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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Extreme Challenges for Obama; Sarah Palin Fires Back; The Fight for Same-Sex Marriage

Aired November 7, 2008 - 23:00   ET

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


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, President-elect Obama facing the media and new economic numbers, job losses, unemployment, car sales all getting worse, much worse.
In his first news conference, the president-elect vowed to meet the economic crisis head-on. He took questions, he made some jokes but critics also say he might have made some missteps including a reference to Nancy Reagan that later required an apology. We have details ahead.

Also, Governor Sarah Palin speaking out to us about those nasty allegations that she's a diva and geographically-challenged; tonight she tells her side of the story.

And anger intensifying over California's ban on gay marriage. More protests tonight; this one is live in Long Beach, California as the backlash against Prop 8 gets bigger.

Let's start with Barack Obama's challenge; running the country and facing an economic mess. Take a look at these numbers - 1.2 million jobs lost this year. The Labor Department reporting today almost a quarter million jobs were cut in October, more than expected while unemployment surged to a 14-year-high.

Also, GM, General Motors reporting a huge quarterly loss; more than $4 billion. The company said it could be broke in a matter of months. And on Wall Street, the Dow rose almost 250 points after two days of big losses but all three major indices fell for the week. The Dow, the Nasdaq both lost more than four percent. The S&P fell nearly that much as well.

Numbers like these no longer ammunition for Obama the candidate; they are now his problems to solve.

Here's CNN's Candy Crowley.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Reinforced by a bevy of advisors, the President-elect made clear his priority in pictures and words.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: Immediately after I become president, I'm going to confront this economic crisis head on by taking all necessary steps to ease the credit crisis, help hard working families and restore growth and prosperity. CROWLEY: He calls it the greatest economic challenge of our lifetime, and he wants what he campaigned on; a new stimulus package, an extension of unemployment benefits, tax breaks for most workers and help for the auto agency. Still immediately is 74 days away. Barack Obama is in no position to act; a point he was quick to make.

OBAMA: We're going to have to act quickly to resolve it. Now the United States has only one government and one president at a time. And until January 20th of next year, that government is the current administration.

CROWLEY: The future president, who spent two years bashing President Bush, meets with him Monday at the White House for what Obama expects to be tension-free talks.

OBAMA: I am not going to anticipate problems. I'm going to go in there with a spirit of bipartisanship and a sense that both the president and various leaders in Congress all recognize the severity of the situation right now and want to get stuff done.

CROWLEY: Still, it is the current president who calls the shots. In this period of limbo as Americans watch an economy continue to fail, the president-in-waiting is intent on projecting confidence, the show of brainpower, old hands from the Clinton era, elected officials and industry hot shots behind him and a quick selection of a Treasury Secretary and other top stewards of economic policy.

OBAMA: I want to move with all deliberate haste, but I want to emphasize deliberate as well as haste.

CROWLEY: As a commander-in-chief in waiting, Obama has been fielding phone calls from world leaders but said he is still thinking how to respond to a congratulatory letter from Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. It was an all business and cautious post-election debut with a few light moments sprinkled in.

About that puppy he promised his daughters if he won; there are issues to be reconciled.

OBAMA: Malia is allergic so it has to be hypoallergenic. There are a number of breeds that are hypoallergenic. On the other hand, our preference is to get a shelter dog but, obviously, a lot of shelter dogs are mutts like me.

CROWLEY: The country is getting a new president and a family is moving, at so many levels, so many decisions.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Now Candy, Obama and President Bush, they're going to meet Monday. Do we know what we will see of the meeting and what they're going to talk about, how it's going to go?

CROWLEY: I'm sure you will definitely have pictures; you may have the greeting on the White House steps. We certainly have seen that in past transitions. You may see them sit down together, sort of a brief -- what we call a spray, you go in and just take a quick picture and get out.

The point here is as symbolic as it is sensitive, that is to show that peaceful transfer of power. They have lots of things they can talk about, certainly there are just how the White House works, here's the elevator, don't ever take this one, it never works, whatever those little things are.

Remember, Mrs. Obama will be there as well with Laura Bush. Also, Obama said that he expected to have substantive talks with the president. And I'm sure that will be, A, about the economy. President Bush has said that he also wanted to talk about the transition of homeland security, about the war in Iraq; those sorts of things.

So there are both substantive things that they can talk about and then just those day-to-day life in the White House that you can't have any idea about when you just walk in.

COOPER: It's going to be fascinating. Candy Crowley, thanks so much.

Throughout this hour, we're going to be playing as much as possible from Obama's press conference, if you missed it, which we assume a lot of people did, because it happened in the middle of the day. You'll be able to watch it all throughout this hour, as much as big chunks from the press conference.

Obama at the conference talked about his priorities for dealing with the economic crisis. He mentioned some specifics like extending unemployment benefits. He was also asked about taxes.

But did his words today match up with his promises on the campaign trail? After all our job every night in this program is to hold those in power accountable for their words and their deeds and their promises.

CNN's Tom Foreman is "Keeping Them Honest" for us -- Tom.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Mr. Obama, Anderson, presented many issues as critically urgent during his campaign. But the calendar used by the candidate might be different from the one used by the president-elect. There were subtle shifts today.

Look at tax reform. Time and again, out on the trail, he said, we need tax reform right now.

OBAMA: You need a break and that's what I'm going to provide when I'm president of the United States of America.

In fact, I offer three times the relief for middle class families.

FOREMAN: And he said again today, early in his press conference tax relief cannot wait. But when asked later on in that press conference, does that mean he will pursue tax reforms in 2009, he dodged the direct question, and repeated again that he still wants to help the middle class.

OBAMA: Obviously over the next several weeks and months, we're going to be continuing to take a look at the data and see what's taking place in the economy as a whole.

FOREMAN: During the campaign, he strongly called for talks with Iran. His Website, which is still up, by the way, says Obama supports tough direct presidential diplomacy with Iran without preconditions. Now is the time to pressure Iran directly to change their troubling behavior.

Asked today, however, if he will launch those talks as soon as he takes office, he said this.

OBAMA: Obviously, how we approach and deal with a country like Iran is not something we should, you know, simply do in a knee-jerk fashion.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FOREMAN: No one should expect him to deliver on his pledges until he takes the oath, that would be completely unfair and maybe these slight changes reflect a deeper understanding of the issues from his briefings. Maybe the situations will really change by the time he takes the oath.

But keeping him honest, we'll keep watching to let you know if the promises he ran on survived intact until Inauguration Day -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right. Tom thanks very much. Tom Foreman.

Join the live chat that is happening now on ac360.com. And check out also Erica Hill's live Webcast during the break. Let us know what you think about Obama's conference.

Just ahead on our program, why Obama called Nancy Reagan today and apologized to her for something he said at the press conference. We'll show you what he said.

And we've just heard about some of the extreme challenges President- elect Barack Obama is facing as he prepares for the Office. All of them complicated by the economic reality; so which is most likely to be compromised? Our panel digs deeper.

Plus this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Regarding these allegations which I don't think my colleagues didn't make it up. I heard it from people who said you can't use our name regarding geography things about Africa and NAFTA, are they not true?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Some nasty allegations that followed Sarah Palin back home to Alaska. Tonight, she tries to shoot them down, talking with our own Gary Tuchman.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Tens of millions of families are struggling to figure out how to pay the bills and stay in their homes. Their stories are an urgent reminder that we're facing the greatest economic challenge of our lifetime. And we're going to have to act swiftly to resolve it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: President-elect Obama at the news conference today. The greatest economic challenge of our lifetime, that's what he called it. The economic meltdown that's causing so many Americans so much pain helped Obama get elected, no doubt about that. But now he has got to figure out how to fix it and what to do about it.

Let's dig deeper with our panel: CNN's senior political analyst and former presidential advisor, David Gergen; CNN's Christine Romans; and Marcus Mabry, international business editor for the "New York Times."

David, before we get in some specifics, how do you think he did with his first press conference?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Overall, I thought he did well. He stumbled once on the Nancy Reagan issue. You're going to talk more about that. But overall, I thought he was presidential, he was somber. Just as Candy Crowley had been talking about the night he won the election, how he had taken the weight of the world onto his shoulders.

COOPER: It was definitely that Obama at the press conference, not the sort of lighter, more avuncular.

GERGEN: Yes, that's right. And I think the very fact that he moved so quickly was also helpful. It's worth remembering that Bill Clinton who also won on the economy held his economic summit, if you would, in December. Obama has his three days after George W. Bush, I think in January.

So he moved quickly and I thought that was important. I thought he sent some very important signals in the press conference.

COOPER: Christine, 240,000 jobs lost last month alone, the highest unemployment rate in some 14 years. How big of a mess, economically, is Obama stepping into?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's a big mess, Anderson, and it's getting worse; in fact, the economy and the job situation deteriorating. Half of the jobs lost this year just happened in the last three months; some 600,000 jobs in the last three months, pretty much across the board.

This week you had the stock market, for example, losing half a trillion dollars in value. You have the auto industry really in distress here, in utter crisis. So the president-elect is stepping into a situation that is getting worse, literally, by the day.

COOPER: And Marcus, despite all this, he's pushing for a new stimulus on top of the one that's already been approved. He wants to move forward before the inauguration. Can he actually get things done before he takes office?

MARCUS MABRY, BUSINESS EDITOR, "NEW YORK TIMES": It's going to be interesting because he kept saying today over and over again, he said, felt like he was speaking for all the American people, when he said we lived through the longest campaign in recorded history. It's time to put partisanship aside and really concentrate on how to help the American people and he kept emphasizing the middle class, helping the middle class.

He's trying to corner the Republicans to make it so that if they oppose the things that he and the Congressional leadership amongst Democrats are proposing, like for instance, a $60 billion to $100 billion in stimulus before he's even inaugurated, then they'll look partisan or petty somehow.

But I think that's going to be a trick for them to get out of that box he's trying to put them in. Lots of Republicans would also be on the side of some stimulus after the kind of drubbing they just had at the polls. I think he may find them more amenable, even than President Bush might be.

COOPER: David, during the campaign, he talked a lot about planned tax cuts. When he was asked about it today about whether higher taxes should be anticipated for some, this is what he said. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: My tax plan represented a net tax cut. It provided for substantial middle class tax cuts, 95 percent of working Americans would receive them. It also provided for cuts in capital gains for small businesses, additional tax credits, all of it is designed for job growth.

My priority is going to be, how do we grow the economy, how do we create more jobs? I think that the plan that we put forward is the right one. But obviously, over the next several weeks and months, we're going to be continuing to take a look at the data and see what's taking place in the economy as a whole.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: He was asked about higher taxes. He didn't really answer the question. Was he just trying to get wiggle room here?

GERGEN: I think he was trying to get wiggle room on higher taxes. I take you back to Marcus's points. One clear purpose of this press conference today was to signal an urgency on moving forward with most of his plan. What they're talking about with the House Democrats and Senate Democrats is to come back in this rump session in the next few weeks and get a part of the stimulus package, maybe $60 billion to $100 billion but to do a big part after he gets inaugurated. And in that second part, he would put his tax cuts for the lower and middle class groups. He left wiggle room about whether he would also raise taxes on people above 250. I think that's it.

I think he signaled three things today, he signaled urgency, which was really important. He signaled change, he signaled, "I'm going to depart from the Bush plan." The stimulus package that he's pushing, the Bush White House is resisting that. Big, big package for automobile industry just emerging, we're just starting to learn the details. It sounds like another $50 billion in bailout money for the automobile industry. That's new. The White House is resisting that.

He also signaled, "Don't push me too fast. I'm not going to move as fast as you think I'm going to move on appointments." We've all been speculating about appointments. I think it's complicated for him and I think he wants to slow the process down.

COOPER: Christine, why is assisting the automotive industry, as he said, so important? I mean, obviously, it's the backbone of the U.S. economy but how is he going to pay for it?

ROMANS: Well, why is it important? Depending on who you talk to, either two million to 3.5 million people rely on the auto industry for jobs or for their retirement income or somehow related to it in terms of the business that they do. It's really important in some of these states.

It is a chief employer and so some of these state governors have just really been pushing for something to be done. How do we pay for it? How much is it going to cost? It will cost a lot of money. How do we pay for anything that we do? We put it on our bill. We borrow money for it.

We're looking at a deficit next year and it's going to be big. But even the people who are really worried about $1 trillion budget deficit, even the real budget hawks say you have to spend a lot of money in the near term just to get this economy on the rails and that's just a bitter pill they're going to have to swallow.

COOPER: You know, Marcus, no one would say this during the election of McCain or Obama. Can Obama now pay for all these promises? Can he deliver on the promises and proposals that he has talked about for the last two years on the campaign trail?

MABRY: Well, you know, in some way, Anderson, this horrible economy, and it's true, this is the worst economy any of us have faced in our lifetime -- is in some ways a fig leaf for president-elect and soon to be president Obama because as Christine said, everyone agrees right now that you have to spend money to get out of the horrible mess we're in.

That is going to be some solace for him, it's going to give him some leeway, some wiggle room. So he may or may not fulfill some of those promises but few people are going to hold him responsible, I think because we're going to see millions of Americans losing their jobs next year. It's going to be a really, really horrible situation and I think that's going to give him some goodwill and people are going to come looking for any aid, any assistance, any assurance to have it all.

COOPER: Do you agree with that, David?

GERGEN: Yes, I do. Absolutely.

COOPER: All right. David Gergen thanks very much. Marcus Mabry as well and Christine Romans thanks.

Barack Obama also has global issues on his mind. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Iran's development of a nuclear weapon, I believe, is unacceptable. And we have to mount an international effort to prevent that from happening.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPR: What are the international hot spots that are on Obama's radar? Our panel weighs in on that.

And minutes ago, these protests continue in the firestorm in California following voters' rejection of Proposition 8 which revoked the right of gays to marry. We'll have the latest.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: It's only been three days since the election. Obviously, how we approach and deal with a country like Iran is not something that we should simply do in a knee-jerk fashion. And I think that we've got to think it through.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Iran is just one international hot spot President-elect Obama is facing, there's Iraq, Afghanistan and Israel and ominous-sounding Russia, just to name a few.

Let's "Dig Deeper." Chief international correspondent, Christiane Amanpour joins us from New York; CNN's Jill Dougherty is here in Washington along with CNN national security analyst Peter Bergen.

Christiane, at the same time that Obama gets his letter from Ahmadinejad, Israel is warning that any U.S.-Iranian dialogue is, in their words, liable to broadcast weakness. Are the Israelis skeptical of Obama?

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, look I think they're skeptical. On the other hand, you heard a lot of support in Israel for Obama. And remember, the majority of American- Jewish voters voted for him and not for McCain. But clearly, this is an issue of great contention. That Iran has always been an issue of how is the president going to deal with it. I think Obama, it was so interesting, that that was the one and only foreign policy question he got and that he addressed and it's certainly going to be the front and center of the agenda going forward.

As many U.S. former Secretaries of State have suggested that the next president, in this case, Barack Obama should engage Iran and start negotiations on a certain level without preconditions, to address both countries' mutual interest.

COOPER: But -- I mean, he gets this letter from Ahmadinejad. Ahmadinejad is not even the most powerful guy in Iran.

AMANPOUR: Well, that's true of course. The actual power center is with the supreme leader, the Ayatollah Khamenei. But Ahmadinejad is the spokesperson; he's the visible face of Iranian politics. And the fact that he sent that letter -- I mean you know some would consider it maybe the kiss of something other than what he wanted.

But on the hand, it is unprecedented and to be serious, for the last 13 years or so years, I've interviewed every Iranian president several times and there's been a growing sentiment from them that they're ready to do business with the United States, to restore relations and of course, based on mutual interest and mutual respect and not if it is dictated to them.

COOPER: Just hours -- Jill, just hours after Obama is elected, comes from the Russian President this word that if the U.S. moves forward on missile defense, they're going to put missiles along it's border; is this the first test for Obama from Russia? Are they testing him?

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Oh, I think definitely, there's no question. I mean the timing was incredible and in fact the President put-off his speech. And then right after Obama is elected the day after here comes this threat, which is putting missiles right on the border with Europe.

So there's no question, it's a challenge. And there could be others. You look at Georgia, what happened this summer. There are other potential hot points, flash points. You'd have to say Ukraine would be another, and then just to tick-off two more, energy, using energy as a political tool.

And don't forget what the President of Russia and actually, the Prime Minister Putin, who is, of course, still running things; they're looking into the western hemisphere right here, friendship with Venezuela for instance.

COOPER: And Peter, in terms of Afghanistan, how bad has the situation gotten there and really, what option does Obama have?

PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I think his options are pretty limited. Obviously the situation has gotten much worse, as you know Anderson. But even if President Obama on January 20th, 2009 suddenly decided to take a lot of brigades out of Iraq, that would obviously, will have some problems in Iraq itself, but they couldn't immediately transferred to Afghanistan. And redeploying these troops would take several months and also the U.S. military simply doesn't have brigades to send anywhere right now.

In the present circumstance, they might be able to send troop brigades, 7,000 or so men, soldiers in the spring of 2009. But that's not going to be a game changer in Afghanistan at all.

COOPER: Christiane, it was interesting, I think an article in "The Times" today, basically saying that already there has been some shifting in the Iraqi's position which sort of in anticipation of Obama's coming to power.

AMANPOUR: Yes. Well, they've been talking about the status of forces agreement and they're basically saying that unless an agreement is concluded within the next month it won't be concluded and this is a real problem. And they're talking about a timetable for withdrawing U.S. troops in the region at the end of 2011.

But interestingly, I also spoke to President Hamid Karzai today and the spokesman of President Putin. Karzai says that they welcome more U.S. troops but they want them around the borders and not in urban areas. As for President Putin's spokesman, he admitted that that was pretty bad timing, the speech of Medvedev, right after the election of Obama and said that they welcome actually a new era of constructive engagement.

COOPER: Very quickly, Jill, I'm going to ask this to each of you and what do you think is the most pressing international issue for Barack Obama when he takes Office?

DOUGHERTY: International?

COOPER: Yes.

DOUGHERTY: I still think that Russia is going to create continuing challenges all the time. It may not be a big thing, it's not nuclear war but everyday there's going to be some type of challenge.

COPER: Peter what do you think?

BEGEN: Well, Pakistan is going to be problematic, because that affects Afghanistan. It has nuclear weapons, Al Qaeda are still based there and we still don't have a very good policy with Pakistan.

COOPER: Christiane?

AMANPOUR: In addition to what they've side, Iran, obviously Iraq, climate change. And again though, I think that President Obama, President-elect Obama will benefit from a decrease in the anti- Americanism which has really been one of the main enemies of America. So I think that will be very important and constructive.

COOPER: Christiane Amanpour, Peter Bergen and Jill Dougherty, thanks a lot. I appreciate it. Still ahead, this evening, Sarah Palin, once hidden from reporters, now she's back home and talking to us. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TUCHMAN: Are you sad?

PALIN: Not sad at all. In fact, energized, I think certainly feeling like it's a little bit of a different level because of the perspective now that I have about what national politics are all about. Not, not sad.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: CNN's Dana Bash had the first interview with her post- election and now Gary Tuchman has another one. After a series of anonymous swipes by McCain staffers, she is swiping back. Hear what she has to say now.

And hurricane season not done yet; a dangerous Cat 3 storm roaring through the Caribbean. We'll try to figure out where it is going. Hurricane Paloma, will it hit the U.S.? The answer when "360" continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: New developments tonight in the blame game that is raging within the Republican Party; some of the nastiest smears had been aimed at Governor Sarah Palin. But tonight, she is firing back in her second interview with CNN this week.

"Up Close," here's CNN's Gary Tuchman.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Sarah Palin was greeted by reporters when she entered her Governor's Office, and then her staff as she came back for the first time since the end of the presidential campaign. She is now back to the routine that was totally disrupted when John McCain picked her as his vice-presidential nominee.

PALIN: I tell you, this is best job in the world, as being the Governor.

TUCHMAN: When she arrived back in Alaska Wednesday night, Sarah Palin had started hearing about charges from unnamed McCain staffers that she didn't know what countries were part of NAFTA, that she didn't know Africa was a continent.

Governor, there's questions that they did not put their names forward and most, I think a lot of Americans consider that cowardly, there's no question about it.

PALIN: Yes, I do, I consider it cowardly.

TUCHMAN: So regarding these allegations, which I don't think -- my colleagues didn't make it up, they heard it from people who said you can't use our name regarding this geography things about Africa and about NAFTA, are they not true? Are they misinterpreted?

PALIN: Yes, no, it's not true and I do remember having a discussion about NAFTA as we talked about Alaska's relationship with Canada and how we, heaven forbid, go in and just unilaterally think that we're going to renegotiate NAFTA as it had appeared that Barack Obama, his position was, yes, he wanted to go renegotiate.

I remember having a discussion with a couple debate preppers. So if it came from one of those debate preppers, that's curious but having a discussion about NAFTA, and not oh my goodness, I don't know who's a part of NAFTA.

So no, I think that if there are allegations based on the questions or comments that I've made in the debate prep about NAFTA or about the continent versus the country, when we talk about Africa there, then those were taken out of context.

And that's cruel, it's mean-spirited, it's immature, it's unprofessional. And those guys are jerks if they came away with taking things out of context and then tried to spread something on national news. It's not fair and not right.

TUCHMAN: The Governor also addressed the controversy over the purchase of $150,000 worth of clothes.

PALIN: The RNC purchased clothes, those are the RNC's clothes, they are not my clothes. I never forced anybody to buy the -- I never asked for anything more than maybe a diet Dr. Pepper once in a while.

TUCHMAN: Palin says she experienced the type of sexism on the campaign trail she hadn't felt before.

PALIN: You see equality in Alaska. And so that's a good question. Because I think that was a bit of a surprise on a national level. As what you mean the other 49 states aren't quite there like Alaskans are? Well, come on, follow Alaska's lead and start allowing the equal opportunities and the equal treatment.

TUCHMAN: We also talked with the Governor about media coverage of the campaign, and she once again criticized the news media.

But I pointed out to what seems to unfair criticism, sure there are some mistakes made. But I said, overall, don't you think the coverage was good and fair and she did acknowledge that the coverage was fair. But she did say to me quote, "One bad apple spoils the whole bunch."

Anderson, back to you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Gary thanks.

Up next, clashes in the streets. Live pictures from Long Beach, California, a confrontation between those for and against the gay marriage-ban vote in California, we have more ahead in our "Uncovering America" segment.

Also tonight, Barack Obama calling up Nancy Reagan to apologize, we'll tell you why.

And the President-elect speaks out on a domestic issue close to home. What kind of dog will he get for his daughters? Some hints today in his first news conference and some suggestions.

You're watching "360."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: More protests in California tonight -- that, the scene in Long Beach, California, people are voicing their outrage against Proposition 8, the amendment reversing a California Court's ruling permitting same-sex marriages.

Joining us for our "Uncovering America" segment: Lisa Bloom, anchor of "In Session" and Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council. And Lisa's mother we should point out, Gloria Allred was one of the lead attorneys in the California Supreme Court case legalizing same-sex marriages last May.

So Tony, there used to be laws banning blacks from marrying whites in America and people said it will destroy marriage if blacks and whites marriage? What's the difference with gay marriage? Isn't the same argument being used today to oppose it?

TONY PERKINS, FAMILY RESEARCH COUNCIL PRESIDENT: Well, I think that was the argument that was used in the courts. But if you look at what's happening across the nation, not a single state, not Pennsylvania, not Ohio, not Michigan and not California has voted to approve same-sex marriage but yet these states voted overwhelmingly for an African-American president.

And to say that somehow people who support traditional marriage are racists or somehow this is equated to the same issue is simply false, it's not, it's a different issue. We're talking about what's best for children, an environment with a mom and dad; the historic definition of marriage.

And the citizens of California twice now, first time in 2000, by 61 percent, 4.4 million voters said marriage should be between a man and woman. Four judges overturned it. People went back to the people of the state and almost 5.5 million people this time on Tuesday said marriage should be between a man and a woman.

COOPER: Lisa, do you see this as a civil rights issue?

LISA BLOOM, ANCHOR, IN SESSION: Anderson, every minority group in this country has gained their rights via the courts. It happened with African-Americans and it's happening now with gay rights although fitfully.

I think that Prop 8 is going to be overturned by the courts and I'll tell you why. Prop 8 attempts to amend the California Constitution. That can't be done by a simple majority vote that has to be done by two-thirds of the legislature; and Mr. Perkins and the proponents of Prop 8 know that.

So I predict that it's going to be overturned. And look, I'm a single mother of two children, they turned out just fine. With all due respect to Mr. Perkins, not every child grows up in a home with a mother and father.

PERKINS: You're absolutely right, you're absolutely right.

BLOOM: There are millions of children in this country being raised by single parents, by gay parents. And if they're being raised by gay parents, they deserve to have a home that's treated equally even without a mother and father.

PERKINS: You're absolutely right.

COOPER: Tony, isn't the fact that there are children being raised by gay parents and then doesn't it actually help them if those parents are married?

PERKINS: You don't change public policy to accommodate a few. You shape public policy to what is beneficial to society as a whole. And look, the people of California have played by the rules.

They have now twice gone to the ballot and they have put this issue on, just like everybody else does. I mean, there's rules in a democracy, there's rules; we're governed by a constitution and there are ways to change a constitution.

The people have played by the rules. I mean, why will not the homosexual activists quit rioting and quit attacking Mormons and using religious bigotry. And if they want to change --

BLOOM: That doesn't look like a riot to me.

PERKINS: If they want to change the laws, get the consent of the people. It's that simple.

COOPER: Tony, where have the riots been, Tony where has the riots has been?

PERKINS: Well, I mean they've spray painted churches in California; they've been jumping on police cars.

BLOOM: Anderson, we're looking at a protest of peaceful people just like it was done in the '50s and '60s for African-Americans.

PERKINS: Well, there were arrests the other night.

BLOOM: There's always a couple of lunatics on every side of the debate. And by the way, those of us who favor gay rights don't all fall into that category.

PERKINS: No, you don't. I didn't say you did. BLOOM: You don't have to be a gay to be in favor of gay rigs, you just want to have equality. If gay people aren't going to have equal rates, why should they pay full taxes? Why don't we give them a discount on their taxes?

COOPER: What about the argument that this is something that the people through the electoral process have spoken on and that it shouldn't be adjudicated in courts?

BLOOM: What's the beautiful thing about our Federal Constitution and the State Constitution like California's is to protect the rights of minorities. The constitutional framers understood that the majority occasionally is going to want to oppress minorities in this country.

That's why we have Constitutional Rights like the equal protection clause --

PERKINS: There is no --

BLOOM: The equal protection clause in the 14th amendment and in the California Constitution. And it is the job of the courts to protect minorities. That's the Common Law 101.

PERKINS: There is no oppression here. There's an attempt to redefine a 5,000-year-old institution called marriage and the people of California have twice now gone to the polls and defended it. I mean, what keeps this democracy working is the law; it's the rule of law and the rules.

BLOOM: Yes, and the rule of law says to amend the constitution, it takes a two-thirds vote of a legislator and then a constitution -- you haven't followed the rules at all.

COOPER: We've got to move along. But I just want to get each of you your final thought but Tony, you don't -- Tony, you don't feel this is oppression on any level or you don't feel there's any discrimination against gays and lesbians?

PERKINS: No. Look, they have the civil union's scheme out there, which provides the same benefits, there's no oppression, they're not losing any benefits, they get the same benefits.

BLOOM: Civil union isn't the same as marriage. Why don't we let heterosexuals have civil unions and gay people can't married if they're exactly the same.

COOPER: Lisa, let him finish his thought, I'll let you finish yours.

PERKINS: No one is saying they can't have their relationships. They can't have their legal arrangements. What's being said, is they can't redefine marriage for the rest of America and for the rest of the citizens of California and the people of California has said that.

COOPER: Lisa, final thought, why is marriage so important? Why is it more than just a civil union? BLOOM: Because it's about basic decency and respect and people who have had those rights now in California for the last five months feel so affronted that they are being taken away, in the midst of all the inclusion this week, gay people were excluded. I think that's sad. I think it's going to change over time. If you don't believe in gay marriage, don't have one but don't keep other people out of the process.

PERKINS: Don't redefine it for everybody else.

BLOOM: It will be redefined many times.

COOPER: We're going to leave it there, Tony Perkins and Lisa bloom. Appreciate your thoughts thank you.

Still to come tonight, Barack Obama's I'm sorry and why he called up former First Lady, Nancy Reagan, today to apologize to her.

Plus this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Our preference would be to get a shelter dog. But obviously, a lot of shelter dogs are mutts like me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: A lighter moment from today's news conference. The dog debate deepens. We've got the buzz on the next White House pooch.

Plus our "Shot" of the day, snapshots from Obama's historic night, a behind the scenes look. We got these for the first time today, how the First Family or soon to be First Family reacted when they heard the news. Stay tuned.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Well, President-elect Barack Obama called it a major issue today at his news conference, and indeed the First Dog or puppy that's been proposed or promised to daughters Sasha and Malia, is a huge deal no doubt for them. It was one of several light-hearted moments for the President-elect during his first news conference today. And here's the President-to-be in his own words.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: What happened to your arm?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I cracked my shoulder running to your speech on election night.

OBAMA: Oh, no. I think that was the only major incident during the entire Grant Park celebration.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you for asking. Here's my question. I'm wondering what you're doing to get ready? Have you spoke to any living ex-Presidents, what books you might be reading? Everyone wants to know what kind of dog are you going to buy for your girls? Have you decided on a private or public school for your daughters?

OBAMA: Well, let me list those off.

In terms of speaking to former presidents, I've spoken to all of them that are living, obviously, President Clinton. I didn't want to get into a Nancy Reagan thing about, you know, doing any seances. I have reread some of Lincoln's writings who's always an extraordinary inspiration.

And by the way, President Carter, President Bush Senior as well as the current President have all been very gracious and offered to provide any help that they can in this transition process.

With respect to the dog, this is a major issue. I think it's generated more interest on our Website than just about anything. We have two criteria that have to be reconciled. One is that Malia is allergic, so it has to be hypoallergenic. There are a number of breeds that are hypoallergenic, on the other hand, our preference would be to get a shelter dog, but obviously, a lot of shelter dogs are mutts like me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: So the First Dog issue is generating huge interest. We brought two special guests and to talk about it from New York, Jake and from Washington, Nola, along with their owners, Erica Hill and Tom Foreman. So Tom, yes.

ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, I'd just like to interject quickly, I'd really preferred to be called Jake's mom. I don't believe you can own them.

COOPER: Ok, all right, so you're the mother of Jake. So Tom and Nola, hypoallergenic dogs; what kind of dogs are hypoallergenic?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They are such as hypoallergenic dogs. They're dogs that basically have less dander coming off their fur.

COOPER: Nola, my sense is has a lot of dander.

FOREMAN: She got a lot of dander, because she got what's called a double coat here, big heavy things.

COOPER: She's got a quite a shedding though.

FOREMAN: Lots of shedding. But if you get like a poodle, there are certain terriers in this way. And the Xoloitzcuintle --

COOPER: The what?

FOREMAN: That's a poodle. COOPER: That cannot be the White House dog.

FOREMAN: No, that's not. This here we go a Mexican hairless, but there's very little dander, there's your a hypoallergenic dog.

HILL: No dander there; nothing to worry about. Well, I'm with Tom. That was my big issue. The other thing for me is, I was very happy to hear President-elect Obama say that they did hope to get the dog from the shelter.

But here is the thing. You can have a dog that's not necessarily hypoallergenic, as Tom mentioned but it's good for people with allergies and who is also a rescued dog. Doesn't have to be from the shelter; pretty much any breed you want has a rescue group Google it. Go to pet finder, Jake is a rescued dog and of course he's a mutt like his mother.

But, Jake sit. But for example, Tom mentioned terrier, the soft coated wheaten terrier, very good for people with allergies. A ton of rescue groups I found online today. So the bottom line is, Obama family, since we're sure you're watching "360" tonight.

Get a Jake and get a Nola. You can find one that will work for both Malia and your needs to save a dog.

COOPER: Great, you're like Cesar Milan, Erica, with Jake.

HILL: You know the funniest thing is, my husband is totally is watching this right now and is going like, this dog isn't trained.

I mean Jake is trained to sit and he can do paw and others. High five, Jake. High five. All right.

COOPER: Wow.

HILL: Now we have to give him a treat. And that's pretty much the extent of it. But as long as you all think he's well behaved, we're happy.

COOPER: High five. I'm very impressed with it.

FOREMAN: I didn't know there were going to be tricks involved.

HILL: But Nola has tons of tricks, I'm told.

FOREMAN: Nola has tons of tricks but, you know, she's having her quiet time.

COOPER: She's doing some quiet time. All right. Tom and Nola, thank you very much; and Jake and Erica, as well.

Moments ago you heard a remark Obama made, referencing Nancy Reagan and seances. Later today, President-elect Obama called Nancy Reagan, apologized to her for what he described as a careless and off-hand remark he made during the news conference. The two went on, according to his spokeswoman, to have a very warm conversation. We've seen a lot of images from election night, but tonight we're going to show you behind-the-scenes photos of Obama and his wife and kids, how they saw the night unfold. Results coming in a fascinating, intimate look of the new First Family.

Also, buried in the rubble; A school collapses. The death count is climbing. Desperate rescues efforts underway. We'll have the latest.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Still to come, today's "Shot." We take you behind the scenes tonight on election night to see how the Obama family, including little Sasha and Malia, watched the election results and how they reacted when they knew they were headed to the White House.

But first, Erica Hill joins us with the "360 Bulletin" -- Erica.

HILL: Anderson, Brian Nichols is guilty of murder and other charges in the shooting rampage and escape from an Atlanta courthouse three years ago. A judge and three others died that day. Nichols confessed to the killings but said he was mentally ill at the time. Jurors, however, rejected the defense, and they will now decide if Nichols deserves the death penalty.

Hurricane Paloma has strengthened to a Category 3 storm with winds near 115 miles per hour as it lashes the Cayman Islands. The storm's next stop is Cuba. It is then expected to turn north into the Atlantic Ocean, away from the U.S. mainland.

Near Port-au-Prince, Haiti, a school has collapsed, killing at least 50 people. All through the night, rescue workers and volunteers plan to search for students and teachers who are buried in the rubble, hoping to find survivors. And many of them are digging with their own hands, because they just don't have the necessary equipment.

And winter arrived a little early in the Dakotas. A blizzard has hit the region -- look at that -- dumping up to three feet of snow. November, what are we, the 7th? Wow.

COOPER: Just amazing.

Up next, snapshots for the history books, a glimpse of what it was like behind the scenes with the Obamas on election night. Our "Shot."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: All right, time for our "Beat 360" winners, Erica. It's our daily challenge to viewers to come up with a caption better than the one we can think of based on a picture that we put on our blog.

So the picture: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi a few weeks before the election with Congressman Rahm Emanuel, who was just named Barack Obama's White House chief of staff.

Our staff winner tonight, Cate: "Mmmm... Power... it's intoxicating, isn't it?" HILL: This photo is honestly fantastic.

COOPER: Our viewer winner is Brian from Bakersfield, California: "Do you like my new perfume? It's my new creation, Complete Power."

HILL: Wah-ha-ha.

COOPER: Brian, your "Beat 360" T-shirt is on the way.

You can check out all the entries at AC360.com and play along on Monday there, as well.

All right. Tonight's "Shot," Erica, wonder what it would have been like to be behind the scenes on election night with Barack Obama? Well, now we kind of get a close glimpse. The photos were released today by the Obama campaign showed how the waiting to game played out on election night in a Chicago hotel room.

Barack Obama seeming calm, cool and pretty collected as he sits in the hotel room with Michelle, his wife and his mother-in-law. Certainly nothing tense, it seems, in his demeanor. His daughters, Sasha and Malia, look as relaxed and poised as their dad. I'm not sure they really know how transformed their lives are about to become.

And then, Jill and Joe Biden join the Obamas.

Are you talking to Jake?

HILL: I'm sorry.

COOPER: You're talking to your dog?

HILL: I'm trying -- I'm trying to make sure there's no...

COOPER: That's OK. As long -- as long as you think he's listening.

HILL: I think these pictures are fantastic.

COOPER: They are.

HILL: I didn't want to take away from them. I'm sorry.

COOPER: All right. We'll do one more picture, Jill Biden and Joe Biden joining the Obamas right before their moment in history began; an unforgettable night for everyone.

HILL: It's so great that they shared those pictures too, to give us that inside look.

COOPER: It's cool. How's Jake doing?

HILL: Jake is doing great. Jake is a big hit here. He has a lot of new friends, I think.

COOPER: We should have "Bring Your Dog to Work Day" everyday, I think. HILL: That's a great idea.

COOPER: That does it for this edition of "360." Thanks for watching.

"Larry King" starts right now.

Have a great weekend.

Now give him a treat.

COOPER: Wow.

HILL: And that's pretty much the extent of this but as long that we are all behave were happy.

COOPER: High five I'm very impressed of it.

FOREMAN: I didn't there were going to be tricks involved.

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