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Ron Paul Under Fire; John Kerry Endorses Barack Obama; Pregnant Marine Still Missing

Aired January 10, 2008 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight: a string of new developments in campaign '08.
Candidate Bill Richardson gets out. And John Kerry -- Remember him? -- he gets in, kind of. He announced today he's endorsing Barack Obama. So is a close confidant of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Hillary Clinton has got her own endorsers, but do endorsements really matter? We will look at that tonight in "Raw Politics."

Also ahead in this hour: Racist words in newsletters bearing Ron Paul's name, do they really reflect his views? He speaks out. We're investigating, "Keeping Them Honest."

And what happened to Marine Lance Corporal Maria Lauterbach, pregnant and missing since being the holidays? New developments tonight point to the beginnings of an answer. We will explore all of that.

But we begin with the race for president and today's major new endorsement for Barack Obama, and a question: Do endorsements really matter? Do they actually translate into votes? Four out of five dentists surveyed may do great things for Trident, but can a John Kerry or a big union boss do the same for Barack Obama or anyone else?

The "Raw Politics" from CNN's Candy Crowley.



BARACK OBAMA (D), ILLINOIS STATE SENATOR: Let me express my deepest gratitude for the privilege of addressing this convention.


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Four years ago this summer, a little known Illinois state senator was the keynote speaker at the Democratic Convention which nominated John Kerry, yet another lesson in why not to burn your bridges.

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: And I'm here in South Carolina because this is the right time to share with you, to make sure that we know that I have the confidence and that Barack Obama can be, will be, and should be the next president of the United States.



WINFREY: South Carolina, I do believe he's the one.


CROWLEY: John Kerry is no Oprah Winfrey, but, as endorsements go, he's a good get.

He brings establishment credentials to Obama, who is essentially a national party newbie. He's worth a day of headlines. And, now we're getting to it, Kerry's got an estimated three million e-mail addresses, '04 supporters he's kept in touch with.

There is no direct link between individual endorsements and victory. Al Gore for Howard Dean comes to mind. But endorsements by the right name at the right time in the right place can send the right signal.

SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (I), CONNECTICUT: You know, I know it's unusual for a Democrat to be endorsing a Republican.

CROWLEY: Joe Lieberman endorsed Republican John McCain just before the primary in New Hampshire, where McCain needed independent votes.

Even people most voters couldn't pick out of a lineup can make the point.

SEN. EVAN BAYH (D), INDIANA: I'm here today to endorse Hillary Clinton's campaign.

CROWLEY: Indiana Senator Evan Bayh, a red state Democrat, stood beside Hillary Clinton when even party insiders worried she couldn't win in the South or Midwest.

Before lightning struck, Mike Huckabee tooled around with actor Chuck Norris. That's him enjoying the fruits of his labor. And a cast of characters regularly spices up John Edwards' daily campaign fare.

KEVIN BACON, ACTOR: You know, is there I can do? He said, "You can come to Iowa."

CROWLEY: It's hard to tell how many caucus-goers showed up to see Kevin Bacon and decided to caucus for John Edwards.

GOV. BILL RICHARDSON (D-NM), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am ending my campaign for president of the United States.

CROWLEY: New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, a Latino, dropped out of the race today. It's just over a week before the Nevada caucuses, where the Latino vote may play a major role. Raise your hand if you think it's a coincidence Bill Clinton has been in touch.


RICHARDSON: Well, yes, he called me quite a bit in the last couple of days. We talked. I talked to Senator Clinton. So did Senator Obama and Edwards called. You know, I even had a nice call from Mike Huckabee, who is an old pal of mine.


CROWLEY: Individual endorsements may matter only along the margins, but, in tight races, victory is in the margins.

Candy Crowley, CNN, Washington.


COOPER: Every little bit helps.

Joining us now, CNN senior political analyst David Gergen, CNN contributor and Democratic strategist Donna Brazile. Also with us tonight, Joe Klein, author of "Politics Lost" and a columnist for "TIME" magazine.

Here's the latest cover, borrowing our sentiments, even before the New Hampshire surprise, that it's all about the voters.

Good to see you all.

Donna, let's start with you. Just how important are endorsements? I mean, does anyone really care that John Kerry endorsed Barack Obama?

DONNA BRAZILE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it all depends on who endorses you and the timing.

I think, for John Kerry, who introduced Barack Obama to the nation during the 2004 convention, this is a very important endorsement for Barack Obama. We're about to enter the home stretch of the campaign season. And what Kerry's support and his committed volunteers that still pay attention to John Kerry, this could give him a much-needed boost.

Of course, it could also help Barack Obama raise a lot of money.

COOPER: David, liberal blogs didn't exactly embrace today's announcement. "The New York Times" had the reaction this way, they said, about the bloggers: "There are heaps of vindictive Democrats out there who still harbor a grudge toward Senator Kerry for not locking up the presidency in 2004. We're hard-pressed to think of another endorsement that has caused this much blogger outcry, except maybe Pat Robertson's support of Rudy Giuliani."



COOPER: I mean, is Kerry's loss still, I guess, too fresh in -- in the minds of some liberals?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Anderson, I think that, yes, John Kerry still has left a deep, deep sting. And there was no call at all for him to run again among the liberal side of the party.

But, nonetheless, this is symbolically important, for him to endorse just at this moment. And I think it's going to be -- I think it's going to be helpful. I think it's also going to raise this curious question of why did he not stay silent? What was it -- what's -- what's his distaste for the Clintons?

And you -- and it will drive people back to Bob Shrum's book. As you know, Bob Shrum was the manager for John Kerry's campaign. He since has written a book. And he quoted Kerry as saying, after the campaign was over, the only thing the Clintons care about is themselves and power.

That's the kind of drudging up that's not helpful.

COOPER: Joe, what -- what about that? I mean, what else do you know about his opinion of the Clintons, but also of John Edwards? Apparently, John Edwards didn't even hear about this, except through the media.

JOE KLEIN, COLUMNIST, "TIME": Well, there was real bad blood between Kerry and Edwards.

But I have to disagree with the other two commentators here. I think that this is a one-day story.

COOPER: Right.

KLEIN: It means practically nothing. Maybe among windsurfers, it means something.


KLEIN: But there are -- there are endorsements that are really important, an organizational endorsement, like a union endorsement.


COOPER: Like Barack Obama picked up in Nevada.

KLEIN: The Culinary Workers in Nevada. They may actually split their actual votes between Clinton and Obama, but what Obama gets is phone banks and organization and people going door to door. That's the kind of endorsement that means something.

EMILY's List, the feminist organization, that raises gazillions of dollars, endorsed Hillary Clinton. That's been very important for her.

COOPER: And also worked to mobilized, I think, some 10,000, if the number... KLEIN: Right.

COOPER: ... if I remember it correctly, people that go out to the polls.

KLEIN: But just -- you know, John Kerry emerging from the mists of mystery to endorse Barack Obama, I just think it brings back bad memories.

COOPER: Donna Brazile, you were saying that, in South Carolina, African-American women are going to be crucial to the vote. Do we know what kind of an impact Oprah Winfrey has had for Barack Obama?

BRAZILE: Look, Oprah Winfrey helped to make the pitch for Barack Obama. African-American have tremendous -- women -- have tremendous affection and admiration for Oprah Winfrey.

But Barack Obama has to close the deal. I think black women have -- they have a real dilemma in this race: Do we stick with the champion that has fought the battles over the last 20 years, or do we go with someone who may be prepared for the new battles to come?

I think black women will take a look at these two candidates and decide if they would like to go with the new candidate, the fresh face, vs. someone that they know and someone they have deep affection for.

Look, I know Joe Klein and I disagree, but having John Kerry in Barack Obama's camp at this moment allows Barack to have a national surrogate, someone who can draw media, someone who can help him make the case about his experience. I think he's made the case about his electability.

Having John Kerry, a war hero, someone who led the opposition to the war, on his side will help him in the weeks to come, especially as the Clinton campaign brings out more even experienced surrogates to try to take Obama's record apart.

COOPER: We are going to have more from all of you in just a moment. We will be right back in just a couple minutes with our panel.

John Kerry's backing of Barack Obama is big news today, but, as Candy touched on earlier, it's not the only one. There's -- here's the "Raw Data."

"The Washington Post" says the Democratic candidates have picked up a total of 235 political endorsements. Hillary Clinton has more than 104. With Republicans, the number 209. Mitt Romney and John McCain lead the pack for the GOP, both with 85.

So, continuing our discussion after the break, we are going to dig deeper into the key issues in play right now in South Carolina, what voters expect of the candidates.

And, later, we're going to take a look at Republican Ron Paul and some explosive accusations about his past.


COOPER (voice-over): He's the GOP underdog with an army of young supporters. But do they know about the newsletters with his name on the front and racist words inside? Tonight, Ron Paul answers the charges. We're "Keeping Them Honest."

Later: new developments in the search for the missing pregnant Marine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have been investigating this full speed ahead, and I believe it's going to pay off.

COOPER: All the latest in a case the nation is watching -- "Crime and Punishment," 360 tonight.



COOPER: Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama getting ready for a hectic string of caucuses and primaries, starting with Nevada on the 19th, and South Carolina on the 26th, she today campaigning in Nevada, where the restaurant workers have endorsed Barack Obama, he, as we mentioned, campaigning in Charleston, South Carolina.

Now, you don't need a weatherman to tell you the South Carolina climate is different from the one in Iowa or New Hampshire, not this time of year, but what about the political climate?

For that, it helps to have a Tom Foreman.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's not Iowa. It's not New Hampshire. The twin front-runners, Obama and Clinton, are now stepping into a very different battlefield in South Carolina.

And the most explosive issue there is a matter that has virtually vanished from the campaign trail. South Carolina Democrats feel considerably stronger than previous voters about getting out of the war. Three-quarters say we should exit Iraq as soon as possible. That appears to be one reason why a fair number of white voters have been leaning toward John Edwards. He's been pushing the idea of a quick withdrawal.

So, watch for both camps to try to siphon off some of his support. Watch for them to go after the economy, too. Democrats everywhere believe the economy is in trouble, but, in South Carolina, they think getting a job is particularly tough. They want the government to provide more services overall. They are more worried about health care. And Hillary Clinton will, of course, play that card big.

She has been doing well with older, less educated voters. He has done well with younger, more educated voters. And they both won their share of support from women. You all know that. But this is key. The battle so far has been almost entirely among whites. And half of South Carolina's Democrats are African-American.

There have been no reliable polls yet measuring the combined effect of Iowa and New Hampshire on the black vote in South Carolina. And, last month, it appeared pretty evenly split between Clinton and Obama, with no other candidates even being seriously considered.

So, where do those voters stand now? No one knows. We just know this: In a campaign full of surprises, the next ones could come from the South -- Anderson.


COOPER: Tom, thanks.

Back with CNN's David Gergen, Donna Brazile, and "TIME" magazine's Joe Klein.

Donna, as Tom just said, African-American votes make up some 50 percent of the Democratic voters in South Carolina. It's a difficult situation for African-American voters there with Clinton and Obama, at least for Democratic African-American voters. How do both these candidates try to -- to win over the groups?

BRAZILE: Well, first of all, Barack Obama started this season by introducing himself to African-American voters in South Carolina. They really don't know him.

They know Bill Clinton. They know Hillary Clinton. And they love Bill Clinton. Let me -- I cannot overstate why they love Bill Clinton. They believe that Bill Clinton, as president, helped deliver for African-Americans. He helped deliver on jobs. He helped deliver, of course, on housing and so many other issues.

They know Hillary Clinton is a champion for children and for education. Now they know Barack Obama. And I think the voters in Iowa and New Hampshire helped to answer one key question that black voters were concerned about. And that is, can he win? The answer is, of course he's electable. Now he must go down there and convince them to switch their allegiance, their support to Barack Obama.

I still believe that he can make the case. But Hillary Clinton is not going to give up the black vote easily. She will fight until the last minute. And she understands that, if black women support her, she will win South Carolina.

COOPER: And, Joe, John Edwards, he is obviously in it through South Carolina. He won there before. If he drops out after South Carolina, or whenever he drops out, where do his supporters go?

KLEIN: That's a -- that's one of the huge questions.

I mean, we have all of these unanswered questions about the Democratic electorate at this point. There are the black women of South Carolina. There are the Edwards voters, if he -- I mean, in the early polls in South Carolina, wasn't doing that well, maybe the 15 percent, 17 percent he got in -- in New Hampshire. But that's enough to tip the big February 5 contests one way or the other, depending on how his people go.

COOPER: David, before South Carolina, there's the Nevada caucuses, an early test out West. How is that contest shaping up?

GERGEN: Well, it was -- looked like Hillary Clinton territory. She's, by nature, stronger there, was that before Iowa. And New Hampshire should help her.

But the culinary announcement will make a big difference. It will help Barack Obama a lot. One of the most interesting questions now is, with Bill Richardson out of the race, who gets the Latino vote, which is heavy in Nevada? And, by all indications, Hillary Clinton should do well with the Latino vote.

Just as Donna said, that the Clintons are quite popular among African-Americans, and have been ever since their economic performance of the early '90s.

You will remember that Bill Clinton was inducted into the African-American Hall of Fame in Arkansas.


GERGEN: They made him an honorary African-American.

BRAZILE: He still is.

GERGEN: And they have some of that same...


GERGEN: Yes, exactly.

And, so -- and they have some of that same pull in the Latino community. And that's where I think Barack Obama is going to have to fight. He's going to have to prove that he can bring some of them over in those caucuses.

COOPER: Joe, you know, I haven't talked to you really much in the last couple days about Hillary Clinton. You have obviously followed the Clintons for a long time.

Do you see -- the things that we saw from Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire, the -- her, as she said, finding her voice, does that continue now, and does that only grow, or was that sort of a one-shot thing?

KLEIN: One would -- you know, one would hope so, if -- she would have to be really stupid politically not to continue to do that.

But it's amazing. The interesting thing about Hillary Clinton is that her first take on any given problem is to be hidden, to be covert, to be clenched. It was the way it was when she tried to sell health care in 1994. It's the way she was in this campaign.

And, then, finally, when she opens up and starts answering questions and showing her sense of humor, very importantly, in the debate on Saturday night and in her press conference on Sunday, then, all of a sudden, people start saying, well, she's not so bad.

And I -- I -- I can't imagine why they made the decision to run such a tight campaign to begin with.

COOPER: David, it's interesting, because you're the one who -- I mean, right immediately after Iowa, on this program, you said, look, she's got to personalize it; she's got to be more emotional; she's got to -- I guess things which you had seen working in that White House, at some point, you thought others should see, if she was to appeal to them.

You have no doubt that's going to continue?

GERGEN: I have no doubt.

But I'm really interested in hearing it. And thank you for calling -- I'm really interested in hearing what this new voice is and how she's going to play it, because she does have a tendency, when she gets into -- as Joe Klein has said on this program before, when -- sometimes, when she's in these tight contests and she's up in front of a crowd, she does tend to get a little shrill.

And how does she keep that sort of warmth, the openness, the vulnerability, if you would, in front of big crowds? I think that's going to be a real test for her. I'm -- so, I think -- I'm really curious, before we even hear the votes, what is this new voice going to be that she said that she has discovered?

KLEIN: You know, I have this weird idea that it goes back to 1968. Everybody compares to Barack Obama to Robert Kennedy. In some ways, Hillary Clinton is the Hubert Humphrey of this campaign, the champion of the working class, especially working-class women. And, if she's the happy warrior, as he was, that may be the way for her to win other people's hearts.

COOPER: It's getting more and more interesting.

Donna Brazile, Joe Klein, David Gergen, thanks, as always.

BRAZILE: Thank you.

COOPER: We will have more of the '08 race ahead, including Ron Paul under fire, accusations of racist rants, but he says he didn't write them. Will investigate and we're "Keeping Them Honest."

But, first, Erica Hill joins us with a 360 bulletin -- Erica.

ERICA HILL, HEADLINE NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, Iran says the U.S. version of what happened Sunday in the Strait of Hormuz is a lie, claiming the U.S. video of a standoff between Iranian and U.S. Navy ships has old footage and fake audio. So, today, Iran released its own video.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Coalition warship 73, this is Iranian navy patrol boat. How do you copy? Over.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is coalition warship 73. I read you loud and clear. Over.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Coalition warship 73, this is Iranian navy patrol boat requesting side number, present course and speed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is coalition warship 73. I am operating in international waters.


HILL: Iran says no threat was made against the Americans. U.S. officials suggest the Iranian video has been edited.

In the Colombian jungle, two women held by FARC rebels for more than five years are free. Their release was orchestrated by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

In Florida, a former teacher who admitted to having sex with a 14-year-old boy in 2004 won't be punished for violating her probation. Debra Lafave hugged a female teen at the restaurant where she worked, but denies ever talking to the girl about sex. The judge told Lafave, please don't come back.

And, Anderson, I say, please don't come back.


HILL: I'm kind of done.

COOPER: Do you ever notice that, on a lot of cable news stations, that, whenever they say the name Debra Lafave, this photo pops up?

HILL: Huh.


HILL: Interesting.

COOPER: It's true.

HILL: So, if I were to say, Debra Lafave...


COOPER: She has changed positions slightly, apparently.

HILL: How about that?

COOPER: Yes. But, you know, Debra Lafave is now working -- yes, see? There's the photo again.

HILL: As a grease monkey?

Where did she get those shoes, by the way?


HILL: I mean Debra Lafave.


HILL: No, the Debra Lafave with the shoes.

COOPER: Well, Debra Lafave is actually working at...

HILL: That one. See? Look at those shoes.

COOPER: You're right. OK.


HILL: I'm sorry. Those are horrendous.

COOPER: But, no, Debra Lafave is working at her mother's...

HILL: Beauty salon.

COOPER: ... beauty salon as a receptionist.

HILL: She's a receptionist.

COOPER: Debra Lafave.



HILL: Oh, yes? Debra Lafave.

COOPER: Erica, stay right there.


COOPER: "What Were They Thinking?" is next. And, tonight, we ask that question about a guy who has decided to live in Ikea. That's right. He will sleep in their beds, wash in their sinks, and dine on -- mmm -- Swedish meatballs. What was he thinking, and, frankly, what were they thinking? -- coming up.

Plus: hateful words -- Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul under fire for old newsletters with his name on them. You're not going to believe some of the things these newsletters said. The question is, did he write the racist rants?

We're "Keeping Them Honest" -- when 360 continue.s


COOPER: Erica, time now for "What Were They Thinking?"

A guy here in New York is getting work done on his apartment. He's not staying with friends, not enough room, or a hotel. That's too expensive. So, he has moved into an Ikea store for the week.

HILL: Of course.


Mark Malkoff, that's his name. He is eating meals there at Ikea. He's living among the furniture and other trinkets up for sale in the store. He's bouncing on the beds there.

He apparently brought in -- I don't think they like that sort of thing.


HILL: He moved his toiletries into the bathroom. How about that? He's like, I'm just going to put my eye cream here.

COOPER: He brought two bags of stuff. He's planning to host a house-warming party this week.


COOPER: Apparently, he has approval from the store. They thought it would be a lot of fun -- translation: good publicity.

And it worked, because here we are talking about Ikea.

HILL: Indeed. It did work.

COOPER: You might recognize Mark, because I know you're a big Internet surfer.

HILL: Huge.

COOPER: He's known for his video "171 Starbucks..."

HILL: That's him.

COOPER: ... a documentary of his visits to all the coffee chain's store in Manhattan on a single day, 171 stores in one day.

So, clearly, this guy...

HILL: Not bad.

COOPER: ... has a pension for, A, publicity, and, B, large chain stores.

HILL: Well, and he is fulfilling both of them right there.

Isn't he filming part of his Ikea experience, I think?

COOPER: No, I can't imagine he would doing such a thing.


You know what one of my favorite parts about that story is?


HILL: I was surprised to learn that he's married. But his wife...


COOPER: That surprised you?

HILL: Right.


HILL: But his wife -- I think her name is Christie -- she was like, you know what? I'm not down with the Ikea for a week. So, have fun. I'm not joining you.


HILL: I wonder why.

COOPER: Probably best.

All right, Erica.

He's a straight talker. And, as a presidential candidate, that can sometimes get you in trouble. However, it isn't a campaign speech, but hateful words in a newsletter bearing his name that have Republican Ron Paul on the defense tonight. But did he write them? We're "Keeping Them Honest."

And later: A very pregnant 20-year-old Marine is missing, leaving behind a lot more questions than answers tonight -- the clues and the confusion in "Crime and Punishment" ahead on 360.


COOPER: It seems like, whenever you will find a camera, you will find Ron Paul supporters chanting his name, trying to make sure his message gets across. It happened to us Monday night in New Hampshire.

Paul has his believers. The maverick Republican also has about eight times more cash on hand than Mike Huckabee. He is looking ahead.

Tonight, we're turning to his past, however. It's about allegations involving some newsletters released under his name. The words printed on them are shocking. Paul responded to the charges in an interview today with CNN. "Keeping Them Honest" with a forceful reply and the story, here's CNN's Brian Todd.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you for serving our country.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He's not considered a presidential front-runner, but Ron Paul has raised tens of millions of dollars from a devoted base, many of them young people who love his libertarian straight talk.

HILL: The role, of course, is to return this country to sanity.

TODD: But how is this for straight talk, June 1992, right after the L.A. riots, in a copy obtained by CNN of "The Ron Paul Political Report," one of several newsletters published in his name during the 1980s and '90s -- quote -- "Order was only restored in L.A. when it came time for the blacks to pick up their welfare checks."

Another excerpt: "The criminals who terrorize our cities in riots and on every non-riot day are not exclusively young black males, but they largely are. As children, they are trained to hate whites, to believe that white oppression is responsible for all black ills, to fight the power, to steal and loot as much money from the white enemy as possible."

None of the articles we found say who wrote them.

In an interview on CNN's program "THE SITUATION ROOM," Paul said:


PAUL: But everybody knows in my district that I didn't write them and I don't speak like that. And nobody has heard me ever say anything like that.


TODD: Not good enough for one political veteran.

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: These stories may be very old in Ron Paul's life, but they're very new to the American public. And they deserve to be totally ventilated. And I must say, I don't think it's an excuse in politics to have somebody go out under your name and say, oh by the way, I didn't write that.

TODD: In some excerpts, the reader may be led to believe the words are Ron Paul's. In "The Ron Paul Political Report" in October 1992, the writer describes car-jacking as "the hip-hop thing to do among the urban youth, who play unsuspecting whites like pianos," writes about advice from others on how to avoid carjacking, then: "I frankly don't know what to make of such advice, but, even in my little town of Lake Jackson, Texas, I have urged everyone in my family to know how to use a gun in self-defense," for the animals are coming."

Paul's spokesman says Paul has lived in Lake Jackson for years, but says Paul never wrote that, and is saddened that someone took advantage of him.

Paul says he's taken moral responsibility for the newsletters, says he's not racist, but he couldn't answer a key question.


BLITZER: How did this stuff get in these Ron Paul newsletters? Who wrote it?

RON PAUL (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I have no idea. Have you ever heard of a publisher of a magazine not knowing every single thing? The editor is responsible for the daily activities. And people come and they go, and there were some people that were hired. I don't know any of their names.

TODD: We spoke to the editor of "Reason," a libertarian magazine which shares some of Paul's beliefs on big government. He says he's never heard Paul speak like that but...

MATT WELCH, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, "REASON" MAGAZINE: What he has not done and what -- what I think some people are looking for him to do is to say OK, who wrote what? I mean, there's 20 years, give or take, worth of newsletters there.

TODD: Newsletters that rant against Martin Luther King, the Israeli lobby, gays and AIDS victims. Many of them were reported this week by the "New Republic" magazine. There's one newsletter addressing American militias, ranting against the federal government, saying, "If they mean to have a war, let it begin here." That's from January 1995, just as Ron Paul was getting set to take office in his second stint in Congress.

(on camera) When we asked if Mr. Paul would try to find out who wrote this material, his spokesman said, "No, what's the point? It's time to move on." Paul himself says this is all rehash, and he's the victim of a political witch hunt.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


COOPER: A quick program note, tomorrow on 360, my interview with Eric Volt, the American freed from a Nicaraguan prison last night after an appeals court overturned his murder conviction. He's back home in America and talking about the nightmarish chain of events that landed him behind bars in Nicaragua for more than a year.

Here's a preview.


COOPER: What was prison in Nicaragua like? ERIC VOLZ, FREED FROM NICARAGUAN PRISON: Man, it's -- prisons in Nicaragua are not like U.S. prisons. You know, it's extremely dangerous. You know, it destroys you a little bit at a time.

COOPER: A little bit at a time?

VOLZ: Yes. It really gets to you. You know, I saw people die, you know, from, you know, lack of medical attention, you know, gang violence and just simple neglect, you know.


COOPER: My interview with Eric Volz tomorrow on 360.

Just ahead tonight, the Republican debate. We'll bring you a quick blow-by-blow and tonight a new feature, something we're calling "Beat 360." Cue the cheesy music. We put a picture on the 360 blog. And we're looking for a caption better than the one from our staff. Here's the picture from the London Zoo today. Here's our caption. "There must be some mistake. Check under Puffin one more time. With two 'F's.' Don't worry sweetheart. I have this under control."

All right. Well, if you don't like it so much, come up with your own caption. Check it out at We'll be right back.


COOPER: We want to tell you about that Marine. She is missing. She's also believed to be 8 1/2 months pregnant. At the time of her disappearance, the 20-year-old was stationed at Camp Lejeune, the military base in North Carolina.

Now, tonight the search is turning up new clues and new developments. As you'll see, they only add to the mystery, however.

CNN's Randi Kaye has more in tonight's "Crime and Punishment."


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Maria Lauterbach is a 20-year-old Marine stationed in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. She's also pregnant. In fact, she's expecting her first child any day now. That is, if she's alive.

SHERIFF ED BROWN, ONSLOW COUNTY, NORTH CAROLINA: You know, when things just don't fall in place like -- fall in place like you think they should, then that gives you concern.

KAYE: Sheriff Ed Brown has been searching for Lauterbach for weeks. He's faced with many mysteries. The first: did she leave on her own or is she in danger?

Marine Sergeant Daniel Durham may have been the last person to have spoken with her. He's also just been ordered by the Marines to return from California, back to North Carolina. Police now call him a key witness. He's been interviewed before, but the sheriff says some things don't match up. Sheriff Brown says he wants to look Durham in the eyes again.

BROWN: Body language tells you a lot. Body language tells you a whole lot.

KAYE: The search warrant obtained by CNN shows Durham's laptop was taken as evidence from this home he shares with the missing Marine.

(on camera) What would be of interest on a laptop?

BROWN: You would be surprised what you can find out from computers. Everything is of interest. Everything.

KAYE (voice-over): The sheriff says Sergeant Durham left for training in California about two weeks after Lauterbach disappeared. Investigators are especially curious about Durham's interest in the case and comments he's made.

The next big question mark: does what Lauterbach claimed happened to her at Camp Lejeune have anything to do with her disappearance? She filed claims of sexual assault against a senior officer there. The military says they're investigating the incident, but inconsistencies in her story have made the case difficult to pursue.

And that gets us to another issue. Lauterbach has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and has a history of compulsive lying. In fact, Lauterbach was facing a possible discharge due to the personal and professional stress.

But despite a troubled personal life, investigators remain concerned about evidence of a crime. Lauterbach went missing on December 14, and since then money has been withdrawn from her bank account. The sheriff told me there is surveillance tape of a man making that withdrawal, and reports show he was even trying to cover up the surveillance camera.

(on camera) On Monday, by chance, Lauterbach's car was discovered here in the parking lot of this fast food restaurant. One of the investigators working the case happened to come by to grab a hamburger and noticed the car. At first, they thought it had been parked here just that day, but the sheriff says one of the employees told him that it had been parked here since December 15, the day after Lauterbach was reported missing.

(voice-over) And oddly, her cell phone was found outside Camp Lejeune on December 20. That has investigators perplexed. Why there? And why the day after her case was made public?

Her family hopes answers will come through this FaceBook Web page where they are pleading for help.

MARY LAUTERBACH, MOTHER OF MISSING MARINE: I just want to see her again. I hope to see her. I hope the baby's healthy.

KAYE: Whether she ran or not, her mother wants her home.


COOPER: Such a strange case. Randi, any idea when this Sergeant Daniel Durham may be arriving back?

KAYE: Well, Anderson, the sheriff told me -- I just spoke with him a moment ago, and the sheriff told me he was willing to stay into the night to speak with him. He was hoping to talk to him late tonight. That isn't going to happen. He's told now that he will be able to speak with him by noon tomorrow. He should have some answers for us after that, sometime in the afternoon.

He said this conversation with Sergeant Durham will really determine which way this investigation goes. It will either put a very positive outlook on his day, he said, or make him realize that he should be under some real stress, and this is a much more serious situation than it appears it could be at this moment.

He does know that the sergeant is on his way back. He has been told that they want to question him again. They were thinking that he might make some comments to some of his superiors about this or some of his contacts. But at this point it doesn't appear that he has.

COOPER: All right, Randi, thanks.

Up next, the GOP debate in South Carolina just wrapping up. We'll be wrapping it up, too, showing you the high points when 360 returns.


COOPER: Back to politics now and Republican politics. South Carolina is known as the firewall, and that's where the GOP candidates were tonight, facing off in the state where southern conservatives famously have clout.

The debate ended a short time ago. CNN's John King joins me now live from Myrtle Beach -- John.

JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, it was an interesting debate. Noteworthy that the Republicans spent a lot more time talking about each other than they did, as we've seen in past debates, criticizing the Democrats. And that is a reflection of the stakes in this race.

We're moving in, after Iowa and New Hampshire, into the contests that tend to knock more and more candidates from the race.

One of the most interesting dynamics tonight, we saw a more assertive, more aggressive Fred Thompson than we have seen in past debates. And there's good reason for that. His own staff called South Carolina his last stand, saying they're, quote, "going Custer."

Who did Thompson took aim at? He took aim at the man now in the lead here in South Carolina, Mike Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas, the man who, of course, won the Iowa caucuses. Like Iowa, South Carolina has a strong evangelical base. Fred Thompson needs those votes to survive in this race. He made the case that look closely at Governor Huckabee, telling evangelicals he campaigns as a conservative, but look again.


FRED THOMPSON (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: On the one hand you have a Reagan revolution. You have the Reagan coalition of limited government and strong national security.

On the other hand you have a direction that Governor Huckabee would take us in. He would be a Christian leader, but he would also bring about liberal economic policies, liberal foreign policies. He believes we have an arrogant foreign policy, in the tradition of blame America first.


KING: Governor Huckabee says, of course, took issue with that. He says, when he had to raise taxes as governor, he did so to improve roads and schools. And he said he would not have a liberal foreign policy. That was one of the dynamics, Anderson, the Thompson-Huckabee dynamic.

Another one, even though this debate was in South Carolina, was more about the next stop on the primary calendar, and that is the state of Michigan. Michigan has a nearly 8 percent unemployment rate. The issues there are jobs, jobs, and jobs. The two top contenders at the moment, John McCain, the winner in New Hampshire; Mitt Romney, who was born in Michigan and is, of course, the former Massachusetts governor.

Early on in the debate they had an exchange over the economy, Governor Romney saying McCain was a pessimist for saying that some jobs, once they're lost, will never come back.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: One of the reasons why I won in New Hampshire is because I went there and told them the truth. And sometimes you have to tell people things they don't want to hear along with things that they do want to hear. There are jobs. A little straight talk. There's some jobs that aren't coming back to Michigan. There's some jobs that won't come back here to South Carolina.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I know that there's some people who think as Senator McCain did. He said, you know, some jobs that left Michigan that are never coming back. I disagree. I'm going to fight for every single job. Michigan, South Carolina, every state in this country, we're going to fight for jobs and make sure that our future is bright. We're going to protect the jobs of Americans and grow this economy again.


KING: Illegal immigration, the recent military confrontation, the small confrontation with Iranian boats in the Strait of Hormuz also among the topics, Anderson. The candidates full well know the stakes. Not since -- every time since 1980, the winner of South Carolina's primary has gone on to win the Republican nomination.

COOPER: John, how -- where did Iraq play into the debate tonight?

KING: It's interesting, because this is the one-year anniversary of President Bush calling for the so-called surge, the increase in troops in Iraq. Senator McCain tried to turn that to his advantage, saying he was the one Republican presidential candidate on stage who criticized the president's policy early on, criticizing Secretary Rumsfeld, calling for more troops, and McCain saying essentially that reflects his national security experience and his skills.

All of the Republican candidates, though, Anderson, support the surge. It is interesting to watch as the campaign goes on. While McCain hopes it helps him, Iraq generally, less and less of an issue, as it was back in the beginning of last year.

COOPER: We'll hear more from John and our panel up at the top of the next hour.

Right now, though, next on 360, a country in crisis. Hundreds of people killed, hundreds of thousands more forced to flee their homes. How one of the safest places in Africa, Kenya, became a danger zone. We'll go up close with a live report from Mombasa, next.


COOPER: Up close tonight, the crisis in Kenya and why it's closer than you might think. U.S. officials are now warning Americans against all but essential travel to the East African nation. Kenya stunned the world two weeks ago when it erupted in a blood bath. It's usually one of the most stable countries in Africa, but now it's a country on the edge. And the stakes are huge.

CNN's Zain Verjee is there.


ZAIN VERJEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For years, Kenya has been the far-away place you go to see big game in the wild. Tourism has meant billions of dollars to Kenya, in large part because, unlike so many other African countries, it's safe from warring tribes and unrest.

But not now. Now, suddenly Kenya is on fire. A key U.S. ally is at risk. And look at these empty beaches. Tourists are fleeing.

The explosion began after an election two weeks ago. Charges of vote fraud ignited old tribal hatreds. In just days, this tranquil country saw 600 people killed, and more than 200,000 have fled their homes. Some Kenyans have called it ethnic cleansing.

(on camera) Everybody here is from a slum on the outskirts of Nairobi called Marvata (ph). For years, the tribes have lived together peacefully side by side peacefully. They've co-existed with no problem. But with this latest election violence, they've turned on each other.

Shiru (ph) was beaten. Her husband, George, was almost hacked to death, their home destroyed by their own neighbors.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are there with them for so long. Something like this has never happened. It was the first time.

VERJEE: The violence, so sudden, so unexpected. The U.S. and Britain warned their citizens to avoid Kenya.

In the two weeks since the controversial election, international mediators have come and gone. The president and his challenger have yet to meet. And violence in the streets continues.

Earlier today, police used tear gas to break up a women's protest in Nairobi.

Strategically, an unstable Kenya is bad news for Washington. U.S. forces use its ports and fly out of its air bases. That relationship is especially critical, because Somalia is next door, and for years it's been racked with chaos while radical Islamic groups only grow stronger there.

JENDAYI FRAZER, U.S. ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE: It's a key country in supporting the global war on terror, no doubt about it.

VERJEE: Washington's biggest fear, Kenya could collapse, destabilizing all of east Africa. And even if that worst case scenario is averted, this violence has set the country back years, damaging its fragile democracy and draining billions of dollars from its economy.

And for people like Shiru (ph), the bloodshed has sewn fear and suspicion where there once was peace.


COOPER: Zain, you're from Kenya. What's it been like coming back there?

VERJEE: Anderson, it's been really difficult for me personally. It's really heart-breaking to see what's going on. I mean, Kenyans have always co-existed fairly peacefully. The different tribes, there are about 40 of them in this country, and they have had significant underlying tensions. They've been fighting for years over things like water and grazing rights.

But I've never seen this kind of poisonous atmosphere, the tribal tensions and hatreds that have really been exacerbated by this election that was split down the middle, essentially, on tribal lines.

Kenyans, what people here are looking for is toward their leaders to rise above the occasion, many of them tell me, to find some way out of this through political compromise and not violence. Kenyans have gotten together, and they're launching this major campaign, saying save our beloved Kenya -- Anderson.

COOPER: And so far compromise is not something the leaders are willing or able to bring about. Zain Verjee, thanks very much. Stay safe.

"The Shot" is just ahead. Tonight, we remember a legend, Sir Edmund Hillary, who did what no one had ever did before.

First, Erica Hill joins us with a "360 News and Business Bulletin" -- Erica.

ERICA HILL, HEADLINE NEWS ANCHOR: Anderson, in Iraq, U.S. warplanes pummeled a suspected safe haven for al Qaeda just outside of Baghdad with 40,000 pounds of bombs. The attack was one of the biggest air strikes of the war and part of a new country-wide push against insurgents.

An autopsy of Donda West, the mother of rap star Kanye West, showed no sign her death was caused by a surgical mistake. West, who had a preexisting cardiac condition, died in November just a day after having a tummy tuck and breast reduction surgery. The autopsy said the exact cause of her death, though, is impossible to know.

Stocks rallying today. The Dow surged 117 points to 12,853. The NASDAQ gained 13. The S&P climbed 11 -- Anderson.

COOPER: So Erica, you know, we started an item on our blog today called "Beat 360." We put a picture on the 360 blog and asked people to submit a little caption better than the one from our staff.

Here's the picture, zoo keepers taking inventory at the London Zoo yesterday. Our favorite posting comes from Jan in Honolulu, who said, "A ticket, officer? We're not drunk. We always walk like that."

HILL: I love that. It's very cute.


HILL: Especially since I just watched "Happy Feet" the other night. So...

COOPER: There you go. He always walks like that.


HILL: There it is.

COOPER: A little slow. Got to work on that.

All right, Erica, don't go anywhere. "The Shot" is next. We're going to take you to the top of the world where history was made more than half a century ago by this man. A remarkable man who, we learned late today, has passed away, Sir Edmund Hillary. Next on 360. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Erica, "The Shot" tonight is of a legend. Sir Edmund Hillary, one of the 20th century's greatest adventurers, has died today, we learned now, at the age of 88.

He came from New Zealand. He made history in 1953, becoming the first man to set foot on top of Mt. Everest, the world's highest peak. He was just 33 years old.

He returned to Nepal more than 120 times to do humanitarian work over the course of his life.

And Erica, did you know that for 33 years, he refused to say whether he or his sherpa guide, Tenzing Norgay, was the first man to summit Everest. He actually waited until Norgay's death in 1986 to set the record straight.

HILL: Which is very sweet. What an incredible man.

COOPER: Yes, very modest man.

We want you to send us your "Shot" ideas. If you see some great videos, tell us about it:

Six candidates, one very important presidential debate. With the Republican primary in South Carolina less than two weeks away, tonight's debate in Myrtle Beach was one last chance for GOP candidates to polish their positions and take a few jabs at the frontrunners. We're going to sort it out with the best political team in the business, next on 360.


COOPER: Fresh from the chilly New Hampshire, the candidates descend on South Carolina, where the weather is warmer and campaign '08 is heating up. Tonight, the Republican debate, six contenders, a wide open race. We look at how they handled the pressure and tackled the issues.

Also, John Kerry, remember him? He's endorsing Barack Obama. We'll explore how much, or perhaps how little endorsements are really worth.