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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Romney's Record; Newt Goes Negative; Down to the Wire in New Hampshire; Religion and the Republican Nomination

Aired January 9, 2012 - 20:00   ET

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


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Erin, thanks. Good evening, everyone.

We begin tonight with the very latest on an old-fashioned New Hampshire slugfest as the first primary of campaign 2012 is about to get under way, the first ballot being cast as always, as is traditional, at the stroke of midnight in the tiny town of Dixville Notch.

Now the run-up to that moment has been unlike anything we've seen especially from Republicans where the barnstorm in New Hampshire and campaigning in the state that's next South Carolina, they've thrown mild jabs at one another and some hey makers at Mitt Romney. The latest polling from Suffolk University still shows him the overwhelming favorite but his lead over Ron Paul is slipping and the other candidates have been going at him with all they've got, fairly or not. And "Keeping Them Honest" they've been using his own words and his own record against him, especially on jobs.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JON HUNTSMAN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Governor Romney enjoys firing people. I enjoy creating jobs.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: "Keeping Them Honest," Governor Huntsman stretched that one a little -- a little out of context. Here's Governor Romney's original remark.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I like being able to fire people that provide services to me. If -- you know, if someone doesn't give me the good services I need, I want to -- I want to say, you know, that I'm going to go get somebody else to provide that service to me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Now that sentence, whether you think it's spot-on or tone deaf, came at the end of a long argument against a current health care reform law and people having the ability to fire insurance providers. It's not a long argument about the virtues of eliminating jobs.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: I was talking about insurance companies. Yes, we like to be able to get rid of insurance companies that don't give us the service that we need.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Now opponents are, as you can understand, pouncing on this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: I know what it's like to worry whether you're going to get fired. There were a couple of times I wondered whether I was going to get a pink slip. And I care very deeply about the American people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Well, that drew this from Rick Perry on the trail in South Carolina.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. RICK PERRY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Now, I have no doubt that Mitt Romney was worried about pink slips, whether he was going to have enough of them to hand out because his company, Bain Capital and all the jobs that they killed. I'm sure he was worried he'd run out of pink slips.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Now that remark was tame compared to this from a super PAC supporting Newt Gingrich.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: Everything corporation earns ultimately goes to people. So -- where do you think it goes?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In your pocket.

ROMNEY: Whose pockets? Whose pockets?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The story of greed, playing the system for a quick buck. A group of corporate raiders led by Mitt Romney. More ruthless than Wall Street.

For tens of thousands of Americans, the suffering began when Mitt Romney came to town.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: That's a 30-second portion of a three-minute trailer to a 28-minute documentary the super PAC is running. We'll have more on that and Speaker Gingrich's attack strategy shortly. First though, Mitt Romney keeps making claims about his job record and they seem at odds with what his own campaign spokesperson has been saying about his jobs record.

Tonight "Keeping Them Honest," here's what Governor Romney said last Tuesday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: I'm very happy that in my former life we helped create over 100,000 new jobs. And by the way, we created more jobs in Massachusetts than this president has created in the entire country. So if the president wants to talk about jobs, and I hope he does, we'll be comparing my record with his record and he comes up very, very short.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: All right. So that 100,000 number got a lot of attention including from the "Washington Post" fact-checker. A Romney spokesman telling him that it came from three companies, Domino's Pizza, Staples and the Sports Authority that Romney helped start while at Bain Capital.

However, he said it does not include job losses, layoffs at other Bain companies. In addition as we reported on Friday, those numbers include a dozen years worth of jobs growth after Romney left Bain. But now listen to Governor Romney just yesterday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: In the business I had we invested in over 100 different businesses and net-net, taking out the ones where we lost jobs and those that we added, those businesses have now added over 100,000 jobs.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Well, he's saying the numbers now take layoffs into account. That's the net-net he's talking about. Remember that's different from what his spokesman just said. And notice Governor Romney says, quote, those businesses have now added 100,000 jobs. That is technically accurate but it glides over the fact that neither he nor Bain may have had much to do with many of those jobs because, as we and many others have pointed out, he'd long since left the firm.

Now that said, even narrowing it down to the time he was at Bain, it's hard to get a clear picture of how good or bad Mitt Romney's record was on jobs and that's because Bain doesn't release figures and a lot of the companies it bought or invested in were private or still are private.

Now the "Wall Street Journal" did some digging for today's paper. It looked at 77 businesses Bain invested in while Romney led the firm. Twenty-two percent of those companies either filed for bankruptcy or closed eight years after the Bain investment. For another 8 percent all the money that Bain invested was lost.

The "Journal" also found that those 77 deals netted Bain investors $2.5 billion. They made Mitt Romney very, very wealthy, up to a quarter billion dollars wealthy.

Let's bring in the panel now. Senior political analyst, David Gergen, St. Louis Tea Party organizer bigjournalism.com editor, Dana Loesch, GOP strategist and former Gingrich spokesman, Rich Galen.

David, a lot of the Republican candidates seemed to be hitting kind of very populist themes very hard, some of those ad you think could be run by Democrats. Are you surprised to hear the Republicans sounding kind of like Democrats in their attacks on Romney on this?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I am. They sound there's a desperation to some of these and more than that there's a hypocrisy that we've been hearing during these 15 debates, every one of these candidates stand up and defend the free market while Bain Capital is a success within the free market system.

And for them to go after it in this way I think does -- it certainly smells of hypocrisy. But I think the harder questions are, when you look at Bain itself, how is it -- how did it operate during the Romney years. And I don't know all the facts, Anderson. I can just tell you this, within Boston where I live now and Bain Capital is located, Bain has a very good reputation.

They are not seen as corporate raiders. They're seen as responsible in the way they buy out things. I've had one personal experience in a corporate setting where they came in and bought the company. And we were very, very proud in terms of the company finding -- having Bain as a partner.

And Domino's Pizza, I can tell you from another conversation today with someone who's very involved with that, Bain came in, they did it very responsible. Domino's, you know, had that niche in the market of delivering pizzas, they almost went down, Bain came in, turned it around and they've done well.

Are there other examples? Yes. Teddy Kennedy pointed out other examples where I think are much more questionable. And he ran against him back for the Senate. But overall, I must tell you that within the business community, Bain, as a general reputation here in Boston is very positive.

COOPER: Rich, is it a sign of desperation for Newt Gingrich, your old boss, that, I mean, they're talking about corporate raiders and -- you know with this super PAC ad?

RICH GALEN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Yes. They said they're going to spend I think $3.5 million in South Carolina. I don't think you can do that without actually buying a TV station. I don't -- I'm not sure there's enough time available in a week to spend $3.5 million in those markets. But one of the things about what Gingrich is doing is that the other night, I forget which debate, but he went after the president for suggesting that we -- that the president wants to have a French socialist-slash-European, I forget the litany, kind of economy.

And in fact, by attacking what Romney did at Bain or what all the people at Bain did, he is in effect subjecting that we ought to go to a French system, and in the French economic system, every employee in every company is, in effect, a tenured professor. It's almost impossible to get rid of somebody after they've worked for a very short period of time.

So I think this is -- this is not going to have a long-term effect. It's the kind of thing that you want to get into in January and February. It's good for the Romney campaign, I think, to actually learn how to deal with it and to pivot off of it because they will certainly hear it again in the fall.

COOPER: Yes. Well, to that point, Dana, we heard Democratic activists or operatives saying that the president's super PAC could rerun the Gingrich super PAC anti-Romney film as their own basically without a single edit. Do you think this is helping Romney kind of prepare for that eventual attack or is it really hurting him?

DANA LOESCH, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I think it's helping him prepare overall I think because the execution was bungled on this attack ad from the get-go with messaging. It's not going to really have an effect on him overall. There's two things happening simultaneously here. Conservatives are split. They're upset because they see some unethical behavior, is what they say, with corporate raiding in Bain Capital, which there's a dirty part of capitalism but it's still capitalism. You either like it or you don't.

The other part, and this is -- I spoke with Rick Tyler today who's a former Gingrich aide, he's associated with the super PAC that supports Gingrich, who bought the rights to this film. And when I spoke with him one of the things that he didn't mention that I actually had to bring up was the fact that Bain Capital received a $44 million taxpayer bailout for GTS, the steel mill that's in Kansas City.

Now if people want to criticize that, that's definitely worth critique. That's anti-conservative. But if you're going to criticize tenets of capitalism, which Newt Gingrich himself, has enjoyed relationship with corporate raiders, I believe he was on the advisory board of a certain company and he also received campaign donation back in the '90s as well, if you're going to criticize capitalism, that seems to be detrimental and it's not going to have an effect on the intended target.

COOPER: It's certainly an un-conservative position.

David, does Romney face -- still face this obstacle of coming across as somebody who's relatable?

GERGEN: I think he faces a very big obstacle there, Anderson. He's made -- he's made statements which I think will come back to haunt him. You know corporations are people. Today, he said, you know, I like firing people. You know, the context, when you look at the context, it seems to be a fairly harmless although sort of somewhat mindless comment. But he -- the way he talks, trying to make a $10,000 bet in the middle of a debate.

All of that sort of puts him into an elite class that I think -- and sort of a class, that's sort of seen as unsympathetic, that I think does get in his way. And I was in New Hampshire last night. I heard him at a big rally with Chris Christie. And he's continuing problems with emotional connections with people, that's not to say he's going to be a bad candidate, I just think he's got some -- he's got a lot of work to do.

COOPER: We've got a lot to cover tonight. We've got to move along.

Dana Loesch, thank you. Rich Galen, as well. David Gergen, stick around. We're going to talk to you a little bit later.

Up next, more on why Newt Gingrich is changing tactics, going on the attack. Hear what the candidates got to say about that and aggressive 30-minute spot, slamming Mitt Romney.

And tonight how Romney and Jon Huntsman's Mormon faith is playing in South Carolina. Cost Romney a lot of votes in 2008 but this time around, will it matter as much? We went to a mega church to find out. Answers on that ahead.

Let us know what you think. We're on Facebook, Google Plus, you can us to your circles. Or follow me on Twitter, @Andersoncooper. I'll be tweeting some tonight and I've already begun.

Now let's check in with Isha and she what's covering -- Isha.

ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR: Anderson, the most important development so far in the royal murder mystery, authorities have identified the victim found dead on the Queen's country estate, I should say. They know who she was but how did she die? That and much more when 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: In "Raw Politics" tonight new polling that shows just how sharply a race can turn in just a couple of weeks. The latest Quinnipiac survey down in Florida showing 36 percent support for Mitt Romney. Newt Gingrich is 12 points back.

Now that is pretty a stunning turnaround. You may remember just a month ago when CNN's own polling, Speaker Gingrich was ahead in Florida by 23 points. Different polls but not different enough to account for a 35-point swing.

Understandably, as we mentioned at the top, speaker seems to be reassessing his campaign. More now on his take-no-prisoners plan to take on Mitt Romney in that half-hour attack ad from the super PAC that supports him.

Here's Gary Tuchman.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Spend time with Newt Gingrich, and you get the feeling it's now or never.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Mr. Speaker, why should New Hampshire voters vote for you tomorrow?

TUCHMAN (on camera): What do you need to have happen in New Hampshire?

NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think it's already happening. Everywhere we go we have big crowds. Everywhere we go people are very, very positive, and I think we'll have a pretty good night tomorrow night.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): People who are very, very positive. But does that includes Newt Gingrich himself?

GINGRICH: We proved in Iowa, you can't survive just by being positive.

TUCHMAN: Gingrich is now in attack mode. Despite early promises to stay away from negative campaigning.

GINGRICH: I was having a great time just being totally positive and talking about big ideas and big solutions. And I'd be glad to go back to that. But I don't think you -- I don't believe in unilateral disarmament.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Romney took foreign seed money from Latin America.

TUCHMAN: So now a big weapon is being loaded. A super PAC called Winning Our Future, which supports Newt Gingrich, is about to start airing in an approximately 30-minute advocacy film ahead of the South Carolina primary, blasting Romney.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A story of greed, playing the system for a quick buck. A group of corporate raiders led by Mitt Romney. More ruthless than Wall Street.

TUCHMAN: Presidential candidates are not allowed to coordinate the actions of such super PACs. But when Newt Gingrich was asked on CBS News about. Quote, "your super PAC," Gingrich declared --

GINGRICH: I think there's a huge gap between where Mitt Romney is and where I am. I think that's what we hope to communicate clearly in South Carolina.

TUCHMAN: Was Gingrich acknowledging that he was directly involved in the actions of the super PAC which would violate the law?

(On camera): Mr. Speaker, are you giving any direction or advice to Winning Our Future, the super PAC?

GINGRICH: No.

TUCHMAN: Are you affiliated with them at all?

GINGRICH: I am not affiliated with them at all, I don't talk with them at all. I have not actually seen the film.

TUCHMAN: As speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich was second in line for presidential succession. To get closer than that, he has to start doing much better than his fourth place finish in Iowa.

(Voice-over): In what has become a battle to be the one and only Republican alternative to Mitt Romney. On Monday afternoon he announced an endorsement.

GINGRICH: About 20 minutes ago, I got a very nice phone call from Todd Palin, Sarah's husband, and he indicated that he was endorsing me today and was going to speak out on behalf of my candidacy.

TUCHMAN: Newt Gingrich says he's feeling momentum.

GINGRICH: I think this is still a very wide open primary.

TUCHMAN: A primary which now feature a much more aggressive Newt Gingrich.

Gary Tuchman, CNN, Manchester, New Hampshire.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Let's dig deeper now on momentum. David Gergen is back along with chief political analyst Gloria Borger, and David Webb, he's the founder of TeaParty365 and hosts the "David Webb Show" on Sirius XM Patriot.

Thanks for being with us.

Gloria, who do you think voters want to see at this point? I mean which Newt Gingrich? Kind of the aggressive Newt Gingrich or the kinder, gentler don't-speak-badly-of-other-candidates Newt Gingrich?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: I think they probably want a little bit of each because what Republicans want is somebody who can take it to Barack Obama and they also want somebody who can win. And what happened to Newt Gingrich in Iowa was that he got bombarded. And as he said in the piece Gary did, he couldn't win. So I think there's got to be a bit of nuance to a campaign and that's what we don't have from Newt Gingrich because he went out of his way to say I'm going to be the positive person and then now he's turning negative. And so it's a bit of re-branding that takes a bit of adjustment. But in fact, voters want somebody who can fight for himself.

COOPER: David Webb, tomorrow night, no one is really asking if Mitt Romney is going to win New Hampshire. That's considered to be guaranteed. But the question is, how much does he have to win by in order to blunt any momentum by other candidates heading to South Carolina? What do you think? DAVID WEBB, FOUNDER, TEAPARTY365: Well, I think Mitt Romney has got to pull out a win somewhere around 37 percent. It would be nice to see him get to 40 from the campaign's point of view. That would give him a solid bounce going into South Carolina where he's polling very well within the state, especially on the economic issues.

But the real big story in New Hampshire is going to be second and third. How will that play out with Huntsman picking up some steam? He's polling in the double digits, around 13 percent. And does Ron Paul drop off, allowing Newt Gingrich to rise a little bit?

New Hampshire, as you know, Anderson, likes to violate the polls, because we have the U's, the unaffiliated voters, who can choose on Election Day to register and vote as a Republican or choose to stay as a U. That will play heavily and they have a high percentage in this state.

COOPER: And David --

WEBB: So that will also play into it.

COOPER: And David Gergen, it'd be obviously refreshing for the Romney campaign to be above 25 percent in any kind of race because they haven't been able to break that in polls or anything.

GERGEN: Well, Anderson, New Hampshire is capable -- like surprises and there are over 35 percent who are undecided as of this weekend. So, you know, these last minute events could affect things. But generally speaking, Mitt Romney has been above 40 and now is in the mid-30s in some of the polls.

I think if he comes in less than 30, he gets hurt in the media interpretations. He's got to come in sort of in the mid-30s, I think then he'll have more -- would be called a major win. If he gets over 40 then I think that will be regarded as crushing by the media.

But I think under 30, in terms of the expectation game, he's got to beat that or otherwise, even if he pulls out a victory, I think the media was going to revive this idea that, you know, he really has a ceiling, even in this -- where he's a sort of hometown favorite.

COOPER: Gloria, and talking about these independent voters or undecided voters in New Hampshire, how big a factor there you think tomorrow night?

BORGER: Huge.

COOPER: Huge.

BORGER: You know the most important, most unpredictable, 4 out of 10 of them, 4 out of 10 of the people who go to the polls are going to be these independent voters. And it's going to be very important for Mitt Romney because he does very well with them. The big fear of the Romney campaign, and I heard this when I was at an event with Romney in Derry over the weekend is that they're afraid that some of their supporters think, oh, he's got such a big lead, we don't need to go out and vote, and that would reduce their lead.

So what Romney said to all the people at this event was, you know, please show up at the polls. We need you, because he understands what David Webb was saying, which is that he needs to win by a very convincing margin, no matter who places number two.

COOPER: David, I'm -- David Webb, I'm curious, as a Tea Party supporter, how do you view all these attacks against Romney for his time at Bain Capital, particularly this thing Gingrich has put out or his super PAC has put out?

WEBB: Well, Anderson, it's exactly what it is, an attack. It has very little merits when you look at the facts of Bain Capital. Overall, Bain Capital was 77 percent success stories, success percentage and on average venture capitalism, about 60 percent. So they're going to go after him, they're going to go after him in apples and oranges comparison to President Obama and Solyndra.

But you've got to look at the difference. Bain Capital was a private company -- is a private company and these are private investors taking risks, making decisions to roll up companies.

COOPER: But does it --

WEBB: Make decisions to push them forward.

COOPER: Does it disappoint you to hear Republican candidates making these charges which are, you know, not really necessarily conservative positions?

WEBB: I'm not that surprised. I mean let's look at the fact that this is hardball politics. And in politics, you're going to get your nose bloodied. You're going to get attacks that will come from either side. So I'm not surprised. It doesn't disappoint me.

I don't like it but negative does work. We saw in the case of Newt Gingrich's attack on Romney, that he managed to take Romney down about four points.

COOPER: Right.

WEBB: But at the same time, the collateral damage was that Newt lost a few points.

COOPER: David --

BORGER: You know --

COOPER: Yes.

BORGER: Anderson, what we're seeing happen is kind of interesting to me. In the Republican Party, you seem to be having a class warfare argument among Republicans. I mean you have Rick Santorum saying essentially that Mitt Romney isn't a guy who can feel the pain of the middle class. That's what this fire people, you know, fight is about, you know, I like to fire people, which as David points out was taken out of context on Mitt Romney.

You know corporations are people and the rest of it. So it's not good for the Republican Party to be having this argument internally about who is best to represent the middle class when the nominee could well end up to be Mitt Romney, and you're just handing these lines to Barack Obama.

COOPER: David Webb, David Gergen, Gloria Borger, thank you very much. Fascinating stuff.

Obviously one other quick item. White House chief of staff, Bill Daley, is stepping down, and he's the older man on the right. He's going to be succeeded by White House budget director Jack Lew. Daley, you'll recall, replaced Rahm Emanuel who went back to Chicago to succeed Daley's brother Richard Daley as mayor. Small world.

Up next, more "Raw Politics". Religion and the Republican nomination. How will Mitt Romney's Mormon faith play with the evangelical, particularly in South Carolina where the race moves next.

Is it going to be his Achilles' heel just like it was in 2008?

Also ahead tonight, "Crime & Punishment," revelation in the case of a missing toddler Ayla Reynolds. What her grandmother is now saying about her own whereabouts the night the child disappeared. Details ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: More politics tonight, a group of powerful evangelicals has called an emergency meeting in Dallas this coming weekend to decide which Republican candidate to try to back. The question may be more complicated than ever this year.

In South Carolina, the next big battle after New Hampshire, evangelicals make up about 60 percent of Republican voters. In 2008, Romney's Mormon faith cost him heavily in the state's primary. This year, his opponent Rick Perry is planning an aggressive push for evangelical support with some heavy backing. Evangelical Pastor Robert Jeffress slammed Romney's religion months ago when he endorsed Perry in the fall calling the Mormon faith a cult.

When CNN's Jim Acosta asked him about that, Jeffress didn't back down.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JIM ACOSTA, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: If you don't mind me saying, Pastor Jeffers, you created a bit of a stir coming out of that speech because in talking to reporters, you said in pretty strong plain language what you think of Mormonism. You described it as a cult. And you said that if a Republican votes for Mitt Romney, they're giving some credibility to a cult.

Do you stand by that comment? ROBERT JEFFRESS, SENIOR PASTOR, FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH OF DALLAS: Absolutely. And that's not some fanatical comment. That's been the historical position of evangelical Christianity, the Southern Baptist Convention, which is the largest Protestant denomination of the world, has officially labeled Mormonism as a cult.

I think Mitt Romney is a good moral man but I think those of us who were born-again followers of Christ should always prefer a competent Christian to a -- to a competent non-Christian like Mitt Romney. So that's why I'm enthusiastic about Rick Perry.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Well, Romney has called on Perry to disavow Jeffress' endorsement. Perry has not done so. Meantime the latest CNN poll shows Mitt Romney with a solid lead in South Carolina. The question, of course, how do evangelicals factor in?

Here's David Mattingly.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The road to the Republican nomination runs through here, South Carolina's congregations of evangelical Christian. This is where four years ago, Mitt Romney was buried in fourth place.

(On camera): Mormonism. Is that the elephant in the room for Romney?

GREG SURRATT, PASTOR, SEACOAST CHURCH: Obviously I think it's an issue. Probably similar to Catholicism for John Kennedy 50 years ago.

DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Greg Surratt is pastor of one of the state's biggest mega churches. And among these Born-Again Christians, there are deeply held opinions about Romney's faith and the question, are Mormons Christians?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Show of hands for people who think they are not. Is that going to affect how you view him as a candidate?

JERRY MCSWAIN, EVANGELICAL CHRISTIAN: We can't be one issue type of people. We have to broaden our viewpoint in some form or fashion. I do think in terms of religious issues or spiritual issues, they go to the issue of character.

MATTINGLY (on camera): In this election, Evangelical voters here say that character and conviction matter more to them than a candidate's denomination. Surprisingly, social issues barely come into the conversation at all.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Economy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The budget.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Small businesses. MATTINGLY: Does that mean the wallet has taken the place of the bible when it comes to voting?

SURRATT: You know, that's a pretty powerful stimulus is the wallet. I'm hoping as a believer and a leader of believers that it's secondary.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): Four years and a bad economy have these voters feeling vulnerable. Ray and Cindy Ferrell pray to God for relief.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Without our faith, we would be toast.

MATTINGLY: Former real estate developers, the Ferrell's lost their business, their salaries, their health insurance and their retirement and that tears come easily.

RAY FERRELL, EVANGELICAL CHRISTIAN: Took away our livelihood. At one point, I thought I lost my dignity, you know, who I am. We couldn't do the things we used to do. It was tough.

MATTINGLY: The Ferrell's struggle daily with their losses and it drives their votes. Hard times leave little room for hard questions about a candidate's faith.

(on camera): Is that enough to affect your vote when you're looking at Romney?

CINDY FERRELL, EVANGELICAL CHRISTIAN: No. Not for me.

MATTINGLY: Why not?

FERRELL: First of all, I'm not looking at a president to be the leader of my church.

MATTINGLY: But the Ferrell's and other Evangelicals are looking for someone who will help answer their prayers, prayers for an economic recovery and a stronger future.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: David joins us now. I've seen conflicting polls including our own. How's Romney doing among Evangelicals?

MATTINGLY: Well, we saw he was doing 37 percent here leading the pack state-wide. It's just a couple of percentage points less among Born-Again Christians and leading the pack there as well.

But when you drill down on the numbers that's where it gets really interesting. We see that Born-Again Christians who are leaning towards the Tea Party are less likely to support him than others. So again, you see how the economy is coming into play here.

COOPER: I guess, some people would ask, well, how could -- if they don't accept Romney's way of worshipping, how could they vote for him. But as a lot of people point out, Evangelicals are not necessarily single issue voters. It's very easy to paint them with a simplistic brush.

MATTINGLY: That's right. There's a very strong need here not just among Evangelicals and Born-Again Christians. There's a need here in South Carolina. They feel to find someone that they believe can win.

Because they believe that the Republican nominee, whoever wins here, could go on to become the nominee and have a chance at beating President Obama. That's what they're looking for because right now the complaints they have are about how the country is being run right now and being less concerned how it might be run after the election.

COOPER: David Mattingly, I appreciate the reporting. Thank you.

A programming note, stay with CNN for special live coverage of the first New Hampshire primary. We start tomorrow night 7:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN.

Let's check some other stories we're following. Isha is back with the "360 Bulletin" -- Isha.

ISHA SESAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, activists in Syria say at least 23 more people were killed today, including 13 in the city of Homs. The government has long restricted international journalists from entering the country. A CNN team is now inside Syria, but it has prevented home to from doing live reports.

Iran has sentenced a former U.S. Marine to death. Amir Mirzaei Hekmati is accused of espionage. His family and the U.S. government denied the charge. Hekmati is a U.S. citizen was arrested in August while visiting relatives in Iran.

Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was at a memorial event over the weekend, a year after she was shot in the head. She led the crowd in the pledge of allegiance at the event at the University of Arizona.

Anderson, a leopard has reportedly been released into a nature reserve in India days after it attacked three men killing one of them. We warn you, this may be tough to look at.

The leopard wandered into a residential area in Northeast India Saturday and attacked the men. A bystander managed to snap that horrifying picture. The leopard was eventually tranquilized and taken to a zoo. Just really frightening.

COOPER: Wow, bizarre stuff. Isha, thanks.

Still ahead tonight, the search for a missing toddler, Ayla Reynolds, continues in Maine as her grandmother seemed to make a big revelation. That's a CNN exclusive interview ahead.

Also tonight, a big break in the murder mystery that turned the queen's country estate into a crime scene. Details ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: In "Crime and Punishment." New details in the case of the missing toddler, Ayla Reynolds. She's 21-months-old and her father, Justin Dipietro reported her missing December 17th.

Now police have said they believed someone took Ayla from her home in Waterville, Maine, that she didn't just wander off. According to police, several adults were in the house the night that Ayla disappeared including one person who isn't a family member.

Now in an exclusive interview of CNN on Friday, Ayla's grandmother implied that she was in the house that night. She said she didn't heard a noise and wasn't the last one to go to bed. Now it she seems she is changing her story. Here's Susan Candiotti.

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SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In a story full of twist, the latest, a bombshell, Ayla Reynolds grandmother wasn't home the night the toddler disappeared.

In an exclusive CNN interview, she left the opposite impression when talking about what happened that night.

(on camera): You didn't hear any noise?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I did not hear anything.

CANDIOTTI (voice-over): She didn't hear it because she was somewhere else she now exclusively tells CNN, another location she declined to publicly disclose.

Why not come clean from the start? Dipietro says she was trying to protect the investigation at the request of police, but then felt she needed to set the record straight.

What does it mean for an investigation entering its fourth week and with no sign of the little girl? Dipietro says it shouldn't matter. She says police have always known her whereabouts that night.

Outside her home this weekend, people continue to stop by, leaving gifts and praying for her safe return. She disappeared about a week before Christmas after her father says he put her to bed only to discover her missing the next morning when he called police.

(on camera): Who do you think would do such a thing?

PHOEBE DIPIETRO, AYLA REYNOLDS' GRANDMOTHER: Again, I've given my theories and my opinions to the Waterville Police Department and detectives. I just keep hoping that law enforcement is going to bring Ayla home and they are going to find her.

CANDIOTTI (voice-over): But if police are any closer to finding the little girl, they haven't yet said so. Police suspect foul play, but from the start of the investigation, have refused to say who was home the night Ayla vanished. This was home video shot last fall of the toddler who would now be 21 months old.

DIPIETRO: She's quiet, very sweet. Her eyes, she has the bluest eyes and the longest eyelashes.

CANDIOTTI: This video, exclusive to CNN was shot in Phoebe Dipietro's living room steps away is Ayla's bedroom, which she shared with her cousin who is untouched that night. Her face is blurred.

(on camera): When you found out that she wasn't there, what did you think?

DIPIETRO: I thought that I didn't want my son to go get any of his friends and go kicking indoors looking for her.

CANDIOTTI: I take it you don't think some stranger walked in off the street and did this?

DIPIETRO: It is a very creepy feeling to think somebody had been casing your house, that they had been watching the family's activities.

CANDIOTTI (voice-over): After Ayla vanished, her grandmother told detective some things around the house didn't look the same.

DIPIETRO: Some oddities that I had noticed and we told the law enforcement what those were.

CANDIOTTI: She would not reveal them to us. Ayla's parents never married and live apart. The child's mother, who has spent time in rehab, her family says, questions whether the father, Justin Dipietro, mistreated Ayla, suspicious about a soft cast she had on her left arm the night she went missing.

Justin's mother said she was home when her son tripped while carrying Ayla into the house. In other words, it was an accident. Police say both families are cooperating in the investigation. Although she wasn't there that night, Dipietro says none of the people who were there are responsible for Ayla's disappearance.

DIPIETRO: Justin is a great dad. He truly, truly is and I know he loves Ayla.

CANDIOTTI: This sparkling reds dress and books are among Ayla's Christmas gifts never wrapped.

DIPIETRO: I have to believe she is OK.

CANDIOTTI (on camera): Do you have anything to say for whoever took Ayla?

DIPIETRO: Please bring her back, please bring her back.

CANDIOTTI (voice-over): So she can see her dancing again.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Susan joins us now. There are obviously been a lot of questions raised about this family. Why and did she on Friday tell you one thing, that she was -- or implied that she was in the house and didn't hear anything and then later admit she wasn't in the house or say she wasn't in the house.

CANDIOTTI: She said that she didn't mean to do it. I had interviewed her late at night. The next morning, I went over to see her and her son, Justin.

She took me in and said, I have to tell you something. I have to tell you the truth. I made a mistake. I told you the wrong thing.

But she said, I was trying to be so careful to follow the police's instructions about not saying anything about what happened that night that I screwed up.

She was really upset. You know, I felt sorry for her. I give her credit for telling the truth.

COOPER: She said there were oddities in the house that she told police. It's understandable why she wouldn't tell anybody else because if somebody is arrested, that could be part of the investigation.

CANDIOTTI: Exactly, exactly. She wouldn't tell us exactly. That's why. But I could tell you that the inside of the house was covered in fingerprint dust. It took them a long time. They were still cleaning it up when we went in the house.

If you look around the outside of the house, you can see that there are windows on the side and in the back. So if someone wanted to make entry that way, if they came in to take her and snatch her, kidnap her, there are a lot of ways they could have come in.

COOPER: When you asked her about who she suspected or what her thoughts were, was it a stranger, she didn't really answer that question?

CANDIOTTI: She answered her own question, but you're right, she didn't say it. Because the police have told her, keep your mouth shut, we don't want to give any clues away about what we know and that's why she wouldn't tell us.

COOPER: Susan, appreciate the reporting. Thank you very much. Here's Piers Morgan with a look of what's coming up in "PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT" -- Piers.

PIERS MORGAN, HOST, CNN'S "PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT": Thanks, Anderson. Tonight as Newt Gingrich battles to stay alive in the campaign, I'll talk to two of the women who know his best, his daughters.

Plus former GE's CEO, Jack Welch, we're talking about the candidate he says is most qualified from a business point of view that he's ever seen to be president.

And the indy filmmaker who's latest effort cost just $9,000. He's also the envy of men everywhere, Ed Burns, husband to supermodel, Christie Turlington. That's coming up at 9. Back to you, Anderson.

COOPER: Piers, thanks very much.

A new twist coming up in a royal murder mystery. We now know the name of the teenage girl who was found dead on the Queen of England's estate. The question was, who killed her? We're going to get the latest from CNN's Max Foster in London.

Also ahead, incredible video of a terrifying fall from a bungee jump. Australian woman falling more than 350 feet after her bungee cord snapped and she survived. We'll show you the video ahead.

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COOPER: Now there's a major piece of the puzzle in a royal murder mystery tonight, but still a lot of questions. The body of a 17-year-old girl found on the Queen of England's estate in Sandringham last week has been identified.

DNA test confirmed her identity, but police have not given a cause of death, only saying they are, quote, "investigating the murder."

Tonight, I spoke with CNN international anchor and royal correspondent, Max Foster.

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COOPER: Max, this girl whose body that was found, what do we know about her?

MAX FOSTER, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHRO AND ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we know that she moved over with her family from Latvia in 2009 and settled in a town called Wiz Beach, which is around 30 miles away from the Sandringham estate.

We're told that she was out-going and fun loving that's what the police have told us. They're very quick to scotch any rumors that she was involved in the sex industry.

They said that's not true at all. In fact, she was getting ready to start college on a beautician's course in September, but that was around the time she disappeared -- Anderson.

COOPER: Do police have any idea how long ago she died?

FOSTER: She went missing at the end of August, beginning of September, that's all we know, and the body has been there up to four months in Sandringham. So that's a mystery.

She was last seen the 31st of August in a car with two men. The police managed to find those two men. They questioned them, but haven't arrested them.

In the meantime, they're really focusing their efforts on the Sandringham estate, really combing that area and trying to find out if there are any functions or events at the beginning of September, which may have drawn her to the estate.

So they've been speaking to people who worked there on the estate. So the game keeper, the royal game keeper, the royal estate manager, they have all been asked questions all in an effort to find some sort of lead.

COPPER: So is this -- I mean, I haven't been out to this estate, I haven't seen it. Can anyone just go out onto the grounds? Are they open to the public? Is this kind of -- it's easily accessible?

FOSTER: Yes, 20,000 acres. So it is open to the public, but most of the people that live there are on the queen's properties. They work on the estate, largely known by any queen.

The royal family may have well been out shooting there in December. That is traditional in this area. The queen is staying there still with Prince Philip about two miles away from where the body was found.

So she is being kept informed. We don't think she's been questioned, but she's being kept informed about all of this, Anderson. A crime in her own backyard effectively.

COOPER: Yes, Max Foster, appreciate the latest. Thank you.

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COOPER: Let's check back in with Isha with the "360 News and Business Bulletin" -- Isha.

SESAY: Anderson, in Arkansas, a 73-year-old woman told police she was forced to wear an explosive device around her ankle and attempt to rob a bank by a man who broke into her home.

The bank was evacuated and police removed the device from the woman's ankle. When police went into her home, they found her husband was tied up. They believed the suspect fled in the couple's pickup truck.

Severe weather hammered the Houston area today. Emergency officials said as many as 30 water rescues were carried out after flash floods left streets and highways impassable. Thousands were left without power.

In 2011, 373 people were killed in plane crashes worldwide, but there wasn't a single passenger death here in the United States, an incredibly safe year for air travel considering there were about 10 million flights in the U.S.

And caught on tape, check this out, an amazing story of survival, an Australian woman is lucky to be alive after her bungee cord, as you see there, snapped, when she leaped off the Victoria Falls Bridge into a crocodile infested river in Southern Africa. She only suffered cuts and bruises in the fall.

COOPER: That's unbelievable.

SESAY: It's unbelievable. The thing is when she hit the water, her feet obviously were still tethered. She had to dive down, untie her feet before she could swim to the banks of the river. Incredible.

COOPER: Her feet were still tethered, you say, tethered, really?

SESAY: Yes. They were tethered, elegantly.

COOPER: I would never go bungee jumping, especially after seeing that, would you? How could you trust some rope, some guy in glasses and flip-flops tied together?

SESAY: You never fail to surprise me because I would have put money on this being on your list of things you would do.

COOPER: Not on my list. Time for our ""360" winners. Tonight's photo on the campaign trail, New Hampshire, Jon Huntsman getting kissed by a dog.

I know it's a bit early, but I'm looking for a running mate that the voters will love. You're on my short list. I know just how to lick the competition. Trust me. Your "360" t-shirt is on the way.

Coming up, a lot -- well, "The Ridiculist" something to make you laugh. We'll be right back.

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COOPER: Time now for "The Riduculist." Tonight, we're adding a gentleman who for the sake of convenience, I'm going to initially refer to as Mr. Bop-Bop. He's the man who got arrested in a park in Madison, Wisconsin after police allegedly found marijuana, drug paraphernalia and a knife on him.

According to court records found by the "Capital Times," his name used to be Jeffrey Drew Wilschke. It's just kind of a tongue twister. I'm guessing he got tired of people mispronouncing it because back in October, he legally changed his name to Beezow Do-Doo Bop Bop, legally changed it.

My favorite part of the story is how different newspapers have been dealing with the conundrum of what to call him on a second reference. Some call him Zapity Bop Bop or some call him just Bop Bop or just Bop.

Some even call him Beezow, although clearly, that is his first name. Doo-doo is his middle name and Zapity Bop Bop is his last name. If he marries someone with the last name of I don't know, say, skiddily doo-bob and she decides to hyphenate her maiden name and married name, her new last name would be a Skiddily Bop Doo Doo Zapity Bop Bop. Easy right? I mean, what I want to know is what would compel somebody to change his name to something like that. My first thought maybe his a Cab Calloway fan and wanted to pay homage to the scat song.

Or possibly he's a David Lee Roth fan. His name does kind of sound like just a gigolo, I ain't got nobody.

It's possible, possible or maybe Mr. Bop Bop is just a really big Hansen fan.

I'm sorry. You probably only recently got that song out of your head from 15 years ago and we put it right back there in. I apologize for that. It was released in 1997.

Do with it what you will that information. Not trying to make any feel old. But I digress, according to what seems to be his Facebook page or someone who coincidentally has the same name. He is indeed a music fan.

His tastes though run to the Grateful Dead and Stereolabs, so I'm not sure the David Lee Roth or Hansen theories hold any water. So the only other thing I can imagine is that when he changed his name, he wanted attention. So, congratulations, Beezow Do-Doo Zappaty Bop Bop Bop. Mission accomplished on the "Ridiculist."

That does it for us. We'll see you again tonight at 10:00. Another edition of "360," the New Hampshire primaries beginning just a couple of hours from now, at midnight. Thanks for watching. "PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT" starts now.