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Election Anxiety: The Shifting Battlegrounds; Obama's Aunt Living in the U.S. Illegally; U.S. Future in Iraq and Afghanistan

Aired November 1, 2008 - 23:00   ET


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, election anxiety. Three days to go and everyone is feeling it. The candidates and especially you.
Record numbers. Millions waiting for hours. Now what for Election Day?

October surprise. On the 1st of November, Obama's aunt, an illegal immigrant. What it means for his run so close to Election Day. The news starts right now.


LEMON: And good evening, everyone. Welcome to the program.

The entire country, if not the world, is on edge about this election. So, let's get right to where we stand right now. Those six yellow states on the CNN Electoral Map could go either way. The light blue states are leaning toward Obama. The pink ones lean toward John McCain. Those states are where you'll find the candidates in the closing days and a few more as well.

Pennsylvania, Virginia, Nevada and also Colorado, no longer officially toss-ups, but still they are not out of reach. You're looking at live pictures now of Barack Obama. He's addressing a late-night rally in Springfield, Missouri. He has been on the campaign trail all day as well as all of the candidates.

And with them, every step of the way, the Best Political Team on Television. There they are. Candy Crowley is with Obama. She is in Springfield, Missouri. Our political editor Mark Preston overseeing much of our coverage. He joins us from New York. And Ed Henry is with the McCain campaign. He is also in New York tonight where McCain has a media appearance.

Ed, John McCain was on the trail today in Virginia and Pennsylvania urging supporters to fight to the end. Let's take a listen and talk about it.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am an American and I choose to fight. Don't give up hope. Be strong. Have courage. And fight, fight for a new direction for our country. Fight for what's right for America. Fight to clean up the mess of corruption, infighting and selfishness in Washington. Fight to get our economy out of the ditch and back in the lead. Fight for the ideals and character of a free people. Fight for our children's future. Fight for justice and opportunity for all.

Stand up to defend our country from its enemies. Stand up. Stand up and fight. America is worth fighting for. Nothing is inevitable here. We never give up. We never quit. We never hide from history. We make history. Now, let's go out and win this election and get our country moving again. God bless you and God bless America. Thank you, Virginia. God bless. We've got to win.


LEMON: Ed Henry, that was very animated, and lots of energy there. But with the polls the way they are, can this help him really get to the finish line? Even that energy?

ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Look, what me worry seem to be the way John McCain was approaching it. He did look fired up, as you said. He's been through much tougher things in his life than this. And so, these final days he's going to go out fighting one way or another.

He's buffed up by a couple of things. First of all, when you talk to his senior advisers. I just spoke to one of them a few moments ago. They insist that a lot of these public polls are tighter than we're seeing. And they're convinced that on Election Day this is going to be a much tighter election. Specifically, one adviser just told me, look, we win Pennsylvania, we win this election. Flat out. That's tough, though. You know, they're hopeful. They think they can do it. But I was just in Pennsylvania a couple of hours ago with John McCain. He's still down there, at least in the public polling, including CNN, by double digits. So, that's difficult.

And secondly, as you noted at the top, most importantly, even if he were to win Pennsylvania, which is still difficult, he has to hold Virginia and North Carolina. A lot of those red states where he's struggling right now.

LEMON: Well, he said he likes being down. That he is right where, you know, he wants to be. And he has his opponents right where they want to be. That's what he says.

OK, let's bring in Candy Crowley.

Candy, Barack Obama was in Nevada today. He is in Springfield, speaking right now. He is telling his supporters, you know, don't get overconfident because of these strong polls showings. Let's listen in.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Don't believe a second that this election is over. Don't believe for a minute that power will concede everything. We are going to have to work like our future depends on it in these last three days, because it does. But I know this, Nevada, the time for change has come. We have a righteous wind at our back. And if in this last few days, you will knock on some doors with me, make some calls for me, go to and find out where to vote. And remember, you can vote early in Nevada, if you will stand with me and fight with me. Cast your ballot for me. I promise you this, we will not just win Nevada, we will win this general election, and together, you and I, we're going to change this country, and we're going to change the world. God bless you. And God bless the United States of America.


LEMON: And Candy, in that speech it looks like he's promising everything except for taking people to the polls. And in some states, they're actually doing that.

CROWLEY: Absolutely. And that's been his main goal over these past several days. He's been in so many states that have early voting. Because that is a key part of their strategy. They believe that they have all these new voters and certainly the registration shows us that. And they want to drive them to the polls early. They wanted to get that vote in hand. And what they're looking at now, when we see more than 40 percent in Colorado, their aides say have already voted. So, they're looking at these votes. They know that it is heavily Democratic, heavily independent, leaning Democratic. So they are thrilled with what they're seeing from these early voting polls. And that's pretty much what he's been doing over these past several weeks.

And one of the reasons is that they look at it now. We had a really interesting phone call conference, reporters, with the campaign manager for the Obama campaign, and he said, look, even as we speak, the die is being cast. They believe that John McCain has to outperform on Election Day to overcome the sorts of margins that they're seeing in the early voting.

This is a very confident campaign. But having said that, you heard him say we can't let up, we can't. Because even as John McCain has to worry that his voters will just get discouraged and stay home, so he's out there trying to rally his base. Barack Obama is trying to rally his supporters because he's afraid they'll look and say, hey, it's done. I don't need to go out. It's raining. Whatever happens to be. So they both have a vested interest in keeping this going through Election Day.

LEMON: Especially when you look at those lines. And it has been said that those early voting lines may favor the Democrats. So Candy, stand by. Ed is standing by as well. I want to bring in Mark Preston now.

Mark, we have seen the polls tightened. We have seen all those toss- up states, they have changed. But what can the voter believe here? Because, you know, at the last minute, anything can happen. I was talking to one person here in the NEWSROOM, and I remember election night, last time, you know, one person said, hey, congratulations, Mr. President, and it turned out not to be the president. MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: Yes. Well, Don, clearly it's not over until it's over. And that is what we're hearing from the Obama campaign. They are actively campaigning very hard. And we're seeing the same thing with John McCain right now. We've seen him in Pennsylvania today. He is trying to take that out of the Democratic column. We will see him in Pennsylvania tomorrow. He'll also be in New Hampshire. So while we'll see the fact that Barack Obama is going into these traditional red states, we're seeing John McCain try to go into these Democratic states as well.

Look, it is a narrow path to victory. No question, Don, for John McCain to win on Tuesday. But there is a path, and he is going to try to pursue it.

LEMON: OK. Hey, Mark, stick around. Ed and Candy as well. Because I want to talk about what some are calling an October surprise that came in November. And we're talking about Barack Obama's aunt living in the U.S. illegally. But we want to go back to where Candy is now in Springfield, and listen to Barack Obama for just a little bit.


OBAMA: You will not see your taxes increase one single dime. Not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not you capital gains tax, no tax. We're not going to raise taxes on the middle class. We're going to cut taxes for the middle class. That's the change we need.

But you know what else -- you know what else we need? We can argue all we want about taxes, but what we also need is jobs. And the choice in this election is not between putting up a wall around America or standing by and doing nothing. Look, the truth is, we're going to have to compete in this global economy. Everybody knows that. We know we're going to have to compete, and what that means is that we're going to have to engage in trade. Nothing wrong with that. But, you know what? There's a way of making sure that our trade agreements are good for American workers and American businesses, that there are worker protections and environmental protection, that they are letting our products in, if we're letting their products in to our country.

There's a way of making sure that we're not giving tax breaks to companies that ship jobs overseas like John McCain supports. And that we make sure that we're giving tax breaks to companies that invest right here in the United States of America, right here in Missouri, right here in Springfield. We need to create -- we can create 2 million new jobs just by building our infrastructure, our crumbling roads, our bridges, our schools. We can create 5 million new jobs by investing in the new energy economy over the next decade.


Jobs that pay well, jobs that can't be outsourced. Building solar panels, building wind turbines, creating new biofuels. Building the fuel efficient cars of tomorrow, not in Japan, not in South Korea, but right here in Missouri. Right here in the United States of America. (CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

When it comes to health care, we don't have to choose between a government-run health care system and the unaffordable one we have now. That's the old argument. Here's what we need to do. If you already have health insurance, the only thing I'm going to do is I'm going to work to lower your premiums. Because premiums have doubled since George Bush took office. Doubled.

Now, if you don't have health insurance, we're going to let you buy the same kind of health insurance that members of Congress give themselves. That's only fair. And as somebody who watched my mother on a hospital bed argue with insurance companies because they said her cancer was a pre-existing condition, that maybe they didn't have to pay for her treatment, I am going to make sure that insurance companies can't discriminate against people who are sick and need care the most. That's the change we need. That's why I'm running for president.


LEMON: All right. Barack Obama in Springfield, Missouri, holding a late-night rally there, talking about health care and other economic issues facing the American people. Before we were talking about Barack Obama, he is dealing with what some are calling an October surprise. Dealing with a surprise report tonight involving his aunt.

CNN has confirmed a report that Zeituni Onyango, his late father's sister is living in the United States illegally, four years after she was ordered to leave by an immigration judge. The woman Obama refers to as Auntie Zeituni in his book, "Dreams of My Father" lives in public housing in south Boston. The Obama campaign says the senator was unaware of his aunt's status, but that he believes the appropriate laws should be followed. A top McCain adviser had no comment on the report and called the issue, quote, "a family matter."

Candy Crowley standing by in Springfield, Missouri, where the senator is speaking now.

Candy, is the campaign talking about it? And if so, what are they saying?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Barack Obama was asked about it by one of the pool reporters. He ignored it. What the campaign has said in a statement is that he has no knowledge of this. And they kind of left it at that. At this late date, there are some Democrats out there wondering how it is that this information came just the weekend before the election.

But so far, from the Obama camp, it's pretty much ignoring it, other than the statement that the candidate knows nothing about it.

LEMON: All right. Candy Crowley, with a very loud and cheering crowd behind her. Thank you, Candy. I want to go to Ed Henry now. Ed is traveling with John McCain. What is the McCain campaign saying about this illegal aunt -- this aunt who's living here illegally?

HENRY: Well, as you noted, Mark Salter, a very senior adviser to John McCain was asked today about this, and he is the one who said on the record that this is a family matter. And essentially that the McCain camp was going to stay out of it.

I think, look, the last thing the Obama camp wants right now is any sort of a surprise. So, there's some peril here. But I think there's an important distinction from say the October surprise in 2000 when George W. Bush was discovered had an old drunk driving arrest. That was the candidate himself. While it was a long time ago, it was something that he had done.

In this case, there's no evidence at this point, and I stress at this point, that Barack Obama knew about this, covered it up or anything like that. So, it's not that he is in this country illegally, obviously, it's a relative. That is wrong, obviously. It needs to be dealt with as Barack Obama himself said in the statement. You have to follow the law, bottom line.

But at this point with no evidence that Barack Obama, you know, hid it or covered it up, I don't really see it turning this election.

LEMON: OK. That's a good question to go to Mark Preston about.

Mark, is this really a big deal? And what I really want to know is why wasn't this taken care of when Barack Obama first began his run for the presidency?

PRESTON: Well, let me take the first question, Don. I don't think this is going to be a big deal. From what we know right now, I mean, this was a part of his family that he didn't seem to have strong connections with. As far as why did this come out and how did the Obama campaign not know about this beforehand, I guess is a big question.

They're probably asking themselves that right now. Because whenever you are running for president, you really try to go into your personal closet and try to just clean everything out. So something like this does not happen. Perhaps we will find out maybe after the election. But this could have been an oversight on their part and that's probably what it was.

LEMON: All right, very interesting. And a question, too, Mark -- I mean, how far back do you go, you know, first cousin, second cousin, third cousin, aunt, when you're running for president? And I guess that's the question only someone running for president would have to deal with.

PRESTON: Yes. No question. Look, you go back as far as you can go back, because you don't want something like this to come up certainly a few days before the election. That could possibly torpedo your candidacy. LEMON: All right. The Best Political Team on Television, up late covering this election as it gets close to Election Day, which is just in three days. And there is a late-night rally, you see there, in Springfield, Missouri. Barack Obama drawing huge crowds. All of the candidates on the campaign trail today. Some of them out tonight. We will bring you every single detail in this race as it happens.

And of course, we'll see all of you. The rest of CNN's political team on Tuesday, election night, in America. Our coverage starts at 6:00 Eastern. One hour before the first polls close.

Well, we're going to talk about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan out on the campaign trail. Surprisingly, they're not the hot button topics the pundits thought they would be just one year ago. But they will be a big issue for the next president. And we're finding out that John McCain and Barack Obama are both right and both wrong. That's what's happening on the front lines. Michael Ware has covered both wars. He gives us the truth, straight ahead in the CNN NEWSROOM.

Also, we want to know what's on your mind tonight. Make sure you log on to Twitter, on to Facebook, MySpace or and tell us what you're thinking. We will get it on the air.


LEMON: The issues that matter to you in this historic election. We have been breaking down ten of them over ten days. Tonight, foreign policy, the next commander-in-chief will command a country that is still very much at war. Iraq and Afghanistan, two battle fronts, two battles that have captured our attention, fueled our debate and shed our blood for years now.

Barack Obama and John McCain. Two candidates, two very different war strategies. Let's bring in a man who has spent extensive time on the front lines in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is our Michael Ware.

Michael, let's start with Iraq. We've been talking about Iraq in the so-called surge. You say both Barack Obama and John McCain are right and wrong about Iraq. Explain yourself on that one.

MICHAEL WARE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right, Don. I mean, in one sense, one of the candidates makes what is by and large a fairly accurate assessment of the situation on the ground. But then makes a bizarre or erroneous conclusion, more politically based than one based on facts. The other candidate makes a conclusion without looking at the true assessment. Now, let me explain that.

Senator McCain has been by and large fairly close to the events and information in Iraq. And his assessment of the battlefront for the past few years has been very close to accurate. Where he's wrong is dressing this up as a win in the traditional sense. And where he's also wrong is plugging this thing that we now call the surge. Intellectually, it's almost the meaning to the senator. For him to be saying the surge is the miracle cure.

LEMON: Why do you say that?

WARE: Well, the surge is a political buzz word that people here in America do understand, but the successes, and let's deny it, there are successes in Iraq. That's uncategorical. But those successes have very little to do with the actual surge. The surge was sending 30,000 reinforcements to the capital of Baghdad. The events, the movements, the momentum has led to the fallen violence that we're now seeing. Only 13 dead Americans last month. Started two years ago. And had nothing to do with the troop reinforcements.

So, he's dumbing it down. Whereas Senator Obama is looking at domestic concerns. Let's get our kids home. Who doesn't want that? But what he's not telling anyone is what that's going to cost you. And how he's going to pay for it.

LEMON: You know -- and Michael, good points here. But I also want to talk about Afghanistan, because we have seen the fighting there build up. So if more allied troops are dying in Afghanistan than Iraq, why aren't we hearing more about Afghanistan, Michael?

WARE: Well, Afghanistan in terms of the war is the redheaded stepchild. I mean, it's the one that has been long forgotten. But I mean, I lived in Afghanistan for a year after September 11th. I spent most of my time in Kandahar at one point, being one of the only westerners living in the city. That's the home of the Taliban.

Now, in 2002, the Taliban would take me across the Pakistani border into Pakistan, to their training camps, their madrasas, their schools. It was clear evidence then that the Taliban were resurging. We're, now, what, six years later and people are suddenly waking up as though it was a shock.

Now, the next president, both are promising, we'll deal with al-Qaeda, we'll deal with the Taliban. Well, sending more troops there ain't going to do it, because that border, that terrain, mountains, it's the end of the Himalayas, swallows infantry divisions whole.

The real key, and no one's talking about this is the Pakistani intelligence agency, Islamabad's version of the CIA. They're the ones who have been helping al Qaeda, helping the Taliban, certainly elements of them, and that's the key to defeating them. And no candidate has even mentioned their names.

LEMON: CNN's Michael Ware has been on the front lines in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Michael, you're very passionate about it. And we appreciate you coming in here.

WARE: Yes.

LEMON: On a Saturday night.

WARE: Yes. I'd say I'd love being here on a Saturday night, but I don't lie.

LEMON: OK. Michael Ware, thank you. Again, we appreciate it, sir. We want to know what's on your mind tonight. Make sure you log on to us and reach out to us -- Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, and tell us what you're thinking. Of course, we will get some of that on the air.

We want to talk also about breaking records coast to coast.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I didn't even expect the turnout to be like this. But everyone is surprised. Everyone is excited.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I got here about 7:30. And found a parking place. Never thinking it would be this long a line.


LEMON: So if you haven't voted yet, you better listen up, because there could be some surprises. Early voters proved no weather is too bad and no line is too long.


LEMON: You know, technology is amazing these days. See this little camera? I carry it literally everywhere I go. We call it here in the CNN NEWSROOM Don Cam. And I was out earlier today with Don Cam asking people what they're thinking about the election with only three days out. Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've early voted and I am glad that's over. I'll be glad when the commercials are over. And I'll be glad when it's over, whoever wins.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think we're bombarded with all the McCain and Obama and all their advertisements constantly. That's all you see. It's constant. It's (INAUDIBLE). Everybody's already made their choices. And we're going to vote.


LEMON: We're going to vote, she says. Well, we're talking two, sometimes three hours to wait. One place here in Georgia, eight hours to cast your vote. And of course, in those battleground states, it's very busy as well. In Florida, no major issues or hiccups in the early voting process aside from those long lines. Well, you can bet all eyes will be there on Tuesday in Florida.

In Ohio, Ohio's top Democrats called on the County Board of Elections to extend early voting here at Veterans Memorial Auditorium where lines snaked out the door and around the building. Republicans argued the hours where early voting -- where early voting were set weeks ago and should not be changed now.

And in North Carolina, just to put things in perspective, in 2004, a total of 3.5 million people voted in the general election. As of today, over 2.5 million people have voted early.

All right. So we want to know what is on your mind here. Here's some of your comments.

Bill -- BillBilano -- BillBilano, "I have just one thing to say -- vote. Don't mess around. Don't forget."

ManhattanBound, "The electricity surrounding this election is palpable. The American people are about to set an en masse or intended direction. A certain en masse or intended direction."

And Nikki -- Nikkiazz2fat, these names are crazy. "Obama doesn't have to answer for any estranged aunt's immigration status. This is a non- issue pushed for ratings. Absurd."

ProudNYer, "There's not a lot of information about Obama's aunt. I don't think it will be a problem."

Shulmda, "Please let college students know that they can vote at college. The Supreme Court guarantees it."

Hellataz -- where do you guys get these names? "Anyone who thinks a campaign, the McCain campaign has nothing to do with this aunt story is blind."

And Skimmth94, "My high school had an election and Obama won by 34 votes out of 800. This will be a close race."

Daniel Evans, "Very suspicious timing. I would like CNN to find out who leaked this information."

Make sure you log on to Twitter, on Facebook, MySpace or and tell me what you're thinking. We will read some of them just as soon as you send them in.

And if you have trouble at the polls, we want you to call us. We have a CNN voter hotline for you. Help us track the problems and we'll report the trouble in real time for you. Here's the number. It's 1- 877 -- right there on the bottom of your screen -- 1-877-462-6608. 877-462-6608. As of today, CNN has reached more than 21 -- received more than 21,000 calls into that hotline.

The ugly side of politics --


DR. CORNEL WEST, PROFESSOR, AUTHOR, LECTURER: Scare tactic, scapegoating, the only people that aliens, stranger, un-American and so forth. Those are lethal. You bring those together, you can snuff out your democracy.


LEMON: Snuffing out democracy? Is he serious? I talked to the always outspoken Dr. Cornel West.


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: And we are in the final rounds of the fight for the White House. A fight that's gotten pretty cut throat in just the last few months. I talked with Dr. Cornel West at Princeton University a few weeks ago. We talked about quite a bit, including his thoughts on what threatens American democracy.


DR. CORNEL WEST, PROFESSOR, AUTHOR, LECTURER: We've seen greed running amok, especially at the top. We've seen indifference, and indifference is the one trait that makes the very angels weak to turn away from people who are suffering. And then the politics of fears. Scare tactic, the scapegoating. The only people as aliens, stranger, un-American and so forth. Those are lethal. You bring those together, you can snuff out your democracy.

LEMON: But some people will say, though, doctor, that this has always been going on. But does it feel worse to you now than at any other time?

WEST: Well, the difference is, my brother, we've got two wars. The wars have been rendered invisible. The Bush administration won't even allow us to see the bodies in the coffins. But they just -- those bodies are just as precious as any other bodies in the world. And we've got near depression. And we've got race surfacing. We know, race, of course, is the most explosive issue in the country. So we're at a turning point.

LEMON: Who's to blame for that, though? I mean, the Democrats are blaming the Republicans. The Republicans are saying it's deregulation. It started with Clinton and all of this. Are we all to blame? Who's to blame? If we're going to lay blame somewhere, whose shoulders does it fall on?

WEST: Well, I think there's degrees and gradations of blame. Certainly all of us are in some sense responsible, because during this political ice age, we didn't have enough people speaking the truth. We talked about greed. They said quit whining. We talked about 20 percent of our children living in poverty. They said why are you (INAUDIBLE) in the nice side and not the best side.

But most of the blame has to do with the corporate elites and the financial elites at the top who have been hemorrhaging the wealth. So they get billions and billions of dollars that has been made. But worker's wages are staggering and you know the dilapidated housing and the digressional school system in cities.

LEMON: But you're not just talking about people in Wall Street. Are you talking about in highest levels of government as well?

WEST: Well, government -- the political elites have been beholding to the corporate and the financial elites. That's the corporate influence in Washington. On the other hand, the people have been sleep walking. So, all of us have to take responsibility. We've been too conformist, too complacent and too cowardly. We didn't want to speak up against the grain.

LEMON: I'm glad you're reaching that conformity. But you know, there are people who now, if you said what you said just now to me, on the campaign trail -- if people who are watching this are going to say, he's un-American.

WEST: And I would say, I am anti-injustice in America. And I'm proud of it. I'm anti-injustice if I was in Ethiopia. I'm anti- injustice if I was in Russia. Anywhere I am, I'm anti-injustice. So, if to speak out against anti-injustice in America makes me anti- American, they can call me anything they want, because I'm a Christian. So my allegiance is to the cross, first and foremost. Anyway, flag comes second.

But on the other hand, the best of America, Martin Luther King Jr., Fannie Lou Hamer, white Sisters like Lydia Marie Child, or Brown Brothers like Cesar Chavez, that's the best of America. They were, what, anti-injustice in America. That to me makes them very American, but it's the best. But all of us feel more proud when we see Martin Luther King Jr. as opposed to George Wallace. That's white brothers and sisters. They human like anybody else. They know Martin King has a depth of spirituality and the level of maturity that George Wallace just didn't have. We got nothing against George as a human being. He is spiritually underdeveloped. He suffered from moral constipation. He couldn't get the good out of his soul most of his life. God bless and be with him on his path.


LEMON: Part of my conversation with Dr. Cornel West. We're following the very latest for you here out on the campaign trail. Barack Obama speaking this evening at a late night rally in Springfield, Missouri. And also, John McCain out on the campaign trail today as well. Let's talk now about tested by an international crisis. Those words have sparked all kinds of reaction on the campaign trail. Next, our iReporters, they weigh in. They are live.


LEMON: OK, we want to make this show as interactive as possible for the viewer and also for our iReporters as well, who really help us out around here. Joining us now, our iReporters, you see them live up here on the screen. First up, Derrick, who is in Spokane, Washington. He is a Barack Obama supporter. Katie is in Ohio, a battleground state. She's a John McCain supporter. And Jason is in Colorado.

And we're going to go to an interview with Wolf Blitzer in a little bit from John McCain. Who do you think is better on foreign policy? Do you think it's John McCain or Barack Obama, iReporters?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I say Barack Obama.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: John McCain. LEMON: OK, John McCain. Even the Barack Obama supporter said John McCain. OK. So, Joe Biden has said Barack Obama, right, would be intentionally tested by an international crisis after he was elected president. While the comments sparked a flurry of controversy out on the campaign trail. Our wolf Blitzer asked John McCain what his chances of trial by fire is if he got the job. Take a listen to it.


WOLF BLITZER, HOST, THE SITUATION ROOM: Do you believe America's enemies, whether terrorists or hostile governments, would test you during the first six months of your presidency?

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I've already been tested. And I'm astonished and amazed to hear Senator Obama -- Senator Biden predict that the untried, untested President Obama will be tested by our enemies, and we may not agree, his own backers may not agree.

Look, I've been tested. Senator Biden referred to the Cuban missile crisis. I was there. We came that close, as historians say, to a nuclear exchange. And Senator Biden expects his own running mate, expects Senator Obama to be tested in that way? That's a remarkable statement.


LEMON: All right. Our iReporters are standing by. They are listening here. Those strong words from John McCain. We'll hear from Barack Obama in just a little bit.

We just heard Wolf Blitzer's conversation on foreign policy with John McCain. Wolf Blitzer discussed some of the same topics with Barack Obama. As a matter of fact, we want to play that now for you. Including Obama's approach to Afghanistan. Listen.


BLITZER: If you're elected president, would you support direct talks with the Taliban in Afghanistan?

OBAMA: You know, I know that General Petraeus has discussed the possibility of trying to peel away more moderate factions within the Taliban. And I think that talking to our commanders on the ground and based on sound intelligence, if we can peel off some support from the hard-core militants that are aligned with al-Qaeda, that would be beneficial. I don't think that we necessarily are the best intermediary in that kind of discussion. And I would want to see some proof, some evidence, that in fact there are aspects of the Taliban that are susceptible to reasonable dialog. But I --

BLITZER: Because as you know, this is the group that gave aid and comfort to al-Qaeda.

OBAMA: Well, and that's exactly my point. My general attitude is that we have to snuff out al-Qaeda. We have to capture or kill Bin Laden. And in order for us to do that, we're going to have to have cooperation from Afghans and Pakistanis. But you know, it may get murky in terms of who our potential allies, who our enemies in that situation.


LEMON: OK. Our iReporters are standing by. We wanted to spend more time with you guys but we had Barack Obama live at the top.

I want to ask, Katie, since you are a John McCain supporter -- Katie, real quick, Joe Biden saying that Barack Obama would be tested. Does that concern you? Why?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's our major concern. We don't need another September 11th. And that's what it will become.

LEMON: The two Obama supporters, you're not concerned about it, right?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, not a concern for me at all.

LEMON: All right. Thank you, guys. Our iReporters listening in, watching our newscast, talking to me during the break. Now, that's what we call live feedback in real time right there.

We want to hear from you, too. What's on your mind? Make sure you log on to Twitter, the Facebook, MySpace or, and tell us what you're thinking. We'll get it on for you right here in the CNN NEWSROOM.

And no matter who wins the White House, you know, they are going to have to work with Congress. What is at stake in the balance of power?


LEMON: We know it is one of the most controversial issues on the November 4th ballot. People in California will vote on Proposition 8. It is a ban on gay marriage in that state. The controversy got people fired up on both sides.

Well, thousands gathered at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego for a prayer vigil hoping voters keep the institution of marriage between a man and a woman.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Marriage is a sacred institution that's designed for a man and a woman.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As California goes, so goes the nation. And if we're not going after the heart of God for this nation, then California could be a leading cause of that. So, that's why we're focused here.


LEMON: Protesters are picketing, chanting, and they are honking for people to vote no on Prop 8. Celebrities like Barbra Streisand, George Lucas, Steven Spielberg and Ellen DeGeneres have joined in. The vote comes just five months after California Supreme Court sanctioned gay marriage in that state, paving the way for thousands of same-sex wedding. And we'll watch the outcome on Tuesday and bring you the results as well. The Best Political Team on Television.

Speaking of the Best Political Team on Television, our Mark Preston joins us. Talk about this presidential race that has stolen the spotlight. But really, the battle of the control of Congress, Mark, that has a huge impact on whoever wins this White House, correct?

MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: Yes, absolutely, Don. Look, it comes down to this. It comes down to a filibuster proof majority in the Senate. Will Democrats achieve it? Right now they control the chamber, 51 to 49. They would need to pick up nine seats, Don. Right now, I am watching 11 Republican-held seats that Democrats are gunning for. There's only one Democratic seat that is up for grabs, so to speak.

LEMON: Yes. So the balance of power, and that's a filibuster- proof Senate. That's a concern here. And a filibuster-proof Congress as well. Am I correct in that?

PRESTON: Yes, absolutely. Look, if John McCain is elected president and Democrats get a filibuster-proof Senate, it will block all legislation. For Barack Obama, it would create a huge expectations gain if Democrats...


PRESTON: ...if he were to win the White House and Democrats were to control the Senate with 60 votes.

LEMON: I just wanted to clarify that, Mark, because when you're speaking about the balance of power, that's a concern for many people as well. Mark, what are the four key states that you're watching? What are they?

PRESTON: Yes. Four out of the 11. In Alaska right now, Ted Stevens convicted, so obviously that's a seat that we are watching very, very closely. That seat is up for grabs. We're looking right now at Georgia. Barack Obama is running ads in that state. Could there be coattails?

We're looking in Minnesota right now. Al Franken from "Saturday Night Live" is running against Norm Coleman. Very close contest there. Also ads that are bleeding into that state from North Dakota. And closing it out with North Carolina, a very divisive race that we've seen in the last three days.

LEMON: Mark Preston, we appreciate you. Thank you so much, sir. You have a good night, OK? PRESTON: Thanks, Don. It is the final stretch. And we can't talk politics without talking weather. Our Jacqui Jeras is in the weather center with your Election Day forecast.

Will it be rainy, snowy, sunny, cold, hot? She'll tell you.



LEMON: All right. We've been telling you about Don Cam. I was at an event for "Ebony" magazine earlier this week right here in Atlanta, and check out what celebrity chef G. Garvin says about long lines at the polls. Check it out.


G. GARVIN, CELEBRITY CHEF: You know, I think that this election is absolutely the greatest thing in history of my life, and my mother's life, and in the lives of my kids. The fact that the lines are long is a wonderful time.


LEMON: Celebrity Chef G. Garvin. All right. Well, no matter what year, no matter what election, you can always count on one issue to crop up no matter what, no matter what -- the weather.

Well, this is what it looks like already. It's an issue in places and that is Los Angeles, KTLA.

Jacqui Jeras, is this a sign of things to come on Election Day, as you look at that rainy video, with people are still standing in line.

JACQUI JERAS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: I know, isn't that great?

LEMON: Yes, it is. But what about the cold? I wouldn't want to stand in the cold.

JERAS: You know what, I'll tell you that I was just reading a study from the Journal of Politics that was published last year. They say the cold doesn't have any impact on whether or not people are going to come out to the polls, but the rain and the snow does. We're going to talk about a little bit more about that.

LEMON: They didn't poll me, Jacqui.

JERAS: Pardon me.

LEMON: They didn't poll me because I don't like the cold.


LEMON: Oh, I know the answer, I think. OK, I won't go there. But just so you know, I early voted, so --

JERAS: Oh good.

LEMON: Yes. I like that term, early voting.

JERAS: That's what I'm hoping. Everybody does that, and then I can just breeze on through.

LEMON: Yes. I didn't have to wear a jacket that day, Jacqui. Thank you.

Pre-election anxieties gripping the African-American community.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 100 percent. I definitely feel like that kid on Christmas, that's waiting. I'm waking up at 5:00 in the morning to vote.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's nerve-racking, but it's not because I think we're going to lose. It's because I'm afraid of that one little thing that may mess it up at the last minute.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Election night, I think I'm going to turn the TV off.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am going to turn the TV off.


LEMON: That's our Lola Ogunnaike. She is going to join us and talk about an emotional moment in history.


LEMON: It's just three days away and in five minutes. In some places, it's just two days away. The nation may elect its first African-American president. It may elect it. And that's a possibility. And it is creating a roller coaster of emotion, especially among African-Americans. Our Lola Ogunnaike joins us from Washington.

Lola, you spoke to members of the African-American community, and let's listen to what they had to say first and then we can talk about it, OK?



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 100 percent. I definitely feel like that kid on Christmas, that's waiting. I'm waking up at 5:00 in the morning to vote.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's nerve-racking, but it's not because I think we're going to lose. It's because I'm afraid of that one little thing that may mess it up at the last minute.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Election night, I think I'm going to turn the TV off.

OGUNNAIKE: Really? What?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am going to turn the TV off. I think the emotions are going to be just too much.

OGUNNAIKE: You wake up November 5th, guys, and he has not won. You didn't even let me finish and you started shaking your head.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it would just be devastating. I lost the words right now even thinking about it. Like give back reality back to me, like wow. I haven't even said anything. I'm like, don't say it, because you're going to jinx it.


LEMON: OK, Lola, we -- you know, just a lot of emotion here. And you can understand it, considering the history of our nation. Let's just be honest on -- that a black person is in this position is really emotional for folks.

OGUNNAIKE: Oh, it's extremely emotional. And as you saw on that piece, there were a range of feelings. Some people were elated. Some people are filled with so much anxiety. They can't even speak about how they're feeling. Some people are angry because they think the campaign has gone too negative against Barack. And they're very pro- Barack. Some people are waited with baited breath and they're so excited because they really believe that this could happen in their lifetime -- something they didn't think could ever happen in their lifetime. And they're just tremendously excited. So there's no one rain. There's no one emotion, here.

LEMON: Yes. And, you know, we say African-Americans are emotionally invested, but also it's not just African-American, people of all races I'm hearing from.

OK, Lola, hey, we have to go. We could have this conversation for much longer, but we have to go.

OGUNNAIKE: OK. Next time.

LEMON: All right.

OGUNNAIKE: More talk next time.

LEMON: Yes. But you're going to be back tomorrow. We're going to talk more issues. Lola Ogunnaike, we appreciate you joining us.

OGUNNAIKE: Thank you.

LEMON: All right, guys. Are we going to break or we're leaving, guys? All right, we'll be back.


LEMON: You know what, standard time comes back tonight and you see that big clock over my shoulder, it's because you have to set your clock back one hour before you go to bed tonight. I'm Don Lemon here in the CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta in our atrium. I'll see you back here tomorrow night, 6:00 p.m. and 11:00 Eastern. Thanks for joining us and spending time with us tonight. Have a good one.