October 17th, 2008
02:22 PM ET

OK, so should I just watch the cab until you get back?

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/10/17/nyc.taxi.jpg]Jack Gray
AC360° Associate Producer

Ah, autumn in New York. A more beautiful time of year there could not be. The air is crisp, the leaves rustle along the sidewalks and happy couples canoodling in Central Park make the rest of us nauseous. Seriously people, get a room. The only two lovebirds I’m interested in watching make doe eyes at each other in public are John McCain and Hillary Clinton.

Meantime, the cool fall breeze has pushed cab drivers to a new level of insanity. There I was last night, on Seventh Avenue, in the back of a cab – it pulled up to a red light, the driver put it in park and then – wait for it, wait for it – got out and walked away! Leaving me in the back seat. I felt like I had been set up by the Mob. So this is how it ends, I thought. Like Sonny Corleone at the tollbooth.

The driver eventually returned – just as I was about to do a commando roll out the door – offering no explanation, though I suspected he decided that I was worth having as a human shield as he embarked on his new career as a drug mule.

I actually think I might prefer drivers who abandon me to those who try to make small talk. “So, big night tonight?” “Yes, I am on my way home alone at 9:00. Clearly my evening was a rousing success. Would you also like to discuss my fear of clowns?”

That’s not to say this weekend is a foregone dud. In fact, I might be traveling for work. There’s word that Joe the Plumber is heading to the West Bank to try to broker a peace deal between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

If I end up staying here in the states, I might make a trip to observe round two of one of the most heated and explosive confrontations of our time. I’m talking of course about the McCain supporters who dare walk through the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

As for the candidates themselves, Barack Obama will be furiously working the phones, trying to get a good quote on movers from Chicago to Washington.

John McCain will once again temporarily suspend his campaign, so he can go to the Meat Loaf concert in Pompano Beach, Florida.

Joe Biden is campaigning in battleground states before taking Saturday afternoon off to get a tune-up on his hair plugs.

And Sarah Palin will be appearing on Saturday Night Live to do her Tina Fey impression and/or kill a moose.

Have a good weekend. And remember – if you come to New York - you have three options for your taxi cab air freshener: body odor, foot odor or citrus.

Filed under: 360° Radar • Jack Gray
October 17th, 2008
02:09 PM ET

Stop the Split-Scream: We Need Less Anger and More Civility in our Politics

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John P. Avlon
Author, Independent Nation: How Centrists Can Change American Politics

At last night's Al Smith Dinner in New York, John McCain and Barack Obama sat at the same table. Each gave funny, self-effacing speeches that reaffirmed what it is often too easy to forget in the final month of presidential politics – that our opponents are not our enemies.

Activists from the far left and far right take pride in forgetting that. I know you've seen them on TV in what I call the "Split-Scream" – the screen divided in two, left and right, surrogates screaming predictable talking points past each-other, sucking up all the oxygen in the conversation, refusing to acknowledge any imperfections on their side or any virtue in their opponents.

They are the reason American politics feels more polarized than the American people actually are. They are the reason the moderate majority feels alienated and politically homeless.


Filed under: John P. Avlon • Raw Politics
October 17th, 2008
02:04 PM ET

Meet the real John McCain

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Jennifer Donahue
New Hampshire Institute of Politics, Harvard Institute of Politics

Last month, John McCain was just not being John McCain. He was allowing his campaign to call every shot. That meant he wasn’t speaking from his scrappy heart, the real underdog fighter John McCain. Instead, he was giving prescribed messages that weren’t his, and weren’t consistent–and you could tell he knew it. He was crankier, even curmudgeonly.

In fact, I was on AC360 one night, arguing with Ed Rollins about McCain’s candidacy, and I said at the time, “You know John McCain. I know John McCain. That is not John McCain.”

But I’ve been watching John McCain the past few days and you know what? The New John McCain unveiled this week is back to the Old, Old John McCain, the real John McCain! The man we knew before he was “taken prisoner by his own Machiavellian staff for forcing him to say and do things he does not want to,” as Stephen Colbert put it.

And guess what, Nation? It is the way McCain has made his comebacks in 2000 and August, 2008. And Barack Obama knows it. That’s why Obama asks voters to “remember New Hampshire,” and not get complacent. It is very possible voters will discover like the New Old Real John McCain.


Filed under: John McCain • Raw Politics
October 17th, 2008
01:24 PM ET

The Shot: The future for Joe the Plumber

We imagine what else Joe the Plumber, made famous during the last presidential debate, might aspire to.

Filed under: T1 • The Shot
October 17th, 2008
01:13 PM ET

Is American-style free-market capitalism dead?

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Jill Dougherty | Bio
U.S. Affairs Correspondent

“Is American-style free-market capitalism dead?” That’s the question I’m asking students in the economics class of Professor Robert M. Dunn, Jr. of the George Washington University.

Bank nationalizations, bailouts, more government control – doesn’t Washington’s proposed solution to the economic meltdown undermine the United States’ free-wheeling free market approach?

Grant Tudor, a third-year student, doesn’t think capitalism is dead but he does think it's going to look a lot different. "Because I think we've grown up in a system where it's very laissez-faire, he says. "Now, government will have a much heavier hand and it's not going to be such a black/white picture between big government and small government and big markets and regulated markets. I think there's going to be a strong mix between the two.”


Filed under: Jill Dougherty • Raw Politics
October 17th, 2008
12:38 PM ET

Barack Obama, icy cool under fire

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Ruben Navarrette Jr.
Columnist San Diego Union-Tribune

Make no mistake, Barack Obama is one cool customer. Now, after the last debate, it seems all but certain that the Iceman cometh to the White House.

Radio talk show hosts and rank-and-file Republicans spent the last few weeks pleading with John McCain to take the gloves off and take the fight to Obama. How's that working out, folks?

In this week's match-up, Obama snatched the gloves out of McCain's hands and slapped him silly with them. I suppose the hope was that Obama would get rattled and make a mistake. But Obama doesn't get rattled or make many mistakes.

I still have no idea what type of president Obama would make. But he's an extraordinary politician. In fact, he may even be better than Bill Clinton who, while he had the IQ and EQ, also had the burden of a legendary red-hot temper.

Obviously, it takes a lot to get under Obama's skin. McCain sure tried. Maybe this is the guy we want negotiating with world leaders. Maybe after eight years of George W. Bush stubbornness, on the heels of eight years of Clinton emotiveness, we need to send out for ice.

Read more

Editor’s note: Ruben Navarrette is a nationally syndicated columnist and a member of the editorial board of the San Diego Union-Tribune. Read his column here.

Filed under: Barack Obama • John McCain • Raw Politics
October 17th, 2008
09:04 AM ET

Morning Buzz: Jokes and White Bow Ties

Penny Manis
AC360 Senior Producer

How funny were the candidates last night during the Alfred E. Smith Foundation dinner? Barack Obama and John McCain took a break from the nasty battle for the White House, donned some dandy white bow ties and delivered great speeches in front of a prestigious audience in NYC.

Fave moments: McCain: “Even in this room of proud Manhattan Democrats, I can’t shake the feeling that some people here are pulling for me. I’m delighted to see you here tonight, Hillary.” And Obama saying he got his middle name “from someone who obviously didn’t think I’d run for President.” If you missed it, you should dig it up, and not because of well-deserved comedy relief but it also allows you to see sides of the candidates we normally don’t see on the mud-slinging campaign trail.

I hope you also enjoyed the message from writer/comedian Jessi Klein to David Gergen.  She had earlier blogged on another website about her passionate love for David, our senior political analyst. We couldn’t resist, we had to invite her to the studio to declare her love personally, and Anderson had a good laugh about it as poor David turned beet red. The AC360 team likes to inject moments of humor here and there, what can we say.

18 days to go till Election Day! Our latest poll of polls show McCain trailing Obama by 6 points nationally. Obama is keeping it all in check, he reminded a crowd in New Hampshire of his lost lead in that state during the primary, telling them not to get cocky. Meanwhile, McCain reminded voters he’s been written off before, but ‘we never give up.’

Today, Obama campaigns in Virginia, McCain in Florida, Biden in New Mexico and Nevada, and Palin in Ohio & Indiana. Candy Crowley and Ed Henry tonight will tell us where the campaigns go from here.

Gary Tuchman follows Joe Biden today and gives us a taste of the vibe at his rallies. Remember earlier in the week he did the same at the Palin rallies. And speaking of Palin, she will appear on Saturday Night Live tomorrow. Will the real Palin be as good as Tina Fey playing her?

We have David Mattingly delivering a report on our latest Culprit of the Collapse, who it is may surprise you! And Ali Velshi will continue to follow the markets for us today, they were mixed globally overnight- so we’ll see how they fare today on our side of the pond.

That’s where we start, see you at 10pet!

Filed under: The Buzz
October 17th, 2008
08:31 AM ET

The fraud of "voter fraud"

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/10/16/art.voting.jpg]Ian Inaba
Co-founder, Video the Vote

The war over so-called "voter fraud" has reached a fever pitch during the last several weeks.  In the most recent battle, the forces of "election integrity" are claiming victory after the 6th Circuit Appeals Court forced Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner to release a list of 200,000 voters whose names don’t match government databases.  At Video the Vote  – a national, nonpartisan election monitoring project – we’ve been hitting the streets to meet the real-life voters caught in the crossfire.

During the past two weeks, we’ve interviewed people on Florida’s “No Match No Vote” list, voters being caged in Missoula, Montana, and we’ll meet with Ohio voters as soon as that list is released.

What we’ve found is not surprising, but it is disturbing. Voters don’t end up on these lists because they are trying to defraud the system.  They’re there because of clerical errors, changed maiden names, or even because they were shipped across the country to train for military deployment.   In many cases, we were the first to inform them that their registrations might be in jeopardy.

And these voters have questions about the motivations behind overzealous voter list management.  As “caged” Montana voter Sarah Horvath asked: “What does this mean?  Does someone not want me to vote?”  We don’t like to assume bad faith, but with scant evidence of actual voter fraud, and thousands of voters disenfranchised in recent elections, it’s hard not to see the efforts to “clean up the rolls” as anything more than a voter suppression tactic.

What happens next in Ohio remains to be seen, but will likely impact the presidential election.  The GOP says it won’t use the list to challenge voters, but observers are dubious given that the party has requested information about newly registered voters from all 88 counties.  And legal experts say the list can’t be used to purge voters because we are within 90 days of the election, a legal issue that has garnered scant media attention despite this excellent New York Times investigation.

But there is little question that the Ohio ruling will increase confusion, lengthen lines, and cause difficulty for voters on Election Day.  As happens all too often in the battle between two political parties, it is everyday voters who will lose.    

Editor's note: Ian Inaba is director and producer of American Blackout, a pre-election music video for Eminem's "Mosh," and author of the book True Lies. In 2006 he co-founded Video the Vote, a citizen journalism project that organizes volunteers to document voting irregularities. He is also the co-founder of GNN.tv, an independent news and film organization.

Filed under: Ian Inaba • Voting
October 17th, 2008
08:00 AM ET

McCain, Obama and nothing but the truth

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/10/15/art.mccainobama.jpg]Tom Foreman | Bio
AC360° Correspondent

Whether you like Obama, McCain, or haven’t yet made up your mind, the facts are telling us one irrefutable thing: You better watch these guys like a hawk, because they are both flinging out half-truths, misleading statements, and downright falsehoods like a cashier caught with his hand in the drawer. 

I’m not kidding.  I know a lot of you adore these fellows, and simply can not stand hearing them accused of such double-dealing, but I’ve been on fact-check duty for months now, and let me tell you, the landscape is not pretty.  In the final debate, my eyes nearly rolled out of my skull as over and over again they each presented arguments that have been repeatedly denounced by non-partisan, expert analysts.

On healthcare, the economy, their voting records, energy policy, and who is going too negative, they both blanketed the evening with misleading, confusing, and incorrect statements. 

Everyone makes mistakes.  Sometimes, even in the midst of fact-checking, journalists get things wrong.  So in the heat of a tough election, I think reporters can often be too hard on politicians who make ill-considered, impromptu remarks.  Too often, we tear them to pieces over understandable lapses of memory, or stumbles in politically sensitive minefields.   

But these candidates seem to be doing something quite different.  They appear to be willingly trying to lead voters down a primrose path to the election, with facts that just are not facts at all.  Happens every election you say?  Yes, I’m afraid that’s the tragedy of it.  I just keep hoping somehow, someday, I’ll run into an election where it doesn’t happen.

Maybe the person we elect, whichever man it is, will be an excellent leader.  Maybe this is just what it takes to win the White House. 

But if you think these gentlemen are even close to telling you the truth, and nothing but the truth, think again.

Filed under: Barack Obama • John McCain • Raw Politics • Tom Foreman
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