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Poll Position; Romney Gains in New Swing State Polls; State Department Gives New Details on U.S. Consulate Libya Attack

Aired October 9, 2012 - 20:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Erin, thanks very much. Good evening, everyone.

We begin tonight "Keeping Them Honest" on campaigns that love the polls but only when the polls are going their way. Right now, that would be the Romney campaign. New polling in battleground states tonight, the latest CNN/ORC survey in Ohio done entirely after the first debate, now showing a four-point Obama lead. That's a statistical tie. It is a significant change from the seven to 10- point lead the president enjoyed before the debate.

New polling as well from Sienna College that shows a statistical tie in Pennsylvania. That's based on surveys done both before and after the debate. And nationally in Gallup's Daily Tracking Poll, which covers October 2nd through the 8th, Mitt Romney now holds a two- point edge. Today, Gallup shifted from registered to likely voters, which tends to favor Republicans.

That said, though, it is hard to find any evidence, any evidence that President Obama escaped Denver without at least some damage. The only question being how severe and how long-lasting. That seems hard to dispute. Just as it's hard to dispute that prior to the debate, Mr. Romney was getting hammered in the polls.

"Keeping Them Honest," though, disputing or downplaying the obvious, that's what campaigns do on both sides.


CORNELL BELCHER, POLLSTER, OBAMA 2012: It's not -- in the end, it's not going to be about the polls. I wouldn't put a lot of weight in any of these national polls for the next couple of days anyway.

STEPHANIE CUTTER, OBAMA DEPUTY CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Well, you know, in terms of Mitt Romney surging, just remember how much of a deficit he had to make up. I mean he was in some cases double digits behind the president in all those attributes. And the president is still leading on them.

BELCHER: Pull back the reins a little bit. The media is focusing on one poll because they really want this narrative to change.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: Well, that's reaction to the recent batch of post-debate polling, including that devastating Pew poll that showed a four-point Romney lead. Now consider that Pew took an earlier poll in September a couple of weeks before the debate, it was the Republicans going ballistic when it showed Romney eight points down. Watch.


BAY BUCHANAN, SENIOR ADVISOR TO MITT ROMNEY: These polls are basically just part and parcel of the campaign for Barack Obama to help him stay in this game as long as possible.

ARI FLEISCHER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY FOR PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: If you believe what the polls are saying right now, you've got to believe that there's something huge going on.

JOHN SUNUNU (R), FORMER NEW HAMPSHIRE GOVERNOR: I've said that all along, and I'm willing to say that publicly and stick by it, and I know that that poll, up 15 points, is absolutely invalid.

DICK MORRIS, FORMER CLINTON ADVISOR: People need to understand that the polling this year is the worst it's ever been.

BUCHANAN: That is not a legitimate poll in 2012.


COOPER: Actually Ari said both polls were skewed when we had him on the program the last couple of days. You heard Bay Buchanan allude to it in the beginning of that clip. Some pundits on the right have been complaining that the major polling operation systematically favor President Obama. A guy named Dean Chambers even set up a Web site. Take a look. It's called and it purports to reveal and correct the bias he sees in political polling.

So now that the polls seem to be swinging in Mitt Romney's favor, could it be because he did well in debate? Actually, no. Instead, the unskewed polls that the guy from the Unskewed Polls credits the change to -- well, actually, to himself. He writes, quote, "I suggested last week that the pollsters will become more concerned about their credibility and would straighten up and fly right, so to speak. They have."

It sounds like everyone on all sides of the aisle needs to take a deep breath, get a little perspective.

Cornell Belcher, as you heard from a moment ago, suggesting we all wait awhile for the numbers to settle. Ari Fleischer last night told me he'd take the latest good and bad news for his side with a grain of salt.


FLEISCHER: The previous Pew poll was ridiculous. It had a 10- point Democrat turnout advantage. Not going to happen. This one has a five-point Republican advantage. As much as I'm a partisan Republican, I have a hard time believing that, Anderson.


COOPER: So Ari saying both polls have been skewed over the last couple of weeks. Pundits, though, whether they're sensible, silly or somewhere in between, never have the last word. Voters do. And tonight in swing states across the country, potential Romney voters have been riding high, and yes, falling in and out of love with the polls.

Here's Gary Tuchman.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Before he walks into this college gymnasium in Rochester, Michigan, the crowd has already been whipped into a frenzy. And on the same day when Paul Ryan's done with his campaign speech here in Swanton, Ohio --

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Really appreciate it. Thank you.

TUCHMAN: -- there's no shortage of enthusiastic supporters hoping to shake the vice presidential candidate's hand. Ryan then delivers a well-received stump speech.

RYAN: We need to change presidents so we need to elect Mitt Romney, the next president of the United States.

TUCHMAN: But amid the enthusiasm, there is anger among many people at these rallies. Seething anger at the news media.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The media lies, the media are for Obama.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I got to be honest, I can't stand it. It's brutal. It's definitely one-sided.

KIDD ROCK, SINGER: Let's hear it for Paul Ryan.

TUCHMAN: Paul Ryan has said it himself that he believes there is media bias against the GOP ticket. And at these rallies, a widespread belief that presidential preference polls are part of that conspiracy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think the polling is very fair. I believe that there are a lot more Romney supporters out there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think the polls are biased, too. I think they are polling more Democrats and they are more favored for the Democrats.

TUCHMAN (on camera): Do you think the pollsters want the Obama ticket to be in front?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think they're shaping them for Obama. I mean, the media, the liberal media, and whatever they can to help him.

TUCHMAN: Do you think that the polls that have shown that Obama is in the lead are inaccurate?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I don't believe those. I don't believe them. I know they had a poll that said that the polls were wrong. They had a poll that said the polls were wrong. So I don't -- I don't believe that.

TUCHMAN: Do you believe the poll that said the polls were wrong?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. I don't believe any of it.

TUCHMAN: It's easy to bash polls and pollsters. And not at all unusual. But it becomes more complicated when new polling comes out that indicate your candidate is in front.

(Voice-over): That's what happened the middle of our day with Ryan, when a Pew Research poll showed the Romney-Ryan ticket in the lead.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody says that the polls are skewed in one way, you know? So.

TUCHMAN (on camera): A recent poll has come out that shows Romney in front. How do you feel about that poll?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, he got a good bump, you know, out of the debate.

TUCHMAN: So you're saying you believe that poll?


TUCHMAN (voice-over): The people in this room, it is indeed tempting to now believe these latest numbers. But not everyone is ready to believe.

(On camera): The Pew Research poll shows Romney in front now. Do you think that poll is accurate?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Probably as accurate as any of them that are out there.

TUCHMAN: You don't think there's a difference?


TUCHMAN (voice-over): This woman had one thought she very much wanted to express.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think the only poll that's going to count is the one on November 6th.

TUCHMAN: You can argue with what many people here are saying, but you can't argue with that. Gary Tuchman, CNN, Rochester, Michigan.


COOPER: Well, she's right about that poll. Being the one that matters. Michigan is tightening, you saw from the polling at the top. Ohio is tightening, too, where early voting is well under way.

Chief national correspondent John King is in Columbus, Ohio, tonight. In Washington, chief political analyst, Gloria Borger.

So, John, if there was any doubt about whether or not Governor Romney got a bounce from that first debate, is that now gone with these latest battleground polls, particularly in Ohio, where you are tonight? I mean -- are we really seeing a game-change here? Are you seeing stuff on the ground?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You're seeing a shift on the ground. I don't want to call it a game-change but pre- debate, Governor Romney was down six, seven, eight, some polls had him down nine points here in Ohio. Our new poll tonight has him down four, 51-47, that's within the margin of error. So statistically you have to call that a tie.

You see Romney gaining in the suburbs, Romney gaining among independents. A big giant question mark, Anderson, here is among white women. He is still struggling there, still dealing with the blowback from that 47 percent remark. But when you look at the national polls, now you look at these battleground polls, there's no question he got a bounce from the debate.

The big question now is, can he sustain it?

COOPER: Well, let's look deeper at the Ohio poll. As you said it shows independent suburban voters, older voters, all now about evenly split. White men break for Romney by a fairly wide margin. You say there's still one key area, though, where Governor Romney needs to make serious gains. Where?

KING: It's white women. It's white women. Right now, President Obama gets a majority among white women here in the state of Ohio. Back in 2008, remember, Senator Obama won Ohio then, he only got 47 percent of the white women vote.

These are middle class women, a lot of them are working women, some of them have been laid off the last four years, some of them have had their husbands laid off the last four years. The 47 percent remark -- I had a woman come up to me in Michigan and talk about this. I met several here in Ohio today. It offended them.

Some have had to ask for food stamps or other government assistance over the past several years. It offended them and it makes them think that Romney doesn't understand their struggles, their everyday struggles of getting the kids off to school, of paying the bills, and like so. That is still a warning sign here. He is making progress but if I had to put one thing on a billboard and say to win the election, Romney better learn to deal with this, it would be that. The blowback from the 47 percent, especially, Anderson, among middle class women.

COOPER: And Gloria, you say the more broadly polls are showing suburban women are really keyed to a Romney win at this point.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. Yes. Those aren't mutually exclusive. I mean when you look at the poll, for example, on suburban women in our CNN poll today in Ohio, Obama does twice as well as Mitt Romney, 60 percent of suburban women support him, only 31 percent support Mitt Romney. So those are the people that Mitt Romney also has to appeal to, which is why you're going to probably see Ann Romney doing an awful lot in the state of Ohio.

You might even see an ad featuring Ann Romney. He has to find a way to talk to women. Yes, he does very well with suburban men, it's almost a mirror image of the -- of the women numbers, but he has to get the suburban women up. His big area that he can mine is really married suburban women, and so you're going to see them targeting a lot of ads to those women.

COOPER: John, I mean you heard the people kind of, you know, doubting the polls that go against their candidate then supporting the polls that do. You've been following polls for years. You know as well as anyone they're snapshots in time. What's the significance of them in this race right now?

KING: Well, there are so many of them and we are so polarized, in the Twitter-verse, in all of our conversations, most of the polling show us a tiny percentage of undivided because you have the Democrat and the Republican camps. So it doesn't surprise me that there's doubt. If any happens that's against your guy, you immediately start a conspiracy theory. That's the way our world works now again.

But if you look at polls, Anderson, over the years, it's not an exact science, and you're very right. It's a snapshot in time. We will see if Governor Romney can sustain this bounce. The president got one ahead of his convention. It dissipated. Governor Romney got one out of the first debate. We'll see if it lasts.

But this science, it's not exact but it's pretty darned good. If you look back over time, it's pretty darned good. So when you see these conspiracy theories you just have to say it's the politics of the moment. If you -- every now and then you see a poll that you say well, that doesn't look right. I look at ours every time before we put them on the air and the guys who do it for us do it just right.

COOPER: It's --

BORGER: You know --

COOPER: Yes, go ahead, Gloria.

BORGER: Anderson, I also think it actually kind of affects the campaign in its own way because as the old saying goes, you know, nothing succeeds like success so when you have a candidate like Mitt Romney who's been down, maybe some of his voters are less enthusiastic because they think, oh, he might not win. Suddenly, he's got the wind at his back. Suddenly they're thinking, gosh, maybe this guy can win, maybe I ought to turn out and vote. Then his base might become more enthusiastic, thinking that they can beat President Obama.

It can also work on the other side, that people think oh, President Obama really needs my vote, maybe I ought to get out there because it looks like he's behind. So I do think it can actually have an impact on the race.

COOPER: It's interesting, John, President Obama has kind of in his rhetoric changed a lot since the debate, he's become more aggressive. He's talked a lot about Big Bird out there on the campaign trail. Romney is now kind of attacking him for keeping talking about Big Bird and PBS. What do you make of where the Obama campaign is right now?

KING: I make that the Obama campaign sees an opening there. The question is -- every campaign, candidates stumble, openings come. The question is, can you recover from your mistakes, can you seize the opening? So President Obama sees we're talking about the giant scope of the federal budget then Governor Romney mentions Big Bird and PBS. Come on, he doesn't get it. That's what President Obama is trying to say.

He doesn't want to cut Wall Street, he wants to, you know, not hurt the rich people when it comes to taxes, and he wants to beat up on Big Bird. What Governor Romney says, and you saw him pivot again today, he says, well, that's just one example but you have to give examples and you have to start making choices. We have to review everything and we can't keep borrowing from China.

Look, it helps both of them actually. Conservatives love to hear their candidate beating up on PBS, beating up on government subsidies, and saying, I'm going to look at everything and cut, and if you're Obama and you're trying to reach those moderate suburban women and keep them with you, well, their children probably watch Big Bird.

COOPER: Gloria, John King, thank you very much.

Let us know what you think. We're on Facebook. Follow me on Twitter @Andersoncooper. I'm tweeting in this hour tonight.

Up next, an exclusive interview with Mitt Romney. Wolf Blitzer sat down with him, asked him what President Obama did not about the now famous hidden video in which Mr. Romney writes off the 47 percent.


WOLF BLITZER, ANCHOR, THE SITUATION ROOM: I'm curious, Governor, how did that evolution in your thinking go on from the initial reaction, once that tape came out, to what you said the other day that you were completely wrong?



COOPER: Well, Mitt Romney has reason to feel good about his campaign, where it is right now, after weeks on the defensive. As we noted he's rising in the polls, riding high from the debate, and seeing more enthusiasm both inside the party and out on the campaign trial. One good night goes a long way but one good night does not amount to a free pass.

Now many of the tough questions that he was facing before the debate remain on the table afterwards, and some of his answers during the debate are raising new questions.

Wolf Blitzer spoke at length today with the Republican candidate. Here's a portion of that interview.


BLITZER: Were you surprised by the president's performance?

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I actually thought he described pretty appropriately and pretty effectively his policies. I just happen to disagree with those policies. And when we talked about the economy, he really is not proposing anything he hasn't talked about for the last four years.

I think the challenge that he has is that his ideas are just not demonstrating the kind of results he would hope for, and people recognize that.

BLITZER: Are you confident, Governor, that Paul Ryan will take on Joe Biden Thursday night the way you took on the president?

ROMNEY: You know, I don't know how Paul will deal with this debate. Obviously the vice president has done, I don't know, 15 or 20 debates during his lifetime. Experienced debater. This is I think Paul's first debate. I may be wrong. He may have done something in high school, I don't know. But it will -- you know, it'll be a new experience for Paul, but I'm sure he'll do fine and frankly Paul has the facts on his side, he has policy on his side, and we also have results on our side.

BLITZER: What should you have said about that 47 percent?

ROMNEY: Well, Wolf, as you know, I was talking about how do you get to 50.1 percent of the vote. I'd like to get 100 percent of the vote but I figure that's not going to happen so I was trying to tell contributors how I get to 50.1 percent.

I think it's always a perilous course for a candidate to start talking about the mathematics of an election. My campaign is about talking about how to get 100 percent of the Americans to have a more bright and prosperous future.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: Mitt Romney talking to Wolf Blitzer. You can watch more of that interview at

Let's "Dig Deeper" now with Bill Burton, the senior strategist for the leading pro-Obama super PAC, and Ross Douthat, the conservative columnist at the "New York Times." His latest piece explores whether Mitt Romney emerged last week in Denver as a man who can lead and shape the Republican Party.

Bill, there aren't just national polls showing a slip for President Obama. These are now swing state polls. And a big reason why was the president's big advantage with women seems to be slipping away. Why do you think that is?

BILL BURTON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, I think that if you look at most of these polls, and we have our own polls that we did, we just got Nevada and Wisconsin back this morning, the president's support has actually been pretty stable. What Romney did was get a little boost for himself as a result of the debate performance and that was bound to happen.

You get closer to the election, the race is bound to tighten. The president wasn't going to go out and win all of these states by seven, eight, nine points. The result is going to be 51-52 to 48-49, somewhere in that range. So I think that, you know, what you're seeing here is that Republicans and people who are predisposed to liking Romney came home. They decided that yes, Mitt Romney was their candidate. But that doesn't mean that he was able to really effectively define who he was and where his campaign would take this country where he'd like.

COOPER: But, Bill, are you -- are you arguing that President Obama did what he needed to do in that debate, that he actually did well in that debate?

BURTON: I'm arguing that the race has remained very stable since the debate. And even though Romney may have gotten a boost, the race is not fundamentally changed in many of these places. And if you look at some place like Ohio, keep in mind, that CNN poll had him 51-47. President Obama won Ohio by four points. So I don't think they were at a point where people need to panic. In a close race you've got to be attentive to any of the shifts in the dynamics, but at this point, I think that the race is pretty stable.

COOPER: Ross, do you see a shift in the dynamic? Because the president has had a massive advantage when it comes to the electoral map which is much bigger than his national lead has ever been and we're just getting the first wave of these polls now, but, I mean, do you think there's a sense of fundamentals could shift on that front as well?

ROSS DOUTHAT, OP-ED COLUMNIST, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Sure. I mean I think Bill's general point that now is not the time for Democrats to panic is pretty sound. Right? I think the president still has an advantage, he's still ahead narrowly in some of these new swing state polls, but obviously, if you had sat down and told Obama staffers, you know, that Mitt Romney was about to get the largest post-debate bounce I think of any debate in the last few decades, they wouldn't have been terribly happy with that idea.

So is the race suddenly turned completely against the president? No. But has there been a real marked and potentially significant shift, that's pretty obvious, I'd say.

COOPER: And, Bill, I mean, in the interview with Wolf Blitzer today, Governor Romney continued to kind of attack the middle on his tax cut plan. As you know the Obama campaign had long ago decided to paint Governor Romney as a hardcore conservative instead of focusing on flip-flops on certain issues or changes in positions over the years.

Do you think the campaign picked the wrong strategy?

BURTON: Well, I think there's a difference between saying that he's a flip-flopper and saying he's just being fundamentally dishonest about what his plans are for the country. Because the truth is, all of his economic plans have been to benefit the people who are at the top because it's just his economic philosophy, that when the people at the top are doing better, the rest of the country is going to do better.

We know that that doesn't work, but what you saw Mitt Romney do today which was the same thing as he did in the debate, is say that actually, the wealthiest Americans are not going to see a tax cut. I'm actually more interested in what Ross has to say about this than what I have to say, because if that's true, it undercuts his fundamental economic argument that tax cuts for everything are the thing that's going to drive this country.

DOUTHAT: Well, I don't think that that's been Romney's fundamental argument. Right? I mean, I think Romney has kept his plans vague and this has been true across the board and I and plenty of other people have criticized him for it. But one of the advantages of keeping your plans vague is that then you can flesh them out down the stretch, as I think he's doing, without actually being fundamentally dishonest.

I think actually the flip-flopper charge is a little more apt than the liar charge here. I mean Romney has emphasized different things at different times, but heading into the home stretch, he's emphasizing the idea of a broad tax reform of the kind that frankly both Democrats and Republicans have supported rather than an across- the-board tax cut for the rich.

And I think it's not surprising that it's benefited him. I think, in fact, the big question for in Romneyland is why didn't he sort of tack in this direction, say, at the convention or over the summer. I think he's sort of making up a lot of ground but the amount of time left is shorter than it needed to be.

COOPER: Ross and Bill, appreciate you guys being on. Thank you.

BURTON: Thank you. DOUTHAT: Thank you, Anderson.

COOPER: We've got breaking news tonight. On the eve of a congressional hearing about the deadly attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, the State Department -- well, they're pushing a new narrative. Just ahead, what officials told our Jill Dougherty. Ahead.


COOPER: Well, the pharmacy at the center of a deadly fungal meningitis outbreak wouldn't talk to our chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta. They wouldn't even let him inside. But what Sanjay saw behind the facility is raising new questions tonight. We're "Keeping Them Honest."


COOPER: Breaking news tonight about the deadly attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya on September 11th. U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens, three other Americans were killed. You know that. At the time of the attack, a backlash was building over an anti-Muslim video in other parts of the world. Various officials in the Obama administration initially said a protest outside the consulate had turned violent.

Tonight, though, on the eve of a congressional hearing about the security situation in Benghazi, prior to the attack, a new narrative is emerging from the State Department.

Jill Dougherty joins me now.

So, Jill, there has now -- there's a question about whether there were protests outside the consulate. The State Department is now saying tonight there was nothing out of the ordinary, that all was quiet before the attack took place. There was no protest. That contradicts what we've heard from other corners of the administration even days after the attack. How can that be?

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, you know, they did not specifically say there were no protests. But I just checked what one of those officials said, and he said you'd have to ask others about that, but that is not our conclusion. And then this official also said, I'm not saying we even have a conclusion. So that's still very, very unclear.

But what this official does say tonight, Anderson, is that it was quiet, it was evening in Benghazi, 8:00, 9:00, 9:00 the ambassador, Chris Stevens, retires to his chambers at that compound and then at 9:40, they hear all of a sudden the guards hear noise outside, they hear firing and then all hell breaks loose. So up to that point, they say there was nothing out of the ordinary that day.

COOPER: But isn't that -- I mean, didn't Ambassador Susan Rice come forward, I think, was it on Sunday, saying that this was a result of that video? DOUGHERTY: Yes, correct. But that's early on and initially --

COOPER: But it's still days after the attack, though.

DOUGHERTY: Absolutely. I think it was probably five days, if I'm not mistaken. But that was the early story. Later, the administration began to clarify, as it says, it got more intelligence information. But I think you would have to say that initial reports were contradictory and you're hearing tonight that, you know, you'd have to ask others about that. So this official wasn't going into it. What they're saying is they're laying out a timeline of specifically what happened.

And, Anderson, it was really a pretty riveting detail, very disturbing detail, and quite specific about what happened.

COOPER: What I don't get, though, is -- I mean there were a number of people who were taken from that consulate to the annex and eventually evacuated. We know the deaths that occurred. But people who were there, I assume, in -- you know, were immediately debriefed or even in the day or two after the attack were debriefed and would have told officials, well, everything was quiet and -- then this attack happened. I just don't get why five days later, Susan Rice is going forward saying this was a result of a protest if they had already debriefed people and said well, all was quiet.

DOUGHERTY: That is a very good question, Anderson. I don't think it's been answered adequately. We do know that of course, there were demonstrations in other countries. Maybe it was conflated to some type of demonstration there. I have no idea. But this could come up. You know, there will be a hearing up on Capitol Hill tomorrow, Wednesday -- And ...

COOPER: I'm pretty sure it's going to come up.

DOUGHERTY: And it's likely ...

COOPER: Yeah, without a doubt.

DOUGHERTY: Yeah. One of the key things that I'm sure they want to talk about.

COOPER: Yeah, people there, you know, some -- some in Congress are demanding cables to see what the ambassador was reporting in the weeks and months ahead. They are also saying -- I mean the State Department is actually saying they don't know how the ambassador made it to the hospital, and my understanding is the people at the hospital found his phone and started actually calling numbers, is that true?

DOUGHERTY: They did. Well, the security people who were around him had to leave. It was extremely chaotic, very dark, and don't forget that there had been diesel fuel poured around the building that he was in and lit on fire.

COOPER: But see, they're reporting that, but our Arwa Damon, who was on the site, said she didn't see evidence of burn marks on the outside of the structure. She saw burn marks on the inside of the structure.

DOUGHERTY: That could be.


DOUGHERTY: There were - I may be misspeaking, but they were pouring this ...

COOPER: No, but I know that that's what initially the report was, that there had been diesel fuel poured outside. So, again, that seems like another contradictory piece of information.

DOUGHERTY: A little unclear. But in any case, they did set that building on fire and so what happened was the ambassador eventually ends up at the hospital, but again, unclear how. They fish out a telephone that is in his pocket. They begin at the hospital, these are the Libyans, in the hospital dialing those numbers trying to get somebody, and that is how they got in touch and said, you know, we have this man and he turned out to be the ambassador.

COOPER: The timing of this kind of a conversation, release of information, I mean it can't be a coincidence that this is on the eve of these congressional hearings, is it?

DOUGHERTY: Oh, absolutely. I mean, you know, as one person on the staff said, it's a prebuttal and in a way, it is. Because the main thing, I would say one main point, Anderson, that came out tonight is their assertion that this was such an unprecedented massive attack that nothing that they could have done, any of the improvements they had been asked for, some of which were done, some of which were not, nothing would have been able to protect them from this massive attack. In fact, the official said it's unprecedented in recent diplomatic history. So that's the message that they're going in with.

COOPER: Well, think a lot of people in the Congress are going to have an issue with that tomorrow. We'll see -- we'll see what comes out of those hearings. Jill Dougherty, I appreciate it. Thanks very much for the reporting.

There's a lot more we're following tonight. Isha is here with the "360" bulletin. Isha.

ISHA SESAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, the Pakistani Taliban has taken responsibility for the shooting of a 14-year-old activist. The attackers stopped the school van she was in, specifically asked for her and opened fire. The teen is hospitalized in stable condition. She's known for her anti-Taliban writings advocating educational opportunities for girls.

Massive protests in the streets of Athens, Greece today. About 25,000 demonstrators not rolling out the welcome mat for German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is meeting with her Greek counterpart. Critics see her as the enforcer of austerity measures that have Greece battling massive unemployment and other financial hardships.

British police have charged a Polish man with defacing a valuable painting by a famed artist Mark Rothko at London's Paint Museum. The man tarred the artwork with black paint Sunday afternoon.

And Anderson, check this out: in Kansas, a couple reels in an 84 pound catfish ...


SESAY: ... on the Missouri River. They are actually keeping the massive fish alive in a swimming pool hoping someone will adopt it and stop it from becoming catfish pellets.


SESAY: Or fillets. I think (inaudible) pellets.


SESAY: Two different things.

COOPER: Delicious. Yeah. Definitely two different things. All right. Isha ...

SESAY: Let's move on.

COOPER: Are you doing all right there?

SESAY: Yeah. Catfish pellets.

We got a really stunning report coming up. Our medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta has uncovered some shocking new details about the compounding pharmacy that the company that made those tainted steroid injections linked to a deadly meningitis outbreak. What Sanjay found outside the facility when he went to Massachusetts looking for answers. We're keeping them honest next.


COOPER: Jerry Sandusky's victims speak out at his sentencing. Their heartbreaking words and what Sandusky himself said, when 360 continues.


COOPER: Another "Keeping Them Honest" report tonight. New and frankly stunning details about the company that made the tainted steroid injections that's linked to that deadly fungal meningitis outbreak.

Now, at least 119 people have been sickened so far. Twelve have died. As many as 13,000 may have been exposed. The New England compounding center is based in Framingham, Massachusetts. This isn't the first trouble it's had.

Chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta has been trying to get answers from the center's owner, the owner and operator, but getting anyone to talk to him has been incredibly difficult. He actually went to the compounding center today and was asked to leave. Take a look. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're with CNN. We're trying to get a hold of somebody to talk to about what's been going on here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Unfortunately, I have to ask you guys to leave the property.

GUPTA: They literally are telling us to leave the parking lot, not even be here. We know people from the FDA are inside. Obviously, a lot of cars in the parking lot. People are working here in some capacity. But this is another example of just how ridiculous it has been to try and get any information whatsoever.


COOPER: Sanjay joins me now. Sanjay, you found something outside behind the company that kind of surprised you. What was it?

GUPTA: Yes. We were sort of waiting across the street from the facility, and a couple of people who are business owners in that area, who also know about this, said, you know, there is a facility behind this compounding facility you should take a look at. So we actually drove around. I don't know if you can see some of the images, Anderson.

COOPER: It looks like a garbage dump.

GUPTA: Literally, right -- absolutely it does. It looks like a garbage dump. And again, this backs up right to the -- this compounding center, a place where they process medications for human use. I'd never seen anything like it.

The signs say recycling facility, but there's all kinds of waste in this area. I mean there was a huge area. We even saw a vehicle come in that actually had a health label on it that seemed to also be depositing some sort of waste.

We come to find out that the person who owns the NECC, the New England Compounding Center, also owns this, this essentially waste site, as well, and they are literally part of the same territory.

I'd never seen anything like it, Anderson. When you talk about sterility, this is a place, as you mentioned, that had been cited in the past for poor hygiene at the facility, and now ten years later, in 2012, you see that. You see these pretty stunning images.

COOPER: So a facility that produces mass quantities of human drugs also shares a property with a garbage dump.

Explain who actually regulates pharmacies like NECC.

GUPTA: Well, this is very interesting. I have to tell you, this is -- some of this is stuff that I have learned, as well, and, you know, I practice medicine. I use these same sort of steroid injections on patients. You don't always know where they're coming from.

A manufacturer will make a medication. It may go to a compounding facility to either divvy up the doses or to create the different types of medication with the same initial ingredients, and usually, it's just for a couple of patients. That's the way it's supposed to be. But in this case they were setting up tens of thousands of doses.

The FDA, which is a federal organization, does not oversee this. This is done at the state level.

We talked to people who oversee this at the licensing level, and they say, "Look, when a company applies for a license, we go visit it. We may give them a license at that time and then only return if there's a problem."

But the FDA really has no authority over something like this. Even though it's medications for human use, they have no authority unless a problem presents itself, Anderson.

COOPER: That's surprising to me. I want to bring in our senior medical correspondent also, Elizabeth Cohen.

Elizabeth, you've spoken with someone who actually testified before Congress nearly ten years ago about this problem.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, Anderson. Her name is Sarah Sellers, and she's an expert in the sterile compounding of these drugs. And she worked at one of these compounding pharmacies, and she was horrified by the non-sterile conditions that she found. And so let's listen to that 2003 congressional testimony.


SARAH SELLERS, EXPERT IN STERILE COMPOUNDING OF DRUGS: Patients were unknowingly exposed to drugs that did not meet strict federal standards for safety and efficacy, manufacturing or labeling to ensure safe use. That we have a flourishing unregulated drug industry within our own borders.


COHEN: So a few years later, Sarah Sellers goes to work for the FDA. She says, "I'm going to go clean things up." She expects to go work on updated guidelines to help make these pharmacies more sterile, and then, Anderson, she found that she didn't -- she didn't work on it. She said that really no one was doing much work on it, and six years later, those guidelines have never been published. Everyone is just waiting for them.

COOPER: Do we know why they haven't been written or published?

COHEN: You know, she said there was so much political pressure not to publish these guidelines. And she says, look, the compounding pharmacies make a lot of money. She said the International Academy of Compounding Pharmacists gave money to elected officials. And in fact, we checked with the Center for Responsive Politics, and they said that this group of compounding pharmacists gave more than $1 million to elected officials over the past ten years.

Now, I contacted that group, Anderson, and they said, "Look, we want these guidelines as much or even more than anyone else And we've been trying to get them for years, and we're frustrated, too, that they're not out yet."

COOPER: Well, I'm sure some of the people who have had these injections would like these things more than anyone else.

Sanjay, these compounding pharmacies, it's not like they're mom- and-pop shops, I guess, like they used to be. There are some 3,000 in the U.S. that are producing really large quantities of these custom drugs. I just find it amazing that the FDA doesn't have any authority over them. What's their response to all this?

GUPTA: Well, you know, they'll say, look, I mean these are medications that are made by particular manufacturers, and their rationale is "As a compounding facility we're not actually manufacturing the medication, and we may be dividing them up into different dosing, adding them to other things, for example, a medication that doesn't taste good, they may add flavoring, for example, so the child may take that medication.

But you're absolutely right, a lot of pharmacies, maybe even ones by you, Anderson, will compound their own medicine. So if you go there and you want a slightly different medication, they may be able to create that for you.

I don't think the intent, when these compounding centers sort of came about, was ever that suddenly it would be 17,000 doses in so many different states around the country. It sounds like a federal issue which is exactly what Elizabeth is talking about.

COOPER: We're going to continue to follow it, obviously. Sanjay Gupta, appreciate it.

Elizabeth Cohen, thanks very much.

Coming up, "Crime & Punishment": convicted serial child molester Jerry Sandusky learns his fate, faces his victims. Our Jason Carroll was inside the courtroom for the final sentencing hearing. He joins us next.


COOPER: "Crime & Punishment" now. An emotional hearing today in a packed Pennsylvania courtroom where a judge sentenced Jerry Sandusky to at least 30 years in prison, effectively a life sentence for the 68-year-old former Penn State assistant football coach. He'll be close to 98 when he's eligible for parole.

He'd faced a maximum of 400 years for dozens of charges stemming from his sexual abuse of ten boys over a 15-year period. Some of his victims actually spoke in court today. So did Sandusky, maintaining his innocence and painting himself as the victim. This was just hours after he had released that audio statement claiming his innocence and blaming his victims for falsely accusing him. Here's what the prosecutor had to say.


JOSEPH MCGETTIGAN, LEAD PROSECUTOR IN SANDUSKY TRIAL: His statement today was a masterpiece of banal self-delusion, completely untethered from reality and without any acceptance of responsibility. It was entirely self-focused as if he again were the victim. It was, in short, ridiculous.


COOPER: Jason Carroll was in the courtroom today. He's been reporting on this really from the beginning. Jason, as I mentioned before, a lot of the victims spoke out today. What did they say?

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, there was a lot of emotion in the courtroom today, Anderson, as the victims stood up and talked about the years of abuse they suffered at the hands of Jerry Sandusky.

Victim No. 6, he stood up, addressed the court. He did not look at Jerry Sandusky. He cried as he spoke. He said, "That night, you told me you were the tickle monster so you could touch my 11-year-old body. I realize how much you manipulated me."

Then there was victim No. 5. He cried, as well, and once again did not look at Sandusky as he addressed the court, saying the sentence will never erase what he did to me. It will never make me whole. He must pay for his crimes. Take into account the tears, pain and private anguish.

And then there was victim No. 4. He was different, Anderson. Because he was somewhat defiant. He was defiant during the trial, defiant today as well. He did look at Jerry Sandusky not once, not twice, but several times as he spoke. He said, "I want you to know I do not forgive you. I don't know if I will ever forgive you."

So a lot of emotion, a lot of anger in the courtroom, as well.

COOPER: Did Sandusky look at the victims?

CARROLL: He did. He did throughout the entire proceeding. When each victim got up to speak, he looked directly at them. You know, he was criticized today and throughout the trial for smirking, smiling.

Jerry Sandusky defended himself, Anderson, basically saying, "I smile through the pain. That's what my family does. We smile through the pain. We are not quitters, and we're not giving up now."

COOPER: And what did he say in court? Because I mean, the statement he put out on the radio the night before was pretty stunning, you know, claiming he was the victim of a conspiracy, basically blaming everybody.

CARROLL: Well, if anyone was looking for an apology, you were not going to hear that from Jerry Sandusky, not tonight, possibly not ever. He still maintains his innocence. He said, quote, "I feel the need to talk not for arrogance but from my heart. I'm filled with emotion and determination. I did not do these disgusting acts. Others may make me out to be a monster, but they cannot take away my heart."

Again, Sandusky painting himself as the victim here.

COOPER: Yes. I also understand he said something like don't close the door on this with this sentencing. Obviously he wants to appeal. Does he really have any grounds for an appeal?

CARROLL: Well, most legal experts that I've spoken to say that he does not. Even so, Joe Amendola says he does have grounds for appeal. He says he did not get enough time to prepare for trial. Listen to what he had to tell me right outside the courtroom.


JOE AMENDOLA, SANDUSKY'S ATTORNEY: What about the possibility that Jerry is innocent? Didn't commit these horrific acts? What was the harm in giving him another six months to prove that, to do more research, to do more investigative work, which is what we were in the process of doing?


CARROLL: So once again, look for an appeal. Jerry Sandusky basically telling the court he's been reading, he's been writing. In terms of what he's been reading while he's been incarcerated, he's been reading a lot of books about people who have been persecuted -- Anderson.

COOPER: Jason Carroll, I appreciate the reporting.

Let's get the latest on the other stories we're following. Isha is back with a "360 Bulletin" -- Isha.

SESAY: Anderson, radical Muslim cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri today pleaded not guilty to 11 counts of terrorism. The charges involve the 1998 kidnapping of 16 westerners in Yemen and setting up an Islamic Jihad training camp in Oregon in 1999. A trial is set for August.

A "360 Follow": a few weeks ago we told you about Mike Rioux, the U.S. Army veteran whose time in Afghanistan left him with a traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder. He and his wife fought for over a year to get him full disability coverage from the Department of Veterans Affairs only to have most of the claim rejected. Now Rioux's wife tells us the V.A. has finally approved his full benefits, but they're still working to get his back pay.

A family in Georgia has been reunited with their dog almost five years after she went missing. The dog ended up at a shelter in Georgia and then a husky rescue in Illinois. She was about to be adopted when the rescue group found she had a microchip that they used to track down the owners. Yes.

COOPER: That's nice.

SESAY: A happy reunion there.

COOPER: Yeah, beautiful dog there. Isha, thanks.

A student gets told that he'll basically never amount to anything. Sometimes revenge is sweet even if it takes more than 60 years and is a highly intellectual form of revenge. I'll explain coming up on the "RidicuList."


COOPER: Time now for the "RidicuList." And tonight we're adding bad report cards, because we now have incontrovertible evidence that they don't mean a thing.

Take for instance the report card of a certain 15-year-old student back in 1949. He was last in his class in the subject of biology and was told his dreams of becoming a scientist were ridiculous. The school master actually wrote that on his report card, used the word "ridiculous" and everything, and also wrote this, and I quote, "His work has been far from satisfactory. He will not listen but will insist on doing his work in his own way."

Let's fast forward now 63 years, and yesterday that unsatisfactory renegade who wouldn't listen won the Nobel Prize. His name is Sir John Gurdon. He and another scientist won the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for their pioneering stem cell research revolutionizing the concept of how cells and organisms develop.

So I'd tell you more about it, but I'm not even going to pretend to know what I'm talking about. So I'm just going to stop right there.

Let's just say I was a bit of a renegade in school, too, at least as science was concerned. I liked to do my own thing, my own way. And by that I mean I played a lot of Dungeons and Dragons. Yes, I was a nerd, particularly in middle school. Anyway, Gurdon still remembers that report card.


SIR JOHN GURDON, NOBEL PRIZE WINNER: I was at the school where you did no science until the age of 15, and then I did one term of science. And the school master wrote this report, the details of which I can't exactly remember, but the main thrust, the main gist of it was that he had heard that Gurdon was interested in doing science and that this was a completely ridiculous idea, because there was no hope whatever of my doing science and any time spent on it would be a total waste of time both on my part and the part of the person having to teach him.


COOPER: He almost got it word for word. That 1949 report card actually said and I quote, "I believe he has ideas about becoming a scientist. On his present showing, this is quite ridiculous. If he can't learn simple biological facts, he would have no chance of doing the work of a specialist and it would be sheer waste of time both on his part and on those who have to teach him."

Gurdon, by the way, still has that report card. He says it is the only thing he's ever framed. And now he has a Nobel Prize to go right alongside it. Congratulations. This is it for this edition of 360 at 8:00. We'll see you again one hour from now, another edition of 360, 10 p.m. Eastern, latest on the election, the race, things we are watching. "PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT" starts now.