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McCain's Uphill Battle; Senator Ted Stevens Found Guilty of Corruption
Aired October 27, 2008 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CAMPBELL BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Hi there, everyone.
With just eight days to go until the election, every moment counts right now, a sense of urgency everywhere.
Barack Obama has just finished a late rally in Pennsylvania, drawing big crowds and again cranking up his soaring rhetoric. He's also going after Republican red states. He says he is still delivering -- quote -- "his closing argument."
John McCain also just finished up a big rally in Pennsylvania. Though some polls show the race getting tighter, McCain still fighting uphill with little time to turn things around now.
There is also some breaking news tonight to tell you about, an October surprise, maybe a gift for Democrats in the battle for Congress. A verdict is in. A federal jury found the Senate's longest serving Republican guilty of corruption.
And, finally, the no bias, no bull interview tonight. He has gone from basketball hero to potential politician, Charles Barkley with us. Hall of Famer, sports commentator, and possible candidate for governor of Alabama. He sits down with me for an unguarded conversation about the presidential race and racism. We will have that for you soon.
But first, cutting through the bull. It was big news when this story broke over the weekend, a shocking quote from an adviser to John McCain calling Sarah Palin a diva.
You see, apparently, the McCain campaign is frustrated with Palin. They say she is -- quote -- "going rogue," not following orders, speaking for herself, without running it past their people first.
What her people say that she is doing is trying to -- quote -- "bust free of the damaging and mismanaged rollout of her candidacy." So, the McCain campaign, in its frustration, is now speaking to the media, trying to put her in her place.
And what this McCain adviser said is that Sarah Palin is a diva, a diva who takes advice from no one, a diva who is playing for her own future here. This is an exact quote from this McCain adviser here: "Remember, divas trust only unto themselves, as they see themselves as the beginning and the end of all wisdom." Now, let's just start with the word diva. It is obviously a sexist slight, a term that is only applied to women, almost always in a derogatory way. It is usually applied to women who are viewed as overly ambitious. It is applied to demanding women, to women who follow their own path. There's really no equivalent word for men, except maybe successful.
So, with that in mind, I would applaud Sarah Palin or any other woman, for that matter, who believes she's in a damaging situation who is busting free and embracing her inner diva.
But we're going to go easy on the Helen Reddy right now, because what is really pathetic about all of this, frankly, is the hypocrisy. Almost from the moment Sarah Palin was announced as McCain's running mate, the McCain campaign has accused the media of sexism.
And, sure, in some cases, questions were raised that were sexist in nature, much the same way that Hillary Clinton dealt with sexism during the primary race. We are not yet a society free of sexism. And this will continue to be an issue for all women candidates.
But, by and large, the questions raised about Sarah Palin, and certainly the questions we raised about her, were about her qualifications and her experience and whether or not she's ready to be president of the United States, the vice president's job.
So, now, for the McCain campaign to be attacking its own candidate in the most overtly sexist way, calling her a diva, it is beyond ridiculous. Whoever this anonymous adviser is should be ashamed, or, at the very least, have the courage to say it on the record.
As someone who urged the campaign early on to free Sarah Palin, so the American people could have the opportunity to find out who she is and whether or not she is qualified for the job, I applaud Governor Palin for finally tossing those shackles aside, because, Governor, if it were Mitt Romney, Joe Lieberman, or Tom Ridge standing in your shoes right now, being mismanaged the way you feel you are, I can assure you they would have tapped into their inner divas and tossed those advisers aside a long time ago.
Now we turn to our breaking news story.
A U.S. senator is convicted of corruption. He is Alaska's Ted Stevens, the Senate's longest serving Republican. He's up for reelection for the seventh time. And a recent poll shows him running one point behind his Democratic opponent, the mayor of Anchorage.
Today's conviction, though, obviously could tip the race. And in the Democrats' battle for a filibuster-proof Senate majority right now, this could be pretty huge.
Joe Johns in Washington with the very latest for us -- Joe.
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Campbell, Senator Ted Stevens was convicted on all seven counts in his indictment about lying about gifts he got from friends and an oil company executive back home in Alaska.
The sentencing date is yet to be set. Stevens still says he's innocent. He said in a statement he's disappointed, but not surprised, accused government lawyers of prosecutorial misconduct. And he said he's going to fight the verdict with -- quote -- "every ounce of energy he has."
He said he remains a candidate for reelection next Tuesday. So, he's not pulling out of the Senate race in Alaska. His Democratic opponent is popular Alaska Mayor Mark Begich. It is a close race, but voters will have to weigh this verdict against Stevens' 40 years in the Senate aggressively region Alaska's interests.
Democrats didn't have much of a chance to win Alaska until Stevens got indicted on these federal charges. A win there, of course, would be big for Democrats. It would get them closer to that goal of a 60-seat filibuster-proof majority -- Campbell.
BROWN: And, Joe, what happens if Stevens does manage to pull it off? Does he just get to go back to work like nothing happened here?
JOHNS: Well, if he wins, it would be up to the Senate Ethics Committee and the full Senate to decide if he is allowed to stick around. Some other senators, as you know, who got into trouble resigned before they actually got kicked out.
BROWN: All right, Joe Johns for us tonight -- Joe, I appreciate it.
And we are going to see Joe a little bit later. He's going to have more on Senator Stevens and our no bias, no bull gallery.
But, first, the final lap of the presidential campaign tonight, John McCain and Barack Obama dueling for Pennsylvania. They both finished up big rallies there early this evening. Obama has got a soaring new speech that he is billing as his closing argument. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: In one week, we can choose hope over fear and unity over division, the promise of change over the power of the status quo. In one week, we can come together as one nation and one people and once more choose our better history. That's what's at stake. That's what we're fighting for. I need you this last week.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: Now, Pennsylvania polls show Obama ahead there, but nervous Democrats are warning him not to take that state for granted.
Senior political correspondent Candy Crowley in Pittsburgh for us tonight, watching Obama.
Candy, let's start where he was earlier today, in Canton, Ohio. Obama gave what his campaign has dubbed his closing argument. You were there for that speech as well. I know you have been talking to sources inside the campaign. Tell us, as he's on the move now, what key points they want to hammer home right now in these final days.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, issue wise, they're going to ride home the tax issue.
They have been pushing back very hard against John McCain, who had gotten some traction, at least in the polling early on, when they asked, do you think Barack Obama will raise your taxes? It showed that John McCain's consistent claim that Obama in fact would raise taxes on most people was really getting to voters.
So, he has been spending a lot of time saying, listen, 95 percent of people and those making $250,000 and less will all get a tax cut. So, that's where they're going policy wise. But, as you played that bite, I mean, obviously, we're kind of back to the future. That's an Iowa speech. That's a New Hampshire speech.
You are having both the prose of policy, but the poetry of hope, because that's really what brung him to this dance, if you will. And that's what he's going to go out on, Campbell.
BROWN: And, Candy, let's talk Pennsylvania. It's getting a lot of attention, John McCain making this big new push for Pennsylvania, where you are right now.
Just last week, Pennsylvania's governor, Ed Rendell, urged Obama to come back, to visit again before the election. I guess they took him up on it. So, what are you hearing? Are there actual concerns in the campaign that they could have some problems there?
CROWLEY: Not -- you know, not huge concerns, and here's why. They know that John McCain is making a play here.
And it was on Rendell's advice, obviously, and his pushing and calling to the campaign that they came back. But they have enormous confidence in their get-out-the-vote effort here in Pennsylvania and obviously elsewhere. They believe they have brought in so many new voters and they believe that they have a ground war, if you will.
Those people that stuff the envelopes, make the calls, make sure that people have gone to the polls, they really think that they have a ground game that is like none we have ever seen before.
Of course, we will -- we will probably know that next Tuesday if it lives up to their expectations.
BROWN: We certainly will. Candy Crowley for us tonight -- Candy, thanks.
John McCain also in Pennsylvania tonight, as we mentioned, with an urgent message. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: So, my friends, let's start out -- let's start out with a message tonight, we need to win Pennsylvania, and we're going to win.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: All right. So, how is he going to do it, especially given what we're hearing from the campaign, top advisers feuding with Sarah Palin's top advisers? Stand by for the very latest from inside the McCain campaign.
Plus, the all-important Electoral College map. Miles O'Brien will tell us how close those battleground states are to becoming Republican red or Democratic blue.
Also ahead, a warning about polls from none other than Charles Barkley, Basketball Hall of Famer and potential political candidate. We go one on one with him in a little bit. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHARLES BARKLEY, FORMER NBA PLAYER: I 100 percent believe the polls are flat-out useless. I think this race is going to be neck- and-neck, down to the wire.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCAIN: It's eight days to go. We're a few points down.
The pundits -- the pundits, they have written us off, as they have several times before. My opponent is working out the details with Speaker Pelosi and Senator Reid of their plans to raise your taxes...
MCCAIN: ... raise your taxes, increase spending, and concede defeat in Iraq. He's measuring the drapes. And he's planned his first address to the nation for before the election.
You know, I guess I'm -- I guess I'm old-fashioned about these things. I prefer to let the voters weigh in before...
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: John McCain desperately there trying for a comeback in Pennsylvania. This comes amid news of this widening rift between McCain's running mate, Sarah Palin, and her McCain campaign handlers. What we have been reporting is that Palin feels those advisers have damaged her by limiting her contact with reporters.
Over the weekend, McCain aides described Palin, as we said earlier, as a diva, and said she was going rogue.
Our Dana Bash is all over this story. She's in Pottsville, Pennsylvania, for us tonight.
Dana, what on earth is going on?
DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Campbell, it actually has been bubbling beneath the surface that Sarah Palin was not happy with her so-called rollout, the fact that she had just a few -- at the beginning, a few high-profile interviews that simply didn't go well.
Well, as that was reported over the weekend, sources that were involved in her preparation who would not say a word started to talk, Campbell, and they started to say, look, we weren't trying to control her access. It was simply that she was not ready.
I have a quote from one of the sources I talked to. And I will put it up on the screen for you. This source said, "Her lack of fundamental understanding of some key issues was dramatic" -- so, pretty tough stuff there, Campbell.
BROWN: Yes, but, Dana, those same people who are complaining about her now, wouldn't it have been their job to vet her and to know this early on, before she was chosen to be the vice presidential candidate?
BASH: I think the best way to answer that is that, as you know, because you have covered these things, there are certain people who are involved in vetting, and there are certain people involved in executing.
And I think that there are different people have -- who have different perspective, I think, of Sarah Palin on this issue. And, certainly, those who are involved in vetting, there was just a couple of them. Those who are involved in preparing her for these interviews, that was kind of a wider -- and for basically coming out to the media in general -- that was kind of a different group, I think that's fair to say.
And there's a feeling that those are the people who are getting blamed by Sarah Palin for deciding that her access should be controlled at the beginning. And these people are simply telling us, yes, they agree, it didn't go well, but, at the time, they felt that they really didn't have a choice.
BROWN: And, Dana, I know criticism over her makeover, her $150,000 makeover paid for by the RNC, seems to have gotten under her skin. She went off script and addressed that yesterday. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOV. SARAH PALIN (R-AK), VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Those clothes, they are not my property. Just like the lighting and the staging that everything else that the RNC purchased, I'm not taking them with me. I'm back to wearing my own clothes from my favorite consignment shop in Anchorage, Alaska.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: Kind of lashing out at the RNC there. It seems like that was the final straw for her.
BASH: That's right. She was really teed up, actually, there by Elisabeth Hasselbeck with "The View," who was with her.
Look, what her aides said she was trying to do is tell the truth, that she's not fancy; she's actually frugal. But, again, in talking to some McCain advisers after that, they said, look, they weren't that happy about that, Campbell, because they said she was keeping the story going in order to save her reputation, and that maybe she's again thinking about her future, not necessarily November 4.
And I can tell you, though, aides to Sarah Palin insist she's doing no such thing, that she's just focused on getting John McCain and herself elected next Tuesday -- Campbell.
BROWN: All right, not helpful for the campaign either way.
Dana Bash for us tonight -- Dana, thanks.
BASH: That's true.
BROWN: And we want to talk about this with the panel, their take on Governor Palin and the McCain campaign. We have got three of the sharpest observers on television, CNN senior political analyst Gloria Borger, Republican strategist and McCain supporter Kevin Madden, and "New York Daily News" columnist Errol Louis, who is also a morning host on WWRL Radio here in New York.
Gloria, let me get your take on this.
You just heard Dana. A week to go, how dangerous is this for John McCain, the thought among some in the campaign that she, as Dana just said, worried about her own future more than she is about the election?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think it's really dangerous, because we're not talking about what John McCain is saying on the stump today, as much as we're talking about Sarah Palin.
And, look, this comes down to a bunch of folks who were flown in, and they say they were trying to protect Sarah Palin. They were presented with a candidate which now we learn that they thought didn't have any particular world view, and they ought to give her a world view before they handed her out to the national media.
Her folks, on the other hand, say what they were trying to do was reinvent her. And thank you very much. Sarah Palin did very well before them, and she didn't need any reinvention.
And to have this spilling out now, Campbell, is just not good for John McCain.
BROWN: And, Kevin, even defending this whole controversy over the clothes, the RNC buying all the clothing, it keeps the story going, and, as Dana pointed out, one more day where it's dominating the coverage.
KEVIN MADDEN, FORMER ROMNEY CAMPAIGN NATIONAL PRESS SECRETARY: Yes. And that's an indication just how unseasoned Sarah Palin is as a national candidate.
Ordinarily, somebody who knows that this is something that you're trying to get to a subterranean level, that you don't want to dominate the narrative for yet another news cycle, would make sure that they don't mention that, and, instead, they focus with a certain rigidity on the message of the day, because that's exactly what a V.P. is supposed to do.
They're supposed to go out there, hammer home on the contrasts against the presidential candidate on the opposing ticket, and stay on message. And, instead, what we have now is yet another news cycle where folks like me and Gloria and Errol and you are all talking about Sarah Palin's missteps on the campaign trail.
BROWN: But is the attack fair on her, Errol, in your view? She thinks she's being mismanaged here, that they're doing a terrible job of managing her. Doesn't she then have a right to take control of the situation herself?
ERROL LOUIS, "THE NEW YORK DAILY NEWS": Oh, of course. Look, of course she does. The attacks may be unfair. I think they're sort of unwise.
She reminds, frankly, of another Republican governor who was on a losing -- on involved in a losing ticket, which was Ronald Reagan, who had his national coming-out party when he gave the nominating speech for Barry Goldwater way back in 1964 and began a long march to power.
I think Sarah Palin is not only looking out for herself. Remember, this is her first national campaign. This is probably Senator McCain's last national campaign. She's got a future ahead of her. And it's the future of the party as well. So, it's not entirely selfish. And it's something that somebody needs to do eight days before what's starting to look like a disaster in the making.
BROWN: And, Kevin, let me go back to you quickly on this, because doesn't this all go back to the vetting process, this relatively hasty -- more than relatively, frankly -- selection process, and the fact that these people don't really know each other, she and John McCain, very well at all? MADDEN: Right.
Well, that's why I was laughing before when I saw the quote, Campbell, about when they found out that she didn't know a lot about national issues. Well, talk about closing the barn door after the cattle already got out.
MADDEN: Look, that is why people who have done this before, people who have run national campaigns, always tend to look at prospective V.P. candidates, and they're the ones that are nationally vetted, the ones that have been governors on the scene for a long time, the ones that have been -- gone through the scrutiny of the national press corps in Washington.
And that's exactly what has happened here, is that, when you put out an unknown and you give them 70 days with which to go through a vetting process, both by voters and the national press corps, ugly things can tend to happen.
BROWN: Errol, let me flip this to the Democrats for a second here, because maybe Sarah Palin has been a little bit more of a maverick than the campaign would like, but what about Joe Biden? Because he certainly hasn't always been on message, definitely lately, in terms of the Obama campaign. Does he get a free ride, comparatively?
LOUIS: I don't know if he gets a free ride, but he hasn't tried to outshine the head of the ticket, frankly. He's brought in to sort of be assurance that there's going to be adult supervision in an Obama White House.
He's also brought in, in a secondary role, to try to reach out to some of the white working-class voters that Obama missed during the primary season. Those are very limited roles. He played them both fairly well, even though he did make his own stumbles. So, there wasn't any particularly reason to think that he might be upsetting the whole apple cart, the way Sarah Palin seems to be.
BROWN: Gloria and Kevin, let me get your quick take on this.
BORGER: I don't think we're giving Joe Biden a free ride.
Every flub he's made has become a McCain campaign ad, and we have talked about it an awful lot. We knew, going in, though, that Joe Biden's major problem was going to be his big mouth. The difference with Sarah Palin is that we didn't know anything about her, and we didn't know what her problems were going to be, and we were told that she was ready to go on the national stage by the same people, by the way, Campbell, who are now complaining that she wasn't ready for prime time.
BROWN: All right, guys, stand by. We have got more we're going to talk about with you in just a second.
We want to bring in another issue, though. Only eight days to go, everything of course boils down to the Electoral College in those all-important showdown states. Are there any of them that are getting closer to turning red or turning blue? Miles O'Brien is at our magic map for us tonight.
Then, a little bit later, Charles Barkley takes a shot at racism in the presidential race. He says it's there. Barkley cites specific code words that he says will prove it -- when we come back.
BROWN: With eight days to go, John McCain says the White House is still within his reach, but some political observers say it looks like a real stretch.
Let's check out the numbers. Our latest poll of polls gives Barack Obama an eight-point lead, 51 percent to 43 percent. But, this late in the race, the critical thing to watch is the electoral map. And that's why the tossup and battleground states are all-important.
Miles O'Brien is here to walk us through the magic map of key showdown states -- Miles.
MILES O'BRIEN, CNN CHIEF TECHNOLOGY AND ENVIRONMENT CORRESPONDENT: Campbell, we have got some new numbers, our poll of polls, which averages out some of the best polls we have from the states. Let's look at some of the key battlegrounds now.
Of course, Ohio, you cannot forget Ohio. There's not a single Republican who has gone to the White House without first winning Ohio. And there's proof of that today, that it's important to John McCain. He was in Dayton. Barack Obama is also actively campaigning in Ohio.
And take a look at these numbers. You will see what's going on here and why it's so much in play, Obama with an uptick of one point at 50 percent, McCain gaining two at 46 percent, still a very tight race, still something that is obviously going to be heavily contested.
Now, let's go down to another battleground state, look at our numbers and see what we see, Florida, obviously an important state, the last couple of elections crucial to the presidential contest. Take a look at the numbers here, Obama remaining static at 48 percent -- once again, it's our poll of polls there -- McCain increasing by a point, a little bit of tightening there as we get a little bit closer to Election Day, now just about a week away.
Virginia is a fascinating story this go-around. Virginia hasn't gone for a Democrat since 1964. You have heard that. Obama is strong in the Washington suburbs. You see that blue pocket there. But the rest of the state, obviously, is going to tilt red, as you look at the way things broke in 2004.
Look at the numbers right now. Obama is static at 51 percent, McCain gaining a point there in Virginia. Let's go next door to West Virginia. West Virginia is a fascinating case here. The numbers are still very -- well, not as tight as what we have been seeing in the other states, 50 percent for McCain, 42 percent for Obama.
Notice McCain going up, Obama drifting down. This comes after a week of heavy TV spending in West Virginia by the Obama campaign. As a matter of fact, they had three times the number of commercials in West Virginia that the McCain campaign did, perhaps showing the limits of what a lot of money can do for you.
Let's take a look at the electoral map and show you what's going on behind all of this. This is what we're projecting right now. The yellow states are the tossup states. Let's assume for a moment that McCain wins all these yellow states. Now, we're looking up at the top here for that number, that magic number, of 270. Still doesn't get him there.
And this is why Pennsylvania has become so important. Assume for a moment that McCain wins Pennsylvania. That changes the picture, puts him over the top. And that is why, tomorrow, you're going to see McCain in Pennsylvania. Once again, the Keystone State is proving to be key for John McCain -- Campbell.
BROWN: And probably in Pennsylvania a lot more than just tomorrow, for the next eight days, anyway.
Miles O'Brien for us tonight.
And coming up, our no bull final exam. All week, in this final week, we are going to be testing the candidates on the top issues in this campaign. Tonight, we do a fact-check on taxes.
And, then, later, my one-on-one with the always outspoken Charles Barkley. Find out why he believes this race will go down to the wire.
Stay with us.
BROWN: With eight days to go, our no bull test down to the final exam. Every night now until the election, we're going to take apart the candidates' positions on the major issues of this historic campaign.
Tonight, Tom Foreman puts their tax plans to the "No Bull Test" -- Tom.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Campbell, the tax break battle shows no sign of fading in the home stretch. So let's kick it off with Obama and some of his latest tax talk.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I want to put a middle class tax cut in the pockets of 95 percent of workers and their families -- 95 percent. Now, my opponent doesn't want you to know this, but under my plan, tax rates will actually be less than they were under Ronald Reagan.
OBAMA: It is true that I want to roll back the Bush tax cuts on the very wealthiest Americans and go back to the rate that they paid under Bill Clinton. John McCain called that socialism. What he forgets, conveniently, is that just a few years ago, he himself said those Bush tax cuts were irresponsible. He said he couldn't, in good conscience, support a tax cut where the benefits went to the wealthy at the expense of middle class Americans who most need tax relief.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOREMAN: That's true. McCain did say that back in 2001. Later he changed his mind saying the economy made the Bush cuts OK. McCain, however, used the term "socialism" not about Obama's plan to raise taxes on wealthier Americans, but to redistribute some of the proceeds to people who make less. That's the part he doesn't like.
Obama loves that phrase "tax cuts for 95 percent of working families." But the Tax Policy Center says if you count all families, including those not working, it's 81 percent. And tax rates lower than Reagan's, that's misleading. Some people will find some lower rates, but no one seems to know how many, if any. So let's hear what McCain's team is now saying about all this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The difference between myself and Senator Obama is our plan will create jobs. His plan to raise taxes on small businesses to impose insurance mandates on families and small businesses will cut jobs. It's a difference of millions of jobs in America, and Americans are beginning to figure that out.
That's what change means for the Obama administration -- the redistributor. It means taking your money and giving it to someone else.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOREMAN: Small businesses will have to cut millions of jobs because of Obama's tax plan. It might happen, but right now it seems unlikely. Obama's plan would increase the cost of some small businesses, but it looks like a lot fewer than McCain is estimating. Obama is also proposing some tax breaks for small businesses of his own, so the bottom line is quite blurry. Then there is Obama's spending plan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. SARAH PALIN (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He's committed to nearly $1 trillion in promises of new government growth, new spending, but he doesn't tell you where the dollars will come from to spend on those proposals. It has to come from higher taxes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOREMAN: The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center says Obama's overall proposals will likely balloon the national debt by about $3.5 trillion by 2018, because his tax plan does not produce enough money to pay for spending. But the center says the same thing about McCain, forecasting his tax cuts will boost the deficit by about $5 trillion. So that's the bottom line on their tax plans, as we close in on the election -- Campbell.
BROWN: All right. And a lot more to talk about in the next eight days. Tom Foreman will be back with us. Of course, Tom, as always, thanks.
And in a moment, race, the looming question in the campaign. It's not just a matter of black and white. And coming up next, why Hispanics could make a difference in some key battlegrounds. We're going to have the latest information on how those voters seem to be breaking and why.
And later, Charles Barkley sounds off on racism and why he never thought he would see an election like this.
BROWN: It was one of the big questions this campaign. Will Hispanic voters come out and support Barack Obama? Well, with about a week to go, polls tell us the answer is yes in a big way.
Dan Simon is in Denver, Colorado, tonight where Hispanic voters are in the middle of a political showdown, of sorts. And, Dan, bring us up to speed. What's happening there?
DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Campbell, let me put it this way. I just got off the phone with a prominent Hispanic leader here and he called it an "avalanche of support" when it comes to Hispanic support for Barack Obama.
We've been spending a lot of time here in the state of Colorado. We've been looking at the various things that could tilt the balance for one candidate or the other. And I have to tell you, the Hispanic vote is probably the most significant factor we have come across. And most local polls show Obama leading when it comes to Hispanic vote by about a 70 to 30 margin, and the guy I talked to thinks it will actually be a lot bigger than that.
Just a little bit of background, Hispanic numbers have really been growing a lot here in Colorado. About a fifth of the Colorado residents here are Hispanic, 12 percent of the vote. And when you talk to folks here, you talk about the issues, they say they may like McCain better on immigration, if you can believe that, but they like Obama better on education and on the economy. For McCain's part, he's not giving up on the Hispanic vote. He is going door to door to a lot of different places. Also spending a lot of time in Pueblo County, a traditional Hispanic stronghold. He is not giving up. He has to get a little bit -- a little bit of that Hispanic vote, a slice of it to stay competitive here in Colorado.
Campbell, back to you.
BROWN: Not quite over yet. Dan Simon for us tonight. Dan, thanks.
Coming up next, Charles Barkley has a passion for politics. His prediction -- don't believe the polls. Race is going to be, in his view, will be a factor in this election.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHARLES BARKLEY, BASKETBALL HALL OF FAMER: Most people who are racist, they're not going to answer the question correctly, either on a phone call or on camera.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: I'll ask Sir Charles about the so-called Bradley effect and a whole lot more.
And our "No Bias, No Bull Rogues Gallery." Tonight, we roll out the welcome mat for Alaska Republican Senator Ted Stevens.
BROWN: They call him Sir Charles, a force to be reckoned with on the basketball court, and now an increasingly outspoken voice in the political arena. I'm talking, of course, about Hall of Famer, Charles Barkley. He is a big Barack Obama supporter and he sat down with me earlier today to talk about the campaign.
I asked him if he believes in the so-called Bradley effect, the idea that people will tell pollsters that they'll vote for a black candidate and then do the opposite in the privacy of the voting booth. Here's the interview.
CHARLES BARKLEY, BASKETBALL HALL OF FAMER: Of course that's real. I think if you asked -- first of all, racism is the greatest cancer of my lifetime. I think anybody who is racist, they're just an idiot, whether they're black or white. Anybody who's a racist, I just think they're an idiot.
But if you ask any white person on television, they're not going to say I'm not going -- actually, some people have said they would never vote for a black guy. But quietly at this camp, there are some people who say, if you ask them on television they would vote for a black guy, who are not going to vote, they're going to vote for John McCain and that's sad. BROWN: So do you not believe the polls right now?
BARKLEY: I think the polls are absolutely useless. I do. I think seriously, most people who are racists, they're not going to answer the question correctly, either on a phone call or on camera. So 100 percent believe the polls are flat-out useless.
I think this race is going to be neck and neck, down to the wire. I also think there is a reverse thing. I think there are some white people who say are going to vote for Barack because he's going to be better for their financial situation. So I think the Bradley factor is a bigger factor, but I do think there are some white people who say they are not going to vote for a black person around their friends, but when they get in the booth, they're going to vote for him, because it's going to be better for their economic situation.
BROWN: If he does pull this off, and Barack Obama who you're supporting does pull this off, tell me what it will mean for African- Americans?
BARKLEY: It'd just be great that white America elected a black president. Because the truth of the matter, unless you get a certain percentage of the white believes he's not going to be elected. So that would be cool that white people have enough confidence in him.
But, Campbell, unless we, we, as black people, stop killing each other, not getting our education, we have to do better. Racism does exist. It's always going to exist. But until we, as a people, stop killing each other and stop not getting our education, we're never going to be successful.
BROWN: What about the counter to that? If he doesn't win this election, ultimately, how much of a disappointment is that for African-Americans in this country, in your view?
BARKLEY: Well, I think it would be a great -- because first of all, I never thought in my lifetime I would see a black president.
BROWN: You didn't?
BARKLEY: I did not. And I'm surprised -- happily surprised he got this far. It'd be very disappointing.
BROWN: Do you think that John McCain, do you think the Republican Party has used race as an issue in this election?
BARKLEY: Oh, no question. And they used code words, like welfare and things like that. And they just used code words. They're using the terrorist thing now.
You know, they're trying to use the Muslim thing. Those are racial innuendos. The only way they can win this election is make it about race. That's the only way they can win it.
BROWN: There has been a lot of polarizing rhetoric, on both sides, frankly, throughout this campaign. And you yourself have called the evangelical base of the GOP "fake Christians."
BARKLEY: Well, because they're so judgmental. My idea -- and you know what's really interesting about that? I was actually defending John McCain when I said that. Because when he first got nominated, they were, Campbell (ph), he's not part of the evangelicals. I'm like, you guys have to respect Senator McCain. But what I meant by that, and I still stick by it, my idea of religion is, we're supposed to encourage people, love other people.
I'm a big pro-choice guy. I'm a big gay marriage guy. And they are so divisive. And that's not my idea of religion. My idea of religion is like, we're supposed to bring people together. We're supposed to be supportive. We're not supposed to judge other people.
BROWN: But aren't you judging them?
BARKLEY: They judge me.
BROWN: Talk to me a little bit about your own political aspirations. You said in the past that you want to go back to Alabama, that's home for you.
BARKLEY: Alabama needs a lot of help.
BROWN: So you're going to run for governor?
BARKLEY: I plan on it in 2014.
BROWN: You are still?
BARKLEY: I am.
BROWN: And the top priority for you would be education?
BARKLEY: All the way education. The public school system in this country is the worst it's ever been. And what that does is it hurts crime, it hurts the judicial system. You know, if you don't give people education and hope, they become criminals. They get involved in drugs. So we've got to fix the public school system.
I think we need to make these neighborhoods safer. And the third thing, you've got to give people economic opportunity.
BROWN: Charles Barkley, good to see you. Appreciate it.
BARKLEY: Thank you.
BROWN: Good luck to you.
BARKLEY: Thank you very much. Thanks for having me.
BROWN: Appreciate it.
BROWN: And of course, the NBA season starts next Tuesday, Election Day, on TNT.
Still ahead tonight, we're going to show you how a Capitol Hill veteran who once proudly described himself as, "a miserable SOB" made it into our "Rogues Gallery."
Plus, how about a campaign dance off just before Tuesday's big vote? It is a web sensation that is really hitting the "Bull's-Eye." That, coming up when we return.
BROWN: Still ahead, a dance contest used to be just change partners and dance. Well, now it's sort of an out of body experience. It will make sense, trust me. And pretty fun. We'll have that for you in a minute.
But first, Randi Kaye joins us with "The Briefing" -- Randi.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good to see you, Campbell.
In Chicago, the saddest possible ending to a terribly sad story. Police confirm today that a body found in a white SUV is the 7-year- old nephew of popular singer and actress Jennifer Hudson. He had been missing since Hudson's mother and brother were found murdered on Friday.
Asian stock markets are just opening and Tokyo stocks are up a day after closing at the lowest level in 26 years. Monday saw heavy losses around the world. On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial dropped 203 points. That index has lost 25 percent so far this month.
BROWN: Randi Kaye tracking it for us. Randi, thanks. Appreciate it.
Remember last week when Barack Obama made a surprise visit to the "Ellen DeGeneres Show," he showed off a few dance moves and talked a little trash about John McCain. Well, it didn't take long for the Internet geniuses at Minimovie.com to create a virtual McCain-Obama dance off that almost looks real. It is one of the best campaign videos you'll see, and it hits our "Bull's-Eye" tonight. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, FROM MINIMOVIE.COM CLIP)
(McCain and Obama dance off)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: But it gets even better. Take a look at what happens when a surprise challenger takes the floor.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, FROM MINIMOVIE.COM)
(Sarah Palin dancing)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: Not bad. I mean, is there really a better way to decide this election? I don't think so.
KAYE: I don't think so either.
BROWN: Coming up, tonight's newest member of our "No Bias, No Bull Rogues Gallery." He's now a convicted felony facing prison time, but that is not stopping him from running for office again. That's coming up in just a moment.
LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": Hi. I'm Larry King. Sarah Palin is under the microscope today, but it's the McCain campaign paying close attention to what she's doing. And doing -- is she going rogue? There are reports of sniping within the campaign as Palin might not be following the script.
And Joe Biden's not too happy with that TV anchor in Orlando. We'll have all the latest.
"LARRY KING LIVE" next, and Campbell Brown will be back right after this.
BROWN: When it comes to our "Rogues Gallery" today, there's no competition. Senator Ted Stevens, the Senate's longest-serving Republican, found guilty just a little while ago on seven federal corruption charges. And Joe Johns has the very latest on the Stevens' saga.
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): An epic career in the Senate reduced to this -- guilty on seven counts of lying about gifts from friends back home, including one friend, an oil field services company executive, who specialized in bribing politicians and getting political favors. But the fall of Ted Stevens wasn't about some Wall Street-sized payoff. This was mostly about small things, which he claimed were either loaned property or unwanted contraband, like a decorative metal fish, a fancy outdoor barbecue grill, a massage chair from Brookstone.
The one big ticket in the quarter million dollar controversy, home renovations. Workers for that oil field services company jacked up Stevens' single-story A-frame home in Alaska and transformed it into a multi-story chalet, though Stevens insisted he paid for the work.
VOICE OF: SEN. TED STEVENS (R), ALASKA: I will tell you we paid every bill that was given to us. Every bill that was presented to us has been paid.
JOHNS: You can't say Stevens didn't see trouble coming. Audio taped played during the trial showed he knew what could happen if he were ever discovered.
VOICE OF STEVENS: Might lose and we might have to pay a fine, might have to serve a little time in jail.
JOHNS: Stevens was always unapologetic, if not proud of his legendary success of pumping federal money to Alaska. The last four years alone, he pushed for a $3.2 billion in earmarks for the state. His success came from his seniority, 40 years in the Senate, more than six as chairman of the Appropriations Committee and from his legendary bullying tactics.
STEVENS: I'm going to go to every one of your states, and I'm going to tell them what you've done.
JOHNS: And yet despite his considerable successes, this wily veteran of the Senate seemed to throw it all away on a huge gamble. He asked for a speedy jury trial right before an election, and then he testified in his own defense, which allowed the prosecutor a chance to chew through his explanations, excuses and alibis. The jury did not buy it and did not give him a break.
Stevens says he's innocent and calls himself the victim of prosecutorial misconduct. He plans to appeal. He once called himself a "mean, miserable SOB." It's almost as if Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska nominated himself for induction into our "No Bias, No Bull Rogues Gallery."
JOHNS: Now, Campbell, Stevens has never been one to give up without a fight and he's promising to appeal, but there is an even more important verdict looming from the voters next Tuesday.
BROWN: Hey, there certainly is. Joe Johns for us tonight. Joe, thank you very much.
So let's make it official. Hit the wall, Ted. The latest member of the "No Bias, No Bull Rogues Gallery" is, of course, Senator Ted Stevens.
And joining me right now, as always, Jeff Toobin, CNN senior legal analyst and a former federal prosecutor. So, Jeff, he says he's going to fight this. What are his options here? And what -- also, what kind of sentence is he looking at?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, he has the option of fighting on, but his real problem now is political. The election is next week. He is a convicted felon.
The race with Mark Begich was very close. Stevens was slightly behind. It's inconceivable to me that Stevens will win at this point, so he's basically looking at being voted out of office.
The conviction itself does not throw him out of office. He can stay in, but anybody who's convicted of a felony is going to wind up getting thrown out by his fellow senators.
BROWN: But he could get jail time? TOOBIN: He could. I doubt it will happen. He's 84 years old. These are not the most serious felony charges. He's not a prior felon. I think it's very unlikely he'll get prison time.
BROWN: This is just amazing to me, a convicted felon, not a disqualifier for political office.
TOOBIN: No, it is true. And there are senators and congressmen who have fought on, but the rule has been the fellow senators vote you out if you don't resign. Chances are -- I mean, he's not going to resign in the next week because I guess he'll think that maybe he has a chance in the election. But after the election, presumably he'll lose. He will probably serve out to the end of his term, because it's only a few more weeks, but he does not have to leave. And he does not --
BROWN: It is amazing.
TOOBIN: And he does not lose his pension, even if the conviction is upheld on appeal.
BROWN: He doesn't lose it.
TOOBIN: He keeps his pension, which is pretty outrageous when you think about it.
BROWN: When are they going to change the rules on this?
TOOBIN: Well, they did change the rules on it, but he's grandfathered in because of his prior service in the Senate.
BROWN: Oh, a whole separate story.
TOOBIN: A whole separate outrage.
BROWN: Oh, wow, God. Jeff Toobin for us tonight. Good to see you.
TOOBIN: All right.
And that does it for us tonight. We will see you right back here tomorrow night.
"LARRY KING LIVE" starts right now.