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Campaign Countdown; Filibuster-Proof Senate; Obama Enjoys Cheney's McCain Endorsement; Evangelicals Not United

Aired November 2, 2008 - 09:00   ET


T.J. HOLMES, CNN NEWS ANCHOR: All right. CNN SUNDAY MORNING, this is what we've got on tap for you. It's down to the wire in a long and often bitter presidential campaign. We are hitting the trail live in some of the battleground states.
BETTY NGUYEN, CNN NEWS ANCHOR: Plus the make-up of the next Supreme Court could be at stake in this election. What does it mean for Roe v. Wade? And it's not just the top of the ticket getting attention. Senator Elizabeth Dole and some other key lawmakers they are fighting for their political lives.

Good morning, everybody from the CNN Center in Atlanta, bringing you news from all around the world on the Sunday before the historic presidential election. Thanks for join us, I'm Betty Nguyen.

HOLMES: And hey there, I'm T.J. Holmes. It's Sunday, November 2.

NGUYEN: Two days left and the candidates are out in full force today. Democratic senator, Barack Obama is in Missouri this morning, then it's on to Ohio where he has a couple of campaign events scheduled. GOP senator, John McCain he is in Pennsylvania, New Hampshire and Florida today.

And we are all over the battleground states as we count down to Tuesday. Check them out. Our Dan Lothian in Virginia, Paul Steinhauser is in New York, Jessica Yellin is in Ohio.

HOLMES: And if we are talking about Ohio, then of course we are talking about that all important state and a very important race, as always. Check out the latest poll we have, it's the CNN/"Time" magazine Opinion Research Poll. It shows Obama has a four point lead over McCain, the margin of error, however is plus or minus 3-1/2 points.

Our Jessica yellen is in Columbus this morning and Senator Obama will be there a little later today. I tell you Jessica, are they getting tired of seeing all these candidates?

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: It is amazing, T.J. If there's any doubt as to Ohio's importance, this should put it to rest. Ever single principle has been through this region in the last two days, or will be here. Palin, Obama is coming with his wife Michelle, John McCain and Joe Biden, all in this area because as Ohio goes, the history lessons have taught us, so goes the presidency. So, Barack Obama will be making three stops in this state today, Columbus, Cincinnati and Cleveland. And he will be selling his campaign theme with a new twist. He is pushing hard on John McCain's recent endorsement by Dick Cheney. It reinforces his campaign theme that McCain will continue the Cheney/Bush policies. It's a theme he hit on in his earlier remarks today. Let's listen.


BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Bush and Cheney, they've dug a deep hole. So, what he wants to do is pass a shovel to John McCain, to dig that hole deeper. Dick Cheney knows that with John McCain you get a two-for -- George Bush's economic policies and dick Cheney's foreign policies. And that's a risk we cannot afford to take. It's time for change. It's time for change, that's why I need your help, so that I can bring about that change in the White House.


YELLIN: That was actually in Springfield, yesterday, Missouri, another battleground state Obama is swinging through. One thing that's interesting here, T.J., is that while I just made the point that Ohio is essential for any winner to get to the Oval Office, Barack Obama is gambling on finding another route. He has expanded the map so much that he is trying to see if there's a possibility he could possibly lose Ohio this time and still win the presidency by picking up other red states. But, of course, he doesn't want to gamble fully, so he's spending plenty of time here. And I should mention, that the McCain/Cheney theme is the theme of a new ad the Obama campaign is releasing, as well, tomorrow, featuring Cheney's endorsement which happened earlier this weekend. So, they are not letting up at all in these final hours.

HOLMES: Yeah, you're not kidding. We showed a few clips of that ad that will be coming out earlier this morning and yeah, we're surprised we're still seeing new ads. But hey, they're going to be campaigning up to the last minute. Jessica Yellin, there for us in Ohio. We will see you again, plenty.

All right, thank you, Jessica.

NGUYEN: All right, let's get you now to Pennsylvania and the latest CNN poll of polls there. It has Barack Obama with a seven- point lead over John McCain. Right there, 51 percent to 44 percent, five percent say they are still undecided. Well, our Brian Todd is in Scranton this morning.

Brian, looking at those numbers, is it a gamble for McCain to stay there when he seems a bit far behind in the polls?

BRIAN TODD, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: It's a bit of a gamble, Betty. But, when you look at the history of this state, maybe not so much, experts and insiders here tell us that traditionally, a Democratic poll number pre-election are stronger than they are on Election Day. John Kerry in 2004, Al Gore in 2000, both polled much stronger here in Pennsylvania before the election than they actually did on Election Day. A seven-point margin, therefore, for the McCain campaign, they feel that they're in striking distance. A couple of other factors in play, the conservative Democrats here who when for Hillary Clinton in the primaries, the McCain team feels that they can pick off a lot of those voters, especially in the rural parts of Pennsylvania, those wide areas between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, very culturally conservative areas. They're anti-abortion, they are pro-gun. The McCain team feels they can really target those voters and they have not wasted any time. This is the ninth out of the last 14 days that either John McCain or Sarah Palin will have come to this state. Still, John McCain found time last night to shuttle up to New York City for "Saturday Night Live," an appearance where he poked fun at the age gap in this election.


JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And here's another bad one. It's called the sad grandpa.

That's where I get on TV and go, come on, Obama's going to have plenty of chances to be president, it's my turn.



TODD: John McCain poking fun the age gap, there. And he's been doing that throughout his campaign to some pretty good effect, at least on "Saturday Night Live" last night. He's going to be here in Scranton later on today. A 2:00 p.m. rally here at the University of Scranton. He then shuttles up to New Hampshire for a town hall meeting there, but he's going to come right back into this state on Monday for an event in Pittsburgh.

So Betty, yes, they are behind in the polls here, but they really see an opportunity and they say this is the one state, the one blue state traditionally Democratic state that they think they can turn to compensate for the loss of what surely will be at least a couple of traditional Republican states to Barack Obama.

NGUYEN: Yeah, down to the wire and time counts. Thank you. Appreciate that, Brian.

HOLMES: We've been counting down these days. We've been counting them down with issues, 10 issues, 10 days we've been looking at, telling you where the candidates stand on these major issues. Our own top 10, here. Since we started this past Saturday we've looked at economy, taxes, energy, healthcare, education, the housing mess, relief for home owners, homeland security, foreign policy and today, the Supreme Court. The court is front and center.

Well, the court is balanced right now in terms of conservatives and liberals. You got, pretty much, four that lean conservative, four that lean liberal and one out there that kind of is the swing vote. But legal analysts say it's likely the next president will have to appoint at least two justices to the bench. And that could possibly tip the scales since a couple of the oldest on the bench right now lean more liberal. So, if Obama was elected then he would likely fill the seats, we stay balanced. However, McCain, he could put two conservatives on that could certainly tip the scales.

So, here is how the candidates compare on some important historic issues. Well, take abortion here first, to John McCain believes Roe vs Wade should be overturned. Barack Obama, meanwhile, opposes any constitutional amendment that would do just that.

Turn to gun control, now. Obama voted for a 2005 amendment that would place restrictions on ammunition marked at armor-piercing. McCain voted against that. In 2006, both candidates voted on an amendment that would prohibit officials from taking firearms from private citizens, in particular in a time of crisis or during an emergency.

Well, 10 issues, 10 days. That coverage continues tomorrow. Take a look at referendum, some of those other ballot issues. Taking a look at what else you'll be voting on Election Day.

NGUYEN: There are hot Senate races that we don't want you to forget about on Tuesday.

HOLMES: A lot of them getting a lot of attention, in particular, this ad in North Carolina.


ANNOUNCER: A leader of the Godless Americans pack recently held a secret fundraiser in Kay Hagan's honor. Godless American.


HOLMES: Yes, Godless Americans. That one is getting a whole lot of attention. CNN's political editor will be along with details in some all-important Senate races.


NGUYEN: Well, Tuesday is not just about the presidential election. There are some really heated Senate races, as well, to tell you about. The Democrats could secure a filibuster-proof Senate. CNN political editor, Mark Preston, joins us now.

And Mark, being filibuster-proof, that has some people concerned. Explain how this could actually work.

MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: Yeah, no question, Betty. Right now, the Democrats control the chamber in the Senate, 51-49, a razor thin margin. Right now they are trying to pick up nine seats, that would get them to 60. And let me break it down, how that would affect both John McCain and Barack Obama.

Should John McCain win on Tuesday, should he win the White House, and Democrats were to secure that 60 votes in the chamber, that means everything could come to a gridlock, it could stop. Democrats could prevent anything from going through that John McCain is trying to move forward.

If Barack Obama is to win on Tuesday and the Democrats were to get 60 votes, there would be huge expectations on Barack Obama and congressional Democrats to try to move massive amounts of legislation through that they've not been able to get through the Bush years. So, a lot of pressure, certainly on Barack Obama and John McCain regarding what happens in these Senate races on Tuesday.

NGUYEN: Yeah, a lot expected from the races, so let's get down to them. Which one should we really be paying attention to?

PRESTON: Well I'll tell you, right now, Betty, I am looking at 11 Republican races, right now, keeping an eye on them, just to see where they are going and there's one Democratic race right now to keep an eye on, as well. They range from everywhere as far north to Alaska all the way as far north as Georgia. But I'll tell you what, one race if we can start right here, with North Carolina, this has become a very divisive race right now between Kay Hagan and the incumbent, Dole. In fact, there's been a very controversial ad that's been running in the last couple of days regarding religion and god. If we can just take a quick listen to that.

ELIZABETH DOLE (R), NORTH CAROLINA: I'm Elizabeth Dole and I approve this message.

ANNOUNCER: Leaders of the godless Americans pact recently held a fund raiser in Kay Hagan's honor.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There is no god to rely on.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There was no Jesus.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Taking "under god" out of the "Pledge of Allegiance," you're down with that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're down with that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "In god we trust," you're going to whip that of the money?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah, we would.

ANNOUNCER: Godless Americans and Kay Hagan. She hid from cameras, took godless money. What did Hagan promise in return?



PRESTON: Well there you are, Betty, certainly a very controversial ad. Kay Hagan is upset by that. She's a former Sunday school teacher and in fact, that is not her voice at the end when she talks about there is no god. So, those two are battling in North Carolina.

Let's head south to Georgia. Another, where you are right now. another race that we did not see on the board about eight months ago that has incumbent, Saxby Chambliss, who is fighting for him political life in many terms. He is running against a gentleman by the name of Jim Martin. Here's what could happen in this race.

Barack Obama, could there be coattails? Obama is running ads in that state right now and Democrats are hoping that Obama can help carry Martin across the finish line.

Let's move up to Minnesota, right now. Where Al Franken, a lot of our viewers remember him from "Saturday Night Live," Al Franken and Norm Coleman are battling up there. We say Bill Clinton up there in the state, just recently in the last coupe of days, campaigning for Barack Obama, as well as Al Franken.

And in addition, Barack Obama is running ads in North Dakota. North Dakota and Minnesota share a media market. They're hoping that Barack Obama can help with the coattails there as well, Betty.

And then, let's move up to Alaska and close it out, here. This is, of course, the seat that's held by Ted Stevens, one of the most powerful men in Washington for many years. Right now, he has been convicted on many counts and right now, Democrats see that as a great pickup in Alaska. So, we're not sure if they will actually get to nine. The question is how many will they get to and we'll have to see that on Tuesday.

NGUYEN: Boy, there's a lot of decisions on the table. Quickly, we talked about the Senate. What about the house? What can it look like after Tuesday?

PRESTON: Well Betty, I've been talking to Republican strategists all week about what the outcome could be on Tuesday. And this is what they're telling me. A good night for Republicans in the House is that if they lose 15 races, 15 to 20 races, but a bad night for them could be up to 30. And I will tell you this, we'll leave it on this, two reasons why. The economy right now, is hurting these Republican candidates as well as President Bush's poor approval rating.

NGUYEN: All right, CNN political editor, Mark Preston, breaking it down for us. We like that. Thank you.

PRESTON: Thanks, Betty.

HOLMES: All right, we're getting a lot of claims these days from the campaign trail. We're going to focus on two in particular one of them, false.

NGUYEN: OK, let's get right to it. CNN's Truth Squad has a verdict, but you have to stick around for it.


NGUYEN: Well, there are only two days until the election and that means two days for you to get the facts before you cast that ballot.

HOLMES: And for that, check out the latest from the CNN Truth Squad. CNN's Josh Levs joins us now with that -- Josh.

JOSH LEVS, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Hey guys, let me ask you something. Are you getting a little nostalgic? Just a little, maybe? All the Reality Checks we've done this entire election, this is our last Sunday together before the big vote.

NGUYEN: I am ready to see the lines go away. And that finally have a decision in this. This has been going on for what, two years now?

LEVS: I know. It's amazing how incredibly much there's been to Reality Check this entire time. So, let's so this. Here we are, we've got this time we're going to start off with, here, from a new ad that Obama put out.


ANNOUNCER: He wants $4 billion in new tax breaks for big oil and would tax your healthcare benefits for the first time ever. Look behind you. We can't afford more of the same.


LEVS: We looked at that billions claim before, we found that technically true. The line about your health benefits, we're calling that true, but incomplete, as you see on your screen. McCain would start taxing the premiums that paid for employer-provided insurance. But what that ad does not tell you is that he's also wanting to give everyone a tax credit -- $2,500 for individuals, $5,000 for families. Now, here is our latest attack from McCain against Obama.


MCCAIN: We'll invest in all energy alternatives, wind, solar, tide and safe nuclear power. But you know what Senator Obama doesn't think that nuclear power is safe.


LEVS: And we gave that a straight up false. Obama says he supports nuclear power. He says the country should not expand nuclear facilities until safety issues are solved, but he believes that's possible and he does not say nuclear power is intrinsically unsafe. Of course you can get more details on all of this, here on, just click on fact check button when you get to dotcom, you can't miss it. Please, focus on the facts, not the rhetoric. And this guys, the best way to have, when you go into that booth,

NGUYEN: All right, thank you for that. Do appreciate it, Josh.

LEVS: Thanks, guys.

NGUYEN: You know, the election is Tuesday, but by the long lines we've been talking about so much, you might think it was this weekend.

HOLMES: Yeah, a lot of folks voting early and voting in record numbers. What about Tuesday, the day I'll be going to vote?

NGUYEN: Yeah, let me know how that goes.

HOLMES: First in line. It's going to go smooth, straight through, I'm telling you. But, what about rain, shine, snow, sleet, hail, wind?

Reynolds, oh, you're not starting in Florida with the weather, are you?

REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yeah we are. I mean, imagine Florida going together with the elections, I mean, that's never happened, Florida being a pivotal state.


But, if you're wondering how the election is going to fare out, at least weather-wise, that's coming up in a few moments, right here on CNN SUNDAY MORNING. See you then.


NGUYEN: Well, just a little more than 23 million people have cast early ballots in 25 states, 23 million in 25 states and 31 states allow early voting, but we don't have all of the numbers just yet.

Early voting records are being set, though, in several if not all of the states. Several states extended voting hours and opened additional early voting sites. And you want to keep it here for official voting totals, they are going to be released on Election Day.

CNN's voter hot line has been busy, ringing off the hook at times, in fact. So far, our hot line has taken 21,500 calls, some of them looking for information about voting. 70s 7,300 of you have complained about some kind of voting problems. Now, if you have trouble at the polls, here's what you need to do, call the hot line, the number is on the screen. It's 1-877-462-6608 that is 1-877-GO- CNN-08.

HOLMES: Well, it's down to two days and it's done. Here's what's happening today with the presidential candidates. Let's take a look here at the map, if we can. Senator John McCain on the trail in Pennsylvania, New Hampshire as well as Florida. Senator Barack Obama starts out with a rally in Missouri, then heads over to Ohio, probably might pass on the highway, presidential candidates, vice president candidates, Sarah Palin, maybe they'll wave at each other on the highway. She's going to be in Ohio all day as well. Her Democratic counterpart, Senator Joe Biden, focusing on Florida and Bill and Hillary Clinton supporting the Democratic ticket with separate events in Virginia and New Hampshire.

NGUYEN: All right, listen to this, Vice President Dick Cheney endorses John McCain, no surprises there, and Barack Obama, though, couldn't be happier. The Obama campaign is even using the endorsement in a new ad. Deputy political director Paul Steinhauser joins us now from New York.

All right, this is really interesting, especially when you watch. Show us what's going on here, Paul.

PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN DEPUTY POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yeah, you know, they didn't waste much time at all, did them. You know, yesterday Cheney was in Wyoming and he said he was endorsing, supporting John McCain for president. Today, the Barack Obama campaign out with a new ad that uses those words from Dick Cheney to throw it back in John McCain's face. The ad, they say, is going to be playing nationally on cable.

What they're trying to do is tie John McCain to George Bush and Dick Cheney because, as you know, the White House, both those players, the president and vice president, according to most polls are unpopular with most Americans. And that's part of Obama's strategy, to tie John McCain to the white house and say basically if you elect John McCain it will be another four years of George Bush.

Today Barack Obama, he's in some crucial states, you just heard T.J. talk about them, mostly Ohio. Ohio, 20 electoral votes, a state that voted for Republicans in the last two presidential elections. And boy, Barack Obama would love to take those 20 electoral votes and bring them over to his camp. He'll be spending most of the day, three big rallies, Cleveland, Columbus and ending up tonight in Cincinnati -- Betty.

NGUYEN: OK, so we've been talking about Barack Obama, let's talk about McCain and where is today and what's his strategy?

STEINHAUSER: John McCain begins the day where he ended yesterday -- Pennsylvania. It's all about Pennsylvania. If you take a look at it, in the last 14 days, last two weeks, John McCain or Sarah Palin have been in Pennsylvania nine times and today will be no different. Why? Because I think the McCain campaign realizes they may be losing a couple of the states that George Bush won four years ago. So, what do they need to do? Steal a big one back. And a big one is Pennsylvania, 21 electoral votes.

And this is interesting, we do a poll of polls in Pennsylvania, it's tightening up a little bit, it's down to seven points, now. You can see it right there, our latest poll of polls which is an average of the state surveys, Obama had a double digit lead, it's down to seven, so maybe the campaigning by McCain and Palin and some surrogates is paying off.

We're going to be keeping our eyes on both these candidates all day. We got reporters across the country. We're getting down to it here.

NGUYEN: Yes, just a couple days to go and the clock is ticking. Paul Steinhauser, as always, we do appreciate it, thank you.

STEINHAUSER: Thank you. HOLMES: Well, and Virginia could go blue this year. One of the states Paul's referencing that could go to the Democrats this time around, even though the voters have elected a Republican in every presidential race since '68. Our most recent poll of polls shows Obama with a five-percent lead over McCain. Five percent they are still undecided.

Our Dan Lothian in Richmond this morning.

Dan, good morning to you once again, sir. You still in front of -- you were at church a little earlier. You still in front of that church?

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: That's right, I'm still at this church here in Richmond, Virginia. And you know, you were talking about the polls and how it's really been tightening in Virginia, Barack Obama at least in the polls ahead by five points. It really has been fluctuating over the last couple of weeks or so. At one point, Barack Obama was up by 10 points. We've seen it between seven and nine points, so it certainly is tightening. Barack Obama and John McCain working very hard to reach out to those undecided voters, those voters who are still on the fence.

Now, as you mention, we are at church this morning at the First Baptist Church here in Richmond. We had a chance to go into the early service which started at 8:30 this morning. And there was a prayer there by someone on the pulpit who was talking about all of the parishioners, how they should follow their faithful duty and vote on Tuesday. But, she also pointed out in that prayer that no matter who wins, that that person, that president will be "a blessing to all nations."

Now, we had a chance to talk to some of the churchgoers as they were arriving for the early service here this morning. They told us a lot of different things, one talking about how he was tired of the campaign, he was tired of all the political ads, especially the negative ads. And another woman talked about what will happen after Election Day. Take a listen.


LOTHIAN: I mean, whoever ends up winning, whether it's John McCain or it's Barack Obama, do you think the nation is going to have to go through some healing?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, pretty much, yeah. They're going to have to do some healing. But I think whoever's elected will, you know -- will (INAUDIBLE) that.


LOTHIAN: I talked to one churchgoer about the power of the Evangelical vote, we know that in 2004, that base, the Evangelicals helped re-elect George Bush. And he pointed out this time around, four years later, Evangelicals are not united like they were in 2004. He said, "we are not all conservatives, some of us think about other things, other social issues." But, the bottom line, he said, "the most important thing for all voters, is the economy" -- T.J.

HOLMES: It absolutely is, still issue No, 1. Dan Lothian again for us, today, in Virginia, we appreciate you.

NGUYEN: All right, so any game changers on the home front as we are getting to the last couple of days to make a difference in this campaign? We're going to talk to the surrogates from these campaigns and find out what they have on their minds. Stay with us.


HOLMES: All right, what's left to be done? Well you see there, we got two days, 8 hours and 26 minutes before the polls close. Is there much left to be done, any more cases to be made? Let's find out from the two camps, if you will surrogates for the two camps.

There's Karen Finney, she's the director of communications for the Democratic National Committee.

Ma'am, good morning to you. Glad you could be here with us.


HOLMES: Well, you tell me this first, why is the race tightening in some of the polls? A lot of the polls we're seeing now in some of the swing states, as well, things seem to be getting a little tighter. How do you explain that?

FINNEY: You know, we see this right down to the end. We always expected the polls would tighten. And that's why we've said all along, you know, we need to work hard right down to Election Day, all day on Election Day to get our voters out there and remind people how important it is to get out and vote.

HOLMES: But, do you at all think any of the, I guess, the themes that McCain has adopted in the past couple of weeks, at least, the whole socialist theme of spreading the wealth and "Joe the plumber," some of those things are starting to resonate and that's why maybe people are taking a second look at Barack Obama.

FINNEY: You know, actually, I don't think. Look, a couple things. One of the things are, we are playing in places Democrats haven't been as strong in previous elections. I mean, West Virginia, Arizona, North Dakota, North Carolina, so it's great to see, you know, us being so competive in a number of these places. So, that's one thing.

I think the other thing is people know the choice that they face in this election between more of the same or change. And I think Barack Obama has been very consistent in when he talks about a tax cut for 95 percent of working people and I think people know that.

HOLMES: Well, tell me about Pennsylvania, if you will. We saw numbers and a lot of people were scratching their heads as to why McCain was in that state and has been in that state so many times, considered the bluest of blue in a lot of a ways. We saw double digit leads. We saw this poll of polls for CNN now has it at seven points. How worried is the Obama camp, the Democratic camp that obvious McCain sees something and thinks he has a good chance there or he wouldn't be spending so much time and energy and money there.

FINNEY: Yeah, well remember that Senator McCain, the map to 270 for Senator McCain has been getting smaller, if you will. Clearly they think they have a shot in Pennsylvania. We feel good about how we're doing in Pennsylvania. But again, if that's why we're telling people you to get out and vote and that's really important, we need your help. But, we feel pretty good about Pennsylvania. We feel good about how we're doing across the board. You know, the polls are kind of tightening and day-to-day, they're going up and down. But we're kind of trying not to pay so much attention to the polls and just let the voters have their say.

HOLMES: All right, last thing here I want to ask you about, ma'am and kind of a, I guess a lot of people say a weird story, strange story, and I guess the timing of the story was a little strange, even David Axelrod with the Obama camp said it raised eyebrows. This story about Obama's aunt, who it turns out, or at least, according to the "AP," has been living here illegally as an illegal immigrant. Do you all think, have any evidence of, would like an investigation of how that information was leaked out? And leaked out now?

FINNEY: Yeah, you know, gosh, I really don't know. But, that's a question that we can look at after the election. Right now, we're really focused on Tuesday and making sure that we elect Barack Obama president.

HOLMES: Well, all right. Well, good way to sum it up there. Karen Finney, again, with the Democratic National Committee. Thank downso much. Good to see you and good luck on election night.

Let's now turn to Danny Diaz. He's become a regular on the show here, with us. There he is.

Good morning to you, again. The other side here, director of communications with the Republican National Committee.

You just heard her talk about, I think you could hear her, we talked about the map getting smaller for John McCain. So, you tell me about the map. Map it out for me. What is the path you all see now to victory?

DANNY DIAZ, RNC COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Well, we're up in Ohio. We're up in Florida. The southwest is closed, amazingly and very, very rapidly.

HOLMES: Now, we have to say, we have different polls too now, and not all of ours, certainly CNN polls show that you're up in the states that you mention.

DIAZ: Well, we have a race that's competitive for John McCain leading in Nevada, New Mexico and Colorado. We show John McCain leads in Ohio and Florida. We show Virginia now closing to margin as well as Pennsylvania, those states will have help deliver the presidency for John McCain. We have over a million volunteers on the ground reaching out to their friends and neighbors. We're make over 20 million contacts in the closing days, volunteer contacts that is. And we are very, very confident that we are going to be able to deliver the presidency on Tuesday.

HOLMES: You're pretty confident that you're be able to -- I know a lot of people are talking about Pennsylvania these days and the time and energy McCain has been spending there. How confident are you you'll be able to pull that one off?

DIAZ: Well, it's going to be tough, but I think we can. We're cautiously optimistic. We've seen the polls there and close very rapidly. I think Mason-Dixon had it near margin of error. So, it's not just what we're seeing, it's other people are seeing. And at the end of the day, the reality is this, what have we learned over the last couple of days? We've learned that Barack Obama wants to raise taxes on people making $120,000 a year or less. We've learned that wants to redistribute the wealth. We've learned that he believes that believes you're selfish if you want to keep your tax dollars and his running mate believes he's ready to be president, he's going to generate a national security threat. I mean, those kind of things now are seeping into the electorates brain and they're digesting that information and they're viewing that John McCain is ready to be president, Barack Obama's not.

HOLMES: And I just asked Karen Finney with the Democrats about that very topic you brought up. I want to ask you about something else. We had Ambassador Andrew Young on this morning and he brought something up and he talked about this race not being about race and talked about Obama, and he is an Obama supporter, but talked about Obama just being a transformational figure. It's not about his race, it's that he is the man that is ready at this time. This is the time that calls for a man like that.

Do you think the Republicans, and specifically McCain campaign, has ever felt they're running against more than a candidate? Running against more than just ideals and running against more than just policies but having to run against, if you will, a movement of some kind, that people think they're running against a transformational figure? So, it's more than just about the issues and the policies.

DIAZ: Keep in mind, movement candidates don't tend to fare very well at the end of the day. The last movement candidate was Karen Finney's boss, Howard Dean and imploded rather quickly. At the end of the day, it's not about a movement, it's about leadership. A presidential contest is so imperative and so paramount to the future of our country, it's comes down to one question: Who is ready to lead? It is impossible to make an argument that Barack Obama is more prepared, more qualified, more experienced or has a track record of demonstrating leadership as compared to John McCain. John McCain's entire life is a testament to leadership. That's what it comes down to, that's the defing characteristic that when voters go in the polling, booth, who is ready to lead? John McCain is. Barack Obama is not. HOLMES: And I want to get you out on this one, because I did ask Karen Finney about it. But the story about Obama's aunt, she's living here illegally. Now some Democrats calling for an investigation of where that leak came from and who -- some funny business here, some eyebrows being raised that somebody put it from the Obama campaign. I'll give you a chance, here. To your knowledge, has anyone on the Republican side or the McCain camp specifically had anything to do with that information being leaked to the "Associated Press?"

DIAZ: Well, this is a family matter. And that's what I know about it and it's something that should be addressed in that fashion. At the end of the day, that's not going to have a bearing on this race. What's going to have a bearing on this race is this, candidate "A" versus candidate "B." candidate "A" in John McCain, wants to keep taxes low, wants to keep spending down. Candidate "B" in Barack Obama wants to spread the wealth, wants to redistribute wealth, is going to raise taxes, is going to kill small businesses. Those are the variables that voters decide on.

HOLMES: I want to make sure. Was that a no?

DIAZ: No. That's a no.

HOLMES: That's a no. OK, I just wanted to make sure I had that clear, there. Danny Diaz, with the Republican National Committee. Sir, it's been a pleasure, I appreciate it. You've been with us and other folks from the other side every weekend, here for the past several weeks. It's good we could get you on and share this stuff with our viewers leading up to Election Day. So really, good to see you and good luck to you on Tuesday night.

DIAZ: Thanks. Good to talk to you.

HOLMES: All right, and of course, CNN has all your bases covered for your election night viewing. And of course, bringing you toe results from across the country. Stay here, Tuesday night Stay here for all the results.

NGUYEN: And speaking of the results weather-wise, we can give that to you right now. Reynolds Wolf is standing by.

Good morning, Reynolds.

WOLF: Good morning, and of course we can bring it to you. Yeah. Enthusiastic as always.


Let's switch gears a little bit. We've been really focusing on the election, it's going to be a tough battle, no question about it. But there was a very tough battle in this area, last night, Betty, in Lubbock.

NGUYEN: God, did you have to (INAUDIBLE). There is no comment at this time.

WOLF: I'll explain this to you.

HOLMES: There you go.

NGUYEN: I'm asking that the press respect my privacy as I'm in mourning right now.

WOLF: Do I see a tear drop in that little graphic? I don't know.

NGUYEN: You know what, it was a good game.

HOLMES: It was a great football game.

NGUYEN: Such a good game.

HOLMES: But it was difficult to work with her this morning, Reynolds.

WOLF: Yeah, no question.

NGUYEN: And, by the way, Auburn lost last night, too. So, I don't know why you're pointing the finger at me.

WOLF: I don't think Auburn is still playing football.

NGUYEN: Oh, you need to stop.

HOLMES: Isn't this crazy, the only one that won, Arkansas won yesterday.

NGUYEN: Yes, that's a little bit crazy.

WOLF: I'm finishing this right now.

NGUYEN: We're done.

WOLF: See you guys later.

NGUYEN: It's over. Thanks for bringing it up, Reynolds. We do appreciate it.

HOLMES: He put your picture next to the score. That's great.

NGUYEN: I think there was a teardrop in that picture, too.

All right, you know, the cultural wars, it is on the ballot in California and here's the issue, same-sex marriage.


HOLMES: All right, let's check the CNN political ticker. And Comedian Chris Rock helping to get out the vote in North Carolina yesterday. There was a sign in there and you could probably tell, he's campaigning, from that sign, for Barack Obama. Another celebrity lending his star power during this election cycle. NGUYEN: And in California we are watching the fight over Proposition 8. The ballot measure would ban same-sex couples from being married in that state. This weekend, San Francisco mayor, Gavin Newsome and some area religious leaders have been out calling for voters to say no.

And check out our political ticker for all the latest campaign news. All you have do is log onto It is your source for all things political.

Speaking of, we've got a big show coming up right here on CNN.

HOLMES: Wolf Blitzer. There's the man. Anytime Wolf is on the air, it's a big show.

NGUYEN: Absolutely.

HOLMES: Wolf, good morning to you, kind sir. Tell us what you got coming up.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN NEWS ANCHOR: You guys are too generous. Thanks very much. We got a three-hour special LATE EDITION coming up, including my interview with Senator Barack Obama. I think you're going to want to see this.

We'll also speak with top supporters of the McCain and Obama campaigns. We'll bring you the latest polls, including our final poll before this election, our final CNN poll we'll assess where the electoral map stands right now with only 48 hours to go until Election Day. Plus, live reports from the campaign trail, insight and analysis from the political team on television. A special LATE EDITION from the CNN ELECTION CENTER here in New York, coming up at the top of the hour.

Guys, this is going to be exciting.

NGUYEN: Absolutely, looking forward to it. Thank you, Wolf.

HOLMES: Thanks, Wolf.

NGUYEN: During a serious political season they do provide the comic relief. We want to go to the top to meet brothers who have made living poking fun at the powers that be.


GREGG SPIRIDELLIS, JIBJAB: The conservative bloggers say we're liberals and the liberal bloggers say we're conservatives and that's how we know we're doing our job right.

NGUYEN (voice over): Brothers Gregg and Evan Spiridellis can laugh now that their company JibJab is a pillar of Internet comedy, but if start the out small in a Brooklyn basement. Gregg, fresh out of business school, introduced the Internet to Evan, animator.

G SPIRIDELLIS: We've got this thing called the Internet which is just wide open and we can build a worldwide audience for the work and that was the naive idea that kicked off JibJab.

NGUYEN: After the dotcom bust, the brothers did everything from publishing children's' books to creating gag gifts. They moved to L.A., but didn't lose sight of their original plan. During the 2004 presidential campaign, they debuted the video "This Land."

G SPIRIDELLIS: We did like 150 thousand views the first day.

NGUYEN: Soon they were getting more than a million hit as day.

EVAN SPIRIDELLIS, JIBJAB: "This land" was truly like the culmination of the original, like, naive dream we had back in '97, '98. Honestly it all comes down to the audience. Without the audience, we wouldn't have a company.

NGUYEN: This July, JibJab released "Time for Some Campaignin'," adding a new twist. Viewers can star themselves in videos just by uploading their pictures on-line.

E SPIRIDELLIS: All of a sudden, it was all over the news when there was a flood of traffic some to the servers. I think we both breathed...

G SPIRIDELLIS: A collective sigh of relief when they said that was great, OK, what's next. You know?


NGUYEN: That's funny. You look good in that disco outfit.

HOLMES: Thank you. I actually have that shirt.

NGUYEN: Just don't wear it out in public. All right, John McCain got in touch with his funny side on "SNL."

HOLMES: Yes, we'll show you one of our favorites that some of folks here picked through, where he talks about his last-minute campaign strategies, which he admits still need a bit of tweaking. Take a listen.


MCCAIN: And here's another bad one, it's called the sad grandpa. That's where I get on TV and go come on, Obama will have plenty of chances to be president, it's my turn.



HOLMES: All right, (INAUDIBLE) campaign appearance last night, but -- or maybe it is. John McCain and his wife, Cindy, making cameos, where else, but on "Saturday Night Live" and of course, comedian Tina Fey had to be there because she is Sarah Palin's twin.

NGUYEN: Absolutely, and in the clip we are about to show you, let me just set it up for you because McCain references Barack Obama's multi-channel primetime ad, well then he goes on to say the McCain campaign can only afford an ad on QVC, so that gets you up to speed, here's the rest.


MCCAIN: Are you someone who likes fine jewelry and also respects a politician who can reach across the aisle? If so, you can't go wrong with McCain fine gold. It commemorates the McCain/Feingold Act and also looks great with eveningwear. Thank you, Cindy.


TINA FEY, COMEDIAN AS SARAH PALIN: And what hockey mom wouldn't want to freshen up her home with Sarah Palin air fresheners? You plug these into the wall when something doesn't quite smell right. Also too, it's good because it remind people about William Ayers.

MCCAIN: Having trouble cutting through a tough piece of pork? Not any more. With John McCain's complete set of pork knives, they cut the pork out.


NGUYEN: I love that, those pork knives. Are you going to order a couple?

WOLF: I'd like to order. I'd like to order a couple of those. I think we all need to, no question abut it.

HOLMES: The fine gold, though. I like that. That's pretty good.

NGUYEN: And Cindy McCain was really into it. She did a nice job.

HOLMES: I watch a lot of QVC, she was right on.

NGUYEN: Do you really?


NGUYEN: All right, well another guy that's been watching a lot lately in this campaign season, of course, Josh Levs and he joins us now.

Josh, you actually made a little guest spot on "D.L. Hughley Breaks the News," yet again, although you're kind of the butt of his jokes, my friend.

LEVS: Yeah, I know, but this is the thing, I'm understanding what's so funny about the Truth Squad, because when they do this...

NGUYEN: Oh, you're just now getting it. We could have told that to you.


LEVS: Like, when people laugh at this, I'm like, oh yeah, we do deserve to be skewered. Let's take a look at it.


D.L. HUGHLEY, COMEDIAN: Let me ask you this.

LEVS: Excuse me, D.L. Hughley, excuse me.

HUGHLEY: Who is that?

LEVS: D.L., I'm josh Levs from CNN's "The Truth Squad."

HUGHLEY: OK, what do you want, Josh?

LEVS: Our job is it keep the reporting on CNN totally honest.

HUGHLEY: No, your job is to bring my show to a screeching halt.

LEVS: Only when you file a completely misleading and erroneous story. Now, in the introduction to this segment, you said that Osama bin Laden is the most hated person in America.


LEVS: Correct. But the man you introduced is not Osama bin Laden, in fact, he is a Jewish actor named David Helofar (ph).

HUGHLEY: Yeah, but we're doing a bit.

LEVS: Well, here at the CNN Center in Atlanta we call that fabricating a source.

HUGHLEY: I'm a comedian.

LEVS: Fabricator.

HUGHLEY: Look, I know where to find you, Josh.

LEVS: Well, great, come down to Atlanta and I'll teach you about the inverted pyramid of journalism and the five W's -- where, when, who, what an why.

HUGHLEY: You know what? You forgetting whooped which is what I'm going to do to you if you interrupt my show again. And I'll tell you when, what, why and what, you got me?

LEVS: Yes, you are being completely honest.

HUGHLEY: I don't need you to tell me that, you little robot. Get off my show.

LEVS: I'm watching you, D.L. Hughley. I am watching you.

HUGHLEY: We'll be right back after this. (END VIDEO CLIP)

LEVS: Oh, man.

NGUYEN: That's good.

LEVS: He's giving it to me as good as you guys have given it to me sometimes.

NGUYEN: You better watch out, he's going to come after you, man.

LEVS: I know. Hey, one of these days he is going to show up in Atlanta and then I'm really in trouble.

NGUYEN: Good stuff. All right, thank you, Josh. And don't forget "D.L. Hughley" airs at 10:00 p.m. on Saturday.

HOLMES: And we're going to see him again. again, tonight at 10:00 Eastern, if you didn't catch it last night, you can catch it tonight.

NGUYEN: And next Saturday. Lots of chances for it. Coming up next, a especially LATE EDITION with Wolf Blitzer on the election. Just two days away.

HOLMES: Yes, Wolf is, Wolf is, forgive the term, he's pretty geeked up about the election. But, this is what he does, this is what he does well and our entire best political team on TV does so well. But he's sitting down with a host of reporters, political strategists, senators, governors get their take on what will happen. Don't miss SPECIAL ELECTION PREVIEW, that's coming up.

And also, he's going to be talking to, he had a sit-down with Barack Obama last week and I know he's going to be playing a lot of that this morning, as well.

Reynolds looks like you wanted to say something.

WOLF: No, you show that shot of Wolf again, he's so excited. He's not even blinking. Just look at him, he just has that Wolf stare. He's ready to rock 'n' roll.

NGUYEN: Awe, that's just a picture of Wolf.

WOLF: Look at him.

HOLMES: I thought about being wolf Blitzer for Halloween.

NGUYEN: You know what, Josh is teasing D.L., D.L.'s going to come after him. Look, I wouldn't want to be the man to messing with Wolf Blitzer. So, y'all are on your own, I don't have your back on that one. Wolf, right here. You know where to find them. Don't miss the show, it's coming up next.

REYNOLDS: We both mark our territory.