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Anti-U.S. Protests in Cairo; Fourth Victim Identified; Americans Killed in Libya

Aired September 13, 2012 - 20:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Erin, thanks very much. Good evening, everyone. We begin tonight with special coverage of the anti-American wild fire that is now burning across the Arab world and now even beyond.

You're looking live at the scene in Cairo after another day of rage targeting the American embassy. Some of the protesters outraged by a shadowy bizarre anti-Muslim video. Others, perhaps many others, have motives we still don't entirely understand, some may be foot soldiers in the struggle for power inside Egypt and elsewhere. Some may simply be angry people who until now haven't had a target for their rage.

But whatever the true motivations, it's not just Cairo anymore. Not just Benghazi, Libya, where four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya were killed in the turmoil. Ambassador Christopher Stevens, a State Department computer expert, Sean Smith, a former Navy SEAL, Glen Doherty, and sadly, there's breaking news about the fourth victim, he has not been identified, his name is Tyrone Woods, a former Navy SEAL, as well.

According to San Diego local station KNSD, Woods was from the area, from Imperial Beach. He was 41 years old. His ex-wife telling the station that he loved being a SEAL more than life itself.

We do have late developments on an arrest today in connection with his killing as well as the search for additional suspects and the Libyans, many of whom have expressed shock and outrage over the killings.

But as we said the anti-American flames are spreading. In addition to Libya and Egypt, there protests as well today in Yemen, Sudan, Iraq, Morocco, Gaza, at least 11 hot spots now including Israel, Iran and the Kashmir region controlled by India. So it's not just contained in the Arab world anymore.

Perhaps the most dramatic and deadly eruption happened in the capital of Yemen. Take a look.

Protesters breaching a wall at the U.S. embassy with several thousand more chanting in the street. Witnesses say police opened fire on the crowd. Four protesters reported dead. Officials say two dozen security officers were hurt as well. In Cairo, in the meantime, at least 19 people were hurt in massive demonstrations there, demonstrations that as we just showed have continued into the night. The crowd throwing rocks, Molotov cocktails, police, there you see, responding with tear gas. Some protesters said they hadn't actually seen the anti-Muslim video in question but said they were outraged by reports about it, by the idea of it.

Late today, Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, which controls the country's newly elected government, put out a statement targeting the filmmaker. It says, in part, quote, "We denounce abuse of all messengers of god, prophets and apostles, and condemn this heinous crime. We further call for criminalization of assault on the sanctities of all heavenly religions."

It continues, "Otherwise, such acts will continue to cause devout Muslims across the world to suspect and even loath the West, especially for the USA, for allowing their citizens to violate the sanctity of what they hold dear and holy."

The Brotherhood goes on to call for criminal charges against the filmmaker. The spokesman later softening the tone somewhat, tweeting, quote, "We condemned both movie as well as violent protesting in all our statements, Arabic and English. But people have right to peacefully protest."

Still, the words, and especially the pictures, have not exactly been reassuring. It may explain why speaking in Telemundo President Obama had this to say.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I don't think we would consider them an ally but we don't consider them an enemy. They are a new government that is trying to find its way. They were democratically elected. I think that we are going to have to see how they respond to this incident.


COOPER: Well, in fact by law, since the 1980s, Egypt has been designated one of now 15 major non-NATO allies. The list includes Israel, Japan and South Korea.

Today, State Department spokesman Victoria Nolan confirmed that nothing has changed from a policy standpoint. On the political front, however, a White House spokesman tried to contain any damage saying Mr. Obama was speaking colloquially, not literally, about the Egyptian-American relationship.

Now contrast that fuzzy language, though, with the pictures we're getting from Cairo and beyond. So a lot to talk about right now on many different fronts.

CNN's Ben Wedeman is on the ground in Cairo for us. Former Homeland Security adviser, Fran Townsend, is with us as well. She's our national security contributor, a member of the CIA External Advisory Committee. Last month Fran visited Libya with her employer, MacAndrews & Forbes. Also with us, Fouad Ajami, senior fellow at Stanford -- at Stanford's Hoover Institution.

Ben, is that firing in the background right now?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Actually, Anderson, what that is is protesters firing fireworks in the direction of security forces which are literally right below this balcony. This is happening sort of on an hourly basis throughout the day and well into the night.

COOPER: So what is the atmosphere like? I mean what -- and is this still about that video?

WEDEMAN: It is. I mean we have spent some time speaking to the protesters. And that obviously, that video is what they acclaim or explain is the reason for their presence outside the embassy, but as I've seen in previous clashes here in Cairo, a dynamic sets in where it's really a fight between basically young men who are sort of high on adrenaline against the security forces and sort of the politics seems to disappear.

But obviously, symbolically, the fact that these clashes have been going on around the clock for well over 24 hours is a worrying thing for an embassy which for years, under the Mubarak regime, existed quite peacefully. And certainly, we saw, you mentioned that statement from the Muslim Brotherhood, Khairat El-Shater, the number two in the Muslim Brotherhood, did publish today a statement in the "New York Times" condemning the attack on the U.S. embassy, condemning the killing of U.S. diplomats in Libya.

But there's sort of a dichotomy of messages. In English, they seem to be fairly soft and conciliatory as far as the United States goes. In Arabic, a much harsher tone and in some respects, not all together condemning the current protests outside the U.S. embassy here.

COOPER: Ben, we're going to continue the conversation. And we're going to come back to you. But if you need, for any security reason, to step inside away from -- you're outside right now. We will certainly understand that.

Fran, we've now identified or we know the identity of the fourth victim, Tyrone Woods, a former Navy SEAL. I know you didn't know him personally. But we've all spent a lot of time in hot spots overseas. We've met men like him who play critically roles in these dangerous countries, really, without any recognition.

FRAN TOWNSEND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CONTRIBUTOR: That's right, Anderson. And when you look at both Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods, the function they perform really allows the United States to be in dangerous places where we need to be in order to protect long-term the American people and American interests. And our diplomats wouldn't be there in those parts of the world without men like Woods and Doherty. You know, Doherty's sister today made a statement to the press and said she regards him as an American hero. And I think if more people understood the mission and what they are doing in these dangerous places as well as, Anderson, how both Woods and Doherty behaved in response to the attack on the consulate, I think every American would regard them as a hero.

COOPER: Fouad, when you hear the statement the Muslim Brotherhood made, what do you make of it?

FOUAD AJAMI, SENIOR FELLOW, SANFORD UNIVERSITY'S HOOVER INSTITUTION: You know, Anderson, this is like a tragedy foretold in many ways. We've been there before. We've seen these events. We've seen them in (INAUDIBLE) with the famous novel "Satanic Verses." We've seen them with the Danish cartoons crisis. We've seen them in Hallah (ph), I mean, there have been several of these things. And they involve this clash of values between people in the West who do things and insist on freedom of expression and people in the Islamic world who live on raw nerves and are willing and eager to be offended. This really is what it is.

COOPER: Willing and eager.

AJAMI: Yes. Absolutely. They are young people. I think Ben Wedeman said it well. They are there and they gather in front of these U.S. embassies. And I think the embassies are like fortresses. They are symbols of this great, distant power. And people see these embassies. They are the thing in its opposite. They are the place to go and get a visa to get the hell out of these countries, and they're also these places where you think the great conspiracies are being hatched against the Islamic people and against the message and the truth of Islam.

Allow me one thing. I watched that trailer, this trailer. It is unbelievable. It's from right out of the gutter. And as a Muslim, I mean, I was born a Muslim. I'm not observant. But there's something about it, there's such -- the vulgarity of the whole thing. It wasn't a work of art. It was intended as a work of incitement.

It is sad that this cheap work of incitement would become the cause for these violent upheavals and these violent protests. People should be willing to be offended. But I think large numbers of people in the Islamic world are still not willing to look the other way and be offended.

COOPER: And is that, you think, a function of the state with which society is? The evolution of society there? The repression that they've had? I mean how do you -- how do you explain it? Because a lot of people look at it and say, well, look, you don't see other places in the world. People don't -- you know, the Book of Mormon and you don't see Mormons being upset. People accept criticisms or satire or offensive things about their religion.

AJAMI: Right. You have it there. I mean it's right. I mean that's what it is. And the Muslims have this high barrier on insults to the prophet or even visual representation of the prophet. So the Muslim people have come into the modern world bearing these ideas, if you will, that they should not be offended, that they should be given a pass in the world.

But I can't really emphasize the absolute disgust I had watching this video. There is no excuse for it. And when you hear the sad producer, who we don't know who the hell he is, when he says that, I made this film and I was financed by 100 Jewish investors. It was almost two birds with one stone. It's insulting Islam and implicating the Jews. And we don't know if he's even Jewish. It's all in the way it is done.

COOPER: Right. Same fact we know he is not the maker of this film.


COOPER: And we know more about him, we're going to report on that tonight.

Fran, President Obama, I mean, you heard in that clip, he just said he doesn't consider Egypt an ally. The State Department basically had to walk that back. A White House spokesman now tried to clarify it.

What do you think is going on here? Are they trying to send a message to the Egyptian government? What's going on?

TOWNSEND: You know, I actually think it's unfortunate that there has been -- sort of this walking back of the president's statement. Look, imagine how the president and the White House must feel right now. You have the Egyptians on notice before the first protest in Cairo and the Egyptians failed to put force there and barbed wire and protect the embassy in advance of the first protest.

Then after it occurred, they were very slow to issue a condemnation. And it was very sort of a weak condemnation. And so the president I -- is angry, I suspect they're angry and disappointed. They are not sure that Morsy, who belongs to the Muslim Brotherhood, is going to be a real and strong ally and help them push this back and protect our people.

And if the president just sort of owned, he is angry with them and disappointed at the Egyptians and their reaction, I think he would have had all Americans saying, yes, me, too. But we have this sort of half language now. They're an ally, we don't know, but they're not an enemy. And then all this -- all today, this walking back. I think it's foolish. I mean I think they should just own the fact that we are disappointed with the Egyptians. We invest a lot of money in military aid to them and we have a right to expect better from them.

COOPER: Ben, tomorrow is a day of prayer, obviously, in the Muslim world. The Muslim Brotherhood has called for protest across Egypt against this film. You've been talking to Muslim Brotherhood officials, how do they plan to insure these gatherings don't spiral out of control? It seems like a real potential for more provocation. WEDEMAN: Well, Anderson, what they say is that they're going to have protests across Egypt at mosques in cities from the north to the south but they're not going to be holding any protests in the area of the American embassy or at Tahrir Square, which is right next to it.

The problem is, of course, can they control it? Once the -- if the large numbers come out, we've seen protests in Cairo before, which start outside of Tahrir Square. But by sort of a natural motion of the -- sort of the street here, they end up in the square. And the Muslim Brotherhood obviously is not the only Islamist group in this country. You have the Salafis who have played a much more active role in these protests. And they may see this as an opportunity to gain more street credibility and in a sense undermine the Muslim Brotherhood.

COOPER: And Ben -- Ben, I'm sorry, Fouad, there is a battle between the Salafis and the Muslim Brothers. Salafis are the hard core Islamism.

AJAMI: Absolutely. Well, the Salafis are there and the Muslim Brotherhood is in a very delicate position. It kind of plays that game. It actually is a militant organization. It's a fundamentalist organization. But now it has come into power. Look, I think what was really interesting about Egypt, Egypt has always had these deep wells of anti-Americanism. At the height of the relationship with Hosni Mubarak, in every public opinion survey, the Egyptians were fierce anti-Americans.

I mean that's the truth of that demented relationship between the United States and Egypt. That hasn't gone away and I think President Obama himself fell for a kind of illusion that they could sweet-talk these societies out of their rage, out of their anger. He went to Cairo in June 2009 for a famous speech. And he believed, he believed that he had capped the volcano in the Islamic world. And now we see what we see.

COOPER: Fouad Ajami, it's good to have you here. Fran Townsend, Ben Wedeman, we're going to come back to you in a little bit later on the program. Please be very careful. We're going to come back as developments warrant.

Let us know what you think. Obviously, we're on Facebook, on Twitter right now, @Andersoncooper. I'm tweeting tonight.

Next, trying to find the killers who struck in Benghazi. Libyans made an arrest today as we told. Manhunt far from over. We told you Marines are on their way. We're going to update you on that and talk about what kind of force may be brought to bear when more suspects are identified.

Arwa Damon is in Benghazi. We'll also talk with former CIA officer Bob Baer, and retired Brigadier Genera David Grange.


COOPER: Welcome back. As protests erupt across the Muslim world, it's important to remember that the city where four Americans were murdered is also the city that Americans help liberate. And tonight we have pictures of people who are grateful for that, people who took to the streets, carrying pro-American signs, thanking Americans, thanking Ambassador Stevens who had many friends in Benghazi, denouncing terrorism.

For its part, the Libyan government, which first took root as the Libyan opposition in Benghazi, has also condemned the killings. The Libyan prime minister today announcing that one suspect is now in custody in connection with the killings and several more are being sought.

Arwa Damon is in Benghazi, Libya, for us tonight. She joins us by phone. So does former CIA officer Bob Baer and retired Brigadier David Grange.

So Arwa, we're learning details about how the attack was organized, about some arrests that were made. What's the latest? What do you know?

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the government is saying that they've arrested one individual in association with these attacks. They are not saying (INAUDIBLE) exactly which organization he may have been apart of. They have been saying they are in pursuit of four or five other individuals.

The government, at this point in time, is fully aware that it has the responsibility to the United States to which it is greatly indebted and to its own people to take concrete action against those that have perpetrated this attack and it also needs to really begin to seriously address the issue of these effectively armed militias that roam around with complete and utter impunity.

Up until now, and this is not an isolated incident, this -- I mean it's not the first time a Western interests have been targeted. Specifically inside Benghazi. But the government now does realize that it has to begin to put measures into place to reign these groups than it has in the past. That it is not capable of going up against these various armed extremist militias.

But it most certainly is going to take all of the effort that it possibly can to conduct this joint investigation with the United States. The severity of what has transpired, the tragedy of what has transpired, most certainly, is not lost on anyone here at this point in time. And they're also fully aware of what the potential consequences could possibly be -- Anderson.

COOPER: Bob, CNN's Susan Kelly has learned that U.S. intelligence believes it's very unlikely this was core al Qaeda behind the attacks but officials are not yet ready to identify a group, as Arwa talked about. You've talked before about how that area has become a hot bed for militant groups and that this sort of thing could be just the beginning.

ROBERT BAER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR, FORMER CIA OFFICER: Well, I think it is. There's large parts of the country that definitely not under the control of the central government. I keep on hearing reports (INAUDIBLE) of weapons going into the Sub-Saharan, Africa. And there's a shadowy group whether it -- you know, really the names don't matter whether it's al Qaeda or al Qaeda in the Maghreb or the Salafis. Just seemed to assume to take names and this grooms as group as self-organized.

There's weapons all over Libya. And this is going to be an extremely difficult investigation to conduct, especially for America. Because we simply can't put people out in -- around town and on the country because it's too dangerous. We have to defer to the Libyans. There's a new government. They're not particularly well-trained. We don't know who these people are exactly.

It is a chaotic situation. And I just don't think we should expect answers any time soon.

COOPER: And General Grange, I mean, a lot of the foreign jihadists who went into Iraq to fight against the U.S. came from Libya, particularly from eastern Libya, the Benghazi region and east of that. The U.S. is not deploying drones and warships to the region. How do you go about, though, launching a military response if it comes to that against militants inside Libya? I mean it is --


COOPER: It seems complicated.

GRANGE: Yes. That's very difficult. I've just been over there twice and moved around between Tripoli and Benghazi. You know the four different power groups, you do have brigade commanders that have their own autonomy in certain regions. You have sheikhs. You have tribal chiefs and then you have the National Transitional Council, and you have ministries. And no one really controls everything.

And we have met very, very good people there, moved around with them. But we had to change our route several times because the Salafis getting the word that we were there and they were worried about our movement. So we had to change. So when our people go in there targeting, you know, who do you hold responsible? How do you find them? I mean you can't punish a population.

And so it's very difficult to find those that are responsible and to really take much action. We have to reinforce the consulate and the embassy with Marines. We have to have a force off the coast to do emergency evacuation if required. But the Libyans basically asked us. And we're -- you know, we're the civilian private organization now.

I think because we set up humanitarian assistance prospects, they asked us, America needs to be here. We want your business here. They're all wearing American flag pins on their clothes. They didn't want the Chinese. They didn't want other nationalities. They wanted us. And we're very slow to get set up there. And so you're not going to stop some of these militant groups but you sure can influence the population. I think we can do a better job of that.

COOPER: And Arwa, I mean, you're in Benghazi. How -- what is the atmosphere there now? How would -- you know, people, we saw some pictures and rallies supporting the United States there. I mean is it predominantly pro or anti-U.S. sentiment there? Can you tell?

DAMON: Well, Anderson, I landed a few hours ago, so really in the middle of the night. But the Libyans I was talking to on the flight over, Libyans I met and (INAUDIBLE) and on the ground here all really appalled at what happened. Many of them are completely speechless and still in shock. And many of them really want to emphasize that this is not representative of Libya, this is not representative of the Libya that they were trying to establish. The Libya that they fought blood.

And they themselves died for or lost their family members for. But this really goes to show just how sinister this country can potentially become. The government has to at this point in time figure out a way to get these weapons off the street and back into its own control. And that is going to be one of the biggest challenges moving forward.

Post-revolution the government has had to implement a series of policies to try to bring these various militias, these revolutionary fighting brigades into the security forces, trying to persuade them to give up their weapons.

And all efforts up until now have failed and the result has been that a lot of these groups, and some of them are extremist Salafi entities have been able to operate with impunity and have absolutely no motivation, don't have the confidence and the leadership here to have the incentive to want to lay their weapons down. Many of them feeling that it is in their right to carry these guns.


DAMON: And you end up in some parts of the countries having these little systems that are being run by these armed gangs of which the government have absolutely no control whatsoever.

COOPER: Bob, you've worked in this region. And just very briefly because we are short of time, I think a lot of people seeing this will find it hard to believe that local groups there, that Libyans themselves in the Benghazi region, don't know who the Salafist groups are, don't know who's active and maybe who is behind this.

I mean isn't this an -- isn't intelligence gathering at this point crucial?

BAER: It is absolutely crucial. Libyans do know. The problem is, we haven't been there long enough to put the pieces together as we did with al Qaeda after 9/11. Look, it took us 10 years really to get to the leadership and target these drones. We are in the same position we were on 9/11 when we went into Afghanistan, trying to figure out who was who. It's a very long conflict. And this one I think will be, too.

COOPER: Bob Baer, appreciate your expertise, Arwa Damon, David Grange, as well. Thank you. As anti-American rage explodes across parts of the Middle East, Northern Africa, Asia, the so-called filmmaker who lit the matches in hiding tonight. We're learning more about who he is. That's next.


COOPER: New polls just now show President Obama with an edge in three crucial swing states. John King breaks down the numbers ahead on 360.


COOPER: Strong words today from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton about the anti-Muslim film that's ignited so much fury across the Middle East. She says the U.S. government absolutely rejects the film's content and message. Short clips were posted on YouTube, their production value really so crude it's almost cartoonish. The filmmaker is said to be in hiding tonight. A lot of people trying to track him down for various reasons. We're told the FBI has spoken to him. When CNN tried to obtain a copy of the film permit -- usually it's available online.

We found it was temporarily removed because of public safety concerns. One thing that is now clear, Sam Bacile, a name that surfaced early in the reporting is a fake. Miguel Marquez investigates.


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He is the shadowy maker of a low-budget anti-Islamic film or was it criminal pass in many aliases clearly someone who doesn't want to be found and as we discovered for good reason.

In 1997, Bacile, his real name Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, spent a year in prison convicted of intent to manufacture methamphetamine. In 2010, he spent another year, this time in federal prison for fraud.

(on camera): These are just some of the documents for criminal cases against Sam Bacile or Nakoula Basseley Nakoula. It is clear by going through these that investigators had a hard time tracking him down as well. The guy had several addresses, many Social Security numbers and lots of names.

(voice-over): Court document show he used at least 17 different times including Sam Bacile, Kritbag Difrat and PJ Tobacco and Thomas Tamas.

(on camera): Anything having anything to do with Sam Bacile is scared to death right now across Los Angeles. This is a neighborhood in Long Beach.

A man who lives here says that Nakoula Basseley used his address to get credit cards and conduct some of the fraudulent activity that he carried out. He found out about it, called the police and hasn't seen him since. (voice-over): Numbers associated with Bacile's many identities turned up nothing. Even anti-Islamic activists who worked with him say they were never exactly sure who he was.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sam was not his real name. I knew that.

MARQUEZ: The same is even true for the actors in his movie.

CINDY GARCIA, ACTRESS: He told me he was from Israel. Today, he told me he was going to show the movie in Egypt. Either I assumed he was from Egypt or --

MARQUEZ (on camera): You believed he was Egyptian.

GARCIA: Yes, because that's what I believed.

MARQUEZ: This is the best address we have for Sam Bacile or Nikoula Basseley whatever you want to call him. You can see all of the media has camped out here. We are going to try one more time to talk to him. Mr. Bacile, Mr. Nakoula, it is Miguel Marquez with CNN.

(voice-over): This house the center of an intense search for answers from a man who has many questions hanging over his head.


COOPER: Miguel, early reports that he claimed to be Jewish Israeli-American and had dozens of Jewish backers, financial backers, we now know that is not the case, correct?

MARQUEZ: Yes, we do indeed. It sounds like Nikoula was putting this deception out there as well so certainly, a dangerous deception. He even told cast members that he was Israeli at one point as well.

But today, we did confirm, we talked to the bishop of an Egyptian-Coptic church in the Los Angeles area. We also talked to Egyptian friends of his who confirms he is Egyptian.

He is Coptic Christians. This is raising concerns for Coptic Christians in Egypt and what the response there will be -- Anderson.

COOPER: Miguel Marquez, appreciate it. We're following other stories, of course, tonight. Isha's here with the "360 News and Business Bulletin" -- Isha.

ISHA SESAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke announced today that the Federal Reserve is moving again to jump-start the sluggish economy expanding the policy known as quantitative easing.

Beginning tomorrow, it will buy billions of dollars of additional bonds in hopes of keeping long-term interest rates and mortgage rates low with a goal of boosting spending and hiring.

Wall Street loved the fed's move. The Dow jumped 210 points closing at the highest level in nearly five years. The Nasdaq and S&P rose substantially as well.

Hundreds of people paid tribute today to Neil Armstrong at a memorial service at Washington National Cathedral. Armstrong was the first person to ever walk on the moon on July 20th, 1969.

The head of NASA remembered him for his courage, grace and humility. Neil Armstrong died last month at the age of 82, Anderson, a true American hero.

COOPER: Yes, a remarkable life. Isha, thanks.

A new polling just out shows the presidential race may be shifting to some key battleground states including Ohio and Florida. A bigger lead is opening up for President Obama. We will talk about details on that ahead. John King breaks out the numbers and our political panel weighs in.


COOPER: Anti-American anger spreads across North Africa, the Mid-East into parts of Asia. Protesters were killed today in Yemen. Hundreds are tossing rocks and Molotov cocktails outside the U.S. Embassy in Cairo right now. We will go back there live as 360 continues.


COOPER: We are going to go back to Egypt and Middle East in a moment, but let's talk about some raw politics now.

Democrats and a number of Republicans criticize Mitt Romney for his comments about the embassy attacks two days ago in Egypt and Libya. He claimed the Obama administration's first response demonstrated sympathy for the attackers.

Last night, we showed you how Governor Romney got his facts and some of the timeline wrong. Today though, he didn't back down. Here is what he told ABC's George Stephanopoulos.


MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What I said was exactly the same conclusion the White House reached, which was that the statement was inappropriate that's why they backed away from it as well.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They didn't say it was showing sympathy for the attackers.

ROMNEY: I think it was not directly applicable and appropriate for the setting. I think it should have been taken down. Apparently, the White House felt the same way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No direct response when the president says, you shoot first and aim later.

ROMNEY: Well, this is politics. I'm not going to worry about the campaign.


COOPER: Well, there's new polling out tonight. The question is, should Romney be worried? I spoke a short time ago with John King who crunches the new poll numbers and CNN political analysts, Gloria Borger and David Gergen.


COOPER: So John, walk us through these new numbers. What do they tell us about where the race is right now?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Overall, they tell you, Anderson, we are going to go through five battleground states and one of them maybe not a battleground state. What they tell you is a very close race, but advantage for the president.

Let's start in Colorado. Brand new numbers out in Colorado today that's where the president was today, they show you American Research Group poll essentially a dead heat. The president up two points in battleground Colorado and that's within the margin of error. That tells you, you have a dead heat in Colorado.

That's one of the battlegrounds. Now we come to the Midwest. Mitt Romney has hoped to make Michigan the state he was born. He wanted to make that a battleground. But look at this, Republican "Super Pacs" pulled out. Not spending ad money anymore.

Perhaps this is why they might have these numbers as well. New Epic MRA poll shows the president with a 10-point lead in Michigan. That's a state Romney wanted to put into play. It looks pretty bleak for him right now and good for the president.

Now let's drop down to battleground Ohio. Mitt Romney probably can't win the White House if he doesn't win Ohio. Two polls out today, a little bit of a conflict here, American Research Group poll came out this morning. That showed a dead heat, 48-47.

But the new NBC/"Wall Street Journal"/Marist poll out tonight. That one showed the president with a seven-point lead. Again, Ohio, a must win state for Mitt Romney, the president's teams hopes these numbers are right and not those numbers.

Relatively close still, but if that Ohio number is right, that's trouble for Mitt Romney. Two more quick ones, Anderson, over to Virginia, the president won it last time. Mitt Romney likely needs to win it this time, a five-point gap in the NBC/"Wall Street Journal"/Marist poll.

Again, a slight lead for the president, notice the trend there. Let's drop down to Florida, one more here, the same exact thing. You have the same number, same poll, same numbers 49-44.

So if you add it all up, what do you have? The president tends to have a small, looks like a slightly growing lead than over a few weeks ago. Not out of reach, Anderson, for Mitt Romney, but the math favors the president.

COOPER: It's interesting, Gloria. I mean, the Republicans had their convention in Florida, but the poll according to John suggests the president may have actually gained ground in the state. Do you think those numbers will come as a surprise to the Romney campaign?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: I think the problem for the Romney campaign, whether it is a surprise or not, the fact that Paul Ryan on the ticket may well affect senior voters or people about to be senior voters in the state of Florida.

Medicare is a very big issue. The Romney campaign knew that it was a gamble to put Paul Ryan on the ticket. They hope it gives them the state of Wisconsin, but it probably does not help them very much in the state of Florida.

COOPER: David, Romney trying to turn things back now to the economy. Take a look at the poll. These numbers, the CNN/ORC poll today. Last year, 6 out of 10 voters we spoke to were pessimistic about the economy.

That's completely flipped, now two-thirds of those surveys said they think the economy will be in good shape a year from now. Does that surprise you? Do you think it should worry the Romney campaign?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: It does surprise me. It should worry the Romney camp. The argument all along has been that President Obama is going nowhere with his economic plan. The economy is not going to pull out under his leadership.

Come vote for me. Come take a chance with me, if that's the argument of the Romney camp. If two-thirds of the people in the country already think that we are going to be in better shape a year from now, why change horses in midstream?

So I don't think that is good news for the Romney camp. But also in that Ohio poll that came out today from NBC/Marist. What was really striking to me is the first state poll I've seen from a major battleground state in which more people said Obama would do a good job handling the economy than Romney.

COOPER: Not only is the president winning Ohio. He has a four- point edge as David said on that question of who would handle the economy better.

KING: And if he holds that edge, Anderson, we have 54 days to go, if he holds that edge, the map gets almost impossible. Here is where we are now. We have said this before, 237 for the president and 191 for Mitt Romney. You have to get to 270 to win.

If this state goes blue, it becomes almost impossible. It puts the president on the doorstep, number one. Number two, if Ohio is going Democratic, look, Ohio is more conservative than Iowa. It is really hard to argue that if Ohio is going Democratic that Iowa won't go Democratic. You do that. The president is one or two states away depending on whether it's a big state or a small state. Mitt Romney is essentially -- if Barack Obama wins Ohio, Mitt Romney has to draw to an inside strait to win the election.

Remember, some people say this is a cliche. It's also a fact. No Republican has won the White House since Abraham Lincoln days without winning Ohio.

BORGER: You know, Anderson, when you look back to, say, February, Mitt Romney was doing a lot better than President Obama on who is better able to handle the economy, maybe by five, six, seven points, depending on what poll you look at.

As you see that gap shrink, that's worrisome for the Romney campaign because that's been their calling card. So every minute they spend talking about foreign policy is a minute wasted because they have to talk about the economy.

And if the public doesn't believe that he is necessarily the best man to take care of the economy, what's the rational for the candidacy?

GERGEN: Talking about foreign policy is especially bad if you don't talk about it well.

COOPER: But we still have a long way to go before the election, 60 or so days. These numbers are not insurmountable.

GERGEN: They're not insurmountable, but Mitt Romney still has a very reasonable chance to take this. It is putting more and more pressure on him, not only to tie the first debate, but to win the first debate. He has to take it away from the president. That's a hard thing to do as a challenger.

COOPER: Is this just a convention bounce?

GERGEN: I think it is a convention bounce, but the atmospherics are changing. The fact is President Obama is running a better campaign than Mitt Romney right now. Mitt Romney should win this if you look at the underlying conditions, all the models for this.

Obama is running a better campaign. Just this week, we saw if Mitt Romney is going to win, he is going to take it through the debates or when special events come up. He has to be able to capitalize on them.

So we just had this new event with Libya and Egypt. What happened? He either bungled it or he certainly became an item of controversy. And instead of a conversation about, is President Obama's policy working in the Middle East?

John McCain says it just shows weakness. That would be a legitimate debate for Republicans, but to have Mitt Romney on the defense over this question when we are attacked in our embassies? That is inept. COOPER: Interesting. David Gergen, Gloria Borger, John King, thank you.


COOPER: Well, with the election less than eight weeks away, we are taking a look at the issues that keep everyone up at night, especially voters.

We poll registered voters to find out what is on everyone's minds. This week, we've been taking a close look at the top economic concerns that voters have.

Housing was number five. Taxes were number four. Social Security was number three and tonight, number two, the federal deficit. Someone has made it his mission to promote fiscal responsibilities.

David Walker, he is the former comptroller general of the United States, a political independent who served under both Democratic and Republican presidents.

We caught up with him on a bus tour through swing states with a group he founded, the "Comeback American Initiative." Here is what he told us.


DAVID WALKER, FOUNDER, "COMEBACK AMERICA INITIATIVE": What keeps me up at night is the deteriorating financial condition of the country, escalating deficits in debt and what it could mean to our future as a country and my grandchildren.

This is not an unsolvable problem. The greatest threat to America's future is not terrorism. It is not some country. It is our own fiscal irresponsibility. During the past five or so years, I have been to 49 states doing town hall meetings.

What I've found is that the American people are actually a lot smarter than politicians realize. The United States is a great country, but it is not exempt from the laws of prudent finance. You can't spend a lot more money than you take in and charge it to the credit card and not expect to have a day of reckoning.

A day of reckoning could look like what's happening in Europe where all of the sudden, people realize the country's financial condition is a lot worse than advertised, a worst-case scenario, a depression. If we have a debt crisis in the U.S., it would be a global depression. Nobody would be able to hide.

Anybody who signs a pledge on the right that says, I will never raise taxes. They are part of the problem. They are not part of the solution. Anybody on the left who signs a pledge that says, I won't reform Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. They are part of the problem, not part of the solution. What we are trying to do is to make sure that this election cycle, that we make this the top issue. We need to wake up, make top transformational changes and if we do that, our future will be better than our past? Other countries have done it. We can do it. Let's get on with it.


COOPER: Tomorrow night, we will have a look at everyone's number one concern.

We are going to go live to Cairo next where anti-American protests are still erupting at this hour. CNN Ben Wedeman and David Kirkpatrick of "The New York Times" are there. We will check in with them live next.


COOPER: Welcome back. We want to update you on the breaking news. Authorities just released the fourth man killed during the mayhem at the American Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

Tyrone Woods is his name, just 41 years old from the San Diego area, a former Navy SEAL. As was Glen Doherty who also died in the attack along with computer expert, Shawn Smith and of course, Christopher Stevens, the American ambassador to Libya.

Meantime, outside the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, hundreds of protesters have clashed with police and tonight and all day long. Ben Wedeman is there for us and also "New York Times" Cairo Bureau Chief, David Kirkpatrick.

Ben, you have been there among the protesters. You were telling us earlier a little bit about what you heard. What kind of sense do you have about who exactly they are? I mean, are they part of an organized group or just young men looking for trouble?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: By and large, they seem to be young men looking for trouble. They are the same sort of young men between 15 and 25 that I've seen in other protests that had nothing to do with this particular subject.

If you listen to some of the slogans they are shouting as they are throwing the Molotov cocktails and rocks at the security forces, they don't sound very Islamic at all. In fact, they can't even reproduce them on family television.

You do get the feeling that even though these protests were sparked by this issue of this video on YouTube, at this point, it is morphed into the usual sort of street battle between angry young men and the security forces. And the issue behind it seems to have faded as this street fighting simply continues as we've seen so many times before -- Anderson.

COOPER: David, that may change hours from now, Friday, after prayers, the Muslim Brotherhood has called for protest nationwide. You have spoken to the Muslim Brotherhood officials. What are they telling you about the protests? How concerned are they about angering the United States or are they concerned?

DAVID KIRKPATRICK, CAIRO BUREAU CHIEF, "NEW YORK TIMES": Well, I think they are quite concerned about the feedback they are getting from President Obama and the American government right now.

There was a conspicuous silence of the president where the embassy was breached and the protests went on and the next night as the protests continued. I think that rubbed a lot of American officials the wrong way at the highest level.

Especially since the Americans had just brought a trade delegation of 100 businessmen here in an effort to try to drum up new money and investment for the Egyptian government. On the heels of that, just as they are about to leave and American has been selling Egypt, this attack for the American embassy, no apology or expresses of concern for the new president.

I think the new president here heard about that from President Obama in a phone call. What we see today, leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood doing everything they can to assure the Americans that they are not sorry this happened and they don't blame the American government for condoning this video.

That brings us back to the protests in the street. I have watched these things before. We have seen many times this sort of street violence. It is just really about anger, police anger and the protesters. I wondered whether when we had a more legitimate elected government that would change. This is one of the first signs it is not going to change.

In fact, when I heard what I was tired of protesting today, some impatience with the president impatience that he hasn't done more to stand up to the U.S. I heard people talking about, you have to kick out the American ambassador, cancel his upcoming trip. People are angry at their own president for not speaking out more forcefully on this video.

COOPER: David Kirkpatrick, I appreciate your reporting tonight and Ben Wedeman as well. Be careful in the days ahead. We are going to be right back.


COOPER: Looking one last time this hour, the streets of Cairo just steps away from the U.S. Embassy, it and other diplomatic locations around the Arab world facing potentially a very tense new day tomorrow, Friday, the day of prayers.

We will, of course, continue to follow late developments for you. For now, that does it for this edition of 360. We will be back in one hour from now at 10 p.m. Eastern. "PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT" starts now.