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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Clinton and Obama - Still Battling On; Should Candidates' Spouses be Fair Game?; Families Torn Apart
Aired May 19, 2008 - 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: We have got late word from the trail tonight, where Barack Obama is already going head to head with John McCain over Iran, diplomacy and his lobbyists.
Also, John King crunches the numbers for us tonight across the board, looking at the primaries tomorrow, the delegates, superdelegates, and popular vote. He will also look ahead to the Republican and Democratic strategies in the general election.
Plus, raw politics getting rougher -- Republicans take a new shot at Michelle Obama, a new commercial. Her husband says, hey, "Lay off my wife." We'll investigate. Should a spouse be a legitimate campaign issue?
And, later, families torn apart -- the kids of Warren Jeffs' polygamist kingdom caught in the middle, the first of hundreds of custody hearings getting under way today.
We begin, though, with Hillary Clinton battling on just hours away from a pair of primaries in Oregon and Kentucky, primaries that could put the nomination within just a few dozen delegates for Barack Obama.
Obama -- you see him there live in Bozeman, Montana -- he's already campaigning like he's the nominee. And John McCain is taking aim at him like McCain agrees.
Tonight, Senator Clinton -- the live shot of her event tonight, she and Bill Clinton campaigning right now in Louisville, Kentucky -- she's more than 300 delegates shy of the Democratic domination. And Senator Obama needs only 117. Now, 103 are at stake tomorrow, and he's stretching his superdelegate lead every day.
Candy Crowley has all the latest.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Hillary Clinton hung in there in Kentucky, all but ignored by Barack Obama and John McCain, who went at it over talks with Iran without precondition.
John McCain is not just willing to talk about this through the fall; he intends to, in surprisingly acrid terms.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Such a statement portrays the depth of Senator Obama's inexperience and reckless judgment. These are very serious deficiencies for an American president to possess.
CROWLEY: Foreign policy not only plays to his strength; it changes the subject for McCain, who has been caught up in stories about why his reformer campaign took so long to show the door to staffers who are also lobbyists.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you. Thank you, Billings. Thank you.
CROWLEY: Obama campaigned in Billings today for the June 3 primary, but head butting with McCain fits well into the Obama juggle, look and talk like the nominee...
B. OBAMA: You know, for all their tough talk, one of the things you have to ask yourself is, what are George Bush and John McCain afraid of? Demanding that a country meets all your conditions before you -- before you meet with them, that's not a strategy. It's just naive, wishful thinking.
CROWLEY: ... but try not to act like the primary season is over.
B. OBAMA: Senator Clinton has run a magnificent race, and she is still working hard, as am I.
SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm sure glad that nobody pulled the plug on this election before we got to Kentucky.
CROWLEY: While Obama fought with McCain, Hillary Clinton was battling the numbers. She will win here in Kentucky, but what she wants is to run up the score to pad her popular vote figure.
CLINTON: If Kentucky votes big tomorrow, we are going to keep going, and we're going to keep fighting, and we're going to keep making our case.
CROWLEY: It is her case to superdelegates: geography and numbers. She talks popular vote and electoral votes. She talks Ohio vs. Alaska, arguing that she wins in states Democrats need to have this fall, while his primary victories are in states Democrats can't win.
H. CLINTON: My opponent has 217 electoral votes, including places like Alaska and Idaho and Utah and Kansas and Nebraska. And many of his votes and his delegates come from caucus states, which have a relatively low turnout.
CROWLEY: What she wants out of Kentucky is another eye-popping win a la West Virginia, that 40-point victory. But, sometimes, the numbers just don't add up. This afternoon, West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd, the most senior member of the U.S. Senate, endorsed Barack Obama.
Candy Crowley, CNN, Lexington, Kentucky.
COOPER: Well, a handful of races to go, two of them tomorrow -- Barack Obama expecting, of course, to have the -- the nomination wrapped up by tomorrow, Hillary Clinton saying, as Candy said, not so fast. It all comes down to geography and delegates.
Mapping it out across the board is John King tonight.
What are we -- what are we looking at?
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The last part is the key part, the delegates.
This is the geography, Anderson. And the map is filling in. The two contests in white are up tomorrow, Kentucky and Oregon, two more out here, Puerto Rico down here. But the map that matters now, more and more and more, is this map here, the delegate map, because Barack Obama can't wrap up the nomination tomorrow night, but remember this number, 1,627. That is a majority of the pledged delegates, the delegates that are decided on caucus day and primary day.
And look where Barack Obama is entering the night. In pledged delegates, he's at 1,612. Well, assume, for the sake of argument, that Senator Clinton wins Kentucky, and wins it big. That's 65-35. Even if you give her Kentucky by that margin, Barack Obama reaches a majority of the pledged delegates, which he will say is a moral threshold. Once he has the majority of pledged delegates, how could you not make him the nominee?
And then assume he won out here in Oregon, even by a smaller 55- 45 margin. Then he's moving up even more so in his delegate math. And, so, when you come over here, and erase that, so it's not confusing, and match this up, look how close Barack Obama, even if he loses Kentucky big, wins Oregon by a 55-45, he's that close to the finish line.
So, this is not so much about the number of contests left. It is more and more about the number of delegates left. Barack Obama needs 29 percent, 28 percent, 29 percent of the remaining delegates; he's the nominee. Senator Clinton, on the other hand, needs 76 percent.
COOPER: She keeps hitting this argument that she's winning in the popular vote. How does she get that math?
KING: She's winning in the popular vote if you -- let's zoom this back -- bring this back up; doesn't want to go back up. Let's try over here. Let's try it this way.
As we come out to an election map -- OK, let's try it again. Come back this way. We will do it up here. It doesn't want to work at the moment.
KING: Our map is playing with us. Our map is in a mood tonight. It happens from time to time. Her math is counting on this state and this state, saying, if you count Michigan and Florida, we get the popular vote.
But, as the rules now stand, those states don't count. If she can convince the Democratic Party to change the rules, she would have better math, but still daunting math.
Even if they changed the rules, and even if she got all of the delegates, as she wants them apportioned, huge majority, 60-40 in Michigan, even more so in Florida, even if she won the argument, she would still need 65 percent of the remaining delegates. So, it would be better math, but still overwhelmingly against her.
COOPER: All right. We're going to have more with John King coming up across the board.
Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton each at late campaign events right now. He's in Montana. She's in Kentucky. She's getting ready to start. He's already rolling.
Let's listen in first to Barack Obama.
B. OBAMA: And if people tell you that we can't do it, we can't afford it, you just remind them we're spending $10 billion a month in Iraq. If we can spend $10 billion a month in Iraq, we can spend some of that money right here in the United States of America.
We can start doing what we should have been doing for these last eight years in terms of making sure that we're good stewards of the land.
People here in Montana know something about that. You have got some beautiful country here in Montana. But we want to make sure that we pass that on to the next generation. And that means that you need an Environmental Protection Agency that actually believes in protecting the environment.
That means that we're cracking down on polluters. It means that we are maintaining access to public lands, but we're also making sure that we are doing it in a sustainable way, so that we are allowing hunters and sportsmen and fisherman and people who just want a good walk, a nice hike in the mountains, that that is going to be there for our children, and our grandchildren, and our great-grandchildren, and the children after that.
That is a priority for all of Montana. That's going to be my priority when I'm president of the United States of America.
I want to make sure we have got the best education for every child that this country has to offer, because, even if -- even if we're investing in green technology, solar and wind, even if we're investing in infrastructure, even if we're bringing back good, quality jobs, young people, you guys are going to have to compete with young people in India, young people in China, and they are working hard.
And, so, we have got to raise our standards. We have got -- we have got to perform at a higher level. And that means investing in early childhood education to close the achievement gap.
That means paying our teachers more money, giving them more support. And I want high standards, but I don't want high standards measured just by a single high-stakes standardized test. That's a problem with "No Child Left Behind."
I want our kids learning art and music and science and history and all the things that make an education worthwhile.
COOPER: Both live events now happening, Barack Obama there in Montana, Hillary Clinton in Louisville, Kentucky.
Let's listen in to her make her case on the eve of crucial primaries in Kentucky and Oregon.
CLINTON: This is our last event before everyone goes out to vote tomorrow.
And I just want to start with a big thank you. Thank you to the people of Kentucky for being so kind and gracious to all of us welcoming my family across this Commonwealth.
And I am so excited to be here, on the eve of this election, because I think it's important that Kentucky gets to vote and that Kentucky's votes are going to count.
There is no doubt in my mind that all of you deserve the right to help pick a president tomorrow. And it's especially important because, over the years, Kentucky has had a pretty good track record at deciding who would become president.
Now, sometimes, I agreed, and sometimes I didn't. But anyone who doesn't understand the importance of Kentucky in selecting the president of the United States hasn't been paying attention. I have. That's why I have campaigned across this beautiful Commonwealth.
And I appreciate so much what my husband said, because he and I have been partners in working to try to bring about better opportunities for people.
You see, we're pretty simple about what we think public service is all about. It's not, for me, the bright lights and the cameras. I mean that kind of goes with it. But what matters to me -- and what's always mattered to Bill -- is whether people are better off when you stop than when you started, whether people have good jobs with rising incomes, whether kids have health care, whether you can afford to send your child to college, whether we're being respected and strong in the world.
And I'm very proud that he was our first two-term Democratic president since Franklin Roosevelt in the 20th century.
And during the course of this campaign, from time to time, someone occasionally criticizes the 1990s.
Now, that's fair. Well, no, you know, you can say anything in a campaign. I have certainly learned that over the years.
But I have always been a little curious when I hear that criticism. What is it they didn't like, the peace or the prosperity -- because America was on the right track back then.
And, occasionally, I will hear somebody say, well, you know, politics doesn't matter. I don't want to be involved. I don't even vote. What difference does it make?
COOPER: Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama appearing live right now, different parts of the country, Montana and Louisville, Kentucky, on the eve of these primaries.
Our panel next -- a lot to talk about, including the war over diplomacy, over Barack Obama's plan to sit down with the leaders of Iran.
As always, I'm blogging throughout the hour. Join the conversation. Go to cnn.com/360.
Later also tonight, Michelle Obama, she is now the target in some Republican ads. Our question tonight, are spouses fair game? Her husband says, no. What do you think?
Then, the first of what could be hundreds of custody hearings on the kids of Warren Jeffs' polygamist ranch.
And later, pictures from inside the China earthquake as it struck, turning the -- turning a world for tens of thousands of people literally upside down.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
H. CLINTON: Just today, I found some curious support for that position, when one of the TV networks released an analysis done by, of all people, Karl Rove, saying that I was the stronger candidate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: You know you're pulling out all the stops if you're Hillary Clinton and you're invoking Karl Rove as ammunition to make the case for the nomination.
As we have said, Senator Clinton is expected to pull out a big win in Kentucky tomorrow. The question is, to what effect?
We're digging deeper with our panel, CNN senior political analyst and former presidential adviser David Gergen, Marcus Mabry of "The New York Times," and Mark Halperin of "TIME" magazine and TIME.com, where he writes "The Page."
David, to what effect, I mean, will tomorrow have?
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I think it's -- it's one more step in the endgame that we're in right now. And she clearly knows that this is almost over, and she's shifted her tone since November. And wasn't it really interesting to hear that clip? Not one criticism of Barack Obama.
COOPER: But you say some of her arguments, though, are having an effect.
GERGEN: Well, I do think what is happening -- what I'm seeing, Anderson, are the people around her are now -- recognize it's almost over, and they're beginning to move toward Obama. They're trying to figure out, how do we heal these rifts?
And, even as they do so, however, you find, among the Clinton people, a widespread view, a deepening view, that this is going to be a very tough election for him to win.
And, so, you know, they make the argument -- one person made the argument to me who is high up in the Clinton -- the Clinton entourage, he's got to choose Kathy Sebelius as his vice president out of Kansas. He needs a woman to bring the women back.
Somebody else says, no, no, no -- another Clinton person -- he has got to choose Governor Strickland out of Ohio, because he desperately needs to win Ohio.
What all of that points to is, they're -- even as the Clinton people move to Obama, as they are, there are deep questions on their side about whether indeed he can win and whether, in fact, the arguments she's been making, whether they don't have force, even though it's over for -- they...
COOPER: It's interesting, Marcus, because you do hear a lot of Clinton supporters talk about discrimination against Hillary Clinton based on her gender, and people saying that that's a reason for -- that they are going to sit it out if Barack Obama does become the nominee.
And Geraldine Ferraro, obviously, a supporter of Hillary Clinton, I think, said that Barack Obama is terribly sexist, and said she's not sure she would vote for him.
MARCUS MABRY, INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS EDITOR, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Well, you know, I think we have to put all that right now down to chalking it up to still a bitter campaign that has not ended yet for the Democrats.
I think they're saying lots of things, and their supporters are saying lots of things, that they will not be saying once it really is a Democratic candidate, Barack Obama, most likely, vs. John McCain. I think that's really going to change. I think we're still in the rhetorical stage of the campaign.
I think the dangerous thing for Barack Obama, based on what happens tomorrow night -- and, immediately, you guys are going to come out and say that she's won Kentucky. Our newspaper is going to put up on our Web site that she has won Kentucky. And, again, this question is going to be raised once again. He's clearly the nominee. And, yet, he still can not -- quote, unquote -- "close the deal." He still can not -- quote, unquote -- "get white working-class votes." These kinds of narratives in the campaign this early have a way of becoming self-fulfilling narratives.
COOPER: Well, and that narrative, Mark, as Marcus points out, that doesn't change tomorrow night. I mean, that narrative continues, based on -- if all the polls are correct about what is going to happen in Kentucky, although, in Oregon, a predominantly white state, he's going to win, allegedly.
MARK HALPERIN, SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST, "TIME": Well, it's more than a narrative. It's a reality.
He -- as the obvious, likely nominee, as someone who is spending more money than Hillary Clinton, as someone who can take his plane and fly anywhere he wants, he's afraid to compete with her in West Virginia, afraid to compete with her in Kentucky.
His campaign can be in denial about that or they can say it doesn't matter. But the vaunted notion of running a 50-state campaign, it's no more than 48.
I think while he's in a strong position in many ways in the general election, winning Oregon does not say he can win white working class voters in states -- doesn't need Kentucky to win the election, doesn't even need West Virginia, but needs Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, states where there are white working class voters and he's not so far making that sale.
COOPER: David is going to weigh in.
I just want to remind viewers though that we're watching two events, live events simultaneously in Montana Barack Obama speaking and in Louisville, Kentucky, Hillary Clinton. David?
GERGEN: I do think that we have to maintain some balance when we're talking about the white vote. Those photographs with him in Portland with those massive people out there.
GERGEN: One of the most incredible photographs --
COOPER: Some 70,000.
GERGEN: All white faces as far as one could tell. So clearly, in some parts of the country he does attract whites across the board and in other parts of the country he's having trouble with that.
This is not a uniform picture. I think that's one of the reasons he's going to Iowa, basically a white state where he did very well.
I think we have to point out the reason that he actually will turn this election upside down, Hillary Clinton was going to be the nominee, we were all certain of it. And it was Iowa white voters that turned the election around.
I think it's important to point out for instance that the majority of African-Americans were Hillary Clinton supporters until white voters in Iowa said no, it can be different.
I think that kind of hope, that kind of energy, that kind of seed when he goes in Montana over the weekend. And even there I saw Montanans, some army veterans saying that actually maybe he'll win Montana. That's a fanciful notion.
But if he can see that kind of hope throughout America, whites and blacks, then I think we have a different kind of election campaign than we've seen in a long time.
HALPERIN: The other thing we'll see tomorrow is how he handles himself. He's doing I think a pretty good job now having been out of balance one way or the other at times, letting Hillary Clinton supporters not feel forced from the race, bringing them aboard rhetorically, and not declaring that she should leave the race or that the race is over; But also having to turn his attention to John McCain.
There's no question that they're feeling the pressure. The general election is on top of us now. November is not that far away. He needs to continue that balance all the way through the beginning of June. I think she'll be in the race till then.
COOPER: And we saw more evidence of that general election today.
Up next, Michelle Obama under attack from the GOP; Barack Obama says back off. But the question, should the candidate's wives be fair game? They're out there on the campaign trail.
We have the "Raw Politics" on that.
Also ahead, the McCain campaign has some explaining to do over the past couple of days, a senior adviser of the campaign stepping down because of lobbying ties to foreign governments. A couple of advisers now have stepped down. Is the Straight Talk Express getting a little off course?
That's coming up.
COOPER: Barack Obama greeting some admirers in a campaign stop in Montana. Hillary Clinton is in Louisville, Kentucky. We've been showing you both events throughout the evening.
Like most candidates, Barack Obama says he wants to focus on the issues that matter to Americans. For some, one of those issues is his wife Michelle. Tonight she's at the center of an attack ad that first surfaced on YouTube.
It's raising questions. Should the spouse of the presidential candidates be scrutinized? What do you think? We're going to ask our panel in a moment. We're talking about it on the blog.
First, here's the story and the ad and Obama's response to it in tonight's "Raw Politics."
B. OBAMA: I think these folks should lay off my wife.
COOPER: He says he's fair game, she is not. Barack Obama on ABC's "GOOD MORNING America" firing back at the Tennessee Republican Party today, after it began running this web ad.
MICHELLE OBAMA, BARACK OBAMA'S WIFE: Let me tell you something, for the first time in my adult lifetime, I'm really proud of my country.
The four-minute Internet spot ridicules her remarks by asking ordinary people why they are proud of their country.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm proud of my country every time I look at the American flag.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm proud of this country each and every day for the endless opportunities and resources that it has to offer.
COOPER: Attacking Michelle Obama by mocking her. The state's GOP campaign is getting noticed, especially by Barack Obama who slammed it as low class in the network TV interview.
B. OBAMA: The GOP, should I be the nominee, I think can say whatever they want to say about me, my track record. If they think that they're going to try to make Michelle an issue in this campaign, they should be careful because that I find unacceptable; the notion that you start attacking my wife or my family.
JOHN FEEHERY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: It's entirely legitimate to ask the question what kind of First Lady would Michelle Obama be, but you have to be careful that you don't alienate independent voters and you don't alienate women voters. If you do that then it will backfire.
COOPER: Like Michelle Obama, Bill Clinton and Cindy McCain are also under the microscope. But some political strategists say this kind of ad is a big mistake.
STEPHEN MARKS, OPPOSITION RESEARCHER: If all those guys in the Tennessee Republican Party combined that were involved in this ad had half a brain between them, they would realize there's enough legitimate issues to hit Barack Obama on, legitimate issues to use against him without being so stupid to attack his wife which is totally, totally out of line.
COOPER: Not to the Tennessee GOP. In a defiant statement, it said -- "Are we in for a long hot summer of temper tantrums from Tennessee Democrats and Barack Obama supporters whining 'Racism' and 'Bigotry' every time their likely presidential nominee is the target of a little criticism and dissent? The answer is yes."
COOPER: Tennessee Senator Bob Corker's camp lashed out at his fellow Republicans in the state denouncing the ad as negative personal campaigning. So the question is - are spouses fair game?
The DNC has been attacking the McCain campaign saying Cindy McCain should release her tax returns. Is that fair game?
Joining us now our political consultant and Obama supporter Dan Gerstein; Hillary Rosen, a Clinton supporter and political director of the Huffington Post; and GOP strategist Ed Rollins.
Hillary, what about it, are spouses fair game?
HILLARY ROSEN, POLITICAL DIRECTOR, HUFFINGTONPOST.COM: Well, I think spouses that campaign are fair game. Having said that, I think it's pretty stupid strategy because --
COOPER: Why's that?
ROSEN: You know essentially, you've taken on sort of the most sympathetic person in the candidate's realm, the wife, who is taking care of the children, supporting the husband, doing everything she can because she loves him.
Michelle Obama is a pretty terrific woman I have to say, and I think that attacking her is a dumb strategy on the Republican's part.
COOPER: Ed, you say you wouldn't run an ad like this but you expect to see more of it.
ED ROLLINS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I would expect to see more. Let me tell you this wasn't effective ad to begin with. First of all, it was a YouTube ad, it wasn't on paid television. Equally as important --
COOPER: Although it gets a lot of pickup on television --
ROLLINS: It gets a lot of pick up which is part of the game.
The critical thing here though, these are her words. They weren't something made up, it wasn't some personal attack. She said this and I think a lot of people reacted unfavorably to her saying it.
In the course of the campaign, is the spouse open for criticism? If she says something stupid, it's going to be on television.
COOPER: Dan, how -- can an ad like this work actually against the intended purpose? DAN GERSTEIN, POLITICAL CONSULTANT: Absolutely. I think it does two things. One is it reinforces Barack Obama's message, that our political system is broken; when things are so petty and cheap- shotting that you're attacking the candidate's spouse.
But I think more than that, it's exposing the bankruptcy of the Republicans. They're about ready to go into chapter 11. They have nothing left to say positive. They have no agenda. They have no vision for the country. All they can do is attack the guy's wife.
COOPER: Does it allow Barack Obama to look tough though by saying, "Look, lay off my wife." He's coming to her defense. It's not like Dukakis when he was asked about his wife.
ROSEN: He looked good on TV this morning when he was saying it actually. And I sort of chalk this up a little bit also to the education of Michelle Obama. She has to understand as an official surrogate of the campaign, everything she says matters and will be scrutinized. So she is going to be fair game as the words of the Republicans.
COOPER: And this statement -- we're going to hear more about the statement.
ROLLINS: Sure we are. First of all, no one knows very much about either one of these. We know about him because he's been on the campaign trail. But they're really strangers to the political system. He's only been around two years; she's not been around at all. I think people want to know a lot more.
The bottom line is this was not an effective ad. And there will be effective ads and there will be ads that will used that will basically lay out or disagree. There's just plenty of issues that they have to run against Barack Obama and they will be used.
What happens sometimes as a party, and this party in particular, has had two ads. They did it against --- in the Corker race, which they did the Playboy ad that was very controversial. You don't want to hurt your campaign and I think to a certain extent the Republican Party of Tennessee ought to just be very careful what they do from here on out because they're going to be watched.
COOPER: We're going to have more from our panel.
We'll talk a about little bit of dust up in the McCain campaign as a senior adviser steps down after his lobbying ties to Saudi Arabia are revealed.
Across the board, John King is looking at a scenario that could spell big problems for Barack Obama in the general election. We'll be looking across the map at that. We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MCCAIN: Senator Obama has declared and repeatedly reaffirmed his intention to meet the president of Iran without any preconditions likening it to meetings between former American presidents and the leaders of the Soviet Union. Such a statement portrays the depth of Senator Obama's inexperience and reckless judgment.
B. OBAMA: I've made it clear for years that the threat from Iran is grave. But what I've said is that we should not just talk to our friends, we should be willing to engage our enemies as well. That's what diplomacy is all about.
COOPER: John McCain, Barack Obama trading shots once again today on Iran increasingly waging battle as if the primary battle is over. Hillary Clinton of course says otherwise.
But for the moment let's assume that it is over. So how does each man work the math to win in the general election? John King takes us across the board again tonight -- John.
KING: Anderson, both campaigns are now making their electoral college calculations. As Hillary Clinton says she will be the stronger general election candidate. Most Democrats today say maybe but they think Barack Obama will be their nominee.
And here's an interesting look at the map. We start with the Bush-Kerry match up. We assigned the Democrats and Republicans those votes.
Here's what John McCain thinks. That Barack Obama is having a problem with white, working class voters, that he can put Pennsylvania and its 21 electoral votes into play. He thinks maybe over here in Wisconsin, ten electoral votes he might be able to compete for those; Minnesota ten electoral votes - compete for those. And possibly the state of New Hampshire, they like John McCain in New Hampshire. Possibly put that in play.
So remember that number -- 310 or so electoral votes the Republicans think they can compete for against Barack Obama.
Obama of course has a very different view. He looks at the map this way. Maybe he thinks he can hold Pennsylvania, he knows it will be a fight. But he thinks the increased African-American turnout, I can put Virginia; turn a red state blue there.
I'm registering new voters. Let's come out here to Colorado, nine electoral votes; I can turn that blue; maybe down here in New Mexico as well, turn that blue. And then the competition out here, Iowa, he won the caucuses out there; seven there. And maybe, just maybe, a very tougher state for Obama, but maybe Missouri as well. So he comes out with about 280 and they would argue perhaps the state of Georgia down here on an early map with African-Americans, turn it up to around 300. They'll compete in Florida, they'll compete in some of these other states but here's their bare minimum.
They look at it, we can compete in these states. So McCain thinks 320, 330 maybe; Obama thinks 300, give or take a little more. It's May, a long way to go but this is the early map, Anderson. Looking at states like that; 10 or 12 states likely to be the swing states.
COOPER: All right, a lot of states in play. John King thanks.
Time for our strategy session back with our panel; Dan Gerstein, an Obama supporter; Hillary Rosen, a Clinton supporter and GOP strategist, Ed Rollins.
Dan, we just heard John King talk about states that may be in play, in particular, Florida, Pennsylvania. Hillary Clinton makes the argument - look I can deliver those states. I'll have a better time of doing that than Barack Obama. Does she have a point?
GERSTEIN: I don't think so. Ultimately, I don't think it's been persuasive in the best tests without the superdelegates. The superdelegates are the people who, you know, if you're going to say I am your best chance of winning in November, that's going to have the most traction and it's not working.
And I think the reason it's not working is most of those voters that Hillary Clinton are winning are going to vote for the Democratic nominee. This is a change election and Barack Obama is the change candidate and they are not going to vote for a continuation of four more years of the Bush presidency, which is unfortunately what John McCain is going to bring.
COOPER: Hillary, you support Hillary, do you believe that?
ROSEN: I don't think that's right. I actually think that the superdelegates are going to end up supporting Barack Obama because he's a good candidate but mostly because he's going to probably have won the majority of the pledged delegates and they don't want to go against it.
I think the Obama campaign has been pretty effective on pushing on the superdelegates on that issue. I think that you could open up Florida with Hillary Clinton. I think you can open up Ohio with Hillary Clinton. It's a little unclear, we've never won the states that Barack Obama's campaign thinks we're going to win.
Ultimately I think that he can beat John McCain as well of course. But I think that the more traditional electoral map for the Democrats Hillary Clinton is in a stronger position.
COOPER: Ed, if you're John McCain, do you run -- try to run against to the center so if you are running against Barack Obama to try to peel off people? If you make the differences between you and the other candidate less --
ROLLINS: Barack Obama in his two years in the senate has been the most liberal voting senator in the senate. So you take his record and lay a lot of that out that obviously is going to help some of the voters.
The critical thing here and the overarching theme is nice try, kid, you're a nice young man, obviously you're talking about change. But this is a very troubled time. I got 25 years' experience. I understand the military. I understand the national security. That's what that little debate was about there.
And I think if he can pull that off and saying there's a high risk in having someone totally inexperienced being your commander in chief when we're at war, and there's still very grave risk out there, take someone who's got a lot of experience versus someone with no experience, and that --.
COOPER: Does McCain run the risk of being so linked to the Bush administration and basically not proposing really any change in strategy in Iraq or any change in strategy vis-a-vis Iran. That's the criticism Barack Obama is making, saying, "Look, based on what John McCain is promising it is just another four years of status quo."
ROLLINS: He's going to sooner or later kick Bush under the bus and basically talk in terms of this is not a third Bush term, this is a McCain term. Here are the things I would do differently.
He's tried to do some of it this week but he really has to basically talk about leadership skill. And the failure of Bush in the last four years has been a real failure of leadership.
I'm a strong leader. I can make it happen. I can get along with Democrats. I can make a combined foreign policy withdrawal or whatever it may be; what George Bush couldn't do because he was polarizing.
GERSTEIN: I think Ed's absolutely right about what McCain has to do. I just think it's almost impossible for him to do on the two biggest issues of the election are going to be Iraq and the economy.
John McCain is going to double down on George Bush's Iraq policy and he's going to extend the tax cuts and basically embrace all of Bush's economic policies. The country has rejected those policies. For John McCain to run on that I think it's an absolutely losing proposition.
ROSEN: And we saw in the last election when George Bush brought in Dick Cheney and brought in Don Rumsfeld and said, "I've had all this military experience and therefore I'm going to do a good job." I just think voters are going to be cynical about that.
COOPER: What do you think...
ROSEN: ... John McCain has a tough time getting voters the opposite way.
COOPER: Ed, what do you think the lesson of the loss for the Republicans in Mississippi is?
ROLLINS: Well, I think first of all, you've got to start dealing with local issues. You can't nationalize this election for the congressional races. You certainly can nationalize it for the presidential race.
But I think the key thing here is he somehow has to do the balancing act, not alienate the Bush Republicans, because there's still some of them. And reach out and get the independents.
The Independents are going to decide this election. And it's going to be decided like it was in the last one: Ohio, Pennsylvania, states like that.
ROSEN: But Republican House members are running -- are running away from George Bush and running to John McCain. And it's Republican House members who have been carrying George Bush's water. It's going to be very tough for them to have it both ways.
COOPER: Does John McCain have a lobbyist problem? We saw yet another high-profile person taken off his campaign.
ROLLINS: Sure, he does. You basically -- I mean, these are all good people, and they're all friends of mine. But at the end of the day, anything that becomes a distraction to your message when you have...
COOPER: How did he not know -- I mean, how did the guy who...
ROLLINS: He certainly -- he certainly has had warning. People have talked about this for a long period of time.
COOPER: And he's talked about, you know, blasting the lobbyists in Washington.
ROLLINS: For some reason, he thought he could get away with it, and obviously, he can't. And when you have the lobbyist, Tom (ph) left. He was a great, great guy, former member (ph). But he represents Saudi Arabia.
Charlie Black has represented some pretty bad characters around the world. So I think at the end of the day, you know, you've got to make this about you, not about your team. And there's a lot of people that can do those kinds of jobs. And any time they become a distraction to your message and you're spending time defending people on your staff, you're wasting your efforts.
COOPER: We're going to have to leave it there. Ed Rollins, Dan Gerstein, Hillary Rosen, appreciate your time. Thank you very much. Interesting discussion.
Tomorrow on 360, the real story with Florida and Michigan. The Clinton campaign saying they're ahead in the popular vote if you count both states. So is that really true? We're "Keeping Them Honest" tomorrow night on 360.
Up next, we'll take you to Kentucky to a county where people are working as hard as they can just to get by. You may be surprised, though, by who they say they're going to vote for tomorrow. That's in our "Nation Divided" segment.
Also ahead, the polygamist kids. A custody fight like this country has never seen. Today it began: five judges, more than 400 kids; the bizarre scene inside and outside the courtroom. We'll take you there, coming up.
COOPER: Hillary Clinton campaigning today in Kentucky, where she leads Barack Obama heading into tomorrow's primary. All the candidates talk about the most important issues facing Americans right now, the economy, each making promises to fix it, of course.
But their words don't fully tell the story; the people do. An estimated 12 percent of Americans live in poverty, more than 36 million men, women and kids. Tonight we want you to meet some of them. They live in Kentucky, in one of the poorest places in the country. It's a "Nation Divided."
Here's Gary Tuchman.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Next door to a row of boarded- up businesses is one of the more popular lunch spots in Clay County in eastern Kentucky. The cigarette smoke at Pat's Snack Bar is often as thick as the burgers.
You come here for a lunch a lot?
PAULINE CARTER, CLAY COUNTY RESIDENT: Oh, honey, I was raised here.
TUCHMAN: Nothing on the menu is more than $3.50, which for many customers here is a very good thing.
CARTER: We're below poverty, honey. I don't know how much lower we can go.
TUCHMAN: Clay County is the poorest county in the state of Kentucky and one of the poorest in the country. As this county gears up for the Kentucky presidential primary, there's a palpable lack of enthusiasm, because the residents, including the mayor of Manchester, the city that's the county seat, feel forgotten.
MAYOR CARMEN LEWIS, MANCHESTER, KENTUCKY: It's kind of like nobody cares. Nobody cares.
TUCHMAN: The mayor says most people here are unemployed or under employed. Industry just does not want to move to this country in Appalachia. Per capita income is only about $9,700. Esther Curry's total income with federal assistance is $7,600 a year.
ESTHER CURRY, CLAY COUNTY RESIDENT: You're kind of scared to vote for anybody really.
TUCHMAN: How come?
CURRY: Because I think we're first hit (ph).
TUCHMAN: Her companion laughs off the consideration of voting.
JOHN JEWELL, CLAY COUNTY RESIDENT: It don't make no difference. That's why I won't vote. I never have.
TUCHMAN: Their nephew says he can't find work and can't afford the gas to try to find work.
JASON CARPENTER, CLAY COUNTY RESIDENT: I don't feel like none of them are no good, for real. This is like a small town to live. You see how we live and it's never going to change, no matter -- the only way that it's going to change for us is a poor man getting in as president, and it's never going to happen.
TUCHMAN: None of the presidential candidates has campaigned here in Clay County. As a matter of fact, old timers tell us they don't remember a presidential candidate ever coming here.
Among the people we've talked to, there's a consensus that Washington is not overly concerned about them.
Election officials here expect a low turnout for the primary. It's a heavily Republican county. But we don't see a lot of excitement about John McCain. It's more than matched, though, by skepticism of the Democrats.
PAM NAPIER, OWNER, PAT'S SNACK BAR: I don't really know what I think about Obama. I don't. I'm kind of leery of him.
TUCHMAN: And regarding Hillary Clinton...
CARTER: It's Bible. A woman's place is in the home.
TUCHMAN: She has faith in the Bible. Not a lot of faith that a new president will help improve life here.
Gary Tuchman, CNN, Clay County, Kentucky.
COOPER: A "Nation Divided."
Up next, new details about the lives of more than 400 kids taken from Warren Jeffs' Yearning for Zion Ranch. We'll take you inside the biggest custody case in American history. And chaos, terror, heartbreak, all of it caught on tape in a home video that we have just seen today, shot just seconds after the earthquake that devastated central China. All that ahead on 360.
COOPER: In Texas, the biggest child custody battle in American history resumed today in five separate courtrooms. It is literally a legal bottleneck. Hundreds of hearings are on the docket, one for each of the more than 400 kids removed from that polygamist ranch tied to Warren Jeffs. It's going to take at least three weeks for all the hearings, probably longer than that.
We'll have more now right now from CNN's David Mattingly.
DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Walking down the long row of steps from a west Texas court house, FLDS parents James and Sara (ph) Jessop tell me they are weary. The couple's five children, ages 18 months to 9 years, are scattered to foster-care facilities across Texas, from Waco to Houston, to Amarillo, to Liverpool. They figure a single visit to each child is an 1,800-mile journey.
JAMES JESSOP, FATHER: They're used to being together as brothers and sisters. Definitely just very -- another (ph) experience for them.
MATTINGLY: The Jessops are among the first to begin the long process they hope will lead to legal reunification with their children. They agreed to what the state calls a family service plan. Terms include a psychological evaluation and counseling, but timetables and goals are not specific.
JERRI LYNN WARD, JESSOPS' ATTORNEY: This is just like an assembly line where these children are all being treated the same way, without any regard for the particular circumstances as a family.
MATTINGLY: Jessop's five children with wife Sara (ph) and two children with two other wives were taken in a massive raid on the Yearning for Zion Ranch in April. State officials alleged young girls were being forced to marry older adult men. But there's no evidence so far showing any of Jessop's children were abused.
J. JESSOP: There's definitely no signs of abuse. It's just non- relevant to this case.
MATTINGLY: State prosecutors will eventually have to decide if laws were broken and who broke them. But a spokesman for the Texas attorney general says not to expect criminal charges any time soon.
In the meantime, a sect leader says the state's raid is an attack on their religious beliefs.
WILLIE JESSOP, FLDS ELDER: And it's outrageous. If you guys are going to sit around and let the government of this state remove even the Book of Mormon, this doctrine from our children and then say this is not about religion, you're brain dead.
MATTINGLY: Texas child care officials exited the courthouse without comment. Parents will be given a year to convince the state they will be able to protect their children from abuse.
COOPER: David, that family, the Jessops, you profiled in the story, you said they accepted the state's requirements in hopes of reuniting with their kids. Are all the families accepting the state's terms at this point?
MATTINGLY: Every single family I talked to today said that they would do anything it takes to get their children back. We've already heard from some of the mothers at the ranch, saying they are willing to move away from the ranch right now if that's what it takes to expedite this process. But we haven't seen many of them doing that right now.
We've also heard from one woman in court today who said she would do anything as long as it didn't affect her religious beliefs. That's when a judge jumped in and said you do have a right to your religious freedom but not when it breaks the law.
And that, Anderson, has summed up the entire rationale for the state of Texas in this case, dating back to the time they went into this ranch and took all 400 of these kids custody.
COOPER: It's going to be a complicated couple of weeks. David, thanks.
Erica Hill is off tonight. Joe Johns is sitting in, joins us with a "360 News and Business Bulletin" -- Joe.
JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, you can feel the terror on this home video shot seven days ago as that massive earthquake hit central China. This is what it looked like at the precise moment the tremors hit Bechuan where thousands were killed.
Amazingly, rescuers pulled a 61-year-old woman from the rubble today who was still alive after being buried for 164 hours.
Here at home, four police officers will be dismissed for their involvement in the beatings of three suspects in Philadelphia two weeks ago. The suspects were kicked, beaten and punched by at least eight officers following a shooting. Three other officers will be disciplined or demoted.
Criminal charges may still be filed. The FBI and the local prosecutor are investigating.
More pain at the pump is headed your way. For the first time today, crude oil prices climbed past the $127-a-barrel margin. On average, gas prices nationwide are $3.79 a gallon. Although in some cities, the prices have already topped $4. And a surprise for Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, who had several eggs tossed at him by an angry student in Hungary. Ballmer missed being splattered by ducking behind the podium -- Anderson.
COOPER: Really weird. Joe, thanks.
Now time for "Beat 360." In tonight's picture, we see Steven Spielberg, George Lucas and Harrison Ford all pointing at something at the Cannes Film Festival. The question is what are they pointing at?
Our staff winner this evening is Joey with this caption. "Right there in the bleachers. That's the guy who liked 'Phantom Menace'."
Yikes. A scream.
Tonight's viewer winner is Brent, who quipped, "No, George. That's not a mirror, that's Wolf Blitzer."
That's pretty good. As always, you can check out the captions from your fellow viewers by going to cnn.com/360 and clicking on our blog.
Coming up, "The Shot." See what happens when push comes to shove on the Tokyo subway. Yes, they pay people to shove people into subways. That's just a great picture.
COOPER: All right. Time now for "The Shot," Joe. You probably ride the metro down in D.C. I ride the subways here in New York every morning. So this is how rush hour is done in Tokyo.
Take a look. White-gloved pushers...
JOHNS: That's insane.
COOPER: ... cramming commuters onto packed trains. The guy in the rain coat there is just being shoved like that non-stop. It's like the clown car routine, only in reverse. One professional shover starts it. Then the others join in when he needs and extra shove.
I can tell you, this would not go over well in New York City at all.
JOHNS: They should just drive the beltway in Washington.
COOPER: I love that people are willing to, like, be man-handled like that. And then they run to the other door and help where more shoving needs to be done.
COOPER: Completely different way of working there.
And quickly, there's someone else who needs to be shoved, and let's shove that guy's elbow in and break the elbow. And the doors close, and they're off. All right, there you go. That's "The Shot" tonight.
Consider yourself lucky that you don't ride the subway there. You can see all the most recent shots on our Web site: cnn.com/360. You can also see other segments from the program, read the blog, check out the "Beat 360." The address again: cnn.com/360.
And the subway is off.
For international viewers, "CNN Today" is next. Here in America, "Larry King" is coming up.
Thanks for watching. I'll see you tomorrow night.