GOV. SARAH PALIN (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Those clothes -- they are not my property just like the lighting and the staging and everything else that the RNC purchased. I'm not taking them with me. I'm back to wearing my own clothes from my favorite consignment shop in Anchorage, Alaska.


ROBERTS: That's Governor Sarah Palin defending the clothes and the accessories that the RNC bought for her. Those comments are just one reason for the tensions that sources say are growing between the McCain and Palin campaigns.

Joining me now from Chicago is Ben Smith. He's the senior political reporter for "Politico." He broke the story.

So, Ben, what are you hearing? Just how bad is it getting between the McCain camp and the Palin camp?

BEN SMITH, SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER, "POLITICO": Well, what's really unusual is the kind of sniping has continued between those since I reported on Saturday. That people sort of around Palin and that Palin was very unhappy with how she was being treated. The McCain people shot back that she was acting like a diva, and it sort of gone from there.

ROBERTS: Yes. We were told by a McCain aide. Let's put this up on the screen. "She is a diva. She takes no advice from anyone. She is playing for her own future and sees herself as the next leader of the party."

That pretty much jibe with what you're hearing out there?

SMITH: You know, I don't want to get inside her head. There are certainly people who like her, people, you know, around her inside the campaign and out who are afraid that the McCain campaign is going to blame a poor showing on her. That's what they say. They want to preempt that and kind of come out and, you know, get, kind of defend her before she can be attacked is what they told me.

ROBERTS: Well, what about this idea that she was mishandled and that she is right to be upset about the treatment that she's got. There were the amount of control coming down from the top of the McCain campaign. And who is the Palin camp blaming for most of this?

SMITH: Well, the Palin camp blames sort of the senior McCain advisers, people who work for Bush in 2004 who took this very -- you know, who they say basically, you know, believe the mainstream media spin that she wasn't ready and so, you know, controlled her when really she should have gone out there and just been answering questions from everyone.

ROBERTS: These would be Steve Schmidt, Nicolle Wallace, people like that?

SMITH: Yes, exactly.

ROBERTS: Right. So, but in terms of this idea of her being mishandled, is she right to rebel against that? Was she mishandled?

SMITH: I think there are two sides to that. Clearly, it was a role -- this role that did not go great. Her numbers are terrible and speak for themselves.

I mean, there are two sides to it. One is, you know, could there have been a different way to roll her out? Sure. On the other hand, you know, the damage that was done to her, for instance, this interview with Katie Couric, I mean, could she have answered the questions better? Yes.

ROBERTS: Right. Looking at your article here and talking about who is responsible for mishandling her, Nicolle Wallace, as we pointed out, as we said former communications director for the Bush White House. You write, "McCain aides, defending Wallace, dismissed the notion that Palin was mishandled. The Alaska governor was, they argue, simply unready, green, sloppy and incomprehensibly willing to criticize McCain for, for instance, not attacking Senator Barack Obama for his relationship with his former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright."

Does she have a tendency to really wander off the reservation here, Ben?

SMITH: You know, I think initially, yes, this was really wandering off when she said that, when she talked about how really they should go into Michigan when they just pulled out of it. I think increasingly, it's not really wandering. I mean, I think she's going exactly where she wants to go.

In the clip you played earlier, she was defending herself against the situation where she felt that because of the McCain campaign sloppiness, she'd been made to look like Marie Antoinette figure. And whatever -- even if that loses them a day it means that yesterday that's what they're talking about. She really wanted to protect herself and get that out.

ROBERTS: You also write in the article that you think that she could be sort of a Bill Clinton in 2012. Bill Clinton, of course, got kicked out of the governor's mansion in Arkansas, came back to be president of the United States. Do you think that she could potentially be the Republican candidate in 2012?

SMITH: You know, I mean, sure. There are certainly people -- the people who are talking about how she's been mishandled, the people who see her or at least they want to protect her as a really viable candidate going forward.

ROBERTS: Oh, it's a whole fascinating idea, great article. Ben Smith, from "Politico" joining us this morning from Chicago.

Ben, good to see you. Have fun out there on the road.

SMITH: Good to see you. Thank you.

CHETRY: Well, we're coming up on 7:30 here. A look at the top stories this morning.

Stocks around the world tumbling this morning. In Hong Kong, the key index lost 1,600 points, nearly 13 percent. Also, Japan's Nikkei falling six percent. That's a 26-year low, the numbers there.

Markets across Europe also open and falling sharply as well. We have Dow futures now down about 176 points indicating a much lower start on Wall Street when the opening bell rings in just two hours.

University of Central Arkansas in lockdown this morning. Two students were shot and killed near a dorm last night. Another student was injured. Police say they do have a person of interest in custody but they had no explanation for why that shooting occurred.

And the Army warns the dangers of twitter, a draft U.S. Army intelligence reports says the blogging site, GPS maps and voice changing software could all potentially be used by terrorists. The reports says twitter could become a tool for terrorist to meet and potentially plan attacks.

After months and months and months of campaigning, the end is finally in sight. We're just inside eight days now until the election. With the campaign winding down, both vice presidential candidates are making their final appearances. We'll let you hear from them, starting with this tough question for Joe Biden.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You may recognize this famous quote from each according to his abilities to each according to his needs. That's from Karl Marx. How is Senator Obama not being a Marxist if he intends to spread the wealth around? SEN. JOE BIDEN (D), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Are you joking? Is this a joke?


BIDEN: Or is that a real question?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's a question.

BIDEN: He is not spreading the wealth around. He's talking about giving the middle class an opportunity to get back the tax breaks they used to have. What has happened just this year, people making $1.4 million average, the top one percent, good decent American people are going to get a new $87 billion tax cut. A new one on top of last year. We think the people should be getting that tax break or not continue to redistribute the wealth up, we think middle class taxpayers should get a tax break. That's what we think. It's a ridiculous comparison with all due respect.

GOV. SARAH PALIN (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You get the feeling that the Obama campaign just thinks that this election process is merely a formality. But they've overlooked the minor detail here of the confidence and the trust that they must earn before you would vote for them. And I know that by judging from the media coverage in all this, it seems that the coronation has already been set. But as for me and as for John McCain, we don't take any vote for granted. We're not assuming that we have your vote. We're respectfully asking for it, North Carolina.


NGUYEN: Well Barack Obama is leading in the polls just about a week before election day. And the democrats are also expected to make gains in the senate as well as the House. So what would a democrat- controlled government look like? Our Frank Sesno joins me now from Washington this morning. You know and you've heard this now from some of the McCain folks that you've got to prevent this type of total hold on power if anything else?

FRANK SESNO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Exactly right, Kiran. You know, there are growing worries among republicans and growing anticipation among democrats that this could be a democratic sweep, White House, House, Senate, it's what McCain is warning about all the time, tax and spend liberals on the loose in Washington without adult supervision. It's actually what a lot of the Senate campaigns, republican Senate campaigns are now warning about. Elizabeth Dole running these ads, warning of a democratic sweep, sort of a blank check for the democrats. What the democrats might actually do, whether they would overreach and whether they've been studying history is what this is really all about.


SESNO (voice-over): Liberal landslides have happened before. In 1932 in the shadow of the depression when FDR and new deal democrats swept to power and created government programs like social security, unemployment insurance, the FDIC, Fannie Mae. It happened again after Lyndon Johnson and a congressional liberals won in '64, the great society poured federal dollars into new programs, Medicare, urban renewal, welfare, education, but experience suggests a liberal landslide is about more than numbers, just ask Jimmy Carter.

STEPHEN HESS, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: In 1977 democratic president comes in with overwhelming democratic majorities both houses. 61 democratic senators. 292 democratic House members and within one month, they were shouting at each other.

SESNO: What about 2008? Certainly democrats would return to legislation they push and republicans have stopped. Health care, more coverage for kids leading to universal coverage. Taxes, increase them for the wealthy and big corporations. They could also face more regulation, especially oil and pharmaceuticals.

Unions, the employee free choice act is a liberal favorite. It would end secret ballots to unionize, business warns of strong arm tactics that would all but impose unions. Embryonic stem cell research. More federal funding for that the list goes on. But in a lot of districts where republicans could lose the impact of the newcomers isn't clear.

HESS: Those new democrats are not going to be bug-eyed democrats, wild eyed leftist, they're going to be democrats who have to run again for a seat that let's say has been electing historically a republican. So that is a moderating force.

SESNO: Shifting tectonic plates.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The motion is adopted.

SESNO: Maybe.


SESNO: It was the New York liberal Senator Chuck Schumer who predicted a year ago that a democratic landslide would change the tectonic plates of Washington. If John McCain wins the White House, clearly he'll have his hands full. But a bigger challenge might actually go to Barack Obama because if he wants Congress or if Congress rather wants to spend more and lean even farther to the left it could jeopardize his entire agenda. The last time the democrats controlled the whole thing was when Bill Clinton came in 1993, elected in '92, came in '93. The republicans pushed them all out in '94. So we'll see.

CHETRY: Right. Exactly. The Newt Gingrich, Dick (army) contract with America, and you're right, that was a resounding, I guess, you know, thump against what had happened a year before that. So as you said, maybe they will take a page out of the history books and remember that. But again, the congressional elections in 2010 could be a whole other story.

SESNO: And I think what's different this time clearly is this crisis is upon us and depending on what happens the numbers that there are and the pent-up pressure within the democratic party. But you know there's a lot of name calling out there, liberal socialism, and all that. Call it what you will, the democrats have an agenda, clearly they've pushed it and they're going to come back to it if they win across Washington. Don't let anybody suggest otherwise.

CHETRY: Frank Sesno for us. Very interesting stuff. Thanks.

SESNO: Thank you.


JOHN ROBERTS, CNN, ANCHOR: They cast their first ballots. First-time voters tell us what matter to them most when they went to the polls.




ROBERTS: You're watching the most news in the morning.



ROBERTS: 39 minutes after the hour. First-time voters are going to the polls in numbers that we have not seen for a long, long time. A lot of them taking advantage of early voting. Noah Gray who you might remember started this Virgin Voting project. We had him on a couple of weeks ago and ever since then we've been checking back in with him to see how things are going with the youth vote in America. He goes out with his camera. He goes out he to the polling places and rallies and talks to young voters. Well, the other day he was at the University of Miami. And here's what he found.


NOAH GRAY, "VIRGIN VOTING PROJECT" (voice-over): It was homecoming weekend at University of Miami, but I found a number of students who made time to make sure they cast their vote early.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I - it's much easier to vote early because it's much quicker than just (inaudible) and I thought, I kind of knew what the candidates were all about.

GRAY: But how did these know what the candidates were all about?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I watch the news and I read up on both candidates.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I stuck to finding out what the facts were.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Watched the debates.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Reading mostly news online.

GRAY: Like what sites in particular?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I went to, for example, CNN.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I read "The New York Times" a lot, watching a lot of news.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just the debate, based on what they were saying, internet. Going on their web sites.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I evaluated each candidate's position on the issues.

GRAY: And what would you say are the top three issues most important to you as a young person?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The war and the economy and health care.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I care a lot about the social issues.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Economic plan. Health care, and the war in Iraq.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The war, economy, environment.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The war, economy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Education, health care.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The economy, the war.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Definitely the economy and Iraq.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As a young person the war is an issue for me?

GRAY: Why so?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, you know the possibility of like a draft and that the war could - it has more consequences on me.


ROBERTS: That's what Noah Gray found at the University of Miami the other day. Interesting to note that at least three people when they were giving the laundry list of the issues that were important to them chose the Iraq war first followed by the economy. And another said it was the Iraq war altogether. Noah joins us now via Skype. He's at his classroom at the Palmetto High School in Miami. Were you surprised to find out how many young people, Noah, said that the Iraq war was the number one issue? Or I was that just sort of, something that you would expect young people to say since the majority of them fighting over there in Iraq or Afghanistan are about the same age? GRAY: I think that is expected of young people. Especially when you turn 18 you have to register with the selective services. But when I spoke to some young people around the primary season it was a major concern then. Especially now when we're talking about possibly going to war with Pakistan, North Korea and Iran. But I mean it was up there with the economy. Definitely the economy is a big issue for them as well, but the war definitely was a big issue for them.

ROBERTS: Yes and in terms of the economy, Noah, how much of a concern is it for these students that you talked to at the University of Miami? Because they would be you know anywhere from maybe a year to four years or perhaps more away from entering the workforce and they see the number of job losses as a result of the economy that we're in right now. I mean how big is it? Did they say that's a long way away, we don't have to worry about it yet or are they very concerned about it?

GRAY: well, a couple of people that I spoke with were talking about how the economy was important but not for now. It's for the future because when they come out of college they're obviously going to want to find a nice job. But now especially because some people were concerned that they might have to be drafted. Some people were concerned that the funding was going to go towards other things instead of helping them to pay off their student loans, but definitely, it's up there with the economy like I said.

ROBERTS: Right. Did you notice any voting problems down there in Miami?

GRAY: I did not notice any voting problems first-hand. The people I spoke with at the polling place I was at, stood in line for two or three hours. They were getting a little bit irritated but they stood in line anyway, they wanted more voting booths, that's the only thing that I'm hearing first-hand other than other media sources down here.

ROBERTS: Yes, definitely a lot of long lines. Hey, we just want to plug one more time, your Virgin Voter project. You want people to make a small one to two minute movie of their first time voting, what the experience was like. Give us the web site again where that's going to show, where you like people to send it to.

GRAY: You can find the information on But you have to post the video response to

ROBERTS: All right. Looking forward to it. Noah Gray, thanks very much for joining us, we'll check back in with you in a couple of days to see how it's going.

GRAY: Thank you. Talk to you later.

ROBERTS: Take care.

CHETRY: Well politics are driving the laughs at "Saturday Night Live" yet again. We're behind scenes with the cast and nothing is off limits. It's 43 minutes after the hour. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHETRY: We're just eight days before the election, it's time to check in with the truth squad. Jason Carroll is checking up on Governor Sarah Palin's first big policy speech now as the GOP VP nomination.

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it was big one. And Governor Palin focused on an issue that is very close to her. Basically what she's been doing is outlining how a McCain administration would help children with special needs, but she also charged Senator Barack Obama could hurt families by increasing taxes on them.


PALIN: Many families with special needs children or dependent adults, their concern about in his race our opponents in this election who plans to raise taxes on precisely these kinds of financial arrangements. They fear that Senator Obama's tax increase will have serious and harmful consequences and they're right.

CARROLL: Parents like Governor Palin whose own son Trig has Down syndrome often set up trusts to make sure their kids are taken care of down the road. Kids can access the money when they grow up. But because the money is in a trust and not directly owned by them it doesn't count as an asset and they're also eligible for government run Medicare.


CARROLL: The trusts are invested just like a retirement account. And Palin says Senator Obama will raise the taxes that parents pay when those accounts make money.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There's been a lot of talk about taxes in this campaign.

CARROLL: But Obama has plan to raise taxes on only two groups, individuals making more than $200,000 and families making more than $250,000. He has no specific plan to increase taxes on trusts. So is Palin getting this one right?

PALIN: They fear that Senator Obama's tax increase will have serious and harmful consequences and they're right.


CARROLL: Well, the truth squad calls this one - misleading. Under Obama's plan parents of special needs children could pay higher taxes on trusts they've set up but only if that family is in that higher tax bracket already making more than $250,000 a year.

CHETRY: All right. Thanks for checking it out for us, Jason. Good to see you this morning. ROBERTS: Election overdrive on "Saturday Night Live." We're behind the scenes with the cast and they now have their very own Michelle Obama. We'll show you.


ROBERTS: 51 minutes now after the hour. "Saturday Night Live" continues to take full advantage of the huge interest in the presidential race. Our Alina Cho spent some time with the cast. She's here with another edition of "SNL" politics.

You're our resident "SNL" expert.

ALINA CHO, CNN, CORRESPONDENT: I am. You know, I have to say that it's one of the better assignments, John. Good morning. Good morning, everybody. You know by now, "SN" has parodied everyone from Barack Obama to John McCain to Joe Biden. Until now, one key player was missing that would be Michelle Obama. Well, not anymore. On Saturday, a familiar face was back to play the wife of the democratic candidate.


CHO (voice-over): Former "SNL" Maya Rudolph is back.


AS BARACK OBAMA: With the Barack Obama half hour. It's time to have some fun.

CHO: The fake Obamas and the real ones are leading in the polls.

AS MICHELLE OBAMA: Now, it's solid, solid as Barack. That's what this lead is.

CHO: The whole democratic gang is here.

AS NANCY PELOSI: Our house is a very very fine house.

CHO: Obama shadowed Bill Clinton.

AS BILL CLINTON: Don't you forget about me. Don't, don't, don't.

CHO: Let's not forget Joe Biden.

AS JOE Biden: And remember this, if Barack Obama is elected, we will have a crisis! Live from New York, it's Saturday Night!

CHO: "SNL's" ratings are through the roof.

AMY POEHLER, SNL, ACTOR: All the mavericks in the house, put your hands up.

SETH MYERS, SNL HEAD WRITER: She dressed up like Tina for Halloween, I heard, which I think she's still doing. CHO: Will Ferrell reprised his role as George W. Bush.

WILL FERRELL AS GEORGE W. BUSH: When you're in the voting booth, before you vote check this face.

CHO: And "SNL" once again, spoofed CNN.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's get right to the mega map.

CHO: This time, John King's "magic wall."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look at Michigan, I can make it bounce.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I can make Michigan bounce, too, I mean, we all know that if necessary.

CHO: Everyone's watching. The stakes in this election, and at "SNL" couldn't be higher.

DARRELL HAMMOND, SNL CAST MEMBER: I'm not joking tonight. I'm not going to joke.

MYERS: I will not trip on that word.

HAMMOND: I am not going to trip on that word. The cost is just too high.

RUDOLPH AS MICHELLE OBAMA: Solid, yes, it is, solid as a rock, that's what this show is. That's what we are -


CHO: The whole democratic gang was in the house as I just said. Well, if you just can't get enough of "SNL," the show will be live again on Saturday and on Monday the before the election, "SNL," if you can believe this, will air a two hour taped special. It will be a combination of new political sketches and old ones. And if that's not enough, John, you can actually go to and vote for your very favorite "SNL" candidate, not the real one but your favorite "SNL" candidate. You know, they're very smart to do this. More than nine million viewers on Saturday. Of course, that's far less than the 14 million that they got when Sarah Palin was on but still a lot of eyeballs. A lot of people watching.

ROBERTS: And they're probably are having more fun than people should legally be allowed doing it as well. By the way, did you know that the National Security Agency has restricted what we can do on that "Magic Wall." Because making Michigan bounce is like just the very beginning. Thanks, Alina.

CHO: I'll take your word for it.

ROBERTS: 54 minutes after the hour.


Roberts (voice-over): VP drama.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Instead of the issues, they are focused, fixated on her wardrobe.

ROBERTS: They say everything's a-OK. With eight days to go, infighting inside camp McCain?

Plus, big controversy brewing at a battleground state. Did 30,000 voter registrations really just up and disappear?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Having a partisan person both run the election, it's like being the umpire and playing the game at the same time.

ROBERTS: Shocking allegations anywhere but in a state that's up for grabs? You're watching the most news in the morning.


CHETRY: Welcome back to the most news in the morning. Well, it's eight days away now until the election. With the exception of Bill Clinton in 1992, Colorado has not voted for a democratic candidate in four decades. But could that change November 4th? Well, CNN has a new Colorado poll of polls. It shows that Barack Obama leading John McCain by seven points, seven percent though still unsure.

Colorado's Governor Bill Ritter is an Obama supporter and was with the senator yesterday at his record setting rally, more than 100,000 supporters turning out to hear from the senator. Good morning. Good to see you, governor.

GOV. BILL RITTER (D), COLORADO: Good morning. And thanks for having me on.

CHETRY: Oh, It's our pleasure to have you on. How confident are you that Barack Obama can hold onto this lead in your crucial state eight days out?

RITTER: Well, obviously Colorado is a very important state. And what I'll tell you is we have not seen any vacillation in his favorability. He has just gotten better and better, particularly after the last four weeks, he remains strong. There's a great degree of not only favorability ratings but loyalty towards him. People are not moving in the other direction. The independents have moved in his way in a big, moved his direction in a big way. And out here, that's a third of the electorate. So that's very important for him and it looks like he's in a very strong position to win this.

CHETRY: It is interesting that you bring that up because the "Washington Post" just also reporting that the gap between the registered republicans and democrats has now narrowed to just over 11,000 votes and you talk about the crucial independent voters. What do they want to hear. What are they liking that they're hearing from Barack Obama that they're not hearing from John McCain? RITTER: Well, I'd like to think especially because this happened in the last month, really, that it's been his response to the economic crisis and the meltdown on Wall Street. I'd have to say that Barack Obama has been steady in how he approached it. He certainly talked about it, talked about how you rebuild the middle class at a time there is such a significant economic turmoil.

John McCain has been anything but steadfast. And I mean, a lot of people call him erratic. I think that word describes his reaction. I think the independent voters in Colorado paid careful attention to that and that's caused this move in a significant way towards Obama.

CHETRY: You also have some very strong conservative forces in your state, of course, very strong, particularly in the Colorado Springs area. You know, how has Governor Palin's selection as McCain's vice president helped energize that vote?

RITTER: Well, I think it probably has energized that vote but that vote is still only somewhere around a quarter of the state. I would say quarter of the entire electorate. They were going to be with John McCain anyway. And I'm not sure that they're people who vote. They perform very well. So it probably hasn't changed the landscape.

And if anything, it probably hurt him, as it relates to those Independent voters who were watching that and who were wondering about his judgment call there. I just think that the combination of the selection of Governor Palin and of the kind of reaction McCain has had to sort of what's happened on Wall Street, those two things put together have caused this significant movement for republicans to be behind by seven percentage points in the polls, a week out from the election. That's a significant thing in Colorado.

CHETRY: Right. And getting back to your argument about economics, the McCain campaign has been hammering that this tax cut for middle class and the expiration of Bush tax cuts is going to hit small businesses, small businesses which employ many people.

Are there concerns that if those taxes were raised on small businesses or the tax cuts allowed to expire that we may see a loss of jobs in your state? ?

RITTER: Well, I can tell you, small businesses are an important economic driver here. And if you look at Barack Obama's entire plan around small businesses, they're the kind of businesses that will not be hurt by Barack Obama's plan. They'll actually be helped by the plan and help in a very significant way.

There are tax cuts available for small businesses as well. He talks about having an emergency loan program for small businesses akin to what happened after 9/11. Most of the small business, we did a -- we removed some business personal property taxes force small businesses last year. Picked up 30,000 different businesses. Those are the kind of businesses that Barack Obama is talking about helping, and so that again has probably done nothing but help him in terms of moving people his way.

CHETRY: All right. Well, your state is crucial as we said. There's about 7 points difference in the polls right now and just eight days out. So, very crucial state. Governor Bill Ritter, thanks for being with us this morning.

RITTER: Thanks a lot. It was my pleasure.