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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Senator Craig Thomas Dead at Age 74; The Preview: The Republican Debate; Alleged Terror Plot: Details Revealed; The Democratic Debate
Aired June 4, 2007 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: You're watching the only live newscast on cable right now. And we begin the hour with breaking news with potentially serious political implications. Republican Senator Craig Thomas of Wyoming has died. He died this evening at the Bethesda Naval Medical Center where he was being treated for leukemia. Senator Thomas was 74 years old.
CNN's Joe Johns is in Washington with the latest on the Senator and whatever possible implications of his passing.
Joe, what happened?
JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, Craig Thomas, obviously of Wyoming, was as you said 74 years old. He had been battling leukemia for some time.
If I recall correctly, this came up first right around the last election where he was running for re-election. There was never really any doubt that he would win. He certainly did by a wide margin, something like 70 percent.
And he's been battling leukemia for some time, most recently over at Bethesda Naval Medical Center here in the Washington area. And the announcement comes tonight that he has died.
Of course, there are some political implications there. Of course the first thing that will happen here is condolences to his family.
He was known on Capitol Hill as a conservative, someone who pretty much stayed out of the food fights on Capitol Hill between the parties, one of those people who pushed those Western issues that are so popular obviously were you get on the other side of the Mississippi.
He's survived by his wife, Susan; his sons, Patrick and Greg; His daughter, Alexei.
His office did put out a statement, according to the "A.P.," at this difficult time, all we can do is give him much love and support as possible.
Now, obviously, there's a very close divide between Democrats and Republicans in the United States Senate right now. This talk of politics certainly will come in the days going forward.
The 49 Democrats, 48 Republicans, and a couple of Independents. As we understand it, the governor of Wyoming will select a successor. That governor is a Democrat. However, according to what we're told, the Republican Party will choose a list of names for that Democratic governor to decide on.
So this is one of those issues that has a political track also a very personal track in that the 74-year-old Senator who's been there for now in his third term is just deceased -- Anderson.
COOPER: I understand the Republican Party in Wyoming will choose three different candidates for the governor to choose from, all of course Republicans.
We are told according to the "Associated Press" the Senator was surrounded by his family at the hospital. His children and his wife, all were present at the hospital tonight.
We'll have more on this throughout the hour as any new details are known.
Tomorrow night, Republican presidential candidates will sit down for a debate at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire. Wolf Blitzer moderates. I'll be there as well, along with the best political team on television.
For the Republicans, the big issues are expected to be the Iraq war, of course, immigration and social issues. The big questions, can any of the lesser-known candidates break out? And what about Fred? Fred Thompson, of course.
Here's CNN's John King.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The second tier means smaller crowds.
MIKE HUCKABEE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: First Of all, the war is not something we can just simply walk away from and say OK, we're finished.
KING: But former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee is banking on New Hampshire rewarding a guy doing it the old-fashioned way.
Wishful thinking, perhaps, but Huckabee says his one handshake at a time approach will ultimately win more votes than the Hollywood script of former Senator Fred Thompson.
HUCKABEE: What we might call the "Mighty Mouse" candidacy. You know, here I come to save the day. And in the end, voters are not necessarily looking for "Mighty Mouse" to fly in. They're looking for somebody who stands the ground and goes the distance.
KING (on camera): Senator Thompson won't be here when 10 Republicans share this stage Tuesday night. The basic framework of their race, and stakes of their debate, not unlike the early Democratic lineup.
(voice-over): Like Clinton, Obama and Edwards on the left, Giuliani, McCain and Romney are the early leaders on the right.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The well funded, well known candidates and a number of other people who are trying to rise to that top level.
KING: But the issues to debate is very different for Republicans.
President Bush remains relatively popular with core GOP voters. So as Romney Adviser Tom Rath puts it, the 2008 candidates need to show they would be different, but without being too critical.
TOM RATH, ROMNEY ADVISER: I think the biggest problem this field is having, everybody in the field is deciding how you -- how much latitude you have in describing your vision of where the country will be four years from now or eight years from now if you're the president.
We have a Republican president who is still quite popular in the base here.
KING: University of New Hampshire Polling Director Andrew Smith believes the longer shots have the most at stake. And for them, the challenge is as much paying the bills as it is winning votes.
ANDREW SMITH, U.N.H. POLLING DIRECTOR: They have to be able to demonstrate to people who are willing to give them money that they are serious candidates and that they'll be credible candidates at the end of the campaign trail.
KING: Senator Thompson is due to join the race full-time next month. This weekend's speech in Virginia, part of his warm-ups.
FRED THOMPSON (R), FORMER U.S. SENATOR: America is calling for us to provide them again. My friends, we must answer that call.
KING: New Hampshire Republican Chairman Fergus Cullen says Senator Thompson is more than welcome, but plays down the idea that GOP voters don't like their choices so far.
FERGUS CULLEN, NEW HAMPSHIRE GOP CHAIRMAN: You know, I bet at this time in 1979, Republicans were gathering, saying you know this Ronald Reagan fellow, he's been around the track before, I think his time has passed.
KING (on camera): Thompson advisers dismissed Governor Huckabee's "Mighty Mouse" label as cute. And looking to be part of the political buzz even though he's not here to be part of the debate, the Thompson camp made it known that presidential Nephew George P. Bush is supporting Senator Thompson and distributing an e-mail helping his campaign raise money.
John King, CNN, Manchester, New Hampshire.
COOPER: Well, as we mentioned, of course, the Republican debate begins at 7:00 p.m., Eastern, here on CNN tomorrow night. After that, join us for some raw politics, our post debate analysis is from 9:00 to midnight.
Now to the latest on the alleged terror plot targeting New York's John F. Kennedy Airport. Four men have been charged. One is in custody in Brooklyn, two are being held in Trinidad.
Today their attorney said they are going to fight extradition.
The fourth man is still at large.
The FBI says the men planned to blow up buildings, fuel supply tanks and the pipelines that carry fuel to JFK, which is one of America's busiest airports.
The alleged plot was announced Saturday and tonight CNN's Jeanne Meserve has new details.
JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice over): A police helicopter with a high-tech camera today checks the pipeline and tank farm that supply fuel to planes at JFK Airport.
VOICE OF DET. NEIL BLAINEY, NEW YORK POLICE: We go out here every day. We are checking everything imaginable and unimaginable.
MESERVE: But authorities intensified their focus after uncovering the alleged plot to destroy them.
One of the purported terrorists was captured on this surveillance tape. He and three others allegedly hoped a chain reaction of explosions would engulf the airport and the community around it.
ROSLYNN MAUSKOPF, U.S. ATTORNEY, BROOKLYN: The devastation that would be caused had this plot succeed is just unthinkable.
MESERVE: Investigators say the plotters were sophisticated enough to use Google Earth to pinpoint attack locations and get away routes.
But some experts doubt their plot could have succeeded. A pipeline fire can be dramatic, but is usually short-lived because valves can cut off the fuel supply.
The pipeline to JFK is exposed at a few points, raising questions about its security, though most of it is inaccessible, underground or underwater.
Experts say it would take several pounds of plastic explosives to penetrate a tank seal walls and the tanks at JFK are a considerable distance from the terminal.
And some say it would be nearly impossible to create a chain reaction in the pipes that bring fuel to the gates at JFK.
JOHN GOGLIA, FORMER MEMBER, NTSB: To have that happen would be extremely, extremely unlikely.
MESERVE: Al Qaeda has mentioned pipelines specifically as potential terror targets. About half a million miles of oil and gas pipelines crisscross the country, but the head of the transportation security administration says they are, in his words, well protected by private industry and state and local authorities and are not among the country's biggest worries.
But some say the TSA underestimates the threat.
MICHAEL GREENBERGER, CENTER FOR HEALTH AND HOMELAND SECURITY: Not enough is being done. It's a Pitemkin (ph) village of the appearance of security and there is not real security being afforded the American people.
MESERVE: Some law enforcement officials say this group did not have the expertise to carry out their purported mission, but they have highlighted the question, are the nation's pipelines safe or not?
Jeanne Meserve, CNN, Washington.
COOPER: Well it is clear to see why Kennedy Airport might be a terror target. Here's the raw data.
Kennedy has a storage capacity of 32 million gallons of aviation fuel. The fuel is kept in more than 100 tanks. You saw some of them. It's channeled through 50 miles of mostly underground pipes. In 2005 some 40 million passengers arrived and departed from JFK.
It's anyone's guess how many of those travelers were like Andrew Speaker, infected with possibly contagious diseases while flying. Speaker, of course, set off a global scare when he traveled overseas after being diagnosed with an extremely dangerous form tuberculosis.
He's now receiving treatment in Denver.
Today, hospital officials said that two of his sputum tests have come back negative, with the results of a third test pending. Speaker's family spoke out again.
Here's CNN's David Mattingly.
DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He is still considered contagious, but at the low end of the scale.
Tuberculosis patient Andrew Speaker is also officially detained. But the Denver hospital where he is confined could decide to allow him to walk outside with supervision.
Speaker's condition is essentially unchanged since he flew back from Europe 11 days ago after being diagnosed with extensively drug- resistant TB, a potentially deadly disease.
On ABC's "Good Morning America" Monday, Speaker's parents seemed offended when they said a CDC official suggested their son's only option to avoid quarantine in Rome was to return to the U.S. on a costly private jet. A one-way ride, they said they couldn't afford.
CHERYL SPEAKER, MOTHER OF TB PATIENT: We don't have $140,000. And he said to us on the telephone...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He said so?
C. SPEAKER: I'm sorry, so.
TED SPEAKER, FATHER OF TB PATIENT: That's exactly what he said. And when he said that, I knew that his ethics were down in the dumps.
MATTINGLY: The CDC declined to comment.
Speaker's parents also claimed they were not told there was a change in their son's health status, after they say, a county health official told him, he was not contagious.
In the ABC interview, Ted Speaker claimed he taped that conversation which included this exchange.
T. SPEAKER: No doubt, you are not contagious. Then he said, of course, I prefer you not to travel. I prefer you to stay here.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because?
C. SPEAKER: You asked.
T. SPEAKER: He never gave a reason why. I said well, are you just saying this to cover yourself? And he said yes. Laughed a little bit. It was a friendly little circle. And he said yes, I'm saying that to cover myself.
MATTINGLY: The family has not released the tape.
A spokesman for the county health department said if such a recording was made, it was without the department's consent.
Andrew speaker left for his wedding in Greece and never got the health department's letter that read, "it is imperative that you are aware you are traveling against medical advice."
(on camera): For now, Speaker isn't traveling anywhere. He will remain at the Denver hospital where he's already receiving treatment with antibiotics.
Depending on test results, he could occasionally be allowed to get some fresh air on the grounds of the hospital, provided that he's escorted and steers clear of other people.
David Mattingly, CNN, Atlanta.
COOPER: Just ahead on 360, some Monday evening quarterbacking, the highlights and low points of last night's Democratic debate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER (voice-over): At the Democrats debate, Iraq front and center.
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is George Bush's war.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have not been told the truth about this war.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This policy in Iraq has failed.
COOPER: Ganging up on President Bush and throwing punches at each other.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The fact is, is that I opposed this war from the start. So you're about four-and-a- half years late on leadership on this issue.
COOPER: Also, common ground in a crowded field.
CLINTON: Barry Goldwater once said you don't have to be straight to shoot straight and I think he was right.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you think it's time to get rid of the don't ask, don't tell policy in the U.S. military, raise your hands.
COOPER: Gays in the military. Could 2003 be a turning point? Next on 360.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN EDWARDS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There are differences between us. And I think Democratic voters deserve to know the differences between us. I think there is a difference between making very clear when the crucial moment comes on Congress ending this war, what your position is. And standing quiet.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: John Edwards criticizing Senators Clinton and Obama at last night's debate. Tonight, we'll be taking a closer look at what the Democrats said, how it squares with the facts, and crucially, what the voters want to hear from their next president, whoever that turns out to be.
We're going to begin tonight with a section from last night's "On the War." In follow up, I talk with Arianna Huffington and Mike Murphy. Take a look.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The fact of the matter is is that we live in a more dangerous world, not a less dangerous world, partly as a consequence of this president's actions. Primarily because of this war in Iraq, a war that I think should have never been authorized or waged.
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have lived with the aftermath of 9/11, and I have seen firsthand the terrible damage that can be inflicted on our country by a small band of terrorists who are intent upon foisting their way of life and using suicide bombers and suicidal people to carry out their agenda. And I believe we are safer than we were. We are not yet safe enough.
JOHN EDWARDS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Others on this stage -- Chris Dodd spoke out very loudly and clearly -- but I want to finish this. Others did not. Others were quiet. They went quietly to the floor of the Senate, cast the right vote, but there is a difference between leadership and legislation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You want to name names?
EDWARDS: No, I think it's obvious who I'm talking about.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is to me, but it might not be to some of the viewers out...
EDWARDS: Well Senator Clinton and Senator Obama.
OBAMA: I think it is important to lead. And I think, John, the fact is is that I opposed this war from the start. So you're about four-and-a-half years late on leadership on this issue.
And you know, I think it's important not to play politics on something that is as critical and as difficult as this.
CLINTON: This is George Bush's war. He is responsible for this war. He started the war. He mismanaged the war. He escalated the war. And he refuses to end the war. The differences among us are minor. The differences between us and the Republicans are major.
SEN. MIKE GRAVEL (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Four of these people here will say that it's George Bush's war. It was facilitated by the Democrats. They brought the resolution up, one of them authored, co-authored it here -- standing here, and so it's -- sure, it's George Bush's war, but it's a Democrats' war also.
SEN. DENNIS KUCINICH (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You want to -- you want to end it, bring them home, stop the funding. And this is where Senator Clinton says, well, this is George Bush's war. Oh, no. That's -- there's a teachable moment here. And the teachable moment is that this war belongs to the Democratic Party because the Democrats were put in charge by the people in the last election.
SEN. JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have 50 votes in the United States Senate. We have less of a majority in the House than any time in other than the last eight years.
Ladies and gentlemen, you're going to end this war when you elect a Democratic president. You need 67 votes to end this war. I love these guys who tell you they're going to stop the war. Let me tell you straight up. The truth, the truth of the matter is the only one that's emboldened the enemy has been George Bush by his policies, not us funding the war.
SEN. CHRIS DODD (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This policy in Iraq has failed. It is a civil war in that country. Everyone who's looked at this issue has drawn the conclusion that there is no military solution to it. It seems to me then it's incumbent upon us, given the fact that we are less safe, less secure, more vulnerable, weaker today -- not stronger as a result of this policy, that we ought to try to bring it to a close.
SEN. BILL RICHARDSON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There is a fundamental difference between my position and the position of my good friends here.
I believe that it's a civil war. I believe that there is sectarian conflict already. There is enormous turmoil. Seven Americans died today.
This is what I would do. I would have a resolution under Article I to deauthorize the war.
CLINTON: You know, that was a sincere vote based on my assessment that sending inspectors back into Iraq to determine once and for all whether Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and using coercive diplomacy was not an unreasonable act. What I did not count on and what none of us did who voted to give the president authority is that he had no intention to allow the inspectors to finish their job.
EDWARDS: I think I had the information I needed. I don't think that was the question. I think once difference we do have is I think I was wrong. I should never have voted for this war.
COOPER: Joining me now, Republican Strategist Mike Murphy and Arianna Huffington of "The Huffington Post."
Arianna, were you surprised that Senator Clinton said that President Bush had made America safer since 9/11?
ARIANNA HUFFINGTON, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, "HUFFINGTONPOST.COM": I was very surprised. And in fact, the Obama campaign today put out a press release saying that we are not safer and -- than we were before 9/11.
Clearly, Obama felt that he should have said that last night. Instead, the campaign put out a press release today with the backing from former CIA officials, military men, status. You know, a lot of evidence to show that we are not safer than we were before September 11, including, of course, the huge recruitment of additional terrorists because of our invasion of Iraq and a huge spread of anti- American feeling and the fact that billions of dollars are not available to us to secure the homeland.
COOPER: Mike, Senator Clinton kept pointing out that there's not much difference on Iraq between these candidates. John Edwards tried to differentiate his position or at least his ability to lead on Iraq from Senators Clinton and Obama. Was he successful at all?
MIKE MURPHY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, I don't think she was ultimately. I mean, she's trying to make sure the Iraq war doesn't become a wedge issue within the Democratic primaries so the candidates on the left can't attack her for having a pretty supportive position of the president, which by the way, I applaud her for it. And I think she's -- she and Biden are the two adults on foreign policy in the race on the Democratic side.
So she wants to blur that over and point all the anger at Bush and kind of cover up the fact that she has still not said she was wrong about her vote. And I -- I applaud her for it, but she's going to pay a political price in the Democratic primary.
COOPER: Why -- why do you say -- I mean, Obama's position is pretty close to Senator Clinton's. Why is he not an adult in your opinion?
MURPHY: Well, he doesn't have the bad vote. She's got a vote she's defending and she'll never say the words I was wrong or I was sorry. And again, I applaud her for it because I don't think she thinks she was wrong about voting for it. I mean, she's now said if she was back at that point in time, she wouldn't have.
But she -- she doesn't have the purest loony left position that plays in that primary.
And Edwards, who's trying to break through, is coming at her from the left. Obama is not really an attack politician. He's more passive about it. Edwards is trying to make something happen and she's trying to gloss over that nuance to make the issue go away.
But this is one very early debate in a campaign that in my view hasn't really at the voter level begun yet. Edwards is going to have paid spots so he can campaign. He can push this issue all the way. And she will again in the future be where she was last night, a bit on the defensive, trying to explain this away in the Democratic primary.
COOPER: I know the clock is ticking...
HUFFINGTON: It is amazing to me...
COOPER: Go ahead.
HUFFINGTON: To hear Mike call it a loony left position.
MURPHY: I knew that would get you going.
HUFFINGTON: To want to bring troops home. When in fact it is a position supported by among others Senator Chuck Hagel and many Republicans who are against the surge that the administration has proposed.
COOPER: All right. We're going to leave it there. We're going to talk to you both in a moment.
You can hold your fire on that one, Mike.
Arianna Huffington, Mike Murphy, we'll be joined by you a little bit later on.
Up next, we're going to continue to hit the highpoints from last night's Democratic debate.
Next up, immigration reform, what the candidates had to say about that and whether or not it amounts, as critics say, to amnesty for people who have broken the law. Find out what you think.
COOPER: Whether you call it immigration reform or amnesty, it's a hot button issue that is bound to be on the table at tomorrow night's Republican presidential debate.
Last night, the Democrats took a stab at it. Take a look.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We all love this phrase, start talking truth to power -- 14 million illegals. Now you tell me how many buses, carloads, planes, you're going to go out and round up all these people, spend hundreds of millions and billions of dollars to do it for the whole world watching while we send these folks back rather than -- rather than get a background check on all of them, take out the criminals, get them back and provide for a means by which we allowed earned citizenship over the next decade or so.
Folks, being commander in chief requires you to occasionally be practical.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I want you to raise your hand if you believe English should be the official language of the United States.
The only hand I see is Senator Gravel.
GRAVEL: We speak English. That doesn't mean we can't encourage other languages. I speak French and English. And people speak Spanish and English. But the official language of the United States of America is English.
OBAMA: Can I just make a point though? I have to say that that kind of question. All right, hold on. This is the kind of question that is designed precisely to divide us.
You know, you're right, everybody...
OBAMA: Everybody is going to learn to speak English if they live in this country. The issue is not whether or not future generations of immigrants are going to learn English. The question is how can we come up with both a legal, sensible immigration policy.
And when we get distracted by those kinds of questions, I think we do is a disservice to the American people.
CLINTON: The problem is that if it becomes official instead of recognized as national, which indeed it is, it is our national language. If it becomes official, that means in a place like New York City you can't print ballots in any other language. That means you can't have government pay for translators in hospitals, so when somebody comes in with some sort of emergency, there's nobody there to help translate what their problem is for the doctors.
COOPER: Let's bring back Arianna Huffington and Mike Murphy to weigh in on some of this immigration question.
Mike, do you think the Democrats' reaction against making English the official language versus the national language could hurt them? How so?
MURPHY: Yes, I do. I think that the whole Democratic Party -- or the Democratic presidential candidates are lurching to the left in this primary. They're throwing out Mrs. Clinton's husband's old (UNINTELLIGIBLE) DLC playbook for these kind of issues and it's going to come back to hurt them.
But they're in such a hurry for kind of political correctness and identity politics that they think is bad primary politics, I guess, to be on the other side of this issue. In a general election of real swing voters, to win, they need to win some states that Al Gore and Kerry lost. And they're not going to do it with these kind of policies.
I mean, I'm one of those Republicans that is probably a little out of touch with the base. I like this -- this bill. I'm pretty much a liberal on immigration. I think it's a great country. We ought to have immigrants and I'm not worried about a path to citizenship.
But we got to turn up the melting pot. And speaking English, making English the official language is part of that. It's the other half of the deal.
COOPER: Arianna, there's a lot of anger among Republicans and conservatives about the immigration issue. Is there -- and some say it's going to bring them out to vote, though it really didn't seem to in the last election. Is there the same kind of passion for the issue on the Democrat side?
HUFFINGTON: There is passion. Yes. But I think that it's going to be a much more divisive and much more difficult issue for the Republicans, especially now that the president has actually attacked those who are opposing his bill as unpatriotic which has infuriated the base.
But, you know, I really don't agree with Mike that this is going to be an issue that is going to haunt Democrats during the general election. I think Mike is really fighting the last election. Things have changed a lot in this country. And the idea that this issue or indeed a strong position of bringing the troops home, a left wing position, is simply a very obsolete way of looking at American politics.
MURPHY: No. We're going to all go to school on that next year when the re-election begins with two nominees from each party. But I can tell you, the Democrats win when they go to the center and when they're running national TV debates where everybody is pledging gays in the military, tax and spend, big national government post office health care system, and being against -- that's a clip you're going to see again, being against English as the official language at a time when immigration is a big issue. It's a path to defeat.
COOPER: We got to leave it there.
HUFFINGTON: I think it's...
COOPER: Arianna, we'll have you join in on the next -- the next break.
COOPER: Just ahead, same debate. Again, focusing on the Democratic debate last night, the highlights of it in case you missed it, last night's debate. Another issue, however, take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER (voice-over): Common ground in a crowded field. CLINTON: Barry Goldwater once said you don't have to be straight to shoot straight. And I think he was right.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you think it's time to bet rid of the don't ask, don't tell policy in the U.S. military, raise your hand.
COOPER: Gays in the military. Could 2003 be a turning point?
Also taking on Iran.
CLINTON: We need a process of engagement.
EDWARDS: We should put two options on the table.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would do away with the policy of regime change.
COOPER: Slogans are easy, details harder. Which candidate came armed with the most? Find out next on 360.
COOPER (on camera): There was agreement across the board last night. All nine Democrats calling for a repeal of don't ask, don't tell, the policy that bars gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military.
Senator Hillary Clinton, whose husband as president instituted the policy was the first to respond to the question from Tom Fahey of the New Hampshire union leader.
TOM FAHEY, NEW HAMPSHIRE UNION LEADER: Was President Clinton's policy of don't ask, don't tell a mistake?
CLINTON: It was a transition policy and it was an effort to try to deal with the reality that probably since the very beginning of our nation, we've had gays serving in our military with distinction and honor on behalf of our country as we do today.
I just want to end by saying, Barry Goldwater once said you don't have to be straight to shoot straight and I think he was right.
BIDEN: Peter Pace is flat wrong. I've been to Afghanistan, I've been to Iraq seven times, I've been in the Balkans, I've been in these foxholes with these kids, literally in bunkers with them. Let me tell you something, nobody asked anybody else whether they're gay in those holes, those foxholes, number one.
Number two, our allies, the British, the French, all our major allies, gays openly serve. I don't know the last time an American soldier said to a backup from a Brit, hey, by the way, let me check, are you gay? you straight?
RICHARDSON: I would go rid of don't ask, don't tell. I voted against it as a Congressman.
A president has to show leadership and this country should not be asking a person who is giving up their life for this country in the military, should not...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, governor.
RICHARDSON: ... should not giving a lecture on sexual orientation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The governor of New Hampshire is here with us tonight. He just signed legislation into law in this -- in this state allowing civil unions. There are...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. Let's try to keep the applause down. The question is this, is it time to move beyond that and let gays and lesbians get married?
EDWARDS: Well, first of all, I think what the governor did and what New Hampshire's done is a great example for the rest of the country. Not only civil unions, but all the partnership benefits including Senator Clinton talked about getting rid of this don't ask, don't tell policy.
I don't think the federal government has a role in telling either states or religious institutions, churches, what marriages they can bless and can't bless. I think the state of New Hampshire ought to be able to make that decision for itself like every other state in the country. I think every church ought to be able to make that decision for itself. And I think it's very important that we stand up against intolerance and against discrimination.
COOPER: Joining us again, Mike Murphy and Arianna Huffington.
Arianna, in the last second you were saying things have changed. These aren't as big wedge issues anymore. Do you think gays in the military -- do the Democrats really want that front and center?
HUFFINGTON: You know, it's not going to be front and center, Anderson, unless Democrats really...
COOPER: Unless the Republicans try to make it front and center.
HUFFINGTON: But the Republicans cannot make it front and center unless the Democrats allow them to make it front and center.
That's what Democrats are beginning to realize, that they've been enabling Republicans to label them as being soft on terrorism or being soft on moral values. And now, as we saw, even today, with the state forum, Democrats are taking the initiative. They are reframing what it means to be a religious person, that it has to be about poverty fighting rather than just being good, in quotes, about abortion or gay rights.
So these kind of bald reframing of issues is going to be the best thing the Democrats can do as opposed to what they did in 2000, 2002 and 2004, which was triangulating, voting for something before they voted against it, and giving the sense to the American people that they not leaders there, but they are just followers who are just obsessing over opinion polls and focus groups.
COOPER: Mike, when you're not -- when you're in the rough and tumble, though, of -- you know, when you only have a couple of months and those attack ads are running, it's hard not to respond.
MURPHY: Well, yes. I mean, I don't agree with Arianna at all. They can play semantic word games and reframe and have new paradigms and all this. You know, the voters say, where's the beef? Where are the issues? Where are the differences? That's why we have elections, to settle this stuff.
And so they're lurching to the left. Again, in great irony, because Bill Clinton put them in the center where they used to win and now they're way out into left field because they're cocky. And we're going to have a big election on all these issues. And this will be one of them. And people get to vote and choose.
But I think next year -- if they keep moving liberal on the agenda the way they're doing, they're going to -- they're going to pay a price for it in the swing states. I mean, their big problem is how do they grow, how do they get more votes than they used to? And going to the left and becoming more narrow ideologically isn't the answer. But that's clearly what they did last night.
HUFFINGTON: ... is not moving to the left and becoming more ideological. It's first of all, making security the key issue of the next election and proving, which they can do without any doubt, to the American people that this president, this administration has made us less secure.
MURPHY: Yes, but the problem is...
HUFFINGTON: They can do that.
MURPHY: ... it has to be more than a negative referendum.
HUFFINGTON: But it's not a negative referendum because they can say...
(CROSSTALK) HUFFINGTON: ... we bring our troops home and we spend the money making the homeland secure and actually using our intelligence forces and our police work to track down real terrorists, as opposed to fighting in the middle of a city war.
MURPHY: Again, I think the problem...
COOPER: Got to leave it there. Just a final thought, Mike, before we go to break.
MURPHY: Just the Democrats are trying to re-fight the last Congressional election. The election a year and a half from now will be about the future and new things an these ideological issues are very important.
COOPER: More to come from both of you.
Potential nuclear problem for the next president. Iran and how Democratic candidates are dealing with that issue, next on 360.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: By the time all these guys talk, 50,000 more people are going to be dead. They're going to be dead. And I tell you, I guarantee you, we have the capacity by setting up a no-fly zone to shut down the Janjaweed. That's our moral authority. Exercise it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Senator Joe Biden on the genocide in Darfur from last night.
The candidates weighing in other pressing foreign policy issues as well. Each offering their prescription for trying to rein in Iran and its nuclear ambitions. Here's a sample.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: Well, I am very concerned about Iran and I believe that we should have been using diplomacy for a number of years now.
We've had an administration that doesn't believe in diplomacy. You know, they have -- every so often Condi Rice go around the world and show up somewhere and make a speech. And occasionally they even send Dick Cheney and that's hardly diplomatic in my view, so from what I would say...
EDWARDS: We don't have economic leverage over the Iranians, but the Europeans do, the European banking system does. We should put two options on the table. One carrot, we'll make the nuclear fuel available to you, the international community, but we'll control it, you can't weaponize it.
Second, we're going to put a clear set of economic incentives on the table. And Iranian people need to hear this. It needs to be not behind closed doors -- just 10 more seconds -- and then the alternative, the stick, is if they don't do that, there are going to be serious economic sanctions.
We need to drive a wedge between the Iranian people and this radical leader.
BIDEN: Well, first of all, I would do away with the policy of regime change. What we're saying to everybody in Iran is look, by the way, give up the one thing that keeps us from attacking you and after that, we're going to attack you. We're going to take you down. It's a bizarre notion, number one.
Number two, understand how weak Iran is. They are not a year away or two years away. They are a decade away from being able to weaponize what -- exactly what the question was. If they put a nuclear weapon on top of a missile that can strike. They're far away from that.
Number three. In fact, we're going to -- we have to understand how weak that government is. They import almost all of their refined oil. By 2014, they're going to be importing their crude oil. There's much better ways if we had to get to the point of bringing real sanctions of doing economic sanction on them forcefully that way. But at the end of the day, if they posed the missile, stuck it on a pad, I would take it out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Joining me again is Republican Strategist Mike Murphy and Arianna Huffington of the "Huffingtonpost.com."
Arianna, are the Republicans going to be able to paint this group of Democrats or whoever the Democratic nominee is as weak on defense or weak on terror?
HUFFINGTON: No, really. Only Dennis Kucinich took the retaliation phase of war off the table. So all the other Democrats on the stage basically were very reasonable on Iran.
I think Hillary had one of her best answers with the Dick Cheney line, which has been making great inroads on YouTube.
And the one point they didn't make which would have even more strengthened their position is that Iran is infinitely stronger today because we invaded Iraq and because of their power with the Shiites there.
COOPER: Mike, the Republicans, Giuliani in particular, are already saying that Democrats are divided or weak on defense and don't know how to wage a war on terror.
MURPHY: Well, historically, the Democrats have been the party that under fund defense, that rely on diplomacy to the point of when diplomacy fails well, more diplomacy. So they have a long history of weakness. How this crowd...
COOPER: Although I think it was Al Gore who wanted a larger military long before President Bush...
MURPHY: That -- that's true.
COOPER: ... ever got to talking about that.
MURPHY: But he was more of an outlier, I think if you look at the history of the Democrats going back to the '60s. The -- I'll give a little credit here, though actually to a Democrat. Camera may break, but I'll do it anyway.
I thought Edwards, a guy I don't have a lot of respect for, gave a very lucid answer on Iran. I would like to know who wrote it for him, but it was very good. the carrot and the stick approach and it was pretty close to what the Bush people are now talking about as they begin to engage Iran.
Though -- whether or not -- what's going to happen here is the campaign is going to go beyond the phony word point of view where you do like what Hillary did, when she just dropped the phrase diplomacy a lot, because it sounds good and it doesn't seem to imply casualties.
The Democrats like to campaign where they talk about being strong, but never fighting, never having wars, criticizing wars that exist.
And then the game will elevate a little bit to what concrete policies are going forward. What happens if you do pull most of the troops out of Iraq? What happens next?
And as the campaign goes on, I think they will be forced to get beyond the bromides and into some specifics and then we'll see what they really mean. Because words are easy in foreign affairs, action is hard.
COOPER: We're going to have final thought...
HUFFINGTON: But you know, Mike...
COOPER: Sorry, we'll -- sorry, we'll have final thoughts from Arianna and from Mike just coming up.
Ahead, the Republican debate tomorrow night. We'll talk about that a little bit when we come back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
COOPER: Looking ahead now to tomorrow night's Republican debate, Mike Murphy and Arianna Huffington will be with us, lending their thoughts. Some quick predictions right now.
Arianna, what -- probably the biggest thing you're going to be looking out for tomorrow night?
HUFFINGTON: Well, I'm actually going to be looking for what John McCain is going to do. He's at an interesting turning point at the moment. You know, the base is against him on immigration. They're basically saying, well, we knew we couldn't trust him really. So all that he has sacrificed in terms of his independence, his integrity, to support Bush on so many issues, including the war, may come for naught tomorrow night and going forward as the base is turning on him on immigration.
COOPER: Mike Murphy, what are you looking for tomorrow night?
MURPHY: Yes. I think -- I think we're going to have a spirited debate. I think you're going to see Tancredo, who is trying to be the single issue immigration candidate kind of get back into that business.
I think you're going to see McCain on the offense because he knows he's in a position where maybe not a lot of the primary voters agree with him, but he's pushing -- he's pretty close to reality. I mean, I'm sympathetic to his position. If you're against amnesty, are you for rounding people up and send them home? I think you'll see a lot of people trying to beat up on Mitt Romney because he's had some success. And I think he's in a kind of a complicated position on the immigration issue. McCain will try to exploit that, make a character issue out of it. And you'll see some of the other people throw some pretty sharp elbows to get into the race.
MURPHY: To break through from the second tier.
COOPER: Sharpest elbows between whom and whom?
ARIANNA: Well, of course again, the frontrunners. Giuliani, who is slipping but is still in the lead; and against Romney and -- and against Giuliani and McCain.
I sincerely hope that we're not going to have any of those questions tomorrow about how many of you don't believe in evolution or how many of you don't believe in gravity because it's -- because really a dark moment for the Republican Party. Let's hope we won't have any of those tomorrow night.
MURPHY: I think one thing we will have is the big shadow of Fred Thompson out there kind of haunting the whole thing as his potential candidacy looms over the...
COOPER: Maybe he'll show up in the audience and ask some questions.
Mike Murphy, Arianna Huffington, good to have you on. We'll see you tomorrow night.
Just ahead on 360, after eight years in prison, Jack Kevorkian, the guy known as Dr. Death, says he has no regrets, but he's also made a new promise. We'll have that.
Plus, that woman with a French hotel name, whose name I will not say, is just beginning her time behind bars. Her first day in jail. Next, on 360.
COOPER: Erica Hill joins us with a 360 bulletin -- Erica.
ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, the man known as Dr. Death said if he had the chance, he would do it all over again. But Jack Kevorkian told CNN's Larry King he'll keep his promise not to help people who want to die. He says he will not help end their lives. Kevorkian walked out of prison on Friday after spending eight years behind bars for one of about 130 assisted suicides. You can catch all of Larry's interview with Kevorkian on "LARRY KING LIVE." It's coming up at the top of the hour.
And one out of jail, another just in, though you can't really compare the two. Paris Hilton now occupying a cell for at least the next three weeks. The hotel heiress turned herself in last night to serve time for violating probation on a reckless driving charge. She could serve as little as 23 days of her 45-day sentence as long as she behaves herself while in custody.
And the financial markets starting the week off on a positive note. Both the Dow and the S&P 500 closing at record highs, which was especially good news for investors. The gains in the American market helped to offset an 8 percent plunge early in the die by China's shanghai composite index.
And in New Orleans, a city that -- let's be realistic -- knows how to party, not just at Mardi Gras, but all year round, having a special message for someone else who really likes to party, especially on his big 4-0 birthday, Anderson Cooper. Yes. That's how they party in the studio in New York. But the boys in New Orleans, they know how to do some partying too and they have a special message for you, some of the law enforcement folks down there.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, Anderson, they wanted us to sing this, but the voices that we have couldn't carry a tune in a bucket. We figure we'd destroy your ratings and it'd knock you off the air. So I guess with these guys we'll just give him a big happy (UNINTELLIGIBLE), right? Happy birthday, Anderson Cooper, from all your guys down at Fort Apache. Les de le bonton roulette (ph).
COOPER: Wow. That was cool.
HILL: There you go. Let the good times roll. I just read about that in your book about Fort Apache.
COOPER: That's right. Yes, Chief Anthony Canatello and the guys down there. Wow. That's very nice. Thank you very much. I appreciate that.
HILL: So there you go, happy 40th birthday. It was yesterday, but we just keep celebrating because...
COOPER: Yes, it seems to...
HILL: Why should you stop?
COOPER: It just keeps going on and on.
HILL: It does.
COOPER: Yes. We've had my mom and Kelly Ripa and now -- now the men in blue in New Orleans. Thank you.
HILL: There you go.
COOPER: It's very sweet of you. Thank you very much, Erica.
HILL: Have a great birthday.
HILL: I'll see you tomorrow.
COOPER: Thanks very much, everyone.
Don't miss the day's headlines with the 360 daily podcast. Woosh, zoom -- you don't need an iPod, you can watch it on your computer at CNN.com/AC360podcast or hey, just to the iTunes store. It's a top download, I'm told.
A reminder, be sure to catch "AMERICAN MORNING" for the most news in the morning. That's tomorrow, beginning at 6:00 a.m., Eastern.
Tomorrow night, 7:00 p.m., Eastern, of course the Republican debate followed by our "Raw Politics" post debate show from 9:00 to midnight. That's right. Three chock full hours. That's right.
For our international viewers, "CNN TODAY" is coming up next.
Here in America, "LARRY KING" is coming up.
I'll see you from New Hampshire tomorrow night.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On second thought, we decided why should you be any better than us. We're going to go ahead and ruin your ratings.
You all ready, guys? Let's try it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If that don't destroy your ratings, nothing will.
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