October 31st, 2008
03:46 PM ET
14 years ago

Does an 'October surprise' still lurk?

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/POLITICS/10/31/october.surprise/art.kerryreax.ap.jpg caption="Reporters pressed Kerry about the Osama bin Laden tape. "](CNN) - It's Halloween on Friday, but campaign aides to Barack Obama and John McCain may be spooked for another reason: Events that dominated the news in the dwindling days before the previous two presidential elections may have been game-changers.

Aides to Sen. John Kerry were increasingly confident of victory four days before the 2004 election, believing the Massachusetts senator performed strongly in three debates with President Bush and was buoyed by polls showing a last-minute surge for the Democratic ticket.

But that was before Osama bin Laden weighed in.

On Friday, October 29, the 9/11 mastermind released a videotape to Arab television network al-Jazeera, in which he condemned President Bush's response to the 9/11 attacks and told the American people, "Your security is in your own hands."

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soundoff (338 Responses)
  1. RIF

    Speaking of October Surprises, what ever happened to Palin releasing her medical records? They promised last week that they would release them the first part of this week. Today is Friday.

    October 31, 2008 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  2. stephen

    There are still pending lawsuits regarding Obama's birth certificate. It is now at the US supreme Court, The Hawaiian Supreme Court also Ohio is ruling on it today. Why isnt this being reported???

    October 31, 2008 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  3. Ms. M

    Thank you Nick the Democrat. I feel the same way. This election is VERY important to our country. We need to focus on the best candidate who can lead us, as a country and rebuild/strengthen ties internationally. We cannot allow fear to play into this election. Shame on the news stations for being the number one culprit in stirring up fear. Allow the people to make their own decisions. Stop muddling in the dirt. And stop instigating hate and fear. Again, shame on you CNN.


    October 31, 2008 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  4. Obamacan

    According to latest polls CNN is going to win. Larry King President now. here you go. CNN is fabricating some stories. who cares? not this time not in this election. we Anericans are beeing befooled by these big media houses. we know this and we care about the issues. Vote for Obama. that's it.

    October 31, 2008 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  5. Molly

    You BETCHA!!!! Happy Halloween – we have a big SURPRISE for
    the obama gang – we're the 18 MILLION Hillary supporters – we did NOT unite, support and will NOT vote for obama!
    We have been quietly watching & waiting for our turn and the day is near! (maybe that is why the polls are messed up – did they count us as DEMS????)

    VOTE Smart: McCain/Palin – we can TRUST them

    October 31, 2008 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  6. McCain!

    To Ted (3:50)

    Absolutely not, nor Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton etc...

    October 31, 2008 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  7. Brian

    At this point Bin Laden could pop up on "Dancing with the Stars" with another speech and tango routine and it still wouldn't help McCain. The Repubs starting with Bush on down has done too much damage to this country to sway anyone's opinion at this point. Bush isn't even helping McCain because he's so damaged. America has learned and banded together like never before to correct the mistkaes of the outgoing regime. And CHANGE is coming.

    October 31, 2008 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  8. Brenda C

    CNN stop removing my post I haven't used profanity. I guess you only let a few McCain/Palin voters on so you don't look so biased. To late you already have been. Look at thre front of you page. Obama is everywhere on it. The race isn't over yet CNN. Watch it he'll kick you to the curb before long.

    Come on Bin Laden. We have a lot new people who are registered to vote now and we'll just draft them to war. They can defend Obama.

    October 31, 2008 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  9. w.l. jones

    From every city in America you can see every country in the world among us; Boy! we are unique ..make one hair get light. What a people we American are. Bles America.

    October 31, 2008 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  10. What's next?

    O.K. I think it's safe to say that Obama is gonna win. Let's hope he will surround himself with a balanced group of advisors and we get this country moving again!! God bless and good luck to you President Obama. You certainly will have a full plate in front of you.

    BTW, from what I've seen here and on other blogs this country will have alot of healing to do after next Tues. Let's please remember when it comes down to it that we are all Americans.

    October 31, 2008 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  11. Juarez R. From Willowbrook, Ill

    Inresponse to ken from Dallas. It would seem obvious that the middle east tactics of the administration are designed to help the Republican party in both the National and local Elections. However ifi it's that obvious there will not be a October suprise but an election landslide. Actions like that would and should be impeachable offenses but what the heck, if Bush has not been impeached for the mirad of offenses he has commited during his term of office why should impeach him now in the last 2 months. If there is a suprise it will be that Obama won in spite of the dirty divisive tactics of therrepublican party ,the unconcionable posturing of McClain on a platform that is not his or the party he stands for and the unrelenting and vicious attacks he has recieved from the pedantic pundits on conservative talk radio

    October 31, 2008 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  12. Edwina

    That probably gave the McCain campaign at least one idea going into this weekend. Now, the question becomes: can Karl Rove pull of a Middle Eastern accent? If John McCain were to win - and, his increasingly smug staff sounds as if they are ready to pull off any conspiracy to make it so - the real fear for Americans should be what happens if, through his blitz campaign on Monday, his SNL appearance this weekend and the bitter winter weather in January, McCain's immune system shuts down and he is stricken with illness and, therefore, unable to fulfill the duties of the president of the United States. Who would be comfortable waking up to see Sarah Palin as the President of the United States during a crisis or even during a really good sale on shoes at Blommies?

    October 31, 2008 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  13. Nancy Dindinger

    McCain/Palin – the politics of winning by instilling fear in the minds of the American people.
    Obama/Biden – the politics of winning by instilling hope in the minds of the American people and showing intelligence and strength.

    October 31, 2008 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  14. Clint


    Barack calls himself black, his mother told him he was black and when he looks in the mirror to shave every morning he sees a black face. This is not a bad thing, just a fact. Learn to love the whole man and not modify him to make yourself feel more comfortable.

    And here's the infallible litmus test on his blackness, do you think the numerous skinheads would be threatening him if he were not black.

    Black is cool, just like all the other colors that God made.

    October 31, 2008 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  15. Matt

    Not this time. Too many people are voting for the immutable principles Obama stands for and our numbers are bolstered by those who are simply voting against more Republican debauchery. Nothing will convince us otherwise. NOTHING.

    October 31, 2008 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  16. amy

    Time is running out for the McCain camp and there is nothing in these last 3 days that is going to change the reality that Nov 5th Obama will be our next president. Let the good times roll again. It's time for a new and fresh approach to this nations problems and Obama brings those qualities to the table. IT IS TIME FOR CHANGE.

    October 31, 2008 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  17. Reno

    Oh Ted, you are watching waaaay too much FOX news.

    October 31, 2008 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  18. Mike

    I just realized that I have NEVER heard a McCain supporter say "I am voting for McCain because is going to..."

    It's ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS something completely unfounded about Barack Obama. It's frustrating to see so many voting out of hate and fear. The GOP doesn't have any issues to run on, so they are trying to scare low-information voters into thinking McCain is the "safe" choice.

    I will take hope and unity over fear and divison any day, and I hope my country will do the same on Tuesday.


    October 31, 2008 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  19. Matt

    @ Linda

    Racism is not rational. They see black. They do not see white. It doesn't matter how many times you repeat the half-white line of reasoning. In the past, you were black for having a black person ANYWHERE in your lineage and the truth is, racists are living in the past. We're about to show them that on Tuesday.

    October 31, 2008 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  20. Jay T.

    Ted, has Fox News scared you to that degree? Or, more than likely, are you hoping that your post will frighten me into voting McCain/ Palin? Friend, trust me on this, nobody believes that Obama is going to appoint Jeremiah Wright to any cabinet position. So, instead of using fear, how about defending one of McCain's positions. Or, can you do that?

    October 31, 2008 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  21. Denise Bolin

    Do you want the candidate who takes the high road or the one that takes the low road? Do you want the candidate that has hope for American, or one who incites hate and division? Do you want a VP with 30 yrs. foreign policy experience, or one whose foreign policy experience amounts to seeing Russia from her window (her words)? McCain showed his decision making ability by picking Palin to make the wingnuts happy – and they are – happy and ignorant. Mission accomplished. Now, the rest of us can elect a great President on Tuesday – BARACK OBAMA/JOE BIDEN Vote hope

    October 31, 2008 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  22. Ken from Memphis

    Ken in Dallas – You have got to be kidding me! You really think that Bush is going to war just so McCain will win the election. You are so far off of reality that it is pitiful. And you Dems talk about Republicans using scare tactics. Wow!

    nick, houston – Amen brother! You are right on target!

    October 31, 2008 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  23. bill

    This resembles another scare tactic from the republicans....remember Bush?.....scare tactics. the October surprise could 5 actual votes for McCain....instead of 4..ha...of course that is if they and their spouses vote for their own party...haha~

    October 31, 2008 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  24. Observer

    Conventional wisdom may say an "October Surprise" would benefit McCain, but I beg to differ. I think Americans have been impressed with Obama's cool thinking and serene composure, as contrasted with John McCain's erratic, shoot-from-the-hip reactions to the financial crisis and come away feeling comfortable with him handling tough situations. Obama seemed on an even keel, while McCain veered around like a broken toy car. He "suspended" his campaign, and then he didn't; he wanted to cancel the debate, and then didn't; he said if he were president he would fire the head of the SEC, then found he couldn't. Obama, meanwhile, kept his head and soldiered on.

    October 31, 2008 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  25. rotto rutter ralf

    No. where I check polls McCain has about a 3.7% of winning. Just to get even he needs 46.3% turnaround. where there is a sliver of hope, wait that's to Obamaish, there is a slim possibility.

    October 31, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
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