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Campbell Brown

Obama Pulling Away?; Will Young Voters Show Up?

Aired October 30, 2008 - 20:00   ET


CAMPBELL BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Hi there, everybody.
Five days, that is it. After two long years of campaigning, we are now down to a frantic five days until the election. Today, our national poll of polls shows the race unchanged, Obama still about seven points ahead, but as we always say, the race will be decided in the battleground states, not in the national polls.

And the battleground state polls do show that Barack Obama seems to be pulling away. So, does that mean Obama has turned exclusively to now a positive, uplifting closing message? Hardly.

He was still out there pounding away today at John McCain.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If you want to know where John McCain will drive this economy, just look in the rear- view mirror, because, when it comes to our economic policies, John McCain has been right next to George Bush. He's been sitting there in the passenger seat ready to take over every step of the way.


BROWN: Actually, if you look in the rear-view mirror, you will see McCain's Straight Talk Express roaring across Ohio today, lights flashing, trying to make the most of the time that is left. Things just aren't, though, going as planned. At today's first stop, McCain tried to introduce Joe the Plumber.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Joe's with us today. Joe, where are you? Where is Joe? Is Joe here with us today? Joe, I thought you were here today.

All right. Well, you're all Joe the Plumbers, so all of you stand up and say --


MCCAIN: And I thank you.


(END VIDEO CLIP) BROWN: Ouch. That hurt a little bit. Planning, planning, planning. We're going to have the inside story on exactly what happened, the whole missing Joe snafu. But later the plumber and the presidential candidate did connect, and it turns out that Joe the plumber is turning into Joe the celebrity. We will explain.

As for Governor Sarah Palin, she had a confidential briefing on national security today. It was meant to convey her credentials as a serious candidate, but then she went back on the attack.


GOV. SARAH PALIN (R-AK), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: They think it's the perfect time to radically reduce defense spending? What are they thinking?


BROWN: But, first, before we give you all the campaign news tonight, as always, we are cutting through the bull.

In this election, young voters have been the toast of the town. As the pundits have told us, they will be turning out in record numbers this year. And, if Obama wins, it will be the youth of the country who gave him the presidency.

Or it won't, because early evidence suggests that young voters just might do what they always do: blow it off, stay home, space out, get a better offer.

Down in Florida, where early voting has been under way for 11 days now, "The Orlando Sentinel" has been crunching the numbers, and guess what they found? That people younger than 35 are so far the worst performing demographic group among early voters.

And it's not just down in Florida. Gallup's daily tracking poll shows a similar trend nationally. Based on interviews they have conducted over the last few weeks, Gallup concluded that there is scant evidence to suggest we're going to see a real game-changing youth turnout.

So, what is happening here? All those seemingly hyper, enthusiastic stars of YouTube videos pledging to change the world, where are you? Are you really going to own this election?

Quite possibly, says one political scientist. Think back to your college days. You're cramming for a final, you procrastinate, but, in the end, on exam day, you will show up.

Or will you? Well, we can't wait to find out.

And that's why, a little bit later in this hour, correspondent David Mattingly will take a look at -- a closer look, rather, at the most hyped voter demographic of this election cycle.

And now we turn to the urgent final five days of the campaign, John McCain riding the Straight Talk Express from town to town in Ohio, even as Barack Obama jets from red state to red state, Florida, Virginia, then Missouri.

Ed Henry is on the ground with McCain in Ohio.

But we're going to start tonight with Candy Crowley, who is waiting for Obama in Missouri. And, Candy, as I think we have said, traditionally this is the point in the campaign where you would think the candidates would play up the positives, but Obama was taking some pretty hard shots at John McCain today. In just a few hours, he's going to be holding another big rally right where you are right now. What are you expecting to hear in terms of the message?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I think you will hear the same message from now until election eve.

Simply put, I talked to a source in the Obama campaign who said, listen, we don't hear John McCain toning it down. We're not going to tone it down. This is really very much a Democratic world view, if you will, at this point. They really feel as though, looking back at other elections, be it Kerry or Gore, the Democrat simply wasn't tough enough.

They are not about to make that same mistake, they say, so you will see, both in advertising, because there was an ad today talking about McCain, look in your rear-view mirror, and what you will see is what John McCain would bring, and that's George Bush. So, you will hear a lot of that. It's been that for months, Campbell.

It is McCain equals Bush in varying variations of it, but, nonetheless, they do intend according to this source to continue on with their hits on John McCain, because, you know, again, it's that Democratic, you have got to keep fighting until the very end.

BROWN: And, Candy, stand by. I want to play a little moment that struck all of us today. This is Joe Biden in Arnold, Missouri, today taking discipline to a whole new level. Check it out.


SEN. JOSEPH BIDEN (D-DE), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Now, look, folks, hey, I didn't see the band up there. Hey, folks how you guys doing? Thanks for being here. That is really nice of you. Thank you. That is what you call getting off message, but I will tell you, you guys look good.



BROWN: All right. That was fairly humorous there, but the discipline we're seeing from these guys in the final days, really no joke. I mean, tell us about the precision you noted today and what your sources are telling you about what we're going to expect.

CROWLEY: Well, listen, first of all, in terms of just being in sync, this has really been a specialty of Barack Obama. Very few times over this campaign have they been knocked off message. Certainly, Jeremiah Wright was one of those, a little bit during the lipstick on pigs thing. But, boy, you look back over this campaign the last 21 months, Barack Obama is a very disciplined candidate.

Now he is getting, as you heard, Joe Biden to be a disciplined candidate. They are both giving virtually the same speech, so that's what you will see in the coming days and what they are going to stick with.

BROWN: Candy Crowley for us tonight -- Candy, as always, thanks.

And as we said a moment ago, McCain spent the day on his Straight Talk Express campaign bus, darting across Ohio, hitting towns and medium-sized cities, getting a pretty warm welcome everywhere.

Ed Henry is in Mentor, Ohio, tonight, just outside of Cleveland. And, Ed, I know you're going to talk to us a little bit about this whole Joe the plumber snafu in a second, but first let's talk about the message of the day. He's been hammering sort of one message into voters' heads, that this is not over yet, and he made that case today in the small Ohio town appropriately named Defiance. Let's listen.


MCCAIN: He's measuring the drapes, and he gave his first address to the nation before the election.

We're a few -- never mind. We're a few points down, but we're coming back. Last night --



BROWN: Now, Ed, McCain right now really needing to rally supporters and get them pumped up. And they are bringing out some pretty big guns to do that, aren't they?

ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. And I just saw it here at the rally that wrapped up a few moments ago. You can't see it now, but there's a lot of energy here.

John McCain seems to be finding his voice, mostly on this tax issue, and he is going to bring out a big gun tomorrow. He's going to bring out Arnold Schwarzenegger in Columbus, Ohio, try to reel in some independent voters, middle-of-the-road, undecided people, critical in a state like Ohio here.

When you talk to very senior McCain advisers, they insist they are closing strong. They look at the CNN poll that has him down 12 points in Pennsylvania. McCain people say their poll suggests it's about six points, about half that.

Ohio, our latest poll has it at about four points down. They think it's even closer than that. And they think McCain is closing strong on this tax issue. He's finally found his voice on it, that he's really hitting Barack Obama hard on the tax issue, and it's sort of bread and butter for these Republican voters.

And I can tell you the crowd behind me a short time ago, they were fired up. And it was a larger crowd than McCain has had. Seen a lot of small crowds for him in these kinds of gymnasiums. Instead, there were several thousand people here. And every time he hit that tax issue, they were fired up -- Campbell.

BROWN: And, Ed, OK. Now, I can't let you go without getting the 411 on this whole Joe the Plumber mixup today. He was supposed to be at that rally in Defiance, Ohio, but he didn't show up. Nobody bothered to tell John McCain. Let's listen to what happened.


MCCAIN: Joe's with us today. Joe, where are you? Where is Joe? Is Joe here with us today? -- Joe, I thought you were here today.

All right. Well, you're all Joe the plumbers, so all of you stand up and say --


MCCAIN: And I thank you.



BROWN: A little bit of an uncomfortable moment there, Ed, but Joe did show up a little bit later in the day. And let's look at that.


JOE WURZELBACHER, RESIDENT OF OHIO: Go vote for a real American, John McCain.


MCCAIN: Thank you, Joe Wurzelbacher, great American. And thank all of you for being here.


BROWN: OK. So, an earlier episode, though, was a little bit embarrassing, but what was going on, Ed, behind the scenes? Explain to us what happened.

HENRY: You almost had to feel for John McCain there, such an embarrassing moment.

The bottom line was that he's out there groping around: "Where are you, Joe?" And his staff hadn't got word to him that it turns out Joe the Plumber was not at that rally. And McCain aides were saying, look, he sort of decided at the last moment, Joe did, that he couldn't make it.

We ended up talking to -- CNN spoke to Joe the plumber, and he insisted: "No, they never firmed up that I was going to be there."

So, the bottom line is, it seemed like a little bit of sloppy staff work. How in the world, after talking about Joe the plumber for three or four weeks, setting this up, their first big public appearance, how could it fall through, Campbell?

BROWN: You would think they would have a man on him at all times, like carting him around wherever they needed him to be.

HENRY: Twenty-four/seven.

BROWN: Ed Henry for us tonight -- Ed, thanks.

And, as we reminded you at the top of the show tonight, it is the votes in the key electoral states that really count. And, frankly, that's all that counts right now. That brings us to John King and his magic wall, which shows us there are big changes yet again.

Then, later on, we're going to return to the great unknowns of this election. Young voters, are they actually going to keep their promise to show up and vote? You should know, historically, they have not.

And, later, why a member of our no bias, no bull rogues' gallery feels like dancing.


BROWN: With only five days to go until the election, we have critical new polling data tonight. It shows important shifts in five key states. One of those battlegrounds is no longer a tossup on the CNN electoral map.

John King over at the magic board for us. John, let's start with the big picture, and I know today we have got another change, and it means another gain for Obama, right?


If you look at the map, something that was gold yesterday -- gold is tossup -- is blue today. Where is it? It's right out here in the West, the state of Nevada, five electoral votes, not a lot, but still significant, because a state that twice went for George W. Bush we now have leaning for Barack Obama.

And, Campbell, what that means is, we now have Obama leading in states with 291 electoral votes. Of course, it only takes 270 to win the White House. So, going into the final days, looking at the map -- we keep saying this -- it is tilted in Obama's favor, even more so today -- Campbell.

BROWN: Yes, those gold states slowly disappearing there, John. We keep talking about how it does come down to those gold states, the battlegrounds. Walk us through the very latest in those key states.

KING: Five new polls from battleground states today, one that you might not consider a battleground, but we will show it to you as we go.

Let's start where we just were, in Nevada. Why did we move it over? Because we have been watching the trends in Nevada, and our new poll shows it at 52 Obama, 45 McCain. This poll, plus anecdotal evidence, including my trip there earlier this week, convinces us we will lean Nevada over.

Now, let's move next door. Now, this is John McCain's home state of Arizona. We still have this one likely to go for McCain, but look at that. That's too close for comfort, Campbell, 53 percent for John McCain, 46 percent for Barack Obama, one of the reasons Republicans are now running those robocalls, urging support for John McCain, in that state.

Another new today in the battleground state of Ohio, this one remains a tossup, very competitive, but advantage Barack Obama 51 percent to 47 percent, heading into the final days, very, very close, Ohio often close to the very end.

Let's move next door to the state of Pennsylvania. Remember, the McCain people have said they have to turn Pennsylvania from blue to red to have a reasonable scenario. Well, our latest poll, I think Ed Henry just mentioned it, 55 percent to 43 percent. So we still show a significant Obama lead in Pennsylvania, even though the McCain camp says their internal tracking shows it is closer.

And one more, Campbell. We will come over here to the state of North Carolina, another must-win for the McCain campaign. They can't get to 270, they say, without North Carolina. Look at this, a bit of a bigger lead for -- still a tossup, but 52 percent to 46 percent, Obama running better among white voters, running better in rural areas, a huge advantage among non-white voters, both African-Americans and Latinos. So, Campbell, North Carolina another state where McCain has to win it. It looks like Obama has at least a slight lead heading into the final days.

BROWN: Oh, certainly one to watch. John, finally, you're at magic wall. I know you have a new toy to tell us about, a new way apparently to keep track of our best political team on television. Show it to us.

KING: We don't call them toys, now, Campbell. We call them important pieces of information.



KING: Let's look at this now.

This is a corresponding tracker. All right here, you see our correspondents who are all around the country. You see, I'm right here in New York right here. I am going to spread out Ohio, because it's not just Dana Bash in Ohio. It's Mary Snow. And we will bring it out a little bit further. You just spoke to Ed Henry. All our correspondents are everywhere.

I'm going to shrink the map down a little bit. Look at how significant this is. Suzanne is down here. Dan Lothian and Jessica Yellin are over here in the state of Virginia. Look at where they are. They're all in red states, Campbell. These are states George W. Bush won last time, Dan Simon out in Colorado, the Election Express waiting for Wolf Blitzer and the Barack Obama interview in Des Moines tomorrow.

Candy Crowley in Missouri. We saw Dana up here in New York. We have, not only John King, but Jim Acosta. He's hiding behind me. I won't stretch that out any further. Quite significant.

Here's what we can do. We can track everybody over the past week. I am going to step across the camera and come back here. Now, watch the names on the wall. This is where everybody was a week ago. Well, everybody has a bit of a week moving around. You see everybody going.

Or you can do it this way, Campbell, if you want to see it. We can track them, go back a week, and move these lines this way. Looks like an airline grid. And here's the lucky one. If you want to pick a correspondent who has had the best last week, Suzanne Malveaux in Atlanta. She was in Florida. And if you follow her line all the way across, it gets you to Hawaii. That's not so bad.


BROWN: So, what, do we, like, embed GPS or something in their heads? How do you know where they are at all time, John?


KING: They are carrying around small devices, including me. And watch how well this works. I am going to go to the Google Map feature and stretch this out. They are carrying around little GPS devices.


KING: There, you see Jim Acosta. Now, look, here's Columbus Circle. You know where we are, Campbell. We are right here in the Time Warner Center.

BROWN: That is creepy. Like, what if somebody wants to go to a bar late at night and doesn't want you and I to go, like, where is Jim Acosta? He's at the bar down the street. He's supposed to be covering the campaign. This could get ugly. I don't know about this technology.


KING: You take the little button, and you turn it off.


BROWN: All right. John King, this is going to be fun. We are going to be playing with this over the next couple of days. John, we will see you in a little bit.

KING: All right, Campbell.

BROWN: In these final days, when things are moving with breakneck speed, at CNN, we have got all the campaign details you want whenever you want them. Go to, where you can track every development, every correspondent's visit to the bar, every major poll, changes in the electoral map, all of it. We have all the information there. It's fast. It's easy. Just log on to

And, in a moment, we have the playbill for the stagecraft of the Obama infomercial. It came off pretty flawlessly last night. Millions of voters were watching. We are going to tell you how the campaign did it.

Also, what women voters want in Florida, where they could actually tip the balance come election night.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Leave it to a mom to go into Alaska and get the job done. And that's what I'm looking forward to with her going into Washington.


BROWN: We're also going to fill you in on Sarah Palin's national security speech today.

And then I will ask former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright about the foreign policy challenges ahead for the next president.


BROWN: Halloween, a bottomless pit of opportunities for campaign stagecraft.

Barack Obama took the bait today in Sarasota, Florida. He ventured into a pumpkin patch -- well, just a paved lot, frankly, where a church group was selling pumpkins. He bought a couple, though. And we may see them again. A photographer caught this shot of the pumpkins being tossed aboard Obama's campaign jet. Careful there.

Now, that was some small-time stagecraft, a little bitty snapshot there, nothing quite like the Spielberg-style extravaganza of Obama's 30-minute infomercial last night. Today, Nielsen reports that at least 33.5 million people tuned in to watch that thing on seven broadcast and cable networks.

The top-rated TV show in America last week, "CSI," got only 19.5 million viewers, just to make the point there. Sure, that's only one network, but still. There was also a lot of buzz today about how team Obama managed to cut from this pre-recorded part of the infomercial to the campaign's live speech down in Florida, split-second timing there.

Take a look. And take it from somebody on TV. This ain't as easy as it looks.


OBAMA: I will open the doors of government and ask you to be involved in your own democracy again.


OBAMA: America, the time for change has come.


BROWN: So, here is the stage craft behind it. Obama had this countdown clock right next to his teleprompter that was timing his speech to make sure that he read that line just as he went live from coast to coast.

And, then, a little bit later, just in time for the late local news in most of the country, Obama took the stage in Orlando for his first joint rally with Bill Clinton.


BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The next president of the United States should be and with your help will be Senator Barack Obama!



BROWN: Not only was there news there, free advertising, too, thanks to the fact that all the local TV stations were showing it live.

So, we're going to talk about the stagecraft and all the other issues of the day with our top-notch political analysts, Democratic strategist and CNN political contributor Paul Begala with us tonight, Republican consultant Alex Castellanos, and CNN senior political analyst Gloria Borger here with me in New York.

So, Paul, pretty remarkable how they coordinated all of that, but listen to what Sarah Palin had to say about Obama's infomercial today.


PALIN: He prefers, it seems, to wrap up his closing message in kind of that warm, fuzzy, commercial message that was scripted, and he wants to soften the focus in these closing days, hoping that your mind won't wander to the real challenges of national security that I believe he is incapable of meeting. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: So, Paul, millions of people watched last night. What did they really get out of it? Was it a gauzy, sort of presumptuous infomercial, or a reassuring case for the Obama presidency?

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I thought it was remarkable. I thought it was really a terrific piece of political salesmanship, which is what you're supposed to be doing in a campaign.

He interwove his personal biography, the remarkable story of how he lost his mother, and she was fighting with insurance companies, even as she was fighting off cancer, he interwove all that, his own early years, where his mom would get him up at 4:30 in the morning to study, and interwove that with real people's health care concerns, with your kids and their education needs.

And I just thought it was terrific. And then you made the point right that I don't know anybody, except maybe Ronald Reagan, who could have had that kind of stage timing.

In his last day in office, Ronald Reagan told Tim Russert this. When Tim said, "Do you think it helped that you were an actor?" apparently, President Reagan said, "I don't think anybody could do this job if they are not an actor."

And, having worked in the White House, I think Bill Clinton had a lot of that actor in him, too. And Barack Obama's performance last night was really spectacular.

BROWN: Alex, apart from his performance, they also have got the money to pull this off. How does John McCain compete with something like that?


It was an impressive performance last night. He had to reassure people. He's made the sale. He's ahead. He has to reassure people that the change he's offering is safe. He did a lot of that. How do you compete with that?

Well, an old campaign strategy is, you can't compete across the breadth of all his resources. Pick one little area, and try to drive a wedge in it. It's called concentration of firepower. And that's what McCain has. He will concentrate on Joe the plumber.


BROWN: Are they doing that?



CASTELLANOS: Are they doing that? I think that's exactly the right question.

Their fire is spread a little thin. One day, it's the cultural issues. One day, it's his associations. The next day, it's taxes and Joe the plumber. Another day, it's the Democrats in Washington won't -- won't be any restraint. It doesn't seem that we have seen that concentration of firepower, no.

BROWN: Before -- I want to go into McCain a little more in-depth in a second, but just talk to me a minute about Al Gore, because they had Bill Clinton last night.


BROWN: Al Gore and Tipper Gore are going down to campaign. And just sort of the image of Gore down in Florida...

BORGER: Oh, my God, there he is.

BROWN: Campaigning --

BORGER: Broward County.

BROWN: -- is pretty remarkable -- in Broward County, no less, exactly.


BORGER: Well, first of all, it reminds people, Campbell, that their votes count, because, of course, he's going to talk about what happened in 2000, when people sort walked away and thought their votes didn't count.

BROWN: Right.

BORGER: It also reminds people of the Clinton years.

And one thing I think of is, look at all the surrogates that have been out there for Barack Obama. You're going to have Al Gore, Tipper Gore, Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Colin Powell's endorsement. And who does John McCain have? He might have Schwarzenegger next week.

BROWN: Well, I was going to say that that. Let me bring Schwarzenegger in.

Alex, does -- can that help? Can Schwarzenegger help? He's a star, I mean, probably one of the biggest stars, apart from Joe the plumber, now that he's become Mr. Big Celeb. Can that make a difference?

CASTELLANOS: It helps a couple of ways.

You want to monopolize media attention. One of the things Barack Obama did last night was, he just sucked all the media oxygen into his campaign into something he controls, a 30-minute show.

BROWN: Right. CASTELLANOS: That's a day one. And as old Carville says, win every day. That's the rule. So, yes, if McCain can get Schwarzenegger for a day, he can win a day. That's a day of media attention.

BROWN: Paul, let me ask you about something else, too. Obama not just in red states today -- he's in the reddest part of red states, really trying to cut into John McCain's turf here. Do you think that's risky to try to run up the electoral vote tally? Should he be spending more time in states that he can't afford to lose, like Pennsylvania?

BEGALA: Yes, it's risky, but it's the right risk to take.

This is a guy, he's a really interesting combination. I have talked to people who have played poker with him and say -- they say, look, he shows up. He has two beers, smokes two cigarettes, and makes $2 bets, very cautious and careful.

And, yet, it was a big risk to run. It was a big risk to run against Hillary, for goodness' sakes, in the Democratic Party. And I think it's a great idea to go right into the reddest parts of these states, because, look, he's going to win all the states John Kerry carried, including Pennsylvania, which is where McCain is sort of making his last stand, in a blue state.

So, you go into the Republican areas and bring them back, and it can have down-ballot consequences for a lot of congressional candidates and some key Senate races as well.

BROWN: Is that the --


BROWN: -- real effect here?

BORGER: Yes. I think part of it is to try and increase his majorities in the Congress. And he thinks that he's going bring a lot of those sort of conservative Democrats with him from those ruby red districts.

BROWN: Right.

BORGER: And that's what this is all about now.

BROWN: We are going to be talking about that a little later in the show, the possible endangered species of Republicans on Capitol Hill, Alex. But our thanks to our panel here, to Paul, to Alex, and Gloria.

Still, when we come back, a lot of great unknowns in this race. In other words, it ain't over until it's over. For instance, young voters have been so intense, so active in this election, but they always are, aren't they? And, yet, historically, they don't always actually turn up and cast their votes. Is this time actually going to be any different? We will also ask why, after his federal conviction on seven counts of corruption, this man is dancing. Yes, he is there -- our rogues' gallery update still to come.


BROWN: Over the next few nights, we're going to take a look into the great unknowns hanging over this election, the looming questions that could decide the next president. And tonight, our spotlight is on young voters. They make up a big chunk of the nine million Americans who registered this year.

Barack Obama's campaign manager has said in many ways our fate is in their hands, but young voters haven't always turned out in a big way. Will they show up on Tuesday? It is one of our great unknowns, and our David Mattingly has been digging into this in the battleground state of North Carolina -- David.


DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): What will young voters really do? It's an urgent question and one of the great unknowns of this election. Historically, they are enthusiastic.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're off to the polls.

MATTINGLY: But they don't turn out to vote in a big way. In polls, young people prefer Obama almost 2-1, and that's why whether or not they vote means so much to both Obama and McCain.

(on camera): Do you feel like your vote is being asked for this time?


JEFF CHEN, UNIVERSITY STUDENT: Like you just walk here (INAUDIBLE) every single day, you'll be hounded by people, like -- they're like, have you voted yet? I was like, that's the tenth time you asked me that. I remember that last week so like, when you see students like just out on the corner at 8:00 in the morning while you're walking to class, you know people are serious about this campaign.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): There are more than 874,000 newly registered voters here in North Carolina, fully one-third. Nearly 300,000 are under the age of 25. Expectations are high.

HEATHER SMITH, EXEC. DIRECTOR ROCK THE VOTE: I think you're really seeing the most impact that you'll see from -- that we've ever seen from the youth population.

MATTINGLY (on camera): Who's going to win North Carolina?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: John McCain. MATTINGLY (voice-over): The students I talked to do seem motivated and perhaps, surprisingly, focused on issues like health care and the economy.

(on camera): Do you know who you sound like? You sound like your parents.


(voice-over): But the great unknown when looking at the big picture, will they actually vote?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Young people today, not just college students, young people volunteer, do community service at rate -- a record rate, a rate higher than their parents and a rate that we've never seen before.

MATTINGLY (on camera): And the candidates know it. Campaign signs have appeared on campus by the dozens. Representatives of both parties have been here passing out sample ballots. All of them betting that this new generation of voters will turn out in numbers that will make a difference.

(voice-over): If that happens, it may signal the beginning of a new wave of activism.

J.J. RAYNOR, UNIVERSITY STUDENT: Not only do we recognize the importance of the vote, we also recognize how important it is to go beyond that in terms of connecting with our peers, sharing our opinions and making sure that we're as present outside of the voting booth as we are inside of it.


MATTINGLY: Early voting has been strong across the board here in North Carolina, Campbell, and it's hard to pull out those numbers just for the young voters. I've seen a very strong turnout here on the North Carolina campus, but as far as statewide goes, it's really one of those unknowns that we'll be watching for on Election Day to see if they try to turn this state from red to blue.

BROWN: All right, David. David Mattingly for us tonight. Appreciate it, David.

Coming up next, political endangered species. Some Republican insiders are whispering the "R" word as in rout. Our field guide to members of Congress on the endangered species list.

And then later, real women in Florida speak out on the issues they really care about, and it's no surprise, I guess, they are divided over who they're supporting in this campaign. And as they talk about the issues, things get pretty heated when we come back.


BROWN: Other news besides politics happening out there to tell you about tonight. Let's go right now to Tom Foreman for "The Briefing" -- Tom.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Campbell, a suspect in the murders of Jennifer Hudson's mother, brother and nephew refuses to take a lie detector test.

William Balfour is the estranged husband of the Oscar winner's sister. Balfour has not been charged in the case, but Chicago police say Balfour stopped cooperating with them. The funeral for the three victims is Monday.

A freak accident on a bridge near New Orleans killed a construction worker. He was one of ten workers who plunged into Lake Pontchartrain when a girder fell off of the bridge. The other nine were rescued. That bridge is a replacement for one that was damaged by Hurricane Katrina.

American Express is cutting its work force by 10 percent. Seven thousand workers will be laid off. Amex profits are down because consumers cut back on credit card spending.

That's the news update -- Campbell.

BROWN: Tom Foreman for us tonight. Tom, thanks.

When we come back in a moment, we're going to find out why some Republicans could become an endangered species on Capitol Hill. Plus, he's a convicted felon and yet he's dancing tonight. The latest on Senator Ted Stevens, part of our "Rogues Gallery."


BROWN: Tonight we've got an update on a member of our "No Bias, No Bull Rogues Gallery." Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska getting a spot on our "wall of shame" or for that matter getting convicted of seven felonies hasn't slowed him down one little bit.

He flew back to Anchorage last night and was greeted by a crowd of supporters, a big, old welcome home rally. Stevens is up for re- election next week, and polls showed a close race even before his conviction on Monday for not reporting $250,000 in freebies. Stevens insists he can still win this thing and that he will ultimately be vindicated. We shall see if he is still dancing on election night.

Stevens is just one of the Republicans in Congress who may be in danger come Tuesday night. Democrats rubbing their hands together in glee right now anticipating landslides at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue.

I've got our chief national correspondent John King back with me now along with CNN senior analyst Jeff Toobin to talk about what a Democratic sweep could mean for Congress.

And, John, I know you've been talking to a lot of pretty nervous Republicans out there. What are they worried about? How bad could it be? KING: That's a polite way to put it, pretty nervous Republicans. They're very worried that there could be a dramatic sweep. They're worried about losing at the presidential level, but they're also worried about losing on Capitol Hill.

Let's take a look at the balance of power as it now stands heading into the election on Tuesday. Here's the situation in the House; 235 Democrats, one vacancy in a Democratic seat, 199 Republicans. That's the blue and the red. So Nancy Pelosi as speaker has more Democrats right now, but 235 to 199, it's not such a big majority. If she loses, say the votes of 15 conservative Democrats, it gets tough to do business so she wants more Democrats in the House.

And it's even a more narrow majority if you come over to the Senate side, 51 Democrats. It's actually 49 Democrats but two independents who caucus with the Democrats, so effectively 51-49. So just a bare Democratic majority in the Senate. Clearly, they want more.

Now, look at this. If you look at risk, you start label up here for this because in the House, Republican strategists think they will lose 24 at a minimum, probably 25, some say 30. Some Republicans are even more pessimistic. They say it could go as high as 35 or so. But the Democrats looking to pick up maybe 30 seats or more in the House and over in the Senate, smaller numbers, because it's a smaller chamber but this is very significant.

Most Republicans now believe they will lose at least half a dozen seats, six seats, could go as high as nine. And, Campbell, if they get to that nine, that's what makes it so significant.

BROWN: Oh, that's ugly.

KING: That would give them 60 that would get you up to where you could not have to worry so much on most issues about a filibuster. And you just mentioned one of your members of the "Rogues Gallery," Ted Stevens, that's one of the reasons Democrats are more optimistic because they think now that he has been convicted --

BROWN: They are.

KING: A seat that was probably a slight lean Republican is probably going to lean Democrat.

BROWN: Now very much up in the air. But, Jeff, you know, voters say they hate gridlock in Washington but then you also hear them say they hate the idea of one party controlling both Congress and the White House. What's the real deal here?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, you know, the party out of power always talks about how split government is a good idea. Earlier this decade, you heard the Democrats saying, you know, we need to keep one House of the Congress in order to keep it checked but I don't really think voters think that way.

All I've seen in polling data, in anecdotal evidence, is they want their side to win. There are some ticket-splitters, no question about that. But most voters I think would be happy to have unified government as long as it's their side.

BROWN: Right. And that's been a big argument in the McCain campaign is, you know, what you really don't want here is to have Obama, to have Pelosi, to have Reid running the entire show. Has that been an effective argument?

KING: It is an argument John McCain is making. If you talk to Republican strategists, they say probably not so effective for John McCain because it's a big election. I think that's a rather small argument to make.

BROWN: Right.

KING: They do think it could, Campbell, help maybe in six or eight or 10 congressional races where Republicans are at risk. They think if the American people are convinced, if you're a conservative swing voter, you're convinced Obama or an independent worried about Democratic spending, and you're convinced Obama will win, and about 65 percent of the American people now think Obama will win. They think in those districts some people say, you know what, fewer Democrats in Congress is a good thing for checks and balances.

BROWN: Right.

KING: So maybe it will help in a handful, a dozen congressional races. Most people think it won't help McCain.

BROWN: All right. John King for us, and Jeff Toobin, thanks, guys. Appreciate it.

Coming up next, women, the largest voting bloc. For the group we spoke with, it all comes down to one thing, fears about the economy and who they think is going to fix it and how. We'll talk to them when we come back.


BROWN: We have been hearing it for months now. It's all about the women. They are the ones who are going to decide this election, and they are the ones the candidates have been pursuing relentlessly. They are now in the final days making up their minds.

Randi Kaye sat down with this group in Florida to hear what closed the deal for them. Take a look.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Six women, all voters in Florida, a critical swing state, all moms, all consumed with fears about the economy. Could their families lose their homes, their jobs, their futures?

ARIS CANCEL, UNDECIDED FLORIDA VOTER: Either we put gas in the car or we eat, so I choose to eat before I put the gas. KAYE: Aris Cancel, the only undecided of the bunch, stopped driving her kids to school to save gas. Now, they bike there.

Christine Forte, a Republican recovering from cancer, is voting for John McCain. She has doubts about Barack Obama's health care plan.

CHRISTINE FORTE, VOTING FOR MCCAIN: It scares me with the universal health care that the medical field being just completely overwhelmed with people waiting to get care that they need.

KAYE: Suzette Boyette, a nurse practitioner, will vote for Obama. She says universal care is exactly what we need.

SUZETTE BOYETTE, VOTING FOR OBAMA: When you see a client sitting there on a bed, laying there on a bed in pain, one that has insurance, one that does not, you know, it's a no-brainer.

KAYE: These women are also split on which candidate can fix our financial mess, and on who has a better tax plan. Republican entrepreneur Noelle Goodman --

You're worried about taxes going up on your small business?

NOELLE GOLDMAN, VOTING FOR MCCAIN: Absolutely. I won't be able to stay in business. It's going to be very difficult.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: McCain is one of the most liberal Republicans we've ever had running for office.

KAYE: That's just one reason Noelle is voting for McCain.

GOLDMAN: I am voting for Sarah Palin and the hero she's running with. I don't want anything to happen to John McCain, but it thrills me to hear that she's a heartbeat away from the presidency.

KAYE: On Palin, no surprise, all had strong feelings. Has she been treated unfairly?

FORTE: I think that distracting from the focus on her good points by things like wardrobe and unnecessary negatives are -- have been senseless.

CANCEL: They don't do that with the men. They don't talk about like how, you know, Armani or whatever he's wearing, but they talk about her dress. I mean, it's like they are dumbing her down.

KAYE: Anne Elias supports Obama. With her strong Christian values, she sees Palin differently.

ANNE ELIAS, SUPPORTS OBAMA: What I see in Sarah Palin is almost using sexism the other way.

KAYE: To her advantage?

ELIAS: Well, to the party's advantage. GOLDMAN: She's dressed this way in Alaska.

ELIAS: Even at the convention, at the Republican Convention, there were signs about the hottie from Alaska and those were the pro- Palin people. It should just not be an issue at all.

GOLDMAN: Do you believe she should wear a gray flannel suit so she looks just like the men?


GOLDMAN: I mean, she's a woman. She's in good shape, and she shouldn't deny who she is. She shouldn't cover up who she is.

ELIAS: Absolutely not.

KAYE: And then, of course, there is "Joe the Plumber."

Is anyone tired of hearing about "Joe the Plumber"?


KAYE: All of you.

(on camera): Republicans and Democrats.

ELIAS: He's supposed to represent everybody. He's supposed to represent every "Joe the Plumber" of every walk of life, of every political persuasion. And he's run up the Republican flag pole like they own what's good for "Joe the Plumber."

KAYE (voice-over): Kim Nagle, a personal trainer and mother of three, says she's voting for McCain, in part, because she believes Obama really does want to spread the wealth just like he told "Joe the Plumber."

KIM NAGLE, VOTING FOR MCCAIN: What real scares me about him is he's leaning us towards a socialist republic. That's what I'm worried about. I'm worried about us becoming socialist rather than democracy.


KAYE: Now women, of course, tend to lean Democratic because of the so-called "she" issues like the economy and like health care. And we checked the CNN latest poll and it does show Barack Obama leading among women here in Florida by about 11 percentage points. We asked the women in our group why they think that is, and they said it's because of his youth, his charisma, and because he appears to be such a good father. And that is coming from women, both Republican and Democrat in our group.

BROWN: All right. Randi Kaye for us tonight. Randi, thanks.

Race, the so-called Bradley effect. Barack Obama and Jon Stewart on "The Daily Show." That's right. We put it in our "No Bias, No Bull" "Bull's-Eye" tonight. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: Barack Obama had another big TV moment last night. He was the featured guest on "The Daily Show," a "Bull's-Eye" moment. Here's what he asked Obama about race in the race.


JON STEWART, HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART": I don't even know how to bring this up. Obviously, your mother is from Kansas. She's a white woman. Your father, African. Are you concerned that you may go into the voting booth and --

OBAMA: I won't know what to do.

STEWART: Your white half will all of a sudden decide -- I can't do this.

OBAMA: Yes, yes. It's a problem.


BROWN: So much for the Bradley effect. Larry King is up next with a very special guest tonight. Larry, tell us more.

LARRY KING, CNN ANCHOR: Oh, Campbell, five days and counting. Which way are the political winds blowing tonight? The red and the blue states are looking kind of purple.

Polls show the numbers are moving but for whom. We'll check in with CNN correspondents on the campaign trail for all the up-to-the- minute action. Lots of terrific guests, too. Ben Stein is back.

"LARRY KING LIVE" is next, Campbell.

BROWN: All right, Larry. We'll see you in a few minutes.

After Sarah Palin met with her national security advisers today, she then blasted Obama as incapable of keeping America safe. We talked to the first female secretary of state to see if she thinks Obama is ready. One-on-one with Madeleine Albright when we come back.


BROWN: A policy event, another policy event today for Governor Sarah Palin. She got a briefing on national security from a posse of top advisers, including former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, former CIA Director Jim Woolsey, and former Navy Secretary John Lehman.

Now today, we got a top national security warning from the country's top intelligence officer. Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell said, "I would say that (ph) the period of most vulnerability for the United States is the first year of a new president." Few people know more about what our next president will face than Madeleine Albright, former secretary of state in the Clinton administration. She is the author of "Memo to the President Elect: How We Can Restore America's Reputation and Leadership" and I spoke with her yesterday.


BROWN: Madam Secretary, Joe Biden has said that we are going to see a major international crisis within the first six months of an Obama presidency if, in fact, he was elected. The way Biden put it is that someone or something would test the mettle of this young president. Do you think that our enemies would be more likely to challenge Obama than they would John McCain given his years of experience on foreign policy issues?

MADELEINE ALBRIGHT, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: The thing I've said, Campbell, is that no matter what, the unexpected will happen, whoever is president. And while I've written about the fact that there are all kinds of issues that are out there, you have to expect the unexpected.

BROWN: But along with that, along with whatever we can't predict, are the things that we already know are on the table and are going to be waiting for the next president on day one, as soon as he walks into the door of the White House -- Iraq, Iran, North Korea, Afghanistan. What are the top three initial challenges do you think a new president is going to have to grapple with?

ALBRIGHT: Well, first of all, it's going to be a very difficult presidency, but I think that the next president is going to have to deal with what I call six big umbrella issues, and they're hard to prioritize because they all have to be dealt with. How to fight terrorism without creating more terrorists; how to deal with a broken proliferation system so that the worst weapons don't get into the hands of the worst people; how to deal with the negative aspects of globalization, the growing gap between the rich and the poor, the issues of energy and environment, rising food prices; how to restore the good name of democracy and the global financial crisis. And then these two hot wars and their unintended consequences, Afghanistan and Pakistan, and Iraq and Iran. And then the issues you mentioned, North Korea, dealing with the Middle East. So there are tons of issues.

I think that what we need to do, Campbell, is not to expect everything to be solved in a hundred days, that the next president will in fact talk to the American people, explain the priorities, ask for patience, and then do two things immediately, close Guantanamo, because that will send a very strong signal and join in a very active way the global climate change talks because that sends another signal about how we will work and start pulling the troops out of Iraq.

BROWN: Where do you think the hot spots are likely to be, the trouble areas, the potential places where an unexpected crisis might emerge, be it Syria, be it Iran, what the new administration would really need to have their guard up about? ALBRIGHT: I think we know what the really serious issues are. They do have to do with nuclear proliferation and Kim Jong-il and North Korea, and whether those talks will really be carried out. What happens with Iran, Pakistan.

Pakistan has everything that gives you an international migraine. It has nuclear weapons, corruption, poverty, extremism, a terrible financial situation, a government that's just come in that's not very strong and is in a location that is absolutely essential in terms of dealing with Afghanistan, so the kind of Afghanistan, Pakistan part. And then the Iraq issues and the neighborhood there, so any number of places. And I think the hard part here is that nobody knows.


BROWN: Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

Bill Maher with us here tomorrow night.

We'll see you then.