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CONNECT THE WORLD

Death Toll In Syria Climbs To 130 Today; Romney, Obama Solidify Votes On Election Eve

Aired November 5, 2012 - 16:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: Tonight on Connect the World...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our fight goes on, because we know America has always done best. We've always prospered. And everybody gets a fair shot.

MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Tomorrow we begin a new tomorrow. Tomorrow we begin a better tomorrow.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: One last push in a deadlocked race for the White House.

ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN London this is Connect the World with Becky Anderson.

ANDERSON: 50 states, two candidates, one winner. Tonight, we explain why the U.S. electoral college means it's all about the maps and not the popular vote in this U.S. election.

Also this evening, forget Washington, why one of the most intriguing stories this week will play out thousands of miles away in Beijing with this man front and center.

And why activists say scenes like these are pointing towards a disturbing trend in Greece.

Very good evening.

The clock is ticking. The campaigning is almost over and America is preparing to make a decision which will reverberate across the globe. It doesn't get any tighter than this. The latest CNN nationwide polling showing both candidates neck and neck. With their work cut out, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are spending the day crisscrossing the country, desperate for those crucial swing state votes.

Well, the president enlisted help from the greats of rock and rap. Bruce Springsteen setting the stage for Mr. Obama in Wisconsin, later Jay-Z is going to be on hand to help get the vote out in Ohio, the key swing state. Also the next destination for Mr. Mitt Romney before he finishes the day off in New Hampshire with a concert from Kid Rock.

Why is Ohio, you ask yourselves, then so key? Well, it's not just one of the most popular states in the United States, it's also the only state to have voted for the winner in each of the past 12 presidential elections, 12.

CNN's Don Lemon is there in the city of Cincinnati for you this evening. What's the buzz there, Don?

DON LEMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Oh, it's a lot of buzz. And hearing you read where the candidates are and going to be and where they've been it's hard to keep track of it.

Listen, information is coming in so quickly. I have my iPhone here keeping information and also talking to people who are waiting in lines and lines and lines and lines in all of these seats that have early voting.

But Ohio is key, you are right Becky, because not since 1960 has anyone won the presidency without winning Ohio. And that was John F. Kennedy. And Becky, no Republican has won the White House without winning Ohio. And so every single vote, every single key state very important in Ohio. They believe it's going to come down to the wire here. And this swing county that I'm in, which is Hamilton County here in the Cincinnati area in Ohio, they believe this is going to determine who is possibly the next president of the United States.

But look at these lines, Becky, but you have been watching it here. And people around the world, everywhere we have been showing these voting lines, these early voting lines, they've been wrapped around the building. People here have been waiting, what, three hours right?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Three hours.

LEMON: Three hours to vote early. Can you believe it? That's why it's important, Becky.

ANDERSON: Bruce Springsteen not with you this evening, unfortunately I guess, he's in Columbus, Ohio. I want to show some pictures of that.

You know, and as we look at Bruce Springsteen, of course he's supporting Obama in this the 2012 campaign, do you get a sense from the people in Cincinnati tonight of just how close this is? I mean, the people that you have been speaking to could make the difference for the United States of America going forward. Do they realize that? Does it resonate?

LEMON: Oh, yeah. Yeah, they realize it. Because they see - all the media is here. The candidates have been here 83, 84 times. That is a record. And as you said, all the candidates are in the swing state. They're very aware of that. And they have been listening to these candidates' messages over and over and over on television.

As a matter of fact, let's listen to what both candidates are saying.

Mitt Romney is in Florida making his way again to other swing states later. And then President Barack Obama in Wisconsin making his way to other swing states later. Listen to their final messages.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Our fight goes on because we know America has always done best. We've always prospered when everybody gets a fair shot and everybody is doing their fair share, everybody is playing by the same rules, that's what we believe, that's why you elected me in 2008 and that is why I am running for a second term as president of the United States.

ROMNEY: Tomorrow we begin a new tomorrow, tomorrow we begin a better tomorrow. This nation is going to begin to change for the better tomorrow. Your work is making a difference. The people of the world are watching, the people of America are watching, we can begin a better tomorrow tomorrow. And with the help of the people in Florida that's exactly what's going to happen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So Becky you hear Mitt Romney talking about tomorrow. But I think what all these people want to hear about is the day after tomorrow which is officially election day Tuesday, the day after tomorrow when they won't have to heard any of this anymore hopefully if it's decided by then.

ANDERSON: All right. Good stuff. Don, thank you for that.

You saw Bruce Springsteen just earlier on. Jay-Z heading to the stage there in Columbus, Ohio as I say to support Obama the incumbent. You're going to see, of course, him a little later this show. And Kid Rock supporting Mitt Romney.

Right, with the race so tight, we could see a scenario where a candidate wins the popular vote in 2012, but loses the election, why? Well, because the winner, of course, is decided in the states by an electoral college. There are some 538 members, and each of these 50 states are allocated votes based on their population.

So, for example, California, a lot of people there, and therefore they get 55 electoral votes. The smallest states, not in the right place of course, but for our purposes - we're going to put Alaska down there - much smaller state so with only three electoral votes.

We already know how most of the states are going to vote. They say it's pretty much stay the same each election. That's why these yellow states, what we call the swing states, are crucial polls and these states have shown the race is too close to call.

Florida, for example, where the difference between the two candidates is well within the margin of error, 48 percent on the polls at the moment, Romney with 47, margin of error some three percent.

Well, to win the keys to the White House, either candidate must secure this number, 270 electoral votes. Using this interactive map on CNN.com we then can see if for example you were to win Iowa Mr. President, incumbent at the moment, that would be six electoral votes. If he were to also win Wisconsin and then to win Ohio, look at that, 271, that would put Obama over the top.

For Romney, let me tell you, the task is a lot harder. If he lost Florida, if it went blue, if it went to Obama, the Republican candidate would have to win every other swing state to become president. You can find more at CNN.com. Do it yourself, it's fantastic interactive map which will really give you a sense of just how close this is.

Well, with campaigning almost over, the only question remains is how both candidates done enough?

Well, let's debate that question, shall we, this evening. I'm joined in the studio by Colleen Graffy, former chair of U.S. Republicans abroad here in Britain, and Rob Caroline, the current chair in the UK of Democrats Abroad.

Guys, never so much money being spent in pursuit of so small a cohort of voters. We're talking about the swing votes here, the swing states. Four nationally televised debates, two political conventions, hundreds of speeches, one devastating hurricane of course, and they've spent something like $2 billion on televised ads.

It wasn't very close back in August. I want to get our viewers a sense of where things stood in August. It was something like 48 percent to Obama and 43 to Romney. But during these - this period of time between August and now look at that, it is a dead heat.

What's Obama done wrong, Rob?

ROB CAOLINE, CHAIRMAN, DEMOCRATS ABROAD: Well, I think it's more a question of what has Obama done right in the last few weeks. I mean, the president was the first one to admit that the first debate performance that he had was not his best performance in his history and we saw a bit of a correction in the polls at that time, but from the time of the second debate until now we've seen a continuously climbing set of poll results for President Obama and that's part of why we're on track for victory.

ANDERSON: Mitt Romney had a right old surge, didn't he, between August - between pretty much October until now - and no leverage, no momentum at this stage? It seems quite odd.

COLLEEN GRAFFY, FRM. UK CHAIRWOMAN, U.S. REPUBLICANS ABROAD: I think what happened is the Obama campaign used their early money to define Romney before he was defined to the general public and during the primaries which extended and extended. So the gap narrowed whereby Romney could really communicate to people what he was about. And that's why I think that first debate stunned everyone, because they had this perception in their mind what Romney was about and then they saw him and realized that he was quite reasonable and rational and capable.

ANDERSON: OK. I'd be fascinated to find out what you think he is all about, and indeed what you think Obama is all about, because I think there are some unanswered questions, not just for the Americans, but the global watching public.

Let's just bring up a couple of tweets I've had in tonight. We've been asking what do you think the vision for America should be going forward.

Here's one, "first thing first, whoever is the president has to bridge the gap between the Democrats and Republicans, then other things will follow."

But this is an interesting one here, "next president must get people back into work."

What are you going to tell me that Obama has said which is going to convince the American watching and voting public, Rob, at this stage that he can get any more people back to work? The unemployment, rate, quite frankly is going higher.

CAROLINE: Well, the unemployment rate is actually has been going down for a number of months. We've been adding private sector jobs have been growing every month for 32 months in a row. And the fact of the matter is giving the state of the incredible mess that the president inherited, the fact that the economy was plunging at the rate of three-quarter million jobs a month that we had to sort of like stabilize that and start to climb out.

I mean where we are now is actually a good result given the terrible state that we started with.

GRAFFY: And I'll just add that of course in this country, Britain, if anyone was trying to lay the blame on Blair and Brown at this stage - I mean, look at what people are saying, Cameron and David and George Osbourne...

ANDERSON: They do still try quite hard to lay the blame on the Labor Party.

GRAFFY: ...the Prime Minister of Spain Rajoy, I mean, he's not able to blame Zabatorro (ph). So those were one year, two year in office.

Obama, after three, four years in office, he owns this economy and continually blaming on Bush is not just working anymore. Notice he's not running on the fact that of this great stimulus, because it didn't work. And the deficit has gone up. He said he was going to cut it in half, and it's a problem for him.

ANDERSON: Let me ask you another question here, rather than you picking up on the back of that, Rob. What the undecided voters decide tonight is not perhaps as important now as just getting people out to vote in the states. What our watching public will be inquiring of is what happens going forward so far as foreign policy is concerned. I think that's really important. We've got a couple of tweets here.

One says, "reindustrializing the U.S. to compete with East Asia, this is key to the employment crisis."

And another one tonight, "curbing domestic growth and spread of Islamic fanatics and terrorist camps in Africa in the U.S. jobs reducing deficit and growing the economy."

I've got to put it to both of you in defense of your respective candidates, what do we know about what Obama is going to do with the likes of Syria, Libya, Iran, China, any sort of compact with Europe going forward.

We know he bangs on about what he's done with Iraq and Afghanistan, but Rob, quite frankly we know very little else.

CAROLINE: Well, we know that the president has continued to foster very good relations with all of our historical allies around the world. We saw a fantastic state visit here in the UK for example very recently. We've seen a president who has visited any number of NATO countries as another example.

The fact of the matter is it's really hard to draw a sharp distinction between these two candidates on foreign policy, because in the last debate we saw Mr. Romney effectively struggling as hard as he could to agree with what the president was saying. So I really don't think that this election is going to turn on foreign policy differences at the polls in the U.S.

ANDERSON: All right, here he is in Fairfax, Virginia. Your man on the campaign trail this evening.

How will foreign policy change, if at all, do you think? You know, Obama says he's ended the war in Iraq, he's moving troops out of Afghanistan. He's rooted out OBL. But elsewhere, what's Mitt - what has Mitt Romney...

GRAFFY: There's been a couple of disappointments. One of course is that Obama did not go to Spain at the beginning of his tenure, and that's continuing to feel like he's not supporting the EU. And he's not visited Brussels, the heart of the EU. And then he went to South America...

ANDERSON: But Romney came here, Turkey, and then moved on. What he...

GRAFFY: We're talking about Obama as president. And symbolically to visit Brussels is very important. Also he was in South America and referred to the Falkland Islands as the Malvinas, which doesn't go well with our best allies - in fact, he got it wrong, he talked about the Maldives, he meant to say the Malvinas. So that didn't work well.

And then the reset button with Russia I think needs to be reset again. And there was a view that he wasn't strong enough on the - well, on Libya - really, Britain and France kind of had to drag him along on that, the leading from behind was not perhaps the best choice of words to describe...

ANDERSON: What time are you going to call this election? Eastern time...

GRAFFY: We'll be up all night.

CAROLINE: No, we're both going to be at the embassy tomorrow. We were just talking about that before we came on.

In 2008, the election was called at 4:00 in the morning London time. I think by 4:00 in the morning London time we'll have an official result from the U.S. networks.

I think we'll probably - Colleen and I will probably know which way the wind is blowing by 2:30 or 3:00 in the morning London time.

ANDERSON: Long night.

GRAFFY: Yep. It will be a long night.

CAROLINE: But a good night.

GRAFFY: We each hope.

ANDERSON: Good stuff, guys, thank you very much indeed for joining us.

Will it be Barack Obama or Mitt Romney as Americans cast their ballots and the votes are counted. Make CNN your destination for full coverage of the U.S. presidential election.

We'll be live on the ground throughout the day Tuesday with unrivaled resources, political expertise and analysis. And stay with us for continuous coverage as the results come in election day and election night in America. America's choice right here on CNN.

You're watching Connect the World live from London on CNN. Still to come tonight as the east coast of America covers from the devastation of superstorm Sandy, another storm now threatens the region.

We're going to watch a man called Jay-Z on the stage in Columbus, Ohio as we move towards the break.

Stay with us, this is Connect the World.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: Very warm welcome back. You're watching Connect the World here on CNN. I'm Becky Anderson for you.

Right, we've had storms, of course, dominating the headlines across the states over the past week or so. New York's attorney general has announced an investigation into price hikes in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Eric Schneiderman says he's received hundreds of complaints of price gauging as he calls it, of essential goods including fuel, food, and water. Since the super storm hit last week, around 1.2 million people are still without power.

Officials say voters in some New York counties may get an extra day to cast their ballots, while in New Jersey residents displaced by the storm will be able to vote by email or by fax.

But now there are concerns, let me tell you, of another storm heading towards the battered U.S. east coast. CNN's Tom Sater joins us now from the international weather center.

Tom, what do we know about the storm? When should we expect it to hit?

TOM SATER, CNN WEATHER CORRESPONDENT: Well, Becky, it looks like I think it'll start forming on election day down in Florida. I mean, here's the setup in the country. Record warmth in the middle of the country to the west coast, but this jet stream means everything. It's a typical November setup. And it does look like this storm is going to develop and it'll be more than a nuisance. For over the million or so still without power, critical levels, but clouds moved in last night would actually kind of blanketed the area, helped them from dropping too low.

But here's the energy we're watching. This was energy from a storm that was south of Alaska. And now it's following that jet stream. When it gets down into Florida on election day we will have some strong thunderstorms there.

But here's the computer models, we're watching the system spin - this is a Noreaster. It intensifies as it moves up the coast. It's not tropical in nature. And until really it forms we won't know the exact path.

But there are so many elements that are - depending on the track, we don't know the severity of them all.

But here's what we do know, those computer models are in agreement to hug the coast. We're looking at rainfall. This is several, maybe 100, 150 millimeters possibly isolated amounts of more. There so much debris in this area it's going to clog drains, it's going to cause some moderate flooding. We have an unprotected seashore for kilometer after kilometer after kilometer we don't have any dunes. We don't have any heavier constructed barriers, so the seas are going to be moving in. It's not going to go in the subway system of New York, but the winds are going to down trees that have been weakened.

For those, Becky, have had their power restored, I hate to say it, more will have their power knocked down, it seems.

And of course we're going to watch this one closely. This is a Wednesday night into a Thursday morning event. Not the news we want to hear.

ANDERSON: What a week. What a week on the eastern seaboard.

Tom, thank you very much, indeed for that. For those of you in the path of the storm, good luck to you. Not a good week for you.

Well, looking at some of the other stories that are connecting our world tonight.

Opposition activists tonight say Monday's death toll in Syria has risen to more than 130 people. In Hamaa Province, a suicide bomber killed 50 government soldiers according to an opposition group there. While in Damascus state TV reports a bomb that has killed at least 11 people.

CNN's Mohammed Jamjoom joining us live from Beirut with the latest tonight.

As if the headlines out of Hamaa and Damascus aren't enough, northwestern Syria, Mohammed, also seeing action with Idlib in Northwestern Syria right in the heart of it. What's the latest from there?

MOHAMMED JAMJOOM, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Becky, opposition activists say that up in Idlib Province it's been another day of just ghastly, horrific violence, particularly in the town of Kaifur Nabil (ph) now. We've seen a lot of amateur videos purporting to show what's been going on there today. The activists are saying that it's been an intense aerial bombardment by regime forces.

Now one video in particular purports to show war planes flying in the skies above Kaifur Nabil (ph). And you see what appears to be that town being bombed. You see plumes of smoke there on the horizon.

There's another video, extremely dramatic and graphic, that purports to show the aftermath of one neighborhood that was shelled in which you hear people screaming. You see what appears to be an entire block almost leveled. You see cars on fire, victims covered in dirt as others run to their aid trying to whisk them away hauling them into the backs of trucks to they can go and get medical treatment, a very, very dire and chaotic scene.

And then there's another video that purports to show more aftermath of another part of town where shelling was - sustained shelling happened today. As I said, a grim and brutal day in this ongoing brutal civil war in Syria that just keeps raging on, a day when Syrian opposition groups are meeting in Doha (inaudible) to try to unify the opposition so that they can come up with some sort of transition to a post-al-Assad government. But in Syria today that's making no difference. As you said, at least 140 people killed. It just seems to be getting worse and worse - Becky.

ANDERSON: And we're what, 19 or 20 months into this. It's shameful isn't it?

Mohammed, thank you for that.

We're going to take a very short break here on CNN. When we come back, can Andy Murray make it three for three in London? He's trying to ad to his Wimbledon and Olympic titles from the summer. We're going to do some sports headlines for you after this short break. You're watching Connect the World with me, Becky Anderson, stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: Well, it is day one of the ATP Tour world Finals from here in London. This was Andy Murray's first showing on a home soil since winning the U.S. Open. So how did he do? Let's bring in Alex Thomas in London for you.

Alex, he's had a right old run this year, hasn't he, with Wimbledon and the Olympics. How is he doing in this?

ALEX THOMAS, CNN SPORST CORREPSONDENT: Easily Murray's best season. And although this is maybe not as prestigious as any of the four grand slam titles, it is the best eight players in the world bar Rafa Nadal who is out injured. And Murray would love to put on a show for his home country.

He's actually not done very well in this tournament. He's got a good record in most events around the world throughout the whole year, but he won in the end despite losing the first set against the talent Czech player Tomas Berdych. So it's a round robin stage to start with before we get through to the knockout round. So a good start for Murray.

And as we speak, Novak Djokovic is in action. He's the defending champion. An average season by his standards, but he's still finishing as world number one. And he had a grand slam title under his belt.

We had such an amazing 2011. He just won the first set against Jo- Wilfried Tsonga of France.

ANDERSON: It's going to be a good tournament.

All right. Good stuff.

I don't know if you know, but the U.S. election is forthcoming. Did you know that?

THOMAS: Really?

ANDERSON: Yes.

THOMAS: Oh, I never heard.

ANDERSON: Anyway --

(LAUGHTER)

ANDERSON: Anything of a sporting nature that we can talk about?

THOMAS: Well, you know --

ANDERSON: Since they're dominating the airwaves.

THOMAS: We had all the experts, and you've got a show of them on the show already, predicting what the outcome's going to be.

ANDERSON: Yes.

THOMAS: Well, let's try and through a sporting slant at this, because there a few omens that you can look out for, starting with the Washington Redskins NFL team, would you believe? Because if the Redskins win the final home game before the election, the party which won the popular vote in the previous election normally wins the White House.

Unfortunately for President Obama, the Panthers beat the Redskins 21- 13 --

ANDERSON: Oh!

THOMAS: -- on Sunday. However, since the 1930s, the home state of baseball's World Series champions has voted for the winning party. This year it was California's San Francisco Giants, so with the current president a heavy favorite on the West Coast, that could be bad news for Mitt Romney.

So, we need a tie-breaker, we've got one-all there. Since 1984, the winner of the Alabama-LSU college football game -- we're already scraping the barrel now, aren't we? -- has also been a reliable indicator of the US election. An LSU victory indicates a Republican success, and vice-versa.

This year, Alabama edged out LSU by four points. So, that's 2-1 in favor of Barack Obama. Make of that what you will. Don't put money on it just on our account.

(LAUGHTER)

THOMAS: And before we go, one final thing, President -- Pedro -- President Pinto, for a second.

(LAUGHTER)

THOMAS: Pedro Pinto has been interviewing Real Madrid's --

ANDERSON: Yes.

THOMAS: -- and Portugal international Christiano Ronaldo and asked him, given the chance -- he can't vote -- but if he could vote, who would he go for?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTIANO RONALDO, REAL MADRID FORWARD: Barack Obama. I like him.

PEDRO PINTO, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: What do you like about him?

RONALDO: I like the way he speaks with the people, his communication. I think it's always firm, what he says. And I think I would like to meet him because I think he's an honest person.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

THOMAS: So, everyone's got a view.

ANDERSON: They do.

(LAUGHTER)

ANDERSON: Good stuff. We'll see you in an hour on CNN. Thank you, sir. We'll take a very short break. Back after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: A very warm welcome to our viewers across Europe and around the world. I'm Becky Anderson, these are the latest world news headlines from CNN.

And it's all about the star power as the campaign winds down in the States. These are live pictures from Columbus, Ohio, where rapper Jay-Z is pumping up the crowd ahead of an appearance by President Barack Obama.

JAY-Z, MUSICIAN: I need you all to do me a favor here tonight. Every person from the front all the way up to the top, there. Everybody say "Four more years." Come on!

CROWD: Four more years!

JAY-Z: Louder. Four more years!

CROWD: Four more years!

JAY-Z: Come on! Four more years!

ANDERSON: Well, the president will go to Iowa later, then end up in his home state of Illinois early on Tuesday.

Republican challenger Mitt Romney also heading to some of the crucial battleground states. He's hitting Florida, Virginia, Ohio, and New Hampshire with support from Kid Rock. Romney will cast his ballot in Massachusetts early on Tuesday.

New York's attorney general has announced an investigation into price -- excessive price rises in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. Eric Schneiderman says he's received hundreds of complaints on what he calls price gauging on essential goods, most relating to the cost of gasoline.

Intense clashes erupting in Syria's Idlib province. Videos posted online appear to show fighting and rubble in the streets of Kafr Nabl. One opposition group says more than 130 people have been killed across the country today.

As Americans get ready to elect a president, China is gearing up for a major leadership change of its own. The highly-anticipated 18th Communist Party Congress begins on Thursday this week, and as my colleague Stan Grant reports, the event will shape policy in Beijing for at least a decade to come.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TEXT: What happens at the Party Congress?

STAN GRANT, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The Congress takes place every five years. There are more than 2200 delegates. They come from right across China. They represent the regions and the provinces.

They also are drawn from the People's Liberation Army, state-owned enterprises, and financial institutions. It's their job to set the course, to set the agenda for the party, to review where the party is at. And of course, all importantly this year, to select the new leadership.

TEXT: Will there be any surprises?

GRANT: The Communist Party is a very secretive organization. The way that it operates is often very opaque. They don't like surprises, they don't like mishaps. This entire leadership change, the Congress, has been very, very carefully scripted, very carefully planned.

Now, there are not going to be any surprises, we know what is going to happen here. We know about the change of leadership, we know who is likely to be appointed to these positions. Very unlikely that we are going to see any shocks.

TEXT: What do we know about Xi Jinping?

GRANT: Xi Jinping is still a bit of a mystery. No one really knows exactly what type of leader he's going to be. He's been quite cautious with his public comments. Over the past year, we have see a little bit more of him. He's traveled widely and met with world leaders.

He is someone who is known as a "princeling," someone who is the son of a revolutionary hero, so he's very much steeped in the law and the history of the Communist Party. He is a son of the Communist Party.

TEXT: Has there been much coverage in China?

GRANT: Every day when you open a Chinese newspaper, turn on Chinese television, you see the leadership. You see President Hu Jintao, Premier Wen Jiabao. And over the past year or so, we've seen a lot more of Xi Jinping as well, out meeting people, greeting world leaders, traveling widely.

Very interesting: for a period of the year, he vanished. He disappeared for more than two weeks. There was speculation about his healthy, maybe he had a stroke, maybe he had a heart attack. Some even suggested that he'd gone on strike.

There have still been no answers to that. It is very much a mystery as to what Xi Jinping is all about, but people here are very, very aware of him. And not just because of his political profile, but he's also married to a woman who, during the 1980s, was a very popular folk singer in China.

TEXT: Has there been a smooth transition?

GRANT: This has not been smooth at all. Who would have predicted at the beginning of the year that we would have seen so much upheaval at a time of leadership transition? Bo Xilai, a man once touted as himself a potential future president of China, has been purged from the party. His wife is in jail for murdering a British business associated. Bo himself is now awaiting trial.

Remember Chen Guangcheng? He was the blind activist who escaped house arrest, brought worldwide attention, then fled to the United States. On top of that, the economy is slowing. The gap between rich and poor is getting wider, and there is more social unrest. All of this playing out at a time when they go through a generational change at the top of the Communist Party.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: Well, our next guest says it's unclear whether the new leadership in China will really have very much influence at all. Gordon Chang joins us now from Toronto. He's a columnist at forbes.com. Also author of the book "The Coming Collapse of China." A big thinker on this show. Gordon, good to have you back.

We look at the economy. It may be slowing down, but my goodness, any European or US leader would love to see growth figures of around 7 percent, even if it were a slowdown. It's not in that bad a shape, is it, China, at this point? Where does it go from here?

GORDON CHANG, COLUMNIST, FORBES.COM: Well, Beijing claims 7.4 percent growth in the third quarter, but I think growth is more like zero or one.

Once you start looking at the most reliable indicator of Chinese economic activity, which is the production of electricity, you can also see the price indices and also the manufacturing surveys. Money leaving China. There's a lot of stuff to indicate that China's actually growing at a very, very low pace right now.

ANDERSON: If you say the economy is heading in the wrong direction -- I've heard you say that a number of times, even as at least the official figures were pushing higher. You and I would agree that it's been, certainly, the driving force of China's ascent to global dominance.

If indeed it were going in the wrong direction, could it, conceivably, lead to its demise? And if so, how?

CHANG: Yes, well, I think that what we're seeing is that the Communist Party is going through this crisis of legitimacy because they have always said that they should rule China because they can continually deliver prosperity.

When they can't deliver prosperity, it means that they've got to fall back on nationalism, which means causing problems with its neighbors. So, I think that this is a very difficult time for the party.

ANDERSON: You've said, I know, that this is a very uncertain time, uncertain as to whether the new leadership will have any real influence at all. Explain what you mean by that as we watch events unfold this week.

CHANG: Well, it normally takes at least a couple of years for new leaders to consolidate their position, and also Xi Jinping, remember, he is in a collective leadership. Jiang Zemin, who is the third generation leaders, is maybe pulling the strings. He's maybe even more powerful than Hu Jintao, the fourth generation leader, who's just about to give up his position.

And that means Xi Jinping is going to have to claw his way through Hu Jintao and Jiang Zemin. This is going to be a very, very interesting period, whether he can do that or not. I'm not so sure that he can.

ANDERSON: Fascinating. Well, we will watch and wait for developments Thursday. We've got a big election ahead of that, so lots of exciting changes this week. Mr. Chang, always a pleasure. Gordon Chang on for you this evening.

Still to come on CONNECT THE WORLD, as Greece braces for a week of strikes, we'll shine a light on the very people meant to protect the public: the police. Friend or foe? That after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: Welcome back. This is CONNECT THE WORLD here on CNN. I'm Becky Anderson for you. Greece bracing for a week of massive strikes as public sector workers protest even more austerity cuts being proposed there by the government.

Transport, in Athens, for example, brought to a standstill today as train and taxi drivers walked off the job, and there is plenty more to come. Lawmakers are set to debate the $17 billion cuts package on Wednesday, and if the measures don't pass, the country won't get another cent of bailout cash and will possibly face bankruptcy, almost certainly, in fact.

Protests have become a familiar sight, haven't they, on Greek streets? As has the violence that often accompanies them. But what's been flying under the radar are the complaints of police brutality. They are mounting at an alarming rate.

CNN's senior international correspondent Matthew Chance has been covering the turmoil in Greece over the past couple of years and joins me now. This is a pretty disturbing report you've got for us tonight.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It is, and it reflects what are very deep concerns amongst many Greeks and amongst human rights organizations about the way the police are handling what are undoubtedly very violent protests they have to confront on an almost weekly basis now.

Over the next few days, we're likely to see some very large, probably very violent protests as well. And the police are coming under particular scrutiny, because there's been a number of high-profile incidents where protesters have been taken into custody and they say they've suffered police abuse. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHANCE (voice-over): It's a familiar scene in austerity-hit Greece: riot police confronting often violent protests, the air thick with tension and teargas.

Amid the chaos, one officer lashes out with his baton. Knocked senseless, the man lies bleeding on the ground, the casual victim, caught on camera, of what human rights groups say is a growing problem of police brutality in Greece.

But it's in police custody where the most disturbing accounts of alleged abuse are emerging. We spoke to a group of 15 protesters who say they were beaten and arrested during an anti-fascist protest in September. They asked not to be identified for fear of reprisals.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Before they were slapping us, they spat on us. They were burning us -- some of us -- with a lighter in our hands, and they used us as ashtrays with their cigarettes.

CHANCE: Some told us they were denied water and medical attention. A second group alleged they were all stripped, made to bend over, then photographed.

Greek authorities deny any abuse took place, with the country's Minister of Public Order telling Parliament they'll release forensic evidence proving it.

And in a statement to CNN, the Greek police said this: "There was no use of force against anyone. The Greek police examine and investigate in depth ever single report regarding the use of violence by police officers and take disciplinary action where warranted."

CHANCE (on camera): They said angry protests like this one all across Greece, the police are so often accused of using heavy-handed tactics. But it's not just isolated incidents that are causing worry. Human rights activists say they're increasingly concerned that there is a systemic policy of the police in dealing with these types of situations with very, very brutal tactics.

DORA OIKONOMOU, AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL: I want to save her life.

CHANCE (voice-over): Groups like Amnesty International documenting alleged cases in Greece of police abuse.

OIKONOMOU: That's an abuse quite widespread, especially during the past four years. It's something that we see very, very often. During the past two years, the new austerity measures that were being placed on Greece, we've had many demonstrations, and almost in every demonstration that takes place, right after we have many complaints by victims of police violence.

CHANCE: But it's not just during public unrest that Greek police are accused of rights abuse. These images caused uproar in Greek social media earlier this year. They appear to show police officers detaining a man in the street at night.

(MEN SHOUTING IN GREEK)

CHANCE: After the video surfaced, police say they were launching an internal inquiry. And while they promised CNN an update, they haven't yet replied to our e-mails and phone calls about the tape.

But human rights groups say neither the police nor the government seem to accept the scale of the problems, that police violence in Greece has become a common, even acceptable form of crowd control.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHANCE: What humans rights groups, Becky, say they want is a strong message from the authorities in Greece against police violence, but they're not getting that. They're just getting denials from officials about the sort of nature of the violence that takes place.

They also want on independent ombudsman to deal with police complaints. At the moment, it's dealt with in-house, which is not a very effective way of doing things. And they're also calling for more training for police to deal with what are, as I say, undoubtedly very difficult, very violent situations on the streets.

ANDERSON: A very strong report, giving us a sense of the dysfunctional government with the institutions at present, you're absolutely right. Thank you, sir. Matthew Chance for you this evening.

You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD, live from London. Coming up, do you think -- or what do you think, indeed, is the top priority for the next US president? Tweet me @BeckyCNN. We've been doing this all show. Just ahead, the thoughts of some of our biggest news makers.

We want to know what you think, though, so @BeckyCNN. What's the top priority for the next US president? We'll do some of those after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRINCE TURKI BIN FAISAL AL SAUD, FORMER SAUDI AMBASSADOR TO THE US: Peace in the Middle East is important. You can't divide it into, let's say, Syria, Palestine, Lebanon, Iraq, et cetera. You have to tackle it as a global issue.

JACK STRAW, FORMER BRITISH FOREIGN SECRETARY: Getting the American economy back on track, sorting out the financial system even more in America, because it's through that that the financial and fiscal crisis in America can also help to resolve the even bigger crisis in Europe.

EVE ENSLER, PLAYWRIGHT, "THE VAGINA MONOLOGUES": The top priority for the next US president should be to end violence against women and girls and make every woman and girl safe in this country and free and able to walk anywhere they want, wear whatever they want at any time of day.

BERNARD-HENRI LEVY, FRENCH PHILOSOPHER: For America, more than ever, I know that domestic problems are very important, but foreign policy should be the priority.

JEFFREY SACHS, DIRECTOR, EARTH INSTITUTE, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: Internationally, I think the whole world has to get its arms around sustainable development, meaning how are we finally going to respect the environment, the climate, our needs, at the same time that we're trying to manage our economies.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: All right. Some of the news makers who've appeared on CNN in the past couple of months, telling us what they think the next US president's top priority should be. You've been having your say tonight. Tweet me @BeckyCNN.

Jackson Adigbolo, I hope I pronounced your twitter handle correctly: "Obama is a better candidate. Romney has no clear plans on how he's going to create those 12 million jobs, as if by just voting him into office," he says.

And another one coming in for you this evening. "The next president should devise a plan to curb global warming and put an end to conflicts in Africa and the Middle East." Timi Kuti tweeting me this evening. Keep them coming.

Music has long played a role in elections. It used to make a point, or at least to try and sway the sensibilities of voters. In tonight's Parting Shots, Atika brings us a 2012 campaign soundtrack, complete with the hits and, let me tell you, the misses.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Over the past 18 months, lines have been drawn in the US election. Who has the best policies? Who is the greater debater? Who is a better leader? And, it seems, who has the X Factor.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES (singing): I --

(CROWD CHEERS)

OBAMA: -- am so in love with you.

(CROWD CHEERS)

SHUBERT: And then came this from Mitt Romney.

MITT ROMNEY (R), US PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (singing): America, America, God shed his grace on thee.

SHUBERT: But the music didn't end there. The two candidates apparently inspired the online community to join in.

THIRDEAGLEBROOK, YOUTUBE (singing): Way, hay, we need Mitt Romney, way hay we need Mitt Romney, way hay --

SHUBERT: And fans from both sides of the political divide have chimed in.

ILLY ILL, SINGER (singing): Four more years, fighting through the drama, still need change, so I'm still down with Obama.

SHUBERT: But for every heartfelt song, there have also been multiple parodies. Anti-Obama --

JUSTINEWPRODUCTIONS, YOUTUBE (singing): That is just Obama that I used to know. Obama! That I used to know.

SHUBERT: And anti-Romney --

BEN SHEEHAN, YOUTUBE (singing): I'm so rich and funny, drop the R, flip the O and the M and I'm Money.

SHUBERT: And what would an election in 2012 be without a presidential spin on one of the biggest YouTube hits of the year.

SUBURBANHOMEBOY, YOUTUBE (singing): Obama style! Obama style! O -- O -- O -- O --

COLLEGE HUMOR, YOUTUBE (singing): Mitt Romney style! Romney style! Mitt -- Mitt -- Mitt -- Mitt -- Mitt -- Mitt Romney style!

SHUBERT: To date, though, it is songs featuring the candidates own voices that seem to be hitting the right note. "Call Me Maybe" by mashup master Baracksdubs boasting more than 30 million views on YouTube.

OBAMA (clips edited together to "Call Me Maybe" music): Hey, I just met you. And this is crazy. But here's my number, so call me maybe.

SHUBERT: But as American musicians the Gregory Brothers have found, Mitt Romney has also been spreading the love.

ROMNEY (clips edited together to music): I like silly stuff, I like band aids. I like grits. I like "Twilight." I love this country. I like music of almost any kind, including this.

SHUBERT: Trending online, the candidates may be, but it's at the ballot box on Tuesday where they're hoping to be a hit.

Atika Shubert, CNN, London.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: A good evening from London.

END