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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Clinton-Obama Verbal Assaults Escalate; Hillary Clinton's Tall Tale?
Aired March 24, 2008 - 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: Breaking news is how we begin tonight: Hillary Clinton backing away have a story she's told repeatedly, a story about dodging sniper fire in war-torn Bosnia.
A short time ago, she acknowledged her comments were what she is calling a misstatement. Tonight, the video that contradicts the senator's earlier claim and why this is has become an issue on the campaign trail. Is it a misstatement or a tall tale? You can judge for yourself tonight.
Also, the war of words between the Democratic campaigns: new attacks from both camps, his surrogate comparing her husband to Joe McCarthy, her supporter comparing one of his supporters to Judas. We will talk to James Carville about those remarks he made.
And our political panel is standing by, Candy Crowley, Jeffrey Toobin, and "TIME" magazine's Joe Klein.
Later tonight, new questions about whether John McCain has the Republican right stuff. Does he really believe? A story just now reemerging from his political past is raising questions about a flirtation with turning Democrat. We have got the "Raw Politics."
Plus, a cold case turns white-hot again, the murder of a millionaire and two surprising suspects. 360's Randi Kaye has all the new developments and more than one twist.
We begin, however, tonight with breaking news: Hillary Clinton admitting a short time the story she told about coming under sniper fire in Bosnia was not true. Clinton says it was a misstatement. Her claim, made repeatedly, has been contradicted before, but this is the first time Senator Clinton has addressed the issue directly.
It's already a campaign issue. The Obama forces have been hammering away at what they call -- quote -- "a growing list of instances in which senator has exaggerated her role in foreign and domestic policy-making."
We will show you her reply in just a moment.
But, first, here's what she said last week about her trip as first lady to Bosnia in 1996.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I remember landing under sniper fire. There was supposed some kind of a greeting ceremony at the airport, but, instead, we just ran with our heads down to get into the vehicles to get to our base.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, now here's the video of that arrival in Tuzla. You notice the absence of any ducking or any running or shooting, for that matter. There appears they came off the plane rather not particularly fast. And there actually was a short greeting ceremony at the airport. It was apparently safe enough for a little child to read a poem to the senator on the tarmac. Chelsea obviously is there with her as there.
The video goes on. She stops. She greets the child. Now, earlier today, her campaign spokesman said Senator Clinton -- quote -- "misspoke."
Then, later, she said this to the editorial board of "The Philadelphia Daily News" -- quote -- "Now let me tell you what I can remember, OK? Because what I was told was that we had to land a certain way and move quickly because of the threat of sniper fire. So, I misspoke. I didn't say that in my book or other times, but if I said something that made it seem as though there was actual fire, that's not what I was told."
She goes on to say: "I was told we had to land a certain way, we had to have our bulletproof stuff on because of the threat of sniper fire. I was also told that the greeting ceremony had been moved away from the tarmac, but that there was this 8-year-old girl, and, I can't -- I can't rush by her. I have got to at least greet her. So, I made a -- I took her stuff and then I left. Now, that's my memory of it."
So, how important was this trip anyway? Well, that's not clear. We do know Senator Clinton was accompanied by singer Sheryl Crow and comedian Sinbad. There's Sinbad. He said the scariest part of the trip was wondering where he would eat next.
With me now, CNN's Candy Crowley and Jeffrey Toobin, also "TIME" magazine's Joe Klein.
Candy, Clinton supporters are going to say, look, this is much ado about nothing. Obama supporters say, this is another example of a candidate padding her resume. How big of a deal is it?
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I mean, I think it's going to be looked at exactly as you just said.
The -- the problem here is, is that it didn't need to be exaggerated. If it was a misstatement, OK, it was a misstatement. But the fact is that, Bosnia, though there had been a peace agreement signed that went into effect three months earlier, was not the safest place in the universe.
And, so, this sort of memory looks as though she's padding it, when, in fact, she didn't actually need to. I don't understand these candidates sometimes. I don't get it. She could have talked about going to Bosnia three months after the peace treaty was put into effect. She could have talked about what she saw there.
And, instead, there's this whole story. And it's the kind of thing that people have come to hate about politicians. So, I don't quite get it. But I think, you know, it's harmful for people who are on the fence. It's fodder for the Obama campaign. Is it fatal? No, I don't think it's fatal.
COOPER: Jeffrey, I mean, obviously, this is a candidate who has been stressing her foreign policy experience. Does this cut to that -- that question?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR ANALYST: Well, it raises the whole puzzling question -- and I really think it is puzzling -- is, what kind of qualification to be president is being first lady? We have never had a first lady run for president.
You know, sometimes, she says she was very influential. Certainly, on health care, she was influential. She says she wasn't really for NAFTA, even though Bill Clinton was obviously a big sponsor for NAFTA. Here, she's claiming some foreign policy experience, but what exactly she did as first lady in foreign policy remains kind of mysterious.
And a controversy like this again raises of questions of what exactly she did as first lady that qualifies her to be president.
COOPER: Joe, you certainly covered the Clintons a long time. What do you make of it, Joe?
JOE KLEIN, COLUMNIST, "TIME": Well, actually, tonight, I had dinner with someone who was on that plane...
KLEIN: ... with Hillary Clinton.
KLEIN: And -- and the fact is that they were told that there was -- that they had to take evasive action because of sniper fire, one of those precipitous landings that a lot of us have -- have taken, but, on the ground, there was obviously no problem.
It's a war story, and -- and she exaggerated it. And it doesn't speak well of her. And it's very un-Hillary like. But could I just, for the sake of the fact that we're in silly season now, and everybody -- all these candidates are totally exhausted, just plead for charity, not only for her, but for the Obama supporters who have said embarrassing things in the next segment and...
KLEIN: ... for John McCain a week ago?
I mean, these are not the important issues in the election. The important issues are two wars, an economic crisis, and -- and the need for energy independence.
COOPER: Yes, but, you know, there are a lot of folks out there who -- I guess, in this case, it's probably more Obama supporters -- and, clearly, the Obama campaign says this is important. This is a candidate who has talked about her role in the Northern Ireland peace agreements and other issues about going to Kosovo and going to Macedonia and negotiating on behalf of Kosovo refugees.
You think this is all, Joe, just part of silly season?
KLEIN: I think that there is -- that being first lady really isn't the greatest credential for being commander in chief. But that's something that we have known in the past.
The question is whether you blow up these little exaggerations that everybody makes, including candidates, to the point where it obscures the real issues in the campaign. I'm willing to give her a break on this one, even though, as I said, it's very much unlike her, and it's clearly her telling a war story.
CROWLEY: You know, I -- I just disagree with Joe in this -- in this sense.
She has sold this as one of the things that shows that she has foreign policy credentials. So, you cannot, on the one hand say, you know, we came under sniper fire, and we ran with our heads down to the cars, and, on the other hand, have these sort of pictures as she stops and talks to this 8-year-old girl, because it undermines -- I mean, she put out five points much: Here are my -- you know, part of foreign policy credentials, and this was one of them.
So, again, I don't get it. But I certainly do think that it goes, as Jeffrey alluded to, to one of what she has seen as her strengths: I am ready to be commander in chief, because I have foreign policy experience.
Well, this brings into question at least one of those five.
TOOBIN: And I think the reason we're looking at stories like this is that what we would really like to talk about are differences on the issues between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, but they're just not there.
So, we're looking at their claims about their experiences. We're looking at the bizarre things their supporters sometimes say, because, on the real meat of the campaign, there's just not that much to chew on between them.
KLEIN: But wait a second. Can I -- could I just say that there are major questions about Iraq, for example, that we aren't asking them that are a little bit deeper in the weeds than -- than the public really wants to go? There are things to ask. There are important questions on the table. What does Hillary Clinton, what does Barack Obama think about the need for a referendum in Kirkuk, which would probably give Kirkuk over to the Kurds, which might lead to a Turkish invasion?
We haven't asked those questions. But we fixate on these things. Obviously, she told a stretcher, as Mark -- Mark Twain would say, but I just don't think it's as important as some of the other things in the campaign.
COOPER: Fair enough. We're going to talk more. And we're actually covering Iraq later on tonight. We will have also more from our panel ahead.
From alleged Clinton double-talk now to an outbreak of campaign trash talk on both sides. With the race dragging on, as Joe pointed out, it's turning increasingly sour, especially on the staff and surrogate level. These guys really do not like each other. At this point, it shows, name-calling, finger-pointing getting worse by the day.
CNN's Jim Acosta is "Keeping Them Honest."
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On their daily conference calls, the Obama campaign...
DAVID PLOUFFE, OBAMA CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Questioning patriotism is something that we don't think has a place in this campaign.
ACOSTA: ... and the Clinton campaign came out swinging.
PHIL SINGER, CLINTON CAMPAIGN MANAGER: It's now clear that the Obama campaign is being fueled by insults and slander.
ACOSTA: It's a smackdown that intensified three days ago with Bill Clinton in North Carolina.
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think it would be a great thing if we had an election where you had two people who loved this country and were devoted to the interests of the country.
ACOSTA: Obama surrogate retired Air Force General Tony McPeak immediately went nuclear. Off camera, McPeak accused the former president of Cold War McCarthyism.
GEN. TONY MCPEAK (RET.), OBAMA SUPPORTER: I'm saddened to see a president employ these kind of tactics.
ACOSTA: The Clinton campaign cried foul, drawing this response from former Iowa Democratic Party chairman and Obama supporter Gordon Fischer, who said in his blog, "This is a stain on the former president's legacy, much worse, much deeper than the one on Monica Lewinsky's blue dress." But that's not all. Take Hillary Clinton supporter James Carville's attack on former Bill Clinton Cabinet member Bill Richardson's endorsement of Obama. The New Mexico governor's endorsement, said Carville, "came right around the anniversary of the day when Judas sold out for 30 pieces of silver."
Richardson fired back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "FOX NEWS SUNDAY")
GOV. BILL RICHARDSON (D), NEW MEXICO: Well, I'm not going to get in the gutter like that. And that's typical of many of the people around Senator Clinton. They think they have a sense of entitlement to the presidency.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: "Keeping Them Honest," we asked some political analysts whether this battle royal is inflicting long-term damage on the party.
LARRY SABATO, DIRECTOR, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA CENTER FOR POLITICS: Many of these insults will be used again against the eventual nominee. This is isn't the last we have heard of these exchanges. And they will have added credibility, because the Republicans will say, we didn't say this. Fellow Democrats said this about your nominee.
ACOSTA (on camera): As for Gordon Fischer's riff on Monica Lewinsky, the former Iowa Democratic Party leader says he has removed the remark from his blog and apologized, calling his own comments tasteless.
Jim Acosta, CNN, New York.
COOPER: James Carville joins us now. He's, of course, a CNN political contributor and a Clinton confidant.
James, you called Governor Richardson's endorsement of Obama -- quote -- "an act of betrayal" and compared him to Judas.
JAMES CARVILLE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. I did.
COOPER: Shouldn't make someone make decisions based on what they think is best for the country, not -- not repaying past debts?
CARVILLE: First of all, I thought -- I thought it was a an appropriate metaphor. I didn't say anything -- I remain friendly with Senator Kennedy, and Senator Daschle and other people that did.
And I thought, given the circumstances of this, that it was -- he needed to be singled out for special treatment. And I said it, and I said it in context, and I'm glad I said it.
COOPER: Why special treatment? What has he done that is so egregious, in your opinion?
CARVILLE: Well, because my -- my view is, is that this was a particularly disloyal thing to do. And that's my view. I was speaking for myself. I'm not speaking for anybody else. And that's my judgment no. It's my judgment now.
And I have found in my life that, if you think something and you feel it, then you ought to say it. And I did.
COOPER: Disloyal because of all the things the Clintons have done for him in the past?
CARVILLE: That and other reasons. I think that -- that he and I know the reasons.
And, again, I have -- I was not quoted out of context, Anderson. I was quoted accurately. I knew what the effects of this would be, and they were exactly as I predicted. And...
COOPER: You're alluding to other things I guess which you don't want to say publicly?
CARVILLE: Well, no, I mean, I just know the relationship. I know -- and I think that he -- in my -- in the James Carville world -- I'm not of the Washington world -- I think that loyalty counts for something.
COOPER: Dude, aren't you Mr. Washington?
CARVILLE: Well, again, I live here, but my -- if I have a sense of something, I tend to try to say it. And I thought that this was particularly egregious. And I came up with a clever way to say it. And I think it -- I think it had the desired effect. I'm glad I said it.
COOPER: Judas, obviously, was a key figure. Do you think the Richardson endorsement is that important?
CARVILLE: Well, I don't -- I'm using a -- a metaphor, if you will.
I wouldn't get too carried away as to -- to sort of exact parallel with something. I think I was making a point, and I think I made it very well. And I think people understand it, that I thought that this was an act of betrayal. And I still do. And, again, I can't tell you anything other than I made the point, I did it intentionally, and I did it knowing the -- the effect it would have. COOPER: Richardson responded to your comments, calling them gutter politics. And he said that some around the Clinton campaign feel entitled to the presidency.
CARVILLE: I have no idea what he's talking about. I don't have any sense of entitlement. Anything I -- I never worked in the government. I have never lobbied in the government, or any such thing as that. I don't know what he's talking about.
Furthermore, I never talked to Senator Clinton or President Clinton about this. This is my views. The truth of the matter is, is that the Clinton campaign said I ought to go out and talk about health care. I doubt if you would be having me on here to get my views on health care.
But, at any rate, that this -- I had something to say. A gentleman by the name of Healy from "The New York Times" called me and asked me for a comment, and I gave him the exact comment I wanted. It was transcribed accurately and put into context accurately.
COOPER: Richardson also suggested that it was maybe time for Senator Clinton to step aside for the sake of the party.
He said -- and I quote -- "Senator Clinton has a right to stay in the race. But, eventually, we don't want to go into the Democratic Convention bloodied. This was another reason for my getting in and endorsing, the need to perhaps send a message that we need unity."
COOPER: Are you concerned these exchanges are going to inflict lasting damage on the party, that this thing is going to go on to the convention?
CARVILLE: Well, do you think -- Well, what extent are we talking about, Anderson?
COOPER: Well, let's talk about the race. Do you think the race should go all the way to the convention?
CARVILLE: Well, it's not -- it's up to -- I don't know how to say this, but we have Democrats in Pennsylvania. We have Democrats in North Carolina, in Indiana, in Oregon, and Kentucky, and West Virginia, and Puerto Rico that haven't been heard from.
In addition to that, about 8 percent to 9 percent of the Democratic Party lives in Florida or Michigan. It was Senator Clinton's desire, by the way, that -- that these Democrats be allowed a revote. As you're well aware, it was Senator Obama and his campaign that stopped this revote.
COOPER: Well, Obama he would have listened to what the DNC said.
CARVILLE: Again, it was -- it's very clear that no -- it's very clear that the Clinton camp wanted to have revotes in Florida, in Michigan, and Senator Obama didn't. My point is, is that it's really not up to -- it's up to Democrats. Maybe I have a quaint view of things, but I don't think it's -- I think it's up to these Democrats, and let's let them vote.
And, at the conclusion of the vote, if the party has a nominee, if that nominee is Senator Obama, as I said earlier on this network, this little corporal will sew his chevrons back up and salute and go to work.
But I completely dispute the idea that, somehow or another, that Democrats shouldn't be allowed to vote. I have never seen a Democrat in this country that doesn't want to participate in this process and be heard. And I'm delighted that -- I think it's unfortunate that Senator Obama wants to stop the clock with three minutes and 30 seconds left to go in this thrilling game, but that's his business.
COOPER: We are going to have more from James Carville after the break.
Plus: the Easter message from Barack Obama's new preacher, parts of it definitely not warm and fuzzy. We will hear what he had to say about a former pastor, Reverend Wright.
And later, these stories:
COOPER (voice-over): He's the Republican choice for president, but is he a real Republican?
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm a conservative Republican.
COOPER: Did John McCain consider flipping parties? Is he being honest about it now? A story emerges from his past, a side of the candidate you might not know.
Also, a murdered millionaire, a surprising suspect. Did the chauffeur conspire in the killing, and why did it take nearly two years to build the case against him?
"Crime and Punishment" -- tonight on 360.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "FOX NEWS SUNDAY")
RICHARDSON: Well, I'm not going to get in the gutter like that. And that's typical of many of the people around Senator Clinton. They think they have a sense of entitlement to the presidency.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Bill Richardson's response after being compared to Judas by James Carville.
Now, a bit earlier, you heard Carville stand by his remarks and say, in so many words, suck it up, pal. He believes this campaign is actually far from nasty. He says there's just too much whining going on.
Here's more of our conversation.
COOPER: So, the notion that having this race continue on all the way to convention not only causes problems because of nasty rhetoric back and forth, but, also, that it gives John McCain time to kind of be on his own and focus on winning?
CARVILLE: Again, you disenfranchise -- you want to tell people in Pennsylvania they shouldn't be heard? That's their business. Or that's your business. The press can do that. The other candidates can do that. I think that this campaign can go on.
I don't know of any, you know, when you talk -- I think these candidates have behaved pretty well for the most part. I wrote an op- ed piece in "The Financial Times" a couple of weeks ago. But the most -- the thing that's kind of the most annoying is just the whining that goes on "Oh, it's so terrible out there."
CARVILLE: And this is an adult thing. This is a big time in our country's history. We need to have a big election about big things.
And we should. And I had some personal views about Governor Richardson, and I expressed them, and I expressed them in a colorful way. And I'm glad I did.
COOPER: So, the stuff that is going on, I mean, some of the rhetoric you had -- this weekend, you had an Obama aide comparing Clinton's remarks to McCarthyism. You had talking about -- Monica Lewinsky's dress was brought back into all this.
You say this is just the rough-and-tumble of the campaign, and people should stop whining?
CARVILLE: Well, I mean, it's part of the -- yes, it's part of the sideshow. People should be more judicious sometimes in what they say, but I think that Senator Obama and Senator Clinton have conducted themselves, for the most part, reflecting pretty well on the Democratic Party.
And I think that they are the two people that really matter in this contest. And I think that -- I think, a lot of times, we -- we rush to the sort of sideshow, if you will. And I can say, it doesn't -- if Senator Obama is the nominee, I will enthusiastically be for him.
But I'm not for disenfranchising the rest of these Democrats. I think we need to hear from them. And I think they want to be heard.
COOPER: How do you see your candidate -- how do you see your candidate still winning?
CARVILLE: Well, first of all, she's not that far behind. Secondly, if she starts -- if she does very well in Pennsylvania and rolls in and does quite well in places like North Carolina, Indiana, Kentucky, in West Virginia, Puerto Rico, Oregon, let's see.
And I think that that -- you can't -- it's no mantle to say that we won the popular vote when you're stopping -- you're not even counting the popular vote in two states. So, that's the kind of argument. And I think, at the conclusion of this process, that the superdelegates are going to have to look at a totality of circumstances and make a decision. And the decision that they make is the decision that we're all going to live with.
COOPER: James Carville, appreciate your time. Thanks.
CARVILLE: You bet, Anderson.
COOPER: Well, still to come in the hour, we are going to dig deeper on the nasty politics that are going on. And wait until you hear what Barack Obama's new pastor is saying at the pulpit.
First, Erica Hill joins us with a 360 bulletin -- Erica.
ERICA HILL, HEADLINE NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, we begin in Iraq, where the bodies of two U.S. contractors have been found, John Roy Young of Missouri and Ronald Withrow of Texas, kidnapped more than a year ago in separate incidents.
Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and his former chief of staff are facing perjury and obstruction of justice charges tonight. They are accused of lying under oath about their alleged romantic affair. Sexually explicit text messages appeared to contradict the mayor's testimony, denying a romantic relationship. Kilpatrick says he's looking forward to complete exoneration.
And, in Marietta, George, sentencing for the so-called "Barbie Bandits." Remember these two? Ashley Miller will serve two years in prison, followed by eight years of probation, while Heather Johnston faces 10 years probation, but no jail time. The 19-year-olds stole $11,000 in a bank heist last year that ended with a trip to the hair salon and a spending spree at the local mall -- Anderson.
COOPER: And with a nom de guerre like "Barbie Bandits," I'm sure they will do very well in prison.
Erica, stay right there.
"What Were They Thinking?" is next. On your mark, get set, go -- brides-to-be on a mad dash for a good deal on wedding dresses.
HILL: Don't get in their way.
COOPER: Yes. This gets very ugly very, very quickly.
Also tonight, far more serious stuff: Barack Obama's new pastor at the pulpit and speaking out about his predecessor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright. We're digging deeper. You will hear the comments yourself and see what you think -- when 360 continues.
COOPER: Erica, time now for our segment "What Were They Thinking?"
We take you back to Atlanta, where future brides made the mad dash for a discounted wedding dress at Filene's Basement. Ah, it's the annual pilgrimage. There's a lot of bunny ears there.
HILL: And bunny ears.
COOPER: Yes. More than 2,000 gowns were up for grabs, some for just under $250...
HILL: Great deal.
COOPER: ... huge discounts from the retail price, up to $12,000. It's an annual tradition in the many Filene's Basement stores, I understand.
HILL: No, it is. And I actually did it once when I was getting...
COOPER: You did, really?
HILL: I did. I recruited some friends. And -- and it was great, because one of my girlfriends, she was not letting anybody get that dress out of her hands.
HILL: Ugliest thing I had ever seen, but she figured we could trade it.
COOPER: Actually -- Erica, I'm actually just getting word now that we actually may have some video of you at Filene's.
COOPER: Do we have that video? Have we isolated Erica in the crowds? (LAUGHTER)
COOPER: Wait a minute. We're told this is video. There. That's Erica Hill right there. Do you see her running? And then she's about to -- there. That's her right there.
HILL: Listen, don't get between me and my dresses. I need to try them all on first to decide whether I want them or not, and then you can look at them.
COOPER: That's Erica when she had black hair.
Yes. She doesn't like to talk about that period in her life.
HILL: It's exhausting, too.
COOPER: All right.
Still ahead: defending Barack Obama's controversial pastor. His new pastor spoke during Easter Sunday service. You will want to hear what he had to say about Reverend Wright.
Plus, John McCain party-hopping? Did he really consider becoming a Democrat? We will investigate.
And here's tonight's "Beat 360": President Bush and the Easter Bunny at the start of the annual Easter egg roll at the White House.
Now, here's the caption from our staff winner, Marshall: "Bunny, you're doing a heck of a job."
COOPER: Crickets? That got crickets? I thought that deserved more than crickets.
Anyway, think you can do better? Go to CNN.com/360. Send us your submission. We will announce the winner at the end of the program.
Also, Erica and I are also blogging at CNN.com/360blog. So, go there, talk to us.
We will be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REVEREND OTIS MOSS III, TRINITY UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST: He had more visibility on the cross than he did throughout his entire ministry. He had more visibility on the cross than he had through his whole three years of ministry. He had more visibility being crucified than when he was not.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: That's Reverend Otis Moss III, Barack Obama's new pastor, this Easter Sunday.
In addition to preaching the classic Gospel, he compared the Jeremiah Wright controversy to a crucifixion experience, as you heard. Senator Obama was not in attendance. We should point out he and his family spent the holiday on vacation in the U.S. Virgin Islands. I think we have the video there.
The question now, though, is, has the controversy died down?
Joining us again, CNN's Candy Crowley and Jeffrey Toobin, also "TIME" magazine's Joe Klein. His column in this week's edition is titled "Obama's Challenge, and Ours."
Candy, first of all, as we said, Obama wasn't at the Easter service of the new pastor. He gave this sermon defending Reverend Wright, who now retired. Do you think this church is -- I mean, is this going to continue to be a problem, or do you feel like he's turned a corner? I mean, there are these polls out which now show he's back up.
CROWLEY: Well, I -- you know, it could -- it depends, I think, on how long it continues playing.
I mean, it's pretty difficult to tie Barack Obama to a pastor who I don't even believe he's heard yet. It's still his church. They have known this minister, Jeremiah Wright, the retired minister, for 20 years. They're going to defend him. I don't think this particular sermon has any backwash over Barack Obama.
But I -- I think it goes on for a little bit. But, as you say, in the polls, we saw him go down. We saw him come back up again.
COOPER: Joe, your article about Obama's challenge and ours, what is Obama's challenge now, as you see it?
KLEIN: Well, Obama's challenge is -- is to convince white people, especially white working-class voters, that he's not some kind of a radical.
Our challenge is to -- is to take up his challenge, which is to -- especially us in the media -- to -- to see past this current controversy and make this a big election, as James Carville said, after his attempt to make it a small election by talking about Judas, but to make it a big election, which is an election on the big issues that are facing us.
You know, this is a really difficult situation. Obama mentioned it in his speech. That kind of preaching that we just saw is very difficult on white ears, and it probably shouldn't be, but for those of us that have been in black churches, I find it really exhilarating many times. And -- but we do have a fairly deep racial divide in this country.
And the question is whether people who are just learning about Barack Obama associate him with that or with his essentially moderate views.
COOPER: It's interesting, Jeffrey. When you're listening to Governor Richardson and his endorsement, what seemed to strike a lot of Clinton people in particular wasn't just the endorsement but also the idea that Hillary Clinton should maybe drop out, that it's about that time. That's obviously of great concern.
TOOBIN: That's the big fear. Right. Because everyone acknowledges at this point that neither candidate is going to have enough pledged delegates to get to the 2,025. It's going to be up to the super delegates.
And the super delegates want this thing over with. And it appears that they are going to ratify whatever the pledged delegates' judgment is going to be. They are not going to go against the will of the pledged delegates.
And if Hillary Clinton can't catch up with pledged delegates, which it seems like it's going to be very hard for her to do, the super delegates are going to start to push her out. And that's what the Richardson thing is. More than the endorsement itself, was that reasoning, I think, was the problem.
COOPER: So, Candy, what are the Clinton people hoping for and focusing on? I mean, is it -- are they just waiting to see if Barack Obama somehow implodes? Is that their best strategy, their best hope?
CROWLEY: I think --I think that's part of it. Because right now it's down to electability. Their argument to the super delegates is, "I'm more electable. I'm the one that can beat John McCain. He can't beat John McCain."
So as these things come out, if they hurt Barack Obama, that gives -- that gives some substance to that argument. They also would like, obviously, to go into the end of the primary and caucus season with something to sell to those super delegates, which is why Michigan and Florida come into play. Because what she would like to say is I have more popular vote. Because right now Barack Obama has more popular votes, has won more states, and has more pledged delegates.
If they go in like that, the electability is going to be a very, very hard sell. So she needs both some implosion on his part, some continuing bad news, and she needs to pull ahead in one of those categories.
TOOBIN: But I don't think it's just the implosion. I mean, there are a lot of primaries left, as the Clinton people point out. If she can figure out how to run the table, if she can win Pennsylvania -- and she's leading. Indiana, Kentucky, Oregon, West Virginia, North Carolina, these are all states that she has a chance in. If she can somehow win them all, then I think she really think she might have argument the super delegates might be able to...
KLEIN: I don't think she does.
CROWLEY: I don't either.
KLEIN: I don't think she does. I think because the proportional representation is going to be hard for her to get over the pledged delegate hump. I think that there's one question on the table right now, and that is whether Barack Obama has been mortally wounded by Jeremiah Wright...
TOOBIN: Really, Joe? You think it's that big a deal? Really?
KLEIN: I think -- I think that what the Democratic super delegates are going to be looking at is how he does in Pennsylvania, how -- whether he wins North Carolina. If he loses North Carolina, he's in trouble.
But at that point, the Democratic Party is facing a big decision, and we can't predict now how it will go. It may well be that a small group of super delegates choose not to vote at all in the first ballot and move it to a second ballot when all bets are off.
It may be that the party decides to go in a different -- in a different direction. I think that it's very difficult for us sitting here now to predict what the psychology of the Democratic Party is going to be if the bottom drops out under Barack Obama...
COOPER: We've all been so good at predicting what's going to be happening in this race. I'm not sure why you want to be so reticent now.
KLEIN: That's why I've been reticent throughout, because this is the weirdest year in politics I've ever experienced. And I've done nine of these.
COOPER: Everybody agrees with you on that one. Joe, thanks very much. And Jeff Toobin, Candy Crowley, as well.
Up next, John McCain under fire for not being conservative enough. That's not new. But is he so moderate he once thought about becoming a Democrat? We've got the "Raw Politics" behind the comments that are coming back to haunt him tonight.
Also ahead, a grim milestone in Iraq: 4,000 American troops killed. We'll talk to Michael Ware in Iraq and Peter Bergen, coming up.
COOPER: Senator John McCain just back from Iraq, campaigning today in California as the presumptive Republican nominee. McCain has a head start in launching his national campaign.
Now, one of the biggest challenges he faces is actually within his own party. And tonight, there's new information about how close he may have come in the past to changing parties.
CNN's Joe Johns has the "Raw Politics."
JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Is John McCain right for the right? On the campaign trail, McCain wears his conservative colors on his sleeve. But some Republicans question his loyalty.
LARRY SABATO, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA CENTER FOR POLITICS: It's remarkable that somebody with that kind of track record could become the party nominee for president.
JOHNS: These questions, that the Republican presidential candidate may have more in common with Democrats than his own party, have dogged him for years. Tonight, they resurfaced again.
"The New York Times" reports McCain approached Democrats about leaving the GOP to join their ranks in 2001. Democrats were testing the waters with several Republican Senators, and McCain was one of the Senators they asked to jump ship so they could gain control of the Senate.
The McCain campaign says that's what happened. But the "Times" says, a McCain staffer may have been the first to raise the issue.
Fast forward three years later, when John Kerry was running for president, and once again McCain was mixing it up with the other side. Listen to what he told ABC News.
CHARLIE GIBSON, ABC NEWS: If he came across the aisle and asked you, would you even entertain the idea? Or will you rule it out for good and all and ever right now?
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: John Kerry is a very close friend of mine. We've been friends for years. Obviously, I would entertain it.
JOHNS: But who came up with the idea? Once again, depends on who you ask.
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: His people similarly approached me to engage in a discussion about his potentially being on the ticket.
JOHNS: McCain quickly responded, then, calling it a fantasy. More recently, he tried to set the record straight.
MCCAIN: I'm a conservative Republican. So when I was approached, when we had that conversation back in 2004, I mean, that's why I never even considered such a thing.
JOHNS: Even if he didn't suggest it, McCain's dalliance with Democrats could leave conservatives uneasy. And get this. That might be a good thing for him. SABATO: When conservatives are complaining about McCain, McCain appeals more strongly to the swing independents who will actually determine the election in November.
JOHNS: Joe Johns, CNN, New York.
COOPER: No doubt not the last we've heard of this on the campaign trail.
Up next, 4,000 U.S. troops killed in Iraq. That is the grim toll. President Bush says they did not die in vain. Democrats keep pushing to get troops out. We'll have a -- take a look with Michael Ware and Peter Bergen, up ahead.
Also, "Crime and Punishment." Surprising suspects in the murder of a millionaire, when 360 continues.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: One day, people will look back at this moment in history and say, "Thank God there were courageous people willing to serve." Because they laid the foundations for peace for generations to come. That -- I have vowed in the past, and I will vow so long as I'm president to make sure that those lives were not lost in vain.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: President Bush today as another grim milestone was reached: 4,000 troops in Iraq have been killed in the way. Four thousand.
Of course, they're not numbers. They have names. Names like 26- year-old David B. Williams in North Carolina, a sergeant who died in an IED attack in Baghdad over the weekend.
In Washington tonight to help understand the strength of the enemy, CNN terrorism analyst Peter Bergen. We're also hoping to reestablish connection with Michael Ware, who's in Amman. We're having some technical problems.
Peter, the White House spokesperson commented on the 4,000 dead Americans, saying the president, quote, "bears the responsibility for the decisions that he made. He also bears responsibility to continue to focus on succeeding."
Let's talk about some of the rationalizations for war. One was the fly paper theory. Better to fight them there than to fight them here. Has that proven to be the case?
PETER BERGEN, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, I think the fly paper theory, better to fight them in Baghdad than in Boston, is based on a logical flaw, which is the idea that there's a finite group of people you can attract to one place and kill.
In fact, according to a study that I conducted with a colleague at NYU, Paul Cruickshank, we found that jihadi terrorist attacks had actually gone up seven-fold in the period after the invasion of Iraq, if you compared it to the period after September 11.
So the idea that somehow the Iraq war would -- that the Iraq war would basically draw -- somehow draw the jihadist energy down is not demonstrated by the facts, Anderson.
COOPER: Another rationalization for the war, the allegations of this link between Iraq and al Qaeda, at this point there's no longer any question that there never was a connection between the two? Correct?
BERGEN: Well, the Pentagon think tank just recently released an assessment based on a review of 600,000 Iraqi documents and thousands of hours of interviews with senior Ba'athist officials. And that assessment last night said there were no operational links between al Qaeda and Saddam.
That's the same assessment that the 9/11 Commission made. That's the same assessment that the Senate Intelligence Committee made. They assured us there's nothing there. There may have been some historical links in the sense that al Qaeda and Iraqi intelligence played footsy back in the mid-'90s.
But you couldn't make the argument, Anderson, we're going to go to war because of some contacts a decade ago between al Qaeda and Saddam's intelligence. That would not have been the rationalization for a war that the United States and its public would have bought into, Anderson.
COOPER: You hear Barack Obama say on the campaign trail, I think Hillary Clinton, as well, that Iraq -- that al Qaeda is more powerful -- more powerful now than at any time since 9/11. Is that true?
BERGEN: Well, it's certainly not at the point it was on September 10, 2001. But according to the assessment of 16 U.S. intelligence agencies, the National Intelligence Estimate of July, al Qaeda has regrouped. Clearly, Iraq has given it additional energy.
It's not back at the point it was able to attack the United States, but it's certainly regenerated its capabilities. And part of the reason for that, Anderson, is of course the ability that it's taken from the Iraq war to recruit, to radicalize and to confirm its narrative of a supposed war against Islam by the United States.
COOPER: And this notion that they're somehow all just hiding in caves, that's -- I mean, that's just not true. I mean, they're able to operate increasingly within Pakistan itself and obviously, as we've seen, into Afghanistan, as well.
BERGEN: Well, indeed. I mean, one of the -- one of the cloud -- one of the silver linings in the cloud right now that's going on in Pakistan is that al Qaeda is making, perhaps, a strategic error which -- the Taliban, its allies -- in attacking in Pakistan itself, which after all, is where it's headquartered. This may turn out to be a mistake.
We've had 60 suicide attacks in Pakistan in the last -- last year, something like 17 or 18 already this year. That may provoke the Pakistani establishment to do what's really necessary, which is to extirpate al Qaeda and the Taliban and the headquarters along the Afghan/Pakistan border, Anderson.
COOPER: Peter Bergen, appreciate your time. Thank you. Interesting discussion.
Again, we wish we had been able to reestablish connection with Michael Ware. He's in Amman. We had some technical problems. We apologize for that.
Just ahead, the war without the spin, the 360 special, "Shock and Awe: 5 Years Later." That's tonight, starting about 15 minutes at 11 p.m. Eastern Time.
We're going to take another look at our breaking story from the top of the program, Senator Hillary Clinton late today admitting she misspoke in her account of a 1996 trip to Bosnia's first lady. She had claimed on several times that she ran head down across the airport tarmac in Tuzla under sniper fire. Instead this tape shows a peaceful scene, including a poetry reading from a little girl on the tarmac.
Today Senator Clinton said this to the editorial board of the "Philadelphia Daily News." Quote, "Now let me tell you what I can remember, OK? Because what I was told was that we had to land a certain way and move quickly because of the threat of sniper fire. So I misspoke. I didn't say that in my book or other times, but if I said something that made it seem as though there was actual fire, that's not what I was told."
She goes on to say, "I was told we had to land a certain way. We had to have our bulletproof stuff on because of the threat of sniper fire. I was also told that the greeting ceremony had been moved away from the tarmac but that there was this 8-year-old girl, and I can't -- I can't rush by her. I've got to at least greet her, so I made -- I took her stuff and then I left. Now that's my memory of it."
CNN's Candy Crowley has been following this story and joins us again once tonight.
As we talked about before, I mean, I guess the importance of this story is in the eye of the beholder. Her supporters will say much ado about nothing. Some are on the blog right now who are live blogging. Others, Obama supporters, say, look, this is classic Clinton.
CROWLEY: Yes. I mean, absolutely. And we're finding that so much in all of these things that are cropping up, Anderson, on both sides. That it doesn't seem to make a lot of difference in terms of how people view these candidates, because to the Obama people, it's going to be one more indication that Hillary Clinton is exaggerating her foreign policy experience. It is legitimate, I think, to question this, because in fact she did lay out about five things that she said showed her foreign policy experience. And one of them was this account of her landing in Bosnia.
So, listen, it's going to get scrutinized. I don't think it's a game changer. But I do think that it is one of those things that you move into the next day and you were off your game. You don't want to be off your game.
COOPER: Does it surprise you -- does it surprise you that it took so long for Senator Clinton to address this directly? I mean, this has sort of been percolating out there for quite some time now.
CROWLEY: Well, you know, you tend not to address these things until it bubbles up. I mean, you really don't go after -- I mean, unless it's something really egregious. And I think this was the first time that I recall that she was directly asked and said, look, what happened was, you know, the picture is saying a thousand words? This picture showed up.
Finally, everybody went back through their archives, said, can we found this date? They found it, and what you're seeing is a very different scene than what was described. So I think once the picture was out there, you have to come back and address it.
COOPER: Senator Clinton was on the campaign trail today. Barack Obama is on vacation. Do you read anything into that?
CROWLEY: I don't.
COOPER: The fact that he takes -- that he's able to take a vacation, does that say confidence to you or...
CROWLEY: You know, I think it says tired. I mean, I don't read a whole...
CROWLEY: ... lot into that. I mean, she was -- they were both down over Easter weekend. You know, he had planned this vacation with his family. He talks fairly often about, you know, his young girls and wanting to be with them. So I don't -- I don't read confidence into that. I don't read not confidence into her being out there. I just think it's...
COOPER: In all, it's just a stupid question. Sorry. You gave it your best shot.
CROWLEY: That's OK.
COOPER: But it was just a dumb question. Candy, appreciate it. Thanks.
CROWLEY: All right. COOPER: Up next, a surprising -- you know, I've got to be honest. A surprising new twist in the murder of a Greenwich, Connecticut, millionaire. Who police say did it and why it took them almost two years to make their case, when 360 continues.
COOPER: Tonight, a new development in a crime story that has made headlines from here to Hong Kong. You may remember the case of two brothers who were rich and powerful and both murdered. One as poisoned by his wife, but the other brother's mysterious death went unsolved for years, until police say, now.
With tonight's "Crime and Punishment" report, here's CNN's Randi Kaye.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He was found in the basement of his gated estate in Greenwich, Connecticut, hands and feet bound, stabbed in the chest. No sign of forced entry. Police believe millionaire Andrew Kissel was killed by someone he knew. But whom? And why?
Andrew Kissel had plans to plead guilty to millions in real estate fraud but was killed just days before meeting with prosecutors. Maybe someone he'd crossed thought prison would be getting off easy. Or maybe it was his wife who moved out not long after writing an e- mail fantasizing about pummeling her husband to death and "enjoying the sensation of each and every shot."
Wrong, say police. It was these men, 21-year-old Leonard Trujillo and his cousin, Carlos Trujillo.
CHIEF DAVID RIDBERG, GREENWICH, CONNECTICUT POLICE DEPARTMENT: From the get-go, I mean, he was close to Andrew Kissel and with the information we had at the beginning was he was the last one to see him alive.
KAYE: Forty-seven-year-old Carlos Trujillo was Andrew Kissel's chauffeur. Trujillo pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to commit murder, a felony.
(on camera) For two years, police here in Greenwich, Connecticut, have been searching for Kissel's killer. At the time of the murder they interviewed Carlos Trujillo, fingerprinted him, even searched his storage facility. Why'd they wait so long to make an arrest?
The chief of police says they've been gathering evidence against him, though they would not say what evidence they have, or how strong it is.
(voice-over) Defense lawyer Lindy Urso says Carlos Trujillo checked on Kissel the weekend of the murder. He accuses investigators of framing his client, even forcing his cousin to testify against him.
(on camera) What reason would police have to get someone to make a false confession?
LINDY URSO, CARLOS TRUJILLO'S LAWYER: The reason would be to close out a case. They had their theory from minute one. Their theory was Carlos did it. And it seems like they've been doing all they can to make that theory fit.
KAYE (voice-over): Leonard Trujillo, the cousin, is charged with murder and conspiracy to commit murder but hasn't entered a plea. His wife did not return our calls but told the "New York Post" Carlos Trujillo offered her husband money to do something, but he didn't do it.
When her husband was arrested, she says he told her, "I have to go testify against Carlos."
Carlos Trujillo's lawyer tells CNN, Leonard may have had enough of his own problems to testify falsely against Carlos. Two years ago when Carlos was first questioned, he talked to FOX News about his relationship with Kissel.
CARLOS TRUJILLO, KISSEL'S CHAUFFEUR: We are the best friend, you know? And he treated me like his son. I love him like my father, you know?
KAYE: Police won't comment on a motive, but Carlos Trujillo's lawyer says his client had nothing to gain. After all, by many accounts, Andrew Kissel was broke.
COOPER: So police won't comment on a motive. Have you found out any reason why somebody would have done this?
KAYE: Two years ago, Anderson, there was some talk of this murder-for-hire plot, possibly. And the police chief has said that he hasn't ruled that out. And we asked him about it today. He said that, even if Andrew Kissel was broke and he hired these guys to kill him because he wanted to leave his kids this life insurance money, because he didn't have anything else to leave them, murder is murder, and they still have to be tried in the case.
COOPER: Bizarre story. Randi, thanks.
Erica Hill joins us again with a "360 News and Business Bulletin" -- Erica.
ERICA HILL, HEADLINE NEWS ANCHOR: Hi, Anderson.
Iowa City police say a van involved in a fatal crash today belongs to a man facing an embezzlement trial whose wife and four children were found dead in their home early this morning. The van was found in flames on an interstate nine miles away. The body of the driver has not yet been identified.
JPMorgan Chase trying to soothe angry shareholders today by upping its buyout offer for Bear Stearns to $10 a share. That's five times its original offer. The new bid would give JPMorgan control of nearly 40 percent of its ailing rival.
And the Justice Department today approving the proposed merger of rival satellite radio operators XM and Sirius, saying it didn't believe the $5-billion proposed deal would harm consumers, Anderson.
COOPER: Erica, thanks.
Now our "Beat 360" showdown. You know how it works. We post a picture on our Web site. We have cheesy music playing. Erica sort of bobbles her head like that, and you try to come up with a better caption than our staff.
Tonight's picture, take a look. Taken just before the annual Easter egg roll began on the South Lawn of the White House. It's the kid of picture that's easy to have some fun with.
Our staff winner was Marshall. His caption? "Bunny, you're doing a heck of a job."
Anyway, I liked it.
Tonight's viewer winner is Donna. Her entry: "Don't worry, Dick. They'll never guess that this is your undisclosed location."
All right. Remember, you can check out the caption that didn't quite make the cut at CNN.com/360. Feel free to play along next time.
Coming up at the top of the hour, a 360 special that is sadly fitting, given the news today out of Iraq: "Shock and Awe, 5 Years Later." That's next.
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