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CNN NEWSROOM

New Video in Bhutto Assassination; Christmas Eve Massacre; Candidates Working Down to the Wire in Iowa; Obama Interview

Aired December 30, 2007 - 22:00   ET

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


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN ANCHOR: New video and new theories in the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. We'll take a frame-by-frame look at the evidence to see what, if anything, it reveals.
And in the wake of his mother's death, this 19-year-old prepares to step in to her formidable role.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My mother always said, Democracy is the best revenge.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GRIFFIN: But is he ready and could he become the next target?

It was a Christmas Eve massacre.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was a good Christian child.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GRIFFIN: Now a mother talks about her son who stands accused of murdering three generations of a Washington family.

Candidates working right down to the wire in Iowa, but this state is a little different than the rest.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You go over say, hey, well, your man isn't going to make it. Come over here. Remember our long due snow shovel.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GRIFFIN: We'll explain the madness. You're in the NEWSROOM. Good evening, I'm Drew Griffin. The investigation into the death of Benazir Bhutto gets more complex, more politically volatile with each passing day and each day, it seems, brings a new image of Bhutto's final moments. This is the latest we have for you. And it's adding to an already emotional debate. In the lower left of the screen, there's a man with a gun apparently firing shots. Just a second later, a suicide bomb explodes. When the tape is slowed down, it appears that Bhutto's head moves. Was she ducking at the sound of gunfire? Were she hit by something. It's an important question since her supporters are angrily denying the government's claim that she was not killed by a bullet or bomb, instead officials are saying, she had a fractured skull when her head struck part of the SUV sunroof.

Joining me now, security analyst for CNN Mike Brooks. Mike, you've seen the tapes. You've investigated these types of things. Are we seeing anything here definitive in this stuff?

MIKE BROOKS, CNN SECURITY ANALYST: You know, if this is all good, and put it together a timeline of exactly what happened. But the way to finally put all the speculation to rest, Drew, is to exhume her body and perform an autopsy on her to find out exactly what the cause of death was.

GRIFFIN: And that was everybody is asking about. Today, the husband said this. Let's take a listen. This is the husband of Benazir Bhutto.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GRIFFIN: What do you make of this?

BROOKS: Well, he says, he don't need a postmortem to prove the death. No, but you need a postmortem to prove cause of death. And he said it, that he apparently, doesn't sound like he has too much fate in the system there in Pakistan on performing an autopsy. If that's the case, then bring in the United States. Bring in Great Britain. Bring in the forensic experts from the FBI or from New Scotland Yard to be in the autopsy or bring over forensic experts from the United States to perform the autopsy. That is not out of the scope of possibility.

GRIFFIN: Not out of the scope but the government said yesterday -- the government of Islamabad said yesterday, look, this is too complex of Pakistani issue for outsiders to investigate.

BROOKS: Right. It's not about political issues, this is about evidence. What evidence is there that she was either killed by a fractured skull when she fell or was pulled done in, so that, SUV on a lever on the sunroof? Was it from a bomb glass from the over pressure. Was it from hand gun? There's also theories about a possible rifle, a sniper being used. An autopsy would put all this to rest, Drew. And I've been in that country myself, and I don't have much faith in the evidence collection of the police there myself, having worked with them when I was a member of the FBI's response team. That's why I feel it would be best to bring in outside experts from the FBI or from New Scotland Yard to help the Pakistanis in getting to the bottom of this.

GRIFFIN: Which brings me to the last point, I want to bring in with you, Mike. We've got a guy here. He was standing with the gun. The gun is pointing at Benazir Bhutto. A bomb blows up. Where is that guy? Where is that gun? Where is that guy and how come two days later, we don't know, who he is or what gun was used?

BROOKS: That's exactly right. And yesterday, we saw a gun that Pakistani authorities were looking at. We don't know exactly where that was found. They said they found some shell casings at another location. You find shell casing all over the streets of Pakistan. I can tell you that. But again, the bottom line here is, Drew, an autopsy would put to rest all these theories and all this speculation.

GRIFFIN: And it looks like, there will be no rest for this one. Mike Brooks, thanks for coming in. Thank you. And while the debate rages over how Bhutto died, the political party she left behind takes a dramatic step toward the future. CNN's John Vause reports the Pakistani Peoples Party has a new leader. He is a young man with no experience, but his name carries a lot of clout.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN VAUSE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The third and final day of official mourning for Benazir Bhutto began with prayers, tears and much confusion over who would take her place as leader of the people's party. More than 1,000 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.

But in the cross of Pakistani politics, many from the party executive responsible for making a final decision were left stuck outside the compound. 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. Eventually, security gave way. The heavy steel doors opened and hundreds rushed in. It was chaotic and once inside, they made their feelings known.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We want Bhutto and people's party.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Bhutto family, in particular, we feel that the Bhutto will have trust upon.

VAUSE: In the end, Benazir Bhutto named her husband Asif Zardari as her successor. But he then, handed power to his son, Bilawal. A student in Oxford, just 19 years old.

BILAWAL ZARDARI, BENAZIR BHUTTO'S SON: 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. ALI DAYAN HASAN, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: When political leaders die seeking higher office, there is a scene of a blood sacrifice and really the only way of dealing with it is through political leadership, the succession to the 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)

GRIFFIN: And a few facts about Bilawal Zardari, the new head of the Pakistan People's Party at age 19. He is the oldest of Benazir Bhutto's three children. He's also the third generation of the Bhutto family to lead the party founded by his grandfather. He has no political experience and he has lived much of his life away from Pakistan.

We showed you a little piece of that exclusive interview with Benazir Bhutto's husband earlier. Next, we'll give you more. He talks about his son's new role as his mother's political heir and what he hopes the 19-year-old will accomplish.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GRIFFIN: Although Benazir Bhutto's will said she wanted her husband to lead her political party, he passed the baton to her son, agreeing to serve as cochairman of the Pakistan People's Party until the 19- year-old finishes college. And Asif Ali Zardari admits his son is not ready yet. He spoke exclusive with CNN's sister network, IBN.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you prepared to put your son in the spotlight as the chairman of this party.

A. ZARDARI: I'm not going to put him into spotlight. We decided at a time, he will continue with his studies. He will of course be kept away from the happenings of the party. (INAUDIBLE). And in the meantime, I'm the co-chairperson, so I'll be looking after the interest of the party as a guide and as a helper and as a -- concerning to the party and part leader to the party. And then, we'll groom him all together. All of us in the people's party. We will groom him together. We will groom the family together. And hopefully, when he's responsible enough, then I can go and play golf.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is not what Benazir Bhutto wanted. She said in her will that she wanted you to take over.

A. ZARDARI: Yes. It was her desire that I should take over. But in my political wisdom, I think, we need a larger symbol than myself to keep the party united with her gone. Because, she could have probably not, ever in herself imagine what the reaction of this would do to Pakistan. (INAUDIBLE), Pakistan will disintegrate, but now we are seeing it practically happening.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How feasible it is going to be, go into elections, now two weeks after Benazir was assassinated. Would you like the government to postpone this right now?

A. ZARDARI: (INAUDIBLE) the fair elections. Demand all precautions were taken and elections to be taken.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is the government you're practically accusing of failure to protect Benazir. There are so many reports who are pointing out in government's version of what is happening. (INAUDIBLE).

A. ZARDARI: Of course, we will trust. We will make sure that people of Pakistan, make sure these are free and fair elections. Our workers will make sure. Our country will make sure. People are the guardians of nations. People will make sure the success of the election.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're now asking for international inquiry into Benazir's assassination. In particular, (INAUDIBLE) there were bullet wounds in her body or not? (INAUDIBLE) that she was shot and that there were bullet wounds.

A. ZARDARI: Yes, I can say confidently that she was shot.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why do you think the government has been denying it?

A. ZARDARI: (INAUDIBLE).

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GRIFFIN: Three generations wiped out in a murderous Christmas Eve attack. We hear from the mother of a man accused in that massacre. An interview you don't want to miss.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GRIFFIN: A dramatic weather-related rescue took place this morning out in Washington State in the Olympic National Park. A 53-year-old skier missing for 24 hours. Apparently, lost up on a place called Hurricane Ridge. Had been found alive and in a snow cave. Olympic National Park ranger Scott Bowen joins us on the phone. Scott, I've been to Hurricane Ridge on a good day. It's bad up there. This was not an incredibly good day.

SCOTT BOWEN, OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK RANGER: No, it wasn't. We got about a foot of snow overnight. And temperatures this morning were about 17 degrees and a lot of wind.

GRIFFIN: This man, this 53-year-old skier, did he check in? Did he tell people where he was going? And I understand that sometime overnight, he was able to at least contact you and give you a location of where he was?

BOWEN: Yes. Yesterday afternoon, he had gone out into an area that a lot of people ski from the visitors' center. About three miles away called Hurricane Hill. And he had got out in the area. He'd been out generally in that area, but he had not been all the way to Hurricane Hill.

Followed some tracks up into the Hurricane Hill area and then ended up getting disoriented when the weather deteriorated. And he was able to make a cell phone call to his wife to let him know his situation. And then, we ended up -- the search rescuers talked to him last night and kind of found out generally a little bit more about his situation. But he was able to make it overnight and then we responded last night for a while and then again started out this morning.

GRIFFIN: Rather incredible that he did survive up there in that cold overnight. Quickly, his condition and how he got out?

BOWEN: Well, he actually had built a snow cave and actually -- he was cold this morning and hungry, but he was actually doing pretty well. And he then, went up to an area where he got out of the wind, kind of out of the exposed area and hunkered down and just waited for us to head out and we were able to locate him and then, he actually was in very good condition, was able to ski out under his own power.

GRIFFIN: Terrific. Olympic Park ranger Scott Bowen out there on the Peninsula in Washington. Thank you so much for joining us and congratulations on that.

BOWEN: Thank you.

GRIFFIN: Have a good New Year's Eve.

Tonight, Arizona detectives are hunting "Psycho." A 24-year-old, Jose Francisco Mendoza. He has nickname "Psycho." He's suspected of shooting six people late Saturday night. All six people survived that attack. When Phoenix police respond to this 911 call, Mendoza, allegedly shot his way from the scene on foot. No officers were hurt. Police say the initial shootings stands from a long standing dispute between Mendoza and his neighbors.

GRIFFIN: Prosecutors say it started as a typical Christmas Eve. Mom wrapping the presents and the rest of the family relaxing in other rooms of the house, then gun fire rang out. Six members of the Anderson Family in Carnation, Washington, near Seattle, lay dead. Now, facing multiple first degree murder charges, a relative, Michele Anderson and her boyfriend, Joseph McEnroe. That's them, talking to police, before their arrest. Apparently, McEnroe is still talking, this time to reporters.

We have a mug shot, a quote that you don't see very often. We showed it to you yesterday. Keep in mind, it's the woman who is related to the victims. But according to "The Seattle Times", McEnroe says, "I'm sorry they're gone. They were my family too. I hope wherever they are at, they are at peace. That's all I'm going to say about them."

So, three generations of one family gone and as chilling details of their final moments play out in court documents, it gets more heart wrenching. Here is James Lynch from our affiliate KCPQ. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JAMES LYNCH, AFFILIATE KCPQ: They were there. The Anderson children. 5-year-old, Olivia, and 3-year-old, Nathan. They watched as their mother and father were killed and they were the last to die.

DAN SATTERBERG, KING COUNTY PROSECUTOR: We allege that McEnroe spoke to each child and apologized for what he was about to do. The evidence will show that McEnroe then shot each child in the head from very close range.

LYNCH: In a morning news conference, King County prosecuting attorney Dan Satterberg laid out the evidence against Michele Anderson and Joe McEnroe. He says the couple seen here in exclusive Q13 Fox News video walked into the house and shot Wayne and Judy Anderson in the head. When her brother Scott Anderson arrived with his family, Michele and McEnroe are accused of shooting him, too. Then his wife, Erica, she manage to get to a phone and called 911, but before she could say a word, McEnroe ripped the phone from the wall and shot her two times. This is the tape of the dispatch sending deputies to the Anderson home.

911 DISPATCH: Yes, this is 1806 346th Ave NE, the Anderson residence. We can hear a lot of yelling in the background but the (INAUDIBLE) says, it sounds more like a party than actually any kind of heated argument. We left a message when we called back."

LYNCH: We now know deputies never made it to the house. An investigation is planned to see if the deputies acted appropriately. After the shootings, in a evolving plan to avoid detection, prosecutors say Anderson and McEnroe drove north toward Canada, then turned around and drove south toward Oregon. Then, for some unknown reason, returned to the scene of the crime. Again, this is Q13 Fox News exclusive video. Later, they confessed to the murders.

SATTERBERG: The defendants Michele Anderson and Joseph McEnroe drove up to the scene in their pickup truck. They claimed initially to be unaware of the murders. After being separated and interviewed at length, the two were eventually booked into jail. The loss is profound and immeasurable. It impacts not only those who knew the Andersons, but all of us who desire to live in a peaceful community.

LYNCH: Now, a convicted Anderson and McEnroe face life in prison without the possibility of parole or death by lethal injection. The King County Washington prosecuting attorney has 30 days to make that decision. James Lynch, CNN, Seattle.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GRIFFIN: And as James said, prosecutors do have 30 days now to decide whether to seek death penalty against McEnroe and Michele Anderson. McEnroe's mother admits she hasn't spoken with her son in years, but she wants him to live. And she blames her son's girlfriend for the murders. Sean Johnson also talked about what her own life has been like over these past few days.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEAN JOHNSON, JOSEPH MCENROE'S MOM: How I found out is that the "Seattle Times" called me up. Very nice young lady and she told me. And I went, are you sure? Because it didn't sound like Joe. He doesn't like guns. He didn't like guns. He didn't like violence. He helped me raise four kids -- three kids. Two younger, then much younger than him. He helped -- he used to help me so much and everything. He was a good Christian child. It sickens the whole family literally. My one son is really sick about it. My daughter is crying constantly. My other son just can't believe. He's angry and hurt because he remembers, Joe, sticking up for him, making sure that he was OK all the time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GRIFFIN: Anderson and McEnroe are due in court for arraignment on January 9th.

A lot of things go into deciding your presidential vote. But do you care if the candidate is nice? Joe Biden hopes so. We'll chew on it in "Dog Bone Politics."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GRIFFIN: The presidential campaign getting down and dirty in South Carolina. That tops tonight's "Dog Bone Politics." A phony Christmas card designed to look like it was sent by Mitt Romney has been showing up in mailboxes in South Carolina. And some Republicans there, the card looks legit but it features a quote from the book of Mormon that says "God had multiple wives" quote. It also includes a line that the Virgin Mary was exceedingly fair and right. The Romney campaign has condemned the mailing calling it deception and trickery.

Democrat John Edwards says if he's elected president, he'd find a way to use Bill Clinton in his administration. Why did he say that? Well, because he also said this. There's no way Hillary Clinton could keep her husband out of her White House activities. Senator Clinton has insisted her husband would not play a major role in her White House. John Edwards today called that idea quote, "Complete fantasy."

Democratic hopeful Joe Biden knows who the Iowa front-runners are. And he says, if his party nominates Clinton, Edwards, or Barack Obama, there could be some tough days ahead. Biden says nominating any of those three could spark what he calls, a very bitter, bitter fight against the Republican in the general election. How can Democrats avoid that bitterness? Well, by nominating a guy-name Joe Biden. He also says fellow candidate, Chris Dodd, would keep the temperature down if nominated. You've chewed on "Dog Bone Politics."

Next, will give you more of meat. We head to Iowa where the candidates are making their last-minute push toward the caucus. But just what happens in caucus? You might not believe it.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN ANCHOR: Earlier tonight, our Suzanne Malveaux got an exclusive one-on-one interview with Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama. She asked him about Bill Clinton's recent comments that Hillary Clinton had urged him to do more while he was president to prevent genocide in Rwanda. Miss Suzanne asked Obama if Hillary Clinton should have or could have done more herself.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: President Clinton himself has acknowledged that he could have and should have done more in the international community, could have or should have done more. I have no idea what role Senator Clinton played in this process. This is one of the issues surrounding their campaign is, you know, who takes credit for what and what involvement she has in foreign policy. But here's the broader point and I think is important. And that is we have genocide, slow rolling right now in Darfur. And because of our distractions with Iraq, for example, we have been unable to mobilize the international community to act forcefully there.

We have to have a basic principle that genocide is a plight on humanity. We are the greatest super power in the world. We may not be able to send troops in everywhere. But if we are wise in how we work diplomatically, then we should be able to intervene and ensure that men and women and children are not being slaughtered. That is something that we have neglected. It has to be a central principle in our foreign policy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GRIFFIN: And Bill Clinton's potential role if his wife wins the White House has provided plenty of fodder in this campaign. Tonight, Suzanne also asked Barack Obama about his wife, Michelle, and the role she might play if he is elected president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Michelle's first priority would be making sure that our 9- year-old and 6-year-old daughters are cared for and I'm sure she will find projects that she is fully invested in and involved in. That will be up to her. But she has said publicly, as well as privately, that she's intending to carve out a role as first lady that allows her to do a lot of good here in the United States or internationally. But she doesn't anticipate being in a policy-making role with respect to the decisions that I'm making as president.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GRIFFIN: We'll tell you about the latest polls. Here, they continue to show, Obama, locked in a three-way tie with Hillary Clinton and John Edwards among Iowa Democrats.

But you've heard a lot about these Iowa caucuses, but you might not have heard about all the complicated rules that go along with it. It's not as simple as dropping a ballot into a box. It's a real song and dance. CNN's Jeffrey Toobin explains how it works and why it matters.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Imagine an election with no secret ballot, no all-day voting, the age requirement only 17, and finally you can vote for more than one candidate. If that sounds un-American, it's actually how the Iowa Democratic caucuses operate, and listen up you care, because those folks in Iowa may actually choose your next president. In fact, the rules here are so strange that the campaigns in Iowa run training sessions on how to vote. Step one, stand up and be counted.

CHELSEA WALISER, MOCK CAUCUS ORGANIZER: And what you'll do is then you will get up out of your seat and you'll go walk to the corner or space by the wall designated for the candidate of your choice, OK ready, go.

TOOBIN: At Obama's Iowa rehearsal caucus, they practice without candidates. Instead they use winter activities, we've got ice skating here, drinking hot cocoa, snowboarding, building snowmen, and of course snowball fights.

After the first round, anyone who's standing for a candidate, well activity in this case -- that doesn't meet the threshold of 15 percent of the room is out of luck. It turns out on this night, not enough snowboarders, very sad. So, what happens now? If the snowboarders want their votes to count at all, they have to pick a new candidate before the second and final tally.

WALISER: Each group that is viable gets to send one ambassador over to the snowboarding group and try to persuade them to join your group.

TOOBIN: Now, it's let's make a deal. The other groups all send someone over to the snowboarders to say, come on, join our side. A little arm twisting.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you skating, you feel free, you can go on one feet, two feet, you can twirl around.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I like that one.

TOOBIN: The snowboarders decide ice skating is their second choice, and they all make the switch. Understanding that the persuasion period and how to win over second-choice voters is so important, candidates have web videos to explain it.

JOHN EDWARDS: Don't just go to the caucus, bring your friends.

TOOBIN: And even highlight it on the stump.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you hit that floor and work it and try to get them and it's like a fun game. It's like monopoly. You go over you say hey, well your man isn't going to make it, come over here, remember I loaned you that snow shovel?

TOOBIN: Because the rules are so complicated, organization is key. You need to get your supporters to the caucus locations by 7:00 sharp or they can't vote. And this is Iowa in the wintertime. Sometimes, the weather is a factor. By comparison the Republican caucuses are pretty simple, though the campaigns, here Fred Thompson's are also training their supporters. It's a secret ballot and there's no viability threshold. Every vote counts. The complicated rules make for one sure thing that the results here are very hard to predict. So after all this, who wins? Well, that's not simple, either. The party keeps the popular vote totals at the caucuses a secret. They only announce the percentage of delegates each candidate will receive at the state party convention later in 2008. And there's more, of course. The caucus rules are 72 pages long. Jeffrey Toobin, CNN, New York.

(END OF VIDEOTAPE)

GRIFFIN: Dead heat in Iowa among the top three Democratic presidential hopefuls. John Edwards, Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama, one, two, three, separated by a hair in a Mason-Dixon Poll taken after Christmas. The mere two percentage points that separate them as well within the poll's margin of error. Not the greatest news for Mike Huckabee either. The poll finds him trailing Mitt Romney by four percentage points in Iowa. The other Republicans lagging far behind.

The previous Mason-Dixon Poll from the first week of December had Huckabee holding a 12-point lead. Of course, the polls, they each have a story to tell. But the blogs tell another one. I guess we could ask if we wanted to, Howard Dean, about these polls in Iowa. We're going to bring in our two poll bloggers right now. Meet David Freddoso from the National View Online and Morra Aarons from BlogHer.org. David. You know, let me start with you. The polls are one thing. But the spin going out there in the blogosphere is another. Huckabee seems to have lost his sail at just the wrong time.

DAVID FREDDOSO, NATIONAL VIEW ONLINE: I think his sails are in tatters. I think you could say the vote is starting to go down. One of the problems Huckabee is having are the extremely stupid things he's said about the assassination of Former Prime Minister Bhutto in Pakistan. For one thing, he tried to make this an immigration issue and he say, well, look what happened, a Pakistani went and blew someone up. So I guess all Pakistanis do that. So we have to be really afraid about them coming to this country. I don't think that was very intelligent. I think it really reflects poorly on him.

He got a few other things wrong. We're just talking about it. And a guy who is running for president of the United States has to get things right when he was talking about what happens in other parts of the world. I don't think he's looking good. I think some Christians find it offensive that he's flashing his cross around to win the election. I think a lot of people felt very dissatisfied with the other candidates. Jumped on the Huckabee bandwagon but might be just as ready to jump off. The support that his losing is showing up in the polls with Fred Thompson and John McCain at this point. McCain is doing especially well in Iowa, which is a big surprise because he and Ron Paul, I guess, are the only guys who don't bow to the whole ethanol scam that got went on.

GRIFFIN: Let me bring in Morra here real quickly on the Republican side. I want to ask you Morra about the Democrats but on Republican side, how could he losing steamers? Romney gaining? What's happening there in you eyes?

MORRA AARONS, BLOGHER.ORG: You know, it's funny, I think, they're both losing steam. They're both too busy attacking each other to focus on the issues. The more Huckabee talks, the less, I think, we trust him as the future leader of our country. But of course, Romney has had that problem now, ever since he hit the campaign trail and I think it's really, really good news for John McCain and of course, really good news for the Democrats.

GRIFFIN: Well, the Democrats are talking about each other, too. And not in very positive light. They are very tight there, Morra.

AARONS: They are. I mean, you know, it's anybody's race. And you know, Hillary's handing out shovels. Edwards is chartering buses. I'd like a latte with my caucus vote, please. You know, I think that it's very, very much about organization. And the most important thing is that Edwards almost won Iowa four years ago. Voters really know him there. I know it says there's something like 5 percent undecided voters right now. I can't imagine there very many undecided voters right now. I think it's about the weather and it's about who gets people out there on Thursday.

GRIFFIN: Morra, real quickly, on Senator Clinton. Does she survive at number 3 in Iowa? It seems like Edwards and Obama go on no matter how they play but does she?

AARONS: Well, you know, there's a media war here, too. There's only so much media space. If Hillary loses in Iowa and comes in third, that's a huge story. So, whose airtime does that take away from? I mean, I definitely think that there will be huge momentum going in to New Hampshire. I think, Hillary coming in second is a good story for her. Obama coming in third is much more painful to him going New Hampshire.

GRIFFIN: David, where does McCain have to fit in, in Iowa to get to, hopefully, what he hopes is a win in New Hampshire?

FREDDOSO: I think he will win New Hampshire, no matter how he does in Iowa. Any success in Iowa is a big deal for McCain. He hasn't really played there. He isn't expected to do anything there. So, when he comes in around 15, 16, 17 percent, if he's able to get in there, especially if he finishes third, he'd be in very good shape. I think a second-place finishes is pretty much out of the question. It's going to be between him and Fred Thompson for third, most likely.

GRIFFIN: Really quickly, I want to get your take, Giuliani, that's the first time I said his name in two days. Where is this guy? And Fred Thompson, not particularly interested in running. Apparently, not particularly gathering a lot of interest in voting for him either.

FREDDOSO: I know. Giuliani's been out of this for a couple of weeks now. His late-state strategy seemed like a great idea at the time. And no matter what, he's going to get a substantial number of delegates. But the only way that I could see Giuliani going anywhere would be if Huckabee suddenly started winning everything. A lot of Republicans would feel like the only guy who could stop him is Giuliani.

AARONS: Let's not forget the big news on the blogs today is Michael Bloomberg convening a very, very high level group of people, apparently talking about a third party run. I think, that's going to distract a lot of people and really, really hurt people.

(CROSSTALK)

FREDDOSO: Hold on, Morra. Biden, Dodd, and Kucinich, are they leaving?

AARONS: I would think so. You know, they're going to aim for big jobs except Kucinich who will run again in four years, I'm sure.

FREDDOSO: What's interesting is that their supporters in Iowa are going to have a chance to pick their second choice, because that's the way the Democratic caucus works. This is why Hillary Clinton is in so much trouble in Iowa. She's nobody's second choice. Edwards is going to win. And I think, she comes in third if it's bad enough. She's on the verge of losing to Obama in New Hampshire.

AARONS: But I'm not sure that you can say Edwards is going to win here.

GRIFFIN: Guys, you're going to have to take this to your blogs. We don't have that much time. David, thank you. Morra, thank you. Take it easy guys.

AARONS: Thank you. Bye.

GRIFFIN: And how about a presidential candidate who wants the job but doesn't like running? We talked about him. You'll find that story and a whole lot more on cnn.com where "The Best Political News Team" files its stories online.

And it's game time on CNN. Be sure to catch our "Ballot Bowl" on New Year's Day. The presidential candidates get their chance to talk about the issues important to you in their own words. Our coverage begins Tuesday morning, 9:00 eastern.

An asbestos pantsuit, Hillary Clinton said it. But she had plenty of campaign in the political gaps arena. Oops, did they really say that out loud? We will. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GRIFFIN: They shake hands, they kiss babies, they campaign all across the country. America's lawmakers, they always seem to give us plenty to talk about. Something like our top political gaffes of the year coming in at number five. Take a listen to this one.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm happy to be here tonight. And this pantsuit is asbestos tonight.

The oil companies reported the highest profits in the history of the world. I want to take those profits and I want to put them into a strategic energy fund.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GRIFFIN: That cackle. Author, political commentator, and blogger Keli Goff joins me from New York. We're having a little fun with this, Keli. But that cackle was supposed to make her a little warmer and then she tells us, she's wearing an asbestos pantsuit. That's number five.

KELI GOFF, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. You know, they say that friends don't let friends drive, when they shouldn't. I think friends don't let friends make bad political jokes during debates when they shouldn't. You know, it's like an "e" for effort in trying to humanize our self with the laugh and everything but it sort of just so flat.

GRIFFIN: OK. Speaking of fall and flat. At number four, John McCain with his little rendition of an old Beach Boys' tune.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN MCCAIN, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: That old Beach Boys song "Boomerang" (ph). Bomb, bomb, bomb.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GRIFFIN: Yes, you know, that was just kind of scary, wasn't it?

GOFF: I'm actually not sure which is more offensive, the lyrics that he made up or his singing itself. You know, again, it's like, you know that they have all these strategists and advisers who say, lighten up, lighten up, and then they do something like this and we all know why they don't.

GRIFFIN: Keli, is it because they're incapable lightening up. These are not light people.

GOFF: I think that they get so used to being handled. You know, the criticisms that Hillary Clinton deals with all the time. And that's why I kind of feel bad for her when she has moments like this. That fall so flat because, you know, everyone criticizes her for being, you know, so calculating and over thinking everything and then, when she tries to lighten up, that' what we get. An asbestos pantsuit.

GRIFFIN: All right. Well, number three. This was calculated, scripted, and so campy. I just couldn't believe it. Let see. It's Rudy Guiliani getting a phone call.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUDY GIULIANI, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is my wife calling, I think. Hello, dear. I'm talking to the members of the NRA, right now. Would you like to say hello? Hello. Would you stop yelling, please.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GRIFFIN: What do you make of that? What kind of a political move was that? I never got the real explanation.

GOFF: The official terminology, I believe, for a political move like that is called a kooky (ph) one, a wacky one, a loopy one. I mean, it just, when someone's receiving criticism for being a bit wacky and disorganized in their personal life, taking a phone call from your third wife, while you're in the middle of a speech to major organization is probably not the wisest move in the playbook. And actually, you're the first person I heard say that it was a 100 percent script and I really hope you're right. Because if that was actually for real, then I think, we have a bigger problem than, you know, if it's not.

GRIFFIN: Now, you're getting me in trouble because I have never met Mr. Giuliani to ask him. But I will ask him if I get the chance. All right, here's our number two. This was just kind of an uncomfortable moment. And one you've talked about in terms of race relations in campaigning. This is Joe Biden talking about Barack Obama.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOSEPH BIDEN, (D) DELAWARE: I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice- looking guy. I mean, that's a storybook, man.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GOFF: You know, I think we can all be in agreement that there are worst things that you can be called by a person than articulate. The problem, though, is that when someone uses that, as a descriptive compliment to a fellow United States senator, one who's been, not only a graduate of Harvard Law School but actually editor of the law review, in which being articulate probably a (INAUDIBLE), you know, it's so condescending. You know, even though it's completely unintentional. And it reminds me of a Chris Rock thing. You know, Christ Rock joke that they love to call Colin Powell articulate. And Chris Rock said, the manage chairman of the joint chief of staff, what do you expect him to say? I'd be the chairman. You know, it's just one of those moments.

GRIFFIN: When that came out, the only thing I could think of was like Howard Cosell back in the day, talking about a boxer. That's what it seem like to me. It was just weird.

GOFF: Yes. And I actually, you know, Barack Obama, to his credit, was very classy, in the way that he defended Senator Biden's record on civil rights. But I think, it was a really great conversation, that they sort of brought into the fore front because, you know, I think a lot of black Americans have experiences, I certainly have, it sort of like when people attempt to compliment you by saying you're really articulate, what it's called for it, you don't sound like any other black people I know. You don't walk around saying dynamite, like JJ from "Good Times."

GRIFFIN: All right, Keli, number one, self-explanatory. Minneapolis Airport bathroom. Roll it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LARRY CRAIG, (R) IDAHO: I don't, ah, I am not gay, I don't do these kinds of things and...

SGT. DAVE KARSNIA, POLICE DETECTIVE: It doesn't matter. I don't care about sexual preference or anything like that. Here's your stuff back sir. Urn, I don't care about sexual preference.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GRIFFIN: You know, that bathroom is now a tourist trap, I am told.

GOFF: I believe it. Call me crazy. I believe Larry Craig's story, I'm kidding.

GRIFFIN: What's the story? That he likes to tap dance in a bathroom?

GOFF: Yes. I totally bought it. I don't know why everyone's making such a big deal out of it for. I think George Clooney and Brad Pitt deserve an Oscar for the spoof they did on this. I don't know if you saw that video. They did a great spoof.

GRIFFIN: Yes. That was really good. Hey, Keli, thanks a lot. Good fun. Thanks for playing with us.

GOFF: Thanks so much for having me.

GRIFFIN: And a Happy New Year. Well, it is wet in Atlanta, but clearing I believe. Reynolds Wolf has the latest on the weather from elsewhere around the nation. That's coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GRIFFIN: Interesting weather pictures. Snow from sea to shining sea. Reynolds Wolf in the weather center with that.

Reynolds?

(WEATHER REPORT)

GRIFFIN: Coming up. We've got a real-live scene straight out of the movie "Titanic." We'll tell you the story behind this picture. That is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GRIFFIN: A cruise ship in the Antarctic had a Titanic experience. But fortunately, this was a much happier ending. No injuries reported. Avoid the (INAUDIBLE) after it hit a glacier Friday. The ship's engines were off as the passenger's reviewing this penguin nesting area. Well, when it was time to go, there was trouble restarting the engines. The boat drifted into the ice. A lifeboat crush, the ship had some damage. But a passenger reports, that quick thinking crew calm everyone down with lots of free drinks. I'm Drew Griffin. Thanks for joining me in the CNN NEWSROOM. CNN "SIU: James Brown: Say It Proud" begins right now.

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