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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Unfair Sentence?; Frontier Justice?; Levees at Risk; Hilton Back in Jail; Dem Polls; Lame Duck Leader?; Gonzales Under Fire
Aired June 11, 2007 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
RICK SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): At no time did you tell that young lady that she had to give you oral sex?
GENARLOW WILSON: No, sir.
SANCHEZ (voice-over): The law seems so outdated, Georgia lawmakers got rid of it, reducing consensual sex between teens to a misdemeanor. But they refused to reduce his punishment.
Newspaper editorials, including the "New York Times," said that Wilson should be released. So did President Jimmy Carter, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, even conservative talk hosts like Neal Boortz.
NEAL BOORTZ, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: The kid broke a ridiculous law passed by the general assembly that did not -- can we use the phrase -- grade on a curve.
SANCHEZ: But when Georgia lawmakers were asked to reconsider Wilson's case under their new law, the president of the Senate had this to say.
ERIC JOHNSON, GEORGIA STATE SENATE: Are you aware that these boys videotaped that -- that rape?
SANCHEZ: Wilson was not convicted of rape. So on the steps of the capital I confronted Johnson about his assertion.
(on camera): Do you feel bad about the fact that you characterized this as a rape?
SANCHEZ: When you were talking yesterday in the Senate?
SANCHEZ: No. You don't have any problem with that? Because it wasn't a rape.
JOHNSON: It's a rape in my mind.
SANCHEZ (voice-over): But what politicians would not do a Georgia superior court judge would. He called Genarlow's 10-year sentence an injustice.
CNN was there when the faxed ruling was received.
The sentence is void. That means he's clear. That means he's clear.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)
SANCHEZ (on camera): B.J., B.J., explain to us what this means, if your could.
B.J. BERNSTEIN, GENARLOW WILSON'S ATTORNEY: The order -- the order. He's released. He's released.
SANCHEZ: So the judge is saying that he agrees on habeas corpus grounds that he should be released.
BERNSTEIN: He's released.
SANCHEZ (voice-over): Wilson's mother, Juanessa Bennett (ph).
(on camera): There must be just incredible relief for you right now. Do you feel -- explain to us in the best words that you can why you feel what this judge has done is the right thing for your son?
JUANESSA BENNETT, GENARLOW WILSON'S MOTHER: Because it is the right thing.
BENNETT: Because he didn't deserve to have the sexual predator status on top of him.
SANCHEZ: But just one hour and a half after receiving the faxed document from the superior court judge, Attorney B.J. Bernstein received another notice from the attorney general of the state of Georgia, informing her that they would appeal the decision. The celebration was dampened.
BERNSTEIN: I don't know -- understand why smarter heads can't prevail. Why people consistently have said keep this kid a convicted felon.
SANCHEZ (voice-over): The Georgia attorney general's office argues the superior court judge did not have standing to overrule the conviction. That's why they're appealing.
And while the appeal is being heard, Wilson's attorneys are asking he be released, but there's no guarantee. So for now, Wilson, who's already served more than two years in prison, waits.
Rick Sanchez, CNN, Atlanta.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Well, there are many other inmates in Georgia serving time for the same crime. Here's the raw data.
Wilson was convicted of aggravated child molestation. He's one of 1,331 other convicted defendants behind bars for aggravated child molestation in the state. Seven were teenagers when they were found guilty; 21 are female.
People here in New Orleans will tell you there's no place like it for the neighborhoods, the music, the food, the spirit of the place. Also sadly these days for the crime.
The sky rocketing number of murders, last year, to borrow from the report you're about to see, New Orleans racked up 162 murders and the criminal justice system managed to win convictions in just three of those cases.
Earlier on the program, a distinguished former judge blamed a complete lack of leadership in the city, but that's not all that's going on.
CNN's Gary Tuchman investigates.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A woman saw something extremely violent happen at this desolate intersection in New Orleans. But the fear of being labeled a snitch might end up denying justice.
Five people driving in an SUV were shot and killed by a gunman. Two of the dead were 19-year-old Marquis Hunter and his 16-year-old brother Arsenio (ph). Their mother is Monalisa Hunter.
MONALISA HUNTER, MOTHER OF VICTIM: I just kept saying, Lord, please don't let this be true.
TUCHMAN: Shortly after the murders, a man was arrested and charged with the killings after a female witness came forward.
But days ago, Monalisa and the boys' father, Marquis Sr., got some bad news from the district attorney's office.
HUNTER: They can't contact the witness. They have no witness to come forward.
TUCHMAN: The witness has apparently developed cold feet and it's unfortunately quite common here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ninety percent of our cases -- why they refuse is because of witness problems.
TUCHMAN: There were 162 murders last year in New Orleans. Many cases are pending, but the D.A.'s office acknowledges only three of those case have led to murder convictions. The lack of cooperation from witnesses is a major reason for that.
(on camera): What makes this worse is that it all goes hand in hand with an astronomically higher murder rate.
In the year 2006, to use New York City as an example, there's about one murder for every 14,000 residents. But here in New Orleans, there was about one murder for every 1,400 residents. That's about 10 times higher.
(voice-over): But there are witnesses who do come forward. In a 2006 homicide trial, Archie Keyser testified against a man charged with killing his friend.
ARCHIE KEYSER, WITNESS: I can understand people being fearful, but -- and -- and I probably had something to fear, but my faith is strong.
TUCHMAN: The prosecutor in the case says Keyser's testimony helped lead to the manslaughter conviction of Lewis Nicks (ph).
KIMYA HOLMES, ASSISTANT D.A., ORLEANS PARISH: He was very valuable. And not only did he testify at the trial, he also testified at the sentencing hearing.
TUCHMAN: Nicks (ph) was sentenced to 40 years for the hearing.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm a good mother and I took very good care of my kids.
TUCHMAN: Monalisa Hunter says she prays the witness in her sons' case comes forward, because there may not be a murder trial without her.
But it may surprise you to know she sympathizes with the witness's plight.
(on camera): Before this happened to your sons, if you witnessed something, would you cooperate and talk to the police?
HUNTER: If I had protection, yes, I would.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): Before we left the murder scene, we saw this rat scampering around, symbolic because that's the word many people around here use when they talk about a reputation they want to avoid.
COOPER: She alludes to protection. Do they offer protection here in New Orleans?
TUCHMAN (on camera): Well, not everyone in the street believes it, but the district attorney's office here in New Orleans says for people who will be witnesses they will protect you, they will guard you, they will move you to another location to keep you safe.
COOPER: And they have the budget for that?
TUCHMAN: They do have the budget for that. That's part of what they do.
COOPER: Remarkable story.
Gary, appreciate it. Thanks very much.
Do we know what's going to happen with that trial?
TUCHMAN: With the trial, we asked one of the people in the district attorney's office today, and he told us he wants to keep his options open. He doesn't want to tell us, but if the witness doesn't come forward, it will be a big problem.
COOPER: All right, Gary, thanks for the reporting.
You know, billions of dollars have been spent strengthening New Orleans' last line of defense against storms like Katrina.
The levees and the floodwalls had failed miserably when Katrina swept through. Who can forget these images. Pretty much everyone agrees that the new flood barrier is bigger and better than the old one.
But a new report by the Army Corps of Engineers has found problems with dozens of drainage pumps that are in the system.
We're in a pumping station right now along the 17th Street Canal. Joining me is Colonel Jeff Bedey of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Appreciate you being with us.
We were here a year ago. There's clearly been a lot of progress. What is this pump for?
COL. JEFF BEDEY, U.S. ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS: Well, this pumping station is a temporary pumping station and it is intended to operate only in the event of a predicted surge out of Lake Pontchartrain like we saw out of Hurricane Katrina. And it was that surge that resulted in the catastrophic failures, not only here at the 17th Street Canal, but at London Avenue Canal as well.
COOPER: Go ahead.
BEDEY: So should we have a predicted surge, a big storm that comes out of Lake Pontchartrain and a big mass of water, we have the ability now to close these gates in front of us.
We close these gates and then turn on these pumps to evacuate the storm water out of the city.
COOPER: There was a report last year by an Army Corps of Engineers engineer who said it's not working. The pumps won't work. And just this past Friday three engineers backed up that report. So do the pumps work?
BEDEY: Well, I need to tell you that, number one is, I am very, very appreciative of the team effort that's gone on here. Maria Garzino (ph) is the person who was on the team that rendered the report in May of last year. And that report enabled us to make the necessary changes and take the actions necessary in order to ensure that we had reliable pumping capacity.
In addition to that, in September of last year, my boss Brigadier General Robert Kerr (ph) commissioned this three-member team to come in and help us to identify those fixes we would need to make to ensure that we could put these pumps in the water and they would work.
This is a project that by all rights should take three to five years in the conventional construction scenario. But this was an emergency situation. We had had the responsibility to be able to close these gates and protect from a surge for the people of this community and of the nation.
And in doing so, we had to makes some hard decisions. Some of those decisions were to forego all the of the factory testing and get the pumps in the water, knowing that we would have to do all the testing and commissioning here on site.
We've done that, we've been successful. We were only successful because of the tremendous amount of team effort and the people that came in and helped us to identify those requisite fixes.
COOPER: So you're saying, this is not the ideal solution, but you are confident these pumps are going to work even though the Army Corps of Engineers engineers recently said they're not?
BEDEY: That report -- that report that was just published last week was actually a snapshot in time of September of last year. That report by that three-person team.
COOPER: So you're saying improvements have been made since then?
BEDEY: We have taken the necessary actions with the exception of we're changing one part of the system out and that's the flooded suction that allows you to get the air out of the hydraulic line. Much as you have to bleed the brakes on an automobile. Now we have to do that manually, flooded suction allows us to do that mechanically.
COOPER: I know you can't say what level of protection these levees now offer. Are they -- promises were made by politicians that they would be bigger and stronger than they were before. Are they?
BEDEY: Well, we're absolutely stronger today than we were pre- Katrina. This pump, this interim closure structure is an example of that. And are we done? Absolutely not.
The commitment of the administration of the United States and the Congress of the United States was to provide the 100-year level of protection for the people of this great community and of the nation.
To that end, we've got a long ways to go. But we're steadily day by day making improvements. COOPER: To someone, this summer, who wants to move back to the Lower Ninth Ward, I mean, you -- you probably hear this all the time. They ask can they move back, is it safe? What do you say?
BEDEY: And what I tell them is that we have done everything we can in order to ensure the stability of the levees and floodwalls that adjoin their community, but we have a challenge. The levees and floodwalls are lower than they need to be for the 100-year level of protection. So there is the risk of overtopping.
COOPER: How much higher do they need to be for the 100-year?
BEDEY: Well, in many cases, they have to go up anywhere from five to six feet.
BEDEY: And we're continuing to work that. That's a work in progress. This is a marathon. We're going there as quickly as we possibly can. And in this marathon, we have to be world class marathon runners.
The other thing I would want to tell you, Anderson, is just on the 31st of May, we had a readiness exercise and operated every pump, not only here at the 17th Street Canal, but the other (UNINTELLIGIBLE) canals, and we are not done yet.
Right behind us you'll see the work in the background. That's the work that's ongoing to increase the pumping capacity here at the 17th Street Canal, to increase that capacity by the height of this hurricane season.
COOPER: Well, let's hope it's not an active hurricane season. Let's hope New Orleans gets another pass.
COOPER: Colonel Bedey, appreciate your work. Thank you.
BEDEY: All right. Thank you very much for being here this evening. Thank you.
COOPER: Coming up, a rare victory for one of the president's top advisers, but not much other good news for the president tonight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER (voice-over): On the rope. They love him in Albania, but there's not much love for him in Washington.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're looking for themselves and they're listening to their constituents, not to the White House.
COOPER: President Bush on the ropes. Can he still get immigration reform passed? Also, the inmate still an inmate. Making promises, but can she keep them? She says she's a new person, but what about that alleged medical problem? We'll tell you tonight on 360.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER (on camera): In the tradition of O.J. Simpson, another chase played out in Los Angeles last week. This time the paparazzi were hoping to catch a glimpse of a blonde-haired socialite going off to jail.
Tonight there are new developments in the story of a woman with a French city for her first name, including why she's in the medical ward and what she told Barbara Walters on Sunday.
CNN's Dan Simon reports.
DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There may be a serious medical reason why Paris Hilton has had so much difficulty adjusting to jail.
According to TMZ, Hilton suffers from extreme ADD, attention deficit disorder, and claustrophobia. The Web site cites unnamed sources saying, last week in jail, she wasn't given all of her medications, which may have led to panic attacks. CNN cannot confirm these reports.
But Hilton seems to be doing much better in the jail's medical ward. She appears to have done some serious introspection.
In a conversation with Barbara Walters over the weekend, she pledged to use her celebrity to help others.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE VIEW")
BARBARA WALTERS, ABC NEWS: She said she would like to help, perhaps, in the field of breast cancer. And she said she thought that she might get toy companies to build a kind of Paris Hilton playhouse for children.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SIMON: Paris said her few days in custody have made her a different person; the young woman we saw on her reality show...
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE SIMPLE LIFE")
PARIS HILTON, CONVICTED OF PROBATION VIOLATION: My Fendi matches the shirts.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Cute.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SIMON: ... isn't the true Paris.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE VIEW")
WALTERS: This part, I thought particularly interesting: I used to act dumb. It was an act. And that act is no longer cute.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SIMON: Paris will serve out the remainder of her sentence. She says she no longer wants to appeal. With good behavior, she will be out in two weeks. Among the weekend visitors, her sister, Nikki, and an ex-boyfriend. The two did not have to wait in line, prompting other visitors to gripe and allege more special treatment.
(on camera): Some of the heat has now shifted to the sheriff, Lee Baca. He thought Paris should serve most of her sentence in home detention. Paris's grandfather contributed $1,000 to Baca's reelection campaign. A quid pro quo? The sheriff vehemently denies it.
(voice-over): Today, he took criticism from Reverend Al Sharpton.
AL SHARPTON, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST: Our concern is, beyond this tabloid hysteria around Paris Hilton, is what about the person in South Central or in East L.A. that cannot get the attention on their medical condition, psychological condition?
SIMON: As for Paris's condition, she told Barbara Walters she's become more spiritual and has spent time reading the Bible. She vowed to never again drink and drive. She says jail time has changed her, and God has given her a new chance.
Dan Simon, CNN, San Francisco.
COOPER: As you just heard, the heiress in the headlines reportedly suffers from extreme ADD as well as claustrophobia. What does that really mean, though, for someone behind bars?
Joining me from Los Angeles is more -- for more is Addiction Specialist Dr. Drew Pinski.
What do you make of this, Dr. Drew? Do you buy it?
DR. DREW PINSKY, DISCOVERY HEALTH HOST: Well, no, I don't. The fact is that ADD is a common condition and it's not something that is going to get people tossed out of jail, frankly.
If somebody doesn't take their ADD medication, they may not be able to concentrate so well. They may not feel so great, but it is really not something that's going to precipitate psychiatric instability. Clearly, there is more to be revealed here. If there is a sufficiently severe psychiatric condition to scare a sheriff, there must be something more than ADD. And claustrophobia is really just a symptom. It really -- it doesn't really mean anything. I mean, any of us would feel sort of like we were in a cage if we were locked in a jail cell.
COOPER: Yes, that was her quote to Barbara Walters. She says that she was reassigned because she was not -- she says, "I was not eating or sleeping. I was severely depressed and felt as if I was in a cage.
What -- how quickly can one become severely depressed? I mean, so severely depressed that, you know, you need immediate medical attention?
PINSKY: Well, you can. I mean, that's certainly a possibility here. It really depends on people's preexisting condition. There's so many things that can factor into a depression. It can be -- listen, in my -- in my world, somebody that loses their access to drugs and alcohol become severely depressed.
So there are a lot of things. Look, just coming to terms with the consequences of a behavior. Sometimes it finally gets through and that precipitates some depressant symptom otology.
But again, in jails, people are accustomed to this. People threaten suicide, they go on suicide watch. There are jail wards that are there specifically to accommodate psychiatric pathologies. I don't understand why she wasn't referred to those initially. It's hard to understand.
COOPER: Also, if she was truly suicidal or extremely depressed upon leaving jail you would think she would go to a -- some sort of hospital or medical facility or you'd think her family would take her there as opposed to back to her home.
PINSKY: Right, exactly. The fact is she would be much safer in a contained environment like jail than in her home.
So the point here, I think, is that we're missing pieces of this puzzle. There has really got to be more to be revealed about her medical and psychiatric condition that would explain why she was so distressed and why the sheriff was so frightened by this.
COOPER: She said this jail time, you know, the few days that she's already spent there has changed her, that she used to just play dumb and that that's no longer -- I forgot the word she said -- cute or whatever. I'm not sure it was ever really all that cute for a 26- year-old person to be playing so dumb if it was in fact an act.
Does someone change spiritually overnight?
PINSKY: Well, you know, I'll tell you what, you know, in my -- I work in the world of sustained change and difficult change and sometimes a spiritual experience, a very profound consequence does get people on the track to change. But usually a spiritual experience by itself isn't sufficient to sustain a change. You have to do something about it. It's interesting that Paris spoke about no longer wanting to drink and drive, but you don't see her say I'll never drink again and that really is a concern.
So if she has this spiritual awakening, and that's great that she's sort of become acutely aware that she's been given an opportunity for change and that interestingly she's talking about being of service to other people, which is also a very positive change. But she is going to have to participate in some sort of a treatment process to sustain that change.
COOPER: Or even getting a job would be a good step, perhaps.
PINSKY: Thank you, Anderson.
That -- that's a great idea. You don't want to go too far out, but that would be a great idea.
You know, speaking to that point, her previous job was as a reality TV show star, really, and we just completed a study on celebrities. We issued something called the narcissistic personality inventory and we discovered -- not so much to our surprise -- we were able to prove though that people of celebrity status, people who need to be a celebrity, come to their celebrity status with a very high probability of narcissistic traits. Particularly, interestingly female reality show contestants or participants.
And so we know that this is somebody who has certain character logical issues that is going to make this whole process very difficult, very unstable, prone to depression. And when you crack through some of that defense, they can come crashing down and feel really horrible and have severe depressions.
COOPER: It just amazes me that any young girl would look at her and look up to her or think she has anything to offer to anybody at this point in her life.
PINSKY: Well, yes. And it's scary that she wants to do a dollhouse, too. But she has become a lightning rod for -- I tell you, I deal a lot with adolescence, and she's become a lightning rod for discussion about what not to be and what happens and how to bear up under consequences. And the young people feel very strongly that people should accept their consequences. So it's become an opportunity to discuss important topics.
COOPER: Interesting. Dr. Drew Pinsky, thanks very much.
PINSKY: My pleasure.
COOPER: Ahead tonight on 360, the legal uncertainties faced by her. We'll see if she really is a changed woman and legally what's going to happen now.
Plus, they duked it out in New Hampshire a week ago. Who got the biggest boost from the Democratic debate? Who do you think? Well, you might be surprised. All that and more when 360 continues.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sir, back up! Back up! (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Watch your back!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, from the costar of "The Simple Life," it is the reality show from hell. The one with jail time and no easy way out. That is the life the inmate is famous for being famous is getting used to now.
Senior Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin has tried and covered some very important legal cases over the years and this is surely at the top of his list. Jeffrey joins me now.
So how likely she's going to get out early?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Probably pretty likely. You know, she's got about two weeks to go.
But Anderson, you know, I was listening to what you were saying with Drew Pinsky. I mean, this is such an unbelievable outrage.
You know, I just read a recent study, you know, talking about this subject -- 14 percent of prison inmates have an actual mental illness like schizophrenia. Half of prison inmates have symptoms of mental illness, like for example claustrophobia.
So if claustrophobia entitles you to get out of prison or ADD, which can be found in practically anyone, that means that, you know, we'd empty half the prisons. I mean, it is such a shocking example of how a privileged wealthy person gets a completely different class of justice. It's really, you know, just shocking.
COOPER: Well, I mean, prisons have literally become storing, you know, depositories for the mentally ill. And so the notion that just because she's, you know, claustrophobic and has ADD and feels really depressed, that that would get her out is just ludicrous.
TOOBIN: For the actually mentally ill, you know, people with diseases that have real diagnosis, like schizophrenia, and over the past couple of decades, we've had tremendous deinstitutionalization from mental hospitals. People being -- mental hospitals being shut down, people sent into the streets and they often wind up getting thrown into prisons.
In Florida, not too long ago, a judge threatened to shut down a prison because so many mentally ill people were there, not criminals.
And here you have a situation with someone who is a pain in the neck, but clearly not mentally ill, and she's the one who gets out of prison. COOPER: Well, I was told that on Friday that anyone, if they had a private psychiatrist who came and alerted authorities to a dangerous condition, that they would get the same level of treatment. I find that to be impossible to believe.
TOOBIN: Absurd, outrageous. Not even possible. So anyone with a psychiatrist -- look, most people can, if families can afford a visit from a psychiatrist. If they get a psychiatrist to come in and say, you know, it would be better for my patient's mental health to let them out, they got out? Nonsense, never happens.
COOPER: So what happens to her -- I mean, she gets out whenever she gets out, whether it's a week or two weeks or her whole sentence, which I think right now is, you know, a total of 23 days, she's still going to be on probation for the next three years, correct?
TOOBIN: Right. And if she violates probation again, she's subject to be thrown back in.
I love that she told Barbara Walters that she wasn't going to drink and drive anymore. That's like a bank robber coming out of prison, saying, you know, I'm not going to rob banks anymore. Well, you know, that's -- I'm glad she's not going to do that. But I don't think she gets brownie points for saying she's not going to violate the law anymore. That's not exactly evidence that this is a person who's really come to terms with her crime. Not that we should expect it.
COOPER: No, I guess not.
Jeffrey Toobin, appreciate your perspective. Thanks.
COOPER: Coming up tonight on 360, shifting political fortune. Some surprising new polling figures show who among the Democrats gained and who lost after last week's CNN presidential debates. Who do you think was the number one winner? Well, we'll tell you, ahead.
And President Bush just back from his European tour. Senior Political Correspondent Candy Crowley takes a hard look at troubles ahead here at home.
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TONY GUGLIUZZA, NEW ORLEANS RESIDENT: That's typical of New Orleans. A big family. One big family. And people who stayed here, it's pretty much a gut check at this point. How much do we really love New Orleans? And it really is a gut check. I mean, because every corner we try it get around, it's tough, you know. It's a struggle. Nothing is easy, but we'll make it. We'll definitely make it.
(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: It is tough, but they are not giving up. You hear that a lot in New Orleans, almost two years after Katrina. More from New Orleans, ahead.
Right now, though, we turn to the campaign trail. It's been a week since the Democratic presidential contenders faced off in New Hampshire.
All eight did their best to stand out from the crowded field and try to win over the voters. Tonight, a look at whether that worked. There are new poll numbers and some fascinating numbers. Here's CNN's Bill Schneider.
BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In early April, New Hampshire Democrats were all over the place. Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, John Edwards, very closely matched.
Jump ball. Who jumped highest after the debate? Clinton increased her lead. Obama held fairly steady, while Edwards lost support. The debate helped get Bill Richardson into the game. His support has reached double digits. Clinton impressed Democrats by taking charge.
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The differences among us are minor. The differences between us and the Republicans are major.
SCHNEIDER: Asked which candidate is the strongest leader, Democrats picked Clinton hands down. None of the guys even came close. But can she be elected? Democrats think so. They see Clinton as the candidate with the best chance of beating the Republican next year.
But do Democrats think she's likable? Not so much. Clinton runs third on likeability. Obama comes across as most likable.
Here's the way he answered a question about making English the official language.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And when we get distracted by those kinds of question, I think we do a disservice to the American people.
SCHNEIDER: Edwards may have lost points because he criticized other Democrats.
JOHN EDWARDS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Senator Clinton and Senator Obama did not say anything about how they were going to vote until -- until they appeared on the floor of the Senate and voted. They were among the last people to vote.
SCHNEIDER: Richardson may have gained points because he sounded firm and decisive. GOVERNMENT. BILL RICHARDSON (D), NEW MEXICO: As first day as president, I would shut down Guantanamo. I would shut down Abu Ghraib and secret prisons.
SCHNEIDER: The key factor behind Clinton's lead? Women. Clinton leads Obama by two to one among Democratic women. Among Democratic men, Clinton and Obama are just about tied.
(on camera): Among Democrats, the war in Iraq now overwhelms all other issues -- 57 percent of New Hampshire Democrats say Iraq is the most important issue for their vote. That's up from 39 percent in April.
Bill Schneider, CNN, Washington.
COOPER: Joining me now, our political round table. Jennifer Donahue, a senior adviser for political affairs at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at St. Anselm College. Amy Holmes is a conservative political analyst and former speech writer for Senator Bill Frist. And CNN Contributor Paul Begala is a Democratic strategist and a former adviser to Bill Clinton.
Paul, let me start with you. As we just saw, the importance of Iraq has increased significantly as has Senator Clinton's lead. Does that mean that her vote authorizing the president to go to war in 2002 is not hurting her as some thought it would?
PAUL BEGALA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes. And I'm as surprised as anybody. This poll actually explodes a lot of myths. And that's one of them.
You know, Senator Clinton has rather stubbornly refused to apologize for her vote in support of the war. Now, she, of course, does oppose the war now and supported legislation that President Bush vetoed that had a timeline to remove the troops.
But her position on the war has been less, say stridently anti- war than some her opponents, particularly John Edwards. And yet, there she is rising in the poll even as concern about Iraq rises. I suspect people are saying, look, I don't perfectly agree with her or certainly where she was a few years ago on the war, but I think they respect her strength.
COOPER: Amy, could it also be partially her debate performances?
AMY HOLMES, CONSERVATIVE POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, I think it is, Anderson. And that's a big surprise to me after working in the Senate for three years and hearing here in the well there. I wouldn't say that public speaking is her strength. She tends to have this sort of a brittle delivery. But she has been able to turn that around and have that interpreted as strength. So like Paul, I'm surprised by these polls, but there's also something here to also consider, which is Democrats are still very dubious about her electability. Likeability has never been her strength, but going into a general, Dems are still, you know, a little worried that with her 100 percent name ID, her 51 percent unfavorable rating, it's going to be hard to move those numbers.
COOPER: Yes, and Jennifer, likeability is certainly not her strength. Obama is viewed as far more likable than Clinton, yet he's fallen further behind in the polls. What does that show to you?
JENNIFER DONAHUE, NEW HAMPSHIRE INSTITUTE OF POLITICS: Well, I think in part it's the attention Senator Clinton got for her vote on the surge. This has been the deadliest couple of months since we began the war in Iraq, truly by twofold. And I think she's getting credit for good judgment in part.
Also, you have to look at what's going on on the ground up in New Hampshire, which is that she's investing time here.
Obama has spent less time here over the past month or so. He continues to draw big crowds, but where Hillary's number is really coming from is Senator Edwards who has not spent much time in the state and his nine points got transferred right to Senator Clinton.
COOPER: Yes, I mean, Paul, Edwards lost almost half his support in New Hampshire since April. Is it just that he's not spending time there or was he too combative in the debate?
BEGALA: Yes, I'm not sure if it's that or if it is as one Democratic strategist who does not work for Senator Edwards said to me today, John has only had two kinds of stories. One that got him on Jay Leno and one that got him in "People" magazine.
The Jay Leno story, of course, is the famous $400 haircut. The "People" magazine story is, of course, his wife, Elizabeth, being sick with cancer. Both of those stories have sort of moved through the system now.
And it may be that the haircut and worries about whether he's authentic as a populist when he's a multimillionaire and worked for a hedge fund, maybe those things are getting in the way of Edwards.
But I'm a bit surprised. I like attacks. And so I liked it when Edwards, you know, went after these folks. I want more of that, but apparently it doesn't seem to be working for John Edwards, so we may see less.
COOPER: And Amy, for Clinton, you think it gets down to electability, people starting to believe she is electable, not necessarily likable, but could get elected?
A. HOLMES: Well, that's the open question, Anderson -- 37 percent of Dems said that she was electable. Well, that's not a great number. If you were to look on the Republican side, Rudy Giuliani has a 74 percent favorability rating among Republican voters and McCain has 58 in the general population. The two Republican, top Republicans, have mid 50s to low 60s.
So, I think Democrats are going to be looking at this very carefully, very closely. And with John Edwards, I would also add to what Paul was saying, is that he's been very lackluster and lacking in energy in these debates. And he has sort of this like this mopey thing that he's been doing on stage and he's got to step it up if he's going to grab the public's attention.
COOPER: You know, Jennifer, though, Joe Biden certainly seemed to grab some analysts' attention. They said he put a strong performance in the debate last weekend in New Hampshire, but it was Governor Bill Richardson among the second tier candidates who really got a bounce in the polls.
DONAHUE: Absolutely. And I think that's because of the way Richardson is connecting. And again, It's the time investment in the state, it's the retail politics. Richardson has spent the time here. Over the past month, he's been here a lot.
Biden hasn't been up here -- a little bit, but not a lot.
But the bottom line is, New Hampshire winnows the field. So anybody under 10 percent or just above 10 percent is fighting just to stay in it.
And during July and August, we're going to see a further winnowing. So where we thought we saw sort of a bifurcated frontrunner with Hillary Clinton and Obama, there continues to be a strong race there. The question is, what will happen over the summer when the voters are still watching, but the candidates' attention is drawn elsewhere with a frontloaded calendar.
COOPER: Well, it's getting more and more interesting.
Jennifer Donahue, appreciate it.
Paul Begala, Amy Holmes, thanks.
A. HOLMES: Thank you.
COOPER: The presidential contenders fight to get ahead, with the current president battling to stay afloat.
Still ahead, President Bush as lame duck. The struggles he faces at home as the clock ticks down on his presidency. 360, next.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COOPER: In Bulgaria today, President Bush greeted veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It was the last stop on his eight- day European trip. Mr. Bush got a warm welcome in the Balkans, especially yesterday in tiny Albania. But his troubles back home were never far away.
Today, reporters pressed him about the stalled immigration reform bill. He's expected to meet with the Republican Senators tomorrow to try to salvage that bill, but he won't be operating from a position of strength.
With that, here's CNN's Candy Crowley.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): You know things are bad when your best crowds are in Albania.
The reception is less enthused back home, where the president looks into the legislative void left when his immigration bill went under.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And I believe we can get it done. I'll see you at the bill signing.
CROWLEY: He talks a good game, but there are indications the president has lost his game. At least his ability to play offense. His poll ratings are terrible, the clock is running out and members of his own party are not afraid to go up against him.
Consider that on immigration reform, the bill the president saw as the centerpiece for his second term, 38 of 48 Republicans basically bucked him. Essentially, this president is a short timer and constituents are forever.
STU ROTHENBERG, THE ROTHENBERG REPORT: I think increasingly they're viewing him as part of history, the past, not the future. They're looking out for themselves and they're listening to their constituents, not the White House.
CROWLEY: And then there is this.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: And Americans have made great sacrifices, some of which were unnecessary because of this management of the war -- mismanagement of this conflict.
CROWLEY: John McCain is regarded as the war's biggest supporter, he is clearly not George Bush's.
On the campaign trail, Republicans are cutting loose from George Bush, whether it is at war -- or U.S. image abroad.
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I do think that we have suffered over the past several years for a number of reasons and I think you probably know what they are.
CROWLEY: If he is to get something done in the election season, the president may have better luck with Democrats.
ROTHENBERG: A problem may be developing for Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and Congressional Democrats. They do want to accomplish something significant. They want to be able to go to the voters in 2008 and say, see we took over Congress and we did this.
CROWLEY: Though badly wounded at home, the president remains the leader of the free world. He still runs U.S. foreign policy. There is opportunity there.
DAVID GERGEN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: Possibly, he can pull something out with Iraq. He's got the possibility of negotiating still with the Israelis and Palestinians. You know, he could possibly pull something out on climate change as he demonstrated with G8.
CROWLEY: The White House bites back at suggestions the president's twilight has begun. Officials say he has what they call a very active legislative slate which brings us back to the resurrection of immigration.
BUSH: And tomorrow I'll be going to the Senate to talk about a way forward on the piece of legislation.
CROWLEY: But with an election season to find his replacement bearing down on him, this 32 percent president is running out of tomorrows.
Candy Crowley, CNN, Washington.
COOPER: Well, the Democrats and some Republicans today tried to go after the president's attorney general. But a no confidence vote on Alberto Gonzales never made it to the floor. A look at what backfired, next on 360.
COOPER: Alberto Gonzales dodged a symbolic bullet today. Senate Republicans managed to block a no confidence vote on the embattled attorney general. This, of course, as President Bush reaffirmed his support for Gonzales as he wrapped up his European trip.
Joining me now is CNN's Senior Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin.
Jeffrey, seven republicans voted in the no confidence vote against Attorney General Gonzales, but the White House reiterated its support for him. So there's, I mean, there's nothing that can be done at this point, right?
TOOBIN: He's there to stay. The attorney general has the support of the president and he, by all indications, will serve out his term. But he is a crippled, embarrassed, disgraced, largely ineffective attorney general who is widely despised within the Department of Justice. But he's going to be there. And he survived.
COOPER: So why would he stay? I mean, why would he want to do that to the Department of Justice if all of that is true?
TOOBIN: Well, I think he feels that nothing criminal or -- or any active misconduct has been proven against him. And I think he's a proud person who doesn't want to give his enemies the satisfaction of forcing him out of office and create a problem for President Bush of trying to confirm someone with just now a shrinking number of months left in the Bush presidency.
But it's a pretty meager and diminished job that he's hanging onto.
COOPER: What happened with the ruling today about enemy combatants? Exactly what was determined?
TOOBIN: Well, this was yet another legal setback for the Bush administration's war on terror. One person, this man named al-Marri, who was accused of being part of a sleeper cell was arrested in Illinois. He was a legal resident of the United States. And he's been held for four years as an enemy combatant.
Again the Bush administration is trying to create a separate new category for these war on terror prisoners. They're not criminal defendants, they're not the subject of court martials, they are in this new category where they have fewer rights. And time after time, the courts have said no, this category you have created is not constitutionally appropriate.
And here yet again, the administration has been told by a very conservative court, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, that this system is not good enough for this defendant.
It only applies to him. But again, it's another legal setback for the administration in trying to craft a way to try these people without giving them very many rights.
COOPER: All right, Jeffrey, we appreciate it. Thanks, Jeff.
TOOBIN: OK, Anderson.
COOPER: Just ahead tonight, another case of tuberculosis. This time the victim is dead. The authorities are looking for anyone who might have been exposed.
Plus, new developments in the case of the man who touched off the international TB scare. We'll have that next on 360.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EMILY FRISCHHERTZ, NEW ORLEANS RESIDENT: I'm enjoying it. This is home for me. You know, despite the crime and the lack of education and public schools, this is home. You know.
It's, you know, the culture is fun and it's got a beat about it and I enjoy stepping to that beat. (END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: And we are joining you live from New Orleans. You're looking at a pumping station, the 17th Street Canal, one of the several pump stations that have been built. The hope that this will help contain any large storms or any surge of flooding that comes and hits New Orleans this summer or in the summers to come.
We'll be seeing if it works. There have been some real questions raised about whether this pump station works. An Army Corps of Engineer report raises some serious doubts about it. Let's see if it's put to the test this summer.
Tom Foreman joins us right now with a 360 news and business bulletin -- Tom.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Anderson.
We begin with an investigation into a death in Colorado from tuberculosis. The victim, a 19-year-old student from Nepal, who died shortly after arriving at a hospital on Friday. State health officials are now trying to track down people who may have had contact with this woman. Authorities say it's unlikely the woman had the same drug resistant form of TB as the man who touched off the recent international tuberculosis scare.
And there's a new development in that case. The border officer who ignored warnings and let Andrew Speaker back into the U.S. from Canada is out of a job. Homeland Security officials say the officer has been granted a request for early retirement.
Another health warning tonight. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University, predicting the number of people with Alzheimer's disease will quadruple worldwide in the next four decades. An estimated 26 million people now suffering from the brain destroying disease worldwide. Half of them are in Asia.
And pretty much a wash on Wall Street today. The week opening with little change from Friday's big rally. The Dow rising about half a point to 13424. The NASDAQ down just over a point, for a close of 2572. And S&P 500 closing at 1509, a gain of almost a half a point there.
Anderson, it seems like they're only half trying on Wall Street today.
COOPER: Tom, thanks.
Don't miss the day's headlines with the 360 daily podcast. You don't need an iPod. You can watch it on your computer at CNN.com/AC360podcast or get to the iTunes store.
Now, here's John Roberts with what's coming up tomorrow on "AMERICAN MORNING."
JOHN ROBERTS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The great New York taxicab challenge is coming up, Anderson. New York's entire taxi fleet is going hybrid over the next five years. We caught up with a cabby who has already made the investment of a hybrid taxi. And we found a cabby who drives a regular gas-powered minivan. They're hitting the streets of New York and tomorrow we'll find out how much they've spent and how far they've gone.
The head-to-head New York taxi challenge, tomorrow, on "AMERICAN MORNING," beginning at 6:00 Eastern.
Anderson, back to you.
COOPER: John, thanks.
For our international viewers, "CNN TODAY" is coming up next.
Here in America, "LARRY KING" is coming up.
Thanks very much for watching us live from New Orleans. We'll see you again.
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