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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Interview With Texas Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson; Hurricane Earl Targets East Coast; Another Gulf Rig in Flames
Aired September 2, 2010 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: And thanks for joining us, everyone.
Breaking news tonight: If you live anyway, from the Carolinas to Cape Cod, you're going to want to stay up with us. The first big hurricane in years to threaten the East Coast is getting ready to batter it. Take a look. There it is, Hurricane Earl, somewhat weaker than it was last night, but strong enough to do some damage and close enough to be felt on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.
You can see by the surf, 12 feet and rising, according to local reports, the area already under evacuation orders. Local station WECT reporting that authorities are using a reverse 911 system, calling local homes, warning anyone who answers to leave.
Covering it all for us, we have Chad Myers tracking the storm, Rob Marciano in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, and also tonight on Cape Cod, where the storm is expected tomorrow, Susan Candiotti.
A lot of people, their plans for this Labor Day weekend could be upset.
Let's first go to Chad Myers.
Chad Myers, where is it? How bad is it?
CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It is off the coast of North Carolina. It would be almost due east of what we would call Morehead City, or just a little to the south of there. It is traveling up toward the north, a little bit east of due north.
Our Rob Marciano is going to be right there, Susan Candiotti a little bit off the top of the screen.
The good news is, Anderson, last night, it was going this way. It did turn. It made the -- finally, it made the expected turn that took so very long. Had it waited another five, six, seven hours, literally, we would be talking about a landfall right now. It would not have turned soon enough, and it would be landfalling here on Cape Hatteras somewhere or Ocracoke.
It looks like it's not going to do that. It's going to be far enough to the east that we're going to have onshore flow all night long. We might even have water washing over those barrier islands because those waves will be so very strong. And then the storm moves up toward -- at least it's going to try to get to Cape Cod. It probably isn't going to make it as what we have now, a Category 2 storm. It will lose steam, because the water gets colder.
Earlier today, it was a Category 3, now down to 110 miles per hour, turning away from New York City, turning away from Washington, D.C., from Richmond, from Virginia Beach. But there will be damage along the North Carolina Outer Banks. There may even be some damage in New England. And we will, obviously, see some of that as the days go on -- Anderson.
COOPER: Chad, we want to check back in with you.
I do want to go to Kill Devil Hills right now, which sits on a very thin strip of land with water on both sides, and Hurricane Earl on one of them.
CNN's Rob Marciano is there.
Rob, you're the closest to the storm. What -- what do you expect tonight? What are people there doing?
ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, a lot of people have -- have gotten out of here. Evacuation orders went out, especially south of here, where it's a little bit thinner, as Chad mentioned, and overwashing of the highways there a distinct possibility.
As a matter of fact, in 2003, when Hurricane Isabel came through, it -- it just cut a whole new patch right through the road. And it took them weeks to rebuild that. So, they don't want to cut people off from society.
What happened today was really a slow ramp-up to what we're seeing now, which is almost tropical-storm-strength gusts. But that is about it. The rain is now starting to come down. As Chad probably mentioned, the center of this storm is probably about 100 miles, maybe less than that, due south of us. So, it will be abreast of where I'm standing, albeit maybe 50 or 60 miles offshore, 2:00 a.m., maybe 3:00 a.m. That's when we expect the brunt of -- of the wind.
Then we will get some backside wind as this thing rolls up the East Coast. The waves are going to be big issue, just offshore at some of the buoys, 26-foot waves, so they will be rolling in. High tide will be rolling in as well right around the peak of the storm.
So, overwashing conditions, the roads being cut off, that is the main concern, not so much the wind, because this thing is just far enough offshore to where the winds shouldn't be too much of a factor. But until it passes us and continues on its march towards New England, folks here are certainly not going to relax all too much tonight -- Anderson.
COOPER: And they're mandatory -- mandatory evacuations. But, as we all know, you know, no one is actually forced to do it. Have most folks in the area you're in left? MARCIANO: I wouldn't say most, but a fair amount. The visitors certainly have. We saw visitors, tourists pack up and leaving.
You know, that -- that -- that's hit them pretty hard. This is the last week of summer. We have got tour -- we have got Labor Day this weekend. So, to -- to be kicking out your bread and butter early is not what these hotel folks and restaurateurs want to be doing.
So, they're -- they're taking it on the chin here in the Outer Banks especially, as far as the tourism business is concerned. And the rip currents, that's going to be another issue. We had them last weekend.
Even when this storm passes and gets out of here, rip currents are going to be an issue almost right through the weekend. So, even if people do come here this weekend, swimming is going to be a little bit dicey.
COOPER: Yes, going to be careful on that.
COOPER: Rob -- Rob, we will check back in with you.
As Chad Myers said, the hurricane has turned north, making its way toward eastern Massachusetts by tomorrow night.
Susan Candiotti is on Cape Cod in the town of South Yarmouth, Massachusetts. She joins us now.
Susan, what are authorities there doing to -- to get ready? I know a lot of ferry service all along the East Coast has been canceled or is about to be canceled.
SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Some of the ferries are still going to be running tomorrow, but a lot of them have taken safe harbor.
But authorities -- that's the governor working closely with FEMA -- are pre-positioning a lot of supplies, including meals and water and tarps and generators. And they have also prepositioned a lot of utility crews to be ready to come in as far away as Michigan and Ohio just to be at the ready.
COOPER: And -- and, I mean, what are they expecting? How big on the -- the impact on, you know, business is expected?
CANDIOTTI: Well, you know, just like in the Carolinas, tourism is a big mainstay here. And, in fact, the Chamber of Commerce tells us they're going to take a monstrous hit. Some of the hotels are only operating now at 40 percent capacity because so many tourists have left.
But emergency planners are saying, good thing. We don't want people to take chances. But a lot of residents here, they are staying put. COOPER: Yes. We're going to continue to -- to track Earl throughout the hour and the night. You can talk about it with other viewers right now on 360 online. The live chat is up and running at AC360.com.
Coming up: Another well goes up in flames in the Gulf of Mexico. Have you seen the pictures of this so far? We are going to tell you about safety problems at the company that runs it, talk about what this is doing to people down in the Gulf, with the BP disaster playing out.
And we also learned some new information about how much BP has actually spent on commercials. Remember, earlier this summer, we had heard the $50 million figure? It is way higher than that. We will tell you. You are never going to guess how much they have spent since the spill on self-promotion.
And also, next tonight: the congresswoman at the center of the scholarship scandal. The Democrat from Dallas, she says she didn't know about the rules against giving donated money to her grandkids and her grandnephews and the children of one of her staffers. We're "Keeping Them Honest" tonight. We talked to her earlier.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON (D), TEXAS: I know you want you to make a scandal out of this, and I -- but I can't help you. All I can do is tell you the truth.
COOPER: Well, I think you have done enough in terms of making it a scandal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: In a moment, we're going to talk to Dallas Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, a nine-term Democrat who is embroiled in a scandal over scholarship worth thousands of dollars that she awarded to her own family members.
Representative Johnson, who is also the former head other Congressional Black Caucus, this week said she repaid $31,000 to the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation.
But I want to recap how -- how all of this all came to be, in case you're unfamiliar with the story. We started reporting on this earlier in the week, before Representative Johnson was speaking. According to "The Dallas Morning News," Representative Johnson gave out 23 scholarships over five years to her relatives, two of her grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
She also gave money to the children of a top staffer. She didn't just do this once, by the way. She did this several years in a row. That's more than a third of all the scholarships that she awarded during that period. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TODD GILLMAN, "THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS": Let me -- let me -- put it this way. This story has generated more readership than any story I have ever written and posted on our Web site.
And we have gotten hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of comments. And, overwhelmingly, the public does not believe that the congresswoman had no idea that there was a conflict of interests here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So, that's -- that's Todd Gillman, the Washington bureau chief of "The Dallas Morning News." "Dallas Morning News" is the one who broke this story in the first place.
And that's the -- the congresswoman's explanation, that she simply didn't know that, A, this was completely unethical, and, B, that it was against the rules of this scholarship.
Now, you don't even have to see the rules of -- of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation to know that this is inappropriate, right? I mean, everybody knows, if you're in a position of public authority and public trust, you don't give money to your relatives that's meant to go to -- to kids who are deserving of scholarships.
But we checked anyway, and kids are eligible for these -- these Congressional Black Caucus Foundation scholarships if they have a 2.5 grade-point average, if they have letters of recommendation, if they write an essay.
And they also have to be a student in the district of the member of the Congressional Black Caucus. And they can't be a relative of anyone affiliated with the CBC. And the rules are clearly stated in the scholarship application. And the kids all signed this scholarship -- these scholarship applications, promising they, in fact, were not related to anyone connected to the Congressional Black Caucus or the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation.
And, see, the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation gives out $10,000 to every member of the Congressional Black Caucus to -- to give out every year to these scholarships.
So, the congresswoman, for years now, gets $10,000 every year to give out. Not only did the congresswoman violate the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation rule about awarding her own relatives, but, according to "The Dallas Morning News," none of these kids, her grandson, her grandnephews, the kids of her -- of the staffer, none of them even lived in her district or went to school in her district.
So, they were not even eligible on that level.
"Keeping Them Honest" tonight, we wanted to know how someone, anyone, could be either unaware of or confused by what appear to be clear-cut rules.
I spoke with Congresswoman Johnson earlier on the phone.
COOPER: Representative Johnson, thanks for joining us.
You have said that you didn't know the rules for this scholarship and -- and didn't know that you couldn't give the money to your grandson and other relatives of yours and a member of your staff.
How is that possible that -- that you didn't know that not only was this against the rules of the scholarship, but -- but simply unethical?
JOHNSON: Well, let me just say this.
I was not aware of the rules. The rules have been very ambiguous. There were rules to come out last year. But, you know, I have acknowledged I made a mistake. I have tried to make everything whole. I have paid all the money out of my personal funds, and I'm ready to move on.
COOPER: You say the rules were ambiguous prior to last year and that you didn't know what the rules were -- were.
We found the 2008 scholarship application. And, on it, it says -- quote -- "Employees and/or relatives of CBC members, CBC spouses, the CBC Foundation, the board of directors are ineligible for the scholarship program."
We also went back and found the 2006 guidelines from four years ago, and it says the exact same thing. "Employees and/or relatives of CBC members, CBC spouses, CBC Foundation, board of directors are ineligible for the scholarship program."
That seems not ambiguous.
JOHNSON: I didn't realize they were even in print, as I indicated. I -- I don't have any reason not to tell the truth. I did not know they were in print.
COOPER: But you say you didn't know it was in print. But, clearly, members of your staff knew that those were printed in the rules, because, when your grandsons and grandnephews and the members of -- of -- the family members of your staff who got this money for several years in a row, every time they sent in an application, they had to promise that they weren't a relative of you or anyone connected with the CBC.
So, people on your staff...
JOHNSON: Well, I admit -- I admit I made a mistake. I did not realize that. I didn't read the form.
(CROSSTALK) COOPER: No, no, no, but the point is that people on your staff knew the rules.
COOPER: So, are you -- have you looked into who on your staff knew the rules?
JOHNSON: Anderson, I have acknowledged that I was negligent. I have acknowledged that I made a mistake. When it was called to my attention, I tried to correct it.
I know you want you to make a scandal out of this, and I -- but I can't help you. All I can do is tell you the truth.
COOPER: Well, I think you have done enough in terms of making it a scandal. I'm trying to figure out how it happened. And you say you take responsibility.
I'm asking, specifically, who on your staff reviewed these applications? Because, whoever did that, for several years, saw that these kids were promising that they weren't your relatives.
JOHNSON: The responsibility rests with my chief of staff.
JOHNSON: My chief of staff had the responsibility. I can't tell you who always did, because, to be quite honest with you, I work pretty hard.
We have a lot to do. And it really has not gotten all of my attention, I regret to say. It's a minor part of what we do on a daily basis.
COOPER: It does seem, though, to strain...
JOHNSON: And I have indicated...
JOHNSON: ... I was negligent. I made a mistake. I have tried to right it. And that's all I can do.
COOPER: Because it does seem to strain credibility to say that you, as a public official, didn't understand that it's just, ethically -- whether or not you read the rules, that, ethically, there would be a problem with giving money to your grandsons for several years, when there are other kids out there who could have gotten that money.
JOHNSON: Other kids...
COOPER: Who weren't -- by the way -- your grandkids weren't even living in your district or going to school in your district.
JOHNSON: How do you want me to answer that? I have answered to the best of my ability. I made a mistake. I tried to correct it. What else would you want me to tell you?
COOPER: I guess my question is, as a public official, how do you know that that's not ethically right?
JOHNSON: Say what?
COOPER: As a public official, who has been in Congress for a long time, how do you know that that is not ethically right, whether or not you have read the rules, just at basic ethics?
JOHNSON: Yes, I have been here 18 years, and you're talking about the last three or four years.
COOPER: Well, I'm talking about five years that you have been doing this that we know about.
JOHNSON: Well, the only thing I can tell you is what I have said. And I will keep repeating it. I made a mistake.
COOPER: But you never understood, you never heard that, ethically, there might be a problem with awarding money...
JOHNSON: I did not hear it, no.
COOPER: It never occurred to you? No member of your staff ever, over the course of five years, said it to you?
JOHNSON: I didn't really think about it that much because, you know, I'm -- I'm trying to make sure it doesn't -- I know it won't happen again. I'm initiating a new committee in place.
I -- I'm the last one that they send these things to. And, usually, they go right to my chief of staff. I have not dwelled on trying to figure out a way to give my grandchildren $1,000 a year. I have not done that.
I have a lot of things to do. And I'm not saying that I didn't do right by not dwelling on it, but this is just one scholarship out of hundreds of scholarships that are offered to kids that I steer them to within my district.
Did you or any member of your staff tell your grandsons, your grandnephews or the children of the other member of your staff to lie on the forms? JOHNSON: No. I have had no conversation about lying on anything.
COOPER: So -- so, they just lied on their own?
COOPER: Did they just lie on their own, or were they coached by members of your staff?
JOHNSON: I don't -- I don't consider them having lied...
COOPER: Well, they said they were not your relatives.
JOHNSON: ... because I don't even know if they have even seen those forms.
COOPER: Well, they signed those forms. They said they -- as part of the application process, they got essays, they had to write...
JOHNSON: Well, you have seen more than I have, Anderson.
COOPER: You haven't looked into this at all?
JOHNSON: I don't have the -- I don't have the forms, the records.
JOHNSON: The records are missing from my office.
COOPER: The records are missing from your office?
JOHNSON: Yes. We have looked for them. They're not there. And...
COOPER: But what -- the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation has...
JOHNSON: The first thing I thought about is trying to correct the mistake.
COOPER: Right. But the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation has told us -- we had them on the other night -- they told us that, yes, each of these -- each of your relatives said they were not your relative on the form. They -- they -- they signed off that everything was true on their application.
JOHNSON: I'm sorry that happened. I don't -- I'm not even aware of it. And I know that my grandkids didn't do this intentionally.
I don't even know if they have seen the forms, because I hadn't seen the forms until this year.
COOPER: Well, they signed the forms. So, they... JOHNSON: But let me assure you that I have repaid all of the money. I'm not blaming anybody but myself. I'm taking full responsibility. And I'm going to move forward.
COOPER: Well, Representative Johnson, I appreciate your time. Thank you very much.
JOHNSON: Thank you very much.
COOPER: Well, let us know what you think about -- about that. You can join the live chat at AC360.com right now.
Coming up next: a debate debacle. Have you seen this, Arizona's governor? A strange meltdown on TV.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. JAN BREWER (R), ARIZONA: We have done everything that we could possibly do.
BREWER: We have -- did what was right for Arizona.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, there was some other interesting behavior. We will have the video, the fallout ahead. We will talk to James Carville and Erick Erickson about it.
Also tonight: the new rig fire in the Gulf. Survivors rescued from the platform run by a company with a history of violations -- the latest on the incident, what we know about it. James Carville weighs in on that.
And, also, BP, it turns out the amount they spent on commercials and self-promotions since the spill, it is about -- well, I'm not going to give you the exact figures yet. But, remember, you -- we thought it was $50 million earlier this summer. It's a lot more than that.
We will be right back.
COOPER: In a moment, the latest on Hurricane Earl taking a swipe at North Carolina tonight. Chad Myers is going to join us again in just a few minutes.
But, first, we're following some other stories.
We're joined again by Isha Sesay. She joins us with a 360 news and business bulletin -- Isha.
ISHA SESAY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Anderson.
A military judge has barred consideration of President Obama's birth record in the court-martial of an Army officer who refused to deploy to Afghanistan. Lieutenant Colonel Terrence Lakin claims the orders are not valid since he believes the president's birthplace is in question. The judge called it irrelevant. CNN and others have confirmed Mr. Obama was born in Hawaii.
Maryland police recovered two starter pistols, but no handguns, at the Discovery Channel headquarters where three people were held hostage yesterday. They also found four explosive devices. James Lee stormed the building and held police at bay for four hours. He was killed by police. The hostages were not harmed.
Wall Street rallied for a second day, the Dow gaining 50 points, but, tomorrow, the government releases the jobs report for August. It's expected to show job losses, but not as bad as July.
And, Anderson, remember the disturbing video from YouTube of a 2- year-old Indonesian boy smoking cigarettes?
COOPER: Ay, yi yi.
SESAY: Remember this? His parents said he was addicted. Well, Indonesian officials now say the child entered a rehab program...
SESAY: I know -- and has kicked the habit.
COOPER: Ay, yi yi.
SESAY: Fingers crossed that he really has managed to kick this habit, because, you know, at one point, reportedly, this kid was smoking up to 40 cigarettes a day, Anderson.
COOPER: It's an incredibly creepy video, not as -- I recommend people not watch that video. I recommend they watch the double rainbow guy video.
Have you seen that one...
SESAY: No, I haven't seen that.
COOPER: ... on YouTube?
COOPER: Oh, you have got to...
SESAY: I'm going to check it out. And then...
COOPER: YouTube Double rainbow guy, yes.
COOPER: Very funny.
SESAY: I will check back.
COOPER: All right.
COOPER: Up next: echoes of a BP disaster. Another well catches fire. We have got the latest on survivors, safety issues with the company that owns it.
And late word on BP, it's going to make you wonder again which it puts first, the people of the Gulf or its corporate image -- how much they are spending on commercials. James Carville joins us.
Also ahead, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, she rocketed to fame on the immigration issue nationally. She's now the talk of the country about how she's dodging questions about her claim that illegal immigrants are being beheaded -- or beheading people in the Arizona desert and about her strange performance in a debate last night. We will talk about both next with James Carville and Erick Erickson.
Take a look at something from the debate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BREWER: It's great to be here with Larry, Barry and Terry.
And thank you all for watching tonight.
I have done so much. And I just cannot believe that we have changed everything since I have become your governor in the last 600 days.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, along with Hurricane Earl, we're also covering another important story tonight, this one from the Gulf, where, in the wake of the BP disaster, another oil rig burst into flames today.
It happened around 9:20 a.m. local time about 100 miles off the coast of Louisiana. Take a look at new video of the platform after the fires. It's the Vermilion oil rig 380.
Officials said the explosion started in one of the platform's seven active wells, although the cause of the fire right now, we -- we frankly don't know. It's unclear.
Initially, there were reports of a sheen on the water measuring 100 feet wide and a mile long. But authorities now believe there was no sheen coming from this damaged rig.
With the platform in flames, the -- the crew of 13 jumped into the water. This photograph shows the men in the water. They were all rescued, thankfully. Company officials said none of the crew members were injured, grateful news to -- obviously, to the families.
And their rescue comes more than four months, obviously, after the 11 men aboard the Deepwater Horizon died in the BP spill. The rig that exploded today was owned by a company called Mariner Energy, and like BP it's a company with problems in their safety record. According to published reports, Mariner Energy has been linked to 13 offshore accidents in the last four years.
As for the rig, data from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management reveals three incidents of noncompliance were issued following an inspection back in January of this year. We'll continue to follow that story, figure out what went wrong on the rig.
Not too far away, crews continue to work on permanently sealing the BP well. Today they took the first step in removing the blow-out preventer. They plan to install a new one before cutting the well off for good.
Meanwhile, BP continues to promote its response to the disaster and at significant cost. At a suggestion of Florida Representative Kathy Castor, the Committee on Energy and Commerce asked BP to disclose how much money they are spending on public relations since the spill.
Yesterday, the committee wrote this letter to Representative Castor, saying that BP admitted to spending more than $93 million on advertising, which is a fortune on public relations. Earlier this summer, we thought it was $50 million. It's $93 million.
You know, a lot of people in the Gulf say BP still is not paying them back. I spoke earlier with James Carville.
COOPER: James, those who oppose offshore drilling, you know, look at this fire today on the rig and say, look, Mariner Energy has been involved in 13 accidents in the past four years, of possible safety violations and seven of them. Obviously, we don't know the cause of this fire. Those who support offshore drilling say, "Well, look, you know, it's a dangerous line of work but necessary. What was your reaction?
JAMES CARVILLE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: A little bit of both. It is a dangerous line of work, and I think it's necessary.
And first of all, thank God no one was killed in this thing. That would be very thankful for that.
And I think, honestly, I think Mr. Riley and Senator Graham, if their commission has got to look into this, and we've got to get to the bottom. Because this industry is obviously insufficiently regulated. And I don't know the facts of this.
So I'm going to wait until they come in, but, you know, something, obviously, happened on this rig that wasn't supposed to happen. And we've got to find out as quickly as we can. And let's see where it is. But this is not good for people like myself, who have argued that the moratorium should be lifted. This does not help our situation, nor does it help the economy of my neighbors here in south Louisiana.
COOPER: Earlier this summer, we had been led to understand that BP was going to be spending $50 million on this ad campaign, you know, "make it right." Everybody has seen ads on television, in newspapers.
But now today we've learned that BP actually spent $93 million in advertising after this spill, three times as much as they spent last year. Does that shock you?
CARVILLE: Not only does it shock me, but the distrust of BP is running at a very high level down here. They're dissing local leaders. They canceled meetings. They're acting in a strange and arrogant kind of way.
And I'm not -- I don't know -- I mean, 93 million that they spent, no one believes it. Everybody thinks they're going to try to get out of here the moment that they can. And that's just a fact. You know, when you talk to people in leadership here, the level of distrust that BP is at an all-time high. I would have thought they would have tried to do a better job of reaching out to people. Boy, they haven't.
COOPER: Especially at a time when so many are complaining that they haven't received payments from BP in a timely manor and all of that, obviously, shifted over to Ken Feinberg, and all that is yet to be resolved.
CARVILLE: Right. And added to the message that everybody seems to be getting is they're saying, look, we've already done this and we're going to move on to the next thing. And there's going to be a long time before people here feel like they'll be able to move on.
And it's a shame. It really is. The level of distrust down here to BP is very, very high. And I don't know, the 93 million, better to put 93 million into helping people out as opposed to these ads.
COOPER: James Carville. Thanks, James. Appreciate it.
COOPER: Up next, actually, James will be back in a little bit. Key topics debates in the Arizona governor election. Especially Governor Brewer's claims that headless bodies were found in the desert. When pressed during the debate and afterward with reporters, this was her response.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why wouldn't you recant the comment you made earlier about the beheadings in the desert?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's a serious question, governor.
GOV. JAN BREWER (R), ARIZONA: This was an interesting evening tonight.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: And that's not all she didn't say. There was another awkward moment as well. "Raw Politics" ahead.
We're also tracking Earl as it inches closer to North Carolina, the latest with Chad Myers. Stay with us.
COOPER: As we all know, an election season can produce pretty strange moments on the election trail. And the race for governor in Arizona is a prime example.
Jan Brewer, the incumbent Republican, is running for re-election. She, of course, made national headlines this year by signing a very tough immigration bill into law. Last night, she faced her opposition in a televised debate. And when it was Governor Brewer's turn to deliver her opening statement in the debate, it got very awkward very quickly. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BREWER: Great to be here with Larry, Barry and Terry. And thank you all for watching us tonight. I have done -- done so much, and I just cannot believe that we have changed everything since I've become your governor in the last 600 days.
Arizona has been brought back from its abyss. We have cut the budget. We have balanced the budget and we are moving forward. We have done everything that we could possibly do.
We have -- did what was right for Arizona. I will tell you that I really did the very best that anyone could do and we have pushed back hard against the federal government. We have filed suit against Obama health cares, and we have passed Senate bill 1070. And we will continue to do what's right for Arizona. I ask for your vote. Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, after her long pause, Governor Brewer today told a Phoenix radio station that it was, quote, the longest 16 seconds of my life.
Her chief opponent is the Democratic candidate Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard. During the debate, he repeatedly called on the governor to retract a statement she made in June, where she said that Arizona police have found headless bodies in the desert, immigrants -- illegal immigrants who have been beheaded, claiming increased violence along the border with Mexico. She never certified the statement.
According to numerous law enforcement personnel, no headless bodies have ever been found in the Arizona desert. Certainly, drug cartels have routinely beheaded people across the border in Mexico.
During the debate, not only did the governor not retract her statement; she refused to answer her challenger and then refused to talk about it with reporters immediately after the debate. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Governor Brewer, why wouldn't you recant the comment you made earlier about the beheadings in the desert?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's a serious question, Governor.
BREWER: Well, this was an interesting evening tonight.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Governor, please answer the question. What about the headless bodies? Why won't you recant that? Do you still believe that? Come on, Governor.
BREWER: OK, thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Governor, what do you make...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Doesn't get much more "Raw Politics" than that.
Joining me now, CNN political contributor Democratic strategist James Carville, along with Eric Erickson, also a CNN contributor and editor in chief of RedState.com.
James, I mean, we've all seen a lot of brain freezes in debates. That was painful. I've seen it numerous times. It is incredibly painful to watch. What do you make of it?
CARVILLE: I mean, she was right. What she said was true: it was an interesting night. There's no doubt about that. In addition to being the first debate where all of the panel had last names ended in "Y," Larry, Barry and Kerry, whatever it was.
Look, I think she's got to come up with an explanation. Maybe it's a medication thing or maybe, you know, she hadn't been sleeping, but that -- I've seen a lot of meltdowns in debate. That's about as bad as I've seen.
ERICK ERICKSON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I think she was hung up on Larry, Terry and Barry.
CARVILLE: Yes, it was the names of the people. But I don't mean to be -- I can't believe that that woman is normally that clueless.
COOPER: Everybody in TV has had, you know, bad moments where, you know, they're searching for something or the mind goes blank. CARVILLE: Right.
COOPER: I don't know. I've had a few, I'm sure.
ERICKSON: You know -- go ahead, James.
I was going to say that we've got to remember as well, for perspective, this woman was never intended to be governor. She became governor because Janet Napolitano got appointed by the president to homeland security. And I mean, there were a lot of people in Arizona who never really rallied around her.
She kind of used SB-1070, the immigration law, to get herself into this re-election position when, in fact, behind the scenes she opposed the law and really didn't want to sign it. I mean, she -- chickens are coming home to roost, to a degree with her.
But wow, I just -- I've got to be honest: this is the first time I saw the whole clip just out of sympathetic embarrassment. I didn't want to sit through it.
CARVILLE: As a former campaign manager, even though I'm not pulling for her, you just -- you kind of feel sorry for her.
ERICKSON: You really do.
CARVILLE: Whoever did debate prep, they -- one point I want to say, sure, everybody has frozen up. And I've gotten questions from you or questions from other people, where I was trying to think and you couldn't get it. But that was the opening statement. It wasn't like she was asked a question about the state budget and she was trying to think of a meeting she was in. Just like you practice this thing, I don't know, 20, 25 times before you go out.
ERICKSON: It's kind of like asking Ted Kennedy back in 1980 why he was running for president, and just couldn't really come up with an answer at the time. This is -- I mean, that's kind of the basic questions and answer session.
I was really surprised -- at first I thought it was a joke when I got it in an e-mail. But then to go on with the beheading question and to stand her ground on something and to ignore the press, she's going to have to deal with these issues. She's going to have to release a statement, say what was up, whether she was distracted, or nervous, or what have you. And deal with the headless body issue.
COOPER: Is this -- this is clearly -- you know, it's all over the Web. It's certainly being used by, certainly, a lot of liberal groups, you know, hammering her, who don't like her for her stance on immigration. Is this just a blip, though, or, James, do you think this could have a serious problem for her?
CARVILLE: I -- you know, it's a pretty good year for Republicans. We're going to see just how good it is. If this -- if this woman wins, it's going to have to be a very good year. I think the Democrats will go after her. And I made the point earlier on John King's show, look, she's the commander in chief of the National Guard. If there's a prison riot. If there's some kind of an outbreak of a health issue, you know, something like that.
She's in a -- not just if you don't like the issues but she's in a kind of executive responsibility here. And I don't know how good I would feel to think if she got -- you know, if she got the phone ring at 3 a.m. in the morning.
ERICKSON: You know, somewhere right now there's a campaign consultant saying, "Praise Jesus this happened three days before Labor Day weekend."
CARVILLE: Yes. You're right. They can recover. They're going to have to -- and Eric is right. They're going to have to answer this. She can do a Sarah Palin and just call all the media impotent and limp, which has got to be my favorite thing.
COOPER: James Carville and Eric Erickson, thanks.
ERICKSON: Thank you.
COOPER: Up next, breaking news. New information from the National Hurricane Center on the path of Hurricane Earl and its strength. We'll talk to meteorologist Chad Myers in a moment. And we'll check in with Rob Marciano in North Carolina. They're already starting to feel the impact of the storm.
Also ahead tonight, Dr. Sanjay Gupta with a "360 Dispatch" from Pakistan and something he didn't expect to find in the middle of the devastation, some hope. Inspiring story, next.
COOPER: In a moment at the end of the show tonight, something to make you laugh before you go to bed: the double rainbow guy.
Also, we'll have the latest on Hurricane Earl, the new report on the strength of it, and where it's heading.
Right now, though, reports, a "360 Dispatch." Half a world away, the horror from Pakistan's floods continues to mount. More than 1,600 people dead, millions affected and entire communities gone. That's the reality for Pakistan. Hundreds of thousands of people are now living in makeshift camps. They're refugees from the disaster, internally displaced people.
Through all their suffering, there are some signs of hope, though. Tonight's "360 Dispatch" with Sanjay Gupta in Pakistan.
SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Here in Pakistan, there are fields of dreams. They look like this, mixed with pain and poverty. But spend some time here and look closer. (on camera) This is something maybe you wouldn't expect to see. We're in this tent, and all the kids in this particular tent are doing their homework. This is Ramshel (ph). She's 8 years old.
(SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
She's trying to do her schoolwork, she's telling me.
(SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
She tells me she wants to be a doctor. People here have dreams, just like Ramshel (ph) and all the other kids that are here with her.
(voice-over) They had a real house once, they tell me. It's now covered in water. She had her friend. She went to school and, yes, she had dreams. It's her story. And it may not be much different than yours, starting with the neighborhoods they were forced to leave.
(on camera) Looking at all the images, you may think that people who were affected by this flood only lived in little grass huts. That's simply not true. I mean, real neighborhoods affected by this flood, as well. All these people had to leave also.
(voice-over) And she ended up here. No idea how long she will stay, so she does her homework. And her parents' mission: establish some sort of normalcy for her kids. A routine for Ramshel (ph) rooted in religion.
(on camera) You're looking at aid being distributed here. This is rice with some potatoes and chickpeas. They put that in big buckets and they distribute it to all these tents.
One of the things that may surprise you a little bit, is that they wait until the sun goes down. It is Ramadan. Even in a camp like this, they make sure to abide by those rules: no food in between.
(voice-over) Ramshel (ph) and others in this camp are surprised when I share reports about the floodwaters starting to recede. Surprised because just this week another million people in southern Pakistan became displaced, fleeing waters on the rise.
(on camera) She said she knows some English, and she wanted to try that out with me, as well. So, what is your name?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My name is (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
GUPTA: OK. You're answering for her. What is your name?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My name is Ramshel (ph).
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My name is Ramshel (ph).
GUPTA: Very good, very good.
(voice-over) Nothing can change this reality: more than a dozen awful deaths over the past week here. And people who have lost everything simply trying to survive.
But that's the thing about hopes and dreams. They are spread equally throughout the world, and no one can take them away from you.
(on camera) She said she really likes to go to school, and she said she's studying really hard to be a doctor. Yes.
Do you think you can do it?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't know.
GUPTA: You can do it.
(voice-over) Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, in Kasim (ph), Pakistan.
I'll update you on our breaking news right now. Hurricane Earl, the Category 2 storm moving closer, North Carolina. Expected to reach New England by tomorrow night. Chad Myers joins us now from the weather center with the latest on Earl -- Chad.
CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: We've been watching this turn, finally, Anderson. About ten days late, but it finally did make its turn. And it's going to head on out toward the northeast and miss all of North Carolina.
Now, we're still going to have wind and waves and probably some battering of sand-removing wind and waves coming on shore here, pounding the surf.
Other than that, other than the rain, it is now down to 105-mile- per-hour storm, 105, gusting to 125. Something else the hurricane center did for the people of New England. They actually turned the storm a little bit off to the right, just a little bit to the east of where it was.
COOPER: That's great.
Now there it gets all the way back into Nantucket through the cape. Cape Cod is still in the cone, but farther on the left side of the cone than it was.
And they also say in their discussion, if this continues to move off to the right, to the east like it's been, they may actually -- tomorrow they may actually adjust this cone a little bit farther to the east, more away from New England.
I know there's a lot of people in North Carolina worried about the Outer Banks, but percentage-wise, there's an awful lot more people living in New England than in the Outer Banks area, and this is a big sigh of relief for a large segment of the population, including all of Long Island, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts, where this was in the forecast cone for a long time. COOPER: Chad, so what would you advise folks who are thinking about, you know, for the Labor Day weekend going up to Cape Cod or going up to Massachusetts or Long Island or something?
MYERS: Still wouldn't recommend that, because you are still in tropical storm warnings, tropical storm watches all the way through Cape Cod. Don't get on there, Nantucket for sure. All the islands here. It's one ferry on, one ferry off.
But if you're going to vacation somewhere from about Atlantic City southward, by the time you get there for Sunday -- Saturday, Sunday, Monday, this is going to be completely over anyway. To the north, still a little touch and go. South of here, you're in good shape.
COOPER: All right, Chad, thanks.
Let's check in now very briefly at Kill Devil Hills to see how conditions are there. Rob Marciano is there.
Rob, how is it? Looking a lot more windy than it was a few minutes ago.
ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It has, Anderson.
It's picked up quite a bit. Those rain bands are coming in. now the rain bands are coming in, they'll actually bring down the winds from the upper levels. And as that core moves a little bit closer to us, the winds are going to obviously be picking up all night.
So it's going to be a long night here in North Carolina, even though the center has jogged a little east. And that is great, great news. But nobody is going to sleep well here, I can tell you that, until the center of this storm is past us to the north and we know for sure that the eye wall and all the wind and rain that comes to the western side of it is -- is going to be past, as well.
So it will get out of here in a hurry, but the wind and rain will certainly pound the roads around here. We've already seen overwash on some of the highways. There will be some people that will be stranded come tomorrow morning and hopefully, this thing will be cooking out to sea before too long.
Back to you.
COOPER: Rob, appreciate it. It certainly will be a long night probably for Rob. Stay safe.
Isha Sesay joins us now with the "360 Bulletin" -- Isha.
ISHA SESAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thanks, Anderson.
Some early results today from the Mideast peace talks in Washington. Israeli and Palestinian leaders agreeing, well, to talk some more. They'll hold regular meetings starting on the 14th of this month and continuing every two weeks thereafter to try to reach a peace deal.
An Army spokesman says there's no sign of any pending action against retired General Stanley McChrystal after an Army inspector general completed an initial review of the general's comments in "Rolling Stone" magazine. You'll recall, the article led President Obama to fire General McChrystal.
In Los Angeles, rapper T.I. and his wife were arrested on drug suspicion. The sheriff's department saying suspected illegal drugs were found during a traffic stop.
And you already know they're a hot ride but not this hot. I mean, dangerously hot. Ferrari is recalling all of the 458 Italia cars it made this year...
SESAY: ... after reports of a number of the luxury cars, Anderson, catching fire or spontaneously combusting.
SESAY: Giving new meaning to greased lightning, if you ask me.
COOPER: Ah. Ba-dum-ba.
So Isha, we decided to make room tonight for "The Shot," because I mentioned earlier this video, the double rainbow guy. It's a must see. He's actually now making a commercial. But first here's the original double rainbow guy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Double rainbow, oh, my God. It's a double rainbow all the way. Whoa, whoa, whoa! Whoa! Oh, my God! Oh, my God! Oh, my God! Woo! Oh, wow!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: It goes on and on.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes!
COOPER: He actually starts weeping later on.
SESAY: He's making me weep. And it's so ridiculous.
COOPER: Well, he's actually now -- people say online he's sold out, or cashed in, whatever. He's made a commercial, apparently, for some product. Do we have a copy of the commercial at all?
SESAY: I haven't seen it. Do we have it?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wow, look at that. Full on double rainbow all the way across the sky. Whoa! Woo!
There you go.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How do you shoot a double rainbow?
COOPER: I like the original double rainbow.
SESAY: I do, too.
COOPER: He starts weeping. So if you haven't seen it, you should check it out on YouTube, double rainbow guy. And there's also, like, a million imitations of it and remixes of it, and a lot of people have had fun with it. So check all that out.
Isha, I'm glad that I could, you know, inform you of something so important as the double rainbow guy.
SESAY: I feel enriched now, Anderson, by you.
COOPER: It's so vivid.
SESAY: It's whoa.
COOPER: Yes. Isha, have a good night.
SESAY: You, too.
COOPER: We'll have more ahead at the top of the hour. We'll be right back.