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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Bank Bailout; The Sarah Palin Effect; Jill Biden Campaigns

Aired September 19, 2008 - 22:00   ET

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


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, breaking news, word that the massive plan to rescue the American financial system, all of it, is now heading to Congress, literally, this according to the Dow Jones News Service, the White House reportedly sending top lawmakers the details tonight, right now, just 24 hours after an extraordinary and chilling meeting on Capitol Hill in which the Federal Reserve chairman reportedly said the system was just days away from total collapse. Strong stuff, strong medicine.
The question is, will it work, half-a-trillion dollars or more, perhaps much more, to clean up the chain reaction wreckage of the mortgage meltdown, to essentially buy up all the bad debt now hanging over the U.S. economy?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: America's economy is facing unprecedented challenges. And we're responding with unprecedented action.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: The news sent markets soaring, the Dow up more than 350 today, now within just a few points of where it was before this week's meltdown started. What a week, Lehman Brothers gone, Merrill Lynch bought, AIG lent $85 billion from -- well, from you and me, new rules for investing, $180 billion pumped into global markets.

Right now, we do not yet know the details of what this monster bailout actually is, only that it will be massive and costly and in the short term, in the short term, may have saved the economy from utter disaster. The long term, that's another question, your money, your vote, your future .

Let's talk about it. CNN's Ali Velshi is working the story. He joins us now.

Let's start, Ali, breaking the news down. This plan being sent over to Capitol Hill, what do we know about it?

ALI VELSHI, CNN SENIOR BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Last night was the setup. That was Henry Paulson, Ben Bernanke, Chris Cox, the chairman of the SEC, meeting with congressional leaders, laying down the law, saying, this is where we're going to need to do. Are you up to the challenge?

They all came out -- we had reported this last night -- and said, we're up to it. Now that plan has gone from the White House to Congress and they're going to work through the weekend. We could have a plan announced as early as Sunday night or Monday.

COOPER: What, theoretically, does this mean? How does this bailout theoretically work?

VELSHI: What this means is, instead of these weekly or every two-week bailout or issues where they're trying to save a financial services firm, they are going to try and figure out how much all of this bad debt is, create one big trust or entity, that is going to take all that bad debt, like a storm washes it and cleans up a street, and we're going to start as if there weren't all of this bad debt.

COOPER: We have got other analysts we're going to bring in, in a moment. But, just on the facts, where is all this money coming from?

VELSHI: Now, we don't have this money. The Federal Reserve doesn't even have enough money, if it's going to be hundreds of billions of dollars, like Henry Paulson said today.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: So, they're just going to print it up.

VELSHI: But they are going to have to issue bonds and sell those bonds and get money for them. That's what we call printing money.

COOPER: So, the idea is, we're out of the woods. Certainly, the markets seemed to react. Does this mean we're really out of the woods?

VELSHI: No. No. First of all, the market reacted the way it did for several reasons today. There were several factors at play that caused that market to go up. I don't think we're out of the woods. We need to see what this plan is, how much it's going to cost.

And what I think people are going to missed is, we may have averted absolute disaster, but we're not going to see more jobs created. We're not going to see housing prices go up as an immediate response to this. And we might see stocks start to recover. But this is a backstop. This stopped us from sliding back further. It has not put us any further ahead.

COOPER: I want to bring in some other analysts, Peter Schiff, author of "Crash Proof: How to Profit From the Coming Economic Collapse." He's a financial adviser and presidential -- financial adviser to presidential candidate Ron Paul. Also John Fund of "The Wall Street Journal" and author of "Stealing Elections: How Voter Fraud Threatens Our Democracy."

Peter, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said that the government is taking such drastic action -- well, here's how he explained it. Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HENRY PAULSON, U.S. TREASURY SECRETARY: I am convinced that this bold approach will cost American families far less than the alternative: a continuing series of financial institution failures and frozen credit markets unable to fund economic expansion.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: You say he's dead wrong.

PETER SCHIFF, AUTHOR, "CRASH PROOF: HOW TO PROFIT FROM THE COMING ECONOMIC COLLAPSE": Well, he's constantly been wrong.

Remember, this is the guy that said subprime was contained. This is the guy who, a few weeks ago, said the bazooka in his pocket would never have to be used, and now he basically launched a nuclear warhead. Basically, you have to remember that the government is the one that infected the economy with this disease. And now this government cure is going to kill us.

COOPER: By trying to control the market, you're saying, earlier on?

SCHIFF: Well, by artificially manipulating interest rates, because Alan Greenspan lowered interest rates down to practically nothing. And he force-fed all this cheap money into the economy.

It's because of the Fed that we had all these teaser rates and adjustable-rate mortgages. It's because of the Fed that we had a housing bubble. Without the Fed...

COOPER: So, you're saying this bailout is going to do what now?

SCHIFF: Well, it's going to make the situation worse. All we're doing is creating inflation. We're not eliminating these losses.

VELSHI: Well, worse than what? Worse than, every two weeks, having a discussion about taking over a bank and then the Federal Reserve have to...

(CROSSTALK)

VELSHI: ... money for it?

SCHIFF: A lot of -- look, banks are going to fail. They loaned trillions of dollars to Americans who can't pay it back.

COOPER: You say, let the market work itself out. We're going to have failure. We will have a recession, but that will be less painful than what is going to -- you say is going to happen down the road.

(CROSSTALK)

SCHIFF: Yes.

Just remember, if we would have had a more severe recession back in 2001, 2002, we wouldn't have had these problems. But the government intervened. They didn't want that recession, so they pushed off the problems.

Now we're getting the problems in spades, and now you have the politicians again -- they can only see as far as the next election. They don't care how much long-term damage they do. This is going to destroy the value of our currency and send prices through the roof.

COOPER: I want to bring in John Fund.

John, Fed Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke reportedly told congressional leaders the financial system is maybe days away from a complete meltdown. Who do you agree with here? What -- is this better than what the alternative was?

JOHN FUND, COLUMNIST, "THE WALL STREET JOURNAL": I think it's a necessary evil.

I agree with Peter on how we got here. But I also say I think you have to quell the panic, because the panic is probably a little bit excessive -- 2.7 percent of mortgages are in foreclosure. In the Great Depression, the rate was 20 times higher than that. We're nowhere near that.

I think what we have do is, very simply, clean up all of the stuff the way we did the savings and loan mess. It's going to be expensive. It's going to be painful. There will be inflation. But the savings and loan mess, we bundled all of the assets together. We cleaned them up and were able to sell them at a decent price later.

We can get through this. The real problem, I think, here is, is a political crisis, not an economic crisis. Every member -- almost every member of Congress is up for election in six weeks. They were not going to sit around and do nothing and take even the smallest risk we were heading for a financial precipice.

(CROSSTALK)

FUND: I don't think we were. But this is -- this is a political decision, not an economic decision.

COOPER: Is it good to make a economic decisions, Peter, in the midst of a political crisis? I mean, wasn't the Homeland Security Department created in the midst of a political crisis?

SCHIFF: Well...

(CROSSTALK)

SCHIFF: Crisis -- government love crises, because they get more power.

We got the withholding tax as a temporary victory tax in the Second World War. We won the war, but we still have the tax. The problem is, the government never cedes this power. And this is an economic crisis.

Our economy is a mess. The very foundations of our economy are -- are messed up.

FUND: Peter, the Reconstruction Finance Corporation lasted seven years. It went out of business. It did its work. We did get rid of it. There is precedent for doing this and getting out of the market.

SCHIFF: Look, we still have programs that were enacted during the Great Depression that are still around.

FUND: I'm simply saying, in the savings and loan, we got out. We did the job and got out.

SCHIFF: Well, I don't trust it.

(CROSSTALK)

SCHIFF: But, remember, this is an economic crisis, though.

(CROSSTALK)

VELSHI: There was something that was very interesting that was today by Henry Paulson. And he said, how we got here and how we resolve this and how we regulate it in the future is a remarkable debate. It is not the debate for today, unfortunately. The debate today is to get something solved.

(CROSSTALK)

VELSHI: And we have to solve it.

(CROSSTALK)

VELSHI: He said that not solving it is no solution, because we have people losing jobs.

SCHIFF: But, Ali...

VELSHI: We have homes losing values.

SCHIFF: ... we're dealing with the systems. The disease is that our economy is screwed up. We don't save enough. We're borrowing a bunch of money from the rest of the world to consume. That's not a viable economy.

VELSHI: Right. You're saying that is not a solution.

SCHIFF: We have to do the opposite.

VELSHI: And I think you're right. This is a backstop, not a solution.

(CROSSTALK)

VELSHI: The solution still has to come. But we do need a backstop.

SCHIFF: Right. But Americans... (CROSSTALK)

COOPER: John, what about that? We're borrowing money, huge sums of money, for this -- for the wars -- for wars overseas. We're borrowing from China. We're borrowing from other countries. And, now, suddenly, we're going to come up with another trillion dollars? Where does the money come from?

FUND: Well, first of all, foreign governments are still very much confident that the United States meets its obligations.

Secondly, the dollar has strengthened...

(CROSSTALK)

FUND: Excuse me. The dollar has strengthened the last few weeks and the price of oil has come down. The market...

SCHIFF: That won't last.

FUND: Excuse me.

Bottom line, we can get through this. The stock market recovered today. That shows short-term confidence in this financial situation. That means the panic is going to be stanched. We can get through this.

I wish we didn't have to do this. But, unfortunately, members of Congress panic. That's what they do, especially when they're facing voters.

COOPER: John, if the Fed hadn't acted now, in your opinion, what kind of recession would we be facing?

FUND: Well, first of all, we're not in recession. We have had two quarters of economic growth the last...

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Well, do you think we would be in recession?

(CROSSTALK)

SCHIFF: That's because the government is lying about inflation.

(CROSSTALK)

VELSHI: There is nobody who is left in America who believes that.

SCHIFF: We're in a deep recession. The government is assuming annual inflation is 1.2 percent a year. That's how they get these phony GDP numbers.

(CROSSTALK)

SCHIFF: We're in a bad recession.

(CROSSTALK)

FUND: The Federal Reserve -- the Federal Reserve should not be in the business of bailing out people and taking on bad assets. It should be put into the -- something like the Resolution Trust Corporation, which we have. They are going to handle it. We got through this in the savings and loan debacle 20 years ago. Read your history. We're also a bigger economy.

COOPER: So, OK, bottom line, just from each of you, without getting too sort of wonkish, because I know you're all much smarter than certainly I am on economic matters, but, just for the general audience -- let's start off, John, with you -- what is good what happened today, what is bad, from your opinion?

FUND: What is bad is the precedent that it sets for massive government intervention in our economy, bringing us closer to the way that the Europeans handle centralized economic decisions.

What is good is, we have stopped the panic. People all over the country right now are feeling a sense of relief, that there is light at the end of this tunnel. And, next week, we're going to start sorting through the assets. We're going to try to find out how big, how deep the hole is, and we will get through the election. And the election is the biggest peril...

COOPER: Peter...

FUND: ... because they one thing you don't want to do is have Congress acting...

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: ... for you, is there any -- is there any good -- good out of this?

SCHIFF: No. This is a disaster. Don't believe the government.

You know, the government is telling us that they're preserving our savings, protecting our bank deposits. They are going to loot our deposits through inflation.

If you're smart, you will pull your money out of your money market and out of the bank. Buy gold. Buy foreign currencies. They're going to turn the dollar into confetti.

COOPER: You're saying even out of a bank which is federally insured up to $100,000?

SCHIFF: It's not safe. You get your money back, but you lose the value of your money. The purchasing power is going to collapse. Forget this phony rally we have had on the dollar in the last few weeks. The dollar is going to literally fall apart, based on what they're doing.

COOPER: Ali, that is pretty scary advice.

VELSHI: There is validity to the fact that, if you keep printing money, you dilute the value of the money that you have got. These are all important discussions.

The bottom line is, we do have a crisis. We do not have a fundamentally sound economy right now. We need the government to admit that that's the case. And we need to have a plan.

Now, if somebody has got a better plan than the one that is on its way to Capitol Hill at this moment, now is the time to talk about it, this very weekend. If you don't, something has to happen.

COOPER: All right, we're going to have to leave it there.

Ali Velshi, Peter Schiff, John Fund, thank you. Interesting discussion. Appreciate it.

As always, going to be blogging throughout the hour. I'm already online. You can join the conversation, AC360.com. You will also find Erica Hill's live Web site during the break. Only, tonight, instead of Erica, it's (INAUDIBLE) Friday. So, Kevin is going to take over. It's also International Talk Like a Pirate Day. I'm not really sure what that is about.

Also tonight, John McCain on the economy, on the offensive. Is he landing any blows, or has Obama taken this issue away from him?

Later, Sarah Palin's effect on women voters. Her nomination caused a sensation, no doubt about it. See, though, how it's translating into votes, or not -- when 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: The crisis on Wall Street started in the Washington culture of lobbying and influence peddling, and he was right square in this middle of it.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: John McCain and I can continue to argue about our different economic agendas for next year, but we should come together now to work on what this country urgently needs.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: John McCain lacing into -- lashing into Barack Obama, Senator Obama spending much of the day counterpunching.

The fact is, though, for all the rhetoric, both candidates support a financial bailout, even if neither completely embraces it.

CNN's Dana Bash now with the "Raw Politics."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After starting the week with what even advisers admit were a series of stumbles in the face of financial crisis, John McCain played offense, using a take-charge tone, laying out what he would do to prevent another financial meltdown.

MCCAIN: Government has a clear responsibility to act and to defend the public interest. That's exactly what I intend to do.

BASH: At a hastily arranged address at a Wisconsin chamber of commerce, McCain called for a new government trust designed to step in before financial institutions reach crisis.

MCCAIN: An early intervention program to help financial institutions avoid bankruptcy, expensive bailouts and damage to their customers.

BASH: McCain is urgently trying to convince voters he has got a specific plan for Wall Street and Main Street. But advisers say his campaign strategy depends as much on discrediting Barack Obama's credentials on the economy as presenting his own.

MCCAIN: Maybe, just this once, he could spare us the lectures and admit to his own poor judgment in contributing to these problems.

BASH: That's a direct attack on Obama for taking more than $100,000 from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and taking advice from two of Fannie's former CEOs, Franklin Raines and Jim Johnson.

MCCAIN: And while Fannie Mae was betraying the public trust, somehow, its former CEO had managed to gain my opponent's trust, to the point that Senator Obama actually put him in charge of his vice presidential search.

BASH: Obama's response?

OBAMA: After spending the entire campaign saying I haven't been in Washington long enough, he apparently now is willing to assign me responsibility for all of Washington's failures. I think it's pretty clear that Senator McCain is a little panicked right now.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

BASH: But the image Obama wanted to get across wasn't so much this, as this, flanked by economic advisers, trying to look and sound the part of chief executive dealing with crisis.

OBAMA: What we're looking at right now is to provide the Treasury and the Federal Reserve with as broad authority as is necessary to stabilize markets and to maintain credit.

BASH: Obama made clear he supports efforts under way in Washington to rescue sinking financial markets, as long as lenders responsible aren't rewarded.

For now, he's said he's holding off on offering his own plan. Camp McCain calls that sitting on the sidelines. Obama calls it responsible.

OBAMA: You don't do it in a day. We have got to do it in an intelligent, systematic, thoughtful fashion.

BASH: Inside seven weeks out, there's no doubt what issue dominates. The competition now is to prove they have got the skills to lead, at a time of major economic jitters.

Dana Bash, CNN, Blaine, Minnesota.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, up next, no rhetoric, just the facts, breaking down the bailout, take economy, and the candidates.

And, later, perhaps the least known of all the candidate spouses, Jill Biden, who she is and the central role she plays in her not-so- regular Joe's life.

Also, wooing women voters and some new polling that speaks to the Sarah Palin effect. What exactly is that effect, and how's it wearing three weeks on?

That and more -- ahead on 360.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Back to breaking news -- the Dow Jones News Service reporting that the White House has sent Congress a plan to rescue the entire American financial system, and the cost, at the very, hundreds of billions of dollars to take over troubled mortgages.

So, with the cost of running the government, the so-called normal expenses, that is, plus waging a war, two wars, and earlier bailouts, along with that stimulus package, we ask, can America afford all that government officials and the candidates say they need to fix this economy?

Let's have a fact-check. Let's go to 360's Tom Foreman in Washington -- Tom.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, the number-one response of economic analysts to all these ambitious plans being pushed by these candidates is just this: Show me the money, especially in light of federal officials saying it could take hundreds of billions just to get the economy back on course now.

Before all this latest turmoil, Barack Obama said he would find the money for his plans by taxing the windfall profits of oil companies, hitting wealthier Americans up for more taxes, too, and cutting wasteful spending.

John McCain is looking a lot closer to his office on Capitol Hill. He likes the idea of first going after wasteful federal spending, cutting out pork projects, although those really don't add up to that much in the big picture, and balancing the budget. And he, a bit more than Obama, it seems, talks about reinvigorating foreign trade, although they both talk about it.

But look what has already been taken out of Uncle Sam's piggy bank, the economic stimulus package, $150 billion, the bailout of Bear Stearns, about $30 billion, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, another $200 billion, AIG, $85 billion. That adds up to almost a half-trillion dollars.

And federal officials, as you mentioned, are now suggesting the total tab for fixing the economy could take hundreds of billions, maybe a trillion, maybe a trillion-and-a-half. It's a big number, no matter how you look at it. Some of that money could come back into federal accounts if assets from these companies can be sold off at a good price. And that's what they're hoping for.

But, even if that goes well, "Keeping Them Honest," in this environment, many economic analysts seriously doubt if McCain or Obama can pay for their programs without badly inflating the national deficit.

The Concord Coalition -- it's a bipartisan group that studies such things -- told me today it comes down to really a basic idea: Cutting taxes and increasing services, which is what both of these men are still promising, is a very tough trick that rarely succeeds -- Anderson.

COOPER: For, also, all the talk over the last couple years of Republicans cutting the size of government, we have a huge government, probably bigger than ever before. If each candidate could all the things he says he wants to do, how much would each plan cost?

FOREMAN: Yes. You know, this is the problem, Anderson. We don't know, and I don't think they know.

There are so many moving parts to these programs they're proposing, and so many of them are dependent upon tax flow in and revenue flow out, and all of the -- it's unbelievable, all the moving parts.

That's one of the reasons people are so wary of listening to the promises of both of these men, and saying, you will do these things? On top of which, we haven't even talked about the political reality. The truth is, no matter what they're proposing, they have got to get it past Congress. And, as you and I both know, there are a lot of great plans out there that die on the vine.

COOPER: All right, Tom Foreman "Keeping Them Honest" -- thanks, Tom.

Up next, our political panel weighs in on our breaking news, the plan to bail out America's banks.

Also tonight, women voters courted like never before. The question is,Sarah Palin, is she paying off for the GOP? Her poll numbers are declining. We will talk about that.

And a man stuck in a museum's ventilation system, he calls 911. You might not believe why he desperately needed to break in to the building in the first place.

We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: After spending the entire campaign saying I haven't been in Washington long enough, he apparently now is willing to assign me responsibility for all of Washington's failures. I think it's pretty clear that Senator McCain is a little panicked right now.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Senator Obama today hitting hard on his opponent's statements about how to handle the nation's financial crisis. That's our breaking news tonight, the Dow Jones News Service reports, the White House has sent its bank rescue plan to Capitol Hill. That's happening now.

And, of course, the candidates each have their own economic vision.

Joining us for a "Strategy Session," CNN senior political contributor Ed Rollins, a Republican strategist and former Huckabee campaign chairman, CNN political contributor Hilary Rosen, a Democratic strategist, and senior political correspondent Candy Crowley.

Hilary, let's start out with you.

Do either of these candidates really have a grip on what is happening?

HILARY ROSEN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, it's -- I think it's pretty important that candidates, at this stage, when you have got the secretary of the treasury and the leadership of both the House and Senate, saying this is a super-delicate time, for them to kind of step back a little bit and not think only about playing politics.

I thought that Barack Obama caught the right tone today, when he said, I have got some visions. I have got some principles. We want to protect Main Street, not just Wall Street, and...

COOPER: But he has been hitting McCain extraordinarily hard over the last couple days. Maybe he pulled back a little bit today.

ROSEN: He has been.

But, when it became clear last night that there was going to be a specific proposal that was going to go to Congress and have to get considered in emergency fashion, I think he did the right thing.

John McCain, I think, sort of was trying to play catchup from a week of, you know, being behind. And he didn't want to make that same concession.

COOPER: Ed, how...

ROSEN: So, in part, they have to be careful.

COOPER: Ed, how do you see this having changed the race already?

ED ROLLINS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, it certainly gives Obama the opportunities, a little bit of a momentum swing. And it certainly should be his issue. It hasn't -- he hasn't caught it yet, but it should be his issue.

My concern, whether the two candidates understand it or not, I hope the administration understands it. This is on their watch. And what scares me about this is that they are rushing this thing. And they claim they have to.

But, in my 40 years of being around Washington, any time they rush a bill, any time they put something complicated together, you end up with something that you have no idea what it's going to be. And...

COOPER: The other question is, how much is being driven by the politicians on Capitol Hill, and how much is being driven by the financial experts, or alleged experts, who are actually running it? If political decisions are driving this thing, that's -- that's frightening.

ROSEN: I think very little right now is being driven by the politics.

(CROSSTALK)

ROSEN: I think it's very clear that Hank Paulson and Ben Bernanke are in charge, and that Barney Frank and Chris Dodd, who are the chairmen of the House and Senate Banking Committee, Speaker Pelosi, Leader Reid, they are pretty much following. They're waiting for this proposal to come up.

The key issue for the Democrats will be, do we take what they give us, and do pass it, you know, as it is, or do we try and put our stamp on it?

And that's a decision that will get made, you know, Monday, and Tuesday, Wednesday.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: You know, Candy, it's interesting, listening -- I have been listening to other programs tonight.

And you hear, you know, partisans on each side still bickering at each other and yelling at each other. And it just -- it sounds, at least to my ear, different than it did even last week, like, you kind of don't want to hear that stuff anymore. You kind of want to hear how it's going to work in a bipartisan way.

Is that reflected in what you're seeing on the campaign trail?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I think so, at least for the last 24 hours.

Listen, the tone changed when you saw them come out of that meeting, when you heard Senator Schumer describe what it was like in that meeting. I think it sobered everybody up, not just on the campaign trail, but up on Capitol Hill, which is as partisan as you're going to get.

I think they all kind of got the gravity of this, when it was explained to them in that secret meeting. So, yes, it has changed it.

And -- and the other thing is that -- that it was made very clear, to both Paulson and Bernanke, that they needed to come up with this plan. The Democrats did not want a lot of plans out there, well, let's do this, well, let's do that, to kind of muddy the waters. They said, you guys bring us a plan.

And that's exactly what's happening. And, so, you saw Obama step back.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Candy, also, there's -- there's been some shifting in CNN's electoral estimates in the past couple days. And I want to just get your thoughts.

Let's take the map on the wall. Let's start off with Missouri. It had been considered a tossup. CNN is now describing it as leaning McCain. And then Wisconsin, it had been -- it had been leaning Obama. CNN is now calling that a tossup. And the other change tonight is in -- in Oregon. That goes from lean Obama to safely in Obama's column.

What -- what surprises you most in any of this?

CROWLEY: You know, honestly, not a lot of it surprises me.

I think Missouri -- I'm from there -- it's a fairly conservative state. But, honestly, you know, we don't see a lot of difference here. I think those -- all of those states could easily swing. Oregon, I'm not so sure. But -- but all of those battleground states have been very, very close. They're still very, very close.

COOPER: Hilary, you say it's going to boil down to Ohio? You believe Ohio this time around?

ROSEN: No, actually I don't.

COOPER: No? What do you think it boils down to?

ROSEN: I think it boils down to either Florida or a combination of New Mexico, Colorado and New Hampshire, Virginia, one of those. Obviously, if you get Florida, you don't need all of those other states.

COOPER: Right.

ROSEN: But I actually think that the way the Obama campaign is positioned right now, with the significant youth vote in Florida and a very significant heretofore unregistered African-American vote, which they've worked very hard on in the Obama campaign, a Latino vote, bringing the Jews home with Joe Biden, they actually, I think, have a better chance in Florida in some respects than in Ohio.

BECK: Ed, you know this better than other -- it's all about where you put your resources. Where should John McCain...

ROLLINS: Those three states, if he loses Florida, the game is over. There's no way we can put the combination together. You can play funny numbers. But Florida really is a part of our coalition. California no longer is. So we need Florida. We need Texas.

COOPER: You think Florida is in play?

ROLLINS: I think Florida is in play. I also think Michigan and Ohio are in play. And I think the bottom line, if Obama loses Michigan, he can't win. If we lose Ohio or Florida, we can't win.

ROSEN: That's right, yes. We need to hold onto Michigan and Pennsylvania, and we need to pick up one of those others.

COOPER: Ed Rollins, Hilary Rosen, Candy Crowley, thanks very much. We're actually going to be talking to all of you in just a couple of minutes.

Up next, though, a tumultuous week on Wall Street ending with oil prices back up. We'll tell you what to expect we might be paying at the pump.

And later, we go up close with Joe Biden's wife, Jill. She's a mother, professor, college professor, and campaigns for her husband and Barack Obama. Little know, though, we'll tell you what you need to know. Coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: In moment, Jill Biden, wife of Obama -- of Obama running mate Joe Biden in a key battleground state today, campaigning on women's issues. We have an up-close look at Mrs. Biden. You don't hear much about her on the campaign trail.

But first, Tom Foreman joins us with a "360 News and Business Bulletin" -- Tom.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks, Anderson.

Just a week after 25 people died in a suburban Los Angeles rail collision, another train crash there tonight. At least 15 people were hurt, none seriously, when a mechanic drove an out-of-service bus in front of a train near downtown L.A.

China's tainted milk scandal continues to widen. Tests confirm the presence of the industrial chemical melamine in liquid milk. Tainted formula in powder form is already blamed for killing four infants and sickening thousands.

Oil prices jumped $6 a barrel today, pushing the price back into the $100 territory, closing at $104. Gas prices fell for the second straight day to an average for unleaded regular, $3.80 a gallon.

And an unsolved mystery possibly closer to being solved by the fury of Hurricane Ike. When the waves receded on an Alabama beach, a shipwreck was left in almost full view. Check it out. The searchers say it's probably a Civil War-era schooner that ran aground 146 years ago.

COOPER: That's incredible.

FOREMAN: It's partially uncovered. Yes, it's unbelievable. Partially uncovered by Hurricane Camille back in 1869. They think it might be a battleship from the south that was called the Monticello or the Monti-chell-o. That part of the mystery remains unclear.

COOPER: Well, it is International Talk like a Pirate Day so...

FOREMAN: Aye, it is, me friend.

COOPER: All right.

Here's tonight's "Beat 360" photo: Senator McCain, who makes quotation marks with his hands during a speech on country's financial crisis in Green Bay, Wisconsin today.

Here's the caption from our staff winner, Joey: "My plan, to bail out the entire financial sector with $1 million! Muhahahaha!"

(SOUND EFFECT: GUFFAWS)

COOPER: Think you can do better? Go to AC360.com, click on the "Beat 360" link, send us your entry. We'll announce the winner at the end of the program. Of course, the winner gets a T-shirt.

Up next, when she's not campaigning, she's a college professor. We'll take an up-close look at Senator Joe Biden's wife, Jill, just like we've take a took a look at Todd Palin, Sarah Palin's husband. Jill Biden is stumping for her husband and Barack Obama across the country.

And later, Erica Hill takes a look at Governor Palin's affect on female voters. Is her star power earning her ticket votes from women, or is her star falling? Tonight on 360.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JILL BIDEN, WIFE OF JOE BIDEN: Our families, the Obama and Biden families, are working for your families, so that I hope that you will join us, all of you. Join us, bring your families, and we can make change happen in America.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Jill Biden on the trail today in Virginia, where she was campaigning on women's issues in the key battleground state. Now, like many women today, Jill Biden is no stranger to the balancing act, juggling her career as an educator with her role as a wife, a mom, and a grandmother.

Last night we profiled Todd Palin, the husband of John McCain's running mate, Sarah Palin. So now we turn to the Democrats. 360's David Mattingly has an up-close look at Mrs. Biden.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JILL BIDEN: My husband, my hero, your next vice president, Joe Biden.

DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): She's been quietly married to a U.S. senator for 31 years. But Jill Biden has suddenly become an important voice in a very tight race.

JILL BIDEN: As women, we all care about health care, education, equal pay for equal work, and a woman's right to choose.

KIKI MCLEAN, DEMOCRATIC CONSULTANT: She's a working woman. She's a mother. She's a grandmother. She understands a lot of the concerns, and there are a lot of Americans she can talk to.

MATTINGLY: And she speaks as a Washington outsider. While her husband, Senator Joe Biden commuted to work on the train, Jill Biden stayed in Delaware, earned a Ph.D. in education. She pursued her own teaching career and her own causes, including literacy and breast cancer, the disease that claimed the life of a friend.

(on camera) Jill Biden says it was her urging, along with the help of her now grown children, that convinced her husband this time to run for president. And now on the ticket with the Obamas, Jill Biden isn't staying in Delaware anymore.

(voice-over) We followed Jill Biden, working crowds in swing state Virginia, appealing to women and college students.

JILL BIDEN: I'm an educator, I'm Jill Biden, and I feel right at home at a college campus.

MATTINGLY: She's gone on record saying she probably would have never been politically active if she hadn't married a senator.

The couple wed in 1977, five years after Biden's first wife and young daughter were killed in a car wreck. Jill instantly became a mother to Biden's two young boys before giving birth to a daughter. She is Protestant and did not convert to her husband's religion of Catholicism.

Jill and her husband reported income in 2006 of $320,000. That's relatively low by Senate standards. When she's not campaigning, Jill Biden continues to teach at a Delaware community college, with no announced plans to give up her day job.

David Mattingly, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Jill Biden, Michelle Obama, Sarah Palin, all are courting the female vote, a crucial voting bloc. Here's the raw data.

In the 2004 presidential election, 65 percent of women 18 years or older went to the polls, compared to 62 percent of men. As for voter registration, numbers were 74 percent for eligible women and 71 percent for men.

So up next, battling for that female vote. Who has the edge this time? Is Sarah Palin making an impact or losing it over the last three weeks? We're "Uncovering America."

Later this...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARD A. SMITH, CAUGHT ON ROOF: I've kind of got myself into a position that I can't get myself out of.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Yes, that's putting it mildly. That's the roof of a museum, not where you want to get stuck. The guy's story just didn't add up when he called 911. It's our "Shot of the Day" when 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHELLE OBAMA, WIFE OF BARACK OBAMA: For me, the policies that affect women and families, this isn't just about politics for me. These issues are personal.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Michelle Obama on the stump yesterday in Virginia, where she participated in an economic roundtable with working women.

With just 46 days to go until the election, women voters are being targeted like never before. The question tonight: is Sarah Palin paying off for the GOP? 360's Erica Hill, "Uncovering America."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): The female vote has never been more prominent or more in play. From Hillary supporters to hockey moms, it seems every pundit and pollster will tell you, this year, women matter. The truth is, they always have. RUTH MANDEL, CENTER FOR AMERICAN WOMEN & POLITICS: One striking difference this year, with reference to women, is that everybody knows that women are important to the outcome of this election. Both political parties and both national campaigns are focused on the women's vote.

HILL (on camera): And they need to be. In the latest CNN/Opinion Research polls, nearly 20 percent of female voters say they could still change their minds come election day. And with just six weeks left in this neck and neck race, the candidates need to get specific.

MANDEL: I think that the bread-and-butter issues, the pocketbook issues, the issues that have to do with how I take care of my family, those are the issues candidates have to connect with them over.

HILL: One connection impossible to ignore: the woman on the ticket.

GOV. SARAH PALIN (R-AK), VICE-PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Thanks, guys.

HILL: Sarah Palin has provided a much-needed boost of energy for the GOP, drawing huge crowds on the trail, and Republicans are confident that momentum could swing some women voters their way.

BAY BUCHANAN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Women are not naturally voting Republican, and yet we seem to have captured enormous numbers of them that would -- should have been going the other way. The reason: he has sent a message that, "Yes, I do understand your values and I share them," is because he brought Sarah Palin on board.

HILL: That may be more wishful thinking than reality. CNN polls show the number of women voting for McCain is virtually unchanged since Palin joined the ticket. And her unfavorable rating is on the rise.

For women's rights groups like the National Organization for Women and the feminist Majority Political Action Committee, Palin's gender had no effect. They endorsed Obama this week.

ELEANOR SMEAL, CHAIRMAN, FEMINIST MAJORITY PAC: We endorsed Obama because of his position the on issues. It's strong on economic rights. It's strong on closing the wage gap. It's strong on reproductive choice and family planning.

HILL: Historically, more women than men vote Democratic, but Mandel warns it is not a guarantee.

MANDEL: One of the complaints that women have been making is the Democratic Party have taken them for granted.

MANDEL: For those women who felt offended by the way that some of the media and some -- some others in the party dismissed or didn't respect the Clinton candidacy, were in a sense very rife and very ready to identify with a woman who -- whose message was, "Well, I'm not going to take that. I'm going to stand up and fight."

HILL: But is that woman enough to make the difference in this fight for the White House?

Erica Hill, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: All right. With more now on the latest polling and women voters, as well as the issues that have galvanized them, joining us again, GOP strategist and CNN political contributor Ed Rollins; Democratic strategist and CNN political contributor Hillary Rosen; and senior political correspondent Candy Crowley.

Ed, do you agree? Do you -- first of all, do you buy this CNN poll which shows that Sarah Palin hasn't brought women over to the McCain side? And if that's true, what has she done?

ROLLINS: She's energized our base. She has energized, I think, and given us an opportunity to get independent women.

I never thought there was any opportunity for us to go get Hillary Clinton's Democrats, because they're Democrats, and they're going to come home, as Democrats always do and Republicans always do. But I think she...

COOPER: Except for Lady de Rothschild?

ROLLINS: Well, and at the end of the day, Hillary may get her back, no offense. But I think the reality is that she -- she has made us -- given us a play in that community of women.

And women aren't a singular group. They're the largest group of voters in the country and they all have different -- but I think she has given us a voice. I don't think a 72-year-old man could go out and talk about any of the issues that she can talk about and have the relevance. So I think -- I think she's been a great addition.

COOPER: Candy, we've heard time and time again, white working- class women voters are the ones with whom Obama has the most trouble. Has the campaign figured out a way to -- to bring them in?

CROWLEY: Well, you know, it starts with Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama. You've certainly seen a number of women out there: Claire McCaskill, senator from Missouri. The are out there pushing his agenda.

In fact, Obama did a woman's forum today and talked about abortion rights, talked about family leave, talked about jobs, talked about all the things considered to be women's issues, although, you know, to me, they're all kind of co-mingling. I think women are as interested in jobs and the economy as men are. So we're kind of at the same place.

But certainly, there was a big push. I mean, this is -- you know, women still vote more for Democrats, and men still vote more for Republicans. I think it would be wrong, actually, to look at Sarah Palin as an attempt to bring in women. I think she, as Ed alludes to, was an attempt to bring in the conservative base. And she proved to be more popular among men than among women.

COOPER: We learned today that Hillary Clinton is going to be launching a new effort to try to get her supporters to campaign for Obama in battleground states. Have they used Hillary Clinton well, do you think?

ROSEN: Well, I think -- I don't know about using Hillary Clinton, but she is -- she is committed to doing this. And she's moving out and, you know, over the last couple of weeks hasn't had as much visibility.

The key issue, I think, with women is how it breaks down, not with women versus men, but with college-educated women versus non- college-educated women, Obama has a -- and they're about half and half. Obama has the overwhelming majority of the college-educated women. McCain has about half of the others, and the rest are undecided. Those are the women that Hillary Clinton appealed to.

Essentially, lower-income white women who need something from their government are still not sold on either Obama or McCain. I think that Hillary Clinton has the ability to make a difference with them still. I think that's where you're going to see her emphasizing in Ohio, in Pennsylvania, in Florida, in Nevada, in some of those places where the excerpts (ph), you know, matters.

COOPER: Are you concerned how Sarah Palin is trending on the campaign trail?

ROLLINS: Well, first of all, she took off like a shooting star. She was an extraordinary star. The mere fact for two weeks she's been able to dominate this game is a great plus to the McCain camp. I mean, (UNINTELLIGIBLE), she created.

After all the hammering, all the things that have been done, I would expect her negatives to go up. I would expect her to diminish as time goes on. She'll be a star, I think, when she has her debate. But if this is about her in three or four weeks and not about McCain, then we're not going to win this thing. I think at the end of the day...

COOPER: You're confident she'll do well in the debate?

ROLLINS: I'm very confident she'll do well in the debate. Everything I've seen convinces me that she -- she will do very well in the debate.

COOPER: We'll have to leave it there. Ed Rollins, Hilary Rosen, have a great weekend. Candy Crowley, as well. Thank you.

Before we go to break, it's quite a night on our Web cast. It airs during the commercial breaks. You find it by going to AC360.com, clicking on the Web cast link. First of all tonight, you won't see Erica Hill, because she's not here tonight. But if you're already watching the Web cast, you'll know it's Floor Crew Friday with floor director Kevin doing the honors. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're doing our first edition of Floor Crew Friday, and hopefully, for more to come. On camera one, Angry, as we like to call him. There he is. He runs one of our ped cameras.

And I don't know if you can see the big guy back over here. This is Bob Debus (ph). He does a lot of our set changes and scenic, a very, very good guy.

Tone Dog (ph), you're my boy. Happy belated birthday. He's running the handheld camera. Happy 30th to you yesterday.

And right behind him, Joe "Nookie" Chinooky (ph). There he is pulling his cable. I mean that in the best possible way.

And of course, over here on camera two, there's Eddie, Eddie the Finger (ph).

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Pulling his cable in the best possible way.

Still ahead, our Shot of the Day, a bizarre claim from an intruder trying to explain -- it's Friday -- he got stuck in a museum's air-conditioning duct.

Later, another rally on Wall Street, fueled by the government's plan for fixing the financial crisis. More on our breaking news, coming up.

Also tonight, McCain on the attack. Obama trying to make the economic issue his own and counterattacking, as well. Who's got the edge? We'll look at that.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: You really should log onto the commercial breaks show, because it's very funny. It's time for our -- you can get that at AC360.com.

Time for "Beat 360," Tom, our daily challenge top viewers to come up with a caption better than the one that we can think of. Yes.

FOREMAN: During the commercial break (ph).

COOPER: Yes. Senator McCain making quotation marks -- something we've outlawed on this show -- with his hands during a speech on the country's financial crisis in Wisconsin today.

The staff winner, Joey's, caption: "My plan? To bail out the entire financial sector with $1 million. Muhahaha!"

(SOUND EFFECT: GUFFAWS) COOPER: Our viewer winner is Steve in Cayucos, California. His caption: "What I meant to say was that the fundamentals of the economy 'were' strong."

Steve, your "Beat 360" T-shirt is on the way.

You can check out the other entries we received at AC360.com.

Time now -- time for "The Shot." It is a rare instance that we actually use an audio clip, as you know, Tom, in our "Shot." It is from Tennessee tonight, a 911 call from an intruder stuck in a museum's -- we have a fly on the set. In a museum's air-conditioning vent.

Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Knox County 911.

SMITH: Yes, ma'am. My name is Special Agent Richard A. Smith, badge number 0931 with the United States Illuminati Order.

Right now I'm currently stuck inside of the air conditioner unit on top of the Knoxville Museum of Art.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Yes, the United States Illuminati agent. That's what he said he was. Twenty-five-year-old Richard Anthony Smith. According to cops, he said he was ordered to break into the museum to disarm a nuclear device...

FOREMAN: Really?

COOPER: ... which was stored -- yes -- inside a sculpture of a blue plastic cow, which is where...

FOREMAN: Oh, that.

COOPER: ... all the terrorists want to store things.

FOREMAN: Yes, yes. A blue plastic cow.

COOPER: He got stuck in the ventilation system.

FOREMAN: You push them all (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

COOPER: Exactly. He's facing a burglary charge.

Incidentally, you might want to know what is the Illuminati Order that Smith claimed to be an agent for. Well, Dan Brown fans might recognize it. It's the evildoers in one of the "Da Vinci Code's" other novels, "Angels and Demons."

FOREMAN: He didn't get the whole code right, I don't think. COOPER: He missed the whole code. Nice to know he's a reader at least.

FOREMAN: Yes. Exactly.

COOPER: All right, Tom, thanks.

Coming up at the top of the hour, the latest on our breaking news: the massive financial rescue plan, the mother of all bailouts, now heading to Congress.

Also, McCain on the economic offensive. Is he scoring points or is this an issue Obama and Democrats can't lose? "Raw Politics" ahead on 360.

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