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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Obama Adviser Resigns Over Comments Made to BBC; Do-over Dilemma for Florida and Michigan; A Flash of Temper from John McCain; Up Close with Cindy McCain
Aired March 7, 2008 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: Good evening to you. And on the eve of the next Democratic battle, both candidates are wrangling for votes in Wyoming and taking some serious swings at each other. And Barack Obama is getting some major heat and a dustup ignited by one of his own advisers; make that a former adviser - she resigned today. Coming up, a look at all the fireworks.
We're also going to have the very latest on the delegate in Michigan and in Florida. The pressure is on to hold new primaries but who's actually going to pay the bill? Money isn't only an obstacle. Time is also running out. Tonight, we'll take a look at all the angles there.
Plus, up close with Cindy McCain. We're digging deeper and learning all we can about the candidate's spouses. Bet you didn't know that Mrs. McCain is a former rodeo queen. And that is not the only surprise.
Before we get to all that, though, let's get a quick look at the latest from the campaign trail, starting with more fuel for the rumor mill.
Right now, take a look at a live shot at Hillary Clinton speaking at a town hall meeting in Casper, Wyoming. Earlier today she raised the possibility of a joint Clinton/Obama ticket in Mississippi. It's actually the second hint that she's dropped this week. Senator Obama says it's premature to be having those discussions.
He spent the day hitting the trail hard in Wyoming where the caucuses favor his strength. Town hall meeting in Casper and a rally in Laramie; all part of his playbook.
Meantime, Senator John McCain is the presumptive Republican nominee, held campaign events in Atlanta and in New Orleans. He also showed a little flash of temper. What set him off? We've got all the details just ahead.
We begin with raw politics on the eve of Wyoming's Democratic caucuses. Just 12 delegates are at stake tomorrow. But in a race this close, every single vote counts.
For once, Wyoming is the -- usually the political wallflower and is finding itself the belle of the ball, just as the ball is getting a little uglier.
Here's CNN's Jessica Yellin reporting from Cheyenne, Wyoming.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Riding into town sounding confident.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It is great to be in the Cowboy State. I intend to win Wyoming.
YELLIN: Barack Obama's favored to win this state. But he could emerge wounded by attacks like this.
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If he keeps telling people one thing while his campaign tells people abroad something else, I'm not sure what the American people should believe.
YELLIN: The latest flash point, one of Obama's foreign policy advisers told the BBC a President Obama might not withdraw troops from Iraq as quickly as candidate Obama promises.
SAMANTHA POWER, FORMER OBAMA ADVISER: He will of course, not rely upon some plan that he's crafted as a presidential candidate or a U.S. Senator. It is the height of ideology to sort of say, I said it, therefore I'm going to impose it, so --
YELLIN: Smelling blood, Senator Clinton pounced.
CLINTON: While Obama campaigns on his plan to end the war, his top advisers tell people abroad that he will not rely on his own plan, should he become president.
YELLIN: The same adviser was also quoted, calling Senator Clinton a monster. She quickly issued an apology for inexcusable automobile remarks and resigned. Now Obama is on the defensive.
OBAMA: It was because of George Bush with an assist from Hillary Clinton and John McCain that we entered into this war; a war that should have never been authorized; a war that should have never been waged. And I will bring this war to an end in 2009. So don't be confused.
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: This is certainly going on offense that could include some questions that he raises about her, since they've been throwing at him.
YELLIN: Obama is now throwing gentle jabs about her management style.
OBAMA: Look who's run the best campaign.
YELLIN: But he's leave being the body blows to his staff. Today his campaign manager called Clinton one of the most secretive politicians alive. Obama insists he can give as good as he gets.
OBAMA: Listen. I may be skinny, but I'm tough.
YELLIN: But he has yet to show it on the stump. Senator Clinton seems in her comfort zone playing hard ball. But Barack Obama has cultivated a following promising a new, cleaner brand of politics. So if he plays this game, it could be at his own peril.
Jessica Yellin, CNN, Cheyenne, Wyoming.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
O'BRIEN: Got a lot to talk about tonight. Let's bring in our panel. CNN Senior political analyst Gloria Borger joins us. Also former Clinton attorney, Lanny Davis and Democratic strategist, Jamal Simmons. Nice to see all of you.
Gloria, let's begin with you. We're looking at only 12 delegates when it comes to Wyoming. Do you see so far a clear winner and clear loser when it comes to these personal attacks?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: No, I don't. I think clearly Barack Obama has been put on the defensive this week. It's not a place that any candidate wants to be at this point in a campaign.
I think what we've seen throughout this campaign is that the voters don't like it when these candidates attack each other. They like it more when they sit around the table and say they're honored to appear at a debate with each other.
So I think there's a little bit of peril here for both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, because they have to be very careful about how they differentiate themselves. Because if they're seen as just same old- same old politics and this is particularly perilous for Barack Obama, who says he's running a different kind of campaign, then the public just might not like it.
O'BRIEN: Jamal, we know that Samantha Power made that "monster" comment, you heard it in Jessica's piece but she also talks about this interview that she did with the BBC where she talked about the best case scenario in Iraq. How damaging do you think that is to Barack Obama?
JAMAL SIMMONS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, here's the start with the first part. What's encouraging, what's positive about this is that Barack Obama acted in a very decisive and presidential way by saying that his team and advisers said -- I'm the person that sends messages in this campaign, I'm the person that sets the direction. So that also goes to this issue of Iraq.
And what's disturbing I think for the Obama campaign for many Democrats is that when Senator Clinton had the chance to make a statement about Iraq and say which way she wanted to go, she chose to side with George Bush instead of with the Democratic chairman of the Armed Services Committee, the Democratic chairman of the Intelligence Committee, who both voted against the war in Iraq, while she voted with George Bush for it.
So that king of undermines her ability to criticize him now when he says I want to end the war in Iraq. I think he's got pretty good judgment and the American people seem to be responding to that. He has the most votes and the most delegates.
O'BRIEN: The Clinton campaign as we know jumped on all of this and made a point of saying that -- you know, highlighting sort of the problems here, but the question is when you really look at what she said in this BBC interview, you say, is there really a lot wrong with this adviser's point?
You know, to some degree, you've got to wait till you're president. You have to wait till you're in office to really talk to the people on the ground. Isn't that what she was saying? What's so wrong about that?
LANNY DAVIS, FORMER CLINTON LAWYER: Nothing, except that Senator Obama has criticized and based his whole campaign about the lack of clarity of Senator Clinton's position. By the way, Senator Rockefeller who endorsed Senator Obama also voted for the war, despite the fact that David Axelrod, the campaign adviser, said he voted against the war.
SIMMONS: You're referring to Bob Graham.
DAVIS: Excuse me, I didn't interrupt you, Jamal.
SIMMONS: He's referring to Bob Graham.
DAVIS: Control yourself, I didn't interrupt you.
O'BRIEN: One at a time, guys. You know when you're not here with me in person it's hard to smack you around.
At the end of the day, what she said was, listen, you're going to make some decisions that you have to talk to your guys on the ground. You've got to kind of wait till you're president. Isn't there validity to that?
DAVIS: Soledad, what I was trying to say is there's a pattern here. If you take what Senator Obama says he means to say about the war, 16 months there out, then his adviser says he didn't really mean it. Then he says in Ohio which he lost by a landslide, I'm against NAFTA while an adviser goes to Canada, at least a Canadian consulate in Chicago, and says he didn't really mean it.
Then he says in the beginning of the campaign, I will commit to public financing and now he's backing off. There's a pattern here.
For somebody who is so critical and judgmental about Senator Clinton who voted the same way as Senator Rockefeller, the Governor of Illinois and 29 other Democrats believing that the inspectors had to complete their job, the kinds of comments you're hearing from Obama people about misjudgments, you have to hold Senator Obama to the same standard that he's holding everybody else to.
O'BRIEN: For those who are critical and judgmental about Senator Clinton and her reluctance to release tax information, Gloria, you first. How damaging is this realistically for the senator? BORGER: Well, I think -- look. I think Barack Obama at this point has clearly decided that he's going to fight back. That he's going to raise some issues that have been raised about Bill and Hillary Clinton. And, you know, this, again, he has to be a little nuanced in this. He's raising the issue, but he doesn't want to attack her.
He's saying you've got to release your income taxes. Fair enough. She's been asked about that in the campaign and she is going to have to respond. This is a debate that they can have. She can respond to it and he can ask the question.
O'BRIEN: All right. Well, I would ask you guys to stand by while we continue to get to our raw politics.
Thanks and we'll continue with our discussion.
And, in fact, while the Democrats press on with their campaigns, cash is just pouring in. Take a look at the "Raw Data" here.
Barack Obama raised $55 million in February. That's a record for a single month. More than $45 million of that amount came from online donations, which 90 percent were under $100.
Hillary Clinton also achieved a milestone. Her campaign brought in $35 million in February. That's the most for her, $20 million more than she raised in the month of January.
Now, on the GOP side, John McCain raised a little over $12 million in the month of February.
Mr. McCain got a little testy on the campaign trail today. See just who sparked his temper. That's coming up tonight.
Also, some late-breaking details in the murder of an Auburn University student tonight.
Plus, I am going to be blog -- blogging, rather, during the broadcast. If you want to join in on the conversation, go to cnn.com/360.
O'BRIEN (voice-over): They want to vote again.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Democratic National Committee did not have to punish Florida and Michigan the way that it did.
O'BRIEN: But if do-overs are allowed, who pays for it? Tonight, the latest on the political dynamite that could blow up the Democratic race for president.
Plus: Cindy McCain up close -- what you might not know about John McCain's wife, her secret addiction, and a federal investigation. How she fought back -- when 360 continues.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK BREWER, MICHIGAN DEMOCRATIC PARTY CHAIRMAN: We would have to find thousands of election sites, train thousands of workers, print thousands of millions of ballots, so, daunting logistical problems.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: That was Mark Brewer -- he's Michigan's Democratic Party chairman -- describing all the potential roadblocks to holding a second primary in his state. Florida is in the same boat.
Now, Democratic officials in both states broke party rules by holding their primaries early. They wanted to maximize their clout, but, instead, the national party stripped them of their delegates.
So, tonight, the clock is ticking to find some way out of this mess.
And CNN's John Zarrella joins us this evening.
John, let's start with how close we are to any sort of solution now.
JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN MIAMI BUREAU CHIEF: Well, you know that old saying, Soledad, there's a lot of irons in the fire?
But, you know, here in Florida, at least, a primary is looking less and less likely. With all this redo hullabaloo, somebody forgot to take a look at the calendar. The Florida secretary of state's office says, from the minute you say go, you need about 90 days to get a primary in position.
Well, the Democratic Party rules say all the primaries have to be done by June 10. So, if you don't, say, go by, let's say, Monday, you're not going to meet that deadline. And that may not be the biggest problem.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVEN GELLER (D), FLORIDA STATE SENATOR: I guess we can go one, two, three, four, but we're going to run out of fingers and toes pretty quickly. We have no way of counting the ballots because we don't have voting machines.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZARRELLA: Fifteen counties in Florida are switching over to optical scan machines. By law, they have to be in place by July 1. And that's too late.
And the irony here is that the same law that is mandating these optical scan machines with paper trails is the one that moved everything up, the primary up, to January 29, and created this whole mess to begin with -- Soledad.
O'BRIEN: So, if there's no deal by Monday, then what happens? ZARRELLA: Well, in Michigan, they're still trying to hammer out a caucus that would be paid for in part by the DNC, in part by fund- raisers, and in part by the campaigns.
In Florida, they're now looking at something called the vote by mail, which would cost about $8 million, they say. Florida's governor, Republican governor, says, if the DNC will pay for it, he thinks the state should run it. But, as we know, the DNC has already said they're not paying for anything -- Soledad.
O'BRIEN: John Zarrella for us tonight -- John, you look positively tan, I believe. Thanks for joining us.
Today, on the campaign trail, an issue that has haunted John McCain for years, but hasn't been made much of during this campaign so far.
We're talking about the senator's temper. It is notoriously quick, as some people like to say. There have been warnings that he showed a dark side and that maybe it could hurt him in the campaign.
There was some evidence of it, in fact, today, when the senator got a little testy. There was also evidence that he's taking a different approach on the economy than President Bush.
To take a look at both of those things, CNN's Dana Bash with "Raw Politics."
DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): An Atlanta town hall, John McCain insisted the term recession matters to economists, not people feeling the pinch, but conceded that America is likely in one.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESUMPTIVE NOMINEE: The main factor out there is that Americans are hurting right now. And they don't care too much whether it's technically a recession or not. So, I would say that it's very likely.
BASH: That bleak assessment is vivid proof the presumptive Republican nominee sees the political reality of a sour economy, a huge challenge for a candidate who admits his strongest suit is not economics.
MCCAIN: I have been involved in the economic issues affecting this country for the last 25 years. Am I more versed on national security issues? I would argue yes.
BASH: Meanwhile, another town hall question was a bit of a flashback.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: John Kerry approached you in 2004 about being his running mate. Would you be open to returning the favor and considering him as your running mate?
MCCAIN: No. I'm a conservative Republican. So, when I was approached when -- we had that conversation back in 2004, I mean, that's why I never even considered such a thing. BASH: Later, a "New York Times" reporter reminded McCain that, four years ago, he denied to the newspaper that Kerry approached him. That elicited a testy exchange.
MCCAIN: Everybody knows that, that I had a conversation. There's no living American in Washington that knows that. There's no one.
And you know it, too.
No, you know it. You know it. So, I don't know -- even know why you asked.
No, you do know it. You do know.
I don't know. But it's well known that I had the conversation. It was absolutely well known by everyone. So, do you have a question on another issue?
BASH (on camera): That exchange went on and on, and McCain still refused to answer any questions on the topic.
As for Democrats, they jumped on it, dubbing McCain -- quote -- "Senator Hothead," and calling it the latest example of his temper.
McCain adviser Steve Schmidt responded that this is all -- quote -- "complete and total nonsense," insisting what Americans really care about are things like the 63,000 jobs lost last month.
Dana Bash, CNN, Atlanta.
O'BRIEN: Elsewhere in the Republican field, one candidate's battle for the White House has come to an end. Texas Congressman Ron Paul is dropping out of the race. Spokesmen for Paul tell CNN the campaign feels that Paul can still influence the debate and can -- quote -- "bring the GOP back to its roots."
Still to come tonight: an up-close look at Cindy McCain, her love for John, her battle with addiction.
First, though, Gary Tuchman joins us with a 360 bulletin.
Good evening to you.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Soledad.
We have breaking news tonight. According to our affiliate WSB- TV, police in Phoenix City, Alabama, have arrested a man with evidence connecting him to the murder of Auburn University freshman Lauren Burk. She was shot Tuesday night, her car set on fire.
Meanwhile, police at the University of North Carolina believe the murder of student body president Eve Carson was a random act of violence. They say she was killed by a gunshot to the head. Her car keys and wallet have not been found. Police have no suspect, but they're following several leads.
Tonight, here in New York City, police are looking for a cyclist shown on surveillance video just moments before yesterday's bombing of a military recruiting station in Times Square. The 10-speed bike was found ditched in the trash near the blast site.
And, Soledad, don't forget, spring ahead Sunday morning. Set your clocks forward one hour for Daylight Saving Time. I know we do this every year, but people always forget.
And, this time, when you spring forward, you show up an hour late if you have something important to do tomorrow morning, if you don't change the clock.
O'BRIEN: That's right. Don't forget. That would be a big mistake.
All right, Gary, thanks.
Gary, actually, stay right there, because we're doing our segment now "What Were They Thinking?" Tonight we have a 360 follow-up on the mother who was caught using a high-pressure hose on her daughter in a Florida car wash. Unbelievable. Now, thankfully, the girl is OK.
Also ahead, an up-close look at Cindy McCain tonight, standing by her man on the campaign trail. Tonight, a look at her past, how she overcame a battle against addiction.
That's all when 360 continues.
O'BRIEN: All right, Gary, now our segment "What Were They Thinking?"
We take you to Ipswich, Massachusetts, where a driving instructor pleaded not guilty today to charges that he was drunk while he was giving a lesson. A portable Breathalyzer test showed that Daniel Winsky's blood alcohol level was three times the legal limit when he was pulled over by the cops while he was teaching two students how to drive.
But it turns out those results are not admissible in court. Police didn't offer him a formal test at the station either.
Gary, the students in the car said that they didn't think he was drunk. He didn't appear drunk, but he was sipping from a bottle of cough medicine.
Huh. That may have been a clue.
TUCHMAN: Yes, note to students who are going to be learning how to drive. If you're instructor is taking swigs from cough medicine, be concerned about it.
We also have more, Soledad, a more serious note tonight. We have a 360 follow on last night's "What Were They Thinking?" Police have arrested and charged a Florida mom with child abuse due to this disturbing video.
The mother is spraying her 2-and-a-half-year-old daughter with a high- pressure hose at an Orlando car wash. She said she did it because the girl was throwing a tantrum. The girl was not hurt physically, at least. She will likely live with her grandmother for now.
What was this mother thinking?
O'BRIEN: Oh, gosh, that's horrible.
Coming up, we're going to have more with our political panel tonight, Gary, their prediction on what's going to happen in Florida and Michigan over the next 72 hours.
And also, tonight, an up-close look at the woman who could be the next first lady. Cindy McCain's personal struggle with addiction and why she was initially reluctant for John McCain to run once again for president.
And here's tonight's "Beat 360."
Former President Bill Clinton giving a speech for his wife Hillary from the back of a pickup truck in Dallas last week.
OK. So, this is the caption from our staff writer, Jack. Ready?
"You can take Bubba out of Arkansas, but you can't take the Arkansas out of Bubba."
Hey, that's OK. I think that's great. You know, if you think you can do better, go to cnn.com/360. Send in your submission. We're going to announce the winner at the end of the show.
O'BRIEN: The idea of having do-over primaries in Florida and Michigan comes down to cold, hard cash. The first Democratic go-round cost Florida $15 million, Michigan somewhere between $11 million and $12 million.
Now, estimates for do-overs in both states would total around $30 million. Will it happen at all?
Let's talk more about the "Raw Politics" with Gloria Borger, Lanny Davis and Jamal Simmons.
Gloria, let's start with you once again.
You know, this delegate limbo, you get the sense that everybody's attempting to find a fair solution.
O'BRIEN: But do you think there actually is a fair solution that doesn't disenfranchise voters on one end or the other?
BORGER: Voting. That's the -- that's the fair solution.
I think, in a way, a do-over is a fair solution. But, as you point out, who is going to pay for it? It costs a lot of bucks. There's some talk that you can use so-called soft money, money that's donated to political parties. You could get some fat cats to pony up and pay for these elections.
I think the other controversy you also may see brewing, Soledad, is the question -- I was talking to a Democrat about this tonight -- about whether these remain, in Florida and Michigan, proportional primaries, or whether, in the end, they become kind of like sudden death and they become winner take all?
O'BRIEN: Interesting. Interesting.
BORGER: We don't know.
O'BRIEN: Yes, you don't know yet.
Lanny, what do you think? When you talk about the financing, which is clearly the big issue here, who could pay?
DAVIS: You know, I think that it is so important for the Democrats to win back the White House, and I cannot imagine we're going to be able to win back the White House if there are empty seats in the states of Florida and Michigan, risking the loss of those two states, and we can't win the White House back if we lose those two states.
We can raise the money. Both campaigns -- certainly, the Michigan Democratic Party and the Florida Democratic Party could combine to raise the money. And it doesn't have to be the maximum, full-fledged primary. There are alternatives that your own reporter mentioned.
We have to find a solution. And it's got to be fair. And Senator Obama and Senator Clinton have to see this as a neutral solution, not one aimed at favoring one vs. the other. But we do have to find a solution in the party leadership, and elected officials who have endorsed both candidates have to find a solution.
O'BRIEN: Jamal, what do you think could be done? You look at the -- I mean, I was just showing the numbers of how much money the candidates have raised. You know, Barack Obama raised $55 million. Hillary Clinton's raised an all-time high for the month as well for her, you know, tens and tens of millions of dollars. They certainly could pay for some of this, right?
SIMMONS: You know, there's another issue.
They certainly could pay for some of it.
There's another issue, though. It's not just about cost. When you get down to fairness, Senator Clinton, Senator Obama, John Edwards, all the Democrats, all agreed that these states weren't going to count. They all signed the same pledge and said these states weren't going to count. And, so, now we're in the position of having two states that violated the rules and leapt ahead of where they were supposed to be now being put in the position where they may actually be the states that decide -- they may actually have more importance, because they decide the election. So, that's something people have to consider.
O'BRIEN: Yes, but the question is really -- I mean, the question is disenfranchising people. There's already been two million who voted, right? So, if you disenfranchise them, or if you disenfranchise people who never got an opportunity, because those two states actually had way low numbers, I mean, lower -- you know, everybody else was doing all-time highs on the Democratic side, and those two states were very low.
So, in a way, you're juggling disenfranchising somebody.
SIMMONS: Well, here -- and the other part of that issue is, Senator Obama's name wasn't even on the ballot in Michigan, because he was living up to his side of the agreement. And, so, that's a problem.
But, in Florida, in particular, there was a property tax amendment on the ballot and all that. But there were people who probably would have voted if they thought that Florida was going to count. So, we do have to find some way that's going to be fair to the most people, but it will be a little bit unfair to somebody.
O'BRIEN: All right.
Let's take a turn, Gloria, for a second and talk a bit about the GOP. Dana Bash was reporting about some of the fighting on the GOP side. McCain fighting with some reporters, you know, it wasn't over the top, but it's certainly there.
When people talk about him, they use the words impulsive, volatile, temperamental. Realistically, is this a problem in his campaign among the voters? Clearly, some reporters are sensitive, but will the voters care, Gloria?
BORGER: Well, you know, I think the temperament of a president always counts and I think that John McCain is somebody I've covered over the years, and I've watched him really try to get his temper under control because he understands that it's been an issue in the past.
And I think today what you saw was an argument he was having with a reporter from "The New York Times." "The New York Times" has not been his favorite newspaper lately, and I think, you know, you saw one side of John McCain.
You know, the problem, I think, is that sometimes you never know which fellow is going to show up. Is he the jovial guy at the town hall meeting, or is he the kind of short-tempered guy that we saw today? He didn't blow up at the journalist, but you could clearly see that he was trying to keep it a little bit under control.
O'BRIEN: He was getting a little bit testy. Final question for both Lanny and Jamal. Let me ask you guys a question. I'm getting some of these questions on this blog here, which is if you have all this fighting among the Democrats, people say, you know what you're doing? You're essentially handing the race over to the Republicans. More than one person has posted that on our blog. Do you think that's -- how big of a problem is that, do you think?
DAVIS: Well, I'll probably get agreement from Jamal on this one, I hope. I think Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are two very fine, strong candidates. They have appeal to the different constituencies. I would argue that Hillary Clinton appeals to core Democratic constituencies. And that's what we need to win the White House.
But I admire Senator Obama greatly. Here's the thing. This disagreement are not about the great issues facing the country. There's essential agreement on getting out of Iraq. There's essential agreement on health care. There's essential agreement on the economy. Hillary Clinton and Senator Obama have disagreements on those issues, but getting out of Iraq is not one of them.
There is a fundamental split in the Republican Party. And it is philosophical. Rush Limbaugh and some of the right wing of the Republican Party disagree with Senator Obama -- or Senator McCain on some fundamental issues, which is more divided than we...
O'BRIEN: Let me -- let me give Jamal the final word here. And Lanny, that was kind of a -- you know, you didn't quite answer the question there, which is all this bickering, do you risk losing people in the party?
DAVIS: I don't think it's going to matter. I think we'll have a unified party.
O'BRIEN: Short answer. I appreciate that.
Jamal, what do you think?
SIMMONS: I agree that these are both two very fine candidates, and they'd be better than any Republican. But I've got to say, it's troubling when Senator Clinton goes out and defends John McCain's ability to be commander in chief and implies that Barack Obama maybe couldn't be as good of a commander in chief as John McCain. That's something you might hear more from.
But I do think that this is a situation where we've got to get this under control fast so that we can get our fire focused back on John McCain.
O'BRIEN: I love the way you both you guys say, "I want to commend the fine candidates." You're all good. Very, very good. Thank you guys. I appreciate it. Gloria, Lanny and Jamal, good night.
Still to come this evening, she is in the running to become the next first lady. An up-close look at Cindy McCain. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CINDY MCCAIN, WIFE OF JOHN MCCAIN: Thank you all.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: John McCain on the campaign trail, up close tonight, his wife Cindy. While her husband is hoping to be commander in chief, she's already a chairman of the board. But running a business reportedly worth hundreds of millions of dollars is just part of her story.
Just who is Cindy McCain? CNN's Randi Kaye has the revealing profile tonight.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): You'll often find her just a step or two behind her husband. It's where Cindy McCain is most comfortable; on the sidelines.
(on camera) Is she shy?
BETSY BAYLESS, FORMER ARIZONA SECRETARY OF STATE: Yes. When I first knew her, she was quite shy.
KAYE (voice-over): Former Arizona secretary of state Betsy Bayless is a good friend of the McCains.
BAYLESS: Cindy is a fun, down-to-earth person. She has a great sense of humor. She's very loyal. She's very family oriented.
KAYE: Cindy McCain, now 53, was born Cindy Lou Hensley, an only child. She had a privileged upbringing. Her father owned one of the largest beer distributorships in the country. Today, she is chairman of the board.
(on camera) Cindy McCain went to Central High School here in Phoenix, a public school. Friends say she was very popular. She didn't play any sports, but she was a cheerleader and went on to become a rodeo queen.
(voice-over) She graduated from the University of Southern California with a master's in special education and became a teacher. Love stole her from her students.
In 1979 she met then-future Senator John McCain at a cocktail party in Hawaii. Nancy Collins profiled Cindy in "Harpers Bazaar" magazine.
NANCY COLLINS, "HARPERS BAZAAR": She said this guy in his white uniform was there and kind of -- she said, "He was kind of chasing me around the table. And I thought, whoa!" But she said it was instant chemistry.
KAYE: Cindy was 24. He was 42, though at the time both lied about their ages, trying to narrow the 18-year gap. John McCain was married then but separated. One month after his divorce, he married Cindy. Their perfect bliss would not last long.
When John McCain became a member of Congress in 1982, he moved to Washington part-time. Cindy stayed in Phoenix. After a series of miscarriages, the couple finally had three children, and thought it best to raise them in Arizona.
(on camera) What kind of mother is she?
BAYLESS: She's a doting mother. I remember when we were on the Straight Talk Express in 2000. Her phone just rang all the time, and she'd be saying, "No, you've got to do your homework right now."
KAYE: Her parents lived across the street and pitched in. But in her husband's absence, Cindy entered one of the darkest periods of her life. A secret addiction and a federal investigation would all come back to haunt them.
O'BRIEN: Next on 360, the personal crisis that Cindy McCain faced on her addiction and how she overcame her troubles.
And also tonight, to live and die in L.A. A young man's promise, a mother's grief. "Uncovering America" when 360 continues.
O'BRIEN: Senator John McCain and his wife, Cindy. Tonight we are taking a closer look at her, the woman who could be the next first lady.
Before the break we told you how Cindy McCain's life became very public once she married Senator John McCain. The public saw the smiles, but what the public did not see was her personal pain.
Once again, up close, here's CNN's Randi Kaye.
KAYE: Cindy McCain exudes glamour: well-tailored suits, never a hair out of place. But her image wasn't always so perfect. In 1989 after injuring her back in a car accident, she became addicted to prescription painkillers.
COLLINS: In 1993, her mother walked in one day, and said, "There's something wrong with you."
And she said, "Yes, there is." She broke down, and she never took another pill after that.
KAYE: After telling her husband, Cindy went public about her addiction.
BAYLESS: She was trying to be the perfect wife and mother. KAYE: In 1994, a federal probe further exposed her drug problem. She confessed to stealing pills from the charity she'd started. Six years later, campaigning for the South Carolina primary, Cindy was painted as a drug addict.
There were also stories John McCain had fathered an illegitimate black child. He had not. But in 1993, the couple had adopted a fourth child unexpectedly after an international charity mission.
C. MCCAIN: When a mother comes home with a new child and surprises him with a new baby from Bangladesh, and not only does he open his arms, but he loves her just like I do, that's something that says something about the character of the man.
KAYE: Character wasn't enough. Senator McCain's presidential bid ended; and the bad luck continued. Cindy's father died in 2000. And four years later, she had a stroke from high blood pressure.
COLLINS: She taught herself to walk again and talk again and just concentrated on that. And in fact, eight months after the -- after the stroke, she ran in a marathon.
KAYE (on camera): Cindy McCain still lives in Phoenix full time. The couple has a home here and a cabin in Sedona a couple of hours away. I'm told they don't play golf, but they do barbecue. Apparently, Senator McCain is a master at the grill, and the couple does a lot of entertaining at their cabin.
(voice-over) Cindy volunteers for international charities and squeezes in some NASCAR. She's a big fan.
Dan Nowicki covers McCain's campaign for the "Arizona Republic" and says Cindy was reluctant about a second presidential run until some smooth talk from the senator.
DAN NOWICKI, "ARIZONA REPUBLIC": Her husband mentioned that she -- she could be the person who will restore elegance and grace and style to the White House, and I think that she kind of ate that up.
KAYE: Another reason she's on board? The McCains have two sons in the military. One has been serving in Iraq.
(on camera) If he's elected, he has no plans to pull the troops out, but yet they have a son there.
NOWICKI: Right. And she wants somebody in the White House she can trust, and apparently, it's because she's got kids in the military.
KAYE: Meanwhile, she's fighting her own battle. "The New York Times" recently accused Senator McCain of getting too cozy with this young female lobbyist.
C. MCCAIN: My children and I not only trust my husband but know that he would never do anything to not only disappoint our family, but more -- but disappoint the people of America.
KAYE: With enemies like these, it's no wonder friends say she keeps a grudge list.
(on camera) Any idea who might be on that grudge list of hers?
BAYLESS: Well, I have some suspicions, a few people who might be on the grudge list.
KAYE: Grudges or not, Cindy appears more confident and is having more fun. Their daughter Meghan's blog from the trail captures her lighter side.
Cindy McCain's second national campaign. Maybe this time she's ready for the good and the bad.
Randi Kaye, CNN, Phoenix, Arizona.
O'BRIEN: Cindy McCain, a pretty amazing story.
Coming up next on 360, while a soldier fights in Iraq, terror back home changes her life.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANITA SHAW, MOTHER: You're fighting for terrorism. Isn't that what gangs are then? If they won't let you have your own freedom, then to me, they're a terrorist.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: She calls them terrorists, and she blames them for taking the life of her son. And now she's fighting back. That story when 360 continues.
O'BRIEN: Not too far from Hollywood, real-life crime stories are being played out at a staggering rate. Compared to a year ago, murders in Los Angeles are up by nearly 30 percent. Many of the victims are young, and tonight we'd like you to meet one of them. He was just 17 years old.
"Uncovering America" tonight, here's CNN's Kara Finnstrom.
A. SHAW: He was a Christian, and I thank God for that, because I know he's in a better place.
KARA FINNSTROM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Anita Shaw says her 17-year-old son, Jamiel, wanted to please everyone.
A. SHAW: He just tried all the time to do the right thing. He was so good.
FINNSTROM: Jamiel is one of several innocent victims in a horrifying two-week string of gang-related shootings around Los Angeles.
MAYOR ANTONIO VILLARAIGOSA, LOS ANGELES: I think what's particularly unnerving for all of us is just the random nature of these shootings.
FINNSTROM: Police say Jamiel was an innocent victim. Two Latino gang members had approached him and asked him what gang he was in. Shaw was not in a gang. When he didn't answer, they shot and killed him.
JAMIEL SHAW SR., FATHER: I just can't understand, you know?
FINNSTROM: He was only a few doors from home. Jamiel Sr. heard The Shots, ran outside. He knew it was his son lying on the ground.
J. SHAW: A guaranteed chance (ph). That's what hurt so much.
FINNSTROM: They had a plan. Keep focused, stay away from drugs and gangs and we'll get into college. Now, everything's shattered.
J. SHAW: I told him, I promise you, if you sacrifice these 18 years, man, I'll sacrifice with you. I guarantee you. It's not going to happen, and you know? It's so -- I can't even -- I don't understand. I just can't understand.
FINNSTROM: Part of that sacrifice from Jamiel's mother. While Jamiel Sr. served the family at home, she served her country in Iraq. She was there last Thanksgiving and sent a greeting to her sons on CNN.
A. SHAW: I would like to give a shot out to my sons, Jamiel.
FINNSTROM: And she was there this week when her commanding officer called her in and told her Jamiel had been shot, Anita called home.
A. SHAW: He told me they shot him. He was three doors down. I was like, "No. No. No!" I don't -- I didn't want to believe it. I didn't want to believe it. I thought if I didn't talk about it, it wouldn't be true.
FINNSTROM: No one could believe it was true. Jamiel was a star running-back and sprinter for Los Angeles High School. Colleges were showing interest, including Stanford.
J. SHAW: We said, man, we'd have to get more room for these trophies, because he's only in eleventh grade. I mean, he's going to have a lot more college trophies.
FINNSTROM: Now the dream is over. The Shaws are angry.
J. SHAW: It's just -- it's a gang problem, and they have no -- nothing in their heart for people.
A. SHAW: Isn't that what gangs are, then? If they won't let you have your own freedom, then to me, they're a terrorist.
FINNSTROM: And the Shaws are scared. They have another son to raise, 9-year-old Thomas. Thomas, an athlete too, has always wanted to be just like his big brother. (END VIDEOTAPE)
FINNSTROM: And we spoke with Jamiel's parents earlier today. This was the first time that Anita Shaw had spoken to the media since returning from Iraq. And it was extremely difficult for her.
But she says she did it for two reasons. One, she says she wants the country to know who Jamiel was. And secondly, she's hoping to spur leads, because right now, Soledad, there's still no official suspects in her son's death.
O'BRIEN: That's a sad, sad story. Kara Finnstrom for us tonight. Thank you, Kara.
Let's get to Gary Tuchman now. He joins us once again with the "360 News and Business Bulletin."
Good evening again, Gary.
TUCHMAN: Good evening, Soledad. A deadly tornado in Northern Florida to report tonight. Two people killed in the community of Lake City. Dozens of homes and businesses were damaged.
Devastation of a different sort on Wall Street. Stocks tanked today, falling to their worst levels in 18 months. The Dow plunged 145 points by the ring of the bell, pulling deep into 11,000 territory. The NASDAQ and S&P also posted big declines.
And call it a smoke ring or call it a loophole. A clause in Minnesota's new ban on smoking in night spots exempts stage performers. So some enterprising bar keepers are getting around the band by telling customers to come in costume and calling their clients actors. So far, it seems to be working.
Now, Soledad, don't ask me how I know this, but there are a lot of dramas that play out in bars. Mostly melodramas, but I don't think this is what the Minnesota legislature intended.
O'BRIEN: Yes. Those are not actors. Those are not actors. Those are personal dramas, not actors. All right.
Time for the "Beat 360" picture. You know how it works. Put a picture on the 360 blog. Viewers have to come up with a caption that's better than the one we've come up with.
Can't be hard tonight because I thought ours was very average.
OK. Tonight this is the picture here; Bill Clinton speaking from the back of a pickup truck during a campaign stop in Dallas last week. Here's the staff pick from Jack: "You can take Bubba out of Arkansas, but you can't take the Arkansas out of Bubba."
Yes, I agree. Sorry. Sorry, Jack. Fair to middling.
OK. Here's our viewer winner. Andy in Tustin, California. "When Hillary said she was going to pick up the Bill, this isn't what we had in mind."
TUCHMAN: Very good. Figurative.
O'BRIEN: Better, I like that.
TUCHMAN: Very clever.
O'BRIEN: Visit cnn.com/360. Check out all the entries. And feel free to play along any time you want.
"The Shot of the Day" is up next, a look at a house makeover that might make you a little thirsty. We'll explain. That's kind of a tease.
Also ahead, tonight, attack mode in the Democratic race for the White House on the eve of the Wyoming caucuses. We've got a look at the "Raw Politics," straight ahead.
O'BRIEN: OK, now our "Shot of the Day," one that might make any beer drinker a little bit thirsty. Take a look at what's known in Houston as the beer can house. Want to know why it's called the beer can house? That's why.
It is the creation of the late John Milkovisch, a thirsty character, apparently. From 1968 until his death 20 years later, Mr. Milkovisch covered his house in crushed beer cans. What did the neighbors say?
Tabs became curtains to keep the hot Texas sun out. Could that work? How many, would you wonder? Fifty thousand cans, all emptied by Mr. Milkovisch himself.
TUCHMAN: So we could not resist using our calculators, putting it into perspective. So we did the math. Twenty years, 50,000 cans. That works out to about 2,500 cans a year, or just a few chugs over a six-pack a day.
And yes, beer lovers will tell you, Soledad, that's just about right; a six-pack a day. Incidentally, you can visit the house. It's reopened as a folk art monument. Tickets are just one buck. That's less than a can of beer.
O'BRIEN: A six-pack a day for 20 years. That's good work, Mr. Milkovisch. God rest his soul.
TUCHMAN: That's why he's the late Mr. Milkovisch. I'm sorry.
O'BRIEN: Not necessarily.
For our international viewers, CNN Today is next. Here in the states, Larry King is coming up.
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