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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees
Battle Rages Over South Dakota Abortion Ban; More Iraqi Troops and U.S. Trainers Needed?
Aired October 30, 2006 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone.
Troubling news tonight on Iraq: reports that Iraqi troops are not standing up well enough, and more Americans may be needed to prop them up.
Plus: Is the election getting tighter? Tonight -- a new look, the best picture yet of what Americans care about, and how they plan to vote.
ANNOUNCER: Hitting the stump, working the crowds. But is he helping to close the gap or will Republican voters sit this one out? New polling tonight and new answers.
Arming the enemy -- nearly hundreds of thousands of American weapons meant for Iraqi police, but nobody can account for them. Insurgents could be using them to kill our troops. And get this. You paid for them.
Plus: your campaign contributions, are they going here...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Congratulations.
ANNOUNCER: ... or here? It's enough to give you heartburn. But we're "Keeping Them Honest."
ANNOUNCER: Across the country and around the world, this is ANDERSON COOPER 360.
Reporting tonight from the CNN studios in New York, here's Anderson Cooper.
COOPER: Hey, thanks for joining us.
We begin with a potentially serious setback in the war, a sign that Iraqis forces are not up to snuff and the situation is growing critical. CBS News is reporting that General George Casey will recommend beefing up the number of Iraqi forces and doubling the number of Americans to train them.
They're talking about up to 100,000 more Iraqi security personnel. CBS is also reporting that Iraq's prime minister is telling his own close advisers that the situation is nearly -- quote -- "out of control."
CNN's John Roberts is covering developments for us in Baghdad tonight.
But we start with Jamie McIntyre at the Pentagon.
Jamie, if 100,000 more Iraqi security personnel are needed, what does that mean for U.S. troop levels?
JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SENIOR PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of all, Pentagon sources are tell CNN that they believe that 100,000 figure is very high.
Last week, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld acknowledged that he had asked his commanders in both Iraq and Afghanistan to come up with new figures for the security forces in both countries. Pentagon officials say they are contemplating now what they call a modest increase in those forces.
But, nevertheless, it is an acknowledgement that the goal of 325,000 Iraqi security forces, army and police is not sufficient, given what has happened in Iraq. And, if you have more forces, you're going to have to have more U.S. troops training them, although U.S. military officials in Baghdad point out that some of that training is also done by NATO troops. So, it doesn't necessarily mean an increase in the overall U.S. troop level in Iraq of somewhere between 140,000, perhaps as high as 150,000 troops -- Anderson.
COOPER: What does it say, though, about the seriousness of the situation on the ground, if, all along, I mean, this has been touted as the most important part of the U.S. policy, getting the Iraqi security forces to stand up? They had this number of 325,000. What does it tell us that -- that now they're saying that's not enough?
MCINTYRE: Well, it's one more tacit acknowledgement in a line of such acknowledgements over the last weeks and months that the strategy of standing up Iraqi troops in this number was going to mean they would be able to be U.S. troop cuts.
General Casey thought that was going to be the case. They have now reached the goal. The violence is worse at the moment. And that strategy is not working. So, the question is, will a greater number of Iraqi forces really make a difference, or is the real problem the fighting effectiveness of those forces? And, even if you have more, will that -- will they be able to handle on the violence?
MCINTYRE: I think that's the unanswered question.
COOPER: How -- do we know how long it takes to -- to train a new Iraqi troop?
MCINTYRE: Well, you know, it doesn't take that long to give them a uniform, give them the basic training, even to possibly equip them. And they're looking at ways of doing that faster. The real question is, will they fight and support the -- the central government? And, you know, U.S. officials point out that there are many Iraqi troops performing quite well. But there are also a large number of Iraqi troops who aren't able to get the job done.
And, in fact, there are a lot of troops who -- who want to only fight in their particular area and aren't loyal to the national government. So, that strategy has not worked so far. They're hoping that perhaps an increase will -- will make it work better.
COOPER: John Roberts is in Baghdad tonight.
John, you have been spending time with Iraqi troops. How -- how -- how are they doing?
JOHN ROBERTS, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I have.
I have spent the last couple of days with the Iraqi forces that are based here in Baghdad, going out with American Stryker units every day. And, Anderson, obviously, there's a real problem here.
Remember, President Bush said the U.S. troops will stand down as Iraqi forces stand up. There were 150,000 U.S. troops here in Iraq. That number has now tripled, when you add in the Iraqi forces, now some 450,000. And, still, American troops aren't coming home, and the violence here only seems to get worse.
A lot of these Iraqi units are starting to do much better than they were in the past. There -- there were some incompetent leaders. They, for the most part, have been weeded out. And now the structure and the organization of these brigades and battalions and divisions is beginning to get to be a little bit better.
There are some cases where the Iraqis are taking the lead. There are a few cases where the Iraqis can actually operate on their own. But, after spending a couple days in the field with the U.S. and Iraqi forces, and talking to Americans about it, it seems as though they do have a ways to go before they're ready for prime time.
ROBERTS (voice-over): In the dangerous neighborhoods of Baghdad, U.S. and Iraqi army soldiers work side by side, a clearing operation to rid the area of weapons and militia members, an attempt to break the escalating cycle of sectarian violence.
SERGEANT THOMAS VANANTWERP, U.S. ARMY: They're doing actually pretty good. I was actually pretty impressed. A little slow getting motivated, but, once they got working on it, they were doing pretty good.
ROBERTS: Homegrown security forces are not just the key to Iraqis controlling their own country. They are also the best hope that U.S. troop will one day be able to come home. But there are complaints in both America and Iraq that the process is taking too long. Iraq's prime minister, on Saturday, urged President Bush to accelerate training. And the general in charge of this Iraqi brigade says he doesn't yet have the weapons to build a complete army.
"We have enough vehicles," says General Rezak Salim (ph). "But weapons, we only have light weapons. So, we need heavy weapons or fixed weaponry."
Salim (ph), who fought the Americans as a member of Saddam's army, says, it was a mistake for the Pentagon to disband the Iraqi security forces after the invasion. The U.S. wanted to get rid of Saddam's apparatus. But Salim (ph) insists Iraq would not be racked by the current violence had the military stayed intact.
The army would have affected and controlled the situation from the beginning, he says.
(on camera): The best estimate the U.S. military has for how long it's going to take to transfer authority for security of Iraq to the Iraqi army and police is 12 to 18 months. That's what General George Casey said last week.
But Nouri al-Maliki, the country's prime minister, is complaining about that, saying, if he had the weapons that he needs, he could get the job done within six months.
(voice-over): Whether that's true is open to debate. But weapons are just one complaint you will hear when you talk to these soldiers off camera. They also gripe about bad pay, an average of $300 a month for basic soldiers.
Then, there's the lack of armored vehicles, they say, and few spare parts.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And this is a problem for the Iraq...
ROBERTS: The brigade doctor, who didn't want to be identified, complains, there's no military medical care. Wounded soldiers go to civilian hospitals, where they're at risk.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The terrorists coming to the hospital, and they kill the soldier or the officer inside the hospital.
ROBERTS (on camera): The terrorists come to the hospital...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
ROBERTS: ... looking for military personnel.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Yes.
ROBERTS: And -- and they attack them? They kill them?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, yes, sometimes. Sometimes (INAUDIBLE) happens. ROBERTS (voice-over): Accelerating training and the handoff to Iraqi forces could bring its own problems. In many areas, where they have taken control, they haven't been able to keep a lid on the violence.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want them to put a truck with some guards over here in this wood line.
ROBERTS: And it's clear from this joint operation they still need a lot of coaching. Until recently, the U.S. battalion commander says, their main job in Baghdad had been manning checkpoints.
LIEUTENANT COLONEL CHUCK WEBSTER, U.S. ARMY: It's very hard for them to come off those -- that type of tactic, because that's what they're used to. That's what they were taught. That's what they lack more than anything else, is an offensive mind-set.
ROBERTS: The Americans are attempting to turn the Iraqis into hunters, to root out the insurgents and militia members driving the violence. They all seem genuinely enthusiastic about the partnership. And why not? Each side is the best investment the other has got.
COOPER: You know, John, we heard that U.S. commander talking about not having an offensive mind-set.
The -- the frustrating thing is, it seems like the insurgents and all these militias running around, they certainly seem to have an offensive mind-set.
ROBERTS: Oh, absolutely, they do, Anderson.
They are really keeping both the U.S. forces and the Iraqi forces off guard. In that area that we were operating in today alone, just that one narrow little strip of property, there were two what they call vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices -- layman's terms, car bombs.
So, despite their efforts to secure these neighborhoods, the insurgents are still getting in with all kinds of weapons, still getting in with all kinds of explosives, and causing havoc for the people in the neighborhood.
COOPER: And the U.S. troops you were with, how confident were they with -- with the Iraqis? I mean, what they say on camera is one thing. What they say to you off camera may be another.
You know, sometimes, when the Iraqis make a maneuver that's not quite up to what the U.S. believes it should, they kind of roll their eyes at you. There was this one Iraqi fellow during that clearing operation came running down the stairs. His pocket let go, and he -- and he spilled rifle shells all over the floor, and had to spend about a minute picking all of those up. And, of course, you sort of get the looks from the U.S. soldiers like, yeesh, you know, can't these guys get it together?
But -- but, by and large, Anderson, they -- they do believe that the Iraqi forces are becoming better. They are, as I said, enthusiastic about this process. And this was a unit that is -- that's scheduled to rotate home in the next month or so. So, you know, their vested interest in it is may they have to come back again -- this is the Stryker unit that's been here for 15 months already -- may they have to come back again if these Iraqi forces are not up to snuff.
But, in the meantime, they are going home. Other people are going to take over. But they still believe in the mission. They still believe that they can get this done. It's just going to -- it's just a matter of time. The one young sergeant you saw at the very top of my piece said he thinks about 12 months before they're ready.
COOPER: All right. Let's hope it's quick.
John, appreciate it -- John Roberts reporting from Baghdad tonight.
This is all, of course, coming with elections just eight days away.
As new polling shows, and, as CNN's Bill Schneider reports, this election is all about Iraq.
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): In the closing stretch of this campaign, Democrats have a couple of things going for them. One is President Bush.
Fifty-eight percent of Americans disapprove of the president's job performance. Democrats are trying to turn that opinion into votes for Democratic candidates.
Right now, Democrats have 53 percent of the likely vote across the country. A lot of that Democratic vote is being driven by opposition to President Bush.
MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: For Democrats, it gives them an opportunity to associate that candidate with Mr. Bush and the Iraq war.
SCHNEIDER: Forty percent of Democratic voters say they are voting to express opposition to the Republican candidate. Less than half as many Republicans say their vote is driven by opposition to the Democrat.
Another factor going for Democrats, enthusiasm -- 65 percent of Democrats say they are more enthusiastic than usual about voting this year. That number has gone up in the past month. Fifty-three percent of Republicans say they are more enthusiastic than usual. That number has not gone up.
The issue driving all that negative energy? Iraq. The war remains deeply unpopular.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Iraq will lead to victory and glory for the United States, for the Iraqis, and for the moderates around the world.
SCHNEIDER: The public is skeptical. Just over half of Americans believe the United States will never accomplish its mission in Iraq.
Sixty-two percent are ready to withdraw some or all U.S. troops from Iraq. Sixty-nine percent want to see either major changes or a complete overhaul of U.S. tactics and strategy -- something the president seems aware of.
BUSH: The events of the past month have been a serious concern to me and a serious concern to the American people.
SCHNEIDER: Democrats are worried about a November surprise. A verdict and possibly a sentence in the Saddam Hussein trial could in fact come before, maybe even shortly before, November the 7th. But no one knows if that would lead to reconciliation among Iraqis or to more violence and instability -- Anderson.
COOPER: Bill, we will talk to you more in a moment.
It used to be that a Republican candidate would welcome an 11th- hour appearance by President Bush on the campaign trail. But, with an increasingly unpopular war in Iraq and declining popularity for the president, some candidates seem to be saying, thanks, but no thanks to campaign help from the White House.
CNN's chief national correspondent, John King, reports.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Anti- abortion conservative is a label Congressman Geoff Davis wears proudly, part of his closing theme in a reelection campaign that is too close for comfort.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I stuff my own envelopes.
REP. GEOFF DAVIS (R), KENTUCKY: I appreciate you doing that.
KING: The 4th Congressional district a mix of small-town and rural conservative, one of three Republican-held seats at risk in Kentucky because of doubts about Iraq and frustration with Washington.
DAVIS: I would say certainly some perception issues related to the national environment, but the great thing, our race is a local race.
KING: Translation: Don't look for the president here in the final days.
DAVIS: I think that he could probably be more useful in other districts to help some other candidates. We have got a great operation on the ground.
KING: Democrat Ken Lucas suggests a Bush visit likely would hurt Davis.
KEN LUCAS (D), KENTUCKY CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: Bush traditionally has been very popular in this district. For, the first time, our polls have shown that his negatives are higher than his positives.
KING (on camera): There's another competitive congressional race just across the Ohio River in Cincinnati, Ohio 2nd Congressional District. There, as in the Republican-held seat here on the Kentucky side, Mr. Bush carried more than 60 percent of the vote in 2000 and again in 2004. But, this year, things are very different.
(voice-over): A week before the 2002 midterm elections, Mr. Bush had a whopping 67 percent approval rating. One week out this cycle, only 37 percent of Americans approve how Mr. Bush is doing his job. And nearly six in ten disapprove.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ... who has got the kind of experience...
KING: It's not that Mr. Bush is sitting this campaign out. He has raised nearly $200 million, including a Davis event back in May.
DAVIS: We have a leader who is willing to lead from the front, who says what he means, means what he says.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
KING: But rallies like this one Monday in Georgia are much more rare. In 2002, the president visited 16 states in the final week, Kentucky among them. This year, there are seven states on his final- push schedule, which more to be added for Sunday and Monday. The seven scheduled stops all are in conservative strongholds Mr. Bush has carried in the past. Only two, maybe three, are in hotly contested races.
MARK MCKINNON, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: He does love to campaign. And I think it's a mistake for Republicans candidates to run from the president.
KING: But the war is already on the front page in many key midterm battlegrounds. Inviting Mr. Bush now would generate more headlines many Republicans would prefer to do without, leaving the president with less of a hands-on role in the campaign that will shape his final two years.
BRUCE BUCHANAN, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Where I think the lame- duck title becomes justified is if either branch of Congress swings to the other party. KING: That question will be answered in a week by voters in places where the president is not so welcome this year.
KING: And we have moved south from Kentucky, into the state of Tennessee. There's a very similar situation here, Anderson.
Spent some time with the Republican Senate candidate this afternoon, Bob Corker. The president helped him raise money some time back, but, in the final few days, he's getting help from first lady Laura Bush, Senator John McCain. He says, if he goes to Washington, one message he will have for the Republican in the White House is, think about getting a new defense secretary.
COOPER: John, we will talk to you more in a moment.
The war may be the defining issue of this campaign for a lot of voters, but not for all -- coming up, how abortion on the ballot in one state could have a profound impact on the entire country.
Also ahead tonight: following the money. We're tracking all that money being spent on elections. Where is it coming from, and where is it going to? We're "Keeping Them Honest."
Plus: the continuing fallout from Wolf Blitzer's interview with Lynne Cheney. Did you see this, about some sexually suggestive passages in her book? She says she had never written anything sexually explicit. So, we checked. We will see what we found out, coming up later on 360.
COOPER: The war is trumping just about everything this election season, with scandals and sleazy campaign ads perhaps a close second. Yet, in South Dakota, there's a ballot issue coming up over a law that would ban abortion, and almost certainly end up before the Supreme Court. Ironically, the bitterly fought campaign is happening in a state where abortions are extremely rare.
CNN's Candy Crowley takes a look.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If lawn signs were votes...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Or you can visit us at voteyesforlife.com.
CROWLEY: ... if the size of the war room were a measure, if a full-on blitz said something about turnout... LESLIE UNRUH, VOTE YES FOR LIFE: We're doing door to door. We are -- we have got radio ads, TV ads. We have postcard parties. We have home parties, where there's a DVD.
CROWLEY: ... if all that counted, then South Dakota might be on its way to banning abortion, except when the mother's life is threatened, the most restrictive abortion law in the nation. But lawn signs, war rooms and ads aren't votes. What you hear might not be what you get.
ELAINE ROBERTS (D), SOUTH DAKOTA STATE REPRESENTATIVE: I believe that our folks are working very hard. They are just not as noisy as the other side.
CROWLEY: Opponents of the abortion ban count on the unspoken.
CLARENCE KOOISTRA, FORMER SOUTH DAKOTA STATE SENATOR: The silent majority. And I do feel that there are -- throughout the state of South Dakota, there are many people like that. And I do think they are going to come to the polls in the general election.
CROWLEY: Clarence Kooistra is against abortion, but thinks the ban is unconstitutional. He voted against it when it came up in the state legislature, which is why he's now an ex-state senator and an ex- Republican.
But this debate does not fit the usual template. South Dakota is a conservative anti-abortion state. No doctor here will perform an abortion, though the one featured in this ad used to.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, AD)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I think this is the time to ban abortion on demand in our state. I don't think it's necessary.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CROWLEY: There is one clinic in Sioux Falls. It is manned by out-of-state doctors who drive or fly in to perform abortions.
Casey Murschel heads a group fighting the abortion ban. She is pro-abortion rights and a Republican. But she says the state is less Republican or Democrat, than it is libertarian.
CASEY MURSCHEL, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, NARAL PRO-CHOICE SOUTH DAKOTA: There really is a resistance to too much government, a real respect for people making their own decisions and for self- determination.
CROWLEY: She believes that silent majority.
MURSCHEL: It's my hope that they will quietly go to the polls and vote no.
CROWLEY: South Dakota seems an unlikely place to have a rumble, but it's got one. And it could start one. ROGER HUNT, SOUTH DAKOTA STATE REPRESENTATIVE: If this bill wins in this state, I think the same thing. There's going to be a very positive reaction across all of the other 49 states.
CROWLEY: Or it could fail. It's hard to figure.
COOPER: Hard to figure, indeed.
Candy Crowley joins us now from Saint Louis. Chief national correspondent John King is in Nashville. And Bill Schneider is here in New York.
Candy, what is the likelihood on the ballot initiative?
CROWLEY: I really wasn't kidding. It's very hard to tell, because, as you heard, so many people who are against the ban say, look, South Dakotans are very polite people. You go to their door, they're going to say, uh-huh, uh-huh, and agree with you, and then they're go to the voting booth, and say something else. But, again...
COOPER: Is that what's happened in past races?
CROWLEY: Well, I mean, this -- this has come to the race this time because it was past in the legislature.
So, it's just difficult to tell, on a matter that's so personal, as they really view abortion at this point, how they're going to vote. The other referendums they have had have not been this personal.
COOPER: But I meant that, in past races, have the polls been wrong? Have people said one thing to pollsters and then sort of done another in voting booths?
CROWLEY: Yes. I mean, we have seen that sometimes when you ask people would you vote for a woman. Would you vote for -- vote for an African-American?
There have been polls that show, yes, that there's a -- you know, this or that person will win. And, then, when you go into the voting booth, you find that either the margin of victory wasn't as big as it showed up in the polls, or that, actually, the person lost. I mean, that's happened in the past.
On referendums, there has been less of that, because they're sort of not asked to take controversial positions.
KING: John, Karl Rove is saying he's pretty confident about Republican chances in -- in the Congress come -- come next week.
What is he looking at that -- that the Democrats who keep talking about, you know, some sort of a sweep aren't seeing?
KING: Well, a bit of it is mechanics, and a bit of it is philosophy or psychology, Anderson.
Karl Rove is the person, the person most responsible for this turnout operation, the 72-hour Republican turnout operation, we will see kick in a few days from now.
He has convinced the party to invest the millions of dollars in developing this database. He believes it will work. So, on the one hand, he's hoping that that advantage -- and even Democrats concede, that is a Republican advantage -- takes and hold some seats that many Democrats already think they have won.
The other part of it is simple psychology. And the president is saying the same thing. If the Republicans, at -- at that level, a Karl Rove or a George W. Bush, were to say right now, gee, I think we might lose our majorities in Congress, well, that would discourage Republican turnout, and then things would be even worse.
COOPER: Talking about turnout, Bill, I mean, what does it tell you that -- that -- that twice as many Democratic voters than Republican voters are talking about voting for their party because of opposition to the other party?
SCHNEIDER: It tells you the Democrats are angry, and this is a real turnout contest between two things, organization and money on the Republican side, and real anger and enthusiasm on the Democratic side, mostly negative, mostly anti-Bush, mostly anti-war. But it's there, and it's very potent.
COOPER: Candy, if the Democrats have more enthusiasm, Republicans more money, at least in these races, which one trumps the other?
CROWLEY: Anger trumps any time. If -- if you have a voters who are passionate, they're going to get up, come rain or shine, and go to that voting booth.
It's not the same as a voting operation. As good as the Republican one is, if there are as many angry people out there as the polls indicate they are, they're going to come to the polls. And I -- if I were a politician, I would much rather have the angry voters.
SCHNEIDER: And, you know, there's also anger on the Democratic -- on the Republican side. The president was out there trying to get Republicans all energized against the Democrats, their hereditary enemy. He was saying, the Democrats are the party of just say no. If he can get those juices flowing, there's a chance that Republican enthusiasm and anger could be stirred.
COOPER: John, this may be a dumb question, but why is the Republican machine to get out the vote better than the Democrats' one? I mean, is it just a question of why can't the Democrats just get a better machine, if that's the -- what the real problem is?
KING: Well, there's no such thing as a dumb question, number one.
And, number two, it's experience. Republicans watched the Democrats for years, through the labor unions, through African- American ministers, through other groups, do a better job at turning out voters. Karl Rove was shocked, after the 2000 election and what they went through in Florida, the Supreme Court having to decide the election. So, he said: You know what? We're going to spend more money on this.
His former deputy at the White House, Ken Mehlman, is now the party chairman. They amass these voter lists. They amass the technology. And they do a much better now job -- much better job now than the Democrats. And the Democrats concede that.
One of the things Howard Dean is trying to do now is replicate how the Republicans do turnout, how they build voter files, build voter database, get every -- every information about you, not just whether you're a Democrat, a Republican, or an independent, what magazines you get, what television programs you watch. The Democrats are trying to copy that program.
But, Anderson, Candy is dead right. That's a good program. The Republicans used it in 2004 and 2006. Anger will beat it, if there's enough anger.
COOPER: Well, we will be watching.
Candy Crowley, John King, Bill Schneider, thanks, guys.
So, are Democrats ready to take control of the government? And are voters really ready for the Democrats? We're going to take a look at why many have lost their confidence in the Democratic Party. It's a CNN election special, "Broken Government: Two Left Feet." That's a little later.
First, the vice president's wife and how she got caught in the middle of a campaign brawl over politics, literature and, well, about sex, too -- that and more when 360 continues.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE SITUATION ROOM")
LYNNE CHENEY, WIFE OF VICE PRESIDENT CHENEY: That is full of lies. It's not -- it's just -- it's absolutely not true.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: But you did write a book entitled "Sisters."
CHENEY: I did write a book entitled "Sisters."
BLITZER: And it did have lesbian characters.
CHENEY: This description -- no, not necessarily. This description is a lie. I'll stand on that.
BLITZER: There is nothing in that there about rapes and brothels?
CHENEY: Wolf, Wolf, could we talk about a children's book for a minute.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: That was Lynne Cheney during an interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer last Friday. Mrs. Cheney, the wife of Vice President Cheney, an author of several children's books, went on the defensive kind of over an adult novel that she wrote more than two decades ago. It was only the latest chapter in what the vice president today called a slap down that began with a novel about Vietnam.
CNN's Mary Snow takes a look.
MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Lynne Cheney's 1981 book "Sisters" surfaced as a political issue in Virginia's heated Senate race last week. Here's how it came about.
First, Republican Virginia Senator George Allen complained about sexual references written in the novel by his opponent, Democrat Jim Webb. Webb on Friday fired back with this.
JIM WEBB (D), VIRGINIA SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: We can go and read Lynne Cheney's lesbian love scenes if you want to, you know, get graphic on stuff.
SNOW: Friday in "THE SITUATION ROOM", Lynne Cheney responded.
CHENEY: Jim Webb is full of baloney. I have never written anything sexually explicit.
BLITZER: You did you write a book entitled "Sisters."
CHENEY: I did write a book entitled "Sisters".
BLITZER: It did have lesbian characters.
CHENEY: This description -- no, not necessarily.
SNOW: But passages from the book would appear to indicate otherwise. One read, "The women who embraced in the wagon were Adam and Eve crossing a dark cathedral stage, no, Eve and Eve, loving one another as they would not be able to once they ate of the fruit and knew themselves as they truly were."
And in letters between two women: "Let us go away together, away from the anger and the imperatives of men. And then we shall go to bed, our bed, my dearest girl. How I long to see you again, to hold you, to kiss you a thousand times."
One feminist literary critic takes issue with both Jim Webb's description of the book and Lynne Cheney's. PROFESSOR ELAINE SHOWALTER, PRINCETON UNIVERSITY: I don't think it's fair to say that there are lesbian love scenes. It has a strong subplot about a lesbian romance. And in fact, the title "Sisters" suggests this.
SNOW: The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee described the book as being about brothels and attempted rapes. When Mrs. Cheney was asked about that...
CHENEY: Actually, that is full of lies. It's not -- it's absolutely not true.
SNOW: The book does reference prostitution, describes one attempted rape and mentions a character's rape in 19th Century Wyoming. The book is not officially listed in Mrs. Cheney's White House biography, and it's out of print. Some consider the book ahead of its time.
SHOWALTER: A novel is not the same as politics. The writer's imagination ought to be free, and this is quite a free wheeling book.
SNOW: In response, the spokeswoman for Lynne Cheney said, quote, "To suggest there is any comparison between anything Mrs. Cheney has ever written and Jim Webb's sexist, X-rated prose is simply false. It's disappointing that CNN feels obliged to defend Democratic talking points."
Mary Snow, CNN, New York.
COOPER: There you have it.
A stunning story coming up next. Hundreds of thousands of U.S. weapons destined for Iraqi forces are now unaccounted for. A look at what went wrong. "Keeping Them Honest" tonight.
Plus, millions of campaign dollars: where do they come from and where does all that money go? We're "Keeping Them Honest". Stay tuned.
COOPER: We've heard a lot tonight about the training of Iraqi security forces. We know it's taking longer than the U.S. military had hoped. But today we learned something even more troubling.
A new federal audit says that hundreds of thousand of weapons that the U.S. sent to the new Iraqi forces are unaccounted for. That's not all. There is literally no way to track them down because the serial numbers of the weapons were never recorded.
CNN's Barbara Starr tonight in "Keeping Them Honest".
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) BARBARA STARR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): More than half a million small arms weapons were provided to Iraqi security services, but the Pentagon's inspector general for Iraq was able to find serial numbers for only about 12,000 weapons.
Some 490,000 weapons are simply unaccounted for. No one knows if they are stolen, being used by insurgents, or still in the hands of Iraqi units.
STUART BOWEN, INSPECTOR GENERAL, IRAQ RECONSTRUCTION: We don't make any assumptions about where these weapons are in our audit. We just identify where the material weaknesses are.
STARR: Some of those half million weapons were provided by other countries, but the U.S. bought 3/4 of them for $133 million, and yet for thousands of them, no records were found at all.
The inventory includes semiautomatic pistols, assault rifles, heavy machine guns and rocket-propelled grenade launches, all vital to helping Iraqi forces fight against insurgents, militias and death squads.
The report also found in some cases there were no spare parts and no repair manuals to give to Iraqi security units.
The inspector general promises U.S. weapons provided to Iraq will be thoroughly tracked from now on.
BOWEN: My greater concern was the lack of tracking of serial numbers, but that issue has now been addressed by the multinational security transition commander in Iraq and is being done now.
STARR: But a second report raises an even bigger question: whether Iraqi security forces will be able to stand on their own with spare parts, fuel, food, ammunition, weapons and training.
BOWEN: Upwards of 320,000 Iraqi security forces have been trained to date. But if they can't be supplied and sustained in operations in the field, then we're not going to get the full value of than investment.
STARR (on camera): The inspector general report is not optimistic. It questions whether Iraqi local and national police units will be able to sustain themselves any time in the near future.
Barbara Starr, CNN, the Pentagon.
COOPER: Hard to believe.
Coming up, what is in a name? From Bagdad, Arizona, to Baghdad, Iraq. We're going to take the pulse of the war in a small town with sons and daughters now serving their country.
Also, money and elections. You send in your contributions to support your favorite candidate. What happens to the money then? Take you inside the world of campaign finance. "Keeping Them Honest", next on 360.
COOPER: Republicans may be on the ropes politically in some races, but they've been there before and the Democrats have had a tough time capitalizing on it. Tonight we examine why that is.
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CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): What is wrong with these people? From Virginia to Montana to Georgia, crack open a Democrat and they'll tell you, it's the wuss factor.
MAX CLELAND (D), FORMER U.S. SENATOR: You've got to lance that broken bubble (ph). I mean, you know, it's been a narrative for Republicans for decades now. Kind of an underlying narrative against the Democrats, that they're soft on communism and not soft on terrorism.
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COOPER: Up next, how Democrats are fighting to overcome what some call their knack for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. CNN's Candy Crowley investigates in CNN's special, "Broken Government: Two Left Feet". That's coming up at the 11 a.m. hour.
Well, right now back to the war. Whatever happens next in Iraq may hinge on what is happening now in Baghdad. Tens of thousands of American and Iraqi troops have been trying and largely failing lately to stop the chaos.
Six bombings today. Scores of people tortured and murdered every day. The work is difficult. The mission dangerous.
The news is rarely good out of Baghdad, and it is being felt especially keenly even thousands of miles away, in this case in another Baghdad, a town that shares not just the name but also much of the pain.
Here's CNN's Gary Tuchman.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're in the desert on the outskirts of Bagdad, Baghdad without the "H". Bagdad without the H-E- L-L.
This is peaceful Bagdad, Arizona, 7,500 miles as the crow flies from that other Baghdad. The Arizona Bagdadians don't just share a name with Iraq's capital; they're sharing a considerable number of their sons and daughters.
CONNIE WOOSTER, BAGDAD RESIDENT: My son's high school graduating class, I believe there were 36 kids in the class. And at the time our son was over there, I believe there were four boys from that class that were all there at the same time.
TUCHMAN: Bagdad is a copper mining town, and most people here will tell you they also consider it extraordinarily patriotic. In the post office, a display of Bagdad, Arizona, soldiers in Baghdad, Iraq. And a postal employee whose opinion about the war is very prevalent here.
JO GIBSON, BAGDAD RESIDENT: I support our government and I think we should stay there until we're done. I don't want to pull out. I think that would be the wrong thing to do.
TUCHMAN: In businesses ranging from the Copper Plate to the Miner's Diner, you hear the same.
PAM WILLIAMS, OWNER, MINER'S DINER: We can't leave until the job is done. I think it's a necessity.
TUCHMAN: The 2,700 residents of Baghdad usually enjoy the attention that comes with the town name. The high school nickname is the Sultans, complete with a genie on a magic carpet.
(on camera) But Bagdad, Arizona, did not get its name from Mesopotamian influences. Legend has it a father and son were mining for copper here in the late 1800s, and the son needed a sack for his copper. So he said to his father, "Do you have a bag, dad?"
(voice-over) Another dad says that even with wide support for the war here, some people are feeling its costs.
MARK WOOSTER, BAGDAD RESIDENT: My son was over there for nine months. It was the longest nine months I've ever spent.
TUCHMAN: Mark Wooster considers himself a patriot, but when I asked him if he still supports the war, he said...
M. WOOSTER: I'm supportive to a point but I think too many of our guys have gotten -- guys an gals over there have gotten killed. It's time to get out.
TUCHMAN: That opinion appears to be in the minority in Bagdad, Arizona. But many here say they reserve the right to change their minds, depending on what kind of progress they see in the city that shares their name.
Gary Tuchman, CNN, Bagdad, Arizona.
COOPER: That looks like a nice place to go.
Coming up, money and power. Billions of dollars will change hands this election season. Going from where -- well, from where you give them to the candidates. But what happens then? Tonight we're "Keeping Them Honest".
Plus, the Democrats can't even capitalize when it looks like they're leading. Look what they've done wrong and what they're doing to change that. "Two Left Feet" is CNN's "Broken Government" special. That is at the top of the hour.
COOPER: Well, with eight days to go until election day, this is shaping up to be the most expensive midterm election ever. According to the Center for Responsible Politics, a record $2.6 billion will change hands this election season, $2.6 billion.
The question is, where is it all going and how is it getting there? We wanted to know and thought you might like to know, as well.
CNN's Drew Griffin tonight is "Keeping Them Honest".
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If you gave Georgia Republican Congressman Tom Price a donation of $1,000, that would have covered most of his bill at this expensive D.C. seafood restaurant, or it might be the $1,000 that Price decided to send to this candidate's campaign in Indiana.
Did you give $1,000 to Democratic Congresswoman Shelley Berkley in Las Vegas? She might have used it to pay the bill at this swank Capitol Hill restaurant or it might be the $1,000 she sent to a fellow Democrat running for Congress in Florida.
We're "Keeping Them Honest" so we asked, campaign cash for fine dining or sending your contributions to other candidate in other races? Aren't these two incumbents worried about their own campaigns?
SHELLEY BERKLEY (D), NEVADA: I'm campaigning like crazy.
GRIFFIN: Democrat Shelley Berkley and Republican Tom Price are up for re-election.
TOM PRICE (R), GEORGIA: Congratulations. Keep up the great work.
GRIFFIN: But they are such shoe-ins that, on this Saturday morning, Tom Price is shaking hands and speaking to constituents, most of whom aren't old enough to vote.
PRICE: It's always wonderful to be with a group of scouts.
GRIFFIN: And in Las Vegas, Shelley Berkley says she isn't putting up a single yard sign. They're environmentally unfriendly.
BERKLEY: I'm Congresswoman Shelly Berkley.
GRIFFIN: Berkley's opponent, Republican Ken Wegner, has been so invisible that Shelly Berkeley has no reason to spend one more dime, and she's got a lot of them.
BERKLEY: Right now I have about $700,000 cash on hand. GRIFFIN: In Georgia, Republican Price has about the same and the same reason for not spending it. He is a first-term incumbent who in 2004 ran away with virtually 100 percent of the vote. And in this year's general election, he faces opposition from a newcomer.
STEVE SINTON (D), GEORGIA CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: Tony, hi, it's Steve Sinton, Democrat for Congress in Georgia's Sixth.
GRIFFIN: A newcomer with no money. Yet, Price is still raising it. He will out-raise his opponent 20-1.
(on camera) Why do you need the money?
PRICE: Well, I think it's important to -- for everyone never to take anything for granted.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): Two virtually unopposed candidates, one Republican, one Democrat, who have each raised almost $2 million this year.
Why do they really need the money? Two big reasons: money helps buy votes, of course, but it also helps buy access and, some say, influence in Congress.
Under House rules candidates can spend campaign money on almost anything that doesn't involve personal expenses.
Our two candidates do spend money. They spend money to raise money: wining and dining contributors, people who want to get close to their elected officials, get their messages heard and, apparently, get their bellies full.
According to federal campaign filings, Tom Price takes a lot of his guests to the Republican Capitol Hill Club where he spent 9,000 campaign dollars. He dropped $3,900 at D.C.'s Lounge 201; $1,256 at the Oceanaire Seafood Room. The bill at Charlie Palmer's Steakhouse, a mere $447.
Shelley Berkley has the same expensive appetite. On the road at the Drake Hotel in Chicago, the Inter-continental in Houston, $1,300 at the Blakely in New York.
Back in her district and on the strip, Berkley spent a lot, too: $13,000 at the MGM Grand, a campaign fund raiser she says that helped her raise 200,000 more dollars.
(on camera) But again, why do they need so much money if their wins are all but guaranteed? We decided to take another look at spending through the web site of the Center for Responsive Politics to see exactly where the money is going.
(voice-over) They take their cash and give it to other candidates. Berkley gave $2,000 to Maryland Senate candidate Ben Cardin. Price sent money to candidates in Kentucky, Louisiana, Pennsylvania and all these other states. It is the ultimate way to buy influence on Capitol Hill. PRICE: So in order for a team to succeed it takes individuals who have the capability to be able to assist in fund raising for other folks.
GRIFFIN: Shelley Berkley was blunt.
BERKLEY: There are major issues that impact my constituents, impact my district, and it's very important to make sure that I have friends in Congress. I think it's a good bang for my -- for my contributors' buck.
GRIFFIN: Back in Georgia, Price's opponent, Steve Sinton, is struggling to be heard.
SINTON: Money is everything that's wrong with our system.
GRIFFIN: Unfortunately, money is the system, and Steve Sinton needs a whole lot more of it if he has any chance of changing that.
SINTON: I'm asking you for another $500. If you can do it...
GRIFFIN: Drew Griffin, CNN, Marietta, Georgia.
COOPER: Well, new developments in the deadly California arson wildfire. Investigators are talking to two people. That story is next.
And this coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HOWARD DEAN, CHAIRMAN, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE: You have to be tough and smart. That is the Democratic tradition. Who is tough and smart? Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Who is tough and smart on defense? Harry Truman, Jack Kennedy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, that may be a Democratic tradition but not in recent elections. Why can't Democrats close the deal? What are they doing about it this time? A CNN election special, "Two Left Feet", is coming up at the top of the hour.
COOPER: "The Shot of the Day" is coming up but, first, Erica Hill from Headline News has a "360 News and Business Bulletin" -- Erica.
ERICA HILL, HEADLINE NEWS ANCHOR: Anderson, President Bush says the U.S. will not help Japan, South Korea and Taiwan build nuclear weapons to counter to the threat from North Korea.
The president telling the FOX News network that the United States will work with its allies on an Asian missile defense system instead. The president says the world would be better off with fewer nuclear arms in the Far East.
The Associated Press reporting tonight investigators in Southern California have questioned two brothers in connection with the wildfire that has now killed four firefighters. The men are being called persons of interest in the Esperanto fire. Local residents they say they were leaving the area where the fire began.
And on Wall Street today, the Dow slipping a little but still managed to stay above that 12,000 mark. It fell just about four points. Concerns about Wal-Mart basically flat. The S&P and NASDAQ, though, each gained 13.
And Americans, it seems, rather disappointed about opening the wallets in September. The Commerce Department says spending rose just 0.1 percent. That's the smallest increase in 10 months.
Spending on nondurable goods fell, some of that due to the lower volume and some due to lower prices for gasoline.
ANDERSON: Erica, time for "The Shot". And today, man, do we have a shot for you.
In 1960, a group called The Shadows recorded "Apache". You, of course, know that song.
HILL: Of course.
ANDERSON: It's been covered a lot of times, not perhaps quite like this.
COOPER: We found this on YouTube, Internet I.D.'s this guy as '70s Danish star Tommy Sebak (ph). Just watch it and enjoy it for a few seconds, will you? It's "The Shot".
HILL: The choreograph is really astounding, as well. And with the costumes, it's just quite happening (ph).
COOPER: He's like Doug Henning's less successful younger brother. Remember Doug Henning?
COOPER: You don't remember Doug Henning, the balloons -- the guy -- the magic guy?
HILL: No. Maybe if I saw him.
COOPER: I'm dating myself.
HILL: Not just the name. COOPER: Yes.
HILL: I'm only 12, come on.
COOPER: You probably don't even know who Shields and Yarnell are. Erica, thanks.
HILL: See you later.
COOPER: And she didn't know who Shields and Yarnell are. In case you don't know who Doug Henning is, we have a picture of him. There he is, the world of illusion. Yes, there you go.
Coming up -- what's coming up? Oh, "AMERICAN MORNING" is coming up tomorrow. They've got more on the campaign with just a week to go to election day. They're crunching some new poll numbers, the O'Briens are, Soledad and Miles, both of them and all the rest of the gang, starting tomorrow morning at 6 a.m. Eastern Time.
Thanks for watching. It's good to be back. Sorry about my little bit of a cold. Hopefully, by tomorrow it will be gone.
Next, a CNN election special, "Broken Government: Two Left Feet". We'll see you tomorrow.
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