Return to Transcripts main page


New President to Face Economic Challenges; What Part Have Race, Gender Played in Campaign?

Aired November 4, 2008 - 19:00:00   ET


JANE VELEZ MITCHELL, HOST (voice-over): Tonight the finish line in sight in the race for the White House. What a long, strange trip it`s been. So to celebrate, we`ll look at some of the campaign`s pivotal moments.


VELEZ MITCHELL: Memorable gaffes.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Why, you`re all Joe the plumber.

VELEZ MITCHELL: And the impact comedy has had on the election.

GOV. SARAH PALIN (R-AK), VICE-PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Live from New York, it`s Saturday night.

VELEZ MITCHELL: Could Tina Fey have actually swayed lots of voters?

TINA FEY, WRITER/ACTRESS: Oh, hey, you know, sure.

VELEZ MITCHELL: Plus a look at the financial crisis the next administration faces. And it ain`t pretty.

All these issues and lots more tonight.


VELEZ MITCHELL: Good evening, everyone. I`m Jane Velez Mitchell.

It was the longest election season in modern history. We`re going to look back at some of the highs and the lows of both campaigns.

And who says the peaceful transfer of power to a new leader of the free world can`t involve a few laughs along the way? We`re going to show you some of the funniest moments of this campaign.

But first, don`t expect the victory parties to last long. The next administration is inheriting an economic disaster. Foreclosures, the stock market tanking, plunging car sales, and the credit crunch. Almost one million jobs have been lost this year alone. General Motors just announced its car sales have plummeted by 45 percent. Everybody is hurting. Everybody is scared.

Here`s my issue: priority No. 1 has to be fixing the economy. But let`s not throw all the rest of our values and priorities out the window to do that. We don`t have to further plunder the environment and ignore health care and rob education to get our country back on a sound financial footing. Quite the opposite. Education, health care, and the environment are the keys to our economic future.

For example, if Detroit had really cared about the environment, it wouldn`t be in the mess it is now, saddled with gas guzzlers it cannot sell. If we fought obesity, we wouldn`t have skyrocketing health-care costs. If we stressed education, we wouldn`t be outsourcing so many jobs to India right now. We need to change our mentality on the individual, corporate, and government level.

Joining me now, John Ridley, NPR commentator and founding editor of Love that. John Fund for "The Wall Street Journal" and author of "Stealing Elections." Love that, too. And Liz Chadderdon, a Democratic strategist from the Chadderdon group.

Liz, I`m going to hit you first. Many economists predict that the session is going to go on and on until the end of 2009. Everybody, of course, is relying on the next president to get us out of it. How can we fix the economy while still moving the country in the right direction, vis- a-vis the environment, education, and health care?

LIZ CHADDERDON, CHADDERDON GROUP: Well, Jane, you`re asking a really good question. It`s one of the many reasons why I`m certainly not running for president of the United States.

But the new administration really has some tough issues to tackle. And they`re going to have to come right out of the box and start tackling them immediately. I don`t think you`re going to see a month-long vacation while there`s a recovery from this incredibly long election. I think you`re going to se the new administration jump right in.

What can they do? They`re going to have to take a long look at the bailout bill that just passed. Is it being done effectively? What can we do to make sure that the taxpayers get their money`s worth in that? Can we get that money straight to homeowners, or does it have to go through the banks?

I think they`re going to have to look at regulation. And you know, deregulation has really been such a part of the American economy for so long. There are good things about deregulation, and not so good things about it. But I do think you`re going to see a lot more regulation in the new administration.

VELEZ MITCHELL: Well, John Fund, you`re with the "Wall Street Journal." I want to talk about our mentality, vis-a-vis the economy. I think we have to totally reshift how we are thinking things.

For example, right now Detroit is asking for a $25 billion bailout. More tax dollars going for a bailout. Now, I`m on my second hybrid electric vehicle. I was in California in the `90s. I still see all the electric pumps all over the place that aren`t being used because who killed the electric car? The auto industry and the oil industry.

So now they`re paying the price. We`re going to have to bail them out for their incompetence and their short-sightedness? Why?

JOHN FUND, "WALL STREET JOURNAL": Well, we shouldn`t, to be honest with you, because I think that will only delay the restructuring that we need to do. I think both John McCain and Barack Obama endorsed that bailout because they were running for president.

Next year, let me be quite honest: we`re going to be flat broke. There`s going to be no money for anything. The taxes that Barack Obama wants to raise, if he`s telling us the truth, that they`re only on the upper income levels, those are not going to bring in a lot of money. For example, on capital gains, there are not a whole lot of capital gains to realize.

John McCain, of course, has the status that he was going to balance the budget in four years. That`s not going to happen either. We are going to have incredible constraints. We are going to have a problem. Barack Obama will have had a very ambitious agenda in his campaign. There will be tremendous expectations for him. And there will be no money, and I mean no money in the till. And he`s going to have to manage an enormous downturn in people`s expectations.

VELEZ MITCHELL: You know, John Ridley, founding editor of You`re listening to all of this. Let`s take it from a cultural perspective. Because I think, again, we need a fundamental shift in why we try to make money and how we try to make money.

Take a look at education. You know, we`ve robbed education for so long, and yet, I spent all weekend on the phone to India trying to fix my computer right here in the United States. And I`m wondering why am I not talking to an American?

If we invested in education, maybe I would be talking to an American instead of calling halfway around the world for an hour or two to deal with somebody in India.

JOHN RIDLEY, THATMINORITYTHING.COM: You bring up a good point. And my problem, Jane, and my fear, you talk issues, going into this -- this election, and going into whatever administration wins, they know the issues we`re facing. But to paraphrase Don Rumsfeld, they`re the unknowns and there are the unknown unknowns.

You look back at 2000, what were the issues? They were mostly domestic: health care and Medicaid. Other than the Florida recount, it wasn`t a big deal election. But what did we face? Nine-eleven, Afghanistan, Iraq, and a global meltdown.

We need somebody, whoever comes in, to understand the issues they`re facing, but also have that forward thinking that you`re talking about. What are the unknowns, and how are they going to deal with those? That`s what the next president`s going to be looking at.

VELEZ MITCHELL: Liz Chadderdon, OK, we`re talking an economic nightmare right now. So we had a $7 billion stimulus package, $250 billion of that going to the banks. We didn`t even ask them to guarantee that they were going to use that money to lend to people so they could get mortgages.

So now we`re hearing a lot of those banks are going to either sit on the money or use it to buy other banks and consolidate. Then we have what we were talking about just a moment ago, the stimulus package that`s about to come up, which is approximately $168 billion. So we keep throwing money at this problem, and it doesn`t get fixed.

CHADDERDON: Jane, you`re absolutely right. And I think John makes the best point of all, which is we`re going to be broke. I mean, let`s -- let`s be honest here. All these bailout packages, is it really going to help the average consumer? I don`t think we know that yet, but so far, no, it really doesn`t seem to be doing that.

And I think the new administration really going to have to focus on how do we get these bailout packages helping average Americans? Forget about Wall Streets, forget about the banks, forget about consolidation, forget about CEO golden parachutes. How do we get this money to helping folks who want to buy a house, who want to refinance a house, who may want to buy a new car or a new tractor, who want to figure out how to expand their small business but can`t because they can`t get a line of credit?

That is going to be the task for the new administration. Again, I`m really glad I`m not going to have that job, because it`s going to be a really tough job.

VELEZ MITCHELL: You know, and John Fund, the "Wall Street Journal," I say that because the "Wall Street Journal" is really on top of the financial issues.

Take a look at the whole issue of skyrocketing health-care costs. Now, nobody really talks about prevention. All we talk about is developing more drugs. You know, the obesity crisis is now surpassing smoking as America`s No. 1 killer. Sixty-four percent of all Americans are overweight and obese.

If we retooled our economic thinking to focus on prevention and helped America get fit, wouldn`t we dramatically reduce our health-care costs?

FUND: Yes, but the biggest obstacle to prevention is we have a 60- year-old artifact of World War II governing our health-care system. In World War II, they couldn`t raise prices and wages because of the war, so they added on benefits to attract workers. They said we`ll give you free health care. That has meant that almost every American who`s employed has a health-care plan they pay very little for. It`s part of their benefit package.

Eighty-five percent of America`s health-care costs are paid by somebody else. That means there`s precious little incentive to have smart things like preventive health care. There`s precious little incentive to save money. That`s why you`re charged $50 sometimes for a cotton swab.

I think the next president should focus first on the things we can all agree on on health care, which is, let`s have more consumer input and let`s perhaps the Democrats want to expand the program, perhaps a modest increase there.

But also, another thing that we can do on health care. Betsy McCoy (ph) has talked about how we can clean up the medical records. So many people in the hospital now are there because they were misdiagnosed notes or somebody had misread their medical chart. We can electronically input all of these medical records and you have fewer mistakes.

VELEZ MITCHELL: That`s a perfect example right there. And go ahead, briefly.

RIDLEY: Yes, I just want to jump in. I think this goes back to a question you asked me about our culture and the way we look at things. Some of this is personal responsibility. We can do things about our own obesity. We can do things about conserving fuel and things like that.

VELEZ MITCHELL: You know, I love you, but people aren`t doing it. We`re a nation of addicts.

RIDLEY: I understand.

VELEZ MITCHELL: Nobody is going to suddenly miraculously start eating healthy because it`s good for them. Because it`s like heroin. It`s like literally shooting your arm up with heroin.

FUND: Listen, Jane, don`t tell me...

VELEZ MITCHELL: The sugar, the salt, and the fat they pack into this food that`s making us ginormous. And what I`m saying is...

FUND: So what do you want, Jane, a food police?

VELEZ MITCHELL: ... it is subsidizing a lot of that.

FUND: Jane, I understand, but what do you want, a food police?

VELEZ MITCHELL: I think government, first of all, should stop subsidizing all the food that`s being...

FUND: The farm bill -- one of the big tragedies is both Barack Obama and many people in Congress support the farm bill...

VELEZ MITCHELL: All right. We`re going to...

FUND: ... which is basically paying people not to grow food.

VELEZ MITCHELL: OK. We`ve got to go to break. Stay right there. We`re going to be back.

You know, nothing says democracy like wacky hijinks. In just a bit, we`re going to look at people like Paris Hilton and Obama girl, who actually impacted this contest.

And this election has been marked by some key game-changing moments. Some of those crucial turning points focus on race. More after this.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can disown my white grandmother.



OBAMA: When the world sees America differently, and America sees itself as a nation less divided and more united, you`ll be able to look back with pride and say that this was the moment when it all began.


VELEZ MITCHELL: Remember that, on that historic night back in Iowa? Barack Obama went from the guy who was chasing front-runner Hillary Clinton to the guy who leapfrogged over her and rarely looked back. It was a key moment that helped define Obama and this entire election.

From the rhetorical highs of Iowa to the lows of the Reverend Wright debacle, we`re going to look at the game-changing moments and specifically the role of race in this campaign.

Joining me again, John Ridley, NPR commentator and founding editor of; John Fund from the "Wall Street Journal"; and Liz Chadderdon, a Democratic strategist from the Chadderdon Group.

John Ridley, Barack Obama became the first African-American nominee of a major party. Then he managed his campaign in a very color-blind way, trying to move beyond race. Would you agree that it was actually in the Iowa caucuses, a state that is 95 percent white, that he first proved it could be done, and also proved to us that America can be color blind?

RIDLEY: Absolutely. I mean, who would have imagined that, in that state, people would say, the issues are more important. And as you mentioned, everyone thought Hillary Clinton was just going to have this coronation into the White House, or at least the Democratic nomination.

So race was taken off the table, ostensibly, in Iowa. But it certainly remained part of the race, no pun intended, all the way through the election day.

VELEZ MITCHELL: Yes. And of course, we know that Reverend Wright brought race back in a big way. Let`s go down memory lane.


WRIGHT: No, no, no. Not God bless America, God damn America. That`s in the Bible. Killing innocent people. God damn America!


VELEZ MITCHELL: You know, this is so offensive to so many people, and it is very offensive to me, as well. But I have to say, John Fund, that I learned something when I went to Atlanta and I visited the Atlanta History Center, and I found out why black churches traditionally had been so politically active.

And the story that they told in this whole setup that you walk through was that, after the Civil War, during reconstruction, all the way through segregation of the early 20th century, basically nobody listened to black complaints. The police didn`t. The local and state government didn`t. The newspapers wouldn`t even publish anything.

So they had nowhere to go when they couldn`t get their desks, or they couldn`t get heat for the schools, they couldn`t get, in later years, buses to take their kids to the school, who were 15 miles away from the school. So they went to church, and they vented, and they mobilized. And that is the historical context that I think we need to put this in. Do you agree or not?

FUND: No. No, Jane. The black church has a fine, rich tradition. It`s very colorful. People express themselves in wonderful ways there.

But I`ve talked to the Reverend Floyd Flake and many other prominent black religious leaders. I`ve been to black churches. The Reverend Wright is an outlier. He probably represents about 3 percent of black churches, because remember, he`s not venting. He says the United States brought 9/11 onto itself. He says the United States caused the AIDS epidemic. He says the United States is a racist country. He says the KKK is running things.

This is not political opinion. This is (ph) cuckoo land. So let`s not tar the black church, which has a fine tradition in this country with this fellow who`s simply a nut, regardless of his color.

VELEZ MITCHELL: All right. And I agree with you. I`m not endorsing him by any means.

FUND: But that`s not a context. He`s just a nut, plain and simple.

VELEZ MITCHELL: Right, but I`m saying that you have to put everything, even nutty behavior, in context. I mean, if you`re talking about...

FUND: He is using the black church. He is using the black church.

VELEZ MITCHELL: ... a bunch of kids in school. You know, you go back and you look at their history to find out why they lost it. So I agree with you. He`s -- he`s absolutely, you know, irresponsible, but I thought it was really fascinating that most Americans probably are not aware of that history, Liz Chadderdon.

FUND: And the sad thing is 97 percent of black churches, that are doing very responsible things for their community, never show up on television. We only focus, unfortunately, on nuts like him. I think we should have a broader perspective and more coverage of the churches that are actually doing good things.

VELEZ MITCHELL: All right. Well, let`s move on, because I want to go to the speech that Obama made in response to all of that. Let`s listen.


OBAMA: I have asserted a firm conviction, a conviction rooted in my faith in God and my faith in the American people, that working together, we can move beyond some of our old racial wounds, and that, in fact, we have no choice. We have no choice if we are to continue on the path of a more perfect union.


VELEZ MITCHELL: Liz Chadderdon, how did he redefine America`s relationship with race with that speech?

CHADDERDON: What I think he did, Jane, and it really was masterful -- I remember watching that speech -- is he took an issue that most politicians wouldn`t touch with a 10-foot pole, and he put it out there, and he had a very honest discussion about it, how it had affected him, how he knew it had affected his grandmother and his upbringing, how he knew that it affected quite a few Americans, those who had spent time in black churches and those who hadn`t.

And he talked about it in a very mainstream way. And I think he made us all much more comfortable with it. I do think it was pivotal. And it was to his credit. I mean, how many people could have given that speech and gone on?

VELEZ MITCHELL: Very few. Hold tight, my fabulous panel. I agree; it was nonthreatening.

When the presidential candidates announced their running mates, Barack Obama`s choice of Joe Biden seemed like a very safe decision. The maverick, John McCain, went another way. More on the Palin pick and gender`s role in this election when we come right back.

RICHELLE CAREY, HEADLINE NEWS ANCHOR: I`m Richelle Carey. Here`s your election night news break.

Polls have just closed in six states. CNN is only projecting wins in a couple of those states. Let`s get to that information right now.

CNN is projecting Vermont for Barack Obama and Kentucky for John McCain. We are not able to project winners in those other four states right now.

Let`s take a look right now at where things stand in the race to 270. Two seventy is the number of electoral votes need to clinch the White House. Take a look at that. Fifty-six percent of the vote is going to John McCain right now; 46 percent to Barack Obama.

Battleground states, you`ve been hearing a lot about that. Three key battleground states, the polls have just closed. Let`s get you the latest numbers in some of those states. In Virginia, so far, 55 percent of the vote going to John McCain, 44 percent going to Barack Obama. That state has voted Republican since 1964. Sixty-four is when they voted for LBJ.

We can also update one race there. The former governor of Virginia, Mark Warner, has won a Senate race there. That is a pick-up for the Democrats; he defeated a Republican for that seat.

Georgia, a state that polls say leans Republican. We`re still waiting on some numbers from there. Also an intense Senate battle seat is -- battle for a Senate seat, rather, is going on there in Georgia. Also Indiana, another tossup state. We`re waiting to see where things stand there.

We`re going to get you everything you need to know throughout the night. Really, it is a huge night. Doesn`t get much bigger. Keep it here.



SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is very personal for me. And it`s not just political; it`s not just public. I see what`s happening. We have to reverse it.


VELEZ MITCHELL: There she was. She was so real, so authentic. It was a defining moment for Senator Hillary Clinton, but ultimately one that came too late to save her campaign.

Back with me again, my wonderful panel. And John Ridley, John Fund and Liz Chadderdon, I`m going to get to the gender issue in a moment. But first, John Ridley, you wanted to respond to what John Fund was saying in the last block about the role of race in black churches.

RIDLEY: Yes, well, absolutely. I don`t agree with what Reverend Wright said. But let`s just be very clear about something. You also have Jerry Falwell. You have Pat Robertson, you have John Hagee who also blamed events like 9/11 and Katrina on degenerates, liberals, things like this. This is not a black church issue. It`s an issue of people using religion to denigrate other people. I just think we need to be very clear about that.

VELEZ MITCHELL: Yes, and I think so. And I think that this whole election, in a sense, helped us work through some of these issues and, hopefully, move beyond race in the way we had been approaching it as a society before.

Now, we have to work on gender. Listen to Rush Limbaugh on his radio show. He said, quote -- quote, "Will Americans want to watch a woman get older before their eyes on a daily basis? And that woman, by the way, is not going to want to look like she`s getting older because it will impact poll numbers. It will impact perceptions," end quote.

Liz Chadderdon, sexism was alive and well in this campaign. And actually, it was "Saturday Night Live" that exposed it when the mainstream media wasn`t talking about sexism at all.

CHADDERDON: I agree. I actually think "Saturday Night Live" has had the best season that they`ve had in the last couple of years, really just in the last few months.

And I do think that they were really good at bringing to the forefront some of the issues. I was actually watching some of the reruns last night about the debates between Barack and Senator Clinton. And it was blatant. It really was, on a certain level.

Yet at the same time, I want to say this. I don`t think Hillary Clinton lost the nomination because of her gender or because of perceived sexism coming out of the media. I think she made some missteps in her campaign that had nothing to do with her gender. And she`s not the nominee because Barack Obama ran a better campaign. And I think that`s a really important fact.

VELEZ MITCHELL: You know, but John Fund, women are judged differently. A study just came out that showed that, when it comes to women candidates, looks do matter. Appearance matters a lot more than it does for men. So it`s a tougher playing field in a lot of respects.

FUND: Absolutely. And if you`re new to the game, which of course, many female politicians are, you`re going to get extra scrutiny.

You know, I find it fascinating that, in the last seven weeks, we have had more coverage of the Wasilla, Alaska, city council meetings and what happened there than we had of Barack Obama`s entire career in Richard Daley`s Chicago, where machine politics dominates.

I think the amount of investigative resources devoted to Sarah Palin because she was new, I think represented a bias not against -- not just against her, but against anyone who`s new in American politics and that mostly includes women.

VELEZ MITCHELL: Well, I mean, listen, the honeymoon ended because of a lot of things, John Ridley, the fact that she has this pregnant teenage daughter, Trooper-gate. There were -- there were...

RIDLEY: She was exonerated. It just happened.

VELEZ MITCHELL: Yes. By one panel. But the previous panel didn`t.

FUND: She said she broke no laws. Broke no law.

VELEZ MITCHELL: All right, John, we`re going to give you the last word. John Ridley.

RIDLEY: Look, I`ll look back on this election. People talk about Frost/Nixon. I look back at Palin/Couric. I think that interview was absolutely amazing. And that was the way to sort of end the sexism issue: women talking to women.

VELEZ MITCHELL: All right. Panel, I thank you so much. Great panel. Please come back.

Now, when the campaign season lasts for two years, somebody is bound to say something dumb. We`ll be right back with that.



PARIS HILTON, SINGER/ACTRESS: We can do limited offshore drilling with strict environmental oversight while creating tax incentives to get Detroit making hybrid and electric cars. That way offshore drilling carries us until the new technologies kick in which will then and create new jobs and energy independence. Energy crisis solved. I`ll see you at the debate, bitches.


JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HN ANCHOR: Thank you, Paris, for that insight. You know the presidential race has gotten out of control when even Paris Hilton gets in on the action. It has been a whirlwind campaign season filled with drama, outrage, bizarre behavior.

And lucky for us, a whole lot of laughs. "Saturday Night Live" and other comedy shows took center stage in this race for both parties. So it`s time to poke a little a little fun and also give a shout out to the amazing works of some political comics -- the ones you see right there, for example who really impacted this election.

Joining me now is CNN political contributor, Amy Holmes; Peter Fenn, a former Gore adviser and Princella Smith, chief advocate at American Solutions.

Amy let`s start with you. It is simply a fact. People now watch the comedy shows to get the real story about politics and politicians. When did comedy start taking the role of BS detector, and why isn`t the mainstream media doing more of that.

AMY HOLMES, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think that`s always been comedy`s role in politics as long as there has been politics around. I think with Martin Scorsese and he said that, comedy is the great smuggler, that with laughter you can get some uncomfortable truths out there for the American people to try to consider.

Johnny Carson was a great comic when it came to politics. And then, in this season SNL saw its ratings go way, way up once Sarah Palin hit the political stage. And they had her to be able to use for their comedic purposes.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You`re absolutely right. I think it`s about honesty. I think, Princella, comedians have no master except laughs. As long as they get laughs, they can say whatever they want. They don`t have to worry about advertisers or your boss or your relatives or anything.

PRINCELLA SMITH, CHIEF ADVOCATE AT AMERICAN SOLUTIONS: That`s exactly right. I mean, the fun thing about comedy is when it`s based on things that are real. I mean, as people say, there`s always some form or some line of truth in comedy.

So that`s what made this more fun is that these things were actually happening. And it was great. It was great fun to have it during the whole campaign season.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Peter, let me get to you in a second but first, we`ve got to take a look at this.

Remember Obama girl? She was way back there, but she paved the way for some of the season`s most outlandish political moments.

Let`s go back.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I never wanted anybody more than I want you, so I put down my Kerry sign knew I had to make you mine, my black and sexy you`re so fine because I got a crush on Obama baby, you`re the best candidate, I got a crush on Obama


VELEZ-MITCHELL: That`s some young lady probably interested in an acting or singing career. But she`s an example of how the grassroots use the Internet to transform this election in a way that`s never happened in history.

I mean, it`s really kind of spectacular how little people could sort of worm their way into the big picture.

PETER FENN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST, FENN COMM.: Absolutely extraordinary this year, I think this is light years away from where we were four years ago. People are setting around in viral videos and the "Yes, We Can" song by Black Eyed Peas got nine million hits.

The latest was this effort by, to get people to vote, putting your name into a piece, which it was your fault because Barack Obama lost by one vote. And that thing went around like wildfire.

So I think you`re seeing the future here, Jane. I mean, you`re seeing what the political media is likely to be about in the coming years.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: It`s a good thing, Princella Smith, because I mean, think back to the old days where you had political machines and you have like Kennedy Hall and you had these guys who strong arms and said you`re going to do this and you`re a nobody. Now nobody is a nobody if they have a cell phone camera.

SMITH: What I think is sad is that people saw that and voted on that. They saw that video. That`s what I think is sad. I mean, that`s the great country that we live in. So --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, well, a lot of people voted because of "Saturday Night Live" as well. Take a look at "SNL`s" portrayal of Hillary Clinton and how it changed the perception of her in this election.


AMY POEHLER, AS HILLARY CLINTON, "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE": It`s going to take a fighter, not a talker. Someone who is aggressive enough and relentless enough and demanding enough to take them on. Someone so annoying, so pushy, so grading, so bossy and shrill with a personality so unpleasant that at the end of the day, the special interests will have to go, enough, we give up. Life is too short to deal with this awful woman. And I think the American people will agree that someone is me.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Amy Holmes, they always say comedians are the smartest people. And I think they are because they really nail the personality of these candidates and do it in a way that it`s so hilarious. If Hillary could have goofed on herself in that way, she might have won the election.

HOLMES: Well, she did goof on herself. She did go on "Saturday Night Live." And I might add that despite all that mockery on "Saturday Night Live", in the second half of the Democratic primary, Hillary Clinton cleaned up.

She won those big states. She won Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas despite, you know, this caricature of her on "Saturday Night Live." So I think we can see the limits of comedy.

On the one hand, they can certainly stereotype a candidate in the public perception, but American voters, you know, they`re smart. They go into the polling booth and they vote for the person who they think is best equipped to lead them.

I would also point out that in this election season, you know, SNL said it just now, "that awful woman." That sort of became the theme of this election season with Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin. If you notice, the candidates that were getting the sort of really rough treatment by the comics were females.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Absolutely. I think that also, though, "Saturday Night Live" busted some of the sexism. They did a skit that actually highlighted that.

So I think, some of the female comics like Tina Fey were really out there pushing for women and articulating a lot of the anger that women were privately sharing all over America.

And, you know, and thank God that Tina Fey actually really opened the debate, I think, about sexism.

Now, I want to go to another one of these clips because, first of all, they`re just so darn funny. But also they really do give us an insight into politics.

Katie Couric`s interview with Sarah Palin was one of the most memorable of the season. Here`s "Saturday Night Live`s" impression on that.


TINA FEY, AS SARAH PALIN, "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE": Kitty I`d like to use one of my lifelines.


FEY: I want to phone a friend.

POEHLER: You don`t have any lifelines.

FEY: Well, in that case, I`m just going to have to get back to you.

POEHLER: Forgive me, Mrs. Palin, but it seems to me that when cornered, you become increasingly adorable. Is that fair to say?

FEY: I don`t know. Is it?


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Peter, talk about a BS detector.

FENN: She is terrific, isn`t she? I mean, the scary thing is on that one "Saturday Night Live" episode where the two of them were together, you could not tell which was which.


FENN: And I have to say, I thought that they`ve been good sports about the whole way; Hillary has and so has Palin. And I think that`s why the important things, if you can`t laugh at yourself, especially in this business, you shouldn`t be in this business.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, when I said that maybe if Hillary had done that to herself, I didn`t mean just appearing on "Saturday Night Live." I mean acknowledging how she is perceived. It`s all about being real. And we all have these annoying qualities.

But if you acknowledge it to the voters in the way that the sketch did, then somehow I think it`s forgiven by the voters. I don`t know if I`m making myself clear. But I think it`s about being authentic and being real, and saying yes, I am annoying in this way, but it`s me.

SMITH: I think "Saturday Night Live" owes money to Sarah Palin. She came on, and I mean, I kept seeing new statistics. The highest ratings of them in 14 years, the highest rating.

Every time she went on and there was more of the highest ratings. They need to write her a personal check and offer her a contract to come on every week.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But Amy, you know, I`m talking about that whole being real thing. Because let`s face it, Obama is extremely real. I can`t think of a really phony moment that he had during the campaign.

HOLMES: Really? Oh, my goodness. Actually, Sarah Palin I think she was getting mocked because she was real. That Tina Fey was picking up on her regional accent and moose hunting and all of those aspects of Sarah Palin that make her so real and so authentic, that those are the very things then that were put under the microscope and mocked mercilessly where as Barack Obama he has a very smooth exterior.

It`s hard to find those sort of points that make him unique. And when you saw "Saturday Night Live" trying to characterize him, it really didn`t go anywhere, it was flat. It didn`t have a lot of comedic possibility.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I agree with you, and she`s easy to caricature. And I agree with you there.

I`m going to ask you to stick around, all three of you, fabulous, fabulous people. It`s usually guys in suits who tell us who we should vote for.

In this election we saw a different kind of supporter, more of the very kookiest campaign moments in a second.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you`re there pick up, I was just watching you on --




SEN. JOE BIDEN, (D) VICEPRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Three-letter word. Jobs, j-o-b-s. Jobs.

MITT ROMNEY, (R) FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Who`s got the camera though, who let the dogs out? Who

SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I`ve now been in 57 states. I think, one left to go.



BIDEN: You cannot go to a Seven-Eleven or a Dunkin-Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent.

GOV. SARAH PALIN, (R) VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: A vice president has really a great job. But they`re in charge of the United States Senate. They`re in charge of the United States Senate.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Not really. Those are so funny. Whether it was Joe Biden painting the inaccurate picture of FDR`s 1929 television address to the nation; TV was invented in 1935. Or the time Sarah Palin couldn`t answer the third grader who asked, what does the vice president do? This campaign has been chockfull of mortifying moments both parties would love to forget.

For a closer look, at some of the hilarious highlights of the campaign our fantastic panel, Amy Holmes, Princella Smith and Peter Fenn.

Princella, when you`re talking on camera that much and I think we can all relate to this, --

SMITH: Right.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: It`s very difficult to bat a thousand and still be interesting.

SMITH: Well yes, I mean and that`s where really some of the funniest times happen on this campaign trail, is when they were tired. Barack Obama obviously knows that there are 50 states. He said 57. I don`t know what he was talking about.

And then I think my favorite gaffes had to have been when any time Joe Biden opened his mouth. Whether he was spelling jobs or saying Barack America or whatever is in. Those people had to be tired. I mean, the debate, those things you could roll those gaffes all day.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And he can`t use the excuse he doesn`t have the experience. I mean, this guy has got decades of experience.

SMITH: That`s right.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So did somebody forget to tell Joe Biden that TVs were not in existence in 1929? This is a great one.


BIDEN: When the stock market crashed Franklin Roosevelt got on television and didn`t just talk about the trenches (ph) of greed.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: I think it is poetic license --

HOLMES: And you know Dwight was even president like what part of that -- was even remotely true?

SMITH: Oh my God.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But you know here`s the problem and I think we can all, again, we can all relate because we are on television all the time. You want to be real. You want to be interesting. You want to be colorful. You want to tell a good story.

And adlibbing is not as easy as it may appear. Peter Fenn, weigh in on that. Because these guys are out there 24/7 adlibbing and talking, they`re not always reading off a prompter.

FENN: Exactly and you have a camera in your face, or a cell phone in your face. Everything you say is recorded. You know, in the old days you could get away with this kind of stuff. And with the new technology, you just can`t.

And so on the one hand, our public wants our politicians to be real, just go off-script. To answer questions, to show their true selves. And on the other hand, when they do, they dump all over them.

But I think the way do deal with this again is we were talking about the last segment, with humor. I mean, you`ve got to say, boy, did I ever screw up. I don`t know what the heck I was talking about. My tongue got going faster than my brain. But we all have that experience, as you say, Jane.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Sure, and sometimes it`s not even a word. Sometimes it`s just like Dean`s yell.

All right, this is oldies but goodies, listen to John McCain terrible parody of a Beach Boys song after being asked whether the U.S. would send an airmail message to Tehran.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: You know that old Beach Boys` song? Bomb, Iran, bomb, bomb, bomb -- anyway. I think Iran is a great threat.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Guess what, Amy? You`re going to get to defend that one.

HOLMES: Defend a Beach Boys song? You know, it was just a moment for John McCain. Everyone knows that he has a very sharp sense of humor. And he used it to very good effect at that dinner in New York a couple weeks ago when he and Barack Obama, I think in a great American tradition, were there to sort of roast themselves and each other.

So I don`t -- like when Princella cites them is being tired, things like this I don`t put that much stock in. I`m a lot more concerned that Barack Obama said that Iran was a tiny country. Iran and Venezuela don`t represent that big of a threat.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I know you would get it in there.

HOLMES: So more experience is I think is where we need to be focus there.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, well we`re getting to my favorite, Sarah Palin gets punked by two Canadian radio deejays, this is an instant campaign classic.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know we have a lot in common because definitely one of my favorite activities is to hunt, too.

PALIN: Oh, very good, we should go hunting together.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Exactly, we could go try hunting by helicopter like you did. I never did that. Like we say here France.

PALIN: Well, I think we could have a lot of fun together as we`re getting work done. We can kill two birds with one stone that way.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: That people will speak French Princella, and tell me that he said in his French thing, let`s club baby seals or something.

SMITH: I would never, ever try to punk a woman who could still dress the moose and who could shoot things as well as Sarah Palin. That is the last person I would punk.

HOLMES: Those deejays would better get security, right?

SMITH: I would not, I would not do that. They were treading on thin ice there.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: No, but seriously come on that was a seven-minute embarrassment. And I actually really felt sorry for Sarah Palin, until I remembered that, hey, she is the pit bull with lipstick. So she`s sort of brought it onto a certain degree, Peter. Didn`t she?

FENN: Well yes, the one thing, that you know the line about the difference between Dick Cheney and Sarah Palin, when Sarah Palin shoots somebody they stay down.


FENN: Oh. That was tough one.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Amy Holmes, I think we`re inching towards political incorrectness here. We may be about to say something that is very similar to what we`re making fun of.

FENN: That`s right. I could get in real trouble, right?

HOLMES: I`m sure the communication director, they were going to keep just shooting at the --

I wonder how they shot themselves in the foot that they would put Sarah Palin on the phone with two guys that were punking her. And when I listened to it, I thought she was really diplomatic, considering all the totally wild things that these guys were saying, oh, yes, sure, I understand where you`re coming from, or things like that.

So, I don`t know, yet another thing in the 2008 campaign file.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. We`re going to -- this one definitely goes in the history books for many reasons.

Now, stay right there, we`re going to ratchet up the campaign kookiness. Believe it or not, it can actually go higher in just a moment.



MCCAIN: Joe is with us today. Joe, where are you? Where is Joe? Is Joe here with us today? Joe, I thought you were here today. All right. Well, you`re all Joe the plumbers.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Well, no, we`re not all Joe the plumber.

Back now for some final moments of funny; Amy Holmes, Princella Smith, and Peter Fenn. I want to know from each of you, biggest or favorite political gaffe of the season.

Amy, how about you first.

HOLMES: Of the season`s political gaffes, I think that that would have to be -- I don`t know if it`s a gaffe, but I loved Hillary Clinton breaking down into tears before New Hampshire. I thought it was brilliant, it`s planned, it was amazing, and it changed the course of the New Hampshire primary.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: It sure did. Princella?

SMITH: I`ve got to go to Barack Obama saying he would sit down with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. That guy is self-professed that he doesn`t think that the holocaust existed. So that had to be the biggest one.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Peter.

FENN: I just really liked it when Sarah Palin said she could see Russia from her front porch, and that was her foreign policy experience. That was pretty good for all of us on this side.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, well, you guys are serious dudes, so you`re thinking of all of these. My favorite one was the nailing Palin, during the prank phone call when the guy said, who was playing Sarkozy saying the documentary they did on you, and, of course, unfortunately, that was the porno that was done using a Sarah Palin look-alike. Call me crass -- that was my favorite campaign gaffe.

Thank you so much, guys. You know, I really appreciate you having this fun conversation, because we are trying to keep it real while we talk about how mainstream media sometimes doesn`t keep it real.

We have to offer an alternative. And that means we have got to keep it real. And to do that, we have to tread out there into that adlib land, where some of those candidates sometimes get into trouble. There is a risk to being real, but it`s worth it, because America needs to get real.

There`s two kinds of conversations. One that usually happens on TV, the other that happens everywhere else.

I`m Jane Velez-Mitchell, and I`m really trying to keep it real for you.

Thanks for being a part of this. Please come back tomorrow for some more real "ISSUES."