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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Race to the Finish; Bill Clinton Campaigns With Barack Obama

Aired October 29, 2008 - 22:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: With just six days to go on the trail, every last minute counts, and some minutes cost more than others, millions more. Tonight, the Obama campaign outmuscled its opponent with a 30-minute prime-time commercial that aired on seven networks at the same time, cost as much as $5 million.
Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, OBAMA CAMPAIGN AD)

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: We've seen over the last eight years how decisions by a president can have a profound effect on the course of history and on American lives. But much that's wrong in our country goes back even farther than that.

We've been talking about the same problems for decades, and nothing is ever done to solve them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: We will have more on Obama's ad in a moment. He has been outspending McCain by huge margins after raising record amounts, more than $600 million.

on "LARRY KING LIVE" tonight, Senator McCain took aim at the money that paid for that pricey ad.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "LARRY KING LIVE")

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Whenever you have hundreds of millions of dollars, undocumented, in campaign contributions, these are the -- quote -- "small contributions" -- of course, it opens itself up to question.

So, therefore, he now is able to buy these half-hour infomercials, and -- and, frankly, is going to try to convince the American people, through his rhetoric, what his record shows that he's not.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Obama is clearly hoping his prime-time commercial is going to help lock in his lead.

CNN's new national poll of polls shows Obama leading McCain by seven points, 50 percent to 43 percent. Yesterday, he was ahead by eight points. Later tonight, we will look closely at the polls, see how accurate they really are.

Both candidates hit Florida hard tonight -- breaking news, just minutes from now, Obama and former President Bill Clinton will team up for the first time in Kissimmee, Florida. We will take you there live when both men appear. That is the stage. You see the stage is set. The folks have gathered. They are just waiting for President Clinton and Senator Obama to show up.

We begin with Obama, who began his day in North Carolina and is ending it in Florida, as we just said, two states very much in play.

On the trail for us, Candy Crowley.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Thousands who showed up in North Carolina and Florida were the warmup audience for the evening's Barack blitzkrieg.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, OBAMA CAMPAIGN AD)

B. OBAMA: We've seen over the last eight years how decisions by a president can have a profound effect on the course of history.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: Barack Obama looking presidential on a political infomercial across multiple networks simultaneously, 30 minutes on prime-time real estate, including a live hookup from the campaign trail.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, OBAMA CAMPAIGN AD)

B. OBAMA: America, the time for change has come.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: Estimated cost for this Obama-fest, between $3.5 million to $5 million. But this is less about news than a show of force, to send a message. Campaign time is finite. Obama's money doesn't seem to be.

He will visit Republican states with the days left, riding the economy to the finish line.

B. OBAMA: We don't need another president who fights for Washington lobbyists and Wall Street.

CROWLEY: In tandem, the campaign is up with a scorching new ad attacking McCain with one- to two-year-old quotes. Though he is doing a round of single interviews, Obama remains mostly in a mistake-free zone, using the teleprompter, far from the traveling press. Likewise, the freewheeling, free-speaking Joe Biden sticking with the program, this longtime party man hitting the McCain/Palin team.

SEN. JOSEPH BIDEN (D-DE), VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: No, no, no, no, they are good folk. They are good folk.

But here is the part I love. Hey, maverick. I'm a maverick. You're a maverick. We are the maverick team, right?

CROWLEY: After a 20-month campaign, firsts are hard to come by, but, tonight, there is one.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm going to Orlando for a rally with Senator Obama tonight, and we are going to light it up in Florida.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

CROWLEY (on camera): Just in time for the local late news, Barack Obama and Bill Clinton together at a rally in Orlando. Sometimes, the biggest bang for your buck is a freebie.

Candy Crowley, CNN, Sunrise, Florida.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: And, when they do show up, we will bring that to you live.

CNN's new Florida poll of polls shows Obama with a four-point lead. That's unchanged from yesterday. McCain barrelled through Miami, Palm Beach, and Tampa today, drawing modest crowds and launching a new attack on his opponent.

Dana Bash is on the trail.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): John McCain knows he can't compete with Barack Obama's blockbuster bank account that bought 30 minutes of prime-time TV, but he can mock it.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: In his first address to the nation, an infomercial -- and by the way, I will never delay the start of the World Series for an infomercial.

BASH: And McCain's advisers admit he can't match the enormous Florida crowds Obama will draw. So, he didn't try, instead, small targeted events, a modest Miami rally, a national security meeting in veteran-rich Tampa, still trying to raise doubts about Obama.

MCCAIN: The question is whether this is a man who has what it takes to protect America from Osama bin Laden, al Qaeda and other grave threats in the world. And he has given you no reason to answer in the affirmative.

BASH: But McCain's big push for attention was suddenly bringing up a six--month-old article describing a 2003 dinner Obama attended with friend and Palestinian American scholar Rashid Khalidi, an Israel critic. McCain says, 1960s radical William Ayers was there, too. "The L.A. Times" has a tape of the dinner, but says releasing it would violate a source agreement.

Calling Khalidi a PLO spokesman, McCain went on Miami radio to demand the tape be made public.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

MCCAIN: I guarantee you, if there was a tape with me and Sarah Palin and some neo-Nazi, or one of those, do you think that that tape wouldn't be made public?

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

BASH: In Ohio, Sarah Palin even diverted from her message of the day, a policy speech on energy, to join in.

GOV. SARAH PALIN (R-AK), VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Israel was described there as the perpetrator of terrorism instead of the victim.

(AUDIENCE BOOING)

PALIN: What we don't know -- what we don't know is how Barack Obama responded to these slurs on a country that he now professes to support.

BASH: Camp Obama was quick to point out that McCain has his own loose ties to Khalidi. An organization McCain chairs helped fund Khalidi's research in Gaza and the West Bank.

(on camera): An Obama spokesman called this a manufactured controversy. When I asked the McCain aide why they are just now bringing up a six-month-old article about a dinner five years ago, the aide was strikingly candid. He said -- quote -- "Because Obama may be one week away from being elected president."

Dana Bash, CNN, Maumee, Ohio.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, let's take a moment.

McCain and Palin are making a big deal about this Palestinian American professor. We don't take sides on this program. We just want the facts, so we asked Tom Foreman to look into this guy and allegations of a relationship with Obama and McCain.

Tonight, he is "Keeping Them Honest" -- Tom.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, as we saw just then, the McCain camp is accusing "The Los Angeles Times" of suppressing this videotape of Obama at a 2003 banquet with Rashid Khalidi, whose McCain's team says is Obama's political ally and a former spokesman for the Palestine Liberation Organization. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FOREMAN (voice-over): The PLO has of course long been tied to past terrorist attacks against Israel. And McCain was raising questions in an interview with CNN's Larry king.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "LARRY KING LIVE")

MCCAIN: Frankly, I have been in a lot of political campaigns, a whole lot. I have never seen anything like this, where a major media outlet has information and a tape of some occasion. Maybe it means nothing. Maybe it is just a social event. I don't know. But why should they not release it?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: "The Los Angeles Times" says, look, we reported back in April that people at that banquet spoke against Israel, against American policy, and that Obama called for Palestinians and Israelis to find common ground.

Furthermore, the paper says it got the tape from a confidential source on the condition that it not be released to the public. The Obama campaign says Khalidi is not a political ally. They were both neighbors and professors at the University of Chicago. But Obama says he stands firmly with Israel and often disagreed with Khalidi about the Middle East.

Khalidi told "The Washington Times" in 2004, as a professor, he spoke to news reporters about the PLO, but never for the group.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FOREMAN: Khalidi has written extensively about Palestinian causes and the need for more dialogue on Palestinian issues. But the bottom line is, unless McCain has some evidence he is not rolling out, some of what he is hinting at is misleading. The rest appears to be flat-out false.

And, that said, we should note this counteraccusation from some liberal bloggers, who are trying to make it -- a link between McCain and Khalidi. That's based on a group that McCain was involved in which funded some research about Palestinians by a company that Khalidi was once connected to. There was such a deal, but to suggest McCain and Khalidi have any relationship because of that also appears to be flat-out false -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Tom Foreman, keeping both sides honest. Thanks, Tom.

So, what do you think? Do you think this is a story? Let us know. Join the live chat on our blog, AC360.com. It's happening now. And check out Erica Hill's live Webcast during the break. That's just started. You have got to go to AC360.com for that.

Just ahead on this program, much more on Obama's unprecedented media blitz. We will show you what you may have missed, the most important moments from the commercial that did not air on CNN, and try to figure out if it's going to make any difference in the polls. We will talk to our panel about that.

Plus, he's back -- Joe the unlicensed plumber back on the trail campaigning today with Governor Palin. He has a opinion on everything. But are his 15 minutes of fame nearly up? We will tell you what he said today.

And breaking news -- tonight, Bill Clinton sharing a stage in Florida with Barack Obama. That's a live shot of the event. The crowds are there. They are just waiting for both men to show up. It is the first time they have campaigned together. Does it mean that all is forgiven?

These are live pictures. We will bring you there live -- when 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, OBAMA CAMPAIGN AD)

B. OBAMA: America, the time for change has come.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

B. OBAMA: And to all of you and all of those who have joined us from across the country, in six days, we can choose an economy that rewards work and creates jobs and fuels prosperity, starting with the middle class.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Barack Obama ended his multimillion-dollar 30-minute commercial with those words. That was from the commercial.

He spoke live from the stadium in Florida where Bill Clinton will join him within the hour. That's a lot shot right there. We're going to bring you that breaking news as it happens.

Right now, let's talk strategy with CNN senior political analyst and former presidential adviser David Gergen, also CNN senior political analyst and columnist for "U.S. News & World Report" Gloria Borger, and Maria Teresa Petersen, founder and executive director of Voto Latino, a nonpartisan voter education and outreach group.

Good to have you all.

COOPER: So, David, this 30-minute infomercial did not run on CNN, but ran a bunch of other places. Was it effective?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I thought there were aspects of it one could criticize. I thought there -- there were just an awful lot of promises about "what I'm going to do" and not enough sense of, wow, this is going to be much tougher than it looks, and no call for sacrifice. So, there were times the music, I thought, was a little dramatic. But, at the risk of gushing, I must tell you, overall, it was extremely well done. I thought it was effective as a political statement.

And what was striking about it, Anderson, the reason I -- I tend to sort of the gushing side is that, in a campaign which has had these negative overtones, he didn't say one word about John McCain. He didn't say one word of criticism about his opponent and his opponent's team.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Because, I mean, they are basically throwing the kitchen sink at him right now.

GERGEN: That's right.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: So, he didn't address that?

GERGEN: He sat up there and just talked about...

(CROSSTALK)

GERGEN: ... here is what we are going to do together.

(CROSSTALK)

GERGEN: And it was very much a conversation about the struggling middle class and what he intends to do, done in a serious, very thoughtful way, so much so that I -- if I can take one more second on this -- it really suggests that the British system of giving time to the candidate toward the -- right at the end, and giving -- just given them a 30-minute block and saying, you can do what you want, would be a good thing in America, too.

COOPER: Gloria, it might have been effective as a television event. In terms of a bump in the polls, will it -- will it make any difference?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, I'm not sure.

First of all, there are maybe 5 percent undecided voters out there. I thought it was really well done, Anderson. I think it pushed every button it needed to push. But the question is, will it change any minds out there? And I'm not sure. I think, if you are a soft Republican, and you're sitting out there and watching Barack Obama, maybe a little bit, but...

COOPER: Maria Teresa, you -- you blogged on AC360.com that -- that this was his most daring gamble of the campaign. How -- how so?

MARIA TERESA PETERSEN, FOUNDER AND EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, VOTO LATINO: Well, it was daring because everybody had their eyes on him to whether or not -- I mean, he has been -- he has been very steady all the way up to this point.

And to actually take out airtime, he opens himself up to criticism. And I think Gloria was touching a little bit about that. But what's really interesting is that his appeal was very much to the blue-collar worker who is just not quite comfortable yet for casting their vote for Barack Obama.

And this commercial, this gave him an opportunity really to connect to the American people, and to soften him, and make him accessible to most folks, at the same time, making him commander in chief by having him come out as if he were in the Oval Office.

COOPER: David, what do you make of this story that McCain and Palin are now pushing about "The L.A. Times" and about this Palestinian American professor? Is this just one of the things in the kitchen sink that they are trying to throw? I mean, is there any...

(LAUGHTER)

GERGEN: How much deeper is the kitchen sink? That's right.

(LAUGHTER)

COOPER: We did a fact-check on it, and it seems that both sides...

(CROSSTALK)

GERGEN: There wasn't very much there, Tom Foreman was saying.

COOPER: Right. That's right.

GERGEN: I mean, either way. The counteraccusations from the Obama campaign don't seem to hold very much water either.

COOPER: Right.

GERGEN: But I have to tell you, I think it's another one of those missed opportunity. This is a big campaign with big questions facing the country. And I think that John McCain, who did well tonight on "LARRY KING" -- it was one of his most effective interviews. He was relaxed. Dan Burton -- Dan Rather was just -- he was praising him.

And...

COOPER: We are going to play for our viewers more of that.

BORGER: Right.

GERGEN: And I think, if they could bring more of that John McCain out, but come to grips with what is going on now and what he plans to do about it. COOPER: But, in terms of the undecided voters, there's still a chunk of undecided voters out there, even in a lot of these battleground states. And, if they are undecided, they presumably still have doubts about both candidates. And if the McCain campaign is raising enough doubt about Barack Obama...

BORGER: Well, that is what they are trying to do. That is what they are trying to do with all of these stories, whether it's Bill Ayers or this most recent story.

They want to raise a question mark, so you go in that voting booth, you close the curtain or whatever it is, and you say, do -- can I really risk my vote on Barack Obama? That's what they want.

I don't think this does it. I don't think gets you there, largely because of the economy. I think John McCain should be making his economic argument.

(CROSSTALK)

GERGEN: They are chipping away. They are coming a little closer, but the time is running out. And the lead in the battleground states is...

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Maria Teresa, do you agree with that?

PETERSEN: I completely agree.

And I think what happens is that, time and time again, they have trying to make sure that Barack Obama -- really marry him with this whole notion of being a terrorist. And I think the American public is kind of old -- they say, give us solutions. Give us answers to our economic woes.

And that is where McCain, I think, can actually highlight, perhaps, his economic plan, and then actually have an opportunity and a shot at winning the White House next -- next Tuesday.

COOPER: How do you -- how do you think these undecided -- David how do you think these undecided voters are going to go? Is there a way to tell?

GERGEN: I -- look, I think the undecided voter group right now is pretty small. Dick Morris, on the Republican side, he thinks they are older and they're going to split for McCain.

COOPER: Right.

GERGEN: The Obama people think they are going to split for them.

The honest answer is, Anderson, though, if Obama is up 51 percent, 52 percent, 53 percent, they can all go to McCain, and Obama still wins the state.

BORGER: Right.

COOPER: Right.

GERGEN: So, I think -- I think Obama is going to get -- I think he is going to get some healthy share.

We have seen no evidence they are going to break heavily one way or the other.

COOPER: There's also some talk that these early voters are just the folks who vote all the time anyway. It's not necessarily these new voters coming into it.

BORGER: Right. But I think you -- you know, you can't underestimate the importance of Obama's turnout machine, their get- out-the-vote machine, whether it's early voting or whether it's going to be on Election Day.

COOPER: Right.

BORGER: And that could be a big margin of difference for him.

I mean, I was told the other day that they have got 200,000 volunteers in Florida alone.

COOPER: Interesting.

PETERSEN: It was one 100,000. Now it is 200,000.

GERGEN: Yes. They are asking a lot of early voters to go to...

(CROSSTALK)

BORGER: Absolutely.

COOPER: We're going to have more with our panel throughout this -- actually, we are on for the next two hours, because we are going to be bringing you a lot of the -- the comments that John McCain made on "LARRY KING" tonight, but also this live event with Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, whenever that happens.

So, we are on for the full two hours tonight live. Stay with us. Our panel will be with us. We're going to give them popcorn, keep them up late.

(LAUGHTER)

COOPER: Up next: checking the facts on Barack Obama's big-bucks commercial. David talked about some of the facts in there. We are "Keeping Them Honest."

We will also look at the latest polls and try to see why so many people seem to be reading them in different ways, depending on what Web sites you look at. How accurate are these polls, really?

And, as we said, Bill Clinton on the trail and back in the spotlight.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm going to make three stops in Pennsylvania, and then I'm going to Orlando for a rally with Senator Obama tonight, and we are going to light it up in Florida.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Tonight, his first joint appearance with Obama, we will bring it to you live.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: That is Osceola Heritage Park in Kissimmee, Florida, big enough to hold the expected 40,000 Obama supporters filing in right now. If you look at the picture, the crowds already pretty much seem to have filled up the place.

It's where Obama is going to be campaigning for the very first time with Bill Clinton at his side. We are going to take it to you -- take you there live when it happens, a huge event preceded tonight by big spending by the Obama campaign, as much as $5 million for that 30- minute campaign ad that aired on seven networks.

We thought you should know, the Obama campaign asked CNN to air its ad tonight, tried to buy time. Our network said no, and put out the following statement: "We did not want to preempt our programming lineup with a 30-minute paid commercial program. We would rather use our air to continue to cover the campaign, candidates, and issues, like we always do, from all points of view, with the best political team on television."

But we are tonight, over the next two hours, bringing you some of the most important clips from the ad throughout the program and also fact-checking them and comparing them to statements that John McCain has said.

Here's one. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, OBAMA CAMPAIGN AD)

B. OBAMA: What happened in the financial markets was the final verdict on eight years of failed policies. And we're now going through the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I take 12 different medications per day. When Larry was working, all of that was covered. When he retired, I did not have medical insurance. Larry is retired a total of 10 years, but five of those years, he had to go back to work. B. OBAMA: We are actually spending more in Iraq now than we were spending when the war first started. How many schools would that build? How many hospitals? How many people could get health care? How many college scholarships could we give our youth? It's time for us to invest some of that money right here in America.

MICHELLE OBAMA, WIFE OF SENATOR BARACK B. OBAMA: He's a lot like his mom. His girls are the only thing that can break him down.

He tries to make it a point to have that thing that he does with each of them. And, for Malia, it was reading through every single "Harry Potter" book.

B. OBAMA: I'm reminded every single day that I am not a perfect man. I will not be a perfect president.

But I can promise you this: I will always tell you what I think and where I stand. I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face.

I will listen to you when we disagree. And, most importantly, I will open the doors of government and ask you to be involved in your own democracy again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Well, the McCain camp fired back.

Here is some more of what he told CNN NEWSROOM's Larry King earlier tonight.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "LARRY KING LIVE")

MCCAIN: What's disturbing about it is that he signed a piece of paper back when he was a long-shot candidate. And he signed it, said, I won't -- I will take public financing for the presidential campaign, if John McCain will. I mean, that is a living document.

He didn't tell the American people the truth. Then, twice, he looked into the camera when he was in a debate with Senator Clinton and said, I will sit down and negotiate with John McCain before I decide on public financing.

Well, he didn't tell the American people the truth. He never had any intention -- I'm still waiting for the call.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: We have got more of Larry's interview with John McCain coming up later.

We will also be keeping Obama honest on his TV blitz. He made a lot of promises, as David Gergen mentioned. Can he deliver? We're "Keeping Them Honest" -- next.

And, out of Chicago, a potential major break in the killings of Jennifer Hudson's family. Did police find the murder weapon?

Also, breaking news live from Florida -- Senator Obama and Clinton campaign together. They have started to make some speeches to the crowd. We will bring you Clinton and Obama live when it happens. We will bring it to you live.

We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN: Our national security is dependent on our economic security. And the plans of a Democratic-dominated Washington would harm both. Raising taxes and unilaterally renegotiating trade agreements, as they have promised, would make a bad economy even worse and undermine our national security, even as they slash defense spending.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: With just six days to go, the self-described underdog is fighting back hard, trying to break through Obama's very rich public relations machine.

But the Democrats' campaign is $5 million poorer tonight, roughly the cost of Obama's 30-minute closing argument that aired on seven networks.

Tonight, we're checking the facts. Tom Foreman joins us again. He's keeping the candidate honest -- Tom.

FOREMAN: Anderson, as your guests mentioned earlier, and you did, too, not a lot of news in this. Obama's commercial reiterated many of the promises he's already made.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FOREMAN (voice-over): A tax cut for every working family with less than $250,000 a year in income, tax incentives for businesses to create jobs, investing $15 billion a year in green energy, on it goes.

The biggest question that economic and tax analysts have raised, over and over, how will he pay for all this, without ballooning the deficit? Obama still did not give an answer.

In the same vein, he once again said he is going to save an average American family $2,500 a year on health care. Health care experts widely say, that is misleading. They do not believe his plan will produce such savings.

And one more quick item -- he said, we can create schools that work. And he had an example.

B. OBAMA: Three years ago, only half the high school seniors at the Mapleton School in Thornton, Colorado, were accepted to college. But, after a rigorous school reform program, this year, all 44 seniors were accepted.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Tom, it sounds like a great school. What is wrong with that?

FOREMAN: Well, it is a great -- that is a great school, Anderson. It sounds wonderful.

"Keeping Them Honest," there is something he did not mention. The revolutionary changes at Mapleton School were financed by Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates and his wife. And, of course, Obama cannot promise that kind of support to every school in the country. It is right there on the school's Web site. You can see it easily. He presented it as if this were simply a reform in a school that worked really well.

It was a heck of a reform. It cost a lot, and it can't necessarily be replicated everywhere -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right. Tom Foreman, "Keeping Them Honest." Thanks, Tom.

Barack Obama and Bill Clinton have not been seen together since September. It happened in Bill Clinton's Harlem office, if you remember, kind of an awkward moment. Well, tonight we're going to see them together again, Clinton and Obama sharing the stage. We're going to take you there live with the breaking news.

Also ahead, the latest polls in the battleground states. John King with the magic map, where Obama has doubled his lead and where the polls are, in fact, tightening.

And new evidence in the tragic murder of Jennifer Hudson's mother and brother and nephew. We'll tell you what they have found when 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Looking at an event at Osceola Heritage Park in Kissimmee, Florida. It's actually Jimmy Smits warming up the crowd, where Bill Clinton for the first time is going to be campaigning alongside Barack Obama. Coming up, we're going to bring you the breaking news as it happens, while both men's comments.

First, Erica Hill joins us with the "360 News and Bulletin" -- Erica.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Anderson, a possible new development in the Jennifer Hudson tragedy. A Chicago newspaper is reporting police found a gun they believe could be linked to the killings of the actress's mother, brother and nephew. Police tell CNN they did recover some evidence in the alleyway, in an alleyway near where the body of Hudson's 7-year-old nephew was found inside an SUV Monday morning. The Fed today cutting a key short-term interest rate by half a percentage point. That rate now stands at 1 percent. Now, this is the rate that's used to set the interest for many consumer loans. The Fed also said we really haven't seen the worst of this yet.

And Delta Airlines now clear for take off. The Justice Department today approved the airline's deal to buy Northwest for $2.8 billion.

And Anderson, it turns out we know that Valentine's Day is a marketer's dream. But they actually may be on to something with the color of red. Because it's more than just a color. Researchers at the University of Rochester in upstate New York say they have actually proven the color red makes women appear more attractive to men. It increases their sexiness. Just the color.

COOPER: Really?

HILL: Yes. They say all it takes is a little splash of red and, woo, you've never seen a finer lady. (WRAPS A RED SCARF AROUND HER NECK)

JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Woo!

COOPER: Someone else -- John King just let out a hoot.

HILL: Hello, John King. Apparently, the researchers were on to something.

COOPER: We're on the air here, people.

Time now for our "Beat 360" winners, our daily challenge to viewers, a chance to come up with a caption better than...

HILL: A red scarf.

COOPER: ... anyone around here could come up with.

Tonight's -- I'm all flustered by the red. Tonight's picture, Sarah Palin cheering on Joe the plumber at a rally at Bowling Green University in Ohio today. Our staff winner tonight, Kay. Her caption: "Ladies and gentlemen, the man who has taken the spotlight off of me. Let's hear it for Joe."

(SOUND EFFECT: FOGHORN)

HILL: Very clever.

COOPER: Our viewer winner is Eric from Providence. His caption: "John McCain debuts his Joe the plumber costume for this Halloween."

(SOUND EFFECT: DRUM BEAT)

COOPER: I wonder if there is a Joe the plumber -- someone's got to...

HILL: I'm sure there is now.

COOPER: Got to be.

Eric, congratulations. Your "Beat 360" T-shirt is on the way. You can check out all the entries we received in our blog. Play along tomorrow. Go to our Web site: AC360.com.

By the way, if you do go as Joe the plumber or if you go as any CNN analyst -- Wolf Blitzer, John King, David Gergen...

HILL: If you're feeling Gergen-y.

COOPER: ... send us the picture. Send it to us, and we'll try to put it on the air.

HILL: In fact, we encourage you to dress up as a CNN analyst.

COOPER: As a CNN analyst.

HILL: Yes.

COOPER: Up next, it's all about the magic map and the all important electoral count. We'll show you where the campaign stands. John King is there ready to hoot and holler. We'll talk about the battleground states.

And breaking news, you're looking live at Kissimmee, Florida, where Bill Clinton is going to be campaigning alongside Obama for the first time in the race. The crowds are ready. We're going to take you live.

And Obama has the lead over the self-described underdog, John McCain, or does he? Could the polls be wrong? An up-close look when 360 continues.

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(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. SARAH PALIN (R-AK), VICE-PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: We Americans need to produce more of our own oil and gas. And we can do it, because we have it here. God has so richly blessed our land with the supplies that we need.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: That's Governor Palin, talking energy at a campaign stop in Toledo, Ohio, today. Her speech touted as a major policy address.

Any moment now Obama is going to appear with Bill Clinton at this big rally in Florida, the first time the two of them have appeared together. We'll bring it live.

We're also going to be following a number of new developments in the presidential race, including important new poll numbers in key battleground states. Let's get you caught up with the latest across the board.

CNN's John King at the magic map.

John, CNN has made some big changes in our Electoral College projections. Break it down for us.

JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We have, Anderson. Three changes today on the map.

One is no real surprise. We turn Washington state. We had it leaning Obama. It's 11 electoral votes are now safe Obama.

Here's the biggest change on the map. Colorado was a tossup, nine electoral votes. We're now leaning that to Barack Obama.

And we also, and this is bad for the McCain campaign, we took Indiana from leaning red, 11 electoral votes, and we made it a tossup because of indications that race is increasingly tight out there.

The bottom line, when you do the changes, you need 270 to win. We now have Barack Obama leading in states with 286 electoral votes, Anderson. Simple math there. If he just holds what he has, he's the next president of the United States.

COOPER: So the path for McCain back is pretty tough. And there's -- the new CNN state polls today suggest that they may be even tougher.

KING: Even tougher is a great way to put it. If you look at the map here, before we switch, stick with the electoral map for a minute. If McCain won every one of these battleground states that are still tossups: Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, Indiana, Missouri and Nevada, where he's trailing at the moment, if he won them all, it still wouldn't be enough.

And let's switch maps to look at some of our new battleground polling. We told you about Colorado. We switched that over because of this: 53 to 45, Obama leading McCain in our new battleground poll there. So we have made that now a lean Democratic state.

But when you pull out some of these other key states, McCain has to win Missouri, simply has to win Missouri. There's no way he can get to 270 without it. Well, he's ahead, Anderson, by 50 to 48 percent. That's a statistical dead heat. And it means the Republicans are spending time and resources in Missouri at the end of the election.

Another big state, obviously, the state of Florida. George W. Bush is president because of his narrow win there in 2000. He held it in 2004. Look at this: Obama 51, McCain 47 percent. We still call it a toss-up, but a slight edge for Obama heading into the final days in Florida.

Let me quickly tell you why. Down here, Miami and the Gold Coast, it's always Democratic. But the margin is huge right now. Also in the state of Florida -- that's a seven -- 70-29. Obama 70, McCain 29 among nonwhite voters. African-Americans and Latinos flooding to Barack Obama in the state of Florida.

One last point, Anderson. Pull out to the bigger map. Just want to show you the state of Virginia. We polled in Virginia again today. A top McCain adviser told me today, "We can't get to 270 without Virginia." Obama 53, McCain 44. An Obama advantage in the state of Virginia. Not since 1976. John McCain's own top team says if they can't turn that around, they don't think they can win, Anderson.

COOPER: John, you know, on the show we try not to take sides. I read liberal Web sites. I read conservative bloggers. I read moderate bloggers. But some of these conservative Web sites that I look at have these polls that show the race, you know, incredibly close, and liberal ones show the race far apart. Why are -- why is -- why is it such difference?

KING: It's a very tough year for the pollsters because of a number of uncertain variables in the election. Now, our polls are unbiased. We don't take sides in this election. Ours still show a double-digit lead nationally, or right around there. When you lump them all together, the poll of polls, as we call it, you get about an eight-point national lead.

But you're right. There are some polls that show a two- or a three-point national race, others that show a ten- or a 12-point national race. But pollsters will tell you, look, you call 1,000 people in the United States of America, a country of nearly 300 million people, and we say that is a poll of public opinion in America. How do they do that? They run it through a statistical computer model.

And some of the variables in this election: how much will African-American turnout actually go up, and will it go up in urban areas as well as rural areas? The statisticians who do the polls have to make a guess.

Latino vote is growing. That's a guess, as well. And will the Christian evangelicals come out? Those are just three of the variables. Different pollsters crunch the numbers different ways.

COOPER: All right. It's fascinating. John King, thanks.

Coming up, we're going to look more at these polls, putting them to the test. McCain is hoping the latest numbers are wrong. How accurate, really, are these things? An up close look, next.

We're also told Obama and Clinton have arrived in Florida. They're about to get together on the campaign trail for the first time. And we'll bring you their comments live, as well. Stay tuned.

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(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: We're still the underdog. We're now two or three or four points down. We've got six days to go to make that up. But it's not a matter of worry.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Senator John McCain telling Larry King earlier tonight not to count him out. He also brought up some of the poll numbers that have Senator Obama ahead. However, McCain camp also says another survey shows the two men functionally tied in the battleground states.

So again, it gets to the question. How reliable are these polls? Should he trust them? I was just talking about this with John King. Up close now, here's Joe Johns.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Like other national pollsters, Michael Dimmock of the Pew Research Center is pouring over the spread sheets and trend lines, and grappling with the big problems. If you don't know who will vote, you can't do an accurate poll.

MICHAEL DIMMOCK, PEW RESEARCH CENTER: Gauging turnout effectively in a poll is a very tricky thing to do. Not everyone we talk to in the survey is actually going to end up voting on election day.

JOHNS: Accurately defining a likely voter is a huge deal. Using its traditional likely voter model, Gallup has Obama up just three points. But when Gallup expanded the definition of likely voter in anticipation of record turnout, Obama's edge jumps to seven.

What makes identifying likely voters so hard this time are the "X" factors. "X" factor one: new voters. If a voter has no history of voting, do they really mean it when they say they're pumped up, determined to vote?

DIMMOCK: It may well be that even though they're telling us they have every intention of voting and they're telling us that they're very excited and engaged in this campaign, which they are, that they may actually not turn out at the rate we might expect them two.

JOHNS: "X" factor two: cell phones. For the first time ever, major national polling organizations are calling not just land lines but mobile phones, as well.

DIMMOCK: People who are cell only, maybe not surprisingly, favor Obama by a wider margin than the rest of the country, mostly because they're so much younger. We're in untested waters here.

JOHNS: And it's possible that younger, less rooted voters won't, in fact, turn out at the same rate as older land liners.

And then there are the fence sitters, 5 to 10 percent of the electorate who say they are likely voters but are still undecided. Most pollsters expect them to get off the fence any day now. But guess what? They may not.

DIMMOCK: Experience has shown in the past that a lot of these folks really don't end up voting. They're so conflicted, and at the end of the day they don't have a clear enough preference for them to really be motivated enough to get out there and show up.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: So what does this experience tell us? Has any of these pollsters gotten it right? You know, did they get it right four years ago?

JOHNS: Well, there was one tracking poll in the last presidential race, Anderson, that came pretty close, something like 0.4 points of accurately predicting the election outcome. That poll is the "Investor's Business Daily" poll, done by the Techno Metric Institute of Polling and Politics.

This time around they have been showing Obama leading narrowly, hovering only between one and three points ahead of McCain, and that is something like over the last week.

COOPER: All right. We generally rely on this poll of polls. It's a survey of six polls. Right?

JOHNS: That's correct.

COOPER: All right. Joe, thanks.

In the end, the polls really don't matter. It's your votes that do. So if you run into problems at the polls, call our CNN voter hotline. Toll free number: 1-877-462-6608.

Coming up next, breaking news we've been waiting for. Big night for Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, sharing the stage for the first time in Florida. What a difference a few months makes. Remember this?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Give me a break. This whole thing is the biggest fairy tale I've ever seen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Doesn't that seem like years ago? Well, the fairy tale line is history. From foes to friends, or political friends at least. Both men are about to speak at a massive campaign stop. We'll take you there live when 360 continues.

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MCCAIN: The question is whether this is a man who has what it takes to protect America from Osama bin Laden, al Qaeda and other grave threats in the world. And he has given you no reason to answer in the affirmative.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: As president, I'll end the war in Iraq by asking the Iraqis to step up. And I will finally finish the fight again bin Laden and al Qaeda. We will put them out of business.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Talking bin Laden and security. Obama and McCain touched on both topics today.

We continue to await Obama's joint campaign experience with former president, Bill Clinton. The first time these guys are on stage together. First -- a first for both of them. We're going to bring it to you live.

First, let's talk strategy, though, on the battleground states and with the polls. CNN senior political analyst and former presidential advisor, Republican and Democratic presidents, David Gergen; CNN senior political analyst, Gloria Borger; and Maria Teresa Petersen, executive director of Voto Latino.

You know, David, when you look at the electoral map, it's so different than what you hear from conservative Web sites like Drudge Report about what's going on.

DAVID GERGEN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It is. And it's different from, actually, if you see from some of the tracking polls, the Rasmussen, Zogby, Gallup, which is like the three daily tracking polls a lot of people pay attention to right now. And they have shown some narrowing.

But you look at the battleground states, and they're -- the big significant leads, Obama is holding onto them and John King just moved some states over...

COOPER: But it seems so interesting.

GERGEN: ... for Obama.

COOPER: I mean, both -- you know, no matter who you talk, seem to kind of throw up their hands and say, "You know, frankly, we don't kind of know what's going to happen on election day." But then some say, I mean, it could be a landslide. It could be a squeaker.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, pollsters also -- you know, this is a strange year for pollsters, Anderson. They're not sure if they're reaching everybody, because kids have cell phones and they can't reach them on their cell phones. And so there's a lot of uncertainty about that. But I would look at the state polls rather than the over -- you know, overarching sort of neck and neck polls. Because I think they tell you a lot.

GERGEN: What we do know is both candidates have concentrated in the battleground states. They've put a lot of resources, they've put a lot of personal time. For Obama to have a significant lead in this big battleground states says an awful lot about his commanding position.

COOPER: Maria Teresa, what do you think about the undecided voters? Which way do you think they're going to go?

MARIA TERESA PETERSEN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, VOTO LATINO: I think they're on the fence for a reason. But what's more interesting is that all these battleground states, everyone keeps talking about the different voters. But they're not talking about the demographic changes that we're seeing in these states. It's true for Colorado, Nevada, Indiana, and North Carolina. A seismic shift of increasingly Latino voters.

And you're also seeing 95 million youth voters, too, that will help determine that election. I think that's what's exciting. And folks are still trying to determine how do you reach them, engage them, and make sure that they come out?

COOPER: And Latino voters going overwhelmingly for Barack Obama here. A real missed opportunity for John McCain.

PETERSEN: Surprising.

GERGEN: Anderson, I want to go back. The Latino voters, what we understand, they're going about two to one for Obama. Much heavier than -- and it could be the opportunity for -- of a lifetime for the Democrats, if they can bring those Latino voters on.

COOPER: Well, you think about that talk over the last, you know, eight years ago about reaching out to Latino voters by Republicans, and then the whole immigration issue has just kind of blown that out of the water.

PETERSEN: Right. And...

COOPER: Maria Teresa, go ahead.

PETERSEN: Well, it's history repeating itself. We saw the exact same debate happen in 1993 with Pete Wilson with this Proposition of 187, which was very anti-immigrant. What folks forget is that at that time California was a red state. And what he did by proposing this legislation, basically, ensured that California became a blue state. And that's where the Democrats really have an opening to ensure -- to solidify, but they have to talk about the issues, and they have to talk about the economy.

BORGER: But you know, John McCain thought he had an opportunity with Latino voters.

PETERSEN: He did.

BORGER: Precisely because of immigration. Right? Precisely because he was on the side of lots of Latinos against lots of conservative Republicans.

PETERSEN: That's true.

BORGER: And that -- and that hasn't happened.

PETERSEN: Well, I think part of it is that what happened, unfortunately, with McCain was that, if you were to -- he admitted himself that today he would not vote for the same legislation that he was proposing. And I think that's -- I think that's what lost a lot of interest among Latino voters.

GERGEN: The larger point here, it seems to me, is that, if Obama is successful, he's got the makings of a new Democratic majority that he's putting together, a new coalition of Democratic voters.

This is what made Franklin Roosevelt so successful in the New Deal. He put together a whole new coalition. That's what you want to do for dominance over time. It's the (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

BORGER: Young voters.

COOPER: We want to talk about this event. Want to talk about this event, Bill Clinton appearing with Barack Obama. We anticipated this. We're going to have our panel talk about that, as well; as well as John McCain's comments on "LARRY KING" tonight. We'll take you live to the rally in Florida.

What else do we got here, coming up? John McCain's primetime counterattack. Interesting interview with Larry King tonight. We'll play a lot of that, too, in this next hour. We're live the next hour, all the way to midnight. Stay tuned.

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COOPER: And breaking news. You are looking at a live shot at a rally in Florida where just moments from now Barack Obama and Bill Clinton will share the stage. It is the first time they campaigned side by side. You can see the massive crowd that has turned out.

Tonight's rally caps a blockbuster media day for Barack Obama. A couple of hours ago, seven networks aired his 30-minute infomercial. The primetime ad cost millions. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: In six days we can come together as one nation and one people and once more choose our better history. That's what's at stake.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Obama's been outspending McCain by huge margins. He's raised more than $600 million. On "LARRY KING LIVE," McCain took a jab at Obama's primetime ad. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN: As with other infomercials, he's got a few things he wants to sell you. He's offering government-run health care, an energy plan guaranteed to work without drilling, and an automatic wealth spreader that folds neatly and fits under any bed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: McCain also launched a new attack on Obama today. Dana Bash has been covering that story today. We'll talk to her in a moment.

First, let's check in now with Candy Crowley, who's on her way to the stadium. Joins me now by phone -- Candy.