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Obama Widens Lead; Biden's Tough Talk

Aired October 23, 2008 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: New developments tonight in the campaign, new polling numbers, new endorsements, including a surprising endorsement from a former top official in the Bush administration. And, no, we're not talking about Colin Powell.
And with new reports of tension within the McCain campaign, his latest search for a game-changer, a Joe the plumber bus tour, with barely 12 days to go until America votes.

The new polling shows the Obama lead growing, now nine points in tonight's CNN poll of polls, up two points from last night. Statewide polling also showing a durable Obama lead, with the Illinois Democrat leading or tied in 10 states that President Bush won in 2004, also new surprising statements from Sarah Palin.

A lot happening in this hour, a lot to cover, starting with Senator Obama and Candy Crowley on the trail.


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It is a telling measure of this campaign that, 12 days before the election, the Democratic nominee is in one of the most Republican states in the country.



CROWLEY: In this state that George Bush won by 21 points, Obama trails McCain by just five. Win or lose, the fact that Obama showed up in the Hoosier State at this point speaks to a candidate with time and money on his hands and to an issue that crosses state lines.

OBAMA: The Dow plummeted again yesterday, threatening job security and retirement security and economic security for millions of ordinary Americans. Indiana lost 4,500 manufacturing jobs in September alone.

CROWLEY: Even as he flies high in the national polls and most of the battlegrounds, Obama lands in every state, urging his voters not to let up. And he doesn't. He now hits McCain for favoring tax cuts for American businesses to prevent them from taking their companies and their jobs overseas.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE SITUATION ROOM") SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: If they go to Ireland, they're only paying 11 percent. So, where are they going to go where they can create wealth and create jobs? It's simple, fundamental economics.

CROWLEY: Obama calls that a Wall Street plan.

OBAMA: But I say, let's end tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas. Give them to companies that are investing right here in Indiana.

CROWLEY: Obama left Indiana for Hawaii and a day-and-a-half off the trail to visit his gravely ill grandmother. He returns Saturday with a competent itinerary, booked up in Republican states, including weekend visits to Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada.

To change the world, as he often talks about, Barack Obama must first change the electoral map.


COOPER: Candy, is the campaign worried about him being off the trail?


They said they will say -- tell you two things, first of all, that it didn't come up, in terms of, uh-oh, what if we're off for a day-and-a-half? What will that mean? Second of all, let's look at the two states that he canceled the events, Iowa and Wisconsin, not states that, at this very moment, he has to worry about, and probably won't have to worry about over the next two weeks.

So, while they are saying, you know, obviously, they -- this is not a political decision, family comes first, he wanted to go home to see his grandmother, if you just look at the map, there just does not seem to be any real harm in him taking a day-and-a-half off the campaign trail.


CROWLEY: And, let's not forget, a man going home to see his failing grandmother, who he says is one of the closest people to him on the face of the earth, is not exactly an unsympathetic thing.

COOPER: You -- your report was from Indiana, where he is down in the polls, not down by much, within reach, perhaps, but still down in the polls. Why spend time there, when you have, you know, folks in Pennsylvania saying, look, you need to come back here; polls are actually tighter than may indicate?

CROWLEY: I suspect he will go back to Pennsylvania.

You go there, first of all, because it's very close to where he was, which is Chicago. And he was en route out. And it was a -- an easy place to go, but, because, look, they would like to run up the score, and they would like to run up the score, because, if they do that, they're going to lift all the votes.

They look down-ticket and they understand that, if they can get the magic 60 number, the filibuster-proof Senate, if they can increase their numbers in the House, it's going to make an Obama presidency, if there is one, a whole lot easier to do. So, you will see him in Indiana because they believe that he has a real chance there. But you will see him in Pennsylvania, too.

COOPER: Well, if they're looking that far down the ticket at this point, with 12 days to go, that's pretty confident.

Candy, appreciate it. Thank you.

Some new endorsements tonight, Republicans throwing their support to Obama, former Minnesota Governor Arne Carlson and a surprising statement of support from Scott McClellan, President Bush's former White House spokesman, who made his announcement today on D.L. Hughley's new program here on CNN.

As for John McCain, he spent the day on the trail. And there was a lot of talk about Joe the plumber.

On the trail for us, Ed Henry.


ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's all about branding, so it was a matter of time before John McCain gave Joe the plumber his own bus tour, even though Joe himself wasn't along for the ride.

Instead, McCain had coffee with Tom the contractor and Patricia the kitchen supplies purveyor...


HENRY: ... before heading over to a lumber yard.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Whether it's Joe the plumber in Ohio, or Joe over here -- thank you, Joe -- Joe, thank you.


MCCAIN: There's Joes all over here.

We shouldn't be taxing our small businesses more, as Senator Obama wants to do. We need to be helping them expand their businesses and create jobs.


HENRY: McCain aides say, Joe is not really just a man anymore. He's a metaphor, aimed at showing McCain feels the middle class' pain.

MCCAIN: Obama wants to spread the wealth around. Senator Obama wants to spread it around. That means...


MCCAIN: ... fewer jobs at their businesses and fewer jobs here in Florida.

HENRY: That plays well in Florida, where retirees are nervous about their nest eggs. McCain is trailing Obama here, and desperately needs his 27 electoral votes.

MCCAIN: We're going to win Florida and bring real change to Washington, D.C.


HENRY: But McCain's pitch for regular Joes may fall flat after revelations Sarah Palin and her family got $150,000 in clothes and styling, thanks to the Republican National Committee.

Pressed by Florida reporters aboard his bus, McCain said: "She needed clothes at the time. They will be donated at the end of this campaign."


COOPER: So, are McCain and Palin still talking about William Ayers on the trail?

HENRY: Not really. They have dropped that. That was a line of attack about a week ago, as you remember. They thought they could raise more doubts about Barack Obama's judgment, about his candor, as well, by raising these questions about his relationship with William Ayers. You're not really hearing that out on the campaign trail now, for two reasons.

One, they realize, when you look at the public polls, it's backfired somewhat. It looked like negative campaigning. Independent voters don't like it, so they have pretty much dropped it. Secondly, they realize as well this financial crisis has trumped everything else.

And that's why, in a state like Florida, where foreclosures are up, where you have so many retirees worried about their nest eggs, John McCain, instead, has to talk about the economy. He has to talk about taxes. That's going to be the closing argument in the final 12 days -- Anderson.

COOPER: So, how much of the talk is on the economy at a stump speech, say, of McCain or Palin, compared to talking about, you know, Obama, or trying to raise doubts about Obama?

HENRY: I would say it's 80/20, or even 90/10, with the economy being 80 percent or 90 percent, where John McCain will run through what he says he wants to do. He will talk about Joe the plumber. He will talk about the average guy, and very little, maybe 10 percent or 20 percent, about Barack Obama's readiness to be commander in chief. They realize they have made that argument over and over again. What the American people really want to hear about is about the economy. That's why he's focusing there. But, again, his -- his message being undermined a bit with Sarah Palin's wardrobe. When you dig deeper, out of that $150,000 in clothes that the RNC paid for, $75,000 came out of shopping at Neiman Marcus. It is very unlikely that Joe the plumber or Joe the iron worker has been shopping at Neiman Marcus.

That undermines John McCain's efforts to sort of reach out to middle-class voters -- Anderson.

COOPER: Their supporters don't see it that way, I'm sure, though, on the trail. Ed Henry, thank you very much.

Let us know what you think about how the candidates are doing. As always, blogging throughout the hour. Join the conversation at Check out Randi Kaye on our live Webcast during the break. Erica Hill is off tonight.

Our next -- coming up next a political panel -- new statements from Sarah Palin about whether she's a feminist. It's an interesting statement. So, is she changing her mind on that question? Hear what she is saying and decide for yourself.

Later, the ground game in North Carolina, where they have not seen this kind of battle in decades -- that and more tonight on 360.



OBAMA: One of the things we know is that change never comes without a fight. In the final days of a campaign, the say-anything, do-anything politics often takes over. We have seen it before. We're seeing it again right now.


COOPER: Barack Obama today in Indianapolis. He's down there, as Candy told us in the first piece, but in red state Indiana, not down by much, according to polls. He's warning his forces against complacency.

John McCain stumping in Florida, signs of tension within his campaign.

Let's dig deeper now with Democratic strategist Paul Begala -- he's a CNN political contributor and Obama supporter -- also CNN political contributor, McCain supporter and GOP consultant Alex Castellanos, and CNN senior political analyst David Gergen.

David, so, there are some new reports that point to rising despair in the McCain campaign -- Politico tonight reporting that some of McCain's own advisers are engaged in what they call blame-casting, and some top congressional aides slamming him for what they said was -- was an unfocused message.

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Anderson, coming to Washington today, I found that Democratic and Republican insiders universally believe that this campaign is slipping away from John McCain, that he only has three or four days to turn the momentum around in his favor, and, that unless he does so, there is a growing prospect that Senator Obama and the Democrats will rack up a huge victory, possibly, on November 4.

So, that, naturally, in that kind of environment, invites people to start -- the knives start coming out, and people, you know, making their preliminary assessments and blame-pointing the other way. I don't think the candidate is in any mood to do that. He's in no mood to give up. He's a fighter, and he has a history of closing strong.

But it's -- there has never been as -- much peace and tranquility and harmony within the McCain camp. It has a history of, going back over several campaigns, of folks -- a fair -- fair amount of personal dislike, even though they believe very strongly in the candidate.


Paul, in an interview with "The Washington Times," McCain blasted President Bush, saying his administration -- and I quote -- "let things get completely out of hand" and went on to list a handful of policies he would have handled differently.

It's interesting, because you and James Carville predicted earlier this week, I think on "Huffington Post," that the finger- pointing was about to begin.


COOPER: Go ahead.

BEGALA: And it has. And I -- I couldn't be happier.


COOPER: That doesn't surprise me.


BEGALA: Well, no, let me set my partisan hat off for a second.

The truth is, the only way -- let's presume that McCain loses, which I think looks reasonably likely. The only way to revivify a party is to -- to, you know, figure out what went wrong. Carville and I wrote a book, it was very tough on our party, in 2005, after the Democrats lost that presidential election.

And -- and a whole lot of Democrats were, I think quite wisely, trying to pull it apart and figure out what went wrong. This thing with the Republicans, though -- you know, Democrats, we go off in a yurt somewhere and, like, smoke pot and meditate and try to decide what we believe in, right? (LAUGHTER)

BEGALA: Republicans, man, they have a knife fight. It's going to be vicious. It's going to be like -- like steel cage death match. You know, it's going to be great.

And what's happening is -- I'm picking this up, too, as David is -- the old Reagan guys are blaming Bush. The McCain guys are blaming Bush. The Bush guys are, of course, blaming McCain and his campaign.

I think they're all right. This has been a -- a really terrible campaign, run in a really difficult time. I mean, McCain was dealt a terrible hand by President Bush, and he has played it as badly as he could.

COOPER: Alex, is it possible that -- I mean, some Republicans may not want to hear McCain slamming Bush, but is it possible that be a strategy that -- you know, David Gergen says the next three days are crucial -- that might work for him this late in the game, try to woo some undecideds?

ALEX CASTELLANOS, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: It's one of the few things he has left that he can do.

But, you know, there are a couple of ways to separate yourself from something that's unpopular. And, most of the time, candidates choose the weakest way. And that is to attack it.

And the problem with attacking, say, the -- your own brand, the Republican brand, or -- or your own president, is, you get tangled up with it. You have to actually move closer to it to attack it.

The other way to separate yourself from something that's unpopular is to turn in a different direction, to lead, to transform yourself. And the McCain campaign didn't seem to do that early in the campaign. And now the only choice it has left is to attack, really, its own brand, its own party. And that's -- that's a tough thing to have to do late in the campaign.

COOPER: Alex...


GERGEN: Yes, let me...


COOPER: David, go ahead.

GERGEN: I just wanted to add one thing to that. Alex is absolutely right about that.

The interesting comparison -- I know people don't like to hear about foreign countries very much, but there was -- in France, Sarkozy was running as the nominee of a very, very unpopular incumbent party. And, instead of attacking the incumbent party, what he did was offer something he -- offered himself as a fresh kind of candidate. And he won it, and he won it convincingly. And he has been very popular there, for the most part.

It is possible to do. They have not chosen to go that way.

COOPER: We're going to have more with our panel coming up. I promise not to ask either David Gergen or Alex Castellanos if they have ever been into a yurt or smoked.


COOPER: We will have more from them in a moment.

Twelve days to go, the battlefield is narrowing down to just a few key states -- up next, John King on the ground game in North Carolina at the magic map.

And, later, see what Sarah Palin told Brian Williams about her feminist beliefs and whether they differ from what she said not so long ago. You can make up your own mind.

And our 10 most wanted culprits of the financial collapse. This one shouldn't come as any surprise, but it may come as kind of a shock -- when 360's continues.


COOPER: The state of the race tonight -- this is how the electoral map looks right now. It will all come down to those key battleground states, not that you can actually read them right there, but maybe soon -- there, you can.

CNN -- CNN estimates there are just six left, six battleground states left, Nevada, Colorado, Missouri, Ohio, North Carolina, and Florida. Tonight, we want to take a close look at North Carolina. The latest CNN/"TIME"/Opinion Research poll has Obama up by four points in the state, 51 percent to 47 percent.

It's been more than 30 years since North Carolina voted for a Democrat for president. And, tonight, Obama has the lead there, partly because of campaign troops. It is a ground war being fought literally block by block.

CNN's John King reports.


MARY BOYD, NORTH CAROLINA REPUBLICAN VOLUNTEER: We're just trying to get the base out.


JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Mary Boyd is a Republican foot soldier in Charlotte, North Carolina, charged with finding and delivering every available vote.

BOYD: And the best way to do that is to take a list of registered Republican households and take a piece of literature and leave it right on their door, so that it -- they have easy access to the information.

KING: It is her third presidential campaign as precinct captain.

BOYD: Definitely going to this house.

KING: Twice, she walked these streets for a ticket led by George W. Bush. This one is very different.

BOYD: Well, it's extremely close. I think John McCain is going to win North Carolina, I hope by a lot, but we will take it any way we can get it.

KING: Extremely close in North Carolina.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hello. I'm a volunteer calling on behalf of...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mecklenburg County Republican Party.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We were wondering if John McCain can count on your vote.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You haven't decided.

KING: And, in these final days, when the ground war matters most, Republicans are, for the first time in memory, outnumbered.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I'm with the Barack Obama campaign. Do you know when you're going to go and vote, and that early voting is going on now?

KING: Early voting runs through November 1 in North Carolina and is a major priority of the vast Obama ground operation -- 45 offices across the state. McCain has 30. And the huge paid Obama staff is complemented by volunteers like these students on break from college in Tennessee.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The purpose of you guys going out today isn't to convince anybody. It's just to make sure they know about early voting.

KING: So far, so good from Camp Obama's perspective. Early voting in North Carolina is running more than two to one in favor of the Democrats.


COOPER: John, is part of the reason they want people to vote early is that those people, then, who have voted will help other people go to the polls?

KING: That is part of it.

There are several reasons. Number one, if they can get their determined voters who will also be volunteers to vote early, they don't have to waste the time on Election Day. It's already done.

Number two, especially in lower-income African-American communities, there have been problems in the past with people not turning out. They want their most -- their least reliable voters out early. And they offer them rides and they bring them out, so that they don't show up on Election Day and maybe see a long line.

And, Anderson, one other part of it is, if they detect that somebody is soft in their support, who says they have just decided for Barack Obama, or I think I'm for Barack Obama, they say, well, why don't we help you early-vote? Why don't you get out and early-vote?

That gets them out, gets that vote on record, so, if, in the last 10 days, John McCain says something, and that voter starts to change their mind, it's too late.

COOPER: You know, John King, many people have been impressed by your magic map throughout this entire campaign season, but I was surprised to see you show up tonight on NBC's "Saturday Night Live" just about an hour or so ago. Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a really expensive piece of equipment, Fred, and I kind of feel like you're wasting our time.


OK. Where are you from exactly?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm from New Hampshire.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: New Hampshire. What a pretty state. Wouldn't it be a drag if we pulled it over to Mexico?




AMY POEHLER, ACTRESS: OK, Fred. Come on. Stop goofing around.




POEHLER: Don't do that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come on, Fred. Put those states back where they belong.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Michigan, I can make it bounce.




COOPER: You ever had an urge to do that, John?

KING: I'm going to go on "LOU DOBBS" and move the border and say, what border crisis, Lou?


KING: I have always -- look, we have some tricks up our sleeve for election night. Don't you worry.


COOPER: All right.


COOPER: We will be watching.

John King, thanks.

One day after Barack Obama chides him for his language on the stump, has Joe Biden kind of toned it down? We're on the trail with him to find out.

First, Randi Kaye joins us with a 360 news and business bulletin -- Randi.


The judge in Senator Ted Stevens' federal corruption trial will hold a hearing tomorrow morning to decide what to do about a juror who said she had to go out of state for a family emergency and now cannot be reached.

Earlier today, the judge denied a request to dismiss a different juror, after complaints about her alleged misconduct from the jury foreman.

The carnage on Wall Street continues. Some experts are forecasting, 200,000 jobs in the financial industry could be wiped out before the year is over. More than 110,000 employees have already lost their jobs so far. New York's mayor, Michael Bloomberg, has won his fight to extend term limits. The New York City council today approved changes to the law that would have prevented Bloomberg from seeking a third term.

COOPER: All right, Randi, here's tonight's "Beat 360" photo: Barack Obama at a rally yesterday in Richmond, Virginia.

Here's the caption -- caption from our staffer winner, Alyssa: "Whoa, ladies, it's not that kind of rally. I can't take it off."



COOPER: If you think you can do better, go to Click on the "Beat 360" link. Send us your entry. We will announce the winner at the end of the program. And, of course, the winner gets a fancy-schmancy "Beat 360" T-shirt.

Up next: We have taken you inside some Palin rallies. Tonight, her opponent up close -- Joe Biden on the trail, trying to turn a red state blue.

Plus, Randi just told you about job losses on Wall Street. Coming up, Ali Velshi has the big picture, new unemployment and foreclosure numbers. Should you be worried about your own job? What about your home?

We will be right back.



GOV. SARAH PALIN (R-AK), VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: He told Democrat donors to mark his words, that there were at least four or five scenarios that would place our country at risk in an Obama administration.

We have got to say, first, thanks for the warning, Joe.



COOPER: Governor Sarah Palin turning Senator Biden's comments into a punchline on the campaign trail. That was in Troy, Ohio, today.

As for Senator Biden, he hopped across North Carolina, with stops in Charlotte, Winston-Salem, and Raleigh. He also took some new shots at Senator McCain, saying he doesn't have a steady hand these days.

We covered Palin rallies unfiltered, turning the cameras on the crowd to see what it's like for the supporters and the candidate. Tonight, we are doing the same with Biden. Up close, here's Gary Tuchman.



GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Tarheel State has been an Achilles' heel for Democratic presidential politics.

SEN. JOSEPH BIDEN (D-DE), VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Our goal is to have the biggest voter turnout in the history of North Carolina. And we're counting on all of you.


TUCHMAN: The last time a Democratic presidential ticket won the state of North Carolina, Sarah Palin was a 12-year-old, and Joe Biden was the same thing he is now, a U.S. senator.

Age may be a sensitive issue in society, but, in the 2008 campaign, it's the stuff of punchlines.

BIDEN: Governor Palin said before my debate with her, our debate together, she said -- it was a great line -- she said, "You know, I was in second grade when Joe Biden got elected to the Senate, when he was 29."


BIDEN: It's true.


BIDEN: But I wanted to say to her, Governor, you were in sixth grade the last time John McCain had a good idea on the economy.


TUCHMAN: Joe Biden has passionately attacked the McCain/Palin ticket on the stump. But, as he busts through the statistically dead heat state of North Carolina, his attacks are more of the gentler and goofier variety.

BIDEN: John McClain -- John McClain -- excuse me -- John McCain.


BIDEN: John McCain, I -- I don't recognize him anymore.


TUCHMAN: His crowds in Charlotte, Winston-Salem, and Raleigh were enthusiastic, but less emotional and excited than Sarah Palin's crowds.

The word change is uttered a lot when you travel with Joe Biden.

(on camera): Sarah Palin is a woman. She would be the first female vice president. That's a change, right?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We want a good woman, not just a woman, a good woman.


TUCHMAN (voice-over): With Barack Obama in Hawaii, Joe Biden, for now, is the primary campaigner for the ticket. And he's using some of this time to preach togetherness.

BIDEN: We mean it when we say that, once this election is over, we have to reach out. We have to reach out and unite this country.

TUCHMAN: His crowd at the University of North Carolina in Charlotte included a large group of American Muslims.

(on camera): What do you say to people who say, Barack Obama is a Muslim, and that's why you shouldn't vote for him?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I say to those people, become enlightened. We live in a new day of America. And, as Americans, we intend to go forward, not backwards. And I say what Colin Powell said. If Obama was a Muslim, so what?

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Biden spent almost as much time shaking hands and posing for pictures as he did making his speeches. But he's not making time for news conferences with reporters. With all the attention being paid to Sarah Palin's avoidance of the national media, Joe Biden is actually more scarce these days, not holding such a session for over six weeks, although he does do individual interviews.

Questions about his comment that Barack Obama will be tested by an international generated crisis are not being answered by Biden. His opponents may say the Democratic ticket is too left-of-center for America.

BIDEN: Thanks for being here.

TUCHMAN: But left is not a dirty word here.


COOPER: Gary, Joe Biden is a talkative guy, certainly. Why isn't he doing press conferences?

TUCHMAN: Anderson, too much risk, too little chance of reward.

If you talk to most of these campaign bosses for all the campaign, for all the people in the race, they would tell you, they like their people to do teleprompter speeches and commercials. And it's not just Joe Biden who's not talking. Barack Obama has far less media availabilities than he used to. John McCain was a champion talker in 2000 when he ran for president. He doesn't talk to the media very much either. Sarah Palin is talking more than anybody.

Now, it's our feeling in this business that if you want to be one of the leaders of the free world, it's great to talk to people like us who cover the world but, unfortunately, that opinion is not shared.

COOPER: Gary Tuchman, thanks, on the trail.

Around three weeks ago the vice-presidential candidate on the other ticket, Sarah Palin, called herself a feminist. Asked about that tonight, a little bit different answer. We're going to show it to you, let our panel weigh in.

Also ahead tonight, new worries about jobs in America and a very scary report about home foreclosures. We'll talk to Ali Velshi about whether your home is safe.

And "The Culprits of the Collapse, The Ten Most Wanted." another culprit added to the list tonight. I'll warn you: you may have a tough time with our decision.



MCCAIN: Now I'd like to give you a little straight talk, my friends. A little straight talk. Florida is a battleground state. We got to win it. We have less than two weeks, 12 days. Who's counting?


COOPER: Everyone's counting on Florida as a battleground, and so are some others, others George Bush easily won in 2004. The numbers are getting tougher and tougher for Senator McCain. There's no doubt about it.

Let's talk strategy now with Democratic strategist and CNN political contributors Paul Begala; Republican consultant and CNN political contributor Alex Castellanos; and former presidential advisor to Republicans and Democrats, CNN senior political analyst David Gergen.

So David, isn't it fair to say that, if the tables were turned, and the Republican nominee was spending as much as Obama and Biden, that the Democrats would be flipping out, saying the Republicans were buying the election?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Absolutely. Absolutely. This happens. We've seen this in the past. When John Kennedy got elected everybody thought his daddy did it and, you know, that they bought the -- they bought the primaries in West Virginia and places like that and then went on. That's regular.

But you know, Anderson, what really interests me is at this point with the huge problems we've got in this country, the big, big issues facing the country that, here on a night when Obama is in Hawaii and the Republicans have sort of the airwaves to themselves, how small the stuff is we're talking about, how repetitive it seems to be.

It is -- it's a measure, I think, of how -- how much the Republicans are struggling to fill the airwaves with something interesting or exciting or different or new or provocative, with some set of ideas.

COOPER: Well it's interesting you bring that up, because literally, we just got a sound bite from an interview that Sean Hannity did with Sarah Palin that was aired tonight. And she tried to kind of put a new spin on the Bill Ayers thing, of all things, not really a new topic, but kind of a new spin on it. Let's play that and then see what you say.


GOV. SARAH PALIN (R-AZ), VICE-PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: The other part of that, Sean, is to ask the question, what did those characters see in Barack Obama? Why would they have wanted to be associated with him? Why would Ayers have wanted to kick off Barack Obama's political campaign in his...


COOPER: It's sort of a new take on it, I guess, or at least I haven't heard that before. Alex, is that -- I mean, is that going to get them anywhere?

ALEX CASTELLANOS, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, it's going to maybe get them all those votes they've already got on FOX, I would suspect. But, no. You know, if you haven't figured out a message beyond that in two years, you're probably never going to figure it out in the last two weeks.

So right now it's almost really too late to come up with it, pull a rabbit out of the hat with a new message. Whatever horse they're on, and I'm not sure I can tell. They just ought to ride it. Other than that buy some scotch and good cigars. See if we can get John King to make Arizona bigger on the electoral map, and that might do it.

COOPER: But you see it -- you do see it that way? You see it as they're all over the place?

CASTELLANOS: Well, I think one of the things we have to go back and ask is why in the spring and why in the summer didn't the Republican Party and the McCain campaign say, "Look. This election is about one thing. Whether we'll keep America the strongest economy in the world. We've got a new global frontier, all kinds of opportunities, all kinds of competition. To do that we've got to change Washington. That's what I'm good at. But America -- America first. Country first."

Country first could have meant we're going to strengthen this economy and how we're going to do it. But we've waited until very, very late to really start talking about the economy, until it actually melted down, and so it's a defensive posture on it. Imagine what would have happened if McCain had spent the summer talking about the economy, and we might have been in a different world.

COOPER: Paul, David was saying before that he thinks sort of three or four days is the window that McCain has to kind of do something. Do you agree with that? And if so do you have any recommendations for him? I know that's not your job but you do like to put on hats.

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: I would. I would say, apparently, what they said to Walter Mondale when he was going down to certain defeat against Ronald Reagan. Apparently they said to him, "You know, Mr. Vice president, why don't you campaign the way you want your grandchildren to remember you?"

And that's what I'd tell Senator McCain. You know, he is a man of profound personal courage, and the suffering and service he gave this country ought to be honored and particularly by Democrats like me. Why not go out with some class and some dignity? You're unlikely to win anyway. But, you know, there are things worse than losing an election, and right now he is at risk.

COOPER: So are you saying -- are you saying point blank there is no way he can win?

BEGALA: I'm not quite where James is. You know, he had that colorful metaphor about calling the dogs and peeing on the fire, that the hunt is over. I'm not quite -- quite there. But it's very hard to imagine a scenario under which McCain wins.

But, you know, why not listen to what Alex was saying? Why not go big? Why not talk about calling us to be something greater than ourselves rather than -- you know, they started out attacking Barack on sex education. Remember that one? Like he was some kind of a pervert or something.

Then he was palling around with terrorists. Then he was a socialist. It's all been small and it's all been petty, and it's all hurt John McCain. It's driven his vote down.

So I guess if -- I would say if I was working for him, I'd say, "Look. You're going down in history for your heroism. Why not end this campaign with the dignity that you've shown?"

COOPER: David, a couple of weeks ago during one of the -- I think it was after one of the debates. Frankly, this whole year is now starting to blend together. But I think it was right after one of the debates. You said there was this kind of unknown quantity of race. And I hate to even bring it up, but is that still, in your mind, a question in terms of what's going to happen on election night?

GERGEN: First of all, amen to what Paul Begala just said.

And yes, Anderson, I think the racial issue still lurks here, and we don't know how it's going to play out. There are two or three unknowns. There's the racial question. There's the question of whether these young people, who are such an important part of the Obama coalition, whether they'll truly turn out.

In the early voting in North Carolina and Florida, we're now told that young people are under represented in those who are voting. Does that mean that they're not going to be voting in the numbers that we thought they would on election day?

So there are some imponderables here. But I think that the realization is setting in that Barack Obama has begun to pull away. It's not just -- it's not closing. It's going the other way. And under those circumstances, race, then, becomes, even though it will play a role, may not be enough to overcome everything else going on.

COOPER: Sarah Palin was asked by Brian Williams tonight if she is a feminist. I want to play our viewers the answer. Part of the answer.


PALIN: I'm not going to label myself feminist or not, but I do believe that American women can recognize in me an advocate and a friend, and I want to be in the White House for them.


COOPER: That's actually different from what she told Katie Couric last month when she said she was indeed a feminist. Why a different answer? I mean, is there anything there? I mean, maybe we're at the stage where we're just talking about such little details that, you know, people are parsing every word. But, Alex, do you make anything of the answer?

CASTELLANOS: You know, there's a lot more to Sarah Palin than we've had a chance to see in this campaign. Here was somebody who did have great numbers in the last -- here is somebody who took on their own party. We all know the story. Took on big oil companies and actually had some success and then became kind of captured by the campaign.

And we all know what it's like to become a vice-presidential candidate inside a campaign. You become very heavily scripted. There is very little, including the William Ayers palling around with terrorists thing. Those weren't her words; those were campaign words.

And we haven't really had a chance to see Sarah Palin. And I think there are moments where we do and that was one of them, where she is more than just a base pick to reinforce the Republican base, where we see that she's kind of a new generation of Republican.

If -- if McCain does not win this election, it'll be interesting to see if she can grow to become that again, that kind of Republican who goes beyond the base to the new generation.

COOPER: Do you have any doubts she has a big future in the Republican Party nationally?

CASTELLANOS: I think she can have. I really do. I think, you know, the only time the McCain campaign was successful in this, and tied Barack Obama, even pulled ahead in some polls...

COOPER: Right.

CASTELLANOS: ... was when Sarah Palin was not just the Republican base, but she was an outsider who was going to change Washington.

COOPER: Right.

CASTELLANOS: And by the way, I want to make it clear. I'm not saying that Republicans should just, you know, have a campaign for these last two weeks of hugs and kisses and "America's a great country" and "I want my grandchildren to remember me as a nice guy." No. McCain needs to continue to fight, but there's a right way and a wrong way to do it.

COOPER: Right.

CASTELLANOS: And the right way is say, "Look, we've got great opportunities. Let's -- and the Democrats are going to screw all this up, and we can take you to a better place."

COOPER: We've got to move along, David Gergen, Alex Castellanos, Paul Begala. I know Paul is eager to get back to his yurt, whatever he does in that yurt.

CASTELLANOS: Scotch and cigars. Scotch and cigars.

COOPER: All right.

BEGALA: He's got his Scotch and cigars. You're richer than I am.

COOPER: Thanks a lot. It was an interesting discussion tonight.

More job losses. Could yours be next? What you need to know from CNN's Ali Velshi, coming up.

And later, "The Culprits of the Collapse," our list of the Ten Most Wanted." Well, whose -- whose name are we naming to the list tonight? And will the list go on after tonight? Well, we'll have answers for you ahead.

And Tina Fey's latest take on Sarah Palin. It's our "Shot" when "360" continues.



ALAN GREENSPAN, FORMER CHAIR, FEDERAL RESERVE: We are in the midst of a once-in-a-century credit tsunami. (END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Former Fed chairman Alan Greenspan, testifying before Congress today. While lawmakers are grilling him, another wave of bad economic news hit. Home foreclosure filings in the third quarter shot up 71 percent from a year ago. Economists now believe consumer spending dropped 3 percent last quarter. That's the first decline in 17 years.

Now, shouldn't come as a big surprise with so many people out of work. The latest job loss numbers are sobering, and with just 12 days left in the presidential race it is your money and your vote.

Joining me now, CNN senior business correspondent, Ali Velshi.

So news figures just released today, Ali: more people filed for unemployment benefits last week than expected. How bad is it?

ALI VELSHI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, let me tell you. We get the unemployment number once a month, but every week we get a sort of an update, a snapshot. And that snapshot is the number of Americans going to file for unemployment benefits, going to the unemployment office for the first time, because they've lost their jobs.

Last week that number was 478,000. We just got that number today. It was expected to be 465,000. So it was 13,000 more. And basically, that's an indication of what we're going to get when we get the next jobs report. But the next jobs report is November 7, a few days after the election, so this is the information that the candidates have to work on.

We've also been reporting all week about mass layoffs. That's layoffs at companies, more than 50 layoffs at one company. Here's the updated list. Let me show you what's going on.

Merck laying off 2,880 people in the United States. Goldman Sachs laying off 10 percent of its work force: 3,260 people. Yahoo! laying off 1,500 people. They say advertising is drying up. Chrysler laying off 825 -- that's a full shift -- at the north Toledo Ohio plant. They're also shutting down their Newark, Delaware, plant earlier than expected.

There are other layoffs, too. GM says it will have more. Xerox says it's laying off 5 percent of its worldwide work force. So it's a big deal.

The issue here, Anderson, is that if you don't have a job, you can't contribute to the economy coming back. And that's a bit of a problem.

One of the other things that we want to look at, Anderson, is how this spreads out around the country, because obviously, as jobs are lost, it's going to affect the way people vote, Anderson.

COOPER: Where is the biggest fallout from the layoffs? VELSHI: Obvious places; places you'd think they are. Let's take a look. At the top of the list of jobs that were lost and, by the way, the latest numbers we have are for the month of September: 28,300 in Michigan. Because we keep hearing about job losses in the auto industry.

In Georgia 22,300, also manufacturing jobs. In Louisiana, 17,500. That has got to do with the hurricane and the oil that is produced in Louisiana. So that might actually find itself changing a little later. And in South Carolina, 14,800. Those are just the top four. But there are jobs lost in 41 states in September. It might be worse in October.

We'll get those numbers right after the election.

COOPER: Ali, we'll check in with you tomorrow. Thanks.

Still ahead, our "Ten Most Wanted Culprits of the Collapse." Few people are taking responsibility for the mess we're in. Plenty of blame to go around, even on Main Street. Tonight we add a new name to the list.

Plus, on the trail with less than two weeks to go, each candidate focusing on several battleground states still up for grabs. Got the "Raw Politics."

And can Tina Fey outdo herself? She did another Sarah Palin impersonation tonight. We'll show you part of it, ahead.


COOPER: It's our "Ten Most Wanted List, Culprits of the Collapse," of the big shots who helped create the crisis on Wall Street that's rocking Main Street and shrinking everyone's savings.

Some say this is not the time for blame. We disagree, because blame leads to accountability, and accountability leads to change.

Today, one of the movers and shakers on our list, former Fed chairman Alan Greenspan, testified before Congress. You heard him a bit from before. Here's some more of what he had to say.


GREENSPAN: I made a mistake in presuming that the self-interest of organizations, specifically banks and others, were such that they were best capable of protecting their own shareholders and their equity in the firms.


COOPER: He said he made a mistake. Greenspan actually accepted a sliver of blame. Now, his critics say he left out all the other mistakes he made, but you know what? Accepting a little blame is still more than we've heard from most of these other "Culprits of the Collapse." There's plenty of blame to go around: Republicans and Democrats. And tonight we're asking all of us, including ourselves, to look in the mirror as we add another name to our "Ten Most Wanted List": you.

Here's 360's Randi Kaye.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was the ride you thought would never end, the spending spree you've grown accustomed to. Bigger homes, fancier cars, more credit cards than you could count.

VELSHI: We took on too much credit. It was part of the American dream that we were convinced we needed to be part of.

KAYE: For many, that dream is now a nightmare. In September, more than 80,000 homes were foreclosed on, a 71 percent spike from the year before.

VELSHI: We had the ability now to get cheap and easy credit. It's like somebody offering you crack. You don't have to buy it.

KAYE: But we did. The Federal Reserve says the average family in the U.S. is nearly $80,000 in debt, including mortgages. That's about $2 trillion nationwide. And consumers are saving less than ever. In the last four years, you've saved less than 1 percent of your income.

VELSHI: We didn't save for a rainy day because for so long we didn't see that rainy day, and now it's pouring and nobody bothered to stop to buy an umbrella, even if you could charge it to your credit card.

KAYE (on camera): We know it's not all your fault. You've been bombarded with offers of chief credit and bigger home loans. But consumers seem to have lost any sense of discipline. When the banks told you you could afford more house than you needed, too many of you jumped on it.

VELSHI: At some point personal responsibility needed to kick in, and you needed to say, "You know what? I really can't afford this."

KAYE (voice-over): But with all this easy credit, how could you? Especially when your neighbor's house is bigger, your best friend drives a nicer car, and television shows like this one hammer home bigger, better, more.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can't throw a party for 500 grand.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At least not a good one. Nick, economies of scale.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you even know what that means?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. But you know what I think I mean. And that's what matters.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We need two million.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need two million.

KAYE: Instant gratification. Easy credit makes it possible. Remember when you had to actually save up for what you wanted? Now you just charge it. Credit card approval takes minutes. And those fancy cars, instead of buying them, since you couldn't really afford them, you started leasing them.

VELSHI: Car leasing was a contributing factor to our idea that we didn't have to cut back. You could always get more than you thought you could afford.

KAYE: So forget what Gordon Gekko told you years ago.

MICHAEL DOUGLAS, ACTOR: Greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right. Greed works.

KAYE: He lied. But maybe you believed him. Living beyond your means has earned you, the consumer, a place among our "Ten Most Wanted Culprits of the Collapse."

Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.


COOPER: So let's make it official. You, all of us to be precise -- we're including ourselves in this -- join our "Ten Most Wanted List." We began with Joe Cassano from AIG, covered a rogues' gallery that was ten names long, but actually, it doesn't end there.

In the weeks ahead, in the nights ahead, look for us to keep naming names and keep expanding this list and keep looking out for you.

Up next, more from "Saturday Night Live": Tina Fey with a new take on Sarah Palin. She has some special guests with her. It's our "Shot of the Day."

And at the top of the hour 12 days to go until both camps are fighting hard. Well, until the election, both camps are fighting hard in battleground states across the country. We're on the trail.


COOPER: All right. Time now for our "Beat 360" winners, our daily challenge to viewers to come up with a caption better than the one any of us around here could think of. Tonight's picture: Obama at a rally yesterday in Richmond, Virginia.

Our staffer winner, Alyssa. Her caption: "Whoa, ladies, it's not that kind of rally. I can't take it off."

Our viewer winner is Clark. His caption: "Please, be quiet or you'll wake up the Republican Party."

KAYE: Nice.

(SOUND EFFECT: "Ooooh!")

COOPER; Clark, your "Beat 360" T-shirt is on the way. Congratulations. You can check out all the entries on our blog and play along.

Randi, now time for our "Shot of the Day." The folks at "Saturday Night Live" provided some more chuckles tonight, other than the spoof on John King's magic map that we showed you earlier.

KAYE: Played it (ph).

COOPER: Tina Fey played the part of Sarah Palin once again -- imagine that -- and she had some company. Take a look.


WILL FERRELL, FORMER CAST MEMBER, NBC'S "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE": When you think of John McCain think of me, George W. Bush. Think of this face. When you're in the voting booth, before you vote, think -- right here. A vote for John McCain is a vote for George W. Bush. You're welcome. I want to be there for you, John, for the next eight years.


FERRELL: I think I blinked on that last shot. Thumbs up everybody.



Back to the real contest at the top of the hour. New polling, new endorsements for Barack Obama. For John McCain, the first mile (ph), his latest drive for a comeback. He's done it before. Can he do it again? Some new insight when 360 continues.


COOPER: New developments tonight in the campaign. New polling numbers, new endorsements, including a surprising endorsement from a former top official in the Bush administration and, no, we're not talking about Colin Powell.

And with new reports of tension within the McCain campaign, his latest search for a game changer. A Joe the plumber bus tour with barely 12 days to go until America votes.

The new polling shows the Obama lead growing, now nine points in tonight's CNN poll of polls, up two points from last night. Statewide polling also showing a durable Obama lead, with the Illinois Democrat leading or tied in ten states that President Bush won in 2004.

Also new surprising statements from Sarah Palin. A lot happening in this hour. A lot to cover, starting with Senator Obama and Candy Crowley on the trail.


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It is a telling measure of this campaign that 12 days before the election the Democratic nominee is in one of the most Republican states in the country.

OBAMA: How's it going, Indiana?

CROWLEY: In this state that George Bush won by 21 points, Obama trails McCain by just five. Win or lose, the fact that Obama showed up in the Hoosier State at this point speaks to a candidate with time and money on his hands and to an issue that crosses state lines.

OBAMA: The Dow plummeted again yesterday.