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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
McCain to Hold Rally in Arizona; Obama Campaigns in Battleground State; New Hampshire Town Casts First Votes of Election; Palin Speaks in Nevada; Voter Problems Reported
Aired November 4, 2008 - 01:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: Well, hello, everybody. Thank you, Larry. Welcome to our around-the-clock election coverage day. Yes, it is election day here in the east. Still working on it out west.
T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Larry said, go vote. He was a little scary there. He said, go vote. I am voting. We need to get this thing going so I can get out and get in line.
NGUYEN: The time is ticking. And speaking of that, a lot of campaigning still to come tonight.
HOLMES: Yes. It's supposed to be over. You think it would be over, because it's election day.
HOLMES: Essentially. But it's going on through the night, to be quite honest with you. We're going to be electing a new president. Yes, it is election day.
Barack Obama going to be arriving back in Chicago. Right now, this is Midway, I do believe. A live picture we're showing you. Might be making some comments there and if he does, we'll certainly bring those to you live. Haven't got a shot of his plane or anything. Can't tell from this picture, but we are keeping an eye on that airport.
Also, about 60 minutes from now, Betty, John McCain is going to be holding a rally in Arizona.
NGUYEN: Absolutely. We are going to take you there live, as well.
And in between, we are going to hear from Sarah Palin live in Nevada.
You know, the very first votes in the election have already been cast? Just about an hour ago. Here's a look at that. We'll go live to Dixville Notch, New Hampshire.
The best political team on television is up all night long, so sit back. Get ready for the ride. CNN's ballot day coverage begins right now.
All right. Let's take you straight to Dana Bash. She is in Prescott which is just outside of Phoenix, Arizona. John McCain has a rally there at 2 a.m. Eastern Time, just about an hour from now. That will take place on the steps of the courthouse.
Dana Bash been following this throughout the campaign season.
It's all come down to this, Dana. Election day.
DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It really is remarkable. And you know, when you think about it, for John McCain in particular, what a two years he has had.
I mean, he started out the election cycle, Betty, as you know, as kind of the guy who was the one to beat. And then all of a sudden, he was out of money. His staff was gone. He had to fire them all because of the war in Iraq, because of immigration. Two issues that you don't even really hear very much on the campaign trail at all right now.
But, you know, he came back from the -- during the primary season because of his -- of his town-hall meetings and the state of New Hampshire. And now he is made his way throughout the year to this very point.
And this is the place where John McCain tends to historically end his Senate run, so it perhaps is fitting that, after a marathon day, he is going to end up here.
BASH (voice-over): In his frantic final push, John McCain is closing not so much with an argument but an urgent plea.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: We need to win Virginia on November 4. And we've got to take this country in a new direction, and we will win. Volunteer; knock on doors; get your neighbors to the polls.
We need to win in Pennsylvania, and tomorrow with your help we will win.
With this kind of enthusiasm, this kind of intensity, we will win Florida and we will win this race.
BASH: The mantra inside Camp McCain is that polls are tightening, but privately McCain advisers admit winning would be nothing short of a miracle.
The agenda for McCain's seven-state sprint says it all: Florida, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Indiana, New Mexico, Nevada and Arizona. All but one are red states he's trying to keep Obama from winning, a game of defense, big time.
MCCAIN: We need to bring real change to Washington, and we have to fight for it.
BASH: At McCain's first stop in Florida's critical I-4 corridor, about a thousand people showed up. Lots of empty space in a place George Bush drew 15,000 four years ago.
But what some of his crowds lack in numbers, they make up with enthusiasm, fired up by lines like this.
MCCAIN: Senator Obama is in the far left lane of American politics. He's the most liberal senator in the United States Senate, more liberal than a guy that a guy that used to call himself a socialist.
BASH: And as he has his whole life, from prisoner of war to politician, McCain is drawing his energy from being an underdog.
MCCAIN: They may not know it, but the Mac is back! And we're going to win this election.
BASH: And this is an historic place for Arizona in terms of the Republican Party and for John McCain, as well, Betty. You see, the steps behind me, this is a courthouse where Barry Goldwater actually launched his 1964 presidential run. John McCain talks about Barry Goldwater quite often on the campaign trail.
And as I mentioned before, this is the place where John McCain historically does end his Senate races. And it was supposed to be just that kind of thing, a sentimental moment, a symbolic moment for John McCain to end his -- his very long day here. But it actually is more than that, Betty. It actually is a little bit -- actually, a lot of a battleground state here in Arizona.
Excuse me, Barack Obama has TV ads up here. John McCain and his campaign and the Republican National Committee, they've launched robo- calls, because it is pretty close here. In fact, John McCain is only up by four or five points if you look at the latest average polls. That's a little too close for comfort for John McCain in his home state in a presidential election -- Betty.
NGUYEN: And as we hear, they are getting ready for John McCain. He'll be stepping out there around 2 a.m. Eastern. But you know, Dana, the campaign doesn't stop there. He is going to keep going on throughout the day.
BASH: That's right. And this is actually a late add, Betty. This was supposed to be his final campaign rally, but tomorrow he is actually going to leave Arizona. He's going to go to the neighboring states of Colorado and New Mexico.
Those are two states that they figure, because it's in the neighborhood, why not go ahead and campaign there? Those are two states that he is actually not doing very well in the polls. But his campaign advisers insist that they have tightened a little bit, so why not go at least one more time and try to get out the vote in those critical states?
Because there's several different pathways that they see, very narrow pathways, but several different possibilities where he could eke this out. And one is potentially to do it here in the southwest. He has been reminding people as he's been here in the southwest that he is one of them. He understands their issues. Perhaps -- perhaps -- he could have one last shot at convincing them of that tomorrow, Betty.
NGUYEN: Well, there's still time left. Just under 17 hours to go. So plenty to do. Dana Bash joining us live. Thank you, Dana.
HOLMES: Meanwhile, Barack Obama is making his way home, expected to arrive in Chicago any time now. Not expecting him to make any public event. But this is a live picture. I believe this is Midway Airport he's supposed to be flying back into in Chicago. But we have some of our people on the plane there, and when they land, they'll be checking in with us.
He's had a heck of a day today, really. Not as many stops as John McCain, but several of his own. He has been -- well, he's been in Florida. He's been in North Carolina. He's been in Virginia. Virginia, North Carolina, two traditionally red states that he has been up in the polls, trying to turn those states blue and put them in his column on election night.
Going to be in Grant Park for a big event tomorrow night. Tens of thousands, maybe up to 65,000 plus. We've seen some of these big events he's had throughout the campaign season but expecting another big event on election night, hoping it will be a victory celebration. But nonetheless, some kind of an event there in Grant Park in his hometown of Chicago.
But again, we're keeping an eye on Midway Airport. When he lands, we'll take another live look at that, seeing him getting off the plane and getting back home for election night. If he does make any comments, we'll bring those to you, as well.
Again, he spent the day, the last full day of this campaign season in those key battleground states. Candy Crowley was along for the ride.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On the eve of the most important day of his career, the political collided painfully with the personal.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: You know, obviously, there's an a little bit of a bittersweet time for me.
CROWLEY: On a misty North Carolina evening, Barack Obama told the thousands gathered that his grandmother, who helped raise him, had died.
OBAMA: She was somebody who was a very humble person and a very plain-spoken person. She was one of those quiet heroes that we have all across America.
CROWLEY: Obama learned of her death early in the day, but at the first rally, there was no hint of his loss, just a campaign moving on.
OBAMA: I have just one word for you, Florida: tomorrow.
CROWLEY: No accident Barack Obama came to Veterans' Memorial Arena in Jacksonville as part of the finale. John McCain was here in September, and there was a pivotal moment that marked the beginning of Obama's pull away.
OBAMA: He said, and I quote, "The fundamentals of our economy are strong."
CROWLEY: The candidate who launched his presidential bid on opposition to the war closes out on the economy. Still, the fundamental premise, the gale-force winds that pushed him forward, is a single word in ads, speeches, placards: "change," and the hope it brings.
OBAMA: Those who could not vote to say, "If I march, if I organize, maybe my child or grandchild can run for president some day."
CROWLEY: The Obama campaign has always dreamed big, seeking from the start to be less of a campaign, more of a movement.
OBAMA: If you'll stand with me and fight with me, I promise you we will not just win Florida, but win this election. You and I together. We'll change this country. We'll change the world.
HOLMES: And again, we are keeping an eye on Chicago's Midway Airport. Senator Barack Obama expected to land back there any time now. When he does, we'll head back there live, see him possibly get off that plane and not sure. Not anticipating he'll make any comments. And certainly, don't have any scheduled. But if he does, we'll be there to get them. Also, our Candy Crowley will be on the ground there with him. And we'll check in with her as soon as he gets there, as well, and as soon as she gets there.
NGUYEN: In the meantime, though, the very first votes already in. They've come in from Dixville Notch, New Hampshire. Though it has only about 75 residents and is one of the first communities in the nation to vote.
Our David Mattingly is there. He's going to join us by phone.
David, OK. So now that they have voted, what are the results?
DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Betty, let me keep you in suspense just for a couple minutes and put this in perspective. Dixville Notch has been doing this since 1960. They've been taking a lot of pride in coming in. They had only 21 registered voters in this town this time. They all gathered in one single room. They all voted at the same time. Then everyone left the room. The votes were counted, and they were put out on a tally. All of it took maybe five minutes for all of this to happen. So the first results of this election read this way. John McCain, six votes. Ralph Nader, zero votes. Barack Obama, 15 votes. There was a huge cheer that went up in the room when those results were read.
This is something of a change for Dixville Notch, because this has been a very much Republican territory. This town has voted Republican every single time since 1960, except in 1968, when it shunned Richard Nixon and voted for Hubert Humphrey.
Well, forty years later, they're voting for the Democrat again, 15 people voting for Barack Obama. Six people voting for John McCain.
Now, it's hard to really -- you can't see a trend in this or make a prediction based on these minuscule results, but Dixville Notch has its headline. Because it voted for a Democratic candidate this time, its headline in the morning papers is probably going to be a little bigger than it's been in the past few presidential elections -- Betty.
NGUYEN: Yes, because it's consistently leaned Republican over the past few years. All right, so 21 voters; only took them 5 minutes. If only everyone going to vote today could experience a line that short.
David Mattingly, thanks for joining us.
HOLMES: And we are going to be on the air forever here at CNN. We have kicked off our election day coverage, and it will not stop. You can watch history unfold, the best political team on television. From the first votes, that we have already seen there in Dixville Notch, to the last, wherever those may be coming from. Our team will bring it to you all day, all night.
Stay here, CNN, your home for politics.
NGUYEN: Plus, Sarah Palin is getting ready to address a crowd in Elko, Nevada. We are going to take you there. Stay with us.
NGUYEN: Well, let's take you live now to Prescott, Arizona, and a John McCain rally that is under way right now. Look at that man right there, Hank Williams Jr. Many call him Bocephus. Take a little listen.
HANK WILLIAMS JR., SINGER (singing): Not I walk the line. Yes, I think I know what my daddy meant when he sang about a lost highway. Oh, George Jones, I'm glad to see finally getting crazy. Crazy as a movie star, Willie don't do nothing but hang out at Taco Bell all day. But I got some Detroit boys...
NGUYEN: A little bit of singing and of humor from Hank Williams Jr. there in Prescott, Arizona. That John McCain rally under way. We expect to see the senator around 2 a.m. Eastern, which is about 45 minutes from now. We'll stay on top of that. In the meantime, though, want to tell you about this. Alaska's personnel board has cleared Governor Palin of ethics violations in the firing of the public safety commissioner.
Now, that contradicts an earlier probe by the state legislature which concluded Palin unlawfulfully abused her power by trying to get her sister's ex-husband fired from the state police force. Allegations surfaced that Palin They sacked the commissioner because he refused to fire the state trooper. Well, Palin's attorney says his client is pleased with the personnel board's findings.
Speaking of Sarah Palin, she made two campaign stops in Reno today. Here she pumped up the crowd and pounded home the message of John McCain as a maverick.
GOV. SARAH PALIN (R-AK), VICE-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: So Nevada, election day just hours away. The time for choosing is near. Nevada, are you ready to help us carry your state to victory? Are you ready to make John McCain the next president of the United States? Are you ready to send us to Washington to shake things up?
OK, Nevada, we're talking about an American hero. Are you ready to send him on this last mission for all of you, John McCain as president?
Now, as the time for choosing arrives, the choice really could not be clearer. Our country is facing tough times. And now, more than ever, we need someone tough as president. Only John McCain has the wisdom and the experience, the courage to get our economy back on the right track, because he has a pro-growth plan, pro-private sector agenda here that will put government back on your side.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: USA! USA! USA!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: USA! USA! USA
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: USA! USA! USA
PALIN: USA. USA. See, what John understands is, first, this is your government we're talking about. It is of the people, by the people, for the people. It needs some transformation, though. It needs reform, because the last couple of years, the purse strings of our federal government have been held by some big spenders.
And we're coming into a place here, America, where you are working for your government instead of your government working for you. We need to turn that around. And we will turn that around.
You know, when it comes to reforming government, John McCain hasn't just talked the talk. He has walked the walk. He is known in the Senate not just as the patriot, but as the maverick. He's taken on his own party when he had to. He's taken shots from the other party, also. He's taken on the wasteful spending and the abuses of power and the corruption of special interests, and he's got the scars to prove it. As president, he's going to end those abuses once and for all for all of you.
And John and I are the only candidates in this race who have track records that prove the reform. Up there in Alaska, I had to take in there and take on the good old boy network and put the veto pen to hundreds of millions of dollars in wasteful spending. Now, you don't make a lot of friends doing that either, but we understand who it is that we are accountable to. There in Alaska, it's been the people who hired me, the people of Alaska.
John McCain and I, we cannot wait to get to work for you, knowing we will be accountable to you, the people of America.
NGUYEN: And Nevada is the western-most state that's potentially still in play for the Republican ticket. Want to let you know this, though. In about ten minutes from now in Elko, Nevada, we're going to be seeing Sarah Palin live at a rally there. And of course, when that happens, we'll bring it to you live.
HOLMES: Well, we have a voter hotline that we've set up here at CNN, and people have been calling. I don't guess that's really a good thing, because that means there have been problems. We've asked you to tell us if you are having issues out at the polls, and you have been responding.
NGUYEN: Well, the CNN voter hotline is ringing through the night, and we are getting a whole lot of calls from a lot of people worried that their votes won't be counted.
Our Josh Levs joins us now. And Josh, one caller is really concerned about not being able to vote in the key swing state of Pennsylvania.
JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right. Yes. You know, some people are worried, as you said, not being counted. Some people are saying they're afraid they can't even vote at all.
Let me show you something. Let's zoom in on this map, because I want everyone to see how many calls we're getting. This is from the voter hotline. You can learn about it at CNN.com. Here's a whole map. I'm going to scroll over here. Check this out: the full number, national complaints. Total calls, more than 33,000 already. A lot of those people looking for where to vote, but about a third of them are actual complaints, people seriously concerned about theirs.
And check this out. Pennsylvania, 300 calls right there. When I click on it, you can see 301 complaint calls have come in from Pennsylvania alone, and they are literally coming in throughout the night.
What I'm going to play you now comes from Scranton. And this is a woman who's currently in Syracuse, New York. She wanted to vote absentee, and she says she never got her ballot. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRIGID EPHAULT, SYRACUSE, NEW YORK: I am an Obama supporter, mother of two, married woman, 27 years old, and I am now unable to vote because I cannot get through to the Board of Elections. They have not returned any of my phone calls, and I'm two-and-a-half hours away from my polling place. And they have not sent me an absentee ballot. Here I am the day before. My voice isn't going to be heard, and I have a major problem with that. And it's my demographic and age group that's going to be affected because of that. And this is ridiculous. We're not going to be heard, and that stinks.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEVS: As she lays it out, that really does stink.
And we are hearing a lot of tough stories. We're looking into that. We're going to follow what happens there.
Now, let me show you a couple of things. First of all, the Pennsylvania Department of State writes on its Web site about how to get absentee ballots. And I want to say, there are plenty of stories of people successfully voting absentee, including in Pennsylvania. So there's a lot we don't know about her specific situation.
But we are hearing from others all over the country with similar problems. In fact, Martina Stewart wrote this story at the CNN political ticker, about people around the country who say they're still waiting on their absentee ballots. And this is a problem that we have.
So we're gong to keep following this, as well. And as you know, folks, we are asking you: let us know what kinds of problems you're having. We're tracking them. We're going to report them in real time. We've got the phone number for you here. It's 877-462-6608. But it's easier to remember as 877-GO-CNN-08.
And also, you can visit our Web site here behind me. Right here. Just go to CNN.com, click on the voter hotline from the top right there. You can learn more about what's going on in your state and the kinds of calls that were received. And we're "Keeping them Honest" all the way through the election and beyond -- Betty.
NGUYEN: Absolutely. All right. Thank you, Josh -- T.J.
HOLMES: All right, Betty. We've got a couple of guests that we coaxed into coming in at this late, ungodful [SIC] hour.
Joining us from Atlanta, Emory University, Obama supporter and political science professor, Andra Gillespie. Also, Baoky Vu, a Republican supporter and fundraiser based here in Atlanta.
Thank you both for being here. Is that coffee in that cup? Or is that just water you got?
BAOKY VU, REPUBLICAN SUPPORTER: Water, water. HOLMES: Whatever you need to make you comfortable. I will ask you first here. The momentum has been there for Obama. The polls have shown Obama is in the lead in all these key states. What are the chances, really, that there could be some kind of a surprise tonight and it turns out all these polls were wrong?
ANDRA GILLESPIE, POLITICAL SCIENCE PROFESSOR: Well, there's always that possibility. Right now, it looks very unlikely, but there's always an outside chance and so Republicans can still hold onto hope until the final ballot gets cast.
HOLMES: The Republican is smiling here. What is that hope that you are holding onto? Because you seem -- I mean, the reality is what the reality is right now.
VU: Well, certainly, one thing that I think we can definitely say about this election is that it is one for the ages. Complete unpredictability, because when you think about it, John McCain's come back from being out of funds to being the Republican candidate.
And not so much that but also the fact is that, when it comes down to deciding last minute, I think a lot of folks are still undecided and they may vote -- they may show up at the booth and vote for the one that they deem to be less risky. And in this case, if John McCain can make that final push to prove that point, then he certainly could gain some voters out of it.
HOLMES: We talk about what could be less risky, and a lot of, I guess, unknowns people might say about Obamas. But there are all unknowns out there, a lot of variables we have never seen before. We have never seen this influx of people registering to vote. Young people getting involved in the process. Are they going to vote though?
So I guess what is the concern? Should the concern be on that side, on the Democratic side about, you know what? We just -- we're not really sure how this thing is going to go. Never seen one like this before.
GILLESPIE: Well, there are concerns for both sides. So from the Republican side, they have to have identified enough voters that they could actually win a majority of the popular vote and the electoral vote in each of the states. So if they haven't identified enough voters to be able to push them over the top, it is going to be very difficult for them to win the day.
On the Democratic side, there's a lot of low-hanging fruit if the polls are true. And so if they don't get out all of those voters by the end of the today, then they end up losing the election, even if they have a majority of the support in the electorate and the constituency.
HOLMES: What are you going to be looking for early as a sign of, OK, this is going to be a long night and there's a good shot at it, or we're in trouble. I'm going to bed? VU: Well, you know, with the swing states being primarily east of the Mississippi River, I think it's critical to see what kind of turnout we're getting at the local levels especially, you know, you're talking about states of Pennsylvania, Virginia, Florida, Missouri.
Then, we'll figure out what the potential is for a big surprise. I do think that the electoral math is still open for a McCain victory. And, you know, and like Andra said, we could see the election outcome being one of an electoral win for John McCain but a popular vote win for Senator Obama, which certainly is not going to satisfy everyone.
HOLMES: Absolutely not. But that's a question that's going to come up, has come up. We know on the -- I guess a lot of people agree, on the Democratic side, there has just been more passion. There's just -- they have a candidate over there nobody's ever seen before who's really inspired a lot of people.
These huge rallies, 100,000 plus we've seen. St. Louis is an example. What happens? What could you imagine the backlash is going to be, if I can call it that, on election -- the day after, we wake up and just like you describe, you have the electoral victory for John McCain but Barack Obama wins the popular vote by possibly millions and millions and millions of votes. And all the passionate supporters are like, "Wait a minute. The polls said this." Are we going to have conspiracy theories out there?
GILLESPIE: Certainly. One of the things that I would say is that, while that would be very fortuitous for John McCain to be able to lose the popular vote and win the Electoral College, that would be the second time in a decade that that's happened.
And that could be very disillusioning for a lot of voters who would lose confidence in the system and especially for young voters. In they participate in this election, especially if they are breaking for Barack Obama, which all the polls indicate is true. If that doesn't happen, then you might be able to sort of disenfranchise or disempower an entire generation of young voters who are, you know, the next few election cycles. And not a good thing for American democracy.
HOLMES: You agree with that?
VU: Well, I think that it's merely a reflection of how the system's created. And so, in my sense, sure. I can understand the perception, the feelings of anxiety and disappointment. At the same time, I do think that it's a system that's been in place over 200 years and so I put my bet on the system. And so, we'll see how it goes.
HOLMES: All right. We will see how it goes. This is actually Election Day. Can you believe we're actually saying that? You guys are going to be sticking around. We appreciate you. We'll get you some scrambled eggs and some coffee and whatnot and we'll hang out, have a good old time here. We'll be talking to you plenty this morning.
Betty, I will hand it back over to you right now.
NGUYEN: Forget the eggs. He'll just need a bit of no-doze to keep them up through the night.
All right, well McCain, Obama, Palin, what about Joe Biden. Let me tell you what he is doing in these closing hours of the campaign.
NGUYEN: All right. Let's get you up to speed. Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden just miles from his home state of Delaware. He's rallying democrats in South Philadelphia. Biden called for strengthening the middle class and uniting the country.
Take a listen.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
SEN. JOE BIDEN, (D) VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I believe with greater confidence than ever before that we're on the cusp of a new era in American leadership, ladies and gentlemen. This election is not about Barack. It's not about me. It's not about Sarah Palin or John McCain. It's about you and now it's up to you. It's up to you to take back this country. It's in your hands.
In less than 24 hours, we'll know who the next leader of the free world is and, ladies and gentlemen, I know, America knows that Pennsylvania's going to decide the next president of the United States of America and it will be Barack Obama! Barack Obama!
Look, folks. We made the case for change. John McCain has made his case for continuing the status quo. When it comes to the economy and foreign policy, there is literally no fundamental difference between John and George W. Bush. You know, I love it when McCain, when John McCain and Sarah Palin stand up there and they look at each other and they go, hey, maverick. Hey, maverick. Well, as a senator of this state, Bobby Casey says, you can't call yourself a maverick when all you've been in the last eight years is a sidekick.
So folks, the sidekicks are going to find out about Pennsylvania tomorrow. They're going to find out. But you know, if you give Barack and me the honor of serving as your next president and vice president of the United States, we'll commit to you in real simple plain terms, every waking moment of our administration will be directed to two things, one, restoring the middle class in America that's got the living devil beat out of them. And two, reclaiming respect for America and the rest of the world. And the first thing we'll do in reclaiming that leadership is to end this war in Iraq.
And end it we will and we'll end it responsibly. Ladies and gentlemen, in rebuilding the middle class is not rocket science. We can't wait until January 20th, God willing, when we're sworn in. Too many people, too many people are getting hurt right now. And now's the time we have to act.
Barack Obama and I believe when the congress goes back in November, we have to put a three-month moratorium on all housing foreclosures. We got to stop it now. And folks, I promise you one thing. And south Philly and Philly understands this, and Barack Obama is all about it. And that is, we'll embrace the single most enduring American belief that every generation before us has understood and that is we don't have to accept things the way we are. We can bend history to our own making.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
NGUYEN: A little bit of Joe Biden from earlier today. CNN political producer Alex Marquardt is embedded with the Biden campaign and he joins us now from Wilmington, Delaware by phone. Alex, you spoke a little bit earlier with Joe Biden. In fact, it was a bit of an impromptu press conference on the campaign plane. What did you learn?
VOICE OF ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN POLITICAL PRODUCER: Well he hasn't had a press conference on the plane for almost two months. He has spoken to us in recent days. But it was rather -- he did catch us off guard.
The big stories that came out of that was that he denied the fact that he sort of committed any big gaffes in the last few months. That obviously raised some eyebrows with us because there have been certain moments when we've been listening to him and eyebrows have been arched. He delved a bit more into John McCain's character and the disappointing tactics that he's adopted. And basically, summed up what he sees as favorable measures, favorable polls. He said that he would bet on a Pennsylvania victory. He wasn't as sure about Ohio, Missouri, Indiana.
But he said when you look at everything combined, when you combine the fact that people are more excited about this election than they've been in a long time, that they're realizing this election is more important than it's been in a long time. And he said the issues are on the democratic side that things do lean towards the democratic ticket.
NGUYEN: Alex, do we expect to see more of Biden today on Election Day, in fact, or is he pretty much done?
MARQUARDT: Tonight in South Philly, from the -- that rally that you just played, that was his last rally. His last campaign rally as the VP nominee. It was also his shortest that he's ever done, it was only about 11 minutes long.
Tomorrow morning seeing him going out and voting with his wife and his 91-year-old mother. And then we fly to Richmond, Virginia, swing state where the democratic ticket's up by just a few points which they hope to take. And then on to Chicago for the party with Senator Obama.
NGUYEN: There's a large event planned tonight. You have been with the Biden campaign throughout much of this. Has it been a hard- fought battle? Talk to us about what you have seen and experienced.
MARQUARDT: In terms of -- hard-fought battle how?
NGUYEN: I'm sorry? Say that again?
MARQUARDT: I'm sorry. A hard-fought battle with whom?
NGUYEN: No, well, the election. The campaign itself. Has it been a hard-fought battle in following Biden?
MARQUARDT: I'm sorry. It's been an interesting experience with Biden because everyone -- he was going to be the big story, he was going to be the one that was out there being the attack dog for the democrats and then Sarah Palin came out of nowhere and sort of stole the show.
And then, coming out of the convention, Biden was talking to reporters quite a bit. He was talking to voters and taking questions from voters almost every single day. And then on September 10th in Nashua, New Hampshire, he said that he kind of slipped up and perhaps it was a moment of modesty but he says that Hillary Clinton might have been a better pick for vice president.
Since then, we haven't had that much access to him and all that changed just a couple of days ago, which could be taken as a sign of confidence. But it certainly has been an interesting experience following him around the country.
NGUYEN: All right. CNN political producer Alex Marquardt joining us by phone this morning. Thank you, Alex.
MARQUARDT: Thank you.
HOLMES: Barack Obama's dealing with a family heartache as he makes his final push for the presidency and his opponent John McCain reaching out to send his condolences.
HOLMES: All right. Yes. It is officially Election Day and at least on the east coast of the U.S. for now. But would you know the campaigning has not stopped? It will continue, our Dana Bash is out actually in Prescott, Arizona, where John McCain will be having a rally there. We have gotten Dana to stop dancing long enough to that Hank Williams, Jr. music she was just listening to.
Dana, tell us the people seem to be pretty energetic behind you. What's the scene there like and when are you expecting McCain to show up?
DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, to answer that question first, he actually has landed and he's likely on his way very soon. We are actually listening to the preprogram. A couple of the local congressmen are starting to try to warm up the crowd.
Obviously, as you mentioned, they had Hank Williams Jr. do that for them which was pretty good for the folks here. This is a pretty big crowd. The area in front of the courthouse where we are is rather small but the streets in and around here are filled with people. You know, McCain is not known to get huge crowds as Barack Obama is. I mean, there's no question about it, not even close.
But this is his home state and he actually does have a pretty good crowd. Very, very energetic crowd that's out for him and we do expect him to give probably the same speech we heard the first six times today in six other states where he was but perhaps he'll change it up a little bit to make it a little bit closer to home a little bit more emotional. Because, you know, it's definitely going to be a different kind of speech giving it to his constituents. T.J.?
HOLMES: Dana, tell us why the timing of it. Is it just that he wanted to just keep going and going and it's about to -- I guess you're coming up on midnight out there. He is missing I guess the late evening or the local news there but will he still get the local news coverage? Are they going to stay on and stay up live and he's still going to be able to reach some of those local markets?
BASH: Well, I'm not sure if they're actually going to stay up live. But they're pretty locked into their programming schedule but there's no question that people waking up in the morning will see what happened tonight but you actually raise a very interesting point.
And that is, that, you know, Barack Obama and their campaign have really over the past week, T.J. been timing his evening rallies to the 11:00 local news in some of these critical states, in Florida with Bill Clinton and others, John McCain last night had his first late- night rally in the state of Florida. He was in Miami, but again, that was after the local news.
Today was a little bit different because he had rallies pretty much in every time zone and every time throughout the day but it does actually speak to some of the challenge that John McCain has had and part of the reason why you talked to republicans outside the campaign and they kind of either are tearing their hair out or rolling their eyes or a combination of the two, saying some of the things that they are doing they could be doing a little bit differently to get a little bit more bang for their buck. Which they haven't been doing but this is a kind of a different rally for John McCain particularly since it's not just ending a marathon day but starting the Election Day right here in Prescott, Arizona -- T.J.a
HOLMES: And the campaigning is not done for him. He still has a little more to do actually on this Election Day. Amazing as that is. Dana Bash has had a long day, as well. Vacation starts on the 5th. Dana, you hang in there, dear. We will see you again here soon.
BASH: You promise?
HOLMES: I don't have that power but it just sounded good. I thought you needed to hear it. We'll talk to you again soon.
NGUYEN: Yeah that's given we have a clear winner on Election Day. You know, the candidates are going all night long and we're expecting to hear live from vice presidential hopeful Sarah Palin. She will be speaking to supporters in Elko, Nevada any minute now. And when that happens, we will bring it to you live. Stay with us.
HOLMES: We just heard from our Dana Bash out in Arizona that Senator John McCain had indeed landed at least back there in Arizona and getting ready to go to a rally there. We're keeping an eye on Chicago, as well. We're expecting Barack Obama to land at any moment.
This is Midway Airport in Chicago, expecting him to land. Not expecting him to say anything to cameras, to say anything at all, really. Maybe just to get off and get him a little rest tonight before certainly what's going to be a long day for him tomorrow on Election Day. He's had a whirlwind day as both candidates, all the candidate out there have, them and their VPs as well.
But landing back in Chicago we'll hear from our Candy Crowley who's been traveling. When she lands there, as well, to I guess get kind of a round-up on that whirlwind day they have had in some of the key battleground states.
NGUYEN: You know it has been a busy day but also a difficult day for Barack Obama. He's dealing with a family tragedy on this Election Day. His grandmother has died after a battle with cancer. Madelyn Dunham was 86 years old. Obama called her Toot which is short for the Hawaiian word for grandmother. The candidate has repeatedly talked about her on the campaign trail and what a key figure she's been in his life. Now, at a rally in Charlotte, North Carolina, he mourned her death.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Some of you heard that my grandmother who helped raise me passed away early this morning. And look. She -- she is gone home. And she died peacefully in her sleep with my sister at her side.
And so there's great joy as well as tears. I'm not going to talk about it too long because it's hard a little to talk about. I want -- I want everybody to know, though, a little bit about her.
Her name was Madelyn Dunham and she was born in Kansas in a small town in 1922. Which means that she lived through the great depression. She lived through two world wars. She watched her husband go off to war while she looked after a baby and worked on a bomber assembly line. When her husband came back, they benefited from the GI bill and they moved west and eventually ended up in Hawaii. And she was somebody who was a very humble person. And a very plain- spoken person.
She was one of those quiet heroes that we have all across America who they're not famous. Their names aren't in the newspapers. But each and every day they work hard. They look after their families. They sacrifice for their children and their grandchildren. They aren't seeking the limelight. All they try to do is just do the right thing. And in this crowd, there are a lot of quiet heroes like that.
Mothers and fathers, grandparents who have worked hard and sacrificed all their lives and the satisfaction that they get is seeing that their children and maybe their grandchildren or their great grandchildren live a better life than they did. That's what America's about. That's what we're fighting for.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
NGUYEN: Well, John McCain is sending his condolences, pausing at a rally in Roswell, New Mexico, to mention the death of Obama's grandmother.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My friends, before I go much further, I received the news that Senator Barack Obama's grandmother passed away today. He is in our thoughts and our prayers and we mourn his loss and we are with him and his family today.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: All right. Well, we are keeping an eye on Chicago, Illinois, right now. The airport there, Midway Airport. We're told Barack Obama, I believe that is the plane there. We can just see the tail of it going behind that building actually right now. But his plane just landing there in Chicago.
He is heading back home and landing back home as we see there after another long day of campaigning and it is now Election Day and that's where he will be throughout the day and night, expecting a big event there at Grant Park. Tens of thousands expected to be there with him. So we'll keep an eye on his plane. Again, not expecting any comments from him but he has made it back to Chicago.
Well, we'll show you actually a lot of people trying to keep up with all these polls, all these races, all these different states. It's one big race but a lot of mini races in there as well. We'll show you how to keep track of all your favorite races with a click of a mouse. Stay here.
HOLMES: This is live now. You can see on the side of that plane, a familiar theme you've heard out there on the campaign trail and, yes, that is Barack Obama on that plane. Just getting back to Chicago Midway Airport. Just landed just moments ago. He's not expected to make any comments.
It has been a hell of a day, really, for this candidate and all the candidates and really, you know what? No matter what side of the aisle you're on, you have to feel for them. They've been going at this for a couple of years now. This whole campaign season and now it finally culminates with this day.
It is in fact Election Day now. All that's left to do is really to vote, even though John McCain still has a little more campaigning he's going to do on Election Day in Colorado and New Mexico. Barack Obama nothing like that on his schedule. He's back in Chicago, expecting a big event, tens of thousands expected to hang out with him at Grant Park tomorrow evening. Oh, excuse me, forgive me, it is Election Day.
NGUYEN: It is 2:00 a.m. east coast time.
HOLMES: It is Election Day now. But on this evening, election night, to possibly celebrate with him or at least hear him whatever he might have to say. However it works out at the polls for him. So he has made it back to Chicago again. Not expecting any comments but if he happens to say something, we'll be there and capturing.
Well tracking the election, Betty? On the web.
NGUYEN: That's something that we're going to show you how to do on CNN.com. You know, we're making it easy for you to follow along with just what, 16 hours to go until the polls close. Here's CNN internet correspondent Abbi Tatton showing you how to track the election on the web.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ABBI TATTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We are now in the final days of this presidential election. And if you want to know where the candidates are spending their time, where they're spending their money, how they're doing in the latest polls, you want to check here. This is CNN's election tracker. CNN.com/tracker. We've mapped all that information so you can see the stories so far.
Let's take a look first of all at candidate visits. This is a sure fire way to see which states are deemed critical to these campaigns is having a look at how often the candidates are visiting them. We put that information on a time lapse. It's going back to the middle of June. As the states darken, it means the candidates are visiting them more and more.
If we go through the beginning of October here, you can see the battleground states light up And as we go through to the end of October, Ohio, Pennsylvania darkened to be the states most visited. That's how much time they've been spending in the states but they've also been spending a lot of money on ads in those states, as well.
This is where you're going to see a real disparity between John McCain's spending and Barack Obama's. Barack Obama with this massive campaign war chest. This is John McCain's map right here. The darker the state, the more money he's spending. More than 10 million in states like Ohio and Pennsylvania.
Now take a look at that and compare that to this one. This is Barack Obama's spending. You will see so much more of it is colored in darker, all these states where he's spending more than $10 million and if we look at some of the comparisons there, in Virginia, Barack Obama's spending $18 million, compare that to $6 million for John McCain. There's a wealth of information on this tracker. Take a look around. Polling, fundraising. We're updating this all the time as we get new information. So please check back.
I'm Abbi Tatton in the CNN election center.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: All right. As we just mentioned, Barack Obama's plane as we saw that live picture just made its way back to Chicago. There it is. We will keep this live picture up. On that plane we will go to somebody on the phone whose on that plane. No, we don't have Barack Obama's cell phone number. We're actually going to talk to our Candy Crowley who's on that plane as well. Candy, it's been a heck of a day for all of you, bouncing around this last day, making some campaign stops. What has it been like?
CROWLEY: It has. And I can tell you it's bouncy up in the air as well. From Florida to North Carolina and finally to Virginia and Manassas. I think this was the last event that he had in Virginia, sort of his pilot with all the hopes of the Democratic Party.
Virginia would be a huge win for them and it really was sort of a statement for him to make that as his last campaign stop, except for it's not quite because tomorrow he will head to Indiana for some event, it won't be a rally. He will either be shaking envelops shift -- during a shift change, perhaps to go around a polling place. Nothing big, but he will make one more trip into Indiana.
As you know Indiana is ruby red. It is about as Republican a state as there has been, at least since 1964. They have high hopes for it. It shows you how much the Obama campaign is counting, or at least believing it has a chance to really change the electoral map.
HOLMES: And Candy, we are keeping this live picture. We might see the candidates step off that plane there. So we'll stay with you. We might see you step off the plane even. But we will keep this live picture up right now.
Tell us what the mood is like and not just the mood of the campaign, but the candidate himself. Just how is he feeling? I mean it -- this had been a long two-year journey for this candidate.
Is he just exhausted? Is he still keeping that energy up? Just what's it like on that plane? I believe we are seeing the candidate right now, Barack Obama, stepping off the plane.
CROWLEY: He's -- you know, he's -- obviously, he found out this morning that his grandmother died and it was very close to her so that, obviously, affected the day. He did go through his normal campaign stop as planned.
He gave a very affecting tribute to her when he was in Charlotte, North Carolina, talked about -- that it was hard for him to actually talk about it. He did indeed shed a tear and he moved fairly smoothly into his campaign speech after that, but it's -- it's been difficult.
I'll tell you, he came back on the plane as we -- just about as we were taking off and -- just to talk about that, listen, it's been a great time with you all, and I know there have been some tensions, but I appreciate what you do and then he came through and shook everybody's hand. And mostly people, obviously, offered their condolences about his grandmother.
So he -- I wouldn't say he was subdued and a little -- and I find candidates are sort of always like this, a little bit -- nostalgic isn't the word, but this -- this kind of lent down at the end of anything when you've been going sort of pell-mell for 22 months, as largely he has.
You get to the end of it, and there's just the kind of a drag of a feeling in you and on top of that, that he has lost someone who is very dear to me.
I -- would say he was subdued but it didn't -- at the same time dampen the enthusiasm at the rallies, nor did it really dampen the major part of his speech. I mean he delivered it as he generally does, with a lot of dustup, but underneath there, you can't ignore the sadness of this particular day.
HOLMES: Yes, understandably so. Candy Crowley for us on that plane, has been traveling around with Barack Obama.
Today, Candy, you get to as much sleep as possible but sleep quickly, it's going to be a busy day for everybody tomorrow and we tell our viewers we are...
CROWLEY: Thanks, everybody.