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Ballot Bowl 2008

Candidates Make Appearances, Talk Economic Crisis

Aired October 04, 2008 - 15:00   ET


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN CENTER: Hello, I'm Fredricka Whitfield at the CNN Headquarters in Atlanta. More BALLOT BOWL in a moment, but first, these top stories.
A Nevada jury convicts O.J. Simpson and his co-defendant on a dozen charges related to armed robbery of two sports memorabilia dealers last year. The verdict came 13 years to the day after a jury cleared the former football star of murdering his ex-wife and her friend. Simpson could get life in prison; sentencing is scheduled for early December.

Just in to CNN, we have word from the "Associated Press" that a U.S. military helicopter has crashed in Baghdad. No word on any injuries. We're checking it out and we'll bring you more information as we get it.

Meantime, the U.S. military says it has killed the alleged mastermind behind a series of deadly bombings in Iraq. The spokesman says he died in a firefight yesterday in Baghdad.


ACOSTA: So there you have it. Barack Obama talking tough on the issue of health care. As I toss back to my colleague, Ed Henry I should let you know that we've just heard from our producer on the ground with the Obama campaign, Mike Rucelli (ph), who says that Barack Obama will be issuing a statement shortly on these comments that are being made by Sarah Palin, I assume, out there in California where you are, so the rhetoric is getting ratcheted up this week out on the campaign trail. It was a dignified discussion between Joe Biden and Sarah Palin Thursday night. But it is getting rough out there as these developments come in.

HENRY: That's right. What's interesting, to give our viewers a little context is that my understanding is that Sarah Palin sort of previewed the comments she'll make here in California shortly, in Colorado this morning. And she was specifically going after Barack Obama and talking about his, quote, unquote, friends from Chicago. Referring to a front- page story in this mornings "The New York Times," an issue that has come up before. Bill Aires, a radical from Chicago, his ties to Barack Obama, alleged ties, if you will, have come up before in this campaign.

Obviously the fact that Sarah Palin is starting to raise them suggest that the McCain/Palin ticket wants to start getting tough, taking the gloves off, as they're saying on the McCain side of things. Obviously, as you're reporting, Barack Obama's campaign, they saw what happened to John Kerry in 2004 when various allegations came up, if you don't act swiftly, the story is going to start sticking. They want to push back aggressively.

The other big issue out there the substance issue that has really been dominating the debate rather than the personal attacks back and forth has been issues number one, the economy for the American people. I was with John McCain yesterday in Pueblo, Colorado, where he talked about this deep financial crises, he talked about the stakes being high for the nation but also the stakes high for his campaign.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Most of you until a short time ago had never heard the words Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. You probably didn't even know who they were. But the fact is, that's where this began. And two years ago, I said we've got to fix what they're doing. Their practices are dangerous to America's economy and our future and I pushed for legislation to help bring about the fixes.

And, my friends, it was the Democrats and some Republicans in the Congress that pushed back and didn't allow those reforms to take place. And that's a major reason why we're in the trouble we're in today. And those members of Congress ought to be held accountable on November 4th as well. So we've got to fix the problem. There's a vote going on right now in the House of Representatives that will be an unprecedented rescue plan.

As much as a trillion dollars as you know. But it's got to help Main Street; it's got to help people stay in their jobs. Right now, there are people in this room that are having trouble getting a loan. There are small business people that are having trouble getting a line of credit so that they can stay in business. There's a woman nodding her head right there. We know them and we've got to fix this problem and it's our obligation.

I am a proud conservative. I am a proud opponent of waste and pork barrel spending. I am proud, but I also have to tell you, the government has to step in at this time and save Main Street from the disaster and the challenges that's looming. I'm hopeful we get this legislation passed, we restore credit and we restore people's lives to a large degree. But I have to give you some straight talk. This is a tourniquet, it's not a cure. We've got to reform the way we do business in Washington and it's not to be reformed now and we have to fix it and we will fix it.


HENRY: The stakes high for the nation in the financial crisis but also very high for John McCain's campaign. We've seen Barack Obama over the last week or so picking up steam in some of these key battlegrounds, including Colorado where John McCain was yesterday in Pueblo. The latest CNN opinion research poll showing Barack Obama actually inched ahead in Colorado, a state Republicans have owned for several presidential elections.

The day before, was quite interesting, the night before Thursday evening in Denver, Colorado, I was there as well when John McCain was holding a town hall meeting with female voters. And one woman stood up and asked him a tough question and the reaction from the crowd was quite interesting. Take a listen.


(UNIDENTIFED FEMALE): When are you going to take the gloves off and just go at him? [Applause]



HENRY: Tuesday night, obviously a reference from John McCain to the second presidential debate coming up this week in Nashville, Tennessee. They've already had their first debate. We've had the first and only vice presidential debate. But as I bring in my colleague Jim Acosta, what I found really interesting being in that room it was the loudest ovation of the night for that town hall meeting for John McCain. You can tell the reaction from the other women in that crowd, they clearly agreed with the woman who asked the question.

They think John McCain hasn't been tough enough, has not been going after Barack Obama aggressively enough. As we hear today as it develops, here at this rally in California, Sarah Palin, according to her advisers, is going to take the gloves off on Barack Obama, start getting tougher as a surrogate for John McCain. That really sets up this debate Tuesday night on CNN, Jim. This could be a lot more raucous than the first one where John McCain and Barack Obama were shadowboxing. It's going to get a little tougher.

ACOSTA: That's right. When I talked to David Axelrod, they said they clearly expect this. They are seizing on a comment that was made in the "Washington Post" this morning by a McCain spokesman who said they'd like to turn the page away from the economy and get to some of these character issues and according David Axelrod, how can you turn the page from the economy one day after this massive bailout package was passed?

Axelrod says Barack Obama will be ready for this. You heard John McCain say, how about Tuesday night? How about this weekend? It sounds as if the gloves are coming off this weekend as we prepare for Tuesday night. They are not waiting. Stick with us, coming up on BALLOT BOWL on CNN, we'll get to our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider, who will look at some of the battleground states and sneak in a question about some of the pitfalls of going this negative. That's coming up after a break. This is BALLOT BOWL on CNN.



SARAH PALIN, (R) VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Your plan is a white flag of surrender in Iraq, and that is not what our troops need to hear today, that's for sure. And it's not what our nation needs to be able to count on. You guys opposed the surge. Barack Obama still can't admit the surge worked. We'll know when we're finished in Iraq, when the Iraqi government can govern its people and when the Iraqi security forces can secure its people and our commanders on the ground will tell us when those conditions have been met. And Maliki and the Taliban also in working with us know that we're getting closer and closer to that point, that victory that's within sight.

JOE BIDEN, (D) VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Let's get straight who's been right and wrong. John McCain and Dick Cheney said we would not -- this war would take a decade, not a day, not a week, not six months, we would not be out of there quickly. John McCain said the Sunnis and the Shias got along with each other without reading the history of the last 700 years. John McCain said there would be enough oil to pay for this. John McCain has been dead wrong. I love him. As my mother would say God love him, but he's been dead wrong on the fundamental issues relating to the conduct of the war. Barack Obama has been right. There are the facts.


ACOSTA: If you can't get enough of the vice presidential debate between Joe Biden and Sarah Palin, we'll have a replay coming up tonight on CNN. That's at 9:00 Eastern coming up tonight on CNN, a replay of the vice presidential debate between Joe Biden and Sarah Palin.

And joining me now is our CNN senior political analyst, Bill Schneider, to take a look at some of the states out there and how this battleground map is shaping up. Our latest polling from the CNN political unit is quite striking to see what's happening out there in some of these states Bill. I'm in Virginia right now, which is a state where if there's a Democrat campaigning this late in the game, the Democrat must be doing pretty well nationally. How are these states shaping up right now?

SCHNEIDER: Well, I am a Virginian. And Virginia has not voted for a Democrat since 1964. But there was Obama in Virginia today where you are. Virginia voted 8 percent margin for George Bush four years ago. What in the world is Obama doing in Virginia? Look at our latest polls of polls in Virginia they show an average of Obama, 48 percent, McCain, 47 percent. Things are neck-and-neck in Virginia. And for the first time in a long time, Virginia is truly a battleground state. That's why Obama was there.

Another state was supposed to be a battleground. Pennsylvania. Democrats usually think they can rely on Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania voted for John Kerry in 2004 but only by three points. McCain had high hopes for Pennsylvania. Obama lost it badly to Hillary Clinton in the primaries. But our latest poll of polls in Pennsylvania shows Obama ahead there by a solid margin of ten points in the state that went Democratic by just three points four years ago. Jim.

ACOSTA: What does that mean for the map nationally? It must mean things are getting shaken up.

SCHNEIDER: Things are shaking up. But they're moving generally in Barack Obama's direction. Right now, we're showing that if the election were held now, Obama would end up with 250 electoral votes. That's just shy of the 270 the winner needs to capture the Electoral College. McCain would get 189 and there would be 99 electoral votes in the remaining toss-up states. What's happening is our electoral map is getting a little bit closer, fewer toss-up states and those states that are moving are generally moving in the Democratic direction. Jim.

ACOSTA: Bill Schneider thanks very much for a look at the map. And of course, people can always go online and look at our Website, to get the latest on how that battleground map is shaping up in this general election campaign. Coming up after a break here on BALLOT BOWL on CNN, what next after the bailout? What are these candidates saying in terms of what happens next for Americans and folks who are struggling with this economy? That's coming up after a break. This is BALLOT BOWL on CNN.


ACOSTA: Welcome back to BALLOT BOWL on CNN. We have some campaign news to share with our viewers. Joe Biden, the vice presidential running mate for Barack Obama, has apparently canceled his weekend events both for today and tomorrow, not apparently. But he has canceled those events today and tomorrow because his mother-in-law, Bonnie Jacobs, the mother of his wife, Jill Biden, has apparently gotten very ill. She is in hospice care.

Joe Biden has said he would like to get to her side as soon as possible to see her through this point in time. So I'll toss it over to my colleague, Ed Henry. Obviously for the Obama campaign, it is tough to see Joe Biden not on the campaign trail this weekend after so many Democrats felt he did such a great job during the vice presidential debate. But obviously family first. So this is Joe Biden answering the call there, Ed.

HENRY: That's right. As we talk about Sarah Palin later today here in California, planning to, according to her advisers, take the gloves off on Barack Obama; get tougher on the rhetoric as the Republican ticket tries to come back in this election. Obviously family comes first. Everyone's thoughts with Joe Biden and his family. That was the most emotional moment of that first and only vice presidential debate, when Joe Biden spoke about his first wife and his daughter passing away in that tragic car accident back in the early 1970s.

All this week, though, as we know, there had been a lot of focus on that $700 billion bailout, the economy being issue number one for voters, the financial crises front and center. John McCain went to Independence, Missouri, that's the presidential library of a Democrat, Harry Truman, it was meant to try to highlight what McCain called a bipartisan effort to pass the bailout bill even though he was really just lobbying fellow Republicans in his phone calls and meetings, not really lobbying Democrats. But he was also talking about the fiscal crisis in calling for a spending freeze on what he called all no critical federal programs to deal with this spending mess.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We must also realize that this rescue plan has serious implications for future spending. We can't dedicate more than -- possibly more than $1 trillion to rescue failing institutions and then go right back to business as usual in Washington as if there were no end to the resources of government or of the patience of the taxpayers. Therefore --

Therefore, as president, I will impose a one-year spending freeze on every agency of the federal government.


Accepting only national defense, the care of our veterans and a few critical priorities.


Leadership requires candor. And I'll tell you bluntly that America is already $10 trillion in debt. And to make our economy strong again, we must reduce the burden of federal spending. We can't tax our way to prosperity. I'm committed to billions in spending reductions that will balance the budget and get us on the path away from ruinous debt.

The constant political rancor that stops us from solving these problems in Washington isn't a cause, it's a symptom. It's what happens when people go to Washington to work for themselves and not for you. Again and again, I've worked with members of both parties to fix problems that need to be fixed. That's how I will govern as president. I'll reach out my hand to anyone to help me get this country mathewing again. And I have that record and the scars to prove it.


I offer this not just as a campaign slogan, but as a way to solve our country's problems. Instead of rejecting good ideas because we didn't think of them first, let's use the best ideas from both sides. This great country can do anything we put our minds to. I will ask Democrats and Independents to serve with me. And my administration will set a new standard for transparency and accountability.


HENRY: John McCain, you can hear him there in independence, Missouri, trying to play in the theme of country first that he tries to hit in almost every speech out on the campaign trail, talking about partisanship over bipartisan. But obviously this week there was also a lot of partisanship fling back and forth in addition to the talk of bipartisanship. And as I bring my colleague, Jim Acosta, back in, he's with Barack Obama in Newport News, Virginia.

Barack, obviously has been all over this financial crisis trying to pin it on John McCain and tie him to President Bush who's very unpopular right now, especially on the economy -- Jim.

ACOSTA: That's right, Ed, and we've heard that from Barack Obama throughout the week. And even though the Obama campaign tries to stress time and again that they have tried as best as possible to not inject presidential politics into this, which is sort of a veiled swipe at John McCain in saying that, because they feel like he did inject presidential politics into this -- they have gone after the Arizona senator talking about how they feel that John McCain has been a champion of deregulation, that he supported policies, in their minds, that led to this financial crisis. And so, we heard Barack Obama talking about this earlier this week. There was an event that he had in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on Thursday, you know, right around the time where both of these senators and Joe Biden went to Washington and voted in favor of this bailout package.

Barack Obama went after John McCain on this issue, talked about how he is outraged about the fact that they've had to bail out some of these fat cats on Wall Street. And then, Senator Obama went back to this message that he brings up time and again at these eventsment and that is, he says John McCain -- it's not that John McCain doesn't care, it's that John McCain doesn't get it, those words from Barack Obama. So, here's more from Senator Obama, earlier this week in Grand Rapids, Michigan.


OBAMA: Now, let me be clear, because I know people are frustrated. The fact that we're in this mess is an outrage. It's an outrage because we didn't get here by accident, this is not a normal part of the business cycle, this did not happen because of a few bad apples. This financial crisis is a direct result of the greed and irresponsibility that has dominated Washington and Wall Street for years.


It's the result of speculators who gain the system (ph), regulators who look the other way, lobbyists who bought their way into our government. The result of an economic philosophy that says, we should give more and more to those with the most and hope that prosperity trickles down on everybody else.

A philosophy that views even the most common sense regulations as unwise and unnecessary. This crisis is nothing less than a final verdict on that failed philosophy. And it is a philosophy I'm running for president to put to an end. Enough is enough!


That's what this election is all about, because despite my opponent's best evident to make you think otherwise, this is the philosophy he's embraced during his 26 years in Washington. Over the past few days, he's talked a lot about getting tough on Wall Street, But over the past few decades, he's fought against the very rules of the road that could have stopped this mess. He says, we'll take on corporate lobbyists, now. But he put seven of the biggest lobbyists in Washington in charge of his campaign. If you think those lobbyists are working day and night to elect him just to put themselves out of business, well, I've got a bridge to sell you up in Alaska.


The truth is my opponent's philosophy isn't just wrong-headed, it reveals how out of touch he and his party have been. How else could you offer $200 billion in tax cuts for big corporations at a time like this?

How else could you propose giving the average fortune 500 CEO a $700,000 tax cut at a time when millions of Americans are struggling to pay their bills?

How else could you come up with an economic plan that leaves out more than 100 million middle class families at the very moment they need help the most?

Senator McCain just doesn't get it. Well, Michigan, you get it and I get it. And that's why we're here today. We know the next four years don't have to look like the last eight.


ACOSTA: So there you have it, Barack Obama in Grand Rapids, Michigan, talking about the economy and they see some of these personal attacks coming from the McCain campaign. And they are -- the Obama campaign saying at this point that they are going to stay focused on what here at CNN refer to as "Issue No. 1." But, stick with us, because coming up after a break here on BALLOT BOWL on CNN, it's not just the candidates who are alive and unfiltered, we also have musicians unplugged. Bruce Springsteen coming up after a break, he'll be in the streets of Philadelphia, if you'll pardon the reference, that's coming up after a break, here on BALLOT BOWL on CNN.


HENRY: Welcome back to BALLOT BOWL, I'm Ed Henry in Carson, California. We're expecting Sarah Palin just in the next couple of hours for a big rally, here. They've been ling up literally for hours to see her after that big vice presidential debate this week. Her running mate, John McCain, who's at the top of the ticket, was in a key battleground this week; on Thursday, he was in Denver, Colorado. He talked about the $700 billion bailout. It fit right into his campaign theme of talking about reforming, not just Wall Street but also Washington, as he took aim at lobbyists on the Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac issue. But also, he really went after Barack Obama on the issue of taxes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MCCAIN: This Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac thing could not have happened without the collusion and cooperation of the lobbyists and the members of Congress who had that cozy relationship. That's how it began, my friends, the greed on Wall Street and the greed and corrupt practices in Washington bred this problem, which has affected every single American family. And it's not right and it's not right for America and it's not fair for America.

Now, I would like to mention to you before I go much further, I think you know, that it is women that are the growing and the fastest growing number of small business owners in America.


It is women, the only bright spot in our economy is small business and the creation of jobs that's taking place there and those jobs and that job creation are being done by the women in this room and all over America. So, we will do everything we can to keep your taxes low, to keep your taxes low, so that it's not complicated by the government.

Senator Obama has voted 94 times to raise your taxes or against tax cuts.


You know, he's got this line now where he says he's cutting taxes for 95 percent of the American people. My friends, he voted to raise taxes for 100 percent of them time after time after time. And, my friends, you've not only got to talk the talk, but you've got to walk the walk.


And he hasn't walked the walk. So, let me just talk to you a little bit about this crisis and a couple of things, and then I'd like to hear from you. And again, I want to thank everybody, everybody who has come here. I'm very grateful for your presence and I'm very honored by it. And I'll say that a couple of more times before we finish.

But let me say, I went back to Washington when we were facing this fiscal crisis, and obviously, we had to act, my friends. And I understand why a lot of Americans were very cynical. They viewed this as a, "bailout for Wall Street". And that was very understandable. So, I was -- suspended my campaign, we stopped advertising. I went back to Washington and sat down, particularly with my Republican friends and the House of Representatives who are being left out of the negotiations. And I won't get into the tick-tock here with you. But they got into the negotiations, that legislation was improved and last night, as you know, we passed it through the United States Senate.

But -- and a lot of Americans are still cynical. And I understand that because we're not big government people. We want government least involved in our lives. We want to be free to pursue our own ambitions and our own dreams and our own hopes. But, I also tell you because of the greed and excess in Washington and Wall Street, there's people in this room that know very well, credit was drying up. People were having trouble getting loans to buy a car. We know that. There was difficulties in Main Street America, and we have to provide them with that relief.

And I've got to give you straight talk, my friends. If we pass this legislation, which I believe that they will tomorrow probably in the United States House of Representatives, it's like a tourniquet. It's not a cure. It's like a tourniquet. It will stop the bleeding, but then we have to fix the way things happen in Washington, D.C. Fixing the way that things happen.


And it's going to take a new broom, my friends. It's going to take somebody in there to drain the swamp and I will clean it out and I will fix it and I'll make sure we never have this challenge again.


HENRY: John McCain, unfiltered in his own words there in Colorado talking up "Issue No. 1," the U.S. economy. You heard him make a lot of references to women, that's because it was a town hall meeting in Colorado with female voters. And obviously there's a woman on his ticket, Sarah Palin. And when we come back, we're going to talk a little bit more about an issue near and dear to Sarah Palin's heart, helping families with special needs children.


SCHNEIDER: I'm Bill Schneider in Nashville for CNN BALLOT BOWL. Now we're going to hear from Governor Sarah Palin speaking in Columbus, Ohio, on Monday about two issues she is closely identified with -- energy needs. She comes from a state rich in energy resources, and special needs children, she has a special needs child, herself.


SARAH PALIN (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'll be leading us toward energy independence for America.


I know that here in Ohio, a high price of gas, it's make it a full tank at the pump seem like a luxury. And the cost of living is going up, and the cost of groceries is going up. Everything's going up. But the value of your paycheck is going down. And this is because of energy costs.

Now, to meet America's great energy challenge, we're going to need an all of the above approach. And in a McCain/Palin administration, that's going to include the use of clean coal.


Just recently -- just recently, Senator Biden made it perfectly clear that in an Obama/Biden administration there would be no use of clean coal at all.


And now, from Wyoming to West Virginia and especially right here in Ohio, America's coal resources are greater than the oil riches of the Middle East. And yet Joe Biden says, sorry, Ohio, we're not going to use it?


As for Senator McCain and I, we will make clean coal a reality. And to help power the American economy, with clean coal technology, we're going to look to the hard-working people of Ohio to help us do that.


By developing this technology, we'll deliver not only electricity but jobs, jobs to some of the hardest-hit areas by this economic trouble that we are in. We will achieve energy independence for our country. And what that means is American energy resources tapped, brought to you by American ingenuity and produced by American workers.


All of you. My work in a McCain/Palin administration will also focus on government reform, where John and I have real records of making change happen. And third, I'll be helping families who have children with special needs, which is an issue close to my heart. That great governor, Robert Casey, of Pennsylvania, he was asked once, how society should treat the most vulnerable among us, such as children with special needs. He said it's simple. He said: you put them first in line.

Governor Casey reminded us that these beautiful children, whom we are to cherish, they can inspire a special love, and they're not a problem, they are a priority. As governor, I've sought more funding for students with special needs. As vice president, I'm going to make sure these children have a friend and an advocate in the House, the White House.


SCHNEIDER: If you missed any part of that first vice presidential debate, watch the best parts with the best analysis again with John King and the best political team on TV, tonight at 9:00 Eastern, only on CNN, your home for politics.

Now, our next play on the BALLOT BOWL, more from "The Boss," Springsteen, who holds a rally for Barack Obama, where else? On the streets of Philadelphia. Coming right up when we return.


ACOSTA: Welcome back to BALLOT BOWL on CNN, and we want to take you live to Philadelphia where Bruce Springsteen is expected to be warming up the crowd any minute now. He's campaigning for Barack Obama, there. The folk rock musician, Amos Lee is on stage now, and we had hoped to see Bruce Springsteen during this hour of BALLOT BOWL, but looks like we'll have to hold off and show that to you later on CNN and on BALLOT BOWL tomorrow.

And I'll toss it back to my colleague, Ed Henry. And just mention that, Ed, I remember following the Kerry campaign in 2004 when Bruce Springsteen would get out there, and I hope it's OK to say this on television, but sometimes in the Press Corp, we are more excited about seeing Bruce Springsteen than John Kerry. I hope it's OK that I just said that.

HENRY: We don't want to hurt anyone's feelings, Jim, but I think a lot of people around the country will agree with you on that sentiment. No offense to Senator Kerry or any other politicians. I'm going to keep (INAUDIBLE) in, in fact, after the show, so I can listen in myself. And I want to remind everyone, pleasure working with Jim today. Tomorrow, tune in BALLOT BOWL, another edition, 4:00 p.m. Eastern.

Right now though, stand by for CNN NEWSROOM with Fredricka Whitfield.