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War in Iraq Caught on Tape; Bush, Kerry Tied in Polls

Aired October 11, 2004 - 19:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, HOST: Good evening from Santa Fe, New Mexico. I'm Anderson Cooper.
Life and death caught on tape. The reality of war in black and white.

360 starts now.

Fighting in Iraq like you have never seen it before. Caught on tape, an American F-16 attacking Iraqis. But is there more to this tape than meets the eye?

Bush and Kerry's new war of words, sharp attacked and counterattacks. But do new poll numbers give either man the edge?

Christopher Reeve's fight is over. The actor turned activist has died. Tonight, we celebrate his life and his heroic struggle to overcome the odds.

Scott Peterson's letters from jail. What they reveal about his life behind bars and what he told his family about Laci and their child.

And Kobe Bryant's document dump. Hundreds of pages of case files revealing lines he said and she said.

ANNOUNCER: Live from Santa Fe, New Mexico, this is a special edition of ANDERSON COOPER 360.

COOPER: Hello and welcome to Santa Fe, New Mexico, a beautiful town, a nice crowd here. Lot of people very excited about politics tonight. Twenty-two days until the election, and it's here in this battleground state, with just five electoral votes, where the next president may very well be decided.

Both candidates were in this state today as the already nasty war of words between the Bush and Kerry camps got even uglier. And with the polls showing the race a virtual tie, much is at stake in this Wednesday's third and final debate.

We'll get to all of that in a moment.

But first, we begin in Iraq. We are about to show you something you have probably never seen before. It is video taken from the cockpit of an American F-16 flying over the insurgent-held streets of Fallujah. The video is not bloody, the images are shot from far away, but we want to warn you, what you will see is people and a bomb, and what happens when they collide. According to the Pentagon, insurgents were the target.

CNN's senior Pentagon correspondent Jamie McIntyre reports.


JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SENIOR PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Saturday, April 10, capped a bloody week in Fallujah. Hundreds of Iraqis were killed by U.S. Marines, who were still pushing into the insurgent stronghold, even as members of Iraq's governing council were negotiating a cease-fire.

U.S. Air Force F-16s dropped more bombs in support of the Marine offensive that Saturday than on any day that week.

A cockpit video of one such engagement, never officially released, has circulated on the Internet for months. CNN has confirmed it's authentic. The 53-second clip provides a rare look at how the U.S. uses what it calls precision air strikes in urban areas to support ground operations.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I got numerous individuals on the road. You want me to take those out?


MCINTYRE: According to a U.S. military account, the order to "Take them out" is from a forward air controller, on the ground with the Marines, whose job is to confirm the targets are hostile before calling in the bombs.

The original target was said to be a nearby building, where Marines had been trading fire with the insurgents before they allegedly fled into the street.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ten seconds. Roger.

MCINTYRE: The U.S. says the ground controller could see the situation before he cleared the pilot to drop a 500-pound bomb.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Impact. Ho-ho, dude.

MCINTYRE: Experts who have reviewed the tape at CNN's request say whether the strike was legitimate hinges entirely on whether the controller was right.

JIM CARAFANO, MILITARY LAW EXPERT: And the challenge there is for the guy who has his eye on the target, it's his responsibility to identify the target to the aircraft.

LT. GEN. ROBERT GARD (RET.), U.S. ARMY, MILITARY ANALYST: My first reaction to it was, I wondered where the air controller was and whether he could identify that as a group of insurgents, or whether he was somewhere remote from that area and didn't know for sure. MCINTYRE: In an interview with Channel 4 television in the U.K., a doctor who says he was at the hospital in Fallujah in April claimed the dead were innocent civilians. At the time, fierce fighting across Fallujah was filling the local hospital with numerous casualties, including women and children.

And some wonder whether it's logical for insurgents to move in a large group that would make them vulnerable to air strikes.

GARD: The only questionable thing is whether or not well- disciplined and competent insurgents would pour out of a building onto a wide street without any cover. On the other hand, we do know that there are a number of insurgents who are poorly trained, who out of anger or frustration have taken up arms, and it's quite possible that they were insurgents.


MCINTYRE: Even the most precise air strike can result in unintentional civilian casualties, but the U.S. military insists that this strike was carried out by the book and closely followed rules that are designed to minimize the risk to innocent lives, Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Jamie McIntyre, thanks very much.

If you agree with most of the pundits, Wednesday's night's third and final debate will be the tiebreaker, the first one, by general consensus having gone to Senator Kerry, and the second mostly being accounted either as a draw or at least not as much of a loss for the president as the first debate was.

So in some ways, it's back to square one. And where do the voters stand? Well, let's take a look. Here are some numbers from the latest CNN-"USA Today"-Gallup poll, released just today. Among likely voters, Senator Kerry now has a 49-48 lead. This category was a tie a week ago, and the week before that, had Mr. Bush ahead by 8 points. All right, some partisans in the crowd here.

And these numbers being released exclusively here asked who they thought would better handle the issue of Iraq. Fifty-one percent said Mr. Bush, 56 percent said they thought that he'd handle terrorism better, though results too show a rise over the last two weeks for the senator and a decline for the president.

More numbers. There was erosion too on the question of whether the war in Iraq was worth it. Only 44 percent of those asked now say yes, 54 who say no, it wasn't. Two weeks ago, 51 percent thought the war had been worth it, and 46 percent thought the opposite.

With us tonight to report on the two campaigns are Candy Crowley on Kerry-Edwards' side, and John King, with whom we begin tonight in the Bush-Cheney camp. John?

JOHN KING, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, the focus of Wednesday's night's is domestic issues. That was to be the president's dominant focus in his campaigning until he gets to Tempe, but that changed when Mr. Bush took a look at the Sunday papers.


KING: Out west and on the attack, using his opponent's own words to draw a sharp contrast on terrorism.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Just this weekend, Senator Kerry talked of reducing terrorism to, quote, "nuisance," end quote, and compared it to prostitution and illegal gambling. See, I couldn't disagree more.

DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is all part of a pre-9/11 mindset...

KING: Back East, an echo from the vice president and the man who was New York City police commissioner when the Twin Towers fell.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A nuisance didn't kill the 23 people that worked for me, the 37 Port Authority cops, the 343 firefighters, the 2,400 civilians in the towers. A nuisance didn't do that.

KING: Kerry aides say Republicans are taking this "New York Times" magazine interview out of context, but the Bush camp used the nuisance quote as a late campaign gift and rushed to seize on it.

BUSH: Our goal is not to reduce terror to some acceptable level of nuisance. Our goal is to defeat terror by staying on the offensive, destroying terrorist networks.

KING: Mr. Bush carried Colorado comfortably four years ago, but is in a tight race this time. And Senator Kerry isn't the only challenge on the ballot. Colorado voters are being asked to back an initiative that would award the state's electoral votes proportionally based on the popular vote instead of the current winner-take-all formula. Had such a system been in place four years ago, Al Gore would have won three of Colorado's electoral votes and the White House.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The people love this, because they think their vote should count. And this is to them -- it's one person, one vote. And they do not understand why we do not have that in the presidential election.


KING: Although it is somewhat smaller now, the president in the polls still maintains answer an edge over Senator Kerry on the issue of terrorism. That is why his campaign rushed to seize on what it views as this nuisance gaffe, the Bush campaign banking that in the final three weeks, those still making up their mind on a candidate for president will put security issues first, Anderson.

COOPER: Yes, I think we're going to hear that "nuisance" word an awful lot. All right, John King, thanks for that.

We like to get all sides tonight. To get the view from the senator's perspective now and a look at what he and his aides are doing to prepare for tomorrow night, we turn to CNN's Candy Crowley.


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): John Kerry decided not to get into the nuance of his nuisance remark about terrorists, but his campaign did trot out a nuance-free ad.


ANNOUNCER: ... to inspect containers, secure bridges, tunnels, and chemical plants, Bush says we can't afford it. And in the war on terror, Bush said, "I don't think you can win it."

BUSH: I don't, I don't think you can win it.

ANNOUNCER: Not with his failed leadership.


CROWLEY: Kerry's number two also ignored the specifics of the nuisance remark in favor of the unambiguous approach.

SEN. JOHN EDWARDS, DEMOCRATIC VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: To the terrorists, we will find you and kill you wherever you are. And to the American people, we will keep you safe. John Kerry has been absolutely clear about that.

CROWLEY: The candidate himself had other things on his mind.

SEN. JOHN KERRY, DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: And when it comes to developing a real energy policy, George Bush has run out of gas.

CROWLEY: Wooing middle-class votes, Kerry warmed over an old energy speech with the new numbers on the price of oil and everything that stems from it, tantamount, Kerry said, to a tax hike from Mr. Tax Cut.

KERRY: The 30 percent increase in gas prices means a lot more profit for this president's friends in the oil industry, but for most middle-class Americans, the Bush tax increase is a tax increase that they can't afford.

CROWLEY: New CNN poll numbers show the president holds a big lead on terrorism and a healthy one on Iraq, but Kerry strategists say other polls show they are Kerry is making progress in both areas.


COOPER: Candy Crowley joins us now here live in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Was it a mistake for Senator Kerry to use the word "nuisance"?

CROWLEY: You know, it's one of those words that you can always tell in hindsight, you think, you know, terrorism as a nuisance is at this point not something that seems to go together. Now, I will say that the Kerry campaign is putting out a quote from Brent Scowcroft, who was in Dad Bush administration, where he used the term "nuisance" when it applied to terrorism.

But it's, you know, it's one of those things that you could almost instantly see was going to become something.

COOPER: Because what he said in the article, as you pointed out to me earlier, was really very similar to what President Bush said to Matt Lauer on the "Today" show about that the war is not really winnable in the traditional sense.

CROWLEY: Right. I mean, what he -- and that's what's interesting to me, is that when George Bush said, Well, I don't know that we can win the war on terror, the Kerry people were all over that.

And what John Kerry said in this article was basically, you know, we bring it, we need to bring it back down so it's not involving our lives, totally encompassing them, like there is still prostitution, but you can bring it down to the level where it's not invading your life, which is, you know, essentially pretty much what Bush said that they were all over him.

COOPER: All right. Candy Crowley, thanks very much for that.

Well, a quick news note now concerning the owner of the nation's largest chain of television stations. According to "The Washington Post," the Sinclair Broadcast Group has ordered 62 of the stations, a dozen of them in battleground states, to air uninterrupted and in prime time two weeks before the election a film called "Stolen Honor," which accuses John Kerry of having betrayed American prisoners during the Vietnam War.

Now, a media watchdog group has warned Sinclair that its plan may violate regulations requiring equal time for candidates. See what happens.

If you were listening to conservative radio or TV at all today, you heard a great deal about a memo written by ABC's Mark Halperin, he's the political director over at ABC News, on the subject of his organization's attempt to be balanced in its political coverage.

Among other things, the memo said that, quote, "The current Bush," actually it said, "The current Bush attacks on Kerry involve distortions and taking things out of context in a way that goes beyond what Kerry has done." That explanation has struck some as being exactly the opposite of fair, partisan, in other words.

To talk to some about that and also to talk about the debates and the election and the current political climate, one of the country's best, most respected broadcast journalists and New Mexico resident, Sam Donaldson of ABC.

Sam, it's an honor to be speaking with you here in your home state of New Mexico. Great to see you. SAM DONALDSON, ABC NEWS: You bet. Who would have thought that five electoral votes might settle this? But it might.

COOPER: Yes, I know. All of a sudden, this is the epicenter, at least for the next couple days.

First let me, before we talk about politics in general, I got to ask you about this ABC News, this Mark Halperin memo. What do you make it of it? Because it said (UNINTELLIGIBLE) basically, quote, "We have a responsibility to hold both sides accountable to the public interest, but that doesn't mean we reflexively and artificially hold both sides equally accountable when the facts don't warrant it."

What does that mean, and, and is, is, is Mark Halperin right?

DONALDSON: Well, you know, I hope Mark isn't mad at me, but I may be the only political reporter in this country who hasn't read his note. I haven't read what he said, Anderson, and really am not qualified to comment on it. We talk about taking things out of context, I know you haven't done that. But I'd like to see the whole note before I know exactly what it is he said.

COOPER: All right. I'm not sure you'd let someone get away with that answer, Sam, but I'll let you get away with it since we're here in your home state, I don't want to put you on the spot.

What surprises you most about this election so far? I mean, what really stands out compared to the other elections you have covered?

DONALDSON: Well, you know, I think this is 1980, Anderson. I mean, remember the polls, five days before that election, were even, everybody's polls, Mr. Reagan's polls, as well as President Carter's and the public polls. And over that weekend, people just sat down and said, Can we think of a reason really to reelect Jimmy Carter? And the answer was no.

Now, I don't know what they'll say the weekend before this election. They may say, You know, better the devil we know than the devil we don't know, and reelect President Bush. But my hunch is that on that Tuesday, somebody's going to win by a margin that's comfortable. It's not going to go back to Sandra Day O'Connor and Nino.

COOPER: Mark Halperin's memo basically talked about distortions on both sides of the campaigns. Do you think one side, in your opinion, has had more distortions in this election than in past elections?

DONALDSON: Well, I think it's probably about even, although I defer to people who've looked at each one of the attack ads. Remember what happened in August. While John Kerry sort of laid off and went windsurfing, the Swift Boat for Veterans Truth squad had at him, and he didn't respond. It was almost like Mike Dukakis, he didn't fight back.

Anderson, when you're attacked, you have to fight back before breakfast and then punch your opponent in the nose before lunch, and he didn't do that. So you can say in August, it was that side that was really having at the, you know, let's get under his skin.

But the Democrats came back, and they have had a lot of attack ads on President Bush. I'm sure some of them probably distorted the truth, just as some of the Republican ads distorted the truth. That's why we have the fact checkers, and we do the facts -- fact jobs. And I'll say this, not having read Mark's memo, but you know, you tell what the facts are. And then if it turns out that one side is distorting more than the other, there it is on the record.

COOPER: Sam Donaldson, we're going to leave it there tonight. Albuquerque, New Mexico. Sam, appreciate you joining us. Thanks very much. We'll be watching your coverage.

DONALDSON: Always a pleasure...


DONALDSON: ... Anderson. Always a pleasure.

COOPER: All right. You take care.

A belch of steam from Mount St. Helen's. What does that mean? That tops our look at news cross-country tonight.

In Washington state, scientists say the steam cloud was most likely created by melting ice coming in contact with superhot rocks. Otherwise, seismic activity inside the reawakened volcano was fairly quiet today. But those in the know say it's just a matter of time before it erupts. Remarkable images, that.

Aventura, Florida, check this out. A pleasure boat completely consumed by flames. Now, three people were aboard this 55-foot yacht when it caught fire. They got off safely. Investigators say the gas tank helped feed the blaze.

West Memphis, Arkansas, now, high-tech help to investigate a weekend bus crash that killed 14 people. Investigators will use computer models as they search for the cause. They also want to determine if the driver fell asleep. He was killed in the accident.

New York City now, it may be a week before autopsy results reveal what caused the death of Ken Caminiti, a former National League MVP. He died yesterday. He was only 41 years old. His agent believes it was a heart attack. Caminiti battled a drug problem, of course, for the last few years, and he admitted using steroids while playing for San Diego back in 1996, the year he won MVP. A sad loss.

That's a quick look at stories cross-country tonight.

Coming up next on 360, remembering a man of great strength. Through health and disability we look at the admirable life of the late Christopher Reeve.

And in politics, New Mexico's key role in this year's presidential election. We'll talk with Governor Bill Richardson right here in Santa Fe.

And words from a jail cell, what Scott Peterson is writing his friends and family as his defense gets ready to present its case.

All that ahead.

But first, your picks, the most popular stories on right now.


COOPER: And we are live here in Santa Fe, New Mexico. A nice crowd of people here watching us broadcast tonight, getting very excited about politics. Have a lot more about politics ahead of us tonight.

But first, let's talk about Christopher Reeve. It isn't given to many of us ever to be symbols of anything at all. But the actor Christopher Reeve, who died yesterday at the age of 52, became a symbol twice of two very different kinds of strengths.


COOPER: First, we saw this kind of strength, the Hollywood kind, wonderful, impossible, unreal. On screen, Christopher Reeve was the perfect embodiment of the hero without limits, whose later life offscreen was all limits and showed him actually to be a hero.

On the one hand, he was wonderfully lucky. As a barely known young actor in 1978, Christopher Reeve won the coveted role of Superman over 200 other aspirants. Wonderfully lucky, and horribly unlucky. Four Superman films later, by then, invincible in the world's eye, he broke his neck in a fall from a horse during a riding competition.

So began the last nine years of his life. His character's achievements were wide-screen huge, stopping the earth, reversing time. His own achievements were small scale, but, owing nothing to special effects, were much more impressive.

Doctors said he would never breathe on his own or regain any control over his limbs, but he did both and became an outspoken advocate for stem cell research, believing it might help those like him with spinal cord injuries and other paralyzing and disabling conditions.

In every other regard, speed, strength, and vulnerability, Superman had it all over the flesh-and-blood actor who played him. But in one area, bravery, it was the actor who had the character beat. Superman never had to face anything like the difficulties Christopher Reeve faced with such grace and courage.


COOPER: Grace and courage indeed. Christopher Reeve is the topic of today's buzz question. Did Christopher Reeve's medical condition and advocacy make you more supportive of stem cell research? Log onto, cast your vote. We'll have results at the end of the program.

Also, a little bit later on 360, we're going to take a look at Christopher Reeve, his life in his own words, his very public campaign to fight his paralysis and fight for research.

We'll be right back.


COOPER: And we are back live in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where politics is very much on the minds of a lot of folks here on this rainy, cold day in Santa Fe.

Going to talk about politics in a moment with Governor Bill Richardson.

But first, let's talk about Kobe Bryant. His fate no longer rests in the hands of a jury. With the criminal case against him dropped, we'll never know if Bryant would have been convicted or acquitted of rape. But newly released transcripts are painting a much clearer picture of the evidence. A lot of it deals with what he said and what she said.

Here's CNN's national correspondent Gary Tuchman.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): More than 900 pages of once-secret documents in the Kobe Bryant case paint an unpretty picture of an unsavory scenario. But they also prove the Los Angeles Laker basketball player and the hotel concierge who accused him of rape share something in common. Both did not tell the truth in at least some portions of their initial comments to authorities.

The now-20-year-old woman had originally declared Bryant forced her to wash her tear-stained face in an attempt to cover up what happened. But the new documents reveal the accuser wrote this letter to a prosecution investigator less then a month before the trial was scheduled to start, saying, "I was not forced to wash my face. I said what I said because I felt the detective did not believe what had happened to me."

The woman wrote that her main accusations were still accurate.

CRAIG SILVERMAN, COLORADO ATTORNEY: Look, people lie for a reason. Why you would lie about any aspect of a sexual assault is beyond me.

TUCHMAN: Meanwhile, in Bryant's initial interview, he was asked if anything happened in his hotel room. No, said Bryant. The detective said, Did you hug or kiss? Bryant repeated no. After repeated denials, detectives told Bryant they had evidence and issued this partially disingenuous query, "We're not going to tell your wife or anything like that. Did you have sexual intercourse with her?" Bryant then said, "I did have sexual intercourse with her."

A criminal jury will never hear the evidence of these untruths, but a different jury could. The case is still slated for a civil trial.

Gary Tuchman, CNN, Atlanta.


COOPER: Well, tomorrow, the jury in the Scott Peterson murder trial will finally get the chance to hear from the defense. Whether that means they'll hear from Peterson himself is anybody's guess. Most likely not. Since he's been jailed, the accused killer has been silent in the courtroom, but from behind bars, he's been using letters to do an awful lot of talking.

CNN's Ted Rowlands reports.


TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): According to a Peterson family member who provided the letters from jail, Scott Peterson never thought he'd have to wait more than a year and a half to have his chance at freedom. In a letter dated April 27, 2003, Peterson talks of spending time with family, saying, quote, "I want to get together with some margaritas I'll get to soon."

Peterson believed his case could be won without a private attorney. He writes about his parents offering to pay for Mark Geragos, saying, quote, "I don't know if I should accept it, because they will sacrifice their financial future to get a job done that the public defender could probably do."

In the letters, Peterson also talks about life in jail, saying, "The lights never go down. You think it's 2:00 p.m., and it's really 7:00 a.m."

In another letter, Peterson writes, "They just brought dinner. It's a green liquid with, I think, some carrot chunks. I think I'll have to resort to the commissary bag. I've been rationing it like I'm on 'Survivor.' Please vote me off this island."

Peterson also talks of about two victims he is accused of killing, his wife, Laci, and their unborn child, saying, "I find it so difficult to grieve for them in here. I saw the sunrise from the yard, and I cried for my family. I cried for all of us and our loss."

In a letter dated May 5, 2002, Peterson wrote that he woke up to a crashing cell door while he had been dreaming about Laci, saying, "I lay in the bunk dreaming about her, being able to hold her and Conner. As the morning went on, all I could do was lay here in tears."


TUCHMAN: The defense will begin their case tomorrow in Redwood City when court resumes. According to a source close to the defense team, they do not plan on putting Scott Peterson on the stand, Anderson?

COOPER: Yes, it would be surprising if they did. Ted Rowlands, thanks very much from San Francisco.

Bush and Kerry's new war of words, sharp attack and counterattacks. But do new poll numbers give either man the edge?

Christopher Reeve's fight is over. The actor turned activist has died. Tonight, we celebrate his life and his heroic struggles to overcome the odds.


COOPER: In 1995, Christopher Reeve's life was forever changed from a strapping superhero on film to a mere mortal struggling with paralysis. But he fought his valiant fight in the public eye, telling the world about the accident that confined him to a wheelchair, about the triumphs and the small setbacks that defined his new life. And he used his fame to battle hard for the resources that would give hope to so many who shared his dream to one day stand and walk again.


COOPER (voice-over): You could see his determination right from the start. Just four months after the riding accident that left him unable to walk, barely able to move, he made it clear in an interview with Barbara Walters he'd face the fight of his life with the courage of a superhero.

CHRISTOPHER REEVE, ACTOR: It's like a game of cards. And if you think the game is worthwhile, then you just play the hand you're dealt.

COOPER: Christopher Reeve spent hours in rehabilitation, forcing his body to relearn something as simple as taking a step forward.

REEVE: I'm going to get up out of this chair and throw it away and walk.

COOPER: The world followed his every move, his smallest triumphs like the day he discovered he could finally move just one finger.

REEVE: OK. What's happening is that this is normal, I hear you and my brain deciphers what you said because I speak English. And then it goes down the spinal cord all the way to the seventh cervical vertebrae which is way below my injury. Then the message goes out to the peripheral nerve and all the way down to the finger and I get instantaneous reaction. Sorry. That's why we got so excited. See that? That movement was so random and so unexpected we figured anything else is possible.

COOPER: Reeve put a human face on the pain paralysis sufferers live with every day.

REEVE: The skin break down from sitting still for so long, the problems of lack of good circulation because of paralysis. Osteoporosis where you lose bone density. The blood clots, all these things plague people who live with paralysis.

COOPER: Last year when he did his first full interview without the use of a ventilator with CNN's Paula Zahn, he talked of times when he wasn't so strong.

REEVE: When I turned to Dana and I said, I'm probably not worth having, we should probably let me go. And we agreed to wait a couple of years. And that if I still felt the same way, we'd re-evaluate it.

COOPER: His decision to live made him more than an inspiration, when he took his battle to the Senate floor fighting for stem cell research and became a compelling crusader.

REEVE: They call it the body self repair kit and here it is and there's a big fight about using it. That is really hard to take.

COOPER: He was just one man but the way he lived, the way he fought, he became a super hero of sorts and remained one right to the end.

REEVE: If we keep giving our scientists the funding they need to do the research, very soon I will take my family by the hand and I will stand here in front of this star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.


COOPER: Christopher Reeve died yesterday. While he traveled the world as an advocate for stem cell research, it's still a controversial science once that's gotten some notice on the campaign trail of late. In his speech today Senator Kerry paid tribute to Reeve and his fight for embryonic stem cell research which President Bush opposes on moral grounds. But as Adaora Udoji reports when you mix science and ethics on the campaign trail, be careful you don't get burned by raw politics.


ADAORA UDOJI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Christopher Reeve introduced embryonic stem cell research into American living rooms.

REEVE: These cells have the potential for various uses.

UDOJI: Michael J. Fox suffering from Parkinson's Disease is also a believer as is Nancy Reagan, wife of former Republican president, Ronald Reagan, who died after battling Alzheimer's.

Many scientists say embryonic stem cells might lead to cures for disease from diabetes to cancer, but those stem cells are controversial.

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think we could save lives. Now, I think we can do ethically guided embryonic stem cell research.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Embryonic stem cell research requires the destruction of life to create a stem cell.

UDOJI: The president's core religious voters believe life begins at conception. Research supporters argue it begins later, that thousands of embryos are destroyed anyway so stem cells should be harvested for the greater good. In 2001, in what some call a compromise, President Bush began funding adult and to a lesser extent embryonic stem cell research but scientists are limited to existing stem cells. The policy doesn't prevent private companies from researching. They can without federal oversight presenting other issues.

DR. RITA FISCHBACK, COLUMBIA UNIV. MEDICAL CTR.: You're going to have a lot of rogue investigators who can carry forward programs that might be considered unacceptable.

UDOJI: Reeve knew it was complicated.

REEVE: I think the question of whether I will walk is going to depend on politics.

UDOJI: But he brought new understanding to the science that is clashing with raw politics.

Adaora Udoji, CNN, New York.


COOPER: Well, coming up next on 360, we're live from Santa Fe, New Mexico, and we're going to talk politics with the governor. New Mexico governor, a former Democratic convention chairman, Bill Richardson. He'll join me right here, there he is, to discuss strategy in Campaign 2004.

Also tonight, before the ink is dried, the attacks are out, rapid fire campaigning inside the box. We're back in a moment.


COOPER: Well, Quick Draw McGraw is pretty fast, but he maybe no match for the kind of speed you see on the campaign trail these days, as both the Bush and Kerry camps, turn on the afterburners for every new attack were seeing "Inside the Box." Take a look.


COOPER (voice-over): The word news nuisance, used by John Kerry, was buried in an 8,300 word article published in "The New York Times" magazine. It was enough to unleash a lightning fast response. At 3:16 p.m. on Sunday, the Bush camp alerted the media it was releasing this ad.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now Kerry says we have to get back to the place where terrorists are a nuisance, like gambling and prostitution. We're never going to end them. Terrorism, a nuisance?

COOPER: One hour and 38 minutes later, the Kerry camp said that ad was distorted and released an ad of their own.

BUSH: I don't think you can win it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not with his failed leadership. It's time for a new direction.

COOPER: In fact, Bush had made that statement, but he quickly reversed himself. And in this campaign, being quick is what it's all about. Quick to attack, to counterattack, to spin and rebut. And It's Not just with ads. During the debates, an army of volunteers from both camps rush to flood the media with their spin and counter spin. Last Friday in St. Louis, only 19 minutes after John Kerry said this...

KERRY: I have never changed my mind about Iraq.

COOPER: The Bush camp handed to me and hundreds of other journalists watching a list of some past quotes from John Kerry about Iraq. In total, during the 90-minute debate, the Bush camp distributed 11 of what they called breaking the debate facts. The Kerry camp called their handouts, "Bush vs. Reality," after the president said this about Senator Kerry's 20 years in the Senate...

BUSH: You can run, but you can't hide. He voted 98 times to raise taxes. The Kerry camp said that John Kerry had gone on the legislative record over 640 times for lower taxes. As election day approaches, both camps are operating at warp speed, punching and counter-punching "Inside the Box."


COOPER: Well, we can only expect bare knuckle tactics from both sides coming up. Let's go back now to John Kerry's use of the word nuisance, in relation to terrorism in that "New York Times" article on Sunday. The Bush campaign is not going to let that one die easily.

Will it hurt Kerry?

Let's put that question to Bill Richardson, New Mexico's Democratic governor, joins me right here in Santa Fe. Welcome governor, thanks very much being with us.

GOV. BILL RICHARDSON (D), NEW MEXICO: Nice to be with you, Anderson.

COOPER: Lets talk about this nuisance. Senator Kerry said, "We have to get back to the place we were where terrorist are not the focus of our lives, but they're a nuisance." Was that a mistake to say that?

RICHARDSON: I think he could have said it more artfully, but what he was stressing is that the Bush administration has had a near obsession with Iraq to the detriment on the war on terrorism, nuclear proliferation, tribal and ethnic warfare, environmental degradation. You know, but this is the silly stage in the campaign, where you're in the last three weeks. You're trying to capitalize on each other's mistake. It's not going to hurt.

COOPER: You think it's just politics?

RICHARDSON: It's just politics.

COOPER: But isn't his saying this, that we want get to a point where it's just a nuisance, isn't that similar to what President Bush said, when he said, we can't win the war on terror to Matt Lauer.

RICHARDSON: It's almost exactly the same.

COOPER: But the Kerry folks jumped on that saying, yes you can win the war on the terror.

RICHARDSON: Well, you know, it's going to go both ways. But the Republican national security adviser, Brent Scowcroft, two years ago said the same thing. What you want to do is move terrorism to be a nuisance, so that we have other priorities. It's not going to be much. It's a one-day story.

COOPER: But do you think the Democrats and Republicans really believe you can win the war on terror.

RICHARDSON: Believe that Senator Kerry, does. And he has a plan to do it. I don't see how President Bush with is near emphasis on Iraq, on spending 200 billion dollars there, on 90 percent of the war in Iraq, born by the United States by the enormous expenditure, the deployment of our troops. I think what senator Kerry has been saying is that his number one priority, stop weapons of mass destruction around the world, in North Korea, in Iran. And what he is saying is that we're distorting our priorities by an almost total obsession of all our resources in Iraq.

COOPER: Does he think it's a law enforcement problem only?

RICHARDSON: No. I think Senator Kerry feels very strongly that it takes alliances. It takes cooperation among other nations. You cannot defeat terrorism alone the way we have been lone rangers around the world. We need allies, we need Muslim countries, we need the United Nations. We cannot win the war on terrorism alone. And what Senator Kerry is saying is you need coalitions, you need alliances. And President Bush keeps wanting to go it alone by denigrating any kind of international support for any of our foreign policy goals.

COOPER: Let's talk of the great state of New Mexico. A latest CNN/Gallup poll shows President Bush leading Senator Kerry 50-47. What does Kerry need to do here in order to win?

RICHARDSON: Well, I think you see the great enthusiasm of this crowd. Northern New Mexico, large Hispanic/Native American population. We need to get a big turnout out here. Turn out the 43 percent...

COOPER: Your registering a lot of Native Americans here.

RICHARDSON: We're registering close to 10,000 Native Americans. And if they vote, just a small portion, in a very close race it will make a difference. Secondly what we need to do is in a number of areas, stress issues that are important here. The environment, protecting wildlife, protecting the Terra Mesa (ph). This is an issue here, where you have drilling, where President Bush wants to drill at all costs and we want to preserve the land and the culture and the wildlife. Environmental issues, water issues, agriculture and the Hispanic vote. President -- Senator Kerry's very popular among veterans, especially Hispanics veterans. But the key is turnout, getting our base out. Hispanic voters in northern New Mexico, Santa Fe North where we are right here, and also this Native American vote that is almost 85 percent Democratic. But if you get them out to vote, you turn them out. and in the past we haven't been able to do that. I think with the enthusiasm of the Democratic base here, we are going to win New Mexico. We're going to carry it by 1 or 2 percent.

COOPER: Governor Richardson, thanks for joining. Thanks very much.

Now, the Republicans in the last stages of their game plan as we head in the final few weeks leading up to the election day. I'm joined by Marc Racicot, chairman of the President Bush's re-election campaign. He is in the Washington bureau tonight.

Marc, thanks very much for being with us. The Republicans all day long, Marc, have been talking of the nuisance comment. The Democrats are saying that you're taking that statement out of context.

Are you?

RACICOT: Well, no, I think you have to be place it into context, Anderson. When you think of how many different positions Senator Kerry has had on the war from being aggressively in favor of intervention into Iraq, and then being against it, being an anti-War candidate, then saying it was the wrong war at the wrong time at the wrong place. Then of course saying he'd make the same vote and then going on from there to saying you have to pass a global test. That's the context.

And you also, consider the fact that he...

COOPER: Kerry never actually -- Mark, Kerry, never Actually said you have to pass the global test. I mean, that's a little bit of...

RACICOT: He articulated a global test. Well, he articulated a global test, he said you have to prove you're a countrymen and then establish to the international community that you were justified. But move on from there, at the very beginning of the campaign he said that this is mainly a law enforcement responsibility that, when you are fighting the war on terror, it's mainly a law enforcement issue.

And what that means of course is that you wait until such time as there's another devastating impact upon the people of this country before you take action. Then one of his main adviser, Ambassador Holbrooke has said, look this is not really a war on terror, that's a metaphor like a war on poverty. And then Senator Kerry goes on to say in this particular comment, it's like a nuisance. So when you place this in context, it's a reflection of a mind set that is totally and completely different from how the president sees the war on terror.

COOPER: But my understanding of this article and my reading of the article, he said we have to get to a place where the war on terror and where terrorism is a problem just like prostitution, one perhaps that may never be eradicated, but we have to get to a point where it's being minimized. He's not saying it's right now just a nuisance and something not important. And the ad you're running today kind of indicates that, doesn't it?

RACICOT: No, I don't think so. He says 9-11 didn't change me at all. I still see it as a law enforcement operation. I still believe that we have to get to a place where we look at it as a nuisance. That's a reflection on how you prioritize, and a mindset of how you approach your duties as commander in chief.

COOPER: Marc Racicot, we appreciate you joining us today from Washington. Thanks very much, always good to talk to you.

RACICOT: Thank you very much, Anderson.

COOPER: Coming up next on 360, having a little fun with the election. Comedian Andy Borowitz drops by to give us his take on the debate, the campaign, and of course all the candidates.

Also, tonight, mixing things up, forgetting the rules. Let's really take the debates on the road with some new (UNINTELLIGIBLE). You'll see what I mean later in the Nth Degree. We are live from Santa Fe. We'll be right back.


COOPER: And we are live here in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Welcome back. Enthusiastic crowd. You know, it seems to us that it's possible to take the presidential race a little too seriously. I mean, it's important, certainly, but hey, it's not brain surgery. To sort of put things in perspective we turned to Andy Borowitz, author of "The Borowitz Report" for tonight's political current direct from the battleground state of Ohio -- Andy.

ANDY BOROWITZ, HUMORIST, AUTHOR: Thank you, Anderson. Well, the White House is ecstatic about the job that President Bush did in the second presidential debate. Bush strategist Karl Rove gives credit for the president's performance to improved radio transmission to the bulge in the back of the president's jacket.

Well, Senator John Kerry spent much of today on the defensive trying to explain an article that appeared in Sunday's "New York Times" in which he was quoted as saying terror is a nuisance. Senator Kerry said today that he was misquoted and that what he actually said was Teresa is a nuisance.

Well, some more fallout from the vice presidential debate. As you recall Vice President Dick Cheney said at the debate that he had never met Senator John Edwards until that very night. Well, today, Vice President Cheney admitted that in August of last year, the two of them went on a two-week camping trip together. Senator Edwards said that he was very hurt that the vice president didn't remember the trip and I quote, "I guess it meant a little more to me than it did to him."

And finally some election news. From Afghanistan, the first-ever democratic election in Afghanistan has been thrown into turmoil by the 11-hour entry into the race by Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader. Denying that he's playing a spoiler role, Mr. Nader said he just wanted to offer the Afghan people an alternative to President Hamid Karzai and the brutal Afghan warlords. Mr. Nader whose support has stalled at around 2 percent in U.S. polls decided to move his campaign to Afghanistan after polls there showed him getting 3 percent. And that's all I've got, Anderson.

COOPER: All right. That's good, Andy. I'm not sure -- I don't know. 3 percent in Afghanistan? That will have to do. 360 next. Giving the debates a makeover. Forget about university settings let's see how the candidates do in other less-academic surroundings. We'll take that to the Nth Degree. A laundromat perhaps.

Plus, tomorrow, live from L.A., new article on Teresa Heinz Kerry. We'll talk with the author of that. We're on our way to Tempe for Wednesday's debate. A lot ahead. We'll be right back. Stay with us.


COOPER: Time now for the buzz. Earlier we asked you, did Christopher Reeve's medical condition and advocacy make you more supportive of stem cell research? 88 percent of you said yes, 12 percent no. Certainly not scientific but it is your buzz. Thanks for voting.

Tonight, taking the whole Ivory Tower thing to the Nth Degree. We don't want to look a gift horse in the mouth. AC 360 has mightily enjoyed the whole debate business. We like being on the road, but hey, this is America, why not debates elsewhere than in academic communities. For instance, the laundromat, that's a quintessentially American place, excellent site for set to go between the candidates. They could debate politics and the best time to add fabric softener.

Or the bowling alley. What's more red, white, and blue than rented shoes and beer. So many places would be wonderful for debates. America's not a country just of campuses after all. The first three have been a good start, but let's bring the debates out of academia in the future, out from among the ivy-covered walls to maybe the graffiti-covered walls, the real America.

Let the candidates face one another where all the rest of us do, at burger joints on the interstate. I'd like to see that. I'm Anderson Cooper. Thanks for watching 360. Coming up next, PAULA ZAHN NOW.


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