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Candidates Fight for Votes in Battleground States

October 29, 2008 at 6:15 PM EST
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JUDY WOODRUFF: After starting the day talking about taxes, John McCain turned to national security this afternoon in Tampa, Florida, where he attempted to paint Democrat Barack Obama as unprepared to lead.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-Ariz.): My fellow Americans, we’re going to get through this economic crisis. We will get through it. And we will even come out stronger, without the corruption and arrogance that have overtaken both Washington and Wall Street.

We’re going to pull through these hard times and do it together, just as our country has done before.

But when that day arrives and the worries of financial crisis have fallen away, we will find awaiting our country all of the same great challenges and dangers that were there all along. They mattered before the economic turmoil of the present; they will matter still when it has passed.

And in a time of war, at a moment of danger for our country and the world, let it not be said of us that we lost sight of these challenges.

With terrorists still plotting new strikes across the world, millions of innocent lives are still at stake, including American lives. Our enemies’ violent ambitions must still be prevented by American vigilance, by diplomacy and cooperation with our partners, and by force of arms as a last resort.

In his four years in the Senate, two of them spent running for president, Barack Obama has displayed some impressive qualities. But the question is whether this is a man who has what it takes to protect America from Osama bin Laden, al-Qaida, and other grave threats in the world.

And he has given you no reason to answer in the affirmative.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The Obama campaign rejected McCain’s attack in a statement, saying, “When the next president is tested, the American people can have John McCain’s judgment of siding with George Bush and Dick Cheney on every major national security decision, or they can have the steady leadership and sound judgment of Barack Obama that has earned the support of Americans like General Colin Powell.”

McCain’s running mate, Sarah Palin, was in Toledo, Ohio, this morning, focusing on energy independence. She accused the Democratic ticket of resisting alternatives to foreign oil, such as clean coal, nuclear power, and off-shore drilling.

GOV. SARAH PALIN (R-Alaska): Technology has come such a long way. Again, they don’t get it. They need to understand the science behind all of this today.

And those cleaner, safer technologies are far likelier to be used in the U.S. and in Canada than by China, or India, or other developing nations. It’s here. Well, they will be produced in environmentally friendly manners and protecting the workers, much more likely here than in these developing countries.

So policies that forego domestic production don’t protect our environment. They simply accelerate and reward dirtier and more dangerous methods of production elsewhere in countries that apply few, if any, environmental or workplace safeguards.

While our opponents like to posture as defenders of the environment, in practice their refusal to support more domestic production does nothing more than harm — it ultimately harms our environment. It doesn’t do any good.

Obama ticket sticks to the economy

JUDY WOODRUFF: The Democratic ticket's number-two, Joe Biden, campaigned in Jupiter, Florida, where he said protecting Social Security was a key element to strengthening the middle class.

SEN. JOE BIDEN (D-Del.): It also means ensuring retirement for those of you who have put everything of your lifetime into working hard and playing by the rules. And now look at your 401(k)s. Now look at where your investments are. And people find themselves in trouble.

Can you imagine -- can you imagine if, in fact, Social Security had been in the stock market? Can you imagine now the last couple months, if Bush and McCain had succeeded in privatizing Social Security?

Well, folks, here's what Barack and I believe: We believe there should be no privatization of Social Security.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Barack Obama began his day in Raleigh, N.C., where he said the McCain campaign had given up a focus on the economy and was resorting instead to negative attacks.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-Ill.): They don't want to talk about the economy. That's what you want to talk about. That's what affects your lives day in and day out.

Now, because he knows that his economic theories don't work, he's been spending these last few days calling me every name in the book. Lately, he's called me a socialist for wanting to roll back the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans so we can finally give tax relief to the middle class.

I don't know what's next. By the end of the week, he'll be accusing me of being a secret communist because I shared my toys in kindergarten.

I shared my peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Look, that's his choice. That's the kind of campaign he chooses to run. But you have a choice, too.

The fundamental question in this election is not, "Are you better off than you were four years ago?" We know the answer to that. The fundamental question is, "Will we be better off four years from now?"

Now, for eight years, we've seen Washington take care of the extremely well-off and the extremely well-connected. And now my opponent is making the same arguments to justify the same old policies that have been a complete failure for the middle class.

John McCain wants to give more to billionaires, more to corporations that ship jobs overseas, more to the same people whose greed and irresponsibility got us into this crisis in the first place. And we're here because we know they shouldn't get away with it anymore.

We don't need another president who fights for Washington lobbyists and Wall Street. We need a president who stands up for hardworking Americans on Main Street, and that's what I intend to be.

JUDY WOODRUFF: From there, Obama traveled to Florida, where he planned to meet up with Biden for an "Early Vote for Change" rally in Sunrise this evening.

POLL WORKER: Good morning. It'll make it a little easier if you have your I.D. out.

Voters, problems arriving in droves

JUDY WOODRUFF: In fact, many in the Sunshine State are voting early, more even than officials expected.

ION SANCHO, elections supervisor, Leon County: Some of those lines have lasted between four hours to six hours. And those are really unconscionably long lines.

JUDY WOODRUFF: More than 10 percent of registered voters in Florida have already cast their ballot. Those record lines prompted Governor Charlie Crist to declare a state of emergency yesterday to extend polling hours.

And Florida is not alone: Record turnouts are reported across the country, in the more than 30 states that allow some form of early voting.

VOTER: The wait is ridiculous, and they should have more voting booths inside.

JUDY WOODRUFF: There have also been instances of malfunctioning voting machines. Many states put them in place after the 2000 election.

JERRY HOLLAND, elections supervisor, Duval County: It's frustrating when we've bought new equipment for this and we are having some problems that didn't show up at all during the testing.

JUDY WOODRUFF: In West Virginia, Tennessee, and Texas, there are reports the voting machines have switched votes.

VOTER: I would feel safer.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Democrat and Republicans in some counties are urging voters to use paper ballots to create a trail for a potential recount.

VOTER: It's just a matter of having a really fair and honest election.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Thousands of lawyers from both campaigns are amassing in battleground states.

And there are already lawsuits. The NAACP sued Virginia Governor Tim Kaine, saying the state was unprepared to deal with a record-breaking turnout.

KING SALIM KHALFANI, Virginia NAACP: We need to ensure that there are no shenanigans with this election. We saw what happened in 2000 and in 2004, and we've said, "Not on our watch in Virginia."

JUDY WOODRUFF: Kaine defended the state's readiness and said Virginia is better equipped this year than in 2004.

In Colorado and Georgia, watchdog groups have raised concerns about the states' purging voter registrations.

VOTER: I'm not dead, and I haven't moved, so why did this happen? And they said they had -- they didn't know.

JUDY WOODRUFF: There have also been some attempts to over-register voters. The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN, came under fire in Ohio recently for submitting fraudulent registration cards.