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Election 2008: The Final Push

Aired October 31, 2008 - 21:00   ET


JOHN KING, GUEST HOST: Tonight, the clock is ticking. The candidates are scrambling for the biggest prize in American politics.
Trick or treat?


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's Halloween, so what do the Democrats do?

Every four years, they run out and they try to scare seniors by saying that Republicans are going to take away their Social Security.



SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: More of the slash and burn, say anything, do anything politics...

A message that's designed to divide and distract.


KING: Four days to go -- not much more time for an October surprise. But in the Halloween spirit, will the candidates be haunted by what November might bring?

The polls, predictions and political possibilities, right now on LARRY KING LIVE.

Thanks for joining us on a Friday night.

And Happy Halloween.

Larry is off tonight.

We've got a great hour ahead. This is the final Friday before this historic presidential election. We'll recap where the race stands right now.

We have a fabulous panel here in New York and across the country. We'll also be joined by members of the best political team on television out on the ground in the key battleground states.

We'll also dip into a Barack Obama rally. He's campaigning today in the ruby red state tonight of Indiana. You see it there. He's in Northern Indiana, not too far from his home base in Chicago, trying to drive up Democratic turnout in one of the few Democratic counties in the State of Indiana.

A lot in the hour ahead.

Gloria Borger and David Gergen are with me here in New York to begin our discussion.

But first, let's get a sample of the candidates, Barack Obama and John McCain on the trail today.


OBAMA: He spends all his time talking about me in not very flattering terms. Now, John McCain says we can't spend the next four years waiting for our luck to change. And he's right about that. All of you understand that the biggest gamble we can take is embracing the same old Bush/McCain policies that have not worked and expect a different result. We've got to do something different.



MCCAIN: My opponent -- 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.


MCCAIN: He's measuring the drapes and he gave his first address to the nation before the election. And this week he settled on a chief of staff. My friends, we're a few points down, but we're coming back and we're coming back strong.



KING: Barack Obama and John McCain on the trail today. Never that warm in Iowa late in the campaign when I had to go there. Barack Obama in short sleeves there.

Joining me here in the studio in New York, Gloria Borger, our senior political analyst, and David Gergen, CNN contributor.

Let's start with that, Gloria. Heading into the final weekend of the race -- clearly, a significant advantage Obama. You hear McCain not going to give up.

Can he put the pieces together?

GLORIA BORGER, SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think it's going to be really difficult for him. Obviously, the polls are tightening in some of those key battleground states. That's good news. His campaign manager today making the case that they've got all this momentum now and that they're going to come back from behind.

But I think it's very, very difficult right now, because McCain's -- you know, McCain's playing defense. Barack Obama -- to use a sports metaphor, which I never use is playing...


BORGER: playing offense, right?

Barack Obama is trying to turn red states blue and John McCain is just trying to keep those states that George Bush won.

KING: And, David, Gloria says Barack Obama is playing offense. He certainly is. He's in a red state tonight and he has a significant advantage there. I want to just use a number and then to get your perspective on this. Just TV ad spending. This is -- and this is through a few days ago. These are not the latest numbers. But just TV ad spending, not the other infrastructure he spent -- $205 million for Barack Obama, $119 million for John McCain. I mean that is wow! Not in our lifetime has a Democrat had that advantage.

How much of this is the money and how much of this is the issues and the candidates?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: Well, I think what's interesting -- and you've been reporting on this, John -- is that in the battleground states, he's doing better than he is in the national polls. And that's because he's focusing a lot of this advertising in these battleground states and he's going in there a lot. He has a major presence. Plus he has a huge ground force on the ground out there, you know, whipping things up.

So I think in the battleground states, it's making a difference. We -- you know, in the State of Virginia, Northern Virginia, where you've been -- you've talked about this -- 10 to 1, 20 to 1 sometimes in terms of the advantage on advertising. He's going to get a huge vote out of Northern Virginia.

KING: And when you look at the polling, if you look at the national polls, it's about 7 percent undecided. Most pollsters say it's a little lower than normal, but that's about in the ballpark of what you traditionally have.

But if you go in the battleground states and you look in Pennsylvania, 98 percent when you add up the two candidates.


KING: Ohio, 97, 98 percent.

Is there room to move, I guess, if you're John McCain?

BORGER: Well, and then you add into that the early voting that we've seen and the Obama campaign thinks that fully a third of the voters in this country might have voted by election day.

GERGEN: Right.

BORGER: Which would be remarkable. And they seem to be having an advantage with those early voters in the battleground states.

GERGEN: And the...

BORGER: So add it all together, it's tough.

GERGEN: I agree with that. And the early voting is taking place at a time when Obama has a significant lead. Even if John McCain turns it around in the last two days, it's not clear that you can make up that difference in some of them.

But I think what's interesting to me, John, is that we've been talking about this question of McCain turning it around. We've been talking about it, what, 10 days, 15 days?

KING: Right.

GERGEN: And each day goes by and we don't see it yet. We see a little tightening, but we don't see it. And I think when you think about it, it's been almost five weeks now that Barack Obama has been running pretty steadily around 50, 51 percent in many of the polls. And it's -- there's just no evidence, especially with this Obama blitz, that McCain can turn it around.

He might. Theoretically, he could do it.


KING: Do we believe the polls?

Because, you know, pollsters call a thousand people across the country. And they say this is what a country of nearly 300 million people thinks. Because they run it through a statistical model. They make their phone calls, they run it through a computer model that says there's this many African-Americans, there's this many women, there's this many this.

But in an election where we're not exactly sure if all these young kids are going to turn out -- we know they're excited, but will they actually vote?

We're not sure how much African-American turnout will go up. We don't if the John McCain Republican Party can do what the George Bush/Karl Rove operation did, which is turnout every one of their voters out there in the battleground states.

Do you trust them?

GERGEN: I trust them less this year than I have in the past for the very reasons you're talking about. It's very hard to measure the expected electorate this year, much harder than in the past. I think in -- I think the reason the pollsters say plus or minus 3 percent is because they have a pretty good record of being there. But this year -- I mean just yesterday, we had Fox with Obama with a 3 percent lead and "The New York Times"/CBS with an 11 point lead.

KING: Right.

GERGEN: How do you -- how do you make sense of that?

BORGER: Well, but, you know, it's also a new electorate, when you think about it.


BORGER: You're going to have so many more younger voters, who are very difficult to poll because they've got their cell phones and they're very -- and they're very difficult to reach. And so I think it's a whole new paradigm for pollsters right now, because they're not sure how to reach these new voters and what they call sporadic voters, which the Obama campaign really thinks they're getting to.

GERGEN: I have -- we've never seen a situation where Gallup has two different polls.

BORGER: Right.

GERGEN: It has...


GERGEN: It has one of the people that traditionally vote and another one of (INAUDIBLE)...


BORGER: So it's a turnover in the electorate.

KING: What about undecided?

If it's a -- even if it's a small number in the battleground states, traditionally, people who are undecided tend to break where the rest of their demographic breaks. If you're an older white women, you go with -- where the older white women go. If you're an African- American, you go where most African-Americans go.

Do we know that in this campaign?

And I ask the question because if you look at the Tom Bradley race back in California; if you look at the Harvey Gantt, an African- American, state-wide, against Jesse Helms, 18 years ago; if you look at Doug Wilder's race, when he was the first elected black governor in the State of Virginia, the undecideds broke against the African- American candidate. And many pollsters will tell you they were hiding as undecided -- they knew all along they weren't going to vote.

BORGER: Right.

KING: Do we trust that the undecided will be split even?

If it's split, Obama wins.

BORGER: Well, you know, if you listen to the Obama campaign, they will split evenly. If you listen to the McCain campaign, they'll split for McCain. You know, in a close election, they generally tend to go against the incumbent. But there is no incumbent.

GERGEN: Yes, right.

BORGER: So we just don't know.

GERGEN: What Reagan used to say, you know, trust but verify.


KING: I guess Tuesday is the verify day.

David Gergen, Gloria Borger, stay with us.

We'll be back in just a minute.

And go to our blog at Let us know what you think about what you're watching right here. Give us some advice.

And we're live on the campaign trail next. And we'll listen to Barack Obama on the trail in Indiana a little later.

Please stay with us.

You're watching LARRY KING LIVE.


KING: We're heading into the final weekend of this remarkable presidential election.

We want to check in with our CNN correspondents across the battleground states. Nobody has the resources we do and you see them right there.

Brian Todd is in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

In Newport News, Virginia, Dan Lothian, our Boston bureau chief.

John Zarrella is down in Miami, Florida.

And out to the west in Colorado, CNN's Dan Simon.

Let's begin in Florida -- John Zarrella, a battleground state that had a familiar face that came up 537 votes shy eight years ago.

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And he mentioned it, too. He said there's nobody that knows better what it feels like and you need to get out to vote. He knows how every vote counts. That, of course, being the former vice president, Al Gore, here today in both West Palm Beach, the scene of what the Democrats, of course, would call the crime eight years ago, with the butterfly ballot and, of course, that tight loss here in Florida.

There and in then in Broward County, two heavily Democratic counties here, stumping to get out the vote and get people to vote early.

Now, you really get the sense, John, that from the Obama campaign -- and to use a sports analogy that Gloria doesn't like to use -- full court press. They've got a 2 or 3 or 4 point lead here. They really believe they can take Florida. Al Gore today, Hillary Clinton in Miami tomorrow. Over on the West Coast, Jimmy Buffett in Tampa. And Monday night, in Jacksonville, Barack Obama back himself.

Sarah Palin, on the Republican side, will be here tomorrow up in that area of the I-4 Corridor, which, of course, is very, very critical, as you know, to the Republicans and any success they may have here in Florida.

So, but, again, you really get the sense that the Obama people believe that they have a shot to take Florida.

One interesting note, that youth vote you mentioned, in some of the reporting done by "The Orlando Sentinel" yesterday, they were meaning that only about 15 percent of that coveted youth vote that everybody's talked so much about that -- and that's 25 percent of the Florida electorate this time around -- has shown up so far at the polls. So far, that youth vote not turning out in the numbers -- at least here -- that everybody thought -- John.

KING: That's why reporting matters.

We'll keep an eye on that.

John Zarrella down for us in Florida.

Dan Lothian, let's move up to Virginia.

John Zarrella says Obama thinks he has a shot in Florida, blue -- red, excuse me -- in the last two elections. Virginia has not gone blue since 1964, if I have the history right.

Give us the latest in Virginia.

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. That's right. Forty-four years was the last time that a Democrat did win here in the State of Virginia. We are here in Newport News because this is where Senator John McCain will be coming tomorrow to host a rally. This is a critical region -- Hampton Roads -- for not only Senator John McCain, but also Barack Obama. It's the second most populous region in the state, so they both want to do very well here, if they are able to -- if they are to win Virginia.

We had a chance to visit the offices of both of the campaigns today. We saw volunteers working the phones, trying to reach out to those voters who are still on the fence. John, one other thing we've been following here today, as well, has been this bogus flier that has been passed around. It looks official. It says "Commonwealth of Virginia" across the top, has the logo of the Board of Elections. And it points out that because they're expecting record voter turnout, that Republicans or Independents who are leaning toward Republicans should vote on election day, which is November 4th. But if you're a Democrat or you're an independent leaning Democrat, you should vote on November 5th.

Of course, this is bogus. The Board of Elections has been trying to send out an alert. State police are investigating. And, of course, John, as you know, there's only one day to vote and that's on Tuesday.

KING: That's ridiculous.

Dan Lothian keeping an eye on that.

Thank you very much, Dan.

And if you're and you're in the State of Virginia, remind your friends. Tell them November 4th is the election.

Thank you very much.

Let's move up to Pennsylvania and Brian Todd -- you're in a state, Brian, that has been in the Democratic column for 20 years now, since 1988. And the McCain campaign says it cannot get to 270 unless it turns a Pennsylvania around. But down double digits in our latest poll.

Do you see any evidence on the ground, Brian, that McCain is inching back?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You do see that in pockets, John. And they're assaulting this state. Sarah Palin just completed a very widespread tour of the state. John McCain is coming here for three high profile events over the next two days.

What analysts and political operatives are telling us here is that despite the double digit lead for Obama, that many Democratic voters in the state don't turn out as well on election day as they tend to show in pre-election polls.

So a double digit lead here doesn't mean as much. Even a few surrogates for the main -- for both campaigns say that this is not a slam dunk for the Obama team.

So the McCain campaign is really assaulting this state.

John McCain's coming here shortly. They believe they've got a shot at turning this blue state red.

KING: Remarkable.

We'll keep an eye on Pennsylvania, as well.

Let's go out to the West.

Dan Simon out in Colorado -- now, Dan, that's another state that if you go back four or eight years ago, shines red on the map.

What's the latest?

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's going to be very tough for John McCain. And I'm in Colorado Springs. This is a very important part of the state -- probably more so for John McCain. As you know, this is considered an Evangelical base in this country. Republicans outnumber Democrats by a two to one margin. And the feeling is, is if John McCain can run up the numbers here in a big way, it might be enough to offset losses in other parts of the state. But I have to tell you, the Obama campaign is making a heavy play in this area, which is unusual for a Democrat. They have a lot of resources here. In fact, they have spent more money than the McCain campaign this year. And they've raised more money than the McCain campaign, which is pretty extraordinary if you think about it.

And their feeling is, is that if they can just get 40 percent of the vote here in Colorado Springs, just 40 percent, if you take that and add up other parts of the state, that they can glide to a victory here in Colorado.

I should tell you that for the McCain campaign, guess who they have coming here tomorrow?

Mitt Romney. He's very popular in the State of Colorado. Beat McCain by a 42 point margin in the primary. And the feeling is, is that if he can come to Colorado Springs and rile the base, it might help here in Colorado -- John.

KING: We'll watch Mitt Romney as he gets out to Colorado.

Dan Simon, Brian Todd, Dan Lothian and John Zarrella, thank you all very much in the battleground states.

One of the things that makes it so fun to work where we work here is because we have an amazing team of people. And they are everywhere across the country in these final days.

And when we come back, what's going on in the candidates' camp at this hour?

Find out. We'll check in there next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Let's go out back on the trail with the correspondents covering the candidates today.

Candy Crowley, our senior political correspondent, is in Highland, Indiana. That the Democratic candidate is in Indiana in the final weekend says a lot right there.

Ed Henry in Columbus, Ohio. We have said this over and over again and we'll say it once more -- no Republican has ever won the White House without carrying the State of Ohio.

Let's start with Candy Crowley -- Candy, I assume where you are is part of the Obama message in the final days, that he thinks he's in the lead and he's got the foot on the gas.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: And this is a campaign now very full of confidence. I can tell you absolutely that he will say tonight to this crowd, listen, it's not over until it's over. You've got to keep fighting.

But I also have to tell you that the campaign manager and all of his strategists, at this point, are looking at that early vote, John, in all of these states, many of them swing states. Thirty-four states allow that in person early voting. They are taking their database and really squeezing those numbers. And what they came up with is this. They say that, overwhelmingly, these are Obama voters in these states. And they say that there is a large number of sporadic and new voters, which they also believe are Obama voters.

The die is cast, according to David Plough, the campaign manager, even as we speak. They believe that come election day, because of this early voting -- and this is one of the reasons Obama is out and about in all these states that have early voting, because they believe, in the Obama campaign, that come election day, as Plough put it, John McCain is going to have to over perform in order to overcome what they believe is a huge Obama lead now in these early states.

Now there, there is an assumption, of course, in some ways, of well, this person voted because we know and we've identified him as this or that. They also are calling people. But that's really how they're feeling in the Obama campaign right now, John -- very, very confident.

BLITZER: Stand by, Candy.

Let's check in with Ed Henry -- Ed, follow up on that point. To the degree that you're in Ohio, George W. Bush carried it twice, because Republicans, in the last two cycles, have had the superior ground operation. That's in question this year.

ED HENRY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. Now the McCain camp insists, though, they've been still making the same phone calls the Bush campaign made in 2004, they've been on the ground here literally knocking on doors. And they're confident they can actually outperform the Bush campaign of 2004.

But you're absolutely right, that's very much in doubt. And that's the problem for John McCain, not just here in Ohio. The McCain camp, just in the last few moments, has released their schedule for Monday. And, basically, Sarah Palin and John McCain will each hit seven states.

They're calling it a mad dash -- a final barnstorm across the country. And when you look at the majority of those 14 states, they're states like Colorado, you were just talking about; Virginia; here in Ohio; Florida -- states that George W. Bush carried in 2004. And so once again, as we said for the last couple of weeks, John McCain, in the final hours, defending his own turf -- states he should have locked up a long time ago -- while Barack Obama is where Candy is, in Indiana, trying to play in states the Democrats have not carried in some 40 years. And that gives you a clear idea of the fact that John McCain is down, but his campaign insists they are not out. They are still confident they can come back and they're still confident, as well, as you were talking at the top, they think a lot of these public polls are off and they think they're a lot closer in these battleground states than it's showing.

We'll see on Tuesday.

KING: Well, Candy, as Ed makes the point of they're confident of a comeback trail, the Obama campaign goes up on television today in Georgia, North Dakota and John McCain's home state of Arizona.

Is that just that they have so much money to spend they need to spend it and they're looking for new places where they can find ad time?

Or are they really confident they can move the dial in those states?

CROWLEY: I think confident may be overstating it. But, yes, they do have money to spend. And they have time to spend. For heaven's sakes, the man was in Iowa today, where this all started. And he has a solid lead there.

But, yes, they have money to spend. But they did look at these three states. They've watched the polling move and they believe there are expanding opportunities, as they put it, in those three states. so, yes. But it is another sign of confidence.

And I will tell you one more thing, John, and that is that Obama's schedule over the next four days is all in states, save one, that have early voting. So they continue to drive that. But it may be more notable for what's not on the agenda and that is Pennsylvania. It is certainly a signal that they believe that they have Pennsylvania, that another visit back there is not needed. And as you know full well, that's a state that John McCain put on his must-win list.

KING: We will see if that is a wise decision in the days ahead.

A nice piece of reporting there.

Candy Crowley in Iowa.

Ed Henry in Ohio.

And we're going to go back to where Candy is, that Barack Obama rally in Indiana. We'll take you there live for a little sampling.

Again, you're watching a special edition -- the final weekend of the presidential campaign ahead of us.



KING: Welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE and Happy Halloween.

We'll take you back out on the trail for that Barack Obama rally live in Highland, Indiana in just a few minutes.

But first, we want to bring back in our panel.

Joining us, Roland Martin, a CNN contributor. He is out in Chicago.

Bay Buchanan, conservative activist and CNN political contributor. She is in our D.C. bureau.

With me here in New York. David Gergen and Gloria Borger still.

Before we continue our discussion, our Wolf Blitzer went out to Des Moines, Iowa today to sit down with Barack Obama. Among the topics they discussed, the future and the fate of the Osama bin Laden.

Let's listen.



Senator McCain says

to capture bin Laden. And he says I'll get him, if he's elected president.

Do you know how to capture bin Laden?


Well, you know, I'm reminded of -- he said this during the debate. And I think the next -- that night, maybe, I think Jon Stewart, on Comedy Central, said, you know, why have you been holding out on us for the last six years?

I mean the fact is, is that, along with George Bush, John McCain championed a strategy that distracted us from capturing bin Laden, that focused on Iraq, that had nothing to do with 9/11.

And, so, clearly, Senator McCain doesn't know how to capture bin Laden, because he was supportive of a huge strategic blunder when it came to accomplishing the task.

I will focus on what Secretary Gates and others have indicated is our number one security threat. And that is bin Laden and Al Qaeda.


KING: Bay Buchanan, I want to bring you in first, because the challenge for Republicans and conservatives at the beginning of this race was to convince the American people Barack Obama is 47 years old, he's new on the national stage, he is not ready to be commander-in- chief.

When you watch him give those answers now, think back a year or so in the campaign, has he crossed that threshold?

BAY BUCHANAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR, SUPPORTS MCCAIN: Well, he certainly shows himself to be much more confident, much more comfortable with those kinds of questions. A year in campaigning has made him an individual who gives the appearance of somebody with a lot more experience than he has.

KING: And, Roland Martin, when you watch him -- you've watched Barack Obama for a long time. He has grown as a candidate. It's interesting, you know, Wolf Blitzer put that question to him, and it's a very important question. But it's one of the benefits that Barack Obama has in this campaign is, yes, his answers are better now on those foreign policy questions, without a doubt. But that's really not what is first and foremost in the voters' minds.

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST, NATIONAL TALK RADIO HOST: Well, of course, in terms of -- the whole point for Obama has been to be able to project the confidence to be able to make those decisions. That's why that critical word temperament has been so vital in terms of how people have assessed him.

And I really do think, beyond the whole issue of commander-in- chief, the reaction to the American people to Obama during the economic crisis, that was critical, because people saw the cool, calm and confident individual. And some people saw McCain sort of veering in different ways. He outshone McCain in that instance.

And so he looked more presidential, to be honest.

KING: Much more from Roland and Bay and David and Gloria here.

We're going to take a quick break.

We're also going to check in with Barack Obama, campaigning live on this Friday night, the last Friday night before the election.

Stay with us.

You're watching LARRY KING LIVE.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: ... begin, there are a couple of special acknowledgements...

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You're looking at live picture there of Barack Obama campaigning in Highland, Indiana. That's not too far from Chicago where he went trick-or-treating with his daughters tonight, took them to a Halloween party. We'll check back in with Barack Obama during that live rally in just a few moments when he gets through the introductions. But let's go back to our panel discussion here.

David Gergen is with me here, Gloria Borger, Roland Martin and Bay Buchanan joining us via remote.

David, let's -- we've talked a lot about the polls and the horse race. Let's spend a little time on the choice of the American people. The policy choice of the American people facing less than 100 hours, fewer than 100 hours.

John McCain has tried at the end of the campaign to say liberal, liberal, will raise your taxes. There is a big difference between them. Is that message getting through? And are we having the substantive discussion we should be having? They are dramatically different candidates.

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: It's been interesting to look at some of the survey which go beyond the question of just who you for or what do you know about the candidates.

And the American people right now seem to have a pretty clear sense of the differences between them and McCain is getting across his message that there's a danger of Obama raising your taxes. I'm the guy who's going to cut them.

But Obama's gotten a -- he's really worked with some of his voters. They all think he's going to lower their taxes, (INAUDIBLE) lower tax. McCain's message is not working with the Obama voters.

It's -- I think that generally speaking, listen. There are huge differences between them on domestic policy. The differences on foreign policy are not as huge but they're significant.

KING: And Bay, has John McCain failed the contrast test on the economic and domestic issues or does he just have the Bush legacy wrapped around him and he can't break through?

BAY BUCHANAN, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: John, well -- you know, you'd remember four, five weeks ago, John McCain was ahead and when he dropped 10 points dramatically, of course, it was collapse of the economy and he's been trying to recover ever since.

But I think that the fact that so many polls now show a tightening of those nationally and in some key states that this message that he's been pounding, that being that Barack Obama is going -- is not somebody you can trust with the economy, that he wants to spread your wealth, this kind of talk to make them concerned, I think, is working.

Is it going to work quickly enough, is the key but I do believe that's what the -- you know, the movement here is towards John McCain and I believe it's because of the economy.

KING: Well, Gloria, you talk to these people every day. If Bay's -- if Bay is right and there is some tightening -- we'll see how significant it is. But let's assume there's a little bit of a tightening out there for the sake of this discussion, and if the tax argument and the he's liberal argument and he will raise the taxes and stifle the economy argument is working to any degree, why was McCain not doing it two, three weeks ago?

Why are we talking about Bill Ayers and all these other things?


KING: Because this argument has worked for the Democrats in the past -- I mean for the Republicans in the past.

BORGER: Joe the Plumber -- Joe the Plumber actually has worked for -- John McCain. And the polls are showing that. I think what people think about towards the end of an election, though, they know where these fellows are on the issues. They've seen them for a long time.

But there are also leadership questions. And Bay alluded to that in the economic crisis and when you look at the polls about whether people now feel reassured that Barack Obama can lead in a crisis, they feel more sure that he can.

We all thought going into this election that it would be just the commander in chief issue. That that would be the leadership question. Now it extends to the economy and Obama has leveled that playing field and he's ahead on it, actually.

You know what? You know, John, I'm from Texas. We love football. And this is the fourth quarter. And the reality is you can have the best game plan in the world. This is when you have to gut it out right now. And so I think the battle right now, the final 72 hours has to do with boots on the ground -- the ground game.

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST, SUPPORTS OBAMA: Who is getting their people out to the polls? The question is, will the Republicans be able to put it into place at 72-hour program that was so effective in 2000, 2004? They're running against the guys, the community organizer. They have put them one hell of an operation. That's the battle. Not really message. It's what's happening on ground.

KING: Roland Martin there, using the term community organizer in a positive. It always -- hasn't always come up that way in this campaign.

But let's listen to Barack Obama right now because what he is trying to do right now in Highland, Indiana, live tonight is just what Roland is talking about, get those people to not only to cheer for him at a rally but to get out and vote.

OBAMA: You know, we began this journey in the depths of winter nearly two years ago on the steps of the old state capital in Springfield, Illinois. That was a cold day. It was 7 degrees. But a crowd like this showed up and back then we didn't have much money. We didn't have many 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 that the size of our challenges had outgrown the smallness of our politics. I believed that Democrats and Republicans and Americans of every political stripe were hungry for new leadership and new ideas and a new kind of politics, one that favors common sense over ideology, one that focuses on the values and ideals that we hold in common as Americans.

And most of all, I knew the American people. I knew the American people are a decent, generous people that they're willing to hard -- work hard and sacrifice for future generations.

And I was convinced that when we come together, 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 wants to keep things just the way they are.

And 21 months later, my faith in the American people has been vindicated. That's how we've come so far, so close because of you. That's how we'll change this country with all of your help. And that's why we can't afford in these last four days to slow down or sit back or let up for one day, for one minute, for one second.

Not now. Not when there's so much at stake. We've got to go ahead and win this election.

We -- we are in the middle of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. 760,000 workers have lost their jobs this year. Folks in this area, they know about that. Businesses and families can't get credit. Home values are falling. Pensions are disappearing. It's gotten harder and harder to make the mortgage or fill up your gas tank or even keep the electricity on at the end of the month.

At a moment like this the last thing we can afford is four more years of the tired, stale old theories that say we should give more and more to billionaires and millionaires and big corporations and hope that prosperity somehow trickles down on everybody else.

The last thing we can afford is four more years where no one in Washington is watching anyone on Wall Street because the lobbyists killed common sense regulations. Those are the theories that got us into this mess. They haven't worked.

It's time for a change. That's why I'm running for president of the United States of America.

Now, I want to say this. John McCain has served this country with honor. He can point to a few moments over the past eight years where he's broken from George Bush.

Just this morning, the McCain campaign put out an ad that showed me praising him and Joe Lieberman for their work on global warming as if there was something wrong with acknowledging when an opponent has said or done something that makes sense.

I actually think that's what we need more of in Washington. A little bit of civility, a little bit of mutual respect. I don't disagree with Senator McCain on everything. I respect his occasional displays of independence.

But when it comes to the economy, when it comes to the central issue of this election, the plain truth is that John McCain has stood with this president every step of the way -- voting for Bush tax cuts for the wealthy that he once opposed, voting for budget cuts by George Bush that spent us into debt, took us from surplus into deficit, calling for less regulation, 21 times just this year.

Those are the facts.

You know, 90 percent -- you know, I just came back -- my girls were doing some trick-or-treating and, you know, Malea and Sasha, each year, every year they've got trouble deciding what they want to be for Halloween, but John McCain didn't have that problem. Just like every year, he's going as George W. Bush.

After -- after 21 months, after three debates John McCain still has not been able to tell the American people a single major thing that he would do differently from George Bush when it comes to the economy.

I mean, you don't know what John McCain's going to do because he doesn't talk about it. All he talks about is me. John McCain says we can't spend the next four years waiting for our luck to change. But you understand the biggest gamble we can take is embracing the same old Bush/McCain economic policies that have failed us for the last eight years.

When John McCain wants to give a $700,000 tax cut to the average Fortune 500 CEO, that's not change. It's not change when he wants to give $200 billion to the biggest corporations or $4 billion to the oil companies, or $300 billion to the same Wall Street banks that got us into this mess.

It's not change when he comes up with a tax plan that doesn't give a penny of relief to more than 100 million middle class Americans.

KING: You're listening to Barack Obama campaigning live on this Friday night in Highland, Indiana. Indiana, the reddest of red states you might say. Barack Obama trying to put it in the Democratic column this year. He's campaigning live. We'll check in with that again if necessary, if news warrants.

Right now, we're going to take a quick break. LARRY KING LIVE will be back in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: We do our best to be fair here at CNN. We just showed you a live event with Barack Obama. We'd love to show you a live even with John McCain or Sarah Palin tonight. They are off the trail, however, so we want to give you a little bit of sampling of Senator McCain on the campaign trail earlier today in Columbus, Ohio.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I know you're worried. America's a great country. We're a moment of -- we're in a moment of national crisis that will determine our future.

And let me just ask you -- will we continue to lead the world's economy or will we be overtaken? Will the world become safer or more dangerous? Will our military remain the strongest in the world? Will our children and grandchildren's future be brighter than ours?

My answer to you is yes. Yes, we will lead. Yes, we will prosper. Yes, we will be safer. Yes, we will pass on to our children a stronger, better country but we must be prepared to act swiftly, boldly with courage and wisdom.

My friends, I need you on November 4th and I'm an American and I choose to fight. Don't give up hope. Be strong. Have courage. And fight.


KING: A feisty John McCain earlier today in Columbus, Ohio. On hand to give hip a boost, the California governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Much more of our discussion with our panel just ahead. As you see it at the bottom of the screen, want to give us some advice, some tips, any complaints,, join our discussion.

We'll be right back.


KING: I do my best Larry imitation here. My man Anderson Cooper standing by. It's "AC360" at the top of the hour.

Anderson, what do you got for us?

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: John, you need the suspenders.

KING: I do.

COOPER: We're on the cusp of history. Less than 100 hours. That's how far away we are from the first polls closing on.

Tonight, the latest on the trail of Obama and McCain. Obama warning that this final weekend is going to get nasty. We'll look into what he means tonight. Also, Al Gore was on the trail for Obama today. Arnold Schwarzenegger stumped for McCain. Does the star power help with undecideds? There's a lot of them left. We'll try to see which way they are leaning.

We'll also dig deeper to the fears of some African-Americans in Florida about their vote not being counted. Oprah Winfrey just voted and has warned -- a warning for everyone tonight about checking your ballot. We'll hear from her.

All that plus John King doing double duty at the magic wall showing us how one state in particular is making news tonight and changing the electoral map.

All that and more, "360," at the top of the hour, John.

KING: We'll see you then, Anderson. Maybe I'll get the suspenders by "360." We'll work on that. We'll see you in just a few minutes.

Let's get back to our discussion here.

David, we showed Barack Obama live. We had to go to John McCain on tape. We're trying to be fair. This is a joke on my part, but he always says he's not George W. Bush and yet he seems to share George W. Bush's bedtime.

If we're in the final 100 hours of this campaign, why?

GERGEN: Well, that's a very good question because I think people -- you know, the inevitable conclusion is, of course, his age. That he needs to go to sleep. That's fair. He's 72.

But it makes a difference on these last -- you know this closing days, because I think getting out there live and being on CNN and the other cable shows live. Obama's been doing the last few night like Orlando the other night with Clinton.

It's just good television and it's a way you blitz the electorate, that's what's going to keep him -- keep this thing -- Obama's point of view, that's what helps to prevent it from closing against him too much.

KING: Gloria, I've chased McCain around on the trail and he does not lack energy. He may be 72...

BORGER: Yes, he's traveling tonight.

KING: ... but he does not lack energy and Ed Henry did -- earlier in the program, said that over the last couple of days they planned this blitz at the end.


KING: And Bob Dole did it in a campaign where it was clear what the results were. Do you read anything into it or is it just mind numbing?

BORGER: Well, you know, they're -- they're traveling tonight. But you know, Obama understands, and they've been capturing the local news market at 11:00 at night.

GERGEN: Exactly.

BORGER: That's what you go after. You know it wasn't -- it wasn't by coincidence that Bill Clinton and Barack Obama were on live at 11:00 at night in Florida the other night.

GERGEN: Well, that's -- 11 o'clock is when Bill Clinton comes alive.

BORGER: Well, that's true, too.


KING: Don't we know that. Don't we know...

MARTIN: John...

KING: Roland, I hear your laughter. I want to bring you in to the discussion. And this is a personal as much as a professional question...


KING: ... because you're the only African-American with us tonight on this panel. This country could be, and I want to say, could be, it is not over, but could be less than 100 hours away from making a dramatic piece of history.

When you look at the polling data and when you think about the moment, do you believe it?

MARTIN: I get -- I've peered on kind of black expos and speeches for the last month, and I keep getting the question, is he going to do it? And John, to be perfectly honest, I will not answer that question because simply, you do not know.

There are people who --I mean it's amazing the e-mails and text messages, people are -- you know tied up in knots. In fact, what's so amazing is, African-Americans are so scared, John, they don't want any kind of statement made that could be construed as hurting Obama's chances.

It's utterly amazing. I mean, I myself might say something on television, folks are, like, Roland, don't say that, or you were too aggressive, because this might hurt Obama. I mean they really are afraid that it may not happen and so people are, frankly, on pins and needles.

I just tell people, it's very simple. You can't go into the polls, you can't go into the booth and vote for anybody who's white, Hispanic or whatever. You simply have to hope and pray that people make their best judgment and leave it at that, and do your part to get folks to the polls.

And at the end of the day, it all comes down to who has the most votes in each state, period.

KING: Roland makes a key point on who has the most votes. You see Bay Buchanan there. When we come back from a quick break, I want to talk to Bay Buchanan about the conservative base. Will it turn out in this election now just a few days away?

Stay with us, you're watching LARRY KING LIVE.



GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER (R), CALIFORNIA: The Arnold Classic is all about building up the bodies and pumping up. And that's why the next Arnold Classic, I want to invite Senator Obama, because he needs to do something -- he needs to do something about those skinny legs.

The Mac is back. Let's welcome the next president of the United States, John McCain.


KING: Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger of California on the trail for John McCain today. Humor is always welcome in politics. Governor Schwarzenegger saying he would help Barack Obama work on what he called his scrawny legs and also his skinny biceps as well.

Humor is good. Humor is good.

Bay Buchanan, Arnold Schwarzenegger, I don't think would ever make the conservative hall of fame, but he's out there trying to gin up Republican turnout today. A lot of focus on the Obama operation because, frankly, it is new. Democrats have not had the money and the organization in past campaigns that Obama has.

But what about the reliable Republican base? Is it reliable this time?

BUCHANAN: I think, without question, that the Republicans, conservatives, the base of our party will be out in droves. And you know, John, there is a -- this is historical. And I think the American people across the board have that sense.

I think you're going to have a huge numbers of people voting this time around. But I think there's a point here we haven't touched upon that is significant. The polls, obviously, all show Obama ahead, I think it's clear he is.

But there is -- all of the lots. We don't really know how far ahead he is. There is some sense that it's closing. And I saw today where 14 percent of the electorate are considered persuadable, they're either undecided or they're soft, they're not sure, they kind of maybe leaning this way today. But they could be persuaded otherwise. And that the youth are not voting in the numbers they expect.

If that happens and we -- and John McCain can reach into those persuadables of which I should also add, they say -- they've asked if they favor, don't favor Palin. And she's got a 14 -- 17 percent spread.

So they are much more favorable towards Palin than the general population which tells me John McCain could get a message through there and bring some of them home, bring them home in the kind of numbers he needs.

MARTIN: But...

BUCHANAN: Things could be very, very tight on election night.

MARTIN: But Bay, another poll showed that 59 percent unfavorable for Palin. You also talk about this conservative base. Look, they are tight in Missouri. That was a state Bush won, large Evangelicals. They do not like John McCain.

Palin's on the ticket but they're not strong there. The reality even in North Carolina.


MARTIN: And North Carolina, same thing. And so both the conservative base, they're not there for John McCain. He's not loved by them.


KING: But let me jump in -- let me jump in.

BUCHANAN: All the polls show otherwise.

KING: There is a debate about the polls. Let me jump in at this point. And David and Gloria, I want you to weigh in on this.

The question of the polls, and I'm pausing because I want to say this just right. But the night before the New Hampshire primary, remember, Barack Obama was up 8 or 10 points in New Hampshire polls. And Senator Clinton thumped him. She just beat him. She turned out her voters.

Is there a -- is there a possibility that the country will be New Hampshire on Tuesday?

GERGEN: It could. In that case, she had that dramatic moment there, that moment she teared up and there was a lot of sympathy for her, and a lot of his support melted away. I think she took it away from him there more than having a Bradley effect.

And Bay's -- it could turn out. But I think the counter point here is this on why it's so difficult for McCain. I think there are now 10 states, 10 states that Bush won four years ago, where Barack Obama is either competitive or ahead. And there's only one state that Kerry won, Pennsylvania, that McCain is really challenging.

KING: Got a few seconds left. You get the last word, Gloria.

BORGER: Just a quick point about New Hampshire, because I remember that very well...

KING: Right.

BORGER: because we were all embarrassed. We stopped. People stopped polling New Hampshire four days before the primary.

KING: Right.

BORGER: So we didn't catch...


KING: The (INAUDIBLE), right.

BORGER: ... the Hillary Clinton moment. Nobody could accuse us of underpolling. We've got tons of polls everyday.

KING: Not this time. Great group tonight. I want to thank all of you for joining us.

And as we close tonight, let's see what the candidates are doing for Halloween. It is Halloween. Barack Obama here, taking his daughter to a Halloween party in Chicago. You see both of his daughters there. Off they go to trick or treat into a party.

John McCain was traveling but his plane became a flying costume party. This photo courtesy of Evan Glass, one of our producers. Now the favorite costume this year -- that's Evan and I know the lady on the right.

The favorite costume this year is a Sarah Palin costume, apparently. But take a look at this, perhaps the second favorite costume, one of Larry's younger voters sent us this picture. Here's how he trick-or-treated this evening. He's got the suspenders, I forgot mine.

Go to LARRY KING blog, Tell us what you think, maybe share a Halloweens photo. Larry has a special hour this Saturday at midnight and Sunday at 9:00. D.L. Hughley, Kathy Griffin and Mo Rocca put political humor on display.

That's LARRY KING LIVE this weekend. And Cindy McCain is Larry King's guest on election evening, that's Monday night.

Time now for Anderson Cooper and "AC360."