WASHINGTON (CNN) - A top election official warned of a potential "tsunami" on Election Day because of serious problems facing overburdened state and local officials preparing for an unprecedented turnout at the polls November 4th.
Doug Lewis, Executive Director of the National Association of Election Officials told a House panel Wednesday that he is reminded of what Hurricane Ike did to Galveston as he looks at the potential for election disaster.
"Galveston knew what was coming. They did everything they could, but they were overwhelmed," he said.
Lewis and top election officials from Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia all warned members of two House subcommittees that the lack of resources, lack of trained poll workers, new mandated but untested voting procedures combined with waves of new voters could cause havoc.
They all predicted most voters could expect at the least very long and often slow-moving lines.
Lewis said election officials continue to get overloaded with complicated new requirements for checking voters at the polls, and yet on average the poll workers get about three hours of training.
The election officials placed some of the burden for preparations on the voters–insisting they should be prepared– being certain of their registration, knowing where to go, knowing what to expect and what ID to have.
The election officials also urged Congressional members to avoid highly inflammatory partisan allegations, saying the voters must have confidence in the integrity of the voting system.
John McCain doesn't want reporters talking to his running mate. Why not?
The Straight Talk Express - which, by the way, is an expression you don't hear much from McCain these days - would prefer no talk at all if the conversation is between the news media and Sarah Palin.
Yesterday's photo op at the United Nations between Sarah Palin and Afghan President Hamid Karzai was a joke. The McCain people weren't going to allow any reporters in the room when the two met - just cameras. It was only after the networks threatened to not cover the event at all that the McCain people relented and allowed a pool producer into the room. He was permitted to stay for a total of 29 seconds before being escorted out. And of course, no questions.
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WASHINGTON (CNN) - The political future of one of the power houses of the U.S. Senate, Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), will most likely rest in the hands of a Washington jury with opening statements in his trial set for Thursday morning. Political and legal experts say there is little doubt Stevens' re-election will be determined by his guilt or innocence. Stevens, 84, was locked in a tight re-election contest with Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich even before the indictment against him was returned at the end of July.
Stevens, the longest serving Republican in the Senate, is charged with failing to report on his congressional disclosure forms renovations to his Alaska home, including the creation of a first floor, new garage and a new deck, paid for by the Alaska-based oil services corporation VECO as well as other gifts from the company, such as a new Land Rover which was exchanged for an older car and a gas grill.
Prosecutors allege Stevens received more than $250,000 worth of goods. The seven-term senator is not charged with receiving bribes although prosecutors allege in the indictment "Stevens could and did use his official position and his office on behalf of VECO."
The senator, known in Washington as combative and self-confident, has characteristically not backed down, maintaining his innocence saying he paid for all bills related to the home renovation given to him. His defense attorneys pushed for a quick start to the proceedings knowing the charges would dominate the election campaign.
(CNN) - First Lady Laura Bush told CNN Wednesday Sarah Palin lacks experience in foreign policy, but quickly added the Alaska governor is "a very quick study."
Asked by CNN's Zain Verjee if she thought Palin's resume included sufficient foreign policy experience, Bush said, "Of course she doesn't have that."
"You know, that's not been her role," she continued, "But I think she is a very quick study, and fortunately John McCain does have that sort of experience."
The McCain campaign has pointed to Palin's gubernatorial service as head of the Alaska National Guard, part of which is deployed in Iraq, as experience in foreign policy.
But in the interview with CNN, Bush reiterated she has "a lot of confidence" in Palin.
"She's got a lot of really good common sense, and I think that's very important," Bush said. "She also has executive experience from being a governor and a mayor, and I'm thrilled to have the chance to vote for Sarah Palin on the Republican ticket."
Bush also said she agreed with those who have charged Palin is being treated unfairly because she is a woman.
"I do think there's a little bit of that going on, and I think it's to be expected," she said.
Laura Bush is in New York Wednesday promoting global literacy. She also met with political dissidents from around the world Tuesday, including a Burmese monk.
(CNN) – Rep. Alcee Hastings told an audience of Jewish Democrats Wednesday that they should be wary of Republican VP nominee Sarah Palin because “anybody toting guns and stripping moose don’t care too much about what they do with Jews and blacks.”
“If Sarah Palin isn’t enough of a reason for you to get over whatever your problem is with Barack Obama, then you damn well had better pay attention,” Rep. Alcee Hastings of Florida said at a panel about the shared agenda of Jewish and African-American Democrats Wednesday. Hastings, who is African-American, was explaining what he intended to tell his Jewish constituents about the presidential race. “Anybody toting guns and stripping moose don’t care too much about what they do with Jews and blacks. So, you just think this through,” Hastings added as the room erupted in laughter and applause.
After telling attendees that the most important thing Jewish and African-American Democrats could do to support one another was to get Sen. Barack Obama elected president, Hastings had one more message: “For those of you like me that supported Sen. Hillary Clinton, she lost! Get over it!”
ABOARD THE ELECTION EXPRESS
BATESVILLE, Mississippi (CNN)- Whatever they end up doing in Washington about bailing out the Wall Street financial giants– and whatever John McCain and Barack Obama may say about it if it should come up in the debate Friday night– there’s only one word that concisely sums up what people around here are saying about the government’s rescue mission:
Batesville is a rural town of around 7,000 people, about half an hour’s drive from Oxford, where the debate will be held. Economic conditions here are, to put it kindly, not good. We’re staying in Batesville before heading over to Oxford for the event; in town I ran into Jim Vinson, the chief financial officer of the Tallahatchie Valley Electric Power Association.
CINCINNATI, Ohio (CNN) – Joe Biden called Republican nominee John McCain “dangerously wrong” on foreign policy Wednesday.
The comment came as part of a wide-ranging foreign policy and national security speech Wednesday morning focused on the judgment of the two presidential candidates, billed by the Obama-Biden campaign as the second of two “framing” speeches.
"To me it is absolutely, unequivocally clear that Barack Obama is more prepared to be commander in chief of the United States of America than John McCain,” said Biden.
Biden weaved together sections on Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Russia and Georgia, dissecting the issues, praising Barack Obama’s judgment and foresight, and slamming McCain for “saber-rattling” and “bluster.”
“I'm just as convinced that the policies John would pursue as president would be wrong for America,” said Biden. “I'm just as convinced that nowhere, nowhere more so than our security and our standing in the world, would John McCain dig us into a deeper hole.”
Biden argued, as he and Obama do regularly, that the central front in the war on terrorism is on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, not in Iraq. He said that a timeline for withdrawal from Iraq must be implemented – noting that President George Bush and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki are currently negotiating such a plan – so that troops can be withdrawn and military and financial resources can be focused on Afghanistan.
“On this, John McCain is more than wrong,” said Biden. “He is dangerously wrong.”
(CNN) - A new CNN poll of polls out of Virginia Wednesday shows John McCain with the slimmest of leads in what is a state that has traditionally been considered a safe bet for Republicans.
The latest round of polls could be a clear warning sign for McCain six weeks before Election Day that the Republican presidential nominee still has work to do to lock down certain states that previous GOP nominees had to spend little time or effort doing so.
In the latest poll of polls, the Arizona senator only holds a 1 point lead over Barack Obama (47-46 percent) while 7 percent remain undecided. The poll of polls is an average of three recent surveys of the state.
The Obama campaign has long targeted Virginia as part of their strategy to expand the electoral map, feeling it is virtually impossible for McCain to win the White House if the Illinois senator is victorious in traditionally red states.
Update: The McCain campaign held a conference call with reporters to give their view of recent poll trends Wednesday morning, including polling averages that show tight races in the most crucial battleground states.
Watch for new CNN polls out of Colorado, Montana, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin at 4 p.m.!
NEW YORK (CNN) - John McCain and Sarah Palin’s meeting with Bono was canceled Wednesday due to scheduling reasons, according to the campaign.
Instead, McCain and Palin will chat with Bono by phone this afternoon about the ONE Campaign, the U2 front man’s initiative to raise awareness of AIDS and global poverty.
Unlike McCain and Palin’s other meetings with dignitaries in New York this week, most of which had been open to reporters and photographers, the Bono meeting was listed as closed to the press, at the rock star’s request.