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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Worst Flooding in the Midwest; Michelle Obama Reintroduced in "The View"; Senator Obama's New Problem with American-Muslims; Tribute to Tim Russert; Heart Attack: the Silent Killer
Aired June 18, 2008 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, breaking news. Surging water. Rising water, moving fast, as one by one, levees on the Mississippi River failed to measure up.
We have the latest on where the next flooding could happen. And live reports from two towns where the damage already is heartbreaking.
Also tonight, Cindy McCain takes aim at Michelle Obama again. Questioning her remarks about America and by inference her patriotism. This as Michelle Obama appears on "The View." and appears to be undergoing a general election makeover. We'll have the details.
And what you don't see in this picture; Muslim women. American women, in head scarves told they couldn't sit behind Obama and Gore at this televised campaign stop. Obama's apologized but tonight there's outrage among many American-Muslims. We'll have the details.
We begin though with the breaking news.
Not just the flooding. Not just the failing levees, but the latest forecast of much more misery to come, day by day, levee by levee, town by town, home by home.
What we're looking at, tonight, what you're seeing here is for many, the worst flooding in a generation and for some the chilling prospect of the worst flooding in 100 years. Multiple levees over top today. Sandbagging continues, as you see back-breaking, thankless work it is. Racing the clock. Fighting the tide.
President Bush will be on the scene tomorrow. So will John McCain, though not with President Bush. Barack Obama was helping sandbag in Illinois over the weekend. The question now, though, is where will the next wave of flooding hit? When? And how bad could it be?
Severe weather expert Chad Myers is following the breaking news -- Chad.
CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: The answer to that, Anderson, is probably in an agriculture area, thanks goodness rather than in a city.
And I'll tell you why in a second. About 48 hours ago, we were sitting here and we were really going to and talking to the army corps of engineers. And they said, yes we have a bunch of levees that are in trouble. But if we put sandbags on top, we're going to be able to fix that.
Well, clearly now, we know that that didn't happen. There was just too literally too much volume coming down the river and too many places to try to take care of. As we got this water coming over the top of the levees, and right into the Lima Lake District, right into Meyer, Illinois. And it's going to be one of those nights where we're watching these levees very closely. As the bubble of the top, the crest, rolls down the river.
Let's get back to the graphic for a second. We're going to Meyer, Illinois because this town was completely inundated today. We're back into here, about 20 people completely out of that town now. We also know there's another levee break, near Indian graves, down near Quincy, Illinois, right there but again mainly affecting the agricultural areas.
So Anderson what happens when a levee breaks? Well, you know what? That's actually for some people, good news but for other people is bad news. The blue line is what has happened. The green line is the forecast.
The blue line, the first break, was last night. Look at that. The line went down. That's when the river went down. River went back up today. Another levee broke. That line went down again. That's what happens downriver, as well.
The expected crests are not as high downriver so therefore, probably the expected devastation downriver not as great, as well. The people that are affected, though, obviously great devastation to 25,000 acres flooded today. 60 people evacuated. And as you said earlier, 24 people, now dead in this flood.
COOPER: Unbelievable. Chad, thanks for that. Federal aid is already pouring into the area, to help places like Adams, Illinois, and one of dozens of counties now designated federal disaster areas. And you can see why from the pictures there.
FEMA sending in 200,000 MREs and 3 million bottles of water. President Bush, today, requested nearly $2 billion in relief money. The legislation is working its way through Congress. Help may be on the way.
But the hurt and the sheer scope of it all is immense. CNN's Dan Simon spent the day in Hannibal, Missouri. He's in Quincy, Illinois, tonight. "360s" Gary Tuchman is in Palo, Iowa. Let's go first to Dan Simon, Dan what's the latest?
DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson we're at the Quincy Civic Center, which is normally used for things like concerts and car shows. Now, it is the staging ground for a massive sandbagging operation. It's really been an incredible response more than 5,000 volunteers over the last several days.
A lot of what you're seeing being made here, these sandbags they are winding up in communities all over the place, including in Hannibal, Missouri, where we were earlier today. Take a look. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
SIMON: This is not a lake. It's the filthy, flooded waters of the Mississippi river.
LOU AMIGHETTI, OFFICER, MISSOURI STATE WATER PATROL: There's too many hazards. There's too much debris. And there is a lot of biohazard, such as sewage, electrical components and oil and gasoline, in the water right now.
SIMON: Believe it or not, these water patrol officers also found swimmers trying to cool off.
AMIGHETTI: We just asked them to get out of the water and explained to them the dangers of being in the water. And that's about it. Tell them to stay out of it.
SIMON: This is an industrial section of Hannibal, Missouri, home of Mark Twain. It's usually a popular tourist spot but no tourists on this trip.
The officers took us on a boat to see what the floods have done here. A towing company, restaurant, railroad tracks, are all under water. It happened when a surge of water backed up into a nearby creek. As bad as it looks now, it could get a whole lot worse. The levees could be the next to go. But the town is optimistic.
We're on the Mississippi River. And the river's not supposed to crest for a couple more days. But you can see what the town of Hannibal has done to prepare for that eventuality. That's the levee off there in the distance. And you can see, they put thousands of sandbags on top of it, to prevent the water from overtaking the levee.
An up-close view shows the effort to keep that levee intact. Some communities were not so lucky. Just north of here, in the tiny town of Meyer, Illinois, a levee gave way this morning. CNN producer Paul Bercaman, got a bird's-eye view.
PAUL BERCAMAN, CNN PRODUCER: Meyer, Illinois, small town of just about 30 people, you can see much of it under water today because of that breach in the levee.
SIMON: Back in Hannibal, the river surge rolls on.
AMIGHETTI: We're out here to keep an eye on the levees and keep people safe. And make sure people stay off the rivers.
COOPER: Dan where you are right now, in Quincy, the sandbagging operation is really to be a huge response. They're making sandbags for the whole area, aren't they?
SIMON: Yeah, for the whole area. This has been pretty much around the clock operation. Think about it. It's 9:00 local time. And you still have a lot of people here. They have made over a million sandbags over the last few days. About 200,000 sandbags a day.
And I got to tell you, this is not easy work. Each one of these things, this is about 35, 40 pounds. So, you get a pretty good workout doing this. I just spoke to this guy over here, Richard. He's been out here for the last six hours doing this labor. It's incredible.
COOPER: Neighbors helping out neighbors. Dan thanks for that.
In the town of Palo, Iowa, the water's gone. But so are homes and jobs and memories. Details from "360's" Gary Tuchman. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Betty and Mel Thompson have lived in this same modest house in Palo, Iowa their whole married life. That will now change.
BETTY THOMPSON, PALO, IOWA RESIDENT: First thing you got have to do is cry. Just cry and get it all out. Then, you're able to go on.
TUCHMAN: But now, it's a much different place they have returned to. After evacuating Palo, along with every other one of the 900 residents, because Palo was cut off from the outside world by the floodwaters.
Water has now receded. And the people of Palo are checking out their houses. And the town that now has checkpoints and is patrolled by military police.
How old are you, if you don't mind me asking.
MEL THOMPSON, PALO, IOWA RESIDENT: I am 76.
TUCHMAN: Did you ever imagine in your 76 years, something like this happening to you?
M. THOMPSON: Worked all my life to get it. And now, it's pretty much gone.
TUCHMAN: Their televisions, their computers, their memories. They moved everything out of the basement. But the first floors of almost all of Palo's houses were flooded, too.
Do you think you can stay in your home?
B. THOMPSON: I don't want to. I don't want to.
TUCHMAN: You mean it's not the same place that you knew and loved?
B. THOMPSON: It's not going to be the same place. And I don't think we'll ever get the smell out of it, no matter how much we disinfect. How much we power wash. That smell is always going to be there.
TUCHMAN: Downtown Palo looks like an abandoned movie set. The power is still out. The town is still largely uninhabitable.
Jeff Beauregarde (ph) is the town's mayor pro temp
Have you ever put a percentage on how many of these town's homes and businesses has been dead.
JEFF BEAUREGARDE, PALO, IOWA MAYOR PRO TEMP: 98 percent, 99 percent.
TUCHMAN: Iowa's only nuclear plant is just outside Palo. It wasn't damaged and is still operating. But the town's infrastructure was damaged.
This roadway was split in half by rushing floodwaters that hasn't receded here yet.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a road that goes between Palo, Iowa, and Center Point, Iowa. And it's also a connection to Interstate 380.
TUCHMAN: It's amazing, what's happened.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's just unbelievable. It's totally devastating for us as a county.
TUCHMAN: Nobody ever remembers this town flooding like this. Most Palo residents don't have flood insurance, even though for some here it would cost as little as $300 a year. The town's only day-care center was heavily damaged.
Deanna Garbers says she can't afford to rebuild it.
DEANNA GARBERS, PALO, IOWA BUSINESS OWNER: If I could sit on the floor and play dolls with the girls or build a Lego buildings with the boys, everything was ok. But I don't have that anymore. I don't have it anymore.
TUCHMAN: In Palo, Iowa, the future is now uncertain.
B. THOMPSON: We have each other. And we have faith. I don't know why the Lord did this to us. But I still have faith in him.
COOPER: Gary, what are the Thompsons going to do now? Are they giving up on moving back to their home?
TUCHMAN: Right now, Anderson, Mel and Betty are staying at one of their child's houses outside of Palo. But ultimately, they think they will rent the house or buy a house if they can afford it but most likely outside of Palo.
And some upsetting news I just learned about an hour ago. A few hours after we spent the day with the Thompsons, Mel got his finger stuck in a slat in his garage door. It's an electric garage door. The power is out. He was pulling it down. He got his finger stuck. He cut it very severely.
So right now, as we speak, Mel Thompson is in the emergency room. So, Mel, if you're watching, we hope you feel better. COOPER: Yes we certainly do. Gary thanks for that.
We'll of course be watching for the late developments throughout this program. I'm blogging, as well. Join the conversation, go to cnn.com/360.
Up next, a volley in the war of words between two would-be first ladies; Cindy McCain, taking a new shot at Michelle Obama's patriotism. Michelle Obama, trying to win over the women of "The View." Details on both.
Also what is wrong with this picture? According to some Muslim- Americans a lot. Not for what it shows but what it doesn't namely Muslim-American women in head scarves. We'll look at the controversy and cut through the spin with our political panel.
Plus family and friends paying tribute to Tim Russert. Tonight, a look at his silent killer, heart disease. Renowned surgeon, Dr. Wayne Isom with how you can prevent a heart attack. When 360 continues.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHELLE OBAMA, WIFE OF SENATOR OBAMA: I think the one thing that a nominee earns is the right to pick the vice president that they think will best reflect their vision of the country. And I'm just glad I will have nothing to do with it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You have no say-so whatsoever? You cannot --
M. OBAMA: I don't want it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Michelle Obama on "The View" today. Part of a reintroduction, you might say. Some would call it a makeover. Trying to soften her image for the general election. We're going to show you more from that appearance in a moment.
But first, a sign that Michelle Obama is still very much a lightning rod. In a new interview, Cindy McCain today, discussed Michelle Obama's past comments about America. And both candidates criticize the other for allowing their wives to be put under the microscope.
Senator Barack Obama fired the first shot on today's stand by your woman showdown. CNN's Tom Foreman has the Raw Politics.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Many families feud. But they better not on the campaign trail. That was the pointed message from Barack Obama to John McCain, in an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I think families are off-limits. I would never consider making Cindy McCain a campaign issue. And I -- if I saw people doing that, I would speak out against it. And the fact that I haven't seen that from John McCain, I think, is a deep disappointment.
FOREMAN: Obama was talking about attacks on his wife, Michelle, questioning her loyalty to the country. But the McCain camp fired back promptly, charging that the Democratic National Committee openly criticized Cindy McCain for not including enough information when she released her tax returns.
In a written statement, McCain's campaign said, Senator McCain agrees with Senator Obama, that spouses should not be an issue in this campaign. And he has stated that position frequently.
Unfortunately, when the Democratic National Committee was attacking Mrs. McCain, Senator Obama was not strong enough to stand up and speak out. This is just the latest in the battle of the spouses. The Tennessee GOP put out an ad in May, suggesting Michelle Obama was unpatriotic, for saying this was the first time she was really proud to be an American.
And "Good Morning America" is now promoting an interview tomorrow with Cindy McCain, where as she has before she once again slams Michelle Obama over that comment.
Everyone has their own experience. I don't know why she said what she said. All I know is that I have always been proud of my country.
Traditionally the families of politicians have been somewhat off- limits. Depending, of course, on how much they campaign. And frankly, what they say about the opposition.
But this is hardly a traditional election. So, no matter how many times a candidate says --
B. OBAMA: But I also think these folks should lay off my wife.
FOREMAN: The family feuds may continue.
Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.
COOPER: Certainly seems like it.
On "The View" this morning, Michelle Obama clearly wanted to try to show viewers the kind of woman she says she really is as opposed to the way she's often been portrayed.
It was the first step in what you might call her re-launch. On a popular show, whose viewers, mostly women, are a key demo her husband needs to win over.
Here's CNN's Randi Kaye, "Up Close."
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Conservative blogs have called her an angry black woman. Even accused her without evidence of using the word, "Whitey." One way to tackle ugly rumors on the blog, is with the ladies of "The View."
M. OBAMA: I have to be greeted properly.
KAYE: For nearly an hour, the Mrs. who might be first lady, talked about everything from politics to pantyhose. No, she doesn't wear them. She also defended her now-famous comment critics called unpatriotic.
M. OBAMA: Of course, I'm proud of my country. Nowhere but in America could my story be possible.
KAYE: Her story is something you'll be hearing more of. Her stump speech is getting a makeover, as the campaign attempts to reposition her.
M. OBAMA: I'm a girl that grew up on the south side of Chicago. My father was a working-class guy.
KAYE: Less controversy, less heartache for the campaign.
M. OBAMA: People aren't used to strong women.
KAYE: Political expert, Larry Sabato.
LARRY SABATO, POLITICAL ANALYST: If you're a candidate for first lady, probably the best thing you can be is innocuous.
KAYE: Sabato says softer settings like "The View" and the style section are good venues for avoiding controversy.
SABATO: The idea is to let that candidate for first lady get known in a softer form. Have the personality come out. Have the roles as mother and as wife come out. Be known. That's going to be attractive to a lot of women and men.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Does Barack take out the garbage still?
M. OBAMA: No.
KAYE: A new "Washington Post"/ABC news poll, find about half of those questioned view Michelle Obama favorably including 54 percent of the women. Nearly nine in ten African-American women polled view her positively compared to about half of white women.
As audience members filed out of "The View" studio, many told me they were impressed with Michelle Obama. They thought she was funny and relaxed. They felt like they got to know her.
M. OBAMA: My name is Michelle Obama.
KAYE: Mrs. Obama shared she's taking cues from First Lady Laura Bush. M. OBAMA: There's a reason people like her. It's because she doesn't, sort of, fuel the fire.
SABATO: You do not want a first lady candidate taking any positions that are harder-edged than her husband because it raises questions about who's really going to be governing in the White House.
KAYE: Instead, Mrs. Obama shared stories about her girls and the struggles of parenting during a presidential campaign.
SHARON BYRD, AUDIENCE MEMBER: Made her softer; a softer image. That's the way I thought it was anyway. It was good.
KAYE: Does Michelle Obama need softening?
BYRD: Maybe a little. I think we all do.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She stands up for what she believes in. And her family's first. And I give her high praise.
KAYE: Exactly what the Obama campaign wants to hear. Barack Obama needs women in his corner. Michelle Obama may help get them there.
SABATO: The less she says and does, the better it will be. The less she is on the front pages, the less she is profiled. The better it will be for the Obama campaign.
KAYE: Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.
COOPER: Well, just ahead, we dig deeper with our panels. See what they think on the battle over the running mates.
Plus, an apology from the Obama campaign, for its treatment of two Muslim women. Why didn't they want Muslim-Americans in head scarves to sit behind Obama in the crowd? We'll have details and the fall out.
Also ahead remembering Tim Russert his memorial service was filled with memories and music and some magical moments.
World-renowned heart surgeon Dr. Wayne Isom will join us to talk about the silent killer that felled Tim Russert and what you can do to help your heart.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did he give any advice for this show?
M. OBAMA: He said if he was on the show he would be good.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: That was Michelle Obama this morning, on "The View" where she began to reintroduce herself, you might say, to Americans, and attempt to soften her image for the general election.
In addition to family, food and even pantyhose, she talked about the comment that her critics have used to paint her as unpatriotic.
Let's dig deeper with our panel. CNN senior political correspondent Candy Crowley, Mary Frances Berry, a former head of the civil rights commission and a registered independent, who hasn't yet thrown her support behind any candidate and republican strategist and CNN contributor, Ed Rollins.
Candy, Cindy McCain once again asking out loud today, why Michelle Obama made the really proud comments. Now, we don't know in this "GMA" interview whether she was asked specifically about it, or she just brought it up on her own. But is this a talking point we're going to be hearing about more from the McCain campaign?
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, what's interesting about the campaign in 2008 is, the candidates don't have to bring it up. Even the candidates' wives don't have to bring it up.
It is a talking point. It is out there. It comes up on talk radio. It is on the Internet. It's all over.
I mean the Genie's out of this bottle and they stay out of the bottle. I don't know. I mean, it makes a difference.
If Cindy McCain was asked about it, then that's really not on her. She has to reply. She has already said something about it. So she can't take that back. It was put out there, well, obviously, they do see the comparative of these two wives as something that advantages the Republicans. I mean, that's clearly what they think, because obviously they have gone after Michelle Obama.
COOPER: It's an important point you raised. So we don't know whether she was specifically asked about it. That's not on the release from "GMA" which is this thing's is going to -- I guess is going to air tomorrow.
Ed, I mean you've worked on campaigns before. Is it -- it's got to be a tricky thing, trying to figure out what to do with a candidate's spouse because in many ways, they're a great ambassador for the candidate. They appear in places the candidate can't appear. And yet you don't want them too far out in front.
ED ROLLINS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Everything I know about her is she's an extraordinary woman. She's one of the first African- Americans to go to Princeton. Her brother's one of the great basketball players at Princeton; one of the great basketball coaches in America today, college basketball.
And she came from a different upbringing. She really grew up in the black parts of Chicago. But I think the bottom line is because there's so little known about him, that people want to know who influences him.
And she obviously made a slight mistake early on in the campaign. And I think at the end of the day, there's a lot of differences between these two candidates. And that's what this race ought to be about. They ought to be arguing about their different positions, as opposed to their spouses and who they are.
COOPER: Mary Frances Berry, how do you think she did on "The View" today? And do you see a change in her or do you think that's likely in the coming weeks and months?
MARY FRANCES BERRY, FORMER CIVIL RIGHTS COMMISSIONER: I think she did very well. I think the press people had prepared her very well not to make any slips. She even softened his image a bit when she talked about families and about parenting and about there are many different kinds of families.
Not just father-headed families. And she was very good on that. I think what with Michelle Obama, what has to happen, is people have to become comfortable with the idea of seeing her as first lady, in their minds. Once they get it in their minds that they can imagine this woman, who is sort of a nontraditional, compared to Cindy McCain, in the White House, then she'll be ok.
And I think she will. I think getting Stephanie Cutter to be the person who works with her, was a fabulous idea since she's experienced in all the rest of it.
And I think people will become comfortable with her. I don't think she made any missteps today at all. She seemed down to earth. And she seemed quite comfortable.
COOPER: Ed, though how does it work? I mean do you say somebody works with you. Does that mean somebody says, well look smile this way? Or don't say this? Or how does it work, Ed?
ROLLINS: The reality is you have to take who that person is. You can't do a personality transplant. You take her strengths. And you say to her, now, be careful on these kinds of things. These may be misinterpreted.
And you basically try to have someone just to remind her all the time that you're always on. And sometimes people have a sense of humor, doesn't come off well. I'm not saying in her particular case. But you basically have to just be a reminder. Whoever she is as who she has to be because in a long campaign, who ever she is, is going to come out.
COOPER: It's going to come out anyway.
CROWLEY: I mean the other thing you see, Anderson, is that this isn't so much of a say this, do that, as a change in emphasis. So, it's not out there, talking about, you know, how the country has moved monumentally, from being one thing and now being the other.
It's saying, it's trying to relate to voters. We are not someone that doesn't understand your life. I'm a mother. Here's the funny story about when I was trying to juggle my job and my children. I'm a wife. Does he take out the trash?
Not so much. She has to become relatable. And I think to a certain level, she was not relatable. And they're trying to get her to show a different side of herself.
BERRY: And they don't want her to be an issue in the campaign. Once she is accepted as just another mom, a well-educated woman, who can be first lady, and then, she shouldn't say anything that makes herself an issue. And just be quiet about the issues from then on. And I think she'll be fine.
COOPER: We're going to have more from our panel coming up. We've got a lot more to discuss.
Up next, major new polling that shows a surprising lead for Barack Obama, in some of the most important states in November.
And an ironic twist on his so-called Muslim problem only this time, it's not people mistakenly thinking he is Muslim. Instead, his campaign is being accused of insensitivity towards American-Muslims. We're going to explore with that and tell you what happened.
And later how you can head off the kind of silent killer that took the life of Tim Russert. Information that could have saved your life.
COOPER: On the trail, tonight, new polling, suggesting a lot of work ahead for John McCain, in states that he might have expected would be ripe for the picking of course, of its early days of days at this point.
Instead, the latest Quinnipiac poll has him trailing Barack Obama by 12 points in Pennsylvania. In Florida, long thought to be Republican territory, he's down by four to Obama. And in Ohio, the battleground state of all, his opponent leads by six percentage points.
Now there's a new problem though for Barack Obama, in Michigan, which is home to the largest Muslim-American population in America. It centers on what you don't see in this video from a televised rally Monday night in Detroit.
Several women in head scarves were reportedly told they couldn't sit behind Obama. So, they wouldn't be seen on television the reason? Obama volunteers apparently thought it would be bad for the senator's image. About one in ten Americans still believed that Senator Obama is a Muslim. He's not, of course.
But tonight, it seems, he may have a new Muslim controversy on his hands. Details from CNN's Candy Crowley.
CROWLEY: Generally, the people sitting behind a candidate come to listen, and end up part of the picture selected by young staffers or volunteers to project the right TV image.
So, when two, young, Muslim women, wearing head scarves were told recently they could not sit behind Barack Obama at this rally, it raised questions in their community.
DAWUD WALID, CAIR MICHIGAN DIRECTOR: It speaks toward a bigger issue as far as a pervasive Islamophobia as in our society that two Muslim females would be turned away by African-American females, because they felt that just their mere presence behind the senator would cause great political liability to him.
CROWLEY: The two separate incidents involving two different women were first reported by politico.com, which quoted one of the women saying she was told she could not sit behind Obama, quote, because of the political climate and what's going on in the world.
The Obama campaign apologized, saying the actions of the volunteers were offensive and not reflective of the candidate. Aides also sent out several pictures showing Obama with women and men in Muslim dress.
Apology accepted. But it brings up an issue many want Obama and John McCain to talk about.
WALID: We would like to hear -- for both of the senators to say it clearly to the American public, that Muslims and the Islamic faith should not be demonized.
CROWLEY: It's a continuing challenge for Barack Obama, whose name and mixed-race heritage put him in the cross winds of cultural divides, black and white, Christian, Jew and Muslim.
Anonymous e-mails meant to damage his bid endlessly loop through cyberspace. He spoke of them recently at a Florida synagogue, as he addressed doubts in the politically potent Jewish community.
B. OBAMA: If you get one of these e-mails that says I'm a Muslim, not true. Never been a Muslim. This is just stuff that is designed to make people suspicious.
CROWLEY: But in that denial, he is hit by an opposing current criticism that Obama does not address the prejudice inherent in the rumors.
WALID: He has affirmed his Christianity. But he has not explicitly, to our knowledge, come out and say well, this Islamiphobia is wrong. It's un-American. And even if I were a Muslim, if I still held the same values and the same political stances, what difference would it make?
CROWLEY: Obama does not always walk both sides of this line. But he has, on several occasions made that point.
B. OBAMA: It's not just that I'm a Christian and so, these e-mails are misinforming people. They're also feeding on anti-Muslim sentiment, and that is also wrong.
CROWLEY: It is, in the end, hard to make history without being caught in the cross winds.
COOPER: Much more with Candy Crowley and the continuing challenge for the Barack Obama campaign.
We're digging deeper with the best political team on television.
And later, a tribute to Tim. Family, friends, journalists and politicians all taking part today, in a tribute to Tim Russert. We'll have details on that.
Plus, part of his legacy may be raising awareness of what causes and how to prevent a heart attack. That and more when "360" continues.
COOPER: We're talking tonight about Muslims, Barack Obama's sensitivity and spin. About Obama volunteers keeping women wearing head scarves out of the background during Senator Obama's rally in Detroit on Monday.
The campaign apologized today. "Digging Deeper" we're back with our panel: CNN's Candy Crowley, former civil rights official and political independent Mary Frances Berry and Ed Rollins, GOP strategist and CNN contributor.
Candy, do we know if this was just a stupid mistake by some volunteers? Or do the volunteers get told it by someone else inside the campaign?
CROWLEY: It's hard to pull that string and find the end to it. But the campaign says and the two women have accepted the apology saying this does not reflect how Barack Obama feels nor does it reflect campaign policy.
But you know, two volunteers, in separate incidents to tell two different women, that they can't get on the stage because of their head scarves, seems to be didn't just sort of come from a volunteer. But it's hard to track it. It may have come from a young aide on the ground who is aware of -- vaguely aware of what they want up on the stage.
What they want up on the stage, all of them, is diversity. And again, they all do this. This is not something special that Barack Obama does.
I mean, Hillary Clinton, you remember, went from an Iowa backdrop of really sort of older Clinton administration people. And by the time we saw her in New Hampshire, she was standing up with all these fresh, young faces behind her. So, this is a political art here.
But it does seem like it came from some place else because it's hard to imagine that two of these people, separately, dreamed it up on their own.
COOPER: Ed, would it have been damaging for Barack Obama to be seen with these women in the background?
ROLLINS: No. Absolutely not. I mean this was a stupid mistake. Someone tried to over-think whatever the situation was and they tried to get the visual right. And they obviously screwed up.
COOPER: So you don't think it goes any higher than those two volunteers?
ROLLINS: I think it was a stupid mistake. And obviously it won't occur again.
COOPER: Mary, in the past couple of months, Obama has come out a couple of times to knock down these rumors that he's Muslim. I just want to play one of his responses earlier in the campaign.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
B. OBAMA: You see I am not and never have been of the Muslim faith. I think that those who are of the Muslim faith are deserving of respect and dignity. But to try to feed into this fear mongering and to try to, you know, question, my faith commitments and my belief in Jesus Christ, I think is offensive.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: It is interesting that, I mean this poll, 10 percent of Americans, still think he's Muslim, is kind of remarkable, I mean given everything. Even though the whole Reverend Wright stuff at the very least, it kind of shows he's been in that church for the last 20 years.
BERRY: Well, people obviously are confused. I think the issue well, he's handling it, as best he can. But I think that it will come up again. It's just like the question of Michelle and the patriotism remark.
Reporters will ask it. Or somebody will ask it again. And it will come up again. But I think he's answering it as best he can.
But one thing that I think about it is that in the campaign itself, there are a lot of pitfalls and missteps that can take place. Somebody needs to tighten up the operation a little bit. Think about that. And figure out who's handling all these backdrops and the rest of it, so that they don't make other mistakes. But I think he's handling the Muslim thing about as well as he can right now.
CROWLEY: Yes, this is a growing campaign. I agree with Ed. I think it's something stupid that happened on the ground. People imagine what it is you want to have.
But you're right. These little mistakes tend to make big splashes. And again, every day, we get a new thing about how they're expanding. And they'll expand. Campaigns make mistakes. They move on.
I also agree with Ed that it wouldn't have made any difference. The people that are not going to vote for Barack Obama because they think he's a Muslim are not going to have their minds changed because there's no Muslim on the stage. It just doesn't make sense. This seems like a rookie mistake by somebody on the ground.
COOPER: Ed, does it surprise you that people still believe he's Muslim?
ROLLINS: Well, if his name was Bob Brown, running for president, no one would pay attention to him. It's partly the name. It's partly his very unique history. And I think to a certain extent, people don't know much about him.
And they're trying to find more and more and more. That's why they have an interest in her. That's why they have an interest in him. At the end of the day, which is another four or five months of this campaign, people will know everything they want to know about him.
COOPER: Four or five months it's going to feel like a year or two, though.
Candy Crowley, Ed Rollins and Mary Frances Berry thanks very much. Good discussion tonight.
Up next, the warning signs of a heart attack. Awareness may be part of Tim Russert's legacy. Renowned surgeon Dr. Wayne Isom joins us with information that could save your life.
And the stunning rainbow that appeared over the capital today also has a connection to Russert and his funeral today in Washington. We'll explain.
And Tiger Woods called his Monday win at the U.S. Open, probably the best ever. It was going to be his last tournament for a long time. We'll tell you why.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOM BROKAW, FORMER NBC NEWS ANCHOR: As Tim would look out on this gathering, he would say, it's wild. It's wild. My family, my closest friends from near and far. The powerful, the ordinary. And the largest contingent of all in this room, those who think that they should be his successor on "Meet The Press."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Great line from Tom Brokaw. There was laughter, also tears today, at the memorial service for Tim Russert. Earlier at his funeral the list of mourners included Barack Obama and John McCain along with politicians. There were family and friends, of course. All touched by Tim Russert, who was only 58 years old, when he died.
He had an enlarged heart coronary artery disease and died of a sudden and massive heart attack. The surprising news is that Russert had passed a stress test. He exercised on a stationary bike and was being treated for high cholesterol.
So the question is, how come he died without warning? Turns out many Americans don't have symptoms like chest pains or shortness of breath, before having a heart attack.
So we want to take a few minutes and try to understand what all of us can do to reduce the chances of having one. After all, coronary heart disease is still the leading killer in the U.S.
Joining me is Dr. Wayne Isom, a well-known and highly-respected cardiothoracic surgeon whose patients include Dave Letterman, Regis Philbin, and our own Larry King. Thank so much for being with us.
It is stunning that with all that we know about the heart, that a guy like Tim Russert, at 58, can just suddenly drop dead. I mean why aren't there signs?
DR. WAYNE ISOM, N.Y. PRESBYTERIAN HOSPITAL: Well, it is. Most patients, I think, maybe 80 percent, 85 percent of them, will have some symptoms. And it would be interesting, to even with going back with Mr. Russert, in questioning family, et cetera, to see if he had some symptoms because a lot of people do.
COOPER: Symptoms like what?
DR. ISOM: Well, they usually think, like it was indigestion. There's a big denial a lot of times. But the fact is, about 10 percent or 15 percent of them, don't have any symptoms of all. They can have a heart attack and don't even know it. They can have so-called silent myocardial ischemia.
COOPER: So if someone at home was watching this I mean, what should they be looking for? What should they be concerned about?
DR. ISOM: First of all, you should know the risk factors. And the biggest risk factor is something that we don't control. And that's the genetic component of it.
COOPER: If you had a mother or a father that died at a young age of heart disease?
DR. ISOM: Yes, if you have a mother or a father, or there's someone in the family, who died at a young age. Especially if both of them did, then you need to really get on the stick at age 20, 25, 30, and start to decrease any risk factors.
COOPER: Yes, my dad died when he was 50. And when I was 22 I had my cholesterol done. I had high cholesterol at age 22. I've been taking this stuff ever since then. That was shocking.
DR. ISOM: That's smart. That's smart. And a lot of times, people don't do that. They don't even start going to the doctor until they're 40 or 45. After -- unless it's a woman who had a baby.
COOPER: So, family history. Smoking, obviously.
DR. ISOM: Smoking is the worst thing you can do. Smoking is the worst thing you can do.
COOPER: And what high blood pressure?
DR. ISOM: And high blood pressure I think is bad. And that's the so- called silent killer. Because you may go a long, long time, and don't even know you have it.
So you do have to go to the doctor to get your blood pressure checked. There's places even in drug stores now, that you can get your blood pressure checked.
So, that's one. Then the more complex ones, the cholesterol, HDL, LDL, et cetera. A number of things like that.
COOPER: The good and the bad cholesterol?
DR. ISOM: But one of the things that everybody talks about now, and they're probably right, is the body Habitus. If you're fat a lot of kids are fat. A lot of people are fat. You really need to do something about it.
COOPER: You got to slim down.
And what can people do? I mean, there's obviously diet and exercise. I mean, should you go and have your cholesterol checked? At what age should you do that?
DR. ISOM: Well, I think if you've got those risk factors, then somewhere around 25 to 30, you ought to do it. Now women are protected for -- they're about ten years behind us. They catch up with us.
But they should, too. If you have any of those risk factors. Certainly, by the age of 35, or 40, you really need to jump on that.
COOPER: Russert's doctors acknowledged that his heart muscles had thickened. Are there tests that could have shown this?
DR. ISOM: Yes, an echocardiogram would show this.
COOPER: That's a stress test?
DR. ISOM: No, no. A stress test is getting on a treadmill with an EKG attached to you. And if you ever had one of them, you get to 14 or 15 minutes, and you're huffing and puffing and might not even make it to that.
So, that tells you, if that EKG is abnormal, during that period of time, that part of the heart muscle's not getting enough blood supply.
COOPER: And so, the echocardiogram, is what?
DR. ISOM: The echocardiogram tells you about the valves and the thickness of the heart and contractility how well it's pumping.
COOPER: So if you're having chest pain when you're exercising at the gym, should you have that checked out?
DR. ISOM: Yes. You really should.
COOPER: No doubt about it.
DR. ISOM: Yes, no question.
COOPER: And you talk also about the importance of defibrillators and having them more accessible in offices.
DR. ISOM: Well, I think the American Heart Association has been pushing this for a long time. And you're seeing more and more all the time. Airplanes have them. They're in office buildings now.
There's even a push to have every apartment building in New York to have a defibrillator. They're automated now. It used to be, when you attached the defibrillator, you had to look at the EKG and know exactly when to give the shock. They're automated now. The computer analyzes the EKG and knows exactly when to administer the shock.
COOPER: So at 58, are there some people who, no matter what they do, it's just going to happen?
DR. ISOM: I don't think so. I think that's taking a fatalist view. You go to the doctor, get the diagnosis. If you're not quite happy with it, I think you ought to have an angiogram.
There's a lot of other tests. But the angiogram tells you exactly what you have. And one of the other newer methods of diagnosis, is a 64-cut C.A.T. Scan with contrast. That's almost as good as an angiogram.
COOPER: A C.A.T. Scan of your heart?
DR. ISOM: Yes.
COOPER: Dr. Wayne Isom, it's fascinating stuff. I appreciate you coming in and talk about it. Thank you very much.
A final note about Tim Russert, his memorial service at the Kennedy Center, was filled with memories of his laughter, his enthusiasm, his love of life, and his faith.
There was also music, including a surprise performance by Bruce Springsteen and songs from Russert's iPod. This rendition of "Somewhere over the Rainbow" was playing when the service ended. And moments later this rainbow appeared over the capital.
ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, we begin with a number of people sickened by tainted tomatoes, which has jumped now to, get this, 383. That's more than 100 additional cases. And of those cases, the CDC says at least 48 people have been hospitalized with salmonella poisoning. The victims range in age from newborns to 88 years old. And the CDC says it doesn't believe this outbreak is over. Two days after winning the U.S. Open, Tiger Woods is done for the season. He'll be getting more surgery on his damaged knee. He's also dealing with two minor leg fractures.
On Wall Street today, the DOW briefly dipped below the 12,000 mark for the first time since mid-March but did manage to finish the day just above at 12,029 still off 131 points for the session. The NASDAQ and the S&P 500 also closing in negative territory.
And paying more at the pump leads to less driving. The Department of Transportation said today, Americans drove 1.4 billion fewer miles in April. That's the sixth consecutive monthly drop. That's when you know the gas prices are really starting to take a hit.
COOPER: Time now for the "Beat 360" winners. As you know each day we put a photo on the "360 blog," and ask our viewers to come up with a caption that's better than the one from our staff. So here is tonight's photo, two seal pups playing at the North Sea in Germany.
HILL: Is that the cutest picture we've seen in a long time or what?
COOPER: It's not the cutest.
COOPER: But it's pretty cute. I guess it's all right.
Our staff winner is Marshall, with this. "Seal leaves Heidi Klum, begs old sweetheart to forgive him." Get it? Seal.
Our viewer winner, is Mike in Syracuse, New York. His caption -- no, dear, we can't do a fist bump like Barack and Michelle. We haven't got fists.
Check out the captions that didn't make the cut at cnn.com/360. Kevin is just shaking his head, sadly.
Up next, rising water and rising to the challenge. The residents working together and try to save their town along the Mississippi. "On the Radar" when 360 continues.
COOPER: "On the Radar" tonight, surging floodwaters along the Mississippi River. Tonight, streets are rivers and towns are lakes, homes are ruins, lives will be rebuilt. Many of you sharing your thoughts on the damage on the "360" blog.
Jessica says: "In the aftermath and rebuilding I hope that we all keep in mind that rivers will always impress upon the land their natural course. Dams and levees are temporary and always will be when up against the forces of mother nature."
Katie in Ames, Iowa: "I couldn't be more proud of my fellow Iowans for their grace under pressure. Even though my part of the state was not hit, I share their pain and thank you for your excellent and respectful coverage of our state's tragedy."
And Jen a transplant now living in Hamden, Connecticut: "It was completely surreal to see my hometown all over national news! If I could, right now I would be in Burlington assisting in the sandbagging efforts. |My thoughts go out to all the people that have been so horribly affected by these floods. Iowans are resilient. The state got through 1993's flood, it may take a little longer, but it will get through this too."
Thanks for all your comments. Share your thoughts by going to cnn.com/360.
So that does it for this edition of the program. Thanks for watching.
"Larry King" starts right now, and I'll see you tomorrow night.