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McCain Campaign Points Fingers at Obama; Strain Behind Scenes of McCain Campaign; Ballot Initiative would Block Adoptions for Unmarried Couples

Aired October 29, 2008 - 19:00:00   ET


JANE VELEZ MITCHELL, HOST (voice-over): Tonight, campaign craziness continues with just six days until the election. From effigies, to parodies.

PARIS HILTON, HOTEL HEIRESS: I approve this message.

VELEZ MITCHELL: To Obama`s infinite infomercial.

So here are my issues. First, McCain critics, a monumental comeback not seen since 1948. But now he`s going up against not only Obama, but the Phillies and the Rays. I`ll explain.

And clinging to guns. And signage? A man shoots a teenager during a front yard battle over his McCain/Palin sign. Is this a sign of voter madness?

Plus, the latest on the triple murder of Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson`s family. Did the primary person of interest have a get-away man? And why wasn`t this dirt bag off the streets in the first place?

These issues and a whole lot more right now.


VELEZ MITCHELL: Hello, everyone. Welcome to "ISSUES."

Six days to go and this election is getting really ugly. The McCain campaign accuses the "L.A. Times" of holding back a videotape that could be very damaging to Barack Obama. It reportedly shows Obama at a 2003 party for a Palestinian-American professor who is a critic of Israel. Here`s what Sarah Palin said a little while ago.


GOV. SARAH PALIN (R-AK), VICE-PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: We know that some very derogatory things were said there about Israel, and about America`s support for that great nation. And among other things, Israel was described there as the perpetrator of terrorism instead of the victim.

What we don`t know -- what we don`t know is how Barack Obama responded to these slurs on a country that he now professes to support. And the reason that we do not know is that the newspaper that has the tape, the "Los Angeles Times," refuses to release it.


VELEZ MITCHELL: Wow, that is strong stuff. The McCain campaign calls Rashid Khalidi a former spokesman for the PLO, which he denies. Is this the October surprise so many had predicted?

The Obama campaign outraged by this turn, calling the insinuation, again, that he is palling around with terrorists somehow, completely false.

Here is my issue. I`ve been expecting something like this. Here it is. Because this is politics, and we`re six days from an election. And John McCain is behind in the polls. And there is a history of 11th hour attempts to snatch victory from defeat.

Let`s go straight to our panel, John Avalon, former Giuliani advisor and author of "Independent Nation"; Cheri Jacobus, Republican strategist and president of Capital Strategies PR; and Greg Palast, a writer at the "Rolling Stone."

Greg, let`s start with you. Is this desperate, dirty tricks by the McCain camp?

GREG PALAST, WRITER, "ROLLING STONE": Oh, come on. So Obama shares a pita bread with some Palestinian. Let me remind you, Sami al Arian, that Guy was a spokesman for Hamas. He was funneling money to terrorist organizations, and he was the head of George Bush`s Florida campaign to the Arab community in 2000.

Does that make George Bush a member of al Qaeda? It`s nothing like what Bush did with al Arian at all.

VELEZ MITCHELL: Now John Avalon, this is actually an old story. They`re saying "The Los Angeles Times" is expressing this. The "Los Angeles Times" is saying, "Hey, we`re the ones who did the story. We took the videotape and reported on it. But we promised a source we weren`t going to release the videotape. So we`re not. But we reported on all this last spring."

This is an old story that some say is being regurgitated by the Republicans at this time because they`re losing.

JOHN AVALON, AUTHOR, "INDEPENDENT NATION": That`s exactly right. That`s why this has a desperate air about it. I mean, this does come from a story from April, in which it referred to the existence of the videotape.

And what`s strange is this accusation is so out of the Republican wheelhouse about raising doubts about Barack Obama, to raise it now six days out, almost seems like they forgot about it and some staffer said, "Hey, wait, there`s still something left in the kitchen sink to throw at the other Guy." So it`s a bit dodgy.

VELEZ MITCHELL: Cheri Jacobus, you`re the Republican strategist. What do you say about this? Could this boomerang? People are getting thrown out of their houses. Their 401(k)s are in the toilet. And do they really care about some dinner in 2003 where some Palestinian professor was with Barack Obama?

CHERI JACOBUS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: OK. I`m going to put a little bit of dose reality in this. It was more than just this dinner. There`s a history of the association. And I think what`s disturbing, if it were just this situation, people might be able to brush it off.

What I find disturbing is the fact that you`re merely reporting that Sarah Palin is repeating the "L.A. Times" stories, and there have been several stories, by the way. It has been talked about in some corners for quite some time.

What`s disturbing to me is that the mainstream media has not been looking into this a little bit more. It is very important. Tonight, we have a 30-minute piece of propaganda being put on the air by Barack Obama. The real news, his real words...

VELEZ MITCHELL: Wait a minute. Propaganda? I mean, Ross Perot did it. Hillary Clinton even did it with...


VELEZ MITCHELL: And what we`re talking about that, is in less than an hour, Barack Obama is going to have a half hour, some call it an infomercial, on several networks. It`s costing several million dollars. But you know what?

JACOBUS: Jane...

VELEZ MITCHELL: With his money, the campaign worker, campaign donors gave him, the average donation well under $100.

JACOBUS: No question that they`ve got a lot more money than John McCain. He chose to go back on his word and not take public financing. They`ve got the money and that`s the way the system works. But what I find uncomfortable and what I think a lot of people might find uncomfortable is that we have all of this news that is being suppressed in the eyes of many people.


VELEZ MITCHELL: You know what, jump in here.

JACOBUS: Why can`t the "L.A. Times" at least put out a transcript, but they won`t put out the videotape?

VELEZ MITCHELL: They made a promise to their source.

JACOBUS: About the videotape, Jane, not the transcript. Not the transcript.

VELEZ MITCHELL: If you get somebody who comes in with a tape and says, "Here, I want you to take a look at it, but I don`t want you to do this; I don`t want you to do that. You can report on it, but you can only do that." And you make an agreement with that person.

Greg, you`re the reporter for "Rolling Stone." Don`t -- jump in here.

PALAST: OK. It`s a budget junket. Why do we care? So we have a picture of Obama eating a falafel. It doesn`t really matter. He already went before APAC and said he wanted to move the capital of Israel to Jerusalem. That`s pretty dramatic. I mean, I can tell you that, that Mr. Khalidi is probably choking on his pita right now.

JACOBUS: What people care about are the things that are said in private before he was running for president, what he said to these people. And if you read some of the blogs today, people allegedly saw part of the tape, it doesn`t look good. It`s very important that it gets out and the American people can make their own determination. The "L.A. Times" is protecting Barack Obama...


VELEZ MITCHELL: They`re protecting their source. If we, as journalists, simply throw our sources to the wolves every time we get something juicy, we get pressure, then you know, forget about it.


JACOBUS: ... the transcript. You`re talking about the videotape. That`s one thing. But the transcript is a whole different story.

PALAST: No, it`s not.

JACOBUS: I find it very, very disturbing. And I think a lot of Americans do. And that`s why seeing this paid piece tonight for 30 minutes, but all of this stuff suppressed, really gives a bad message to the American people. You can`t blame them for that.

VELEZ MITCHELL: I would like John Avalon, who`s the independent, to jump in on this conversation. Let`s talk a little bit about this half hour that`s going to appear on various networks. And by the way, CNN is not one of those networks. They declined to run this half-hour infomercial.

I mean, Barack Obama has raised more money than any presidential candidate in the history of politics. Something like $600 million. Average donor was less than $100. They gave him money. They said, "Here, use this to get elected."

AVALON: Yes. I mean, the independent take on this is simple. One, Barack Obama did break his promise to not take -- take matching funds. But he`s had an unprecedented success in creating a grassroots army of fund- raising. And this is what you do, closing argument from a campaign that is flush with cash.

It is not propaganda, any more than any other campaign ad is propaganda. And to throw Goebbels-like words around just to intentionally distort this from the facts of the election right now.

The Republicans need to make a positive case. And I think they can, running against unified control. But trying to trump up this -- doubts and disturbing accusations about Barack Obama, and his associations, smacks of desperation, not truth.

VELEZ MITCHELL: Well, let`s talk about the polls, because the polls, well, do they or don`t they lie? Let`s see. CNN`s poll of poll, which doesn`t lie, the average of all the other polls, because let`s face it, there is significant and disturbing discrepancy between these polls. Take a look at this. This is really fascinating. While Gallup has Obama up by just two, Pew has him up by 15.

Now why is there such a disparity? Greg, you`re a student of politics. How is this possible?

PALAST: It has to do with the steal. When they`re doing elections, when they`re measuring the polls, they`re determining whether somebody is actually going to vote. They only measure the -- what they call the likely voters, not all the voters. That`s the difference in these polls.

But what`s happening here is they`re discounting the new and young voters who are considered unlikely voters. So they discount in many of the polls the Obama factor.

However, what they`re not including is a factor that about three million people are going to be challenged by the Republican Party on election day. I`m saying it here now. Watch it; it`s going to be a mass challenge. It`s going to be an attack on the right to vote in America on election day. Watch for it.

VELEZ MITCHELL: You know, things are getting...

JACOBUS: Wait, I think he needs to back it up with his evidence.


VELEZ MITCHELL: We`re going to -- he did a whole story on it in "Rolling Stone."

JACOBUS: But how can you -- how can you even have a reasonable discussion without throwing ACORN into this? It`s ridiculous.

VELEZ MITCHELL: You just threw it in. There you go. You know, I say the fish sticks are ahead, because things are also getting ugly on the street.

Get this. Saturday an Ohio man fired a loaded rifle -- a loaded rifle -- at two teenagers who were trying to deface his McCain sign, actually hitting one of them with a bullet in the arm. That is simply insane. Coo- coo for Cocoa Puffs.

But you know, if that what we`re going to see. When you talk about this, you know, this is a few days away from the election, are we going to see even more craziness, Greg, on election day? If you`re even half right about what you`re saying, about what`s going to happen at the polls on election day.

PALAST: We`ve had one in five voters in the state of Colorado removed from the voter rolls by the Republican secretary of state, who makes Katherine Harris look like Thomas Jefferson.

We`re tired of this stuff. The Republican Party is mounting a mass challenge campaign. This is not being reported in the U.S. press, which is supposedly Obama-controlled. There is a mass challenge going on of voters. They`ve been purging voters state to state; 2.7 million voters have been purged in the United States for no darn good reason. And you know what?

JACOBUS: Wow, that`s like Obama purging people off the petition when he ran for state senate and knocked Alice Palmer out.

He`s an expert at getting people knocked off lists for voting for no reason at all.

VELEZ MITCHELL: Let`s have the independent jump in.

AVALON: To your point, I mean, this is trick-or-treat season on the campaign trail right now. Things are starting to get a little crazy. So you can hear from the guests, passions are running high. The partisans are deeply polarized, and it`s starting to bleed out into the voters.

Things like that -- the volunteer in Pittsburgh who claimed that she was assaulted and had a "B" carved in her cheek. You know, and violence on the campaign trail, left and right. And the paranoia that`s being stoked by the Internet and fueled by the campaigns, who are trying at this point to use fear on both sides to get out the vote.

This is not what the American people want. This is not what we were promised. This was supposed to be an election between two folks who are genuine uniters. And it`s sad to see it degenerate this way from the folks on the ground, getting so angry and heated and bitter towards each other.

VELEZ MITCHELL: John, what I have to say is promises, promises. But hang on, all of you. John, Cheri, Greg, stay right there.

More ugliness. This within the Republican ranks. Some say there`s a civil war brewing over whether Sarah Palin should be anointed the future of the party, should McCain lose. Is she already making her moves for 2012?

And we`re going to bring you exclusive information, courtesy of TNZ, which now says there is a disturbing drug back story to the murders involving Jennifer Hudson`s family.

Also, have police found the smoking gun? And we`re talking literally.

And was there a wheel man helping to commit these awful crimes? Stick around, lots of news for you.


VELEZ MITCHELL: Some McCain aides are reportedly making no secret of their disdain for GOP vice-presidential nominee, Sarah Palin. Remember, one anonymously called her a diva who takes no advice from anybody. And now another one, anonymously, of course, called her a whack job. Don`t you love politics? If I didn`t know any better, I would think those McCain aides were secretly working for Obama.

As the frustration grows, so does speculation suggesting Palin is more concerned about setting herself up for a presidential run in 2012. And now, in an ABC "20/20" interview set to air this Friday, Governor Palin has pretty much said as much, confirmed that suspicion, saying she didn`t get into this for nothing.

Back again with me are John Avalon, former Giuliani advisor and author of "Independent Nation"; Cheri Jacobus, Republican strategist and president of Capital Strategies PF; and Greg palace, a writer from the "Rolling Stone."

Now, here`s my take. We wouldn`t be discussing Sarah Palin and her future if she wasn`t, let`s say, as good looking as a cheerleader and as charismatic as a cult leader. I mean, she`s got magnetism. But this is really more about the importance of personality in a TV world, don`t you think, Greg?

PALAST: Well, you know, as soon as the Democrats heard she may be running in 2012, they all said, "Yes!" I think the Democrats -- the Democrats started the rumor. In fact, they`re funding her campaign. I`ve heard the rumors myself.

VELEZ MITCHELL: All right. Well, let`s give Cheri a chance to respond to this as the Republican. Do you feel that it`s sort of betraying McCain at this point to tell "20/20," "Hey, I`m not in this for nothing. I`m not heading back to Alaska, and I`m planning on my future"? Shouldn`t she sort of dispel all the rumors that she`s thinking ahead, because it implies that he`s going to lose, that they`re going to lose?

JACOBUS: Actually, I saw that quote, and I`m not quite sure that`s what she meant. She mean she`s not in it for naught. She`s going to go through all this `til Tuesday and fight as hard as she can.

Look, with regard to her own future, and what others in the party might be saying, I would think she`d be a natural. She`s very good for the party. And we`re seeing now, as these numbers start closing in the polls, that she`s doing a very good job out there. She and John McCain are a very good team. With regard to the...

VELEZ MITCHELL: How can you say she`s good for the party when her unfavorables have skyrocketed, and he`s hit a series of bumps ever since she was chosen?

JACOBUS: Well, this goes back to the issue of her possibly being mishandled. I think she`s come back from that. I think a lot of people like the fact that she`s taken reins and she`s being herself out there. So you do the daily tracking; it`s starting to look better.

With regard to the couple of McCain staffers who made these comments about here -- her, I would just want to explain something. There are a core of really good people around John McCain that have been with him since `99, 2000, and they understand him very well. They understand why he chose Sarah Palin with regard to what she`s done in Alaska, how she got where she is without being a part of any party machine or big political machine. They get her.

Once they got down to the other, more establishment folks in the campaign, who might have been Bush folks, who know how to run an establishment Republican campaign, they didn`t quite get her. And for them to make these types of comments about her, you know. Quite frankly, I think she did it their way for awhile. She decided it didn`t work for her, and she said, "No way." They have no right to complain.

VELEZ MITCHELL: There`s not just a culture war, John Avalon, in the country. There`s a culture war within the Republican Party where the intellectuals feels she`s dumbed it down and where the evangelicals think she`s the best thing since sliced bread.

AVALON: Yes, I think you`re right. Look, Sarah Palin has proven to be a deeply polarizing figure in American politics. And I think she`s damaged John McCain`s campaign, because polls show one of the No. 1 reason people are not voting for McCain, those who aren`t, is because of doubts about Sarah Palin`s readiness to serve as VP.

But she has excited the base. But at the expense of reaching out to the center. And if -- as the Republicans go to the wilderness, if John McCain would lose this (ph), they need to understand two things. You`re going to see a lot of folks right now, the problem was he wasn`t conservative enough. That is precisely wrong.

The only reason that John McCain`s running ahead of the Republican brand is because of his independence, not in spite of it. And Sarah Palin will squander that overnight if she`s put forward.

JACOBUS: I think you`re right about this. I think the tide is turning. There`s a real backlash because of what the press and the comedians and what the Democrats, what they have done to Sarah Palin and what they have said about her. You have a lot of people out there, Democratic women, high-profile Democratic women, you know, big Clinton supporters, Linda Thompson (ph) saying, you know, maybe we need to take another look at her.


VELEZ MITCHELL: Greg, do you think her looks bewitched McCain? In other words, do you think if she was sort of shufti (ph), verging on senior citizen, that he would have picked her, given her credentials?

JACOBUS: Oh, God. I can`t even believe you`re asking that question, Jane.

PALAST: This is dangerous stuff. This is dangerous stuff. My wife is watching. OK. The answer is no. I think that it was cold-blooded in the sense that McCain`s handlers are saying, "Let`s go for the chick." OK? I think it`s dangerous. I think it was sexist to pick her.


VELEZ MITCHELL: But there are a lot of women who were more qualified in the Republican ranks, Cheri.

JACOBUS: But the sexist statement that you just made about...

PALAST: I didn`t make -- I didn`t choose Sarah Palin.

JACOBUS: Listen, Sarah Palin, Governor Palin is the most popular governor in the United States of America.

PALAST: If you count moose. If you count the moose.

JACOBUS: She has done things that -- she`s done things in Alaska that professional politicians that have been in this business for decades only wish they knew how to do, they can learn from her.

For you to sit there and assume that, because she`s an attractive woman or because she`s a female that`s how she got picked. You know, guys like you really make women in this country sick, whether we`re Republican or Democrat.

PALAST: Guys like me?


VELEZ MITCHELL: We`re going to give you the last word, Cheri. So as a woman, you had the last word. And...

JACOBUS: Big backlash this is going to have.

VELEZ MITCHELL: We`re heading to -- we`re heading to another exciting but very disturbing story. An American exchange student faces trial in Italy for the brutal slaying of her British roommate in a very picturesque Italian town. Tales of sex games gone wrong.


VELEZ MITCHELL: As we`ve been saying, just six days until the election, and we`re looking at some of the more controversial ballot initiatives voters will face next Tuesday.

Tonight, a proposal on the Arkansas ballot is seeking to ban -- get this -- ban unmarried couples living together from fostering or adopting children. Critics say such a ban would discriminate against unmarried couples, obviously, and suggests the real motivation behind this proposal is a thinly-disguised attempt to ban gay and lesbian couples from becoming adoptive parents.

Here with me now, Jerry Cox, president of Arkansas Family Council Action Committee, the group pushing this measure.

Let me use a famous example. We both know Angelina Jolie and Madonna have both adopted children. So what you`re suggesting is that actress and U.N. goodwill ambassador Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt are not fit to adopt kids in your state, because they`re not married, but Madonna and Guy Ritchie are fit, because they are married, even though they`re getting divorced. Does that really make any sense?

JERRY COX, PRESIDENT, ARKANSAS FAMILY COUNCIL ACTION COMMITTEE: Well, let me tell you what makes sense. We -- in this country...

VELEZ MITCHELL: Please, tell me.

COX: ... we always put the welfare of children ahead of the rights of adults. And so people want to focus on, well, what`s best for the adult, what`s best for this couple?

What we`re saying is, this is about justice for children who are in the foster care system here in Arkansas.


COX: And so when you look at it from that point of view, then absolutely, this law makes all the sense in the world.

VELEZ MITCHELL: That`s slightly upside-down logic, because there are 129,000 children waiting to be adopted in 2006. And the vast majority of them are desperate for homes.

And now for the first time in American history, recently, unmarried couples, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, are the majority. Married couples are the minority.

So you`re saying most Americans shouldn`t be allowed to adopt kids, only married couples, even though there are all these kids waiting desperately for good homes, and are sitting in foster care languishing, sometimes being out on the streets as throw-away kids, ending up in child prostitution. But that`s better than ending up with an unmarried couple.

COX: Well, let me tell you what. We could put every child in foster care. In fact, every child in foster care was in a home somewhere. If our goal was just to find a home for the children, we should have left them where they were. But we didn`t, because we value child welfare in this country. And especially in my state, we value it.

And in fact, the Department of Human Services, until just the other day, had a policy that exactly mirrors this law regarding foster care. And so evidently, they thought it was a good idea. The professional child-care workers thought it was a great idea.

VELEZ MITCHELL: Let me get to one other issue, because we`re short on time here.

COX: Sure.

VELEZ MITCHELL: In 2006 Arkansas` Supreme Court struck down a state policy that banned gays from becoming foster parents. A lot of people think this is a sly way to basically try to stop gays from becoming foster parents.

COX: This issue doesn`t say anything about gay or straight.

VELEZ MITCHELL: It doesn`t. But it has the same effect as the law that was struck down.

COX: It has the effect of saying that children will not be placed in homes where there`s a live-in boyfriend or a live-in girlfriend. That`s a great policy, because the state of Arkansas has had that for years. They just recently said, "Maybe we ought to reverse it." The voters of Arkansas are going to have the chance on November 4 to put that good policy into law.

VELEZ MITCHELL: Well, we are almost out of time. But I think I hear you. And I thank you for joining us. And I just want to let you know that most of the people that I know, including myself, would be unable to adopt under that law if it passes. And I don`t think of myself as a perv. I think I`d be a good parent if I chose to be one.

We`re hearing from "TMZ" tonight, which is breaking an exclusive story on drugs and the murders of the family of "Dreamgirls" star Jennifer Hudson. All sorts of new developments. Stay with us. We`ll have it in a second.



MICHELE DAVIS BALFOUR, MOTHER OF WILLIAM BALFOUR: If William Balfour is right, no means am I going to shoot her cold in the face. I know my son didn`t do this.


JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HN ANCHOR: Stunning new developments tonight. The mother of the person of interest in the Chicago slayings of superstar Jennifer Hudson`s family comes to her son`s defense.

But of course, that`s what you would expect a mother to do. The mother is the person always there at any defendant`s side to the very end. Mom is there.

This just in, police recovered a weapon they believe could be connected to last week`s murders. Police are also asking tonight, did the person of interest, William Balfour, have a get-away driver in the triple homicide case of Jennifer Hudson`s mom, brother and nephew?

Could they be arresting another person soon. With me now, Mike Walters, assignment manager at TMZ; the website has an exclusive on this case. It has just broken.

Mike, what is it the very latest?

MIKE WALTERS, ASSIGNMENT MANAGER, TMZ: Jane, yes, we obtained some documents, and arrest records from 2002, that basically paints some interesting picture for this house where the murders took place.

Basically it was the subject of a drug raid. Gregory King, who is the father of young Julian, and Jason Hudson, the deceased brother, were arrested for allegedly selling crack cocaine to an informant of the police department.

So basically -- actually also, Julia, the mother, was arrested during the same raid. And basically what we found out through these documents is that all three of these people are in front of the house, you know, the cops come up, they arrest them, and basically it`s the same exact house in which this all took place; these murders took place.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So essentially what we`re learning if these documents are accurate is that drugs were a factor in this family`s dysfunctional life long before these murders occurred?

WALTERS: Yes. I`ll tell you what, Jane, I mean, basically it does seem to throw open a couple more doors in the legal investigation and also in some motive investigation. Yes, basically there was definitely some drug dealing going on.

WALTERS: I`m jumping in, Mike, you`re saying that there was drug dealing going on at this house, and that that could be a factor in the murders? In other words, the dispute, everybody`s trying to figure out motive, and we heard just yesterday it was possibly an unpaid car payment that they were fighting about? You`re saying, maybe it`s deeper than that?

WALTERS: Yes, definitely. I mean, this could be something that they definitely look at right now. If the fact of the matter is that the deceased brother, Jason, was involved in a drug deal at this home. Also was the father of Julian. This could definitely make a difference in the investigation into what the motives could be.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tell us about the gun found at or near the scene.

WALTERS: So yes, they just found a weapon that police believe could be linked to all three murders. We know that there`s a .45 caliber bullet they found in the bodies. At this point, we don`t know if it`s a match, obviously, to the gun.

But we do know it`s a semiautomatic weapon. They found it in a lot near where the suburban was found with young Julian`s body. Police at this point obviously as you know are going to have to do some ballistic testing and figure out whether or not the partnership of interest, William Balfour, they can connect forensically to this gun.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Mike, what about the possibility of an accomplice? We`re hearing of a possible wheel man, a get-away driver.

WALTERS: Yes. Right now, at this point, police are looking into surveillance tapes that they have got, and cell phone records which don`t match with William Balfour`s story.

Basically there`s a car, a Chrysler, which was seen on the video parked in front of a high school. And then when they ran the cell phone records of William Balfour, it doesn`t match that he was in this area, he was on the other side of town.

So in other words, I actually -- we at TMZ actually spoke to a neighbor who claims they say the same exact thing, two different people coming out of this house and two different vehicles. So yes, there could be another person here.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Mike, that is fascinating, great work. And you have to wonder, what is the motive for that second person? And it certainly adds credence to your theory, Mike, that it might be more than just a domestic, that maybe there are drugs involved.

Good seeing you again. We used to work together. And I`m glad to have you on the show. Please come back.

WALTERS: Great pleasure to you Jane.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: How is it possible that while on parole, after an attempted murder conviction, just this past June, William Balfour was caught reportedly in possession of cocaine and still his parole was not revoked?

Pam Bondi, Florida State Prosecutor. Pam, how did this dirt bag fall through the cracks of our legal system, and is the entire parole system broken?

PAM BONDI, FLORIDA STATE PROSECUTOR: That`s a great question. And he certainly fell through the cracks of the parole system. I can tell you Jane, in Florida, our Parole Board, they`re very, very tough. And you can`t look at that violation in a vacuum. You have to look at all the factors involved.

First of all, they should have looked at what he was charged with. He was out on parole on attempted murder. We know the facts of that. He jumped -- he stole a guy`s suburban. The guy who owned the car jumped on the hood. He sped off and he intentionally rammed into a pole trying to kill the man who owned the car.

So he goes to prison for that. And when you get out on parole, you walk a very, very fine line.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And then he was caught with, allegedly with cocaine, and they still didn`t revoke his parole. On top of that he failed to take anger management classes. He failed a whole bunch of requirements. And they still didn`t revoke his parole.

BONDI: When he got the new drug charge, even though that was eventually thrown out, it`s a very low standard; it`s preponderance of the evidence to violate someone on a parole violation. That`s a very low standard, as you know. What they should have looked at also is the guy had never taken substance abuse classes as well. So they should have looked at all of that.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We`re looking at his rap sheet right now. I mean, this rap sheet goes on and on and on. And it was actually a case of, he fell through the cracks. One of the officials said, you know, this happens all the time. Most inmates violate parole. Is that possibly true?

BONDI: Well, most inmates violate, but what the courts do, what the parole commission does is they look at the violation. But you also have to look at, like I said, what he had been in prison for. It wasn`t for grand theft or a property crime, but it wasn`t, he was in for a very violent crime. He hadn`t completed his substance abuse classes. He hadn`t completed anger management.

Then we also know on August -- August 27th we learn that his parole reviewer goes to his house, knocks on the door, which they have every right to do, his girlfriend wouldn`t open the door, said he was at work, yet he wasn`t scheduled to be at work for hours.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, and it goes on and on and on. And let me just clarify. We`re talking about the person of interest in this case, who is married to Julia Hudson, who is the sister of Jennifer Hudson, the "Dream Girls" superstar. And of course, tragically she has lost three members of her family.

William Balfour, the person of interest.

Let`s listen to his mother once again.


MICHELE BALFOUR: You put my son`s face on worldwide news like he`s a killer of them. You are not saying that my son obtained his GED while he was in the correctional facility. You all are not saying that my son took up horticulture while he was there. William is a very smart and intelligent young man.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: You know but Pam, it turns out that in this family, there is also a history of violence and criminality, tragically, Balfour`s father and brother also served time in prison.

So it seems that everybody in this particular dynamic has a troubled past involving -- in one way or another, serving time or drugs. And I`m certainly not including Jennifer Hudson in that. And we want to point out that this Balfour hasn`t been charged with any crime yet. He`s simply a person of interest in this case.

And, you know, this whole family, though, on both sides, because he was sort of a member of the family through marriage to Julia, seems very troubled. Is that a common pattern?

BONDI: Well, yes, it is. And Balfour`s father was in prison for 30 years for murdering someone. So, you know, that was the environment in which he grew up.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, Pam. Thank you so much. This is such a disturbing case. And obviously this entire community needs help. They need more police protection.

And also, there has to be a change in education of generation after generation, is getting into trouble. And various family members are in all sorts of trouble.

What we need is violence prevention in the schools. And we need to teach these kids peaceful conflict resolution. It`s that simple. It has to start with education.

All right, don`t forget, Nancy Grace will have the very latest on the Hudson family murders tonight at 8:00 p.m. Eastern. Don`t miss it.

A British student had her throat slit. And now Italian police are saying that this angle-faced college student from Seattle may have been holding the knife.



EDDA MELLAS, MOTHER OF AMANDA KNOX: Well, I mean, I just worry about her and the toll this is all going to take on her -- on her life. Again, I don`t fear that they`re going to find her guilty because her lawyers, you know, really say that that`s not going to happen. There is no evidence. There is no motive. There is nothing.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: That is the mother of American exchange student and murder defendant Amanda Knox, desperately defending her daughter on "Good Morning America." Amanda Knox will stand trial in Italy for the brutal slaying of her roommate, 21-year-old British student, Meredith Kercher.

Kercher was found in her bedroom raped and stabbed in the neck after a Halloween party last year in the medieval Italian town of Perugia. Prosecutors say she was the unwilling participant of a sex game gone horribly wrong.

Another student charged with the Kercher`s death, Ivory Coast national Rudy Gawada, was found guilty of murder and sexual assault yesterday. And he just got 30 years in prison.

Amanda and her former boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, will stand trial in just over a month. What a crazy case. What an awful case.

Joining me now with the very latest in this ghoulish case is Monica Lindtsrom, a criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor and my dear friend Ashleigh Banfield, an anchor of "In Session." Ashleigh, great to have you on this show, you cover so many of these horrific cases.

But this one is different because it actually sounds like a plot or some kind of x-rated slasher movie. Give us the back story of this sex game alleged gone wrong.

ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, ANCHOR, "IN SESSION": Well, here`s the hard part. Since we have a conviction, we can usually say this is what`s come out in trial testimony.

But in this case we can`t, because this conviction was done in secret; a fast-track process that doesn`t allow public access. So we`re really no further along with this conviction and knowing the details than we were before.

But generally speaking what people are alleging at this point, at least prosecutors anyway, is that this American student, Amanda Knox, might have actually held the shard of glass that slit the throat of the young victim in this case. That`s a sad story for Meredith Kercher`s parents to have to listen to.

But they`ve had to listen to it. And they`ve been in court. In any case, there were two co-defendants alleged by prosecutors who may have held Meredith down; the one who is convicted today and another Italian student.

The strangeness, Jane, comes in with how it may have gone down. If prosecutors are right, they say there were weird comic books that had all sorts of strange sex scenarios and killings of vampires that may have played out the same way the crime scene did. They also say that the poor victim in this case may have been lured into an orgy that she didn`t want to be part of, and according to prosecutors that Amanda actually killed her.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Why does it sound like, and please confirm or deny this, drugs were involved, Ashleigh?

BANFIELD: Well, you`re not wrong there. Drugs have been an integral part of this since the beginning. Amanda has changed her story several times. First saying I was there, I was at the house when it happened. I wasn`t in the room. I heard her scream, but I plugged my ears. And I was high.

Then she changed her story to say, I was at my boyfriend`s apartment all night and wasn`t there. And I`m very confused about all of this. Her boyfriend has also said that he was on drugs at the time as well. I think they said the drug of choice was hashish.

So drugs have played a role in this. But a lot of evidence has also played a role; a very, very strong evidence.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And certainly not shocking, just the last story we cover drugs played a role. I mean, when people do really bizarre and crazy things, usually they don`t do it when they`re stone cold sober. And I say that as a recovering alcoholic with 13 1/2 years of sobriety. It`s an amazing difference between being intoxicated and being un-intoxicated.

And there you see or one of the defendants in this case. What`s so fascinating, Monica Lindstrom, is that they`re all very good looking. And that`s one of the reasons why this case has gotten such international attention.

But, you know, there`s a lot of people that feel that the defendant, Amanda Knox, is so cute, she`s too cute to kill. Where does that crazy concept come from because we hear it all the time?

MONICA LINDSTROM, FORMER PROSECUTOR: Well, first of all, that`s just crazy, bottom line crazy. Justice is supposed to be blind. It doesn`t matter if you`re good looking or ugly. If you`re a murder, you`re a murderer. And that`s clearly what the prosecutors are going for here.

Just like you said, this sounds like a terrible, terrible plot for a movie. But this is real life. And Amanda Knox has some real life problems with her defense here.

Number one, as Ashleigh pointed out is her credibility. She has told stories here and there, and everywhere. She makes them up when she wants to. She made them up in her diary in jail. She`s pointing fingers at other people. She`s claiming she was on drugs. Her credibility is completely shot.

So her lawyers are going to have to look somewhere else to try to get her out of this. I don`t think they`re going to be successful. But they`re going to probably have to come down to the strategy of pointing fingers at each other. Not that she`s too cute to be a killer, but that she wasn`t as involved as people think or she wasn`t strong enough to do what the prosecutors are claiming.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But you know Ashleigh, I`ve got to say, you hear this all the time. And we end up covering defendants who are better looking than defendants who aren`t, because people are interested in them.

And actually surveys and ratings and everything else show that they`re much more likely to be interested when people involved, when it`s an exotic locale, which this certainly is, when you have attractive people on either side, the victim is very attractive, the defendants are very attractive, do you find that frustrating?

Or do you think -- hey, that`s human nature? People are going to be interested in attractive people?

BANFIELD: Yes, and yes. So yes, it`s frustrating, because it`s not just. But it is what people tend to gravitate towards. Look, Scott Peterson was not a celebrity before the killing of Laci Peterson. But he`s sure a celebrity now.

Same with Neil Entwistle killing his wife and fleeing to England and there`s a bit of an element in this crime, too, because the guy who was convicted also fled to Germany and saying that he was scared for his life which is the same thing that you know Entwistle did after killing his wife.

So yes, it`s sad but also Jane, there`s an element of intrigue, mystery and money. That often tends to add to the story, too.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, apparently there`s a defense strategy here, some predict that Ashleigh will point the finger at the guy who was already convicted. And he was so afraid of that, he asked to be tried separately because he thought that the two of them, in other words, Ashley and her then boyfriend, who is also charged, were going to conspire together to blame it all on him.

What can you tell us about that, Ashleigh, this sort of intrigue? Because we know in game theory three is an unstable combination. And this menage of whatever it was, definitely turned very ugly.

BANFIELD: Well, it`s always a good idea if you`re in a defense with co-defendants to do this; blame the other guy. And technically in this case that`s pretty much what we`re expecting to hear as well.

Rudi Gawada, opted to the fast-track trial process in Italy, and often times you get lesser sentences for that. It`s a secretive process. He figured he would going to have to face a pact against him from the other two co-defendants.

But listen, there`s a lot of evidence in this case that`s very damning to these two other defendants particularly towards Raffaele, a bloody footprint, some DNA, an alibi that does not check-out. So, look, they may want to blame each other, but there`s plenty of hard CSI kind of stuff that`s going to make its way into this courtroom, if a plea isn`t entered.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And Monica Lindstrom, you know what`s so interesting about this, it`s all happening in this exotic locale, in beautiful Italy.

And I think that, you know, sometimes Americans go abroad. And this - - this young woman has not been convicted of anything at this point. But sometimes Americans go abroad and kind of lose themselves. It`s like one giant lost weekend and they`d really don`t act the way they would here. We have seen that with a lot of cases where people die while on honeymoons, they go overboard, they have been drinking absinthe, et cetera, et cetera.

LINDSTROM: Well, she had been over there for a little while. She was a foreign exchange student so the whole excuse of she had one crazy, big drunk weekend or drunk vacation just isn`t going to go very far. This is - - the evidence is stacked against her. She has credibility issues. Her strategy is going to be very difficult to try to come up with.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We have to leave it right there. But that`s a good point. Ashley and Monica, thank you so much. And we hope to have both of you back real soon. Fabulous guests.

Finally, the longest presidential campaign ever is just about over. When is it going to end? But it brought us two full years of zany and sometimes cringe-worthy antics. We`re going to have a refresher after this.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: We are less than a week away from the end of the longest presidential election season in history. But it hasn`t been all bad.

CNN`s Jeanne Moos takes a look at the lighter side.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORESPONDENT: Cuddly candidate? Here he is. Cold candidate; in jacket and jeans, senator Obama addressed supporters in a monsoon that left Obama fans shivering.

Change of temperature. Change of drapes?

MCCAIN: Senator Obama is measuring the drapes.

BUSH: Measuring the drapes!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re not measuring any drapes.

MCCAIN: He`s measuring the drapes.

MOOS: Did you actually measure the drapes?

KAKI HOCKERSMITH: Yes, I did, on January 2.

MOOS: Interior designer Kaki Hockersmith changed the oval office drapes to gold after Bill Clinton was elected, changed them from the blue drapes favored by George Bush Senior.

MOOS: Do they have to change the drapes for every president?

HOCKERSMITH: Most presidents do change the Oval Office.

MOOS: Currently the drapes are gold again. Even "Saturday Night Live" may have to change its drapes.

Will Ferrell as "Pres. George W. Bush" on "Saturday night LIVE": Thumbs up, everybody.

MOOS: But imagine the drapes Paris Hilton would install. This is her new "Paris for President" video.

Other political videos are capitalizing on the false story told by that McCain supporter, who claimed an Obama supporter carved a "b" in her cheek. Here come the parodies.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`re going to be a John McCain supporter.

MOOS: On the "Daily Show," fake business correspondent Samantha Bee claimed Alan Greenspan disfigured her.

JON STEWART, HOST "THE DAILY SHOW": The "G" on your cheek is backwards.

SAMANTHA BEE: I know, he must have done it from inside my mouth somehow.

MOOS: And speaking of initials there`s the "N" word controversy that wasn`t. Someone screamed something about Barack Obama at a Sarah Palin rally, and left-wing blogs thought the "N" word were hurled, but soon right wing blogs were analyzing the sound bite. And most listeners concluded the woman yelled "he`s a redistributor," referring to redistribution for wealth. The fight was even slowed down for analysis.

With all this hostility, maybe it`s time for a hug.

Let`s get them in the right order here. Cabbage Patch candidates: Obama and Biden, McCain and Palin.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If I didn`t buy that and bring it home, my mother would kill me.

MOOS: Actually, these are one of a kind to be auctioned off on E-Bay to mark the 25th anniversary of Cabbage Patch Kids with proceeds going to charity.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sarah, I don`t know about this. Cute, I like that.

MOOS: At least no one is asking her, where the outfit is from.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: I want one of those. I`m Jane Velez-Mitchell. Please come back tomorrow for some (audio gap).