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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
The Politics of YouTube; Republicans Divided?; Tennessee Senate Race Heats Up
Aired October 23, 2006 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone.
Armor in the streets, choppers in the air, and troops going house to house, trying to find a soldier missing somewhere in Iraq.
There's that tonight, and this:
ANNOUNCER: Deadlier days for troops in Baghdad.
And Republicans back home.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And none of us like war. And we have made some mistake in Iraq.
ANNOUNCER: GOP candidates running away from their party and president on Iraq.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I approve this message, even though I know it may not be what you want to hear.
ANNOUNCER: He's already got the toughest job in the world. Now he's got another, keeping his party and the conservative movement from tearing itself apart just two weeks before Election Day.
And a real clip job.
SEN. GEORGE ALLEN (R), VIRGINIA: This fellow here, over here, with the yellow shirt, macaca, or whatever his name was, he's with my opponent. And he's following us around everywhere.
ANNOUNCER: The YouTube revolution. It wasn't even around the last election. Now it's changing the way we campaign one clip and millions of clicks at a time.
ANNOUNCER: Across the country and around the world, this is ANDERSON COOPER 360.
Sitting in tonight for Anderson, and reporting from the CNN studios in New York, here's John King.
KING: People hold many different opinions about the war in Iraq, but there's only one set of facts. Today, American deaths in Iraq hit 2,800, 2,800 service men and women, along with seven military contractors, 12 killed over the weekend, at least 87 so far this month, the deadliest so far all year.
And, as we speak tonight, there's a massive search going on for a soldier who vanished earlier today.
CNN's John Roberts is embedded with the unit that was first on that search, and he's with us now, a CNN exclusive, via broadband, just north of Baghdad -- John.
JOHN ROBERTS, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, John. Good evening to you.
A couple of things we can tell you about this missing American soldier -- the soldier is an Iraqi-American who was working with the U.S. Army as a translator, was a member, by the way, of the U.S. Army.
There are other details that we have about this person, obviously, because we were there on the ground as the search was under way. We know the name. We know the situation that got the American forces into that area. We know some other details as well.
But, to preserve operational security, and perhaps protect this person's life, we have been talking with the Pentagon. We have also been talking with the public affairs office here at Camp Taji and the multinational forces. And we're going withhold those details for the moment. But we do have those details.
Let me give you the ticktock, a little walk-through of how this all went down. We were out on patrol with the 177 Stryker Brigade, the 117 Infantry Battalion from Fort Wainwright in Alaska. It was about 5:30 this afternoon. We had just come from a car bombing at a major marketplace in an area of Baghdad.
We were just going on another what was supposed to be routine patrol, when the 911 call came through that an American soldier had gone missing. It was believed at that point that the American soldier had been kidnapped.
We were dispatched to an area, a neighborhood of Baghdad, where it's believed this American soldier may be. The American forces dismounted from the Stryker units that they have been using to patrol the areas of Baghdad that they have been designated to in their area of operations, and started working a house-to-house search, looking for this person.
One house that they came upon, the gates were locked. It was a -- an abandoned home. But, of course, they -- an abandoned home is only that because the family that owns it isn't there. These American soldiers believe that there may have been reason that this person was inside.
So, they -- they opened up the gates by using a bolt cutter to get the lock off. And then they had to shoot the locks out of the front door with a shotgun. It took six or seven blasts from that shotgun to get the door open. They conducted a room-to-room search of that house, but found nothing.
They went on through the neighborhood, found themselves in an area where al-Furat TV is housed. This is the television station that is owned by the -- or at least affiliate with the Supreme Council For the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, which is the party that holds the majority of seats in the Shia area of the Iraqi parliament.
They got into a little bit of a dispute with the security forces there. They just wanted to make sure that they weren't outgunned, because there were a lot more security forces than there were American soldiers. So, they got together all of these security forces. They collected up all of the weapons, and they found themselves with quite an arsenal at their feet, about 100 weapons, including some heavy machine guns.
While they had the security forces cordoned off, they went through al-Furat television station, just conducting a very professional search. They didn't break anything. They just looked room to room for this American soldier, came out with nothing.
That created a little bit of a diplomatic incident that eventually was resolved when the national security adviser for Iraq, Mowaffak al-Rubaie, came in. Things were smoothed over, though. And the American forces departed, went back to Camp Taji.
But, John King, tonight, at this point, which is early morning now in Iraq, they have an area of Baghdad cordoned off. The search will continue with daybreak -- John.
KING: And John Roberts, exclusively for us, tracking that search -- John, we will check back with you if there are any developments -- John Roberts in -- just north of Baghdad.
John, thank you very much.
And it's stories like this that are the stuff of ulcers for any White House. But, for the current administration, the bloody toll in Iraq is especially troubling.
With the midterm elections now barely two weeks ago, opposition to the war is deepening. In a new CNN poll by Opinion Research Corporation, two-thirds of respondents oppose the war in Iraq. Only one in five now believes the United States is winning, the lowest percentage since the war began. And the vast majority, 60 percent, believe no one is winning. More than half of those polled now support a timetable for pulling U.S. troops out of Iraq.
Numbers like that are forcing the White House to change the way it talks about Iraq. Translation: Timetable is a tricky word in an election year. But so is the slogan staying the course.
Here's CNN's Suzanne Malveaux.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A stunning about-face from the White House today -- the administration announcing it's throwing out its Iraq war rallying cry.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We must stay the course.
We stay the course.
We will stay the course.
MALVEAUX: No more of that from Mr. Bush, his spokesman said. That message wasn't working.
TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: It allowed critics to say, well, here's an administration that's just embarked upon a policy, not looking at what the situation is, when, in fact, it's just the opposite.
MALVEAUX: It turns out, as the president explains:
BUSH: Stay the course is -- is about a quarter right. Stay the course means keep doing what you're doing. My attitude is, don't do what you're doing, if it's not working. Change.
MALVEAUX: Change is exactly what Democrats and now some prominent Republicans have been calling for, as midterm elections approach.
October is now the deadliest month for U.S. troops in nearly two years. And about 100 Iraqis are killed each day. The Bush administration is under tremendous political pressure to change course.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "LATE EDITION WITH WOLF BLITZER")
SEN. ARLEN SPECTER (R), PENNSYLVANIA: I don't believe that a shift in tactics ought to wait until after the election. There are too many casualties there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MALVEAUX: Over the weekend, the president huddled with his top generals at the White House to strategize about what to do next. The plan is to push the Iraqis to take over their own security as quickly as possible.
DAN BARTLETT, COUNSELOR TO PRESIDENT BUSH: It is appropriate to have benchmarks and milestones.
MALVEAUX: But Democrats say the administration's proposal is the height of hypocrisy.
SEN. JOSEPH BIDEN (D), DELAWARE: We set out benchmarks. We tried to get them to accept benchmarks a year-and-a-half ago, and the president called it cutting and running. Now the president is calling for benchmarks.
MALVEAUX (on camera): But White House officials say those benchmarks are not for withdrawing U.S. troops, which they believe would be catastrophic to Iraq's future. But the truth is, the distinction is largely semantic.
(voice-over): President Bush has said, repeatedly, as soon as the Iraqis can protect themselves, U.S. troops will be able to come home.
NORMAN ORNSTEIN, AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE: It's a non- denial denial. It's clear that they're sending a signal that they're changing the course now, not staying the course.
MALVEAUX: While the White House says it has abandoned that stay- the-course message, its strategy remains the same.
SNOW: Are there dramatic shifts in policy? The answer is no.
MALVEAUX: And some critics say, that's exactly the problem.
FRED KAGAN, AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE: Because this is the same strategy that's produced so much failure so far.
MALVEAUX: And the strategy has resulted in falling poll numbers, both for the president and those in Congress who supported him. They face voters in two weeks, voters who say Iraq is their number-one issue.
Suzanne Malveaux, CNN, the White House.
KING: For American generals and their troops on the ground, the U.S. strategy in Iraq is measured in bullets and bombs, not words.
CNN's Michael Ware joins me now from Baghdad.
Michael, you're there on the ground. This is the deadliest month of the year. Do you see any evidence that the strategy is changing, or is it likely to only get worse, in your view?
MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's too early for the strategy -- strategy to show signs of change at this point, John.
I mean, it's like turning a ship in, you know, full -- full steam. It takes quite a while to turn a beast like this. I mean -- but it's clear that change is needed. I mean, all the institutions that have been built, all of the security apparatus that has been put together are under enormous strain.
They're heaving. And many of them are coming apart at the seams. The U.S. has invested all its political capital in essentially a toothless tiger. And that's the prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki. So, drastic change is certainly in the winds -- John.
KING: Michael, you mentioned all that political capital. The United States has also invested tens of billions of dollars, and has reshuffled, several occasions, its training regimen, promising it would finally get right the training of the Iraqi military, the training of Iraqi police.
Do you see any evidence that that is changing? And what must the Iraqis do to simply be better at what they have to do, protecting themselves?
WARE: Well, John, the Iraqi security forces are a great case in point.
I mean, the U.S. sent -- set benchmarks or targets of the number of trained Iraqis in the army, in the police, and in the national police commandos, somewhere just over 300,000-odd. We are within a few thousand of that number, trained, equipped police and army. Yet, look at the state of the country.
These security forces are so deeply penetrated by the insurgents. Some of them are effectively owned by the militias. Very few of them are actually capable. And even fewer are able to work in tandem with U.S. forces. And absolutely none can operate on their own, without the embrace of the U.S. forces, providing logistical support, helicopters, communications, and all sorts of things -- John.
KING: Michael, that's quite a sober, if not pessimistic, assessment.
And, yet, you hear all the talk from Washington now, the new talk from the White House, about milestones and benchmarks for the Iraqi government to improve its handling of the security situation, to get its people up and ready faster. Are they up to that task? And what happens if they don't meet those benchmarks?
WARE: Oh, there's absolutely no way that the current government is up to any task the U.S. may wish to set it, nor the Iraqi security forces.
We saw what has happened in numerous areas, most recently in the southern province of Maysan. When British troops withdrew from that provincial capital, that left that city owned by two rival Shia militias factions, both of whom, according to U.S. military intelligence, has contacts with Iran, is supplied, funded and trained by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.
After the withdrawal of these forces, the Iraqi security forces were to supposed assume the mantle of responsibility. Yet, we have seen it erupt in fierce clashes, with police stations attacked and overwhelmed and all manner of chaos. There's now a curfew in place, with British troops poised to sweep in, if necessary. If that's the future, it's a bleak one -- John.
KING: Bleak indeed.
Michael Ware for us, live in Baghdad tonight, on the significant challenges still ahead -- Michael, thank you very much.
More on the politics of Iraq up next -- no WMD ever found, but it's sure turning radioactive in the election campaigns back home. We will hear from "TIME" magazine columnist Joe Klein. Later: the politics of YouTube -- chances are, something you will see there will change the way you vote. How did that happen?
Also: Madonna -- when it comes to African adoptions, she's no Angelina Jolie -- the latest snag when 360 continues.
KING: It turns out Tip O'Neill right when he said all politics is local, even when it comes to foreign wars. Whether it's Iraq now or Vietnam back in his day, local pressure almost always drives policy, especially in election years.
As you saw a moment ago, that kind of pressure not to lose control of Congress may be leading President Bush to change course in Iraq, or at least change the message.
I talked about it a bit earlier tonight with Joe Klein, "TIME" magazine columnist and recent author of "Politics Lost."
KING: Joe, I want to start with a point that Suzanne Malveaux makes in her pieces -- the White House suddenly saying: We're not for stay the course. We're for a strategy that is adaptive to what's going on. The president has used the term stay the course over and over and over again.
What do you make of this?
JOE KLEIN, COLUMNIST, "TIME": Well, it's two weeks before the election, and smacks of desperation.
The problem is that they haven't found a new course to -- to -- to go to, and they're stuck with the -- you know, the strategy that they have been using in -- in -- in Iraq, which hasn't been working.
KING: You noted two weeks before the election.
We have a new poll out tonight. Twenty percent -- two in 10 Americans think the United States is winning in Iraq. Sixty percent, six in 10, say neither side is winning. Three-and-a-half years, $400 billion later, 2,800 U.S. servicemen killed in this war, and two in 10 Americans think the United States is winning. That's the political problem I assume you are talking about.
What is your sense? What are Republicans telling the White House right now?
KLEIN: The Rep -- well, everybody is scared. I mean, the Republicans are more on the defensive than I have seen them at any time since the campaign you and I covered together in 1992.
KLEIN: And they're looking for answers. But there are no answers. I have spent the last three years asking people in our government, in the military, in the diplomatic corps, and in other governments, how do we get from here to there? How do we find some security in -- in Iraq?
And nobody has any answers. And now the situation is -- is even worse than it was before. You have pretty close to an all-out civil war going on, not only between Sunnis and Shiites in the north, but between Shiites and Shiites in the south. It really -- the situation really is disintegrating there.
KING: I want to talk more about your assessment of over there, but stay here for a minute, in terms of the political debate and...
KING: ... campaign going on in this country.
You just spent a little time on the road with the president, who, obviously, is trying to make the case for his war and his strategy going into an election year.
How did you find it?
KLEIN: Well, I think it's -- it's kind of dispiriting.
I mean, the president is in his full body armor at this point.
KLEIN: You know, he's -- he's trying to make the case for his war. He's trying to argue stay the course, even if he doesn't use those words anymore. But...
KING: But, yet, many Republicans are openly challenging him.
KLEIN: That's right. That's right, for the -- and -- and -- and for the first time.
But the interesting thing is that, as you listen to politicians in the Republican Party -- and even in the Democratic Party -- nobody has any answers. And, so, the Democrats are getting away -- you know, the old political adage, you can't beat something with nothing?
KLEIN: The Democrats are beating something, a bad Iraq war policy, with absolutely no policy of their own.
KING: And you're in touch with military commanders over there and military officials here in the United States. As the president promises to adjust, as the administration says it will put more pressure on the Maliki government to do a better job of getting the Iraqis ready to pick up the security, pick up fight, something we have heard consistently from the administration during the previous administrations in Iraq, what are the generals telling you?
KLEIN: Well, we have -- we have a couple of problems here.
One is that the Army -- our own Army isn't in agreement on what the strategy should be. Some people say that we should throw a lot more troops into -- into Baghdad itself. But that would result in a lot more casualties. And there are other generals, like General Casey, who have been saying that we shouldn't do that.
Now, we're about to come to a point in a couple of months where the leadership of the Army in Iraq is going to change. And maybe the policy will change then. But it's going to take a really concerted effort on the part of the Bush administration, on the part of the president himself, to involve himself in the details, and to make some really serious decisions about what we do at this point.
KING: "TIME" magazine's Joe Klein -- Joe, thank you very much.
KING: It's by no means certain that Democrat will win control of Congress next month. But there are dozens of seats that are vulnerable.
Here's the "Raw Data." According to CNN's latest analysis, in the House, there are now 29 seats most at risk of changing parties, all of them -- all of them -- held by Republicans. In the Senate, there are eight seats most at risk. Seven are held by Republicans. One is a Democratic seat. And there are 11 gubernatorial races that could put a new party in power. Seven of those governorships are now held by Republicans, four by Democrats.
And coming up: a closer look at what some are now calling a conservative crack-up -- Republicans turning against each other, pointing fingers over who lost the elections. The thing is, the elections haven't happened yet. So, is it really as bad as they think? That's next.
So is this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: I think that it's a true sign of desperation that you would pull your bus up when I'm having a press conference.
REP. HAROLD FORD (D-TN), TENNESSEE SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: No, sir. I'm -- I can never find you anywhere in the state.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: A real old-fashioned political grudge match -- smashmouth campaigning. We will take you to the battlefield in a race that could decide who controls the Senate -- next.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: One candidate crashes the other's campaign rally -- allegations of ties to pornography, personal attacks, a real Senate smackdown -- 360 next.
KING: Politics, it's not just about power. It's also about the perks. Lawmaker on Capitol Hill are paid to work for you. But, sometimes, it seems all they really want is a couple extra days off.
Listen to what Senator Trent Lott had to say on the subject.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TRENT LOTT (R), MISSISSIPPI: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. They would just -- oh, please, let me get out of here on Thursday night. I would rather stay until midnight on Thursday, so I can catch the 7:30 flight out. Or, please, don't have votes after about 7:30, so, I can catch that.
And some of them would get pretty aggressive about it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: And that's just the beginning.
In the next hour, the best political team in television investigates America's broken government, with a look first at the do- nothing Congress. That's at 11:00 p.m. Eastern, only right here on CNN.
No matter where you live, there's one political race that could impact your life. It's unfolding in Tennessee, where two men are seeking the seat being vacated by Republican Senator Bill Frist. The contest could be historic. For now, though, it is bitter, personal, and it reveals just how much is at stake for both parties.
CNN's Candy Crowley reports.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): You don't need polls to tell you when a race is close. In Memphis, a parking lot will do.
BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: It's a true sign of desperation that you would pull your bus up when I'm having a press conference.
REP. HAROLD FORD (D-TN), TENNESSEE SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: No, sir. I'm -- I can never find you anywhere in the state.
CORKER: Oh, I have been -- I have been -- I was in Jackson last night. I saw... CROWLEY: Welcome to the Tennessee Senate smackdown -- screen left, Democrat Harold Ford, who tried to crash a press conference held by, screen right, Republican Bob Corker.
CORKER: As a matter of fact, this is my press conference, not yours.
FORD: I -- I would love to hear you talk about Iraq, though.
CROWLEY: They don't like each other much, but, mostly, they are radiating the heat of a pivotal race. There are no last words, just the next ones.
FORD: What kind of a man attacks another man's family, in the face of a campaign? I will tell you the kind of man. His name is Bob Corker.
CORKER: I have never said a negative word about his family. He came in, in -- in almost a juvenile fashion, and crashed a press conference on Friday. It's been called the Memphis meltdown. And he just got through saying a load of non-truth.
CROWLEY: This is nastier than most, because it is not just about winning this race. It is about who will control the U.S. Senate. Republicans are trying to build a firewall to hold on to their majority status.
If you weed out four Republican seats that look ready to fall, there are three must-wins for Republicans: Virginia, Missouri, and Tennessee. Money is pouring into this state like a Niagara Falls of the South, some of it in ads, including this beaut.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, AD)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I met Harold at the Playboy party.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would love to pay higher marriage taxes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Canada can take care of North Korea. They are not busy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, he took money from porn movie producers. I mean, who hasn't?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CROWLEY: Even in this brawl, that's rough.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, AD)
NARRATOR: The Republican National Committee is responsible for the content of this advertising.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Harold, call me. (END VIDEO CLIP)
FORD: And I think my opponent has gotten very nervous and skittish. And this isn't the first ad that has been in the gutter.
CROWLEY: Not that Ford hasn't thrown some punches on the air, but even Corker says his party's ad is over the top.
CORKER: We think the ad is tacky. We think it's not senatorial. We think it has no place in this race.
CROWLEY: The ad is still playing. Did we mention this race is close?
Candy Crowley, CNN, Washington.
KING: And from a close race to the battle lines on the Internet -- it's politics in the digital age. YouTube and the 2006 election -- old tactics meet the new media. We will show you how the Internet is changing all the rules.
Plus: Madonna and child in jeopardy. A new twist could hurt her adoption plans -- ahead on 360.
KING: As the midterm elections get closer, the campaigns are getting -- you guessed it -- nastier.
They're also going digital. With the explosion of video-sharing sites, politicians are popping up across the Internet, often unscripted, but hardly by accident.
CNN's Gary Tuchman has more.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Conrad Burns is campaigning fiercely to try to keep his U.S. Senate seat.
SEN. CONRAD BURNS (R), MONTANA: I know how contagious it can be whenever -- whenever everybody gets together.
TUCHMAN: And when the Montana Republican hits the trail, he is shadowed by this man with a video camera. A man who comes faithfully to Conrad Burns' events, but who does in the come with good intentions.
KEVIN O'BRIEN, TESTER CAMPAIGN EMPLOYEE: I definitely want John Tester as next senator for Montana.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think we should talk about taxes a little bit. TUCHMAN: John Tester is the Democratic challenger. Kevin O'Brien keeps his camera on Conrad Burns, hoping the three-term incumbent says something wrong or embarrassing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'll call Hugo. I'll call you back, Hugo.
TUCHMAN: So he can put it for the world to see on the immensely popular video sharing web site YouTube. This campaign event took place in Tulsa, Montana.
BURNS: OK, that's you go. Hugo is a nice little mountain man who's doing some painting for me in Virginia.
TUCHMAN: Terrorism was a topic at this picnic in Mile City.
BURNS: To fight this enemy that's a taxicab driver in the daytime but a killer at night.
TUCHMAN: And more of the same two days later in Butte.
BURNS: Where our kids can go to bed at night and not worry about the guy that drives a taxicab in the daytime and kills at night.
TUCHMAN: Campaign operatives are taking advantage of this new technology to try to politically harm their candidate's rivals, as Virginia Senator George Allen learned.
SEN. GEORGE ALLEN (R), VIRGINIA: The guy over here in the yellow shirt, Macaca or whatever his name is, he's with my opponent. He's following us around everywhere.
TUCHMAN: To some, the word Macaca is racially insensitive. Allen issued an apology.
Kevin O'Brien is paid by the Tester campaign. He says he's put nearly 17,000 miles on his car in less than half a year following Conrad Burns.
O'BRIEN: Sometimes I'm stunned and, you know, have to go back to the videos to make sure that my eyes and my ears weren't tricking me.
TUCHMAN: His eyes weren't tricking him when Conrad Burns started nodding off in agriculture hearing held in Montana. This clip, with music dubbed in, has been downloaded more than 90,000 times, according to YouTube. But is this below the belt politics?
John Tester doesn't think so.
TESTER: A lot of people fall asleep. I'm sure you fall asleep before.
TUCHMAN: Is that a little unfair?
TESTER: That meeting was about meat policy. Montana's No. 1 industry is agriculture. I wouldn't be falling asleep when we're talking about a policy that's important to our economy. TUCHMAN: Not surprisingly, Burns campaign workers don't enjoy seeing their candidate ridiculed.
BURNS: It looks like a big lunch.
TUCHMAN: But at this campaign event at the senior center, the senator and the renegade cameraman take some time to say hi to each other.
BURNS: I'm hungry, dear. I'm hungry. I get over here and there's calories and cholesterol.
TUCHMAN: Senator Burns, it seems, likes O'Brien.
BURNS: We love him. He's really a nice guy. And we have to feed him at our picnics and our dinners because I don't think the Democrats are paying very much.
TUCHMAN (on camera): In the last congressional election in 2004, YouTube did not exist so this is new territory for politicians like Conrad Burns, whose opinions about it may be shaped by whether they win or lose.
Gary Tuchman, CNN, Boazman, Montana.
KING: And with YouTube and the Internet there's no telling just how far or how low some political operatives will go. The question is, will it pay off in votes?
For more now on the new media and new politics and old dirty tricks, I'm joined by former presidential adviser David Gergen and in Chicago, Andrew Sullivan, blogger, columnist and author of the new book, "The Conservative Soul: How We Lost It and How to Get it Back".
Andrew, let me begin with you. You track this new media stuff quite well. Is this a sideshow? Is it interesting and fun? Or does it actually move votes?
ANDREW SULLIVAN, AUTHOR, "THE CONSERVATIVE SOUL": Well, as a blogger it's like crack to me and my readers. Obviously, you love this stuff. I mean, this is what you live for. And we're all human, and we all fall asleep. And we all do things we're embarrassed by.
The trouble is now you have people on the Internet with their cameras. And it can get to anybody immediately. And if you want to do dirty tricks, in the old days you'd have to put fliers on people's cars or spread messages in a difficult way, in ways that you can be found out.
Now you can send these videos out there like viruses. And you can keep your hands off them, and they can do real damage, especially when the technology is new like this. So people haven't become accustomed to it. KING: New technology, David Gergen, but not a new tactic. Late in the campaign, the closer to the election, tends to get more nasty, tends to get more personal. Some are saying this is the nastiest ever. Is that fair or do we always just say that?
DAVID GERGEN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISOR: We say it at every campaign and every time it's true. They do get nastier over time.
What strikes me about the Internet, I remember a conversation with Steve Casey, who founded AOL in back 1998. He said, you know, in the year 2000 the Internet is going to be to the presidential campaign as television was to John Kennedy in 1960. It's going to determine the winner. That was too premature, but that prediction is about coming true now.
The Internet is, I think, going to become much more determinative in a close race of the outcome by 2008. Maybe in a few races this time. But it's really changing our politics, how you communicate. We went from radio to television and now the Internet as a way to persuade.
KING: Andrew Sullivan, has the campaigns figured that out as effectively as you think they should. David's point is that the Internet is more and more important. And lot of this stuff, though is -- some of it is posted by people who work for campaigns. Others just posted by interesting parties, activists, if you will.
Campaigns are using it to fund raise more. Are they using it to communicate more effectively?
SULLIVAN: No, all of the above. And the thing is, you can't control this stuff. It's just beyond anybody's single reach. So that it's real democracy in action.
Remember, also, the Foley affair, which was really about the Internet. It was instant messages that proved this.
So when you saw that such a thing, an Internet thing, could change the dynamics of a campaign, everybody realized they can use this. And in a close race, in a dirty race, you're going to use every tool you have available.
KING: David Gergen, Andrew talked about a close race, a dirty race. Candy Crowley just had a piece with the ad being run by Harold Ford by the National Republican Senatorial Committee, shows a woman made out to be new, saying, "Hey, Harold, remember me from the Playboy party." That's pretty nasty, pretty personal. I assume it's because of the stakes. If he wins that seat, odds are the Democrats win the Senate.
GERGEN: It is because of the stakes. She was right. It's down to three perhaps: Missouri, Tennessee and Virginia.
I also think that if the Democrats do win the Senate that means they're going to win in Virginia and it's going to be that Macaca comment by Senator Allen that could cost him that seat. You know, that's when he started his nose dive in the polls. He's now in a very, very tight race.
So it's -- what I think has been striking in this is that the team that's behind is the one that's resorting to the nastiness. But that's always happened, you know. We've seen this in the past. Now Republicans are running some nasty ads.
Democrats in the past -- remember, you know, Democrats have run some very nasty ads in their own time. So it's not limited to one party. But most of it's now coming from the Republicans.
SULLIVAN: And you don't have to pay for this sometimes, David.
GERGEN: Yes. That's interesting.
SULLIVAN: You can pay for the original. You can then disown it, and then it can have a life of its own on the Internet.
GERGEN: That's exactly right.
SULLIVAN: You can withdraw an ad and it still continues. You just have to make it. There was a campaign about an ad which was never aired, which they managed to leak, and they put it on YouTube. So when the candidate said, "I endorse this message," then it went out anyway. So they've lost complete control.
GERGEN: That's right. And it's also true, I think because the Internet has no standards of what goes on, what does not go on, that it's made it easier to put on some really tough stuff on television. They sort of lowered the bar, in effect, of what's acceptable, because what goes out on the Internet is a lot of sewage sometimes.
KING: Sewage is right. Gentlemen, I want to ask you both to stick around. Much more to talk about.
For the Republicans to win the battle for Congress, they may have to stop battling themselves. The in-fight that could rip the GOP apart. That's coming up.
Also ahead, they spend more time with scandals than solving problems. That's the rap, at least. CNN election special, "Broken Government", takes an unflinching look at our do nothing Congress. That's tonight at 11 p.m. Eastern.
KING: Will Rogers once said, "I belong to no organized party. I'm Democrat."
Disorganized, except perhaps when it comes to organizing those circular firing squads. Democrats, you'll remember, once shot themselves to pieces over Vietnam. Affirmative action, hippies, law and order, you name it.
Now Republicans seem to be copying the act. You know it's bad when leading conservatives start writing articles for leading liberal magazines saying it might not be so bad to get hammered this November. But is it all really that bad? Here's CNN's Joe Johns.
JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For years, marketers have come here to Ohio to test new products. Politicians, pollsters and pundits also come here to take the pulse of the nation. And what they've learned as Halloween looms is that these are very scary times for Republicans.
Bob Ney, an Ohio Republican congressman, just pleaded guilty to corruption charges. Another GOP representative, Debra Price, who once counted disgraced Congressman Mark Foley as a friend is now in trouble, largely because of that friendship.
GOP Senator Mike Dewine is having an especially tough time. The national party has turned its attention elsewhere, to races it considered more competitive. And there's the governor here, Republican Bob Taft. He pleaded no contest to misdemeanor ethics violations. It adds up to something akin to a house of horrors for conservatives.
DAVE ZANOTTI, CEO, AMERICAN POLICY ROUNDTABLE: We're embarrassed about what's happened in the Taft administration. And they're stumbling over it. They don't see anything happening on the nationalistic ticket to sort of cleanse that out and purge that out and move forward.
JOHNS (on camera): Call it the fear factor. Scandal plus the war in Iraq and the administration's handling of it is scaring Republicans to the point that they fear losing control of the House or the Senate. So much so that there's already finger pointing.
(voice-over) Former House majority leader, Dick Armey, is even questioning what once seemed sacred.
DICK ARMEY, FORMER HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER: The religious right has pushed our party very hard in recent years to use the power of big government in a more expansive way to start dictating the terms of morality and righteous behavior in the country.
It is antithetical to the history of our party that we use the power of the government to impose standards of conduct on the individual.
JOHNS: Former Republican Congressman Bob Barr, a darling of the right back in the day, sees a failure of leadership.
BOB BARR, FORMER REPUBLICAN CONGRESSMAN: And the concern that the Republicans seem to have and what they are sort of portraying to the country is a party that cares more about simply staying in office than doing the right thing, the exciting thing for the conservative base that brought them power in the first place.
JOHNS: Still, some Republicans are hoping for a Halloween trick.
CHARLES BLACK, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: By rallying our voters to turn out here during the last two weeks of the election, we can win majority control of both houses.
JOHNS: Maybe, or maybe that's false optimism when polls show Democrats, especially in House races, seemingly pulling ahead.
What's clearest right now is that, despite all the obstacles, Republicans still have a tremendous ability to get out their vote. Here in Ohio, for example, while the Democrat, Sherrod Brown, enjoys a big lead in the polls, Republican organizers say they've been working on overdrive to get Republican voters to turn out.
And they're more confident than ever that we'll succeed. So at the epicenter of political pulse taking, Republicans in Ohio believe in their ability to organize the right voters to get you on election day, but they also worry about the defections of so many spooked conservatives, a scary moment in this election season.
Joe Johns, CNN, Columbus, Ohio.
KING: That's a great shot to end the piece with.
Blogger and author Andrew Sullivan joins us once again. He's author of "The Conservative Soul: How We Lost It, How to Get It Back". He's in Chicago, no doubt signing books. I hope he's avoiding the Halloween displays.
Also staying up late with us here in New York, former presidential advisor, David Gergen.
David, let's start on that point. Republican tensions, Republican sulking, call it what you will. Not what you need when you're in a midterm election and the biggest question is can you turn out your people?
GERGEN: Absolutely. The great thing about the Republican conservative coalition is that it's one of the most powerful movements we've seen in American politics in the last 200 years.
But the danger is when you get a big coalition you have internal tensions. You have contradictions within the coalition. You've got social conservatives who believe the government really ought to be governing X, Y, Z in terms of your personal life.
You've got libertarians saying, "No, no, no. Keep the government out of our bedroom and everything else."
In this election, you've got a lot of social conservatives who are very upset over the scandals and they feel they're very offended by -- they offend their values. You've got a lot of fiscal conservatives in the Republican Party who are deeply offended by the spending that's gone on, and the big deficits have been piled up by the Republican Congress.
And you've got a lot of neocons that helped to lead the party into a war in Iraq that has really alienated and scared a lot of the mainstream. You know, they used to be called the country club Republicans.
So that coalition is cracking up. Now, whether they can bring it back together -- they're under pressure now. It's going to be a big, big task for the Republicans after the election. Are they going to -- are they going to go at each other's throats after this election about who lost the election, if they do? Or is it going to be OK, how do we rebuild? That's going to be one of the big questions for the president.
KING: Andrew, jump in. And on that point, where David left off, the president. We watched Bill Clinton go through this with the Democratic Party. I'm going to reform welfare. I'm going to balance the budget. A lot of members, a lot of factions in his coalition didn't like that, but the president sort of took them kicking and dragging. President Clinton did.
Has President Bush failed to lead this coalition? Is that one of the reasons it's splintering?
SULLIVAN: Yes. I mean, I'm going out here making the message as a conservative that I'm sick and tired of this Republican administration, Republican Congress.
And what's really amazed me is how the anger out there is not from liberals. It's from conservatives. They are very, very angry on a variety of issues that David points out.
We have a -- we have a Congress that has increased spending faster than any Democratic Congress since FDR, and conservatives are mad.
We have -- we have an administration that said the war is all important and we're succeeding and we're winning. And now they're suddenly telling people they're not? This thing is falling apart?
People -- people realize. They can watch TV. They can read the news. They realize this is not conservativism. And they're going to stay home or they may even vote Democrat.
KING: He said stay home or vote Democrat. David Gergen, the Republicans will spend the next two weeks saying, "You might be mad at us, but Speaker Pelosi would raise your taxes." They ignore the fact that there's a Republican president.
She can't really do that, because that would be their message. They will raise your taxes. They will be weak in the war on terror. As mad as you are at us, it will get worse. Will that work?
GERGEN: I'm not clear it's going to work. There are -- listen, Andrew is a prime example. I mean, he's angry enough right now that he's -- he's not going to be scared. He wants to send a message.
And a lot of the Republicans who are in disagreement right now do want to send a message. They believe it will be good for the party in the long run. Good for the conservative movement if you're faithful to the principles and say the people who violate them need to, in fact, suffer some.
And so I think they -- conservatives have been in the wilderness long enough. They can understand what it's like. I think they're willing to pay the price. And Andrew is a good example of that.
KING: Andrew, are conservatives different from liberal in that respect? Are they willing to lose, to win, if you will, in the long run?
SULLIVAN: Yes. Some of us actually have principles, rather than desire to keep power. Among those principles is limited government, balanced budgets and a prudent foreign policy. That's what made me a conservative, and these people don't represent that. In fact, they represent the opposite of that.
And I feel a lot of anger out there about this. This is not a conservative Congress.
And I'll give you one example. Reagan vetoed a transportation bill with 150 earmarks. Bush just signed one with 6,000 pork barrel projects in it. Conservatives don't like that. They're mad as hell.
KING: I need to call time-out there. But gentlemen, we hope you'll come back. Two weeks to go. And obviously, quite a bit to talk about. Andrew Sullivan in Chicago, David Gergen right here with us. Thank you both very much, gentlemen.
And next, it's the adoption everyone's talking about. Madonna takes a child from Africa, but now he may be going back, if the biological father has his way. That's coming up.
And later, we're live in Iraq for an update for a search for a missing U.S. soldier.
KING: Later this week, Madonna will tell Oprah Winfrey about her decision to adopt a 13-month-old boy from Africa. Then she may have to tell her story again, this time to a court.
CNN's Jeff Koinange reports.
JEFF KOINANGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): An ugly twist to an already messy adoption. Yohane Banda, the illiterate biological father of a tiny toddler Madonna wants to adopt, says he didn't realize when he signed the adoption papers his son would, in his own words, be going away forever.
YOHANE BANDA, BIOLOGICAL FATHER OF DAVID BANDA (through translator): When we agreed with Madonna that she wants to take care of the child, there wasn't any arrangement that she was going to have him, David, as her own and forever. No. It was supposed to be just like when he was at the orphanage. That he will be raised and educated and thereafter, he would come back to our family. KOINANGE: This marks a 180-degree turn to what he said barely a week ago, when he declared himself only too happy for his 1-year-old son to be taken from a local orphanage to be raised by one of the world's most famous celebrities.
Madonna had insisted little baby David would be able to travel to Malawi and visit his family as often as possible and that way maintain his roots.
But this latest outburst by the child's only parent throws a spanner (ph) in the works of what was already a controversial adoption to begin with, adding to the arguments against international adoptions, especially those by celebrities.
MAZWELL MATWERE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, EYE OF THE CHILD: We have a law which is very prohibitive in terms of intracountry adoption.
KOINANGE: It's also sure to discourage potential parents from seeking adoptions in Africa.
Here at the Mbuyomuno orphanage in Malawi, however, Madonna still has a few followers and not just fans.
NDASOWA MAINJA, MBUYOMUNO ORPHANAGE: We support Madonna. We want her to come again, and we support her. She should get that child, educate him. That child will be our ambassador one day.
KOINANGE: Until that day and for the foreseeable future, little baby Banda will unknowingly continue to generate global headlines, even before he's able to take his first steps.
(on camera) The high court in Malawi's capital will begin hearing arguments Friday by a group of 67 human rights groups which are arguing Malawi's laws forbidding international adoptions, even those by celebrities.
Jeff Koinange, CNN, Johannesburg.
KING: And straight ahead, what's wrong with the federal government? Corruption, out of control lobbying. Representatives who don't do what you would like them to do or do it so well it will land us all in the poor house one day.
"Broken Government" CNN report at the top of the hour. But first, more of 360: the hunt for a missing soldier. Exclusive details from the only correspondent embedded with the searchers in Iraq.
KING: Want to go back now to a major developing story out of Iraq, the hunt for a missing American soldier.
CNN's John Roberts is embedded with the unit that was first on the search for this soldier. He's with us again, a CNN exclusive, via broadband just north of Baghdad -- John.
JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening to you there in New York.
And it's morning here. Dawn is just breaking in Iraq at Camp Taji (ph), about ten miles north of Baghdad. We're going to get picked up by the 177 striker brigade in just a few minutes. Go back and continue to search for this missing American soldier.
We hope to have some video for you at the top of the program. We finally got that in now. So let's share that with you. A little tape of what happened as this went down. It was about 5:30 this afternoon.
Brigade we were with, battalion we were with got the call. You head them firing some warning shots as they were going through a neighborhood, stopping this car that didn't want to stop. Going through this neighborhood that they had intelligence that this -- this soldier might be in.
An Iraqi-American, a member of the U.S. Army, was detailed perhaps to the U.S. embassy as an interpreter. We're withholding the name right now, but we do know it. They're going through a house to house search in this one neighborhood of Qarati (ph). You can see them blowing open the locks to a door there. This house was abandoned but they thought that it might be a place where one of the militias might be hiding this fellow.
So they went up the stairs, a room-to-room search. Nothing there. The search took them further into the neighborhood, all the way into the area that houses Al Farata (ph) TV. This is a television station that's associated with the Shiite party that's got the largest number of seats, the Iraqi parliament they went in. They methodically searched it, checked all the rooms to make sure that this missing soldier wasn't inside.
They came up with an amazing cache of arms. They searched the security men who were there, making sure that they weren't outgunned. They came out with this amazing cache of armed and actually sparked off a little bit of a diplomatic incident on Farata (ph) TV, claiming that the American soldiers shouldn't have been there. They finally all got worked out. There were a few ruffled feathers, John.
And this American soldier still missing. The search is going to continue here at daybreak about Kataji (ph) -- John.
KING: John Roberts for us exclusively on the search just north of Baghdad. John, thank you very much.
And for the latest on this missing soldier in Iraq tomorrow on "AMERICAN MORNING". That and more starting at 6 a.m. Eastern right here on CNN.
I'm John King. Thanks for watching. Tonight, the CNN special "Broken Government: The Do Nothing Congress" starts now.
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