Return to Transcripts main page
ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Winners and Losers in Republican Presidential Debate?; Scooter Libby Sentenced
Aired June 5, 2007 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Now a special edition of 360 devoted mainly to the debate, to the issues uniting Republicans, as well as those issues dividing them, and the man who is running third in the polls, even before he gets in the race, actor Fred Thompson.
We begin tonight with a bombshell of a headline out of Washington: Lewis "Scooter" Libby, former chief of staff to Vice President Cheney, going to prison, a federal judge sentencing him to 30 months, two-and-a-half years, for obstructing the investigation into who leaked the name of CIA officer Valerie Plame.
The judge also imposed a quarter-million-dollar fine. Vice President Cheney says he is deeply saddened. Mr. Libby, who is free pending a hearing on the 14th, was the first sitting White House official to even be indicted since -- since 1875.
Now, tonight, the Republican debate: 10 candidates, two hours, questions from the audience, and a few tough exchanges on the issues dividing Republicans, namely immigration and social issues, and, hanging over it all, the man who was not here, actor and potential candidate Fred Thompson.
All the angles tonight, but we start with CNN's John King and the big picture.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: (AUDIO GAP) different debate. The Republicans, right from the beginning...
COOPER: Obviously having some problem there with John King.
We will try to bring you his audio.
John, do you hear me?
KING: Let's try that again, Anderson. Sorry for the technical glitch.
Can you hear me now?
COOPER: I got you now. Let's go.
KING: All right.
From the start, this debate was very different. Ten Republicans lined up across the stage tonight, two nights after you had Democrats on that stage. Right from the start, they were asked about the Iraq war. And we heard the differences right away.
While the Democrats were saying the president made a mistake to go to war, and it is time to bring the troops home, the Republicans largely supported Mr. Bush's decision, even though they said he had mismanaged the war. They said it was the right thing to go into Iraq and it was the right thing to keep the troops in there now, trying to bring about success in Iraq.
We had been told before the debate to look for fireworks on immigration, especially between former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and Arizona Senator John McCain. McCain, of course, is the sponsor of a big immigration reform bill in Congress.
Many of the Republican candidates disagree with Senator McCain's approach on that. And, while Governor Romney did bring it up, he did it very politely, but, at one point, turning to Senator McCain, and saying: You might be my friend, Senator McCain, but I think your approach on immigration is dead wrong.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This war was very badly mismanaged for a long time. And Americans have made great sacrifices, some of which were unnecessary because of this management of the war -- mismanagement of this conflict.
I believe we have a fine general. I believe we have a strategy which can succeed, so that the sacrifice of your brother would not be in vain, that a whole 20 million or 30 million people would have a chance to live a free life in an open society, and practice their religion, no matter what those differences are.
And I believe, if we fail, it will become a center of terrorism, and we will ask more young Americans to sacrifice, as your brother did.
This is long and hard and tough. But I think we can succeed.
And God bless you.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you, Senator.
BLITZER: Jennifer, go ahead...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: That, of course, was not Governor Romney.
That was Senator John McCain of Arizona in the second half of the debate, perhaps the most poignant moment of this debate, Anderson, when that woman, Erin Flanagan, a New Hampshire voter, stood up and said that her brother had been killed in Iraq. And she asked the candidates, not only what would they do to end the war and bring the troops home, but how could they turn down the tone of the fierce political debate about Iraq here in the United States -- Senator McCain among those getting up at that point, trying to be much more personable and personal than we have seen in some of the debates past in that town-hall setting format, saying that, on the one hand, President Bush had badly mismanaged the war, in his view, but, on the other hand, Senator McCain again saying, for her brother's death and the other deaths not to have been in vain, that they needed to give the plan in Iraq now, the troop surge in Iraq, a chance to succeed.
That was a big difference tonight, Anderson, but it was striking in tone. Many of the Republican candidates did separate themselves more than we have seen in the past from the Republican administration of George W. Bush on the issue of immigration, on the issue of managing the war in Iraq.
And that will be an interesting theme to watch as the discussion and the debate goes forward -- Anderson.
COOPER: Let's bring in CNN's Jeffrey Toobin now, also Arianna Huffington of TheHuffingtonPost.com, and Republican strategist Mike Murphy. He's worked in the past with Governors Romney, as well as Senator McCain.
Mike, Giuliani's theme so far seems to be national security and that America remains...
MIKE MURPHY, REPUBLICAN MEDIA STRATEGIST: Right.
COOPER: ... under attack and vulnerable to attack. Democrats don't understand that. He tried to hammer that home again tonight.
Let's listen to some of what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUDOLPH GIULIANI (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And the problem is that we see Iraq in a vacuum. Iraq should not be seen in a vacuum. Iraq is part of the overall terrorist war against the United States.
The problem the Democrats make is, they're in denial. That's why you hear things like you heard in the debate the other night, that, you know, Iran really isn't dangerous; it's 10 years away from nuclear weapons.
During the debate the other night, the Democrats seemed to be back in the 1990s. They don't -- they don't seem to have gotten beyond the Cold War. Iran is a threat, a nuclear threat, not just because they can deliver a nuclear warhead with missiles. They're a nuclear threat because they are the biggest state sponsor of terrorism, and they can hand nuclear materials to terrorists.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: It did seem like Giuliani and -- and some of the other, you know, top-line contenders are already running a national race.
I think the big three, Romney, Rudy, and McCain, were all running general election baseball here, getting a little bit of, you know, separation on the war, talking about some of the issues, attacking the Democrats a bit.
On the Democratic debate the other night, they were moving to the left to go to their base. And I think the Republicans tonight, the big three, anyway, were moving to exploit that a bit, and reach out more in a general election messaging, which I thought was pretty smart.
COOPER: Jeffrey, though, John McCain is squarely aligned with the administration, at least on Iraq. He's been critical, saying that there have been mistakes.
But, for a guy who, you know, was very outspoken against Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, he's now aligned pretty closely with Bush on the strategy moving forward.
Let's play some of what he said tonight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCAIN: When President Clinton was in power, I didn't say that Bosnia, our intervention there, was President Clinton's war. When we intervened in Kosovo, I didn't say it was President Clinton's war.
MCCAIN: What he doesn't -- what Senator Clinton doesn't understand, that presidents don't lose wars. Political parties don't lose wars. Nations lose wars. And when nations lose, the -- have the consequences of failure.
MCCAIN: We must succeed in this conflict.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Again, like Rudy Giuliani, trying to turn this against the Democrats as much as possible.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Absolutely.
But, if you just changed a few words, a lot of what you heard from McCain, from Giuliani, from Romney was identical to what we have been hearing from President Bush and Vice President Cheney for the past four years, that the war will come home, that this war needs to be fought to victory.
And the public isn't buying it, if you believe the polls. The public is overwhelmingly opposed to this war. So, you know, you are seeing a stark choice in this general election, no matter who wins, unless it's, you know, one of the fringe candidates. This is a -- this -- on the war -- this is an election about the war, and one side's for it, and one side's against it.
COOPER: You agree with that, Arianna? It boils down to the war?
ARIANNA HUFFINGTON, CO-FOUNDER, HUFFINGTONPOST.COM: Yes, absolutely.
And what was interesting was that, of all the top-tier candidates, it was Rudy Giuliani who seemed most like George Bush, most disconnected from reality. He even attacked the media. It was, again, the Laura Bush line.
COOPER: Which, I have got to say, was a huge applause-getter...
HUFFINGTON: I know.
COOPER: ... in this crowd.
HUFFINGTON: It was probably...
TOOBIN: As it always is.
HUFFINGTON: It was probably the biggest applause line, but he attacked the media along the lines that Laura Bush attacked the media, for not reporting good news from Iraq.
And he talked about nation-building, which is amazing, because you haven't even heard the president talk about nation-building anymore -- you know, at most, we talk about bringing democracy to Iraq -- and kind of glossed over the problems of the Iraqi parliament wanting us out, the Iraqis wanting us out, and all those problems we're facing on the ground.
COOPER: We -- the one thing we did learn tonight, though, is that Duncan Hunter seems like just about the only member of the Senate, besides Graham, who actually read that NIE report.
MURPHY: Or Congress.
COOPER: Yes, he's a big military guy. So, there's no report about the military I think Duncan hasn't read.
But I would make a point, though. I think we might be making a mistake in the analysis. We're talking about an election that is 18 months away. And the world and politics and everything changes.
And what might be the static pro-war, anti-war public opinion debate right now is an eon away in the real politics of what the decision will be next October. The world can change in a lot of ways. And a lot of what the campaign is really going to be about is who people are comfortable with to handle crises, to handle problems. And I thought -- I thought you saw McCain selling strength, Rudy selling strength, and Romney selling managerial competence, which could be a very, very big thing in the election.
COOPER: So -- so, you're saying facts on the ground in Iraq...
COOPER: ... may not be as important as we think they are right now?
MURPHY: If the election were held today, it would totally be about the war. But the election is not today.
The primary elections are next January. The general election is a year after that -- nearly -- November. So, we can't...
HUFFINGTON: But, unfortunately, for Republicans...
MURPHY: ... assume everything is the same.
HUFFINGTON: ... the chances are that, obviously, things are not going to be the same. They're going to be worse.
I mean, if past history is anything to go by...
MURPHY: We don't know that.
HUFFINGTON: ... just judging by where we have been a year ago and where we are today, the chances are that, come the New Hampshire primary, things are going to be even worse on the ground. We will have had even more casualties, even more tens of billions of dollars spent, and the public will have turned against the war even more. And what do the Republicans do then?
COOPER: Also, religion played a big role tonight. We heard both from Mike Huckabee, also Mitt Romney defending his faith.
We want to play two bites, first Mike Huckabee talking about his beliefs, his religious beliefs.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE HUCKABEE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: In the beginning, God created the heavens and the Earth. To me, it's pretty simple. A person either believes that God created this process or believes that it was an accident and that it just happened all on its own.
And the basic question was an unfair question, because it simply asked us, in a simplistic manner, whether or not we believed, in my view, whether there is a God or not.
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I believe in God, believe in the Bible, believe Jesus Christ is my savior. I believe that God created man in his image. I believe that the freedoms of man derive from inalienable rights that were given to us by God.
And I also believe that there are some pundits out there that are hoping that I will distance myself from my church, so that that will help me politically. And that's not going to happen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Does this issue still continue to hang over Mitt Romney?
MURPHY: I think it's melting away, and about time.
I mean, we have had tremendous coverage of this when Romney was thinking of running, when he got in, Mormon, Mormon, Mormon, around the clock, Mormon. He has had to answer that question 1,000 times.
And I think Romney are more interested in real-world issues. And I think Romney is doing a really good job of putting that behind him. When I ran -- I ran Romney's campaign for governor. And, when I showed up in Boston before he ran, all the experts there, every cab driver and bartender and everybody else, said, most Catholic, most Democratic state. No way a Mormon Republican from Utah can win here.
And he beat an Irish Democratic Catholic woman. And he beat her big.
TOOBIN: You know, there's -- there's a very interesting way he's tried to defuse the issue. And it's very different from how John Kennedy did it in 1960.
John Kennedy gave a famous speech in Houston, where he said, separation of church and state is a bedrock principle of American life. And, as a Catholic, I will observe the separation of church and state.
Romney isn't saying that, because the Republican Party doesn't believe that anymore. He's saying, my faith will inform me. I -- I am a person of faith, and that's a reason to elect me.
He's blurring the distance -- the difference between Mormonism and the rest of Christianity, not separating religion from the public sphere. And that's just how different politics is today.
COOPER: Has there been any election in American history -- well, not American history -- but at least in recent history, that God has been so talked about in debates? I mean, you had Democrats last night, at a Sojourner event, speaking about their faith. Everybody seems to be very much front and center projecting their faith.
HUFFINGTON: But what incredible difference between last night and tonight. I was thinking how, last night, every reference to God was in relation to policy consequences, like, I believe in God; therefore, I believe I have a responsibility to the poor.
It was very much the social Gospel, the Gospel of social justice. And, tonight, it was all, I believe that God created heaven and Earth. It was very much a sort of storybook line about God and creation.
TOOBIN: I don't think that's entirely fair to Mike Huckabee, in particular.
COOPER: Right. He did speak...
TOOBIN: Mike Huckabee, when he talked about why he was pro-life, I thought, gave a very eloquent statement, that, you know, those of us who are pro-life, people often think of us as caring only about life within the womb. But we care about the poor. We care about the people sleeping under bridges.
And I actually did think he was talking social justice. Whether his policies actually support it is another issue.
HUFFINGTON: But it was rhetoric. It was rhetoric. It was not...
TOOBIN: Well, I mean...
HUFFINGTON: ... therefore, we have to have an increase in the minimum wage, or, therefore, we need universal health care.
You know, last night was very much about specific policy consequences on the minimum wage, on health care, on poverty-fighting.
COOPER: We have got a lot...
TOOBIN: ... minimum wage talk tonight, that's for sure.
COOPER: A lot more to talk about, though, on the war and immigration.
In their last debate, the Republican candidates barely mentioned the current president. I think they talked about Hillary Clinton more than they talked about George Bush. Let's see how they fared tonight in the "Raw Data."
We're calling it the Bush-o-meter. On Sunday, the Democratic candidates said President Bush's name 17 times. Tonight, the GOP hopefuls said his name just seven times over the entire two-hour debate.
We will see how that progresses in the months ahead.
We have got a lot ahead tonight. Join us for our next debate, in fact, the first one where all of you can submit your questions to the candidates via YouTube, through your debate -- our debate partners YouTube and CNN.com. It's going to take place next month in South Carolina.
There's never been a debate like this. The Democratic candidates face off July 23, with Republicans to follow. I'm going to host it, but, basically, it is going to be your questions and your YouTube videos the candidates are going to have to sit through and watch. So, make them creative. And, for God sakes, keep them clean.
Up next, immigration, the battle on the border and the battle in tonight's debate -- when our coverage from New Hampshire continues.
COOPER: So, the candidates went on the record tonight about the issues that matter most to all of us. We are going to deal with them one by one.
We begin now with immigration. There were hard-liners and moderates on the stage, as well as the co-author of the compromise reform bill.
Here's how they stand on illegal immigration. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. TOM TANCREDO (R-CO), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What we're doing here in this immigration battle is testing our willingness to actually hold together as a nation or split apart into a lot of balkanized pieces.
We are testing our willingness to actually hold on to something called the English language, something that is the glue that is supposed to hold us together as a nation. We are becoming a bilingual nation. And that is not good.
GIULIANI: The problem with this immigration plan is, it has no real unifying purpose. It's a typical Washington mess.
BLITZER: Governor Romney, Senator McCain has accused you of flip-flopping on this issue, in effect.
Yesterday, in Miami, he said the following: "Pandering for votes on this issue, while offering no solution to the problem, amounts to doing nothing. And doing nothing is silent amnesty."
What do -- what do you say to -- to Senator McCain? ROMNEY: Well, he's my friend. He campaigned for me two times. And I consider him a friend. I'm not going to make this a matter of personal politics. It's an issue that's way too important for that.
My view is that we should enforce our immigration laws. And this bill, unfortunately, has at least one provision that's a real problem.
MCCAIN: This is a national security issue, first and foremost. Ever since 9/11, it's a national security issue.
This isn't the bill that I would have written, but it does...
BLITZER: All right. Thank you.
MCCAIN: ... it does satisfy our national security challenges, which are severe and intense. And we cannot allow 12 million people...
BLITZER: Thank you.
MCCAIN: ... washing around America illegally, my friends.
GIULIANI: I have read the 400 pages. And this is part of the problem in Washington: They say things and then it's not in the legislation. There are four or five different methods of identification, not one.
It does not provide information about who exited the United States. Now, tell me how you're going to figure out who's in the United States if you can't figure out who's left the United States.
REP. DUNCAN HUNTER (R-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Now, and let me tell you, this is a disastrous bill. And John McCain is right in saying that this is a national security issue. And it is: border enforcement.
Then, the Hunter bill, which was signed by the president on the 26th of October, mandating 854 miles of double fence -- not that scraggly little fence you show on CNN all the time, Wolf, that people get across so easily -- if they get across my fence, we sign them up for the Olympics immediately.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: GOP strategist Mike Murphy is back with us. He will be with us throughout the evening, thank goodness.
Joining us also, Democratic strategist and CNN contributor Paul Begala, conservative strategist and speechwriter Amy Holmes.
Is immigration an issue that people are going to vote on, that Republican voters are going to vote on, because, in the last election, when you looked at the exit polls, it didn't seem like immigration was -- as much as people talked about it, was the issue that brought them to the polls. AMY HOLMES, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, Immigration, in polling, is the number-one issue for Republican voters as a domestic issue.
And you actually saw this issue bubble up in 2004 on state ballots. So, it's only now getting to the national stage, as the Senate is debating this bill.
But what I thought was interesting tonight is, while McCain's opponents debated the immigration bill, they didn't necessarily bash him. So, I thought he actually did well, given his vulnerabilities on this issue, the bill being so deeply unpopular with conservative voters.
COOPER: Does McCain's argument, Paul, that, look, you know, leadership is about making the tough choices, does that -- does that help him? Does that actually work?
PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, it's always been part of his appeal, I think, but among independents, not among Republicans.
That's why George Bush beat him in the 2000 primaries. McCain won, with -- with Murphy's help, everywhere that independents could vote. But, when it was restricted just to the Cro-Magnons, to the Republicans...
BEGALA: ... Bush clocked him.
And I think that McCain did something important, though. At the end of the debate -- and we didn't have that sound bite just here -- he gave this very patriotic and poetic speech about immigration, when he talked about going to the Vietnam Memorial Wall, where he clearly lost friends, and seeing Hispanic names there, going to Iraq and Afghanistan and seeing young Hispanic folks, some just with a green card, hoping to earn their citizenship by service to their country.
I thought that was beautiful. That would work in a general election. Let's see if it will work in a primary.
MURPHY: McCain is in a tough fix on this issue within the Republican primary electorate, where immigration is a big, big issue.
I think, on -- he's on the right side. I'm proud of him. But I'm a liberal on immigration. Most Republicans aren't. Most Republicans are much more in the conservative, build a fence, and no amnesty. Amnesty has become this kind of magic word. And it's kind of ill-defined, because, if you really define it, doing anything is amnesty. So, the only other choice is to send everybody home, which nobody, even the opponents, are really talking about.
COOPER: Did any of the other candidates on the stage have a realistic alternate proposal? I mean, that's what McCain keeps saying, is, look, it's easy to criticize, but you're not coming up with answers
MURPHY: Well, both -- it's interesting. Romney and Rudy both have the politics on this working for them, but their positions are modifications of the existing bill. So, they're not all that far, in some ways.
And that's going to be the battleground now going forward, because Mitt Romney is not the kind of guy who wants to send 12 million people out of the country. Neither is Rudy Giuliani. He was sounding like: All you have got to do is get a unified database, and I'm for the bill.
So, what McCain is going to try to do -- he's got a tough job here -- either move the needle on the issue -- tough in a Republican primary -- he once told me, if he had 10 minutes with them, he can switch them -- the problem is, takes 10 minutes with a voter.
MURPHY: Bad place to be in as a candidate -- or make it a character issue about the other guys.
And I thought both Romney and Rudy did a pretty good job tonight of fending it off, and going where the -- where the politics were, even though, in my heart, I'm with McCain on that issue.
HOLMES: But there is another alternative on this. And some of the other candidates talked about it, and which is border security first.
You saw it in the bite from Duncan Hunter, saying, let's build that fence. Let's get that -- that border secure before we move forward.
COOPER: McCain says that -- that is in this bill.
HOLMES: But it's all -- it's all put together. And conservative do not have confidence that border security is -- is a serious priority for this administration or a future administration.
COOPER: We have a lot more coming up on Iraq and social issues for the Republicans.
If you did not catch this debate, we're really going to be, over the next two hours, showing you the -- the best of, condensing down the clips. So, just stay tuned for that.
First, here's Kiran Chetry with what is coming up tomorrow on "AMERICAN MORNING" -- Kiran.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KIRAN CHETRY, CO-HOST, "AMERICAN MORNING": It can only take a few seconds, Anderson, for tragedy to strike right in your own backyard.
Our consumer guide, Greg Hunter, will be poolside for us in the morning with the newest ways to keep your kids safe this summer.
Plus, will a last-minute appeal spare Prince William and Prince Harry from a graphic documentary about their mother's death? We will talk about that, the latest from London, first thing in the morning, "AMERICAN MORNING," beginning at 6:00 a.m. Eastern -- Anderson, back to you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Kiran, thanks.
Tonight, now: how the candidates set themselves apart from one another, or didn't, as the case may be, on Iraq.
You're watching a special edition of 360 from the Republican debate in Manchester, New Hampshire.
COOPER: We have condensed, really, the best moments from this two-hour debate that you will be seeing on this program over the next hour.
We're going through the -- really, the major issues of tonight's debate one by one. It's time now for Iraq.
There was broad agreement that the war has been mismanaged. But, given what we know now, should the U.S. have started the war in the first place?
Here are some of the answers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: Well, the question is kind of a non sequitur, if you will. And what I mean by that -- or a null set -- and that is that, if you're saying, let's turn back the clock, and Saddam Hussein had opened up his country to IAEA inspectors, and they had come in, and they had found that there were no weapons of mass destruction, had Saddam Hussein therefore not violated United Nations resolutions, we wouldn't be in the conflict we're in.
But he didn't do those things, and we knew what we knew at the point we made the decision to get in.
BLITZER: Governor, thank you, but the question was, knowing what you know right now -- not what you knew then, what you know right now -- was it a mistake for the United States to invade Iraq?
ROMNEY: We did the right thing based on what we knew at that time. GIULIANI: Absolutely the right thing to do. It's unthinkable that you would leave Saddam Hussein in charge of Iraq and be able to fight the war on terror.
And the problem is that we see Iraq in a vacuum. Iraq should not be seen in a vacuum. Iraq is part of the overall terrorist war against the United States.
The problem the Democrats make is, they're in denial.
BLITZER: Did you read the national intelligence estimate, which included all the caveats on whether or not there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq?
MCCAIN: I did not read that particular document. I received hundreds of briefings, tens and hundreds of hours of study in background and information on it. The fact is that Saddam Hussein had used weapons of mass destruction before on his own people and on his enemies. And, if he had gotten them again, he would have used them again.
SCOTT SPRADLING, WMUR: If our top military commander in Iraq, General Petraeus, reports back to Congress this September that the surge hasn't significantly improved the situation on the ground, what then?
MCCAIN: I think this strategy needs to be given a chance to succeed.
There is no doubt in my mind that this will become a base for terrorism; there will be chaos in the region.
REP. RON PAUL (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The sooner we come home, the better. If they declare there's no progress in September, we should come home. It was a mistake to go, so it's a mistake to stay. If we made the wrong diagnosis, we should change the treatment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Joining us again, Paul Begala -- political strategists Paul Begala and Mike Murphy, Democrat and Republican, respectively, and Amy Holmes, conservative analyst and speechwriter for Bill Frist back when he was in the Senate.
You say that Romney made a big mistake tonight on Iraq.
BEGALA: A huge mistake, a gaffe that -- that's, if this were a general election debate, would be a disqualifier.
He said -- we just heard the bite -- he said that, if Saddam Hussein had allowed IAEA, International Atomic Energy Agency, inspectors into his country to ascertain whether we had weapons, we wouldn't have had this war.
He did. On September 17 of 2002, the Iraqi government, under Saddam Hussein, allowed IAEA weapons inspectors into their country. Over 250 of them went, led by Hans Blix. They searched the whole countryside and found nothing.
While they were still searching, on March 17 of 2003, George W. Bush told them to get out, because he was starting a war. And, on March 20, we started the war.
You can't get something like that wrong. I mean, that's like -- that's like saying the Mexicans bombed Pearl Harbor.
MURPHY: This is an absolute pro wrestling stranglehold on context my friend Begala has just pulled off here.
BEGALA: No, it's a simple matter of fact.
MURPHY: Yes. Well, but they were thrown out earlier, Paul. They thrown out in '98, which started the whole U.N...
BEGALA: Yes, they were. That's not what Mitt Romney was talking about.
MURPHY: Well, that's what you didn't -- you didn't mention about.
HOLMES: And the point being that Saddam Hussein was flouting...
MURPHY: That started the...
HOLMES: ... a U.N...
BEGALA: You're entitled to your own opinion...
MURPHY: And that's...
BEGALA: ... but you're not entitled to your own facts.
MURPHY: Yes, but let me finish. Let me finish.
BEGALA: It's a matter of fact that U.N. weapons inspectors were there.
BEGALA: And Saddam let them in. And Bush kicked them out.
HOLMES: And Saddam was supposed to be giving...
BEGALA: Romney stood that on its head.
MURPHY: Look... (CROSSTALK)
HOLMES: Saddam was supposed to be giving documentation, which he did not.
MURPHY: Saddam didn't...
BEGALA: I can't believe you guys are defending this.
HOLMES: But we shouldn't be re-litigating this.
BEGALA: No. Yes, we should.
MURPHY: Wait a minute. Let me ask you a question.
BEGALA: The man said we went to war because they didn't let inspectors in.
HOLMES: Let's talk about Iraq.
BEGALA: They let inspectors in.
HOLMES: Let's talk about Iraq.
COOPER: This is the most exciting thing that has happened tonight. So, I'm just letting it go.
MURPHY: One question for you, one question for you -- let me get in a word edgewise if I can. If that's true, if the weapons inspectors were in there and they said there were no weapons, why did Hillary Clinton vote for the war?
BEGALA: She was wrong. I didn't like her vote. But I can't help that. It's...
MURPHY: But her argument, most of the Democrats in the Senate was that everybody, the foreign intelligence services thought there were weapons there, and Saddam did not cooperate.
Now we can argue about he didn't throw them out in 2001. He threw them out in '98, which started the U.N. compound and all the pressure. But if Saddam had let the weapons inspectors prove there were no weapons, there would have been a war. Saddam is the bad guy, not George Bush.
BEGALA: In fact, that's what Hillary said to Hunt (ph). She said...
MURPHY: I think she's right about that. BEGALA: ... No, but Hillary said, "I want these weapons inspectors to continue to do their work to see whether there are weapons of mass destruction." That's why she said she voted for it. I disagreed with that vote. She wanted those weapons inspectors to continue to work.
MURPHY: And Saddam was resisting it.
HOLMES: Saddam was not handing over material.
BEGALA: There weren't any weapons. What could he hand over?
COOPER: We're not going to get this resolved tonight.
BEGALA: Go look at the CNN.com archives for September 17th of 2002. The big headline, it says "Iraq Allows Weapons Inspectors In".
MURPHY: He's got you on this one, Paul.
BEGALA: Come on!
COOPER: How tied -- how tied is John McCain to what happens in Iraq?
HOLMES: He's, you know, he's bound to it closely.
COOPER: Are they all, Giuliani, all of them?
HOLMES: They are but the larger issue, Anderson is, this is a Republican primary. And so for Republican candidates to say we want to prosecute this war for a successful ending plays well with Republican voters.
I mean, Ron Paul's position up on that stage is not held by a majority of Republican voters. And I think what you saw tonight, unlike the Democratic debate, you're seeing Republicans put out a substantive plan about how they would politically try to win this war.
You have Democrats saying to withdraw, and they're saying that President Bush has not put out a political solution. But you didn't see any of that on Sunday.
MURPHY: War goes bad. We get a war election. We Republicans, we're in big trouble. This is a chance election. But the world changes and then it's a question of who's better on the global issues of security and we're in that fight, and we're in it to win it.
COOPER: We're going to have more with our panel here We'll get closer to home, a lot closer, a look at social issues, questions of life and creation and conscience, as well. Stay tuned.
COOPER: No need to have actually watched the entire debate. We're condensing the best moments into our broadcast tonight. When it comes to social issues, tonight's debate touched on abortion, evolution and Mitt Romney's Mormon faith. One of the things that everyone is probably going to be talking about tomorrow is the lightning that hit will Rudy Giuliani was defending his position in favor of abortion rights. Take a look.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Mayor Giuliani, there was some news here today, a Catholic bishop in Rhode Island said -- said some words about your position on abortion, suggesting that it was similar to Pontius Pilate's personal opposition to Jesus Christ's crucifixion, but allowing it to happen anyway.
How does that make you feel when you hear things from a Catholic bishop?
RUDY GIULIANI (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: A Catholic bishop, any issues (UNINTELLIGIBLE)
BLITZER: That's the lightning that's having an effect on our system.
GIULIANI: I know.
They're going to leave me alone, John. I guess I'm here by myself. Look, for someone who went to parochial schools all his life, this is a very frightening thing that's happening right now.
But the reality is I respect the opinion of Catholics, religious leaders of all kinds. Religion is very important to me. It's a very important part of my life, but ultimately as a (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
I've been in public life most of my life and taken oaths of office to enforce the law. I've got to make the decisions that I think are the right ones in a country like ours.
And my view on abortion is that it's wrong, but that ultimately, government should not be enforcing that decision on a woman.
MIKE HUCKABEE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't know. I wasn't there, but I believe whether God did it in six days, or whether he did it in six days that represented periods of time. He did it, and that's what's important.
But you know, if anybody wants to believe that they are the descendants of a primate, they are certainly welcome to do it. I don't know how far they will march that back. But I believe that all of us in this room are the unique creations of a God who knows us and loves us and who created us for his own purpose.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The point is that the time before time, is no doubt in my mind that the hand of God was in what we are today. And I do believe that we are unique, and I believe that God loves us. But I also believe that all of our children, in school, can be taught different views on different issues, but I leave the curricula up to the school boards.
BLITZER: What would you like to say to the voters out there tonight about your faith, about yourself, and about God?
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I believe in God. I believe in the Bible. I believe Jesus Christ is my savior. I believe that God created man in his image. I believe that the freedoms of man derive from inalienable rights given to us by God.
And I also believe that there are some pundits out there that are hoping that I'll distance myself from my church so that that will help me politically, and that's not going to happen.
COOPER: Joining us now, of course, Democratic strategist Paul Begala, conservative strategist Amy Holmes and Republican strategist Mike Murphy. They're joining us all evening for their perspectives on this moment.
There have been concerns about many of the so-called top-tier candidates on the stage tonight, among some conservative Christians. Did they allay doubts tonight, Mike?
MURPHY: I think so. I think so. I think they're all very lucid about it. Huckabee in particular has a certain elegance on these things, though he lost me at the primate thing, personally. I'm on the Darwin side of the equation.
But no, I thought it was -- it was a very non-hostile, kind of inclusive view of this sort of thing. And on our primary there are a lot of Christian conservatives who vote primarily on social issues. And I think all of the candidates want to reach out and reassure them. I thought Mitt Romney did a particularly good job on the Mormonism.
COOPER: Do you agree with that?
HOLMES: I agree. And I think that Romney's tactic on this question, which he's done all along, is the correct one, which is instead of getting to the thick of Mormonism, to keep it general in terms of he said, "I believe in God. I believe in the Bible. And I believe in Jesus Christ as my savior."
And that, again, is to reassure evangelicals that they're on the same page when it comes to those religious questions. But I thought again Huckabee did a great job of actually turning that question around. It's not such an unusual thing to believe in creationism. And this isn't an exotic point of view; it's one that's held by many Americans.
BEGALA: But it's a matter of faith, not science. I'm a Catholic. I'm a faithful Catholic. I practice my faith. And yet I don't want a public school teacher to tell a non-Catholic child in a public school in a biology classroom that babies are made, usually, from a sperm and an egg.
But sometimes the Holy Spirit can come and impregnate a virgin. I believe in the virgin birth, but it's an article of faith. It shouldn't be taught in science. If people want to believe a religious theory of creation, God bless them.
COOPER: Did John McCain...
HOLMES: ... should be advocating...
BEGALA: I think every child should be exposed to every theory. So I want biology classes to teach the Catholic theory of the virgin birth as biology...
HOLMES: He did not say that he wanted biology classes. He said as a matter of education.
BEGALA: Every child should be exposed to every theory, he said. That's preposterous. Some theories are crackpot.
HOLMES: ... as a basis of, you know, of our literature. What John McCain is saying is we could be open-minded. He did not suggest that creationism should be taught as science.
COOPER: Was he trying to step back, though, from the comments he made in the previous debate when -- about evolution, was that an attempt to redefine himself in any way?
MURPHY: No, no, no. I think he was just acknowledging that it's a big issue. You know, local decisions about education and should everything be taught as an option, that's a position important to a lot of conservative Christians. McCain was showing he was open to that argument. I don't think he was trying to move off any other position. At least I didn't see it.
COOPER: Rudy Giuliani obviously one of his biggest problems has been his pro-choice stance. Did his answer tonight make any difference? I mean, it obviously sort of ended up being a funny answer because of the lightning.
HOLMES: Well, it seems that he finally got comfortable on this issue. And the lightning bolt was quite fortuitous, because it sort of broke the moment. It sort of allowed the audience to relax, and that worked very well for Giuliani.
Pro-lifers know he's pro-choice. They may or may not accept that in their presidential nominee. But tonight he showed at least he was -- from his point of view, he was comfortable on that issue.
MURPHY: I got a bunch of e-mails on the BlackBerry. There was a lot of "Giuliani did great tonight, but I could never vote for him," dot, dot, dot. You know, from Republicans around the country. They're not even particularly single issue voters. I'm not saying that's not the entire primary, but it is a problem. That's why we have not historically had a lot of pro-choice candidates win. Maybe Rudy will be the first, but it's a heavy lift in our primary.
BEGALA: I disagree with Amy. Eric Goldfelt (ph) has a journalist talking points memo. He has an interesting post today. He looked through that Pew Research poll. Only 43 percent of Republicans even know that Rudy is pro-choice. And the majority of Republicans have no idea.
Now, they may not have learned it tonight. As Amy points out, he handled that so wonderfully. I cannot overstate the poise it takes to handle something like that with that kind of grace.
When the sound and the lights went out in the Houston debate in 1976 between Gerry Ford and Jimmy Carter, the two of them stood there frozen and riveted for over half an hour.
Now, Rudy was -- he was quick. He was witty. And he's not known as a funny guy. He's not the life of the party. Because I was really impressed with how he handled it just as a political talent.
COOPER: Paul, you've been in politics way too long. You remember moments from 1976 debates. Man, more power to you.
MURPHY: Living in the New York media world, though. Fast on his feet.
HOLMES: He's a veteran.
COOPER: More to talk about ahead. It's a safe bet that President Bush did not see tonight's debate. And he isn't even in the country.
So what's he doing while his fellow Republicans line up on stage? How about trying to prevent a comeback for the Cold War? That is up for "Raw Politics" in our next block.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GIULIANI: I would see if it fit the criteria for pardon. I'd wait for the appeal. I think what the judge did today argues more in favor of a pardon. This is an excessive punishment.
ROMNEY: I didn't pardon anybody as governor, because I don't want to overturn a jury. But in this case, we have a prosecutor who clearly abused prosecutorial discretion by going after somebody when he already knew that the source of the leak was Richard Armitage.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How would you use George W. Bush in your administration?
TOMMY THOMPSON (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I certainly would not send him to the United Nations. I would put him out on a lecture series talking to the youth of America. REP. TOM TANCREDO (R-CO), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Some time ago, I think it was in '03 I think it was that I got a call from Karl Rove who told me that, because of my criticism of the president, I should never darken the doorstep of the White House.
I have been so disappointed in the president in so many ways since his -- actually, for the last several years, not just the immigration issue, but several other things, including the No Child Left Behind and the massive increase in government that we call prescription drug -- Medicare prescription drug that I'm afraid I would have to tell the president of the United States -- I mean, as president, I would have to tell George Bush exactly the same thing Karl Rove told me.
COOPER: Tough words there were Tom Tancredo.
While the Republicans were duking it out in tonight's debate -- well, not really duking it so much -- the Republican they hope to succeed in the White House has been scratching some raw nerves himself. That tops our "Raw Politics" segment. Here's Tom Foreman.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, the Republican candidates are largely keeping their distance from George Bush, considering his low approval ratings, and this week, at least, he's making it easy.
(voice-over) He's on the other side of the world, getting ready for his dust-up with Russian leader Vladimir Putin later this week. The two will meet amid sharp disagreements over missile defense, nuclear programs in Iran and Russian-style democracy.
Talking point, Bush.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The areas where we share mutual interests, we work together. In other areas we have strong disagreements.
FOREMAN: Counter point, Putin.
VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT: (speaking Russian)
FOREMAN (on camera): Well, I don't speak Russian, but I'm pretty sure he says our foreign policy stinks.
(voice-over) Something rotten in Camp Clinton, at least as far as labor leaders are concerned. They've written to the New York senator with distress, asking why one of her campaign strategists has been connected, they believe, to other campaigns to undermine workers' rights. They want an answer if she wants their votes, but no reply so far.
Last fall the Iraq Study Group wanted a new policy to guide the war. Now a bipartisan group of senators wants a new policy to guide the war. In fact they pretty much want the same one. They've introduced legislation to put more emphasis on training Iraqis, diplomacy, and getting out if any decent progress is made.
With some conservative Republicans on board, they insist they're not pushing the president for a timetable.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's recommendations.
FOREMAN: It came from outer space! The global warming debate will have to get by on a little less info.
The Defense Department is downsizing a new weather and climate satellite system because of technical problems and skyrocketing costs.
(on camera) That, from a confidential report to the White House, which I guess, now that the Associated Press has it, is not so confidential anymore.
You know, you just can't keep a secret in the whole universe of "Raw Politics" -- Anderson.
COOPER: That is certainly true. Tom, thanks.
If you want to see some really raw politics, join us for our next debate. It is the first one where all of you get to submit your questions to the candidates through our debate partners, YouTube and CNN.com.
It's going to take place next month in South Carolina with the Democrats. This is unprecedented. It's going to be really fascinating. We'll see how it works. Basically, you go on YouTube, and you'll be able to make your own videos, asking the questions you want these Democratic candidates first to answer. Should be very interesting. Make them as creative as you want them to be, make them as smart. Let's certainly hope for that, and let's keep it clean.
Up next, sentencing for Vice President Cheney's former right-hand man, Scooter Libby, the first sitting White House official indicted since -- do you remember when? Well, since 1875. See what he got for obstructing justice and lying to investigators.
COOPER: Tom Foreman joins us right now with a "360 Bulletin" -- Tom.
FOREMAN: Hi, Anderson.
Starting things off, a judge throws the book at a former top White House aide. Lewis "Scooter" Libby sentenced to two and a half years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The stiff sentence follows Libby's conviction for lying and obstruction in the CIA leak probe.
Meantime, Libby's former boss, Vice President Dick Cheney, calls the sentence a tragedy. Libby remains free pending a hearing next week on whether to postpone the sentence while he files an appeal.
A fourth man in custody tonight in the alleged plot to attack JFK Airport. Fifty-seven-year-old Abdel Nur turned himself in to authorities in Trinidad. Nur and the three men are charged with conspiring to blow up fuel tanks and buildings at JFK. Another suspect is being held in the U.S. The remaining two are in Trinidad, fighting extradition to the U.S.
Good news for the man who touched off the international tuberculosis scare. A third test to see if Andrew Speaker is contagious came back negative. Doctors have yet to decide whether to let the Speaker leave his isolation room for brief walks on hospital grounds.
Broadcasters have won a round in the battle over foul language on air. It's not that it's OK for people like me to use the "f" word just any old time, not that I would anyway, but an appeals court ruled the FCC can't impose fines for what they call, quote, "fleeting expletives."
And Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke seems to have thrown a scare into investors. The Dow and the S&P 500 both taking a big dip today after the fed chief signaled he sees little reason to cut interest rates. Probably some fleeting expletives flying around there -- Anderson.
COOPER: I was going to say the exact same thing. I'm sure there were a couple of people making some fleeting expletives.
Time now for "The Shot." We showed it to you a little earlier, but we think it's worth another look. Viewers of the debate were waiting for that one electrifying moment when lightning struck.
Well, it seemed that it happened literally when Wolf asked Rudy Giuliani about a Catholic bishop's criticism of the former mayor's stand on abortion, the bishop comparing it to Pontius Pilate's opposing Jesus' crucifixion but allowing it to happen anyway. Here's a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: How does that make you feel when you hear words like that from a Catholic bishop?
GIULIANI: A Catholic bishop, any (UNINTELLIGIBLE) -- issues of morals.
BLITZER: That's the lightening that's having an effect on our system.
GIULIANI: I know. They're going to leave me alone, John. I guess I'm here by myself. (END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Giuliani went on to say he went to Catholic school all his life, found the scenario pretty scary.
Tom, we want you to send us your "Shot" ideas -- not just your ideas, Tom. Anybody's shot. If you see some amazing video, tell us about it at CNN.com/36, and we'll put some of your best clips on the air.
Coming up next on the program, the repercussions of Scooter Libby's sentencing today that Tom just talked about and what the candidates said tonight about pardoning him.
Also why tonight mattered, why New Hampshire matters for Manchester. It's a special edition of 360.
COOPER: Welcome back. You're watching the only live cable newscast at this hour. We are at St. Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire, where 10 Republican presidential candidates just squared off tonight in their third debate.
And it was a crowded field. It was a crowded assembly here. It's certainly a crowded field and a party divided on some key issues. Abortion and immigration were a big focus tonight. And so, of course, was Iraq. There were no knock-out punches, but there were some soft jabs, you might say.
Excuse me -- we'll get to all that in a moment. First, the bombshell that hit Lewis "Scooter" Libby today.
A federal judge sentenced him to 2 1/2 years in prison for lying and obstructing the CIA leak investigation. He was also fined $250,000.
The former aide to Vice President Dick Cheney had asked for probation. Libby's appealing. And tonight the Republican candidates were asked if they would pardon him if elected.
TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.voxant.com