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Republican Vows to Stay in Senate Race; GOP Approves Anti- Abortion Platform; Who Is Ann Romney?

Aired August 21, 2012 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone. It's 10:00 here on the East Coast.

And we begin tonight "Keeping Them Honest" with Missouri Congressman Todd Akin. Now, tonight, we're tracing the source of the medically absurd notion that landed him in hot water, that it's rare for rape victims, or as he said, victims of legitimate rape, to become pregnant.

We've got an OB-GYN on the program tonight to state a fact that we couldn't even imagine needed saying, but apparently does. Sex causes pregnancy, whether it's consensual sex or rape.

As for Congressman Akin, he's not bowing out of the race against Missouri Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill, despite growing calls from fellow Republicans, including late today Mitt Romney.

Before going any further, though, here's what he said that started this controversy when asked if he thought abortion should be legal in cases of rape.


REP. TODD AKIN (R), SENATE CANDIDATE: From what I understand from doctors, that's really rare. If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.

But let's assume that maybe didn't work or something. I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist, and not attacking the child.


COOPER: Well, Congressman Akin yesterday went on some radio shows and said that he used the -- quote -- "wrong word in the wrong way." Then earlier today, took it a step further and put out a campaign ad, again apologizing for his choice of words but not mentioning the bogus science. Then late today he appeared on Sean Hannity's radio program and finally addressed the notion that defied biological explanation.


SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS: What did you mean when you said that the female body has ways to try and shut that whole thing down? And you said if that doesn't work. What did you mean by that?

AKIN: Well, my only point in that was I had heard from medical reports that rape is such a traumatic type of thing that, that it -- that there's a reaction. But I -- you know, that's wrong and that was -- that's the second thing I have apologized for.

HANNITY: I understand that, but what did you mean by the female body has a way to try and shut that whole thing down? I didn't understand it.

AKIN: Well, I had heard one time a medical report that said that it's -- it's hard to get -- it's harder for somebody to get pregnant under those conditions. I don't believe that's true now. I, in fact, have checked the facts and that's wrong. I was just wrong in that statement.


COOPER: Congressman Akin did not elaborate on the medical report he says he heard.

But "Keeping Them Honest" as we pointed out last night the idea that rape rarely leads to pregnancy has been spread for years by anti- abortion politicians. It's not just guy Akin. When in 1995 Republican Representative Henry Aldridge said this in front of the House Appropriations Committee.

And I quote, he said, "The facts show that people who are raped, who are truly raped, the juices don't flow, the body functions don't work, and they don't get pregnant. Medical authorities agree that this is a rarity, if ever."

So we spent today tracking down the genesis of this wild but apparently accepted in some corners notion that a woman's body can shut down a pregnancy in the case of rape. And it looked like it lands at the feet of this guy, John C. Willke, a doctor, a longtime abortion activist. He runs the Life Issues Institute. He wrote a book in 1985 titled "Abortion Questions and Answers." It's since been reissued and re-titled, "Why Can't We Love Them Both: Questions and Answers about Abortion."

In it, the doctor writes about women and hormones -- quote -- "Hormone production is controlled by a part of the brain which is easily influenced by emotions. There's no greater emotional trauma that can be experienced by a woman than an assault rape. This can radically upset her -- this can radically upset her possibility of ovulation, fertilization, implantation and even nurturing of a pregnancy."

Now setting aside the notion of some rapes not being an assault, let's look at the science behind his statement. Suffice it to say, the science is lacking. According to a 1996 study in the "American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology," the rate of rape-related pregnancy is about 5 percent, which is the same as it is for consensual, unprotected sex. This idea is popular because obviously it allows anti-abortion lawmakers to say that exceptions allowing abortions in cases of rape really shouldn't be an issue because if a woman was pregnant, chances are she wasn't really raped or perhaps not even the victim of incest.

Iowa Congressman Steve King, who supports Congressman Akin, was asked yesterday about a bill both men support, which would ban federal funding of abortion for Medicaid recipients in the cases of statutory rape or incest.


REP. STEVE KING (R), IOWA: I just haven't heard of that being a circumstance. It's been brought to me in any personal way and I would be open to hearing discussion about that subject matter.


COOPER: Now that statement has gotten a lot of play today in a lot of blogs. The question was, was he saying, as some have taken it to mean, that incestuous intercourse or intercourse between an older man and underage girl doesn't lead to pregnancy? We wanted to ask the congressman, we invited him on the program. He said no. That he had an important event to go to. We offered to send a satellite truck to the event for his convenience, he then declined.

But late today, he did put out a statement. Here's the relevant part of that statement -- quote -- "I never said nor do I believe a woman, including minors, cannot get pregnant from rape, statutory rape or incest. Suggesting otherwise is ridiculous, shameful, disgusting, and nothing but an attempt to falsely define who I am. I have never heard of and categorically reject the so-called medical theory that launched this controversy."

So, one other late note. The deadline passed at 5: 00 Central Time today for Todd Akin to drop out of the race without too many complications. Quitting now gets tougher, more expensive for his campaign. We'll talk more in a moment about the politics of all that with Paul Begala and Kellyanne Conway.

But, first, though, I just want to bring in a doctor, Dr. David Grimes. He's an OB-GYN, an epidemiologist, a teacher of medicine, he's published more than 350 peer-reviewed articles, 50 textbook chapters and 10 books.

So, Dr. Grimes, I can't believe we're even sort of having this conversation. But you've been treating rape victims including rape victims who became pregnant for decades. When you heard what Congressman Akin said, what went through your mind?

DR. DAVID GRIMES, OB-GYN: I was shocked, as were most Americans, I think.

The report you spoke of about "The American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology" estimated some 30,000 American women become pregnant every year by rape. And for clinicians like we see rape victims in our office on a regular basis.

It's a common occurrence for me to have a pregnant 13-year-old along with her mother, a social worker, a policeman, sorting through this tragedy. It does happen with regularity.

COOPER: I have interviewed women who have been the victim of incest who have gotten pregnant and even borne children. I have interviewed women who have been gang-raped and borne children.

As I mentioned, a lot of people point to this doctor, John Willke, I think you would say his name, as a key source of this offensive claim which is -- which he's standing by -- I just want to read you something he told "The New York Times" just yesterday about women who have been raped. He said, and I quote, "This is a traumatic thing. She's, shall we say, she's uptight. She is frightened, tight and so on. And sperm, if deposited in her vagina, are less likely to be able to fertilize. The tubes are spastic."

Does that make any sense to you? Is that true in all...


GRIMES: Utter hogwash. Utter hogwash. Suggests that uptight women can't get pregnant.

COOPER: Because the flip side of that is then kind of suggesting that women who do get pregnant are somehow either haven't been raped or somehow culpable in those rapes I assume.

GRIMES: Well, you're right, and that's part of the broad theme here of misogyny, that women are responsible for being raped. They brought it on themselves through their provocative behavior or clothing. And on top of that, should they be raped and they get pregnant, that too is their fault. It's a double whammy. It's cruel beyond words.

COOPER: You've also had interaction with Dr. Willke. I mean, what is -- is he just -- I mean, is politics driving him? I mean, is his religious beliefs or political beliefs driving his perception of science?

GRIMES: Dr. Willke is an 87-year-old general practitioner who was once president of National Right to Life. He has no scientific credentials.

COOPER: So for you, you're saying he's just -- he's taking a political stand or a -- just a stand based on his beliefs, he's not actually looking at science?

GRIMES: Correct. In medicine, opinions count only to the extent that they're borne out or supported by evidence. No evidence at all supports Dr. Willke's bizarre theories.

COOPER: Dr. Grimes, I appreciate you expertise. Thanks for being on.

GRIMES: My pleasure.

COOPER: Let's turn -- let's turn now to the political fallout in all this. Kellyanne Conway who did polling for Congressman Akin during the primary but is not working for him now. Also Paul Begala who is currently advising the top pro-Obama super PAC.

So, Paul, what do you make of this? I mean, how likely do you think it is that Akin is going to drop out?

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: I don't know. I mean, the Republican establishment is bringing all of the weight it can bear to drive him out of the race. One would hope it's because of these really offensive views and statements. But I have to say pragmatically, I think it's because they're scared they're going to lose the election, because if they really care about these issues, they would be working to change their party platform which really kind of reflects Congressman Akin's views a lot more than it reflects mainstream Americans.

COOPER: Do you think this does damage to the GOP writ large? I mean, because as you said, they are distancing themselves but largely based on language. There are plenty of folks who agree with the stand of not -- of supporting abortion in the case of rape.

BEGALA: Right. And one of them is now about to be nominated for the vice presidency. Congressman Ryan, as a colleague of Congressman Akin, they co-sponsored, along with about 200 other Republicans, co- sponsored legislation that would have limited the Hyde Amendment, you know, outlaws federal funding for abortion under the Medicaid program. It's been on the books for decades.

It's always had an exception for rape, incest and the threat to a woman's life. What Congressman Ryan, Congressman Akin and others wanted to do was restrict that rape exception down to what they, I think in a sick way, call forcible rape, to try to -- I don't know what their motive is. I don't want to say. But anyway it would greatly restrict the access to abortion for rape victims. And that's not just...


COOPER: Critics of that, Paul, were saying that if you use that term, "forcible rape," it somehow implies that perhaps incest or statutory rape is somehow not -- or rape of a -- if somebody with Down syndrome is somehow -- because it may be, you know, technically not a forcible rape in terms of physical violence but that it would limit it at that.

BEGALA: That's why I think most Americans are going to find what Congressman Ryan and Congressman Akin were doing pretty offensive. I have to say, even Republicans changed that language before they passed the bill. So even among conservative Republicans who are pro-life, Paul Ryan, Congressman Akin are really out there.

But the party has moved to that sort of extreme. And this is the problem. These positions have been held by the Republicans, by many Republicans, for a long time. But sometimes it takes one of these events that pops and it shines a light on it. And I think this is -- this is one of those events. I think this is transcending politics. Moving in a pop culture. I think people who don't follow politics are really appalled that one of the major political parties seems to believe that some women who are raped should not have access to abortion rights.

COOPER: Kellyanne, Akin has run shoestring campaigns before. I mean, right now it seems like there's only two groups who want Akin to stay in this race. Akin himself, I guess his family, and some supporters, and his Democratic opponent, Claire McCaskill. That pretty much sends a loud and clear message to him. Do you think he's going to get that message?

KELLYANNE CONWAY, REPUBLICAN POLLSTER: Well, the deadline passed today. He basically has until September 25 to plead his case to a judge and take himself off the ballot. But I will just repeat what Congressman Akin said today in the press where I read it that he's going to stay in the race.

On this broader point of the GOP platform, that's been in the platform, that's been in the plank of the platform for as long as I can remember. And what Paul is saying that, you know, it doesn't really reflect what most Americans think. We all know that polling has been showing many people in this country want restrictions on abortion. I think we need to talk about the extremes on the left as well.

They got some pressure. The "Washington Post" reported on August 10 that there are Democrats who are going to the convention in Charlotte who want their plank expanded. They feel that it's too draconian. It doesn't allow for partial birth abortion bans. It doesn't ban sex selection. You've got all these little baby girls being killed just because they're girls in this country...

COOPER: Wait, wait.

CONWAY: I mean, Paul, under what...

COOPER: Excuse me, where is that happening?

CONWAY: Excuse me?

COOPER: Where, as you say, we have all these baby girls being killed in this country because -- on sex selections, on abortions? Where...


COOPER: Where is the evidence on that?

CONWAY: The Guttmacher Institute, which is the research arm of Planned Parenthood, has data on sex selective abortions. And actually Congress -- the House just passed a bill to ban that. I'm not sure it ever went to the Senate. And I'm sure President Obama would veto it if it was put on his desk... COOPER: But statistically, there's not really much evidence that that is actually occurring in the United States. Amongst some immigrant groups in small numbers it may be occurring but in no statistical measure is it significant.

CONWAY: Well, we should look at Guttmacher Institute's statistics to really illuminate us on that. But it does -- it does occur because there's so much science now people can -- they can know the gender of their baby and they make their choices accordingly. COOPER: It occurs overseas a lot but again I don't think the evidence is here in the United States. I will double-check it. But I just read earlier.

CONWAY: Thank you. But I must say that, if we're going to have a debate on abortion we have to think of the Gallup poll last year that showed 44 percent of Americans think that abortions should be available -- quote -- "in just a couple of circumstances." And so people have been moving, you know, science and medicine, if not religion and morality, have compelled some people.

And I just want to tell you that the pro-life plank and the Republican platform exist because pro-lifers always focus on life. They believe in a culture of life from birth to -- from conception to natural death. And they're focused on the right of the baby to be born regardless of the circumstances.

I'm just trying to explain the platform to you. We actually have a presidential nominee, again, like we did last time, who has a position on abortion that does not match its party's plank.

COOPER: Right. Paul, I want to read you something. A tweet that actually Todd Akin just sent out. I'm reading it off my BlackBerry. He says, I apologize but the liberal media is trying to make me drop out. Please stand with me tonight by signing my petition. Then he gives an address.

Do you think that's going to fly, the idea of this is liberal media drumbeat trying to get him out of the race?

BEGALA: You know, he's got to say something. And it is not for me whether to say he should stay in or get out. Although he should get out. It is not the liberal media doing it. This is the conservative Republican establishment. Again, not because of his views but because he spoke it aloud. Because he spoke it in such an offensive way. Because he seems to embrace this really nutty theory.

But the reality is, the Republican platform -- CNN is reporting this today includes language calling for no federal funding of embryonic stem cell research. Now even Nancy Reagan, one of the icons of the Republican Party, strongly supports federal funding of embryonic stem cell research.

It does not -- the Republican platform does not include any exceptions for women who are the victim of rape or incest.

COOPER: But Paul, let me... BEGALA: This a very extreme position.

COOPER: Let me push back, though.

I mean, critics will say party platforms are often pretty extreme whether it's on the left or the right in order to kind of mobilize the base or satisfy the base and rarely does it actually translate into what the candidate thinks.

I want to -- you to respond to that and Kellyanne as well. We've got to take a quick break. You're going to come back after this break. We're going to talk more about how this is playing in the presidential race. How it factors into each side's efforts to get a coherent message out.

Let us know what you think. Follow me on Twitter right now @AndersonCooper. Let's tweet about this -- more 360 right after this.


COOPER: Hey. Welcome back.

Here's something you might have missed in the uproar over Congressman Todd Akin's claim about rape and pregnancy. As Paul Begala mentioned a moment ago, the Republican Party today finalized language in its 2012 campaign platform calling for a constitutional ban on abortion with no exceptions for rape and incest.

Now, later, the platform committee adopted a pair of amendments. One stating that being pro-life is consistent with being pro-woman. The other supporting a ban on RU-486, a similar pregnancy-ending -- and similar, excuse me, I should say, pregnancy-ending drugs.

Now according to National Public Radio, an Alabama delegate objected, saying that in light of the Akin controversy it sends the wrong signal to women. And given the gender gap Mitt Romney appears to be facing in this election, not to mention another three days of his own message getting upstaged by something else, it raises some big questions.

John King is here at the magic wall to break it down for us -- John.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, if you look back in time, remember, George W. Bush won twice, Ronald Reagan won, George H.W. Bush won with the conservative Republican platform. So Republicans would say the platform does not determine who wins the election.

However, Mitt Romney does have that gender gap you just mentioned. So want to do a little bit of history here. Could the Todd Akin problem potentially be a Mitt Romney problem? Yes, if they don't put it to rest. And yes, if it begins to affect him among moderate suburban women.

Let me show you exactly what I mean. If you want to go back in time, this is the state of Colorado. These are national exit polls from the last two presidential elections. This is nationally. You see, John McCain actually won among suburban women. He won by four points nationwide among suburban women. We all know he lost the election big time.

Look at 2004, George W. Bush won by 12 points. That's the big difference. Republicans need to win big in the suburbs, which mean they also need to get suburban women or else. Let me show you an example of what I mean. Here's 2008. In the state of Colorado, the president and John McCain actually wins by 11 points, John McCain does, but he lose the state of Colorado. George W. Bush wins it four years earlier because he has a 16-point advantage among just suburban women.

Come back to the map here and I will show you just what I'm talking about. If you pull out the map, this again is -- here's 2008. Watch the Denver suburbs. The closest in suburbs to urban areas tend to be the more moderate, the more swing suburbs.

See the blue for 2008? Go back to 2004. Let the map work for me here. And you see the red right in here in the Denver suburbs. George W. Bush does better in the suburbs. George W. Bush wins the election and becomes president of the United States.

Let's come east to Virginia. This is a state where the demographics are changing. Again, let's do the math first. We are in 2004 right now. See the red? See the red in the Richmond suburbs? In the Washington, D.C. suburbs? That's 2004. George W. Bush does very well. He wins.

We come fast forward to 2008. Blue. Barack Obama wins the Washington suburbs. Wins down in the Richmond suburbs. And changes this. Now again, he only broke even with John McCain in Virginia among suburban women statewide. But closer into the city areas, he does better. Look at the gap for George W. Bush, 17 points over John Kerry among suburban women.

Anderson, close presidential elections in the United States are decided in the suburbs. One more example for you. We'll show you the state of Ohio. This could be the decisive state this year. This is where President Obama was today. Again, a tie between Obama and McCain in 2008. We know what happened. Obama carried the state 52- 47.

If you go back in time, George Bush won by five points. That's among just suburban women. Again with that same conservative platform, just to show you what it looks like, the biggest place here in a very close presidential election in Ohio when it comes down to suburbs, Lake County, just near Cleveland. See it blue? That's 2008. Let's go back in time to get to 2004 and it is red.

So close elections are won in the suburbs and they can be won based on how well Republicans do among suburban women.

COOPER: Interesting stuff, John King. Appreciate it. Thanks.

I want to bring back the political panel, Kellyanne Conway and Paul Begala.

Before the break, Kellyanne, you mentioned the Guttmacher Institute information on sex, selective abortion in the United States. Here's what they actually say in a May 30 press release titled "Sex Selective Abortion Bans: A Disingenuous New Strategy to Limit Women's Access to Abortion."

The study acknowledges the practice does go on overseas as we mentioned and perhaps in certain Asian-American communities in the United States in small numbers. But -- quote -- "In the United States, meanwhile, there is limited data indicating that sex-selective abortion may be occurring in some Asian communities. Although the U.S. sex ratio at 1. 05 males for every female is squarely within biologically normal parameters."

So I just wanted to put that out there.

Kellyanne, in terms of what John King was talking about, do you believe that this can have an impact on Mitt Romney? Even though Mitt Romney's position is not the Akin position. Mitt Romney over the last several years says that he does support abortion in the -- in the cases of rape and incest.

CONWAY: Well, John King is absolutely correct that the election will be won or lost in the suburbs particularly among women and married women. But I disagree with anybody who says it's going to be won or lost on the issue of abortion, abortion and contraception. That would be a new one. And in everybody's polling, including -- including CNN's polling, these issues are nowhere in the top five or top three.

And voters want people to talk about the things that they are talking about around the kitchen tables and the -- and the cappuccino counters which are jobs, the economy, really, the everyday affordability of daily life.

But there is a management issue here. This has been a powder keg for the Republican Party the last couple of days. And how it is managed is going to be very important. But I think that for Obama to win this election he has to go back to who he was in 2008 when he ran promising no tax for the middle -- no tax on 95 percent of Americans, hope and change.

I think for Romney to win, he has to go back to 2010, where women favored Republicans over Democrats. The congressional level for the first time ever. Based almost solely on an economic agenda.

COOPER: Paul, to Kellyanne's point, when you look at polling, women's reproductive issues have barely been an asterisk on the list of top voter priorities this year. Is there a risk for Democrats to keep focusing on them in this? Or do you think this -- it does have an impact on Romney or could?

BEGALA: I think it could have a tremendous impact. For a couple of reasons. First, this may jump that up a bit. But also for a lot of women -- Kellyanne just mentioned married women. It's true. There's actually a significant marriage gap. Single women tend to be much more Democratic. Married women tend to be much more Republican.

Both, single and married women, in the main, support abortion rights. Single women somewhat more. This is sort of issue for the kinds of constituencies President Obama needs to motivates, especially young people. That could be very powerful.

We are now probably two generations into young women growing up without any worries about their abortion rights being restricted. And now you have a light shown on a long-standing Republicans position that they didn't know about, these young women and young men for that matter, that even in cases of rape, even in cases of incest, the Republican Party's proclaiming itself to be the party that will outlaw a woman's right to choose. That's pretty remarkable.

COOPER: We got to leave it there. Paul Begala, Kellyanne Conway, appreciate both of you being on.

If you want to see the full Guttmacher Institute study, we're going to put it out on our Web site right now. Go to, just for accuracy's sake.

As we've said, reaching out to women is a key role that Ann Romney is playing in the Republican campaign. We're going to profile the woman who could become the first lady of the United States next.


COOPER: One of the deadliest days in Syria -- at least 230 people killed, according to an opposition group.

What the deputy prime minister is saying must be left off the table in peace talks -- when we continue.


COOPER: As we mentioned, The Republican National Convention opens Monday in Tampa. We'll, of course, be there all week. Mitt Romney's wife, Ann, will play a prominent role in convincing women to support the GOP ticket. Or try to. So up close tonight, we're going to look at Ann Romney. It's part of our series this week where we're taking an inside look at the candidate, his family, the issues and the ticket, as we count down to the convention.

Now, last night we examined the role that the Mormon faith plays in Romney's life. He's the first Mormon to head a major party's presidential ticket. And on the campaign trail, Romney's wife of more than four decades is usually at his side. Randi Kaye now on the woman who could become the next first lady of the United States.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the Romney household, Ann Romney has a host of titles. Trusted adviser. The Mitt stabilizer. Mother and grandmother. But she's also the great protector of all things Romney. RON SCOTT, BIOGRAPHY: The last person on earth you'd want to cross would be Ann Romney. If you go after one of her kids or after her husband, she's going to be there.

KAYE: Ron Scott has known Mitt Romney since 1985 and just wrote a book about him. He says Ann is no pushover.

SCOTT: She got into a -- into a tiff with one of her teenage boys, and he was being a smart mouth. And she was trying to get away to go to the cape for the weekend, and he was going back and forth with her. And finally, she got in the car and slammed the door and said, "See you later" and took off and left him standing there in the driveway.

KAYE: Scott says Ann even stood up to her mother, who voiced concern years ago when Ann and Mitt started having so many children.

SCOTT: Her mom said, "Gee, you're overpopulating the earth."

And Ann at one point said, "Mom, if you want to see your grandsons on a regular basis, you need to knock this stuff off."

KAYE: Ann Romney humanizes her husband, calling him her most disobedient child. She often shares secrets about his love of chocolate milk and his, quote, "obsession" with peanut butter. And of course, tales of romance.

ANN ROMNEY, WIFE OF MITT ROMNEY: We're high-school sweethearts, and we still are sweethearts, which is awfully nice. We have five wonderful sons. We have 16 grandchildren.

KAYE: Like Mitt, Ann grew up wealthy in Michigan. Her father manufactured auto parts. She and Mitt fell in love in high school. Mitt proposed when Ann was just 15. They married while in college at Brigham Young University, a Mormon school in Utah. Ann had converted to Mormonism in high school.

Their love affair has been part of the campaign rhetoric, dating back to this ad from Mitt's 2002 Senate run, simply titled "Ann."

A. ROMNEY: Our first real date...

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The night of the senior prom.

A. ROMNEY: ... Mitt pulls up to pick me up in some goofy-looking car.

M. ROMNEY: It was an AMC Marlin.

A. ROMNEY: He was a little embarrassed about it.

M. ROMNEY: It was kind of awful.

A. ROMNEY: He was very romantic.

KAYE: Mitt admits without Ann he's a bit lost.

M. ROMNEY: If I'm away from Ann for longer than a week or so, I just -- I get off course. She has to bring me back and moderate me down a bit.

KAYE (on camera): Still, Ann may not be perfect. In 1994, during Mitt's Senate campaign, she told "The Boston Globe" money was so tight in college they considered selling stock from their portfolio. Critics painted her as out of touch.

SCOTT: Everybody that read that gasped.

KAYE (voice-over): Ann's greatest challenge, though, had nothing to do with politics. In 1998, she learned she had multiple sclerosis.

A. ROMNEY: It was a devastating thing in my life. It was very tough. I went from being a very active, involved and hands-on mom to hardly being able to take care of myself.

KAYE: To feel better, she turned to holistic therapies and horseback riding. But her battle didn't end there. In 2008, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Whether it's cancer or the campaign trail, Ann Romney is a fighter. She's beaten two life-threatening diseases. But she knows there are many more battles ahead.

Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.


COOPER: Well, there's a lot more we're following tonight. Susan Hendricks is here with a "350 Bulletin" -- Susan.

SUSAN HENDRICKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, a deadly day in Syria. At least 230 people were killed throughout the country, according to an opposition group. Meanwhile, Syria's deputy prime minister tells Russia's state-run news agency that President Bashar al Assad's resignation cannot be a condition for peace talks.

A 70-year-old pro tennis referee in New York for the upcoming U.S. Open was arrested and charged with killing this man, her 80-year- old husband, in Los Angeles. Investigators say the victim was beaten in April with a coffee mug.

Diana Nyad has ended her bid to swim from Cuba to the Florida Keys. She was pulled through the water about halfway through the endurance swim with severe jellyfish stings on her face. And she got off course due to a storm. This was Diana Nyad's fourth attempt to swim the 103 miles.

And Michael J. Fox is returning to TV. He will star in a new sitcom on NBC; yet to be named, though. The plot will be similar to his own life. Anderson, it will focus on a father and husband living with Parkinson's Disease. Looking forward to that.

COOPER: Yes. Looking forward to that. He's been on "The Good Wife" recently. HENDRICKS: Yes. Love that show. All right, Susan. Thanks.

Rosie O'Donnell reveals that she had a heart attack but initially ignored the symptoms. It's not unusual, though. We're going to talk about women and heart disease. A lot of information that people just do not know. More women die of heart disease than men. The symptoms for women are very different than they are for men. We'll talk to Dr. Sanjay Gupta ahead.


COOPER: Well, the streets of Chicago are deadly this summer. Up next, a behind-the-scenes look at the men and women who are trying to stop the rise in violence.


COOPER: "Crime & Punishment" tonight. Rising violence on the streets of Chicago, specifically a street jump -- a big jump in the murder rate this year. A steep jump. Take a look at some key statistics so far for 2012. Remember, there are still four months left in the year.

There were 346 homicides, a jump of 31 percent over the same period last year. Thirty-eight homicides just in this current month alone. And most frightening of all, 34 children under the age of 18 have been killed so far this year. Thirty-four.

"The Chicago Tribune" reports the murders this month are happening in certain neighborhoods on the South -- the city's South and West Sides. Ted Rowlands got a first-hand look at the battle against the violence.

We should point out, we've gone to Chicago a number of times over the last several years to report on this violence. If this violence was happening in other parts of the United States, many critics say it would get -- be getting a lot more attention.

Ted Rowlands went along with some Chicago police officers as they patrolled the streets on a recent Friday night.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a couple places I want to check out.

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's a Friday night on the streets of Chicago in the Inglewood neighborhood. Joe Patterson and Leo Schmitz have been cops here for 26 years.

LEO SCHMITZ, CHICAGO POLICE OFFICER: You go on these blocks, what you do is you scan everything. When they see that you're a policeman, if they're doing something wrong or got a gun, they start moving away or running.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have shots fired.

ROWLANDS: As we ride along, there's near constant reports of shots fired over the radio.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A person with a gun...

ROWLANDS: A call comes in that gets their attention.

SCHMITZ: Sixty-fourth and Loomis, shots fired. That's one block away from the police station.

ROWLANDS: It's also near a park where, in the morning, there's a community event planned.

SCHMITZ: Someone with a gun there. We know we got people over there setting up.

ROWLANDS: When we arrive, there's no sign of the person with the gun, and there's no time to linger. We leave as quickly as we arrive, because there's another call just a few blocks away.

SCHMITZ: Man with a gun on 6444 Bishop.

ROWLANDS: Several officers are there when we arrive. There's a man in custody and this gun, which was found in the house.

SCHMITZ: They're still working so -- but that's the name of the game. That's how we -- we stop the next shooting.

ROWLANDS: This year, the homicide rate in Chicago is up about 30 percent, which is not what first-year Police Superintendent Gary McCarthy envisioned would happen when he took the job.

GARY MCCARTHY, CHICAGO POLICE SUPERINTENDENT: It's playing out not as well as I anticipated. We expected to make much greater gains by this point.

ROWLANDS: Chicago's overall crime rate is actually down 10 percent from last year. And like other cities, the murder problem here is concentrated in a few specific areas.

MCCARTHY: The entire city suffers when violence happens. This idea of "not in my backyard" is not OK. We have to make the entire city safe.

ROWLANDS: McCarthy's plan, which he's confident will work, includes holding gang members in custody, taking back specific street corners where drugs are sold, and using gang information to predict and stop retribution killings. But he says he needs more help from the community.

MCCARTHY: Law enforcement is not going to solve the gang problem in Chicago. Law enforcement is not going to solve the gun problem in Chicago. Law enforcement is not going to fix the educational system or the poverty rate or any of those other things.

SCHMITZ: Yes, you're close to home now. It's starting to get late, boys.

ROWLANDS: One thing we noticed on our ride-along was the amount of children on the streets after dark.

JOE PATTERSON, CHICAGO POLICE OFFICER: You guys are about to go in the house, right?

ROWLANDS: Thirty-four kids have been killed in the violence this year alone, including 7-year-old Heaven Sutton, who was shot in the head while selling candy in her front yard.

SCHMITZ: Juveniles are the ones getting shot. We got to get them home. That's where the parents can help us a lot.

PATTERSON: Quite frankly, we need the parents to step up a little bit more and take ownership, sincerely, of their children and raise them a little bit better.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thirteen-year-old...

SCHMITZ: Stay here.

ROWLANDS: At one point, they pull over two men driving a car with illegal tailpipes.

SCHMITZ: You got a license?

ROWLANDS: They approach with caution and get them out. They end up being clean. No gang tattoos. Just two young men out trying to have a good time. The men may feel like they're being harassed. Leo and Joe say it's a part of the job.

SCHMITZ: Overall, we do a good job as a police department. And our numbers, although they might have bubbled up a little bit this year you don't know. By the end of the year, we might have that taken care of.

ROWLANDS: But that's easier said than done. And there's more work to be done in every way.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Shots were just fired.


COOPER: More shots fired. Our Ted Rowlands joins us now.

Why is it so bad in Chicago? I mean, is it entrenched gang problems? Is there an easy answer about what it is?

ROWLANDS: Well, yes and no. Gangs are a huge problem. They attribute about 85 percent of the homicides to gang activity.

And the other thing about Chicago, and this is true in other cities, it is so segmented. There are areas of Chicago that are very dangerous. And then there is the rest of Chicago, and the suburbs of Chicago. And it is night and day.

And one of the things that not only Superintendent McCarthy but Rahm Emanuel, the mayor here, wants to happen is for people outside of these areas to start to care, as well. They say they need the people from the outside to care, and they need the people in those -- in those neighborhoods to help, as well, if they're going to beat this problem.

COOPER: Yes. Ted Rowlands, appreciate it. Ted, thanks very much.

Coming up, Rosie O'Donnell says she's lucky to be alive after she had a heart attack and didn't call 911 right away. I'm going to speak to Dr. Sanjay Gupta about Rosie O'Donnell's case and also more -- and the larger issue of women and heart disease. What you need to know and why the symptoms for women are very different from men. We'll tell you what they are.


COOPER: We want to dig deeper tonight. Rosie O'Donnell says she feels happy and lucky after suffering a heart attack last week, happy and lucky to be alive. On her blog, O'Donnell writes that she started feeling symptoms and took aspirin but didn't see a doctor until the next day, and then she found out she had 99 percent artery blockage.

I spoke with chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta about O'Donnell's case and what every woman should know about the signs of a heart attack.


COOPER: Sanjay, Rosie O'Donnell says she misunderstood a lot of her symptoms. What were her symptoms? What happened to her?

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, it was interesting because she had been helping this woman get out of her car a couple hours earlier. But then she -- a couple hours later, she had some pain in her arms, somewhat vague it sounded like. But also developed nausea. Developed clamminess of skin. Felt a little lethargy. You know, sort of vague things. Not things that people typically associate with having a heart attack. I think that was some of the confusion for her.

COOPER: I hadn't realized that more women actually die of heart disease than men. And yet the symptoms for women are very different or can be very different than they are for men.

GUPTA: Yes. First of all, the stat's absolutely right. More women die of heart disease than men. Women oftentimes present to the -- get to the hospital later, because they themselves don't recognize the symptoms. So they come, you know, as things have already progressed more, and therefore, they're less likely to survive.

But the symptoms can be -- can be different. I'll preface by saying this, Anderson. You and I have talked about this, that symptoms can be variable in men and women alike. If you're at risk of heart disease, you're worried about a heart attack, and you have a sudden development of new symptoms, this is something you should worry about. But typically, look at the list. Men are more likely to have the sort of crushing chest pain. Women, shortness of breath, nausea, jaw pain, back pain. Again, Anderson, some of those things can be vague it. Unless you're thinking about it, you may not likely attribute it to a heart problem.

COOPER: And she had said that her artery was blocked 99 percent. How exactly do they treat that?

GUPTA: Well, in her -- there's several different ways. People have heard of bypass surgery, for example, to treat this. In her case specifically they got an EKG. They determined that she likely had had a heart attack. Then they what's known as a heart catheterization, which again, Anderson, I know you're familiar with.

Take a look here at what happens. Once they went in there and saw that narrowing, that type of narrowing there, they decided to put in a stent. Anderson, angioplasty means when they dilate the blood vessel. In this case, they put in a stent. They left it in to sort of hold that blood vessel open.

COOPER: And she acknowledged that she didn't call 911 immediately. She recommended, I know, on her blog site, I think, that people do that. That is what somebody should do, correct?

GUPTA: I think there's really no question. You know, it's interesting. She took an aspirin. I don't know if you caught that, as well, Anderson. And so she clearly was thinking about it. I mean, the reason you take an aspirin -- and people have heard this in various ways -- is to try and thin your blood a little bit and decrease the chance of having more heart troubles. So she was thinking about it, but she didn't call 911.

She chided herself or reprimanded herself in her own blog. Yes, again, you know, it's a balance. You obviously don't want to call for every single ache and pain.

But if you're at risk of heart disease, you have a family history of heart disease, if you're worried about a heart attack and you have sort of new or sudden development of strange symptoms, you should -- you need to get to a hospital quickly. The quicker you get there within the, quote/unquote, "golden hour," the more treatment options are going to be available to you.

COOPER: It's good to focus on this. And I'm glad that she's doing OK. Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Sanjay, thanks.

GUPTA: You bet, Anderson. Thank you.

COOPER: Let's take a moment to check back in with Susan Hendricks. She has another "360 News & Business Bulletin" -- Susan.

HENDRICKS: Anderson, the plane that carried the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff to Afghanistan has been damaged by shrapnel. It was on the ground at an air base when the incident happened. Officials said General Martin Dempsey was not in any danger. Tropical Storm Isaac has formed way out in the Atlantic Ocean. And it could become a Category 1 hurricane by Thursday. Its path is unknown at this point, but forecasters are concerned about the thousands of people in Tampa next week for the Republican convention.

And the popular book "Fifty Shades of Grey" helped sales at Barnes & Noble in the second quarter of the year. While the book chain still reported a slight loss, its sales were greatly improved over the same period last year because of that book.

Anderson is back with "The RidicuList" next.


COOPER: It's time for "The RidicuList." And tonight, we're adding a diploma drama at a high school in Oklahoma. The valedictorian of Prague High School, class of 2012, is a young woman named Kaitlin. She's an extraordinary student, by all accounts, especially the accounts coming from her dad, who is understandably proud.


DAVID NOOTBAAR, FATHER OF KAITLIN: She was in every curricular activity. She's been with the Kiwanis. With the banks. On the bank boards. I mean, she just -- if there's anything to do, she does it.

Just excelled beyond anything I would ever expect of her, being my child.


COOPER: So Kaitlin excelled in school, was in all those activities, even on the bank boards, whatever that is. She's running the banks, apparently. She became valedictorian of her class. And then she gave her speech at graduation. And that's when all heck broke loose.

During the speech, she said something that was so shocking, so wildly inappropriate, that now the school won't give her her diploma.


D. NOOTBAAR: Went to the office and asked for the diploma. And he said, "Your diploma's right here, but you ain't getting it." Closed the door. We got a problem.

She earned that diploma. She did all the state curriculum. Four years of straight A's and 4.0's the whole way through.


COOPER: So what could Kaitlin possibly have said during that commencement speech that was so offensive? Well, it is just too appalling. I'm going to let Kaitlin tell you herself.


KAITLIN NOOTBAAR, CLASS VALEDICTORIAN: You know, they're going to ask us what we want to be, and we're going to say, "Who the hell knows?" That's it.


COOPER: Yes. She beat everyone over the head with the H-E double hockey sticks. And now they won't let her have her diploma, unless she apologizes for dropping the old "H" bomb. Not the "F" bomb. Not the "S" bomb. The "H" bomb. Now, you may be wondering why doesn't she just write the gosh-dang letter of apology?


K. NOOTBAAR: I don't want to, because I'm not sorry. So writing an apology letter that's just going to be a lie, which if they're saying that my cursing was sinning, that would be another sin, so -- don't want to have two sins on my hands.


COOPER: I hate it when these kids have principles.

School officials say it is a confidential matter. They aren't publicly commenting. But come on, clearly the word "hell" is inappropriate at any high school but especially Prague High School. The Devil. Now, that's a different story. Oh, yes, did I neglect to mention that the school mascot is the devil? Beelzebub, Lucifer, the horned beast. Same thing? No, it's true. You just saw it. They're called the devils.

But sure, the devil, he's just a denizen of hell. That's a fine line, I know. Kaitlin has started her freshman year at Southwestern Oklahoma State University. By the way, she's on a full scholarship. She's already moved into her freshman dorm. So luckily, she is now safely ensconced in the collegiate environment, where people never, ever use four-letter words.

She's majoring in marine biology.


K. NOOTBAAR: Who the hell knows? I may change five more times.


COOPER: She said it again! These kids today with their perfect grades and their text messaging and their extremely mild cursing. If this is our future, then nobody's getting diplomas, because we're all going to hell in a hand basket. Doh, I said it, too.

OK, that's it for us. Thanks for watching. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts now.