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Iowa's Caucuses Near; Pakistan's Crisis; More Winter Weather

Aired December 30, 2007 - 17:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ISHA SESAY, HOST: The first major contest of the 2008 presidential campaign is just four days away. And with the New Year's holiday looming between now and then, candidates are trying to make the most of this final weekend. Both the Republican and Democratic races are too close to call. CNN's senior political correspondent, Candy Crowley caught up with one of the contenders, Democrat, John Edwards. I'm pleased to say she joins us now live from Carroll, Iowa. And Candy, what have to say to you?
CANDY CROWLEY, SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I'll tell you. This is one very hopeful campaign, it's not just because of the polls that you see which show Edwards in a three-way tie with Obama and Clinton, but it's really because they say of the feel that they're getting, of the responses they're getting on the phone, on the doors that they're knocking on and with the candidate themselves. They have three targets really. They have the voter that is undecided. They want to get the voter that has decided for Edwards to come out and they say they've even changing some minds.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY (on camera): They've heard you a lot over the last couple of years. If they're undecided now, why would they come to you at this point? Haven't you pretty been much saying the same thing?

JOHN EDWARDS, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There's a couple of reasons. One, I think there's a fire and passion in what I'm doing now. That's hard to maintain over a very long period of time. We're in the closing now and I know how to close here. The second thing is, this message of ending corporate greed and standing up for the middle class and jobs in this country, this resonates with people. It just does. And I think with Iowans by nature, they wait until they have to make a decision or (INAUDIBLE). I mean, there's no reason for them to decide before they have to decide. And now, we're at a place that they're going to have to decide and I think we're in an awfully good place.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: They also I should think that they're in a pretty good place when it comes to second choice. In these Democratic caucuses, it matters whether or not you're someone's second choice, because some people may have to switch sides because they don't hit a certain threshold within those caucuses. And John Edwards says, from their polling and from the polling in fact that we're seeing, he is the second choice among a lot of voters. So, that gives them some hope here at the Edwards' campaign. SESAY: And Candy, one of the things I read from one analyst is that Edwards is ferocious in his message out there. He's not backing down; he's taking it with passion and with power. This theme of America rising. Tell us a little bit more about it.

CROWLEY: Absolutely. It's a very, very populous message. Very different from the John Edwards that we heard in 2004. But he has been, since he entered this cycle, a very much about corporate greed destroying America. He has said, listen, there will be no lobbyist in my White House, no lobbyists who have funded my campaign. He's been very, very tough on what he calls the greedy, the CEOs that are making hundreds of millions dollars a year. He says at the expense of middle class voters. He talks a lot about how the reason we don't have universal healthcare in the country is because the people at the table are the insurance companies and the pharmaceutical companies and he said, they don't have a place when we are trying to decide this. So, his message is very much middle class needs to take back America. And it's been consistent throughout.

SESAY: All right. Candy Crowley then from Carroll, Iowa. (INUADIBLE) Thank you as always. Well, Iowa's Republican race is tight, too. The latest Mason-Dickson poll shows Mitt Romney locked in a close race with Mike Huckabee. CNN's Mary Snow followed the Romney campaign to Iowa City and see we got her now joining us. And Mary, Mitt Romney has been the recipient of some very scathing attacks in the last couple of hours from Mike Huckabee. How is he responding, what's the camp saying?

MARY SNOW, IOWA CITY, IOWA: Well, you know, he really isn't responding at these campaign events. Although, Mitt Romney took an ad out that began airing in this state on Friday that takes direct aim at Mike Huckabee, questioning him on some of his issues. When he's been campaigning here in Iowa, he really has been holding back and let his ads do the talking and he hasn't been talking about Mike Huckabee the way he has been in the past. When we asked him about these attacks, Mike Huckabee calling him pretty much, saying that he's desperate at this point, Mitt Romney, and that his ads are dishonest. Here's how Romney responded.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I know that I and my team are going to do our best to focus on issues, to point out the contrasts between me and others on issues. But I'm going to try to keep this from being a personal matter and personal attacks; I just don't think it served the candidate or the process very well.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SNOW: Now, instead, Romney has been trying to focus on getting his message out. He says, here in Iowa City, made a sport analogy as he greeted crowds saying that he wants to revisit the Olympics that he once headed in Salt Lake City, saying he wants to go for the gold. But, he admits this is a very close race and this is a state where he once had a comfortable lead. We've seen that lead eroded because of Mike Huckabee and now Mitt Romney is stacking his schedule these next few days in this very crucial time to try to get out the vote. And that's really the main theme here is getting people who go to caucuses to get out and vote for him. And he's been trying to portray himself as someone in the eyes of Ronald Reagan, as a fiscal conservative Republican. And he's been drumming home that theme as he makes these stops along the way and trying to kind of disengage from some of the negative attacks that he has had in the past when he's openly talked about his rivals. Now he's taking a gentler tone.

SESAY: And Mary, what can you tell us about this bogus holiday card that is being sent to residents in South Carolina, I believe, and it's purportedly from Mitt Romney's family. What do we know?

SNOW: Well, this mailing went out in South Carolina over the last week and you know, the fact that Mitt Romney's religion, he's a Mormon, it has been coming up on the campaign trail and what happened is these mailers went out that appear to be a Christmas card from the Romney's. But inside, what appeared to be a scripture really talked about the fact that God had multiple wives and that Jesus was a son of one of those wives, obviously referring to polygamy which no longer is part of the Mormon faith. So, the Romney campaign is saying that they don't know the source of this, saying it's a contemptible piece of mail, whoever responsible of it should be ashamed of themselves. The chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party, asking authorities to look into it. But this is one of the negative mailings that have been going out, trying to really be a negative, nasty mailing in South Carolina to these Republican primary voters.

SESAY: All right. Mary Snow, there in Iowa, many thanks.

Also campaigning in Iowa today, Democrat, Barack Obama. CNN's Suzanne Malveaux is on the election express in Indianola, Iowa and she joins us now. And Suzanne, in the wake of the assassination of Pakistani former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, the front running candidates from the Democratic Party have been flexing their foreign policy chops should we say and they have been jumping to say they had more experience. As the clock ticks down, is that still the message from the Barack Obama camp? I mean, what are they talking about today?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, INDIANOLA, IOWA: You're hearing a lot less about Pakistan. That was something that all of the candidates jumped on very quickly, especially those who had more foreign policy experience, those who had direct links to Benazir Bhutto, that coming from Senator Hillary Clinton. We heard from Governor Richardson talking about the fact that he believes that Musharraf should step down. A couple of the candidates themselves, Senator Biden reaching out to Musharraf as well, Senator Edwards reaching out to Musharraf themselves, picking up the phone, making those calls, proving that they have a kind of relationship, a direct link to Musharraf to really be big players when it comes to foreign policy. Senator Barack Obama, who has been touring today, he's really been stressing the need for change, that these relationships obviously will come but there is need to be very forceful in this international investigation. I have to tell you, Barack Obama, really the whole tone of the message, the way he's delivering it, has really dramatically evolved and has changed. It is simple, it is punchy, it's direct. At times, he used his humor, he says that he has a cadence where he's very repetitive, if you believe, if you believe, then, I'm the one to vote for. When he talks about civil liberties, he says he taught the Constitution and he believes in the Constitution, therefore, as president he'll follow the Constitution. The bottom line of his message here is that he says he's the one who is most electable out of the group. He says Senator Hillary Clinton that the number when it comes to her likeability factor, that they just aren't high enough to be elected nationally. He talks about Senator John Edwards, how he had too much of a centrist approach, that he is not going to be the person to go after those special interest groups the way he would. And then we heard a lot about him talking about this message of hope. Well, he's starting to define what hope really is. He says to people, it's doing what you never thought was possible. He talks about abolishing slavery, talks about the civil rights marches. And then, one thing that got my attention here and really got the crowd going, and I'm going to quote him here, he says that when you're a black guy running for president named Barack Obama, you've got to have hope. And the audience just burst out laughing. You could tell that they could relate, they could identify. He is essentially telling them I know this is a risk, I know this is something that requires faith. But that it's worth it, Isha.

SESAY: And Suzanne, in that statement that you quote of him, you know, if you're a black guy, you have to have hope, you know, reference to race there, which is not something that's been front and center in the Barack Obama campaign. I mean, what's your sense? Are we going to see more of this, more maybe references to race, how is it going to play out that issue? Because many are still talking about it, even if the candidate himself isn't.

MALVEAUX: Sure, sure. And you know, what's fascinating about this is that in Iowa, the state of Iowa, two percent is the black population, three percent of Hispanic population. You look at his audiences; they're about as diverse as they can be within the state population. So, you know, it is a risk to go out and say something like this. But I think what the message is here he's telling people I know you get it, that we all have things that we overcome and this is about having faith and overcoming those types of obstacles. I spoke with some of Obama's aides yesterday about the strategy moving forward. Obviously, it is all about getting people to come out and vote. They are mobilizing all precinct, all 37 of their campaign headquarters throughout the state, they are making phone calls, they are doing door to door and interestingly enough that really, kind of shows you who their groups, their camps are. On the one hand the Clinton folks, they are providing, they have bought some 600 snow shovels to dig people if necessary, if it is icy or snowy caucus night because a lot of her supporters are elderly women and they want to make sure they can get out there to those sites. The Obama camp on the other hand, they're offering free babysitting services for 90 minutes or so because they say the group they're really focused on are those under 45 years old, they're more men, so that's who they're trying to hit, that's who they're trying to target.

SESAY: All right. Suzanne Malveaux in Indianola, Iowa, pleasure to have you with us. Many thanks. Now a couple of presidential candidates have moved on from Iowa, including Rudy Giuliani, who you see there. He's campaigning in New Hampshire right now. We'll take you there live at the bottom of the hour.

After the last-minute campaigning, it will be the people's turn. CNN's special coverage of the Iowa caucuses begins at 8:00 eastern on Thursday night. It's an unpredictable election year. So, you won't want to miss a minute of our coverage, the CNN Election Center. The Iowa caucuses Thursday night beginning at 8:00 eastern.

A son with big shoes to fill. Benazir Bhutto's party gets a new leader. Plus: Ed Henry is in Crawford, Texas.

ED HENRY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Isha. The president is trying to get some downtime here before he tackles some major foreign policy challenges in the New Year. Those candidates Suzanne Malveaux is talking about, they don't have time to relax. They're stumping for votes and trying to prove they can be commander in chief. That story coming up in the NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SESAY: Some startling new images today showing the assassination of Pakistan's Benazir Bhutto captured from a different angle than we had seen. You can hear the shots ring out then, an explosion. And for the first time, you can see the opposition leader as she ducks back into the car amid the gunfire. Also new today, the Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf is speaking to British and French leaders. He said to be warming to the idea of outside help in the investigation into Bhutto's death. No change in stance there for Bhutto's husband, still adamantly against an autopsy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. ASIF ALI ZARDARI, BENAZIR BHUTTO'S WIDOWER: I have lived in this country long enough to know how and where, where the autopsies are done and how they are done. It was an insult to the -- to my wife, to the sister of the nation, to the mother of the nation. If I was to give my -- her last remains to be post mortem and I know that their forensics reports are useless. We know what the wound is. We know how it was done. We have a dying declaration here with us. We don't need post mortem to prove the death.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SESAY: Well, Bhutto's death has thrust her teenage son into the spotlight. It was announced today, he'll take up the mantle as the leader of the Pakistan People's Party. John Vause explains that the 19-year-old was not his mother's own first choice.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The third and final day of official mourning for Benazir Bhutto began with prayers, tears, and much confusion as to who will take her place as leader of the people's party. More than a thousand loyal supporters gathered outside the Bhutto family compound as the family read Benazir Bhutto's will to find out who she wanted to be her successor. The same will that her husband says she updated just days before returning to Pakistan from her self-imposed exile on October. But in the crush of Pakistani politics, many from the party executives, responsible for making a final decision, were left stuck outside the compound.

VAUSE (on camera): What's happening is that the party workers are also outside this door. They want to attend the meeting and they're not going anywhere.

(voice over): Eventually security gave way. The heavy steel doors opened and hundreds rushed in. Those chaotic (ph) and once inside, they made their feelings known.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (translator): We want Bhutto family in the People's Party.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (translator): The Bhutto family in particularly within the Bhutto family we have trust upon.

VAUSE: In the end, Benazir Bhutto named her husband, Asif Zardari as her successor, but he handed power to his son, Bilawal, a student at Oxford, just 19-years-old.

BILAWAL ZARDARI, CHAIRMAN, PAKISTAN PEOPLE'S PARTY: My mother always said, democracy is the best revenge.

VAUSE: He's now the third generation of this political dynasty. Benazir Bhutto took over from her father who was executed by a military dictator.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When political leaders die seeking high office, there it is seen as the blood sacrifice and really the only way of dealing with it is to pass on political leadership, succession of political leadership through a blood relative.

VAUSE: Bilawal will wait until finishing university before taking over. Until then, senior party advisers will take charge even so, this teenager with no political experience has now been thrust to the center of the treacherous world of Pakistani politics. John Vause, CNN, Naudero, Pakistan.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SESAY: Well, presidential candidates here in the U.S. are weighing in on the developments in Pakistan. Let's go now and join our White House correspondent, Ed Henry. He's with the president in Crawford, Texas. And Ed, all of the candidates eager to show that they have what it takes to deal with an international crisis.

ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: You're absolutely right, Isha. The president is here, of course, nearing the end of his time in office, trying to get some rest before he heads to the mid east at the beginning of January for a big peace mission there. But you're right; the candidates, they don't have the luxury to relax. They've got to get out on the stump and try and prove they can be commander in chief.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HENRY (voice over): With the Iowa caucuses now just days away, presidential candidates are counting their foreign policy bona fides, by trying to show they understand the crisis in Pakistan has major ramifications for U.S. security.

JOHN MCCAIN, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think we ought to know who's the winners and losers here when this tragic assassination of Benazir Bhutto and al Qaeda/Taliban are the ones that win when chaos ensues.

HENRY: Democrat Joe Biden noted while Bhutto's son and husband are taking over her party duties, the 19-year-old is busy studying at Oxford University, sparking even more uncertainty.

JOSEPH BIDEN, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's obvious that her son will not be the next prime minister, assuming her party wins. The real question is whether or not her husband is going to be a caretaker prime minister and appoint someone that in fact is -- choose someone in fact who may or may not have the support of the people of Pakistan.

HENRY: Republican Mike Huckabee said while the world waits for the parliamentary elections, the U.S. has little recourse but to stick with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf.

MIKE HUCKABEE, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Right now, Musharraf despite some of the concerns we have about him represents at least some level of security, more so than if he were ousted immediately.

HENRY: Democrat Hillary Clinton expressed a similar sentiment but put the onus on Musharraf to show he's serious about cracking down on terror.

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is an opportunity for President Musharraf to step up and actually fulfill many of the words and promises that he's made to me and to many others over the course of a number of years.

HENRY: Biden thinks if Musharraf flunks that test and fails to conduct a credible investigation of Bhutto's murder, billions of dollars in U.S. should be cut off. But Republican Fred Thompson suggested, such pressure might topple Musharraf and leave Pakistan's nuclear weapons in the hands of extremists.

FRED THOMPSON, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is a matter of stability in the only Muslim world with nuclear weapons. So, let's not be penny wise and pound foolish in the short run here.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HENRY (on camera): Now, all of the candidates are pretty much in agreement that what's key would be free and fair elections in Pakistan, not certainly on the date whether it happens on January 8 or not, and not pretty squares where President Bush is. He doesn't want to appear to be meddling in Pakistani affair. A White House spokesman today said, basically, the key is to get Pakistan on a path to democracy. The timing is up to them, Isha.

SESAY: All right. Ed Henry, our White House correspondent there with the president in Crawford, Texas. (INAUDIBLE) Many thanks.

HENRY: Thank you.

SESAY: Well, no such thing as a happy medium in the drought dry southeast, parts of the region swamped by a couple of days of heavy rain. Reynolds Wolf is keeping a close eye on things. He joins us next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SESAY: When it rains, well, you know the rest. It's been pouring across parts of the drought-stricken southeast with Atlanta seeing a full straight day of rain today. Some areas of the city saw bit too much. Dry creek beds overflowed leading to flatted flooding. Forecasters say despite the good soaking, 2007 will still go down as one of the Atlanta's driest years on record. Well, let's join our Reynolds Wolf in the weather center. And Reynolds, you just can't strike a happy medium, can you?

REYNOLDS WOLF, METEOROLOGIST: You know what? Let's find out. Hold on just one second. Let's listen. I don't hear anyone complaining. No one is complaining about the rainfall in the southeast. And obviously, if you had to deal with some flooding, then it's obviously a pain. But overwhelmingly, people are happy about the rain they've had. Today was interesting in Atlanta, the official rainfall total so far is 1.26. That puts us just at the second driest; we're not going to be the driest year ever. That was at least a record in history that was set back in 1954. We just beat it one hundredth of an inch of rain and now much of that rainfall is driving off towards the east. So, again, certainly a good thing, still have a drought situation. We could use more rainfall but we'll take whatever we get. The heaviest rainfall tonight has been further in extreme South Georgia and parts of Florida, (INAUDIBLE) where we've been dealing with not just rain but also a couple of tornado warnings. No confirmations in terms of (INAUDIBLE) but still pretty volatile weather, especially right now in parts of (INAUDIBLE) and all parts of I-75 just north of the I-10 corridor. We're seeing some rainfall also to the nation's capital, further north, we're seeing some snowfall in New York. We have got a major snow event that will be setting up for parts of New England and parts of the northwest. We're going to touch on that during our next update.

Our weather for New Year's Eve, this is what you can anticipate -- very cold conditions in the northern plains and the central plains, dry conditions for Southern California and through much of the great basin. And still cloudy skies for you in the Pacific Northwest and look at that snow to end for much of New York by midday tomorrow and then, pretty nice conditions for New Year's Eve. We're going to talk more about that snow just coming up I promise in just a few moments.

SESAY: I'm going to hold you to that Reynolds. WOLF: There you go.

SESAY: Thank you.

The survivors of a tiger attack head home to recover. Hard questions about what went wrong. We'll have a closer look.

And: Pakistan's path of its latest political assassination. A former advisor to Benazir Bhutto joins us live with some perspective.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ISHA SESAY, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: News that's happening right now, going into high gear on the campaign trail as the Iowa caucus clock ticks toward January 3rd. Candidates are stumping hard to win over a large block of undecided voters.

Take a look at this dramatic new video of Benazir Bhutto's assassination. You hear shots ring out, then an explosion. And for the first time you see the opposition leader as her head moves, reacting to the gunfire. Bhutto's 19-year-old son will succeed his mother as head of the Pakistan People's Party. The husband will serve as co-chair. Also, it will take part in the country's upcoming elections.

That video of Bhutto's last moments, compelling and controversial as questions surrounding her killing mount up. A former advisor to Bhutto believes the U.S. could have played a more active role in preventing her death. Husain Haqqani joins us now from Boston.

Mr. Haqqani, thank you for making time for us this day. I want to get your thoughts on this new video we're getting here at CNN and what it means for all these conspiracy theories surrounding how Benazir Bhutto lost her life.

HUSAIN HAQQANI, BOSTON UNIVERSITY, FORMER BHUTTO ADVISOR: First of all, I don't want to contribute to any conspiracy theories. I don't think it's a good idea. The reason why we have conspiracy theories is the people of Pakistan don't trust the government of Musharraf. The government fails to investigate adequately the incident on October 18th in which Ms. Bhutto was attacked and 160 people were killed. Even now it has been reluctant to allow international investigators to come.

So I think instead of engaging in conspiracy theories, we need to demand that an international investigation of the type that took place after the assassination of the Lebanese leader, Mr. Rafie Karili (ph), that is undertaken so that all conspiracy theories can be laid to rest. And if they are true, they are proven.

SESAY: We are hearing that President Musharraf is warming to the idea of allowing other foreign law enforcement officials to get involved in this investigation. Having said that, you have been quoted as saying you feel the U.S. let down Ms. Bhutto. What do you mean by that? HAQQANI: I think sometimes they don't communicate everything. All I meant was the U.S. could have pressured Musharraf more. My complaint is that the U.S. has always been the U.S. has been too warm to General Musharraf instead of understanding that a man who is responsible for torturing his own people and imprisoning them can't have the trust of his own people.

So people who have been tortured by him, they will not look upon him the same way as American officials who just go and wine and dine will look upon him. If the U.S. government had told him Musharraf to take Ms. Bhutto's security seriously, I think he would have done more than he did on that account.

SESAY: All right. We have to look forward and we're hearing on this Sunday that Benazir Bhutto's son has been named as her successor once he completes his studies at Oxford. What are your thoughts on that and how would you respond to those people that say here we are and witnessing the PPP continues this dynasty tradition, keeping it within the family?

HAQQANI: First of all, let us understand the context of Pakistan. This is not politics in New Hampshire where there are many contenders and whoever wins will win.

This is a country which has been ruled by the military for most of its existence. The Bhutto family has been the strongest challenger to the military's domination of government. They have been brave. They have lost their lives, Ms. Bhutto being the latest. Mr. Zardari, Ms. Bhutto's husband spent 11.5 years in prison and the son has been told by his family he has an obligation to continue to struggle for the poor.

The rich and powerful in Pakistan stand around and say, why is there dynastic politics. I think if there was genuine democracy in Pakistan and the military didn't always keep putting on the lid, a political party could consider having normal elections. The reason where the party turns to the Bhuttos is they want fearless leaders who come from a well to do family, but who care about the people and who are committed to democracy and to rid Pakistan of military rule.

SESAY: Husain Haqqani, unfortunately we're out of time. Many thanks for your time this day.

Violent protests in Kenya today as Kibaki was sworn in for another term as the country's president. Kenya's electoral commission said Kibaki won by a narrow margin, less than 250,000 votes. But supporters of the defeated candidates say the vote was rigged. As riots raged in Kenya slums the government suspended live television broadcasts. Despite the controversy, the U.S. State Department congratulated him on his re-election.

Most of the presidential candidates are campaigning in Iowa today, but two Republican contenders are looking ahead to the first primary in New Hampshire on January 8th. Rudy Giuliani and John McCain are campaigning in the Granite State.

Our Jim Acosta is keeping up with them and joins us live now.

Jim, what is the message out on the campaign trail from the two this day?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, yesterday we followed John McCain and today we tried to keep up with Rudy Giuliani. Giuliani has been doing well in this state, finishing a strong second in some polls. But that has changed dramatically. It may not be the case anymore. And if he's concerned how he's performing in this state, he's not showing it.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA (voice-over): The man once described as America's mayor is finding it a lot harder to run for president. At stops across New Hampshire, Rudy Giuliani brushed off questions about the state of his campaign.

(on camera): Are you concerned about the state of your campaign in New Hampshire?

RUDY GIULIANI, (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No. I think it's going well. There's a great turn out.

ACOSTA: His campaign points to the former mayor's impressive showing in national surveys. New Hampshire pollster Andy Smith says Giuliani's support there is eroding, surprisingly fast.

ANDY SMITH, NEW HAMPSHIRE POLLSTER: If he loses to Ron Paul in New Hampshire, he's got real trouble.

GIULIANI: I've been tested by crisis and problems. I've shown very good results. In dealing with crisis and dealing with problems, including those in the area of safety and security.

ACOSTA: Defined by his handling of 9/11, he's consistently on message, vowing to stay on offense, as he puts it, on the war on terrorism. He briefly noted the increasingly negative tone of the race, saying Ronald Reagan's commandment of not speaking ill about other Republicans only goes so far.

GIULIANI: I have an 11th commandment that says don't criticize other Republicans unless they criticize me.

ACOSTA: That message seemed to connect with undecided Republicans Sabrina and Gary Madison, who said they appreciated what they saw as hesitancy to throw mud.

SABRINA MADISON: I hate negative campaigning and I think it's been valueient (ph) this year.

GARY MADISON: He's much warmer than I expected. I mean, he's a New Yorker.

(END VIDEOTAPE) ACOSTA: According to a newly released American Research Group poll, Giuliani is now in fourth place behind the two front-runners in this race, John McCain and Mitt Romney. But the Giuliani campaign said all along they're counting on winning in states such as Florida. In Florida he's in first place in some polls. Despite how he's doing in New Hampshire, he may want to point his efforts down south. It may be more than just the weather that's better down there, Isha.

SESAY: Jim Acosta, thank you.

And be sure to catch our extravaganza, we're calling it the "Ballot Bowl." It's where the candidates get their chance to discuss the issues important to you in their own words. Our coverage begins at 9:00 a.m. eastern.

San Francisco police are still trying to determine why a zoo tiger fatally mauled a teen and wounded two others on Christmas day. As part of the investigation, they're examining a shoe print found on the railing of the big cat's enclosure to see if it was made by any of the victims.

Here's Kara Finnstrom with a timeline of the attack.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KARA FINNSTROM, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Police radio transmissions from the night of the tiger attack set a chaotic scene. An 18-page log lists the first report at 5:00 p.m., with a very agitated male claiming he was bitten by an animal and bleeding from the head. The log says zoo personnel told police the two men reporting an escaped tiger might be mental disturbed and making it up. By 5:10, zoo employees were reporting a tiger on the loose.

At 5:13, the zoo was on lockdown as fire department responders arrived. By 5:20, medics found one victim with a large puncture hole to his neck. The log warns the scene is not safe.

Then an officer spots the tiger sitting down and at 5:27, it attacks another victim. Officers begin shooting. Less than 20 minutes after the first reports, they kill the 300-pound Siberian tiger. But not before the tiger killed 17-year-old Carlos Sousa Jr.

Saturday, about 100 people gathered for a candlelight vigil in his honor, the same day the two brothers, who were with Sousa Jr., and seriously hurt during the attack, were released from the hospital.

(on camera): It may be the stories of the two survivors we have yet to hear from to give us the best idea of what happened that evening at the zoo.

Kara Finnstrom for CNN, Los Angeles.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SESAY: It became an instant classic, where were you when you heard... (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STUDENT: Don't taze me, bro! Ouch!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SESAY: Bro got tazed and everyone heard it thanks to I- reporters. That story, just one of many sent in by viewers just like you. We'll have more of the greatest 2007 hits coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SESAY: 2007 closes out as the year of the I-reporter, thanks to so many of you who made CNN's I-report so successful. From breaking news reports to slices of life, the I-reporters helped us make a difference.

CNN's Rick Sanchez looks at some of the best I-reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RICK SANCHEZ, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Richmond, Texas, a truck stops at a red light, positioned across a railroad track.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I didn't think anything of it.

SANCHEZ: Until...

From roadway perils to off-road driving in the annual Ontario Rock Crawling Competition.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When he was trying to climb the rock face, his throttle cable snapped and he lost engine power and went backwards and did a perfect back flip.

SANCHEZ: Check out this amphicar swim in Michigan.

GLEN HOUTING, CNN I-REPORTER: The amphicars are very unique because they drive right down the ramp and into the lake.

SANCHEZ: Kooky, like this. We heard of parents who tie one end of a string to their child's tooth and the other end to a doorknob. But how about substituting the doorknob with an archery bow. That's just what this father did with his little girl.

ANDERSON COOPER, ANCHOR, "ANDERSON COOPER 360": What's great about these I-reports, it doesn't have to be a serious new event, it can be something in that person's life. There's a commonality and people make a connection one to another through these images.

An animal battle, a tortoise versus a cat. That's right. The tortoise is defending his turf in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. The cat much bigger, doesn't scar the tortoise. The tortoise takes on the cat. MARCUS HARUN, CNN I-REPORTER: I decided to make a video in which I pretended to be Wolf Blitzer in "The Situation Room." I made the graphics to look exactly like CNN.

Now there's some boys that were confirmed dead. Find out how they were rescued and how they survived. I'm Marcus Harun and you are in "The Situation Room."

SANCHEZ: I think he did a great job.

WOLF BLITZER, ANCHOR, "THE SITUATION ROOM": He did a great job and he had me nailed down. He had the whole set nailed down.

SANCHEZ: He's just not old enough to grow your beard yet.

BLITZER: Not yet. But he's got a future in this business.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SESAY: We have a ton of great I-reports from the past year. See them all in our I-report special "Caught on Camera." Watch it again on New Year's Eve at 8:00 eastern. And it's not too late to vote for your favorite I-reports of 2007. Logon to our website, cnn.com/yearinreview.

And Drew Griffin is here with me with a preview of what's to come.

Drew, what have you got on your 7:00 eastern?

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN HOST: At 7:00 tonight, we're going to look inside Iraq. Harris Whitbeck doing some reporting on the awakening council. These aren't just guys in Iraq protecting their own neighborhood, 72,000 strong, and they are doing it and doing it to the extent that now Osama bin Laden wants them dead. These are people in Iraq trying to protect themselves. It is working. Now they are the targets of bin Laden and his network.

At 10:00, Isha, I know you've been showing these pictures all day of the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. Quite frankly, I've been looking at this, trying to figure out what it means. I cannot tell. So we'll bring in Mike Brooks, who is our security analyst, a guy who has a lot of experience protecting political people in the United States. He's going to analyze those tapes for us. Ad we'll try to figure out if we can tell, number one, did bullets hit her? Is that person on the suicide bomber and can you tell from the pictures? That's what we have for 7:00 and for 10:00, along with all the politics as usual.

SESAY: All right, Drew, sounds like great stuff.

Keep it here on CNN. And you want to stay with Drew Griffin. It sounds like you got a great show lined up.

GRIFFIN: Thanks, Sesay.

SESAY: OK, we're keeping a close eye on the skies for you. Reynolds Wolf now from the Weather Center -- Reynolds?

REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Can you believe it? We're saying goodbye to 2007 and saying hello to 2008. It's been very fast, hasn't it?

Coming up, we'll give you an idea what you can expect weather wise as we bring in the New Year. Don't go anywhere.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SESAY: Mother Nature creating more work for the folks at Green Bay. For the third time this month they've asked for the public's help in cleaning out the stands. Hundreds of volunteers spent hours shoveling snow and it may have helped the Packers defeat the Detroit Lions 34-13 today as they prepare for the playoffs. The win also tied a franchise record for the most victories in a season. The number, lucky 13.

Snow, mud and a mistake caused some problems in Kansas City this morning. A United Airlines plane was headed toward the runway early this morning, getting ready to head to Denver. But the pilot made a wrong turn in the fog, got on a service road by mistake and the jet got mired in snow and mud. About 180 passengers had to get off the plane. They're all OK. But their travel planes were thrown out of whack.

All right, let's join our Reynolds Wolf at the Weather Center.

Reynolds, I want to find out what the weather is like on New Year's Eve. Women up and down the country are trying to figure out what to where. The weather's going to play a big factor in this.

WOLF: You know, it always does. I'll tell you what, if you happen to be in the northeast, you're going to want to dress warmly.

(WEATHER REPORT)

WOLF: Let's send it back to you. Happy New Year.

SESAY: Happy New Year, Reynolds. Many thanks.

As we get ready to welcome 2008, we decided to look back at 2007. A roller coaster of a year in the news. You're watching CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SESAY: Are you ready for 2008? Our Anderson Cooper will be in New York's Time Square on New Year's Eve and you can make the party even better. Go to the cnn.com/iparty and send us your photos or tell us your memories from 2007. Maybe yours will be shown on New Year's Eve. Our coverage begins at 11:00 p.m. eastern.

Well, 2007 was packed with everything, from celebrity tragic comedy to straight tragedy. It was quite a year in news. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: The mother of three is accused of attacking shipman in the airport parking lot, burning her face with pepper sprayed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would like her to know who I am, and didn't mean to frighten her.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Based on review of the evidence, this case is an accidental overdose.

UNIDENTIFIED JUDGE: I hope to God you guys give the kid the right shot.

LARRY BIRKHEAD: I'm just happy to have this behind me and just to be able to start a life with my daughter.

UNIDENTIFIED CNN REPORTER: Beneath that shaved head that's haunts a million headlines...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She's in the middle of a nervous breakdown and all of America is witnessing it.

UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: Gunfire reverberating across a university campus in the state of Virginia.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The deadliest campus shooting in U.S. history.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There were two shootings which occurred on the campus. In each case, there are fatalities.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: At least 22 people killed.

UNIDENTIFIED STUDENT: I can feel I can move on with my life now. And I wouldn't be afraid to go back to class.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She vowed again never to drink and drive, which is what led to her incarceration.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is a media circus. Paris Hilton exiting now after serving 23 days behind bars.

BARBARA WALTERS: My brother and I were on the phone together. We had a collective ahhh.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to congratulate him on his remarkable achievement of being prime minister for 10 years.

TONY BLAIR, FORMER BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I wish everyone, friend of foe, and that is (inaudible).

GORDON BROWN, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I will try my utmost. This is my promise to all of the people of Britain.

UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: Cut to black in the middle of that song by Journey, for a cliffhanger, a cliffhanger that left folks hanging forever.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My brother and I were on the phone together and we had a collective ahhh.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I did not call Tiara (ph) a (bleep).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I made a huge error in judgment in using the word. (END VIDEOTAPE)

SESAY: What a year it's has been. From the CNN Center in Atlanta, I'm anxious say to Happy New Year to you all. "Lou Dobbs this Week" starts right now.

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