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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Obama to Visit Ailing Grandmother; Indians Versus the Army and the Police; Sarah Palin on "Saturday Night Live", The Palin Factor

Aired October 20, 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: We begin with breaking news from the campaign trail.
Just a short time ago, Barack Obama's campaign said the senator will take a short break, starting Thursday afternoon, to visit his 85- year-old grandmother, who is seriously ill. Madelyn Dunham lives in Hawaii and helped raise Obama. Michelle Obama will fill in for her husband at his scheduled campaign events in Ohio on Friday. And Senator Obama expects to return to campaigning on Saturday.

Obama's family emergency comes at a critical time in the race, just as the final sprint has come; just two weeks and a day go.

CNN's Candy Crowley joins me now for the breaking news.

Was this a tough decision for the Obama campaign?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I don't think, on a personal level, it was at all, Anderson.

I don't know if you recall, but in his convention speech Obama talked about his grandmother, he talked about how she sacrificed not buying a new car, not buying a new dress to give him the things that he needed. He said listen, this night belongs as much to her to him.

So personally, this certainly was something he felt he needed to do as her condition deteriorates. And honestly, if you take a look at some of the polling in Iowa, where he was scheduled to go and Wisconsin, where he was scheduled to go, frankly, those are states that look pretty solidly at this point for Obama.

But I don't think this had anything to do with looking at those states. I think this had to do with a matter of timing and the campaign was trying to figure out when he should go and I think it had a lot more to do with her health than anything else.

For now of course, Obama continues to campaign and that includes two days here in Florida.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CROWLEY: Together again, not for nothing did Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama join up for the first time since early summer. October 20th is the first day of voting in Florida, a state she won in the primary. SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, (D) NEW YORK: I am asking you to work as hard for Barack as you worked for me. If you made phone calls for me, make them for Barack. If you walked streets for me, make them for Barack. If you talked to your friends and neighbors, do it again for Barack.

CROWLEY: Florida is critical for Obama, which is to say it was a get out the vote mutual admiration event.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Hillary shattered barriers and she inspired millions. Because of what she accomplished, my daughters Malia and Sasha, all our daughters are dreaming a little bit bigger.

CROWLEY: Obama spent his day in Tampa and Orlando, both ends of the I-4 corridor, a pivotal swing area in a swing state.

OBAMA: We want everybody to go to the polls now and go early and we're going to make sure your vote is counted.

CROWLEY: That is Democratic speak for remember 2000 and Obama added a warning telling his audiences of beware of say anything, do anything politics in the final days.

OBAMA: It's getting so bad that Senators McCain's running mate denounced his tactics last night. You have to work really hard to violate Governor Palin's standards on negative campaigning. That's a hard thing to do.

CROWLEY: He holds a small edge in Florida now. John McCain was on top before the economy imploded. The jobless rate is higher here than the national average and the foreclosure rate one of the highest in the country.

The Democratic presidential candidate is channeling Republican icon Ronald Reagan.

OBAMA: The question isn't going to be, are you better off than you were four years ago, the question is are you better off than you were four weeks ago.

CROWLEY: Obama is spending two days in Florida, that's a lot of time in the final days of a campaign. And he's brought in some muscle. Not just Clinton but Michelle Obama and New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, who will reach out to the Latino vote.

The campaign hopes to rack up the score in early voting in a way McCain is not as well-equipped to do. Obama has spent about $15 million more than McCain here and the Obama staff is much larger. And maybe there's a little mileage in that platinum endorsement.

OBAMA: We were thrilled yesterday when a great American statesman, General Colin Powell, joined our cause.

CROWLEY: A high profile supporter of Obama's predicts Powell's endorsement may, quote, "help on the edge with those who still wonder about Obama's foreign policy experience." John McCain noted he has the endorsements of four Former Secretaries of State.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Candy, is it possible that Obama will campaign with Colin Powell?

CROWLEY: Colin Powell has told Barack Obama that he is not a politician and therefore will not be out on the campaign trail with him. But as you saw and heard, was not -- does not mean that Barack Obama can't mention it.

And they do think that there is some luster that comes with this, particularly, again, as I said, because of those who may still doubt whether Barack Obama has the experience to be commander-in-chief.

But by and large, these endorsements are worth a couple of days. Colin Powell, sort of more high profile than others. But they understand that at this point in any race, Anderson, this has to do with the ordinary people who are out there knocking on doors and making phone calls and distributing leaflets. And they understand that.

COOPER: So he's going to be gone to visit his grandmother while starting sometime Thursday until when?

CROWLEY: Thursday until -- he's going to miss Thursday and Friday on the trail and be back Saturday, some place in the west, they think, that would make sense, coming back from Hawaii, for him to stop off some place in the west.

COOPER: OK, Candy thanks.

We're going to have more on the "Breaking News" about Barack Obama taking time off to visit his grandmother.

But first, new poll numbers; tonight CNN's latest poll of polls which is a survey of a number of polls shows Obama inching up a point giving him a seven-point lead over McCain, 51 percent to 44 percent, 5 percent still unsure. Some other polls though, show the race tightening a bit.

100,000 people turned out to see Obama in Missouri this weekend, he's biggest domestic crowd yet and one of the key states that John McCain is fighting hard to keep red.

Now, today in Missouri McCain drew a much smaller crowd on the same suburb Obama visited this weekend but his attacks on Obama's tax plan were tougher than ever. In recent days, McCain and his running mate Sarah Palin have raised the "S" word, socialism.

CNN's Dana Bash is "On the Trail."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Missouri is a state John McCain's advisers told CNN just six weeks ago they hoped to secure and move on. Now, it's neck and neck and he's back.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: With your help, we're going to win Missouri and bring real change to Washington D.C.

BASH: Several thousand people came to see McCain in this St. Louis suburb, two days after Barack Obama drew this unprecedented crowd downtown.

But McCain aides are taking heart in several national polls showing Obama's wide lead narrowing a bit, which advisers attribute to McCain's relentless use of Joe the Plumber to hit Barack Obama's tax plan.

MCCAIN: Barack Obama's plan to raise taxes on some in order to give checks to others, it's not a tax cut, it's just another government give-away that the liberals have been trying to push on America for a long time.

BASH: And even sharper rhetoric, talk of socialism, especially from Sarah Palin, who hammers it now in practically every speech.

GOV. SARAH PALIN, (R) VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Joe the Plumber said it sounded to him like socialism. And now is not the time to experiment with that.

BASH: Still, McCain's urgent challenge is not getting drowned out by Obama and his mind blowing amount of campaign cash.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You did vote with Bush 90 percent of the time.

BASH: Here in Missouri, Obama is outspending McCain on TV ads 2- 1, in other states, much more.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's talk a little bit about your campaign here in Virginia.

BASH: To try to compete, McCain aides say they doubled the number of his local interviews in critical markets. And they're jumping on any opening from camp Obama. Like Joe Biden warning donors at a weekend fund-raiser that America's enemies will quickly test a President Obama.

VOICE OF SEN. JOE BIDEN, (D) VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: "Watch, we've going to have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy. And he's going to have to make some really tough, I don't know what the decision's going to be, but I promise you it will occur."

MCCAIN: We don't want a president who invites testing from the world at a time when our economy is in crisis. And Americans are already fighting in two wars.

BASH: And McCain may close out his campaign talking about something he long ago called out of bounds and vowed not to touch, Obama's relationship with controversial pastor, Jeremiah Wright. A lot of Republicans inside and outside McCain's campaign say Wright should be fair game. And now McCain's campaign manager is telling a conservative radio show that they're quote-unquote "Rethinking their strategy, suggesting that McCain may bring up Wright after all."

Dana Bash, CNN Belton, Missouri.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: We'll have more on the rethinking of their strategy, we'll actually play the sound bite from that radio show that Dana Bash was just talking about.

Barack Obama's sudden decision now to take time off the trail to visit his seriously ill grandmother is our "Breaking News" tonight, as we said, Madelyn Dunham is 85-years-old and she's played a central role in her grandson's life.

Candy Crowley mentioned the remarks Obama made about his grandmother at the Democratic convention and here are some of them.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: She's the one who put off buying a new car or a new dress for herself so that I could have a better life. She poured everything she had into me. And although she can no longer travel I know that she's watching tonight and that tonight is her night as well.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: This comes obviously at a critical time in the campaign. Let's talk "Strategy."

David Gergen, CNN senior political analyst and former adviser to Democratic and Republican presidents, also joining me radio talk show host Joe Madison and Gloria Borger, CNN senior political analyst and columnist for "U.S. News and World Report."

David, what kind of in impact do you think this could have on the race?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Obama taking a couple days off to go to Hawaii, I think will not have much impact on his side of the race, Anderson. I think most people will respect him for going to see a very seriously ill grandmother who has meant so much to him and his upbringing.

It does give an opening to John McCain to dominate the news for a couple days. And that could be precious with just a couple of weeks left. That's very helpful to McCain, if he uses it constructively it could give him a slight advantage. I don't think it hurts Obama but I think it gives an opening to McCain.

COOPER: All right, we're going to have more on this with our panel in a moment. And also weighing in on Colin Powell's endorsement of Obama and Joe Biden is kind of bizarre comments about his running mate, telling voters to gird their loins.

Our panel is going to weigh in on that and more we'll try to explain what exactly that means.

If I can remember my password to logon, I'll be blogging throughout the hour. Join the conversation, go to AC360.com. Also check out Erica Hill's live web cast during the break. It's already just begun.

Also ahead tonight, Sarah Palin and Tina Fey face to face, about a second anyway on the same stage. Palin was a good sport on "Saturday Night Live" but will her cameo help or hurt the McCain campaign.

We'll also look at conservatives who said Palin was a mistake.

And naming names; who's to blame for the financial fiasco? Tonight, another culprit is added to our ten most wanted list. Who is he? How much did he cost you? Find out tonight on "360."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: And when I hear a woman talk about the difficulties of starting her own business or making her way in the world, I think about my grandmother who worked her way up from the secretarial pool to middle management despite years of being passed over for promotions because she was a woman. She's the one who taught me about hard work.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Barack Obama talking about his grandmother at his acceptance speech at the Democratic Convention. That is here there, the story just broke a short time ago, Madelyn Dunham helped raise Obama, she's 85-years-old, and seriously ill.

A short time ago the Obama campaign announced the senator will leave the trail Thursday afternoon to travel to Hawaii to visit her, a family emergency that comes in the final weeks of the presidential race.

Let's continue our "Strategy Session" with our panel, David Gergen, Joe Madison, and Gloria Borger.

Gloria, what do you make of the "Breaking News?" David Gergen says it may provide an opening for McCain and Palin?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I think it could. But on the other hand, John McCain would have to be very careful about the tone of his campaign as Obama goes to his very ill grandmother's bedside.

And I think also to what Candy said, Obama has given interviews during this campaign, in which he said that one of the great regrets of his life was not visiting his mother's bedside before she died. And I think this is something -- this is a woman, as you've played those clips, Obama cares a great deal about. I think if McCain is out there attacking him while he visits her, it doesn't set the right tone.

COOPER: Let's move on.

Joe, Colin Powell endorsing Obama this weekend. Newt Gingrich believes Powell's endorsement and I quote, "Eliminates the experience argument" and Democrats certainly hope that's the case. Do you think it carries that much weight?

JOE MADISON, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Well, I think it carries a lot of weight. It gives him credibility. I don't know if it means that he'll gain any number of votes from Independents or his base. He seems to have the base locked up.

But Colin Powell, I had to deal with him and his staff when we were dealing with the Sudan crisis and trying to get the Bush administration to declare genocide in Darfur. He's a very powerful person. And I don't think that he took this endorsement lightly.

And I'd like to say about grandparents. I was reared by Betty Stone and Jim Stone, my grandparents. And Barack Obama has no choice; he has to go to his grandmother's side.

COOPER: Sure.

MADISON: And I think it's a smart thing to do. If he didn't, and he'd probably regret it the rest of his life.

But Colin Powell gives Obama credibility, that's a credibility endorsement.

COOPER: David, what about that? I mean Rush Limbaugh and Pat Buchanan argued race was a major factor in the decision, and I just want to play for our viewers something that Rush Limbaugh had to says. Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUSH LIMBAUGH, THE RUSH LIMBAUGH SHOW HOST: This was all about Powell and race, nothing about the nation and its welfare. He said it's not about race. And that's OK, show me all of the inexperienced white liberals you've endorsed if it's not about race.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: David, do you believe it was about race?

GERGEN: No. And I also believe that when a white person endorses a white candidate, we don't say that's racial. I don't know why they should then raise it about a black endorsing a black.

MADISON: Thank you, David. Thank you.

GERGEN: Isn't there a double standard there? MADISON: David is such -- I talked about this on my radio show. Who died and made Rush Limbaugh the authority on black people? You couldn't have two more establishment type of black folk in America than Colin Powell and Barack Obama.

But I got to tell you, what McCain has going for him is this kind of talk radio and don't underestimate it.

BORGER: But if it was just about him being black, why wouldn't Colin Powell have done it weeks ago? Why wouldn't he have done it now when his endorsement was an indictment of McCain's campaign and where the Republican Party is right now?

COOPER: Well, Gloria, were you surprised that McCain's campaign -- I'm sorry David go ahead.

GERGEN: I'm going to say, I think in fairness, we should point out that John McCain does have the endorsements of four other Secretaries of State and dozens upon dozens of other admirals and generals. And I think he's got a good point there, that shouldn't be lost in the discussions.

Just to add to that though, Peter Hart, one of the country's best pollsters, believes that if you look at the undecideds now in the race, they tend to look a little bit more like Obama voters than McCain voters and a Colin Powell endorsement is just going to help in bringing them in.

COOPER: Well, the other wildcard now that seems to be adding, McCain's campaign manager Rick Davis said that they're rethinking whether or not the Wright issue should be fair game.

I want to play what he said on I think it was Hugh Hewitt radio show.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICK DAVIS, MCCAIN CAMPAIGN MANAGER: I must say, when Congressman Lewis calls John McCain and Sarah Palin and his entire group of supporters, fifty million people strong around this country, that we're all racists and we should be compared to George Wallace and the kind of horrible segregation and evil and horrible politics that was played at that time, you know that you've got to rethink all these things."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: David, would it be a mistake now for the McCain campaign to bring up Reverend Wright, especially after John McCain said he wouldn't?

GERGEN: Well, the McCain people will say, look, you people in the liberal media elite as they call us, are not holding Barack Obama to his promise about not taking private funding and breaking out of public funding, why should you hold us to our promise about not bringing Reverend Wright up? So I think on that basis, they're going to have an argument.

But I have to tell you, from a public -- larger public point of view, I think it's going to be seen as just one more desperate effort to say -- to do whatever it takes to try to bring this over.

And I don't think that's helping John McCain. I think John McCain ought to be about big ideas, about the future and not about this kind of stuff.

MADISON: Reverend Wright didn't cause foreclosures; Reverend Wright didn't cause Wall Street. So bring it up if you want to, it's not going to make a difference.

BORGER: It's an argument that's already been litigated in the primaries.

COOPER: We're going to leave it there.

Gloria Borger, Joe Madison, David Gerge, thank you.

Up next, tear gas and Molotov cocktails. Indians versus the army and police, some massive land dispute, part of our "Planet in Peril" investigation when "360" continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: "Planet in Peril: Battle Lines" our worldwide investigation airs December 11th. It's a look at the places where there's conflict over natural resources. The U.N. recently said they expect the fight over natural resources to be one of the biggest threats to stability around the world.

It's almost inevitable really, rising populations or competing for resources that are simply running out or running scarce.

The nation of Columbia has seen one this battles play out right now. Indians there are staging protests against the government or multi-national corporations that they say are robbing their land for mining and hydro-electric projects. I want to warn you though, some of the images in this report are disturbing.

Here's Karl Penhaul.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KARL PENHAUL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Indian protests turned violent, when police tried to stop a tribal blockade in South America's main trade route for an American highway. The Indians throw rocks, use slingshots, throw Molotov cocktails. The police and army fight back with tear gas. With the high casualty count, has come rage.

In a nearby village, tribal guards parade a young man in front of the crowd. He's accused by the Indians of spying on protesters.

In civilian clothes, he was carrying a camouflage uniform. His name is Hiro Chaparral. He admits being an army corporal but denies being a spy. He tells CNN only that he was pulled from a public bus.

He knows the tribal leaders have decided to have him flogged. Elders spray him with sacred water. They describe the nine lashes as a remedy intended to cure the captive of his evil ways.

"There will be people who point the finger and say those Indians are savages. But we're not being uncivilized. We're using ancestral teachings to carry out justice," this leader says. Under Colombian law, Indians are permitted to administer their own traditional forms of justice. And it's tough justice indeed.

The first strike. The crowd surges forward. They want to take tribal law into their own hands. Indian guards struggle to restore order. Eight more lashes to go. More blows, each one from a different Indian leader. The pain is etched across Chaparral's face.

And while they insist it is a traditional ritual, they say they hope it will also serve as a warning to our security forces not to try and infiltrate their protest.

The soldier is led away to be handed over to government officials. The crowd bays for more.

Karl Penhall, CNN, LaMaria, Columbia.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: This years worldwide investigations is called "Planet In Peril: Battle Lines" airing December 11th, go to CNN.com/planetinperil for our latest dispatches from the field and more.

Still to come tonight, our ten most wanted culprits of the collapse. Find out whose we are adding to the list tonight. A hint, this guy's companies was one of the one that triggered the Wall Street meltdown.

And later, Sarah Palin on "Saturday Night Live" millions watched but did it help or hurt her among undecided voters?

And with little more than two weeks ago the McCain campaign says it may move Reverend Wright from off-limits to in play. So what changed and how would they use Reverend Wright? We're "Digging Deeper."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AMY POEHLER, "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE" ACTRESS: All the mavericks in the House, put your hands up. All the mavericks in the House, put your hands up. All the plumbers in the House, put your hands up. All the plumbers in the House, put your hands up.

When I say Obama, now you say Ayers, Obama, Ayers, Obama, Ayers, I built me a bridge, it aren't going nowhere. Oh

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: All right, Amy Poehler is a genius.

Sarah Palin popped up at "Saturday Night Live" sitting at their weekend update desk, the Governor rocked out as cast members lampooned her and her husband, Todd with a rap party and there's the moose. Her cameo was a hit for the show but what about for the McCain/Palin campaign? Is it possible her comedic turn help her or even hurt the GOP's chances especially among undecided voters?

Erica Hill takes a look "Up Close."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The most anticipated lineup of the season; Sarah Palin and Sarah Palin.

The real one taking over for Tina Fey at the fake news conference.

PALIN: I'm not trying to take any of your questions, but I do want to take this opportunity to say live from New York it's Saturday Night

HILL: And what a night it was from jokes about Palin's appearance.

ALEC BALDWIN, ACTOR: You can't let Tina go out there with that woman. She goes against everything we stand for. They call her, what's that name they call her? Kara -- what's that name they call her again Tina?

PALIN: Caribou Barbie.

BALDWIN: Caribou Barbie. Thank you, Tina.

HILL: To her hunting...even Joe, the Plumber.

PHOELER: All the plumbers in the House, put your hands up.

HILL: The sketches didn't hold back, poking fun at her lack of interaction with the media.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No recording devices and don't write anything down.

All right. All right. It's worth a shot.

HILL: And nailing her stump speech.

PHOELER: When I say Obama, you say Ayers.

Obama, Ayers.

I built me bridge, it isn't going nowhere. ALEX CASTELLANOS, GOP MEDIA CONSULTANT: Humor is a powerful weapon. When we can laugh at something together, it means we see the world the same way, it means we're one. So it's a little bit of a team builder.

HILL: Palin's appearance helped SNL pull its highest ratings in 14 years, numbers the GOP wouldn't mind seeing.

So was the move as good for Palin as it was for the show? That depends on your politics.

JAMES CARVILLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Politically, it didn't make a lot of sense. There are serious issues as to whether or not she's qualified enough and knowledgeable enough to be vice president of the United States. It did absolutely nothing to advance that.

CASTELLANOS: If she can let people know that she can laugh at herself, become a little more human, maybe they'll stop looking so much at the caricature and look at the candidate and the message, change Washington. So I think she helped herself.

HILL: Whether she'll see that help on November 4th remains to be seen.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HILL: Now, for her part on Sunday, Sarah Palin said she would love to come back to SNL, she says it was fun and everybody at "Saturday Night Live" was welcoming and friendly and Anderson, she went on to stress the importance of having a sense of humor in politics.

COOPER: It's interesting and of course, Republicans are saying, it's good idea and Democrats James Carville is saying no, not such a good idea. Not really a surprise I guess there. She and Tina Fey, did they actually interact at any point? Do we know?

HILL: Not really. They just sort of passed one another although we are told that backstage they actually hugged.

James Carville by the way tell me earlier, he said look, I really wanted to say something nice, it was funny, but it just didn't work.

COOPER: Erica Hill thanks, "Up Close."

We continue to investigate whether -- well, who's responsible, I should say, for the financial fiasco that we're all suffering from.

Tonight, a new name added to our Ten Most Wanted List. Here's a hint: this Wall Street honcho left his company in ruins and managed to walk away with millions of dollars. Find out who he is in a moment.

But first, the GOP defectors, those who are saying Palin is a bad choice for VP, how they're -- how they're making an impact on the battle for the White House. We have the "Raw Politics" on that ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. SARAH PALIN (R), VICE-PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: You have to really listen to Barack Obama's words. You have to hear what he is saying when he talks about his economic plan. And it is not mean- spirited; it is not negative campaigning when you call someone out on their record and on their plans and on their associations.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: That's Governor Palin holding a rally tonight just a short time ago in Colorado, another key battleground state.

In an interview with FOX News yesterday, McCain said choosing Sarah Palin as his running mate was the best thing that could have happened to his campaign. Not everyone agrees, especially within her own party. As we've been reporting, well-known conservative commentators have been sharply critical of McCain's pick increasingly. Some of their opinions have been downright brutal.

Others believe Palin is the best choice for McCain as well as the future face for the GOP.

CNN's Ed Henry has all the "Raw Politics."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ED HENRY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In the final days out here in battleground states like Colorado, Sarah Palin is treated like a rock star, still drawing much bigger crowds than John McCain.

PALIN: Barack Obama calls it spreading the wealth. Joe Biden calls higher taxes patriotic. Joe the Plumber said it sounded to him like socialism. And now is not the time to experiment with that.

HENRY: She's ripping into Barack Obama, and the party faithful is digging her feistiness.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think she's different. She's not the bureaucracy that we've been putting up with and putting up with and putting up with for so long in Washington. She's change.

HENRY: It's one of the great unknowns about the final two weeks. Can the Palin factor drive enough conservatives to the polls to offset Obama's gains with independent voters?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: It may well be there is a -- there are a group of people out there that will find it politically incorrect to be for Sarah Palin in public, but they're going to vote for her in the privacy of the voting booth.

HENRY: Former Secretary of State, Colin Powell, is hardly alone among establishment Republicans, however, in believing Palin actually hurts the Republican ticket. COLIN POWELL, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: I don't believe she's ready to be president of the United States, which this is the job of the vice president.

HENRY: Conservative "New York Times" columnist David Brooks has called Palin a cancer on the Republican Party, while former Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan wrote in the "Wall Street Journal," "There is little sign that she has the tools, the equipment, the knowledge or the philosophical grounding one hopes for and expects in a holder of high office."

But there may be a disconnect between elite Republicans and the party faithful.

RICK STENGEL, MANAGING EDITOR, "TIME" MAGAZINE: I think Sarah Palin is still very popular among the conservative base. There are other conservatives, the conservative intelligentsia, who have peeled off and think that maybe it was a mistake.

HENRY: More so than McCain, she has built a fervent following that may show up on Election Day for the Republican ticket.

ALEX CASTELLANOS, GOP STRATEGIST, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Don't underestimate the Palin voter. They're still out there. They're still intense, a lot of those voters.

PALIN: Live from New York, it's "Saturday Night."

HENRY: And her solid performance on "Saturday Night Live" suggests that, regardless of what happens on election day, Palin could be a winner. If McCain pulls out a comeback victory, she'll get plenty of credit. If he loses, she could be the heir apparent in 2012.

If McCain falls and Republicans loses more ground in Congress, there will be a lot of soul-searching. Palin could emerge as the woman who save John McCain and now represents the future of the Republican Party.

Ed Henry, CNN, Grand Junction, Colorado.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: A lot more politics ahead.

Reverend Wright nearly derailed Barack Obama's presidential aspirations back in the primaries. John McCain vowed not to make it an issue. Has the McCain campaign changed its mind? Or are they about to?

His campaign manager seems to indicate they're thinking about it. We're digging deeper.

And a different leap of faith; a bridge, a chute and gravity, that's all you need. Take a look. It's called base jumping. Yikes. That's our "Shot of the Day," ahead on 360. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: We've seen it before. And we're seeing it again.

Ugly phone calls, misleading mail, misleading TV ads, careless outrageous comments, all aimed at keeping us from working together, all aimed at stopping change.

It's getting so bad that even Senator McCain's running mate denounced his tactics last night. You know, you really have to work hard to violate Governor Palin's standards on negative campaigning.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Senator Obama in Tampa today, taking a swipe at Senator McCain and Governor Palin. As we told you, some prominent conservatives have been slamming her. The "New York Times'" David Brooks says she represents a fatal cancer to the Republican Party.

The question is, is she a burden to McCain or the GOP's best bet to save the White House? We're digging deeper tonight.

Joining me now, David Brody, a CNN contributor and senior national correspondent for the Christian Broadcasting Network. He just interviewed Palin this weekend. Also with us, Bay Buchanan, Republican strategist, former senior adviser to Mitt Romney and CNN contributor and Republican strategist, Ed Rollins.

Bay, as we just heard, a couple of conservatives are speaking out against Palin. Peggy Noonan wrote a really brutal piece against her. Why are people in your own party criticizing her?

BAY BUCHANAN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: You know, we've got Lieberman supporting McCain, and nobody is questioning that. He's an old friend. People do things for different reasons.

I do know one thing, that in politics, you find out who your friends are. When things were going well, I remember Peggy was speaking very highly, if I remember correctly, wrote very highly about Palin. Things are going a little rough. And some of the intellectuals, the elites, they move. They move pretty quickly, as they...

COOPER: So you say this is a division between a handful of sort of intellectual elite and the base?

BUCHANAN: A handful. It is not significant. If you look, the one thing that everyone has to agree, Sarah Palin has pulled the Republican Party together. It has been incredible overnight support.

And they have not faltered. They are still with us. And Sarah has higher numbers for a very strong positive than John McCain. She is the key to this party. COOPER: Ed, is it as simple as that? Is it just a few, you know, pampered intellectuals moving away?

ED ROLLINS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I think there's a lot of second-guessing of this whole campaign. But I think she's been an extraordinary part of this, a good part.

Since the convention, it's been -- there's been two dominant weeks, and she dominated both of those weeks. I mean, I think she's been a far more effective candidate than John has. She's drawing bigger crowds. She has energized our base.

And this is -- people basically have connected with her. And it's not an intellectual connection. It's an emotional connection, and that's very important. And she is going to be a very significant part of this party when this thing is through, and John McCain may not be.

COOPER: David, there's no doubt that Palin is credited with energizing the Christian conservative base. You just spoke to her about some shots she's been taking about faith and about religion. It's going to run tomorrow on "The 700 Club." Let's play a clip.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PALIN: I think the saddest part of that is that faith -- not just my faith -- but faith in God in general has been mocked through this campaign. And that breaks my heart. And that is unfair for others who share a faith in God and choose to worship our Lord in whatever private manner that they deem fit.

And my faith has always been pretty personal. I haven't really worn it on my sleeve. I haven't been out there preaching it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Who's she talking about who's been mocking faith? I mean, it seems like faith has actually played a pretty significant role on all sides in this campaign.

DAVID BRODY, CHRISTIAN BROADCASTING NETWORK: Well, sure. I think she's talking about, Anderson, there are these -- some of these newspaper editorials where they take shots at her Pentecostal faith. You'll see some -- if you search around on the Internet and you'll see a lot about her speaking in tongues and gifts of the Holy Spirit and, you know, kind of mocking her where the liberal blogosphere, obviously, has taken shots.

And "Saturday Night Live" has made some references to it, as well. So, you know, I think that's a big part of it with Sarah Palin.

But you know, she goes ahead and really knocks the media for this. Because look, I mean, it plays well on the conservative base. But beyond it being a talking point, Anderson, they really believe that the media, if you talk to conservatives all across this country, you know, that there is this media filter, and that this antagonism, if you will, towards people of faith has been out there for quite some time.

COOPER: Ed, the Colin Powell endorsement, how serious, how important is it?

ROLLINS: It's a two- or three-day story. I mean, obviously, he's an important individual. He's very important in the Reagan and the Bush administrations. He's a significant person. But I don't think people are going to vote because of that.

And I think at the end of the day, I think it was a personal choice. I think what he should have done is called his friend, John McCain, and say, you know, "Tomorrow I will go on 'Meet the Press' and endorse somebody else," which he didn't do. But I think at the end of the day, it's not -- people are going to vote for McCain or they're going to vote for Obama.

COOPER: Bay, how do you see the next two weeks, two weeks and a day playing out? Some national polls indicate a slight tightening of the race. This new CNN poll of polls shows a drop in the number of people that think that McCain would mostly carry out Bush's policy. Do you see reason for hope here?

BUCHANAN: I do. Now I'm the eternal optimist, I might add. But I definitely do. You know, it's coming out to be very tough.

I think there's two things he's got to do. One is, he's to make sure the American people get a better feeling of who this guy, Barack Obama, is. And he's going to have to do that with the Wrights and the....

COOPER: So you say they should bring up Reverend Wright?

BUCHANAN: Absolutely. You have to take -- a two-step process. Obama is ahead. You've got to have people move away from Obama, make them hesitate, get them in undecided and then give them reason to come home. If you don't do that, you talk nice, all positive, he will lose this race.

COOPER: David, you just were talking about Sarah Palin talking about people making fun of religion. Is there concern that they bring up Reverend Wright, is that's attacking Obama's religion?

BRODY: I don't think there's any question about that. There are a lot of dangers down this road, Anderson. There are a couple of things.

One, the McCain campaign may be looking like flip-floppers here, obviously. Obviously, there's negative campaigning involved in Jeremiah Wright.

But here's the big thing, Anderson. If they go with Jeremiah Wright, they might be -- need to be careful with the tone at these rallies.

If we thought that the Bill Ayers situation was bad, wait until Jeremiah Wright talk hits these rallies. There could be a whole different complexion at that point, and that's a danger zone, big time, for the McCain camp.

COOPER: Ed Rollins, what about it?

ROLLINS: I seldom disagree with my good friend, Bay. We're long time friends.

In this particular case, I think Reverend Wright was a legitimate issue earlier. I think right now it's about the economy. I think we're making some progress on that, on the tax issue and the big spenders. I think we ought to stick to that issue, not distract.

It's been a very tactical campaign, and every time we move our tactics, we change our tactics, we look like we're not on track.

COOPER: Bay, you're basically saying, though, it's got to be kitchen sink. It's got to be everything.

BUCHANAN: Well, I think it's two messages. One is define Barack Obama as who he is, which includes the Wright, the Ayers, the kind of -- who his associations are, the inability to wear the flag without some kind of explanation. And so you undermine people's trust in him.

And then I do agree with Ed entirely. You've got to come off with the next thing, is in order to bring him over, is that the guy is a socialist.

And let me tell you what I'm going to do. There's no taxes on my side, and -- and this guy is spending too much. That kind of thing hit the economy very, very hard, to make them feel comfortable that this is not George Bush. This is a different person, a real maverick, somebody who will stand up and fight for us. I think it has to be both things, though.

COOPER: Bay Buchanan, Ed Rollins, Dave Brody. Thanks very much.

Up next, we name another person to our "Ten Most Wanted List, Culprits of the Collapse." Wait until you find out what some say this guy did while his company collapsed.

And breaking news on the campaign trail: Barack Obama taking some time off to visit his ailing grandmother, canceling some events. We'll tell you exactly what's going on when 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: That's our "Ten Most Wanted List: The Culprits of the Collapse." We're adding an eighth name to those who helped create the crisis; the corporate and governmental big shots who helped get us into this mess, few of whom are taking any responsibility and we think that's wrong.

Tonight, we add James Cayne, former CEO of Bear Stearns, who critics say was playing games, literally, when his company went down in flames.

360's Gary Tuchman is "Keeping Them Honest." (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He lost nearly a billion dollars when Bear Stearns collapsed. But shareholders and employees who lost their jobs aren't exactly shedding tears for the former CEO, James Cayne, because he's still said to be worth about $600 million.

BARRY RITHOLTZ, DIRECTOR OF EQUITY RESEARCH, FUSION 10: The smart ones take some of their holdings and diversify into bonds, into other assets so even if the plane goes down, they have their parachute.

TUCHMAN: And did Bear Stearns' plane go down; a stock that traded just months before for higher than $134 a share was dealt to JP Morgan Chase at a fire sale for $10 a share.

RITHOLTZ: If the CEO of the company doesn't know that they're about to drive off the cliff and blow up, then who else would have?

TUCHMAN: Blaming James Cayne for the demise of a firm that didn't lay off a single employee during the Great Depression comes from many quarters. Ace Greenberg, the former CEO of Bear Stearns, who was succeeded by Cayne, told the "New York Times," "He was a one- man show. He didn't listen to anybody."

Financial analysts deplored the firm's mentality.

ERIC HALPERIN, CENTER FOR RESPONSIBLE LENDING: Bear Stearns was one of the Wall Street firms that was really at the center of abusive subprime lending.

TUCHMAN: Even the presidential candidates who differ on so much had some similar views on this.

OBAMA: CEOs got greedy.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Something is seriously wrong when the American people are left to bear the consequences of reckless corporate conduct, while Mr. Cayne of Bear Stearns and Mr. Mozilo of Countrywide and others are packed off with another $40 or $50 million for the road.

TUCHMAN: Many critics said Cayne was often playing bridge or golf and seemed to be somewhat out of touch as Bear Stearns' hedge funds collapsed and chaos ensued.

RITHOLTZ: Watching the Bear Stearns debacle unfold, one certainly gets the sense that Cayne was less involved than he should have been in the final months, and that really goes a long way to explaining why so many of the employees are so unhappy.

TUCHMAN: We called James Cayne as his home today. The woman who answered said he could not come to the phone.

Cayne has strongly defended his record. Five months before the collapse, he wrote a memo to employees, insisting that he was intensely focused on the job. Regarding news media criticism of him, he declared, "Don't be distracted by the noise. I am certainly not." And he signed it "Jimmy."

After the collapse, he told "Fortune" magazine a conspiracy of unnamed financial sharks was responsible, and he hoped authorities would nail the guys who did it.

But he was the boss, and the failure of his legendary firm has led to massive heartache, earning James Cayne a place in our list of "Culprits of the Collapse."

Gary Tuchman, CNN, Atlanta.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Let's make it official. James Cayne, former CEO of Bear Stearns, now joins our "Ten Most Wanted Culprits of the Collapse."

We began with Joe Cassano from AIG; followed by Richard Fuld from Lehman Brothers; Chris Cox from the SEC; Senator Phil Gramm of Texas; former chairman of the Federal Reserve, Alan Greenspan; Ian McCarthy, CEO and president of Beazer Homes USA; and Angelo Mozilo, the founder of Countrywide Financial.

Up next, "The Shot of the Day." Look out below. It's base jumpers on the move. Yikes. A lot more fun to watch than actually doing, I think. Unless you're, I guess, one of them.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Time now for our "Beat 360" winner. Erica says it's too cold in here.

It's our daily challenge to viewers to come up with a caption better than the one that we could come up with for a picture that we post in our blog every day.

Tonight's picture: Obama holding a pair of Mickey Mouse ears with his name embroidered on them on his way to a campaign rally in Orlando, Florida. Kate, our staff winner. Her caption: "I'll wear these the next time my opponent brings up earmarks."

I like that.

Our viewer winner is Ryan from Los Angeles. His caption: "I'm done Mickey Mousing around in the Senate. I'm ready to be the president."

Hey, Ryan...

HILL: There you go. Those ears would look really nice with a "Beat 360" T-shirt.

COOPER: Exactly. And you shall have them. Your "Beat 360" T- shirt is on the way. Check out all the entries on the blog. Play along tomorrow at AC360.com. Time now for "The Shot." And Erica, I don't think you want to try this on a bridge near your home or anywhere else, frankly.

HILL: No. I would never be caught doing that.

COOPER: These are base jumpers at the West Virginia Bridge Jumpers Bridge Bay Festival.

HILL: Whoa.

COOPER: It's a leap equal to an 85-story building. It is the 29th anniversary of the New River Gorge event.

HILL: I could never. I am such a wuss.

COOPER: Freaks me out. All right.

HILL: I'm glad they're all OK.

COOPER: You can see all the most recent "Shots" at our Web site, AC360.com. Did we mention our web site? AC360.com.

HILL: You can do it all there at AC360.com.

COOPER: Yes, you can, please.

That does it for this edition of "360."

Thanks for watching.

"LARRY KING" starts right now. I'll see you later tomorrow night.