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AMERICAN MORNING

Obama Says Time to Close the Deal; The Mac is Back: McCain Hits Seven Key States; Politics and Prayer Before the Election

Aired November 3, 2008 - 06:00   ET

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


JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: But it's a different story on the question of experience. Take a look at this. Seventy-seven percent say McCain has the right experience compared to 50 percent for Obama. Today, Obama hits three battleground states -- Florida, North Carolina and Virginia -- all red states that his campaign is convinced could be turning blue.
CNN' Jim Acosta is following that for us. And, Jim, he had quite a lead in the state of Virginia just about a week, week and a half ago. That's been whittled down some. We're seeing all of these margins tighten particularly in these traditional red states.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Can he close the deal? Where have we heard that before, John?

Barack Obama seems to be on the verge of victory, but he's had trouble landing the knockout punch before, which is why he's reminding voters John McCain is still standing.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA (voice-over): Barack Obama's message, it's closing time.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I need you to make the case. I need you to close the deal. Because the time for change has come, you know it. And we've got a righteous wind at our backs.

ACOSTA: Obama has seen races tighten before. In the primaries he built a commanding lead only to stumble in the last nomination contest, prompting Hillary Clinton to ask then --

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: Why can't he close the deal?

ACOSTA: But even Clinton's most passionate supporters say it's different this time.

JAMES CARVILLE, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: He's just a much better candidate today than he was in April. I have tried to panic, but I can't. Believe me, I've tried everything I can to not go to sleep at night, but it doesn't seem to work. I go to sleep.

ACOSTA: Which may explain this sign of confidence, this Obama fund- raising message offers donors a chance to win a ticket to history, choice seats at his election night celebration. That's presumptuous, say McCain campaign strategists, who see their own path to victory. RICK DAVIS, MCCAIN CAMPAIGN MANAGER: I would say the Southwest and Colorado are really moving into McCain column. We are still very competitive and expect to win Florida, but I think the most important state to watch right now is Pennsylvania.

ACOSTA: Both sides are laying it on the line. The GOP's new robocall features a dated speech from Senator Clinton.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: In the White House, there is no time for speeches and on-the-job training.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: Obama's new ad includes a rarely seen Dick Cheney.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, CAMPAIGN AD)

DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm delighted to support John McCain and I'm pleased that he's chosen a running mate with executive talent, toughness and common sense.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: These last-minute appeals aimed at undecided voters who could make the difference.

BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: One thing we know about the undecided voters, they're almost all white. There are very few African-Americans who are undecided. Well, overall, white voters tend to favor John McCain.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA: And no Democrat since Jimmy Carter has gotten more than 50.1 percent of the vote. And you have to go back to 1964 to find the last Democratic presidential landslide. So Barack Obama is not just running against John McCain, he's running against history.

ROBERTS: And, of course, Barack Obama has been trying to run against John McCain, George Bush and Dick Cheney...

ACOSTA: Right.

ROBERTS: ... and that statement from the vice president seemed to help his case just a little bit there. What is he doing out?

ACOSTA: What in the world is Dick Cheney doing out on the campaign trail? This was an event for Wyoming Republicans in his home state of Wyoming, and he happened to mention John McCain during that speech and there happened to be a TV camera there. And Barack Obama, lo and behold, put it in a TV ad. Imagine that?

If you wanted any more evidence that the McCain campaign and the White House are not working hand in hand on this election strategy for John McCain, there's one example right there.

ROBERTS: Did anybody tell the vice president that it's just a point or two in Montana? It's a toss-up state now.

ACOSTA: The Mountain West is critical.

ROBERTS: Yes. Right. Jim Acosta, good report. Thanks for that this morning.

ACOSTA: You bet.

KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: Well, in these final hours, John McCain making a massive push as we've been talking about, hitting seven key states, trying to steal the deal with undecided voters. Now he wakes up in Florida. It's, of course, a tossup. And it's on to Tennessee. It's a state leaning his way, but he'll also be trying to target voters right across the border in southwest Virginia. Virginia crucial as we've talked about.

Also next north to Pennsylvania, that state leaning Obama, has not gone to a Republican in the past two elections. After that McCain moves to the toss-up of Indiana. The senator then jets west to New Mexico. That's a state leaning Obama. There you see it.

Then he'll hit the ground in Nevada. It's a state also leaning Obama. And then just after midnight, McCain will hold a rally in his home state of Arizona, a state, of course, leaning his way. And at each stop, McCain likely to drive home the point that he may be down but he's not out.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: America faces a big choice and there's just one day left. Pundits have written us off just like they've done before and my opponent is measuring the drapes in the White House. They may not know it, but the Mac is back!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: CNN's Ed Henry is in Florida. That's where John McCain starts the day. As we said, collectively between the two candidates, they're making 22 stops in 13 different states today. And for McCain it's a seven-state tour. What's he hoping to accomplish?

ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's sort of a two- prong strategy. Kiran, good morning. Bottom line is John McCain first has to do what Jim was talking about.

He's got to hold those red states, the states that George W. Bush carried, like Virginia, like Florida here. Also Ohio, where his running mate Sarah Palin will be today. She's also hitting about five battleground states today. So between them, a dozen states.

He's got to first of all, hold those states in his column and his aides think that McCain then could get to about 260 electoral votes. He'd be within ten of the magic number of 270. And then the second part of that strategy, win Pennsylvania. Those 21 electoral votes are critical. He was in Pennsylvania on Saturday, Sunday, as you mentioned. He's going back yet again today.

Some caveats, though. First of all, he is still behind in Pennsylvania. He's been consistently behind. And secondly, a lot of those red states as you mentioned right now, are leaning Obama. So the bottom line is for McCain to sort of pull this out. He literally has to run the table. There's no margin for error. If he starts losing some of those red states, he just can't get to 270, Kiran.

CHETRY: Yes, you're right. You know, the other interesting thing about Pennsylvania is they seem to be putting this big push on Pennsylvania. There's a new ad out there by the Republicans, bringing up Reverend Wright, something that McCain himself said he wasn't going to do. And they're really trying to hammer home Pennsylvania. What are his real chances there?

HENRY: Well, what they're trying to do there with the Reverend Wright ad is the McCain camp wants to stay out of it and let the state party handle it and go after the Reverend Wright issue, maybe soften up Barack Obama. And the McCain camp says, look, we're not the referee in this race. We're not doing it ourselves, but other Republicans may do it.

They still have a lot of hope there. They think that this is a single digit, maybe three or four points in Pennsylvania and that they can come back today by getting John McCain into that state and get the turnout.

The other thing they're looking at is the Mountain West, as you've been talking about as well. John McCain on Election Day, instead of just sitting in Arizona, he's actually going to go to Colorado and New Mexico, that's rare. Two more stops on Tuesday. The bottom line there is he's trying to counteract a real offensive in the Mountain West by Barack Obama, Kiran.

CHETRY: Yes, very interesting. Neither candidate just sitting it out in their home state and waiting for the results, right? Boy, they're putting on this push. Thanks so much, Ed.

ROBERTS: The Obama campaign looking confident and trying to lock it up. They are ahead in the polls and electoral vote count, but just how accurate are those numbers? Our political panel is standing by with some opinions on that.

Politics and prayer. We talk with church goers in Virginia about the election and the potential for healing after the historic vote.

Seven minutes now after the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Everybody's got a smile on their faces. You start thinking that maybe we might be able to win an election on November 4th.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: Welcome back to the "Most Politics in the Morning."

Barack Obama expressing confidence in the last 24 hours of the campaign. And CNN has the Illinois senator now leading in states with 291 electoral votes. A look at the map right there; 270 needed to win. Of course, these are still estimates, but can we trust these numbers?

Well, our ace political panel joins me now here in the studio. We have Republican strategist Ed Rollins. We have Democratic strategist Julie Menin. We have "Politico.com contributor and registered independent John Avlon. And we also welcome Angela Burt-Murray, the editor and chief of "Essence."

Thanks to all of you for being with us.

All right. So, John, I want to ask you about this challenge that John McCain has on his hands right now. In terms of when you look at the electoral map and the estimates, it's not looking good for him, but he does have a chance in some of these places that also went for Bush in 2004. But he's hoping that he can possibly steal Pennsylvania out of the blue column. Is "Joe the Plumber" resonating?

JOHN AVLON, DIR. OF SPEECHWRITING, GIULIANI PRES. CAMPAIGN: You know, I think the McCain campaign hopes he is. I mean, McCain's got to run the table on Tuesday night to really stay in this.

CHETRY: Right.

AVLON: Or flip Pennsylvania. There's some sense -- you know, independents, in particular, fiscal conservatives I think "Joe the Plumber" is resonating with them to some extent. I also think McCain's argument about running against unified control of Congress, the excesses of a liberal super majority, that's resonating with independents as well. But he's got a lot of ground to make up. He's running uphill. He's got to run the table or this is over.

CHETRY: Angela, I want to ask you about the reverse Bradley effect. We're talking about the Bradley effect. People saying they're going to vote for a black candidate, and then in the polling booth, they don't. They go the other way.

There is a couple of interesting articles, one in the "L.A. Times" in particular. They're saying there almost could be a reverse Bradley effect where people say, you know, now is the time. I'm going in there to cast a ballot, not only because I believe in Barack Obama, but because he's black. These are white voters. Do you buy into that?

ANGELA BURT-MURRAY, EDITOR IN CHIEF, "ESSENCE": Well, I think there's a couple of things going on. When you look at the polls, you certainly have the youth vote underrepresented. These are people that don't necessarily participate in the traditional polling process. So I don't think we're getting an accurate count of what the youth vote is going to do tomorrow. And also African-Americans are turning out in unprecedented numbers and I think you do have a lot of white voters that are starting to see the strategy that the Obama campaign has instituted, and is going to take a serious look at it and perhaps cast that vote.

CHETRY: You brought up youth voters. And, Julie, I want to ask you because as you've looked at this early voter turnout it seems to be favoring the Democrats. We are also hearing anecdotally, in fact, and thousands of phone calls to our own voter hotline that the long lines are really proving to be troublesome for some people. Are there concerns that people may -- people who don't traditionally vote may say, you know what, I'm just -- I'm not really willing to wait in line for five hours?

JULIE MENIN, NEW YORK DEMOCRAT: You know, that's a very, very big concern. We certainly saw it in 2000. We saw it in 2004, since Congress passed the Help America Vote Act to help the states get new voting equipment. But even in the primaries, for example, we saw in New Jersey that 60 e-mail machines went down and had discrepancies.

That's a big concern, and if we see that in a number of states, that could have an effect on the outcome. But the bottom line is there have been 159 national polls in the last six weeks. All of them have put Obama ahead anywhere from two to 15 percent. So the polls have really remained fairly steady.

CHETRY: And, Ed, that's what I want to ask you about. Now Tucker Bounds who's McCain's campaign spokesman said that Democrats have done a good job with these early voting states in the polls. But he said that this early voting is not really part of their effort, that's not really part of their get out the vote effort. Why not?

ED ROLLINS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Because they have a bad strategy obviously.

CHETRY: Why would they not try against some of these votes sealed in instead of moving it to chance on Tuesday?

ROLLINS: Tucker's job is to sell McCain, to sell the merits of the campaign moving forward. My job I assume is to analyze even though my heart is with John McCain, and I'll vote for John McCain.

We have always won the early efforts. We've always had to get out the vote effort. We've always had more money. We've always had that organization.

The Democrats have beat us at our own game and beat us more severely than we ever dreamed possible. They've gone out. They have an intensity among their voter groups.

This is a polarized election. I think people feel a real part of this process, and I think people are willing to stand in line whether it's a week ago or two weeks ago or tomorrow. And I think voters are going to vote. MENIN: Well, I think of it as exactly right. And I think what's happened here is Howard Dean's strategy from a couple of years ago, the 50-state strategy, which many Democrats derided initially has actually proven to be a very effective strategy, and we see what the Obama campaign has done with micro-targeting...

CHETRY: Right.

MENIN: ... use of the Republican strategies. Now Democrats are taking them as their own and they have a great ground operation.

AVLON: You know, and by comparison, the Republicans look like the party of the telegraph in this election. They are not as tech savvy. They're not focusing on getting out the vote as much. And on the ground game, in addition to all the momentum that Obama has got, the ground game could prove really decisive.

CHETRY: And I want to ask you about that, Angela, quickly before we go. There were a few people on the campaign saying we have these ambassadors in every city. We don't even have to ask them. They're going to door to door. They're saying you're coming with me, and we're all going to go vote.

BURT-MURRAY: Right.

CHETRY: So it's a much more organic situation. Is that just because of intensity over the candidate?

BURT-MURRAY: I think there is certainly a lot of passion out there right now for the Obama campaign, but there are also significant challenges that they're facing. I was in Virginia over the weekend and there was talk about enrichment that there were flyers being disseminated in urban communities saying get out the vote on November 5th. So there's a lot of, you know, strategies going on out there.

We're concerned about, you know, having the appropriate number of machines, reliable machines. Again, the long line, and you're talking about, you know, people who not necessarily don't want to stand in line for five hours, but can't afford to stand in line for five hours, but can't afford to stand in line for five hours.

CHETRY: Right.

BURT-MURRAY: Because if they don't go to work, they don't get paid.

CHETRY: I hear you.

BURT-MURRAY: So these are very real issues for people.

CHETRY: All right. We're going to talk much more about this with our panel when you guys join us again in a little while.

Thanks to all of you, Ed Rollins, Julie Menin, John Avlon and Angela Burt-Murray.

ROBERTS: Election Day prayer. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Lord, we pray that our next president would be a man after God's heart and one that leads America to be a blessing to all nations.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: A message of hope and healing on the last Sunday before voters head to the polls.

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: Welcome back to the "Most Politics in the Morning." And right now, it is a battleground blitz for John McCain and Barack Obama as they make one final push for votes that could swing the election.

Obama has the edge in some all-important battleground states. He leads by seven points in Pennsylvania. He's up by four in Florida and ahead by six points in Virginia, where the race has been tightening in recent days.

CNN's Dan Lothian got the good word on the election from parishioners at a church in Richmond.

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN BOSTON BUREAU CHIEF: John, Kiran, on the last Sunday before Election Day, we went to church. The message was about worship, not politics, but church goers had plenty to say about this historic election.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LOTHIAN (voice-over): At the First Baptist in Richmond --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We want to be faithful to our deity to vote and regardless of who we may be voting for.

LOTHIAN: A nonpartisan Election Day prayer.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Lord, we pray that our next president would be a man after God's heart and one that leads America to be a blessing to all nations.

LOTHIAN: This evangelical church has been around since 1780 and has a healthy mix of Republicans and Democrats and as one churchgoer points out, is reflective of a group no longer singing from the same book.

ISAM BALLENGER, FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH PARISHIONER: I mean, evangelicals are quite divided now and you have some evangelicals who consider the environment important and social needs important. It's not as much a bloc as it was earlier.

LOTHIAN: These worshippers didn't come to church to talk politics but with Election Day almost here, it's what a lot of people are thinking about. Some have been energized by the presidential race. Most are ready for a break.

VICKIE NICOLAU, FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH PARISHIONER: I'm very happy that it's coming to an end. It seems like it's been going on for such a long time.

LOTHIAN: It has and Bob Higgins says he's ready to see all those political ads fade to black.

BOB HIGGINS, FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH PARISHIONER: They pretty much cut the sound off because of the commercials that just keep coming at us, and especially a part of those that have a negative approach. I just don't like it. We're tired of it.

LOTHIAN: Some parishioners say the country is in need of healing after such a negative campaign.

JANIE SMITH, FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH PARISHIONER: Both sides have been very intense. And I think for unity, that's the main thing, to come together.

LOTHIAN: A lesson often taught in church.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm a true believer and things happen the way they should, so whoever wins, that's the way it's supposed to be.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LOTHIAN: These evangelicals say they haven't abandoned their core values but like all Americans are thinking about the bad economy, health care, and energy problems as they head to the polls -- John, Kiran.

ROBERTS: Dan Lothian reporting for us this morning from Richmond. Dan, thanks so much.

And as we roar into Election Day, CNN is the place for news from the battleground states. They could decide the election, and we have an army, look at that. That is an army of reporters on the ground covering the big issues.

And if you see any voting irregularities, we'd like to know about it. Call 1-877-GOCNN-08. To report any problems, that's 1-877-462-6608.

CHETRY: Well, it's certainly an uphill battle but John McCain is not giving up the fight in Pennsylvania. Can he turn this blue state red? We're joined by a Philadelphia radio host who tells us what listeners are saying about McCain's chances in the Keystone State.

And it is the number one issue driving the election, the economy. Both candidates offering a lot of promises but can they really deliver once in office? We'll find out.

Twenty-two minutes after the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Now let me give you a little straight talk about the state of the race today. There's just two days left.

We're a couple of points behind in Pennsylvania. The pundits have written us off just like they've done before. My friends, the Mac is back.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: Yes, the Mac is back and back and back, making ten visits to Pennsylvania just in the last two weeks alone.

Welcome back to the "Most Politics in the Morning." He is going to be back in Pennsylvania again today as well as part of his seven-state battleground blitz on this final day before voting. And the McCain campaign thinks that Pennsylvania could actually turn the election in his favor.

Let's look though at the latest poll of polls. It shows that John McCain trails Barack Obama by seven points, 51 percent to 44 percent in the state of Pennsylvania.

E. Steven Collins is a radio talk show host at WRNB in Philadelphia, an Obama supporter. He joins us now from his Philadelphia studio. Thanks for being with us this morning.

E. STEVEN COLLINS, OBAMA SUPPORTER: Thank you. It's good to be with you.

CHETRY: What do you think of the fact that you're an Obama supporter and his competitor is staking a win on turning your state red? What do you think the chances are?

COLLINS: Well, we have a 1.2 million registered voter Democratic lead in the state of Pennsylvania. We have Ed Rendell, our governor, who's quarterbacking this as he did for Hillary Clinton, Senator Clinton, and we have momentum. Philly's won and we all think because of all of that we're ready to celebrate a great victory on Tuesday night.

But the reality here really is will people who are record numbered registered to vote really get an opportunity to have their vote count? I think that's a major concern.

The governor was on our show yesterday morning. We asked him about, is the state of Pennsylvania, probably more specifically Philadelphia, Montgomery, Delaware County and Bucks County, the surrounding critical counties, prepared to handle the number of people who have registered because it's off the hook in terms of the numbers? There's a concern.

CHETRY: Right. And you know that's the interesting thing that you're -- that's an interesting thing that you're bringing up because we're talking about this whole notion of the fact that people have taken advantage of early voting in the states that are offering it. You're seeing lines, people willing to wait four to nine hours in some cases. Knowing how many new voters signed up and registered for this year, did they do enough, do you think, to make sure they're accommodated on Election Day? What are your listeners saying?

COLLINS: They are -- that was the number one concern we had yesterday on the air. Most people are talking about, will they be able to get in, get their vote registered and will their vote count?

I can tell you that the Barack Obama people throughout our region here, I live in Montgomery County, which is just outside of Philadelphia, and they're knocking on doors. I woke up to a big thing. I brought a little -- they have these on doors all over Philly, all over Montgomery County, all over the state. They're knocking on doors, they're calling, they're alerting people to be prepared for long lines.

I put a challenge out yesterday asking voters to meet me at the polling places here in Philadelphia. A half hour before they open at 6:30, we're going to be there waiting. The governor later today and our mayor, Mike Nutter, are going to hold a news conference in Philadelphia to say to voters in our region, get to the polling places between 9:00 and 3:00 when most people are at work, giving them an opportunity, the seniors in particular, who always show up to vote...

CHETRY: Right.

COLLINS: ... to get their vote in and counted before the crush of the afternoon rush.

CHETRY: I want to ask you about this, because as Pennsylvania has shifted and turned into this real battleground in terms of John McCain thinking he can maybe have a chance there, we've been hearing these new calls that are coming out. Robocalls of Hillary Clinton saying that John McCain had more experience, but also the Republican Party in Pennsylvania releasing an ad saying that people should think twice because of Senator Barack Obama's relationship with the Reverend Jeremiah Wright. Potentially, could this keep some voters from the polls or sway people not to vote for Barack Obama?

COLLINS: I think there's going to be some of that. I think a lot of our callers talked about Sarah Palin and what their perception is that she lacks experience. They don't really take her as a serious candidate. They look at the intellectual superiority or perceived intellectual superiority of Barack Obama over Senator McCain.

They're looking at all these. In the African-American community nationwide though, most people have already made their choice.

CHETRY: Right.

COLLINS: The undecideds, as you said earlier, are largely white voters. And a lot of people, forgetting race right now, are looking at the economy and many people believe Barack Obama, as he's laid out a really thoughtful plan, has a better plan for this country. So we're going see on Election Day this reverse Bradley effect, for example, is an issue that we're curious about where it's unpopular to say, for example, they're supporting Senator Obama but will do so on Election Day.

Our state is a unique state. We believe that in this region, that is Philly and the surrounding counties and Allegheny County with Pittsburgh, could offset whatever else happens here and give Senator Obama the 21 electoral votes that are part of our state.

CHETRY: All right. Well, we want to thank you for joining us this morning.

E. Steven Collins, radio talk show host in Philadelphia, thanks.

COLLINS: Thank you.

ROBERTS: Well, it is 30 minutes after the hour now and a check of the top stories happening right now for you.

We are seeing massive early voting turnout in the 31 states that have it. Already 23 million votes have been cast, of those who have declared a party affiliation. The Democrats outnumber the Republicans by more than 15 percent. Although, it's unknown who voted for which candidate.

Gasoline prices dropping 2 cents a galloon overnight. According to AAA, the national average for a galloon of regular is now $2.41. It's the 47th consecutive decrease in the past month. Gas prices have plunged more than $1.10. Who thought that it ever would have gone below three bucks a gallon?

See what happens when you throw the economy in the toilet? Gas prices go down.

And a new study suggests teen pregnancy rates are much higher among teenagers who watch a lot of television with sexual dialogue and behavior. Researchers say pregnancies among teenagers who've watch those shows regularly were twice as common compared to teens who rarely saw them. It is the first study to link viewing habits with teen pregnancy.

Well, back to the "Most Politics in the Morning" now. With less than 24 hours until the polls open, it's make or break time. And the latest CNN Poll of Polls is not in John McCain's favor. He trails by 7 points. As for the economy, it is more important than ever. 57 percent of voter say it is their number one issue. That's up from earlier this year. And on the trail, the near constant focus is your money.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The last thing we can afford is four more years of the same old, tired, stale, worn out, thread bare theories that say we should give more and more money to billionaires and millionaires and big corporations, and hope that prosperity trickles down on everybody else.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Ronald Reagan used to say that if you're going increase the size of government, sooner or later you're going to increase taxes. And that is not something Americans can do today. We cannot raise anybody's taxes in a bad economy. And that's what my opponent wants to do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: Of course, both of the candidates are promising tax cuts, just depends on who they go to. CNN's Christine Romans with us now with a lock at both of those promises.

Good morning to you.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: John, John McCain or Barack Obama, whoever wins on Tuesday, may have a hard time keeping all those campaign pledges.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS (voice-over): Promises, promises.

MCCAIN: To hold the line on taxes.

OBAMA: No taxes.

MCCAIN: Health care.

OBAMA: Universal health care.

MCCAIN: Cut the capital gains tax.

OBAMA: We'll eliminate capital gains taxes.

ROMANS: If the next president keeps his promises, he'll blow an even bigger hole in the country's already shaky finances.

ROBERT BIXBY, CONCORD COALITION: Either one of them will have to scale back on some of the promises that they're making now. Either McCain would have to give up on some of his tax cut proposals or Obama would have to give up on some of his major spending initiatives?

ROMANS: Why? The government is already spending dramatically more money than it takes in -- $454 billion more in fiscal 2008. And that's before the federal government's bailout of Wall Street and major banks. The next president inherits a budget deficit next year forecast to exceed $700 billion. And you don't hear much on the trail about the staggering national debt.

(on camera): The national debt now tops $10 trillion. Think of it. That's the money the government has already spent that it doesn't have. That's real money. And taxpayers are on the hook for it.

JEANNE SAHADI, CNN MONEY: The job they're inheriting in January is very different than the job that they initially signed up for because of the financial meltdown.

ROMANS (voice-over): A meltdown still unfolding, yet both candidates stick by their ambitious campaign promises. DANIEL CLIFTON, STRATEGAS RESEARCH PARTNERS: On the campaign trail, the goal of candidates is to promise lots of goodies but not talk about the pains.

ROMANS: Many budget experts agree, this is hardly the time for hand ringing about the country's record debt. This financial crisis so severe, deficit spending is critical for the short run.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS: Many economists are now urging the next president to work with Congress quickly for another economic stimulus that will cost tens of billions more. It's not hard to foresee a budget deficit topping trillion dollars next year when you already start adding all this up. Depending on how much the economy slows and how badly that hurts government revenue. No doubt, the next president has the biggest financial challenge since Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

ROBERTS: Trillion dollars is getting up to about six percent of GDP. And that is a big number.

ROMANS: $300 billion is a big number, which is what I have been running so far. But when you look in the context of a $14 trillion economy, you can start to say we can -- you know, we can finance that. When you're starting to talk about a trillion plus, it makes people very, very nervous, John.

ROBERTS: Certainly does. Christine, thanks so much for that.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

CHETRY: This historic presidential campaign in its final day. Both candidates on the stump and staying on message, but what could go wrong in these final hours, if anything? Our political panel is standing by.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They always look over, and then they think it's a joke. They're like ah, whatever. And then, I'm going to be like, no for real.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: The man who gets to bend Obama's ear. A look inside the Chicago barbershop where Obama has been getting his hair cut for the past two decades.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: McCain, he came on TV one day, and he said, could we please change the station.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: You're watching the "Most News in the Morning." (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHETRY: Well, we're just one day away from the election, if you can believe it. And we've dispatched our next generation of reporters out on the trail. They're journalists that we put all across the country with a backpack full of high-tech gear. It lets them travel light and then file stories about the hometown that you can see online, on air or even on your mobile phone.

Here's Chris Welch. He's in Chicago, where Barack Obama's barber has become an international celebrity.

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CHRIS WELCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Colleen Paul is a first- time client to the Hyde Park Hair Salon here on Chicago's south side. She wasn't quite sure what to expect. That is until she learned these hands have been in some high-profile hair.

ZARIFF, OBAMA'S BARBER: And I let her know that I was Senator Obama's barber.

WELCH: He calls himself simply Zariff, and he's been trimming Barack Obama's hair for about 14 years.

COLLEEN PAUL, FIRST-TIME CLIENT: I'm going to be very satisfied. I expect to be very satisfied.

WELCH: Zariff doesn't usually brag about it, but it's getting harder to hide. Foreign and domestic TV crews are stopping by all the time and it doesn't help matters that fellow barber Kris Golden gets such a kick out of spilling the beans.

KRIS GOLDEN, BARBER: They always have a funny reaction. They always look over and then they think it's a joke. They're like ah, whatever. And then I'm like, no, for real.

WELCH: Of course the Obama fanatics already know Zariff, and are quick to request the Obama cut.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you say that, you know, (INAUDIBLE), we know what to do.

WELCH: Employees here will tell you Obama is just a regular guy who likes to relax when he stops in, about every nine days.

GOLDEN: He very rarely gets into political talk. The closest thing I've seen to political talk is, is McCain came on TV one day, and he said, could we please change the station. That was about it.

WELCH: And in the very same chair, the White House hopeful usually sits in, Paul is pleased with the outcome.

PAUL: I'm happy.

WELCH: Chris Welch, CNN, Chicago. (END VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERTS: Sharp. Right now, it's an all-out blitz through the states that matter most to the McCain campaign. Rolling at a new robo-call with a familiar Democratic voice on the other end. But will it make the difference. We'll find out. It's 40 minutes now after the hour.

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ROBERTS: 17 minutes now to the top of the hour. On the trail with time running out on both Barack Obama and John McCain hardly turning to solely positive and uplifting closing messages that usually happens at this point in the campaign, instead, they're still pounding away at each other.

Joining me now to talk more about Ed Rollins, Julie Menin, John Avlon and Angela Burt-Murray.

Good to see you all again this morning.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good morning.

ROBERTS: Let's run a little bit of sound from this new robo-call that's out there in Pennsylvania. It features none other than Hillary Clinton talking about Barack Obama's lack of experience. Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VOICE OF UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Listen to what Hillary Clinton had to say about John McCain and the Barack Obama.

(VOICE OF HILLARY CLINTON): In the White House there is no time for speeches and on-the-job training. Senator McCain will bring a lifetime of experience to the campaign and Senator Obama will bring a speech that he gave in 2002.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: So, still, a good percentage of undecided voters out there.

Angela and John, what are they thinking about this robo-call. I mean, obviously, Hillary Clinton is pretty upset about it. Some of these people might have voted for her in the primary.

ANGELA BURT-MURRAY, EDITOR IN CHIEF, ESSENCE: Yes. I mean, it's really too little, too late at this point to come out with this sort of message. They should have tried it much earlier in the campaign. And I think that, you know, we discussed earlier, 60 percent of people hang up on these calls when they get them anyway. So, nobody is really getting the message and having time to digest it. So, I don't think it's going to have an impact.

JOHN AVLON, CONTRIBUTOR, POLITICO.COM: But I don't think the campaigns are getting the message that there is a backlash against negative ads this cycle -- that kind of plated the base tactics. Voters are rejecting. It's very cynical and divisive. And now, there's a desperate, last sending attempt to throw out the Reverend Wright stuff. This kitchen sink stuff has shown that it's actually repelling independents and undecideds.

ROBERTS: You know, Julie, what we're saying that usually at this point in the campaign, it's all like positive message, my closing argument, how I'm going to change the country, not this negative stuff.

JULIE MENIN, DEMOCRATIC ANALYST: I have to say, though, I differ on this one point, on this side. I actually think this ad is ironically effective because it's using Hillary Clinton's own word. It's very different than the Bill Ayers attack, which really was an unfair below-the-belt attack. I think if they had used this ad six weeks ago, it would have really been incredibly effective. And I think if they had used Joe Biden's words as well about Obama, that also would have been effective. But listen, it's a truthful ad. It's not one I agree with, but it is truthful.

ROBERTS: That's why you got to watch what you say on the campaign trail during the primaries.

Ed, I want to talk to you about this latest poll of polls that we got. It shows Barack Obama up by 7 points now. But when you -- we take a look at the break down, and we've broken down the nine polls that make up this poll of polls.

Take a look at this. What a wide range from the CBS News-New York Times Poll, plus 13 on the left, all the way down to the Investor's Business Daily-TIPP Poll. Only, two points away.

I mean, you know these polls. How can there be an 11 points spread.

ED ROLLINS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Because it's what you put into them. The most driving number today. No offense to my dear friend here who is about independence, is the partisan vote -- the Democrat, the Republican vote.

So in 2004, there was a 39 percent self-identified Republican and 39 percent self-identified Democrat. If you're still measuring Republicans at say 37, 35, as I think they are, then your poll basically comes out much closer. If you're doing at a 10 percent or 11 percent as Pew does it, then there's a dramatic difference.

ROBERTS: We just got a few seconds left here. We want to get your pick. So we want to know, who's going to win for president and will the Democrat get to 60 seats in the Senate? I keep on (INAUDIBLE).

ROLLINS: I'm sorry to say as a McCain supporter, but I think Obama is going to win pretty easy. I think they're going to get to 58 or 59.

ROBERTS: All right. Julie?

MENIN: I think Obama is going to win. I think we're talking about 58 seats in the Senate. I think there will be a run-off in Georgia for the Senate seat. And I think in Alaska because of absentee ballots, we're looking at three to four weeks before we know the winner.

ROBERTS: John?

AVLON: Obama, and they don't hit 60, which is a good thing.

ROBERTS: And Angela?

BURT-MURRAY: I think they're going to hit 60, definitely.

ROBERTS: All right. You don't want to make a prediction for the presidential race.

BURT-MURRAY: We'll see what happens tomorrow.

ROBERTS: All right. So, we got one vote for 60. All right, folks, thanks very much. We'll see you again soon.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.

CHETRY: Voting 101. What to do if you get into trouble, Tuesday. A must-see guide to navigating typical problems at the polls. You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."

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CHETRY: Welcome back to the "Most Politics in the Morning." You have questions about the voting process and your ballot. And we, this morning, have answers.

CNN's Carol Costello is here with a voter's guide to the election.

Hey, Carol. How do you find time to write a book in your spare time?

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I know. "The Carol Costello Voter Survival Guide" 1999 on Amazon. Just kidding.

You know, voters across the country are really anxious this year, wondering if their vote will count. They have all sorts of questions. So, we sent our cameras across the country to get voter questions. So let's go out to California right now.

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ASIA, VOTER: Hi, my name is Asia from Los Angeles, California. My question is on the day of the election, if there is an electronic malfunction, will our votes still be count and how will they know who we voted for if there is a glitch in the system?

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COSTELLO: So many people are worried about this, Asia. And I won't lie to you. There have been glitches with electronic machines in early voting. Some of Florida's machines were improperly aligned. They have fixed that now.

Now, if you notice the glitch when you're in that polling booth, of any kind, get the poll worker to help you. That's what they are there for. They should also have a paper receipt of your vote, at least in most states, so that they can check it out.

Now keep this in mind, before there were electronic voting machines, when we punched those cards between 4 million and 6 million votes were lost. Electronic voting, optical scan machine, I should say, have actually made it better. Let's go to the next question.

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TED CALVERT, VOTER: My name is Ted Calvert (ph) from Savannah, Georgia. And my question is, how do I know that my absentee ballot will be counted?

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COSTELLO: A lot of people are worried about absentee ballots. But Ted in many states, including your state, Georgia, have online systems for voters to check the status of their absentee ballot. So, go online to check your absentee ballot. To check if that was recorded, but wait a few days after the election or maybe a few weeks because absentee ballots are among the last votes counted.

One more thing, you absentee ballot must be postmarked November 4th to be legally counted. Otherwise, you're pretty much out of luck. There's a great Web site to go to. It's called vote411lwv.org. Vote411.org. That's the League of Women Voters online service. Go to that site. It will answer every single question you have, including where your polling place is. Because you know what, Kiran, most people have absolutely no idea where their polling station is until maybe an hour before they go to vote. And then they're like calling their neighbor, Harold.

CHETRY: Oh yes. And this year, you should know that type of stuff, as we've talked about those lines, and a real interest in this election. So a lot more people probably than you could expect -- that you've expected in the past.

COSTELLO: Actually, be prepared. Because you don't want to stand four hours in line and discover you're in the wrong place.

CHETRY: Exactly. Carol, thanks so much.

By the way, if you see any voting irregularities, we do want to know about it. Call 877-gocnn-08 to report any problems.

ROBERTS: One-on-one with Anita Hill. What she says an Obama victory could trigger in America.

Plus, before you vote, you need CNN's voter survival guide.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How do I know that my absentee ballot will be counted?

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ROBERTS: You ask.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If there's an electronic malfunction, will our votes still be counted?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: We answer.

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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm definitely worried about it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: Don't worry, just watch the "Most Politics in the Morning."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: Welcome back to the "Most Politics in the Morning." The candidates hustling all over the map today, campaigning in key battleground states. Joining John McCain on the trail in Ohio is former Governor Mitt Romney. He's with us live this morning from Toledo.

Governor, it's good to see you.

GOV. MITT ROMNEY, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thanks, John.

ROBERTS: In 2004, John Kerry won the Toledo area by 20 points, but President Bush won all the caller counties around it. John McCain four points behind statewide. How could he pull off a win in Ohio?

ROMNEY: Well, the Ohio numbers are certainly within the margin of error. The numbers I looked at yesterday from Mason Dixon had him leading in Ohio. For John McCain, it's a win in Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania. And then pick up one of Virginia or New Hampshire, Nevada, New Mexico, Iowa. He's got a path to victory. And, you know, he has surprised a lot of pollsters in the past. Frankly, in my race and Rudy Giuliani's race for primary. John McCain has surprised us, ended up with the prize.

ROBERTS: So, you mentioned there on the route to the White House, the keystone state of Pennsylvania. And it really is a keystone here in this election. He is anywhere from 7 to 11 points behind, depending on which poll you take a look at. Is it possible for him to put Pennsylvania in the win column?

ROMNEY: Absolutely. There's a lot going on these last few days. People are concentrating, frankly, on jobs. Jobs is the big issue in my view, and Barack Obama's plan would cost millions of jobs in this country with higher taxes, fees on employers, not using all of our natural resource for energy such as clean coal, using our nuclear resource, drilling for oil -- these are issues that people in Pennsylvania care about. I think that's why John McCain makes inroads there.

ROBERTS: But at the same time, governor, in a fund-raising e-mail that you put out there under your name for Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, who is in a very tight race there, you acknowledge the likelihood of an Obama presidency. How likely in your mind is it?

ROMNEY: Actually, the word I used was the possibility. And I don't think that's much of a stretch. Of course it's possible that Barack Obama would win. But I think the idea of Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid as the gang of three, if you will, running the country without the effect of a check and balance in a Democratic system is really kind of frightening.

I think one of the things they do and insisted they do very quietly is to impose unionization on small businesses. That would be devastating to jobs in this country. So, for those who care about jobs, I think John McCain has a much stronger platform -- keeping taxes down, investing in new technologies.

ROBERTS: I mean, when you talk about this imposition of unions, you're talking about the union vote plan that's before the Senate?

ROMNEY: Yes. It's imposing --

ROBERTS: Because that would not impose the union. That would just allow unions to be formed without a secret ballot.

ROMNEY: Well, it imposes unions through intimidation by saying, you know what, workers in America are no longer going to have a choice through a secret ballot of deciding if they want a union or not. Instead, there's going to be the opportunity for intimidation being used and no secret ballot. It's an extraordinary thing. You would unionize small business in this country and set us back competitively, well, for a long, long time.

ROBERTS: Well, certainly, the other side has got a completely different view of that. But let me ask you this question, because we had an interesting CNN-Time Opinion Research Corporation Poll out here on running mates. And it found that with the vice presidential running mate included, Barack Obama leads John McCain 53 percent to 46 percent. If you take out the vice presidential running mate in consideration, it's only 4 points. Obama ahead of McCain, 52 to 48.

I have run into an awful lot of Republicans, governor, who have said if you were the running mate on the ticket, they would be voting for John McCain, but they're not now because of his choice. Would you have made a better choice here for those Republicans who are either sitting on the fence or thinking of going the other way?

ROMNEY: You know, if you've been out to the rallies like I have, you would recognize that what Sarah Palin has done is really excite the base of our party, and the people in our base are the ones who make the phone call, who get their neighbors to go to the polls, who convince their friends -- (CROSSTALK)

ROBERTS: But it's -- but it's the independents that may make the difference here.

ROMNEY: Well, those volunteers are encouraging people to get out and vote, and convincing independents what's the right way to go. I think Sarah Palin has brought enthusiasm and excitement to this ticket. She was the choice that John McCain felt was most consistent with his values. And frankly, she's got the experience as a mayor and as a governor that I think this team needs.

ROBERTS: Governor, just 20 seconds left here. You've got an awful lot of good will in the Republican Party now for supporting John McCain. All the down-ticket candidates, are you going to be back in 2012 if he loses?

ROMNEY: No. Actually, John McCain is going to get elected, then he's going to run for re-election. And we're all focused on getting that job done tonight. I think it's going to be a long, cold night for those people standing outside in Chicago tomorrow night.

ROBERTS: That sounds exactly like something a running mate would say. Governor, it's good to talk to you. Thanks very much.

ROMNEY: Thank you, John.

CHETRY: All right. Well, happening right now, the clock is winding down. Just one day to go until voters choose the country's future. And new poll numbers are offering a snapshot of where the race stands. Our latest poll of polls gives Barack Obama 51 percent to John McCain's 44 percent. 5 percent still saying they're unsure.

Gas prices dropping another 2 cents overnight. According to AAA, the national average for a gallon of regular is now $2.41. It's the 47th consecutive decrease in the past month. Gas prices have plunged more than $1.10.

And fresh information for voters. We're waiting on new job numbers this morning as the economy drives people to the polls in record numbers. Dow futures are pointing higher right now, slightly. Stocks also rallied big time last week to take the edge of one of worst months in history.

John?

ROBERTS: One day now until Election Day, which means there is just one more day for John McCain and Barack Obama to make their cases to voters. And in the final hours it's all about confidence.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Everybody has got a smile on their face.