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AMERICAN MORNING

John McCain Kicks off a Two-Day Bus Tour in Ohio; Obama Rally in Florida Today; New CNN Polls Out; Republican's Secret Meeting

Aired October 30, 2008 - 08:00   ET

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


JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: It's now a minute to the top of the hour. Just in this morning, reports of a car bomb on campus in Spain. Authorities tell CNN it went off in a parking low near the library at the University of Navarra in Pamplona wounding four people. Their injuries said not to be serious.
Markets are rallying right now, Dow futures up more than 250 points right now. London's FTSE is also trading higher. Overnight, Asian markets soar, a 12 percent jump in South Korea, a 10 percent boost in Japan after the fed cut interest rates and extended new lines of credit to other central banks.

Americans now have $900 billion in credit card debt. That's the latest government estimate. Two consumers are asking regulators to forgive as much as 40 percent of that debt.

For the first time in a quarter of a century Philadelphia has a sports championship. The Phillies clinch the World Series with a 4-3 win over the Tampa Bay Rays sending thousands of fans partying into the streets.

To the "Most Politics in the Morning" now. Just five days and counting until you choose a new president. Today, John McCain stops in Ohio while Barack Obama is in Florida and Virginia. Now, a race against the clock and we want to hear from each candidate as they try to sway last minute voters. Here's what they're saying about the future of your money.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When you are growing the economy from the bottom up, when the nurse and the teacher, and the firefighter, and the construction worker, when they are all doing well, then guess what? Everybody does well. It turns out that when they've got money to spend, then they go out and buy the new car, which means the GM and Ford are doing well and auto dealers are doing well. And the stock market is doing well. And the investor is doing well. That's how the economy grows. And that's what we're going to do when I'm president of the United States of America.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The first thing we must do is protect people's savings and investments and retirement accounts by stopping the declines in the stock market and getting the credit markets moving again, so people can get home, car and business loans. To do this, we need pro-growth and pro-job economic policies. Not pro-government spending programs, paid for with higher taxes. (END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: Well, CNN has got some new poll numbers out this morning on several key battleground states, and it's going to affect our Electoral College map. So, let's take you to the Magic Wall here. First poll that we want to take a look at is in the State of Colorado. This is a brand new CNN-Time Opinion Research Corporation Poll. It shows Barack Obama now eight points ahead of John McCain. And that is going to change things up. We'll tell you about that in a second.

Also here in the State of Indiana. New CNN Poll of Polls shows John McCain ahead by two points now. So that state likely is going to be making some moves here in the Electoral College map. And then here in the Silver State, Nevada, we now have Senator Barack Obama up by seven points over John McCain.

So, let's now go to the Electoral College map and take a look at how this is all going to change. Here's the way things were yesterday before these new polls came out. With Barack Obama at 277 projected Electoral College votes compared to 174 for John McCain. But we've got to make some changes to the map now.

One of the changes that we're going to make, because of that poll in Colorado, that has now become a state that is leaning towards Senator Obama. Because of the polling in Indiana, it being so close, this goes from leaning John McCain now to the toss-up category. And Nevada here with Barack Obama seven points ahead of John McCain now goes from toss-up to leaning Barack Obama.

One other change as well, State of Washington now solidly in the Obama camp based on the latest polling. So now let's take a look at how that changes the numbers. 291 projected Electoral College votes for Senator Obama, to 163 for John McCain. So, Senator Obama is 21 Electoral College votes now over the number needed to get to the White House. That number being 270.

So, what does that mean for John McCain? What does he have to do? A lot of efforts have been focused here on the Keystone State of Pennsylvania. This is a state he really needs to try to turn around. Obama has got support all over this state with the exception of a small corner here in the northeast in which it's -- according to a couple polls within the margin of error.

So let's just, for instance, give John McCain a win there in Pennsylvania. And just for the sake of argument, let's hand him Indiana which went red in 2004 as well as Ohio, North Carolina, Florida and Missouri. All states that went for George W. Bush in 2004. That brings him close but it still doesn't get him over the line, which is why you see John McCain campaigning up here in New Hampshire because he needs New Hampshire with its four electoral votes to put him over the line.

Consequently or conversely, if he couldn't get New Hampshire, perhaps the numbers that we talked about in Virginia are not as strong for Barack Obama as they might be suggested in the polls. That would put him over the line if he can manage to turn Virginia red. And here in Nevada, if he managed to pull that one back from Senator Obama, that would put him over the line as well. But if he doesn't get Pennsylvania, he would need to have a combination of Virginia, Nevada and New Hampshire. That still doesn't get him over the line. That's a dreaded 269-269 scenario which would then send the presidency of the United States to Congress to decide.

So, you know, he still doesn't get there. Even if he manages to get those states. So, Pennsylvania really the key here for John McCain. He's got to try to turn that one red if he hopes to have any chance of winning the White House.

Kiran?

KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: All right. John, thanks. Barack Obama starts the morning in the biggest battleground prize, that's Florida. Florida and its 27 electoral votes could go either way at this point. A new CNN Opinion Research Poll shows McCain trailing Obama by four points in Florida. That's still is a statistical tie.

And Suzanne Malveaux is covering the Obama campaign. She's live for us this morning in Sarasota, Florida, where they're certainly not taking it for granted.

Hey, there, Suzanne.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Kiran, he still has a lot of work to do. And this is a really kind of a perfect test case, if you will. You look at Florida, the i-4 corridor essentially, Central Florida, a lot of voters. About 40 percent of the electorate in that section, but they tend to lean Republican. But look at Sarasota. This is where he is today.

45 percent of the voters, Republican, 33 percent Democrat. But if you look at early voting statistics, as of last Thursday, they say that there are thousand more Democrats who voted in the early voting process than Republicans. Now people in Sarasota, they haven't voted for a Democratic president since 1944. But if that trend continues for the next five days or so, you see many more Democrats than Republicans voting, it's a pretty good clear indication that Barack Obama is doing well in this area -- an area in which people normally vote Republican. So that's why he is here. It is all about voter turnout in the next five days or so.

Kiran?

CHETRY: And there is no mention of John McCain last night in the 30- minute infomercial that Barack Obama had on TV. He sort of talked about what he would do. He looked very presidential, but didn't throw any digs at his competitor.

MALVEAUX: It's no accident that that happened, because essentially, OK, it's a million dollars for each one of those networks to put this on. So, obviously, they're going to tell his story. But clearly, they don't want John McCain to be a part of it. No mentions of him, no pictures of him. And the reason why is they really kind of wanted to present this kind of post-election, post-John McCain world where Barack Obama essentially is the president.

They wanted voters to envision him as the person who is sitting beside them, talking about the solutions. He said many times over in those vignettes that he narrated afterwards saying here's what I would do as president. That was very intentional. They are looking beyond now. They're not saying that they are going to win necessarily, but they're looking beyond. They want voters to imagine and envision that Barack Obama, not only presidential but president and that he is ready to deal with some of those economic situations you saw in those vignettes.

Kiran?

CHETRY: All right, Suzanne for us in Sarasota this morning. Thanks.

Barack Obama, by the way, is going to be Wolf Blitzer's guest, tomorrow night. 6:00 Eastern on "THE SITUATION ROOM." And you can submit your questions at ireport.com/obama, and Wolf might just pick them. It's going to be part of the interview.

ROBERTS: Meantime, Senator John McCain sat down with CNN's Larry King last evening. They're maybe just hours left in the campaign. But the Arizona senator is by now means done with the fight. In fact, he said there is still time left to find victory.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN: We're now two or three or four points down. And we got six days to go to make that up. It's not a matter of worry. It's just, you know -- you and I had been together long enough. You know, I love underdog status. I just want to live that status for the time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: And the Senator is continuing that underdog role this morning as he kicks off a two-day bus tour in the hotly contested State of Ohio. CNN's Dana Bash shows us how, even though he may not have the funds, McCain still has the fire in the final five days in the campaign trail.

Dana?

DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: John and Kiran, John McCain is about to get on his bus and start his final push in this critical state. And he's going to do it in a place that his aide chose for an obvious reason. It's the Ohio town of defiance.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BASH (voice-over): John McCain knows he can't compete with Barack Obama's blockbuster bank account that bought 30 minutes of prime-time TV, but he can mock it.

MCCAIN: His first address to the nation, an infomercial -- by the way, I will never delay the start of the World Series for an infomercial. BASH: And McCain's advisers admit he can't match the enormous Florida crowds Obama will draw. So he didn't try. Instead, small targeted events, a modest Miami rally with a message for the critical Cuban community.

MCCAIN: I will sit down and talk with one of the Castro brothers. I will sit down with them right after they empty the political prison. Right after they have free elections.

BASH: A national security meeting in veteran-rich Tampa with a warning.

MCCAIN: The question is whether this is a man who has what it takes to protect America from Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda and other grave threats in the world. And he has given you no reason to answer the informative.

BASH: But McCain's big push for attention was suddenly bringing up a six--month-old article describing a 2003 dinner Obama attended with friend and Palestinian scholar Rashid Khalidi. McCain says 1960s radical William Ayers was there, too. The "L.A. Times" has a tape of the dinner, but says releasing it would violate a source agreement.

Calling Khalidi a PLO spokesman, McCain went on Miami radio to demand the tape be made public.

MCCAIN: I guarantee you if there was a tape of me and Sarah Palin and some Neo Nazi, or one of those, do you think that that tape wouldn't be made public?

BASH: And in Ohio, Palin joined in saying guests at that dinner were critical of Israel.

GOV. SARAH PALIN (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And among other things, Israel was described there as the perpetrator of terrorism instead of the victim. What we don't know is how Barack Obama responded to these slurs on a country that he now professes to support.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BASH: An Obama spokesman called this nothing more than a manufactured controversy. Now, I did ask a McCain aide why they're just now bringing up a six-month-old article based on a dinner that happened five years ago. And this aide was strikingly candid. He said because Barack Obama may be less than a week away from becoming president.

John and Kiran?

ROBERTS: Dana Bash reporting for us this morning. Dana, thanks. And just five days to go. Tuesday, November 4th. Join the Best Political Team on Television for election night in America. CNN is the place to be as the night unfolds.

CHETRY: Political odd couple. One's nod for McCain and the other bleeds Barack blue. College roommates live on "Living With the Enemy." You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHETRY: Welcome back to the "Most News in the Morning." In a case of art imitating life, I guess you could say, check out this ice sculpture. It's called Main Street Meltdown here in New York City where artist carved the word economy in ice. And then placed it in Fully Square near the heart of Wall Street. It took about 24 hours for the 15-feet long, 1500-pound block to melt away. And there it is.

ROBERTS: Certainly, the sign of the times. Gerri Willis here "Minding Your Business." She is with us this morning talking about college debt. And a lot of people have and a lot of people trying to attract some, but the credit crunch has made that more difficult. Doesn't it?

GERRI WILLIS, CNN PERSONAL FINANCE EDITOR: Made it more difficult but at the end of the day, let me tell you, this college debt is just hamstringing people. Let's talk a little bit about new numbers out from the College Board. They are not for profit. They survey these numbers each and every year. Guess what, their annual tuition for a public school up 6.4 percent this year. Ouch!

The average cost for public, say, four-year institution, $6585. Of course, you know, we've only seen this go up. And you notice at this rate of increase is higher than the rate of inflation. Books and supplies cost about $1100. The big Kahuna of cost, housing $8000. I haven't even gotten to beer and pizza yet. This is an expensive tab for mom and dad.

And of course, a lot of people out there, you guys are asking is college even worth it today? Because, you know, look, the costs are so high. These kids are paying for it for years. Graduating with $22,700 of debt. An average debt of 18 percent. But the answer is you make 60 percent more over your lifetime if you get the four-year degree.

So, I think a lot of people out there, they should go out and get that college. And you'll find a way to pay, right?

ROBERTS: Yes. 529 is great. Start early.

WILLIS: Right. Exactly.

ROBERTS: Just a little money in at a time and then by the time you're child is ready to go to college, it's all paid for.

WILLIS: That's fantastic.

ROBERTS: Either that or stick them with the bill. There's another way of doing.

CHETRY: That's the problem, right, for a lot of these kids.

WILLIS: You can't borrow for your retirement, but your kids can usually borrow for their education. ROBERTS: Yes. Yes. I know. The paying it all back, too, is a problem. There's some young people who work here at CNN are like, "I got a $100,000 college debt that I have to start paying next year. What am I going to do?"

CHETRY: Go see Uncle John. He's going to pay for you this time. Just a one-time thing.

ROBERTS: Shut up.

WILLIS: Just to mention quickly, though, you know, because the candidates are debating this issue as well. Obama is saying that he wants to establish a tax credit of $4,000 for people to help pay. There's already a $4000 tax deduction. And of course, McCain wants to make sure that, you know, all of these forms you have to file are simplified and made easier.

ROBERTS: You know, if I had enough money, I would pay for every kid in America to go to college. Unfortunately, I don't. Gerri, thanks so much for that.

WILLIS: My pleasure.

ROBERTS: How do you define rich? John McCain has been attacking Barack Obama's tax plan, implying that the campaign keep challenging who they call rich. Sounds like a claim for the "Truth Squad." 17 minutes now after the hour.

Scare tactics.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN: This is a dangerous threesome.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: Bush, McCain or Obama, Reed, Pelosi. How the candidates are painting the opposition with five days until the election.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You could see a Republican Congress back in two years.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: On the "Most Politics in the Morning."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHETRY: Welcome back to AMERICAN MORNING. You know, there's only three things certain in this world they say -- death, taxes and CNN's "Truth Squad" -- that's a new one. Well, this morning, Alina Cho and the "Truth Squad" are looking into some claims about Barack Obama's tax plan.

Hey, Alina.

ALINA CHO, CNN GENERAL ASSIGNMENT CORRESPONDENT: That's not the way I remember this saying.

CHETRY: Yes, exactly.

CHO: Good morning, Kiran. Good morning, everybody. You know, if you've been following the campaign closely, or even if you haven't, you know that Barack Obama had said many times that those people making $250,000 or more per year will not see their taxes go up. But is it $250,000 or $200,000 or $150,000. Well, John McCain is charging that Obama and Biden are lowering the bar on the definition of "rich."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MCCAIN: First he said people making less than $250,000 would benefit from his plan. Then this weekend we announced in an ad that if you're a family making less than 200,000, you'll benefit, but yesterday, right here in Pennsylvania, Senator Biden said tax relief should only go to middle class people, people making under $150,000 a year. It's interesting how their definition of "rich" has a way of creeping down.

CHO: A lot to take in but is McCain getting it right? Let's start with the first figure, $250,000. Obama has said throughout his campaign that families making less than $250,000 a year will not see a tax increase.

OBAMA: If you make under $250,000, you will not see your taxes increase by one single dime.

CHO: Obama has also been consistent in promising those making less than $200,000 a tax break.

OBAMA: If you have a job, pay taxes and make less than $200,000 a year, you'll get a tax cut.

CHO: As for the $150,000 figure, here's what bidden said Monday in an interview in Pennsylvania.

SEN. JOE BIDEN (D), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The $87 billion tax break doesn't need to go to people making an average of 1.4 million. It should go like it used to. It should go to middle class people, people making under $150,000 a year.

CHO: But Biden never said that tax breaks should only go to such people. So did McCain get it right?

MCCAIN: It's interesting how their definition of "rich" has a way of creeping down.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHO: All right. So the "Truth Squad" verdict on this one is -- false. McCain is essentially comparing two different components of Obama's tax plan, different. Families making less than $250,000 a year will not see a tax increase. And listen carefully, those making less than $200,000 a year will see a tax cut. See the difference?

As for the $150,000 figure, well, Biden appeared to be making more of a general statement, Kiran.

(CROSSTALK)

CHO: Not stating specific policy. But, you know, I mean, as my mother said, it's a case of mixing apples and oranges, you know. Not exactly --

CHETRY: Mom says that?

CHO: Yes, she does. Anyway, that's the case. Again, go to our Web site, cnn.com/am. All of the "Truth Squad" reports are there. Five days before the election. You want to do it.

CHETRY: We'll be watching. Thanks a lot, Alina.

CHO: You bet.

ROBERTS: Conservative pushback. A grass roots coalition to fight back against possible Republican losses on Election Day. And they are using the Reagan years as a model for a revival. 23 minutes now after the hour.

Battleground Virginia.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look for suspicious people, suspicious items, suspicious behavior.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: Poll workers on guard as the state's largest county gears up for a tough fight.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have to prepare for the fact that people are not going to act normal.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CONAN O'BRIEN, HOST, "LATE NIGHT WITH CONAN O'BRIEN": Yesterday in Washington, if you heard about this, the Secret Service -- did you hear about this? They arrested a man who climbed over the White House fence. True story, yes. The Secret Service told the man, get back here, Mr. President, you have two more months. You're not going.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: Welcome back to the "Most Politics in the Morning." You can now count the number of days left until the election on one hand. But no matter who wins on Tuesday, Republican leaders will meet in secret a week from today to discuss the party's future.

Jonathan Martin, senior reporter at politico.com got details from a source who will be at that meeting. And he joins us now.

You know, Jon, yesterday, we had Ed Rollins on who was suggesting that maybe on Tuesday, the Republican Party could be decimated. Are there similar concerns among conservative leaders?

JONATHAN MARTIN, SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER, POLITICO: Yes, John. There are deep, deep concerns among Republicans you talk to privately in Washington, D.C. They think it's going to be a historically battle Election Day. That major losses in the House, the Senate and almost certainly John McCain will lose.

All we have to say, at this point, the only glimmer of hope that they actually do have is that somehow, someway, McCain pulls this thing off. But --

(CROSSTALK)

ROBERTS: Yes. I mean, I guess they got to hope that the polling is all incorrect.

MARTIN: That's right.

ROBERTS: But what's this meeting going to be about?

MARTIN: Well, two days after Election Day next week, John, a group of prominent conservatives is going to meet together in Virginia, in the countryside. I've been sworn. I can't reveal more details just yet. But basically planning the future of the conservative movement and talking about, you know, out of power, how they can reestablish themselves in the GOP and also, you know, how they can sort of get some kind of a political life back in 2010, try and start those -- you know, bring in back the House and Senate. And then find new life, new blood, John, for 2012.

ROBERTS: So, what do they use as a model?

MARTIN: Well, they're talking about the years between 1976 and 1980. Remember, Jimmy Carter after the whole Watergate era won in 1976 on a very similar platform to Barack Obama, running as a Washington outsider on change. The hope is that -- trying to establish a political, sort of grass roots apparatus the way many conservatives did with Ronald Reagan, between '76 and '80. And start laying the groundwork for a conservative restoration in 2012. So, that's what they're focusing on, John.

ROBERTS: Yes. I was interested to reading your piece, Jon. That Sarah Palin figures big into their calculations here that if John McCain wins, she is the conservative route to power. She's the conduit there in the White House.

MARTIN: Right.

ROBERTS: If she loses, she may be near the top of the list, if not at the top of the list for 2012.

MARTIN: Yes. Either way, she is, John, a central figure in this equation. She'll be the person that conservatives look to, should McCain pull this off, because she's certainly is more one of them in a lot of ways than John McCain is.

But also, if McCain loses, a lot of folks in the party -- and this is going to be one of the, sort of dominant conversations, John, in the weeks ahead if McCain doesn't win. That is -- is Sarah Palin the heir apparent of the GOP or, you know, is she going to amount to a blip on the screen. John, a lot of conservatives are already pushing right now to make her somebody who can sort of lead the party out of the wilderness. So, that's going to be a real conversation.

ROBERTS: Would a loss Tuesday hurt her? Is that why she's, you know, quote, "going rouge" as some people in the McCain campaign have said?

MARTIN: Well, I don't think that she's going to take the blame. She's got a lot of ardent defenders especially among conservative pundit types. And they are not going to fault her. I don't think for this loss. Now, some I think will certainly -- well, a lot of folks on the right will certainly lavish praise on her.

John, there's always been a fault line as you know in the GOP, between the conservative and moderate wing. And I think you're going to see that really on display here when it comes to Palin.

ROBERTS: Just quickly, Jon, you're in Orlando. You're at the event last night with Barack Obama and Bill Clinton. How would you characterize it?

MARTIN: It was a love-in. Oh my goodness. They were in Kissimmee, and there was almost kissing up there on stage. I'm exaggerating. But, you know, they embraced rhetorically and literally at times actually. Both of them were just praising one another. It was a far cry from those fairy tale days up in New Hampshire.

ROBERTS: You know Kissimmee is often mispronounced as Kissimmee, and maybe that was appropriate last night.

MARTIN: That's exactly right.

ROBERTS: Jonathan, thanks. It's good to see you.

MARTIN: Thanks.

ROBERTS: All right.

MARTIN: Thanks, John.

CHETRY: 29 minutes past the hour. A look at the top stories this morning. At least 48 people killed in a series of coordinated explosions. This was in northeast India. More than 300 people wounded as well. Officials there say 13 blasts in all that went off within minutes of each other. It's not clear who's responsible. Police are searching for more unexploded bombs as well.

Well signs are pointing to an opening, positive one on Wall Street. Dow futures higher, ahead of the opening bell. Asian markets soared overnight. A 12 percent jump in South Korea. And a 10 percent boost in Japan. London's FTSE also trading higher right now.

And this just in to CNN, more record profits for ExxonMobil. The company announcing third quarter earnings of $14.83 billion, the biggest ever for a U.S. corporation. Exxon second quarter profits this year 11.68 billion also a U.S. record.

We're just five days out from the presidential election and both Barack Obama and John McCain are desperately trying to nail down key battleground states. Today John McCain crisscrosses Ohio and Barack Obama starts today in Florida. And we, CNN, everywhere, where this election could be decided. We have reporters covering the battleground states coast to coast traveling with the candidates and covering the issues that matter to you.

And this morning we also have a brand new poll from one of those key states, and that's Virginia. Right now Barack Obama has a nine-point advantage over John McCain's 53-44 percent. And it's remarkable. Because Virginia has not voted for a democratic president since 1964. This year, though, election officials are also bracing for a record turnout, and they're stepping up security just in case. CNN's Dan Lothian live in Norfolk, Virginia, with more on this unprecedented measures. Hi, Dan.

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Kiran. Well, indeed. Officials want to point out that there's no reason for voters to be alarmed. In past elections, they've always had security plans at the various precincts just in case anything happens. But in this year, they've turned it up a notch.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LOTHIAN (voice-over): Virginia has long had its battlefields but only recently has it become a battleground state. A record number of registered voters, the threat of turning blue. And passionate supporters fighting to win. It's what some call the perfect storm for security problems.

AL SPRADLIN, CHAIRMAN, CHESAPEAKE, VA ELECTION BOARD: we have to be prepared more than ever before. You're talking about a great deal of emotion in a polling precinct. So we have to prepare for the fact that people are not going to act normal.

LOTHIAN: Al Spradlin chairman of the electoral board in Chesapeake says his city is taking unprecedented security steps just in case. For security reasons, he gave few details.

ROKEY SULEMAN, FAIRFAX COUNTY, VA REGISTRAR: And this is Mason here. LOTHIAN: Fairfax county registrar Rokey Suliman has been working on his "what if" plan for weeks.

SULEMAN: We're talking to county and city police to let them know that we have, to be aware, to be prepared to go out to the polls on election day in case something happens.

LOTHIAN: Poll workers in the state's largest county have also been put on guard.

SULEMAN: To be more vigilant, to look for suspicious people, suspicious items, you know suspicious behavior and realizing that everybody has sort of an amp'd up atmosphere this election.

LOTHIAN: Caution but security experts say no cause for alarm.

MIKE BROOKS, FMR. D.C. POLICE DETECTIVE: There is no specific threat to the election process or anything else on election day.

LOTHIAN: Officials in several of Virginia's largest cities and counties tell CNN that police officers will be present at some polling places but will most likely be wearing plain clothes.

That's something that voter rights groups say they'll be closely monitoring, Training sessions like this gives volunteers a sense of what to look out for.

BRIAN MCLAUGHLIN, LAWYERS' COMMITTEE FOR CIVIL RIGHTS: Are they in any way causing voters to be intimidated or threatened? Security is an important issue, but we want to make sure every voter feels comfortable actually going into the polling station.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LOTHIAN: One official told me that there is a fine line between security and not intimidating voters. He told me that they have sat down and talked with law enforcement officials and he doesn't think there should be a problem with that on election day. Kiran.

CHETRY: And hopefully not. Dan Lothian for us in North Virginia this morning. Thanks.

ROBERTS: Well, some breaking economic news, just in for us. And Gerri Willis is here to tell us about the GDP you got this morning.

GERRI WILLIS, CNN PERSONAL FINANCE EDITOR: That's right. This is the broadest measure of the economy's growth. And guess what, for the third quarter, there is no growth. The economy contracted by 0.03 percent. Still that is better than consensus reading by an economist who has expected the economy to contract, get smaller, that is, by 0.5 percent.

Now this is the first negative reading since the fourth quarter of last year. And this is a largely watched number. Because this really tells you what the economy is doing. Is it growing? Is it contracting as we've been talking about. A lot of people thinking we're already in recession. This is a signal we may be headed there. Typically economists say it's a couple of quarters of negative growth before the experts call it a recession. I want to also talk to you just briefly about weekly jobless claims. They are unchanged for the week ending October 25th at 479,000. So no relief there. Again the economy contracting in the third quarter. The outlook I have to tell you from every economist I've talked to is more negative growth. That is contraction, that is getting smaller for the economy, coming into the fourth quarter, the first and the second quarter.

Now, I want to tell you, GDP is not forward looking. If you want to know what is going to happen to the economy in the future, we want to look at the number of hours workers work. When that starts getting longer, we're going to see better times.

ROBERTS: Well at least the jobless numbers didn't increase, you know.

WILLIS: Good news. Yes.

ROBERTS: Got lemons make lemonade.

WILLIS: You got it.

ROBERTS: All right. Thanks, Gerri.

WILLIS: My pleasure.

ROBERTS: 35 and a half minutes now after the hour.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHETRY (voice-over): Political odd couple. One is mad for McCain and the other bleeds Barack blue. College roommates live on living with the enemy. You're watching the most news in the morning.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Everybody's got a legitimate point of view. Let's figure out how to solve the problem. I think that's the kind of attitude that we're going to need going forward.

JON STEWART, HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW": With the kind of issues that face the country now -

They're applauding - very interesting. They're applauding a spirit of cooperation which I actually find to be a angry bitter group in this audience, but -

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: Well Barack Obama having a little fun with Jon Stewart on "The Daily Show" last night. Five days now to go until election day. Check out the latest polling in the battleground state of Missouri. Here we have John McCain ahead by two points. That's inside the margin of error.

So in a state that's politically divided right down the middle. We happened to find two roommates who are politically divided right down the middle of their room, Eric Harris supports John McCain and Scott Talkov is behind Barack Obama. The two law students joining me now from their campus in Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. Thanks to both of you for being with us.

Thanks for having us.

CHETRY: Eric, let me start with you. Well let me start with you, Scott. And tell me why you're supporting Barack Obama.

SCOTT TALKOV, WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY, LAW STUDENT: I think America is ready for a change. The economy is in a dumps. And I think we're sick of the Bush-McCain economic policies, we're ready for something different.

CHETRY: And Eric let me ask you do people assume that you're a Barack Obama supporter or that you should support Barack Obama because you're African-American? Do you get a lot of heat for wearing a McCain t- shirt?

ERICK HARRIS, WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY, LAW STUDENT: No. I think people who know me know that I'm a conservative. They know I'm a common sense conservative. They know that I'm an independent thinker. And that I will support a candidate whose ideology fits in with my own.

CHETRY: And let me ask you about that because you said that you're a common sense conservative. What did you think of the Sarah Palin pick and did that shake any of your support for McCain?

HARRIS: Certainly, no. I think that made me a stronger supporter for John McCain. I think that Sarah Palin got a lot of great experience. She has shown that she's going to be a reformer in Washington when she becomes vice president. And I just think that it was a fantastic choice not only for McCain but for the party.

CHETRY: And Scott tell me a little bit about why you think it's so close in your state right now, between the two candidates?

TALKOV: Boy, this is a state that represents everything. It represents the midwest. It represents the big cities, the small cities. It represents areas with great economies and areas where people are losing jobs in the industrial sector. And I think people really want change on the Obama side. And I think when they go to the polls, they're not going to be able to punch McCain and ask for four more years of the same. They're going to want something different.

CHETRY: Now, you guys make me laugh. Because I mean everybody has of course their own personal politics, but you're an ardent Obama supporter and you're an ardent McCain supporter and you're stuck in one dorm room as if law school isn't stressful enough. And I heard you guys, you were having your own conversation before we came out here? Do you guys argue about politics 24/7?

HARRIS: Pretty much. We enjoy it. We love it. We're political junkies, we absolutely love talking about politics. I think it strengthens our own beliefs. I'm able to bounce ideas off Scott and he's able to bounce ideas off of me. And I think it makes our arguments stronger.

CHETRY: We have some great pictures of you guys on the couch together studying your perspective campaign t-shirts on. It's interesting that you said that it reinforces your own beliefs. Because do you ever find that debating when one person feels strongly ideologically one way, and the other person feels the other way, do you ever change each other's mind?

HARRIS: I think every once in a while Scott's able to change my mind about certain things. But they you know, sometimes I'll think about it and I'll consult with some of my friends and say, you know what, that's actually bad, a really bad idea. And I'm sure that Scott will tell you the same thing. I mean.

TALKOV: Yes. Sometimes he comes home and we'll chat, he throws out the talking points of the republican party and then he just runs out of talking points and says these aren't very good. And then he'll just kind of walk away and realize he's wrong.

CHETRY: Is it how it goes there -

HARRIS: No. No. Of course not, no.

I'm a common sense conservative here. It's not like I have the talking points in my back pocket. I come up with the ideas as I see, you know as America is seeing things, and I think that -

CHETRY: I do want to ask you guys this, because we've seen some of the polls widen a little bit over as we get a little bit closer to election day. We're five days away right now. And I want to ask you about this, Eric, do you think that John McCain is going to win or are you starting to get a little worried?

HARRIS: Oh, no, I'm not concerned at all. I think not only in the state of Missouri, but all across our country, our great nation here. We're going to see a victory for Senator McCain. I mean, Barack Obama is spending an unprecedented amount of money on his campaign. And we're not seeing much movement. And I thin America is saying we don't want this guy.

TALKOV: I think Erick is the only one who is not worried. I think Obama seen more supporters than any recent election. And he doesn't know what to do with the support. As you saw last night with his 30- minute commercial -

HARRIS: Infomercial.

TALKOV: Infomercial, if you want to call it that.

CHETRY: Glad you agreed on something. Well, you know, what good luck to both of you in law school. I would love to have you back after the election. We can see how the roommate situation is working out then when it's all over for one or the other of you.

HARRIS: We made a bet, Scott's moving out after the election.

TALKOV: I have a box of tissues for him, so he'll be fine.

CHETRY: We'll see how it plays out. Scott Talkov and Erick Harris, thanks for being with us. Bye-bye, guys.

HARRIS: Thank you. Bye-bye.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERTS (voice-over): Scare tactics -

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is a dangerous threesome.

ROBERTS: Bush, McCain or Obama, Reid, Pelosi. How the candidates are painting the opposition with five days until the election.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You could see a republican congress back in two years.

ROBERTS: On "the most politics" in the morning.

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(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: 46 minutes after the hour. John McCain is trying to raise fears of a government controlled by the far left. He is telling voters that Barack Obama will be in lockstep with Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. But is history is any guide, the voters could spoil any one party. AMERICAN MORNING's Jim Acosta joins us now. And certainly that's what John McCain is pinning his hopes on.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He is John. That's right. It is just one day before Halloween, and John McCain is telling voters, be afraid, very afraid of democratic dominance in Washington.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA (voice-over): John McCain is warning of a Washington horror show. A Barack Obama, Senator majority leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi are "lowering our defenses" as the GOP nominee puts it and raising our taxes.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My opponent is working out the details with Speaker Pelosi and Senator Reid of their plans to raise your taxes, increase spending and concede defeat in Iraq.

ACOSTA: It's a campaign message some dub as boo.

MCCAIN: You know, my friends, this is a dangerous three-some. ALEX CASTELLANOS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: The idea of letting these guys spend and tax without anybody there to stop them scares the American people. Those undecided voters who have not yet committed to Obama, this argument can work with them.

ACOSTA: Pelosi who remains a popular conservative target says there's nothing to be afraid of.

REP. NANCY PELOSI, HOUSE SPEAKER: If the democrats win and they have substantial majority, Congress of the United States will be more bipartisan.

ACOSTA: But many republicans are still fuming over what they consider Pelosi's less than bipartisan speech in the House just before the initial defeat of the bailout package.

PELOSI: They claim to be free market advocates when it's really an anything goes mentality. Those days are over.

ACOSTA: Obama has his own boogieman as in the man who has controlled the White House for the last eight years.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The biggest risk we can take is to embrace the same old policies that have failed us over the last eight years.

ACOSTA: But voters have little patience for one party government. Bill Clinton's democratic Congress was swept way in just two years by Newt Gingrich's contract with America. And Karl Rove's dream of permanent republican majority didn't last long.

CASTELLANOS: So if Obama is elected republicans may not be in the wilderness for very long. You can see a republican Congress back in two years.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA: And one party in power can only do so much. Unless the democrats can gain nine seats in the Senate and reach that magic number of 60 seats the republicans will still have the power of the filibuster. Remember that word.

ROBERTS: And as we've seen in the last couple of years. If you don't have a filibuster proof majority, not a lot gets dones.

ACOSTA: The word cultured will be coming back to us, John.

ROBERTS: Remember all these words.

ACOSTA: Yes.

ROBERTS: Jim, thanks so much.

ACOSTA: You go it.

CHETRY: Well, CNN NEWSROOM just minutes away. Heidi Collins at the CNN Center with a look at what's ahead. Good morning, Heidi.

HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you, Kiran. Here's a check now of what we're working on in the NEWSROOM, campaign countdown. Can you believe it? Five days left. We got a lot of live rallies today to take you to, plus what the candidates would do for troubled home owners. World markets make a leap after moves by the fed. Will Wall Street follow the positive path? That will be great.

And her right to vote was taken by someone who stole her identity. But this story actually has a happy ending. We'll tell you all about it getting started at the top the hour. Right here on CNN. Kiran.

CHETRY: Heidi, thanks.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHETRY (voice-over): High anxiety.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't say he's going to win yet.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm afraid of that one little thing that will mess it up at the last minute.

CHETRY: African-Americans excited about an Obama presidency yet afraid of the prospect of defeat. You're watching the most news in the morning.

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(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST "THE LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN": A presidential term is four years, the campaign has lasted six. Of course you know when they have the election next week, the winner of that election meets Hillary in the finals.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: Welcome back to "the most politics in the morning." Passionate Barack Obama supporters wildly await this history making election day but are they also secretly bracing themselves for heartbreak? Well, our Lola Ogunnaike sat down with some emotionally invested Obama fans. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: First of all, I'm definitely going to cry.

LOLA OGUNNAIKE, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: You definitely know that you'll shed tears that day?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know I'll shed tears. 100 percent. I definitely feel like a kid on Christmas day. I can't - and I'm looking at 5:00 in the morning to vote. OGUNNAIKE: What would it mean for you to see a black man in the Oval office?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, it would mean that there's somebody who has a different perspective than all the other leaders who have been in office that held that position. To me, that's a huge, huge shift.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's not just about Barack, it's Barack-Michelle and those two little girls. We haven't seen an intact black family since the Huxtables and they weren't real.

OGUNNAIKE: It's approaching. Does it get scarier as the days get closer?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.

OGUNNAIKE: Or do you get more excited?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I get more excited I've claimed it, you know, it looks like when you claimed something. That's it. That's it. He is our president.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's nerve-racking, it's but not because I think we're going to lose, but it's because I'm afraid of that one little thing that may mess it up at the last minute.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: With Obama now being president I thought that through a number of times, but the best I could come up with is give one heck of a concession speech. I haven't thought about the day after. I'm not sure that I want to.

OGUINNAKE: So how are you going to spend election night?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Election night, I think I'm going to turn the TV off.

OGUNNAIKE: Really.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm going to turn the TV off. I think the emotions are just going to be too much.

OGUNNAIKE: Are you going to be watching on election night?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am going to let my son, who is five years old, stay up until we find out who is going to win.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm pretty excited. I'm hoping, through inner city, educational system gets improved. I'm so excited. Yes, I can't - I can't --

OGUNNAIKE: You wake up November 5th, guys, and he has not won - oh you didn't even let me finish and you started shaking your head.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's just devastating. I'm lost at words right now even thinking about it. Like bought reality back. Wow. Without even having said anything I'm like don't say it because you're going to jinx it, you don't want to speak of it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm very nervous, I'm still very hopeful. I feel it's going to be like November 4th, it's going to be a good day, that's all I'm thinking about.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHETRY: And Lola Oguinnake joins us now. It's also startling as you told me that a lot of these people never voted before. Then saying I'm getting to 5:00 in the morning to get to the polls.

OGUINNAKE: Yes. A number of people I spoke with have not voted and yet they feel so invested in this election and they feel invested and Obama's win. The interesting thing about it though, a number of them are still apprehensive. The polls have him ahead but they're still worried. They're not sure what's going to happen. So a lot of them are waiting to November 5th. A lot of people I spoke with said they're not even going to watch television November 4th. They just want someone to call them and tell them what the results are the next day. They can't handle it.

CHETRY: Very interesting that you were able to get out there and get that perspective. Thanks, Lola.

OGUNNAIKE: Thank you.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERTS (voice-over) Racy robo calls.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mike Thompson's been a bad boy.

ROBERTS: Jeanne Moos looks at unusual dirty politics. You're watching the "most news in the morning."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: Well, just when you thought it was all serious business for the candidates on the campaign trail, our own Jeanne Moos digs up some campaign follies.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Sometimes the elephant in the room really is the elephant in the room or at the rally.

PALIN: We'll tell you where those dollars will come from.

MOOS: Though this little republican needed pacifying. According to our latest polls Senator Obama is ahead in supporters fainting.

OBAMA: Did somebody fall down? You got another person who fainted?

MOOS: Two at one rally. Candidate tossed them water. OBAMA: Eat before you come to these rallies.

MOOS: Don't say that with your running mate.

SEN. JOE BIDEN (D), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm Joe, not the plumber, Joe the Biden.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHETRY: This ice cream shop was the setting for Joe the Biden versus Chocolate Chip the cone. Senator McCain learned the perils of campaigning with a loaded cone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I shouldn't have ordered this. I should have called. I'm sorry.

MOOS: At least he didn't dump it on anyone.

BIDEN: You all got to eat these oysters.

MOOS: He seemed reluctant to give it up. Taking one last bite before posing. Who's got the volume? Can't hear you very well.

PALIN: I'll talk louder. OK.

MOOS: You can hear when she introduce this guy -

PALIN: Joe the plumber.

MOOS: Who got a rock star welcome.

PALIN: I knew I'd like him wearing carrharts and steel-toed boots. He's our kind of man. I knew I would like him.

MOOS: And in his hand in his jeans pocket. He took it out to sign autographs afterwards.

MOOS (on-camera): This election get out the vote message is getting funnier, feeling pretty good about the polls? Feeling like you can take it easy?

The Obama campaign is trying to ward off complacency, with messages like this -- at least the presidential campaign hasn't stooped this low. They sound like phone sex but robo call. One candidate for congress used it against the another.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mike Thompson has been a bad boy. We all said no to the bailout but Thompson backed Bush. Vote yes for Zain.

MOOS: Zain had to pull his robo call. He blamed the staffer who red the script for too much enthusiasm. The same might be said of the kitty caucus. An Ohio radio station is using kitty litter boxes as ballot boxes. Counting votes deposited by the cats performing their civic duty.

After a month Obama is ahead just barely, that's enough to make even Senator Biden lose his appetite.

SEN. JOE BIDEN (D), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Hi, how are you?

MOOS: This is one candidate who doesn't believe in cone of silence.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHETRY: Must have been a good ice cream cone. He didn't want to put it down.

ROBERTS: Did -- just never want to put those things down. That's going to do it for us. We'll see you again tomorrow. Thanks for joining us on this AMERICAN MORNING.

CHETRY: Right now here's "CNN NEWSROOM" with Heidi Collins.

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