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Roland Martin: Seven Weeks to Election Day

Aired September 14, 2008 - 20:00   ET


ROLAND MARTIN, CNN ANCHOR: Now, explain to me, why do we have a country where folks walking around talking about Dr. King, Dr. King, Dr. Martin Luther King said the content of our character. Really? Are you going to vote against John McCain because he is 72? Why? You don't like an old white guy? Are you going to vote against Barack Obama because he is black and he's young? You don't like a young black guy? Are you going to vote against Sarah Palin because she's a woman? You don't like a 44 year old white woman? You don't like Joe Biden because he is a 65 year old white guy? Why are we hung up on age, gender and race?
With seven weeks to go, the election is almost over. Let's be clear about tonight's show, if you want Republican and Democratic talking points, you might as well turn the channel. This is about being real, being clear and raising the issues everyone else ignores.

Take voting. All of us media types will vote. Let's not pretend we haven't made a decision about McCain and Obama. My first vote for president was in 1988. I was 18 and it went to George H.W. Bush. He's a Texan. I'm a Texan. But I felt he was a stronger leader than Michael Dukakis. When Anne Richards first ran for Texas governor, the Democrat got my vote. When Governor George W. Bush ran for a second term, the Republican got my vote.

My choice for president this year is Senator Barack Obama. Why? Because he is simply better for this country and the world. I base my vote on the issues that matter most to me. A lot of you will do the same. There others who will walk into the voting booth on November 4th and vote for or against the candidates because of race, age, and gender. That's called reality, whether you admit it or not.

Here's what some New Yorkers have to say.


MARTIN: How are you doing? I have a couple of questions about the election. Real painless. Do you mind answering them?

It's not painful.

I asked a question and I want you to be really honest. Who is actually going to make a decision -- be honest -- on the candidates based upon their age, race, or gender.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not me. Definitely not me.

MARTIN: Really? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have been involved in politics for a long time. I've followed politics for a long time. I don't believe that plays a role in the election for me.

MARTIN: For you?


MARTIN: You have thought about it for a second there? for Barack Obama, he's an African-American. Vote for him based on that. John McCain, 72 years old, some folks say, I think he is too old. Or some people say I like wisdom, somebody who is older. Or they say Sarah Palin, she is a woman. I like the fact that she is a woman. Is that a factor in anybody's decision making?



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What are upset me is the fact that people assume because Sarah Palin is a woman that woman will automatically vote for her.

MARTIN: Real people be honest about this? We do exit polls and they say, sure, I will vote for somebody who is black or I'll vote for a woman, or I'll vote for somebody who is 72. When they go to the voting booth, all bets off. That's when the truth comes out. What do you think?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's absolutely the case. I think very rarely do people really want to say what they feel, if it's not politically correct.

MARTIN: Are you afraid that people's biases could very well determine who is sitting in the White House?




MARTIN: All right, that's what some New Yorkers had to say. What is the rest of the country thinking? Joining us are three radio talk show hosts with their fingers on the national pulse; Joe Madison, who hosts programs on WOLAM in Washington, D.C. and on Sirius XM satellite radio. Martha Zoller, host of "The Martha Zoller Show" on WDUN in Gainesville, Georgia. And in San Antonio, Joe Pagliarulo, morning show host at KTRH in Houston and afternoon host at WOAI in San Antonio, by satellite, because he wanted to wind surf with Hurricane Ike.

Now, Martha, three weeks ago the big was age and race. Throw in Governor Sarah Palin, all of a sudden, sex is now back in the game. It was with Hillary Clinton. Now Palin has to confront it. What are your calls saying about the issue of Palin and sex in this race. MARTHA ZOLLER, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Gender is the new race. That's what it is. It's the issue that has replaced everything. I have to tell you, my callers, who are very conservative, love this woman. This is the woman that they think is going to be the new face of the Republican party. She allows John McCain to be John McCain, because she is very conservative.


JOE MADISON, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Gender is not the new race. Gender is gender. Race is race. Wait -- but it's not the new race. Look, race is an issue when it comes to Obama. Gender is an issue when it comes to Palin. Age is an issue when it comes to McCain. If McCain was an old white woman, who was black -- or mixed, then it would be age, race and gender.


JOE PAGLIARULO, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I got to jump in here and tell you this, saying that gender is the new race is not some sort of cut down joke. Calm down. Roland, I'm glad to hear you voted for H.W. Bush back in 1988. Something happened between then and now. We'll talk --


MADISON: There's something arrogant about him telling me to calm down when I'm not even sweating.


PAGLIARULO: Here's the thing. I'm in Houston, a market of four million people. I'm in San Antonio, a market of 1.6 million people. Whether you like it or not, the new issue, however Joe wants to take it, or a gender or race or whatever -- the new issue is gender because of Sarah Palin. That's the bottom line. That's true.

Martha, you are right. Republicans right now are energized. Conservatives are energized, but so are women who are predominantly going to vote for Hillary Clinton. Those women who were going to vote for Hillary Clinton now say --

MARTIN: Here was an ad the McCain campaign ran that dealt with this issue. Let's take a look at it here.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was the world's biggest celebrity, but his star is fading. So they lashed out at Sarah Palin, dismissed her as good-looking. That backfired. So they said she was doing what she was told. Then desperately called Sarah Palin a liar. How disrespectful. And how Governor Sarah Palin proves them wrong every day.


MARTIN: What is he trying to say against Obama with that ad, Martha?

ZOLLER: He is saying that now everyone is talking about Sarah Palin. That's what he's saying. What has happened here is because the Democrats -- wait a minute. Because the Democrats didn't handle their sexism issue very well, with Hillary Clinton, it put the ball in the Republican's court. There would be no Sarah Palin if Barack Obama had chosen Hillary Clinton.

MARTIN: Basically, you're -- Joe, when you hear that, does that mean McCain is simply playing for the female vote?

ZOLLER: It's part of it.

MADISON: I totally agree, absolutely. That was part of the decision. Don't think they didn't do focus groups and recognize that they could peel off. Nobody said there is anything wrong with it. It's smart politics. I don't have a problem with it whatsoever. But I'm not going to go into the polls and vote for Obama simply because he is black.

MARTIN: I want you to hold that point right there. Joe Pas, I have something to play right now that, trust me, I need your perspective on it. Let's see it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Honestly, I'm an old southern born. I don't know if I can see a black man making the change. The only black man I have ever seen with change had a cup in his hand.


MARTIN: Now Joey, I know Martin's not happy because that guy is from Georgia. Look, there are people like him who are going to be choosing the next president of the United States.

PAGLIARULO: There people like him who get to vote, Roland. You're absolutely right. There are people like him who are going to go behind that curtain, close the curtain and say, black man is this to me, white woman is this to me, old man is that to me. Those prejudices are, in fact, going to play a big role in this campaign. Thank God we are actually having a discussion about it, because most people are afraid to have that discussion.

Is that guy indicative of people from Georgia? I hope not. Is that guy indicative of me because I'm a white dude? No, he's not. But there are people who have those prejudices. The bottom line is these three issues that you're bringing up tonight very wisely are going to play a huge role. Am I going to defend that guy? Of course not.


MADISON: I'm also going to remind them Reverend Wright isn't indicative of every black man. MARTIN: Martha, what do you tell your caller who call up? Do they call with that kind of comment? What do you say to somebody who says, I'm not voting for somebody because they are black? What do you tell them?

ZOLLER: I tell them that's the wrong thing to do. I tell them that's the wrong thing to do. But there are 22 percent of black folks that say they are voting for Barack Obama only because he is black.

MADISON: When are they call my show, I tell them that's not the reason to vote for Barack Obama.

MARTIN: Joey Pas, I have to go. I'm sorry I can't go to you. Hold tight one second, folks. When we come back, we add to our panel a psychology who says forget the issues. People vote with emotions. What does that mean for the candidates when race, sex and age, are the real, unspoken issues of the campaign in 2008?


MARTIN: If you still believe elections are decided on the issues, you might need your head examined. In his book, "The Political Brain," psychologist Drew Westen claims most people actually vote with their heart, not their head. And with Race, age and gender dominating this discussion, not the Economy, not the war and not immigration, Lou Dobbs, this is shaping up as the most emotional election ever.

What does that mean for the candidates? Drew Westen joins us from Atlanta. Drew, Rick Davis, McCain's manager let this out of the bag when he said issue won't matter, personality will.

DREW WESTEN, PSYCHOLOGIST: I Have a feeling he probably just read my book.

MARTIN: Certainly sounds like that. All of a sudden, you have Governor Sarah Palin energizing the Republican party. You have Senator Barack Obama with his change message driving young voters. What does it say that people are gravitating to people because of who they are and how they look, versus what they are saying?

WESTEN: Roland, I think you can't really understand what's happening in this election about age and gender, and especially gender and race, without distinguishing between what people feel consciously and what they feel unconsciously. The fact that most of us have some conflict about both race and gender.

MARTIN: I have to ask you, Drew, real quick, if they are going to vote with their gut, who gets hurt the most?

WESTEN: Clearly, a black person is going to get hurt most. It's not so much about the kind of -- you saw that clip of that very conscious racism from, unfortunately, my state of Georgia. But that's not actually the racism that hurts Barack Obama the most. The racism that hurts him is the fact that even people who don't think of themselves as prejudice, which is actually most white people -- using the example of white people here -- most white people, when they think of their -- if they live in the suburbs, their primary associations to black people, particularly to black men, is on the evening news. They see them hauled off after being --

MARTIN: Basically, you are saying Obama is unfamiliar to them?

WESTEN: He's unfamiliar and he's associated with something other than me, other than my values and with all that stuff that's going on in the hood.

MARTIN: Drew, hold tight one second. I have my radio panel here. They're familiar with this here. I will go to the phone lines. We've got a caller. Let's go to a battle ground state. Mark in Wheeler, Michigan. Mark, what do you have to say about age, race and gender?

CALLER: Hi Roland, as a white guy and proud a union member of the Utility Workers of America, a really feel that a lot of guys are going to be closet Obama supporters. When they get confronted by pollsters and co-workers in the break room, they won't admit to wanting to vote for Obama. But I guarantee you, they when they get in that booth, they will pull the lever for Obama. And it will be issues and not race.

MARTIN: That's pretty interesting. Joey, what are about that? We have been getting union people, a guy in Denver, hey, I'm trying to convince my fellow union brother who are white to support the Democrat, Obama. He is saying they're saying I won't, but they will?

PAGLIARULO: I couldn't disagree with him more. I live in Michigan for nine years and worked in Michigan at three different television and radio markets. It's just not the case. If there is going to be any sort of a discriminatory thought behind anybody when they close that curtain, white America, like Drew said, probably won't vote for a black guy. I want to say this very quickly, they're not going to vote for this black guy. When Jackie Robinson broke through to Major League Baseball, Brance Rickie (ph) took a chance. He took a chance on a exemplary person. I don't think Barack Obama is that exemplary person.

MARTIN: Joe, Joe, Joe.

PAGLIARULO: If he were a better candidate for the job, I think he would have a much better chance. If you are going to breakthrough that ceiling -- you want to be real here or you want talk about something else? If he's going to break that black ceiling, and the way you're going to do that is getting an exemplary person who's going to break through that glass ceiling. He's not the guy.

MARTIN: You know what, Joe? I recall them saying that about Reverend Jesse Jackson. Joe Madison, when you hear that, that he is not the black they would vote for -- we hear the same thing about Hillary Clinton. She is not the woman I would vote for.

MADISON: First of all, I just had the president of American Federation of Federal, State, and County Employees on. You have a group of labor leaders who are traveling the country, trying to offset what they think will be labor guys who won't vote for Obama, despite the issue of the economy, because he is black.

Secondly, I'm just amazed that we are talking about the most powerful man, not in the United States, but in the free world. He uses a Jackie Robinson baseball analogy?

PAGLIARULO: It's a great comparison.

MARTIN: I want to go to the phone lines. We've got another phone call. Linda from Connecticut. Linda, what do you have to say about age, race, and gender?

CALLER: First of all, I'm a white, catholic, blue collar 54- year-old mom who shops at Wal-Mart. I am sick and disgusted of being pegged as a McCain-Palin supporter. I have a brain. I am voting on the issues. And by the way, I grew up in Michigan and my brother is a labor negotiator for General Motors. He has 3,000 people in his local. They will follow him to the ends of the Earth. And they're all vote are for Obama. They are not stupid either.


ZOLLER: If we are going talk about making a choice, this is what we're talking about here. This lady believes that if you support McCain-Palin, you are stupid? Isn't that just what -- that's exactly what she said.

MARTIN: Whenever we hear the phrase soccer moms, Wal-Mart moms, nobody is thinking of somebody who is black. Right Drew? They're thinking of white suburban women, right? Right Drew?

WESTEN: That's right. Palin fits the bill as perfectly as you can fit, in the sense that she captures both the warmth and the strength. The warmth that we associate with motherhood and the strength that we want in a leader. That's why she was a perfect choice, in some ways.

MARTIN: Folks, we are out of time in this segment. I am so sorry. I want to thank Martha Zoller. I want to thank Joe Madison. Joey Pags, thank you for hanging out in windy Houston, Texas. And also Drew Westen, thank you so very much folks. I enjoyed it.

When we come back, fit to lead. How the two candidates stack up mentally and physically.


MARTIN: Race and gender may be the hot button issues in this year's presidential campaign, but if John McCain is elected, he will be the oldest first term president ever. And that makes age the third wild card in this historic race. Does that also make McCain's occasional senior moments a legitimate campaign issue?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We continual to be concerned about Iranian taking al Qaeda into Iran, training them and sending them back.

I'm sorry, the Iranians are training extremists, not al Qaeda. I'm sorry.

I'm a provide conservative liberal Republican -- conservative Republican. Hello. Easy there.

I am older than dirt, more scars than Frankenstein.

MARTIN (voice-over): At 72, John McCain has no choice but to joke about his slip ups on the campaign trail. But he's not the only one having senior moments on the stop.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Let me introduce to you the next president -- the next vice president of the United States of America, Joe Biden!

Over the last 15 months we travelled to every corner of the United States. I have been in 57 states. I think one left to go.

MARTIN: Still, John McCain is a full 25 years older than his opponent. He was a heavy smoker years ago and has a history of melanoma. McCain is quick to point out that his mother is 96, but his dad died at 70, two years younger than McCain is today.

At 47, Barack Obama is one of the youngest candidates for president. His doctors say he's in excellent health, but he does have one medical factor. He always has a history of smoking, but says he has quit for the campaign.


MARTIN: Joining me now, CNN's chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Sanjay, got to ask you. Two thirds of our presidents have died before their life expectancy. The average age for men is 75. Is that a concern or should it be a concern for voters with John McCain?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I think age is always going to be an issue, Roland, no question about that. Either too old or too young. Keep in mind, the last six presidents, either are still living or lived longer than life expectancy. Some of those numbers certainly have changed overtime.

You have to keep in mind, you have to take each individual on an individual basis. So you can make broad, sweeping generalizations, but you look at somebody who is 72 years old, you look at their health history over all, you look at their genetics -- you pointed out the age of his mother. She's still in good health, both mentally and physically. His own doctor, who has examined Senator McCain, says, look, this is someone who seems to be doing well on all sorts of different levels.

MARTIN: What about the issue of his history with melanoma?

GUPTA: With regards to melanoma, this is, no question, the most serious part of his health history. I was one of a group of reporters who got to look at his medical records. In 2000, he had a very serious melanoma. It was what's called a grade Two-A. The number doesn't matter, but it was a deep, invasive melanoma. But it was removed. What we know about that is the recurrence rate is 66 percent at 10 years, and that was eight years ago. He gets lots of frequent checks. He is at high risk of having another melanoma, but he seems to be staying on top of it.

MARTIN: Folks don't focus on Senator Obama's health, because just say he's 47. But look, his mom died of ovarian and uterine cancer at 52. He also was a smoker for quite some time. What about his health?

GUPTA: It was interesting, when we looked at Senator McCain's health, they gave us over 1,000 pages of medical records to look at. When they gave Senator Obama's health history, it was basically a paragraph. They didn't give us much. So we don't know a lot about him. With regards to the ovarian cancer, we are pretty convinced that ovarian cancer in a mother does not seem to increase cancer risk in her son. That doesn't seem to be a big factor here.

Smoking is always a factor. Even if you quit, it's something that doctors are going to think about. There are some stats on how effective quitting can be. You quit for three months, your lung function starts to improve. For a few years, you start to decrease your risk of cancer and heart disease. He is always going to be slightly at more risk than someone who was never a smoker. Given that he's quit, it is obviously much better off.

MARTIN: Look, I think we will all be watching this to see who is stronger when it comes to the health. The bottom line is, they're still going strong right now. Sanjay, we certainly appreciate it. Thanks a lot.

GUPTA: Good evening, Roland. Thanks.

MARTIN: All right, folks. For more on the medical histories of Senators Obama and McCain, tune into Sanjay's special investigation unit hour, "Fit to Lead," October 11th at 8:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. Eastern on CNN.

Is it a sin to be a racist? With seven weeks to go, the answer to that question may decide who is elected president. Coming up, men and women of faith and everyday voters sound off on bias in the voting booth.



MARTIN: How stupid are some people? Yes, I said stupid. And yes, we need to stop playing around. There are some Americans who are stupid, who are dumb, who are illiterate, who, frankly, have no business voting because of their sheer ignorance. Why is it people are so stuck on their biases?

You can't even give somebody a fair chance at the voting booth because of their age, race or gender?


MARTIN: In the Bible, Christ says "Love your neighbor as yourself." You guys remember that one, right? Sounds to me like an endorsement for love and not hate. When it comes to politics, why does it feel that bigotry alive and well, and coming to a voting booth near you? As we heard earlier, race, age, and gender are the issues that could decide this election. To what degree will bigotry shape our vote? And is it a sin? I took to the streets to see what folks have to say.


MARTIN: Is bigotry a sin? Voting against somebody because of that bias, age, race, gender?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't think consider it to be a sin, but I consider it to be incorrect.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Same way. It doesn't fit in with greed, sloth and the other seven major sins in the world. But it's a misperception on their part.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That type of bigotry, yes, I would consider it a sin, because I don't care what race you are, what religion you are, whether you're Muslim or whether Christian, whether you're Jewish, it doesn't matter. We are not supposed to be biased.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't think there is any room for bigotry. So yes, I do believe it's a sin. I think a lot of people I know are bigots.


MARTIN: Joining me now to discuss what role bigotry may play in November is Irsahd Manji, author of "The Trouble with Islam Today," and director of Moral Courage Project at NYU, my friend Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, TLC host and author of "Shalom in The Home, and the Reverend Doctor Suzan Johnson Cook, director of the Women in Ministry Summit. Let me start with a very easy question, Rabbi . Is bigotry a sin?

RABBI SHMULEY BOTEACH, AUTHOR, "SHALOM IN THE HOME": It's not just a sin. It's an abomination. The very first religious principle is that god creates every human in his image. If you deny all people are the same, what you are saying is there is no common father in heaven. So you deny god. If that isn't a sin, I don't know what is.

The fact is that the kind of racism and the kind of sexism we are seeing in this election, Roland, is particularly insidious, because a lot of the white people who will vote for Barack Obama, a lot of them, Barack Obama is a white man to them. He talks like a white man. He was educated in a white institution. MARTIN: His mom was white.

BOTEACH: Right, but he sounds white. Even his own running mate, Joe Biden, made this comment about the first black candidate who speaks well and is clean cut, et cetera. This is this idea of the commonality of human kind. This is what this election should be about.

IRSAHD MANJI, DIRECTOR, MORAL COURAGE PROJECT: Let's also make a clear distinction, Roland, between bias and bigotry. All of us are biased. In the suit you have chosen to wear today, you have discriminated. In the route that I have taken to the studio -- listen, it's a wonderful suit and here's the point, that bias only becomes bigotry when it has the effect of dehumanizing the other.

Rabbi Shmuley is absolutely right. Precisely because look what -- everything god created is excellent. Nothing that god created is in vain. And god creates whom he will. Therefore, by reducing the humanity of someone else through your bigotry, you are actually offending god's decision to have made that person.

REV. SUZAN JOHNSON COOK, BRONX CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP CHURCH: Bigotry is certainly a sin and being an African-American who was born female, and a leader in the faith community, I have experienced it on the gender level, on the racial level. It shows up in the political world. It shows up in the Christian and the Judeo world. So we have to make sure that we don't bias and dehumanize anyone in their walk.

MARTIN: Help me out here; 92 percent of Americans say they believe in god. Yet, what's going on when they make these decisions in the voting booth? Is this going to be a moral or spiritual litmus test for America?

BOTEACH: They believe in the god they conjure up. One of the reasons, with all due respect to my Christian brothers and sisters -- one of the reasons we rejected lividity of Jesus is Jesus is a white, Jewish male. That would make me more godly than a black Christian woman or an Islamic woman? The fact is that god has no gender. The fact is that god has no race. God has no ethnicity.

When you say they believe and yet they have these prejudices, it's because they think God looks exactly like them.

COOK: Let me just respond as Christian who has accepted the divinity of Jesus. One of the things that has happened is that it sums up all the great commandments. Love your neighbor as you do yourself and love God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength. The end of that is you have to love yourself. Hurt people hurt people. People who don't love themselves are bigots. They pull down other people.

I am one who accepts the divinity of Christ, but I also do not accept bigotry.

MANJI: Precisely because you just have mentioned the Golden Rule -- by the way, the viewers should understand that every major religion on this earth has its own version of the Golden Rule; Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Exactly because of that, I think that if there is, Roland, a spiritual or moral litmus test in this election, it will be weather individual Americans can move beyond narcissism, can move beyond the candidate with whom they feel personally connected, whom they can personally relate to, and see as the common good.

In effect, the Golden Rule in this election is a call for national unity.

MARTIN: When Senator Barack Obama gave his race speech, he said that today's racial resentments are not always expressed in polite company. As we, of course, reach for this whole notion of what that means, how about these resentments. How are these resentments going to influence the vote? And what should people of faith be saying to challenge people to make sure they don't?

BOTEACH: Religious people are supposed to have religious values. Let's move for a moment from the racial question to the sexism issue. Sarah Palin is sort of being condemned for not being able to control her fertility. You're a governor of a state, you're having a baby? She has to hide the pregnancy. Then people condemn her for going back to work. It's almost like women are only allowed to be professional --

MARTIN: She didn't have to hide the pregnancy. There have been other governors, the governor of Connecticut, who had the child. It wasn't a big deal.

BOTEACH: Right now, people are saying, how are you going to be vice president and take care of her child? They didn't say that to Barack Obama, who has two young children? Let's remember one thing, we are constantly telling women in the third world, get control of your ovaries, for goodness sake. You guys are overpopulating the Earth. Religious values -- religious values means that families are also important. It would actually be quite amazing -- each one of these candidates have young kids. Let them take off a day like the Sabbath. Joe Lieberman did it in the 2000 race.

MARTIN: These resentments when you look at religion -- again individuals who are saying I'm a religious person, content of character. They bring all these different things, but then they still say, you know what, I don't like that person because he is 72, because he's black, because she's a woman.

MANJI: I think, Roland, if all you are doing is voting for a candidate because he has black skin or voting against him because he has black skin or for a woman because she is a woman or against her because she is a woman, in effect, what you are doing is reducing that person's humanity, because you are making them a walking label. God has made all of us so much more complex and deliciously multifaceted than that.

So, my bottom line is absolutely question and challenge their positions, their policy, their values, their experience or lack of it, even their track record. That is not dehumanizing them. That is actually engaging them as human beings, because you are taking where they stand very seriously. It is when you just reduce them to a biological aspect, that is when you say, you know what, you are not worth my time of day.

COOK: That is if you get the nomination. People who were candidates who were female, sometimes they did not vote for them. I heard people in many conversations said I voted for Barack because I didn't want a female over me. The bigotry and the resentment sometimes are in their religion, sometimes in their family lives. You have generations who are growing up as bigots.

MARTIN: I talked to Bishop Darrell Jones (ph) and he said that democracy is theocracy, as opposed to theocracy driving democracy. Here's what is interesting: what about this whole notion of how people use their religious beliefs to really cover up their bigotry and how that impacts public policy? How must we confront that in this campaign?

BOTEACH: The only way that's going to happen is if people's religion actually informs their values. Take the ageism question. Ask the average woman what her age is and she will be so offended; 80 percent of people on dating sites lie about their age. The Bible says that people who have lived have actually gained wisdom. King Solomon said that when he was young, it was his winter, because he made mistakes. When he was older, it was his summer, because he gained wisdom.

Now, I'm 41 years old. Your advertisers, who will follow this segment, they don't even want to sell me their product, because at 41, I'm set in my ways. We do have -- America hates old people. We shove them away where we can't see them, so they won't remind us that we are going to become old.

COOK: Let me say something as a woman. I don't think ageism is always the issue. I think women are not ashamed many times to tell their age. It's cultural many times. I think it's depression many times. As a woman --


MARTIN: Here's what's going on. People who have religious feelings when it comes to the issue of abortion, when it comes to the issue of homosexuality, when it comes to the issue of poverty. When it comes to those people who are bigoted, they say my religion says I am not for this.

MANJI: Their theologians say that I am not supposed to be for this. But faith is all about ask questions and growing stronger in your faith in a higher creator, which none of us can access. I think, Roland, if there is a big lesson to be taken out of this election, it may be this: that there is a difference between your identity and your integrity. This whole election is based upon identity in so many ways. The first African-American to be a serious candidate for president, the first female Republican vice presidential candidate. If John McCain gets elected, he will be the oldest to occupy the White House. Identity is only exactly that. It is constructed. But your integrity is a set of values that you bring into that voting booth. And one doesn't have to be equal to the other.

MARTIN: Here's what I want to know. We don't have much time left. Is there a spiritual lesson that we are to learn from this election?

BOTEACH: Absolutely. The spiritual lesson, above all else, is people are not the sum total of their views. they're not the sum total of their opinions. There is this underlying common humanity. We love fragmenting people. When Barack Obama gave that incredibly moving speech in 2004, and he said there's no blue states, red states. There's the United States. He didn't realize that once he became the nominee of a party, of course it would be divisive by definition.

But that's why politics is not necessarily the answer. If you watch everything happening in this election, Roland, you would be forgiven if you were to believe that America's problems could all be solved with cash, mortgage meltdown, high cost of health care. We have a spiritual crisis.

COOK: Many spiritual lessons. One is, male and female, god create them. And so there are less that anyone in America, male and female, can still achieve what they want, but understand that there are prices for going out front.

MANJI: Let's remember -- and I say this as a Muslim who loves Jesus -- let's remember Christ. I love you too, if that's what you mean, but not as much as do Jesus. Let's remember Christ's own favorite parable of the good Samaritan, injured guy, left to the side of the road to die. He was completely neglected and ignored by people of his own tribe and an outcast was the one who came and saved him. This really is a call to move beyond tribalism and to understand that there is such a thing as the common good.

MARTIN: All right, I want to thank all of you for being here. Up next, an in depth look at the power ladies in this year's race and why gender is now the hottest topic in presidential politics.


MARTIN: It's been a banner year for strong women in presidential politics. Senator Hillary Clinton broke the glass ceiling with her historic primary race. Michelle Obama has been coming across as the most formidable first lady since Hillary Clinton. And now Governor Sarah Palin is grabbing and holding the spot light, as possibly the most charismatic and, well, glamorous vice presidential nominee ever.

After all the gender bashing we heard this year, how do voters really feel about these formidable women? Joining us right now, three very strong women in their own right, Republican strategist and CNN political contributor Leslie Sanchez, culture and fashion critic Michaela Angela Davis, Amanda Carpenter, national political reporter for Jump right into it, Michaela, how do you feel really about Governor Sarah Palin? She has, frankly, taken hold of this campaign and thrown everything out of whack.

MICHAELA ANGELA DAVIS, CULTURE AND FASHION CRITIC: I think she is the distraction in lipstick. Sarah Palin really has been a great tool -- Trojan Horse for the Republicans, because every time we talk about her and her lipstick and her kids is another day we don't talk about issues. I think she has been really strategically placed.

MARTIN: Amanda, I have a feeling you disagree?

AMANDA CARPENTER, TOWNHALL.COM: A woman like Sarah Palin absolutely has transformed politics for conservative women. We have been waiting for someone like her to come along, who is vivacious, who holds to principals, and can really excite the base. To regard her as something in lipstick or a Trojan Horse --

DAVIS: You have been waiting for someone who doesn't believe in reproductive rights? You've been waiting for someone who --

CARPENTER: I wouldn't phrase it like that. She believes in --

DAVIS: As a woman, she is my nightmare.

LESLIE SANCHEZ, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: To a lot of feminists, it is a frustrating problem. You've got the first woman who is on the top of the ticket and it was placed there by a Republican, not a Democrat.

MARTIN: Hold tight. You're forgetting Geraldine Ferraro, 1984.

SANCHEZ: We are talking about -- with respect to this election, absolutely. But also, look at the fact that the Democrats had an opportunity to place a more than qualified woman in Hillary Clinton on their ticket and they chose not to. They rejected her.

MARTIN: I'm glad you brought that up. Some polls say she was more qualified than Governor Sarah Palin. Now, she did talk with ABC's Charlie Gibson, her first major sit down interview. And she came up with a question on national security that people say is vital to answer. Here's what she said.


CHARLIE GIBSON, ABC NEWS ANCHOR: Do you agree with the Bush doctrine?


GIBSON: What do you interpret it to be?

PALIN: His world view?

GIBSON: The Bush doctrine, enunciated September 2002, before the Iraq war. PALIN: I believe what President Bush has attempted to do is rid this world of Islamic extremism, terrorists who are hell bent on destroying our nation.


MARTIN: Leslie, she danced around that answer. You know if that was a Democratic nominee who was a female, they would be ripping her to shreds for how she answer that question.

SANCHEZ: This is not a test question. This is a question -- this is not like a quiz. This is a question, did she understand the doctrine? She did. I think --

MARTIN: She had to figure out which one it was.

SANCHEZ: You are looking for gotcha a moment. She had a substantial answer.

MARTIN: I'm not looking for a gotcha moment, Amanda, but I'm also looking at how Senator Hillary Clinton ran her campaign. All of the question before was is she tough enough, does she understand national security, can we trust a woman as commander in chief? That plays into those kinds of questions.

CARPENTER: I don't think Sarah Palin dodged that question. She asked for a clarification. She didn't know exactly what Charlie Gibson meant when he said the Bush doctrine. People have defined it as preemptive strikes, or also if you harbor terrorists, whether you're a terrorist nation as well. There has been different interpretations of that. To clarify it was a good move.

DAVIS: Do you think that question was really for what you said, to clarify or to really, what are you talking about?

CARPENTER: She said, what do you mean, Charlie?

MARTIN: It's all a part of interpretation. Again, people look at certain things. Let's talk about what folks are also looking at, the glamour of Sarah Palin. Look at you, you said she's got some legs. Is that really what you want folks focusing on? Here's what one particular voter had to say about the glamour of the governor.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She is pretty cute, but I don't know how she stands on anything. I don't understand her politics very much.


SANCHEZ: She stands on two legs.

MARTIN: Amanda said she has cute legs. She got some great legs. But should voters, Leslie, be thinking about her looks, as opposed to what she is saying and thinking? SANCHEZ: You can't criticize the voter on that for what is human nature. I think the bigger issue is, is she qualified, is she a leader? The reason people like Sarah Palin is because she reminds people of middle class, of everybody working folks. It's interesting, women are told you can't have everything. You can have it all, but you can't have it at the same time. Here you're seeing somebody who is raising a family, who is committed to motherhood, but she is also a leader in her own right.

DAVIS: As a fashionista, this is going to be the one time, I think, I am going to agree with something -- that finally a woman doesn't have to negotiate her beauty and her intellect. We are often in negotiation. Either you have to choose to be sexy or you have to choose to be smart. You have to choose. She is choosing to be a woman. So I agree with that.

And also the fellow you asked, I don't think he is quite the fashionista to really give a comment on what she looks like. I think this really is a question for women. She is a relief for women who don't have to dumb down or man down or hide their femininity to be powerful. She is good for women for that one reason.

MARTIN: She's giving her one thing. Amanda, earlier, Leslie talked about this whole issue in terms of the problem that feminists have with Palin, sort of stuck in a box. Talk about that in terms of what does it mean for her being the candidate, and this sort of tug of war going on. Should we criticize her, should we praise her, that you are seeing happening across the country?

CARPENTER: In terms of a conservative woman rising to a place like this, I think this is something a lot of conservative women confront with feminist groups. If you don't believe in abortion and these other so-called Democratic female issues, you are not representing females correctly. Even Wendy Downager (ph), in a blog that she wrote online for "Newsweek" and the "Washington Post" recently, about faith, she questioned whether Sarah Palin could even be called a woman. I thought that was shocking. Of course she is a woman. She had five kids. What's to debate here?

MARTIN: Here's what's interesting in this, Leslie, folks talk about Palin in terms of being a mother, in terms of her looks and everything. Republicans were also very critical of Obama in terms of this whole celebrity notion. If he, as a man, talked about being a family man, begin a father, raising kids, folks would say, he is weak. He is week. What is it -- is she able to talk more about her family background than a male candidate could?

SANCHEZ: I don't think so.

MARTIN: Amanda is shaking her head saying yes.

SANCHEZ: Not necessarily. I think people expect -- he is trying to show he has shared value. He's trying to show he is committed to his family. Even if you look at the issue of fatherhood, that he took on two a lot of communities, that he said this was an important issue, trying to unify families, I think that's a very strong family values and cultural values. He's talking about those.

MARTIN: Leslie said strong several different times. Let's talk about Michelle Obama for a second.

DAVIS: Here is the thing. This is where I think we are in a sort of culture war, and this is more like the cowboys versus the cosmopolitan. If Michelle Obama was Sarah Palin, she could not parade five children and one of them being pregnant on the stage and people think that's great. Think about it. If that was a black family, it would not be a Rockwell moment. Sarah Palin has used her family in a way that Barack Obama could not.

MARTIN: Amanda?

CARPENTER: Sarah Palin has been confronted with other problems.


MARTIN: But her point is, how we view culture in America, if a black mother had gone on stage with a pregnant daughter, unwed, would it have been received the same way?

CARPENTER: No, it wouldn't. But that's not to say that there haven't been stereotypes implicated on Sarah Palin. With this family, I've read over and over again, it's kind of like this northern hick thing. Being someone from Michigan --

MARTIN: Northern hick, frontier --

CARPENTER: You're right. If it was Michelle Obama, there would be different problems.

DAVIS: There would be Obama's Momma drama on everybody's cover.

MARTIN: Is Cindy McCain getting lost in this whole deal. Nobody talks about her, except the 300,000 dollar outfit she wore to the convention.

SANCHEZ: Two very different animals here, in the sense of you have a candidate who is a policy person, who is going to be the leader of the country, versus somebody who is the spouse and part of the family.

MARTIN: So we view them differently?

SANCHEZ: Look at how Hillary Clinton was viewed, in terms of the co-presidency. America rejected that.

MARTIN: Real quick, is it a good moment for women?

CARPENTER: Absolutely.

DAVIS: Absolutely.

SANCHEZ: Splendid. MARTIN: All right then, I certainly appreciate it. Amanda, Michaela, Leslie, thanks so much, great conversation. Folks, stick around for the best moves from the best political team on television. You don't want to miss this.


MARTIN: That's me and CNN political analyst Donna Brazile having a little fun at the CNN Grill in Denver. Now, back to the business at hand. A lot of you have sent me e-mails saying I shouldn't focus on the small percentage of Americans who are bigots when it comes to race, age, and sex. Why? Because many Americans will ignore those hot button items and vote on the issues. True, but in a close election, every vote does matter, bigot or not. In 2004, President Bush won Iowa by just 10,000 votes. He won New Mexico by 6,000. Senator John Kerry won New Hampshire by 9,000 votes and Delaware by 23,000 votes. All totalled, the 19 electoral votes of those four states were decided by 50,000 votes. America, every vote does count.

What do we do? Confront bigotry, I say, where it lives. Challenge everyone around you on their prejudices about age, race, and sex. Do all you can to convince them that if they're really Americans, true patriots, they must make decisions based on the facts and not their fears.

I'm Roland Martin. Join me next week for a look at America's middle class and look at what they really care about. Good night.