[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/10/22/art.undecided.gi.jpg]Ed Rollins
GOP Strategist, Former Huckabee National Campaign Chairman
We're coming to the close of the longest and most costly presidential election in our history.
Whoever wins, this race will be historic. We will elect in a week either the first African-American president and the first Catholic vice president or the oldest man to be elected to a first term and the first woman vice president.
Another asterisk for the record books would be the election of the first president born in Hawaii or vice president raised in Alaska.
Fifty-six times Americans have gone to the polls to select our presidents. This is the first time two sitting U.S. senators are facing off against each other. It is the first time since 1928 a sitting president or vice president is not a candidate. But two presidents, the incumbent and his immediate predecessor, cast giant shadows over this election season.
The biggest shadow of course is that of President Bush. Our 43rd president's goal in life was to surpass his father, 41, whom he admired but felt was weak.
Guided by his political guru, Karl Rove, it was Bush II's ambition to make the Republican Party the majority party for decades to come. He and Karl wanted to create a political realignment that would marginalize Democrats for at least a generation and maybe more.
Editor's Note: Ed Rollins, who served as political director for President Reagan, is a Republican strategist who was national chairman of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee's 2008 presidential campaign.
Early voting…and other stories on our radar:
ON THE TRAIL: Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin will campaign together in Pennsylvania with rallies in Hershey and Quakertown before McCain heads to Fayetteville, NC. Palin stays in Pennsylvania attending rallies in Shippensburg and University Park. Sen. Obama starts his day in Pennsylvania with a rally in Chester and then heads to a rally in Harrisonburg, VA and finishes the day with a rally in Norfolk, VA. Sen. Biden will be at rallies in Ocala and Melbourne, FL.
RAW POLITICS: Thirty states allow for early voting and up to 30% of Americans may have voted for John McCain or Barack Obama well before Nov.4th rolls around. Why are people coming out earlier than normal? Who are they voting for?
KWAME KILPATRICK SENTENCING: Scheduled date of sentencing for former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, who pled guilty to obstruction of justice.
FREEDOM AWARDS: The National Civil Rights Museum honors those people whose accomplishments demonstrate the spirit of the Civil Rights Movement. This year’s freedom awards go to Al Gore, Diane Nash and B.B. King.
We are big fans of the live blog. Anderson, Erica and the entire staff of AC360° enjoy reading your comments. We respect your opinions and love the feedback. After all, without you the viewer, and you the reader, we are working all these hours for nothing.
Every night we get hundreds of comments. Many get posted, many others do not because of space and time limitations. NEWS FLASH: there are other reasons. People are breaking the rules. Here's a quick recap of the guidelines:
1. Use your real name.
2. Stay on topic.
3. We like criticism. But keep it intelligent and thoughtful, perhaps even constructive.
4. Don't write in ALL CAPS.
Yes, I know you can obey the rules and still not get posted. Refer back to "space and time limitations." Please keep trying – like I said we really do value your input.
On the program tonight: with only a week of campaigning left, Barack Obama is trying to close the deal, and John McCain is trying to stop him. The battlefield, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Two campaigns on the same turf but in very different circumstances. We'll have reports from the field and talk over today's developments with the Best Political Team in Television.
Don’t forget to watch Erica Hill’s webcast during the commercials. LINK TO WEBCAST
And take a look at Anderson and Erica on our live web camera from the 360° studio. We’ll turn the camera on at 945p ET and turn it off at 11p ET. LINK TO THE BLOG CAMERA
We’ll start posting comments at 10p ET and stop at 11p ET.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/10/27/art.stevens.convicted.jpg caption="Sen. Ted Stevens leaves federal court in Washington, Monday, after a guilty verdict was returned by the jury at his trial."]
CNN Political Producer
Conservatives online weren't huge fans of Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska because of his big earmarking ways, and most say the GOP should have dumped him long ago.
So, needless to say, some of the big conservative blogs are saying "good riddance" if he loses his re-election race, after being convicted today on seven corruption counts.
In fact, one of biggest outlets for the conservative grassroots online - www.RedState.com - just came out and endorsed his Democratic opponent, Mark Begich for the Senate.
Here are links to RedState and other conservative blogs:
Amanda Carpenter at Town Hall
KJ Lopez at The Corner
Ed Morrissey at HotAir
Richard Vigurie on Christian News Wire
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/POLITICS/10/27/early.voting/art.earlyvoting.gi.jpg caption="Long lines of early voters have been reported in several states across the country."]
8 days to go until the election and the latest CNN poll of polls shows Sen. Barack Obama with an 8 point edge. But, Sen. John McCain says don't count him out.
"We're a few points down. The pundits they've written us off as they have several times before. My opponent is working out the details with Speaker Pelosi and Sen. Reid of their plans to raise your taxes, increase spending, and concede defeat in Iraq. He's measuring the drapes. And he's planned his first address to the nation for before the election. You know, I guess I'm old fashioned about these things. I'd prefer to let the voters weigh in before presuming the outcome," said McCain tonight in Pottsville, Pennsylvania.
Both Pennsylvania and Ohio got visits from the candidates today, and with good reason. Both states are in play this year. Each side wants to claim victory in the battleground states.
In Ohio, Obama warned his supporters against claiming victory.
"Don't believe for a second this election is over. Don't think for a minute that power concedes. We have a lot of work to do. We have to work like our future depends on it in this last week, because it does depend on it this week," Obama said.
Tonight on 360° we'll have the latest from the campaign trail.
CNN's Miles O'Brien will show us which states are in play in front of the magic map.
And, 360's Tom Foreman is tracking Obama's record cash flow. He's the first candidate to raise $660 million dollars. That's a million for every day since he announced his campaign. So, where is the money coming from? We're keeping them honest.
All that and more tonight on 360°.
Hope you'll join us at 10pm ET.
Ready for today's Beat 360°?
Everyday we post a picture – and you provide the caption and our staff will join in too.
Tune in tonight at 10pm to see if you are our favorite!
Here is the 'Beat 360°’ pic:
Republican vice presidential candidate Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin calls her mother to wish her a happy birthday during a campaign speech at the Asheville Civic Center in Asheville, N.C. on Sunday.
Have fun with it. We're looking forward to your captions!
Make sure to include your name, city, state (or country) so we can post your comment.
But wait!… There’s more!
When you win ‘Beat 360°’ not only do you get on-air prime-time name recognition (complete with bragging rights over all your friends, family, and jealous competitors), but you get a “I Won the Beat 360° Challenge” T-shirt!
Update: Today's winner is Jenn from Monrovia, California, who wrote:
Hi there Mom, I’m using a lifeline, can you think of any other examples where McCain’s been a ‘maverick’?
CNN Chief National Correspondent
For The New Mexico Sun News it is either a major scoop or “Dewey Beats Truman” déjà vu 60 years later.
“Obama Wins!” is the headline of the edition on newsstands now, complete with “special collector’s edition” in red bold typeface.
The Sun News is a bi-monthly newspaper and its Oct 26-Nov 8 issue had to hit the streets, and the newsstands, before the election. So the editors decided to make a leap of faith and declare Democrat Barack Obama the winner.
In an article explaining their choice, the editors unabashedly wrote, “When it comes to calling the winner of a presidential election, everyone wants to be first. The New Mexico Sun News hereby claims that achievement.”
Under FBI investigation, with about a dozen active and open state investigations for accusations of voter registration fraud, ACORN has got some explaining to do. And now even The New York Times has chastised the organization for "vastly overstating" its voter registration numbers.
ACORN, or the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, had set up in 800 poor neighborhoods across the country, targeting minorities, mostly blacks, to register to vote.
It is a noble enough goal to combat past efforts to suppress the black vote and prevent voter "disenfranchisement." But just as the road to hell is paved with good intentions - the good intentions of some is leading to an all-out path to destruction of the soul of our electoral process.
One Cleveland, Ohio, woman - black, 20-something, first-time voter, being interviewed on television - reported that she was "harassed" and "preyed upon" by ACORN workers each time she got off the bus. Each time she told them she had registered already and each time, they told her it was OK to do it again.
Eventually, she had registered six times and didn't realize she had done anything wrong until an election official noticed the discrepancy and called to notify the woman that her ability to vote could now be in jeopardy because she had registered so many times. What a travesty! Talk about disenfranchisement.
Editor's note: Tara Wall, deputy editorial page editor and columnist for The Washington Times, is a political contributor to CNN. Before joining the newspaper, she was a senior adviser for the Republican National Committee and was appointed a public affairs director in the Department of Health and Human Services by President Bush. Read her columns here.
CNN Political Contributor
Our nation's economic foundation is crumbling like sand beneath our feet. Middle-class families are losing their jobs, homes, savings accounts and college funds.
Retirement nest eggs are fried to a crisp. Nine million children in America don't have health care coverage. We're fighting wars on more fronts than we can handle.
And John McCain is talking about ACORN?
Just as a top McCain adviser admitted that his candidate wouldn't campaign on the economy because it's a losing issue, so too it seems that the GOP has made a collective decision to abandon any real discussion of the issues in favor of distortion and distraction.
Through its 850 neighborhood chapters in more than 100 cities across the United States, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now organizes the powerless to work together for social justice and stronger communities through affordable housing, quality education and better public services. They are dedicated to looking out for those with little means in our society.
In the world of some elites, low- and moderate-income families and the organizations that work to empower them are the bad guys. There is all-out class warfare going on here, folks.
Another example of it is how people in the low-income bracket are being blamed for the subprime market crash - rather than the unscrupulous lenders who redirected them from the fixed 30-year prime rates they could have paid to the subprime and adjustable rate mortgages destined to implode. The victims are revictimized.
It is an unfortunate reality that "poor" and "racial minority" are invariably overlapping circles in a Venn diagram. But the class animosity now being bred is, as it always has been, a cover for racial antipathy. And, make no mistake, this is exactly what's going on here. How pathetic and immoral in the face of the challenges we must confront as a nation.
Experts who have examined the allegations against ACORN have concluded that there is no significant threat of voter fraud. For the fraudulent registration forms to turn into fraudulent votes, they would have had to get through the election officials' vetting systems and make it onto the voter rolls.
Next, someone would need to arrive at the assigned polling location with valid identification that lists the same name and address as the fraudulent registration. (This is fairly difficult to do if you're dead or named Mickey Mouse.)
Then, having passed all these hurdles, that someone would cast a vote that will cost him or her 10 years in jail. Just find me someone willing to spend 10 years in jail just for a chance to vote for Obama or McCain?
Let's look at the facts. ACORN labeled as "suspicious" the fraudulent registration forms a few of its paid volunteers submitted. Moreover, ACORN delivered them to election authorities under that heading. ACORN offered to help election officials pursue prosecutions against those who filled out the fraudulent forms.
The so-called ACORN scandal is no more than a few canvassers trying to meet their quota and make easy money by cheating the system.
Chief National Correspondent
Eight days out and some Republicans see small glimmers of progress, if not hope. But most are fairly bleak about the GOP’s chances.
“Feels like the makings of a landslide,” said one veteran GOP operative who has held top jobs in presidential campaigns and been closely involved in past congressional cycles.
Another longtime strategist who is involved in a number of congressional and state races this year said many Republicans who had run good campaigns were asking a daunting question heading into the final week: “Will all these newly registered voters go to vote for Obama and then walk out without voting for a lot of candidates they have never heard of, or will they go all the way down the ballot to create coattails?”
Somewhat more optimistic was a GOP strategist closely involved with the McCain campaign.
“Things improved,” over the weekend, was this strategist’s take. “No mystery. Lots of red states closer than last week.”
This operative said rural voters and white downscale men had moved a bit toward the Republican ticket in recent days, making the battleground states somewhat more competitive.
A second senior McCain campaign adviser said Senator McCain had taped new advertisements to be used in the final week. One, due out as early as Monday, is McCain speaking to camera about what he considers the best components of his approach to the economy, and his take on the downsides of the Obama plan.
Later in the week, this senior adviser said, the McCain campaign plans to launch what he called a strong “commander in chief for the close” ad.
Editor's note: See John King on the Magic Map tonight on AC360 at 10PM ET.