'Special Report' Panel Discusses Obama's Lead at the Polls and Voter Registration Fraud at Ohio ACORN Center

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This is a rush transcript of "Special Report With Brit Hume" from October 10, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's easy to rile up a crowd by stoking anger and division, but that's not what we need right now in the United States. The times are too serious. The challenges are too great.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're the underdogs, and we're going to come from behind like we have every time in the past. How many times, my friends, have the pundits written off the McCain campaign? We're going to fool them again! We're going to fool them one more time!


BRET BAIER, HOST: Well, sounds from the campaign trail today from Senators McCain and Obama talking about this race.

We have the latest FOX News opinion dynamics poll that came out today. And there you see it, Obama, 46 percent, McCain 39 percent.

Then there was this question — who do you think will win? Obama, 61 percent; McCain, 18 percent. That's a big change from September, 20 points for Obama there.

Now some analytical observations from Fred Barnes, Executive Editor of The Weekly Standard, Mort Kondracke, Executive Editor of Roll Call, and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer, FOX News contributors all.

Fred, when you look at the polls, who do you think will win, do you sense that there are Republicans out there that are thinking this thing is over for McCain?

FRED BARNES, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Yes. I guess they see what the mainstream media is writing, and as they do that, and they think Obama has the better chance, and all the polls show him ahead.

I would point out that the FOX poll and the Gallup poll, which shows Obama ahead by ten, do registered voters. When you have a tighter screen and do likely voters, which I think John Zogby does and I think Scott Rasmussen does as well, it's five points.

So it may be a little closer than the FOX poll says, but with a substantial and significant Obama lead.

Look, you know, you hear Obama saying these things about how he's being mistreated by the McCain campaign, and so on. This is a guy that has yelled at McCain saying he is using race, and he is accusing Obama of having Muslim connections.

And then all the stuff his supporters have said about McCain — they have even criticized him for being shot down in Vietnam and for his first marriage, and all kinds of things like that.

The hypocrisy here is rather deep.

BAIER: In the beginning there, Mort-go ahead.

MORT KONDRAKE, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, ROLL CALL: The Obama campaign has not criticized McCain for being shot down!

BARNES: I didn't say that. That's supporters of Obama, which he could easily tell don't do that, but he hasn't, mort.

KONDRACKE: People in the crowds at some McCain rallies have yelled racial slurs. They have said "kill him," "traitor," and all that stuff. And, finally, McCain told them to cool it today.

BAIER: To that end, late in the afternoon Senator McCain had this to say to all the folks there.


MCCAIN: I want to be president of the United States, and obviously I do not want senator Obama to be, but I have to tell you, I have to tell you he is a decent person, and a person that you do not have to be scared as president of the United States.

Now, I just — now, I just — now, look, if I didn't think I wouldn't be one heck of a lot better president, I wouldn't be running, OK?


BAIER: Now, there are a lot of Republicans who look at that sound byte, I think, and say, what is the deal? We need you to get more aggressive. What is the deal?

KONDRACKE: Yes, what is the deal, and how does that compare with all the ads that McCain is running, mentioning Bill Ayers, the terrorist — I think, you know, legitimately so. But nonetheless, that mention is what leads people in the crowds to say "terrorist" about Obama.

BARNES: Mort, how many people have done that?


BARNES: You don't have the slightest idea, do you?

KONDRACKE: I read it in the papers that it has happened, and it has happened, and you know it has happened. And there was a sheriff who got up there in full uniform and said "We can't have Barack Hussein Obama-" now, what's that all about? That's to identify him as a Muslim.

And that was an official rally and an official introducer.

BARNES: That is his middle name.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: You can't pin that on McCain. We heard McCain rather honorably say that he respects his opponent.

Look, Obama ran a scurrilous ad in Spanish language in which he attributed two quotes to Rush Limbaugh which appeared to be slurs on Hispanic Americans. It was a complete misrepresentation of what Limbaugh had said, and then it linked McCain and Limbaugh in a way that was completely irresponsible.

So he has done some pretty nasty stuff out there as well.

The problem with the William Ayers ad is the timing. It is perfectly legitimate to attack Obama to have a relationship with a man who bombed military installations and who tried to kill Americans. If McCain had had a political event in the home of a man who had bombed abortion clinics, I can assure you it would be a legitimate issue.

But the problem is that McCain had written off these kinds of associations as relevant months ago when the Jeremiah Wright events emerged. He attacked a North Carolina Republican ad that linked Obama and Wright. He essentially wrote it off, and I think he disarmed himself.

These are legitimate issues of Obama's associations, and McCain having eschewed them a few months ago, by reviving it now, it looks like a move of desperation. And that's why I think it is less effective now than if it had been months ago.

BARNES: McCain tends to undermine his own campaign. I know we're going to talk about ACORN in a minute, but his campaign has put out all kinds of material linking Obama to ACORN-he was their lawyer in at least one case, and so on, and yet when asked about it today at a rally, I think that same rally in Minnesota, he wouldn't say that.

You know, when his campaign is doing one thing and he's not doing that, it's a problem.

BAIER: And if the ad says you shouldn't trust him as president, and he yet the candidate says you don't have to be afraid of him as president —

BARNES: Yes, yes.

KONDRACKE: It's a big disconnect. Which is the real McCain? I think the real McCain is the decent guy who is on the stump there, and his campaign managers and stuff are determined that they are not going to go down without a fight and they're going to fight with everything they have got, and they are going to throw the kitchen sink at Obama.

And, as I say, a lot of it is legitimate stuff, but the time something bad.

BAIER: There are allegations, as we mentioned, of fraud surrounding one key voter registration group. We'll talk about that when we come back.



MCCAIN: We allow people who do not deserve it to vote, or other abuses of our system, then obviously it's a direct threat to the fundamentals of democracy.

Yes, we need a full and complete and thorough investigation of these allegations, which seem to be widespread, and they need to be immediate.

BRIAN KETTENRING, ACORN SPOKESMAN: Current strategy seems to be from the right to create, to manufacture a so-called crisis of voter fraud — frankly, they're having some success — and then to solve that crisis through measures that are about constricting the electorate, narrowing the electorate, keeping people from being able to vote.


BAIER: Well, there you heard from a spokesman from ACORN, and before that, of course, Senator McCain talking about this group. ACORN is the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now.

There you see a map where there are voter fraud investigations or questions about the activities of ACORN in 13 different states. Nevada, for example, has forms for the starting lineup of the Dallas cowboys, and there are specific examples all over the place.

Let's talk about this group, ACORN, what's happening with these investigations. We're back with the panel. Charles, is this a big deal? It seems like the number of investigations and intensity over it are increasing quickly.

KRAUTHAMMER: It is. It is happening a lot of places. In Nevada, that you mentioned, it is the Democratic secretary of state who is looking into this.

There is a report in Connecticut of a registration of a seven-year-old girl. There is a report in Cleveland of a guy who said he was are registered 72 times. And what I like is at the end he said having registered how many times, I may actually go out and vote.

This has happened before with ACORN, and the question is how closely associated with Obama is it? And we know he was once the general counsel of ACORN in Illinois way back when.

And we know that in the primary season in Ohio he hired an organization called "Citizens Service, Inc," a private organization. He gave it over $800,000 to do political work.

It turns out that the board of directors of that and the local ACORN is identical, so essentially it was a front.

So it is an organization with very close ties and is obviously engaging in a lot of places in what looks like fraud, and I think the Obama campaign has to answer to this.

BAIER: Will this, Mort, have a blowback on the Obama campaign as the investigations really pick up steam?

KONDRACKE: Well, I think the connections, the specific connections through Ohio to the Obama campaign are thin, that what ACORN is doing all over the country certainly deserves investigation.

I mean, and they have had various officials of ACORN have been indicted for things, have charged them for various voter fraud incidents, and so on. So there's definitely smoke there.

Now, whether the smoke goes back to a fire that exists within the Obama campaign is another matter, which merits investigation.

You know, if there were any investigative reporters who care to do it, it should be done.

BAIER: You know, Fred, in Lake County, Indiana, so far of the 5,000 applications ACORN turned in, 2,100 so far have been identified as bad — registered to dead people, registered to someone who lives in a fast food place or shop.

So are we looking at Tallahassee again after this election, if it's very close in some of these states? Are we looking at a bunch of these places really being lawyered?

BARNES: It could be a situation — they do learn this in Chicago politics. They're quite famous for that.

But if it is a chose election and you are looking for challenges of voters that made challenges that would continue after the election and raise doubts about it if it's close.

Now, you heard the response from the ACORN guy. That's what they always say. Anytime anybody catches them signing up Tony Romo and Dallas Cowboys out in Las Vegas, it's voter suppression. That's what they're — whether they're Democrats, voter registrars, or Republicans. It's always voter suppression.

And, look, I mean, the evidence is clear it would be nice for the Obama campaign, for Barack Obama himself to disassociate himself from ACORN, to denounce ACORN, and for other Democrats as well. They have never done that.

BAIER: The secretary of state of Nevada, by the way, says Tony Romo is not registered to vote in the state. They've checked.

That's it for the panel.

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