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Barbour's Pardons; Remembering Trayvon Martin; Anti-Government Protests In Syria

Aired April 13, 2012 - 20:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, HOST: Tom, thanks. Goo evening everyone.

We begin with "Keeping Them Honest" with a new and troubling chapter in the saga that has already landed these murders on the street their records wiped clean, free to vote, free to live where they please, free to buy guns as if their deadly crimes never happened.

We're talking, of course, about former Mississippi governor, Haley Barbour. On his was out office, he pardoned those men. He gave a factually due justification for what he did. Kept victim's families in the dark and repeatedly refused to answer simple questions about his actions.

Now, all those killers got their first big break when they were chosen to work at servants at the governor's mansion for the governor, then they were pardoned.

According to a report from Mississippi attorney-general's office, two even got car-buying help from the governor's wife. Governor Barbour disputes that. As we said, "360" has uncovered yet another facet of the story. More evidence that calls the entire process to question and suggests there was a rush to pardon the people before checking the facts.

This one concerns the pardon of this man. His name is Harry Bostick. For his third DUI, he was pardoned ford his third DUI even though he was suspected of committing a fourth DUI at the time. Governor Barbour's office said it didn't know that fact before the governor pardoned him on the third DUI. Well tonight, we know otherwise and we'll have more on that in a minute.

Another example it seems that the governor or his office, saying one thing and the facts say another. Here's how he justified pardoning the killers.


HALEY BARBOUR, FORMER MISSISSIPPI GOVERNOR: For decades our government has been served primary live by inmates from the state penal system, almost all murders because the experts say people that committed one crime of passion in their life, after they've served 20 years and these have served on average, 20 years, are the least likely to ever commit another crime. (END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: We pointed out before that experts say Governor Barbour's theory is full of holes. In any case, these were hardly crimes of passion. One killer murdered his victim during a holdup. Another, David Gatlin's stalked his estranged wife, Tammy, then shot her to death as she held their child in her arms before he turned the gun on her friend, Randy Walker.


RANDY WALKER, SHOT BY DAVID GATLIN: I mean, a crime of passion, to me is if you come home from a business trip or you come home from lunch unexpected and you find your spouse, you know, doing something they're not supposed to and you snap and beat them to death with a lamp on the side of the bed table or something.

You don't drive nine hours from Georgia, stalk us all night long, follow me back to my house, find out where I live and who I am. You don't sleep on it all night long, get up and hunt us down the next morning and then do it.

I mean, there's plenty of time to stop what you've done here. And that's one of the questions that if Governor Barbour would ever man-up enough to talk to me that's a question I'd ask him. How is this crime of passion? Show me how this is a crime of passion?


COOPER: Randy Walker said he got just 24 hours notice that David Gatlin, the man who shot him was being set free. He says he never had a chance to fight Gatlin's transfer to the governor's mansion or the subsequent pardon. As for Tammy Gatlin's mother and sister, this is what Governors Barbour claimed about keeping them in the loop.


BARBOUR: Actually came and met with my lawyers two years ago.

COOPER: Governor Barbour claims his lawyers met with your family two years before David Glen Gatlin's release. Is that true?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, that's absolutely false. We have had no contact with the governor or his lawyers, any of his people. No one has made an attempt to contact us.


COOPER: Nor has the former governor shown in the inclination at all to answer any questions about this.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi Governor. Ed lavender with CNN.

BARBOUR: Hi, Ed. How are you doing?

LAVANDERA: Can we talk to you real quick?

BARBOUR: Let me get my instructions first and we will talk.

LAVANDERA: He wouldn't give us a second and walked right inside the building but not before showing us what he thought of the questions.

Governor, can you talk to us about the pardons?

BARBOUR: Wait right here.

LAVANDERA: We'll wait for you out here then. Just told me to stay where I'm cold.

Governor, can we get a few minutes to talk about the pardons with you?

BARBOUR: Not really. When the Supreme Court rules it will be time to talk. I'm not so presumptuous to predict what the Supreme Court is going to do. But when they rule then we can talk.


COOPER: Well, Mississippi Supreme Court ruled and that upheld the pardons, but Governor Barbour still didn't talk that wouldn't answer our questions go wrong, not Erin, not Ed Lavandera. But Ed kept digging and as we said, he has found another pretty surprising chapter in the pardon story. Watch.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE OFFICER: You have any questions?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE OFFICER: Whenever you're ready.

LAVANDERA: Police dash cam cameras repeatedly captured Harry Bostick's drunken stumbles in Oxford, Mississippi. The retired IRS investigator was a familiar face to the officer who arrested him twice.


LAVANDERA: In all, Bostick was convicted of drunk driving three times between 2008 and 2009.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE OFFICER: Have you been drinking today?

LAVANDERA: Bostick was serving a felony sentence in an alcohol abuse program, not in prison, when he asked former Mississippi governor, Hailey Barbour to pardon him. They say Bostick's life fell into a destructive course after the tragic death of his teenage son in a tragic house fire and divorce from his wife. Influential people including former federal prosecutors who are friends with top state-elected officials write glowing letters to Barbour saying Bostick no longer drinks alcohol and had turned his life around.

Last September, the Mississippi parole board in a 3-2 vote, recommended a pardon for Bostick but fate had Harry Bostick on a collision course with an 18-year-old girl named Charity Smith.

LINDA SMITH, CHARITY SMITH'S MOTHER: All I think about is my child every day.

LAVANDERA: Linda Smith weeps when she talks about her daughter. About a week after the parole board's vote, Charity pulled out on this road, near Tupelo, Mississippi, apparently not seeing Harry Bostick's truck coming down the road. Bostick slammed into the side of her car, Charity was killed. Regardless of who was at fault state police say one thing was clear. Bostick was driving drunk again.

Charity was quite the artist.

SMITH: I think so.

LAVANDERA: It was just one week after the parole board's recommendation, three months later, Governor Barbour would pardon Bostick despite his continued drinking. On the day Haley Barbour pardoned Harry Bostick, Bostick was actually sitting in this jail here in Oxford, Mississippi. He was suspected of driving drunk of fourth time involved in the accident that killed Charity Smith.

At the time we first reported the story, the governor spokeswoman told us the governor had no idea that this had happened but now we've obtained documents that suggest the governor's office knew all along.

Bob Whitwell, a former federal prosecutor was one of the friends who pushed for Bostick's pardon. But just days after the deadly car accident, and before Bostick was pardoned, he wrote a much different e-mail to his law school friend, Delbert Hosemann, the current secretary of state in Mississippi.

Whitwell writes. "My friend was involved in a motor vehicle accident. He had been drinking. I had no idea he had messed up. Therefore, hold up on helping him. All of us are in shock. Sorry." The e-mail was forwarded to the governor's office. Barbour's chief lawyer responded, OK, will do. Despite the e-mail, the governor helped anyway and pardoned Bostick.

This is the e-mail we wanted you to see.

SMITH: It means they knew and they still pardoned him!

LAVANDERA: This was four days after charity was killed?

SMITH: Four days. That's not right. This is not right.

LAVANDERA: In February, we tried to ask Governor Barbour about Bostick's pardon.

Governor can we talk about the pardons with you?

BARBOUR: Not really. When the Supreme Court rules --

LAVANDERA: We went back to the governor again looking for answers. Do you regret pardoning --

Once again, Barbour refused. His spokeswoman now says because the pardon issue could go back before the state Supreme Court, we do not think that it is appropriate to comment beyond what Governor Barbour has already stated previously.

We don't know if Barbour's staff told him about Bostick's fourth drunk driving incident and the death of Charity Smith, but Linda Smith is convinced the former governor knew and ignored it.

SMITH: I just want to know why he went ahead and done it, knowing? Why would you go ahead and do it?

LAVANDERA: Do you feel helpless?

SMITH: Yes. Because what can I do? I mean, really, what can I do? It's done. What's so bad is they knew and it still got done. How do you fix that?

LAVANDERA: It can't be fixed and to Linda Smith, the pardon of Harry Bostick stinks of corruption.

Ed Lavandera, CNN. Oxford, Mississippi.


COOPER: Again, we keep trying to get Haley Barbour to sit down with us any time, any place just to give his side of the story. Invitation of course remains opened. I spoke with Linda Smith earlier.


COOPER: How are you holding up, Linda?

SMITH: I take each day the best I can. I miss my daughter so very much.

COOPER: It doesn't get any easier, does it?

SMITH: No, it doesn't.

COOPER: The last time we spoke you said you believed the governor's office when they said they were not aware of a fourth DUI charge. Now you've seen the e-mails and know that they were, in fact, aware of the fourth charge. What went through your mind when you found that out?

SMITH: I could not understand why they still did it. Knowing and why didn't they stop it? Why did he go ahead and do it? I don't understand that. When you have something stating someone is sitting somewhere for the same thing, only a person has died, who does that? I don't understand that.

COOPER: It doesn't make any sense either that they would go ahead and do that knowing about the fourth DUI.

SMITH: No. And another thing I don't understand is if all these people wrote letters stating that this person has changed, why didn't more people come forward and -- they had to have known where he was. Only one person or is there more and we just don't know about it?

COOPER: So, he was in jail at the time the pardon came through?


COOPER: Has Haley Barbour or anyone from his office contacted you?

SMITH: No. No, they haven't.

COOPER: So, no one has contacted just to say I'm sorry about this or to try to explain it?

SMITH: No. No one has called me.

COOPER: What do you want to happen to this man? To Harry Bostick?

SMITH: Them knowing what they did and still pardoning him, I don't see how they can do that. I don't see how that pardon could stand up. I mean, I don't understand that part. How can that happen?

COOPER: What do you want people to remember about your daughter? I mean, to keep in mind about your daughter in all of this?

SMITH: That she had a future, a wonderful future. And she's not here to fulfill it anymore. Her dreams, she was just saying to me days before that, she said mom, I'm not going to lose sight of my dreams. I'm going to get my degree and I'm going to do the things I set out to do. And now, she will not. I mean, she will never feel the sun on her face. She'll never grow up. She'll never have a family.

COOPER: Linda, thank you for talking to us. We're going to keep on this. Thank you. Stay strong.

SMITH: You're welcome.


COOPER: Let us know what you think. We're on facebook, Google plus or follow me on twitter @andersoncooper. I'll be tweeting tonight.

A new disclosure in the Trayvon Martin case. We'll take you inside the courtroom next.


COOPER: New developments in the Trayvon Martin case starting with the moment of the courtroom drama. The judge, Jessica Recksiedler, called a brief hearing to make a disclosure involving her ties to CNN's newest legal analyst, Mark NeJame, who referred defendant George Zimmerman to his current attorney, Mark O'Mara.


JUDGE JESSICA RECKSIEDLER, ASSIGNED TO MARTIN CASE: It's my understanding that Mr. Zimmerman had contacted Mark NeJame to represent him prior to you, Mr. O'Mara. I add that I disclosed previously, my husband works with Mark NeJame.

He does, however, practice only civil law. He has never practice criminal law at this time. But, I did want to make those parties aware for so much to the judicial cannons and that way, under my obligations I wanted to disclose this to you as soon it was possible. So, as I became aware is why I set this status hearing first thing this morning. In that way, you all can decide how you wish to proceed.


COOPER: And neither side has asked the judge to recuse herself but Mark O'Mara said he might file a motion next week. A bond hearing is set for next Friday. The formal arraignment is May 29th. The actual trial may not begin for many, many months.

In the meantime we're learning about Zimmerman's day to day life as an inmate. The Seminole County Jail in Sanford, Florida is under protective custody in a 67 square-foot cell. He has no access to TV or tobacco. He can, however, get reading material from the jail library or by mail order and can purchase items from the commissary.

His first order which is toiletries, clothing, puzzle books, playing cards and snack food and he gets three meals a day and three hours of recreation each week. That's a quick rundown of George Zimmerman's physical circumstances.

As of her his mental state and his case going forward, I talked about it with it to his new attorney, Mark O'Mara.


COOPER: Mr. O'Mara, you spoke with your client. First of all, what is his condition like? How is he doing?

MARK O'MARA, GEORGE ZIMMERMAN'S ATTORNEY ( via telephone): I think he's stressed. He is certainly nervous. A bit frustrated. It's been a long process for him as well including through the imposed isolation of the last several weeks. And now, he is facing second degree murder charges and it's nothing else he has the stress of having been involved in an event where someone passed way. COOPER: What are his thoughts about the charges against him in the proceedings thus far?

O'MARA: Neither he nor I haven't really seen the evidence presented by the state. It's hard to really say whether or not the charges of second-degree were appropriate or overcharging. We'll have to wait to see. He's frustrated. He was charged at all. But I think he's at least -- there's some solace in the reality that we now have some proceed in your place that he knows what will happen next rather than constantly guessing.

COOPER: You decide to hold off on pursuing bail for your client, why?

O'MARA: Couple reasons. I'm not certain the county court judge that was handling this would address it anyway, even if I pushed him. Probably more importantly, truly trying to get a handle on the case and to try to turn down the heat. And were I to demand a bond, then that would put the state in a position of having to bring forth evidence to argue against the bond which would have been just more public presentation of evidence, firstly, without me having had an opportunity to review it and I just made the decision with George that we wouldn't push the issue now.

We do have a bond motion filed. I think it's going to be set for hearing the end of next week. I would like to have continued discussions with the state attorney's office to see if there's a way to come to some resolution to that but we'll see.

COOPER: The two gentlemen who previously were identified as his attorneys, whether or not there was any actual documents signed, it seems there wasn't, they seem to characterize him as suffering from PTSD. Joe Oliver, a friend of George Zimmerman has also said the similar things. Do you think that's a fair characterization?

O'MARA: If he's diagnosed with something that will come after consultation and expert? Like a psychologist or psychiatrist will make that determination. Having done this for many, many years you get a feel for these things. I was able to interact with him very well. He's rational, certainly. And he understands what's going on. He is extraordinarily stressed, as anyone would be if they were in George Zimmerman's position.

COOPER: So, at this point, you really have not talk to George Zimmerman about what happened that night? Anything about the facts of the case? You're waiting and to see what facts the prosecution presents and then bring those to him?

O'MARA: Well, you know, -- and my hope would be frankly, I will have a conversation with him. I don't like having it in the jail but I'm sure that we will - we can talk about more particulars of the case. I'd love to have that conversation with him here in my office after he's out on bond. I'm not just going to wait to see what the state says before I talk to him. Thought, we're building our trust level and it's already at a good point where I'll have those conversations with him soon. COOPER: In terms of timeline, I mean, you're looking at a long time before trial, no?

O'MARA: Yes. I would imagine a case like this, you know, the fact that it's a second-degree with these elements, it's not an enormous amount of facts specific to the case. It has a limited number of witnesses. It happened over a limited period of time. We will look into it but I have to be realistic that the focus of the case is going to slow down some, so I can't imagine this case being tried within a year.

COOPER: And just finally, do you know when you will start to see the evidence that the prosecution has?

O'MARA: I talked to the prosecutors who were involved in the case, Miss Corey and her assistant and we're already beginning the process of getting me that discovery. Under the rules I don't really deserve it or get it until 15 days after the arraignment but we're not going to wait that long to move forward on the case. The state will work with me on that.

Mr. O'Mara, appreciate your time. Thank you.

O'MARA: Sure thing. Thanks.


COOPER: Well, last night Trayvon Martin's older brother broke his silence and talked about the lost that he is feeling. Tonight, he talks to Sunny Hostin about the brother he knew whether he was capable of attacking George Zimmerman. That's next.


COOPER: Last night on the program we spoke with Trayvon Martin's mom and the first time, his older brother, Jahvaris. He is a soft- spoken young man. He's going through a lot and that much is clear. He has a lot to say softly and quietly about what his younger brother meant to him. What kind of person he was and whether he was capable of doing what George Zimmerman claims.

Story now from legal analyst, Sunny Hostin.


SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST (voice-over): To Jahvaris Fulton, Trayvon Martin was the little brother who shared his room growing up. A little brother that loved to make jokes, was good at sports and wanted to follow his older brother to college.

JAHVARIS FULTON, TRAYVON MARTIN'S BROTHER: He was smart. He was in, you know, honors' classes. You know, he wanted to go off to college like I did. And I think it was my sophomore year, he came up with me on his spring break and, you know, he had a good time. I showed him around. Showed him the campus. You know, so, he was set on going to school. HOSTIN: One of Jahvaris Fulton's last happy memories of his brother is a horseback riding trip they took together in February to celebrate their mother's birthday. It was Trayvon's first time on a horse.

FULTON: His horse had like you know, some problems and it was -- it wanted to be a bully to everybody else's horse.

HOSTIN: How did he handle that?

FULTON: He handled it. He was the first one to learn how to, like, control them. You know, they tell you little instructions how to make them turn left and right. He, like the first five minutes, you know, it was doing whatever he wanted.

HOSTIN: Just eight days after this trip, Trayvon Martin was shot and killed.

Tell me what about when you first heard about what happened to Trayvon?

FULTON: I looked at my phone and I saw I had some missed calls, one of them was my mother. So I, you know, I gave her a call. I could tell that something wasn't right. And she - she told me that the Tray passed away. And, you know, I just paused because I didn't believe it, and I didn't understand it either.

HOSTIN: Jahvaris says he didn't understand it because the story that developed about that night didn't sound like the brother he knew.

When you found out what happened, how did you feel?

FULTON: Confused. Everything I heard was in Zimmerman's perspective. And it didn't sound like my brother at all. You know, my brother, attacked him and did all this stuff. It doesn't sound like him at all. He wasn't confrontational or violent.

HOSTIN: Let's talk about that. Because George Zimmerman's brother has been giving a lot of interviews. And he says that Trayvon, your brother, attacked his brother from behind. You just said that didn't make sense to you, why is that?

FULTON: Based on from what I heard, you know, with the 911 tapes and everything and all the evidence, he tried to get away from the situation. He wasn't violent. So, for him to actually, you know, jump on someone, he doesn't even know, to me, that's not him.

HOSTIN: That's not the brother you know.

FULTON: Yes. He's smarter than that.

HOSTIN: Though he says he's relieved that George Zimmerman was arrested, he still wants changes to Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law.

FULTON: There shouldn't be any more Trayvon. Not tomorrow, not next week, not next month, not next year, you know. Someone shouldn't be able to murder someone and walk away.

HOSTIN: What do you want people to know about your brother?

FULTON: I would like them to remember him as a happy teenager. He was always smiling. I would like them to think of him that way. You know, as someone who's positive, happy, bright future ahead of him, and, you know, he's probably going to be someone.

Sunny Hostin, CNN. New York.


COOPER: All right. Find number of other stories tonight, Isha is here with the "360" Bulletin - Isha.

ISHA SESAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, the fragile cease-fire in Syria appears to be holding so far. The proponents of the Al-Assad regime put it to the test today taking to the streets in various protest. Still there was sporadic violence. Opposition groups report seven people were killed today.

Residents of a small town in Greenland, New Hampshire, are mourning the death of their police chief who was shot and killed last night in a day-long standoff and shoot out outside a home. Chief Michael Maloney was just days away from retirement.

The mayor of Newark, New Jersey jumped into action last night and rescued a neighbor from her burning home. Cory Booker suffered smoke inhalation and second degree burns on his right hand. His neighbor was hospitalized also, with second degree burns.

And a bit of a breather for those that haven't filed their taxes yes, two extra days. Tax day this year is next Tuesday, April 17th that's because April 15th falls on a Sunday and the 16th is a holiday in Washington, D.C. The law says tax day cannot fall on weekends or holidays.

COOPER: Isha, thanks.

Mitt Romney hunting votes today at the National Rifle Association's convention, but how do the speech stack up to his record on gun control. We're keeping them honest.


COOPER: Another "Keeping Them Honest" report tonight, guns and politics. No matter where you stand on guns and gun control it's an important issue in elections.

At the National Rifle Association Convention today, Mitt Romney gave his first big speech since becoming the presumptive Republican nominee. He painted himself as the NRA's best friend and President Obama as its enemy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This administration's attack on freedom extends even to rights explicitly guaranteed by the constitution. The right to bear arms is so plainly stated, is so unambiguous. The liberals have a hard time challenging it directly.

Instead, they've been employing every imaginable ruse and ploy to restrict it. We need a president that will enforce current laws and not create new ones that only serve to burden lawful gun owners. President Obama has not. I will.


COOPER: Well, "Keeping Them Honest", there's actually been very little gun-related legislation on the federal level in the last four years. And Romney's own record on gun control has put him at odds with the NRA in the past. While, running for governor of Massachusetts, he positioned himself as strong on gun control.


ROMNEY: We do have tough gun laws in Massachusetts. I support them. I won't chip away at them. I believe they help to protect us and provide for our safety, but I want our law-abiding citizens likewise to have the right to purchase and use a weapon for hunting and other purposes.


COOPER: That was Romney campaigning in 2002. His tough stance on gun laws helped getting him elected then. In 2004, he signed a law banning assault weapons in Massachusetts. Some in the NRA has long opposed.

At the bill signing, Governor Romney said, quote, "Deadly assault weapons have no place in Massachusetts. They are instruments of destruction with the sole purpose of hunting down and killing people.

While Governor Romney also substantially increased gun licensing fees. Just before leaving office though, he signed up for a lifetime membership to the NRA.

And as his first presidential run got under way he began courting the NRA while still trying to distance himself from some of its positions.


ROMNEY: And my position on guns is the same position I've had for a long, long time. And that position is -- I don't line up 100 percent with the NRA.

I don't see eye to eye with the NRA. I was also pleased to have the support of the NRA when I ran for governor. I sought it. I seek it now. I'd love to have their support. I believe in the right of Americans to bear arms.


COOPER: "Keeping Them Honest" though, the NRA didn't officially endorse a candidate when Romney was running for governor. In the 2007 primaries, Romney also began talking more about his love for hunting.

That January, he told the "Boston Globe," quote, "I have a gun of my own. I go hunting myself. I'm a member of the NRA. I believe firmly in the right to bear arms."

But Romney later had to admit that he didn't actually own any guns. The guns he used belonged to one of his sons. A few months later, campaigning in Indiana, he put his hunting skills in perspective.


ROMNEY: I'm not a big game hunter. I made it very clear. I've always been, if you will, a rodent and rabbit hunter. All right, small varmints if you will.

I began when I was 15 or so and have hunted those kinds of varmints since then more than two times. I also hunted quail in Georgia. So it's not really big-game hunting if you will, not deer and large animals.


COOPER: Again, we're not telling anybody what to think about guns or hunting, that's up to you to decide. Today, Mitt Romney is hunting for votes and he needs the NRA support.

Joining me now is CNN contributor and editor-in-chief of, Erick Erickson and also Democratic strategist and political contributor, Donna Brazile.

So Erick, last time around, Mitt Romney got a lot of grief for talking about his own experience with guns saying he hunted varmints, so called. He didn't make one personal reference at all in his speech. Is that a better approach for him, you think more authentic?

ERICK ERICKSON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, I think he probably wants to keep the personal out of it. Every time he's tried to relate anecdotes about himself and guns, it hasn't come off very well for him. So, yes, I mean, he has these issues.

Barack Obama has the national security issues from when he campaigned to close Guantanamo Bay and it's still opened. They are both going bob held accountable this time for past statements. That's what's going to make this campaign so fun for both Democrats and Republicans.

COOPER: Donna, though it was a speech to a gun group, Romney only mentioned guns one time. He mentioned President Obama's name at least 25 times. Is it safe to say Romney's team is basically on the offensive now? DONNA BRAZILE, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Absolutely not. Look, Mitt Romney is running as fast as he possibly can from his previous record. Not only on guns, but just about, you name the topic and I can show you clips as you just showed us.

Mitt Romney previous support for Planned Parenthood, no longer supports Planned Parenthood. Support for civil unions. No longer supports civil unions. The problem with Mitt Romney is that he is running for president and he wants to be all things to all people.

And President Obama in his re-election campaign will make it very clear to voters that when it comes to gun ownership, he supports the second amendment.

He will continue to enforce that law, that constitutional amendment, but as for Mitt Romney, let's just put it this way, we don't know where he'll stand next week on many of these issues.

COOPER: But Donna, despite Romney's claims, the irony is that President Obama hasn't exactly been as supportive on new gun control measures as some liberals would like him to be?

BRAZILE: Well, he's not out there misleading voters. Look, he is the president of the United States and the second amendment is enshrined in our constitution and he's taken the oath of office to support the second amendment.

He firmly supports the second amendment and this notion that Democrats, you know, we have Democrats that are responsible gun owners and support the second amendment.

And we have some Democrats, like myself, who believe that we need to make sure that guns are in the hands of responsible people and we need responsible common sense gun laws, but the president's been clear.

ERICKSON: One of the big problems is the president also seems to support the second amendment for Mexican drug owners and Mexican drug cartels and that can be a big issue in the campaign.

You know, the delightful thing for political consultants and strategists this time around is that the president has said as many things as Mitt Romney has on issues and then flipped.

Both sides can hold the other side accountable for the flipping and we can, I guess, ignore that the economy doesn't seem to be doing well and that jobs aren't coming back as quickly as they are.

And 75 percent of Americans seemed to be upset about the direction of the country which, I think by November, all these other flip-flopping and ancillary issues from Guantanamo Bay and warrantless wiretaps to Mitt Romney on guns are not going to be what matters.

What's going to matter is whether or not the president has actually come up with an economic plan and passed a budget after several thousand says to try to get something happening on the economy, which doesn't seem very likely.

BRAZILE: Erick, we welcome that debate because Mitt Romney's record, as governor of Massachusetts, his record at Bane Capital is also fair game.

And I'll tell you if ask the American people if they want to take what I call a bypass on this election and go back to the previous one where we talk about more tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans and not talk about job creation.

That's the debate that I think the Democrats are ready to have as well and it's a -- well, we have been talking about it. It's just that the Republicans won't come to the table because as you well know from that CNN debate, 10-1, ten spending cuts to $1 in tax revenue.

The Republicans said "no." But this is a debate that -- this is what the election is about. It's not about personalities. It's about what's your plan is for the future. If we talk plans I think President Obama will win re-election.

COOPER: Erick, what do you men about the Mexican drug cartel thing?

ERICKSON: Well, you know, the operation "Fast and Furious" there was a report today that --

COOPER: You're referring to "Fast and Furious?"

ERICKSON: Yes. I think that's going to be a problem for Barack Obama when it comes to guns. You know, Mitt Romney, I think he mentioned that someone in his speech today, but as more comes out, that's a question we've got to answer and there's a bigger national issue there.

What did the government do? Not Barack Obama per se, but what did the American government do running guns across the border to Mexico? I think there are a lot of Democrats and Republicans and independent who is still want answers in that investigation.

COOPER: Yes, we're looking into that on this show a lot. Erick Erickson, Donna Brazile, appreciate it. Both of you, thank you.

We've got a fascinating look at an experimental surgery to treat severe depression with electrodes actually implanted into the brain to get deep brain stimulation.

We're going to meet a woman who says the dread that she had her entire life started lifting right there on the operating table. Dr. Sanjay Gupta has the amazing story next.


COOPER: Tonight, a fascinating, but still experimental way to treat severe depression with electrodes surgically implanted in the brain run by a battery pack. Neurologists say they're not sure how or why it works, but one woman who struggled with major depression for decades says it saved her life and that after trying everything else including shock treatment, she now has the capacity to feel joy.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta has the story.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For as long as Edi Guyton can remember, she could not get the sad thoughts out of her head.

EDI GUYTON, SUFFERED CLINICAL DEPRESSION: My mother used to say to me, smile, lady, why don't you smile? I would give something like that, maybe, or just think, what is there to smile about?

GUPTA: At 19, the first of three suicide attempts.

GUYTON: For reasons that are inexplicable to me, even now, got up and started playing with a razor and --

GUPTA (on camera): You cut your wrists?


GUPTA: Did you cut both your wrists?


GUPTA (voice-over): Over the next 40 years, she tried counseling, psychiatric drugs and electro convulsive shock therapy, but nothing worked.

GUYTON: The despair I think is what the most powerful push towards (inaudible) because there feels like there's no hope.

GUPTA: But if you could look inside Edi Guyton's head today, this is what you'd see, two electrodes, the thickness of angel hair pasta powered by a battery pack under her collarbone.

GUYTON: I don't think about it, but I have electrodes in my brain.

GUPTA: It's an experimental use of deep brain stimulation.

(on camera): So what are we looking at here?

(voice-over): Pioneered by neurologist, Dr. Helen Mayver. The target is called area 25, a junction box for the brain circuits that control our moods.

(on camera): Here at Emory, where I'm on staff, my colleagues have been using deep brain stimulation for more than 15 years to treat movement disorders such as Parkinson disease. In that case, they're targeting the brain's motor system. But Dr. Mayver wanted to use DBS to target area 25 for patients with severe depression.

(voice-over): It was a procedure, just like this, done on Edi Guyton. In surgery, patients are lightly sedated as the neurosurgeon drills two holes. With an instrument to guide him, he then inserts the electrodes.


GUPTA: As a benchmark, the doctors ask Edi to rate her feelings on a scale of 1 to 10 starting with dread.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The sense of dread is getting worse? Rate it. OK.

GUPTA: Two minutes later, they turned on one of the four contacts.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How does it feel right now? Is it still high?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's the dread now?

GUYTON: Three.

GUPTA: A drop from eight to three. Doctors would soon get an even better result.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're going to make some changes.

GUPTA: Up until this time, Edi could not connect emotionally. Not even with her baby grand niece, Susan.

GUYTON: And somebody handed her to me and I held her, but I was going through the motions and I felt, really, nothing.

GUPTA (on camera): Nothing?

GUYTON: Nothing. Nothing.

GUPTA (voice-over): That changed in the operating room. When they tried contact number two.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just let me know if anything changes just give a shout.

GUYTON: I just almost smiled.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You just almost smiled? Describe that for us, would you please?

GUYTON: I haven't smiled before, like, in a long time or laughed. Right there in the middle of brain surgery, I felt feelings that I thought were gone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you say you almost smiled, does that strike you as funny or just spontaneous?

GUYTON: It was, well, actually, I was thinking of playing with Susan. I started thinking about little Susan and I thought, I was holding her with her face to me.

GUPTA (on camera): What was that like to think that a machine and electricity could transform your emotions like that?

GUYTON: It felt fantastic. I didn't care what was doing it. It just felt great.


COOPER: Sanjay joins me now. This is incredible. Do we know how this works?

GUPTA: We don't. It's one of those things in medicine where I'll tell you, some of the original research was trying to figure out is there a seed of depression in the brain?

That's a big first step to see some images, Anderson, where you'll find this area 25, the area that's it's called, that bright green spot that's where depression lives in the brain, but they didn't know what to do about that.

So that's why they decided to stimulate that area with the deep brain stimulation and I don't know if you can see it. I'll show you this quickly. It's basically, a power pack.

A battery pack that sits underneath someone's clavicle, Edi Guyton's clavicle, right here and in this little probe goes into the brain, on either side. That's what she has inside of her right now. This was done a few years ago, but you saw how well she's been doing.

ANDERSON: How often does it stimulate?

GUPTA: Well, that can be changed. You know, there are settings that you put on there. There's four different leads on there and you can program it to stimulate not only how often, but how much at these different leads and they play with that.

They say, we turned on lead two welcome not much response. Let's turn on lead one with higher electricity. So it's a little bit of trial and error once they get in there, but they find the right formula as they did in Edi's case.

COOPER: Is it always this successful and can anyone have this procedure done right now or is this all experimental?

GUPTA: Well, so I've been following the story along for some time. You know, they first started this in Toronto several years ago and now they've done about 37 patients total. You know, if you look at the data sort of across the board, about two-thirds of patients got better. Let me preface that by saying these patients, Anderson, were patients who had no other options. That's what qualified them to be in the trial.

Meds hadn't worked and even things like electroconvulsive therapy had limited benefits. I mean, they were really out of options so these were the worst of the worst patients.

Two-thirds of them got better. There were few that did not get better at all, but there were really no significant side effects. A couple of patients had wound infections, but they tried to figure out, is it safe and it appears to be.

COOPER: But at this point, it's still experimental?

GUPTA: Yes, right. So at this point, I think it's a few years before we get possible FDA approval for wider use of this sort of thing.

Right now, just 37 patients still in clinical trials, as you know, that can take a while. But look, that was pretty remarkable what you saw there and they're also looking at, you know, using deep brain stimulation for things like OCD and possibly anxiety.

These types of disorders that were sort of thought of as mood disorder or psychiatric disorders, possibly treated this way in the future.

COOPER: It's incredible. Sanjay, appreciate it. You can see some more on Sanjay's report "Battery Powered Brains," a new treatment for depression, Saturday and Sunday, 7:30 a.m. Eastern on Sanjay Gupta, M.D. Also don't miss Sanjay's full report on "CNN Presents" Sunday night at 8:00 and 11:00 Eastern.>

Coming up, the dangers of texting while walking and the most random example yet of why you shouldn't do it at all. The "Ridiculist" is next.


COOPER: Time now for the "Ridiculist." Tonight, we're adding the dangers of texting while walking. Let me tell you something about living here in the big apple as we call it, New York City. You walk everywhere and it's a challenge.

You have to navigate through the throngs of tourists who walk incredibly slowly. You have to cross the streets without getting hit by a taxi. You got to dodge random puddles of urine, canine and human.

And to add to that, now a days, 8 of 10 people aren't even looking where they're going, drifting to and fro without a care in the world just texting away.

But I think we finally have stumbled upon a solution to the texting while walking problem. The answer comes from a suburb of Los Angeles and it's brilliant in its simplicity, bears.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He came down that driveway, down Mayfield and now he's on Briggs and he looks like he's turning into another driveway. We'll maneuver around to see if he can get another shot of him. But he would definitely -- we got a resident there.


COOPER: I guarantee you that guy is going to think long and hard before texting while walking again. You know on account of the 400- pound bear on the loose factor. He's what he had to say, the guy, not the bear.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was texting my boss that I would be late for work, something is going on. I'm coming down the stairs and I see the bear coming up the stairs towards me. So I turned back and ran for my life.


COOPER: I can see now, texting the bear, only you can prevent sidewalk collisions. We should just spring him on the texters. That's the only way people are going to learn. They certainly haven't been deterred by videos of people texting and walking right into poles on Canadian television.

Nor have been they deterred by the cautionary tale of the woman we like to call "fountain lady." She's literally a walking PSA for the pitfalls of texting in motion. You've probably seen the video. It's all over the internet.

She's walking through a mall in Pennsylvania, texting and waking and texting, OMG, falls right into the fountain. The fountain lady was not hurt thankfully, but she got a lawyer and went on "Good Morning America" with a great message for us all.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do not text and walk. The fountain could have been empty. I could have been in the hospital. I could have walked into a bus, you know, hit by a car. It can happen anywhere.


COOPER: PS, the fountain wasn't empty. She didn't go to the hospital and there were no buses or cars driving through the mall that day.

But still listen, a valuable lesson, no doubt about it. So New Yorkers, please stop texting and just watch where you're going. If you can't do it out of respect for your fellow pedestrians, maybe if you use strategically placed bears will do the trick. That's it for us. We'll see you again one hour now at 10 p.m. another edition of 360. "PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT" starts now.