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Virginia Not Ready; Health Care Plans; Join the Discussion; Higher Prices Coming; Ireport Desk; Campaign Follies, Again; Truth Squad Looks at Obama and McCain's Health Plans; Record Numbers of People Heading to the Polls

Aired October 28, 2008 - 12:00   ET


TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: It is Tuesday, October 28th, 2008. Just one week away from Election Day. Hello again, everyone. I'm Tony Harris.
The candidates making their final runs through key battleground turf fighting hard for those undecided voters. I'm Tony Harris. Have you cast your vote yet? A record number of people across the country lining up to make their voices heard.

And which candidate will serve you best at the doctor's office? Our truth squad examines Obama and McCain's health plans. You're in the CNN NEWSROOM.

How about this? The final week of campaigning. Both presidential candidates are running on the same turf today in the last lap of their race. Their first stop, Pennsylvania, then on to other East Coast battleground states. Barack Obama and John McCain both with 10:00 a.m. Eastern rallies this morning.

Obama in Chester, Pennsylvania. McCain and running mate Sarah Palin together in Hershey. Obama's number two Joe Biden solo last our in Ocala, Florida. All of them live right here in the CNN NEWSROOM. And we have crews scattered about the battlegrounds states.

Candy Crowley and Dan Lothian in Norfolk, Virginia. Suzanne Malveaux and Ed Henry in Pennsylvania. Sean Callebs in Miami. Gary Tuchman, Las Vegas. And we will hear from Jessica Yellin in Harrisonburg, Virginia, covering Senator Obama.

Dana Bash covering Senator McCain. Let's get first to Dana in Quakertown, that's in Pennsylvania. A big battleground state. Dana, good to see you. How about this? A rousing close, I thought, to the rally in Hershey last hour from John McCain, a closing argument that pivoted harsh attacks on Obama to really a ringing affirmative message to end that rally last hour.

DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. I really think he's trying to do a combination of both, particularly, though, you're right. Focus on the issue of the economy, no surprise. And on the issue of taxes. Look, this state, Pennsylvania, this is one of those, in fact, probably the only blue state that the McCain campaign is campaigning aggressively. And it is an electoral-rich state. Twenty one electoral votes. It's an uphill climb, Tony. The polls show a double-digit lead here for Barack Obama but basically the McCain campaign has to choice. He's got to try to take the state away from Barack Obama if he wants to win the White House.

So he did really lay into Barack Obama, but on the issues and specifically on the issue of taxes with an old-fashioned argument, really. And it's basically that Barack Obama's going to raise your taxes and I won't.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Senator Obama is returning to be redistributionist and chief. I'm running to be commander in chief.

Senator Obama is running to spread the wealth. I'm running to create wealth. Senator Obama is running to punish the successful. I'm running to make everyone successful.


BASH: Now, Tony, McCain aides say they are having some success with that argument, specifically in states like Pennsylvania, with blue collar voters, with rural voters, but you saw Sarah Palin was with Senator McCain at that rally this morning here in Pennsylvania. And certainly that was part of the reason why there was such a rousing crowd.

She always draws big crowds. And that is certainly helps energize John McCain at these events. With the McCain campaign hoping she would help in some of the suburban areas like where I am in Quakertown, Pennsylvania, but polls show that for various reasons, as the months or so has gone on, she actually seems to be hurting John McCain with suburban voters, especially women, and not helping them.

And I should tell you the McCain campaign, both McCain and Palin, they were supposed to come here to Quakertown. It got canceled. I'm sure you can see behind me, weather is horrible. So he is now going on to North Carolina. That again not such a great thing because he really needs to campaign hard.

HARRIS: Sure. We were watching you earlier, Dana. It was horrible there. Looks like it's cleared a bit but still looks pretty raw there.

BASH: I've found shelter.

HARRIS: Yeah. You did. OK, Dana. Good to see you. Thank you.

And of course we will bring awe report on the Obama in just a few minutes. Our Jessica Yellin is coming up live from Harrisonburg, Virginia. The battle today is in Pennsylvania. A critical part of the Election Day strategy for both candidates. CNN's John Roberts took a closer look at where the battle lines were drawn before they hit the trail this morning.


JOHN ROBERTS, CNN HOST: Let's take a quick look at presidential travel today. John McCain is going to be a Chester, in Hershey, rather just outside of Harrisburg. Barack Obama will be in Chester, just outside of Philadelphia, right there along the Amtrak corridor. I take a train through there twice a week and Sarah Palin is going to be here in Center County. This is a county that President Bush won by four points over John Kerry in 2004. It's solidly republican. A big swatch of red. Why is that so important? Because that's where Penn State University hits.

If we go back to the primaries earlier this year, you will notice the big patch of dark blue, because Barack Obama, when he went up against Hillary Clinton, won that by 20 points over her. Sixty to forty percent. So Sarah Palin there in Center County, even when you look at map, a large swatch of red, a little blue in the middle there where Barack Obama could make the difference.

Here's why else John McCain is spending so much time in Pennsylvania. Here in this area in the southeast, that's heavily Democratic Territory. John Kerry killed President Bush there, like 80 to 19 percent, but a new Survey USA poll breaking it down into regional results shows in this area in the Northeast and this area in the Southwest, the numbers are within the margin of error that Barack Obama only has a three-point lead in those areas.

So John McCain will be concentrating very heavily on those areas of the northeast, around Scranton, Pennsylvania and the southwest here around Pittsburgh, Greene and Cambria Counties trying to build up those numbers a little bit. There are 41 percent of the electorate here in Pennsylvania here in the Philadelphia area. Between these two areas, 31 percent of the electorate. So there is a lot of votes to be had there, Kiran, and John McCain wants to get them badly.


HARRIS: And a legal fight in a battleground state. Virginia's NAACP suing Governor Kaine for allegedly failing to prepare for unprecedented voter turnout in next week's election. Our Dan Lothian live at the bottom of the hour with that story.

And this reminder, CNN has all of the bases covered on election night. One week today, November 4th, from the first to the last, we're bringing results from all 50 states.

Your money and a reversal of fortunes. Stock markets overseas surged into positive numbers. That's a big turnaround from a string of brutal losses. And here is something else that affects your money. The Federal Reserve is meeting today to decide on a cut in interest rates. We'll get that announcement tomorrow and on Capitol Hill today surviving America's financial crisis. Small firm, big challenges and the landscape of American business.

Moving to Wall Street right now where the stocks have opened in positive territory, following those strong gains overseas, we are still in positive territory. Let's look at numbers now. I believe 130 points in positive territory. Off of session highs. Susan Lisovicz is keeping an eye on all the tricky news coming in on the economy. Susan good to see you again.

SUSAN LISOVICZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good to see you, Tony, and we do have a rally, as we go into the noon hour. Unfortunately, the blue chips have given out more than half of the gains we saw in that strong open. That, of course, came on the heels of strong rallies overseas. What's on the plate today? In addition to the Fed meeting on interest rates, we saw a closely watched survey that showed home prices declined for the 25th straight month. A separate report showed a huge plunge in consumer confidence. I suppose no surprise when you're hearing about big well-known companies slashing their payrolls.

Latest one, Whirlpool. The big home appliance company, slashing 5,000 jobs and lowering its full-year earning forecasts. Whirlpool shares are under pressure down more than 17 percent. But Boeing shares are up big time. Right now -- well, up 4.5 percent. They've declined a little, but they are still rallying after the aerospace giant reached a tentative agreement with wage increases totaling 15 percent. Those are some of the things we're watching in addition to the Fed, as I mentioned, and as you mentioned, Tony, sort of a kitchen sink economy. Everything's being thrown at it, aggressive rate cuts, stimulus. Fiscal stimulus and, yes, bailouts and hopes of reviving it sooner rather than later.

HARRIS: You're right. A lot on the table right now. Susan good to see you. Thank you.

Asian markets rebounded in a big way today. Andrew Stevens has more from Hong Kong.

ANDREW STEVENS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Tony, these extraordinary times, and another extraordinary day for investors here in Asia. For a change, it was for all the right reasons. After a miserable Monday, stocks across the key markets bounced. Japan wiping out losses from the previous day with a more than six percent rise led by amazingly the auto sector.

After weeks of being pummeled by investors and the soaring Japanese currency, companies like Honda and Toyota were the flavor of the day as investors decided that they'd been oversold.

Hong Kong, though, was the standout. On Monday, it was nearly 13 percent down. Today it was more than 14 percent up. Incredible volatility even in the market which is not unfamiliar with wild swings. The reason, like Japan, maybe, just maybe, the market has been oversold.

Before everyone gets excited about this it's going to take a long time for investors to regain their confidence in the stock market. We've been here before, after all. A power rally only to be replaced in the days or weeks ahead by another round of selling.

We still don't know just how big and impact the credit crunch is going to have on the global economy. No one's looking for the start of a trend or rally here, but at least it's a step in the right direction. Tony, back to you.

HARRIS: Andrew, thank you. And for more on the financial crisis just go to

Getting a head start. One state says about half of its registered voters could vote before Election Day. Poll workers are breathing a sigh of relief.


HARRIS: You know, early voting has reached all-time record levels. State election officials say more than a million people have already voted in Georgia. You know, that's nearly a fifth of that state's registered voters and more than a million have voted in both Florida and North Carolina. Hard to say how long you'll wait to cast a vote. In various states we've heard reports of waiting anywhere from 15 minutes to four, five hours in some cases more.

Only four states do not allow early voting, Maryland, Rhode Island, Washington and Oregon.

Today is the last day to send requests to vote by mail in Colorado. A whopping 1.6 million are planning to vote this way in that state. That's half of the state's registered voters. Dave Delozier from Denver affiliate KUSA has that story.


DAVE DELOZIER, KUSA TV CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Remember this?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Denver election commissioners respond to criticism after an Election Day disaster at the polls.

DELOZIER: Just two short years ago when heavy Election Day turnout caused.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Long lines and computer problems plagued many Denver vote centers most of the day.

DELOZIER (on camera): They are hoping those lines will be replaced by these lines voters turning in ballots in advance of Election Day giving county clerks a chance to get a jump on processing ballots.

(voice-over): Hear that? That's the sound of votes being counted.

STEPHANIE O'MALLEY, DENVER COUNTY CLERK AND RECORD: Anytime we can get ahead of our work, it certainly helps us prior to Election Day.

DELOZIER: In county clerk and recorder offices across Colorado, the ballots of a sizable percentage of registered voters are already being processed. With some predictions putting early voting and mail- in ballots at close to 50 percent of all eligible voters, county clerks couldn't be happier.

O'MALLEY: Of course in November of '06 you heard the stories of people standing in lines three and four hours. I don't anticipate that with the volume of mail-in ballots that we're seeing here in elections divisions and the amount of traffic we're seeing during early voting.

DELOZIER: While computers are processing ballots, if you want to find out the total, well, you'll just have to wait until election night.

O'MALLEY: At 7:01 we're able to hit the tabulation button and we will then receive unofficial results, from the work that you're seeing here now.

DELOZIER: The hope is this sound will replace this sound.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To wait two and a half hours or more is really difficult for people.

HARRIS: Those of you stuck in line for early voting are sending I-Reports. Appreciate that. Our guy Tyson Wheatley will have some of those later in the news cast from Tyson's corner.

An autopsy planned for the seven-year-old nephew of Oscar winning singer Jennifer Hudson. Hudson also lost her mother and brother in a shooting this weekend. Last night hundreds of people gathered at a candlelight vigil outside Hudson's home on Chicago's South Side to mourn their loss.

Susan Roesgen has the latest.


SUSAN ROESGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jennifer Hudson had to go to morgue to identify the third family member shot dead. Her seven-year- old nephew Julian.

JODY WEIS, CHICAGO POLICE DEPARTMENT: Obviously we were trying to find him as quickly as we could. Every minute that passes you get more and more nervous that he may have fallen into harm's way.

ROESGEN: Chicago police say it was a neighbor who tipped them to the SUV they had been searching for all weekend and police confirmed that the seven-year-old's body was in the back seat. Jennifer Hudson had offered a $100,000 reward to try to get the boy home safely. After the bodies of her mother and brother were found in the family home on Friday. Now the questions are, who and why?

WEIS: We don't know what the motive really was at this time. But clearly, you have people who do know each other. So it wasn't a case of a stranger-type homicide.

ROESGEN: The police have been questioning William Balfour, the boy's stepfather, but still won't say he is a suspect and if Balfour has been in their custody since Friday night, who might have been driving the stolen SUV and how long had the child been dead? The police have not found the gun used in the murders and don't know if more than one person was involved.

A terrible mystery for the big city star with hometown roots, the dream girl who could not have dreamed of such personal tragedy.


HARRIS: And Susan Roesgen joins us live from Chicago. Susan, good to see you again. Any word on autopsy results at this point?

ROESGEN: Yes, we believe the autopsy is finished now, because the medical examiner, Tony, is supposed to have a news conference in about another hour. The reason the autopsy is important here is because, yes, we know from the police that the boy was shot to death just as his grandmother and his uncle were shot to death, but the question is, when.

Was he shot in the home with them and then was the body put that in that SUV? That doesn't really make sense. Could someone else have taken the boy and then later decided the boy is a witness. He's seven years old, he's certainly old enough to know who did the killings.

So we'll take the boy with us. And the question is also important in terms of their person of interest. Not a suspect, but person of interest is William Balfour, the stepfather of the boy. If he has been locked up in police custody, now in state custody, since Friday night and this white SUV really didn't show up in this different neighborhood until Monday morning, who was driving the car?

So a lot of questions and maybe the autopsy will do something. Tony, also I want to show you. I told you how important this was to the City of Chicago. Front page news every day. The "Chicago Sun- Times" here. "The Chicago Tribune." And these are just the front pages, Tony.

It goes on and on talking about the grief of people here. Jennifer Hudson really never lost touch with her roots here. She was never a diva. People really liked her. When she came home, she was ordinary. And so they just think it's horrible what's happened here and, of course to shoot a seven year old boy like that.

HARRIS: We hope all of this attention will help police with some leads, some clues to help find the folks responsible for this. Susie, appreciate it. Thank you.

Anchorwoman banned by the Obama campaign. They say her questioning wasn't tough but absurd. What does she say?


HARRIS: Sprinting through battleground states with just a week left in the race for president. Barack Obama jump-starting his day in Pennsylvania then heading to Virginia. Live now to our Jessica Yellin in Harrisonburg, Virginia. And Jessica, what are you expecting? New policy initiatives or will we hear Obama the lawyer offering his closing argument?

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You got it. The closing argument. He's really buttoning up the case he's been making for the last month plus. Focused heavily on the economy and drawing stark contrasts between how he would handle the economy and John McCain.

As you mentioned, he started his day in Pennsylvania. A state in which he has a healthy lead, but that's a place where John McCain and Sarah Palin have been crisscrossing the state heavily contesting Obama's lead there.

And that forced Obama back there for a couple visits just to the shore up whatever support he feels might be wavering, or in any danger there, and then headed here to Virginia. Again, as we've said, one of those states where in years' past, a Democrat would never be here at this late stage in a presidential election. Typically such a red state, but Barack Obama here in Virginia also has a very healthy lead, that's according to CNN's poll of polls.

Barack Obama, as I mentioned, is going to hit hard on the theme that he would change the way the economy is working for average Americans, and he's been saying consistently that John McCain would continue George Bush's policies. He had a new way of saying it this morning in his first rally. Let's listen.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He supported four out of the five of the bush budgets that have taken us from surplus under the Clinton years to the largest deficit in history. John McCain's ridden shotgun as George Bush has driven our economy towards the cliff, and now he wants to take the wheel and step on the gas.


YELLIN: So he wants to turn the car in a different direction, he's saying. The significance of him showing up in Virginia and fighting so hard for this state, Tony, is if he wins a state like Virginia, picks up another red state like Colorado, or a once formerly red state like Colorado and Nevada, then he can afford to lose a state like Florida, which has bedeviled so many Democrats in years' past, but I should say he's not given up on Florida, either. He's headed there tomorrow.

HARRIS: You know, Jessica, I'm from that neck of the woods a little bit, Baltimore. Trying to figure out, where is Harrisonburg? I couldn't get to the Google Map fast map.

YELLIN: We're close to West Virginia.


YELLIN: It's the southern - yeah, southern part of the state.

HARRIS: Jessica Yellin for us in Harrisonburg, Virginia.

Too many voters, not enough voting machines. The NAACP filed suit against a key battleground state.


HARRIS: All right, let's get you to the New York Stock Exchange now for a look at the big board. As you can see the Dow is up 124 points. About three hours into the trading day but this is off session highs, we came out of the gate really strong, up over 200 points, we've given up about half of those gains at this point. The NASDAQ up 10, the S&P up 10 as well.

Virginia's governor slapped with a lawsuit alleging lack of voting machines. Is the battleground state ill-prepared for next week? Live now to CNN's Dan Lothian in Norfolk. Dan, good to see you. Who is behind the lawsuit?

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's the NAACP. I have in my hand a copy of that lawsuit. Twenty-seven pages, this was filed in U.S. District Court in Richmond.

It focuses really on three communities with a high concentration of African Americans and also some poorer communities, such as the Virginia Beach, also here in Norfolk and also around the Richmond area, and the NAACP inn its complaint focusing on the governor of Virginia and also election officials. They believe that they have not done enough to really prepare for what's expected to be a large number of voters toning out on Election Day.

Right now the projection is 90 percent voter turnout and they believe if that is indeed the case, there aren't enough voting machines out there in some of these communities and there will be long lines and some of the people who really want to vote will not be able to vote. So what they are asking the court to do is to really hand over the whole election process to the federal government.

And they also want the state to reallocate where some of these machines currently are slated to be.

Now, the governor, through a communication director, told me that he's very confident that the state board of elections has done its job in mitigating the potential of long lines. And then over at the state board of elections, they have said that they've made major improvements since 2004. They said they've added about 50 percent additional election officials. They've also added 300 additional precincts. And they say they have 77 percent more machines than they had in 2004.

But, Tony, however you look at this, there will be problems of long lines across the state. I was talking to one election official, as she told me, what she's advising voters to do is to bring plenty of patience and wear nice, comfortable shoes. So they're expecting a lot of people here.

Now as for this lawsuit, the state board of elections says that they are meeting with the attorney general's office and they'll decide over the next couple of days how to answer this lawsuit. TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, Dan, I just can't remember. Is early voting option there in Virginia? I know there are four states that don't permit it. I'm just curious. Is Virginia one of those states?

LOTHIAN: Right. Listen, that's one point that officials here want is to really stress that they don't have early voting here. There's been a lot of confusion. What they have is absentee voting in person. Can you do an absentee voting, mail it in or you can actually show up and do it.

HARRIS: I see.

LOTHIAN: But in order to do that, you have to have a reason. There are 17 different reasons that you can have, such as a commuter, or you're going to be working on that day, you're going to be out of town. So you have to have a reason in order to vote absentee. But they don't have early voting here in the state of Virginia.

HARRIS: OK. Dan Lothian for us in Norfolk, Virginia.

Dan, good to see you. A solid report there.

We also want to hear from you. If you run into problems at the polls, call the CNN voter hotline. Help us track the problems and we will turn around those reports in realtime for you. Here's the number, 1-877-462-6608. We are keeping them honest all the way through the election and beyond.

"Ten issues in 10 days." We continue breaking down the issues as we count down to Election Day. Today it is health care. Here's now what the presidential candidates are planning to do to make the health care system work better for you. The problems and the plans. Here's where the candidates stand.

Barack Obama proposing a national health insurance program for those without employer coverage. He would not mandate individual coverage for all Americans, but would require coverage for all children.

John McCain opposes mandating universal coverage. His plan would increase awareness of children's health insurance programs.

Obama's health care proposal offers people a choice between public and private insurance plans. A subsidy for the uninsured. And it would allow people to buy medicine from other countries.

McCain's proposal offers a $2,500 tax credit for individuals and a $5,000 tax credit for families. In addition, McCain wants to expand community health centers, as well as health savings accounts, and pass medical liability reform.

Would Barack Obama's health care plan force small businesses to cut jobs? That is one claim we've heard from John McCain. Josh Levs and the CNN truth squad joins me now with that.

Josh, take it away.

JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What do you think, Tony? What's the ruling on that one going to be?

HARRIS: Misleading.

LEVS: You're really close, actually. One step further.

Let's take a look at what John McCain said.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Under his plan, he will fine employers who don't offer health insurance to put their employees in government health care. He'll fine them. You know what that does? That costs jobs. That costs jobs for small business people in America.


LEVS: And can you see there we give it a false. Here's why. Let's zoom in on the board. I want to show you something from Barack Obama's web site. I just want you to see a few key words here. He is requiring employers to "offer meaningful coverage." Or, if they don't, they have to contribute to the cost of quality health care for their employees. And the way that would happen is more like a payroll tax than a fine.

One more thing. Let's zoom back in. Look at this. "Small businesses will be exempt from that rule." So it didn't too take much sloothing (ph) on that one, Tony. That's how we got to false on that attack.

HARRIS: OK. And there's another one from the other side. Barack Obama saying millions would lose their health insurance plans under McCain. What did you find here?

LEVS: Yes, this one's interesting. Let's take a look at what Barack Obama has said.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Senator McCain didn't tell us about the studies that say his plan would cause 20 million Americans to lose their health insurance from their employer.


LEVS: And you see there true but incomplete. Now here's the deal. Under McCain's plan, the premium are for employer provided insurance will becomes taxable. But, as you just mentioned, Tony, everyone would get a tax credit. $2,500 for individuals, $5,000 for families.

Now this right here behind me, this is an analysis that was done by academics in the journal "Health Affairs." It says something. And I put it into a graphic for you so you can see what their key points are. They estimated that 20 million people could lose their employer- provided insurance. But they also estimated that about 21 million people could take up non-group coverage. And the article adds that those plans might offer less coverage.

And, of course, Tony, as always, we've got a lot more details right here at Just go to the main page. Click on fact check at the top. You can't miss it. You've got to learn the facts on this (INAUDIBLE) for you both.

HARRIS: Beautiful. Well done. Nice pitch. Thanks, Josh.

LEVS: Thanks.

HARRIS: Education goes under the microscope as we continue breaking down the issues that matter most to you tomorrow. We're all about education, from No Child Left Behind, to keeping both teachers and students in the classroom and the problems, the plans. "Ten Issues, 10 days" only on CNN.

Falling gas prices. It seems like a great idea. But could we end up paying for it later?


HARRIS: Well, I hope these -- I tell you what, maybe we get this game in tonight. Now, I don't know. The World Series suspended. Rain in Philadelphia messed up last night's game five. The Phillies and the Rays were tied at 2 in the sixth inning when the umpires said, enough already. Now they'll try to pick it up where they left off tonight. The Phillies lead three games to one, trying to wrap up the first World Series in, what, since 1980.

Let's get you to Chad Myers. And if you're concerned about -- Chad, are they going to be able to get the game in tonight?


HARRIS: Vote early and avoid the wait. That may not be the case anymore. Our i-Reporter shared their stories. That's next.


HARRIS: "Ten Issues in 10 Days." We are taking on the issues that matter most to you in this election. Today's issue, health care. And we are taking the health care discussion to the web. Our Veronica De La Cruz has created a FaceBook group for this show. She joins us now.

VERONICA DE LA CRUZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No, no, no, you skip a part . . .

HARRIS: What part? What part did I skip?

DE LA CRUZ: There was another part in there. HARRIS: I don't think I skipped anything that was pertinent to the discussion here. I don't think I skipped anything that was pertinent to -- you've taken the discussion of health care to the web to find out what people are saying, correct?

DE LA CRUZ: Correct. I'm letting you off the hook.

HARRIS: All right.

DE LA CRUZ: And we're doing a whole lot of experimentation. You know, Tony, part one of my experimentation was to go out on the street, talk to people with my handy, dandy camera. This is my little mino (ph). It's a flip. People have been asking what it is.

HARRIS: Nice. Nice.

DE LA CRUZ: It's really cool. You know, you plug it right into your computer and you upload your video.

HARRIS: Nice. Good. Good.

DE LA CRUZ: It's great.

The second part is to start this Facebook group. It is called Veronica De La Cruz, in the CNN NEWSROOM with Tony Harris.


DE LA CRUZ: Though the picture on the group is Tony Harris. I just -- I wanted to let you know.

HARRIS: Really?

DE LA CRUZ: Yes. I think you've (ph) been changed.

HARRIS: Isn't that kind of you. It only took about 20 minutes of whining to make that happen!

DE LA CRUZ: The picture has been changed.

Well, listen, this is what people are saying right now. This is a quick sample. Stef Grant in Washington, D.C. says, "forget an Obama or a McCain plan. How about we just have free health care? We would have more than enough money if we hadn't been wasting money on a pointless war among other things."

Tony, Jake Bell in Boulder, Colorado. "Socialized medicine will equal price controls. Price controls will equal reduced compensation for doctors. Reduced compensation will equal the best MD candidates finding a different profession."

And then, Tony, William Jones in New York says, "I don't think we need to nationalize the medical industry or even socialize it like Canada or England. I think we need to do the American thing and make health care more like Social Security or a medical 401(k). The money goes in while you are working at a deduction and builds up until you need it."

And then, Tony, Rudy Kremer in Montreal, Quebec. He writes in, "healthcare will take an eternity to achieve successfully in America. I live in Canada where we've had health care for over 60 years and it still has its fair share of problems, including wait times and lack of health human resources. Imagine the chaos America would experience, a country 10 times the size."

And then, finally, Tony, Christy Legner. She asks, "if you can live in an apartment paid for by the government, eat food paid for by the government, and then get health care paid for by the government, why would anyone want to get a job? How do you stop that from happening?"

HARRIS: All right.

DE LA CRUZ: So some good, healthy discourse taking place on our Facebook group, which is called Veronica De La Cruz in the CNN NEWSROOM with Tony Harris. There you'll find Tony Harris' picture. We're looking at him there.

HARRIS: Boy, what a handsome young man. I don't know who that is, but, boy, he's a handsome young man, isn't he?

DE LA CRUZ: Yes. So hot I can hardly stand it.

HARRIS: Yes, absolutely. Well said. Thank you, Veronica. See you tomorrow.

DE LA CRUZ: So search for both of us. Join in on the discussion. And we're going to check back in with you tomorrow. And I'll see you then, Tony.

HARRIS: Very cool. Thanks, Veronica.

As gas prices fall, refineries may end up losing money on gasoline. Why should you care? Good question. Well, it could actually lead to higher prices down the road.'s Poppy Harlow has our "Energy Fix" from New York.

Poppy, good to see you. My response to that is, huh?

POPPY HARLOW, CNNMONEY.COM: I know. I'm the bearer of good news these days. No more $4 gas. You've got cheaper gas here. Gas prices down, folks, for 41 straight days. National average, $2.63. Isn't that nice to hear?

Also, the price, right now, below where it was just a year ago. That is great news for drivers. It is bad news for refiners. They're seeing their profit margins shrink rapidly. One oil analyst told us today, if what's going in, that's crude oil, is costing as much as what's going out, that's gasoline, we've got a big problem.

Now last week we saw gas production decline for the first time in weeks after those refineries were trying to get back online after the hurricane. One refiner, Sunoco, tells us it is shutting its refineries in Philadelphia, though it won't say why and it won't say for how long. There are some reasons why, including routine maintenance, it causes refiners to shut down. But another story out today, Valero, that refiner delaying or canceling some big projects.

So what we know, Tony, they're making less money and they're making some changes, too.

HARRIS: Well, Poppy, is this a real reason for concern here?

HARLOW: Yes. We should be aware of it. It could be a cause for concern. If refiners cut back, we could get ourselves in a predicament where the demand is actually greater than the supply, even though demand is down around the world. That would, in turn, drive prices up. And low gas prices are one small bit of good news for people and for the economy right now.

In turn, keep in mind, this could affect job, although one analyst we spoke to said he doesn't really expect layoffs right now. As a result, he says, most of the refiners should just produce less, not shut down altogether, meaning they keep those jobs in place.

But, Tony, we've seen job losses left and right lately. It is a big, big concern. Keep it on your radar. Right now, your "Energy Fix," cheaper gas. Many more energy fixes in our sites. Some good news today. But keep an eye on the story, definitely.

HARRIS: Yes, absolutely. We'll do. Poppy, appreciate it. Thank you.

HARLOW: You're welcome.

HARRIS: You know that old saying, vote early, vote often. Well, a lot of you taking the first part seriously in sharing your early voting experiences with us. Let's take a trip -- rolling, rolling, rolling -- to's i-Report desk and check in with one of the guys helping run things down there at our i-Report operation. There he is. Tyson Wheatley. "Tyson's Corner."

Tyson, good to see you. I love this, that our i-Reporters are sending in some snapshot, really, of their early voting experience.

TYSON WHEATLEY, PRODUCER, CNN.COM: Yes, we're getting a lot of great response from people that are voting. And not just here in the states. We've got some from overseas.

HARRIS: Oh, great.

WHEATLEY: And I'm going to show you a couple of examples. In fact, let's start overseas. Let's start in Tel Aviv, Israel, where this -- these photos come to us from the Dancing Camel Brewery, from Daniel Dreifuss and Andrea Stein (ph). Now they voted early in Tel Aviv and they tell us that this was a really excellent place for displaced Americans to grab some American-style food, watch football and, as it turns out, do some early voting. And, you know, they were -- this was, you know, this was sponsored by Vote From Israel, a non- partisan group that's dedicated to helping American citizens living in Israel.

HARRIS: Yes, that's very cool.

WHEATLEY: Exercise their voting rights. All right. So that's one example, right? That's overseas. Let's come back to the states. Let's go to Georgia. I think this next one is from Savannah, actually.

HARRIS: South of Atlanta. A couple of hours.

WHEATLEY: That's right. Well, yes, you must drive fast if it only takes you a couple hours. But these are -- this is early voters lining up to cast their vote in Chatham County Board of Elections. This comes to us from Rick Ebercht (ph). And, you know what, he's one of my favorite I-Reporters. He's been with us for a couple of years now.

He took some photos of voters lining up. You can see here, there was some shade provided. It was a little warm that day. And, you know, his experience, he says it went really smooth, really quick. He says that the voting there was well organized. We're looking at a picture there. That's Rick's wife, Jill Ebercht. And -- probably displaying her, I voted in Georgia voting sticker. So, OK. There's one more I want to show you.

HARRIS: Yes, we've got time for one more if you have it.

WHEATLEY: Yes. Let's got to Utah, shall we?

HARRIS: Good. Good. I'm ready.

WHEATLEY: All right. So check this video out. This is one of my favorite videos on the site right now. This comes to us from Fred Thorne. He's 35. And he's sharing -- he's sort of narrating and sharing this whole experience of voting in Ogden (ph), Utah. You know, he's reading his manual. Then he heads to the polling station. You can see him here. And the polling station is actually the Weaver County Ice Sheet (ph). And this is interesting because this is actually the site of the Olympic curling events during the 2002 winter games. And Fred tells us this is really cool. Interesting note, he didn't vote for McCain or Obama. He actually voted for his favorite candidate, Ralph Nader.

HARRIS: Oh, OK. OK. And some of the other candidates, judges, whatever else, on the ballot as well.


HARRIS: We assume.

Tyson, good to see you.

WHEATLEY: It's good to see you, Tony.

HARRIS: And we're back with you tomorrow. Thanks, Tyson.

WHEATLEY: Yes. Take care.

HARRIS: Just keep sending us your i-Reports on the election. Tomorrow we're taking a look at the candidates' positions on education. It you're a student now, or ever have been a student, surely you have some thoughts. Here's what you do, is where you should go.

Presidential politics. The trail is winding down. The laughs just warming up. Jeanne Moos with what the campaigns don't want you to see.


HARRIS: The presidential election now just one week from today. Can you believe it? Boy, all this time, just a week away. It may be a little easier to accept some of the oddities from the campaign trail. CNN's Jeanne Moos has some of the highlights.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT, (voice over): Will the fake Sarah Palin please raise her pom-pom. There she was, chanting his name.

CROWD: John McCain. John McCain.


MOOS: Basking in his praise behind his back.

MCCAIN: She's a great reformer and a great person and I'm proud.

And thank you for your support of Sarah Palin as well. I'm very grateful for that.

MOOS: The mystery look-alike Sarah even chanted her name.

CROWD: Sarah. Sarah. Sarah.

MOOS: Hey, sometimes folks don't believe you're the real thing, even when you are. For instance, when Barack Obama was dialing for votes . . .


MOOS: At an Obama rally, the microphone died. At a McCain rally, the lights kept going on and off on Senator Lindsey Graham.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R) SOUTH CAROLINA: Well, Joe the plumber . . .

MOOS: It's Joe the electrician they need.

MCCAIN: I think the lighting is brought to you courtesy of the Democratic National Committee.

OBAMA: Somebody from the McCain campaign kicked our plug out of the socket.

MOOS: The warm-up acts at these rallies seem to be getting wackier.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am Tito Munoz (ph), but you can call me Tito the builder.

MOOS: For the Democrat, there was Cecil the president of the United Mine Worker.

CECIL ROBERTS, PRESIDENT, UNITED MINE WORKERS: Just a few more weary days and no more George Bush!

MOOS: Not to mention Senator Robert Byrd answering his own question wrong, though the crowd got it right.

SEN. ROBERT BYRD, (D) WEST VIRGINIA: The next president. Who is he?


BYRD: Joe Biden!

MOOS: The rally chant also seem to be getting odder, from "I am Joe" . . .

CROWD: I am Joe. I am Joe.

MOOS: To, bless your heart.

CROWD: Bless your heart. Bless your heart.

MOOS: To vote McCain, use your brain.

CROWD: Vote McCain, use your brain.


MOOS: Not so good was what happened to a hockey player on this carpet just before Sarah Palin dropped the puck for a St. Louis/Los Angeles game. The goalie, Manny Legacy (ph), slipped on the carpet, hurt his hip and had to leave the game.

Now we've all heard that Senator Biden is long winded. But now we have visual proof thanks to a cub reporter with a tired arm.

Fifth grader Damon Weaver (ph) asked Biden what a vice president does. As the senator went on and on, Damon's arm sagged.

SEN. JOE BIDEN, (D) VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When the president comes up with an idea . . .

MOOS: Sometimes weighing a candidates' words can be heavy lifting.

Jeanne Moos, CNN.

DAMON WEAVER: Senator Biden's now my home boy.


HARRIS: You'll love this. An Orlando news caster is getting a lot of exposure since she asked Vice Presidential Candidate Joe Biden some tough question. Here's one of them. Have a listen.


BARBARA WEST, WFTV ANCHOR: How is Senator Obama not being a marxist if he intends to spread the wealth around.

SEN JOE BIDEN, (D) VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Are you joking? Is this a joke?


BIDEN: Or is that a real question?

WEST: That's a question.


HARRIS: Well, after chuckling, Biden said the statement was "a ridiculous comparison." He said Obama's not spreading the wealth around but talking about giving the middle class an opportunity to get back the tax breaks they used to have. Here's what the news caster WFTV's Barbara West told CNN's "American Morning" today.


BARBARA WEST, WFTV ANCHOR: I'm doing the job that I was hired to do, that in fact all of our reporters and news anchor are hired to do. We are a hard news, breaking news station. We are expected to challenge people and to dig for information and to be investigative and to break new ground in news. That is what we do. That's what we are all about. And that is why we are set definitely the dominant news station here in central Florida.

As far as how the campaign reacted to this, I mean, I just think it's silly. I'm going to take my ball and go play someplace else?


HARRIS: Wow. The Orlando Sentinel reports the Obama campaign will not grant the station any more interviews. And we have a special guest . . .

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: I'd like you meet my son Willy. This is Willy, my favorite.

HARRIS: Well, am I being replaced here? What's going on here, Willy? PHILLIPS: Yes. Let me tell you what. Willy goes to the Ron Clark Academy here in Atlanta. I don't know if you've seen the big YouTube craze, you know, they've been rapping the Obama/McCain song. There it is.

HARRIS: Oh, I've seen this. Yes, yes, yes.

PHILLIPS: Can you see Willy getting down in the front there.

HARRIS: This is to that -- that popular song that the kids like from that rapper T.I. guy.

PHILLIPS: You know T.I. All right. So, here we go. You want to give us a little bit and then Tony's going to take you out of here. This is a little tease for what's coming up in my hour.

HARRIS: All right.

PHILLIPS: You ready? Let's go Willy.

WILLY: Taxes dropping low, don't you know. (INAUDIBLE) going to float (ph). (INAUDIBLE) our show are coming we'll vote (ph).

HARRIS: Outstanding! Baby, you rock.

The next hour of CNN NEWSROOM starts with this lady, Kyra Phillips, right now.