October 16th, 2008
01:48 PM ET

And starring Chevy Chase as Mitt Romney

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Jack Gray
AC360 Associate Producer

Well, the final debate has come and gone. At last, I can concentrate and plan my weekend. And by plan my weekend I mean come up with an excuse for why I can’t go with Anderson and Lou Dobbs on their karaoke bar-crawl. I’m still having flashbacks of them singing “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.”

And there is no way I can handle another weekend of paintball with James Carville and Bay Buchanan.

I suppose I need to work on a new Halloween costume. Until yesterday I was going to be Guy Ritchie and my dog Sammy was going to be Madonna. But now they’re getting divorced and I’m left with a dog that wears a cone bra and barks the chorus of Vogue.

I was getting a little worried that I’d have nothing to do – especially since it looks like Joe the Plumber’s new reality show won’t be on the air for at least another week – when I remembered that Oliver Stone’s movie about President Bush is opening.

I actually don’t know much about it except that the guy from those talking pig movies plays George H.W. Bush.

And don’t act like you aren’t hoping for that talking pig to make a cameo in the Oval Office. That’s half the reason you’re going and you know it.

Anyway, it got me thinking: Whom would I cast in a movie about this year’s presidential campaign? Some choices are obvious: James Gandolfini as Dennis Kucinich. Christopher Walken as Wolf Blitzer. Jennifer Lopez as Hillary Clinton.

But others are tougher. It was a close call between Sean Connery and Alan Thicke to play Ralph Nader.

Back to my weekend. I just took out my calendar to confirm that I have nothing to do, as usual, and it turns out that today is – no joke – National Boss Day. Seriously. It says so right on my calendar. The one I bought at CVS. So it must be true. But, of course, basically everyone at CNN is my boss. You know that guy who irons Larry King’s suspenders? Yeah, even he outranks me.

I know what you’re all wondering: What kind of boss is Anderson Cooper? Well, the truth is, he couldn’t be nicer. He gives us every fifth Christmas off. And after two years of working for him you’re allowed to make eye contact.

Just don’t interrupt him during General Hospital.

Filed under: 360° Radar • Jack Gray
October 16th, 2008
12:39 PM ET

What about Jane Plumber?

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Linda Basch
President, National Council for Research on Women

The all-too-familiar talking points of the candidates reverberated through the air waves for a third and last time on Wednesday, but one key voting constituency was missing from the debate, namely, Jane Plumber, and, more specifically, Jane’s retirement funds.

As the bottom falls out of the stock market, the housing market plummets, and sub-prime mortgages put many American voters—especially women—in a financial freefall, it is the federal safety net that they’re depending on to cushion their landing. For swing voters, the majority of whom are older woman, this highly contentious election may come down to two often overlooked, make or break issues: Social Security and Medicare.

So far, neither candidate seems to have woken up to the tough economic facts facing so many older women voters. Women represent 57 percent of all Social Security beneficiaries aged 62 and older and approximately 70 percent of beneficiaries aged 85 and older. Women who have been widowed, divorced, or never married are especially dependent on Social Security, which accounts for at least half the income of nearly three-fourths of non-married women aged 65 and older.


October 16th, 2008
12:21 PM ET

Palestinians, Jews engaging and creating

Editor's note: Len and Libby Traubman started a Jewish-Arab-Muslim/Christian interfaith dialogue group more than 15 years ago.  They are considered the "godparents" to many other interfaith groups springing up around the country.

Len & Libby Traubman
Hosts of Jewish-Palestinian Living Room Dialogue Group

“You Arabs want to drive Israel into the sea, and you’re blowing up buses and lobbing bombs on citizens,” said the Jew with dual Israeli-American citizenship.

“Last week, you Jews murdered my two innocent cousins and their sister and mother in Gaza, then demolished their home,” said a young Palestinian Muslim studying in the U.S.

This is real. A recent conversation in our California living room.

Believe it or not, these “enemies” and other Muslims, Jews, and Christians like them continue to meet, insist on returning to face off every month. After 9/11, there was a windfall of even more citizen interest in Arab-Jewish and interfaith communication.

Realizing “an enemy is one whose story we have not heard,” our 16 year old Jewish-Palestinian Living Room Dialogue group, the oldest of its kind, is revving up for its 198th meeting to continue learning and changing. We’ve helped begin and encourage many dozens of similar groups across North America and beyond.

People still ask: Why keep meeting when inept government professionals keep failing decade after decade, resorting to violence – the dependable failure? Some Palestinians say, “Dialogue just makes the Jews feel less guilty.” Some Jews will tell you that “Palestinians think they are the only victims and don’t understand Jewish fear.”

Committed Dialogue participants will tell you that “Dialogue permits both stories, all stories. We share the need to be heard. My story is incomplete until you hear it. I long to hear your story so I can feel complete. The best way to defeat your enemies is to make them your friends.”

So what changes? This: becoming human to each other, we begin to want the best not only for ourselves but for the “other” equally – so far, the missing part of the peace process.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Global 360°
October 16th, 2008
10:40 AM ET

The Race for Florida

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Maria Teresa Petersen | BIO
Executive Director, Voto Latino

Never mind Joe the Plumber, both candidates covertly courted two other constituencies. Senator Obama weaved pro-choice and equal pay into his debate to win Wal-Mart moms. McCain stealthy courted Florida – more specifically, he courted the quarter of a million Colombians who reside in the sunshine state and other registered voters with strong ties to Latin America.

How else can one explain McCain bridging energy policy and America's foreign oil dependence to Colombia's failed free trade agreement before Congress? The connection was forced at best -unless one wants to win Florida.

At a time when the election hinges on a state by state strategy, Florida will prove critical this election as it has the past two cycles. And while McCain is losing the Latino vote in every battleground states by over 65%, Florida is the exception. Here Obama is up among Latino voters by a mere 6 point lead. If McCain consolidates the Cuban conservative vote with the Colombian one, he still has a shot at the White House.

October 16th, 2008
10:16 AM ET

Round Three

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Joe Klein

"This really gets down to the fundamental difference in our philosophies," John McCain said, quite accurately, in the heat of the third presidential debate. "If you notice ... Senator Obama wants government to do the job. He wants government to do the job. I want you, Joe, to do the job," referring to a plumber Barack Obama had met on the campaign trail.

The job, in this case, was finding health insurance. And in years past, McCain would have had the better of this argument — it is the classic division between liberals and conservatives. But 2008 has proved to be a new and frightening moment for the American electorate, and having the government help in finding, and funding, health care doesn't sound like such a bad idea anymore.

McCain had a feisty debate, with some high points and a bit too much anger to make Americans feel very comfortable in his presence, but to a very great extent, his fate — like this election — was out of his control. This is simply not a good year to say, "Joe, take care of your health care yourself." It seems an impossible year for McCain's Reagan Republican philosophy.

McCain entered the third debate with Obama a chastened man. Half the Republican savants seemed to have given up on him; the other half were offering bad advice. Worse, he seemed to have realized — finally — the permanent threat to his reputation that his campaign had become. The moment of truth may have occurred at an Oct. 6 rally. "Who is the real Barack Obama?" McCain asked. "A terrorist!" a man bellowed. McCain seemed to wince, roll his eyes, retreat.

He didn't admonish the man, but the incident was unsettling, and several days later, at a town-hall meeting in Minnesota, he did begin to push back against the ugliness of his crowds. A woman said, "I can't trust Obama. He's an Arab," and McCain replied, "No, ma'am. No, ma'am, he's not. He's a decent family man — citizen — that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues."


Filed under: Barack Obama • Joe Klein • John McCain • Raw Politics
October 16th, 2008
10:04 AM ET

America is ready for the Obama effect

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/10/16/art.vert.obama.jpg width=292 height=320]Donna Brazile
CNN Political Contributor

After two years of talking about the 2008 presidential campaign ad nauseam, I still get one question repeatedly: Is America ready yet?

My firm answer after being on the road nonstop and witnessing the crowds of ordinary people standing together for a cause greater than themselves is that the country is poised to write a new American chapter.

All the polls say Sen. Barack Obama is leading and that his rival Sen. John McCain should be very, very worried. From mid-single digits to low double-digits, some pollsters and pundits seem to believe that Obama has got this election in the bag.

But anyone who's been in this game for more than a round or two knows not to pop the bubbly too early. Who knows what can happen in the final weeks, days and hours of a presidential election? October has earned its reputation for surprises.

Usually it takes an event - an illegitimate child or the rumor of one, a past DUI conviction or a current mistress, a closet drug addiction or some other skeleton rattling its bones - to reverse the fortunes of a front-running candidate.

Editor's Note: Donna Brazile, a Democratic strategist, serves as a political contributor for CNN. Brazile, who served as the campaign manager for the Al Gore-Joe Lieberman ticket in 2000, wrote "Cooking with Grease: Stirring the Pots in American Politics," a memoir about her life in politics.

Filed under: Barack Obama • Donna Brazile • Raw Politics
October 16th, 2008
08:14 AM ET

Morning Buzz: Joe the Plumber

Penny Manis
AC360 Senior Producer

Good morning everyone! Talk about getting your 15 minutes of fame. Joe Wurzelbacher (he’s actually a real person) got 90 minutes of it last night, as John McCain and Barack Obama referred to him no less than 26 times in last night’s 3rd and final debate. Joe the plumber had met Obama on the campaign trail last weekend and told him he was not impressed with his tax plan.

Joe talked to our affiliate already following the debate, further explaining his position: “Quite honestly you're taxing someone for being successful, that's wrong, because you're successful you have to pay more than everyone else – that's what it comes down to, Obama says he'll do that, it's a very socialist view, and it's incredibly wrong. If it's 250,000 dollars now, what if he decides, well, 150,000 dollars you're pretty rich too, let's go ahead and lower it again, you know it's a slippery slope, when's it going to stop.”

John McCain attacked Obama’s tax plan using Joe’s weigh in, and also brought up his relationship with Ayers. Obama pushed back, saying when it comes to the economy, John McCain=George Bush. The two candidates continued a feisty back and forth on all issues related to health care, education and other topics, and our CNN opinion research poll shows that 58% of debate watchers though that Obama won, and 31% felt McCain came out on top.

With 19 days to go till Election Day, it’s a race to the finish as both candidates will make final pushes in key states. John McCain will attend a rally in Pennsylvania today, Obama attends a rally in New Hampshire. Palin will also be in New Hampshire, then Maine and North Carolina, and Biden conducts a couple of interviews later this evening. Candy Crowley and Dana Bash will be following all of the above for us tonight.

Our second topic du jour outside of politics is of course the economy. Asian markets plunged overnight, and European markets traded in negative territory. Our own markets had a 733 point drop yesterday, so Ali Velshi will be keeping a close eye on all of this for us tonight and we’ll see how our markets fare today.

Last but not least, you may notice tonight that we will drop the ’10’ from our aforementioned series: 10 Most Wanted: Culprits of the Collapse. Fact is, we felt there should be more than 10 folks on this list, it didn’t feel right to cut out a couple in order to hit exactly 10, so we are going to continue with the series based on who we feel should be on the list instead of sticking to an artificial number.

Make sure you tune in at 10pet, see you then!

Filed under: The Buzz
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