Return to Transcripts main page

ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Countdown to the 2008 Historic Presidential Election

Aired October 30, 2008 - 23:00   ET

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


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: With just five days to go, the candidates and their surrogates are in overdrive. There is breaking news this hour on the trail.
In Minnesota, former President Bill Clinton is speaking at a rally stumping for Obama and Al Franken. We'll tell you what he says, just ahead.

We've just heard from Barack Obama and he'd just wrapped up a speech in Missouri. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: You've got to ask yourselves, you've got to ask yourselves after nine straight months of job losses, the largest drop in home values on record, wages lower than they've been in a decade, why would we think about continuing to drive down this dead-end street with John McCain?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: With just days to go, we want you to hear from both candidates live as much as possible; the energy, the excitement on the campaign trail is simply palpable. We're going to hear from John McCain and Sarah Palin ahead.

In CNN's new "National Poll of Polls," Obama leads McCain by seven points, 50-43 percent. We had the same seven point lead yesterday.

It is down to the wire; five days to go, Obama trying to hold on to his lead and McCain doing his best to prove the polls wrong, both of them hitting key battlegrounds hard today.

Here's Candy Crowley "On the Trail."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Barack Obama has the schedule of a man looking for a blowout, campaigning in Republican counties inside Republican states.

Sarasota, Florida, Virginia Beach and swing spots like Boone County, Missouri and even if he cannot win in these spots, Obama could tamp down the McCain vote.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: If you want to know where Senator McCain is going to drive this economy, you just look into the rear view mirror because when it comes to our economic policies, John McCain, he's sat shotgun, he's been right next to Bush every step of the way.

CROWLEY: Whatever else, this is a campaign in sync.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wonder where John McCain would take the economy, look behind you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: He brushes off old and new charges pushed by the McCain campaign, his associations with a '60s radical, a Palestinian scholar and the new robocalls about Tony Rezko, a donor and real estate developer convicted of fraud who had business dealings with Obama.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

MCCAIN CAMPAIGN ROBOCALL: Obama needs to come clean on this deal before the election so that the voters can judge whether Obama received monetary benefits from these Rezko favors.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

CROWLEY: That's a call being automatically dialed into Arizona where Republicans are increasingly worried about McCain's home state. It is a rough road for McCain facing major electoral hurdles and minor campaign screw-ups say the failure of the campaign to confirm an appearance by Joe the Plumber.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Joe is with us today. Joe, where are you? Where is Joe, is Joe here with us today? Joe, I thought you were here today. All right, well, you're all Joe the Plumbers.

CROWLEY: Touted by the McCain campaign as a working class symbol, Joe did show up for the next two events and probably proved himself a better plumber than politician.

JOE WURZELBACK: I'm going to go vote for a real American, John McCain.

CROWLEY: Joe pretty much became the third person on the McCain ticket, when Obama told him he would tax people making over $250,000 to quote, "Spread the wealth around." McCain will take that issue to the finish line.

MCCAIN: This business of quote, "Spreading the wealth around, spreading your income around." That's been tried before by the far left liberals and that's been tried in other countries.

CROWLEY: McCain has drawn some big raucous crowds, but as he hurries through Bush One's states, trying to blunt Obama's aggressive schedule, the loudest sound is surely the ticking of the clock.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Candy, do we know Joe the Plumber's schedule for the next couple of days? I mean, is he now going to be a fixture with McCain?

CROWLEY: Let me tell you, I'm having enough trouble keeping up with Barack Obama at this point to add Joe the Plumber to my list. I'm not sure, listen I think when he's in Ohio, obviously, John McCain is using Joe the Plumber to sort of symbolize middle America and try to make the case that his tax cut will be better for middle America than Barack Obama's, so I imagine any time they can get Joe the Plumber, particularly in those states like Pennsylvania and Ohio, the hard hit states and also the swing states that are suffering economically, they would love to have him out there.

COOPER: All right, Candy Crowley thanks "On the Trail" for us. We'll talk to Candy throughout this hour. We're live all the way to the midnight hour.

CNN's latest "Poll of Polls" the "National Poll of Polls," as we said shows Obama holding a seven-point lead. That's the lead he's held basically since mid-September.

CNN's John King is at the "Magic Wall" to break things down for a state by state because we all know that's where this thing is really going.

John, there was more troubling news from the McCain campaign as far as Electoral College map today. What happened?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely right Anderson, we moved Nevada today from a tossup states to lean Obama. And that's five electoral votes and we add five more to the Obama math. And again, it's getting pretty steep the hill before Senator McCain at the moment. It takes 270 Electoral College votes to win, Barack Obama now at 291 and John McCain well behind at 163.

Essentially, if you look at the electoral map, John McCain would have to run the map, of all the tossup states left and as Candy knows, they're all Bush states but they're all a very close right now. Obama is actually ahead in many of them several of them.

Even if he ran the tossup states left, he would still be behind Barack Obama and have to change something on the map. And what you're looking at Anderson, is yes, some of the national polls showed a little bit tighter. But we're going through the key states and you win on this state by state basis in presidential politics.

This is Nevada and this is the reasons, among the reasons we switched it today, from tossup to lean Obama, 52/45, a seven point lead there. We've been in this state this week also and you can see anecdotally, the Democratic energy on the ground.

Here's one reminder of what a tough year we're in. But I won't go through all of this right now, but here's one reminder of the tough year we're in for Republicans. This is John McCain's home state. Yes, he's ahead. But that's too close for comfort, if you are John McCain.

I want to just move over to a couple of the other quick battleground states. Ohio is a state obviously, the candidates are in a lot in the final days. John McCain needs it. If Barack Obama could win it, game over, 51-47 percent for Obama right now. That's still very close. But if you're above 50 percent, as Barack Obama is you'd feel a little bit better heading in to the uncertain final days.

And one last one Anderson, the McCain camp is down double digits in Pennsylvania, in our new polls 55-43. The McCain camp will tell you straight up they can't get to 270 without changing something big that is currently blue; Pennsylvania is their lead target. They say, they have it 6 or 8, not 12 as we have it but 6 or 8 still a pretty stiff hill Anderson, with such little time left to go.

COOPER: They do see though, a way for him to still win. How is that possible?

KING: I will show you a way that is possible, possible, difficult, not impossible, but very, very difficult. Remember where we were, we have Obama at 291. This 247, is if give up -- I want to go back, just you understand this.

McCain right now, we have at 163, I'm going to give him the rest of the tossup states. Again they're Bush states and McCain is close enough to win them. Don't get me wrong, he can win Missouri, he's in play there, he's been slightly ahead, Indiana, he can win, Ohio, certainly with in reach for John McCain, North Carolina, we have a slight Obama lead but it's a Republican state, if they can turn out the vote there, McCain can win that. And Florida is certainly well within John McCain's reach right now.

So we give him the rest of the toss ups and again, Obama is leading in some of those states but that is conceivable. If he gets all of those he's still behind. And Barack Obama still has enough to clinch.

So what does John McCain have to do? Number one, as I said, he needs to turn one of these big, big in terms of electoral map blue states red. Pennsylvania is their target. You've seen them there so often. He's back this weekend, if you could take that away from Barack Obama, and turn it red, you would get John McCain within striking distance. That would still be Obama President.

So McCain needs something else, pick your blue states on this map for John McCain to turn, maybe Nevada, if they could do that, they're behind at the moment, if they could do that, that would be enough. Most Republicans think because of the Latino vote, Nevada is breaking away. Find me another target on here, they've talked Iowa, from time to time Anderson, but right now, they're down double digits. Many think it's possible, possible, if you get up here in New Hampshire, Independent voters, if they come back at the last minute, that could do it. But you're looking at a map essentially where Barack Obama has this huge menu of win one more, game over. John McCain has to win them all and then still find something else.

COOPER: All right, John King and the "Magic Wall" thanks, we'll talk to John throughout this hour.

Up next, Bill Clinton "On the Trail" tonight, stumping for Obama in Minnesota. That's a live pitch right there, we'll bring you there live right after this short break.

We'll also hear from John McCain coming out he had several events in Ohio, five days to go, and he's hitting hard. We'll also hear from Sarah Palin and there's new poll about Sarah Palin and some stunning numbers; we'll show that to you as well.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Last night, Bill Clinton appeared with Barack Obama for the first time on the trail in Florida and tonight, the former president was campaigning for Obama and Al Franken in Minneapolis. Here's some of what -- actually he's speaking live right now -- let's listen in.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: -- in the whole state. I went to 300 separate communities for Hillary in March, April and May, 300, just in those three months, a lot more before but I started keeping count in March.

A lot of them were small. It didn't matter how big or small the crowd was, I'd always say this. You know one of the great unsolved health problems in America is that we tripled the children being born with autistic conditions in the last 15 years and nobody knows why.

And I would say, Hillary's on the autism caucus and she got the best position on this and this is just one example of why we have to have health care reform. And I went to the 300 places. So help me, I never went to a single place that somebody didn't come up to me when I was working in the crowd and say, that was me you're talking about.

I was in Indiana, and a woman came up to me, I know this lady voted for George Bush once at least, I know she did, maybe twice. I was in this heavily Republican town, and this lady comes up to me pushing her child in a kind of an enlarged, not in sort of a between it wasn't a wheelchair but its kind of like a big pram (ph), almost and the kid was 10 or 11 years old, and was strapped in because he had one of those sad neurological disorders.

There are about 40 of them that can afflict the child in the first year of life where the brain's function is totally severed from all the body's senses. And so the body continues to grow but there's no more connection between the mind and the body. It's very sad and this lady loved her child and was trying to do the right thing. So this woman comes to me and she got tears in her eyes, and she says I came here over energy and health care. And I said, well, tell me your story. And she said, my husband had a great business, we got an independent trucking company and I did the bookwork. , and we made enough money to buy health insurance and take care of our child and we had a decent living. And we went broke over gas prices.

So he had to take a job as a contract truck driver. And she said, obviously, the small business he works for can't possibly afford to insure us. I mean, she was smart, she knew what the deal was. And she said, so -- I went to the state and they basically said I had three choices. He can keep working and we can eat and our son will die quicker. Or he could stop working and we can starve and our son can get Medicaid. Or the state said, if I really want it bad enough we could get a divorce and I could qualify for Medicaid and he can keep working.

This is America? And this woman had tears in her eyes, and finally, she realized how totally crazy this was and she'd looked back and laughed and slapped me on the shoulder, she said, honey, I'm from rural Indiana, those aren't my family values. But they have been the family values that have governed this country.

I'm just telling you, folks, I know I'm talking to a lot of you out here. I know there are people out here that have lived through these things. And so it's no longer just 22 million jobs against 4.5 million or 8 million people moving out of poverty and 6 million falling in. Or paying $600 billion on the national data or everybody --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: That's former President Bill Clinton speaking at an event in Minneapolis in support of Al Franken and Barack Obama. We're trying to bring you as many live events in these last few final days -- in these historic final days to this historic election.

John McCain does not or Sarah Palin did not have live events during the last two hours. That's why we've been staying on the air.

We are going to bring you John McCain and Sarah Palin from earlier in the day. We would prefer live event but we also want to make sure that you hear from all the candidates tonight. So we're going to bring you chunks of John McCain speaking as well as Sarah Palin.

And right now, I'm joined by David Gergen and John King. There is this poll now out today, it's actually going to be published in the "New York Times" tomorrow. It's the "Times"/CBS News Polls; 59 percent said they believe Sarah Palin is not prepared to be vice president, just 35 percent say she is.

Earlier this month, 50 percent thought she was ready for the job. Certainly, Palin has her supporters, millions of them; we're going to hear from some of them "On the trail," they are still very energized. But it is pretty a shocking poll on the eve of this election. DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it's clear now that Sarah Palin has become a liability for the ticket.

COOPER: Hurt more than helped? I mean, she -- without a doubt it mobilized.

GERGEN: Well, beyond their conservative base -- beyond the base of the Republican Party, among Independents and Democrats. I think that some Independents have gone to Obama because they're not happy with Palin and a lot of Democrats have been mobilized too.

She has helped enormously with the Republican base. But we knew all along this was going to a huge gamble and it's a gamble that has now I think come with a great price.

COOPER: Hurt in convincing those undecideds or maybe Democrats who where unsure about Barack Obama to go to John McCain?

KING: Those numbers are striking because they show you a snapshot of America politically. About 35 percent of the country is Republican, 35 percent say she's qualified to be vice president. That means everybody outside of the Republican base now is saying she's not qualified to be vice president.

It's not so much a reflection on her; vice presidents don't win elections. They can help lose elections if it reflects poorly on the judgment of the person at the top of the ticket.

And that is the problem for John McCain right now. His campaign was based on, I'm the more experienced guy Barack Obama is not ready, trust me, I would make a better president because of my experience.

People in these suburbs, Hillary Clinton voters, women voters who they needed, the Republicans needed and Independents who they needed are saying, I don't think she's ready. And they're not holding it against Sarah Palin; they're holding it against John McCain because he made a decision they think reflects bad judgment.

GERGEN: And that's why it's so surprising when one of the McCain top people calls her a "whack job." It tells the press that and we had that a couple of days ago, I mean, it reflects on McCain.

KING: She has not followed their script. And whether you're a plus or minus, the campaigns get mad when that happens. Trust me, the Obama people are mad at Joe Biden. He has made some verbal gaffs in this campaign.

But because people, remember the fundamentals -- we're talking about the VP's throughout, the fundamentals in this race was it's a Democratic year; can this 47-year-old African-American guy convince enough people in the middle, I'm OK, and not only am I safe, I'm competent and I'm ready.

Barack Obama did that in the debates. So Joe Biden is not so much a liability because people aren't paying as much attention to his number two. In a year, where the Republicans has such a huge challenge and Barack Obama is a very young man. John McCain happens to be the oldest guy ever who would be elected president. So you do look a little bit more at his choice. Because she was so new, she was compelling but people keep looking and not many people and enough people in the right places -- and that's what matters in presidential politics -- don't like what they see.

GERGEN: Yes, but my point is that I understand why the McCain people are frustrated with her. But when they go after her, they reflect on him; it reflects on his judgment.

COOPER: It reflects on his judgment.

GERGEN: It reflects on his judgment, the same "New York Times"/CBS polls shows that now Obama has moved up in terms of people's confidence in him in appointing good people to high office and has gone down for McCain.

KING: David makes an amazing point because there is a very small group, Senator McCain and really two of his top adviser who picked Sarah Palin. There was a bigger group brought in to prepare her for the debate and to staff her plane and to do the rollout.

It is that second group, many of them, not all of them to be fair to her, that second group and many of them said, we were handed an impossible task. She is not capable of being ready for the debate, ready to this.

COOPER: Does she have a future?

KING: They don't say she's not bright, they don't say she's not bright, they just say that she's from Alaska, and she hasn't studied any of these big issues.

COOPER: On the national stage.

KING: So we're trying to do this too fast. She has star quality. It's like, I used to say, I knew Bill Clinton had star quality because if your back was to him when he walk in to the room, you still knew he was in the room.

People say the same thing about Sarah Palin, she has magnetism. She is a great campaigner, this is not over until, it's tough to have this conversation because McCain still has a narrow chance to win.

If he loses, she will have some rehabilitation work to do on the policy front. But she has political star quality and the Americans people are basically forgiving people if she can prove it. She has a lot to prove.

GERGEN: Is there any possibility John -- hear this, that if Senator Stevens were to win unexpectedly in Alaska and then step down, that she might go into the Senate?

KING: It would be pretty Machiavellian, wouldn't it? The question is do you want to go to the Senate because senators don't usually win. One is about to win. There will be either McCain or Obama. But it would be a place to learn.

GERGEN: It's a heck of a lot better place.

COOPER: Doesn't that make her the Washington insider which she is now proudly running against?

KING: Is she a negative or positive? What's the trade-off? I think right now, we've learned the trade-off that she's is a net negative. It would be the same question for her, if she had that opportunity. That one is down the road and we have a race to cover in over the next five days. And that's a fascinating question.

COOPER: We'll no doubt be talking about that in the days and weeks perhaps ahead. David Gergen and John King thank you.

Up next, McCain making a new plea to be president and he's "On the Trail" in Ohio. Excuse me -- we'll wait for them for the latest.

Also a sentencing deal for the McCain volunteer who apparently carved that backwards B on her cheek. We'll tell you what will happen to this woman, Ashley Todd, ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. SARAH PALIN, (R) VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I met with a group of other blue star moms recently. And we got to thinking about this, one of them suggested after hearing that Barack Obama had supported cutting off funding for our young men and women, America's finest over there protecting our homeland our freedom fighting the terrorists, wanting to cut off funding for their rations and ammunition and equipment. And one of the blue star mom says, what are we supposed to do? Throw a bake sale?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Governor Sarah Palin in Erie, Pennsylvania and she's speaking at same time Americans are sounding off whether Sarah Palin is ready to be vice president.

And you just heard Senator Obama at a rally in Missouri tonight.

And now we want you to hear from Senator John McCain's with supporters in Defiance, Ohio. Here's McCain earlier today, "On the Trail."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN: We have a clear difference, Senator Obama and I do. He wants to raise your taxes. Raising taxes makes a bad economy much worse. Look at history. Keeping taxes low creates jobs, keeps money in your hands and strengthens our economy. If I'm elected president, I won't spend nearly a trillion dollars more of your money. Senator Obama will and he can't do that. And he can't do that without raising your taxes or digging us further into debt. I'm going to make government live on a budget just like you do.

I'll freeze government spending on all but the most important programs like defense, veterans care, social security and health care until we scrub every single government program; get rid of the ones that aren't working for the American people. And my friends, I will veto every single pork barrel earmark bill that comes across my desk, I will make them famous and you will know their names.

No more. No more pork, my friends, no more bridges to nowhere, no more DNA $3 million to study the DNA of bears in Montana. I don't know if that was a criminal issue or a paternity issue but we're not doing it anymore.

I'm not going to spend $750 billion of your money just bailing out the Wall Street bankers and brokers that got us into this mess. Senator Obama will. I'm going to make sure we take care of the working people who were devastated and are being devastated by the excesses and greed and corruption of Wall Street and Washington.

I'm a reformer, I've fought for reform. Senator Obama has never taken on the leaders of his party on any major issue. And that's a matter of rhetoric -- a matter of record and not of rhetoric.

If we're going to change Washington, we need a president who has actually fought for change and made it happen. The next president won't have time to get used to the Office.

We face many challenges here at home and many enemies abroad in this dangerous world. Just the other day, Senator Biden warned that Senator Obama would be tested with an international crisis. I have been tested. Senator Obama has not.

Senator Biden referred to how Jack Kennedy was tested in the Cuban missile crisis. And I have a little personal experience on that, I was on board the USS Enterprise, sat on the cockpit and on the flight deck, waiting to take-off, I had a target. I know how close we came to a nuclear war and I will not be a president who needs to be tested.

We know Senator Obama won't have the right response to that test because we've seen the wrong response from him over and over during this campaign.

He opposed the surge strategy that's bringing us victory in Iraq and will bring us victory in Afghanistan. He said he would sit down unconditionally with the world's worst dictators. When Russia invaded Georgia, Senator Obama said the invaded country should show restraint. He's been wrong on all of these.

When I am president we're going to win in Iraq, win in Afghanistan and our troops will come home in victory and honor, not in defeat. So let me give you the state of the race today, my friends. There's less than a week to go. Five days. The pundits have written us off, just like they've done several times before. My opponent is working out the details with Speaker Pelosi and Senator Reid of their plans to raise your taxes, increase spending and concede defeat in Iraq.

He's measuring the drapes, and he gave his first address to the nation before the election. Never mind. We're a few points down, but we're coming back.

Last night -- last night, Senator Obama said if he lost, he would return to the senate and try again in four years with a second act. That sounds like a great idea to me. Let's help him make it happen.

My friends, I know you're worried. America's a great country, but we're at a moment of national crisis that will determine our future.

I want to ask you this. Will we continue to lead the world's economies or will we be overtaken? Will the world become safer or more dangerous? Will our military remain the strongest in the world? Will our children and grandchildren's future be brighter than ours?

My answer to you is, yes. Yes, we will lead. Yes, we will prosper. Yes, we will be safer and, yes, we will pass onto our children a stronger better country. But we must be prepared to act swiftly, boldly, with courage and wisdom.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Up next, fighting back, Sarah Palin talking of the possibility of a Democratic takeover on Capitol Hill.

And later, McCain supporters in Ohio not believing the polls; we'll hear from them ahead on "360."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN: That's five days left, my friends. We have got to get out the vote and I'm asking you to make sure that you call ten of your friends when you leave here today and get them to call ten of their friends.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: That was John McCain in Ohio today pushing for votes, telling supporters to spread the word. As we told you earlier, most Americans don't believe his running mate, Sarah Palin, is ready to be vice president; a new "New York Times"/CBS Poll just out.

Palin herself was in Missouri today taking on Obama and talking details on the economy, national security and more. We've been trying to bring you as many live events tonight as possible. We brought you an event from Obama and also one, a short event, from Bill Clinton and some comments he made. There is no live event for John McCain or Sarah Palin tonight so we're going back earlier in the day to show you some of the words they said to their supporters and those who may be undecided.

"On the Trail" tonight, here's Governor Palin.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PALIN: In a time of choosing we have to decide which man has proven that he can protect us from Osama bin Laden and from Al Qaeda and the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran and other great threats in the world. The only man who fits that description in this race is Senator John McCain.

But you don't have to just believe McCain's running mate, me, you can go right to Barack Obama's running mate and hear it for yourselves from him, Senator Biden. In that unique way of his, Joe Biden straight off the message the other day and he stumbled on the truth first. Remember in the primaries, he had said, he warned Barack Obama was not ready to be president. And now, he's guaranteed that Obama's lack of experience will insure that we face an international crisis by July of 2009.

And considering that -- that proclamation, considering that -- if you're thinking, though, the Democratic majority in Congress will at least then be able to shore up the leadership gap for an untested commander-in-chief, think again because the other day House Finance Committee chairman Barney Frank said -- Barney Frank said that the Democrats intend to cut defense spending by 25 percent, to gut the defense budget.

We're fighting two wars. We need to force strength in need of rebuilding, not in being gutted. They think it's the perfect time to radically reduce defense spending. What are they thinking? They even tie these cuts to projected savings from the force withdrawal, the early surrender in Iraq that Barack Obama has talked about. I guess what we might call a retreat dividend is what they're talking about.

It's the far left wing of the Democrat party, not mainstream thinking but way far left the Democrat party, they're preparing to take over the entire federal government. According to their own stated plans, the first thing to go will be one-quarter of the United States defense budget.

Now, I don't know how many of you have a loved one or husband or wife or someone else whom you care about serving over there in Iraq or Afghanistan right now, surely, you know people who have served over there.

Now, I'm a blue star mom which means I have a teenage son over in Iraq fighting right now. I met with a group of other blue star moms recently. We got to thinking about this, one of them suggested after hearing that Barack Obama had supported cutting off funding for our young men and women, America's finest over there protecting our homeland our freedom and fighting terrorists, wanting to cut off funding for rations and ammunition and equipment and one blue star mom said, what are we supposed to do? Throw a bake sale?

What are they thinking? John McCain and I, we have a better idea, let's not retreat from wars that are almost won and let's not gut the defense budget. Let's not gut the defense budget in a time of multiple conflicts and obvious danger. This is a time where we need to grow our military. And let's not entrust all the powers of the federal government to one-party rule of Obama, Pelosi and Reid.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Sarah Palin earlier today.

Ahead on "360," more from John McCain. We'll take you inside his rally in Ohio turning the cameras on to the crowd as we have done at Biden events and other events. An up close look; what his supporters are saying, coming up.

Plus, we'll talk with our panel about the latest polls and how accurate they really are. If you look at conservative web sites, they seem to be saying the race is much closer than other polls. So who's right? "Keeping Them Honest" ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN: He's measuring the drapes and he gave his first address to the nation before the election. We're a few points down but we're coming back.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: McCain in Defiance, Ohio today; he had several events in the battleground states. Polls show Obama with a lead in Ohio, but the question is, should we believe the polls?

Let's bring in our panel for a "Strategy Session;" joining me again, CNN's John King, Candy Crowley and Joe Johns. We talked about these polls earlier, John. You look at conservative web sites they say the race is much tighter. The poll of polls we use which is survey of all these polls, it's a seven-point lead. Who's one to believe?

KING: I would believe none of them with this caveat: watch them and see if they're trending one way or the other, that tells you something. The national polls they have been all over the map. The overwhelming bulk of them still has it in the six, seven, eight range, there is one or two that show it closer than that, some are even a little further out.

You go state by state and you look at the key battleground states, that's where it matters. To turn the race around, John McCain is going to have to win a number of states where he is currently behind. If you look at Florida, if you look at Ohio, they've been pretty static, Obama ahead but by two or three points which means it's a dead heat. Who's going to turn out the most people on Election Day?

If you go out to Nevada or Colorado, they have been trending away from McCain and that's a bad sign. If you're following the race so closely, you want to read the polls everyday, you're going to go a little stir crazy. But look for clear trend lines, don't just study the numbers everyday.

COOPER: Candy, is there any concern within the Obama camp about polls not being inaccurate or that undecideds are all going to go for McCain or that people who they thought were going to show up to vote aren't going show up to vote?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Here's what I can tell you. They believe that they have one of the best turnout machines in history basic for the Democrats. Republicans in the past decade or so have always been better at turning out their voters.

But remember, Barack Obama has had a 50-state trial. We went through 50 states in that primary season. He had organizations in all of them so you already had a skeleton, if you will, for the general election. So they have enormous, enormous faith in that turnout machine.

They also look around in these battleground states where everyone got so excited during the primaries that they came out and registered and they have registered in most of these states. I haven't seen a state yet that has registered more new Republicans than new Democrats. The new Democrats are the ones that are signing up.

So it is a combination -- that combination of both turnout and voter registration that gives them great hope. They will tell you they don't look at the polls but every campaign I know looks at the polls.

Do they feel any kind of trepidation? I also don't know a candidate that doesn't looks at things and think, what if? That's why you're sort of seeing him go full steam forward.

COOPER: And I guess Joe, one of the big "what-ifs" is are the young people going to show up? What happens if they don't. I mean, they did show up in the caucus states during the primary season and in the caucus season for Barack Obama. But that's kind of a big unknown, isn't it?

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, certainly that is big unknown. You have got that question of cell phones, of course, there's that small majority, you can call it, of people who actually use cell phones only in their homes to communicate. And so the pollsters have been trying to reach out to those people who tend to be younger people, also upscale people who sometimes might break for Barack Obama.

But who knows? They've been trying to measure that. There are a lot of immeasurables out there, we call them the X factor that people just aren't sure about and that could all be reflected on Election Day in a number of different ways.

COOPER: And John there are more X factors this year than before; new people coming into the process. What else?

KING: New people coming into the process; we assume African- American will go up but is that a national thing? Will it be up by two or three points everywhere or will it be up a little bit more in Baltimore than it is in Pensacola, Florida. You don't know these things. You just know, you see it.

And I told you when I travel, trust me, there's enormous energy in the African-American community. How much will that go up? You don't know that and will that be in key battleground states? Those are X factors.

Another X factor is race, it's race. There are a lot of people who dispute this Bradley effect; that white people lie to pollsters. I'm working on a report on this for tomorrow night. There's not much evidence that they will lie, saying I'm going to vote for the African- American candidate and then do something else.

But if you look at races where this has happened especially state-wide races, the undecided broke against Tom Bradley when he ran for governor of California; broke against Doug Wilder when he became the nation's first black elected governor, broke against Harvey Gantt when he ran against Jesse Helms 18 years ago.

Normally in this race, you would think, John McCain is the Republican, the undecided in the end is going to break for something but if you look back at past races against African-American candidate, that has not happened. So if you have a high undecided number heading into Election Day, if you're Barack Obama, you're going to have a little trepidation about that.

COOPER: So what's the notion there Joe? That people are saying to pollsters, I'm undecided because they don't want to say they're not voting for Barack Obama but that in fact is what they're thinking?

JOHNS: Right and we heard that earlier this evening on this very program that question of whether the people who say they're undecided actually really knew all along who they were going to vote for and may very well actually want to go ahead and vote for John McCain, they just didn't want to say it to a pollster. That's another issue out there, too.

Are the undecideds really undecided or are they going to go for one candidate or the other and just not saying right now.

COOPER: Candy, do the Obama people talk about that?

CROWLEY: They do and obviously, they know. Here is another element just to add to it and that is that during the primary season in most states, the late breakers went for Hillary Clinton. So they obviously understand that.

But again, they're putting an enormous amount of trust in the people that they have on the ground, especially in these key battleground states.

They sent their top turnout on the ground man to Florida to sit there and make that operation good. They also have the money to do this. It takes a lot of money to make turnout big. It also takes a lot of enthusiasm. At this point, Barack Obama definitely has more money and the polls also show us that he is on top in the enthusiasm department.

COOPER: All right, John king, Candy Crowley, Joe Johns thanks. It's always good to have your perspective.

It's down to the wire in these final make or break five days.

Next, back on the trail with McCain supporters. The polls in Ohio may say McCain is behind but these folks say they just don't believe that.

Stay tuned.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: John McCain has still not been able to tell the American people a single major thing he'd do differently from George Bush when it comes to the economy. Think about it. I'm not exaggerating, you think about it. When was the last time you saw an ad from John McCain that said what he would do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Senator Obama campaigning in Virginia Beach and McCain fighting back hard, raising questions about Barack Obama. McCain supporters are fighting back today.

Today Gary Tuchman went to a McCain rally in Ohio. We've done it with the other candidates so you can see all the angles on the race.

Here's Gary with an "Up Close" look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: At John McCain's rally in the city of Defiance, Ohio, here are the defiant Ohioans.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Obama is just a little bit too confident and it is time he takes a reality check. And McCain and Palin, we're going to the White House.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think the polls are wrong. I think he is going to win.

TUCHMAN: You don't believe the polls?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. Never do. TUCHMAN: How many people here think John McCain's going to win? How many people are confident he's going to win? What do you think of the polls saying he's --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We don't believe the polls.

TUCHMAN: you don't believe the polls? How come you don't believe the polls?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because they're biased.

MCCAIN: We are going to carry Ohio and win the presidency and we need you out there working every single moment.

TUCHMAN: As John McCain traveled from Defiance to other cities in Ohio including Sandusky, Aleria and Mentor, there was no apparent feeling of gloom and doom despite the polls.

Do you think John McCain's going to win the presidency?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

TUCHMAN: Without a doubt. For sure.

TUCHMAN: And Sandusky positively erupted when the celebrity of the month showed up; Joe the Plumber. This McCain supporter is going by the name Ron the Farmer.

RON THE FARMER: I think he is going to win. I think the silent majority is going to speak up.

TUCHMAN: At a John McCain rally, you don't have the same passion and excitement that you have at a Sarah Palin rally. But you also don't have the same levels of anger and frustration. What you have at both is a refusal to believe that Republican White House rule might be nearing its end.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who's going to the White House?

CROWD: McCain.

TUCHMAN: The cheerfulness was ever present on this day, but some do acknowledge usually quietly that they're preparing for the possibility of disappointment.

If McCain and Palin lose on Tuesday, how do you think you're going to feel when you wake up on Wednesday?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think I have to regroup.

TUCHMAN: Regrouping for one side or the other is only days away.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TUCHMAN: And most of his rallies including his last one of the day here today at the Mentor, Ohio High School, John McCain talks about change and his differences with the current man in the Oval Office.

Now, what's interesting is when I talk to people at the rallies and I ask them specifically do you think George W. Bush is a good president? Almost every one of the people today told me, yes, they want change but above all they're loyal Republicans -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right. Gary thanks very much.

Up next, we're checking tonight's other headlines. There are new developments tonight; a bizarre incident that took place days ago on the trail. The alleged victim, that woman turned out to be not a victim at all. The latest when "360" continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Let's take a look at the other headlines today. Tom Foreman joins us with the "360 News and Business Bulletin" -- Tom.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We have more grim economic news to report as if there were any other type. The Commerce Department said today the economy had suffered its sharpest quarterly contraction in seven years; a 0.3 percent drop in the GDP that resulted from cuts in consumer spending and business investment over fears of a long recession.

But that didn't seem to faze investors. During an unusually calm day on Wall Street, the Dow climbed 189 points closing at 9,180; the Nasdaq and S&P 500 also posted gains.

There's been a sentencing on the case of the McCain campaign worker who made up a story about being assaulted by an Obama supporter. Twenty-year-old Ashley Todd agreed to enter a probation program for first-time offenders. Todd falsely reported being robbed by a man who scratched a backward "B" on her cheek.

And if you've been losing sleep over the campaign madness, you're about to make up some Zs. Sunday we go from Daylight Saving to Standard Time. Just don't forget to turn your clocks back an hour before you go to bed Saturday night. You know what that means, Anderson? One extra hour.

COOPER: Yey.

FOREMAN: Of all of this campaigning.

COOPER: Excellent. I always get confused by that. All right, thanks so much.

Up next, our "Beat 360 winners; the best captions for the photo we put on our web site. Did you make the cut? Find out.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: All right. Time now for our "Beat 360" winners, it's our daily challenge to viewers to come up with a caption better than the one we could think of. Tom, here it is. Tonight's picture: Barack Obama running with U.S. Secret Service agents as he enters today's rally at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota, Florida.

Staff winner tonight is Diana. Her caption, "Hey, you got his plunger, right?"

All right. Our viewer winner is Dana from Texas. The caption, "The race to the finish! Wait, where did McCain go?"

Dana, your "Beat 360" t-shirt is on the way. You can check out all the entries we received in our blog and play along tomorrow at the web site ac360.com.

That does it for us on this edition.

FOREMAN: Boy, does it.

COOPER: Yes, it sure does. Thanks very much. Hey, it's late. What can we do?

Thanks for watching.