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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Sprint to Election Day; Obama Addresses Supporters in Missouri

Aired October 30, 2008 - 22:00   ET

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


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: The marathon is now a sprint, just five days to go, the candidates scrambling to close the deal in a handful of key states.
We're waiting for two live events to start some time in this hour. Just minutes from now, Barack Obama is superdelegates to take the stage at the University of Missouri in Columbia.

That is a live picture there. As you can see, the crowd waiting. We will bring his comments live in their entirety.

Now, with just days to go, we want you to hear from both candidates live as much as possible, because the energy and the excitement for both candidates is palpable.

There's also a crowd waiting at the Minneapolis Convention Center, where former President Bill Clinton will be speaking shortly. Right now, they're watching former Vice President Al Gore on satellite. He was Florida last night with Senator Obama, Clinton was. We are going to bring you some comments of the former president's comment live later on in this program.

We will also hear John McCain and Sarah Palin on the trail today honing their attacks, trying to close the gap. In CNN's new national poll of polls, you see it there, Obama leading McCain by seven points, 50 percent to 43 percent. Obama had a seven-point lead yesterday as well.

On the trail today, two pieces of economic news gave both candidates plenty of ammunition. Consumer spending took its biggest dive in 20 years in the third quarter. And ExxonMobil reported a record-breaking quarterly profit nearly $15 billion. In the battle for votes, it was a day of finger-pointing.

Candy Crowley is on the trail.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Barack Obama has the schedule of a man looking for a blowout, campaigning in Republican counties inside Republican states, Sarasota, Florida, Virginia Beach, and swing spots like Boone County, Missouri. And even if he cannot win in these spots, Obama could tamp down the McCain vote.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: If you want to know where John McCain will drive this economy, just look in the rear- view mirror, because, when it comes to our economic policies, John McCain has been right next to George Bush. He's been sitting there in the passenger seat ready to take over every step of the way.

CROWLEY: Whatever else, this is a campaign in syndicated columnist.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, OBAMA CAMPAIGN AD)

NARRATOR: Wonder where John McCain would take the economy? Look behind you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: He brushes off old and new charges pushed by the McCain campaign, his associations with a '60s radical, a Palestinian scholar, and the new robocalls about Tony Rezko, a donor and real estate developer convicted of fraud who had business dealings with Obama.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Obama needs to come clean on this deal before the election, so that the voters can judge whether Obama received monetary benefits from these Rezko favors.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

CROWLEY: That's a call being automatically dialed into Arizona, where Republicans are increasingly worried about McCain's home state.

It is a rough road for McCain, facing major electoral hurdles and minor campaign screwups, say, the failure of the campaign confirm an appearance by Joe the plumber.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Joe's with us today.

Joe, where are you?

Where is Joe? Is Joe here with us today?

Joe, I thought you were here today.

All right. Well, you're all Joe the plumbers.

CROWLEY: Touted by the McCain campaign as a working-class symbol, Joe did show up for the next two events and probably proved himself a better plumber than politician.

JOE WURZELBACHER, RESIDENT OF OHIO: I'm going to go vote for a real American, John McCain.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

CROWLEY: Joe pretty much became the third person on the McCain ticket when Obama told him he would tax people making over $250,000 to -- quote -- "spread the wealth around." McCain will take that issue to the finish line.

MCCAIN: This business of -- quote -- "spreading the wealth around," spreading your income around, that's been tried before by far-left liberals. That's been tried in other countries.

CROWLEY: McCain has drawn some big, raucous crowds, but, as he hurries through Bush-won states, trying to blunt Obama's aggressive schedule, the loudest sound is surely the ticking of the clock.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Candy, we saw Joe the plumber there calling John McCain -- saying a real American, I guess implying that Barack Obama is somehow not a real American. Does the McCain campaign control what Joe the plumber says?

(LAUGHTER)

CROWLEY: No, I don't think anybody has any control over Joe the plumber, and pretty much the beauty of him, I think.

Look, he has been taken up as this symbol of working-class Americans. He has been very free in what he says. And, you know, it's America. And, you know, John McCain can't control even what some people inside his campaign say, much less those outside his campaign. I think Joe the plumber is going to say anything he wants to.

COOPER: Well, I think, also, anything maybe his agent and also his public relations has, because I understand he has now got quite a team around him.

CROWLEY: Hey, you know, if you have got it, use it.

COOPER: It's America, exactly.

(LAUGHTER)

CROWLEY: It is. It is.

COOPER: Fifteen minutes, the clock ticks fast.

Candy, thanks. We will talk to you throughout this hour.

As we said, CNN's latest national poll of polls shows Obama holding his seven-point lead over McCain. It's a lead he has held since mid-September. Take a look. You can see in this animation that, days after both conventions ended, McCain pulled ahead of Obama and held that lead for about a week. Obama's lead peaked last week, but it has pretty steady, losing a point here and a point there, and then gaining it back. Remember, that's the macropicture. Now, the -- that's the national level.

The election is going to be won state by state. And today Obama's lead in another state has widened.

CNN's John King is at the magic wall with that. John, what's the latest?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And, Anderson, we do go state by state. And that's very important, as people watch the polls.

I also would say, as we show you our latest update, don't spend too much time on the polls, but they do help us make decisions about where things stand going into the final weekend.

So, where they stand is, advantage Obama, to a significant and growing degree. Today, based on polling and other data -- we don't do this just based on polling -- we do it based on other data, including conversations with the campaigns -- we have moved Nevada from a tossup state to now leaning blue.

And what that does is, that is what gives Barack Obama those five more electoral votes, that gives him that big lead. Now, let's go to the other map and show how we do this. One of the factors is the polling. Now, we do have a new poll in the state of Nevada today. Let me bring up those numbers for you -- 52 percent for Obama, 45 percent for McCain, so, a seven-point lead there for Barack Obama.

That's not the only reason. I was out there this week, Anderson. We have also talked to the campaigns. So, it's not just the polling we rely on, for those who say why do you spend so much time on the polls, but Nevada now advantage Obama.

Look at this. This is John McCain's home state of Arizona. Candy just alluded to this. This is too close for comfort. McCain is ahead, but 53 percent to 46 percent. Remember how much we have talked about the Latino vote. And it's going for Obama in big numbers. That is a factor out in Arizona.

Let's move over to the more traditional battlegrounds, Ohio, a must-win for the Republicans. George Bush carried it twice. Look at this. This is a statistical dead heat, more or less, but a light advantage for Barack Obama in a state John McCain simply cannot lose, 51-47 percent. Not just the African-American vote helping Barack Obama there -- he is doing better among white voters, especially white women.

Let's move over to Pennsylvania. How many times have we said the McCain campaign has said it has to turn this state, somehow turn it red? Well, going into the last few days, that is a big turnaround John McCain is going to have to pull off, advantage Obama 55 percent to 43 percent. The McCain campaign insists its polls are a bit closer there.

Anderson, one last look at a new poll today. Down here in the state of North Carolina, again, this is a state McCain cannot afford to lose. And look at that, 52-46 percent advantage Obama in the polling. This is a place we will watch, Anderson, early on in the night, because this is African-American vote, but also college students, a lot of college campuses in North Carolina. If Obama can turn these voters out, like they're expressing in the poll, pretty hard to see John McCain win if he doesn't win North Carolina.

COOPER: It certainly looks tough, especially on the electoral map. But there are still ways for John McCain to win, right?

KING: There are ways. And let's show you the way. It's very difficult. But this race is not over. McCain, though, has to be perfect, plus, in the final few days.

And let me show you what I mean by that. Remember, we have Obama now already clinching the presidency if he keeps what he has right now. So, here's what McCain has to do. Number one, he has to win Florida. All these tossup states are Bush states, the gold states. Florida, he has to win. He has to somehow win North Carolina, despite the numbers we just showed you, same with Ohio, 20 electoral votes.

Indiana has to stay red in the McCain scenario, as does the state of Missouri our here, 11 electoral votes.

Now, look, if we gave McCain all the tossups left, look what we have. Obama is still winning the presidency. So, John McCain has to turn something. And, as we have noted, if it stays the way it is right now, and McCain can somehow turn Pennsylvania, 21 electoral votes, if he can turn that one red, look what happens. Obama still wins now, Anderson, because of the pickup of Nevada.

So, even if he wins Pennsylvania, a big challenge for John McCain, he still has to find something else. How would he get it? Somehow reverse Nevada. Those five would make John McCain the president, in a remarkable comeback.

But even his own campaign advisers now think Nevada is drifting away. So, find them somewhere else? Remember, what was the state that brought John McCain back from the dead? That was New Hampshire, again, a big challenge there. But, if he could switch that, that would do it as well -- so, not impossible, but, as you can tell by looking at the map, very, very, very difficult.

COOPER: All right. We will have more with John throughout this hour.

Let us know -- let us know about the state of the race in your state. Join our live chat, AC360.com. I have already logged on. Check out our live Webcast also during the break. Erica is off, so, tonight, our stage manager, Kevin, is holding the mike. And it's kind of a dangerous thing to have Kevin holding the mike, let me tell you. We will see what he says.

Plus, breaking news: two live events we're waiting on. Barack Obama will take the stage at a rally in Missouri and Bill Clinton at a rally in Minnesota. We are going to take you there as soon as either man starts speaking.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN: Joe's with us today.

Joe, where are you?

Where is Joe? Is Joe here with us today?

Joe, I thought you were here today.

All right. Well, you're all Joe the plumbers, so all of you stand up and say...

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

MCCAIN: And I thank you.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Slightly awkward moment for John McCain today in Ohio. Joe the plumber, AKA Joe Wurzelbacher, who is actually an unlicensed plumber, was actually at home, not in the audience, supposed to be his first big appearance with John McCain. He did show up later -- there he is -- at another event. He was also supposed be on "LARRY KING LIVE" tonight, but canceled.

One out of three is not good track record for a guy who supposedly makes his living by showing up to appointments.

Joe may not show up when expected, but, thankfully, our panel does.

CNN senior political analyst and former presidential adviser David Gergen is here. CNN political contributor and Democratic strategist Paul Begala is here. He can also fix your pipes, if you want.

(LAUGHTER)

COOPER: And CNN political contributor and Republican consultant Alex Castellanos is here as well.

So, Alex, we just saw the kind of moment of awkwardness in Defiance, Ohio. McCain thought Joe was not going to be there. It's a small thing, really. But, compared to Obama's flawless production last night, how does something like this happen in a national campaign at this stage?

ALEX CASTELLANOS, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Oh, Anderson, do you know how hard it is to get a plumber to show up at your house on time?

(LAUGHTER) CASTELLANOS: It's -- it's just that kind of campaign. Look, when things aren't going well, it just -- they just don't go well at all.

But Joe the plumber has helped McCain, given him a focus for his economic message. So, that's not...

COOPER: You think he's been a help, though, no doubt?

CASTELLANOS: Well, it's given him a focus for the economic message. McCain wasn't talking about middle-class concerns until he found Joe the plumber. So, he became a symbol of that, and, in that way, it's given the campaign some focus.

COOPER: Paul, clearly, McCain sees Joe as a symbol, as Alex said, although, I mean, now that he has a P.R. person and an agent, wants a book deal, and maybe a run for the Congress, what has he actually become a symbol of?

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, a symbol of kind of everything that is wrong with the Republican Party and the poor McCain campaign.

In my old business, as a White House adviser, we used to call these Lenny Skutniks. Lenny was a hero, and he dove into the Potomac River in 1982, when an Air Florida plane crashed, dove into the icy waters, saved a woman's life. And President Reagan put him up in the gallery sitting next to Nancy, and praised him as a real American hero.

Ever since that, ever since Lenny Skutnik's act of genuine heroism, you know, political hacks like me have been looking for the next Lenny Skutnik. And we always do it in both parties.

But here's the rule with Lenny Skutnik. You have got to vet him. You know, so they picked Joe the plumber. His name is not Joe. He's not a plumber.

(LAUGHTER)

BEGALA: He's criticizing Obama on taxes. It turns out, apparently, reportedly, he doesn't pay his own taxes. I mean, it's a nightmare. But it's -- it's -- it's a good metaphor...

CASTELLANOS: It's not a nightmare.

BEGALA: It's a good metaphor for the whole thing.

The Palin pick was another Lenny Skutnik thing, where they didn't vet even their vice presidential candidate. It's just the whole thing is unfortunate.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: McCain ought to be -- not to advise him, but he ought to be campaigning to say Bud Day and Orson Swindle. He should make them household names. Those are real American heroes. There are men who served in -- in Vietnam who were POWs with John McCain.

COOPER: OK. Let's -- let's...

BEGALA: Those are the kind of people he should be praising, not Joe the not -- Sam the -- not the plumber.

COOPER: I can only talk about Joe the plumber for a short amount of time each night.

(LAUGHTER)

COOPER: So, we have to move on.

BEGALA: It just fell through the cracks, I guess.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Yes, exactly.

(CROSSTALK)

CASTELLANOS: All I will say is, Joe the plumber is not the guy who has caused the economic problems in America.

BEGALA: Right.

CASTELLANOS: And, instead, we're talking about Joe the plumber and whether he has got a license or not? Come on. That's -- that -- maybe there's some other people we ought to license, like the people in the -- the Democrats who are controlling Congress, Paul.

(LAUGHTER)

COOPER: All right.

David, let's talk about polls a little bit. Do you believe these polls that we're showing? Because, I mean, I read conservative Web sites. I read liberal Web site. But, on these conservative Web sites, I feel like it's a different race, the polls that they are citing.

Karl Rove, I saw, wrote today, saying: "In truth, no one knows for sure what kind of polling deficit is insurmountable or even which poll is correct. All of us should act with the proper understanding that nothing is yet decided."

How confident are you that Obama is going to win, David?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I think it's about 90 percent chance he's going to win now...

COOPER: Ninety percent?

GERGEN: ... maybe -- maybe higher.

There has been a little tightening. But, the last 24 hours, it seemed to stabilize again. In fact, two -- two of the tracking polls, Gallup and Rasmussen, show a slight increase in Obama's lead.

But we do have this strange thing, where, tonight, FOX News has a poll out saying it's a three-point race. "The New York Times"/CBS has a poll out saying, it's an 11-point race.

COOPER: Right.

GERGEN: Now, what are people supposed to make of that?

COOPER: Yes.

GERGEN: I mean, how do we -- I have come to believe that the battleground states and the kind of reporting and the polling that is going on is actually turning out to be a lot more important, as these national polls waver, because what they do show is that, you know, just -- John King has now moved a couple states over in the last -- just the last couple of days, up to 291 on the electoral count.

You have got six states out -- that are now tossups. Every one of them is a Bush state that McCain has to win. So, I think the battleground states are becoming more of the story than the national polls.

COOPER: Alex, Paul, what do you guys think? I mean, you know these polls. You have managed campaign. You work on campaigns. You probably read these backwards and forwards.

Alex, what do you believe?

CASTELLANOS: I think the Republican strategy of lulling the Obama campaign into complacency is working well.

(LAUGHTER)

GERGEN: Oh, you do not, Alex.

(LAUGHTER)

GERGEN: You do not.

CASTELLANOS: No, I don't.

(LAUGHTER)

CASTELLANOS: No, I don't.

I think you can make an argument, the Republican, the best one you can make -- and it's a tough one right now -- it is drawing to an inside straight -- the best one you could make is this. Barack Obama is the incumbent in this race.

Why is he the incumbent? Because it's a year for change. He's the candidate of change. He's the one voters look at first, so that when voters are saying now, hey, I'm looking -- I have looked at Barack Obama, and I'm not voting for him, it means I have doubts. Therefore, you can make the argument that Barack Obama may get what he's getting now on the surveys. If he's at 47 percent in North Carolina, he might get that on Election Day, because those voters have looked at him and said, hmm, I'm not going to go there. And, so, that -- and that might mean that what's left out there may go to McCain, and may tighten these states up.

COOPER: Paul, how do you think these undecideds are going to go?

BEGALA: Yes, I actually think Alex is right about that, in that I think this could be sort of the hidden Bradley effect.

It's not that people say they will vote for the African-American, and then lie and don't. It's that they park themselves in undecided, perhaps, when, really, they kind of know they can't bring themselves to vote for him.

But, in most of these, Obama is at or over 50. And don't forget, there are also, you know, cats and dogs out there. There's Ralph Nader. There's Bob Barr. There's Cynthia McKinney. There's some independent Green Party -- so, there's really another three or four, Alex, that is going to be taken out of the undecided or out of McCain.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: But you think most of the undecided, Paul, are going to go for -- for McCain?

BEGALA: I think -- even if they do, I think Obama wins pretty big.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: I saw Karl on -- Rove -- on Tuesday, and we go way back.

And I said to him, we're a couple days away from Edwin Edwards country. Remember Edwin Edwards? The corrupt, but hilarious governor of Louisiana, said, "I'm going to win this race, unless I get caught with a dead girl or a live boy."

We're almost at that point when it comes to Barack.

(LAUGHTER)

BEGALA: And I don't think Rove laughed quite as hard as Gergen did, but...

(LAUGHTER)

CASTELLANOS: And David's point, I think, is the correct one.

And that is, it may be tightening on the national level, but, when you look at these battleground states, Barack Obama has put so much money into those states, raised the noise level so much, that it is very hard to make an argument -- for McCain to make an argument. And he, McCain, doesn't just have to make an argument, like Barack Obama. He has to win one. And that's very tough to do in those battleground states in the face of that amount of money.

COOPER: David?

GERGEN: And the other thing...

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: One last thing is...

GERGEN: Go ahead, Paul.

BEGALA: ... Obama is flooding the zone.

He has got Bill Clinton out there in Minnesota tonight. He's got Hillary Clinton. He's got Michelle Obama campaigning separately. He's got obviously Senator Biden out there.

What does McCain have? Generally, his wife travels with him. She's a very able campaigner.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: He's going to have Schwarzenegger tomorrow.

BEGALA: That's a great thing, actually. That's very helpful.

But it's going to be with McCain, not spreading the field. I mean, he can't use President Bush, George the president, as we call him. He can't use Dick Cheney. Where's Donald Rumsfeld? Where's Mike Brown, the FEMA director?

COOPER: Right.

BEGALA: There are not a Republican stars out there, aside from Schwarzenegger, campaigning for John McCain?

COOPER: David?

GERGEN: Yes, I was going to make essentially the same point.

And I think it's -- you can see it. When John McCain is -- his feature of the day is Joe the plumber.

(LAUGHTER)

GERGEN: And Barack Obama's feature last night was that infomercial that had 33-and-a-half Americans watching it. And it was well done.

COOPER: And that's the difference?

GERGEN: That's -- it is like different leagues.

COOPER: Right.

David Gergen, Alex Castellanos, Paul Begala, thank you.

There's a lot of concern about problems at the polls next Tuesday. If you run into trouble at the polls, call our CNN voter hot line. The toll-free number, 1-877-462-6608. We're "Keeping Them Honest," looking out for you.

Up next: a lot happening. We're on live for the next two hours, all the way to the midnight hour -- new poll about Sarah Palin. The results may surprise you.

Also, Gary Tuchman takes us behind the scenes at a McCain rally. See how confident his supporters remain in Ohio, where the race is closer than in a lot of other battleground states.

And breaking news -- we're waiting for Barack Obama to speak in Missouri. He's actually coming on the stage right now. We're going to take a quick break. Former President Clinton is also set to speak tonight. We will bring them live to you in their entirety -- right when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Barack Obama in Missouri.

Let's listen in.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: One of my earlier supporters, State Auditor Susan Montee, and your next member of congressman, Judy Baker.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: Thank you for having us here tonight in this place, named for a good and principled man and an extraordinary public servant, someone who was as proud of his tenure on the local school board as his time as governor of this great state, the late Mel Carnahan.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: His legacy lives on in the service of his wife, Senator Jean Carnahan, and all their children, so many of them in public service.

I can't think of a more fitting tribute to his life than to gather here tonight with so many people who love this country so much, and are so determined to bring about the change that we need.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: Now, Mizzou, I just have two words for you tonight: five days. (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: Five days.

After decades of broken politics in Washington, and eight years of failed policies from George W. Bush, and 21 months of a campaign that's taken us from the rocky coast of Maine to the sunshine of California, we are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: In five days, you can turn the page on policies that put greed and irresponsibility on Wall Street before the hard work and sacrifice of folks on Main Street.

In five days, you can choose policies that invest in our middle class, and create new jobs, and grow this economy, so that everyone has a chance to succeed, not just the CEO, but the secretary and janitor, not just...

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: ... the factory owner, but the men and women on the factory floor.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: In five days, you can put an end to the politics that would divide a nation just to win an election, that tries to pit region against region, and city against town, and Republican against Democrat, that asks -- asks us to fear at a time when we need to hope.

In five days, at this defining moment in history, you can give this country the change we need.

You know, we began this journey in the depths of winter, nearly two years ago on the steps of the old state capitol in Springfield, Illinois.

And, back then...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Illinois!

OBAMA: There you go, Illinois in the house.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: Back then, we didn't have a lot of money. We didn't have a lot of endorsements. We weren't given much of a chance by the polls or the pundits. We knew how steep our climb would be.

But I also knew this. I knew the size of our challenges had outgrown the smallness of our politics. And I believed the Democrats and Republicans, Americans of every political stripe, that they were hungry for new ideas and new leadership and a new kind of politics... (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: ... one that favors commonsense over ideology, one that focuses on values and ideals that we hold in common as Americans.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: And I knew the American people. I knew that the American people are a decent and generous people, willing to work hard and sacrifice for future generations.

And I was convinced that, when we come together, the way we are together tonight, our voices are more powerful than the most entrenched lobbyists or the most vicious political attacks or the full force of the status quo in Washington that just wants to keep things the way they are.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: Twenty-one months later, my faith in the American people has been vindicated. That's how we have come so far and so close, because of you. That's how we will change this country, with your help.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: And that's why we can't afford, right now, to slow down, or sit back, or let up for one day, one minute, one second of the next five day, not now, not when there's so much at stake.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: We have got to go win an election right here in Missouri.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: Now, we're -- we're in the -- we're in the middle of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression -- 760,000 workers have lost their jobs so far this year. And that means a lot of young people are concerned about their job prospects when they graduate.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: Businesses and families can't get credit. Home values are plummeting. Pensions are disappearing. It's gotten harder to get -- to make a mortgage, or fill up your gas tank, or even keep the electricity on at the end of the month.

Just today, we learned that the GDP, the gross domestic product, a key indicator economists use to measure the health of our economy, has actually fallen for the first time this year. And that means we're producing less and we're selling less. So, our economy is actually shrinking.

Now, this didn't happen by accident. Our falling GDP is a direct result of eight years of failed economic policies, eight years of trickle-down, Wall Street-first, Main Street-last policies that have driven our economy into a ditch.

And the central question in this election is, what will our next president do to take us in a different direction?

Now, if you want to know where Senator McCain will drive this economy...

(AUDIENCE BOOING)

OBAMA: You don't need to boo. You just need to vote.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: If...

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: If you want to know where Senator McCain wants to drive the economy, just look in the rear-view mirror...

(LAUGHTER)

OBAMA: ... because, when it comes to our economic policies, John McCain, he's ridden shotgun next to George Bush every step of the way, 90 percent...

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: ... voting for the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy that he said he opposed, voting for the Bush budgets that sent us into debt, calling for less regulation 21 times just this year.

And, so, 21 months and three debates later, John McCain still cannot describe, can't tell the American people a single major thing he would do differently from George Bush when it comes to the economy.

I mean, think about it. You guys have been seeing these ads, right?

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: Do you have any idea what John McCain stands for?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No!

OBAMA: Because he spends all his time talking about me. You've got to ask yourself -- you've got to ask yourself, after nine straight months of job losses, the largest drop in home values on record, wages lower than they've been in a decade, why would we think about continuing to drive down this dead-end street with John McCain?

Folks who can't pay their medical bills, or send their kids to college or you not being able to afford college, or thinking about that 30 or 40 or $50,000 worth of debt that you might have to carry. People who can't save for retirement. You know, ordinary Americans, we can't take a back seat to CEOs and Wall Street banks for four more years.

At a moment like this, we don't need the same old, tired, stale theories that say we should give more and more money to billionaires and millionaires and big corporations and hope that prosperity trickles down on everybody else. We can't afford four more years where no one in Washington is watching anyone on Wall Street. So lobbyists just kill common-sense regulations. Those are the economic theories that got us into this mess, that have not worked. It's time for a new driver behind the wheel, and that's why I'm running for president of the United States of America.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, we can! Yes, we can! Yes, we can!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, we can! Yes, we can! Yes, we can!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, we can! Yes, we can! Yes, we can!

OBAMA: The biggest gamble we can take is TO embrace the same old Bush-McCain policies that have failed us for the last eight years. It's not change when John McCain wants to give a $700,000 tax cut to the average Fortune 500 CEO. It's not change when he wants to give $200 billion to the biggest corporation or $4 billion to the oil companies when today, Exxon-Mobil announced that it had made the greatest profits of any corporation in the history of the world: $14 billion in one quarter. That's all your money. You are -- you are paying it at the gas station. That's not change when John McCain comes up with a tax plan that doesn't give a penny of relief to more than 100 million middle-class Americans.

Now, I understand what's at stake here, and especially you young people because you're going to be going into the workforce. You have to understand what's happening. The average working family is $2,000 poorer now than when George Bush took office. When Bill Clinton was president, the average -- when Bill Clinton was president, the average wage went up, the average income went up $7,500.

Now, I've got an economic plan similar to Bill Clinton's. John McCain has got an economic plan similar to George Bush's. So we've had a 16-month -- a 16-year experiment: eight years of Bush-McCain economics, eight years of the kind of Clinton-Obama economics that we are looking to reinstitute. We know what works. We tried it John McCain's way. We tried it George Bush's way. It did not work.

And deep down Senator McCain knows that, which is why his campaign said the other day that if we keep on talking about the economy, we're going to lose, which is why I keep on talking about the economy.

That's why John McCain's spending these last weeks calling me every name in the book. They can't even decide what to call me. They can't decide on a single angle. So, you know -- but you know what, that's how the game is played in Washington. You make a big election about small things. But, Missouri, we're here to say not this time, not this year, not when there's so much at stake.

John McCain might be worried about losing an election. I'm worried about people losing their homes and losing their jobs and losing their life savings and losing your scholarships and losing your student loans. I can take five more days of John McCain's attacks. This country can't take four more years of John McCain's economic theories. That's why I'm running for president of the United States. It's time for something new.

The question in this election isn't are you better off than you were four years ago? We know the answer to that. The real question is will this country be better off four years from now?

Now, I know these are difficult times. I know these are difficult times, and I know a lot of people are anxious about the future. But remember, we faced difficult times before.

The American story has never been about things coming easy. It's been about rising at the moment when times are tough. It's about rejecting fear and division for unity and purpose. It's about digging deep down and finding in ourselves what's best in America. That's how we overcame war and depression. That's how we won the great struggles for civil rights and women's rights and workers' rights. That's how we'll emerge from this crisis stronger and more prosperous than we were before, as one nation and one people.

We just need a new direction. We just need a new politics. We need a new driver behind the wheel. And that's why I'm running for president of the United States of America.

Now, understand, if we get through this crisis, we're also going to need to get behind the old ideological debates that divide left and right. That's one of the great things about young people. You're not burdened with some of these old arguments. They've been going on for years. You know, we don't need, for example, bigger government or smaller government. We need better government, smarter government, a more competent government, a government that reflects our values.

We don't have to choose between letting our financial system and the marketplace run wild or stifling growth and innovation. As president, I will insure that the financial rescue package, for example, that Congress passed works to help stop foreclosures, protects taxpayer money, doesn't enrich CEOs, stabilizes the financial system. And I will put in place common-sense regulations that I've been calling for throughout this campaign so Wall Street can never cause this crisis again. But we will still have a free market system that rewards innovation and rewards growth. That's the kind of change that we need.

We don't need these false choices that we've been hearing about out of Washington for 20, 30 years. The choice in this election isn't between tax cuts and no tax cuts. It's whether -- whether you believe we should only reward wealth or whether we should also reward work and the workers who create.

See, I'm planning to give a tax break to 95 percent of Americans who work everyday and get their taxes taken out of their paycheck every week. And I'm going to eliminate taxes for seniors who are making less than $50,000 and give homeowners and working parents more of a break.

Now, John McCain has attacked me, because to help pay for tax cuts for 95 percent of Americans, I'm going to be asking folks who make more than a quarter million dollars a year to go back to the tax rate they were paying in the 1990s under Bill Clinton.

Now, let me just -- let me just see a show of hands. How many people make less than a quarter million dollars a year? All right. You're not raising your hand, so I'm going to look for a campaign contribution from you.

Now, it looks like, I think, a lot of people here fall in that category. Now, no matter what Senator McCain may claim, here are the facts: if you make less than a quarter million dollars a year, you will not see your taxes increase by a single dime, not your income tax or payroll tax, not your capital gains tax, nothing. Because the last thing we should do is raise taxes on the middle class, and the first thing we should do is give the teacher the break or the nurse the break or the cop the break or the firefighter the break. That's who needs a break.

John McCain calls that socialism. Redistribution, he says. I guess he's looking to check if, when I was in kindergarten, I shared my toys or I shared my peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I don't know when we decided to make a virtue out of selfishness. I think there's nothing wrong with us saying we want every single American to have opportunity. That's what this country is all about. That's what will grow this economy. That's what I'm going to fight for as president of the United States of America.

When it comes to jobs, the choice in this election is not between putting a wall up around America or standing by and doing nothing. The truth is, we won't be able to bring back every job that's been lost. But that doesn't mean we should do what John McCain wants to do: keep giving tax cuts to companies that ship jobs overseas, promote unfair trade agreements.

We're going to change our trade relationship, when I'm president, to make sure that American workers are getting a decent deal. And I'm going to make sure that we end those tax breaks to companies that ship jobs overseas, and we're going to give tax breaks to companies that invest right here in the United States of America.

We're going to eliminate capital gains tax for small businesses. Small business and start-ups, they're the engines of job creation in this country. And we'll create two million new jobs by rebuilding our crumbling roads and bridges and schools, laying broadband lines to reach every corner of Missouri and every corner of the country.

And I will invest $15 billion in renewable sources of energy to create five million new energy jobs over the next decade. Jobs that pay well and can't be outsourced. Jobs building solar panels and wind turbines, a new electricity grid. Jobs building the new fuel- efficient cars of the future right here in the United States of America. Jobs that will help us eliminate the oil we import from the Middle East in ten years and help save the planet in the bargain. That's how America can lead again.

When it comes to health care, we don't have to choose between a government-run health care system and the unaffordable one we have now. If you already have health insurance, the only thing that's going to change is we're going to help lower your premiums.

Now, if you are a young person up to the age of 25, we're going to make sure you can stay on your parents' health insurance. And once you -- once you're older than that and you don't have health insurance on the job, you'll be able to buy in and get the same kind of health insurance that members of Congress get for themselves.

And as someone who watched his own mother spend the final months of her life arguing with insurance companies because they claimed her cancer was a pre-existing condition, they didn't want to pay for her treatment. I know what it's like to see a loved one suffer, not just because they're sick but because of a broken health-care system. It is wrong. And when I am president, I'm going to stop insurance companies from discriminating against those who are sick and need care the most. That is a promise that I make to the American people.

When it comes to giving every child a world-class education, the choice is not between more money and more reform, because our schools need both. So as president I want to invest in early childhood education to close the achievement gap. And I want to recruit and army of new teachers, give them higher salaries, give them more support, expect higher standards and more accountability.

And I will make a deal with every one of the young people who are here today and all across America. If you are willing to participate in national service, if you are willing to serve in the military or the Peace Corps, work in veterans' home or a homeless shelter, whatever moves you, whatever kind of service you want to provide your community and your country, we are going to make sure you can afford your tuition, no ifs, ands or buts.

And finally, when it comes to keeping this country safe, we don't have to choose between retreating from the world and fighting a war without end in Iraq. It is time to stop spending $10 billion a month in Iraq while the Iraqi government sits on a huge surplus. As president, I will end this war.

I will end this war by asking the Iraqi government to step up, and then we can finally finish the fight against bin Laden and the Al Qaeda terrorists who killed 3,000 Americans on 9/11.

I'll never hesitate to defend this nation. We'll make sure that our ground troops have the equipment that they need, that they remain the finest fighting force in the world.

You know, when you watch our soldiers and sailors, airmen and Marines fight in Iraq and Afghanistan, you realize they have done everything that's been asked of them. And that's why they need a commander in chief who will make sure that we use our military wisely, that our men and women have the best training and the best equipment and that they receive the best care and benefits that they have earned when they come home. No more homeless veterans. No more begging for disability payments. We will treat them with honor and respect.

Now, I won't stand here and pretend that any of this is going to be easy, especially now. George Bush has dug a deep hole. He is trying to hand off that shovel to John McCain. The cost of this crisis, the cost of the war in Iraq means that Washington is going to have to tighten its belt. It's going to have to put off spending on some things we don't need.

You know, one of the things that we've seen over the last eight years is this incredible spending binge, this irresponsibility that you guys are expected to pay back. Mounting national debt, mounting deficits, and you don't have anything to show for it.

So as president, I'm going to go through the federal budget line by line, ending programs we don't need, making the ones we do need work better and cost less. We've got to make sure that we are not charging a credit card to the next generation, borrowing from China just pay off our dependence on foreign oil.

But as I've said from the day we began this journey, the change we need isn't just about new programs and new policies. It's also about a new attitude, a new politics, a politics that calls on our better angels instead of encouraging our worst instincts.

Yes, that's what we've lost these last eight years. It can't be measured just by lost wages or bigger trade deficits or number of foreclosures. What's been lost is the idea that, in this American story, each of us has a role to play. I look at all these young people here tonight. Each of you have a responsibility to work hard and look after yourselves and eventually your families. But each of you also have a responsibility to your country, a duty to your fellow citizens. That's what we need to restore now, our sense of common purpose, our sense of higher purpose.

You know, government has to lead the way on energy independence. But all of you can make a difference in how you live your lives to make sure we're more energy efficient. You know, we can put more money in the schools, but government can't be the parent who turns off the TV set and makes a child do their homework at night. That's a parent's job.

We can argue and debate our positions passionately. But all of us have to summon a restored strength and grace, a civility to bridge our differences and unite in common effort black, white, Asian, Native American, Democrat, Republican, young, old, rich, poor, gay, straight, disabled, not disabled, all of us coming together, all of us around common effort.

At this time, at this moment, we can't afford the same old political games, the same nasty ads, the same underhanded tactics that are used to pit us against one another, make us afraid of one another. Despite what our opponents claim, there's are no real or fake parts in America. There's no city or town that's more pro-America than anywhere else. We're one nation. All of us are proud. All of us are patriots.

The men and women who serve on our battlefields, they may be Democrats and Republicans and independents, but they've all fought together and bled together, some dying together under the same proud flag. They haven't served a red America or a blue America. They've served the United States of America.

Now, this change -- this change I'm talking about won't be easy, and it won't be quick. But you and I know it's time. I look at this younger generation. You'd especially know that it's time. You can remake the world. You imagine not what is but what might be.

And for those a little older, like me, some of you may be cynical and fed up with politics, and you have every right to be. But despite all of this, I ask of you what's been asked of Americans throughout our history. I ask you to believe, not just in my ability to bring about change but in yours.

I know this change is possible. I've seen it over the last 21 months. In this campaign, I've had the privilege to witness what is best in America. I've seen it in the lines of voters that stretch around schools and churches and the young people who cast their ballot for the very first time. The young, the not so young, the young at heart who got involved again after a very long time.

I've seen it in the workers who would rather cut back their hours in the factory than see their friends lose their jobs; in the neighbors who take a stranger in when the floodwaters rise; in the soldiers who reenlist after losing a limb.

I've seen it in the faces of men and women in all the rallies and town halls across the country that we've had. Men and women who speak of their struggles but also their hopes and their dreams.

Now, I was in Ft. Lauderdale. We had a rally. And afterwards, a woman named Robin sent me an e-mail, because apparently after our event, her son nearly went into cardiac arrest, a young man, high school student. He was diagnosed with a heart condition that could only be treated with a procedure that cost tens of thousands of dollars. Her -- Robin's insurance company refused to pay. The family just didn't have that kind of money.

And in her e-mail Robin wrote to me, she said, "Senator, I ask only this of you. On the days where you feel so tired, you can't think of uttering another word to the people, think of us. When those who oppose you have you down, reach deep and fight back hard."

Missouri, that's what hope is. That thing inside us that insists that, despite all evidence to the contrary, there are better days ahead, if we're willing to work for it, if we're willing to shed our fears, if we're willing to reach deep down inside ourselves when we're tired, when we're discouraged and come back fighting hard.

That's what kept some of our parents and grandparents going through tough times. That what led some of them to say, "Maybe I can't go to college, but if I save a little bit each week, each month, maybe my child can go to college. Maybe I can't have a business of my own, but if I save and work hard, maybe my child or grandchild can have a business of their own."

It's what led immigrants from distance lands to settle on these shores, what led those who couldn't vote to march and organize and stand for freedom, to let out a cry that says it may look dark tonight, but if I hold onto hope, tomorrow will be brighter. People who couldn't vote but imagined maybe their son or daughter might run for the presidency of the United States of America. That's what this election is about. That's the choice we face right now.

Don't believe for a second this election is over. Don't think for a minute power can seize anything. It's going to get nasty, I'm sure, in the next four days. They will throw everything at us, like they've been doing. And we are going to have to work like our future depends on it in this last week. You know what? Because it does.

And all those young people who are here tonight, I've got to have every single one of you voting, and you've got to grab five more. All of you have got to vote. All of you have to dig down deep. All of you have to help make history. I know this, Missouri. You know this: the time for change has come. And if, in this last week, you will knock on some doors for me and make some calls for me, go to BarackObama.com and find out where to vote, if you'll stand with me and fight by my side and cast your ballot for me, I promise you this: we will not just win Missouri, we will win this general election and together, we will change this country and we will change the world.

Thank you. God bless you. And God bless the United States of America.

COOPER: Historic days, exciting days, no matter what side of the political aisle you are on. We're trying to bring you as many live events as possible.

We just heard Barack Obama live on the trail in Missouri. Just ahead, CNN's Candy Crowley and David Gergen join us for the latest on where the polls stand now. And a new poll about Sarah Palin, the results of which are stunning.

You'll also hear from John McCain and Sarah Palin, coming up with five days to go. He was hitting his opponent hard in Ohio. So was she. A key state in this race.

And former president, Bill Clinton, on the trail tonight in Minnesota, stumping for Obama and comedian Al Franken, who's running for the Senate. We'll hear what he said in this final stretch of the race, when 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: And there you see the event. Barack Obama somewhere in that crowd, hard so see him, swarmed by so many people trying to get their photos taken with him or just of him. He's just wrapping it up at the University of Missouri.

We're joined now by Candy Crowley, who is also somewhere in that crowd.

Candy, for the next -- what do the next five days look like for Barack Obama?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm sorry, Anderson, you're going to have to repeat that one more time. There's some loud music going on.

COOPER: What do the next five days look like for Obama, in terms of his schedule?

CROWLEY: Pretty much like this, in terms of, rhetorically, this is what you're going to hear. But what we've seen is that Barack Obama has now playing almost solidly in states that were won by George Bush in 2004. And it's not just the states. He's going into solidly Republican counties.

This is the schedule of a man who is looking for a big win. Now, whether he gets it, we'll certainly see, because there is some evidence in some places that the polls are tightening. Others seem to be widening. So it remains a mystery, of course, what people do when they go into that voting booth.

But the fact of the matter is that, beginning this morning in Sarasota, Florida, a county that George Bush won by eight points, Obama campaigned there. Then he moved into Virginia Beach, Virginia. George Bush won there by more than 12 points.

Now, here in Boone County, which is where Columbia, Missouri is, this, George Bush barely won. It's more a swing county than anything. But he is plowing through very Republican places. If he cannot win in those areas, he certainly hopes to draw some of John McCain's strength away from him and rack up his own popular vote in those states.

COOPER: All right. We're going to have more from Candy in this next hour. Coming up, we'll have more from this Obama event. We'll also go to events of John McCain and Sarah Palin and former president, Bill Clinton, also speaking tonight.

Is Governor Palin ready to be vice president? Tonight, a brand- new poll may reveal what most Americans think about the Palin factor. Some stunning results.

Also tonight, the overall polls, national and state. Should they be trusted at all? What do you think? We'll take a look at the numbers.

And breaking news, we'll hear from Bill Clinton, on the trail supporting Obama in Minnesota.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Well, just five days to go. The candidates and their surrogates are in overdrive. There is breaking news this hour on the trail. In Minnesota, former president, Bill Clinton, is speaking at a rally stumping for Obama and Al Franken. We'll tell you what he says, just ahead.

And we just heard from Barack Obama. He just wrapped up a speech in Missouri. Take a look.

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