Return to Transcripts main page
ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Number Five on the Ten Most Wanted Culprits of the Collapse; Candidates Trading Jokes; Wall Street Whiplash; On the Homestretch
Aired October 16, 2008 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Another heart-stopping day on Wall Street, a bipolar day, down nearly 400 points, finally ending 400 points higher. What comes next? We're following the Asian markets throughout the night. At the moment, they are mixed.
Ali Velshi will be here shortly to talk about what all this means to you.
But we begin with major new developments in the presidential race. Fresh from the debate, Barack Obama warning supporters not to get complacent; John McCain trying to turn a feisty performance last night into the makings of comeback, but playing defense, campaigning in states that used to be solid red, but now up for grabs.
Moments ago, both men shared the floor and some laughs at the annual Al Smith political dinner here in New York. It was a side of both men, frankly, we have rarely seen.
Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Events are moving fast in my campaign. And, yes, it's true that, this morning, I have dismissed my entire team of senior advisors. All of their positions will now be held by a man named Joe the Plumber.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: There was a point in my life when I started palling around with a pretty ugly crowd. I have got be honest. These guys were serious deadbeats. They were lowlifes. They were unrepentant, no-good punks. That's right. I have been a member of the United States Senate.
OBAMA: Come to think of it, John, I swear I saw you in one of our meetings.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: A few laughs tonight.
But, on the trail today, the race is nothing but serious. We will have more from that dinner ahead.
But, right now, on the trail, here's Candy Crowley.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Different generations, personalities, and philosophies. One is up, the other down. But, less than three weeks out, they do share a mission, convincing voters it's not over.
OBAMA: We are 19 days away from changing this country.
CROWLEY: Barack Obama began his day in New Hampshire, the nation's first primary state, and the first primary he lost.
OBAMA: But for those who are getting a little cocky, I have got two words for you: New Hampshire.
I learned right here, with the help of my great friend and supporter Hillary Clinton that you cannot let up. You can't pay too much attention to polls.
CROWLEY: This may take practice, because, earlier, at a $30,000-per- person New York fund-raiser Obama all but solicited resumes.
OBAMA: Once we're done, there's extraordinary expertise in this room, and we're going to need good advice.
CROWLEY: There is a fine line between hubris and confidence. Hubris could turn off the persuadables and the undecideds. And it could convince some of the faithful they can stay home.
Confidence is presidential. And there is good reason for it. It is a story told in Obama's itinerary. From New Hampshire, he works his way through a string of red states, Virginia, Missouri, North Carolina, and Florida, George Bush states in 2004.
The campaign also eyes a return of campaign workers to Georgia and a play for North Dakota, West Virginia, and Kentucky. It's not just about running up the score, but about helping down-ballot candidates, particularly those running for the U.S. Senate, where Democrats hope to reach the magic 60, the number of lawmakers it takes to break a filibuster.
MCCAIN: The real winner last night was Joe the Plumber.
Joe's the man.
CROWLEY: John McCain is in search of a little more Joe-mo' and a little less George Bush.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCAIN: The last eight years haven't worked very well, have they? I will make the next four better.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CROWLEY: As he pushes away from the president and tries to embrace the working class, McCain is also doing battle on a third front. Even as Obama can't afford look as though he's already won, McCain can't seem as though he's already lost. It could depress the turnout of his Republican base and tempt undecideds to go with the flow of the polls.
McCain's first post-debate stop was Pennsylvania, where he is down by 13 points.
MCCAIN: We never give up. We never quit. We never hide from history. We make history.
CROWLEY: McCain's upcoming travel tells the rest of the story. Pennsylvania, which hasn't voted for a Republican president since 1988, is the exception.
McCain, like Obama, is beginning his own red state tour, Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, Ohio. The difference is, McCain is on defense in his own territory.
COOPER: Was there any mention today on the campaign trail, Candy, of Bill Ayers?
CROWLEY: No, there wasn't, not on the campaign trail. And you're beginning to see sort of a classic campaign, because what the McCain campaign and the Republican National Committee has done, it has begun to put out hundreds of thousands of robocalls.
COOPER: Right. I have been getting e-mails from Democrats all day complaining about these robocalls.
CROWLEY: Yes, they're not very happy, right.
And -- and, basically, it says you should know about Bill Ayers and you should know about his relationship to Barack Obama, and you should know that there's a left-wing agenda with Congress and Barack Obama.
COOPER: Are these robocalls anything out of the ordinary? I mean, certainly, for people who disagree with them, they're sleazy and unappealing and outrageous, but, in terms, of the normal course of a campaign, is this -- does it often happen?
CROWLEY: It happens all of the time. And, in fact, it happened against John McCain in South Carolina when he ran in 2000 in that primary. But they never could catch up with who was doing the robocalls.
What really sort of was interesting to me was that I called the RNC and said, are you -- listen, I want to know about these robocalls. And they -- I said, are you doing them? They said, yes, hang on. I will read you the script.
So, it's not as though it's some subterranean whispering that's going on there. They just put it right out there on the line. They believe that this is an issue for them which is beginning to move people. They think those -- they think those people who haven't decided are doubtful. And what they're doing is sowing doubts.
COOPER: Is the Obama campaign doing these robocalls? Is the DNC doing these kind of robocalls?
CROWLEY: I imagine -- I imagine -- not that I know of right now. I imagine they will do some sort of robocall. What the content can be -- they can be positive as well, as you know.
CROWLEY: I don't know what the content would be with the Obama.
COOPER: All right, Candy, thanks much, on the trail tonight.
And what you're seeing on the trail, or what Candy just showed us, is even plainer to see on the magic map across the board, as only John King can show it -- John.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, a little simple math shows you the challenge facing John McCain coming out of the final presidential debate, heading into the last 18, 19 days of campaigning.
We now project Obama would win 277 electoral votes if the election were today, at least 277. And you need 270 to win the White House.
Look at the gold states. This underscores the challenge for John McCain. All of our gold states, the tossup states still, only six left, all of them went for George W. Bush four years ago, including Florida, 27 electoral votes. Let's, for the sake of argument, give it to John McCain.
North Carolina, and 15, again, for the sake of argument, to show the steep hill he faces, give it to McCain. Same thing with Ohio, 20 electoral votes. Over here, battleground Missouri, 11 electoral votes. Colorado, a big battleground, Obama leads narrowly at the moment, but, again, for the sake of hypothetical, let's give that one up, and Nevada as well.
Even if John McCain swept the remaining tossup states, which is by far guaranteed, he would still trail Barack Obama in the Electoral College. So, the challenge for McCain and the Republicans, look at this map, pick a blue state that you have to turn red. It's the only way to get there under our current projection.
McCain today focusing here on the state of Pennsylvania, but it is a huge challenge. Not only is he down 12, 13 points in some of the polls at the moment, but where he is campaigning is undergoing one of the biggest changes in American politics. And that is the suburbs, McCain here in Chester County, carried -- carried narrowly four years ago by President Bush, but, more and more, the suburbs are shifting Democrats.
That is underscored by the fact that, in neighboring Montgomery County, and in Bucks County, just outside of Philadelphia, four years ago, there were more registered Republicans. This year, Anderson, in a key part of a critical state, more registered Democrats -- a very steep hill for John McCain. Many Republicans, looking at the map, not quite sure where he can find a blue state and turn it red -- Anderson.
COOPER: John King across the board -- thanks, John.
Let us know where you think the race now stands. Go to AC360.com. Let us know. We will be blogging through the hour. And you can check out the live Web casts during the breaks. Jason Carroll is sitting in for Erica tonight.
Up next, the guy who got more shout-outs on the economy last night than Paulson and Bernanke combined, Joe the Plumber.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCAIN: My old buddy Joe, Joe the Plumber.
OBAMA: I'm happy to talk to you, Joe.
MCCAIN: People like Joe the Plumber.
Joe, I want to tell you...
Hey, Joe, you're rich.
OBAMA: That includes you, Joe.
MCCAIN: I want Joe, you, to do the job.
OBAMA: The conversation I had with Joe the plumber.
MCCAIN: What Joe wanted to do...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Both candidates still talking about him today -- the global media camping out on this guy's lawn. It turns out, though, he is not a plumber. That's all we have learned -- that's not all we have learned. We have got details ahead.
And another nail-biting, up-and-down day on Wall Street. Ali Velshi on what you can do to protect yourself.
And who is to blame? We are naming names, another in our Ten most wanted culprits of the collapse -- tonight, a big company that promised the American dream that pretty much guaranteed it would turn it into a nightmare.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. SARAH PALIN (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: We want to cut taxes because we think that Joe the Plumber and others who are working so hard are the backbone of the American economy. That is the fundamental of our American economy, the workers, the small businesses. And that is strong.
OBAMA: He's trying to suggest that a plumber is the guy he's fighting for.
OBAMA: How many plumbers do you know making $250,000 a year?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: We heard a lot of about Joe the Plumber today on the trail and, moments ago, at the Al Smith Dinner. We have also learned quite a bit on our own.
It turns out, Joe is not actually a licensed plumber. He admits he is not making anywhere close to a quarter-million dollars. So, in fact, he would be getting money back under the Obama tax plan. He also owes back taxes, according to local court documents.
Clearly, the media has been looking all over this guy. His name is actually not Joe. At least, that's not his first name. His name is Sam, Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher. And he had plenty on his mind today. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE WURZELBACHER, RESIDENT OF OHIO: Social Security is a joke. I like to -- you know, I have parents. I don't need another set of parents called the government.
You know, let me take my money and invest it how I please. Social Security, I have never believed in, don't like it. I hate that it is forced on me.
You know, as far as for my son, you know, I want him to live in an America that he is proud of. I'm tired of people downing America, saying that we are this bad country. I mean, that upsets me and my friends greatly.
You know, we are the greatest country in the world. Stop apologizing for it. I mean, really, that just -- I get real mad about that. I'm not sorry for being American. I'm not sorry for having the things I have. I have worked for them. I'm not sorry that, you know, that I wish that our borders were closed and that you have to come through in a legal manner.
I'm not -- I'm not sorry for any of those things. I'm not sorry that we are in Iraq. I mean, you know, my friends in the military that have come back and told me the thanks that they have received for us being there, that doesn't get enough play.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Joe will soon have his own cable news show.
Joining me now, CNN senior political analyst David Gergen, GOP strategist and CNN senior political contributor Ed Rollins, who supports John McCain, and Obama supporter CNN political analyst Roland Martin.
So, David, is McCain benefiting from all the attention that Joe is getting?
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think he was for a while. But I -- when we found out he was Sam the non-plumber, it changed a little bit.
I'm glad you had to give him a chance, though, to voice his opinion, because he does -- I think he does give voice to those of a lot of Americans who don't often get on national television. So, I thought that's fine.
But I think we are going to move on pretty fast. I can't -- I -- it does illustrate, as well, Anderson, I don't understand why the McCain team didn't vet the guy before they made such a -- made such a focus on him on national television.
I can guarantee you that the George W. Bush campaign, you know, which ran a highly-disciplined campaign, would have vetted and would have known before he went out there about his status, his personal status.
You feel a little sorry for him, that he got put in this position.
You know, Roland, we just heard Obama kind of joking about McCain's support for Joe the non-plumber, or sort of the plumber, or whatever he is. Does Obama, though, need to be careful? I mean, he warned his own supporters today about being complacent.
Does Obama need to be careful about coming off as a little bit kind of dismissive at times?
ROLAND MARTIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think so.
I mean, again, the issue not really this individual guy and his background. It's really what this guy represents. And, so, I think what Obama has to do is, he's not getting caught playing around with Joe, you know, the fake plumber or whatever, but, again, stay focused on the big issues.
If -- you saw how he scored well last night. He scored well when he got to health care. I mean, numbers were off the charts, when he focused on education. Even when he gave a very strong answer dealing with the Supreme Court, if he stays focused on those issues, not dealing with the small issues, he looks larger. He looks more presidential. That's where he has to remain and, again, get his people to the polls. Turnout is key.
COOPER: Ed, the reaction shots last night, side by side, you saw John McCain often kind of being dismissive of Obama. You saw Obama at times smiling and kind of laughing at some of the things John McCain was saying, kind of shaking his head.
How do you think that played out? And how can John McCain have allowed himself to be caught like that?
ED ROLLINS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: First of all, let me just give a little advice, unsolicited advice to Joe the plumber.
Get Joe the plumber on your truck with a 1-800 number and keep your mouth shut and go make a fortune doing plumbing work.
COOPER: Get a license to be a plumber, and start doing it.
ROLLINS: Absolutely. Be a plumber. Do what you do well.
John McCain has a disdain for Barack Obama. And it is -- you know, he has been running for president for 10 years, almost. And I think it just shows. He's on the stage with this young guy. And he just -- he resents that he -- he just -- and it shows.
Now, anybody should have given him the strategy that you -- basically, you are on camera the whole entire 90 minutes. Never show pain. Never show expression. Every -- just basically take your notes, pay attention, because I think that was as demeaning -- it was almost like Captain Queeg. You know, it was...
COOPER: He was strong for the first 30 minutes or so, David, and then he basically kind of did himself in, in some respects.
GERGEN: He did, Anderson. And we talked about that last night.
He swerved off track. And I think Ed is right. There is a disdain.
There must be a lot of pent-up frustration and anger in him, too, because it just -- he just seemed to erupt when it got over to the negativity of the campaign. He clearly feels he has been wronged in a variety of ways. That's not the way most Americans see it.
But, when we heard Cindy McCain the other day saying, this has been the sleaziest campaign run against her husband ever, you know, there's -- they clearly have convinced themselves that they have been more victimized than the aggressors.
And I think it did hurt him last night. I mean, I thought he was on the way to winning the debate. He made his best start of any debate we have seen. Many Republicans woke up today, were encouraged.
But I think it cost him the debate in the eyes of voters, so that they went down 3-0 in the debates.
He fell for the political rope-a-dope.
And that was, when Obama threw out -- I had never seen Obama do this. When Obama threw out, "He won't say it to my face," I was sitting there going, he doesn't do that. He drew McCain in. He knew his anger was going to take over. And that whole stretch of John Lewis and William Ayers, that's where his numbers began to slide down. He got off focus. You're absolutely right. He was doing great the first 30 minutes. He got off focus.
MARTIN: And Obama stayed consistent.
COOPER: Let's talk about what happened today on the trail and what is happening -- going to be happening in the weeks ahead, not too many weeks, though.
Robocalls, Candy Crowley mentioned it in her piece. Is this just par for the course? Democrats are up in arms about these RNC robocalls talking about Bill Ayers.
ROLLINS: You know, every campaign, there's -- they are one of the underlying bad things about politics. And I have never believed they are effective.
But I think the bottom line is, this thing...
COOPER: Not effective because, what, they alienate as many people as they...
ROLLINS: They alienate people. And it's -- your sort of robocall is calling someone's answering machine, you know, and no one sits there and listens to the message.
I think the critical thing here is, John McCain -- and where I differ a little bit with Roland is, this campaign is about the economy. And I think the one thing that was missing last night is, they didn't devote the real time and energy -- no one cares about charter schools today. Nobody cares about the abortion issues.
Right now, they all are drowning in the economy. John McCain had an opportunity to take that tax issue and say raising taxes on any Americans at this point in time will deepen this recession. Big- spending programs will affect -- this is the traditional Democrat -- and spreading the wealth around is the old Robin Hood style of taking from the rich, giving to the poor. And that's a traditional Democrat.
COOPER: Ed, you had said -- Ed, days ago, you had said that you thought this was essentially over for John McCain. Do you see any light for John McCain? I mean, do you...
ROLLINS: Well, I -- I think -- I mean, first of all, the numbers aren't good for him. And, certainly, nothing happened last -- I think he gave his best performance, but nothing turned it around.
But what I would say, for the next two weeks, if he goes out and does nothing but hammer away on this, it may close it up a little bit, and who knows.
MARTIN: I disagree on the robocalls. I disagree on the robocalls.
New Hampshire, Hillary Clinton, they targeted female voters in New Hampshire with those issues. That's what got them out. And, so, they must be careful with that. Again, Obama must combat that and not just say, hey, it is out of bounds. They could be effective in narrowing this race.
GERGEN: Anderson, I just want to add one thing here.
And that is, on the overnight tracking polls going into the debate last night, we learned today that John McCain has been edging up a little bit in the last 48 hours or so.
I continue to believe this is not yet over, and Obama is right to go out and warn his supporters against complacency.
MARTIN: I agree.
COOPER: Does he need to warn his own campaign against that, or do you think there's no...
COOPER: ... signs that the campaign itself is being complacent?
Roland, you think they are?
MARTIN: He must -- he must warn the campaign. We saw what happened in New Hampshire, but also what took place when they were in Texas, when they were dealing with Ohio and Pennsylvania, how his people sort of laid back, said, oh, why doesn't she just drop out? They did get complacent.
And, so, turnout is key for him. And, so, they have to have large black turnout, young voters, those independent voters.
MARTIN: They must create the impression that we are still the underdog, no doubt.
COOPER: I just want to point out that we -- we love all members of the best political team on television equally.
But, before we go, David, yesterday, a writer named Jessi Klein blogged on Tina Brown's new Web site, The Daily Beast.
GERGEN: I can't believe you are doing this to me.
COOPER: It was basically a confession of love for you, David Gergen.
And I know a lot of people around the world, frankly, agree with this.
In part, she wrote: "How do I love David Gergen? Let me count the ways?"
COOPER: "I love his low, quiet voice. You know how Bed Bath & Beyond sells those white noise machines that help you sleep, and they usually make ocean noises?"
"I want one that's just -- that's just David Gergen gently muttering about the economy"
GERGEN: I can't -- I can't believe that Anderson Cooper groupies are migrating away.
COOPER: Oh, David -- David, there's more.
We invited Jessi Klein to tape a personal message to you.
GERGEN: Oh, you did not.
COOPER: Watch and enjoy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JESSI KLEIN, WRITER/COMEDIAN: Hi, David Gergen.
I'm Jessi Klein, and I'm the author of an article entitled, "I'm in Love with David Gergen," because I am. I hope that doesn't make you uncomfortable, because the thing is, there are millions of other people all across the country who, like me, are madly in love with you.
So, on behalf of all of us, I just wanted to say, thank you for being the most objective, intelligent, truthful analyst on television, and for always being super hot and dreamy while you're doing it.
Keep on being all adorable and Gergeny, and we will keep on loving you.
Anderson, I love you too, but my heart belongs to Gergen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROLLINS: David, that means there's hope for us old men.
MARTIN: ... daddy of politics.
GERGEN: I -- I can't believe I was ambushed on your show.
COOPER: You deserve it.
I can't tell you how many people have said the exact same thing when they read that. They said, oh, my God -- they have been e- mailing that around, saying, oh, my God, I thought I was the only one.
MARTIN: Anderson -- Anderson...
COOPER: Yes, Roland?
MARTIN: He's the mack daddy of politics.
COOPER: Yes, David Gergen is the mack daddy of politics.
David, thank you. Ed, thank you. And, Roland, thanks.
Straight ahead: McCain and Obama like you have never seen them before, funny, and serious, tonight, sharing the stage here in New York. We will be playing you long clips, the best moments, starting with some words from Senator Obama.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: We have moved past the days when the main criticism coming from the McCain campaign was that I'm some kind of celebrity. I have to admit that that really hurt. I got so angry about it I punched a paparazzi in the face on my way out of Spago's.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Can McCain out-roast Obama? See for yourself tonight.
But, first, the latest on the economic chaos, a roller-coaster day on Wall Street. We are watching Asian markets react right now. Ali Velshi tells us what it all means.
COOPER: Quickly update you on some breaking news: Asia Pacific markets are open. They are mixed right now, up slightly in Japan, Singapore and New Zealand, down slightly in Australia and Hong Kong, down sharply in Taiwan -- this following another turbulent day here in America.
The Dow down nearly 400 points today, before staging a late rally to close up 400 points. At the same time, the price of oil fell below $70 a barrel, a 16-month low. That's the good news.
Let's try to make sense of it all with CNN senior business correspondent Ali Velshi.
Ali, going up, going down, what does it all mean?
ALI VELSHI, CNN SENIOR BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, this report was actually taped yesterday. I can just tell you, markets went up, markets down.
It's unbelievable. This Dow was down 380 points today. And then look at what happened. It just started going higher and higher and higher. And, again, it's always that last hour we see this charge one way or the other. This time, it was up to 401.
Let's take a look at how it has looked for the week, though, because that will really give you a sense of what this market is doing. It has been trading in that band. That yellow area is that band that a lot of people think might be the formation of a bottom of this market, between 8,500 and 9,000. We see the bottom of it. At the top the band, we were up 936 points on Monday, then down 76 on Tuesday, then down 733 points -- 733 points -- on Wednesday, and then up 401 today.
What a lot of experts are saying is, you are going to see a lot of volatility in that region, and it could be for months.
So, for those of you looking at your 401(k)s, don't stress about this. When we're looking at a bottom of a market, maybe the formation of a bottom of a market, this is the kind of activity you are going to see for a while.
Those oil prices you talked about, that's a big part of it -- Anderson.
COOPER: So, what does that mean? Oil prices dropped. That means gasoline prices dropped. How does that fit into the big picture?
VELSHI: OK. Bottom line, we haven't seen oil at these prices since August of 2007. We have seen a 52 -- I'm sorry -- yes, August of 2007, more than a year.
We have seen a 52 percent drop since July, when oil hit $147 a barrel, the highest it's ever been. Now we're at $69.85 a barrel. That has meant a 25 percent drop since the high of the price of a gallon of gas. We're looking at $3.08 as a national average, lower than $3 in many parts of country. Alaska is the only state that has an average above $4 a gallon now.
Now, the thinking on the stock market is, the less you have to pay for you oil, your heating oil here in the Northeast as it gets colder, and your gasoline, the more money that leaves you with to spend money. And the stock market, as we have discussed, isn't a market. It's a lot of companies. And those companies depend on Americans going out and spending.
So, the relief at the pump might result in more money spent at Christmas. And maybe that's part of why you are seeing this enthusiasm on market today -- Anderson.
COOPER: All right, Ali Velshi, thanks for sorting it out.
Who is to blame for this financial fiasco? That's what we have been investigating. We are naming names, our "Ten Most Wanted Culprits of the Collapse." We're adding another name to our list. Find out who, ahead.
Also, John McCain finally sitting down with David Letterman. He was a no-show last month, too busy, he said. This time, he made it. It hasn't aired yet, but we have a tape. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN")
DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, "THE LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN": Thank you very much for being here.
MCCAIN: Thank you.
Thank you for the bus tour. LETTERMAN: Sure.
MCCAIN: And a little trip down memory lane there.
LETTERMAN: Yes. Yes.
But can you stay?
MCCAIN: Yes, sir.
Depends on how bad it gets.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So, did McCain win over Letterman? We will show you just ahead.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: We are naming names tonight; part of our promise to keep investigating who is responsible for this financial crisis. We have already named five culprits of collapse. Coming up, another name is added to our ten most wanted list.
First, Jason Carroll joins us with the "360 News and Business Bulletin" -- hey, Jason.
JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Anderson.
We just focus on some developing news that we've been following.
The Associated Press is reporting that the FBI is now investigating whether the community activist group ACORN helped promote voter registration fraud in at least eight states. Investigators are said to be looking for any evidence of a coordinated national scam. ACORN officials say they haven't been contacted by any federal law enforcement agencies. They say they noticed the issues and reached out to law enforcement themselves.
Social security benefits for 50 million Americans will rise 5.8 percent next year; the largest cost of living increase in more than a quarter century. The average retiree will receive an extra $63 per month starting in January.
The presidential election is 19 days away, but Ireland's biggest bookie called the race today for Barack Obama; shelling out more than $1 million to pay off winning bets. If the Dublin bookmaker turns out to be wrong, he will have to pay off all the bets backing McCain. Ouch. That's going to be a lot of money.
And Senator John McCain sat down with David Letterman today three weeks after canceling an appearance on the comedian's show to deal with the economy.
Here is a little bit of what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST: Now what exactly happened? I --
See, here, I thought I was doing my part to save the economy. And then later I get to think well, maybe I'm just not important enough.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Can I give you an answer?
MCCAIN: I screwed up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARROLL: Honesty is the best policy -- Anderson.
COOPER: Jason, the McCain/Palin ticket continues to make the rounds on late night comedy this weekend. Sarah Palin is actually going to make an appearance on "Saturday Night Live." No word yet on whether she will be playing the role of Tina Fey.
So here's tonight's "Beat 360" photo; Barack Obama and John McCain walking off the stage after last night's debate. McCain was poking fun at himself after trying to exit the stage in the wrong direction and ended up with this awkward picture.
Here's the caption from our staff winner, Joey: "Senator McCain tries valiantly to make good on his promise to lick Obama in the final debate."
Think you can do better? Go to ac360.com, click on the "Beat 360" link. Send us your entry. We will have the winner at the end of the program. The winner gets the "Beat 360" t-shirt.
Still ahead, owning a home; the American dream, of course, turned nightmare for millions of homeowners, victims of unscrupulous lending. We'll put another name on the list of "Our Ten Most Wanted Culprits of the Collapse."
And a side to the candidates never seen before, a lighter side, happened less than an hour ago. Take a look.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Looking around tonight at all the gourmet food and champagne it's clear that no expenses spared. It's like an executive sales meeting at AIG.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: That's our "Ten Most Wanted List: The Culprits of the Collapse." So far we have named five names; men who've helped create the crisis that put your family's financial security and our whole country in jeopardy.
Very few people are stepping up to take responsibility, you might have noticed. That's one of the frustrating things about this crisis. We think it is important that you know who got us into this mess.
We promised to keep naming names and tonight we take a look at a big home building company; Beazer Homes, U.S.A. They are added to our list.
Here is Gary Tuchman.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Faith Tennyson only wanted a safe home for her son.
FAITH TENNYSON, HOMEOWNER: I lived in a 550-square foot one bedroom apartment just around the corner.
TUCHMAN: Then a sales agent pitched what seemed a dream opportunity.
TENNYSON: He said don't worry. You are going to get in your house. We will pick out your lot today.
I picked out my lot the same day.
TUCHMAN: He was selling houses in a Charlotte, North Carolina subdivision for Beazer Homes, USA; one of the nation's largest home builders.
Beazer was also a mortgage broker at the time, arranging your loan to buy the house. Beazer did the same in other North Carolina developments.
Tell me how you felt as a young pregnant couple when this woman told you, you can afford this house?
LEA TINGLEY, HOMEOWNER: Oh, my gosh, I cried. I was so happy because I was like, this is it.
MARK TINGLEY, HOMEOWNER: Finally.
L. TINGLEY: My life is perfect.
TUCHMAN: Lee and Mark Tingley say Beazer paid part of their mortgage for a year to help them qualify. Then payments skyrocketed, more than they were told.
L. TINGLEY: We sold a lot of things to make the mortgage payment.
TUCHMAN: What did you sell?
L. TINGLEY: Gold coins that have been passed down in my family, heirlooms.
TUCHMAN: The Tingleys and Faith Tennyson say they later found in their mortgage applications information that didn't match what they told Beazer agents; inaccuracies that inflated their income and reduced their debt. An investigation by the "Charlotte Observer" found a pattern of such inaccuracies on Beazer applications that helped low income home buyers get mortgages.
REP. BRAD MILLER, (D) NORTH CAROLINA: This is an unusual circumstance of a builder who is getting people into loans they can't afford so they can sell houses.
TUCHMAN: Many could not make the payments. Now in ten Beazer developments here, one of five homes is being foreclosed on, dragging down the value of other homes. The Tennyson and the Tingley homes are worth less than their mortgages.
It's a scenario that inflicts many neighborhoods across the country. Property is allowed to deteriorate. Crime increases. That is often what foreclosures foreshadow.
Why would Beazer agents arrange mortgage that home buyers now say they couldn't afford? The Tingleys, Tennyson and others say it's because Beazer gets paid when it sells a house, even if the buyer defaults. The government insures the mortgages and you the taxpayer foot the bill.
Many families have sued Beazer including the Tennysons and Tingleys. The Tingleys plan to appeal the dismissal of their suit which they say was unjustified.
We asked Beazer why so many of its houses have been foreclosed on. The company declined an interview but it's "vigorously defending against the lawsuits." The FBI, the IRS and other federal officials are investigating potential fraud. Beazer says it has fully cooperated. An internal investigation found evidence that employees violated federal regulations back to at least 2000.
Both families say they are barely holding on. Because their houses are worth so little, they can't afford to sell them and leave.
L. TINGLEY: We are stuck here. We can't do anything about it.
TUCHMAN: And that's why Beazer is one of our "Ten Most Wanted Culprits of the Collapse."
Gary Tuchman, CNN, Charlotte, North Carolina.
COOPER: Well, we believe in naming names. Ian McCarthy is the CEO and president of Beazer Homes, USA. And according to "Morning Star," his total compensation last year was nearly $5 million. In 2006, we should point out, it was $22 million.
So let's make it official; Ian McCarthy now joins our "Ten Most Wanted Culprits of the Collapse." We began last week with Joe Cassano from AIG, followed by Richard Fuld from Lehman Brothers, Chris Cox from the SEC, Senator Phil Gramm of Texas and former chairman of the Federal Reserve, Alan Greenspan. Back on the campaign trail; early polling giving McCain a win in the fourth showdown between the two presidential candidates. Yes, I said the fourth one. It happened just about an hour ago at an event here in New York City.
Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCAIN: I just call him, "that one." He even has a pet name for me, George Bush.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: More of the McCain/Obama showdown for laughs when we continues.
COOPER: The day after their last debate, Senators McCain and Obama were back under one roof. It was all for laughs as we mentioned earlier.
The candidates were here in New York tonight as key note speakers of the Alfred E. Smith Memorial dinner and fund-raiser for the city's archdiocese. It has become a traditional stop for presidential hopefuls.
This evening, McCain and Obama traded jokes and a barb or three. Coming up, you will hear from Senator Obama, but first, here is Senator McCain in his own words.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCAIN: Events are moving fast at my campaign. And yes, it's true that this morning I've dismissed my entire team of senior advisers, all of their positions will now be held by a man named Joe the Plumber. This campaign needed the common touch of working man.
After all, it began so long ago with the heralded arrival of a man known to Oprah Winfrey as "the one." Being a friend and colleague of Barack, I just called him "that one." Friends, he doesn't mind at all. In fact, he even has a pet name for me, George Bush.
Even in this room full of proud Manhattan Democrats, I can't, I can't shake that feeling that some people here are pulling for me. I'm delighted to see you here tonight, Hillary.
Of course, it would be unfair and even a little unkind to put my opponent on the spot before he gets up here or to throw him off his game one reasonably high expectations. But I do need to warn you, ladies and gentlemen, you all are all out about to witness the funniest performance in the 63-year history of this event.
Let's not add to the mounting pressure he must be feeling. Just prepare yourself for nonstop hilarity. The funniest 15 minutes of your life or any other. I think he knows that anything short of that would mar the evening, insult our hosts, and perhaps even cost him several swing states. Senator Obama, the microphone is all yours.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Just ahead, Senator Obama in his own words. See how he did. Same room, same crowd, same goal. You be the judge of how he did.
Plus before they sat down to dinner, both candidates are on the trail fresh off the debate heading into the final stretch. The end game begins when 360 continues.
COOPER: Great night for Senators McCain and Obama. Last night at the debate, they talked serious. Tonight, all about laughs.
The candidates are attending a charity event here in New York. The goal is to get the crowd to chuckle. A moment ago you heard from Senator McCain. Now, Barack Obama in his own words.
OBAMA: I am especially honored to be here tonight with my distinguished opponent, Senator John McCain. I think it is a tribute to American democracy that, with two weeks left in a hard-fought election, the two of us could come together and sit down at the same dinner table without preconditions.
Now -- now, recently, one of John's top advisers told the "Daily News" that if we keep talking about the economy, McCain is going to lose. So tonight, I'd like to talk about the economy.
Now, given all that's happened these past few weeks on Wall Street, it feels like an odd time to be dressed up in white tie. But I must say I got a great deal, rented the whole outfit from the Treasury Department at a very good price. \ Looking around tonight at all the gourmet food and champagne, it's clear that no expenses were spared. It's like an executive sales meeting at AIG.
Who is Barack Obama? Contrary to the rumors that you have heard, I was not born in a manger. I was -- I was actually born on Krypton and sent here by my father Jor-el to save the planet earth.
Many of you -- many of you know that I got my name, Barack, from my father. What you may not know is Barack is actually Swahili for "that one." And I got my middle name from somebody who obviously didn't think I'd ever run for president.
And to name my greatest strength, I guess it would be my humility. My greatest weakness, it's possible that I am a little too awesome.
But in the spirit of full disclosure, there are a few October surprises you'll be finding out about in the coming weeks. First of all my middle name is not what you think. It's actually Steve. That's right: Barack Steve Obama.
COOPER: Coming up, Joe the plumber's next move. Fame and fortune maybe subbing for Larry King. Look at what may be in store for him. It's our "Shot of the Day."
COOPER: Coming up, our "Beat 360" winner. Jason, it's our daily challenge to viewers to come up with a caption better than the one we can come up with for a photo that's on our blog.
Tonight's picture of Barack Obama and John McCain, walking off the stage after last night's debate. A rather awkward picture, McCain kind of poking fun at himself after trying to exit the stage in the wrong direction.
So our staff winner, Joey, his caption: "Senator McCain tries valiantly to make good on his promise to lick Obama in the final debate."
The viewer winner is Eric from Saddle River, New Jersey. His caption: "Rather than tackling tough questions during the debate, McCain decides to tackle his opponent."
I think the licking was better.
CARROLL: You're right, the licking was better.
COOPER: Eric, your "Beat 360" T-shirt is on the way. Congratulations.
You can check out all the entries we received on our blog. Play along tomorrow at the Web site, AC360.com.
So let's check out tonight's "Shot." As you know, Jason, Joe "The Plumber" Wurzelbacher has become famous. He's been holding news conferences outside his Ohio home all day. He's actually probably doing one now. Maybe he's appearing at that dinner, Al Smith dinner.
Anyway, this is just the beginning for Joe. We hear he's going to be a contestant in "Dancing with the Stars;" can't wait for that. Let's have what he would look like in that.
Joe the Plumber is also under consideration to replace Daniel Craig as the next James Bond. And for -- he looks dead in that picture; that's unpleasant. And for Thanksgiving week, Joe the Plumber will be filling in for Larry King.
That does it for this edition of "360." Thanks for watching. Have a great night.
I'll see you tomorrow night.
"Larry King" starts right now.