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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Shooting Outside Empire State Building; Tropical Storm Isaac Targets Haiti; Death Toll Rises in Syria

Aired August 24, 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: Good evening, everyone. It's 10:00 here on the East Coast.

And we begin tonight with the striking new video of the Empire State Building shooting here in New York. It comes from the New York City Police Department. It was released earlier this evening. And we should warn you, it shows a man, the shooter, in his last seconds alive. It shows him being shot.

But we're showing it to you so you can see why police did what they did, the situation that they were confronted with. This is the scene, surveillance video after the gunman, Jeffrey Johnson, shot a former co-worker dead.

You see him there in the middle of your screen at the top. There he is shot by police officers right there. This is on Fifth Avenue right outside the Empire State Building.

Johnson, being followed by a number of officers, pulled his weapon. Crowds scatter. Police open fire. Now, all of this played out in just a matter of seconds. Johnson, is dead. So is the man he shot. Nine others were hit.

We will have complete coverage of that coming up shortly.

But, first, we want to get you up to date on the other breaking news, Tropical Storm Isaac. Storm watches have gone up in Florida. But right now, the country of Haiti is bearing the brunt of it. And there may be no worse place to be in bad weather than Haiti.

More than 400,000 people still living in tents literally have got no safe place to go. Sean Penn's organization runs one of the largest tent cities there. He joins us shortly.

But we start in the Weather Center with Chad Myers.

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: The latest now is that Isaac is 90 miles from Port-au-Prince and moving closer. In fact, moving right toward it. Moving right toward other reporters that we have in Port- Au-Prince too. So this is going to be a mess for the people here for the next few hours, probably by four or 5: 00 in the morning, it moves far enough away. The winds begin to taper off. But right now, the winds are 65 miles per hour.

Gary Tuchman is right there. He's about to experience that big band of convection that's going to come across the Dominican Republic and right into Port-Au-Prince and also obviously weather along the south side of the storm too into Port-Au-Prince and Haiti and all of the Dominican Republic here.

With the white color, that's 10 inches of rain or more. I don't know how you handle 10 inches of rain literally in about four hours. There you said it. Tropical storm watches are up for Florida, the keys, all the way up to parts in the north and southeast coast. Bahamas have warnings for that.

The forecast hasn't changed since 5: 00. The track is still what it is. Some of the computer models have changed. And we have seen a couple of runs make a little bit more of a run at Miami-Dade. And another one that comes all the way out here and makes a run at Louisiana.

So you know what, we just don't know. It's just too far away, Anderson, to know if this is going to hit Miami-Dade. The keys or even make a run at Tampa still. All of the areas here to here are still inside the cone. It's still too far away. The error, as it gets further and further away, the air is farther and farther apart, and almost all of Florida still under the gun.

COOPER: The good news, really for Haiti is not a hurricane, as we thought it might be, at this hour. But again, that rain -- that amount of rain in a small amount of time, we've seen mudslides in Haiti in the past, a lot of problems with flooding, particularly for people in the tent camps.

MYERS: Yes. This is the problem here. It is a very rugged country. We have big mountains between the Dominican Republic and Haiti and mountains all the way through this little arm that stick, out here.

The weather comes up here. It sticks on to these mountains. It's eight, 10,000 feet high. And the water rushes straight downhill into these towns along the shore. It will also run straight down into Port-Au-Prince. Port-Au-Prince is a port town. And literally hills, mountains, all around that town. All that water that falls will eventually drain right into where those people are living on tents.

COOPER: Right. People living on that mountain. And also, a lot of those mountains, even in country side have been -- well, the trees have been chops down, so you've got just mud, nothing to stop the water.

Chad, we're continuing to check in with you throughout the hour and the night as the situation worry. Meantime, Gary Tuchman is in Haiti, in Port-Au-Prince. Gary, last night around this time, a lot of people didn't really know a storm was approaching. What's it like in Port-Au-Prince right now?

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Right now, the initial bands are just starting to come in. Within the last hour, Anderson, we're starting to feel the wind and rain coming down. And we know firsthand that there are tens of thousands of people who will stay in their flimsy tents and shacks tonight.

We're at a camp right outside Port-Au-Prince. There are few thousand people live here. And there are men, women and small children. None of them have left. They're inside their tents right now. And they're going to ride this out.

We're certainly very worried about them because this is muddy ground. Behind us is a large hill with about 300 tents on top of it. And you were just pointing it out, they chopped the trees down on the hills and the mountains around Haiti so there's a very good chance of mudslides with that much rain coming. There's a lot of concern. The fact is, you just can't get the 400,000 people in this country who live in camp sites into the shelters.

They have lots of shelters set up in this country and they're full. But it's just not practical for all these people to end up in the shelters. So, a lot of people are going to riding it out in these camp sites. There's very little preparation here. No clothes, no umbrellas. There's not much food. Children are coming up to us. They're hungry. It's all quite pitiful, to be honest with you.

COOPER: And Gary, at this point, are there shelters for people to go to or you said they're all full?

TUCHMAN: Yes, no, there are hundreds of shelters in the country. We know that because we had a conversation today with the president of Haiti and the prime minister of Haiti and they told us they have hundreds of shelters. Their Philosophy is that they're trying to get as many people as they can into those shelters. Where the center is they want to get children, women and children into shelters. And they want -- this is the president's quote, "we want to get strong men to stay in the camps and help protect people left behind." While there are a lot of strong men here. But I can tell you, there are also a lot of women and children here too.

COOPER: All right, Gary. We'll continue to check in with you.

I want to bring in now Sean Penn who along with so many other dedicated people have done really extraordinary work since the earthquake. His organization, JPHRO, manages one of the country's largest camps for displaced people in Port-Au-Prince. And suddenly displaced Haitians number in the hundreds of thousands still in that country.

Sean, you set up JPHRO in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake. And you've helped thousands Haitians to put their lives back together. There's still more than 400,000 people living in temporary shelters or tents. You were there again recently. The kind of damage a storm like this could do, you have seen the impact of rain, explain the danger.

SEAN PENN, FOUNDER, J/P HAITIAN RELIEF ORGANIZATION: Well, of course, the first dangers are in flood and mudslide. You know, it's very rare particularly in Port-Au-Prince to get a direct hit from the hurricane. We don't think the winds are going to be quite the issue. Though they may be, you know, even a 35-mile-an-hour wind can be devastating in tent camps.

The government and the international organizations have been able to reduce the camp levels from about 1. 8 million to down I think below 400,000. But that still leaves those 400,000 extremely vulnerable.

The other issues are, you know, the potential spread of disease. The access to clean water which is quite -- is actually a bigger issue in the remote regions. So the immediate aftermath is going to be a response all itself whether or not there is the kind of dramatic hurricane damage that we hope doesn't happen.

You'll have roads washed out. And, you know, this is a country, as you do know very well that we've been fighting to get -- there's so many fronts to get things moving forward on. And I think that the capacity of the government is still, you know, needful of an enormous amount of international support, both public and private. And I know that they've been working in the preparedness.

But emergency preparation is something that's never been fully realized in any country that I'm aware of as an integrated aspect of sustainable development or the building of an infrastructure. And in Haiti, being a country of only nine million people, I think with continued support, we can get there and become a model for it.

COOPER: We've been to your camp over the years now several times. Explain for folks what the structures are, the 400,000 people in various camps, are living in. What are the structures like? I mean, some of them are tents. Some of them are temporary structures.

PENN: Yes. Most of the structures within the camps would be a combination of 2x4s or 2x2s holding up a square tent made from tarps. Mostly bottomless with just the dirt underneath. And drainage is a maintenance program to do that.

So what's done within a camp like that is there are days of animations or communications, to the residents, starting with the most vulnerable, and going by the capacity and location of shelters to get to.

Contact numbers. The government, for example, puts out SMS preparations. It's a country that despite its poverty has an enormous access to cell phones. Most people have them. Certainly in the cities. But the tents structures themselves are very flimsy. With every heavy rain, we have tent reconstruction to do. Sometimes in the hundreds.

Our camp, which was originally at approximately 60,000, is down to somewhere between 16,000 and 18,000 people. Still, a lot of people in there. But there's been, you know, once there have been very aggressive moves in the -- to get people out of camps. It's not a simple process. It's a costly process. We're still looking at donors that made pledges that are incomplete.

COOPER: And that's one of the things. I mean, the people have made donations. Countries have made donations have not actually delivered on those donations. I mean, Sean, you must get this question all the time from folks who say, look, they see the pictures of -- and here's some 400,000 people still in camps. And though in your camp, you've been able to reduce those numbers hugely. What is the biggest obstacle to effecting change right now in Haiti? I mean, I know it's a huge question but in a nutshell.

PENN: I can give you the two biggest obstacles in Haiti. One is a land tenure issue. The ability for organizations such as ours or the government's own projects are compromised greatly by the challenges in courts for the ownership of various pieces of land.

The return of people who were renters to properties where the landlords now will not give significant enough assurance that those beneficiaries will be the receivers of newly built structures and so on. So land tenure. The other part of it is the part that would come with the creation of those structures as well as, we would hope with an agriculture sector, which is jobs.

I think that if the two most significant things that need to be focused on, it's those things. With those things, such things as emergency preparedness, to education to health, all of those things would begin to build themselves. The Haitians have a lot of their own initiative. But these basic things, the access to jobs, investment in Haiti and Haiti's own ability to reconstruct and reassign land perhaps is going to be mandatory aspect of any -- of any forward motion.

COOPER: Sean Penn, good to talk to you, as always. Thank you.

As we mentioned, our storm coverage continues throughout the hour and the night. Let us know what you think. We're on Facebook. You can follow me on Twitter @AndersonCooper. I will be tweeting.

Tonight, we are also learning more now about the shooter who opened fire in front of the Empire State Building during the morning rush hour. Police say his target was a former co-worker at a nearby store. That man is dead. So is the gunman. Terrifying scene, it was all caught on video that has just been released -- all that ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Welcome back to our breaking news, the shooting outside New York's Empire State Building.

We have just gotten surveillance video from the police department. Now, it is graphic. We're just going to show you to just a limited amount of times because we think it could speak volumes about why police shot the gunman dead. And also, about how other people were shot as well.

Jeffrey Johnson is the shooter. You can see him at the top of your screen. There he is with the gun. There' you see the two police officers dividing and then he falls to the ground. He just already killed a former co-worker. He was walking away. He pulled the weapon on the officers following him and bystanders scrambled away. And that's when the gunman killed them -- when the police killed him. Now, as we said, all this happened right outside the Empire State Building. It was rush hour. The area was packed with tourists and workers. The video just saw as part of the aftermath. There's other video as well that's too graphic. We're not going to show you. But here's how all of this played out.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER (voice-over): This is the aftermath of a gunman opening fire in one of the most crowded streets in America. Police say they fired at this man, identified as 58-year-old Jeffrey Johnson, after he shot at them. At this point in the video, he still appears to be alive.

Just minutes before Johnson, dressed in a business suit and carrying a briefcase, navigated the crowds around the Empire State Building, found his target and pulled out a . 45 caliber semiautomatic pistol.

RAYMOND KELLY, NEW YORK CITY POLICE COMMISSIONER: At 9:03 this morning in front of 10 West 33rd Street a disgruntled former employee of a company at that address shot and killed a former co-worker, striking him three times.

COOPER: Police say Johnson had been laid off as his job as a woman's accessory designer last year. His victim, 41-year-old Steve Ercolino, was a vice president there. Police say Johnson and Ercolino had a long standing dispute over allegations of harassment and both men had filed prior complaints against one another.

A co-worker of Ercolino's was walking right next to him when they both saw Johnson lurking. She said -- quote -- I saw him pull a gun out from his jacket, and I thought to myself, oh, my God, he's going to shoot him. Steve screamed. Jeff shot him, and I just turned and ran."

KELLY: Jeffrey Johnson then fled with a 45 caliber handgun in a black bag he had under his arm. A construction worker who had followed Johnson from West 33rd Street alerted two uniformed police officers.

COOPER: Chaos erupted as bystanders ran for cover and police pursued Johnson.

KELLY: As the two officers approached Johnson, he pulled his 45 caliber semiautomatic pistol from his bag and fired on the officers who returned fire.

COOPER: Police fired 14 rounds, some of which are believed to have hit eight innocent bystanders.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I heard the gunshot and we looked towards the left and saw three or four people fall. The whole entire crosswalk emptied and people were running.

COOPER: Johnson went down immediately. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I pulled him over on stomach and cuffed him, kicked the gun away.

COOPER: After one man was killed, eight people wounded and hundreds of people ran for their lives, Jeffrey Johnson died in the shadow of the Empire State Building.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Joining us now is Lou Palumbo. He is a former police officer. He is now director of elite group limited, a private security firm. He's on the phone.

So is CNN's Poppy Harlow who's been covering this story from the beginning all day today.

Lou, this video which we're seeing really for the first time, and you are seeing also for the first time. It really does -- the reason we are kind of showing it, it does kind of show the difficulty police face when you have a shooter on the street with people all around and in the back of the shooter it's a very difficult situation to be in for officers.

LOU PALUMBO, FORMER NEW YORK POLICE OFFICER: Yes, most definitely. You know unfortunately, this is the type of scenario where we have what is referred to as an active shooter and there is no other option but to engage that individual. Primarily because he's clearly drawn his weapon already. This 45 semiautomatic caliber pistol. And he's discharging it.

Police have no alternative but to engage him. And subsequently, what we've experienced is what we've also referred to as collateral damage. That's where innocent people not completely aware of or necessarily involved in this activity are injured.

COOPER: In a situation like this, how much information did the officers actually have about what this person has already done? I mean, how much access to information do they have?

PALUMBO: Well, you know, you would hope they have plenty of it. The problem is, the information that they receive, according to what was reported, was there was a construction worker who apparently witnessed this individual, Johnson, shoot his former co-worker. They're working off that. The rest of it is just kind of spontaneous. They begin to approach him. At the same time, you're observing him draw a pistol from his bag clearly with his right hand and begin pointing it and discharging it in the direction of the law enforcement agent. So they unfortunately did not necessarily have all the information they needed. Because if they had, they probably would have come out of the car guns drawn. They were kind of piecing this together as they were going along. And fortunately, they responded to this quite appropriately.

COOPER: I think we've shown that video now so I don't want to keep showing it because it is obviously very graphic and disturbing.

Poppy Harlow is joining us on the phone.

Poppy, what do we -- do we know any more about the man who was shot? The victim in this? And also the shooter, about what their relationship was, what the beef was about?

POPPY HARLOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes.

We know a lot more about the relationship and about the shooter, 58-year-old Jeffrey Johnson, who up till a year ago, Anderson, worked at this Hazan Imports, which makes women's jewelry and apparel.

He was apparently laid off a year ago because of downsizing. And was -- quote -- "disgruntled," according to the NYPD. He worked with this victim, 41-year-old Ercolino and they had this sort of spat, ongoing spat, about workplace harassment, according to the NYPD. And it frankly led them to both issue legal paperwork against one another. So obviously, you know, there was a lot of tension between the two of them and Johnson was there in front of the workplace which just happened to be right next to the Empire State Building. And then shot the victim in his torso and then in the head.

What we do know from Rebecca Fox, the 27-year-old witness that I spoke with early this morning, just about half an hour after this happened. She saw the shooter on the ground, laying on the ground, described him to me as a middle aged Caucasian man, and she said she saw police tried to turn over the suspected shooter, tried to turn him over. And when you do see that amateur video also you showed in your piece, you can see he has shot the shooter and on the ground but he's still very much alive, and his hands moving, and sort of leans over before he's then shot again by police.

So she did witness him on the ground just a few minutes after this occurred. The way she described the scene to me was there was blood all over the sidewalk, coffee cups left and right as it was right next to Starbucks and people running frantically because, frankly, this is one of the busiest commercial intersections in New York. People four million tourists go through every single year.

COOPER: Yes, especially that hour of the morning, 9:00 in the morning.

Poppy, appreciate the reporting, Lou Palumbo as well.

We are going to talk to an eyewitness as our breaking news coverage continues.

We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: A spike in the death toll, as violence rages across Syria -- we will have the latest ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Hey. Welcome back, back to our breaking news. You've already seen the new video of the Empire State Building shooter drawing his weapon on police and police shooting him dead right on one of the busiest streets in New York on Fifth Avenue. We're not going to show it to you again. We've shown it several times. It just seems gratuitous to show it more.

Some other video you saw in the last segment, though, of the gunman and some of the wounded bystanders was taken by a young man named Alex Knott (ph), who's visiting New York, a terrifying scene to witness. He's a tourist who just happened to be there.

I spoke to him earlier.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: So, Alex, you heard the shots. You saw the aftermath. Take us through what happened, what you saw.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I had just come down from the Empire State Building, and just across the street, just sorting out some tour details, and saw a whole load of people running, and they're pointing.

There was a guy wearing a high-vis jacket pointing out another guy in a suit. And he ran towards the Empire State Building entrance.

There's two police on duty there, outside the building. And pretty much just as they'd gone to the entrance, a bus had passed, so the shots were fired. There was about probably, I don't know, it was quite rapid fire. So, I'm guessing around about eight to 10 shots fired.

And I saw people running and screaming. And a few of them fell down in the streets. And I filmed the aftermath about 30 seconds up. I was right across the street. And yes, just pretty horrific scenes. People running away and ducking. And there was people lie on the floor. Other people trying to help. People were taking cover. Then I would moved around into a more prime location to film. And zoomed in on the footage of police standing over the gunman. And seem that right close also to the body who had been shot. He was still moving at that point but, I think he was gone -- he died at the scene. He was...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: So the gunman was still moving initially when you saw him on the ground?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, that's right. There was two police, maybe three by then, running over. So there was two police standing over, over him, guns pointed directly at the guy on the floor, and he was -- he was rolling around. But -- yes, I -- I was -- then I zoomed around to see if anyone else was hurt and I could see other bodies on the floor. Like people who had been hit further up the street, two or three on my camera.

And then, as we walked down, the police cleared the scene. There was another couple of people on -- on -- on the left side. So, yes, that's what I saw.

COOPER: And, Alex, you're just here as a tourist. How do you feel about all this? I mean, how are you doing?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ah, yes, you know, I heard one person say genocide and things like that, this happens globally but we only get shook up when it happens locally.

But when you're right in the -- right in front of something that happens that horrific, it's a bit nerve-racking, yes. Bit shaken. But uninjured. And I really feel for those who -- who have been wounded or families who have been deeply affected by this.

COOPER: Well, I'm glad you were unscathed. And I appreciate you -- you talking to us tonight. Alex Sinap (ph), thank you so much.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you very much.

Alex, who just happened to be there when -- right after it all happened.

Let's check in with CNN's Kyung Lah. She has a "360 Bulletin" -- Kyung.

KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, violence across Syria has claimed at least 206 lives today. That word from opponents of the Assad regime. Fighting between government forces and rebel groups said to be heavy in the capital city Damascus and in the city of Aleppo.

An American diplomatic vehicle was attacked by Mexican federal police outside Mexico City today. Two U.S. embassy employees and a Mexican marine were wounded. Mexican police officers are being questioned to find out why they opened fire on the American vehicle.

And late today, a federal jury in California found Samsung guilty of willful violation of some of Apple's patents and recommended that Samsung pay Apple more than $1 billion in damages.

And the "Sesame Street" puppeteer who was the voice of the character Count von Count, the friendly vampire, well, he has died. His name was Jerry Nelson. He was 78 years old. In a statement, the cast and crew of "Sesame Street" said he was a member of their family for more than 40 years.

COOPER: That's really sad to hear. That's incredible.

LAH: Yes, familiar face to our -- many of us who grew up watching him.

COOPER: Yes. I know, I've been on "Sesame Street." It's very sad.

Kyung, appreciate that.

A lot of buzz around Mitt Romney today and what he said today about his birth certificate. Was it a birther joke? Was it aimed at President Obama? He says it wasn't. Now, we're going to play it for you. You can decide for yourself, along with Mr. Romney's explanation.

New polling, as well, on the presidential race and, notably, abortion, a lot happening in the run-up to the convention. Our political panel joins us next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: "Raw Politics" now. We got late word today that Ann Romney will be speaking on Tuesday at the Republican National Convention in Tampa. Originally, she was scheduled, as you know, to speak on Monday, on opening night, which broadcast networks decided not to cover.

The big story tonight has to do with her husband, however, trying to explain remarks he made today in Michigan that sounded like a birther joke at President Obama's expense. Now, as you'll hear, he says it's not at all that. First, though, listen to the remarks and decide for yourself.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I love being home in this place where Ann and I were raised, where both of us were born. Ann was born in Henry Ford Hospital. I was born at Harper Hospital. No one's ever asked to see my birth certificate. They know that this is the place that we were born and raised.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Now, the Obama campaign immediately took umbrage, saying that Governor Romney's, quote, "decision to directly enlist himself in the birther movement should give pause to any rational voter across America."

As for Governor Romney, here's what he told CBS News's Scott Pelley.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: ... over in Michigan, and Ann and I were both born in Detroit. And, of course, a little humor always goes a long way. So it was great to be home, to be at the place where Ann and I had grown up. And the crowd loved it and got a good laugh.

SCOTT PELLEY, CBS NEWS: But this was a swipe at the president, and I wonder why you took it.

ROMNEY: No, no. Not a swipe. I said throughout the campaign and before. I said there's no question about where he was born. He was born in the U.S. This was fun about us and coming home. And humor, you know, we got to have a little humor in a campaign, as well.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: He's saying it's humor, has nothing to do with President Obama. A lot to talk about tonight. Not just that. I spoke about it earlier with chief national correspondent John King and chief political analyst Gloria Borger, who's just putting the finishing touches on a new documentary which airs Sunday at 8, "Romney Revealed." It's called "Family, Faith and the Road to Power."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: John, if Romney's comment wasn't deliberate, and he says it wasn't about President Obama at all, how big a mistake was it? And if it was deliberate and about President Obama, which it seems pretty obvious it was, does this kind thing help him or hurt him?

JOHN KING, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, it doesn't help him. Governor Romney told CBS News tonight that it was not meant as a swipe at the president; it was just a joke, he said, because he was back home in his birth state of Michigan.

But look, this race is so close right now that every day is pivotal. If you talk to Romney team, they tell you they have one huge imperative for this week heading into the convention and then in the convention week. To change people's image of Mitt Romney. To make people like him more. Meaning his favorability. To make people think he understands and wants to fight for the middle class. Those are their top priorities.

Now, making a birther joke, or whatever you want to call it, might help with those strong anti-Obama fervent conservatives, but it doesn't help Governor Romney with where he needs to move now most, and that's in the middle, the independents, the undecideds.

COOPER: It didn't seem like -- and I only saw the video briefly, Gloria. There was a lot of laughter in response. It seemed like more kind of cheering in the crowd, which does seem to make it seem like it was hitting on a birther note. You spent a lot of time with Romney recently. What do you make of it?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, what I've learned about Mitt Romney -- and you probably know this -- is that he's a very cautious politician. And the problem is that the more cautious he seems to get, the more mistakes he makes, because he's not loose on the stump. He's very stiff. And he's always self-editing in an odd way.

So when he doesn't, and he kind of makes an off-hand comment, very often it's just not good, not funny, not appropriate. And I think this is a problem he's had.

So the more he does something like this and makes a mistake, like the $10,000 bet to Rick Perry during the debates, the more he self- edits, then he's cautious, then he makes another mistake.

COOPER: Gloria, it's also allowed the Obama campaign now to put out a statement basically saying that Mitt Romney's...

BORGER: Right.

COOPER: ... you know, linking himself to the most extremist elements and a notion that's been discounted. Even though publicly he has said he doesn't believe in the whole birther thing.

John, we had this new CNN horserace poll out today. It's our first poll of likely voters, the people who are most likely to actually show up on election day, as opposed to just registered voters. What do the numbers show you?

KING: The numbers tell us, No. 1, Anderson, there's a bit of an energy gap, intensity gap facing Republicans.

President Obama still has a healthy lead among all registered voters. But let's break it down. If you look at just likely voters, the most likely voters, look at this here.

Choice for president among likely voters: President Obama, 47, Governor Romney -- President Obama, 49, excuse me; Governor Romney, 47. So you have a statistical dead heat heading into the convention. Now, does that matter much? A little bit of history here.

The Obama/McCain race was a dead heat heading into the conventions. We know in the end it wasn't close. George H.W. Bush back in 1992 was actually ahead, Ross Perot and Bill Clinton. George H.W. Bush lost that election -- George H.W. Bush was losing to Michael Dukakis heading into the conventions in 1988. And George H.W. Bush went on to win and win big.

So this doesn't tell you what's going to happen in November, but it does tell you the Republican intensity among likely voters against Governor Romney.

A couple of other quick things, Anderson. In the poll, independent voters, those who define themselves as independents, they will matter hugely in this election. And if you come up here and look now, at the moment, a statistical dead heat among independents. Governor Romney with a slight edge. If you go back in time and look at history, President Obama had about 50 percent with independents. So you see here, that's a slight advantage at the moment for Romney, as opposed to 2008.

One more quick one. Suburban voters are critical in states like Pennsylvania, in Ohio, in many other states, as well. And if you look at the current numbers right now, again, a dead heat. Governor Romney has to boost that number up a little bit. If you go back and look at it in time, this is essentially where we were four years ago. If these numbers stay this close, even though it's a tie in the suburbs, you'd have to say that's an advantage for President Obama.

COOPER: Really interesting is the difference between registered voters and likely voters.

Gloria, we also had these new poll numbers on abortion today that suggested a significant shift, particularly among -- among the young in favor of some abortion rights. It's been, obviously, a tough couple of days for Mitt Romney on an issue he wasn't planning on spending much time on this year.

For the documentary that's airing Sunday, you asked him about his change of mind on this issue. What did he have to say?

BORGER: Well, his answer was when I -- that he's always been personally opposed to abortion. And when he was the governor, he says he was confronted with a piece of legislation on stem-cell research that, in his view, would have destroyed embryos and, therefore, he couldn't sign it.

Now, that's a rationale that you may choose to believe or not believe. Clearly, lots Democrats are willing to say -- we have them in our documentary, saying that they believe it was politically motivated, that he knew he could never run for the presidency in the Republican Party being any kind of a pro-choice candidate. So he switched.

He also made the point to me, why don't you complain about President Obama, who was against gay marriage and now he's for gay marriage? So we're all allowed to have our shifts of position on social issues.

But I might say, Anderson, this is what's caused the skepticism. Not only among Democrats and those women who are pro-choice but also among Republicans, and we saw this throughout the primary process, because they're not quite sure about Mitt Romney. Not only on the issue of abortion but also on the issue of health-care reform, which he also passed when he was governor of Massachusetts.

COOPER: Yes. Interesting stuff. And look forward to that documentary on Sunday. Gloria, thanks. John King, as well. Thank you all.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: And just a quick reminder: Gloria's documentary is Sunday, "Romney Revealed: Family, Faith and the Road to Power." Sunday, 8 p.m. Eastern time, right after the special convention preview at 7 Eastern.

Up next, we're going to get a late update on Tropical Storm Isaac, now targeting Haiti.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Our other breaking news tonight, Tropical Storm Isaac bearing down on Haiti. Gary Tuchman is in Port-au-Prince -- Gary.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, still at the beginning of a very long night here in Port-au-Prince. We're standing right now in a tent city as the outer bands of this tropical storm come into this tent city. It was established shortly after the earthquake in January of 2010, the earthquake that killed 300,000 people here in Haiti, that led to now 400,000 people still remaining in tents and shanties all over the Port-au-Prince area. This is one of them. Thousands of people live here in these tents. When we talked to you earlier in the evening, Anderson, there were people standing around having a good time, very relaxed. They seemed to still be relaxed when they went to bed.

But right now they're all buttoned down inside their tents, inside their houses, hoping for the best. Now, you may be wondering why didn't they go to shelters? Indeed, there are hundreds of shelters that are set up here in Haiti, and they're all full.

And most of the people who ended up in the shelters are the people who had the TVs and the Internet service, who knew that that was a good thing to do. In this case, a lot of these people didn't have any communications. Other people decided they just wanted to stay and ride it out -- Anderson.

COOPER: We'll continue to follow closely. Let's hope the storm misses them.

Let's check back in with CNN's Kyung Lah, "360 News & Business Bulletin."

LAH: Well, Anderson, the man who killed 77 people in a bombing and shooting attack in Norway in July of 2011 has been sentenced to 21 years in prison. A court judged Anders Behring Breivik to be sane.

Back home, notes left behind by movie director Tony Scott did not reveal any reason why he apparently took his own life. That's the word from a Los Angeles County coroner's spokesman. Scott, who directed "Top Gun," jumped from a bridge in San Pedro, California, on Sunday.

A federal appeals court has tossed out a plan to make tobacco companies put graphic images on their products depicting the dangers of smoking. The appeals court says the law would violate free speech protections.

And it's a new look for a fresco that was painted more than a century ago inside a Spanish church. An elderly parishioner apparently took it upon herself to attempt an amateur restoration of the painting of Jesus. That's the before on the left. Her handiwork is on the right. She says the priest knew what she was doing -- Anderson.

COOPER: Kyung, thanks.

Seven-time Tour de France winner and cancer survivor Lance Armstrong says he will no longer fight to clear his name on doping charges. The question is why, next.

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COOPER: Tonight, two of Lance Armstrong's biggest sponsors, Nike and Anheuser-Busch, are sticking by the superstar cyclist and cancer survivor. The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency said today it is stripping Armstrong of his seven Tour de France titles. Also barred him from competing in sports, subject to its doping rules.

All this came just hours after Armstrong announced he's giving up his battle to clear his name. He maintains he's never used performance-enhancing drugs. So the question is why, then, has he given up the fight?

Bill Strickland, editor at large at "Bicycle" magazine, has followed Armstrong's career from the beginning. He's also author of "Tour de Lance: The Extraordinary Story of Lance Armstrong's Fight to Reclaim the Tour de France." He's traveled with him since 1992 when he started covering him. We spoke earlier.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: What do you make of Lance Armstrong's decision?

BILL STRICKLAND, EDITOR AT LARGE, "BICYCLE" MAGAZINE: Well, I think it was his best option. He -- I think he knew that -- whether he agrees with it or not, I think he knew the evidence and the testimony that he would face in the arbitration process was just overwhelming.

COOPER: Testimony from people who had been on his team who had doped along with him?

STRICKLAND: Team members and presumably other people connected to the team. And we -- you know, there's a lot of speculation about who it was. But through my own reporting, and it's been reported elsewhere, there were definitely teammates.

COOPER: And you think that testimony would have been pretty devastating?

STRICKLAND: It would have been. There's -- you know, some of the names are no surprise: Floyd Landis, Taylor Hamilton. And they have had some troubles with their integrity, because they've lied about their doping initially.

But some of those people who gave testimony had either thus far never been implicated in doping and were also trusted members of his team, unlike -- they weren't -- they were never sort of thrown off his team.

COOPER: You -- you've spent a lot of time with Lance Armstrong, going back I think to '92 is when you first really started to kind of hang out with him. And you've been, I mean, kind of in different spots on the spectrum of believing he was doping, believing he was innocent. You came to believe, though, that he was doping.

STRICKLAND: Right. You know, through -- along through the long time I knew him, like I think everyone who looked at some of the innuendo and rumors which now turn out to be evidence. You know, I went back and forth for a long time.

Last year, I had an interaction with someone from that era, you know, a character who played a role in this... COOPER: You can't say who it was?

STRICKLAND: It was off the record.

COOPER: Right.

STRICKLAND: I can't say who. But it convinced me personally without a doubt.

I always felt he deserved at least a doubt. Just cause he was such a -- you know, such a figure of hope for so many people and such a great athlete. Even when I -- seemed to be certain that he doped, I always wanted to extend that doubt to him. And that changed for me last week (ph).

COOPER: You have no doubt that he did dope?

STRICKLAND: No doubt.

COOPER: But one of the things that he has said all along is, "Look, I passed some 500 tests." I think the numbers vary. But -- but that's, you know, I've heard him say that. How do you account for that?

STRICKLAND: That's an impressive number, whether it's, you know, 100 or 300 or 500. It's -- he had a lot of tests. And he got through those tests.

You know, what we've learned is that, as anti-doping caught up, the cyclists got smarter, and they learned how to avoid the tests using smaller doses of EPO, which is the blood-boosting drug.

COOPER: So they would use a smaller amount more regularly, than -- than just one large amount at a time?

STRICKLAND: Right. And they learned how to cycle it. They would also use blood -- their own blood in conjunction with EPO. There were all -- all sorts of ways to kind of sneak through the markers that the tests set up.

COOPER: If -- I mean, I guess what I can't wrap my mind around is, if he is innocent, why would he then take this step and say, "Well, look, well, the system is unfair"? I mean, it does seem to kind of indicate a level of guilt, that he doesn't feel -- I mean, is the system unfair? Is -- he says, you know, the trial would be completely unfair.

STRICKLAND: Right. I mean, the system certainly could be seen as unfair. You know, you saw it as his win rate is incredibly high. It's not -- it's not the same as our criminal and our civil courts. You know, it's a little different. It's a little harder for the athletes to win. If you believe Lance, it's certainly easy to see the system as unfair.

COOPER: So what happens now? I mean, he -- does he return the jerseys? Does -- is there a blank space by, you know, in the record books? Because some of the other people, the other people who came in second in some of these races also doped.

STRICKLAND: Right. It gets really interesting from here. It's going to be knotty. The -- everyone who finished second behind him has either been convicted of doping or admitted or very strongly implicated.

COOPER: Everyone?

STRICKLAND: Everyone. All of the seven -- the seven podiums.

COOPER: What do you think happens to him now, though? Does -- does his charity get affected? Does -- does it change anything for him?

STRICKLAND: Well, I mean, it's fascinating, you know. Is he going to become Shoeless Joe, who's sort of become this beloved figure; this, you know, beloved banned figure? Or is he going to become, you know, sort of maybe Marion Jones or Barry Bonds, who are sort of looked at, you know, with less heart? We don't know. You know? Time is going to tell.

COOPER: It's a remarkable tale. Bill Strickland, appreciate you being on. Thank you.

STRICKLAND: Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Hey, I'm sorry. We ran out of the time for "The RidicuList." That does it for us. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts now.