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Showdown Over Iraq; Politics of Trade

Aired April 7, 2008 - 20:00   ET


CAMPBELL BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, a high-stakes showdown over the war in Iraq. And just as there has been a surge in fighting, the top U.S. commander prepares to go front and center on Capitol Hill. It is such an important issue that all three presidential candidates are coming off the campaign trail to fire questions at him.
Plus, tonight, the politics of trade. It's a dominant theme in this election. And tonight, why it has led to a big demotion for a top adviser to the Clinton campaign.

We are, though, going to start with the war in Iraq. All eyes will be on Capitol Hill tomorrow, when the top two Americans in Iraq, General David Petraeus and U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker, give lawmakers a progress report. Now, among the U.S. senators they will be reporting to, presidential candidates Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and John McCain.

Pentagon officials tell CNN they do not expect General Petraeus to recommend additional U.S. troop cuts. And while the violence has been down dramatically since last year, there has been a new spike in fighting for the past few weeks, ever since Iraqi security forces tried to take out some of the Shiite militias.

Despite the new violence, Senator McCain today told they Veterans of Foreign Wars that our Iraq strategy is finally on the right track.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We are no longer staring into the abyss of defeat, and we can now look ahead to the genuine prospect of success. Our goal is an Iraq that no longer needs American troops. And I believe we can achieve that goal perhaps sooner than many imagine.


BROWN: During that speech, McCain staked out the battle lines for tomorrow by labeling his opponents' plans to withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq as the height of irresponsibility and a failure of leadership. It could be quite a showdown tomorrow.

We have got senior political correspondent Candy Crowley joining us from Washington. Senior international correspondent Nic Robertson is in Baghdad, where he has been embedded with U.S. and Iraqi forces. and Michael Ware is based in Baghdad, but tonight he is here with us in New York in the ELECTION CENTER.

Welcome to everyone.

And welcome to you, Michael. It's good to have you here.

Let me start with you. You're recently back from Baghdad.


BROWN: So, it's been about six months since we heard from Petraeus and Crocker the last time they were on Capitol Hill. What do you think has changed over the last six months, based on what you have seen on the ground?

WARE: Well, some of the gangs of the surge have been consolidated, all right?

But, first, you have to ask yourself, what exactly is the surge? Now, here in America, it's these sold as this veneer of 30,000 additional combat troops sent to reinforce the capital. But it's actually a lot more than that. And it began well before President Bush's January 10 speech last year.

Basically, America cut a deal with the Baathist insurgency putting 70,000 insurgents on the U.S. government taxpayer payroll. They have accommodated anti-American Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. They now recognize him as a legitimate player in the country, where once they hunted him.

BROWN: Right.

WARE: And they have assisted in cementing or institutionalizing the sectarian cleansing of the capital, Baghdad, by erecting blast barriers around Sunni and Shia communities, so they can't get at each other and slaughter each other.

Now, all of this has brought the death toll down. And no one is going to begrudge that. We all celebrate that. But essentially what we have seen America do is build Sunni militias to counterbalance Iran's militias and to use as a stick to beat the Iraqi government, which is a so-called ally of the U.S.

So, what we have seen is a consolidation of all of that and we have also seen a consolidation of Iranian influence in Iraq, which is the real story now of this war, America's competition with Iran which in many ways America is losing.

BROWN: Well, let me bring Nic into this and talk about -- a little bit about what's happened over the last couple of days.

And, Nic, you have seen some pretty dramatic stuff I know over the last few days from your position, and we have some video. I believe this is from Sadr City of a gun battle that was ensuing earlier. You can hear gunshots in the background. But walk us through the kind of things you have witnessed in this most recent fighting.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, what we're seeing on the streets of Sadr City is a really intense urban warfare where U.S. and Iraqi troops are fighting side by side against the militia of Muqtada al-Sadr, the Mahdi army.

This fight is one where the Iraqi troops are still afraid to go into the front, where they're not quite ready to go into the front, where the job of the U.S. troops who are fighting with them is to encourage them and push them forward. The Iraqi army has been equipped, it's been trained, but they still don't believe -- they haven't taken that threshold step of really believing in themselves in a lot of cases and that's what the American soldiers we were with were was encouraging the Iraqi army to do.

But the bigger picture of what they're doing is about two weeks ago the prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, opened up a new offensive against Shia militias here, in particular the militia of cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. This is a new dimension to the war, as Michael was saying, and it's a big one. Over two million Shias live in Sadr City.

It has become a safe haven for militias, where they are armed and equipped and trained by Iran. They use Sadr City to fire missiles into the Green Zone here, the secure International Zone, where the U.S. Embassy is. The weekend before last, two Americans were killed there by missiles fired from Sadr City. So it's high stakes for everyone right now, but it is a new departure and a new dimension, the government cracking down on these Shia militias with the army not quite ready to do it yet -- Campbell.

BROWN: Well, and, Nic, let me bring up a map that we have just to help you explain it to people a little better. This will demonstrate that there's only a very small portion of Sadr City where U.S. troops can even patrol. Is that correct?

ROBERTSON: What's fascinating about that map is Sadr City is this huge area, two million to 2.5 million Shias and if you look, there is a very thin sliver at the bottom section of the map. That became critical, because that was the zone that Shia militias with Iranian-made missiles had to get into to fire those missiles accurately at the Green Zone, the International Zone, the U.S. Embassy.

That became the critical battleground. That is where U.S. troops have been going into. But the vast majority of Sadr City, U.S. troops can only go into very, very, very rarely, perhaps only a couple of times over the past three or four months, and that's what's made it a safe haven for these Iranian-backed special groups with training and equipment from Iran. And that's the big concern.

BROWN: Candy, let me bring you into this and let's talk a little bit about the politics of it. We have got General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker going to Capitol Hill tomorrow. All three presidential candidates are going to be there to have the opportunity to question them, essentially playing two roles, senator and presidential candidate.

Talk us through that clash and how that's likely to play out tomorrow. CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think right away we can say they're going to be seen as presidential candidates. This is now too far into the season for them to be anything else but that.

It's going to be tricky, I think, for Barack Obama and for Hillary Clinton, because obviously the Democratic Party very anti-war. And what they have wanted is candidates who got tougher and tougher and tougher on this war.

And then you have General Petraeus, a man of great esteem. And what these candidates need to do is first of all criticize the war without looking as though they're being disrespectful to him and they also have to look presidential, so they can't be picky. They can't look mean. They have to kind of, you know, rise above what normally is the Senate byplay and they have to look presidential, particularly Barack Obama, but also Hillary Clinton.

For John McCain, I think we will hear more of what we heard today, which is, listen, what about the Iraqis? What would it take for us to leave the Iraqis in a safe place? Because what John McCain has to do is prove that he does want an end to the war, but he wants it in a responsible way, because that way he hopes to differentiate himself obviously from the Bush administration.

So, I think there's lots of byplay here. Everyone will be trying to prove their point, but they have to be presidential while they do it.

BROWN: All right.

To Nic, to Michael here in the studio with me, and to Candy in Washington, as always, thanks, everybody. Appreciate it.

And CNN will have full coverage tomorrow of Ambassador Ryan Crocker and General Petraeus' report on Iraq. If you can't watch it on TV, you can see the testimony on

And there's been a big fuss on the campaign trail over a remark made at a Barack Obama fund-raiser. Next, I will ask the guy who called John McCain a warmonger if he's going to take it back.


BROWN: Republicans jumped all over Barack Obama this weekend after liberal talk radio host Ed Schultz while warming up the crowd at a Friday night Obama fund-raiser in North Dakota called John McCain a warmonger.

An Obama spokesman backed away from the remarks on Saturday, saying that John McCain is not a warmonger and should not be described as such. In fact, McCain frequently talks about how much he hates war, like during today's VFW speech.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MCCAIN: I hold my position on Iraq not because I am indifferent to the suffering caused by this war but because I detest war, and believe sincerely that should we fail in Iraq we will face an even sterner test in the very near future.


BROWN: Nationally syndicated radio host Ed Schultz, whose remarks started all this fuss, is joining us from Fargo, North Dakota, along with Republican strategist and former Romney national press secretary Kevin Madden, who is joining us from Washington.

Welcome to both of you.


BROWN: So, Ed, I'm going to read you the dictionary definition -- I have got it right here -- of warmonger. This is a person who advocates, endorses, or tries to precipitate war.

You heard what John McCain just said, honestly, that he detests war. That's the word he uses. Is that fair? Was it fair to call him that?

ED SCHULTZ, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Absolutely. He is a warmonger. This is not a personal shot at John McCain.

This is labeling a candidate. Just like there's a pro-life candidate, he is a warmongering candidate. He has absolutely no endgame to Iraq, other than to cheerlead for the surge. He wants to build up the military even further. He said on the stump in New Hampshire that he would deal with Iran and gave no definition of that.

And now he wants to throw the Russians out of the G8. Here we are occupying Iraq and he wants to throw the Russians out of the G8 and build up the military. Now, if that's not warmongering, I don't know what is. I'm not under any pressure to apologize. And I have no intention of apologizing.

It's not about his war record. It's about his policies.

BROWN: All right.

Kevin, I know the McCain campaign has been pretty upset about this, but doesn't Ed have a right, doesn't anybody have a right to characterize candidates any way they choose? Why is this such a big deal?

MADDEN: Well, I think the McCain campaign has every right to be upset with this, and I think millions of Americans who would listen to Ed Schultz talk to -- talk about somebody who is both a POW, a former POW, and a war hero as a warmonger, I mean, it just -- it defies comprehension how somebody can do that and be as disingenuous to say that it is not a personal attack. This is exactly a case study, Campbell, of how the two campaigns have chosen to conduct themselves. John McCain is out there advocating on the merits for what he thinks is an important national security policy. And Barack Obama is going to talk about the new politics of not launching personal attacks.

SCHULTZ: This has nothing to do with Barack Obama.

MADDEN: ... but he is instead -- but, instead, you see folks out there like Ed Schultz who are out there advocating for Barack Obama and they go out there and they engage in the same politics of the past.


BROWN: Hang on. Go ahead. OK.

MADDEN: You're talking about the politics of engaging...

SCHULTZ: First of all, this has nothing to do with Barack Obama. Barack Obama doesn't speak for me and I'm not a surrogate for the campaign.


BROWN: Yes, but, Ed, you made the comment at an Obama rally.


MADDEN: Ed, you made a personal attack.

And, Campbell, if I may.

Ed, you made a personal attack against somebody...

SCHULTZ: It is not a personal attack.

MADDEN: Look, when you make a personal attack, you call somebody a warmonger who has...

SCHULTZ: It is not a personal attack.


MADDEN: Ed, please.

SCHULTZ: It is connected to his policies. He has no endgame for Iraq. He wants to build up the military. Millions of Americans believe that what I'm saying is the absolute truth. And just because John McCain was held in captive in North Vietnam doesn't mean that he is any better of American than anybody else.


MADDEN: Ed, millions of people that are watching this debate between you and I right now see you ratcheting up this type of rhetoric and offering a personal attack against somebody who has a distinguished career of serving this country and somebody who has...


SCHULTZ: It is not a personal attack. And I'm not going to let you...


SCHULTZ: ... as a personal attack.


MADDEN: John McCain is somebody who is a former POW, who understands the burden of war. And yet you want to stand there and you want to yell.


MADDEN: And you don't want to engage in a thoughtful conversation about this.


SCHULTZ: This is connected to his policies.


SCHULTZ: The fact is, his policies have no endgame for Iraq. He wants to build up the military. He even went down today and spoke to the VFW guys down there in Kansas City. He won't even support the G.I. Bill that the senator from Virginia and Nebraska have up.


SCHULTZ: He won't even support. He's voted against veterans' benefits time and time again.



BROWN: Kevin gets the last word here, Ed. Kevin gets the last word.

Go ahead.

MADDEN: Campbell, if I may, what you just saw is somebody blowing their stack offering a personal attack, vs. John McCain who has gone out and made a very warm-hearted effort to explain what it is, the challenges that we face in the 21st century in the fight against radical extremism.,


MADDEN: And, instead, what you have is the Barack Obama campaign via surrogates like Ed Schultz engage in the politics of personal destruction and insults.


SCHULTZ: I am not a surrogate for Obama. You're a liar.


MADDEN: And that is a very clear contrast.

SCHULTZ: You are not misrepresenting my position.


BROWN: Language...


BROWN: ... we interpret it so differently. OK. We're ending it there.


SCHULTZ: I am not a surrogate for Barack Obama.

BROWN: And on that note, Ed, you're not a surrogate for Barack Obama.

Ed and Kevin, appreciate your time tonight.

I'm not sure we got anywhere with that or even any sense of enlightenment, but thank you for both joining us. Appreciate it.

And even as new fighting goes on in Iraq, both the Republicans and Democrats are trying to score political points in the ad wars. We have got the latest ones on that -- coming up.


BROWN: Even before General David Petraeus says his first words about Iraq on Capitol Hill, the political spinning is already under way.

And joining me to talk war and politics, we have got "TIME" magazine editor at large and senior political analyst Mark Halperin, Republican strategist Bay Buchanan, who was an adviser to Mitt Romney also, and Democratic strategist and CBS News political analyst Joe Trippi, who was a senior adviser to John Edwards.

Welcome to everybody.


BROWN: Let's talk about what we anticipate tomorrow.

And, Mark, I will start with you. You're here in the studio with me. Talk to me about the theater of what we're going to see tomorrow on Capitol Hill of these two presidential -- or three, rather, presidential candidates who are all getting a chance to take their shots at Petraeus and Crocker.

MARK HALPERIN, SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST, "TIME": Well, let's remember they're on Capitol Hill. They're not out on the campaign trail, so they're going to be subordinate in the case of the Democrats. They're junior members of their committee, so they won't be up very soon.

And a lot of the energy, a lot of the confrontation I think will take place before they get their chances. When they get their chance to question the two witnesses, I think it will rev back up. I think they will mostly be playing defense. They will be watching each other. They won't want to make mistakes.

McCain on the other hand I think, a senior member of the committee, can do a lot to drive. And, of course, he will be in agreement with the witnesses. It will be interesting to see if any of the Democrats on the committee try to take him on as a proxy for those other presidential candidates.

BROWN: Who benefits politically from the fact that this is going to dominate the news most likely for the next couple days, Bay?

BAY BUCHANAN, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN CAUSE: I think without question John McCain.

I think what he will do tomorrow is he will try to get Petraeus, the general, and the ambassador to make his case and to basically establish possibly the Democrats' policies are indeed reckless, as he is suggesting, because Petraeus, himself, is the living embodiment of all that's good here in America. And people are very, very much responsive to him and admire him and respect him.

So, you don't want to get on the wrong side. He's got the high road. And McCain will be there with him on that high road trying to make and expose the two as if they are not. And I think Obama really risks a problem here of looking like he is too far on the other side of a great man.

BROWN: Well, let me -- OK, Joe, I want to bring you into this, but let me ask Bay this quickly.


BROWN: Do you think that's the case when only 32 percent of the country, which I think is the latest number, supports the war? You still feel that this is like a big boon for McCain?

BUCHANAN: I do for this reason.

Americans do not support the war. You can have all kinds of debates whether we should be there or not. But they do -- Campbell, they do support us leaving in an honorable way, in a manner in which we can give the Iraqis a real opportunity. They don't want to surrender. They are not ready for a timetable and just some kind of walkout there and be held responsible for the enormous potential bloodbath.

BROWN: Right.

BUCHANAN: So I do believe that you will win from that perspective as leaving correctly.

BROWN: Right. Go ahead.

JOE TRIPPI, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: You know, I think Obama has the most to gain and the most up on the wire tomorrow.

You know, he's the one that the Hillary Clinton campaign has continued to try to raise questions about, is he ready? Does he know his stuff? And so, if he sits there and demonstrates, just asks questions that clearly demonstrate his understanding of the situation on the ground there, what he, you know, ask the tough questions, but do it in a way that shows that he understands what's going on, this helps him. You know, every moment he's on that stage and people watching him and he's standing there with McCain and Hillary Clinton is a plus for him.

On the other hand, if he stumbles at all, it's not the same as McCain having a little bit of a stumble in the hearings, or even Hillary. So, I think he's got a lot more to gain, but also if there's a mistake, he's the one that has the most to lose.

BROWN: Really that much pressure on him?


TRIPPI: I don't think that much pressure. I just think that he gains the most by just sitting there, holding his chair and demonstrating his knowledge.

BROWN: Do you agree with that, Mark?

HALPERIN: I think that's a decent theory. I'm not sure Joe is right. And I'm not sure Bay is right. But I think they both are making plausible arguments.


HALPERIN: I go back to most Americans will not see this live. Most Americans will be doing something else during it. So, it's going to be a lot about the news coverage to the extent it will have an impact on the presidential race, and a lot of that is going to be a little bit of a crapshoot.

When do they talk? Is it before the evening news? Is it before your show? This could be a long hearing. And the question is, do they go for television moments, particularly the Democrats? Do they try to confront Crocker and Petraeus in a way that is confrontational? Joe's right. I think if Obama just shows he knows his stuff, that may be enough. I think Senator Clinton is the one most likely to try to precipitate a conflict.

BROWN: All right.


BROWN: Bay, we will come back to you, I know, after this break.

Stay with us. Mark, Bay and Joe all going to stick around. We have got a lot more to talk about.

But, first, a program note -- this Sunday, Senators Clinton and Obama will be taking part in a 90-minute presidential candidate forum on faith, values, and other current issues. I am going to be one of the moderators for that forum, so please join CNN and me on Sunday, April 13, at 8:00 p.m. Eastern for our exclusive broadcast of the Compassion Forum.

And coming up, a lot of people feel that free trade agreements are causing the U.S. to hemorrhage jobs. Well, a pending trade deal between the United States and Colombia has already meant a demotion for Hillary Clinton's top strategist. We're going to tell you how it went down coming up.


BROWN: Tonight, a high-profile free trade deal with Colombia is shaking up Capitol Hill and the campaign trail. It hits at the heart of the debate over jobs, outsourcing, and trade. The looming showdown between the president and Congress has also meant a big demotion for Hillary Clinton's top strategist.

Free trade is a huge issue in this election, so we want to break it down a bit. We're talking about fast, easy transactions between countries without many tariffs or regulations. All the candidates and the president support the idea of free trade, but critics point to the downsides, American jobs lost to countries making goods with cheap labor.

And at issue right now is the Colombia deal. Today, President Bush pushed Congress to vote on the amendment -- or the agreement, rather.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The need for this agreement is too urgent, the stakes for our national security are too high to allow this year to end without a vote.


BROWN: John McCain agrees with the president. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama oppose the deal, citing Colombia's human rights record with workers. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think the president is absolutely wrong on this.

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have got to have new trade policies before we have new trade deals. And that includes no trade deal with Colombia while violence against trade unionists continue in that country.



CAMPBELL BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: But, get this. At the very same time Hillary Clinton was denouncing the deal, her chief strategist Mark Penn, who is also a top executive at a PR firm, was meeting with Colombian officials to try to push it through. The Colombian government was a client of Penn's firm. Well, this weekend, Penn quit his post on the Clinton campaign.

And we want to bring back our political panel to talk about this. We've got "Time" magazine's Mark Halperin, Republican strategist Bay Buchanan, and Democratic strategist Joe Trippi. And Mark, let me start with you again.

And just -- I want to try to break the story out because it's very inside baseball and I want to try to explain how it's relevant to our viewers. Given that our focus right now is on jobs and the economy, especially with regard to Pennsylvania, why is it such an embarrassment for Senator Clinton?

MARK HALPERIN, SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Advisers to candidates all the time have meetings. They wear multiple hats. They may be full-time at the campaign, not that they do other things. Senator McCain's campaign is simply senior levels, almost all members of lobbyist or consulting firms. What's different about this and why real people should care about it and the Clinton campaign recognizes that, first of all Penn is not just any adviser. He was her top strategist.

Second, this is the hottest issue going right now in the trade field at least, the potential deal with Colombia. And third, he was meeting with the Colombian government, a foreign government, as a paid consultant to say, how can we get this deal through, something his client Hillary Clinton is absolutely against.

So it's at a minimum one of the colossally stupid things anyone has ever done in a modern campaign that I know about. And second, it goes right to the heart of issues. Is Hillary Clinton surrounding herself with people who go behind her back?

BROWN: Right.

HALPERIN: Or does she know about it, and on an issue that relates directly to jobs? BROWN: So Joe, does this ultimately matter to voters, particularly voters in Pennsylvania who are the only voters that matter right now?

JOE TRIPPI, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, I think actually this may matter a lot more than the Petraeus' hearings tomorrow. I mean, this is something right now Democratic voters in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Indiana, the next two or three states, are really, really been hammered by these trade agreements that they feel have cost them lots of jobs. And so for the Clinton campaign, this has come at absolutely the worst time.

I don't think it's going to have -- I mean, the one thing they did is they cut it off really quickly and, you know, and had him step down. The real question is what took them so long? This was just one last in a series of these kind of conflicts that he's had that have cost the campaign, you know, since the beginning. But I do think this one they caught in time. We'll see, but it's got a much bigger chance of impacting the outcome of places like Pennsylvania and North Carolina than what's going to happen on Capitol Hill tomorrow.

BROWN: And he's still working for the campaign. Am I correct? I mean, he didn't get fired.

TRIPPI: Well, it was a really good PR way to handle it, a demotion to a pollster and an adviser not the chief strategist. So it's not clear whether there really is a shift. But I do think that may be enough to stop this before it -- you know, before it causes real damage in Pennsylvania, but we'll see. This could continue to hurt in a state where she sorely needs to hold those voters.

BROWN: Right. And they -- I mean, I guess the other factor here has got to be, is this the message that you want to send to superdelegates right now, that your campaign is in chaos, as having issues like this at all?

BAY BUCHANAN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: It's terrible timing for Hillary. Whether, you know, so many campaigns throw off their top guys at different times in the campaign. And Mark Penn's name is not a nationally known name. Voters aren't going to go yes or no because he's with or against her. But the key is, just as you pointed out, she kind of looks like she's just hanging on out there and all of a sudden there are all kinds of disruption going on, and so she looks less likely to pull out this.

What would be almost an impossible task as it is to win this, it looks like the effort is even more difficult than it was yesterday in essence. She made a mistake. She should have cut him totally loose. Send the message to the voters she's not taking any of this kind of this stuff. That we're not going to have somebody pushing something one way when she has made him millions and millions of dollars, and he's basically deliberately embarrassed her campaign.

I think her mistake was not cutting him totally loose, bringing on a big new name, a new name and say he's now in charge. That would be the national news -- this new face. And it would look like maybe things could be shaken up positively. Right now, it doesn't look good.

BROWN: All right.

HALPERIN: Here's one thing --

BROWN: Quick, quick, quick.

HALPERIN: We don't know if the Obama campaign is going to use this to reach voters. If they do, it's a very potent issue.

BROWN: All right.

BUCHANAN: Exactly.

BROWN: Mark, Bay, Joe, thanks to everybody. Appreciate it.

And Senator Hillary Clinton will be on CNN's "AMERICAN MORNING" tomorrow. So tune in at 6:00 a.m. Eastern time for the "Most News and Politics in the Morning."

And next, protest turned violent. Demonstrators around the world demanding a boycott of the Summer Olympics in China. We'll have details and dramatic videos as the symbolic Olympic flame makes its way to the U.S. Stay tuned.


BROWN: With the Olympic flame coming to America this week, Hillary Clinton is stepping into the dispute over the summer games in Beijing. Today, urging President Bush not to attend the opening ceremonies in August. Clinton is echoing worldwide criticism of China's human rights record and its crackdown in Tibet. And it comes amid two days of violent protests in Paris, London and the U.S. threatening to disrupt the round-the-world tour of the symbolic Olympic torch. Just take a look at these images.

In London yesterday, 37 people were arrested after protestors tried to disrupt the torch relay. Several lunging for the flame. One trying to put it out. Today in Paris, police clashed with protestors, making 18 arrests. Chaos erupted after demonstrators scaled the Eiffel Tower cutting short the flame relay there. And then here at home, protestors hung a "Free Tibet" banner from the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, where the torch is due to arrive this Wednesday.

For more on the protests, we're joined by CNN international anchor Becky Anderson who's in our London bureau. And Becky, it's not new. You know, there have always been concerns and there have been some concerns for some time about human rights abuses by China, but talk us through what sort of triggered what we've seen over the last couple of days.

BECKY ANDERSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Yes, this has hardly been a journey of harmony for the Olympic flame, as it was billed. It's been two European capitals in two days, and there have been two major protests and you've seen the results of those both in London and in Paris.

Now, what protestors are denouncing is the oppression of human rights as you suggested in China and particularly this crackdown on antigovernment protestors last month in Tibet's capital. Dozens, of course, were left dead. Many of those were Buddhist monks.

Now, these scenes were flashed around the world. And what we saw in Tibet's capital last month really prompting what we are seeing now. And what we are seeing now is not just regular activists, famous activists as we've seen in the past, calling for a free Tibet. What we're seeing, Campbell, is regular people getting on trains, for example, from London, having seen the protests at the weekend, getting on trains from London and getting onto the streets of Paris to protest what is going on. Not just in Tibet, of course, but in China and indeed in Darfur.

But as I say, these are regular people protesting what they've seen coming out of Tibet, putting Tibet on center stage. We've seen protests before. It's almost, you know, a part of history, isn't it? But that is what we're seeing now. Tibet is on center stage.

BROWN: Becky, talk to us quickly about how much of a PR nightmare this is going to be for China and for the games in general.

ANDERSON: Yes. OK. It's a big nightmare, isn't it? It's not what they wanted. Certainly in China it's not what they're getting, in fact. The Chinese people are not seeing what we are seeing here. Indeed, what they saw of the weekend was pictures of Big Ben and London Bridge. No pictures flashed up on state TV in China about what was going on, but we are seeing a big nightmare for the organizers. We've seen this before, 1980, 62 countries, of course, boycotting the Moscow Olympics.

We're not going to see a boycott of the games. We may see a boycott of the opening ceremonies, particularly from European leaders. That we are watching out for.

BROWN: All right. Becky Anderson for us tonight from London. Becky, thanks.

And just ahead, the pulse of the people talk radio is ablaze with opinions on the protests over the Olympic Torch Relay and a lot of other things. We'll talk to them when we come back.


BROWN: Welcome back to the ELECTION CENTER. On the radio today, voters are voicing their concerns about the presidential candidates and the election campaign.


THE LIONEL SHOW, AIR AMERICA: There are people who are so connected with Barack Obama and Hillary. That if their candidate doesn't get the nomination, they're going to vote for George Bush. I mean, well the same thing, no pun intended, for John McCain. John McCain is George Bush. That's stupid. They are that crazy.

THE NEAL BOORTZ SHOW, WSB: Let's go ahead and get this out there right now. Once Barack Obama is the Democrat candidate for president, anything I say negative about him will be a racist statement.

MCINTYRE IN THE MORNING, KABC: Would Condoleezza Rice excite you as the running mate for John McCain? And at some level, the answer, I think, for conservatives would be yes, but does that not just hang the Iraq war around John McCain's neck as the single defining issue of his campaign?


BROWN: Up next, Bill and Hillary Clinton's tax returns have got a lot of people fired up. Here what they're saying when we come back in 60 seconds.


BROWN: Around the country, a lot of people have been talking about the release of Hillary and Bill Clinton's tax records and how much money they've made over the past few years. On Friday, the Clintons reported over $109 million in combined income since 2000. It is an eye-popping number for sure, but probably shouldn't have come as such a huge surprise given the amount of publicity the Clintons have received for their multimillion dollar book deals. And that is what inspired the writers at "Saturday Night Live." Check it out.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE, PLAYING HILLARY CLINTON: Once again, through dogged research and tireless investigation, the press has done its job.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE, PLAYING BILL CLINTON: And believe me, we fought them tooth and nail every step of the way.

PLAYING HILLARY CLINTON: That's right. We made it hard for them to find out that we were rich by hiding in our house in Westchester.

PLAYING BILL CLINTON: I'll tell you, when it was announced that I was offered $15 million to write my book, I prayed that no one in the press would read the papers that day. And they didn't.

PLAYING HILLARY CLINTON: As with me, I remember thinking after it was published in every paper, what if the press finds out that I was paid $10 million for my book? Would they be able to equate that $10 million I was paid to me having $10 million? Thankfully, they were not able to make the connection.


BROWN: OK. Let's see what our radio panel has to say about this, and also we'll talk to them about the protests accompanying the Olympic torch run around the Beijing Olympics. Joining me, Joe Madison, who's radio talk show host of WOL in Los Angeles, and he has not endorsed any candidate or contributed to any campaign. Kevin Miller, radio talk show host of KDKA in Pittsburgh. Welcome, guys.


BROWN: OK. So Joe, you're laughing out loud. I mean, what did you make of the "SNL" skit? I mean, was it pretty dead on? Is it any big deal here? Is it all a media creation?

MADISON: I'm a big "SNL" fan, but it was cute. You know who really who made the most money was the publishers. I mean, that's the point. That's why you get that kind of advance.

I don't think this is going to be a big deal. I don't think it's going to hurt the Clintons, at least Hillary Clinton, one way or the other. Obama made a tremendous amount of money, not nearly as much as Bill Clinton did. But maybe if he's elected president, the big contract will come. I think what most people are concerned about are the speeches in countries that we often have strange relationships with -- oil-rich countries.

BROWN: Right.

MADISON: And that type of thing. That's what the other side is probably going to try and make hay over.

BROWN: But Joe, here's the only thing I would question though. If she's out there especially in Pennsylvania sort of selling herself to blue collar workers, as I'm one of you. I understand your problems and your pain way better than Barack Obama does. Isn't that sort of hard to reconcile with having $109 million?

MADISON: No. Blue collar workers are used to union leaders who make a lot of money.

BROWN: Right.

MADISON: They drive big cars, wear fancy suits. I think they aren't envious. They may want to emulate. You know, it's public policy. That's what's important, not really how much money.

You know, most of the senators are millionaires. Most of the senators are millionaires. We really have to look at public policy and substance, not style.

BROWN: Kevin, what are your listeners saying about this?

KEVIN MILLER, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST, KDKA: Well, Campbell, at KDKA, it was -- KDKA radio here in Pittsburgh, it was a topic because Hillary Clinton, if she is going to be effective in Pennsylvania, she's got to win Allegheny County. She's got to appeal to those blue collar voters. She's got to appeal to Calyx (ph).

And I'll tell you, we're burning up the lines on all the shows concerning how can anybody who left the White House made so much money as a senator and all of a sudden can afford to buy into an NFL franchise. People here in Pennsylvania they're hurting.

The number one issue is their pocketbook, paying at the pump, what are they going to do for their kids' education and then you have Hillary Clinton on one hand holding an economic summit in Pittsburgh last week talking about pain, talking about this, and then, Bam! Whammo! Much to the chagrin of her campaign to the rejoice of the Obama campaign, this came out and the Clintons are rich.

MADISON: And, you know what's so funny, Campbell, these are the same people who are probably ditto heads and love rich Rush Limbaugh.

MILLER: No, actually they're not.

MADISON: Oh, come on.

MILLER: They're working class, Joe.

MADISON: Come on.

MILLER: Joe, you and I have been at this before. They're working class people that love Kevin Miller. That's what they say on KDKA radio.


MILLER: And that's what we're hearing in Pennsylvania.

MADISON: Yes. Yes.


MILLER: I don't know, Joe. When's the last time -- Joe, Joe, Joe, Joe -- Joe, I didn't say liberal. When's the last time you were in Pennsylvania?

MADISON: Look, man.


MILLER: Exactly. Exactly. She asked me about Pennsylvania, sir.

MADISON: Look, I'm not going to argue with you. You didn't even give me a chance to answer the question.

MILLER: Oh, -- well, when is the last time you've been in Pennsylvania?



BROWN: But Kevin --

MADISON: Matter of fact -- matter of fact, it was two weeks ago.

MILLER: Right. I'm here every day, sir.

MADISON: All right.

BROWN: OK. Quickly, Kevin, though.

MADISON: OK, gee whiz. Here we go.

BROWN: It really came as such a surprise -- it really came as such a surprise to your listeners? I mean, that's the whole point of the "SNL" skit that everybody knew.


BROWN: I mean, it was a huge deal when they both got these multimillion dollar book deals. It's not like it should come as a shock to people that the Clintons are now rich.

MILLER: Well, yes, it is a shock, Campbell, when you talk about a hundred and some million dollars, and I guess Joe listens to my show because he is going to tell me what my listeners say. I'm telling you what they're saying on KDKA. They were shocked. And the bottom line here is it underrides her credibility with people.

How can you be working class? How can you be one of us when all of a sudden you're in the rich club? It doesn't make sense. It doesn't jibe with the listeners here.

MADISON: Well, maybe you ought to get a larger listening audience.

MILLER: I'll put mine up against yours any day, Joe. Any day.

BROWN: All right. Joe and Kevin, we're going to have to have the Olympic debate another time because we're out of time. But thanks to both of you. Appreciate you being here.

MILLER: Thank you.

BROWN: "LARRY KING LIVE" gets underway at the top of the hour. And Larry, tell us what you're working on for tonight.

LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": We got to switch gears, Campbell. We'll be doing a little idol worship, "American Idol." Simon and Randy and Paula and Ryan, they'll all be here at the top of the hour. They will take you behind the scenes of "Idol Gives Back." Plus, they'll rate the contestants left on the show. That's "LARRY KING LIVE" at the top of the hour, Campbell.

BROWN: All right. Larry, thanks. Appreciate it.

He was bigger than life on screen and off. Charlton Heston's political legacy. We'll have that when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BROWN: His larger than life roles are already part of movie history, but Charlton Heston will also be remembered for his conservative politics. Heston died this weekend at the age of 84. Brooke Anderson reports on Heston's onscreen and offscreen life.



CHARLTON HESTON AS MOSES, "THE TEN COMMANDMENTS": Who shall withstand the power of God?


BROOKE ANDERSON, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: Charlton Heston was known for iconic roles -- Moses in "The Ten Commandments," his Oscar-winning turn as "Ben Hur." But in recent decades, he became almost as well known for his conservative politics, a rarity in Hollywood, a town famous for its liberal bent.

CHARLTON HESTON, ACTOR: I don't mind being disagreed with.

ANDERSON: Heston became a staunch advocate for the right to bear arms and a divisive figure in town. In 1998, he was elected president of the National Rifle Association.

HESTON: The problem with crime is not handguns or assault weapons. The problem is criminals.

ANDERSON: In 2000, the actor turned activist defied then presidential candidate Al Gore's gun control stance by challenging him to pry his weapon away --

HESTON: From my cold, dead hands.

ANDERSON: President Bush awarded Heston the Medal of Freedom, America's highest civilian honor in 2003.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Charlton Heston has left his mark on our country as an artist, as a citizen, and as a patriot.

ANDERSON: Heston's passing leaves a void in Hollywood, both in the movie studios and in the political arena, where the question today is who here will carry the conservative torch?

HESTON: It's been a wonderful run. I'm going to miss you.

ANDERSON: Brooke Anderson, CNN, Hollywood.


BROWN: And we want to ask that question of who may fill his shoes and be Hollywood's next big conservative star. I'm joined right now by "In Touch Weekly" senior editor Tom O'Neil. Hey, Tom.


BROWN: Welcome to you. So who is it? Who could fill his shoes? I mean, there is a dearth of conservatives in Hollywood obviously, but who's out there?

O'NEIL: And that conservative must be a fire brand, must be defiant in the same way that Charlton Heston was. And we have a few of those kind of He-man heroic types. We've got certainly Clint Eastwood. Remember, he was the Republican mayor of Carmel by the Sea just a few years ago?


O'NEIL: But I don't think he is defiant in that he's not going to get up and tell us brazenly what he thinks of his politics. I think the only one who comes close to that is Arnold Schwarzenegger.

BROWN: Who's moderated his politics and policies alike over the last couple of years.

O'NEIL: Well, depends on what side of the fence you are there. If you're an illegal alien in the state of California you may not think so...

BROWN: Right.

O'NEIL: ... because he doesn't want you to have a driver's license.


O'NEIL: If you're guy or lesbian you probably don't think so because the state legislature twice has passed a same-sex marriage act. Twice he has vetoed it. So he has been brazenly, you know, conservative on some issues that aren't too cool in Hollywood.

BROWN: All right. Conservative for Hollywood I guess.

O'NEIL: You're right.

BROWN: Who else is out there?

O'NEIL: Oh, my gosh. We have Chuck Norris.


O'NEIL: But he is not quite in his prime. Kelsey Grammer, Tom Selleck, Fred Thompson, of course, Pat Boone. We don't have that John Wayne, that Charlton Heston like we used to.

BROWN: But is it just that they're -- the voices, the political voices coming out of Hollywood are consistently so liberal and so vocal that they are dominated, that we just don't hear from these other people, that they're less engaged? Are they engaged in other ways? Maybe raising money or whatever? O'NEIL: Right. I think it's actually, and I am a resident of the state of California although I'm half the time in New York, I think it's against the law in California or at least in Hollywood to be liberal. Really the pressure is extraordinary...

BROWN: To be conservative?

O'NEIL: To be liberal in Hollywood and not to be conservative in Hollywood.


O'NEIL: Because, you know, you got to stand up against a city of disenfranchised people. Remember, this is a town where Jewish people, gay people, women came, blacks came to have their voice heard. They went west across America until we ran out of continent, and they created their own media haven to get their voice heard worldwide. And when we have a conservative who stands up to that, it's pretty gutsy.

BROWN: All right. Well, it was good having you here. Tom O'Neil, appreciate it with "In Touch Weekly." Thanks for your time tonight.

Straight ahead, bowling in the ballot box.


BROWN: Pop culture lands on the presidential battlefield right now. First up, Hillary Clinton on today's "Ellen DeGeneres Show" with a chance to back up last week's bowling for ballots challenge to Barack Obama.


SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is one of those stressful situations.


CLINTON: It made you look good.


BROWN: Also, remember "Obama Girl"? Well, a few guys got together on the comic news Web site 23/6, and here's what they came up with.


MUSIC: John McCain is not Obama-sistible. Hillary Clinton is not Obama-sistible. Only Obama is Obama-sistible. He used to look good to me now he's Barack Obama-sistible! He's so fine, he's Barack Obama-sistible.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BROWN: OK. Hats off to the original 1980's hit by Robert Palmer. And that is it for us tonight. "LARRY KING LIVE" right now.