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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Brother of Trayvon Martin Speaks Out; Mississippi Pardon Controversy

Aired April 13, 2012 - 22:00   ET

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


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: It's 10:00 p.m. here on the East Coast.

And we begin tonight with "Keeping Them Honest" with a new and troubles chapter in the saga that has already landed these murderers on the street, their records wiped clean, free to vote and free live where they please and free to buy guns as if their deadly crimes never happened.

We're talking about former Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour. On his way out of office, he pardoned those men. He gave a factually dubious justification for what he did, kept victims' families in the dark, and repeatedly refused to answer some simple questions about his actions. All those killers got their first big break when they were chosen to work as servants at the governor's mansion for the governor. Then they were pardoned.

According to a report from the Mississippi attorney general's office, two even got car buying help from the governor's wife. Governor Barbour disputes that. As we said, though, 360 has uncovered yet another facet of the story. More evidence that calls the entire process into question and suggests there was a rush to pardon the people before checking the facts.

This one concerns the pardon of Harry Bostick. For his third DUI -- he was pardoned for his third DUI, even though he was suspected of committing a fourth DUI at the time. Governor Barbour's office says it didn't know that fact before the governor pardoned him on the third DUI. We will have more on that in a minute.

Another example it seems of the governor or his office saying one thing and the facts saying another. Here's how we justified pardoning the killers.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HALEY BARBOUR (R), FORMER MISSISSIPPI GOVERNOR: For decades our governor's mansion has been served primarily by inmates from the state penal system, almost all murderers, because the experts say people that committed one crime of passion in their life, after they have served 20 years and these have served on average 20 years are the least likely to ever commit another crime.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: We pointed out before that experts say Governor Barbour's theory is full of holes. In any case, these were hardly crimes of passion. One killer murdered his victim during a holdup. Another, David Gatlin, stalked his estranged wife, Tammy, and then shot her to death as she held their child in her arms before he turned the gun on her friend, Randy Walker.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RANDY WALKER, VICTIM: I mean, a crime of passion to me is if you come home early from a business trip or you come from lunch unexpected and you find your spouse doing something they're not supposed to do and you snap and beat them to death with a lamp on the side of the bed table or something.

You don't drive nine hours from Georgia, stalk us all night long, follow me back to my house to find out where I live and who I am, get up and sleep on it all night long, get up and hunt us down the next morning and then do it. I mean, there's plenty of time to stop what you've done here. And that's one of the questions that if Governor Barbour would ever get -- man up enough just to talk to me, that's the question I would ask him. How is this a crime of passion? Show me how this is a crime of passion.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Randy Walker said he got just 24 hours notice that David Gatlin, the man who shot him, was being set free. He said he never had a chance to fight Gatlin's transfer to the governor's mansion or the subsequent pardon.

As for Tammy Gatlin's mother and sister, this is what Governor Barbour claimed about keeping them in the loop.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: They disagree with your decision.

(CROSSTALK)

BARBOUR: ... actually came and met with my lawyers two years ago.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Governor Barbour claims his lawyers met with your family two years before David Glenn Gatlin's release. Is that true?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, that's absolutely false. We have had no contact with the governor or his lawyers, any of his people. No one has made an attempt to contact us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Nor has the former governor shown any inclination at all to answer any questions about any this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Governor, Ed Lavandera with CNN. Can we talk to you real quick?

(CROSSTALK)

BARBOUR: Let me go get my instructions first.

(CROSSTALK)

LAVANDERA: Can you come out and talk to us a second?

He wouldn't give us a second and walked right inside the building, but not before showing us what he thought of the questions.

(on camera): Governor, can you talk to us about the pardons?

BARBOUR: Let me get my business straight here.

LAVANDERA: All right, we'll wait for you out here then.

BARBOUR: All right. Stay where it's cold.

LAVANDERA: Just told me to stay where I'm cold.

Governor, can we get a few minutes to talk about the pardons?

BARBOUR: Not really. When the Supreme Court rules, it'll be time to talk.

LAVANDERA: But --

BARBOUR: I'm not so presumptuous.

(CROSSTALK)

BARBOUR: I'm not so presumptuous as to predict what the Supreme Court's going to do. But when they rule, then we can talk.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Well, Mississippi Supreme Court ruled and upheld the pardons. But Governor Barbour still didn't talk, still wouldn't answer our questions and still won't, not ours, not Ed Lavandera's.

But Ed kept digging and as we said he has found another pretty surprising chapter in the pardon story. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have any questions? Whenever you're ready.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): Police dash-cam cameras repeatedly captured Harry Bostick's drunken stumbles in Oxford, Mississippi. The retired IRS investigator was a familiar face to the officer who arrested him twice.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know who you are.

LAVANDERA: In all, Bostick was convicted of drunk driving three times between 2008 and 2009.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you been drinking today?

LAVANDERA: Bostick was serving a felony sentence in an alcohol abuse program, not in prison, when he asked former Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour to pardon him.

Friends say Bostick's life fell into a destructive course after the tragic death his teenaged son in a house fire and a divorce from his wife. Influential people including former federal prosecutors who are friends with top state elected officials wrote glowing letters to Barbour saying Bostick no longer drinks alcohol and had turned his life around.

Last September, the Mississippi parole board in a 3-2 vote recommended a pardon for Bostick, but fate had Harry Bostick on a collision course with an 18-year-old girl named Charity Smith.

LINDA SMITH, MOTHER: All I think about is my child every day.

LAVANDERA: Linda Smith weeps when she talks about her daughter. About a week after the parole board's vote, Charity pulled out on to this road near Tupelo, Mississippi, apparently not seeing Harry Bostick's truck coming down the road.

Bostick slammed into the side of her car. Charity was killed. Regardless of who was at fault, state police say one thing was clear. Bostick was driving drunk again.

(on camera): Charity was quite the artist.

SMITH: I think so.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): It was just one week after the parole board's recommendation. Three months later Governor Barbour would pardon Bostick, despite his continued drinking.

(on camera): On the day Haley Barbour pardoned Harry Bostick, Bostick was actually sitting in this jail here in Oxford, Mississippi. He was suspected of driving drunk a fourth time involved in that accident that killed Charity Smith.

At the time we first reported the story, the governor's spokeswoman told us that the governor had no idea that this had happened, but now we have obtained documents that suggest the governor's office knew all along.

(voice-over): Bob Whitwell, a former federal prosecutor, was one of the friends who pushed for his pardon, but just days after the deadly car accident, and before Bostick was pardoned, he wrote a much different e-mail to his law school friend Delbert Hosemann, the current secretary of state in Mississippi.

Whitwell writes: "My friend was involved in a motor vehicle accident and he had been drinking. I had no idea he had messed up. Therefore, hold up on helping him. All of us are in shock. Sorry."

The e-mail was forwarded to the governor's office and Barbour's chief lawyer said, "OK, will do." Despite the e-mail, Governor Barbour helped anyway and pardoned Bostick.

(on camera): This is the e-mail. We wanted you to be able to see it.

SMITH: That means they knew and they still pardoned him.

LAVANDERA: So this was four days after Charity was killed?

SMITH: This was four days, four days. That's not right. This is not right.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): In February, we tried to ask Governor Barbour about Bostick's pardon.

(on camera): Governor, can we get a few minutes to talk about the pardons?

BARBOUR: Not really. When the Supreme Court rules, it'll be time to talk.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): We went back to the governor again looking for answers.

(on camera): Do you regret pardoning...

LAVANDERA (voice-over): Once again, Barbour refused and his spokeswoman now says because the pardon issue could go back to the state Supreme Court, "We do not think that it is appropriate to comment beyond what Governor Barbour has already stated previously."

We don't know if Barbour's staff told him about Bostick's fourth drunk driving incident and the death of Charity Smith, but Linda Smith is convinced the former governor knew and ignored it.

SMITH: I just want to know why he went ahead and done it. Knowing, why would you go ahead and do it?

LAVANDERA (on camera): Do you feel kind of helpless?

SMITH: Yes. Because what can I do? I mean, really, what can I do? It's done. What's so bad is they knew and it still got done. How do you fix that?

LAVANDERA: It can't be fixed and to Linda Smith, the pardon of Harry Bostick stinks of corruption.

Ed Lavandera, CNN, Oxford, Mississippi.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Again, we keep trying to get Haley Barbour to sit down with us any time, any place just to give his side of the story. And the invitation remains open.

I spoke with Linda Smith earlier.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: How are you holding up, Linda?

SMITH: I take each day the best I can. I miss my daughter so very much.

COOPER: It doesn't get any easier, does it?

SMITH: No, it doesn't.

COOPER: The last time we spoke, you said that you believed the governor's office when they said they were not aware of a fourth DUI charge. Now you have seen the e-mails and now know that they were, in fact, aware of the fourth charge. What went through your mind when you found that out?

SMITH: I could not understand why they still did it, knowing, and why didn't they stop it? Why did he go ahead and do it? I don't understand that. When you have something stating someone is sitting somewhere for the same thing, only a person has died, who does that? I don't understand that.

COOPER: It doesn't make any sense to you that they would go ahead and do that, knowing about the fourth DUI?

SMITH: No.

And another thing I don't understand is if all these people wrote letters stating that this person has changed, why didn't more people come forward? And they had to have known where he was. And only one person? Or is there more and we just don't know about it?

COOPER: He was in jail at the time the pardon came through?

SMITH: Yes.

COOPER: Has Haley Barbour or anyone from his office contacted you?

SMITH: No. No, they haven't.

COOPER: No one has even contacted just say I'm sorry about this or to try to explain it?

SMITH: No. No one has called me.

COOPER: What do you want to happen to this man, to Harry Bostick?

SMITH: Them knowing what they did and still pardon him, I don't see how they can do that. I don't see how that pardon could stand up. I mean, I don't understand that part. How can that happen?

COOPER: What do you want people to remember about your daughter, I mean, to keep in mind about your daughter in all of this?

SMITH: That she had a future, a wonderful future. And she's not here to fulfill it anymore, that her dreams, they will never -- she was saying to me just days before that, she said, mom, I'm not going to lose sight of my dreams. I'm going to get my degree and I'm going to do the things I set out to do.

And now she will not. I mean, she will never feel the sun on her face. She will never grow up. She will never have a family.

COOPER: Linda, thank you for talking to us. And we're going to keep on this. Thank you. Stay strong.

SMITH: You're welcome.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, let us know what you think. We're on Facebook, Google+ or follow me on Twitter @AndersonCooper. I will be tweeting tonight.

A new disclosure today in the Trayvon Martin case. We will take you inside the courtroom next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: New developments in the Trayvon Martin case starting with the moment of a courtroom drama. Judge Jessica Recksiedler called a brief hearing to make a disclosure involving her ties to CNN's newest legal analyst, Mark NeJame, who referred defendant George Zimmerman to his current attorney, Mark O'Mara.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JUDGE JESSICA RECKSIEDLER, ASSIGNED TO MARTIN CASE: It's my understanding that Mr. Zimmerman had called Mark NeJame to represent him prior to you, Mr. O'Mara.

As I have mentioned previously, my husband works with Mark NeJame. He does however only practice civil law. He has never practiced criminal law and does practice criminal law at this time. But I did want to make both the parties aware pursuant to the judicial canon and that way under my obligations I wanted to disclose it to you as soon it was possible.

As I became why is why I set this status hearing first thing this morning. And that way you all can decide how you wish to proceed.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: Neither side has asked the judge to recuse herself, but Mark O'Mara said he might file a motion next week. A bond hearing is set for next Friday. The formal arraignment for May 29. The actual trial may not begin for many, many months.

In the meantime we're learning more about George Zimmerman's day- to-day life as an inmate at the Seminole County jail in Sanford, Florida. He is under protective custody in a 67 square foot cell and he has no access to TV or tobacco. He can however get reading material from the jail library or by mail order and can purchase items from the commissary.

His first order included toiletries, clothing, puzzle books, playing cards and snack food. Inmates get three meals a day and three hours of recreation each week. That's a quick rundown of George Zimmerman's physical circumstances.

As for his mental state and his case going forward, I talked about it with his attorney, his new attorney, Mark O'Mara.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Mr. O'Mara, you spoke with your client. First of all, what is condition like? How is he doing?

MARK O'MARA, ATTORNEY FOR GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: I think he's stressed. He is certainly nervous, a bit frustrated.

It's been a long process for him as well, including sort of the imposed isolation of the last several weeks and now he's facing second-degree murder charges and if nothing else, he has the stress of having been involved in an event where someone passed away.

COOPER: What are his thoughts about the charges against him and the proceedings thus far?

O'MARA: Since neither he nor I have really seen the evidence presented by the state, it's hard to really say whether or not the charges of second-degree were appropriate or overcharging.

We will have to wait to see. He's frustrated he was charged at all. But I think he's at least -- there's some solace in the reality that we now have some procedure in place, and he knows what will happen next, rather than constantly guessing.

COOPER: You have decided to hold off on pursuing bail for your client. Why?

O'MARA: Couple reasons. I'm not certain the county court judge that was handling the first appearance would have addressed it anyway, even if I had pushed him.

Probably more importantly, truly trying to get a handle on the case and to try and turn down the heat. And were I to demand a bond, then that would put the state in a position of having to bring forth evidence to argue against the bond, which would have just been more public presentation of the evidence, firstly, without me having had an opportunity to review it, and I just made the decision with George that we weren't going to push the issue now.

We do have a bond motion filed and I think it's going to be set for hearing the end of next week. I would like to have continued discussions with the state attorney's office to see if there's a way to come to some resolution to that. But we will see.

COOPER: The two gentlemen who previously were identified as his attorneys, whether or not there was any actual documents signed, it seems there wasn't, they seemed to characterize him as suffering from PTSD.

Joe Oliver, a friend of George Zimmerman, has also said similar things. Do you think that's a fair characterization?

O'MARA: If he's going to be diagnosed with something, that's going to come after a consultation, and an expert, like a psychologist or psychiatrist, will make that determination.

Having done this for many, many years you get an armchair feel for these things. I was able to interact with him very well. He's rational, certainly and understands what's going on. He is extraordinarily stressed, as anyone would be if they were in George Zimmerman's position.

COOPER: So at this point, you really have not talked to George Zimmerman about what happened that night, anything about the facts of the case?

O'MARA: I have not.

COOPER: You're waiting to see what facts the prosecution presents and then bring those to him?

O'MARA: Well, my hope would be quite honestly -- I will have a conversation with him. And I don't like having it in the jail but I'm sure we will begin talking about more particulars of the case. I would love to have that conversation with him here in my office after he's out on bond. I'm not just going to wait to see what the state says before I talk to him, though.

We're building our trust level and it's already at a good point where I will have those conversations with him soon.

COOPER: In terms of just timeline, you're looking at a long time before trial, no?

O'MARA: Yes, I would imagine a case like this, the fact it being a second-degree with these elements is not an enormous amount of facts specific to the case. It's a limited number of witnesses, it happened over a limited period of time.

We will look into it, but I just have to be realistic that the focus of the case is going to slow down some, so I can't imagine this case being tried within a year. COOPER: And just finally, do you know when you will start to see the evidence that the prosecution has?

O'MARA: I talked to the prosecutors who are involved in the case, Ms. Corey and her assistants, and we're already beginning the process of getting me that discovery. Under our rules I don't really deserve it or get it until 15 days after arraignment, but we're not going to wait that long to move forward on the case and the state will work with me on that.

COOPER: Mr. O'Mara, appreciate your time. Thank you, sir.

O'MARA: Sure thing. Take care.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Last night Trayvon Martin's older brother broke his silence and talked the loss that he's feeling. Tonight, he talks to Sunny Hostin about the brother he knew and whether he was capable of attacking George Zimmerman. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Last night on the program we spoke with Trayvon Martin's mom and for the first time, his older brother Jahvaris. He's a soft- spoken young man and he's going through a lot and that much was clear. He also has a lot to say softly and quietly about what his younger brother meant to him, what kind of person he was and whether he was capable of doing what George Zimmerman claims.

The story now from legal analyst Sunny Hostin.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST (voice-over): To Jahvaris Fulton, Trayvon Martin was the little brother that shared his room growing up, a little brother who loved to make jokes, was good at sports and wanted to follow his older brother to college.

JAHVARIS FULTON, TRAYVON MARTIN'S BROTHER: He was smart. He was in, you know, honor's classes. You know, he wanted to go off to college like I did. And I think it was my sophomore year he came up with me on his spring break. And he had a good time. I showed him around there, showed him the campus. You know, so, he was set on going to school.

HOSTIN: One of Jahvaris Fulton's last happy memories of his brother is a horseback riding trip they took together in February to celebrate their mother's birthday. It was Trayvon's first time on a horse.

FULTON: His horse had, like, some problems. It was -- wanted to be a bully to everybody else's horse.

HOSTIN (on camera): How did he handle that? FULTON: He handled it. He was the first one to learn how to, like, control them. They tell you little instructions how to make them turn left and right. He -- like the first five minutes, you know, it was doing whatever he wanted.

HOSTIN (voice-over): Just eight days after this trip, Trayvon Martin was shot and killed.

(on camera): Tell me what about when you first heard about what happened to Trayvon.

FULTON: I looked at my phone and I saw I had some missed calls. One of them was my mother. So I -- you know, I gave her a call. I could tell that something wasn't right.

And she told me that Tray passed away. And I paused because I didn't believe it, and I didn't understand it either.

HOSTIN (voice-over): Jahvaris says he didn't understand it because the story that developed about that night didn't sound like the brother he knew.

(on camera): When you found out what happened, how did you feel?

FULTON: Confused. Everything I heard was from Zimmerman's perspective. And it didn't sound like my brother at all. You know, my brother attacked him and did all this stuff, it doesn't sound like him at all. He wasn't confrontational or violent.

HOSTIN: Let's talk about that because George Zimmerman's brother has been giving a lot of interviews. And he says that Trayvon, your brother, attacked his brother from behind. You just said that didn't make sense to you. Why is that?

FULTON: Based on what I heard with the 911 tapes and everything and all the evidence, he tried to get away from the situation. He wasn't violent.

For him to actually, you know, jump on someone he doesn't even know, to me, that's not him.

HOSTIN: That's not the brother you know?

FULTON: Yes. He's smarter than that.

HOSTIN (voice-over): Though Jahvaris says he's relieved that George Zimmerman was arrested, he still wants changes to Florida's stand your ground law.

FULTON: There shouldn't be any more Trayvons, not tomorrow, not next week, not next month, not next year. You know, someone shouldn't be able to murder someone and walk away.

HOSTIN (on camera): What do you want people to know about your brother? FULTON: I would like them to remember him as a happy teenager. He was always smiling. I would like them to think of him that way, you know, as someone who's positive, happy, bright future ahead of him. And, you know, he was probably going to be someone.

HOSTIN (voice-over): Sunny Hostin, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, we're following a number of other stories tonight.

Isha is here with a 360 bulletin -- Isha.

ISHA SESAY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, the fragile cease-fire in Syria appears to be holding so far. Of course, the opponents of the al-Assad regime put it to the test today, taking to the streets in various cities in protests. Still, there was sporadic violence. Opposition groups report at least seven people were killed today.

Residents of a small town in Greenland, New Hampshire, are mourning the death of their police chief, who was shot and killed last night in a day-long stand-off and shootout outside a home. Chief Michael Malone was just days away from retirement.

The mayor of Newark, New Jersey jumped into action last night and rescued a neighbor from her burning home. Cory Booker suffered smoke inhalation and second-degree burns on his right hand. His neighbor was hospitalized, also with second-degree burns.

And a bit of a breather for those that haven't filed their taxes yet. You have two extra days. Tax day is next Tuesday, April 17. That's because April 15 falls on Sunday, and the 16th is a holiday in Washington, D.C. And the law says tax day cannot fall on weekends or holidays -- Anderson.

COOPER: Isha, thanks.

Mitt Romney hunting for votes today at the National Rifle Association's convention, but how did his speech stack up to his record on gun control? We're "Keeping Him Honest."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Another "Keeping Them Honest" report. Guns and politics. No matter where you stand on guns and gun control. it's an important issue in elections. At the National Rifle Association convention today Mitt Romney gave his first big speech since becoming the presumptive Republican nominee. He painted himself as the NRA's best friend and President Obama as its enemy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This administration's attack on freedom extends to rights explicitly guaranteed by the Constitution. The right to bear arms is so plainly stated, so unambiguous, the liberals have a hard time challenging it directly. Instead, they've been employing every imaginable ruse and ploy to restrict it.

We need a president who will enforce current laws, not create new ones that only serve to burden lawful gun owners. President Obama has not. I will.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Well, "Keeping Them Honest," there's actually been very little gun-related legislation on the federal level in the last four years. And Romney's own record on gun control has put him at odds with the NRA in the past. While running for governor of Massachusetts, he positioned himself as strong on gun control.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: We do have tough gun laws in Massachusetts. I support them. I won't chip away at them. I believe they help to protect us and provide for our safety. But I want our law-abiding citizens, likewise, to have the right to purchase and use a weapon for hunting and other purposes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'REILLY: That was Romney campaigning in 2002. His tough stance on gun laws helped getting him elected then.

In 2004, he signed a law banning assault weapons in Massachusetts, something the NRA has long opposed, as the bill-signing Mitt Romney, Governor Romney said, quote, "Deadly assault weapons have no place in Massachusetts. They're instruments of destruction with the sole purpose of hunting down and killing people."

Well, Governor Romney also substantially increased gun licensing fees. Just before leaving office, though, he signed up for a lifetime membership to the NRA. And as his first presidential run got under way he began courting the NRA while still trying to distance himself from some of its positions.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: And my position on guns is the same position I've had for a long, long time. And that position is that I don't line up 100 percent with the NRA. I don't see eye to eye with the NRA.

I also was pleased to have the support of the NRA when I ran for governor. I sought it. I seek it now. I'd love to have their support. I believe in the right of Americans to bear arms.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Well, "Keeping Them Honest," though, the NRA didn't officially endorse a candidate when Romney was running for governor. In the 2007 primaries Romney also began talking more about his love for hunting. That January he told the "Boston Globe," quote, "I have a gun of my own. I go hunting myself. I'm a member in the NRA and believe firmly in the right to bear arms."

Romney later had to admit that he didn't actually own any guns. The guns he used belonged to one of his sons. A few months later, campaigning again, he put his hunting skills in perspective.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: I'm not a big game hunter. I made it very clear. I've always been, if you will, a rodent and rabbit hunter. Small -- small varmints if you will. And I began when I was 15 or so and have hunted those kinds of varmints since -- more than two times. I also hunted quail in Georgia. So I've -- it's not really big-game hunting, if you will, or it's not deer and large animals.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: We're not telling anybody what to think about guns or hunting. That's up to you to decide. Today Mitt Romney is hunting for votes, and he needs the NRA support.

Joining me now, CNN contributor, editor in chief of RedState.com, Erick Erickson, also Democratic strategist and political contributor Donna Brazile.

So Erick, last time around, Mitt Romney got a lot of grief talking about his own experience with guns, saying he'd hunted varmints, so called. He didn't make one personal reference at all in his speech. Is that a better approach for him, you think more authentic?

ERICK ERICKSON, EDITOR IN CHIEF, REDSTATE.COM: Yes, I think he probably wants to keep the personal out of it. Every time he's tried to relate anecdotes about himself and guns it hadn't come off very well for him. So yes, I mean, he's got these issues. Barack Obama has the national security issues from when he campaigned to close Guantanamo Bay and they're still open.

They're both going to be held accountable this time for past statements. That's what's going to make this campaign so fun for both Democrats and Republicans.

COOPER: Donna, though, it was a speech to a gun group. Romney only mentioned the word "guns" one time. He mentioned President Obama's name at least 25 times. Is it safe to say Romney's team is basically on the offensive now?

DONNA BRAZILE, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Absolutely not. Look, Mitt Romney is running as fast as he possibly can from his previous record. Not only on guns, but just about -- you name the topic and I can show you some clips as you just showed us. Mitt Romney, previous support for Planned Parenthood. No longer supports Planned Parenthood. Support for civil unions. No longer supports civil unions. The problem with Mitt Romney is that he's running for president, and he wants to be all things to all people. And President Obama in his re-election campaign will make it very clear to voters that, when it comes to gun ownership, he supports the Second Amendment. He will continue -- he will to enforce that law, that Constitutional amendment.

But as for Mitt Romney, let's just put it this way. We don't know where he'll stand next week on many of these issues.

COOPER: But Donna, despite Romney's claims, I mean, the irony is that President Obama hasn't exactly been as supportive as -- on new gun control measures as some liberals would like him to be.

BRAZILE: Well, he's not out there misleading voters. Look, he is the president of the United States, and the Second Amendment is enshrined in our Constitution. And he has -- he's taken the oath of office to support the Second Amendment.

He firmly supports the Second Amendment. And, you know, this notion that Democrats -- you know, we have Democrats who are responsible gun owners who support the Second Amendment. And we have some Democrats, perhaps like myself, who believe that we need to make sure that guns are in the hands of responsible people. And we need responsible, common-sense gun laws.

But the president's been clear.

ERICKSON: One of the big problems is that the president also seems to support the Second Amendment for Mexican drug owners and Mexican drug cartels, and that's going to be a big issue in the campaign, is how they've handled that.

You know, the delightful thing for political consultants and strategists this time around is that the president has said as many things as Mitt Romney has on issues and then flipped. And both sides can hold the other side accountable for the flipping.

And we can, I guess, ignore that the economy doesn't seem to be doing well and that jobs aren't coming back as quickly as they are, and 75 percent of Americans seem to be upset about the direction of the country. Which I think by November, all of these other flip- flopping and ancillary issues from Guantanamo Bay to warrantless wiretaps to Mitt Romney on guns are not going to be what matter.

What's going to matter is whether or not the president has actually come up with an economic plan or passed a budget after several thousand days to try to get something happening on the economy, which doesn't seem likely.

BRAZILE: And we welcome -- we welcome that debate, because Mitt Romney's record, as governor of Massachusetts, his record at Bain Capital, is also fair game.

And I tell you, if you ask the American people if they want to take a -- what I call a bypass on this election and go back to the previous ones, where we talk about more tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans and not talk about job creation, that's a debate that I think the Democrats are ready to have, as well. And as it relates to the Mexican drug cartels...

ERICKSON: Well, I think the Democrats should be talking about job creation.

BRAZILE: Well, we have been talking about it. It's just that the Republicans won't come to the table, because as you well know from that CNN debate, 10-1. Ten -- ten spending cuts to one, you know, dollar in tax revenue. The Republicans said "no."

But this is a debate that -- this is what the election is all about. It's not about personalities. It's about what's your plan for the future. And I think if we talk about the plans, I think President Obama will win the election.

COOPER: What do you men about the Mexican drug cartel thing?

ERICKSON: Well, you know, the operation Fast and Furious there was a report today that...

COOPER: OK, you're referring to Fast and Furious?

ERICKSON: Yes, right. Yes. I think that's going to be a problem for Barack Obama when it comes to guns. And you know, Mitt Romney, I think he mentioned that somewhat in his speech today. But as more comes out, that's a question we've got to answer, and there's a bigger national issue there. What did the government do?

Not Barack Obama per se, but what did the American government do running guns across the border into Mexico? I think there are a lot of Democrats and Republicans and independent who is still want answers in that investigation.

COOPER: Yes. And we've certainly been looking into that on this show a lot. Erick Erickson, Donna Brazile, appreciate it, both of you. Thank you.

We've got a fascinating look at an experimental surgery to treat severe depression with electrodes actually implanted into the brain to get deep brain stimulation. We're going to meet a woman who says the dread that she had her entire life started lifting right there on the operating table.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta has the amazing story next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Tonight a fascinating, but still experimental way to treat severe depression with electrodes surgically implanted in the brain, run by a battery pack. The neurologists say they're not sure how or why it works, but one woman who struggled with major depression for decades says it saved her life. And that, after trying everything else, including shock treatment, she now has the capacity to feel joy.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta has the story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For as long as Edi Guyton can remember, she could not get the sad thoughts out of her head.

EDI GUYTON, DEPRESSION PATIENT: My mother used to say to me, "Why don't you smile?"

I would give something like that, maybe, or just think, what is there to smile about?

GUPTA: At 19, the first of three suicide attempts.

GUYTON: For reasons that are inexplicable to me, even now, got up and started playing with a razor. And...

GUPTA (on camera): You cut your wrists?

GUYTON: Yes.

GUPTA: Did you cut both your wrists?

GUYTON: Yes.

GUPTA (voice-over): Over the next 40 years, she tried counseling, psychiatric drugs and electroconvulsive shock therapy, but nothing worked.

GUYTON: The despair, I think, is what is the most powerful push towards suicide, because it feels like there is no hope.

GUPTA: But if you could look inside Edi Guyton's head today, this is what you'd see. Two electrodes, the thickness of angel hair pasta, powered by a battery pack under her collarbone.

GUYTON: I don't think about it, but I have electrodes in my brain.

GUPTA: It's an experimental use of deep brain stimulation.

(on camera) So what are we looking at here?

(voice-over) Pioneered by neurologist Dr. Howard Neighbor. \

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The X is where we're seeing it.

GUPTA: The target is called area 25, a junction box for the brain circuits that control our moods.

(on camera) Here at Emory, where I'm on staff, my colleagues have been using deep brain stimulation for more than 15 years to treat movement disorders such as Parkinson's Disease. In that case they're targeting the brain's motor system. But Dr. Neighbor wanted to use DBS to target area 25 for patients with severe depression. It was a procedure, just like this, done on Edi. In surgery patients are slightly sedated as the neurosurgeon drills two holes. With an instrument to guide him, he then inserts the electrodes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is the contact on?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Contact's on.

GUPTA: As a benchmark, the doctors asked Edi to rate her feelings on a scale of 1 to 10, starting with dread.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The sense of dread is getting worse? Rate it. OK.

GUPTA: Two minutes later, they turned on one of the four contacts.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How does it feel now? Is it still high?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's the dread right now?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Three.

GUPTA: A drop from eight to three. But doctors would soon get an even better result.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're going to make some changes.

GUPTA: Up until this time, Edi could not connect emotionally, not even with her baby grand-niece, Susan.

GUYTON: And somebody handed her to me, and I held her. But I was going through the motions and I felt, really, nothing.

GUPTA (on camera): Nothing?

GUYTON: Nothing. Nothing.

GUPTA (voice-over): That changed in the operating room when they tried contact No. 2.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just let me know if anything changes. Just give a shout.

GUYTON: I just almost smiled.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You just almost smiled?

GUYTON: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Describe that for us, would you please?

GUYTON: I haven't smiled before, like, in a long time. Or laughed.

Right there in the middle of brain surgery, I felt feelings that I thought were gone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you say you almost smiled, did something strike you as funny or was it just sort of spontaneous?

GUYTON: It was, well, actually, I was thinking of playing with Susan.

I started thinking about Susan, little Susan, and I thought, I was holding her with her face to me.

GUPTA (on camera): What was that like, just to think that a machine and electricity could transform your emotions like that?

GUYTON: It felt fantastic. I didn't care what was doing it. It just felt great.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Sanjay joins me now. Sanjay, this is incredible. Do we know how this works?

GUPTA: We don't. It's one of those things in medicine where I'll tell you, some of the original research was first trying to figure out is there a seat of depression in the brain? That's a big first step.

You'll see some images, Anderson where you'll find this area 25. That's the area that's it's called, that bright green spot. They think that's where depression lives in the brain. But they didn't exactly know what to do about that. So that's why they decided to simply stimulate that area with the deep brain stimulation.

And Anderson, I don't know if you can see it. Let me show you this really quickly. It's basically a power pack. A battery pack that sits underneath someone's clavicle, Edi Guyton's clavicle right here. And then this -- this little probe here is what actually goes into the brain. It goes in on either side. That's what she has inside of her right now. This was done a few years ago, and you saw how well she's been doing.

COOPER: How often does it stimulate?

GUPTA: Well, that can be changed. You know, there's settings that you put on there. There's four different leads on there, and you can actually program it to stimulate not only how often, but how much at these different leads, and they play with that. They say, well, we turned on lead two. We didn't get much of a response. Let's turn on lead one with a little bit higher electricity.

So it's a little bit trial and error when they get in there, but they find the right formula, as they did in this case.

COOPER: Is it always this successful and can anyone have this procedure done right now, or is it all experimental?

GUPTA: Well, so I've been following this story along for some time. They first started this in Toronto several years ago. And now they've done about 37 patients total.

You know, if you look at the data sort of across the board, about two thirds of patients got better.

Let me preface that by saying, these patients, Anderson, were patients who had no other options. That's what qualified them to be in the trial. Meds hadn't worked and things like electroconvulsive therapy had limited benefits. I mean, they were really out of options. So these were the worst of the worst patients.

Two-thirds of them got better. There were with a few that did not get better at all, but there were really no significant side effects. There was -- a couple of patients had wound infections. But they were trying to figure out, is this safe? And it appears to be.

COOPER: But at this point it's still experimental?

GUPTA: Right, yes. So at this point, I think it's a few years before we get, you know, possible FDA approval for wider use of this sort of thing.

COOPER: Right.

GUPTA: Right now it's just 37 patients, still in clinical trials. As you know, that can take a while.

But look, that was pretty remarkable what you saw there. And they're also looking at, you know, using deep brain stimulation for things like OCD, possibly anxiety. These types of disorders that were sort of thought of as mood disorders, psychiatric disorders, possibly treated this way in the future.

COOPER: It's incredible. Sanjay, appreciate it. You can see more of Sanjay's report, "Battery-Powered Brains: A New Treatment for Depression," Saturday and Sunday, 7:30 a.m. Eastern on "SANJAY GUPTA MD."

Also, don't miss Sunday's full report on "CNN PRESENTS," Sunday night at 8 and 11 Eastern.

Coming up, the dangers of texting while walking. And the most random example yet of why you probably shouldn't do -- do it at all. "The RidicuList" is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Time now for "The RidicuList." And tonight we're adding the dangers of texting while walking. Let me tell you something about living here in the big city, the Big Apple as we call it, New York City.

You walk everywhere, and it's a challenge. You have to navigate through the throngs of tourists who stop in the middle of the sidewalk, who walk incredibly slowly. You have to cross the streets without getting hit by a taxi. You've got to dodge random puddles of urine, both canine and human.

And to add to that nowadays, eight out of ten people aren't even looking where they're going, drifting to and fro without a care in the world, just texting away.

But I think we finally have stumbled upon a solution to the texting while walking problem. The answer, comes from a suburb of Los Angeles. And it is brilliant in its simplicity. Bears.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He came down that driveway, down Mayfield and now he's on Briggs. And now it looks like he's turning into another driveway here. We're going to kind of maneuver around and see if we can get another shot of him. But yes, he would definitely -- OK, we got someone, a resident there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: I guarantee you that guy is going to think long and hard about texting while walking again. You know on account of the 400- pound bear on the loose factor.

Here's what he had to say. The guy, that is, not the bear.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was texting my boss that I would be late for work. Something is going on. And I'm coming down the stairs, and I see the bear coming up the stairs towards me. So I turned back and ran for my life.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: I can see it now: Texty the Bear. Only you can prevent sidewalk collisions.

We should just spring him on the texters. Frankly, I think it's the only way people are going to learn. They certainly haven't been deterred by videos of people texting and walking right into poles on Canadian television.

Nor have they been deterred by the cautionary tale of the woman we like to call "fountain lady." She's literally a waking PSA for the pitfalls of texting in motion. You've probably seen the video. It's all over the Internet.

She's walking through a mall in Pennsylvania, texting and walking, texting and walking. And OMG, falls into the fountain. Now, fountain lady was not hurt, thankfully, but she got a lawyer anyway and went on "Good Morning America" with a grave message for us all.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do not text and wake. The fountain could have been empty. I could have been in the hospital. I could have walked into a bus, you know, got hit by a car. It can happen anywhere.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: P.S., the fountain wasn't empty, she didn't go to the hospital, and there were no buses or cars driving through the mall that day. But still, listen, a valuable lesson, no doubt about it.

So take heed, New Yorkers. Please stop texting and just watch where you're going. If you can't do it out of respect for your fellow pedestrians, maybe a few strategically placed bears will do the trick.

OK. That's it for us. Thanks for watching.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts now.