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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Haiti Survivor Found in the Rubble; Developments in Americans Accused of Kidnapping; Sarah Palin: Toast of the TEA Party Convention; New Orleans Celebrates Saints Victory

Aired February 8, 2010 - 23:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: We are live in Port-au-Prince tonight. I was going to start tonight by explaining why we came back here to Port-au-Prince, just a little more than a week since we last left, but that's not the question that we've been asked by people here today.

We've been asked why did we leave? And where have so many of the other reporters gone? The truth is CNN never left. Just Sanjay and I did. We left for a week. And the truth is I didn't have a good answer about why we left.

In New York last week on this program we focused a lot on the fate of ten American missionaries in custody accused of kidnapping kids. And we have new and disturbing developments on that tonight.

But that's not why we came back here tonight. We're here because the really important things that are happening here barely make headlines anymore and they rarely make the news nightly.

Tonight nearly half a million people are sleeping in the streets. Tens of thousands of them behind me still. Many are hungry and scared about what tomorrow is going to bring. There's concern about disease breaking out and what happens when it starts to rain in a few weeks. And what happens to all the kids who are separated from their families tonight?

Just a few blocks from here, literally just a few moments ago we found a young woman panting for breath, burning with fever. A medic with us said that if she doesn't get antibiotics soon she could die. And there are doctors here and there are nurses here and there are aid being distributed. But it's still -- it's not enough to meet the desperate needs.

So tonight while we're going to talk about those missionaries, we're also going to be talking about Haitians. And that's how we're going to begin the program. Talking about what is happening to Haitians on a daily basis.

And we begin with a remarkable story of a Haitian man pulled allegedly from the rubble today who was reportedly, according to his family, what -- there since the earthquake began? And how is that possible? DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, look, we got a tip earlier today about this and we had our doubts. I mean, you and I talked about this. But we went to the hospital where this man was taken, a 28-year-old man named Evans and got some of the first glimpses of what he looked like.

And look, you see his images now, but he was very emaciated, he had lost a lot of weight. He was someone that doctors were obviously are very concerned about when they brought him in.

COOPER: Do they believe that he had been in the rubble that long?

GUPTA: Well, they sort of combined two things. The story of what he tells them, what his family is telling them and then just how he looks medically. His vital signs were ok but clearly he had signs of extreme dehydration and extreme malnourishment as well. So they sort of piece all these things together.

There's no question, Anderson -- you and I have talked about this -- that it's still safe saying that he could not have survive this long without any kind of water.

COOPER: Right, obviously.

GUPTA: He needed to have some kind of water. How exactly did he get that? He told me that he said basically that there were somebody -- a man in a white coat was coming to him and giving him water. Whether...

COOPER: That doesn't make any sense.

GUPTA: Yes, whether he was hallucinating or he was delusional. Or somehow he was seeing things. Even at the time that we are at the hospital he still believed he was under the rubble. He had to still come to terms with the fact that he had been rescued. So you know, it is somewhat hard to put together.

COOPER: I mean, it's possible, there were plenty of people scavenging through rubble. So it's possible somebody who was scavenging for -- he was scavenging through rubble and the rubble fell on him in one of these aftershocks that we've seen subsequent to the quake.

GUPTA: No question about it. But we did talk to his mother as well and to his doctors. And I asked the doctors specific questions about that. Here's what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. MIKE CONNELLY, U. OF MIAMI'S PROJECT MEDISHARE: He was emaciated. It was obvious that he hadn't had anything to drink or eat in quite some time. He had open wounds that were festering on both of his feet.

GUPTA: You believe it. I mean, you believe it to be true. This would be the longest survivor so far of this earthquake.

CONNELLY: Yes. Yes. I mean, the -- there's no reason for me to doubt it. That's what the bystanders relayed to us. The patient was so incredibly weak and frail when he came in.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GUPTA: You know, with these things, Anderson -- you and I have talked about it -- we may never be able to actually confirm the veracity of this.

COOPER: Right.

GUPTA: Because there are just so many moving parts to a piece like this. His mother says she hadn't seen him since the day of the earthquake. She knew where he worked. He worked selling rice in a particular market and it was in that area that he was subsequently found.

COOPER: The big picture though moving beyond just him, for Haitians, the medical needs. Where do we stand on things?

GUPTA: Well, you know, it's interesting because so much was sort of focused on the acute needs of people.

COOPER: Emergency care.

GUPTA: Yes, exactly. An amputation was performed because if it had not gangrene would have spread. Life-saving procedures are being performed.

What we're seeing now a week after now when we come back, is that what happens next? I mean, they don't have homes to go to. They can't get their follow-up medications. They can't get the rehab that they need.

I mean, even if you get a prosthetic, simply getting around or getting it refit...

COOPER: Right.

GUPTA: ...it's simply not enough. These things are months if not longer...

COOPER: Yes.

GUPTA: ...in terms of the need.

COOPER: One of the things we saw, Sanjay, we'll have more with Sanjay throughout this hour. And we're going to be here all throughout the week. One of the things that we saw on streets today is just sort of the mundane misery that has become just a part of life here.

I mean, people sleeping on the streets, even if your house hasn't been totally destroyed, no one wants to sleep in their house because they're too scared still. And by this Friday it'll be a month since the earthquake itself.

And what happens when the rains come? That's what everyone is asking. Where will they go?

A lot of these makeshift encampments which have become more like permanent shanty towns almost with corrugated tin, a lot of them won't be able to withstand some of these monsoon-type rains. So what's going to happen in just a few weeks?

But -- but day in and day out there is just this grinding misery. And as I said at the top of the program it doesn't even make headlines anymore. But for the people here, the pain is just as intense.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER (voice-over): Nearly one month after the earthquake and the cleanup is only just beginning. Teams of Haitians paid by the U.N. move through neighborhoods sweeping and clearing but they are barely making a dent.

(on camera): To really clean up and rebuild Port-au-Prince it's going to require more than just shovels and brooms and work crews. It's going to require heavy equipment, bulldozers and dump trucks to get rid of this debris and then ultimately to rebuild. At this point you don't see dump trucks and bulldozers on the street like this.

So families just do the best they can. They go through the rubble and they've been doing that for weeks now trying to pick out whatever they can. Here they found some clothes that they've been able to salvage. They found this wooden cabinet which maybe they'll reuse or sell. And you find this a lot. People pulling out scrap metal as much as they can and this they can sell for money.

(voice-over): People get by however they can. John Charles is selling electricity.

(on camera): So you have a generator and you're using that power to charge people's cell phones and then you charge them for that?

"Yes," he says.

Did you have this business before the earthquake or is this a new business?

"No," he says, "it's a new business."

Ella Mae St. Marks (ph) sleeps on a mattress outside with her kids and grandchildren.

She was saying that they do have running water, but that there hasn't been any food handed out by the government or any other group in this area that she knows about. And she says she eats by just people give her some food here and there.

But pretty much everybody on this block and many blocks around it who lives on this street is now literally living on the street. (voice-over): A few blocks away Haitian government workers hand out packets of water.

(on camera): It was pretty chaotic. There wasn't a lot of organization, so when a crowd started to form the trucks just decided to drive off and they ended up dumping a lot of the water in the street.

(voice-over): Heavy equipment is being used to tear down some buildings. This was once a technical school.

(on camera): According to the Haitian government more than 200,000 people died in the earthquake, but the actual death toll continues to rise as they go through sites like this with heavy equipment, as they tear through the rubble and crush it into smaller pieces to be carted off. They're constantly uncovering more bodies. We just noticed the remains of a person right there.

The newly discovered remains arrive daily at a city cemetery. This is all that's left of a woman named Yolin (ph) and her son, Alex. Maxo is Yolin's brother.

(on camera): How did you find her?

"We found them mashed up with their legs apart," he tells me. "Piece by piece we got them out of the concrete."

The remains are pushed into someone else's old grave. There's no service, no prayer. Maxo says it was just important for his mother that they find the bodies.

What will you tell her now? "Now I'm going to tell her that we buried them," he says. "And she's going to be satisfied because that's all she needed. She's still going to cry. She wasn't able to eat. Now she'll be able to eat slowly."

The grave keeper shows me the list of all those buried today; 25 people.

Is this a pretty typical, every day? Do you see this many people?

"Yes," he says. "We find more people every day. My first day we buried 300 people in one day."

300?

When the grave is sealed the grave keeper scratches Yolin's and Alex's name into the wet cement; two more victims of a month-old earthquake. Two more names added to the list.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: And at least they were able to have their names on that grave, as we have seen so much and you have seen by now so many people here have simply just vanished. They've simply just disappeared. The numbers of Americans missing here is still incredibly high and no one can say when that number will actually be resolved as to what happened to those people.

The number -- the actual number of Haitians who died in this, there's frankly no way that they'll ever have a completely accurate count. You go by scenes of rubble and you don't even see whole bodies anymore. You just see pieces of people and it's become -- I would never say normal -- but it has become just part of the life here, and --it is a hard thing -- a hard thing for the people here to see day in and day out.

You can follow us all this week on tweet or on our blog at AC360.com to follow the updates. We're tweeting from here.

Up next, we're going to show you a day in court for the leader of those detained Americans and some new allegations that they tried more than once to actually take kids out of the country.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: And welcome back to our continuing coverage from Port- au-Prince. As I said at the top of the program our focus tonight is really what is happening in the streets of Port-au-Prince to the hundreds of thousands if not millions of Haitians who every day now are struggling just to get by.

There's been a lot of focus -- and we've been part of it -- on these ten American missionaries who have been arrested and held here. And it is an important story and from what we're learning from reporting by the "Miami Herald" and "The New York Times" it's actually now having an impact on the possibility of other kids who are injured being sent out of the country for medical treatment. It's actually slowed down that and may have actually resulted in some lost lives of kids because of now doctors here concern and need to get proper paperwork before sending kids out.

We're going to talk about that with a reporter from the "Miami Herald" ahead.

But we want to talk to Karl Penhaul who has been following the story of these ten Americans really from the get-go. And every night, Karl, you have been basically revealing the untruth, the lies that this group was saying or at least the leader, Laura Silsby, was telling to ordinary Haitians. What have you learned today?

KARL PENHAUL, CNN VIDEO CORRESPONDENT: Well, today we've learned -- we talked to a Haitian police officer who is now a witness in this case and he says there was an earlier attempt by the Americans to round up a group of children and take them off to the Dominican Republic.

COOPER: Earlier than this 30 -- group of 33 kids who they were ultimately arrested with, they actually had kids earlier before? PENHAUL: Exactly. We're talking about a separate group of children. He says that he found up to 40 children on a bus and this was three days before the Americans were arrested. And he says he got on the bus. He told the Americans, where is your paperwork? When they couldn't produce any Dominican paperwork or Haitian paperwork, he said it's forbidden, he said, children, get off the bus.

So he forced the children off the bus and then said to the Americans you cannot do this without the right paperwork. Go to the relevant authorities here.

COOPER: So if what he's saying is true, add his name to the list of half a dozen or so people who have -- who we have now believe clearly told Laura Silsby at least that what she was doing was illegal.

PENHAUL: Clearly told them. And in this case he shut down one of their attempts to bus children out. And at that point they said they were looking for up to 100 children. He shut down that attempt, shooed off the children. But they weren't deterred by that. They came back into a different area of the city and into a village outside the city, rounded up more children and then took them up to the border three days later. That was on the Friday when they were arrested.

COOPER: Some of them were in court today. Laura Silsby was in court. They have a new attorney. Previously they had an attorney and last week that attorney had said, "Well, probably nine of them are innocent but if you're going to keep one, Laura Silsby would probably be the one to keep." He's now been let go.

PENHAUL: He's been let go or he's been resigned; a number of different versions. But what is fact is that he's no longer representing them. A Dominican attorney showed up today. He said his brief was to get a new team of Haitian lawyers. So there's a team of three Haitian lawyers, they're Dominican. The Dominican lawyer said that he had a piece of paper that showed that the Americans did, in fact, have permission to take the kids to the D.R.

He said it shows...

COOPER: Permission on the part -- he's claiming permission on the part of the Dominican Republic government?

PENHAUL: Exactly. And he promised to show us that after the court hearing. He left without showing us that piece of paper. And of course we know what the Dominican consular has told us, that they had no permission whatsoever.

COOPER: And even if the Dominican government had given permission to Laura Silsby to open up an orphanage, that still has no bearing on the Haitian government. They are the ones that have to give permission to let kids get out of the country?

PENHAUL: Exactly. That's not enough. They need Haitian paperwork first and then the Dominican paperwork.

COOPER: All right, Karl.

Joining us in Idaho is Dan Simon. He's covering that aspect of the story. Dan, what have you learned?

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, this is an entirely new perspective to this case. Of course we know that there were ten Americans, part of this group; five men and five women.

And what we now know is that of the five men one of those arrested Americans, Paul Thompson, actually brought the others involved.

I had a conversation with his wife today. She lives in Twin Falls, Idaho. And what she told me is that Paul Thompson received an e-mail on a Monday from somebody connected to Laura Silsby's church. He had never met Laura Silsby but he jumped at the chance to go to Haiti and he started recruiting a couple others.

He recruited these four other men on this trip. He recruited his son, his cousin, his brother-in-law and a close family friend. They were not aware of the details of what was going to happen on this trip other than the fact that they knew that Laura Silsby was going to convert that hotel into an orphanage.

They thought they could help because you see they're good at building things. They're good at doing renovations, they're very handy. As far as the logistics are concerned, according to his wife, they had absolutely no knowledge of it.

Listen to Renee Thompson.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SIMON: Was there any discussion about what needed to take place in order to transport children to the Dominican Republic?

RENEE THOMPSON, FAMILY DETAINED IN HAITI: You know, my husband was not -- he was not in charge of any of the -- of the legal or official documents on the trip. Yes.

SIMON: And so I mean, in his mind it was just to go help and the details about how it was going to get done, that was left to somebody else?

THOMPSON: Right, right. They were just asked to help.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: So does -- I mean does Renee know anything about what's happening on the ground? I mean, is there any finger pointing going on in the group or are they all now still standing together?

SIMON: Well look, in terms of finger pointing they're not willing to place blame on Laura Silsby. They say that they want to hear the entire story from their loved ones and then they'll evaluate, blame later. They just want their loved ones home. It's interesting, when we first got to Idaho a lot of the family members were complaining about the lack of information. They felt like the U.S. embassy wasn't helping them enough. Today an entirely different perspective from Renee Thompson; she said that every day there are now conference calls with all the families. The Idaho Congressional delegation is on the phone. There are members from Hillary Clinton's office on the phone.

COOPER: Right.

SIMON: And they feel like they're getting all the information they need at this point. Of course, their loved ones just can't come home soon enough.

COOPER: Karl, in terms of what the U.S. is doing -- I mean, Bill Clinton yesterday, the former President Clinton, or sorry, early last week in his role for the U.N. was kind of saying that he thought maybe, you know, both sides wanted this thing to go away. No indication of that this week, though.

PENHAUL: No indication of that this week. In fact what we understand today from the State Department is that they're quite happy for the Haitian justice system to deal with this as far as possible and for the U.S. just to deal through normal diplomatic channels...

COOPER: Right.

PENHAUL: ...if there's any need.

COOPER: All right, Karl Penhaul, I appreciate it; Dan Simon as well.

Tonight, the chilling effect of the Americans' arrest on doctors trying to take kids out of Haiti for treatment. We'll talk to a reporter covering that story.

Also Dr. Sanjay Gupta is back with us taking your questions. Text your name and question to AC360 or 22360. As always standard rates apply.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: We're joined now by Frances Robles from the "Miami Herald" and also Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Frances, you had a story on Friday in the "Miami Herald" that was really disturbing. That basically with all of this -- the focus on these American missionaries and that story it's actually having an impact on the care that other kids are receiving. How so?

FRANCES ROBLES, REPORTER, MIAMI HERALD: There are some very, very sick children here in this country who were promised flights out to Miami specifically and they haven't been able to get flights. And they're sitting there, they're waiting, they are getting sicker, they are getting gangrene. They're losing limbs... COOPER: And they're not getting flights out because now doctors are concerned that if they just send the kid out without pullout paperwork...

ROBLES: It's not the doctors. It's actually the pilots.

COOPER: Yes.

ROBLES: Apparently pilots who took kids to Miami landed and were confronted with -- bombarded with questions by customs. Well, who's the kid? Who's his father? Well, that's his father. How do you know that's his father? Well, he told me so. Well, how -- can you prove it? And so the pilots were put in a very difficult situation. And they were, frankly -- after the arrest of the Americans -- unwilling to do it anymore.

COOPER: And these were pilots who are volunteering their time in many cases and trying to help as much as they can and have been making multiple flights. But now the number of flights has actually dropped dramatically to get sick kids out.

ROBLES: Absolutely. The pilots were contracted mostly by Miami Children's Hospital.

COOPER: Ok.

ROBLES: I get the sense they were the kind of the smartest pilots. So the smartest pilots who knew what questions to ask were the ones who stopped taking sick kids.

COOPER: I see.

ROBLES: So you had a child die last week. You had a little girl who was promised a flight on Monday, got gangrene by Thursday and on Friday lost her legs.

COOPER: Sanjay, what's the -- I mean, is there an answer here?

GUPTA: Well, you know, it's interesting because at first they sort of had these guidelines that if there was a threat of loss of life, loss of limb or eyesight that it would make it easier for the child to be transported. Then they sort of backed off and said you know, limb and eyesight, can that -- could those issues be taken care of in Haiti? As we've been talking about.

That sort of left this question of somebody who's at risk of losing their life. I mean, maybe their blood pressure is not stable, maybe they're very, very sick and simply transporting them from Haiti to a different country, the transit, alone, may be too long.

So it's really sort of an untenable situation trying to take these patients who are near death because now they qualify and seems they can be saved.

COOPER: "Miami Herald" is obviously committed to not only this story but to the broader story of what's happening here. You have a big Haitian-American readership obviously in Miami, the largest Haitian-American community in New York.

Does it frustrate you to see so many other reporters, I mean, the story dropping off the headlines in a lot of other papers and a lot of other news programs?

ROBLES: It's frustrating but on the other hand it was actually heartwarming for me to see the number of journalists that were here. I mean, we've --like you said, we've covered this story all along. But to see the interest, to see so many journalists sleeping on the streets, sleeping in tents, freezing at night with nothing to eat, covering the story for the Haitian people, that was important.

COOPER: Yes.

Sanjay, it's one of the things we talked about early on is, as people become less interested, as they feel like, oh, I've seen that story already, I know that one, or I've read that before, it becomes harder to tell because there's not interest and therefore news companies won't send their people.

GUPTA: You know there's two things that sort of struck me. One is that people really do seem to react to the truth. I mean, simply presenting the truth, not tarnishing it and not trying to adulterate it in any way simply presenting it. People respond to that. They understand that.

But also, this idea that media, there's few times in our lives where media can really be a force for some sort of change. And I think that this is, because the information simply was inadequate. People simply did not know what was happening here. And you know that problem or that situation is going to be there for some time to come.

COOPER: In terms of overall, how do you see things -- I get asked the question from friends even today, how better is it? And, you know, is it much better? And obviously on one level theoretically, yes, technically things are better. But to say it's better it makes it sound as if it's not really a problem...

ROBLES: It's good.

COOPER: ...it's good and it's not.

ROBLES: Right.

COOPER: It's terrible.

ROBLES: I got here the day after the earthquake and I was here for ten days. And then I've been back now for another week. And it's actually -- it is pretty dramatically different...

COOPER: Right.

ROBLES: ...to be honest with you. Because I mean, I saw people at the first week of the earthquake with their faces hanging off waiting to be helped by doctors. And now you see a lot of people from all over the world here helping them. The big question is, how long are they committed? How long are they going to stay? I'm not so much concerned how long the reporters are going to stay. I want to know how long these international aid organizations are going to stay. And are they going to be committed to help the thousands of people with lost limbs?

COOPER: Yes.

We've got actually a text 360 question and this is from Vanessa in Texas wants to know, is their government -- the Haitian government doing anything for those kids who have been orphaned? And that's obviously a big issue we've all been covering is that trying to figure out who is an orphan and who is not.

ROBLES: I think one thing is clear. That the Haitian government is at least trying to make it harder for people to snatch kids and take them out of the country.

One of the things that our reporter found who went to the camp last week, is that people were confronting her. Giving their children away and she said, she had to leave the camp because she was overwhelmed by people.

COOPER: Who wanted to give up their kids?

ROBLES: Take my child to Miami; give this child a better life. So at -- the Haitian government is not going to allow that. They are not going to make that easier. I believe that the Prime Minister himself has to sign off on every adoption order at this point which is putting all adoptions to a halt.

COOPER: Right, yes.

GUPTA: And it sounds pretty dramatic, Anderson, but as you talked about there is a culture of Restavek here in Haiti already; this idea of child labor, child slaves. People who are very, very impoverished giving up their children to people who were slightly less impoverished. I mean, that was happening long before the earthquake...

COOPER: Right.

GUPTA: ...so as striking and startling as it sounds, what Frances is describing some of that culture already existed.

COOPER: Yes, we're going to go with UNICEF tomorrow and try to see some of the efforts they're doing to try to -- basically get a handle on how many kids are in this population that need help. Who really is an orphanage -- is an orphan, what can be done for them? Who may have some other family members? That's one of the things we're going to be covering.

Frances, I appreciate all your reporting.

ROBLES: Thanks.

COOPER: Sanjay of course as well.

Coming up, Sarah Palin telling supporters of a new revolution; gave a big speech this weekend, taking center stage at the TEA party convention, slamming President Obama. She sent a message to Republicans as well. So is she the party's face for the future? We'll talk to Mary Matalin about that and also James Carville and Mary Matalin about the Super Bowl.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: We just want to update you on our breaking news from the top of the program. A 28-year-old man named Evan Muncie found in the remains of a market where he sold rice. He'd been there apparently since the earthquake. Mr. Muncie was emaciated, hungry, had wounds on his feet; He seemed incoherent.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta tried to talk to him. He told doctors that someone at one point brought him water during his ordeal in a white coat. He certainly seemed confused about it.

Doctors though said they have no reason to doubt his survival story. He certainly was clearly dehydrated, very emaciated, had lost a lot of weight. But again, we have no way we can independently verify that he was in fact in the rubble all that time.

There's a lot more elsewhere happening in the world. Brooke Baldwin joins us with a "360 News and Business Bulletin" -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: Anderson, NATO troops in Afghanistan preparing to launch one of the biggest Military offensives since that war began. American, British and Afghan forces will take part in that operation aimed at Taliban targets in and around the city of Marjah, that is in southern Afghanistan.

The United States and European Union today calling on Iran to end the, quote, abuses against its own people; this as the Islamic republic prepares to celebrate its founding later this week but some worry the celebration could give rise to more violence.

And CNN has now learned that Toyota will announce a global recall tomorrow of its 2010 Prius hybrid vehicles. Just last week that company admitted a problem with software that controls the anti-lock braking system in the 2010 Prius model.

And Anderson, the first installment of money raised through that January 22nd telethon hope for Haiti now has begun to flow to six different aid groups. We're talking about $35 million being distributed. That is slightly more than half of the $66 million pledged. The next installment we are told will be in May.

You talked, Anderson, about the mundane misery that you described on the streets so Haiti, so hopefully at least $35 million should help.

COOPER: Let's hope, Brooke, appreciate it. Coming up next, we're going to have a lot more from the streets of Port-au-Prince. I want to bring you inside some of the efforts to aid those in some of these tent cities.

We're also going to show you the flip side of what is going on in the United States, celebrating the streets of New Orleans, the Super Bowl champs returning home. We'll talk to NOLA residents and Saints fan James Carville and Mary Matalin.

Matalin also talking about politics; Sarah Palin talking to supporters. Talking to the TEA Party conference that took place in Nashville, taking center stage at the TEA Party convention, slamming President Obama, sending a strong message to Republicans as well. We'll talk about Sarah Palin and her presidential future, if she wants it, ahead with Mary Matalin.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: We'll have more from Haiti in a moment.

But tonight we want to look at the raw politics of Sarah Palin; made a keynote speech at the TEA Party convention over the weekend, electrifying her supporters with her attacks on President Obama. Is not ruling out a White House run in 2012; she said that on Sunday. Palin probably as polarizing and popular as ever.

Randi Kaye tonight reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KAYE (voice-over): If you think Super Bowl weekend belonged to the New Orleans Saints, think again. At the TEA Party convention in Nashville, Sarah Palin had fans on their feet, too.

SARAH PALIN, FORMER GOVERNOR OF ALASKA: Thank you so much. God bless you.

KAYE: Palin's audience, about 100 TEA Partiers, a fraction of her reach on Twitter and other social media. But as the keynote speaker she lit up the room saying America is ready for another revolution, pointing to the new Republican senator from Massachusetts as evidence.

PALIN: I want to start off with a special shout-out to America's newest senator, thanks to you, Scott Brown.

KAYE (on camera) : In her trademark folksy sarcasm Sarah Palin slammed the Obama administration on national security, its use of stimulus money and its handling of the Christmas day bombing attempt.

But to those who paid about $600 to hear her speak, the body- blows aimed directly at the president seemed to be worth every penny.

(voice-over): Reihan Salam is a conservative blogger for "The National Review". REIHAN SALAM, BLOGGER, "THE NATIONAL REVIEW": Sarah Palin's great skill as a rhetoretician is the ability to poke fun at those she sees as her enemies. Sometimes it's gently poking fun of them. Sometimes it's done with a hard, sarcastic edge.

PALIN: They know we're at war and to win that war we need a commander-in-chief, not a professor of law standing at the lectern.

SALAM: The idea that we need a commander-in-chief and not a professor of law I think gets to something that a lot of progressives have found objectionable about President Obama; this perception that he's very analytical when he should be more aggressive.

PALIN: How is that hopey changey stuff working out for you?

KAYE: When Palin teased about the president's attachment to the teleprompter...

PALIN: It's bigger than a charismatic guy with a teleprompter.

KAYE: It -- it seemed to bite back a bit, given Palin's own cheat sheet exposed on her hand.

SALAM: Paying a lot of attention to something like hand-gate really works directly into the palm of Sarah Palin's hands because it's something that makes her seem like a regular mom.

KAYE (on camera): But Sarah Palin continued to make news long after her speech. She told Fox News Sunday that she would run for president in 2012 if she believes it's the right thing to do for the country and for the Palin family.

SALAM: If Sarah Palin ruled out running for president she'd be a crazy person because this is a huge source of the attention she's getting. It's a huge source of her influence in Republican politics.

KAYE (voice-over): Political analyst Larry Sabato says with one foot in the Republican Party and the other in the TEA Party the former Alaska governor is perfectly positioned.

LARRY SABATO, CENTER FOR POLITICS, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA: It really makes her more invulnerable politically. It's more difficult for Republicans to attack her and, of course, the TEA Party people need her.

PALIN: Thank you so much.

KAYE: That synergy, he says, is something Sarah Palin needs to be effective.

Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Palin called the Obama administration out of touch, that the president will leave the U.S. less secure and more in debt. Is she the future of the Republican Party? Will she run for president?

Let's dig deeper. Political contributor Mary Matalin joined me earlier.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Mary, Sarah Palin she said this weekend she'd consider a run for the White House in 2012. Does she scare the Republican establishment?

MARY MATALIN, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: No. She didn't exactly say she'd consider. She said she wouldn't rule it out, but it's a long way from here to 2012 and she represents something that's going on in the country. It's not necessarily Republican or Democrat. It's sort of -- she's sort of the voice for people who feel like they haven't been heard.

But the Republicans and Democrats have to speak to those people who feel like they haven't been getting through for the past years. I don't know if she scares anybody. She's continuing to attract a goodly number of people.

COOPER: Well, I think it was Steve Schmidt, former campaign manager for -- campaign strategist for John McCain who said it would be catastrophic for the Republican Party if she was the nominee. Do you think that's true? Do you think a lot of people feel like that?

MATALIN: I think the nomination process for 2012 is going to have all sorts of surprises in it and all sorts of candidates in it that we don't know yet.

We're going to have a big year this year. I'm not just saying that as a partisan. All the polls show that. And the Republicans are jumping in to races they wouldn't otherwise have considered.

COOPER: What about the TEA Party movement? Does it become a third party? Does it bring the Republican Party back to a more conservative core? Where does it go from here?

MATALIN: The Tea -- what they have said is it's not their objective to define a third party which tend to be spoilers and so they're not wanting to do that. I think the whole both parties are moving to address the concerns of people who are philosophically conservative, not in the way that word is phrased in with all the political baggage but it is poll after poll after poll.

Less government, fewer services, lower taxes, government closer to the home, debt, debt, debt, debt. People are saying what they want. They don't care who's going to address it, Republicans or Democrats but it will be addressed.

COOPER: There are some in the GOP who said that they haven't seen a figure like Sarah Palin emerge since Ronald Reagan. Obviously there are differences with Reagan. He had sort of a long body of work and, you know, a long time sort of political evolution. He used to do a lot of commentaries and stuff even when he was out of office. So he probably had more history to look at when he was running.

Do you think there are comparisons?

MATALIN: I think the ability to tap in to people who feel like they're not being heard is there's a similarity there. Her philosophical adherence to really Goldwaterism which is we're not expanding, we don't want to make government more efficient, we want to make it small. She goes deep into a tradition, a conservative libertarian tradition in the Republican Party.

But people really want -- we said in our mayor's race here, they really want policymaking skill. They want political skill. We want politicians who have experience and know how to get the job done even if it means reducing the size of government, reducing debt.

We try to make these comparisons. I think she's unique. Ronald Reagan was unique. There will be other unique candidates coming out. Much to cover this year and walking up to 2012.

COOPER: No doubt about that. Mary Matalin, thanks, Mary.

MATALIN: Thanks. Safe travels.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Coming up, super party for New Orleans. How amazing was this? Celebrating the Saints' Super Bowl victory, savoring the city's rebirth; New Orleans' own James Carville shares his thoughts along with Mary Matalin about what the victory means for the Big Easy.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Man, looks like who dat delivered. Saints win their first Super Bowl. An amazing game; more than 106 million viewers tuned in, the most-watched TV program ever. They've been celebrating day and night in New Orleans. Bourbon Street last night was completely off the charts. I can only imagine.

The team returned today, of course, to a heroes' welcome. A parade in their honor takes place tomorrow. Could be as big as Mardi Gras.

The Saints' victory really has helped to rejuvenate a city devastated by Katrina. We talked to Mary Matalin along with husband James Carville earlier tonight.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: James, Mary, I mean, just an amazing game. 106 million people were watching. I think it's the most watched television event. I think it beat the final episode of M.A.S.H. What was like being there firsthand? Was there ever a moment when you lost hope?

JAMES CARVILLE, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, she was with the nuns and they were praying. I wouldn't allow myself to think that we were going to win the Super Bowl. I've been at this thing a little bit longer than she has.

When I was a young Marine sitting in a bar in Oceanside, California, I watched John Gillen (ph) take the opening kickoff against the Los Angeles Rams. Sent it over the (INAUDIBLE) it went 99 yards and I got my hopes up then and 44 years later they finally got realized. I couldn't imagine that we'd actually be Super Bowl champs, but we are.

COOPER: Mary, you were sitting with nuns, you said?

MATALIN: We had a mass. The archbishop did the pass before the game and the closing hymn was "When the Saints Go Marching In." We're pretty -- we bring all the big players. We have a lot of stringers there.

But the game -- the game fell on the heels of a remarkable mayoral race and last week we won three Grammys and we got our first hall-of-famer and we've the medical quarter going. And it's just -- everything is happening here. So there was a magnitude of impacts that has left the town just magical.

CARVILLE: I have to go back and think of those days in September of 2005 sitting at my house in northern Virginia watching you down here for the time and just sitting there just wondering what was going to ever happen to my city.

Boy, you watch this, and it's really an amazing thing that's happening down here. Mary's right. The football team is certainly the most visible and a very important part of it. There are other wonderful things that are happening here.

There are some great things going on. We had a great mayor's race. Our school children are the most improved of our young scholars, most improved test scores in the country. There's some great things happening here.

COOPER: It's more than just a sporting event. It really is a capper to an exciting time for New Orleans. As you said, there's a lot of really interesting, exciting things happening for the first time in the education system there. A whole lot of innovative methods being used in there; we've seen results on that. A lot of great things are happening in New Orleans.

MATALIN: It is. And Anderson, you're an adopted who dat. They're very -- always very excited about you. They're appreciative here of every -- how you keep shining the light on the good and positive that's happening here and the reform that's happening, just like you are in Haiti.

Keep the cameras on. We have to keep it on so people know to keep helping. But we're -- this is a big, big giant turning point.

COOPER: I saw the pictures of you guys out on the field celebrating. I was wondering as fun as it must be to be there, your heart is probably in New Orleans and you kind of want to be there. All the hotels I understand in New Orleans were booked because all the people just wanted to be there and be part of it.

MATALIN: Right. From all over the country they came, but it was a special moment to look up at Sean Payton. What a coach and Drew Brees, and Pierre (ph) -- all of them. This is a team -- they just epitomize hard work and time work and unity and redemption. How they came together is a great American story, and to watch them and look into the face of Drew Brees' kid. It was like -- it was a fabulous.

CARVILLE: And Drew Brees...

COOPER: And that video of Drew Brees with his young son is incredible.

CARVILLE: Right. And he's a real -- you know, they live here. He makes no mistake about it. They're going to spend the rest of their lives here. He does than more will think.

COOPER: Do you think Drew Brees has a political career in New Orleans?

CARVILLE: I don't know. I'd vote for him. As far as I'm concerned, he can do whatever he wants.

COOPER: Mary, James, I appreciate you being on. Thanks.

CARVILLE: Thank you, man.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: What a night that was. Coming up next, charges in the death of Michael Jackson; his doctor is in court today. We'll have the latest on that.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Let's get caught up on some other important stories. Brooke Baldwin joins me now with the "360 Bulletin" -- Brook.

BALDWIN: Anderson, Pennsylvania Congressman John Murtha died today from complications of gallbladder surgery, apparently a nick in his intestines. Congressman Murtha was the first Vietnam vet elected to Congress. He served for three dozen years, becoming one of the most influential Democrats in all of Washington. John Murtha was 77 years old.

In Los Angeles, a not guilty plea from Dr. Conrad Murray; he's the man charged with involuntary manslaughter in Michael Jackson's death. Dr. Murray was with Jackson when he died last June. The coroner ruled the death a homicide caused by a mix of drugs including a powerful anesthetic normally used only in hospital settings. Today the judge let Dr. Murray out on bail but ordered him not to use any anesthesia on his patients.

And Richard Heene is out of that Colorado jail after 28 days inside. He is now beginning a work release program; that is phase 2 of his sentence from that big balloon from last year. For the next two months he will work during the day and spend nights and weekends at a minimum security facility.

And, oh boy, Brace yourself here; even more snow on the way for the mid-Atlantic states. A winter storm warning for the Washington D.C. Area signaling -- get this -- up to 20 more inches of snow on top of the two feet already fallen. Look at all those people digging out. Roll up the sleeves, get the shovel, some more snowballs. I guess it's kind of fun -- Anderson.

COOPER: At least people in Washington now are justified in complaining now about the snow. Usually if it's like a quarter of an inch, people freak out. But this was certainly a lot of snow.

BALDWIN: Yes. They're not wusses.

COOPER: Time for "The Shot" now tonight. It's weatherman melting down; Jim Kosek of Accuweather with the D.C.-Baltimore blizzard approaching. He got a little kind of loopy, I guess. Let's take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JIM KOSEK, ACCUWEATHER: Fourteen to 22 inches of snow. Oh, boy. A paralyzing, crippling record-breaking storm comes today.

Tertiary problem, yes, I've been reading the dictionary. Blowing and drifting, 3, 4, 5 feet drifts. So you shovel, drifts back over, shovels.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: No need to adjust the volume, I guess on TV.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KOSEK: Can I get a one-way ticket to New Orleans?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: You know, I actually can't see that. All I can do is hear it and I just -- it sounds kind of bizarre. Apparently he has a Facebook fan club and reportedly loves Monty Python and the truth is he's apparently always a little bit loopy so I guess this maybe wasn't too out of the ordinary, but certainly got a lot of attention.

BALDWIN: Loopy enough to check his Facebook page; he's got a whopping 637 fans though. I guess he's doing something right.

COOPER: Well, that will be growing by the hour, no doubt.

Brooke thanks very much.

That's it for 360. Thanks for watching. We'll be here all week.

"LARRY KING" starts right now.