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America Votes

Aired November 04, 2008 - 15:00   ET


RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Coming at you now: America votes. History is being made, and we have got you covered. Blacks, Hispanics long lines, but will the turnouts in the suburbs be the great equalizer for John McCain? We're live in precincts all over the country.

Will everyone get to vote? Will every vote be counted? Ali Velshi manning our voter hot line.

And I will go one-on-one with Joe the plumber and ask him your questions.

And look at this. Hard not to stare, isn't it? What if the issues were the only issue in this election? What you say today on Twitter, Facebook, and more. This national conversation, lunchtime in the West, 3:00 in the East, begins now.


SANCHEZ: And hello again, everybody.

Now we start to get serious. The bewitching hour is almost here. Many people are going to be upset. Many people are going to be happy. It depends on the turnout. And they are still voting all over the country.

As a matter of fact, what we're going to do through the hour is take you all over the country, pictures like these. You are seeing Denver, Colorado. You are seeing parts of Baltimore. In Denver, of course, it is a very important state. It's a place that some people are calling a very important battleground state. And that is what makes the difference in this case.

Here is why this particular election is so important. As you look at these pictures, consider this information brought to us by political scientists all over the country. There is a possibility that, by the time this election is done, more people will have voted this time around than they have in 100 years. Think about that. This may be the highest voter turnout in 100 years in the United States.

You would have to go back to 1908, when the voter turnout was 66 percent, or go back to 1960, when it was 64 percent. Both of those, they expect to pass this time around. Why? Why is that happening? It is because, previously, when people would vote in the United States in the 1800s, it was person-to-person contact. And now, today, they are saying for the first time in this country in a long time, that same person-to-person contact has taken place.

Where? On MySpace, on Twitter, on Facebook. People are talking to each other again. And that is why we are going to be joined in just a little bit by Jade. She is one of the people who is talking to other voters, as is Maru, who is also going to be joining us in a little bit, Jade from the right, Maru from the left, but both of them socially engage.

And that's how we're going to be picking up on that topic in just a little bit. Let me do this.

Before we do anything else, we do need to let you know that we are election central for any irregularities.

Johnny B. Goode, let's do that. Let's got to that hot line that we have there. This is the CNN voter hot line. You see the number there is 877-GO-CNN-8. But this is what I want you to pay particularly attention to. Look at the cursor over here. Come on over here and I will show you what we are talking about.

This is how many calls right there. You see that curser moving? Go in tight there. Go in tight, so they can see the number. See that right there, 69,566 calls that we have gotten from people all over the country.

All right. Now show them the map. OK, these are the places we're getting -- you notice where these calls are coming in from? The more orange the state, the more calls we're getting, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Virginia, Arizona, Colorado, interesting, a lot of these being of course battleground states.

Ali Velshi is joining us now. He is going to be manning this desk for us. He's been getting a lot of the reaction and handling these calls.

How many of these are serious? What kind of things are we hearing about all over the country?

ALI VELSHI, CNN SENIOR BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Well, just since polls have opened today, we have received another 17,500 calls. This is updating very rapidly.

We have put about 11,000 of those through the system. And that means those are real complaints. Those are not just -- we are getting a lot of people calling us with questions about where they can vote, where they can go.

I will tell you how this breaks down. Right now, it is neck in neck between mechanical problems -- that's problems with voting machines malfunctioning or failing -- and registration issues. And we are confronting a lot of that. Registration issues tend to be people who are not on the registration list.

The third biggest issue that we are facing, you just showed it on today, the lineups. That is called poll access, people who are having trouble getting in there for lines. Those are the three biggest issue that we're facing right now.

Now, I spoke to a voter named Rachel Near (ph) in Columbus, Ohio. She had called in to our voter response line, our voter hot line, 877- GOCNN08. And here is the message she left us. Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hello. Even though I presented the correct identification, I was forced to vote by provisional ballot, because of a problem that actually is not a problem, according to state law. Afterwards, I did contact the board of elections locally and they admitted that it is a mistake.


VELSHI: Now, Rick, because of the way you interact with your viewers on this show, it's really important to let people know it is very helpful, because, when people call us, because of the volume of calls we are getting, we are able to spot trends.

So, we were able to contact the state board of electors. We were able to contact Rachel, who left us that call. And Mary Snow is in Columbus, Ohio, so we have all circled back and here is what we found out.

Rachel was correct. She should have been allowed to vote. She had moved. Her driver's license did not reflect her new address, but that doesn't have to be the case in the state of Ohio. But we spoke to a professor at Ohio State University, Edward Foley, who says that it is remarkably complicated, the provisional ballot law.

Now, here's the thing. Rachel was given a provisional ballot. She did vote. Her ballot will not be counted in tonight's total. It will be counted sometime between the next six and 10 days. She did the right thing, but the state board of electors and the secretary of state says that they now going to proactively speak to judges across Ohio and let them know because the provisional balloting is so complicated there that they can accept that sort of identification.


VELSHI: So, hopefully, because of Rachel's call, other people will have an easier time of it.

SANCHEZ: Hang with me here, Ali. There's something I want to get to.


SANCHEZ: I have been looking at some of the voter turnout numbers that have been coming in from all over the country, and they are massive.

Look, Los Angeles, they are saying they're going to have a record breaker -- a record-breaking turnout there. That is in Orange County and that's according to "The L.A. Times." In Georgia, they're talking about it being up 30 percent. Texas, this is "The Dallas Morning News." They are expecting 68 percent, higher than ever.

Ohio, Monroe County there, 80 percent they are talking about. These are numbers that we have not heard about in this country in years. In fact, you heard what I said just moments ago -- 1908 was the last time we had more than 66 percent. They're saying they might be able to have more than that now.

If that is the case, isn't that the biggest problem for these folks that are handling these things?


VELSHI: Yes. As I told you, as we're looking at mechanical and registration problems, if this is the case, what will happen is, as people who are leaving work maybe early, maybe at the normal time to go and vote, thinking that it might take them an hour, and if they have to spend two or three or fours hours, what happens is, it could end up delaying poll closings.

Now, if you're in line, you generally get to vote. But the bottom line is, they still can't count those ballots, which means we won't get results. Now, will people stay in line and vote? Probably. We are not yet seeing the poll access problems, which is that code, popping up to number one. But it is the number-three concern right now.

People are very concerned about the amount of time it is taking them.

SANCHEZ: We're going to be following some of those states.

VELSHI: We will be.

SANCHEZ: As a matter of fact, let's do this. Ali, we will be checking back with you throughout the show.


SANCHEZ: Let's do this if we can right now. Let's go to Florida. That is obviously one of the big headaches for a lot of election officials, or at least it has been in the past.

Tallahassee, Florida, is where we're going, the state capital. Sean Callebs is standing by now to bring us up to date on what is going on there. Sean, what are you hearing? What it the turnout like? Fill us in.

SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Rick, all good points.

The turnout in Florida is going to be huge. We know that 4.4 million people have already voted early and we have got all kinds of folks over here making their voices heard. Basically, this polling station here has been really subdued throughout the day, but it has really I would say picked up in the last little bit.

You see Palin supporters. You see Obama supporters out here. If we can bring the camera back this way, I want to talk just a bit about what is going on inside these polling places. Rick, I know you have spent a lot of time talking with first-time voters this year. But we had a chance to grab a handful of people, mostly students. Listen to what they had to say, what concerns them, the issues, the candidates.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Most of my friends have actually early voted already. I was the lazy one that decided to get up on Tuesday.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are seniors right now, so we're looking to the economy, making sure things are OK for us to at least find a job.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You can register as many people as you want, but we all know that, if they are not here, it doesn't matter.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This election means something to us, and it is not just in our parents' hands. It is in our generation's hands as well.


CALLEBS: Boy, nothing pulls them out of the woodwork like a camera, Rick. How about that?

SANCHEZ: I'm wondering -- I heard Ali mention and I'm wondering if you have seen any of this down in Florida -- the whole idea of provisional ballots and people being told, sorry, but we're not going to let you vote. Are you seeing or hearing any reports of that?

CALLEBS: Yes. We can tell you that provisional ballots, the no- match -- for the provisional ballots, a big problem here.

We talked to one young girl, and the no-match law, voter verification, her driver's license didn't match her exact voter registration. The problem was, they spelled her name wrong. So listen to what happened to her. She is very disappointed. A college kid, she really looked forward to voting.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They actually spelled my last name wrong, so it didn't match my Social Security number. So, I was not able to vote for this election. I had to do a provisional ballot.


CALLEBS: OK. So, a couple of things I also want to point out, Rick.

Florida has two time zones. Everybody is reporting that the polls close at 8:00, which is true, because it will be 7:00 Central time. Now, the secretary of state is concerned that people who live in the Eastern time zone may think they can vote until 8:00. That is not the case. But I want to cut through here just a minute of all this craziness we have out here. Where is our guy? Look at this. This is one thing, Rick. We have got a guy in a bear costume out there. Beat that, huh? Beat that.

SANCHEZ: Probably Mike Ditka.

All right, thanks a lot. Great report, as usual, Sean Callebs down there in Tallahassee. We will be checking back with him.

We are also going to be taking you to Ohio. We are going to be taking you to Pennsylvania

And, right now, we're going to be taking you to Richmond, Virginia. This is a key state. This is one of those that they are calling must-wins for John McCain.

Dan Lothian is checking things out there for us now and he is joining us. Dan, what is the situation there now in Richmond?

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN BOSTON BUREAU CHIEF: Well, Rick, compared to Sean Callebs, I feel like we have just walked into the library. Things are so quiet here this afternoon, but compared to this morning, it is unbelievable.

We had so many people lined up here. In fact, the polls opened up at 6:00 this morning. There were people lined up from 4:00 this morning. The line was snaking out that door behind me, wrapping down through this parking lot and then going down the block.

But one thing that we noticed as we were talking to people who are lined up in that line, the rain was coming down, the temperature was dropping as well, and they were all energized, happy to be here, certainly frustrated by the long lines, but they said that this was important because this is a historic day.

Now, elections officials are telling us that they are very encouraged because 10 percent of the more than five million registered voters did cast absentee ballots. So they believe that that was able to relieve some of the pressure from the big crowds here today -- Rick.

SANCHEZ: I think a lot of what is happening, too, is a lot of people have actually voted. Early voting I think has made a difference in a lot of these cases.

LOTHIAN: That's right.

SANCHEZ: Let me just share some numbers with you here. The place where Dan is, the demographic breakdown as we always like to say is 56 percent black, 38 percent white. Let me give you where our other reporter was moments ago. This is Sean Callebs -- 72 percent white, 22 percent black, things that may be important as we follow this thing all the way through.

There is something else that I'm going to want everyone to see now. As you know, Jade Morey is an activist for John McCain. Maru Gonzalez is an activist for Barack Obama. I want you guys to take a look at this picture that we're about to put up right now. We're going to be talking about it on the way out. Look at that. What does it make you think?

We will be right back.


SANCHEZ: And we welcome you back. These are pictures we are getting in now from Henderson, Nevada.

We told you moments ago we are going be taking you all over the country during this hour. Nevada, five electoral votes, seems to be leaning Obama right now, was with Bush in past in 2004 and 2000. So, it would be a bit of a surprise. They have a Republican governor, as you know, and their senators are Harry Reid. He is the Senate majority lead. The junior senator is Republican John Ensign.

So, that is the situation there as we follow it. So, that is the situation there as we follow it. Obviously, as we get pictures of people voting or any live situation, we are going to taking you to it right away.

Now, let's go back to that picture that I have talked about. We introduced this topic yesterday on the social networks, on Twitter and MySpace and Face -- and the reaction was phenomenal.

We waited a day to do the story. This is coming to us from the Grey Group. They put this together. They have billboards in New York. It is already in newspapers around the country. We jumped on it yesterday, and it is, if nothing else, a conversation piece, one that happens to be very timely, given what is going on in this country right now.

We have got a panel to talk about this. They are Ron Ceballos. He's actually the creator who put this poster together. He's joining us there. Ron, give us a smile.


SANCHEZ: Good. Let's go to Marc Morial, too. He is with the Urban League.


SANCHEZ: He's going to be joining us as part of this conversation.

I am kind of going to turn this over to the folks who have been watching this with us. This is almost like a mini-controversy that developed over the last couple of days. I also want to let our viewers know that from time to time we are going to be showing you pictures during this conversation of the lines and the voting process all over the country. But let's go to Twitter. Let me start with this. This is KMiley. She is watching right now. She sent us this. "If McCain was black, everyone would howl about his divorce and graduating at the bottom of his class."

Marc, let me start with you. Is there a different standard here? And is that part of the conversation in America?

MORIAL: That is interesting, because differential standards have been part of the conversation in America, but perhaps this is an election because of the meltdown and the seriousness of our economic problems that, for many Americans, they have stepped beyond predominant consideration of race in how they vote today.

So, it will be interesting to see as the returns come in how far we have come. I think perhaps this may be a turning point for us.

SANCHEZ: Here is another one, it says, from Pepsi: "As others have said, Obama is as much black as he is white. In my case, that is not an issue."

Is he right? Are we making more of this than we should be making? Ron, to you.

CEBALLOS: I think, really, the focus now should lie on the issues, as opposed to whether he is black or white. Of course, you know, it is a very important issue that he is black, and that he would be our first president, but really that should not be the focus.


SANCHEZ: That is why you made this poster. Is that right?

CEBALLOS: Exactly.

SANCHEZ: That is the point that you were trying to make, correct?

CEBALLOS: Indeed, very much so. We wanted to draw attention to the issue that this race is not about being black or white, but, really, it's about the issues.

SANCHEZ: But it brings people right to the table with their thoughts about this very topic. Let me show you this one. This one came in. Womanist Musings just sent this. She says: "You speak as though a black nominee would even be possible from the racist GOP party."

Now, that is obviously a very heated opinion and a very heated comment. Most people would argue that, if they would had put Colin Powell or Condoleezza Rice on the Republican ticket, they would actually do very well, because it has as much to do with ideology as it does skin color on both sides. Am I wrong, gentlemen?

MORIAL: Let me answer this I think it is interesting to talk about what-ifs, to talk about hypothetical. I think what we see is art. And art is a way to comment on politics. But this is a serious election. The fact of the matter is, is that Barack Obama is an African-American, but Barack Obama is also a person whose has appealed to a broad swathe of the American public.

And I believe that what this says is that, in the future, the way in which elections are waged is who can put the broadest coalitions together, who has the broadest appeal, not the narrowest appeal, not just an appeal based on race or based on ideology or based on wedge issues. That is why perhaps this election is a turning point.


SANCHEZ: But your race has to do with who you are. Sometimes, it can affect your ideology.

Here is a comment we get from someone on Twitter as well. Trianglman says: "I have a harder time imagining a white Obama since his skin color and racism forged much of his world view."

You know, Maru, as you look at this, you think, well, here is a guy who does have a global view of the world and some people are going to vote for him for that very reason, right?


I think there's always going to be people like that. But I think his candidacy goes beyond black and white. I think it really demonstrates the potential for meritocracy in this country. He was not born with a famous last name. He wasn't born with a silver spoon in his mouth. He wasn't born out of wealth.

So, I think that is something that can inspire all of us, because his story is the American story. He embodies the American dream.

SANCHEZ: How much, Jade, has race come into this conversation? People say -- I have been getting nothing but Twitters from people yelling at me today. Why are you even doing this? Let's leave race out of it. Let's just stick to the issues.

But, yet, they're all talking about it. It is kind of like a car accident on your way home, isn't it?

JADE MOREY, MCCAIN SUPPORTER: It has been something that folks have been talking about, not so much in the media. There is no denying that Senator Obama is definitely motivating the African- American and minority communities.

There's a great deal of folks who are voting for him simply because of that. That is not to say that it is OK for them to vote for him because of that, as well as it's not OK to vote against him because he is a minority.

SANCHEZ: But there are people that you suspect that don't know the issues that well, but are going to vote for him because his skin pigment is like mine?

MOREY: There's a great deal of them, yes.

SANCHEZ: Point well made. All right, we will talk about this throughout the newscast.

And we're also going to be following everything else that is going on out there. McCain has to win Ohio, perhaps as much as any other state. These are live pictures that we're going to be bringing you from the battleground states. This is Columbus, Ohio. We will be breaking down this particular precinct for you as well, as we will other places in the country. We will have live reports. And we will be joined by our panel here. Our thanks to them.

Stay with us. Ohio is next. We will be right back.


SANCHEZ: And we welcome you back to the world headquarters of CNN. I'm Rick Sanchez.

I know, you are all but screaming at me through our Twitter board over here about Joe the plumber. I get it. Calm down. Doesn't everyone have a right to be heard in this country? Your questions and mine for Joe the plumber, that is ahead. He is going to join us live.

Also, all states are important, but many are saying, if there is one must-win for John McCain, it's Ohio. So, that is where we are going to take you next.

Stay with us.


SANCHEZ: All right. We have got some live pictures we're going to be showing you all day long from the different battleground states. This particular shot is coming in to us from Ohio. Is that right? This is Columbus, Ohio, one of the obviously battleground states, a must-win they say for John McCain.

Susan Candiotti is joining us now. She is in Cleveland, Ohio, to give us an update on what is going on there. Susan, fill us in.

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, there has been a light but steady turnout the day so far, with the exception of the morning, where they did have long lines outside this library location. But now, as I said, it's sort of spread out throughout the day, and we expect things to pick up naturally at the end of the day.

I have to show you, Rick, this is a pretty neat souvenir. Front page of "The Cleveland Plain Dealer" today, it has photographs of all of the U.S. presidents and then at the tail end you have a picture of Barack Obama and John McCain, and the headline of course is, who's next? Pick one. Who will be the 44th president? A nice thing to save, especially if you are a child, a student around here. That's for sure. I have to tell you that they also had one minor glitch here, which was kind of interesting, in the Cuyahoga County area. They have a two-page ballot here in Cuyahoga County, in the Cleveland area. One page includes the presidential candidates. One strictly has state issues. Four people this morning at a precinct only got the second page.


CANDIOTTI: Well, the problem, thankfully, was quickly corrected. And those old ballots were voided and they got the right thing. So, so far, so good.

SANCHEZ: Susan Candiotti following this there for us in Cleveland, Ohio, a key, pivotal, how many other words can I come up with, state. That's why we're going to be following it throughout the course of the evening. Thank you so much, Susan.

Let's bring in Jade Morey (ph) and Maru Gonzalez.

There's a big part of the conversation. If we get as they say more than 66 percent of the voters going to the polls today, it would be something that has not been seen in this country in 100 years. Will that be, as many political scientists are theorizing, as a result of you guys?

The young people of the United States have come up with a socially networking. My generation, I would not pick up the phone and call somebody and ask them, who are you voting for and what are you doing? You guys are doing that, right? Right? Is that the difference?

GONZALEZ: I that is absolutely part of the difference. And Barack Obama, I will give him a lot of credit for that, because he has really reached out to young voters. A lot of time, politicians...


SANCHEZ: Did he reach out to them or did they reach out to him?

GONZALEZ: I think he reached out to them and they reached out to him. I think his message is definitely resonating with young voters. But doing things like text-messaging, Facebook, MySpace,, all of those things have helped to reach out to younger voters.

SANCHEZ: But it is on both sides, right? Because the GOP has done the same things with their Web sites that they didn't have 10 years ago.

MOREY: Yes. And the GOP actually was ahead of the curve -- the Democrats for a couple years. And it started back in the last presidential campaign. And it has greatly increased this time around. A lot of the focus is on the phone banking and all kinds -- through the Internet, you can actually go and pull up people's information. SANCHEZ: So, people talk to each other, not necessarily to John McCain's people? They can literally talk to each other without having to reach --

MOREY: You can start groups and within a matter of hours, it's thousands of people are in the group. And then you can send out messages to them or you can forward e-mails.

And it also has a lot to do with making it easier to vote. That is a big deal, getting that information out there.


SANCHEZ: One quick question before we go. Do you concede that, while the GOP may have been on board before, Barack Obama has really lassoed this idea and perfected it?


MOREY: Absolutely.


MOREY: And a great deal of money has been pumped up -- pumped in to technological advances.

SANCHEZ: As a conservative Republican, you would concede that at this point?


SANCHEZ: It doesn't mean you may not take it back.

MOREY: They have a good operation. Of course, they have a lot more money than we do this time around, this campaign does, so --

SANCHEZ: John King is going to be joining us in just a little bit. We're going to be talking about electoral groups and specifically who they are.

The Hispanic vote -- who is it voting for?The black vote -- some would say that's a little more obvious. How about the white vote? How about the college-educated white vote? How about the non-college educated white vote? These are interesting parsings that we're going to be doing for you in just a little bit.

Also, some from both campaigns will be joining us to talk about how they're doing on this day. The latest news -- the latest updates.

Stay with us. We'll be right back.


SANCHEZ: There seems to be a pattern that we're seeing around the country. We're looking at situations where a lot of the places -- the precincts where people are voting don't have the same amount of lines that they did for early voting.

Does that mean that a lot of people who were really enthused about this got the voting out of the way? It's certainly curious.

What does it mean for Barack Obama and for John McCain? Figure it out, let us know and we'll continue this part of the conversation. Here's what we want to do right now. We're going to turn things over to two spokespersons -- one for Barack Obama and the other for John McCain. But rather than me asking them the questions, I'm going to let their representative also ask the question on this side.

We'll start with Maru Gonzales. She is an activist for Barack Obama, an alternate delegate at the convention. And she is going to ask the first question of Stephanie Cutter. Take it away, Maru.

GONZALEZ: Yes, Stephanie, I am beside myself. I'm so nervous I can't eat, I can't sleep. I have to know, what do the numbers look like for Barack Obama?

STEPHANIE CUTTER, SENIOR ADVISER, OBAMA CAMPAIGN: Well, Maru, we feel very good. You know, it's too early to call anything. We're still several hours away from the first polling places closing. But we feel very good. We did very well in the early vote in some key states. There have been reports of long lines in some states. But, you know, we take that as a good indication. There's lots of enthusiasm out there thanks to people like you. And we think that, you know, long lines are good for us today. That means that the enthusiasm is still there.

We are calmly sitting here in Chicago, waiting for these polling places to close. But we feel pretty good about where we are right now.

GONZALEZ: And what do you think is going to make the difference in this election?

CUTTER: Well, I think Barack Obama...


CUTTER: I think that, you know, people like you. I think that people like you all over the country. We've had an enormous amount of energy throughout the course of this campaign. This is the culmination of a two year process of bringing people together of all races and creeds and ages and backgrounds.

And, you know, we've had millions of people, even this past weekend, coming out and volunteering for our campaign. The energy is very high.

And I think the difference is that, you know, Barack Obama has always said that the change comes from the ground up. And the movement that's been created over the past two years, people who have come out to support Barack Obama and his message of change, is really what's making the difference today.

SANCHEZ: There you go. Nancy Pfotenhauer is coming up next. But we want to thank you, Stephanie Cutter.

CUTTER: Thank you.

SANCHEZ: And, Maru, good job.

GONZALEZ: Thank you.

SANCHEZ: Well done.

CUTTER: Thanks, Maru.

SANCHEZ: I like that big beaming smile on your face.

All right, let's go to the other side now. You know, here's an opportunity for you to talk to Nancy Pfotenhauer and ask her, Jade, your questions.

MOREY: OK. Nancy, how are you doing? I just want to know how our GoTV efforts -- are they proving fruitful? I know I was out until about 3:00 a.m. The other night putting up signs all around Atlanta, so -- trying to get our average Joes out there to the polls. How is it looking?

NANCY PFOTENHAUER, SENIOR ADVISER, MCCAIN CAMPAIGN: It's looking fabulous right now. We have such intensity of support. Our folks are turning out in record numbers. We've had record contacts that have been going on every single day. I worked the phones myself yesterday for a few hours and I had a blast. I called into Virginia and Pennsylvania. I talked to so many people who not only said they were voting, they would volunteer their spouses voting, their kids were going to show up and vote. Their kids were coming home from college, in some instances, just to cast their vote in this election.

And they would end the call by thanking me for calling them at home and basically interrupting their day to remind them to come out and vote for John McCain and Sarah Palin. So they're very excited and we're very excited.

MOREY: I've gotten pretty much the same reaction. Usually I've worked for candidates in the past and they get annoyed when you call them. But this time around for, you know, McCain-Palin, they're like thank God for all of the work you're doing. We're so exciting.

You know, one thing I've noticed with my friends that are in college, I didn't have to tell them to vote. I didn't have to give them a registration form. They did it theirselves. Their parents didn't do it. They went out and did it. And they are people that had no interest in politics before and they thought I was crazy. But now they're just as into it as I am.


MOREY: So that's been very good to see.

PFOTENHAUER: That's exactly the case. I mean, just to use my family as a microcosm, I've got five teenagers, three of whom are old enough to vote. And, you know, these are kids that you'd have to nag five or six times to get them to do something in -- that was directly in their own interests in a typical day.

Instead, all of them have been excited. They've all made sure to participate in this process. And we see this all over the spectrum -- younger people, older people. It's just so exciting and, you know, it's really palpable. And I think it's a great thing for this country to have everyone this engaged. And we are looking forward to a happy night. But it's probably going to be a long one.

SANCHEZ: Yes. It probably will be a long one. Who knows?

I mean just getting the ballots over to a place where they can start to count them after they're done voting is going to take a heck of a process.

Nancy Pfotenhauer, thanks so much. We appreciate your time. Jade, good questions. Well done.

MOREY: My pleasure.

SANCHEZ: Interesting conversation.

We'll continue in just a little bit. Hopefully, we're going to be able to get -- wrap up with John King in a little bit, who is going to take us through some of the demographic breakdowns.

And then "Joe the Plumber" -- yes, that "Joe the Plumber" is going to be joining us here live to take your questions and mine.

We'll be right back.


SANCHEZ: All right. Here we go. Obama will likely win the African-American vote in a real, big way, for obvious reasons. He'll also likely win the Hispanic vote because of the immigration backlash against the Republicans which was, by the way, no fault of John McCain's.

So what's left? The college-educated white vote -- traditionally Republican, it could be John McCain's. And then there's the non- college educated white vote. And that looks real good for John McCain. One big reason for that, three words -- "Joe the Plumber."

How did that happen? Joe Wurzelbacher joins me live next.


SANCHEZ: Probably nobody in this campaign has been referred to more by his acronym or slash name than "Joe the Plumber." His real name is Joe Wurzelbacher. And he's good enough to join us now to bring us up to date on what's going on with them -- Joe, are you there?

JOE WURZELBACHER, "JOE THE PLUMBER": Oh, hey, I'm doing good. How about yourself today? SANCHEZ: Good. Good.

Man, we -- I've got to tell you, just to be completely open about this, so many people have been writing to me today saying why are you talking to this guy, why are you talking to this guy?

So here's your chance to answer a lot of the questions that I've been getting from a lot of them. And I'll start with just probably the most curious question that a lot of people have.

Why would you be so upset about people who clear more than $250,000 a year having to pay taxes when you're nowhere near that category? Is that a fair question? Can you give me answer?

WURZELBACHER: I mean, you know, they're not going to like the answer. Because it's called principles, you know? I mean that's what it comes down to to me. I don't want someone else's money. You know, let me make my money. And, you know, what if you get the opportunity to make that kind of money and all of a sudden the government is going to take it from you?

You know, I'm not riding on anybody else's back I can't do on my own.

SANCHEZ: But you are not in a situation where you're going to be able to make that money any time soon. You're nowhere near being able to buy a business that clears more than $250,000 a year, because that would take millions and millions of dollars, right?

WURZELBACHER: So it's OK to go out and rob a bank then?

I don't understand the logic. That doesn't make any sense, brother. I mean, it's called principles. And I'm not trying to be, you know, disrespectful toward you, it's just principles. That money belongs to them. It doesn't belong to me. I didn't work for it.

SANCHEZ: No. No disrespect taken. The point is that we do have a system in the United States where somebody has to pay for fixing the roads, for the infrastructure, for the police department, for the firefighters who come out and put out the fire in your house. So who, if not those who make a lot of money should be paying those taxes?

WURZELBACHER: Well, you know, you're getting only one part of that. What's the second part is you're forgetting -- or the person that wants to know the answer to the question is, you know, the people who don't work or don't work very much and, you know, support those fine establishments you're talking about as far as our roads and fire departments, police departments, aren't paying into it at all. And so they're going to actually get more or they're going to get money back from my hard work? That doesn't seem right. I mean, taxes are necessary.

SANCHEZ: So wait.


SANCHEZ: So wait. Am I hearing you correct?

Did you just say you want people who make less than $250 to be taxed more and people who make over $250 to be taxed less? You think it's a little -- it's a skew now and you want to fix it?

WURZELBACHER: No. Nowhere in what I just said did I say anything about people who make less than $250,000 should pay more. I didn't say that at all.

SANCHEZ: So you would -- well, because you just said that they are not taxed. They don't pay their share. So, guys, the money has got to come from somewhere, Joe?

WURZELBACHER: Oh, yes. But does it have to -- you know, take in more from someone else that's worked just -- you know, harder in their lifetime or gotten better breaks is not right. I mean, you can -- you can disagree with it, but the fact is right is right and wrong is wrong. I mean, it's not an opinion here. I mean you don't take money away from someone who's worked more or had, you know, better breaks and give it to other people.

SANCHEZ: Wait. But under --


SANCHEZ: But under this system, you're the one who's going to benefit. Look, I looked it up on The average plumber makes --

WURZELBACHER: Oh, yes, but they're (INAUDIBLE) --

SANCHEZ: The average plumber makes $37,000 a year. So I don't know how much you make, but --

WURZELBACHER: I make more than that, but I'm not in the six figures. I work damn hard for my money.

SANCHEZ: Well, it's just kind of hard to figure out. I mean, you don't have a license. You're not registered as a plumber. You owe back taxes of $1,200. A hospital is asking you -- St. Charles Hospital -- Mercy Hospital is asking you for $1,100 --

WURZELBACHER: No, hold it. Hold on. You know, hold on one second, brother. I've got a question for you.

SANCHEZ: Go ahead.

WURZELBACHER: Why are you vetting me out and you haven't done this with Obama? You're sitting here asking me all these insane questions. I asked a question of a public -- an elected public official --


WURZELBACHER: And you're going to ask me these questions?

SANCHEZ: No, no, no, no, no. Joe --

WURZELBACHER: This is kind of ridiculous, man.

SANCHEZ: Hey, Joe. You've gone on the air and endorsed John McCain. You are no longer --


SANCHEZ: You are no longer just Joe private person. You have thrust yourself into this campaign...

WURZELBACHER: Wait a minute. Hold on --

SANCHEZ: -- by holding news conferences, talking to reporters and endorsing a candidate.


SANCHEZ: You have to be asked the tough questions, my friend. That's the way it works in this country.

WURZELBACHER: Well, you know, ask good questions. Like why don't you ask what I'm going to do for -- you know, what I'm going to do now?And, you know, I have --

SANCHEZ: Well, the good question is this, why is a guy who's not even licensed as a plumber, is nowhere near making $250,000 a year to clear, asking why it is that people who make that kind of money could be taxed? It just --

WURZELBACHER: All right, brother, you know --

SANCHEZ: I can --


SANCHEZ: I guess that the question is --

WURZELBACHER: I'll answer the question. I'll answer it.


WURZELBACHER: You know, I've answered it once. I'll answer it one more time.


WURZELBACHER: And you're not going to understand it. Again, it's called principles. Look it up and then you'll figure it out, man.

SANCHEZ: And your principles say that somebody who makes a lot of money should not be taxed?

WURZELBACHER: No. Look up principles and read the definition. Get it right out of "Webster's" and you'll understand it maybe. It's talking about taking someone's money and taxing them at a harder rate because they make more than you, they've worked harder than you? I mean, you know, cry me a river, man.

SANCHEZ: Well, some people would argue that actually the way the system is right now, that those people over $250,000 -- in fact, that seems to be Obama's argument -- aren't paying their fair share like they were, perhaps, in the 1960s and that it's imbalanced. I suppose you would disagree with that?

WURZELBACHER: A flat tax. Well, what about a flat tax? You know, would you be for that? Would that be fairer for you?

SANCHEZ: Yes, as a matter of fact I've done stories on flat taxes. I think it's a remarkable idea.

WURZELBACHER: I'm all about a flat tax. Obama doesn't want to go there. He actually -- if you look at the rest of my interview with that...


WURZELBACHER: -- (INAUDIBLE) interview, but as far as he was in my yard, I asked him about a flat tax.

SANCHEZ: But neither does McCain.


SANCHEZ: So why are you bringing that up?

WURZELBACHER: Well, because, you're bringing up stuff that's insignificant to the question that I asked. I mean you're -- you want to talk about my license. I've come out on the record and said yes, I don't have a license in this state.

SANCHEZ: All right.


SANCHEZ: Joe -- hey, Joe?


SANCHEZ: I'll tell you what. It's a good discussion. We're getting some different perspectives that you've shared with our viewers. And I appreciate you taking the time to talk to us today.

WURZELBACHER: See you later.

SANCHEZ: All right, man. God bless.

Ali Velshi joining us now. Apparently, there's some new information that's coming in that we've got to get to -- Ali, what you got?

VELSHI: I want to tell you about what's going on. We're getting an increasing number of callers from Pennsylvania, which we're all obviously looking at as a place where both Obama and McCain are hoping to make serious inroads and claim as victory.

Let me tell you about a call. This is a voter hotline. You see the number on the side of the page. We're getting in excess of 60,000 calls now. We've had about 20,000 today -- just this morning about calls. Let's listen to what Jody from Pennsylvania has told us.


JODY, VOTER FROM PENNSYLVANIA: I went to my poll to vote this morning. And I had to fill out a provisional ballot because my name was left off. And I've been voting at the same place for over 10 years now.


VELSHI: All right. And, Rick, we're getting a number of calls from people who are having problems on the registration rolls. Now, if you look at the graph of what we're getting in, we're getting these calls into a line. We're staffing it with CNN and InfoVoter Technologies.

Registration and mechanical problems are the two things that are neck and neck right now. In fact, registration problems have outweighed mechanical problems. And that may be because of the hour of the day, where people are now lining up to vote.

So we're keeping a very close eye, Ohio and Pennsylvania, a lot of registration problems being -- and identification problems being reported. We're on top of it with the voter hotline -- Rick.

SANCHEZ: All right. Ali Velshi, as usual, filling us in on all the stuff that's going on out there. And we're going to be checking in on it from time to time.


SANCHEZ: In the meantime, I've got Maru and Jade here standing by, kind of feeling a little of the tension in the room when we were doing the interview with "Joe the Plumber." A good interview? Thumbs up?


SANCHEZ: A little nervous, a little OK? All right. We'll talk about that, as well.

When we come back, Pennsylvania another key state -- the Keystone State.

Stay with us. We'll be right back.


SANCHEZ: And my thanks to albie for that. We're getting a lot of comments on that interview. What did you guys think? -- Jade, Maru?

We'll start with you -- Jade?

MOREY: Well, I think the -- that was a pretty heated conversation you had going on there. But -- and, you know, we do need to kind of steer away from his personal life, because he asked an important question that pinpointed the aspect of Senator Obama's plan. And I think that allowed a lot of information to get out, you know, on the Internet with that clip.

But what it gets at is Senator Obama's larger view of the purpose of government. And that's why they've been using the "Joe the Plumber" thing.

SANCHEZ: That's a good point.

MOREY: That's why we've been -- it's not just about the tax issue.

SANCHEZ: That --

MOREY: It's about all of the social programs and the way that he views government.

SANCHEZ: That's a very fair point -- Maru?

GONZALEZ: Well, no one would be paying any higher taxes than they did under the Clinton administration. But I think it's funny he talks about principles.

Where was -- where were his principles when he was lying about his salary, when he was lying about -- about paying his taxes?

So, you know, I think --

SANCHEZ: That's an interesting point, as well.

GONZALEZ: I think he's a joke. Yes. He's just a caricature.

SANCHEZ: Good points both way. Brian Todd standing by in Philadelphia. Went with John Kerry. At least that part of the state did. Will they do it again -- Brian, fill us in on what's going on there.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Rick, a lot of voter turnout here -- close to a record. Experts expect about six million Pennsylvanians to go to the polls. Both John McCain and Barack Obama counting on that. John Kerry won this state by a very thin margin in 2004; Al Gore the same in 2000.

The two Democrats in those two races did not win by a final margin of as much as the pre-election polls indicated they might. But Pennsylvania very closely watched.

At this particular polling station, I'm going to show you, it's been pretty free and clear for several hours now -- people going in and out of here very, very freely, being processed right through to those voting stations in the back. But earlier today, the line snaked out here, went all the way down the street. They expect that to pick up again starting about this hour, Rick, up until the 8:00 hour.

SANCHEZ: All right, Jade, Maru, more guests. We'll continue looking at the different states. And we thank you, Brian Todd.

Stay with us. We'll be right back.


SANCHEZ: The numbers we're seeing of African-Americans, in particular, who early voted are astonishing. In fact, there are districts where they're not seeing long lines because most of the people in those districts have essentially voted over the last couple of weeks.

Joining us now is Princeton Professor Melissa Harris-Lacewell. You know what it portends is a certain suspicion on the part of minorities about the voting process. Am I reading too much into it or is it out there?

PROF. MELISSA HARRIS-LACEWELL, PRINCETON UNIVERSITY: Do you mean going early to the polls indicates a kind of suspicion about the voting process?

SANCHEZ: In other words, I'm going to make sure I get this done early and I get it done right, because I don't trust them to try and let me vote on the last day. If there are long lines and they've got to kick somebody out, they'll be looking at me.

HARRIS-LACEWELL: Sure. I mean, certainly there is some suspicion. And that's been nurtured in 2000 and in 2004 with the problems in both Florida and Ohio.

But I think you don't want to underestimate that the Obama campaign has been pressing African-American voters -- in fact, all supporters in states where early voting is possible -- to go ahead and vote early -- you know, big rallies, lots of opportunities.

But part of it is just about enthusiasm, optimism and excitement -- not just about suspicion and concern for the quality of the counting of the ballots.

SANCHEZ: How big do you think the number will be among African- American voters? I know it's setting all kinds of records. Some are saying, though, 80 percent. Do you think that could happen?

HARRIS-LACEWELL: It may happen in some states. I think the key issue here is which African-Americans are showing up. And the fact that African-Americans in the South, who have been recently captured in these safe red states, where no Democrat bothered to actually come in and campaign -- the excitement about this for so many African- American voters isn't so much that there's a black candidate, as there was that there was an actual candidate who came town, who listened to what you had to say and who actually put up a fight in Southern states.

It will be an incredible thing if Virginia, North Carolina, maybe even Georgia, this time go even purple, right, toward the possibility of an Obama victory in those states.

SANCHEZ: Yes, that's interesting. In fact, somebody finally is knocking on my door and asking me what I think.


SANCHEZ: Points well made. We thank you. Melissa Harris- Lacewell, professor at Princeton University, as in Ivy League.

My thanks to you, Jade; to you, Maru; to the professor; and all of you. If you haven't voted, get out and do so.

Wolf Blitzer and "THE SITUATION ROOM" coming your way right now.