Return to Transcripts main page


Obama Tries to Close Deal; Rift Inside McCain Campaign?

Aired October 27, 2008 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: We're going to have the latest on the investigation into the Jennifer Hudson triple slayings.
Tonight, the final sprint, barely a week to go, and now Barack Obama is trying to close the deal, and John McCain is trying to stop him, the battlefield, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Ohio up for grabs, Pennsylvania deep blue, but seen by the McCain forces as a key to their comeback, two campaigns on the same turf, but in very different circumstances tonight.

Take a listen.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: When it comes to the economy, when it comes to the central issue of this election, the central issue for working families all across this region...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He don't get it.

OBAMA: He don't get it.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Let me give you the state of the race today. There's eight days to go. We're a few points down. The pundits have written us off, as -- just like they have done before four or five times.


MCCAIN: My opponent is working out the details with Speaker Pelosi and Senator Reid for their plans to raise your taxes, increase spending, and concede defeat in Iraq.


COOPER: As a political observer said today, Barack Obama trying to close the deal, John McCain trying to stir up buyer's remorse.

It may not be easy. Within his campaign, advisers are already pointing the fingers at one another and at Sarah Palin, one adviser today telling CNN she's a diva, his words. We will have more on that in a moment.

The latest CNN poll of polls holding steady, showing an eight- point gap to close -- eight points, eight days. Candy Crowley is on the trail.


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From Canton, Ohio, to Pittsburgh, and beyond, Barack Obama offered what his campaign calls his closing arguments. It's time.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Pittsburgh, I have got two words for you: one week.


CROWLEY: Twenty-one months after he launched his bid to become the Democratic presidential nominee, Barack Obama's once improbable campaign may be on the edge of history, or not. A transition team is up and running. Many Democrats can't hide their excitement.

OBAMA: Let's get to work.


CROWLEY: Certainly not the voters who show up by the thousands, rally after rally.

AUDIENCE: Yes, we can!

CROWLEY: But, whatever he thinks, Obama can't say anything, other than this.

OBAMA: We cannot let up for one day or one minute or one second in this last week.


CROWLEY: The closing speech mixes policy prose with the poetry that launched his campaign.

OBAMA: We can choose hope over fear and unity over division, the promise of change over the power of the status quo.


CROWLEY: There is, as well, the echo of an issue that propelled him in the early months of the primary.

OBAMA: As president, I will end this war.

CROWLEY: Obama talks better days ahead and bipartisanship. He calls John McCain a man who has served honorably, then blasts him for lying.

OBAMA: He's spending these last weeks calling me every name in the book, because that's how you play the game in Washington. If you can't beat your opponent's ideas, you distort those ideas and maybe make some up. CROWLEY: This is a campaign both refusing to let up, while beginning to let go. Having seen too many Democrats go under for lack of a good offense, Obama will continue hammering McCain. Still, the last days of any campaign are about a return to the positive, an uplifting message, soaring rhetoric. Let Obama be Obama.


COOPER: Let Obama be Obama.

He's still campaigning in Pennsylvania. He's up in Pennsylvania. Are they worried about that state?

CROWLEY: Well, yes and no.

A senior adviser says, "You know, I'm a nervous wreck, not just about Pennsylvania, but about the country and -- and how it's going to go, and all these electoral votes." They're looking at the same polls we are. They understand that it looks good. But this is not something they take for granted going into these final days.

Having said that, they know that John McCain is making a very big play for Pennsylvania. This is the blue state that McCain is focusing on to try to steal away a Democratic state, because he's going to lose some Republican ones.

Now, what the campaign will tell you, what the strategists will tell you, is they believe they have a very, very good turnout machine here. Usually, the Republicans are the ones that are so good at that, but the Democrats this time, the Obama campaign -- and, remember, they have been in every state throughout this primary. They have had so much time to build on the organizations that they had in all of these states, as he contested Hillary Clinton from January to June.

So, they believe that they have a very good turnout machine in place, and they are really counting on that, and believe that it will be one of the best in history.

COOPER: All right, Candy, is there early voting in Pennsylvania?

CROWLEY: There is not.

COOPER: There is not. OK.

CROWLEY: There is not.

COOPER: It's all about Election Day.

CROWLEY: Florida.

COOPER: Florida.

All right.


CROWLEY: All right.

COOPER: Candy Crowley, thanks.

So, Obama is warning supporters against overconfidence. McCain is targeting lukewarm Democrats and undecided voters. And they're still out there, raising doubts about his opponent. Take a look.


MCCAIN: That's what change means for the Obama administration, the redistributor.


MCCAIN: It means taking your money and giving it to someone else. He believes...


MCCAIN: ... in redistributing wealth, not in policies that grow our economy and create jobs.


COOPER: John McCain today.

He also distanced himself from President Bush's economic policies and Senator Obama's. Take a look.


MCCAIN: This is the fundamental difference between Senator Obama and me. We both disagree with President Bush on economic policy. The difference is, he thinks taxes have been too low, and I think spending has been too high.


COOPER: On taxes, Senator McCain pledges not to roll back the Bush tax cuts, which Democrats say favor the rich.

As for Sarah Palin, she, too, was a in a battleground state, attacking Obama, defending herself, and, some Republican insiders believe, distancing herself from John McCain.

More on that from Dana Bash on the trail with Palin.


DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In critically important Virginia, Sarah Palin was back on message.

GOV. SARAH PALIN (R-AK), VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Senator Obama has an ideological commitment to higher taxes.

BASH: That after some top McCain aides questioned whether Palin's loyalty now lies more with her own political future than this campaign. Tension had already spilled into the open, when she went off script Sunday about $150,000 the Republican National Committee spent to accessorize Palin and her family.

PALIN: Those clothes, they are not my property. Just like the lighting and the staging that everything else that the RNC purchased, I'm not taking them with me. I'm back to wearing my own clothes from my favorite consignment shop in Anchorage, Alaska.


BASH: Palin's aides said, she was trying to get the truth out, that she's frugal, not fancy.

But some McCain advisers told CNN, her off-the-cuff comments were unwelcome, because it helped keep the wardrobe story alive, perhaps another example of what one aide described to CNN as going rouge, like when she distanced herself from using robocalls, as McCain's campaign was trying to defend them.

PALIN: I think it -- kind of draining out there in terms of Americans' attention span, they get a bit irritated with just being inundated.

BASH: "She is a diva," a McCain adviser told CNN this weekend, "playing for her own future and sees herself as the next leader of the party."

One Palin aide told CNN she may be trying to bust free after a mishandled rollout, limiting her initial press access to high-profile interviews that did not go well. But, in a sign of the dramatic tension, another source with direct knowledge of Palin's preparation told CNN they had no choice, saying -- quote -- "Her lack of fundamental understanding of some key issues was dramatic."

Now, dissension inside a presidential ticket is hardly new. In both parties, blending two different politicians and their staff always results in varying degrees of infighting.

(on camera): Aides to Palin insist, her only agenda is to elect the man behind me, the man at the top of her ticket, John McCain. But one senior McCain adviser admitted this is happens when you're behind, finger-pointing and scapegoating.

Dana Bash, CNN, Pottsville, Pennsylvania.


COOPER: All right, we're going to talk with -- more about this with our panel in a moment.

Let's us know what you think. Go to Right now, Erica and I will be blogging there throughout the hour, whenever possible. And, as you can see, Erica has already started her live Webcast, which you can watch during the break at Up next: As Dana mentioned, Palin went off script, talking about her clothing this weekend. But it was "The View"'s Elisabeth -- Elisabeth Hasselbeck who actually brought it up first, introducing Palin on the trail.


ELISABETH HASSELBECK, CO-HOST, "THE VIEW": Instead of the issues, they are focused, fixated on her wardrobe. This is deliberately sexist.


COOPER: Does she have a point? David Gergen and our panel weigh in.

Later, new polling numbers state by state, new polling. We will show them -- show you the numbers on the magic map.

And actress-singer Jennifer Hudson facing triple tragedy, her mother, her brother murdered. And, today, she had to I.D. her nephew's body as well.

We have got the latest on the search for a triple-murderer -- when 360 continues.



PALIN: Didn't think that we would be talking about it, but my earrings, see -- I see a "Native Americans for Palin" poster. These are...


PALIN: These are beaded earrings from Todd's mom, who is a Yupik Eskimo up in Alaska...


PALIN: ... Native American.


COOPER: Sarah Palin apparently surprising some McCain aides by talking accessories and wardrobe, keeping the $150,000 wardrobe story in the headlines one more news cycle, with only eight days until the election.

Let's talk strategy, Governor Palin and more with CNN senior political analyst David Gergen, senior chief national correspondent John, King Marcus Mabry, international business editor of "The New York Times."

John, we just heard Governor Palin being called -- being called a diva by some unnamed person within the McCain campaign, accused of going rogue at times, particularly this weekend, talking about the wardrobe. How much tension is there behind the scenes in the McCain/Palin campaign right now?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There's a great deal of tension, not only between the Palin camps and the McCain senior adviser group, but also within the campaign about strategy decisions.

Senator was in New Mexico and Iowa over the weekend, a lot of, not only his own top advisers, but many Republicans scratching their heads, saying, what are we doing? There's a week left in the campaign. He is losing. What is he doing in states that he's likely to lose on Election Day?

So, the Palin-McCain controversy is remarkable, because she is such a compelling figure. She has helped, without a doubt, with the Republican base. She's also hurting with key constituencies, like suburban women and independents.

And there's a big question that, if McCain loses, does she try to emerge as the leader of the party heading into the 2012 cycle? So, it's a fascinating subdrama, Anderson. Everyone on both sides of the divide, if you will, within camp McCain tried to tamper it down today. They understand, if we're talking about this tomorrow and the day after, the day after, it makes a bad campaign even worse.

COOPER: And, yet, David, yesterday, they were surprised because Hasselbeck brings is up, and then Sarah Palin talks about it quite extensively, not just about accessories, but about the wardrobe. I mean, how damaging is something like this?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I think it's damaging in a couple of ways, Anderson.

You know, we were -- just late last week, we were talking about the fact that -- that there was a very, very tight window in which McCain had to turn the momentum in this campaign...


COOPER: Right. You said three, four days.


GERGEN: ... Monday. Three or four days. And we were talking about that last Thursday, Friday.

Here we are on Monday night now, and we're still talking about Palin's wardrobe. I mean, that's exactly where they -- what they do not want to be talking about, if they're going to have a fighting chance to -- to win this.

And the second thing, you know, we have heard for the last few days, well, it's not unusual to have finger-pointing in a campaign, a lot of aides backbiting each other. What is rare is to have campaign aides putting a harpoon in the candidate, and then some of the candidate's friends firing back. That is -- that is extremely rare. It does seem to me that's -- that's disloyal to the candidate. It's unfair to the candidate.

Whatever else you think about Sarah Palin, she does not deserve to be taking shots from within -- within her own campaign.

COOPER: It's interesting, Marcus. I mean, some are saying Palin is actually taking more control over her image and -- and -- and what she's saying. And there are those who say that's a good thing. Others are saying she's trying to distance herself from John McCain already, and looking at 2012 or looking down the road.

MABRY: Well, Anderson, who could -- who could really disagree with her? Because this is a woman who is one of the -- the most popular governor in the country.

This is a woman who actually, according to both -- even her critics say, she has an amazing political acumen. And, yet, this campaign made her look like she was, in some way, even stupid. Let's be really blunt about it.

COOPER: Early on, in some of those interviews.

MABRY: Absolutely. So, you can imagine her frustration...


MABRY: ... when this is her national rollout, and what we see is a woman who's certainly less than an exciting candidate, whereas she's actually been the only thing about the McCain campaign that has enlivened his base.

COOPER: They...

MABRY: So, you can understand the frustration.

COOPER: It's interesting, John, because there are those who are saying, well, look, Palin did that to herself. Others are saying, well, it was her handlers who were keeping her back.

KING: Well, she's the one who gave -- gave the interviews and answered the questions, so she has to be held accountable for her answers, just as John McCain has to be held accountable for his campaign, even though you could make the case perhaps he's been ill- served on occasion by his staff.

He's the boss. She's the boss of her part of that campaign. There -- one of the complaints from her side is, essentially, they -- she came in. She acknowledged she did not have the background on North Korea, did not have the background on international economics. And they had to brief her to get her up to speed for interviews and for the debate.

And her perspective is, they essentially gave her the big, thick book and said, here, memorize this. We will be back. There's a quiz in the morning, as opposed to coming at it in a more gradual way and in a way more to her liking.

Now, the McCain campaign says, they came in and said -- the McCain loyalists say, they came in and said, here's how we're going to do this, and she said, fine, and only after the fact is she objecting to how it was done. So, this will be settled after the election, I think, more than it is being settled -- it's being more litigated right now. And it, of course, depends on the outcome of the election...

COOPER: David...

KING: ... as to how long this will spill on.

COOPER: David, I see you kind of shaking your head.

GERGEN: Oh, it's just -- it's absurd. It's absurd that we're sitting here...

KING: Yes, it is.

GERGEN: ... talking about her -- her clothing and this and that eight days before a major national election.

COOPER: And, yet, she's talking about it. I mean, she's...

GERGEN: Absolutely. The McCain campaign...


COOPER: As far I was concerned, this thing was gone, and, then, this weekend, all of a sudden, they're both -- they're talking about it.

GERGEN: I totally agree. This was not manufactured by the media on Sunday. This was manufactured by the campaign.

But it's just an absurd place to be, if you have got a large national campaign, with -- with an economy in crisis.

COOPER: We're going to have more with our panel. You guys are going to be with us throughout this hour -- more with our panel ahead.

Again, we would love to hear from you,

We will also be talking about Joe Biden's run-in with a local news anchor that left him asking, "Is this a joke?"

Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You may recognize this famous quote: "from each according to his abilities to each according to his needs." That's from Karl Marx. How is Senator Obama not being a Marxist if he intends to spread the wealth around?

SEN. JOE BIDEN, (D) VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Are you joking? Is this a joke?


COOPER: But, first, new polling and how it affects each candidate's path to victory -- Miles O'Brien showing us the battle now in each state at the magic map -- only on CNN next.



MCCAIN: We can't spend the next four years as we have spent much of the last eight, hoping for our luck to change at home and abroad. We have to act. We need a new direction.

OBAMA: The last thing we can afford is four more years where no one in Washington is watching anyone on Wall Street, because politicians and the lobbyists killed common sense regulations.


COOPER: On the trail today in Pennsylvania, Senator Obama and McCain campaigning for every vote in the Keystone State, speech by speech, state by state.

Eight days may not sound like a lot, but, as we have seen, this campaign has taken some sudden and surprising turns.

We have new poll numbers in tonight in some key battleground states.

Let's get the latest across the board with CNN's Miles O'Brien at the magic map -- Miles.


MILES O'BRIEN, CNN CHIEF TECHNOLOGY AND ENVIRONMENT CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, we have some fresh numbers from our CNN poll of polls, the average of some of the key statewide polls.

Let's go right to Ohio. Of course, this is so crucial. There's never been a Republican who's made it to the White House without winning Ohio. John McCain there today, Barack Obama also there today, this state clearly in play. Take a look at these latest numbers that we have for the poll of polls, Obama up by a point, 50 percent, McCain up by two, 46 percent, slightly narrowing that contest there, Ohio, of course, so crucial to all this.

And, speaking of crucial, let's get right in to Florida and give you some of our late numbers from there as well. The -- these are likely voters, once again, our poll of polls. Obama is static, at 48 percent -- this is October 21 vs. now -- McCain gaining by a point, a very close race there in Florida -- watching that one closely as well.

Virginia is a fascinating story, as well, hasn't gone Democrat in a presidential race since 1964 -- of course, Obama finding a lot of support in these blue sections, around the urban areas in Virginia, the rest of the state very red.

Let's take a look at the numbers that we have right now, once again, Obama static, McCain picking up a point, close call there and something that will be heavily contested right up until the end.

Let's move right next door to West Virginia. This is a fascinating story. I want to show you the numbers. First of all, it shows McCain with an increase of 3 percent, Obama losing 3 percent, the undecideds staying the same. And this comes after a week when Barack Obama's campaign put on three times the number of TV commercials that the McCain campaign and the Republican National Committee put on. So, perhaps that shows the limits of the effectiveness of campaign spending.

Now, let's -- let's go to the big electoral map here for a moment and give you a sense of what's going on. After the win Ohio today, both candidates went to Pennsylvania. Why Pennsylvania? Well, let's take a look here for a moment. If McCain were to win all these yellow states, the tossup states right now -- let's put the numbers up on the board -- take a look -- that only gives him 261. You need 270 to win.

Why would he be so focused on Pennsylvania? Well, watch what happens if Pennsylvania wins McCain. If this one goes -- if this one goes in favor of McCain, the numbers are there for him. He gets 282 electoral votes. And that is why you're seeing so much focus on Pennsylvania. Really, if you think about it, they don't call it the Keystone State for nothing -- Anderson.


COOPER: Miles, thanks so much.

Now, I don't know if you have checked out lately, but you can go there any time day or night. Check out the latest on state-by- state polls. It's really cool. You can basically do what John McCain or Miles does at the magic map.

Take a look at this. You go to You follow the link to the tracking polls. Here we go. You can -- there's a map of the United States. You can do polling. You can do it by fund-raising, ad spending, candidate visits, power play, past results.

Let's just do polling. Let's click on Indiana. And it will show you the latest poll, 51 percent, Obama 42 percent. You click on it, and then it shows you the CNN poll of polls, which shows you Obama in the lead, 47 -- actually, 47 percent, John McCain in the lead, 48 percent, incredibly close race there in Indiana, unsure, 5 percent. And then it tells you what the latest polls are.

So, all of that is at You can check it out any time. You can pretend to be John King in your own home.

Just ahead tonight: Joe Biden and the explosive interview you have got to see, on camera and on fire. Watch the -- watch what happened between the candidate and a local TV news anchor. Judge for yourself which one of them had an agenda. Also tonight, Jennifer Hudson, her worst fears realized: her mom, her brother murdered, and her nephew today found dead.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't know what the motive really was at this time. But, clearly, you have people who do know each other, so it wasn't a case of a stranger-type homicide.


COOPER: Now the search for clues and a killer -- we will have the latest out of Chicago ahead.



PALIN: It's a sad day for Alaska and a sad day for Senator Stevens and for his family. The verdict shines a light, though, on the corrupting influence of the big oil service company up there in Alaska that was allowed to control too much of our state.

Thank you, guys. Thank you.


COOPER: Governor Palin at the airport in Richmond, Virginia, this evening, reacting to the conviction of Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska.

The longest-serving Republican senator in U.S. history was found guilty of accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in gifts and favors from friends, including a $29,000 fish sculpture -- why that is worth $29,000, I'm not sure -- and a Viking gas grill. Reportedly, that is worth around $5,000.

And, apparently, he also got a vibrating massage chair for nearly $2,700. Not sure what he did with that.

Stevens is one of several prominent Republican lawmakers facing a bruising reelection campaign against Democratic challengers.

Let's talk strategy. Joining us again, CNN senior political analyst former president adviser David Gergen, CNN chief national correspondent John King, and "New York Times" international business editor Marcus Mabry.

John, you talked to one GOP operative who warned that -- in his words, said it -- quote -- "feels like the makings of a landslide."

There are a couple races, Elizabeth Dole fighting with the Democratic newcomer to keep onto her seat in North Carolina, Norm Coleman slightly behind comedian Al Franken in Minnesota. Could the Democrats reach that -- that magic 60 seats in the Senate? KING: They could. Most Democrats and most Republicans think it is unlikely they will get to 60. But many Republicans are now conceding that they might get to 58 or 59.

And, Anderson, "We don't know" is the answer to some of these questions, because there's a seat now in Georgia. Saxby Chambliss is the incumbent there. He's now adding more and more money to his TV buy, because, suddenly, he's worried. That's one of the states where increased African-American turnout could mean coattails beyond Barack Obama, who probably won't win Georgia, but could influence congressional races in that state.

We're going to start the night with a Democratic pickup in Virginia. Elizabeth Dole in North Carolina would be number two for the Democrats, if Senator Dole falls. She's thrown a lot of money in lately. There are competitive races across -- across the country. And, with that verdict today in the Stevens trial, even all Republicans -- even all though he is staying on the ballot Republicans tell you privately they expect that one to go for the Democrats as well.

COOPER: And, on the presidential side, I mean, some of these states -- Marcus, you have been watching Indiana, John McCain, as I just said, in that poll up by one point, but, I mean, that's remarkable.

MABRY: It's astounding, actually, because Indiana is a deep, deep red state.

If you have a Republican like John McCain, who was so popular -- remember, in the primaries, he's this guy who came back from death -- and now he's just got a one-point lead over Obama -- what we're talking about here is the possibility of the first Electoral College mandate that we have had in 12 years in this country.

We haven't had a popular vote mandate in longer than that. The possibility here is that many deep red states could turn Obama. They might not. It's still probably a long shot that Indiana will go that way. But, if the race remains this tight, and if the Democratic get- out-the-vote machine is really as powerful as we expect it to be...

COOPER: Right.

MABRY: ... this could really, really spell a really bad day for the Republicans across the board.

COOPER: David, I want to talk a little bit with you about some of the accusations being made now by John McCain, kind of hitting Barack Obama on this sort of socialism thing.

There was a very testy interview with an Orlando news anchor between the anchor and Joe Biden.

I just want to play a little bit of this for our viewers.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You may recognize this famous quote: "from each according to his abilities to each according to his needs." That's from Karl Marx.

How is Senator Obama not being a Marxist, if he intends to spread the wealth around?

BIDEN: Are you joking? Is this a joke?


BIDEN: Or is that a real question?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That is a question.



COOPER: It's certainly a question the McCain campaign has kind of been hammering at, portraying Obama as a socialist. You hear that on -- on the Palin campaign as well.

Is it working?

GERGEN: They may be making some modest progress with it, Anderson. We did see some evidence of McCain coming up a point or two here and there. I don't think it's anywhere near close enough to win an election. And more importantly, I don't think the Democrats have really answered it appropriately.

You know, Teddy Roosevelt, a Republican, was very much an advocate of what's called progressive taxation. Ad that is the rich pay more than the poor in terms of taxes.

Now, one of the most effective popular programs we've had in the last three decades. It's called the earned income tax credit. It's a program whereby, if you're a working person, a working couple and you're below the poverty line, the government will actually give you money. That's a redistributed program. It's a program which takes money from the upper classes and gives it to the lower -- to the working poor.

Now who started that program? The earned income tax credit? Ronald Reagan. It was one of the -- it was an achievement of the Reagan administration that Bill Clinton then built on.

So I think that these arguments are -- you know, some of them get so carried away that they don't recognize the realities of what we've been going through in public policy and the big arguments about why the wealth over the last 30 years has been redistributed. It's been redistributed upwards.

COOPER: John...

GERGEN: As we grow, the top 1 percent is getting a disproportionate share.

COOPER: John, this really started with that video by -- of McCain talking to Joe the plumber. McCain today slammed Obama for a 2001 audiotape where he suggested one of the tragedies of the civil rights movement was that it didn't lead to what he said -- what he termed as redistributive change. I just want to play the full bite to put it in the complete complex.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: The Supreme Court never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth, and sort of more basic issues of political and economic justice in this society. And to that extent as radical as I think people tried to characterize the Warren court, it wasn't that radical.


COOPER: McCain has now called Obama "Barack the redistributor." Do you see McCain getting momentum with this?

KING: They have solidified the base, and they say it is working among white, downscale rural voters, who they need in this election.

But Anderson, what many Republicans say is where was this six months ago? Barack Obama is left of John Kerry. He is left of Michael Dukakis. You could run a classic liberal tax-and-spend campaign against him. Would it work in this year? That's a debate we could have from now through the election and into the new year.

But it seems scattershot. Everything McCain does seems scattershot to most Republican strategists. They say if you're going to build this case that this guy is so liberal on economic policies, social policy and anything else, you needed to start a long time ago and build your case, not just throw these things out.

MABRY: I think the problem now is there's a sense of desperation to it all, a sense that McCain is trying to throw anything he can at this candidate. And playing old clips of Professor Obama doesn't scare anybody. I think the Republicans are in deep trouble when they're just basically trying to scratch at any straw (ph) they can find.

COOPER: We're going to have more from our panel coming up. It's an historic election. Want to make sure that your voting rights are being protected next Tuesday. If you run into any trouble at the polls, call our CNN voter hot line. The toll-free number is 1-877- 462-6608. "Keeping Them Honest" and looking out for you.

Up next, dollars and votes. It is crunch time on the trail. Cash is king. It is pouring in. Barack Obama outspending John McCain in key battleground states. Is it enough to skew the end game? And who's really keeping track of where all this money is coming from? We're "Keeping Them Honest."

Also ahead, another heartbreaking day for Jennifer Hudson as a tragic story takes another terrible, terrible turn.



SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Back then we didn't have much money. We didn't have a lot of endorsements. We weren't given much of a chance by the polls or the pundits, and we knew how steep the climb would be.


COOPER: Barack Obama talking about the early days of his campaign, before the money flood began. Back then, he was still talking about using public financing. He later changed his mind and has raised a record amount, more than $600 million. He's also spending record amounts. On Wednesday, his campaign is going to air a 30-minute prime-time commercial on a couple major television networks. The cost of that is in the millions.

The question tonight is where is all the cash coming from? CNN's Tom Foreman is "Keeping Them Honest."


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Never before has a candidate raised so much: $660 million. That's a million for every day since he's joined the race.

OBAMA: Thank you! Thank you!

FOREMAN: The biggest money has come from the bluest states, California on top, with Internet donations a big part of it.

KEN VOGEL, THE POLITICO: Donors have the option of going on the Obama campaign's Web site, entering their credit card number and saying that they want a certain amount billed to their credit card in contributions each month so that it can be sort of an automatic thing, like an automatic bill pay where you almost don't have to think about it.

FOREMAN (on camera): That online bonanza has led some Republicans to suggest Obama is taking in millions from unidentified voters in violation of election laws.

(voice-over) "Keeping Them Honest," Obama's team has, in fact, refunded some money because of such problems. But it is a tiny fraction of all the cash they've collected, and the rest is fuelling a 50-state attack on McCain. Campaign offices, public appearances, and ads, ads, ads.

EVEN TRACEY, TNS MEDIA INTELLIGENCE CMAG: He is outspending McCain on a day-to-day basis 4 to 1 nationally. In some of these battleground media markets, it's as much as 7 and 8 to 1 daily. So it's -- essentially McCain is in a shouting match against a man with a megaphone right now. FOREMAN: McCain has lagged behind all along, and when he took public financing, he accepted a limit on how much money he could raise. So he is raising a fuss instead, over Obama's broken pledge to discuss both of them using public financing.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: He didn't tell the American people the truth, because he didn't. And that's -- that's an unfortunate part.

FOREMAN (on camera): Obama's campaign has long said that was not a promise, just an idea. And anyway, it's today's news. Tomorrow's news?

(voice-over) McCain still has $36 million left for the last week of campaigning. Problem is, Obama has twice as much.

Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.


COOPER: Still ahead, a spending frenzy. With just eight days left to get tout the message, who's spending the most and how will it shape the end-game?

Plus, new lows on Wall Street. What drove stocks down today, and why is an uptick in new homes sales not as great as it may sound?

And Michelle Obama sitting down with Jay Leno, getting some late- night laughs, when 360 continues.



MCCAIN: Senator Obama is measuring the drapes. He's planned his first address to the nation for before the election. You know, I guess I'm old-fashioned about these things. I prefer to let the voters weigh in before predicting the outcome.


COOPER: Senator McCain on the campaign trail with just eight days to go. Money can make a real difference, of course, in this final home stretch of any presidential campaign. As we've said, the Obama campaign is outspending the McCain campaign by huge amounts.

Joining me again for another "Strategy Session," David Gergen, John King and Marcus Mabry.

David, there is concern, Tom Foreman looked at that in our last piece about improper or possibly improper donations being used by the Obama campaign. With all this money coming in, are you concerned at all that there's not enough oversight? And do you think that Obama's decision to -- not to take federal funds was a good one?

GERGEN: His decision not to take federal funds, it did break his word, but obviously, it was smart politics, Anderson. He couldn't have raised anything like this.

Do I think there ought to be far more transparency? Yes. The campaign ought to be releasing the names of everybody who's giving these small gifts.

Having said that, listen, as you well know, one of the ways you compete for the presidency is you see who can raise the most money. It's been happening for a long, long time. And so when Obama wins that race, you have to say, well, you have to give him some credit for doing that.

And secondly, very importantly, unlike the old days when we really worried about the corruption that comes through money, the average donation here is around $86. That's not -- that's not a big donation compared to anything like what we used to see.

COOPER: David -- John, it's interesting. One ad executive I read said that Obama has spent enough to be a megabrand, and that most companies have spent far less on ads than, you know, his 200 -- reported $250 million in the past four months. To what extent do you think money can account for his leading the polls? I mean, how much has the money advantage helped him?

KING: Well, flip the coin a little bit, how is it after spending all this that this is still a remarkably competitive race? That many Republicans and even Democrats concede tells you a lot about Barack Obama.

His support is soft in some places. However, if you travel into those red states of Indiana, North Carolina, if you go into Virginia and you see by how much Barack Obama is outspending John McCain on television, without a doubt it helps.

We've talked a lot about McCain's negative ratings have gone up, his unfavorable ratings have gone up. And many have attributed that to his attacks on Barack Obama. No doubt that is part of it.

But don't you think a lot of it is also because, in addition to the positive ads Barack Obama is running, he's running these scathingly critical ads about John McCain and his brother, George W. Bush, when you travel through these states.

And it's not just on television. In Pennsylvania, we've got Candy on at the top of the program. Four hundred and fifty paid staffers for Barack Obama on election day in Pennsylvania, 450. That is twice, three times, four times what any Democrat in our lifetime has had on the ground. And that's just one state, Anderson. You find it all across the country.

COOPER: Marcus, this 30-minute political commercial that he is going to be airing in a couple of days on a couple of networks, is that a good idea? Does that kind of stuff work?

MABRY: It probably will work. He has a real tight line he has to walk. On the one hand he has to make it clear that you forget about the money that he's spending. He's got to reach out as a human being, in a really human way, even if he's spending a huge amount of money to do it, to remind Americans, "Here's why I'm here. Here's why I want to lead. Here's the America we can have."

It's got to be about hope. It's got to be about inspiration. It's got to be, actually, about looking beyond partisanship. And actually getting Americans to hope that maybe this will be a new day in our country. That's what he's got to do in that 30 minutes.

GERGEN: Anderson -- Anderson, just one more point. You know, if you're from a Democratic Party that hasn't won a majority of the votes in the country since 1976, and you're also black, wouldn't you try to raise one heck of a lot of money to sort of overcome the disadvantages you're facing?

COOPER: And that's -- and that's part of the equation here?

GERGEN: Yes, absolutely. Absolutely. And trying to win the big national victory. We'll talk more about that another time.


KING: Without a doubt. Look, the Democrats have lost close elections four years ago and eight years ago. One of the reasons, they thought, is that they didn't have enough money at the end and the Republicans had more.

And we've talked about Obama's money, Anderson. It's not just that. Never happened in our lifetime. The Democrats have more money and way more money than the Republicans.

But it's not just the candidate. Labor unions are spending a lot of money, too. And you do not see as much outside money, if you will, non-candidate money on the Republican side as we have seen in past campaigns, because the energy is on the left and in the Democratic based organizations. They will help him. They will make a difference on election day, too.

If Obama wins, remember, there's another conversation for later. If he wins, they will also have a long list of payback demands.

MABRY: I think political scientists are going to spend a lot of time dissecting this race. At the same time, George Bush is the most unpopular president we've had in 34 years.

COOPER: We're going to leave it there. Marcus Mabry, David Gergen, John King, thank you. Interesting discussion, all throughout the hour.

Still ahead, after three days of hoping for a miracle, friends, family, well-wishers of Jennifer Hudson got the news, tragic news they'd been hoping not to hear.

And Senator Obama on the trail today. While investigators charge skinheads with plotting to assassinate him and other African- Americans, how serious do they think they were? Federal authorities aren't taking any chances. Tonight, they're behind bars. We'll give you details.

And on a much lighter note, Michelle Obama hitting the late night circuit, dropping in on Jay Leno, taking a few shots at her husband's election efforts. Tonight on 360.


COOPER: A picture from Jennifer Hudson's MySpace page of her mother and young nephew, Julian. The Academy Award winner knew her mother and brother were shot to death in Chicago last week.

Today she was at the medical examiner's office to identify that little boy's body, Julian, 7 years old. He'd also been shot to death.

Chicago is in the grip of violence. We've reported on that over the years. It is now the murder capital of the country, and in this case, well, at least it is making headlines around the world. Who would kill the singer's family and why?

Erica Hill has the latest in tonight's "Crime & Punishment" report.


ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): The call came just after 7 a.m. this morning. A white SUV matching the Amber alert issued late Friday for 7-year-old Julian king, spotted. The body of an African- American boy found inside.

SUPERINTENDENT JODY WEIS, CHICAGO POLICE DEPARTMENT: At this time, we can confirm that the body located inside the vehicle was the body of 7-year-old Julian King.

HILL: Julian King was discovered missing on Friday when the bodies of his grandmother and uncle were found in their Chicago home. Darnell Donerson was found in her living room. Jason Hudson's body was in his bedroom. Both were shot multiple times, amid signs of a struggle.

Like his grandmother and his uncle, little Julian was found shot to death. Police would not confirm whether the boy was shot in the vehicle where his body was found. There is no weapon, no suspect, and police did not directly connect the three murders but said they are confident justice will be served.

WEIS: We don't know what the motive really was at this time. But clearly, you have people who do know each other, so it wasn't a case of a stranger-type homicide.

HILL: Julian King's stepfather has been named a person of interest. William Balfour was taken in for questioning on Friday. He is estranged from Julia Hudson, the boy's mother, and is now being held on a separate parole violation.

The murders have captured hearts across the country, as much for the senseless brutality as for the star at the center of this tragedy. (MUSIC)

HILL: Jennifer Hudson worked her way to the top the old- fashioned way, through talent and hard work. And the Oscar winner often credits her family for her success.

JENNIFER HUDSON, ACTRESS/SINGER: I've always had a positive upbringing and positive people around me. They've been able to remind me of who I was and what I wanted.

HILL: Tonight what many want for her are answers and peace.


HILL: And Anderson, we mentioned off the top that Jennifer Hudson identified her nephew today at the medical examiner's office. She also identified her mother and brother.

COOPER: The -- the estranged -- her estranged brother in law, who is said to be a person of interest, was taken into custody on Friday. This little boy's body, Julian, 7 years old, was found today. Is he a person of interest in that?

HILL: There was an attempt to get some clarification on that. The police were simply saying he was a person of interest. But there are some questions about that.

As to when the boy -- when the vehicle may have appeared where it was, there are also conflicting reports in the neighborhood about whether or not it was there on Saturday or just appeared this morning. So those are some of the questions that we're still trying to get answers to.

COOPER: Erica, thanks. It's so tragic.

Up next, a rocky Monday on Wall Street. How the markets finished and what it means for your wallet.

Also marking a milestone, the "Thriller" beat goes on, our "Shot of the Day." Wait until you see who's in the crowd.

And at the top of the hour, campaign end game barely eight days to go, the focus, on key battleground states. All the latest ahead.


COOPER: Just ahead, an anniversary. This kind of -- well, it's kind of horrifying, if you think about it. "Thriller" made its debut a quarter of a century ago. We'll show you how a lot of people celebrated it. That's "The Shot."

But first, Erica Hill has a "360 News and Business Bulletin" -- Erica.

HILL: Anderson, federal authorities say they have broken up a plot by two neo-Nazi skinheads to assassinate Barack Obama and also to murder dozens of other African-Americans. The men were arrested last week outside Jackson, Tennessee, after an aborted robbery attempt.

This is the third time a threat against Obama has led to arrests.

Another volatile day for stocks, all three major industries closing at new five-year lows. The Dow, for its part, tumbled more than 200 points. The session jitters also drove down the NASDAQ and the S&P 500.

New home sales rose almost 3 percent in September, which is a slight improvement over August. But it is still a 33 percent drop from a year ago. It is also the worst September for new home sales since 1981.

All right. On the upside here, check it out: it's the world's largest beach ball. Thirty-five feet around, more than three stories tall...


HILL: ... bouncing its way around downtown Dallas yesterday. Why, you ask? Well, in order to avoid the free commercial, I'll simply tell you that it was a cruise ship's attempt to get into the "Guinness Book of World Records."

COOPER: Did it crush all those people?

HILL: And it worked. No one was crushed in the making of this record.

COOPER: That would have been a promotional event gone horribly awry.

Time now for our "Beat 360" winners. Our daily challenge to viewers: come up with a caption better than the one anyone around here can think of.

Tonight, picture, governor Palin calling her mother to wish her a happy birthday during a campaign speech in Nashville, North Carolina, yesterday.

Our staff winner tonight is Gabe. His caption: "Ted who? Stevens what? No habla ingles."

That's good.


COOPER: Our viewer winner is Jen from Monrovia, California. Her caption: "Hi, there, Mom. I'm using a lifeline. Can you think of any other examples of where McCain's been a maverick?"


COOPER: Clever. Jen, your "Beat 360" T-shirt is on the way.

You can check out all the entries at AC -- Hard to say tonight.

All right. So Michelle Obama stopped by "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," talked up her husband's plan to air the 30-minute primetime campaign ad that we talked about; also talked be about her wardrobe. Take a look.


MICHELLE OBAMA, WIFE OF BARACK OBAMA: And Malia sort of overhears, and she's 10. She says, "You're going to be on all the TV?" She said, "Are you going to interrupt my TV?"

And he said -- he's sitting like this. He says, "No, we didn't buy time on Disney and Nick."

And she said, "Oh, good." And she got up and walked away. She was just like...

JAY LENO, HOST, NBC'S "TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO": I want to ask you about your wardrobe. I'm guessing about 60 grand? Sixty, 70,000 for that outfit?

OBAMA: Actually this is a J. Crew ensemble.

LENO: Really?


COOPER: Erica, now I know you like to kick it back in the day, kind of kick it old school.

HILL: ... for you.

COOPER: Yes. Take a look at this. This is going to bring back memories.

Over the weekend, hundreds of people got together in dozens of cities to simultaneously re-enact Michael Jackson's "Thriller." It's apparently the 25th anniversary of "Thriller." This took place in Los Angeles.

Now, I saw this. I was kind of stunned. But take a look, see that guy? You know who that is?


COOPER: Lou Dobbs.

HILL: He does look familiar.

COOPER: I head Lou was going to take part. He was disguised. He put on -- you know, a bald...

HILL: It's hard to tell, though, unless you see his teeth. They're very white.

COOPER: But you can tell; it's the size of Lou Dobbs. That's why he stood out.

HILL: I can tell by his moves.

COOPER: I didn't know he was such a big...

HILL: You never knew he could bust a move in makeup? Woo!

COOPER: I didn't know he was such a big Michael Jackson fan.

HILL: Huge.


HILL: There's a big poster in his office. You haven't seen it?

COOPER: I haven't seen that, really.

HILL: Pretty impressive. And while these...

COOPER: He hasn't invited me to his office, though.

HILL: Well, while these people may have been good, Anderson...


HILL: ... they weren't quite as together as the one and only inmates at that prison in the Philippines. So without further adieu, here they are.


(MUSIC: "Thriller")


COOPER: Yes, memories. They've gone on to make so many other big hits.

HILL: They really have. I'm trying to remember which ones. I know we've shown them on our broadcast.

COOPER: I think there was a "Gloria," Laura Branigan song I think they performed.

HILL: I love that song.

COOPER: Anyway. All right, so congratulations, all those who took part, I guess. I don't know.

HILL: Including you, Lou.

COOPER: Including you, Lou.

Coming up at the top of the hour, new polling, and our political panel weighs in as Obama makes his closing argument and McCain tries to distance himself from President Bush. Also, Sarah Palin, is she off the script, running for the 2012 nomination? We're actually still talking about that wardrobe. That's from this weekend. That and much more from the campaign trail. Barely a week to go. Tonight on AC 360.