September 26th, 2008
10:51 PM ET

Debate not raising the bar... literally

David Mattingly
AC360° Correspondent

I'm at a pub just outside Atlanta watching the debate. This is a place where every television is normally turned to a sporting event. Tonight every screen is on the debate and the pub is full but uncharacteristically quiet.

The crowd is listening intently but seems to be unmoved. With the exception of occasional applause from two tables of Obama supporters, this debate doesn't seem to be winning this crowd over to either candidate.

Filed under: David Mattingly • Raw Politics
September 26th, 2008
07:00 PM ET

Erica's News Note: Oh, What a Night

Erica Hill
AC360 correspondent

Confession: I've enjoyed every update on my BlackBerry today - from the confirmation that McCain will stick to the original plan, to word his plane was "wheels up", to the video alert of the candidates landing in Mississippi.
It's official: the pregame has sucked me in.

But what about the other pregame, the dress rehearsals for this shindig? Picure the candidates debating one of their own, channeling the opponent. No small feat.

Playing the part of "the other guy" isn't just about throwing policy and campaign slogans back at your own candidate; these guys – and ladies – have to make their candidate work hard and fight at the podium. They need to have the idiosyncracies, ticks and signature moves down to keep all surprises to a minimim come debate night.

New Hampshrie Sen. Judd Gregg played Al Gore and John Kerry for Republican candidates; he tells Time, "It was probably one of the most intense things I've ever done."
A troubling tory here in New York has the City talking... and asking questions. A naked man was tasered twice the other night by police, then fell 10 feet to his death.

The lieutenant who told the officer to shock the man was stripped of his gun and badge. The officer who pulled the trigger on the Taser is now on desk duty while the investigation continues.

Several witnesses told local news no one tried to catch the distraught man as he fell from the shocks. A police department spokesman confirms their account. "None of the ... officers on the scene were positioned to break his fall, nor did they devise a plan in advance' to do so," he said. And they didn't wait for the inflatable mattress they'd called for to arrive, to break the man's fall.
A $2 ping pong ball turns out to be a lifesaver. Who'da thunk it?
Happy Weekend!

Filed under: Erica Hill • Erica's News Note
September 26th, 2008
04:34 PM ET

Were Vegas Cops out to get O.J?

Editor’s Note:

O.J. Simpson is on trial for robbery and kidnapping charges nearly a year after police arrested him in Las Vegas, Nevada. Prosecutors say Simpson and five other men stormed into a Las Vegas hotel room last September 13 to recover sports memorabilia that Simpson said belonged to him. They say at least two men with Simpson had guns as they robbed two sports memorabilia dealers. The following dispatches come from our Paul Vercammen covering the trial.

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Paul Vercammen
CNN Senior Producer

Were Vegas Cops out to get O.J?

That's what his defense team wants you to believe.

And on cross examination of lead detective Andy Caldwell Friday, defense lawyer Gabe Grasso was able to play eyebrow raising secret recordings after the alleged armed robbery.

The recording of police in the room contains expletives and unflattering remarks seemingly about Simpson.


September 26th, 2008
04:06 PM ET

Doom and gloom

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/09/24/art.bushecon0924.ap.jpg caption="Pres. Bush made the case for his administration's financial bailout plan directly to the nation on live television Wednesday night."]Editor’s note: On AC360° Thursday night, Anderson Cooper asked if it did any good for John McCain to suspend his campaign and go to Washington to help resolve the financial crisis.  Here is what GOP Strategist Ed Rollins had to say.

Ed Rollins
GOP Strategist and Former Huckabee National Campaign Chairman

COOPER: Do you think it helped John McCain's campaign?

ROLLINS: No, absolutely not.

And I would have said this ahead of the meeting. I think the bottom line is that - because this has happened in two weeks - these people represent Middle America. At least they think they do. And three weeks ago, four weeks ago, they weren't about Wall Street. They weren't about - they were about small-town America, worried about different things.

Now, all of a sudden, the world is coming to an end. The president gave - I have been around this business 40 years - the president gave the most doom-and-gloom speech I have ever heard in my life last night. If everybody didn't rush to their bank and pull their money out today, I would be shocked.

And so, all of a sudden, they're getting bombarded by little people out there, saying, what is this? Stick up for me.

COOPER: I have got to tell you, watching the president last night give that speech, it was like watching him in Jackson Square in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. I mean, he did not seem to be there.

ROLLINS: No, he wasn't there.

I mean, he was physically there, but I...

ROLLINS: No. It was not - it was not his words.

September 26th, 2008
02:49 PM ET

O.J. Trial: All white jury?

Editor’s Note:

O.J. Simpson is on trial for robbery and kidnapping charges nearly a year after police arrested him in Las Vegas, Nevada. Prosecutors say Simpson and five other men stormed into a Las Vegas hotel room last September 13 to recover sports memorabilia that Simpson said belonged to him. They say at least two men with Simpson had guns as they robbed two sports memorabilia dealers. The following dispatches come from our Paul Vercammen covering the trial.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/09/26/art.oj.question.jpg]
Paul Vercammen
CNN Senior Producer

10:26a PT

The Clark County Court information office reports, the O.J. Simpson jury is made up of 11 white jurors and one female "hispanic juror of Mexican decent."

The information was derived from looking at the juror questionnaires, according to court spokesman Michael Sommermeyer.

Reports of the panel being "all white" had been called into question and CNN and other news organizations had been pressing the court to reveal details of the jurors make up from the questionnaires.

The main panel is made up of nine women and three men.

The alternate panel includes a Black male and a Black female.

September 26th, 2008
01:17 PM ET

Running for cover

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Amy Holmes | Bio
CNN Political Analyst

The current Democratic spin is that House Republicans are stalling the bailout plan. Just one problem. House rules let the majority party, and that would be the Democrats, rule the roost. If Nancy Pelosi wanted to roll over the minority’s objections and pass this bill, she could.
Me thinks Pelosi is playing this out for as long as she can.

Yesterday, Congresswoman Melissa Bean, D-Illinois and self described “Obama Mama,” told me that the bailout is deeply opposed by the folks back home. Constituents are outraged that Congress is giving away $700 billion taxpayer dollars to greedy and incompetent Wall Street fat cats (okay, she didn’t actually use the term “fat cats”.) She told me in no uncertain terms that she believes that the banking system is genuinely on the brink, and legislators have no choice but to pass the bill and face an angry public and explain their vote. And it ain’t gonna be pretty.

One can reasonably presume that Pelosi knows all of this. She wants it both ways. And for at least the next six hours, she’ll get it. Duck the blame on a massively unpopular bill by running for cover under the objections of the Republican minority. Claim frustration that her party’s noble and principled efforts to do the necessary and difficult thing are being thwarted by small-minded Republicans. Don’t let Democrats get the blame for an unpopular bill, or suffer voter backlash for irresponsible inaction. Get Republicans on the hook, one way or another, squirming right alongside Democrats..

Filed under: Amy Holmes • Raw Politics
September 26th, 2008
12:20 PM ET

Raw Politics: Bets on Today

David Gergen | Bio
AC360° Contributor
CNN Senior Political Analyst

As we wind through one of the zaniest periods I can remember in Washington, these are my hunches:

  • The Congress and Administration will reach the outlines of a final deal before closing time tonight and will pass a major bill before Monday morning. The President's short appearance on television this morning shows an acute understanding in the White House and Treasury that they cannot allow the markets to open Monday a.m. without a deal - too much danger of the markets tanking, as patience will have run out.
  • Now that John McCain has bowed to the inevitable and agreed to debate in Mississippi, his campaign aides and House Republicans will insist that he played a useful role as a mediator between the rebellious House GOP and everybody else. And perhaps he did. My bet is that a larger number of House conservatives will now hold their noses and vote for the compromised plan, but Democrats and most journalists won't buy this claim that McCain played a helpful role, and I'm not sure the public will either. 
  • The likelihood is that Barack Obama will gain from all of this mess during the week, as McCain has once again seemed impulsive and erratic while Obama has been steady as a rock. But McCain could possibly turn it around tonight if he delivers a compelling debate performance and Obama is as laid back and professorial as he was at Saddleback.

So, the drama continues. What all of us can hope is that the politicians in Washington pull together an agreement this weekend and keep us away from the brink. We have been skirting awfully close in recent weeks.

Filed under: David Gergen • Raw Politics
September 26th, 2008
12:01 PM ET

In the new century: Energy Security IS National Security

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/09/26/art.gaspump.jpg]
Editor's Note: Green For All is an environmental advocacy organization dedicated to building an inclusive green economy; advocating for job creation, job training, and entrepreneurial opportunities in the emerging green economy.

Van Jones
author, The Green Collar Economy:
How One Solution Can Fix Our Two Biggest Problems

Tonight the contenders for the U.S. presidency are scheduled to debate U.S. foreign policy. Maybe they will show up; maybe they won’t. But if they do come, on their way to the debate site, they literally will drive past the biggest threat to our national security.

To see the biggest gun aimed at the heads of the American people, Senators Obama and McCain need look no farther than the local gas station.

Both candidates need to take up the topic of energy security tonight. The days are past when candidates concerned about protecting America could focus primarily on threats from overseas – whether those dangers came from terror cells or nuclear missiles.


Filed under: Planet in Peril • Raw Politics
September 26th, 2008
11:29 AM ET

The Palin Pick - The Devolution of McCain

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Carl Bernstein
AC360° Contributor

In one of our many conversations as we crisscrossed the country during his campaign for the 2000 Republican presidential nomination, John McCain said to me, "I've always tried to act on what I thought was the best for the country. And that has guided me.... The only thing I can do is assure people that I would act on principle."

I traveled with McCain for weeks that political season, stayed in Arkansas with him, Cindy, and their children, and – for a Vanity Fair cover profile - filled dozens of notebooks and tapes with observations from and about a potentially heroic politician who seems far removed from the man running for president today.

Three weeks after the 2008 Republican convention, on the cusp (maybe) of the first presidential debate, it is time to confront an awkward but profound question: whether in picking Sarah Palin as his running mate, John McCain has committed - by his own professed standards of duty and honor - a singularly unpatriotic act.

"I would rather lose a political campaign than lose a war," he has said throughout this campaign. Yet, in choosing Palin, he has demonstrated - whatever his words - it may be permissible to imperil the country, conceivably even to "lose" it, in order to win the presidency. That would seem the deeper meaning of his choice of Palin.


Filed under: Carl Bernstein • John McCain • Raw Politics
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