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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Primary Night Results
Aired May 18, 2010 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: And good evening again.
It is a very big election night, a major win so far for the Tea Party, serious implications as well for President Obama and the Democrats, crucial primaries in three states, Arkansas, Pennsylvania, and Kentucky, a special congressional election as well in Pennsylvania. It could be a sign of things to come this November.
The other big news tonight: two politicians behaving badly, one saying he served in Vietnam when he didn't, the other, a supposed family-values conservative caught cheating with a staffer, a staffer with whom he co-starred in a video promoting -- wait for it -- abstinence.
Big night, big political panel assembled, Joe Johns, GOP strategist Mary Matalin, and Alex Castellanos. Errol Louis of "The New York Daily News" is here. Author of "Wingnuts" John Avlon is here. Democratic strategist Paul Begala also joins us. John King is with us, digging deeper, and correspondents in those three battleground states as well, Candy Crowley in Pennsylvania, where incumbent party-switcher Arlen Specter is in the fight of his political life. And in Western Pennsylvania, a special election to replace the late Congressman John Murtha, it has been seen as a potential sign of things to come of who controls Congress after November. We will check with her shortly.
Also, Jessica Yellin in Kentucky, where the Tea Party has won big, and Dana Bash, in Arkansas, where Senator Blanche Lincoln is fighting for her political life.
Polls now closed in all three states.
Wolf Blitzer is handling all the late results. He joins us now -- Wolf.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Let me update our viewers, Anderson, on what we know right now, because it's all very, very dramatic, what is going on.
Let's start off in Kentucky. We know that Rand Paul, the ophthalmologist and eye surgeon, the son of Ron Paul, he has won the Republican primary in Kentucky, beating -- beating Trey Grayson, the Kentucky secretary of state, 59 percent to 36 percent.
Also in Kentucky, there's a Democratic primary under way, but it's still too close to call -- 96 percent of the vote is in. But look at this. Jack Conway, the Kentucky attorney general, is just slightly ahead of Dan Mongiardo, the Kentucky lieutenant governor. We have not yet been able to project a winner there. We will watch it very, very closely.
In Pennsylvania, right now, this is close, but, right now, Joe Sestak, the challenger to the incumbent, Arlen Specter, has taken a slight lead, 52 percent to 49 percent, with about 42 percent of the precincts reporting, Sestak slightly ahead of the former Republican, now Democrat Arlen Specter.
There is an actual election, a special election in Pennsylvania in the 12th District. This is the district that John Murtha used to hold. And the Democrat, Mark Critz, is ahead of the Republican, Tim Burns, 58 percent to 40 percent. Twenty-one percent of the vote is in.
We're still waiting for more results coming in from Arkansas. But Blanche Lincoln is ahead with only 4 percent of the precincts in, 46 percent. She's being challenged by the lieutenant governor, Bill Halter, being challenged from the left.
So, there's a lot more results coming in, Anderson. We're going to stay on top of all of this, but that Pennsylvania race very, very close right now, Arlen Specter and Joe Sestak.
COOPER: Obviously a big race tonight, Kentucky, the reason Tea Partiers there are partying tonight.
National political correspondent Jessica Yellin is in Bowling Green, Kentucky, joining us now.
Jessica, a lot of very excited people there, Rand Paul supporters.
JESSICA YELLIN, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: They're very excited, and they have a clear message, Anderson. It is that the Tea Party movement is a political force to be reckoned with.
They're not shy about saying, this is a victory for the Tea Party and a message to Washington that it needs to change. The message I get from folks here over and over is: I have to balance my budget, good times and bad. Government should, too. And that message applies to Republicans, as well as Democrats.
I spoke with Rand Paul shortly after he gave his victory speech and asked about the Republican Party. Listen to what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
YELLIN: Should the Republican establishment be worried tonight?
RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I mean it in a friendly way when I say, Washington, here we come. I don't mean it in a bellicose way.
I think there are a lot of things -- there is a movement, though. And I think they're aware of it. And I want to make the Republican Party believable as fiscal conservatives again. And that's what I want. And I think a lot of them want that, too. They may just need a little guidance.
YELLIN: Do you think that people need to change, or just the priorities?
PAUL: Some of both. Some of both.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Jessica Yellin...
YELLIN: Now, Anderson, I -- sorry. I just wanted to add that he did speak with Mitch McConnell, who is the Senate majority -- minority leader and one of the -- the key leaders of this state, who endorsed his opponent.
They have made peace, and they say they will join in a unity rally this weekend -- Anderson.
COOPER: Jessica Yellin, thanks very much.
Want to go to Wolf Blitzer. We have another projection to make -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Anderson, we are now ready to project the winner of the -- of the Kentucky Democratic primary, the Senate race in Kentucky. Jack Conway, the Kentucky attorney general, we project will now win this contest, beating Dan Mongiardo, the Kentucky lieutenant general.
Conway will be the opponent now to Rand Paul. Conway wins the Democratic Senate -- Jack Conway will win the Democratic Senate primary in Kentucky -- Anderson.
COOPER: All right, Wolf, thanks very much.
Let's talk to our panel, starting with Mary Matalin.
What do you make of Rand Paul's victory and this victory in Kentucky?
MARY MATALIN, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: The -- Rand Paul is the face, if you will, of the Tea Partiers and the Tea Party people, who have been dismissed by this administration and a lot of Democrats.
They are an extension and a reflection of Republicans letting down fiscal conservatives, too, which we got that message in '06. We got it again in '08, because four million Republicans didn't turn out. So, there's a melding. They tend to be more libertarian. But there's a lot of mainstream, old-time, regulation Republicans who have been dissatisfied for the last two cycles and are -- it's -- they're coming together and making this kind of candidacy and this kind of victory.
COOPER: Paul Begala, should -- should the White House be concerned about Rand Paul's message? PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Oh, absolutely. Everybody ought to be concerned.
And congratulations, first off, to Dr. Paul. He's won his party's nomination. He's going to have to go out and fight the Democrat for the Senate seat.
But this is an interesting thing. The big loser here, much more than Barack Obama, is, of course, Mitch McConnell. He's the -- he's the majority leader of the Senate and the leader of the Republican Party in Kentucky. They named the building after him. In Frankfort, the Republican Party headquarters is named after Mitch McConnell.
And what a black eye for Mitch. In fact, just recently -- I just got a press release -- Richard Viguerie, one of the founding fathers of the new right they called it back then, before even the Reagan Revolution -- Richard Viguerie is a conservative activist of many years -- has called on McConnell to step down as his party's leader in the United States Senate.
So, this could be a real revolution for Mitch McConnell.
Alex, I saw you kind of shaking your head.
ALEX CASTELLANOS, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Oh, I think it's a little amusing interpretation of what's going on.
The message tonight from Kentucky is that Republicans need to be more Republican and that Democrats need to be more Republican. That's pretty good for Republicans. You know, there wasn't this anti- incumbent tide until voters in America figured out who the incumbents were and how much they were spending and that Washington wasn't listening.
So, yes, I think the message tonight is -- is really anti- insider. And this wasn't about Mitch McConnell. This was about big government in Washington.
COOPER: John King, do you see it that way. Is it -- is it anti- insider, or is it too simple to say simply anti-incumbent?
JOHN KING, HOST, "JOHN KING, USA": Oh, there's an anti- establishment move in the country, make no doubt about it.
The Tea Party is saying it in Kentucky and elsewhere. You see in that Pennsylvania race as it unfolds tonight, if Joe Sestak can upset Arlen Specter, MoveOn.org and others are saying, look, we're not going to be told what to do by the people in charge, whether they be the president of the United States or the Senate Republican leader.
But what makes this fascinating is that the Republican will be favored in Kentucky in November. In politics, the new guys who just won are the guys people listen to, which is why everyone in Washington is listening to Scott Brown right now, after a Republican can win in Massachusetts. If Rand Paul comes to Washington with that message, and he has one or two people that win on the same message, the big conversation in Washington next year is going to be about controlling federal spending, deficit reduction. And they will listen to the new members who can say, the grassroots want you to do this.
It will bring new energy, if you will, to a debate that Washington, Anderson, frankly, has failed at under presidents Democratic and Republican, Congresses Democratic and Republican: How do you get the deficit under control?
COOPER: I want to bring in our other panelists in just a second, but we have got to take a quick break.
The live chat is up and running at AC360.com. Talk to viewers around the world and around America watching right now.
Also ahead, along with the results, the fallout: The Democratic Senate candidate in Kentucky, perhaps the most popular public figure in the state, now under fire because he said he served in Vietnam and was not telling the truth. I -- we said -- Connecticut, I should say.
Plus, a sickening new view of the oil spill, pictures BP didn't want seen.
And, later, the results of an eye-opening pilot study suggesting that even very young kids, even African-American kids show a preference for light skin. We will explain why ahead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Show me the smart child. And why is she the smart child?
UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: Because she....
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because she's what?
UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: White.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: 360 -- 360 election coverage tonight: crucial primaries and special elections in three states.
As we have been reporting already, one blowout, the Kentucky GOP Senate primary, Tea Party candidate Rand Paul trouncing his opponent.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: I have a message, a message from the Tea Party, a message that is loud and clear and doesn't mince words: We have come to take our government back.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
PAUL: We have come to take our government back from the special interests who think that the federal government is their own personal ATM, from the politicians who bring us oversized fake checks emblazoned with their signature, as if it was their money to give.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Rand Paul tonight.
Back now with our political panel.
Errol, what is the message Washington should get from this?
ERROL LOUIS, COLUMNIST, "THE NEW YORK DAILY NEWS": Washington should get the message that, if they intend to go on, as they have done, spending billions of dollars, hundreds of billions of dollars, on what I consider actually some worthy things, like saving the economy, rescuing the banking system and so forth, there are going to be some political consequences.
And, so, presumably folks went into this with eyes wide open starting in 2008, when the financial crisis hit. They knew that there was going to be a political price to be paid. They're sort of hoping, I think, it's not going to be as bad as they maybe expect.
But they have also got an education job. They haven't really gone out and sold some of the things that have happened over the last two years. If they really believed that they needed to save the banking system, they better go out and they better explain it. There's no more hiding. There's no more avoiding any of the town hall meetings or anything like that. That's what elections are for.
The parameters of the election are being laid out. Those who want to survive in the fall, they better go out and make the case for big government spending.
COOPER: Is this the beginning of a tidal wave, a Tea Party tidal wave, as Rand Paul says?
JOHN AVLON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, there's no question.
Rand Paul said that he rode this tidal wave to this victory tonight. It is a milestone in the evolution of the Tea Party movement. And as long he stay and the movement -- he stays and the movement stays focused on message of fiscal discipline, or reining in deficits and debts, that is a message that can translate, not only uniting the Republican Party, but appeal to independent voters.
The problem came slightly later in his speech, when he started talking about how Obama appeared at Copenhagen next to Mugabe and Chavez. That is the message that alienates independent voters. So, if they stay on fiscal, it can really build bridges. If they start moving -- moving into what I call Obama derangement syndrome, that cuts both ways, and it can alienate more than it attracts.
COOPER: Though it's not just Republicans who seem disinterested in kind of going to the middle.
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: No, what -- true. And this is one of the themes this evening. It's a question about what's happening to the middle.
You look not just at this case of Grayson going by the wayside down in Kentucky, but you look over in Pennsylvania, and you see the kinds of problems that Senator Specter may be having. He's one of those moderates. Like him, don't like him, he's been one of those moderates in politics for a very long time.
And there are others. And the question is, what's happening to them? And is this one of those phases where American politics is absolutely just going to the wings, and they're going to try to fight it out by governing from the wings, which a lot of people say is very difficult to do?
COOPER: Alex, you were looking at turnout numbers.
One of the things we have seen in Kentucky is that, when you compare it to 2006, which was the last similar off-year election, the Democratic turnout seems to be down nearly 20 percent, and Republican turnout up. In other words, Republicans are turning out at a lot higher rate, and Democrats less. That's the enthusiasm gap I think Democrats have to watch out for.
COOPER: Can that turn, though, for Democrats, Mary, in the next...
What we started seeing -- what some -- some are calling moderates are really unaffiliated or independent voters.
MATALIN: I don't mean you, per se, but they really identify with conservative issues by 2-1.
We started seeing that last spring. There was sort of a -- a moving away from the Obama agenda with the stimulus and the spending. And then the independents, to this day, starting at the end of the summer, have solidified 2-1 intensely against these big-government spending policies.
AVLON: But -- but independent voters have been consistent. They have been consistent.
Since the days of Ross Perot, we have been deficit hawks and we like divided government, because it provides checks and balances. Independent voters started swinging away from Barack Obama, after voting for him by an eighty-point margin, with the stimulus bill, with the bailout bill, because it angered them. There's just a commonsense frustration about: I have got to balance my checkbook. How come big business and big government is arrogantly exempt? But they're fiscally conservative, but they're also closer to Democrats on social issues. It's not a simple win-win for Republicans.
CASTELLANOS: This election is not about social issues.
AVLON: That's correct. That's right.
CASTELLANOS: It's about the economy.
And one of the big question is, is Barack Obama becoming George Bush? George Bush alienated independents and Democrats actually who did not like the man very much? Has -- is -- are independents and Republicans now uniting because of Obama's big-spending economic policies?
MATALIN: Yes, we invented the derangement syndrome, OK?
AVLON: A little derangement never hurt anybody.
COOPER: We're going to -- we're going to have more from -- we're going to have more from our panelists.
We have got another -- another projection to make.
Wolf Blitzer joins us for that -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Anderson, the Associated Press is now projecting that Joe Sestak will defeat Arlen Specter for the Democratic senatorial nomination.
We're still waiting for some more numbers to come in from the Philadelphia suburbs. We're not yet ready to make that projection, but wanted to just let our viewers know the AP is projecting, with 65 percent of the vote in, that Joe Sestak, the retired Navy admiral, the Democratic congressman from Pennsylvania who now has 53 percent of the vote, to Specter's 47 percent, AP says that Sestak will win, he will defeat the 80-year-old incumbent Democratic senator who used to be a Republican.
Joe Sestak is 58 years old. He's serving a second term in the House of Representatives from Pennsylvania. We will continue to watch this one as well. But, if the AP is right, this will be the end of Arlen Specter's career as a United States senator, because he has said he will support the Democratic candidate.
COOPER: Let's bring in Paul Begala.
Paul, what do you make of this? This is certainly -- if true, if the AP is correct, it's -- it's big news. BEGALA: If AP is right, you know, it's historic.
Arlen Specter has been winning elections in that state for as long as anybody can remember. You know, as -- he started out originally as a Democrat, about 300 years ago, and then most of his career as a Republican. Now he's finishing up as a Democrat. Maybe he will be a Whig next.
BEGALA: But he's been at the center of so much.
Did you know, when he was a young staffer on the Warren Commission, he's the guy that came up with the theory of the magic bullet, the one bullet that supposedly wounded John Connally and hit President Kennedy. I mean, he's been at the heart of everything.
But if ever there was an example of an entrenched incumbent -- and I think one that Democrats, at least, were kind of tired of in Pennsylvania -- it was -- it was Senator Specter.
Joe Sestak ran a tough, smart campaign, went right at that incumbency, went right at that establishment credentials. And it shows that two can play at this game, that this is not 1994, which really was a big anti-Democratic year. This is much more subtle. This is an anti-incumbent year. That's why Bob Bennett, senator in Utah, Republican, lost in a primary. It's why Senator Specter apparently may well go down tonight.
COOPER: John King?
KING: Anderson, number one, I talked to a number of labor sources in Pennsylvania throughout the day who believed all day long Sestak was going to win. They said they were not turning out.
And labor was on Senator Specter's side. But they believed Sestak would win this race because they said they were not getting the turnout in central city Philadelphia and union voters just outside the city. That's what they believed.
Number two, to Paul's point, Sestak ran a very smart campaign, saying, Arlen Specter switched parties to save his job, not to help you. If I go to Washington, I will fight for you.
So, it's an authenticity argument with you -- if you will, in a Democratic primary. And it's a -- the big question now many people will ask is -- and you have been talking about this a bit, slightly off-subject a little bit, but Barack Obama won in 2008 by getting big African-American turnout, by winning big in the suburbs, and by, after losing the union vote in places like Pennsylvania to Hillary Clinton, getting them to come around to his way in the general election.
Is the Obama coalition now deciding in decent numbers, significant pieces of it, to sit out the midterms for whatever reason, because their support was personal to him or because they're not happy with the direction of Washington? They didn't get enough in the health care bill, for example. They don't support more troops in Afghanistan. Guantanamo Bay is still open. Don't ask, don't tell has not been repealed.
Is there enough disaffection on the left that -- that you don't have the intensity? Obama won in 2008 because of the huge intensity gap in the left's favor. There's no question tonight the intensity gap is on the right.
COOPER: All right, John King.
We're going to continue the coverage throughout the night. We will be talking to our panelists.
Also, another scandal today -- the family-values-preaching, abstinence-promoting, married Republican congressman admitting an affair with his abstinence -- abstinence-promoting staffer, the staffer he made an abstinence -- abstinence-promoting video with.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MARK SOUDER (R), INDIANA: When I was chairman of the committee, of which Waxman was part of -- chairman -- was part of my subcommittee we did on abstinence programs on how to make them work better.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Arlen Specter now -- let's listen in -- conceding the race.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
CROWD: Arlen! Arlen! Arlen! Arlen! Arlen!
COOPER: Arlen Specter there appearing on the stage, big races, with potentially big indications.
CNN is now also obviously confirming, this race, Arlen Specter has lost.
Candy Crowley is standing by.
Candy, the mood there tonight?
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Oh, wow. Very subdued.
The senator's speech -- let's remember, we're ending a 30-year Senate career here tonight. There are lots of people in this audience who have been with Senator Specter for most of those 30 years. It was a tough speech, very, very short. Basically, he just thanked everyone, brought his grandchildren, his son and his wife up on the stage. But it's a tough night. He did say that he had called Congressman Sestak.
Senator Specter, whom I spoke to on Sunday, said, unequivocally, that he would support the Democratic nominee, even if it was Sestak. This has been a very, very bitter race here between Sestak and Specter, got quite personal at times.
But he said, yes, he would. So, he has talked to Sestak. He has said it is important for Democrats to hold onto this seat in the fall, and he will do what he can. But, mostly, this was a goodbye and thank-you.
But I have to tell you, this room was probably about half full. It was -- it just struck me again that -- that, again, that this is a man who has served Pennsylvania 30 years, reelected five different times -- as a Republican, we should say -- who led -- really, it looked like he was going to win this as a Democrat. He switched over about a year ago.
But the fact of the matter was, it was very hard in the end for Specter to convince hard-core Democrats -- and that's who votes in these midterm primaries -- that he was truly one of them. Sestak really saw that as a soft spot, and he went right for it with ads questioning whether Specter really was a Republican, saying the only reason Specter changed parties was, he thought that was the only way he could win in Pennsylvania.
So, again, a pretty tough race and a very tough loss for a man who has been reelected five different times. But now this will be the final year of Arlen Specter's career. Eighty years old, he is going to have to find another day job -- Anderson.
COOPER: We're following three crucial primaries in three states.
Let's get the latest on the contest in Arkansas now, Senator Blanche Lincoln, a moderate Democrat, facing a tough battle.
Dana Bash is covering the primary from Little Rock. She joins us now -- Dana.
DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, this is a very similar situation that Blanche Lincoln finds herself in. The difference, obviously, is that Blanche Lincoln has been a Democrat all her life.
But, in Arkansas, being a Democrat traditionally means you are very, very moderate, in order to survive, in order to keep winning, because this is a conservative state. And that has put her in the position of having a Democratic challenger.
And what her goal is tonight is to break the 50 percent threshold. Now, that is the only way she can prevent a runoff within the Democratic primary. And that would be on June 8. And it's very interesting, because she is being challenged not just by her -- her challenger -- and that is Lieutenant Governor Bill Halter -- but also by lots of outside forces who consider her, frankly, a traitor to Democratic issues.
Big labor, who is in Pennsylvania, fighting for Arlen Specter, they have been here with millions of dollars, lots of manpower to try to defeat Blanche Lincoln, because they say that she has not been on their side on issues. And, also, liberal organizations also say that she wasn't there enough for President Obama on health care.
So, that's the kind of thing she's fighting.
COOPER: And, Dana, I mean, it sounds like what you're hearing there is the same kind of thing voters in Kentucky and elsewhere are saying who support the Tea Party movement.
BASH: It's very, very interesting, fascinating.
You're right. You know, we have been talking all night about the Tea Party movement obviously coming in on the Republican Party from the right and really from a fiscal point of view. It's not that different from what we're seeing here in Arkansas on the Democratic side.
Bill Halter, who, again, is Blanche Lincoln's challenger, he has been -- has -- has had a very populist kind of tone, not unlike, again, those Tea Party movement messages, which is: Blanche Lincoln voted for the bailouts. Get her out of Washington. Blanche Lincoln is not good enough on fiscal responsibility. Get her out of Washington.
So, again, it's coming from the left. I mean, this could be a test whether or not that populist sentiment has a force on the left, just like it is having -- and we see it tonight in Kentucky -- on the right.
COOPER: Dana Bash, reporting live. Dana, we will check in with you.
While some candidates were battling for their political lives in today's primaries, others were busy kind of shooting themselves in the foot. Take Connecticut Attorney General Democrat Richard Blumenthal, the state's Democratic front-runner for U.S. Senate, a politician known for citing his military service.
Here he is in 2008.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D), CONNECTICUT ATTORNEY GENERAL: We have learned something very important since the days that I served in Vietnam.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Just one of several instances where Blumenthal recalled his days in Vietnam in speeches before veterans and other groups. The problem is, Blumenthal didn't serve in Vietnam.
At a news conference today, he explained he really meant to say was, he served -- quote -- "during Vietnam."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BLUMENTHAL: On a few occasions, I have misspoken about my service. And I regret that, and I take full responsibility.
But I will not allow...
BLUMENTHAL: I will not allow anyone to take a few misplaced words and impugn my record of service to our country.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Amen.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Meantime, another bombshell: Indiana Republican Congressman Mark Souder today announced his resignation, effective Friday, after admitting his affair with a staffer.
Oh, we also have another projection.
We will get to politicians behaving badly in a moment.
Wolf, what do you got?
BLITZER: Anderson, thanks very much.
The special election in Pennsylvania in the 12th District, CNN now projects that Mark Critz, the Democrat, has defeated Tim Burns, the Republican. The Democrats will stay in control of this congressional district. This is the seat that was long held by the late John Murtha.
Critz used to work for Murtha for a long time. It's a politically and socially conservative Democratic area, so there was a fierce fight. Both campaigns spent about a million dollars. But in the end, CNN now projects that the Democrats will continue to hold the seat, Mark Critz beating Tim Burns in Pennsylvania, the 12th District. A big win for the Democrats, Anderson.
COOPER: Well, thanks very much. Joe, anything to read into that?
JOHNS: Yes, well, that was considered by a lot of people a real test of Nancy Pelosi's political power. She actually went to that district. There was a lot of concern about Democrats being able to hold onto that seat because of John Murtha, because of his history in that place, and because this was a place he was supposed to hold onto.
A lot of questions now. It is clear, at least in this district, that it's not as black and white as people have been saying. It's not one of these issues where Republicans are just going to walk away with the primary.
CASTELLANOS: Look at what the Democrat did to close that race and how he ran. He ran with an ad saying, "I'm pro-life and I'm pro gun, and I would have voted against Obama-care." That's what a Democrat has to do in a district that was 60 percent Democrat last time to get re-elected.
The question is can Democratic incumbents do that same thing when they were in Congress and they voted for more spending, they voted for Obama-care, and they voted for the agenda that these voters seem to be rejecting?
COOPER: I want to go to Paul Begala. Paul, we talked about Richard Blumenthal last night. Today, he says that he misspoke. I think only politicians use that word "misspoke." Other people call it a lie or just a mistake. But he says he accepts responsibility for misspeaking. What do you make of that?
BEGALA: You know, voters are going to have to sort through whether this is some fundamental character flaw, right, which I think many may think, or was this just a bizarre malaprop, a bizarre -- you remember in 2004, Condoleezza Rice called George W. Bush "my husband." Now, that was really deeply creepy and weird, but you know, it was just weird. One of those weird things. And sometimes people say things...
COOPER: How were you able to bring the Bush administration into this conversation?
BEGALA: Because it was so bizarre. People -- but sometimes people make these mistakes. And you know, I was talking to my girlfriend, Pamela Anderson, about this just earlier. We were having a cigarette, after a little fun, and she couldn't understand either, how people make these things up.
COOPER: But it's one thing to cite one example of saying "my husband" or "Pamela Anderson." It's another thing to...
CASTELLANOS: Which no one would believe.
COOPER: Which no one would believe anyway, Paul, as Alex points out. But I mean, it's another thing to repeatedly say it in speeches.
BEGALA: It is. Don't ask me to defend it. What -- I talked to some of his campaign advisors today. What they say is lots of other times he told the truth. Now, looks to be a part-time truth teller is probably an aspiration for many politicians. But it's not -- it's not good enough for me. I have to say, I'm really troubled by this as a Democrat, et cetera. It's not about being a Democrat. There are a lot of good people who fought and died and were wounded and served with great honor in Vietnam. And one ought never count himself in that number unless, in fact, he served in Vietnam, not in the Marine Corps back state-side, which is perfectly honorable. But he said he served in Vietnam. And I think voters are going to have a problem with this. We'll see if they just excuse it will not excuse this. I think he just invented the perfect Pamela Anderson moment.
CASTELLANOS: Paul may have just invented the best political slogan ever: "Lots of times he tells the truth."
COOPER: We'll also talk about the Republican abstinence-loving politician who wasn't enjoying abstinence with his staffer. That's coming up.
But also the latest numbers of results from tonight's big primary battles. We have that.
Also tonight, the CEO of BP saying the massive oil spill will not have a major environmental impact. And then, in the next sentence, admitting it's impossible to say. Details on that sort of political speak coming up.
And later, kids and race.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Show me the mean child.
(WHITE BOY POINTS TO DARKEST CHILD)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why is he the mean child?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He has darker skin.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: What kids say about skin color and what their parents don't know about biases that their own kids may have. The answer, surprises, in our pilot study, ahead.
COOPER: We're going to have more election results and more on what kids today think about race. The startling results of our pilot doll study.
But first, "Keeping Them Honest," the latest on the massive oil spill in the gulf and new claims by BP about its impact. This is one of the newest photos of the spill and, look, it shows how the oil is coming ashore in Louisiana and bands of it flowing into marsh lands. This photo was released by the state today. BP today saying that they're now able to collect 2,000 barrels of oil a day for the oil that's gushing out into the gulf. They've been using the estimate that 5,000 barrels a day are gushing into the gulf all along. Everyone has been using that estimate. So today, they're basically saying they're collecting about two-fifths of all the gushing oil. Well, that would sound like great news.
There's a problem, though. No one really knows how much oil is gushing. Independent experts who have analyzed the video of the leak say it could be as much as 70,000 barrels a day. And BP, by their own admission, say they're not sure how much is leaking. So all these new reports today claiming they're capturing two-fifths of the oil seem unreliable.
Then there's the latest comment from the guy in charge of BP, the chief executive. Here's what he told Sky News today. He said, and I quote, "I think the environmental impact of this disaster is likely to have been very, very modest. It is impossible to say, and we will mount as part of the aftermath a very detailed environmental assessment as we go forward. We're going to do that with some of the science institutions of the U.S. But everything we can see at the moment suggests that the overall environmental impact will be very, very modest."
So he says it's very, very modest in one breath. In the next breath, he says it's impossible to say. It's the definition of double-talk.
On the House floor, Illinois Congressman Luis Gutierrez urging BP be forever banned from future oil drill leases from the government. I spoke with Congressman Gutierrez earlier.
COOPER: Congressman Gutierrez, I want to ask you. The CEO of BP said today to Sky News that the environmental impact of this is going to be very, very modest. And in the next sentence, he said, that of course, it's impossible to know. What do you make of this guy? I mean, do you believe anything they say?
REP. LUIS GUTIERREZ (D), ILLINOIS: I don't. They continue to show a complete disregard for safety and environment. And it's time that we go, as I asked for in my letter, and I'm going to encourage other of my other colleagues to join me to inspect every last place that they're drilling and exploring today.
COOPER: Are you for banning all offshore oil drilling?
GUTIERREZ: I think we need to seriously consider stopping it. This company makes 62 million dollars a day, every day of the year. They don't take a day off for Christmas or for Thanksgiving, every day.
And so what have we done? We fine them a couple of hundred million dollars. They don't care. That's two or three days' worth of profits. And we're going to continue to give them the leases so they can do the exploration so then they can turn around and show such a disregard for our environment and for safety? Not once, Anderson, not twice. Three, four, five times.
It's time that we said, doesn't matter who you hire, what powerful influential lobbyists, and how many millions of dollars you pay them. The American people will not tolerate continuing to allow you to explore and to drill when we're giving you the leases.
COOPER: The other thing I don't understand is that BP yesterday was saying, "We're now sucking up 1,000 barrels of oil a day through this rig that we've -- we set up." Today, they're saying, "OK, now we're up to 2,000 barrels of oil a day." And it's being reported that that means that two-fifths of the oil that's leaking is being sucked up.
But by BP's own admission, they have no idea how much oil is being sucked up. Independent experts have said it could be as much as 70,000 barrels a day are actually leaking out of this thing. So 2,000 barrels might actually just be a tiny little drop in the bucket. And BP has publicly said they're not interested in trying to find out how much oil is leaking right now. Does that make sense to you?
GUTIERREZ: I think it's outrageous that they will not tell us and confirm from a scientific point of view just what the damage is. People died on that rig. Sometimes we forget. People died. They died in Texas, and we're going allow them to continue to have a license to kill? I think it's time to begin a grand jury and impanel one.
COOPER: They're saying in their statement that we had on the air last night. I mean, they're essentially saying, "Look, we're focused on cleaning this up. You know, there's -- it's going to take away from the response effort if we're busy looking at how much oil is being leaked out."
That doesn't -- that just does not make sense. I mean, that could hire independent scientists. They have enough money. They could hire independent scientists. It's not as if -- it's like, you know, it's like during Katrina when people -- politicians said, "Look, now is not the time to point fingers." You know, you can point fingers and clean up at the same time.
GUTIERREZ: Absolutely. Look, every day their profits are $62 million a day. Let's remember that. How much could it possibly cost them so that they will know? How do you plan for the future? How do you take -- how do you plan contingencies for the damage if you do not know what is going on today?
Listen, Anderson, you can't believe them. You couldn't believe them in Texas. You couldn't believe them in Ohio. You couldn't believe them in Alaska. You can't believe them today. They have absolutely no credibility.
COOPER: Congressman Gutierrez, appreciate your time tonight.
GUTIERREZ: Thanks, Anderson.
(END VIDEOTAPE) COOPER: Well, every night for weeks, though, we've invited BP to come on the program. Every night they declined. But we did hear from them this evening. They told us they'll be able to speak with one of their -- we'll be able to speak to one of their executives tomorrow. We look forward to that. That will be on the program tomorrow night.
So stick with us for more election coverage throughout the hour. Coming up next on the program, what do your kids think about race? Do they think that white kids are smarter than black kids? See the startling findings from a pilot study conducted on behalf of "360" and how parents reacted to some of their children's answer, next.
COOPER: Would it surprise you to know that your child probably has some very clear ideas about race and skin color? Would it shock you to know that these views are set early and they stick? Those are the results of a carefully-designed pilot study conducted on behalf of this program.
Last night, we showed you some of the results, and they suggested that white kids have a high rate of what researchers call white bias, preference -- preferring white skin and giving negative attributes to darker skin. However, African-American kids also responded in this pilot study with white bias but to a smaller degree.
We showed one African-American parent's reaction to her son's test. Tonight we want to show you a white parent's reaction. Soledad O'Brien and I sat down with Po Bronson, author of "NurtureShock" and Angela Burt-Murray, editor-in-chief of "Essence" magazine, to dig deeper.
COOPER: A lot of parents watching our report no doubt wondered how their child would respond. Soledad and I each spoke to a panel of parents about their child's tests. And we want to play you some clips. Let's take a look at one mom's reaction to her son's test that I spoke to.
Let's look at Laura Andrew.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Show me the dumb child.
(WHITE BOY POINTS AT DARKEST CHILD)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why is he the dumb child?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because he's really black.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. Show me the nice child.
(WHITE BOY POINTS AT LIGHTEST CHILD)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why is he the nice child?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because he's the whitest.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Show me the mean child.
(WHITE BOY POINTS AT DARK CHILD)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. Why is he the mean child?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because he's darker than these.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. Show me the good child.
(WHITE BOY POINTS AT LIGHT CHILD)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why is he the good child?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because he's white.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. Show me the bad child.
(WHITE BOY POINTS AT DARKEST CHILD)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why is he the bad child?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because he's really dark.
COOPER: I saw you shaking your head.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. It's disappointing. I should be disappointed. I mean, it makes me think I need to be doing a better job at home. I need to teach him -- you know, it's really -- it's upsetting.
I spent 15 years as a teacher trying to teach first graders about all different societies and cultures and races, and then here's my own child. His finger went so quick to the white side, it's fascinating.
COOPER: It surprised you?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. And we're definitely -- we don't live in a diverse community. So I think he's, you know, very comfortable with children of his own color. That's basically what he's known his whole life. So I just, you know, want to do more, talk about it more openly, definitely.
COOPER: You gasped when the child first pointed to the dark- skinned child.
ANGELA BURT-MURRAY, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, "ESSENCE" MAGAZINE: I did. I did. I was really surprised. You know, it's -- you could see the anguish on his mother's face when she saw that her child had made that distinction.
But I think that, you know, it's a clear example of, while she's never chosen to talk about race, he has clearly internalized some messages that he's gotten through society that's -- indicate that darker skinned children are perhaps not as smart or not as honorable, you know, things like that, those insidious messages that are woven into the fabric of this country.
COOPER: Po, research found that white kids had a fairly high rate of what researchers called white bias. And you say that's not white kids being taught racism. If it's not that, what is it?
PO BRONSON, AUTHOR, "NURTURESHOCK": Clearly, this is the mom who has not talked to her child about race and skin color. She didn't know if he saw race and skin color or she would know if she taught it to him.
What's going on is essentialism. Young kids are prone to categorizing the world. And they make a categorical error all the time, which is they assume those who look like them share the same traits that they have. They'll like the same things that they like. And kids use skin color, along with gender and height and shirt color and all the things that are plainly visible, to make these attribution errors.
And what -- the result is that kids, they're not necessarily taught race-based preferences. It's in the absence of messages of tolerance that they will naturally, developmentally be prone to essentialism and develop these skin preferences.
BURT-MURRAY: I think it also goes back to what the mother said about they don't live in a very diverse community. So he's not seeing people that look -- that maybe look a little bit different than he does in his school, in his church, living next door, playing Little League with him. So he has no other influences than the negative stereotypes that he's unconsciously absorbing.
I have no doubt that this mother is a good mother and that she, you know, considers people to all be equal. She's an educator, and she believes that. But her child is internalizing messages that she has to learn how to get a handle on and control.
COOPER: So Po, for a parent watching this, what is the -- what is the message? Talk to your child about race?
BRONSON: From the earliest ages, especially amongst white parents. Imagine how they read a picture book to their 6-month-old, to their 9-month-old. They have that picture book open, and they're saying, "Oh, look, the balloon is red. And look, her shoes are blue." And then -- yet there's one of the child has brownish skin, and one of the child has whitish, pinkish skin, and they completely ignore it. They're missing opportunities to talk about it. More than that, they're passing on a taboo that this is unmentionable and unspeakable.
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: But another thing I think people have to do, your kids follow what you do. I have never really realized that until I had children. You can talk and talk, but if you do not actually have a wide circle of friends, if you say one thing and preach diversity, and, "Oh, we believe this and we do that," but our circle of friends is this. And "We use these kinds of words at home, but we tell you not to," guess what they're going to do? They're going to copy exactly what you do and ignore everything you say. (END VIDEOTAPE)
COOPER: We're going to have more on our series on 360 tomorrow. Where are these kids getting these messages about race from? The parents? The media? Other kids? Join us tomorrow for more.
Are tonight's primaries a wake-up call for Washington? We'll have the latest on the contests coming up.
Also demanding answers in Detroit. A 7-year-old girl killed during a police raid. Now the family wants to know if there was an attempt to cover up the tragedy, ahead.
COOPER: We reported earlier, Arlen Specter has conceded the race. Joe Sestak at the mike. Let's listen in.
REP. JOE SESTAK (D-PA), PENNSYLVANIA SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: ... and wanted diverse voices heard. This is what democracy looks like. A win for the people! Over the establishment, over the status quo, even over Washington, D.C.! I will never forget that it was...
COOPER: Joe Sestak saying he will never forget, a win against the establishment. We continue our coverage. Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter losing. Tea Party Republican Rand Paul winning in a blowout. The Democrat winning a crucial House special election in Western Pennsylvania. Still waiting for results in Arkansas. Blanche Lincoln, a very tight race.
We've also got politicians behaving badly, including Indiana Republican Congressman Mark Souder resigning after admitting to an affair with a staffer.
Back now with our panel.
Mary, I mean, just watching Sestak there, do -- you know, it's one thing to get elected saying you're a different kind of politician. But then does anything actually change when they get to Washington?
MATALIN: No. He was specifically -- that's the part of the problem. That's what people are angry about. They're angry that they voted for these guys on the pretense of smaller government, less spending, all of that. Then they go there and they -- whether -- even if they're blue dogs, they end up having to support Nancy Pelosi, Barack Obama.
This particular man was recruited by Rahm Emanuel. Part of this race was he said -- he suggested, he allowed to be inferred that somebody tried to offer him a job, which would be a federal offense, to offer him something of value, to get out of that race. So he did have this -- there was a lot going on there, in a state that Obama won by 10 points. And he -- this will come back to bite the white house in lots of strange ways.
CASTELLANOS: One way is because Barack Obama campaigned for Arlen Specter heavy the last week in every living room on that state and TV, heavy. And in his own party, you know, Barack Obama campaigned for -- in New Jersey, in Virginia, and Massachusetts, didn't get them over the top.
CASTELLANOS: But now -- he was on TV for millions of bucks, are you kidding?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He did robo dial for sure. But he was across the border in Ohio.
CASTELLANOS: I love you, Arlen.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The point of...
CASTELLANOS: I love you, Arlen?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was pretty clear that it was not the White House's choice.
CASTELLANOS: How fickle this kind of love is.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The real news from this win, I think, is that the real loser down the road is probably Pat Toomey. Because he was -- he wanted to run against Arlen Specter. That was the race he knew he could win. The interesting thing about this is Sestak is outpolling Toomey in these races. That's the bigger picture.
COOPER: We've got to take a quick break. Our political coverage continues all through the next hour. We're live until the midnight hour here on the East Coast. Still waiting for results in Arkansas. We'll be right back.