Return to Transcripts main page
ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Obama, Clinton Discuss Secretary of State Post; Bailout Nation; California Brush Fire; The Mummy Religion
Aired November 14, 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 begin tonight with "Breaking News." Big news about who Barack Obama wants to be the next Secretary of State. We've learn today, that President-elect Obama met secretly over the last two days with two former rivals on the campaign trail, Senator Hillary Clinton, and Governor Bill Richardson.
And multiple sources tell to CNN that Clinton and Obama had quote, "serious discussions yesterday in Chicago" and today Obama met with Richardson. We're told that Obama was gauging Senator Clinton's interest of being Secretary of State. And she was led to believe the ball is now in her court.
So why then meet with Richardson? From what we're hearing, he will be a strong candidate for the post, if Clinton says, she's not interested.
Candy Crowley has the "Breaking News."
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Did she say yes? No way she'll say it in public.
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON, (D) NEW YORK: Let me just say that I'm not going to speculate or address anything about the President-elect's incoming administration.
CROWLEY: People who know the Senator from New York believes she would accept if offered the Secretary of State spot.
The wow factor would be enormous, but she is an "on the one hand on the other hand possibility." Widely popular overseas, Clinton could deal with patching up international relations while the President wrestles with the economy. Or her popularity makes her seem like the overseas President. Or the selection makes him look confident.
Joe Biden wanted to be the go-to foreign policy guy. Or the two like each other. She would offer a strong voice for a President who clearly wants to put together an all-star cabinet.
And there is the other Clinton, whose broad and deep relationships with many heads of state as well as global initiatives he's dedicated to. Or importantly, did some foreign contributions help build the Clinton library does any of it make for conflict of interest if his wife becomes Secretary of State?
And then there's this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's 3:00 a.m. And your children are safe and asleep. But there's a phone in the White House and is ringing -- something is happening in the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CROWLEY: A Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would be the same person who blistered her commander-in-chief with a crushing ad suggesting he wasn't up to the job. She called him naive, sniffing at the suggestion he would meet with the leaders of hostile nations without preconditions. And he demeaned the experience she claimed as a former First Lady.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: My experience is grounded in understanding how the world sees America from living overseas and traveling overseas and having family beyond our shores.
And it's that experience, that understanding not just of what world leaders I went and talked to in the Ambassadors' house who I had tea with.
CROWLEY: On the other hand, it is amazing what rivals put behind them when a mutually beneficial opportunity arises and the President-elect seems enamored of the idea. He loves that book about the Lincoln Cabinet, written by Doris Kearns Goodwin.
OBAMA: One of my heroes is Abraham Lincoln. And awhile back, there's a wonderful book written by Doris Kearns Goodwin, called "Team of Rivals" in which talked about how Lincoln basically pulled in all the people who had been running against him into his cabinet because whatever personal feelings there were, the issue was, how can we get this country through this time of crisis? And I think that has to be the approach that one takes whether it's Vice President or Cabinet.
CROWLEY: Is it for real? The most telling hint is the silence from Obamaland. They are not denying the story.
COOPER: Candy Crowley joins us now.
So let's just be clear on exactly what we know, and what we don't know. He has not officially said, will you be the Secretary of State, but it never really works that way. He sort of sussed her out because he doesn't want to ask her and then have it be rejected, is that correct?
CROWLEY: Well, right. Because there have in the past been for instances when people have asked, when a President-elect has asked someone to be in their cabinet and the person says no and somehow that leaks out. And you don't really want to have that.
So, yes, you want to be just like a lawyer. You want to make sure you know what the answer is before you ask it.
On the other hand, they are saying, yes, these Democratic sources are saying he was simply trying to find out if she would take it if he offered it. And sort of adding to that I'm told by a source about today's meeting with Bill Richardson; the source says it was clear that Hillary Clinton selection was not a done deal.
COOPER: But would the Richardson meeting be that he's an equal rival for the job with Hillary Clinton or that if Hillary Clinton didn't take it or didn't signal that she was interested in taking it he would be very high on the list? We know?
CROWLEY: It was unclear to me. No, we don't know. Bill Richardson obviously has credentials which are amazing, including being the U.N. ambassador, including being a troubleshooter in the Middle East and other dangerous spots but it's not always about the resume.
He clearly has a heavier resume than Hillary Clinton but she again has that kind of wow factor and that recognition overseas that may help in terms of healing international relations.
So we'll see. We just know that he came away with the impression that it's not a done deal.
COOPER: All right Candy, thanks. And Candy stick around. Joining us now for "Digging Deeper" and not only Candy but CNN senior political analyst and former presidential adviser, David Gergen and "New York Daily News" columnist Errol Louis.
David, what do you think? Does Hillary Clinton want this? Should she want it?
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I think two things, Anderson. It's unimaginable that Barack Obama would have had her come to Chicago unless he intended to make her the first choice. And it's also unimaginable that she would go to Chicago unless she was seriously interested in the job.
COOPER: There's no way he would float this to her saying, might you be interested, and then take it back and say, I'm not going to offer it to you. I mean, it seems like if he's floating it at all, that's more or less he's offering it to her.
GERGEN: Exactly right. Because if Anderson, he cannot dangle this and then say no to her and because after dissing her in effect for the Vice Presidency and then this, too, that would be a huge riff not only with her but with large sections of the Democratic Party.
So I just have to believe that this is number one choice but he's also putting himself in a place where he has a backup in Bill Richardson, and possibly John Kerry or others. But I do think the team of rivals notion, it's not lost upon Barack Obama that Abraham Lincoln asked not only his biggest rival but his biggest rival was the Governor and Former Senator of New York, William Seward.
And when they came in, everybody said, how can they make this work? And Lincoln because he was the President could bend Seward to his will. And once he did that, they became the two closest people in the cabinet and Seward became his closest friend and partner in governing. And think about that possibility for Barack Obama.
COOPER: Errol, it brings up the question then, what do you think the relationship is like between these two? I mean, they are at heart politicians and pragmatists.
ERROL LOUIS, NEW YORK DAILY NEWS COLUMNIST: Well that's right. And they've got a lot in common. Both of them want to be in the main currents of history. Both of them want to be moving across the world stage making the big decisions that are going to determine the fate of the country over the next few years.
And compared to that, you know, some spat during a primary competition really means almost nothing. And I think both see themselves as enhancing one another. There's a real possibility they could fall into some sort of some synergy, kind of a mutual admiration society.
COOPER: Candy, how much -- and I know there's a lot we don't know. And this is based on reporting from you and Gloria Borger and Jessica Yellin and others; folks who have been doing this for the last couple of days, do we know what the timetable for Hillary Clinton making a decision is?
CROWLEY: No. I have no idea about that. They are not talking about that actually inside the Clinton camp nor so far as I can see inside the Obama camp.
So obviously this is not something they'd announced on a weekend and so I can pretty much reassure you that it's not going to happen over the weekend.
Look, this is one of the key positions that they wanted to roll out early. And I think probably keeping the speculation going may not be all that helpful and perhaps we will get it soon. We were told we could get some before the end of November, but I don't know her time schedule.
COOPER: All right, we're going to have more with Candy and Errol Louis and David Gergen. You've got to stay with us for a moment.
We'll also take a look at how Clinton-Obama got to this point, "Digging Deeper" into their relationship. And also as I say with our panel.
Let us know what you think about the idea. Our viewers are talking right now online, our live chats going at ac360.com. And check out the Erica Hill's live web cast during the break as well.
Also tonight, a down day on Wall Street and the big three carmakers begging for a bailout. Can we really afford to become a bailout nation?
Plus, what really happened when Michelle Obama and Laura Bush met behinds closed doors at the White House. We've seen the photo. What did they actually talk about? Well, tonight, Laura Bush is speaking out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: I'm very happy there is so much press attention and interest in transit, especially guesses about my own. But in the off chance that you're not here for this important issue and are here for some other reason, let me just say that I'm not going to speculate or address anything about the President-elect's incoming administration.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: That's how Hillary Clinton began her remarks today with the meeting with the transit officials in Albany, New York. What did you expect her to say? Of course she's not going to give anything away, even as the buzz about her becoming the next Secretary of State is growing.
At least two things are certain though. The Clinton name carries a lot of currency in Washington, no doubt about that and around the world and despite the often bitter primary, Senator Clinton has made good on her promise to help Barack Obama win the election.
Let's take a look now at the relationship and more on the "Breaking News" with Randi Kaye.
CLINTON: Enough with the speeches.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: If you listen to Hillary Clinton, in the primaries it might be hard to imagine why she would now consider becoming Secretary of State for Barack Obama. Just for starters, when asked at the CNN debate in South Carolina last year whether they'd meet with leaders of rogue foreign countries, Obama said yes; Clinton no.
CLINTON: We're not going to just have our President meet with Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez and the President of North Korea.
KAYE: The next day Clinton called Obama's position irresponsible and naive. Obama struck back saying the only thing that was irresponsible and naive was voting to authorize the Iraq war. As she did, he opposed it. Old news says some.
HILARY ROSEN, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, HUFFINGTONPOST.COM: I don't think that they have major differences on policy issues. Their difference on the war was many years ago and since then they have really come together.
KAYE: A long way and a lot closer together. Their positions on troop withdrawals are now very similar. During the campaign, Hillary Clinton trumpeted her experiences overseas as First Lady and questioned Obama's readiness to lead.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's 3:00 a.m. And your children are safe and asleep.
KAYE: Remember Clinton's 3:00 a.m. ad? Some political experts say it cost him the Ohio primary.
ROSEN: I think any relationship at this high level has to be based on trust and on mutual respect. You know, he wants the best talent he can find.
KAYE: The problem Hillary Clinton now faces is what she wants to do.
After a life-changing campaign, does she really want to return to Capitol Hill as the Junior Senator from New York? She has huge name recognition overseas and signaled this week that she might consider doing something new. When asked if she'd serve in an Obama administration, she said --
CLINTON: Let me just say that I'm not going to speculate or address anything about the President-elect's incoming administration.
KAYE: The true nature of their relationship is not known, but Clinton campaigned relentlessly for Obama.
CLINTON: Now is the time to close the deal for Barack Obama.
KAYE: Sixty campaign stops in all, including this show of unity in Unity, New Hampshire.
OBAMA: I've admired her as a leader. I've learned from her as a candidate. She rocks. She rocks.
KAYE: What would the relationship be like between Secretary of State Clinton and President Obama?
ROBERT ZIMMERMAN, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE: I think Hillary Clinton's greatest strength is that she's a coalition builder. He's going to be very focused on the economy in his first term without question.
And that's going to be a major, major issue, the domestic agenda. And she brings instant credibility to the international agenda. So I think her ability to build coalitions, her ability to bring together, build strong teams I think is going to be a major advantage.
KAYE: Advantages Barack Obama may have seen all this time but may only now be ready to capitalize on.
Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.
COOPER: Let's "Dig Deeper" with CNN's senior political analyst and former presidential adviser, David Gergen, and once again Candy Crowley and CNN contributor and "New York Daily News" columnist, Errol Louis.
David, what about the calculations that Hillary Clinton is making about now? I mean, if she takes this job, she could get fired one day and then she's out of a job. And then there's also questions about her future political opportunities. What do you think is the calculus going on?
GERGEN: Well, I think first of all Anderson, she has to decide about whether she wants to stay in the senate. And as Randi Kaye said, being a junior senator, she's not the committee chairman, she's not in the leadership, and she may have to wait a number of years to do that.
That's not necessarily a really exciting role for her. It may be too tame for her after the campaign. So the Secretary of State thing would obviously give her an alternative that would be very exciting.
The second thing, she really has to sit down with her husband and work through where does this leave him? After all, he's very deeply involved in the Clinton Global Initiative, doing good around the world. Could he continue to do that? Would he have to shut it down? Could he take money from people? There are lots of secondary questions.
But I think what really appeals to her -- one of the reasons she wanted to be President, why she did want to direct the foreign policy of the United States, she wanted to set a new direction. And this would give her that part of the action. She would be subordinate and she'd have to work in a team setting, but even so Secretary of State -- we've had great Secretaries of State like George Marshal and Dean Acheson who have been remembered as enormously creative.
And you know, one of the last presidents who thought he was going to get a Noble Peace Prize, Richard Nixon saw it go to his Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger. So there are a lot of things that are appetizing about that for someone who wants to have a creative role.
COOPER: Errol, according to Politico, 31 of the 47 people so far named to these transition staff to the post have ties to the Clinton administration. Does this contradict Barack Obama's message of change?
LOUIS: No, not really. Listen, a lot of them were junior staffers the first time around. They're coming back, they're moving up, they're making careers. I think that it in no way makes it seem as if this government in waiting that was assembled is not going to be 100 percent loyal to Barack Obama.
And one thing I wanted to mention. You know, you showed some of the footage of Hillary Clinton in upstate New York. She does not see herself spending the rest of her days in public service dealing with transportation officials about bus and train service in rural upstate New York.
And to watch all the people many of whom used to work for her going into government and rising up in the ranks, I mean, she's going to want part of that action, too.
COOPER: Candy, what about this meeting on Monday with Barack Obama and John McCain? What do we know about it? CROWLEY: Well, we know that it was put together, arranged by Rahm Emanuel, who is Obama's Chief of Staff, and Senator Lindsey Graham, who is sort of a best bud of John McCain. And they know each other, they like each other. They have a longtime relationship. And the two of them got this ball rolling.
This looks to me because of that and since both of them will be in on that meeting that this is less about cabinet positions and more about bipartisan reach-out and that sort of thing, reaching out to Republicans.
The two do have in common climate change and ethics reform, and clearly John McCain could be helpful in the senate for Barack Obama. And in fact, Obama has already mentioned that. So there maybe some of that discussion, but it just doesn't have that cabinet feel to it.
COOPER: David, is this common though, for two rivals on this level to meet in the transition?
GERGEN: There's certainly precedent for it; Richard Nixon and John Kennedy in a very tough battle, coming together afterwards. There have been other times. There also have been times when there have been frosty relationships.
But I think that McCain has shown a certain gracefulness and grace and generosity here as the vanquished going to the victor. It's as if the defeated general is going to the victorious general and presenting his sword.
And I think it's far more about the symbolism, as Candy is right, than about a cabinet position, but I do think Barack Obama would have -- it would be in his interest to talk to John McCain. I want you to keep talking to me about Iraq and Iran.
I want you to be at the table in a conversation because what he does not want to do is set up the Republicans, and one of the reasons I think he's talking about Bob Gates staying at Defense. And can you imagine Hillary Clinton and Bob Gates? That's a very strong pair.
That he does not want to have the Republicans set up as a critic's corner that everything he does is second-guessed and he's accused of weakness. He's much better-off bringing McCain into the conversations.
COOPER: Again, it's the "team of rivals" idea I guess.
COOPER: Errol Louis, Candy Crowley, David Gergen, appreciate it. Thank you very much. Have a great weekend.
LOUIS: You too.
COOPER: Still ahead on the program tonight -- the big three automakers are clamoring for a bailout. Will they get a lifeline? Should they? And how many more troubled companies and even cities can the government afford to help? Some tough answers for hard times.
And Bill Ayers speaking out for the first time since his name became a weapon in the election; talking about his violent past and more, ahead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS, (D) MARYLAND: They hear about the bailouts of Wall Street. They hear that their tax dollars are being paid to AIG and these people going on these junkets and all that. They hear all of that.
But they feel like it's ring around the rosy. They hear a lot of nice talk, but they still are being put out of their houses.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Anger over the bailout. Maryland Congressman Elijah Cummings is grilling the architect of the Treasury Department's rescue plan, Assistant Secretary, Neel Kashkari.
This Monday, the senators are going to take up the auto industry's plea, the big three car makers want $25 billion to help them stay in business.
Tomorrow President Bush hosts the Global Economic Summit in Washington, 15 members of the European Union are now in a recession.
Meanwhile tonight, the Mayors of Atlanta, Philadelphia and Phoenix are asking for some of that $700 billion bailout money. They say they need the cash just to keep their cities running. Back in the 1970s when New York City asked for help bailing its bills, check out this headline.
"Ford to City: Drop Dead," did not exactly go well. Today the Dow Jones fell more than 300 points, ending the week down five percent. Lots to talk about tonight. It's "Our Money, it's Our Future."
Joining us is CNN senior business correspondent, Ali Velshi and CNN's Richard Quest across the pond.
Ali, how about that, three major U.S. cities is asking for a share of the bailout saying in a letter to Secretary Paulson today that they're bearing the brunt of the crisis.
ALI VELSHI, CNN SENIOR BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, it's kind of interesting. They're asking for some $50 billion, it's the Mayors of Phoenix, of Atlanta and of Philadelphia. Kind of interesting because, typically that's not how cities raise money when they get into trouble.
What they do is they cut services, they raise taxes, they sell bonds. They ask the state for help. They're going right to the front of the line; they're going to the federal government. And that's kind of a bit of the problem, Anderson, because at this point with that $700 billion with the fact that the Treasury has sort of turned around and said, none of what they initially thought the bailout money was going to be used for is now going to be used for the same purposes.
There are a lot of people getting in line. So you have the cities, you've got the automakers and you've got a lot of confused taxpayers saying, is this what this money was supposed to be for -- Anderson.
COOPER: Well, also Ali I mean, Harry Reid now wants to take of the vote next week on emergency loans to the big three automakers as part of the government rescue plan. There's certainly a lot of controversy over this.
Let's talk a little bit about what's at stake and why there's the resistance.
VELSHI: $25 billion is what the automakers want; this is Ford, Chrysler, and General Motors. Harry Reid and the Senate Democrats do tend to support this idea, so do House of Representatives Democrats.
The Republicans are not in love with this idea. The White House doesn't think it's a great idea. But the incoming administration, the Obama administration, does support the bailout.
Here's the controversy. It's a big industry, the auto industry in the United States, employs a lot of people, directly and through support services and suppliers. The question is this, they have burned through so much money over the last few years, is there some sense that if they were to get this money something would be different?
There are a lot of people who would say, let's tie it to restructuring the business. Let's tie it to becoming more green and more fuel efficient, and getting hybrid batteries developed things like that. Others are saying, if you just give them the money at this point, they could burn through it.
And the experience with the $700 billion bailout Anderson, is that if we don't get this all worked out at the front end, taxpayers have no control over it at the back end.
COOPER: Richard Quest here in Washington, I thought you were in London, but you're obviously down in Washington, to cover this economic summit meeting. Obviously this is affecting people and not just in the United States, serious ripple effects around the globe. I was stunned to hear that a reporter said the European Union is now in recession.
RICHARD QUEST, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The Euro Zone, Anderson, is in the first recession of its ten-year history, only France is managing to sort of show growth. And it's just a tenth of one percent. It is pathetic in the extreme.
But that really doesn't tell the whole story. Unemployment in Britain up 5.8 percent and expected to go over three million; the worst for 11 years. The housing market in the U.K. absolutely destroyed beyond belief. And wherever you look in the world at the moment, I'm sorry to say, there is a feeling that much of the blame does lie at the door of the U.S. and the U.S. administration for the way the markets have been regulated. It is in that context that these 20 leaders or so have come to Washington this weekend with a certain amount of, right, you got us into this, now lead us out of it.
COOPER: What do we expect to come out of this meeting in Washington? I mean, there are going to be a lot of pictures. Is there actually going to be any substance?
QUEST: I think there'll be an agreement on the fiscal stimulus coordinated so you get absolute maximum bang for the buck. But what's really crucial is a philosophical difference of opinion between the Europeans who really are saying to the administration, listen, regulation, more regulation, better regulation.
And the administration which is saying, it's not broken. President Bush actually said it doesn't need to be reinvented. But of course, and the reason this is so important this weekend is they're getting it on the agenda.
Bush may be a lame duck President, but they do know if they get their oar in first they'll get their message across.
COOPER: Ali, very briefly, why not just allow the automakers to go bankrupt, so go to bankruptcy court and then renegotiate with the unions, renegotiate all the contracts and get it sorted out that way?
VELSHI: That's typically what one thinks of in the United State with bankruptcy; look at the airlines. So many of them have been bankrupt, they go into bankruptcy, they renegotiate the contracts, the get rid of planes they don't want, they break their contracts with the union, and come back leaner and meaner.
There are a lot of people who will say in this economic environment where it is so hard to raise money if you were a going concern, an operating business, the car companies will have very little ability to actually restructure, to actually have money coming in to restructure.
So there's a danger that if they file for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection it may be very little time before at least one of them goes into Chapter 7, which means they are gone. They may be able to sell their name to somebody or some of those brands, but the bottom line is there is some danger that if one automaker goes into bankruptcy, the automaker may fizzle out.
Yesterday I had a conversation with Carlos Ghosn, the CEO of Nissan and Renault. They have long been thought of as a company that would be interested in having a relationship with a U.S. automaker, maybe even buying them. He told me point-blank they're not in a position to be buying any automakers. There aren't a lot of companies that can buy an automaker.
It's going to be a problem -- Anderson.
COOPER: All right, Ali Velshi thanks. Richard Quest as well, thank you very much.
Ahead tonight, Sarah Palin versus Bill Ayers. He was talked about a lot on the campaign trail, but we never really heard from him until today. Coming up, Bill Ayers speaks out.
And the latest on a massive fire in southern California. It's burning in a community that's home to Oprah Winfrey and other stars. We'll have the latest on the fire ahead.
Plus, what really happened when Michelle Obama and Laura Bush met at the White House? We've all seen that picture. Now, for the first time Laura Bush talking about that meeting and Obama's election.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAURA BUSH, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: There were leaders around the world who didn't think the United States would elect an African-American man. So I think it's a really important message about our own democracy to people around the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: More details on what she said and what she said in that meeting between the Obamas and the Bushes.
COOPER: That's a picture of Bill Ayers, the former '60s radical who John McCain and Sarah Palin used to try and cast doubt on Barack Obama's judgment. He is now speaking out. We'll have that for you in a moment.
Ayers came up many times during the presidential campaign often by Governor Palin who accused Obama of palling around with terrorists. As a member of the group "The Weathermen," Ayers carried out bombings at the Pentagon and the Capitol. In an interview earlier with Wolf Blitzer earlier this week, when asked, Palin continued to push the Ayers-Obama connection.
Here's the "Raw Data."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. SARAH PALIN, (R) ALASKA: Well, I still am concerned about that association with Bill Ayers. And if anybody still wants to talk about it I will because this is an unrepentant domestic terrorist who had campaigned to blow up, to destroy our Pentagon and our U.S. Capitol. That's an association that still bothers me, and I think it's still fair to talk about it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: You know what Sarah Palin thinks about Bill Ayers there. She said it. Today Ayers went on camera in an interview with "Good Morning, America" to tell his side of the story and to tell us what he thinks of the charges Palin and others have made against him. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM AYERS, FORMER RADICAL: I think the dishonest narrative is one to demonize me. Let's remember that what you call a violent past, that was at a time when thousands of people were being murdered by our government every month. And those of us who fought to end that war were actually on the right side. So if we want to replay that history, I would reject the whole notion that demonizing me or the Weather Underground is relevant.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Now to the historic welcome we saw this week. President- elect Barack Obama and Michelle Obama arriving at the White House, greeted by President Bush and First Lady Laura Bush. That was on Monday. We saw that photo of Laura Bush and Michelle Obama.
Until today, we didn't know what they talked about and what she thought of the election results. Here's the First Lady in her own words.
ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The role of the First Lady is certainly something that, I'm sure, you discussed with Mrs. Obama earlier this week. How did that visit go, and could you tell us any anecdotes?
BUSH: Right. It was very private really. It was really much more I think two mothers talking about home more in this visit because, of course, I showed her the rooms that are our girls' rooms now that I think are the perfect rooms for her girls when they move there.
We talked more about really making the White House a home for a family. And what I know from having lived here and from visiting my mother-in-law when she made this family a home and from reading about all the other families that have lived here, is this house really can be a home. And I know that they'll make it that way for their little girls.
QUIJANO: Certainly there must be some increased pressure, a lot of scrutiny, of course, living in the White House. I was wondering, did you share any advice with her as a mother who has been through it, having had two daughters spending some formative years?
BUSH: Not really. I mean, I think I showed her the closets; I showed her all the things that women are interested in. But I didn't try to give her a lot of advice. I know she knows that she can make it a home. That's what she wants to do.
QUIJANO: Last question, then -- your husband the day after the election talked about it being a stirring sight to see the Obamas because of the historic nature of having the nation's first African- American president. I wonder if you could share your thoughts on that as well. BUSH: Well, I also think it's very, very important. I think it's important for American history. I think it's a message to everybody in the United States of what's possible.
But it's also a message around the world because I know, because I heard from them, that there were leaders in the -- around the world who didn't think the United States would elect an African-American man. And so I think it's a really important message about our own democracy to people around the world.
QUIJANO: Mrs. Bush, thank you so much.
BUSH: Thanks a lot. Thanks Elaine.
COOPER: Laura Bush in her own words.
We're also following breaking news right now in California. A bush fire has scorched thousands of acres, more than a hundred homes in a place where celebrities like Oprah Winfrey and other stars live. We'll have the latest on that.
And more on our breaking news, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama meeting to talk about her becoming Secretary of State; what does it show about both that they're seriously considering this? Details ahead.
COOPER: Breaking news here in southern California; an inferno continues to rage out of control. Look at these pictures. This brush fire is about 100 miles up the coast from where we are right now in Los Angeles.
At least 1,500 acres have been destroyed, thousands have been evacuated.
The epicenter is a community full of mansions and famous people, among them, Oprah Winfrey.
Take a look.
COOPER: An eerie sight over Montecito, California. Parts of this enclave for the rich and famous reduced to a smoldering fire pit. You see the pictures: flames swallow palatial estates, leaving some as shells, others in ruins.
Officials call it a Tea fire, fueled by high winds and dry air. It's centered in Santa Barbara County, just north of L.A. It's destroyed more than 100 homes, scorched 2,500 acres, and forced 5,000 people to evacuate.
GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER (R), CALIFORNIA: We tried to respond very quickly to the needs, to the local needs, and this is a fire that has spread very quickly.
COOPER: They're battling it from the sky, using DC-10 tankers to douse retardant on hot spots. Helicopters are also being called into action overhead.
But it's the ground war that's the most intense. You see it here in CNN iReports. An Army of firefighters, at least 500, are on the front lines, desperately trying to save what they can.
ERIC EACKER, FIREFIGHTER: It's one of the bigger fires that I've been on. Lots of -- lots of expensive real estate so there will be some -- some heartbroken people out there.
COOPER: Another challenge, the water supply. Montecito officials say the reservoir supply is down to just ten percent. They're asking residents to conserve their water.
Montecito is located between the ocean and the mountains. It's an affluent village, popular with celebrities. Last year Oprah Winfrey hosted a fundraiser for Barack Obama at her sprawling Montecito mansion. The fire does not appear to be threatening her property.
For many, however, the danger is imminent, and they can only wait to find out if they'll have a home to return to.
This man lost his house. He vows to rebuild and return, he hopes, to a paradise on earth that is now burning to the ground.
COOPER: Still to come, will Hillary Clinton be joining team Obama? The latest developments in his search for a Secretary of State.
But first, a historic moment at the Pentagon. The first female four- star general. Who is she? Find out ahead.
COOPER: So how do you make the White House a home? Laura Bush talks about what she told Michelle Obama. That is coming up.
But first, Erica Hill joins us with a "360 Bulletin" -- Erica.
ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Anderson, in a flawless nighttime launch, the space shuttle Endeavor lifted off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida just hours ago. Seven astronauts on board for a 15-day mission to the International Space Station, where they'll expand the living space.
Eight people arrested, 168 dogs rescued today when Texas authorities busted one of the largest dog-fighting rings in the country. Charges were filed against another four dozen people. This caps off a 17- month investigation but authorities say they are not done yet. Most of the dogs showed signs of injuries, and they did appear to be bred for fighting. The Dow off 338 points for the session today and the largest drop in retail sales on record is being blamed for that decline today on Wall Street.
Let's end on a high note here. A proud salute tonight for the Army's first female four-star general; General Ann Dunwoody was sworn in today after 33 years in the Army, although when she enlisted she thought she'd serve for only two. In her new role, Dunwoody will make sure the soldiers in Iraq, Afghanistan and around the globe have the equipment they need, Anderson.
COOPER: It's a vital job. Thanks, Erica.
Let's take a look at our "Beat 360" winners, our daily challenge to viewers to come up with a caption better than the one we can think of. So take a look at the picture: President George Bush winking at the United Nations yesterday before he spoke.
Kirk is our staff winner tonight: "My legacy looks so much rosier when I squint."
That's pretty good. I like that one.
Our viewer winner is Anthony from Alameda, California. He joins the winner's circle with this: "Avast! Ye scurvy dogs! Heave to, or I shall destroy yar economy."
COOPER: Good. That's good. Anthony, a "Beat 360" T-shirt is on the way. Congratulations.
You can check out all the entries at AC360.com and play along there on Monday, as well.
Up next, "Uncovering America," the mummy religion; a look at the church that believes in turning deceased pets and even humans into mummies. It got the attention of the U.S. Supreme Court now. We'll tell you why when "360" continues.
COOPER: The Supreme Court took on a landmark case this week hearing arguments on a case that's its own brand of strange. It's an obscure religion in Utah that worships in a pyramid and keeps mummified animals around to worship; one of its founders is also mummified. And as bizarre as their practices maybe, the nine justices listened intently to a serious claim they're making based on their free speech rights.
With tonight's "Uncovering America" report, here's Gary Tuchman.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Ron Temu knows what's he's doing right now is very out of the ordinary.
RON TEMU, SUMMUM CHURCH MEMBER: The process takes approximately six months.
TUCMAN: Temu was turning a dead cat into a mummy. He's a member of a church that will do the same thing for your pet, or even you when you die, if you so desire.
TEMU: It allows for a very smooth transition from this address, physical body, to their next destination.
TUCHMAN: Ron Temu and Sue Meni believe mummifying makes reincarnation easier. Reincarnation is one of their faith's beliefs.
SUE MENI, SUMMUM CHURCH MEMBER: The name of our organization is Summum.
TUCHMAN: The Summum are at the center of a high-stakes legal battle this week because the U.S. Supreme Court is deciding if their free speech rights have been trampled. Most of their speaking is done in Salt Lake City where the Summums worship in a 27-foot tall Egyptian- style pyramid.
MENI: The difference is not much between the known and the unknown.
TUCHMAN: Inside their sanctuary, other mummified cats like Vincent, Oscar and Smoky, and over here, Wendy the dog. The man who founded the religion, Corky Ra, died in January. That's him. He is now a mummy, too.
The Summums say they believe in tolerance, in preaching the best of all religions.
MENI: Happiness or sorrow --
TUCHMAN: And as unusual as you may feel these people are --
TEMU: It's not for everybody.
TUCHMAN: They are being taken very seriously by the highest court in the land.
Their case just heard by the U.S. Supreme Court involves a city stop their pyramid, Pleasant Grove, Utah. In one of the city's parks, a monument inscribed with the Ten Commandments. The Summum's lawsuit deals with that monument; Moses in Mount Sinai.
MENI: It says in the bible that he made two trips. And the first set of tablets he brought down he broke.
TUCHMAN: And they believe the broken tablets listed what they call the Seven Aphorisms.
The Seven Aphorisms: the principle of psychokinesis, the principle of correspondence, the principle of vibration, opposition, rhythm, cause and effect, gender. It's much easier to understand the Ten Commandments; they're a little more direct. Right?
They seem hard to understand. TEMU: True. That's why Moses brought down the Ten Commandments.
TUCHMAN: So with the hope of publicizing their aphorisms, the Summums decided they wanted to build an aphorism monument in the Pleasant Grove Park. But the city said, "No thanks."
FRANK MILLS, PLEASANT GROVE CITY ADMINISTRATOR: The purpose of the park is to honor the heritage of our community.
TUCHMAN: A federal court ruled in favor of the Summums on free speech grounds before the Supreme Court decided to take the case.
If the U.S. Supreme court rules against Pleasant Grove, there still might be a way for the town to keep the Seven Aphorisms out and that is to take the Ten Commandments out.
MILLS: There's a possibility it could get moved to another location, on someone else's property, on a piece of private property or something like that.
TUCHMAN: City officials say it's not a religious issue; rather it's the right to choose what civic items to display in their public areas.
TEMU: We simply would like to put our religious statement next to it because we feel it complements it.
TUCHMAN: So they await a decision that could change life in their pyramid and the nation outside it.
Gary Tuchman, CNN, Salt Lake City.
COOPER: Up next, a community crusader; one woman's mission to help thousands of girls get an education. View one of the top ten CNN Heroes and find out how you can vote for your favorite when "360" continues.
COOPER: We continue our look at the top ten CNN Heroes. In a moment we're going to tell you how to vote for the one that inspires you most. Tonight, though, the story of Viola Vaughn; instead of relaxing in retirement, she is helping thousands of girls get an education in the African country of Senegal.
VIOLA VAUGHN, FINALIST, CNN HERO OF THE YEAR: When a girl reaches the age when she can help in the house, the mother starts keeping this girl at home. That girl begins missing school, missing homework and she starts to fail. It's a downward cycle.
My name is Viola Vaughn. I came to Senegal from Detroit, Michigan. I started a girls' education and self sufficiency program. We take girls who have already failed in school. They learn how to perfect a skill, to produce products for export. In the sewing workshop, they make sheets, they make dolls, they make any kind of household linens. Half of the funds goes back to them. The other remainder goes into the education program.
Come on. Give me a hug.
We do this all the time. They're passing school. They're opening businesses. I see the success. Right now, we already have seven girls in university.
It's their program. And they run everything.
I'm there just to make sure all the i's are dotted and the t's are crossed. Here I am retired and this is the best job I have ever had in my life.
COOPER: You only have a few more days to vote; the address, cnn.com/heroes. And join me for the CNN Heroes All-Star Tribute; it's going to be a lot of fun, Thanksgiving night.
That does it for this edition of "360." Thanks for watching.
"Larry King" starts right now.
Have a great weekend. I'll see you on Monday.