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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
John McCain's Health; Obama Back from his Middle East Trip; Planet in Peril - Bush Meat; Candidates and Lobbyists; Female Suicide Bombers; TSA Watch List
Aired July 28, 2008 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CAMPBELL BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: We begin with new poll numbers that show a widening gap between the two presidential candidates. In CNN's latest poll of polls, Barack Obama now has a five-point lead over John McCain, 45 percent to 40 percent. That's a gain of about two points since CNN's last poll of polls.
We should point out we have not seen the full effect of his widely-covered overseas trip; we won't see the first entirely post- trip results until about midweek.
But at a fund-raiser tonight Obama sounding very confident. Here's what he told reporters right after.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We are now in a position where the odds of us winning are very good, but it's still going to be difficult.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
BROWN: For his part, John McCain spent much of the day fielding questions about his latest skin biopsy.
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SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: As I do every three months, visited my dermatologist this morning. She said that I was doing fine. Took out a small little nick from my cheek as she does regularly and that will be -- and will be biopsied just to make sure that everything is fine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: The presumptive Republican presidential candidate described the visit that resulted in the biopsy as a routine checkup. McCain, of course, has a history of melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer. He's had it four times.
He's also 71 years old, and if elected, would be the oldest first-term president to take office. All that makes today's biopsy both medical and frankly political news.
In a moment, CNN's Dana Bash is going to bring us up to speed on possible political fallout. But first "360" MD Sanjay Gupta joins us with the medical implications. And Sanjay, Senator McCain, as we mentioned, has a history of melanoma. He's gotten a clean bill of health and you recently reviewed his medical records. Given what you know, how concerned should we be?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well this is the biggest thing in his medical history. There's no question. He's had melanoma four times, three of those times were not very serious but one time it was very serious in 2000.
So any time he has a mole, any time he has an abnormality on his skin, it's going to be more serious than the average person. And now, someone who has had melanoma has a greater likelihood of having melanoma return again. So you have to be very, very vigilant.
But all we know about this at this point, Campbell, as you know, is that it was a suspicious mole. It will take some time to find out if it was anything at all or if the biopsy comes back completely clean or negative as they say.
BROWN: And you said whether -- I guess whether it's positive or negative, how long before you think we'll know and what would probably the recommendation be in terms of how to proceed from there?
GUPTA: What was interesting here you know, he just you know on Larry King's show, he just said he might get those biopsy results back tomorrow, which I thought was interesting and very fast, typically it takes several days. But of course Campbell as you know, we're talking about a presidential nominee here, so a candidate rather.
So it could come back that quickly -- I guess that they sort of rush it. Now, if this is melanoma, and again no one is saying that it is, there's a few things that they have to figure out. Exactly how deep is this melanoma s and as a result of figuring that out, most likely it would be treated with surgery.
And this is a surgical disease typically. And it should be treated that way, it would involve removing some of the skin around that particular area to make sure there are no malignant cells where that mole once was.
And that's sort of the goal of treatment. That's how you treat this disease most effectively to keep it from spreading to other parts of the body.
BROWN: All right, Sanjay Gupta for us tonight. As always Sanjay thanks.
GUPTA: Thank You.
BROWN: Now to the politics of this medical news, CNN's Dana Bash joining me now with that. And Dana, everybody hopes obviously this is really is a routine matter and his health isn't an issue here, but what are you hearing from your sources about political ramifications of this today? DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, politically speaking, Campbell, what I'm hearing is concern. McCain's advisers know full well that this is a reminder to voters that he is a cancer survivor and it's a reminder that he is a candidate who will be 72 years old next month.
He would be the oldest president ever elected and in a poll earlier this month showed a third of voters worry McCain's age would make him less effective. His advisers, -- less effective rather, his advisers Campbell, they're painfully aware of that. And they're aware of the fact that that kind of number is exacerbated any time McCain's health is the subject of discussion, as it is tonight.
BROWN: And Dana, McCain called this a routine checkup, as we said before. But it seemed to you and to a lot of other people covering him to really come out of the blue, didn't it?
BASH: It did come out of the blue and it's kind of perplexing. Barack Obama went to the doctor to get his hip checked out this week. And he took the press corps with him. We didn't find out about what McCain called a routine checkup until after it happened.
And because of that element of surprise and because of course of McCain's history, this overshadowed what McCain aides worked really hard today to stage, and that was sound bites hitting Obama on offshore drilling. Instead, Campbell, that imagery ended up as kind of a bizarre moment with McCain pleading with people to wear sun screen while he was standing on an oil field in the blazing California sun.
So this is really an example I think of how McCain has had some trouble managing how much he's scrutinized as the nominee. But I'm told Campbell tonight, that his campaign is making a change on how he's covered and hope to avoid some of the politically problematic surprises like what occurred today.
BROWN: All right, Dana Bash for us tonight. Dana thanks.
We want to "Dig Deeper" now on the potential political fallout with our panel. We've got CNN senior political analyst and former presidential adviser David Gergen. With us also, Dee Dee Myers, President Bill Clinton's former White House press secretary and the author of "Why Women should Rule the World." and Ed Rollins, CNN senior political contributor and a Republican strategist here with me in the studio.
And Ed, from your perspective, how bad is this in terms of the image that Dana was just talking about coming for John McCain at the beginning of the week after Obama's last week in Europe?
ED ROLLINS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: John had a disastrous week last week and he needed to move this thing forward this week and get on his agenda and obviously -- hopefully this all goes away and it's not very serious.
But it does remind people that he's old. It does remind people that he's had this cancer. And it does remind people that when he wears the hat, or what have you out there, he's lost a day and maybe two or three more days of a very important week.
We don't have much time before the conventions, and so he really had to gain some momentum this week. And I think its more of the loss of momentum and hopefully everything will turn out to be fine. He's tough, he's aggressive. And hopefully, he'll come out in good health. But it certainly slows down the momentum.
BROWN: Taking him off-message. David, do you agree? Talk to us about the broader implications. We just heard from Sanjay that the chance of melanoma recurring very low for McCain, but also what would happen if the biopsy were to come back positive? How does the Republican Party proceed?
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that would be a much tougher situation. Campbell, I think for the moment we should be a little weary of getting too excited about this story. I mean he does have to have routine checkups and it's appropriate that he do that.
I do think it does raise the questions -- re-raise the questions of age. And when he turns 72 during the month of August, I think we're going to have a lot of consideration of that. I think we're going to have an awful lot of consideration in the presidential debate.
When the two candidates stand side by side and you're going to see the biggest age gap we've ever had between presidential candidates, 25 years. People are going to make a judgment about whether they want a man who is mature and experienced to be sure, but is very old for the presidency. Or they want someone who is very young and inexperienced. And I think that's going to be a difficult choice for people.
But can I say the one other thing why we have to be a little careful about what's going on just today, and the next couple of days, on the polls, yesterday we were all sort of taking -- wow, the Gallup poll came out with a nine-point Obama lead.
Today we've had this real curiosity that a Gallup "USA Today" poll comes out with likely voters showing a McCain four-point lead. I mean the same organization, Gallup highly respected, 13 points apart.
BROWN: OK, hold that thought, David. Because we're going to get into that a lot more a little bit later. I just want to stay on this topic.
And Dee Dee, what does Senator McCain need to do going forward, from here? They learned the lesson of today, as Dana said. How do they get back on message and get focused on the economy, which is what they were trying to talk about?
DEE DEE MYERS, AUTHOR, "WHY WOMEN SHOULD RULE THE WORLD": Right, well, one of the interesting things about the last ten days was in Europe, we watched Senator Obama perfectly execute each of his stops. Really being disciplined in choosing a message, choosing a backdrop that reinforced that message and sticking to the point he's trying to make.
And that is a very effective discipline for a candidate and for presidents by the way. And I think what we see is a real contrast off with John McCain.
Now today, the story about his mole and obviously bringing up an uncomfortable series of issues for him was a bit beyond his control. But it reminds us that he's always standing, as Dana Bash said, in a slightly awkward place. He's always resisting being too stage managed.
And as a result, his campaign events are often ineffective, they often are confused. You have an optic today of an oil derrick behind John McCain who is standing in the sun while he's talking to the American people about wearing sun screen.
And I think, again, the difference we've seen in the discipline and the execution between these two campaigns is going to become increasingly important as we go forward in this intensely scrutinized period of the campaign in the coming weeks and months.
BROWN: All right, we're going to have a lot more with the panel when we come back. To join our conversation, go to our new web site, ac360.com and share your thoughts on our blog.
Coming up next, Barack Obama is back in the U.S. from his overseas trip, talking about the economy today. We will look at what he had to say.
Also tonight, Barack Obama and John McCain and the lobbyists. How exactly are their relationships with lobbyists? We'll talk about that as well.
And later, destroying their lives and others. Female suicide bombers, the newest terror tool in Iraq.
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OBAMA: The challenges we're facing could not be more critical. And if we want to meet them, then we can't afford, I believe, to keep on doing the same things that we've been doing over the last several years. We have to change course and then we're going to have to take some immediate action.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: That was Barack Obama back home and on the trail today, turning his attention now to the U.S. economy. He got some unintentional help from government officials who announced today that the budget deficit would soar to record heights next year.
This as Obama met with more than a dozen economic advisers in Washington and publicly blasted the Bush administration and Wall Street for the country's economic woes. His rival John McCain fired back.
CNN's Candy Crowley reports.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It's not the wall in Jerusalem, the Elysees Palace in Paris or 10 Downing Street in London. But this picture is where the voters are.
This is Barack Obama flexing his economic muscle, or as an aide put it, a demonstration to voters of who will be advising him on the economy.
It's a room full of brain power. From businessman Paul O'Neill, who served as George Bush's first-term Treasury Secretary to Labor Leader John Sweeney to former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker.
It's a meeting to help Obama pivot from a trip designed to show his agility on the world stage to the home front, where he needs to show a steady hand to steward a flailing economy.
OBAMA: And this is an emergency that you feel not only just from reading the "Wall Street Journal," but from traveling across Ohio and Michigan, into Mexico and Nevada where you meet people day after day who are one foreclosure notice or one illness or one pink slip away from economic disaster.
CROWLEY: Every state mentioned is a fall battleground. With polls continuing to show voters trust Obama more than John McCain on the economy, the McCain campaign welcomed Obama home trying to rough him up.
Advisers called the Obama meeting just another photo-op, while the candidate toured an oil field and slammed Obama for refusing to support the kind of things that will address one of the major issues troubling voters, the cost of energy.
MCCAIN: So Senator Obama opposes offshore drilling, he opposes reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel. He opposes storage of spent nuclear fuel. And so he's the Dr. No of the America's energy future.
CROWLEY: Even before Obama left Europe at his final press conference in front of 10 Downing Street, he knew this trip might seem off point back home.
OBAMA: We've been out of the country for a week. People are worried about gas prices. They're worried about home foreclosures.
CROWLEY: And it's hard to top pictures with the city of Amman in the background or 200,000 Europeans in the foreground, but today a standard Washington photo-op did just fine.
Candy Crowley, CNN, Chicago.
BROWN: Photo-op or not, Obama is still ahead in the polls. Well, can he keep the lead? Or what can John McCain do to try to turn the tide at this stage? We'll take that up live with our panel, David Gergen, Dee Dee Myers and Ed Rollins is coming up next.
And later, a new twist to the terrorist watch list. There are a lot of questions about how some names got on it. Well, wait until you hear what the government wants to do about it now and what it means for you. That's coming up.
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MCCAIN: In Germany we did not go to Landstuhl. And I can assure that the troops welcome, especially those are gravely-wounded ones, welcomed American senators. And if he had wanted to go with just the staffer, I am confident that he could have gone rather than canceled his trip to see those brave young Americans.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: That was John McCain earlier tonight, on "LARRY KING LIVE", blasting his rival Barack Obama for not visiting wounded American troops while he was in Germany last week.
McCain has been hammering away at this point for days now in interviews and in a tough new television ad. So will these attacks help or hurt McCain.
Joining me again for "Strategy Session" CNN senior political analyst and former presidential adviser David Gergen, also Dee Dee Myers, President Bill Clinton's former White House press secretary and Ed Rollins, CNN senior political contributor and a Republican strategist as well.
And Ed, we just heard him hammering Obama. He's really hitting this one hard. Is he going to get any traction out of this? Or is it a dangerous issue?
ROLLINS: I think the only mistake Obama made in this trip is not going those troops. He should have gone under any circumstances.
And for whatever reason, there was a mixed up and it basically leaves him vulnerable and I think to a certain extent it may be a mis- charge and McCain has to be careful not to overcharge when you make your attacks. But I think it's the one thing that he's a little bit vulnerable on.
And Dee Dee, you said that it's potentially another brick in the wall against Obama and his perceived lack of patriotism.
MYERS: I think Obama does have to be careful of this one. Again, it does fit into a larger picture that I think the Republicans -- some of the operatives are trying to paint of Senator Obama. And I think McCain has to be careful of not getting drawn into this. I was surprised to hear him on television this evening repeating things that I think he knows at this point aren't true, primarily he said -- McCain said earlier that the reason Obama didn't go is because he couldn't take television cameras.
When I think Senator McCain's staff has probably told him by now that Senator Obama never planned to take television cameras. He went and visited wounded soldiers in Iraq without television cameras. He's been here in the United States to visit wounded soldiers without any television cameras.
So he has to be careful overplaying his hand, saying things that he knows aren't true. But it is a vulnerability for Senator Obama. And he better be very careful to rebut it.
BROWN: David, give me your take on this. Is the potential there for this issue to backfire?
GERGEN: I think these charges about not visiting a military hospital are just bunk and impugning Barack Obama's patriotism is unwise and dangerous.
Chuck Hagel, the Republican Senator, is a good friend of John McCain's. He was on that trip and he said this is just nonsense about this hospital. And he called Senator McCain on this. It seems to me that this kind of personal attacks are beneath Senator McCain and they ought to move off it.
And what I did think Barack Obama did, I think he made a couple of mistakes on the trip but overall as Dee Dee said, it was a very, very well executed trip.
And now to come back, I thought he made a very smart move today to sit down and be seen with heavyweights on economic policy, like Paul Volcker and Bob Ruben and Larry Summers. Because there are a lot of people out there, Campbell, especially in the business community, who are nervous about Obama's economic policies and where he may go.
Where he may go on taxes, raising taxes and the like; he needs to have these kind of heavyweights, mainstream heavyweights around him. I think it will fortify him. I thought he was smart to do that.
And right now I think Senator McCain needs to get back to the issues where he can get some traction as he's done on offshore drilling.
BROWN: Let many ask Ed to address what David just said on the issue of the economy. McCain is hitting on that point specifically that Obama quote, "Has only one answer to every challenge, raise taxes." You know, trying to put him and Obama in his response has been trying to put McCain pretty much in the Bush camp. Who if either has an edge on this issue right now?
ROLLINS: Well, no one has an edge today. I think that's the critical thing. I think John McCain has another opportunity, now that Phil Gramm is gone from being his chief economic adviser to come out with a new plan and he's got to be very careful.
He's already talked about the possibility of raising taxes on Social Security and what have you. And to the Republican base they're still not there, still not very enthusiastic.
Social Security is a long-term problem; it's not a short-term problem. And I think the reality is getting this economy moving forward. Energy is a critical issue here. And I think that he can make a lot of mileage out of this. Because Democrats are not quite willing to go up against their environmental compatriots and I think they ought to push that as far as they can. But he has to be careful about adding more things to the dimension at this point in time.
BROWN: Dee Dee, do you think either has an edge on this?
MYERS: I think they're battling it out. I think that again, there's an interesting clue in the optics today.
You saw Senator Obama gathering together a lot of economic leaders, people who really made great contributions to this country with different perspectives. And he was convening this meeting. He was leading the meeting.
And once again, we see Senator McCain out there by himself. I think that's an interesting difference in leadership style that's reinforced almost every day.
In Europe, in the Middle East, you saw Senator Obama bringing people together, standing with others, people with different points of view. And you almost always see Senator McCain alone.
And so I think -- I do think he also -- Senator McCain tends to show a little disinterest when economic issues come up. He's kind of goes through he's talking points but his real passion is ignited really only when speaking about foreign policy.
So I think its dangerous territory for Senator McCain. And I think Senator Obama has a continuing edge on economic policy more broadly, not just because of the circumstances of the current economy, but because of the leadership that I think he's showing in this campaign.
BROWN: All right, guys, we're going to leave it there.
David Gergen, Dee Dee Myers, and Ed Rollins with me here in New York, appreciate it, guys.
Up next, our "Planet in Peril;" endangered animals hunted and killed for food. We'll take you inside an African bush meat market with a "National Geographic" photographer, when "360" continues.
BROWN: If you care about animals, especially endangered species, our next report will be as important as it is disturbing to watch. The current issue of the National Geographic reveals the gruesome world of an African bush meat market in Equatorial Guinea where endangered species are sold for human consumption.
The photos were shot by National Geographic photographers and some are hard to look at. One of the photographers, Joel Sartore, talked to us about the emotions he grappled with while on this assignment, in his own words.
JOEL SARTORE, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC PHOTOGRAPHER: Bush meat as I define it, are wild animals taken from the wild for consumption.
And the sad thing is, as animals get rarer, the more people want them and the more the price goes up. So this business of money driving everything really hastens the demise of some of these species.
The bush meat market is a really terrible place to me. I mean, I'm from Nebraska and I've seen butchering. But this was different. I mean, there were table after table filled with brush-tailed porcupines and pangolins and rats and cats and dikers, which are small antelope, crocodiles and monitor lizards and some of them they would roast alive.
And it was just really one of the worst things that I've ever seen. The first thing you notice is the smell when you go in. Because every animal nearly that's purchased there is taken over to a series of metal tables where the torch men wait.
And so you smell this burning hair, burning flesh everywhere. There's garbage everywhere. And we found out about a restaurant that had a couple of drills welded into a cage made of rebar, there's no getting out.
A drill is very similar to a baboon. I mean it's a big, impressive primate that spends a lot of time on the ground. It's a monkey, but it is a big one. I mean, it's one of the largest in the Africa and also one of the most rare.
They're sitting in piles of plastic wrap and empty bottles and garbage and people throw rocks at them and very cruel. It's just living hell. You can't imagine how bad it is until you're there.
The other key thing to remember is that this is not subsistence hunting. It's cheaper to buy chicken and beef over there. These animals are being sold as a luxury. This bush meat is a luxury.
There are laws on the books now in Equatorial Guinea saying it's illegal to kill or harm or possess parts of any of these endangered primates. The big thing now is to get those laws enforced, to put some teeth into those laws.
My father always says, well, you can't save the earth, son. I mean it's too far gone. And going to a place like the Malabo market, and I don't know if he's right, but I think it's very important that we all keep trying. I mean we can't help but try, right? You can't give up.
BROWN: And the reminder, don't miss our second installment of "Planet in Peril: Battle Lines" airing in December. "360" will be back in just a moment.
BROWN: Money is the oxygen in politics. And since it takes more money than ever before to run for the presidency, following the money is crucial; which brings us to lobbyists. Love, hate, pretty much sums up the relationship candidates often have with lobbyists. While cash keeps the campaign afloat, money from lobbyists can cause political problems.
Tonight, the "Raw Politics," two reports on lobbyists and the presidential candidates. First up, "360's" Joe Johns and John McCain.
JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: To hear John McCain tell it, he's your guy in Washington fighting against the unchecked influence of big businesses and their lobbyists.
MCCAIN: The workers and entrepreneurs of America are taken for granted by their government while the lobbyists and special pleaders are seldom turned away.
JOHNS: But how does that McCain rhetoric square with this? A fancy 2006 soiree of the little known but well-respected international Republican Institute in Washington.
The video from the group's own web site shows the Chairman of AT&T, which had just donated $200,000 to the institute, introducing none other than John McCain who is still Chairman of the Institute's Board.
Remember, at the time, McCain was fresh off of a term as the Chairman of the Senate Committee that regulates telephone companies, like AT&T. AT&T says there were no strings attached to the donation, but that's not always the point.
PROF. LARRY SABATO, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA: Access is the name of the game. It's getting in the door to see the candidates so you can make your case. Sometimes you don't even need to see the candidate, you just talk to staff members of the people who influence the candidate's decision.
JOHNS: OK, so which is it? Is he the scourge of the system in Washington that rewards lobbyists and their wealthy bosses or is he the guy who hobnobs with and therefore might somehow be influenced by the very interests he says he's trying to root out? Answer: both.
Smart politicians know that tough talk on lobbyists sounds good to the public, but the reality is players at this level can't live without them.
SABATO: They work with lobbyists; they have staffers who've been lobbyists. They are going to depend on lobbyists for a lot of the information for the decisions they make if they get elected.
JOHNS: The group IRI that held the event McCain attended gets just about all of its money from the federal government to do things like promote democracy around the world and help governments run more efficiently. It's a cause McCain believes in.
A former IRI staffer who also worked for the last McCain presidential campaign says that while the IRI event may have brought McCain and the lobbyist together, there was never any kind of a quid pro quo.
TODD HARRIS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: There has never been a single time when someone gave money and said this is what I want in exchange.
JOHNS: Still, part of McCain's campaign message is very much about going off against the special interests and simply by raising questions about McCain's relationships with lobbyists, the Democrats are hoping they're also raising seeds of doubt.
Joe Johns, CNN, Washington.
BROWN: Change is a theme of Barack Obama's presidential campaign. And that's impacted his relationship to lobbyists. He's promised not to take money from lobbyists but does that mean that big money isn't coming into his campaign?
"360's" David Mattingly focuses on the "Raw Politics" of a less obvious approach to lobbying called bundling and how that's shaping the Obama campaign.
DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The Obama campaign is an extraordinary money machine; especially impressive because it made an unprecedented pledge, no money from lobbyists.
OBAMA: I don't believe we can take on the lobbyists if we keep on taking their money.
MATTINGLY: It sounds like out with the old days of big lobby money and in with the small donor. In fact, campaign figures show 94 percent of the money going to Obama comes from people writing checks for $200 or less. Sounds good, right?
But some political observers say that does not mean lobbyists have been locked out. They could still have influence.
LISA LERER, THE POLITICO: Just because you don't take money from lobbyists, of course, does not mean you're not taking money from big business.
MATTINGLY: The Center for Responsive Politics estimates Obama has taken $18.8 million from lawyers and law firms; some that employ lobbyists or special interest clients. One of the big rewards for big lobby contributors was access to the White House if your candidate won.
But some say where lobbyists are out of campaigns, they've only been replaced by so-called bundlers.
Bundlers are deep pocket contributors who work to get others to reach into their deep pockets to give the maximum allowable individual contribution. This creates huge bundles of cash.
The Obama campaign says it does use bundlers. This e-mail obtained by CNN shows a top dollar Obama fund-raiser definitely acting like one. The e-mail promised a private meeting with Obama for Iranian-Americans if the group could raise $250,000.
SHEILA KRUMHOLZ, CENTER FOR RESPONSIVE POLITICS: We know that Barack Obama has raised at least $52.2 million from bundlers or about 18 percent of his overall receipts.
MATTINGLY: The Obama campaign says the e-mailer was wrong to make that promise and fell short of the stated dollar goal. A spokesman says the candidate spoke to the group for 15 minutes, pausing for handshakes and photos. In fact, the campaign now seems to want to make sure everyone at least has a chance to meet the candidate.
OBAMA: If you make a donation in any amount by July 31st, even just $5, you could be selected to come to Denver to attend the Convention and even join me backstage.
MATTINGLY: And that is the all-time perk behind any contribution.
David Mattingly, CNN, Washington.
BROWN: Next on "360," four suicide attacks with one thing in common, the bombers were women. We're going to take a closer look at this deadly trend.
Also ahead, new questions about the TSA's terror watch list. They say CNN's Drew Griffin isn't on it. So why does he keep getting stopped every time he flies?
He's "Keeping them Honest" when "360" continues.
BROWN: As Senators Obama and McCain spar over what's next in Iraq, the country's relative calm was being shattered. Suicide attacks, three in Baghdad, one in Kirkuk today; killed at least 70 people and injured dozens more. It was one of the deadliest days in Iraq this year. And it was carried out by four female suicide bombers; a terror tactic used to deadly precision just a few months ago.
CNN's Ara Damon now explains.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ARA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: March 17th, a busy street in the Iraqi city of Karbala. A security video captures a woman dressed in flowing black robes. A bomb she is carrying explodes, killing more than 50 people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: If the conditions are improving in Iraq, why are women becoming weapons, killing themselves and taking scores of innocent lives with them?
We want to talk about that now with CNN national security analyst Peter Bergen.
Peter thanks for joining us tonight. I just want to get your take on the significance, what you think it is of these latest attacks being done by women.
PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well Campbell, this is part of a trend that has been going on for some time. The first female suicide attacker showed up in Iraq November 9th, 2005. She in fact was Belgian; conducted a suicide attack on an American convoy.
But she was the beginning of a trend that unfortunately has increased. We've seen a large number of female suicide attackers. One of the reasons that Al Qaeda is deploying these female suicide attackers now is that the flow of foreign fighters into Iraq has decreased rather significantly.
I was in Iraq some months back and, you know, a year ago, 120 foreign fighters, many of them volunteering for suicide missions who were coming into Iraq. Now that flow has gone down to about 25 a month.
So when you don't have the foreign fighters volunteering to be suicide bombers coming into Iraq, you're turning now to females, occasionally to teenagers and others who can do these kinds of operations, Campbell.
BROWN: At one point it was taboo for women to be used in combat. Is that essentially what's changed?
BERGEN: Well, I think that has changed. Obviously, needless to say Al Qaeda in Iraq is a bunch of misogynists who don't have a very high regard for women. But for the tactical reasons they are willing to use women in these suicide operations. We've seen that with the Chechens, with the so-called black widows in the '90's in the former Soviet Union. We've seen that also with certain Palestinian groups using women and now we're seeing some of the Jihadi -- the global Jihadi groups increasingly turning to women as suicide attackers or people that they'll employ in it.
BROWN: But Peter, I think we've often heard that women are motivated in many of these cases by revenge. They want to avenge the death of a loved one. But there seems to be some evidence in some of these cases of women being used unwittingly.
BERGEN: Yes, well, certainly there was a famous case in the Baghdad market a few months back when two women with some form of mental deficiency were sent into the market and blew themselves up and killed something like 100 people.
So -- but I think that is not necessarily true of all these cases and revenge does seem to be one of the motives. That was also the case in Chechnya with the so-called black widows, Campbell.
BROWN: Often women in Iraq pass through the checkpoints without being searched because it's considered improper to pat down a woman. Do you think the procedures at many of these checkpoints need to change to adapt to this new reality?
BERGEN: Well, of course. And one of the kinds of policies we're going to see is an attempt to bring in more daughters of Iraq, similar to the sons of Iraq, so people who can check women going into markets and these sorts of things. But clearly there aren't enough of those women yet to do those kinds of operations.
BROWN: All right, Peter Bergen, always appreciate your expertise. Peter, thank you.
BERGEN: Thank you.
BROWN: If your name is on the government's watch list, is your name, rather, on the government's watch list? If so, you could be in for an unwelcome surprise the next time you go to the airport. But now the government wants to end those headaches.
The plan is new. Is it improved? We are "Keeping them Honest."
And then later, road rage, a cop takes out a bike rider on the streets of New York.
And Anderson goes swimming with great white sharks. It is a "Shot of the Day" you're not going to want to miss.
BROWN: Tonight, an update on the story that has people talking and people angry. It's about the Transportation Security Administration's watch list.
The ACLU says it has grown to about a million names. Among them, CNN Special Investigations Unit correspondent Drew Griffin and he's not the only one caught on the list. So are lawyers, even Congressmen.
While no government agency seems able to fix it, the TSA has decided to put more pressure on cash-strapped airlines asking them to store passenger's dates of birth.
But that's not all. "Keeping them Honest" tonight, here's Drew's report.
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS UNIT CORRESPONDENT: With Congress now bearing down on watch list mistakes, the Transportation Security Administration will look for help from the airline.
Along with asking airlines to store dates of birth on travelers, the TSA wants air carriers that count how many passengers are stuck on the watch list; or to go to ticket counters to verify who they are rather than quickly getting tickets online or checking in at a kiosk.
That has been happening to Jim Robinson, who has been stopped every time he flies for the last three years, even though he's a former Assistant Attorney General. And to me, since CNN began airing reports critical of the TSA.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're on the watch list.
GRIFFIN: The TSA insists I'm not on a watch list even though just last week I was stopped again and told I was as I checked in for a flight to Detroit. TSA also says, it is "actively exploring enforcement action against Air Carriers who inaccurately tell passengers they are watch listed."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're on a watch list.
GRIFFIN: A watch list?
What does the financially-strapped airline industry say about the TSA's proposals? The Air Transport Association told us "the airlines have been given assurances for more than four years that TSA would soon be taking over responsibility for vetting passenger names against government watch lists."
It hasn't happened yet. The TSA says next year. So the airlines are waiting but Congress may not.
Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee has written a letter to Homeland Secretary Michael Chertoff demanding solutions. She says 32,000 people have written to Homeland Security demanding to get off the list they are apparently mistakenly on.
REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE, (D) TEXAS: I want the burden of clearing this up to be on the agencies that are the holders of the responsibility, the Department of Homeland Security, the Secretary of the Department and the Attorney General of the United States of America.
GRIFFIN: Along with clearing up the list, Congresswoman Jackson Lee wants to know how some people got on it in the first place.
LEE: Frankly, I also want to know, why you curiously wound-up on a list after you did an investigation that asked questions about the United States Air Marshall.
GRIFFIN: If this is just a case of mistaken identity, we have asked the FBI if CNN's audience can help catch the real terrorists. Specifically, CNN has asked for the names, photos and location of any suspected terrorists using either the names James Robinson or Drew Griffin.
The FBI refused saying, they're policy is not to discuss individuals on or not on the watch list.
BROWN: Unbelievable story. And Drew with me now. Drew, last week, Homeland Security Director, Michael Chertoff said, if you wanted to be get off this list, you should go see the Inspector General of Homeland Security about it, did you?
GRIFFIN: Yes. He said that in the congressional hearing, of course we did. I want to get off this list. But the Inspector General's office told us, "Hey, they don't investigate individual complaints of people," and basically told us to go elsewhere.
BROWN: So what's going on? I mean do you think it's bureaucratic confusion on all counts?
GRIFFIN: It's hard to tell and that's what Congresswoman Jackson Lee is trying to figure out, Campbell. Now they've had two, we've had the head of the TSA and the Head of Homeland Security both go to the congressional hearings and blame somebody else for all of this.
Jackson Lee is trying to figure out who manages this watch list and who can get people off the watch list. Right now, people like me, I'm stuck and so are apparently, thousands of other people and we don't seem to be able to have a way off. And that is the problem.
BROWN: All right. Well, stay on it, as I know you will.
Drew Griffin for us again tonight. Drew as always thanks.
Coming next, Anderson's shark adventure; we take you into the ocean, it is our "Shot of the Day."
But first Randi Kaye joining us again with the 360 Bulletin -- Randi.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We can't get enough of that picture of Anderson in there with the sharks.
A New York police officer who body-checked a bicyclist at a Time Square demonstration has been assigned to desk duty and stripped his badge and gun. On Friday, the officer, as you can see stepped in the biker's path and slammed him to the ground. Look at that.
A "360" follow a Louisiana grand jury will hear the case against former cop Scott Nugent, who tasered a man to death in January. The victim was handcuffed and tasered nine times. Nugent attorney says he was following proper police procedure.
And here's that incredible video from New Mexico, ravaging floodwaters churned up by Hurricane Dolly sent this house on an unexpected cruise along the Rio Ruidoso. Several deaths are also blamed on that flooding. But look at that house go.
BROWN: Yes, mysterious video.
OK, now our "Beat 360" winners. It is our daily challenge to viewers; a chance to show up our own staffers by coming up with a better caption for the picture we post on our blog everyday.
Tonight's picture, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, there she is doing a TV interview in New York today, for her new book. Our staff winner tonight, Kelly and her caption, "OK, you're on in 3, 2... What do you mean you forgot your glasses?"
Our viewer winner is Charlie, from Orlando and his caption. "Speaker of the House Pelosi ignores a producer's plea to pay attention to the people on her right."
Clever. Charlie, your "Beat 360" T-shirt is on the way.
And you can check out all the entries we received on our blog and play along tomorrow by going to our new web site at ac360.com.
The "Shot" is next, Anderson's adventure with great white sharks, his view from under water coming up.
BROWN: All right, Randi, time now for the Shot.
Anderson is off tonight but he's not exactly taking it easy. He is diving off the coast of South Africa and getting "Up Close" with great white sharks for our latest "Planet in Peril" investigation.
Let's take a look.
OK this is pretty incredible. This is from his underwater journey. Anderson, very brave to get within a few inches of a great white but we'll let him explain what it's like.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: It's actually not as scary as one might think. You'll hear the silence of it when you're under water. But probably it would scared you or just kind of marveling at the size and strength and the grace of this animal. That's fantastic. That's really cool.
BROWN: Yes, really cool. Really cool. That was fantastic.
KAYE: I don't think I'd be admiring the strength and the grace. Look at that. I could see the strength there.
BROWN: It's not as scary as you think? We're going to have that -- we're going to have a serious conversation about this when he returns from his travels.
OK. Much more from Anderson, tomorrow night on "360."
And you can see much more on his shark adventures on our web site at ac360.com.
That does it for us for this edition of "360."
I'm Campbell Brown, in for Anderson Cooper. Thanks for watching.
"LARRY KING" starts right now.