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Mad Cow Disease Confirmed in California; Tawdry Testimony in Edwards Trial; Syria's Deadly Deceit; Interview with John McCain

Aired April 24, 2012 - 20:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Erin, thanks very much.

Good evening, everyone. We begin tonight with breaking news, late breaking news, with three words that spell death in the '90s and have scared the daylights out of people ever since. Mad cow disease. For the first time in six years, authorities in the United States have a case of it on their hands. So for the first time in six years people want to know, is the food supply safe?

Senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen is here tonight with the very latest.

You just spoke to this company, Baker Commodities. It's a plant -- they have a plant in Hanford, California, where a cow that was randomly selected tested positive for mad cow disease. What -- what have you learned?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, here's what I learned, Anderson. The way that it works at this plant is they only have dead animals there. The carcasses are brought to this plant. And every so often they do these random testings. So they have hundreds of carcasses. They go and they choose, let's say, about 60, and one of them turns out to have mad cow disease.

And so what if they hadn't randomly found that animal? Well, that animal would have been rendered into something. It might have been soap or chemicals or something that you and I would never eat. Something that wouldn't harm us, but it might have been rendered into feed for livestock or poultry.

COOPER: And what does that mean? I mean how dangerous is that if it had been rendered into feed that livestock had eaten and then people ate the livestock?

COHEN: Right. Here's why it should not theoretically have been a problem. There are rules. You're not supposed to take the brains of cows and turn them into animal feed. You're not supposed to take certain things like parts of the spinal cord. And the reason for that is so that people won't get BSE. So you're not supposed to take these high risk parts of the body and turn them into feeds.

So theoretically, it wouldn't have caused a problem. But of course there always is that worry.

COOPER: So -- sorry, what is BSE stand for?

COHEN: BSE -- right. BSE stands for the actual real name for this disease.


COHEN: We call it mad cow disease but it's actually technically BSE.

COOPER: OK. So you can only get it through the brains and the spinal column of the animal?

COHEN: Yes, that's what they think. And that's why, for example, this animal that has BSE, it was a dairy cow. But experts say if you drink the milk, it doesn't matter. The milk is not infectious. Only the neurological parts of the animal are.

COOPER: And because this was randomly selected, it begs the question how many other cows could there be that actually had it that got through. I mean I remember these images of the outbreak of mad cow disease in Europe, those horrible pictures of the cows shaking. You saw first hand. You actually interviewed the first U.S. victim in 2006.

COHEN: Yes. And as hard as it is to watch these pictures of the animals, it was even harder to meet this woman. Her name was Charlene. At the time she didn't want her last name used. And she just laid there and moaned and moaned. It was so awful to see this, this young beautiful woman.

She lived in the United Kingdom until she was 13 years old and she was perfectly healthy. But then she moved to the U.S. at 13 and at 23 she started showing signs of this disease. That means that that disease had been lurking in her for at least 10 years before she got sick.

And Anderson, that's one of the scariest things here is that she didn't know she was sick. And that's pretty typical for about 10 years. Some people are sick even longer or infected even longer before they realize it.

COOPER: So back then did they not have the rules about not having the brain and the spinal column be in the food?

COHEN: Right. Because she was living in the UK like in the '80s and early '90s before a lot of these rules were enacted.

COOPER: OK. So basically, the bottom line for someone watching tonight is -- is what? I mean, I don't want to freak people out.

COHEN: Right. Exactly. So that woman you just saw and the two other victims in this country of mad cow disease, they did not contract the disease here. And I can't emphasize that enough. They did not contract the disease here. They ate meat in the UK or in Saudi Arabia. And that's how they got infected. There hasn't been a single person who's eaten the meat from the U.S. food supply and contracted the human version of mad cow disease.

And this one cow we're talking about in California, experts say that it does not pose a threat to the food supply. It never got into the food supply. It was never slaughtered and put into the food supply. And the milk, we are told, was not infectious.

COOPER: All right. Elizabeth Cohen, appreciate the update.

We got even more breaking news. Five Republican primaries tonight. The polls now closing in four of them. Mitt Romney expected to win all of five, not enough to clinch the nomination but he's certainly treating it that way. In less than an hour he's scheduled to all but launch his general election campaign in a speech titled "A Better America Begins Tonight."

Newt Gingrich may also have something to say within the hour. Will he be dropping out? We're going to be following that closely. First let's run for the races tonight in the Romney-Obama match-up with John King at the magic wall -- John.

JOHN KING, ANCHOR, JOHN KING, USA: Well, Anderson, the first thing you look for tonight is, is there a case of buyer's remorse among these Republicans. Look, we know Rick Santorum got out of the race, Newt Gingrich is thinking about getting out, Ron Paul is largely a movement candidate. But are Republicans happy or unhappy with their choice?

You watch these five states. One I would watch is Pennsylvania. Remember we're about to start getting results in here. This was Senator Santorum's home state. A lot of social conservatives especially in the middle part of the state. Do they turn out to vote against Governor Romney tonight? Senator Santorum is still on the ballot. Would they turn out to vote against him, a sign of a protest vote?

That's one place. Speaker Gingrich says he will reassess largely based on the results in Delaware. Governor Romney is expected to win big in New York, big in Connecticut, big in Rhode Island. Is there a protest vote in a more moderate state like Delaware? Christine O'Donnell, the Tea Party candidate, came out of this state in 2010.

So watch Pennsylvania and watch Delaware tonight to see if there is buyer's remorse and a protest vote.

Here's one other thing to watch. You mentioned, as we look forward here, this is where Governor Romney starts the night. He's at about 695. He needs to get to 1144 to clinch. So where will he be tonight? We assume, we project he will get about two-thirds of the delegates which will get him here, somewhere around 875, closing in on 900.

Anderson, still short of 1144 but this is why. Look at the gaps. Speaker Gingrich way behind him. Ron Paul way behind him. This big gap even though Romney can't mathematically clinch until late May at the earliest, it's this big that has him convinced tonight as the night in New Hampshire he can say, let's focus on the fall. COOPER: What does tonight tell us about the general election, if anything?

KING: It tells us we are on to an electoral battle ground and that the map will be different. This is the 2008 map. Obama states blue. McCain states red. Watch me quickly go through this. He's in New Hampshire tonight, Governor Romney. That's a swing state and a battleground.

Pennsylvania, swing and a battleground. Ohio will be. Indiana for now will be. Some say Michigan will be. Florida, Virginia, and North Carolina without a doubt. Iowa without a doubt. Colorado without a doubt. Maybe New Mexico. Maybe Arizona. The Democrats think they could get that. And Nevada.

So look at this. If you assume that President Obama starts around 206, I'll give him Nevada. Even with high unemployment, let's just say because of the Latino problems the Republicans have, you give him that. I say prove it when the Republicans say they can win Pennsylvania. I'll give that to the president for now. Michigan as well. The auto bailout works to his favor.

So you start with the president somewhere around 240. So this is the map for Mitt Romney. He has to win Florida, he has to win Ohio. Most believe Indiana will go back into the Republican fold.

So where was the president today? The president was in North Carolina today. Tomorrow he will be in Colorado and Iowa. Where is Mitt Romney tonight? He is in the state of New Hampshire. Watch the candidates. Where they go over the next several weeks will tell you exactly where they think the key battleground states that will decide this come late October and November.

COOPER: All right. John, thanks very much. I want to bring in our panel, Republican strategist, Ari Fleischer, Democratic strategist and Obama 2012 pollster, Cornell Belcher, and chief political analyst Gloria Borger.

Gloria, Romney's big speech tonight, it's all about the general election pivot. We've already been seeing that, though, from Romney this week, haven't we, this pivot?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, we have. We've been seeing it for a couple of weeks. He's been talking about women voters. He's been talking about younger voters. He's been talking to Hispanic voters. You know, this is somebody who understands that he's got problems with these interest groups. So -- or with these constituencies I should say.

So he does have to make this pivot. But on the other hand, he's also got those conservative Republicans that he's got to rally around him. And that's why he's going to be meeting with Rick Santorum. They're eyeing the date of May 4th. We don't expect an endorsement at that point, but they're going to have a real heart-to-heart conversation about how conservatives can get engaged in his campaign and become -- more enthusiastic about him, Anderson. So he's got to sort of work it both ways.

COOPER: Ari, Romney got a lot of flack a couple of weeks ago for his aide's Etch-A-Sketch comment. It's kind of a valid point, though. I mean the general election message is always different than the primary season message. How do you think they're handling this transition, this pivot so far?

ARI FLEISCHER, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Yes. I'm so glad to hear you put it that way because I thought it was very unfair the media, the way they piled on the Romney aide who said that. It's a fact and the press thought he was talking about ideologically change his positions which isn't the case.

But we all know this is how politics work. You go from being a primary candidate to a general election candidate, and your universe around you changes, your campaign structure changes. A number of people who work for you change. And the way the press focuses on you changes as well.

What's happening with Mitt Romney right now is Republicans are rallying for Mitt Romney and I think you're going to see that sign -- that trend continue. Partly it's because Republicans fall in line, partly it's because Republicans really want to defeat President Obama. And now the rest is really up to Mitt Romney. Can he win independents? Can he make an appeal to narrow the gender gap? Increase his vote -- his support among Hispanics?

And most importantly, and I think you'll see this in his speech tonight, really focus on the economy and make that the singular issue of this race this fall. If he does that, he has all the ingredients necessary to really make this a close race that he could win.

COOPER: Cornell, let's talk about the Democrats. I mean it seems like half the time Democrats are calling Mitt Romney a flip- flop, the other half the time they're calling him an extreme conservative. Do they have to pick one message, I mean can he be a guy who has no core beliefs and a hardcore conservative at the same time?


CORNELL BELCHER, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, I think he is a guy that apparently has no core beliefs. However, at the same time, he does have to answer for his policy positions. I mean he has -- he has taken a set of policies and sort of embraced the policy positions that absolutely put him at odds. You know we talk about Hispanic voters. I mean he has embraced -- you know, he's been against the Dream Act which the vast majority of the Hispanic voters want.

You know, he's embraced Arizona law which most Hispanics thinks -- you think of as racial profiling. And when it comes to -- when it comes to women's issues, he's embraced this -- the Blunt amendment, you know, taking power away from women and giving it to -- put in the hands of their -- of their employers. So his problem really isn't about flip-flopping. His problem is where -- his policy positions that he -- that he has embraced and that he supports. That puts him at odds with a lot of the constituency around the country.

COOPER: Ari, do you think that's his problem?

FLEISCHER: No, not at all. And in fact, a "Washington Post" survey came out about 10 days ago that showed that about 32 percent of the country thought that Mitt Romney was too conservative and about 40 percent of the country thinks Barack Obama is too liberal.

Most voters actually thought they were close, both of them, to being about right. So I see no evidence. That's a Democratic talking point where they want to paint Mitt Romney as some kind of crazy conservative. But you know it's good to be a conservative in America. The American people are 2-1 conservative over liberal. We are is central right, central rights country.

BORGER: Anderson, I think what I'm seeing Mitt Romney do is really take a turn to the economy and to portray himself as the person who's the most competent to manage this economy. And what I was just reading in some of the excerpts of the speech that he's going to give tonight sounds an awful lot like Ronald Reagan to me when Ronald Reagan asked the famous question, are you better off today than you were four years ago?

And Mitt Romney seems to now be starting to ask that refrain. Are you better off today than you were when Barack Obama took office? And I think we're going to hear a lot of that during the campaign.

COOPER: Cornell, he's also opening up tonight with an appeal to women.

BELCHER: Look, it's not Democratic talking points. Romney's policy positions. He supports the Ryan budget. He's against the Dream Act. That's not -- that's not a Democratic talking point. That's his positions. He's going to have to answer for those positions.

And to the question of whether or not you're better off today than you were four years ago. Look, we've had 24, 25 straight months of job growth after the Republican policies sort of put us in a nosedive. We've now created more jobs in the last two years than we've created in the previous eight.

And look at where creating jobs again. We're creating manufacturing jobs. We got to go back to the '90s to sort of see this sort of job creation in manufacturing that we're creating right now. This country is absolutely better off today than it -- than it was when Barack Obama took office. It's better off today because of the policies that he's put in place that has turned this country around.

COOPER: Ari, I know you disagree, but we got to go for time. But we're going to talk more to you guys as the evening develops.

Gloria, Cornell Belcher, Ari Fleischer, much more of our primary night coverage throughout the night on CNN.

Here's on 360, obviously, including as we mentioned a possible statement from Newt Gingrich. We'll also be live at the top of the 10:00 hour to bring you the latest development. We're on Facebook, Google Plus, you can follow me on Twitter right now @Andersoncooper. Let me know what you think about tonight.

Up next, remember clean cut John Edwards? Then came the affair, then the child. Now the trial and today's testimony that's pretty shocking stuff. Some pretty surprising things being said on the stand today. What John Edwards allegedly said about his mistress and the chances her child was in fact his.

We'll be right back.


COOPER: In "Crime & Punishment," day two of John Edwards' criminal trial and what a day it was. Accusation after accusation from former Edwards aide. Now the prosecution star witness, a guy named Andrew Young.

Mr. Young started the day testifying about a phone call in 2007 from Edwards' mistress at the time, Rielle Hunter. According to Young, quote, "She was crying, she was distraught, and she needed to speak with Mr. Edwards immediately. I said, somebody better be pregnant or dying. She said nobody is dying."

Young then described Edwards' response after learning that Hunter was pregnant, quoting him as saying, quote, "She's a crazy slut and there's a 1-in-3 chance it was his child." Around the same time, the public saw obviously a very different John Edwards supporting his wife Elizabeth as she announced her diagnosis of incurable breast cancer. Young testified today that Elizabeth Edwards knew of her husband's cheating when they gave this news conference.

Less than a year later, February 2008, Hunter gave birth to a baby girl but that July Edwards was still denying the affair and the alleged cover-up.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Has you or your -- anyone affiliated with your presidential campaign provided any financial help to Rielle Hunter or Andrew Young?

JOHN EDWARDS, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have no idea what you're asking about. I've responded to -- consistently to these tabloid allegations by saying I don't respond to these lies. And you know that, (INAUDIBLE), and you covered me. And I stand by that.


COOPER: It's fascinating to watch him now, realize he knew he wasn't telling the truth. About a month later in an interview with ABC News' Bob Woodruff, Edwards finally admitted he had cheated on his wife for more than 30 years but he still lied. He still -- he flat out denied this. Listen.


BOB WOODRUFF, ABC NEWS: I need to ask about probably the most controversial allegation, which is that a report has been published that the baby of Miss Hunter is your baby. True?

EDWARDS: Not true. Not true. Published at a supermarket tabloid. But no, that's -- that is absolutely not true.

WOODRUFF: Have you taken a paternity test?

EDWARDS: I have not. I would welcome participating in a paternity test. I'd be happy to participate in one. I know this is not possible that this child would be mine because of the timing of events so I know it's not possible.


COOPER: Well, it was possible. It wasn't until January 2010 that Edwards finally admitted he was the baby's father. But in an interview with Oprah Winfrey, Hunter said Edwards knew all along.


OPRAH WINFREY, HOST, THE OPRAH WINFREY SHOW: You were pregnant carrying this man's child. You knew it was his child because you weren't seeing anyone else?


WINFREY: Wasn't -- and you knew it was his child, and he is making --

HUNTER: We both knew it was his child.

WINFREY: And you -- he knew it was his child?

HUNTER: Yes, he did.


COOPER: Having an affair is certainly is not illegal. That's not why Edwards could face up to 30 years in prison. Prosecutors say he broke federal law by accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars during his second presidential run, money he used to cover up his affair with Hunter.

Today in court, Andrew Young described how the payments worked. One of Edwards' wealthy benefactors, the heiress, Rachel Bunny Mellon, wrote checks to her interior designer who then signed the checks over to Young's wife who deposited them into her account under her maiden name.

And Young testified that money was dolled out to Hunter from that account. It's certainly complicated. The jury is going to have to decide if it was illegal. Edwards says he knew nothing about any payments made to Hunter.

I spoke earlier to Joe Johns who's in the courtroom today and CNN's senior analyst Jeffrey Toobin.


COOPER: I mean startling testimony today. You have Andrew Young saying that Edwards called Rielle Hunter, who he had borne a child with, a crazy slut, and also lying to his wife about the affair. The fact that he -- I mean he comes off incredibly unsympathetically to say the least. That's not, though, what he's charged with. I mean he's not charged with being a jerk.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: You see that's what makes this trial so perplexing. Which is so much of it is about what a lousy guy John Edwards is. And so much of it is about what a weird and perhaps lousy guy Andrew Young is, the star witness. But how much of that relates to the actual charges against him is not clear.

Whether the jury can sort out being a bad guy and being a criminal is an open question. I mean maybe all this bad stuff will just convince the jury, look, we just don't like this guy and we're going to convict him.

COOPER: Because, I mean, a lot of it boils down to what was in John Edwards' head. Was he intending for these wealthy donors to be giving him campaign money that he was then funneling to Rielle Hunter, or was he getting these campaign donors to just cover Rielle Hunter's expenses?

TOOBIN: Well -- and was he doing -- and were they doing that because he was a friend of theirs in trouble with his wife or were they doing it because he was a presidential candidate?

COOPER: Joe, you were in the courtroom today as Young testified about Edwards' alleged behavior during this affair with Rielle Hunter. The elaborate process of funneling money from Bunny Mellon and others to her. What was Edwards' reaction during Young's testimony, listening to the things he was saying?

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: I got to tell you. The time I've spent in that courtroom, Anderson, I sat right behind him, I really haven't seen much reaction from John Edwards at all. He is a trained trial lawyer and he acts like one sitting at that defense table even though, of course, he's the client. He doesn't show any emotion unless he does it for effect. So he's been pretty stone cold silent except for an occasional smile at an appropriate time. And that's just what you'd expect from a guy who spent so much time at the defense table.

COOPER: Joe, I mean, Young testified that Edwards basically went shopping for a wealthy donor to support Rielle Hunter and that he allegedly asked Bunny Mellon because she was the one who offered to pay for those $400 hair cuts.

JOHNS: Right. That's the way it started. The $400 hair cuts became a big dust-up in the news media. And Bunny Mellon essentially reached out and said, you know what, I'll pay for the $400 hair cuts. You don't need to worry about that anymore. Andrew Young and John Edwards looked at this and they say, well, maybe she's the person we ought to go to.

And interestingly enough in the courtroom, the testimony was that Bunny Mellon essentially was not told the purpose for which this was going to be used. She was actually told Andrew Young said that it would be a non-campaign function, but nonetheless he also suggested it really was a campaign function in order to keep John Edwards as a viable candidate.

TOOBIN: You know, if I could just add one bizarre thing from the testimony today. You just sort of -- Edwards is at once sort of this very savvy player and you just think delusional. Because at one point he says to Young, according to Young's testimony, well, you know, I can't know about this because I still think I'm going to be sworn in as attorney general. He thinks he's still going to be attorney general while all this stuff is swirling around?

COOPER: Right.

TOOBIN: How --

COOPER: And that actually is in the -- in the book "Game Change" as well that he still believed that like he might have a role at the convention, that he might still be able to speak, and he might be up for the attorney general spot. But it all -- Young is also testifying, Jeff, that repeatedly, a number of times, he was concerned about the legality of this and actually asked Edwards about it and Edwards assured him that he'd looked into it and this was all legal.

TOOBIN: Which it's not clear how that cuts. Because it's not clear whether Edwards will acknowledge that he ever did look into it because at one point and certainly in his public statements Edwards had said it never even occurred to me that this might be illegal. But at the same time Edwards is quoted by Young saying, I've looked into it and it's legal.

It's just one -- one of the many contractions between Edwards' versions of the stories and Young's. And when cross-examinations start tomorrow we'll start to see which one the jury will believe.

COOPER: Jeff Toobin, Joe Johns, thanks. We'll be watching.

Let me know what you think on Twitter. If you think John Edwards is guilty of these federal violations.

A lot more happening tonight. The U.N. as much as admitting that it's being played in Syria, that the killing stops when U.N. observers go in and then starts up again when they live. I'm going to talk to Senator John McCain who wants more U.S. actions to stop the slaughter. That's next.

Also waiting for word tonight from Newt Gingrich. The buzz could be reassessing his campaign even calling it quits. He's expected to speak any minute. We'll bring it to you, whatever he says, live.


COOPER: "Keeping Them Honest" now. A new reason why night after night we keep bringing you images of the killing in Syria. The reason is simple but sad. It's -- the fact is it's frankly pathetic. Our nightly video shot at great risk by ordinary Syrians may be the best way to monitor the cease-fire that Bashar al-Assad agreed to and is breaking day after day.

Today a spokesman for the U.N. professionals, the paltry few U.N. professionals, now on the ground in Syria, these observers as much as admitted that his men are just not up to the job. He says there are credible reports -- and take note of that phrase, credible reports -- that when observers like these guys in the blue body armor go into places like Homs and Hama, the killing stops.

Then when they leave, he says the killing starts up again. And the people who approach the monitors like you see here in this video to talk to them, to try to explain to them the horrors that they have -- that have been inflicted upon them, those people after the monitors leave are then harassed or even killed by Syrian security forces.

In addition, today the same spokesman said there are not enough monitors to really monitor anything. With all due respect, you should have been watching 360 when we highlighted just that inconvenient truth last week. Only 11 observers were on the ground right now. There might one day be 300 in a country of 23 million people. Three hundred.

It's not like Assad is even concealing his contempt for their mission. We just got this video taken on Sunday in Hama. In it you're going to see people telling the observers to look on a nearby rooftop. Look at the snipers, look at the snipers, they say. The camera pans up. You see what appears to be a sniper's nest and troops on a rooftop. Now if those are snipers, they'll give blatant violation right in front of you and observers.

Remember that phrase, credible reports? But why did that spokesman only say credible reports? His own men saw the troops, saw they weren't supposed to be there. Knew what troops on rooftops had been doing for more than a year in Syria. Yet this U.N. spokesman could not simply say what was right in front of his own team's face.

"Keeping Them Honest," that is why we show you these pictures night after night. They show what diplomats can't say and the Assad regime can only lie about. These are tanks and troops on the streets of Duma, the ones in the pickup trucks firing as they go. Assad promised to pull them out.

This is a peaceful protest today in Alepo fired on apparently by security forces, another broken promise. The city of Homs, it is still under attack, another broken promise. The shelling there stopping just long enough for monitors to come and go then starting up again once they've left. The opposition says at least 35 people were killed today. Hundreds have been killed now since Assad agreed to this so-called cease-fire. All across Syria, mass graves like this one over the weekend in Hama are said to be filling up.

An opposition member in Hama today told us what Kofi Annan's U.N. mission is really doing. He says it's buying Assad more time, quite literally, to kill. He sees in his words, quote, "An unprecedented deployment of security forces to the north of his city."

This, he said, is Annan's gift. U.S. Senator and former presidential candidate, John McCain agrees. He wants America to do more to stop the killing. I spoke to him earlier today.


COOPER: Senator, at the Holocaust Memorial yesterday, President Obama said that we need to do everything we can to prevent atrocities, to stop the slaughter of innocent people by blood thirsty regimes. That all sounds good. But is it just rhetoric? Are we doing that in Syria?

SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Well, Anderson, I think it's really kind of paradoxical that the president said quote, "remembrance without resolve is a hollow gesture. Awareness without action changes nothing."

But at the same time, he only talked about financial and economic sanctions against a person who as we know is slaughtering its citizens and the latest of course being killing people who talked to the U.N. monitors.

It's really sad to see the rhetoric of this administration not only not matched but making almost a joke out of the fact we are really literally doing nothing.

COOPER: You said before you believe the U.N. has been played in Syria. As you pointed out, they have, you know, a handful of monitors on the ground. But it seems like the Assad regime is playing a game of cat and mouse with these monitors.

First of all, the monitors aren't going out on patrol on Fridays when most of the demonstrations take place. And when they do go on patrol, the regime stops attacking, but as soon as they leave, they attack anybody or try to attack and kill people who met with U.N. monitors. Are they doing anything in Syria, the U.N.?

MCCAIN: Not that I know of. They have now called for additional monitors. But I mean, how atrocious is it that the government allows these monitors in, people have the courage to come out and express their grievances and then they slaughter people.

That is such a slap in the face, a repudiation of what this is supposed to be all about. Again, if it wasn't so serious, it would be a bad joke. COOPER: I spoke to a Syrian activist on this program about the U.N. sending 30 observers to Syria. I just want to play you some of what he said.


ZAIDOUN, SYRIAN ACTIVIST (via telephone): Thirty? This is stupid. We need 30 observers for one neighborhood only. The international community should send 3,000 observers and, believe me, the regime will fall the same day. The regime will be toppled the same day because we will be rushing to the street for demonstrations. Don't tell me they couldn't send more than 30 observers.


COOPER: Do you have any hope the U.N. mission can do anything in Syria?

MCCAIN: I do not. And worse than that, Anderson, it gives the people who might be helping more pause while the assurances are given by the U.N. that we ought to give this a chance, et cetera.

It would be fine to give it a chance if they weren't still killing people. In other words, after observers left, they even go into homes and schools and pull people out and kill them.

So it's really worse than doing nothing because it is giving sort of an excuse for the international community not to step up. Artillery, tanks, helicopters as you have shown many times on CNN are still in action.

And the Syrian people are dying for a cause and to think that somehow that -- by the way, sanctions on luxury goods will have an effect and I'm not making that up.

We have to act in a fashion of leadership of the United States of America with other countries and the first thing we need to do is get these people some weapons so they can defend themselves.

COOPER: The White House has created something now called the Atrocities Presentation Board. The president signed a new executive order authorizing sanctions against people commit human rights abuses through internet monitoring, cell phone tracking. Is that a positive step for you?

MCCAIN: Sure. I think it's a real positive step and I think in many areas of the world it could probably have some effect. But right now we're in a full fledge civil war, an unfair fight where Russian arms are flowing in and on the ground against people who are literally defenseless.

Anderson, you and I know that the price of a bullet is $4 a bullet on the black market. I have not heard that that price has gone down, have you?

COOPER: There's a lot of people, though, Senator, who may be sympathetic to the plight of Syrians being killed, but worry about arming opposition, igniting an all out civil war in that country and a war that spreads throughout the region.

MCCAIN: Well, I heard that same argument about Tunisia and Libya as well in Bosnia and Kosovo. But also I think we should point out the longer it drags out, the more likely it is that foreign fighters, radical Islamists come into the fight.

Really these people rose up peacefully. That's a direct repudiation of al Qaeda who believes in acts of terror. So the fundamentals of this movement have nothing to do with radical Islamic individuals.

It has everything to do with people's desire to get out from under a cruel regime. Part of the Arab spring I might add.

COOPER: Senator McCain, appreciate your time. Thank you.

MCCAIN: Thank you, Anderson.


COOPER: Let us know what you think over on Twitter right now @andersocooper. What shall we do in Syria? What can the U.S. do or the international community do?

We're following other stories tonight. Isha's here with the "360 News and Business Bulletin" -- Isha.

ISHA SESAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, the Secret Service reports that two more members have resigned. That means that of the 12 members implicated in the prostitution scandal in Colombia, a total of nine have left the agency. All are being forced out.

A former engineer for BP has been arrested and charged in connection with the Gulf oil spill disaster. The Justice Department identifies him as Kurt Nicks. He's accused of intentionally destroying evidence requested by investigators. Eleven workers were killed in the disaster.

At a hearing today, Army Private Bradley Manning requested and was granted a change in defense attorneys. Manning is accused of leaking hundreds of thousands of pages of classified military and State Department documents while serving in Iraq. Many of which ended up on Wikileaks.

And Anderson, two state troopers in New Jersey have been suspended without pay. "The New Star Legend" reports they're accused of providing an unauthorized high speed escort for a caravan of luxury sports cars being driven to Atlantic City last month.

There are reports that speeds exceeded 100 miles per hour. Other drivers on the highway complained to authorities. All I can say is really?

COOPER: Yes. Why would they have done that? It's kind of odd. Strange.

SESAY: Your guess is as good as mine.

COOPER: Yes, Isha, thank you.

Up next, more primary night politics. We're expected to hear shortly from Mitt Romney. We'll talk you there live. We're also waiting for word from Newt Gingrich. Some are speculating he may be ready to quit the GOP race. We'll see if he says tonight. Details ahead.


COOPER: Breaking news this primary night. Five states, CNN has already projected Mitt Romney victories in Connecticut, Delaware, and Rhode Island. He's expected to win them all, possibly speak shortly.

Jim Acosta is at Romney headquarters in Manchester, New Hampshire and also with us, GOP strategist, Ari Fleischer and chief political analyst, Gloria Borger. Jim, what is the scene where you are in?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's a very loud scene here, Anderson. They've been playing some music here behind me. One of those presumptive nominee standby hit signs. It gives you a sense of the mood here at Romney headquarters. He's going to deliver a speech here tonight that is basically going to sound like a victory speech even though he has not gotten the number of delegates needed to clinch this nomination.

He is basically there tonight. This is what he's going to be talking about, but I have to tell you. This speech that Romney will be delivering in just a few moments from now called "a better America begins tonight."

There are some pretty sharp elbows being thrown at the president tonight. At one point, he will say during his speech according to excerpts released from the campaign, because President Obama has failed he will run a campaign of diversions, distractions, and distortions.

So Mitt Romney is going to throw out some heavy artillery at the president tonight. It's basically what we've heard from Mitt Romney throughout this campaign. But tonight it's the pivot to the general election. So maybe it means just a bit more.

COOPER: We'll obviously be bring that to our viewers. Gloria, we're also watching to see if Newt Gingrich is going to drop out tonight. Do you think he will?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I'm not sure if he's actually going to say I am leaving the campaign this evening. But it's very clear and we see Callista Gingrich there. It's very clear the Gingrich campaign understands that there's nowhere to go for them right now.

You know, I remember it wasn't that long ago, Anderson, we were talking about if Gingrich were to leave the race where would his support go. And at this point, I don't think he has any support to go anywhere.

And so I think right now it's pretty much pro forma. And if he doesn't get out tonight, he will get out some point soon. He wanted to take a stand in the state of Delaware.

We've just declared that Delaware has gone to Romney. Gingrich spent an awful lot of time in Delaware trying to win that state. So I think he's at the end of the road.

COOPER: You see Callista Gingrich there on the right speaking on live to introduce her husband. See if Governor Romney is about to be introduced there on the left there.

We'll obviously bring those comments to you live. Ari, do you -- I mean, it's only a matter of time before Gingrich drops out. Do you think he would do it tonight or do you think he might wait?

ARI FLEISCHER, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: First of all, it doesn't matter. Newt has been out of this for months. I think actually, Newt, if you go back to Iowa when Newt delivered that attack concession speech to know where he's getting out much too late.

He has not made a good case for his name after this primary is over. And that's a shame because Newt's done a lot for the Republican Party, but graciousness is part of politics. You just have to know when your time has come to walk off the stage.

He's stretching it out to no avail. I think he's only hurting himself in doing that. I think if I was him on a political level, don't do it tonight. Do it when you have the window all to yourself. You do it two days, three days later.

COOPER: Let's listen in to Newt Gingrich.

NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you. Well, let me thank all of you for coming out tonight. Particularly, I want to thank John and Amy who made this all possible. Thank you to the two of you for organizing this on such short notice.

I think all of us are here tonight because we agree with Callista's statement this is the most important election of our lifetime. I think if you had a doubt about that, it should have been dispelled by President Obama's performance today at Chapel Hill.

Where he once again failed to take responsibility for anything three and a half years after becoming president so he was talking to students who are going to have a hard time finding a job because he has created the worst economic recovery since the great depression.

He was talking to students who have a hard time going to the interview because he has presided over the highest gasoline prices of any president in American history.

He was talking to students who are going to spend the rest of their lifetime paying taxes to pay interest on the debt that he has run up. And the closest thing he could come to a solution was to promise to continue subsidizing student loans by borrowing other money.

So that in effect he's going to have the Chinese loan the United States the money so the students in the short run don't pay the full price of the student loan so the rest of their lives they can pay taxes as workers on the subsidized money.

This is exactly what someone's saying to you. I'm going to let you have a credit card and by the way you're not going to pay interest on it except that I'm going to take the interest out of your pocket every month. You know, and I was struck today trying to think through how to describe --

COOPER: All right, we're going to continue to monitor what Newt Gingrich is saying to see if in fact he does announce that he is dropping out tonight. We're continuing to wait for Mitt Romney to be speaking.

We anticipate that to happen very shortly. Gloria Borger, in terms now of the pivot to the general election, what do you see happening now in just -- I mean, immediately this week, what kind of a difference are we going to be seeing?

BORGER: Well, I mean, you even saw the pivot with Newt Gingrich just talking about President Obama. It's very clear to me from reading the excerpts of Mitt Romney's speech and from listening to him on the stump.

That he believes this election is going to be about or what he wants it to be about is President Obama's economic record. He keeps asking the question in these excerpts that come back to Ronald Reagan. Are you better off today than you were four years ago?

And his answer to that is, of course, you're not because unemployment is still high, for example, in this country. People aren't buying houses. And you know, he's going to recite is litany of problems we face.

And when he talks to interest groups that he's worried about, like women, he says OK. Women are most of the unemployed who have lost their jobs in this country. Talks to Hispanics, they're 20 percent of the unemployed population in this country.

So every time he speaks to a group he wants to appeal to, he's going to talk about it in terms of his economic message -- Anderson.

COOPER: And now we see Ann Romney and Governor Romney on the stage. Likely that Ann Romney will probably introduce Governor Romney. That's what she has been doing of late.

Obviously, women a key constituency they are trying to reach out to. Ann Romney has been playing an increasingly visible role in the campaign in the last few weeks and months really on the campaign trail. Let's listen in. ANN ROMNEY, WIFE OF MITT ROMNEY: It's so good to be here. New Hampshire, it's good to be here. It was just a little over a year ago that Mitt and I sat down in our living room and talked about this campaign. I'll admit I was hesitant.

Four years ago, we'd been through a tough primary and I told him I would never do this again. I was pretty emphatic and I was pretty certain. But Mitt reminded me that I said that after every pregnancy.

You know, I have five sons, so that didn't work out so well. But I knew our country was in real trouble and I knew we need real leadership to turn things around. So I asked Mitt one simple question. Can you fix it? He said yes, and that's all I need to know.

I said -- I said if you can fix it then we need to do this. And we launched this campaign a few months later. I have been on the trail with Mitt for a very long time now nearly a year. We've been to 35 states.

And after speeches like the one he'll give tonight, Mitt goes down the line to shake hands and answer questions. And I usually go to the other side of the rope line where I get to talk with people. They tell me about the tough times they're going through.

They share their worries and their fears. Many of them are concerned about the deficit and the economy. Almost all of them are worried about their job or their children's student loans. And then the most amazing thing happens.

People tell me they're praying for us and I've got to tell you, that is so touching to me. Despite all of their worries and their concerns and their troubles, they are thinking of us.

In moments like those, I realize that there is no limit to the good and the goodness of the heart of America. And there is no question that we can get this country back on track.

So tonight to all the people who went out in this primary and voted for us who got up every morning and volunteered for us, I want to thank you so much.

I know you believe as Mitt and I do that this election will be the most important vote of our lives. And because of you, a better America begins tonight.

And now I'd like to introduce the man that I know can lead our party to victory and our nation back to prosperity. Ladies and gentlemen, my husband, Mitt Romney.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for that welcome and thank you Pennsylvania, Delaware, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New York. Thank you.

And tonight I can also say thank you, America, because after 43 primaries and caucuses, many long days, and more than a few long nights, I can say with confidence and gratitude that you have given me a great honor and solemn responsibility.

And together we are going to win on November 6th. We launched this campaign not far from here beautiful day in June on a farm in New Hampshire. It's been an extraordinary journey.

You know, Americans have always been eternal optimists. But over the last three and a half years, we've seen hopes and dreams diminished by false promises and weak leadership. Everywhere I go, Americans are tired of being tired. And many of those who are fortunate enough to have a job are working harder for less.

For every single mom who feels heartbroken when she has to explain to her kids that she needs to take a second job and won't be home as often. For grandparents who can't afford the gas to visit the grandchildren anymore.

For the mom and dad who thought they'd never be on food stamps. For the small business owner desperately cutting back just to keep the doors open one more month.

To all of the thousands of good and decent Americans I've met who want nothing more than having a better chance, a fighting chance. To all of you, I have a simple message. Hold on a little longer. A better America begins tonight.

Tonight is the start of a new campaign to unite every American who knows in their heart that we can do better. The last few years have been the best that Barack Obama can do, but it's not the best America can do.

Tonight is the beginning of the end of the disappointments of the Obama years. And it's the start of a new and better chapter that we will write together. This has already been a long campaign, but many Americans are just now beginning to focus on the choice before the country.

In the days ahead, I'll look forward to spending time with many of you personally. I want to hear what's on your mind. Hear about your concerns. And I want to learn about your families.

I want to know what you think we can do to make this country better and what you expect from your next president. And I'll probably tell you a little bit about myself. I'll start by talking about my wife, Ann, of course.

And I'll probably bore you with stories of my sons and my grand kids. I'll tell you how much I love the country. This extraordinary land where someone like my dad who grew up poor, never graduated from college, could pursue his dreams and work his way to running a great car company.

Only in America could a man like my dad become governor of a state where he once sold paint from the trunk of his car. I say to you -- when I see you, I think I'll tell you that you may have heard I was successful in business. Yes. That rumor's true. But you might not have heard that I became successful by helping start a business that grew from ten people to hundreds of people. You might not have heard that our business helped build other businesses like Staples and the Sports Authority, and a new learning center called horizons.

And I'll tell you not every business made it. There were good days and bad days, but every day was a lesson. And after 25 years, I know how to lead us out of this Obama economy and into a job-creating recovery.

Four years ago, Barack Obama dazzled us in front of columns with sweeping promises of hope and change. But after we came down to earth, after all the celebration and the parades, what do we have to show for three and a half years of President Obama?

Is it easier to make ends meet? Is it easier to sell your home or buy a new one? Have you saved what you need for retirement? Are you making more at your job? Do you have a better chance to get a better job? Are you paying less at the pump?

You know, if the answer were yes to those questions, then President Obama would be running for re-election based on his record and rightly so. But because he has failed, he will run a campaign of diversions and distractions and distortion distortions.

That campaign may have worked at another place and at a different time, but not here and not now. It's still about the economy and we're not stupid.

People are hurting in America. And we know that something is wrong, terribly wrong, with the direction of the country. We know that this election is about the kind of America we will live in and the kind of America we're going to leave to future generations.

Now when it comes to the character of America, President Obama and I have very different visions. Government is at the center of his vision. It dispenses the benefits, borrows what it can't take, consumes a greater and greater share of the economy. You know, with Obamacare fully installed, government would have control of almost half of the economy. And we would have effectively ceased to be a free enterprise society.

This president is putting us on a path where our lives will be ruled by bureaucrats and boards, commissions and czars. He's asking us to accept that Washington knows best and could provide all. We already see where that path leads. It erodes freedom. It deadens the entrepreneurial spirit. And it hurts the very people it's supposed to help.

Those who promise to spread the wealth around only ever succeed in spreading poverty around.


ROMNEY: Other nations have chosen that path. It leads to chronic high unemployment. Crushing debt and stagnant wages.

I have a very different vision for America and for our future. It's an America driven by freedom where free people pursuing happiness in their own unique ways create free enterprises that employ more and more Americans. And because there are so many enterprises that are succeeding, the competition for hard-working, educated, skilled employees is intense.

So wages and salaries rise. I see an America with a growing middle class, with rising standards of living. I see children even more successful than their parents. Some successful even beyond their wildest dreams. And others congratulating them for their achievement, not attacking them for it.


ROMNEY: This America is fundamentally fair. We will stop the unfairness of urban children being denied access to the good schools of their choice.


ROMNEY: We will stop the unfairness of politicians giving taxpayer money to their friends' businesses.


ROMNEY: We will stop the unfairness of requiring union workers to contribute to politicians not of their choosing. We will stop the unfairness of government workers getting better pay and benefits than the very taxpayers they serve.


ROMNEY: And we will stop the unfairness of one generation passing larger and larger debts on to the next.


ROMNEY: In the America I see, character and choices matter. And education, hard work, and living within our means are valued and rewarded. And poverty will be defeated. Not with a government check, but with respect and achievement that's taught by parents, learned in school, and practiced in the work place.


ROMNEY: This is the America that was won for us by the nation's founders and earned for us by the greatest generation. It's the America that has produced the most innovative, most productive, and most powerful economy in the world.

And as I look around at the millions of Americans without work, the graduates who can't get a job, the soldiers who return home to an unemployment line, it breaks my heart. This does not have to be. It's the result of failed leadership and a faulty vision. We will restore the promise of America only if we restore the principles of freedom and opportunity that made this nation the greatest nation on earth.


ROMNEY: Today the hill before us is a little steep. But we've always been a nation of big steppers. Many Americans have given up on this president, but they haven't ever thought of giving up. Not on themselves, not on each other, and certainly not on America.


ROMNEY: In the days ahead, join me, join me in the next step towards that destination of November 6th when across America we can give a sigh of relief and know that the promise of America has been kept. The dreamers can dream a little bigger. The help wanted signs can be dusted off. And we can start again. And this time we'll get it right.


ROMNEY: We will stop the days of apologizing for success at home and never again apologize for America abroad.


ROMNEY: There was a time not so long ago when each of us could walk a little taller and stand a little straighter because we had a gift that no one else in the world shared. We were Americans. That meant something different to each of us. But it meant something special to all of us. We knew without question and so did the world. Those days are coming back. That's our destiny.


ROMNEY: You see, we believe in America. We believe in ourselves. Our greatest days are ahead. We are, after all, Americans.

God bless this great nation. God bless the United States of America. And God bless you good people. Thank you so much. Thank you.