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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees
Millions Still in the Dark in Florida; Miers Withdraws
Aired October 27, 2005 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everybody. I'm Heidi Collins in for Anderson Cooper. In Florida, four days after Wilma, millions of people still in the dark and struggling to get by. 360 starts now.
ANNOUNCER: In South Florida, the president arrives. But where's the gas? Another day of long lines waiting for fuel, waiting for supplies and above all else electricity.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have one candle that's left. I shut it off this morning because I want to have it tonight in case we, you know, the flashlight runs out.
ANNOUNCER: Could this have been avoided?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People had ample time to prepare. It isn't that hard to get 72 hours worth of food and water.
ANNOUNCER: But just how easy is it? A 360 fact check.
Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers drops a bombshell.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She felt that withdrawal was in the best interest of the United States of America.
ANNOUNCER: Not the ending President Bush wanted.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: She is going to be on the bench. She'll be confirmed.
ANNOUNCER: What went wrong? We go behind the scenes for 12 crucial hours. An inside look at the unraveling of a nomination.
Live from the CNN broadcast center in New York, this is ANDERSON COOPER 360.
COLLINS: It has been four days since Wilma hit, four long, difficult days for millions of Floridians. Some progress, but for many it is still simply not enough.
At this moment, the state's largest supplier of electricity says about 2 million people who lost power now have it back. That leaves some 4 million people still in the dark. Many of them will be waiting weeks before the lights are back on.
President Bush visited South Florida today to survey the damage. Arriving in Miami while the drama over Harriet Miers was playing out. He made a stop at the National Weather Center as well.
And tonight, nearly 3,000 people remain in shelters in 11 counties across Florida. Several thousand Americans remain stranded in Mexico. The State Department says it has helped bring home some 8,000 stranded tourists so far.
The lack of power is creating enormous problems at the gas pump. Without electricity stations can't pump the fuel they have. And many stations that do have power have run out of gasoline. All this making for another very long and frustrating day. Here's CNN's David Mattingly.
DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the three days since Hurricane Wilma, Raul Gonzalez has driven dozens of miles along Florida's ravaged east coast and stopped at more than 20 gas stations all powerless or empty.
RAUL GONZALEZ, FLORIDA RESIDENT: It's been like no sleep. We've been getting up early trying to go to a gas station. But when we get there, we stand in huge line. By the time we get close to the line there's no gas.
MATTINGLY: Without it, he and his girlfriend Victoria Fernandez can't get to work. And now 30 miles from home with their tank almost empty they have nowhere else to go.
GONZALEZ: We won't be able to go anywhere. We'll be stuck down here in Miami Beach.
MATTINGLY: Gonzalez arrived at 4:30 in the morning, putting him near the front of the line now five blocks long waiting on a gasoline truck that is eight-and-a-half hours overdue. And with each passing hour, he says the challenge is keeping a cool head.
GONZALEZ: The lack of everything that you need, necessities, a lot of times puts people to just become a lot of times hostile. And if you don't have either the wisdom or the patience or the understanding, I guess, you become unruly.
MATTINGLY: At one point, Gonzalez has words with another driver. A new line formed on a cross street and cut in front of their car.
GONZALEZ: We were here earlier, before you got here. So, my girlfriend needs to get in front of you.
MATTINGLY: To keep tempers from flaring, police take charge and organize a single long line.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come around. Come around. MATTINGLY: There have been reports of chaos and fist fights in other storm struck areas as the demand for gasoline intensifies. But suddenly and for a moment, all worries disappear.
GONZALEZ: Buy this man a beer right now.
MATTINGLY: The overdue truck arrives. The tanks are filled. And the pumps go into action.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Gasolina.
GONZALEZ: This is the only time that gas spells relief.
MATTINGLY: But the relief is only temporary. The 25 gallons of gas may last a week. And if power is not restored soon to large portions of this heavily populated region, gas stations will not open. Gonzalez may be back in the hunt for gasoline again.
MATTINGLY: Gas stations are high on the priority list for getting that electricity back on. In some areas, officials are also working to get generators to their gas stations that are now off the grid -- Heidi.
COLLINS: David Mattingly from Miami Beach. Thank you, David.
Maggie Duque speaks for Florida Power and Light, the largest supplier of electricity in Florida. She is in Coral Gables tonight to help us understand the situation there. Thanks for being with us again, Maggie.
How many people are still without power?
MAGGIE DUQUE, FLORIDA POWER AND LIGHT: We still have over 2 million customers without power.
COLLINS: Why so many?
DUQUE: However we have -- however we restored 1.2.
This was a devastating storm. There was quite a bit of damage. And, also, we had over 22,000 square miles which was in the path of the storm. And in those areas we had the most congested areas in south Florida, specifically. Which is Dade county, Broward and Palm Beach.
COLLINS: But Maggie, does it seem fair to ask the question why it's taking so long for this power to come back in such large areas? For example, Broward County 95 percent of the people who live there, 1.7 million people who live there are still without power tonight. If you count Monday four days after the storm.
DUQUE: Well, it is definitely a fair question. Unfortunately, storms are a little bit like accidents. It's not always -- we're not always able to predict the damage and all that is going to come out of it. Broward specifically was hit very hard. It was in the south, southeast part of the storm which was projected to be the hardest damage. And the hardest strong force winds.
So some of this obviously we talked about substations, transmission lines and some of the structure received quite a bit of damage in that area.
COLLINS: Is there something in particular that is broken, though, that cannot be fixed or that's taking so long? Help us understand exactly what the problem is?
DUQUE: Well, there is nothing specifically or one thing in particular. It's actually many things. And all of them take time to restore.
Again, given the damage that was sustained. For example, I mentioned this storm was very different to the previous ones, because we had over 260 substations out of our 400 plus that were damaged. And the structure itself was not damaged. It was more of debris, trees and things that made them just needed to be cleaned to make everything safe and put back on again.
COLLINS: Do those substations seem to you and to those that you talk with at your company, Florida Power and Light, seem to be particularly vulnerable? Is there a way they could have been protected better?
DUQUE: No. No. Absolutely not. They were not vulnerable. As I said, the structure part of it was definitely still in place. And we had never experienced this before. We have had many storms in the last couple years. And also of course Andrew which we learned quite a bit
from. But this is quite different. We will be analyzing and learning what has happened here that's different and see how we can for the future protect ourselves better for these type of situations.
COLLINS: But I think the question tonight has still got to be when will the power come back on?
DUQUE: Well, and we're giving at this point in time, conservative estimates. We certainly want to give accurate information. And as we explained before, every storm is different. And until we do a visual inspections and assessments of all the damage it's very hard to provide an exact, or a very estimate.
I mean, if it were to rain, for example, it would put us behind. It's not the same to have a blown fuse as it is to have four or five poles behind a house where it's not accessible by truck and it needs to be carried by hand.
COLLINS: Do you have power, Maggie?
DUQUE: No. I don't have power.
COLLINS: You understand the frustration then, I'm sure.
DUQUE: I totally understand. I was 23 days with Andrew without power. So, I definitely understand the frustration. And we are definitely doing everything we can.
COLLINS: All right. I'm sure you will be assessing the situation every single minute. I sure hope so. Maggie Duque, we appreciate your time tonight. Thanks a lot.
Still to come on 360, doctors and nurses entrusted to save lives but did they kill in an act of mercy? A major development tonight. We'll have the very latest from New Orleans.
Plus, we're suffering through high gas prices but is someone else celebrating? A shocking new report.
And she's gone but was it really her own decision? The inside story from Washington, what caused Harriet Miers to withdraw her Supreme Court nomination?
COLLINS: A commander of the militant group Islamic Jihad is dead after an Israeli rocket hit his car. That leads tonight's "World in 360." The commander, his assistant and two others were killed in the blast north of Gaza City; 14 people were wounded. The strike comes one day after a suicide bombing in Israel killed four people. Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for that blast. Israeli forces say the commander killed today was responsible for planning attacks.
The U.N. may have to ground helicopters carrying food and supplies to Pakistani victims of this month's earthquakes. It says it does not have enough money to keep them going much longer. The U.N. has been trying to raise $550 million for relief, but fund-raisers so far have brought in only 113 million.
And in the Netherlands, a fire at a prison complex near an airport in Amsterdam killed 11 illegal aliens awaiting deportation. Eleven detainees escaped, but six were captured. The Dutch government has ordered an investigation into whether safety was sacrificed at the center.
Erica Hill from HEADLINE NEWS joining us now with some of the other stories we're following tonight. Hi, Erica.
ERICA HILL, HEADLINE NEWS: Hey, Heidi. We're getting some interesting developments, courtesy actually of Hurricane Wilma. Cuba actually changing its tune. This is really a surprise move. The communist nation now accepting a U.S. offer of emergency assistance in the wake of Hurricane Wilma. Three American aid officials are heading to the island nation to make an on-site assessment of the damage. State Department officials say they can't remember the Cuban government ever accepting such an offer from the U.S.
In Iraq, U.S. troops at their highest level since the war began. Right now, there are 161,000 troops stationed there. Forces were added in advance of this month's vote on the constitution. A similar number of troops will likely be in place for the December elections.
Congressman Tom DeLay is accusing Democrats of engaging in the politics of personal destruction. Today, the former House majority leader sent a letter to constituents and contributors, saying conservative politics are being criminalized. DeLay himself recently has been charged with money laundering.
And in Rome, Italy, better make sure you walk that dog. The city has passed a new animal rights bill to fine people who don't regularly take care of their pets. Those who don't cake their dogs on a daily stroll could be fined up to about 600 euros -- that's about 600 bucks. Cats, fish, even reptiles are also covered under the new bill. In fact, Heidi, one thing that was interesting to me, goldfish apparently can't be around bowls anymore, because someone had said that it might make them go blind.
COLLINS: Or be really dizzy.
HILL: Or be dizzy, which may lead to blindness. I don't know.
COLLINS: OK, watching out for the pets tonight. Erica, thanks so much. We'll see you again in about 30 minutes.
We're going to go to CNN's Drew Griffin in New Orleans now. He has the very latest on a story that is still unfolding at Memorial Medical Center. Drew, what can you tell us tonight?
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Heidi, at the very same hospital under investigation for euthanasia, possible euthanasia, by the attorney general of Louisiana, some detectives, sheriff detectives from Albuquerque, New Mexico, are now coming forward to CNN and say while they were here in New Orleans on September 5th, inside that hospital, they saw what to them was a murder scene -- a woman, a young woman murdered on an examining table in the emergency room of that hospital. These detectives coming to CNN in an exclusive interview that we're going to show tonight at 8:00. Here is one of those detectives who say he is haunted by the images he saw.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The same thing, I have nightmare, kind of -- kind of went away. I think about them every day.
It was horrific to see. I think about it all the time. I don't think I'll ever get it out of my head.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRIFFIN: Detective Anthony Madrono (ph) and four other deputies from the Bernalillo County Sheriff's Department, again, who were in New Orleans, all say they witnessed the same body. The mystery is, no one in New Orleans knows anything about it. The police deny there was a murder at Memorial. The coroner can't find the body that these detectives are talking about. Tonight at 8:00, we'll lay out this murder mystery at Memorial Hospital, in a full report -- Heidi.
COLLINS: Why did they bring other police into this, Drew?
GRIFFIN: The other police came from all over the country in the chaotic days after Katrina hit, and New Orleans Police Department was basically out of commission. These were volunteers, 40 of them that came from New Mexico, to patrol the streets for New Orleans PD. They basically were acting as New Orleans police officers. One of their missions was to sweep that Memorial Hospital of looters after the evacuation. That's when they say they came upon the body of this woman murdered in the ER.
COLLINS: Are they giving you any information, Drew, at this point about how she may have been murdered?
GRIFFIN: Yes, they are. Specifically they say it appeared to them she had a gunshot wound to the head. And again, these are the descriptions of detectives and sheriff's deputies, who have seen their share of murder victims. They also told me that she appeared, this nurse or hospital worker or woman, I should say, in hospital type gown, that she was sexually assaulted as well.
COLLINS: Drew Griffin coming to us from New Orleans tonight. We look forward to your full report coming up at 8:00. Drew, thanks.
Coming up, high gas prices got you feeling low? How much profit do you think Exxon made last year? Go ahead, guess. The magic number is next.
Also tonight, are desperately needed supplies getting through to Florida? And a little later -- keeping your kids safe on Halloween. A measure some are calling drastic and some are calling just plain common sense. Protecting your kids on 360 next.
COLLINS: This is a very bad time for those of us who buy gas. On the other hand for those of us who sell it, well, that's another story altogether. I do not sell it. Boy, they are making money. CNN's Ali Velshi joining us now to talk about the flip side of high prices which, of course, is high profits.
ALI VELSHI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely.
COLLINS: So, what's the bottom line here? What is the news of the day?
VELSHI: Most profitable company in America is Exxonmobil and in the three months between June and September they brought in more money, more money than any company in the history of the world and money has brought in: $100 billion, $100 billion. That's not profit. Take out all the costs. They come up with $9.9 billion in profit in three months. That comes 24 hours after Royal Dutch Shell announced $9.2 billion. Round that off the top five companies, BP, total, and Chevron, $26 billion in profit in three months.
Now, forget the profit for a second. Just go back to revenue, the amount of money that they collect. $100 billion from Chevron -- from Exxonmobil. Let's put this into perspective for you. We measure a company by the total number of shares and the total price of those shares. How much it would cost to buy a company. Exxonmobil is not America's most valuable company. General Electric is America's most valuable company.
COLLINS: Light bulbs.
VELSHI: All right. Light bulbs. Measly $42 million in the same three-month period. All right. Home Depot, sell a lot of stuff. A piece of wood.
COLLINS: Gas is a lot more expensive than a light bulb.
VELSHI: They sell jet engines and stuff like that. They sell everything. $22 billion over at Home Depot.
Citibank, don't show the number. It's my Citibank Card. Citigroup, $21.5 billion. Microsoft. Everybody owns something from Microsoft in their house, just $10 billion in the last three months.
And Apple, because everybody has one of these, poor company, just brought in $4 billion in the last three months.
Forget the numbers. Don't worry about the numbers. Add those all together. They didn't bring in as much money as Exxonmobil, one company.
COLLINS: But it is a business to sell gas. It's not illegal.
VELSHI: Nothing illegal. You would think from listening to some people on Capitol Hill today that it is illegal. They want to tax these companies. They want to have a windfall tax on them.
Got to remind people, the drug companies were the most profitable industry in the world. We didn't tax them because they made a lot of money because they sell products we needed.
COLLINS: Is there some sort of corporate responsibility, though, when a major disaster like Katrina hits? Is it possible for them to say, OK, well, our refineries got wiped out and we weren't making very much money there.
VELSHI: There may be some stuff to talk about. There may be some way that these companies might reinvest some of the profitability. Today is not a good day for people who represent Exxonmobil and the oil and gas companies to the public. Because the public is getting angry. But they are not doing anything illegal.
COLLINS: Ali Velshi, thanks for that.
ANNOUNCER: In South Florida the President arrives. But where's the gas? Another day of long lines waiting for fuel. Waiting for supplies and above all else electricity.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have one candle that's left. I shut it off this morning because I want to have it tonight in case we, you know, the flashlight runs out.
ANNOUNCER: Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers drop as bombshell.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She felt that withdrawal was in the best interest of the United States of America.
ANNOUNCER: Not the ending President Bush wanted.
BUSH: She is going to be on the bench. She will be confirmed.
ANNOUNCER: What went wrong? We go behind the scenes for 12 crucial hours, an inside look at the unraveling of a nomination. 360 continues.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: Hurricanes have a way of leaving questions with no easy answers in their wake, question like when will live return to normal? In South Florida, many people are tired of waiting, and it's only been four days.
At this moment, the state's largest supplier of electricity says about two million people who lost power now have it back. But that leaves some 4 million people still in the start. For many, it will be weeks before the lights come back on.
President Bush visited South Florida today to survey the damage for the first time. He stopped by the National Weather Center as well there. And tonight nearly 3,000 people remain in shelters in 11 counties across Florida.
Then several thousand Americans remain stranded in Mexico. The State Department says it's helped bring home some 8,000 stranded tourists so far. The linesmen of Florida Power and Light, some 2,000 of them have been very, very busy. At last count brought all but ten of the 240 substations Wilma knocked out back on to the grid. But as we said, there are still millions of people without power tonight.
CNN's Rusty Dornin is in Miami following that story for us tonight -- Rusty.
RUSTY DORNIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Heidi, very graphic example here in Miami. This neighborhood the lights came on today, directly across the street, you got an entire block of people with absolutely no power.
Now, this is in Miami, about 40 miles from here we were up at Boca Raton today at a retirement community, very common in South Florida, of course. Very large retirement communities, more than 20,000 seniors there struggling without power. They are isolated from other neighborhoods. They have no way to cook their food. No way to refrigerate it. Many of them have not eaten very much in the last few days. The Red Cross did arrive and give them some food. They don't know when the others will arrive in terms of supplies.
Also, ice for seniors is not just to keep food from spoiling, we spoke to one man whose wife was a diabetic.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DORNIN: It's critical for you to have ice.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My wife's insulin has to be kept cold. It's very, very important to have ice.
DORNIN: And you haven't had ice for a couple of days.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No water, no food, gasoline is important, also. Very important.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DORNIN: And, of course, this dream of retiring in Florida for so many people. As I said there are many of these very large retirement communities. Now they are only dream is for survival -- Heidi.
COLLINS: Rusty, I'll give you a break there for your throat. But quickly, I'm so glad you're doing this story, because I've been wondering about 20,000 seniors in this area. Are they actually able to go door to door? I'm thinking about Meals on Wheels. Or are there organizations like that who are then going out to the homes of these senior citizens to get to them if they can't get to the lines themselves?
DORNIN: Right now, it's very overwhelming. I mean, the neighbors of these people are going into the folks that are house bound. But they have no organized way of doing this. And when I asked the one state representative maybe get high school kids. Could you get high school kid to go and give the people food. He said, I don't know if I'm going to have any food tomorrow. He said, I have absolutely no promises of food tomorrow.
So many of these communities -- this is just one community, Heidi, of 20,000 people. And this man in his district has five of those such communities.
COLLINS: Wow. Well, that is certainly a story we'll keep our eyes on. And Rusty, thank you so much.
Days before Hurricane Wilma arrived, it was clear the storm would be a task for both FEMA and Governor Jeb Bush. In the immediate aftermath, there was some glitches in getting supplies to victims. And yesterday Governor Bush said he took full responsibility for that.
Today, many of the glitches seem to be gone. Here is CNN's Jeanne Meserve.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're not getting no help over there. And this van over here, we have to come way from Buns Park (ph) over here to get ice.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you got here and there's nothing left.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nothing left.
JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Four days after Hurricane Wilma the rage has dissipated. At Florida supply distribution points like this one, the parking lot of the Orange Bowl, there were adequate supplies of water and ice and lines moved quickly.
SANDRA RANDOLPH, MIAMI RESIDENT; I don't see no reason for no one to get really bent out of shape about anything.
MESERVE: 121 trucks of water 136 trucks of ice, 27 trucks of food, were pushed into the disaster area Thursday morning by the state and FEMA. And the equivalent of another 40 truckloads was flown in. There were also innovations.
LT. CHARLIE MCDERMOTT, FLORIDA URBAN SEARCH AND RESCUE: I was actually ordering a machine that will make ice here on site so we don't have to worry about bringing in tractor trailers.
MESERVE: Needs in Florida are changing, though there are shortages of some items, the majority of grocery stores have reopened. And water is available and drinkable in most places. But the need for ice to keep food and medicine fresh will continue until power is restored.
A former FEMA official says the agency should have better anticipated demand, been more agile with supply and decentralized distribution.
I don't see this a failure any where close to the order of the Katrina problems that they had.
MESERVE: In part because of the Katrina debacle, FEMA made an extraordinary effort here. And while officials acknowledge the response wasn't perfect. They say, historically, it has been considered a success if FEMA is operational on the ground 72 hours after a disaster. They were here in 24 -- Heidi.
COLLINS: Jeanne Meserve from Miami. Thank you, Jeanne.
Of course people in Florida wouldn't need FEMA's help at all if they had their own supplies at home. CNN's Chris Lawrence looks at the importance of stocking up and why some people refuse to do so.
CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When disaster strikes, the destruction comes quickly but not the aid. Whether it's Hurricane Wilma or other recent disasters, thousands end up waiting because they didn't have the basic necessities. Florida governor Jeb Bush says the government can't do it all. When people have advance warning, they need to help themselves by getting what they need.
GOV. JOB BUSH, FLORIDA: It isn't that hard to get 72 hours worth of food and water. Just to do the simple things that we ask people to do.
LAWRENCE: Jack Drayton has lived through wars, disasters and the Great Depression. He knows he needs to take care of himself after a disaster.
(on camera): Do you count on the government to come in and help in case of a disaster?
JACK DRAYTON, RETIRED: Can't count on the government for anything.
LAWRENCE: But he and his wife don't seem to need to stock up. They only buy what they need for the next few days. No more.
HELEN DRAYTON, RETIRED: Listen, I'm 96 years old, and I've done it all these years and I never had any problem. We have had floods and all that.
LAWRENCE: It's hard to argue with almost a hundred years of experience, but the folks who run these emergency offices say you don't want to come up empty when a disaster does hit.
ANNEMARIE CONROY, CA OFFICE OF EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT: Even if you're the governor of the state of Florida and your brother is the president of the United States, it's still takes FEMA and federal assets at least three days to mobilize and be moved into an area that's survived a catastrophic event.
LAWRENCE (voice-over): Jui Willis has a young daughter, an older mother and four sisters. He's been watching what's happened after these last few hurricanes.
JUI WILLIS, STOCKING UP: That's why I'm here to make sure we have enough for at least two weeks. I'm thinking. In case we have to wait more than three days and people start dying.
LAWRENCE: Some will stock up. Others won't. And some disasters are so devastating they destroy entire homes, meaning even your best preparations could end up buried under the rubble.
Chris Lawrence, CNN, Los Angeles.
COLLINS: Coming up tonight on 360, Ms. Miers bows out. The president's choice to replace Sandra Day O'Connor decides her nomination is a burden to the White House.
Also tonight, is a special prosecutor circling Karl Rove? We'll talk to the man who wrote the book on Rove, the book called "Bush's Brain."
And a little later, making sure the screams and frights of Halloween are what they are supposed to be make believe and not real.
COLLINS: Harriet Miers has had little luck pleasing staunch conservatives. But today, she made a lot of them smile by withdrawing her nomination to the Supreme Court. Officially Miers says, she is stepping back because she didn't want the White House burdened with pressure to release internal documents concerning her work there. But as CNN White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux reports, there were plenty of other reasons for her departure.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The withdrawal comes after weeks of debilitating criticism of Harriet Miers from the right who complained her credentials weren't conservative enough. And from some on the left who viewed her as an unqualified Bush crony. But insiders familiar with the campaign to push her nomination forward, say a confluence of events Wednesday brought her doom.
The day began with a "Washington Post" report about a 1993 Miers speech reigniting a firestorm from conservatives who saw it as proof she supported abortion rights.
BAY BUCHANAN, CONSERVATIVE ANALYST: She did not have the kind of strong pro life philosophy that we had been told she did. And I think things are going to unravel further.
MALVEAUX: By midmorning, Senate majority leader Bill Frist told the president face-to-face the Miers nomination was not looking good.
A flurry of meetings took place throughout the day to assess her status. On the Hill Miers support team, Ed Gillespie, Senator John Cornyn and Federal Society Representative Leonard Leo huddled. In various circles there was talk an exit strategy might be necessary.
Just before 6:00, the group Concerned Women for America, a key conservative organization issued a press release calling for Miers withdrawal. Other conservative organizations considered following suit.
All through the day and into the evening Miers worked to complete her 60-page Senate questionnaire. Then she sat down with senior White House staff, including chief of staff Andy Card where she was given a reality check of the difficulties ahead.
Insiders say Miers was not surprised. And made the decision to withdraw on her own.
ED GILLESPIE, FORMER REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: If I had one regret in this -- the way this has come to an end, it's that she was not given that opportunity to make her case. MALVEAUX: At 8:30, she called the president at the White House residence to tell him. An hour later, Senator Frist called Card to tell him the Miers nomination was in trouble. Unbeknownst to him, Miers had already reached that conclusion.
(on camera): Late in the day, Miers was seen at the White House as she resumed focus on her job as White House counsel. And ironically, as the one who will be vetting potential candidates to replace here as Mr. Bush's next Supreme Court pick. Suzanne Malveaux, CNN, the White House.
COLLINS: And joining me now to discuss the Miers withdrawal and aftermath, in Washington, former speech writer David Frum, who is also with the conservative group for Americans for Better Justice who opposed the Miers nomination. And here in New York, CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin. Gentlemen, welcome to the both of you.
Jeff, you got to admit, some people surprised by this. A lot of people not surprised.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I think I am stunned but not surprised. A Supreme Court nominee withdrawing is simply rare in American history. So you have to be surprised. But I think what is extraordinary about this is that David Frum and others in the conservative movement without the outspoken support of the single senator basically drove Harriet Miers out of contention all on their own with the power of their arguments. And that's pretty rare. And it's quite an accomplishment.
COLLINS: And you mentioned David. In your daily diary you posted on the "National Review" online, you write that today is a great day for American democracy. What did you mean by that?
DAVID FRUM, FRM. WHITE HOUSE SPEECHWRITER: The system worked. There was a national discussion about this nomination. That it was as Jeffrey said a matter of argument. More and more information was presented, information was dug out, conservatives across the country engage in a discussion amongst themselves. And it wasn't just about ideology.
One of the most moving e-mails I got that we posted on the "National Review" Web site came from someone who said I'm a big D Democratic and a liberal. And I'll tell you, I came to the site to chortle and watch conservatives tear each other apart. And he said I was sort of surprised and impressed by how much these people cared about the institutions of the country. They didn't just want a conservative vote they want add powerful conservative voice. And as it became clear Harriet Miers wasn't it, her support melted away.
COLLINS: Well, part of the reason, Jeff, that she said she was stepping back was because she thought that by bringing up all of the documents for her involvement in the White House, it would actually put in jeopardy the executive privilege of the president. TOOBIN: I think that's a convenient excuse. If they really wanted to work out that problem they could. But I think David's allies in the conservative movement, that pretext for getting rid of their nomination does them a lot of good, because it means one of their other people they don't like, Alberto Gonzalez who was the predecessor of Harriet Miers. I think there's no way he can be nominated now, because the problem they said was insoluble for Miers has to be insoluble for Gonzalez, as well. So, I think they get rid of two moderates at the same time.
COLLINS: David, is that true?
FRUM: Actually a genuine, a very genuine problem. And it's one of the reasons why presidents have not tended to appoint their White House counsels to the court. I mean, you cannot bring these documents to the Senate. I mean, we're not talking about documents in the case of John Roberts are 20 years old. We're talking about documents that are as fresh as yesterday.
On the other hand, since nothing or very little was known about this nominee, this was the only evidence there was. So I think it was an inherent problem. I think it was one of the many reasons why she was a bad choice in the first place.
TOOBIN: David, can I just ask you something. I wondered if you're concerned about something. Do you worry that someone who is conservative enough for you may be too conservative for the country?
FRUM: I think actually when I look at the last two nominees to the court, John Roberts and Stephen Breyer. Stephen Breyer very liberal, John Roberts very conservative. I find it sort of inspiring. Because in each case, you had people who were off the center but both of them so outstanding that they were able to make the argument, look, there's Democratic president, there's Republican president. Democrats picked Stephen Breyer, the best of your team. The Republican picks John Roberts, the best of our team. And each of them get not just the votes from their own party but across the floor.
But I'm hopeful that what we're seeing here is the emergence of a new understanding, the presidents alternate. You pick the best of your team and it demands the respect of the other side. Stephen Breyer demanded and commanded the respect of Republicans.
TOOBIN: Boy, gracious in victory. I don't know. I think there's a little more down and dirty politics still to come here. But, you know, hey...
COLLINS: Interesting, too, that she will remain general counsel and have quite a bit to say about who will actually be confirmed as the next Supreme Court judge.
FRUM: Well, she is now quite an expert on what the Senate does and does not want in a Supreme Court justice.
COLLINS: To the both of you tonight, David Frum, Jeffrey Toobin, thanks a lot. Still to come tonight on 360, is the man some call Bush's brain about to be indicted? We'll talk to the author of the book by that title about its subject, Karl Rove.
COLLINS: Erica Hill from Headline News joining us now with some of the days other top stories. Hi, Erica.
HILL: Hey, Heidi.
We'll check some of the business headlines for you now. A group of retirement fund and investment companies has recovered $651 million from the bankers of the discredited WorldCom. Now, as part of the settlement JP Morgan Chase and Citigroup have agreed to petition the Securities and Exchange Commission for more disclosure by banks in public offerings.
On Wall Street today, jitters for U.S. markets on word of possible White House indictments and on the news that General Motors is facing more trouble. The Dow falling 115 points to 10,229. The tech heavy NASDAQ drops to 2,063, down 36 points, while the S&P 500 lost 12 to close at 1178.
And wanted in California, the owners of more than $4.8 billion worth of unclaimed property. The state comptroller launched a campaign today to find them. Some of the people you're seeing on the screen are among the lucky ones, Danny DeVito, he's got a $26 check waiting for him from Allstate insurance. Reese Witherspoon, about $100 at Tiffany and California's first lady Maria Shriver can claim more than $300.
Unfortunately, Heidi, my time in California did not land me a spot on the list.
COLLINS: I'm sorry about that. And I'm sure those three people very badly need that money.
COLLINS: See you again in 30 minutes. Thanks.
Well, as a story with a cliff-hanger ending, one that has most of Washington holding its breath. For the last two years, special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has been investigating whether somebody in the White House deliberately outed undercover CIA agent Valerie Plame. Tomorrow, Fitzgerald will go before a grand jury and tell what he knows. CNN has been told, White House deputy chief of staff Karl Rove could be in the firing line.
Joining me now is journalist James Moore. He's the co-author of the book, "Bush's Brain" which looks at the long and close relationship between the two men.
Thanks for being here. I want to ask you, there are two lawyers involved in the case that told CNN special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald is focusing his investigation now on whether Karl Rove actually committed perjury. Would it surprise you if Rove is indicted for perjury?
JAMES MOORE, AUTHOR, "BUSH'S BRAIN": No, I wouldn't be surprised by that. I would be surprised that at long last, he was being held accountable. He has been dissembling and spinning and distorting the facts and the truth for much of his political career and getting away with it here in Texas, and on the national level. So the fact that somebody is finally saying, OK, you have gone too far, you have overreached and we're going to hold you accountable, now that does surprise me.
COLLINS: But I don't think there's much argument that people look at this guy as incredibly politically savvy, intelligent guy. Why would he risk perjuring himself?
MOORE: Well, I think that the prosecutor is probably looking at a larger scheme of things happening, and the leak was something that may have been covering up something larger, and we're hearing a lot of noise these days in international publications about the fake Niger documents. And so it's entirely possible that maybe is prosecutor is looking beyond this. And there was a great deal at stake that might have prompted Mr. Rove to commit this act, if in fact he did commit it.
COLLINS: What kind of public defense do you think that Karl Rove's team would actually orchestrate?
MOORE: What kind of what, I'm sorry, I didn't understand?
COLLINS: Public defense. I mean, it's actually been reported, as I'm sure you well know, that his legal team is making sort of contingency plans and seeing what defense could be mounted both in court and in public. I mean, there are two issues there. What sort of defense, as far as the public defense goes do you think they could orchestrate?
MOORE: Sure. I think if you look at what they have done in the past, they are going to make a very strong attempt to sort of distort the image of this prosecutor. They are going to suggest that there was no big crime committed, that Karl in fact simply forgot. I don't think that argument works when we're talking about a man who can remember precinct results from 19th century presidential elections, to say he forgot something. But it's going to be difficult for the White House, simply because they admitted that this prosecutor was a very credible and capable man when he was appointed.
COLLINS: James Moore, appreciate your time tonight. Thank you.
MOORE: You're welcome.
COLLINS: 360 next. An unwanted scare on Halloween. Should you be afraid of sexual predators in your neighborhood? We'll look at ways to keep your kids safe.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COLLINS: Let's take a minute to find out what is coming up at the top of the hour on "PAULA ZAHN NOW". Hi, Paula.
PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, Heidi, thanks. Coming up in just about five minutes from now, some amazing video of one of the most frightening things that can happen to you while you drive. Do you know what it's like to have a deer crash through your windshield? Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's funny, that -- oh, my God!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: It's happened to a lot of us who spent time driving country roads. Tonight, consumer correspondent Greg Hunter has some advice that could end up saving your life. I don't know, Heidi, if it ever happened to you, but your instinct is to swerve away from a deer, and that's not such a smart thing to do, according to our experts tonight.
COLLINS: It happened when I was a tiny little girl, and I'll never forget it.
ZAHN: Yeah, it's pretty scary.
COLLINS: Paula, thank you. We'll be watching.
Halloween is supposed to be frightening, of course, but not in the way that many parents currently experience it, as a time of real danger to their children, particularly from sexual predators. That is why a number of states and communities have now instituted Halloween curfews, and other restrictions on the movements of convicted sex offenders.
To talk about this tonight, we're joined now live in San Francisco Bay by someone who knows more about pedophilia than most people would be willing to admit. Jake Goldenflame is not only the author of "Overcoming Sexual Terrorism," he is a registered sex offender, a man who spent time in prison a dozen years ago, after being convicted of child molestation.
Thank you so much, Jake, for being with us tonight. Let me begin by asking you, your first reaction when you heard about these Halloween curfews?
JAKE GOLDENFLAME, AUTHOR, "OVERCOMING SEXUAL TERRORISM": I thought they were unnecessary, because the whole idea of being on parole or probation is that you have convinced the authorities you can be trusted to live on the basis of rules and you don't need to be confined. This is an attempt to confine you again.
COLLINS: Well, sex offenders, though, I mean, to be fair, according to statistics that we have, are about four times more likely than non-sex offenders to be arrested for another sex crime, a repeat offense after being released from prison. So doesn't that sound like reason enough to make sure that none of them have any contact whatsoever with a child?
GOLDENFLAME: Well, that's the first condition in every probation and parole plan in the United States. I don't know of any place where you can be on parole or probation without having as your first condition you're not to be alone with any children. And if we're going to say, yeah, but we're going to make sure this time, by locking you up or confining you to your house on this particular night, what are we going to do next? Are we going to do it on Thanksgiving because we might come into contact with children at a family restaurant? Or Christmas, or Easter? Or where do we go with this?
COLLINS: But Mr. Goldenflame, let's be fair. First of all, this is a first -- this is the only holiday, if you want to call it a holiday, where children go directly door to door to the private homes of people who could possibly be sex offenders.
Second point is, you are in recovery. You are following the rules. How do you know that other sex offenders are following those rules of parole?
GOLDENFLAME: You don't. What you do is you count upon the parole officials to do their job of monitoring us. And they are pretty good at it. I want to tell you, when I was on parole, it was amazing how many people were keeping their eyes on me. I didn't learn about it until later, but parole is very careful and very good at selecting people in the neighborhood, your neighbors, people who live in the same building as you. They keep a pretty good watch. They really do.
COLLINS: Pretty good isn't good for parents. It's not good enough, I've got to tell you.
COLLINS: But let me also ask this. It's one night. I mean, why do these people, who are grown adults, care so much about Halloween?
GOLDENFLAME: I'm sorry, I don't understand your question. Which grown-up adults...
COLLINS: It's only one night. What's wrong with one night being put on a curfew, just in case?
GOLDENFLAME: Listen, you know, as far as I'm concerned, when I was on parole, I curfewed myself every Halloween. I just didn't answer any doors, because I didn't want to have any contact with children, and that's what I advise anybody convicted of a sex offense involving children to do this Halloween and any Halloween.
My objection to it is, we've made a bargain, the state and I. The state has said to me, we're willing to let you out, we are going to have you behind rules, we trust rules are enough. All of a sudden, one night we're saying, no, we're going to break the bargain after all, even though you've been behaving, we haven't had any problems, we're going to lock you up for one night. That's the state breaking its word. It shouldn't do so unless there's reason, and the police say there's never been a problem on Halloween with any of us before.
COLLINS: Jake Goldenflame, we appreciate your comments here tonight. And we'll talk to you again, I'm sure. Thanks so much.
GOLDENFLAME: Thank you, Heidi.
COLLINS: I'm Heidi Collins. CNN's prime-time coverage continues now with Paula Zahn.
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