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Obama Trying to Close the Deal; Triple Tragedy for Jennifer Hudson

Aired October 27, 2008 - 23:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: 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 and Pennsylvania; Ohio up for grabs, Pennsylvania deep blue but seen by the McCain forces as a key to their come back. Two campaigns on the same turf but in very different circumstances.

Tonight, take a look.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) 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, you don't get it.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) 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 just like they have done before four or five times. 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 our political observers said today, Barack Obama trying to close the deal, and 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'll 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: From Canton, Ohio to Pittsburgh and beyond, Barack Obama offered what his campaign called his closing arguments. It's time.

OBAMA: Pittsburgh, I've 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. 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 and 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. His senior adviser says, "I'm a nervous wreck, not just about Pennsylvania, but about the country 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 had 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 these primaries. 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.

CROWLEY: There is not.

COOPER: OK, it's all about Election Day.

CROWLEY: Florida.

COOPER: Florida, all right Candy Crowley thanks.

So Obama is warning supporters against overconfidence. McCain is targeting lukewarm Democrats and undecided voter 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 re-distributor, it means taking your money and giving it to someone else. He believes -- he believes 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 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 CORRESPONDENT: In critically important Virginia, Sarah Palin was back on message.

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

BASH: That after some top McCain aides question 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 and everything else that the RNC purchased, I'm not taking them with me. I'm back to wearing my old clothes from my favorite consignment shop in Anchorage, Alaska.

BASH: Palin's aid 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 helps 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's 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 this tension inside a presidential ticket is hardly new, in both parties blending two different politicians and their staff always results in various degrees of infighting. 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 what 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 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 web cast, 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" as Elizabeth Hasselbeck who actually brought it up first, introducing Palin "On the Trail."


ELIZABETH HASSELBACK: Instead of these 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'll show you the numbers on the magic map.

And actress-singer Jennifer Hudson facing a triple tragedy, her mother, her brother, murdered and today she had to ID her nephew's body as well. We've got the latest on the search for a triple murder when "360" continues.



PALIN: Didn't think that we would be talking about it but my earrings, I see a "Native Americans for Palin" poster. These are -- these are beaded earrings from Todd's mom who's a Upic Eskimo up in Alaska; 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; CNN Chief National correspondent, John King; and Marcus Mabry, international business editor of "The New York Times."

John, we've just heard Governor Palin being called a diva by some unnamed person within the McCain campaign, accused of going rogue at times particularly this weekend and 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 camp and the McCain senior adviser group, but also within the campaign about strategy decisions.

Senator McCain was in New Mexico and Iowa over the weekend, not only with his own top advisers but many Republicans scratching they're heads saying what are we doing? There's a week left in the campaign, and 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 is 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 sub-drama, Anderson, everyone on both sides of the divide if you will within Camp McCain try to tamper it down today. They understand that if we're talking about this tomorrow and the day after and the day after, it makes a bad campaign even worse.

COOPER: And you know David, I mean, yesterday they are surprised because Hasselbeck brings it up and then Sarah Palin talks about it quite extensively and 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. Just late last week, we were talking about the fact that there was a very, very tight window in which McCain had to turn the momentum in this campaign.

COOPER: Right, you said three or four days.

GERGEN: Three or four days. And we were talking about that last Thursday or Friday. And here we are on Monday night now and we're still talking about Palin's wardrobe. I mean, that is exactly what they do not want to be talking about if they're want to have a fighting chance to win this.

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

COOPER: It's interesting Marcus, I mean, some are saying Palin is actually taking more control over her image and what she is saying. And there are those who said 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.

MARCUS MABRY, NEW YORK TIMES INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS EDITOR: Well, Anderson, who could really disagree with her? Because this is a woman who's 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 to be really blunt about it.

COOPER: Early on in some of those interviews.

MABRY: Absolutely, so you can imagine her frustration with this her national rollout and what we've see is a woman who is certainly less than an exciting candidate. Whereas she's actually the only thing about the McCain campaign that has enlivened his base so you can understand the frustrations on her part.

COOPER: Its interesting John, because there are those who are saying well, look if 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 the interviews and answered the questions, so she has to be held accountable for her answers just as McCain has to be held accountable for his campaign.

Even though you could make the case that perhaps he has been ill served on occasion by his staff. He's the boss; she's the boss of her part of that campaign.

One of the complaints from her side Anderson, is essentially she came in and she acknowledged she did not have the background on North Korea. She 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 debates.

And in her perspective is they essentially gave her the big thick book and said here memorize this we'll be back there's a quiz in the morning. As opposed of 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 the McCain loyals said they came in says here's how we're going to do this and she said fine. And only after the fact that she objected 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 of course, it depends on the outcome of the election as to how long this will spill on. COOPER: David, I see you kind of shaking your head.

GERGEN: It's absurd -- it's absurd that we're sitting here talking about her clothing and this and that eight days before a major national election.

COOPER: And yet she's talking about it.

GERGEN: Absolutely.

COOPER: As far as I was concerned, this thing was gone, and then this weekend, all of a sudden they're both, they are all 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've got a large national campaign with an economy in crisis.

COOPER: Yes, we're going to have more with our panel. You guys are going to be with us throughout this hour.

Up next, we take you to Central Africa where thousands of wild elephants are being killed. We'll find out why, in our "Planet in Peril" investigation when "360" continues.


COOPER: The elephant is the world's largest land animal, their size makes them magnificent creatures. It also makes them a target. In Central Africa right now, they're numbers are dwindling fast. They're literally caught in the cross-fire of human conflict as rebels from both Chad and Darfur kill the elephants for their ivory.

The story is part of our "Planet in Peril: Battle Lines" investigation which airs December 11th. We sent Lisa Ling to Chad to investigate and she just filed this report.


LISA LING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Lisa Ling in Central Africa in Chad and we are inside the Zakuma National Park. And this is one of only two places in the region where you can still see wild elephants roaming the land.

And we're with Mike Fay from the Wildlife Conservation Society. And he said that at one time there were tens of thousands of these elephants in this park. And now in recent years that number has dwindled he thinks to fewer than a 1,000. And that's because poachers and rebels from Sudan have been coming here and attacking the elephants and taking their tusks and leaving the bodies just to rot. And it's fueling the global market for ivory.

I've been here for about a week. And the experience for me has been both exciting and moving, but also so devastating because I've gotten a chance to see these massive creatures in the wild. And it's one of the most awesome sights I've ever seen, but I've also seen these elephants killed and just for their tusks. And this giant, massive body is just laying there to rot.

We are going to take you directly inside the battle to try and save these elephants from total extinction on "Planet in Peril" in December.


COOPER: That's Lisa Ling were reporting for our worldwide investigation of "Planet in Peril: Battle Lines" airs on December 11th. Just go to for our latest dispatches from the field and more. It's a cool web site; you should check it out.

Joe Biden in the explosive interview you've got to see on camera. Watch the fireworks between the candidate and the local TV news anchor and judge for yourself if one of them has an agenda.

Also tonight, Jennifer Hudson, her worst fears realized. Her mom, her brother murdered and her nephew today found dead.


SUPERINTENDENT JODY WEIS, CHICAGO POLICE DEPARTMENT: 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 the killer. We'll 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.


COOPER: Governor Palin at the airport in Richmond in 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's worth $29,000 I'm not sure -- and a Viking gas grill -- reportedly that's worth around $5,000 -- and a vibrating massage chair for nearly $2,700 bucks. I'm not sure what he did with that one.

Stevens is one of several Republican lawmakers facing a bruising reelection campaign against Democratic challengers. Let's talk "Strategy." Joining us again is CNN's senior political analyst and former presidential adviser, David Gergen; CNN's 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 who said quote, "Feels like the makings of a landslide." There are a couple of races, Elizabeth Dole fighting with a Democratic newcomer to keep on to her seat in North Carolina and Norm Coleman slightly behind comedian Al Franken in Minnesota. Could the Democrats reach that magic 60 seats in the senate?

KING: They could, and 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 is 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 coat tails 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 the country and with that verdict today in the Stevens trial, even all the Republicans, even though he is staying on the ballot, Republicans will tell you privately they expect that one to go off to the Democrats as well.

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

MABRY: It's astounding Anderson, because Indiana is a deep, deep red state. If you have a Republican like John McCain who was so popular and remember in the primary season this guy 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 first Electoral College mandate that we've 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, but it's still probably a long shot that Indiana will go that way, but if the race remains this tight and if the Democrat get out the vote machine is really as powerful as we expect it to be, 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 socialism thing.

There was a testy interview with an Orlando News anchor between the anchor and Joe Biden. And I just want to play a little bit of this for our viewers.


BARBARA WEST, WFTV ANCHOR: 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 CANDIDATE: Are you joking? Is this a joke?


BIDEN: Is that a real question?

WEST: That's a question.


COOPER: It's certainly a question the McCain campaign has kind of been hammering at portraying Obama as a socialist; you heard that on the Palin campaign as well. Is it working?

GERGEN: They may be making some modest progress with it Anderson, we do see some evidence McCain coming up a point or two here and there. But 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.

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

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

Now who started that program -- the earned income tax credit, Ronald Reagan. It was an achievement of the Reagan administration that Bill Clinton then built on. So I think that these arguments are, you know, sometimes they 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, as we grow, the top one percent is getting a disproportionate share.

COOPER: John, this really started with that video of Obama 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 termed as redistributive change. I just want to play the full bite to put it in the correct context.


OBAMA: 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 try to characterize the Warren Court, it wasn't that radical.


COOPER: McCain has now called Obama Barack, the re-distributor. 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 taxes-bent 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 seem scattershot to most Republican strategists. If you're going to build this case that this guy is so liberal on economic policy, 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 really doesn't scare anybody.

I think the Republicans are in deep trouble when they're just basically trying to clutch any straw they can find.

COOPER: We're going to have more from our panel coming up. It's a historic election. We 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 vote; it is crunch time on the trail. Cash is king, it is pouring in; Barack Obama outspending 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 heart breaking day for Jennifer Hudson as a tragic story takes another terrible, terrible turn.



OBAMA: 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 the record amount of more than $600 million. He's also spending record amounts.

On Wednesday, his campaign is going to air a 30-minute primetime commercial on a couple of major television networks. The cost of that is in the millions. The question is where is all the cash coming from? CNN's Tom Foreman is "Keeping Them Honest."


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Never before has a candidate raised so much; $660 million. That's a million for every day since he 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: That online bonanza has led some Republicans to suggest Obama is taking in millions from unidentified voters in violation of election laws.

"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 have collected and the rest is fuelling a 50-state attack on McCain; campaign offices, public appearances, and ads, ads, ads.

EVAN TRACEY, TNS MEDIA INTELLIGENCE/CMAG: He's outspending McCain on a stay day over day basis, four to one nationally. And in some of these battleground media markets it's as much as seven and eight to one daily.

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.

MCCAIN: He didn't tell the American people the truth because he didn't and that's an unfortunate part. FOREMAN: Obama's camp has long said that was not a promise, just an idea. Anyway, it's yesterday's news.

Tomorrow's news? 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, spending frenzy, with just eight days left to get out 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 home 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 before the election. 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 trail today with just eight more days to go. Money can make a 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 that there's not enough oversight and do you think that Obama's decision not to take federal funds was a good one?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: His decision not to take federal funds did break his words, 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 has given these small gifts.

Having said that, listen, as you well know, one of the ways you compete for the presidency is 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 that we really worried about the corruption that comes through money, the average donation here is around $86. That's not a big donation compared to what or anything like what we used to see.

COOPER: John, it's interesting. One ad executive I read said that Obama has spent enough to be a mega-brand. That most companies have spent far less on ads than his reported $250 million in the past four months.

To what extent do you think money can account for his leading the polls? How much has the money advantage helped him?

KING: Well, flip the coin a little bit it's how is it after spending all this money that this is still a remarkably competitive race? That, many Republicans and even Democrats would 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 have talked a lot about how 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 that Barack Obama is running, he's running these scathingly critical ads of John McCain and his brother, George W. Bush when you travel through these states.

And it's not just on television. In Pennsylvania, you had Candy on at the top of the program, 450 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: And 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? Will that kind of stuff work?

MABRY: It probably will work. He has a really tight line he was 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 is why I'm here, here's why I'm in the 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 guy 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. 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 part of the equation here?

GERGEN: Yes, absolutely and to try to win a 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.

Now we've talked about Obama's money, Anderson, it's not just that. It's never happened in our lifetime the Democrats had more money; and way more money than the Republicans. But it's not just the candidate.

Labor unions are spending a lot of money as well. 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 in the Democratic-based organizations.

They will help him, they will make a difference on Election Day. If Obama wins, remember, there's another conversation for later, if he wins, they will also have a long list of pay back demands.

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

COOPER: We have got 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 had been hoping not to hear.

And Senator Obama on the trail while investigators charge skin- heads 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: That's 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, seven years old; he had also been shot to death.

Chicago is 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, 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 and Punishment" report.


ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The call came just after 7:00 a.m. this morning. A white SUV matching the amber alert issued late Friday for seven-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 seven-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 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. 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, OSCAR WINNER: I've always had a positive upbringing and positive people around me. You know? Been able to remind me of who I was and what I wanted.

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

(END VIDEOTAPE) HILL: And Anderson, we mentioned off the top that Jennifer Hudson identified her nephew today at the medical examiner's office. We're told she also identified her mother and brother.

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

HILL: There was an attempt to get some clarification on that. He police are simply saying he's 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: All right. 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.


COOPER: Just had an anniversary. It was 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 the "360 News and Business Bulletin" -- Erica.

HILL: Anderson, federal authorities say they have broken up a plot but two neo-Nazi skinheads to assassinate Barack Obama and also to murder dozens of others 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 indices closing at new five-year lows; the Dow for its part tumbled more than 200 points. Recession 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, 35 feet around, more than three stories tall. Bouncing around downtown Dallas yesterday. Why you ask? Well, in order to afford the free commercial I'll simply tell you that it was a cruise ship 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 a promotional event gone horribly awry.

Time now for our "Beat 360" winners; our daily challenge to viewers to come up with a caption better than the one anyone around here can think of. Tonight's picture, Governor Palin calling her mother to wish her a happy birthday during a campaign speech in Asheville, North Carolina yesterday.

Our staff winner tonight is Gabe. His caption: "Ted who? Stevens what? habla Ingles."

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

Clever. Jen, your "Beat 360" T-shirt is on the way. You could check out all the entries at; hard to say tonight.

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 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 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 just like --

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

M. OBAMA: Actually, this is a Jay crew ensemble.

LENO: Really.


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

HILL: Hard core.

COOPER: Take a look at this. It's going to bring back memories.

Over the weekend hundreds of people in dozens of cities to simultaneously reenact 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 that 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?

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 ado, here they are.

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.

That does it for this edition of "360." Thanks for watching.

"LARRY KING" starts right now.

I'll see you tomorrow night.